Berlin Marathon Race Recap (or that time I did another World Marathon Major!)

Gosh this recap is wayyy late. Better late than never has ALWAYS been my motto though. 

So here goes.

For background, I did my first real long run July 27th (which also was the Tijuana Half Marathon) in preparation for this Sept 27th race- not ideal by any means- but pretty much necessary after a tough Boston- with some much-needed downtime from running and recovery. (Still trying to figure out how to recover from this fatigue thing well.) That being said, I was pretty realistic going into Berlin- I mean I got one 20 miler in. That’s all. There were a few 17’s and that was my long run, folks. Before M2B Marathon (BQ-ed there) and Big Cottonwood Marathon (BQ-ed there again)- I did 5-20 miles before each of those races- so going into this race with just one twenty did nothing for my confidence levels. I just feel like if you have better command of the distance you’ll have more control of the pace. Less command of distance- then later in the race it is harder to hold a pace. Either way- my expectations going into this race were pretty realistic yet hopeful.

We flew out on a Wednesday and got to Berlin Thursday afternoon. (Don’t even get me started on the drama of the Airbnb host putting down the WRONG address and the WRONG phone number. Literally so stressful thinking we were scammed out of a place to stay and would have to find a place last minute before one of the biggest marathons. Thank God, everything worked out.) When we got to our place (that didn’t turn out to be a scam) it was super sick- and really awesome to be able to have a marathon house with Adri & Eric- now my third international race with them- how great is that!!

We did the expo on Friday morning and it was in an old converted airport. It was a pretty easy process although I super disliked how we had to walk through the whole expo to get our bibs (they were really trying to make us buy stuff from their vendors- but it honestly was soo much/too much walking.  

some of my favorite people ever.

I loved that they had the other Marathon Majors up there. So cool to have done some and get to look forward to doing the rest.

back2back.

We spent the rest of the time prior to race being really chill and eating a lot (BASICALLY MY FAVORITE THING EVER. If only I could feel less guilty about doing this all the time instead of JUST before a race.)

We adjusted pretty well to the time difference so it wasn’t a huge issue. Also marathon night I slept- WHAT! I think it was because my expectations weren’t super high/it wasn’t a goal race- and I honestly just didn’t have any idea what would happen.

Well so getting to the race wasn’t too bad- the subways are free morning of race- making life super easy to get there. Tyler decided to drop off bottles for his race- so that was really the only stressful part of the morning.  (These bottles he worked on the night before ALMOST didn’t make it to the drop. They were supposed to be there by 7:30 and we rolled up at 7:45 with the truck about to drive off and we yelled for him to stop and begged him to take the bottles. He did! ;-) First win of the morning.

The corrals were easy to get to and even though the porta potty lines were ridiculously long in the main waiting area- once you got into the corral area it was way more manageable. (Nothing more stressful than panicking that you’ll still be in line when the race is about to start.)

Race Pro’s:

  • well-organized
  • beautiful, pretty flat course
  • attracts the best in the world. And me.
  • Good weather
  • Not mega expensive- I think a little over $100?? Can’t remember exactly.

Race Con’s:

  • registration is a lotto... gotta be lucky. 
  • it was like a full half mile or longer post race until you were handed water
  • and even longer to the meeting point
  • no race tshirt! Forced to buy any Berlin gear.

We got started and it was pretty perfect weather to the point that a few miles in with the sun out – it was way too hot for me. I would just pray that the course ahead would be shaded cause in the sun it felt so much harder. HA. To be honest- I haven’t really looked at my splits on my Garmin post-race-  but from what people said about my online splits is I was on pace til at least the half – I was aiming for 7:45’s which were ambitious considering my most recent half marathons weren’t at that pace- but I was hopeful that the couple weeks since those halfs were enough for some things to have shifted. I missed the first two water stations so I didn’t get water until around mile 7. Not ideal. Not end of world either. Something really random and surprising was I did not see electrolytes on the course. Tea, yes. Electrolytes, no. Weird. So no electrolytes for me for the whole race.

So random side note. I do the majority of my runs (including long runs and tempos) fasted and without Gu’s. I just feel if I can hold paces without that help- then when I have it, it’ll be an extra kick that I’ll be so thankful for on race day.  

I’m not quite sure what happened, but about mile 16 of the race my stomach was no longer on board for the race. It was pretty miserable. It hurt so bad and I was super nauseous. I literally stopped caring about the race and pace- and just wanted it to be over. Around the same time my toe also jumped on the mutiny ship. I have used the Newton MV3’s which I really liked for multiple half marathons and a marathon – so I tried out the Newton Tri-racer’s for the first time for this race (same shoe as MV3’s except the have a different upper) not thinking that this would be super risky. Unfortunately the different upper meant bad things for my toe. Every single step was piercing pain that never became numb or forgotten during the race.  (Turned out to be a mega blood blister that literally encompassed my whole toe. Hot.)

stomach was already hurting. but i'm a ham- so here's a pose.

Honestly when those two things happened, I completely stopped looking at my watch and just focused on getting through and not mentally punishing myself more than I was physically punishing myself. I was like- at least try and qualify for Boston if you’re not going to hit time goal. Didn’t happen. My stomach being in that much pain meant I had to pass all the water stations because even plain water aggravated my stomach. Geez. So I was like DYING for water. It was the worst. Super thirsty but with a stomach that couldn’t handle it.

someone just push me to the finish line. every single step was painful with my beautiful blood blister.

I got through the race somehow. It just felt neverending. And I am reminded to always be respectful of this distance that I somehow repeatedly choose to do. I was not in good shape after- with lots of people stopping me to see if I needed help. My stomach was just in intense pain. I would have just sat down and laid there forever if not for the fact that I had no clue how Tyler’s race went. Super anxious because on course I literally saw his bottles at all of the fluid tables and I equated him not picking up the bottles with his race falling apart and all I could do was pray for him during the race that it was going better than mine. Best moment of the race was finding out that he did a 2:23. Proudest girlfriend.

So what are my takeaways from this race?

-       Do the dress rehearsal. I’ll practice fueling at least a few times prior to raceday. I assumed because this was my fueling strategy for last several races that it will work for this one- but our bodies are constantly changing so I think it would be helpful to have a dress rehearsal prior to raceday. It definitely is stressful to think that after this many races I don’t have fueling down pat, but I’m hopeful I can figure out a solution before Tokyo that works so that my stomach doesn’t hinder my race.

-       No new friends. Or shoes. I have been SUPER lucky and have used new shoes for SO many races and never had any issues. This is my first bout of it. I’m lucky it wasn’t for a goal race because that would be even more devastating. But bad enough that it was for a marathon, because geez- that is a hard lesson to learn for a long ways.

-       Be realistic with race goals taking into account how training has been going. I felt like I was- and I definitely think there is a balance between realistic and downright negative. But I maybe could have adjusted goal pace a bit since I’m still (slowly) coming back.

-       Be thankful. I get to run. Maybe it’s not as fast as I would have hoped last year to be running, but it’s still running. And I get to travel to way cool places to do these runs. Such a blessing.

Super thankful for the chance to run in Berlin.. and for even getting into the lottery. I mean this time last year, Tyler and I were both hoping to get in... as single people. How crazy that we both did... and then went together. ;-) Life IS pretty great- even if my marathon wasn't perfect. 

And then after the race, as a reward for 26.2 miles of WORK, we did BULGARIAAAA...

and then Turkey. 

Training for TOKYO starts now, effectively. I've taken a week off from running and done a couple weeks of chiller running and this weekend I'll sit down with Tyler and work through a schedule (that takes into account the MULTIPLE weekends where things aren't exactly perfect to get my runs in: weddings, holidays, travel) but ya know- it's just running, and it's just a part of my life and I'm thankful for all the great things I get to do that make my life so much fuller. ;-)

Have a great run today!