Tuesday, April 1, 2014

So Angry.

(This is a very long post...)

My legs are so angry at me. I can't even tell you. For the past two days I've been limping around the apartment. I can't get up without help and I walk as if someone has tied my legs together - which makes it really difficult not to fall.


After none of my long runs, I've experienced such pain. At least, I know why this is. I usually stretch for at least 15 mins after my runs. On Sunday, I didn't. But we'll get to that later.

Lets talk about the run.

In case I hadn't mentioned it before, race day happened the night after the clocks were turned one hour ahead. Now seriously, who in their right mind does that?! I am convinced this was some cruel joke, because clearly, this time change was planned by someone who didn't run the Berlin Half.

Miraculously, we woke up in time, got all packed up, and hopped on the train. Lucy was the most confused pissed off dog that morning. She hates being woken up before 9am. I'm not sure she has forgiven me for dragging her outside at 7.30am that day (6.30am, if she doesn't participate in daylight savings). She has been giving me looks ever since.

When we got to the station, there were only a few runners who went on the train with us, but then there were more and more with each stop. By the time we got off to hop on the light rail, you could already tell this was going to be a packed race.

We got to the start just in time for me to get in line for the bathrooms. There were a gazillion porta potties, which was great, because the lines were still incredibly long. With my race package, I also received a bag for my clothes and a name sticker. I didn't end up dropping off my bag, but from what I saw, the drop off (and later the pick up) worked like clockwork.

We started in three waves. I was at the beginning of the third and before we even started running, we were told that the runners from Kenya had already finished more than half of the course. (Wait. What?!?!)

Leonard Komon, the runner in blue, won.
It was his very first half marathon and he finished in 59:14 - the world's fastest
debut half ever (beating Mosop's time from four years ago by 6 seconds).

They also announced that from the time of us lining up to the start of the first wave, the temperature rose by 8 degrees. So glad I chose the longer pants. So glad!

After we got moving and crossed the actual starting line, the first person I saw was Nick! He had fought his way through the crowd, climbed up on a fence or something, and was waving at me. It was the greatest feeling to see him there, cheering me on.

3 seconds after the start.

By mile 3, I had the suspicion this wasn't going to be easy. I was dying from 65F heat warm, only had half of my water left, was tired, and just wanted to go back to sleep. I was incredibly happy that there were thousands of strangers who were yelling at me to suck it up and keep going... Seriously, there were so many bands and drums set up on the sides that the whole atmosphere was just wonderful.

Nick had said he was going to come to the 4 mile marker, yet I never expected that I'd actually be able to see him - but there he was, waving and shouting and taking pictures. It was awesome!

right after the first water station (around mile 4)

Nick took these pictures from the train.

Over 30.000 runners!
I'm the one in the pink shirt.

The best thing was yet to come though. He knew that I was worried about running out of water. So at mile 8, he called me on my cell phone to let me know where he was standing and that he had a bottle of cold water for me!! He saved my life.

It even worked out that he handed me the water, I poured it into my hand bottle, and gave him the empty bottle back. (Nick was running next to me for that stretch.)

"Please recycle this bottle properly."
(It looks like I'm walking, doesn't it?!)

Many runners were carrying flags or were dressed up in costumes.

I knew that the finish was right where we started, by Alexanderplatz. There is a tall tower that you can see from afar, so I kept looking out for it... and couldn't find it. Maybe that's why the last 5 miles were just plain painful. 

When I finally spotted something tall, my heart dropped, because it was (in the distance) Potsdamer Platz, which was still about 2-3 miles away from the finish line.

I can't tell you how great it was to finally see the finish line in the distance, knowing that I was going to survive it, and then eventually crossing it. I ended up running the distance in 2:13:03 (coming in right after Komon...). It took me about 5 minutes longer than last weekend. So that was a bummer. But it was also 25 degrees warmer on race day.

As I had read before, there really wasn't any space for the runners to walk after they finished. (Not sure if this is normal, though.) We came to a full stop immediately and just stood behind everyone who was waiting for their medals.

Usually, I walk for at least half a mile after running anything beyond 10 miles. My body just doesn't do well with running for 2 hrs and then suddenly not move anymore.

Thankfully, they had really cold (alcohol free) wheat beer for us. Every runner was handed a half liter and a bunch of bananas. Before I even knew what was happening, Nick had already found me and led us out of the fenced in area. There was no place for me to stretch until about 30-45 mins after finishing.
By that time, my legs felt like they were made of concrete.

Aside from having no room to walk or stretch after the finish line, everything was incredibly well organized. Especially if you are like me and have never run a big race like this before, it really helped  that everything was perfectly planned.

As far as I can tell, there was no shortage on anything, the helpers were incredibly friendly and knowledgable, I already knew exactly where to find what along the entire course weeks before the race, and on race day, it really was to be found in the exact spot. The route was well marked and the crowd was terrific. I don't know how many high fives from 5year olds I got that day. Lots of families were out, lots of bands, lots of people holding up signs, clapping, shouting, taking pictures and videos. Around 300.000 people came out to cheer for over 30.000 runners.

I have a beer and a banana. What else do you need?!

For me, it was the best thing to know that Nick was there and the moments when I spotted him in the crowd, seeing he is my biggest fan, was the greatest feeling.

Of course there is only one way to properly celebrate surviving: with a ton of sushi, ice cream, and wine.

All in all, it was a terrific experience. Except for the pain. The pain really sucks.

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