Berlin Marathon

If you’re looking for a fast marathon in a foreign land, I can recommend Berlin.  It’s one of the 5 major world marathons in addition to London, New York, Chicago, and Boston.  And, since we were planning to come to Europe at this time anyhow, we couldn’t pass it up.
Patrick, Diane, Werner, and Henny ot the train to the start
Patrick and Diane with friends Werner and Henny on the train to the start

My left knee has been swollen for the last 4 weeks (since Ironman), so I’d only run once in the month leading up this marathon, less than ideal training.  So it was with some trepidation that I toed the start line this morning (actually hundreds of meters behind the start line in corral ‘G’ which is in the second starting wave).  Our start was at 9:10 AM, a very civilized starting time, at least an hour later than we’re used to.

Give our lack of preparation, Diane and I chose to run together, as we did in New York in 2006.  The course was pleasant, entirely urban with few long straightaways (which psychologically mask the distance) and very flat.  Berlin was originally built on a swamp so the biggest hill was about 3 meters high (only 10 feet!) to surmount the low bridges which cross the rivers and canals.  The route passed by many of the major sights of Berlin, including areas of both the former East and West Berlin.  The event was well organized with a great start and finish location in a big city park (the Tiergarten) with frequent water and food stations.

The weather was pleasant – a high of 22 degrees Celsius.  Anticipating a tough race, Diane and I drank water at every water station.  We took gels starting at 1 hour and often thereafter, knowing that we’d need every ounce of energy we could get.

At about 15 kms, my right leg developed a will of its own.  Note that this is not the leg which had been bothering me for weeks, which had hurt initially but was pain free and rock-solid after 3 kms.  Despite my best intentions, I was regularly scuffing my right foot on my step-through, and occasionally catching my toe.  Obviously something was out of whack with my stride.  This led to increasing pain in my right knee, which was in full swing by kilometer 20.  At one point I had a sudden sharp pain in this knee and it almost collapsed.  Since it was so early in the race, I was worried and took some ibuprofen to temper the pain and reduce any inflammation.

By half way through the race, both Diane and I had growing stiffness and pain in our thighs, probably the result of insufficient recent training.  To make matters worse, as the race went on, more and more of the spectators stood on the sidewalk in the sunshine drinking beer from bottles or steins, a particularly cruel form of runner harassment.

Diane ‘smelled the barn’ with 6 kms to go, and picked up her pace, perhaps a bit too soon.  The last 2 miles seemed to take forever.  500 meters before the finish we passed through the famous Brandenburg Gate, then into the Tiergarten to the finish.  Diane and I ran across the finish line hand-in-hand with arms upraised.

Another thing unique about Berlin is that they serve beer at the finish.  Alcohol-free beer, but beer nonetheless.

Drinking near beer at the finish
Drinking near beer at the finish

We capped our day by going out for dinner with a contingent of Canadians from our running group.  Italian food with, you guessed it, more beer.

Peninsula Runners Celebrating
Peninsula Runners Celebrating

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11 thoughts on “Berlin Marathon

  1. Way to go! A difficult endeavour so soon after Ironman. I did Portland 5 weeks following IM and can still remember the cramps 🙁

    I look forward to hearing more about your adventures.



  2. so nice hearing from you… there was a short blurb on TV last night about the Berlin Marathon.. glad you both completed the race.. have fun and enjoy all your travels.. things seem okay here..
    your mom is fine and far as I know all the rest of the family as well.. take from aunty bjk

  3. AHHH Pat we read this at breakfast and gave us a good smile. Thanks for the posts I am enjoying them. I am flying to Canada on the 17th of October for a month. Will be going to Chilliwack on the 30th for a week and then back to see beanie and the rest. Back home here on the 16th. Quick trip but just need a sister fix. Love you guys be safe but have a blast.

  4. Congrats Pat & Diane,

    All your hard work for the past year is behind you, now its time to enjoy your travels. I’m enjoying your blogs once again!! Keep it up!

  5. Hello Pat and Diane:
    I love to read your posts, because I can hear your voice in my head. Very enjoyable. Congratulations to all of you. A marathon is a hell of a thing, whether you’ve trained or not.
    We are having pissing rain here, so enjoy all the sites, and think of us drowned rats.
    Looking forward to your future posts.
    Hugs from Linda (and Cliff).

  6. You guys are unbelievable. Some might say crazy, but who am I to judge 🙂 ? of course you know that’s jealousy talking, right?

    Will be following your blog and look forward to more updates. Would write more, but hey, I’ve got to get to work.

    Hi Henny and Werner!

  7. Thanks to all of you for your congratulations and support. It’s been 4 days since the marathon and we’re almost recovered. I had the usual muscle soreness but Diane was VERY sore for 2 days (more than after Ironman or any of her other marathons). Very funny to watch her waddle around! By the way, this was Diane’s 10th marathon (if you don’t include Ironman) and she has completed 3 (Boston, New York, and Berlin) of the world’s 5 major marathons (only London and Chicago remaining).

  8. Congrats guys. You guys are amazing, challenging that just weeks after the ironman. Loving your blog as always. Thanks for sharing. I guess i have to get back to housework. (look at all the fun your missing ) lol.

    love ya both

    say Hi to Werner and Henny and congrat’s as well.

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