Berlin Marathon 2012
At the end of last year after being subjected to Helen’s marathon training and related chat, I decided it would be good idea for me to enter a marathon and see how I could do with a bit of training. Turns out the Berlin marathon is the fastest course in the world so I decided to enter that and break 3 hours. Then I could retire from marathon running. (or that was the plan)
I decided to train with a training plan provided by the veritable 3KM runner Marius Bakken. It would be straightforward to sort out training week to week.. I enjoyed training with a training plan and think that this is the way to go for any level of marathon runner.
How the training went
I was quite distracted initially with the climbing adventures and the tour de mt blanc on mountain bike so July and early August was a little broken up training wise. However, the training in August / September went well without any major setbacks. All in all I think I could have trained harder for a little longer in the buildup but it was not a disaster by any means.
One mess up from my execution of the training was my pace for the effort 1 sessions (of which there were many). I tended to run these at 6:30 min/km, when they should have be run at 5min/km. This might have why I felt that the marathon training was relatively easy.
Preparation and strategy
After a half marathon of 1:27:42 I looked at the options for projecting my marathon time. Marius said something around 3:10 and Runners World were saying 3:01. I decided to go for the Runners world prediction and aim for a marathon time of 2:59:30.
Feeding strategy would be to stop at most drinks stations and drink 1/3 to 1/2 a cup of water along with SIS Go Gels every 30 mins. Garmin would be used only for reporting km pace splits and for displaying overall race time. Not any more info as this clouds the mind.
Up early and a white carb breakfast of white rolls and honey, plus a coffee and a bit of water. Drank some more on the way to the start. Due to staying near the start I opted to bypass clothing drop and thus the main start entrance and approach the start from the south. This meant that there was less queuing and more time to chill before the start.
I dont think I drank enough before starting as my pre race pee was a little yellow. Bustling around in the start area, the sub3 pace makers were in the 2:45 → 3:00 pen, while I was in the 3:00 → 3:15.
Boom, all the balloons lifted and we were off! People everywhere.. follow the blue line and try to keep to the correct pace. Dont run too fast. 4:30 for the first km was OK. My aim now was to slowly reel in the pacemaker balloons.
The first 20km went well, was relatively comfortable and I did the first half at like 1:28:30 and felt strong. Sadly this didnt last long. By 25km I could feel that I was beginning to get tired and I needed a plan. I decided to back off the pace slightly to see if this helped. When 30km rolled past, my quads were pretty sore. Was this the wall? No seemed like a pretty small one.
I needed to switch to plan B which was a sub 3:10 with km splits of around 4:30. By 35km I was finished physically but still well under the 3:10 final time. I decided to just keep going and put everything into keeping moving. Mark provided some valuable spectating to keep me inspired. A caffeine gel along with a few roadside bands succeeded in pushing me toward the brandenburg gate.
Reccying the course beforehand proved to be very helpful because I knew what was coming and how far I had left mentally. Its good to know what is coming up rather than being in the dark.
Sprinted for the last 200m from Brandenburg gate to the finish line. Surprisingly the sprint didnt feel that hard and came in at 3:09:23. The way the race went, I put everything into that time so was satisfied with no regrets.
After finishing, my body really did feel like it was about to collapse / cramp up but I kept moving and all was OK. Surprisingly, some non-alcoholic erdinger beer was a great recovery drink.
In the days after the marathon I could barely walk down stairs or sit down! Mark found this pretty amusing and one of the main recovery sessions was a visit to the Berghain world famous techno club.
I can relate to the reasons that Es Tresidder mentions in his recent marathon post for reasons to come out of the mountains and onto the roads. But also agree with the feeling afterwards that marathon running is a great activity. Read es’s post for a much better discussion on this point. Definitely more marathon racing to come!