My younger and only brother was the main reason why I started running. I was the trouble maker (smoking and drinking a lot) and he was the runner. Then he got really sick. I got really upset and I found in running a way to cope with that. Ten years later and 2 healthy siblings after, we found ourselves signing up for a marathon together: my bother’s first full marathon. The chosen one: Berlin Marathon.
Berlin Marathon is one of the major marathons in the world, one of the largest ad most popular too. We registered for its lottery a year ago and waited for 2 months to know that we were both in. So we had time to train, especially for my brother who was a newbie on the distance.
Fast forward a year later, we are both flying to Germany so we can run a marathon together. My brother lives in Brazil so we both flew in to Amsterdam to meet up before going to Berlin. Our flights arrived at the same time, I spotted him on immigration line ahead of me because of his bald head. I yell his name, he smiles and waves. We both made it.
We catch up, have a coffee and as we board to our flight to Berlin, we start to make plans. We gotta hit the expo so we can rest the day before the marathon. KLM has some different plans and delays our flight, we get in late and I get very lost on the subway on the way to the expo. We were both pretty exhausted, Vitor especially. My flight was about 10 hours total but his was 15, plus the time difference…. he would get in the subway and totally pass out. We give up on fighting our body exhaustion, we grab food and get to the hotel. We pass out. Vitor was way more tired than I was, totally understandable but as the older sister, I get to take pictures and make fun of him. Sorry bro, not sorry!
The next day we agree that we should rest our legs. The plan for the week was to run the marathon and then sightseeing. However, we had already scheduled to go to the Reichstag in the very early morning before the race. We get there. Not easily, we got subway stations mixed: Budenplatz station instead of Bundestag. Yeah, I got lost again in the subway. This time I blaming the lack of caffeine in my system because I was pretty rested after all. But we made it and it was totally worth it.
A little sightseeing done and we head to the expo. What a huge expo, so many people. How many? There were 43,852 marathon runners and about 5,573 inline skaters (they raced on Saturday). So many people that most of shirts were gone, Vitor was pretty upset they didn’t have the finish t-shirt. But as I told him, no purchase of finisher clothing before finishing the race. No jinxing allowed. We spent a lot of time here, I try all the things I can and he gets annoyed, he has everything he needs. He wants to rest and he is right.
We go out for lunch. We meet a friend of mine from Atlanta and go to carbo load. We hit this really cool Italian place close to Checkpoint Charlie. That was exactly what we need, good food, good service and great price. So yummy! After that, we went to Decathlon to buy a hoodie that we could dispose on race morning. If you ever been to one these, you know it is sports peeps paradise… we got the clothes but the moral of the story is: we walked way more than we had planned. We rested for the rest of the day and ate more later.
Me and my brother study the course: hydration points, tourists things that we will run through and meeting point as we are not running together. It is his first marathon, he needs to attack it on his own. He plans to finish and depending how he feels, finish in less than 5. I think he has a good plan. He plans to have fun.
I am a little ambitious. I had previously talked to my coach and she had given me a cool of 4:03 – 4:09 which is much faster than my best marathon at Albany, GA (4:18). I was like…. well, they say this is a fast marathon, that records are broken. The male marathon world record is here, so I should be able to do my own record. I am running better, so I get a little ambitious and I write down 3 scenarios, mile by mile for the marathon. The scenarios are 3:59, 4:02 and 4:09.
I already had in my head that I wanted sub 4. However, when I look at the pace… I doubt for a tiny second, but a second later, I do think this is doable. I memorize 5k, 10k, 10 miles, 20 miles and 23 miles times for the 3:59 finish time. I visualize it and I go to bed.
My brother went to bed pretty early and slept good 12 hours. I probably slept 8, which for me, on race day is a record. I was so calm and relaxed. Being my brother first marathon, I was more worried about him being good and he totally was.
The day of: I did not have a qualifying time to start on an early wave, so my wave was the same as the first timers at 10 am. This was very different from any other marathon, I had done before. I actually enjoyed the late start. I woke up around 7 am, had real breakfast: eggs, bread and coffee. It was quite nice. As we were staying about 25 minutes away from the start, we decide to leave a bit earlier. We met my friend at 8:15am mid way and went on to the start. There were a lot of people and the energy was awesome. It totally compensated the crappy rainy weather. My brother was nervous but relaxed as we talked it through the “have fun strategy”. We agreed on a meet up point after the race. I was on a mission, sub4 mission.
We did not stand for too long before it started. As they announced that it would be starting soon, I took out my $6.99 hoodie and started to warm up. Tinny jumps, stretching and got my mental game ready to attack. I gave my brother a hug and wish him a awesome race, my friend who hadn’t trained was also nervous and they both decided to stay behind and take it easy.
Once I passed the timing mat, I was on a mission. The sub4 mission and I worked for it, I decided to control each mile and make sure I was on target on those mileage I had memorized. And I was pretty much on target but I notice that my watch started to beep for the mileage before the mile marker showed up on the way. I guess all that zig zagging added up to it, but I keep fighting. At mile 18, the wind picked up and it was a head wind. It became really hard to keep up the pace, but I was on top on it. Every mile at 9:09 or under. “Move your legs, you are close”. The acid lactic was kicking in. EVERYTHING was hurting, but as I started to see I was getting closer, adrenaline kicked in. The race went through lots of famous sights in Berlin, but I was so focused on my sub4 mission that I did not see anything. I wanted the Brandenburg Gate, where the race starts and finishes. As I could sight from far the Gate, I moved my legs as fast as I could and I started to celebrate, got a little emotional… then as I passed the Gate, I looked down the road and the finish chute is about half mile down. I smiled as I kept pushing and I realized, I wouldn’t make it. I am happy but a bit disappointed. What an awesome rainy, cold race! Time:4:01:21
Nutrition: It was on point. I had one gel prior the start and 3 gels during the race. A coke that saved me at mile 21 and lots of water.
After the race, we got to enjoy Berlin and we loved it.