Race 3 — The Berlin Half Marathon — March 29 2015

I’ve been writing so much about running and training for the Berlin Half Marathon. So its finally done and with a new personal best! I’m so pleased with myself for all the effort I put in as all those hard training runs paid off.

We left London on a very early morning flight to get to Berlin. It was exciting but also very scary for me as this was my first ever International race. Berlin is one of the top racing capitals in the world with elites coming in from all over the world to race in this fast and flat route. We got into Berlin and went straight to Flughafen Templehof to pick up my race bib for the event. The Flughafen Templehof was an old famous airport that is no longer functional but is used to host large events. There were tons of people here — to see the running expo and also to collect their bibs. Despite crowds being large, the event was so well organised and it was very easy to get to the place for collection. I collected my bib, my event bag and my chip and we looked around the expo. It was amazing to see all the running accessories on display. Different brands, shoes, clothing — total eye candy!

Flughafen Templehof

After hanging around here for a bit and getting something to eat, we went straight to our hotel. We stayed at Novotel Hotel in Am Tiergarten. This was our first trip to Berlin and we had to venture out to see some of the amazing history this city had to offer. The public transport was great so we used the overground and underground trains to move around. First stop was Checkpoint Charlie, we then explored the Holocost memorial and finally the Brandenburg gate.

Exploring the rich history of Berlin

We got back to the hotel after that to get some much needed rest and carb load before the big day. I was so worried that my nerves would keep me up all night, but I think I was so tired that I knocked off completely. It was morning and finally race day. Forecast for the day was cloudy and rain. So I dressed accordingly and stuck to my usual pre-race routines. Same peanut butter and jam sandwiches, decaf coffee and water that my body was used to. I had to use KT tape on both my feet given my injury and I was hoping that the pain could be managed. We took the train to get to the station Alexander Platz near the start point. Once we got to the station we saw huge crowds all walking to the venue. It was an ocean of people and we just followed them.

I have to be honest I had never seen such a huge event in my life. 35,000 participants and in addition to this was supporters and local crowds. Around 9:50 am I got into my pen. It was so crowded that I could hardly breathe. We had to wait for about an hour till I finally got to the start. The toughest moments for me were here — to keep my cool whilst waiting to get to the start. Once I was in the start I was really pumped and all set to run. I had read in a Paula Radcliff article that mental strategy and strength is as important as all the physical training you put in. I decided that this was the only time that I could make a change and aim for a PB. I started out strong and kept a really good pace throughout the race. I maintained 5:20–6:10 min/km split throughout the race. It was tough but I was quite determined to finish strong. The course was very flat with no surprises. Crowds and supporters were amazing and there were local music bands playing all over. I was also absolutely thrilled when I ran under the Brandenburg gate and past Checkpoint Charlie. Eventually I finished the race with a new PB of 2:08:12 which is a good 4 minutes off my Brighton half. I was really pleased and so happy to pick up my medal. I will always remember Berlin and I’m so glad it has been a part of my Forty by 40 challenge.

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