I thought a fun segment (for me personally) would be a “blast to the past” every couple of weeks of a fun event/memory of the past, or a race report/review from different races I have done. I think this will be a fun way for me to “keep track” of these memories and hopefully tell everyone a little bit more about me!
I took my first out of the country trip back in 2011 – Jim (my boyfriend at the time, now husband!) had always dreamed of going to Oktoberfest. Once we started dating we talked about running the Berlin Marathon and following it up with a trip to Munich to attend Oktoberfest. Well the fall of 2011 this became a reality and we were joined by our friends John & Robin for both the marathon and Oktoberfest and another couple, James & Robyn, would pick us up from the airport in Munich to attend Oktoberfest!
Jim and I arrived in Berlin a day and a half before the marathon, once we arrived, we immediately headed to the expo to get our bibs and check out what an International Marathon expo looked like. It was pretty much the same as any expo we would attend in American except there was a Beer Garden that we happily sat at and enjoyed a beer before heading back to our hotel for the evening.
The next morning, the marathon had a pre-race event called “The Pancake Run” it was a 4-5 mile run through Berlin that ended at the Berlin Olympic Stadium — we actually finished the run on the track inside the stadium which was really cool. After the run there was a bunch of food but no pancakes to be found! This isn’t something I would normally participate in the day before the marathon but we figured it was a unique opportunity to see the city and shake our legs out from traveling.
The next morning was the marathon — we woke up a little nervous but generally relaxed. Since we hadn’t exactly adjusted to the time zone, we didn’t have a big time goal for the marathon — our major goal was to finish and have a fun experience running! The marathon was actually on my 27th birthday and I figured there was no better way to celebrate than to run 26.2 miles in a new country. Jim and I ran the entire marathon together and observed some things that were a little different from the typical marathon in America! First, the electrolyte drink featured at this event was Powerade Tea which was interesting — I decided not to have any since it wasn’t something my stomach was used to but Jim had some and said it tasted exactly like tea and it also wasn’t cold. Second, they gave out sponges in the participant bags which we thought was odd but we noticed along the course they had big tubs of water for you to dip your sponge in to cool yourself along the course. A good thought, but somewhat disturbing when you realized that everyone was pulling their sponges out of the sweatbands of their shorts and dipping them into these community tubs! Third, the marathon was marked by kilometers instead of miles which made it seem longer to me — I am sure this is because I’m used to mile markers but this didn’t help me out mentally at all. Finally, I noticed that there seemed to be a lot more men than women running in this marathon compared to other marathons I have participated in in the US.
Overall the marathon was really tough for the both of us, the sun was out the entire time and both of us got pretty warm. I also don’t think we were properly hydrated or adjusted to the time which didn’t help either. We did a horrible job of running the tangents and almost ran 27 miles which was .8 miles too far for me! Needless to say, I was pretty cranky when we finished and the finish was extremely backed up. It took us what seemed like FOREVER to get through the finishing shoot and get water, our medals and the mylar blankets.
Shortly after we finished, we ran into our friends John and Robin! It was a great surprise and we were able to get a couple finisher photos with them. Once we were reunited and had snapped some photos, we headed over to the beer tent where we quickly realized they were handing out ALCOHOL FREE BEER. I was extremely annoyed as it was my birthday and I had just finished a marathon and they were going to give me alcohol free beer?! Unfortunately for me, this was true as an alcohol free beer company had sponsored the race. Luckily, they had beer for purchase and Jim had remembered to bring some money with him, so the four of us were able to enjoy a beer before heading back to our hotel.
We later showered, napped and then went out for more German Beer and some DELICIOUS German food — best post marathon meal ever and the night was capped off with a champagne toast with my good friend Robin!
My first international marathon experience was definitely a tough one but I would highly recommend it to anyone traveling – it is a unique way to see 26.2 miles of a city and be part of such a big event for the City and the culture! I would definitely recommend the Berlin Marathon as long as you don’t mind big crowds! The course definitely was flat and it was a cool way to explore Berlin.
I’ll post a follow up to this at a later date as the rest of the trip included our Engagement and Oktoberfest!