|The Eiffel Tower of Berlin...|
This was the Berlin Marathon, one of the fastest courses in the world, and I was bound to get a personal record this year. Berlin is an easy weekend trip from Paris, so with no issues of jetlag, a tummy happily full of the previous day’s Chinese and Thai food, and a few gels pinned to my shorts, I was in it to win.
Well, I would win metaphorically speaking. The Kenyan who actually won had probably already finished by the time my resolve was kicking in fully. And his insoles popped out of both shoes on the way!
|The streets of Berlin...|
We were going strong for a while. I’m pretty sure he knew I was there. I’m equally as sure that he wasn’t happy about it. But I continued with him, seeing the kilometers tick by and the clock smiling at me with a brilliant pace. I felt like I was flying. Was my watching broken?
|The outfit I should have worn...|
Then somewhere past the halfway mark I lost him during a water station and I felt lost and alone, but I could see his hat in the distance and kept pace. He was there, I knew it, and I kept heading forward. The Clif Bloks I had were giving me bursts of energy, making me even happier I had them brought over from the US. The water was cool, the sun was tolerable, and the temperature was perfect. The crowds were almost as enthusiastic as last year’s in Chicago, with people along the entire route, shouting, cheering us on, making loads of noise.
This was the most amazing marathon ever.
I wanted to shake that man’s hand at the end, but I lost him. Maybe I passed him. Either way, I was sailing by happily through the late 20s and early 30s – while simultaneously fighting off any negative head games with a giant sword of positivity.
|The "Almost" Finish Line...|
My other half spotted me a few kilometers before the end, around kilometer 37, and I was absolutely beaming, I could hear the roar of the crowds in downtown Berlin as we approached the Brandenburg Gate, just a few hundred meters from the finish line.
“Keep smiling but don’t trip,” I told myself over and over again. I didn’t want to risk it all so close to the end.
|The attitude at kilometer 37....|
The tears swelled up again because I knew that at that pace I had broken 4 hours – something I had only done twice before. Tears of joy, of course, and I fought them back a bit, sailing through the gate. I was slightly confused and angered to find that the end was still a few dozen meters after the Brandenburg Gate, but I continued down to the finish line, grinning like a fool.
Then I looked at my watch. 3 hours, 48 minutes, 12 seconds it said. I hadn’t stopped it once, so I knew it wasn’t lying. I had just shaved about ten minutes off my last marathon and I felt amazing. I continued to pat myself on the back as I was given my medal, and as I steered myself towards the beer tent to claim my other reward.
The next few days were filled with sightseeing, beer, currywurst, cake, and the best doner kebab I ever ate. I feel it was all well-deserved. Berlin, you put on a really good marathon, and it will be with great pleasure that I will one day return and nab another personal record. Danke!