Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Why I am Going to (Try) and Never Complain About Race Times Again

This is a bit of a rant for me. I will be posting my review of the Bournemouth Marathon soon. However, I felt like this one was more important.

Everyone has felt the elation of hitting a PB or smashing a goal set out for yourself. Conversely, everyone has felt the pain of failing miserably to obtain that goal. It's depressing. It's sad. We all have those moments.

What is starting to annoy me (and I will be the first to raise my hand and say I am guilty of this, and it's something I am trying to be more conscious about) are people saying, "Oh man I only did race x in time y, I am so slow and such a disappointment" when in actuality, there are people who would LOVE to have those times and just have not gotten there yet. Maybe they are happy where they are. Maybe they are starting with a different goal and working towards another one. Maybe they will never get there and can only dream of it. Regardless it's a bit callous and we should be thinking about our audience.

If you are with a close group of friends/people who know full well your goals and aspirations that's different. When I did Run the Boroughs, everyone knew about it and I shared it fully. Everyone knew my ups & downs throughout because I made my goals clear. But to just blast out on social media "OMG so slow only 1:35 half marathon time..." makes people think,"Oh I am only hoping to get around 2:00 is that slow? Am I not trying hard enough? I don't think I will ever get there..."

Maybe I am being too liberal snowflake here.  Let's look at the two statements below:

Statement One: If I ever run a half marathon that slow again I will stop running. 1:45 is unacceptable.
Statement Two: I did not achieve my target time in the last half marathon. It was incredibly warm and I was unprepared.

Which of those is more useful? Both make it clear the runner did not hit their goal, however the second one implies something was gained from the experience and it is not so negative.

I know I have done this quite recently and have almost instantly realised what I am saying is a poor choice of words. To those people I apologise. I am really trying to change how I talk about my running/racing results.  We all have different goals and aspirations and we should be respectful of those.

Some people are more 'thin-skinned' than others and in a society where people over glamourise the thin beautiful fast people we should realise that everyone is trying to better themselves. There are people who only run at night because they are embarrassed or they get taunted/harassed. We should be welcoming and encouraging THOSE people to reach their goals and aspirations in a safe environment free of ridicule. Sometimes all it takes is one comment to make someone hang up their running shoes forever or make them finally have the courage to sign up for their first 5k. Let's all try for the latter. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

2017 Berlin Marathon Review: Potential Umfällt Abound!

One of the best words in
the German language.
Many others have posted race reviews for Berlin so I will keep this one short(ish). I did not hold high hopes for my 2nd official marathon. I had just come off three weeks in the US, two of them for vacation where we visited at least 15 breweries (not that this was an issue per se, but it did involve drinking at all of them).

My training was non-existent. My farthest distance in the run up to Berlin was a 16 miler I did before leaving for the States. Sure we did some hiking and some kayaking-- but not sure I consider that training. I rolled into Berlin with a sense of apprehension that I would not do well at all.

Luckily there were quite a few people in Berlin for the same purpose (to run) - so it was great to catch up and chat to quiet the pre-marathon nerves. Also-- carb loading is better with friends :D
Hallo bär!

Did you know the day before the race they have a roller-blading/inline skating race that also follows the marathon route? I didn't. It's pretty interesting to watch so I recommend if you happen to be around.

Like Honolulu- I went sans headphones. I have really gotten used to longer distances without them and I find it much better for dialing in and not letting my pace be dictated by BPM (which can be good and bad). However, I did bring a pair in case I needed something to 'take my mind off the pain'.

I also decided to try and go for 10 minute mile pacing. It seemed like a good number to shoot for based on previous runs and would still put me in for sub 5 hr marathon time. I wanted to manage my expectations. Going into a marathon with not a lot of training can be... soul and body crushing.

The race support was awesome. The dreaded aid stations that I have heard so much about seemed to go very smoothly with no queueing. The efficiency you would come to expect from Germany.

This guy was a pro with
his Schwamm (sponge)
The music and crowd support was great as well. I am sure the weather kept some of the crowds away and of course like every other race some area are not as well supported as others, however those that were out were enormously supportive. I gave out many high fives to children. I touched many Super Mario Mushrooms and Stars for power. You can really feed off the crowd's energy to keep going. The DJ they had along the route (The Berlin Marathon Website has a map of all the music acts on the route, but I can't remember where along the course I heard him) was fantastic, and had I not had been running a marathon, I would have stopped and listened.

Does anyone else get choked up when they are running on a road that has so much history? I do. All. The. Time. I should start carrying tissues running in London. Turning onto Unter den Linden and seeing the Brandenburg Gate did it for me. It was built between 1788 and 1791 (that's pretty old). Napoleon took the Quadriga from the Tor after he rode into Berlin in 1806. The Tor survived (mostly) the WWII bombings and was one of the few structures to survive in Pariser Platz. It became a symbol of the oppression in Communist East Berlin and ultimately reunification when the Berlin Wall fell.

One happy, hungry finisher! 
History my friends. I was literally running through history. That paired with just sheer exhaustion made me start to cry.

I finished in 4hrs30minutes38seconds.

Do I wish I went faster? Sure who doesn't? But for me it was still a PB and given my terrible training I was very happy.

I passed on the poncho-- it looked not very stylish and anyways I had no room in my luggage for it. I quickly found Mr. Moose and I donned a sweatshirt which did the trick.

Do I recommend Berlin Marathon? Absolutely. I recommend Berlin in general though, it is such a cool city, constantly reinventing itself while still keeping true to its (sometimes sordid) history.

Area Where I Stayed: Moabit. Very easy to get to from TXL on the bus route and near S-Bahn. Also we walked to/from the race (~20-30 minute stroll along the Spree)
Where We Carb-Loaded: 12 Apostles. A damn good pizza/pasta place with two locations in town.
Best Thing About the Expo: Getting your bib/chip. Again, ruthlessly efficient.
Worst Thing About the Expo: Merchandise. We got there on Saturday morning and a lot of stuff was gone.
Loo Waiting Time: About 25 minutes. And there was no toilet paper left by the time I got there :(
Where We Went Post-Race: Zollpackhof. Huge beer hall with tons of outdoor seating along the Spree. The beer is Augustiner. Traditional German food. Great alternative to the Augustiner Bier Halle (which is smaller and farther from the finish)
What We Did When Not Running: Stasi Museum. Bit of debby-downer but golly I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would. If Cold War History interests you highly recommend.
Shoes Worn: Hoka One One Gaviota's

The Spree on the hobble back to Moabit-ausgezeichnet ^_^