So it seems it wasn't just me. I've read accounts of other Berlin runners yesterday who found it warm. Like we all do, I was watching the weather forecast from 10 days ago and even installed two apps on my phone. They both predicted a warm run. I was with 2 mates, we got in on the team of 3 ballot this year, a new thing for Berlin. We booked flights and hotel early and got a cheap deal. The Maritim hotel was ideal for a walking journey to the start, I'd recommennd it.
Baggage drop was a bit chaotic but we got to pen D in good time and enjoyed the brilliant startline atmosphere created with big music and massive TV screens that split the main road at regular intervals through the centre of the Tiergarten where 45,000 runners were ready to go.
The start arrived and we were off. Nice wide roads meant little dodging, it helped being in the first few pens of course. Immediately I was sweating more than I would have liked and could feel it would be a warm day. Not good, I don't do heat.
After around 3 miles the first water stop appeared. I was very disappointed to see that there were plastic cups and not bottles. This was far from ideal. How would I stay hydrated on a warm day? Only option was to walk every water to ensure I got the right amount of liquid in.
My splits show every water station. It cost me around 15 to 30 seconds at each station and must have cost me 2 to 3 minutes on my time overal. However, it was the right thing to do as I would have blown up without it.
The course is flat and but where there is a slight incline you feel it as the overal flatness exagerates every bump.
Regular checks of my current pace on the watch showed I was running consistently at 7.06 pace with the occasional sub-7 split. I was running strong and happy with my strategy for the water. I had 4 gels and downed them every 10k. At 11 miles I felt weirdly weak but by 14 I had a power rush and had to hold back for a while as I knew that any heroics would bite me later.
I chopped the race up into 5k segments which helped with the mindset. The official website shows that all of my 5k splits were 22.xx. Really pleased with that. There was very little fade, barely a minute as my positive split was only 52 seconds. However, that was bl00dy hard work as the miles and heat increased. at 18 miles my thighs were shouting and I had a very small but very sharp intermittent pain in my right Achilles, again it was a case of managing it all untill the sh#t or bust miles from 22 on.
I was counting the 5k blocks and 40k couldn't come soon enough. The course goes through a succession of left and right turns near the end, finally there's a left turn and the Brandenburg gate looms large. I looked at the watch and I realised I was cutting it fine if sub-3.10 was going to happen. I looked beyond the gate and could see the finish line was further still. I hit the burners and boy did it burn!
I don't know how many I overtook in that final half mile but none overtook me! My watch shows I ran 26.4 with the final 0.4 at 6.07 pace.
Through the gate with agony etched across my face as my quads tried to break through my skin and held on hard for the finish. I crossed the line with a PB by over 2 mins (3.09.41) and a sub-3.10, a personal stat I never thought I was capable of.
I received my medal, collected my kit and waited for my mates in the now boiling sun. I downed 4 pints of Erdinger beer, alcohol free but a nice touch by the organisers as the celebrations feel like they're starting there and then.
The only downer is the lack of race t-shirt. You have to pre-order it and collect it at the expo. This is a poor show in my view, especially for a marathon major.
A couple stats I thought of on the flight home. Two mara PBs in one year - 7 mara PB attempts
Went to the track tonight intending to do an easy 3 miler with some strides in the middle mile. Coach had other ideas and I'm up for trying different thing.
Ended up doing 6 x 800m at 3.15 each rep with 2 min standinag rests. Found it very easy, chatting all the way.
So that's me fully cooked. 16 weeks of 5 sessions per week, over 600 miles, not a session missed, under 13st for the first time in years, average pace 7.33 including warm ups/downs, all of this is an improvement on the VLM16 campaign.
Whatever happens on Sunday, there's a lot of personal achievement in that last paragraph. A sub-3.10 would be nice but we all know the fickle mistress Lady Marathon can be! We'll see how it goes.