Posted: Yesterday at 00:31
...I think shortly after half way I saw my club mate John Gilbert (2:16 at London) who had come out to Berlin after pulling out of the race with an injury. He says I was looking strong and comfortable; I just remember trying to hang on to one of the guys I'd been with since very early on, and putting one foot in front of the other. I also remember thinking 'What would John Gilbert do?" as the negative thoughts persisted. He is a double-hard northerner! I cast my mind back to Paris (2008) where 21k - 32k was the most comfortable section of the race, to see if I could summon the same feeling on the similar wide, flat streets of Berlin, but I was kidding myself, even though I was keeping under target (17:59 split to 25k). I reached a low point at 27k. Not sure if the Garmin was playing up or whether I'd genuinely started slowing down but I saw my first "lap pace" figure in the 3:40s rather than 3:30s, and at the same time started feeling light-headed. I decided to do something a little rash and committed the classic schoolboy error of trying something new on race day: I grabbed a PowerBar gel, even though I'd never used one before. Initial thought was "uh-oh", as the effort of opening it and sucking it down completely mucked up my already laboured breathing, and I was convinced this would be the start of a miserable slow-down. However, once I got the breathing back under control I suddenly felt significantly invigorated, and picked it up for the second quickest 5k split of the race, 17:46. Weird!
It must've been about 30k that I spotted Lev ahead of us. I assumed he must've been flagging, but I knew I was running in a good group, so I was hoping he might be able to settle in with us, and he did. Again I thought back to Paris, about how I enjoyed counting down each km from the 10k to go mark... then thought back to my London course comparison (Poplar... actually I probably felt worse than this at Poplar and I'd already started slowing down. I'm not slowing down yet. KEEP GOING!) Another good 5k split to 35k (17:52) and me and Lev are running side by side (except for the bit where I decided to swap sides and clipped his heel. Sorry fella!) 7k to go, 6k to go... things were getting progressively more uncomfortable, but the doubts were fading in proportion as I felt like we were on the home straight.
The final 2/3k were a proper ordeal though. My rhythm was deserting me completely, and yet the splits were still on pace. The final straight before turning to go under the Brandenburg Gate seemed to go on for an age, but then I could sense the finish. Had a final desperate spurt to try and catch Lev for some Chariots of Fire action but he was just too strong for me. Finally had a huge feeling of relief and elation as I realised I was going to come in under 2:32, and attempted a victory wave before collapsing against the railings about ten yards over the line, then using Lev as a prop, under the guise of a man-hug!
My time of 2:31:41 (a three second negative split!!) put me 12th V40, 7th Brit (apparently) and 78th overall in the race, with a V40 UK ranking of 9th. My club mate who ran 2:32 at Berlin last year finished 78th in the race and finished with a V40 UK ranking of 9th for the year. Spooky!