I find a great joy in running, either alone or with a friend. I am not a huge fan of participating in races, and therefore I don’t sign up on to many, but I know that I would never run a really long distance except in a race. I did run half marathon distances when I was training for both half and full marathon, but never longer than 30K. After 14-15K I think it gets really boring, so if I want to push my limits I have to run races.
Since I love to travel it’s perfect for me to run races abroad. I find it much more fun to run in new places and it is a great way to explore them. To run my fourth half marathon, I traveled to Berlin. I traveled with my excellent running buddy, Tommy. He had run the Berlin Half Marathon before and he booked a great hotel for us, right next to the start and finish line at Alexanderplatz.
Berlin is the capital and largest city in Germany, located in northeastern Germany on the banks of the rivers Spree and Havel. After World War II, the city was divided; East Berlin was declared capital of East Germany, while West Berlin became a de facto West German exclave, surrounded by the Berlin Wall (1961–1989) and East German territory. Following German reunification in 1990, Berlin once again became the capital of Germany.
The Germans are well-known for having efficient marathon race organisations and they arrange one of the best marathon in the world. The Berlin Half Marathon is a huge race with 30 000 runners. The course is fast and you pass some of the most impressive sights Berlin has to offer; TV Tower at Alexanderplatz, Berliner Dome, Brandenburg Gate, Victory Column, Charlottenburg Palace, Kurfürstendamm with Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Potsdamer Platz, Checkpoint Charlie, City Hall Berlin. The course is also extremely wide and straight, so it doesn’t get too crowded.
The Berlin Half marathon is usually arranged at the end of March or in the beginning of April. Racing this early in the year is not ideal for me, since it’s much harder to get out and run during the winter. I am struggling to get out for a run when it’s raining sideways or it’s snowy and slippery, but this winter was mild so I could continue running.
We traveled to Berlin on a Friday at the end of March. We stayed at Park Inn by Radisson Berlin hotel.
The next day we picked up our racing numbers at the old Airport, Berlin Tempelhof, and spend some time at the EXPO.
The Berlin Half Marathon is a fast course and I was hoping for a new personal record, my goal was to run in 1:50:00. Sunday was race day and I was nervous as usual. It was great to have our hotel so close to the start, so we didn’t have to join the waiting game like the NYC Marathon. We did some warming up before we headed to our separate start corral based on expected finish time. Tommy was in an earlier start wave since he is much faster than me. I used my Garmin running watch to keep track on how fast (or slow) I was running. I knew I had to run a 5:10 pace to reach my goal. The race started at the Alexanderplatz which was part of East Germany before. We soon passed the beautiful Berliner Dom, and after 3K we ran through Brandenburg Gate.
Around 5K we passed the Victory Column and I realised that this race would not be a victory for me. I couldn’t keep up the pace that I wanted and I felt dizzy. I was tempted to stop, but I kept running, even though I slowed down and also started to spend more time at every refreshment point. Running the following 10K was the hardest part for me! I think I got to hung up on keeping my goal pace rather than keeping a pace that I could keep for the full distance. We also got headwind the first 9K…..but we passed many beautiful landmarks like the Charlottenburg palace.
At 14K I passed the KaDeWe department store and I really just wanted to drop out there, but since it was Sunday it was closed and I kept going. At least I knew where to go shopping the next day.
Mr A was cheering from home
The last 4K I manged to speed up a little bit. I felt like I was really speeding, but I wasn’t. We passed the Checkpoint Charlie at 18K and I knew that I would finish and get my medal.
It was no personal record – I finished in 1:58:25. I was so disappointed because I knew I could have done better. My friend Tommy did a great race.
After finishing I was so thirsty – I knew they were serving beer at the finish line which is pretty cool, but I wanted water. I had probably passed the water serving and I had to settle with a beer.
The half marathon course
In the evening we had dinner at the Heat Restaurant together with some other Norwegian runners. This is an international restaurant located at the Radisson Blu hotel which has he world’s largest freestanding cylindrical aquarium in the lobby.
Next day it was time for sightseeing and shopping. We went straight to the KaDeWe department store. This department store that opened in 1907 is the second largest in Europe. It has all the designers like Chanel, Gucci, Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton on the ground floor, also called the Luxury Boulevard. I splurged on a new designer bag……or two. I don’t think Tommy enjoyed this as much as I did, but he was in a good mood. We had lunch at Starbucks, before we continued our stroll around the area. We also visited the Potsdamer Platz which is quite a new area in Berlin. This area was bombed during the World War II, and it didn’t get re-built before the Berlin Wall was demolished in 1992.
Part of the Berlin Wall
We had a great weekend in Berlin with lots of good food, some wine (after the race) and shopping!! I think my race experience could have been much better if I had left my running watch at home. Early next morning it was time to say goodbye to Berlin – I hope I will be back some day to explore more of this beautiful city and maybe run a full marathon….
Thank you for reading!