Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Das Kapital

No this post has nothing to do with Marx. I just wanted a clever title :-)

On Tuesday, I arrived in Berlin's Tegel Airport not knowing that the exit was just a few feet away after leaving the plane. The luggage carousel was right next to the gate. I happened to connect in Frankfurt and the passengers were mostly businessmen; they just had carry on luggage... and I made the mistake of following them. As it was, I had to wait until my bag was transferred to the lost-and-found to retrieve it. Aside from the inconvenience of waiting an extra 45 minutes, the minor mishap was not all that bad.

I had a full night of sleep. Awesome. Jetlag? What is jetlag?

On Wednesday I went to Postdam for a few hours. Nice little town. Ran 6 miles in the evening with two at ~7:30 pace. Still sleeping pretty well.

On Thursday I took a 2.5 hr train ride to Dresden... came back to Berlin at 9:20pm.

On Friday I ran four easy miles. Then I picked up my bib. The only thing worth mentioning is that the t-shirt was not included. If you wanted one, you had to buy it in advance. I have way too many t-shirts; I did not get one.

Saturday, I did very little walking and rested as much as humanly possible.


On Sunday morning I feel fresh and alert, ready to tackle my conservative goal of hitting sub-3:30.

I make it to the start with about 20 minutes to spare. I take one of four hammergels. I feel thirsty so I have about 10oz of water. The mass of runners is pretty amazing. European runners are faster than the average American runner. I am in the fifth corral(3:15-3:30) and it takes me close to three minutes to cross the start.

My breathing is easy; I am relaxed. I had figured that I needed just under 5 minute klips, but a "whole" five was much easier to keep track. I expected to make up the few seconds during the last 2.2 Ks. After all I was not really racing it this time and expected to have plenty of energy at 40K.

By the third K I was about 28 seconds behind and was rather close to the 3:30 pacers. Even though I would cut the deficit by a few seconds, the 3:30 group managed to inch further away from me. I just could not get into a rhythm that allowed me to stay closer; in fact, the two times I tried widening my stride, I felt the effort was too great and went back to the LR-effort.

The race was so crowded, it was difficult to get to the aid stations w/o slowing down significantly or stopping all together. I am used to getting the cups from the volunteers and keep going at the same speed as I approach the station. Not here. I was forced to grab a cup from the table. And the fact that the cups were made of plastic, made it impossible to squeezed them w/o breaking them.

By the 16th K, I knew that I was not feeling it on that day. I blame it on a rookie mistake. I blame it on poor pre-race day hydration. I should know better than that. Sure, the crowded aid stations probably took away a minute from the final time. Sure it was relatively warm. But what I feel made it tough was that my legs felt fatigued. A fatigue that I suspect was due to under-hydration.

At this point I had to make a decision. Do I keep on running or do I use a strategy that some purists may frown upon, and that is to take 60-second walking-breaks. I decide to salvage what could turn out to be a death march past 30K and opt for the breaks. They will start at 22K, and continue every three Ks.

I did stop at 22, 25 and 28. But I was feeling too tired so I cut the distance to two Ks. I was losing about 35 seconds from the original pace; acceptable to my tired body and mind. Breaks at 30, 32 and amazingly... after taking hot tea (yes, the Germans have hot tea at aid stations) I felt this boost of energy so I decided to go an extra klip to 35; it must have been the sugar in the tea. I think it was around this time that I saw this man with his legs bathed in blood (really bad chafing???); and the guy just kept on going; needless to say, I was inspired.

However, my feet were aching. And 35K is a long distance so the breaks became every two Ks once again. Even though I was still taking the same 60-sec breaks, I was running faster as my 2-K splits were very close to 10 minutes. I struggled whether to take a break at 41 or not. After all the finish was so darn close. I wussed out and took a walking break. Funny thing is that I still managed a 5:48 for the last 1.2 Ks (7:48 pace, including the 60 seconds walking).

I was so tired when I finished. But I was in one piece. No discernible injuries. Interestingly enough, the piriformis has not bothered me of late. Probably because of trigger-point therapy. I did get three separate bouts of PF flare-ups; fortunately, they did not lasts more than 10 seconds.

The following day my legs were in fairly good shape. Very little soreness, if any. Were the walking-breaks the reason? Probably so.


The numbers: 45th Marathon completed. Chip time=3:33:57 Splits=1:45:33/1:48:24 +2:51 split; Fourth Major (missing London)