Anyone can run 20 miles. It's the next six that count.
- Barry Magee

Friday, October 1, 2010

Berlin marathon review.

Now that the dust has settled its time to cast my mind back a few days and try to put into words what my Berlin marathon experience went like.

Anybody reading my blog all along will know that my plan was to run this race with a 7:15 mile a minute pace in mind. My best case scenario target was 3:10 and a back up of 3:15 if things were not going to plan.

So bottom line is that my marathon time was 3:18:58 and a chip time of 3:17:41. (Think I’ll take the chip time on this run) Now using my chip time this is an improvement on my PB of over 3 minutes. Am I happy with that result is the question that has haunted me this week. It’s a PB and a person should always be happy with a PB but to be honest in the back of my mind I feel that there should have been a 3:15 in me. Still, almost a week later the body has started to recover and it’s now time to look on to the next run.

Now for the marathon itself. A brilliant event and one I would recommend to anybody who likes the big day events. I’ve got to hand it to the Germans, it’s a very well organised event. Is there anything I would change about the day???? I don’t think so. Maybe paper cups or bottles rather than plastic cups but hey if that is the biggest problem I have in a race then I have little to moan about.

The day itself was a wet damp day. Plenty of rain just in-case I missed the Irish weather. I don’t really think this had an effect on the runners - more the spectators. Prefer to be moving than standing still. Temperature wise I would guess it was around 15 degrees. To be honest the weather was fine and I’d take that any day over the weather from last year’s Berlin marathon where the temperature was around 27 degrees.

Race start was due for 9:03 (Not 9 or five past) and after the song (This is the moment) by some German singer 9:03 arrived and the race was underway. Myself and a fellow club mate had been allocated section D on our race numbers so we were located in a good position close enough to the front. It took us just over a minute to get over the start line (Not bad considering there was 40000 in the race) and from there I started the watch.

Mile 1 to 5

Mile 1 seems to be my worse mile but considering the crowd this is probably normal. Mile 1 7:40, Mile 2 7:25, Mile 3 7:20, Mile 4 7:26, Mile 5 6:59. Now these times are from my garmin so even though the full race on the garmin shows as a 26.6 mile distance the splits give a good idea of how I was running. In summary the first 5 miles were not consistent and by mile 5 I was telling myself to concentrate on a 3:15 marathon as I hadn’t felt comfortable from the beginning.

Mile 6 to 10. Mile 6 7:18, Mile 7 7:04, Mile 8 7:05, Mile 9 7:07, Mile 10 7.28

This section of the race was probably my most comfortable period in the race. The 7.28 in mile 10 & 7:18 for mile 6 was due to a water stop so my average mileage was sub 7:07. Looking back I ask did I run a little too hard and should I have run around the 7:15 pace.

Mile 11 to 15. Mile 11 7:04, Mile 12 7:11, Mile 13 7:00, Mile 14 7:05, Mile 15 7.17

Myself and Aidan after the race.

Once again I enjoyed this section of the race. Up to the 13 mile mark I was running with Aidan (A fellow club mate) and he is brilliant at running steady. Just after 13 miles I pulled in to tie my lace and that was the last time I was running with Aidan. Up to 16 miles I could see him in the distance but around 16 miles I pulled in for water and it was bye bye Aidan. (Did get to see him on Eurosport later ha) Aidan did the first half in a time of 1:36:31 and the full marathon in 3:12:05. Now that’s steady running. He is a master of consistency. Well done Aidan.

Mile 16 to 20. Mile 16 7:25, Mile 17 7:17, Mile 18 7:29, Mile 19 7:18, Mile 20 7.23.

I have to say at this point I was feeling good. A lot better than any of my previous marathons but always thinking the real race starts at 20 miles. My mile splits were not perfect but I was happy enough overall.

Mile 21 to 26.xx. Mile 21 7:32, Mile 22 7:32, Mile 23 7:39, Mile 24 8:18, Mile 25 7.41. Mile 26 8:24 , Last .63 of a mile 5:03 ( As per the Garmin) (8:02 per mile)

I will review this in 2 sections. Up to mile 23 I was starting to feel tired but nothing major. My times in fairness give an accurate indication of how I was feeling. My average mileage had gone up to the 7:30’s but I felt that all going well 3:15 was still possible.

From mile 23 things got a little harder. My friend the hamstring decided it was time to get re- acquainted with me and give me a little cramp. A few choice words were uttered at this point. Out with the bio Freeze and lash it on. Miracle stuff but takes a little bit of time to take effect. Anyway an 8:18 mile for my trouble here. Oddly enough as I was going slower the energy was starting to build back up inside me. Next mile was back to the 7:41 and sure there is a little bit of hope left. Mile 25 to 26 my left hamstring was feeling neglected and decided to look for some attention. No problem - a second bio freeze was called into action. Needless to say my shot of 3:15 disappeared in the Berlin rain at this time. The bio freeze worked a little but anytime I tried to increase the pace I could feel my upper leg muscles tighten. So a slow run to the finish at a very controlled pace rather than a hop over the line.

Some things to learn from this race. Be confident that I can achieve my target. Maybe its mind over matter but at 5 miles I was easily willing to give up on 3:10. Looking back now if my training was right then maybe this would have not have been so easy to give up on. All my races up to now would indicate that 3:10 was possible. Self belief is a big thing I suppose.

On a positive - In all my previous marathons I have suffered badly from cramps in my calves. Not once this time did my calves give me trouble. Compression socks did the trick here. Maybe I need an all over body compression suit. At this stage maybe a costume is required to cover my face also. ;-)

Hydration and nutrition. This worked well. 4 gels and plenty of water. Maybe it’s time to experiment with electrolyte drinks. Might help with the hamstrings.

It’s time to re-look at my training once again and see what’s next for me. The one big positive this time was the two 23 mile runs. I have to say I felt a lot better past the 20 mile mark then I have done before. I put this down to the extra miles on the long runs.

So back to where I started there is a mixture of happiness and disappointment in this race for me. The week has been a mix of wondering what I could have done different. I think I will stop now and just forget it. I was tempted to register for the Dublin marathon in 3 weeks time but to be honest do I think I would run any faster in Dublin. The answer is a big NO. Yesterday morning I went for a 3 mile recovery run and boy was my energy low. After a mile I was tempted to pull up. So no point in kidding myself with Dublin now.

Time to pick back up and look ahead to the winter training and change focus. I will now look to the 10 mile series that starts in January and train hard up to that point. Look at maybe giving the marathon a shot again in April. Maybe London.

For now its 2 week away in Croatia and Slovenia so running will be light and talk of marathons will be far away.

Till next time.



  1. i know from what friends have said, Berlin gots very crowded at the start, so yes go with chip time.
    a P.B. is always very good, savour it!
    It's natural to want to run faster, we all do, but you can only give it your best shot on the day!Be poud of the day :]

  2. well done Paudie, I take 3:17 anyday. Enjoy the break

  3. A PB's a PB Paudie, don't forget it. You're moving in the right direction. Well done and enjoy the holiday.

  4. Well done Paudie. Very consistent splits and you held it together well when it started to get rough. I hear you on the plastic cups! Had a not pleasant experience with them this weekend in Koln. Blogpost to follow. Enjoy the holliers.

  5. Thanks all. Marathon is only a memory now so time to get some goals together and get training hard. Best of luck to you all over the winter.