Sunday, September 20

Post Marathon - Shyst!


Sunday morning I’m up at 6AM (5AM London) following a restless night. My mind and spirit ready to run 26+ miles and my body seems reasonably Ok. Even my achillies being agreeable – perhaps it is the adrenaline that makes their irritation go away. So .. after breakfast I spill onto Potsdam Platz and enjoy the luxury of walking to the start-line – no subway or bus or weird logistics, which is a good way to begin.

The sun coming up but still dark yet 1,000s of runners head in one direction: to the starting gate. Oh, the humanity. I pass beside the famous Brandenburg Gate along with everybody else then sit for an hour on the steps of the Reichstag. A park takes the inflow and bag checks just beyond. Soon later, I make my way to the course. Temperature warm for a marathon – maybe 17 or 18 degrees – and the excitement palpable. As always, the toilet lines forever and I feel sorry for the women, who comprise maybe 80%. Us dudes just piss wherever like the dogs. 

I’m in stall “C” or three from the front where the magnificent Haile Gabreslysee most assuredly lined up with the elite runners. My group anticipates sub-three hours and a fit, healthy lot. Many, I notice, have shaved their legs. Maybe this a German thing. With ten minutes to go, the loudspeakers play Wagner and announce “welcome” from every language on the globe. Then it is all 10-9-8 ... and we are off!

So the first thing I have to say is that A) one knows inside ten miles if the day is The Day; and B) you cannot fool the marathon. Unfortunately for me, a rythem never found hold, which is what the first half of the race about. At this stage, I would expect to enter a painless, gliding state – I could just as easily be reading a book or watching TV let alone doing a long run. And then the challenge to simply tune out all else. Well, by 10K I knew I was in trouble and at 20K, self-loathing. I got through that stage by 30K and then it really became miserable.

Once off my 3-hour target, I decided to walk if need be and boy did it need be. My Achilles returned with a vengeance and then nails into my upper legs and calves. After 20, I was focused on one-foot-in-front-of-the-other and even hummed this to myself for a bit. Then the wheels came off and there I was in an Aid station (same as London) and then a bar when I couldn’t find a water station. I had to lay down and put my feet on a chair – which the Sunday morning drinking-smoking Krauts thought pretty funny. Fuckers. Traumatic. Surreal.

And then finally it is over.