Berlin Marathon 28/9/14

Report by Claire Jones

Well I did it in 5 hours 0 minutes and 23 seconds, just under 8 minutes outside of my pb and just 24 seconds outside of a sub-5 hour time. It was a very tough race mainly because I was not feeling 100%. I couldn’t believe that after all the build up and travelling to Berlin on Thursday I had started getting head cold symptoms on the Friday evening and spent all day Saturday dosed up on all sorts of pills and potions hoping it was just an allergy and would go away. I had to miss the Saturday morning leisurely 6km breakfast run that finished on the track of the Olympic Stadium as I didn’t dare risk making myself worse. I spent the Saturday afternoon from 3pm in bed resting for a few hours before going out for a healthy meal and then having an early night.

I woke on Sunday morning no worse thankfully, but still feeling congested and decided that as that was the only main symptom and was not severe, I had no sore throat or temperature, and I didn’t actually feel too bad, I would still start, but made a pact with myself that should I feel unwell as I went round I would pull out. I certainly didn’t want to be one of those awful statistics that you hear about. I made a mental note of where all the medic positions were. It was comforting that for quite some of the way an on-course doctor was cycling almost alongside me! But thankfully I didn’t need him!

As it happened it all came together and I had a great race up to 22 miles, where I was on course for beating my pb by 10 minutes. But that’s when everything caught up with me. I had missed my two longest runs from my training plan, once due to feeling unwell on the day I was due to do it, and the other due to a slight injury that I didn’t want to risk aggravating. It had been over 6 weeks since I had run more than 13 miles and even then only 17 miles so I knew I wasn’t really ready for achieving my potential and had been happy to just aim for under 6 hours, especially as it was also a hot sunny day and I knew I was not feeling 100%.

By 22 miles the muscles just above the insides of my knees were protesting so much they were going into spasm so with that and the head cold by now making me feel nauseous, and the heat of the day not helping at all, I had to walk on and off during the last 4 miles as I knew I had already taken a gamble by running in the first place and there was no point in risking my health further just to get a good time. By now it was all about just finishing. My mental voice at this point was very strong, the best ever, and that got me through the pain in my legs.

I got to 41km (out of 42.195) and managed to run all of the rest of the way from there. As I approached the Brandenburg Gate my watch said 4.57 and I tried to go faster but the wave of nausea hit me again so I had to ease off. I didn’t want to be caught on camera puking at the finish line, or worse still collapsing, although I didn’t feel that bad so I carried on running but more gently, just missing out on the sub-5 hours. But I still finished and got a new second best time.

I found my dad, went back to the hotel and had a hot bath and a good sleep and felt much better. I think my body may take revenge on me over the next few days but I shall be sensible and take it very easy, eat well and dose up on vitamins. Thankfully I don’t need to go back to work until tomorrow, and I had a great sports massage yesterday. My cold is getting better, and other than that I feel good, moving around ok.

I know what I did was not recommended but I thought carefully about it and kept a very close eye on what my body was telling me. This was my 6th marathon and I had the experience of the previous 5 to fall back on, every one of which has been different. My first was by far the toughest for many reasons (I should never have started it, never mind finished it) so this one although tough in it’s own right was nowhere near as bad and I was mentally very strong. If at any time I had felt my symptoms were beyond what was I thought was safe I would have stopped. But I’m so glad I didn’t have to! But I can’t help thinking what I could have done if I had got all my training in and hadn’t caught a cold! Roll on Paris 2015 where I hope to achieve my potential!

Berlin was a lovely place to run, the crowd were so supportive and welcoming, I don’t think I’ll go back and do the marathon again but I can highly recommend it as a place to run and a place to visit.



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