How It Feels to Run My Tenth Marathon (and the 44th BMW Berlin Marathon Review)

On September 24, 2017 I ran and surpassed my finish expectations for my tenth full marathon by completing the 44th BMW Berlin Marathon in 4:19:58.

Berlin Marathon Finisher

Berlin Marathon Finisher

My marathon “career”, hobby, passion, self torture began in 2006. Here’s a running list (while mind you there have been dozens of half marathons, 10km, mud runs, and fun runs and thousands of miles from training,  also in between):

• Boston Marathon x3: 4:13:15, 4:24:43, 4:30:45 • Cape Cod Marathon 4:15:54 • Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon 4:21:07 • Walt Disney World Marathon 4:19:12 • Chicago Marathon 4:36:30 • Paris Marathon 4:49:59 • Rome Marathon 4:38:05 • Berlin Marathon 4:19:58

While my times stay somewhat, relatively consistent within 30ish Minutes, I’ve definitely become slower over the course of time. I’m ok with that and had started labeling myself as a 4:30 marathon runner. 

I don’t like sprint work, I don’t like the feeling of my heart pulsating out of my chest, and I don’t like not having a fun time, being able to talk to others and take in the atmosphere and experience of my runcation. These are the main reasons I’ve never felt to push myself to obtain a personal record with each of my races.

Running for me, personally, is something I do for relaxing my constantly running mind (if that even makes sense) and a way to stay healthy. No more, no less. For some running is about being the best they can be every time and for others it’s learning how to complete the impossible. Running is a personal sport that can make some feel self love or self hate. The gigantic community of runners can make you feel big and small at the same time. Everyone is allowed their own reasons of why or how they run and no one has the right to judge or criticize someone’s journey. 

Berlin, particularly for me, was a huge goal to knock off my bucket list. It would be my 3rd Abbot World Major and the lottery or qualifying system to get into one of the 6 majors (Boston, Chicago, Berlin, NYC, London, Tokyo) is a huge long shot. So when I applied last November for this race, I assumed I wouldn’t get into it as I’ve been rejected from NYC and London several times in the past. I even signed up for the Rome marathon at the same time for April because I figured I wouldn’t get into Berlin. Well, luck was on my side and I made it! But I then realized I had to run 2 full marathons in 2017.

I’ve been in training since November 2016 meaning I was running 5-6 times a week, including 2x a week doing speed and hill workouts because in the back of my mind I was thinking maybe I could get a personal best on this acclaimed flat and fast course. But after Rome in April and two half marathons this summer, my body was beat. The training cycle for Berlin, specifically, was brutal. I was tired, sore, mentally drained. I wasn’t hitting all my distance targets nor completing most of the sprint work. Personally for me, more than one marathon a year tends to shut my brain and body down. I honestly was not looking forward to running Berlin about 10 weeks into my training. But then I had a mental shift to remember that having fun is more important to me than a time goal and I learned to forgive myself for having a legitimate reason to feel tired. Then the mental game clicked and I was super excited to get to Berlin.

The atmosphere of a world major marathon is one of the best experiences. The city is swarming with people from all over the world to each take on the same task. The Expo always gets you ramped up when you grab your number and buy a souvenir or two. One disappointment was that finisher shirts were not included in the entry fee. If you wanted any piece of memorabilia besides a medal, you had to spend at least 45€ and the cool jackets were closer to 90€ but that’s a rant for another day. That evening, btw my dad and most loyal spectating supporter had flown in for the marathon as well, we made our way over to Checkpoint Charlie and saw some pieces and read about the history of the Berlin Wall.

Berlin Marathon Expo

Berlin Marathon Expo

Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie

Dad and the Berlin Wall

Dad and the Berlin Wall

 

Any disappointment from the overpriced merchandise at the Expo was quickly wiped away with the free Saturday morning breakfast run. The laid back 6km run started at the Charlottenburg Palace and ended on a lap around the track of the 1936 Olympic Stadium with a breakfast included. One of the best parts of the weekend plus I got to meet up with a fellow Run Janji ambassador and my favorite British couple that I met at the Virgin Sport British 10km in July. 

Lauren and Jonathan from U.K.

Lauren and Jonathan from U.K.

Run Janji Corps Ambassadors

Run Janji Corps Ambassadors

Jennifer and I running around the Olympic Stadium

Jennifer and I running around the Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium Olympic Stadium
Olympian in the Making

Olympian in the Making


Saturday afternoon we did a 3 hour Bike Tour of Berlin. It was leisurely and educational plus we got to spectate a little of the inline skating marathon that was taking place. After our bike tour we made our way to the sombering Holocaust Memorial and Museum.

Bike Tour

Bike Tour

Brandenburg Gate

Brandenburg Gate

Holocaust Memorial

Holocaust Memorial

Holocaust Memorial

Holocaust Memorial

 

Sunday I was scheduled for the 3rd wave slot that had a 10am start, with an elite start time of 9:15. Easy subway transportation allowed me to sleep til 7am and head over around 8am. I chose not to bring a drop off bag but the organization at Tiergeten Park was well defined, although you did have to walk about a mile and a half from the closest metro stop to get towards the start. Plenty of porta potties, lots of musical and video entertainment on several big screens helped the 40 thousand of us stay occupied til the gun. 

The race went off without a hitch, The temps were cool (10C/50F) with a little rain to start. The race was crowded, honestly, in its entirety. The crowd support was awesome with live bands every so often along the way. Because Berlin is built on mostly water, there aren’t many skyscrapers and the buildings are all about the same height making everything look the same with little standing out, so it was nice to have the entertainment as a distraction. The course itself is exactly as they say, fast and flat, and my starting times were, for me, quicker than I was planning. But I felt good, so I held onto the 9:15-9:30 pace up until the half way point when I was looking for my dad. I thought to myself, “if you go fast now that means you can slow down later”. Which, btw, is opposite of what pros would tell you to do. After seeing my dad I maybe had a mile at about 11 min pace but felt good enough to go back to my original pace. The volunteers and aide stations were fantastic and I really felt energized by the crowd and cool temps. So I pushed on at this pace comfortably through the second half. Upon hitting the Brandenburg Gate, I was sprinting and smiling towards the finish knowing I would have one of my best times since 2009!

The Start of the Berlin Marathon

The Start of the Berlin Marathon

Some Motivation

Some Motivation

My new Baby

My new Baby

All Smiles

All Smiles

#10 in the books

#10 in the books

 

I’m so elated and proud to have completed my 10th marathon with my 4th best time after having a crappy training cycle. My enthusiasm is renewed and my goal will be to push forward and complete all the world majors! But first a break from racing for the rest of 2017 😉.

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How to Stay Motivated with Exercise

Social Media Takeover

Recently, I was a guest host and did a social media takeover on both Instagram and Facebook for Legend Compression Wear. (Read more about their Graduated Compression Guide at their blog Here and receive $15 off with my referral Link.) 

Legend Compression

I was asked to give tips and strategies on how to stay disciplined with exercise. So, here are my 4 ways to keep motivated!

Exercise Motivation 1

1️⃣: choose a goal, write it down, set a timeline, follow a program, tell people!

***

Pick an an event, race, or challenge – whether it be a mud run, 5k, 10 push ups or an Instagram fitness challenge with an achievable end date. Commit by journaling, letting your friends or family know, creating an accountability page, then research a program that fits your work life balance and start 👍

Exercise motivation 2

2️⃣: change your train of thought regarding exercise – think of it as an act of daily living as opposed to a chore

***

I’m going to safely assume everyday, most of us, wake up and shower, get dressed, eat, brush our teeth, automatically put on our seatbelt in the car, work, take care of children, etc…or something to this effect. We have to think about exercise exactly as we do our daily tasks, that it’s just a part of life…a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle.

If this is a challenge for you regarding time or motivation, begin with an activity that you find enjoyable and is fun. You like nature? Go for a hike. You like music? Try Zumba. Trying to keep up with your kids? Bike 🚴. It doesn’t matter if it’s morning, lunch or at night, Fit it in as if your life depends on it because essentially…it does!

Exercise Motivation 3

3️⃣: practice daily positive affirmations & actions

***

In order to get motivated to create a goal and get our mindset to believe the goal is worth doing and achievable, we need to work on ourselves to get our minds in the right place.

Everyday we should be practicing positive actions including: healthy eating, meditation, journaling our gratefulness, and/or practicing acts of kindness. When we treat ourselves gently we can then transfer it onto others as equally or far greater.

Perhaps today you’ll sign up for a race that benefits your favorite charity, compete in honor of a friend or loved one, or volunteer some hard labor to those in need. When the deed isn’t about you anymore, these small actions lead to big impacts and, in the world today, I think actions certainly speak louder than words ❤️

Exercise Motivation 4

And finally…

4️⃣: plan to reward yourself when you meet each goal 

***

You’ve heard keep your eyes on the prize? Well, why not make that a reality?! You’ve worked hard to stay dedicated, spending time and energy, you deserve a little something. Plan a spa day, a night out at your favorite restaurant or new workout gear (like Legend Compression Socks 😉). Then you can stay motivated in your new gear to sign up for your next event!

Wake up early, meditate, be thankful – Check

So last week I determined to get out of my funk. I decided to take 5 steps in doing so. Here’s a recap:

1. Wake up by 7am. 2. Eat right. 3. Communicate. 4. Meditate. 5. Journal Joyful moments

I said I would check in with you all this week if I indeed followed through with acting on my steps to less stress and more happiness. I’m proud to say I’ve done 3 out of 5.

I’m not perfect (I know, shocking) and I’m not a morning person. Getting up for 7am when I am not forced is just plain annoying. Is it an excuse that I’m probably lazy? Yes. But do I enjoy my moments in bed until 8 or 9 on non-workdays? Yes. Would I also enjoy getting up at 7am, working out, breakfast ate, and showered before 9? Sure. Am I so damn lucky (my Dmb fans, see what I did there?) that I get a choice? You betcha. I’m not disappointed that I couldn’t follow through for the week but I did get up for 7am 3 out of the 4 days so I’m not a lost cause. I figure if I was in misery and wasn’t out of bed before double digits then this should really be an area of focus, but so far so good. 

Communication was also minimal, however I did do my 30 minute daily French lessons everyday. I also hung out with Americans living in Metz (I’ve met 2 more!) for a Saturday picnic but I’ve lacked any attempt in actually speaking French. My only excuse is my irrational fear of sucking. You can’t get better if you don’t try, right? This is will be my long shot.

Eating right as I mentioned in my last blog was something I was currently doing but was trying to eliminate going out and drinking too much. With Saturday shopping for the week and Sunday meal prepping, this week so far has been a breeze. Breakfast, Lunch, dinner and two snacks are all prepped with only minutes needed to finalize the meals. Boom. I’ve also been well behaved with no weekday drinking and have decided to hold off on beer, at least until I go back to Boston on June 10.

I’ve been on point with learning how to meditate with the useful app for my iPhone called HeadSpace. You start with 10 minutes a day for 10 days. It’s a nice way to either start or wind down from the day. I will admit it was harder than I expected because my mind is so used to controlling me than me it. It teaches you how to breathe and absorb your external environment but not act on it. It is a tool to help you find mental equilibrium to keep in check our emotions. Plus there is a ton of research out there that supports this and discusses improvement in relationships, mood, memory, and attention span. 

Lastly, I did journal my 3 joyful moments in each day in my notes section of my iPhone. I was thinking about getting cute stationary but I don’t have a nightstand and why waste paper? I found this exercise to be helpful in remembering good points and bring you back from maybe thinking the day was really shitty or exhausting. 


Overall I like my new routine and going to try to stick with it. I’m happy and less stressed. Here’s hoping my extra beauty sleep and memory from meditation help me digest more French and gain confidence!

Music or Pimsleur

If anyone reading this actually knows me, they can tell others that I love Dave Matthews Band. Like, really love them. As in I’ve been to 84 shows since 1994 and traveled much of the US to follow them (West Palm Beach, FL, Las Vegas, NV, San Diego, CA, The Gorge in Washington State, Caravan tour in Chicago, etc…and of course Boston) and spent a good life savings on these memorable events. I’ve even met Boyd Tinsley, Carter Beauford, and Stefan Lessard. Had a moment with Jeff Coffin and Rashawn Ross waving to me from on stage as they remembered me in the same spot in the Pit (as close as you can get to front row while in the crowd) from back to back shows, and I’ve shaken Dave’s hand (it’s been washed but I almost had to be forced).


I’ve also probably attended more than a 1000 other concerts. I haven’t really counted to be sure, but I have my tickets stubs in a container at my dad’s house somewhere. Also, having worked at the music venue Great Woods while in high school (always will be called that as a Mansfield native), I saw shows I didn’t think I would have interest seeing but did because I was there. Going to a concert was the same as going to a movie for me while I was growing up. The point being is I really like music.


I especially live for music during any length run or gym session. However much I may seem to love working out, I need something to distract me from the pain and monotony of the program, especially if I am by myself. Motivation comes in all forms and my playlist is my savior.

Here is my current soundtrack for the days I need a boost or distraction (and you’ll notice no DMB):

  1. Here – Alessia Cara
  2. Devil’s Whisper – Raury
  3. How Deep Is Your Love – Calvin Harris
  4. Hang Me Up To Dry – Cold War Kids
  5. You and Me – Disclosure (Flume Remix)
  6. Drop The Game – Flume
  7. No Sugar Tonight – The Guess Who
  8. Open Season – Josef Salvat
  9. Jubel – Klingande
  10. Stole The Show – Kygo
  11. Lean On – Major Lazer
  12. Our Own House – MisterWives
  13. Someone New – Hozier
  14. Castle In The Snow – The Avener & Kadebostany
  15. Living Dafur – Mattafix

Most recently I downloaded the language learning audio program for French by Pimsleur. A quick synopsis of the program is that it is mostly auditory with a ton of repetition. There are 5 series each with about 30 individual lessons lasting 30 minutes each. It is recommended to do one lesson per day. There is minimal reading involved which is actually alright by me because I can read French better than listen or speak. Some of my clients have recommended it to me and suggested doing it in the car. Unfortunately, I’m not driving here while in France. So my next best option is while I run. I may look silly talking to myself and especially repeating, “Est-ce que vous voudriez boire quelque chose avec moi ce soir?”

But I have to say I’m totally enjoying it and it’s a different change of pace, but literally probably not helping my pace. I find I’m a bit slower (still due to the ribs) but I think since, also, changing my music to lessons. I think my brain has to work more resulting in slowing down the rest of my body. Good thing I’m not shooting for a Personal Record for this race.

What’s your go to music for working out? I’m always interested in updating my playlist. Leave your comments below!