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 

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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!

Summer “Time”

I wanted to quickly recap my day trip to London. I had won an entry to participate in the Virgin Sport British 10k from an Instagram giveaway by @themarathonmarcus.

I was excited to get a little getaway with a shorter distance run while taking in all the attractions of London. At the same time, I was meeting up with a few runners from the Instagram community as well.

I found a cheap flight with Ryan Air and made my way over. After taking a bus into the city at 5:30am, I found I almost had the city to myself. It was quiet, after the Pride celebration, with empty streets. I had an instant moment of tranquility, feeling like I had the place to myself; it was nice thought. It quickly vanished as I made my way to the start of Virgin Sports, who were putting on this event. The win not only got me a bib into the race but we had special VIP treatment as we were assigned a special place with the media center. At the media center, we were allowed to have a meet and greet with Mary Wittenberg, the CEO of Virgin Sports. Her enthusiasm and passion to get a movement of people getting involved in sport was absolutely contagious. She was humble, friendly and made each of us feel like we were making a difference by participating, with a sense of calmness during such an important day that she was directing. I don’t know how she does it but I want to be like her when I grow up!

The race was big with over 12,500 participants filling the streets near Green Park. There were bands and spectators along the entire route which brought us winding through the city and past sites like Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, along the Thames, up past the London eye and Big Ben. And although it was hot, there was shade for the first 5k and bottled water along the course. The best part was the runners I met up with (@themarathonmarcus, @xpatrunner, @runyourmindfree, @confi_x, @jonathan.barr) stuck together. For some, it was a quicker pace and others it was slower but together we made this a fun run!

That’s the best part about running, you can do it for competition and there are times you do it to motivate others. It’s your sport! 

Today I’m relaxing at home with my new kitten, Brady and reveling in the Sunday Funday I had. It inspires me to stay motivated for my marathon training towards Berlin. Time will tell if I set a personal best or not. 

Speaking of “time”, in the meantime, you can treat yourself and take advantage of  the Amazon Prime sale tonight and tomorrow and get this Jord Wood Watch Frankie Series at 30% discount!

JORD Wooden Wrist Watches for Women – Frankie 35mm Series / Wood Watch Band / Wood Bezel / Analog Quartz Movement – Includes Wood Watch Box (Zebrawood & Champagne)

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Post Race Blues. Is that a thing?

3 weeks ago I ran my 8th marathon. For 9 days after I had family in town to occupy my time and help me recover. 10 days later I ran for the first time following the marathon. I’m currently participating in my 2nd week of a combination HIIT (high intensity interval training), weight training, core work with Tony Horton’s 22 minute hard core and 3x run a week. I’m getting a groove back but I’m also feeling like I’m missing something.


I wouldn’t say I’m suffering from depression in my current state. I know this is a medical diagnosis, and actually yes, I was diagnosed by my PCP and treated with medication and psychotherapy in college. Thankfully, I have been off medications since college with self-management of exercise, meditation, and improved nutrition without any setbacks (treatments vary from person to person). Depression is a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors and for some medication is one of the treatments necessary to improve one’s quality of life. However, do I think some physicians know a “little about a lot of things” and over prescribe without getting to the root or seeking out specialists, maybe. But I’m going off topic.

I’m no specialist on sport psychology but I can just tell you my feelings post-race, as a simple blogger. When you set goals for yourself in a competitive nature such as marathon training, you work on that goal anywhere from 16-24 weeks. 3-6 months of your life is a schedule and build-up for a 1 day event. When the time comes and you meet your goal and it’s all over, just like that, and your time is no longer consumed with a plan, I personally feel lost. I’m not sure what to follow next or what my purpose is going forward. (I’m not saying that if I don’t run I don’t have a purpose but as someone who has always exercised it is part of my life, just like eating lunch or going to sleep). I can tell you this feeling occurs after every big race that I have trained for so I typically sign up for another race. So far I haven’t done so, but I probably will and that gives me a light at the end of the tunnel. 


I’m not sure if my feelings and actions are a sense of drive, fear, or addiction, but what I do know is, while I may not love the training, I love the schedule and meeting my goals. Why is my goal to always run? I like to think that it keeps me healthy and it’s something I can do that a lot of others think they can’t but really there is no deep rooted answer other than it gives me something to do. 

Anyone else in the same boat?