Thursday, September 29, 2011

So how was it really? Berlin Marathon

4 days after the marathon, you properly have already known:
1) Paula Radcliffe has her qualified time for the London Olympic 2012 by 2 hours and 23 minutes
2) World record has broken by Patrick Makau, the fastest man in the world (the news said)
3) MaySze has done hers just ok. 

But how was it really running 42.195km (26. 2 miles)? 
The weather on the D-day was beautiful.  Sunny and actually slightly warmer for a runner like me.  There were over 34,000 people running the race.  It is one of the largest marathons in the world.  Berliners were excited about the race.  Families and friends of the runners were along the course and cheering their loved ones.  Kids were giving you their little hands for the 'high 5' (how can you resist them?). There were a lot of hugs, kisses and photo taking along the course.  Therefore, as you can imagine, there were crowds and music almost in the whole entire course, the whole 42 km. Atmosphere was truly great.  

Berlin marathon is one of the world marathons, ie an international marathon.  There were different people from different countries.  During the race, I have met 7 Aussie.  It was so good to see some runners from Down Under, we did cheer each other on during the race (it helped, for me). Japanese and Korean also had their representatives as well.  There were some small Japanese and Korean women running the race... they were so cute.  For some reasons, there were many Danish there; so as their followers. (Do you know why, Alice?)  Of course, at the end, Germans were just filling up the course.
Running to the finishing line.
 Brandenburger Tor is behind us!

As you also know that by now, Berlin race is the fastest course for the marathon as it is very flat. It is not only flat but actually quite a wide course as well.  We have not encountered any situation that we need to slow down the pace or even stop during to narrow paths or roads.  Even though there were many people walking towards the end of the course, you still can found some rooms to run!

The organisation looked after the runners quite good.  Water stations almost in every 2-3 miles; special refreshment station almost in every 5 miles, where you actually can put your very own special hydration drinks at those refreshment station (It was my first time to know about that too).  In those stations, you also found iced tea (yes! iced tea) and bananas in some stations. Basically, if you are not a fussy eater, you really don't need to carry anything for the race.

As for me, after 4 days of the race, I have finally accepted my gutted result.  On the positive note, the race actually helps to plan better for my final marathon training. (yeah.. one more to go!).  I did learn what work for me, what not.  The most important thing is that, my fire and enjoyment of running has re-flamed and probably burnt even brighter.  Even though the time was not what I hoped for, but I know that I will come back and do better.  So, I'm back to running (I did a 5 mile run this morning). I will start to re-plan my training schedule for my last marathon in 2 months time.    

Apart from marathon, there was also inline skating and power wall in this marathon.  These were my first time to learn about these two events in marathon length.  But in my hostel, I was actually sharing a room with a German family, which Dad did marathon, son mini-marathon (shorter run for kids under 10), and the daughter did the marathon length of inline skating.  She told me that it's very common in Germany.  She finished in 2 hour and 30 hours, but experts, like the winner of the game, finished the course in 1 hour 14 mins.  Pretty fast! That got me wanting to try skating as well. 

Anyway... this marathon is in my history book.  Must to better for my next and last race.
The medal and the finisher t-shirt (costs me 25 euro dollars!)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

2 hours and 23 mins....

No no no! It is not my time. I wish. If so, I should be doing Olympic Games next year. It is Paula's result. She didn't break her record, nor I broke me. It actually quite a disappointing run for me.

I finished in 4 hours and 34 mins. Not the worst one but not the best one either. As I have put so much time and effort to improve my run in last few months after the Edingburh one. I was just hoping that I could do better. But it didn't turn out that way. In fact, I wasn't feeling quite 100% for the race at the beginning. My recent caught blocking nose and coughs might got to do something about it. I dun know. There are alot of whys, but they also can become alot of excuses. Now, what I should do is too get some rest and start to think about my training for the last run this year.

I'm tired and having a mild headache. I think I will head to sleep soon....

Here is the medal.....

I'm going now...

A very quick note...

It's 0745. I'm heading to the starting point now. I have a mixed feeling. Excited, petrified, and 'dun know' feeling.

Next one will be the one with a result!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Different day... Most importantly, the run is tomorrow!!!

Very different today, comparing to yesterday. Starting the day with a breaky run organised by the event organisation. And we ran to the Olympic stadium, which was built for 1936 Olympic game held by Hitler. It was short and easy run, just keep my feet in a good shape. Even more encouraging was that there were over 10000 runners together towards the stadium. It was something. My blood was just rushing over my body when I saw the stadium in front of me. For a one second, I felt like an Olympic runner running back to the Stadium, which was full of people cheering me on.... Wowowowww! It was just one second imagination. It was a very good and positive feeling, no doubt about that. In fact, the race will be started and ended at the Brandenburg Gate. It is a historical symbol of Berlin. Not a bad way to start and finish. I met a few Aussie are running this race as well... Cool. Go Aussie!

After a sad and heavy day, I went for another tour today, called 'alternative tour'. Don't know what you may think of it when you hear the name in Berlin context. It is a tour to look at Berlin's another well-known feafure, street art! It is completely different turn from yesterday. But I'm glad that I went. At the end, it is something that I intended to look into while I'm here. And I'm glad that I went for this tour as I really had no idea where to start initially. With the tour guide help, it has certainly become easier and at least I know what I should look for. A few famous artists were noted, like Blu, XOOXO, El-Bocho. You may not know who they are but when you see their work, you will go 'Oh! yeah....'. My CJ has the busiest day today. So you will see some of them later. Apart from the artistry of the street art, the struggle and tension on merging these two different worlds were also reflected in those street art as well. I truly enjoyed it very much. There are some artists are truly great and reflective.

There is one thing truly speaking clear and loud for me from yesterday in the camp to today the street art, Berlin is a changing city. And the changes are huge and rapid comparing to all other cities that I have been. It is not just only political, environmental, or economical changes, but most importantly, cultural changes, which interests me as I have observed and believed that culture is the hardest thing to change and mould as it forms and binds a nation and identifies them as who they are. But Berlin is still going through this as I'm typing. What is going to happen tomorrow in Berlin, truly it isn't that easy to figure out.

But for now, I know that I truly go to have an early for the race tomorrow! As you can imagine what my blog will be like....


Friday, September 23, 2011

It is a heavy day... My heart weighted thousands stones

To be completely honest, I don't think I can post anything tonight on the blog about my day. My heart is heavy burdened and my brain doesn't want to process all the information that I learnt today in the concentration camps, which is just outside of Berlin. The concentration camp is called Sachsenhausen. What is it really? Well the tour that I supposed to join today describe the camp as following...
'it was the Nazi's model camp which set the standard for all those to follow... This was a place in which over 50,000 abused prisoners perished, as well as a school of brutality for training SS guards to work in this and other camps. Sachsenhausen's terrible history continued even after 1945 as the Soviet occupiers took it over for a further 5 years to house political enemies.' (newberlin tour)

I have become speechless and my brain has basically refused to take any more info on this matter.

So I decide to put it up later about this camp with some photos that I took with CJ when I get back to London.

Sorry. But stay on tune...

Marathon is 2 days to go...breakfast run tomorrow morning. Good. My frets are getting itchy....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Small taste of Berlin

Truly, I have a small bite of it today. I went to a free tour today. Walked around this city and learnt about the its history in 3 hours time. What I have to say after that intensive history walk, "WOW! so much to know about this city!". It is interesting that I have come this city with an idea that Berlin is an international city with strong economic drive and lively spirit. German technology and their innovation always give some surprises to the world. Their history from WWII, it is easy to put an equation mark between German and evil. However, in my tour, as I learnt this history of this city and saw the city with my very own fresh eyes, I have relearnt about this city and realised that it is a city living in the scars from WWII and Cold War. The city itself is actually still rebuilding from WWII; people are still getting their heads around to learn how to live in freedom and trying merging two worlds into one. But I learnt the most is that German know and acknowledge their history, both bad and good, and choose to respect it and live with it positively. They also had experienced the hard time when communists were in power; like Chinese in Chinese revolution. They also burnt books and manuscripts that were against the communists ideas. They were perpetrators in WWII, and yet they took responsible for their actions and chose to acknowledge it. The city itself (about 92%) was actually badly damaged in WWII as well. Doubtlessly, it is a city with many scars. And today I just have a bite of it. I think, I will try to learn more tomorrow when I go for the concentration camp. It properly won't be that easy for me to take on.

On the brighter side, I have picked up my bib numbers for the run (hooray!). And Paula looks so good for the race as well. 'I am here to win!' she said. Of course! Who can stop her?! The health expo, where I picked my number, is held in a old city airport from Soviet Union in east Berlin. Quite a big massive building as it was always be for Soviet Union. I just go "wow". CJ is with me and took a few faithful photos. But I can't put upload them till I go back to London and process them. Sorry. They will come shortly.

One more thing. I have met a good friend today. In the tour, I met a gentlemen who will also do marathon this Sunday! And guess how old he is..... 70!!!!! (he just corrected me that he is actually 72 to be precise!). I feel shame already. And he is aiming to finish the race in 4 hours (mine target time is 4.15). He had has 6 marathons under his belt! Can you believe that?! I hope that I still can run marathon when I'm in his age!!!!! . He is definitely my inspiration. Wow!!

Many wows in this blog. And I know that it is still coming...

Time to hit my bed...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

5 days to go...

Can’t believe that I will be running one of the world marathons in 5 days time.

More encouraging to know that I will be running with Paula Redcliffe, the fastest woman marathon runner in the world in 5 days time.  What can I say more about this race?

I can’t put a right words to describe how I actually feel at this moment.  I would say that I’m excited, since I’m still awake at 3am in the morning.  And yet, I’m petrified about the race.  My preparation for this race has been long and challenging.  It definitely not smooth sailing.  Pain and blues in training were hitting me since my last marathon in May.

But here I am.. I will catch my flight to Berlin in 14 hours time.  Race will be on this coming Sunday. 26.2 miles run.
Exactly one year ago (25/09), I did my very first half marathon in London which changed my whole marathon world.  I wouldn’t believe that I will be doing my third marathon at that time.  But I’m doing now… 

If you want to know what the course looks like… here is the answer… 

Keep you in post about the run! Stay tune!