Berlin 2018: What a ride!
Race day was beautiful, sunny and 19 degrees. I did my warm up and spent a quiet moment on my own in the park. Then I got in the corral and the excitement built. Everything I want in a race was there: music was pumping; national anthem, helicopters, balloons at the gun start and the best part: the elites were 500m ahead of me and I might be able to say ‘I was there when the new world record was set’.
Then the gun went off and I stuck to the blue line like glue. The first 10k were crowded and Europeans can be aggressive as I got elbowed a few times. I couldn’t pass and fell behind my pace. I wasn’t worried because I knew the crowd would thin out. It did and I was able to do a few quick km to make up the time. Except for the nightmare water stations, I was having fun and feeling strong.
At about 28k, all my toes started to tingle and my lower leg muscles began to ‘pop’ and tighten. I said to myself: I’ll just shake that off. Except I couldn’t and it got worse. Thinking it’s better for the long run, I stopped a few times to stretch.
At 35k, even with the stopping, I was only 3 minutes behind and my spirits remained high. But the more I ran, the worse it got until I was bent over in pain. Medics took me to the side and massaged my legs.
I started running, slowly. Then, around 39k, I felt a shooting pain in my right calf and up into my thigh. I screamed. My knees buckled and I fell. Medics wanted to take me in an ambulance but I told them to just massage my legs and get me up.
I was 3k from the finish, had put in 4 months of blood sweat and tears and flown thousands of miles. I wasn’t going home empty handed.
For the next 90 minutes, I limped the 3k, with a volunteer on one side and a medic on the other. I cried. I stopped often. I heard the crowd shouting my name and cheering me on. They gave me food, drinks and pats on the back. Their support made me even more emotional.
Then I looked up and saw the Brandenburg gates. BMW blue everywhere. Crowds cheering. I took in the moment and it was magical. I wanted nothing more than to run across the blue carpet. Finally, at 5:06, unaided, I crossed the most beautiful finish line I have ever seen.
Medics scooped me up, threw me on a gurney and I spent 2 hours in the medical tent. Diagnosis: cramps/pulled muscle. Cure: ice and rest.
I am happy. I ran into trouble and fought back. I walk away with a smile, great memories and respect for the marathon.