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Berlin Marathon Race Report: Starting Line to Km 14 (Pt. 1)

I don’t even know where to start. I guess at the beginning.

On Sunday, September 28, 2008, Rob woke me up at 6:00. Got dressed, ate a banana and Kashi bar, and we all loaded into the van to go to the Zepernick train station. We were the first on the platform, so I took a jog down to the end and back to warm up my muscles. By the time I got back, there were three other marathoners waiting for the train. On every stop into Berlin, more marathoners got on the train—easily spotted by their plastic marathon bags that every runner gets to check stuff for after the race or at least a chip on their shoes. We arrived at the Friedrichstraß stop and headed to the lawn of the Reichtag building where the start and finish area was. We took some pictures, I applied the final coat of BodyGlide, said goodbye to Rob, Dad, and Mutti. Once in the start and finish area, I made my way to my clothing check tent, checked my bag, then stood in line for the bathroom.

Lesson #1: Just pee in the bushes like all the guys were doing. It was very stressful waiting in line for the 20 minutes previous to the start to use a disgustingly full port-a-potty. At this point, I still had my modesty, but it was gone by kilometer 9.

In line for the bathroom, I breathed deeply, stretched a little more, focused on building up my mind, and did a little eavesdropping: the four ladies in front of me were French, and the couple behind me were German.

Once I got out of that port-a-potty, I headed to my starting block. As a newbie to the 26.2 mile distance, I was automatically placed in the last starting block. I was told to take it all in, and I did. I smiled at anyone I made eye contact with, I said Hi to the older guy wearing a salt-and-pepper wig, and posed for the photographer.

Starting Line to Kilometer 14

The starting line was about half-way between the Brandenburger Tor and the Siegessäule, so I got to run past Goldelsa right after we started! It was awesome.

Once I started running, I tried to figure out how fast I was going. I didn’t want to start out too fast and then be tired later. But without a Garmin, I had to rely on my watch and kilometer markings. I didn’t see any, so I just held back a little and kept my eyes and ears out for my cheering squad. Once I got to Ernst-Reuter-Platz, I could see them! Bright yellow t-shirts and cowbells made it easy, and thank goodness, because there were so many supporters lining the course! I saw them, smiled real big for the cameras, and just kept going.

I didn’t see a kilometer marking until number 5, and I was at 32:32. I remembered my first 5k with Sarah, and I knew it felt harder than what I just did, but I knew still that I needed to pull back. And I tried, but for each subsequent kilometer, I was still right around 10:30 minute miles. I knew that Rob and my cheering squad (Dad and Mutti, plus Rob’s cousin Mirko, his wife Martina, and their son Paul) would be meeting me around kilometer 8, and I thought once that I heard Dad’s voice “Lindy!” but I never saw them. I tried to call them several times without an answer. I stopped thinking about it, and just focused on running.

I took my first gel at 6km, right before a water stop. It was crazy. I couldn’t run near the water tables if I wanted to, there were so many people. And so many plastic cups along the curbs. I got a cup, drank as much as I could, then splashed the rest in my face. Brr! Remembering more advice I had been given from someone who should know, I walked through that water stop—about 1 minute—just to give my legs a break.

The next several kilometers, I enjoyed the scenery, listened for the Kuhglocken, and tried to regulate my pace. I saw many more men using the bushes on the side of the road (jealous!), but didn’t really feel the need, so I kept running. The course took us through either a part of Berlin where the buildings weren’t as tall as before, or we were now running towards the Sun. Either way, I started to get hot, so the last 1/3 of every water cup I got my hands on got splashed in my face or poured over my head.

Finally, around kilometer 9, I saw a female-friendly bush area (men don’t need their hinter-parts covered by bushes like we do) and headed off the street when my cell phone rang. It was Rob telling me they had missed me at the 8 kilometer meeting point and that they would catch me after kilometer 14. By the time I was back on the street, I knew I’d see my cheering squad again soon. And that gave me a push.

I kept up the pace and felt great. I was checking my pace every kilometer and reading the messages from my dear friends and family, concentrating on the message and the person. I was enjoying the amazing Berlin scenery. I was paying close attention to my legs and feet, my breathing, my stride. More water stops, a banana, some electrolyte-replacement drink, more gel. High 5s to the kids on the side of the course, pumping arms to the people with noise makers, a big smile for anyone I made eye contact with. It all helped me to keep going.

Finally, as we headed into a curve during kilometer 14, I spotted the bright yellow shirts! “What do you need?” Rob asked, and it shocked me just a little. “What do I have? What do they have for me? Where am I at in this thing? What will I need before I see them again in 6 kilometers?” Finally, I managed to sputter out, “Water. And a kleenex.” A water bottle was placed in my hand, and I handed Rob the empty one. I gave everyone high 5s, and then “Let’s go! I’m going to run with you for a little bit.”

Rob and I ran together for about 200 meters. He told me how they missed me and I told him that I was feeling great. We hugged, kissed, and then I was off again.

While you wait for the rest of the race report, you could check out a few official marathon bits online.

“Official” Time

First, click here to see my “official” time (it’s not officially official until I receive the certificate in the mail, apparently), including a PDF file with English translations. If that link doesn’t work, click here, then enter my “Startnummer”: F6001.

Good to Know

  • “Clocktotal” is the time from when my starting block gun fired and when I crossed the finish line. Based on that time and my “chiptotal”, it must have taken me almost 5 minutes to get to the starting line.)
  • My “time per kilometer” was 6:51. Translated to minutes miles per mile, that’s 11:02!
  • Click on “Urkunde” to download the PDF (“Urkunde” means “certificate”)

Finish Line Video

Next, see me cross the finish line by clicking here. After the T-mobile ad, watch for me in the upper left. I’m wearing a white shirt with an orange/yellow square on the front of my shirt. You can see me first as I come out from behind a guy wearing an orange shirt. As soon as I saw the photographers, I put my arms up with the peace signs on both hands. You can really see me as soon as I stop my watch with a huge smile on my face. I was extremely happy!

Race Photos

They are still processing all the photos, but you can see several of me they’ve already found by clicking here. Follow these instructions to find my photos.

  1. In the drop down box labeled “Select Race” and scroll down to “real- Berlin Marathon 2008.”
  2. Enter “mueller” in the “last name” box.
  3. My “bib number” was F6001.
  4. On the next page, click “See My Photos.”

I’ll upload better (and more free!) photos as soon as possible, but Rob wasn’t able to take many photos with our camera because at every stop, he was giving me more carb shots, a fresh water bottle, or helping me fix my bib. (If you are interested in buying any of these photos, enter coupon code 21156. It should give you free shipping. Might only work in Germany, but I don’t know for sure.)