Doubt, fear, excitement, glee, overwhelmed -- that's just the tip of the iceberg when I think about running the 2015 Berlin Marathon. I want to start by saying that I was really, really scared going into this marathon. I've never left the United States before and I got particularly overwhelmed at the prospect of running the second largest marathon in the world in a completely foreign country.
This may seem hard to believe but I often find myself second guessing myself. I'll be honest, in regards to the Berlin Marathon I was really, really, really intimated. These marathons mean the world to me because each one is a reminder of what I've overcome and what I'm capable of. They put my entire life into perspective and this year I pushed myself harder than I've ever pushed myself before. By this point I know I can run a comfortable marathon in my sleep but honestly, I didn't want to run a comfortable marathon! I wanted to see what I could do! I really wanted to break 4 hours and even though I ran a personal best of 4 hours 3 minutes and 12 seconds, I am a little disappointed. Don't get me wrong! I'm really proud of myself! I knocked an entire 8 minutes and 26 seconds off my previous PB, but it still stung when I found out that I was so close to my goal time.
But I'm jumping the gun! We have so much to catch up on! Let me rewind a little bit because so much happened before crossing that incredible finish line...
Meet Annie, Susie and Sophie, my three partners in crime for the Berlin Marathon! Adidas miCoach approached the four of us to get the inside scoop of what it takes to run the Berlin Marathon and I don't think Adidasknew what they were getting themselves into... We spent THE ENTIRE trip getting into trouble!
It was like getting the opportunity to run around Germany with three of my best friends. I fell instantly in love with all three of these strong women! They were funny, brave, inspiring, easy to be with, fun, selfless, motivating, encouraging, supportive and most importantly AUTHENTIC. This experience would not have been the same without them and I am walking away with three new incredible friends.
It all started the Friday before the marathon with a quick 3 mile shakeout run through the woods just outside of the Adidas Headquarters. After rolling my ankle and having to rest for the entire taper period, I was itching to run and see how it was feeling. Post run, we were off to the Adidas store where we got to pick out all sorts of the latest Adidas fashion! I broke the cardinal rule of marathon running "nothing new on race day" and got an entire new race day outfit, a super cool backpack and some killer new sneakers! I can't help myself! I love a fresh outfit on race day!
After updating our wardrobes, we got to check out the Adidas innovation labs which was, hands down, the highlight of the trip. From climate controlled rooms with robots on treadmills to intense camera equipment, so much goes into making the groundbreaking products we use and love! Just learning about the innovative foam that is in the sole of my ultra boosts was mind boggling! After our top secret tour, we got to check out Athlete Services where we learned about how Adidas customizes every single piece of equipment for their sponsored athletes. CAN I JUST SAY IT WAS INCREDIBLE. My jaw is still on the floor!
After lunch (and some goofing around) we were off to Berlin!
Marathon day eve was BANANAS. We started our day off with the opportunity of a lifetime when we got to sit down with Geoffrey and Emmanuelle Mutai, two of the top marathon runners in the world! Having the opportunity to pick their brains about running marathons was just insane! I wish I would have recorded it because it happened way to fast. I asked them if they every read the funny race day signs (no they run too fast) and what their favorite part about the race is (chasing down their competition). Berlin is famous for being a flat and fast race course so we spent a lot of time talking about the possibility of breaking a world record.
It was amazing watching them talk about how much they loved running and how excited they were to race. I asked them what their favorite marathons were and Emmanuel said New York! I asked him if he was running it this year and he told me absolutely not because it was too close to Berlin. Then they both laughed at me and told me I was crazy when they found out I was running it this year after Berlin.
Then it was off to the INSANE marathon expo for bib pickup. We went at peak hours (Saturday at Noon) and everyone and their mother was there! I think the most exciting part about the expo was watching Annie because she was beside herself with excitement and nerves. I love, love, love watching a first time marathoner go to the race expo. I kept squealing, "YOU'RE RUNNING A MARATHON!" To which she would reply, "STOP REMINDING ME!" And then we would look at each other and scream and laugh.
After the expo it was sightseeing time! We took off for the famous TV Tower and that was when I realized that Berlin REALLY IS FLAT! There wasn't a hill in sight! I think race day eve was my favorite day of my trip because we spent the entire day laughing and exploring.
Then it was race day! I had my best friend Lowam staying with me so she was able to keep me calm on race morning. The scariest part for me is just getting ready. I was ALL OVER THE PLACE! I couldn't sit still because I had to much energy! After getting dressed and getting my life sorted, I went downstairs to join the Berlin Squad for breakfast.
And then it was race time! My biggest mistake was not figuring out the KM to mile conversion before the race started. Otherwise, I ran hard and had an AMAZING time. The race was absolutely incredible and having my sister Samantha and best friends Emma and Lowam along the route was really special. In my marathon fog, I mixed up where they were going to be along the course so I missed them at their second spot but found them early in the race and then right when I was struggling. It's so stressful spectating a marathon and they really went out of their way to adventure throughout Berlin to support me. I gave them a GoPro to document their journey and let me just say, running a marathon is tough but spectating seems one million times harder.
There were so many moments in the last few miles that I just wanted to pull back or stop to walk but one thing running a marathon has taught me is to push through pain. Even though it may feel like you can't take another step, it's so much easier to give up than it is to push through it. Turning that final corner and running through the Brandenburg Gate was one of the most surreal moments of my life. The wave of emotion, pride and sense of accomplishment is unparalleled.
This race was huge for all of us. Susie is a beast and set a PB of an INCREDIBLE NYC Marathon qualifying time of 3:23:19 and Annie completed her very first marathon LIKE A BOSS. It was an overwhelming and inspiring few days for all of us. These women are absolutely incredible and I am so grateful that I got to experience this life changing marathon with them.
The best part of about running is that it teaches you that you can do anything with enough hard work, dedication, patience and trust. The secret to having fun while running a marathon is to train your ass off. There's no way I would have ran a personal best and laughed my way through 75% of the race had I not been using my Adidas FitSmart. I'm obsessed with this watch. I've blown through 5 GPS watches now and I've hated every single one of them. They are always way too complicated or took forever to get a signal. With this watch, it does all the thinking for me. It tells me when to run faster or slower and it uses my heart rate as a guide! I hate thinking when I run and having something dictate my every move was a game changer.
Here's to enjoying every step of the journey and breaking 4 hours!
Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.
*Photos by Yehuda Swed.