I'm still not home, in fact I'm 11,000km from home and 6,000 km from Berlin. Can you guess?
We arrived in Berlin late on Wednesday night after a nasty flight over on Swiss (usually they are really good). I got chilled and then boiled on this flight and ended up getting a massive head cold by the time we crashed in our hotel. Bummer. I could only hope it would be better, or at least not into my lungs by race day.
On Thursday morning we spent some time walking around and seeing the Hamburger Haptbanhof (former Hamburg train station turned into art museum).
Late that afternoon we headed over to the expo to pick up our bib and check it out. Lynne and Latimer were arriving late that night and there was a possibility of meeting up at the expo.
Templehof airport was indeed huge, but you could see that it was poorly laid out for air travel these days. The hangers for airplane servicing were part of the same terminal as for passengers! Probably seemed like a good idea at the time 8).
The first pic shows the pre-entrance with some old sailplanes hanging from the ceiling. Once you got in there were TWO HUGE hangers of expo plus some outdoor stuff. Of course the bib pickup was all the way in the back and we made our way there. They would not allow Toni in, so she waited at the exit.
They are uber organized about this. I got my bib in about 30 seconds..no lines on a Thursday and you don't have to go to a particular person (and they don't have to hunt for your bib) because they PRINT them right on the spot at each station! The bib was freakin' HUGE however. Big ad for TATA services on the bottom, and big space with BWM logo on the top. First names printed on the bib..not sure why since the Euro crowds only very rarely call out names of strangers.
Got my T-shirt (you have to pay extra for a shirt...8/ ) and met back up with Toni. I came so far for this race I did spring for various race schwag items (Adidas wear)...jacket and hat of course.
We browsed around and looked for some information booth to help with planning Toni' at Latimer's spectating path.. a women at a sports medicine clinic area was very nice and pointed out a few things. (Later on Saturday I would sit down and figure out the broad arrival times for 7, 21, 32 and finish with rough suggestions on U-bahn and S-bahn connections for them)
Toni took my picture with me holding my bib and the course map in the background.
I took some pictures out side of the airport's very distinctive curvature. You could see it was long in the tooth...getting old..after all it was built more than 70 years ago I think! I thought about my dad being here and working up on the roof installing antennas and I thought about how grim it must have been to be stuck in the "island" of berlin during the airlift.
I also thought of my Dad clambering around on the roof installing antennas 54 years ago and felt a big pang of sadness from missing him.
Dinner was calling and massive jetlag was setting in, so we did not get to meet up with Lynne and Latimer that night. The next morning we were scheduled to meet up at the south gate of the main train station at 9:00am the next morning for a walking/jogging tour of the HUGE start/finish area for this marathon given by Mike. Mike does running tours of Berlin and we normally would have done this too, but he was scheduled to give a big tour for the Adidas team later the same day..lucky him!
This tour was free for us (Lynne knows Mike as she gives running tours of Copenhagen) and it was a bright sunny cold morning as we walked around the Tiergarden park which is where the race both starts and finishes. Mike described the typical tricks-of-the trade (e.g men can just pee in the woods (lots of trees and bushes to hide behind) ...we should fight to get to the front of our corral...after the start you can jump into corrals that are farther forward than your 'assigned' corral, etc).
I new this race was going to be BIG (it's one of the 'majors': Boston, Chicago, Berlin, London, NYC after all) but when we asked Mike how long until we could run our pace he told us it would take until the 10k mark (!). We both were pretty surprised by that number. At LA I was pretty much in the clear after a mile or two..but the streets there are wider.
Lynne was at Berlin with the goal of a new sub 4:30 PR. Faster would be nice of course 8) and her idea for a starting pace was 4:15 (9:44 m/m) . I was new to this pacing game and was trying to figure out how to be a help to Lynne and not screw up her day.
Pacing is a very fun idea: if you want to run more than one or two marathons a year, you really can't run them ALL for a PR. So rather than just running by yourself it seemed like a fun idea to help somebody else make their goal. Hopefully I would be healthy and a big stronger than my pace-ee so I could take pictures and have extra energy to encourage her at the right moments.
After splitting up with Mike, Lynne, Latimer and I met up with Toni in front of the Brandenburg tor (gate) and agreed on where to meet on race morning to hand off Latimer to Toni for child-minding and spectating duty.
Later that day, we went up one of the highest buildings in Berlin to take pictures and when we stopped in the bar-cafe at the top for some coffee, I noticed that half of it was taking up by a bunch of young folks in Adidas gear. After a time, I went over and asked them "Are you guys the Adidas team?", answer: yes. "Are you guys running the tour of Berlin with Mike this afternoon?", answer: YES!
So, a very small world! I heard that Geoffry Mutai was in that group from the bartender so I went back over there just in time to see him getting up to leave. I came up to him to ask him for a picture and Toni stepped up behind me and grabbed my camera and said "Get in the picture!". And so I have this photo together 8). I asked him if he was going to win and he said very modestly "I will do my best". He did win and ran a 2:04:15, edging out another Kenyan by a second. This time is only 40s or so off the record...amazing.
The day before a marathon, you should really stay off your feet, but there were a bunch of friends to meet and tourist around with and we made the best of it. My cold was getting better but not gone so I knew I would be leaving a lot of mucus on the course.
...and so I did 8)...see race report here.