Race review: Berlin Marathon 2015

Where to start with my weekend in Berlin!?

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A week ago today I was running around the streets of Berlin alongside some 40,000 other amazing and inspirational runners.

A week later and I’ve still not stopped talking about it. The inevitable post marathon race blues came but once they’d gone I was left with the overwhelming urge to continue planning my next one!

Similar to planning my next marathon (London 2016 by the way), I’m jumping ahead again and I’ll start from the beginning of my Berlin 2015 journey, well at least from the airport.

After a pretty sleepless night Dane and I headed to the airport at 4am on Friday morning for a 6am flight to Berlin. As you may have read from one of my previous posts I had actually planned what I was going to wear months in advance but Dane surprised me with the best present ever. He’d got me kitted out in Hannah’s Happy Pace gear which included two race tops and an amazing hoody! I love, love LOVE them!

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Once we’d arrived in Berlin we headed to our hotel which was a short walk away from Potsdamer Platz and an in excellent location in terms of the race and getting around the city. The early morning start got the better of us and we had a nap in the afternoon as opposed to our original plan of running to the expo to pick up my race number. The following day we did just that, headed out for a little leg loosener to the expo which was just a few miles away.

When we got there we were somewhat underwhelmed by how small it was. Little did we know at that point we were just in the entrance rather than at the main bulk of the expo – whoops! It was actually enormous! Stands selling everything from Garmins to FitBits and personalised trainers were packed in to the aircraft hangars but before we let ourselves loose with our credit cards I picked up my number.

You’re given a BMW Berlin Marathon band which is heat sealed to your wrist before you collect your number and information bag. This was when it all started to feel VERY real.

Afterwards, we might have made a few cheeky marathon purchases including two Adidas BMW Berlin Marathon t-shirts – pictured below. Super cheesy smiles optional.

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Due to little sleep the night before, on Saturday afternoon I was grumpy, tired and hungry – and that’s not a Hannah you want to encounter! Luckily we stumbled upon Vapiano’s, an amazing Italian restaurant. I won’t write much else about it on this post other than what we had as I’m saving it for a blog post of its own – trust me, it’s worth an entire post! I had wholemeal spaghetti with chicken and sun-dried tomatoes in a lovely orange/chilli oil. It was delicious!

Luckily I slept pretty well on Saturday night and strangely enough I didn’t wake up feeling too nervous. Breakfast was porridge and a banana and a cereal bar shortly before starting the race.

It was quite a walk to the start pens and Dane wasn’t allowed through to the start line so we had to say goodbye quite early on, something I’m not used to in a race. At this point it took all I had not to cry when I said bye to him, despite knowing I’d see him at the 7k mark – get it together Hannah!!

The start pens were crazy! Despite running a previous marathon time of 3.38 I’d been placed in pen G which was for 3.45-4.15 hour runners. I tried to squeeze in to F but was sharply told this wasn’t an option. The pens were packed. I jumped over the steel barrier and squeezed in between a pack of people. It was a good 20-25 minutes before we even crossed the start line but despite the wait and the packed pens the atmosphere was amazing, the entire pen was buzzing with energy, singing, clapping and cheering as other runners/pens ahead of us set off.

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The first few miles were spent weaving in and out of people and I didn’t really pay much attention to the beautiful landmarks I was passing. It was all eyes on the ground to avoid clipping someones heel or crashing in to someone. I managed to see Dane ever so briefly at the 7km mark quickly shouting “I’ve only been going for 35 minutes!”

I didn’t have a plan going in to the race but Dane said try to stick to under 8 minute miles and still go for a 3.30 finish – he was convinced I had it in me – at least one of us was! Either way I thought I’d give it a go and just go with how I was feeling in each mile. Run the mile you’re in! I soon realised that averaging around 7.35 – 8 min miles felt comfortable and decided to stick to that for as long as I could, a risky tactic in the first half of a marathon I know. I passed the halfway mark in about 1.41 and was still feeling good so decided to stick with it although there was part of me that worried I’d gone out too fast and wouldn’t be able to sustain that pace for the latter part of the race.

The elite runners!

The elite runners!

It’s weird that strength tends to come out of a struggle and a struggle was exactly what I was expecting in the latter stages of this race. I knew I’d be fine up until mile 20 but having only ran 18 in training (due to no fault other than my own!) I knew my legs would be feeling it by then and I’d need to dig deep and find that strength to push on. Mile 18 came and went and in my head I said to myself, get to 20 and you’re practically done.

20 is where the fun starts though! Except in this case it was mile 23 when I felt as though I literally couldn’t puhsh any more! My mile splits were s l o w i n g quickly and even though I could hear Dane’s voice in my head telling me to lean forward and push on I felt as though I literally couldn’t!

The finish line wasn’t even in sight when I hit 26.2 miles on my Garmin in 3 hours 28 minutes. WHAT, don’t do this to me I thought, I should be finished!! Finally the finish line was in sight and I crossed the line in 3 hours and 31 minutes.

One of the things I dislike most about crossing that finish line is that there’s no one there to hug instantly haha – needy Han! Despite congratulating other runners in the vain hope of a hug, I knew I’d have to wait until I tracked Dane down. I cursed myself for not running with my phone so he could come and get me as our meet point was at least a good 10 minute walk away. At our meet point I collapsed in a sweaty heap on the floor before Dane arrived thrusting the GoPro in my face and FINALLY I got my victory hug!! WOOHOO! 3.31, my victory hug, the marathon was done and a huge bowl of pasta was in sight – happy Hannah!

Not only that but I’d somehow managed to secure myself a Boston Marathon qualifying time!! 2017 here we come!

If you’re thinking of entering the ballot for Berlin – do it is all I can say. It’s an amazing city (blog post to come on what to see do and where to stay/eat soon!) and the race is one of the world majors – need I say more!?

In terms of organisation I think the water stations could have been more frequent and it was at least 5 minutes before I was offered a bottle of water after crossing the finish line. Also, there’s no free finishers t-shirt so I’m glad I bought an Adidas one from the expo.

I’m thrilled with how the race went but of course I’m gutted I didn’t officially go under 3.30. That said, I’ve learnt a LOT from this race and from my training leading up to it. I’ve learnt just how important a solid strength and conditioning programme is and the vital importance of speed work and there’s plenty I’m going to be changing for London 2016 which will hopefully be the chance to well and truly nail that sub 3.30 which I absolutely know I’ve got in me. It’s quite exciting really.

I’ll be writing something on how I’ve recovered since the race later in the week but for now I want to be super cheesy and thank everyone who’s followed my training journey, my friends and family for always being so supporting (look at me, it’s like I’m doing an Oscars speech haha!) and of course, Dane, for putting up with my all to frequent running meltdowns, 6am starts on a Sunday for my long runs, for pacing me on speed sessions and for keeping me fit and healthy with my strength and conditioning programme – I love you all!

For now though I guess it’s time to park the Carb Queen crown and get back to the track…

#hannahshappypace

 

Berlin marathon training – one week to go!

“I’ve learned that it’s what you do with the miles, rather than how many you’ve run.” – Rod DeHaven 

Fast forward a week today and I will have landed in Berlin, checked into my hotel for the weekend and picked up my race number from the expo.

Even though the marathon is just over a week away it still doesn’t feel like it’s really approaching! Maybe I’m in denial due to how unprepared I am for this race! I say unprepared in the sense that I’m no where near where I wanted to be in terms of training but I’ve only got myself to blame for that. Still, I’m making the most of what I’ve done and can only hope to get through it injury free! The main aim of course is to enjoy running one of the most iconic marathons in the world and to savour every moment of the weekend. It will be amazing to run through the streets of Berlin alongside so many other amazing athletes.

Speaking of amazing athletes, I’m also planning to meet some other runners for pre marathon coffee and cake and post race victory beers which will be fantastic. We’ve created a group chat on Twitter where we’ve unleashed our maranoia on each other. Running is such a fantastic community and an amazing way of bringing like minded people together.

Anyway, back to the training I’ve been doing. I recently completed a fantastic 18 mile trail run which was lovely on the legs although it felt as though I was moving for hours! My legs definitely thanked me for completing it off road though. The weekend before that I did another 18 mile run with 12 miles on the road and six on trail which felt really good. I haven’t however managed to hit the 20 mile mark yet which I would’ve really liked to have done for both my legs and for a mental boost as well. People aren’t exaggerating when they say the race really begins at mile 20! That said, I’ll just have to dig deep and use my grit and determination to kick on towards the end, Mo Farah style! #onemomile

Aside from running I’ve been keeping up with my strength sessions as best as I can thanks to a specific programme from Dane. Here’s a snippet of just one section of my latest programme:

  • Barbell hip thrusts  with a band around your knees 3 heavy sets of 15 reps (I did 70kg)
  • Superset with lateral banded side steps 10 each side (feel those glutes burn!)
  • Incline bench YTWs 5 rounds (1 round is a y, t and w) with a light weight if you can.

Calf work has also been programmed as well as plenty of core work and I have to say I am feeling really good after these sessions. I feel stronger and, touch wood, it’s injury proofing me! Really hope that hasn’t jinxed it now!

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Away from the roads, tracks and the gym I’ve also found some time to get in some fun rest day movement with Dane.

Last weekend we headed to Brimham Rocks, near Harrogate, for some rock scrambling and a picnic in the sunshine. Rock scrambling quickly turned in to hill sprints, pull ups on trees and even some strong man work from Dane! See the video evidence on his Instagram – @danemitch.

It was so nice to be outside moving in the sunshine and to see other people doing the same too. Seeing people outside enjoying themselves makes me happy!

Here’s a few snaps of what we got up to..


      

So that’s pretty much all of my random training updates for now! The plan from now until the marathon is to look after myself and keep well for the start line- oh and locate my passport! I’ve also joined periscope so you can follow my Berlin journey live throughout the weekend. My user name is the same as my  Instagram @hbryan91 so make sure you follow me!

🙂

On yer’ bike! Why cycling is good for runners

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There’s no doubt that cycling is one of the most popular cross training activities for runners. There are numerous benefits to getting on your bike from improving your vO2 max to building on leg strength and cadence.

Whether it be on the road or in the gym, time spent spinning those legs on the bike is valuable fitness in the bank.

Cycling reduces stress – I’m not just talking about the stress relief of endorphins firing but also the stress on your legs. Cycling let’s you add another high intensity workout to your training programme in place of a running session to reduce the impact on your legs. Trust me, your legs will thank you for putting less stress on your joints from pounding the road or the treadmill. This in turn reduces the risk of injury as well.

Cycling builds leg strength – I’ve been told by my physiotherapist before to build up the strength in my legs, particularly in my quads. Cycling will help to build up the strength in your calves, shins and quads which is beneficial for runners. Cycling also has the same triple extension that running does. In both running and cycling you extend your knees, hips and ankles which you can do at a similar cadence to running when cycling, or even faster.

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Cycling helps you to recover – While you’re working on other, maybe weaker areas of your body the over worked areas will feel plenty rested which in turn will help you to (hopefully) remain injury free. Not only that but if you’re well rested you’ll be able to perform better on your next run. That said, if you are unfortunate enough to have a running injury then cycling is great rehab for your legs and can help you to maintain a good level of fitness.

Cycling gives you a change of scenery – Cycling gives you a mental break from running and the mind games that come with it! This can be invaluable in helping you to get out of a training rut or can even help you to break through some important mental barriers when training for a race for example. It will also keep your legs guessing and they will then feel fresh for that next run. In a practical sense, you can also go further in a shorter time on a bike and can therefore have a literal change of scenery and see more!

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Cycling can’t replace running – However it is important to note that cycling can’t replace running. If you do choose to build cycling in to your running programme then you must keep up your long run and other quality session such as speed for example, especially if you’re training for a race! Easy pace or recovery runs can be replaced by cycling and of course, if your injured then adjust this accordingly as mentioned above in this post. I’d say it’s also important to keep up your strength work, too.  About 10-15 minutes is said to be the equivalent of one mile and try to keep between 90-100RPM to mimic running cadence.

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