After getting a big, fat ” No” at the London Marathon’s ballot in October 2016 I’ve decided to try a different tactic. I’ve decided that I’ll run a charity, run for a good cause.
I have to say , me and my family are really lucky, we haven’t been affected by any kind of life threatening illness. So when people kept telling me to pick a charity close to my heart, it was a really hard decision. Because we haven’t been affected by anything.
That’s when I thought I’ll try to run for a smaller charity, preferably who helps children.
This is when I came across MACS.
MACS stands for : Microphthalmia, Anophthalmia and Coloboma Support
They are a great charity, they are supporting children born without eyes or with underdeveloped eyes.
I thought I can relate to them because everyone has someone in their family who has some kind of eye condition. Maybe they are only wearing glasses, or maybe they do have a sever eye condition.
I’ve found their application form on their website, and filled it out.
Application form can be found HERE.
After filling out the application I tried to be patient, and wait for the confirmation decline email. Because I submitted my application in November I wasn’t really sure if they still have places for the marathon or not. But after waiting for a few days I’ve got a really nice email , and it turned out they still had spots for the race.
I had to fill out the official marathon registration form and pay in the £100 registration fee. Also their fundraising target was £1250 and I thought I’ll be able to reach that.
- fundraising pack,
- marathon training newsletters,
- access to their lively community of MACS runners,
- shiny MACS running vest or t-shirt,
and most of all, you can take part in this challenge safe in the knowledge that the funds you raise will make a huge difference to the lives of hundreds of children born without eyes or with underdeveloped eyes across the UK.
Have to say they were a really organised and communicative charity. We’ve got weekly support emails with hints and tips from running to fundraising.
I also liked the fact that the fundraising deadline was after the race, if i remember well it was sometime in June or even July.
So if anyone planning to run for a charity in London I highly recommend MACS 🙂
I was supposed to write this post a few weeks ago but somehow I didn’t manage to do it.
I’m part of a fair few running groups on Facebook , some of better than others but all is good to learn and get information.
A few weeks ago I came across a post on the “World Marathon Majors ” Facebook group. A lovely lady shared it that there will be an open event at the New Balance flagship store in Oxford street , London.
It’s not just a simple open evening , at the end of the night they’ll draw out 5 people who gets a spot in next years London marathon.
I wasn’t really sure to go or not to go. Mainly because it was on a Wednesday and didn’t finish till 9pm and by the time I’d get back home it will be close to midnight, and I have to wake up to go to work at 4.20am.
But after thinking about it for a bit I realised I only loose out on it if I don’t go. Luckily I travel to London for free so this can be a little day out. Also I can live on coffee on the following morning.
I wasn’t sure how many people will be there , or even if I have any chance to win a spot. But my motto was if I never try I never will know.
I already got my refusal lottery email from London so this was just an extra opportunity. I’ve run the race in 2017 via a charity so I really wasn’t under any pressure to get in.
Also have to say they I never met or know anyone who won anything like this before. I always thought that these kind of prices will go to a friend of a friend of the organiser etc.
I’ve got up to the New Balance store just after 7pm. There was a DJ, security personnel and also many many staff member around.
I straight away started to queue up to sign up to the competition. It wasn’t a big queue just about 6-7 people in front of me.
The sign up form was an an iPad and then also been told that I don’t need to wait till 8:45pm when they announce the winners. I can go home and if I’m lucky enough I’ll get an email.
After signing up I’ve decided to walk around and see what else is on.
After walking down to the bottom floor they already started the nutrition talk with Anita. I’ve met with her in 2017 when I attended the Meet the Experts session in London.
I think it was a really informative session. Specially for newbie marathon runners.
This was only a short talk about nutrition. After her talk staff members started handing out goodie bags for everyone who was down there.
I was really pleased with it. I mean who doesn’t love a free goodie bag ?
After the talk I started to wonder around to see the merchandise. There was so much stuff there and it’s so hard not to buy something. Anyway what would I buy a race item when I’m not even running that race ?
When I go to the top floor they started getting ready for a race Q&A with a celebrity. The special guest turned out to be Joel Dommett. He’s a comedian and also a presenter for the I’m a celebrity …’s Extra Camp.
This Q&A was more like about how he tackled the race and also how he managed to do all his training due to his crazy work schedule. But he also give some tips for first timers.
When he’s talk finished we still had plenty of time till the winners announcements.
Just a few photos of the 2019’s merchandise:
Also managed to bump in one of my “Instagram ” friend, Ruth. We had a good chat. It’s always feels so weird to talk with someone who you follow on social media. But when you meet up you have no idea what to talk about 😀
Then the time arrived. We all assembled at the ground floor , and waited for the announcements.Then the guy started to announce the winners.
Our first winner is … Gabriella ….
// OMG I don’t know any other Gabriella ‘s, it’s not a common name in England, maybe it’s me. But who knows. //
…Gabriella Waller !!!
OMFG I’ve WON. I never in my life won anything like that. I never got drawn out in the lotteries , never won on starch cards. But today I won.
Probably I looked like and idiot , I just couldn’t stop smiling. OMG.
Then the announcer said the other 4 winners. It turns out I was the only one who stayed there. They others went home.
I really wasn’t planning to run London next year , but now I’m in. I can’t believe it.
It will be a hard one , mainly because I’m running Boston 1.5 weeks before London. But I know well I can do this.
I’ve decided that London will be a fun and happy run. By that time I should be a 6 star finisher so I can totally enjoy London. I’ve tried my marathon journey there in 2017 and now I can finish it in 2019.
A few days later I’ve received my confirmation email about winning it. So then it sank in , that I really won it. Not just dreamt about it.
Then a few days later my new pair of New Balance shoes arrived:
Also I decided to do something crazy. I’ll attempt to do a Guinness World Record in London. I can’t tell you much about it because I don’t want others to do it before me. According to their data base no one done this before so hopefully that stays like that. The deadline to apply for it is in February, after that I’ll be able to announce it. Fingers cross it will work out.
And from now on I’ll apply every single competition I see. Because there’s a chance. Also real people win these things.
It’s really important to carbload before a race, so on saturday we decided to have pizza. One of our host suggested that there’s an awesome pizza place near by and we should try it. They make “Detroit” style pizza , which means it’s a square one. It is a rectangular pizza that has a thick crisp crust and toppings such as pepperoni and mushrooms. What makes Detroit-style pizza different from Chicago and New York styles is the crust, which is extra thick and very crispy on the bottom.
I tried to go to bed as early as possible, and I think I managed to fall asleep just after 9pm.
On race morning we got picked up by Joe, one of Shelly’s friend and we got driven to our charity hotel. I still can’t believe how friendly and helpful the people are here.
This morning was rainy , again, I’m not even surprised now. Team Paws had a massive room booked for us at the Congress Hotel. I felt so lucky to be there. It was heavily raining outside and was pretty cold. We were indoors, which was warm, and also had unlimited food and drink.
I was booked in to start from the Last Wave and Last Coral. But I really didn’t mind this. I knew I’ll be slow so there’s no point starting from the front, well even if I wanted I couldn’t do it haha.
I really didn’t know what to expect from this race. I really wanted to do well, but after the disappointment in Berlin, I really wasn’t sure I can run a sub 6hr race here. I know it’s sounds really silly, but I felt so much pressure on me. During my training I said to everyone that I’m training for a sub 6hr race, then I failed in Berlin. That really took my motivation back, and I really wasn’t even sure that I should start this race. Who wants another failed race? Another disappointment.
But this race cost so much for me, for us, so there was no option quitting.
On race morning I decided to try out a new pacing strategy. Yeah you shouldn’t really do that, but hey ho.
I put my pace tattoo onto my arm and was hoping for the best for the race.
After running a 6:22 in Berlin I knew that I won’t be able to keep up with the 5.45 pace, but I really wanted to see that how long I’ll be able to go with them.
I started to race really well. To my total surprise I was able to keep up with the 5:45 pacer, I wasn’t struggling and even was able to talk with a few other runners.
Before the race I agreed with Luke that we meet up at certain points during the race. So I had something to look forward. Our first meeting point was around the mile 8 mark.
According to the tracker in the first 5k I managed to average a 12.44mins/mile, completed the 5k in 39:35 minutes, it’s much slower than my normal 5k pace but I thought I’ll stick with it. Maybe I always start too fast and run out of energy for the later part of the race.
As I was getting further and further in the race I realised I’m totally loving this. I loved the cold and rainy weather, and the crowd support was totally awesome. Much much better than Berlin.
I knew that 26.2 miles is a long way around and knew that I’ll need to use the loos at some point. I went before we left the hotel, but that was back at 7am. Just when we got to mile 7 I looked around and seen many loos with absolutely no queue. I’ve decided to jump in. It’s really rare to have no queue.
But because of me stopping I’ve lost sight of the 5:45 pacer group. So I’ve spent the next mile chasing them up. But luckily I’ve done that.
I’ve met with hubby at mile 8. Bless him he was waiting for me for a long time, and i only said hi, gave him a kiss and got a bottle of Gatorade. I said to him I’m trying to keep up with the pacer so I have no time to talk. Agreed to meet up again just after half way.
When I was approaching Mile 8 I remembered to check out my virtual cheer cards. I still can’t believe how may of you left me a message. Thank you very much all 🙂
I’ve reached the 10k mark, in 1:19:28, which meant I was averaging a 12:51 mins/miles.
Usually this early in I always feel great, full smiles, not pain, no worry at all. It wasn’t any different in Chicago. It really did felt like I was flying around the course.
I was supposed to see hubby at the half way mark, but when I approached it he wasn’t there. At first I thought I missed him, so sent him a quick message on Facebook asking if he was there. Well it turns out he wasn’t . He was still on the trains. To be honest I did feel a bit disappointed, because I was so looking forward to see him. It’s always gives me so much motivation. It felt like I was back in London, in 2017 I was supposed to meet with him and Sue just after the 14 mile mark by Shadwell and they didn’t make it.
I knew that I can’t stress about it, so tried to keep my calm and concentrated in the second half of the race.
My half way point check mark was at 2:53:08.
|Split||Time Of Day||Time||Diff||min/mile||miles/h|
As you can see in the table above that I started to lose some speed by the time I’ve got to the half way point. but have to say my pace was still really constant. compared to my other 3 marathons.
Just when we crossed the half way marker the paces I was following just stopped, put his flag on the ground and started to walk. This one really surprised me. I knew if that have a bad race the pace they do is not guaranteed, but because this was my first time ever following one I was surprised.
Luckily hubby took screenshots from the tracking app and it said that my estimated finish time is 05:46:11. So this is the reason the paces put the flag down. He realised it was over the target time, so he couldn’t pace anymore.
But if you check out the screenshots below, you can see that we started out way too fast, I think. After the 8k mark our estimated finish was 5:34:14, then at 10k it was 5:35:12, 15k was 5:41:46. So as you can see the first 10 k was almost 10 mins faster than the paced target time. Maybe he burnt out too quickly and that’s why he couldn’t keep it up.
To be honest it didn’t bother me that he put the flag down. I knew well at the beginning that I wont be a 5:45 finisher. that would have been a miracle. After that moment I knew that my race is on. I’m out there all alone, no one to follow, I really had to make sure that I pace myself well for the last 13.1 miles.
By this point I had 13 mins to spare , just to finish under the 6hr cut off. It meant that I cannot stop for any toilet breaks, cannot walk like a turtle. I knew that if I need to walk I need to speed walk. But the end was still really far away.
When I seen some famous sights, I still stopped to take a photo, took pictures of cute puppies as well. I mean it was supposed to be fun. I had to take photos.
As the miles went on I’ve decided to stop by every single water stops. I didn’t feel thirsty but I felt like I need to drink , even if it’s only a small amount. So my strategy was to have a cup of Gatorade, then a few sips of water. Just to get rid of the sugary taste then pour the left over water on my head, just to keep myself cool. It wasn’t a hot day but somehow it felt like it was still cooling my down.
I started to get closer to that magic / horrible 30k mark. In Berlin that was the point when I lost the race , I totally lost it mentally. That was the point when I decided to walk the rest of the race….
When I reached the 30k mark in Chicago, to my surprise nothing happened. okey, to be honest something did. If you look at my average pace below, you can see that it was 14:12mins/miles. Which was 29 seconds waster than my 25k one.
OMG. What the heck happened? Me getting faster in the second part of the race? OMG. I thought it has to be a mistake. I never been faster in the second half of any race! but after a quick text to my hubby, he sent me my predicted finish time, and I indeed go faster with my paces.
Yes i did get slower, compared to my predicted finish at half way around, but I still had just over 4 mins to spare.
I really wasn’t sure that running the remaining 12kms in the same pace is possible, or even slower but without loosing a massive amount of time.
But at this point i just kep thinking about that I can do this, I will do this because this is my race. I really tried not checking out my phone notifications, but it just kept buzzing. I got so many messages and comments about how well I’m running. Some of you even said I still have x amount of spare minutes, so I’ll be okey. Sue kept texting me, and kept saying that i’m doing really well, just keep going etc.
Just before mile 21 I noticed a massive dog statue by the side of the road. It was a PAWS statue.
I had to ask a spectator to take a photo of me, I couldn’t just run passed without a photo.
When I last spoke with Luke he said Shelly, our host will wait for me around mile 22-23. So I tried to look out for her. When I’ve seen her it made me so happy.
After seeing her I think I’ve seen Luke at one more time briefly at mile 24. Then it was home time. Time to do the last few miles.
I have absolutely no idea what happed, but I haven’t hit the wall during this race. I just kept going, and kept reminding myself that I am totally capable to do this. I’ve trained for this many months, and I can do this.
When I crossed the 35 and 40k timeing mat I’ve got a message from hubby saying that I’m still on track. not just simply on track, but I’ve got faster ! My average pace was at 13:57 and 14:01mins/miles. So compared that to my 30k one which was 14:12 I’ve indeed got faster. I didn’t turn to be a cheetah but I did get faster.
Till today I have absolutely zero idea why and what happened. I always feel tired, knackered and slow by the end of the marathons. But this day was different. Maybe because it was raining in the morning? Or because I stayed in a hotel till almost start time? I have zero clue. But I did not hit that wall.
As you can see from above my predicted finish was 05:58:19 when I passed the 40km mark. I had 1mins 41 seconds to space. Can I run just over 2 km without loosing any time? Usually I can, but this time we talking about the last 2km of a marathon. Anything can happen.
There was a really nice long stretch before we turned on to the last few hundred yards of the race.
This last 2 km was a happy and ecstatic run. it felt like I can do this, nothing can stop me at all. Whilst others were walking – nothing wrong with walking – I ran pass them. I felt like I was at a beginning of a race when I still have loads of energy and it’s time to sprint.
Just before I turned into the Roosevelt Road, I’ve heard hubby shouting. I knew I cannot stop now, so just gave him a wave and a smile.
When I got on the top of Roosevelt road I had a look on my watch and I still had just over 2 mins to spare. So I stopped and took a photo of the finish line.
Seeing this finish line meant a lot to me. Seeing this finish line with 2 mins to spare meant the world to me. This last few metres was a happy run, I made it. I’ve done it. I had a plan and I’ve executed it perfectly. No hiccups, no hitting the wall at 30k. Nothing at all. This was the PERFECT race.
I crossed the finish line at:
I’m a sub 6hr finisher!!!!!!!!
I knew that I had this in me, I’ve trained for it. But every time I’ve tried I mentally failed. On this day in Chicago I was stronger than my brain, I decided that I won’t give up. No matter how hard it’s going to be.
The hard work just starting now. Now I know that I’m totally capable to run a sub 6 race, I need to keep this performance up. Tokyo has a really strict 7hrs ( gun time) cut off, and also Boston usually turns the clock off at 6hrs. So I’ll need to repeat this performance 2 more times. But I’m really positive about this.
Everyone who supported me, donated the charity, cheered me on, texted me on race day and after the race = THANK YOU VERY MUCH. Without you all I don’t think I’d been able to finish this well. THANK YOU.
I also wan’t to say thank you to my coach, Denise. She believed me fro day one, and the plan she wrote me worked really well. Whith her help I’ve shaved off 34 mins from my marathon time.
Now let’s finish this post with some cute medal photos with our pups and hedgie:
Before the race many people said that this race is really flat. Well they didn’t lie. Look at that elevation map:
Just a bit of a Garmin statistics at the end:
Official finish times:
4 down 2 to go
|New York||November 2017||06:32:14|
I also made a video about my race day, you can watch it here:
OMG I can’t believe that the race was over 2 weeks ago.
Because our flight was leaving London really early morning, we decided to stay in a hotel by the airport.
We woke up nice and early on the 4th of october and were on our way to the Airport. the shuttle bus turned up on time and we were the only people on it.
Because we got to the airport at 5am, we managed to get through security in no time. Then the waiting begin, our flight was booked to leave at 8.25am. So it was a long wait.
Luckily the time passed quickly and we were sitting on the plane ready to go.
I was so excited to fly, this was my longest flight to date and I had no idea what to expect.
We were flying with American Airlines, and they were perfect. Seats comfortable, food / drinks tasty and free, good inflight entertainment.
I don’t think I slept on the plane at all.
When we got to O’hare airport we had to go through customs, which was a bit of a lengthy process but got through 🙂 The only asked us one question, Why did we came to Chicago? As soon as I said to run the marathon , the gentleman wished me luck and we were on our way.
We had to make our way to Terminal 2, because that’s where the train station is, and also this was the place where we had to pick up our pre ordered 7 day Ventra travel Card. It wasn’t expensive at all, cost us 33 dollars/ person and it’s valid for 7 days, on all CTA trains and busses 🙂 Totally worth the price.
Have to say that the whole public transportation is really easy in Chicago. We used Google transit to plan all our journeys, and everything was spot on. I really can’t fault the transportation there. Really well sign posted everything, and all staff were really nice and helpful.
Ooh and it turns our if someone doesn’t buy their tickets in advance then the conductor charges them 5 dollar more! Sounds like a great idea.
In my next and probably much longer post I’ll write about the Expo and the international 5k run, which was on Saturday.
OMG the Chicago Marathon is almost here ! In a week time I’ll be there and I can’t wait.
If you’d like to follow me around the course I made a little step by step guide about how to follow me.
1. Download the official app:
2. Click on Tracking & Results
3. Search for my name “ Gabriella Waller “
4. Click on the to add me to your favourites
5. On race day you’ll be able to follow me around the course.
I’ll start my race at :
8.35am ( Chicago tome )
14.35pm ( UK time )
15.35pm ( Hungarian time )
Any questions or issues about tracking just ask
OMG I can’t believe that the week is finally here. I also can’t believe that I’ve run Berlin just 2 weeks ago, and in 6 days time I’ll be at the start line of the Chicago Marathon.
This past 2 weeks went really well. I think I’ve recovered after Berlin really easily and quickly. It helped that I took my roller with me and after the race I rolled my legs out, even though it was painful but it definitely worked 🙂
This post will be just a quick recap of this weeks events, and also will write a separate post about how can you track me on race day.
I have 2 more running sessions before we fly out on Thursday morning. Nothing fast or crazy, just nice and easy runs.
Our Flight leaves from London Heathrow, but we staying up there on Wednesday morning, mainly because we couldn’t make it up there on the day with trains, and I also don’t want to leave my car in the car park there.
We flying on Thursday with American Airlines / British Airways, they code share so I have no idea what will be painted on the side of the plane. But I have a guess it will be AA.
We only can check out to our flights on Wednesday morning, but I’ve called AA and booked our seats. So no rush with checking in.
We leaving Heathrow at 8.40am and getting to Chicago at 11.25am. When we land we have to go back to the main terminal to collect our pre ordered Ventra cards. This will enable us to use public transportation. Because our hotel got cancelled, we staying with a friend of mine. It’s so nice of them to offer a bed for us 🙂
I won’t write down our plans step by step, because it still can change. So whenever we are back I’ll definitely write a post about our adventures.
On Friday we will need to visit the expo, to collect my bib and goodiebags. Also this will be the day when I’ll be able to pick up the goodies from the charity. Cant wait 🙂
On Saturday we’ll start our day early. Luke and I are off to run the International 5k run. It’s similar to the one we’ve run in Berlin. But here at the end we are getting a medal and a hat as a present.
And of course sunday will be the Main event, Race day 🙂
Literally cannot wait for it. Can’t believe I’m running my 4th marathon, and its in Chicago.
As I said I’ll write a proper post about our day-to-day activities after the race.
Later on this week I also post about the tracking information, so if you plan to track me please keen an eye on the website, I’ll upload the information soon.
OMG the day is finally here. I’ve train for this for so long, and so much. I gave everything I had in my training.
After realising there’s no kettle in the hotel room I had to have pastry with yoghurt for breakfast. We left our hotel around 7.15am, because I really wanted to be part of the group charity photo. We agreed to meet up by Starbucks at 8am.
When we got on the train it was full with runners. I felt so happy. I can’t describe it. All the training I’ve put in the last few months, and today is race day. I knew it well that it will be over so soon. So tried to enjoy every minute of it.
After the photo I’ve said goodbye to my husband and went to my start zone, I was starting from Zone H. At this point I still had about 1.5 hours before the start.
Luckily at registration I’ve chosen to have a poncho, so didn’t need to queue up for the bag drop off. If I would do the race again I’d pick the poncho again, it saves so much time. No need to queue at all, just straight to the starting zone.
When I got to my start zone, it was still early, roughly about 8.30am, so not many people around. Had a quick loo break, and didn’t have to queue at all for it.
As the different waves started we cheered all of them. Then slowly the clock turned to 10.05am and it was our turn to start. Heard the countdown then heard the starting gun. It was time to do it, time to run. All the mixed emotions I had before were all gone by this point. I just felt happy, I felt free, glad to be there.
My first meeting point with my husband was at the 6km mark, which happened to be just in front of our hotel. I literally had no idea about this when I’ve booked the hotel. We just seen the blue line being painted on Saturday evening. Wow. Great hotel.
I felt really good about the first part of the race. Jeffing worked as well, and also seen other run-walk-runners.
My half point split was 02.52.27
It’s still about 6-8mins slower than my training runs and my best half marathon time. But even with this I was well on time to beat my target time. The first few miles were really crowded and had to take over many runners. So I assume I’ve lost some time there.
But I was still cheerful and happy. Seen Luke just after the half way mark and that gave me a massive boost.
After seeing him there, our next meeting point was at the 35km mark.
I was still going strong for a few miles, and hydrated really well, even ate some apples too from the tables.
By the time I’ve got the 35km mark I’ve lost the race mentally. My first 5k time was 39mins, the 5k between the 30-35km mark was 47 minutes. I did not get tired physically it was unfortunately more like a mental weakness. All my training runs were done by myself, so I really thought that it will help me during the race. But it did not. I was running thousands of others but I’ve felt totally alone. I felt alone, and I’ve struggled with my thoughts. I even started to question myself, why am I doing this? Other people go to the beach to have fun, not to run 26.2miles. At some point I even thought I’m not even worth to be there and I should really cancel my Chicago/Tokyo/Boston entry. At this point I’ve decided just to walk the rest of the race. I did not care if the sweeper bus picks me up and get a DNF next to my name.
Because of this mental weakness my predicted finish time went passed my dream finish of 6hrs. When I’ve seen that I really did not want to continue. I know its sounds so childish, but that’s what I’ve trained for. I wanted to be under 6hr. I wanted to be better than myself. But I failed miserably.
I felt like a total failure , I’ve trained for something but could not deliver it.
Luke even got my a Nutella pancake at the 35km mark, hoping it will cheer me up . But it did not work unfortunately. I don’t think anything could have cheered me up.
Then I’ve seen Meagan speed walking past me. She’s the founding member of the Berlin marathon Facebook group. I only chatted with her online, but this was the first time seeing her. She was struggling was her walk was faster than my attempted run. I though this is a sign, I have to keep up with her. I can walk, cant I?
So I’ve walked the last 7.192km with her. OMG. I had a look at my splits and those km walked were faster than my running pace in the last few km. We walked , chatted, walked, smiled to the camera guys. I felt great again, I felt alive. I felt like I could go again for hours and hours.
Then I’ve realised why I’ve lost my race, I’ve lost it because I was out there alone. I literally had no one to talk to for 30km, no one to share my struggles, or even my happiness when I was running great splits. Yes, I’ve seen hubby a few timed during the race, but it’s not the same. He couldn’t run with me.
We’ve crossed the finish line together with Meagan. I’ll be forever grateful for her. To pick me up at km 35 and fast walk with me to the finish line. She kept me going, even when I thought I can’t go any longer. Thank you so so much !!!
We’ve crossed that magic finish line in 06:22:52.
To my surprise I even PBd! This time is a whole 10 mins faster than my time in New York in last November. I can’t believe it. What would have happened if I wont lose it mentally at km35?
As you can see I’m back at my happy self at the finish 🙂 Like nothing has happened. But I knew that I’m struggled a lot, and I need to sort this out by the time I get to Chicago. I know im strong physically just need to get my mental game on.
So I’ve got a PB even though I had the worst race of my life. I have 2 weeks to sort myself out, and get out there and get a better performance in Chicago. I CAN do it and I WILL do it.
After arriving Berlin and checking into our hotel ( you can read all of that here ) we went back to Berlin Central station to make our way to the Expo.
I’m part of a few Berlin Marathon training groups on Facebook, and during our train journey I’ve read many horror stories about the Expo. Mainly how disorganised was. Massive queues everywhere, hour-long wait for packet pick up ect.
At Expo was located at the old Tempelhof Airport.
At first I had no idea what to expect from it. How can they hold an expo in an airport? Well the Germans done it, I think it was really well organised.
We’ve arrived around 17.40 and there was no queue at all! The expo was closing at 19.00 on the Friday so we had just less than an hour and half to get around.
When we got into the building it was sectioned by hangar by hangar. At first I had to separate from Luke, because they had to give me my special marathon bracelet. I needed this to be able to go into the packet pick up area, and also it’s needed for the race on Sunday.
As you can see in the above photo there are not many people queuing for packet pick up. Also have to say Germans are really efficient, they didn’t have the bib numbers pre printed, instead they only printed the ones they needed. So when I got there I gave the volunteer my Start card + Passport, she found me in the system and then she printed out my bib number. So there’s no wastage at all. I remember seeing hundreds or even thousands of uncollected bibs at the London expo last year.
After packet pick up we went to collect my pre ordered merchandise. I pre ordered my finishing t-shirt and event jacket. Because many people said they sell out pretty fast. For this we had to go out of the hangars, and they had a table there. Had to show my collected bib to the volunteer and she grabbed my T-shirt and Event jacket.
I think both of them looks and feels really nice. They are a bit tight, but mainly because I have bigger boobs. Which is really strange because they are Adidas, the same make as my London merchandise, and those items are fitting perfectly. Never mind 🙂
After this we walked around a bit more, but then eventually we left. Didn’t buy anything else.
In the below photo you can see what was in the goodie bag. Did you see the yellow sponge?! Hahahah
Saturday – Breakfast Run
We/ve started our Saturday really early. I was so excited about the 6k breakfast run that I couldn’t really sleep overnight.
We’ve left our hotel around 8am, to get to the start by 9.30am.
Public transport was spot on again.
The start point was at the Shloss Charlottenburg, it’s a Palace. By the time we got there they already had the party started. Music on, balloons in the air and loads of happy runners all over the place.
The run was roughly 6km, but I’ve stopped my watch just after the 5k mark. Because at that point we were queuing to get into the Olympics stadium. So I did not want to record the walking parts. It worth every single minutes of running to finish at the Olympics stadium. It’s awesome. It’s massive. It’s beautiful. OMG. And this run was totally free to attend, what an experience.
At the end of the run we managed to grab a bit of a breakfast. It wasn’t a cooked one, but still tasted good, and don’t forget it was all free.
After the run we’ve decided to go to the Brandenburg gate. I’ve really wanted to take a photo of the Hall of Fame. This wall had all registered runners name on it, New York done the same last year. It took us about 10 mins to find my name, but we did it 🙂
After that we’ve done a bit more sightseeing, and had our normal pasta dinner. Then went to bed early, all ready for the big day ahead.
But more about that in my next post.
To be honest I wa really nervous about this travel. Mainly because I knew that we need to get to Berlin on Friday because I really wanted tp pick up my race bib on the Friday. I’ve hears horror stories about marathon expos on Saturdays. Didn’t want to risk it.
We decided to spend Thursday night up in London, because our Eurostar train was leaving at 6.13am. There’s no train services from Andover or even from Basingstoke that early in the morning to get us up there by 5am. So we stayed a lovely cosy hotel , 10 mins from St Pancras International.
Because I love being nice and early we walked to the station about 4.50am 😀 Hardly anyone in the queue and not many people in the terminal either.
Had to wait to be able to board a train, but we were on the train about 5.45am. The train did leave bang on time, so I was really pleased with it.
After a few hours of travelling we have arrived to Brussels. It’s a massive station, but so nice and clean.
While we were still on the Eurostar I’ve decided to download an app called DB Navigator. If you ever go to Germany and will use the trains you’ll need this app. It tells you exactly what platform your train will be, and to my total surprise the train formations as well. So everyone who booked a seat, like us, will know where to stand on the platform.
This train had some issues during our journey, so unfortunately it developed a bit of a delay. But the conductor announced it many times that we don’t need to worry because in Koln they will hold our connecting train. So we will all make our train to Berlin. Wow.
Also on the platforms they had massive interactive boards, telling customers about train formations and where to stand on the platform.
We did have a really nice and comfortable journey on the ICE trains. Can’t fault them at all. All conductors/guards/train managers knew about our FIP Coupons, and wished us a relaxing journey. All trains we took made announcement in multiple languages ( French, Dutch, German, English.
Catering facilities were spot on as well.
We’ve seen a few double-decker trains as well. Couldn’t resist taking a photo of them 😀
Because we reserved our seats on the DB trains, we had nothing to worry about when we got on the trains.
We were supposed to arrive to Berlin at 17.07 but at the end we got there at 17.10. So not a massive delay at all. Even though the Brussels – Koln train was late, but because the held our Koln – Berlin train our delay for the whole day was only 3mins at the end. So I don’t think that too bad for a journey like this.
The above photo shows you the front of the main train station in Berlin, Berlin HBF. It’s a massive station with many trains.
When we arrived we decided to go and check into our hotel first, then go to the expo. Luckily I’ve changed our hotel reservation, and this new one was only 10 mins walk from the station. Lovely clean hotel, massive rooms, and friendly staff. The only disadvantage that they did not have any tea making facilities 🙁 So the porridges I’ve taken with my self was a waste, I couldn’t eat them before the race. But other than that everything was spot on.
In my next post I’ll write about the Expo and our Saturday, then finally I’ll write about my race.