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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Humbling Race in Berlin

Bitterness of beer was such a welcoming change after oversaturation of sugar from Gatorade, power bars, and gels. Resting on a stone bench and savoring my second glass of non-alcoholic Erdinger I was mesmerized watching volunteers working behind a long set of tables in Tent Beer. Economy of scale would suggest that beer is served on taps to such a large clientele, more than 45,000 to be precise. Surprisingly, the bartenders, a bottle in each hand, were pouring beer from both bottles simultaneously into a pair of x-large plastic cups that were quickly claimed by thirsty crowd of Berlin Marathon finishers. A big bonus of racing in Germany,I reflected, although Chicago had done it back in 2010 with a real alcoholic one.

I still had half an hour before a meeting with Alma gang at pre-arranged location in the nearby park. A little bit of time to process my thoughts after the race. This was my number 9. Each race was so unique and different. BMOs in Vancouver felt “routine”, Portland was “qualifying”, Boston felt “classic”, Chicago was “scorching”, Eugene “ecstatic”, New York “punishing”. What about the race I just finished?

Time of 20 minutes slower than aimed for was deeply disappointing but should not overshadow, I reasoned, the overall enjoyment of this great city, perfect weather, huge crowds, massive expo, group of close friends who came from Germany, Poland and Vancouver to run this race.

In disbelief I checked my Garmin again only to see the same 3:22, the slowest marathon since BMO in May 2009. “It was your first run after a lower back injury last year in December”, I tried to comfort my hurt ego. “How come you hadn’t adjusted your expectations”, replied my rational brain. Did I become overconfident in my running abilities and expected to run sub-3 marathon on any given day despite limited weekly mileage due to injury?

My cup was empty. It was time to go. On my way, I grabbed my third Erdinger and started limping to meet my friends contemplating this “humbling” lesson that reminded me that regardless if it’s your first, 9th, or 99th race, these 26.2 miles is a long, long way to run.

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