It’s hard going on holiday to run a marathon. The days before you’re so nervous that it’s difficult to fully enjoy yourself. Or eat and drink whatever you want, or walk lots and lots. You’re always thinking “will this help for the race?” and that’s not particularly how you want to be on holiday.
But saying that, there is something truly amazing about running a marathon in a foreign country. Ben and me caught a mid-morning flight to Berlin so we left the house at 6.30am. Though an early wake-up call it meant we could have a nice breakfast at the airport. Sadly not Jamie’s Italian, but Giraffe (which is also very, very good).
I had an omelette with lots of roasted vegetables and an avocado salsa (ooh err!) with sourdough toast. Thankfully this was quite filling as we missed lunch entirely because we wanted to get to the marathon expo ASAP when we got to Berlin. When we landed, we got a taxi to the hotel and then headed straight to the old disused airport from there where the expo was happening.
It was huge inside with so many running-related stalls selling clothes, trainers, gels, nutrition…basically everything running-related. It wasn’t like anything was cheaper than normal so Ben and me just by-passed it all and headed straight to the bib collection.
One of the big rooms of running stalls
FYI it’s the furthest possible point – just to ensure you do indeed walk past every flipping stall possible. Not particularly fun for poor Ben who couldn’t actually run at the moment. Almost like a big “F*** you” from the Berlin marathon 🙁 especially when he wasn’t allowed to come with me to collect his bib: “runners only”. I’d have probably burst into tears at this point if I was him but Ben was a true trooper and just waited patiently for me.
There was no queue to speak of which was a relief as I’d heard horror stories of hour-long waits. Friday late afternoon is the way forward!
There was a huge crowd of people all trying to get a photo like the one above and we patiently waited until it was my turn. Embarrassingly as it got to my turn and I stood there ready for my photo a woman pointed at me and said “your bib’s the wrong way up”. Nailed it, Anna.
Ben and me proceeded to then walk
a million miles ages to find food. We headed in the direction of our hotel (which was a 45 minute walk away) and hoped to find somewhere en route, or worst case just eat in the hotel. We hadn’t eaten since 7.30am (except for an apple or two for me and an airplane snack for Ben) and it was now coming up to 6pm…Things were tense.
Hilariously we walked up the red light district without realising it. The first lady I saw I was about to say to Ben “oh those boots and skirt combo are a bit risqué, aren’t they?” when I saw her shake her wears at a passerby. Yikes! Ben and me just kept our eyes down and power walked on. It was rather funny though. Finally (away from the red light area!) we found a lovely little restaurant.
We both had beef Carpaccio to start (delicious!) and I, erm…had Caesar salad. It’s embarrassing to admit I know. I just love it! It was just alright: no bacon and no anchovies but good pieces of parmesan shavings and nice chicken. I went for a brownie and ice cream for pudding. It wasn’t dense enough a brownie for a true wow factor but it hit the spot.
And Ben began as he meant to go on…sampling the local wheat beer. I had a few sips and must say I quite enjoyed it. Very light.
We stayed at the Hotel Berlin, which I highly recommend. We had a lovely spacious room with a 70s theme. It even had a mini balcony.
The bathroom was lovely. It had one of those monsoon walk in shower things and a normal shower head for proper hair wash action.
Basically, lovely rooms, great breakfast (buffet – hello!), brilliant service, a gym (which I did not step into) and about 15 minute walk from the Tiergarten and a 30 minute walk from the Brandenburg Gate.
The next morning I got up at 8am and went for an easy 3 mile run around Tiergarten.
Beautiful scenery to run around in a capital city!
My dad had arrived the night before at a nearby hotel and so joined us for breakfast after we’d showered. He paid for breakfast while we had ours included.
I’d be lying if I said this was all I had. Honestly, this was the best hotel breakfast ever. Roasted vegetables with pine nuts and sundried tomatoes – heavenly! Little meatball things – so good! Eggs – delicious! Crispy bacon! All so good. And I had a pretzel style roll as well to go with this. Then followed it by a bowl of fresh fruit salad. The choice was amazing. From sweet pastries, donuts, muffins, to normal bread, German bread, fruit bread, pretzel bread, smoked salmon, all kind of egg, beans, cheeses, meats, cereals…honestly there was so much to choose from. So I ate everything. Joking. Though I did make a fair dent 😉
Then we headed out to see some sights. We walked past the Tiergarten and up to the Victory Column (the Siegessäule: the gold gold statue thing below) and then headed down the long road to the Brandenburg Gate. The roads had been closed off and ready for the marathon (and the skating marathon that would be happening later that day – yes, people skated on rollerblades the marathon).
After walking for an hour or so Ben and my dad demanded a refreshment stop…the beer marathon was to begin 😉
I got a sparkling water and popped a High5 Zero tablet in it to make sure I stayed hydrated – it fizzed up quite dramatically! My dad and Ben got strange pink beers which made for a humorous photo 😉
It was strange to see so many marathon signs and road blockages and made me very nervous!
We walked to Checkpoint Charlie and saw the remains of the Berlin wall (which separated the East and West of Berlin and only came down in 1989!) at the Topography of Terrors.
It was very interesting but also quite depressing. What a scary time to have lived.
Then we headed to Postdamer Platz which is very urban and modern.
After sight seeing for a bit we got fairly hungry and started to look out for a nice place for lunch that wasn’t outrageous in price, which meant walking a fair bit from the main tourist bits.
We seemed to eat a lot of Italian-style meals over the holiday! Ben and me had a sort of platter of dried meats, Carpaccio and roasted vegetables and then I had a feta and olive salad. There was so much feta! I was defeated. This has never happened before with a salad, it was just too salty to eat so much.
I had a major panic when I realised I didn’t actually bring any safety pins with me from home and at the expo I didn’t pick any up (if they even had any there). What a numpty!! I didn’t know what to do. We looked in a few supermarkets but found nothing. Suddenly we were surrounded by hundreds of children who had just finished the mini-marathon and all brandishing their medals…and they were all wearing bibs with safety pins. It was a cruel mocking of my idiocy. I tried to ask one lady for if she had any spares or if I could have her son’s now unneeded safety pins but she looked blankly at me and talked to me in rapid German. I was started to fret when I spotted a boy who was just taking his bib off. I leapt over to him and asked for his safety pins. He was German but could speak English and was more than happy for me to have his pins. Thank you!!! Panic over. And I could resign my position from being weird English girl trying to steal safety pins from unsuspecting children…
Then we walked back. We were almost at our hotel when we saw the skaters fly by! They were amazing. So fast. Though some of them were holding on to each other, creating a long train. I guess they were in teams?
We then killed some time just chilling in the hotel lobby (Ben and my dad now on their 6th or 7th beers?!) We had walked quite a long way! Not a brilliant plant the day before a marathon…
My dad, bless him, started falling asleep while reading a magazine.
Then later on we headed for another Italian meal in a nearby restaurant. We got there fairly early but within an hour or so it became packed with marathon runners wanting their carbolific meal.
Like I said in my marathon post, I had a large pizza and a massive bottle of sparkling water (I love European sparkling water, it just tastes amazing). Then Ben stayed with my dad in the lobby of hotel for more beers while I went to bed. In the end Ben and my dad had 12 beers each!!
Despite maybe too much walking (33,700 steps: over 16 miles!) it was a lovely day to just take my mind off things and enjoy the scenery and sights. It was so nice having my dad there as well as Ben had a partner in crime 😉
Have you ever been to Berlin before?
Do you do lots of walking on holiday?
How do you prepare for a big race?