race report by Vishwas Suryavanshi
CHAPTER 1: Training
Exactly an year ago when I decided to run Berlin Marathon I started dreaming a BQ attempt. After 3.17 at TMM in January 2019 it was clear that Berlin will be my BQ attempt and I started planning accordingly. Actual 14 weeks training started in June but base building and the regular training was going on continuously. As training started in June initial period was little easy and then intensity started to increase.
This time there was a change in training approach and mileage was high. All Thursday runs were at Marathon pace, long intervals and HR followed by aerobic runs on Sunday. Entire training cycle went well without missing a single run, many times we ran in heavy rain. Also Friday and Wednesday were strength training days.
My schedule have been very hectic considering my daily travel and work hours, still I manage to get min 6 hours of sleep. During every workout I was thinking about Berlin Marathon and as training progress my confidence started to build bcoz of comfortness I was feeling while hitting the 4.15 pace on Thursday runs and long intervals at even faster pace. Plan was to do two shoot up HM races during the training, so 1.31 at Nio and 1.32 at Hyderabad were confidence booster. Constant eye on how much I weigh (in a range of 56-57kg), focused diet plan, not single pint 🍻 since last 4 months are focus areas apart from workouts. After all this hard training over 4 months I was up for my first BQ attempt and traveled to Berlin.
CHAPTER 2: In Berlin
Trip to Berlin was exciting, we reached Berlin on Thursday morning and found that weather is very cold and perfect for running. We went to hotel and then to the expo in the evening. Good that we visited expo on Thursday itself as it was less crowded. Friday and Saturday expo were very crowded and people had to wait 3-4 hours in queue for Bib collection.
Friday morning we did 5k run and it was drizzling little during the run. Felt good and excited for Sunday event. Came to the our hostel. Had good lunch followed by walking tour to Brandenburg gate. Climate was very chill and I was feeling cold had one tablet in the evening.
Saturday was complete rest. I started feeling feverish and upper body was not that relaxed. During the lunch with Muthu sir we decided to take one crosin and had a power nap. Another crosin after the dinner. I was in dilemma what to do. Having Krishna, Souvik and Rashmi with me was a great support. We decided let’s not think about it and give our best as per plan. With positive intend in mind went to the bed at 9 pm.
CHAPTER 3: Race Day
Got up at 5 am, asked Krishna to check whether I have a fever or not. He said “kuch nahi hai chal, jyada soch mat”. But I knew it’s not going to be my day as I was feeling low on energy. Had a good breakfast, did all the things as per plan and started to starting line at 8 am.
I was wearing singlet, tee, poncho and jacket. At Brandenburg gate where spectators were not allowed after that point I gave my jacket to Rashmi. Krishna n me went to the coral C at 8.40. Did warmup and watched all other formalities at the start point. At 9 am had one 5star chocolate and just before the 5 min of flag off took off my additional tee and also removed the poncho, and that was very cold. Started moving to start line, sharp at 9.15 gun was fired and race started it took us only 15 sec to cross the start line.
It’s very crowded initially and within 100 mtr only other runner hit my shoe and fortunately I did not fall down, I realized I have to be very careful. Started running on blue line and implementing the pacing and nutrition plan. From first km only started taking gel. I had 5 gels. One gel for 8km likewise and Salt tablet after every 10k. Implemented this plan without fail. Similarly on pacing front initial km was 7 sec slower than target pace then gradually settled at Marathon pace, same what I did in practice. Huge crowd, race anxiety were making me little fast but I kept on telling myself “Save It, Save it” I will need this energy in second half after 30k.
Split race into two halves 30k and 12k. Completed Half marathon in 1.30.47 as per plan. Pacing was perfectly as per plan. But I knew that I am putting more energy than I used to put during training and this is going to cost me later.
Rain has already started. Forecast was 11 am. I thought I trained in rain so could be managed but I was feeling very cold, didn’t want to drink water because that was also chill. Completed 25 K in 30 sec slower than target. 30k 2 min slower and by the time I reached 35k I was 6 min late and I realized that BQ is not going to happen today. I don’t have energy to push in fact even to maintain. Nose was already flooding 🤧. Completely low on energy.
At 37th km Krishna crossed me (he ran amazingly and clocked massive PB) , started following him but couldn’t do that for more than 100 meters. Great to saw Rashmi and India team at 39th km. Gave my gel belt to Rashmi. While passing through the hotel I was thinking to give up and go to the hotel and have warm cloths. No windy but rain increased badly towards end and I was feeling dam cold. But somehow didn’t want to have DNF at first WMM. So decided to finish in whatever time it may be.
At 41km both the 3.15 pacers crossed me. Wanted to have smiling, good running form pictures at Brandenburg gate but all these dreams remain dreams only. Somehow crossed the finish line and its a big big relief. Nowhere close to my target (12-15 min slippage). Same time as it was in TMM in fact 40 sec slower. This is my 9th FM and till today every marathon was a PB and that tradition has been broken.
It was raining badly, received the beautiful medal and poncho. I was shivering a lot, had to walk a lot at baggage counter I asked them to allow me to come inside and sit for a while. They took me inside and called the medical guys immediately. They gave me warm blanket and took me to the medical tent. Checked my BP, HR and gave me hot coffee, after 30 min situation become normal and I started walking to the meeting point where Krishna and Rashmi were waiting for me. Then I could not control my emotions 😓. Great to have Rashmi there, she was carrying warm cloths. Later Muthu sir and Souvik came and we started walking back to hotel.
Little viral is enough to break your marathon. Somehow I couldn’t acclimatized well with the conditions, should have spent some more days at Berlin before the race Or was it an aggressive target and I faded in the second half, should have wear the full sleeves instead of singlet to bear the cold these are the all excuses and topic for further analysis and corrective actions.
Whatever may be the reason, but at the end of the day I missed the opportunity despite of training so hard and that’s the disappointment I can not hide though this wasn’t the only opportunity. At the same time satisfied with my effort considering situation.
Hard work and learning from failure will lead to success. It’s time to re-asses the fitness, revisit the target and move on for next one. Training doesn’t go waste and will carry this momentum for TMM.
Berlin Marathon is one of the best organized road race. Every aspect was taken care perfectly and well managed. Crowd support was awesome throughout the route.
I really want to thank my family for a great support and sacrifices, my coach Atul for personalized training and constant eye on my progress, Kavitha, Krishna, Vipin, Prashant for partnering Thursday runs, thanks to Shrutika for water support during long runs. Thanks to all Pune Roadrunners, Team Motiv8 runners, PCMC runners and friends from entire running community. Special thanks to Rashmi who traveled all the way from Belgium to Berlin for our race which helped us a lot during our stay.
Overall Berlin Marathon has been eventful journey starting from Air tickets re-bookings due to sudden shut down of Jet Airways (yet to get the refund), then Visa rejection, appeal against rejection and so on.
Road to BQ won’t be an easy task and that will keep me motivated.