“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” – Rosalia de Castro
Last thought before a race: “Why am I doing this?” First thought after a race: “When can I do this again?”
Two passions of mine combined in one weekend: running & traveling!
Sometimes people ask me; “Aren’t you tired of running?”, “Why don’t you just visit the city and explore around when you go abroad?”, “You will go to XXX country just for a run? Crazy!”, “Do you also pay for these marathons??? Even if they pay me money, no way I would run 10k! (20k or 25K)”
My answers to these are;
No, I am not tired. Running is my therapy. I feel much better after a run. Believe me, I am a much better person after I had my run that day. (Ok, truth is, of course sometimes I feel tired. It is important to listen to your body. If you feel tired, don’t run for a day. Either take a rest day or do crosstraining.)
Running and joining a marathon is just an excuse for traveling. I wouldn’t have gone to Athens or Berlin if I hadn’t sign up for a marathon there. Those runs have much more into them. Running 10K or 25K is just a “tiny” part of it 🙂
Yes, me and other millions of crazy people pay in order to run 21K or 42K or even more! We pay and we “suffer” for 2hrs or more 🙂 The feeling you get after completing a marathon is just amazing! Hard to explain it, especially to someone who doesn’t like running. If you haven’t heard of it, check the meaning of “Runner’s High” 🙂 and this is how you achieve it.
Back to my weekend… I travelled to Berlin with 3 crazy runner friends of mine for a 25K race: BIG 25K BERLIN.
Why 25K? Why Berlin?
I love the motto of the race!
The Course is fast: You will run on the present world record course!
This year, 11,480 runners registered for the 35th edition of the BIG 25 Berlin – this was the highest entry number since 1990!
This trip had several “firsts” for us;
We spent only 2 nights in Berlin. But did so much!
We (me, Ali and Emre) arrived to our apartment around 11am. Need to fuel up! We started to walk searching for a nice place to eat. Found one! I had Hawaii Toast (which I became addictive to) and boys had pasta with vegetables and Turkey. Perfect carb-loading!
Zeynep was traveling from İstanbul and she had different flights with us (we traveled from Ankara). While waiting for her, we decided to pick up our race kits.
After picking our numbers and chips, we met Zeynep and friends of Emre. First we had coffee and cake. Apfel-Streuselkuchen was the best! Then We had a lovely car ride and walk in Berlin and had “Flammkuchen” (or tarte flambee) . Of course we are always in favour of “sharing”, so we ordered 3 different types and enjoyed them all 😉 Thank you Barbara for taking us to Capital Beach (near Berlin Hbf) and making us try delicious Flammkuchens.
After dinner, we went to a super-market and bought “some” food for pre-race breakfast and post-race snacking! (Bananas and chocolate flavoured milk are runners best friend!) We needed to eat high-energy food before the run.
Lucky us! S-Bahn trains were on strike that weekend! But thanks to Danielle (Emre’s friend) and DriveNow car sharing system in Berlin, we managed to reach our apartment before 10.30pm. Plenty of time to relax and get ready for the big race 😉
After a light breakfast, we left our apartment around 8.20am. The run was going to start at 10.00am. In the metro, we were all amazed by hundreds of runners heading to the start line. (the previous day I was saying “Why aren’t there any brochures, ads of the run? I am not sure if these people know about it and whether they’ll run). Obviously, I was wrong 😉
We reached the stadium around 9.00am. We had one hour. Several things to do before the race; 1) take photos. 2) use the bathroom! 3) leave our bags 4) Warm-up 5) Use the bathroom again! 6) More photos!
Runner were divided into blocks. Ali and Emre were in Block 2, whereas me and Zeynep were in Block 3. After taking a final selfie, we wished each other good luck and positioned ourselves in our blocks.
Each of us had different paces and different targets for the finish. No matter what, we were all going to run 25K!
This was my longest road race. Although previously I completed 4 half-marathons (PB: 1:44 in Runatolia HM), and a 29K trail run, I had never run more than 21K in a race tempo. After Runatolia 2015 Half-marathon, I had an injury which prevented me from running for 2 weeks. After a rest period, I got back to running with short distances and slow/moderate paces. That meant no hill training, no interval training or no tempo runs. 10 days before the race, I ran 22K with avg pace 5:35 and felt proud 🙂 However, I knew it would be pointless to try doing PB in this race (for 10K or HM).
My aim was to test my body and see how it feels after 21K, develop endurance and overall enjoy BERLIN!
My target time for 25K was 2:10:00. Which meant avg. pace of 5:12 per km. But this depended on the weather, how I felt that day, the environment, etc…
I divided the race into 5 in my mind. Each 5K was a race in itself.
My plan didn’t work perfectly, of course. However, overall I reached my target time. 🙂
First 1K was full of passing people and trying to find a nice tempo for myself. Then until 16K I was feeling quite well. My pace didn’t go below 5:11. However, it was after this moment the real race/challenge was starting. My hearth rate was okay but legs were getting tired. Moreover, the wind was very powerful. I was struggling… especially at 21K which was slightly uphill also…
My pace was dropping. 5:17, 5:33, 5:16… Thus, around 19K, I started to feel pain in my left knee. Not something unbearable, but something annoying…. But I was not going to give up! Only 5K left. Even if I were to maintain my tempo, I knew that I would be able to finish it in 2:10.
“Keep it up Sevgi. You are close… Come on! Final 3K. Yes you can”
I started to play a game. I was spotting the female runner ahead of me. Then telling myself, come on Sev you can pass her 🙂 So gradually I was approaching and passing her. Not sure how many female runners I passed like that but more than 15 I believe 😉
Final 2K! Oh no wind again! and uphill! Ahhh when is this going to end?!?! Why am I doing this… When I checked my watch for the avg pace of 24thK, I saw 5:28 and got mad! I was trying and I thought I was fast. But no, my garmin didn’t agree.
Final 1 K… Come on Sev, give all you have.. 🙂 I knew that the race was going to end in the Stadium. I was waiting for that moment to enter the stadium. Before the stadium we entered a tunnel. There was live music and exotic lighting 🙂 That moment, I was reborn again! Run run run! I entered the stadium! Amazing! And I saw the FINISH! Final 300m, 200m, come on… 100m and yes I did it!
25K – 2:09:24 (although my Garmin says the course was 25.2K)
Not much to say. I believe photos explain it better 🙂
Another reason why this weekend was special is because after a year, I met my old friend Marlen! In 2014 she visited Turkey and we even ran Bodrum Global run together 🙂 It was great to see her again.
Running – connecting people 😉