Race report- Berlin Marathon 2021- Grace Lynch
Over the last number of years, I have competed across a range of disciplines in the sport of endurance running- from speed-based events on the track, to 8k cross country races and even 10k road races. There certainly is a lot to choose from. As I progressed year on year, I fell in love with road running. It is where I feel most confident in my abilities as a runner and look forward to the challenge of a race. With more specific training, my times on the road began to improve and I remember feeling the excitement of knowing that I would one day get to experience the magic of the marathon distance.
Fast Forward to September 26th, 2021, after nearly 2 years enduring a world pandemic, I joined the 25,000 other competitors on the start of one of the World major marathons, Berlin 2021. I knew I had prepared well, and I was ready, but as the challenge of 26.2 miles lay ahead, there were more uncertainties than I had ever encountered before. As my debut marathon, there were a lot of questions- would I achieve my goal, could I maintain my pace target, would my fuelling strategy work? But as the 10 second countdown began; I focused on the challenge and knew this was my time to prove to myself that I could achieve what I set out to do.
My training in the lead up to Berlin had gone pretty much to plan. I embraced the long training runs, the marathon specific workouts and the weekly mileage load. Being honest, I thoroughly enjoyed it! The big spect was ensuring I stayed on top of recovery and fuelled properly before, during and after each session. To arrive ready for your marathon, you definitely need to lead a lifestyle that is in line with the demands of the training, so plenty of sleep, rest and recovery were essential in reducing any risk of injury and ensuring I arrived in Berlin, healthy and ready to roll.
I was lucky to have family and friends supporting me on race day and we have pre planned points on the racecourse where I could grab drinks and gels from them. Our target was Km 2, 23 and 34. Knowing they would be there as I approached each marker was such a lift, especially into the latter part of the race. Being able to focus on them and getting to those points was hugely motivating and really gave me an appreciation of just how important it is to have supporters on the course. The support in Berlin was incredible, thousands of people out supporting every runner, each who had their own individual journey to get to the start line.
As each mile ticked by, I was feeling controlled and relaxed, but as the saying goes, the last 6 miles is where the marathon really starts, and I can confirm – it’s certainly true. I knew I had to dig in deep for the final 10km if I wanted to stay on pace. I managed to maintain my pace and the cheering crowds and sight of the Brandenburg gates gave me the lift I needed to push on and cross the finish line of my debut marathon. As I made my way through the finish area, I bumped into Irish club runners, and we all shared our own experiences of the last few hours. Embracing my family and friends in the family area made this really what it is- a team effort. From my coaches to my family and friends and the team in All Real, I can’t describe how important it is to have a team of people around you who push you forwards in the journey to achieving your goal- whatever that may be.
All I can really say was it was such an incredible experience. As I sit here now, a few weeks on from race day and recovery well and truly underway, I’m already excited for when the next race will be. But for now, I can safely say I have finally found a distance I am truly passionate about. So, whatever your passion in life is, go after it because you just never know where it might take you 😊