I first started thinking about running a marathon about a year ago. Those thoughts got more serious in May, after Pete finished his first and didn’t swear off the distance. And when I started this site, I committed the goal to writing. But I wasn’t registered for a race, and that made the whole plan to run a marathon feel less real. More “Oh yeah, I’ll do that someday, I guess” and less “this is the day on which I will run 26.2 miles, and these are the weeks in which I will put in the effort to make it happen.”
Well. It’s real now.
On September 30, 2012, I will be one of 40,000 runners taking a 42.2-kilometer lauf through Berlin!
I may have kicked around other marathons — Seattle, Portland, Philly — but Berlin is the race I wanted to run all along. This spring, in the brief and blissful period between grad school and job-hunting, Pete and I spent some time traveling around Europe, cashing in a tax refund to take the trip we had both dreamed of after college but delayed for years. Of all the cities we saw, Berlin stole our hearts the fastest; within hours, we were trying to figure out how to wrangle jobs there so we could just never leave. We ran in a lot of cities on that trip, but the run in Berlin is the one I think about the most — jogging awestruck through the Brandenburg gate, waving to huge groups of runners out training in the Tiergarten, somehow ending up running through the back of the zoo as flamingoes and llamas wandered toward us. It was a particularly magical run in a city I loved on a trip that I can still barely believe we pulled off. I wanted my first marathon to be something more than just a race, and Berlin fits that bill.
What truly sold the trip, though, was Oktoberfest. It’s really very nice of Germany to schedule a marathon on the last Sunday of September, then have a giant beer-and-pretzel-and-dumpling-and-meat festival continue through the first Sunday of October. Munich was also on our spring itinerary, and we weren’t even through our first liters of beer before we were talking about our eventual return for Oktoberfest.
We really are so lucky that the timing worked out. We delayed registering while friends searched for a wedding venue and tried to choose a date, and the bride in that wedding deserves a medal for putting up with constant, pestering e-mails from this antsy bridesmaid who wanted to know if she could move forward with her international run-and-carbfest. We got the OK around 8:45 on Wednesday morning; we were registered by 9:15 a.m., among the last 4,000 of 40,000 entries.
It’s been such a flurry of activity in the past 24 hours — registering for the race, booking a hotel just to get something reserved as many prime places were already full, then booking an Oktoberfest hotel for the same reason, then happening to find a cheap flight between Berlin and Munich, then suddenly buying tickets for the international flight that we swore up and and down we wouldn’t purchase for months when the itinerary was too good to let slip away — that I have to keep reminding myself this is almost a year from now. The countdown clock reads 43 weeks. It’ll be six months before I’m training for this race.
But that doesn’t mean I won’t be thinking “Berlin! Berlin! Berlin!” (and “beer! beer! beer!”) on every run between now and then. And grinning like an idiot.
Oh Berlin — I can’t wait to see you like this!