Yesterday I did something I’ve never done before — I ran a half marathon without having any idea of my pace. I’ve been training like that for weeks now with the goal of rediscovering my love of running…
I had reached a point where I was burnt out on training for speed, as well as a bit overwhelmed with other stuff in my life that required a lot of time and attention. So rather than bail on one of my favorite races, I devoted myself to putting in the training miles, but without the added pressure of trying to achieve a specific pace. I’m a very Type-A person and I love having ALL THE INFORMATION, so the only way for me to do this was to relinquish my GPS-watch completely and instead just run by effort.
Whaddya know, it worked! Suddenly I wasn’t dreading my training runs anymore and I was actually accomplishing all of my planned workouts. Well, until I came down with a(nother) cold during my week of peak training. How frustrating! I missed my longest training run, and it wasn’t until a week ago that I was sure I’d be healthy enough to run the race. Quite honestly, the Berlin half marathon seemed doomed! But I wanted to carry this little experiment all the way through to the end, so I made my plans to travel to Berlin and intentionally left my watch behind in Bremen.
And guess what? I had SO much fun! Along the entire course I made sure to take everything in and just enjoy myself. I mean, how could I not while running through the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie and all through one of my favorite cities in the world? I had a much better sense of orientation than I did when I ran it for the first time in 2012,and always knew exactly where we were in the city. Part of that is knowing Berlin better these days, but a lot of it has to do with being constantly present and aware while I was running.
Not to say that the race was a piece of cake, by any means. I felt really strong and that gave me the confidence I needed to push myself and make myself uncomfortable. It was amazing! It was even more amazing because I didn’t do it to achieve a time, but rather because I was having a blast. There was absolutely nothing else in the world that I would have rather been doing than pounding out 13.1 miles on a chilly and damp morning with tens of thousands of other crazy runners.
Mission accomplished, wouldn’t you say? Today I’m back in Bremen with some sore muscles, but otherwise feeling good. I’m still reflecting on the experience and thinking about how I can carry this feeling forward into my future running and training. I can’t wait!
P.S. For photos along the actual race route, check out my race report from my last Berlin half marathon, which was on a much sunnier day!
P.P.S. Here are a few other race reports you might enjoy: