Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Berlin Marathon 2011

I did it - the Berlin Marathon! It took me 5 hours 45 minutes, at a leisurely pace, including stopping for toilets, free massage and loads of free refreshments. I ran with two other English people, one my mate Kat and another woman called Anne who we met in the toilet queue before the race started. 
Running the marathon was honestly one of the most fun I'd had in ages. 

A few days before, Kat and I went to the expo at Tempelhoff Airport, and there I met a couple, who joined me at the outdoor picnic tables. The man told me 'Definitely do the fun run the morning before the marathon. You won't regret it.' It was quite a bold move for me to run 6km before my first ever marathon, especially one that had been marred by shoddy training and serious confidence knocks. But he assured me, it was worth it. 

The day before the marathon, I joined what became an increasingly mammoth sized party on the U-bahn at Merringdam station. People from literally every country hopped on the train, most of them in garish costume garb, which was totally amusing. The fun run started at a pace that I wouldn't normally even jog in, but I kept up with the majority, even though I could feel many people wanting to push on, through the crowds. I was around some seriously hardcore runners. What was I doing? Still the crowds were friendly, upbeat, stopping off to take group photos (the Japanese & Mexicans rocked) for each other and before I knew it, we were running just outside the perimeter of the Olympic Stadium. Next - we were running through it. The run had finished. We watched ourselves smiling on large TV screens. I was grateful for the free breakfast being handed out in the front, complete with a DJ and soundsystem; I felt simultaneously thrilled and cringy. 

Cue 6am the next morning. The day of truth saw me getting to Tiergarten at 7.45am, for a 9am start from the centre. The proceeding 5 + hours was a civilised, exciting jaunt through every nook and cranny that Berlin provided, moving from Charlottenburg over to the East and then South through Kreuzberg, then West and then back up towards Tiergarten once again. 

Literally all of Berlin and its residents emptied out into the streets to encourage us on, organising street parties, bands, jazz ensembles, raves, and shouty brigades. The sights and sounds were surreal, fun, inane and everything you'd hope for on a Sunday when you're sweating out everything you've got for charity. 

Speaking of which, I managed to raise over £400 for 2 charities - my totals are here 

On to Barcelona, from the intrepid marathon runner! 

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Monday, December 05, 2011

Dear ex-boyfriend: my pillow doesn't snore like you did

I am the queen of breakups. I realised this 2 years ago when I first came to live 'out in the sticks'. I was licking my wounds after an awful split, the one that seemed like it was splitting my body, soul and mind into a million fragments. Fortunately, that wasn't the outcome, and I pulled myself together, after a fashion.

I'm now nursing my third breakup since I've been in my abode - and for once, I can say that I'm coping a lot better. I used to believe that the more heartbroken and destroyed you were, that this meant you'd lost the love of your life. Well, on that basis alone, I must have had about 6-15 true loves to date. Lets face it. None of them were really 'the one'. In some cases, they were downright creeps who I'd cross the road just to avoid. Now, I think I have a little bit more self-respect and can skip the hysterical drama queen, crying my eyes out for weeks thing and deal with life for a few days with a slumped head and sloped shoulders.

Even though I feel the natural disappointment and missing the other person that you experience after a failed relationship attempt, I know that the intensity is no adequate measure of depth of feeling, affection or sense of loss.

Old habits die hard, though. On a cold winter's night, alone, a bit blue and thinking of all the could have's, should have's and why did I bothers, I pull out the usual comforts. Booja-booja rum truffles, red wine, sappy emotional break up songs, and revisiting the past through old letters and photographs. I re-read things I'd written 6 years ago and made myself laugh out loud. I contemplate phoning my ex-boyfriend. I write the start of a short story. I make myself an amazing dinner and feel happy about drinking another glass of wine without having someone there to judge or criticise me. I reset my iPhone to factory settings and look up things on the internet just on a whim.

As one friend said, although things are bad (not just the breakup), it's the closing of a chapter, and with the loss of life as we know it, we're making way for brighter and better things. Change is good, change is necessary; it keeps us alive, vital, on our toes. It shows us what matters, what's present.

Here are a few wallowing self-indulgent songs I played to fully milk the self-pity before feeling completely disgusted with myself. I'm sure there are a gazillion more to add to this list.

Music to break up to / get over it
Luther Vandross - Always and forever
Cat Stevens - Wild World
Neil Young - Only Love Can Break Your Heart
Yazoo - Only You
Isaac Hayes - Never Can Say Goodbye
Psychedelic Furs - Love My Way
R.E.M. - You Are the Everything
Brave Combo - Nothing is Permanent
Foreigner - I want to know what love is
Fleetwood Mac - Dreams
Gloria Gaynor - I will survive