Water, water everywhere.

27 09 2010

So it rained. And it rained. And then it rained some more. And then God said, “I don’t think they are wet enough down there in Berlin, so I will let it rain even more.” And it did. And after a day and a half of a nonstop downpour of varying intensity, a few of the 50,000 marathoners thought perhaps it might be time to buy a kayak.

The adverse weather conditions were the real story of this year’s Berlin Marathon. Cloudy but dry until two hours before the skaters started out on Saturday afternoon, the city was a lake by the time they finished.

Yours truly is not a wimp or a quitter, but she has great respect for the elements and the injuries wet streets can cause those underway on eight slick rubber wheels. Any fight you pick with asphalt, you will lose, guaranteed. Any fight you pick with wet asphalt, well, consider yourself a goner. So when it came time to make the big decision – to start or not to start – there really was only one sensible answer: Nope, uh-uh, no way José. Not today, my friends.

However, when it comes to marathons, common sense takes its leave. We all worked too hard and waited too long for this to just not show up on race day.

So here I was in the starting area along with 6,000 skater-colleagues, against better judgment, waiting for the gun. With the streets disguised as rivers, a personal best time was simply out of the question. The conditions demanded a careful, concentrated technique, not unlike walking on eggshells.

Us (skaters) in the rain.

About a third of the way into the race, my skates felt like sponges that had absorbed five extra kilos in water-weight. Each. That’s when the wind picked up and it really started raining.

The first 20 kilometers (13 miles) took me an hour, and just as I was doing the math for the rest of the race the asphalt jumped up to bite me – I lost my grip on a crooked tar seam and went flying.

A split-second later I slithered face-down along the wet, oil-slick streets. The only spectators for my belly-flop were an old guy out walking his dachshund and a few other skaters who swerved to avoid this picture of misery, thanking God it didn’t happen to them.

Sitting on my butt in the middle of the roadway, I checked to see if all body parts were still intact. One knee hurt like I had cracked a kneecap, and I felt a tingling sensation on an elbow. The five-inch bloody gash was kinda gross, but harmless, and for some reason I felt no pain there. I gingerly got up and flicked two dead leaves off the front of my blue-and-pink spandex suit. The white layer of skin I left on the street soon dissolved in the rain. Already soaked through to my underwear from water coming from the sky, I had now also bathed in water on the ground.

Regaining my stride and once again picking up good speed, I skated over the half-marathon mats and a mantra formed on my lips. I shouted out: “You will not get me, you lousy, wretched, flooded streets!! YOU WILL NOT GET ME!”

Fellow skaters glanced over in horror and distanced themselves from this obviously distraught maniac. By kilometer 32 (only 10 more to go – this is way too easy!!!)  I was grinning like I’d escaped from the funny farm. Shortly thereafter, skidding around a corner, I hit the deck again, this time a little harder, with an audience of a few hundred. Dignity, au revior! But what the hell. No one gives up four kilometers from the finish line.

Don’t ask me who won, or in what time, I have no idea. And because I freed myself of the pressure to clock a personal best, I enjoyed every one of those 42,195 meters in the driving rain. It was simply lovely – a confirmation of why I do this. An added bonus: I felt great and barely broke a sweat. Even though I was longer in transit than ever before (more than two hours) it felt like a Sunday walk in the park. It was a chance to believe in myself again.

And yes, you guessed it. The wounds will heal and there is always a next year, too. I will certainly be back for more.

Them (runners) in the rain.

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4 responses

28 09 2010
Naaahfick

You amaze me! Congratulations on “being Berlin”. I hope when the adrenaline wore off you weren’t in too much pain.

28 12 2010
The art of skating on Hollywood Beach « Evelynn Starr

[…] true to my nature, I had to take a spin. Happily, I laced up my skates for the first time since singing in the Berlin rain at the end of September. Having survived THAT two-hour taste of hell, it was time to remind myself […]

26 08 2011
A teeny tiny vacation « Evelynn Starr

[…] more or less accident-free years on skates (not counting my two splashes during last year’s Berlin Marathon), I decided to go for a mini-hike this morning, close to home. I had always wanted to walk up the […]

17 09 2011
Countdown to Berlin 2011 « Evelynn Starr

[…] Last year’s Marathon in Berlin was a washout, the weather more appropriate for waterskiing than skate racing. (I will spare you the photos… it was ugly…) The city’s streets were covered with at least two inches of floodwater, of which my skates soaked up several liters each over the course of 42 kilometers (26 miles). I limped across the finish line after more than two hours on skates in a downpour, with not a personal best but rather a personal worst, blood streaming from my left elbow – a result of the asphalt jumping up to bite me. Twice. […]

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