Saturday, 23 August 2014

Perfect day before a long run in training for 2014 Berlin Marathon

For what feels like the first time in my training, I have a perfectly free day the day before a scheduled long run.


William is off with his Dad, there are no family parties to attend, no friends visiting, no errands to run.


Tomorrow I'm going to run walk run a la Jeff Galloway 17 miles at a very very slow pace. So today, I've given myself permission to relax. Well, physically at least.

My half marathon race fuelling experiment seemed to work out last week, so I'm just going to tweak that for a longer distance. I'm also going to try out the PowerBar gels because those are the ones that will be available on the route in Berlin.

That doesn't really leave a lot to do today except read, write, listen, eat, drink and nap.

Although I actually lived in Munich in Southern Germany as a child from 1976 to 1980, I know remarkably little about the country's history. The little I do know was learned studying for a history 'O' Level that was completed before the Berlin wall came down! In any case, our syllabus covered from Bismarck until the conclusion of World War II ... so basically, I know a little bit about 80 years out of thousands of years. I'm hoping that if I know a bit more, some of the landmarks, road names, buildings, squares and monuments, will mean something when I spot them and add some much-needed color and life along the 42km route.

This morning, I've had a little look at the 300 years or so up until Bismarck. And it really is a little look! I'm no historian, but it's given me a bit of context. While I'm writing this, I'm listening to the audio of Anna Funder's book Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall, which tells the first hand stories of East Germans living behind the wall at the mercy of the Stasi. There's a good summary and review in The Guardian.

While I'm indulging this new interest in all things Berlin historical, I'm stocking up on plenty of water and doing a few yoga poses to stretch out my legs, back, and whatever else I can. I'm eating a small comlex carb based snack every 90 mins or so and am looking forward to an uninterrupted afternoon nap at 2pm.

What a fabulous day!

Oh, and I haven't even changed out of my pyjamas!!

Berlin ... a very quick history from the rise of Brandenburg to Otto von Bismarck

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the state of Brandenburg was a rising star among the loose federation of German states. Brandenburg was ruled by the house of Hohenzollern, which from 1657 also ruled Prussia. When Friedrich III, the head of the house of Hohenzollern, crowned himself King of Prussia as Friedrich I in 1701, all of the lands under his control became known as Prussia.

During the 18th century, Prussia became the greatest rival to the Habsburg Austria empire, which had been the major force among the disunited German states. In 1740, Friedrich II, also known as Frederick the Great,was crowned King of Prussia. Under his rule, Berlin became a major European city.

Throughout the 1700s there was deep rivalry between the two, until the rise of Napoleon finally pushed them onto the same side, but not until Napoleon had defeated Prussia and entered Berlin in 1806. The Seventh Coalition of Austria, Prussia, Russia and the United Kingdom was the final stage of the Napoleonic wars and culminated in Napoleon's ultimate defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

The wars of liberation against Napoleon had led to a growth of nationalism and democratic awareness, as well as a desire for unification. The March Revolution broke out in 1848 in protest against the traditional, autocratic political structure of Germany's independent states. The urban middle class wanted more liberal policies and the working classes sought radical improvements to their working and living conditions.

The people of Berlin made their demands for democracy, unity and freedom of the press to King Friedrich Wilhelm IV. He agreed hastily to quell the unrest that had led to battles between demonstrators, police and the Prussian army.

A Constituent National Assembly was elected in May 1848 and gathered as the all-German National Assembly in Frankfurt. The majority of the assembly were academics and liberals. Their mission was to find ways to unite the various German states into a single nation and to write a constitution, but they struggled to make any real decisions.

Although an elected Prussian National Assembly was established in May 1848, it was dissolved 6 months later when the King unilaterally imposed a monarchist Constitution as a way to undercut the democratic forces. Otto von Bismarck was elected to the very first Landtag under the new monarchical constitution.

Otto von Bismarck was a conservative Prussian statesman and in 1862 was appointed by King Wilhelm I as Minister President of Prussia. He was a dominant political force across Germany and Europe until 1890, skillfully engineering a series of wars against Denmark, Austria and France that united the German states into a powerful German Empire under Prussian leadership in 1871.

During this period, known as the Second Reich, industry boomed and the economy flourished,  leading to a rise of workers' movements inspired by Karl Marx. In response, Bismarck established the world's first ever welfare state in an attempt to undermine the growing popularity of the socialist parties. He was committed to preserving peace in Europe and cementing unification. He remained as Chancellor until he was removed by the new King Wilhelm II in 1890.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Wimping out just a little

I need to do a long long run this Sunday in preparation for Berlin on 28th September. I had it all worked out ... the lovely Rutland Water is right on my doorstep and the pathway around it is supposed to be 17miles or 25 if you include the peninsula.

Rutland Water

We took the kids there today to the new beach area at Sykes Lane. The weather was wonderfully typical for an English day on a beach .... a bit of sunshine, a lot of cloud, the odd chill wind and sudden drenching downpour. Of course that didn't stop us from paddling, building sandcastles, riding bikes, playing football, eating a sandy picnic and enjoying ice-creams. 

But, I digress.

The point is, I had assumed that most of the pathway around the reservoir would be flat and I assumed that the mileage given for the circumference was accurate. It turns out that neither of those things is true.

I discovered exactly how hilly (for me) the route is because I drove around it today on the way back to give William a little more time to sleep before we got home. And now I've just plotted it out on MapMyRun I see that it is in fact only 15miles!!! What happened to the other 2 miles???

The other option is to include the peninsula which ups the mileage to 23miles. That's too far for this week, especially given the hills.

It's a bit of a shame because I was kind of looking forward to achieving that full loop, but I think I'll put it on the list for another day. This Sunday, I shall instead be looking after my knees and clocking up some very very flat kms doing 3m loops round a local pond.