by Jessica Gonzales
Much of Coach Amy Anderson’s group had just finished running the Chicago Marathon when talk of Berlin first came up. Maybe it was the heat or maybe it was the group’s love for beer, but that day, before the soreness of the marathon had even set in, the Berlin Marathon seemed like a brilliant idea for the group’s next fall race.
Days later, someone in the group mentioned Berlin on the locker room forum and others chimed in enthusiastically. That was all Amy needed. We all know that she is a force to be reckoned with, but she worked extra hard to make this happen. In just a few days, she convinced Rogue to let her coach a fall group with a Berlin focus and assembled a group of more than 20 runners who were willing to make the journey to Germany.
Long before marathon training even started, Amy provided mileage build schedules for everyone who was looking to PR in the fall. By the time May rolled around, everyone was excited to get started – if not with running then with trip planning. The miles and months went by quickly. As every training group does, this one developed its own traditions and ‘you-had-to-be-there’ stories. Saturday long runs were followed by breakfast tacos. Thursday evening workouts were followed by beers. There was the particularly humid day that an injured Don became a hero by unexpectedly appearing on the long run route – with Gatorade. Brent became well-known for his lively impersonations. Everyone gave Scott, a soon-to-be dad, a few baby name suggestions. Jess amazed everyone with her Ironman training. Anna and Katherine swapped stories about their chickens. No matter how many miles the group covered, there was always something to talk about. Inevitably, the discussion almost always came back to Berlin – what to do, where else to go, where to stay.
Finally, September came. Everyone packed their bags, said their goodbyes at the last workout, and jetted off to Europe. The day before the race, everyone met up in front of the Brandenburg Gate for a group photo. Anticipation filled the air. Not only was the group in Germany (which was pretty freaking cool on its own), but everyone was about to run 26.2 miles!
The Berlin Marathon is known for being a flat and fast course, and for much of the group it was a red-letter day. Lori ran her very first marathon; Connie, Anna, Nathan, John, and Garrett smashed their PRs; Edward and Ryan broke three hours – so many people had a great day! As the group gathered in the Tiergarten after the race, sipping on beers and discussing the day, one thing became very clear – we had gone from a bunch of folks signed up for a running program to a group of friends.
Jessica Gonzales ran a Personal Best of 3:19 at the Berlin Marathon. She is currently training for the Boston Marathon with Coach Jeff Knight and Team Rogue.