Berlin is a pretty awesome place in summer. Most of the clubs have awesome outdoor areas so you can go clubbing at night and then relax in the sun during the day. The only problem is the best ones have a prohibitively strict door policy which can make getting in quite difficult, especially in larger groups.
The most successful weekend we had was when there was just four of us, and we all managed to get into Berghain by dressing correctly, splitting into couples and going just before midnight on Saturday when it opens. I had arrived from London the night before and was meeting my friends at Offside, the most famous whiskey bar in Berlin. Unfortunately, my flight was delayed and by the time I got there they were closing, so we just went to another bar nearby for a few drinks and then got a relatively early night.
The next day we chilled most of the day and headed off to Berghain around 11 pm. After waiting in the line quite a short time we got in and got our stamps. Then we headed off to Sisyphos, another club we were going to spend the night at before returning to Berghain in the morning.
Sisyphos is awesome! They have an amazing outdoor area with treehouses and a beach-like chilling area with sand and a small pond with a wooden walkway. They also have a separate upstairs area with a swimming pool and whiskey bar. Indoors there are two dancefloors with huge, crystal clear sound systems and some of the best techno I’ve ever heard. We danced for most of the night and then chilled outdoors once the sun started to rise. I had a short nap for about two hours in the pool/whiskey bar section before we headed off to Berghain at about 11 am.
Berghain very much lives up to its reputation – hard relentless techno, a huge cavernous interior, a fair amount of nudity, people having sex in the dark rooms and a pretty much anything-goes attitude. They obviously have a very strict ban on photography so I didn’t dare try to snap any pics, but it’s too dark inside anyway. They also a very nice outdoor area, although not quite as lush as Sisyphos – no swimming pool or treehouses here, more just a concrete backyard with some sun-loungers, platforms to sit on and a few trees for shade. I found the music at Berghain too hard – it’s really only for extreme, dedicated techno fans and I found it quite difficult to dance to for extended periods. However, there are many other areas to the club to enjoy and we explored all of them – making use of the dark rooms, the chilled upstairs dancefloor called Panorama bar and, of course, the outdoor area.
On July 10th I completed my first ever half-ironman! I had been training properly for about seven months, having done a marathon, half-marathon, three normal triathlons and a number of 100km+ cycles. However in the two months leading up to the event I had done very little running due to a slight pain in my knee that I didn’t want to exacerbate, so I was not properly prepared for the final run section, which was a half marathon (21.5km).
The event was held on the beautiful grounds of Hever Castle in Kent, about one hour south of London. Due to the early start time, I had to go the night before and camp over. I caught a train down to Hever station and once there noticed another person getting off the train with a very fancy looking triathlon bike. As we cycled to the castle together he introduced himself as Andy Greenleaf. I asked which event he was doing and he said he was also doing the Half-Ironman. Then I asked him what time he hoped to get and without a pause, he simply said “Oh I’m going to win”. I thought he seemed a little over confident but just smiled and laughed. We ended up camping together that night and chatted a bit about various events we had done.
The swim (1.9km) went better than expected, as it was the furthest I had ever swum in one go. During training the longest I had managed was only 1.5km. There is common theory that it is usually easier on the day of an event though, as the crowd of other swimmers creates a current that helps to pull you along. I finished in just under 40 minutes.
I felt pretty fresh getting on the bike, but with 92km’s of cycling ahead of me I knew I had to take it easy. Unfortunately the bike course was very hilly – nothing especially steep, but continuous and rolling, which is sometimes worse. Needless to say I was pretty worn out by the end of it, but I took a short rest, had something to eat and felt a bit better.
This didn’t last very long – about a quarter into the run I started to feel my energy running out. All the muscles in my legs were in pain and I slowed down to a slow stumbling run that wasn’t much faster than walking. It didn’t help that the run course was mostly over grass and dirt, like a trail run, and also very hilly. I stopped a few times to stretch and ate and drank as much as I could at the re-fueling stations, but nothing helped. I just hadn’t done enough run training. The last half an hour I can barely remember, I think I was getting delerious. Using what little mental will power I had left I managed to ignore the pain and push on through. As I crossed the finish line I collapsed on the grass and rolled over, just in time to see Andy Greenleaf on the finishing podium, getting awarded the winners medal.
As a result of my lack of training the run took me a long time and so overall I only finished with the rather slow final time of 6 hours and 49 minutes, but it was my first ironman event so I was pretty happy just to finish at all!