I’m back in the country of 1,2, and 5 cent coins – those never seen anymore in Ireland. Maybe it’s because I don’t get out that much anymore that makes me notice millions of things that before I would probably have classified as pretty ordinary.
It started on the plane. As I had got up just after 5am, I decided to indulge and get a breakfast on the plane (one of those that were included in the ticket some decades ago:). I had checked out the picture on the menu and was really looking forward to it. True, all the items promised were there, but the food came in a card board box, was lukewarm, and soggy. The experienced jet setter might say: so what did you expect? Gourmet food on a plane? Mmmmhhh…
In Hamburg, I passed by a newsstand in the airport and learned that the Stern Magazine’s title was highlighting the fact that many people now have to pay so much rent that it makes them poor (“Arm durch Wohnen”), e.g. €2,000 a month for a three bedroom apartment. Sounds like Dublin. – I also checked out the special issue on Ireland of a really well-respected history publication, who listed the Irish “Kings and Fighters”, Könige und Kämpfer: on a special page, from Saint Patrick to Gerry Adams. Really.
Getting into Hamburg’s version of Dublin’s DART, the S-Bahn, was difficult because of incredibly long queues. Did anybody decide to get onto that train and, in case a conductor stopped them, point to those really unreasonably long queues? – You guessed it! I had the lucky draw of an elderly couple (here’s me talking about ‘elderly’:) from the South of Germany trying to figure out how to buy a multi-person multi-day tourism ticket for all of Hamburg’s transport network. After 10 minutes, the lady got out of the queue and made a public announcement calling on anyone with an expertise in the use of ticket vending machines. Not un-similar to what they do on a plane when they are looking for a doctor. One young woman came forward but immediately surrendered when the other lady explained to her what they were looking for. Eventually, the husband figured it out and amongst a big sigh of relief from hundreds of waiting customers, they went off to the platform to embark on their 3-day adventure trip on Hamburg’s public transport system.
At the Hamburg Fairgrounds, I collected my starter pack (which interestingly enough includes my finisher shirt:). I also located my name on the wall of fame, amongst the names of another million runners in tomorrow’s event. The organisers of tomorrow’s marathon had also organised an amazing one tenth, Das Zehntel (1/10), marathon for school kids today. Wouldn’t that be a good idea for Dublin?
Finally, and already completely and utterly exhausted, I made it into town to have fish in my favourite fish restaurant, Wischer – which, I should have known, has been taken over by a young, ambitious, modern, and brash man. It was packed. People must like it.
This evening, I went through some of the stuff they give you to get ready for your marathon. There was a check list, a test, to see whether you are ready for the big race, “Bist Du schon beret?”, which started off brilliantly: 10 points for motivation. It just felt good. Next question: your age. 56-61: -3. Yes. “-3”. Next question: Do you drink alcohol? More minus points… They say at the beginning of this test that you need at least 60 points to be ready for a marathon. After just three questions (out of seven), my initial ten points for motivation had already almost been cancelled out. I decided not to finish the test and go for dinner instead and then for an early night.
When I said to someone today that I was asking myself why I was doing this crazy stuff, because I know that I won’t have the “fun” others seem to have:) The answer was: “maybe you have something you want to prove to yourself”. Maybe that’s it. Prove that the impossible is possible. Tomorrow Pádraig will be right beside me. All the way. Because we’re in this together.
Thank you to all who have over the past 48 hours so generously supported An Saol via its GoFundMe page – wishing me luck in my attempt to finish the Hamburg Marathon tomorrow! It’s your support that will push me across that finishing line!