But in fact, it was so great, and so very different from going out the front door and running by myself.
First of all, on the way there, there were, as I got closer and closer, more and more people carrying the plastic bags with "asics GRAND 10 Berlin" and "12. Oct. 08". In fact, when I first got into the train and looked for a spot to sit, I found one opposite a friendly-looking older man with just such a bag. So we talked about the race - I felt a little nervous because it was cloudy, overcast, threatening to be chilly, but I hadn't brought a jacket or sweatshirt because I was nervous about messing with checking clothes there, and also I didn't know how it would work to start with a warm-up jacket and take it off later and then where would I put my big running number (6622) with the microchip in it, on the warm-up jacket or the shirt or what?
So this guy was much more warmly dressed than I, and it turns out he runs in lots of such races (I'm going to guess he was about 65 though it's hard to say, maybe he was 70?), and he's from Postdam which is next to Berlin and told me about some races there, and I mentioned that in Bloomington they all seem to be more like 5K and he said yes, he's way too slow for that distance.
So as we got closer, and switched trains (I followed him - I had been planning to switch to a bus per what I found online ahead of time but was glad to be advised otherwise since a. buses are harder to find and b. in retrospect they were surely not running there since the streets were blocked off for us!), more small and large groups of people - pairs of 30ish women, older guys, younger guys, apparently quite a few women my age, some women with little kids - were accumulating in the various train cars, and when we spilled out at the last stop and walked the final 15 minutes to the starting place, we plastic-bag-carrying runners-to-be were all there was.
At the huge plaza in front of the Charlottenburg castle I said goodbye to my Potsdam friend and went and stood in a 25-minute line to go to the bathroom. Then I stood amount thousands of other people and did fun kicky stretches to loud music from the stage, and worried a little about where I was supposed to stand/start/be. But I asked around, and I was in the slowest section, so that was OK.
We started off, and the people behind me were pushing ahead, which was fine, and I was just trying to keep my own stride, my own usual pace, in mind, and not get swept into something too fast (in Bloomington in the one 10K race I was in, I started out a lot too fast for me and was in trouble later), and very soon I found a woman in a light-green shirt that said "Frauenlauf" (women's run) something-or-other, and she had a wonderful pace, and super even, and I decided to stick with her.
Also, while standing in the eternal line for the porta-potties, I had finally realized/figured out that 10K is not 7.2 or so miles, as I had been thinking, but actually more like 6.25 miles. So it wasn't going to take me quite as long as I thought. But I still thought it might take me at least 80 minutes or so (about a 13-minute mile).
So there I am, jogging along, and thinking OK, don't look at the pedometer yet, don't look at the time yet, when you see the first 1K mark then check. Well, there was a big sign with a "2" on it before I saw anything else, and I thought, it can't possibly be 2K yet, there was never 1K and besides we haven't been going that long! But I checked the pedometer, it said I'd been going about 14 minutes, so that was a 7-minute kilometer, which sounded fantastic, and we'd already done 2K!
We went past the Siegessäule (I guess it's maybe called the Victory Monument in English, something like that?), and into the huge park around the zoo, and then in through the zoo as well. There were people lining the roads most of the way, clapping, or doing little dances or drum things for us, or using noisemakers, or just watching and waving. Along the Road of July 17th on the way to the Siegessäule there was a guy sitting in the open back of his parked station wagon, with his big light-yellow lab sitting next to him, and they were watching us go by. He had his hand on the lab's head - I wasn't sure if the lab was antsy to get up and join us and go after us, and he was reassuring and restraining him, or if they were just being companionable while watching.
Anyway, the kilometer marks flew by. This is a huge advantage of kilometers over miles, I must by. They go by an awful lot quicker. And my light-green lady with the glasses and the short brown hair and the wonderfully steady, unhurried, unpanicky pace just kept going, and I kept going with her - when she would pull a little ahead I tried to pull ahead too (I was afraid she was just going to take off at some point); sometimes I pulled a little ahead but she pulled up soon too. We exchanged one smile early on when something happened (oh, there was a loud announcement behind us that the white Mercedes van that was trying to cross across the blocked-off road where we were all running should please desist - there was something comical about it, and we looked at each other and smiled) but never said anything until maybe kilometer 5, when we were already in the zoo - it got a little narrow there, and I said something to her to that effect.
The zoo had been touted as a big attraction, and when I signed up at Mercedes World there was an overhead screen showing scenes of going through the zoo with the animals on either side - but in fact, all I saw was ducks while we were in the zoo. But there were little kids watching us as another attraction (rhinos! ducks! thousands of sweaty grownups running by!), and one very short small wooden bridge with 3 people in bright yellow vests posted there to warn us the bridge might be slippery. And on the way out of the zoo a grandmotherly woman on a bench who greeted and was greeted by my light-green lady warmly, as though they might know each other.
We went past the Gedächtniskirche, the double memorial church (old bombed-out but left-up one, new fancy modern one) on the Ku'damm, old fancy street now left behind in the city's eastward gravity shift. Around kilometer 6 they gave us plastic cups with water, and I took one and drank a little and tossed it in the recycling. Light green lady actually stopped to drink hers and I thought oh no, I'm on my own now, but I ran ahead, trying to keep the even pace, and she soon caught up with me and I looked at her and said "Ah!" happily (second utterance between us so far). Then shortly after sister-in-law J showed up and surprised me, even though her foot pain was still bothering me she went a couple of blocks with me which was a very nice thing. I told her I couldn't lose my light green lady which of course light green lady could hear me say, so it was now explicitly acknowledged that I was keeping along with her.
All this time I was checking my time at the kilometer marks I could see (never saw 1 or 7 but I think I saw all the rest) - pretty much a teeny bit over 7-minute kilometers all the way through, something like that.
At mile 8 my light-green lady stopped to walk! I thought oh no, here we go again. But I'm forging ahead. But she must not have walked long because soon she caught up to me again.
At mile 9 I started making my legs go faster (btw, light green lady had a very different stride from me, much shorter more frequent steps - I couldn't match her stride so we never had that kind of synch, but we stayed alongside each other in spite of the different strides) - and then all of a sudden light green lady took off much faster. So I followed her (at this point we're going up the fancy, impressive, double-sided avenue leading back up to the castle) and suddenly I saw my two boys' faces peeking out right at the finish gate - which was thrilling! I actually knew they were planning to come but somehow I wasn't sure they were going to make it, and I was surprised by how very happy it made me to see them there.
So I went zooming through the gate, stopped to talk to the boys, remembered I wasn't supposed to linger and told them I'd come around, went and found my light-green lady and high-fived with her and said how great it had been (I'm not actually sure she ever said anything at all to me, but I know she can talk because she exchanged a few words with the grandmotherly lady at the zoo, and she was certainly friendly). I probably should have exchanged names and numbers with her because she would be PERFECT to go jogging with, but I blew it. (I think I might even know her name because she came in right before me and the lists of people are online; but not sure how to take it from there.)
Anyway, I never even realized for several kiilometers of the race that she was wearing glasses, because I was a little behind her. But once I did, that endeared her to me even more, because I was wearing mine and fussing about it a little (ever since they fell off my face while I was jogging with my spouse and he wasn't able to stop in time to not step on them, they have been a little wobbly and I was working hard to make sure they didn't fall off face again). I was wearing my bright purple shirt with the bright blue glasses - I'm guessing that for light-green lady I was also a point of reference.
So here are the final numbers:
3721 people finished the race (I was #3586, so not the last or even next-to-last, though obviously definitely out there with the slow people).
1390 women finished and I was #1301; 218 women between 45 and 49 finished and I was #205 of them.
And my time was 1 hour, 11 minutes, and 21 seconds. So 71 minutes. (So for 6.25 miles, those are 11.4-minute miles, approximately.)
Which is great! I'm quite sure I don't go that fast when I'm by myself, but it was in fact perfectly comfortable. I think I'd like to go that fast more often; and I'd like to do more such 10K and longer races.
(Also, yesterday, by the time I went to bed, the pedometer registered over 31,000 steps - the most ever so far surely. We went for a long walk with friends in the afternoon, and there were also 4 15-minute walks getting to and from the race - one 15-minute walk each from home to the first train, from the second train to the race, and then of course back again each.)