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Berlin & London Marathons, the Journey Towards Happiness - Caro Chau

After finishing the Paris marathon (April 2022) with foot and knee pain, I had to stop running because of highly inflamed tendons in my knee and ankle.

Stopping running (and hiking) affected my mental health. At the time when I was forced to stop, it was the year anniversary of my father’s passing and I really did not know what to do. Running has really helped me survive since the pandemic and it also helped me to deal with my father’s death. I was completely lost.

But after two months of physio, I was able to run again! Although after just two weeks, I had to stop again because of covid which affected my health badly for a month. I couldn’t breathe properly, I had brain freeze, full body pain and a lot of fatigue. I was unable to walk to the supermarket without stopping.

It was so hard because I had already waited two months to run. I found it so difficult, both mentally and physically. I was really frustrated. But by early August, I was able to run again without body pain or shortness of breath. I started slowly with a 5k, then 8km, building up through the weeks with the Berlin Marathon in my sights. My longest run before the marathon was 25km. I knew it would be hard but in the bottom of my heart, I knew I had to find the mental and physical strength for Berlin.

The planning for the Berlin marathon had begun in 2021. I had signed up through the Charity Rethink Mental Illness which is an important cause for me. I have suffered from mental illness in the past and have friends and family suffering (or have suffered). Therefore, I felt that I have to find the strength to reach the finish line.

From the start line until 31km, I moved forward, head down, empowered by the crowd by the other runners. I had in mind “I have to finish it for all the patients, friends and family suffering from mental illness” My mantra was “You can do it, you did it three times this year. Think about you, your friends, your family and the patients. You can do it!”. All my races are dedicated to this cause.

When I saw the sign for 36km, I became emotional and started crying. Crying with happiness because I made it to 36km but also because I am sure my father would have been proud of me.

40km… already at the Brandenburg Gate! Time for a few selfies! I encouraged another runner who was walking to finish it by running. I told her “Let’s be proud and finish it with a jump! “. And off she went! Running to the finish line with a big smile. I was so proud to make someone happy!

What helped me a lot to finish it was the mental strength, but especially the running community. I lost hope and motivation during my months off with injury and illness. I was desperate and wanted to give up. But I met other runners at the Love Trail Festival in September who gave me so much energy, positive vibes and encouragement. I kept this positivity in my mind along with my mantra, and this helped me to put one foot in front of the other, to the finish line!

Our running community is so important and helpful in those sad and complicated moments.

Next marathon...London, and my second marathon a week. At 25km I hit the wall for the first time and made the promise to myself to dedicate each step to those having a mental illness. I still don’t recall how I manage to move forward from 31km (when I saw my friend) until 38km. London was amazing experience and my time was 5h36 but I’ll never run 2 marathons in 1 week again, except if it is a 50 mile race :D


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