Decathlon D-Day approaches
Irony, declared Alanis Morissette, is having 10,000 spoons when you all need is knife. That's probably because she'd never attempted to train for a one-hour decathlon in a city hosting an athletics world championships.
In theory, it should be the easiest thing in the world. The best decathletes on the planet are here. There are top-class coaches and retired legends all over the shop. The entire city is geared up for track and field.
But that's the problem. Every facility in the city is in use. There is simply no room for the casual amateur looking to work on his 8.3m shot put or 25m javelin (I know. Not good).
If I was simply training for a 1500m, it wouldn't be so bad. The Tiergarten is a fantastic park right in the heart of Berlin, full of shaded trails that are perfect for interval work. What it doesn't have is a help-yourself stash of javelins, a pole vault bed and a long jump pit filled with the soft golden sand.
Shortly, I will be attempting my first ever decathlon, yet I haven't picked up a discus or cleared a 3' 6" hurdle for over a fortnight.
There are some compensations, of course. Since the hamstring started to heal up about three weeks ago, I've found myself see-sawing between happiness that I might still be able to compete and bug-eyed terror at the prospect of how wrong it could go, but having watched Jess Ennis in full multi-event magic mode and then been glued to the decathlon proper inside the Olympiastadion, all that's changed.
I know I'm not going to be very good. I know that I'm probably going to embarrass myself, and almost certainly not do this great event justice. But by golly I've got to have a crack at it.
Did Yunior Diaz let doubt cloud his mind before bashing out that remarkable 46.15 seconds in the 400m late on Wednesday night? Did Roman Sebrle think twice before attempting another pole vault with just 10 seconds left on his allotted time? Did Trey Hardee worry about his exhausted legs when the 1500m threatened to leave him flat on his back?
I think not.
Then there are the precious nuggets of advice I've been offered from all corners. Before I left home for Germany there was a fantastic three-hour session with blog user Leo down at Mile End stadium (memo to self: if there's to be a second decathlon, make those Thursday sessions with Leo a weekly occurrence), a random throwing session with a bloke named Pete who I spotted practising at the Millennium stadium in Battersea Park as I did 400m reps, and a spontaneous javelin masterclass with Toni Minichiello - coach to Steve Backley and Jess Ennis - on the way back from a Berlin bar the night of Phillips Idowu's triple jump gold.
What I need now is more help. We need to work out how much time I should allot to each part of the challenge, and where the rests should be taken. At the moment the plan is to take it easy on the first attempt at the jumps and throws to ensure I get a score for each, and then hit it progressively harder - but should I just go for broke from the off?
Should I split the hour into roughly equal chunks of 10, or get the first four events done within 20 minutes to give myself a long enough gap between 400m and hurdles to get rid of at least some of the lactic?
And will the cross-country spikes I last wore for the Nationals on Parliament Hill back in February do the job on the track - or should I switch between them and racing flats as time and events allow?
Answers on a electronic postcard down below.