Archive for November, 2016

Frankfurt Marathon 2016

Somewhat delayed and somewhat trivial in light of recent events, here it is anyway. (Typed up shortly after the race)


Not only the good ones.


30 October 2016


It wasn’t my day today. In spite of all the noise and little things making a difference here and there, “could I have done this differently” “ did that make a difference” “too much” “too little” and so on, the fact is underneath it all I just didn’t have the legs. Most likely reason is the all-out effort in the Birmingham half marathon, two weeks earlier, still remnant in the legs.


The Frankfurt start was a mess. None of the London precision in big event hosting. Frankfurt had one pen for everyone under 3:15 and no enforcing going on anyway so it was rammed. I squeezed in, sardined amongst hundreds of others runners, 100+m back from the start line. I had lost the others in the mayhem and assumed they were ahead of me.


The gun went…. And nothing happened… then we slowly started shuffling forwards which became a slow jog which became a faster jog and then eventually we were running. People everywhere so no chance of running: 1. At pace or 2. In straight lines. It was zig zag all over the pace as I passed streams of runners, trying to get to the clear space. I heard someone call me and lo and behold Dan and Chris were actually behind me at the start. We formed an orderly queue, and made our way single file through the throngs of runners. Chris got away and soon Dan did too. I wasn’t worried. I figured I would get to space eventually and be able to run at the right speed and maybe even latch back on and run with Dan for a while. How wrong I was.


I had my watch in kays and the number in my head was 3:45 per kay. That works out to a 2hr38 marathon which I felt was a reasonable target. First kay was well over 4 with all the people then a bit of space and a bit too quick 3:25. Then slower. Then quicker. It was haphazard pacing at best. Got to 5k in 19:30 and was now already 45 seconds down on my target. I thought I could make it up and still didn’t panic. It took 2 more 5k chunks until I was on 3:45 pace. But something wasn’t right. I wasn’t struggling per se, but I certainly wasn’t floating along. It’s a feeling I’ve had many times in the past in marathons, but not recently. Deep down I knew what it meant but I was in denial. You *will* feel ok. Keep on pace and it *will* come right. It didn’t come right. At about 20k the writing was on the wall. Halfway in 79 so the number looked right, a little slow in fact, but that was all that was right. My legs were disappearing quickly and there was nothing to be done. The kays slowed from 3:40 to 3:50. Then to 4, then to 4:10. This is always the toughest part of a “bad day”, the part when you face the realisation that you’re not going to achieve your goal and your race is going to be one of those bad ones. The ones where you are just trying to get to the finish.


25k marker and I was really struggling. At the 26 / 27k point I was seriously considering walking, I was that broken. Suddenly out of the blue I heard Dan’s voice. “Come on Mark!” he was on the other side of the road and I remembered the loop we identified on the course map at 27k. Hearing and seeing him and suddenly remembering where I was on the course helped immensely at that exact moment, and I had a little spurt of motivation and got myself running again. Don’t get me wrong, the 3:45s were long gone but I settled into a steady 4-4:15 pace. Every step was agony and my muscles started spasming shortly after this too. Not to the point I couldn’t run, but just adding to the shorter and shorter strides I was taking.


At 32k the roadside clock said 2:02. I started working out what I might get to the finish line in. 10k in 40min would be 2:42. I knew I couldn’t run a 40min 10k in this condition so that was out. Even the 48min needed for breaking 2:50 seemed a stretch the way I was feeling.


The rest of the race was really just a conveyor belt of pain and shuffling and counting down the kilometres. I tried to take in the scenery as best I could and remember the course and landmarks of the city we were running past. As we approached the final 5k or so it took a winding route back through the city centre and gave me another opportunity to see Chris and Dan flying along on the other side of the road. I shouted at them both.


40k mark. Noted in my fatigue fog that the time was 2:38, a nice finish time, but I had 2.2 bloody kays still to go!


The indoor finish is truly something unique. It was spectacular and I savoured every second.


2:46:47 over the line.


I have no complaints about the course, it was brilliant. Knowing the start for next time will help. Frankfurt, I’ll be back.


Chris smashed it with a 2:30. Dan smashed it with a 2:32. Grog was painstakingly close to his sub3:15 GFA with 3:15:33 and Jamie adopted a run walk strategy to protect his knees for a 4:02. Dan’s friend Ally had a similar experience to me. We live to fight another day.






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