Friday, 2 November 2012

Frankfurt Marathon 2012 as it happened

Last Sunday I was one of almost 16000 runners who attended the Frankfurt Marathon. As you might know by now that was my second marathon and my first road marathon. Visiting the marathon expo on Friday, I received the race pack and some other stuff among which there was a wrist band called "Pace my race". Depending on your expected finish time they would print out your time splits and mount it on a wristband. My expecting finish time was 3:45 but that was before missing those training sessions and twisting my ankle.

Despite the freezing cold weather, the race started with a great vibe. I was starting in the second wave and our start time was at 10:10. Minutes after starting I found myself sticking to my pace and feeling quite all right. There was no sign of ankle pain and I was running almost effortlessly. There were live music playing in several spots along the course. Somewhere around 15km mark I was still running at five-minute kilometre pace. I thought it might be wise to slow down a bit and save some energy for the rest of the race. But it seemed that there were no need to do so as I was feeling great.

I passed the halfway point in 1:52:55. Only 25 seconds behind my target time printed on my wristband. Then it was somewhere along 25th km that for the first time ever I hit the wall. Suddenly my quads cramped and there were extremely painful. It was a very slight uphill (Frankfurt route is pretty flat. This bit was on an overhead bridge) And I though it will be all over after this ascent. But the pain just grew and I had no choice to stop and do some stretching, so I did and walked for a few meters and started running again. And then after 100 meters or so it came back.

In this kind of situation quitting is the very first thought that comes to your mind. It hits your mind on every single step. It was then that I decided no matter how but I will cross the finish line. I was certain that a DNF (Stands for Did Not Finish) is not what I want to see in front of my name. Not in my second marathon.  So I carried on, running, stretching, walking and then running again. 

Ann Trason once said "It hurts up to a point and then it doesn't get any worse." but on that very situation I would say "It hurts up to a point and then it gets worse and worse." I tried to split the distance by forgetting how far I am from the finish line and only thinking of the next half a kilometre, the next overhead bridge, next lamp post and even just thinking of taking the next step. As Dean Karnazes suggests just putting one foot in front of the other until you cross the finish line. 

Every time that I passed a cheering group, no matter how bad I felt I tried not to walk. After all they were not standing there to see someone walking. When I got to 31st Kilometre there were loud music playing. This was the part that you could vote for your popular track on Frankfurt Marathon website before the race.  It was Gloria Gaynor's "I will survive". And I found myself with all the pain I was dealing with shouting I Will Survive. 

After passing 33km Mark, once again I could not resist the urge to walk. Another runner just started walking beside me. First marathon? he asked. 
-It's my second one.
-This is my first marathon and I don't think I will never do this again.
-Don't you ever think of giving up. You are gonna make it. I said and as I started running shouted "See you at the finish line" he started running moments later. 

It was only four kilometres left when running sounded impossible again. I stopped, bent over for a few seconds. Started limping and then stopped and bent over again. There were a few people standing a couple of metres from me. After seeing this scene, they shouted my name and said some encouraging words in German. (Well I supposed they were cheering as I didn't understand a word) I stood up tall and started running and didn't stop again until I reached the finish line in 4:09. 

Frankfurt Marathon was not an easy one. I am writing these lines the day after and my legs are still aching. There are some questions in my mind. Is it really worth all the pain? Will I ever run a marathon again? Well, I am pretty sure about the answer. Frankfurt marathon just made me stronger. 


  1. Dude, I'm proud of U, keep up the good work ;) what was the BMW-Magazine thing all about ?!!!!! U really made the mag-Cover ?!!!!!:O

    1. Cheers mate. That photo is taken by BMW, the main sponsor of the event. They print it out and mount it on a Runner's world magazine so you get a personalized journal with your photo on its cover.

  2. Your experience mirrors my London one this year almost exactly, with the quads cramping up. I've changed my running style to be less heel strike and more front foot and worked on keeping the hips up. Heading to Frankfurt in October so let's see if it's made a difference. JB