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.