What’s the worst thing about running a marathon? Out of the millions of people who have completed this event, challenge, race, milestone…whatever it’s referred to as, I would assume a host of answers would come up; many ranging from the blisters, the wall, dehydration, suffering afterwards (or during or even before), bloodied nipples or injury. I would agree with these but ultimately, on a personal level, what I can’t stand about the marathon is the time you have to wait until your next one.
In this instance it’s just over 5 months, 5 long dark and wintery UK months. Is this the true beauty of our sport? The fact in which we put all of our eggs into one basket and hope for the best. Well, not hope. Plan, train, think, respond, plan more, think more (everyday as a matter of fact), live and breathe the 42.2km for hour on hour. Yes, it has to be. We dream of what will be, visualise and block out any doubt or negative thought. At my latest marathon attempt, Frankfurt, I’d done all the planning, training and thinking. I was ready to run.
While going through my warm up, a very relaxed jog I thought some more and more again. Time seemed to be on my side, so I headed back towards the starting area to what I presumed would be a quick change, and hop into my designated starting area. The quick changed occurred but unfortunately the starting area did not. For some reason I was not allowed into where I thought I was going to be. By this time the starting gates where full and heaving with frustrated runners, elbowing their way into the gates. It was one of those panic moments that I couldn’t quite believe. I just didn’t realise the size of this marathon (15000). This was a very silly mistake, and one I’m sure I won’t make again. Now, I don’t want to sound like it was the end of my marathon and that I’m blaming the organisers for my poor lack of judgement. I do believe that incident at the start did cost me, something anyway. The stress of it, having to weave my way through copious amounts of other runners, and the uneven pace I ran throughout my first panicked 15kms.
Now that I’ve got all of that of my chest I can focus on the race. With only the experience of one other big city marathon, Seoul, I was really excited for this one. Seoul was brilliant, but Frankfurt, I felt was going to be in another league. And boy was it. The support was incredible. There are only 700,000 living in the city, but it felt like the majority of them where out on the streets cheering. They put on quite a show.
As I mentioned above the start of the race was not ideal. However, these things do happen I know I should have handled it better. Therefore my first 15km I managed to get close enough to my time zone, albeit slightly over. I was still confident that I’d be strong right towards the end. From 15km through to 25km I ran really well and was enjoying every moment on course. I positioned myself with a large group that ticked away together quite well. The pacing just seemed to be shared between myself and one other runner. Beyond the 25km mark I started to become quite excited with the possibility of a PB. By this time a smaller group of us had broken away and where running really well together.
The group consisted of 4, 3 German runners and myself. As we moved within the final 15km the rain really started to tumble down. It had been steady from about the 15km mark but know it was very heavy. Fortunately it did not last long at its heaviest and then did seem to clear. Our little group ticked into the last 10km and the pressure went on. This is where I’d wanted to be, and where I’d hoped I’d be at this point. However, not long after my final consumption of an energy gel I had tight stomach cramps, they felt much the same as the ones I had in Christchurch, at a very similar point in the race. I desperately tried to keep pace in the group but found myself tailing off the back. This was the beginning of a very poor ending of my race. From there I slowed, as did my km splits and did the hope of the PB.I came home in 2.27.54 for 52nd place. It was a tough one to swallow but boy it makes me more excited for London in the not so distant future.
So to the next target, April, 2014 London. There are plenty of positives I’ll take from my experiences in Frankfurt and I learnt plenty. It was great to have experience of fast pack style pacing, which I’m sure will be the style at London. Shorter term I’ll be getting myself involved in the club scene as much as I can. With some shorter Cross Country races and road races. Training through the winter will bring with it its own set of challenges but building towards London there will be no stone left unturned.
I will update again towards the end of the month!