Mainova Frankfurt Marathon
After a roller coaster summer I had finally a good autumn where I could train consistently as planned. The volume was high as never seen before, whereas the quality was good as indicated by the
training times. Although I struggled with few minor niggles (a cold, some muscle pain for few days) I was overall happy and very confident I could go for at least a new PB in Frankfurt. Compared
to Valencia last year the major takeaways were to start more
conservatively and as a second thing, to optimize my race fueling, ad I only used isotonic drinks in Valencia. Every week I had at least one marathon pace session where I used the Maurten gels as I would do during the marathon. A steady long run in 98% of the targeted marathon pace which felt very smooth and a stack of very good workouts where my main confidence booster.
Unfortunately due to a late start (10AM, including winter time +1h), blue sky and unusual high temperatures (15°C at the start, 20°C at the finish) the weather conditions where not as ideal as expected. For me, this can easily make up 2-3 seconds per kilometer as there is more blood flow to the skin and more sweating, so basically energy is lost for the cooling. The only thing I liked: No wind! The course through the city of Frankfurt with its iconic skyline was very fast with only few turns during the start and end and there where enough people to build a group. I was able to depose my carbohydrate drinks as well. That's why I chose Frankfurt and obviously if your team colleagues are joining as well you stay motivated.
After the start with Luca and Sam I made the first mistake: We had a seperated box behind the pros and I started my watch just right after the gun, so I did not knew when I crossed the start line. The goal was to run 3:28-pace, so just above 1:13h for the half and to eventually pick it up on the second half and finish with a 2h25min marathon. In the initial phase I needed quite some time to find my rhythm. I used the km-marks from the race instead of the auto-lap-function from the GPS-watch because I knew its gonna be imprecise around those skyscrapers (and knowing my watch as well :-)). Unfortunately the km-marks were not set correctly until around 10km, so this confused me and probably other runners as well, although I knew the pace gonna be fine. Next shock at the first refreshing station: I could not find my bottle! The first eight tables or so were for the professionals with around three bottles per table, my bottle was on one table with around 50 flasks densely-packed on one spot. There was one with your personal drinks and nutrition every 5km as well as another water station every 2.5km against the end. I was only able too catch my drink at 10km, including a short stop and then decided to use my gels which I had with me and should be enough until the end. First gel I took as planned at 7km already to constantly refuel as I was used to this strategy now.
The pace felt really smooth and until 15km we were running in a large pack as you can see in the first picture. We were heading out of the city to a more calm greener neighborhood and I tried to run as relaxed as possible to save energy for the second-half where real marathon starts. The second half I went through exactly in 1:13 plus few seconds, this was on spot. Until now, only one runner was following me and we were constantly overtaking single runners who went out too fast. I tried to focus more on my breathing, as I knew if I start to breath two steps in, one step out I would already work too hard too close to my threshold-pace. Also because I could feel something like a provoking side stitch, which I could handle after sometime. I focused as well to stay hydrated, although it was difficult to drink with the cups. We were doing a turn right on a street similar to a highway (think it is not) and heading again towards the city, I was overtaking another group of three. Now, after 1.5 hours we were fully under the sun running on our own. The pace was still fine but I could feel, that I should not pick it up right now and I stayed in auto mode running consistently my 3:26-3:30 per kilometer. This was the first stretch where I really trusted the marks. The goal for now was to get to 30km and from there on to give everything which was left in my tank. Luckily I had my a mental advantage as well. I was consonantly overtaking people in front of me, I could always focus on the next one, mainly professional women, some fast men and with Jeremy Schouwey and Elias Gemperli as well two Swiss people on similar or even better level. In knew, for them it's gonna be even harder, but for me the toughest part was still to come so at this point I was confident I could manage the pace without a breakdown. Because of this the time passed rather fast, the legs were obviously already quite tired, but not as tired as they had been in Valencia.
At 29k I was opening my last gel and started now to keep pushing for the manageable last 12km. The end of the marathon route was directing again to the inner city with a lot of turns. This was the first time were I felt lonely and soon the real suffering of the marathon started. Until 38km I was fine, then I started to feel the hardship and suffering. My breathing was now at the max and the pain in the muscular toll on the legs from the pounding was heavy. Still, I was overtaking people from time to time but my facial expressions was a grimace. I saw that I was getting slower, not to much of a slow-down but I could clearly see that a 2:25 was slipping away. The goal now was to endure the last 15min and to finish with a 2:26. Finally I managed to arrive to the Messehalle were the last 200m until the finish were on red carpet inside the building. Time for the finish sprint (it's always possible to do a finish sprint) were I was overtaking the last competitor and saw the clock clipping over 2h27min. I did not know the exact time, nor the place, but initially thought it would be below 2:27. At least what I knew, it's gonna be a new personal best and I was looking forward to the party and the season break after and intensive last two months.
Now I am recovering and slowly start to crystallize plans for next season. Probably it's going to be Zürich Marathon in spring and a fast 10k in autumn. Thanks for following and supporting me during the marathon and for all the best wishes!