26.2 on the streets of Frankfurt

Watching the wind whip the German flag outside the hotel round and round its own pole, and the street sign across the road move back and forth whilst we ate breakfast, it was clear that it was going to be a blustery day.  There was a storm approaching and we were about to run a marathon.  Perfect.

Arriving in Frankfurt on the Friday the weather was quite mild and pleasant, pretty damn good running conditions if it had stayed that way.  The hotel was ideally located less than a 10 minute walk from the Expo and the start line so it didn’t take long to collect our race numbers and goody bags of German magazines, dry pasta and a car air freshener (not the best goody bag…)

The rest of the day was spent taking a stroll through the fairly seedy red light district (apparently one of the largest in the world) and around the City past the Old Opera House and having a coffee in the main square, Romerberg.  It’s fair to say Frankfurt is fairly dull and uninspiring, which was probably a good thing as I didn’t really want to be caught up in being a tourist when I should have been saving energy.  However, the company of my Chaser buddies more than made up for it.

On the Saturday we took part in the 5k Pretzel Breakfast Run.  I’ve never run the day before a marathon before so I was a bit apprehensive but I was ready to try a new tactic and remind myself that I knew how to run.  It was actually enjoyable, despite the very heavy rain before it started which almost made me change my mind – in hindsight I was actually more worried about ‘jogging’ to the start with the boys than the 5k itself (their idea of jogging is my idea of a tempo run…) but they kept it easy!



I spent the rest of Saturday pretty much with my feet up until it was time for dinner.  We’d found a great little Italian that served massive bowls of pasta the night before but they wouldn’t take us.  Who knew finding an Italian to cater for 12 on a Saturday night before a marathon in Germany would be a challenge?!  We convinced another restaurant we would be quick and they let us in – the highlight was James ordering pasta…and a pizza on the side just in case the pasta wasn’t big enough…

I slept pretty well despite the slight stress of the clocks changing, even a full on thunder storm failed to disturb me, and I didn’t wake until 4.30 which is pretty good for the night before a big race.  I had my porridge, worried futilely about the wind and rain and then it was time to go.


As the hotel was so close we didn’t need to leave until an hour before the race started, all we had to do was drop off our bags and line up which was a refreshing change from usual pre-marathon travel panic.

Ruth & I ready to go!


The start area wasn’t as well organised as I expected, it was pretty much a free for all.  It didn’t make much difference to me as I didn’t want to risk going off too fast (lesson learnt!) but the faster runners struggled to get near the front.

We were let off in waves to help congestion but as I crossed the start line the worst thing that could possibly happen at that moment happened.  Despite checking and double checking, my Garmin had gone onto standby.  Panic!!!  I had now started running and my watch was trying to locate satellites in an area of tall buildings whilst I was moving.  Luckily it didn’t take too long, I guessed I lost about 30 seconds before pressing start but I was more worried about my mile splits at that point anyway.

Despite being a fast and flat course, the same course in fact that Kipsang very nearly took the world record on 2 years earlier, fierce winds were going to be a problem. Then there was the rain, rain was forecast from 1.30 and with a late 10.30 start time I would be heading into the tough later miles at this point.  I don’t mind rain but I didn’t really fancy an additional challenge at mile 20!

The first 10k or so winded round the City centre, with crowds of supporters on the street, before heading out along the river Main and back along some kind of duel carriageway(?!) then heading through the City centre again.  Somewhere in that first 10K it started raining, luckily it didn’t last long but the stormy winds were to follow.

There’s a lack of water in the early stages – this made me quite thirsty later on so I had to really slow down at the water stations to be able to drink enough from the paper cups.  I know bottles can be a hazard but at least you can carry them with you and drink more than a couple of sips.  There was also some kind of fizzy drink and cola available, apparently it was flat, but it really wasn’t what I wanted at that point!

I paced well, I went off faster than goal pace but I held it quite steady until 22 miles so I don’t think it was an error.  I saw Ruth at around 26k which really lifted my spirits but we parted ways a few kilometers later.  After 22 miles the wind and fatigue got me, I was too tired to fight the gusts that were pushing me the wrong way.  By this point I knew I was going to miss my 3.45 goal and none of my mental tactics were working to keep me going.  I was sure it was going to end badly.

The finish was pretty spectacular – it ends inside the Festhalle on a red carpet with flashing lights and loud music, it’s a party zone.  It was a shame it didn’t last longer as it was over in a few seconds.  They funnel you out of the hall to collect your medal and there’s tables with various food and drink.  They still weren’t supplying bottles of water though, just poxy cups, why didn’t they understand I was thirsty???



I crossed the finish line in 3.47.29…it wasn’t what I wanted…but it was a PB by 2 minutes.  It’s difficult not to be pleased with a PB, or the fact that I paced pretty well up until the last 4 miles but I still have mixed emotions.

Will I ever actually improve my time?  Whilst it was only 3 minutes quicker than London 6 months ago It was a massive improvement on strategy – it was a 4.5 minute positive split, much better than the 12.5 in London – at least I had improved something.

The post race area wasn’t easy to navigate.  You had to collect your bag from one floor of the Festhalle, and then return your chip somewhere else so you didn’t get charged €25, and try to get through all the supporters who kept walking into me…OK maybe I was walking into them…

I had just crossed the finish line, everything hurt like hell, I was disorientated, I didn’t know where to go, I was thirsty and I was about to cry.  Luckily I bumped into fellow Chaser Adam and was hugely grateful he helped me out so I didn’t need to cry in the end!


I guess you learn something new in every marathon – this time I learnt that I was capable of pacing well, I just had to man up in the last 4 miles.  But I also learnt that maybe I’ll never be as fast as I want to be – my last 3 marathons have been just a couple of minutes apart, maybe that’s as good as it gets.

Anyway, it was time to park that thought and eat…


…and drink!


So, that’s marathon number 4.  I have a new PB so I guess that’s a successful marathon number 4.  Don’t get me wrong, I still want to smash it, and I’m not the type to just give up, I’m just not convinced I’m good enough.

What next?  Probably a Spring marathon, maybe Rome, maybe Hamburg, maybe Vienna…


Marathons: Spring Vs Autumn

Is it better to train through the freezing Winter…or the sweltering Summer?

Frankfurt will be my first autumn marathon.  The previous 3 have all been spring marathons which means cold dark nights, cold early mornings and bloody freezing long weekend runs.

This Winter was one of the coldest in history, so cold in fact RW editor Andrew Dixon said ‘Those who’ve marathon trained through this UK winter are 23.7777% tougher than in previous years. Fact.’  This prompted my Dad to respond with ‘When I was steel fixing in 1963 and the snow was 4ft thick for 3 months and I was riding my bike to and from work was 100% tougher than any marathon runner’ but whatever, it was cold and I was brave!

Britain Weather

Finding the motivation to head out for an after-work run after a warm cozy tube ride home or a 3 hour weekend run when it was snowing was challenging to say the least.  The seasons are changing, I don’t think I got a single long run in when it wasn’t really cold, and inevitably the day of the marathon itself was warm and sunny which wasn’t ideal considering training conditions.

When I signed up for Frankfurt I promised myself no pressure.  There’d be no slave to the plan, no regimented mileage and no ‘junk’ miles.  I did all that for London and it didn’t improve my time.  This time I planned to run smarter, run less, recover more, and remember that I’m doing it for the love of running (and the new bling…and the mini break abroad…and the post race celebrations…)

For the most part, training through the summer has been a pleasure; warm light evenings and sunny days beat the cold, dark and dodgy ice patches anytime, it lifts your spirits.  There have been downsides of course, we had a couple of heatwaves earlier this Summer and it made the long runs tougher than I had appreciated, my pace slowed, I had to get out the door early and I needed to take on more water than I was used to.  But I wouldn’t complain about it!


My long runs have generally been slower than in the Winter.  I don’t know why, in all honesty I feel fitter than ever so it doesn’t make sense to me.  I’m hoping it’s because I’m putting more effort into weekly tempo and track sessions which weren’t part of my schedule before and therefore I’m not as fresh on the long runs as I might have been.  Or it might be the increase in temperature (when it’s -7 you run as fast as you can just to get it over with), but I’m trying not to let it worry me.

So, is it better to train through the Winter or the Summer?  No doubt the Summer is much more enjoyable but how will this affect my race?  Has my pace been compromised?   Jury’s still out, my marathon time might have the answer…

How do you pick which marathon to run next when you just want to run them all?!

So I wasn’t accepted  for the New York Marathon through the ballot.  Given the $347 price tag for the entry fee alone I’m starting to think this was a good thing.  I mean, for $347 I expect a solid gold diamond encrusted medal that weighs so much it’ll take me over my luggage limit on the flight home…

A few months ago, running more than one marathon in a year seemed slightly ludicrous to me, it’s just so much time and effort!  But after London (where I failed to hit my PB let alone any other targets I set myself) I was keen for another challenge, especially as I now have the support of the Chasers (which I absolutely LOVE being a part of).

It also got me thinking, how much extra effort is it really? Really?  I’m already pretty fit and I run on a regular basis, often clocking up 30+ miles a week outside of marathon training, so I just need to throw those extra long runs into the mix…  What with the longer days and warmer(?) climes it’s got to be easier than training through the Winter.  Hasn’t it?


So I now need an Autumn marathon to train for and my sense of adventure takes me outside of the UK.   Like most marathon runners I have distant dreams of completing the World Marathon Major series, but it’s now June, Chicago has sold out, Berlin has sold out and New York were unaccommodating.  What next?

Amsterdam was my back up if I didn’t get a place in New York, a guaranteed flat course, short flight and it’s a lovely little city…but then I found out the Chasers ‘official’ Autumn marathon would be Frankfurt…

I’ve been to Amsterdam before and I liked it.  I’ve never been to Germany, what if I didn’t like the food?  What if there was no pasta?  What if it’s a city where no one understands me?!  All these thoughts were going through my head and I struggled to make a decision, do I pick the ‘safe’ option in Amsterdam?  Or do I sign up to a marathon in a country I’ve never been to before with a group of people who, although friendly, I don’t actually know at this point?  What if they all finish an hour before me (likely) and I’m left in a post marathon daze on my own in a strange City?

Obviously I didn’t pick the safe option, that would be too easy.  I’m going to Frankfurt with the club…


So I’m now entering my 4th marathon and I will still have only ticked one of the World Majors off the list.  How many marathons am I actually going to run?  The wishlist keeps getting longer… At what point will I break?  How do I know when I’ve reached my peak?  What if I reach the point where I never want to run again and get really fat and become a couch potato watching back to back soaps?

I don’t know the answers to these and I may very well find that 2 marathons in a year is one too many for me but, for the mean time, I’m fit, I’m healthy & I’m able and I fully intend to embrace that while I can.

I don’t speak German and I don’t like Hot Dogs, but I shall run the Frankfurt Marathon and celebrate with copious amounts of Jagermeister and pretzels, even if I am the last Chaser home!