Frankfurt Marathon – Tom Brady

Having arrived in Frankfurt on the Friday, I tried my best to stay off my feet on the Saturday, although had to do some obligatory sight seeing, lots of pasta that night and I was ready. Waking up on race day, I felt good, with the race starting less than 5 mins walk from the hotel, conditions were perfect, light winds and overcast.
Its always difficult with a big race like this trying to judge where to be on the start line. I tucked in with a bunch of semi-serious looking runners & as we started I just tried to settle in to a steady pace. I soon realised my garmin watch was playing tricks, either that or I was on world record pace! But after a bit of argie bargie in the 1st km I found a good group and stayed with these.
My pre-race goal was sub 2:45, but really I wanted under 2:40, after lots of deliberation I decided it was achievable and factoring in slowing by a min or 2 in the last half & decided to aim for 78:30 ish for halfway. Of course this was a gamble, being only my 2nd marathon (my 1st being Snowdonia, and a totally different course). Still with the same group, give or take, I hit halfway bang on, in 78:44. I knew it was going to get tough, it was just a case of when, I kept this pace up, sub 6min miles till around 15-16mile. But then I was starting to suffer, dropping back slightly but only slowing a little.
20 miles went in 2:01.30ish, so just about still on for sub 2:40.
But, no matter what physiological tricks you play, the last 10km is so hard, I continued to slow, although it seemed others were too, I was now down to 6:30 mile pace. I knew sub 2:40 was out, it was just trying to hold on for sub 2:45, could I do it, I was doing the maths in my head and knew it would be close.
As the race entered back into the city centre, the crowds increased and so did the support, but this did little to help, my last 2 miles were now over 7 min mile pace & I was really hurting. Another runner from my old Brighton Phoenix club passed me and gave some encouragement, I desperately tried to tag on.
Finally I saw signs of 400m to go, surely I could sprint now, but no it wasn’t until I saw the finish line with less than 100m to go that I finally managed to put in a final spurt.
The finish time, 2:46.00, and what a relief, it was outside of my goals, but still a massive PB, I was just happy to finish really. I had underestimated the pain in the last 10km. For sure a more even pace would have seen a quicker time, but I knew what time I really wanted & knew the pace I needed to maintain.
Looking back at the race and all my build up I’ve learnt a lot, how to improve my training, pacing and tapering, an 18mile temp run less than 2 weeks out wasn’t my best idea. And also recovery, the race was 3 weeks ago now but it’s taken this long for me to recover, with achilles problems and generally feeling like a cripple for a while. Now I’m ready to concentrate on shorter distances & looking at a spring marathon in either Rotterdam or Hamburg next year.
If anyone is looking to do a big city marathon, I can highly recommend Frankfurt, well organised, great city, great support and a fast and flat course.
Tom Grady