The heaven complained about my pace. The punishment was a heavy rain that appeared from nowhere at the 35th kilometre. As the heavy wind and extra stiff legs were not enough, water pouring down from the sky annoyed me a little more.
I signed up for the Frankfurt’s marathon as a must. I worked in Frankfurt for two years and it was a call-back down the memory lane. Shops, bars, a few worthy sightseeing places Frankfurt has, the colleagues from work, friendships built and acquaintances that came and gone from my life with the speed of contemporary life. Places like Bockenheim, Gallus, Messe, Westend, Skyscrapers in the financial district, Sachenshausen, Kennedy Alle and Niederrad turned into flat circle that closed the marathon track and the two-year period of my life. It was my first and last long-term contract outside my beloved country and similar to a marathon experience it was not easy for me. It was a struggle, an experience well beyond the comfort zone. But the money was earned, experiences gained, friendships built; so in the end, the period has been marked as successful.
The marathon is the oldest in Germany. The 36th instance of it does not make it feel like the oldest, but the organizers claim it is. I trust them. Who wouldn’t trust the Germans, right? The very first marathon in 1981 has been attended by the famous Emil Zatopek, the winner of the 3 gold medals on the Olympics in Helsinki, 1952. Reportedly, he signed up for the marathon race on the Olympics in the last minute and won. Very good choice, indeed.
At the start of the marathon it was extremely windy. I was a bit skeptical if I dressed up correctly, with the tights and two light shirts. I had something for around my neck, but that was pretty much all. I was anxious to start and was not ready to wait 45 minutes for the start in the block. Well, I couldn’t start the race, so I had to be patient.
When the race started, my one and only goal was to keep my pace at a normal level. The huge mass pushed forward and I couldn’t and couldn’t run with my inner pace. I had to intentionally lower the pace every 50 meters. The speed increased also to one minute per kilometre faster than I was ready to run. And the struggle to keep the steady pace continued to the 10th kilometre.
At 10th I started to think about my family and friends who supposed to wait for me somewhere after the 12th kilometre. We agreed that I keep to the right of the running horde. They were six of them so I noticed them quickly in the distance. The cameras and the phones were up, but I liked the most my daughter’s poster. “Go daddy” was written in colourful letters. I gave the high-five to a friend and his family, a hug to my daughter and a kiss to my partner. I was happy. The next few kilometres I was flying. The meet-up boosted my mind and the legs. I thought I can do it better than initially expected.
Wrong. Of course. When I was approaching the mid of the race, I was already tired. Legs were stiff and the signs with the track distances have been further and further between each other in my mind. I got a carbo-hydrate gel at one station and I was tempted to swallow it down. I resisted. For a while. After 20 minutes or so, I took it. I hadn’t felt much of a difference. I was not lacking energy, something else was probably wrong. Before the race I felt a light pain in my back, which disappeared after I warmed up, but the mind and the asphalt had not forgotten about it. My posture was not perfect due to the subconscious fear and the asphalt did the rest. However, the problem was not the back but really really stiff legs. As I was not relaxed enough, my arms movement were wrong. Simply wrong. If I tried to stretched them, I felt the pain. I drank enough, this is, a cup at every water stand that were aligned along the rest precisely at every 5 kilometres. So, it had to be the posture. I tried to relax the arms and the body, but it was probably too late.
At 34th kilometre my guys cheered for me again. I was glad to see them. I didn’t care about the result anymore. I stopped for a bit and asked my friend to take picture with my daughter. Daughter was a bit surprised due to the crowd and seeing her father running out of nowhere. But she was proud or at least that how I wanted her to feel. We kissed. And I run further. The flying period at this stage lasted only few hundred meters.
Last few kilometres were a pure struggle. It started to rain and I was sick of everything. I just wanted to finish the race. Luckily, we were back in the city and I tried to recall the places I’ve been and the people I met. I passed the building I worked in, the bars I’ve been to. I tried to remember the feelings I had when I lived in Frankfurt. Step by step, I approached the Messe arena, where the last 195 meters were. In the arena the crowd and atmosphere were amazing. Cheerleaders accompanied us for the last meters and finally, finally the last step. Game over.
Second time this year. Proud.