Monday, April 27, 2009

Hamburg Marathon - Race Report

PERFECT. The word that best describes my Hamburg Marathon, despite having thoughts of dropping out when I started to feel some slight pain on my right achilles and right knee (more on this below).

Hamburg did not disappoint. The weather was near perfect (overcast, ~58 degrees at the start and almost no wind), the course was fast (probably not as fast London, Berlin, Chicago, Rotterdam & Amsterdam though), and the crowd support was simply AMAZING.

Pre-RACE: The last week of taper leading to race-day went fairly well. I only did short easy runs, with the exception of Tuesday's tune-up workout, to freshen up the legs. I even took a complete day off (Friday), which I normally don't do. The day off and lower-than-normal prerace mileage (30 miles) was actually me being extra cautious with the right knee, which I refused to mention in the post leading to the race. To be brief, I felt some twinges in the right knee on Monday, mostly before and after the run. The knee felt fine on Tuesday's tune-up workout, but the slight pain came back again on Wednesday. A massage on Wed night and icing made the knee feel better. To ensure extra healing I decided to take Friday completely off from running. On Saturday, I went for a slow easy 30 minute jog. For the rest of the day I mostly stayed off of the legs. I rested (midday nap and a flawless 7 hours of sleep), ate lots of pasta (lunch & dinner) and watched TV and Gladiator. I was ready to go, but still worried about the knee eventhough I wasn't feeling any pain.

On race morning I stayed in my hotel, 200 meters from the start/finish, until about 30 minutes before the start. I don't do much of a warmup for a marathon; about 5 minutes of jogging and then some stretching is all I do, as I like to save all my energy for the race. Most of the warmup is done in the first couple miles anyways.

RACE: When the gun went off I didn't worry too much about a group as it would take a few kilometers to settle in. After a first Km of 3:37 (5:49 pace), I slowed the pace a bit splitting 2K (slight gradual incline) in 3:50. At this point I finally felt like I was running at the right effort, so I latched on to a pack of about six. We came across 5K at 18:29. The same pack ran together for the next 5K reaching 10K (1st energy gel) in 36:43. One by one the guys in this pack started to back off of the pace over the next few kilometer. I felt very comfortable, so I just kept my pace with my eyes set on the next runner or pack of runners in front of me. It seemed as if I picked up my pace and was reeling in runners, but in reality they just kept coming back to me.

Around 17K I was running with a couple guys and could hear them breathing a bit hard. I knew they weren't going to stay with the pace. There was a little wind during this part of the course and I didn't want to slow down, so I decided to pick up the pace to catch the next pack of 3 runners, about 10-20 meters ahead. This resulted in a fast 17K split, 3:34 (5:44 pace).

I caught up to the pack and then "OUCH". I started to feel some pain in my right achilles. The tendon felt stiff. I tried different ways of landing my right foot to prevent the pain. Shortly after that, I started to feel some slight pain on the right knee. I'm not sure if the change in foot strike cause the knee to act up. My original thoughts were "if the knee and achilles continues to hurt then I'm going to drop out at the halfway mark where there is an aid station. Better to drop out and prevent worsening the injury than hobble through another half-marathon." I then started thinking positive telling myself that it's all in the mind; and praying to the Lord to get rid of the pain. I truly believe the Lord was with me. The pain was gone or I had forgotten about it.

At 20K, I took in my 2nd energy gel. I was still running in a pack with 3 other runners, but they all eventually dropped off the pace. Over the next 5K, I picked off a few more runners and could also see a big pack of runners about 100-200 meters ahead with a motorcycle and camera man following. I had my eyes set on the pack and motorcycle. 27.5K - 3rd energy gel.

At around 30K I finally caught the big pack of runners, which consisted of two female elite runners (2nd & 3rd overall). I learned after the race that the camera man was broadcasting live on German TV and had the camera set on the German female Ulrike Maisch, who won the European Marathon Championships in 2006. My goal from this point on was to stay with the group for as long as possible. I must have gotten a little excited at times or wanted some fame because I found myself in front of the pack setting the pace, despite an African male elite there for that reason.

At 35K, I took in my 4th and final energy gel. Most of the pack was still together besides the African female and her pacer pulling away. I reached 40K in 2:26:27 (5:54 pace) and still feeling okay, but certainly tiring. In the last kilometer, Ulrike and the rest of the pack picked up the pace and I found myself hanging on for dear life finishing in 2:34:33, a new personal best and by far the best marathon I have executed. I was quite shocked to see that I ran the last 200 meters in 39 seconds. Official and Unofficial splits below.

Video coverage at 20K, half, 30K, 40K and finish here.

Click on photo for larger view.


nate said...


Great race analysis. You have got to be stoked plus you said a Guam national record..outstandng brother. Im really happy for you.


Mark said...

Nice report a good read of your race.
Wayne, did you happen to run the calculator on your predicted marathon? I checked a couple of your PRs and think that Hamburg is a breakthrough.
Were you going into the race with an expeceted per K\mile pace>?

Thomas said...


If I ever run a marathon like that, I will be a happy man. And I'm not talking about the pace, I'm talking about the perfect execution. Very few people get the marathon right, and it's a special day when that happens.

Congratulations, again.

Judd & Leslie Zimmerman said...

Awesome! Especially when you didn't feel good at the start of the race!

Melissa said...

That is so great, Wayne! I aspire to have even splits like that! Congratulations!!!