26 3 / 2012
On a holiday to Barcelona a couple of years ago I ran around parts of the city and I thought it would be a good place to do a marathon. So I entered the Barcelona Marathon keen to try and better my time of 3 hours 22 I did in New York last November.
Training had been going well over the January to March period as I wasn’t working. Winter running is much better when you can do it in the daylight! 4 weeks prior to the race I cracked a rib on a snowboarding holiday so I developed a new way of breathing and running so my ribcage didn’t expand too much. I could have done without that to be honest! Since this was my second marathon I knew what I was up against. Sort of. I had a time of about 3 hours 15 minutes to beat since I thought that would get me a qualifying time for other marathons - mainly Boston. To do that time I would have to average about 7 mins 26 secs per mile. I had decided to change over to the fore-foot landing running technique since New York and I hoped this change would mean no more knee problems.
I got an EasyJet flight early on the saturday and arrived mid morning and got the bus over to Placa Espanya where the Expo was being held. I collected my race number and had a good look around all the stalls. I picked up leaflets for marathons all over Europe and bought myself a running cap as I thought I might get sunburnt.
The weather was glorious and after the expo I walked to my hotel which was very basic but only 1km from the race start and finish so I could walk (or crawl) home easily after the race. When I layed all my kit out ready for the next day I realised I had lost the safety pins that came with the race number to pin onto my shirt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was 5pm. After some quick thinking I managed to work out how to ask if a shop sold safety pins (Como vender los imperdibles?). I found a shop that sold me lots of safety pins. Whew! Disaster averted.
I had a race day breakfast of bread, bananas, coffee and a powerbar and headed to the starting area at Mont Juic. There was a great buzz and I was in the second pack behind the elite athletes (one day!) in with a bunch of people stretching and jumping up and down getting ready for the start. Like New York they were playing some great music to gee everyone up. I was digging the whole vibe and then just as they started the countdown a ticker tape parade started and Barcelona by Freddie Mercury was playing and at that moment I admit I had a little tear in my eye…. but that may have been the cracked rib which was still giving me some jip.
It took about 1 minute to get over the start line but it was chip timing so my time wouldn’t start until I crossed the starting mat. I had bought a cheap long sleeve top for £3 to wear to stop me getting cold until the race started and I ditched it just before we started. I was using my new Nike Plus GPS sports watch which gave me same stats which I relied on to judge my pace. I figured I would try and keep it as even as possible throughout the race but at a slightly faster pace than I needed so if I slowed down I wouldn’t ruin my time. This strategy worked pretty well the entire race but I did slow down slightly towards the end but not by much - check the mile splits below.
It was a hot day and I was glad of my new hat although I should have probably got one that wasn’t black! My imperdibles also held my race number on perfectly!
The scenery was brilliant and it is a great way to see a city when you can run down the main avenues and boulevards without having to worry about traffic. The atmosphere was brilliant. Lots of street bands playing all sorts of music from funky Rock to African rythms and traditional Spanish horn bands.
I really enjoyed the race and felt strong throughout. I took on board water and gatorade at every drink station and had a powerbar and 4 gels whilst I was running. I am sure that the little and often eating from about half an hour in to the race is key to not hitting the wall. Having said that the last 2km were absolute killer but I managed to push on and keep running until the end.
I knew I was on for a good time if I could just keep it going. I crossed the line at 3 Hours 12 minutes. It was a 10 min improvement on NY.
This time there was no knee pain and I could still walk. I had some water, collected my finishers medal and relaxed by one of the big fountains at the finish line for a while and recovered. I was very pleased with my result.
I had hoped to meet up with my friend Jaume that I had met in New York since he lives in Barcelona but unfortunately we we were unable to - maybe another time we will race together again. I walked back to the hotel and had some food, a nap and a shower and then got the bus back to the airport and an easyjet flight back to Stansted. A good weekend!
I was back at work the next day. My leg muscles were very sore but still no knee pain. Going up and down stairs was painful but it was muscular pain not skeletal pain so in my mind that was alright. I still need to work on my technique as I think I had moved back into heel striking mode near the end of the race.I didn’t run again until the Friday where I did an easy 5k to ease back into the training again. I’ve got a busy schedule of running races, cylcling, swimming and triathlons this year so I can’t rest for too long. My finishing time is within the qualifying time for the Boston Marathon (but doesn’t necessarily mean I will get a place).
I’ve already got the next marathon booked - Berlin in September!
Here’s a link to the Barcelona Marathon site: http://www.zurichmaratobarcelona.es/index_i.php
Here are some stats and photos:
Distance - 26.2 Miles
Time - 3:12:09
Avg Pace: 7:19 per mile.
half marathon: 1:34:22
Temperature - 19C
Nutrition - Salt before race, 4 gels, 1 powerbar, 1/2 banana. water and powerade every stop