My 11th Marathon …..Marathon #1 of 2017
I got talked into doing this one at New Years and I’m so glad that I went for it. Having never spent any time in Barcelona before I am now in love with it, it is a fabulous city and I am already missing the Sangria and Tapas.
The week building up to the marathon…
I’ve been following my training plan provided by Shaun Dixon and have been loving having a tailored more focused approach to the marathon than I would normally take.
Tuesday: The run included:
30mins @ Marathon Pace
6 x 20secs @ 85% effort with a 60sec slow jog inbetween each*
10mins @ Steady
I really enjoyed this one. My pace is improving and I enjoyed working hard on those 20 sec sprints.
Friday: A 30 min leg loosener was on the plan today so I went out and although it was grey day I enjoyed a run and seeing all the signs of spring around. A great run before I headed home to get packed & ready for Barcelona.
I flew out on the Saturday morning and arrived in sunny Barcelona, checked into the hotel and then headed straight out to the expo. It was an easy 10 minute walk down the road from the hotel and it was a great expo. No queues to get the race packs- really easy & some fun photo ops too. The usual shopping & race stalls were there but I didn’t need anything so had fun with the photos.
After making the most of the photo opportunities we headed out to drink Sangria and eat tapas in the sunshine.
I wanted to make the most of being in a new city so I’d followed the Lonely Planet advice and pre-booked tickets to go to Park Guell (am glad I pre-booked as they were sold out). It was nice and easy, had a short walk, a sit in the sunshine, enjoyed the view and had some ice cream.
Back at the hotel I got my kit and bag sorted for the next day before heading up to the hotel restaurant for some lovely food with great views of the city.
As usual I couldn’t manage breakfast. 1 spoonful of porridge and I knew I didn’t want it. I had a cup of green tea and went for the short walk down to the start area.
The bag drop was really easy, no queues or waiting at all, just gave it to a guy who wish me luck and then I headed out. I wanted to use the loo before it started but I didn’t see any between the bag drop and going into the pens. I realised at the end that they hadn’t been far away. I figured it was probably just nerves anyway and I knew there were plenty of toilets along the course so knew I could stop if need be.
The starting pens were quite crowded so the only way in the pens was at the back. Plenty of others runners were doing the same so we weren’t right at the back once it was time to start. It took 25 minutes to get across the start line but it flew by as there was a great atmosphere and it was warm, so warm I hadn’t bothered to wear a jumper to throw away.
I was excited to get started & with the music blasting Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballe singing “Barcelona” & the ticker tape firing it was a pretty awesome dramatic start.
I got off to a good start and was feeling good. The 1st couple of miles were quite busy (which I find is the norm for a big city marathon), I did a lot of overtaking and got into a comfortable pace. The 1st water stop was at 5k & they were at every 2.5k after that. I had a few sips of water at most of the stops, at the 1st few stops I had some gatorade as I was aware I’d be losing a lot of salt in the heat and had nothing else to replace it with.
My stomach wasn’t feeling great for most of the run and it seemed that it would be worse after the water stops but I was thirsty so kept on taking on little bits of water. It wasn’t too bad & I realised after the run that it had been discomfort from period pains (sorry for the over share but these things happen). I mostly just ignored it and got on with enjoying the run. Swiftly moving on…..
The route was great. Barcelona is a beautiful city and I loved running around it. I thought Camp Nou was a bit smaller and less impressive than I was expecting when we ran past that but going past the Segrada Familia was awesome- it’s so impressive and I had tickets to go in there for the next day so I was looking forward to that.
There are no hills on the course but there are a couple of small inclines that are quite long and you really feel them.
I made the turn onto the road that leads up to the Placa De Espagna and there was an inflatable archway that felt like it took ages to get to. I’m glad I knew the route map as I knew this wasn’t the finish and I think a few people were speeding up thinking they had the end in sight. The atmosphere in that final stretch was awesome with crowds cheering everyone along. Quite a few runners had family/friends joining them for the last section of the run. They didn’t get in my way too much and whilst I see it as a lovely gesture I can see it getting out of control easily (which it did judging by the stories of people who finished later than me).
I turned the corner and saw the finish line and was so happy to finish marathon number 11. I made sure I smiled & waved over the finish line as I knew there were video cameras and I’d signed up to the video that would automatically load onto my facebook:
….Once I knew I was out of sight of the cameras the smile soon dropped as I let out sigh and felt the emotion of completing 26.2.
And I couldn’t resist dancing on the streets of Barcelona for Ed Sheeran (the song being the soundtrack of the trip):
My lovely coach from the Reebok Team is helping me get to the London Marathon in the best shape possible. His advice for Barcelona was to use it as a fun long run and to run the first 18-9 miles steady and then, if I felt good, to speed up and pick my way through the field….A 19 mile warm up for a 7 mile run.
I think I did this pretty well. I settled into a comfortable pace and when I reached the last 10k I did my best to speed up and stay strong. Looking at my splits I didn’t speed up so much. It may not have been a speed up but I was running strong and felt comfortable and confident as I got closer to the finish.
I finished in a time of 4:19:21. I’m really happy with that as my first road marathon in a year; everything last year was mostly slow trail & hills, it was much more about endurance than speed. I would love a PB in London but I know it’s an amazing marathon and I will be happy whatever happens as I’ll enjoy it so much. So a PB is the goal but I won’t be heartbroken if it doesn’t happen. I can only do my best in the moment I am in (which is all we ever can do).
We headed out for some post marathon celebratory drinks. I was warned by my sister, who lives in Madrid, that La Rambla (our planned destination) was very touristy and some places charge extra for silly things like cutlery (who needs cutlery for tapas anyway?!)…so she said to head down a side street and find somewhere off the main road. We followed that fabulous advice and picked a nice looking place and ordered some drinks. After a few tourists came in, walked around & left again without buying anything we realised this place was pretty famous and we’d found ourselves in the ‘Four Gats‘ opened in 1897 by Pere Romeu & painters Santiago Rusinol, Ramon Casas & Miquel Utrillo with customers such as Gaudi & Picasso.
Last day in Barcelona
I love this city. I’d pre-booked tickets for Segrada Familia and got the lift to the top of the passion tower. I thought I’d read you can get the elevator down but, alas, we had to walk down ALL the stairs which was quite comical with post marathon legs.
Then it was time for some beer in the sun.
And a walk to the beach for some last beers before heading to the airport.
I love Barcelona! It is a fabulous city and they put on a fabulous marathon. I’d highly recommend it and would be tempted to do it again myself. I felt like I’d been there for ages as I’d fitted so much in to a few days. But it had to come to an end and it was time to head home. I will definitely be back to this beautiful city.
But for now, Adios.