Sunday, November 28, 2010

In Jonathan We Trust

This was the mantra I repeated over and over to myself (until, with only a few kilometers left, someone shouted "Con dos cojones!" and this promptly replaced the old mantra). Jonathan is my coach and, this time, I stuck to his advice.

Ali G runs da Marathon

I had a brilliant race. I can't tell you much about San Sebastian, the Marathon course or its environs, as I spent most of the time looking at the hairs on the neck of the guy in front of me but they say it is a very picturesque route (very flat but a bit windy). More importantly, I managed to achieve all my objectives: no cramps, no "wall" and a time of 3:07:18 (that's an improvement of just under 53 minutes, by the way)! Oh, and I actually enjoyed it. What's crazy is that I ran the first half marathon in 1:37 which means that the second half marathon took only 1:30! The only strange thing is that, as the race wore on, I seemed to be able to run faster and faster at the same heart rate. I can only guess that the excitement of the race or the caffeine loaded gel I took after breakfast (yes, I couldn't resist taking this risk in spite of what happened in Lisbon) were to blame for an accelerated heart rate at the beginning.

As it was so windy, I went from peloton to peloton, having to almost sprint in between, as facing the wind alone was very costly. I was having to constantly decide between running along at too low an intensity in a group, or braving it and suddenly finding myself well over the limit. Sometimes these decisions were taken based on the strange running style of the person in front of me or simply because I didn't like his haircut. It was always a relief to see that, once back in the fold of my new group, my pulse would settle back down to a maintainable rate.

It felt very easy until about the 35km mark when I felt my legs getting a bit tired. I felt a lot more scared than tired because I was literally running into unexplored territory: I had never run more than 27km nonstop before. But, as I had run the first half conservatively, I was able to run the end making full use of my anaerobic engine: the last few kilometers I was clocking at over 15kph! It was such a great feeling to be overtaking everybody and hearing people in the crowd saying things like "Wow, look at him go!" as well as some other stuff in Basque which sounded equally encouraging, even though I had no idea what they were saying. I was running for a Basque club that some of my friends run for so people were probably egging me on all along the course but, it was impossible for me to know as I can barely pronounce the name let alone actually remember it.

A nice surprise was to "bump into" some friends of mine from my triathlon club along the way. One of them is very fast so overtaking him made me feel invincible and probably spurred me on to shave half a minute off my time. (It was only afterwards that he explained he was just doing a "training run" and had only run the second half...)

Coming into the stadium and feeling the crowd, I mustered a massive sprint for the finish line and my trademark roar as I crossed it. What an adrenalin rush! I felt overwhelmed and I started to "craugh" (cry and laugh at the same time) uncontrollably. You had to have been there really to understand...

So all this bodes well for the Ironman - I need fear the bastard Marathon no longer. It seems that the carbo loading, the 9 high5 isogels and the 9 salt stick pills I took during the race, the calorie counting, the controlled low intensity workouts and the Pose running technique all paid off in the end. Now I have the "problem" of being tantalizingly close to the magic 3 hour boundary. Hmmmmm....

Here's why its a good idea to take salt tablets

Location:San Sebastian


  1. Congrats Rob. I am happy to see you finally “defeated” the bloody 42km in such a brilliant way. Please keep using this blog and sharing your feelings with us. They are pretty useful for amateur runners like me, believe me!


  2. Espectacular ROBER.
    In Jonhy I trust too.


  3. Amazing time! big congrats! if you want to keep running marathons (you do, that 3h mention...) now you have the doors opened even at Boston