Sunday, September 18, 2011

Media Maraton de Valladolid

Today I got up nice and early and drove from the country house where my family and a group of friends were staying, to Valladolid. I easily found a parking spot just near the start (only later would I realize why it was so easy to park there). For a race with 1,500 or so participants it was impressive how few queues there were for picking up race numbers and so on - it felt like a very small affair until I was standing at the start line surveying the crowds building up behind me.

I always find it interesting and sometimes amusing watching how other people get ready for a race, their little routines. I was a bit nervous because I really had no idea how the race would go. As I was doing my warmup, I was vaguely aware of comments about my shoes like "joder que zapatillas" or something about "minimalist" but I was pretty much in my own world the rest of the time.

My plan was to run to the heart rate set by my trainer per kilometer and see where it got me - I honestly didn't know until the gun went off whether this would correspond to a 1 hour 30 pace or less.

I soon found the answer - the first kilometer I ran in 3:45 in spite of having to dodge slower runners who had started too far forward. I hit the 10k mark in what was I think my second fastest time ever - 38:18.

During the race, I thought a lot about rhythm and played "Hit the Road Jack" by Mo' Horizons in my head over and over again to ensure I was turning over my legs quickly enough. I found other people's footsteps very distracting and, before I knew it, I would be running to their rhythm if I wasn't careful. I also thought about "punching it forward" as I did in the Getafe Half Marathon to make sure I was marking the difference between contact time and flight. For the rest, I would allow myself to become hypnotized by the side to side movement of the person running in front of me.

The conditions were perfect - not too hot and not too cold - in fact, the temperature had dropped some five degrees with respect to the day before. It was, however, quite windy so it was important to "draft" as much as possible.

The bulk of the race felt very comfortable, it was only in the last 3 kilometers that I started my trademark "steam engine" breathing. I think it must psyche people out a bit hearing me approach but that isn't the (only) reason I do it... My Garmin beeped for the 21st time at exactly 1 hour and twenty minutes so it was now just a question of how much longer the course would turn out to be (580m)*. I crossed the finish line at 1:22:22, more than a minute faster than my best time - an average of 3:49 per kilometer according to my Garmin. Amazing to think that that was my average pace in the race I did in San Francisco, only that it was a third of the distance! I finished in 73rd place (one better than I started, with a race number of 74) and 12th in my category. My only complaint about the race - which was impeccably organized - would be that, in spite of wearing chips, our start times were not recorded. Apart from inflating your results it causes everyone to want to start as far forward as possible leading to bottlenecks.

After the race another of Jonathan's disciples, Alex Gómez, came up to me. We had also coincided in the San Sebastian Marathon. His best time in the Half Marathon is very similar to the time I had just knocked out and his best time in the Marathon is 2:59. He assured me that, if everything goes to plan, it's looking good for me to also break the 3 hour barrier. We'll see - in a Marathon, anything can happen.

I got to my car and realized why it had been so easy to park - I'd ended up parking along the course so I'd have to wait until the "coche escoba" that follows behind the last runners went by. A good excuse for a well deserved siesta.

(By the way, the anticipated free bottle of wine has a label written in Chinese so let's just say I don't think I am missing anything by being abstemious.)

* To be fair, looking at the route traced out by the GPS data, it's clear that there was some error which probably explains the extra meters. It's a bit annoying to have a faster race time dangled in front of your nose, only to have it snatched away again - especially when you have just run what you think is the course and find that you still have some way to go. In the Marathon, I think I will turn off the auto-lap-every-kilometer feature and press the lap button myself at every marker.


1 comment:

  1. Fantastic time and new PB!!! Congratulations Rob, you're one of my mirrors for 2012 hehe!
    Cheers, Javi