The executive summary: I managed to qualify for the International San Silvestre but with a not particularly spectacular time of about 37:30 in the Madrid Rock 'n' Roll 10K. For those of you who like the gory details, read on...
There were about 19,000 runners of whom 7,000 were competing in the 10K, the rest in the Marathon. Unlike Valencia, there was no separation at the start between runners competing in the different distances so I made sure I got right to the front. In fact I was in the very first line behind the elite runners. As a result I got to shake hands with the Mayoress of Madrid and wife of our beloved ex-President, José María Aznar, and had my photo taken with her (I should say I was right behind her, with another 18,999 people behind me). They were pretty lax about allowing people into the different starting boxes but, for once, I wasn't hindered in the slightest at the start.
In fact, it was very exhilarating to run the first 500m or so right up there with the head group. I've often thought it might be fun to sprint in front of the leaders just for a few seconds, perhaps dressed as a gorilla or something... That feeling of being with those extraordinarily talented runners for just a few minutes while thousands of people were toiling behind me was incredible. Of course, it was sort of cheating as I was only running the 10K race. I clocked the first kilometer in 3:32, just under 17kph. Unfortunately, just as I did in Seville, I pressed the "stop" button instead of the lap button, so this made it pretty much impossible to see how I was doing for time during the race. A bit annoying as my objective was mainly to get a sub 38 minute time.
The first 4 kilometers were uphill with one bit that was quite testing. A number of runners passed me on that hill but I caught them back up on the downward slope. Just as we parted company with our fellow Marathon runners, I was overtaken by a woman (running the Marathon) who looked a bit like Paula Radcliffe, except that Paula would have been running a lot faster had it really been her. It was still impressive though.
The next four kilometers were primarily downhill and I ran them at under 3:40 splits. The last kilometers, though, were a killer and I lost quite a bit of time there. I didn't feel I was being tested cardiovascularly but I felt like my legs weren't strong enough. This is a feeling I can remember complaining about a couple of years ago.
To be honest, I don't think I really wanted this race enough. I ran well but I didn't push myself nearly hard enough. Partly because I hadn't really trained for that distance - one where you have to be red-lining pretty much all the way - and partly because my real objective was not too hard. My pulse rate was consistently well below where it should have been if I were really pushing the envelope. Having said that, it was a tough course as they go, certainly not one for a personal best time, so I suppose I can be pleased to have done a good time (which, as it happens, is a personal best time for me, just not really in line with my Half Marathon performances).
After the finish, I jogged back a couple of kilometers to the start along the course. Some of the runners who were still finishing shouted out that I was going the wrong way. I finally got to the place where I had stashed my warmup t-shirt (I didn't bother with the cloakroom service - this would have meant leaving stuff at the finish line before the race started) and I was pleased to see that it was still there.
One year I really will have to run the Madrid Marathon...