This late post about the marathon races I run this year comes instead of the usual reports after the spring and fall marathons in which my brother Javier, myself and friends take part since many years.
As mentioned in another post, this has been again a challenging year that took a toll on both training for road running and posting about it.
The following lines provide a summary of the (bad) training, race results and feelings, since, at the end of the day, a marathon race, finishing it, is always quite an achievement and worth sharing and celebrating with a post!
Krakow Marathon – April 28th
After the good vibes of the previous fall race in Dublin, the preparation for this one started well in late January but I could not keep pace with the training sessions. More work travels than usual and stress and I ended up beginning of April with merely some tens of kilometers run per month. I tried to catch up and build some volume in the weeks ahead of the race, performing a test over 30km just to check that I would finish.
Already in Krakow I met with Javier and family, and also Juan, who would join us one year after Lisbon. On Saturday evening it started to rain and so it went until we left.
The race took place entirely under rain conditions and I started quite conservative over 6’/km. Even at that pace I started to feel difficulties past the km 15 so I lowered it a bit. At half marathon I caught Juan, who was feeling really bad and struggling to just continue. But in fact that turned the race into an exciting no-man-left-behind effort. For the next 16 km or so we kept cheering ourselves with motivational appeals under heavy rain.
At km 38 or 39, Juan took some meters ahead, and got a boost with a new energy gel which I had not, so I fought the last 3 km alone along the river up until the finish line. Still, remembering the many kilometers run together, we celebrated with a picture:
The time, 4h 48′ marked a new personal worst in my 15th participation in the distance…but it would not be the last.
Porto – November 3rd
Even though the result in Krakow had been quite a warning, the situation with training sessions did not improve for the fall race. A couple of travels lasting a week in the month before Porto did not help and the mileage was the lowest ever. With the experience of Krakow I was able to perform another 30km test to check the feasibility of the feat.
With that test, running over 6’30″/km, I was positive to finish but I thought for first time to go over 5h…
Arriving at Porto, we also joined our old fellow runner and Airbus colleague Manuel (aka Manvidal), with whom we last run in the 100km of Millau in 2015, and previously in Rotterdam and Rome. The pack of four was ready.
Starting from the coastal neighborhood of Matosinhos, the first 12km took us to its cargo harbour and back, and, even sooner than in Krakow, I already noted that this would be a tough race. I had started even more conservative, with the pace of the 30km test, above 6’30″/km.
Already running along the coast and river Douro to the inner city, I had to lower the pace to reach km 18, and later cross the magnificent Ponte Luis I bridge to the Porto wineries. There I crossed with Juan running back already from the half marathon milestone. I did it some minutes later but never caught him as I did in Krakow.
In fact, back on the bridge, and running along the river to the next Pont do Infante before km30, I had to walk after refreshing in one water station. Apart from Millau, this was the first time I had walked in a long distance race. I recovered during one kilometer and slowly started to “speed up” to around 7’/km…
I had just some 10km ahead, and I was already crossing the 4h mark, so a new personal worst was looming. The mental compromise to still keep going was similar to certain moments in Millau. However, the beauty of the city and the sight of the river and the sea really cheered my up. I struggled the last 5km and even sprinted in the last hundreds of meters, clapping at the band and cheerleaders before the finish line. All things considered, I was quite happy to tick my 16th participation in the 42km!
With a time of 5h 18′, I had set the expected new worst, but I happily joined Javier and Juan to drive back with a taxi to the city center.
Back in our apartment we rejoined with Manuel, and the celebration dinner was one of the best ever:
As final remarks I was about to write similar comments to those I made after the races in 2017 and 2018 on respecting the distance, not playing with the training, that this should change and so on… Maybe so will be case for the next one. Maybe next year will be not as challenging and I will find the proper stability and incentives to keep a good training plan.
I fear a bit the fact that, even have given up on good training in the last years, I managed to finish some races over 42km. I don´t know how long this will last. I still enjoy the struggle, and of course the leisure program on the weekend of the race with Javier and friends. But I would like this to change for better.
Let´s see how the report will look like for the next one, most probably, in Madrid.