On February 22nd I run the Sevilla Marathon. Being it my ninth marathon race (1), it was in fact a “first” for me, as this was the first time I run the distance in Spain. The usual 4J-suspects from Athens, Juan, José, my brother Javier and I formed our particular field this time.
Besides running at home, the incentives of the sevillian course were perfectly described by Javier in his pre-race post, and ranged from the friends and family we have in the city, to the flat course that invited to beat personal bests.
With that opportunity in mind, I took another step forward in the preparation, following the advice from Javi to stick to a standard training plan. In this case Garmin´s Marathon Intermediate for 16 weeks was the chosen one. Even though I only managed to follow around 60% of the training units, I clocked more kilometers per month than ever before combining long weekend runs (up to 3 hours) at my parent´s place with progressive series mainly at Madrid´s Retiro Park. I enjoyed the visits of Javier to Madrid, when we could synchronize our plans to do the units together and check our readiness. We trained and prepared for the goal of running at 5’/km and possibly under 3h30′ overall.
On the race day we could start at the desired 5’/km. Javier and José were together with me in the sub-4h corral I had registered in. Under the sun Javier accompained us until km12, where his physical condition started to take a toll on him (2). On we went José and I, keeping the 5’/km pace. In normal conditions José would have run faster than me, but this time he forgot his GPS-heart-rate monitor and had to stick with me to have some accurate sense of pace. Races have these things 🙂
The pace seemed comfortable for both of us during the next 10 km. Only after the half-marathon milestone, in the long Ronda del Tamarguillo avenue, we felt more exposed to the rising sun and started to regulate. From km 25 I lagged behind some 500m from José, a distance that would grow until the finish line.
Javier and I had strategized on how to overcome the possible appearance of “the wall” around km 30/33. I recalled that conversation and reduced the pace on purpose to around 5:25’/km from km 33 to the 37.
Then, running across the famous Plaza the España, I felt with energy enough and as I entered the magnificent downtown of Sevilla in km 38, with the Avenida de la Consitucion and the Plaza Nueva, I accelerated again. I knew the streets well from my year in Seville so that I was able to sustain a pace between 5:05 and 5:15’/km until the Olympic Station. Entering the race track I was able to sprint practically the entire oval, crossing the finish line at 3h36’38” official time. I beat my time in Chicago 2011 by one minute. After four long years, finally again I clocked around 3h30′. Mission accomplished.
I have the impression, that even under the sun that we had in Sevilla, with Javier on my side, we together would have slightly pushed a bit in the second half of the race to finish under 3h30′, but this will have to wait until next year, when he will attempt this course again.
Some final remarks belong to the race organization which, although very good overall, especially regarding water supplies, had the pacer balloons located too much ahead the corresponding corrals. There was no way José, Javier and I could catch our targeted 3h30′ pacer. We even spent the first kilometers trying to catch the 4h one having started from the sub-4h corral! And although the city is especially beautiful in its central areas, and the people is very friendly and cheerful (thanks my dear Sevillanos for that!) we had expected more music bands! (Well, considering we came from New York Marathon in November, where we enjoyed up to 3 bands per mile, Sevilla had it really difficult…)
The post race went as usual, enjoying a post race dinner with the four runners. Sevilla is a safe bet when it comes to good food, and the great tapas of Bodeguita Antonio Romero II, also known as El Piripi, delighted us all. We will definitely come back to run next year.
Now, the next one will be Madrid-MAPOMA on April 26th. Being a FC Barcelona supporter, it is an irony that I have to run my “Décima” (the Tenth) marathon race precisely in the capital, home of Real Madrid. Javier is still laughing…
(2) Javier had the bad fortune to get sick on the Friday night, preventing him from eating and resting properly. That he managed to wake up on Sunday and run 25km it´s just a demonstration of his strong will.