Almost same story but with different perspective.
With a finishing netto time of 4h 38’41” , my new second worst time ever after Paris 2012 and surpassing Seville 2017, struggling already in km 11 and a lot of suffering from km 27, this post seemed posed to reproduce the feelings I had after the mentioned Sevilla race. It is not.
In hindsight it was a great experience, after all this was my 13th marathon race since I started with the distance in Munich 2008. And although my statement from Seville saying “don´t ever fool with a marathon race” remains valid, it is not that we fooled with the race. The fact is that the distance always reminds us that it is unforgiving.
On the preparation, based on the good finishing experience of Lisboa I tried to follow the same training/recovery plan of that race. An intensive plan for some 250km spread in 6 weeks including long runs on weekends and speed series on weekdays. Even though I was again not able to balance correctly work and training especially in March, I finally covered more than 90% of the mileage, getting similar good sensations than those for Lisboa.
Also the same psycological incentive of the whatsapp group for training, reporting and peer motivation was used with Javier, and it worked similarly.
Already in Vienna, the weather forecasts (sunny and around 25ºC) prepared us for a battle as we had experienced, for instance, in the “greek inferno” in Athens 2013. As in that race, our particular field included the same three out of the 4 J´s, Juan, my brother Javier and myself.
Javier had managed to book a small but well located room in the city center, close to the finish line and metro station to get to the start, and that allowed us to enjoy tourist walks without effort. However, my sensation is that we did not manage to sleep well in the night before the race and definitely did not have breakfast properly. We had missed the closure time of a nearby supermarket (in order to buy fruit, coffee, …) on Saturday evening and had to go with the products of hotel reception vending machines.
The morning of the race was pleasant and we arrived with time and well to the start line. The use of the toilets in my case was fruitful and productive…
The race started quite ok and I kept a conservative pace ranging from 5’50″/km to 6’/km, mimicking the strategy of Lisboa.
The heat and the sun started to indicate struggle ahead. The shades of the trees in the Prater Park offered some coverage, and the prospect of future alleviation for the kms 27 to 35 according to the course map. Not bad.
After getting out of the Prater Park around km 6 to 7, the first streets and avenues showed us the impact of the sun. I had it difficult to manage the heat, and the pace suffered, being consistently over 6’/km.
The road to Schönbrunn Palace started to be painful, a bit uphill and with the heat and sun, in spite of the undoubtful beauty of the viennese streets and avenues. For the occasion the soundtrack was full of classical music works matching the city´s history.
Down from Schönbrunn, and having reached the half marathon, the buildings offered some protection against the sun, but I was suffering already probably from the unproper breakfast, even though I tried to recover with the bananas provided in the water stations. In these, the water was supplied in small hard plastic glasses, less practical that the paper ones or the bottles, and I needed to slow down or stop in order to drink and not spill the content, as I do with the fountains during the training sessions in Seville. That would be then the mental relief: a long typical Sunday run with stops to drink.
Reaching km 28, back in Prater Park, I was suffering a lot and some 2 km later Javier caught me (he had stopped in some parts of the course for the toilets…) and we decided to run together as we did in Madrid 2015. The next 8 kms would run again under the trees and that helped me a lot in order not to stop. The pace exploded anyway, up to 7’30″/km in some moments.
The we left the Park behind and were exposed anew to the sun in the wide avenues of the city center. However, with around 3 kms remanining the last effort could be made. We sped up a bit below 7’/km and crossed the finish line together as we had done in Madrid three years before.
After finishing, while we were exchanging clothes and eating the refreshments from the finisher bags, we saw next to us a runner that was being attended from exhaustion or heat by the Red Cross. I had seen similar scenes throughout the race course in numbers like in no other marathon before that I can remember, which gives an idea of the challenge.
Almost recovered, we shared the feeling about how great this distance of the marathon is, that had almost beaten us, how unforgiving to the slightest failure. Anyhow, we had managed to finish it, what is always an achievement.
My progress of the race is shown in the table below:
With Juan, that came to finish a while after us, we almost set us up for the next one in the fall season, most probably Dublin.
One thing is sure, regardless of the training and pre-race conditions that we will try to control better, for sure we will again pay respect to the 42km and will be happy if we finish.