“Mucha mili…” or in sort of an english translation “it´s the mileage…”. Mileage, experience, you name it…and above all, proper weather conditions.
These were the main elements that contributed to the good sensations finishing the Dublin Marathon 2018 on October 28th. Talking numbers, I clocked officially 4h28’39”, which is good 10min faster than the spring race in Vienna (post here). Still, that is one hour slower than my best time ever, precisely some 10 years ago in my debut in the distance in Munich 2008 (link).
The good sensations came somehow as a surprise because the prospects for the race were not good. Again a bumpy summer with workload peaks interfered in the training with the result of overweight as not seen in many participations before, and with the three week holiday trip to China just before the race.
With the recent painful experience of Vienna, I intended to train better through the challenging sevillian summer. I know I would need to fight the high temperatures (above 35ºC at 11PM for entire weeks…) in the training sessions, but that compounded with the increased workload in my job and subsequent depletion of my energy reserves. The result of it: 48km run in August, 118km in September, and mere 58km in October, almost all of them during the holidays in China! I had completed that mileage alone in one month preparing for Lisboa the year before. Not worthy to speak of any series training, or long runs on weekends, none of which I was able to complete due to excesive heat, lack of fountains and a not proper preparation.
I was preparing my mind for a participation similar to that of Paris Marathon in 2012, where after an injury and not having trained in the month ahead of the marathon, I traveled to the city not sure even to run. This time, I had at least the incentive to travel, apart than running along wiht brother Javier, to share time with his family, Luca and kids.
Arrived at Dublin, we were welcomed by low temperatures, consistently below 10ºC. At least we would not suffer from heat as in Vienna.
With low expectations and a couple of layers of clothes for the first kilometers, I set a modest pace at around 5’50″/km. Soon I was caught by the 4h10′ pacers, who were speeding up at the beginning and I decided to join them, running comfortably in the range of 5’45” to 6’/km, and reach the half marathon. Then I expected to lose some pace and probably be caught by the 4h20′ pacers.
That first half, without time pressure has been on of the best (not in terms of speed, of course) I remember, enjoying the cheerful Dublin crowds and the nice scenery of the city. I reminded me the first marathon loop of the Millau 100km.
As expected, right after the half marathon milestone, the pacers left me, a slight increase in pace in a light uphill and I lost them. From km22 and for the next 10km I would be in the range of 6’20” to 6’35″/km, which would put me in the final 10km. A manageable distance, when you have already 13 marathon races behind, even if the famous “Wall” lies ahead. I slowed a bit the pace, made use of the power gels, installed myself in the range of 6’50” to 7’/km, cheering kids, enjoying music and I prepared for a final effort of 4 to 5km.
When I crossed the 40km milestone at 4h10′, I realized that I would make it under 4h30′ even if I needed to dramatically lower the pace due to pain or other crisis. It was not the case, and with a very different mood as in Vienna, I let my feeling of accomplishment out with an expressive face:
I enjoyed the cheers of the volunteers and race staff and went to the baggage claim where I would meet Javier. He as well had had great sensations, going back under 4h, and improving his performance compared to Vienna.
As I said at the beginning, a combination of weather and experience helped to completely turn the sensations of Vienna in the spring. To be fair, the difference was made by the cold temperatures and absence of sun. Having trained less and with a race course clearly more challenging than the austrian capital, the difference in temperature made it all for the better time record. Experience helped to set a modest pace in the first half, and regulate in the second, but this has been a quite clear demonstration of how my performance suffers with heat and sun.
For the next marathon race, I will try to recover the levels of training of previous races and years, but I will know that if cold weather is present, I will probably have the odds on my side to come back under 4h.
Another final comment is that with this race I recovered, last minute and at Javi´s urging, the tradition of tweeting a funny motive ahead of the race. Last original one had been for Millau in 2015, and I reused for Sevilla 2017 the same of 2015. Lisboa and Vienna went without any picture.
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