On Sunday April 22th, together with my friend Juan and brother Jaime, I took part in the Vienna City Marathon.
Since some years ago, I always follow the same 16-week training plan to prepare for the marathons. That lead to a start of the plan at the beinning of January. However, I got the flu at the end of January and that got me for a week in bed. It continued with an otitis and then skiing holidays at the end of February. It was not until the beginning of March that I managed to clock some serious training for some weeks in a row. By then the objective had come to get a level of fitness to finish comfortably the race, no more. In the two half marathons I did in the month and half before the race I could already see that my fitness level was the worst in years…
During the 16 weeks of the nominal training plan, I completed:
- 447 km of running, thanks to a streak of 5 weeks from March in which I averaged 58 km per week.
- 13 series / intervals training sessions, out of the 28 included in the plan, and many of those I did were not the ones included in the plan but softer sessions trying to catch up.
- 4 long runs of over 20 km, 2 half marathons and one session of 28 km plus one of 31 km.
The circuit of the marathon would take us from the International Centre to the Prater, the parks by the Danube river, and then to the city centre to make another excursion through the outskirts of the city, this time to the Schönbrunn Palace and back to centre, then back to the park by the river and back again to the centre to finish by the Rathaus. The organization wanted to show off a bit of the centre and mix it with classical music being played at some points, to match their motto “Theatre of emotions“.
The circuit was flat. The only inconvenient of the race was the heat of the day. That Sunday several marathons took place in Europe (Madrid, London…). In all of them the main issue was the heat. We had almost 19° C when I started, it went up to 27° C or more by the end. The organization did not spare the provision of water but when the heat hits like that you need to focus on not getting suffocated and run at a softer pace.
My race strategy was clear: to complete the marathon comfortably at a pace slightly slower than the one I am used to; for that purpose I would try to run a 3h45′ marathon for while to fall back at the second half of the race targeting a 3h55′ or 4h marathon. I quickly found that it would be hard to be under 4 hours. Just before the half marathon point I had to make technical stop which cost me a few minutes. Since then I ran at about 5’45” per km for a few more kilometres.
In my mind I started figuring that I could encounter my brother Jaime, since he had started about 15 minutes before from a different block and was shorter of training. And so it happened. At about the km 30 I saw him at a cross road and I caught him about 5 minutes later. He told me to continue ahead as he was suffering and struggling with the pace (see here his post about the race). I told him that by then I would no longer be under 4 hours but rather 4h06′, 4h16′ or 4h26′, so I’d rather stay with him and finish another marathon together as we had done in Madrid in 2015 or in Millau the same year.
From then on we ran at about 7’15” per km till the end. They were about 11 kilometres of keeping a soft but steady pace under the sun, drinking at every supplies post, chasing the few shades along the circuit and getting prepared for the finish line.
In the end, I clocked a net time of 4h23’08”. It was my 18th marathon completed. It is great feeling of accomplishment to finish a race in such conditions even if with a discrete time, and always happy to still be able to complete them, even more together with my brother and friends.
With the 4h23’08”, my worst marathon since 2001, I finished in the 3236th place, out of 5434 finishers, in 40% percentile, down in the lower half.
At the finish line we took some pictures with Jaime and with our friend Juan and Balint, a Hungarian fellow that Juan had met in a previous marathon in Madrid.