Category Archives: Sports

Maratona de Lisboa 2017

On Sunday October 15th, together with my friend Juan and brother Jaime, I took part in the Maratona de Lisboa.

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Retrieving the bibs at the marathon expo.

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 end of June 2017. However, I suffered an otitis in July which took over a month to recover from and forced me more or less to stop. I took again the training plan in mid-August, when there were only 10 weeks left. I then had a clear objective: to get a level of fitness to finish comfortably the race, no more.

Lisboa_weekly_mileage

During the 16 weeks of the nominal training plan, I completed:

  • 520 km of running, thanks to a streak of 7 weeks between mid-August and end September in which I averaged 56 km per week.
  • 14 series / intervals training sessions, out of the 28 included in the plan, a mere 50% and not with the fastest paces of the last years.
  • 8 long runs of over 20 km, with 2 of them of 31 and 32 km, and another two days of 28 km split in morning and afternoon double session trainings.

Another good thing of the training season is sharing the progress of it with my brother Jaime and Juan, which helped in overcoming the inertia to stay quiet and to go out to train. See how Jaime explained his own experience in his blog here.

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At the departure area before the race.

The circuit of the marathon would take us from Cascais to the West for about 6 km and then back to Lisboa passing again through Cascais and Estoril, along the road that follows the coast line running through the Forte de São Bruno de Caxias or along the Torre de Belém to finish at the Praça do Comércio.

Circuit_profile

The circuit was rather flat except some ups and downs in the first half. The main inconvenient of the race would be the heat. Even if the organization advanced the race departure time in a good last minute decision, at 8 am the temperature was already above 17° C, which at the end must have been around 30° C.

Cascais_2

My race strategy was clear: to complete the marathon comfortably at a pace I was used to; for that purpose I would try to run a 3h45′ marathon, a time around which I had already finished 6 marathons. At the beginning I tried to catch the 3h45′ pacers but I found it impossible after having departed a bit behind them. I kept clocking kilometres at a higher pace than I should till km. 15 and still I passed the half marathon mark in 1’30” faster than the pace for 3h45′, however the pacers were running still faster, much faster than required for a 3h45′ though.

Pace_Lisboa

From the km 30 I felt that I was not able to run at the target pace (5’20” per km), and decided to soften the pace to a more comfortable one, around 5’40” which from 37 to 41 became more of a 6’00” with some more time lost in the water stations.

Lisboa_2

During the last kilometres I wondered whether I would still make a time below 3h50′, which I did not for a matter of seconds. But I still ran at a comfortable pace. This one was a marathon to run for the pleasure of running, now that I can. I had not particular objective. I crossed the finish line at the Praça do Comércio with a great feeling of accomplishment in 3h50’12”, my 17th marathon.

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With the 3h50’12”, I finished in the 1,289th place, that is about the upper 28% of the 4,670 finishers. See the diploma from the race below.

Diploma

I then waited for my brother Jaime and Juan to see them finishing and to cheer them for one last effort.

Finisher_duo

Finisher_trio

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San Silvestre 2017

Last December 31st again, we bid our farewell to the year 2017 by running with friends the San Silvestre Vallecana (in Madrid).

Long ago is the day since I first ran it in 1998, this year being my 17th participation in it. This time we were only four in the group: Nacho, Juan, my brother Jaime and me. We missed as well the good quality pictures we had taken in 2016 by Sara or the video prepared by Nacho.

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Nonetheless, it was a great experience, even if run at a very soft pace we had a few sprints, plenty of jokes and we crossed the finish line together. All in all, 1h07’23” net time according to the chip, the fastest time I have managed in the last four years.

Above all, it is always a pleasure to close the year in such a healthy way running along the colorful streets of Madrid.

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Corrida de Noël 2017

Since 1998 I have taken part for the most part of the years in the San Silvestre Vallecana in Madrid, in the evening of December 31st. That is a great tradition.

However, I have not yet shared in the blog another such tradition that I have been taking part in since 2015: running the  Corrida de Noël in Toulouse, organized the weekend before Christmas on a Sunday morning.

That is another great event, in which around a thousand runners take part in different distances races all dressed up in Santa Claus or Père Noël costumes.

Warm up

This time the circuit of the race took us from the Saint Sernin Basilica on two loops around Capitole, Alsace-Lorraine, Metz, Pont-Neuf, Saint Cyprien, Pont St Pierre and back to Saint Sernin, for a 7.2 km-long race which took me 34’54” to complete.

Circuit

running

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Marathon Sevilla 2017

On Sunday February 19th, together with my brother Jaime, I took part again in the marathon of Seville. This was the second time that I was in the departure line of that race, after a failed attempt in 2015 when I fell sick the day before the race (see a related post here). Ever since, I had the idea of coming back to get that one done.

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Picking the running bibs on the Friday before the race.

Early November 2016, right after the good finishing experience at the marathon in Dublin, I decided to rest for only 3 days and continue with a good training schedule, trying to get a shape to target a new personal best (PB) time at the marathon in Seville.

Mileage_Sevilla_2017

During the 16 weeks previous to the race (the standard training plan that I follow to prepare marathons since 2013 (1)), I completed:

  • 724 km of running, which is the second highest training volume I had done ever for a marathon (behind the 780 km I did prior to Athens marathon),
  • 21 series / intervals training sessions, out of the 28 included in the plan, a 75% (the second highest completion only behind the 25 sessions I did for Athens marathon). Most of those sessions (18) were completed at the best or second best pace I ever managed in those particular training sessions. Thus, I was going relatively fast.
  • however, I did not complete any long run of 3 hours. I did complete some of 2h30′, once in a split training session going up to 30 km, but that was not up to what is required by the plan. In previous seasons, I had completed more and longer long runs. This was the weakest point of my training this time towards achieving a PB.

Another good thing of the training season is that sharing the progress of it with my brother Jaime, I managed to convince him to join me in running the marathon, which he did, even if the difference in training volume made us decide that we would run on our own during the race itself. See a post with his experience in his blog here.

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Before the race at the stadium.

The circuit of the marathon was the same than in 2015. It started from the stadium at La Cartuja, it then went to Triana and Los Remedios, crossed the river and went the bulk of it around the historic centre of the city, passing by Parque Maria Luisa, Plaza de España, the Cathedral, La Alameda, etc., from km. 33 to 38.

Recorrido_2017

The race strategy was rather clear: I would try to run from the beginning at a pace slightly below 5 minutes per kilometre in order to finish below 3h30′. There was a pacer for that time, but I feared that I wouldn’t be able to make contact with him at the departure, as it had been the case in 2015 and was the case this year.

I felt rather well from the beginning, thus, if anything I had to pace myself a bit slower. It was a cloudy and fresh day, conditions which I prefer for long races. However, being a bit cold obliged me to make a technical stop after the 15th km to go to the restroom. There, I lost almost 2 minutes, and passed from being about 40-50 seconds below the target pace to being about 1’20” above. I ran the numbers in my head, stayed cool and decided not to rush but to recover those seconds slowly. I thus continued with the target pace well enough until km. 27.

0006 (2)I then felt that it was becoming difficult to keep below 5 min per km. I opted for relaxing the pace just a few seconds for a couple of kilometres to see how the body was responding. From km 27 to 33 I was then shifting from 5 to about 5’05”-15″. Since I was not recovering the 2 minutes lost at km 15, I then considered shifting from plan A (below 3h30′) to plan B, a new PB (running below 3h34’50”).

A few minutes later, running at Avenida de la Palmera, I felt a bit stiffer, and saw that I would need to soften a bit more the pace, towards 5’30” per km and slower. I then ran the numbers again and forgot about plan B and thought of a plan C, i.e., achieving a new second best time in the distance: anything better than the 3h42’25” clocked in Dublin. I saw that this plan C would be quite doable as I had at that point a buffer of about 7-8 minutes to be consumed in the following 9 kilometres, so I let myself go.

Pace_Sevilla_2017

 

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My running during the last 3-4 kilometres was a disaster. Alternating some stretches of walking with sprinting, for average paces between 5’40” and 6’05”. At every kilometre that my watch was marking I ran the numbers again and saw that I would just make it, that new second best time, so I kept being relaxed. In the end I finished in 3h41’39”, about 40 seconds better than my previous 2nd best.

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Last sprint.

In the table below you can see a comparison of partial times of some of the last marathons I ran in the last years.

Marathon_comparison

You can see how in Seville I started rather fast, and was able to keep that pace until km 25. At the 30th I was slower than in Rotterdam, if only due to the stop at the km 15. If in Dublin I managed a comfortable negative split by running a slow first half, this time the pacing was the contrary: I ended with a much worse feeling even if clocking a slightly better time. But I had to try it, to see if a achieved a new PB. I have no regrets with having started fast and not having been able to keep the pace. I will keep trying it whenever I have completed a moderately good training plan and the race is rather flat and fast.

With the 3h41’39”, I finished in the 4,475th place, that is about the upper 44% of the 10,144 finishers. See the diploma from the race below.

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I then waited for my brother Jaime to see him finishing and enjoy together the feeling of accomplishment. Two years before I had to quit. This time, both of us were meeting at the finish line.

This was my 16th marathon completed. Possibly not the last one.

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(1) I have been using this plan to prepare for 9 marathons already. As all training sessions are recorded and loaded into an online tool of Garmin, this allows the comparison of the volume between different training seasons, or the comparison of specific training sessions in a given day / week from training periods for different marathons.

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San Silvestre 2016

solohayunaLast December 31st again, we bid our farewell to the year 2016 by running with friends the San Silvestre Vallecana. This is a tradition that is spreading throughout several cities and villages and that seems to be the origin of last year’s race’s motto: “Vallecana solo hay una” (from Vallecas there is only one).

Between injuries, illnesses, holidays away, etc., of the members that have been part of our group in the past, this year has been among the ones in which the group was less packed; we ran 4 of us together: Jaime, Nacho, Pablo (who became father of his second child just a few weeks before!) and me. In addition, we saw Juan at the departure (though he ran with other two colleagues) and we failed to meet Manuel.

As in 2012, when Nacho could not run, the fact that Sara could not join us running meant that she could came to the departure to take a few pictures (thanks!), much better than the ones we normally take with our mobile phones… see below.

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This year I subscribed again, after more than a decade of not doing so. And as usual, we ran from behind the pack and did not put a special effort in running at a moderate pace, thus we ended up the jog in 1h09’07”. See here the official time plus my Garmin recording.

This was the 18th San Silvestre in a row for Jaime, a remarkable achievement. I do not follow the count for Nacho or Pablo, but they both must have run between 8-10. From my side, this was the 16th one, after I ran it in 1998 for the first time.

On top of that, Nacho and I ran with a GoPro camera in order to film different scenes from the race. See below the video compiled by Nacho.

It was a pleasure to run through the centre of Madrid with friends again.

finish

Note: see the difference of this last selfie at the end with the pictures at the beginning…

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Chapecoense, Manchester United and Grande Torino

chapecoenseLast November 28th the LaMia flight 2933 crashed in Colombia killing 71 of the 77 people on board. Many of those victims (19) were players of the Brazilian club Associação Chapecoense de Futebol which headed towards Medellin to play the first leg of the final of the 2016 Copa Sudamericana against the Colombian team  Atlético Nacional.

Shortly after the crash Atlético Nacional expressed their wish that the South American football association, CONMEBOL, declared the club Chapecoense as winner of the competition. That was a very honorable request, fully deserving the “premio del Centenario Conmebol al Fair Play” (Conmebol Centenary prize for Fair Play) as announced in a press release of Conmebol on December 5th.

In that same press release, Conmebol announced that they were declaring Chapecoense as winners of the Copa Sudamericana as had been requested.

A few days before I had written a series of tweets expressing my opinion on the subject, which is: I think that decision is a mistake, it is the wrong homage to pay to Chapecoense. But then I am not the one deciding on the matter.

Manchester United. Munich disaster.

The example I used support my view is that of Manchester United, which suffered a similar tragedy in 1958 in Munich, when it was coming from Belgrade from having qualified to the semifinals of the 3rd edition of the European Cup. That accident took place in February 1958 and it cost the lives of 8 players (one of them at the hospital days later due to the injuries suffered in the crash) and many members of the staff. The other half of the team onboard (9 players plus staff) survived the crash (23 fatal victims out of 44 onboard).

The crash caught Manchester in the middle of the season and they managed to rebuild the club with the youth team plus some players signed at the last months of the competition. Manchester had won the First Division in 1957 and in 1958 they were trying to win the 3rd consecutive title. At the time of the accident they were qualified second to Wolverhampton, 6 points behind with 14 games to go. After the crash the only won 1 match, finishing 9th in a league of 22.

Three months after the accident they played the FA Cup final against Bolton Wanderers, which they lost 2-0. A few days later they played the semi finals of the European Cup against Milan. They won the first leg but were defeated after losing 4-0 in San Siro.

UEFA invited the club Manchester United to play the following edition of the European Cup. A similar recognition to that of Conmebol, though of a lesser degree (1). The English Football Association, the FA, however, denied Manchester United to accept that invitation on the basis that they had not qualified for the competition. It is in this line of thought that my opinion on the subject goes. 82On the one hand we have the recognition, the homage, tribute and compassion for the victims, on the other is the sport itself, the competition and the rules of the game.

Life found its way to pay homage to those players years later. A rebuilt Manchester, around the figures of Bobby Charlton and Mutt Busby (both survivors of the accident) would go to win the European Cup in 1968, ten years after the crash.

Il Grande Torino.

Unfortunately we have yet another similar case in that of the Torino of the 40s. That club was known as the Grande Torino due to the superb game they played and the successes they collected. They won the league in the ’43, ’46, ’47 and ’48. In that last season they won the league reaching 65 points with a lead of 16 over the second, with goal difference of plus 92 (125 goals scored in 40 games).

grande_torino_1949Before the crash, on May 4th 1949, Torino led the league with a difference of 4 points over the second, Internazionale, against whom they had just played for a 0-0 in Milan. They were on the way of winning its 4th consecutive title. All those 31 aboard the aircraft which crashed against the Basilica of Superga died.

A couple of days after the crash, Torino were declared champions of the 1948-49 league, with still 4 games to go. The league did not stop. The last 4 games were played, with Torino putting up the reserve team. At the end they had a lead of 5 points over the second, Internazionale. I haven’t found the chronology of those last 4 games of Torino and Inter, but I guess that once the league result had already been decided, those matches may have not been truly competitive.

Conclusion.

In all these three cases, the federation organizing the championship, Conmebol, UEFA and the Italian Federation, had a recognition action in the sense of interfering in the competition, in two cases deciding the champion of the competition (2).

Only the English FA decided against the accepting of one such decision in the sense of preserving results has having occurred in the fields.

(1) The accident of the Chapecoense took place just prior to the final. The accident of Manchester United after the semifinal, with three other teams in the competition and two months until the next match was to be played.

(2) In the case of Conmebol, they could have declared winners Atletico Nacional but invite Chapecoense to play next year edition of the competition, as did UEFA with Manchester United.

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Dublin marathon (2016)

Last Sunday October 30th, at the time that this post is being published, together with my friend Serna, I was in the departure line of the Dublin marathon, the “Friendly marathon” according to one of their lines, the 4th largest marathon in Europe with about 19,000 people registered, almost 17,000 finishers.

I subscribed to the marathon last July but I had it in mind sometime before, right after having completed the marathon in Albi, which didn’t go very well. This time I tried to follow more closely the training plan and I did it. If I arrived to Albi with just 530 km of training in the legs, I arrived to Dublin with above 660 km (in the previous 16 weeks), still a bit short but somewhat better. I had also managed more long runs and intervals sessions, even if I wasn’t doing them as fast as in previous years.

weekly-mileage

But not everything in the training period of 16 weeks had been rosy. Since late 2011 I use some insoles to compensate for a slight difference in the length of the legs, which normally doesn’t bother me, but when you’re clocking nearly 2,000 km a year hitting the streets you start to notice it. I hadn’t got new insoles since 4 years ago and the ones I used were rather worn out. I knew I had to change them but I kept postponing it, until I ran the Toulouse half marathon on September 18th, after which I simply couldn’t walk for two days. Visits to the doctor, podiatrist (x2), the physiotherapist (x6), plenty of pain killers, medicines, etc., and I managed to continue the training after a 10-day break (week 11-12 of the plan).

Having gone through that I was rather happy with just being able to be at the departure line of the marathon and running it without major problems, knowing that, despite of the injure, I had trained well enough.

dublin-route

At first sight, the route of the race didn’t seem very appealing. It gave the impression that instead of taking the runners through the city centre, we were taken far away around the outskirts. Despite that, the atmosphere during most of the race was great, overwhelming. There were plenty of Dubliners almost in every street, crowds cheering at the runners, “Keep going!”.

The organization of the race was superb. From the management of the departure, with minimum waiting time, plenty of facilities, good spacing between starting waves so running was possible from the beginning, to supplies during the race, and a nice round medal at the end, or goodies that included a finisher t’shirt, a frontal lamp or a reflective running vest.

There were plenty of pacers. We decided to start with those of 3h50′ and see for how long we could keep up with them. The truth is that after about 7 km we took some metres of advantage and we kept running comfortably a bit faster for many kilometres. Some time after the half marathon my friend, who hadn’t managed to complete a moderate weekly mileage along the training season, dropped and I kept going forward. I was telling to myself to go on one more kilometre at pace (“run the kilometre you’re in“) until the moment when I would face the wall and then see how I could manage it. The fact is that I never faced it (“trust the training“).

dublin-pace

This marathon has been the first one in which I have managed to complete what is called a “negative split”, that is running the second half marathon faster than the first one. In my case, I completed the 1st half in 1h53’34” (not very fast, doubling for a 3h47 marathon) and the second half in 1h48’50” (doubling for a 3h37′). Every segment of 10k I did it faster than the previous one. This is something that you’re not fully aware while running, but you notice it. You push forward and the legs respond well. You say, let’s go for the 33rd km and see, for the 34th, 35th, 36th, 37th… at some point you think I am there, I’m not going to slow down at all.

marathon-comparison

It has not been the fastest marathon I have completed (that was in Rotterdam 2014, this one in Dublin has been my second fastest), as I started more conservatively, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

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