Last Sunday, February 20th, together with my friend Juan and my brother Jaime, I took part in the Sevilla marathon, with over 10,000 runners registered.
Following two years of not having taken part in any marathon due to restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the three of us subscribed to the marathon following our series of marathons abroad (to combine tourism with long distance running) that has taken us to run together in Roma, Athens, Rotterdam, New York, Sevilla, Madrid, Millau, Lisboa, Vienna, Krakow, Porto and now Sevilla, again.
To prepare for this marathon I followed the same 16-week training plan I had used in the past. I arrived to Sevilla with more mileage (629km) in the legs than in the case of the last few marathons. I trained quite well in November, December and the first week of January. Then, I caught Covid-19 and had to stop running for about 10 days. During the last two weeks of the plan, with workload and work-related travel, I found it difficult to train, but most of the training was already done. In those 16 weeks I averaged over 41km per week, completed 5 long runs (of over 21km, twice 23km, 27km and 30km) and a few sessions of series, though not enough of them to get a bit faster. The negative note was that in the last long run over 21km (just two weeks before the race) I finished very weak and with bad feelings for the race in terms of targeting a pace at or below 4 hours, but still with the confidence of being able to finish it even if the final time was uncertain.
The profile in Sevilla is rather flat. The organization changed the circuit in comparison to the previous times we had taken part in the race. It did not start and finish at the athletics stadium in La Cartuja, but close to the Parque Maria Luisa.
The temperature was fresh in the morning, the sky was clear and it would be a bit hot towards the end of the race, though the temperature did not exceed 19°C. My strategy was to start with a pace just below 6min per km, so that I could target a time slightly below or around 4h15′, with no pacers for that time.
Despite the 10,000 runners taking part in the race, we could easily run from the start at the targeted pace. For the first 16-17 kilometres we ran the three of us together, then my brother Jaime went ahead and Juan and I kept running together until about the half marathon, which we crossed in 2h04’59” net time (at a pace of 5’55” per km). Then, Juan softened his pace and stayed behind. I increased my pace in the second half, finding my brother again at around the km 28 and, after exchanging a few words about how we were doing at that moment, I went forward.
In the second half of the race I found myself quite at ease with the pace and averaged 5’41” per km to achieve a negative split; completing the second half of the marathon in just few seconds below 2 hours.
In the end, I clocked a net time of 4h04’56”, a time better than what I expected (~4h15′). Sevilla 2022 was my 22nd marathon completed, easy to say today but not so on April 30th 2000 when I completed my first one in Madrid.
With those 4h04’56”, I was again above the 4-hour mark and finished in the 5664th real place (or 5721st official place, in the bottom half, though the percentile is not yet clear as the results are temporary), while I overtook over 1,200 runners in the second half of the race. That time makes it my 8th worst marathon, though with a better time than the last two marathons and with a very positive finish, thus, I am already thinking on getting again under 4 hours in the next marathon, possibly next autumn.
This marathon left me some memorable moments:
- seeing my cousin Marileo and her kids while we passed in front of her house,
- running several kilometres with Juan and Jaime,
- the good feelings of the second half marathon.
The organization of the race was great. There were supply posts of water and isotonic drinks very often, thus we did not need to carry bottles at any moment. They provided a very handy and light cap to protect us from the sun. And there were plenty of music stations to cheer us up in the second half of the race.
The marathon in itself was also a success as the winner Asrar Abderehman set a new race record with 2:04:43 (making Sevilla the 13th world fastest marathon) and the Spanish Ayad Lamdassem set a new national record with 2:06:25.