Tag Archives: marathon

Maratona do Porto 2019

Last Sunday, November 3rd, together with my friends Juan, Manuel and my brother Jaime, I took part in the Porto marathon, with nearly 4,000 runners registered.

Porto_Expo

The four 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 RomaAthens, RotterdamSevillaMadrid, Millau, LisboaViennaKrakow and now Porto.

As with the previous marathons in the past two years, I arrived to Porto short of training, with just 427 km in the legs (in the previous 16 weeks), a new minimum and some 30 km less than for Krakow and 20 less than for Vienna, a solid between 200 and 300 km less than when I have closely followed the training plans in the past years. As you can see below, I found myself at 6 weeks before the race without having consistently trained for two weeks in a row and about 10-12 kg overweight, and then I put myself to the business of mitigating the damage. The same story than for the previous two marathons.

Weekly_mileage_Porto

In the those last weeks of the plan I averaged 50 km per week, but I only did a couple of long runs while running some trail races (of 24 and 26 km) and did only complete 2 series sessions the week before the marathon. Meanwhile, I lost some 4 kg (but still at 89 kg) and arrived with the confidence of being able to finish it even if the final time was uncertain.

Recorrido

The profile was nearly flat with a few short climbs. The race started at a park close to Matosinhos village and then goes towards Porto by the road following the coast with great views of the waves breaking at the shore. Once in Porto the marathon goes back and forth on both sides of the river, to later come back to the same park. Before the race I thought I would not like the passing many times over the same places but it helped to mentally break the race into pieces.

Pre_race

The temperature was fresh, the sky was mostly covered and it could rain but did it only for a few minutes. My strategy was to start with the 4h15′ pacers until I could not keep up with them, hoping to come with them until the km 30 and then see.

With just 4,000 runners taking part in the race, we could easily run after the first kilometre and I quickly caught the pacers. Then, I started running a few metres in front of them and a few seconds faster than the target pace until around the km 25. I continued at about the target pace until the km 32, when the pacers overtook me. I then continued to follow a softer pace but found myself quite comfortable till the end, with a couple of kilometres taking longer due to stopping some seconds at the water and food supply posts.

 

Pace_Porto_2019

In the end, I clocked a net time of 4h17’57”, a time around of what I expected (~3′ worse than 4h15′) in view of the lack of training and overweight. It was my 21st marathon completed, easy to say today but not so on April 30th 2000 when I completed my first one in Madrid.

Porto_Medal

With the 4h17’57”, I was again above the 4-hour mark, and finished in the 2442nd place of the 3804 finishers, that is in the percentile 36% (bottom half). That time makes it my 4th worst marathon, after 2 of the first 3 that I did almost 20 years ago and that of Vienna a year ago.

Times_comparison_Porto

This marathon left me some memorable moments:

  • as the circuit has runners going in different directions in both sides of the road for most of the time, I could see the winner, my brother a couple of times, my friends Juan and Manuel, the former world champion Marti Fiz.
  • just after the km 32 the race enters into the tunnel “da Ribeira” for around 150m in which the organization had placed several screens and speakers playing the theme from Vangelis for the film “Chariots of fire”. That was overwhelming.

After crossing the finish line, I stayed in the park cheering fellow runners as they approached the last metres of their race while I waited for Juan and my brother.

Post_race

Medals

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Krakow marathon (2019)

Last Sunday, April 28th, together with my friend Juan and my brother Jaime, I took part in the Krakow marathon, with above 6,300 runners registered.

Krakow_running_bib

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 Athens, Sevilla, Madrid, LisboaVienna and now Krakow.

As with the previous two marathons in 2018, in Vienna and Dublin, I arrived to Krakow short of training, with just above 458 km in the legs (in the previous 16 weeks), some 15 km less than for Dublin and 10 more than for Vienna, but between 200 and 300 km less than when I have closely followed the training plans in the past years. As you can see below, I found myself at the end of the 8th week of the plan (beginning of March, just after the skiing break) without having trained much and with 8 weeks to go and about 10-12 kg overweight, and then I put myself to the business. The same story than for the previous two marathons.

Krakow_2019_mileage

In the 8 weeks prior to the marathon week I averaged 49 km per week, but I only did a couple of long runs (of 25 and 27 km) and didn’t complete series sessions as after the increase of volume in the 10th week I started having pain in the hip, so I kept up the volume, softened the pace and forgot about the series. In the last 3 weeks, however, I did not keep up with the good volume of the previous ones. Meanwhile, I lost some 6 kg and arrived with the confidence of being able to finish it even if the final time was uncertain.

Weight_loss_Krakow

The profile was nearly flat with a few short climbs. The temperature was fresh (10 degrees Celsius at the departure time), the sky was covered and it rained from the beginning to the end. My strategy was to start with the 4-hour pacers until I could not keep up with them, hoping to come with them until the km 30 and then see. Juan started the race with me and we ran together for about 14 km ahead of the pacers.

Krakow_6

With less than 6,000 runners taking part in the race (a few hundreds of those registered didn’t start), we could easily run from the beginning and in fact we did the first couple of kilometres a bit faster than intended so we softened the pace. Since then we ran more or less at the target pace (5’41” per km), at the km 14 Juan dropped a bit backwards as he had announced much earlier, and at the km 26 I was caught by the first of the 4-hour pacers, the last of which overtook me at the km 29. I tried not to lose much distance with them but after the km 32 I was feeling the legs much stiffer and I started to soften the pace with only 10 km to go and the only mental objective of finishing the race.

Krakow_2019_pace

In the end, I clocked a net time of 4h11’17”, a time around of what I expected (5-10′ worse than 4 hours) in view of the lack of training and the rain; it was a tough day of running (a bit better than the feelings in Vienna though). It was my 20th marathon completed, easy to say today but not so on April 30th 2000 when I completed my first one in Madrid.

Krakow_2019_Garmin

Krakow_medal

With the 4h11’17”, I was again above the 4-hour mark, and finished in the 3204th place of the 5184 finishers (see the diploma below), that is in the percentile 38% (bottom half). That time makes it my 4th worst marathon, after 2 of the first 3 that I did almost 20 years ago and that of Vienna a year ago.

Krakow_2019_percentile

Krakow_diploma.PNG

Times_comparison_krakow

After crossing the finish line, I crossed the market square of Krakow, entered the hotel, took a picture with the finisher medal (above), took a shower and waited for Jaime and Juan to share the experiences of each other and start thinking of the next marathon.

 

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Dublin marathon (2018)

Last Sunday, October 28th, together with my brother Jaime (see here his post about it), I took part for a second time in the Dublin marathon, the “Friendly marathon” according to one of their lines, the 4th largest marathon in Europe with about 18,000 people registered, above 16,000 finishers.

Dublin_0

Jaime and I subscribed to the marathon after the good experience I had in Dublin two years ago (see here my post about it), when I ran it with Serna. After the bad experience in Vienna last spring (see here) I wanted to have better prepared this marathon, but I did not. I arrived to Dublin with just above 470 km in the legs (in the previous 16 weeks), some 70 km more than for Vienna but between 200 and 300 km less than when I have closely followed the training plans in the past years. As you can see below, I found myself at the end of August or the beginning of the 8th week of the plan without having trained much and with 9 weeks to go and about 10-12 kg overweight, and then I put myself to the business.

Dublin_2018_mileage

In the 8 weeks prior to the marathon week I averaged 50 km per week, but I missed many long runs on weekends and wasn’t able to complete good series sessions until the last 3-4 weeks. In any case, I could complete some trails, lose some 6 kg and arrive with the confidence of being able to finish it even if the final time was uncertain.

Weight_loss_Dublin

The circuit of the marathon was the same as in previous years.

dublin-route

From experience, I knew that the profile was not flat with a few climbs but that the crowd, with plenty of Dubliners cheering at the runners, and the cold weather (5 degrees Celsius at the departure time) would help in keeping us running at pace. My strategy was to start with Jaime from his box and run together with the 4-hour pacers until I could not keep up with them, hoping to come with them until the km 30 and then see.

Due to the big crowd of runners at the start of the race, it took me some 3 kilometres to get to the pacers, with whom I lost contact after the km 6 due to a short technical stop, but I quickly recovered the gap. I skipped taking a bottle of water at the supply station around km 10, and got to some distance ahead of the pacers. I then doubted what to do, whether to wait for them (to actually run between them) or keep going ahead pacing myself. As in 2016, I took the second option and I went ahead, running consistently a bit faster than the target pace for a 4-hour marathon (5’41” per km) until the km 33, and only then, at km 34, I felt that it was a bit harder to sustain that pace so I softened a bit, not much, and I kept some strength to run a faster last 1.5 km to enjoy the last crowded streets.

Dublin_2018_pace

In the end, I clocked a net time of 3h55’15”, better than expected and with great feelings while running all along the race, as it was the case in 2016. It was my 19th marathon completed, easy to say today but not so on April 30th 2000 when I completed my first one in Madrid.

Dublin_2

With the 3h55’15”, I was again below the 4-hour mark, and finished in the 7181st place of 16236 finishers (see the diploma below), that is in the top 44%, just in the upper half. That time makes it my 10th best marathon, just in the median of the 19 I have completed.

Dublin_2018_certificate

Times_comparison

At the finish line, I changed clothes and waited for Jaime to take a picture with him and share the experiences of each other before going to our hotel. It may not have been the last time to run in Dublin.

Dublin_3

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Vienna City marathon 2018

On Sunday April 22th, together with my friend Juan and brother Jaime, I took part in the Vienna City Marathon.

Riesenrad

At the Wiener Riesenrad in the Prater amusement park.

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…

Vienna_mileage

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.

Circuit

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.

Vienna_3

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.

Pace_Vienna

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.

Vienna_5

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.

Vienna_4

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.

Finish

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.

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Maratona de Lisboa 2017

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

marathon_expo

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.

IMG_20171015_074548374

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.

IMG_20171015_120007621_BURST000_COVER

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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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.

IMG_20170217_140141859

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.

IMG_20170219_075714052

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

 

0002

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.

0007

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.

diploma-dorsal-6973

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.

IMG_20170219_133349026

 

(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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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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