Tag Archives: marathon

Toulouse marathon (2015)

Last October 25th, I ran the Toulouse marathon. It was the second time I completed this race; the first one being in 2011, then the first marathon I had run since 2001.

This year, like in 2011, I ran the Toulouse marathon after having run the 100 km of Millau one month before. In fact, I only decided to take part in it 2 months before the race. The main driver: within the programme I am working on in Airbus since July (A330neo), the marathon of Toulouse had been taken as a big collective well-being activity. Over 80 people from different teams ran the race; which can be completed in relays (teams of 4 runners where each one runs about 10km) (1) and individually.

At the end of August, running about 50 kilometres per week as training for Millau, even if not doing tempo and series training sessions, I decided that I could fairly run the Toulouse marathon after Millau, if I sustained no major injuries and did not care much about the time. So I subscribed.

The day before the marathon we had a photo session, distribution of A330neo t-shirts especially made for the occasion and the traditional pasta party on the eve of marathons. This one was a somewhat elegant dinner, consisting of buffet with different salad, pasta and desert options, organized at the top floor of the Mediatheque in Toulouse, with live performance of a flamenco group.

The race itself went rather well. In the weeks beforehand, I had been considering the starting pace: whether to go for a 5’20” per km or faster. The first pace leads to a marathon of about 3h45′ (a time around which I had already completed some and was comfortable with). After some testing training sessions I decided to be conservative and go with the 3h45′ pacers as long as I could keep up with them.

… and so I did until the kilometre 35. It was therefore a rather pleasant race. Always keeping myself to the rhythm set by the pacers, enjoying the route along the far North neighbourhoods of Toulouse, the music bands, etc. Entering back to the centre of the city, at about the km 33 I started to feel that the pace took more effort to keep and at the km 35 I decided to let go, and run the last 7 km, through the centre (the boulevards, the Jardin de plants, Alsace – Lorraine…) at a more comfortable pace. I estimated that in those last 7 kilometres I would not lose much more than a couple of minutes, that would not make any difference (it wouldn’t anyway be my best time nor the second in the distance).

Pace followed during the race.

Pace followed during the race.

In the end I completed the marathon in 3h47’13”, my fifth best time, the 4th time I finished in the time bracket between 3h44’30” and 3h47’13”. Thirteenth marathon completed (2).

Finisher diplome.

Finisher diploma.

Find below pictures of myself and of the A330neo team:
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(1) I took that option of running the marathon in relay in the year 2013 as a preparation towards Athens marathon.

(2) See all the others in the section Races from the blog.

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Madrid Marathon (MAPOMA) 2015

“Happiness only real when shared”, Christopher McCandless (1)

On April 26 (2015) I completed my 12th marathon (2) by running the Marathon of Madrid, 15 years after having completed the first in the same place. My friend Jose and my brother Jaime completed there their 1oth marathon.

We have run together several marathons: Paris, Berlin, Rome, Athens, Rotterdam, New York, Sevilla… the fact is that we have not run any of those together from the start to the end (3). For these reasons we had decided in the previous days that this time, we would run it together from the beginning to the end, no matter what happened.

After the bad experience in Sevilla, I had found it difficult to find the motivation to train. However, a couple of weeks after Sevilla, I beat my personal best in half marathon and managed to complete a good mileage prior to Madrid. I thus felt that I arrived to Madrid in a good shape. On the other hand, Madrid hasn’t got the best profile to attempt a personal best.

Madrid marathon profile.

Madrid marathon profile.

Thus, we decided to take it rather easy. Our quick strategy was something like: run at about 5’20″/km the first climb (7km) then run 5′ till the half marathon, close to that pace till the entrance of the Casa de Campo (~26km), take it easy there, exit it and do the final 6km climb as we can… thinking we could finish in about 3h45′ doing that.

Madrid marathon route.

Madrid marathon route.

… and that is what we did. Give or take some seconds to the paces, and softening a bit more in the second half. Our final net time was about 4h02′, but you would have to discount about 9′ to have the time we were actually running as we had a rather long pit stop at km. 13. Discount those minutes and we would have been at some 3h53′, just a few minutes above the target.

Time splits.

Time splits.

My brother Jaime wrote a very detailed post here about how the race developed. I suggest you to read it.

The marathon in Madrid normally is rather hard. It was a pleasant experience this time. Running together with friends. Not being mentally pressured by the time. Running at home; knowing what would be after almost every turn, how long and how hard the climbs would be, where one could relax the legs… The rain, heavy rain at several moments, made it only better. More epic in a way. Helping each other in the last kilometres, cheering my fellow runners. And finally crossing the finish line, sprinting in the Retiro park where I have trained so often with Jaime. As he said to end his blog post,

It was an honour to run with you

(1) In a previous post, “Running in the Incles’ valley“, I described the joy of running alone in the mountains. I then compared it with what the experiences of Christopher McCandless, the man about whom the story of the movie “Into the wild” is based. I quote here one of his latest sentences.

(2) Not counting Millau in 2011 (100km) nor Sevilla 2015 (not completed).

(3) I completed Millau together with Jose in 2011, and I have completed several San Silvestre with Jaime.

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Maratón Popular de Madrid (2000)

Hace 5 años escribí unas lineas describiendo mi experiencia cuando en el año 2000 corrí mi primera maratón, en Madrid, la Maratón Popular de Madrid (MAPOMA).

El 30 de abril de 2000, tras varias experiencias corriendo por las calles de Madrid: olor a réflex un domingo por la mañana frente a la fuente de Neptuno, empezar a correr sin saber hasta donde iba a llegar, escuchar Carros de Fuego sonando desde un balcón de la calle Fuencarral, cruzar bajo el arco hinchable de la Puerta del Sol, los primeros dolores musculares en la Ciudad Universitaria, el saltarse las lágrimas con las caceroladas de los vecinos en la calle de la ribera del Manzanares, la soledad del lateral de la M-30, respirar el aire del pulmón de Madrid, ver el Paseo de los Pontones como una pared vertical desde el Puente de San Isidro, el Paseo del Prado, los últimos metros empedrados… mi primera maratón, MAPOMA (1). De nuevo por tus calles, Madrid.

A aquella carrera me inscribí porque unas semanas había visto por televisión la maratón de Londres (11 de abril) y pensé que no podría perderme una experiencia similar. Aparte de las líneas que he copiado arriba, de aquella experiencia tengo muchos más recuerdos bien grabados: un corredor que, viendo mi cara de sufrimiento, me paró en torno al kilómetro 37 para darme un pequeño masaje en las piernas; los paracaidistas de la BRIPAC descendiendo en la Castellana antes del comienzo de la carrera…

Hoy, 15 años después, de nuevo participaré en dicha carrera. Esta será mi cuarta maratón en la ciudad. Y tras una parada de 2002 a 2010, sera la 14a vez que tome la salida en una maratón.

El recorrido es parecido, aunque a lo largo de los años ha cambiado un poco. La dureza será la misma. Por otro lado, yo llego ahora mucho más entrenado que entonces, cuando apenas si preparaba la carrera y basaba todo en la creencia de que siendo joven y deportista podría acabar la carrera. Y de hecho la acaba, pero con mucho más sufrimiento y tardando más de una hora más que hoy en día.

Esta vez de nuevo correré con mi hermano Jaime y mis amigos Jose y Juan. Esperemos que por la tarde solo tengamos motivos para celebrar.

(1) Maratón Popular de Madrid (MAPOMA), 30 abril 2000, 42.2km, tiempo oficial 5:00:36; tiempo neto 4:59:23. [6083/6552, 93%]

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Marathon Sevilla 2015

“A marathon always offers you the opportunity to do something epic”, Jaime Irastorza (my brother)

After several dozens of races completed in the last years, including 11 marathons and an ultra, on February 22, a race hunted me down. In the last Seville marathon I DNF. I did not finish.

I wrote a post which was published on the morning of the race. In it I explained that I arrived to that marathon in my best shape so far. However, for me the race took place not on the Sunday 22nd February but on Saturday 21st.

I had put much illusion into the event: running in Seville, the attempt at beating my personal best time, being accompanied by family and friends…

On Friday afternoon we went to the marathon expo at the FIBES. There we retrieved our running bibs, got the confirmation that we could start the race together, took our official expo picture and by chance I met elite runner Pablo Villalobos (1), with whom I had exchanged some tweets in the morning.

That evening we had dinner out with friends in the downtown; plenty of different delicious tapas to share. We had some fun… though at the end of the dinner I started feeling weak, and I went back to the hotel instead of staying with the friends to take some drinks.

On Saturday morning I woke up with stomach problems and some diarrhea. I went to the pharmacy to get some pills and rested a few hours. I feared for the race the day after. The hours passed and I felt a little bit better so we went to have lunch with some 14 friends at Puerto Delicia.

Saturday's lunch with friends.

Saturday’s lunch with friends.

After lunch we went for a walk and I started to feel weak again. We went back to the hotel room. By about 18h, in the bed, I started shivering. During the following hour the fever went up and up. At 19h I reached out for the WC to vomit (such a pity of the previous meals!). I called my brother to ask if he could bring me some drinks and food to the room. By 20h he came with some Aquarius and bananas. 10 hours to recover before waking up time, 13 hours to the marathon start time. That was the start of my race during the night in order to take part of the event.

In the following hours I drank, ate and slept bit by bit, until 24h, when I finally put myself to get a long sleep (6 hours).

On Sunday morning at 6am I woke up on the clock alarm. I stood up and it seemed that I felt OK. With that check I went downstairs to have breakfast. I met there Jaime and Juan, who were happy and very surprised to see me there. After the breakfast we took a taxi and departed for the Stadium at La Cartuja, where we met Jose.

The day was sunny though a bit cold. Changing clothes, drinking a bit, seeing the thousands of runners going through the rituals before the race… that cheered me up.

Before the race.

Before the race.

At few minutes before 9am we went to our corral, 3h45’-4h. We chatted with other runners and with that we went off for a good run!

You can see here a good report of the marathon by my brother Jaime.

We went together for the first 13 kilometres. Our target was to run at a pace of 5 minutes per km. We alternated some at a somewhat higher pace with other at a slower pace. At km 7 we saw Luca and Andrea who greeted us from the hotel room.

Passing by the hotel at km 7.

Passing by the hotel at km 7.

By the 10km mark we were just losing some 40″ in relation to our 3h30’ target time.

Running at some point.

Running at some point.

After having drunk at a few supply posts I started feeling some pain in the stomach, like cramps. Something wasn’t working well. I told my brother and Jose to go ahead with their pace and forget about me. I wasn’t sure of the fate of my race. Ten minutes later, at km 15 I stopped at one of the WC cabins. I had to vomit everything I had taken. Not a good signal. I was emptying my reserves and not replenishing sugar nor minerals.

I re-started at a slower pace (~5:15) for some minutes and then decreased it later (~5’20”-5’30”). I passed the half marathon point in 1h52’01”, not a bad time. In theory that would point at a marathon time of around 3h50′. However, the feelings weren’t good.

At the km 22 I was feeling weaker and most important, I started to worry. After the last 24 hours, having vomited everything and not being able to ingest food and liquid, at some point I would run out of glucose. I feared that if I continued to run I would be risking fainting in any moment above around 2 hours. I pondered during some minutes whether to give it a try. “It doesn’t matter if you are well above 4 hours!” I had been there (in those times) before. I had completed other marathons in pain, injured. However, I thought this risk was more serious.

At about km 23 I had decided to quit. I would have other marathons to beat my best time. Other marathons to complete. Other marathon to run with Jaime end to end. But it would not be this one. I continued running softly, seeking out for a taxi. I found it at km 26.6… and then I stepped aside.

With that decision I put an end to my epic fight against the distance of that marathon that day. See the records of my Garmin watch below:

My Garmin data from Seville marathon.

My Garmin data from Seville marathon.

I regretted having quit not even a minute afterwards while seeing the runners along. I even saw Juan from the taxi… but thinking it over a few days later I think it was a good decision. In less than 2 months from that date and just 6 weeks from the date this post is published I will be running the Madrid marathon and there will hopefully be many other marathons to run.

The experience in Seville will teach me to appreciate even more the marathons completed, to value the good health enjoyed on race days so far, and to realize how difficult is to achieve and beat a personal best time… something you do not conquer the day after you have been sick. Nevertheless, I love the distance, the race, the marathon, and I had to give it a try. I tried some thing epic but it could not be.

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(1) He had placed 2nd and 4th in previous editions of the race. You can check out his blog here. By the way, for Pablo it wasn’t also the best day: he quit in km 26 too, his first marathon not completed, too.

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Buenos días, Sevilla!

At the time this post is being published, two friends (Juan and Jose), my brother and I are about to start the Marathon of Sevilla.

To prepare this marathon I followed the same 16-week long training plan I used for the previous two marathons (Rotterdam and New York). However, the 1st day of the plan was on November 3rd, just the day after we completed New York marathon. Thus, I took a week of full rest and another 3 of almost no running, and I started following the plan at full throttle only from week 5, beginning of December.

From December till February 15th (when writing this post) I have completed over 616km (650km including those few in November) in 11 weeks, or about 56km per week. I have completed about 20 sessions of series training, I ran 9 long runs over 17km (6 of them over 27km, 2 over 33km), I did not take part in any race but during training sessions I managed to clock my 5th best time over 10km and my 2nd best time over 21.1km (half marathon). I am close to the fastest shape that I have been in the last year, and have no doubt followed the best training season so far.

Weekly mileage completed along the training plan for Sevilla.

Weekly mileage completed along the training plan for Sevilla.

In between, I switched training shoes, so I will run with shoes with less than 150km though more or less used to the shape of my feet.

Back to the race. We will cover the 42.195km by running all around Sevilla. This marathon will be somewhat special to us since it will be the first one we will be running together all of us in Spain. It will also be special as both my brother and I lived for a year in Sevilla while studying and working (not simultaneously though).

It will start in Isla de la Cartuja (where we studied at EOI) to go South towards Triana and Los Remedios. At km. 4 will turn left to take Av Republica Argentina just 4 blocks where our cousin lives. We’ll cross the river and turn left to go along the river for about 8km, passing Torre del Oro, La Maestranza (bullfighting arena), Av Torneo all the way to the Puente del Alamillo (we’ll be passing the cinemas we used to go, places where friends used to live, etc). At km. 14 we’ll pass by La Macarena, where Jaime used to live. Shortly after we’ll take Luis Montoto heading towards the hotel we normally stay when on business, where more friends used to live, etc. Then we’ll take Kansas City avenue to the North for another 2km. Shortly afterwards we’ll cross the half marathon mark.

PlanoDetalleRecorrido_v2The next 7 km will cover parts of the city I don’t know that well, therefore it will be perfect time to focus on the pace, drinking and eating. At km. 28 we’ll take Luis de Morales street, where I use to train when on business in Seville. At km. 32 we’ll pass by the football stadium of Betis and then take the Paseo de la Palmera for 2km until Parque de Maria Luisa and Plaza de España, two of the most beautiful spots of the city (which I also go by when training in Sevilla).

From then on, the last 6km I guess that are going to be overwhelming: the race will go through the very centre of the city (the University, the Cathedral (La Giralda), the city hall, Av Constitucion, Tetuan, Trajano, Alameda de Hercules), by then it will be about noon and more people will be on the streets cheering the runners. Hopefully, by then, we’ll still be in good shape, fighting for the objective and enjoying the experience.

This tour through the centre will end at the Puente de la Barqueta to cross the river and cover the last 2km in Cartuja before reaching the Olympic stadium where world athletics championship of 1999 took place.

And what will be my objective? Since I mentioned that I arrive at this race with the best training so far (as does my brother), we’ll depart trying to stay with the pacer of 3h30′ all along the way and thus clocking a time under that mark, which for me (and possible for Jaime) would be a personal best. The race is quite flat and if the day does not turn out too hot, the conditions should help us to achieve that goal.

To support us along the race we’ll count with the direct families (Inma, Luca, Andrea), extended family, friends that come from Madrid explicitly to cheer us (Elena, Maicol) and possibly some others we may see along the race.

To end this pre-race post I leave you with the traditional picture by Jaime:

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Summary of (my) 2014

Brief recap of my 2014. (1)

In the last year recap I mentioned that in 2014 I wanted to give it a try to the processes’ approach at the time of setting goals. Trying to introduce new habits, settle others, etc. I started very focused: waking up earlier, studying Dutch first thing in the morning, arriving at the office earlier, training at lunch time, getting back home earlier, playing with Andrea, spend some family time, read and study at late evening/night. Some of the habits have stayed, some others not, and I have taken new ones along the year… let’s review the year.

The main events of this year:

  • AndreaFFVFRLuca passed the exams to become a lawyer in France, found a job in a law firm and finally sworn before the court as a lawyer.
  • Andrea… many events in her front. From the first flight with me at the controls in February, to her first steps in the summer, to travelling first time to Africa and America…
  • We moved houses, though still living in Toulouse (from the flat in Saint-Cyprien to a house in Sept Deniers).

Avgeek. The stage we had in Paris for Luca’s exams allowed me to visit the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace (Le Bourget) and to get to know the airfield of Issy-Les-Moulineaux. Our escapades to the Pyrenees made us discover Musée de l’Aéronautique of Luchon. The more recent trip to the USA allowed us to visit the Dayton, where the Wright Brothers originated and the National Museum of the US Air Force, for which I still have to write about, but you can see my brother’s post on the museum. We also had the chance to visit the Francazal air show.

VitrineThe moving to the new house gave me the opportunity to find a well deserved location for the model collection.

Flying. Apart of the mentioned first flight with Andrea on board, in this 2014 I managed to complete some 17 flights totalling almost 15 flight hours, 30 take-offs and landings and including 5 solo flights (one of them a navigation flight).

????????????????????????????????Not only Andrea had her baptism regarding flying with me at the controls in 2014, but Juan, Maicol, my mother, my sister Beatriz and brother Jaime had theirs too! Despite some exercise-related incidents (including a runway excursion, through during a solo flight), I am sure they enjoyed it and the experience made it to their 2014 memories.

Since the progress was good, just before the summer my instructor mentioned the taking of the exam! But first I had to pass the theoretical part, which I had postponed so far. I did a first attempt in November in which I cleared half of it, next attempt in a couple of months. Then, some more flight lessons (not having flown since September), flight hours and start thinking on the practical exam!

FinMarLearning. The balance between family, hobbies and work is always tricky. This year I started strong studying Dutch which I dropped after 3 months, and in the second half of the year I had to put hours to the study of the PPL theoretical part (in French), with partial success.

In between, I completed some other online courses (MOOCs): The Age of Sustainable Development (Columbia), An Introduction to Operations Management (Wharton) and Financial Markets (Yale). In parallel, I completed some other very interesting in-company trainings on Airline Engineering and Maintenance, Management of Conflicts and Time Management.

Reading. This year again I didn’t set any objectives in terms of number of books, but I only prepared a shelf with a selection of about 20 books that I wanted to prioritize. In the end I read the following 10 books (about half of them from the selected shelf):  Hot, Flat, and CrowdedThe Roaring NinetiesEl amor en los tiempos del cóleraThe Early History of the AirplaneSeeking Wisdom: From Darwin to MungerWhat management is, Sycamore Row, The Racketeer, Micro, Crime and Punishment (in Spanish). You can find here a brief review of each of them and references to longer reviews I made about them in the blog.

Family 2.0. Despite of the family life and different changes, I managed to write just a bit over 80 posts. Plus the blog received over 80,000 visits in 2014 (a 60% increase in relation to 2013) and is very close to surpassing the 200,000 since I started it in 2010.

On top of that, Luca went forward with her own blog, check it here, Jaime launched his new blog (with especially interesting post on aerospace topics!) and my mother launched a website to promote her therapy business (Terapias ArcoIris). I wonder whether Andrea will start a blog before speaking or writing! (2)

DSC_0161 - CopyTravelling. This year we visited Paris for a week (first time in Versailles and in the château de Chambord for me), made 3 escapades the Pyrenees (with Luca and Andrea alone, with my family and with friends), visited again the United States (NY and some new places for us: Boston, Gettysburg, Dayton, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia – with over 2,100 miles driven and 8 different hotels in less than 2 weeks!) in a very entertaining trip with lots of learning opportunities and experiences, the Dordogne, spent a half resting half discovery week in Mauritius, flew to the Netherlands (3 times, a week each time), five days in Sicily (Siracusa, Milazzo, Taormina; incredibly beautiful places) and these last days of the year in Madrid.

????????????????????????????????Again, those were the leisure trips; on top of that, the job made me go to Madrid another 20-25 times (?), that made it tiresome and difficult to combine with other things but gave my plenty of opportunities to see my family, friends and to run in the Retiro park…

Sports – Running. This year, due to the young age of Andrea, we did not manage to go skiing. We neither played some golf as we wished we had to, nor gave it a try with soccer. What I did was basically, guess… running.

In 2014 I ran well over 1,900 kilometres, which was a goal I set to myself at half way through the year (when I had completed just over 800). As I wanted to reduce the weekends’ agenda, I competed less and just took part in 9 races (3) (versus 16 in 2013) including: 2 marathons (Rotterdam and New York, both under my previous personal best time!), 2 half marathons (Blagnac and Toulouse, no personal best here though), 3 10k‘s (all of them under 45’, with two consecutive personal bests!) and a couple of trails: Cassoulet and Foies Gras. As you read, in 2014 I achieved personal bests in marathon and 10k thanks to the different training plans I combined (more variety), which was great. I did not so in half marathon, I think in 2015 I’ll try to improve the 3 marks.

IMG_0219Following the sentence “the running shoes, always in the suitcase”, the year 2014 caught me running in: Wijchen (9 times), The Hague, Rijswijk, Sevilla, Rotterdam, Paris (x6), New York (x2), Milazzo (x3), Montauban, Mauritius (x5), Madrid (x16), Dayton, Colomiers, Benasque, Barakaldo, Allentown, Verfeil, Mauvezin… plus the tens of times I trained in Toulouse and Blagnac.

This year, apart from the races, I managed to train plenty of long runs: 11 over 20km, including 6 over 25km and 2 over 30km; and did plenty of series’ sessions (too many to mention). That contributed a lot to the improvement of my times.

Other reasons for joy in 2014 have been:

  • My family: My sister moved to Odense (Denmark) to study a master in International Security & Law  (you can follow her in her blog), and once the classes were completed moved to Vilnius (Lithuania) to make a stage at the NATO Energy Security Centre of Excellence. We had the pleasure to have my mother over for a month in July-August. We enjoyed 2 weeks of holidays with Jaime in the States, apart enjoying several runs with him. My father is ever more engaged with NGOs teaching classes to disfavoured people in Madrid.
  • Some more friends got married: Alessandro, Erik, Simone.
  • And we welcome some newborns from family and friends: Guillermo, Cas, Nils, Amelie…

Now it’s time to rest, celebrate and soon to plan how we want the 2015 to turn out. It will again be a year full of personal and professional changes, with plenty of learning opportunities, kilometres to run, marathons to enjoy, airplanes to fly and flights to catch, museums to see, books to read, trips to make and parties to enjoy.

For now, I will close 2014 celebrating my sister’s birthday, running the San Silvestre Vallecana in Madrid with several friends and enjoying a last dinner with the family.

I wish you the best for 2015, enjoy it!

(1) You can see my 20102011, 2012 and 2013 recaps.

(2) I have to confess that at some point I considered the idea of opening a blog for her to register each of her flights… I dropped the idea, because I was incapable of registering all the desired data of so many flights! [over 20 flights in 2014 alone for her]

(3) That figure excludes the San Silvestre Vallecana that I will run the afternoon after this post is published.

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New York marathon 2014

My brother and I in Staten Island, Verrazano bridge in the back.

My brother and I in Staten Island, Verrazano bridge in the back.

… and November 2nd came and we got to run the New York City marathon.

In a previous post I explained what makes this specific marathon so special, an overview of the course and how I came to it regarding my training. In this post I will focus on my experience (1), a hell of a experience!

This marathon is a huge event. We were over 50,000 runners. This means a very serious logistics operation. So everything that you experience can be put into perspective in relation to that. The marathon expo at the convention center, the queues, the volunteers, the supplies, the transportation, the distances to cover, the goodies provided pre and post race, the medical staff, the mobile toilets, the music bands… everything.

The day of the race started with waking up in Manhattan at 4am. I had booked a place into a bus departing from the public Library to bring me to Staten Island, but in the end Jaime got me into one of the buses of the International Travel Partner he got his trip organized with, so that we did not have to look for each other at the island. The bus dropped us at the island at around 6am, and from then on we had some 4 hours until the departing time of our wave.

To me this was the worst part of the event. There are things that could be improved: from providing more covered space to not explicitly forbidding runners to bring blankets, to providing blankets, simply allowing to drop off clothes later or even just honestly communicating the real times at which the starting corrals would be opened.

IMG_3980One could argue that the size of the event makes that part difficult to organize. Fair enough. On the other hand, Berlin marathon also hosts about 40,000 runners and has none of the nonsense of New York marathon. Its start area, finish area and timetables are neatly organized.

The good thing of that waiting time is that I spent it with my brother, talking, joking, getting into the mood of the race. Until we had to leave each one to his corral.

  • Tip one: forget about your assigned corral, if you have friends, arrange to depart from the same corral (apparently there is some grading, orange being more demanding and blue more accessible).
  • Tip two: bring 2 sets of warm clothes. One to be put into the bag that will be transported to the finish line. The other to wear it until you are in Verrazano bridge, then throw it away.

20141105_124551

Verrazano bridge is huge; over 2 miles long. At the mid-point you are at the highest point of the race, with great views of Manhattan. Even greater winds if you have the luck to run in a day like the day we ran in. Temperatures were about 6C and winds of over 40km/h. In that conditions, one could only run trying not to fall and forget about best times or anything like that (2).

I had read a post about how to plan the race. It warned about not starting too fast in the bridge (honestly, it almost cautioned not to run too fast until kilometre 42). I found myself running 30″ faster per km on the second half of the bridge. At that point I lost the 3h45′ pacer, and with her the chance of meeting my brother Jaime later on, as we had agreed to follow that pacer to ensure we would meet each other (3).

20141105_124651

Once we left the bridge, we entered in Brooklyn and with it came the crowded streets, the music bands, the contrasts, the cheering crowds (“Vamos España”, “Allez la France” (4), “You’re looking good”… looking good at km. 35, really? :-)). This makes this race apart.

There are parts of the race that are not especially beautiful. You don’t get to run through lower Manhattan, or Broadway. You do not cross Brooklyn bridge. But the streets you run in, with very few exceptions, are packed with cheering crowds, volunteers, music bands, runners… you feel surrounded by a great atmosphere along the complete 42km. Some moments which I especially cherished:

  • Running with a head band with a Spanish flag, receiving lots of dedicated support at different points (especially in one of the last turns in Columbus Circle, mile 26). Thanking that support with some gestures (thumbs up, smiles, waving hands…).
  • Giving some support words each time I overtook an identifiable fellow Spanish.
  • Running along Lafayette avenue surrounded by French runners and a crowd cheering with “Allez la France”.
  • Climbing Queensboro bridge. No spectators, just runners. 2 km long. A good climb at mile 15. Enjoying good views of Manhattan skyline just about to enter it. Time to focus on your pace, notice that there are only 17km to go, overtaking plenty of runners, owning your race.
  • Landing on First avenue. Not seeing the end of a 2.5-mile stretch. Seeing thousands of different flags though. Planning to keep a fast pace thinking these are going to be my 10km like in Rotterdam. Failing to do so.
  • A white woman thanking runners for visiting the Bronx (mile 21).
  • Sustaining a decent pace on a surprising 1.5km-long climb in the 5th Avenue, just before entering Central Park, starting from km 36.5. Tough, very tough. (“that’s a beautiful pace!”, really?)
  • Being overtaken at km 38 by the 3h45′ pacer, the same girl I lost in Verrazano bridge. Thinking for a moment: “they’re going too fast for me now” (5’20″/km pace vs. the over 6′ I did in the previous climb). Thinking in the next moment: “what the hell! I am following them!”. Doing so, and clocking the best 4 kilometres of the second half of the race, allowing me to finish in 3h44’32”, my second best time in the distance!
Pace per km.

Pace per km.

This marathon is not easy, though not that tough (Athens was harder). The trip is expensive. The chances of getting a place into it are few… but if you have the chance to do it, at least once, I would recommend it (5).

  • Tip three: train well, series and long runs, and do start softly, you will need some reserves to go to the Bronx and return and climb up to Central Park.

After the race, I felt so much pain in my back due to the cold suffered in the early morning that I needed a massage to relax my back, remove the cramps and dry my clothes. Afterwards, I met my brother and together we went back to the hotel, savouring the achievement. Our 6th marathon together. 12th marathon (including Millau ultramarathon, for which a 42km time was given), 2nd in the USA (after San Diego).

There will come a day in which I won’t be able to run marathons, then, I’ll be able to look back and relish the day I ran New York City marathon back in November 2nd, 2014. Thanks, Jaime, for suggesting and pushing for it!

(1) Find in my brother’s blog a post about his experience in the same event.

(2) Take the case of the winner, Wilson Kipsang, who in previous days had announced the intention to break the course record (around 2h5′) and he finally finished in almost 2h11′.

(3) I later learned, that he indeed followed the pacer up until km. 25… had I not run faster at the beginning and we would have experienced it together. I owe him one. There will be more marathons, possibly Madrid is the place to enjoy running 42km together.

(4) You can see in the stats of the race that up to over 3,000 French (the 2nd most represented country) were running, over 800 Spanish.

(5) Sins of omission are the ones which hurt the most at the end of the game, don’t they?

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