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.
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, Lisboa, Vienna 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.