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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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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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Athens Classic Marathon

I heard about the modern Athens Classic Marathon from Antonio, a colleague at the office. Ever since, I had wanted to take part in it. Last week, two friends (Jose and Juan), my brother and I completed it.

In a previous post I wrote about the legend of Pheidippides and the origin of the modern marathon. In this post I will focus on my experience and will share some of the pictures that we took during this trip.

Training

Volume of kilometres run per week.

Volume of kilometres run per week.

To prepare for this marathon I followed a 16-week training plan provided by Garmin (Level II). Each week it included between 4 and 5 days of running and often 1 day of cross-training. I fulfilled most of the plan, missing not more than two or three days of running and some more of cross-training. I did not skip any series session or long run. In all, I ran over 780km in those weeks, excluding the 42km of the race (an average of just over 50km per week).

During this training season I beat my 10k and half marathon personal records. I had not experienced any serious injury that prevented me from training during whole weeks or months as it had been the case in previous years. According to a running calculator that I use sometimes, had the race been in similar conditions as those 10k and half, I should have been around 3h30′. The profile and conditions were not the same, and despite of that I started with a pace towards 3h30′ just to see how far would I reach maintaining it and if I could be under 3h45′, thus achieving a new PR.

The day before the race we went to the marathon expo which was held at the Taekwondo pavillion of the 2004 Olympic Games held in Athens. This way we also visited the beautiful small port at Piraeus close to Faros (just past the Stadio Eirinis & Filias, where Olympiakos bastketball team plays).

At the marathon expo.

At the marathon expo.

Before the race

Marathon beach.

Marathon beach.

As I mentioned in the previous post, the race goes from the village of Marathon to Athens, replicating the route followed by Pheidippides to announce the victory of Athens in the Battle of Marathon. The Persians landed at the bay of Marathon in their attempt of invading Attica, thus Marathon is almost at sea level.

From Marathon, the race goes South more or less parallel to the sea-line for about 17 kilometres and then heads to the West to climb up the hills before the valley where the city of Athens is located.

Route of the Athens Classic Marathon.

Route of the Athens Classic Marathon.

The last part of the race is a descent from the hills to the centre of Athens where the Panathinaiko stadium is located. But by then, the damage is already done to the legs after a long climb.

Profile of the Athens Classic Marathon.

Profile of the Athens Classic Marathon.

The morning of the race, we were transported from Syntagma square to Marathon by dozens of buses early in the morning to be able to start at 9:00. Everything ran smoothly (in that and many other aspects the organization of the race was superb).

We changed clothes in Marathon, where we could take some pictures, go to the toilet, warm up and slowly get into the racing mindset.

Urinaries panoramic view.

WC panoramic view (at Marathon, picture by Jose).

We took one group picture and set for the departing line.

Pre-race group picture.

Pre-race group picture.

The week following to the race I went back to Marathon to visit the place with time and see the different spots (some of the pictures in the post are from those other days).

In the village of Marathon there is a small athletics stadium at the end of the national road from Athens to Marathon.

The 1896 Olympic marathon race started at “… the brigde at Marathon Plain”, or “… at the bridge near the entrance of the sacred city”, according to “Olympic Games 776 B.C. – 1896” by A. K. Bech, or “… The starting point will be at the 40th stadion on the Marathon – Athens national road”, according to the Athens daily “Olympia” on March 9, 1896 (as can be read in the milestone below). That point, the “40th stadion” of that national road, is marked by the milestone below.

Today, the Athens Classic Marathon starts a bit ahead at the mid-point of what is now a kind of majestic avenue at the beginning of which one can find a marble stone indicating the starting point of the olympic race, a milestone indicating that 40th stadion, and the tower where the Marathon Flame is lit after being brought from the Marathon Tomb (just 5km away).

1896 Athens marathon start

1896 Athens marathon start

40th stadion milestone

40th stadion milestone

Marathon flame tower.

Marathon flame tower.

Boston 2013 marathon memorial bracelet.

2013 Boston marathon memorial bracelet.

Just before the race start we observed 1 minute of silence for the victims of the attack at the Boston marathon earlier this year. This minute counted with the presence of president of the Boston Athletics Association. That was the 3rd such minute I had observed as during my honeymoon trip I had taken part in two races in the USA, in San Francisco and San Diego, from which I got the memorial bracelet that I wear often lately.

The race

At 9:03 our group departed and there we went my brother and I trying to pace ourselves at a bit less than 5′ per km. That was comfortable for the flat part at the beginning. Another positive point of that beginning: with less than 10,000 runners taking part the running was possible from the start.

Milestone of the km 1 of the Athens Classic Marathon Course.

Milestone of the km 1 of the Athens Classic Marathon Course.

The course of the marathon race is marked, not only by ad-hoc signals for the race, but by permanent posts along the road, such as the one of the picture for the first kilometre.

At about the km. 5 the course takes a small detour from the national road to round the commonly known as Marathon Tomb, or Marathon Tumulus, a park with a small hill where each year the Marathon flame is lit. Close to the park entrance, there is a small statue of Miltiades, credited as the one devising the tactics to defeat the Persians at the Battle of Marathon.

Statue of Pheidippides km. 18.

Statue of Pheidippides km. 18.

At the return from the tomb, already 6km had been passed. The road continued to be flat until about the 11th km, where the road started to pick up until km. 16, where there is a short and steep descent up until km. 17.

At the km. 18, there is a small statue of the legendary Pheidippides. From then on the road continues to climb more or less continuously until km. 31.

Up until the 20th km I was still at the pace of 3h30′, but in the beginning of the climb I was already feeling that it was going to be very tough to run kms at below 5’50”.

I have checked the Garmin records afterwards and I had already surpassed 167bpm at some points by the km 20th, which experience tells me that is the barrier that makes me feel fatigued.

Statue of a runner at km. 21.

Statue of a runner at km. 21.

During the race, not having read about heart rate, just by the feelings I had I decided to forget about the time and continue the climb at a more comfortable pace. With that, the 3h30 and the sub 3h45′ were gone. In the end I completed the race in 3h53’18”, but the profile nor the day (temperatures from 14ºC to 21ºC, on the hot end) were the best to attempt a PR.

At the km. 21 there is another statue of an anonymous runner.

I crossed the half marathon at slightly over 1h47′, but knowing that the following 10km would take about a full hour and not knowing how I would be for the remainder 11km.

The heat of the day called for lots of hydration, and at that point the organization was again terrific, with water posts every 2.5km and with isotonic drinks in most of the posts, plus energetic gels in some of them.

One hour later, and having reached the top of the hill I remembered the sentence one of us had read describing the race “from km. 31 you can fly down to the end”. Well, I was not fit for flying. When I tried to speed up I felt muscles starting to cramp, thus I couldn’t run any faster than 5’45”, which I tried to keep, drinking and eating well at each supply post.

Panathinaiko stadium from Acropolis.

Panathinaiko stadium from Acropolis.

Once in the centre of Athens, there were still some 3-4 kilometres to cover. I kept myself just for the last kilometre where the atmosphere close to the stadium was great, starting with the descent by Irodou Attikou street.

The last turn to the left, climbing up the ramps to enter the Panathinaiko and covering the last meters inside the stadium was overwhelming. One of the best marathon endings I can recall.

See in the panoramic below a view of how the stadium looked that day.

Panathinaiko stadium panoramic view.

Panathinaiko stadium panoramic view (picture by Jose).

I remembered then when I first visited Athens back in 2002. That time, we visited the stadium and took some pictures as if running in those tracks. Now, 11 years later, there was I, sprinting to complete the Athens Classic Marathon (my 10th), where it all began, no less.

2013 Athens marathon medal

2013 Athens marathon medal

Post-race groupe picture.

Post-race group picture with a great marathon team! Juan, Jose, me and Jaime.

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Buon giorno, Roma!

This morning, as this post is being published I’ll be starting the 19th Rome marathon, together with my friends Serna, Manuel and brother Jaime.

I am very satisfied with the way I could train towards this marathon, no injuries this time.

Since running Berlin marathon last September 30th, I only stopped for a couple of weeks and swiftly started running again. Even if I started a bit late to pick up with the number of miles run per week (from mid December instead of mid November) I have amounted almost 800km in these last months, including:

  • 5 days of tough series training: 12x400m, 14x400m, 8x800m, 9x800m and 10x800m.
  • 7 long runs of over 16km each, 4 of them over 20km.
  • 5 races: San Silvestre Vallecana (10km), Course des Rois (10km), Le Deca d’Escalquens (10km), Trailhounet (18km) and Media Maratón de La Latina (21km).

You can see below the mileage run per week:

Maratona di Roma 2013 training season. Kilometres run per week.

Maratona di Roma 2013 training season. Kilometres run per week.

A lesson learned from previous training sessions: when I noticed that some muscle or tendon was getting sore from too much training I did not hesitate in slowing down that week, instead of keeping up with the training until getting seriously injured. Let’s see today how it goes, anyway, as Jaime says, it’ll sure be a day for the epic :-).

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New high: 297km in July

About a month ago I was struggling to get back into the habit of frequently running. What is more, I had to be starting with the specific training plan for the Berlin marathon (30 September, which I will run together with my friend Serna and my brother Jaime).

At the beginning of July I checked the stats from Garmin connect from the previous year. In July 2011 I had run 283km. I wrote the following tweet to commit myself:

In the end, in July I ran 25 days and rested 6. I ran in Toulouse, Sevilla, El Rompido (Huelva, Spain), Madrid and Papendal (The Netherlands). I ran one race in Toulouse, I ran in the beach, did 3 days of treadmill, 4 days of series and one half marathon training. I ran in two different athletics tracks: in Toulouse and Papendal.

And in the end… I completed over 297km, 14km more than in July 2011, fulfilling the objective, setting a new personal record (previous one being 287km from September 2011 – ultramarathon of 100km included) and heading right into the marathon training mode.

Injures permitting: Berlin, see you in less than 2 months.

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