Rock & Roll Madrid Marathon race report (parte dos) June 18, 2012Posted by bettyjoan in Races, Running.
Tags: Madrid Marathon, Marathon, Races, Running, Travel
Race day in Madrid was so exciting – obviously, Jason was amped up about his first marathon, and I was pretty pumped that it wasn’t just me getting up at the buttcrack of dawn (the whole couples training thing was really nice – instant company). We got dressed, grabbed all of our gear, and headed over to meet the team at their hotel. There was lots of nervous energy, but everyone seemed to be in good spirits, taking photos and chatting about what was to come. We rode Metro together to the start, which was actually a pretty fun experience – at 6 AM, the only other folks on public transportation were finishing up their epic adventures from the previous night (Spaniards are definitely a fun-loving, hard-partying bunch).
After we dropped our gear, the waiting game began. Finally, it was time to line up in the corral (it was just one big start line – no real waves to speak of). Jason and I had decided that we would each run our own races, so I kissed him good luck and partnered up with one of my mentees who wanted a pacer. Before we knew it, we were off! It was a lovely, cool morning, so I tried to settle into a comfortable rhythm – I was still able to chat, but I wasn’t just lollygagging along. We were able to watch some of the 10K-ers make the turn at their halfway point (which prompted some folks to wish they’d opted for the shorter distance), and then we split from them entirely. We went through some cute residential areas of Madrid, and other than a quick pit stop behind some trees, my mentee and I were chugging right along. We saw our Coach and our TNT staff rep, and they reported that the whole team was doing great. We also went through the awesome downtown parts of Madrid, which was super fun – such a gorgeous city.
When we reached the half marathon point, I was really excited – I was maintaining between a 10:00 and 10:30 pace, and I wasn’t having any pain. Woo hoo! At about mile 15 or 16, we headed into Casa de Campo, which is an enormous park. Unfortunately, I started to hit the wall. I was slowing down, and we had run into a few of our teammates, so I told my mentee to go ahead with them and I’d catch up if possible. Well…not possible. The park had NO crowd support, there were cyclists zipping by everywhere, and the scenery was just boring after a mile or two. So, even though my body was fine, my mind lost its edge and I really dropped my pace. I was frustrated and discouraged, but I knew that I would be raring to go again once I got back on city streets.
Sure enough, when I exited the park, I got renewed energy and determination. Seriously, the benefit of doing a race in a country where women don’t run (the field was 15% women, up from 8% the previous year) is that the crowd is SO PUMPED to see a chick, they cheer extra loud for you. I dug deep and kept going, and finally I was at the last turn. I saw our Head Coach, and he mentioned that someone on the team had been picked up by the sweeper van. I got a little nervous that it was Jason, but I decided that was hogwash and I needed to haul ass to the finish line to see him cross. I ran through the chute with my coach, and I was rewarded with a time of 5:18:24!!! It was under 5:30, and a huge improvement over marathon #1 in Chicago, so I was incredibly satisfied.
After getting my medal and hobbling over to the TNT tent (which was fantastically located right next to the finish line), I positioned myself to watch Jason finish his first marathon. Five minutes went by, then ten, then fifteen…and I started to get very worried. Surely he was coming soon, right? Surely he wasn’t the one who got picked up by the sweeper, right??? The race had a strict 6-hour time limit, and as the clock ticked on and the officials looked like they were going to disassemble the finish area, I started freaking out. Then, I saw our coaches running with someone down the chute – it was Jason! He looked exhausted, but his arms were raised up high and he crossed that finish line with a smile on his face, and just under the 6-hour mark. I started bawling – I have never been so proud in my life.
After some EPIC celebrating at the hotel bar (for those of you who don’t know me, I have a Madrid-themed tattoo, and it resulted in a LOT of free-flowing gin), we continued with the best vacation EVER. We finished our time in Madrid by visiting the Prado, El Escorial, Valle de los Caidos, and even a fun Spanish brewpub. From there, we moved on to Granada, where we ate some delicious food and marveled at the beauty of the Alhambra. Finally, we took a VERY turbulent plane ride to Barcelona, where we explored all parts of what was previously my least favorite city in Spain (I was violently mugged in Barcelona when I was studying abroad) – the food, the shopping, and the architecture definitely changed my opinion of the place!
All in all, I would highly recommend the international marathon experience – in face, we are thinking about planning our next 26.2 for London in 2014. It’s a wonderful way to see a new city and really EARN that vacation.