10km: CURSA BARCELONA EN MARXA CONTRA EL CÀNCER
Updated: Dec 22, 2018
December 2nd 2018: I was really looking forward to the Cursa Contra el Cancer, mostly as I had also ran it the prior year so knew what to expect; but also as this is one of my key training routes so it is super familiar to me. Every incline, decline, the easy and the hard. And I run better with hills - not that I love them, but I don't totally hate them either!
It was also an opportunity to see what my real 10km race pace was - as I find in the big races leaving Placa Espanya, I tend to hit 10km on my GPS (Garmin Fenix 5) on Av Parallel, circa 500m or so before the finish line. So invariably my race time was just over 1 hour, but I felt I was able to run a sub 60 minute race time. As this race has a smaller participation, and a narrower route in many places, I expected it would be easier to reach the expected 10km - not much over or under.
Cycling down to the race from home made me really appreciate Barcelona. Such a small city, most locations within cycling distance, and if not, a great public transport system to get from A to B. But this morning, it was the bike. Planning ahead is always key, and simple considerations like 'Where would I keep my bike keys when running?' were decided the night before. While I choose the lightest bike key to carry, it belonged to my large bike lock & chain. So if you saw a bike locked with a 1 metre chain on the day, there was logic behind it!
There was a good buzz around Forum - it was a beautiful December morning, just like the previous year. While I was local so facilities were not key for me, there was sufficient toilet facilities and the usual bag drop off. Parking the bike was straightforward, while Forum is well serviced by bus routes, the metro and free car parking in Diagonal Mar (not sure if it was open on that Sunday, but worth checking if you attend next year).
Most runners were wearing the race t-shirt (nice to see a sea of green!) and the cool neck scarf that was gifted this year (more usable for running than the warmer cowl given last year).
All set at the start line, I hung to the back as I am a circa 60 minute 10km. Just like it is annoying for me when much slower runners hold me up in my domain, I realise it is important not to impact the fast runners in theirs. The race started on time with the first short incline. And then the next. And the next. Short inclines but inclines.
Some spectators wisely had positioned their feet on small bollards by the sundial on one of the incline bends, as hitting those in race mode would have caused - at least - a minor injury. Something for the race organisers next year - worthwhile putting a barrier in front of them.
And then the next incline - the walkway bridge over Forum's port. Followed by a run around the port, to the next incline, behind Decathlon. A downhill by Museum Blau followed immediately by one of the easier uphills, and we were on the flat for circa 1km. Then a decline followed by final incline before we looped the Bosque Urbano park. As a 5km x 2 loop, we would total 12 inclines, 13 if you include the short one at the start.
Refuel Stops: there was a water refuel at 5km which was also available at the very start (as we did two loops, and passed that point around 100 metres in). However, water was in cups, so a bit messy to manage, although environmental for sure!
Inclines: 12 inclines, where 6 were on each loop. You could add in 1 more at the start, if you wanted to consider it an incline.
Course Design: This was a double loop of 5km each.
Race Entertainment: There was music, drumming in a few different places which was a great boost.
I had went out fast, for me, so hitting 5km I definitely groaned and thought 'oh no, another 5km to go'! No matter what distance you are training for, pushing hard in a short distance remains tough. After the first 5km loop, my Garmin was showing 5.1km. So I took the corners tighter in the second loop, but unfortunately it meant I hit below the 10km mark - I totalled 9.73km on the Garmin. And looking at Strava, no runner made 10km. The max hit was 9.8km.
My other half and the kids came out to cheer us on, and just as Coldplay 'The Scientist' started on my headphones, I saw my son. I always tell him running is tough, but music gets me through, and especially the lyrics 'Nobody said it was easy' from Coldplay. As they cheered me on, I sang it back to them: a fun memory!
My excitement was palpable when I saw the official time clock as I started to near it. For sure, I knew from my Garmin I was just under 56 minutes, but not until I saw the clock did I believe it. Crossing the finish line with a pace of 5.44/km, even when adding in the missing 0.27km, I smashed all of my past 10kms which just edged over the 60 mins each time.
The day didn't end there for the organisers, as next up was a 5km race, followed by a 2.5km - certainly next year we will bring the kids to participate in the 2.5km!