• The Umbrella Mom

21.1km: Barcelona Half Marathon 2019

Updated: Feb 26, 2019

10 days before the Barcelona Half I was, literally, crying on Rambla Prim at 7:30am in the morning as I couldn´t run past 4km with my foot injury. My dreams of the Barcelona Half, let alone the Barcelona Marathon, were slipping quickly away with 6 weeks of foot injury curtailing training plans.

I find it difficult to not do something I have planned.....otherwise, I´d have thrown in the running towel long before. Some stories along the journey to the marathon I could publish, other ones are too personal to publish, but the combination of them all has taught me that getting to the start line of the Barcelona Marathon on March 10th is the greatest achievement I will have. Crossing the finish line 5 hours or so afterwards will be a reflecton of the hard work, but we can´t always control getting to the start line of a marathon. So that was my focus: I had to run the Barcelona half in 10 days or the marathon 5 weeks later was over.

So on the advise of my husband, with 1 week to the half marathon, I purchased compression socks the next day. I had already organised (after 3 weeks going back and forth with my broken spanish) the physio for the next Monday. Clutching at straws, I also booked an appointment with another highly recommended physio in Poblenou for the Tuesday (thanks to one of my work colleagues!). With the compression socks enabling a 21km run 2 days after my Rambla Prim breakdown, to two very diverse physio sessions that week, I was all set to try - foot injury or not - the half marathon on February 10th.

The bib collection point was the Arenas shopping centre. The race t-shirt was good quality and I read on facebook the night before the race that there was a medal for finishers - my first race medal #excited. With a race mobile app available, not only were my children coming to see me as it was a local race, but family and friends could follow where I was - watching 'me' move on the app!

Funnily enough, it was the race I was most nervous before...I think because the start line was walking distance from my home, so there was no distraction of 'how will I get there?' 'where will I park?' etc. It wasn't helped by a lady shaking, from cold or nerves, in front of me as we were waiting to depart. As I realised she was making me more nervous, I found a different position to wait :) With 19,000 runners, it took over 15 minutes from the start time before we crossed the START line, so staying warm was important. Maybe the 'shaky lady' was right after all!

It was a beautiful day in Barcelona: the sky was blue, the sun was shining, there were supporters lining so much of the route. Entertainment was frequent on the route, and there were refreshment & toilet facilities every 5km. We also passed a timer every 5km and as I had linked to the online race app the day before, my Garmin was telling me the race app was updating. It was the first time my family would come see me in a half marathon, and both them & a close friend cycled as I ran to cheer me on. I probably did use some extra energy that I could have done with in the final km talking back and forth with them, but it was wonderful to have them there!

While the GPS watches can be great to pace yourself, I was disappointed to see - within a minute or so - that I gained about 0.3km between the 3rd and 4th kilometre. I have a Garmin Fenix 5, one of the more expensive watches on the market, yet in the city, it seems to bounce around significantly. So even though I hugged the corners on the road, I overall gained 0.9km on the race distance. Most people did gain the usual 0.3-0.4km, but 0.9km on a 21.1km is offputting!

At 3km, I fell into step with a fellow runner, and at 6km, we were still running side by side. This was nice companionship on the run, even if we weren't talking (I run with music), but we would wait for each other if the other fell behind. With his silent support :), I was definitely running a personal best, the run was taking all I had.

I also may have had an unfair advantage. Most of the race was in my Barrio. This could be a good or bad thing, as I also knew every metre of the race - which meant I knew what was remaining ahead when times would get tough!

But I finally hit a wall - not the wall I imagine I will hit in the marathon, but at 18km, I no longer wanted to run. We had a small incline to do by the beaches, and it knocked all energy from me. But my new running amigo turned around, beckoned me to keep moving, and motivated me to continue. I realise I pushed myself too hard when my heart started to flutter around 19km, so I fell into a steadier tempo for the final 2km. I hit 21.1km on Marina at 2hrs 6 mins according to the Garmin, and crossed the finish line at 2hrs 11mins with my arms around my running companion! While I am not running for race times, it is always nice to celebrate a new personal best with 8 minutes off my half marathon race finish time!

Receiving my first half marathon medal, hard earned over the prior 6 months of training - with all sorts of highs and lows - was special. Seeing my children at Arc de Triomf, showing them mummy´s medal, was a moment to treasure!

Comparison of Mitja (Half) Race Times

My Strava record of the race

Refuel Stops: there were really great water facilities at 5km, 10km and just after 15km, with water in bottles. There was also energy drinks I think

Inclines: I only remember 3 inclines - 2 minor, the final hurting as it was at 18km. One coming off Marina on Pallars, a second in Poblenou coming up to Gran Via and the third (harder) coming to the beaches at 18km.

Course Design: This was a single loop of the city, with most of the run concentrated in the GranVia/Diagonal/Poblenou/Ciutdella areas.

Race Entertainment: There was race entertainment in many places; drumming groups, singing groups. I estimate at least every 3-5km.

Facilities: I didn't need to use bag drop off etc as I live near the start line; however, because of this I missed the area for massage etc afterwards, so worth checking out if you enter this race! There were plenty toilets available at the start line, and a single portaloo & separate urinal every 5km. Interesting note: the stewards were letting people out of the waiting lanes in certain places to use the portaloos just before the race. So if you need, move up or down the left side to find the opening.

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