• The Umbrella Mom

42.2km: Barcelona Marathon 2019

Updated: Mar 16, 2019

Even writing that title feels like an achievement!

I finally made it....to the start line of my first marathon. With many doubtful moments in the prior months, from a recurring foot injury to catching every illness my daughter brought home from P3, I was just happy to get to the start line. In the run up to it I was relaxed - my goals were shifted with a reality to: a) get to the start line on Sunday 10th March and b) sometime that afternoon, cross the finish line.

We spent the prior afternoon attending the Kids Races. Being a marathon event, the kids races were 600 metres for my 5 year old, 400 metres for my 3 year old. The previous weekend, on a test run, my son managed 140 metres and my daughter 70 metres. So the mantra was run slow and steady, keep their energy for the distance. My daughter entertained the masses, coming in final position, but following the little girl in front of her on every step: if she moved left, my daughter moved left. If she ran right, my daughter ran right. When she finished, exhausted, she said to me "And mommy, I didn´t walk. I kept running." I would take those words to inspire me the next day!

Race morning: I was kitted out in my transforming running wardrobe (now added: kinesology tape and compression socks!). Not wanting to try new gear in the final weeks, I wore leggings, as this is what I was training in. And so I knew I would be overdressed for the weather promised of 20 degrees C, but like it or not, it was better than the Casteldelfells Half Marathon experience, where I ended up in the Medical tent afterwards: bloodied and torn from the chaffing (read more here)!

My husband was running with me: his 20th, my 1st marathon. We were literally the final 20 people of the 16000+ racing, as this is where I am most comfortable, even before I start. We departed around 8.50am, 20 minutes after the elites departed. So there wasn´t too much waiting around.

My only worry at the start line was where I could use the facilities along the way. But I need not have worried. This was one of the best organised races I have attended. I only used the facilities once, but there were portaloos starting from 1km and approx. every 2.5km. Refreshment stations started at 5km and were every 2.5km, carrying water and Poweraid, with fruit and gels dispersed at various points. Even though we were in the final 1000 or so people, there was ample supplies of everything.

Again, like in the half marathon (see here), my GPS tracking really threw me off in this race. I was quickly gaining metres throughout the race, from the very start, and by the end, finished over 45km (so you could say I ran my first ultra marathon that day....lol!) I also thought, from the watch, my average pace was 6min30 for the first 5km, when in fact it was 7min. If I had known it was 7min, I would have felt I had taken it nice and easy, and approached things differently in the next 5km. But thinking I had gone out a bit too fast to hold the pace, I was slowing myself down. So much for the Garmin Fenix 5!

And then I hit the wall early. 7km. I got nausea, stitches and was doing my best to run through them. I didn´t tell my husband - telling him would be acknowledging there could be a showstopper. So I pushed through.

Just after Sagrada Familia, around 14km, I passed a friend and we called out to each other; I really wanted to tell her how bad I felt, but thought better of it to avoid impacting her race. Seeing her was a boost; we met through the Casteldelfells half marathon (both a first for us last October) and we were sharing another "first" in the marathon. We are very similiar in our pace and goals, so knowing we were close to each other, helped me know things were going on track.

But then we hit Av Meridiana. A slow, gradual uphill for 1-2km, in the blazing sun, which would destroy any positive soul! At this point, my husband was suffering from a recurring injury, but I waved him off as I just wanted to vomit on the street. We kept pushing forward, without talking to each other, as I am sure one could have encouraged the other to jump on the nearest metro and go home! But we both took some inspiration as we passed Can Drago around 17km, remembering his 100km/12 hour achievement just 3 months before.

Once in a Lifetime: 4 Marathon medals in our home

When we were finally on the return leg of Av Meridiana, around 20km, I used the portaloo. While being at the back of a race brings advantages with zero toilet queues, the state of the portaloo just brought dismay! My stomach was turning. When I exited the portaloo I was doubled over outside, making vomiting noises, much to the amusement of my husband,

It was not a good omen. At 22km, I had to finally stop running and make a decision: If I kept running, I felt I would not finish the race. So I decided I would power walk. And so, from 22km to 42.2km, we combined power walking with running (90% walking), and eventually crossed the finish line clocking a race time of 5 hours 20 minutes.

Receiving my first marathon medal, - with all sorts of highs and lows - was special. Placing all 4 medals together that evening, there was a sense that this was a treasured moment, maybe even once in a lifetime, that will only be matched if someday we all run the 42.2km together!!

My Strava record of the race...Fenix 5 jumping around on Av Diagonal

Refuel Stops: starting at 5km, every 2.5km. Superb. Water, Poweraid, with fruit, gels dispersed

Inclines: gradual to Camp Nou, Av Meridiana, short inclines onto Gran Via in Poblenou and to the beaches, and then the final 500m to the finish line

Course Design: This was a single loop of the city.

Race Entertainment: Starting around 7km, and probably every 1km.

Facilities: Bag drop off seemed to be well organised. There were plenty toilets available at the start line, long queues but helped by separate urinals. Toilets en route starting at 1km. Every 2.5km at least 2 or more portaloos.

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