• The Umbrella Mom

21.1km: Castelldelfels Half Marathon 2018

Updated: Dec 22, 2018

So I turned 40 in October. And around July, in anticipation, I decided - since I could suddenly run without any blocking injury - I will train to run a half marathon. There were many doubts between making that decision and finding myself at the #castelldelfelsmitja on a very wet October morning, but I did reach 19km in training (even if I thought I was likely to collapse at any moment!) So here I was, dressed and ready to go, on the morning of October 28th 2018, 4 days after my 40th birthday.

The weather was bad. I mean, unusually bad. We were driving the short trip from Barcelona to Castelldelfels, and really thought the race could be cancelled (maybe not if we were in Ireland, but knowing the great weather we enjoy for the most part in Catalonia). We knew it would be raining, so on my other halfs advice, I had applied vaseline (petroleum jelly) in some key areas (unwittingly not applying enough...more on that to follow....lets say race error # 1!)

You know, I never know what to wear for races, but am learning as I go. And this is why entering races before you do a big race like a half, full or ultra marathon, is key. So maybe I am just a fun runner, finding my way around local races. But the more races you do, the more race savvy you become - and the wiser for the next race. On this day, I opted to wear layers that I could wrap around my waist (while annoying, it is functional!), and so I wore a rain jacket over my running vest, and wore shorts (and thus, race error # 2!) The day was so bad, I never did have to take the jacket off.

I was also learning to fuel on longer races. Local supermarket Consum came up trumps for race fuelling, so I had 2 gels and an energy bar packed - estimating fueling @ 6km, 12km and 18km.

Now, this race has great organisation from one key standpoint: I am someone who, before I leave, want to know where I will park my car, safely and with ease. Anec Blau shopping mall in Castelldelfels provided the parking for all race attendees, and it is also where we picked up our dorsals (race numbers) on the morning. So runners also had full access to the centre's facilities before we started. This was supported by a further 4 or 5 toilet cubicles at the start line, a circa 10 minute walk from Anec Blau.

Once we were out of the shopping centre, all thoughts of keeping dry were gone. Once the race started, it was difficult to pace myself. Everyone was running very fast in comparison to my normal pace, so I found myself the very last person for about 1 km early on (yes, last!), telling myself 'no one else matters but you. Focus on your pace - forget about everyone else. You need to get to the finish line, not crash out from going too fast'. I talk to myself a lot while running - it is something I credit with crossing the finish line each time...mind over matter!

And this is a key reason I will continue to run 5km and 10km local races. It was from going out too fast in a number of 10kms, that I realised the importance of pacing yourself if you want to assure you finish.

But wow, was it wet! While wet all over, focusing on an incline ahead, I put my foot into a pool of water...that was one squidging run up a steep incline, I can tell you! Literally there was water pouring out of my shoes with every step for about 5 metres. Add that to the slight pain I was feeling on the inside of my thighs, which I realised at the finish line to be really bad friction burns (to the point of blood!) needing some medical assistance. So my 2 errors that morning thought me a lot: Lesson learnt on what adding vaseline means - copius amounts needed - and for me, to wear underarmour or similiar under shorts on a wet day!

Refuel Stops: there were really great water & fruit facilities which you passed twice on each loop, so 4 times in total

Inclines: There was one core incline (short but steep) on each outbound and inbound, so we did it 4 times. Then a couple of inclines at the very start of the race, with a small incline as we entered the second loop of 11km.

Course Design: This was a double loop of circa 10km each, with extra lengths added in various spots to bring it to 21.1km

Race Entertainment: There was no race entertainment (music, drumming, etc) probably due to the weather.

With the speed of the race, and finally looking at the finish times, it seemed it was not a day for the fun runners. I crossed the line at 2 hours 13 mins, with the the final person soon after.

Meanwhile, although I was using the yellow chip (championchip time tracker in the region), my friend had the embedded tracker on her dorsal. And her race was never recorded. So while there is video proof of her crossing the finish line, she is not recorded as running the race. It seems the heavy rain impacted the recording systems or the bibs themselves.

So while thankfully my race was recorded, I was incredibly disappointed to only clock 20.17km on my Garmin. Not that we overly trust the GPS for absolute accuracy - as we see on the 10kms I've been doing. But normally the Garmin shows OVER the race distance, not below. So I started to research as my friend did hit the 21.1km. And I discovered that one marshall at the end of Castelldelfels beach stopped us from doing a loop we should have done. We had already done the route once, this was the second loop, so I expected us to do the loop. When he was sending me back up the road I had just came, I asked him twice was he sure, and he said yes. Looking at Strava, he had directed some people just before me incorrectly also, and all runners after me. He was a young guy - maybe wanted to get out of the wet weather. But as I was really hyped and doing well, I would have loved to hit the 21.1km. I have since done it in training....twice....as I prepare for Sitges Half Marathon in January 2019 #sitgesmitja, but there is nothing like having it done in your first race.

Will I revisit Castelldelfels next year? Yes absolutely. I really did enjoy it, and if the weather was well, I can imagine what an even better day it would have been. Happy 4-0 birthday to me!

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