First challenge of 2015 completed. After a few last weeks of doubts and physical problems (patellar tendinitis and one last week with plaques in my throat), I was able to complete the half-marathon without any physical problems, neither in the knee nor due to lack of muscle strength.
The day dawned rainy, and everything seemed to indicate that we were going to get wet, and a lot. But as we approached Malaga, the forecast was improving and we could even sense the sun.
After warming up for a few minutes, we started looking for our pen. First problem: looking for the hares. Inexplicably, my hare was not there, despite being in the front row of the 1:45 crate and above. A couple of pens further on, you could see 4 hares a few meters away from each other, so far away that you couldn't even see what time they corresponded to, and they were placed in the 1:30 crate.
In fact, at km 2 I reached what I thought was my hare, and it turned out to be the 1:50h. Therefore, if I place myself correctly on the same line that separates the 1:45h sub 1:45h from the rest of the race, as the organization asks me to do, I say that the 1:50h hare should be behind me and I next to the 1:45h... well no, strangely enough, I have overtaken the hare in the race.
But this has not been the only organizational problem. The timing seems to have been a disaster. In my case the chip has not been read at the start, so my real time is not my effective time, but from the start of the race until I crossed the finish line, not counting the time it took me to reach the start. But many other athletes directly have no official time, it's like they have not run.
After this little dusting of the organization, it should be noted that the rest of the race has been carried out in an immaculate manner. Many well-distributed, varied and well-organized refreshment posts, and the finish area very well distributed and everything as the canons require.
This lack of organization at the beginning of the race meant that the first kilometer was more complicated. The 7,000 champions who were going to run the race were still very crowded and we each had to find our space and our pace. The start was slow and I completed the first kilometer in 5:19. Since my goal was to run at a pace of 5:00 min/kilometer, I was already starting with time to make up, 19 seconds late. But the race is long, there will be time to do it.
We reach the first big straight of the promenade, practically 5 kilometers that I pass quite fast. I am nailing the planned times like a clock, even when I take water at the first refreshment station.
I arrive at kilometer 10, where I make my first refreshment with gel and a salt tablet, which means losing 4 more seconds between looking for the tablet and opening the gel. I don't worry, my race hasn't started yet but I can't afford to keep accumulating seconds of delay, everything I lose now will have to be recovered later.
The race continued without any major problem. I began to notice my right knee was a little stiffer, but I couldn't expect it not to complain either. The important thing is that I was physically in perfect condition. We began to go into the streets of the centre of Malaga. Without a doubt it was the most beautiful part. The market, the cathedral, the Roman theatre... Unfortunately, the day was not very pleasant and there wasn't much of a crowd, although the encouragement of the few spectators is always tremendously helpful.
I reach the 13th and set a time in the last kilometre of 5:19. The turns and slopes through the centre of Malaga make me relax. I have to keep concentrating and keep my leg cadence, I can't afford to start lowering rhythms and I'm already about 50 seconds behind my target time for that kilometre step. I can't afford to keep accumulating delay or I can pay for it at the end.
But the wet ground and the turns don't help, as any corner a little faster than that can mean a slip and fall. One more kilometre through the central streets of Malaga at a pace slightly above 5:00, and I make my second gel refill. It's kilometre 15 and I'm 1 minute late.
After 16 kilometers, we return to the immense straight of the promenade, there are 5 kilometers left to reach the finish line and it is here where my race begins. We have to take advantage of the width and space to overtake, and above all the good sensations I still had.
It is at this point where I start to feel a slight itch, I lower my head and I see that I am suffering the attack of the classic runner's ailment... "bloody nipples". And I had put a good amount of Vaseline on my nipples. Mind you, visually it was a lot worse than it felt, which didn't bother me at all (and looking at photos, it had started much earlier).
I'm controlling the rhythms, trying to attack 4:45 continuously to make up for those seconds I'd been losing. We reached the end of the promenade and already began to see the stadium in the distance, where the finish line was waiting for us. I pass the sign at kilometre 20, we have to press and give it our all. I'm on time and I know I'm going to make it. Will it be possible to go below 1:45?
I don't do a final sprint, in fact the last 5 meters I relax. But I do get a last kilometer in 4:38. I reach the finish line and stop the time. I don't even look at it, I'm looking for air. As I continue towards the refreshment zone I check the final time: 1:45:00, dive.
I managed to beat the goal I had set at the beginning of the season, which was to go below 1:50 and hopefully reach 1:45 (and I almost did!), but even though for many people that 1:45 is a record, I'm sure that when I tell you that I lowered my MMP by just over 30 minutes compared to the XXIX Marbella Half Marathonjust six months ago, you'll see it differently.
In addition to having reached my goal, those last 5 kilometers have also meant improving my best record for that distance.
That said, the first goal of 2015 has been achieved (and with an outstanding performance). There is still a second goal to be set, to go down 45 minutes in the 10km. I have no idea how I am doing in that distance, it's been a long time since I've trained thinking about it, but it's something secondary. And it is because I already have a date for the big goal of 2015. Date: November 15th. Place: Valencia. Distance: 42.195 meters.
Indeed, my debut in the queen's race will be in the Valencia Marathon, but the marathon won't be on November 15, it starts tomorrow with the first training sessions.