Rock n Roll Madrid, Spain 1/2 Marathon Recap

What a week!

I’m so happy to be back in the states! Traveling is so much fun but there truly is no place like home πŸ™‚

We left on Friday afternoon catching a 12:30 flight from Phoenix to Dallas, TX. From Dallas, we flew out at around 6 p.m. to Madrid, Spain where we arrived at 10:30 Saturday morning (1:30 a.m. Phoenix time). From the airport we took a taxi to our hotel in downtown Madrid.

My husband and I speak Spanish fluently so we were able to communicate with our driver easily and sparked up a good convo with him. He was actually a runner! He asked us what our times were and when we answered, immediately told us we had a lot of work to do–his 1/2 marathon PR was 1:25!!

When we arrived at our hotel, we dropped off our luggage and headed out to find the Expo. After consulting a map, it seemed like taking the Metro was the way to go. My first Metro experience!

The Expo was a happening place and we had to wait in line for about an hour to get inside. Once we did, it was easy to get our bib and race goodies.

I learned that their size medium is actually a U.S. small lol

I learned that their size medium is actually a U.S. small lol

We hung out for a little bit but we were starving so we headed back to our hotel. We ate at a restaurant nearby and then walked around downtown for a couple of hours before we decided to head back to our room and get a good nights rest. We hadn’t really slept since the night before!

We managed to immediately crash as we were pretty exhausted and woke up around 6. The race started at 9 a.m. so we had plenty of time to get ready and walk the mile to the start line. When we got there, we noticed how there wasn’t a whole lot happening and wondered where all the people were at. We walked around for a while and then decided to drop off our bag at gear check. We looked at our map and realized it was about another mile away near the finish line! We immediately bolted towards it–it wasn’t an easy warm-up run either with hills along the way. (A preview of what awaited us). When we got there, we saw that this was where everyone was at; gear check was packed! We hurried, dropped it off, and headed back–it was getting close to go time.

Before the race :)

A quick pic before the race πŸ™‚

My husband was in Corral 2 and I was in Corral 4. I hung out with him for a little while but then headed to my corral with about 10 minutes to go.

The vibe was really energetic. There were people everywhere! We heard the announcer start to count down and then the elites were off! It wasn’t too long after that it was our turn (It turned out that once they said “Go!” all corrals went. There weren’t actual wave starts). So with “Highway to Hell” blasting from the speakers, I began to run.

It was the typical crowded start. I tried navigating my way around people but we were pretty elbow to elbow. I hoped it’d dissipate after a while but it never really did. At mile 3, I was still bumper to bumper with people and knew that any chance of PRing was out of the question. It wouldn’t have happened any way because the course was H-I-L-L-Y.

Side note: There were no port-a-pottys. I mean, there were some at the start line but none throughout the race. Within the first mile, I saw a ton of guys just stop along the side and hang out with trees. It was crazy!

Moving on. Once I decided this was going to be a race that would challenge my hill limits, I set my focus on maintaining a decent pace. I wanted to stay in the 10:00 minute and under range and was able to do that with the exception of one 10:27 hilly mile.

Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 10.25.47 PM

I slowed at each water station and was surprised by something else. They gave out bottles of water instead of water cups. I saw hundreds of people take one swig from the bottle and then toss it. 😦 It made me so sad to see all of it go to waste. When I got to the Powerade station same thing. 😦

At mile 8, the full marathoners separated from the halfs and it was only then that you had room to maneuver around people. Of course by that time I was too exhausted to even make an attempt lol! (Although I did muster up a 9:00 minute 11 miler.)

My new goal was to finish under 2:15 and I could tell that I was well on my way to do so, so I changed my goal to under 2:10. This would take some major mental strength but at mile 12 I knew that I had I gotten it.

I wanted to finish strong so the last half mile I picked up my pace to surge the last bit. Almost immediately, I felt my calves clench and felt intense pain shoot up my legs. It almost made me stop dead in my tracks but I told myself that I was SO close–the finish line was just right there! I forced myself to keep going and I did, grimacing the entire way. I knew that finish line photo wasn’t going to be pretty.

I crossed the line with a frozen smile at 2:08:26. I was incredibly happy with my overall time and pace (9:43) considering the race had started at 9 a.m. (midnight back home) and it being a tougher course than what I was used to. I met up with my husband and he did awesome finishing better than what he expected.

I was so exhausted the only thing I wanted to do was lay down. So I did. For like 30 minutes.

This was only Day 2 of my trip and it was already such an incredible experience. Getting to run a race in a different country was something I only dreamed of doing and it had become a reality. I loved every minute of it. I loved that it was hard. I loved that so much about it was different than what I was used to. I loved that I got to share the experience with my husband. And I love that this will be a memory that will absolutely last a lifetime.



Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 10.26.05 PM

I’ll be recapping the rest of the trip in the next few days πŸ™‚

–Have you ran a race in a different country than you live?

–If not, if you could choose anywhere in the world, where would you like to run a race?

–What’s the randomest/grossest/weirdest thing you’ve seen during a race? (Those guys peeing along the course was just crazy to me lol!)



48 responses

  1. Congratulations! This sounds like such an amazing experience. I so wish I could speak fluent Spanish. Yesterday for Cinco de Mayo my husband was speaking Spanish to our rollerhockey class. He told the kids his name is Piedra in Spanish and told a boy named Dash that he was going to call him Rapido for the day. It was pretty funny.

    This race sounds so amazing and you both really rocked it (excuse the unintentional pun). Great work and now go enjoy the rest of your trip!

    • jajaja!! Your husband sounds like a fun guy! πŸ™‚ Thank you and we’re actually home now from our trip. I had to recover a few days before I could sit down and write my recap lol!

  2. I studied in Spain for a while and this race takes place right around where I lived! This race is definitely on my bucket list. I love Madrid it is such a beautiful place! I can’t wait to go back.Can’t wait to read about the rest of your trip!

  3. Congrats on your race and for killing your 2:10 goal! I can’t believe they had gear check a mile away from the start. For some reason, getting my bag dropped off is always the most stressful part of the morning, but it’s never been that bad. Can’t wait to hear about the rest of your trip. I’ve never been to Spain and really want to go!

    • I’ve actually have never used gear check until that race lol! It was definitely stressful but luckily everything turned out okay. It ended up working nicely because it was very near the finish so we didn’t have a long hike after when we were beat ha!

  4. Loved this recap! Congrats on beating your time goal on a hilly course too!
    I’m shocked there were no port-a-potties on the course, what if a girl had to go mid-race? And that water/powerade bottle thing is very disheartening. I wonder why they give out bottles instead of cups.
    That picture of you on the course is so good- it looks like it was taken straight from a running magazine πŸ™‚
    I’ve never run a race in another country, but I’d love to do one in Tuscany, Italy- it is gorgeous there.

  5. I love that you ran this together! Congrats!
    I’ve never run a race in another country…but would love to, especially with my husband. Maybe England – as my husband’s family lives there.

  6. Yaaay, congrats! I wish you had more of a layover in Dallas though.
    Such an awesome experience. I’ve never run a race out of our country, but I’d love to run London Marathon or the one in France that is famous for all the wine on the course.
    Oh, I’ve seen all sorts of bodily fluids come out of people in races. You pick it, and I’ve seen it. I won’t get into details.
    Great job on your race!

  7. So because of my long moving ordeal I haven’t been able to catch up on blogs until now, and I’m starting with this post of course! Congrats on your finish! That’s such a good time, especially with those hills! And I’m super jealous you got to run in Madrid, I’ve always wanted to go there! I’ll be checking out your post about the rest of your vacation for sure πŸ™‚ If I could run in any other country it would probably be Spain, or maybe England!

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  9. Sounds like a really precious racing memory, especially as with your husband πŸ™‚ I have my first race next month, and I’ve only recently moved to this country so it feels like racing in a foreign country I guess πŸ˜‰ And if I could race anywhere… that’s tough… Hmm, I did recently read about the Great Ethiopian Run and thought it would be an amazing experience!

  10. I’m surprised that they handed out actual bottles at the race. When I was in Europe this summer, I was actually really impressed by the recycling policies. When I bought a Coke in Berlin, I paid a little extra for a β€œdeposit,” and then you return it to this machine that gives you some change back. You also had to bring your own bags to grocery stores. That was Germany and France though, maybe it hasn’t caught on in Spain yet.

    Here in Mexico, most races have little water tubes that you bite a hole in. It’s nice because you can stick them in your bra for later if you want, lol πŸ™‚

    I think races in the States tend to be more organized, but I like that the races here in Mexico aren’t so overcrowded. I ran the Miami Half this year and my friend and I spent the first 3-4 miles maneuvering around people; it was really annoying.

    You should come run a race here in Mexico sometime! They have races nearly every weekend in Mexico City.

    • I so so so want to run a race in Mexico. Where I’m from doesn’t count because it’s so close to the border. The farthest south I’ve been is Guaymas/San Carlos. It’d be fun to do a race there or more south–especially in the D.F. (although I might be scared lol!). Maybe Guadalajara instead πŸ™‚

  11. Great race report Helly! Congrats! I love your running adventures and it’s fun to see what’s on your goal list. Todd and I head to Prague soon to cycle and the Prague 1/2 marathon is the weekend we ride into Prague on our bikes! I can’t figure out how to get there a day earlier to run it and I SO wish I could do both! But, a good reason to go back!
    Hopefully I’ll see you at another race here !
    Mary K.

    • Mary, you NEED to start a blog!! I love hearing about your awesome adventures–Prague sounds absolutely amazing!! I didn’t know Todd was going to cycle too. That’s so awesome! We’ll have to get together for coffee when you get back pleeease πŸ™‚

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  13. Sounds like an awesome experience. I’m bummed that we aren’t going to be doing Dublin in March because of unforseen circumstances, but super psyched to be going to Paris next year….if I can only get this calf under control! Congrats on an awesome time!

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  23. Hi! I ran this race this year and agree 100%. I had a very similar experience. It was a tough, hilly course. I finished in 2:04:28, about 7 minutes off my personal best, and felt like I had bricks for legs the whole way. πŸ™‚

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