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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’ll be recapping the rest of the trip in the next few days 🙂
–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!)