I’m back at home now but still buzzing from Sunday’s race! 8th place seems a little bit surreal and the reaction back home has been incredible and I certainly didn’t expect all the attention I’ve got these past couple of days. I really enjoyed my few days in Barcelona and the general vibe in the team hotel has been good and it’s great to be able to say I was there.
Picture courtsey of Mark Sherman.
The marathon itself went pretty much went as well as I could have hoped with perhaps the only exception being a little scare at 2km to go (more on that in minute).Below is my race day as happened for those that are interested…
My day started at 6am (4hours before the race) with a quick shower to wake the body up before then heading down for some breakfast. After fueling on some muesli, fruits & yogurt (my usual food of choice, porridge, doesn’t seem be popular in Spain!), it was then back to the room to start drinking my high sodium drink, the idea being to retain as much water in the body as possible. Not especially nice tasting drink but if you like sea water you might like this! At 7.45am we left the room (I was sharing with Dan Robinson) briefly to hand our drinks bottles which we mixed up at the previous night. Then it was back to room to finish off the sea water! At 8.30am we took the bus to the course and headed to the designated athlete area which was located in a local leisure centre next to the start finish area, alongside the Barcelona Zoo. It was then just the waiting game… staying relaxed and most of all cool, which was helped by the wearing an ice jacket for part of this time. The idea is keeps your core temperature down as much as possible so to delay the inevitable process of over heating during the race. I kept my warm up shorter than normal today but I didn’t find temperatures at hot as I expected, I feel good and light on the warm up and I know I’m ready to race. I head back into the athlete area and pop the ice jacket back on for a few minutes. About 20mins before the start we go through to the final call room wear they place our timing chip into the back of our front Bib. A few of us spend the last 10mins to continue to keep the core temperature down by apply bags of ice to our body, then the call comes for the officials and we start lining up to be lead out on the course, it now that things can go pretty quiet and people stay to focus on any last minute race rehearsals in their mind. We have been taken out a little late so there barely time for a couple of strides to keep loose before they start lining us up.
The Race itself…
The plan was to start sensibly and not to run any faster than 2.16 pace for the first half of race and aim for around 3.15 per km. The race starts pretty steady so its means I am able to settle nicely into the back of the field and simply just let the race takes its course. We have to be careful on the tight bends as the first 2km of the race in around a 1km loop before heading out on 4 x 10k loops of the city. The first 10k or so goes off without any major problems, although I am slightly slower than planned but I feel comfortable and feel that the pace is about right. My only hiccup comes when I manage to pick up Ben Moreau drink bottle rather than my own at the first drinks station, fortunately Ben is right next to me so I am able to hand him his bottle. It means I miss out on my own drink which is not ideal with conditions as they are but Ben kindly provides me with some of his drink.
I ensure I make use of every water & sponge station as well as the personal drink stations, conditions are starting to hot up and the humidity is pretty high at around 70% so I ensure to dowse the back of my head and vest with water to aid the cooling process. I get to half way in about 69mins, which is a little slower than planned but I’m feeling strong, at this point I think about pushing on but I decide to hold back for a little longer and it seems by maintaining my pace I am moving through the field anyway. Only 2 or 3 km later Dave Webb catches me and we then start to move the pace on a little, so I go with it and from this point we start picking a number of people off. Towards the later part of the third lap however I start to edge away form Dave after having worked with him for most of the lap.
Moving in the final lap I am gaining in confidence and feel strong. I’m moving past a number many experienced marathon runners (most of whom have much faster personal bests). The crowd support from the British fan has been fantastic through out the race and there are many people I know from the UK running scheme out on the course, during the early laps I acknowledge a few people but later into race I decide to conserve my energy, there was even a Guernsey flag out on the on the course. I hear this made the BBC coverage right at the point when the 2004 Olympic Champion Baldini dropped out of the race.
Going into the last 7km of the race everything seems to be going like a dream, I am moving through the field still and I’m getting good information from people out on the course. I hear some instructions from Bob Smith (our team manager at Newham & Essex Beagles) telling me I am 1min 30 behind Bronze! Later on the course he tells me I am only 1min 20 behind Bronze! However that evening he tells me he lied about that… I was still actually 1.30 behind but he thought that would do little to encourage me! To be honest I needed little encouragement as I can see I am catching others in the race and a top 6 finish is looking possible. Unfortunately though with 2km to go I get cramp in my left hamstring and have to stop!! My first reaction is shit this could really mess things up! There are British supports right next to wear I stop and I sense there disappoint for me. I had been aware that this could happen and with around 6km I took the decision to slow the pace down even though I feel good otherwise, as I sense that cramp could kick in at any minute. I feel strangely carm when as I stop and stretch though, it’s no more than 10seconds before I get going again, all be it at a slower pace to ensure the cramp stays away. It does mean though that I drop one place from 7th to 8th but my main focus now is to hold onto this position. The cramp does fortunately give me no further problems and as I turn into the final bend any pain that I had felt disappears and a huge smile comes across my face, as I cross the line I subtly clench my fist in satisfaction and then enjoy the pleasurable sensation of a cold wet towel place across my shoulders…right at this moment this is bliss.
After polishing off a sports drink in seconds and congratulating my team mates we head into the medical tents, it’s like a seen out of E.R. with athletes laid out on medical beds with drips in their arms and other sprawled across the floor through fatigue. My body feels in bits, I’m exhausted and I’m glad it over but the feeling is fantastic. As soon as we get back into the athlete zone in the leisure centre I locate my phone and call Teresa my wife, I feel pretty emotional at this point and just about manage to hold back the tears, it’s been a long time away from home but the reward has been worth it.
Later once I have got myself some food and I feel a little less dehydrated all I can think about is getting home to see Teresa and Thomas.
Incedently the Guernsey flag that appeared in the BBC courage was a guy called Tim, he approached me in Barcelona aiport as he was on the same flight home. He has family in Guernsey and they sent him the flag to wave at during the race.
Below is UK Athletics race report...
Now however I am enjoying doing nothing... well as little as possible at least. No running this week for me and I'm also making an effort to indulge on the food and drink front for a change. The Commonwealth Games are the next big one for me but right now I'm just enjoying my time off.