Having a race to aim for has been a great focus for our training. As you will see from my “Rides and Runs” section I have been clocking up some hilly miles, often in excess of 70 miles per week. Although I feel strong there hasn’t been much speed work so for the last week before the race I concentrated on staying on the roads and picking up the pace. Lesley’s running has been predominantly on the road and her focus, as we got closer the race day was to increase the length of her runs. This meant 4 to 5 runs a week, averaging 30 to 35 miles per week. On Saturday 6 December, she ran a hard 12 miles and was now ready to taper down towards race day.
A combination of lack of experience of Spanish race entry protocol, lack of distance racing generally and an unfounded feeling of uncertainty (how many years have I been running?) meant that we arrived very early and excited to pick up our numbers (dorsals as they call them here). We collected our personalised numbers and goody bags, found out about the start and finish lines, where we could leave our bags and where the toilets were.
The goody bags, as we’re now coming to expect, were full. 2 T-shirts, 1 technical and 1 casual plus lots of goodies including a whole load of fruit and veg from one of the sponsors (SPAR).
By normal weather conditions, it was cool and the forecast was for rain. What to wear was a challenge. I decided that to run in just my club vest, being a Brit. I should be able to cope with the cooler weather, Lesley decided on a long sleeve thermal under her club vest. In the end, we were very lucky, it was perfect race cool and the rain stayed away.
I was very confident about the distance but less so about the pace. Most of my running was slow, but I was climbing 100s even 1000s of metres each week in the hills. I was hoping to run around 90 minutes and set off at what was a comfortable pace, hoping it would stay comfortable to the end, and that it was quick enough. From memory, I think the first kilometre marker I saw was about 5k and I was a little quick but roughly on target at 20:33. The next 5ks were over 21 minutes each but felt pretty consistent. In the end, I finished in 1:30:33 (chip time), a pace of 4:17 m/km. I was 133rd overall and 2nd in my age group.
Lesley’s preparation was less rigorous than mine, but she was still hopeful to run under 2 hours. After I had finished and found my way out of the finishing enclosure I jogged back to run in with Lesley. I soon found her and she was running well, she knew exactly what pace she was running and was confident about achieving her sub 2-hour target. She finished 542nd in 1:57:16, a pace of 5:35 and was also 2nd in her age group. A good race for both of us.
Keith and Zena Greene had come to support us which was great. The race route was 2 laps that stayed pretty much in the centre of the town so we saw them lots of times. This time we knew there would be a presentation and also a pretty good chance that we would get prizes. We weren’t disappointed. The presentation hall was full of tables laden with food and drink, including beer. There was also a live band playing. The prizes are given for the first 3 in each category and give to you on a podium. It’s quite a big thing compared to the prizes given out at the end of our races in the UK.