The alarm went off at 6am. This was it! The day was finally here and we were very excited. We jumped out of bed after a surprisingly good night’s sleep and started the pre-race preparation we’d practised so many times. Vaseline and suncream were applied, our chips and race numbers attached, a quick breakfast eaten and we were off.
We jumped into a cab to the start line where we were greeted by thousands of runners raring to go. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the atmosphere was fantastic. After saying bye to Bex who was planning to run to her first spectating point ( I was 99% sure she would get lost en- route, I was right) we went for one last loo stop and headed to our pens. I said goodbye to Cristiano, thinking that the next time I’ll see him I’ll have done my 3rd marathon…
I was in the 3.45- 4hr pen. There was an array of nationalities around me including Americans, Israelis and Europeans. I chatted to a few people as we worked our way towards the start line, and everyone seemed really excited. Classic running tunes were being pumped out to motivate the masses and before we knew if we were off.
The route first headed towards the Barcelona Football Stadium. This was lucky as Cristiano had wanted to visit it during our trip, but I’d reassured him that he’d see it during the marathon, so they’d be no need for us to return 😉 The support for the first 10km was quite sparse, but this was fine as I was feeling motivated and knew I’d see Bex at 7km.
Seeing Bex at 7km certainly didn’t disappoint. As soon as she saw me she jumped around like a maniac, screeching at the top of her lungs, “Jessieeeeee, go Jessie, you’re amazing!!!!” and before I knew it she was jogging along next to me, checking I was OK and reminding me to take a gel. Then she was off towards the tube, still waving and cheering as she went, to head to 14km for our next meeting.
The route then took us back towards the centre of the city and with it the crowds improved, as did the scenery. We did a mini sightseeing tour and had a chance to glimpse some of Barcelona’s best architecture, such as the Sagrada Familia. There were loads of entertainment points en route, some better than others I must say, but they created a good atmosphere and got the runners and spectators hyped. The crowds were rows deep in some places, with lots of cheering and whooping, not dissimilar to the London Marathon.
I saw Bex again at 14Km. Once again she was running next to me, holding my water while I took a gel and checking I was OK. I was feeling good at this point and easily maintaining my 9min-mile pace. I felt so much better than the previous year at the Edinburgh Marathon where I’d begun to tire quite early on. I distracted myself by thinking of all the people that had supported me through this marathon training, and how much I didn’t want to disappoint them. I unfortunately missed Bex at the 21km mark but instead saw her at the 28km point. By this time the sun was getting hotter and my legs heavier. I was still on target for sub-4 hours if I managed to maintain the same pace, but I was tiring and the negative thoughts had started to creep in.
Bex started running with me and I asked her to pace me to the end. This may have been slightly selfish of me as I knew she’d already run a long way, and hadn’t been running particularly long distances recently so an extra 8 miles was a big ask. However, I knew she’d be able to do it, and I needed her! Amazingly she agreed and it helped so much having her running beside me.I just concentrated on keeping up with her and made some small talk as I went. The route took us along the seafront now, so at least she was repaid with some good views!
The great thing about having Bex pacing me was that she understood just how hard the last 10km of a marathon can be. This meant she wasn’t too enthusiastic or bullish but just quietly encouraged me and plodded on by my side. I was doing well, and on track for my sub- 4 until we were about 5km from the end. I wouldn’t say I hit the wall, as I imagine this to be when you collapse, vomit, or just can’t carry on, but I definitely hit a fence of some variety. It was just so hot, and I suddenly felt dizzy and sick and zapped of all energy and ability to run. The 4 hour pacer overtook me but I just couldn’t find the extra gear (as Cristiano would say) to keep up with them. It was awful to be honest. I knew I only had 5km to go, but it was the longest 5km of my life! Bex left me just before the end and I hobbled across the finish line. On the verge of collapsing I was rescued by the paramedics who took me off to the side and put my legs above my head. After about 5 minutes I felt well enough to get up and collect my medal and find Bex and Cristiano. It was amazing to see them both. Cristiano had done a fantastic job and finished in 3.32, but was also cursing the sunshine for zapping him of energy.
I’d crossed the line in 04.07.08. Not the sub- 4 I was hoping for, but a PB all the same, and I can safely say I gave it my all!
Overall I really enjoyed this marathon, it was well organised with plenty of water stations and good support. The medal and t-shirt were up to scratch, which is obviously important! The sunshine was gorgeous, but just too hot for a British girl like me. Perhaps I’ll opt for an autumn marathon next time….
Thanks to everyone who has supported me through this marathon training, I couldn’t have done it without you. An extra big thank you to my wonderful twin sister Bex for coming to support us and being the best race spectator EVER. But most of all, thank you to my amazing husband and training buddy, Cristiano, who’s stuck by me in the wind, rain and cold winter nights- we did it!
Good luck to everyone doing a spring marathon… all the hard work will be worth it!