It was early…very early.
It was six o’clock. Or to be more precise 5:50am. I’d had a wonderful sleep in the wonderful hotel in Barcelona and I felt very rested. Breakfast started at 7am and we were there on the dot and first in line to grab a table. I wanted to get a decent amount of food in me before I had to leave at 7:30am but I also didn’t want to be rushing it down in case I got indigestion. It wasn’t my usual pre-race breakfast in that it didn’t contain any meat but it would have to do.
By 7:30am I said goodbye to my wife and set off for the 20 minute walk to the start area. It was a little chilly in my DH Runners vest and I was cursing the fact that I’d forgotten my tech t-shirt but I would be glad I had later on when the sun came up. If I had have brought my tech t-shirt I would have been tempted to wear it but I would have been boiling, but more on that later. Upon arriving I spotted that there was already a large queue forming for the portaloos. I got chatting to a guy from Leeds who said that he’d asked the organisers if there were any other toilets only to be told that there weren’t. 16,000 plus runners and only 9 toilets it would appear that the organisers were a bit lackadaisical when booking the toileting needs for a large group of runners. By the time I got into a portaloo there was no toilet roll left. Let’s just say that I went in with two bandanas and came out with one.
I arrived at the start line to find a few more English dudes having an argument with a steward. Unsurprisingly it was about the toilet issue.
To get the runners underway Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe singing Barcelona were played out over the loudspeaker. The runners were being set off in waves depending on what pacer they’d placed themselves with. The timer had been going for around five minutes before my wave got underway.
As we all set off we were little more than a quarter of a mile into the run before some started peeling off and finding any quiet area where they could have a wee. I did feel like I needed to go myself but it felt a little wrong just going and weeing anywhere in a such a lovely and clean city like Barcelona. I manned up and put it to the back of my head and it was forgotten about with a couple of miles.
As I’d forgotten my charger for my Nike GPS watch I’d improvised and bought a cheap watch for 5 euros from one of the tourist shops so at least I had some idea of what I was doing time wise. I was a little gutted about the GPS watch running out of battery though.
Having got myself through the first 5k, sweating my tits off I was, I thought to myself that I was fairly shifting. The only problem was that it was getting hotter. I thought to myself that once I passed the parc de la ciutadella I would check my watch again and see how I was getting on. I looked at the watch at 10k and worked out I was around 50 minutes (The results later shown that I had hit 10k at 50:58). I was up for it now, the decision was made that this was the one I was going to race.
I was still taking in all the sights though as I went past. The palm trees were amazing and the clear skies were something else. The whole race itself was professionally organised (apart from the toilets) and every three miles there was a different type of band playing upbeat music. Everytime I passed a band I did the running man…to be fair so did everyone else.
I hit 15k at around 1 hour 20 minutes (the results later said 1 hour 17 minutes and 37 seconds) but I still felt ok. I was taking in water at every stop and I’d taken my energy gel at 8 miles. I only had 6k and a bit to do which was more than achievable.
With a mile to go it seemed possible that I was going to be well under the 2 hour target I’d set myself. All of a sudden the runner beside me dropped to the floor and faceplanted the pavement. No-one batted an eyelid though, they all just kept running. I stopped, maybe I could help…I was a qualified first aider after all. Within seconds though a steward and a first aid guy had arrived at the scene and I let the professionals take over. I never did find out what happened to him but there were no reported deaths during the race so I’m assuming he was ok. FYI, I’d ran with him for about 6 miles and he hadn’t take any drinks at any of the last two stops. I cannot stress enough REHYDRATE PEOPLE.
I sped up once I knew I was only 1k out. But the run up to the finish line was so congested that I was unable to do a sprint finish without ploughing through people and probably knocking them over. The crowd were amazing though as they were loud and cheering for everyone as they passed the finish line. Just before I crossed the finish line I thought to myself that my wife was in that crowd somewhere and I didn’t know where to begin looking for her.
My official chip finishing time was 1:50:21…I was well happy with that.
Upon finishing I ended up being ushered through five different sets of gates. At the first I was given water, at the second I was given a banana and the third I was given an orange slice. I was looking around and no-one had a medal on. My inner rage was bubbling under at this point as I starting to think I wasn’t getting a medal. But the fourth gate was coming up, surely this was the medal gate. NOPE!!! This was the chip removal gate. The Arc de Triomf was in sight and the last gate looked like the exit. Suddenly a medal was whipped around my neck from out of nowhere by, what I can only assume was, the medal giving ninja.
I had a medal. A bloody lovely looking medal at that.
Now I needed to find my wife. I had a foolproof plan for this.
I was just going to stand in the same place until she found me.
Fifteen minutes later and my plan was successful. I felt like Hannibal from the A Team. Only I didn’t have a cigar to light.
“Did you enjoy that?” Mrs C enquired.
“I did. But do you know what?” I replied.
“What?” She said in response.
“I want something really filthy to eat now.” Was the reply she probably wasn’t expecting.
Before we went to find something greasy though we had a little photo-shoot at the Arc de Triomf with my newly acquired medal.
I had completed my first run abroad and to celebrate I was having a KFC. I very rarely eat fast food and I hadn’t had a KFC for about five years and it tasted great. Sometimes you’ve just got to be a little naughty.
Within hours we were boarding a plane back to our day to day lives and, talking about contrasts, I was gearing up for the Blackpool half marathon but more on that in the next blog.
Dream, Believe, Train, Achieve