Two month long trip under way…

Here’s the story. I am embarking on a two month long trip to South America, but the trip has already started as I have been away from home since 24 Nov. So far it’s been a logistical nightmare only I and only in Europe can do: since 24 Nov, I’ve been to Warsaw, Brussels, Maastricht and San Sebastián (known also as Donostia in local Basque language) with changed airports in Madrid, Bilbao and Munich. There was a plane delay in Madrid, which forced me to stay overnight.

In Donostia I run a half marathon, my 15th of the year, 3rd in Spain and 28th overall.

Here are my thoughts from during the race: a perfect weather, perfect running conditions and perfect flat route. The marathon and half marathon races start together at 9. I locate myself behind the marks 3:30 for the full marathon. In the half terms this means people running here should finish in 1:45. This feels like a perfect scenario for me: to improve on my previous half, run a month ago in Amsterdam in a slow 1:54.

I daydream before the start. Could I take on my best Spanish result (1:49 from Gran Canaria earlier this year), or even maybe my Southern Europe best (1:42:50) from Rome? The starting signal wakes me up: I’m already warmed up from jogging to the starting line. I’m ready, I’ve peed, I’ve drunk enough water, I had a croissant for breakfast over 1 hour ago. Go!

Whatever dreams one might have, it is always a challenge to make them reality. There was a cute quote I saw on a runner’s t-shirt in Amsterdam: a goal is a dream with a finish line. My goal today was 1:45, but the reality tests were only about to reveal themselves. As always for me, the first benchmark is 10k. At 5k I was in 23:11, fast. 10k in 56:24, equally fast. For a brief moment there I was hoping that maybe the 46 minute barrier would fall. It was not meant to be. Still I knew I was running somewhat too fast for the current state of affairs. I needed to slow down.

I slowed down, but I surprised myself that it wasn’t too slow. At 12k I was in 56 minutes, which meant I run 2k in 5:00/km. I continued with this speed, and that included two breaks when I walked while taking in water or other drinks. Once there were also nuts.

The next benchmark was 15k. I thought it’d be amazing if I was here faster than 1:11. Still, I broke 1:12. This meant I could start projecting towards the final outcome. Being under 1:12 here meant a great chance to be under 1:43 at the finish line, and an almost guarantee to break 1:45. So my objective was to attempt to break 1:43. Rome…

I was so hungry to know how I was doing here and now against my March race in Italy I kept on checking my time every kilometer. 16th km- 1:16:40, more or less. 17th km- 1:21:01, exactly. Wow, I am fast today. Rome is no longer in reach, it is somewhere behind me. What’s more important I am enjoying running again! I stop for a few seconds to calm down the head from excitement, and keep the momentum going. 18th km- 1:25:40, more or less. Clearly some of my fastest runs are now in reach. They are: Copenhagen 1:39:00, Piła 1:41:00, and Poznań 1:41:42, all from 2016.

Copenhagen is out of reach, but Poznań and Piła are within reach! Now I try to speed up in a sustainable manner, it’s still over 3k to go. I want to break 1:41:00 today!

At 20th km I know I’ll break 1:41. Here I am in 1:35:10, more or less. But what will be the final outcome? The last kilometer of a half marathon is the longest kilometer, as it measures 1097,5 m. There is no way I could run it in 4 minutes 50 seconds.

I am so happy to finish with 1:40:20. Ahead of the race I thought of 1:45, what a nice surprise. What should I expect next Sunday when I run a half in Viña Del Mar in Chile?

With well deserved medal at the finish line of the 39th Donostia San Sebastián Marathon & Half Marathon

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