With 10 k I suddenly felt I could do this. I was on time. I was nearly 30 seconds up and I was still feeling good. Sure the sun was now up and the buildings were giving us little or no shelter but I felt fine and was beginning to believe today would be the day.
Some 2 and a half hours earlier…
I don’t really remember the start of the Sevilla Marathon. I remember walking in the crisp Spanish morning air with Frances from our apartment and joining small groups to make bigger groups to make even larger groups as we converged at the Estadio Olimpico to drop off our bags. I remember dropping a water bottle and breaking the lid meaning I was down a vessel. I remember realising that I had underestimated the length of time it would take me to get to the start, doing the quickest of warm ups before jumping the barrier and getting ready. But I don’t exactly remember that start.
The first memory and only real memory I had from the first 10 k was having to take a quick break to stretch out the calf. I then remember a part of the marathon where we turned on ourselves and met those running the other way. And I remember looking up and thinking the sky was so blue and that the welcoming shadows cast across the street could not last forever.
My memories really only kicked in with 10 k to go when I looked at my watch at the distance and thought I could do this. Less than a kilometre away having shown me what I could win my body began to take it away and I started to struggle.
As we hit a long straight through the 10 k I quite quickly found myself working harder and harder. Ahead the 3 hr balloon that had started in front of me but was only ever a few hundred metres had disappeared and I could see by my watch I was starting to slow. Then came the Plaza de Espana one of the most beautiful sights in this wonderful city. Except we had to run into it and then around the inner circle. The feeling of running away from the finish albeit for a few hundred metres slayed me and I knew in my heart of hearts the time was up.
While going back through the city centre I took heart from the crowds as I passed my friends David and Laura a little further on, cheering furiously I knew that I was dripping precious seconds that I would never make back unless the last 5 k was all steeply down-hill.
Instead we left the city centre crowds and ran along more silent streets out to the stadium. With three kilometres to go my wheels finally came off and I hit a wall. I knew I hit a wall because I was no longer running. Instead I was throwing my hands and legs in front of me and hoping this would propel me forward. I was not alone but my speed was given away by those who had paced the race perfectly who seemed to fly by. Every so often I would roar forward a few steps as if I had suddenly remembered how to run but no sooner had I done this I would just as quickly forget and I would revert back to a sober drunk trying to race his way home.
Entering the stadium was impressive and that coupled with the fact that having suffered the last three kilometres my watch told me I would at least PB and I did. Less than two hours later my wife toughed it in. No frostbite but painful all the same. Toughest woman I know.
Sevilla – 3 hrs 03 minutes 20 seconds.
Mist rolling in off the river. The castle, steeple and monastery ruins cloaked in haze. And a sun letting us know it would arrive soon I got out with some running friends for the longest run of the year. It was as good as it could have been, despite the first 5k when the hands were freezing, and we even made the last 5k home at marathon pace.