I recently completed the Seville Marathon on February 20th. Myself and the great distance have a painful history. I had completed three up until this point and hit the infamous wall spectacularly in each and every one. I was very tempted to call it a day and stick to the shorter stuff but I’m nothing if not stubborn.
So with Dublin coming a bit too soon fitness wise I decided Seville would be ideal given it’s a nice flat course in a city I really wanted to visit.
I completed a 16 week training programme and got lucky with a mild winter. I felt fit and ready.
My target, as had been the case for my previous efforts, was sub 3 hours.
I ran a very disciplined, controlled race and didn’t get carried away. The distance is to be respected and things can go south suddenly and spectacularly. Thankfully I felt strong throughout and although mentally braced for it, I didn’t have to endure much suffering. However at mile 25 panic set it as I could feel my left hamstring spasm and tighten. Like lightening before a thunderstrike, this is normally followed by a full on cramp.
That is exactly what happened. I was stopped in my tracks with not much wiggle room on my sub three at the side of the road trying to stretch out the leg. I got going again but after a few hundred metres it went again. Another stop and stretch. Full on panic mode: ‘don’t f@#king do this to me’! I managed to get going.
That mile was a 7:30 but luckily I’d banked some time and managed to get to the finish line without further incident. After a lap of the track, I looked up at the clock in the Olympic Stadium in Seville, double checked my watch and felt elation and relief with the 2:59:27.
Really in this sport, that wonderful high from a PB you were desperate for, only happens a handful of times over years of running. These moments are a reminder of why we do it. I was thrilled and savoured the moment by sitting to the side, and watching the emotional reactions of finishers as they embraced loved ones who have shared their journey. I witnessed tears of despair and joy in equal measure all around me.
And a lovely act of kindness from a random spanish runner who noticed I was physically in bits, arrived over to where I sat with a heat poncho, water and a medal which he put around my neck. We couldn’t communicate with words, but if ever a moment captured the unique beauty and spirit of this event, that was it.
I loved the whole experience. The race was extremely well organised and the city is beautiful. Highly recommend it to all of you.