Tuesday, May 28, 2013

corriendo madrid: part 1 | "¡hola madrid!"

Chances are you already know that I am part of the Kuala Lumpur running gang known as The G’s. Within this tight-knit group each of us has our own unique nicknames, and mine is Señorita G because I speak Spanish and love all things español.

So, it was just a matter of time before I started dreaming of conquering the streets of Spain in my running shoes. Since I’d already run my very first overseas race in the trails of Barcelona back in 2011, I thought why not head to the Spanish capital for my first 42.2K in Europe? And the fact that the Madrid Marathon became a part of the funky Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series last year only fueled my desire further. 

I signed up back in December before embarking on a full-on 18-week marathon training. Besides a short nine-day ban from running by my sports doctor no thanks to a little sprain to my already problematic ankle, things went rather smoothly. I even ran a strong Half Marathon three weeks before Madrid Marathon 2013 and got a PB!

Note that I said “rather” smoothly, because ten days before the marathon my ankle started acting up a little. But not enough to deter me from running my race.

Some of the stuff in the racepack
Snuck in a couple of headstands in the middle of my solo 
acclimatisation run through the gorgeous Parque Juan Carlos I


On race day, I made plans to meet my fellow G sisters, Nana and Shanaz, as well as the latter’s cousin, Nivin, near their hotel so that we could walk to the start line together. 

We made our way to the bagdrop area and queued up. After crawling slowly for a while, the line became a complete standstill. Irritated and cold (the weather at this time was 3 degress Celcius), racers all around us started getting aggressive and screamed out their discontenments towards the organisers. Can’t blame them—it took the organisers so long to collect our bags that a lot of us actually missed the flagoff! It was a royal mess, and the main reason is having all the three categories (10K, 42K and the brand-new 21K category) starting at the same place and time but not allocating separate bagdrop areas for each.

Anyway, once that was settled, us four chicas gave each other good-luck hugs and off we went. I started the race with Nana, and we chit-chatted for a kilometre or two before she went on ahead.

The calm before the storm...
(photo courtesy of Shanaz)

Madrid, as you can imagine, is a charming city and the urban marathon took us runners on a journey through the breathtaking autumn scenery and majestic landmarks that the city prides itself on. Being a football fanatic, I was especially excited to pass by the homes of their two world-famous football teams; we had Real Madrid’s Estadio Santiago Bernabeu and Atletico Madrid’s Estadio Vicente Calderon as our views at KM’s 3 and 34 respectively. How awesome is that!

But, as beautiful as it was this year’s Madrid Marathon presented many challenges. Firstly, parts of the route had us run on cobblestone streets—these were pretty to the eyes but pretty tough on the feet! Also, being the highest capital in Europe (Madrid sits at 667m / 2,188ft above sea level) I found it a little hard to regulate my breath in the beginning. 

It also did not help that the weather was very unkind to us that day. Even though set on the last Sunday in April, when typically the average temperature in the late morning/early afternoon is between 15 to 20 degrees, what we got instead was a super-chilly 3 to 6 degrees throughout our race. As if that wasn’t bad enough, we had to endure sporadic drizzles, and worse still, were forced to battle insanely strong winds that were blowing at 29km/h! As a comparison, the average speed at the airport of the world’s wind capital Wellington is also 29km/h, while the windy city Chicago’s is 18km/hr. 

The strong winds made it really tough to run on flat ground, but joder how they kept pushing me back while trying to tackle the uphills.


Coming up:

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