VALENCIA MARATHON 15/11/15
The city of Valencia is wonderful with a ribbon like park snaking all the way through the middle along the site of the old river bed, before it was diverted due to flooding. It is nicely landscaped and has good cycling and walking paths, including a 10K running route with kilometre markers. We have an apartment in the old town near the city centre for the weekend, with all five of us here.
I have trained well for this one and feel in great shape apart from a niggling adductor strain I've picked up doing the last speed session a week before. Sometimes these things go away on race day and sometimes they don't.
The course is flat and fast, not quite as pancake as Berlin or Seville but close behind. We visit the stunning start/finish location at the Cuidad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences) the day before to register.
The finish is along a causeway with water either side alongside the futuristic buildings.
The next day we are lined up at the start under a cloudless sky and there is a minute's silence for the Paris terrorist victims, suddenly marathon times seem very trivial.
All I can do is set off, try and settle into a relaxed gait and hope the injury keeps quiet. It goes really well to begin with and I reach halfway in 1.45 dead, exactly on 3.30 pace. I can't dodge fate though and as the race progresses an insidious dull ache begins on the inside of my thigh/groin. It gradually gets worse without ever becoming really serious or necessitating stopping so I manage it as best as I can, slowing my pace a bit and trying to protect it. In theory this should make running easier but in practice I lose the adrenaline factor a bit when things drop behind any target. The temperature begins to climb reaching 23 degrees centigrade. However - it is a beautiful place, I am privileged to be here and I try to enjoy the rest of the run. In practice it is a bit of a worry and stress about the injury and I struggle through to the end bordering on a limp. I am determined to enjoy the iconic finish though.
I am done in 1.40.03. I find Richard on the grass area and get awful calf cramps for a bit. This isn't the first or last time but maybe my compromised gait has made it worse than usual.
Hugh joins us shortly after and then Pete so we take a series of group selfies in front of the lakes and buildings.
The next day we hire bikes and go for a 20 mile bike ride out of the city on the dedicated bike highway, along the seafront which out if season looks a bit flyblown and along to the ecological lake. It sounds like madness to do this a day after the marathon but it is flat and we are going slow and easy. Cycling doesn't trouble my adductor and it is a magical day.
I've got a special affection for all the places I've run marathons but if you are thinking of a European adventure this is one I'd really recommend looking at.
Looking at the photos and video afterwards of the final straight along the causeway I am doing my best to put in a bit of a finish but I have a seriously pained expression.