Do you want a gel? No
Do you want some caffeine? No
You look very relaxed. Thanks
What time are you going for? Hmm, I’d ideally like sub 3:30, but I’d be happy with sub 3:40
You are on for 3:15 pace. Don’t tell me that.
Do you want some caffeine now? No, I better slow down thanks.
This conversation* happened somewhere between 30 and 32km with this guy
Seville is a beautiful quiet city where you can get everywhere on foot. The Airport is a €4 bus journey from the town, which never seemed to get busy. Even Monday morning rush hour passes by without notice. I wasn’t expecting it to be quiet so sleepy. Mind you it’s not sleepy at all on a Friday night when you try to get out for Tapas!
I signed up for the race on a whim when I didn’t get into Boston this year, I can’t remember who’s idea it was first, I think Sydnee, or maybe Rhianon. But I joined the bandwagon, planning to target the race, but then I also joined a tri club and started dropping runs for swimming lessons and spinning classes. So my marathon training plan consisted of me writing down goal miles for 12 Sundays in the run up to the race.
I love an early start so an 08:30 suits me down to the ground, I was staying with fellow early bird and multi-day, skort babe Rhianon. The night before the race we got an early night, made peace with our rest day plans, ate lots and drank herbal tea.
Race morning was a breeze, I love a smaller race. No queuing for loos, no queuing for bag drop. Our train arrived at the Olympic stadium at 07:38 and I was in my pen ready to go by 08:10 this included dawdling. The finish is also at the stadium and it was just as easy to collect my bag afterwards. I love a stadium finish, having never been into sports there is something about running through a dark tunnel and back out into the light, the noise, the people, the track, the atmosphere which I find almost overwhelming.
The route covers all the sites of Seville, I don’t remember ever getting bored, or not having things to look at. The map shows it weaving about a lot, but I didn’t really notice this on the day. The aid stations are plentiful and well stocked. Gels were provided at the 20 mile point if they are your bag.
It’s about then that the above conversation happened. I don’t normally talk about times, but in Seville I had a pleasant surprise. As well as my overall enjoyment of the race, the beautiful weather and wonderful company please forgive me while I hit the numbers for a while. My PB is from 2015 when I ran a 3:21 at Barcelona Marathon (also in February) and between then and now, I’ve been nowhere near it, I’d written it off.
A fluke, a perfect storm of conditions that bought me a life time PB to stand for a life time!
I started in the sub 3:30 pen at Seville, hoping to dip under and secure a qualifying time for Boston Marathon. I spent the whole race expecting the 3:30 pacers to appear, as they did in Chicago. But they never came. When David told me I was running a 3:15 pace, I thought he was wrong, I thought he had done bad maths. I had done the maths at half way, and calculated that even with a tough second half of 2 hours, I would get a 3:40, so 3:30 was in reach. But I guess it was my bad maths.
I freaked out a bit, the Clif bar I’d been eating suddenly became a brick in my chest, I let David disappear into the distance and tried to calm my breathing down and get back in a rhythm.
I tried doing more maths, I spent 7km trying to do maths. I have an economics degree, but maths is not my strong point, and you try doing maths after 20 miles. I felt sure I was getting sub 3:30 so got comfy in my pace, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to go sub 3:15. A sub 3:15 would mean I’d qualify for the Men’s Boston qualifying time. And with 3km to go as the crowds started pissing me off and blocking the course while I tried to avoid breaking my ankle on tram lines I finally calculated that I was on for sub 3:20. Again, another brick in my chest. Freaked out a bit, spent 3k arguing with myself don’t sprint yet, there’s still 2 miles to go, sprint and see what time you can get.
The stadium came into view I had about a mile left, I was overtaking men slowing and walking all around me (Only 13% women in Seville marathon. So go on girls, go out there and run it.) I tried to cheer them, but I speak no Spanish. I hit the track, less 400m to go, I put my Forest Gump arms on and weaved the traffic in lane one to get. to. that. finish. Gantry.
I cried, I pulled the ugliest face in the world and sobbed. Men all around me, looking at me like a crazy, I sobbed at them all, no one spoke English. I sobbed, I gasped for breath. I’d paused my watch, but didn’t dare read it. I got my medal and the lady held me (before getting me to keep moving) and talked and smiled at me in Spanish.
Don’t accidentally clear the evidence in your emotional mess Stephanie… I looked down.
We then got processed underneath the whole of the stadium, past sports drinks, fruits, oh those post races oranges, the juice dripping everywhere, a shandy bar. Collected a goody bag and then found my new friend David; I hugged and celebrated with him, his girlfriend and his club in the cold underground network beneath the stadium. The adrenaline wearing off, I started to chill and was keen to collect my bag and call my loved ones.
Lots of crazy brained phone calls, glugging the random drinks the goody bags, the beautiful Rhianon found me sat on the floor outside Seville Olympic Stadium, apparently next to a bin, “how did you do champ?” You can imagine the rest…
Seville marathon, number 14, an unexpected PB, an unexpectedly fast race, and an amazing experience.
*Note, David and his girlfriend Clare were utterly charming and looked after my emotional mess of a self when I found them in the tunnels under the Olympic stadium after the race. David perfectly placed Clare to nip in under 3:15 for a London championship time. The conversation above is shortened.