The Iberian Odyssey



  •   1:37:04! That's a great time, neil, well done! And good luck on chipping a few more seconds off come this Sunday. People keep telling me how much I'm going to enjoy the hills - I can't wait(!).

      The freshness is coming back into my legs thankfully, and I'm definitely not going to over do it this week. I actually had a physio session this morning for a niggly back pain, which hopefully will sling it's hook before Sunday. I'm not too worried about it as I seem to have overcome some pesky injury or other every week for the last ten weeks!

      I'm still not sure if I'm staying in the city or not on Saturday night. The missus and I might stay with her sister in town, but we haven't confirmed that yet. I know what you mean about looking forward to collecting your race number. I'm grinning right now just thinking about it. You've got my description spot on, so perhaps you'll see me.

      So, that's it then. Just a few more days to go. As you've said, if we don't communicate again before Sunday, I also wish you the best of luck for the half, and thanks a lot for you kind words of encouragement.

      Un abrazo

  • Thanks Perezoso.

    Glad to read that the legs are feeling better. Your right, niggles are all part and parcel of running but it was wise to get it checked out by your physio. I reckon you'll be fine with the hills as your training has been up in the sierra where they are unavoidable so you've had plenty of practice. The weather seems to be deteriorating, a lot cooler than recently which is no bad thing but now a 70% chance of rain. We may be lucky as sometimes the rain doesn't get any further than the mountains. Best wishes once again.

    Un abrazo

  • neil jones 26 wrote (see)

    I reckon you'll be fine with the hills as your training has been up in the sierra where they are unavoidable so you've had plenty of practice.

      I'm not quite up in the sierra, but close enough for it to be damn hilly! Here's hoping the rain doesn't make it into the city, but the drop in temperature is a very good thing.

      Well, that's it then. I've just done my last super slow tapering run, I've bought and tested the energy gels, figured out where to apply the anti-chaffing gel and planned my hydration and pacing strategy. I think I'm just about ready.

      68 hours, 56 minutes and counting ... imageimageimageimageimageimage


  •   I have my dorsal: 10054. Happy days!

      I've just been walking around the expo thinking my god, I'm the fattest person here!

      41 hours, 43 minutes and counting ... imageimageimageimageimageimage

  • good luck both of you, have a great day and post your race reports!

  • Good stuff Perezoso!

    Went down to the Expo and got my dorsal for the half earlier today: 15671. Also watched the presentation of the elite athletes, which was fun. A good contingent of Kenyans, some Ethiopian women, some Eastern Europeans as well as the home representation. I'm always a little awe-struck by the East African runners.

    Mathschick, many thanks for your good wishes.

    Unfortunately my nose has been streaming these last few days and I've been sneezing non-stop. Couldn't tell if it was a cold or spring allergy earlier in the week as there were none of the typical associated symptoms with either condition. However, my head is quite congested today so it must be a cold. Luckily there's nothing on the chest and no aching so I think it's only a head cold and I'll just have to see how it goes.

    It'll be quite fresh early doors tomorrow and I'm having a look for an old top I can wear to stay warm before the race starts and then throw away. It lashed down in the city centre last night but it looks like it's going to stay dry tomorrow. Did you decide to stay in the city tonight or making an early start tomorrow?

    Well, your odyssey will be complete time tomorrow. It's a good word to use in a thread like this as I think there's something of a hero in anyone who runs a marathon (if that's not too cheesy!). It's been a long journey for you and I imagine crossing that line will be something really special and emotional for you. Make sure you post a report.

    ¡Que te vaya muy bien mañana!

    Un abrazo

  •   Thanks, mathschick, I will definitely post a report!

      Neil, I know what you mean about the East Africans, you feel like you're in the presence of greatness. I've also been suffering from a streaming nose these last few days, but at least I am certain of the reason. I get hay fever every year, especially now when the trees are pollinating.  I hope your cold is just the head cold you describe and doesn't develop into anything more serious.

      You're right about the weather tomorrow. I'm planning to start off with a wind breaker, which I'll (hopefully) be able to give to my spectating wife somewhere around the 10k mark. If all else fails I'll just dump it. Finally, I've settled on carrying a running belt with five 125ml bottles of water/energy gel mix. The belt also has a little pocket for my mobile in case of emergencies. As I'm aiming for 4hr30ish, I'm quite happy to carry my own nutritional requirements.

      After much uming and ahing we decided to make an early start tomorrow. We're going to drive into town for about 07:30ish and then lurk. At the eleventh hour I decided I was quite nervous enough and would prefer tonight to be spent in my own bed!

      Odyssey did seem like an appropriate word. I just hope those old Greek gods are smiling on me tomorrow.

      I really hope you get that PB you're aiming for and I wish you the best of luck. I'll certainly post a report and I expect to see yours as well!

      ¡Al ataque, caballero!

      Otro abrazo

  • Perezoso, Jim,

    I've just read this all the way though - very inspiring - and now what we all want to know is

    How did you do?


  •   Hi everyone,

      Here's the answer to your question, Stephen: I completed the marathon in 4:48:52 and it was by far the hardest and most humbling thing I've ever done. By 32km I knew there was no way I was going to make my - as it turned out - totally unrealistic target of 4:30:00, but by then I really didn't care. The last 10km was an exercise in pure willpower and my only remaining goal was to run all the way to the finish. Not the hounds of hell, nor all the tea in china would have persuaded me to walk.

      The two halves of the race couldn't have been more different. The first half was spot on my race plan, running 6:18 min/km all the way up to kilometre 25. I felt strong and relaxed, the energy gel/water mixtures were going down well and I even munched on a chewy banana bar just before the half way mark. It was at this point that we enetered Casa de Campo - a huge park on the western edge of Madrid city centre. There's a a few long, shallow climbs in the park and my 5km split from kilometre 25 to 30 dropped off to 6:51 min/km. Initially I wasn't worried, thinking (most unrealistically, I hasten to add) that I'd just up the pace when the next downhill section arrived. When said section did arrive I suddenly discovered that my legs no longer wanted to play ball.

      I must just mention the roller-blading life-savers - men and woman armed with fruit, simple first aid and cans of deep heat. They were with us the whole way administering deep heat therapy whenever called for, and you didn't even have to stop running!

      Things started to go downhill from about kilometre 30, not long before the marathon course started going up. The last 7kms in Madrid are all uphill and people have been telling me for weeks that Madrid is not an easy marathon for an undertrained beginner. I must say, now I'm inclined to agree. By kilometre 32 I was in serious trouble and my pace was dropping fast. I think they call this hitting the wall. I'm sure I've seen that expression somewhere here on the forums ... (!). Thirty-two kilometres is the furthest I ran during training, so I was now entering the undiscovered country.

      I have to mention my beautiful wife at this point. If there was a prize for most dedicated supporter, she would have won it today.  She started off this morning, as she drove me into Madrid, surprising me with an mp3 mix of inspiring tunes. The mix began, with not a little irony, with Vangelis' Chariots of Fire. She then proceeded to chase me around the city using the metro, managing to run with me, waving a You're a Winner placard and blowing a trumpet, no less that eight times. Her support was invaluable.

      Kilometre thirty-two. The death march begins. At first it was merely discomfort, but oh my gosh, those last 7kms were an absolute nightmare. By this time my pace was down to 8:19 min/km and my world had reduced down to a zen-like state of pure pain. One more step. Just one more step. Aaaaah! At 39kms, absolutely out of the blue, I burst into a twenty second fit of wracking sobs. But, damn it all! I was not going to walk, much less stop!

       The supporters in Madrid are fantastic, and I applaud them for it, much as countless strangers applauded me and shouted much needed words of encouragement during those last life changing kilometres. I say, life changing because they were. I found a strength of will somewhere deep inside me that I didn't know was there before today. It's good to know yourself, and today me, myself and I got to know each other a little better. Just for that I wouldn't change this experience for the world.

      Two hundred metres to go. My wife has been running with me for the last 50 metres, but she's had to stop as she's not allowed to go any further with the runners. Only two hund

  • metres but it looks to me like another marathon. I raise a v-sign to a course photographer, he gives me the thumbs up as he takes the picture. One hundred metres to go. My legs are burning and every fibre of my fragile being is screaming for me to stop. Fifty metres to go. The crowd are applauding and shouting me home. My wife's trumpet is blaring. I extend my arms, assuming the classic finisher's pose, head held high, looking to the sky. And that's it. I cross the line. The odyssey's over. I've joined the marathon club.

      My wife asked me if I'd like to run another. "Yes," I said, without hesitation. "But not this year."



    EDIT: Two posts as it seems I exceeded the post length limit.

  • Mate, that's outstanding!  Congratulations.

    Outstanding because you were on your limit and you did not give up.  I know it wasn't your target, so maybe a bit of disapointment, but man, your first marathon was the Madrid marathon.  Magnificent! 

  • CindersCinders ✭✭✭

    Well done Perezoso image

  • Great work, congratulations! Last 7km uphill is cruel...

  • Fantastic Perezoso, proud of you mate! Great effort to dig in like that over the last third of the race. You looked into the abyss and you really found yourself! I know exactly where you were running and it's hard-going, especially after 35kms. It's funny what you say about Casa de Campo as I've heard a few stories of people really struggling out there. In fact, I know someone who abandoned last year's race there, so full credit for keeping going. The emotions must have been immense when you crossed the line, well it sounds like they were during the race too.

    By the way, I've just seen the message you sent me in my inbox. It's a shame I didn't see it earlier as I'd have definitely called you. It sounds like your wife played an absolute blinder too.

    I was out on Calle Alcala (the penultimate, uphill kilometre for readers) for ages yesterday with my girlfriend supporting all the runners. The expressions on their faces were incredible; joy, despair, sadness, the whole spectrum. Heroes all of them. The atmosphere was fantastic. I was looking out for you for a long time but didn't get to see you. I was actually a bit worried about you as I was looking for your result on the race website in the afternoon but everytime I put in your number it came up blank. I was just praying you hadn't had to abandon and thankfully that wasn't the case. We went out for a few beers last night and when I came back I saw your post which was a relief and great to read.

    What did you think of the public support yesterday? I thought it was pretty good, especially between Nuevos Ministerios and Cuatro Caminos and tthen in Calle Guzamn El Bueno and around Bilbao, not to mention Calle Alcala and the Retiro. It was great to see so many people, some with megaphones, horns and even ringing cow bells in one place! Were there many people out spectating in Casa de Campo?

    My race, the half-marathon went ok, although obviously nothing quite as epic as your's! I was still full of cold but didn't feel too bad. Got to 10km in 46:29, so more or less the same as in the Madrid Half three weeks ago, on schedule and ok but I didn't feel quite as strong as in the previous half, didn't feel as though I had as much in reserve as last time. However, I got to the 15k mark in 1:09:28, still more or less on target for a PB. Then when the half marathon separated at 17k all the support suddenly evaporated, not surprising I guess but suddenly it was desolate, and then I had two kms of running into a headwind. Obviously, it was the same for everyone but I got passed by a lot of folk during this part of the race and the last few kilometres were hard going. It was noticeable that I had a lot less for the finish than three weeks ok. Final time 1hr 38mins 18secs, a minute and 15 seconds down on the previous race but not too disappointed as the Madrid Half was always the number one target this spring.

    Don't know about you but the bag collection was chaotic after the race. Loathe to criticise but they were just picking up bags at random and shouting out the numbers as if it were a raffle. Took ages to get my bag back, not great after a race. This meant I missed the final stages of the Men's Marathon which was won in 2:10:37. I think this is a course record for Madrid. However, I did get to see the closing stages of the women's race which produced the first Spanish winner for 15 years. An Ethiopian girl was leading inside the final km but tying up badly and you could see the Spanish girl finishing really strongly. Not bad for a mother of three!

    I hope you're feeling ok today but I imagine you're physically and emotionally shattered. Well done once again, a great effort.

    PS You should be able to see a video of yourself finishing on corriendovoy some time today.

  • Well done Neil.  I imagine its hard going into a headwind on your own with no supporters and knowing that you didn't have to be there because of your time in the Madrid half. So well done again for still going for it and not coasting.

  • Thanks Stephen, nice of you to say so. I was reading some come comments made on a Spanish runners forum today and a lot of people who ran the half said how difficult they found the wind and the sudden absence of support.

  •   Thanks, everyone, for the kind words. And well done to you Neil for battling on. I'm glad you're not too disappointed. You ran a great half marathon only a few weeks ago, so I definitely wouldn't feel bad about your performance last Sunday. 1:38:18 is still a fantastic time, and all good preparation for the next one, don't you think? One of these days, once my body's recovered, perhaps you'd fancy a slow jog around el Retiro?

      I saw on the marathon's Facebook page that they're offering a blanket apology for the chaotic bag collection, so at least the organizers are aware that people weren't happy. Hopefully they'll get it sorted for the next event.

      I'm not going to write too much just now as I'm still exhausted all the way to my finger tips. I've just had a physio session which, quite frankly, made me sick with pain - my right knee is out for the count!

      Note to self: next time, train more!

  • I bet you are exhausted, both physically and mentally. Still, it's bank holiday here tomorrow and Thursday!

    Someone else told me about the apology for the bag collection fiasco. There was a big furore about it on one of the websites here yesterday. Looks like they'll be on it for next year at least.

    Definitely up for a run with you in the Retiro when you're feeling recovered. Or we could run in Casa de Campo and you could talk me through that part of the race, although that might bring back some dark memories! image

    Off to the UK tomorrow till Sunday. Rest up.

  •   Casa de Campo, it is! It would be very interesting to rerun that portion, just to see what the problems were. Doing it one Sunday at a relaxed pace would surely offer some incite that I lacked on the day.

      Enjoy the UK, and I'll enjoy my rest!

      Un abrazo

  • mathschickmathschick ✭✭✭

    just found the time to catch up. Perezoso - well done, very emotional race report and sounds like an incredibly emotional finish. Would have been so easy to give up, so massive well done for keeping going. Sounds like your wife had good fun!

    neil - well done to you too, headwinds are nasty things! 1:38 for a half is a fantastic time. 


  •   Thanks, mathschick, it certainly was an emotional experience. It's now a week later and  - all bar my right knee, which is suffering from overload induced seizure - my body's recovered. It would be great to go out for a gentle recovery run, but unfortunately the gammy knee is going to keep me off the trails for another week, I guess.

      I've already got my sights on marathon number two next year (not sure which one yet), but this time round I'm going to have a year to train, which seems a much more reasonable proposition!

  • A belated thanks mathschick.

    How are you doing now Perezoso? Decided on another marathon? What about some interim races at shorter distances?

    I've got the Carrera del Agua 10k a week on Sunday, a quick course apart from a short, sharp climb early on and a two km gradual uphill stretch from Santiago Bernabeu to Plaze de Castilla. I'm also hoping to do the Burgos Half Marathon on June 16th. I'm struggling a bit for form at the moment but do want to do these two races before the summer break.

    By the way, I've heard some rumours that they are thinking of changing the Madrid Marathon course. Apparently they want to take some of the "sting" out of it to attract more elite runners. Noone's ever gone below 2hrs 10mins on the current course.

    Haven't forgot about our Casa de Campo run. Bit tied up with the above-mentioned races and other commitments in the next four weeks but we'll get something sorted, if you're still up for it?


  •   Hi Neil, yes I'm still up for it, but I too have a few other commitments a the mo', so no rush. I've been completely off the running since the marathon due to a totally knackered knee. Today was my first run since the big day nearly four weeks ago - and today was only 3min walk/run intervals - I felt like a complete beginner again! It was good to get out though, and I hope to be fighting fit again in the not too distant future.

      It's good to see that you're still trying to get the races in, and I've also heard those rumours about flattening Madrid - let's see.

      Happy trails!

  • Hi Perezoso,

    Not been on the message board much recently. Sorry to hear about the knee but hope it's on the mend. Any thoughts on doing any races? There's some good 10ks in the autumn.

    Did the Carrera del Agua just over a week ago and got a PB (43:36), 41 seconds off my previous best. Preparation for the Burgos Half was going well too and then last week they changed the date from the 16th to 23rd June. Unbelievable. Can't do it that weekend for a variety of reasons so mightily pi**ed off at such a late change, as are a lot of other people. Going to try and do a 10k to end the season here in Madrid that weekend and there's a couple of possibilities but it won't be the same.

    In other news, work is taking me off to Qatar for a couple of months from early July to mid September. Think I'll be hammering the treadmill although apparently there's one group that goes out at 5:30am a couple of mornings a week even in high summer. Back mid September.

    By the way, what's your view on the supposed flattening out of the marathon course?

    Hope you're well.

    Un abrazo

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