Fits Do Race Reviews: The Barcelona Marathon

Last Sunday, I completed my 44th marathon, the Zurich Marató Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain.

A full list of the marathons I have completed is HERE.

This was my 5th marathon since moving to London in July 2022; since then, I have run Porto, Portugal; Vienna, Austria; Marathon du Medoc in Bordeaux, France, and the Dublin Marathon in Ireland. It was my 9th non-US marathon (Berlin, Tokyo, London, Antarctica, Porto, Vienna, Bordeaux, Dublin, and now Barcelona!)

This is a recap of my personal experience running the 2024 Barcelona marathon.

We arrived from London late on Friday evening before the race. We were staying at the Almanac Barcelona, which was a lovely hotel. It was centrally located and walking distance from the start and finish of the marathon. They were also friendly (they wrote me a congratulations card and left me a fresh fruit bowl in our room to celebrate after I finished!) Breakfast was included with our stay and it was quite good.

Saturday morning, I did a 3 mile shake-out run (stopping by some of the sites in the process!)

*See the drought alert sign? All the rain on Saturday was a good thing!

The expo was held at the Fira de Barcelona. The marathon had 20,000 runners, which is big, but I couldn’t believe the line at the expo. We had to wait an hour and a half outside in the rain just to get inside!
It was a little strange as once we were inside, there was no security or anything, so the line didn’t totally make sense…

And we did wait in line, so when other people were cutting the line as we neared the front, it was making me kinda mad! Come on people…

Anyways, once inside, I quickly picked up my bib and packet, browsed the vendors, and then left. Oddly, there was no Barcelona specific gear- I would have loved to buy a jacket or a hat or something!

It is also one of the few marathons I have run that still uses a chip that goes on your shoe (that you have to return at the finish.) Old-school!

The day before the marathon was a dreary rainy day in Barcelona- so windy and rainy that we couldn’t even go up in the towers at the Sagrada Familia. But we still could tour the inside. Stunning.

After we met up with my niece to tour the Sagrada Familia, we had a pretty low-key rest of the day, ending with my standard pre-race fuel of a margarita pizza at Parking Pizza. Parking Pizza was a cool restaurant in an old garage; the rest of the menu looked really interesting, but I kept things simple pre-marathon.

I would note that Parking Pizza, as well as many restaurants in Barcelona, didn’t even open until 8 pm, so the concept of an early pre-race meal might be a bit of a challenge. We were there right at 8 pm and ate quickly, though in hindsight, I wonder if the later meal caused my two bathroom stops during the marathon, as nothing else was different. I guess sometimes you just don’t know why you have tummy trouble…

Race morning:
Since our hotel was right by the start line, I was able to sleep in until 6:45. The first wave of the marathon started at 8:30, and my wave was set to start at 8:44 am.

I ate a bagel with peanut butter (that I brought from home), drank some Liquid IV, water, and a cup of coffee, and then made my way to the start line. Dustin joined me for company; when I arrived in the corral area, there was a VERY long line for a limited number of porta-potties. I have heard that scarce bathrooms is pretty common at this particular marathon; I waited for nearly an hour in line for one. By the time I was out, it was time to say goodbye to Dustin and head to my start line. It was nice to have his company while I waited- such a treat. We often run the same races and have to part ways early on since he’s much faster than me.

(FYI- there was also no toilet paper left in the porta-potties, so bring some tissue of your own!)

Race kit:
I wore a lululemon tank top with my name ironed-on, Goodr sunglasses, a Oiselle fly-out sports bra (with a pocket for my phone on the back), Tracksmith 5-lane shorts, and my new Saucony Elite racing shoes (those with a carbon plate).

I would like to think that these Saucony super shoes gave me a little bit of a boost. They may have also helped with my recovery (which was minimal, no soreness post-marathon! I have read that a big perk of super shoes is that they essentially make the miles less hard on your body. Maybe the shoes, maybe my training, either way, I’ll take it! I was not sore at all afterwards.)

I brought several GU brand gels with me and probably took 4 over the race as well as two of the “Finisher” brand gels that they were handing out, and ate all the orange slices. The electrolyte drink was called “Aquarius” and tasted like a slightly watered-down Powerade. I also periodically sucked on salt chews, which I think really helped me since it was a warmer day! I will definitely do that again.

The course:
The Barcelona marathon course stayed within the city and was essentially a big loop, with a few places where we ran several parallel roads in the city. There were some repetitive parts, but I think they wanted to keep it flat and central. This made for very easy logistics if you stayed at a hotel in the city as we did.

The aid stations were a little sparse in the beginning (about every 5k), but were much more frequent in the second half. They offered full water bottles and cups of an electrolyte drink (Aquarius.) They also offered bananas, oranges, and gels at several stops.

The porta-potties were few and far between, which wasn’t ideal…

The crowd support was quite strong! Not the best ever, but still pretty constant. And it was such a treat to have Dustin pop up to cheer for me at 5 different spots! I never knew where I’d see him, so it was a nice distraction to keep scanning the crowds for his face. I will return the favor when he runs London in a month, with plans to cheer for him as much as I can!

The spectators were predominantly Spanish; Barcelona is a Catalan city, so the cheer I heard was “Vamo Jessie” (instead of vamos) or “Allez Allez Gringa!” (fair skinned lady?) It was entertaining. I aways tried to smile and acknowledge any cheers. That helps me as well; looking outwards and smiling keeps me out of my head.

Here are my splits from Garmin:

Mile 1: 8:51
Mile 2: 8:32
Mile 3: 8:29
Mile 4: 8:41
Mile 5: 8:33
Mile 6: 8:37
Mile 7: 8:54
Mile 8: 8:26
Mile 9: 8:30
Mile 10: 9:32 (bathroom stop and I had to wait in line for an open one)
Mile 11: 8:16
Mile 12: 8:28
Mile 13: 9:23 (another bathroom stop, ugh.)
Mile 14: 8:20
Mile 15: 8:22
Mile 16: 8:30
Mile 17: 8:45
Mile 18: 8:40
Mile 19: 8:53
Mile 20: 8:39
Mile 21: 8:41
Mile 22: 8:29
Mile 23: 8:51
Mile 24: 8:57
Mile 25: 8:53
Mile 26: 8:35

Final (0.68 per my garmin, didn’t run those tangents very well, did I?): 7:45 min/mile.

I felt like I had a solid kick at the end! The finisher’s chute was pretty crowded as there were not gates on the sides for a bit to keep spectators back, so they were starting to really crowd us in, but I maneuvered around as many others as I could to let the momentum carry me through as fast as my legs could carry me, at the end of 26.2 miles!

Official finish time: 3:51:11

I was really happy with my personal performance. I felt so strong the whole way, Yes, I slowed slightly in the last 10k, but I didn’t walk or hit a wall, even though it was sunny and in the mid-60F or 17C. My only two miles over 9 min/mile were the two where I stopped to use the toilet. I felt in control and comfortable (and HAPPY) the whole time.

I think the salt chews really helped me physically (I am a heavy sweater) and I drank water and/or the electrolyte drink at every aid station. I REALLY think what helps me is to focus on how lucky I am to be doing this, to be in a new-to-me city, exploring via the marathon. I really love it and if I keep my thoughts positive, it is reflected in my performance. I had a similar race experience at Dublin, even in the pouring rain. I’m an experienced enough marathoner now that I know that I have to be having fun to stay motivated to keep doing marathons, and Dublin and Barcelona were both loads of fun. 99% of the marathon is mental, at least for me. If my perspective is good, the race should be a good experience.

I was quite close to obtaining a good-for-age for London residents (sub 3:50.) I lost 2 minutes in the bathroom, so if I can sort out those tummy issues, I should be able to comfortably run under 3:50.

Easier said than done of course, I still have to actually do it, ha! But even if I don’t run London again while we live here, I won’t be too upset, since I’ve already done it. It sounds fun only because I know the city so well now, so it would be neat to run it again, (I first ran London in 2016, so many years ago) but I am also really enjoying seeing other parts of Europe via the marathon.

Post Marathon:
Post-marathon, I received my medal and a paper grocery bag of snacks. I was pretty hot and a bit sunburned even though I did wear a strong SPF.
I found Dustin and my niece Maggie pretty quickly in the park at the finish.

We walked around the park a bit before making our way back to our hotel.

I quickly showered and we headed up for some pintxos (tapas) and wine at El Xampanyet in the Gothic Quarter. Then my niece Maggie gave us a bit of a walking tour, with a stop at the Cathedral and a “vermuteria” (place to try vermouth, the drink of Barcelona.) Eventually I needed to have a snooze/rest my legs, so we parted ways with Maggie and went back to the hotel to rest for a bit. We did make it out for a late dinner at a local restaurant near our hotel (the food was fine, not great, so not worth mentioning the specific name.)

Monday morning, Dustin was up early to go for a run and I slept in until my Whoop told me I was in the “green” for recovery/sleep. A slave to the Whoop I am now! But it was nice to see that I was fully recovered the next day.

We took the bus up to Park Güell to see all the Gaudí architecture, but unfortunately it was sold out! Post-Covid, they started charging for entrance, and it was booked for the whole day and Tuesday. Quickly we got online and were able to find tickets through Viator/Trip Advisor with a guide for a bit extra cost, but not until 3:30 (it was about 11 am at the time.) So we headed back to central Barcelona to explore the market, La Boqueteria, had lunch and a nice stroll along the beach before heading back to Park Güell for our tour. It was just an hour tour with a guide, who offered some interesting information about Gaudí and the history of the park.

That evening, we met my niece and a friend of hers from ‘uni’ for a drink and to watch the sunset before having a nice dinner at Restaurant Fismuler.

Dustin actually started to fill ill; it was weird because we mostly shared the same meals throughout the day, but something he ate did not agree with him and he ended up having a rough night with a bit of food poisoning. He was in better shape by the morning, but it wasn’t the best way to end the trip.

Even with a little tummy troubles, it was still a really great long weekend in Barcelona with a very fun marathon in there. I really do love marathon-ing! It brings me such joy and is such a great way to see the world. I am grateful to be able to run them; each one is an adventure.

Barcelona is a really cool city; my niece is loving her study abroad experience there and I’m so glad it worked out to run a marathon AND visit her all in one trip.

What’s next?
The Midnight Sun marathon in Tromso, Norway in June! This will be a unique experience, as I have never run a marathon at night. It starts at 8 pm! The idea is that you are running the marathon when that part of Norway has essentially 24 hours of sunlight. I’m very excited for this experience.

(Visited 37 time, 3 visit today)

Credit : Source Post

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