#286 - Malaga Marathon

Marathon #286 Malaga Marathon done! PB alert! This one was my target run for a long while which I rather messed up by running a few other quick runs (by my modest standards), in the last few months, but in my usual style, a mile to make sure the legs were OK and then struck out for home – 25 miles out and held on for a new PB of 3:28:12 by my Garmin, so obviously very pleased with that. One sub 3: 30 might be an accident but two might be the start of a habit! Lol Many thanks to Paul Allen who tried to drag my carcass to a BQ qualifying time but I just couldn't hold on to him for the last few miles as my legs started to grumble, but hey, maybe next time! No luck in the Western States or Hardrock lotteries so now have to form 2014's cunning plans…


The Malaga Marathon is probably my favourite "near European" marathon, held in December, have always had a good run there and the weather has always been perfect. Add in that its logistically straightforward to do in a weekend, flights from Gatwick and they had a "previous runners" entry of (I think) 25 Euros was always going to be on the calendar this year as long as I was around and legs in an kind of shape. I'd actually targeted this some way out as a PB attempt after Cottonwood Marathon in September, unfortunately I'd rather messed up that plan by setting PBs twice in November, so whilst it was still aiming to be a very hard effort, I wasn't all that confident that it would actually happen, not least as with a course change the layout had rather more hills than before! But anyway off we went VERY early Saturday morning (those 2am alarm calls don't get any easier!) and with our good friends Alex and Heather we headed off to the expo to get our goodies (including two t-shirts and quite a few edibles) and then headed to the hotel which with the new course layout was very handily about 100 yards from the start/finish area! Bit of tourism Saturday afternoon/evening and a decent nights sleep and was good to go!


Previously when we'd done this marathon it had been at a sports stadium out of the town centre and there really hadn't been too much of a set up of stuff there, but now in a little downtown park had a much more "big marathon" feel to it, although this year it had about 2000 runners, far from a big marathon (although up on the 600 or so the first year I did this and maybe 1200 last year). Bit of a chat with a couple of familiar faces, Paul Allen, Tiago and Brian Mills were there (plus a couple of other 100MC types I saw on the course I had no idea who they were though) and before long we were in the pens and set to go.

First mistake I had made was putting in a 3:45 estimated time as was well back in the pens and they got pretty busy which was no fun, mental note made to always put in what I want to run, not what I might actually run!

Took a minute to get over the start line and then spent the next mile plus weaving around folk and basically trying to find a bit of running room. I really like to hit my stride straight up and this wasn't to my liking, (first mile was 7:56) but finally managed to find some space (second mile 7:24, third 7:16), but I think in future I want to be hitting like a 7:00 - 7:15 pace for the first mile, so stick down 3:15 type pen Traviss! Does always amaze me how at mile 2 or 3 you'll fly past someone and you wonder how they ended up in the 3:00 pen when clearly they're unlikely to be anywhere even near 4:00 I suspect (this is worse in US races especially), I've seen walkers at the front...)

But anyway I was soon in gear so to speak and settled down in to it. Music on, head down (incidentally Monster Sport Headphones, so far so good!), it was really quite interesting to listen to Rachel's and Heather's description of the race afterwards, I missed just about everything. Scenery is rarely an important factor to me when running hard road marathons. I was wearing new Hoka Stinson Tarmac shoes too, broken in walking around the city the night before! They felt OK though (ended up with a bit of a blister on the outside right big toe, usual "Hoka Blister" but otherwise OK, aside from a bit of a squeak!)

There were a few little tiny slopes early, but barely noticeable, and a few twists and turns which wasn't great as a few seconds leaked out but once on the main straight road it was all good from there on in, wonder if they might just tweak that next year.

There was an out and back from about mile 2 to 9 so was nice to see the others that you knew going the other way, even managed a couple of high 5's so wasn't totally oblivious to the world! And on I went, felt good, no messing about and just trotting along at 7:30-7:45 kind of pace. About mile 10 I managed to drop my little packet of S-Caps, amazing how much that breaks your stride up, seemed to take an age to get back up to speed again. But hit half way at 1:39-1:40 or so and this was around the "hilly part" (it really wasn't) Garmin has total up of 430' and no mile over 40' of "climb) but just some very gentle drags that sap a bit of speed and the miles crept up towards 8:00.

Was trying to keep under 8:00 but the legs just started to grumble about mile 18 or so and things were starting to slide when Paul Allen caught me up (he was pacing some running club friends) and managed to sit with him for a while which pulled me back under 8:00 miles, but just could not hold on and then finally there was an out and back by the stadium, marginally up hill and into the wind and that was my momentum gone rather. We're only talking an 8:20 mile here but I was working very hard now.

PB was still on but the 3:25 idea (Boston Marathon Qualifier) had faded away. Last few miles were just a hold on rather than a dash for the finish and before I knew it, all done and sneaked in a PB by 45 seconds. Transpires my chip time was 20 seconds over my Garmin time, which was odd, its usually a few seconds but not that much. Good job I didn't mess about at the finish to get a very tight PB (in 2011 I got a PB by 3 seconds here!). Incidentally got ANOTHER shirt at the finish too, medal half decent too, very good value indeed!

Burger King and a huge fantastic Oreo Cheesecake in Hard Rock Cafe (and a fair bit of Heather's too!) for recarbing... the diet starts tomorrow.., again!

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