As we enter December most peoples minds are planning for Christmas, present buying and decorating the tree. Not the runners of Telford Harriers, because first on the list was the Valencia Trinidad Alfonso EDP Marathon
The Valencia Marathon is held annually in the historic city of Valencia which, with its entirely flat circuit and perfect temperature, represents the ideal setting for hosting such a long-distance sporting challenge.
The Valencia Marathon was well organised this year, as in years past, and treated runners to excellent goody-bags, including a stunning gold medal, at the finish. The route is mainly suburban, avoiding most of the city, but with a scenic stretch along the coast. Notable sites along the route include the Jardin del Turia, Mercado de Colon and Palua de la Musica, finishing at the stunning Museo de las Ciencias Principe Felipe on a stunning water surrounded finish straight. The route is mainly suburban, avoiding most of the city, but with a scenic stretch along the coast.
With race packs collected from the expo at Museo de las Ciencias Principe Felipe the day before, race day was upon us with an 8:30am gun. So it was up at 5:30 to get some breakfast in and prepare for the start.
As runners made their way to the start, the sun was jusyt breaking over the Spanish horizon as thousands descended with PBs on their mind. The weather was perfect, a cool 14 degrees was set to rise to a 21 max, with a light breeze. The Valencia public were out in force to support the record 22,000 entrants along the way with live music and non-stop cheering that would give runners that extra boost on those tough last few miles.
All 9 of our runners set off with clear plans in mind to get the times needed and completing the race as follows:
5758th place: Steve Walker - 3:27.25
7109th place: Andy Pigg - 3:35.10 - NEW MARATHON PB
7687th place: Jon Edmonds - 3:36.31
14557th place: Stephanie Eggleston - 4:10.58 - NEW MARATHON PB
16801st place: Karen Foreman - 4:25.16 - NEW MARATHON PB
18108th place: Sonia Edmonds - 4:41.25 - NEW MARATHON PB
18370th place: Suzanne Steadman - 4:47.14 - NEW MARATHON PB
18440th place: Matt Giles - 4:50.42 - NEW MARATHON PB
19290t place: Art Zammit - 5:18.23
Lawley Runner Lisa Pigg competed in the 10k race and put in an excellent performance completing the course in 1:01.56.
Each and every runner produce stunning performances with 6 runners securing new marathon PBs including an amazing 3:35.10 by Andy Pigg running his very first marathon!
Stephanie Eggleston, posting a marathon best of 4:10.58, a time that was just 6 minutes over the good for age time for her age category, noted down her memories from the weekend in the following blog post:
So… Valencia Marathon… how did that happen? If I recall it was the week after the London Marathon that I saw a post from the Queen of Marathons, Sonia about the Valencia Marathon after a positive experience the previous year.
How better to get over the post Marathon blues than to book the next one and a winter Marathon in the sunshine!
Fast forwarding 8 months, lots of training, achy muscles, regular trouble shooting massages from the wonderful Angela and an average of 30 to 40 miles running a week, I find myself early one sunny morning at the start line in the beautiful city of Valencia ready to run a Marathon. My goal was to run between 9 and 9.45 minute paced miles and running to feel. A rather successful half Marathon in Manchester 7 weeks previously had given me the confidence that I could push it a little and to see what could be possible.
The start was quite crowded so I went with the flow completing my first mile at about 9.30 pace which was comfortable and a good warm up for the task ahead. The ‘pack’ dispersed a bit during the 2nd mile and I was able to push a little harder to find my ‘on a mission’ pace. The next few miles ticked off nicely, lots of interesting things to see in the beautiful city and some even more interesting things on the route – someone running with a pineapple on his head, a man with a full open bottle of coke on his head and some cave men who were oscillating through the race with their clubs, randomly roaring loudly, causing heart rates to rise even more!!! There were other sights that perhaps would not be too polite to describe here!
The miles ticked off and I was surprised that I was maintaining my pace comfortably – I remember describing a particularly enjoyable long Sunday run to my Coach, Steve, as a routine of pitter-patter of footsteps, gentle light breathing and awareness of birdsong in the trees. The first half of this race I could even compare to that – no birdsong unfortunately - too many cave men and the very welcome cheering from the supportive crowds. Nonetheless I was feeling good and in control of my race.
An hour and a half passed and it was time to start topping up my energy so I grab my homemade UCAN energy balls and start nibbling – yum yum!
The half marathon mark appeared quite quickly and, as arranged, just after I saw the welcome sight of my main supporter waving the green and gold flag. There he was – Aidan – with my little bottle of electrolytes to sip through the next few miles. Hard not to give him a hug but I was on a mission!
The pitter-patter continued, the breathing a little more noticeable due to having to take on fluids and my energy balls but the cheering and encouragement from the supporters louder and louder.
It was about 17 miles when my stomach started to tell me that it was not appreciating what I was sending it. The flicker of stomach cramps were appearing and my stomach not being one of my strongest points being a little sensitive at the best of times, I knew could let me down. So decision time: carry on fuelling and risk the cramps becoming so bad I couldn’t finish, or stop fuelling, draw back the pace a bit and treat the last 9 miles as a fasted long run – I had done plenty of them so I felt that would be manageable in order to finish the race and enjoy it.
I fought the doubts that I could do this, and miles 17 to 21 were challenging, trying to find a comfortable pace and slowing at water stations to gingerly sip some water to remain hydrated.
Did I hit the wall? I don’t think so but I did have thoughts of – “this will be my last marathon” –“ I enjoy the shorter distances don’t I?, I don’t have to refuel during those” – “4 Marathons is enough for someone of my age – people have told me that I am mad running Marathons and I have already exceeded my expectations”, and so on.
I managed those 4 miles somehow – the encouragement and support and chitter-chatter from the other runners around me, the atmosphere, the beautiful setting – there was so much to see and absorb so I concentrated on that.
Then at 21 miles I felt something click into place - the draw of the amazing Valencia finish, the feeling of pride of my 4th Marathon medal, that hug from Aidan at the end.
Mile 21 to the finish was swathed in more support, cheering, chanting and encouragement – enough to make the eyes just a little watery. The amazing turn into the Arts and Science Museum, the sunshine on the blue finish track – 800 metre sign – only 2 laps of the track …. 400 metres …. Let’s ramp this up – I can finish this in style…helium balloon and head held high - let’s go let’s go and……. we are there and the realism sets in.
It had been tough but I had done it and it had been an experience I wouldn’t have wanted to miss. When the tears had cleared I looked down at my watch – 4.10.58. Just over a 15 minutes PB.
As I teach my legs to walk again instead of run - receive and give many hugs from fellow finishers one finisher came up to me and said well done and did I see Art! You can’t run a Marathon anywhere without the famous Telford Harriers name being mentioned! I soon realised that I was in the presence of one of the 100 Marathoners and later found out that her name was Sunny!
There was a small part of me thinking at this point as I was collecting my water and my bag of satsumas – “I get it Art – I see why you run Marathon after Marathon”. Not sure I am capable of that but if I was ………
Medal, water, satsumas, space blanket collected – protein bar sticking to the roof of my mouth - off to collect my bag and get to my phone so I can ring my Coach Steve who I know would be pacing like an expectant Father as he had a few Harriers running the Marathon and he likes to hear first-hand what the experience had been like. Aidan as usual just popped up for that special hug just at the right point and steers me to a nice cool spot and seat to call Steve. I tell Steve that I am not sure I will run another Marathon – I may concentrate on the shorter distances – he listens to my rant but congratulates me and makes me feel 10 foot high!
Slow walk back to the Hotel, inspect the feet, 1 blister and 1 suspect toe nail that had just grown back after its abuse from the London Marathon. I have the longest shower in history letting it all sink in and reflecting on what I may have learnt from that experience – themes running through my head such as:
· I love running Marathons
· I need to re-evaluate my in race fuel vs my sensitive stomach and may need to get some help to do this
· Do not get too attached to my toe nails
· I have just run a Marathon that is just under 6 minutes for a London GFA entry – those SIX MINUTES kept flashing in my head.
· I will run another Marathon
The Marathon distance is a beast that needs to be taken seriously and respected but there is nothing like that feeling when one has been conquered.
Check out the video made by our runner Matt Giles of his experiences