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One month to go for the Madrid marathon, and my mind starts bringing some memories back from last year's event. Last year's marathon was special because it was the first that took place in the city after the pandemic started and because it was my first marathon ever. The event was moved to September, changing the traditional month when it usually takes place. That gave me the perfect opportunity to join after some hard training months.
I have lived in Madrid for a couple of years now; every run and training day, I visualized how it would be to be part of the big event that the city I call my home host. If you had the chance to visit Madrid probably, you would agree that this city has it all: lovely buildings, beautiful parks, different atmospheres depending on the neighborhood you are in, and the list can get as long as you want. Running the long distances each weekend was already an experience on its own.
Waking up early and watching the sunrise as you start your way up from "Plaza de Colón" passing through "Paseo de La Castellana" to reach Plaza Castilla is already a fantastic journey. Many small shops are preparing to open their doors, and the smell of recently baked bread will already catch your attention.
You will forget about your heart rate as passing through "Santiago Bernabeu" stadium will boost your energy. Once you arrive at the Four towers, you will love the experience. After that, running downhill through "Jardines del Buen Retiro" and getting to "Madrid Rio" will complete the journey.
Preparing for a marathon running over asphalt, then through a fantastic park, and then running next to a river with some beautiful views is what I can call luxury preparation. So, after a couple of months of training, I started feeling like: ok, what's next? What will be different on the day of the event? I had already run through the main segments of the marathon, was I ruining the experience?
A big and loud NO, not at all. The marathon experience in Madrid exceeded my expectations by far. After all those long-distance training and believing I had already known all the unique places in the city, the marathon day was just a different chapter.
I had a running nose the day of the event, and I was feeling nervous and didn't know what to expect.
The start line was getting closer, loud music guiding me and setting the right mood. I can still remember warming up and hearing "We will rock you" the right Queen song to give you goosebumps before testing yourself. The event's organization was flawless; they were extremely careful in putting all COVID measures in place.
After the race started, so much adrenaline running in my body made me run very fast, and I didn't notice until the first 10 km were gone. I know it is a rookie mistake, but running through "Paseo de la Castellana" (the street I have been running through over the last couple of months) made me forget about keeping the pace down.
It was a fantastic feeling; so many people were gathering around and cheering up. I felt part of a magnificent event, and the city was playing its role in the story.
After reaching the highest point of the race, I noticed I had to slow down if my intention was to finish the race. I turned my headphones on and started enjoying some good songs while watching friendly "madrileños" smile at me and send me good vibes.
So far, so good; I took the energy gels as planned, I was feeling plenty, but a dark moment started right after km 28. I entered "Casa de Campo," a very nice urban park west of the city, and I started feeling heavy legs. I knew that place; I had run there a couple of times, but none of the time combined with so many different factors.
Could the fast pace from the beginning be already passing me the bill? Most likely, yes, and the most challenging part about it is that even though running through that park is usually beautiful, it was a dark part for me this time. No people cheering, my headphones battery died, a lot of silence, just a lot of other runners and silence. A lot of silence. I was about to crack.
My energy bar was shallow. I started feeling pain in my knees and was just waiting to go back to the city to stop and evaluate if I could go further.
As soon as I went out of the park, the good feeling returned; a friendly atmosphere and so many people cheering up on top of the city's beautiful landscape were the perfect distraction for me to forget about stopping.
Passing by "Puerta de Atocha" train station without feeling your legs, but knowing you only have a few km left is incredible. I think the finish line was where it should be; after crossing it and screaming out of excitement, the cramps started in each muscle of my legs.
I can assure you the city played a significant role in helping me achieve my objective.
It might be special because it was my first marathon, or maybe because I had trained here and visualized the event a thousand times before, perhaps because it is a beautiful city where you never get bored running.
In any case, I enjoyed this journey a lot, and I hope this helps motivate any of you who are thinking about joining the challenge in April; there are a few days to go, go for it and enjoy it as much as I did.
Check our Madrid edition medal here