Posts Tagged ‘Lisbon Half Marathon


Lisbon Half Race Report – Who’d Have Thought It Would Be So Difficult?

A Weekend Away – Suspension Bridges, Sunburn And A Struggle – Please Make It Stop

It was supposed to be a fast course. Personal Best’s, they said… and like a fool I listened. The run up to the race had been great. Myself, Hauling My Carcass and his LG, in Lisbon, sightseeing and having a fine time.

Sunday morning, and after navigating our way to the start at the opposite side of the suspension bridge that spans the estuary that snakes through Lisbon, the sun was shining and there was an excited, party atmosphere amongst the runners as we waited to start. People all around were in good spirits as a TV crew in a helicopter buzzed overhead and a weird mist engulfed the bridge leaving only random parts of it in view.

I am no lover of heights so when I saw the bridge the previous day, up close and personal for the first time, I was struck by how absolutely huge it is. And how high up we would be running at the start. Fortunately, the sense of occasion got the better of me on the day and once the race started I quickly found a good position running on a strip of metal grating near the centre of the bridge. Every so often I would glance down to see the water about 200ft directly below me through the grate but I didn’t care – I was running in The Lisbon Half Marathon, I felt confident from my training run the previous Sunday, had eaten well the night before and was well hydrated. And then it started to go wrong.

The route over the bridge is about 5.5km until you reach sea level at the other side. That’s about 2km on an upward gradient and then 3.5kms on a downhill gradient straight off the start line. As you leave the bridge, the road veers round to the left, switching back on itself and descending down to the waters edge. Also, as you leave the bridge, the relative coolnesss of being higher up, exposed to the breeze and over water gives way to being hemmed in by buildings and the heat beating down from the sun and radiating back up from the tarmac. Around 7km, my left knee was feeling weak from the ascent / descent from the bridge. Coincidentally at that precise moment, the man running next to me seemed to crumple and he tumbled onto the floor pausing only to collect bits of the Lisbon pavement in his knees, hands and elbows. I stopped to help him up and checked he was OK and then tried to set off again but my left knee felt, well, squishy. And I felt I had no power in it to run. I just decided to keep going, after all, I was only a third of the way round. I was going to run the race and complete it and I was determined not to stop or walk.

The next 14kms were probably the worst I have experienced.

I put my headphones in around 10k to try and take my mind off how wretched I was beginning to feel. If I could just try to run in time to the music… but my legs weren’t cooperating. And it was getting hotter. 18 degrees became 19, then 20, then 21 and all the while the legs were getting heavier.

With hindsight I think i was dehydrating badly as no amount of water taken from the water stations or Lucozade Sport supped from my bottle seemed to be enough. Everything felt like it wasn’t really happening but also that it was never going to end. I fixed my stare about 2 metres in front of me and just concentrated on keeping going. And not crying. I saw 2 or 3 people getting medical attention at the side of the road but there could have been many more as I do not remember much of the last 10k… it all seems to have blurred into one hot, painful, slow shuffle towards the finish. At one point, Hauling My Carcass crossed the road and handed me a bottle of water which tasted like the best water I had ever had. I was convinced he had finshed the race, got a new pb and come back to find out why I was taking so long. I couldn’t understand why I was finding it so hard.

After what seemed like an eternity, I crossed the finish line and wanted to lay on the floor and cry. I felt disorientated and disappointed. I focussed on removing the timing chip from my shoe and then wandered away from the Finish. I found HMC and wanted to know what his time was and how had he finished so early when I had struggled so much… turns out, when he crossed the road to give me the water, he had been running in the opposite direction and hadn’t finished yet. He acheived a personal worst and so did I, coming in a whopping 29 minutes slower than my pb!!!

I was bitterly disappointed that I had run such a shocker but I think the gradients and the heat had both taken their toll. None of my training runs had been in more than about 6 degrees and suddenly I was asking my body to perform at 20+ degrees. I returned home with probably the nicest, matt black medal I could wish for and some serious sunburn.

I barely remember any of the last half of the race… but I do remember one of the tunes that was playing whilst I struggled to finish. It lifted my spirits just a little and, considering my time, seems strangely relevant. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you…

Soundtrack to this post: Kings Of Leon – Crawl



No Power – Miscalculations – Birthday Cake And The Accidental Half Marathon

A cheeky, un-blogged 10k happened midweek (55: 13 so a bit quicker than my other recent 10kms) and a planned 18ish kms for my Sunday morning. As it was my birthday and Mothers Day there was a lot to fit into today, so when I turned on my Garmin to find that the battery had run low, I decided just to run approximately what I thought was the correct distance as there was no time to go back home and wait for it to charge. I was fairly confident though as todays route was to be a combination of a couple of well-trod routes and I just planned to loop around some of the component parts to make up the 18-19k distance.

The last few weeks has seen me increase my “distance run per week” by almost 100% in 3 weeks, so a lot faster than any training schedule would advise, and I have been worried about pushing it too hard in case I picked up an injury. Today was to be no different although I planned to step it up towards the end and then do a final sprint 500m. All was well to begin with. I have found it difficult to reach a comfortable pace and I struggle with the first few kms. Discomfort in the calves comes about 4kms in but I know that it’ll pass if I just keep going. Around what I guesstimate to be 8kms, the running became easier and I was just bowling along, keeping a nice constant speed and daydreaming. As I completed a couple of loops of one part of the course and set off on the homeward leg, I was gripped by doubt that I may have miscalculated the distance and come up short. With this in mind, I decided to add another final loop into the run on the way back home. The last 2 km saw a slightly higher pace with a kind-of-sprint for the last few hundred metres then it was back home for a shower before my parents arrived for birthday / Mothers Day lunch and cake.

A few hours later, curiousity got the better of me and I checked the distance I had run. According to, I had covered 22.29km (13.85miles) – further than the 19kms I’d planned and further than I shall be running next Sunday in the Lisbon Half Marathon!!

So no doubt that I can at least complete the race distance. As for time… I’ve no idea. Todays run was probably 2h10mins. What with little niggly aches and pains+subsequent lack of training, I think I’ll be happy with something in the 2hr ballpark. Sub 2hrs would be great but let’s see what next weekend brings.

Soundtrack to this post: Tiger Lillies -The Dreadful Story Of Harriet And The Matches


sunday sixteen

Sunglassed And Shivering – Slowly Does It – Retail Therapy

Sunday morning. 16kms planned as part of my sudden “upping of distance” for Lisbon. It looked bright and mild. Bright enough for me to rummage around to find my sunglasses before setting off and mild enough for me to contemplate wearing a short sleeve top for the first time this year. I opted for the long sleeve instead and was glad I did as although it was a beautiful, clear blue sky it was deceptively cold once outside. Whilst my chosen route kept me in the sunshine it was pleasant enough but in the shade it was decidedly cool. On recent runs, I’ve been finding the first 6kms quite hard as it takes me a while to hit my stride and my calves seem to be complaining during the start of the run. Thankfully, the discomfort wears off and once it does the run comes fairly easily. Once again, I was planning a gentle run, increasing the distance and boosting confidence. So it wasn’t fast by anyones standards (almost exactly 10 min miles) but once I’d navigated the last meandering, looping bit of the run I finished feeling quite fresh. The calves were tender but I wasn’t knackered… more weary and hungry and wanting to be back at home, showered, warmed up and fed.

I’d pre-empted the sore calves with a visit the previous day to a new triathlon shop that has opened up close to home. I spent a little while in there and was impressed by how helpful they were. They are still busy getting more stock in but I will certanly be going there in future for kit as they seem passionate and knowledgeable about what they are doing. I ended leaving up with some strange compression calf guards which I used on my run and also overnight. It’s difficult to say if they have had any effect on the calves as this is the longest I have run in a long while so some soreness is inevitable but should hopefully see some positive effect over the coming weeks. All I know for now is that they are knee high and when worn with loose shorts make me resemble the ugliest-cheerleader-you-ever-did-see.

Soundtrack to this post: Max Romeo & The Upsetters – I Chase The Devil


unlucky for some

18 Days Later – Been Around The Block A Few Times – Four Cycle To The Sea

But not for me. After Sunday’s Richmond Park 10k and realising that the Lisbon Half Marathon is only 3 weeks away, I decided that I really, really needed to get some miles in. And having completed the 10k with no real problems from the ITB, I was feeling pretty chipper.

So when I managed to get in from work a tad early yesterday, I seized the moment and went out for a run. I’d planned to do a little more that 10k, perhaps 11 or 12 but as I entered the last bit of my 10k(ish) route, the absence of any pain and a second wind that I haven’t felt for a while encouraged me to put in just one extra loop around the town before heading back home. Which tipped the mileage (kilometereage???) up to 13.2kms, which is probably the furthest I’ve been able to run since 2nd January when Hauling My Carcass and I decided to run around Richmond Park and Wimbledon Common in the freezing cold!

And today, apart from a little bit of a sore right calf and a little bit of a sore left foot, I appear to be OK! Now I plan to take it easy for a few days and attempt another longer run on Sunday. I’ll aim for 16kms because then I can do an 18kms run the weekend after (Mothers Day / My Birthday) and be within a comfortable distance of the 21kms I shall be running in Lisbon on 21st.

In other news… I am now signed up for The London To Brighton Cycle Ride as part of a team of 4 “running bloggers”. The other victims are Jog Blog, I Like To Count and Hauling My Carcass. So we will have to add some cycle training to our running if we are to stand any chance of completing the 54 miles. And just to make it interesting, Jog Blog is doing it on her pink Pashley, I Like To Count will be attempting it on a BMX, Hauling My Carcass is on his singlespeed and I’m on my homemade fixie. I’m not sure which is going to be harder, the 54 miles or getting myself to the start on Clapham Common for 7am…

Soundtrack to this post: Spearhead – Red Beans And Rice



Remember Me? – The Comforting Arms Of Regular Employment – Europa Again

Oh dear… It has been an awfully long time since I blogged. Perhaps the longest since I started. But it’s not because I haven’t been running… Oh no!! In fact I’ve done a few runs. And some free weights. And a bit of cycling. And I’ve secured myself a new job. So I have been very busy. Busy enough to not have the time to tell the world about it…

The runs have been slowly increasing in distance since a little sabbatical after the Royal Parks Half. But with a 6 mile, a 7.02 and an 8 and a half in the last 10 days, I feel like I am getting back into the rhythm of things. Chuck in a couple of hours picking weights up and down repeatedly and some more hours cycling around the streets of London on a pushbike and I can safely say that I am no longer slacking.

And this is my favourite time of year to run. When it is dry and cold, cold enough for you to want to keep moving and to not overheat if you do. And the evenings are dark too. There is nothing quite like an evening run in the dark -the 7.02 miler was carried out under these conditions and it was glorious.

So, I have a new job too, which has strangely also lifted my mood. As enjoyable as freelancing is, it has a sense of the unknown about it. How long will it continue? Will I actually get paid? And subsequently, you feel compelled to agree to everything and are constantly on the lookout for the next job. Having a “proper” job again takes away some of that uncertainty. And, from what I’ve been told about the position, it sounds pretty varied so will hopefully hold my attention and give me something to get involved in. There also seems to be a fair bit of travel around the country which should mean that I’m not just travelling to and from an office everyday.

And I’ve booked my first race of 2010… The Lisbon Half Marathon. After Hauling My Carcass and I did the Prague Half Marathon last year, we were on the lookout for another overseas adventure, perhaps with a nice climate and less cobbles than Prague. There are some fantastic pictures of 35,000 runners crossing the Ponte 25 De Abril suspension bridge and on 21st March 2010, I’ll be one of them.

Soundtrack to this post: Happy Birthday – Altered Images

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