The race had a late start (10:00), so there was no rushing around this morning and we made it down to the start/finish area around 9:00. It was overcast with temps around 50 - another good day for running! We went over to check out the corral setup and were looking at the huge video board over the start line when the camera man noticed us and zoomed in to give me my 5 seconds of fame, which was neat. I walked around a bit with Monte, ran a very short warm-up, and headed to my corral. As in Paris, the corrals were well marked and monitors were checking color-coded bracelets before allowing entry into a corral. I was in the sub-45:00 group, and though my previous best was 45:04 I thought I could finally break the 45 minute mark today and hopefully run close to 44.
The video montage, live music, and cheering crowds leading up to the start were great and it was definitely the best start atmosphere of any race I've run yet. The most impressive thing, though, was the live aerial view taken from beyond the start and shown on the video screen... all of the runners lined up in their purple shirts waiting to run looked amazing! Hopefully I can find a copy of that somewhere online later.
After a countdown from 10 in Catalan, the elites were off. I made it across the start line with about 1:20 on the clock and ran through ticker tape and cheers as we set off on the race. I wish all races had such a great atmosphere to start!
The route was more or less a clockwise loop around La Ciutat Vella (according to the map), but other than a few monuments, I noticed very little because it was extremely crowded and I was concentrating on not stepping on anyone's feet, finding some space, and passing people. My goal was to stay around 7 minute/mile pace, and I managed to do that through the first half of the race despite getting boxed in a few times, running into a barricade (the guy in front of me hopped out of the way with a second to spare but I did not react quickly enough...), and some congestion at the water station. First half: 7:04, 7:06, 7:01; 5K in 22:13.
(I am on the right - women had a lighter color purple shirt - there weren't many around me so I stood out!)
Though I knew it would be longer to run on the left because nearly all of the turns were to the right, I got frustrated running in so much congestion and made my way to the outside of the pack. Much better. (And when it was all said and done it added 200 meters but well worth it) With only a 5K to go and a little more space to work with, I tried to pick it up a bit and start moving up. I saw Monte just after 6K, and that is always a boost. For the first time ever, I was successful at running negative splits in a shorter race, with 4, 5, and 6 in 6:54, 6:52, and 6:45. I tried to sprint to the finish through a still-crowded street, and made it to the line in 43:39, good for a PR of over a minute, and the second 5K (21:26) was only 3 seconds off my current 5K PR! I usually go out too fast knowing it's a relatively short race and then blow up at the end, so it was nice to finally run a smart race and reap the benefits at the end.
Another Arc de Triumph, another fun day, and another PR!
Official time: 43:39
5K splits: 22:13, 21:26
38th out of 3,182 "senior" women (20-34)
Here is the start video from Nike Running Spain!