Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Rock N Roll Madrid half race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
This isn’t the first Rock ‘n Roll race I’ve done and it isn’t the first half I’ve done, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to finish this race. I had decided to run the Rock ‘n Roll Madrid Half before I started on the new heart meds, but running hasn’t gotten any easier with the meds. And I didn’t get any further than 12k while training. So, I had no idea how the half would go. I could either finish or I could just as easily get swept.
Due to the elections in Spain on Sunday the race had to be moved to Saturday. So, I went to the EXPO on Friday morning. The EXPO was close to the airport and actually easy to reach with the metro. Only from the metro station you needed to walk to the other end of the conference center to get to the expo. Some clearer signage would have been nice.
It was easy to pick up my bib, race pack and shirt. And this time the shirt actually fits (There are so many races where they hand out shirts that are too big). After that there were several nice booths, including Adidas and Rock ‘n Roll merchandise. I ran into Baz and Kaya and later on Ilona and Valerie.
Since the race was on Saturday there wasn’t that much race vibe hanging in the air yet. So when I got off the metro on Saturday morning, I was surprised at the amount of people that were actually there at the start. A little over 30,000 runners were waiting to start the race. The three distances (10k, half and full) were all in the same starting pens together. That did give me the opportunity to find Darren in our starting pen, who was doing the full.
I was in the last starting pen and I quickly lost most of the crowd. The first four kilometers were all uphill and I was really struggling to get my heart rate under control. My body clearly didn’t agree with the idea to go for a run that morning. After two kilometers there was a lady besides me and she was doing the full and telling me she was walking this uphill part, because she wasn’t feeling too well and was already thirsty. I told her that sounded like a good plan and that she should take it easy. But I continued my run-walking. However, every time I slowed down to a walk again, she would be right beside me again and it was messing with my mind. How could I not be gaining on her while I was running and she was just walking?! I knew I was struggling, but still. Until I figured out that every time I started running she would run behind me and slow to a walk as soon as I would too. This was driving me crazy a bit and I decided to move to the other side of the road.
At kilometer 3 you pass the football stadium and at kilometer 4 you pass the famous bank buildings. you then continue uphill until kilometer 5 when you make a u-turn and go back down to the bank buildings again. At this point I decided I needed some music and put on my Aftershokz headphones. Which helped me pick up the pace a little, but I could still hear the crowd (although I didn’t understand much, except vamos, vamos, since my Spanish is basically non-existent) and the bands.
The first band was still playing when we passed, the second one was just playing some music over the speakers, but the thirds band was already packing up by the time the last runners came through. And all the other bands from there on had also stopped playing when I passed. So, not a whole lot of Rock and Roll.
There were just a lot of hills in the course. Not very steep ones. But you would gradually go up and down them. I would try to walk the ascent and then run down again. I was worried I wouldn’t make the cut off, so I kept calculating how much time I had left.
They handed out water and Powerade at the aid stations. Which you then had to throw in the recycling bins when you were done, but unfortunately a lot of runners didn’t do that. And instead of handing out plastic bags at the finish they handed out reusable bags. So, they were clearly trying to think of the environment, which I appreciate.
The hills continued and when you get closer to the finish line you pass the Palacio de Cibeles, Museo del Prado and the central train station. I had my playlist on shuffle and when the finish line came into sight it started playing unstoppable by Sia. And I almost started crying. I finished in 2:54:04.
I did enjoy the half marathon, although Madrid as a city didn’t particularly wow me. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it is just another big city. Would I do Madrid Half again? Maybe yes, maybe no. I did like the t-shirt and the medal though.
It definitely wasn’t my fastest half marathon time (also not my slowest), but I made it in the end. As Rick put it on Twitter, I smacked the odds in the face, and that’s what matters.