It’s been so long since I travelled anywhere to run. Largely because for the last couple of years we have been unable to travel. The last time was 2016 when I went to Palma to run the Zafiro Palma Half Marathon. At the time this was only my second half marathon and I was carrying an injury. Naively I thought it was going to be fine. I’d even chance a PB. Little did I know how hard it would be and how wrong I was.
Racing While on Holiday
For a start, when you travel for a race abroad and you’re only there for a weekend, there is the temptation to get off the plane and hit the bar. You can do this if you are a seasoned runner not looking for a time but when you’re a newbie like I was, going out the night before and eating and drinking everything I wanted was my first mistake! My second was not working out how far away my hotel was and how much agg it was going to be getting to the exhibition the next day to collect my race number – my family did not appreciate the whole weekend being dedicated to running. Especially when I had sold it as a long weekend with a quick run!
Planning for Hot Weather
My next mistake was not planning for hot weather running. Here’s everything that went wrong!
Number 1 – I ate far too much rich food the night before and chanced a drink or two. This led to a very dodgy stomach the whole way round which involved a portaloo at 4 miles and being sick at 9 miles.
Number 2 – Bodyglide is a must! I think I still have the scars from chaffing in places I didn’t know you could chaff!
Number 3 – Don’t try new kit for a race! The shorts I bought only added to my chaffing horror!
Number 4 – Running with a taped up injury is a no!
In that heat with a dodgy stomach and terrible chaffing, the negatives keep building! This is without a doubt the worst experience of my life, the most painful and the slowest I have ever run a half marathon! 2 hours 38 mins.
What did I learn?
- Respect the heat
- Don’t overdo it the night before
- Don’t run with an injury
- Wear Bodyglide
- Don’t wear new kit
- Don’t make false promises to your family
- Don’t stay anywhere that requires much walking after!
5 Years Later – Attempt Number 2
2021 and a few weeks ago the same half pops into my timeline. As a much more experienced runner I know exactly what I’m doing this time.
- Kit that doesn’t chafe
- No mad food binge the night before
- Stay closer to the start line
- Get race number earlier
- Don’t try new kit
- But the T-shirt (always regretted not getting it last time)
- Don’t overdo it as you have a marathon in 2 weeks – marathon pace will be fine
- Enjoy what you didn’t last time!
The result? – 1:49:12 and no issues! Best race ever. So amazing to see so many runners (all be it in masks) crossing the start line.
The Positives of Running an International Race
Let’s not forget the positives of running an international race however. When you finish, you don’t have to go home and cook dinner. You can go back to your hotel/apartment and relax by a pool (be sure to book somewhere with a pool). This also involves a nap in the shade on your subbed. The swimming pool is a godsend on the legs and you can find yourself a nearby restaurant for dinner. You might feel like you have been through the ringer but at least you’re not going home to the housework/kids/cooking/taxi duties.
How has Covid changed international racing?
We needed neg tests or vaccination status to enter the event area to collect race number as well as passport. We also had to wear masks in the event arena and on the start line only to be removed at 1k! Running 1k with a mask is not the most comfortable experience however, you are so buzzing with adrenaline and getting carried along by the atmosphere so you don’t tend to notice it too much.
It’s also fair to say that the atmosphere was made so much better for the fact that everyone was excited to be back racing. Palma half and full marathon has always had such a party atmosphere that it was so good to be back on that start line with the music blaring. To see people out in the city cheering us on and to hear steel bands and the cheers of ‘Vamos’ was just brilliant.
It is fair to say that after so long without any racing, this was one for the memory bank and an unforgettable weekend. Running an international race is a great way to see somewhere new and make great memories too.