Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Reflections, Once More

I will have one more look back at the Spartathlon before moving on. Since I am still not running, I have nothing else to write about anyway.

I had a look at the intermediate results from the major CPs (the ones with an electronic timing mat). My positions in the race at those points were:

CP   km   place
 4   19   269
11   42   196
22   81   119
28   100  106
35   124   91 (halfway)
47   159   78
52   172   74
60   195   64
69   227   71
75   246   73 (the end)

As you can see, after starting at a very measured pace I gradually worked my way through the field for most of the race. Around CP60 (almost 200k) I was at my best position before gradually sliding back once more. I was still further up the field at the end than I had been at the mountain (CP48 is at the top), though.

Nestani, after the mountain
One thing that struck me when I looked at things more closely was that it took me almost 3 hours to cover the 24 km from 100 to halfway (CP 28 to 35). That's 12:25 pace, almost crawling! I was not aware that I had slowed down so much - I overtook quite a few runners on that stretch and I built up a solid cushion on the cut-offs, so that slow pace came as a surprise. I know this was steadily uphill, which explains some of it, but on the other hand the temperatures dropped back to much more reasonable levels which should have helped. I think my loss of fitness due to lack of training during the summer really caught up with me on that section,. I'm sure there is plenty of room for improvement on those miles alone.

During the post-race celebrations on Monday they showed a video from this year's race. I was totally taken aback by the shots of Katalina Nagy running up the final mountain. I was completely dead on my feet at that point - not only was she running, she was running hard! Unbelievable! I'm not a bad ultra runner but that really drove home the difference between also-runs like myself and the top, top runners.

with the kids of Sparta as our escort
I read on one of the British runners' race report that the temperatures went over 30 degrees on Friday. I don't know if that is true (forecast was 28) but it would not surprise me - it really felt rather hot to someone accustomed to Irish weather and temperatures. However, I can warmly* recommend the hot weather adaptation training I had done in the 2 or 3 weeks beforehand. I could definitely sense that it made a big difference.

The obligatory manhug from Don
One thing that stuck with me is that the race itself was superbly organised but some of the surrounding events were not. The bus transfer from Sparta to our hotel in Gytheio stopped at 5, which doesn't make any sense whatsoever as the race does not even finish until 6. The lunch in Sparta on Sunday was chaotic and the ceremony in Athens on Monday half an hour sooner than stated on their website (and I wasn't the only one who very nearly missed the bus to that one - I'll keep a close eye on their facebook page as well next time**). However, as long as the organisation of the race itself remains as good, I can live with the rest. It is actually amazingly good value. The €450 entry fee includes accommodation, transport and food for an entire week. That is the cheapest holiday in Greece you could ever dream of! And both of our hotels were excellent, the quality of food especially being outstanding (something that could definitely have been improved in Turin).

I weighed myself for the first time on Tuesday morning. Usually I gain a few pounds in the week after a race but my weight is down 3 pounds compared to what it was before we left for Greece. I think something similar happened after Turin. It's not for lack of trying, I sure am not on a diet at the moment and my inner chocoholic is living it large.

I cycled to work for the first time as well this morning, purely to get the legs moving again after what already seems like a long break. I am slowly starting to think about  running again as well. No rush. Probably in a few days.

* excuse the pun
** what am I talking about, what next time??


  1. Ha ha - knew there'd be a next time. Besides, how could you wife pass up such a good value Greek holiday?

  2. Interesting how our perception can be so different from our reality!