It’s taken me a couple of days to process the Barcelona half marathon and come to a conclusion about my experience. The whole thing was a huge mix of emotions. I’d be flying high one minute and absolutely down in the dumps the next. I’ve realised that there wasn’t a single reason why, just a lot of little things to contend with.

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This was my first race abroad and on my own. Running in a beautiful city alongside thousands of others felt incredible. Hearing the sounds of footsteps and music replace the usual car horns and traffic on some of Barcelona’s busiest streets was surreal. The event itself was incredibly well organised. Bib pick up was a breeze, pre-race corrals were signposted well and the entertainment around the route was amazing. They had 22 bands including drummers, rock bands, cover artists and even a choir singing Queen. The crowd was also really strong for most of the course, so there’s always plenty going on.

That’s the good stuff, let’s take a look at the post-race lessons.

It’s getting hot in here…

It was 16 degrees, cool by Barcelona standards, but I’ve been training in rain, sleet and storms since November. I had forgotten what warmth feels like. 2km in and I was already sweating and dodging sunshine in favour of the shade. Shorts should’ve been on my packing list for this event, but I’ve not found the perfect pair yet. It’s time to make that a priority.

Niggles, niggles, niggles 

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At 19km my left shoulder and foot suddenly started aching. It came on as quick as a light switch with 2km to go. Maybe I’d been blocking it out? Maybe it was a complete coincidence I felt it so late? I’m not sure. I’m proud of myself for keeping moving but the last stretch felt like a real test of mind over matter. Another trip to the physio is definitely in order. 

Running while on my period 

It’s not something that’s ever bothered me, but this time my stomach was cramped the whole time. Some of that can definitely be attributed to nerves, but the cramps and the paranoia of wearing light coloured leggings, which I never do, wasn’t ideal. The leakage fear is real, folks – I don’t care what those tampon adverts say.

What time is it?

My biggest revelation was that I didn’t like running for a time goal. Sometimes I do, but at this event, it wasn’t what motivated me to get to the finish line.

Don’t get me wrong, time is a great way to measure improvement, but it actually stressed me out quite a lot. All I wanted to do was run for fun. The fact I had booked a race abroad and was about to do it on my own was my measure for success on this particular occasion. When I look back 18 months, I’d never have had the confidence to do that – so I felt like I’d won before even starting. Does anyone else run just to…run?

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Overall I loved the weekend but it has left me feeling really nervous about Paris. At the end of the race, I was thinking “that was only halfway, how the hell am I going to run another 13miles?!” So I’m trying to reframe that in my head and think positive. “You ran halfway, there’s only half to go.” Easier said than done, but if I tell myself enough times, it’ll work, right?!

TRIP INFO

The race
Entry fee: 28 Euros. That included chip timing, medal, drawstring bag, training T-shirt and loads of Powerade, water and fruit at the end.

Flights
Out: Friday 14th February on with Vueling (20:20 Edin – Barca)
Back: Sunday 16th (race day) with Vueling (17:40 Bara – Edin)

Total: £40 return if booked well in advance.

I stayed at
Hotel Colonial Barcelona (160 Euros for 2 nights). The hotel is 10 minutes from the start line and about 25 minute walk from the bib pick up. It’s 5 minutes from the seafront so perfect for your shakeout run the day before.

I ate at
Brewdog Barcelona: My favourite spot for the best alcohol-free beer. Their tapas bar menu was also fab and really filling.

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Monchito Tacos: All vegan tacos and nachos. It’s small and really colourful. Flyers about the local dog rescue are posted on the walls along with opportunities to donate and buy their merchandise. The food is AMAZING. I filled up here the night before the race with refried beans and vegan-mozzarella nachos and tacos filled with cauliflower, tofu, mushrooms and heaps of salad. There’s no English menu though, so download Google Translate or prepare to get adventurous.

We drank at
Satan’s Coffee Corner: Who am I kidding. I’m a sucker for great branding, tattoo style graphics, anchors, art and a great oat latte, and this place has it all. Could’ve easily walked out with a poster, new tote and a book as well as my drink.

Departure Coffee: It’s a bit of a hidden gem this one, but once you’re in, it’s definitely somewhere you could read a book for hours and demolish a cake or two…

Bar El Born: Ah, Bar El Born, or as we call it, our local. Coffee, beers and pastries. We go here every time we visit and was the venue of choice for a post-race drink. They played two hours of The Beatles, the vibe is very chilled out and the prices are nice and cheap. Couldn’t think of a better spot.

Hello there

I’m Gina, a Scottish lass teaching myself how to cook great plant-based grub while learning about our food system.

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