10 Things I Think About The Valencia World Half Marathon 2018
It probably wasn’t the best preparation for a half marathon to arrive in Valencia on the Sunday of Fallas. It was impossible and most likely illegal to go to bed before 3am on Sunday or Monday night. On Monday night at 1:19 am they burnt down all of the expensive beautiful arty Fallas statues in a spectacularly noisy pointless fiery waste of money. Wonderful really, so Spain.
2. Vegan Espana
I normally associate Spain with Jamon Iberico but for some reason our AirBnBs seemed to have been located in some sort of Spanish vegan colony. I was pretty a facultative vegan for the week. Vurger is the best fast food vegan restaurant you’ve never heard of with a fantastic avocado and date salad and a warm chocolate brownie from heaven. I informed Gearóid Ó Laoi of the greatness of Vurger but he said that Vurger is the Valenciano for rats guts, poor Garry he missed out big time. The next best place Aloha Vegan Delights had an açaí bowl so good that I often had two per day. Donal Coffey is converted for life, probably.
3. Divert The Lee Now
I think it was a form of torture having to make some sort of token effort at tapering in Valencia. It has the most amazing running park that makes use of the dried up river. They diverted the river in 1957 because it kept flooding just like Cork. If you go on a bit further from the park you can run on the white elephant Grand Prix track by the beach. It makes you want to run 20 miles every day. Perhaps they could divert the Lee through Kinsale and build something similar in Cork, how hard could it be, definitely be worth it.
4. Street Art
I really really really like city walks. I did three in Valencia, they were all excellent and awful preparation for a half marathon. On the first one myself and the other Donal got soaked and walked around with Helena learning about Fallas until we could no longer stick the cold and wet. On the second one I learned that Valencian paella is made from chicken and rabbit and only eaten for lunch. I also met Ashling from Wicklow who is the only Irish person I’ve met who spends more time in Spain than I do. On the third one I learned all about street art and took some excellent photos of myself for Instagram. The street art in Valencia is amazing, Limone’s Ninja is everywhere, I liked the Orwell stuff most. I like Orwell.
I think the expo in Valencia was possibly the most pathetic expo since the expo they used to have in the hall at the Ballycotton 10. Just replace the John Buckley “stuff we couldn’t ever sell in the shop” stall with an ASICS stall and you have a good idea of it. Although the hall in Ballycotton doesn’t quite have the same impressive architecture as the science museum in Valencia. After the number collection we went to the science museum where I got to ride a dinosaur and do endless instagram stories of Donal and Conor. I enjoyed it immensely but it’s just not the same without tormenting John.
6. Buenos Noches
I think a 5.30pm start for a race is a fantastic idea especially in Spain where it’s abnormal to go to bed before 1am. It means you can sleep in until 11am and feel unsleepy at the start. It does cause other problems though as you have to reconfigure your prerace coffee clearance routine. I just about timed mine right but I had to do a lot of searching for a portaloo five minutes before the start. I followed a guy in a Spanish singlet who looked like he had insider information to a collection of totally unused loos about 500m from the start. A side effect of this unplanned diversion was that I ended up right at the back of the 1:12 to 1:25 pen. It was a big pen.
I think Spain isn’t the same when it’s windy. They even issued a yellow warning for wind on Saturday it was so bad, yes a yellow warning, that’s like one colour away from a day off work, although I’m not sure how a red warning works in Spain anyway. The first half of the half was straight into the teeth of the biting wind, it was both horrible and magnificent to see the huge echelon of runners snaking over and back the road with everyone trying to avoid ending up in the gutter. It was exactly like the echelons you see in cycling races just slower, if the guy in front of you lost the wheel you suddenly had a big gap to bridge. Great fun but not so good for the head. I ran mainly in the gutter and tried to hop between echelons when the wind stopped gusting.
The wind on the way back was the most wonderful thing ever. It literally pushed you home. I had a fantastic idea for a new singlet design for use in windy conditions I dreamt that I had a retractable flappy sail between my arm pits that I could unfurl in a tail wind to get an extra push. It would have made a massive difference. I should go and patent my idea before Nike steal my idea.
I think I felt genuinely sorry for Conor after the race, not the sort of sorry when I’m 10 minutes late for the thirty fourth time of the week, but actually genuinely sorry. I waited for him at the bag drop after the race but nothing arrived. I made an Instagram story to convey my worry to him. Unfortunately the dreaded Exercise related Transient Abdominal Pain got to him half way though the half marathon. We think it was orange juice and not veganism.
10. Coffey v Coakley VII or is it V (no ones really keeping count)
Unfortunately much like most boxing matches the much anticipated half marathon duel between the two fastest running Donals in Cork was a damp squib. The other Donal couldn’t be bothered racing so I had a walkover which I happily accepted. He probably would have run 77 anyway.