First Official Marathon In The “New Normal”

Today I finished the Lisbon Marathon. It was my first official race of this length since the Covid clusterfuck unfolded (just for clarity, when I’m referring to this as a “clusterfuck”, I’m referring to the way it’s handled, and how the powers in charge are piggybacking this black swan event to tighten control and restrict freedoms and rights, not to the illness itself, which is real and, for some categories, really dangerous).

The last pre-Covid marathon was in December 2019, in Valencia. I’m not looking to improve my numbers, and I didn’t run this marathon to get a better time, but it so happen that I did. Nothing spectacular, but just better than Valencia. Still a long way to go until I get back to the shape that allowed me to finish UltraBalaton in 2015, but at least I’m moving in that direction.

So, if I didn’t run this to improve my times, why did I do it?

Good question.

Especially since I was very close to not running it. For a few days I went back and forth, really not knowing if I’m actually running it. The whole testing thing around it seemed surreal and I felt pushed back. But I’m glad I went, eventually, through the antigen testing and made the effort to get at the start line.

The Nice Stuff

This edition was made under the “edp” sponsorship, which means Lisbon is not a RockNRoll marathon brand. I signed up before for this city marathon, and back then they were under the RockNRoll brand (which still has a number of other marathons around the world). With this change of ownership, a change of course was also made. The initial route was going on the 25th April bridge (a San Francisco type, red metal, suspended bridge) which was one of the key benefits. The bridge isn’t open to pedestrian traffic, as it is extremely high and it hosts two types of lanes, cars and trains, one above the other. I wasn’t very keen to run on that bridge, to be honest.

The “edp” route was significantly more scenic. It started in Cascais and went West, towards Cabo da Roca, which we almost touched, but then we did a u-turn and started going East, towards Lisbon, where we finished in Praza do Comercio. So, the first nice thing was this scenic route. Weather was cloudy, but that was a good thing, it made for a few very interesting views.

Another nice thing was the organization. The race started at 8AM, from Cascais, like I said, but there were trains every 30 minutes from Lisbon (it’s a 40 minutes ride from Lisbon to Cascais) and you could ride for free if you showed your Bib. So basically all the trains to Cascais were filled with runners. Which was the second nice thing. It’s been almost 2 years since I’ve seen this type of gathering, people heading towards the start line of a marathon. Thousands of them.

The Not So Nice Stuff

Being very keen to not lose the train I actually missed breakfast, which means I ran on empty. There wasn’t any food at the aid stations until the km 22.5, where I had half of a banana and a quarter of an orange. Not much, but enough. I got another half of a banana after km 35, and tried to stay hydrated. This eventually took me beyond finish line, but it also slowed me significantly. In the absence of food, I supplemented with 2 gels, something that I don’t usually do. To my surprise, it worked out rather well.

So, that was it. The highlight of this race was not the race, but the normality in which it took place. That normality I enjoyed much more than the race, to be honest.

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