I am suffering from the Post-Race-Syndrome. I feel empty. What to do next? I am registered for the half marathon in Oslo next fall, but that is too far away. I could even enter Sentrumsløpet in April (a 10K in the center of Oslo) but that is also too many weeks and months away. It is next year, you know. I do understand that next year is less than two months from now, but April?
For now, let me tell you about my trip to Portugal. I need to dig myself into the nice adventures of this trip, get stuck in there, somehow, for a while – to keep the empty feeling away.
So, how was it? For those of you that follow me on Instragram, or is my friend on Facebook, you have witnessed some emotions and pictures along the way. Now you are in for “the true story of my Portuguese adventures” – I guess not too interesting for anyone but me, but hey – I´ll write anyhow.
I left Oslo friday morning together with my husband Stian. For the first time he actually volunteered on being my team. So on this trip, on this race, I actually had a one-man-team and support system. Perfect. I felt almost like a real runner, having someone to carry my backpack during the race, to take photos, to cheer me on and to fix water and food afterwards. It was GREAT!
First: Porto is the Portuguese name of the city. In English, but only in English, it is called Oporto. Because I am Norwegian, I will use the name Porto.
Unfortunately there are no direct flights from Oslo to Porto. We had tickets on Lufthansa Oslo-Frankfurt/Frankfurt-Porto. This made the flight a bit long, and we were tired when we finally arrived at the hotel in Porto. It was raining a bit, and as usual I insisted on taking the metro from the airport like the locals do – I never want to go by taxi. So my hubby tried his best to be patient with his wife, and I think he did an ok job on that 😉
After checking in at Infante de Sagres – a five star hotel in Porto that has seen better days, but still surprisingly cheap and pleasant – we went to the Marathon Expo to pick up my participant kit. Getting nothing but my start number, not even the 4 pins needed to stick it to my shirt, I remembered that it was really cheap to register for the Family Race – I think I paid 10 Euros or something. Well ok, I asked for some pins at the information desk, and everything turned out fine.
Leaving the Expo, we enjoyed the sight of the river Duoro, and chose to have our dinner at a restaurant on the river banks. On the other side of the river we could see all the Port wine Houses, that would be nice to visit for port tasting at another visit to Porto. During our meal, the weather turned to the worse, and soon the rain was pouring down. We almost ran back to the hotel, and went to bed for a good night´s sleep.
Waking up early on Saturday, we had a lovely breakfast at the hotel and then hit the streets of Porto looking for some true bargains. And we found some. I managed to spend a bit of money, including a few Euros on a pair of Compression socks, you know the ones that go up to the knees. This was perfect for the race, I decided.
A little shopping spree the day before a race is good for keeping the nerves off, but maybe not so good if you need to relax? But as long as it was only a 16K, and not the marathon, it worked out fine. I think my nerves was a bigger issue than my legs, as a matter of fact.
Saturday evening we had an early dinner at a lovely restaurant called Cantinho do Avillez, with the most enjoyable staff, and then took an early night.
Sunday! Race day! With the start as early as 9am, I needed to get up early. The alarm went off at 6.30 am, to be able to get the body started up before breakfast. The hotel breakfast did not open until 7.30, and then I had to be really quick to get some food. Some french guests was also wearing running gear and stuffing their faces, so finally there was some signs of a running event going on – except for the Expo, there was nothing in the city reminding of the race.
45 minutes before race start, we headed off to the start – it was a bit of a walk, and the weather had changed a bit to the colder. This was adding to my nerves, it was so cold that I actually put on my thin winter jacket, and my husband – who is never cold – was freezing in his shirt. I was planning on running in shorts and a tank top, and this made me a bit stressed. But when we arrived at the sight, and I got to do a little warm up, I decided to stick to my plan.
So a few minutes before 9am, I lost my long sleeved shirt as well, and said goodbye to my team. Earbuds in, Runkeeper ready, music good to go. And the nerves was gone, just like that.
I got into the crowd of runners, far back, and thought to myself that it would be fine, because Portugal is a running nation, and all the people were probably better runners than I am. Then the gun went off, and many minutes still passed before my end of the crowd started moving. I quickly realized that my assumptions about my fellow runners were a bit off – I had to pass many (MANY) runners for the first few kilometers, and was still passing a lot of people up to 11-12K. I guess I made a wrong decision about starting at the back of the crowd, but still: I had a great experience.
The course was nice and mostly easy. It starts with a very steep uphill, then it is mostly flat and slightly downhill until the approx. 14,5 km – then it starts going back uphill, not very steep, but enough when your legs are starting to get tired. A few runners passed me at that time, but when the course flattened out a bit before the finish, I managed to catch up with them and pass them before the finish line. Very pleased with that, I need to say.
And happy with finishing, I was. Too tired to remember to stop the Runkeeper, but remembered after approx. 40 sec. I stopped it at 1:24:10, and felt that this was kind of OK, considering the collapse I had during summer and the heat. So I was happy, and soon found my hubby and got a nice hug. He was proud, I was proud.
Then the walk back to the hotel started. I suddenly realized that Stian had walked about 6K to get from the start to the finish area, and now we had to walk maybe 7K to get back to Infante Sagres. It was wonderful to hit the shower after this walk – and I was getting more hungry by the minute.
We found a nice local restaurant close to the hotel, with only Portuguese people having their sunday lunch. That is always a good sign. It was cheap and nice, not fancy food, just good taste and “real” like your grandma would make it. After just a few minutes inside the restaurant we suddenly heard the thunder, and the rain started. Heavy rain. I could not believe our luck with the race – it was perfect weather conditions, even if I felt it was too cold before it started. Now, inside the restaurant, the rain outside made me feel even happier. I loved the grilled Dourade (a white fish) and had wine for the first time this weekend. Wonderful!
Back at the hotel again, I checked the official statistics: 1:29:19. Oh, they haven´t figured out the net time, I just thought, and didn´t think too much about it. But when the official time was still 1:29:19 when I checked again yesterday, I got a bit annoyed. So I sent a message to the organization through their Facebook sight, and got the answer: the official time is always the time from the gun goes off, until you pass the finish line. This is kind of silly, since they have sensors at the start as well. But I received the link to where I could find my net time: 1:23:27. This is close to my sub 1:23 goal, and I am sure I would have made it easy if I had found a better starting position. So I am pleased with the experience, and might want to go back another year. So if anyone reading this (is anybody reading this?) wants to join me in Porto/Oporto in november another year, please let me know! The course is really nice, in spite of the steep uphill that sets it off. Just look, I was smiling going up that hill!
Sunday evening we ended up at a place that is probably our favorite place in Porto – it is a tiny bar that serves only snack, kind of like a tapas place only with traditional Portuguese food. And the most friendly staff. I need to check out the name of that place. Bubbles to start with, and Port at the end. A perfect way to end our Porto trip. Next morning it was up, packing, having breakfast, shopping a few bottles of Port to bring back home, then back to the airport. By Metro, of course 😉
This was my story about last weekend. I need to find another goal, and get rid of this emptiness inside. Any tip, good people? Care to join me for a race experience? I would love to enter at least one race outside of Norway every year, so let me know about the good ones!