In less than two months, I would be well on my way running, walking and trotting through the Moroccan desert, as Marathon Des Sables is less than 60 days away. However, before I had to run 21 kilometres through the streets of Barcelona, as well as complete the Sevilla Marathon, which is awaiting me this weekend.

Talking about the desert, one of my main motivations for moving to Barcelona is the fact that I can find ideal training conditions. Whilst the temperatures may not be exactly the same, at least Barcelona holds a couple of cubic meters of sand, in which I can run, train and play. I have actually lived in the Catalan capital a couple of years ago, as I was playing hockey for FC Barcelona back in 2010. Not only from my experiences back then, but also from a few visits that followed after, I knew Barcelona is also not the worst place to reside.

Anyways, away from dreaming and thinking about all those great bars, restaurants, markets, cafés and other places to hang out, let's talk about the race. Barcelona’s Half Marathon is one of the most popular events in the calendar and with almost 18.000 participants one of the most populated ones, too. Seeing that the desert is not that far away, as well as the Sevilla Marathon being scheduled for this weekend, I was meant to take on this event with care, and not go flat out. With this in mind, unlike a other pre-race routines, I followed through my regular training schedule. The last Half Marathon I run was in Canada last year. However, because such was set in the mountains, the time does not count as a comparison. So, it turns out that my first-ever road race, the 2015 Madrid Half-Marathon, marked my last officially measured 21,0975 kilometre distance and gave me a time of 1:37:39 hours to beat.

Never mind that I was meant to approach this Half Marathon with a controlled pace, I tried to undercut my personal best and go below 1:30:00 hours. The conditions could not have been any better. The course was pretty much flat and the weather was on point. It was around 12 degrees mild and dry. Only the wind was a little bit disturbing, especially seeing that I am not the smallest creature, it was difficult to take advantage of the slipstream of the people running in front of me.

At 8:45 am the race commenced. I started off well and found my rhythm pretty quickly, though I was aware that I was pushing hard, I was hoping to be able to carry through at this pace. Though, with the training of the past few weeks in my legs, my body did feel a little tired, but there was no time for excuses. The kilometres started to add up and my heart rate was pretty stable. It did not go through the roof, though I run a little faster than planned, which was positive to note. The first five kilometres flew by in 20:38 minutes, which translates to a pace of 4:08 minutes per kilometre. However, my mind did not lie and my body did not forgive. Not only did I feel getting more tired, but the split times confirmed my assumption more than enough. Whilst I was still on track between kilometre five to ten with an average pace of 4:18 minutes per kilometres, between ten and 15 such had already increased to 4:29 minutes, before peaking at 4:51 on average between 15 and 20. With the finish line in sight, but mind having shut off, instead of sprinting the last kilometre, I somewhat slowed down and it took me 5:15 minutes to cover the final 1000 meters of the race. Though I kind of remember big crowds that were cheering and screaming on the side, I must have been unable to sprint. Eventually I crossed the line and the time stopped at 1:34:04 hours. I was sort of happy to have set a new personal best, but sort of disappointed that I did not undercut the 1:30 hour-mark, but I know the time will come. For now, my focus lies on Sunday, as the Sevilla Marathon will be my final event before flying to Morocco on April 6th.