One Sunday morning in May 2017, when we were on holiday in Valencia, we came across a running race. We hadn’t known anything about it, but it looked like an awful lot of fun. There was a drum band outside the Torres de Quart, playing their hearts out as people of all shapes and sizes ran past, all looking like they were having a whale of a time. We stood and watched for a while before climbing the towers and taking some photos – including this one.
Later that day, we found out that the race had been called the Volta a Peu. I secretly (or perhaps not so secretly) wished I had been able to enter. So, when I arrived in Valencia in December last year, I had already resolved to find out more about the race, enter and run it. And yesterday, I made good on that promise to myself.
To be honest, my training has been a little bit sporadic. (And no, I wouldn’t normally train for a 6.2km race – that’s how on and off my running has been over the last few months!) It’s not that I didn’t want to run. It’s just that life has got in the way a little bit – and the weather has been pretty hot and humid, so some days it’s been hard to do much more than plod.
To make things worse, for some strange reason I decided to go to a yoga balance class on Saturday. It wasn’t until I woke up yesterday morning with sore abs and triceps that it occurred to me that perhaps it hadn’t been the best of ideas. But apparently those aren’t muscles you need to use much for running. Or so it seems.
So anyway, I got myself along to the start on Paseo de la Alameda, alongside the Río, along with another 10,400 or so people, and took my place in the crowd waiting to cross the start line. There were people with dogs, people with pushchairs, even one girl on roller skates!
Now, I’d known, of course that the Volta a Peu was an event for all the family (per a tots els peus – for all feet), but somehow I had expected the start to be a little more organised. It’s not that we didn’t start on time – we absolutely did – but when we got going it soon became clear that there had been absolutely no effort whatsoever to put the runners at the front and the walkers at the back. Instead, we were all jumbled up together, so for the first kilometre or so I was constantly dodging around people and trying to avoid being tripped up! It was only after about 2km, when we passed the Plaza de Toros and headed up onto the (relatively) straight, wide stretch of road up past the Torres de Quart that the crowd thinned out a bit. And although I had been looking at my watch to keep track of how far I’d run, it wasn’t until the 4km mark that I started to take any notice of my pace.
It’s not that I started particularly fast – the walkers and many, many joggers put paid to that – but perhaps that was actually a good thing. I have a tendency to go off too fast at the start of a race. This time I didn’t, and it paid dividends towards the end. In fact, other than km 4, which I ran one second slower than km 3, I got faster and faster as the race went on!
The final straight seemed to go on forever. Turning off the bridge to run back alongside the Río, it looked like we’d nearly made it, but somehow that stretch of road seemed to go on and on… until finally, I’d finished in a time of 33:44 (official time – gun to finish 34:45). Not bad, considering!
My reward for finishing the race? A bright orange t-shirt, a can of sports drink and a packet of ham! As a vegetarian, it wasn’t the greatest gift I could possibly have been given, but hey, this is Spain and they do love their pork products! (Fortunately, I have several meat-eating flatmates so I’m sure it won’t go to waste!)
I’ve already entered my next race: a 15km night race on 8th June. I have less than 3 weeks left before that, and so far the furthest I’ve run is 10.25km. I’m sure I’ll get round, but I’m not sure I’ll feel quite so good about my time.
If it goes well, I’ll be putting in my entry for the half marathon in October. And that’s it. That’s as far as I go.
At least, that’s what I’m telling myself for now.