Running longer and faster… a few thoughts…

Archive for August, 2015

Race Report – XXI WMAC Marathon (Lyon) – 2015/08/16

Planned: complete the course, hopefully not last + if feeling fine, get into a nice finish under 3:30/25 + ensure the body is remaining happy throughout the run.

Actual 3:08:29 🙂 a silver medal for age category in the XXI World Master Athletics Championships, a 6th place total women, a personal fan club on site ensuring both cheering and bottle handling and a body not too bad during and after the race. Quite satisfied with the preps of this race 🙂

Race Results:
place (M/W) 6
place (ag) 2
age/grade: 74.99% (2014 Chicago 75.97 / 2014 Stockholm 76.76 / Rotterdam 78.43 / 2014 Dubai 77.74 / 2013 Berlin 75.74/Stockholm:73.1/Boston:72.19/Dubai: 72.35/2012 Berlin:68.29/SF:65.66/London:66.47/Dubai:66.6)
time total (netto) 03:08:29
time total (brutto) 03:08:29
average pace: 4:28min/km

Unofficial splits (from Garmin):

Split Net time (difference)
5K 21:37:00 (21:37)
10K 43:23:00 (21:46)
15K 01:05:11 (21:47)
20K 01:27:14 (22:03)
Half mara 01:31:50
25K 01:50:03 (22:48)
30K 02:12:34 (22:30)
35K 02:35:33 (23:00)
40K 02:58:45 (23:12)
Marathon 03:08:29

Nice for a first (?) World Championship, right?

********************

M Day-1

Little reminder here… Final morning run done under the sun. Effortless. Final try-on for race gear and pics in the garden. Final carboloading day with pasta lunch, gummy bears and sport-drink. And lots of water as well. Travel to Lyon. Check of final km of the race route. Felt ok for the race (well, as ok as can be… Felt like forever I have gotten myself ready for a race!). Headache until 10:30pm. Quality sleep between 10:40pm and 1pm… Excitement was in the air…

image

Before the race
Awaken 3:00am… But I just closed my eyes. Frozen brain for a few seconds to remember why I should go up so early. Had heard my roommate being called on her phone around 1:15am… Felt the alarm should be for her. Dragged myself out of the bed. Into the kitchen. Out with the porridge and banana. Ate in the dark and kept quiet for not waking up my roommate. Green mix drink (no shaker, so it was real disgusting to stir and drink with small packs of powder 😦 ). 2dl Gatorade blue. Back to bed. Sleep.

3:30am
– Water. Sleep.

4:00am – Gatorade. Sleep. No,… wait. Remained half awaken as I started to calculate the time I would have to get myself ready, prepare my bottles and get to the start.

4:15am – Up 15minutes earlier as my still-asleep brain required more time for getting ready. All bottles on the table. Filling half-way with either Gatorade blue or water. Taped the flags. Shower. Cream on and dressed with running gear except for the shoes. Writing splits on my hand. Not working. For reference mostly, writing 3:00, 3:03, 3:05 & avg pace + 10K on my hand. Nooooo way this is achievable, but the brain wanted it. Was left my full-length of left forearm for the splits between 3:10 & 3:30. 10K, halfway and 30K. No more place available! Racing shoes in the bag and off to the race. Final beet-shot at 4:30pm.

5:00am – final drink with water. No more eating.

5:14am – Late on my schedule by 14 minutes… Dark outside. Not a soul out there (apart from me). Nice in the air. All dressed in black for getting to the stadium feels a bit awkward… Looking like a thief… with nice nails. Walking is going fine. Brain is relaxed. Body feels good. Getting to the park… Where is the park? PITCH BLACK out there… Decide to keep walking under the street lights. Seeing a flow of walkers a bit ahead at the end of the street. All heading towards the stadium. Cool 🙂 Now I remember the pre-race feeling 😉

5:45am – Pitch black all around us. Confusion. The stadium is still locked. No one seems to know what to do, where to drop personal bottles (which were to be dropped latest 6am). But when asking to the volunteers helping, just getting mixed answers. Good to be able to speak French in such case! Having a chat with a guy in bike and he indicates the route is fast. Set for a PR. I tell him the contrary. Chat about diverse races we have done and he highly recommends Paris. Time for him to go. He will cheer on the side for me he promises. Meeting two other Swedish runners, marathon Karin S and half-marathon Eleonor Ö. Quick chat and see you soon. Karin ain’t sure of the daily form due to problem with her foot. She had run the 10,000m on Monday though. In 40 minutes. Faster than what I can possibly do right now…

6:00am – Still unsure what to do with the bottle. Still pitch black. Still chaotic. The stadium doors open and a flow of runners get inside. Lost probably. Finally appear two tables: “A” and “B” indicated an official… Eeeeeeee…. What A or B? Give me numbers, man! 5, 15, 25 or 10,20,30… Something I understand!!! Finally getting that “A” – that most runners understood as being the first water station at 5K – was actually the one close to the start and turning points… Very confusing!!! Whatever, leaving my bottles on the 5-15-25-35 table (aka “Table B”) and the 10-20-30 (aka “Table A”). Fun fact: the day after the race, I found published on the WMAC site a guide indicating important facts prior to the marathon and semi-marathon. The “Tables A & B” were mentioned and location indicated there… Good to know after the race… Anyway, the tables got filled pretty fast. I was proud of my flags but see that loads of bottles have also flags… So now I not only have to look for the bottles with flags, but will ALSO have to check which flag is attached to the bottles… Brain, please help me!

6:15am – Heading to the stadium, very much hoping the bottles will be there when I need them. In the dark, getting down to the tent close to the stadium, tent that was used as call room for other events. Where is the call room for the 800+ semi-marathon runners and the 400+ marathoners? No one knows… In the tent, four people changing. So I get a spot in the back, pretty dark and take off my extra clothes. Chat with the French changing close to me. Scared a few times by a gigantic grasshopper that get into my hair, then on my shoulders, my arms and finally my bottle. The French guy get it to leave 🙂 Cannot find my Vaseline in the bag, so NOK-cream it is. Thighs, underarms, lower back and higher back under the sport bra. I look pretty white then! But better white that burned… Putting my Dextrosol in a little sock and on the back in my sport-bra. Should be tight enough for not burning. I think. I hope. No more people enter the tent as a volunteer in wheel chair stops everyone and tell all to give there bag do they can have a bit of order in all this… It starts this way: “the French team? In this corner. They are many, better to make place for them. Brazil? Here in the middle. Spain? Yaaaa it’s close to Brazil. Put their bags there. Italy? Separate from Spain, better this way…” And it just goes on 🙂 Nice and fun chaos in the tent. (Have I talked about the necessary preparation prior to a race? The required mental quietness needed? The “everything has to be going on rails” thoughts?… On this day, you better forget all of this!!!!). Leaving my bag to a lady in the tent. She gets ready to drop my bag in the French corner when I stop her and indicate to find a nice place for the Swedish. “Put the nice gal in the corner” I hear the man saying. Cool… At least I’ll find my bag! Good luck to the right, good luck to the left, cheering to any Swede I meet in the way to the start. Soon start…

06:37am – Happy faces from G & MT right before the start mat. Cool! The fan club has arrived! 2 at start and 3 at km5 water stop. Final pics. Passing the mat (Fun fact: after the race, in this guide on “final stuff prior to the marathon”, they did mentioned that this may would be acting as “call room”, and therefore all runners were to pass on it. Good to know…afterwards…).

Before race smile :-)

Before race smile 🙂

6:45am – Four rows already on the starting line. Enough place for doing my lunges matrix. Not much of a warmup, but that will do. Final smile to Karin S and then I get myself smoothly to the second row for the start 🙂 Still having place for breathing. Call from the speaker to all runners to get to the call room. Having a handful Spanish on my left. Half marathon (numbers in black on the BIB) and marathon (numbers in red). They look d*mn fast… Having one of the Central African guys right to my back, quick chat. He hardly recognise me though, Swedish outfit on. The air is becoming thinner. The place around each runner becoming more expensive. Hearing an apparently fast guy right behind me not understanding that there are no seeding or start group. He wants to finish in 2:28 (!!!) and talks to a nice lady planning “an easy” 3:15. That can’t be right!!! He has a nice smile 🙂 Feeling someone getting in front of me. An older lady (W60) with long grey hair has just taken my spot… Well, I hope she is fast and careful, because the guys all around ain’t going to show any mercy when the gun will shot…

6:55am – Haaaaa!!! Have to tie up my laces for the third time again. And I promise that getting down on the ground for this ain’t fun when everyone is packed like in a too small box… “There won’t be any countdown” says the speaker…Hmmmm? OK? How do we know when to start then? The clock is…behind us?!?! Maybe a little “10-9-8… would have been nice” says the 2:28-guy… Looking at my watch I suggest more likely to be a “120-119-118…” J And got a smile back and a good luck and then the head just shut down.

6:58am – Feels so quiet now. Crazy quiet. When actually it is not. But in the head it feels like no sound is getting in. Trying to find out where the start-guy is with the gun, but cannot see much. Getting much grey hair in the face again. Zipping the end of my Gatorade blue. Oooops! Where will I throw it now.

6:59am – O.M.G… with no countdown, this becomes the longest minute of marathon history… Bodies all around are getting ready. You could probably hear a butterfly passing by over us…
*********
THE RACE

Loop 1: 0-10,400m

07:00am – Right on time, hearing (hardly) the gun shot and the runners are hitting the pavement like a horde of wild horses. Feeling a bit of pushing, but I am more scared for the old lady in front of me than for myself. A push is making me drop my bottle, which I did not like. But it is probably crunched by the hundreds of feet pounding soon this little space it fell on. The start is for both half-marathon and marathon, meaning there will be pretty crazy differences in pace. And with no start group, that makes the whole thing even crazier. Passing by G & MT already cheering. I take it easy. As Coach said: “take it easy at start, find your rhythm, don’t both the others, make it your race”. A bit easy said, but I know the route now. Almost by heart. So by the first turn, I have already slowed down (!) and still getting a 4:02min/km tempo. Just multiply this by 42 tells the brain to itself. I actually laugh at this thought! Can see ahead the fastest runners and then followed by the next fastest and then the crazy runners who think they can hold this pace throughout the course and then comes me 🙂 and a bunch of others behind. Karin S is passing me right after the first right turn and before the first km. OK, let’s take the second Swedish female place then 🙂 A bit surprise when reaching the next turn towards km2, because I had thought it would be going right and then sharp left turn, instead getting a “nice and smooth”-like left turn towards the long straight path. Getting passed by so many people so far, that I hardly want to look behind me, if this is to see I am the last one or so… a few more hundreds and sharp 90-turn into a way narrower path. And this part I don’t like. The asphalt is not plane, but broken, there are lots of turns and a few hundreds before reaching km3 there is a sharp left turn, slightly up. NOT.liking.this.one. But I like the loooooong straight line after that. Asphalt. Thank you. Then back under the trees, a few turns and getting to the main straight path again (after… yes, you guessed it: a sharp 90-turn). Loving this part (yes, I do!). Have done my intervals of Tuesday there. So I know exactly (almost) where to count 200, 400 and 800m-marks 🙂 Passing the km4 and then under the Park signs. But this is not reaching the km5 that is driving me then. I know my second half of fan club should be there. Please make them be there. And here they are. Small dark silhouettes at first. But they see me as well. E&T. And hearing “Come on, mummy!” is the best cheering ever heard! Don’t even bother keeping the pace there. I want them to have the smile and hello they deserve J Less happy when reaching the water station as after the water mugs there are two tables full with personal bottles and I cannot see mines! Even going back to find them. Finally shouting “Sweden! Where is Sweden?” in both French and English and getting a volunteer to hand me a bottle…which was set on a bench right after the other tables… and of course… I get my “km15-bottle” and not the “km5-bottle”. Continuing towards the end of the path, hearing the officials saying my BIB-number to indicate I had been passing this checkpoint and executing the U-turn and coming back, slightly downhill (Yes, it IS downhill). Drink, drink and drink. Gatorade it is. Almost drinking all of it, and throwing it on the side. “Hello there” to the fan club on the other side and then focusing on the race again J The watch has been checked a few times, but honestly it shows faster than 4:18/19, which is way faster than expected. The body is responding fine, so I let it continue. Long and straight line to km6. Trying to get some encouragements from the people coming along the route. Getting a nice “Allez IKEA” (“Come on IKEA”) when passing a group of French and it is well appreciated. Yes, as usual, all cheering is good cheering! Can see that there are lots of people behind me still. Good J I am not last. But I have been passed by lots of people. I am checking mostly women as the competition is done per age category. Cannot see any ahead of me. “One swede before you” I had heard from my fan club at km5 and I know it is Karin. But how many women?… trying to hang along others to reach km7, but it is not too easy. Reaching back two Finnish older men and they kindly ask whether I really will do the full marathon… (Yap! Km7 and we can still chat at a nice pace!). They look impressed. I am feeling that it would be good if I can just follow them for the next 3 laps and that would be good. But once again, lots of people are actually not yet in marathon-pace and running too fast. Back to the main road after the very uncomfortable-to-run km7-road and sharp turn (one more!) to the left and we are under the trees again. Long straight line towards the hippodrome and km8. This is what I checked yesterday, so it feels good. The pace is good. The mind feels good. Nothing can really go wrong (for now at least!). Along the hippodrome the road is pretty bad and it is easier to run on the right of it. Which ALL others in front of me agree upon… meaning that there is need to pass a few on the left, which means “cross-country-on-broke-asphalt” 😛 I see Karin S on the other road on her way back. Quick calculation: she must be 4-500m ahead of me. And as usual, I am rubbish at estimating the distance. So I really have no clue how much ahead she is, but “4-500m” sounds an “OK”-distance to keep between us J Turning point. Sharp turn right AND up AND on rubbish path. As expected my left foot is falling into a small hole and not liking it. Have to be careful for next lap. Because yes, the brain has started the countdown. Not of the km (well, yes, it always counts down the kilometres from the moment the gun is shot!), but of the number of laps left. ONLY THREE TIMES PASSING HERE I can hear in my head. Hmmm ok. Reaching the nice “40km”-mark, after the 9km and this part is not fun (for me) because it is light elevation. Not Norwegian-fjord-elevation like, but still. It is NOT flat. That’s the thing. At the 30km-mark it is better (I just like the “30km-mark” because it means 12km left J). Downhill and turn left and Wow! Nice! They have cleaned the path and there are almost no stuff from the pine trees on the path (which would have been very slippery to run on…). Seeing other runners getting into the woods for their km8 and I am getting to haaaaaaa…another sharp 90-turn on the right. And asphalt again. Good rhythm. Body ok. Just run. In front of me the Finnish are a bit ahead, but I have a French guy which seems to have the rhythm I want. He gets cheered by his friend and I ask (the friend) for cheering for me as well next time J Next 90-turn on the right is taken a bit bad and I hit my left leg on a lower wood fence. Looking down for getting more strength and up with the eyes towards the end of the…street…where is ending the street exactly? Straight it is. Many half-marathoners and marathoners are passing on the other side. Cool to see. Looking the fade 41km-mark on the street (see you soon! I think!) and straight a bit more. Hearing fan-club nr2 on the other side, looking straight forward, passing the mat, seeing my BIB and time (and no, I did not noted what my time was then!), getting to the end and around the fence and back on the mat again and that was it. Passing the white stripe on the pavement which was the starting line.
Loop 1: completed!

Personal bottles on tacl "B"

Personal bottles on table “B”

Loop 2: 10,400-20,800m

Reaching the water station, I got handed perfectly my 10km-bottle. A smile and more cheering J Throwing away the flag, opening the bottle and zipping a bit and running and zipping a bit and running. Takes until almost 11km-mark to zip this bottle. Which I think is good, for not having a too heavy stomach. Long stretch towards the next km-mark. Not that many runners around but still a good mix marathoners and half-marathoners. Passing a few of them. Straight line towards km12 (there is a trick here: every lap the km-signs are 400m ahead of the signs from the previous lap, i.e. km12 is 400m before km2, km22 is indicated 200m before km12 aso. So this is a trick I used for calculating the distance passed: when reaching the sign km3 on the asphalt, it meant during loop2, that I was at km13.4 J OK, maybe it is making no sense for anyone but me, but at least it kept my head busy and happy!) The way under the trees towards km13 is still not fun (in case it would have been changed since previous loop…). Unfortunately witnessing a runner cutting straight from the path to take to the one coming back (cut of 1.5km or so). Not fair play. (btw after this there has been an official checking this part actually…). Still annoying part, but I like the Argentinean lady who is cheering for her teammates and still having voice for shouting “Ola, chicas, vamos” 🙂 Abrupt turn right and up once again (“2 done, 2 to go”…let’s keep thinking positive here!), the straight line, passing the km3-sign and back under the trees. Still impossible to find someone with similar pace. Am I the only one on Earth with rubbish and dysfunctional pace?!?! Nobody wanting to join my team?!?! OK, I continue alone then. Passing people and cheering for them. Some are in their first loop still. Good fighting. And back on the main road (remember, after this 90-turn right?). Seeing Swedes on the other sides, but they are in their first loop I think. And straight line towards km15. The pace? Oh yes, the pace. When under the trees, the Garmin is getting crazy. But it is still indicating a 4:20-stable pace. No worry on the side of the body. So keeping this way. Soon they are there. Fan-club ready and cheering 8and even taking pictures! Getting my “15K-bottle” from the hands of Dj and E (which makes me wonder a bit….because I have been drinking it during the first lap…). [Fun fact: E told me after the race that someone had taken my 15K-bottle and drank on it during the first lap, so they went to pick it up and they filled it with the 5K-bottle to be ready for my next passage… Good to know J I was the one drinking this bottle in the first place 😛 ] One zip before reaching the policemen, then the U-turn, large smile to the officials and back. Still zipping. Shouting “next time it is the gel” when passing E&T&Dj. Realizing afterwards that nope. This is not a gel at next stop… Hoping they will look at the km-mark on the bottle… Having a nice Spanish guy on my right side now. Reaching the long stretch towards km16 and his pace is pretty well suiting mine. I can almost hear one step when our feet hit the pavement. Even our breathing are in sync (well, actually he breathe out when I breathe in and then he breathe in when I breathe out. All good! I finally found my step and breathing twin!). I like him because he gets cheering from friends (like “Vamos Espana”) and each time he adds “common friend. Common friend”. We are pretty close to a Polish lady W40. She has a good rhythm too. And she looks real good when running behind her. She was right before me at the km15-water station but slowed down for her bottle and now she has caught up with us and even passed us slightly. She has a little bottle, just suiting into the hand. Pretty handy. She keeps it until km 17 and throws it. I want one like that!!! The Spanish guy is accelerating a little bit and find himself at her level now. I am right behind. We are back on this “km7-broken road” part. I am very careful for not falling on broken asphalt and lost a bit of time in this (but better safe and slow, than not checking and breaking an ankle). They are reaching the main road ahead of me. Thinking now that the Finnish guys are no longer to be seen. Nor the French one neither 😦 And back to the “under the trees” and towards km18. The Polish gal is having a good step, and it is actually difficult not to stop running and just looking. The Spanish guy has dropped a bit and is right in front of me when we reach the hippodrome. But by the end of the straight line and the U-turn, he is at my level and sounds like he is having it pretty heavy. But I like to have him around for pacing. He is for the half-marathon, so I can take the luxury to push him a bit to keep me in a good pace 😛 He probably understand this because he is accelerating a bit, but suddenly he told me he cannot carry on and wish me good luck, but fair game I encourage him to just follow me as he “just have to finish this lap, when I have two more to do”. He laughs and agreed he can continue a bit. Even thanks me 🙂 Cute! But by the final left turn under the trees he says being in pain and I accelerate and wish him good luck. 90-turn into the main street. Asphaaaaaaalt again :-)*100 Getting cheering from the French guy from lap 1 and then right turn to the last straight line. Light acceleration. I really would like to be close to 1:30/32 for halfway. Which would allow to have drifting time during the second half. Now I hear “Luis” coming back. So I cheer for him, tell him to pass me and just to give it all (and to come back after his finish line to cheer for me). Seeing Karin S drinking at the water station on the other side of the road. “Luis” passes me right before the mat with a big smile and a thank you. Apparently more strength are found when there is only 400m left 🙂 Turning back and on the second mat. Finding more strength for a kind-of acceleration there. Officials are separating now the half-marathoners to complete their race and go left to the stadium and the marathoners and other to finish their additional loops (no need to tell that a split of a second, I wished I was a half-marathoner…)
Loop 2: completed!

Loop 3: 20,800-31,200m

Soon the water station. Seeing the banner with my name and the hand holding my water-bottle with a gel taped on it.  Run run run. Want to reach the half-way before the time turns above 1:33. OK, Half-way mark passed. Have been struggling to un-tape my gel, now it is time to struggle opening it with the teeth, swallowing the fortunately liquid gel and drinking the water of the bottle. Sounds like it takes forever for doing all this, but it does not. OK. Have been cruising at 4:21min/km for the first half according to my watch. Which is more than decent and acceptable today. Just have to go through this third lap and then it is the final 10K-stretch left. Throwing my bottle around the 11km-mark (i.e. I have run now for 21.4km, which seems pretty little in my mind, but ok). The loooooong stretch towards the left turn to km 2 seems way longer than the previous lap. Did someone stretched the asphalt there? A couple of older men-runners are passing me, sounding like heavy breather. Not fun at all 😦 OK have to focus. No woman ahead of me for any possible acceleration. I authorize myself to drift up to 4:25 for this lap (Yeaaaah, I know….”I authorize myself”… like I am in control of everything now…Better believe it though! :-)). Getting the cheering from the French gang after the turn, once again the stretch towards km2, third time I pass here. I start to be fed-up. No negative thoughts. Go away! Grabbing my Dextrosol stuck in the back of my sport-bra (Once again, really not smart solution for storing energy, but at least I had not been skin-burned there). One tablet every km will do until the next water station. “Vamos chicas” once again from the Argentinian. Even succeeding in smiling when she takes her photo. I KNOOOOOW…it is not me she photographs but the Argentinian right beside me… but at least I will have a smile on the pic 😛 Soon the annoying left/abrupt/uphill (YES IT IS UPHILL WHEN PASSING IT FOR THE THIRD TIME!) turn and the long-nice-asphalt stretch along the parking lot. One more Dextrosol when seeing the 23km mark on the ground (don’t know if I really see it, but at least I know where the 3km-sign is and then counting backwards 800m before 🙂 Wow that IS tricky to run a marathon and do maths at the same time!). Thirsty there. I would have like to have those sponges-stuff there had been promising right before km3 and at km7-like. But could not see them in the past two loops. Is everybody else supreme beings and not needing extra water there? Am I the only one?!?! OK, stop. Pass this guy (M55. At least one less before me) and finally the left turn to the main road again. I WANT THIS TO BE FINISHED… thought during 1.5seconds before hearing cheering “Allez les gars” from the side of the road. Don’t care they cheer for guys and their friends. Once again, any cheering is good cheering to have! Passing km24 and.I.just.want.to.get.to.km25 (because it is one km closer to the end…). Have been taking one dextrosol every km-mark between km22.5 and 25. Cheering squad in place when I arrive. Feeling that I have to stretch a bit the back. The steps are a bit slower and shorter. Have to work on this. Next loop, I’ll fix that. Seeing T with her banner and huge smile. Seeing E holding my 25km-bottle with Gatorade and Dj saying that I asked for the gel-one. Good that E knows my plans though 🙂 Taking the Gatorade bottle, admitting loudly that I mistakenly asked for the gel during my previous lap. Zipping once before the U-turn. Smile to the officials. They are cool and cheering. Have been counting the gals on the other side passing me. Could see 3 W40, Karin S and no other woman. Am I really first W35? Nooo, cannot be. The others must be so crazy lightning-fast that I have missed them since a while. No more fast woman from the half-marathon though. Downhill after the U-turn. 25km done. Less than half to go. (and yes I know the “less than half to go” is actually working since a while, but this is good for the spirit! Well,for my spirit at least). New running mate on my right. A Spanish guy. Cool. He ain’t having the same steps as Luis, but that will do. Checking my watch and the pace has dropped crazily much. But as long as I am not crawling on the pavement, I guess it is fine. The Polish W40 is passing us right before the km26 mark. Not trying to catch up with her. Still liking her still. Still liking her little bottle in her hand J What am I doing?!?!? Stop looking at her. Focus on Luis-friend and run! She is getting a bit of distance ahead of us. The Spanish guy is not running stable pace, which is fine with me, as long as it is not too slow. More “Come on IKEA” on the way towards km27 and turning. HERE.IT.IS… a lonely table with water bottle on it. Is it the “sponge”-place? Really? Passing it. Turn left to the broken-asphalt path. Passing the medic and asking them to get ready to carry me during the next turn. And finally on the main road and the right turn already towards the hippodrome. My Spanish friend ain’t following any longer. Have to run on my own. Have been zipping a bit of Gatorade at km26 and 27. Good. Finishing the bottle at km28 (I think) and throwing it. Oooooohhhh what I want to stop and take some water at the little fountain close to the hippodrome there. But nope. Cheering for Erika from Germany. Passing a few there. Cannot see the Polish gal any longer. Ooohhh.. she is already on the other way, back already. I must have drifted heavily there! And.here.comes.the.left/up turn and I just enjoy it because I just have ONE time left to pass it 😛 (think positive, think positive…). Reaching the km40-mark and I just so much want to BE at the 40km-mark. But nope. One more lap before I can enjoy this thought! This is tough to run there. Not physically, but mentally. No one really around. Ahead and behind. Not on the side. One more Dextrosol at km29. Passing a dad with his two kids and getting a very kind “Allez la Suède, Allez..Svvvveeerrige”. Which is once again so appreciated. And here it is” the 30km-mark on the pavement! Yououououhhhhhooouou! Only 12km left. Almost finished. Even have this thought that it would take less than an hour to reach the end. Have no clue how long I have run. Just want to get out of this forest. English lady cheering once again. Cool. And the right turn to the main road. Just once more to pass here. THAT is what I call motivation! Getting my foot badly into a broken hole on the turn here. But matters not. There are less than 12km left! Cheering from the French guy. Cool he is now cheering “Allez Sweden” to me! And this stupid left turn towards the straight final line. O.M.G. Will this never end? Feels almost like running in a maze and that you recognize passing there already, but that was not the correct path, but not knowing where to go… Run run run… Less people on the other side. Hearing from the speaker when I pass the mat that the first guy of the marathon course will be soon arriving…. Recognizing the name, but cannot figure out HOW I can recognize it. Mat 1- passed, turn, mat 2- passed. OK.
Loop 3: completed!

Loop 4: 31,200-42,195m

Now smile because this is the last time you pass this water-station. G hands my last water bottle with gel. Sweet he has taken away the flag and I “just” have to struggle with the gel opening, swallowing the disgusting paste in it (no liquid this time :-() and getting some water on the top. Passing by Karin S talking with Eleanor. They smile and sheer, apparently Karin takes it easier. Water on the head once again. I have been feeling a burning sensation in the lower back and am pretty sure that my SWE hotpants are burning this little place again. Wonderful! Passing the “halfway”-mark. Having the Polish gal on my side now again. OK. New plans. I stuck to her steps, whatever pace she takes. Just not letting her go in front of me. Once again, this is this last 10km stretch that any marathoner is looking forward to (or is it just me?!?!). She gets a good step, have cheering from her coach. We even smile (a little) to each other and run side-by-side. Passing the left turn towards km2-mark, the guy telling time and distance is encouraging us by our name 🙂 Cool. Stretch towards the left turn and the “under-the trees”-part. This is not fun BUT this is the bloody last time I run there. Magdalena (the Polish gal) has slowed down. I kept my pace. Not a chance I drop somewhere here. I still here “Vamos chicas”, but I thought I was alone for gal. And now….seeing a British W40 passing me. Noooooooo! Not now. Final little left/up turn. Taking the outside curve to get a bottle of water. Most of it on the head. The British gal is in front of me and at a good pace. But she suddenly stops and zip her gel and water. I pass her. 33km have been passed! Hear that she is starting again and of course (!) a British guy is arriving and encouraging her. WHERE ARE MY SWEDES for encouraging me there?!?! Or French? Or Spanish?, Japanese? Brazilian? Whatever nation, I would accept the cheerings here and until the end! She has a good step, but not as coordinated with me as Luis or  the Polish gal. And she is not even breathing at the same pace as me. Aaaaahhhh…this is all disturbing now! She passes me at the right turn to the main road and is ahead of me for a few 20-50m. But I pass her. Not a chance she gets this one. Cheering squad in place. Getting my final gel for the “about 35-36km”-mark. Cheering from officials when I turn and hearing that I am at the 6th place!!! … but not for long as the Brit is passing me like, 15m after this U-turn. Once again…Nooooooo! OK, run run run. Cannot do anything else but taking my gel and drinking my water. Shouting to my fan club that they better hurry to the stadium or I will arrive before them J Getting laughs back… (thanks for the trust is my lightning-speed!). OK, forgotten the Polish gal. and the British one is increasing the distance. Reaching deep into whatever storage of strength, glycogen, stupidity or boldness that maybe left, I actually make my steps a bit longer. Stupid probably, but it does not feel much more effort to be put into this change. Less people on the side. Probably moved to the stadium. Mental pacing here – whatever it means… Final turn to the km7/17/27/37 road. All by myself. And left turn to the broken-asphalt road. Last time here as well 🙂 Acceleration (or kind-of…) to the right turn and into the woods again. Long stretch to the hippodrome – for the LAST TIME. Seeing a black guy on the side and this is my Central African runner friend. Recognizing me he cheers loud and clear that it looks good and not much is left. (well, easy to say, when you are on the side of the road… but thanks :-)). Fiiiiiiiinal stretch along the hippodrome. Have taken out my dextrosol and taken 2 at km39. I need this energy kick. Whatever it takes. 2 dextrosol after the left/up turn (where I.actually.walk.up!!!) and off.I.run. The Brit gal is out of reach. But the 40km-mark on the pavement gets me the largest smile ever! 2 more Dextrosol and that would do. How much extra energy can a brain take exactly? A zip of water would have suited well here btw… but as usual no rest for the warrior, independently how thirsty he/she might be! The British gal is stopping 150m in front of me. She walks! Tired apparently. She has a team mate reaching her however and encouraging her so she starts again. And me and my thoughts are still at this 7th place and just thinking to keep the distance stable and not letting it increase. At least I am passing the British guy 😛 And all in for what is left towards the last left turn under the trees. My Central African friend has moved up, he talks on his mobile on the side of the road and starts shouting “looking good, looking good, almost finish, looking good…no not you (to the person on the phone) I’m shouting to the gal running for Sweden you know”. At least it makes me smile J And the shadows of the trees are disappearing when I turn FOR THE LAST TIME to the right on the main road. Final cheering from those still cheering, FINAL turn left to the last straight line. OMG! Where is this 41km-mark on the pavement? Has someone moved it? Throwing my little sock and the rest of Dextrosol. I want my hands free. And I just run. Probably not the sexiest running steps in history, but who cares? More cheering from some Spanish team on the the right of the road. Here is the stadium. And the first mat. And…and…and… nooooo, happens what I thought would happen…the final U-turn is actually 140m away from the one used during lap 1, 2 and 3. All for having this race to the correct length… The British gal ain’t that far anymore and another British man is close to her. I happily pass him, turn and this is the final stretch. Actually no. It is not. There is still 240m straight before turning to the stadium and THIS means reaching the final 300m. Tunnel vision and obviously shutting down all hearing abilities as well. The only thing I see is this British back and the only thing I want is to pass it. Final left turn along the stadium, the British gal is before me and then final downhill on the right to the Stadium. She is getting on the red path before me. But there (and that the coolest and strangest thing ever experienced), the body DOES find extra strength. I pass her a bit after entering the Stadium, but not only that. I also continue to push extra. No clue on what time it is but time is irrelevant. The only thing that counts is the Red arch above the tracks. Must pass it. Acceleration (and yes probably this extra speed was in my head and I was slow like a slug, but that the thought that counts :-)). And.Here.It.Is! FINISHED!!!

Official time received later: 3:08:29 (Garmin shows 2 seconds more 🙂).

*************

After the finish line

Time does not matter. Well, yes it does. I cannot really believe that it went so well. And so fast. Surely far from lightning fast, but definitely way faster than the expectations set prior to the race! My legs are shaky. Could probably have run a bit longer, but not really after this final sprint. Taking a water bottle on the table. A few prunes and walk a bit. Back for one more water bottle and heading to the exit for the tracks. Stopped by a nice lady telling me that she was in the group cheering “Allez IKEA” and hope that it was ok to say it this way as she did not know what language to use. Of course she got a smile from me to this! Looking right and left. Nobody I recognize. I hear after a short while that the third W35 is going to cross the finish line…which makes me…the second W35! J A bit of walking and then heading back to the bag tent. Meeting G&E then. Got smiles and congratulations. Telling them that we probably have to wait a while as I have made it to the podium. More smiles. E is sent to pick up my bags, but comes back being told that only athletes can go there. Meeting the rest of the fan club. And Karin S that completed the race as well (3rd position for her age category). Quick pic and headed to the bag tent. Quick chat there to get my bag. Meeting my Central Africans running buddies. Getting a large hug from one of them, hearing that he had to drop off the half-marathon due to lack of training and too fast start. Getting a hug from his friend that apparently had been in my back since second lap without passing me at any time after I passed him. Walking back to the cheering squad. Looking at the podium and hearing we have to wait one hour for the marathon podium to start. Getting a nice place in the sun for this wait. Shaking my recovery drink mix. Changing into my easy pants (not smart to have them black as the sun is showing up and it feels pretty hot then!). Feeling clearly the deep burn in the lower back due to the seam of my hotpants. Yapp. Must be fixing this. Definitely. Keep on walking and talking. Thanking a lot for the cheering and bottle handling. All perfect! E kindly remind me my promise that if making a podium here, I would take them to the next WMAC…in Australia… Hmmmm ok, sure… I am a bit tired now. Let’s rest on this 🙂

11:45am – Getting closer to the podium. Meeting the French-speaking guys from the start, (the “2:28-guy”). How did it go then, I asked. What about the 2:28?. Well, 2:28 it was, he answers. Whaaaaaat?!?! You are the one who won the race, I answer. (yes, I know, behave should be the first thing coming to mind, but surely it is pretty cool to have chatted with a guy at start, that this guys happened to finish in exactly the time he expected AND that he is as well to be crowned world master champion W40. Respect! Meeting the two other gals to join on the podium. The winner (a Polish gal) is just so cool. She is just talking non-stop. She is drinking lots of water as she must go through anti-doping test but cannot get to the loo. This is her official PR she said. She has run in 2:40-ish before, but in smaller races or so and then there was no official time taken…. Huuuuuummmm…ok….. THAT’s the reason why I never see her throughout the race. She probably was 2km ahead of me in the first lap and by the time I finished she had increased to 4km the distance between us… Good job! Finally our turn to get on the podium. Pretty cool. Third place…blablabla…Second place….my name 🙂 …and the world champion W35…blablabla. Polish anthem to listen to and photo session for the three of us. REALLY COOL (and highly recommended 😛 )

Podium – XXI WMAC marathon W35

Down from the podium, more pic with my little fanclub, photo with the “2:28-guy” (I will learn his name, so next time we meet I won’t call him this way… Separating for having some going to the restaurant directly and E&myself walking back to the apartment. 2km feels all fine after the race. We meet this grey hair lady (W60 from the start line). She had felt a couple of time apparently, was bleeding on her shoulder, but she was so close to finish and still smiling. Respect! At the apartment, my very kind roommate had been doing my dishes. Taking a shower (NO FUN with this burn mark on the lower back), packing everything, leaving a note and the keys and time for reward at a Chinese buffet restaurant with my own personal little fanclub J Then back home the belly very happy. The body being behaving like after any regular long run. Just have to jump into my bikini, sun-cream on and enjoying the rest of this sunny afternoon laying on a sunchair in the garden. WHAT.A.DAY!

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Weather: 16ºC, Feels like 16ºC, 11 km/h NNW wind, Humidity 68% – Perfect at start, perfect in the middle, perfect at the end (when the sun decided to show itself behind the cloud cover). Got some wind during the final stretch line towards the mats during lap 2 & 3, but on the other side it was tailwind after turning. So no complaining. Great weather for running!

Food:
> before: chia porridge with banana, with soy milk + 2dl Gatorade (3am)

> right after: Vitargo Green, water, few prunes

> 2.5 hours after: Chinese buffet + 2 coke

> During: vitargo gel @km10, 20, 25, 35 (at the water stations). Dextrosol: 1 tablet every km (between km22 & 32) except the kms with Gatorade (25+, 26+, 27+). 2 tablets @km38.5, 39, 40.

Gear: SWE outfit (hotpants & singlet), sunglasses – shoes were just all-this-that-you-want-from-a-race-shoe-and-never-dare-asking. Just loving them.

=> perfect outfit for today and the weather. Only issues were 1) lack of pockets for having the dextrosol (was solved well and without burn mark, but still, not practical) and 2) burn mark due to the seam of the hotpants. To be fixed before next race.

 

16/ First half was well-done and under control. No pain, effort as it should be, no pressure. Third loop was a bit more mentally exhausting. Not easy to get along a bit alone and therefore dropped on the pace there. Last loop felt all fine (even though when looking at the time it was quite slow), but the feeling was there and the mental was very strong. This extra strength after turning towards the stadium, and then this whatever-it-is-that-I-could-have-for-breakfast-every-morning when reaching the final stretch on the tracks… Wow! This is just so extremely cool. [Fun fact: have pic and film from those last 200m on the track towards the finish line. And once again: nope! The medal of the sexiest way of running was not won there! But who cares?!?!? This was just great to feel this rush and finish high with a smile!]

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SUMMARY: Great day, going completely not as expected but so rewarding! Having a person fan club on site should not be undermined! And seeing them 4 times in 2 places was the cherry on the cake! Being the first marathon of the year, after 4.5months with no running because of a crazy left foot and a stupid tendon (apparently), 12 weeks only to prepare, a full week of heat workout to prepare for crazy hot temperatures expected on race day and ending on perfect running conditions on this Sunday… Tell me about the importance of planning! I’ll tell you about all the plan-B, C, D… that might be of used in a race 🙂 The course route was nothing but fast. Tricky part, broken asphalt and gravel, lots of U-turns or abrupt turns, ups and downs as well… Nope. Not really the WR-conditions with this 4 loops-route. But apparently it worked. On a straight line route like Dubai, the time would have probably be different. But stop with all thoughts about if or why. This was today and today only. And the route worked. (and yes, the comments I make about the route was similar to the words from the Polish world champion. She too was very surprised with all those turns and uphill and gravels and to have to go through this 4 times! She was really cool and fun while talking about this 🙂).

What makes this race great is surely the ranking and the silver medal and the fanclub, but also that the body reacted so well. Definitely not pushing much throughout the race (a bit more mentally during the 3rd loop, but this is always the case in marathon…), it was nice to see it can hold so well. And even after the race. Sure the body feels tired and stiff (I have yet to win the medal for “superwoman-not-feeling-anything-after-a-marathon-race”, if ever…), but apart from left knee and strange feeling on the bending top of the right foot, all felt fine. Light cramps felt coming during the race, but disappeared pretty fast afterwards. No sensitive Achilles heels afterwards, which makes me thing that the adjustment of the insoles was a good work. Was also cool to see the stomach and well defined abs after the race (yes, I know, that is probably due to dehydration of some kind and that was gone the day after – but still, that looked cool!)

Once again, the need for a personal pacer is still there. Anyone? I can do the talking during the race if anyone is interested in doing the pacing 🙂 And as usual, just wanting more after that. But carefully taking care of this body of mine, to ensure there are many more races of this kind in the future…and faster ones too 😛

(Lots of thanks for support and cheering during the preparation weeks. Not many were told about this race, as it felt a bit stressful actually to tell about it (this is after all a first World master championship!). And was very much hoping to have a body fit for the race. Thanks for you sending encouragement via sms the days before the race. Great thanks to my personal little fanclub, which had to bear with me during this last week of carb depletion and carboloading and training and sunbathing and and and… Sooooo rewarding to have you there. Time to rest a bit now under the Swedish sun…before next great adventures!) THANKS!

Happy smile after podium

Happy smile after podium

Nice and well-deserved silver medal

Nice and well-deserved silver medal

Me and the "2:28 guy" (aka World Champion M40)

Me and the “2:28 guy” (aka World Champion M40)

***********************

A few “after-race thoughts”

NOTE: the body felt all fine during the week before the race. Reacted well to the heat in France during the first few days. The stomach cramps felt during the final heat workouts in Sweden were just non-existent after arriving in France. Everything felt fine for standing on this starting line!

NOTE: warmup? Copy-paste from other races probably: Totally in-existent. Nothing. Not even a jog. Only lunges matrix and off you go. Apparently the body was fine with it.

NOTE: Energy/refueling during the race? Additional thanks for the fan-club and their help while handing the bottles. This makes a few seconds win actually. And that was great to be able to drink what I actually wanted. What was available otherwise was plain water. And this would have meant having the gels on me. And having no pocket on my outfit… No cramp in the stomach after swallowing (and chewing first) so many dextrosol at km38-40. Don’t know the effect and if it gives a kick, but probably a splash of water would have been welcome!

NOTE: Beetroot loading? OK, I had to try this. Because if not for the effect on the body, it could have had an effect on the mind. Had small little bottles of Beet-it but did not follow the loading suggested as it was to start during my carb depletion days and I did not want to screw up those days. So I took from carboloading day 1 up to race day. Not completely disgusting to drink, but not nice neither. Did not feel any effect of it. Don’t know what I was expecting. Maybe some kind of magic-potion-like-in-Asterix-and-Obelix… I don’t know. Anyway, I skipped the 3 first days (with one shot) and started on Thursday. 2 shots in the morning after breakfast, one extra shot at 7pm on Saturday evening and one final shot on Sunday morning 4:30am. No reaction from the stomach. Surely a bit of fun (?) to pee red, but otherwise the effect was zero. So, as I know I can run fast(er) without this (done it a few times already), as good to skip spending money on extra stuff.  At least it was tested 🙂

NOTE: Dextrosol in the sport-bra, on the back? WORKING! Not optimal to take it out, but as it has to be done only once, that works. Still, another solution and better one is yet to be found.

NOTE: XXI WMAC? Definitely fun enough to be participating in the future again! Strongly recommended. So fun to have so many nations mixed into so many events in one place at the same time 🙂


Race Report – Öloppet Sprint – 2015/08/01

Or… Tale of a “swimclimbwherethef***istherunpart” race…
image

Planned: Get around in a good time, test this swinrun thing, have fun

Actual: Experience is what makes us grow, right? Yaaaa…sure! Some experiences ain’t really necessary maybe. But done is done!

Let’s start with numbers:

03:06:35 – time it took for getting us round the route

9 – place mixed team

35 – place total

22425 – length in meters for the whole race

2610 – total distance for the swim

19815 – total distance for the “run”

200 – total of teams registered to the Öloppet Sprint

374 – number of times I said “Sorry” to Johan when not keeping up the pace

218 – number of times I asked Johan to slow down or wait

0 – number of time I thought about dropping of the race

57 – number of times I swore in French during the race (among which 4 were done out loud. Rest was in my head…)

5 – number of times I swore in Swedish during the race (3 out loud, rest in my head)

1 – number of times I fell on the face during the race

54 – weight Johan was pulling throughout the race (mostly during the climbwherethef***istherun parts)

48 – number of small cuts detected and undetected on the hands, fingers, thighs and other parts of the body (more to be discovered I assume – always noticed when in the water)

4:13 – pace of the last 1,6km of the race to the finish line

7*3cm – surface for the bruises on the left knee

6 – number of mixed teams we passed during the final 2,5km

3 – number of sea swimming training done prior to the race…all in July

OK, probably plenty of other fancy numbers can be found. Let’s start with the beginning of this tale… 2012 (?) got suggested by Anton S. about participating to Öloppet. Sounded like an idea but all places were already sold. More talk during 2013, but unsure would suit with the marathon and other races plans. Quiet then until hearing more with Eva F winning 2013 edition and Johan P reaching 3rd place of the shorter Öloppet edition 2014. OK, just a little push and November 1, 2014 registration was done with Johan P as partner in crime. Eight months later, standing on the start line with wonderful green swimming cap and yellow singlets. 12:00 – start is given. A bit back though.

06:30am – up and breakfast @7:00am with chia+banana porridge and green mix. Water drinking. Never done this race so did not really know how to load energy for it.

image

Outfit ready for the race

07:30am – bag checked for the 5th time and ready to bike to the ferry.

07:59am – OK, took way shorter time than expected to get to the ferry and lay down on a bench enjoying the morning sun while waiting for Johan. Nice run snack when he arrived and finally on-board the ferry (and more run-talk).Felt very relaxed and all looked actually bright for the day even the weather! Arriving on Styrsö-island and there were the brave preparing for Öloppet (the long one). We get ourselves registered, got our start-kit and spend the rest of the wait taking our breakfast. Decided to eat a bit as my breakfast was a while ago: bread with omelette and 3 slices of ham + orange juice and tea. Johan got a good breakfast and 3 (or 4?) coffee mugs. Hoping that my stomach will keep the food as it is less than 2hours before start.

11:00am – heading to the changing area (walking up up up and finally getting there). Queue to the loo so decided to skip it and get myself ready, which means: warmup cream with chili on the thighs and calves, vaseline all over the body where there can be friction during the race, suncream which is supposed to be repulsive to jelly fish on all body parts not covered by the wetsuit, wetsuit on, repack the clothes, queue to the loo, more Vaseline, cream on the face (which I wondered for a while whether it was Vaseline or suncream and hope for the latter one), drop the bag, find Johan and head to the start.

11:42am – getting close to the first line. Decided that the first run of 400m+ was probably very fast so as good to be first there. Meeting with people Johan knows. Listening to the final instructions.

11:59:50am – final countdown out loud…

****

Öloppet Sprint at start - still smiling!

12:00pm – start is given and the race is on. As expected it goes like crazy fast directly left and shortly after right. Johan is passing in front of me and I follow gladly (hoping that the pace would be sliiiiightly slower afterwards!). Reaching the water I get the rope from Johan and attach it to my home-made rope-belt. Swimgoogles on and off in the water. I think we were quite early in the water. And it did not even feel cold. Johan had shown me the flag to follow on the other side which is the first island t reach. Crazy many people swimming and the rope between us is a very good idea. I got to pull for the first part and then Johan changed as I headed a bit wrong. It feels long but ok. Don’t like having people swimming on each other at the pool and here it is exactly what is happening. But ok.

First island is reached, tricky to get up on the feet as it is pretty muddy (and me who does not like the mud or anything close to it…). Johan is heading directly to the little cliff to climb. Yapp…starting with some climbing, but I follow where Johan’s feet are landing. Feeling fine. I am expecting a good run when reaching the top of the cliff…and meet…more climbing, sliding down the hill, Johan having a good rhythm but the rope between us means I have to follow a similar rhythm. And playing the mountain goat ain’t my cup of tea (and will never be). There starts the first “please slow down”, mixed with a couple of “sorry”. Try to follow Johan’s instructions of NOT slowing down when going down the cliff and just follow (otherwise it takes forever AND I probably slide and fall). Little swim to the next Island Köpstadsö and there…Nope…still no running and more climbing. When we finally get some running, we miss the left turn. I shortly stop for tying my stupid shoelaces (and yes, I did a double knot before start) and we run incorrectly at a really decent pace to find ourselves with 3 other teams in a stop area. Turn back and find the correct path. Loosing quite a lot of places there. More climbing and walking and finally some walkswimwhateveryoumaycallit to the next island. Long swim there (cannot remember much of it apart from that I pulled and then Johan pulled and then I pulled and finally arrived on the next island Asperö. Johan takes the lead and it ain’t easy to get out of the water. Nothing enjoyable that I recall there. Climbing, run on stones (wet ones), happy to get in the parts with real roads to run on…but it is already time to jump into the bloody water again (cannot understand we do that when there IS actually a ferry doing this route 😛 ).

OK, here is a part that I have NO idea where it is during the race, but I think it is before Brännö or before Asperö. There is water ahead so we plan to swim. On with the swim glasses and in the water. Walking a bit, it is muddy. Very muddy. Trying to swim but my hands are touching the bottom and cannot see anything in the water (which is so mud-filled). Decided to skip the swim and do some walking instead, which makes my legs going deep into the mud (up to the knee-like?) which does not make the walking very practical. So question: there is water. You cannot swim and cannot walk. How do you get to the other side? 😦 Not liking it.at.all.

Have to recognize that after the first swim I said “one done, eight to go”, I knew that after passing Galterö we would have gone half the full distance and there was only two long swim left and running. BUT this was when I had checked and studied the route map. Well on place and running, the only thing I focused on was not to fall. Looking at Johan’s footsteps and setting my shoes where he had set his. During a slippery-stone passage (which was called “run”…), Johan advised wisely to run with light steps, spend the shortest time on each stone and go fast. For a while my mind only thought about “light feet, fast feet, light feet, fast feet…”. Worked well! Tips which I followed for the rest of the race. And THEN when we had reached quite a good rhythm on those stupid #%&!!?& stones or whatever, happened what I did not want to happen. I fell. Unsure exactly where we were (no comment on my orientation abilities here: I AM good at orientating myself, but here, no clue where we were and seriously, I was not really enjoying the landscape and only looked at…yes, Johan’s footsteps and calve. He made it looking so easy and light. “Mountaingoat” ability: ON). Arriving at a progressive downhill, almost dried stones, focusing as usual on light steps, quick steps and there comes this guys from the left and “take.my.stone”… Meaning this was the stone Johan had his foot on and just left and that my foot was to use. Now I just got without stone and my left foot just met nothing but the emptiness. Fell fast and quick reflex got my hands first. Right hand got a bad smash on the palm, cannot recall what happened with the left hand but only that it got on a stone as well. The face fell right on a stone as well. Left side. And the left knee hit a stone as well (but mostly because this particular stone was a bit big, otherwise the knee would have been kind-of fine). Remained this way, face on the stones for what seemed forever. Noticed the shadows around of the guys stopping to check on what happened. Johan coming back and asking how it is. Felt terrified that my face was all bloody and with a bone broken. Really did not want to turn on my back then. Which I eventually did. Heard voices, comforting ones. But honestly the only thing I recall was the sun in my eyes, shadows all around, Johan checking up on me and asking kindly how it was. Suggesting to stop for a while. Felt tears in my eyes and hearing myself that we were just to continue. That the knee was fine but the face must be checked. Johan telling the face was not showing anything wrong and no bleeding, that we could rest a while. Seriously, cannot remember how long time took this whole happening, everything went so extremely fast and I just did not want to see my face completely broken. Don’t know how I got on sitting position and then standing. The left knee was clearly hurting a bit after the fall, but the worse was to feel the pain on the left side of my face. Looked at my hand palms. They had been covered with blood since the first going out on the first island and now they had blood and dirt. Which I really did not want on my chick. Which felt really crazily swollen. Johan wisely took a slower pace and was carefully asking how it was. I kept looking around for some water, any water to get on my face for cooling down the pain. But nope. There.was.no.water.anywhere.to.be.found. We did eventually reach the end of Känsö to get into the sea. Must be there we had to jump (and yes, this is on the list of the things I put my full trust in Johan. Just jumped).

This long swim was tricky. Boats on each side, but it was very broad between them. And it felt we took the outside part. Was pulling for a while and then Johan corrected the direction and took the lead. All the bruises, cuts, pain on the face were just not feeling at all in the cool water of the sea. Nice. Skipped thinking about the darkness of the sea under us and focused on following Johan. Changed from crawling to breaststroke as it made my left knee moving and felt actually better. Was able to keep up the pace from Johan, so that was ok. But man…this was a long swim! When reaching the stones, Johan got slightly on the right and off the water. Unfortunately I could not get out.at.all. He pulled but it was too slippery. A guy behind me took my hand and tried to help, but still slippery. He then kindly told me that we did not know each other but would be friend now and nicely push my bum up J Nice and happily on the first stone, I thanked him and noticed we still had a bit of climbing to do. But it felt fine (well, it was climbing on the whole four, so not enjoyable, but we made it worked). We were way off timewise. Checked my watch indicating 2hrs 30 and we were still NOT on the last island. Got to the final swim, which I think went well (and yes, I did not listen to Johan and left myself be pulled. Swam on the side of him, unsure it was good or bad, but at least we reached the final ladder at the same time).

FINALLY, last island. Styrsö. 6km plain run. Starting with a bit of stone climbing, Johan being very good at orientating where to go. Reaching the little harbour, swearing for getting my pullbuyo in place, hearing a friend cheering (always nice to hear my name in a race) and it was on! The feeling on the asphalt under the feet…hmmmmm…so crazy nice! Passing a mixed team and asking whether this had been the last swim and they confirmed it. Johan was strong and running well. Pulling definitely but I felt that I was able to run and keeping up the pace. Not in those stupid uphill that the route had, but for the rest. “2 mixed ahead, we take them” – said Johan. And indeed we passed them with not much effort. Just continuing. Was a bit (read: completely…) disoriented and was not sure how long was left. Turning left and passing one more mixed team. Always this done. And then seeing the arrival…but we had to turn left and up the little hill, very stiff and Johan that still makes the whole thing looking like “piece of cake-running”. Passing two giants walking and I do my best to run up on light feet and mostly front feet. But there is more uphill. WHY? This is an island and not a high one! Getting into the forest or whatever it is. Been there last year, so I recognize a bit. “Keep right” I hear Johan saying and the people we pass are kindly doing it and cheering bit. Passing 2 mixed teams in the woods and more running and finally on the asphalt again and turning left. This is the final km a gal is yelling to us. Yaaaa….sure… have heard that before. We are meeting teams with white singlets, those on the final line from Öloppet. Johan has increased slightly the pace and it feels good to run, passing people and getting some cheerings. Looking in front of us and there is one mixed team – “we get them as well” said Johan quietly and I just agree. Aaaaand done. Last little bump to run and there is this nice light downhill and straight.to.the.finish.line…Nooooooo! there is a mixed team still in front of us. Yes we take them as well. Johan had this extraordinary strength since we reach the last asphalt and he still finds extra strength for running and pulling me. My feet are no longer touching the ground. The mixed team must hear us coming and they turn to look and accelerated, the gal getting closer to her partner, but Johan is just wow-running fast. I hear myself telling him it is too fast but the finish line is just there. My feet get on the grass and then it is only short to the finish. Passing the line. Hearing our names and team name from the speaker. Stupidly short area for the arrival makes me bump into a guy in front of me and falling nicely on the back on the grass. We done it. We arrived. We are finished. Johan smiles and look far from tired.

The adrenaline of the final run made me forgetting about my knee and my face and it all comes back now. Up on my feet. Getting water and a Redbull. Salted pickles. More water. Getting our finisher bag and meeting Johan in the crowd. Hug and smile. Checked at the medic tent. She does not think anything is broken on the face nor on the knee. Nothing can be done. Just wait and see how it will look like later. Got all the cuts on the fingers cleaned up and that is all.

AFTER THE RACE:

Walking back to the change area (i.e more climbing), and yes Johan is correct saying that I am far from being trained for running on terrain, but that the route this year was far from fun as last year. Climbing was just NOT part of the deal. Quick shower, not feeling any burn mark on the body – which is good, meeting Johan outside. Chat and then heading back to the tent for eating. Johan takes an early ferry and I remain on the island for a bit longer. Bike home in the evening then, feeling that my right wrist is not too kind with me when changing the gear of the bike.

SUMMARY: Been there, done that, got the tshirt and won’t do it again. Seriously, some parts felt pretty dangerous and not just because I am not an elite runner on terrain. Saw a few falling and many must have ended with bruises and bloody bodyparts. The challenge of running terrain and swimming in the sea was definitely on and it is done. The second part for the swimming in the sea went strangely better than expected (apart from the disgusting swim-walk parts in muddy water). But the run was far from fun or entertaining. Way more climbing compared to last year apparently and this made the whole experience far from fun. Thanks for Johan it went fine from start to end. Without this incredible pulling force ahead of me, it would have taken way longer time to complete the whole route. The evening was spent with massaging the knee with anti-inflammatory cream and arnica cream for the bruises on the face. Surprisingly the right hand and fingers stopped functioning in the evening, impossible to move them at all. Which felt a bit scary. In the morning they were “fine”. The whole body felt a bit tired and sore. Nothing that could stop from going out on Sunday morning for a long run (heat workout…) however. 🙂