Race Report – VSM halfmarathon Hultsfred 2016/09/03
Planned: sub90. Not completely a training-race, but surely not full all-in.
Actual: 1:29:58 – PB on this route (1st time run :-P). Good start, stable first half, confident up to km14, then fight with stomach cramps from km15 and final sprint in 4:06 on the last km. Very satisfied with the place, not that much about the time. But under the circumstances, that will do.
Swedish Masters Championships in half-marathon… Nice 2 loops-route, with 70% gravel and the rest asphalt (yeaaah!). Windy as NOT expected for the stretch down (and of course you get it twice…). Inexplicable stomach cramps requiring a drastic slow down in pace, but enough fighting spirit to get to the end and even sprint to get under 90minutes. Never loose hope!
Place: 1 age category (i.e gold medal & Swedish Master Champion in half-marathon K40) / 4 – all women / 42 all runners 🙂
Splits (unofficial – Garmin)
In short: the time first: real rubbish – should have gone way faster. Now about the placing: Yoooohooo! So glad to get first place and a gold medal. Real cool to be “Swedish Master Champion in half-marathon (W40)”. Surely as cool as being “Vice-world Master champion in marathon (W35)” last year!
BEFORE THE RACE
The week before…
This special race started actually a week before. Had in mind to run it, had it on my list from spring-planing, but it just disappeared when setting the races calendar for September to October. Completely forgotten it. Came under a discussion with Tricky and after checking the location of the race and the participants, I contacted a registered one for possible co-driving to the race. Took a couple of days to finally got confirmed that I could have a place in one of the cars aiming to the race. That’s how training plans changed a 32km-long run into a Swedish Masters Championships in half marathon…
The day before…
Easy run in the morning with picking up bagels at half-way and then regular workday. The legs felt fine and eager to run. All seemed in place for a very nice race the day after (even though it was not THE race of the year, it is still a Swedish championships…). In bed not too late. Checked at least three times that the alarm was set properly…
Alarm rang at 4:10am. Felt all fine and ready to run. A pity the race was not starting THEN! Took it easy to wake up mind and body. Breakfast of sesame bagel with honey and mint tea and a banana. Added green mix with green C-vitamin as well. And a little sport drink. Breakfast for champions! Got myself ready with today’s racing outfit being ADIDAS Supernova Blue line shorts, Casall Iconic black sports bra MIK and superfast ADIDAS Adizero Adios Boost – Purple (Quicky). Added in the bag an extra change of running clothes as well as arm sleeves and MIK singlet. The bag weighted way too heavy for a race and 3 hours drive… But all the “just-in-case” were included! Had extra food and gels for the race, sport drinks and a change of clothes.
5:15am – Left home to get to the meeting point where Anders P would be picking me up. All fine. Met Mikael Z as well and off we went. Lots of running talk in the front of the car. Nice drive to reach the start area (well, I was resting on the back seat!).
8:15am or so – Reached destination, met with other Lerums runners and picked up our BIB. Quite grey skies, little drizzle. Was wondering a bit regarding the outfit to have. But decided to go for the original choice: sports bra & shorts. Added arms sleeves for the warmup. Got help from Anders P for attaching my age category on the back (this is very good to keep an eye on who is in your age category…and pass them if possible before the finish line 🙂 ).
9:20am – time to get to the ladies change room. And get this warmup done. Easy 3km on light legs. Took a km from the start and then a little bit from the halfway and down. The race being a two loops-route of 10.5km with a 5km loop from start and back and then a 5.5km loop from halfway and back. Dropped my bag and skipped the arm sleeves. The sun was out! A bit a lot of gravel on the route… that would be an experience! Took a gel about 30minutes from start. The stomach felt a bit hungry and empty…
10:05am – start of the marathon race. Just a little more wait…
10:10am – ready to start now. All half-marathoners were also ready. Find two others gals in my age category and those ones are the ones to be watched… Of course trying to follow Karin S was NOT in the plan, but to have 2-3minutes difference to the max would be nice! So for sure the plan was to win the age category and get under 90minutes.
10:14am – final countdown. A couple of runners are getting into position…Sun is shining…
10:20am – GO! Nice and easy start. No pushing, just well-behaving runners here! Got a good luck from Anders P and then see him disappearing in the steps of Karin S. Running the first 200m on gravel is fine…well a bit too fine as it goes a bit too slow for my taste. Turning left and we get to the asphalt. All fine just running, tricky to get the second turn right as a guy is actually cutting my way and then he settles in a slightly slower/annoying pace. Impossible to pass him without going either on the left (and thee are three on the breadth…) or on the right (and this means running in the field…). I don’t use the “elbow-forward-and-pushing” method. Not on my list (well, at least not when it comes down to finding a place to run right before km1!!!) Passing km1 right above 4min. All fine. The wind is taking its due now and trying to find a wind-shield (or two…) ain’t easy task. Two gals are approaching (one K40 and one KS – senior). They are apparently running together, so my plan is to keep them close and definitely not let them in front of me before the finish line as it would mean not loosing one but two places then (on the total…). The KS-gal is getting on my left after passing this first km and she is quite close to the “slow-guy-that-passed-me”. Not enough to get in-between. Just have to wait for my turn. Turning right and we reach soon km2. I see the opportunity there to pass the guy and the two gals as well. Good. This one is in line with my plan, i.e. all km between 4 and 4:10 until halfway. We pass a little bridge and turn again. Meaning we are soon at half the first little North loop of 5km. And we reach gravel…again. And the wind is coming as well…again. Head or sidewind? Does not really matter. There are no possibility to hide behind someone as by now the head runners are far away and there is only a long line of one or two runners running on the path. Ok, deciding to make it through the next km on my own, even if it means slowing down. Not hearing when passing km3 but noticing that km4 is slightly before what Garmin says. So correcting the lap there. Good good. Feeling fine, despite my feet sliding back a bit on the gravel. Have to really learn how to run on this! Have been passed by a gal during the straight line after km2.5. AAAAAAAnnoying! But she has “KS” on the back, meaning she ain’t in my category. I let her go then 😛 Then follows a bit of “snake-like” running (i.e. the route is a bit zigzaging there. For sure we have had a little uphill as well (or call it a slope or whatever…it just went up and then down between the farms we have passed at km3 or so. Good to know for next time we pass here! More running under the trees and starting to hear the speaker. i.e. the first north loop is soon finished. Reaching the start area, hearing my name, clocking km5 on 20:30 but had no idea as I am fully focused on the next part with the wind 😦 More gravel and still not possible to find any wind-shield. Talk about chivalry manners! Not a single guy ready to sacrifice his placing and/or tempo to cut the wind to a lady in need… The long km (including the km6-sign) is really annoying with the side-wind. And seeing the flags flying perpendicular to the ground AIN’T HELPING! Reaching now a part under the trees where it “feels” easier to run (but it is still stupid gravel and I still cannot run efficiently on this..:) Km6 & 7 are getting pretty slow and way above the tolerance levels I had planned. Seeing 4:2x at this moment of the race is NOT a good sign. Feeling good though, but still not finding the correct steps on the gravel. Passing now runners from the marathon since a couple of km. Getting some cheering and that is cool. Have been listening to music since km2 as it helped covering the wind. Seeing the faster runners of half-marathon coming from the opposite direction. OK, they must be like 2.5km ahead of me or so. Seeing Karin S, Anders P and co passing on the other side. Getting some cheering and thumbs up from a Lerum guy. Soon reaching the turning point. No longer fun… The two gals KS & K40 have caught up on me and pass me a bit before reaching the water station. Nooooo! Kind enough for cheering and encouraging me, so I am settling into their steps. Taking a glass of water, missing the mouth totally and getting only a little. Am more focused on NOT falling or turning badly my ankle on the grass we are running on at the water station. Dangerous here! The two gals are running in the pace I should have, so I try to keep a correct distance right behind them. Still too slow here but surely reaching the asphalt soon…and when we do… I feel my legs having a new life again! Yooohooo! 10-20m is separating me from the two ladies from the moment we reach the asphalt. I get closer to them and by the time we reach the km20-mark (this is for the second loop), I have caught up those stupid distance between us. We are running all three side-by-side and I can see that the KS-gal is the one driving. The K40 is hanging there but the steps she is taking looks so long and easy…I want mine to look THAT easy! Passing km9 a bit slow still but it is only 12km to go and 1.5km to halfway. Back to gravel, difficult to accelerate there. Km10 is passed a little above 42minutes. Good. Still as in the plan. Taking the first dextrosol there. Will do so for the next 5km every second km. Reaching half-way in 44:xx, which my head uses to calculate the potential finish time. Ain’t working too well, so after a few 100s I stop even trying… The KS-gal has taken two glasses of water at halfway and throw them when still on the gravel…and one bumped onto my head. Really surprised! But just laughing at it. She falls into excuses but that’s all ok. No need to worry about an empty plastic cup that flew on the top of my head 🙂
We are back to the north loop and the asphalt again. The K40-gal is dropping in her pace a bit, having the best cheering ever from her KS-friend. I am just hanging there. Have stopped the music in my ears since km10. Passing km11 and it is me and the KS-gal now. Side-by-side. Loving it! She has THE perfect step (ie. Completely in sync with mine… or the contrary…I don’t know). Even her breathing is in sync. Of course from time to time it just change, but she is good! Exchanging a couple of words. We are so close that our arms are touching sometimes. The K40-gal is no longer in our steps. I cannot see her (I have no eyes in the back of my head…) but I can feel that we are alone. We are holding a good pace…well…for a marathon… this is too slow for my plans, but it feels good and I am still in first K40-place and 3-4 for the women. Passing the little bridge again and turning right on the gravel again. So nice to know this is the last time we pass this part. Looking at the marathon-signs and calculating quickly that they are 500m different from ours. I count down to the end of this loop and to the end of the race, then to the end of the next little loop and the end of the total marathon. Takes me up to km13 or so where the farms are to remember/realize that I am not in for the full marathon. We are passing a few guys there, both marathoners and half-marathoners. Getting greetings along the way. That warms the heart and the head! We are just good. Back to the “snake-like” part. Passing guys there and who even move themselves to let us pass. All smiles on! Getting closer to the end of this north loop. Hearing the speaker getting closer and closer. Feeling fine still, also a few signs are popping up as I can hear my running buddy pushing me a bit more there. Am I dropping in pace? Getting to the start area again. Hearing our names, taking a glass of water and hop on the head. Feels good. And we are on the south loop now and the stomach starts to cramp. Slightly but becoming more and more distinct. We have now run over 15km and I am a little bit slower than planned. 1Minute maybe? Had in mind to pass it in 1:02+ and we are both over 1:03+. Putting this on the gravel is a bit much. Getting to the km6-sign again I have now dropped a few meters from my running buddy. The wind is not helping. I want to stop but don’t know how much time it would take for starting again. And I don’t do pitstop in a race. Don’t want to throw up neither. The stomach is just not happy. Want to bend and just stop. Putting back music in the ears. Choosing the craziest song I have on it. Good But seeing the leading guy of the half-marathon passing on the asphalt street above my stupid gravel path is giving me even more motivation. I am at km17+ so he really has 2+km to go. I want to be where he is instead of where I am. Looking at the fast guys passing by from the opposite direction is helping my mind to focus on something else than this stupid stomach. Reaching the “under-trees” path now. I don’t even bother looking at the watch. I know I am close to snail-pace. Just don’t let any K40 pass. The KS-gal has not accelerated but she is getting further and further away from me. I am just dropping in pace. Seeing soon Karin S straight and cool in her running, Anders P right in the back. More Lerum guys showing a smile. OMG! Thanks for the help! Focusing on reaching the next km is my mission now. It is just that I am not seeing the km-signs any longer. I just want to stop and do whatever it takes to make those cramps stop. Reaching the grass-area closer and closer to the water-station. The KS gal is too far ahead. I know I won’t be able to make it up before the end of the race. Please give me a marathon instead!!! Trying to reach my gel on the back of my sports bra but it ain’t working. Cannot find it (and there is NOT much place there). Passing the water station ignoring the water. My focus is down and the running on the grass ain’t working well, with an ankle turning a bit strangely but once again I make it and continue running. Don’t want to turn and check if any chick is close to me. Seeing the K40-gal on the way back. And then another lady. And another one. I have NO clue how far we are from each other and I won’t let myself check this. Focusing on the KS-gal who is soooo far by now (well, not THAT far, but by now the mind is not really willing to cooperate. Cannot focus on the stomach AND on estimating the distance at the same time). Finally reaching my gel and feeling that it is stupidly thick like h*ll. How can that be? They can be from liquid when it is quite warm to more gel but here it feels that it is hard like concrete!!! Having trouble to even get some in the mouth. Taking finally a little of it. Mixing with the saliva. Getting cheering from chick on the other side of the road. One more try with the gel before I throw it (sorry… I throw it in the forest part and I did not intend to do it. The mind is even thinking of running back to pick it up and reaching instead the next rubbish bag). Nooo… straight forward. I know the km9-sign is close after we have reached the asphalt. I just want to see it. The legs are getting a new life when reaching the pavement. Hello km9-sign. Just so loving it when I see it! It is 1.5km to finish. Still seeing the KS-gal. The aim is more to pick up place with one or two guys. But not that many ahead of me unfortunately. Passing km20 and turning right. Now it is is. Quick check at the watch indicate over 1:25 close to 1:26. Meaning that if I run a crazy sprint to the end I might make it under 90minutes. Yeaaaahhh…sure… it is not ONE km to go, it is onekilometerandninetysevenmeters, meaning it needs to be completed in 4 minutes or less…the total distance… Superwoman-strengths suddenly came out. What is wrong with me? Where were those strengths 5km ago? Don’t spend too much time reasoning on this. Running behind a guy and reaching …gravel again. But for the last time this time. So great feeling this one. Seeing the little 21km-sign. Loving it so much. Not too fund of the clock though. Ticking up. 1:29:54…55…56… Hearing my name, wonderful…and passing the finish line. Stopping the watch. 1:29:58. OK. I did not make it. Sub90 is gone. (swore little then, noticing it only when I see the smiles from two functionaries after the finish line. Sorry…). At least I got the win in my age category.
Official time: 1:29:58
AFTER THE FINISH LINE
Not fully tired, I am however walking a bit bend as the final sprint has destroyed completely my stomach. The cramps are close to unbearable. But I still smile. I think. Getting my nice medal. A glass of water and a banana. Waiting a little at the water-table, half-bent and hoping this will disappear. And it does not. Getting a big hug from the KS-gal. Who also apologizes again for throwing her plastic mug on my head. Trying to laugh, but it hurt the stomach so badly that I congratulate here and move to the changing rooms. Meeting Anders P, who recommends to continue to walk so that the stomach would feel better. I don’t even ask his time and turn back for it. Annoying me not even able to be happy for hearing his cool new PB. Changing rooms now. Good that they are empty. So much for the glamour of running (if any), spending time in the loo after the race as the stomach is just emptying itself. The worse is that it does not feel much better afterwards. Getting my bag then because I feel that I should change. Meeting two small girls who are so willing to run that I leave my bag again to their dad and take them to the tack for running a few laps. Real fun. Nothing wrong with my legs, the hips are fine. But the stomach ain’t having fun. By half-way of the track I realize that I am running with twin-girls… (I thought I was so in need for carbs that the mind was playing games with me!). Getting more water, finishing my run. Shower (very hot one), this helps for the stomach apparently. Karin S has run an impressive 1:25-race and all the ladies in the room are mostly happy about their race. Changing to warm clothes and the stomach almost feels better. Taking a protein drink and time to get under the sun. Getting a hot-dog as well before meeting the Lerum guys who are all smiling and laying down on the grass. A couple of PBs (and very good ones). I just want to lay down here on the grass under the sun and rest. Race awards are distributed (missing the 3place by 38 seconds is a bit annoying me…) but climbing the highest step of the podium for my age category and getting a nice gold medal is helping a bit to forget (both the rubbish time and the 3rd-place miss). A few more that I know are reaching the podium too (among others Michael T and Annette K) which is cool!
Time to get back home. Anders P and Mikael Z get some energy for the road. I get a coke, but really feel so bad that I would rather remain laying here on the grass under the sun than sitting in a car for three hours, even with nice company. Good drive home with only one stop and more coke to drink. Celebration will have to wait until the stomach is ready for it… That was still a great day for racing and not regretting to have taken this race before a 32km-long run 🙂
Weather: 17.8° Cloudy, Feels like 17.8°, 14 kph WSW wind, 94% humidity – well, it was actually sunny and nice. But windy.
Food: breakfast (bagel w/honey + tea + banana + green mix/C-vitamin) @4:30am / banana +sportdrink during transport. / After: banana soon after arrival+protein drink after the shower. Then coke right before leaving home and another one after 1/3 of the drive.
During: Aptonia melon after warm-up, Dextrosol: 1 @km10-12-14, red gel @km18.5 (no water)
Gear: ADIDAS Supernova blue line shorts, Casall Iconic sport bra MIK, arm sleeves. Shoes felt all nice and ready to rock!
Shoes: ADIDAS Adizero Adios Boost – Purple (Quicky)
15/ Stable 14 up to halfway, then less effort during next 5km as slowing down for stomach pains, the final km was a blast, but not too sure it went that high on effort level. Annoyed to have missed 87 & 88 minutes, but still and for sure, a sub90 by 2 seconds ain’t THAT fun, but it is still a sub90 😉 Gravel ain’t my favourite terrain. But it treated my Achille’s well (no sensitivity whatsoever after the race!)
A few “after-race thoughts”
NOTE: Third sub90 on “training-race”. Even though not fully happy to be that close to the 90minutes… Definitely not all-in on this one.
NOTE: Weather-wise, I cannot do anything about it. Sidewind was no fun to run in. Happy to have trained in this still. But more work to be done to be stronger there.
NOTE: Time and place? Rubbish for the first one and wonderfully happy for the second one 🙂 Have a clear understanding on how the pace dropped and why and when. Nothing could have been done differently from this part to the end. Very happy to have not stopped and completed the race this way anyway.
NOTE: Warmup? Maybe a bit faster than I should have. But felt ready for running at expected pace from start: Would have gladly run a couple more km before the race though.
NOTE: Drinking & energy during the race? Drinking was as usual close to in-existent. (this is a copy/paste for all the race I think!!!) and using plastic mugs is even worth than paper ones. Cannot fold them correctly and cannot drink. Dextrosol worked fine. Red gel was too thick, but definitely kicked in at the end.
NOTE: a repeat from Halmstad/Prinsensminne regarding the stomach pain. Although in Halmstad the pains arrived 2 hours after the race and remained for the rest of the day: But absolutely not this level of cramping as I had today.
NOTE: Cool and cosy race on a quick fast route. Good organization. Recommended!
And to finish a huge thanks to Anders P for driving me down there, otherwise I would not have run this race 🙂