Running longer and faster… a few thoughts…

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Race Report – Fiskebäcksloppet 2016/06/06

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Happy first 3!

Planned: under 45 (as the recognition run the week before was done in 47 minutes)..although thinking that close to 41-42 minutes was doable

Actual: 42:50
place: 3rd 🙂

BEFORE THE RACE

Good night’s sleep with eyes opened at 5:35am (sun and light outside…). Back to sleep for a little longer and finally rolled myself outside the bed around 8am. Running gear on, quick kisses to ET and off to the asphalt. Nice in the air and sunny. Took a real easy run to get some croissants for breakfast and that was it. Nothing fancy. Breakfast of pains au chocolat (there was no croissant…), one egg and ice mint-tea. All fine. Final prep for GET and started to turn round round round at home, waiting for leaving to the race. Good for vacuum-cleaning and getting some laundry done 🙂 Checking for the 5th time my hang-along-bag. On with race gear apart from the shoes. Finally 12:00pm and time to get to the tram. Really calm and quiet city on this Swedish national day. Then bus to the start area. A bit odd with all this calm. Was expecting to hear a bit from the bus-stop, but nothing. Walked a part of the race route and still nothing. A few pedestrians taking a nice walk under the sun. But no runner. And finally the start area.

1:15pm – got my BIB and tshirt. Found Lennart B-MIK and chatted a little. Then went to lay down on the grass and under the sun for the next 45minutes. Quick pitstop in the woods before changing my shoes to racing shoes and I was ready. Left my bag and went for an easy warm-up on the first 2.5km of the race. The best part of the warm-up was three small boys stopping me at the top of the first hill asking me if I was running the race: Yes, I answered. Are you first or last? they asked. Well, the race has not started yet, I answered. Isn’t it cheating to start before all the others then? they concluded. Received a large smile from me and they promised to cheer when they’ll see me later on. Felt all fine while running. As expected the headwind was really killing me. But I was hoping for finding some backs to follow during the part km1,3-2. Additional and final quick stop in the woods. Find back Christopher-MIK on the football field when I got back. As well as Lennart-MIK and Helen-MIK. All fine under the sun. Warmup well-executed!

2:45pm – took a short 600m easy + accelerations additional warm-up (or “leg shaking”) and that was it. Back to my bag and decided to go for having music in the ears. Mostly because I was expecting to have some solo-running during the race and did not want to slow down. Meeting Hanna O from Solvikingarna and Carina from Sävedalen right before the start. Appeared we were fours ladies in the “<40 minutes” start-group.

2:55pm – final check to my shoes. Ready with the music. So nice and airy start-group! Nobody pushing and no body contact neither before start 🙂

30 seconds to start… oulala! So short time? Really?

The RACE

Aaaaaand that was it! Start is given. Got passed by mostly guys. Hanna O is heading there as well and I have another gal on my side (she arrived 2nd in Näsetloppet in May and Hanna got 1st place there). Not a chance I can hang along. But actually I did …f or 1.3km 😛 We started with 270m of gravel/dust and then a 150m stiff-but-short hill. Fortunately asphalt. Took it on the top of the toes, the other gal took it easier and passed me anyway by the top of the hill. As expected, this first hill was already separating the runners a bit. Got a large smile and “Heja” (“Hurrah-cheering” in Swedish) from one of the boys from earlier who recognise me. And downhill after that. Felt all nice. Had been passed by Måns-MIK during the running uphill. Decided to keep him in sight as he ran well in 44minutes last year and 41 minutes in recent race this year. Just had to keep his back not too far away. New turn right and new slope. Not as stiff this time. Runners were more disparate already. Downhill and back to the gravel/dust area. NOW the stupid wind came into play. Had the gal in orange quite close 10-20m ahead of me. But the wind!!! tried to get closer to a guy in front of me to skip the wind (and skip eating his dust too…) but it did not work that well. Came closer to the gal when we rounded the area. Running on the grass felt actually a little better (for once!) but that was only short. After passing km2 and noticing that the 4:02-tempo (really?!?!?) of the first km had dropped to 4:03 (not a disaster, but it should have been WAY faster on this part and had expected sub4 for this particular km…) but ok. Run run run and got along with a few guys then, which I will follow for a while. Måns was quite a bit ahead now. 100m? The gal in orange had drifted further and passed him. By km2, the objective was to keep this third place among women. Of course I had no idea how was the field and if there was anyone close to me…and there was anyway 8km to go… Passing the football-field from the start. Got cheering from Anna H-MIK (winner of last year race with a real indecent time…). And soon it was finished with the gravel/dust part. THANK YOU FOR THE ASPHALT! (and the warmth coming with it…). Crossing the road and got passed by two guys running sooooo crazily easy that I felt that I really should accelerate a bit. Passing them on the right side and then passing the Fiskebäcks Church and turning left. SHADOOOOOOOOW! Yoooohooo! For a few seconds and then it was more running on this crazy slow-and-progressive uphill. Before getting a stiffer one up into the woods. The nice part was that 3km had disappeared. Only 7 to go. The less nice part was that it was uphill and in the woods. Meaning had to check where I set my feet as well as checking where the guys in front of me where putting theirs. Passed a few. Ran once again on the top of the toes (it feels that the Achille’s heels prefer it this way actually…) And turning left, no really sure I was smiling there…too much focus on setting the feet correctly. Måns was back into sight. We got kids running along some runners and right when we arrived they started to run a bit on the path we took. Sorry guys if I asked you to move away from the road in a quite decide voice (and hopefully I added a smile to it?…). After that I was not too sure how the path was going, as I always mix two parts of this race. Run on asphalt again, turn left and then right and back into the woods…Really?!?!? had to shout a couple of time “Hold right” (always followed by a “Thanks!”) as the path was pretty narrow and I really did not want to loose time there running behind slower runners. The annoying part is if I was shouting at them to hold their right, I pass them and then they would pass me afterwards… Whatever! Got out of the woods, km4 was done! A bit unsure of the average pace I had, but did not really care. Once again, had Måns in front of me and no gal had passed me (yet…). Running down into a little tunnel under the road and then 90-turn left and short after 90-turn left. Took a dextrosol and right there was the first water-station. One cup on the head and the second one…on the head as well (apparently the brain was no longer responding as I wanted to drink a little…). Turn left and long stretch along the school-yard. It felt pretty warm, but not hot. Definitely not hot like during my recog-run a week before. Felt all fine, had a decent pace going and I was happy. And soon counting down the km as we passed km5 and I was on the upper-range of my calculation (on a flat course, I would set between 20-21 minutes, and I was closer to 22minutes now. Still getting me under 45 minutes though…): This 5th km felt pretty slow…and it was… So I got energy back seeing I reached closer to Måns. Happily telling him that he could do better than that (honestly he should have been 200m away from me by then…). Getting back from him that there was still some km to go. We passed km6 and shortly after reached the long stretch…with HEADWIND! This part I know it, I train there, I have even run intervals (back&forth)…and it is ALWAYS headwind on this direction (except from during my recog-run…). Plan B: tack the back of a runner there, whatever pace he decides to go, I’ll take it. Tried to set myself behind one, but another taaaaall guy was already there. So my only chance for wind-shield was to get close on the right-side. Far from optimal, but it worked a little bit. Strong wind that I really did not like. I slowed down a bit and got myself between the two guys and WOW what a difference! No wind (almost)! But shortly after, my wind-shield stepped aside and I did not have any body left. Slowed down a bit and the tall guy passed me at the end of the long stretch. Took dextrosol and two water paper cups…once again…brainlessly throwing both on the top of my head and getting nothing but an empty cup when reaching my mouth… Matters not! 7km had been passed… Short path along the sea on gravel/stones…and here come…the “dreadful stairway”… Have never run up those stairs during training…ever! They are not easy to run up as having strange breadth. But today… I walked them up…holding the railing on the side! WHAAAAAAAAAT AM I DOING?!?!? Cheering from a couple there got me starting again, as well as being passed by my “wind-shield”. In the little woods and more running. Passing two guys. And then again… WALKING UP the second little slope…for 10-15m or so…I never stop there during training!!! Why do I do that now?!?! Reaching up the top of the slope, I turn and see a gal with blue tshirt…This sets fire to the powder and I got on the top of my toes again. Just loving this feeling. Passing a few pedestrians. Aaaaaand running downhill sooooo crazily fast, passing my “wind-shield” and seriously hoping that I will not fall. (after checking the pace of this specific part of the race, my watch registered a “fastest pace” of 3:04 (!) which I think was actually correct and for this little downhill…). Rushing on the asphalt like a fool for not dropping on my pace, seeing Måns and another guy a bit away from me. Trying to accelerate and shouting to the nice guy helping the cars to pass (or not) to NOT let the car pass (Heeeeeello there! I am coming at full speed here!), Got a nice smile back 🙂 Running up the little slope and then shortly after turning right. This final part of the race is a bit tricky as running along the harbour and the buildings, making lots of 90-turns all the way. Got a serie of high-five with adult (!) spectators sitting on a bench (sooo cool!) and one more right turn. Shouted to Måns to accelerate (well, this was more for me this one, but it felt strange to shout it to myself…). One more turn, a little bit up and then left among the boats and then left and right and left and straight….Aaaaaahh! Will this never stops?!?! There was a change from last year course path. Turned once more left and around and right and that was it. The final km was reached. Shoot! No gal passing by so far and less than a km to go. Tried to take some on Måns, which worked, but close to getting back to the gravel/dust path, I stopped my music and had a problem putting the mp3 in my backpocket. Dropped the pace a bit and got Måns running away. For the 5th time during the race, I got some kind people indicating me that I was the third gal to come. And that was the final stretch. Gravel and dust. Took time for giving a large smile to the photograph there. Could not run much faster on this gravel stuff 😦 Where was all my acceleration powers?!?! And then running on the grass for the final part. Hearing that some cheerings were increasing and was a bit scared to see a gal passing me right before the arrival. But nope. Accelerated and got a guy reaching the final line with me: Hearing my name as third. That was it. Enough for today. Dust-taste in the mouth. Getting my banana and chocolate cookie and water bottle. Realizing I did not stop my watch. 42:55. So. Now it is done.

=> official time: 42:50 – place 3

Weather: 18.9° Sunny, Feels like 18.9°, 16 kph SSW wind, 52% humidity – sunny, windy, dusty… Great weather for running and getting a nice tan! (OK, I could have done without the wind…)

Food: grahamsporridge+banana+blueberry jam @11:15am / banana+kex chocklad+bläää bubble water right after
during: dextrosol at start of the race as well as at km4 and 7 (slightly before the water station)

Gear: SOC shorts small trapeze, Casall Iconic sport bra black – MIK. Shoes felt exactly the way they should: fast and completely flying. So light!

Shoes: ADIDAS Adizero Adios – Purple (Quicky)

14/ OK, to the risk of being called cocky, I really think that the race overall did not reach more than a good steady effort level. Definitely less than interval-training, but more than regular training. The 15km run over lunch this week felt definitely tougher than this race today. So yes, there is still more to get out from this body and legs…

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NOTE: Hilly is as said before not my speciality nor preference. But today it went quite well actually (apart from the dreadful stairway and this stupid stop in the woods (which I can still not explain to myself…). Gravel and dust are not on my favourite list of terrain and will probably never be. Add wind to the whole thing… Yeah, you got the picture! But seriously, it went faster than I really thought it would, but should actually been faster if the wind would have not been there to run it all…

Very good training!

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AFTER THE RACE:

Changing clothes in an open tent (aaaaahhh…runnners…they can really do everything anywhere…) as all the water throwing on the head had gotten my gears pretty wet and I did not want to run back home this way. Quick chat with Christopher-MIK and Lennart B-MIK. Then meeting Helen-MIK and waited for the prices to be presented. First the category “under 17”. and then us… “over 17” 😛 Helen kindly took a few pictures and that was it. Time to get back home. By foot. With a backpack heavier from earlier with an extra pair of running shoes as price for the 3rd lady. Not too bad for a run under the sun on this Swedish national day!

NOTE: 95% of max according to Garmin. Once again. Still unsure what is my HR max anyway…

NOTE: Nice and well-organized race. Would definitely have this on my list for next year. If they can arrange without the wind, I’ll sign up tomorrow! 😛

NOTE: one hour after arrival, the body felt good enough for running 12km back home at a quite decent pace. Meaning that the race did not take at all much on the body and should/could have been pushed a bit more. Having run 10,000m on track at 43min a month ago, probably means there is a little laziness somewhere not willing to push much more on those short distances…. Have to find it and convince it to stop. Sub40 expected to the next 10K please! (no hill and no wind, thanks!)


Race Report – Göteborgsvarvet 2016/05/21

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Happy finisher

Planned: sub90. Hopefully closer to 87, more likely 88. Training-race.

Actual: 1:29:44 – PB on this route 🙂 17 seconds faster than last time. A fall at start, a well-executed first 5km, a slow mara-pace following 5km and a little “bored” rest of the race. Kept on the plan for not arriving last at Swedish Championships though…

Adequate weather conditions with sunshine and a bit of (annoying) wind. Not really pushing throughout the race, a bit unsure why. But so it was. Kept on hoping for a sub90 and dropped the hope around km18 and got it back when seeing km20-mark indicating 1:25:07. And made it under the bar! Happy!…and ready for the second half…

Place: 26 Swedish half-marathon Championships, 78 – all women 🙂 / 10 age category / 1467 all runners 🙂

Splits (official – Swedish championships place)

Split Time of day Time Diff Min/km Km/h Place
5km 13:20:53 00:20:53 20:53 04:11 14.36 29
10km 13:41:44 00:41:43 20:50 04:11 14.39 28
15km 14:03:13 01:03:12 21:29 04:18 13.96 26
20km 14:25:08 01:25:07 21:55 04:23 13.69 26
Finish 14:29:45 01:29:44 04:37 04:13 14.26 26

Totals

Swedish Championships 26
Place 78
Place (age) 10
Place (total) 1467
Time total 01:29:44
Average pace 04.15 min/km

 

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BEFORE THE RACE

Awaken at 6:30am. No longer tired. Waited a little bit before jumping into running gear and head out for a very short and slow jog for waking up the legs. Quick stop for buying 2 bottles of Powerade and then home again. Nothing special really to be done. Felt like preparing for a long run. Breakfast taken at 8:45am – chia seeds, soy milk, banana and honey on the top, glass of orange juice and a tea. And then…wait…and more wait… at least for long run or early-start races I would have eaten my breakfast in the middle of the night and got back to bed. Spent time watching tv instead. And checking 20 times or so whether my race gear were ready or not… Outfit for today will be ADIDAS Supernova Blue line shorts, Casall Iconic black sports bra MIK, calve sleeves Compressports, sunglasses and on the feet, the superfast ADIDAS Adizero Adios Boost – Purple (Quicky). Their first race 🙂

11:15am – time to get ready. On with the gear. Pin the BIB on the sports bra. Final kiss before leaving and hop to the street. Met Henrik S not long from home. He preferred to walk to the start so I started to jog easily to the start. Not many people out there compared to 2 years ago (where the weather was very sunny already and hot). Today it was fair and nice. Humidity could be felt almost. Cloud cover was not helping. Reaching the start and checking the IK Jogg-meeting point. Quick chat with Peter-Jogg and then the tent for meeting colleagues. As the grass was wet, the shoes and socks got humid as well. Good to have 2 extra pairs…just in case… Chat with Henrik S finally arrived. Large smile from Patrik B getting ready as well.

12:30pm – off with the extra clothes and time for final pitstop and short warmup. The woods around the tents were not much of empty places… Did a quick back and forth jog and then headed towards the start area. Lots of people there. Checking out the gals running with yellow BIB and a Swedish flag (i.e. they were to run the Swedish Half-marathon Championships with me). Ran with my Powerade bottle and little leftover in it. Back and forth and back and forth. Not much place to warm-up really. Tried a few accelerations, but not very successful. Felt a bit lost with all the people around actually.

12:45pm – start getting ready to the start line. Drank the rest of the Powerade. Ate a sugar stuff Isostar. Noticing that lots of runners are already very quiet….when others are talking about their weekend like the race ahead is a walk-in-the-park-like…

12:55pm – “Back one more meter” says the official for the third time. Not many want to go back. Have lost my spot on the second line when a tall Swede set himself right before me…and his two buddies arrived and pressed themselves right close to him…So much for the chivalry-manners… 😛

12:58pm – more pressure from all around. Counting down. Cannot really hear anything any longer. Just staring at the guy with a gun and barely hearing the countdown…

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THE RACE

1:00pm – BAM! The start is given. The feeling of being wild horses leaving finally the corral is definitely there. No pushing but having this human wave transporting you. Pressing the start button on my watch. Starting to run. And out of nowhere I see two male runners falling already on my right. Cannot see much of it before realizing that two small elite-women have also fallen badly in front of me. I can jump above one but that would have meant setting my foot on the second one who was right before me. Loosing my balance. Feeling the pressure of the wave moving forward. Falling and seriously fearing for my life for a short while. Bam! On the hard asphalt. Got back on my feet thanks to runners behind me (thanks whoever helped me there). Seeing Lona on my right on her way to fall. Seriously?!?!? What is happening. Everything went so fast and so slow at the same time. I check my watch and I am already on my feet. 70 meters done… Being passed by a brilliant smile and cheering from MIK Christopher. Tried to smile. Nothing is making sense in my head. Feeling tears coming close to the eyes. But strangely I am already turning left. Should I really run this? Feeling that a bad start cannot really make a good race. Well, a bad start cannot make anything good. Seeing Karin S from IF Kville ahead of me. Then a few elite gals from Stockholm. And we are at the first right turn. I am actually running. No tear made its way to the eyes. Good. Still having very confused thoughts during the first km. Cannot really understand where I am, just that my feet are running. My plan was to take it easy up to the exit of Slottskogen at 4:10-tempo. Thereafter if I could reach the bottom of the bridge around km4 at average pace of 4:06, that would be great. Then a slow up the bridge and then catch up progressively to an easy 4:06 by the foot of the second bridge. Well-thought plan for reaching the arrival under 90 minutes and close to 87. But I am now running up to Plikta. Passed by a light-and-fast-feet Lona. Smart move of her to pass on the extreme left. Passed by MIK-Jon. Nice smile again. OK, I am (almost) back on track. Running down to km2 goes like on rail. Counting down already: 19km to go… Passed by IF Linnea Staffan S somewhere there. So nice once again with a cheering and a kind smile. Sälsdammsbacken has started already. For once I decided to run on the right side….as everybody seems to believe there are faster than light and always push and press on the left side. And indeed…the right side is pretty nice to run. Apart from the guys distributing Kex choklad and really killing my rhythm. A bit slower than planned to reach the top, but feeling that it disappeared quite fast anyway. Downhill now. Passing the penguins with average pace 4:11. All according to plan. Apart from the original fall at the start… And now it is just down. Almost fell on the right turn to the street as a giant runner just pass me on the left and not-so-kindly set himself RIGHT in front of me…while turning. OK, I get a sorry and be careful. But I was NOT really in the mood for thanking him! Straight line now. Just rolling down. Feeling a bit warm. The head needs a bit of cooling as the mind is still a bit confused by the fall and not really focused. Mariaplan. All fine. Feeling warm, but ok. Reaching close to km4 and MIK-Magnus is here for cheering. Yoooohoooo! I think I might have smiled! Taking 2 dextrosol here. Not sure they are needed though. Checking the pace on my watch and it is indicating a nice and steady 4:06. Hmmmm… ok. Nice! Pressing “lap” at 4.3km in order to check who is the faster on this distance: G or me (as he has started running Cityvarvet – 4.3km – at 1pm as well). Glass of water taken and thrown on the head. Forgetting to get some in the mouth. The first up to km5 feels fine. Then a little tougher as it becomes steeper. But soon is the bridge. Km5 is passed slightly under 21 minutes. All according to plan. Now the bridge. We are about 4-5 gals running up…and I am the last one of them. But that feels ok. Looking on the right and seeing the other bridge…far away…just want to be THERE…NOW! Reaching the top of the bridge and passing 2 gals. On the downhill it feels good. I accelerate as planned. Not crazily fast, but enough to be sub4. Turn right and then straight line. THERE IT STARTED. The slowing down. Cannot understand it always happen during Göteborgsvarvet. I reach the water-station. Quick mouth-rinsing with sport drink and water on the head. Turning left and straight to Eriksberg. Yiiiippi! I saw the km7-mark (I always miss it…). Wow! 4:2x-pace has been reached now. I know that the satellites are a bit odd on this part with the buildings, but I should absolutely not be THAT slow. And no Per M to be seen for cheering and pushing me further. Feel extremely lonely there. The group of gals are ahead of me. Passing the banana station. Not even funny. Turning right and reaching the shadow of the parallel street. Slight up and crazily slow. Trying to keep up with the few gals that have caught up with me. I don’t like this. Trying to find positive thoughts. Intervals ran with Christer B and MIK-Christopher T. THAT was fun. Ok, turning right already and back to the sunny side. And the concrete water-side. Passing the sculpture and running on the straight line of Sannegården feels fine. I know I am slow. Not even sure I am at marathon-pace (although the watch tells this to me). “Come on Girl” is one of the cheering that helps the most at this moment. And hearing my name. Turning and seeing a brilliant smile from Markus R from work. Nice! Cannot really let the gal ahead of me running alone, right? Accelerating a little bit and soon reaching the 10km-mark. Under 42minutes. OK, but way slower than planned. I should be closer to 40 than to 42 I thought. Turning right and getting to the cobblestones. First half is done! At last! Only one half left to go!

Passing along Ericsson. Quite empty this year. Running a little behind the gal with pink sports-bra. Trying to keep up. No. Not trying. I AM keeping up. The wind we are having on this side of the bridge is killing me. Not the strongest. But enough to bother. WHO said we would have tailwind here?!?!? More running and missing the km11 and km12-signs (unsure there were any). 2 dextrosol for keeping me awaken. Dry in the mouth. But it feels ok. Passing another gal and the pink sport-bra one is now behind me. Reaching SVT-house and it feels too warm for being ok. Need to chill out. Where is the water station? Passing it actually as there was a bit of crowd there. Aaaaaand I got passed by the light-and-fast gal with pink sport bra. Again… Average pace has dropped to 4:14 by now. Completely off the plan of reaching the second bridge in 4:06…which I know is possible as I have done it in other half-marathons. Sub90 starts to feel a bit of an utopia by now. So I take precious seconds for passing under the arch for a photo and some high-fives. And back to the bridge. 😦 If only it could become flatter by the time all the runners ahead of me have run on it. That would be great. Have lost the gal with pink sports-bra. Not ahead of me. And when I thought I would start walking a bit, I hear my name. Turning left and seeing the large smile of Christer B. So kind to give cheering on his way up. Hopefully I answered something nice back as well. Looking at his way up, I just want his legs! They are just light and fast and eat probably bridges for breakfast every morning! All good. I calculate that if he makes it in 1:27 I would be above 90minutes. But the way he runs makes me think that the fastest plan is on its way! Happy! Caught up by the gal with pink sport-bra on the top of the bridge. Noticing now that she has music in her ears. I WANT MUSIC IN MY EARS TOO! I know it helps crazily much! Running down and around the foot of the bridge. Passing the first tables of water and getting one paper mug and all on the head again. There she comes again. Passes me and will never let me pass her again. Running slow now. Well, don’t finding the motivation to run faster as sub90 is soon out of reach. So it felt as good to just “finish” and keep some strengths for more run later in the day or the day after. The weird thing is that there are strengths left. I just don’t want to use them. Looking right and left. Reaching Kopparmera and seeing the large smile from Sandrine B. Yooooohooo! Nice again. More motivation. Sub90 ain’t lost until I said so (well, or until I drop the pace even more…). The way up to Poseidon statue feels fine. I am running on the side or close to another IF Linnea chick. She makes it looks easy and light with a poney-tail and long hair moving from left to right all the time. Seeing Lona on her way down and soon turning. Got passed by Henrik S and more cheering. Focus on the way up. Hearing my name once more. Unsure who but I turn and smile and wave. Now the turning point is almost there. Catching a large smile in the crowd and one more cheering in Jay P 🙂 Wow! That IS cool to have so many cheering on the way up. One glass of water taken. Two sponges taken and the way down is now reached. 4.3km to go. Nothing. G has run that earlier. And my cheering-squad should be waiting at the planned spot for me to pass within 1:15/18. Cannot let them down really. Once again feeling that Vasagatan is the most boring place on Earth for running, but knowing they are waiting after it give some strengths. Skipping the water. Just want to see them. Taking off the neckwarmer from my hair and throwing it to them. So nice with their warm smiles. Now it is time to run a bit faster. Forget the sub4 as it was planned. Just get to the end. Not too much above 90minutes. That should work. Final stretch before the bridge. Cheering from Solvikingen Stefan 🙂 And the bridge. Which I take…on the top of the toes! And it works. I knew I was not running out of strengths. Far from it. And down to km20. Seeing the clock indicating 1:25:xx right when I pass it. This tired brain of mine is calculating quickly that running the last 1.1km in 5min would give right on 90minutes. I can better than that. Seeing the IF Linnea poney-tail gal probably seeing the same clock as she is accelerating as well. Passing people there. Always feel so good. Now Villa Belparc. And hearing not much from the crowd. Just focused on finishing this. Little slope at the end. 500m to go. Reaching the gravel part. 300M to go. Don’t know how I got into the stadium, but I am in it. Quick check on the watch and I should make it. Seeing Solviking Hanna passing me in her final sprint. I am fine with pushing slightly to get under 90 minutes. By 16 seconds. Mission accomplished!

Official time: 1:29:44

 

AFTER THE FINISH LINE

Got water sprayed on my face. Meeting Henrik S. More smiles from IF Linnéa group. Hugs to Lona and Stefan. Congratulating to great times. Walking slowly to the end. Got hug from Christian L from jogg. More smiling! Off with the stupid scrath-band with the chip. Which once again got me a nice burn mark on the ankle. Starting to feel again the pain from the fall at the start of the race. It was gone during the first 5km and felt a bit in the downhill from the first bridge…and remains throughout the race. Nothing stopping the running. But annoying enough to wonder what is going one. Getting my medal. Grabbing a banana and chocolate cookie. Glass of sport drink. Chat with Henrik S to get back to the tent. Crossing over the human wave. At the tent, meeting a large smile from Patrik B who ran in indecently 1:14 (!!!). My cheering squad has also reached the tent. Perfect. Off with the wet clothes. On with dry ones. A short massage. A hot-dog. And walk back home.

Weather: 12.8°, Feels like 12.8°, 14 kph S wind, 82% humidity – probably 12/13ºC at start. But at the arrival it felt much warmer. 15/16º? Windy on Hisingen side. Humidity? Definitely!

Food: chia seeds+soy milk+banana+orange juice+tea @9-ish/
water/powerade: 2dl every 30min (alternate)
During: 2dextrosol @km4 and 12
Right after: banana, 1 full glass of ISOstar. In the tent: 1 hot dog. Later dinner: chicken legs & curry potatoes in oven

=> should have drunk more water after the race

Gear: ADIDAS Supernova Blue line shorts, Casall Iconic black sports bra MIK, calve sleeves Compressports, super fast ADIDAS Adizero Adios boost Purple (Quicky).

15/ Effort-wise, it did not feel sky-high. Falling at start made the first 5-600m feeling like being in a parallel world with plenty of foolish people running away from something… Just hanging along! Up to the bridge was moderate effort, and then it just felt like drifting and reaching a nice steady marathon pace. Tough up the second bridge was probably to 16, but then down afterwards was all fine. For sure the climbing of the second bridge was not easy, but at the pace I was having, there was no real effort done. No pushing for going faster. Not really tired at the end. Not even by the sprint in the stadium (a bit unsure I even sprinted there… According to the watch the final stretch in the stadium was fast 🙂 ). Quite OK-race. Really disappointed that it did not go faster, but considering the bad start, it might have impacted on the rest of the race. No excuse here. Just trying to figure out how the first half of most of my latest marathons are always faster than this stupid race… OK. Sub90. Mission accomplished. Could definitely not say I pushed hard on this one. No need to run this race any more!

******

A few “after-race thoughts”

 

NOTE: Still have to get this done sub90 on training. Any volunteer? 🙂

NOTE: weather conditions were not optimal, but not too bad. Should have stopped throwing water on my head after km10 as when reaching Aveny and km17/18 my shorts were heavy wet and that was not comfortable to run in!

NOTE: Official results… Hmmm… Placed 93 (total women) after the race. After a check at the results, found out at least 15 results which were run by a guy instead of a woman. Dropping my place to 78. Surely nice, but hey! Stop doing this. That ain’t fun. Run under your own name or change with a guy. OR do not run that fast and get in the Top 100. This means disqualification right away.

NOTE: Official results… Hmmm(2)… got into the categor D55 (women 55). Hey! Changing age the day after the race does not make me THAT old (yet)… Changed the day after (as the age category was apparently incorrect for many)

NOTE: a good training-race. Enjoying fully the sub90 of my own as well as the other fabulous subs from friends 🙂

NOTE: warmup? Felt quite ok actually. The jogg to the start and the few back&forth and accelerations were ok. For starting at a decent and almost race-pace.

NOTE: drinking & energy during the race? Well the drinking was inexistent. Mouth-rinsing worked better. Dextrosol were a bit overcourse actually. Could have run without.

NOTE: falling at the start was not a great experience. Have to work on this (i.e. not the falling, but the starting with crazy adrenaline/testosterone filled runners…).


Race Report – Näsetloppet 2016/04/30

Näsetloppet 2016 - Happy MIKs!

Näsetloppet 2016 – Happy MIKs!

 

Planned: under 45, revised to “all under 47 is good” (review done after the warmup and recognition run prior to the race…)

Actual: 46:06 for 10.6km
place: 7th 🙂 – Happy!

BEFORE THE RACE

Pretty good night’s sleep. Heard the rain falling all night long, i.e. that would be crazy wet when we would be running. Up around 8am, reading, breakfast at 9:30am with chia seeds -choco/banana mix. Nothing to do really until leaving to the race, so spent the next 1.5hr cleaning at home (bathroom, vacuum-cleaning, dust cleansing, dishes… Well-use of the time!). Had prepared my race clothes yesterday, so it was “just” to prepare the extra change-clothes for after the race. Packed all into a bag and off to the tram. Arrived at the end of the line, took an easy walk for the 1.5km to the race start. Met Christopher T from MIK arriving at the same time and using my alternative transport choice: the bike! I had hesitated a bit between taking the bike to the start (adding a 24km ride -from/to the race) OR having the possibility to run back home after the race. Chose the second option. We headed to the place for the distribution of startkits. Changed my registration to Elite-group where Christopher would also be. Direction the changing rooms. On with race outfit and on the top long pants and warm winterjacket. Met Christopher outside and we talked about our recent marathon-adventures until we could leave our bags. Chose to do a warmup/recognition run from the start to km2.5 and the first hill. Easy tempo, all fine, chatting all the time. A bit muddy and wet, and windy (although it was a bit covered in the side of the forest). Then tested the heavy first hill and turned back down to the start. All fine. Just have to wait for the gun to fire then! Separated from Christopher now. Found a toilet in the club cabin where there was actually no queue at all. Fixed up my hair and that was it. Ready to start.

Headed to the warm-up area where people were starting to line up. Was asked if I was an elite by an person from the race sponsors and if I could talk to a little girl for which this was her first long race. Cool 🙂 I went there, talk to her a bit, cheering and then it made my day (and apparently hers as well 🙂 ) Felt very honoured to do that 🙂 Time to get to the start. No real extra warm-up, but ran until the first turn. Quick pitstop into the woods and then back to the start. A few up&down the first slope and that was it. Time to get to the corral. My watch indicated 1:55pm already… Quick chat with a girl from Solvinkingarna. Not many ladies in the elite-group but guessing that all will fire off pretty fast and I will eat their dust. Not that it is my plan, but on this particular course, there is not a chance I will hold their tempo!

Going forward to the starting line. Final cheering from/to Christopher T. 45 seconds to start already. Light light rain falling. 30 seconds. Everything goes so fast, but it feels so slow at the same time… Did I really register to the race yesterday evening?
The RACE

Start is given and all run ahead of me 🙂 Getting use to it. It is just that for such a short distance as here (10.6km) there is no way I can catch up… Good start, feeling fine. No pushing. Everybody in his/her best behaviours! Easy to the first turn. All the elite group has passed me apart from one lady. She does it after the first right turn into the border of the forest. Easy run. For a short moment I am alone and the start-group behind us catch up on me. All fine. One gal gets to my side and she has a good tempo. Well, this is not km2 yet and the hills are a little after. Passing the first km sub4 was expected, but it did not feel the effort level was high. Second km is on terrain already, so definitely slower still decent 4:16-pace. Turning right after the 2km sign and it is light rain falling. And headwind blowing. Only focus is on breathing correctly (and pretty calmly actually!) and getting ready for this stupid first hill. Almost considered to stop right there at the bottom of it. But nope. I take it nice and easy (read: “tough and breath-heavy”), trying to keep up with the lady that passed me at km2. The race is having a nice dressing code: all runners have their running tshirts on (green for men and pink for women) except for the elites. So it is quite easy (for the ladies) to spot where other ladies are in the green wave of men runners 🙂 I keep to the one lady close to me as the one I can see if too far ahead. Finally up this hill. Want to stop and just be happy of this achievement. But nope. There are still some kilometres to run! Passing km3 a bit too heavy-breathing to my liking, but I am hanging in there. Downhill now, taking off my nose the neckwarmer as there is no much wind that annoy my breathing. And I can also smile to people on the side who are cheering for the runners. All fine. Got passed by the gal right before the water-station. Which I am skipping. And I got ahead of her. Takes 200m before she is in the lead again. Now we are running along the sea. Nice. There I did my training last summer prior to Öloppet Sprint. I know this path. And I don’t like it particularly… (well, during training it is nice. During race it is not). And uphill after the little beach. Killing my steps. But I want to keep close to the pink gal. On the top finally (and no it is not a 1km-stiff hill, but it feels like it!). And downhill. All fine. Still fine. Getting out of the seaside and back to the parking place with the water station. Taking one water cup. Try to drink and most of it get into my face and my left eye. I actually laugh at myself then. Pace has dropped with this stupid thing and I have to catch up with the pink gal. Which is done quite soon. Passing the halfway mark feels good. I get closer to her and tell that “one half is done, one half to go”. Receiving a nice smile and thanks and good luck to you to. 🙂 All fine on this race. No one is really passing us. We run along each other. I take the lead and run left carefully on two small wooden planks set on a muddy/watery small area (great to have that in a turning point as well…). And it is back to asphalt (thanks!). Run run run and more run. The brain is not really happy that the legs continue to run. The legs are not fully understanding why the brain does not tell them to stop. And I am here in the middle of the conversation… Counting down the km. That feels so crazy short! Compared to marathons where the countdown is quite long to get to 1 figure km… Passing km7 happy. And warm. Off with the singlet and the gloves. MUCH BETTER! There are ups & down. Not too tricky, but not knowing really where to turn is annoying. Should have done some recognition for the full route prior to the race… Too late now. I know we are getting to an awful hill like the first one, when we reach km8 or so. Have the pink gal behind me now and am a bit ahead as I cannot see her in the corners of my eyes when I turn right. And wow! Getting to another hill-slope-call-it-what-you-want-but-it-is-not-flat! Decide to actually walk…10 seconds. One guy passes me. And then I continue. This gave the pink gal the time to catch up with me. We hang along and when she passes me, she is cool enough to encourage and tell there is so little left to run now. Grate her with a nice smile 🙂 And finally the downhill from km9 or so. Which – with my head doing calculation – means 1.6km left to go: Yeaaaahhhh! This is tricky to actually consider a race of 10.6km instead of 10km. Not that I have checked my watch since km2. Have no idea how long we have been running (Oh, yes, I did check at km5+ where it was “kind-of” the middle and I passed 22:38. Meaning that 45minutes was still achievable (the higher hand of 45 minutes, but still 45 minutes…). Down down and more down now. Passing between cheering people close to shops. And suddenly we arrive to the little tunnel under the road. Tunnel that Christopher had shown me during our warm-up. Yippie! Not much long then. When turning left to the final straight line, I try to see if there is any pink tshirt behind, but nope. None to be seen. Passing two guys on this final stretch. And it feels so incredibly long. Was it THAT long during the warm-up? Has someone stretched the street to add a few100 meters?!?!? Got passed by a crazy fast guy about 50m from the final right turn. He is young. He probably does not understand what he is doing 😛 It makes me happy to see this actually. And got extra strengths to push after the final right turn. Hearing the speaker saying another female runner is coming. Lifting my arms and giving a nice smile to the people cheering. And that’s it! Missing the 45+minutes but so very happy to cross this finish line.

=> official time: 46:06 – place 7

***********

Weather: 10.0° Rainy, Feels like 7.2° , 23 kph S wind, 66% humidity – quite nice weather to run actually.

Food: chia seeds+choco/banana mix at 9:30am, banana about one hour prior to the race, right after the race: 6-7 pieces of energybars (homemade – yummy), banana during cooldown
During: 2 dextrosol right before start, 2 about km3,5, 2 around km8,5

Gear: ADIDAS Supernova shorts Blue line, MIK singlet black, compression socks compressport, arm sleeves black, SOC windgloves, neckwarmer Icebug.

Shoes: ADIDAS Adizero Adios Boost – Purple (Swifty)
************

16/ Difficult to set an effort level here. I would rather find a full marathon easier on the effort level than this race. But having definitely not push much, it cannot get that high. Would have very much like to have a flat race and see how was the form for a 10K. But that was not today!
NOTE: Hilly is far from my speciality or preference. Gravel and terrain follows closely. During training that is one thing. But during a race… Good to have done this one anyway. Very good training!

*********

AFTER THE RACE:

Getting home-made energybars (yummy! Especially the one natural with oats!). Getting my medal, drinking some water. Meeting with Christopher at the bags-drop. A bit of chatting. We take a couple of photos and then easy cooldown round round round the football field. Enough. I am cold now 🙂 On with some more clothes, getting more of those energy bars. And goodbye to club buddy. Changing to other clothes (i.e. putting dry clothes on wet racing clothes… wonderful feeling!). Watched the podiums ladies and guys. Headed to the bus stop. No running back home. My butt is feeling too cold and it ain’t fun to run in sweaty wet clothes. That was it!

NOTE: For an unplanned race, on a very strange distance, on a non-preferred hilly route, after a couple of weeks with annoying hip… that was a good Saturday training run!

NOTE: According to Garmin I was in the max zone from start to end… 95% of max… Would be good to finally do this HR-max test and see what it is for real…

NOTE: Can actually think of having this race on the plans for next year 😛

NOTE: Just loved the cheering from a young boy about km8 somewhere, saying “Come on, you Gladiator-girl” 😛


Just be free to run…

A bit different wednesday evening after long workday: movie at the cinema 🙂 French movie-evening was showing “Free to Run” which is a documentary on…yap… running. This was very well presented, the interviews were quite fun some times. Great to hear again the story of having women starting to participate to race, with Kathrin Switzer and first official female participation to Boston marathon (1967…), with Joan Benoit winning the first Olympic marathon race (1984!!!), the start of NY marathon, the running movement in Switzerland and female-only running races. Very good indeed and definitely full with inspiration. At least I felt inspired 🙂 And yes music+story=small tears from time to time.

Continuing the run despite last week “hip-incident”. Strangely it had not come back. Chat with the ostheopath did not give much apart from getting there asap if it was coming back. Way-too-long workdays this week made the running suffer a bit, having to do it in the evening (as the 5am-wake up call was not fully convincing the body to get up and go out and run). But now TGIF! Energy levels pretty down. The rain and cold ain’t helping. Therefore rest day today and race tomorrow 🙂 Nothing planned, could have popped up on the same day, but now I have something to look forward to! (of course the weather forecast is terrible, the route is hilly and tricky and on gravel for some parts… wonderfully answering to all I love in a race…NOT!).

Time for a bit of chillout and reading before early bedtime. Yes it’s Friday and finally can sleep a full night!

Feel free to run!

 

 


178 days left…and the Evil Hip strikes again…

Hopefully 178 days to get a stronger and better hip...

178 days to -hopefully- get a strong(er) and well-functioning hip

 

Still 3-digits number of days left. Still time to train and prepare. Which is GOOD. Because the Evil Hip has stroked again during the night, making it completely impossible to even walk (ok, I could walk with lots of screaming and cursing – in my head). Painkillers were of no help at all. Hot bath probably burn the skin more than help the hip pain. So after 3 hours, could finally fall asleep again. Probably of exhaustion. And it was 4am…

Interestingly (?) the pain is not what I am used to (which is no fun to write because no one should be “used to” a certain pain). Usually it is in the front of the hip, groin area. Here it was actually on the “outside”, although when trying to find the area itself, I could not really find a specific spot. Which makes me think it might be “inside” in a way. Once again, lots of googling later provided more worried thoughts than helped. Use of a crutch has been the best decision of the day… Figure out! Alternating hot gel pads and cold spray is also the alternative treatment for today.

Not being a fan of painkiller, I tried to endure the pain, but honestly when the foot cannot touch the floor without getting a little scream of pain… it is time to re-consider. No surprise here, but today will be a (forced) rest day.

So, countdown to 178. Definitely a nice number of minutes to reach 🙂


Race Report – Ferrara Marathon – 2016/03/20

Ferrara-Arrival

Finish line with a smile

Planned: original plan was sub3, revised after calf strain two weeks before the race to 3:06 (qualification time for Swedish championships)

Actual:…3:00:45. 5th all women, 1st age category and 57 all participants. Pretty satisfactory considering the following weeks after Dubai and the previous weeks before the race. Not too bad 🙂

Race Results:
place (M/W) 5
place (age) 1
Total 57

age/grade: 78.2% (2016 Dubai 73.83 / 2015 NYC 75.93 / 2015 WMAC 74,99 / 2014 Chicago 75.97 / Stockholm 76.76 / Rotterdam 78.43 / 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) 03:00:45
time total (brutto) 03:00:45

average pace: 4:17min/km

Garmin splits:

Split                                    time               diff              min/km

10K                                     41:33              41:33             4:09
HALFWAY                       01:28:00        46:27             4:10
30K                                    02:06:36        38:36             4:13
Finish                               03:00:45        54:09             4:17

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

M Day-5

A few days before…

Carb depletion day 2. Nothing fancy. Good workout on treadmill (crazy early…). Visit to the osteopath to fix the right hip that started to annoy me a bit, he also got som work done in the back and the left foot. Pretty painful afterwards and rest of the day… What did I do?!?!

M Day-4

Morning easy bike. Work. Then massage as usual. A bit pain/knots in the back, really hurting front of both thighs… Wonderful day…

M Day-3

Morning meetings over. Fast lunch workout session. And finally carbo-loading! Packing and in bed too late (as usual…).

M Day-2

Travel down to Italy after full and intensive week at work. Really early start, missing driver for the bus to the airport made me wait 45 minutes in the cold…at 4:00am, then full sleep in the first flight, race in the airport of Munich to get my second flight, more sleep and finally landing in Bologna. Carbo-loading day meaning chia seeds for breakfast, extra bananas during the day, lots of water, gummy bears and sport drink. Met JP at the airport and travel by bus to Ferrara. Settled in our room, picked up our BIB and found an open restaurant for tagliatelle al ragu. Serious headache from lunch onwards, not disappearing with food nor drink. But a nice nap late afternoon got me rid of it. More tagliatelle in the evening close to the nice castle where the start of the race would be two days later. Not too late in bed after lots of chat about everything possible and a heavy sleep.

M Day-1

Morning run before breakfast with JP.  Good to have him to regulate the pace. Easy run to the start, then checking out the route to km2 almost and back and then checking out the final 1.5km and back. Could not resist an acceleration for the last 700m. Nice feeling under sunny skies. Back to hotel, breakfast with chia seeds, Gatorade, tea, white bread and honey. Then a bit of resting, walking, resting, late pasta lunch and resting (read: “counting the hours to start now”…). Prepared the gear for the race. Double-checking my watch, mp3, gels, race route (just ask me where is what…I just have to close the eyes to answer!). JP went for later dinner but my “schedule” was different. Off with the lights and…it was not yet 8pm… Drank probably 2l water and same in Gatorade this day…

****
M Day!!!

Before the race

5:20am – waking up before the alarm. Well-rested. Wait for 5:30am to go up and eat my wonderful “200g carbs” breakfast: chia seeds mixed with Gatorade blue and cut banana, little white bun bread with honey and drinking extra Gatorade. A little zip of water as well and back to bed.

6:00&6:30 am – not full asleep nor awaken. Drinking water and Gatorade orange.

7:00am – JP wake up and got ready for breakfast. Cannot stay longer in bed so getting myself ready too. Shower, hair fix, cream to avoid dry skin. On with racing outfit (new Casall Iconic black sports bra, ADIDAS Supernova Blue Lin shorts, pink/purple socks and ADIDAS Adizero Adios Boost Purple (Swifty)). Sunglasses will get on the top of the head. Turning a bit in the bedroom. As advised by JP, getting sun cream as well. For once I also have Vaseline on the thighs and under arms. Won’t get burnt this time 🙂 Tricky again when come the question of where to put the gels. Two on the back and two on the front of sports bra. In a little sock. That should work. Dextrosol in fron little pocket. And 2 strawberry jellies in my hands. This is the plan B in case the sport drink/plan A is not working during the race. Leaving my yellow bag with a change of clothes that JP will bring me after his race. The plan is that he get his half-marathon done in 1:5x, got back to the hotel, got hopeful a bit of rest, change and I should then arrive fresh and smiling when he comes back to the arrival. All planned!

8:45am – Already?!? Leaving the hotel. A bit chilly outside and grey and foggy… Hummmm… Wondering if this is the correct outfit. No turning back though: if I can get through training at home in similar outfit and the weather we have, this Italian foggy morning will be a piece of cake! (Hoping for sure that the sun will anyway show itself…soon…). Easy run to the start. Got lots of staring looks (& yes, it felt a bit cold and I probably should have taken a t-shirt to throw before the race, but who cares now? Not me.) Back and forth running with JP and that’s it for my warm-up. 30 minutes to go.

9:30am – we separate, hug and best of luck. Diving into my own little bubble and finding a bar to get to the loo and get warm until the start. Got complimented (in Italian… So it is a guessing, but I took that as compliment) about my outfit. Waiting and looking through the open window…

9:15am – getting down to the street again. Finding my way to the first line for the start. Hearing the speaker indicating that the favorite for the marathon is a female from Croatia, two males from Italy and for the half-marathon, I only get “Kenya” and see those crazy-fast looking guys making a little place in the front. Being asked by the speaker “Va bene…Karima?”… “(Smile) si si, va bene” I succeed in answering. Then he gets another “victim” 🙂
Two chicks press themselves in front of me. They are in for the half. Seeing three fast chicks with purple numbers… Ok, those are the three first for the race I thought! Let’s get a fourth place then. Making me smile at least! The Croatian gal is checking up my hand where I have my “I hope I don’t need to crawl to the arrival”-time of 3:00/2:58/and let’s-dream-of-it-2:56.
Nice smile from the pacemaker for 3:00. Surely a beautiful smile, but my plan is to NOT see it during the race and keep it behind me. My wristbands make me feel confident. Mp3 ready. Hoping for a first half in 1:27/28. And get the second one slightly slower as I expect to be alone there…. and it is a loooong way back to the arrival to be fine alone. Better be prepared.

9:25am – final check to my shoes. Gels set. Jellies in each hand. No longer freezing.

Countdown to 10seconds has started…

THE RACE

First half

09:30am – PANG! Start is given. Feels the warmth of the crowd. Get a good pace. No pressure. No pushing. Had placed myself a bit on the left as we are turning left after a few hundred meters (of running in stones 😦 ). Arriving on Via Calour, the crowd of runners is taking over. No pushing, there is enough place for everyone. Got passed quickly by the 1:20-pacesetters of the half-marathon. Take half a second to let this number sink in and dream a bit… Ok, enough. Focus! Great to have run this yesterday with JP. I am ready. Passing first km in 4:09. Good. Turning left? Yes! Good thought from our run yesterday when we took this street 🙂 It just flows. Passed by in the left and right. I don’t care. Probably half-marathoners. Finding a few marathoners when a heavy sun pops outside the clouds. Hummmm… I said sunny but not THAT much and maybe not NOW… Km2 surprisingly ends in 4:17… Oooook? I did not feel I slowed down. But getting back on track after finding a half-marathon gal having a great 4:09-tempo. Running side-by-side for a long while. Km3 disappeared in 4:00-blank. Ok, maybe I accelerated a bit there. No more compensation, miss! The countdown has started already surprisingly at km1: “41km to go” I heard in my head… And shortly after a “40km to go”… The run to km5 is going well. Have settled in a comfortable pace, with the help of the blond half-marathoner and we push each other to keep the pace. For some while we are so in sync that is almost scary… Arm moves, legs, steps of similar length. No talking. A quick smile to the other one from time to time. I like this! I want her to continue the second half with me!!! I want to have her during training too!!! First water station. Could not open this @&!???@# jelly and miss the water table AS WELL! Fortunately my running buddy gets a bottle, pass on my right and hand it to me after taking a few gulps. THAT is what I call the running spirit. Or whatever “spirit”. I happily drink a bit and we continue. We have run along a little river/water/whatever… The sun is hot there. Runners passing by are already sweating like crazy. I feel for them as it is quite a bit left… The guys from 1:24-half marathon have passed us somewhere on this way to km5. Can still see their pink balloons for a while. I would gladly accelerate and do the half instead. But it shall not be today! By km7.5 I have finally opened my little jelly and chew it with all the power of my already tired jaws… Now I know why I did not want to take them… Lots of noise behind us… WHAT?!? What are the 3:00-guys doing here? We are cruising at 4:09-tempo. If my watch is wrong, I set 3seconds drift maximum. Meaning 4:12-tempo. They are way out of their expected pace and stressing me! At the km5 station I find myself being Zucca (3:00 pacer), having his blue balloons flying down right on my head. Have to find a path to skip this place! But I have guys on the right and the left 😦 Finding a little spot and off I went, finding back my running buddy.

Water for the sponges taken on the hands feels refreshing. Run run run. Passing the km-sign on stable 4:09-pace. All good. We run then on a road with high trees on the side. Good because it “feels” that it helps for the sun heating us. But nope. It does not help actually. Feels a bit windy, but looking at the beautiful landscape all around and not finding where this wind is coming from… Running between houses and there on the left-side of the road appears a long table with plenty of food! Served by an older man and other people cheering on the side. Looking tempting, but have to go. The guy #14 has now disappeared from my sight 😦 He was right before us during the long stretch to km5, then km7.5 and he was gone. But his running buddy with a little bottle in the hand runs with me. I have dropped my lady-runner-friend now. Looking a bit right and left and feels she ain’t far. I have now “black singlet with little bottle” (Marco? Emilio?) on my left and two other guys on my right. The red singlet one asks me “Marathona? Mezza marathona?” So far I get the Italian. Smiling and answering “Marathona”. Get thumbs up and we run. Turning right. I want to get to km10. Under 43 minutes. Ok. Under 42:30. Planning to drink sport drink at the 10K. Ending into a splashing mug, emptying itself as I run with it. Hardly getting something in my mouth. Angry I throw it away and accelerate a bit to get back on the side of “red singlet – Carma” (this is the logo I read when he pass slightly and kindly in front of me…to cut the wind!). I have had this type of helps in other races and it is always appreciated. We have passed a mix couple but this is no better place for me as she was in the half-marathon race. Good pace anyhow. “Red singlet” is keeping the pace up. Stable 4:09/08. Liking it. Getting to a slight downhill where once again he takes the lead and I follow. This wind!!!! I want to get to km15 before 1:03 and hopefully around 1:02. I prepare myself this time, opening the jelly and chewing it approximately 500m from the refreshment table. Perfect. Bottle of water. Emptying a little. Drinking a good 1dl. Emptying some on my head and thighs. Finishing with more in the mouth. Plan B is on! No more try on sport drinks for the rest of the race. Can see two chicks ahead of me. One is too far away, but the other one runs 2-300m max in front of us, surrounded by two running buddies holding same pace. Lucky her! They move to the right of the road suddenly. Ok, she’s in for the full distance I think. Because the two races separate around km17 or so and we take right when half-marathoners take left. “Red singlet” is ahead of me now. I see myself heading to the right side of the road more than I do it voluntarily. Missing the water tanks for the sponge. We see the others led to the left of the roundabout and and we are on our own now, heading to the right side. A line of cars on the left and we run on the other direction on the right side of the road. Trees and houses on both sides. Not many spectators. Music in my ears is keeping my legs running at the expected pace. “Red singlet” looks regularly back. Not fully turning, but a little. I take it for him checking where I am (and if that was not the case, I don’t care. I have a pulling force ahead of me and I want to use it!). Now “black singlet with little bottle” and “red singlet” are ahead of me after turning left at another roundabout. A few meters. I feel I have dropped little on my pace. But I am hanging on. Another guy comes into the picture. He has a “cut cap” and ITA written on the back of his singlet. I keep my mind focuses on his letter. Trying to figure out his name. (Will take probably 5-7km before I actually realize that ITA stands for Italy. Yes I am tired…). He is a bit running back and forth, well, more like doing acceleration, then slowing down, then acceleration aso. Not much, but enough to bother me as I want to be with someone stable with his/her pace. THEN happens what I REALLY don’t want to be happening… I dropped my 20km-gel. Takes what feels an eternity to realize it and stopping and running back, almost not being able to catch it from the asphalt and painfully starting to run again. Definitely lost my “singlets”-guys. They are now 5-80m ahead of me. “Cut cap” is a dozen meters ahead of me only but it feels like 2km or so! My legs did not like this abrupt stop and turn back. And my hands ain’t liking it neither as they feel really sticky. I get the smell of apple in my nose and look around a bit surprised as there is no flowering apple trees on the road side. Takes a while (OK, probably 3 seconds, which felt like forever…) before I understand that the gel cap has broken when falling and the stickiness comes from the gel spreading between my fingers. Wonderful!… Smartly (NOT) I put the gel in my other hand to lick my sticky fingers…and get the other hand sticky as well… My kingdom for water and soap… Please… Now… The brain tells my hand to get the cap off and to drink this stupid gel before the whole me get sticky. Done! And shortly the km20-mark arrives. Little curve to the right and we are at the refreshment station with water. A bit in the mouth, an enough to clean (kind of…) my sticky fingers. Ok, I am on schedule! Whatever schedule it may be… I’m on it! 1:27 sounds unreachable as I don’t want to push to get to the half in this time and burn energy unnecessarily while doing this. No. 1:28 is reasonable and gives me 2minutes to drift in the second half. Hanging in there. Finding the km to halfway very short. I am alone. Halfway is passed in 1hr 28 minutes… One more to go!

Second half

The weather is changing. From chilly-cloudy at start to sunny-hot around km5 it has now turned to grey-cloudy-humid-in-the-air-warm. Feeling clearly that the pace is dropping. Not really on the average pace, but km-pace. Around km22 I can feel that there are a group quite close to my footsteps. I know this is the 3:00-group. But I don’t want to turn and check. Taking a Dextrosol. Changing the music again. Reaching km23 and the group is getting closer. I am given a large smile from Zucca, asking me if all is good. Yes for sure! (if only you and your guys would still remain behind me for a while, that would be great…). Hanging along with the 3:00-fully-male-group. They don’t follow a 4:16-pace and the second pacesetter is whistling often to Zucca for slowing down. Running in a group is quite an experience. Here I am, once again, right behind Zucca, getting his balloons jumping on my head. Cannot get much on the left or right as I am surrounded… km24 and an abrupt turn 90-degree left. The asphalt ain’t the best to run on. And in a group, I cannot even see the asphalt in front of me. Just backs of runners. Then km25 disappear somehow. Dextrosol each km. as I cannot rely on taking sport drink. Getting tired? Not a chance I am slowing down, nor stopping. Soon should be reaching the Po river. Have dropped pace and running at the back of the pack now. Seeing a little hill (read: after 26+km this feels like a mountain…) covered with grass. I see a bike cycling up to the right and hope hope hope this is where we go… but the bike which is with us is heading left and THIS.IS.A.TOUGH.COOKIE.SLOPE! 10m by 10m? Have no clue. I consider even walking it up after seeing the pack running it… But by the time I have this little discussion with myself, I have reached.the.top. I see the Po. I want to stop and rest. Now the stupid sun is back and I remember in a short second that there are 5km or so along the river. 5km to get a nice tan. 5km to the next refreshment station. 5km to be left to die on the side if I fall. OK. Focus. “Cap guy” ain’t feeling good and he is actually running as much zig-zag that me. Or I think I am zig-zaging. Maybe it is the road being this way. Both thighs have taken hard the little uphill and now they are screaming. Loud to the brain telling to stop the whole machinery and rest. Or even better to stop. For a while and rest. Or for good and rest. But nope. The brain ain’t cooperating. It just continue to look ahead. I hear myself encouraging a red singlet guy stopping on the side, telling him with a smile that there is not much left. But after a few re-starts, he gives up. I continue. Refreshment table…where are you? The 3:00-group is still in sight. But unless I get stroked by the thunder I cannot really see how I can get to meet them again. Passing a female runner not feeling too good, but honestly, I am not stopping because I don’t think I would be able to re-start. So unfair now! A bike is following a runner and encouraging him, giving him water and staying on his side. I want my own bike as well! Matters not…because I pass the guy and tell him with a smile that there are only 11km to go. Passing km30 and taking a grey gel. All fine. Drinking good. Running down (finally!) but the thighs are too stiff to get some speed. Doing my best to not be driven over by a car crossing our path. Less than 12km to go. Piece of cake. Not so sure. Turning right after getting water. Missing a sponge really! Long stretch between houses. Well-appreciated: for the shadow! But now I got passed by a female runner. A little fast one. What is she doing there? Noticing she is running with a guy who seems to be at the end of his strengths, but they are having a slightly better pace than me. Seeing them 30m ahead of me, where the gal is kissing his hand, apparently telling something in Italian and then she run away. The guy is running a bit strangely, but still…he is in front of me. Running on the side of the road now – like bike path. Turning left into a little passage, niiiiice with a little slope down, a little short tunnel, a smile to the camera and …of course a little uphill. NO.WALKING.ALLOWED! This is what my head is screaming now. Turning right again and more running. Have reached km35. Yellow gel. Not feeling I need it, but I want to get rid of it. 7 to go. That means NOTHING! Long stretch once again. The sun is nice to have, I really am happy for the gear choice and not having put a singlet on. Running on gravel now. Not liking it. Km36 passed. Soon arrives a strange little part where we run like to km37 and then turn back after…20m? The best way of dropping the pace? Here you are! Turning right. Average pace is now around 4:13/14. Still ok. Have calculated since km32 how much time is left to 3:00 or how much time it will take is running at 5:00min/km for the rest of the race. Too many figures in the head. Cannot really do math anymore. At least not now. Running and seeing a sign, which I try to understand. Different paces, colours, people…what does this mean?!?!? Until I reach it and see while passing it that it has nothing to do with the race… A simple sign there indicating something which I don’t remember as when I passed it it went too fast. Turn right. Little shadow. Straight and right again. A bit of cheering. Keeping myself along the hedge. Not much shadow, but still. Reaching the end and turning abruptly left, crossing the road and then gravel again. Or dead-broken-old asphalt. None of them stands on my favourite ground for running. But I have now reached the final 4km. Feels like running on terrain. Not much up and downs, but gravel and broken old asphalt. I want to run on the road!!!! Passing a couple of guys looking dead tired or walking. Passing a gal there.. Yooooohoooo! One place better. She is walking towards the same path. She looks tired. Just focus on your own race. More running on this snake-like road. More gravel. More broken asphalt. Ouch! Hurting my ankle on a broken part. Getting a kind “You OK?” from the runner in front of me (I must have shouted a bit…). Embrace in the ears. Cannot stop the legs. Aaaaaaannnd… no!!!! Why are the runners ahead of me running “up”? Where is the last km. Have I missed something? Passing km40, getting my red gel. Make it work. Reaching km41, up AND trying to smile to the camera (what a GREAT idea to take a picture at THIS time of the race and when WE are running up?!?!?!). Now it is finish. We pass under the rampart door, finally on decent road and lovely asphalt. Heading to the little roundabout. Where are we reaching the road we took yesterday?!?!? Left and passing under the banner. NOW I recognise the street. NOW I can accelerate. NOW I can use the strengths left (if any). Straight road to the end. How long was it yesterday? Cannot remember. Doesn’t matter. Passing km41 and I dare a smile to the camera. Changing the music for the final stretch. I am going to kill my thighs for this, but that will be worth it. The average pace has been turning slowly from 4:14 around km35 to 4:15 at the beginning of the gravel/broken asphalt part and then 4:16 at km40. Let’s not make it worse than that. Final banner! What was it? 500 or 700m left to the arrival? Switching of the music. Screaming to a bike on the right side to NOT cross the road in front of me. Passing three guys. No time to chat. Sorry. Seeing “Red Singlet – Carma” ahead of me. He has dropped pace really much. (Well, I have too…). Run run run (and yes it hurts!) Hearing some cheering when turning finally left to the cobblestones of the final 200m or so. Seeing the finish line. Seeing the red mat on the stones. Light cheering on the side. Seeing the clock indicating 3:00:xx. Not a chance it will turn to 3:01. I rather hurt my thighs badly than that. Pushing a bit more. Lifting the arms and daring a smile to the cameras. That is it! Finish line is passed. 3:00:xx. FEEEEEEEELING SOOOO GOOOD!

Official time received later: 3:00:45.

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

After the finish line

The legs feels like cotton. I don’t care. I feel I am so high that I cannot understand I have already arrived. I get a lady giving me a nice medal, I hear my name, looking around, getting from another lady a little green paper with “5” on it. Am I the 5th to arrive? Finding JP’s smile in the crowd. Big hug. Apparently I am not walking straight, but I could not care less. I need to drink. I need a massage. I need to rest. I need to shower. I need to eat. I need too many things that the head cannot process. Following JP to the refreshment tent and then the massage tent. Feeding myself with whatever I see. No coke nor sport drink L not liking warm tea. 1hour to wait for a massage. Feeling chafing pain right behind the left bum and between the breasts. Wonderful! Can hardly feel my thighs, the front being hard like stone. Wait for the massage was worth it. Walking back to the start with JP to get my reward (a nice trophy and a little box with 500g coffee from Ferrara and two very cute coffee cups. Perfect for a tea-drinker! J). Have changed clothes while waiting for the massage. We walk back to the hotel. Shower. Clean clothes on. And resting with legs up along the wall for a while.

After resting, we headed to the pasta party of the race. For a quick food intake. More walking. Buying parmesan cheese for getting back home. More rest. Checking the bus schedule for tomorrow. Restaurant to celebrate, with a traditional 4-meals course from Ferrara. Delicious. And getting us very stuffed! Lots of talking once again. And then time for bed. Deep sleep for a while…until the chafing sores woke me…and kept me awaken…

WHAT A GREAT DAY in the City of Renaissance and its Po Delta!

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Weather: 7.8ºC, Feels like 7.8ºC, 3 kph NNW wind, 100% humidity. As usual, this is the temperature at start of the race. Estimating the average temperature through the race to be 13-15ºC, windy from time to time, sunny during mostly two parts

Food: > before: chia porridge with banana, with Gatorade blue + little round bread with honey (5:30am)
> right after: ½ banana+warm tea+water+Gatorade orange
> 3 hours after: pasta party
> During: green gel @km20, grey gels at km30, yellow gel at km35 and red @km40 (at the water stations). TRY for sport drink at km10. Little jelly strawberry @km7 and 15 (w/water). Dextrosol: 2 at 1 every km or so at km22-23-24-26-27-28

Gear: ADIDAS Supernova Shorts Blue line, Casal Iconic black Sports bra (1), sunglasses, shoes were at their best as they usually are. Just flying forward and nothing else!

=> Perfect outfit. Surely a bit chilly at start, but not during the race at all. Still an issue regarding where to have the gels and dextrosol. Have a plan though for the next race… J

15/ first half was a decent 14-effort wise. Felt great, a bit more than regular workout (i.e. this is a race after all… it should feel a bit more). Could have definitely accelerated if having run only the half-marathon. Enough strengths left at halfway. Then a deep during km25-35 while running almost all alone. Final 7km were also run alone, but that was soon the end 🙂 Adrenaline kick was not fully felt at km40 as usually do, but seeing km41-sign definitely compensated! Second half was probably at 15-16 level.

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

SUMMARY: Definitely a race to be! Objectives met over expectations, especially after having the calf strain two weeks before the race and strong recommendations by coach for not running the race. Far from well-prepared for the race, but the final days of the week prior to the race felt really good (even though was full with plenty of thoughts from work and other). JP and I felt more than ready to run on Friday already! Running with music as I was expecting to be alone during the second half, and this is what happened. Good help to keep up the pace. Body felt fine throughout the race, although could feel the tiredness coming. There was still something keeping up the full focus on running. Passing the finish line was great as usual. This feeling is indescribable. It has to be felt!

(Lots of thanks for support and cheering during the preparation weeks. Even though not many were aware of this race to come. Great way to come back on track after the disappointing hip problem after Dubai in January. Getting a great ranking and 3rd best marathon time ever J Definitely a day to celebrate. Thanks for all the Italian runners and other runners that cheered during and after the race. Special thanks for JP who had suggested this race since a while and that brought lots of support before and after the race J Great with nice company for dinner after the race.

Thanks to the little ones at home and their standing words of support as well as their ever cheering, even when not on site J

Back to Sweden and its grey skies, usual cold temperatures and sunshine (hiding behind the clouds…) A bit of rest now before thinking of next adventures… (ok, there are already thoughts about funny races to do…)! THANKS!

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

A few “after-race thoughts”

NOTE: Body felt great throughout the race. Front of both thighs were in pain during the little slope up to get close to the Po and from this moment, the tightness was felt constantly. Required lots of mental thoughts for NOT stopping “just to see if it feels better”. Surprisingly hearing after the finish line that I looked like having reached my max-limit (when my brain actually was pretty high on adrenaline and just wanted the body to do whatever it wanted as long as it was not running…). Good with this feedback for next races.

NOTE: Warmup? Pretty easypeasy run with JP prior to the race. Nothing more. That felt enough for the race and I was pretty surprise to be able to sustain a 4:09-pace throughout the first half despite the lack of warmup. Will work on this more.

NOTE: Energy/refuelling during the race? Good to have had a backup plan! Energy drink served in mugs is NOT my preferred plan (well, not at this pace!). Use of the jelly was good, also it took a while for opening the first one. Now I know the trick. Much better as well as easier and lighter to carry than gels. Use of gels worked well. Only the “carrying” of the gels is still remaining a huge problem. The less clothes on the body, the trickier to “how to carry energy gel….”. Dextrosol every km felt working fine.

NOTE: Beetroot loading? Tested once more. Don’t feel it makes any difference. So skipping it next time.

NOTE: gels in the sport-bra, on the back? Working, but not practical when having a sports bra with ventilation on the back…

NOTE: gels in the sport-bra, in the front? Never worked and will never do…

NOTE: post-marathon recovery going well. Evening of the race and mostly feeling the chafing sticking to the regular clothes. Nothing else. Day after the body was feeling fine and will hopefully continue to do so!

New adventures soon to come…


Race Report – Dubai Marathon 2016/01/22

First half...

Planned: completing the race without fainting, falling or throwing up… Quitting not bring an option either if within the last 2km… Revised plan after problem with balance the days prior to the race

Actual:…3:11:28. 1st Swedish woman, 29th all women and 1st age category (143 total!). Nothing bad but nothing really good neither. Considering the pre-race days conditions, then it feels actually quite satisfactory.

Race Results:
place (M/W) 29
place (ag) 1
age/grade: 73.83% (2015 NYC 75.93% / 2015 WMAC 74,99% / 2014 Chicago 75.97 / Stockholm 76.76 / Rotterdam 78.43 / 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) 03:11:28
time total (brutto) 03:11:33
average pace: 4:33min/km

Official splits:

Split Time Of Day Time Diff min/km km/h
5km 06:52:04 00:20:44 20:44 04:09 14.48
10km 07:13:19 00:41:58 21:14 04:15 14.13
15km 07:35:01 01:03:41 21:43 04:21 13.82
20km 07:57:13 01:25:52 22:11 04:27 13.52
HALF 08:02:08 01:30:48 04:56 04:30 13.36
25km 08:20:13 01:48:52 18:04 04:38 12.96
30km 08:43:49 02:12:29 23:37 04:44 12.71
35km 09:07:45 02:36:25 23:56 04:48 12.53
40km 09:32:43 03:01:22 24:57 05:00 12.02
Finish 09:42:48 03:11:28 10:06 04:36 13.06

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M Day-4
Rewinding a bit earlier. Monday supposed to be carb depletion day 1 (or continuation of previous days) turned into dizziness and clear loss of balance. Difficult to walk or run. Massage pre-race went well.
M Day -3&2
Extra rest day on M day-3. Dizziness not much better. Carboloading from the morning did not help. Stomach sick during stopover in Istanbul and finally in Dubai with no relief for this lack of balance. Even laying down and closing the eyes felt like being on a boat in the middle of a storm. M Day-2 : took extra rest under the sun. Nothing seemed to help.

M Day-1

Morning run to check if running is even possible. Felt fine enough to get all ready for the race the day after. Definitely no other objective else than completing the race. And in any case of fainting, falling or alike, then to stop the race immediately (except in the last 2km, where it always feels that even crawling this distance to the finish line is better than quitting…).
Final check of the race gear, the watch battery and MP3 ready, all alarms set on both phones, time wristbands taped, and gels prepared. Getting my change of clothes for after the race in my white bag and that is pretty much it.

08:00pm – sipping last 6 dl Isostar and preparing breakfast for race day. Eating a bagel with honey and chamomile tea.

10:20pm – lights off even though will take a while for sleeping… Planning to check the dizziness in the morning and see if can be running at all.

11:58pm – not much of sleep still…

And same 30minutes later aso…

Before the race

1:20am – waking up thinking I missed the alarm. But nope. Back to sleep.

1:43am – same as before. Still too early.

2:30am – finally time to go up. Feels I haven’t slept at all… Quietly getting to the kitchen, eating my chia seeds mixed with Isostar and crushed banana, warming up my bagel and eating it with honey and drinking extra Isostar. All well-calculated to get 200g of carbs 🙂 water as well and back to bed.

3:00&3:30am – Half-awaken since breakfast. Drinking water and Isostar.

4:00am – Time to go up, leave this bed that really wants me to stay, shower, fix the hair, suncream on the body. On with racing outfit (SWE hot pants and singlets and ADIDAS Adizero Adios Boost Purple (Swifty)). Sunglasses on the top of the head. Gels for the course in back pocket and gels for the finale in the back of the sport bra. Taking a few Dextrosol just in case the sport drink sections would screw up (which actually appears as a good idea later on…).

4:45am – Time changing too! Have to leave. Final big breathe and closing the door. In the darkness, the air is nice and peaceful. Trying to jog to the start but the white bag they gave us is not practical for running! So I jog. Or tried to. Getting to the metro station it is just…empty! Meeting four runners. Becoming a bit scared I mistakenly came an hour too early. But when getting closer to the start, the usual chaos of cars is there!

5:3x-ish – don’t understand where to leave my bag. Completely different setup than two years ago. Get someone to indicate the bag drop…which is 250m from start… Not that I anticipated this. Getting there in the dark and meeting…a swede! A bit of chat, a pic and leaving my bag. Getting it back after 3 minutes as I forgot to add Vaseline on the thighs and arms. And good to go now.

6:xx-ish – meeting Henrik D on my way to the start. Quick chat and plan to meet at the start. Quick stop at the loo which has no queue at all. Staying a little inside for not getting too cold outside. Then time to go. Meeting fences on the side of the streets and consider pros and cons for jumping over them to get to the start. Meeting Mohamed there who has the same idea but we both think it might be a bad idea in case we hurt ourselves on the jump. He plans a 4-hours arrival. Ok, I decide to get over the fence with a little help from my runner buddy.

Heading to the start and meeting Henrik again. Not a chance I’ll hang along with the pace he plans to have. Not today. I know what my wristbands say but they are there to keep me motivated and reminding me the original objectives. The ones I worked hard for. Doing a few back and forth runs, try to accelerate. Well, it works. Will see soon how long the body is holding this balance in place.

6:15am – already? Making my way to the first line. Getting big smiles from the volunteers holding the rope. A bit of chat with two French (one from Metz and the guy from Paris). Then with a German named Frank. Asking oddly what’s my plan. “To finish” is my answer. “Yes, but how fast?” He asked twice more. “Just finish will be good” I repeat (thinking silently about how I feel when hearing this from people standing in the front row of a race…). But today, I’ll start anyway where I should be.

6:20am – the elites have gathered to the start and a guy is trying to get there as well. A bit of drama and then we can start walking. Cannot see Henrik but he’ll probably spot me easier during the race. Still dark out there. The air is a bit heavy to breathe. And humid (?).

6:25am – checking a final time my laces. Feeling my gels well positioned. My mp3 ready to sing. I want to start. The faster we start, the quicker we finish!

Start of wheelchair athletes is given. We can now rush to the back of the elites. All is back to normal.

Waiting eagerly to the start. The minutes have disappeared. 30seconds to start a guy announces…

THE RACE

First half

06:31am – aaaaand weeeee kiiiind oooooff start. There seems to be a bit of confusion and false start. But then we hear clearly the gun and off we go. And people push to get a place. I feel fine. Takes not much time before I get to the left side as we will turn left this year… Feeling ok. And starts the short 5km stretch towards the first U-turn. Dark outside as the start is now 30 minutes earlier than the years before. It feels nice on the air, little cold, maybe little heavy to breathe. But I like it. Setting my music in the ears quite soon after the turn as I know I’ll need it sooner than later. Getting in a group of three guys and I am pretty sure they’ll aim for what I want, ie. 4:09-tempo. The music in the ears is my “4:09-pace” – got three half marathons in 87 minutes with it 🙂 never wrong! Passing km1 as expected. Got a cheering from the left (guessing afterwards that could have been Andreas N?) and from the right by Henrik. As I thought, his tactic for the day ain’t one I can follow. Having along with the two guys now for 4:09-tempo. Passing 2-3-4km. Spot on. Feeling fine. The lights are starting to show a little above the high buildings. Then seeing a “4km” laying on the side… What? I thought I had already passed it… realising quick that it must be for the 10K which will start later and takes the same road. The elites have passed on the other side of the road already. Skipping the elite women in my count, I just want to check how many chicks are before me already. Getting up five or seven. Really?

Getting to the 5K and water station. Hesitating but taking a bottle anyway. Only couple of sips and off with the bottle. Seeing Henrik in the other side of the road, meaning the turning-point ain’t far. Taking it nice and easy and off I go on the other side. Light wind felt up to now is actually still there. But bearable. Taking a Dextrosol and then passing the tram station. Km7 & 8 are run along with two guys aiming for 2:55. Gosh! And I who so much want to follow them to the end… But they got away. One in orange tshirt will meet my way later on… Km9 is passed… running alone. Have already thrown my two wristbands. No need to add deception to what feels to become a tough race. A gal with neon orange tshirt is passing me. Noooo not now. And on the back it stands an Internet site address “.se”. Here goes the first place as Swedish female. She runs good and stable. In other conditions I would definitely have hang along her. But not today. I see her disappearing, slowly, smoothly and surely. Seeing an 8km-sign…Whaaaaat? I thought I was going towards km10?!?! And once again realising it is a mark for the 10K race. Not funny! Km10 arrived and this is the first sport drink station. Taking a cup that I see already is only full to the quarter… So much for having the expected “approximately 1-2dl of energy”… Considered quickly whether it is worth running back and get another cup, but nope. Have felt already twice a bit of lack of balance at km7 and then km9. But as long as I can run, I run. Passing the 10K in probably a decent time (a bit under 42 minutes?), but once again, the mind is still a bit happy to have seen this 4:09-tempo for a while and now register that it won’t continue. Ok, setting a new goal then: halfway in 90 minutes. Have no clue if the head can actually do this, but the body itself is in good shape. So let’s use it. Passing Burj al Arab and now the straight line to Union flag is starting. “I’m happy, I’m feeling glad, I got sunshine in a bag…”. Yapp. Singing is what I can do at this moment! As usual nobody appears running at my pace and honestly today I won’t push to keep up with someone else’s pace. Well… Ok, I’ll do it anyway, but more to keep some focus on something and not falling. About km13 or so, have a white-cap runner with me (or more likely: I am with him). He is in for sub3, he said. Checking my watch. My average pace has dropped to 4:13. Daring to check the km-pace, but seeing it so slow feels depressing and motivation-killer. Even though I have this imbalance-thing, it does not mean I cannot give all what can be given. We run together for a while. Reaching km15 works fine. Stopping actually to drink a full cup of sportdrink. Catching up on the White-cap again. Find I think. But he looks tired. And sweaty. Already. Some guys pass us and THEY have a sub3-tempo. They take a few meters-lead ahead of us and I decide to actually follow them. I still have strengths, have not felt like falling yet so why not. The music helps definitely to keep up a good mood. Have changed to my “optimal sub40-10K” music playlist (if all goes well, the 10km should be run before the 6 songs are finished…). Not using it for sub40 today though. Just to keep the good mood. Reaching soon the 20K and the road in Jumeira Beach Road is not as nice as I recall. They are building there. Quick calculations of a mind not fully working still give a halfway course under 90 minutes…. Taking my green gel a bit before the water station. Probably 500m instead of 200m. Yeaaah… I feel actually so extremely bored with this whole thing of not being able to give it to the fullest that I try to pass time in other possible ways. But surely, the gel should have wait to be closer to the 20K… The sun is high already. It is doing this subtly and before you know it, the heat is on you. But it doesn’t bother me. There. Here is finally the halfway mat, right after the 21K-mark. Would have been nice with a clock here to know how much time has gone already. As I have slowed down a bit when grabbing my water earlier, I count on a 91/92 minutes for the first half. Decent enough. Despite the slow pace, I still feels like the cruising part has gone fine. Surely should have gone faster if all had gone normally with the balance, but when I pass these points, there is no thoughts about this. No “what if“. Just be there and run. Until this halfway, I have carefully taken water at each 2,5-ish stations and sportdrink at the 10 & 15-stations. Feels that it is working fine. When sponges were available, I caught one too. Very careful in emptying the water bottle a bit, drinking a bit and splashing some water on my head without getting my mp3 wet.

Halfway done – Halfway to go!

Second half

Not really recognising the path we are taking. Despite having run there already three previous years. The paving stones are bothering me more than usual. Mostly because it makes me loose my balance and since the start of this road, I have been fighting for not falling at every crosswalk (which have…paving stone)… By km23 the elite men are passing on the other side. That’s just beautiful. Quick calculation: they are 7-8 km ahead of me… How did that happened?…They were only a few meters before me at start…like 23km-of-mine ago!?!?! Running alone I try to find some things to focus on, because at km24 I got this “I-am-on-a-boat-in-the-middle-of-a-sea-storm”-feeling, and that ain’t pretty. Continuing to smile but I see that my feet are not running straight. OK. I should not look at my feet neither. Heads up! I am not dehydrated. It is just something I cannot control. And that is freaky strange and scary. Elite women start passing one by one or two by two after this. Counting the ladies before me to see how I place. Ok, let’s finish this race in the top 100, I think. 25-ish elites + possibly 25 more gals having passed me during this long stretch, yeaaaah… Top 100 seems achievable. And let’s be crazy, top 50 would be tough but sounds more fun. Km25 is good for a complete stop at the water station to drink fully one and a half cup of sport drink. I ain’t winning this race and I ain’t competing neither. So better taking time for keeping up this hydration and energy levels anyway. Looking on the other side of the road trying to spot Henrik but getting closer to the U-turn without seeing him makes me think I missed him passing by. Must be 2km ahead of me. And when I finally stop looking here he comes. Looks a bit tired, but I cheer and I think I got a response back. Good! Back to the chicks and the counting 🙂 and here comes the U-turn. Really?!? Not at all as I remembered it. Turning and waving with the arms to the people watching to get some cheering back. Not really working but at least the Norwegian (?) passing there with me is smiling! Now it is actually straight to the finish line. And yes, the feeling of stopping to pee that was there from the start (!) has come back. Halfway of the race, there was no point stopping: only 21,1km left… By km26,5, it became “final stretch. Hold for 16km and that’s it”… Counting two gals very close to me after the U-turn. Probably 4-600m? Just not letting them pass. The long road back becomes harder. The sun is high, the wind is annoyingly there (as usual), and I am by km27/28 zigzagging clearly like a drunk person on the road. Completely different from when lacking of water or sugar, this zigzagging is actually not going along with the body check I am doing. Body is fine, tired but fine. But the head and the eyes just don’t follow. Back on the stormy boat again. Freaky! Getting closer to the fence just in case I fall without warning. Cheering on the other runners on the other side of the fence. Looking and reading the signs for the road, the names of the restaurants we are passing, repeating my name over and over again… All for keeping the mind alert and hopefully not letting go for the imminent falling/fainting felt several times during this stretch. Taking extra Dextrosol at the plain kms up to km30. I don’t feel that I need them at all. For once! But the chewing is in a way helping. Km30 is reached finally. Taking my grey gel. Not feeling I need it either. But it keeps me occupied. Water drinking at all station. Taking 10 seconds walk to see how it feels, but it gets worth and the body clearly indicates it wants to stop if not running any more. It does not want to walk! 12km to go. Calculating a bit more: 5min-tempo is getting me to the finish line within an hour. Yeaaaah! Under 3:15! The pace is by now like a regular distance or long run. 4:35/45 or so. Trying to keep this up. Well, actually no. No trying anything at all. I just run and the legs are to decide. Seeing the halfway point in the other side. Did I pass it already that long time ago?!?! Accelerating a bit to the rhythm of the music. Choosing to repeat two of the songs to keep the mind occupied. Apparently it works. But the left knee ain’t happy after km31. Almost falling there and happily got back on track. Limping with this dead knee for a bit, more than half a km, and it just get back to normal after that. Well, I feel it ain’t “normal”, I just chose to ignore it. Km32 and only 10km to go. 50 minutes tops. Just get to the next one and there starts the one figure km-marks left to the finish. Have been passed by the two gals I noted at the last U-turn. Not that they were getting faster, but I got pretty much slower… Km35 and the last grey gel. Feeling it is almost waste of gel to take them, when I am just running this tempo. Passing km36 and desperately looking for Burj al Arab. Nope. Still not there. I don’t see km37 but km38 and passing a few guys. They chose to walk and were way ahead of me before. Have seen the “2:55-guy with orange tshirt” from the beginning in deep trouble a bit earlier. Having been passed by an ambulance just a minute before, he suddenly cramp and grab his leg in what seems to be excruciating pain. And fall. Cannot help much. He is heavy. Try to wave to the ambulance. Checking behind me and some guys have stopped to help him. Never been so happy to see km39 (not true… Am always happy to see km39!). Still in need to go to the loo…and since a while…but reaching km40 soon, it turns into “you’ll pee on yourself if needed, but you ain’t stopping!” (so much for the glamour of running…). Holding. Taking out my two last gels, definitely considering a waste of money to take them here. But there is no chance I am crawling through the finish live. Not now! Yellow gel 150m before km40, grabbing a bottle of water, few zips, red gel, water and off with it. This is where everything starts actually. Feeling an impulse of new energy even before the gels start to kick in. Accelerating already there, encouraging guys I am passing and that are walking. Burj al Arab is there. And km41. Have rewinded the Embrace song twice since the last gel and this is it. Trying to get help from a guy there, but he is no match for a strong finish 😦 I just feel like flying (I know I don’t fly for real… and probably look more like an elephant charging that a cheetah hunting a prey, but who cares!). I know this final stretch. 500m max. Seeing the yellow sign indicating 400m to go. Finally hearing the crowd. Passing tired guys on the side. This road is just gorgeous to finish: just alone and three-lines of pavement! Seeing the runners from the 10K arriving on the other side of the fence. Trying to race them 🙂 200m to go. Press lap on my watch, I want to know how fast/slow I hit those last meters. Seeing 3:11:xx. Doesn’t matter. It ain’t DNF, it ain’t 3:15 (& it actually turns out being my second best time here in Dubai…). OMG! This just feels good.

Official time received later: 3:11:28 (Garmin shows a few seconds more ).

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After the finish line

Time really ain’t the focus here. Felt strong at the end. Carried by the crowd. And there after crossing the line I see Henrik D a bit away, I feel fine-exhausted but fine. A volunteer approaches me with water…and grabs me. Of course I will faint if someone is giving me the opportunity to just fall into their arms and carry me!!! That is not what should be done. Got asked if I feel good or bad, am given water. They want to get me to the doc tent, but what I want is a massage. Happy to have Henrik intervening and saying he is in charge of me now. Big hug. Well-done from his side in 3:08. And he even got a picture of me at arrival.

Walking easy to the tent to get water, banana, chips, Isostar red(with btw no calorie, no sugar, no fat, no protein… Hum… just been running 42.2km…would be an idea to actually GIVE me extra of everything, don’t you think?) and the massage tent 🙂 Meeting Andreas N there. He has completed the race in 3:05 and still smiling. Taking a few pics and then time for queuing for a well-deserved massage. The wait feels really long. Talking to everyone that want to talk. Two Spanish guys, a French and an Italian. That’s the trick for skipping this queue: finish the run in less than three hours and you’ll wait waaaaaay less! Finally getting my share of massage. Focus on left thigh and right calv. One of the Spanish guys asked me several times if my right thigh was hurting but it is actually one of the (rare) places where no pain is felt! Meeting Henrik L Swede living in Dubai. Well-completed run as well. And finally the massage is finished. A bit of “what am I doing on this stupid boat again”-feeling. Drinking more water and another disgusting Isostar red. Grabbing two extra bananas and a bottle of water and crisp. Goodbye to the Swedes, the French lady from Metz and anyone who is kind enough to cheer and telling me I was running well during this race 🙂

Carefully crossing the human wave to get to the pavement towards the bagage drop. Not hot, but nicely warm. Walking with my running shoes in my hands. Feels nice to walk on socks. Getting strange looks. Who cares! Lots of people there. This is a bland of marathoners, 10K-finishers and 4K-soon to start runners. A mess! Grabbing my bag and heading to the toilets to change. Time for a quick pic before that. And finally getting to the loo 🙂 4hours later 😛 Changing quickly my race gear for shorts and singlets. Cleansing a bit my white-and-salty face and getting out. Eating the banana and the crisps. Drinking the water. Only 3km left to walk back home. Takes 400m before the pain is starting in the front of the right hip. Same as two years ago, here in Dubai. No other marathon or race is giving me that. Walking very slowly as it is actually hurting pretty much. And yes, stubbornly continuing the walk back home anyway.

Quick chat with my hostess before changing to bikini and heading to the 7th floor and the ice cold pool. Staying there, full body in the water, not even swimming, just resting for 15 minutes. The ultimate ice-bath post-marathon! Then rested under the sun. Drinking water. Scared a couple of times that I would fall from my sunbed as the dizziness is there to stay apparently. Have probably collapsed for a little while…or slept…don’t know if that makes a difference. About 3pm heading to Mall of Emirates for eating well-deserved lamb chops and French fries and a large coke. Feeling hungry I add to this 3 chicken Bao as well. And back home for resting with legs and feet up.

Chat with Henrik for meeting for dinner later on. Back to Mall of Emirates and meeting with Henrik and his brother Anders. Still hungry, so got shrimp dumplings and a Pepsi. Lots of talking around coffee (hot chocolate and cookie for me) and close to midnight it is time for a last hug and congratulation and heading back home. A bit of mailing and it is already past midnight when I fall into the deepest sleep since a while…

BRILLIANT DAY in the City of Gold!

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Weather: 17.2ºC, Feels like 17.2ºC, 6 kph SSE wind, 83% humidity. This is a usual what my wonderful watch is registering at start. By the end of the race, it has turned into 20-22ºC and nice and warm sun.

 

Food:
> before: chia porridge with banana, with Isostar orange (2:30am)

> right after: banana+Isostar Red+water+chips (*2)

> 3 hours after: grilled lamb chops + french fries + coke + 3 chicken Bao

> During: green gel @km20, grey gels at km30&35 and yellow+red @km40 (at the water stations). Isostar at km10-15-25. Water : at the half-way stations (2.5km). Dextrosol: 1 @km5 and 1 every km or so at km22-23-24-26-27 (?)

Gear: SWE outfit (hotpants & singlet), sunglasses, shoes were just the way they should be. Wonderfully bringing a touch of speed in this whole race. Felt light like a feather (apart from when the “running like a heavy elephant”-feeling arrived…).

=> prefect outfit. Would have gladly gotten rid of the singlet however. Felt pretty warm. The backpocket was working fine for the 3 gels, but the two in the sport bra could still find a better place. Got a burn mark on the stomach due to the HR band…

 

16/ Effort was nice and controlled at the start and it should have been like that at least until the halfway mark. But the dizziness was not letting the run flowing as usual and the effort was increased after the last U-turn and lots of focus on keeping the mind straight and clear for not falling. Happily not feeling that the last 2km to the finish line were higher than a 13. Adrenaline kick did all the work!

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SUMMARY: Good work! Well-completed race despite the pre-race days and this balance problem. Pretty annoyed but honestly there was not much to do about it, as not knowing what it is/was and what started it. Probably was a bad idea to even run and to race, but I consider that I was alert enough to listen to the body. And yes, there was three times when it felt that it might have been a good move to step on the side and stop, this has never appeared as the only option (or even the better option). The hip pain after the race is fully consequent with the bad holding I must have had during (at least!) the last 16km to the finish line. Once again, the limping could have been ended by stepping aside, but it felt that it would even be worse to stop than continuing… When adrenaline is kicking, better listen to it (I guess?). No check on the time or pace apart for having an indication, never for chasing a time. Support from the people on the side of the road is a big flow in this race. Therefore the best move once again was to have had the mp3 ready to kick in. Running in Swedish outfit is as always really nice as when other runners are cheering, they do it for Sweden 🙂 One part which get a top mark is definitely the drinking. Trying Isostar for the last 3 days pre-race was probably not the most efficient move (if Isostar would have not been friend with my stomach. But it worked well). Surely lost times with the full-stops to get the sport drinks, but at least I got some and enough to continue. Dehydration was not there. For once. Still thinking that serving sport drink in small mug is not the most optimal way of helping runners…

Once again, passing the finish line and 5 seconds breathing after that is just giving the whole race a new angle. Felt good enough for walking at list. This addiction to finish lines is there to stay apparently…

(Huge loads of thanks for support and cheering during the preparation weeks. Especially since after NY marathon. Surely a bit disappointed for not having had the opportunity to run as I really wanted to, but with a quite decent time, a nice ranking and a beautiful skin tan afterwards… that will compensate at least for not having run at all last year. Thanks to the runners and their smiles and cheering during the race. Always appreciated. Special thanks for Henrik D and the pre-race chats and the post-race smiles 🙂 Nice to have had company for dinner after the race.

Thanks to my little ones and their constant support and understanding of once again a “food experimentation before the race” (and yes, “carbs rules!”) and their ever cheering, even when not on site Thanks for the last minute pre-race sms giving extra support in this stupid condition of not being able to walk straight and not understanding why. So nice to have those words in the head during the race 🙂

Back to Sweden and its grey skies, snowy roads and cold temperatures. A bit of rest and already planning for new adventures… THANKS!

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A few “after-race thoughts”

NOTE: Body was all fine throughout the race up to the last final 16+km. The left knee “felt” once again and required a bit of limping. Surely painful but strangely disappeared after a while. The dizziness was the most challenging part probably. Not knowing when it might pop up. And what to do with it. After-thought being once again that running at all was probably a very bad idea, in case the dizziness would have been as strong as the Monday prior to the race. To be checked!

NOTE: Warmup? I think the easy jog/walk to the start and then the few back and forth easy run + strides did the trick. Would have very much been nice to actually run the pace I prepared for. But there will be other races. This was not the one! Never felt “cold” during the race.

NOTE: Energy/refuelling during the race? Worked as planned apart from km10 and the too-short sportdrink mug. But don’t think it impacted at all on the race. And would the conditions been different, and being able to run as “normal”, I don’t think it would have impacted neither (apart from making me not happy!). Good to have drank Isostar for the past days before the race. The gels work well, but once again, due to the running conditions. I am not fully sure they were necessary. Could have continued on sportdrink probably at the tempo I had. Having Dextrosol as backup was good. Mostly for keeping the mind alert with the chewing!

NOTE: Beetroot loading? Hmmm…tested it, but seeing that the pace was not much more that for regular run, I am not too sure it played any role. Probably to be skipped next time. More work to be done to maintain the fast pace expected for the marathon and more long runs 🙂 And less snow on the road. And warmer temperatures…

NOTE: gels in the sport-bra, on the back? Working, but got a little burn mark. Easy to carry and not disturbing at all. Still not the optimal solution, but a good one.

NOTE: gels in the back pocket of the hotpants? Worked well, but would so much want to skip them there.

NOTE: post-marathon recovery to be taken together with checking out the source of this dizziness. Otherwise, life as usual and running gear ready to get out when recovery time is up!


Race Report – New York Marathon – 2015/11/01

After Finish Line

 

Planned: complete the course, have a body in one piece and happy at the end and throughout the run, heading for 90min first half and see how it goes to the end… (Ok, close to 3hrs would also be nice to have…)

Actual 3:06:10 🙂 4th Swedish female to cross the finish line, 86th place total women, 11th age category and 1194 out of 50,235 runners… A good 10K, a stable long middle with company and a wonderfully crazy last 2.2 miles. Not to forget neither a mega-cramp in the right calf after the finish line… Pretty satisfied with the outcomes of the race in the city that never sleeps! And not too bad for a 15th marathon!
Race Results:
place (M/W) 86
place (ag) 11
age/grade: 75,93% (2015 WMAC 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) 03:06:10
time total (brutto) 03:06:10
average pace: 4:25min/km

Official splits:

Split Net time (difference)
5K 21:23:00 (21:23)
10K 43:02:00 (21:39)
15K 01:04:46 (21:44)
20K 01:26:36 (21:50)
Half mara 01:31:28
25K 01:49:12 (22:36)
30K 02:11:16 (22:04)
35K 02:33:42 (22:26)
40K 02:56:37 (22:55)
Marathon 03:06:10 (09:33)

 

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M Day-1

Days prior to the race went quite easy and smooth. Travelled on Friday, picked up my BIB, stayed up so indecently late and slept great. Saturday arrived and up at 5am, waited till 7:30am to get through the door and head towards Central Park. Did a recognition run on the final stretch of the race in the park (from a bit before mile 24 to the finish line). Pretty chilly. Took pic. Back home and rest. Met Tricky and Patrik for lasagne & water party and then more rest at home. Fixed my singlet with my name on it and started to count the hours and minutes left to the start… In bed around 8:45pm, sleeping probably around 10pm. All fine…and excited!

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Before the race
Awaken 1:45am… without alarm. Stared at the clock to see it moving to 2:00am and then back to 1:00am (NY was changing to winter time this weekend…how convenient to have a great race the day after!) but nothing happened. Checked the clock in the kitchen and it indicated 3:xxam. Time change had happened. Back to half-sleeping. Up then at 4:10am – drink a glass of Gatorade, shower, fix the hair, on with the race gear as well as extra layers of clothes and got a text from Christer as he had had an issue with his watch… Left the apartment at 5am, counting on good 8-9minutes to the subway station and it took…1:30minute… not even running… Met a few runners in the subway, including two Swedes. Waited and took the next subway when Christer met me at the station. A bit of chat.

5:50am – chia porridge done with Gatorade (!) eaten in the subway.

6:10am – water + off the tube at Wall st station and start walking towards… Ooooh thanks, this way. I was expecting a wave of runners and to follow them to the ferry, but nope. Feeling like in Chicago, darkness in the skies slightly disappearing, people coming from one street after another and joining the flow towards Staten Island Whitehall terminal. I had the 6:15 ferry and Christer the 6:30. No issue to get into the hall, move discreetly towards the doors and then happily hearing the “time to open the door”-message and feel the human wave heading to the ferry. All set then!

Sitting on the left side of the ferry, quiet and nice. Most runners look like they have been sleeping outside, wearing plastic bags, pyjamas or other interesting outfit.

6:40am – Gatorade. Definitely needing to go to the loo, but skipping it at the terminal, despite the recommendation of Christer. Nope, I want to get in the bus and to the start. Long queue to the bus and what are the odds…meeting Staffan D from jog a few people ahead of us in the line. We get in the same bus 🙂 He looks good and smiling. All fine then. Not like me, who is really regretting the last decision to have skipped the porta potty outside the ferry hall. Really needy then. Happily getting out of this bus after a ride than was…hummmm…50 minutes long, right?!?!? Nope, probably way shorter, but the first thing I want to do is find a queue to the loo. Too much drinking! Checking of the runners by the police went smoothly. Arriving in the villages, first queue aaaaaand..much nicer and I can be social and smiling again 🙂 Heading with Christer to the Green Village. Seeing a bridge in front of us and asking whether this was the one we were starting on. Positive answer from Christer. Really? But I thought it would be way more inclined as per all scary descriptions I read. It felt actually pretty good to have seen it, passed under it and then be in the Green village. Nothing scary at all. That will do!

7:50am – final drink. Meeting of all runners, Tricky. Who is in the same corral as Christer. I let them have their breakfast. We take a few pic. My two layers of clothes are very warm. Good to have taken old garden pillows for sitting. I love asphalt for running, but sitting on it ain’t that comfortable. Massage of the legs with chilly cream. It ain’t cold for running, but not that fun to just sit. But was definitely expecting WAY colder weather. Attaching my paceband around my wrist. Feeling good. Smiling 🙂

8:25am (kind of) – Then seriously, when the speaker indicates for the 5th time that the corrals are opened, I just want one thing: go there and wait. Tricky and Christer are looking pretty cool and calm, when I feel that the blood inside is just starting boiling… They kindly follow my hasty pace to the corral. Passing lots of runners sitting on the grass there. Final hugs and good luck aaaaand I get into my bubble A (sorry, meaning “corral A”). Quick check and once again, it feels that I am completely misplaced, seeing only male runners of the fast kind. Walking towards the front. One more visit to the loo. Off with the training gear – first layer. Pretty cold actually. And sitting on the asphalt is not helping (had thrown the pillows before the corral entry). Seeing at last a couple of chicks coming. Once again, they LOOK so d*mn fast alreay. Even when they stand freezing! Got a “Nice nails” from a Swedish runner 🙂

9:10am – Hearing the departure of the wheelchairs runners. Seeing the local competition runners passing in front of us and heading towards the start. Off with the additional easy pants. Cool with a nice outfit, but hotpants ain’t feeling that hot in this morning weather.

09:20am – Hearing the start of the elite women. Thinking that it would be great with a giant screen and see them 🙂

9:30am (or so) – finally we are allowed to get out of our corral. Walking carefully on the grass and throwing my final jacket to the last charity station. Should have kept it longer of have a plastic bag on me. Jogging lightly to the start (I think…just following all other runners towards…the underbridge)

9:45am – OMG! This is it. The bridge is there on the right side. Meeting an older man who is running his 36th NY marathon…respect! Listening to a gal completely excited talking about how every single part of the course should be taken, that she ran 2 years ago the race of her life here and count on renewing it this year. Another fancy pic and smile. And then…I notice that the start line is…right there! 3 meters or less in front of me. Really? Take some anti-chaffing cream from a guy so my thighs won’t be burning (eventually…). Putting my two final gels in my sport bra. Not practical, but there is no other place. Did not want to tape on me…

9:47am – checking once more my Garmin (which had been charging all night and still showed nasty 3 out of 4 on the battery…and the race has not started yet…). Listening to the announcement of the elite men participating. Coool! Wait…where are they? Ooooh on the top floor. OK. Listening to NY mayor making his speech. He wants us to make some noise or he won’t start the race. He explaint the rules “I’ll stay “ready”, you’ll hear a big noise, and you start at this big noise. But I won’t start this race until you make some noise…”. Runners have been warming up back and forth under the bridge. Could be an alternative, but I want to keep my spot. I have anyway 24miles to warm up… Clothes are thrown away a bit everywhere now.

9:50am – Is he still talking? We are all packed as 30 in one square meter by now! The police cars on the bridge have not moved. They should move now. Why aren’t they moving? Someone! Tell them to move! It feels great. It feels cold. No, warm. Feels ready. No, I need a few more months. Smiles are fading and all the racing masks are on (and yapp, that looks a bit scary sometimes).

Aaaaaaand…

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THE RACE
First Half

09:51am – Hear the “Ready?”, but seriously not the “noise-indicating-the-start”. But all runners are now moving. Hoping this won’t count as a fake start!!! How do you re-start a marathon race with 50,000 runners?!?!? Police cars have moved finally. And the race is on. As usual, everybody seems to pass me after start. Don’t care, there is lots of place on this bridge. LET.THEM.GO is what I hear during the first minutes of running. And this will come again on a regular basis. Perfect motivator! Looking on the left a bit, grey skies, but ok to run. This is the toughest part. I had divided the route into four main challenges: the first bridge (Verrazano…I never remember the name), Queensboro bridge, the little Bronx bridge and stretch to Central Park entry. The armband I have indicate I should pass the first mile in 7:40. Faster than that and it is going to be paying the price later in the course. It feels good and the brain is still awaken. Cannot figure out what pace in min/km it should be but assume that around 5-tempo should be acceptable (and correct). Passing the first mile slightly faster than expected (around 7:14?) which is stupidly too fast. But the first km is set about 5min-tempo, so I continue. Aiming for 90minutes by the first halfway mark. Yeaahhh. Let’s go for this. Then the legs feels it is starting to go down a bit. Hold on…where is the bridge exactly? The scary elevation that is described everywhere? Where.is.it?!?! A bit annoyed but concerned as well, I reach the end of the bridge and down the slope, without really having RUN the bridge. I was expecting a Golden Gate bridge uphill, a Västerbro inclination, a Heartbreak hill slope…all being ready to kill legs and motivation from the start…disappointed actually… And it is now light again. We pass under the Blue (and orange?) wave who ran on the top bridge. Arm sleeves are flying there… I keep mine. Have run with my neckwarmer on the nose throughout the “bridge” as it felt a bit cold for breathing. Out there, the light and the pace makes it nicer to breathe. Oooops…stop thinking here it is downhill but can see the runners running a slope towards mile 2. Focus focus and focus… OK, strategy will be to keep the extra clothes (neckwarmer, arm sleeves and gloves) until km10…or 5. Just don’t get cold. Passing the second km under 4min-tempo. Hummm… is that correct? Checking my armband and while passing mile 2, I am a minute ahead of schedule. Either this means I feel good and the form is great and it will end brilliantly OR it means I am too euphoric, have burnt unnecessarily energy in those two stupid first miles and I will pay the price later on. I choose to listen to the first alternative. Good good good, just running. Don’t feel much then. Don’t think much neither. The legs are in command. A bit warm with the arm sleeves. And the left one is falling a bit. Have to lift it several times. Hearing km4 on my watch and checking my yellow/blue armband and I am right on track. 30sec ahead of schedule. All fine. Changing my final gels from front to my back, still in the sport bra, but at least in the back they are not moving (and I should avoid burn marks…). We turn left then, empty street and see the other blue and orange wave runners in front of us. Turn right and we are now after mile 3 I guess (could not see it) and we are now all on the same path. Cool. There is a long stretch then after that. Still keeping my 30sec advance when passing the clock at km5. Good good. Still feeling good. No water at the first station. Run run run. Not much really sticks out there. I follow the blue line. Really want to high-five, but this would mean loosing on those 30sec and I seriously will need then at a moment or another. Or if someone could just come and high-five to me here. At the blue line. No? nobody? (surely I should have taken some sugar before start. The thoughts are flying around a bit too early!). Have thrown my gloves already around km5. Too warm. Of course a bit of wind arrive then and give me some chill… The neckwarmer feels too warm as well. Off with it and it flies away a km later. A bit of high-five as well (you cannot just do ONE, and if you drop the blue line for the outskirt and high-five session, it is as good to do a good session of high-fives!). Already in the first turn towards mile 3 I have heard my name. And a couple of “go on Sweden, looking good”. Brilliant to have the name on the singlet! Taking water at mile 4 & 5. Not much in the mugs L run run and more run. Under an railway (?) bridge around mile 4 (I think) – déjà-vu feeling from Berlin 🙂 Mile 6 and it is time for Gatorade. Not enough. Should have taken 3 mugs probably… Running along. Got passed by the guys of 3:00. Really? So early in the race? I could hold them for half the race in Stockholm the first year and up to km30 the second year… But remember that the pace teams are running even pace, and not “pace-adapted-to-the-NY-route”. OK, let them go then. LET.THEM.GO…No need to shout. I am good on my schedule and still having some time ahead of schedule. 40sec head at km10. Good. Still good. This long stretch up to km15 was easy but slightly uphill says my memory from reading Henrik’s advice. Should be having cruising marathon pace here. Hummm… ok. Probably ok I guess. A bit above, a bit under. Should do a good average. Have thrown my arm sleeves by now. A real experience to take those off without breaking my pace armbands and after race poncho wristband on the right arm and then…taking off the watch, taking of the arm sleeve, in in the sport bra, put back the watch, take off the arm sleeves, fold them into a ball and wait for throwing them and not hurt anybody… Mile 6 – time for first gel – antioxidant pomme verte. Not the taste my mouth appreciate, but get it down and happily take a water mug at mile 7. Not needed as the gel is liquid, but it is more for rinsing the mouth… Hmmm ok then, where is this Queensboro bridge? Not going fast enough. But the clocks indicate still that I have 30sec advance compared to 90min-to halfway-pace. A bit blurry memory of the way to 25K. It feels I am on rails and just run run and run. There are those two blond gals with long pony-tails running in front of me. Their hair is just jumping all over. And they run funnily easy and light. One is even telling something to her friend and then…she turn back for looking…back again…and back again…and finally she slows down and stop by a guy on my right for chatting a bit. Not polite to listen to other conversations, but cannot help it. They are apparently both from the same village or community in Australia (?). And when the chat is finished, she hurries back and easy to her friend. Jumping light and easy forward J Another gel taken at km12. With a little water this time J Focusing on a large building ahead of us. Was it this one that we had to look for in Boston indicating that we were soon finishing? Really? Please, make it being the same building. Getting closer and closer, does not help…especially not when passing by it and then…just continuing the run… Next clue to the end? Please? Someone? Km15 the left knee is screaming a little. Not enough for being concerned or stop. But enough to raise a little defcon light in the brain. After this, the strategy is changed slightly. Caught up by a gal who seems to have a good stride and pace, I decide to hang on with her. This was the tactic during WMAC-marathon: first 5K of the loop to be run alone, second 5K of the loop to find someone to hang with to catch up some pace. Now I have done 1,5 loop and it is high-time to find someone to run with me until km20 🙂 Trying to get water at almost every mile-water station, but miss one at mile11. The gal I run with turns to me and hold her mug “you want water?”. So extremely kind! “No thanks” I hear myself answering. And she throw the mug. Stupid move from me. Should have definitely grab this mug! A few turns right and left. Going very smooth. Nothing special. I kept myself close to the blue line again and to the gal. She is good to follow. My brain is just set on cruise control and the legs follow her steps. Either on the right or on the left. Taking Gatorade at mile 12. I read the names of the streets, but the only ones I recall from the route is “1st avenue” and “5th avenue”…and those ones I know are at the end… But the reading is occupying the mind. Sub90 for halfway is not longer in reach. And then we pass mile 13…already? But where is the halfway…Over there? On the way UP to this stupid little bridge-without-name? Who did that? Nobody mentioned that the halfway point was on the way up! Can see runners walking UP to the time mat. Not a chance I am doing this. I.am.going.to.run.this.d*amn.bridge. Clock on it shows 1:31:xx. OK then. 1min or so late compared to 3:00-race. Well, hold on…I should actually have passed here around 1:30:22 according to my red/white mile wristband. Exactly one minute late. Not the end of the world. If only there was not this stupid slope up this stupid-bridge-without-a-name…

The second half

Because everything until this point has been a warmup. Now the race start. Half a marathon to go J Talking to the gal, telling “One half done, one half to go”. Got a smile tainted with ache back. Let’s continue. Down the bridge (a bit hard bridge, which I stupidly took on the top of the toes. Just to see how it felt…yeaahhhh if that work during training, that could be also fun during race..right?). Quick check on my red/white band to see whether I should take a gel at mile 14…and yes…I should…the only problem is that I have only ONE gel left in the back pocket of my hotpants and not two as my armband planning indicate… What happened?!?! Oooooh I apparently mixed mile and km and took the second gel at km12 instead of mile 12. And of course no Gatorade inbetween to compensate. Let’s be crazy 😛 Gel it is at mile 14 then. Back pocket empty. Hoping that my Metrocard and the 20$ bill are still there… Now I feel light and free….smiling and enjoying. Talking a few words from time to time with my running-buddy. But mostly quiet. What’s next?… Oooooh thank you, man! Queensboro bridge ahead. Cannot see it, BUT a very kind man indicates at the water station of mile 15 (?) “this is the last one before Queensboro bridge, ramp up now, don’t slow down, few more turns and you are there”. Thankful, but at the same time not. This is my second challenge of the race (well, probably the third one as I have added the stupid-little-bridge-without-name of halfway on my black list…). OK, let’s keep calm. Easy peasy. Cannot be THAT tough. Tuuuuuuurning left and here we go. Nice Chicago feeling again. Apart from the fact that here the wind is blowing crazily from the side. What is the tactic again for such wind? With the gal running with me, we kind-of try to protect each other, but it ain’t working so well. I feel I am dropping in pace. I look at the clock at mid-bridge or so. No idea how fast (or more likely slow) I am. Focusing on the wind. My running buddy is stronger than me here and increase the pace (or she just maintain it, while I am dropping mine…). Swedish guy passing by. Again. Have seen him a couple of time since the start. I pass him, he passes us, I pass him again…aso. OK, this time he passes us. This bridge is killing me. Literally. Boring. Want it to stop. Should have checked before how long it was. Probably 15km long…it seems like it! Focus focus focus. D*mn cross wind. Stop this right now. IT.AIN’T.FUNNY! On the other side, every runner seem to struggle here as well. At least I am not alone in this. Not much of a comfort thought, but for this moment the mind is satisfied. Kind of. And then the noise starts. Can see that we catch up and this is the downhill and the –finally!- end of this bridge. I catch up with some runners that passed me on the uphill of the bridge (not THAT much of uphill, but of “I-cannot-really-see-that-it-is-going-up” kind of elevation… those killer ones…either you hate them, either…well, you just hate them!). My running buddy is now 30-40m ahead and turns before me. Mile 16 and turn left. Almost falling on a runner stopping abruptly due to apparently a very painful cramp. Little noise indeed and this is so cool to hear there “Less than half-way left”, “go Sweden go”. Even give some smile there. One more turn left…and.this.is.it…FIRST AVENUE… Yooooohoooo! First street name I can remember! Crazy crowd all around. A bit boring that the avenue is SO large that the spectators are pretty far from us (I mean…”from the blue line”). Have caught up with my running friend. Getting some greetings from a few Swedes (which I assume are here for Staffan as they have a sign with his name…). Cooool! Mega cool! Really. It just feels like it is almost finish. I count the streets in my head. 63rd st. 64th st. 65th st…. OK…how many were they ultimately? 1,000? I cannot even see the END of this bloody avenue! It is going straight until we probably fall on this end of the Earth (if it was flat). Wow! I need sugar!!! OK, start to calculate that in Central park we have approximately 4km left. And now we have reached…huuuuummmmm 26km, meaning the “upp to 1st Avenue + Bronx + down 5th Avenue” would be… Hummmmm 12km!!! NOTHING! Let’s make it 6K to the Bronx and 6K back, shall we? Telling my running friend that we are 12km from Central Park as we are taking a detour via the Bronx 😛 She smiles 🙂 Leeeeet’s do this. She is just great, following the blue line, where every runner (or most of them) is keeping the left side of 1st Avenue, we look like two lost chicks running in the middle of nowhere…the blue line is.just.for.us! Ok…now the 1st Avenue should be finished. There really cannot be 1,000 street to the end… the Bronx should be seen, right? How? Where? Have been thinking almost all the 1st Avenue about it being downhill…where? Where was is actually starting going downhill. Someone have been mistakenly telling that and everybody believed it. I WANT a downhill. A real one. Km 29 is past… this is the end…I can feel it…Remembering having run there in 2012 with Tricky and Patrik when we were denied the start of NY marathon due to the storm. I hear the music singing just for me ….”Want you to make me feel…Like I’m the only girl in the wooooorld… Like I’m the only one that you’ll ever looooove….Ooooonly girl in the wooorld”… Woooow so crazy nice. And yes. This requires some singing. Got a strange look from a gal passing me, don’t care. This song was just.for.me! km30…sooooooon…and sooooo happy to see this bridge-without-name-but-it-does-not-matter-because-it-is-the-last-one. Sooooo Happy to be there. A Swedish chick is running ahead of us. Cannot really recognize her, but does not matter. She’ll get some cheering. Passing her and that is Lona 🙂 We’ll have to stop meeting this way. Copenhagen, Stockholm half-mara and other races… “How’s it doing?” “good and you” “fine, you look good” “Yeaaaah…won’t be sub3 today, right?” “no, but we have only 12km left!” and off on the bridge. I like this bridge! Last one. (something in the mind tells me it is not correct. Because if we run above the water to go to the Bronx, we should be running above the water for getting back to Manhattan: Who cares? I am not listening to myself any longer! I am not looking at the watch any longer! I just want to get to Central Park and start the race!). Run run and more run. Cannot do anything else but counting down the number of km left to Central Park. This is the only activity that the brain authorised itself to do. On the top of not falling in the abrupt curves on this part of the course. Why on earth are they putting such turns? Isn’t it enough with 42,2km of pain? I mean “fun”?. Whatever. Getting to the final bridge (I knew there would be another final one!). Taken easily and –probably just in my head- accelerating there. It has to stop somewhere. I am happy, it is 10km to the end, 6km to Central Park and I am still smiling! Have missed several water stations during this second half, got some from my running buddy, but expect that there will be a price to pay for this as well…stupid mugs…Turn left aaaaaand Manhattan again and finally! More cheering. More applaudes. This is the stupid final stretch to mile 24… Just get along with it. Cannot see that we ARE in 5th Avenue. Just seeing streets name. 135th, 134th, 133rd… how many are they before Central Park entry? WHY did I not check this!?!? Are we getting back aaaaaaall the way down to the start of the Avenue??? Noooo, they would have told me… Run more run. I don’t understand the few turns right/left/right-whatever…we should be on the straight line of 5th Avenue. Are we taking a detour? 5km to Central Park. This is just what I needed. And it is straight forward. 1st Avenue and its so-called “downhill” is matched with 5th Avenue and its so-called “uphill”. Cannot really feel it. Adrenaline is just pumping through the veins. Not even sure there is blood there anymore. It is just to get along with all of it. “How are you” asked my running friend. “All fine. Still smiling. Well, trying to smile. And yaa?” “All fine”: Turning to look at her and she definitely look in better shape than the way I feel! Does not matter. I have not run that long to start complaining. Or was I complaining all the way? No. Only commenting. Stooooop talking in my head! Focus! We are passed by the 3:05-pacesetter with his little flag…and TWO guys hanging with him. No massive group as there usually is. “Shall we follow them?” she asked. “Nope, I won’t” is my answer. Let the testosterone win this one. We look good and we are great 🙂 OK, now we should have arrived in Central Park. Passing the last water station before the park and seeing a Swedish singlet. This is Staffan. He looks a bit in pain and walking and drinking. Come on, I try to shout. Only 2miles left. And we continue. Having skipped the running on the concrete on the roads where there were the bus stops (like it would make a difference…) but on 5th Avenue, the brain tells “Screw the asphalt, run on the concrete, this is the shortest way to the end” and the legs just follow… “Come on ladies, soon finish” and there it appears, the final turn to Central Park. THE part I know, I have run this one. I know where it hurts, I know where it hurts less, I know we are 500m to mile 24. Coooooooome on! Taking out my little sock with my two gels. Getting one at mile 24….ok…mile 24….should be there….in a minute…or two…how MANY turns was it before mile 24 exactly?!?!? And here it comes. Hearing music all around (I know there were no music there…) I take my yellow gel. My running friend stop to take water. I continue. This one is for me. 500m and you will be closer to the finish line. Downhill. You like downhill. You run carefully on downhill. You happily pass people on downhill. Caught up by my running friend. “Final stretch” I shout to her. And here comes another gal in pink on my left side. Nooooooo don’t let her pass us! Not here! Not now! Ok, it’s probably gonna hurt and that is probably end badly, but she ain’t passing me. I feel my running body is behind me now, not really hanging to the tempo (which probably is rubbishy slow, but who cares? This is MY rubbishy-slow-pace-to-the-finish-line). Km39 on the clock and I take my final red gel. Disgusting eucalyptus taste. Wake up all the senses. Downhill and Swedish cheering squad on the left. I hallucinate. I saw a guy from RW cheering there. I turn back…and nope…he actually IS here…with a bunch of other Swedes. SOOOOO proudly wearing the blue/yellow colours today. Now it is time to finish this. Passing one Swede. Yooooohoooo! Passing one guy there. Next one…and next one… The gal in pink is still coming back, I can feel her running slightly behind me. I just do not want her to pass me. Turning to the right and to what I thought the day before was the “final stretch”. Looooong street under Central Park. More “Heja Sverige”, “Come on girl, beat them all”. I am on cloud 7…or 9… have stopped counting since I entered the Park. I even take the time to make some wave with the arms. The pink girl is doing the same. We look at each other and smile. We are just SOOOOOO extremely high. 100% adrenaline. Nothing else. This guy without shoe is passing us…nooooo…not someone passing me… and turning at Columbus circle or whatever it is called. I want to run into the park…soooo badly. I want to see this 26miile sign. I want to feel the blood pounding in the veins and Gosh! This is actually SO crazily nice feeling….more shouting, more screaming on the side…spotting a Norwegian lady 60m ahead of me. Not a chance. Hearing the cheering similar to RIL from Olivier saying I am stronger than her and that there is less than 400m left. Focus focus and focus. No more sexy running (if there ever be any during the race…) just.have.to.pass.her….aaaand DONE…still 150m to the finish line. What is the time? 1:xx:xx… what does it means. So confusing with four clocks above the finish line. Mine is the outer left one and indicate 3:05:5x… too late… just run. Pass whoever you can…just do-no-stop…. And that was it. Finish line. 3:06:10. I am happy! VERY HAPPY!

Official time received later: 3:06:10 (Garmin shows 6 seconds more 🙂).

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After the finish line

Time does matter J But after crossing the finish line, it just felt like an relief from all the tensions or whatever it may have been from the race. Took a few steps, looking more like a drunk person than a runner. Or just looking like a runner that just finish a marathon… Breathing was a bit heavy, but ok. Got my medal. So nice. Just wanted to faint in the arms of whoever would agree to cath me J Remained a bit for congratulating my running buddy. Got the pink girl to congrat me as well. She could not follow the sprint I did at the end (slow sprint, but who cares really!). Got lots of smiles from guys I had apparently passed for the last mile. A bit struck I could make it this pace to the end.

THEN… when going under the clocks bridge and feel an explosion in my right calf. Not being able to walk. Got helped by a lady in red jacket. She insisted in bringing me to the medic tent. Not a chance I would sit on a wheelchair and stubbornly walked to the tent. There I got the “fast lane”. Massage of the cramped calf, ice on it. Got two small salt packages to eat (Blääää….) and Gatorade to drink. I insisted in telling them I had not drunk enough but they wanted me to know it was too much drinking making this situation. Nope. Not a chance. I was there and I know that I stupidly did not drink enough. Got an ice pack on the knee while he still massage the painful calf. Got my blood pressure taken. Twice. The doc was called as it was extremely low. “Is it that low normally?” “Well, low, yes, but not THAT low” “She is NOT going anywhere”-I heard the doc telling the helping lady in red. Cramp in the right thigh, but surely could leave with this one, if only the left calf would STOP cramping. Tried to stand and nope. Still cramping. Helped by another lady in red. More massage. A bit of shouting as well. Would rather have lay down than sitting on a chair. 30 minutes later, new blood pressure measurement. “OK, now it is low. She can be discharged”. Well, it was no longer extremely low, only low (and still lower than normal…). Ice pack on the left knee and left calf. I felt the most sexy girl in the world with the nicest and smoothest walking style EVER! Discharged and got to walk back home. Got my poncho and got out in 74th street. Just had to walk back home. Drank the recovery drink (could have had three like that!), ate the apple.

Well back home, pic with the medal 🙂 ice bath for 10 minutes, hot shower after that. Then rested with the legs and feet up against the wall during probably 45 minutes. Tired, frozen, hungry. Sms to Tricky & Patrik as well as Christer for meeting up. Met a runny friend of my tenant (he had run in 5+hrs and was looking good still and happy). My two “NY-2012-did-not-happen” buddies joined me to a celebrating dinner. 15th marathon – worth to celebrate! (no champagne, we keep that for sub3 :-P) Back home, eating a bit more gummy bear, and time for bed.

WHAT.A.DAY.in the city that never sleeps!!!

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Weather: 15ºC, Feels like 15ºC, 26 km/h SW wind, Humidity 67% – Perfect at start, windy in the middle, perfect at the end. No complaining. Great weather for running!

Food:
> before: chia porridge with banana, with Gatorade (5:50am)

> right after: apple+Gatorade+recovery drink

> 2.5 hours after: Veal + potatoes + spinach + 2 coke

> During: overstims gel @mile 9 & km12, mile 14 and yellow+red @mile 24 (at the water stations). Gatorade at mile 6 and thereafter I lost the control when I took some L. Water : now and then, but definitely not enough

Gear: SWE outfit (hotpants & singlet), sunglasses, arm sleeves black, SOC windgloves, neckwarmer blue, shoes were just brilliant. LOOOOOVING them! Comfortable, light, easy to run in, just forgetting having them on!

=> perfect outfit for today and the weather. Still issues as 1) backpocket sewed worked fine, but not easy to take in/out at this pace and 2) burn mark on the stomach/lower back due to some seam of the hotpants. I thought this was fixed. Might run WITHOUT hotpants next time 😛

14/ Definitely effort on this one, but comparing to most of the marathons this had not raised to a 15. Some parts were “tougher” than others, but the change of strategy at km15 made the whole race way more as a fast long run than a race. Can hardly set a 15-effort on the final 2.2 miles. Impossible to measure the effort there as the adrenaline or whatever it was was so extremely high that it felt effortless. The mind had only this much focus on the finish line that the body just had to follow.

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SUMMARY: Brilliant day. Nice race. Well-completed. A bit annoyed with the calf issue and not able to explain it as I can hardly remember when was the last time I had a cramp during training and never during race (yes, feeling that a cramp is coming, sure. But no cramp). The route was not easy, but not as tough as most would describe it. Even tempo and effort throughout the race is definitely not the way to go. That was good to try this. Having the armband with pace in min/mile and min/km were very helpful. First race I consider running only checking the mile marks. But changed at the last minute. Good to have changed strategy at km15 and definitely a huge plus to have had a running buddy almost throughout the race. Not explaining the 7min run at km15. Did it really take SEVEN minutes to run the Queensboro bridge? Because in that case, this is definitely THERE some time was lost! Great support from the crowd, having the name on the singlet was definitely a winner (and made me feel like one 🙂 ) Running in the Swedish outfit was also a winning combination. Not just because there were a lot of Swedes on the race and in the crowd, but for all others cheering that could just cheer for Sweden. Happy with the body holding so well throughout the race (this was definitely a “mind-do-all-the-work” race, as there were parts where the body would have gladly rested or slowed down a bit, but that the mind did not let happen). Not too satisfied neither with the drinking. Real stupid to screw the whole plan by not drinking sufficiently. Not liking the mugs and will never do.

All the sweat and any possible annoyance during those 42.2km are SO forgotten when reaching the final stretch to the finish line. Addicted to those finish lines? Definitely!

 

(Lots of thanks for support and cheering during the preparation weeks. A bit tricky with sick children at home during final week as well as extra pressure at work, but stress just disappeared when switching off the laptop and packing all the stuff for travelling. Deception from not running in 2012 is still there, but now NY is ticked off the list. Great race to run. My heart still goes for London and Chicago however. Many thanks as well for the encouragements and the cheering before and after the race. Sub3 ain’t all in life. Finishing is so much that it can hardly be described. Have to be experienced. Thanks for all the Swedes out there cheering along the course, for all other people shouting as well. Special thanks for my running buddy without who I believe the race would have ended differently 🙂 Thanks to my little ones and their understanding of “food experimentation before the race” (and yes, “carbs rules!”), carb depletion for longer than usual made a difference, more to try 🙂 And of course a huge thanks for the hugs and cheering from my Swedish running friends that shared this race (as well as before and after race). Back to the cold Sweden and its grey skies. A bit of rest and already planning for new adventures… THANKS!

Finish Line

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A few “after-race thoughts”

NOTE: Body was all fine throughout the race. The left knee “felt” a bit after 15km, but I could have ignored it probably. Issue with the calf is either linked to the lack of water/liquid drinking during the race OR the running on concrete (really?) or both or neither of them. Any suggestion?

NOTE: warmup? Not even in my wildest dream. Sitting and freezing for a while before this huge race ain’t the best. I could have chosen to warm up with strides like some did under the bridge, right before the start. Well-noted. The body had anyway 24 miles to warmup and it definitely delivered at the end!

NOTE: Energy/refuelling during the race? All was so nicely planned. Had it written on my wristband. And THEN did not follow at all. Tactic to refine definitely. But otherwise the gels were well accepted (thanks Oliver A for the tips :-)) and the final two at the end of the race are real energy-booster! Skipped the dextrosol during km21-32 as usually do. Worked fine, but should have been replaced by Gatorade drinking.

NOTE: Beetroot loading? Hmmm…tested this time with pills. Taken from Sunday before the race up to race day. Not feeling a single difference. Endurance is there. Just have to work on the speed now and this is not gonna help. More intervals to the people! 🙂

NOTE: gels in the sport-bra, on the back? WORKING! Definitely not the easiest, but it is fine to carry, cannot be felt, not moving around, no burn mark. All fine!

NOTE: gels in the back pocket of the hotpants? To be refined. But it worked.

NOTE: NY marathon? Definitely fun enough to be recommended! Although once again, this is an experience for life but Chicago and London are greater than this. Yes yes…they are. 🙂

NOTE: the last one… Had heard so much about the feeling when the start is given and hearing “New York New York” from Sinatra in the loudspeakers… well, I must have been off at the start, because I did not hear.a.thing… Just the mayor, his joke, the start shot and then the pounding of feet on the bridge asphalt.

 


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?

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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)

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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. 🙂