Running longer and faster… a few thoughts…

Posts tagged “travel

Race Report – Hamburg Marathon – 2017/04/23

Hamburg 2017

Smiling until the end!

Planned: 3hr or less… Health ok, training ok, head a bit off, but it felt achievable

Actual: 3:12:21 – 87th women, 2nd Swedish female, 16th age category & 1,127 (total 15,000 runners). Weather not being clement this day, ruining my plans already from start, saw the sub3 disappearing already then. Took decision to change the plan after 17km run and continue as an easy long run. Surely disappointed, but not fully. There will be more races…

Race Results:
place (M/W) 86
place (age) 16

Total 1119 (out of 15.000)

Age/grade: 74.08% (2017 Tokyo 78.07 / 2016 Amsterdam 79.9 / Ferrara 78.2 / 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 (gun) 03:12:21

time total (brutto) 03:12:28

average pace: 4:33min/km… almost distance-pace…no comment!

Official splits:

Split Time Time
(split)
Pace (min/km) km/h
5 km

00:21:26

21:26

04:18

14.00

10 km

00:43:07

21:41

04:21

13.84

15 km

01:05:10

22:04

04:25

13.60

20 km

01:29:53

24:43

04:57

12.14

Half (21.1km)

01:35:08

05:15

04:48

12.54

25 km

01:53:13

18:06

04:39

12.95

30 km

02:16:41

23:28

04:42

12.79

35 km

02:39:40

23:00

04:36

13.05

40 km

03:02:37

22:57

04:36

13.08

42.2km

03:12:21

09:45

04:27

13.52

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

M Day-6&-5

Started carb depletion slightly earlier and a bit differently. The weather being extremely windy, it did not allow for terrific workouts, the moral was pretty down and honestly, there was time to really questioned what I was doing at all.

M Day -4

Final session. 5K at expected marathon pace. Piece of cake, right? Well, scheduling this session became a bit tricky. Early morning (read: “about 5am”…) was out of question. The weather forecast the evening before showed -3/4°C and for any other session or even a similar workout but NOT in the final week, I would have gone for it. But as said earlier, the moral was not to the top. The lunch weather forecast was however promising warm 9°C, no wind and sunshine. The deal was done! Meeting all morning and then went to change. Well outside the building, only grey, light wind and poor 5°C were welcoming me. Brilliant choice of clothes with singlets, shorts, arm sleeves and calve sleeves. And sun glasses… It worked but with 3 stops during the fast part. Slightly faster than expected, feeling all fine if it wasn’t for the wind out there. Back to the office, work all afternoon. And that was it. Final session. Not really seeing the training done for the past month in that session. But ok. The positive with this day? Start with carboloading. One day earlier. And having received product from Isostar I decided to test them as well the day after. Massage in the evening. Really painful pressure point on the right hip. Yap. Not really the way you want it to be 4 days before a race…

M Day-3

Working from home this day as happened to develop an allergy after being back at the office for two days (they were renovating there…). Better be safe than sorry. At least the allergy reaction decreased and the scratching almost disappeared. Change of plans regarding the preps, turning the 8-10km easy into a real slow 5K to shake the legs more than run with them… Slightly sensitive in the foot, wearing an ankle support seemed the good approach. (Probably the “better” approach would have been to skip the run and rest…). Started Carbo-loading with the Isostar Malto-Carbo-loading I won. Lots of drinking. All fine. Did not feel the “rush of happiness” that generally comes with carbo-loading, but ok. At least the body tolerated the Isostar.

M Day-2

Travel day…Not much sleep, missed the tram, started to stress a bit, got into the bus to the airport and felt better. Check-in completed. On my way. Met lots of runners in the queue to the control and remember that London was also run this same day as Hamburg. Fell asleep before take off. Listened to music all the way. Gloomy welcoming from Hamburg with fog and 7ºC. Easy travel with train and metro and walk to the room I rented. Dropped my stuff and walked to the Expo to get my BIB. Very surprised that the Expo was only 1km from home. Got my BIB, a few pics, bought some sport drinks High5 to try it during next 2 days and headed to Decathlon. And then back home. Had eaten half-baguette with ham for breakfast and one with honey on the way to the expo. Rested 1hour. Needed more food. Found a pasta restaurant not far from home. The Penne al Forno was a HUGE portion and after eating half of it, I got the rest in a little box to get home. Short walk to Lidl for buying bread, banana, snickers, orange juice and home again. Met my host’s boyfriend and we had lots of talking about running. They are nice hosts 🙂 Then time for more work. Fixed a bit and then bed time. A bit late, but I had rested in the afternoon.
Drank second day of the Isostar Malto-Carbo-loading. As well as a couple of bottles of the High5-lemon. Feeling a bit heavy. Mostly because of the pasta though.

M Day-1

Wanted to run now. For real! Awaken early with the lights through the curtains. Change gears and took an easy 7.6km run. First to the little lake when km39 was indicated. Headwind during the 39 to 41. The little slope/incline of the km41 could be felt already today. Will be interesting to see how it would feel the day after with 41km in the legs… Could not run to the start as there was the kids’ race. Waited a bit and ran to km1 and then back to the start. And then back home. Spent the rest of the day resting, preparing my gear, drinking High 5 sport drink and preparing my bottles which I dropped at the Expo in mid-afternoon. After that, I felt ready. Quite light. Decided to have final food intake around 1-2pm and then only drink loads of sport-drink. High5 felt quite ok and the body did not reacted. Fair enough.

Bed time around 9:30pm. Could hear the neighbours partying. My hosts came back not too late but close to midnight did go to the neighbours and telling them kindly to lower voice and music as they had a marathoner trying to sleep before her race (NOTE: I got this info the day after from my hosts 🙂 Cool people!)

NOTE: counted 37 showers during the day… with sunshine in-between…and of course wind… Promising weather for the race…

M DAY!!!!

Finally!!!! All Race day start with this word!

Before the race

05:00am – Waking up early as usual. Ate breakfast of champions (chia seeds, green mix, 1 banana and High5 sport drink, orange juice, a little piece of baguette with honey). And back to bed…

5:30am – The usual happening now. Drinking High5 on regular basis every 30min or so.. To avoid the problem from Amsterdam and Tokyo with too full blaster, I stop the drinking 30min earlier than usually do.

6:30am – Time to get ready! Shower, cream, fixing the hair, warming gel on the legs and anti-chaffing cream on the top. Racing gear on (SWE hotpants and singlet, arm sleeves pink and wind gloves, a neckwarmer, my Compressport calve sleeves (a first for a marathon!) and ADIDAS Adizero Adios Boost Purple (Quicky). Got my sunglasses on the top of the head. The weather was planned to be nice but windy. So they would help for skipping “crying eyes” throughout the race… Set my mp3

Got on the top of my racing gear the 2XXL easy pants I bought at Decathlon. WAY too big, but ok. Extra jacket as well which would get thrown before the start. And that was it. One caffeine gel in the back of the bra and one gel in the back pocket with the Dextrosol. Take my little red-disgusting-juice and time to go!

7:10am – Tried to jog to the start. But having the bag in the back and those too-large pants which I feared to get chaffing problems, it did not turn as a warmup really. Stopped the watch after reaching the start area. But it took a while to get all around the Hall building to drop my stuff. Left my bag, kept on the warm pants, extra tshirt and wind-jacket. First stop at the loo. No queue. Perfect. Did not feel that the start was quite close actually. People were all around and in no hurry to neither warm up nor get to the start corrals…

8:10am – New attempt to warmup after checking where was the start…and it started raining… Yeaaaah… Got to the loo one more time… and then another time, more like a “stress-stop” than a “need-to-go-stop”. At least this blaster would NOT annoy me during the race… I thought.

8:30am – In the corral…which was pretty empty… I felt that no urgency was raised and went out for a FINAL stop at the loo closed to our corral opening. Back to the start after that.

8:45am – Hummm… The wheelchair athletes started to line-up and in my B-corral, there were still lots of place between runners. Start was given to the wheelchair, the A-corral started to fill in and the invited athletes got to their start…

8:55am – Off with the too-large pant and the extra tshirt and the wind jacket. Body warmth all-around was sufficient 🙂

8:57am-ish – Eeeeeeeeh…sorry? But what it the blue rope still doing in front of us. We want to get closer to the start. But the volunteers are not letting us move. We have to wait for the gun shot they said…. H*ll no! Several are passing under the blue rope and I am one of them. Enough stress in the body and mind for not having this rope in front of me/us!

THE RACE

First half

09:10am – BAAAAM! Yes! All starts seem to sound this way. The runners are unleashed and I am happily one of them. I am happy. My legs are running. Finally. Pressing start on my watch, although I am a bit unsure whether I did not wait too long for starting it. And with the bad surprise from Amsterdam with the watch choosing to pause itself after the start, I do check quickly after 300m whether it is still on. Yap! Race on! Trying NOT to get too excited. Got passed before km1 by one of the Swedish gals I knew would be in the lead. Nothing to do about this actually. 1Km done. 4:09 according to my watch. Fine. This stretch is nice… until the drizzle starts to join us… well…actually it feels like light rain…or more heavy rain… Before turning right after the first km mark, we are already getting cheering from the skies in shape of small or medium hailstones falling. THAT’S A FIRST! Never got a race with this! Hoped/counted that it would stop fast… But nope. Passed km2 a bit too fast in 4:04 but with the hails falling on us, accumulating on the asphalt and making it slippery… It feels out of this world! Is this really happening? Can’t we rewind a bit here? Change the weather-channel, maybe? Groars are coming out from the running crowd. And laughs. And “you must be kidding?!?!”. Yap! Not only me having this “I-want-to-get-back-to-start-and-have-a-decent-weather-I try to keep focused. Skip looking at the watch. Carefully looking -maybe too close – on the asphalt ahead of me. It is covered by a little white stuff which looks like snow. Main objective has shifted: Time does no longer matter. Just do NOT fall on this rubbish-slippery-little-white-cover. Passing km3 and still hailstones falling. I don’t want to stop. I want IT to stop! And this part until km6-ish is slightly up. Which I am well aware about. My plan is disappearing piece by piece. My wristbands do not longer mean anything. I am expecting the 3:00-guys to pass me in a minute or two. Passing km5 in 21:25. Sub3-plan kiss goodbye! Taking my first bottle. More as a moral support than because I need it. A few glups of sport-drink and hop! Cannot feel that I am tired, but this 2km-long hailstones rain has frozen my body. My muscles which I was very careful NOT to have chilled out before start (for ONCE I was well-prepared with all the extra clothing before start) are not responding as they should. My brain is not functioning positively. I want to see this stupid turn after km6 and have a downhill. The left turn arrives and then straight ahead…no downhill?!?!? Nope. Well, yes. A little one at a moment but it comes more abruptly than the progressive down slope I was expecting. I am not happy. But I run. I am far off my schedule. Lots of thoughts in the head. I don’t want to see the 3:00-guys. Not now. Not that early in the race. And suddenly they come… One carries a white balloon with 3:00 on it. And we are barely at km10. What is wrong in the picture? Haven’t they got the hailstones too? Or was it only raining on me? Yeaaaah…must be that. Getting my second bottle at the water-station. I am not thirsty. I want to go back to the start and do it all-over again. Sun is shining now. Wind on the side as expected. Wet on the asphalt. And snail-pace me is actually running. And THEN I am passed AGAIN by another 3:00-guy who actually has his white balloon in the air. He is more likely to be on-time with the expectations of the group. We are passing km13-ish. And I get a renew energy. I am keeping up with their pace for a couple of km. Passing km15 and my third bottle. They are getting a bit ahead of me. But that’s ok. Nothing is hurting in me. The body is responding properly. But my watch is indicating a way-too-slow pace. Seeing the distance with the 3:00-group increasing and my blaster ringing a bell, I have a couple of choices: continuing to purse this group and hope the blaster holds at least until the half-marathon distance or taking a stop at the first blue box I see and get along with whatever strength I found after that. The distance keep increasing and a blue box is in sight. Exactly at the right corner. Quick decision to get into it. And then time seems to stop. I count the seconds. The blaster is not the main issue. That ain’t ok. I am now over 1 minute in my count. I don’t want to get out of the blue box. It feels safe inside. And maybe nothing is happening outside. Or time has stopped there. Or… or… or… Knock knock on the door gets me out of lethargy. I have to leave. Opening the door feels like one of the biggest efforts so far today. Welcomed out by a brilliant sunshine, a wave of wind and too many runners who make me realized that time has not stopped. My watch indicate 4:26min/km as average pace after this stop. Not many choice now. Setting my mp3 plugs in the ears. Setting the proper DJ Eclipse long run music and that’s on. No more race for me today. This stop at km17 has completed the killing of both the pace and the will/determination to get under 3 hours or even close. The mind is now focusing on getting this done. Just running. A Swedish gal and a Swedish man are passing me. Linné-singlet is easy to recognize. But the gal I was expecting her to be a bit further behind me…not passing me now…even before halfway. At least they both cheer for me and I can keep my smile on my face… Passing km20 in too long time for being a race. The competitive spirit is no longer there. Has stopped functioning for a while apparently. Reaching halfway in 1:35-ish. This is a good training pace basically… Nothing more but nothing less. Realizing that I have never run that slow a first half since…. Dubai 2013…Rubbish first half…

Second half

Starting the second half is full with hope. Having had headwind or sidewind all the way now, I am looking forward to get to the 35km point and down to the end for having this refreshing helpful tailwind. Have been passed by two Swedes (well, probably more, but those two guys from IS Göta-Helsingborg looked way more fit than me. And they cheered. That was nice). My bottle of km20 had a gel on it and it helps a bit. Nothing strong all good. Counting that I have 3 bottles left to take. That’s a good and positive thoughts. Trying to catch up with a guy on a bike with a little car behind him. Seeing the red heart-shaped balloons he has, I read “30”… OMG! The 3:30-guys are ahead of me?!?!? When did THAT happened. Slow is ok, but not THAT slow! Taking a little while before I realized that it is “30” as in “don’t drive faster than 30km/h”-sign he has. Ha ha ha! Funny…NOT! (well, ok, this is funny, but my brain at this particular moment does not really register the joke). And then I have a new plan: I could ask the guy on the bike if I can sit in his little car behind and that he could bring me to the next 15km or so… yes… That sounds like a plan… until I am reaching slowly but surely the bike and passing it… Hummm… OK. Better/Faster on foot than on bike. Boost given for the next 3km 🙂 Running in this part of the city is nice. Reminds me of Rotterdam. Green trees. People outside cheering. All is working as it should. Except for my legs which are only on “distance-pace mode”. But that’s ok. Km25 and my new bottle with more cheering on it. I remove the Swedish flag and give it to a little girl on the side. Got a smile for it. So worth it! When reaching km30, new gel with yummy salted butter/caramel taste and new calculations. The small jelly squares taken every km or so between km22 and 32 do help. I think… The hailstones have fallen once or twice more, if it was not rain as well. The wind was definitely there. Don’t ask me how. It can NOT be headwind all the time on a one loop course…except here…in Hamburg! My brain gives me still a finish time of 3:15. Not bad. But honestly, not good. So a little thing in me is waking up and I feel my legs lighter and moving faster. Meeting a guy on a regular basis here. And for a stretch I get his company and that feels…Hmmm… ok. Not THE pace I want which is way faster, but the pace I changed and want for the end. Feeling even that we accelerate slightly. A bit of smiling to each other. That is nice. Steady-slow @4:36-tempo… Yap. Distance-pace. But today it is a bit (…) longer than my morning run 🙂 And we turn left at km31. Headwind bothering all of us, but I KNOW that it will be kind for us after this turn….and….and….nope! nothing. Headwind again! Or side/headwind…. WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE EXACTLY?!?! The long stretch down the lake is nice…if it was not for the wind. I can see the IF Linnea chick and the Swedish guy a bit ahead of her. I want to pass her. Slight acceleration. Nothing really. But my running-buddy cannot follow. He stops suddenly on the side of the road. Still 20m behind the gal. Nooooo! I wanted him to help me passing her. And to help me passing the Swedish guy after that. And would probably have found others to pass after that 😦 A bit sad, but not stopping. And keeping my pace. Reaching the Swedish gal and cheering a bit. And hope. She looks a bit tired. I feel on the contrary better and way better than during the first half of the race. Is that so that I now need 21km warmup before feeling fine for a marathon?!?! Km35 and my last bottle. Message on it this time: ”LAST ONE”. A bit tricky to take the gel off the bottle. And when I eventually succeed in opening it and getting gel in my mouth, the taste of cherry is…disgusting like crazy!!! Why on earth haven’t I tried this taste before during training? Thought that with a different taste it would be waking me up. And indeed it does. I have swallowed a little of the gel. Drank a bit of water. And press all the leftover of the gel in the mouth. Take water and mix the whole thing in the mouth. OMG! This is disgusting! Taste really ugly! Decided that the “placebo” effect would have to do. I spit all on the asphalt. Must look like I am spitting dark blood. Continuing my run. Have never given so many high-fives in a race. Not even in Berlin 2014… And THAT was a lot! The 12km countdown is the best ever. There is another countdown starting at “1km done, 41 to go…”, but this one is niiiice! Counting kilometers left multiplied by 5min-tempo… I know I am faster than that, but have no idea how my brain will do the calculation if asking to multiply by 4:36-tempo. Less than an hour. 10km left. Less than 50minutes. I want to get to km39. To feel that I am finally close. I am passing people now. This beautiful and windy path, with those high trees on both sides. I like it. I know km39 is soon there. I am not following the blue line any longer. I am ON it. Not a chance I will run longer than I should 😛 Seeing the lake on the left side. It feels like spring. Short hailstones rain again. Does not matter any longer. I would not care less. Km39 is there. I have 15 minutes to finish. IF I was at 5min.tempo. But I won’t allow this to happen. Passing guys and turning right. Headwind. Don’t care. Turning left. Km40 is there!!! Euuuhhh nope. Not yet. Down the street. I take out my final liquid gel. Cola-taste. I know it taste bad, but it has so much caffeine in it, that I SHOULD be able to press a bit more. Recognizing the final stretch from yesterday. Seeing km41. People are slowing down. I don’t. I push even more. No at all full power, but definitely faster. And it goes slightly up. But I know it. And it feels. But I know it. Passing one IF GÖTA guy. Feeling that I am unstoppable. THAT is the feeling I should have had from start! And a faster pace too! Getting passed by a guy with Swedish colours. Cheering from him give me an extra bright smile. I just want to pass people. Pass gals mostly to have a slightly better Turning right. Over the little bridge. Windy. Seeing the final final street. Cannot estimate the distance to the red carpet. But I know it is mine. OK…not completely JUST for me, but my brain doesn’t know that at this particular moment. Passing a Danish gal. Yeaaaah! And seeing two other gals ahead of me. Those ones won’t be there. I feel like a rocket, but really run like a fast snail in reality. OK…like an average snail, not even a fast one. But this red carpet! OMG! Feels so good! Smiling right and left. Have no music in the ear since I passed km41. Just feeling the cheering all around and that is why the finish lines are so addictive! Done!

Official time received later: 3:12:21…

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

After the finish line

Not even looking at my watch. I am under 3:15 and that is enough to be an ok-long run. Feeling a bit off in the groin right side. But others are in way worse conditions. Getting a smile from two swedes, a thanks for several guys. And that’s it. Walking to the Hall, taking a bit of sport drink, chocolate bar and a paper cup filled with small pretzels. I am done. Stomach aches keeping me away for a short while. Walking to pick up my bag. Getting a well-deserved massage. Walking home. Shower, warm clothes and feet up against the whole for 45 minutes. The rain is falling again. And stops. As so many times yesterday and today. Feeling tired, surely not happy of the time, surely not satisfied because I feel the body is not completely emptied of strength. I am fine. Rubbish race-time, but decent long-run time. That would do for today…

My very kind hosts let me stay longer than planned. So I get a good nap. Wake up at the smell of freshly done waffles. Got offered one by my host and we start chatting. They are very kind and cool to talk to. Would have gladly stayed longer. Especially as I am to be traveling back to Hamburg on Tuesday morning… But the original plan has not changed. Thanking my hosts, getting to the train and then the airport. Lots of wait and then through the control… longing for a large piece of meat with French fries…to see that only coffee shops are available after the airport controls… Settling for 2 hot chicken wraps and a half-liter Coke. I am tired. I am on my way home. I have for the first time run a marathon as training… I am happy 🙂

**********

Weather: 5°C, cloudy, Feels like 1.7°C, 16kph W wind, 81% humidity. Did not feel THAT cold at start. But surely freezing during the hailstones rain from km1 to 3 and then better under the sun and then more rain and hailstones and sun and wind all the time… Estimated average temperature would be 5-7ºC probably. My estimations anyway.

Food:
> before: chia porridge with green mix and orange juice, 1 banana, 1 piece of bread with honey, High5 sportdrink (5dl?) (5:am) Little bottle of red juice 2 hours before

> right after: banana+pretzels+2 glass of sportdrink

> 3.5 hours after: 2 waffles without eggs with sugar on. Orange juice

> During: 1 strawberry jelly right before start, High5 Lemon sport drink @km5-10-15-25, Aptonia gel (salted butter/caramel*2 and cherry-disgusting) @km20-30-35. Coffeine Powergel at km40. Strawberry jellies: 1 at km22 and 1 every km or so at km23-24-26.

Gear: ADIDAS SWE outfit (hotpants & sports bra), Casal Iconic black Sports bra MIK, arm sleeves pink, Compressport calve sleeves, neckwarmer, sunglasses, shoes all good for the job.
> extra clothes dropped before start: 2XXL Decath easy pants, old Djaz tshirt and wind-jacket.

=> Perfect outfit? Definitely! Had hesitated pretty much all the days before leaving home about what to wear. But hotpants was definitely on. For the top it was a bit tricky through. But on the race day, that was it. Perfect outfit. My alternative outfit was similar (singlet and hotpants) but black… Tricky to run with the arm sleeves but very handy to get on and off depending on the weather. Having the calve sleeves during a marathon was a first. Worked fine…although it was far from marathon-pace. Will probably skip them next time. VERY GOOD to have the extra clothes before the race, especially for the legs, and avoiding the frozen legs from Tokyo…

14/ Unfortunately, nothing high on the effort level. Not even during the “faster” parts of first km. The change of plan to get this race as training long run made the effort level close to decent long run. Would have gladly had higher effort and faster pace…

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

SUMMARY: The expectations set were aligned with the training that had been done. Had hesitated between Prag (fully booked), Düsseldorf (not too fast route) and Hamburg (a bit close to Tokyo but fast route). Hamburg was the easy/only choice. Ready to get fast. But the weather the week prior to the race was very changing and honestly on the race day, this was not the weather I can perform in. Running can be done in any weather (…ok…heavy snow and minus 15ºC or more are stopping me from running outdoors…) but for racing, that’s different. For sure others are less sensitive (like our fast Swede D.Nilsson getting to the finish line in 2:15 and qualifying for World Championships this way…. but this also means he did not have the second and third hailstones rains we – slower runners- got around 2hr 30 and later…). Yes it is disappointing. Yes I am not happy. Yes I know better than stopping at the loo. Yes yes yes… But marathon is a brutal story. To get it right, everything has to be falling into piece at the same time. A puzzle ain’t complete if one part is lost… Anyway, the wind was not on my side, the rain was not a problem but the hailstones were, the stop at the loo was necessary… Easy said: that was not THE day. But once again, happy to have completed the run in decent time for a low effort. 10 minutes slower than Tokyo… But feeling way better the days after 🙂

There will be more races…

(Buckets of thanks for the support and cheering during my preparation. A bit tricky with the tapering weeks and lots at work, but that’s the price to pay for being running athlete with a full-time job 🙂 Preparation worked as planned even though the motivation itself went up and down. The weather was not my friend this day. And I cannot help or control on this. New adventures on the way… with short and medium races in-between 🙂

Of course a huge thanks to my fellow runners Swedes and not Swedes who passed me or got passed by me, who smiled and cheered, who huged after the finish line, who heard from them after the race…. Yes, running a marathon is cool. Passing the finish lines is addictive. The way to achieve all this is a mean to this end. Whatever the “end” might look like. No training goes to waste. Special thanks to my little people at home, cheering any time, laughing sometimes at the look I have when getting back from training but always so present. You might not understand this right now, but this will come one day and you will 🙂 Loving you unconditionally!

And thanks to my German hosts for making my stay perfect in Hamburg!

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

A few “after-race thoughts”

NOTE: Body check? Did I really run a marathon? Surely it felt right after the race. Must have been walking a bit funky/funny back home. Slight pain on right hip/groin side, but all fine while walking. Tired a lot after getting back home and showered. Good with some sleep. No hip pain during the race, but on the other side I ran this one slow. During the hailstones of the start, I could feel something coming in the legs and deliberately slowed a bit for 1) not falling and 2) not increasing this “whatever-pain-it-is”. Worked fine. Same as after Tokyo, Achille’s heels did not scream at all. All quiet…

NOTE: Warmup? Impossible to count the jogging to the start as a warmup, nor the back & forth acceleration between the loos before start. Simply said: no warmup for this race. On the other side, have learned my lesson and the extra clothes (including the extra large pants) were the best I could do to keep myself warm before the race. Maybe this helped to start the way it did… Unfortunate that the 3-4km at the start were under hailstones and getting me so cold. Those km are generally used to warmup the body…

NOTE:…and then the “loo incident”. OK, this was not an incident. It was well-needed. Unsure whether it was the High5 sport drink not liked by my stomach (although I had drunk this during 2 days without problem) or the cold from the start making my stomach unhappy. Anyway, something was seriously wrong. And this stop was needed. Could not have done differently. Maybe slightly faster…but even unsure for this.

NOTE: Energy/refueling during the race? Very handy to be able to leave personal refreshment in advance. I chose to use High5 sport drink lemon even though had never used it before the 2 days before the race. Could not find Isostar and wanted to be sure to be able to rely on the sport drink served on the route (High5 lemon) in case my bottles would get missing. No problem to find the bottles which were perfectly pimped. The small motivational message were doing a great job. A problem with the last gel with cherry taste which was extremely disgusting. Should have known better than testing during the race…

NOTE: Beetroot loading? Took two small bottles days prior to the race, could be the thing that troubled my stomach? Although this was no new thing to me.

NOTE: then…gels in the sport-bra, on the back? Had 2 in the back, just in case mine would ot be available on the bottles. Worked perfectly. Slight chaffing pain after the race, but unsure how this came.

NOTE: …and no gel/dextrosol in sport bra in the front? Yihoooo! Skipping the chaffing issue this time!

NOTE: then…small jellies in the back pocket of the hotpants? Worked fine. Although it feels a bit heavy at start.

NOTE: Hamburg marathon is hereby the coldest and windiest marathon I have ever run 😛

NOTE: Post-marathon recovery on-going and working well. Trip back home on Sunday evening, 3 hours sleep before getting ready for work, flying back to Hamburg for conference on the Tuesday and then back home late on Thursday evening… Good that there was no jet-lag involved in these trips!!! Recovery of several days before a first test run 5 days after the race. No problem. Can really feel that the pace used was NOT the one that makes the body tired…

Looking forward to new adventures …soon…


Race Report – Tokyo Marathon – 2017/02/26

tokyo2017-finishline-thedayweunite

Happy finisher with double rewards!

 

Planned: 2:57/58, definitely sub3. Second target? Good place in the Run as One – Oversea category…

Actual:……3:02:31. Placing: 113 all women, 20th  age category, 1st Swedish woman, 1,527 out of total 33,947 finishers. Far from the expectation, far from being satisfied, too far from sub3 and a hip not collaborating at all during the second half, and still a sprint in the last km with a defecting knee and limping towards the finish line… Still… a whole adventure from start to end completing the 6 World Marathons Majors 🙂

Race Results: place (M/W) 113 place (age) 20

Total 1,527 (out of 33,947)

age/grade: 78.07% (2016 Amsterdam 79.9% / Ferrara 78.2% / 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 (gun) 03:02:31

time total (brutto) 03:02:37

average pace: 4:20min/km

Official splits:

Name Time Time (split) Pace min/km
5 km 0:20:56 20:56 04:11 min/km
10 km 0:41:53 20:57 04:11 min/km
15 km 1:03:18 21:25 04:17 min/km
20 km 1:24:34 21:16 04:15 min/km
21.1 km 1:28:28 04:37 04:12 min/km
25 km 1:46:10 16:40 (21:30) 04:18 min/km
30 km 2:07:29 21:25 04:17 min/km
35 km 2:30:10 22:41 04:32 min/km
40 km 2:52:56 22:46 04:33 min/km
42.2 km (Finish) 03:02:31 09:35 04:22 min/km

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

August 2016…

Receiving an email confirming my qualification in the “Run as One” program in the semi-elite overseas category. Felt really cool and happy as I had tried twice before to get in via the lottery and it was my final attempt. Not much done until final months of preparation. Yes…one more thing: never been in Asia, don’t speak nor understand the language and still will be running my 6th World Marathon Major there…

M Day-6&-5

Travel to Tokyo. Worked in the morning before boarding and then 2 flights, 3 movies and 13 hours later I landed in the country of the Rising Sun. Felt a bit surreal, although an airport is an airport… Exchange my JRPass voucher to a pass ticket and got on the Nigari express to reach Tokyo. Then smoothly bought an Suica card for travelling by subway and reaching my apartment close to Kayabasho station. All prefect. Until I started to chase for some food… All written in…Japanese and having no idea what was in it. Pictures ain’t helping neither some times. Ended in a little cafeteria and got a beef bowl with rice. A bit heavy. But that would do. Emptied some of my stuff and changed to get an easy run out there. Well-placed, my apartment was close to the intersection km28/10 of the race. So I took the km28 to 30 (straight long street) and then went over on the Hibiya park side where km41 would be and ran the final 1.2km. Crazy freezing and crazy windy. Was not expecting this at all. Took pics all along, so not much of an effort on this one. Body felt fine and no issue to get to sleep later on. Carb-depletion was not done fully thought, but reducing a bit the intake of carbs. Work in the evening to finish my day.

M Day -4

Early awaken and well-rested. Too early maybe. Changed and got a morning run along the race route again. The plan was 8-10km but it turned into a long(er) 15km repérage. Ran from km10/28 to km14, skipped the straight line to km 15 & back and took the km16 to the mid-race instead. Beautiful weather outside (read: sunny and chilly…4°C out there…). Felt good and once again the body was all ready for running. Too many stops during the run though in order to let the cars pass at the traffic lights. Good protein brunch cooked at home and then time to work a bit. Decided to go for some sightseeing too…on foot… Which work very well. Ended in 15km walk and frozen little me decided to call it the day after that. Not because I was tired, but the legs were expected to run a race in four days after all. Back home and light dinner. And then evening meetings and work. Time for bed after a while.

M Day-3

Once again awaken pretty early. Very sweaty, which made me think I might go down for a cold or something and that was NOT in the plans. Drank a bit before heading out. Easy run to the Imperial Palace and then final fast distance trial before the race. Turned into 2*2.5km instead of 5km as the wind was really bothering me and honestly, I did not feel like fighting it today. Ran under drizzle and 14°C warmth in the air. Really nice…if it wasn’t for the wind. Could not get to the proper pace, either too slow or too fast. Ran back home and that was it. Breakfast and work. Changed my plans there as well and headed to the expo to get my BIB instead of doing it on my rest day on Friday. Took the bus down, walk the last bit, got my BIB and got lost in a very large and very loud expo. Bus back home, lunch and dead-tired little me laid down on my bed for a quick nap, which turned into 1.5hrs… Up for some work for the rest of the day. Unable to sleep early this time. Watched a movie on my laptop.

M Day-2

Rest day! Yipiii?…. Not really. Had nothing to do really, so worked a little bit and then took my shoes on and headed to Zojoji park for a bit of walking. The aim was MAXIMUM 5-6km walk. Got to the park, took lots of pics and then headed towards Moji park and the Maman araignée sculpture (with such an arachnophobia of my kind that was NOT considered as good therapy…) and then back home. Work the rest of the day. Once again got dead-tired around 3pm, slept 2hours and then back to work. And it was already time for bed. Again… Counted down the hours left to the start…several times! The positive with this day was the carboloading had started. Chose to drink the “sport drink” served during the race throughout the day. Work fine. Meals were pretty simple though: pork bowl with rice for lunch and noodles for dinner.

M Day-1

OMG! Only one day left! Prepared my breakfast and left it for a final leg shaking on the marathon course. Went to km10 and ran up the street towards km8 or so and then turned back home. The program said 4-6km and accelerations. A bit difficult to do the accelerations in streets which have stops at every traffic light…and honestly I completely forgot to do them… Nice leg shaking. Felt a bit off. Was it really tomorrow (already?) that the race would be? Rest of the day was pretty much based on “doing the least possible”, which was annoying as the sun was shining and it did not feel (that) cold outside. Spent time at the close-by Starbucks and then back home. Got my gear ready, carefully reading once again (!) all the instructions to get to the start and how it would work at the end. Food-wise it turned into a larger portion of beef bowl with rice and miso for lunch, additional drinking of sport drink during all afternoon and evening, a soy chocolate and chocolate chip scone at Starbucks and a bun stuffed with red beans later during the day. Mostly drinking during the afternoon and evening. Felt all fine. Ready? Not really, but that would do. Double-checked (again?!) the route to get to the start. And put myself into bed and watch 3 episodes of Game of Thrones to relax a bit. In deep sleep before 11pm. That’s a first for a night before a race…

M DAY!!!!

Finally!!!!

Before the race

04:05am – awoke up a bit, well-rested. Decided to remain in bed until the clock ring… Not really actually. Too much thoughts in the head, feeling at the same time that the mind was empty. Hummm…

5:05am – Up now for breakfast before the alarm rang. Breakfast of champions once again (chia seeds, green mix, 2 bananas and Pocari water, orange juice. Had not found a bread I wanted but bought 4 small pancakes… not reading the Japanese text (!) saying they were stuffed with something looking like jam and cream-like stuff. No time for finding a replacement. Cleaned up as much as could of the cream&jam off the pancake, covered it with honey and that was it. Not really ready for more sleep though.

5:35am – ok. Time to get ready. Got a video call from E, which made me very happy and for sure I got a bit late, but cheering at this time of the day is just priceless! Hot shower, drops in the eyes, fixing the hair, warming gel on the legs and that felt like everything was ok for going. Skipped the drinking every half hour and drank a bit more at once around 6:10am, hopefully all would be out before the race starts. Race outfit was a simple choice (had taken only one…): SWE hotpants and singlet, arm sleeves and wind gloves, a neckwarmer and ADIDAS Adizero Adios Boost Purple (Quicky). Got my sunglasses on the top of the head as counting for some sun. put 2 gels in my back pocket, one in a sock in the back of my sports bra, dextrosol and final red gel in the front. Had extra gel and strawberry small stuff in a little bag as well for before the start. And that was it!

6:10am – the wait was killing me (already) so I took on extra tshirt I would throw before start, my long pants and my black cosy jacket (had noticed the day before that unsmart I had forgotten to take a running jacket with me to get to the start… and yes, it was written on the checklist for preparing the luggage for the trip…).

06:15am – TIME TO LEAVE! Headed to Kayabasho subway station. Got stopped by a Japanese lady running who just would not stop in encouragements and word of kindness. Very nice indeed to hear this right before the race 🙂 Cheering is always good. Her final words were in English with “good luck”. Metro to Otemachi station for then changing to the line which would bring me to Shinjuku, where the start was. Started to see a bit more runners with their bags and the closer we got to Shinjuku, the more we saw 🙂 At least I was on the correct direction!

07:01am – Finally out of the subway and then long walk to the Gate 2 where I was getting in. A bit chilly, but I was covered enough. The atmosphere was a reminder of London where all runners get to the train stop and then all walk in the same direction towards the start area with all the luggage trucks. Crazy long queue at the first loo made me continue to walk and quickly after, there was just nobody there. First pitstop to empty this blaster of mine. Found my truck #3, but felt that it was a bit too early to leave it (as it meant taking off my clothes and staying with bare legs in the cold. Without running yet). All was well indicated and despite the number of people growing in the area, it felt well organized. And there was always someone to ask indication to.

7:33am – Off with the pants and cosy warmjacket. I put one gel in each of my arm sleeves, leaving only one in my back pocket. Felt like a smart move. Quick photo from a very kind volunteer and headed to my start group. A bit of wait to get up the stairs and got directly to the loo. Second pitstop. Cannot understand a blaster can hold THAT much… Then I headed slowly to my start.

08:03am – Assigned to Group A – Run as One, which meant having the invited athletes, then the elite athletes and then…us! Very cool indeed. Another cool thing was that they separated the ladies and the men for the start. We had the left side and the men the right side. This was to avoid accident at start apparently. And then the wait started…in the cold. A line of Japanese was already sitting in the front and I took the row right behind. Pretty freezing legs and I really regretted NOT to have planned for this. Decided to do a few rounds of running in our corral while it was still empty. Not much of a warmup really, but at least it was making the body a bit less lethargic and after turning around a bit, it felt warmer. Still one hour to go…

8:17am – Still a lot of wait. Sitting here in the cold asphalt with my legs covered as good as I could with my too-big tshirt… Found out that there was no toilet close to our start corral, but it felt all fine. Stood up a bit to look at the elites warming up. Very surprised actually to see them doing rounds and rounds and rounds for quite a while, one hour before the start. Very jealous to see all of them in long pants and warm jacket…. Cannot tell that I was the only one! Most of the runners around me had extra tops but bare legs. Not all of them, but still.

8:26am – a bit of chat with my Japanese runner-buddy close to me. Not understanding a single word but getting that she wanted to know my expected time to finish. Having a 2:50 written on my arm, she left her eyes to the skies. I re-insured her by showing my real wristband for 3:00-2:58. Would not go faster today with this cold for start. After a bit of while sitting, we just got closer and closer so to warm each other. Which was cosy and nice. Other runners were doing the same. She happened to be running her first marathon ever… Felt pretty cool to have this done here in Tokyo.

8:40am-ish – alignment of the wheelchair athletes. Once again, pretty cool to have them one meter before me! I think I recognize a couple of them. A bit of buzz on the left side… the elites were lining up. WoooooW! How COOL is that?!?! Yes it is not the first ever time to have elite of this level starting beside me, but here he was! The former WR-holder Wilson Kipsang and other fast guys around him. They just look amazing, calm and focused…and so-like “normal people”!

9:ish am – Hearing the Japanese anthem. Feeling that I need to get to the loo. Now! Really much. Looking right and left. All runners are standing and I feel like sitting down…. Guys do it ALL the time in the start of races, which would gals not be able to do it… But nope. Not freaking bold enough to do it. That might work. Maybe.

9:05 am – start of the wheelchair race. The elite athletes are now lining up in front of us. Seeing Sara Hall there. In the middle of Kenyan and Japanese elites. The male runners are freaking gorgeous! They look fast and are actually fast too! Turning around quickly, so many people behind us. 30,000 runners!!! How cool is that?!?!? Throwing my t-shirt away. Eating the two small strawberry jellies. And that was it. Seconds left… No countdown… Still we are not allowed to get close(r) to the elite athletes and stand 10m behind them…

THE RACE

First half

09:10am – BAAAAM! We are finally unleashed! No push, no pressure. Loving those starts. Feels like there is more pushing on the right side when the male runners are starting. To have a pretty freezing body to be asked to run at 4:10-tempo right from the start ain’t one of my specialties… And indeed the start with the confetti, the roar from the crowd (probably just in my head…), the pounding of thousands of feet on the asphalt… Talk about thrill! Turning pretty soon on the right and there we mix with the guys. Still pretty good. Checking that my watch has started properly and yes. Indicating sub4 start, which sounds pretty logical and ok. The first 5K are regular downhill, so the plan is to get as much ahead of time by km10 and then getting into MP. Not planning to burn all my energy there though. Downhill running is however the worse when having a blaster ready to explode. Seeing a first loo on the right side and guys running towards it. Have always felt that it was strange to have people getting to the loo so close to the start being given. Now I was right in it. 900m to the next toilet. That would be my stop. Not a chance I am running much longer this way. And Beeep! First km clocking in…WHAAAAAT?!?!? 3:17? Yeah sure! D*mn buildings and stupid GPS. Pressing lap when the km1-sign is appearing. Feeling that I am about 4min-tempo and that is fine. And here they are, the next stop for the loo. Cannot do anything else but stopping. Counting the seconds and probably lost 20-25seconds there. But way better after that. My km2 was fine but this stop is killing my km3-pace… I ran right back in the crowd. I have however lost the gals I was following. I have lost the pace I had. I have lost the flow I got from start. All these will never come back during the race. Feeling a bit off. The GPS is completely wrong, the km-signs are not placed properly. Even when I am lapping them on the watch. OK, running alongside of a couple of gals, felt ok. Have no clue how fast (or more likely “how slow”) I am running. So I wait until getting to km5. Good. Right under 21 minutes. Surely slower than I wanted, but considering the stupid-but-necessary stop at the loo, that would be ok. How will I get back those 20-30 seconds I lost is the next challenge… If this is not done before km10, then I doubt there is other place more appropriate for that in the race. Have taken a few glups of Pocari water at the station and it goes well. Not really necessary, but you never know… (Well, you eventually know, but then it is generally too late!). The sun is shining. Feeling a bit warm with the arm sleeves. Both gels have now gone down along my arm sleeves and are right at my elbows. BOTH of them! Not practical at all. Km7 of now passed. The flow is gone. I cannot find a good way to get INTO this race. Hoping that it would change when reaching the parts I have run during the prior days. We separate from the km10-race by now – they have the right side of the street and we -marathoners- have the left side. Shortly we reach km8. But this does not really ring a bell. I have run here yesterday, stupid mind of mine. Remember the feeling! Now! There has been quite some turn right and left since the start. My compass is off…on the top of everything else. As good as I enjoy the sun then! Feeling at least that the effort level is pretty low. Kilometers after kilometers. I try to figure out how to get into a decent pace which would make the body pressing a bit, but nope. Getting to km9 and the Starbucks on the left side. Feeling like stopping by for a Soy chocolate… Not right now! Focus! Under the bridge and we are getting close to km10. A little up towards the “Go! Go!”-sign I have seen a couple of times in the past days and we turn left, when the 10km-runners turn right. Taking off my gloves then…and losing my blue/yellow bracelet that T has given me… Looking back at it on the asphalt, considering running back to pick it up, but nope. Sadly continuing forward. 10km has been reached. Passed slightly under 42minutes. Stupid slow donkey I am! 1 minute off the pace I wanted there! But here is my “hoods” 🙂 Feeling comfortable after turning left and getting to the first little bridge (of many before we would get back to this specific spot). Did not feel THAT heavy as the day I ran here. Have taken a bit of Pocari water again at the 10km-station. All according to plan…apart from the slow pace. The stretch to km14 or so is just disappearing as in a trance. Hearing there somewhere the first “Heja Sverige! Ser stark tut!“ (“Go Sweden! Looking strong!”) from a gal on the side. She got me smile 🙂 And I wave. The tricky of this race is the feeling of running in another planet or universe. Not understanding a single cheering (even though I know the thousands of people in the street ARE cheering), not understanding a single sign written on the posters, seeing mostly Japanese around (and apologies is other Asian were in the race and I mistakenly count them in the Japanese). I feel off. Reaching km12 and the countdown is continuing: 30km to go 🙂 Feeling too good for being in a race actually. Enjoying the sun too much. Looking a bit too much around. Calculating too many time how far off the expected time I am. Too much thinking really! Reaching the separating street where we go straight towards km15 and the other come back and turn towards km16. As expected the female athletes are there. Beautiful sight. Then lots of Japanese elite men and then I try to focus again on MY race. Feeling rubbish. Why on earth continuing if I cannot make it to the time I want and can? AWAY WITH THIS THOUGHT! Turning back at the end of the street. Noticing that we have reached Kamirarimon Gate. WHAT?!?! Have we run THAT far? I was there on Wednesday and took the subway there!!! Passing a few gals. But not many enough. Taking a few glups of pocari water at the 15km-station as well as throwing a glass of water on my too-hot head. Feeling great afterwards. And now we are turning left towards the halfway point. My wristband indicate that I am still good for a 2:58 finish. Have not seen the 3:00-pacesetters and do NOT want to see them. Doubting I will pass the halfway for 1:28, but should definitely be under 90minutes. Small bridges up&down all the way to the halfway. Passing km19. Preparing my gel to take before km20. OMG it feels warm. Have to dig into my left arm sleeves to get the gel. NOT practical at all! Taking the gel. The opening is not working properly and I have to use both hands for pressing it inside my throat 😦 Soon enough I will get water…I think… and I thought wrong. Passing km20 still in half-decent time and then turning left for this stupid 500m back&forth. Couldn’t they have had the route heading forward for 500 more meters instead?!?! Full sun on this little stretch. Feels like I am in another world. Feels pretty quiet in my head even though I see people screaming and cheering. Turning back and trying to accelerate towards the mat. And passing the first tables of sport-drink…WHERE IS THE BLOODY WATER?!?!? Ooooh….here after… Slowing down to drink properly and the race is on. Haven’t seen the 3:00-guys yet. But from time to time, there are groups of guys coming heavily behind me and it sounds like the 3:00-group… Turning right again. Seeing the km21-sign. Yihoooo! Still in this race. Passing halfway a bit above 1:29. But still under 1:30 😛 One half done, one half to go!

Second half

This second half starts with a little slope to get under the bridge and then straight… Getting into a good pace (I think?) and passing km22 actually happy. I know this place, I have seen the nice park on the left the other day and there is only 20km left to this race. Straight and then left. Feeling a bit off. Taking dextrosol at km23 and then 24. Cannot see km25 getting close soon enough. GPS is stupid and crazy again. What is my d*mn pace????? (Apart from being snail-like…again!). Taking sport-drink at km25 and right after, I can feel they are there: Right behind me. In my footsteps. Seeing in a shop window a guy with a golden balloon attached to him. NooooO! The 3hr-guys are here!!! Nothing better to stimulate and increase the pace than knowing you have a bunch of guys steering at your butt/legs/back/whatever they steer at. Km26 is getting in a better pace. They SHALL NOT PASSSSSS! I actually smile and laugh inside at this thought. Km27 is gone with this little stupid bridge close to home…and they get closer. Turning towards km28 and accelerating…. Passing the km28-sign and they are still behind me. The long stretch coming I know it. It is killer if not focused…and that is when it happens. Right before km29, the first pacesetter passes me. The lap on his back indicates “My gun time is 3:00”, meaning that if I keep up with them, I should get to 3hrs (as I believe my net time will be pretty much the same as gun time). Sun in the face, trying to keep up, but the right hip ain’t liking it. I am not running that fast, what is its problem then?!?! The street feels like 10km-long. Have they stretched it since Tuesday when I ran there? Pretty sure they did… The 3hrs balloons are still there. Passed by 2 gals who are hanging along those balloons. Doesn’t matter how many guys are there. Only gals are counting. And finally reaching the 30km turn. Have missed the km29-sign. Taking the second gel I have in my other arm sleeve. Not much easier to reach as it is closer to my wrist than my shoulder by now… Taking my time to open it…and even WALKING at the 30km-water station. What is WRONG with me?!?! Have reached the final 12km. Counting that the snail-like pace I am having might mean It’s gonna take an hour before I finish this thing… REALLY? Seeing the elite guys on the other side moving towards their final 2km is helping boosting my low enthusiasm to a little higher level. Now I am no longer focusing. I know that and it makes me not happy at all. Should has well stopping it now… Well, no I don’t think so. Because there is only 10km left now and that means really nothing compared to what has been run already. So stop weeping inside your head and finish this! Passing the Zojo ji park. Really? I have seen it two days ago. Don’t need to see it AGAIN! The sun is warm by then. Seeing the elite women on the other side and that is just beautiful to see. Sara Hall is the only one I know by name and face and this is spectacular to see her running! OK, back to my stupid race. The 3:00 balloons have disappeared. No idea how. Suspecting the guys have left them blowing away so I would not know how far from me they actually are. Good move! It won’t make me feeling more down than I do right now. The right hip and the muscle right under the bum are not happy. But now I see the turning point. This is it. Not much left. Have checked the “counting down” km-signs on the other side of the road and they will hopefully keep me focused until the end. Final stretch. I see the 5km to go-sign. Nothing. Less than 25 minutes. I hope… Passing again the Zojo ji park. Seeing the other runners on the other direction and am so pleased I am now on this side. The sun is warming my back and it feels good. Cheering coming with a smiling “James” and a “Go Sweden, go” could not come more appropriately! I have been cheering for a Spanish guy just earlier telling him “go go Italia”… So the mind ain’t really in the game, but at least I can take the cheering from others! Not sure at all what pace I am running at. Just focusing on the two gals before me and decide to not let them disappear from my side. Getting closer to them. Cheering from the left for a gal passing me on my right does not make me happy. I keep on running and she will NOT pass me. It does not feel that I am pushing at all here! Swedish cheerings are heard once more on the left side from the gal I saw earlier. Could not make me happier! If only it could make me faster… Reaching for my red gel. Taking it fast and hoping to be able to get water and here it come. The water station. Feeling fine with grabbing the water cup, slurping some of the content and continuing to run. I see the 2km to go-sign. This is nothing. Passing one gal with her paceholder. Where is MY paceholder?!?!? It feels like I have been running on my own ALL the way!!! I love the cheering at this moment. I count down and give me less than 10 minutes to reach the end. I will crawl to the end if need be, but I will NOT let any new gal passing me nor slow down. Km41, corner of Hibiya park. I LOOOOOOVE THIS PART! Passing one gal once more but keeping it safe still as I really do not want her to pass me right before the finish line. Turning right and then left again. No more sun in the back. THIS is the final stretch. Fresh in mind from Barcelona, I dig deep to accelerate and make this 800m(?) count. Passing two gals and then the cheered one is coming back on my right!!! NOT.A.CHANCE! I am strong and I can prove it. More power to the engine. Cannot hear anything but one “Go Sweden, Go”. Lifting my hand to thank. And by half way to the end of the street, my left knee is stopping to work properly. WHAAATTTT?!?!? I feel like I have to stop. Rest this stupid knee. No. Not now. Feels like I am limping…because I probably do! Running on those stones on the street ain’t helping. Passing guys as well. I am almost finished. No clue how long is left. The only thing I see is this giant blond gal in front of me. One more place to win. Just one more little place. Passing her on the left right when we turn left to the final final fiiiiiiiinal stretch. No cheering here. Sounds dead-quiet in my head. I just want to get to the finish mat. No idea WHERE it is. Go go go! You’ll fall later after the….finish line? Here? Now? Already?!?!? Pressing my stop button. Shaking a bit while slowing down. And smiling. Done!

Official time received later: 3:02:31…

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

After the finish line

My watch is stopped. Don’t want to look at it. There’s no point. Disappointment is not HUGE as I thought it would be. I have limited the damages and that’s what count. Getting a large smiling thanks from James from Mexico, my running buddy since km30 or so. Then from other runners from Japan. That feels pretty good and cool to hear that I helped them getting to the end 🙂 Looking strong tells me one guy right after hugging me. OK. At least I made people happy today! Talking with James and meeting the long blond gal I passed in the final stretch. We are turning right to get to our bag trucks. Receiving a cool Finisher-towel (no tshirt). And the long walk is starting. NY marathon-long walk-like… Quick stop for a finisher photo. Chatting with those two guys along the way to the end. The blond gal from NY had Tokyo as warmup race before London in 2 months, where she is aiming for 2:50. The Mexican guy had 3:40 for goal as he had been in bad shape (sick) the past 4-6 weeks. What is my excuse then for my ridiculous/boring slow time?… Getting my bag. Pics with James and then final hug before I aim back to Hibiya park to get my 6-stars medal. Have started my watch after getting my bag and it will actually show that I walked 3km (!) to get back to Hibiya park. Probably more as I took the subway path as well. Tricky to get there as the streets are closed and I have to get back to where runners are arriving. A king volunteer is bringing me back…to the finish line (!) and then heading towards the left-side turn of finishers. Walk walk walk… and getting once again some refreshments, another finisher towel and space cover. Say no-thanks for an additional medal and then…finding a kind volunteer to get me to Hibiya park. Looooong way underground and finally to the Hibiya park. Finding a guy with “6-stars” sign who tells me where to go. Which was actually a bit incorrect and I get another kind volunteer to help me around…the loooooong way around! We chat a bit and he tells me he is a runner too. 10,000m and 5,000m are his specialty at the moment but that he wants to get to the marathon one day. 33min to the 10K… not bad I said. Yes, but you can finish a marathon he answers 🙂 And after moremoremore walk, we finally reached the 6-stars area. Greetings and thanks. Getting my second (heavy) medal. And that’s it. I am done. Where do I go now? Final pic with both medals in front of the fountain, quick stop at the free acupuncture tent and I am finally out of the park. Seeing the runners still moving along. Happy to be finished, I am telling myself. Why was I so slow? It feels fine now. The limping of the final stretch, the excruciating pain in the hip after the finish line and all the way to the bag pick-up area…all that is gone…

5km-walk to get back home (instead of the straight 2km…no idea how I got so wrong!) added to the 3km to get to the 6-stars area… Good resting pace and move for those tired legs of mine who did not deliver properly today. Emptying my bag when reaching home and off with my outfit. Laying on the bed for a while, drinking some more water and then shower and getting out for some food. Found a fun fish restaurant pretty close to home, which I dare to enter. Ordering skewers and dumplings, a coke and a Japanese tea. No need to celebrate as nothing has been properly done today. The body still needs food… Finishing my day with a steamed bun filled with red beans (I feel crazy about them now!) and that’s it. Tired in the head, tired in the body, but tricky to get some sleep. Until the whole body just shut down. Good!

A disappointing day in the capital of the Rising sun country, but still an adventure to remember and a 6-star medal to show that this 19th marathon was not THAT bad after all. 4th best time ever in a marathon and best time in all world majors. OK, this was not a totally bad day after all….

**********

Weather: 9°C, Sunny, Feels like 9°C, high humidity. Pretty cold and chilly at start, but as soon as getting the legs running, it felt as usual nice and perfect for running. Took a bit however to have the bum properly warmed up while the legs took less long. Estimating the average temperature throughout the race as 9-10°C. Not much wind. Sunny.

Food: > before: chia porridge with green mix and orange juice, 2 bananas, 4 small baby pancakes with honey, Pocari sweat (5dl?) (5:10am)

> right after: banana+Pocari sweat

> on the way back home: steamed bun with red beans

> 5.5 hours after: skewers+dumplings+rice, coke and japanese tea

> During: 2 strawberry jellies right before start, Pocari sweat @km5-10-15-25, green gel @km20-30-35, red gel at km40 (right before the water stations). Dextrosol: 2 at km22 and 1 every km or so at km23-24-26. Full Dextrosol halfpack left…

Gear: ADIDAS SWE outfit (hotpants & sports bra), Casal Iconic black Sports bra MIK, arm sleeves blacke, Decath windgloves pink/black, sunglasses, shoes happy to run on the feet. As usual, they just were great. A bit strange feeling at start as the asphalt was not really plain and nice. It felt a lot under the feet then…

=> Perfect outfit? Without question…Well it was the only one I had! Apart from black shorts and other singlet. The arm sleeves felt good until the sun warmed a bit more and it felt then quite warm. Had them down to the elbow as soon as I had taken the gels. Using them for the gels was NOT optimal! Hotpants looked good and worked well too. For once!!! Singlet was all fine, although I could have run as well with only sports bra. The gel carrying worked. Not optimally, but ok. The Dextrosol carrying was once again a disaster and I will NOT have them in the front of my sports bra in future races… Burn marks once AGAIN… DO I ever learn?!? Forgetting to have extra long pants to keep myself warm before the start was not good. To keep in mind and be better prepared next time.

14/ Up to the halfway I tried to have a decent effort level. Probably got to 15 or so, but after getting passed by the 3hrs-guys, not a chance that the effort was higher than a 13/14. Did not want to have more pain in the hip while still wanting to finish this race. This is disappointing not to have been able to get higher on the effort level. But better safe than sorry….

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

SUMMARY: This race was expected to be an adventure. To a country far far away. All alone. And it ended this way too. Disappointing results, but finalizing the race was as usual one of the objectives. And this one was completed at least. It gives more experience to the whole journey. The race itself was perfectly arranged. From the expo to the new route. I am very angry at myself for this stupid stop at the loo 2km-into the race. What was the alternative really?… I never get into the race really, and probably because of this stop. The 20-25seconds stop did kill probably most of the first half. Unsure how the hip would have worked out without this stop. The weather was definitely on the positive side. After a few freezing days in Tokyo, it was a delight to be running under the sun (well…OK…it was dead-freezing at start however…). The wind was there but not annoying at all.

On the downsides, the GPS freaking out was also not cheering for me today. Could hear some other watches beeping properly at the km-signs, when mine was just crazy. Good to have wristbands for reference… The hip was not functioning properly and unsure how to explain it. The walk like crazy after the finish line should be revised. NO need to walk so much really. Hopefully they will re-assess this arrangement for future races. The walk back to Hibiya park was just stupidly too long (but still worth for the medal I got 🙂 ).

All-in-all, Sunday long run in Tokyo provided some miles under my feet and more experience for the future. Head has rested now, body is under recovery. Cannot wait to race again…properly this time! 🙂

===> Loads of thanks for the cheering and the support received while I was preparing this race. Not many knew about it and that was the plan. Preparation did work very well, despite the stupidly crazy cold weather at home, the race-prep in Barcelona was ok but might have made the body a bit tired 2 weeks before Tokyo. Well, missing the expected time, missing the placing I was planning, I still completed the race, and that counts fully. Celebration needed, even if only little J The season is still young…

Thanks to all the runners who cheered during the race. Mostly foreigners (ie not Japanese). Thanks for the lovely Japanese gals I met right before start. Unable to speak the same language, but running was what made us happy. Together 🙂 Great thanks to the gal cheering in Swedish along the course and for the pics received afterwards. Priceless! Thousands of thanks for all the cheering people along the course. Not understanding a word but still getting your warmth for continuing the running! And final thanks to you, my special people, who are standing there in my mind when the running gets tough or the running gets fun or the running gets easier. Your support and love are counting so that no word can really describe.

Big thanks to E for video-calling me in the morning of the race. A large smile and encouragement kept in my thoughts, which got me to the end! Loads of thanks for my little personal cheering-squad at home, always supportive and encouraging during training and race. Priceless!

******

A few more days in Japan, sun shine or grey skies, a lot of walking… I might wait a bit longer before this tattoo on my hip saying in Japanese “The limping snail”… Time for recovery now. The body feels fine, no hip nor knee trouble two days after the race, and despite the walking and walking and more walking around in Kyoto. More rest will be still on the menu for a few days… thereafter…new adventures shall begin! THANKS!

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

A few “after-race thoughts”

NOTE: Let’s start with the body. Because it always is the body that might stop from achieving this particular goal. Tired after the finish line mostly because of the final 1km-sprint (or whatever you may call the limping-stuff I did). The hip pain was not planned and am a bit unsure how it came into picture. The knee pain was also a surprise (a bad one) as it really felt I would not be able to walk at all after all this. But nope. Nothing. To be checked, but still. Thinking it is a bad compensation of the body of some kind. Have to work on this. A positive note? Achille’s heels did not bother me at all. Good sign, right?

NOTE: Warmup? Would more likely call it a “cool down” what I had today! Freezing was an understatement! Felt pretty jealous to see the elites running back and forth during probably 20-30 minutes in their training clothes, while we were freezing sitting on the cold asphalt. Lessons learned: I will have a full outfit on my on the top of my racing outfit for the next race! Not a chance I will freeze this way again! Took probably 1-2km for getting into a good rhythm…which was killed due to the stop at the loo…

NOTE:…which brings me to the “loo incident”. HOW ON EARTH CAN THIS HAPPEN?!?! Had timed well the drinking, got to the loo twice before start…but still…. Having over one hour of wait made it pretty clear that the blaster would not master it. Unsure what could have been done differently. But that will NOT EVER happen again to stop during a race. Promise to myself.

NOTE: Energy/refueling during the race? On this, I am actually pretty happy and proud about how it went. The sport drink during all the first half worked properly. Still a bit tricky to drink in the paper cups, but worked anyway. Then the gels taken were all fine and well planned. Did not take the extra one I had in the back of my sport bra. Not needed. Could probably have done without the Dextrosol and take sports drink instead. What did NOT work was the carrying of the Dextrosol. Won’t happen again. Promise to myself.

NOTE: Beetroot loading? Still unsure this helps or not helps. Will probably cut it for the next races. Although beetroot juice is good to drink 🙂

NOTE: then…gels in the sport-bra, on the back? Same as earlier races. No issue with that. Only that I did not take this gel…

NOTE: …and dextrosol+gel in the sport-bra, in the front? Read thought above… won’t happen again. I mean it this time…

NOTE: then…gels in the arm sleeves and back pocket of the hotpants? Arm sleeves were a good-to-have for the race. But should have attached the gels to the arm sleeves maybe. Backpocket of the hotpants worked fine.

NOTE: Tokyo marathon is hereby the LONGEST marathon I have ever run (since Berlin 2013…) – 42,88km 😛

NOTE: Post-marathon recovery on-going and working well. 20km walk each day after the race for two days… the body is happy to move! Time to plan for a massage. More days ahead without running and then have to take care of that hip of mine. So that it won’t annoy me next time.

New adventures on the way…

 


Race Report – BCN Mitja Marató de Barcelona 2017/02/12

barcelonahm2016

Nice medal, DAB before start and smiling after.

Planned: sub90, 87-88 maybe. Training-race as warmup to next race to come…

Actual: 1:28:50 – within the expected time-range, but a bit slower than could have been. Still…sub90 is a good time for a training race. The body was all good from start to end, and as usual (!) a bit indecently not-tired after the finish line and despite the final sprint.

  • Took at least 20 sec to reach the start mat.
  • Took at least 1.7km to get into a race rythm.
  • Took 10km to get to cruise pace.
  • Took 11.7km to start slowing down the pace but still feeling fine.
  • Took last 2.5km to enjoy passing so many guys.
  • Took 1.1km at the end to get passed, keep the gal in sight, start to sprint with 600m left, pass her not without fight, pass another gal and miss a place to the finish at less than half a second.
  • Final sprint of half a km @3:41… liking it…but also meaning I had way enough strength to run slightly faster before…

A good start for the year anyhow!

Place: 55 – all women, 6 – age category, 3rd Swede & 1,234 out of 15,242 finishers. A good way to start this year…

Splits (official)

Split Time Diff Min/km Total
5km 00:21:00 21:00 04:12  
10km 00:41:52 20:52 04:10  
halfway  
15km 01:03:13 21:21 04:16  
20km 01:24:27 21:16 04:15  
Finish 01:28:50 04:23 3:59 55

Way slower than RIL in October already from first 5K. On the other side the route was slightly up then in Barcelona. All in all, a good and comfortable pace throughout…

Totals

Place 55
Place (age) 6
Place (total) 1234
Time total 01:28:50
Average pace 04.13min/km

In short: Niiiice! Sub90 to start the year. Stable throughout, even though lost quite a lot during the first 2km. Good run in Spain!

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

BEFORE THE RACE

The 2 days before…

Traveling down to Barcelona with G on Friday. Went smoothly. Took the long bus ride to the city center. No sun shine directly, but that was still better than back home… Found the apartment and then we walk the long way to pick up the BIB and then back home and eat. Pizza for late lunch and pasta on the menu for dinner. No creativity whatsoever… Body felt all good for running, although a bit sluggish as it often is prior to race.

Saturday started with an easy run, done from home to the start and then running the first 5km was the plan. It showed that the 5km from the start were nothing to fear which was nice to know. Thereafter Lost a bit my way and the “easy 4-6km” turned into 9km… Took it easy the rest of the day. Relax and preparing my race gear. Still unsure regarding the weather.

Race day

4:45am – Already??? Up early for breakfast, as I wanted to get into “marathon-testing” mode. Chia seeds, green mix and sport drink. All get down and that’s it. Then back to bed. When the alarm rang again, it was time to get ready. No rush. Long hot shower and on with racing gear (NY singlet, SOC blue army shorts, black arm sleeves and neckwarmer as well as my superduperfast shoes ADIDAS Adizero Adios Boost – Purple (Quicky). Setting two Swedish flags on my left arm and I am good to go! Woke up G, check for the 100th time my bag with changing clothes, that I have my BIB on my singlet… and then we were both ready to go.

 

7:00am – A bit chilly outside, good to have long pants and jacket on. Would gladly get back to my warm bed… but did not. We walked nice and easy to the start with G. Lots of people. Passing the train station (?) where the bags can be left. So nice to have G there and to let him all my clothes before running. Real luxury treatment!

08:00am – Arriving in the park and keeping my clothes on, started to run…OMG…so easy pace I would have lost a race with snails probably! After a few 100s, got to meet the lady having the world record on this route in 2015 (record that fell 2 days before today’s race… Talk about motivation!!!). Anyway, cool to run right behind her for a short while and at the same pace! Yes! I can follow WR-holder…during her warmup…and for 200m… Final pitstop. A few pics taken in front of the fountain and time to get to the start corral. Off with the long pants and the jacket. Final warm hugs. And that was it.

08:30am – melting in my start group. 1:20 to 1:30. Should work fine. Meeting a Swedish gal, who says not being in the best of her form. Well, she still is in the next-best start group… Seeing the pacesetters for 1:20 and 1:25. OK. Lots of couples actually in this start group. I mean boyfriend/girlfriend. You meet your equal in races probably 😛 They all look so crazily fast anyway.
Deciding to NOT get to the front line. Letting the chaos from start disappearing before I arrive. Quite a lot of runner in front of me then… Those from my group, the “less than 1:20”-group and the elite-group… All those are in front of me. And plenty behind too.
Feeling warm now in the corral. All are pressing against each other as the start will soon be given… Feeling good. Or?… Countdown is suddenly given…at FIVE…four…three…two…one…

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

THE RACE

8:45am and BAAAM! Confettis in the skies…

Start is given. But not much happening actually. Starting to WALK!!! And it probably took twenty long seconds before getting to the start-mat (and yes, I was in the second fastest start-group! Right behind the rackets-runner!). Pressing the start button on my watch and heading towards the right side of the street. There is an abrupt left-turn pretty soon after the start and contrarily to other races, I decide NOT to get the shortest path there. Have read enough on this race to understand that it might not be worth it. Had in mind to take it easy first km, but this time…it felt WAY too easy. Checking that my watch has started properly and yes… and it shows 4:20-pace (!) on the first stretch after the left turn… Euuuuuuhhhh…What?!?!? This ain’t easy. This is snail-like pace! Turning right to the main large street and here it feels better. Runners have lots of place to spread out and that ease the running. Reach km1 in 4:17…after an acceleration! I know the first 5-7km of the race, so nothing to fear, right? First cheering from G there right at km1. Now the race is on! A bit off to understand what pace I am having, but the second km is passed @4:07. That’s better! Passing the big statue and then we turn right towards the long slightly slowly steady up part. Probably the trickiest part of the race as it comes right from the beginning. So the plan (in my head) was to take it easy for the first 5km and indeed I do. A bit too much maybe… The long stretch to km4 disappears however quite nice and it feels that the legs and rest of the body are happy to run. No racket-pace, but decent one. Getting passed by the 1:25-pacesetters when we take the little street on the right and I am just hanging along. I know it is not my pace and it is not what I am to run, but it feels fine. Turning right again to the main street Gran Via. Feeling nice and fine. Passing the 5K in 21min, which is a bit slow, but decent enough for being the first 5K. From this part on and for 5 more km or so, it is expected to be faster and downhill. I am having a gal in black outfit and with a bandana on my left and she looks like having similar expectations for the race. She looks tiny but so d*mn strong! No stop for water at the 5K-water stations. No need. Settling in a comfortable pace. OK, passing km6…and soon…we…should… be.soon..turning…right… Helloo!?!? Where is the right turn? Finally arriving. And downhill too. Have a Swedish older guy in front of me. New plan: Keeping him in sight and not letting him go! As well as having the gal with black outfit and bandana on my side. The downhill towards km7 is nice. Getting down to 4:00-pace and then 4:02 pace. Passing the Arc de Triomphe (the one in Barcelona…not the French one!).. Lots of people cheering there. Stretch along the Arc de Triomphe is longer than expected, but the turn left is nice. I am now heading towards km8. Good flow in the legs. The mind is happy. I can do this! I know how to do this! A bit less people in this street, but way more than I thought it would be. I am warm and I have taken off my arm sleeves. In on the front of my sports bra. Waiting for my lovely cheering-squad who should be somewhere there. Passing km8. All good. Sliiightly up, but so note easy to detect it. Looking right, looking left. Needing some smile-energy here! And here he is. The largest smile on his face and the best cheering in the world! All for me! Throwing my arm sleeves to G. Telling him that I am late on the schedule. That should count for 1-2 minutes slower than planned, but still under 90minutes. He just started to walk and then run along the race route. ON the pavement. And I can just NOT stop smiling and keeping my eyes on him. Soooo crazy cool! Cannot feel I am in a race. It is just a nice fast run with lovely G 🙂 OK, he makes it look like d*mn-crazy and I am actually at my race-pace, but it does not matter. All the energy in the world is getting concentrated in those minutes he runs with me and that feels like a blessing from above. He slows down on his pavement, continuing to scream nice things and here I am. Km9 has been passed and I am back on the road, alone. Finding the Swedish guy a bit further than I thought. But still in good sight. And having “my” gal with black outfit and bandana still on my side. Time to turn towards km10… The slight up is not really felt. Indeed, it is not THERE it is going up!!! Wake up, you! Reaching km10 under 42minutes. OK. No crazy pace, but still in good form to get under 90minutes. Right turn after the 10K-mark. Good! Just another one 10K like that, and that’s it! F.O.C.U.S!!!

Would have liked to have G running a bit longer by my side… The stretch after the 10K is not fun. Nobody on the side of the course. The skies are grey… and I am losing my pace-buddy! Felt safe and nice… until… her bandana fell on the asphalt and…she…stops and run back (!) to get it!!! Noooooo! Don’t do this! I am alone here. I am a bit sad actually to have lost her. I try to find another runner to follow. Only guys are surrounding me. And none are having a pace which I can adapt to. I see ahead of me the runners turning left. THERE it is… the little slope after km11…So short, almost missing it! And then the right turn is bringing a crazy “déja-vu”. Running on the street with a separation wall (?) with the other road with the cars. I feel like I have been there before. But not exactly. Took a short while before I connect that in Chicago marathon there is a similar part, but on the other direction! In Chicago we have the road with the cars on our right and here in Barcelona, we have them on our left. Stop this Memory lane trip and focus on the road!!! Right turn and downhill after km12 is SO welcome! Try not to run foolishly fast in the downhill…but it is very tempting! Down to “sub3-marathon-pace” by then. The kilometres to km14 are slower than I want. It is windy a bit, but I cannot really blame it on the wind here. I am the one running… Reaching the right-turn at 13.5km and on the other side of the road, I can see the first female runner Florence Kiplagat turning right…at her km16.5 or so…Yap! She is not one, not two but THREE kilometres ahead of me… Those lost twenty seconds from the start… 🙂 I like the stretch here. I feel the light tailwind pushing us forward. I see the 1:20-pacesetters and their followers on the other side… The thoughts are simple there… I want to be ON THE OTHER SIDE WITH THEM!!! Cannot see any female runners on the other direction for a while.  OK, focus on your race, you! Tailwind is nice but the guys around me seems to actually slow down here. Heeeeeeeee what???? A group of 4-5 guys are passing me right before the U-turn towards km15. Just hanging along. Because there…is…headwind! NOT LIKING IT! Once again, and as in many other previous races, I could not get into a pack for running (there was NO pack there) and the guys are not necessarily helpful neither. Passing km15 a bit slower than planned, but that was expected by now. I get to a higher gear to hang with the guys who passed me. Have 3 before me (thanks for the wind-shield!) 2 on the left and one who annoys me as he is on my right but not really passing me nor running behind me. One of the guys before me is getting his foot into a long plastic stuff that was expected to be between two grinds. We (in the group) sees what is going to happen. We all cream at once. He fell right before me. I jump above him. Turning back and he is up already and giving a smile that all is fine. Wow! Hard-core guys here! And we are turning at the km16.5… which is the windiest street of the race. I can feel the wind blowing away my feet against each other from time to time. Deciding to keep it “safe” and ran right behind two tall guys. Which meant as well slowing down, but for a while it felt ok. After what seems to be 100km or so (1…), I got tired of this pace and I pass them. Where is km17 by the way? Have I passed it? Checking my watch, but it is a bit off compared to the km-signs. Probably 200m off… Deciding that km17 is way ahead of me. At least I won’t be disappointed if it some earlier! Beeeep! Km17 on my watch. Keeping on running. Turning left at the little roundabout… and here it is! Km17 has been reached! My brain is just having enough clarity still to get that it is 4km to go. Training last week was aiming to get those 4Ks at 16:30… Not a chance that will happen today! Less than 20 minutes is the best calculation I can do. Waiting for the km18-mark and the “terrible” little slope that so many were fearing apparently. Seeing it coming from a little while as runners are turning left ahead of me. And I was actually unsure of what I had read. Turned left and took this baby-slope on the top of the toes (yes, I let dudes passing me there…but their legs did not like the pace up and they were passed by little-me soon after 🙂 ). OMG this feels so good. Turning right and lightlight down. LIIIIIIKING IT SO MUCH! The final 3km were reached. Straight and flat. Hardly noticing the sea scenery, but honestly, I wanted to have this finished. Seeing double at a moment, two backs with the same tshirt, the same shorts and running, making me feeling like I must be completely off,… but nope. There WERE two guys there! And I am passing them.. Yooohooo! Cheering along. Passing people IS fun! Even better if it could be gals… Turning right. Almost final stretch. At least the km20 is right there. Can see it. Getting the final cheering from G. Woopwooop! A French guy caught up on me too with more cheering words. Feeling so good. Feeling so strong. Surely off my expected pace, but still it feels nice…. Until…as in other races… happens what I REALLY do not like… a gal passes me! There! On the spot! 1.1km to go! The French guy by my side encourages me to “take her, but not now. To wait until the final 600m-stretch”. Which I am planning to do… Steady…steady…steady….. Had watched the arrival of a couple of this particular race in Barcelona and how the race was won at the end by the final sprint. Took it easy until the final left turn. Accelerated progressively there. The gal noticed it as she was looking at me. Waited for the final 400m to push a bit more and pass her. Seeing all those air-arches in front of us…WHICH ONE IS THE FINISH LINE?!?!? Just push. As long as I could hold at least that pace. To the end. And there was another gal right before me. Another place to take! Yoooohoo! Pressing a bit more on those strong legs (which were…hummm…where exactly during the race?…) and pass her too and the final line was there…and the other gal got me by what?…half a second? 😦 Does not matter much. The clock was ticking right after 1:29, but having started after the gun, it gave me a nice sub 89! I am happy! The usual “where is the second half of the race”-feeling is right there. Waiting for me. The people around me appear to be tired. When I am not…

Official time: 1:28:50 (gun time 1:29:15… Those stupid 20sec of walking to the start…)

 **************

AFTER THE FINISH LINE

Getting a hug from the French guy. He has a yellow BIB meaning he was good for a sub80 (!) halfmarathon. And today he arrived behind me. Not that tired as it appears like. Turning like and walking towards the Arc de Triomphe. Getting my medals and water and fruit and that’s it. Heading to the medal engraving tent and THERE I get my sub89-time. Nothing to really climb up to the roofs with, but still. Sub89 is sub89 😛

Getting on my yellow poncho. Feeling a bit cold. Finally finding G after having waited a bit at the alternative meeting point, when he waited at the original meeting point. Hugs, pics and the walking back home. Nice with long and hot shower. Resting my legs a bit. And then walking to the city center for some celebration food. Visit at the Sagrada Familia was nice to have to finish this day! Would have been even better with a hot and shiny sun…

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

Weather: 12.9°C Cloudy, Feels like 12.8°C, 13 kph E wind, 82% humidity – good weather conditions. Although the wind was not crazy strong, it did impact on the race. The grey skies were not much fun neither…

Food: breakfast (chia seeds + green mix + powerade + banana) @4:45am, red juice @7:45am, after: water, banana right after the race. Late lunch around 2pm (?)

During: little sport drink right before the start, gel @km10, 15, 20. Not really needed, but it was for training ahead of marathon.

Gear: NY blue singlet, SOC army blue shorts, arm sleeves black, neckwarmer (on the head after half way). Shoes delivered as usual. Did I write already that I just love them?…

Shoes: ADIDAS Adizero Adios Boost – Purple (Quicky)

16/ OK, a bit higher than expected, but it was a race after all… The first 10km was not that high really. Probably 13/14. Don’t know how to get higher and really pushing for faster time here. Just falling into a comfortable marathon-pace is NOT the solution. More work to be done…

******

A few “after-race thoughts”

NOTE: Still subscribing to the “sub90-club” :-). A bit slower than expected, but making it is good enough for this as being a training race. Don’t want to be dead tired in a warmup race, right?

NOTE: Weather-wise, not really the best ever. Temperatures all fine, but the grey skies and the wind with them was not much fun. Barcelona… Hello?!?!? Sun should be shining and it should be warm!!! The wind was not a decisive factor for a slow pace, but was definitely not helping me…

NOTE: Time and place? Well, it did end within the range I expected, so should not be too picky…But yes, I am! The first 5K were too comfy and the 5K from 10-15km felt like slower than should. OK. I am satisfied. Next time will try to be all-in…or close to it.

NOTE: Warmup? Not much of it. But having my extra clothes on until close to the start were a decisive part of NOT freezing before start. Good with a little leg shaking before the race, but should have done slightly better/more probably.

NOTE: Drinking & energy during the race? As being a training race, I took it with the energy feeling I am expecting during the marathon. Took gels, but should have had sport-drink. All fine. Not sure extra energy was required though.

NOTE: Liking this race. Can definitely be on my “future race” list again. If Barcelona can guarantee no wind then, that would be great. Oh…and more sun too… Good cheering along the race (apart from quiet parts…but all races have such…), good organization, nice route. Highly recommending this race!

 

>> Loads of thanks for support and words of encouragement to be distributed here. Even though I kept this race a bit on low profile, it was great to have some people knowing about it 🙂 The greatest and most special thanks goes to G who came along, endured my pre-race mood, my race-morning mood and my post-race mood. Again, with such cheering on the side, one can do great things! A bit of easy run now, continuing the warming up and then should come the first big adventure for this year 🙂


Race Report – Málagathon – 2016/12/04

Nice & sunny Friday, freezy Sunday and no race, finally getting miles under my feet…


Planned: training race on marathon distance. Not too slow…

Actual:……Race cancelled due to Red Alert and rain & flood of the worse kind since late 80’s… But this mattered not. Later on the same day, a marathon was run, all on my own on as much as possible following the original race route. 3:18:30. Not too bad for a training long run 🙂

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

M Day-5

No real carb depletion. This was a training race and time for testing a bit. Did reduce the amount of carbs in the food eaten, but did not go for zero carb. Felt all fine. Morning run went well on light feet and faster than expected for a distance run at 5am in -6°C…

M Day -4

Morning run at 5am and 6°C in a pitch black city still sleeping. Similar conditions to pre-Amsterdam. The only little problem was the left knee-cap which did feel a bit during warm up. Matters not. During the final interval/tempo workout following it, it went all well. The following day was however less fun, with the kneecap not really happy and forcing me to get back home from work right after lunch. Nothing around the kneecap (ie no runner’s knee, jumper’s knee or similar). This was ON the knee cap. Anyway, had time to fix the legs and get a pre-race massage. Laser treatment on the knee and the right Achille’s heel. Felt all ok, but did come back later the same day.

M Day-3

Second rest day for the week. Light carb breakfast and work. Then from lunch onwards the nicest (?) part of the marathon training…Carbo loading! Did not overdo it. Wanted to see how the body would react on Sunday. Evening travel went well…with a delayed flight of 30minutes and then delayed luggage delivery of 30 minutes. Made it barely to the train to Málaga center, forcing me to get a run on tired legs from a several hours trip. And nope. The knee cap did not like it, nor the right Achille’s. Found my way to my host’s place, host who was kind enough to remain awaken and welcome me at midnight… Quick shower and crashed down on my bed. Niiiiice!

M Day-2

Awaken early as this Friday was still a work day. Got my meetings online and it worked well. Enjoyed fully the sunshine coming through the open window. Took a break after morning meetings in order to get those legs of mine some fun under the sun. My home being quite close to the race route, I ran easy to the “km1” and then followed the route. Of course not running on the road as there were lots of cars! Did my run on the pavement, which unfortunately was not asphalted but with decorative bricks (or whatever it is called). Avoided running down in the tunnel around km3 (too many cars and no sidewalk there…) and then along the sea. Quick stop at Passeo Parque for taking pictures. Yes it was a bit sweaty. Very happy to have some sun, although it would make the race a bit tricky due to the apparent humidity. No worry I thought. Light rain is on the menu for Sunday… Quick back home, food while working (2 portions pasta worked well, with Aquarius sport drink which was what would apparently be served during the race). Later the afternoon, close the laptop for work and headed with the bus to Palacio de Desportes to pick up my BIB. Good it was two days before the race, because I walked a lot and too much! Got my BIB in a quite empty expo, but that is fine for me. Nice 3-digits number and my name on a blue background. Fast chick said the guy giving me the envelop 🙂 Then food shopping at the nearby Carrefour and back home when dark had already came down on the city. Feeling nice and ready. Nice and long chat with Lucas my host. A bit late in bed, but that is ok. Sunday is a long run, right?

M Day-1

Sleep-in was the plan. Awaken at 6am, it had to be corrected! Slept a bit more and then opened the eyes after 8:30am. Good. Took it very easy and was out on the pavement a bit before 10am. The plan was to run the final 6km of the race (as km36 to 39 were pretty close to my home. Found km36 and then just run. OMG, those legs of mine wanted to run…way faster than what the brain let them do! Lost a bit my way after getting in the city center around “km39”+ which meant running 4km longer than the plan. But that was ok. I could note that some city streets would be very slippery in case of rain for tomorrow. Nice in the air. Loved it. Back home and had a large breakfast. Then nothing but watching movies on my laptop. Resting 🙂 And lots of drinking (Gatorade and Aquarius). Took a short trip to the close-by Decathlon but was disappointed by the size and what the offered. For once (!) I left the store empty-handed. Got lots of Gatorade from Carrefour instead. And that was it. More movies. Did not feel tired (or was it all the sport-drinks that was keeping me awaken? Or the excitation of running for once a marathon as training? All-in-all, there was not a trace of stress in me!). Around midnight the eyes started to close themselves on their own. Good!

M DAY!!!!

At last!

Before the race

05:00am – awaken well-rested…kind of! The heavy rains had fallen since I went to bed and were still on when waking up. Breakfast of champions as usual (chia seeds, green mix, Gatorade as well as white bread with honey. Glass of water). And back to bed…

5:30&6:00am – same procedure as regular marathon race: water and Gatorade. Half-asleep still. But feeling fine. Decided to drink the last time at 6:30am (instead of having it at 7am). Just to see whether the blaster would prefer it this way 😛

6:59am – up and direction the shower. Eye drops for not having too dry eyes during the race (but with all the water falling, that should be fine!). Happily heard the rain stopped around 7:20am. Nice! Only wet streets then. Had the window wide opened and while getting myself ready I started to hear a strange noise. Cannot be… Yap! Crazy heavy rain falling from the skies! Reconsidered my outfit and added calve sleeves to the race outfit (MIK singlet, SOC shorts small trapeze and ADIDAS Adizero Adios Boost Purple (Quicky)). Sunglasses were to stay home as well as my mp3. Had decided that for training for real, it was as good to skip the mp3 and endure (!) the loneliness of the long distance runner during the race. Objective: get to km30 without problem, make it work until the end after that 🙂 3 gels in the back pocket, 2 final ones in the back of the sport bra and the Dextrosol in the front. All set! Packed my after-race gear to change to (hopefully) something dry. Did not feel completely ready, but well… it was time!

08:04am – Leaving home. Hearing the heavy rain still pouring out there. A couple of deep breath and hop! As usual being careful not to run in the water (easy under pouring rain…don’t ask!) and approximately 50m after having left the safe home, it just happened. PLAF! The largest pool ever seen and I was running right INTO it. OK, cursing shortly and then changed state of mind. It was better to make this a fun rainy experience than anything else, right? Put the largest smile on my face and started to run/jog to the start. Soaking wet, did not care about running in the water, making small comments to myself for pepping to the run to come. Yap. Motivation actually to the rooftop despite the crazy rains, the fact I missed a couple of streets and could not find my way to the start and finally reach the wardrobe, which were adequately (?) situated underground in a parking place. A bit warmer there, also it was not cold outside. Only wet! Took off my long sleeves and my light training jacket and left them in my bag with my change and left the bag to the functionaries. Remained in the garage, walking and trying to keep myself warm. Not too easy when I was already soaking wet (did I say it already?). Couple of pitstops in dark corners of the parking slot (I know, it was not nice, but hey…guys were standing and seriously urinating in the other corners, without even hiding). Then the rain became even harder (if it even was possible!). Had been in the garage for 10 minutes or so and a flood started to grow… everywhere! Water was actually climbing fast and the garage would be pretty cleaned shortly. Moved to the corner of the wardrobe that was still “dry”. Runners were running back and forth to warmup.

08:40am – ok in my plan I was to BE in the corral at 8:30am. But with this rain, I waited a bit longer, having no idea how far was the start from the wardrobe area. Decided to be brave and getting out and light jog/walk got me to the start approx..200m from there. Not as many runners as I expected for being so close to the start…

08:45am – Announce from the organization… a council was taking place and would be giving their decision for starting the race or not at 09:45am (WHAT? Did I hear correctly with my little Spanish understanding? In ONE hour?!?!?) and IF the race was to start, that it would be around 10:30am. OK, I needed to ask several Spanish guys to have this confirmed. And yes. I did understand properly…

08:55am – Left the start area and cross the street to get into a building where I could see the elites runners in the first floor, well-safe from the rain out there. And the wait started. I went more into the building. Could spot the 3:00-pacesetters. Good to know who to follow. Felt cold and close to freezing. Tried to get more inside the room. Well-intentioned Spanish runners asked me several times if I was fine and for sure, they got both a “Si si” and a large smile.

09:10am – Hearing a guy talking to the police (who was having the room right at the entrance of what was actually the City hall) and showing me. Could just smile back as I really did not get what he was talking about. Followed kindly the police officer and understood that I was actually not looking too good and was freezing to death. A police lady gave me a warm police jacket, made me sit in a room more in the inside. Another policeman brought me a warm cover and put it all around my legs and sat me on a chair. A third one brought an electric radiator and orientated it towards my legs. I was feeling like an ice cube and probably was looking like one too… The room was constantly having 2-3 policemen and one runner, who I understood a bit after was also a cop. The ambulance was called despite me telling them that everything was fine (with my blue lips and my teeth shaking each other). A guy came into the room and started to ask me how it was. I felt fine I said. But he took my hands and started to blow on them to warm them up. Ice cold they were compared to his. He noticed my wristband and asked me if this is what I was expecting to run and for sure, despite being a training race, I did have my sub3 wristband for motivation 🙂 He happened to be one of the 3:00-pacesetters. He told me with a large smile and very seriously that despite the decision for the start or no start of the race, that I should NOT be running. This is when I told them I came from Sweden. Lots of laughs followed. Was given hot water with sugar in it. The ambulance guys came and concluded that it was fine for me to go. Hypothermia was definitely the diagnose they had too. But I had apparently more colour by then.

10:00am – Took a while. Saw pictures of the floods and rain out there. The busses stuck in 1.5m water, the cars filled with water under tunnel… OK. No race then. The runner-policeman offered kindly to bring me home. I walked back to the wardrobe to get my bag. The rain was less heavy, but still. Got in the car after thanking warmly all the police people who took care of me. Got back home, thanking Paco the police runner and direction my room. Off with the soaking wet clothes and direction hot shower for a while. After that, right under the cover to get warmth back in the whole body.

1:10pm – Got enough watching movies on my laptop, so got up and out for a bit of food. No more rain. And no restaurant opening serving before 1:30pm. Ended at Burger King with a Whopper Jr meal with Coke. Back home and rested for a while more.

3:40pm – real bored of watching movies and laying in my bed, I changed to running gear. Had come to run a training race and the weather made it cancelled. It would not really stop me from running at all. OK, I thought that the hypothermia-part was not really fun but I considered I was good enough to run. Decided to get the first half of the race route and see after that how it was. Took 2 gels and 7 dextrosol with me. Ate a powerbar green apple gel right before leaving. Not the best prep for a run to have a burger in the stomach less than 2 hours before, but I was not racing… Ran easy to km1 of the race and then followed the route as planned. Of course running on the sidewalks. Not many cars nor people out there. The tunnel of km3 was empty of water by then. Down to the seaside and km5 and then turn left to run up towards the Passeo Parque. All fine. Felt that the legs were in a good mood. No check done on the watch. Just hearing the buzz of each km. Turned right to continue along the coast line towards km15. Not as flat as I expected. Not hilly neither! But those fake slow uphill it was. And running on the pavement with those decorative stones, half-slippery…Nope, nothing optimal. Music in the ear. All fine. Took 2 dextrosol at km10 and just continued. Made a bad calculation before km15 and continued instead of turning left, which made me run slightly longer and do a U-turn. No problem. A bit unsure of which road to take though, but I think I followed the correct road. Could definitely feel the light and nice downhill. Tried to run on the street as no car/bus were coming from the opposite direction. Reaching km20 and taking a gel (Melon). All fine. No water, but those ones felt ok with only in the mouth and extra saliva. Probably better WITH water, but had none. Got nice and easy to halfway in 1:38. Happy.

Continued towards the Passeo Parque, and made a quick pitstop in the portapotty still there from the expected morning race. BY then I had been running 22.6km (ie 500m more than the race route, kind of). Took a quick body check and it felt all fine. Therefore headed towards km26 which was back along the sea side. All fine apart from running on the those sidewalk which started to get on my knees. The left knee cap started to complain a bit around 26km, but I continued. Dexstrosol taken every km until km30. Reaching the track close to the stadium Palacio de Deportes, the grind was opened, the lights were off and the skies grey. I went inside and ran around as we would have done during the race. Well, I ran the full lap as only one grind was opened. During the race we would have came inside the track at one entrance, run 300m (?) and then out in the second entrance. The track was slippery like crazy and my pace slowed down very much as I did not want to fall. Had met a few runners along the way who apparently did the same as me. Nice to get some smiles and cheering from time to time. Because by km30 it was almost pitch black. I was tired of not knowing where to go. And my left kneecap was very painful. Well…not while running, but each time I stopped to check the map for the race route and then started again, it complained. Stubbornness being apparently the word of the day, I continued to run along avenida Vasquez, knowing it was not fully as the race route, but at least I would get to Avenida de Juan XXIII which I knew and then get to km36 which I already knew well. Hurt my left ankle when going down a pavement without seeing it. Continued to run. Felt a bit desperate to get somewhere I would recognize. Reached Avenida de Juan XXIII but missed a turn and got to another parallel street to Avenida de Andalucia. Kept my tears in my eyes, but I really did not want to continue running. I give up. I ran long enough. This is a stupid training after all…and finally I saw El Corte Inglès, which was my reference point for km36. Yoooohooo! Renewed strengths and actually very happy, I prepared myself to take my third gel… which was nowhere to be found. Remembering that I had actually taken only TWO gels and not three. Well, ok. Let’s continue without extra energy then! This part was very tricky while getting close to the football stadium La Rosaleda as there was literally NO street light on at all… Meaning I could not see the pavement and running on the street was out of question really. Had taken off my tshirt since a couple of km and it felt nice under the drizzling rain. Very careful. Light steps. Got around the stadium, over the bridge and as usual for reaching the final 2km of any race it just felt like even more strengths were to be found. Noted that I had passed the 3 hours, but quickly calculated that I should be able to run this whole thing under 3:20. Started to accelerate slowly but surely. Skipped the left turn at km39.5 in order to avoid running in the city center with all the tourists and probably very slippery streets and not much lights. Decided to do the final 2km along the river. Down once and then it was a bit missing so I ran up again and across the river, loosing a bit of pace (for not falling on the slippery pavement) and then full speed down to the next bridge. And then up again along the other side of the river. Cannot explain the happiness and relief to press the STOP button on the watch when reaching 42.2km. Could not look at the time. Was just happy. And I looked… 3:18:30! Yiiiiihooooo! And not even tired! Even happier when noting the final km being in 4:19 🙂 Jogged home the final part. And that was it. One marathon done during training. Of course the hoard of runners was missing around me. Even greater achievement I thought!

I did miss not crossing the finish line though…

**********

Weather: 13.9°C, Cloudy+drizzle, Feels like 13.9°C, 3 kph WNW wind, 94% humidity. Nice in the air. Little drizzle during km5-8 and 25-28. Otherwise all fine. Pitch black after km30

Food: > before: chia seeds with green mix and banana, with Gatorade Lemon + white bread with honey (5:30am)

> before (2): whopper Jr meal (w/fries and coke) @1:30pm (!). Right before: powerbar gel green apple+1dl water.

> right after: banana+water+Gatorade blue

> During: Aptonia gel melon @km20, Aptonia gel Salted butter @km30. Dextrosol: 2 at km10 and 1 @km15 or so and then at km23-24-26-35.

Gear: SOC army blue shorts, SOC SWE sport bra, Midnattsloppet blue, SOC compression socks yellow (first outing…). Shoes were out of this world, once again and despite being the third day in a row running in them…

Shoes: ADIDAS Adizero Boston Boost 5 TSF Pink/White (Fasty) 12/ setting to a decent level of low effort. During the first half it felt that I was just doing a morning run on light legs. Great feeling. The second part after km22.6 was a bit more scattered (after km30) due to several quick stops for checking the road until km36. After that, all fine. And happy to finish.

NOTE: Not too bad for a training and not a race!

NOTE: First time I ran that long during training. Not surprised (ok, yes a bit) but I had this in mind since a while to run the marathon distance during training but never did (because it would mean having to rest a full week afterwards…). Not only the distance, but running it alone was the strength of the day!

NOTE: left kneecap was just out of its mind after km30: I should have probably stopped right there and taken a bus, but stubbornness being my second name on this particular Sunday, I just continued running. Very rewarding to reach km36 and being able to forget the kneecap and get along until the end. And being reminded of this stupidity after stopping the run and having a very tired kneecap…

NOTE: the body itself felt all fine. For sure the hypothermia from the morning was probably not something I should have totally ignored, but it worked well running in the afternoon.

NOTE: No warmup. No check on the watch. Nobody to run with. Yap. The loneliness of the long-distance runner was fully there… Got beautiful sights along the coast line while running towards km25 and that was worth it, really!

NOTE: Energy/Refuelling: OK, this was probably really bad handled. Eating garbage food a bit before the run, when I am so careful before running a race… Surprisingly it worked out well. During the run it would have been good however to have some liquid like water or sport drink. Felt a bit thirsty after halfway. But energy levels were not feeling low. Could have been good with an extra gel at the end.

NOTE: Post-marathon (distance) recovery to be taken seriously. Despite having the body not feeling at all like having run that much, the knee cap is not in good shape. Having searched everywhere I am still back on probably having hurt it on something during Tuesday and that it was not getting better with such a long run. A week of rest should make it feel better. Hoping so… Day after? Massage at a friend of my host. Friend happening to be a triathlete, so got tips for the kneecap. Body feeling fine (apart from the kneecap). A good way to finish the running season! Even though I miss this finish line…

*****
Conclusion: running a marathon during training rocks!


Race Report – Amsterdam Marathon – 2016/10/16

happy-soon-finish-2

Happy and soon finishing

Planned: 2:57/58, definitely sub3. Second target top 20, third goal top30…

Actual:……2:59:56. 22nd all women, 6th age category, 2nd Swedish woman, 488 out of total 12,182 finishers. Ok-result but not fully satisfied as missing sub3 in gun time by 13 seconds and had a too relaxed 5km before reaching 40km-mark and waking up for final 2.2km sprint to the Olympic stadium. Still, it is another sub3 and that cannot be ignored…

Race Results:
place (M/W) 22
place (age) 6

Total 488 (out of 12,182)
age/grade: 79.9% (2016 Ferrara 78.2% / 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 (gun) 02:59:56
time total (brutto) 03:00:13
average pace: 4:16min/km

Official splits:

Name Time Time (split) Pace min/km
5 km 0:20:57 20:57 04:11 min/km
10 km 0:41:37 20:40 04:08 min/km
15 km 1:02:26 20:49 04:10 min/km
20 km 1:23:51 21:25 04:17 min/km
21.1 km 1:28:28 04:37 04:13 min/km
25 km 1:45:08 16:40 (21:17) 04:16 min/km
30 km 2:06:56 21:48 04:22 min/km
35 km 2:28:40 21:44 04:21 min/km
40 km 2:50:34 21:57 04:23 min/km
42.2 km (Finish) 2:59:56 09:22 04:16 min/km

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

M Day-5 

Carb depletion day 1. Had eaten slightly less carbs for past two days. Feeling almost the irritability growing during those days…(or maybe I am always irritable…). As final quality run, I did an interval run with former colleague, run which turned out to be pretty bad for the self-confidence. Would have probably interrupted the run if I had been alone. Wind most of the time, tired, missing my carbs (yeah, let’s blame it on the carbs!). Nope. Rubbish and sluggish feeling. Disappointed at myself for not being stronger. Coach commented it could be the body tired from the last half-marathon run 1.5 week before. Maybe.

M Day -4 

Morning run at 5am and 6°C in a pitch black city still sleeping. Good start of the day and perfect to forget the rubbish run of the evening before. Nice easy and light feeling. Few 200m accelerations at the end got the legs very happy. Slight “electric chock” feeling in the left calf and foot made me a bit worried as it happened as well during the last interval the day before. Continuing cab depletion. Work all day. Massage pre-race in the evening with laser treatment on the Achilles heels and left calf. Got also taped light on the left calf to help and relief for this “electricity” feeling. Probably a nerve malfunctioning.

M Day-3 

Extra rest day. Never took rest on this day-3 prior to a marathon… Worked all day. Took a walk in the cold after working my day. Pack my suitcase and best of all… started carboloading!!! Noted everything single little piece of food I ate today in order to check (afterwards) how much energy I am actually taking. Body feeling fine. Really want to run.

M Day-2

Travel day! Yeaaah…. For once had booked a flight mid-morning, i.e. could sleep as normal and not wake up before the sun and birds to get to the airport. Light breakfast before leaving home and then toasted ciabatta with ham to complete this at the airport. Slept most of the flight. Well-arrived in Amsterdam, long queue to get my train ticket, 30 minutes later I had found my place in Rembrandtpark. Dropped my bags and took the bike my host let me borrow to get to the expo. Got my BIB, met a Swede “Anders” who hope for sub3 too. Waited a while without seeing Henrik D, went through the expo and cycled back home via the Olympic stadium (unfortunately closed for this day as preparing for the race). Changed gear, bike back to km1 of the race, left the bike, ran 10km easy on the race route and then back home again, with a stop at an Italian deli for a large portion of tagliatelle Bolognese to-go. First real meal since the ciabatta of this morning… Had eaten many bananas and drunk isostar during the day. And the day ended with nice chat with my host Rick before I went to bed around 10:30pm.  Less than 48hours to go…

M Day-1

Started the day with sleep-in until 8:30am… Had waken up a couple of times during the night, fearing I had slept too long and missed the start. Running gear on and hop! To the chilly and foggy Dutch morning. Ran easy 5km with a stop at Lidl for some bread and sweets. Finished the run under drizzling rain with a few 100m accelerations. Took 4 of them to get to a fast and decent pace…on slippery pavement… Late and large breakfast at 11:30am and then rest at home until late afternoon. Final meal taken around 3pm. The plan was to have only liquid stuff and easy-to-chew food for the rest of the day. Met Tricky with big brother Christer for their dinner at 5:45pm. Ordered pasta, but took it away with me as I did not feel like eating more. Especially not so “late”. Bike back home in the dark and without light in my bike. Finished to prepare my gear for the race. Review for the 123rd (???) time the route fir the race and when to take my gels. Felt good. Felt ready. Did not feel fast, but enough to make it under 3 without problem tomorow. In bed by 9:30pm. Checking the race route again. Sleeping around 11:40pm (awaken when roommates came around midnight and showered for a while)…and a final check to the race route…and ZzzzzZzzzz…

M DAY!!!!  

Finally!

Before the race 

00:15am – awaken by the roommates back home and showering. Back to sleep.

2:22am – nice time but still not for waking and going up. Back to sleep.

4:10am – opening the eyes and still not understanding that time was passing sooooo slowly. Back to sleep. 

5:25am – awaken before the clock rang. Good! A few minutes sleep-in. Did not want to get fully awaken. Walked quietly to the kitchen, blended some Isostar, ate my breakfast of champions (chia seeds, green mix, isostar. Had no white bread nor bagel, so took 2 slices of brown bread with honey. Glass of water). This should get me up to 200g carbs. All set. Back to bed…

6:00&6:30am – drank water and isostar. Half-asleep/awaken (probably more asleep..)

6:57am – did not want to wait any longer. Got up and headed to the shower.  Eye drops for skipping the crying eyes during the race, cream all-over the body (including anti-chaffing cream), fix the hair, set the Swedish flags tattoos (2 small ones on the left arm and a larger one on the right back shoulder). Hoping they are in the correct sense… Jumping in my racing outfit (SWE hotpants and singlets and ADIDAS Adizero Adios Boost Purple (Quicky)). Sunglasses on the top of the head as expected some sun (and some wind). Had 2 gels in a sock in the front of sports bra, 2 in the back of the sports bra and 1 in the little back pocket of my hotpants, with a full Dextrosol. Double-checking again my changing gear for after the race. Getting an extra long pants, a tshirt to throw before start and my running wind jacket. Ready?

08:15am – TIME TO GO! Of course the elevator is the slowest in the whole wide world this morning… Getting to the bike, the air outside is pretty nice. Sun shining, but a bit chilly. This time I found my way in the park without any problem. Reaching closer to Vondelpark and seeing more and more runners walking in the same direction. Parking my bike at the bus stop of “km1-of-the-race” and walking the rest to the stadium. Had thought of jogging a bit, but it is pretty much impossible. Getting to the bag drop area. Taking off my extra clothes apart from the old tshirt Dad gave me, leaving my bag after a quick chat with a Dutch guy telling me that if I made a great time in Rotterdam, I should expect a “best-ever” on this course. Into the stadium, getting myself directly in my starting corral (Yellow) and queuing for the loo….for 16 minutes!!! Good to be on time. Because the queue behind me is getting longer by the seconds passing! Thinking that peeing 30 minutes before start should be well enough. Back to the corral and out again to try to find Tricky in the corral behind. No success.

9:08am – Back to the Yellow corral. Which was for expected time 2:40 to 3:00…Eeeeeuuuh what? How can it be such a large range? It is like setting in the same start a Ferrari and a fast…Volvo (?). Anyway. After a nervous warmup jog, settling in the corral. Chatting a bit around. Saying hi to a Swede (not difficult to recognize with the Swedish outfit he has 🙂 ) Chatting in French, Swedish, English and even a little bit of Spanish. Just loving this moment. The music playing is not always the enthusiastic one you may expect, more likely to be for a nice evening bal or such… Laughing at it with French guys talking about “Bal-musette” 🙂 Not many women here, but the few I noticed look more Ferrari-like, than Volvo-like… Feeling a bit out of my league here (ok…feeling COMPLETELY out of my league!). Hearing a voice I recognize and getting a large smile from Kent M. Nice with a friendly known face. Ready to rock for a sub2:55-like 🙂 Have my pacebands set on my arm. Runners are getting closer to each other. Asking kindly to a French guy before me for having his anti-chaffing cream. Had put some before leaving home, but feel that it is better to be safe than sorry and have some more under the arm pits and the inside of the thighs. Throwing my old tshirt away.

09:25am – presentation of the elite. Could not see our Swedish star (Louise Wiker) in the front corral, but with all those giant guys all around me, that’s understandable (we should have corral per height… the short people first, so we can see a bit better…).

09:28am – Countdown started since 09:00am just continued. Of course it is completely the wrong time to check my shoes as at the same time all the runners are walking forward. Loosing Kent there, but still seeing my French friends. Gels in place where they should be. Still having my little 3dl water bottle with 2.5dl Isostar lemon in it. Taking a glups and deciding to keep it with me for a little while…

09:29am – Everything seems soooo quiet (or is it just in my head?)…

THE RACE

First half

09:30am – BAAAAM! Well, actually, a bit unsure I heard it. A guy on the left did make a noise slightly before the start was given and then could feel the runners moving forward. Same tactic as in Lyon and keeping my elbows a bit on the side. Passing the mat and pressing start on my watch. Had heard about the sluggish start in the stadium and indeed. It just feels like I am walking. Already hearing impatient runners pushing a bit, but I feel fine. Seeing Kent disappearing. We run about 150m in the stadium before leaving it. Careful on the pavement out there. Seeing people cheering already. I feel like a snail would have left the stadium faster than I actually did. Don’t want to check my pace as I might scream if I see how slow I probably am… And anyway, it is better to wait until the first km. Passing under the “500m left” sign and want to check a bit my time anyway. Juuuuuust a little pick…. and good for me! The watch is indicating a distance run of 0.00… and time 0.00… What the….?!?!? Starting it again by pressing start-button. OMG… I am not happy. Can we start this all-over again? Am I in a stupid dream telling me NOT to do that in real life?!?!? Hearing Henrik D’s voice, a good luck and he is passing me on the left. I feel so puzzled for a bit that my legs just run on the habit, rather than for the race. Seeing Kent M on my right. What? He should be far away already. We reach km1. Kent is NOT happy neither with this start. The worse he has had ever. All I want to know is what my pace is. Where is km1-sign? Are we there yet? Passing my bike. No km1-sign I see. Be careful on the road with the tram rails. Running like in a dream or something. Not really in the race at all. Kent is gone. No need to follow him. I have no clue how fast or slow I am. Entering VondelPark and hearing a cheering in Swedish. A guy in black tri-outfit and a cap is talking to me. Still I feel like on a cloud. He asks me what will be my finish time and I hear myself answering “under 3”. Good, we can run together he adds. He starts to talk a lot. Asking if I have run under 3 before. Passing km2, pressing my lap button. OK. At least from now on, I am set for every km. Getting close to km3 and seeing Christer-the-big-brother. Large smile back. A little wave with the hand. And this is soon the end of the park already. Km3 has disappeared in 4:14. The Swedish guy said we were exactly on 4:10-tempo at the entrance of the park. OK. Have to wait until we reach km5 to see exactly how much time difference my watch has to the gun time and take that as reference. Getting to km4 without much trouble. It is actually right under the Rikjsmuseum. Difficult to see as it feels a bit dark there, but not feeling the pushing and crowdedness that people had talked about. When leaving this little path on the other side, THERE you can talk about crowdy! Cheering people on both side and then a runner with a wheelchair with another participant starts shouting to all to move along. Indeed he is fast and being on his way will probably end badly. Passing him on the left and then we turn right and then left and then after a short stretch, left again. Right along the river. Still no clue about my pace. I am just running. I feel however that my bladder is not just functioning, as I really feel like stopping for peeing… Not a chance, not after less than…42,2km! Not taking long before…yappp… the glamour and joy of running….and having a bladder not cooperating at all… Doesn’t really matter… it feels it’s too late anyway. Reaching km5 right after 21minutes on the large clock. OK. Meaning my watch has approximately 3 minutes difference with gun time and that I am right under 2:58-finish time. Looking good! Drinking the little bottle with Isostar and throwing it away. Brilliant plan! So I skip the first water-station! The Swedish guy (“Jonas”) is from Gothenburg and talks a lot. OK, he might not talk a lot, but while I ran, feeling pretty wet (and that ain’t funny), counting down the km to the finish line, the last thing I want is to be talked to. Cannot see the km6, but my running mate tells that we are a bit fast but that’s ok. We meet the fast elites coming back on the other side, turn right and then left and then little bump and left again. Passing a couple of guys and left and we are back to the same road again, seeing a flow of runners coming the other way around. We are good. Running is flowing fine. I feel completely wet and actually I don’t care. Continue to run and hearing the advice that I should alternate sport drink and water at every second water station, so that the stomach handles it better. I actually want to tell him to shut up, but it feels pretty rude to do so. So I do it in my head. I know he probably means well, but I don’t want to start talking about my marathon resumé because I never do and that will not do any good/bad and that’s it. Keeping my mouth shut. Or probably smile. Have turned on a long(er) stretch now. Pretty stable flow of runners all around. Got asked if I am still ok. Answering yes. This was nice asking. Hearing the watch buzz every km or so. Well.. Slightly before every km-mark. Which makes me soon realize that if my watch is always 10-15m before the km-mark and ends at 42.2km, well… the real distance would be way longer… Getting to km10 even before the sign as the comments have already started (or have they ever stopped?). That we are right on time if we do this or this. That we are good for under 2:58. I just want the calm in my head and seeing what the gun-time clock indicates. 41:xx… D*mn! I wanted to pass this one right under 41 minutes and I am off now: Sure, it is still under 2:58-end time, but above my plan. Jonas seems happy on the other side as we nailed the exact time he had thought about. Ok, then. Taking my green gel and a bit of water. Probably not enough though. But felt ok. A bit more running and then we turn back 180-degrees. Feeling like in Rotterdam where there was such a turn which felt completely unnecessary and really strangely placed on the race route. What I want now is to reach km14, see the river and hope for wind-free. What I was not expecting was the stone-paved street. What?!?!? Are we going to run on this? Recalling that someone had told me there was a short path with those. OK, stop whining and run. The sun is shining. More cheering before the right turn into the riverside road…which is still with those cement-plates-or-whatever-they-are… NOT liking it. I can feel that my knees, my feet, my hips are not liking this. And the road is not even plane. It is slightly bumping in the middle. I try to find the most optimal way to run, but whatever side I choose on the road, my hips feel like they are going to pop out or something. Have passed this km14, meaning that on the other side of the river it is km24! Yoohoo!… OK…Not helping at all…but the mind is at peace by remembering this clue. Jonas has disappeared by now. I think I recognize Henrik D slightly before me. Trying to catch up, but this first half is the “cruising” one. Meaning no rush. I want to pass all those guys in the last 10K, so let them run 🙂 I am hanging along a group and then another one and then passing guys who passed me aso. Feeling fine. Have taken 2 Dextrosol at km15. Those were some extras I had put in my sports bra with the gels, just in case. Have passed right above 1:02:xx at this gun-time-clock. Still ok. Still running. Around km17 we can see the fantastic elite men running on the other side. WHAT.A.SIGHT!! Even with the river between us we can see the easiness they have for running. This is just beautiful. We laugh with the couple of guys around me. Asking each other what we are doing here when it looks like the party is on the other side of the river 🙂 I like the sun on my face. What I like less (or not at all…) is the side wind, slightly in our face. Doesn’t matter, I think. Let it do what it wants. We’ll have it helping us on the other side of the river. Seeing a couple of lonely elite runners. And then the female elites. The tuning point bridge feels sooooo far away. I am even thinking that I am recalling wrong the map and that we might turn far far away from where we are. Km18 is passed. We hear some karaoke-music (?) from a little boat on the river, singing “It’s not unusual to be looooved by anyone”… Ooooook! Could we have some little more entertaining music, more drums, more whatever and less of this? At least runners around me are smiling at it! And here it comes… another one little bump… slightly up to the bridge to cross the river (yeaaaaah! It feels like a LOT of elevation gain…for too long… Leaving the guys passing me and getting their legs tired on the way up… and catching up on the way down (is that possible that there is WAY less elevation on the other side of the bridge?!?!?). Could already feel that the wind ain’t going to help on this side. Liking the “Go go ladies” and “Come on, you look good” cheerings. Liking less the plates on the road we are running on. Suck it up! I think. Stop complaining to yourself and get to this halfway under 1:29. I have lost my hope of getting close to 1:27. But under 1:29 ain’t gonna fly! Passing km20 under the time written on my armband! Yooohooo! I’m still in this race! 1:23:xx. Feeling strong. Counting that a 4minutes-run would get me to the halfway. Seeing all the other runners on the other side of the river makes me smile. Feels like a while ago I was there myself. Taking another green gel. Where is the water?!?!? The brain is getting clearer and realizing that the “4 minutes to go to halfway” is actually completely wrong. There was 1.1km to go, not 1km. And there is no chance I am fit enough to get down to this pace. I see the km21-sign. Feeling so happy. Passing under the arch for 21.1km. UNDER 1:29! Yiiiiihaaaa! I have made it. I am not tired. I am happy. And it’s sunny. Feeling a rush of adrenaline. Accelerating a bit. Only one half to go!
Second half
This surge of happiness had made me accelerating…I thought… but apparently I took it pretty easy after that. Getting closer to a group of guys and recognizing Henrik D there. Right when I am to start talking to him, I hear a “Heja Sverige!”. I answer thanks at the same time as Henrik D and turn to him to say with a smile that the cheering was for me 🙂 So, here we are after half way and three Swedes together. Few words exchange but I get along with the pace my legs have and let the guys behind. Catching up with two Italians who have a nice pace, I think. And they receive plenty of cheering as well, so it is good to run with them. Well, they don’t know I do. They are chatting about stuff, and my limited Italian knowledge together with my tired brain do not really let me comment. Just running. Noting right before passing under the bridge that they are actually on a “too-much-cruising” mode and I leave them behind. Continuing towards km25. Have taken 1 Dextrosol every km since km23. Running along the river is pretty nice and peaceful. Still feeling like on a cloud and not really in the race. Km25 is reached and as for the previous water-stations, I take a paper cup of water, a glups, throw the rest on the head and catch another cup to do the same. Catching as well one or two sponges. Feeling very good. Now what is left is 5km to the next meeting with Christer-the-big-brother. Good to cut the race in small pieces. Have thought about it at km14…one third done, two third to go! To reach km30 it is the simple “5km to go” with reference to where I train. And by km26 I was “at the roundabout close to home”. At km27 I had reached the big gardens. And so on. This part reminds me again of Rotterdam. Less people. We have turned to the right on the map and no longer are along the river. Just road and this lovely asphalt. Too quiet and peaceful and the pace is dropping. I know it and don’t do anything about it. It is under control. Then I see a friendly face I recognize… Christer! But??!?! What? Am I already at km30? And nope. He had made it to km28 for cheering for us and I am still to reach km30. After this meeting, I hang along with guys but often they are slowing down after a short while and I am to catch another guy or group. Not necessarily accelerating, but not really slowing down neither. Reaching km30 where I take another gel. Yellow. I am still on time for a good 2:58 finish. 15-20seconds off, but I feel fine. I know I am actually slow here, but the pacesetters of the 3:00 have not yet passed me. Have seen them and their balloons around km6/7 and since halfway, I should be 1 minute before them. Just have to keep it this way. Talking to a guy who I caught up with and indicating there were only 12km to go. Receiving a fade smile and he cannot keep up. 12km to go. That is nothing. That is less than an hour. That is a morning run. This is what I have trained for. Just a back and forth in Dubai. N.O.T.H.I.N.G! Run run run! Passing km32 and catching up with a French guy. He looks fine and he has a great pace. He looks a bit surprised to see a chick here, but we talk a little bit for a while. 10km to go. Quickly thinking of the pace. OK, 43-44minutes max. Otherwise it won’t work to be under 3 hours. Running in the houses-area reminds me once again about Rotterdam. Although here there is way less people cheering. But I don’t care. I have a mission and that is to make it to the finish line under 3 hours. Just thinking of it. Relaxing though when thinking of J’s words and not thinking of the time. Just enjoy. Well… I would probably enjoy WAY more if I knew what was my current pace. But the clock is still showing 3 minutes or so after the gun-clock. Close to km35 I take another Yellow gel. Missing to drink water, so I grab two sponges and press them in my mouth. Disgusting as it could be expected, but it does the trick. We are now turning left on the map. Got passed by a Swede who cheers for me (good idea this Swedish flag tattoo on the shoulder!) and tells me to hang along. He is going for 2:57 and indicated he had passed the 3:00-guys and has 3 minutes before them. Yap. But I have not. Welcoming very much the little downhill and under the bridge and the Swede with grey singlet disappear. Not like a rocket, but still…faster than me. We are back in the city. I know there is less than 7 ridiculous km to go. This is absolutely nothing. And still… a gal is passing me… NOOOOOO! Trying to hang along. This works. For a little while… until we run down under a little bridge and…I get passed… by another gal!!! Which actually look like the same age. DOUBLE-NOOOOO! Passing km36 and I hear this guy saying “what goes up must go down”… not understanding really as we have just gone DOWN and then UP… The two gals are right before me 15-20m ahead. For the next 2km. I am mistaking km36 with km38. I hope to see the entrance of Vondelpark, but it is only this stupid asphalted street which is in front of me. At least it is going slightly down. My legs are just running and I am no longer thinking. Preparing my final gel – red. Taking it when seeing the km38-sign. No water in sight. And this all-but-liquid gel in the mouth. Doesn’t matter. Have taken an extra Isostar gel in one of the water-station and hop. In the front of the sport bra. I can feel by now that this was a veryveryvery bad idea and will probably feel sorry when I get undressed and into the shower. But for now, focus is on the snake-like street bringing us – FINALLY! – to Vondelpark. I want to see km39. Trying to find Christer-the-big-brother, but honestly not really doing it. I just hold onto this feeling of passing-people-in-the-last-km-is-the-best-feeling-in-the-world. Km39 is passed. 3km to go. NOOOOOOTHING! But isn’t this km the longest of the race? Feeling like it! Seeing a bit ahead of me the Swedish guy I met in the start corral. The fast one Kent M introduced me too. I know there must be something wrong if he is here…as I am here too. And I am not THAT fast. But the brain ain’t thinking straight on this one. It just tells itself to accelerate to keep up with the fast Swede. Not looking good actually. So passing him and telling him to hang along with me. Less than 2km to go. I can feel he is following. Passing km40 exactly on the 3:00-finish time… I am disappointed. I am not happy. So I push a bit more. I talk to my Swedish runningmate, not really sure what words I am using, but it is probably as much for him as for me. Stupidly going to the water station before leaving Vondelpark. Grabbing a sponge. WHYYYYYY?!?!?! I don’t even need it! Cannot remember the name of my Swedish runner, but he is right next to me and that helps! I think I am smiling. Less than 2km. We will make it under 3:00. Running on the street with the tram railway feels trickier now. Hearing myself screaming/shouting at runners who have stopped running and walk now that they should keep their right. I don’t want to fall. Not now. Not ever. We get to the roundabout where I parked my bike. 1km to go. Cannot see km41-sign. I don’t care. I just run. Straight forward. Under the shadows of the trees. Turning right. Seeing the “500m left” sign. Seeing the clock ticking. Calculating that even in a good and fit shape I would not be running the 500m as fast as I have to right now to make it under 3hours. Sun in the eyes when running. Hearing my name from the speaker and the cheering. Yooohooo! I even wave! And turning right. Passing the “I AM AMSTERDAM”-sign. The stadium gate is there…Entering and getting passed by a guy. Pressing to another gear or whatever it is. There is less than 150m to go. Reaching the inside line of the track. Getting the sun in the eyes again. Seeing the signs counting down. Seeing the stupid clock ticking… and noooooO! 3:00:00….01….02… Feeling completely disappointed, but feeling that the legs are strangely still running. Why on earth are they doing that? The clock has passed the 3hours. Seeing 3:00:08…09… and then getting on the finish mat. Stopping the clock. I am deeply disappointed. And not even tired.

Official time received later: 2:59:56...

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

After the finish line

Stopped my watch. Looking around pretty puzzled and not happy. Runners all around showing signs of tiredness. I am bending a bit on my knees and then up again. Seeing Svend, my Swedish running mate. At least we made it together to the finish line. He even smiles as he said his watch shows under 3 hours. Yapp… But mine is showing a stupid 2:57:07 and I have no clue of my finish time. Apart from that it is above 3 hours. Soooo annoyed. Getting a cheering from a few runners, thanking for the run, asking how it went aso. I think I am smiling but the heart ain’t there really. I want to leave the arena and go home.  We walk together to the exit of the stadium, receiving our medal, taking pictures. Outside the stadium waits a bit of food and drink. Getting an Isostar Orange and a banana. Final chat and hug to Svend. He said he felt pretty bad and that was good I passed him and we finished together. Yapp. For this I found it was a fun end. But nothing else. Cannot understand how I could  not make it to under 3 hours when the pacesetters of 3:00 have not passed me. Walking to get my bag. Then to medal engraving. As I had planned and trained for a great finish time, I did plan for an engraving. It feels like a waste of money. Giving my medal and waiting a few minutes on the other side of the tent. Sun is shining. I am probably the only unhappy here. Hearing my name and getting my medal… seeing surprised a 2… and then a 59… and does not really matter what is after. I burst into tears and scream. Getting a hug from a runner close to me. Feeling so d*mn happy. Standing here. Legs still fine. No pain in the body. And a sub3 engraved on my medal. The sun may continue to shine! Drinking the isostar bottle, asking for a photo and then taking off my hotpants and singlet to get into dry clothes. Not really comfy with sweaty underwear, but better this than getting cold and sick. I decide to skip the massage and walk back to my bike. Encouraging the runners on the way to the stadium. Re-assuring them that there is less than a km to go. Bike still there. Cycling easy under the sun back home. Shower. Clean clothes on (carefully as I got burn marks on the chest “as expected” and on the inner-thighs… as it apparently always happen with this hotpant). A bit of food (the pasta from the day before, topped with an egg and 3dl isostar taste like a Queen’s meal!) and rested under the cover with legs up to rest.

After a bit of resting, bike to Vondelpark to meet with Tricky and big Brother-Christer. Took a bit longer as the afternoon race is still going on in the park. Dropping my bike at their hotel and we walk to the bar I found with “ribs at while” menu. Suiting pretty well to celebrate: ribs with French fries and a large coke. Lots of talking. A bit of walking to a coffee place for dessert (mine is a chocolate muffin with chocolate topping and hot chocolate for drinking…) and then enjoying the darkness falling down on the city while talking out ourselves about the race. Cycling back home and throwing everything in my suitcase. A bit of chatting with my host and his mate. And then in bed. Could not fall asleep before midnight, but it does not matter.

A good day in the Venice of the North…and almost making it for the goals set… 

 

**********

Weather: 10.0°C, Sunny, Feels like 7.8°C, 14 kph SE wind, 87% humidity. A bit chilly at start, but as soon as getting the legs running, it felt nice and perfect for running. Estimating the average temperature throughout the race to be 13-14°C. Windy along the Amsel. Sunny.

Food:
> before: chia porridge with green mix and banana, with Isostar Lemon + 2 slices brown bread with honey (5:30am)

> right after: banana+water+Isostar orange

> 3 hours after: ribs party 🙂

> During: isostar in my little bottle @km5, green gel @km10 & 20, yellow gels at km30&35, red gel at km38 (at the water stations). Dextrosol: 2 at km15 and 1 every km or so at km23-24-26-27-28. Full Dextrosol pack eaten…

Gear: ADIDAS SWE outfit (hotpants & sports bra), Casal Iconic black Sports bra MIK, sunglasses, shoes to perform on the feet! Just so great. Forgetting almost they are on. Feels like flying, like not touching the ground…

=> Perfect outfit? Could have done without the singlet. It was convenient when it was a bit windy to have it on the stomach, but mostly felt a bit “warm”. The hotpants looks good, but were annoying again and despite anti-chaffing cream, they gave me burn-marks on the thighs and in the lower back. And rubbing slight under the belly-bottom. Have to find new ones. Looking as good… Carrying the gels was very poorly achieved once more…

14/ Decent 13/14 for the first half. Felt in control and good. Would have been even better without the bladder incident… After the half-point it was too comfortable and there was no real possibility to get along with runners at the pace which have been good until the end. Settling into a comfortable pace made the second half actually feeling “easier” than the first one. Thought about Berlin 3:03 and cannot feel like today was harder or even the same effort level. Felt well and controlled. A deep around km35-40. Not enough water drinking? Did not feel dehydrated. Could not really push as much as I wanted from km40 to the end, but got the pace up to the end. And still missing the 3:00…

 

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

SUMMARY: Had looked forward to this race. Had limited the number of longer races (read: marathons…) after Ferrara in march in order to focus on this one. Had done the training accordingly. Had not gone down in time for the half-marathons races as I wanted, but was satisfied enough to feel like having back a good level kind-of “2014-like”. Felt fit. The race was nice. The route was perfectly fitting me (apart from the stupid plates along the road). The wind? I can even forgive this one, as it was nothing compared to training back home or in other races (including Rotterdam). Can at least feel satisfied to finish in this time without major or minor pains. The body felt like handling the pace pretty happily. Maybe a bit too comfortable… The preps the days prior to the race felt all fine (apart from the intervals session). All was set for a good race. Apart from the watch not starting properly. Focus was there, the legs were there, the head was there. Feels good to be in the sub3-club….so good that you wish to get to a starting line very soon again!

 

(Loads of thanks for support and cheering during the preparation weeks and months. Tricky to prepare with so many changes happening in the past four months, but the “every-second-weekend-race” since August did provide a good base for this race  Missing top20 is a pity, still being in top25 is great. 3rd sub3 and 3rd best marathon time ever. OK…probably there is some stuff to be celebrated here 

Thanks to all the runners who cheered (more or less) during the race. To the Swedish guys along the route. To the French ones and the Italians too. To all those who gave a smile or encouragement when I was passing. To the people cheering along the road. Special thanks to Christer-the-big-brother for cheering along the course and taking pics. For you too, special people who are counting very much and always giving supporting words or tips when needed. A special thought to Z who would have celebrated her birthday this same day. This sub3 is for you!

Special thanks to my little ones left at home and being the best-ever crew one can wish for. For their faith in me and their constant words of encouragements. Receiving a smiling “I’m proud of you” is worth all the medal (and sub3) in the world!

The return to Sweden was -as often- done under grey skies and cold(er) temperatures. Sunshine? Nope. Rain on the other side… Time for a well-deserved rest now. The body felt indecently fit after this race. Good sign? New adventures already in mind… THANKS!

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

A few “after-race thoughts”

NOTE: Let’s start with this body of mine. Which did not feel tired at all after passing the finish line. Cannot really comprehend this. After shorter races, yes I know. I don’t push enough to get tired. But here we are talking 42.2km. A bit of pain should be felt somewhere. Tired? Yes. I am no robot! But pain, nope. Not even the Achille’s.  The calve behave properly, the bum/thigh muscles were just as fine and the hips never screamed. OK…listing all this makes me think that there must be something wrong somewhere… Won’t complain. Can be a bit of luck. Let’s see how the next sub3 ends… 🙂

NOTE: Warmup? What’s that? Nothing at all this time. The nervous jog was not enough to warm me from the chilly temperature. OK. The 500m for start did act as warm-up probably…hi hi hi… Anyway, the body could settle in a proper pace around km1.5 or 2. Would have been good to know how the first 500m went…

NOTE:…which brings me to the “watch incident”. HOW CAN THIS HAPPEN?!?! Still don’t know how it turned itself into pause. Did I push twice? Did I start and then with people around it pushed on stop? Don’t know. But will definitely be extra careful in the next few races…

NOTE: Energy/refuelling during the race? This I am very satisfied. Have to do some calculations, might have taken too much, but never felt any deep. The little bottle in the hand until km5 worked as a charm. The gels were planned for 20-30-35-38/40 and taken at 10-20-30-35-38. Had an extra one just-in-case and took one isostar just-in-case-just-in-case  A full Dextrosol pack went down and it worked fine. Particularly happy not to have had any stomach cramp. Never felt thirsty. Did take liiiittle water at every water station (read: a glups max!). Satisfied for this part.

NOTE: Beetroot loading? Tested this time as well. Honestly? Don’t know what it does. Have run faster races without. And as usual, cannot know how it would have gone without…

NOTE: then…gels in the sport-bra, on the back? Worked well. Sitting pretty tight and not moving around, which means no chaffing. Cutting the ventilation expected in the back of the sports bra however…

NOTE: …and gels in the sport-bra, in the front? As usual…. I know, I know… did not work this time neither…Suspecting however that it worked fine until I took the extra one (isostar) as this one was not in the little sock…

NOTE: Post-marathon recovery on-going and working well. Felt a bit stiff when sitting a bit long or when going up from the bed. But nothing different from during training  Day after? The body felt all fine. Massage on M day + 1 and M day +2 are really worth it. Just a few more days without running and that will be it as…

new adventures will soon to come…

 

 


Race Report – Run In Lyon half marathon 2016/10/02

ril2016-arrival2

Final turn towards the finish line…

Planned: sub90 definitely – had set the mind on 1:27 and podium – second place. Training-race.

Actual: 1:27:14 – PR on the route by 2min 47 second AND new second best time ever on a half-marathon! 12 seconds faster than Copenhagen two weeks before! Strong and very stable paced first half with a mid 40s 10K, let it roll for the next 5-6km, tricky run in a close-to-2km-tunnel, understanding I was placed 4th since a while, acceleration at the end and that was it! Very satisfied with the race, the place and the time! No need to run faster, training is training! This one was more than good-enough…and the feeling throughout the race was way better/stronger than last year!

Place: 4 – all women, 2 – age category & 284 out of 11,235 finishers

Splits (non official – from Garmin)

Split

Time

Diff Min/km Total sex cat
5km 00:20:02 20:02 04:01

3

1

10km 00:40:41* 20:39 04:08

4

2

halfway 00:42:46
15km 01:01:29 20:48 04:10

4

2

20km 01:22:48 21:19 04:16

4

2

Finish 01:27:14* 04:29 04:05

284

4

2

*official time

Interestingly the 5K was passed 30 seconds slower than Copenhagen, the 10K 33sec slower and the 15km 1second slower. The 20K turned 7 seconds faster and at the end got 12 seconds total on a route which was definitely not fast and flat as Copenhagen!

Totals

Place 4
Place (age) 2
Place (total) 284
Time total 01:27:14
Average pace 04.08min/km

In short: yiiiipppiiiiie again! Another sub90!!! Felt very stable paced for the first half, got cruising on the second one. Strong finish. And a NEW second best time on a half-marathon (ya ya ya… still third best time ever when counting the first half of Rotterdam marathon… working on it!)

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

BEFORE THE RACE

The day before…

Pretty early up after a nice good night’s sleep. Final check on the racing gear, locked the suitcase and after light breakfast (chia seeds & green mix), a bit early so I decided to take another tram to the train station… and it took the time to reach the ground floor for noticing I had forgotten my passport!!! Pressing nervously the button to get up again, key in the door, ran to get the precious passport and out and down again. Had now to rush for getting the tram I wanted. Calmer feeling in the tram. Walked to the bus station. All fine. Would even take an earlier bus than planned. Airport check-in worked fine. Still don’t understanding why it takes sooo long time to drop the bags when having checked-in online… Long queue for the passports check and then just had to mix my sport drink and get to the plane. Easy first plane ravel (I slept most of it). Then had to run in Bryssels to get my connection, but it worked fine eventually. Sat in the second plane reading most of it on “how to crack the marathon code”. Arrival in Lyon went smoothly and after a huge hug I noted the awfully boring weather outside. Rain. Did not matter much actually as the race was the day after… Quick drive home to drop the suitcase and jumping into running gear and then direction Lyon – Place Bellecour for picking up my BIB. Not the same sunny weather as last year. Light drizzle making the red ground very disgusting to walk on. Getting my BIB, noting that I am missing the “Renault Trucks 100ans” inscription 😦 Heading to the information for getting me into the Préférentiel start-group. And then a bit of walking around after picking up my race tshirt. Buying Tiger balm and new brand of gels. Then back in the car and driven/dropped off on the race course at about 5km-mark. Music in the ears and hop! Ran easy the next km as I wanted to check this crazy evil hill around km9 which I really did not like last year. Measured it now and it was “only” 250m stupid uphill. All fine! Passed the bridge and got picked up by my best ever crew a km later. Good feeling on this day before the race. Now was left to get a bit of food (pasta and minced meet), drink a bit of orange juice and prepare my racing gear for the day after. OK. All fine. Late snack with toasted white bread and honey and tea. And got form my best-ever crew 4 bottles of Gatorade! In bed around 9pm. Then sleep.

Race day

Waking up at midnight, 2am and then 4am… Feels like a pattern, right?! Felt well-rested anyway. Took a light breakfast of chia seeds, green mix and Gatorade and got back to sleep for a little longer. 5:30am and it was time to get showered and set those running gear of mine (SOC SWE hotpants and sports bra and as previous race the superfast ADIDAS Adizero Adios Boost – Purple (Quicky). Set my two small Swedish flags tattoos on the left arm and that was it! Perfect colouring added the nails and the racing gear. Double-checked my bag with changing clothes, added my BIB to my gear. And that was it! Ready to shine (or something like that…)

6:15am – All in the car to reach the city. Still pitch black out there, refreshing air due to the night rain, but quite fine temperatures with 13ºC. Got stopped by the police when reaching Place Bellecour as it was no longer possible to drive closer. Got dropped off and with half of my best-ever crew I walked slowly to the meeting place. Headed to the Renault Trucks tent, where kind helpers were already very much working their butt off for welcoming the wave of runners who would soon enough arrive. Best-ever crew was growing instantly! 🙂 Met with friends and former colleagues. Tried to find one or two who would be running at similar pace than the one I was planning, so that it would be easier/funnier to run. Maybe? Got indicated that a marathoner Paul would be passing the half in 1:27. Perfect! Got introduced and agreed to meet in the start corral. Olivier A, my pacesetter from last year, was unfortunately injured and would be “only” running the 10K this year. Great.

7:40am – Time to get warmed up. Final hugs to my best-ever crew, pictures while freezing a bit and started to jog easily to the start. This time I had an old tshirt from Dad on me, in order to limit the “freezing-to-death” feeling. Found my corral, continued running a bit along the race course, quick pitstop, and then back on the footbridge. Two additional nervous pitstops before getting inside my corral.

08:15am – Noted 3 other gals already there. Found Paul there as well I his plastic bag 🙂 Quick chat about the race. “Do your own race” was the advice and that he would be starting easy. Perfect! This is exactly what I generally do not do! Good to follow someone then. Met then the lady who won last year. She was not pushing too much today as she was heading to NY marathon a few weeks later. Great! Like what I did last year! Saw as well an elite-chick in the corral in front of us. OK…here go the two first places, I thought. Just have to keep track on aaaaaall the other gals!

08:17am – A bit of talking from the speaker. Got an official commenting the fact that there are 50% (?) of the runners being female…and his next comment being “wonder who is keeping an eye on our children then?”…. Not very well appreciated comment by the runners (and I am surrounded by 99% of male runners…Great with supporting guys!). The funny speaker makes then all of us runners going down in order to do the biggest wave ever. Looks like the elites are not understanding the jokes said in French as they are looking at each others a bit puzzled. Finally even they get on their knees to do the wave! Supercool!!! Aaaaaaand woooow! Real fun.

08:27am – Off with the old tshirt. Got a kind guy throwing it away for me. No freezing feeling with all the runners in pack and so closed to each other. Final check to the watch while walking slowly to the start mat…

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

THE RACE

08:30am – Aaaaaand BAM! Start is given. This time I think I heard it (not too sure). Have wrongly appreciated the distance to the mat and I press the start-button at the “BAM” and not when I pass the mat. Not mattering much as I estimate being 1-2seconds after. No real push. Following the lady-winner-from-last-year as she makes her way in the wave of guys. Good technique, running with the elbow a bit on the side for having a bit of space and avoiding people to come and push too close to her. Got a smile from Paul and we have started. I have music in my head and that feels good (I mean really “in my head” as I have no mp3 with me). Easy funny run towards the little bridge. We probably look like cows going finally to the other side of the field where the grass is greener 🙂 Carefully running up and then up the pavement. We have already good place among the runners. Careful still along the bridge for not falling and down on the other side. Easy-peasy-that’s-so-funny! 🙂 Having Paul slightly before me looking back from time to time. I feel the tempo is not crazy fast as in Copenhagen, but doubting seriously it is slow as I thought it would be. Daring a look at my watch when passing km1 and seeing a 3:56-tempo… Eeeeeeeuuuuh…what? This ain’t easy start. OK, we still have time to slow down. We WILL eventually slow down. Right? Passed on the left and right by (too) enthusiastic runners and on the slope on the side of the first bridge, I hear the cheering of Mum, closely followed by a few cool runners who cheer for me on my name after hearing her 🙂 Best of luck to you too! Passing Dad on the right and more cheering all around. All good and fine. Passing km2 a bit slower, but still at 4min-tempo. Paul is a bit more before me and I decide to skip following him as it would mean running faster than I planned. And I want my 87 minutes (blank or not!). Running along the river looking like a snake is once again an experience. Pretty calm and empty of people, the next 2km are just kilometers to run and that’s it. Avoiding the fall on the pavement, and the railways. Avoiding the runners who still try to pass on the left, the right and why not, just putting themselves right before me and slowing down afterwards… you name it! Could see the long line of runners along the river and the first fast ones far far away already! Sun shining out there. Quite enjoyable. Got to the little down-under-the-bridge-and-up-after-that. This is what is killing one’s tempo. Those small ups&downs on the road. Finally reaching km5. Recognizing from the day before where I had been left and then ran all the way to the bridge. Felt in well-known territory and that felt nice. Nothing really happening there. Apart from a tall runner passing me and me passing him and him passing me again and so on. Until we reached km8 with Île Barbe on the right and where I noticed that this guy had no clue I was existing apparently! He had headset on and probably loud music (ok, this one is for free…). But I got really angry when he ran on my right and on the little way up with the island on the right he just cut down in front of me and place himself there. NOT A CHANCE! The road was wide open, no car and seriously there was way enough place for all. So he got a loud “HELLO THERE! WATCH OUT!” from little-me and from this moment, I did not get bothered any more. Down the little slope and more run run run. And here it came…the little nasty-evil hill around km9. Well… it arrived, and disappeared. I felt way stronger and fitter than last year on this one. Last year I needed all the cheering from Olivier A for getting to the top (and no I was not going to walk then, but would have probably slowed down quite a bit). This year was not such year. I even took the final 50-60m on the top of the toes. Feeling strong, knowing that after the uphill…comes the downhill. Which I took very controlled actually. Took a first Dextrosol there (more for training in how and when taking extra energy than because it was needed) Happy to have gotten a few places there, we continued along the river to soon reach km10 and the little bridge Paul Bocuse. Clocking my 10K under 41 minutes. That was more than good enough. And hop! Bridge and then downhill. Got kind cheering from both the guys I passed and the very few passing me. Took another dextrosol at the water station after the bridge with a little (not enough) water and that was it. Half was done and half was to go!

 

Everything seemed to go as planned. No rush, Just happy to run. The stable pace from the first half continue a bit, feeling that I just had to roll easy-peasy the next 6km to the tunnel. Which I did. I think. Met a older marathoner around km11. He asked me what I was running and answered the half. He quickly calculate and cheered a bit telling at this pace that was a sub90 guaranteed. I ran along with him for a while. Got a little deep around km13, focus was not 100% by then. Took a Dextrosol and calculated that I was going to miss my plan for reaching km15 (under 62 minutes). Which made me a bit sad. Well, still a bit under 90 minutes, but not in the 87-range. Which I really really wanted. I reached another km-sign and could not really read it. Did not want to check my watch neither. I was so scared it would indicate km13 and that I would be way off my plans. But good to see it was km14 and that – for sure – I was slowing down, but I was was still in the race! My race! Km15 was reached within target (Yiiipii!). Had been passed earlier by a guy to whom I asked whether there was/were gal(s) behind me. A bit surprised he recognised that nope. He hadn’t seen any for a while and that I might have been alone on this race 🙂 Good! I understood by then that I was still in 4th place as I had been passed by a gal around km5. I had here in sight for a long while, but it was tricky to catch up with her (which I understood why a bit after the finish line…). One last Dextrosol right before the water station and then we were at km16. This is where the marathoners and half-marathoners are separated. Said good luck and good bye to my runner-in-crime. Got it back as well. And that was it. A little deep when entering the tunnel…this is in the middle of it that I lost the second place of the race last year. So really wanted not to let it happen today! Started the tunnel with a bit tired legs. Last year Olivier A helped a lot with cheering and encouragements and keeping the pace (which was quite slow then) was going fine. Here it was only me, myself and I and no help from outside. Passed by a few runners who encouraged me pretty kindly. Passed km17 a bit slow in the middle of the tunnel. My watch was still indicating the kilometer-mark properly until then. After km17, it started to show very slow pace and honestly I did not know what to believe. But 4:27-pace I was pretty sure that I was NOT that slow running. Tricky to breathe inside the tunnel. Tricky feeling to run and not seeing the start nor the end. Tricky not to know how long is left. Tricky to have strange-funky-watery music played inside the tunnel….and here it came… I could actually SEE the light at the end of the tunnel! For real! And it was sunshining! Yooohooo! Got along with a guy right before the end of the tunnel and we encouraged each other. OMG! Less than 3km to go when we reach the bridge… and then downhill and turning right. Lifted my arms to wave to the little crowd there and got the response I wanted 🙂 Uplifting cheering! The motivation was on the top. And there I could not yet see them, but heard them from far away. My best-ever crew was at their right position! One at the start almost of the bridge and the second one in the middle. Could just not stop smiling! Sunshine had reached the building! And the slope ended and then the bridge. “Strong legs, lift the knees” – I recalled all the words from Olivier A last year at this special place. Passed two guys. And then it was a little down and then around the roundabout and left and then abrupt right-turn again, where a guy throw me a “You are the 4th! You are the best! Only 2km to go!”. I still had no idea how far I was from the 3rd one. Passed km19 without really noticing until I did it (note: this was a large air-filled arch above the street apparently…). Reaching place des Terreaux. Was very careful not to fall on the slippery ground. Looked at all the runners who were turning then and running “back” towards km20. Could not see a single chick. And same procedure after turning back…no gal after me neither. OK. Tried to accelerate and then turn right into Rue de la République. Noticed by then that I had forgotten to take my red gel. No time now. Passing km20. Still looking good. Had difficulties to calculate how fast I should run to get under 88 minutes, but under 87 was lost for sure. Not too much fun to run on the hard pavement of this large pedestrian street. But there there was way more people at the end. And if I was to miss 87minutes-blank anyway, I could at least enjoyed the waving and cheering of the crowd! Turning right, along Place Bellecour. Sun shining. Passing two more guys and another left turn. Hearing someone screaming at his friend he was good to reach 87 minutes and I took this as my new mission. NOT letting this guy too far from me. Final left turn. I remained on the right side this time. Less people there. Another gear had been passed. Could accelerate without any problem. Where was the clock? Could not see what I was aiming for… And that.was.it! Stopped the watch. I.AIN’T.TIRED… Where is the rest of the race?!?!

Official time: 1:27:14 (i.e. a new second-best half-marathon! 12 seconds faster than Copenhagen two week before!!! and on this route! Brilliant!)

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

AFTER THE FINISH LINE

Caught up by the speaker after the finish line, who recognised me and told me I had missed the podium this time and was fourth in the race and that was still good. Grabbing the mic, I answered that I trained a bit and reached the finish line 3 minutes faster than last year…but that the other chicks had apparently trained a bit too! And that with an invitation to next year’s race, I would probably even run faster! 🙂 Yap! Happy and very satisfied and absolutely not tired. Feeling nice and light, jogged (!) to the massage tent. On the way I met the 3rd lady, who was looking pretty exhausted. Had finished 2 minutes before me. And that was then I noticed that I had been following a guy with a pink tshirt and not her with her pink tshirt… Congratulating her and heading to the refreshment table. Water and cereals bars. Then queue to the massage. Got a long and nice massage of both legs. Was asked if I had been running as apparently the leg muscles were not showing sign of it (apart from sensitive Achille’s…). Banana and more cereal bars and a cup of Coke and jogged back to the Renault Trucks tent. More people than this morning there! Between the half-marathoners arriving and the 10K-runners on the departure. And still the best ever crew with red jacket from RT 🙂 Met my own best-ever crew. A few pic. Sun shining, meeting more colleagues and friends. Sunshine and happiness were floading here! Wonderful Sunday morning!

What next? Quick change of clothes in the tent (yaaaaa.. it was full of people, but honestly I did not really bother. I could not get back home in sweaty/wet outfit and risk to catch a cold. Better strip and have dry clothes on. Ate at almost all little table (pain aux raisins, scrambled eggs, drink juice, got a cake). SO very well-organized! Then time to drive back home, have a well-deserved shower, nice lunch and took a bit of rest for a while. Best finish of the week ever! Once more confirmation of good form. Just want the sun to be kept high and shiny up there and all will be fine!

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

Weather: 15.0° Cloudy, Feels like 15.0°C, 5 kph wind, 94% humidity – perfect weather conditions. Could not ask for better, really. Wind non-existant, sun shine just as much as perfect. What to ask for more?

Food: breakfast (chia seeds + green mix + gatorade + banana) @4:30am, red juice @6:30am, after: water, banana right after the race. Later in the RT tent: mini pains aux raisins, scrambled eggs w/bacon, orang juice, water. Late lunch around 2pm (?)

>During: little gatorade right before the start, Dextrosol 1 @km9, 10.5, 13 and 15+.

Gear: SOC SWE hotpants + sports bra. Shoes delivered as usual. Just adoring them!

Shoes: ADIDAS Adizero Adios Boost – Purple (Quicky)

14/ would sound a bit cocky to set a 13 for the whole race, but having set a 14 for Copenhagen, this one was surely on a lower effort level. Probably a good 13/low 14. Did not feel making any effort throughout the race. Just running. For sure there was a deep at a moment, but never it has felt that the effort level was very much higher than the rest of the race. Very satisfied to have run slightly faster on this route compared to Copenhagen which was pretty flatter (but windier!). No tired body, apart from tired and sensitive Achille’s. No sign of racing the day and days after. Good sign?

******

A few “after-race thoughts”

NOTE: confirming my subscription to the “sub90-club” 🙂 And even better to get close to this 87 minutes once more and within so short notice! Very good for a training-race!

NOTE: Weather-wise, nothing to complain at all about! Perfect temperature. Sun shine. Humidity but ok-level. No wind. What else to ask for?

NOTE: Time and place? This went precisely according to plan. Finish time is fully satisfactory, especially for a training-race. Place in the race is fully satisfactory as I had really no chance for the two first places on the podium, and for the third one this year, I would have had to push a bit more actually… So yap! All fine!

NOTE: Warmup? Same procedure as last year with Olivier A. Worked perfectly. For sure was freezing a bit before start, but the warmup ended up quite close to the start (well, close enough). So good!

NOTE: Drinking & energy during the race? Not a chance I can tell I have been drinking properly during the race. Throw most of the water on my head for cooling down. And that felt enough. Took a few gloops at km15-water station and that was enough. Got cramps under the feet during the after-race massage and the first question I got was “did you drink properly during the race?” and my answer was “nope. Did not need to drink”. Dextrosol was easy to take and I definitely did not need the final gel. For the double distance however, I would have taken it.

NOTE: Real nice and cozy race. Not very many watching on the side of the river, but that’s fine for me. They compensate with a warm welcome when reaching the final stretch along Place Bellecour, and that is working well for me. Highly recommended!

Lots of thanks as usual for all who gave supporting words during training and those who actually cheering along the race. Thanks for Marianne C who took two very-well located places for cheering and that was just great! A very special thank too for the Renault Trucks helping team, who made the life of runners so much easier before and after the race! Always a pleasure to meet them! And of course, a huge thanks to my best-ever crew on-site (and the one off-site too!).

Run in Lyon slogan this year was : “RIL, what else?” and indeed, I could not think about anything else. But the warm-up is still going on…


Race Report – Copenhagen half marathon 2016/09/18

cph2016

A happy runner here!

Planned: 1:25-1:27. the faster, the better…

Actual: 1:27:26 – Second best time ever on a half-marathon! Fast and well-controlled start, fastest 5K ever, fastest 10K of the year, fight with stomach cramps around km14 or so, accelerations in the last 3km and final sprint in 4:04 to reach km21 and still enough to increase in the last 100m left. Very happy with this race, the place and the time. Surely could have run faster, but more than good enough on this one!

A bit different route than the one I ran in 2014, quite windy for a lot of places, back with those stupid inexplicable stomach cramps, strong mind to ignore them and keep on running. OMG this felt so good to reach km20 and being able to sprint to the end!

Place: 57 – all women, 6 – age category, 5 – Swedish (ladies – with 2 in sub80… and the two others at 1:25+ & 1:27+…) & 682 – all runners

Splits (official)

Split

Time

Diff Min/km Total sex cat
5km 00:19:32 19:32 03:55

447

37

3

10km 00:40:08 20:36 04:08

565

44

3

halfway 00:42:12
15km 01:01:28 21:20 04:16

638

52

5

20km 01:22:55 21:28 04:18

681

57

6

Finish 01:27:26 04:31 04:07

684

57

6

Totals

Place 57
Place (age) 6
Place (total) 684
Time total 01:27:26
Average pace 04.07min/km

In short: Yiiiiiihaaaaaa! Another sub90 and a best 5K ever!!! First half disappearing like crazy. Windy quite a lot throughout. Stomach cramps in the middle. Strong finish. Second best time on a half-marathon (well…third time ever if counting the first half of Rotterdam marathon…)

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

BEFORE THE RACE

The day before…

Early up to get to the train station. 3 hours later reached Copenhagen. Could not find my bus-stop, and not afraid of walking the 3.2km to the room I rented…well, I walked. Dropped my bag, hop on the bike with my host and some of his friends and cycled to the expo to get my BIB. Not much time spent in the expo. Bike back home, unpacked necessary stuff and rested for a while. Slept indeed for 45minutes… Up to buy food, not finding sport drinks (apparently there are 100s sorts of beer, but not sport drink…), bought pasta bolognese and ate @3:30pm. Wanted to wait before running. Back to bed and more deep sleep. Awaken right before 5pm, got ready and hop! Ran easy to Godthåbsvej which was were the km7 of the course was. Crazy wind on this road… Continued on the half marathon route until km10 and slightly after. Good enough for today. Ran through the close-by park after that and then back home. Felt all fine. If it wasn’t for the high probability to have a windy weather tomorrow… Crossed the road and found a shop having Powerade Blue. Took two bottles! In bed around 9pm. Slept almost right away. Although having a bed almost 1.6m above the ground and without any barrier on the side made me sleep pretty close to the wall (just in case…for not falling…) 😛

Race day

Awaken every second hour from 1:30am. Don’t know why. Was feeling fine. No stress. Up at 7:00am for breakfast of chia seeds, green mix and Powerade. Then back to bed. At 8am came my host home, so I decided it might be high time to get showered and ready. He was already all set for the race! Quick shower, fixed the hair, cream all over and racing gear on (SOC SWE hotpants and sports bra and as previous race the superfast ADIDAS Adizero Adios Boost – Purple (Quicky). (would have gladly taken the Swifty (the other pair) but the little hole in the net on the right big toe felt a bit big for a race… They stayed at home then…). Put on my Swedish flag-tattoo on the left arm to complete my Swedish nails and Swedish racing gear 🙂 Final (?) double-checked of my bag with extra changes for after the race.

9:15am – After drinking red juice, jumped on my slightly-too-high bike my host found for me (Thanks!) and we got to the start. Good to have him with me as I would probably lost my way to the start. Quite windy and felt that my eyes were crying pretty much, despite having my sunglasses on. Not too fun. 5Km later, we dropped our bikes close to the expo-place. Thomas (my host) found another pacer-friend and after a pic of me in front of the Wall of Runners, a bit of good luck, we separated and I tried to find my way to the start. Not too difficult. Just have to follow the stream 🙂 Got to the Village and went straight into the Runners’area for dropping the bags. Quite empty. Very large area only for the runners. Very good and well-arranged! Lay down on the grass and under the sun and rested for a bit. Did not listen to music although it was tempting. Just looked at the flags flying around…meaning the wind was out there and ready for us. Met the 1:25-pacesetter and noted how the 1:30-pacesetters looked like. Basically the plan turned into: neither of those guys should pass me during the race… Easy plan, right? It did work once 😛

10:15am – OK, time to get this sluggish body up and warmed up. Dropped my bag to a kind lady after taking a pic. Found the “< 1:30” start-group. Quick pit-stop in the woods. And off I left. Freezing as usual. I will learn…eventually…to keep some extra clothes on when I am warming up. But that was not today! Crossed the road where the start would be given and with my teeth chattering, I started to move myself. Had kept a little bag with a little left of powerade, two gels and napkins. Running nose ain’t fun neither. On the field I warmed up were also warming up…the ELITES! As usual it feels so crazy cool to even SEE them (in real and not just on the big screens or on tv). Seeing the ease when they run their warmup at a… 4:30/4:15-tempo, looking like nothing (I tried to follow a couple of gals…not for long!). Saw a group of Danish guys surrounding a Danish lady, who I assumed to be one of the stars of the show for today. And then… finding a friendly face warming up: Louise Wiker 🙂 Could not help it. Went to her and got both a smile and a hug. Always cool to see her before a race. This smile of hers as well as encouragements got me flying for the next 100m…before the wind came and got me to freeze again… Finished the warmup with another pitstop in the woods (and no it ain’t just me doing this). Found Mikael L in the start-group “<1:30”. Then a bit of more walking around. Drank the little left in my bottle and finally got into the start area for good this time.

cph2016beforerace

Waiting for the start…all focused!

11:00am – OK, checking around the fast chicks who I will only see from behind (and probably only now before we start…). Noted two Swedes. Had as well as couple of Danish gals who were running their district championships as well. Easy to spot with the flag on their back indicating their age category. Got to meet two Swede giants from Malmö (Ola & Antonio). Always nice with some large smiles before the start.

11:10am – Presentation of the stars of the race: with so many contestants to sub60 and some for a world record on this route, the pace was already set before the race even begun! Not too bad neither on the female side. Sun shining. Felt quite warm in the start-group with everyone getting closer to each other now.

11:14am – Slow walking to the start mat, getting my watch ready aaaaaand…

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

THE RACE

11:15am – BAM! Eeeeeuuuuh… WHAT? Where is the final countdown? I had my eyes on my watch and saw the seconds ticking up and as it changed to 11:15am, then the start was given. Well…. ok then! Game on! Easy and nice push forward and the start mat is passed. Started to run, got plenty of place already from start. Had a younger chick on my right and hang along her for the first km, keeping an eye on a Danish with DM (District Championships) on her back running side-by-side with another Danish guy also competing in the DM. So nice feeling that the head did not really realized the race started until we passed km1 or so. The first 200m or so showed a slow 4:2x (?)-tempo, but I know it can changed anytime at start. The aim was not to feel pushing hard as long as possible and still running fast. Keeping an eye on the gals ahead of me, I noted Mikael L passing a few meters on my left and I thought that I was definitely off chart for the “start easy and accelerate after” as there was no chance HE was running slow (well, not me-slow anyhow). Did not bother much than that, knowing that once again the first km can be filled with enthusiasm and be a bit fast. Crossing the first little bridge went nice and easy. All under control and Beeep! Said the watch. Did not check it as I did not want to know how fast (or slow) I had passed this first km. The “I-feel-high-and-I-don’t-know-why” continued on the other side and then we turned already (!) towards km2. WHAT? Still no clue about the pace I had. Eyes on my “pacers” who were the Danish gal & guy and two other gals ahead of me. Felt strong and nice and…not liking the wind we already had there. Before start, the English speaker said that the first third/half of the race would have tailwind, a bit of side wind after the half and then headwind on the final stretch. A bit surprised hearing this as I actually expected the contrary…on the other side, I was not there to compete for the win or a world record. And training in the wind had been done…way enough at home in the past few months. So bring it on! (OK, not too much though…). Still clueless about my pace I just flew through km3 which I recalled being the turning point toward a long stretch and a bridge. Loved passing this bridge with all the cheering. Got passed by a bunch of Norbro (?)-runners there and that completed the show! So much life and smiles and cheering. Peeeerfect! Reaching km5 was still feeling high and so high (and if this feels this way when running that fast, I want to run this pace every-single-day!!!) After the 5km turn, the wind bothered me. I felt km6 never came really. I felt slow. I was a slug among the fast (probably Danish) cheetahs allover. Saw that I was not the only one to “struggle” with this wind there. Tried to get along a group, but none were really with my pace. Saw km6-mark and did not even smile. I thought I had reached closer to km7 by then. More turn and finally I recognize the street I trained in the day before. Km7 was at reach. Quick check on the watch then and…whAAAAAAT? Sub4 pace? That cannot be! By experience from last time I raced here, I assumed that the pace was 2sec slower than what the Garmin indicated. But on the other side, the Garmin was beeping pretty much where the km-signs were… Turning left on the unpronounceable Gofthåbsvej the wind just come full scale and headwind. All runners got in kind of one line of one or two, on the street. Impossible to catch up with the one ahead of me and honestly not wanting to slow down and get behind others. Got up on the pavement which was nicer to run on, but by doing that I got full-scaled-headwind too. Wonderful choice… Turning finally right to Falkoners Allé and getting on the left side of the street. Quick check on the watch. Still sub4-pace. How much “sub” was not really possible to calculate… the brain was not ready and set for this. It felt like walking fast almost on this street. No more wind, but the enthusiasm was going down. I wanted to get to Frederiksberg Allé. I wanted to see the flags everywhere. I wanted to pass 10km fast enough for having a bit to potentially loose in the second half. Passing km9 still sub4 but definitely too close now. The long Allén was nice to run in, but not as nice as yesterday when I trained there on the pavement and not similar to the World Championships two years ago. Danish flags all-over was indeed nice to see. But at this time of the race, there aren’t enough runners to fill in the large allée. Remained on the right side as I knew there was an abrupt turn after km10. And here it came. Cursed silently when seeing that I missed the sub40 by only few seconds. But that was more than good enough. Second best 10K in my life probably! And then we all disappeared to the left after that. Lapped the halfway at 42:12. No sign indicated it was half-way, so I just kept an eye on my watch. Quick calculation with a half-functioning brain and for sure, that was a nice first half. Motivation back to the rooftops!

Prepared my yellow gel for the next water station. Not sure I really needed it, but it might take time to kick in. So why not. Placebo effect ain’t to be forgotten there. And during a half-marathon it is always a good way of testing how it can work for the “real” distance which is double as long. Taking gel, water, whatever-which-is-needed ain’t a piece of cake at this pace. So better train for it. Reaching km12 or so and I got some water. Had taken water at the previous station I think, no drinking but got it on the head. Felt nice and refreshing. Did that in most of the following water-stations… On the long stretch with km12, runners start to line up one after one or so. Well, it started already after turning after km11.5 or so. Every one aiming to the right side. Looked pretty odd actually. After the km12 water station, the 1:25-group caught up on me. Could continue to hang along, which was ok. A bit disappointed though that they got me so early in the race (ok…very disappointed…) Seeing the runners ahead of us turning right onto… a bridge! Noooo, I don’t want to get on a bridge. Well on it, it felt actually nice to run down. Still in the 1:25-group. The fastest pacesetter being 10-15m ahead of me and another one right before me on the left. No chick in this group I noted. Had dropped the thoughts of hanging along the DM-gal and other Danish chicks from after km5. Could still see one or two not too far though. Plan B – don’t let any chick pass me. The long stretch along the water was not much fun and was way too windy. Even though I was quite close to the guys of the 1:25-group, it still felt that the wind was troubling my run. Getting closer to km14 and BAM! From nowhere came like a knife-like pain right in the middle of the stomach. Noooo…not again! My pace was still fine for sub86 by then. I tried to straighten a bit while running, then crocking my back a little, then running a little more on the right side or pushing the hips a bit more in the front. Nothing worked. Lost loads of time there. Passing somewhere under a short tunnel, all watches got crazy and did not beep the km (14?) and all of them sang together when leaving the little tunnel (kind of “London marathon feeling” there 🙂 ). OK, toughen up. The 1:25-guys are still in sight. And you are still having legs which are not tired and a brain which is still functioning. Stop thinking of what is in the middle. Those cramps have to disappear and if not, just screw them and think of something else. Is it running bare stomach and catching a cold that is starting those cramps? Don’t think so. I trained in similar outfit in different weather conditions. Wow! Stop thinking so much and focus on the race! Recognised the path where runners were waiting for the start in 2014, turning left and getting to km15 which was pretty much where my sub90 group was in 2014. Not many people on the side, nor on the road. Not much left. I like this part two years ago and I like it now as well, I decided. Started to count up from this moment…km1…km2… from 2014-race 🙂 Caught up with a guy after the water-station, heard myself screaming to him “BARA SEX KVAR! KOM IGEN!” and receiving a large smile from him. For sure I meant “Only SIX km left! Come on!”. And nothing else!!! Catching up with an older Asian runner in red outfit around km17. Have met him since km6 or 7. We ran side-by-side, but I felt that he was then slowing down when I was at his side, and each time I accelerated, he did too. This was not ok then, and this is absolutely NOT ok now! I lost him when the cramps started. And here he is. But now I don’t want to be dragged back. Passing the little bridge along the train station. I really like this part in 2014 and still liking it very much…even though it is actually slightly uphill. Taking my final gel at km18, getting a bit of water to it. Got passed by a Spanish gal a little after km18 and have another DM-gal ahead. OMG I just want to pass them. And VROOOOOM! The next 2km are down to a sub3-marathon pace, which is nice. But not fast enough. The legs feel indecently strong. Where was this strength around km14?!?! The stomach ain’t complaining any longer. I liked this stretch in 2014 and like it even more today as this is the final km! A bit strange to convert a previous route to a current route when they are not completely alike. Progressively accelerating to km20 (I think?), having an eye on a guy who actually passes me there and I make my final fight to get at least side-by-side to the finish line… unless I get it faster. From there it is just back to me, myself and the asphalt! Not many runners side-by-side on this final stretch. Still catching up a few places on men. Turning right and over there is the finish line…. Soooo far away and so close. Pushing a bit more. Feeling that a shorter gal passed me on the right side… close to the km21…NOT.A:CHANCE! Passing the next gear (there is ALWAYS a next gear…) and passing her back. Seeing the clock ticking. I know it is over 1:27, but how much over. 1:23…24…25… and finally see the 1:27:30 when I pass the finish line. Pressing stop on my watch. No need to look at it. I.AM.(morethan).HAPPY!

Official time: 1:27:26 (1 second faster than my watch 🙂 )

***************
AFTER THE FINISH LINE

Happy, smiling and not tired, euphoric almost to the top, I find my way to get energy bar, something to drink, a medal and then back to the Runner’s corner. Way more people there. I feel high and happy 🙂 Getting back my bag, catching an apple, drinking 3 mug of energy drink and then heading to the massage tent. Not long queue. Meeting Lisa R form Sweden who completed the race in an impressive 1:17. Hearing that Louise W got to the finish line two minutes before her. Massage with focus on the calve, although I feel that the Achille’s are more likely to be painful within short. Changing to dry and clean clothes in the tent and leaving the area. Heading to the expo place to get my bike… when I note that I have to cross the street with the finish stretch to get there… Brilliant idea! Walking back up the street. Jumping (kind-of) above a fence, finding a little place in the now sprinting runners and crossing the road. Jumping (kind-of again..) above the other fence and running easily back to get my bike. All fine to cycle back home…although I lost a turn and took a longer way back home… Shower, noted a burn mark right under the sports bra line, which I cannot explain (but it does burn under the shower), drinking a bit of powerade, throwing all my stuff in my bag, writing a note to my host (he is pacer to the 6min-group and will probably get back home late(r)), locking the door and that was it! Walked back to the train station. Bought my ticket for getting back home and hop on the train. Got to step out as the others in Copenhagen airport for checking the passports. Took this opportunity to get to Burger King and take a kid’s meal. On the train again, new passport control after reaching Sweden and new train change when reaching Malmö. Sms to the right and left. I received (finally!) an sms confirming my final time. Indeed when I reached home, I wanted to check my time and it indicated 1:22:55… Euuuuuuhhhh…What? This was my time passing km20. And nothing after that? Was really not happy and hoped that they did not have an issue with their timing-system (…it had happened in two races before that the timing-system was wrongly functioning and I got an incorrect time… but at least it was a time. Having a curve showing my pace up to km20 and then dropping down to zero after that showing DNF-like ending was NOT on my plan…and will never be!). Anyway…time was now showing as it should and I was happy to find out both time and ranking. Getting as well as PB on 5km (19:32!) which is 23seconds faster than previous fast 5K in a race (first 5K of Rotterdam 2014 in 19:55…). Placed 5th in Swedish females with 2 sub80 (had no chance on those ones…) and 2 within less than 2 minutes from my finish. Definitely happy.

The day ended with “Tricky” finishing his Sunday long run and suggesting an unplanned celebration with nice food (almost Copenhagen 2014 all over again 🙂 ). Perfect to complete this already great day! Nothing wrong with the form here!

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

Weather: 17.2° Sunny, Feels like 17.2°, 6 kph ENE wind, 63% humidity – optimal weather for running if it was not for the stupid wind a bit everywhere on the route. Surely slowed down a bit those guys running for the win and the WR. Surely slowed down little me too 🙂

Food: breakfast (chia seeds + green mix + powerade + banana) @7:15am, red juice @9am, after: yogurt (beurk!), 3 sport drink mugs, 1 energy bar right after the race. Burger King king’s meal around 4pm (?)
During: little powerade right before the start, yellow gel at km12, red gel at km18.

Gear: SOC SWE hotpants + sports bra. Shoes delivered once again. Just loving them!

Shoes: ADIDAS Adizero Adios Boost – Purple (Quicky)

14/ let’s set a 14, but honestly doubting it reached this level as overall. Up to halfway, the euphoria or whatever-it-was that got me running made the effort level on a comfortable 11/12. Not feeling at all like running at the pace I was actually running. After that, a couple of km got harder because of the stomach cramps and the effort (probably more mental than physical) got higher, but the final 3+km were back on the high-motivation level and the run felt like flowing, close to effortless. Euphoria was probably back by then… Surely a bit sad to run “THAT” slow on this route where I really thought I would make it closer to 85 minutes. But the overall feeling is greater than any time possible. I like this race (apart from the *@¤!!?%& wind…) and would more than likely run there again in the future. No wind please… Body felt nice afterwards. Tiredness was never there (ok…the shin splint-like the day after remained for 2 days…).

******

A few “after-race thoughts”

NOTE: another sub90 in the pocket. And this one is even better than the previous ones done this year, because I know (deeeep deeeep down) that this is what I can do. Hopefully the spare has disappeared now. All-in was reached a bit at the end, but never there really at the start. More of this kind of feeling please!

NOTE: Anyone can complain on the weather. The thing is that nothing can be done about it. So better toughen up and deal with it. Surely having a windy route was not fully on my plans for this race. But enough preparation was done, so that was ok. I did not like it, but could not do anyting about it anyway…

NOTE: Time and place? If it was not detailed clearly enough earlier… MORE than happy about both. Training is showing up and rewarding (sometimes) 🙂 So proud of myself to have toughen up on the “continue-running-despite-of-the-stomach-cramps”. Still have to figure out what it starting them…

NOTE: Warmup? Good enough for today’s race. Have to keep in mind for next races to have extra clothes on me to throw before the race start… so I am not fully freezing during the warmup… Felt ready to start today. Warm enough!

NOTE: Drinking & energy during the race? As usual it was not really feasible to drink during the race. Apart from the moment when a nice guy had taken a bottle of water, drank a bit and then gave it to me as he heard I missed taking one at the station. Only decent water-drinking I did during the race. The mid-course gel is not necessary. But good for marathon training. The final gel give a kick and is definitely good to have 🙂 The thickness is legitimate as it is not a “liquid” gel as the other ones I have. Regular gel. Still more work to do for the plastic mug drinking…

NOTE: Great race, loved it two years ago, still loving it this year. Not just for the fast time on the course. Organization worked well, the expo was slightly (?) bigger than two years ago (or maybe more crowded because it was Saturday afternoon?). Highly recommended!

Loads of thanks for the sms and kind words received right before the race 🙂 Always appreciated! May the warm-up continue then!…


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!

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

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

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

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 ).

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

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!

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

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!

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

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!

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

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 – Lisbon Discoveries Half-marathon 2015/12/06

Soonfinished

Soon finished!

Planned: sub90 (because 1) it sounds nice, 2) it has been soooo close during the races done during 2015 (close but no cigar…) and 3) I know I can…

Actual: 1:27:45! Definitely sounding nice, definitely showing I could and definitely meaning that I am back on track 🙂

On the top of it, passing the finish line on 4th place, and podium 3rd place for age category do make this race a very good finish for the 2015-with-its-crapy-start…And a clear negative split as well…

Weather conditions were ideal, kind of. Start with fog and no visibility, to nice in the air, wind from time to time and sun shining at arrival. Great feeling at the end, even with enough strength for a smiling-to-the-camera interview 🙂

Place: 4 – all women 🙂 / 3 – category “women 35-44” / 192 all runners 🙂

Splits (Garmin)

Garmin
km sum Per 5K
5 20:43.04 20:43.04
10 41:34.00 20:51.00
15 01:02:21 20:47.30
20 01:23:08 20:46.07
21.1 01:27:45 04:37.4

Totals

Place 4
Place (age) 3
Place (total) 192
Time total 01:27:45
Average pace 04.09 min/km

 

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

 

The day before…

Rehearsal run done on Saturday created misbelieves that 90 minutes would even be enough for this run. The first 2km felt very stiff and taken at 4:45 and 4:30 which made me very much doubt they could be run even slightly faster and despite any BIB attached on the stomach. But it was not all… after a terrific and very controlled downhill of 1km at 4:12 (!) getting back to the main road was welcomed by a side/headwind which made the pace slow down to 4.50-kind of, which made this misbelieve even stronger as having such wind during training and 1,5km is one thing, but having it for 8km and then having 8 more km to go would definitely not make this race the “piece-of-cake-sub90-race” I was actually counting on and hoping for…

 *************

BEFORE THE RACE

4:15 am – Woke up during the night, well-rested, but way too early. Back to sleep…

6:00am – Up right before the alarm, breakfast time. Orange juice, croissant-brioche, banana and green mix with a cup of Powerade blue (Yummy!) and back to bed and sleep. Drank every half-hour alternating water and Powerade. No problem sleeping between each zip!

8:00am – OK, the “laying in bed” felt very luxurious, but was probably not too well with a race starting 2 hours later. Up and direction the shower, massage of the legs with tiger balm afterwards (just for the smell to wake up the senses and the cold feeling to definitely not let me getting back to bed!). Hesitated a short moment, but decided to go for chili cream as well on the bum, legs and feet as well as the arms. The weather was not as cold as in Sweden, but looking through the window was showing a visibility of maximum 2-300m and the weather forecast indicated 9ºC and visibility 0 until 10am…Final drink and got race gears on. Cold in the apartment, so it was good to have this warmup chili cream on! Decided to go for the arm sleeves as well. Pink… did not plan very well there, but better be warm and colourful than cold and sorry!

image

Outfit for the day

08:55am – Waking up E and getting the final touch to my gear. Double-checking the plans for meeting after the race and (very good timing…) writing down on a paper wristband the splits I was hoping for (indeed, writing them on the back of the hand was not possible due to the arm sleeves…). Felt pretty stressed to tape this wrist band. E was half-laughing at the situation. Final kiss, quick pick and on the street for heading to the start.
09:19am – Leaving the apartment 19 minutes (!) later than original plans… Definitely ready for running. Not many people in the streets. The few heading towards the start I would guess. All are very well covered in training outfit…except me. Does not matter. 200m were needed for getting already warm. 1,5km later, arriving at the “Mosteiro dos Jerónimos” Monument, lots of runners everywhere. Feeling good. Still pretty foggy and grey. But not cold. The sunglasses felt quite ok to have (even though it might look a bit too much, I know that if there is a lot of wind or some sunshine, they will be definitely helpful!). Checking the arrival. Looking for Jesper who would run in another group. Smart enough, did not indicate where and when to meet before the race… Hopefully that will work for the after race! More easy run to the start – still no Jesper.
09:35am – Still time left… decide to get a bit more warm-up as recommended by Olivier A. Running back the track of the race. Finding a little inside square for final pitstop (I know… but the queues were not long really, but could not wait that long) and finally running easy back to the start. Stopped for doing my lunges matrix. Getting looks from people and happily giving back some. Cheering from a Swedish gal leaving in Lisbon and running. Checking the BIB and colour of some runners just to know who I would be following 🙂 I am in the grey start (1:15-1:30), right behind the red start (which corresponded to less than 1:15…). A last 400m with accelerations and now the legs want to run for real and have to be tamed…

09:50am –In the corral. Finding my way to the front of the corral while other runners (all male!) are doing warm-up exercises with the speaker. Spotting four ladies in the red corral and one in my corral. OK…here goes the 5 first places, I thought. Just make it to the arrival before the last “grey” and that would do (is the next thought). A guy with a “1:30” flag is entering our corral… OK…new plan: always have this guy in my sight or even better, having him NOT in my sight and right behind me… Sounding good. He will probably be ahead of me for the first 5-6km and I count on whatever will I may have then to pass him afterwards. Sounds like a plan. If any plan…

09:57am – OK, now I seriously doubt I will make it to the end without being run over totally. Flashbacks from Semi de Paris starts with men running and pushing everywhere and everyone ain’t really what I was needing then… Fixing my laces again. Taking two Dextrosol. Checking my brand new watch. Setting the correct music to the ear to be started in a short while. Closing my mind completely.

09:59am – Smiling (at least inside), countdown has started, feeling the tension all around me aaaaaand…

********
THE RACE
10:00am – GOOOOO!… Feeling the pushing in front of me, on the sides and behind me. Don’t even have to move, the wave is carrying me forward. Almost forgetting to start my watch (for a millisecond or so). Deciding to start it when I think the start was given. Then I see that I am passing a mat. OK, at least my time will be accurate when looking to the clocks on the course. It feels like in a dream really. Like a déjà-vu… I was there yesterday, running on this same asphalt but it was empty of people. And now I cannot even see where my feet are going (better not looking down anyway…I would probably fall…). Turn left. The 1:30-guy is a few meters before me. All good…well no. because some guys are sticking to his shoes and don’t bother me really (or all the other runners). I got pushed back during this second short stretch (yes, not even run 300m!) and run strangely on a hole in the street. Great L Turn right, follow this guy is the only thought I have. The music started a bit before and is nice to have. Cobblestones, construction area and one more turn to the left are however NOT nice to have. Once more, I am forced to slow down and almost walk (!) in order to avoid falling. Great start… and the slope is not even started yet… The 1:30-guy is taking a few meters more from me…Easy I think. Let him take this slope at 4:16 and I will get him in the downhill… hoping he will still remain at 4:16-tempo there… Beeep from the watch. Don’t even dare to check. Have been running on the left and it was actually quite nice and calm. Most runners spread along the street, but I knew better 🙂 The next turn is on the left, and I am not going to run a cm too many on this hill! OK, Avenida Restelo. Here I come. Passed by many still, but a lot have slowed down already. Quick check on the watch, preparing myself to cry… what? 4:18?…and yes, the 1:30-guy is a few meters ahead of me. Cannot be wrong. OK, concentration to get back. Avoiding the cobblestones of the bus station, adding a few centimeters (?) to my run and then we reach the roundabout to the lovely downhill. The 1:30-guy is probably 4-50m ahead of me now. With a pack of 5-6 men all around. Finding myself stuck there and I really do not want to take this downhill at 4:16-tempo! I make myself pass the guys, almost hitting a car parked on the side of the road. Feeling a bit cocky to pass all those guys. They are probably smiling and thinking “This chick gonna be dead tired in a few miles. Let her pass!” Refraining from those stupid thoughts, focusing on HR recommendation for running downhill : “forward and well-controlled, no slowing down”. By the time I recall fully the advises, we have turned left on…cobblestones street again (I was hoping yesterday that we would avoid this street…). Quite stable, passing km3 in 3:51. Satisfied. Not too fast, just enough to balance the lost seconds of the first 2 km. Just 18km to go now. Awaiting for the wind to strike after getting back to the main road. But nothing. Well, ok, no “nothing”. It was a bit windy. But nothing compared to the previous day. Trying to find a group to run with. No chick in sight apart from two. Completing the previous plan with “don’t let those chick out of your sight”. And as the visibility is quite limited anyway because of the fog (can see probably 1-2km ahead, but not much more I would guess), this seems like a good deal. With a bit of chance they will get tired…eventually…some time… (although this is mostly working on marathon distance, because on half.marathon I know I can be beaten before the end, without being tired myself). Finding a very good group of guys to run with and we are passing the 5K. Checking quickly the clock and my wristband. Looking good. Not for an 85-race, but definitely in good track for sub90. Just keep smiling, hold on to those guys and all gonna be fine. We have been passing 10K-runners heading to their arrival on the other side of the road (they started at 9:30am). We even still have many on our side of the road. Which is not really practical as we have to pass them right or left or in the middle. Accelerating a bit before km6 as I see a little silhouette in black. Trying to whistle but it is definitely not easy to run at this pace and whistle. So I shout a bit and get a huge smile from E on the other side of the road. And cheering. And surely I burn there some extra strength which I probably will miss later on in the race, but it was worth this smile! Back to the pack. Surrounded on my right by the guy with the red singlet with Clube Vodafone (will spend most of the run thinking that there is a mistyping on his singlet and that I probably should tell him that “Club” has no “e” at the end… Yes…the mind wanders sometimes during races…) and another guy with white singlet and great smile on the left. A few check from time to time to the watch and the indication of 4:09-pace is very reassuring. For being even more sure that disappointment won’t come at the end, I am adding 1-2sec/km. So it is still a very decent 1:28-tempo I am holding. With a bit of margin. Around km8 happens what should NEVER happen. Still well-surrounded, I feel like drifting slightly to the right, still a bit from “Clube Vodafone”-guy. But THEN I feel that my legs are hit by something, everything goes really fast, a guy in our group was trying to pass between me and “Clube Vodafone” and got into my footsteps, a bit of light screaming, feeling that my “white singlet and big smile” is catching me, that “Clube Vodafone” is catching me too on the other side and our third mysterious guy behind is as well holding so I am not falling (or that we ALL are not falling together). Lots of thanks all around, a bit of laugh and excuses and we just continue. Nothing noted on the pace (or maybe this km would have been even faster without this “almost falling” incident… who knows?…). Back on track, cheering from a bunch of guys in Portuguese around km9. Not understanding a single word. Comments from my “white singlet and big smile” friend and he gets back a thanks and let’s go from me on the top of a smile. Km10 is finally passed. Under 42minutes J on good track for sub90. Keep smiling and moving those legs! Taking my grey gel. Not that it is needed, but because it is annoying me in the backpocket of my hotpants. Quick water drinking as well. Nice!

Halfway is reached without really noticing…there is no mark for it (or there was one and I did not see it. All km-marks are having a different little funny drawing. KM11 is having legs added to the figures, like they were running. Another km-mark (nr 8?) was having a little sun hat and I think I saw one with sunglasses (and NOT I have not been drinking anything else than water!)). Have reached Cais de Sobrés, which is the station where we took the tram to get home on Friday… Now I know we could have run instead 😛 More running. A bit of people now, and it is feeling really foggy. Not that the fog is low and visibility zero, but it is so extremely grey and feeling almost that the skies are not existing at all. That we are running on a road painted in a city painted and that somehow the canvas behind the painting is actually grey. Yapp…still wandering mind. Have caught up the gal before me with the Garmin singlet. OK, this one I won’t let her go. Hearing the cheering from Olivier A from the RIL race, but then there were only a few km left. Now we are having 9 or so. Everything can happen! The turning point is slightly before km13, so when I start seeing the runners from the front on the other side of the road, I stop swearing on the stupid cobblestones we are now running on. SO NOT FAIR! I was getting in a very good pace before this. Now I have to actually LOOK where I am setting my feet. Focus is as well on trying to spot the number of gals passing on the other side of the road and how far I am from them (or rightly said: how far before me they are…). Seeing the first guy and the second one, very close to each other. Probably 2-3km before me then (and if it is wrong, I’ll blame my mathematics ability being down when I run…cannot focus on everything!), then a pack of few runners….and another one…and more male runners…where are the females?!?!? And here comes one. Almost missing her! She runs so extremely easy and nice. OK. One before me. Plus the Garmin lady. That means two. And there was another one before the Garmin lady, who had disappeared from sight after km8 or so. Which means three. Must be a bunch of chicks in the middle surely….I thought… Have passed to km12 and getting closer to the turning point when I see the second gal. Hmmm I think. Isn’t it the one before the Garmin lady? And here I see the turning point and the Garmin chick before me and I am turning then (well… I am WALKING to get this done. Because I am so close to the pavement in the middle and surrounded by guys, that it is just impossible to run. Here goes the precious seconds for sub90 I thought. Screw the time! Get the place now (as Olivier had said wisely three months ago. So I listen to this little voice and accelerate a bit). Focus focus focus while running on the cobblestones again. Heading towards the pavement, slippery but better than the stones. Km13 is beeping at…4:09?!?!? With this walking part?!?! Aaaaahhh if only we would have run straight and on asphalt… happy still to have this pace at this moment in the race and not feeling any fatigue. Focus. Focus focus. Just.Don’t.Fall. When I hear my name on the other side of the road! Jesper has been catching up with me! Yoohoo! Raising the hand, hopefully I smiled too. Great boost to the strengths…if only we were running on pavement! Have lost my “White singlet and great smile” since Cais do Sobré, but “Clube Vodafone” is still around. The Garmin lady is a few meters in front of me. Trying to run on the grass but it feels that I will probably break my ankle there so I go back to the stones. Please please please make them stop! Finally the turn left back on the pavement: I know I have slow down very much. But the watch is indicating an even faster pace. Km 14 completed in 4:03… OK. Shoot! There is only 7km to go and one place on the podium to win (or loose…). Tactic is going back and forth in my head. Better to pass the girl now and hope she won’t catch up afterwards or better to keep in her feet and be to the mercy of HER pace and still hope she will crash at the end and that at the same time I will have an extra boost of energy to pass her before the finish line… Passing km15 mark and “Clube Vodafone” is on my side and smiling to me 🙂 and saying something encouraging (I guess, because I do not understand what he is saying). And there…comes…another km15…with a mat… Eeeeeeehhhh what?!?!? I passed it already! Like 500m earlier. Starting to doubt fully on my watch, on my sight having seen km15 when it must have been km14…and really starting to despair that I am one more km further from the finish than I thought… L Not fun at all. Have taken a water bottle which I empty to the half as usual, drink a little and throw the rest on my head. Time to wake up! Especially if I start mixing the km-marks and hallucinating in thinking I am one km further than where I actually am! I see the bridge ahead soon. And the more than welcome km16 is arriving. The bridge means 2.2km to home, which is 1.5km to the start which is 200m to the finish. Good with some maths to occupy the head now. And surely this means I’ll see E soon. Thinking at the same time that I might miss him if I am running faster than what I said and that he misses the meeting point…Nooooo not a chance I am faster than expected. By km14 my average pace had dropped to 4:10 and I even see briefly a 4:11… (WHY am I looking at my watch while running? I don’t know…) But in front of me the Garmin lady is showing clear signs of fatigue and hole on the side. She is holding herself pretty badly. OK. What was the plan then? I try to keep a close distance with her, but “Clube Vodafone” is having a better pace for my taste and we are passing her. Now I just have to keep this pace or faster and hope she won’t catch up with me. Good. I feel warm and have lifted my singlet for getting a bit of air on my bare stomach. Nice! But not really comfortable with the HR pulseband. Which is dropping a bit from time to time. We.are.underneath.the.bridge! Would have been nice to be ON the bridge and running or even being in San Francisco and running on the real and original bridge, rather than under its Portuguese copy. But fast is disappearing those thoughts. I want this to finish. I am not tired. I have to get tired. I get my final gels in the back of my sport bra. Stupid place AGAIN. Cannot reach them at all! Pulling from the back and finally getting them out. Yellow one first. Don’t even recognize the taste. Don’t’ care. Just focus and run. Look in front of you. NOBODY! (well, this means “NO LADY IN SIGHT”!). Run run run. And a guy is passing me and “Clube Vodafone”…and on his footstep…Noooooooo! The Garmin lady! She has recovered. I press myself directly behind her and run (dangerously close) in her footstep. Red gel. Can’t remember where, when, how I got it to my mouth, but I know I did. She is just there. Not 50, not 30, 2 meters in front of me! This is really mocking me, right? And I see she is actually tired, but the guy is pushing her very hard. I see my lovely cheering squad on the side and push even more. The power of a smile is NOT to be underestimated! “Clube Vodafone” is keeping up with me and the pace has increased, I know it. The gal in front of me has now taken a bit more distance. Her friend is even looking back for checking where I am (I don’t know that for sure…but I am pretty sure of it!). And there right before km20 happens something cool, VERY cool… A guy that was in front of us comes back (!), exchange a few words with “Clube Vodafone” and the little I understand is that it is about me (I understand “fourth” and “woman”, they cannot be talking about the weather!). The guy is passing behind me (!) and set himself on my right side and explaining that the finish is close (well, this is what my mind think he is telling me). He is definitely there for me (and if in reality he is not, well… nope. This is the reality. He came back for me). We are getting close to the start area. He is showing me with his hand where the arrival is. OMG! I just want so much to stop and pee! Perfect timing! Less than 500m to go! Turn right and getting to the final stretch. Gosh this is just crazily empowering: I cannot hear the crowd (which I know is cheering), I cannot see “Clube Vodafone” any longer. I feel only my new friend on the side. I just want this to be finished and actually feel TIRED at the end! Passing the first mark to the end, then I see the clock. It shows 1:27:xx. NOT A CHANCE I LET IT TURN TO 1:28! Push push push, Not sure I am smiling but at least I think I am. And pushing my stop button on my watch. D.O.N.E!!!

AFTER THE FINISH LINE

Daring to give a look on my watch…1:27:47!!! (looked twice actually!!!). The Garmin gal is hardly recovering her breathing, bent over the fence, looking to her feet. I try to congratulate her, but get no response. SHE is tired. I feel indecently fit, after 21.1km and the final sprint to the finish line. Smiling J I turn left and fall into the arms of a cameraman and another guy. Congratulate me and ask if I can say a few words. Not realizing really what is happening, I find myself holding a mic in front of a camera and telling the World (well, the cameraman and the other guy at least) how much fun I had during the race. Great! Feeling that the sweat is coming now. The whole outfit is wet. Getting cheering from guys passing by, some I recognize other I don’t. I just smile. I made it. Under 90 minutes. I knew I could. I knew the body was ready. No pressure. No pushing (apart from final stretch to the finish as usual). I can do another one right now!

Getting my nice medal, my after race little bag, walking towards the meeting point to get E. Soooo happy to see him. He even accept a hug despite the sweat! Nice pic in front of the museum and back to the massage tent. Get a ticket…30 numbers to wait. Enough time to strip from my sweaty race gear into dry shorts and singlet, clean socks and slightly more comfy running shoes. Niiiice! We check the arrival of the other runners then, hoping to see Jesper’s arrival. He thought about 1:50, but I feel that way under is more likely. We see the clock ticking. No Jesper. After 2:00, we decide we have missed him and text. Then I hear my name (!) on the speakers… What? Who is calling me? I am heading to the podium and yes! I am actually called for the age category podium! Yooohooo! Oh my! Where is E? I just went and hope he would come along. And here he is. Smiiiiiiling big! Cool to get on the podium, nice trophée and flowers. And the sun is showing itself too! Meeting Jesper finally. Back to the massage tent. Getting a 20 (twenty!) minutes massage. Nothing really relaxing, but soooo worth the wait!

Podium9

Nice podium 🙂

Summary? Very surprised by the outcome, especially considering the low expectations set after the rehearsal run the day before. No fast and furious. Felt well-disposed, no easy-peasy pace, but decent and comfortable. Body felt good (apart from a slight ache around km8 which I summon to keep quiet!), mentally feeling good and strong, enough for actually accelerating during the last 8km stretch. The weather was not what I expected (18ºC and sunny) but was better for the race (9ºC and foggy!). Definitely not an “all-in” race. Felt that strengths were left at the end. Mind very focused. Music in the ear helped (?) to keep the pace steady probably. Still wondering a bit if I could have got sliiiiightly faster at the end for skipping those 10seconds separating me from the Garmin lady, but this I will never know. Give a double distance and something can definitely be done at the end! 😛

Great race. And definitely what was needed to finish a 2015-year with a pretty crappy start. Great finish! Gladly seeing the legs kept on moving and the mind kept on focusing. Just what was needed for this day!

***********

Weather: 8.9ºC, Feels like 8.9ºC, 5 kph NE wind, Humidity 100% – definitely good conditions for running. Foggy and no visibility at start, mostly grey during the run and definitely humid in the air throughout the run. Sun shining after the race was highly appreciated!

Food: 8:00am green mix + red juice and orange juice + banana + croissant/bricoche + mint tea&honey // right after the race: 1 apple, 1 water bottle, 1 little sport drink, 1 tea // 60min later (?): late lunch (veal, rice and potatoes, coke)
During: Dextrosol 2 at start and 1 at km4. km9+ grey gel + little water // km17+ – yellow gel and a bit after red gel // water at almost every 5K water-station (zipping more than drinking)

Gear: SWE hotpants and singlets, arm sleeves pink, sunglasses. Shoes were just OUT.OF.THIS.WORLD! Light and fast, comfortable and steady. Just what was needed! Loving them!

Shoes: ADIDAS AdiZero Adios Boost purple (Swifty) : 1st race and what a race! Those are fast shoes and really glad I have them onboard!

14/ Cannot tell the effort level was very high. It was decent throughout the race. Even the first 2km were (thanks to adrenaline quick from the start…) not reaching much more than a 12-13. Never really reached a 15-effort level, not even at the end where it felt that there were anyway strengths left, so as good to use them. Great use of the strengths. Definitely easier than RIL and the other races this year. Probably felt “easier” on the effort level than the last long run done the week before the race.

***************
AFTER THE RACE

Walking easy towards home. Chatting without stopping until the restaurant for eating late lunch. Then leaving Jesper and heading back to buy Pasteis de Belem (no queue!) and then back home finally. Loooooong hot well-deserved shower. Massage (again) with cold after-race cream. Freezing for the hours following. Sitting on the sofa in front of Xmen –movie and resting the legs up. Later in the evening, went to the centre of Lisbon for celebrating with Jesper & his wife. Great restaurant, great meat, wonderful dessert and even a little wine to get with the dinner. Final hugs before we move towards our bus stop…to see our bus leaving. 27 minutes to wait for next one… E and I decided to walk back home then…the six km that separated us from the centre of the city. Great exercise after running a half-marathon in the morning! Perfect finish of the day! Tired after that? For sure!

A few “after-race thoughts”

NOTE: warmup? FINALLY! Could have a decent warmup before a half-marathon race and still start with a good spot close to the start line. Thanks for great advice to Olivier A once again!

NOTE: Corral change at the pickup of the BIB? Great to have negotiated to move from group “no colour” to “grey colour” (which was 1:15-1:30). It felt a bit cocky to ask for this group at the moment, but it was definitely the correct one!

NOTE: gel in the back of the sport bra? Not working this time. Have to work on this…again!

NOTE: Energy intake during half-marathon… well, don’t know if that was really needed. But I really wanted to feel a difference from “this is a normal long run” and “this is a race”. Not sure it helped (apart from the kick at the end, which could definitely have come from the adrenaline kick of being close to the end or the cheering from the guy at the end. Who knows!)

NOTE: Shoes are just to be kept. Should probably order a bunch of them before they disappear from the market!

 GREAT RACE TO FINISH THIS YEAR!

(and a few seconds of fame… here…24minutes and 25seconds into the movie…)