Race report - Lidingöloppet

Posted on: 04 Feb 2019

Long time no see, dear buzzers. I have a lot of catching up to do after this not so great autumn. So I hope to get a few race reports in here now, just to have them to look back at. 

In my last blog I was just about to do Lidingöloppet, a 30k trail-ish race. They call it trail but mostly it's quite wide paths in the woods, although a lot of up and down. I didn't have the best week leading up to it, it felt like I had a cold coming but on Saturday morning I woke up with no symptoms what so ever so I decided it was a go. 

I took the train to Stockholm, just for the day, so it was an early morning since the train takes just over 3 hours. The train was only for runners and it was not even close to fully booked so had lots of space and a nice, quiet ride to Stockholm. When we got there we had our own bus waiting for us, taking us to Lidingö, which is one of the islands Stockholm is located on. When we arrived (after the bus driver had to back around a roundabout because he made a wrong turn) mum was waiting there for me, with her friend who she was running with. They had collected their numbers and visited the expo, and now they got changed while I dashed to the expo to buy some shoes. I had already got my racenumber, they were delivered on the train so I could just pass the insanely long lines. 

I bought me nice shoes, a new flipbelt and a race shirt at the expo, and after that I got out, packed my bags (one for bag drop, one for coach team) and forced myself to eat a little more of my lunch. While I was shuffling down some pasta my dearest coach team arrived. Some of you met them at London marathon this year, they live close-ish to Stockholm so they decided to come and support me. Best friends ever, standing around in the woods on a cold and grey Saturday just to see me for a few minutes. 

The start area was 15-20 mins walk away from the race village and since mum started 10 mins ahead of me we decided to get going. A quick stop at a port-a-loo on the way and then we were at the start. Very well organized start procedure, only negative was that you had to be in your corral 10 mins before your start, after that the gate closed and you had to wait for the next one. So a bit of standing around before we finally got on our way. 
I had heard a lot about this race before, but the main talks is about the hills at the end. So I was prepared for  hills at the end. What people don't mention is that the first 10k also is pretty hilly, no super steep hills but still hills that I had to walk to save my legs. This meant I couldn't get a good stride going and it was a lot of stop and start the first bit. It felt like it could be a long day if it was like this the whole way. Just before 8k I saw my coach team for the first time. Happy hugs and a bit of grunting from me. But after this we got a flatter bit so I could get going in a good pace for a while. I knew I didn't have my best day but I passed half way bang on target, 2 hours. 

Of course I knew that the second part was supposed to be tougher so I kind of knew I would not be able to keep this pace for another 15k. But I still aimed for as close to 4 hours as possible. At 20k we passed the back of the finishing area, we could hear the speaker and everything, but we had to turn out in the woods again. A fairly steep hill here, but at the foot of it the coach team waited with crisps and coke! My favourite! They serve pickles at the energy stations, it's supposed to be good with the salt, but I prefer crisps. When I left my support team it started to rain a little. Not a lot but enough to make you feel a bit wet. =/ I thought that maybe this was the first of the two killer hills, but the signs said it was not. OK, so this one draind my legs of energy and it's not the worst one? Blimey, what is coming?? At least the hills and the fact the race is on an island we had some great views around the course.
What you might not think about when running is that running up hills also means you (almost always) have to run down hills as well. And running downhill can be just as challenging as up hill when your legs are tired. I started seeing people hobbling sideways down, and some even walked backwards. It looked very funny! I was glad my knees and thighs still allowed me to run down, or I would probably have fallen over and hurt myself. =) 

So where was that bloody hill everyone was talking about? Well, after 25k of course. Just when you start feeling the finish getting close they throw it in your face. I don't know what was worse, the hill that you couldn't see the end of, the fact that when you thought that you were at the top it continued for a bit more, or the loud music. I was a bit of a grumpy old lady at this point. A good thing though, I was not the only one walking at this point, I don't think I saw anyone around me who ran the thing, only a few that tried but they slowed to a walk sooner or later. As I said, you couldn't see the end of the hill, so I was a little disheartend when I reached the end of the trail path and came on some tarmac, but it was just a short bit because the hill continued for a little bit more. But that feeling when you got to the end, and could start running again was great! 

I knew my 4h goal was gone at this point, the walk up the hill was not fast enough and I knew one more was coming. At the same time, this race was to be considered as a long run as training for Snowdon, so it was good to remind myself that this was not my primary goal. And I could feel that I was in ok shape, at least I was not the one who walked backwards down the hills, I could still do a little skipping down so kept a bit of a pace there too. 

Another good thing with this race was that it is 30 km. At a marathon, this is where it starts, so when I had managed 26 k it was not a lot left to go. That gave me a bit of a boost to get it done as soon as possible. Finally, just after 28k I reached the last hill, Karins hill. (yes, most hills in this race has a name) It was steeper than the other one, but about 1 km long, but also there were less loud music. And it was closer to the finish so I really tried to speed walk it, figuring it was good Snowdon training. =) A lot of heads down around me now, even someone who cried out "what the hell is this??". Somehow I felt strong at the top of the hill, and decided to try and run the last bit to the finish. It was fairly easy running since it was a lot of downhill, and my legs still allowed me to push it a bit. 

It was a good feeling coming out of the woods and into the finish area. It was a wide finishing straight, so it was lots of space to sprint on. It was on grass so I was a little worried about the uneven surface, it would have been heartbreaking to twist an ankle or something at this point. About halfway to the finish my coach team stood cheering, which was great! And there it was, the finishline! I had done it! 4:14:09 was the official time, and I was very satisfied with that. Close enough to my goal, and lots of time that can be shaved of with more proper hill training in the legs. And what a great warm up for Snowdon, I think I might do the same next year! 

After finishing I got my lovely medal, and some warm blueberry soup which was delicious. It wasn't very warm and there was a bit of rain in the air so I was starting to feel cold very shortly after finishing.  I soon found my coach team who had my jacket and then we started walking to bagage area to find my drop bag. I also tried to call mum to see where she was, her bus home was leaving well before my train so I knew she was a bit in a hurry, but got no answer and I really wanted to see her before she had to go home. I could also see that she had finished just 15 mins before me (and also just 5 mins faster!), so that was a bit worrying, although I knew she had a grumpy ankle so that turned out to have caused her problems the last 10k. 
Finally I found her and her friend in the shower tents! They were hobbling a bit with their painful ankle and knee but in good spirits. So glad we managed to meet up! The shower tents was as expected a chilly evening in late September, blimming freezing cold, putting the feet down was not a nice experience! But the water was warm, so at least I felt a bit better after a shower and I put on all the clothes I had brought to get a lot of layers on.  Then it was a bit of a walk, maybe half a mile, to find the shuttle buses to the underground but they ran very smoothly so no issues there at all. My train home was to depart from the Stockholm central station, but I had lots of time so I could grab a burger while I waited. Also bought me some snacks for the train ride, it would be late before I got home so didn't want to sit hungry on the train. 

The journey home was very uneventful, everything went very smoothly. And as a bonus my dear hubby skipped his Saturday beer to be able to pick me up, I was very thankful that I didn't have to take the tram. It was a great day, and taking the train just for the day worked great, it saved me a lot of money and it was nice to wake up at home on Sunday morning. Need to remember that for next time. =) Because yes, I want to try and do better! 

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