In 2018 I decided to run the Snowdonia marathon and thought that a 30k trail-ish race 4 weeks ahead was the perfect last long run. It worked ok so in 2019 I decided on the same combo. In the weeks before Lidingöloppet, as the race is called, I had been running great. I had managed both a 5k PB and a 10k PB so I had great hopes of managing my sub 4-hours at Lidingö. However, I was not feeling great the two weeks ahead of the race. Nothing major but it felt like a cold was lurking so I cut back on the running to try and stop it. It kind of worked because I didn't get sick but I also wasn't getting much better so I had to change my plan for the race to "finish the bloody thing".
I didn't even feel all that well when I woke up at my friends place on the Saturday morning 28 September, but I'm not the one who backs out so in the car we went. My friends who supported me last year was doing half the race, 15k, which started a few hours before my race so it was quite a long day. First we walked about 2 km to the start, and then I walked back to cheer them on before picking up lunch at the car to eat while I waited. Mattias, who some of you have met at parkrun and London Marathon, did a quick finish so I didn't even make it to the finish before he did. But we met up and then went to cheer on Malin while I had my lunch. =)
She did a great race and finished well ahead of what she expected but at this point it had started to rain a little. Not what I wanted. I still wasn't feeling the mojo and I had a little voice in my head telling me that maybe I should DNS when I wasn't feeling well. But of course I didn't listen to it and we made the long walk once again to the start. I had done my 10000 steps before I even started the race and I had 30 k to run. =)
I went in to my start pen, the rain was still coming down so the first bit was to be a bit muddy since it's on grass. I started at the back and tried to keep a comfortable pace but it was not that easy since people ran and walked all over the place and my heartrate was a bit up and down.
I knew it was going to be tough and I just wanted to finish so I kept my head down and plodded on. Walked the hills and ran down as much as I could. Even in the beginning there were quite a few people out around the course, I especially remember an old lady sitting on a bench cheering everybody on. Lovely!
After about 8k I had got to see my friends again, now the rain was more or less pouring down so my feet were wet and my clothes too of course. But I didn't tell them how miserable I felt, I just smiled and waved and kept on running. About half a mile later there was a runner who had collapsed right next to the course. People were already helping him/her and I could hear the emergency service was on it's way so I kept on running, but again I questioned my decision to run when I wasn't feeling well.
The bit between 10 and 20 k is the "easy" bit of this race, it's undulating but no major hills. People kept passing me but I managed to stay at my pace and do my thing instead of rushing to get it done sooner. I passed half way in 2:01, pretty much on track for 4 hours but I knew it wouldn't last, the second half is tough.
Lidingö is one of the islands that make up Stockholm so you are almost always close to water on this race, and there are some really nice views here and there. Just before 20k you get that after a short but steep hill and you can also hear the speaker at the finish because you are about to pass very close by. Here I met my friends again and as I was starting to get cold and knew there would be a lot of walking in the last 10k I asked for my jacket and a dry buff and dry gloves. After that I felt a bit better and jogged out on the last 10k. It starts with a pretty bad hill and I was getting frustrated because I passed people in every hill, my walking was good paced, but on the running bits they passed me because I couldn't run as fast as I wanted. I also passed 20k in 2:50 so if I had been able to run properly I probably would have smashed that sub 4-hours. Even more frustrating.
There are a few cut offs and when I passed the last one I was super happy, I would get to finish. The worst two hills were still to be beaten but at least I had time to do it. Now it was mostly a matter of finishing before it was too dark.
It is interesting to be at the back of the race, the people there are different from the super fast ones that just want to run as fast as possible. At the back people talk to each other, even if they are just passing they say something encouraging, and some have longer conversations. I heard a conversation between two tired gentlemen, the first one said something like "why do we do this, it's just awful" and the other one agreed. Then the first one asked if he had done the race before and the other answered "well yes, this is my 26th one". The first ones reaction was priceless "oh wow, you are just super stupid aren't you?". And then they started talking about why they were there and it was so nice to hear their stories.
Darkness was starting to fall, in my mind and around me. The course have lights though so when they turned on I knew I was much slower than last year. I didn't want to look at my watch at all at this point, the km-markers told me all I needed to know (how far it was left to go). After the last hill, Karins hill (they all have names), I knew it was close. I could hear the speaker again and just a few turns later I was coming down to the finishing straight. It wasn't all dark yet so managed to run on the grass and not twist my ankles. It had to take all the energy I had left to make that final sprint, there was nothing left when I passed that finish line. I was on my way to the medics for a check up but there was a queue and I just went to get my medal and find my friends instead.
I was freezing so much, soaked to the skin, and the only hot drink left at the finish was coffee, which I don't drink, and I didn't feel like showering in a cold tent even if the water was hot, so we made our way back to the car to go home instead.
I was so drained of energy, so disappointed with how the race went, and I was worried that I had made some damage to my body by running when I wasn't well. But after some food and a hot shower at my friends place I felt a bit better. I finished 15 mins slower than last year, not bad considering how much I had to walk. We learn something from every run, every race, and from this one I learned that I was good at walking hills now. Good thing to know before Snowdonia. Now all my focus was to make it to Wales feeling better than this, and how that went you will know in the next blog. =)
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