Category: Ultra training


After London I wanted an autumn challenge to keep me running. First thought had been the Winter marathon which goes in November, but after a few recommendations I decided on Sörmland Ultra – a 50km terrain ultra that runs mostly on the first part of the Sörmlandsleden (Stockholm’s version of the Pennine Way if you will).

I’ll be honest in that my training prior had been my usual 3-4 runs a week including a few trail runs where I found far too many mushrooms for them to be effective (though good for my mood), and a couple of runs around 25km, with the Stockholm half marathon a month prior.  I didn’t really have any goal other than taking myself to the finish line, though I thought it would take 6-7 hours to get there (haha).  I was therefore rightly quite nervous in the leadup and on the morning of the race.

My usual race breakfast is seedy filled museli and yoghurt with plenty of coffee on the side (for getting my insides moving reasons ;-)), but this time I went for peanut butter on toast and lashings of coffee – it didn’t quite have the same effect, though my stomach held for the entire day (including drive home) so I honestly can’t complain. After breakfast it was time to go for the bus, which left Huddinge at 8:18. I’d cut catching it pretty fine, and ended up jogging down to Huddinge (more km, go me!). The bus and the tunnelbanana journey was pretty uneventful aside from the fog meaning I got a bit lost in Skarpnäck  or whatever that place was called – thanks to googlemaps for setting me straight.

When I got off the tunnelbanana in Bjorkhägen I saw a couple behind me, the girl dressed similarly to me – which made me wonder if they also were going to be running – on the way out of the station I managed to pluck up the courage to ask them whether they were running the ultra, and which way it was to the start – and yes, she was running and there were signs and people directing us to the start – woohoo. We got chatting as we walked along to collect our numbers, and it turned out that we had similar goals in mind (finishing, and smiling!) so at some point along the way of collecting numbers and getting changed we decided to stick together.  We met Elin (of pink-haired runstreak fame) and Kajsa Berg (Huddinge AIS of awesome running ability and 10 month old twins fame!) in the changing rooms, and then on the way to the start I bumped into another lady I’d met through instagram.

Everyone at the start line was trying to stay warm in the sun (it was quite cold!), but also seemed really cheery and friendly – which was nice. The start was delayed 15minutes, but it seemed like seconds passed till it was time to run!  At that point I definitely was trying not to think about how long we were about to set out for- I was mostly amazed at the number of people in shorts.

The first bit was a loop around the woods, as we got settled into running we chatted a bit about what we did, what an environmental engineer (I think that was it anyway!) did and random things, the first part of the race was a bit confusing as there was another race in the area the same day – but aside from a couple of bloopers we found our way, and met another lady – who had helped remove the markers the year previously – which was definitely a bonus in knowing the route! And so we were three.

The company definitely kept me going, especially the first 17?km before we reached the first checkpoint – the going was quite slow on the trails, but time was flying somehow.  At the first checkpoint we met a few more runners (most were I guess way ahead of us), and were offered fine delights such as peanuts, gherkins and cinamon buns – with coffee or energy drink (plus firemen!) after a brief pause we continued on our way.

Sörmlandsleden is really beautiful I have to say. At around 20km we climbed a steep rock face and were met with the most beautiful views over a lake, there was another bit (not sure how far in!) where there were really pretty waterfalls, and another where there was a bridge over a lake – simply stunning views.

After the first checkpoint, they came more frequently – every 8-9km if I remember correctly, with the last two checkpoints pretty close to each other (and the end) – this made it a little easier to fathom and split up, though the part around 30km where we were mostly on ass-phalt or tracks was pretty boring. Luckily the company more than made up for it, and while my feet and body were getting tired, my head was (aside from a headache that I think was due to brain-freeze) in a good place, that I’m certain it wouldn’t have been in if I had been alone.

Just prior to 40km we came to the energy station we had been dreaming of – the one that had CRISPS! That was amazing, we’d been talking about crisps quite a bit by that point (I think we were probably getting sick of sweet energy drinks etc) and while the gherkins and peanuts were awesome, we were ready for some new deliciousness to take us further.

It was awesome to reach 42km and know that every step I took beyond that was a record for me, by that point we’d been on our feet for over 6 hours – so even that was a record! Though other than meeting more ASS-phalt and also a mosquito down my throat the bit to Rudan, where we did our final few km was a bit of a walk-run-ouch blur!

Once at Rudan, there was the last energy station before the finish line, and there was homebrew IPA, which definitely dulled the pain of the final few hills round Rudan – which one of my co-runners accurately described as ‘kinda like those half-pipe things they have at tough viking’ geez – I’m not sure I could have ran up them if I wasn’t tired out.  The light by this point was also dull – Memories of running around there have an almost dream like quality (including singing ‘we are the champions’ and ‘like a virgin’). At some point we realised we didn’t have that much time till max time (8 hours), but I’m not sure how much we sped up – I think those I was running with could have gone faster, but I was pretty much empty.

We crossed the line 7hours 53minutes after we started – exhausted but happy. It still feels pretty surreal, but it also feels good – the event itself was very well organised – everyone was super friendly and helpful.  I definitely want to run it again and see if I can improve my time (there are people who must seriously fly).

 

 

Firstly I’m sorry Mr T, you’re looking enthusiastic on the internets.

Saturday was awesome, and I’m still on a runner’s high from it.  That being said it wasn’t easy – and there’s a few things that I’m really really thankful for (gosh this has a bit of an oscar acceptance speech about it):-

Mr T, for not minding that I went off chasing dreams of sub2 – and much advice/listening to me babble on for weeks about whether I was going to do it or not, if it was even remotely possible, et. al.

The in-laws for hanging with the kids  – THANK YOU!

A post from fit and feminist  about learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable. It struck a chord with me right after London Marathon and last week on reading again, it stuck with me through the race and helped me through a nasty stitch.

and finally a bizarre one – Dr Quench whom in letting me know that I needed to only intake 250ml water/drink during the race (he offers personalised plans based on factors unique to you, and the race conditions) made my whole water station stress (see Stockholm Half) a distant memory.

So we arrived in Göteborg on the Friday, stayed in an absolutely awesome hotel (Clairon Post, right outside central station) and managed to take the tram to get our numbers without any fails.

Saturday morning we met briefly with some friends who were also running, I grabbed a sandwich, then we set off down to the start. The race itself is the biggest half marathon in the world, and thus has quite a few start groups. We’d won places from our work – and so were starting quite early on in group 7 (with estimated finish times of 1:40-1:50). With that in mind we settled ourselves in the back of the group and chatted with a friend. Till it was time to walk towards the start. The atmosphere was pretty laid back, yet tense – everyone raring to go, we hadn’t really especially warmed up before hand – I’m still of the thoughts that it’s a Half Marathon – I’ll be warmed up soon enough.

On the way to the start line I saw another friend, then boom! Over the start and we were off, the group had spread out quite a bit, so it wasn’t too crowded. The first few kilometres through the park were quite nice, lovely people cheering on the edges, and a great atmosphere. I will admit that I did have my headphones in pretty much the whole way around – I was very very excited about listening to music though for some unknown reason.

The first hills went off without a hitch, somewhere near the first bridge, I realised that when my pulse was around 180 (just into zone 5 and around 85% max) I was ‘comfortably uncomfortable’ and decided it was a good place to be for the rest of the race, which worked really well until stitch hit around 13km just before the second bridge.

I met a lovely lady around 10km, who was aiming for a similar time, and we talked a little for the next 3km (until said stitch), she helped me quite a bit in keeping going/pushing – I wish I’d seen her at the end to thank her – I hope she got a good time – when we parted company at the energy station she seemed to sprint off into the distance!

The second bridge was tough, I usually find I hit a wall around 10-15km, and Göteborg was no exception. I had some time in the bank though thanks to flying downhill after the first bridge, so dropping 10 seconds a kilometre turned out okay in the end.

I didn’t manage to get speed up again until there were only a couple of kilometres left. After the second bridge you go down onto the ‘avenue’ which is in the centre of Göteborg – so many many people, but it also a slight incline (thanks for that Göteborg) and quite tightly packed, which means you end up weaving if you want to try overtake, on top of that my feet had started being tired – and I was trying to avoid the nastier surfaces (a downside of five-fingers and having lots of ground feel).

Turning the roundabout at the top was a relief, though it was only brief as there was more incline before the end including another tight pedestrian bridge to take us back to the park, where a lot of people were walking and again I needed to weave to get past.

It opened up again in the park, and at 20-21km I changed my gps-watch view and saw that I still had just over 10 minutes left to get my much lusted after sub 2 hour race.  It was tough going, but I managed to find some energy and bursted off to the finish line. Running into a stadium to a finish is awesome, but also it feels as though one will never reach it – I dread to think how my form looked at that point, the last few km my heart rate had been reaching towards max, and once I had made it over the line I think I was close to max. I could hardly breath and was just hoping that the nurses didn’t think I was in trouble.

After catching my breath (and remembering to turn off my garmin) I gingerly texted the number to get my results (Garmin said 1:59:25 but I’d stopped it late, and at 21.35km – segments show my time as 1:58:38). I was utterly delighted to get my text – I’d finished in 1:59:15 – SUB 2!

I am overjoyed, especially as I did lose about 10 seconds a kilometre from 13-20km – I don’t at this point know really if I did go out too fast, or if it’s just to be expected that I’d slow down later in the race (no negative splits for me!) on the slow- incline. I feel happy that I had time in the bank and was able to blow away my demons, but overall even if I hadn’t got the time I’d wished for I feel like I did give the race my all, I did respect the distance this time, and I didn’t listen to my mind as much.

So yeah, wooo hoooo!

We did the mini-varv the next day with the kids (250m), though I carried Arthur for most of it.

Oh and I missed Eurovision. But I did eat a bloomin’ delicious burger. 😀