So saturday 26th April 2014 was race day. Fabulous spring weather of 13 degrees, bright sunshine and a light breeze. The race itself, Woman’s Health Halvmarathon was held on a small island in Stockholms centre – Djurgården, which also houses Skansen their outdoor museum (I would have ran faster if e bears had escaped maybe)’ and a few other things like that. There were suppsed to be 2500 participants, but of that only 1900 or something showed up, but 98% completed, which is awssome. they had a time limit of 2 hours 45 minutes, which I was a bit scared of in the begining, but wasnt really an issue, plus the last lady came in around 2:55 so they weren’t strict about it, which was nice.
The race itself was two laps around the island (Djurgården) with the first being around 9km, and the second slightly longer at 12km. It’s a very very flat route, pretty much at sea level, with one slight hill around 5km on the first ‘varv’, 15km on the second (we’ll get to why I mention that later). They had water/energy points nearly every other km, with the first around 2km just after Skansen. They served water, isostar lemon, banana at one point and some energi bar thing later on.
My friend came up to race with me, so we met at our house and travelled in on public transport, something to love about living in a big city like stockholm. We made it to the start area about an hour before it began, plenty of time to have a wee (important!) have a last minute shoe crisis (minimalistic nike free 5.0 or 5fingers, the 5fingers won), then hand in the bag and go warm up. With the race being small for swedish race standards, it felt lovely to warm up in a big happy group as the gym actic or something took the stage.
At 11:00 the starting gun went for the competion class, and the rest of us moved forwards to start at 11:05. As I was expecting a pace around 6:30min/km I went to find the 2:29 pace keeper, though ended up sticking with the 2:19 lady instead (As those on facebook might know I was struck with a cold 2 weeks prior to the race, which simply hasnt fully gone away -though I’m begining to suspect pollen may be to blame a little as it is terribad right now). We started, and the first km or so I was overtaking people as I tried to find ‘my speed’, also somehow around 2km overtaking the 2:29?!?! Pace keeper when I’d started with 2:19 (who came in perfectly to the second). At 2km, my first water point I took a cup and tried to run with it, but it was pretty bad. I can’t always hit my mouth when sat down stationary, so not exactly sure how I thought running was any better. I continued to try find my pace, but by 4km got stich, which took till around 7km to go away. Kept running and at some point realised my friend was just 10people ahead – at which point I thought “bugger I’ve really gone too fast” so stuck to the people around me and their tempo for the rest of the lap.
The first lap felt long, but also fine – my playlist was on loudly – the surroundings were beautiful, and I could just lose myself in e moment. It felt good to be running beside people, with people. Water controls were a welcome pick up and I had no problems with the isostar lemon (risky,I know). By 10km I started ovetaking again. i’d already lost my friend again (turns out the daywas really against her and her stomach was not impressed) bohemian rhapsody came on around 12km, and I suspect ladies who were used to 10km races were losing pace. i went too far though, and at 15km and the only little hill in the whole darn race, I hit my wall.
I tried reciting arteries, how the pacemaker cell in the heart works, all of that, I was still running, but pace was down, I was being overtaken, my legs were tierd – my feet starting to hurt, I could tell there was a blister on my second toe forming (my feet arent really the right shape for 5finger running). Then a song came on my playlist – Less than Jake, a song that reminds me of my aunt who passed away a few years ago, and while everything still sucked – I knew I was going to get through it. The spotify playlist gods shone down on me and gave me two more calmer tracks (maybeshewill -he plays the stars pt2 and massive attack – teardrop) then kicked me back up the ass with some Aquabats! – The Legend is True!, 16-18km came and went, along with the final water stop.
The last 2km was a zig zag across a large openspace, where you could see the finish (and also a wee hill). That little tantalising moment made me realise that it was in the bag – up with the pace out with the frown, in with the shit eating grin and all of a sudden, boom. 21098m done. I thought I sprinted at the end, but looking at the footage I ran like a bloody gremlin. Once through the finish we were rewarded with a cool glass of cider, banana, water, and recieved our finishers bracelet – a pearl bracelet with silver plate with the marathon name and year.
When I got to the zig zag, I’d hoped to see my friend so we could maybe finish together, but couldnt see her. So after I was done I made my way to the finish line to cheer her (and peoeple on). I think the swedes may have thought I was potty though! Once she finished, we met my friends who had come to cheer me on, then went to the finishers tent for afternoon tea. Though swedes fail at scones, it was an awesome experience.
I’m still on a runners high, just hoping that I don’t do something silly and sign up for loads of races now!!!