Monday, September 29, 2014

RACE REPORT: Lidingöloppet

There are times when things just don't go to plan and for Lidingöloppet, this was one of those days.

At the beginning of the week all was on track, a nice and easy cross country run on Sunday, a very easy cross-trainer Monday and an easy leg stretch on Tuesday lunchtime. The second half of the week though was not as good. A somewhat stressful time at work, headaches on Wednesday, stomach cramps on Thursday and Friday and generally poor sleep but I was hopeful all would be fine at the start on Saturday lunchtime.

My stomach still wasn't 100% on Saturday but we drove to Lidingö under blue skies and in long traffic queues on Valhallavägen. This'll be the last time to sit in the traffic above ground on the way to Lidingö as they'll open the tunnel later in the year.....and I'll be running through that on 22nd November as part of the 10km Tunnel Run

Weather was sunny but windy. In the shade it was rather chilly but in the sun rather sweaty, rather good conditions to run in. Myself and the family took the 1700m walk from Lidingövallen to Koltorp where the start is and started to join the other 20,000 runners who would take part. 

Standing on the start line in Group 2 I thought I was prepared for the 30 km ahead but little did I know that after nearing 2 km the fate of my race would be almost decided. The first km sailed by and all felt OK, not too quick, tried to keep to the path as much as possible, kept to an even steady pace and made sure I made the left turn where the mass of people come to a bottleneck without issue. But my HR was high and climbing and already my legs started to feel heavy. Slow down, relax and drop the HR I thought to myself, but no matter the pace, my HR remained high and I was already struggling. "Not good!" I thought.
As the track wound back towards Lidingövallen I met the family cheering me on. If it wasn't for them coming along, I would have walked back to the car there and then and called it a day. But my stubbornness and with Team Form's motto to "never give up" ringing in my ears I decided to push on and evaluate some more, hoping in vain that I could lower my HR and suddenly all would be well again. Km after km passed by and it wasn't getting any easier. I was finding myself walking the hills to try and keep a lower HR but with legs that didn't want to walk let alone run. I kept telling myself that after 12 km it's almost all downhill to Grönsta (albeit with many little inclines and declines about 5km further on).

I tried to enjoy the views instead, knowing that any hope of a good finish time had long gone but I wasn't even enjoying those. At just over 20,1 km and 1:55 of running, where the track passes the point where you'd finish 9.9 km further on, I took the very, very tough decision to stop the race. I was exhausted. I had made the final decision around 18-19 km when I couldn't maintain a pace downhill yet something inside of me still willed me to take a bulle, a banana, a salta gurka and a few cups of sport drink and progress onwards. But today the head was strong, having nothing to prove by dragging myself to 30km in what I predict would have been somewhere between a 3:00 and 3:15 finish time I live to race another day.

It was clear that I had some kind of virus which had not left my system and which left me without energy and contributed to a high HR. But it happens, I'm not at all despondent about it, there are always other races, other goals, other days to train and compete. Sure I'm disappointed not to finish but I think I would've been more so if I'd finished properly and not met my goal for this year.

So now what? 1 week of good rest and then start again to train hard towards finishing off the year in a good way for Tunnel Run. It's been a great year so far with 2 personal best times in 10km races in April & May, an improved time in Knivsta Duathlon, a successful Åre Extreme Challenge, a first time finish in Cykelvassan 90 km and a 12yr best half marathon time in Stockholm 2 weeks ago. There's plenty there to be positive about so one result is not something to dwell upon.

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