Like a hungover frat boy, the words that are coming out of my mouth in the aftermath of Kungsbackaloppet are ”never again”.
It all started when I spent half an hour running around Kungsbacka asking strangers to find out where to pick up my bib, only to find out that it was exactly across the road from where I had left the car. Then I had to move the car, because the parking lot where I'd left it had a 3 hour limit and it was more than 2 hours left to the start.
Then the day got better. I met up with Anders and Martin from the group and had a pleasant hour or so chatting about running, shoes, races and other nerdy things like that. My mood got better. It got so much better that I forgot my pre-race sandwich in the car. My last meal at the time of the beginning of the race was consumed no less than 5 hours before. I ran the whole race on an empty stomach.
That wasn't a problem during the first half of the race. I had the wind on my back and I knew that I wasn't the last runner (which was my goal with this race – to not finish last). I glanced at my Garmin after a couple of kilometres. It showed I had been running for 18 minutes. 2 kilometres in 18 minutes? I cursed under my breath. I had taken my pulse last night and forgotten to reset the clock. I had no idea how I was doing time-wise.
As I reached the half way point in Lindome and turned to run back towards Kungsbacka, I started suffering from the effects of my empty stomach. My energy weaned. I was now running against the wind. And my cold made my chest feel heavy. I was miserable. I somehow managed to keep my speed under 6 min/km and my feet moving. When I was 5 km away from the finish, the Partille angel appeared before me, once again helping with the drinks. I told him I was tired. The halo around his head shone brightly, his magnificent white wings spread wide and he said with a thunderous voice: ”What the hell! It's not even 5 bloody kilometres left!”
I would very much like to say at this point that I got a second wind. That my determination gave me the boost that I needed. But the truth is that it was pure, unadulterated stubbornness that carried me to the finish. One foot in front of the other. Plus, how else would I get to the car? The road seemed to go on forever. I don't know where the last drops of energy came from. But suddenly I was crossing the finish line, and at the same time I was getting a text message on my phone saying I had run the race in under 2 hours. Yey!
The booty from the race. Some blister bandages, shower gel, body lotion and a plaque.
I crawled to the car, wolfing down a banana and taking huge sips from my juice. I was starving, I was depleted, I was fading away. As the sugar hit me I started feeling better. I had just run the oldest half marathon in the world. But never again. Not until next time, anyway.