The weather during Göteborgsvarvet couldn't have made for a better metaphor for my inner turmoil today. First the skies were grey and heavy, then the clouds scattered and the sun shone brightly.
I was nervous the whole morning. I couldn't concentrate and complained to J about the late starting time of the race. What am I to do while I'm waiting? I tried reading but my mind kept wandering off. I had a bad feeling about this. I considered staying at home with my book instead.
|I tried to visualise myself running here at the end of the race. Didn't help.|
As the time drew nearer, I got ready and took the bus to Slottsskogsvallen. I went there a bit earlier thinking I'd catch the winners (who had started about an hour earlier) crossing the finish line. There were people everywhere, and everyone seemed to be walking towards me. It was like trying to wade through honey. I snapped some photos on my phone and then went to the bag drop-off. I looked at the dark skies and wondered if I'd need to take my bag, with some extra clothes in, with me. Decided against it.
|The queues to the toilets were long.|
|Did someone say this was like a party?|
My stomach was filled with butterflies. No, scratch that. It was filled with Hitchcock's Birds, all furiously throwing themselves against my stomach's walls, screaming shrilly and taking bites out of my innards. I knew I was going to fail, I just knew it. What was I thinking, trying to run a race with a runner's knee? Then I ran into some people I know and got distracted. My inner balance was restored. When I went to my start group, I even ran into AKA. Not only is she as lovely in reality as she seems on her blog, but she did a great job keeping my mind off the Herculean task ahead.
The sky had cleared now and I had to take off my jacket and tie it around my waist. We were off. My nerves had given way to adrenaline and my legs desperately wanted to run. And run they did. Through Slottsskogen, past Majorna and over the Älvsborg bridge, they ran. Zigzagging through walkers that didn't keep to the right. I ran up hills, which felt only marginally harder than they used to when I trained a lot. And my legs never got tired; they just asked for more. Though I was hungry as hell.
My knee was calm and enjoying the race so far. Then around Lindholmen, after 11-12 km, it started protesting for no apparent reason other than that I hadn't put it through anything like this for 1,5 months. I stopped to get some water and walked while I drank, then started running again. When I got to the Götaälv bridge, the protests went away. Just like that. Uphill was better for my knee, and it was going to be uphill for several kilometres now.
There was a large crowd in the main road of Gothenburg, Avenyn, but most of them didn't make a sound. Or maybe I was too focused on not colliding with other runners while zigzagging that I missed the cheers. But once we got to Götaplatsen, the end of Avenyn and the point where we turned back to run down a part of it, the cheering resumed. I grabbed some water and ran while I drank, then a wet sponge that I squeezed over my head. So glad I was running in my T-shirt.
This was it. The final couple of kilometres. I glanced at my watch and realised I'd make this in under 2 hours if I kept the same pace. I pushed on, but now my knee was getting pretty loud in its complaints. It never hurt, but it wasn't happy. But I wasn't going to start walking now, when it had gone well so far and there were only 3 km left.
I was strong. I had stamina and strength reserves which I didn't know I had, or why, after missing so much training. I sprinted past the finish line. 1:56:xx (official result pending), my best time in Göteborgsvarvet and (I think) my second best ever. Not bad for someone who's had a terrible first half of the year, training wise. I met up with some other runners at a nearby bar for a quick recovery drink.
|After the finish line, the line for the medals|
Now I will have to take a few weeks off running, to let my knee heal properly. I needed this so much, for reasons I won't get into here. I am so happy right now I could burst.