Those who go by past achievements shall eat humble pie. It says so in the Bible.
The plan today was to run the WRT Sandsjöbacka trail marathon route. 44 km, or (plan B) stop after 35 km when we left the woods and got back to civilisation. This was to be an important training session. I need all the trail kilometres I can get in preparation for the 80 km of BUM (Borås Ultra Marathon) in May.
It all started off well. I packed my rucksack with water, warm clothes and snacks and ran to the bus stop. An hour later, I met up with D from the group in Kungsbacka. He guided us with some help from his GPS on roads I'd never been on before. I was already having a good time. Running through new places is like catnip for me. I just love it.
A persistent headwind accompanied us for the first 10 km. Then we were in the Sandsjöbacka nature reserve and it couldn't reach us. Birches, pine trees and spruces cast their shade on us, while stones, roots and low bushes did their best to trip us. At some point there was no trail to follow. Just tangled grass, twigs and shrubs (that concealed pockets of water) and jumping from stone to stone hopefully without breaking a leg. I stumbled and almost fell at least three times. I also almost lost an eye when a branch whipped me across the face. I got off easy, with just a burst vessel to show for it.
|One of the very few bits of trail that were easily run|
After some bushwhacking, we were back on track. Sandsjöbacka is hilly and technical, mostly single track, with only very short parts of the trail being easy enough to let you put your guard down and catch your breath. It was fun to run on trail, but it was hard work. Yet I had to bite the bullet if I wanted to run BUM. Upwards and onwards for 270 elevation metres. Some really beautiful metres.
|Up and away|
D led the way and it finally clicked in my brain that we weren't actually running just on the Sandsjöbacka trail, but on some lesser trails too. I was overjoyed (see above about running through new places). We took a wrong turn somewhere, but it was only a short detour and we got to see a lovely path.
|Where does it go?|
We got up to the plateau that overlooks the Sandsjö lake. Although I had been there once before, I was still struck by how beautiful and surreal this place was. In the summer, these are grazing grounds for cows and sheep, but now it was deserted. For some reason, it reminded me of the Swedish mountains, barren but still mesmerizing. My legs got some much needed rest from all the uphill running, but I could already tell that my strength was quickly running out.
I warned D that I was thinking about quitting when we got to the road that cuts through Sandsjöbacka nature reserve. He suggested we slow down instead, but I didn't think that it was going to help. We were already running very slowly. I was tired to my bones. Whether it was because I spent almost three weeks off my feet, sick, or because I hadn't run any trails since last autumn, I don't know. Maybe it just wasn't my day.
When we got to the road, I said goodbye to D and felt a pang of guilt for dropping out and leaving him to run the rest on his own. I slowly made my way to the bus a few kilometres away, jogging a bit, walking a bit. There was no energy left in my body now. I was gravely disappointed. My goal to run BUM seemed more and more like a pipe dream. Any confidence I gained after Skövde was gone. If I collapse after just 10 km of trail, how can I run 80?
|Not as pretty|
25 km later I crawled onto the bus that would take me home. Don't get me wrong. 25 km is not nothing, especially if you run them in good company and in such a wonderful environment. I had fun. But this was a test to see if I have it in me to run BUM, and, frustratingly enough, I failed. Maybe I need to rethink my goals for this season.