There is a race that takes place in Skellefteå every Tuesday for 7 weeks starting in April called ”Round the bridges”. As you can deduce from the title, there are bridges involved. Two bridges to be exact. And you run over them.
The race is 5 km long. Let me tell you why 5 km is not a good distance. Firstly, it's too short. It takes me 5 km just to get warmed up. Secondly, the shorter the distance, the faster you have to run.
Yes, yes, I know you don't have to run fast. There are other reasons why you'd want to participate in a 5 km race, as opposed to just going for an easy solo run. For example:
- You've never run 5 km before and you want to see if you can do it.
- You like running in a crowd.
- You lost a bet.
I, on the other hand, am one of those strange people who want to do well at races. I haven't always been like that. In fact, only a year ago I belonged in the group of people who like to enter races for the shiny medal everyone gets at the end of a race. A collector. I ran at a comfortable pace, safe in the knowledge that no matter how lousy my time was, I'd be rewarded for it. Nothing wrong with that, especially if you're a beginner, because completing a race is an achievement worth rewarding. I'm still like that when it comes to longer races, like marathons and ultras.
This went on until last year, when my times started getting better. I suddenly got hungry. I wanted to know how good I could get. I wanted to earn that medal. Even if I placed at the bottom of the result list, I'd be happy as long as I knew I'd fought for it and given it my all.
So I've been training hard with AIK. I've made such progress as I never thought was possible for me. But 5K and shorter races are still my Achilles' heel. I just can't learn to like the panicky warning signals my brain sends me during such races when it thinks it's going to die: ”Abort! Abort! Code red! No, really! *Blaring WW2 air-raid siren* You are going to die! Do you hear me? You are GOING TO DIE!”
My survival instinct is too strong, I guess. Also, I don't like vomiting. And there is no medal at the end of these particular races.
Yesterday evening saw the beginning of the yearly ”Around the bridges”-specific training series with AIK. During the first such session, the race course is divided in three parts and we run each one, then rest for two minutes before we attack the next part.
First part was like:
fly fly fly posture light forward fast almost there
Then, it was like:
hill heart oxygen lactic acid lean forward posture almost there
And then, it was like:
pain pain pain forward posture? oh screw posture fight fight FIGHT
One thought remained constant throughout the session. I didn't want to run any of the "Round the bridges" races.
When the session was over, I felt light. I had no tension left anywhere in my body, because I had no energy left to fuel any tension in my body. People talked to me and it was like I saw and heard them through a haze. My mind was completely devoid of thoughts. It was a strange sort of transcendence, a neutral state of being where neither positive or negative feelings existed. I just was.
Then I jogged home and looked at my lap times and got hungry for new personal records. I will be running the races.