One night every summer my part of Stockholm (Södermalm), becomes a circus with samba dancers, cover bands and ten thousands of runners when Midnattsloppet hits the streets. I’ve always despised that race since it’s to many runners in masquerade outfits and more of a street party than a race. But last year a couple of friends taht I run with who was gonna run so I joined them. And this year we were gonna make this into a tradtion.
Last summer I forgot to register in time so I had to buy an entry ticket on a auction website, I bught the ticket of the wife of swedens former minister of justice and had to run in a tight lady T-shirt. This year I also forgot to register but got in contact with a guy who couldn’t run so I ran as Anders Jacobsson. Unfortunally two of my friends called in sick and had to cancel the race in last minute.
But the remaing three, me, Jonas and Staffan, met at my place half an hour before the start for a shot of espresso and pep talk. Me and Staffan started in the first group (but in the back of that group) and Jonas in group two. After the coffee we warmed up with a jog to the start, around 1 k, in a light rain. When we entered the starting area with around 15 minutes to go before the start the warm up was in full swing with loud bad music and aeorobic instructors leading the warm up.
We were standing really far back in our start group but since we raced with chip times I didn’t care that much because people in our startgroup should run in a pace around what I was aiming for. So I took it a little easy till I reached the starting line but wasn’t prepared with all teh people cutting in front of me right after the line. Making me lose a lot of time in the beginning. After aroud 200 meters then I finally could run properly, but not quicker than a 4.50 min/km pace, I was really annoyed and thought I wouldn’t be able to run faster than an easy work out, and I felt really light and quick. After around 500 meters I saw a couple of guys running on the wrong side of the plastic tape that parted the race course from the traffic. i took after them and started to gain places and around the 1 k mark I passed Staffan who started just in front of me but got away much better.
I had to cross the tape a couple of times back and forth because to get out of the way of an ambulance and other things. Thru the whole race I zig zaged up on the pavement down from the pavement, from the left side of the street to the right, cutting corners taking a longer turn everything just to try to pass other runners.
The 2,5 k mark I passed at 10.47 making an avarage pace of 4.18 for the start of the race even though the start is pretty easy. And with that pace it would be difficult to reach my goal to go under 43 minutes.
But for the next ks I was able to pick up a lot of speed and from 2,5 to 5 k I ran in a pace of 3,56 min/km and gained a lot of places, from 765 to 616. The sixth k is terrible with a 700 meter hill and 50 meters in height difference. I tried to take it a little easy up the hills and just wanted to keep up with the same pace as most of the runners around me. And actually then I started to hear the choir at the foot of the Sofia church I was even surprised that the hill wasn’t longer. I tried to pick up the pace again but had actually problems with not seeing to good in the dark and I think that slowed me down unconciously. Just short of the 7 k mark the course pass one of the most scenic views over Stockholm and I couldn’t help thinking a little about the days that I spent on that place earlier in the week with my job. At the same place where was a water station and the people who worked in that shouted “It’s is only 3 ks left”, but the mark wasn’t until one minute later and that made me mad and the boost from having a good time at what I thought was 7 ks was all ruined and instead i started to get bad thoughts, thinking that it would be impossible to beat the 43 min.
I wanted to gain more speed between 7 and 8 ks and I felt that i had much more power in my legs but still I had problems with getting the pace I wanted and here I could only focus on the runners who passed me without noticing the ones I passed. After 8 ks there is a short but steep climb that I thought was terrible last year but yesterday I had no problems at all and after that it was downhill but the wet cobblestones made me take it a little slower in the corners to avoid slipping. With 1500 meter left I started my long rush for the finish but for a couple of hundred meters the street is a little to narrow and badly lighten so it was impossible to get a clean path with a steady quick pace instead I had to make short outbursts and zig zag again to past other runners. With 700 meters the course turns in one the final street and I picked up even more speed as I got more space to run in my own pace. With just a couple of hundred of meters left someone shouted behind me that he wanted to pass me on the left. If I had taken a step to the right I would have to slow down because I had a runner slightly in front of me on my right. So instead I sprinted past him before I took right and kept sprinting for as long as I could endure. Of course this made legs full of lactic acid a little to early so with 50 meters I almost stopped because my mind told me “that will do, you are virtually at the finishing line and there is no need to run more”.
I looked at my watch as I passed the line and saw that I finished at 42.10 making an avarage pace of 4,12 min/km. And with the bad start, zig zaging and long hills I’m very pleased with that time. It was actually my second fastest 10 k race ever and only 20 seconds behind my personal best.