For the second consequtive year year I ran the Mariestad Marathon. A small race at the shore of lake Vänern. The race has got only around 100 participents and last year I won the class Men over 40 with the time 3,19,24. This year my goal was to run sub 3,20 once more to be able to (if I decide to) run the Boston Marathon.
The start of the race was as early as 10.00 and I’m not at all fond of running at that time of the day and I also had a little headache. Last year we run 3 lap but this year they had shorten the lap to a quarter of a marathon so we had to run the course 4 times. The track is really beautiful with the start in the woods outside the tiny city of Mariestad and it follows the shore to the center of the city to a turning point and then back the same way.
For runners who didn’t want to run the full marathon there was a quarter marathon race that started at the same time as the full marathon. So some runners were staring with a rush. I decided to take it a little easy for the first hundreds of meters to try to find a nice pace.
My strategy for the race was to run the first 10 ks in 45 min, the second in 46 the third in 47 and the fourth in 48 making a total of around 3,17-3,18. Even though I thought I had started pretty slow I ran the first k in 4,12 which was a way quicker pace than I had planned to. After around five minutes of running a small group had formed and the tempo didn’t feel high at all, actually since I didn’t feel in top shape I would have thought that I was running in a 5 min/km pace if it wasn’t for the company in the group. One of the other runners got a presentation as one of the fastest female marathon runners in Sweden this year with a personal best of 3,06 so I knew that the pace was pretty high.
All kilometers wasn’t marked on the road but the next two went in a 4, 26 pace and even though I knew this was to quick I decided to run in the group for a little longer. The next 2 ks to the turning point went in almost exactly the same tempo. For the first five ks we ran with the wind against us and with the wind in the back the pace went up a notch and the next two ks went in a 4,17 pace and I decided to drop of slightly from the group. Instead i hooked up with two runners one of them said something like “oh we got a walker on our left” shortly after i had joined them. I didn’t get it and looked out over the lake to see what he meant, but then he asked me directly “have you competed in walking?”. I told him that I hadn’t but started to think about how I should take this comment. Is it an insult for a runner to be called a “walker” or is it a complimant because you got a low effortless stride? I asked them what times they were aiming for and both of them were trying to run sub 3,10 and they also told me that we were running in a steady 4,24 pace. So it was still to quick for me but I decided to follow them for as long as I could, it didn’t feel that fast.
I passed the 10 k mark after 43,40, only two minutes over my best 10 k ever. At the lapping area I picked up a bottle of water and two packets of gel. My companions took mugs of water and first I gained some meters but soon as I started to drink from the bottle I lost some meters and a gap started to grow. In the wind against me and knowing that they were holding a pace that was much quicker than my schedule I didn’t try to close the gap. Without the company my pace dropped and my next two ks went in a 4,33 pace. Around one k after I had lapped I met Anna, my girlfriend who was running the quarter marathon, with a big smile on her face.
Just before the next water stop I started to feel a blister on my left heel and as long I was running alone that was something that had a negative effect on my mind and together with the wind slowed me down so my 15th k my pace was down to 4,50. Somewhere around here I was caught by two runners who were running faster than me and I tried to follow them. Together with the wind in my back I gained speed and the rest of the first half I was running in around 4,30 pace. And I made the half marathon in 1 h 36 min. The two runners I followed actually made a stop at the water stops where I just took some water and drank and ran at the same time. I also ate some gel that i picked up at each lap. This made me get some seconds advantage and when we lapped for the second time I might have gained as much as ten seconds. So the first k in the wind against me I was running alone again I was thinking if it would have been better to stop and wait for them to catch up so I could get cover behind their backs but naturally I kept running and the 22nd k was a slow k again with a 4,40 pace. After they caught me again I tried to follow them for as long as possible and I was hoping I could follow them all the way to the next turning point. Half way to the turning point the younger one of the two runners started to get away, since I knew that the pace so far had been a little to quick for my capacity I didn’t try to follow him and tried to hang on to the other guy for as long as possible. I was in his back up till 27 k and at that point our pace had slowed down to the slowest k so far only 5 min/km. And with the wind in my back and only 4 ks to the lapping area my body started to play tricks with my mind. Even though my legs were tired they felt like they wnated to run faster as if my legs had decided that this was the finnishing legs. I told the guy I was running with about how I had trouble to stop my legs to run to fast and struggled for a while but lost against my legs and gained some speed. After a while had build up a gap to the guy I had followed so far.
The following ks I was down to a 4,40-4,45 pace again. But I knew that it would be impossible to keep up the pace for the whole race. With only one k to the last lap I started to think that I should stop then I lapped because I was getting to tired, I could still hold the pace but I felt how my body was drained of power. And as I lapped I tried to not think at all so I wouldn’t get the thoughts of quitting again, because I knew that if I only could get past the finishing area without stepping off I would make the whole marathon.
I could hear the guy behind me getting closer and I was sure that as soon as he caught me again I had to keep up with him for as long as possible to get a finishing time sub 3,20. With 10 ks left I still had a pretty good margin, if I only could run at 54 minutes I would beat my personal best and usually that would be a piece of cake. But after running 32 ks at a way to fast pace I was pretty sure that I soon would run each k in over 6 minutes. Then the guy behind me caught me I couldn’t follow him for a second and he disappered in front of me. Fortunally I could see that one of the runners who were going for sub 3,10 was running even slower and that I was getting closer to him. This gave me a little extra power. I thought that I could get really close to him at the second to last water stop so I could get a little help with the pace for a while. But he stopped for so long that I passed him and then I did we cheered for each other and instead of me getting behind his back for some minutes he got behind me. He kept up with me to the turning point where i turned around and shouted to him “now we just have five ks left, five ks with the wind in our backs come on we can make it!” He answered with “I’m completly exhausted and will be glad if i can finish the race”.
With 5 195 meters left I had 28 minutes to beat my personal best so I still had to keep running in a 5,26 pace for a new PB. I was to tired to calculate this all I knew was that I was loosing time quickly and had to keep pushing for yet some time. The next three ks I actually gained some speed and at the 40 k mark I had been running for 3 hours 6 minutes and 40 seconds and began to think that maybe it will be possible for me to reach my goal. But I wasn’t sure that i would be able to run for the whole distance, maybe I would have to walk for a while. So I just tried to push harder and harder and with only 195 meters left I looked at my watch and saw that I had a lot of time left and when my eye caught the finnishing line I even tried to sprint, but without power in my legs I didn’t gain much speed but i didn’t care. I just enjoyed the speakers sweet voice who declared: “Staffan Fredén Stockholm 3 hours 17 minutes and 23 seconds”.