Saturday, May 09, 2009

Half Marathons in Stockholm

I’ve been writing this blog for about a year and a half now. Anyone reading will have realized after about a week and a half that sometimes, I am an idiot. And in fact, you should probably never listen to anything I say. Or write I suppose. But listen to me now.

Never think it is a good idea to try to run a half marathon after having not run for years and training for one month. You will hurt. As I do.

I do not run fast. At all. I take after my mother in that regard. The difference being that my mother is good at running what with her marathons and half marathons at incredibly high elevations. I run slow at sea level.

And I learned something about running slow. The mantra of slow and steady winning the race is very simply, false. Slow and steady may finish the race, but fast and steady wins the race.

I managed to finish though. In less than two hours and 15 minutes which was quite enough for me. The first few kilometers were rough. Mostly because I had to pee. I thought maybe it was nervous pee so I ignored it. It was not. But after a few kilometers I managed to ignore my bladder. Which I’ve heard is always a good idea.

Having ignored my urine, I just kept running. I was still in the early stages so I knew that I could make it without too much trouble. So the kilometers kept adding up.

I passed the water stations and didn’t drink anything. I had hydrated well in the day and morning prior to the race. But by the third water station around kilometer eight I decided I needed some fluid. So I grabbed some PowerAde. And promptly managed to choke on the drink. Turns out that running up a hill while trying to drink is not easy.

Just before kilometer 10 I ran into my cheering section. (I say my, but really they were also cheering for my two cousins. But my cousins don’t write this blog. I do.) Which turned out to be very good timing considering what I was about to experience. Because by kilometer 10.1, I was pretty lonely. There was a choice of running 10K or the half marathon. Apparently plenty of people picked the 10K. Seeing as how I was so very slow, I was all alone. But I felt good.

Kilometer 13 saw me get a little cocky. I thought that maybe I could speed up my pace. Maybe get a better time. Maybe get myself some bragging rights. It was short-lived.

Kilometer 14 made me realize that I just needed to finish. So I put my head down and kept running. Of course, when running long distances you should never put your head down. Which the kind volunteer at kilometer 15 said to me as I passed by.

So head up, I kept running. And running. Kilometers 16, 17, an 18 passed without incident. And then kilometer 19 came up and punched me in the face. I was so close, but at this point I was breaking own mentally. Luckily, Americans are friendly people. The American volunteer at the race who was standing at kilometer 19 saved me. Her encouraging words and friendliness pushed me on.

Had I not been running, I would have dropped to one knee and proposed to her. But I had things to do. Races to run. Plus, I had to be able to call my mom and tell her I ran the whole thing.

At kilometer 20 I ran into my cheering section, which couldn’t have come at a better time. Signs, cheering, loud Swenglish words of encouragement. It was a thing of beauty. So I soldiered on.

One kilometer to go. I was so close. And then the bastards put a slight hill near the end. Shit. This time, good advice be damned, I put my head down and chugged along. Suddenly, I was 30 meters from the finish line. The announcers said my name over the loud speakers and promptly began discussing how nice the weather was for a picnic. Which was fitting, because I enjoy nice weather and picnics. It’s like they knew. I crossed the finish line to chants of USA! USA! from a surprise cheering section that had emerged out of nowhere.

Tears streamed down my face as I accepted the adulation of throngs of well-wishers. Ok, that’s not true, but salty sweat did stream down my face. Which is almost the same. I did a quick check of my nipples, no blood, and a quick check of my inner thighs, no chafage.

In the end though, I finished the race. I ran the whole thing. I never stopped. I finished.

Welcome to Sweden. And half marathons in Stockholm.

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  1. Way to go!!! I am so proud of you!! See slow and steady does win the race in a way because then you finish strong!! You did good. When will you do a marathon now? I know it is in your blood now.

    I do take slight offense to the inheriting the "slowness" remark however! It just brought up the very,very slight competiveness that i have in my "slow" runners personatlity, enough to look up my time for my first half marathon I ever did. It was SEVERAL years ago BUT,I had a time of 2 hours and 8 minutes and 59 seconds!! I have to, of course remind you that i was 40 years old at the time AND I was running at 8,512 feet elevation (that is for the non Americans out there, 2549 meters)
    But, I do have to admit that the marathons i ran were both at sea level.
    Ok, so i probably had been training a lot longer that you but...ok, yeah we are slow, but if you finish, so what, right??? Feels good huh??? Get the vaseline next time instead of the chapstick and you will be good to go.

    Oh, and didn't i ever tell you to pee first before you go anywhere????
    love ya

  2. I'll never be fast & steady, so I must take my maxims where they apply. Slow & steady it is. Sometimes finishing is winning. And even the winners have to do "slow & steady" in a sense. It's called pacing. No one can run their fastest mile time for 26.2 miles (or even half of that).

    I do think the precept is basically untrue when applied to running. I'll give you that. I'm not sure that was where Aesop was going with The Tortoise and the Hare...where I believe we get that idiom. I think I made a slow & steady comment before, but I can't remember if I mentioned that I think it's a strange concept. But I sort of get it, I don't hate it.

    Congrats on finishing! In a respectable time, no less. I think you did really well! Of course, I'm slow...and you don't even know

    P.S. Your "slow" mom beat you at 40. That's delightful!

  3. Grattis!
    Starkt jobbat och mycket imponerande. Jag önskar att jag hade drivet för att göra det du gjorde. Kanske nästa år eh?

  4. Grattis Hairy! Du är fantastisk! Or I should say in Spanish...¡Felicidades Peludito! ¡Sos un fenómeno! I am very proud of you because running 20 kilometers is not for the faint of heart. I would rather do squats and deadlifts instead of running any day. I am not a runner at all but I am trying to do cardio for health reasons. You are an inspiration! I will think of you busting your butt running next time I want to give up.

  5. Good job! I haven't actually run a marathon yet. I kinda wanna try. I am, however, experienced at being the cheer girl/water girl. My efforts usually seem to be ignored. No one's proposed to me yet. But its nice to know maybe they thought about it.

  6. Yay! Glad you finished it! A half marathon is 13ish miles, right?
    This post almost makes me want to run a half marathon. Because I'm totally not a runner, I would probably die before I finished even the first mile, but still.

  7. Congratulations! Wow, half of a marathon. Maybe I´ll try one some day. And I totally agree what your mamma wrote, who cares about the speed. To finish the damn thing is what´s important.

    But I guess you didn´t find your runner´s high from the half marathon either, huh? I´ve experienced that couple of times and yeah, it is quite nice feeling. Feels like I could run easily all the way from Helsinki to Lappland. You know, almost. Luckily I know that the feeling lasts only like 15 minutes and therefore I continue running my usual routes.

    But once again, well done!


  8. good job! buddy
    but whay didn't you tell me about this marathon things. i would like to be there to encourage the cheer leader so she cheers you more strongly so you would probebly win the race :)

  9. seeing as how I have a little bit of pull here (I'm kind of a big deal at school), I have procured a nice little item for you... hopefully it will reduce the chode chafage... and some delicious treats! The package should be sent soon, it's currently at mamma and pappa's. By the way running's for sissys, if you want to be a man start throwing something.

  10. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!
    And really, how could you forget to pee before you go anywhere? HEHEHehehehe
    In all sincerity, congrats!

  11. @mamma – well thanks. The marathon might have to wait. At least until you get yourself in gear.

    And you did always teach me to pee before I left the house. But you also assumed that I listened. Come on now.

    @E – it is kind of a silly maxim. Although, as you said, sometimes finishing is winning. Except my problem is that I just can’t buy into that.

    Especially when my mom is beating me in races. Of course, shes kind of a badass which makes it tough to compete.

    @Jonas – tackar. There’s another one in September. The Stockholm Half-Marathon.

    @Néstor – oh Im digging all of the different languages. I think Im with you though in terms of lifting. Its much more entertaining than running. But I think I prefer power cleans to squats and deadlifts.

    @m8 – thanks. And especially for all of the people who were just too tired to thank you when you were the cheer/water girl. Because there were plenty of volunteers that I would have liked to have thanked, but just couldn’t muster he oxygen to say anything.

    @Jessy – thanks. It is. A solid 21.1 km. Felt pretty good to get finish!

    @anonymous – Thanks! Still no runners high. We’ll see if I keep doing this running thing maybe I can find it. Because I would love to feel like I could run from Helsinki to Lappland. Or at least Stockholm to Lappland.

    @Mike – Thanks, and actually the cheering section was kind of a last minute thing. But it was much appreciated.

    @anonymous – that’s what I like to hear. No one likes chode chafage. And everyone likes delicious treats.

    And Ill have you know that while I was running I was also throwing small children along the way. I didn’t even stop while I was doing it, I would just run past a kid, pikc them up and hurl them as far as I could. That’s what real men do.

    @Lacey – I know… I really dropped the ball there didn’t I? Oh well, like my mom pointed out though, she taught me better. I just didn’t listen.

  12. I laughed out loud at your blog! I am 50% Swede as my mom was born in Mondal and my dad is from Bogota, Columbia, yea I know I know weird combination but it works :) . I just finished my very first half marathon yesterday and my Swedish cousin forwarded me a link to come run the Goteborg Half in May. I am contemplating but nervous that maybe my success was beginners luck :) I laughed at your comments because I couldn't have described my experience better than you just did. Very funny stuff. My time was about the same as your moms I think and I thought I was flying! The announcer also called out my name as I came close to the finish line and I felt like a million bucks! (So what if 2,000 people finished before me I finished without oxygen and a stretcher!)

    I hope your doing well and adjusting to the Swedish way...

  13. Seriously... I was just pumped to have finished the thing without someone carrying me across. And the name being called out by the announcer? That was hard to beat!