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.