Not too long since my last post this time! I’m improving! Probably mostly because race season is approaching and more exciting things are starting to enter the scene. This Saturday it was time for the Gothenburg Half Marathon (Göteborgsvarvet), which is also the world’s biggest half marathon. I’ve run the race the two previous years and finished in about 1h 52 min each time. Initially I had planned this year’s race just as a good work out, not planning to run too hard, and definitely not with the intention of being in a well-rested state. Talking to my coach five days before the race I asked how hard I should run and was a little surprised when he told me to try to hold a steady pace but not “play it safe” but try to push my limits and run in as high a pace as I could while still keeping it steady throughout the race. Immediately I could feel anticipation and nerves setting in – as always wanting to perform as well as I can. Having put in 9 hours of training in the five days leading up to the race I knew that I would not be able to perform at my absolute best, but I was definitely determined to give it my best shot.
Saturday morning came with cloudy skies and somewhat chilly weather. I was placed in start group 8 based on previous years result, which meant a start time of 13:56. About half an hour before start the weather turned for the better. The clouds started to lighten up and the temperature rose by about 5 degrees Celsius, which meant perfect conditions for running. As most of you know, about 64 000 people are enrolled to start in Göteborgsvarvet, making it a huge public event, and the atmosphere is great just before start. It just helps you get into race mode!
I had tried to estimate the proper pace that I thought I should be able to hold throughout the race and had somewhat decided to try and start at 4:50-4:55 min/km. As always I felt slow and heavy before start as I always do just before a race and always feel like the body is just not under any circumstances going to perform what so ever) – but once the start gun went off my legs felt really energetic. In contrast to last year I had made sure to be in the front line of my starting group which meant much less crowd in the first kilometers. Looking down at my watch I realized that I was holding a pace of 4:32-4:34 min/km the first 2k. My body felt really good however, and I didn’t feel strained at all, so I revised my initial plan and decided to stay at that speed for at least 10k and then reevaluate and see how I felt. I thought I would loose a lot of pace at kilometer 5 going up “Älvsborgsbron”, but I didn’t, and down the other side of the bridge I noted my fastest kilometer of 4:10 minutes. I passed the 10k mark at 45:30, which is my fastest 10k time ever registered. Took a gel and some water at the next aid station. I still felt good but I did realize that I would not be able to keep a pace of 4:35 for the entirety of the race so I decided to slow down and try to instead get down to about 4:50-4:55 pace, which I felt pretty sure I would be able to maintain for the entirety of the race. My plan was to hopefully even have some energy left to increase the speed a little again for the last few kilometers. The stretch between 11-16k was flat but also a little tedious. I was starting to feel a little more tired but by no means running empty. Kilometer 17 was definitely the hardest one of the race. Slow ascending road all the way up the main street (Avenyn), where it was also really narrow and crowded, which meant getting stuck behind people running much slower than me and having to slow down and then speed up all the time. With just three kilometers to finish line I took a second gel and some water and then tried to speed up a little but there wasn’t a whole lot of energy left for that. I was happy to keep a steady pace of around 4:45 min/km, but seeing the finish line and getting in to stadium with all the spectators I did manage to put in a final rush for the last 500 meters or so.
Clock stopped at 1:40:41 – and according to my Polar watch I had run a distance slightly longer than the half marathon (21,35 km). Had I not done that I would have finished in about 1:39:55. Either way I was really happy to be able to cut nearly 12 minutes of last years’ time – as well as close to 7 minutes of my PB on the distance. Being able to do that when I wasn’t even well rested and without feeling completely beat afterwards shows that all the training since October has really payed off! I can also see my shape improving on how fast I recover even after a fairly tough run as this one. Already on Monday afternoon I rode some pretty hard intervals on my bike and didn’t have a difficult time performing well on those. Now I can’t wait to see what I can achieve on the race course this summer with well rested legs! And most likely you will see me at the starting line for this race next year again!