I don’t remember what started this folly, but most likely someone had a glass too much of wine and figured it would be a good idea to go to Switzerland for UTMB-OCC. UTMB-OCC is a 56 km race in the Swiss alps with around 3500 m+. Anyway, Fred and I decided we wanted to run it. In order to run any UTMB race, you need to qualify. In order to qualify, you first need to obtain a certain number of points from qualifying races. This year, 2018, the number of points needed for OCC was 4. That corresponds roughly to a 100 km easy trail race. Furthermore, you need to do one of three possible qualification steps: pay (a lot), enter a lottery, or be exceptionally good.
So first we needed the 4 points. These 4 points may be obtained as a sum of points from 2 races. I think at the time we came up with the idea, Fred already got them. I, however, still needed to get the points. The time frame was tight, but I found a good race: Tjörnarparen 100 km in December 2017. I ended up winning the race, and got the points. However, my performance was not good enough to be considered “exceptionally good”. So I had to enter the lottery. Fred had performed well enough and could qualify without the lottery. Luckily I was lucky and qualified through the lottery.
Final days of preparation
The race was on Thursday. I went to Switzerland on Tuesday. The idea was to get two nights of good sleep before race day. We had the full crew with Merle, Nico, Lulu, Bibi, and of course Hartmut to support us. That meant good food, good stories, and lots of love. Isabell could unfortunately not join this time since she needed to be home and take care of William.
Tuesday was pretty uneventful. We all went to bed early after some Mackmyra whiskey and good wine.
On Wednesday we went for a small hike. The plan was to take it easy, but with 1000 m+, 10 km, and a looming thunderstorm, easy soon turned to sprint in order to get back to the car before the sky cracked open. Before this happened we had a wonderful time, evident by the following pictures.
Having some snacks by the lake
The day promised to be good, so the additional heat and rain kits were not needed. However, we had carefully packed all the mandatory equipment, and together with our support crew left home at 7:19. The race started at 8:15, and the struggle to find a good bird sight-seeing site was real. However, we only found some drones flying around, so the birds had to wait until after race start.
Just arrived to the start area
8:15 and we were away! Fred and I stayed together for the first 10 km, at which point we had the first motivation enhancement from our support crew. I said good luck to Fred, who sprinted off ahead. My training during the last 6 months had not been good enough to keep up. However I found my pace and stayed together with people with similar strength for most of the time. The race itself was both awesome and terrible. It was awesome because it was very tough, and the views were very good. It was terrible because some of the climbs were not just reasonable. Too steep to run, and almost too steep to walk. I think at some point I did like 2.5 km in 1 hour. The support crew was amazing and I think we never had to run more than 10 km before we got to see them again.
I don’t recall any downhill until the final descent, so I guess we were running backwards
Fred gets some encouragement from the support crew
After some 8 hours I reached the finish and found the support crew and Fred chilling. Some snacks, a beer, a photo and we were back off to the house.
Finally some beer! Did Fred run the final part of the race barefoot?
After Stockholm Marathon, I felt like I needed a goal for 2015. Namely, beat my marathon PB, which had been stagnating for the last 2 years, and 7 marathons in the same 2:44-2:50 range. Hence I decided to choose an autumn marathon and train seriously for it. Münster Marathon quickly came up as an obvious choice, exactly 14 weeks after Stockholm Marathon. Let’s see how it went!
The idea was to follow a 12-week program, and therefore I could enjoy a welcome rest after Stockholm Marathon before starting running “hard” again. I did not really run (max 30km) the week after Stockholm Marathon and tried to increase the mileage the week thereafter (around 80km) to not have a too brutal start. The good thing for me a priori was that I really really like to run, or do any kind of sports, in the summer so running every day became natural and easy pretty quickly.
I will not develop too much on the specifics of the program since it is pretty boring and it was not much of a structured program in the end. My idea was to have around 3 quality runs ( including 1 interval running, 1 threshold pace running and one long run) every week, and fill the rest of the week with slow runs at 4:40ish pace. After the first interval run which was too boring/tough/tiring/useless/… (choose the correct answer), I decided to drop that kind of training and just go for “threshold pace” as my toughest training. I also had to make a choice whether running 50 or 100km in the middle of the training program, but in any case I tried to increase the distance in my long runs to be able to face that long long run 4 weeks before the marathon. In the end I probably didn’t have enough long runs as usual, but on the other hand that 50km race really helped me during the marathon (spoilers…).
I ran three races on my way to Münster Marathon. The first one, at the end of week 2, was a 10 km run in the Bois de Boulogne, in which many colleagues were participating. Unfortunately, Axelle was in Paris the night before, and we ended up visiting her friend’s wine bar/restaurant until 4am which was, um, not optimal, for a 9am start. Anyway I manage to finish in 35:03, 10th in the race which was well enough on that day (I went home for a tactical nap afterwards).
A very high quality pic of a very hangover runner
July came and went pretty easily, then a successful Stockholm Ultra, followed by a well-deserved week of holidays in Hyeres…
Porquerolles, only biking no running
The next week-end however (i.e. one week after Stockholm 50km) was the last race of the training program, Midnattsloppet. I had no idea about my shape and how I had recovered from the Ultra, though I had good sensations in the climb running we did with Dennis in France. It turned out I was in very good shape, as I managed to stay all the race with runners I usually cannot keep up with. Without looking at the Garmin, I knew it was going to be a decent time. And it was! 33:31, 13th of the race, very unexpected and very satisfied with it evidently. 3 weeks before the marathon, Midnattsloppet gave me some confidence about managing to beat my PB, and more importantly, get under 2h40min.
The morning jogg in Sodermalm before Midnattsloppet
The last three weeks before the race were uneventful, except for a recurrent cough which was worrying me more and more. To summarize the training those are my weekly kilometers for the 12 weeks leading up to the marathon: 104-113-116-117-79-113(Portugal)-124-84(Ultra)-109-76-100-84(marathon week).
Before the race
The week before the race, I decided to do the carbo loading plan where you basically don’t eat carbs on Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday and eat only carbs on Thursday-Friday-Saturday. I was probably a very unpleasant person from Tuesday evening to Thursday morning, but as the race approached I was feeling better and better from the carb loading, and now the race would tell if such a fueling strategy would make sense. However my cough was getting worse, up to the point where I had to inhale hot salted water, head under a towel, twice a day. Even on the night before the marathon, after a last tempo run on the Münster canal… As always, short night, bread and honey at 7am, and it was time to go for a run!
I was feeling pretty ok in the warm-up, in spite of the (relative) coldness of the day, around 12 degrees at the start, and more annoyingly the wind. After a last stop (or was it?) at the portable toilet and a few warm-up sprints , it was time to rush to the start. I placed myself behind the Kenyan women runners (one of which gave an hilariously silent interview to a poor German journalist, who gave up at some point), as I had seen the night before that they were usually around 2:40 on that marathon. BANG, here we go! After a few hectometers following the Kenyans, I realized that they are themselves following Roger Konigs, the 2h30 pacer for the race. Uh oh. On the one hand, the pace seemed strangely “doable”. On the other hand, I knew that it was 99.9% sure that it was only an impression, and that I would explode if I kept up with them. So, for once, I decided to let it go pretty early on a marathon and slowed down to what seemed an “easy” pace.
Km 2. Still hesitating whether I should follow the elite women or not… But nah!
On another note, approximately 3 seconds after the BANG, I realized that I had to go to the bathroom… Soooo, after a tactical pause in the Münster promenade at km6, my marathon was really starting, with soon the first energy gel at km 8. We had made with Merle a plan for gels roughly every 8km (turned out to be 8-16-23-32-39), which worked out perfectly.
This is by the way pretty much the best energy gel I can think of
From km 12, I was accompanied by two irish runners (1 man and 1 woman) as well as a German woman. The pace and concord in the group was very good, as the irishman was pacing the Irish woman, while we two were so far happy to follow. We were also sharing gels and exchanging a few words. I felt that the key to succeeding at this marathon was to stay in this very group, so I hanged on. For the next 10kms it was a pretty even pace outside Münster (unfortunately followed by a distinct cow dung smell every now and then), and I was trying to figure out who the strongest was in the group since I could only follow so far, until I realized around km28 that it was probably me! Indeed the pace was feeling slow, as the irish woman could not keep up with her pacer while the German runner was dropping a few meters every now and then, only to come back. That’s when I decided to go on alone, as it was clear that we could not help each other in the group any longer. Surprisingly, only the German runner could follow me for the next few kms! I tried to keep an even pace to see if we could go together for a while, but noticing her difficulties, I went on alone. I was actually feeling stronger kilometer after kilometer, and soon I was already at km 34 without any feeling of the dreaded marathon wall. I was picking up runners, muttering some kind words as I passed them, clapping some kids hands when I had the opportunity.
Cobbles and Cheerleaders
The only “strange” portion of this marathon (apart from the slightly annoying cobbles in the first 10 kms) was around 35kms in a residential area, where kids were, how to put it, a little bit annoying. Some were racing/sprinting me, others in kids’ scooters/bikes, the worst came at some point when one kid handed me a glass of water with a huge smile on his face, which I of course accepted (I was thirsty at that point) only to realize the glass was empty while a whole bunch of kids started laughing at me… Hmmmmm, OK, not even mad. Aaaaanyway, at km39, I picked up the last Dextrose for the final 3 kms (Merle had to sprint as we did not manage to coordinate that move), and I was finally going to check my watch to see what was up. Okay, so according to my maths at that point, I was under 2h40 if I could keep 4pace until the end. So I accelerated as I had no idea about my pace at that point. At km40, I did a pace check: 3:36. So this looked very good and that gave me wings to keep on until the finish. The atmosphere close to the finish was absolutely fantastic (all along the race actually, but at the final km even more so) , and I sprinted up to a 2:38:34 final time!
I’m hidden somewhere in this picture
Obviously very happy with that race with a new PB, 12th position in the race and finally a negative split marathon! Here are my splits kilometer by kilometer, some key events described in this post are easily recognizable… :
Background (by Dennis)
During Fred’s graduation party last year we got to know he was moving back to France. In combination with some (++) wine, and being concerned he would not come back to visit Sweden, I decided to sign us both up for Stockholm ultramarathon. The original plan was for both of us to run the 100 km distance. While I slowly included longer and slower runs after Stockholm marathon, Fred decided to focus more on shorter and faster distances. Some weeks before the ultramarathon, we therefore decided to split; he would run the 50 km and I would stay with the 100 km. This is a good thing because now we can cover two races in one blog post.
Prelude to an unexpected gold (by Dennis)
Some weeks before the race, I decided that I should go for a 60 km run. Despite not having a particularly good day (I had to stop twice for shelter from the heavy rain), it became evident that I could, without too much effort, go down to 4:30 pace at any point. Elaborating with the thought that 4:30 felt convenient in a 60 km run, maybe I could keep this pace during 100 km in the competition? The likely slow down towards the end, and taking into consideration that I am inherently optimistic, aiming for a sub 8 hour time seemed like a realistic goal. This year Stockholm ultramarathon was the Swedish championship (SM) for ultramarathon. Checking the results from previous year’s SM, I noticed that a sub 8 hour time could, with some luck, lend me a top three place. I figured the chances of actually achieving this as small, but knowing Murphy, if I would not participate in SM, I would for sure perform well.
In order to participate in SM you have to represent a club connected to SFIF. So with three weeks remaining until the race, I contacted some local running clubs. Because of the short notice, I wasn’t able to get anything arranged. However, a few years ago I participated in Vasaloppet together with a friend from Umeå. Vasaloppet is a cross-country skiing competition and in order to enter it you also need to represent a club. My friend was skiing for a club called Team Esplanad, so at that time I decided to join them too. Since I was still registered there, I called them and got a shirt with the club emblem sent by mail. I was ready to represent Team Esplanad in SM.
Team Esplanad shirts.
Friday before the race (by Dennis)
Since the plan was to leave to France for some days of vacation on Sunday evening, coming back on Friday, and taking into consideration that I will be toastmaster at a wedding on the coming Saturday, I decided to take vacation on Friday before the race. The day was spent on picking up the bib, having lunch with newly arrived Fred, fetching the suit from dry cleaner, doing laundry, and finally some dinner with pre-race talk, and chess playing. We decided that I should stick with whatever group doing slower than 4:15 pace and stay there for as long as possible trying to go for an SM medal if opportunity arose. Since Fred is preparing for a marathon later during spring, the plan for him was more focused on time; we concluded that he would go for 4:00 pace and get a good long run as preparation.
Race day (by Frederic)
After a relatively short sleep of 4-ish hours, it was finally time to start the long and hopefully successful day. Dennis starting at 7am, I had to leave the place I was staying in Gärdet around 6:30am to be able to catch Dennis’ start and for some motivational chat. For my pre-race preparation, I did not deviate from my marathon routine (since my plan was to consider the 50km as a marathon race and “see what happens after 42km”). I ate some candies and honey, and ran to the start with a Powerade in my hand. Dennis, fully covered in sun cream, seemed ready and focused for his challenge, as you can see in the pre-race video below. I was able to follow Dennis’ race closely the first 3 laps before my start – which was quickly starting to become an afterthought as the 100km race was quite exciting. Dennis was totally in control of his pace and was looking (in my opinion) like a very strong contender for the SM bronze medal behind A. Rangenlind and H. Stridh who had a considerable margin over the rest of the field. But it was time for me to drop my GoPro and go to the start.
Race report 50 km (by Frederic)
As the race started, I realized that I had no real plan or objective for the next 3-4 hours to come. Indeed, I am planning to run a marathon in Germany 4 weeks, with the goal to beat my PB and hence had no intention to go full out around Djurgården. A situation somehow comparable to L. Holmsäter, the huge favorite of the 50km race, who was not running the 100km in view of his preparation to the World championship of 100km as a member of the Swedish team. Nonetheless, Linus immediately took the lead, turned around in the small climb of the first lap to take a last look at the field, and was never to be seen again, winning the race in 3h16. After a slow kilometer to see if I could find a fellow runner at around 4:00 pace, I decided to continue alone at around 3:55 pace which felt comfortable early on. The race was quite uneventful from my point of view. I had a quick talk with Dennis after 10 km where he had solidly taken the 3rd position and still looked fresh as we exchanged some jokes. Except the 5th lap, between 34 and 42km, when I felt I was slowing down and started having bad thoughts, I kept a quite even pace throughout the race. I managed to finish second in 3h22, at an average 4:03 pace which was pretty much what I had hoped for before the race. More importantly, I did not exhaust myself too much in preparation for the marathon to come, and also, for the next 2 hours of cheering for Dennis, which as I finished, now was 2nd in the SM race!
Fred right after finish.
Race report 100 km (by Dennis)
I got up at 4:00 am and dragged myself to the start. It was a beautiful morning that promised a sunny day, so I applied lots of sun cream. I also managed some pre-race chatting with Fred, when all of a sudden the race was on. In such moments, when the sun is just rising above the horizon, the air is fresh and the body is alert, it is easy to become emotional. However I had committed myself to a challenge, to fight for a medal in SM. I moved my focus from the beautiful morning to the runners around me. Three runners pulled away independently at paces way below 3:45. Since I was quite aware of my own capacity, which limited itself to a long-time average at around 4:15, and for some kilometers maybe 4:00 pace, I had nothing better to do than letting them go. Instead I started evaluating a group of three runners just in front of me. They were still at about 4:05 pace chatting with each other, so I placed myself some 20-50 meters behind them, hoping for the pace to subside. After about 8 km, another runner passed me and joined the group, which now consisted of four people. Their pace had dropped significantly and we were now clocking the kilometers at 4:30. This was perfect for me, and I got updates from Fred that among the three runners who had pulled away early, there were one non-SM participant (S. Moujed) and two SM participants (A. Rangelind and H. Stridh). So, an early indication would be that either someone from the group of four, or myself, would be competing for a bronze in SM. At this point (around km 20-25), the fourth member in the group slowly started to pick up speed. For once, I didn’t come to the race to produce a certain time or just to have fun, I came to challenge for a medal. Therefore, I decided it was time to first join the group and then pass it. This was swiftly done and I joined the lone runner currently placed 3rd in SM (and 4th overall). During approximately 5 km we were running side-by-side, but I was not particularly impressed at our pace, which was about 4:35, so I slowly increased it to 4:15. Quite soon I was running alone, listening to the footsteps of my challenger grow more silent. From this point on not much drama happened. I was steady at 4:20 pace which, including stops to eat and drink at every energy station, resulted in 4:25-4:30 pace. Once the 50 km race had started, I was overtaken by L. Holmsäter and soon after that by Fred when he passed me in his race and we had some conversation. He told me there was one runner trailing me a couple of minutes, and that I was most likely still in third place in SM. I was eating dextrose and drinking water with resorb (salt suppliment). As the laps passed, keeping up pace became increasingly difficult. The day had promised 25 degrees and the humidity was high, so I was concerned about getting all the salt and water I needed. Around km 60, I was lapped by A. Rangelind, and he was pushing on furiously in the heat. I got reports from friends around the track that I was now 2nd in SM, and since I could not really recall passing anyone, I figured that H. Stridh had resigned. I also got reports that A. Rangelind looked tired. Now, having one full lap of lead should be sufficient for anyone to sustain the win at this point, so although I got encouraged by this information it did not really make a difference.
Then, at a small downhill in the forest A. Rangelind was lying in recovery position, surrounded with a team of functionaries. All of a sudden, I was the leader of SM, with the one non-SM runner in front. However, his lead was more than 20 minutes at this point, so instead I focused backwards. With three laps to go I got the report that the closest runner behind was eight minutes after. Eight minutes should be enough if I could keep a decent pace, but my kilometers were down to 4:50-5:00 min/km (including stops), and feeling completely sure there would be someone behind that could run 4:10-4:20 pace, I was getting increasingly stressed. With two laps to go I had still about eight minutes lead and I thought this should work out. But half a lap later, I got the report that my lead was only three minutes, and I immediately tried to pick up pace. Starting the finishing lap I was told my lead in SM was 6 minutes and I thought this should be fine if I could keep on my feet. As a side note here, I heard from the speaker that I was now only ten minutes behind S. Moujed, and that I had gained five minutes on him over the last lap. Ten minutes in eight kilometers is too much to be realistic. In the end I finished only one minute behind him but claiming the gold medal in SM.
During the race I had numerous supporters cheering for me. I knew roughly when they were coming and since they were not coming at the same time, I got new encouragement by seeing new faces for each lap. The support I got was overwhelming; they even cheered across Djurgårdsbrunnsviken. Thank you supporter dream-team!
Post race and recovery (by Dennis)
Since we were going to France the following day, Fred stayed at my place. Therefore, we decided to invite the supporters, and some other friends, for pizza, beer, sparkling wine, and snacks at my apartment. Fred seemed totally unaffected from his 50 km run, which I take as a good sign for his shape. Except for the weariness in my legs, also I felt quite good.
On Sunday we went to the french riviera to recover; at least this was what I thought. It started well with some beach and sand-castle construction as you can see below. But already on Monday Fred brought me to run some hills in Hyeres…
Before the race
At Paris Marathon I was slightly better prepared than Dennis. However during the 6 weeks leading up to Stockholm Marathon (SM), Dennis managed to prepare very nicely while I had to decrease the mileage due to various reasons. I ran a 10km 2 weeks prior to SM in 34:39 in the woods of Paris with good sensations, while Dennis ran Kungsholmen Runt in 1:19:03. Hence we were expecting to be roughly at similar shape for the race, something around 2h45.
I came back to Stockholm on Thursday night for the first time since December, and I realize how I had missed the city! I spent quite some time walking in the city on that evening, just for old times’ sake.
First thing in Stockholm
The pre-race plan, if we can call it so, was discussed at Zhao’s Ph.D. defense dinner in Pong buffet. We decided to go at around 3:50pace until hopefully Stadion, or at least as far as we could. If we could follow a group or some runners that we expected to be at sub2:45, this would be even better. I had convinced Hartmut, a colleague of mine from Paris to join the race as well, and he was attempting a 3h30 time that would be, if successful, a 30min improvement over his PB. My hope was to be able to run the last 4-5kms with him to provide some help. This would not happen as planned, though…
After a relatively good sleep and some light breakfast (followed by some more sleep) with Hartmut in my old apartment next to KTH, it was time for a quick warm-up and a long run.
Back in my old flat
Legs were feeling heavy, as usual for me during marathon warm-ups… I had packed 3 of my favorite energy gels (they have the uncommon characteristic to not taste like toxic waste), and we were in our vintage Midnattsloppet 2011 shirt. No rain until 11:59:59, BOOM here we go! And the rain starts with us.
After a relative uneventful first 10km, it was clear that 1) we were going for a steady pace that felt easy to me 2) I had to pee 3) It was going to feel cold at some point. Point 2) was solved at the 12km mark when Dennis kindly dropped his key, which allowed me to take a 20sec break. Point 1) and 3) however were more problematic as it seemed after 15km that we will not be able to break the best limit we could hope for pre-race: 2h40. However PB, that is roughly sub 2h45, was still possible assuming an even pace all race. Point 3) also came into play at kilometer 24km while entering Djurgården, as my shoe laces untied and with stiff hands I was not able to re-lace them. This was the lowest point for me in the race as Dennis, after waiting a long while for me thought I was done for and started “running again”. Fortunately a race funktionär was nice enough to expertly tie my laces, and with that rush of adrenalin, I went on with a quicker pace to come back with Dennis, which was managed after a 26th km at 3:34pace!
The rest of the race went quite easily afterwards, even though legs were obviously becoming stiffer. We were still discussing at regular intervals, which might have slowed us down overall, but made the race really enjoyable. At km 38, we passed legend Swedish runner Anders Szalkai and Dennis was very happy to be able to exchange a few words with him. At km 40 we began discussing our triumphal entrance in Stadion, and we settled for the hand holding strategy as illustrated below. We finished 103rd and 104th , with a satisfying 2h46min20sec time.
After the traditional duo photo by Dennis’ mom, it was time to unfreeze!
After the race
The most painful part was only beginning as we were completely frozen, and I have a very bad resistance to cold. I obviously skipped my plan to pick up Hartmut, being unable to hold things or utter intelligible words other than “Ca va”. Walking back home took 30minutes for a 2km walk through Stora Skogen… After a warm shower everything was OK again, and the feeling was overwhelmingly positive. Sure we had not gone as fast as we could considering the weather conditions, our 2 stops and our “take-it-easy” behavior during the race, but it was so much better than in Paris marathon when we had to run the last 20kms alone. Finishing together in a crowded Stadion despite the rain was a unique feeling that beats any time on the watch consideration. Hartmut was also very pleased with the race, having realized a 3h29 time, beating his previous PR by more than 30minutes! We all celebrated at Dennis’ friends on that night with jacuzzi, sauna, beer and good food on the program and in that moment it all felt worth it. To the next one!
Last year both Frédéric and I graduated from school. So it was time to get a haircut and find a job. I decided to start working close by, but Frédéric chose to try his luck in the city of light, Paris. Naturally this makes a perfect excuse to run Paris marathon.
Signing up to the race was an easy task, and a few weeks before the start a race-certificate arrived in the mailbox. However, a detail easily overlooked for Paris marathon is that the participants are required to provide a health certificate. The certificate must explicitly state “nocontra–indication to athletics, running, or triathlon in competition”. You would guess that getting such a certificate is an easy task, but then you are mistaken. I first tried two different vårdcentraler (first level health care), but their main problem was that I was still listed as belonging to another vårdcentral. Changing this might be done, but none seemed very keen on helping out and I got comments like “the next free time slot is in three months” (this was two weeks before the race), and “we don’t provide that service here”. So I went to a private health care elsewhere. There they happily provided the document after 1 minute of listening to my lungs and heart – at a price of 1250 SEK. Below is a picture of the certificate. They didn’t even get the text correct.
Race certificate to run Paris marathon. No Dr. degree on this certificate.
A colleague decided to join the trip and on Friday afternoon, departing early from work, we set off to Arlanda. In contrast to Löfven we knew that flygbussarna travel from Bromma to Arlanda. Conveniently they stop just outside our work. The trip was smooth and we arrived in Paris about 9 pm.
Since the race was on Sunday, we had the whole Saturday to take it easy. We picked up our numbers (this is where the certificate was required) and ate pasta and candy. We also managed some post- and pre-race shopping, chess and other relaxing activities such as watching soccer.
Paris marathon starts 8:45 am, so we decided to set the alarm at 5:45. Some light breakfast and then slacking for an hour before the race. We choose to get the warmup by jogging there, which turned out to be a good idea. On the way we ran along parts of the marathon track and since the race was soon about to start they had already placed the “bajamajor” (http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baja-Maja) there. This may have saved the day since it turned out that the number of bajamajor at the start of the race was dramatically (yes) too few.
The race started and I immediately felt that this was going to be a tough day. Our plan was to keep 3:50 pace for as long as possible, attempting to run sub 2:50. This is a mutual benefit agreement we have used before and if one of us wants to go on, that is fine. The first 10 km was averaged at about 3:48 pace. I was trying to keep my spirits high, but it was clear that sooner or later I would have to slow down. However, we took a first energy gel and pressed on. Now I was struggling a bit, and the second 10 km went at about 3:52 pace. We met some of Frédérics friends at km 21 which lightened the mood, but at km 22, I told Frédéric that I must slow down and since he looked strong he should continue alone. Below is a video from just before km 21. We appear at 14:15 and are easily distinguished by the neon orange midnattsloppet shirts and the fact that we seem to discuss other things than running. I wear a white cap.
I slowed down to 4:00 pace and adjusted the goal from sub 2:50 to sub 3:00 marathon. I managed to keep this pace up until km 29 where a friend (the colleague) provided energy gel and sugar. However, from km 30 until the finish was serious pain. I was so focused on counting the distance to the finish line that I totally missed the second last water station at about km 32. This was not good since there were no more water until about km 40. Anyway, the crowd was awesome although it took me a while to realize that “Alé Denní!” means “Go Dennis!”. Particularly the support in the last few hundred meters was something I had never experienced before. Usually towards the finish line, people are cheering a lot, but the roar we were greeted with this time was amazing. This was a good thing because no matter how beaten down I felt before, after such support the legs felt tons lighter and I happily sprinted the last part. I finally met Frédéric again in the goal after 2:54. He was also happy, succeeding with the time 2:48.
After the race we quickly gathered some people that had been cheering for us and went to the park for wine, cheese, baguette, ham, and any other sort of french picnic food you can imagine.
Frédéric to the right and myself to the left celebrating the run with some bubbly wine. Still post-race cold, but this changed quickly with some food.
Later we went to Gladines and had one of the greatest meals of all time.
Both my colleague and I had taken another two days off, so Monday and Tuesday were spent on the streets of Paris, shopping, eating, hanging about, and all the other things you might want to do in The City of Light.