Author: Dennis Sundman
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 “no contra–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.
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.
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.