Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Trail racing

Last week I ran my first trail races of the year. First Milspåret 10K race around Djurgårdsbrunnsviken on Thursday evening, and then Lida Löparfestival 18K trail race in Lida Naturreservat on Saturday morning. They both were wonderful events in beautiful settings. Milspåret wasn’t really categorised as trail race but it went mostly on undulating gravel road in beautiful milieu so it certainly felt like one. And all of this in the hearth of Stockholm, just a few kilometres from the main railway station. Pretty amazing.

I had just run Kungsholmen Runt a few days earlier and didn’t know what to expect from Milspåret. Usually you get very focused on your time in 10K races but it was obvious that it wasn’t going to go faster than in Kungsholmen, rather the opposite. So I couldn’t expect a better time. But it was indeed a beautiful course and a gorgeous summer night, so I just thought to have fun and enjoy it.

I started off at my normal 10K pace but noticed quickly that the sand under the feet was quite soft and loose and it was difficult to push hard without a good grip. The undulating course profile didn’t help much either. I saw early on that I was among the top three women but after a few kilometres I had to let those two girls in front of me go if I wanted to survive the second lap. We did two laps around Djurgårdsbrunnsviken and I wanted to do a faster second lap. At least that was the plan. But it seldom goes as you plan.

First lap went fairly easily but already in the first hills of the second lap I could literally feel Tuesday’s hill reps in my quads and had to slow down a bit and let a lady who had been on my heels for a while to pass me. She was pushing really hard and suddenly I was far behind her. I just wanted to spare my legs to the end. After passing the hills on the second round I gradually picked up the pace again and started to close the gap between us. I had just reached her at 9K when she glanced over her shoulder and accelerated. I was really struggling to keep up with her at the end and it wasn’t before the final hundred meters before I knew I could pass her. I crossed the finish line just a few inches ahead but got the third place. I don’t know how I did it. It’s amazing how you can find some extra power in your legs at the end of a race that you didn’t know existed. I’m just grateful to see that I’ve found back something that I thought I had lost for good.

Views along the route
Start and finish by the Maritime Museum 
One lap to go (Spårvägens FK)

A few days later it was time for Lida Löparfestival, a longer trail race in Lida Naturreservat in Tullinge. You could choose distances from 8K to 89K. I chose 18K, which was one long loop in the forest. It was very runnable and incredibly beautiful course on heavily undulating trails. Steep hills made it tough and I could feel it early on in my quads but somehow I managed to ignore the pain and ran a decent race very close to the men's winner. I started offensively and ran the first two kilometres behind the two top men. But they pushed hard in the hills and after a while I couldn't keep up with them anymore. Then I was on my own for some kilometres until a third guy came and passed me just before the half way mark. After the drink stop at 9K I perked up a bit and decided to push harder in order to keep the third guy in sight. After a while there was an easier stretch where I managed to close the gap between us inch by inch. At 13K I caught up with him but he left me again in the next hills. I was able to close the gap one more time but then he pushed hard the last 5K and I wasn’t able to follow. I kept seeing him until the end but had no chance catching him in the hills. Anyway I was happy to finish as first lady not too far behind the fastest guys. 

These trail races were not only great confidence boost but also perfect steps in my transition from roads to mountains. Especially Lida with its brutally steep ascents. None of the hills were very long but they were definitively steep enough to induce the burning sensation in my legs that I must be prepared to endure for a long time in the Alps. It’s clear I need a few more rounds of Väsjöbacken. Back to hill work then!

18k of Lida wasn't as painful as it sounds like (lida=suffer)
Floating sauna and first dip of the year 
Thrilled about the swim