Traveling shoes: Stockholm Marathon

The 4th of June I ran the Stockholm Marathon, my 4th marathon! This has been my favorite race so far. By no means I say it based on my performance, since it wasn’t great. But I’ll get there later…

First of all, let me start with a disclaimer. I had never decided to join a marathon with such a short time to prepare: two months before the event. Yes, I knew it was 42.2Km/26.6Mi. I felt I could do it since I had been running often, although I didn’t want to push myself to avoid injuries.

I signed up for the race from Peru, and they sent my athlete race info by mail all the way from Sweden! I love old mail, and this felt pretty special.

On race day I went to the expo a couple of hours before the race. Athletes could use public transport for free all day long (you must love Sweden). The race had around 13,500 participants. The expo was neat and well organized although rather small compared to some US events. ASICS was the race sponsor and they did a great job.

Race start was set at noon. This sounds weird compared to most races, but in Scandinavian countries it makes a lot of sense. Even in summer, by starting later we had better chances of getting good weather. Conditions were perfect: Skies were blue and temperature was around 18 degrees.

The course started in the main city area, then crossed four islands, going into forests and gardens and then back to the first city circuit. It had a mix of everything: old, modern and green.

People often think of Scandinavians as cold, but I couldn’t agree less. It is the first time I have seen so many supporters. “Heja, heja, heja!” People took small tables, chairs and wine into the streets to enjoy the sun and support the runners. It was hard seeing them and not joining in.

Along the course there were different live bands and DJs . Each of them had different types of music. I passed through a steel pan band and a Jamaican DJ which made me go back to when I lived in Trinidad. Nice memories from the time I was training for my second marathon.
I was enjoying the race so much! I was running at a good pace, and passed the 21km mark in 1h50m. I held the pace until I realized I didn’t have enough gummies for the race, and my sugar levels started going low on the 28th km.

Looking back I realized my overconfidence backfired. Yep, overconfidence is something all runners and triathletes have, and it makes us believe we can do it all.

Error #1 : I thought the course would be flat. After running the San Francisco Marathon I always think everything else is flat. It wasn’t completely flat and I felt the hills.

Error #2: I wasn’t careful enough to pay attention to my nutrition prior to the race and during the race. I had breakfast too early, I didn’t take any snack before the race, and I just got some gummies without checking if they would be enough. The race was at lunch time!

My sugar low brought negative thoughts and a feeling of being really, really cold. I realized how I was slowing down and people started passing me. The good thing is that even if we runners may sometimes lack self-awareness, me make up for it with determination.

I fought my thoughts. I realized how lucky I was to be there, and to have amazing people who believed in me. I drank a Coke and allowed myself to walk a few steps to feel strong again without feeling defeated.

The last 300 meters were in the track of the Stockholm Olympic Stadium. I crossed the finish line feeling like a strong Olympic athlete. 3:55:56 was not such a bad time. I guess the struggle more about my idea of being faster than in my last race.

And I must say, if you are considering traveling for a marathon: Stockholm is one well-worth. Runners World was right to include it in the Top10 Marathons. The race and the city are so beautiful that you won’t be disappointed 😉

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