Sunday, May 29, 2011

Stockholm Marathon 2011 race report

Stockholm Marathon 2011 on Saturday turned out much better than I feared. The weather was perfect +15C with a solid cloud cover. There was a record number of starters (16,131) and finishers (15,471) - and huge crowds of enthusiastic supporters as always. My result was 3:35:23, which is great considering my plantar fasciitis, hamstring issues, and the flu virus that has kept bugging me for a fortnight.

They say that you should never try anything new on a race day, but I couldn't resist trying the following new items (that's new to me, these products have been available for some time already):

  • I wore 2XU Compression Calf Guards for the first time ever on race day - they were possibly helpful, or at least not harmful in any way. I saw many runners wearing them.
  • I took a couple of 60 ml SiS Go gels during the race - I've never tried them before, but they went down well (they don't require water), and there was no issues although I mixed it with a wide range of stuff: a cup of sports drink at every aid station, a cup of vegetable bouillon, and a cup of coke, as well as a heavily salted gherkin. 
  • I wore Merrell Quick synthetic socks with anatomically mapped merino wool cushioning - I have trained, but not raced with them before. There were no blisters or other issues. I thought the wool might help if it rained, but it didn't rain.
  • After the race, I used BetterYou Magnesium Oil spray for recovery - mainly for my legs, to avoid cramps and stiffness. It was a gift from my mom and it seems to help. It contains Zechstein magnesium, which I believe is the best in the world.
However I didn't wear my new Hoka OneOne Bondi B.-shoes - I'm not that crazy. I ran with my trusty old Brooks ST Racers, which I believe was the right choice, although I also considered using Brooks Green Silence. I had installed elastic Lock Laces for all of my shoes a couple of weeks earlier, and had no issues with them during the race.

I started from Group B, which is an honor that I earned with my last year's 3:06 Stockholm Marathon result.

There was a bit of drama after the first km, when a faster runner overtook me forcibly and stepped on my shoe, making me lose my balance for a moment. I didn't fall down because I hands hit another runner, who weirdly enough then apologized to me. I felt sharp pain in my previously injured right hamstring once again, and I knew right there and then that I'd better take it very easy if I wanted to finish at all.

I wasn't going too slow initially, because my 5K split was 21:32 (4:19 min/km), and I was 786th. However after that my pace and placing kept on dropping until the last 5 K, which averaged about 5:50 min/km. My half-marathon split was 1:38:28, so the second half was much slower.

As mentioned above, I finished in 3:35:23 (2,869th place overall). I was very happy with my 5:07 min/km average pace, although this was the slowest of my five Stockholm results. It was actually fun to run slowly and pay some attention the scenery, sights and people around me. There were lots of runners and enthusiastic supporters around at every point of the race. I made absolutely no effort whatsoever to run faster than what felt light, easy and smooth. There was not too much pain, as long as I kept going slow.

The sea cruise from Helsinki to Stockholm and back was great with lots of good food and good runners. The luxury passenger ship took us to a harbor that was located about a mile from the marathon start/finish area. We were able to leave our luggage in our cabins and simply walk to the start and back in about 30 minutes with our running gear on. I left my track suit and mobile phone in a plastic bag in the starting area, and I got it handed back to me after the race.

The race organisation worked very smoothly and efficiently, which I guess is one of the main reasons runners love Stockholm Marathon and run there year after year.

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