18 May 2013

A Trip Down Memory Lane: Stockholm Marathon 2008

Back in 2008 I got this crazy that I should run a marathon. I'd done my first year at uni, was on a pretty solid road to recovery from my long lasting eating disorder and felt that I needed to do something that would make me appreciate my body. When I was ill running was a form of punishment, a punishment for eating, but once I'd signed up for the 2008 Stockholm Marathon I fell in love with running. Running became a form of therapy, it made me grateful that my body was fit enough to keep moving for hours and first and foremost it made me feel alive and strong after having spent many years feeling numb and weak.

I started training properly in December 2007, following the official training program for the marathon composed by Swedish ex-olympian Anders Szalkai. Despite never meeting the bloke he became a friend and mentor solely based on the little comments in the training programme, making me believe that I actually would be able to run the entire 26.2 miles. To say I followed the programme religiously would be an understatement - that winter I lived, eat and breathed marathon running. My parents were a great source of support, picking me up in nearby villages after my 30k runs and driving me to some smaller races in the lead up to the marathon. My uncle, who used to be an avid and talented runner in his youth, gave me loads of advice and encouragement.

When the big day finally arrived my dad drove me down the 600 kilometres to Stockholm and some family friends put us up the night before and after the race. Stockholm marathon is a special city race, instead of taking place at 9am on a Sunday morning (to cause as little disruptions as possible) they instead shut down the whole city on a Saturday afternoon, dedicating the whole day to the race. There is an immense crowd support throughout the course (which is a 2 lap course, but the laps aren't identical) and you finish the race at the 1912 Olympic Stadium (the only time I will ever feel like an olympian haha).

On race day 2008 it was almost 30C at 2pm when we started and Stockholm was looking bsolutely stunning in the blazing sunshine. I had tried to eat and hearty breakfast but I was too nervous to eat really (which now has become a tradition whenever I race....pre-race nerves = Josefine can't eat) so I jus hoped that I'd fuelled enough the days before. I started very far back and it took me sometime to even reach the starting line. I had decided that I was gonna run at a leisurely pace as I wanted to finish the race feeling strong and the first lap was probably the most pleasant 13 miles I've ever run in a race. On the second lap I allowed myself to pick up the pace slightly, enjoying feeling strong and fit, and not even passing the much feared Västerbron for the second time made me feel very tired. The heat didn't bother me much at all, I sweat much regardless of weather and kept drinking lots of water and isotonic fluids throughout the race, in addition to running under all the massive showers they'd positioned along the course to help cool the runners. When I got to the 40k mark I already felt like a winner and the last 2 kilometres were pretty easy running mainly because I was on such a runners high, knowing that I'd not only conquered the 26.2 mile course, but also the demons in my head - I had conquered my eating disorder! When entering the packed Olympic Stadium I didn't know if I wanted to laugh or cry, and I think I did both, and when crossing the finish line and looked up at the stands and saw my dad waving ecstatically I knew I'd never been happier in my life.

After the race I was pretty stiff and sore, not to mentioned sunburned, but the one thought that kept popping up in my head is this quote from the poem Invictus:
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul
I finished the race in 4:15:10, running a negative split i my first ever marathon. I stuck to my plan and finished the race feeling strong and I was the 809 lady out of 4320! Crossing the finish line this song was playing on my iPod and whenever I hear it now it takes me right back to that day when I came alive again.


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