Guest post from Ssideline City Runner Maria Schöblom. Pictures taken by Viktor Dahllöf, except for the pic of Maria stretching. That is her own photo from that race day in Hässelby, 2013. And yes, that is Maria looking happy (yes, you can tell from behind that she is smiling!) running through the cheer zone at Sthlm1o at the top.
This is supposed to be a race report from Sthlm10 but I guess I’ll start from the beginning.
I hate running. Or I used to. Ok, hate is a big word but I never really liked running anyway. I was the girl walking in school when we were supposed to run. I used to dance and now I see myself as a climber. I’ve always chosen activities that make me forget that I actually train. It needs to be fun and also social or else I don’t see the purpose of it.
I started to run due to a bet. In August 2013 after watching Midnattsloppet (one of Stockholms popular 10k races) my friend Jill said after a couple of glasses of wine: “I think I can run 10k sub45 – how hard can it be?”. Our friend Lars Södergård, one of Swedens best runners at that distance happened to be present at the afterparty. He had just become number 7 in Midnattsloppet. So for Jill to prove that it’s “easy to run sub45” he convinced her to sign up for Hässelbyloppet in October. Only 2 months away. Hässelbyloppet is known for being a flat race and popular when it comes to running fast. I thought I might as well join her and go for sub50. I mean if Jill’s going to run sub45 then sub50 would be within reach, I thought. None of us had run 10k before and none of us were running on a regular basis.
Anyway – October 13th 2013 arrived and Jill collapsed after about 46min – 500 meter from the finish line. Totally exhausted after crushing it on her first race ever. Well crushing it for 9,5k.. I managed to follow a girl in a bright purple jacket for 5K in 5 min/K speed. But had to slow down after that and finished on 52.24 No one was cheering me on over the finish line, my friends were busy feeding a confused Jill with Coca Cola.
One would think that the 10k race and the intense 1-2 runs per week before that would have encouraged me to keep on running but no. I needed something else.
I found Ssideline City Run Club in August of 2014 on a friend’s Facebook feed. Everyone welcome, it said. First we run, then we drink beer. Perfect! Sounded familiar. Climbing and afterclimb beers is my specialty.
My new Ssideline City family became an addiction, prestigeless running and meeting new friends was the secret recipe I needed to actually continue running. We ran every Tuesday and I showed up every week, regardless the weather. I even skipped climbing sessions to go running. There was never any stress of going faster or training harder, although you could of course choose to go with the faster group to get a proper training session. After a year in Ssideline City Run Club I ran a couple of races but didn’t push myself to go super fast. After a while I even showed up Saturday mornings. First just for brunch and then actually joining the runs before the brunch.
On Wednesday June 15th, Stockholm was bathing in sun. A beautiful day! Sthlm10 was about to happen. A new 10k race in the middle of Stockholm around the water of Riddarfjärden. I had run intervals on my own, just once the week before the race, not fun at all. Otherwise just social runs with Ssideline, but I had a great feel in my body and had been feeling really nervous the whole week. I even made a music list perfectly timed so that the cheesy 80’s classics would hit me just in time for the hill up to Västerbron, the bridge that is the hardest part of the course. A big part of my Ssideline City family was there. The cheering squad prepared with signs that read “Fuck the Bridge” and “Run Like Hell” . My friend Kajsa had happily found a soap bubble machine and Berit that always carries glitter with her made sure someone in the cheering team was prepared with glitter. The first part of the run a big part of my club kept company. I remember Diogo and Oscar running and cheering at the same time, running ahead a few meters stopping to cheer, and then caching up and keeping on running. I was running and laughing at the same time, cheering and clapping back to Stockholmers that were cheering.
By kilometre 3-6 I lost my friends. Some in front of me, some behind. The sun was in my eyes, the long straight road by the quai of Södermälarstrand felt longer than expected. I started to question I do this, why am I even running, why do I push myself, what’s the meaning of life… Finally the long straight road was over, and although the hill of Västerbron came closer I found myself feeling happy about the shade from the trees, and soon I was gonna pass the cheering zone. The “Fuck the Bridge” signs turned up, my friends were shouting “Come on Maria you can do it!” and I slowed down to get some high-fives that helped me regain my strength, and just in time a 80’s synth song carried me up the hill. When running up Västerbron (the big bridge) I felt like I was part of an 80’s movie, Rocky or something. I managed to keep up the speed, at least ran faster than expected, and when the tones of “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey hit my ears it was only 1,5 k left. Some Ssideline friends that crossed the finish line before me were cheering close to the goal and I crossed the finish line on 50.44 – new personal best!
You hear and read about what makes you a better runner. Technique classes, intervals, hill training, compression tights, the latest shoes. For me the secret recipe is nothing else than having fun with your friends. Social running without negative pressure. Together with friends it’s easier to reach all your goals and when you least expect it you will be able to run like hell.