But to be totally honest I still don't know. I just ran. And that's the truth.
I ran to reach a goal.
I ran to defend my goldmedal.
I ran to break a personal record.
I ran for Sweden.
Before the race:
We arrive early to the arena. Good, I like to be on location, feel that I'm in control.
|Foto: Stig Andy Kvalheim Rambö|
As always I wanted to be alone just before the start.
I plugged in my headphones, put on my sunglasses and sat down by myself.
Soon I would get to start, soon all those hours of hard training would be made justice, all that energy I had spent on getting in the best shape of my life would now be released.
I had a clear goal. I would run 245 km and defend my title as European Champion, and I would do it my way.
|Foto: Andre Migneau|
Suddenly my body starts protesting. It's hot and it feels like I'm running with the brakes on. I yell at Andreas. I get a soaked "buff" to put around my neck and extra water with salts. A few more laps and the breakes are off. At the end of the first six hours I think I'm in 6th or 7th place. But it's totally irrelevant at the time.
4pm - 10pm:
The sun is preparing to leave. I am preparing to press start. Soon, soon. The loops go by. I've been to the bathroom twice so far. That's a record. If I'm doing this, I'm doing this. No fuss. This is what I've trained for. I listen to music and connect the songs with feelings and memories that drives me forward, I eat gel, drink water and Perpeteum. Gainomax tastes great after 6 hours but the Fanta after 12 hours is amazing. After a little fishingtrip I pass the croatian girl who has ran to fast in the beginning and after 11hours and 30 minutes I am in the lead.
10pm - 4 am:
The night has arrived. I push the startbutton. I go to the bathroom again at 13 hours but decied that it's the last time (it was the kind of hole-in-the-ground, and that is not so desireable after 13hours of running, Annika went after 23h, yiack, just saying).
The number of runners on the course has decreased. The air is cool. My favourite temperature. Alot of people put on jackets and hats.
At 12 hours I set a new Swedish record with 127.157 km with 3 min and 21 seconds left on that hour.
At 12hours I'm suppose to slow down just a bit. I feel that I actually don't need to but I think I still do to be sure that the plan works the whole way.
At about 15hours and 15 minutes it's a new Swedish record on 100 miles.
I yell out to Anna and Andreas that now it's only two marathons and a couple of kilometres left to my goal. It made perfectly good sense in my head, but not to them.
I don't want the race to end. This is what I've been training for and now I'm here. This is what I want, I have to make the absolute best of it. I know that I can run for 24hours, now there's another agenda.
When it's 7hours to go I start counting in my head (not my strongest, and not after 17hours of running) och start thinking that maybe Lizzy Hawkers record at 247.1 is possible. I yell at Andreas to do the math (he does alot of counting during this race). I really think I have it in me.6h and 30 min left and he says that if I keep the splits like I'm doing now, it'll work.
4am - 10am:
I keep the splits. From time to time I feel abit f*cked up in the head, but nothing a little RedBull and som gel with caffeine can't handle.
I feel that it's actually going to work. I feel strong. The legs are moving forward. The race cannot simply end. I have to run a little further.
With 2h left Andreas says: "IAU has skipped the difference between road and track. You have to run 2.5 km further."
"Eeeeehhhh, say what?????" I think to myself; "Jesus man, you can't be serious, ok, that's it, I'm screwed, it'll never work...."
One more lap.
"You can do it Maria, but you have to speed up, 250 is the goal!!!"
Speed up? After 22 hours of running it's not your favourite thing to hear.
1hour 50 minutes and 19 km to 250km.
"Oh what the hell, I'll give it a try. Make it or break it."
Whatever happens I have to give it my best. I speed up. And make it. The legs start moving faster. Shit.
50 min left.
"Maria, you have to speed up even more."
I nearly burst into tear, there's nothing more. How am I going to speed up???? My legs hurt like hell, but other than that I feel fine....shit, I've got no excuses.
I speed up.
What the hell is 50 min of your life, really?
All of a suddend the legs feel lighter and the splits hit new records. I wander between hope and despair. "Oh f****ck it, one more lap, it can't be over yet, I have to make it further.
I feel as though I'm pouring my body forward and the technique is not good example on running.
Less than 10 minutes to go and I look up at the scrreen, one more lap and I'll pass 250km.
ONE FREAKING LAP!!!
Last time in the tough curve behind the stands, last time over the gravel, last time passing into the arena.
The chip gives a beep when I pass the carpet and the numbers roll over to 250km.
Andreas is screaming like a possesed, "THE GATE IS THE RECORD!!! THE GAAAAAATE!!!"
I run through the gate and now there's only minutes left.
I've got a volunteer behind me on a bike (wouldn't it have been better to be infront of me?) who's yelling Pardon Pardon, to the runners ahead of me.
Last signal, I drop the rod that's suppose to mark my final position, my legs fold from under me and I fall to the ground. I haven't stopped for 11 hours and feel kind of dizzy.
After 30 seconds on the ground a french anti-doping controller wants me out of there.
Anna and Andreas run up and we hug and cry.
A doping controll, a shower and a couple of tears later I found myself on the podium listening to the words I've been hearing every night for the last seven months: "European Champion, representing Sweden: Maria Jansson!", and; "Please stand up for the national anthem of Sweden."
A few minutes late I am back on the podium, receiveing the silver medal for the team event together with Annika, Sandra and Torill. My heart bolts with pride <3
I can't explain it ni words but my biggest thankyou to :
Det går inte att förklara i ord men världens största tack går till:
- Andreas, my coach and support, for all the blockintervalls you made me run and the right words at the right time. Like you said last year, we've only just begun. And as always, you were right :)
- Anna Grundahl and Ulf Nilrud; for going to France and staying awake for over 24 hours and for pouring your love (and sportsdrink) to us runners. Worlds best support now doubt about it! <3
- Annika, Sandra and Torill for your efforts <3
- Dan and Johan, the mens team, because you are you. And that me and Sandra got to hang in the Lufthansa lounge with you :)
- Madde! For getting my, once again, in the shape of my life!
- last but not least, to Him I share my life with. You know why <3
|Liten yrselattack efter prispallen, sånt man får ta.|
Foto: André Migneau
To sum it up:
- 3 Swedish records: 12h, 100 miles, 24h
- Nordic and European record on 24h: 250.647 km.
- Gold medal (individually)
- Silver medal (team)
So damn proud.
I didn't follow a dream, I hunted a goal.
And I won.
How I won!!!