Two days after TNFEC50 in San Francisco, December 2012, I was standing on my skis again. I had in mind to try ski mountaineering so that was what I did. I got really fascinated and it captivated me the whole winter.
In February, I started to think about what races I wanted to do in the upcoming summer. Many of the Skyraces flickered through my mind. The vertical, the main, and the ultra series interest me, so I wrote a schedule for all three. Still, the summer felt so far away. And the World Championship for ski mountaineering was nearing. So running wasn’t on my mind at all!
I think I started to plan my running a little unconsciously because when March arrived, I was standing on the start line for a marathon in Spain. My first real run of the year. And like that it continued. I found myself thrown between skiing and a few days of running the weeks between March and May.
Then suddenly I was on my way to La Palma.
Am I going to destroy myself? I counted my days of running, and the amount of real runs (not just 10-minute runs to the supermarket) was around 20. Since December.
I realized that I couldn’t think like that when I was going to stand on the start line, so instead I started to think about all the meters I’ve been climbing in the winter. Also, I had one week of running in the heat on La Palma before the race. The heat training was really important. And the fact that one day I did a run with 2,000 meters of vertical. I did this just to ease my mind because I like to know that I have run half of the amount of meters the race contains. So some days before the race I started to feel confident. I knew it was early in the season and that I really shouldn’t expect anything. Anyways. Feeling relaxed and confident on the start line is wonderful and important!
So when the clock turned six and we started our run, I immediately found a good pace. The first 20k was only uphill and my heartbeat was steady and not too high. The first 10k I had an unknown French woman in front of me and I was convinced that she would drop off pretty soon. So she did. Then it was only Nuria Picas and me. The woman that had beat me in every race longer than 42k. I was in the front on whole the uphill and I listened to her breath and said to myself that she was actually breathing harder than me.
And when I felt like I needed to run alone, I just sped up. But I was a little afraid to burn myself out. I had done it before with Nuria. It was warm but the heat wasn’t bothering me as I thought it would, which was a big relief.
When I was 30k into the race, I was thinking that I should take a salt pill. I had put them in a small pocket so I would have full control of them because I thought that they could be important for me in this race. I was looking there and everywhere, but goddamn I couldn’t find them! I almost panicked. But one part of me was taking it cool and I started to think about other solutions. So I started to lick my arms. That was good but not enough.
Then I saw a familiar face, Joe Grant. He wasn’t feeling very well. He got the same flu as Anton. I asked him if he could spare me some salt pills. He said he could and, Jesus, he saved my race.
Around 60k in the race with almost all of it climbing, I was running with Nuria again. A 20k downhill was waiting for us and I had decided that I wanted to run that with her. That would make us more relaxed. We ran fast but didn’t push. When we were close to the last aid station we realized that we had a good time. Neither of us had expected this and I started to second guess my decision to run with her instead of trying to make a gap on the downhill. Me, who likes downhills! But I realized that I didn’t have it in me this time to make the push too early. I didn’t know if I would have enough power.
At the last aid station I grabbed two bottles of water and dipped myself in a big tub of water. Then I sprinted out. Six kilometers to go. It was uphill on asphalt and paved road. I raised my pace and after some minutes Nuria had dropped off. I was close to the finish line and had my first thoughts that I actually might win a long Skyrace. I forced them away. It was a long way to go. The closer I came to the finish the more people were cheering and giving me energy. Wow. Could I do this?
My first big race of the year. And I did it! I crossed the finish line with a big smile and then jumped in the arms of my Salomon teammates. Thank you to everyone who believes in me and gives me so much strength!
[Editor’s Note: We’ve also published a post-race video interview with Emelie.]