…but at least I tried.
The idea of a morning run was scrapped at ten thirty last night, while I was watching Arrested Development. Instead I had this idea that I would run around the island of Amager (see map above), roughly 42km. Amager is maybe the best place to get away from the crowds of Copenhagen. As a Norwegian I’m used to being alone from time to time. Denmark is quite densely populated compared to Norway. I’m used to wilderness, and that, arguably, is something you won’t find in Denmark. Sure, you can walk undisturbed for a few km through beautiful forest; but more than that and you will tumble in to a garden with a trampoline and a dog. Of course it’s not the Danes’ fault that most of Norway is uninhabitable and Denmark is not. Some would say it’s a good thing. Enough about that.
So to get that feeling of existential battle with nature, I chose to run along the Urban north side of the island first, and then enjoy the scenery on the way back. The real reason, of course, was to force myself to finish the whole route. Once I’d be out there in the unknown green area, there would be no way back, no buses to hop on. (Next time I might do the opposite, because I’d rather enjoy the scenery while I can.) I gave myself a 6 hour cutoff time, and started out by the famous statue of the Little Mermaid, full of expectation and self confidence.
I was in pretty good shape until 20km. I should add that the longest I’ve ever run is 21.1km. I stopped shortly in picturesque Dragør to refill my bottle with apple juice. After that it started getting hard, even though the scenery kept improving. The far end of the island must be one of the prettiest landscapes around Copenhagen. I was still running most of the time, but from this point I was walking more and more. For every km I developed a new sore spot in my legs. I told myself that crashing through boundaries always hurts a bit. I ran/walked until 30km, still dreaming of finishing in 5 hours. At 30km I had to sit down and eat some chocolate. I felt like I was out in the desert with no idea how to get home. My legs were aching. This was what I came for, but I didn’t expect my legs to be this sore. I don’t think I technically hit the wall, but I think my legs are simply not ready to run this long. Hitting the wall might take a bit more effort.
I walked the next 6 km, which felt like much longer. Even walking was hard at this stage. I tried to get myself to at least walk fast, but that seemed impossible. I tried to envision images of the endurance athletes running the Badwater Ultramarathon, but that really didn’t help at all. The fields around Kalvebod Fælled are endless and the roads are dead straight, making this part of the trip a bit of a “Twin Peaks” experience. Luckily my wife called and told me I was awesome. I still had some vain hope I could make the six hour cutoff, but that would mean doing some more running.
At about 36km I started running again. I really surprised myself there. I ran another 3km through Ørestad. (I’m not crazy about the architecture here.) I had to start walking again, trying to not look like a lost junkie on the highway. My six hours were up, and I’d only run/walked/crawled 39km. At this time It was painful to even sit down. I took a train home and bought a whole grain Kebop from my local Turkish take-away place (times have changed), and went home.
Ultimately I had failed, but I was still pretty happy to have explored the remote side of Amager island, and especially happy I was able to pick up the pace at the end. I’m even proud of the walking, just because it was so uncomfortable. Am I ready for a marathon anytime soon? No. I’m definitely going back to good old mileage training. But I feel like I have taken my first steps to knowing how far 42.2km really is, and hopefully this knowledge will come in handy. Maybe at least 21km won’t feel as long after this. I am truly curious as to how I will feel tomorrow at work, though. Right now I feel fine. Back to old episodes of “Arrested Development”. That show is addictive.