Vår trailkock Billy sprang Lidingöloppet Ultramarathon förra helgen. Här delar han med sig om hur han mötte väggen under loppet. Men middagen på kyckling, tabbouleh och endivsallad var i alla fall god.
For the last four years my first race of the season has been the Lidingö ultra, this year was no exception so on Sunday morning I toed the starting line. I was feeling great, the last weeks of training had gone really well, last years race went well and I was confident that this years would go even better! It was glorious sunshine with a small breeze. What could possibly go wrong..?
The gun fired at 9.30 and 450 runners set off around the rolling hills and well used trails of Lidingö. The first 10k is almost a repeat of the last third of the Lidingöloppet, a few big climbs but a fast and runnable course. For the first half I was running with a friend, Petter, at a steady pace. It felt great and was well within my goal finishing time of 4 hours 45 mins. As Petter turned off to finish his 26k and enjoy an ice cold beer in the sun, I continued straight to what I’ve always found the hardest part of the race. 6-7k of perfectly flat gravel paths along the water, this is the perfect sun trap, protected from the breeze and almost completely without shade. Going from 26 to 32 kilometres on this terrain should be a welcome respite from the hills of the rest of the course, but every year this has been the part that sucks the most of my energy. I pushed as hard as I could, but after reaching the 33 kilometre mark I completely exploded. My legs totally gave in, the injuries I’ve been struggling with over the last few months seemed to all come back all at the same time, and for no reason whatsoever I started crying!! I hit the wall hard for the first time. I walk/jogged for the remaining 16k. At times things seemed to improve, but as soon as I pushed for more than a couple of minutes I broke down again, it was such a strange feeling. Eventually one hour after I had hoped, I managed to drag myself over the finish line. Exhausted, a little confused and disappointed.
In the days after I’ve thought a lot about what happened and why. My conclusion is that I was cocky, I thought I was going to smash this race without really needing to train specifically and I was completely wrong. Since running this race last year I’ve done four trail ultras between 80 and 120k, all of which have been hard but ok, a couple have even gone fantastically well, I didn’t respect this distance of 50k and it punished me for it. For that I’m equally sorry and grateful. I’ll be be back in 2019 with a lot more humility and, hopefully, a lot better race.
Roast Chicken with Tabbouleh and Chicory salad
1 chicken, organic if possible
2 msk of Zaatar
Extra virgin Olive oil
3 dl bulgur wheat
A handful each of parsley, mint, dill, basil, ruccola, coriander, chopped roughly
Juice of 1 lemon
1 msk of white wine vinegar
1 small red onion, finely dice
2 tomatoes, deseeded and diced quite small
½ cucumber, diced quite small
½ a clove of crushed garlic
Salt and pepper
Dried Turkish chili flakes (optional)
2 heads of Chicory endive
Greek or Turkish yoghurt
Preheat the oven to 220 C.
Spatchcock the chicken, you do this by taking a pair of strong kitchen scissors and cutting along either side of the back bone, try to avoid the meat connecting the legs to the back bone, these are called the chicken’s oysters, in my opinion the best bit of the whole chicken. This lessens the cooking time of the bird, which keeps the breast meat that can dry out much moister whilst also allowing the skin to crisp up nicely.
Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and the Zaatar. Zaatar is a very commonly used middle eastern spice mix containing thyme, oregano and toasted sesame seeds among other things. It’s fantastic with chicken and available in most large supermarkets.
Cook the chicken in the oven for around 40 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and the legs’ meat can easily be pierced with a fork.
Meanwhile cook the bulgur to the instructions on the packet, allow to cool slightly.
Whilst the bulgur is cooling and chicken is resting, mix the other ingredients in the tabbouleh together with a very generous glug of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the bulgur to the herb mix until you get what you feel is the right mix, it should be roughly two parts herbs to bulgur.
Serve with crumbled feta, a big blob of yoghurt and the chicory. I always have a beer with dinner the night before a race too, just for a few extra carbs!