Moving onto day two in Stockholm and the main event for my trip - the 35th annual Stockholm marathon, ran by over 21,000 people from 81 countries. The race was to start at Noon - late for a race start but it allowed one to have a morning to prep, have breakfast, and not feel rushed. Arriving at the starting line, the adrenaline pumping through my body about the run, I lined up in my corral and waited to start. It was refreshing to see so few Americans in the race, this truly was a European race. A few minutes before the start, "Sweet Caroline," came on in honor of this year's Boston marathon. A shiver went through my body. Standing there, I had an overwhelming rush of recognition of how lucky I was to be there and how running truly transcends cultural and societal boundaries. Being a runner, it does not matter where you are from, as you will always be a runner.
Bang! The start gun goes off and everyone is running! 2 loops of central Stockholm with kilometers added on here and there to make the appropriate 42.195 km distance of a marathon. Passing over bridges and across islands, through the expanses of local parks and long stretches of highway along the water, one truly got to take the city in. There were folks cheering us on even in the pouring rain, plenty of Abba cover bands and definitely some of the most unique refreshment stations -- pickles, coffee, warm pickle juice, and much more. By far the best part of the course was the finish and no that's not because you were done running, it's cause you got to run through the 1912 Olympic Stadium -- what a rush! It sure didn't matter that it was raining and freezing -- this was a once in a lifetime experience!
Crossing the finish line, thoughts flooded into my head of the tragedy and disappointment runners in Boston just a few short months ago must have felt. Thinking to my Coco and how she watched over me the entire race, I never had any pain and never feeling the effects of the 26.2 miles on my legs -- here's to you Coco, for being my guardian angel in this and many other marathons to come.
So how to celebrate?
How about with a meal at a restaurant with one of the most breathtaking views of Stockholm -- Gondolen. New Nordic cuisine by a locally renowned chef.
We had the pleasure of sitting in the kitchen area which felt much more like a country rustic restaurant than an urban metropolis joint.
And last but not leastwe had to have a bite of their cheese! Of course all of the selections were French, but hey what did you expect?
So what did we have?
I started with a steamed local white asparagus dish served with homemade avocado and spinach purée, topped with shavings of Parmesan, basil leaves and micro greens. Simple, flavorful, and highlighting the season's spectacular bounty.
Next up, I had their house beet root cured char served soft scrambled eggs, asparagus, radish, English pea purée and a cauliflower purée. Simple yet decadent and delish, this clean dish truly was Nordic cuisine at its finest. Never in my life have I had such wonderful smoked fish, each morsel truly melted in your mouth.
So we had a small morsel of their aged Comte paired with truffle honey and a fig walnut compote. A great way to end this celebration of an evening and day!
Here's to a great meal and a great race!