Friday, March 7, 2014

Go Ultra?

The winter in Norway this year has been very odd. There's be absolutely no snow in mid-Norway (the Trondheim region). Although we had a couple of good weeks down south in Oslo, about a month ago it started raining and didn't stop. And that's when everyone realised it had been grey/cloudy/raining/snowing forever. Seriously, the newspaper last week reported that there has been 17 hours of sun in Oslo in 2014.

In an act of desperation, I have resorted to running. And remember how much I love it. Even though most of my runs look like this:

This is a viewpoint where you should be able to see most of Oslo. Yup.
So now I need a race to train for. I would be running the Forest Marathon again, but I'm going to Switzerland that weekend to crew Swissman for my friend Vibeke. (That's going to be a whole other story, but it should be fun. Yes, I'm running the last 8 km to the finish with her to make sure she doesn't collapse and die and stuff.)

What to do? For a long time I've been talking about taking up ultras. From 2007 - 2011 I worked in the full-service mountain huts in Trollheimen. The main huts form a three-day hike called the 'Triangle', which is around 63 km with a little over 2000 meters of climbing. Not surprisingly, some of us hut bums made a sport of running the entire thing on our day off. I completed it in one day three separate times, finally shaving my time down to 9 hours 53 minutes (and beating my dear father by an hour, although he swears he'll have his revenge some day!)

Blåhøe wearing a hat of clouds on one of my first trips round the Triangle
All this to say, I have sort of run an ultra before. Just alone and unsupported and not timed and stuff. And basically, I thought it was a lot of fun. So I know, mentally, that I can run far. I also know that I was much fitter three years ago, because I had around 5 hours a day off to train in the mountains during the summer.

I've found a race; it's called the UltraBirken Mountain Run, 60-odd kilometers, and it's on June 14. This week, I tried to do 'high volume' running (at least for me). I've run 60 km this far in March, at slow (MAF) speeds, and to be honest, I feel great.

The only tiny, insignificant detail is that my master's thesis is due on June 9. So maybe I shouldn't be embarking on an epic running quest right now. On the other hand, I have to do something to stay sane, and maybe organised training for this event will help me get through my thesis.

So should I go Ultra?

- The Wild Bazilchuk

5 comments:

  1. It depends. Are you one of those people that is easily overwhelmed? It really could go two ways: 1. balance your life out a little by running and endorphins and all that while working on your thesis. 2 Freakout meltdown when the running volume and thesis volume get too demanding.

    I'm personally #1 and love running to clear my head and help me focus, so if that's you, I'd totally go for it. It would be a wonderful way to celebrate the end of your schooling too!

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    1. I'm not easily overwhelmed, but I have been known to take on too much :P I don't have to sign up until May 1, so I guess I'm just going to train like I'm going to do it until then!

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  2. Perhaps the shortest "ultra" is the Zermatt Ultra, with only 3.4km extra to run after the marathon... and 514m up. http://www.zermattmarathon.ch/index.php?id=19&L=1
    https://secure.datasport.com/?zermattm14

    The Jungfrau marathon is also very scenic!

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    1. I guess in Zermatt the altitude makes it hard though? I've pretty much settled on Birken Ultra, a race here in Norway, which is 60 km but not much vertical, and actually net descent.

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