Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Are you ready?

This weekend was my last hard training weekend before the Ultrabirken 60km race June 14. My goal was to run a total of 50 km, and I was ready for long hours in the forest alone. But all of a sudden, I had company. My friend Vibeke is training for Swissman on June 21 - and I'm actually going to Switzerland to crew for her! (we often argue about what will be most painful - running 60 km or a mountainous Ironman at altitude. I vote for the latter.) She decided to join for my runs me at the last minute.


Saturday was May 17, which is Norway's national day. This year we're celebrating 200 years of independence. I don't like crowds, and I'm not particularly nationalistic (not being Norwegian), so I thought disappearing into the woods was a good way to celebrate.

We started our run from Sognsvann, and took a path-less-walked in to Ullevålseter, a café in Nordmarka forest. Despite the sunny weather, there were only a few people out front. Everyone else was downtown, sporting their bunad or other finery, downing ice cream and hot dogs like there's no tomorrow.

 
We took a technical trail over Dølerudhøgda til Bjørnholt, climbing high enough to almost get a view. The height variations in Nordmarka don't generally allow for many spectacular vistas. There is a vibrant character to the forest at this time of year, however. In the sunlight, the shrubs growing on the forest floor seem to be stretching their necks to reach the sun, while the regal spruce trees quietly says"a little at a time, youngsters" with its shimmering needles. 
 
We saw no one, except a few birds who were terrified of our passing.
Leg selfie on a dying patch of snow
On the steep, technical descent towards Bjørnholt, I charged off, jumping off of rocks and ricocheting around turns. I heard Vibeke yell, "I'm going to take this slowly, I don't want to get injured." I slowed to wait for her, and two minutes later she slipped on a rock and fell down hard. 
 
Everything was all right, except for her thumb. She said it hurt bad, and she thought she might have heard a cracking sound when she jammed her hand into the rock. We found a clump of snow that she put on her hand, and we limped out towards Bjørnholt, where there is a dirt road. I kept thinking, "I broke my friend."
 
After deliberation at Bjørnholt, we decided to keep running rather than calling a cab. I was skeptical at first, because it had seemed like Vibeke hurt so much. Then I thought, even if she broke her thumb it probably won't get any worse from running. So we kept going.
 
Vibeke ran the whole way back with her wrist held up like that :)
We ended the day back at Sognsvann with a well deserved swim (the water was a surprisingly agreeable temperature) and ice cream among the downtown crowds.
 
Day 1 stats: 23.3 km, 588 moa, elapsed time 3:17

Sunday dawned just as sunny, and I wasn't sore, so I was glad we were going out again. This time we started from my apartment in Oslo, and ran up to Maridalsvann, the lake that provides water for most of Oslo. My legs felt a little heavy at first, but loosened up quickly. Vibeke's thumb was just fine (!).
 
We ran part way around it and then headed up one of my favourite gruelling climbs: up to Fagervann. I've done this climb a couple times in my training; at least once there was snow almost half the way. It clocks in at 300 vertical meters in about 2 km, and most of the trail is at a pretty runnable grade.


On Sunday, we ran everything that was runnable. Hard. I remembering looking at my heart rate, thinking "this probably isn't sustainable", and then keeping pushing. There's nothing like a good, sustained push up a big hill. Luckily, I didn't kill my legs and we made it up to Fagervann in record time.

Vibeke at Fagervann

Instead of covered in grey ice and surrounded by snow, the lake was now a sparkling blue and practically inviting us to swim. "I have to come back here to camp!" I commented. We decided we would save the swim for Sognsvann again and pushed on. There were many miles to go.

In easy (read: no potholing because there was no snow) running conditions, the technical trails past Fagervann passed quickly. Before I knew it, we were grinding the dirt road up to Ullevålseter. The café was markedly different from the previous. Everyone seemed to have realised their mistakes in not enjoying the forest on Saturday, and they had all hiked to Ullevålseter to make up for it.

Outside Ullevålseter with the crowds


After Ullevålseter, we jogged to 6 km out to Sognsvann chanting "Swim. Swim. Swim." It felt, if possible, even better than the previous day. The last couple of kms to the metro felt like a lap of victory.

Stats day 2: 26.7km, 684moa, elapsed time 3:35 (including a stop to swim)

I don't know quite what it takes to be ready to run 60 km, but I'm starting to feel ready. And I think feeling ready might be the most important thing.

- The Wild Bazilchuk

2 comments:

  1. Yay! you can do it! Man, I wish the trails in Tromsø looked like that, they've been getting more and more impossible to run on :(

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  2. Adventure buddies are the best! I'm glad yours wasn't broken or scared away. :) Happy tapering!

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