Sunday, June 7, 2015

Running and skiing and stuff

Due to a sudden case of PhD-exam-itis I have a backlog of photos and stories from skiing in Lyngen in early May that you can look forward reading in the next couple weeks. In the mean time, here’s a quick round-up of what I’ve been up to, despite having exams.

Marathon training is a fine balance of enjoyment and discipline. Since February, I’ve been training for Nordmarka Skogsmaraton, which will take place on June 20. I have been faithfully following a marathon training plan for the first time in my life, but a few weeks ago the stress of exams overwhelmed me and I was forced to relax. I came down with a bad cold, I had an icky twinge in my calf, and I decided settle back down into running just for fun.


A few weeks ago, while visiting my boyfriend’s family in beautiful Sunnmøre, I finally completed a running loop I’ve been mean to do for a long time. I climbed from the village of Norddal, up and over the mountains that rise steeply from the sea and over to the neighbouring village of Eidsdal. The loop was closed by running along the fjord back to Norddal (Strava track here).

Idyllic much?

For the first time in months, I forgot about hitting a certain pace or heart rate. I saw a side trail, and instead of mentally saving it for some other time, I powerhiked up the steep trail and enjoyed the view. Then I bombed down the switchbacks to Eidsdal like I had stolen something. Twenty kilometers later, I had finally remembered all the things I love about running.

On top of a mountain, with the valley floor far below. As it should be!

The next week, Dad and I put in a slow 30 km long run through the hills of Bymarka, running for nearly three and a half hours and climbing over 800 vertical meters (Strava track here). Reaching the 30 km barrier seemed important to me somehow, like if I ran 30 km then I would ready for the marathon. Now I feel like I’ve done the speed work, and the endurance work. The rest will be decided on the race day.
Dad surveys the dam at Skjelbreia on our long run.
Then just last week my friend Ivar challenged me to sign up for a trail race, Trondheimsløpet. The course was on my local trails, and the start a 5 minute walk from my house, so I said yes. How hard could 13 km be?
Excited at the beginning of the race. Dad is behind me in the baseball cap.
The race was excellent. I started in the back of the field, as has become my habit, and slowing picked off the people who started too hard. I duelled it out with another girl, whose long, blond braid I watched swing back and forth directly in front of me for most of the race. I would catch her in the technical and muddy sections, where I was at home, only to be caught on the flat sections with a speed I could not match. She beat me by 40 seconds in the end, and we came in 5th and 6th out of 21 women overall (Strava track here). I felt like I was able to put in a good, hard effort without overdoing it. My only regret was not taping my shoelaces into a bundle before the race; one of them came untied during the race and I lost precious seconds retying it.

Last Friday was Dad’s birthday, and we celebrated it by driving to Trollstigen, a road over a mountain pass that allows access to snow even this late in the season. My sister Zoe flew down from Tromsø to join us. The weather was not optimal, so we decided to ski the short but classic peak Alnestind. The snow was really wet and heavy, and a number of wet avalanches had gone in the area. It rained for a while on the way up, and it felt pretty dismal to be out skiing in the rain. 

Beautiful views of ‘the Bishop’ mountain on Trollstigen even in the gloomy, wet weather.
A large cornice lurked on a ridge above the uphill ski track. Blocks of snow falling from the cornice had already triggered at least one avalanche, whose path we could see. We hustled up, trying to get out of the danger zone as quickly as possibly. Then the sun came out, and then the beautiful view made up for the injustice of rain while skiing. 

Dad and Zoe on the steepest part of the ski up Alnestind. Note the avalanche paths in the background.
The snow was heavy and made for slow skiing on the way down. Just after I took the photo below, another huge block cleaved off the cornice.
Dad free his heel. I believe his mind has followed.
If I had had my wits about me, I would have taken more pictures of the avalanche. It was big enough to be pretty scary, and I was pretty dumbstruck. As it were, I only got this one:

That "HOLY S*** - we were right below there!” moment.
We were immensely happy we hadn’t been standing below the cornice it fell, as it swept right over our uphill tracks. Which begs the question, did we make the wrong decision in skiing under the cornice at all? I think so. We could just as well have been standing below it - you can’t predict when a cornice will collapse!

Zoe measuring the snow bank along the Trollstigen road, with ‘the King’ and ‘the Bishop’ mountains majestically in the background.
The sun was still out and the day not yet over, so Dad and I decided to run a trail called Kløvstien from the valley bottom to the top of Trollstigen pass. It ended up being mostly power hiking, as the trail was wet and rocky. I have driven the Trollstigen road many times, but never hiked up the path the winds near it. It was a completely different experience than driving and it definitely made me appreciate the work that went into building a road up that thing!

Are you ready to get WET? One of the rougher sections of Kløvstien.
The weather forecast was even worse for Sunday, so we planed a short hike before the long drive home. The well-worn trail up Nesaksla in Åndalsnes provides a spectacular view of the town below and the surrounding mountains. Since my last hike there three years ago, they’ve built stone steps into the steep mountainside and a breath-taking viewing platform.

Zoe on the stone staircase, with Åndalsnes spread out below.
Seven hundred vertical meters in 2.5 kilometers is no joke, even for my running legs. Once again, I was stunned by what Romsdalen offers in the way of mountains and views. In my opinion, the Romsdalen area is right up there with Lyngen for the most beautiful areas in Norway. We’ll see what you think once I’ve written my next post about spring skiing in Lyngen - stay tuned!

Dad on the viewing platform. The end is see-through and you look straight down on the treetops below - kind of disconcerting!

- The Wild Bazilchuk

4 comments:

  1. Wow. Can I come play with you?! Why have I never been to Norway?!

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    1. A mountain-lover like you would dig it here! But be warned: it's cold and wet.

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  2. Very nice
    I wanna to ask about if there is any snow in Norway in July ?
    I'm planning to visit Norway in July 2016 but i really would like to see snow
    thanks

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    1. Hi there, so cool you're planning a trip to Norway. There's plenty of snow in the mountains in July, but not enough to go skiing (most places anywa)y. The best way to see snow for sure is to visit an area with glaciers like Jostedalen/Jotunheimen. Good luck planning your trip!

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