Monday, January 25, 2016

One week in Taiwan

I spent the last week in Taiwan, and in between the work meetings I’ve gotten a chance to see a lot of Taipei, and some of Tainan in the south. It has been cold here by Taiwanese standards, but 10 C is still 25 C warmer than when I left Norway. In fact, the day we were in Tainan it was 20 C. By Norwegian standards, this is summer. So naturally I was wandering around in a t-shirt. This caused the locals some distress. Didn’t this girl own any clothes? Didn’t she feel the cold? And when I got ice cream at the train station the other day, there was lots of whispering behind my back.

When you are a Westerner in Taiwan, it’s excruciatingly obvious that you aren’t Taiwanese, and people will stare and comment on your behavior.

My philosophy when it comes to exotic foods is generally Try everything, once. I regret to say I failed myself and did not try ‘stinky tofu’; the smell alone was scary enough. I did, however, try ‘meat floss’, as well as ‘soft fried crabs’, which doesn’t sound so ominous, but looks pretty ominous when you consider that the crabs have been fried and are consumed whole.

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Soft fried crabs. I would compare them favorably to potato chips. With legs.

A couple of days ago, we went to Shilin night market, which is the epitome of Taiwanese food culture. It is noisy and crowded, not a place to go for a tranquil meal. You buy lots of cheap, street food dishes to share. All around the night market are shop peddling clothes and accessories, and all manner of cutesy cartoon knick-knacks, from Minnie Mouse charger covers to umbrellas. I may have bought a bow for my hair. Or three.

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The crowds at Shilin Night Market

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In the foreground of the picture I am holding a sausage in a roll made entirely out of rice. The vendor is in the background.

We tried lots of good food, but I was surprised at how bland it was. I kind of expected Taiwanese cuisine to be spicy, but actually many of the sauces used are slightly sweet and subtilely spiced. I actually found some of the dishes not salty enough, which I guess says something about how much salt I usually eat!

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Ready for some beef noodle soup!

Although I mostly think of Taiwan as an urban nation, it turns out there are a fair amount of mountains here. So when I had the afternoon off I naturally found a way to sneak off to the mountains with my PhD supervisor Helge. We managed to get a nearly useless map and promptly got lost, but eventually found the top of the mountain we were looking for. The hiking trail took us past sulfurous vents, on a trail cut through densely packs stands of bamboo. The weather wasn’t great (it hasn’t been for the whole trip!), so there was no view from the mountain top, but it felt great to get there anyway.

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‘View’ from the top of Mt Qixing in Yangmingshan National Park.

On the way down there was a warning sign for poisonous snakes, eek!

After finding a bus back down to the city (not easy when all of the bus stops are announced in Chinese!), we went up Taipei 101, the 5th tallest building in the world. It was shrouded in clouds that day, and looking up, the brightly lit layers of the pagoda-inspired structure seemed to extend into the infinite. I was most impressed by the enormous steel ball in the 89th floor that is used to balance the swaying of the tower. The engineering required to build a structure of that magnitude is really interesting.

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Me and the giant balancing ball.

The people working at Taipei 101 spoke some of the best English on the whole trip. And that’s how it was - the further you got away from the big tourist attractions, the less English information.  I downloaded an app and bought a set of flashcards to learn Chinese characters. I recognise maybe 10 or so of the most common now, and by the end of the trip every metro ride was a big puzzle, scanning the signs for characters and fragments of characters that I knew.

If you look confuse though, people generally approach you and try to help. Taiwan is a really friendly country, if foreign, and I was glad of that when I went running in the mornings. Some people would stare and comment on my clothing (they always thought I must be freezing!), but it was always good-natured. 

Taiwan is also filled with gaudy temples, which seem to pop up from out of no where from behind otherwise drab street corners. They take their temples seriously despite the gay colors, and there are many different gods for everything from good grades to healthy childbirth to martial arts.

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A temple in the Anping district of Tainan.

Although the dominating religious views aren’t Christian, the Taiwanese still celebrate Christmas. Or they put up Christmas decorations at least - and leave them up until the end of January (at least)!

Here’s what I did, training-wise, last week:

Monday: First exploratory run in Taipei. I had studied the Strava Heatmap and decided to run to Daan Park. The park was nice, but there was a lot of stop and go waiting for crosswalks on the way there. I saw lots of older Taiwanese doing Tai-chi in the park; it was very peaceful to run past them. Total: 8.5K, 43 vertical meters, 59min.

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Happy to have found trails even in the big city!

Tuesday: For my second run in Taipei, I decided to head in the opposite direction from the day before. This turned out to be a good idea as I got to park areas more quickly. I ran through Xinsheng park and the Fine arts expo park; the paths through these were all paved. It was rainy (gack); it rained almost every day we were in Taiwan. Total: 6.3K, 13 vertical meters, 40min.

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Jogging track rules at Xinsheng park. I’m glad they made some rules so that I didn’t run in high-heeled shoes by accident.

Wednesday: I headed back to Xinsheng park and found the connector to Dajia park past the ghostly Lin An Tai historical sight. That park was all paved as well, and bookcased by the river on one side and a noisy freeway on the other. Not incredibly beautiful, but at least easy running terrain. Total: 10.5K, 18 vertical meters, 1h4min.

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Dragon head along the river in Dajia park. The big temple-like structure in the background is the Grand Hotel, the first five-star hotel in Taiwan. I refrained to take a picture of the noisy freeway on the other side!

In the afternoon I hiked up Mt Qixing in Yangmingshan National Park with Helge. I’m adding this to my total this week because we hiked fairly hard, and it was quality time on my feet, an important aspect to endurance training. Total: 10.2K, 746 vertical meters, 3h15min.

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Steep stairs through the forest on our circumvent way up to Mt Qixing.

Thursday: Rest day. This felt necessary; I woke up in the morning and really did not feel like running.

Friday: We spent Thursday night in Tainan, and I had planned out a running route and everything when I realized I forgot some of my running clothes in Taipei. Bummer! I did 45 minutes of fairly intense yoga to loosen up and shake off the restlessness.

Saturday: I had time for a slightly longer run, and decided to go back to Daan park and run the loop around the park, hard, to see what kind of Strava placement I could take. I ran via Chang Kai-shek Memorial park which is nearby. The Memorial is really grandiose; two enormous, temple-like structures and a big stone memorial in the middle. The park around the memorial is nice though, with lots of cool statues and little bridges and winding paths. 

I ran the two kilometers around Daan Park at around 10K effort and thought it would be good enough to take the Queen of the Mountain. Unfortunately, I started walking while still in the Strava segment and didn’t get it after all. Too bad, now I have a goal for my next trip to Taiwan ;)

Total: 11.5K, 76 vertical meters, 1h9min

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Sunday: Short run before we headed to airport - to fly to Osaka, Japan for more work! I went back to Xinsheng and Dajia, and accidently found myself on the final kilometer of the Taipei Standard Chartered Marathon race course! I ran along with some tired-looking 10K runners before ducking off the course just before the finish line. How funny would it have been to sprint across the finish line though!

Total: 6.9K, 15 vertical meters, 42min + 20 min AM yoga

Weekly total:

Running/hiking: 54.3K, 908 vertical meters (almost all on Mt Qixing!), 7h51min

Yoga: 1h5min

Total: 8h56min

Not bad for such a busy week! I’m in Japan for most of this week, more exciting meetings and maybe some exploratory runs are in store.

- The Wild Bazilchuk

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Blue extra

This is my weekly adventure/training log for week 3 of 2016. You can find all of my logs here.

This week has been crazy in more ways than one, and I have two pieces of news. First off, the draw for the OCC was on Wednesday and I’M IN! That means I get to spend the summer training for a 55K race with 3300 meters of vertical. In Chamonix! I could not be more excited.

Second of all, I’m currently writing this post from Taipei, Taiwan, where I’ll be spending the next week on a business trip. Hopefully I’ll get in some fun runs as well :) One those notes, let’s move on to this week’s adventures!

I often call myself a ‘blue extra’ cross-country skier, meaning I like to cross-country ski mostly when the conditions are just right. In cross-country skiing different waxes are used in different snow conditions, and blue extra wax is what you use in the best of conditions. This week I have exclusively waxed with blue extra, and I haven’t done much else than ski.

Monday: Evening ski from Sognsvann to Ullevålseter and back, which are some of the busiest ski trails in Oslo. I was feeling sluggish, but perked up once we got going. Then there was this guy who was skiing right on my heels, and I kept thinking he would pass me, so I would ski faster to try and keep him from passing me. Probably went too hard considering the weekend we had!

Total: 10.9K,  256 vertical meters, 1h2min + 20min AM strength training 

Tuesday: Ran to work. I left the house in my studded winter running shoes, but quickly realized that the bike path was cleared and salted. Not wanting to wear out my studs, I went home and changed shoes. There was some snow on the bike path though, and it packed in the tread of my shoes and made them really slippery. Then the dirt road over Gjelleråsen was shin deep powder. All and all, not a fast effort, but I got to see the sun rise over Gjelleråsen and that made it worth it.

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Dawn at Gjelleråsen

Total: 13.7K, 236 vertical meters, 1h40min + 1h30min PM dance class.

Wednesday: Last week my friend Vibeke convinced me to sign up for one of the races in a weekly ski series, the OBIK Skikarusell. The races are short, usually around 10K, and everyone from amateurs to near pros participate. The race takes place at Holmenkollen, the stadium with the famous ski jump. On a good day, it looks like this:

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The top female skiers in Norway duke it out at Holmenkollen. This is exactly what I look like when I ski.

We were racing in the evening, so it looked more like this:

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Random guy racing the OBIK Skikarusell.

I was super nervous before start, and didn’t really think through the process of getting ready very well. I regret not warming up more for example, because the first lap felt like warm-up. The start was in waves of 4, and I started with two guys who took off immediately and one girl who set a good pace. The course was 3 loops totaling 8.6K, a little shorter than advertised. Each loop consisted of numerous short, steep climbs and equally fast descents.

The awful thing about a looped course is that you can tell how much worse you feel every time you start a new loop. I passed the girl I started with after 1.5 loops, but by the time I came into the final loop I was feeling destroyed and looking over my shoulder for pursuers. Not that no one was passing me. Many very fit men in lyrca who started after me had already whizzed by me at impossible speeds. But I wasn’t really competing them.

Somehow I made it to the finish line, the cold and my heart rate making my breathing painful. Cross-country skiing is not for the faint of heart. Just to prove that I was in true pain, here’s my heart rate graph. Ouch:

 

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Pain from start to finish

I end up 40th out 59 woman, which isn’t too bad all things considered.

Total: 8.6K, 210 vertical meters, 38min16s + 30 min AM yoga

Thursday: Rest day, 30 minute easy AM yoga

Friday: I finally decided to do something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and ski to work! I took the bus up into the forest, and had 13 kilometers of divine skiing in the wee hours of the morning. Suprisingly, all of the floodlights on the ski trails were on (in Trondheim they are only on in the evenings), even though I was the only skier out. It was really cold, a colleague of mine claimed -20 C on her thermometer, but I was dressed well and constant forward motion kept me warm.

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Thrill to hit the ski trails at 7am.

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Some sunrise action towards the end of the ski.

The last 2K of the commute were less smooth. First I had to walk one kilometer up a steep, icy road, which I had anticipated. Then I planned to ski down the dirt road that was shin deep powder on Tuesday - but they had scrapped it! There was barely enough snow to ski down, and I spent the whole time dodging rocks. This was disappointing given I had expected shin deep powder.

Total: 15.5K, 332 vertical meters, 1h34min

Saturday: My flight to Taiwan was on Saturday afternoon. Despite being slightly hungover after the New Year’s Party with Audun’s work, we got up early to get in a good ski. The conditions and weather were absolutely phenomenal.

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Audun near Skytta

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Disgustingly beautiful light around Kjusltjernet

Totals: 15.7K, 334 vertical meters, 1h 35min

Sunday: This was the day that disappeared in transit. Taiwan is 7 hours ahead of Norway, so I lost 7 hours of Sunday in addition to spend 15-odd hours travelling. We got here in time to check into our hotel, eat dinner, and poke around the block. Here’s an ornate temple we stopped by on our walk:

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Also, there’s technotoilet in my hotel room.

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What to choose?!

Now I’m going to do some relaxing yoga before I call it a day!

Totals this week:

Running: 10.9K, 256 vertical meters, 1h2min

Cross-country skiing: 50.7K, 1132 vertical meters, 6h25min

Strength training/yoga/dance: 3h35min

Total: 11h2min

- The Wild Bazilchuk

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Buff Bandit

This is my weekly adventure/training log for week 2 of 2016. You can find all of my logs here.

It’s been a cold week in Oslo, and this weekend we finally got the snow to match the cold. It’s winter, for realz! Although the snow wreaked havoc with my planned running mileage, I made up for it with skiing. Here’s a recap of my training this week.

Monday: I work about 15 kilometers outside of Oslo, and given my environmental consciousness and love of being outside, I try to commute under my own power as much as possible. During the summer I can ride my road bike and get the commute done in 40-45 minutes each way. During the winter, riding on snow bike paths on my (relatively) heavy hybrid bike with studded tires, it takes much longer. On Monday it was -12 C, and my toes gradually got colder and colder the longer I was out, despite my fleece-lined shoe covers. But I saw a man riding his unicyle on the bike path, and that made my day. After I got home I lay on the couch like a slug instead of doing strength training like I planned. No longer being on vacation is rough!

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The Buff Bandit emerges with the cold weather.

Stats: 32.2km, 398 vertical meters, 1h55min.

Tuesday:  Run too/from my weekly dance class in central Oslo. I was feeling antsy and ran pretty hard, although I wasn’t wearing my heart rate monitor. My playlist was egging me on! I ran past a whole block of buildings surrounded by police cars, which I later learned was due to a fire, not the TV-show-like crime scene I imagined.

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The Buff Bandit prowls the streets of Oslo in the dark.

Stats: 9.3km, 105 vertical meters, 56min + 90min dance class sandwiched in there.

Wednesday: I took the bus to work (which involves more time walking to and from bus stops than it does actual walking). Then I left most of my stuff at work so I could run home. The best part of the run home is the first 2 kilometers, which go through the forest. I jogged up the steep inclined to the top of Gjelleråsen while listen to Tour de Ski coverage on the radio and watching the beautiful colors of the sunset. 

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If the Buff Bandit goes out in the daylight, she stays in the forest to avoid blowing her cover!

Stats: 12.9km, 133 vertical meters, 1h22min

Thursday: On Thursday Audun and I met our friends Vibeke and David on the west side of Oslo for some cross-country skiing. There was just barely enough of a base for skiing, and there were both icy patches and twigs and brush sticking out of the snow in some places. It was snowing the whole time we were out though, so there’s hope for more robust conditions!

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The Buff Bandit has a Buffed companion.

The first 4 kilometers of the ski was all up hill, and I was feeling good, so I went hard. Then somehow Vibeke had convinced me to do a 10K ski race with her next week. Since I’ve resolved to work on my racing nerves, I decided to go for it. I’m already nervous!

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Stopping by woods on a snowy evening.

Stats: 15.5km, 347 vertical meters, 1h29min + 30 min yoga in the AM.

Friday: I biked to and from work in pretty snowy conditions. It was really slow going, and I felt totally drained afterwards.

Stats: 32.4km, 370 vertical meters, 2h2min.

Saturday: I finally convinced Audun to buy himself backcountry skis this week, so naturally we went out for a backcountry adventure this weekend. We went to Norefjell, and skinned up next to the ski lift at the resort before heading into the mountains. The conditions were pretty heinous - it was -15 C and very low visibility. Luckily the route to Høgevarde cabin is marked with big wooden stakes placed within 10 meters of eachother, so you can find your way even if you can’t see anything else. The stakes had been coated with frost and snow, and provided the only relief in the landscape. 

Initially we had planned to ski into a cabin further out, Toveseter. But the going was slow, and the route markings ended at the Høgevarde cabin, so we did the wise thing and stopped there.

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This is what Høgevarde cabin looked like we when arrived. Brrr.

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Self portrait: Buff Bandit trying out the icy monobrow look.

To our surprise, on this cold weekend in early January, seven other people showed up at the cabin. All of them were decidedly more hardcore winter travellers than us; some of them tented out that night and most of them sat around swapping notes from last year’s Amundsen Expedition. But, as one of them kindly pointed out, we had made it too the cabin as well. That counts for something, right?

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Audun digging out the area around the front door at Høgevarde.

Stats: 11.9km, 788 vertical meters, 3h14min

Sunday: The wind had picked up by Sunday morning and it was snowing even harder than the day before. We decided to take the easiest way possible back to Norefjell Resort, by following a marked route down from the cabin to Tempelseter and then picking up some cross-country ski trails That way we wouldn’t have to break as much trail as the day before.

The downhill from Tempelseter was some of the most horrendously difficult descending I have done on backcountry skis. It wasn’t steep, but the light was flat so you couldn’t gauge the steepness either. The snow was highly variable, from icy nubs to loose powder to wind compacted snow. More often than not, a nice patch of soft snow would suddenly turn into rigid wind pack, stopping your skis and throwing you on your face.

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Audun telemarking on his new backcountry skis. I kindly didn’t photographer the faceplant that inevitably happened.

After the frustrating decent, it was a relief to finally find the ski trails. There was less wind now that we were low down in the forest, but it was still snowing hard and there were gusts of wind whenever we crossed through open areas. I was glad we weren’t high up on the mountain, and even glader to get back to the car just in time to listen to the last stage of Tour de Ski on the radio.

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In the forest on the groomed ski trails.

Stats: 19.2km, 371 vertical meters, 2h56min.

Totals:

Running: 22.3km, 238 vertical meters, 2h18min

Biking: 64.6km, 759 vertical meters, 3h57min

Skiing: 46.6km, 1506 vertical meters, 7h39min

Yoga/dance: 2h

Total training time: 15h49min

This week my goal is to enjoy the beautiful snow, and start strength training again!

- The Wild Bazilchuk

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

What I learned about running in 2015

In 2015, I ran more than ever, totally 1953 kilometers and 46 007 vertical meters. It was the second year I decided to train ’seriously’  for running races, the first year being 2014 for Ultrabirken. I have had several successful races, but one less successful (Nordmarka Skogsmaraton, more of which in a moment), and one DNS (Ultravasan) due to injury/undertraining. A new year will bring new chances, and I hope to become even stronger in 2016. Here’s some lessons I learned in the last year that I will take with me into the 2016 season.

Racing really gets to me. I only raced 5 times this year (well, 6 if you include the spontaneous Scottish hill race), and looking back, the clear trend I see is that I let racing wrack my nerves too much, especially if I have high expectations of myself. Before Fjellseterløpet I was so nervous that I couldn’t eat after lunch, even though the race was at 6 pm. Fjellseterløpet was short though, and that mistake didn’t matter so much. Where they did matter was in the longest race, Nordmarka Skogsmaraton, I ran this year. I plan to race more often in 2016 and try to lower my expectations for every race. After all, you can’t PR every time!

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Running a PR on an empty stomach in the rain at Fjellseterløpet. 

I need to up my mental game. In some ways, it’s strange that I consider Nordmarka Skogsmaraton such a failure. I did, after all, PR by nearly 20 minutes. There are two reasons I’m not satisfied with how that race went. First of all, I am sure I was fit enough to run at least 10 minutes faster than I did, and secondly, I didn’t enjoy myself, not one bit. And although some people might scoff at my suggestion that marathons should be fun, I am definitely in the ‘if it’s not fun, why do it?’ camp. So where did I go wrong? I let my race nerves get to me. At the start of the race, when I didn’t immediately feel great, I let my internal monologue tell me I was having a terrible day and couldn’t possibly reach my goals instead of cheering myself on. I need to find a way to turn a bad day into a good day, to sell myself a tale of success even if I’m feeling crappy, because once you’re fit, racing is a mental game. 

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See how the two women behind me are having way more fun than me? At Nordmarka Skogsmaraton.

Consistency is king. The real way to get fit is not to eat some magic food or run some special type of interval, it’s to keep training. All. The. Time. Part of the game of becoming a better runner is becoming someone who is out running, despite dark or cold, despite time constraints. I feel I succeeded pretty well at consistency in running in 2015, but consistency also includes the stuff outside of running, especially strength training. This year I will strive to find time to do injury-preventing strength training, because being fit and injured is a horrible feeling. Which brings me to…

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Consistency is -10 C at 6 am on a weekday.

Respect the 10% rule. For you non-runners, the 10% rule is a rule of thumb that says you shouldn’t increase the distance you run by more than 10% per week in order to avoid injury. This is one of those stupid things that you read everywhere but you don’t actually believe until you’ve broken it and seen the consequences. Without fail, every serious twinge I had last year was related to a spike in mileage. The most serious injury I had in 2015, the nagging foot pain that lead to me DNSing Ultravasan, was due to a training block that looked like this:

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I’ll just spontaneously run a 100 km week. FOOL!

And to end on a positive note… I’m not a slow as I think I am. I typically characterize myself as a slow twitch, endurance type of person that could only ever be good at marathons or ultras. But I definitely feel like the 10K races I’ve done (Sentrumsløpet and Hytteplanmila) have come relatively easy to me. Although 10Ks aren’t exactly sprints, I have started to get excited about becoming a little faster. 

So with this wealth of knowledge and optimism, what's in store for 2016? I’m glad you asked, dear reader. First off, I have signed up for Oslo Ecotrail 45K in late May, and I plan to run Sentrumsløpet 10K again in April, with a goal of seeing sub-43 minutes. The more exciting part is that I have my name in the hat for Orsières-Champex-Chamonix (OCC), which one of the little sister races of the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blance (UTMB). By ‘little’ sister, I mean that the OCC is only 55 kilometers with 3300 meters of elevation gain. The UTMB (and OCC by association) are the biggest ultra-trail running event of the season in Europe, and really want to be there. The lottery for the 1200 places at the OCC will be drawn on January 13, and I’m totally counting down the days. If I don’t get selected (and there is a very real chance that I will not), I will try to sign up for Tromsø Skyrace, which is also in August. Additionally, if I don’t get drawn, I plan to run Ultrabirken again in June to get qualifying points for next year’s OCC. The bottom line: I’m going to Chamonix, either this year or next.

Are you psyched? Cause I am!

- The Wild Bazilchuk

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Winter wonderland

It has been commented to me that “it seems like you’re always on vacation!” Reality is a different story, and in reality I’m a PhD student with constraints on my time. The monotony of everyday life has left this blog pretty quiet the last couple months. For that reason, I’ve decided to start writing a weekly training report, to share the little everyday adventures I have.

So here it is, the weekly training report for December 28 - January 3.

Monday

Still in Tingvoll for Christmas vacation, Audun and I opted to run up the mountain that towers over the village, Kirkeberget (which means ‘church mountain’). By running, I mean that we jogged the 2 kilometers to the base, hiked the 600 vertical meters to the top and then jogged down. This coastal region of Norway is very boggy, and we were happy to find that the bogs covering the upper slopes of Kirkeberget had frozen. An ankle deep windblown crust of snow made for rather slow going. There was barely any wind on top, and the mountains in the distance were lit up dramatically by the late December sun.

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Audun on the upper slopes of Kirkeberget

11.4 km, 680 vertical meters, moving time 2:01

Tuesday

Audun wanted a rest day, but I was raring to go. When I’m on vacation I have much more time to relax, and thus recover and I seemed to feel endlessly fresh compared to everyday life where I’m squeezing in workouts around work. I mapped out a route on dirt roads around Honnhammeren outside of Tingvoll, which I thought would be 15-16 kilometers. It turned out to be just over 20, which was fine for my physically, but I regretted not bringing anything to eat or drink.

There were high winds in some stretches as I ran along the coast, but I was mostly sheltered by the trees.

 

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The worst stretched was a muddy tractor road deeply pitted by cow hooves, where the pits had subsequently been filled with ice. It was above freezing that day, and some of the ice and mud had started to melt, making for treacherous going. I met the perpetrators of the cow hoove pits, and one of them stared at me in a rather aggressive manner as I snuck by them. 

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The sun was setting as I jogged back into Tingvoll and home to Audun’s mother’s yummy cooking. 

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20.3 km, 684 vertical meters, moving time 2:16 + 45 minutes of yoga.

Wednesday

Audun and I had a short run up to Tingvoll museum and down to the sea at Øygardsneset before a family dinner party in the evening (his family, not mine). 7.6 km, 311 vertical meters, moving time 0:57

Thursday

On New Year’s Eve we left Tingvoll to go to our friend Andreas’ cabin for celebrations. We were slow leaving Tingvoll and didn’t get to the cabin until an hour before sunset. It was extremely windy; a bus had literally been blown over crossing Doverfjell mountain pass nearby earlier that day. There were cross-country ski tracks though, so we put on our hooded jackets and headed out into the wind for a short ski.

5.8 kilometers, 81 vertical meters, 0:40 

Friday

After a late night of New Year’s Eve festivities - 20 people came to the cabin this year! - we started the day with the traditional swim. Sixteen of us went in for the plunge through the hole in the ice, and it was quit a scene, everyone stripping and endeavouring to get in and out of the water and into warm clothes as quickly as possibly. Here are some pictures from the event:

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Sigurd prepares himself for the plunge. Note the chaos of people changing in the background.

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Ingrid on her way in.

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Audun on his way up

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And here I am, psyched to have taken the plunge. The dark area behind me that looks like open water is actually frozen but glassy clear, just for the record.

Riding on the stoke of the icy swim, we got in another short ski before packing up the car and heading south towards Oslo. We spent the night in our tent under the trees at Høvringen, where I got to mess around with night shots on my camera. Too bad there were no stars to make this more interesting.

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7.3 kilometers, 93 vertical meters, moving time 0:37 (with waaay less wind than the day before!)

Saturday

On the drive back to Oslo, we stopped at Skeikampen to get in some cross-country skiing. It was -7 C in whiteout conditions with a fair bit of wind, but we managed to get in 25 kilometers of skiing despite the adverse conditions. I started to get some weird tightness in the arch of my right foot towards the end, so it’s probably good we decided to go home instead of staying another day.

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The best ‘view’ of the day was when we were below treeline.

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Does this frost in my hair make me look old?

25.4 kilometers, 691 vertical meters, 2:37 moving time (Recorded as two seperate Strava activities, here and here).

Sunday

I felt sluggish this morning and was sure my run was going to suck. But low and behold, once I got out the door, I felt great. It was snowing the whole time, but the snow was so light and fluffy it didn’t feel like much of an obstacle. I’m glad the winter has finally come for real; if we get a little more snow there will be cross-country skiing here in Oslo.

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Views of Maridalsvannet, the large lake that supplies Oslo’s drinking water, on today’s run

17.3 kilometers, 237 vertical meters, 1:50 moving time + 45 minutes of yoga.

Weekly totals:

Running: 56.6 kilometers, 1909 vertical meters, 7h 5m

Cross-country skiing: 38.5 kilometers, 865 vertical meters, 3h 53m

Yoga: 2 x 45 minutes

Total training time: 12h28m

- The Wild Bazilchuk