Tuesday, January 10, 2017

What's up 2017?!

My crew of merry friends rang in the New Year with the traditional activity (swimming in an icy lake) once again.

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Sigmund exits the ice.

It was windy, and fresh snow had covered over the hole that had been dug in the ice the previous day. Luckily we mark the swimming hole with sticks, so it was a quick job to recover it!

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The worst part is after you get out of the water - walking on the snow to your towel is sooo cold!

The snow that covered the swimming hole also yielded the promise of skiing after a Christmas of rain and ice. We put in some laps behind the cabin where we were staying, and were rewarded for our hard work breaking trail with powder runs. New year, fresh snow!

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This is the definition of fun skiing. 

As it turns out I’ve got a lot already planned for 2017! Here’s what there is to look forward to, adventure-wise:

This weekend I’m headed for Hokkaido, Japan for two weeks to ski the famously abundant Japanese powder, woohoo! 

For the first half of 2017, I’m shifting my main training focus from running to biking. I, along with a group of friends, will be riding Jotunheimen Rundt in early July. This bike race, touted as ‘Norway’s hardest cycling sportive’, is a single-stage, 440km loop of the Jotunheimen mountain range with 4609 meters of climb. Ouch. Did I mention I’ve never done sportive before? It’s probably going to take at least 20 hours, making in my longest race yet. On the bright side, I will use the bike training as an excuse to find some interesting and mountainous long bike rides around Scandinavia.

Still, I’m not about to quite running! I’m planning to run in smaller amounts, just like I've typically biked a couple days a week even when I was running a lot. I will try to race a spring 10K, probably Fornebuløpet in Oslo, at the end of May, before I once again compete in the Birkebeinerløpet in early June. I’m not expecting to PR in any of these events, since I will mostly be riding my bike, but I’ll do my best to get close to my old times.

After (hopefully) finishing Jotunheimen Rundt, I hope bounce back fast enough to run Tromsø Skyrace - but the extreme, 55K version this time. Since there’s only a month between the two events, I’m counting on having generally good fitness from riding bikes and mental fortitude rather than specific training for this one.

Next, in mid-August, Audun and I are getting married! (Read about the proposal here.) We’re going to tie the knot surrounded by friends, family and beautiful mountains on the west coast of Norway, in Sunnmøre. Then Audun and I are planning a unique mountain biking honeymoon. We’re planning a bikepacking expedition on the Jotunheimen trail from Gjendsheim back home to Oslo. With all the international travel I’ve been doing in the last couple years, I’m looking forward to focusing on more local adventures. Norway really is an incredible playground to explore!

My final plan for the year is Ultra Tour Monte Rosa, a 3-day, 116 km stage race around Monte Rosa through Italy and Switzerland. I’ve only visited this region in the winter before, and I’m looking forward to seeing it in summer dress. Expect spectacular alpine vistas and a lot of pain as I tackle my longest race ever.

Here’s to an adventurous 2017! What do you have planned?

- The Wild Bazilchuk