Monday, October 6, 2014

Scandinavia roadtrip, part 3: back in Oslo

We drove from Copenhagen to Oslo in one day; it's only 6 hours. While we were still in Denmark we found a grocery store to stock up on cheaper beer and some road snacks. But then the GPS took us the wrong way, and we found ourselves in line for the ferry from a city just north of Copenhagen to Helsingborg, Sweden. Instead of backtracking to the bridge, we decided to take the 20 minute ferry ride across.
We obviously went way north!

Six hours later we were back in Oslo. We took it easy the next day and walked around our neighborhood and up the river. It was good weather for a long walk. Rigmor had us over for dinner and served moose "gryte" (a stew) and "Troll krem" (troll cream = lingonberry, egg whites and sugar) for dessert.

We still had some must-sees to cover in Oslo. Mainly the royal palace and ski jump/ski museum.

We made it in time for the changing of the guard.

Skis varied by region and were over 15 feet long back in the day!
Dad became a polar explorer with a big head
We went to the top of the ski jump for a view over the fjord. No crowd since we got there just before it closed.
A little pit stop next to the ski jump and museum is an old "seter" called Frognerseteren. Seters are used as ski lodges in the middle of nowhere for skiers to warm up, eat some waffles, and drink coffee. Frognerseteren is huge and has great views. I'll have to stop by with Marius for a $7 coffee after skiing this winter.

Mom and Dad left us on the 11th just before my interview with Greenpeace to go around door-to-door and sign up monthly donors. So in the past month I have been working 3 nights per week. And since September 25th, I was dog sitting. His name is Bobo and he has been enjoying hikes everyday. He feels like our dog now, so I'm going to miss the little guy when his owner picks him up tomorrow.

He is not a fan of going in the water

But he does enjoy running with me, as long as it's not too fast
Great weather and fall colors yesterday when Rigmor joined us for a walk in the woods.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Scandinavia roadtrip: part 2, Copenhagen

First Carlsberg of the trip
As we crossed the bridge from Malmö, Sweden, into Denmark, we saw blue sky, blue water and white sail boats. The bridge was long, but before we knew it we were in Denmark...yet again, no indication that we actually entered another country, and it felt more like we were crossing the bridge up to the U.P.

Following our GPS passed lots of houses that Marius described as "typical Danish", but to me they just looked like "typical northern Europe": brick homes with steep roofs. There were tons of cyclists! A lot of people bike in Norway, but Copenhagen sets the bar really high. We came to the street with our hotel and parked in the street. As well as there being two other hotels, there were also two "gentlemen's clubs", and the street smelled like pee. At least the room was alright!

We went to the tourist information center around the corner and got a map for a walking tour of Copenhagen that "should only take like three hours". We hit all the highlights and I really enjoyed the walk! We did the first half because we meandered and maybe it takes "only like 3 hours" if you don't want to stop and look at other things along the walk. The first stop was the town hall and then lunch on a cozy corner bistro.

Our tables were in the road. A few cars made 3-point turns to get around us.
The next stop on our walking tour was the Old Stock Exchange

And then the famous Nyhavn, where it is customary to have a beer. You can buy one "to go" or sit at the restaurant. Dad tried a plate of pickled herring to go with his beer...I had the Carlsberg Nordic (aka non-alcoholic) since my training didn't recommend alcohol.

Time for a group picture
Our walking tour had us weave up along the water, past the palace where the Danish royalty reside and the Marble Church. And we ended at the citadel, home to the Little Mermaid statue. Dad's first reaction: "That's it?! What a rip off!"....
Yup, that's her.

 After a long day of walking around Copenhagen, we rested up for day two at the Carlsberg Brewery. We walked there from the was probably about 1.5 miles, and we booked the guided tour. There was surprisingly a lot to see at the brewery about the history of the Carlsberg family and how much power they had over the city of Copenhagen. In a couple of years they will tear a lot of it down and turn it into a new neighborhood, so I was very glad we got to see it.

The Elephant Gate

The old copper pots.
Of course we couldn't forget about the second half of our walking tour! Poor Mom and Dad were taken along for my brutal, only-by-foot way of seeing Europe. So we went to the Round Tower to see the skyline of Copenhagen before enjoying dinner at the oldest restaurant in the city. The morning before we drove back to Oslo, we stopped by the small, but impressive, Rosenborg Castle.

Inside the Round Tower. Along the way there were little historical pit-stops, including the old privy.

Atop the Round Tower

Rosenborg Castle

The first (more impressive) crown. There was another for the next king, but this one
was waaayyyy fancier.

I think this will have to be a three part series. Our return to Oslo will be in the next post since this one was so long. Copenhagen was a great city. A good size for a long weekend, but we could have used another day to squeeze in a little more. But a weekend was just the right amount of time for the main highlights.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Scandinavia roadtrip: part 1, Oslo and Gothenburg

I realized I never wrote about Mom and Dad's visit back in the beginning of September. They were here from September 2-11. We started in Oslo and then drove down to Copenhagen, via Gothenburg, for a long weekend before coming back up to Oslo. It was a lot of fun! I wish I could remember the "Dad-isms". I should have written them down! I will try to think of them for the next post.

We had them in our little 44 m/sq apartment, so it was definitely pretty tight with the four of us, but we all share hotel rooms when we were on our little roadtrip anyways, so it we got used to it fast. When they left, though, it seemed so quiet.

When they arrived we quickly got them into the Oslo experience with a visit to the famous sculpture park, Vigelandsparken.

A walk is the best cure after travelling.
The next day Marius went to the office and we went to the Viking Ship museum. But Marius caught up with us in time for the Kon Tiki museum. I highly recommend both of those!
Next to the biggest of the 3 ships in the museum.
The Kon Tiki
We made sure to hit all the highlights of Oslo! And we had perfect weather for a walking tour, which included: the opera house, fortress and downtown Oslo
In front of the Oslo Opera House
Tron and Rigmor had all of us over for a great halibut dinner, and the next day we were ready to drive south. Crossing boarders isn't as exciting as you'd expect considering we are crossing international boarders. There isn't even a "Welcome to Sweden" sign. Our first stop was Gothenburg, the second largest city in Sweden. I set much higher expectations for this city, and I was disappointed there wasn't much to do there besides walk around (unless you were there for the amusement park).
Smiling faces all around
The "Fish Church" (fish market) on the canal

The next morning we got up and continued our drive through Sweden. Three hours of Swedish farms later, we approached the bridge into Denmark!
Øresund Bridge
...nope, no exciting "Welcome to Denmark" signs here either. But, YAY! Copenhagen!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Oslo Marathon Race Report

I'm officially a marathoner!!

16 weeks of dedicated training came to an end...and I am not going to say that the marathon was my "victory lap" for all that training, because it sure did not feel like that. But I'll start from the beginning.

I was so excited to go to the running expo and get my number. Adidas was the first half, and the other half had some 2XU, Garmin, Maxim sport fuel and other random stalls for compression wear and Runner's World Norway. Jack Waitz (husband of Grete Waitz) was also there signing a copy of his book. I've become such a Norwegian that I didn't get a picture with him, but I probably should have. I say that I'm a Norwegian because if they see someone famous they observe from afar and do not want to disturb them.

Got home with my goodie bag, which was mainly tons of brochures for things. I got one little sample bottle of soap (less than 1 oz) and a pink sweat band. At least I got a free copy of Runner's World Norway. But DOH! I realized I was missing my bracelet that would get me gels along the run. I paid an extra 150 kroners to get Maxim energy gels 4 times along the course (a worthwhile investment!).

Woke up a little before 6:30 the next morning, turned on "Desert Runners", and made some pancakes and coffee. To my surprise, Marius woke up with me. We caught the bus downtown with some other runners to get there 30 minutes before the start. I sported my new American flag shorts and a black tshirt. I should have had a flashy shirt to make it easier for Marius and Rigmor to find me in more crowded areas, but the shorts were a good start!

Ready to go!

After a little delay we were finally on our way! Nearly 3000 runners took off down the streets of Oslo. My Garmin was having trouble getting signal for the first 4 kms, I'm guessing because it was overcast? So I had to pace the old fashioned way and try to find the 400 or 415 balloons. The balloons are marked with a time goal and tied to pacers for those who don't have a fancy GPS watch to guide them. I didn't realize how slow I actually started out of the gate! Finally after about 10 kms I caught up with the 400 balloon. I was feeling fantastic for a while...then the magic number 12...

In the beginning of my training, the 12th km brought on left knee ITBS-like symptoms. I did not experience them as I added more mileage, but race day did not give me a break. Despite that I was able to maintain a nice pace for the whole first half of the marathon and I was so happy to see Rigmor cheering me on at a couple different corners between km 19 and 20. I was even cheered on by a couple of other women in the crowd I did not know from before, but they saw me (and I presume, my shorts), and each time they saw me they would really shout and cheer me on. I loved that! It was the best motivation!

Ahead of the 400 balloon and feelin' good!

Thanks to my Garmin's brain fart, I don't know how long it took me to run the first half, but I crossed half way in front of the 400 balloon, so that was good. But of course my left knee got progressively worse, and then my right quad began cramping. The whole second half of the race was a struggle. Every few minutes I stopped to try to stretch out my cramping right quad, but it was like a vicious circle! Run a little bit, but then my quad would cramp harder...Stop running and then it felt even more difficult to begin running again! The second portion of the race was definitely a shuffle. Every fuel station I would take an energy gel, pour a water over my head and then take a cup of sports drink.

Finally at km 40 I could see the light. Rigmor recruited some random other people in the crowd to cheer me on, and my one fan from the Opera house stretch had even moved to km 40 and hollered for me, and I yelled back "There you are! I missed you!".

A couple of girls came sprinting up behind me, but I just didn't have the fuel in my legs to get them to move faster. When I ran my half marathons I had enough fuel in the tank to sprint the last couple hundred meters, but not today. I definitely gave it all I had. I crossed the finish line in 4:09:13.

Look at that determination! You can barely tell that I'm in pain! 

Born in the USA finally came on my playlist ;)
Very pleased with that result for my first marathon! When I found Marius, he asked me how I was doing. I started to cry a little and said "I'm never doing that again! I was in so much pain the last 20 kms."...Let's just say that 1 hour later that went 180 degrees, and now I'm thinking about when I can try to finish my second marathon in less than 4 hours!

Summary: 247 of 465 women running the marathon
86 of 177 in my class (K24-34)

I wish they had done an overall place that includes the men's times, but they kept us separate. Here you can see how I went up in the ranks for the first half, and then a landslide back down haha

Split Gross result Net result Lap time min/km km/h Place
4 km 21:24 21:21 21:21 05.20 11.2         225
8 km 42:34 42:31 21:11 05.18 11.3         175
12 km 1:04:22 1:04:19 21:48 05.27 11.0         161
15,5 km 1:24:32 1:24:29        20:10 05.46 10.4         155
21,1 km 1:55:31 1:55:28 31:00 05.32 10.8         178
25,1 km 2:17:42 2:17:39 22:11 05.32 10.8         183
29,1 km 2:42:28 2:42:25 24:46 06.11 9.7         198
33,1 km 3:09:22 3:09:19 26:55 06.44 8.9         217
36,6 km 3:33:37 3:33:34 24:15 06.56 8.7         203
Mål         4:09:16 4:09:13 35:40 06.22 9.4         247

Obviously, the second half was a struggle.

Ran two laps of the half marathon course

Hardest thing I have ever done. And I am so proud of myself.

Friday, August 22, 2014

#Act for Arctic

I have been volunteering for Greenpeace Norway since March, and I haven't really gotten into any campaigns until this summer. The campaign is called Act for Arctic. It is the first campaign Greenpeace has handed over to the community, and I really enjoy it. A declaration was written asking Arctic region countries to take action to protect the Arctic, since currently there are no laws prohibiting destructive activities. We are getting influential people to sign the declaration, which will be taken to the embassies of Arctic nations at the end of September. Our goal is 1500 signatories, and so far we are just over 700.

I am proud to say that I have signed up eight relatively high-profile people.
  • Bart Yasso - Chief Running Officer at Runner's World Magazine
  • Eric Philips - Polar Adventurer
  • Aleksander Gamme - Polar Adventurer
  • Kikkan Randall - Olympic cross-country skier
  • Andy Newell - Olympic cross-country skier
  • Dean Karnazes - Ultra marathon runner
  • Steve O'Shea - Marine biologist (squid expert) and environmentalist
  • Save the Manatee Club - non-profit organization
  • Les Stroud - Canadian survivalist, environmentalist and TV personality aka Survivorman
  • Chris Medina - singer, former American Idol contestant
I was asked to write a blog post about my experience with the campaign and how I got sign ups. Check it out here: We can all be a part of it

Let me know if you know of any influential people. They can be scientists, academics, politicians, celebrities, athletes, or business owners. I would love to grow my list and be the top community campaigner in Scandinavia! I'm "competing" with my volunteer coordinator's mother in Sweden who has over 40 sign ups!

As of last night I was challenged by Katie (Grimes/Cooke) to take on the ice bucket. I proudly took on the challenge, in spite of temperatures in the 50s, and have asked people to nominate an influential person to sign the Arctic Declaration. I'm hoping that it can go viral, but we'll see what happens. I was limited on time to get more creative, but I am hoping that the Esperanza crew and actress Emma Thompson will do the challenge to raise awareness for both causes. I sounded like I didn't know where the Esperanza was, but I decided to say with Emma Thomspon instead because I had a brain fart thinking about the oncoming brain freeze!


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Nordland part 2

On to the second half of our time up at Gjelvågan/Vågaholmen! We pick up from Tuesday - sorry this is a big post

After a relaxing day of snorkeling, kayaking and running. We took the boat out to an island for camping. We didn't think of leaving til after dinner, so by the time we had gotten packed in the boat and out to the island it was already nearly midnight. There were many islands, but only a couple to choose from because the others were designated areas for bird nesting.

Marius made a fire while Rigmor, Tron and I set up camp. I ran around our island with a cup to pick cloud berries. The island was mostly a marsh, so we slept very comfortably on the moss. We cooked some hotdogs on the fire before we went to bed around 2:30am. By then, the sun was already on the way back up, so it was a little difficult to fall asleep. Nonetheless, we slept til 9 the next morning and had an easy breakfast before we took the boat back to Gjelvågan. I would have liked to camp out another couple of nights. 

[So quiet]
[Approx. 12:30am]

[Fresh cloud berries]
The next few days were also tame, spending tons of time outside til after midnight. There was some excitement on the deck of the house since we had arrived though. There was a pair of white wagtail birds that had made a nest and laid eggs under the stairs. Every ten minutes we would hear the dad chirp and then suddenly lots of chirps from the chicks in the nest. They grew up very fast! We set the GoPro under the stairs to get video of the action. 

[Both are cod - mine is just bigger ;)]
Thursday Marius and I took the boat out together to get some more fish so that Rigmor could make one of my favorite dinners - fiskegrateng. We used nearly two hours, but we got two more cod. Marius pulled up one first, about the same size as the one he had caught a few days before. Finally, I caught my fish. It was big! Not as big as the fish that I caught here two years ago, but still a very nice sized fish. Now Tron and Rigmor said that I should make sure to come up every summer since I have brought in big fish and the weather has been so nice. 

On Friday we prepared for the family party in a hall that Rigmor had rented. Every year they hold a family reunion up here, but this year was a little bit extra since it is Rigmor and Tron's 60th birthdays. Meanwhile, the little wagtail nestlings were preparing to leave the nest! We kept a close eye and made sure the hawks weren't lingering too close. Marius and Rigmor had gone outside a couple of times to scare a pair of hawks sitting near by to get a meal. It took the whole day but all of the chicks left the nest and now it's quiet, we miss hearing the chirps now.

[The two remaining nestlings plotting how they should fly away]

[The last baby leaving the nest - the world is so big!]

Saturday I took my long run. I managed just over 29 kms. My goal was 30 kms but I managed to fall in the last km because I was so tired and the sun was starting to really get to me. Marathon will be hard!! It was good to be done with it though. It made all the food at the party taste even better!

I met Marius' whole family. There were 55 in total: Rigmor has 6 brothers and one sister, Grandma Reidun, 20 cousins and a handful of great grand kids. I think I remember all the names, but let's see if I can remember that for the reunion next year.

[Hansen siblings and Mom (L-R): Ingvar, Kenneth, Tore, Sven Rune,
Beate, Reidun (mom), Torgeir, Rigmor and Kjetil]

Today we were supposed to head back to Oslo. We caught the ferry over, but our bus left before we could get off the ferry!! So after some stress we booked new flights for tomorrow. It isn't the worst. The weather is nice and we already planned to do one last kayak trip and a run.

Wildlife highlights seen on this trip: 7 moose, 3 dolphins, 2 fox, 1 eagle, 2 owls, 1 puffin, 1 otter

[One last picture from the cove]

Act for Arctic