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]

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Nordland part 1

Marius and I took a flight at 6:30 am from Oslo to visit the Hansen side of the family for the week. We flew to Bodø via Tromsø, and then took the ferry from Bodø to Vågaholmen. 12 hours of travel later, we arrived to the summer house, Gjelvågan. It was also Rigmor's birthday!

Of course the first three days were full of activity. I was so worn out, so, lucky for me, today is a "free day". Clear blue sky and temps in the upper 70s - low 80s (quite warm for here since the sun is very strong). Marius and Tron are working on a set of stairs to make it easier to get to and from the boat, Rigmor is preparing for Saturday's big party and I'm working on job applications and will snorkel.

Saturday went by very fast. I don't even really remember what we did. We bought some groceries, picked up the boat from the pier and visited some family on the way. I ran 27 kms (approx. 17 miles) - fantastic long run. And afterwards I took an ice bath in the sea. We rounded out the day with a game of cards in the gazebo (lysthus) and a beautiful sunset just before midnight.

Sunday morning Marius and I put on wet suits and went snorkeling. It was FREEZING! We took the GoPro and have some nice video that I'll try to edit later. We also went to the conclusion of Tjongsfjord Festival. There is a small museum and cafe where Marius' younger cousin Jens Martin works. There's so many Hansens up here, it is likely that they are relatives of Marius.

Monday was another action-packed day. We hiked up Rødøyløven (The Red Island Lion), 600 m above sea level. Very hot, windless day - thus we were prime meat for flies and "klegg" (translates to horsefly, but they seem like a different species here). It was steep at the top and I was a little nervous. When we got to the bottom we enjoyed cold Nordlands beer and dinner at Klokkegården - a renovated building decorated with Norwegian antiques. On the way back from the island we stoppped at the fishing spot where two years before we had caught the monster cod with Mom and Dad. This time we weren't so quick. We had to be patient. Eventually we caught two cod (Tron and Marius each caught one) - not so big, but not too small either. Cod will be dinner the next two nights! Later that night I saw a sea otter just outside our little cove. Wish it had been closer to get a good picture.

[Hiked to the top!]

[One of 2 cod]

[Feeding the birds]

[Can't get enough sunset pictures up here]

Monday, July 7, 2014

Pallet board project

This weekend Marius and I made a coffee table from some pallets he found at work. We sanded them, painted them with a white primer, and attached little swivel wheels on the bottom. The project was so easy and quick!

[Preparing the pallets]

[Sanded and cut in half]

[Equipped with wheels]

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Recently in Oslo

Not much news over here, but it has been a while since the last post. I have been taking care of Kajsa (the dog) at least 3 days a week and training for my fall marathon. 

Last Saturday I ran the farthest I have ever gone in my life - 25 km (15.5 miles)! It was rough. My knee started to hurt on the way back. My long runs are "out and back", up along the river in Oslo up to the lake where Oslo gets its drinking water (Maridalsvann). I ran up 12.5 kms in a slow hour and 10 minutes before turning around. 

It felt good to be done. I was tired. My legs were tired. That run made me question how I'll be able to do 42 kilometers 11 weeks from now. We will see. 


Sunday was fun. The American Coordinating Council of Norway put on an Independence Day gathering in Frogner Park. There was a classic car show with maybe 15 cars (4 of which were Ford mustangs) and a handful of food booths with American style food, of course. I was also able to re-register to vote with the Democrats Abroad group (Republicans abroad also had a table). It was a mixture of Americans and Norwegians, and most of the Americans seemed more Norwegian than American. I asked a few what brought them to Norway and they all replied the same thing - their significant other is Norwegian. 

Afterwards, we went to Ekeberg Park on the opposite side of the city. The park is mainly forest and this year some sculptures have been placed around the park. One of my favorites was a bronze lady squatting and peeing - an alternative fountain. We have to take Mom and Dad around there to see the rest of the sculptures we didn't get to see. 

The same rock - awesome optical illusion by the artist

Act for Arctic