30 kilometres, emergency stops and a tiny badge
“COME OOON JAKOB!!! YOU HAVE 30 MORE SECONDS TO WIN THE BADGE!!!” I heard coach Stefan’s deafening roar from the finish line. I had been steadily accelerating my pace for the last 2 kilometres and now, with only around 100 metres to go, I found some more juice in my legs to increase my pace to a jerky kind of sprint. 30 trail kilometres on mostly gravel roads and small forest trails in 2.57.10 (303’rd place out of a total of 495 in the male category). Nordmarkstravern is one of those races where – if you manage to finish with a time no more than 50% longer than the winner’s time – you get a shiny, tiny badge to show for it. So thanks Stefan, for helping me grab the last straw and winning one of the badges!
As usual, I had missed to prebook a starting number and consequently found myself at Sognsvann at 8.15 am on Saturday morning in order to fix one. This settled, I climbed aboard one of the multiple race buses bound for the lake Stryken in the middle of Nordmarka. In the bus I found myself sitting next to coach Stefan and his pal Peter. Stefan and I had succesfully tried the shorter Halve Nordmarkstravern (15 km) last year and had decided to give the full version a try this year. The sun greeted us by Stryken when we arrived, promising us one of those last warm late-summer days of the season. I can keep pace with my coach on a good day and so when the starting gun went off I tagged along Peter and Stefan in a comfortable run trying to avoid the snags and stones on the gravel road, zig-zagging between the other 700 (!) runners out there today. There was quite a bit of shoving and pushing going on which for me is a bit unfathomable for such a long race and I found myself memorizing a particularly enthusiastic shover’s jersey in order to give him a good strong push when I’d be passing his ass in around 10k or so. As soon as we hit the forest trails, I relaxed a bit. I have probably mentioned this a thousand times, but I simply LOVE trail running! The better I get at it the more I feel like I am flying over those roots, mudholes and rocks. More and more I feel that my ankles, knees and overall balance is beginning to find a form of equilibrium where I feel confident running up steep inclines and down slippery slopes. As soon as I start running down a forest trail I start tip-toeing in my 3 mm drop trail shoes and I find it hard to land on the middle part of my foot when I return to the gravel roads or asphalt. It was interesting how much my speed suffered while on the roads with people passing me in a frustrating manner and how I picked them off one by one while in the forest. I really need to start working on my speed on the flats again. I’ve been neglecting the interval training during our summer vacation and it needs to be rectified before New York.
Unfortunately what slowed me down even more were my two extremely unfortunate toiletbreaks. My tummy’s a bit sensitive and even though I’ve tried many a time to tame it to my will, it sometimes turns me down in the most humiliating fashion. Without going into details, suffice it to say that the middle part of the race (10 to 20 km) was painful with stomach cramps and panicky searching for deep and secluded parts of the forest. Despite all of this the race was extremely enjoyable; the support personell were all friendly and helpful and the route was challengingly drawn between beautiful lakes and up and down serpentine paths. I passed a couple of unfortunate guys hobbling down the steep parts and who had clearly twisted their ankles but other than that, people seemed to be enjoying themselves. After around 20 km our trail joined the course for Halve Nordmarkstravern and suddenly I recognized the roads and paths from the previous year which gave me new momentum as I glanced down at my watch. I had been hoping to clock in at under 3 hours but had been let down by my two lengthy toiletstops, but now I saw that I could maybe, maybe manage it if I put my mind to it. The final kilometre was easily my fastest during the entire course and I greedily sucked in the atmosphere around the school where I ran my final sprint to the cheers of Stefan.
My two greatest fans miss H and Panda were waiting for me at the finish line with kisses and hugs. I mean, what better way to end a beautiful race?