Dad has been running for four hours, Jakob and I have been at it for thirteen hours. Right now, we’re running through one of the most beautiful landscapes in the Alps. The forecast for the day is overcast with a bit of rain and around 10-12°C. As long as it doesn’t pour down torrents of rain, it’s close to ideal conditions. We’ve hooked up our Facebook-accounts to a live GPS-update which should give you guys a ping every time we pass a checkpoint. If you want to follow us more closely, hook up to the official results site, choose either The North Face LUT for me and Jakob, or Cortina Trail for dad, and then type in our names. If you haven’t donated to our charity Reece’s Rainbow yet, please do! You have helped us raise $2,115 so far. Help us reach $2,500!!! God bless and keep your fingers crossed!
Actually, it’s three days and 2 hours as the race starts at 23.00 on Friday evening. On Thursday morning, the three of us will meet up in Munich, Germany, where we’ll rent a car for the final 320 km trip to Cortina d’Ampezzo. We just wanted to let all of you know that so far, you amazing people have donated $ 2 085 to Reece’s Rainbow!!! Will you help us reach $ 3 000 on race day? Also, I have signed up for Facebook to connect with my race GPS, meaning that all of you will have the chance to follow Jakob and me as we pass the checkpoints. Dad, bless him, doesn’t have a Facebook account, but we’ll try to keep you updated of all of our progress nonetheless.
Two weeks and counting. 14 days to get every single race detail just right. Friday 27th June at 23.00, Jakob and I will start Lavaredo Ultra Trail from Corso Italia in Cortina d’Ampezzo and head for the first peak Son Forca at around 2 100 metres. A few hours later, at 09.00 on Saturday morning, dad will follow suit, heading for the same peak in the ultrarace Cortina Trail. With only a few days left, the training has settled into a calmer rhythm, and the many kilometres and extreme climbing sessions are over. For now. It’s only a matter of keeping our legs and feet fresh. I still feel some pain in my heel from time to time, especially when I push it during tempo increases at our interval sessions with Urban Tribes. But I’m not worried. It’ll hold up just fine, I’m sure.
The last month has progressed pretty well with regards to training, especially considering the fact that I was injured for two weeks a mere month ago. My heel didn’t take kindly to long runs on asphalt, and – curiously – liked trail runs even less. I was at a loss and had some trouble planning my training sessions. Running on my old friend the treadmill has, a bit surprisingly, worked just fine. It’s been the only “ground” I have been able to run on where my heel hasn’t given me any trouble whatsoever. I have been dreaming about green and lovely forest trails all winter, longing for the days when I’d be able to leave the air conditioned gym behind, but alas. But at least the cloud had another silver lining, apart from helping me train up my heel again: I’ve been listening to Antony Beevor’s The Second World War and am finally almost finished. The book itself is a brick and the audio book, read by the brilliant Sean Barrett, is a whopping 39 hours and 19 minutes long. That’s a lot of running.
Last week during my top training period I managed to run 118 km and 2 300 vertical metres in seven days, stepping it down to around 70 km and 1 800 vertical metres for this week. I’ve been inspired by Jakob who’s working from Malta at the moment, and who’s told me about this stretch of road that climbs 200 metres in only 2 kilometres, and where he’s spent his long runs during the last month. The best place to do proper hill training here in Oslo is the skiing slope Wyllerløype in Sørkedalen, the venue for Oslos Bratteste in September. Since I wasn’t sure that my heel would survive four and five hours of planned long runs last week and this week, respectively, I decided to spend those long runs climbing the slope up and (trying to) run down as many times I could manage. The four-hour session started out with a less than inviting torrent of rain pounding the windshield of my car while driving into Sørkedalen. And then it got worse. It rained non-stop the entire evening and I was soaked even before I made it halfway for the first climb. Good training. You can never know how the weather will be in the Alps, and it could rain during the race as well. Even snow, in fact.
Logging 1 750 vertical metres and 22 km during 4 hours, I managed to climb the slope four times in those slippery conditions. This week, I had hoped to climb it five times in as many hours, but the conditions couldn’t have been more different with 25°C and a merciless sun trying to boil me alive. This time, I was soaked with sweat and had emptied half of my Camelpak before I even got to the top for the first time. Clearly, I would have to fill it up with more water after climb number two, and I hadn’t brought any extra water. Fortunately, I convinced the personnel at the ski/bike rental a few hundred metres from the top of the slope to fill her up. And then I promptly managed to overdose my salt tablets, forgetting for a moment that I was in Norway and not in the Sahara (happens all the time). Instead of the single tablet every one to two hours, I popped two at the same time. Not even three minutes later, I started salivating and suddenly felt nauseous, finally managing to throw up on the side of the trail. Taking a while to compose myself, I simply sat by one of the tall sprayhoses for artificial snow and enjoyed the view of the setting sun over the valley. Simply marvellous.
As all of you know, we are raising money for Reece’s Rainbow during this race, and you lovely, generous people have already donated $ 1 105! Let all of your friends and families know and encourage them to visit our charity site to donate! My cousin Maria, her husband Nic and their two beautiful daughters managed to raise € 350 for their own charity during a market day in their village of Leynes, France, last week, so take up the gauntlet and help us reach $ 2 000 before race day!!!
I was back in lovely Göteborg again last weekend, surprising dad with a round of golf at Torreby and an overnight stay at the spa Vann together with mom and Martin. For all of you people out there who don’t consider golf to be a proper sport, I invite anyone to join us as a caddy during our next round, carrying our golf bags for the 10 km or so that we walk during a round. Not only do you need strength carrying your bag and swinging the clubs, but stamina is also big part of the equation. If you’re not reasonably fit, you’ll start hitting your balls all over the place after the 12th hole. Depending on the people you’re playing with and how fast or slow the group in front of you is playing, a game can typically take around four to four-and-a-half hours. What I like most about golf, though, is walking around through meticulously and often beautifully designed landscapes, enjoying the view while chatting with my friends, all the while blissfully disconnected from everything instagram, facebook and mail accounts. And the more I play, the more I realize that golf is very much a tactical game. All in all it provides a nice counterpoint to my running.
Saturday morning dawned bright and early and a few minutes past seven, I climbed out of my car at Skatås, shrugged into my backpack, started my Suunto watch and set off down the gravel road. It was the first time I was attempting to run here without the company of Jakob, and I was initially a bit worried how I would find the right trail since the last time we were here, we started out with our head lamps illuminating pitch black woods during a chilly and early December morning. Skatås has a 2,5 km track, a 5 km track, a 10 km track (called Milen, since a Swedish mile is 10 km) and an 18 km trail, each of which is marked by a differently coloured diamond painted on the tree trunks lining that particular track or trail. As you can see in the photo, the 10 km is marked by green diamonds whereas the 18 km is marked with black-and-white diamonds. The plan for today was running 30 km, combining the 18 with the Mile and then some. I hadn’t run that far since I injured my heel, and I had definitely not run that far on trails and gravel roads for quite a while, apart from my disastrous 20 km run in Nordmarka by Sognsvann a couple of weeks ago. But my heel had felt pretty good and with exactly four weeks left until our date with the Dolomites, I had to give it an honest try. Last week marked the start of the three toughest weeks in our training programme topping out with a four hour run this week and a five hour run next week.
The Salomon shoes I ordered from wiggle have unfortunately not been very good for my heel, and I had been forced to return to my old, trusted INOV8’s of Sahara fame, and I was amazed at how at home my feet felt in them. They really have an unparalleled grip and the traction is superb. All the tracks at Skatås start out together, with the 2,5 km veering off back towards the start pretty quickly. The 18 km in fact – I was a bit surprised to finally realize – runs along the Mile track for a bit more than 5 km, then finally turns into a proper trail where the path disappears in among the birches and then goes on for about 8 km before it rejoins the Mile gravel track at the exact same spot it left off, finishing up with the final 5 km of the Mile. Even though the 8 km of trails are beautiful and the Mile is pretty challenging with loads of up-and-down-hill-running, it’s feels a bit sloppy and lazy having them run together for so long. Couldn’t the designers have fitted in a bit more trails for the 18 km? It’s not as if there’s a shortage of forest around the area.
In order to imitate the conditions during which we would be running in the Alps, i.e. walking during impressive climbs and trying to run during flats and descents, I tried an approach of pausing every 5 km for water and a chocolate bar and walking up the steepest hills, which worked out pretty well. My heel didn’t give me any trouble whatsoever, but after about 15 km I started to feel an ache in my right hip. I tried to figure out what I was doing wrong, but unfortunately couldn’t understand why it was starting to hurt. I tried to rectify my gait, but to no avail. And when these troubles start, it’s kind of hard for them to disappear. I don’t know if I was running in a crooked way, if I was unaccustomed to the terrain, the weight of the backpack or simply not having run in my INOV8’s for a long time. The weather was perfect with a light breeze, overcast skies and a temperature of about 15 degrees. I was even cooled down by some drops of rain for twenty minutes. I love running in the rain. All in all it was a pretty tough run and I didn’t run as quickly as I had hoped, also in some small part due to two unplanned toiletbreaks, but as I was finishing up a final little loop in order to reach 30 km, I felt pretty good. My hip hurt a bit and I was sore and tired, but very happy that I had managed the distance without my heel troubles flaring up all over again. Martin helped me with my aching hip later in the afternoon and yesterday evening it felt as good as new. So keep your fingers crossed.
On the theme of trynig to accumulate as many vertical metres as possible before our race, I’ve decided to turn my long runs into long climbs. This week’s planned 40 km and next week’s planned 50 km will be turned into slope training sessions with four and five hours respectively being spent in the slalom slope of Wyllerløypa (the place of the famous race Oslo’s Bratteste), trying to walk briskly up and down the slope once an hour. Hopefully, it will lead to 1600 and 2000 vertical metres for the two sessions. If anybody would like to join me for part of or the whole of this week’s climb, I’m planning it for Thursday after work.
Today it’s only 25 days left to the North Face Lavaredo Ultra Trail and Cortina Trail in Italy. If you haven’t visited our charity site at Reece’s Rainbow yet, please do and donate as much as you can spare. And for all of you fantastic people who have already given $ 1.105 to our charity: a huge thank you and God bless!