I have friends who run more than 5000 km a year. That’s a hundred km a week, more or less. Every week. I have nothing but respect for runners in their category. They’re awesome. Which is why I seldom brag about my own meagre accumulated sums in this blog. Well, OK. Sometimes I do. Like now. Last week I ran 85 km, and the week before that 87 km. Wohooo! 172 km in two weeks is not bad for being me. And I’m still 21 weeks (and four days, seven hours – but who’s counting?) away from starting UTMB. God only knows what my coach Sondre has in store for me further down the line. Nothing painless, that’s for sure.
Last time, I complained about the lack of outdoor running. It’s part injury paranoia and part practicality on my part. The truth is that the weather can’t be trusted in this city. A week ago, I was warming my face in the sunshine of close to two-digit plus temperatures. One day later Oslo was hit by a snowy weather front so hard that they had to close the airport for several hours while they packed away the lawnmowers and ran around looking for the keys to their snow-clearing trucks. But I have been training outdoors a few times in the last month, though. A few weeks ago, Hedda sent me an sms to ask if I would like to walk up Wyllerløypa with her, the slalom slope, you remember, where Oslos Bratteste is run every fall. Only now, we would walk up it with randonnée skis, something I have never tried before. Since I’ve been up the hill many, many times, I knew exactly how far and high I would have to lift my heavy ski boots and skis in order to get to the top. It was 400 metres of vertical hell, as always. And I loved every second. Especially the downhill part where we got to ski down again. I think I could get used to this. And I’ve always dreamt of walking the Haute Route, the most famous ski touring route in the world, starting in Chamonix and finishing in Zermatt. So that’s another adventure I need to train for. See there, my Love? You are hereby forewarned.
My second outdoor training this month was with Jakob, close to his parent’s new house. I helped Jakob out with some renovating at the house around six months ago, right after our Morenic Trail-adventure in fact, and I was curious as to how far he had come in his solo-effort of fixing and polishing since I hade been there last. Jakob picked me up at the train station in Halden, and after having crossed the border into Sweden and an hour of driving through the forests of Dalsland, we parked outside his parent’s new house in Bäckefors. We quickly pulled on our running tights, shrugged into our jackets and stepped into our shoes before we headed out the door. We kept a leisurely pace when we left the house and headed up the road towards the old ironworks before we turned left onto a side road that headed over a hill and along one of the few fields that dot the countryside, swallowed up by the vast forests that make up much of the province of Dalsland. The dirt road was covered in 20 cm of wet snow, save for a fresh set of wheel tracks that made for an easier run as we chose a track each and ran side by side down the lane. Fairly quickly we reached an asphalt road that led up one of the higher hills in the area, and there we aimed for Bäckeforsmasten; a 327 metre high TV-mast that supplies the region with both digital TV-transmissions and analog radio. The top of the tower was lost in the heavy clouds that surrounded the hill, but we could clearly hear voices shouting to one another from up on high, probably belonging to maintenance workers. Or vandals. We never did find out, since at this point we turned down and off the wet asphalt road onto a forest trail completely covered in snow. We ran carefully down the path, trying to avoid tripping over roots and fallen branches and exited from the trail onto yet another dirt road at the bottom of the hill, where we turned left again and settled into a wheel track each. After only a kilometer or so, we found ourselves running along the western bank of Marsjön, the largest lake in the area, and both of us marvelled in silence at the gorgeous sight before us. The sky was overcast with heavy, leaden skies and the surface of the lake was still and completely undisturbed, as if it was only waiting for a pair of runners to silently pass by to complete the painting. Wonderful. We turned after a few kilometers and went back the way we came, only not turning back up towards the TV-mast but rather continuing along a gravel road towards the ruins of the old smithy not far from where the old ironworks of Bäckefors had once lain. Mud-spattered, wet and happy, we jogged up to the door of the house again, entered, took of our shoes and settled down around the kitchen table where Mama Kegel had prepared small and thick Polish apple pancakes with hot chocolate. Believe me, life doesn’t get any better than this.
On a final note, I’d like to mention my cousin Eva’s husband, Andrej, and give him a huge pat on the back, congratulatory hug and toast of champagne. Yesterday, he finished his first marathon – the ČSOB Bratislava Marathon – in an impressive sub-4 hour time! Andrej is the head of Krizovany Road Runners and can now call himself a marathoner! Maros, one of my other dear cousins, is planning to run Paris Marathon next weekend, so keep your fingers crossed for him as well. I’m dumbstruck by all of the running talent our family has displayed in the last few years, and there’s more to come. On a final, self-congratulatory note: Jakob and Jakob would like to think that we’ve helped to inspire these achievements in a small way, and hope that we continue to do so through our stories. You guys are going to add to them in the years to come.