Approximately 8 months ago I had the “brilliant” idea of applying for a seeded spot in the Norseman 10th Anniversary Race. For those unfamiliar, the race is ridiculously difficult. For example, the profile:
Notice that the profile is in meters. Oh, and the race starts off by jumping off a ferry into pitch blackness at 4:50am in the middle of a fjord. “Brilliant” idea Mark. Just brilliant.
Okay, all sarcasm aside, this was probably one of the better ideas I’ve had. Norway is GORGEOUS. For example, a picture of Eidfjord, the town (and fjord) where the race begins:
When in Eidfjord, we stayed in a town about 30 minutes away called Kinsarvik; the drive along the way was RI-DIC-U-LOUS. A quick picture of our cabin in Kinsarvik:
If you look closely, you can see that the view on the opposite side of the cabin is very similar the view seen in Eidfjord picture above. Certainly, the race is truly unique. And speaking of that, I should probably talk about how things went.
Getting up at 1:15am for the 3:00am check-in was a bit early. However, per usual, I was quickly awake, myself, and for once, nervous for the race. Once 3:45 rolled around, it was time to hop on the ferry:
That’s my brother, Matt, on the left and our friend Luke Reynolds on the right. They had traveled to Europe to visit Luke’s foreign exchange “brother” from high school and swung by Norway on the way home to be my race support (each athlete had to have his or her own support car).
Though I was quite nervous on the ferry, once I plummeted into the cold waters 2.4 miles from Eidfjord, I realized it was just another race (a statement I made to Matt in T1) and I should focus on enjoying it (especially given that my training had been sub-par; my goal was just to get a black t-shirt, awarded to the top 160 finishers at the top of Gaustatoppen mountain). Swimming went off without a hitch, as I put minimal effort in to conserve as much energy as possible for the bike and run portions. With a time in the high-58s, I was stoked (especially knowing I could’ve swam much more quickly if I wasn’t so focused on conserving energy).
Exiting T1, the (roughly) 4,000 foot climb was quite enjoyable, as I passed about the same number of people who had passed me. The scenery was ridiculous, as we basically traveled along a river that had carved out a valley of pure beauty. Near the top of the climb, Matt and Luke caught me for the first time:
Shortly thereafter, I threw on a coat, as temperature had dropped from about 60 in Eidfjord to about 45. Let me tell you, descending a couple thousand feet in 45-degree weather is less-than-stellar.
It was on the descent that the wheels fell off (figuratively). Again, I was facing the same problem that I had faced during Oceanside earlier in the year; I simply did not was to be racing. Looking at my watch, I was “only” 3:45 into racing, and expected a 12-hour “ish” time given the massive elevation changes during the day. It was after a 10-minute stop with Matt and Luke at the road where I decided to mail it in; I didn’t have 8 more hours of racing left in the tank. Ultimately, a disappointment, and obviously raises many questions about why I haven’t been enjoying racing.
In sum, I’d like to point out that as I’m writing this blog (about 10 days post-race), I think I simply need a “break” from triathlon; one I’ve been hesitant to take in the middle of my planned racing season (in which I’ve only done 2 of my planned 6 races). So I’m in the middle of a 1-month break, where I am only allowed short swim, bike and run workouts if I feel the urge, following a forced 3-week period of no swimming, biking or running. Already, I’m feeling the urge to race again, but may decide to wait until the 2013 season to return, just to ensure that “burnout” doesn’t rear its ugly head once again.
Following the race, we headed to our cabin near Gaustatoppen (where the race finishes) and settled down for a nap. We then headed into a nearby town, Rjukan, for a few post-race brews, much needed after a disappointing day:
The next day, we decided to take the hour-long hike to the top of Gaustatoppen, which is also the last 5-6k of the marathon course (and obviously, looking at the profile, a whopping 6,000 foot change in elevation!):
I’m glad we did the hike, as it brought about a resurgence in motivation for me, as I couldn’t stop thinking that I should have reached the top the day before. Norseman 2014?
As is customary, I have rambled, but must sign-off with MAD PROPS:
- Matt and Luke, a stupendous support crew and great company for the entire vacation
- The people of Norway. I was very impressed with how friendly people were (and their knowledge of English!) and how genuine my fellow competitors were before and after the race
- Timex, for giving me great support during the year
- My fellow competitors, especially those completing the race. My hat is off to all
With that, I will be signing off.
Until next time, peace…
Oh, and one more thing: I WILL be back for Norseman 2014.