Paris – Notre Dame

It is so tragic when historical monuments are destroyed, being from pure accidents or from cruel acts of history-challenged religious fanatics. Art and structures are a way to understand the past and, based on that, create a better and more informed future. Up through the ages all religions have something to answer to when it comes to demolition of history, but in these enlightened days, we really should know better.

I am so happy that I for instance visited the Museum of Cairo before looters destroyed mummies and smashed artifacts in 2011. I am also very happy that I, even if this was an accident during repairs, was able to visit the beautiful cathedral of Notre Dame.

Even if I am a full bred atheist, I do respect all religions and I am always interested in learning more about their ways. A part of understanding the different religions is to look back to the past in the form of written material, art and holy places, and I much enjoy visiting cathedrals, churches, mosques, temples and shrines in the quest of knowledge and perhaps inner peace.

Stratford-Upon-Avon: In the footsteps of Shakespeare

One summer I was bored, I impulsively jumped on a plane to London and took a train to Stratford-Upon-Avon to visit the birthplace of Shakespeare. Don’t ask me why I ended up there of all places, but my fascination of his comedies in general and Much Ado About nothing in special, might have something to do with it.

I spent almost a week in the small, cozy English village, soaking up the atmosphere, admiring the thatched houses and visiting historical buildings, like Shakespeares birthhouse and his new house as well as the house of Anne Hathaway’s parents, where Shakespeare courted his wife-to-be. A week in totall stressless harmony, engulfed in historic poetry. I even ended up having a two hour excistential conversation with a catholic priest at the local church. Quite interesting, especially me being an atheist an all, but that is a story for another time.

My Generation X – Birth

With my 44 years I am one of the last generations to have had an analogue childhood but who is now more or less struggling with re-branding ourselves in the new digital world. We are talking about Generation X, those who are born between 1960-1980.

In this series of posts I will revisit some of the elements from the oast, and I will start with…. birth

Birth

A hot August day in 1974, my pregnant mom was dropped off at the hospital stairs by my dad on his way to work. There she was left on her own with a midwife from hell who traumatized her to the level that my mother was a complete wreck when I was pregnant 32 years later (so bad that she needed to meet my midwife to make sure I was in good hands). I mean, she was constantly yelling at the poor woman and actually tried to force me out by placing her very generous body weight on my mothers pregnant belly.

This was of course back in the days where smoking was allowed everywhere, so most likely the whole hospital was engulfed in heavy sigarette smoke. Probably the reason I didn’t want to leave the comfort of the womb voluntarily, but had to be dragged out with pliers.

My first meeting with my big brother

A couple of days later, I was brought home from the hospital (which literally was across the street, like 200 meters away) to meet my brother. The first meeting was, however, not exactly a great såsuccess. Being used to getting all the attention, my brother at the age of 18 months, was not willing to share his privileges. The result was that instead of a warm welcome and a hug, I got a slap in the face with the message that he did NOT want a little sister. Luckily his hostility did not last for long and he grew up to be quite protective of his little sister.

Parental Leave

Currently Norwegians are entitled to 49 weeks of parental leave with full pay, or 59 werks with 80% pay. One of the world’s best atrangements, but still some are complaining saying that it is bordering child abuse to send your kid to kindergarten before the age of 3. Back in the 70’ies, the whole concept of parental leave was unknown and the mere thought of the daddy spending quality time with the little diaper-bearing creature was unthinkable (even though that in my case my father made up for the lost time, with interest, later on). My mother had the option of unpaid leave or giving up her job. She chose the last one and spent the next few years at home with us children.

 Kindergarten/Day Care

There is a long way from the pedagogic kindergartens of today to the more or less detention centers we had back in the days. I hated that my mom went back to work, something that meant me and my brother having to spend several hours in a terrible place where we had to stay outside in all weather conditions and where we were hardly allowed to go inside to use the bathroom. Possible this is an unfair description of the conditions, but hey I was like 4-5 years old and this is all I remember.

We often hear statements saying “everythingwas better in the good ol’ days”, but I dare argue that at least I prefer the modern world of paid parental leave, the pedagogic fundamented kindergartend and the amicable and warm midwives we have today.

 So let us be thankful and let us not take our privileges for granted…

5 Marathons on my Bucket List

Alas, so the great Abbott World Marathon Majors-adventure has come to an end. Or, at least to a pause; the rumor is that they are actually expanding from 6 to 8 or 9 marathons within short. When decided, we of course will need to run these, so that we can maintain or status as Abbott 6/8/9 Star Finishers.

But while waiting for this, I have made a bucket list of the marathon I would really like to wog/run. Prior to Tokyo Marathon I had more or less decided to just complete there and then burn my running shoes in firm belief that I would never be a runner. Now, however, I am not that sure… Or, I am quite sure I will never be a runner, but maybe I should aspire for being the best wogger I can be? I have completed 13 marathons, but I have never really been prepared (meaning enough long runs before the race). When you are aiming for a 42,2 km, it isn’t sufficient with 30-45 minute sessions. I was, for not foreseeable reasons, not able to do any long runs prior to our travel to Tokyo, so I was only able to do a 15km. Since I lasted about 18 km, I feel that I have some improvement potential if I can only get some more long-runs.

To boost my motivation to become a better runner/wogger, I have created a bucket list of marathons I would like to participate in.

1. Honolulu Marathon

Honolulu Marathon is scheduled for December each year, which brings a temperature equal to a wonderful Norwegian summer. A bit too hot for some, maybe, but for a frozen wogger, is just perfect. Ever since I spent a few weeks on Honolulu 12 years ago, I have wanted to return, so why not kill 2 birds with one stone and do a marathon while I am there?

The advantage of Honolulu Marathon is that it is not that difficult to secure a start number, meaning the cost will mostly be just air fare and hotel. If you don’t want the hazzle of booking by yourself, you can book a complete package from a travel agent. The course is mostly flat, but with some rough places between 10 and 15 km and between 35 and 40 km.

2. Great Wall Marathon

The Great wall has an amazing and I have been quite fascinated with it since I was a kid. The Great Wall Marathon is considered a tought course and you will have to conquer over 5000 steps along the way! Fortunately you have an 8 hours time limit, but you need to have passed 34 km in 6 hours in order to be allowed to complete. Step practice anyone?

The race is in May each year and I have seen that e.g. Albatros Adventure Marathons sells complete travel packages that includes a start number.

3. Paris Marathon

I know nothing about Paris Marathon other than that it is in April each year and that the finishing line is on top of Champs Elysses . That is all the reasons I need in order to include this marathon on my bucket list (hey, we are talking about “The City of Love” here!). It should be fairly easy to secure a start number on your own, but you can also do it through a travel agent.

The course looks a bit scruffy and ends with a slow slope up Champs Elysses.

4. Praha Marathon

Prague is an amazing city I never grow tired of; fantastic architecture, a rich cultural life, delicious foods and cheap beer. I mean, what is not to like, so why not go “all in” and throw a marathon into the mix as well?

Prague Marathon is in May every year and the course takes you through both the old and new parts of the city, including crossing the Charles Bridge. The time limit is cosy 7 hours, so here you can really combine easy jog with sightseeing. I am not sure if any of the Norwegian travel agents are offering Prague Marathon, but it should be fairy easy to secure a start number on your own.

5. Medoc Marathon

So, last but not least, Medoc Marathon. This marathon is known for its runners’ costumes (this year’s theme is: Super Heros) and the fact that you run through vines and that all drinking stations supply wine. Official time limit is 6:30, but sometimes they extend this limit since many of the runners are starting to get wine happy.

The program is set and shuttles will bring you to and front the start/finisher area, so it should be OK to arrange everything on your own. Me, however, think I would like to prefer to book the trip through e.g. Springtime.

So, this was my bucket list. Do you guys have any suggestions that should be included in the list? If so, feel free to comment below..

Tokyo Marathon – Bib number and final preparations

We arrived Tokyo a rainy and windy Thursday afternoon, dead beat after only a couple of hours sleep on the plane. Since we expected to slide into a coma the minute we reached our hotel room, we decided to go directly to the expo to pick up our bib number.

The expo was about a 30 minutes drive away, so we had the reseption call us two taxies. Neither of the drivers knew any English but we thought we were safe since we had written down both the address and the name of the place. Turned out we were not. The taxis took us to two different places and fir our part we had to search for the place for a while before we found it, and on the way we even fell into a history garage, with a display of vintage cars.

When we finally reached the expo, we managed to meet up with the rest of the group, who had to climb a hedge to get there.

When it comes to the expo… On the positive side, going there the first day was a strike of luck, since there were hardly anyone there and collecting the bib number and free T-shirts did not take any time at all. The volunteers were also so enthusiastic, friendly and helpful through the whole process.

So to the sub-par parts, where the poor weather must take its fair share of the blame. The expo consisted of multiple tents about 20 meter apart and it wasn’t that much fun running back and forth between them. In addition there were deep puddles of water on the ground inside the tents due to the heavy rain, so we where soaking wet by the time we reached the exit. It wasn’ exactly tempting to shop anything in these conditions, but luckily the main shopping stand was both dry and warm, so I was able to purchase a couple of running T-shirts (in size XL I might add, due to the bloody small Japanese sizes).

Since all four runners in our group are also eligable for the big, fat Six Star Finisher medal we had hoped to buy som Abbott merch on the expo (they had a huge stand in Chicago), but bo such luck. We’ll have to wait until the online store opens. But, it was great to see the Wall of Fame with the name of all about 4000 before us who have achieved this goal (running marathons in Berlin, Boston, New York, Chicago, London and Tokyo that is..), where only 36 are from Norway and only 14 are women (hey, when you suck too much to compete on time, you’ll have to find something else to compete in….)

It was so relieving being done with the bib collecting and on our way back to the hotel we got a crash course in the metro system of Tokyo. I wouldn’t say we nailed it, but at least we got home without too much hassle.

Fast forward to Saturday and the day before the race. No turning back now, so I am aiming for a good nights sleep and hope for the best tomorrow.

Wish me luck 🙂