The Early-Bird Treat

Finally departure day is here! Since our flight was at 6 AM I had big plans for an early evening yesterday, bit that didn’t quite happen so I did not fall asleep until close to midnight. So, at 3 AM, 1 whole hour befor my alarmbell was to go off, KLM thought it wise to send a text, weaking me up, with the message that the airport was crowded. Yea right, it took us like 15 minutes from we were dropped off by the taxi until we had checked our luggage and been through security (#LoveTorpAirport).

So, still a bit grumpy from the inscheduled early morning, we boarded the plane where the temperature felt sub-zero an the seats were cold as ice. We had to de-ice before we could take off, and that took about 40 minutes, but finally we were in the air. So, to re-cap: still grumpy and now also freezing… But then I took a look out the window and saw the most beautiful of sunrises and my dark mood vaporized immediately. It was really calming to see the rays of sun slowly break through the thick layer of clouds.

When we landed in Amsterdam, my mood was much better. We have some hours to kill here before our last leg to Dubai, but at least we are fortunate enough to have access to the lounge. All in all, a good start on our Christmas trip.

Nordmarka Forest Marathon – My first marathon (#stupidfool)

Give me any kind of ball and I can play a decent match in just a few sessions (handball, football, basket, table tennis, squash, golf, volleyball, etc.. ) Ballgames have always come easy to me. The same can be said about swimming. I did competitive swimming 2 years when I was like 14-15 years old, but I have only been swimming on holidays since. I found out, however, when going to the municipality pool a few months ago, that I still was a fairly good swimmer, and I also got a lot better after just a month of training.

Now, this is not meant to be a blog about bragging… It is just to set the scene for the disappointment I felt when I started up with running. Since athletics have always come easy to me, I kind of had the same expectation when it came to running. No such luck… A mental trainer I once had a meeting with, told me that we are never to tell our self that we suck at something. We are just to say that we can get a bit better at something. Well, I can be a lot better at running. That is even true 8 years after my first marathon.

I was fast approaching my mid-thirties and had a one year old at home and a husband working afternoons and nights at the local hospital. I wanted to pick up volleyball again (I played 2 years in the premier league in Norway), but since my little bundle of joy could not be by himself, I had to settle for my life-long hated sport… namely running. I have always considered running, unless it was in chase of a ball of some kind, as a waste of time. Now I did it as a mere necessity to try get rid of some of the baby weight and to keep myself sane after early mornings for a couple of years (we are talking around 04:00 AM here..).

Like I said, running did not come easy to me and after a couple of months of effort, I still couldn’t run for 2 km without breaking for a walk and my motivation was approaching rock bottom. Then I decided, just for the hell of it, to sign myself up for a half marathon, so that I had something to look forward to (I have always had a soft spot for medals..). So, 1 month later I ran 21.1 km in Oslo and at a terrible pace of course (sorry;the pace could have been better). I then promised myself to never run again and to throw away my running shoes. So, I went home and 1 day later I had signed up for a full marathon at Nordmarka Skogsmarathon a few months later (my selective memory sometimes plays tricks on me).

Sooo, the marathon day arrived with 4 degrees Celsius and rain, and part of the trail was in something best describedas a swamp. After 1 km, I was soaking wet and freezing. I looked at my watchand remember myself thinking “OK, only 41,2 km left..).

What I lack in talent or fitness, I take up in stamina. I was not about to quit, so I alternated between walking and jogging, walking and jogging, walking, walking, walking and then a bit jogging right before the finishing line. Along the way, I started to talk tomyself, watched with interest the small frogs that kept jumping around my feet and trying my best to ignore the many ambulances that drove past me (apparently a few persons had fallen ill during the race).

I more or less crawled across the finishing line and barely had time to recognize the feeling of disappointment over that they instead of a finisher medal had a finisher…cup (what the f***???).Well, I grabbed the damn cup and had to throw myself in my car and drive for 2 hoursto get home in time for a shower before a birthday party 45 minutes later.

Boston Marathon – the flu, pneumonia and vertigo, but new medal in the bag

Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon and one of the more prestigious to run. It is very hard to qualify, and they have very few charity spots. For us runners that are a bit challenged pace wise, the only option then is to pay a fortune to secure a spot through a travel agent. Since Boston is one of the Abbott World Major Marathon and we needed it to get the big, fat six-star-finisher medal, we were therefore very happy that we were able to buy our way in through Springtime.no in 2017, after 3 years on a wait list.

The training for the marathon was everything but perfect. The race is in Apriland in January I got the flu that lasted for a week and developed intopneumonia which I left untreated for a month. In the whole of February I hadthe cough of a patient with COPD still smoking 60 cigarettes a day, but inMarch I started on antibiotics and recuperated quickly. I managed 3-4 runningsessions before I got ill again, this time from Ménière, a vestibular disordercausing vertigo spells, fullness in air tinnitus and nausea. I could not movemy head for the last days before departure, but suddenly, the night before ourflight, I got much better, and started to pack my gear in a hurry to board theplane the next morning. 

We were a group of six persons, where 4 of us where to participate in the marathon and we arrived in Boston on Thursday afternoon. I went straight to bed after check in at Wyndham Boston Beacon Hill hotel.

On Friday I woke up early due to the jetlag and I lay completely still,trying to check if the world was still a rollercoaster. Luckily not, so then Iwas ready to join the others for sightseeing. Boston is the lobster capital ofthe world and since lobster costs as much as gold back in Norway, we atelobster several times a day for the entire stay.  

Oldest restaurant in Boston

On Saturday we went to a baseball match, which was very exciting, but a bitcold since it lasted for 4+hours the temperature was not exactly all that.

On Sunday we took the metro to Harvard and spent the day there hoping to grow some brain cells before we went back for an early pasta dinner the night before the race.

On Monday, the weather suddenly turned, and we got temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius. The course was interesting, but with my lack of preparations, I had a hard time completing. But, I did it with a whole minute to spare before the time limit, so I did get my medal. It felt very strange jogging up the same path as where the bombs went off five years earlier.   

Berlin Marathon 2010, 2012 and 2015 – Rain, ambulance and naked men in park, but 3 new medals

Berlin Marathon in 2010 was my second marathon after the under par experience in Nordmarka Forest marathon a few months earlier. I really had given up the idea of participating and had even cancelled my plane ticket, but had a change of heart the week before the race and booked a new trip to Berlin; outbound on Saturday morning and inbound on Sunday night, right after the race.  

Well, race day arrived with rain and cold weather and that resulted in burns and blisters ALL over due to friction (like 1×10 cm opened wound in the back of each knee caused by my Rehband kneewarmers. My clothes was not quite up to speed either, for example, I wore a regular bra, which gave me bra shaped burns. I also got burns from my ear-phones, so all in all, not my finest moment. But, the course itself was amazing and despite the poor weather, Berlin was crowded with people cheering us on (or, to be honest, I do not speak German, so I am just guessing they were cheering). The last 1000m is up the Unter den Linden. On the map it looks totally flat, but at the end of a 42,2km race, it feels like a giant hill. On the top of the “hill” is Brandenburger Tor and I when I saw it, I was totally sure that that was the finishing line. No such luck… When reaching Brandenburger Tor, I saw that I had to crawl for an additional 2-300 meters. Passing the finishing line was amazing and some tears found their way down my cheek there in the rain, but was quickly replaced with the biggest grin when I got the medal around my neck.

Well, the race was over and I had to revert back to my hotel for a quick shower and then pack up my stuff and go straight to the airport. The hotel was approximately 1 km from the finishing line, but it took me 45 minutes to reach it. I had to have like 20 breaks on the way where I sat down on the wet ground and felt very sorry for myself. But, I did get a lot of sympathetic looks along the way at least… When I finally reached the hotel, and went into the shower, I started to cry like a little baby when the water hit all my burns. The pain was excruciating and I barely managed to get undress afterwards. Then I had to rush off to the airport, where I received a sms from some colleagues, who had also done the race, asking me to join them for drinks and dinner. Instead, I had to sit 2 hours on a plane with poor leg room, reach Gardermoen at midnight and then drive the 2 hours back home and then be at work at 8 the next morning. 

Two years later, I was back in Berlin for my second try. As usual, I had not exactly been resting the days before the race. 10-20 km sightseeing the day before a race is not exactly the best of ideas, so my legs were hurting already before the start. But, at least I got a new medal for my collection, and this time the weather was pleasant with sun and perfect temperature. A buddy of mine, who was also running, made the same mistake as I two years before, in believing Brandenburger Tor was the finishing line. But, in his case, he did not notice he was not done and laid down on the ground to rest. A mascot came up for him and tried to cheer him on, but my friend thought the mascot was only gratulating him, so he gave him a good hug before he suddenly noticed the finishing line a couple of hundred meters away (#EPIC). And the best of all; we have it all on tape…

In 2016 am back for the third time, along with a bunch of friends. One of the days we were going for a picnic in Tiergarten and had laid out all the food and were halfway down our prosecco glass when we suddenly noticed that everyone around us were naked. It turned out that we had managed to pick the nudist part of the park for our picnic. We tried to look indifferent, but when a couple of the guys started to stretch, we simply couldn’t be there anymore (I still have some mental pictures of the whole thing I am unable to get rid of…). This was the year I felt a pressure throughout the race, had to take an EKG after crossing the finishing line, resulting in an ambulance to the hospital where I was admitted with severe kidney failure. So, instead of celebrating with champagne, I got an IV and a hospital bed… lucky me..

Note to self for next time… 2XU compression tights, sweater and socks can be challenging if admitted into the hospital for a check. My bloated body stretched the clothes to their final limit, and they almost had to cut them apart to get them off me for examination. The next morning, I was well enough to leave the hospital and luckily we had a couple of more days in Berlin before we had to go home. 

We staid at the Intercontinental Hotel Berlin and when we showed up for breakfast on our last day, we noticed that they were actually serving prosecco. A bit early for us, but we thought, what the H***. When in Rome (or Berlin in this case..) do as the Romans (or the Berliners). After breakfast it was time to pack up our stuff and, a bit tipsy, we went to the airport for our return flag. 

Ras al-Khaimah – the Forgotten Emirate

United Arab Emirates (UAE) was founded in 1971 by the six emirates Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah, Umm al-Qaiwai and one year later they were joined by Ras al-Khaimah (RAK).

When we hear UAE, the first thing that springs to mind is of course Dubai, with Abu Dhabi as a runner up. RAK, which is the northernmost emirate is a hidden gem for most but is definitely worth a visit if you crave (as I often do) peace and quiet in luxurious surroundings for a budget price. It can be easily reach by a 45-minute taxi drive from Dubai (if you try to pre-book the trip, you will get an insane price quote, so regular taxi is very much preferred).

Last Easter my son and I spent 5 days at the DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Marjan Island before ending our holiday with 3 days in Dubai and we paid less than what the charter tours charge for a week in Gran Canary at a mediocre hotel.

Hotel food and drinks are quite expensive, but we found a small grocery shop a few hundred meters away where we stocked up on rolls and sodas. This way we only needed to buy one meal at the hotel in addition to the breakfast that was already included.

Marjan Island is a very quiet peninsula, so if you are looking for lots of activities or wild nightlife, go somewhere else. We, however, had a great time, playing volleyball, swimming in one of the many giant swimming pools, taking a dip in the clear blue ocean, playing in the small waterpark and had the time of our lives. A couple of evenings we took a taxi to a small shopping mall nearby to eat, but otherwise we just relaxed at the hotel.

We managed to spend 5 days in RAK without getting bored, but since we had plans for visiting the new, amazing zoo in Dubai, we headed there for a few days before leaving for Norway. I will tell you more about that visit in a later post.

Besseggen – Walking on the Edge

Besseggen is a famous mountain ridge between the lakes Gjende and Bessvatnetin Jotunheimen Norway. Being from Norway myself, I must admit that I am shameful it took me this long to take the popular trail from Memurubu, over the edge and down to Gjendesheim. According to Wikipedia it takes 5-7 hours without rest stops, and we proudly completed in about 5, including a couple of stops.

We started off in beautiful sunshine, but when we reached the edge, it started to get foggy. We did, however, get to see the magnificent view from the top before the fog got to us, with the green colored Gjende lake (the color is due to glacier runoff containing clay) on one side and Bessvanetin on the other. 

On our way down, it we could hardly see a meter in front of us, but luckily the trail was well marked, so we did not got lost. Then it started to rain, then to hail and finally it started to snow, so you can safely say we got to experience all four seasons at once. 

An amazing trail I recommend to everyone and I am certainly doing it again someday (preferably in more favorable weather).