Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The End is Nigh

The season is nearing its end, and indeed in some places the snow has gone, or never even arrived. I have 3 weeks left until my last race, but up at Sjusjøen there is an insane amount of snow, so I won't be surprised if I keep skiing until June this year.
My plan had been to do the Birkebeiner on saturday, but as you probably know by now, it was cancelled. The Birke is a ski race that every skier just has to do. It's a race so full of tradition, a race that  will test the ability of any skier. Because both the elites and the "average Joe" can compete against one another it provides a unique opportunity of what the Norwegians call skiglede. Literally ski happiness.
This year there was very little happiness to be found. I got up at 4am after having had an awful nights sleep. I was meant to be the only one staying at my house that night. I went to bed at 9:30 as I knew i had to get up at 4. But at 11 I was woken up by the sound of someone in the house. I was 99% sure we were being burgled, so I jumped out of bed and sprung into fight mode. Fling back my bedroom door making karate type sounds, I was greeted by Thomas, my house mate, saying "hello, didn't mean to wake you." He had come back for the night, unplanned, and had been moving his bags in from the car.
After that I never really got back to sleep... I was still in fight mode. Just with the duvet and the sheets.
At 4am, I once again jumped out of bed and flung on my race kit before picking up my bag getting in the car and heading to Håkons Hall to take the bus to Rena and the start of the race.
I ate my breakfast on the bus. 8 slices of bread with peanut butter, 2 cargo loading jellies, 2 bananas and some energy juice. I was very definitely not going bonk and have no energy left for this race. I got to Rena, picked up my start number and payed 1200 kronner for it. By chance I bumped into fredrik as I came out of the race office. His mum had sorted out waking my skis for me. Fredrik tells me that every time she waxes he has amazing skis, so I had asked her to do mine for Birken. We headed for the shuttle busses, but got told the race was delayed an our and to head back to the race office to keep warm. This is when the rumours started to fly. Firstly that the race was canceled, and they only delayed it to keep people there and buying stuff at the coffee shot and ski shop. Then we bumped into a friend of Fredrik's from school. He was working for swix and told us he was 99% sure the race was cancelled. Nobody from swix, who run the spare pole and waxing service had been allowed out on the course and now there wasn't enough time to get them there in time for the delayed start.
The next rumour we heard was that the mens elite start went at the same time as the womens, and not 30min after. But seeing as the shuttle busses had been called off there was now several thousand people  waiting on very few shuttle busses. As me a fredrik were racing in the men elite class we pushed our way to the front of the bus queue and forced our way on the first shuttle bus when they started running again. Everybody got on. Maybe about 100 people on a 50 seater bus. Then we all got told to get off again. The race had been cancelled.
Fredrik, his brother Joakim and myself all decided to try and ski over to Lillehammer anyway. Their parents drove our kit bags round in the car. It worked out well, it was actually quite a nice day. Comparable to a "normal" day on cairngorm, alpine skiing. There was 5k or so on top of one of the mountains where it wasn't really fun to be there, but I wouldn't have said it was dangerous. We skied over half hard in 3:48. I did have a few stops but felt good most of the way.
Seeing as the race was canceled I've managed to recover much quicker and get back into a good training routine. Next on the cards for me is Norwegian Nationals teamsprint and 50k. The week after I'm going to do the 95k troll ski Marathon. I was once promoted as the longest 1 day international ski race. But I believe this year there was actually a 100k race in Oslo! I read somewhere that next year the troll ski will be 120k! So i'm happy to do it while it is still only 95k! "only"
I've managed to get my hands on some Telemark ski kit. So after troll ski i plan on utilising that, either up the road at the Hafjell alpine centre or maybe some back country touring. I'm looking forward to it. Although i've alpine skied a fair bit, ive not done much telemarking, so it will be a new challenge and a break from the norms of spring xc skiing.

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