Thursday, June 23, 2005

This is what you get...

Back now. Here's how it went:

After all I'd heard and seen about Tromso being two wooden huts and a runway in the snow, it turned out to be a fair sized town clinging to a well-forested rock, in the middle of a fjord. And it was sunny - so much for the coats, thermal tights and gloves that I'd packed. Luckily I bought some expensive sunglasses out there, guaranteeing that it would be overcast on race day / night.

24 hour sun is very odd indeed. After a few days we got used to it being perpetually half-four in the afternoon, but it was hard to sleep - mainly because we were in a room above the noisiest street in tromso - I think it was the test track for the local bikers - and if we shut the window, we broiled in an atmosphere redolent of sweaty feet and athletic clothing. But never mind.

The actual race was great - the whole town seemed to come out and cheer us on, and the landscape was awesome - great views across the fjord to the snowy mountains, and no rain or wind. For the first half I just trotted along at a steady 7.5 mph, thinking I could carry on at this rate forever. Organisers had other plans. For the second half, we ran back into the town of Tromso, then down to the southernmost tip of the island and back up round the coast to the airport. It was about the time that I rounded the bottom of the island and realised quite how much further I still had to go that I started to bonk.

Plus, they'd cruelly scheduled the half marathon over the second half of the course, and let them off two hours after we went. Thus all of a sudden, having spent the first half overtaking at least one person a kilometre, all these Norweigan freaks in lycra were storming past me. My mind started to go - by about 10k from the end I was feeling like I was going to burst in tears or jump in the lake at any moment, a feeling unimproved when my friend Nick stormed past on his half marathon. Finally, though, it got to one kilometre from the end and a lanky bloke I'd overtaken 14 k before tried to go past me. One last surge of ego and adrenalin and I sprinted past him down to the line. 3:44:48, and 11th in my age category. And no, I don't know how many people were in the category.

Chafed: yup. Better not talk about that. Couldn't walk downstairs without looking like an OAP for two days afterwards. And think I might have sprained my wrist carrying a bag full of cold weather gear back through Heathrow on Tuesday. Otherwise feeling not so bad - it's strange having time in the evenings to do things apart from training...


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