Norseman Xtreme Crew Race 2008.
August 30, Eidfjord, Norway.
As I am writing this I am still baffled that I made it to the top and am now wearing the coveted Black Finisher shirt! With very little training this past year, I was just wanting to see how far I would be able to go. But with my great Support and some determintaion, I made it to the top for the 4th time :-)
It is 4 o`clock in the morning and we are ready to jump in to the cold water, which we guess is around 14 degrees Celsius (57,2 F). This year it is just Hårek and Rolf who join me in the Crew Race. We decided to start at different times, so that we would get out of the water at similar times. This way we could cycle some of the way together making it easier for the Support which were only in 2 cars this year. I had a brand new Support this year: Irene, Solveig, end her daughter Trude. They would prove to be a great Support for me.
Rolf gets in at exactly 4:00. I get in 5 minutes later, then Hårek at about 4:20. I climb down the rocky bank and feel my way to the water. It is pitch black outside. I find the water, and it is COLD! When my face gets in it feels like ice water. But I start my watch and head out. We stay inside the dock area, swimming back and forth, for security reasons. There are no canoes watching out for us. I can hear Hårek and Rolf swimming as we pass each other, but I cannot see them until they are 1 meter from me. Quite surreal. One lap back and forth is exactly 500 meters, and I manage to keep the same pace for each lap, about 10 minutes. As long as I keep moving I am fine, but as soon as I stop to check my watch, I start getting cold. So I keep moving.
After 1.20 I get out of the cold water and climb up the rocky bank.
It is still dark out, but the temperature seems warm so I do not put on a lot of clothing.
This will prove to be a bad idea.
The climb up Måbødalen is a steady 8% climb, and is always difficult to know how to dress. I notice the air is quite cold and my feet are feeling it. By the time I get to Dyranut (36 km / 22,3 miles) my feet are ice cold and I have to get inside to warm up.
I got incredible help from Kari, the owner of the restaurant, who gave me some "energy" cake, put me in front of the fire place and helped me warm up my feet.
I cycled up to Dyranut in 2.06 which is the same time as last year.
But this year I was inside for 20 minutes warming up. Hårek and Rolf reach Dyranut as I get ready to cycle on. My 20 minute lead is gone. But I can feel my toes at least.
As I cycle towards Geilo (90 km / 56 miles) I am getting tired and sleepy. This is way too early in the race to get tired and I start thinking about throwing in the towel. I stop halfway to Geilo. I get some gel and coffee from Bjarne Boge (Support for H & R) and also get some encouraging words. I cycle on and join H & R again. As we near Geilo we are met by Tom Remman, the 2008 2nd place winner. He wanted to join us for a while during the cycle, and that was pretty cool.
I get to Geilo and make a quick stop getting some salty meats from my Support. H&R cycle on with Tom and I am by myself again. No worries because I am climbing the hills at a very slow pace this year. But I am pacing myself and taking it slow. At this point the sun is coming out, the view is great, and I am taking this as a nice bike ride, fully aware that I might have to quit before T2.
I stop at the next 3 tops (Kikut, Skurdalsåsen and Vasstulan) where my Support eagerly await with food and necessary clothing. I even got some chicken wings, which proved to be incredibly delicious and a great alternative to the boring energy bars. I am eating alot more this year, and a more variety of foods instead of just energy bars. I am feeling better.
By the time I reach the start of Imingfjell climb, the final and longest climb, the sun is warm and I need to get rid of some of my extra clothes. I make it to the top of Imingfjell and put some more clothes on now for the final long descent towards T2. My Support is impressed by my improvement and say I am the same distance behind H&R. I cant beleive it.
It is still an hour ride from here, and the temperature up here is colder. There is a slight tail wind this year on the top part of the mountain. The long windy road down towards T2 is very steep and difficult to ride. Just holding on to the handle bars is difficult enough. And I still remember my first Norseman 2003, where I almost fell asleep during this descent. But now I am feeling great.
I roll into T2 feeling pretty good. Much better than previous years. I am so glad to be able to get off the bike.
My cycle time is 8.42 (about 40 minutes slower than last year). H&R are still only 22 minutes ahead of me and we have, surprisingly, kept the same speed. For the first time I actually feel like I have eaten enough food and I do not feel tired or sleepy. But I inhale this Recovery drink they give me that has the consistency of milk, and looks blue because of the container. My Support thought Id never drink it, but it was so much better than the acidic energy drinks Ive been drinking all day.
I get into my "Ironman run speed" and know that I need to keep this all the way in to Rjukan which is 25 km (15,5 miles) away. Solveig joins me in the run and keeps me company all the way to Rjukan. She keeps forcing me to eat and drink... something I needed. At the 12 km mark I clocked 1:16 (2 minutes faster than last year).
I reach Rjukan in 2 hours 55 minutes (12 minutes faster than last year) and get ready to tackle Zombie Hill. I have never been able to run this part and get into a steady fast walk. For the first time ever I am not in a zombie state. A strange new feeling. I have been getting reports from the front and hear that I am now only 11 minutes behind H&R, who are walking alot. But my main concern now is to reach the cut-off point before the 15 hour 15 minute cut-off time.
At the 32 km cut-off point I make it in 14.49! A great feeling! (only 8 minutes slower than last year). I cant beleive it. I need a little rest though and fuel up with some salty meats before "running" the remainder 5 km towards Stavsro.
I make it to Stavsro, still feeling pretty good. My support and I get dressed for the mountain with warmer clothing. After a quite long 15 minute break here we go through the gate, leaving the tarmac behind and into the rocky cruel terrain up the final 4,5 km to the top. Irene and Solveig join me up the mountain.
It is much warmer than previous years making the climb easier. The sun is slowly setting and the view is great.
The mood in my group is good and my support is so happy that I made it out of the slump I was feeling early in the race. As we reach closer to the top it is getting darker and colder.
We meet Hårek who is already heading back down. He finished in 16.30 and was todays winner. I am still feeling good and my only goal now is to finish under 18 hours. I manage to kick up the pace a bit as I just want to finish and sit down. The house on top looks so warm and nice, and slowly getting closer.
Finally! I just make it in 17.52!
Rolf and Bjarne, (plus Knut who did the cycle leg) is waiting for us in the cabin. Rolf made it in 16.55 which is a new personal best for him (Great job!). After we get some food in us and compare our stories we get ready to climb back down the mountain. Gaustatoppen is 1883 meters (6177 feet) above water.
It is now pitch black out and we are all wearing extra clothing and headlights. We start at 10:30 pm and will not reach Stavsro until about 12:30 am. The climb down seems to take forever, and going down is not exactly easier than up.
It has been a very long day and we are so ready to get into our rooms.
Bjarne brings out a six-pack of beer, after a quick shower, and we sit and talk for a while, laughing about the days events before finally falling asleep. The next day we have a great breakfast, before the ceremony where all 3 of us get the Black Finisher shirts. What a great feeling! This is my 4th Finisher Shirt... which only means that I now have to do one more to get the "5-Time Finisher Shirt" :-))
Time to get training again.
I have to give a special thanks to my Support: Solveig, Irene and Trude who spent all day making sure I was eating right and properly clothed. At the same time they were taking pictures and filming. They were such an energetic and fun group that made this 4th Norseman even remotely possible for me. Also, Bjarne, who was Hårek and Rolfs Support, gave me lots of support as well. Thank you all!!
My finish time is only 20 minutes slower than last year. I used up 20 minutes in Dyranut getting my feet warm, plus 15 minutes in Stavsro getting ready for the mountain climb. My actual cycling time on the computer is 7.45 which means I spent 1 hour total on my many stops.
Rolf, me and Hårek in our Black Finishers 2008!!!
Only 1 more and I can get the cool "5 Time Finisher shirt"!
Finish time 2008: 17:52:40
My times from 2007 were quite similar:
Finish time 2007: 17:32:30
I still feel I can finish the Norseman in under 15 hours, and with this years experience, and the discovery of food, I need to get into a strict training regime for my 5th Norseman.
Only time will tell...
Link to www.nxtri.com