Archive for June, 2011

Midnight Sun Marathon 2011: Adidas Mila

With my irregular shifts, it’s quite hard to work out regularly, unless you like going to the gym – which I don’t. And even the gym isn’t open in the middle of the night ;) I really wanted to get in a better shape though… so in the end, I decided to try running. And that same day (in early February), I entered myself for the “Adidas Mila” (a Norwegian mila (mile) is 10 km) during the Midnight Sun Marathon on 25 June. I thought it would be good to have a goal!

I had a podcast series on mp3 with music and instructions, at the end of 27 lessons the aim was to run for 30 minutes. The only thing I needed was a good pair of running shoes with spikes, which are easy to find in Tromsø. At first the running intervals were 2-3 minutes, which was quite a challenge for me then! I remember how proud I was when I first ran for 5 minutes :) I ran about 3 times a week, even when I was in Oslo for work. There were times when it was tough and I came home after each lesson extremely exhausted, thinking about quitting.. but fortunately things always got better after a while. At some point I bought a gps watch so I could keep track of distances and speed, which made it more fun for a geek like me :D. At the end of April I finished series 1, and was able to run for 30 minutes. I was quite slow though, running slightly less than 4km in 30 minutes while the podcast aimed for 5.

I started series 2 in May, another 27 lessons to get you from 5 to 10 km. I got about halfway through this series when the 10 km run was already approaching… so one afternoon last week I decided to just try and run 10km, to see if I was able to do it. I was! I wasn’t very fast, but I didn’t need to walk and I felt quite fine. Ready for the race!

The Adidas Mila started at 19:00, so I had to “wait around” all day, which was hard – it made me nervous. Here I am at the start, quite anxious…

Slightly nervous during the warmup, just before the start

There were two firebreathers providing entertainment at the start, but as I was standing quite far back I didn’t see any of this! All I noticed was some flame at some point and wondered what was going on. Good thing Paul took these great photos :)

Firebreathers spectacle in front of the start.. I didn't actually see/notice any of this as I was too far back! The firebreathers at the start

And off we went! I’ve been running on my own all these months, and it was strange to run among so many people now. I found it quite tough to keep my own pace and ignore all the others. After about 2 km, it got calmer and I was running with the same group of people for the rest of the race. It was great to reach the halfway point, have a sip of water and know I was on my way back! I was running faster than I normally do, and this got me in trouble eventually – I had to walk a few times to catch my breath. The supporters along the way were great though, cheering you on and making you smile :).

The start! The guy on the far right (in blue and yellow) won the race in just over 33 minutes... wow! Crowds at the finish

The last km seemed the longest one, but having the finish in sight helped a lot. I also managed to beat my time from earlier this week, and finished in 1h12min30sec. Not bad!! I’m very proud of what I achieved in those 5 months of running… where at first 3 minutes of running were an eternity, and here I am running for more than an hour :). I am still a very slow runner (I finished 476 out of the 524 female runners…) but hopefully that will improve with time. Running is quite addictive, and I won’t stop here!

Unfortunately the crowd didn't hang around for the slower runners :D Almost there! And very smiley after the finish... I did it!! In 1h12m30s

What’s next? There’s a Polar Night Half Marathon in early January, and Paul suggested I could run the half marathon by then… and that he might join me :) Hmm, I don’t know yet. It’s a great goal to work towards, but it requires a lot of training and I definitely have to become a bit faster. It’s still more than 6 months away though, so perhaps it’s doable? We’ll see! I might give it a go :) There’s also a 10km race during that event, so if it doesn’t work out I’ll enter that one.

Either way, I found a new hobby :) I love the freedom of being able to work out whenever, wherever. I’ve run on snow under the northern lights, at 1 in the morning in the midnight sun, in Tromsø, in Oslo, in Helsinki… and enjoying my new level of fitness :)

Summer in Northern Norway

After a very rainy and cold period, we were in for a nice surprise. SUMMER!!! With *real* summer temperatures: 23 degrees here in Tromsø. Ohhhh how nice :D I tried to make the most of it in between shifts. Yesterday I was able to leave work a bit earlier, and we drove to Sommarøy to have a bbq on the beach. We were meeting a few colleagues of Paul, which was a bit challenging as the mobile network was down so we had to try and guess where they would be… but who cares with views like this? :)

Fjord reflections Sandneshamn, an idyllic beach on the way to Sommarøy

We had a very nice bbq in the sunshine (our second one in two days :D). I had borrowed a canoe from work, which was the kind you have to put together yourself. I had been warned it was difficult, but gjeezzzzz… we spent several hours trying to put it together and in the end had to give up. So frustrating when the view is like this and you have a half assembled canoe on the beach…

The midnight sun seen from a beach near Sommarøy

Oh well, the trip was still worth it, absolutely beautiful out there! Now I’m back at work, even though it’s a bank holiday weekend for most people. Not fair, especially with this weather ;) But I can’t complain, I have 5 days off next week and we’re going on a nice trip :) More later!

Wet Sunday

Today we were invited for a boat trip in a beautiful wooden boat, large enough to fit 6 people and 2 dogs and a lot of fishing gear… It wasn’t the ideal day though, the rain came pouring down and we didn’t catch anything except one cod too small too keep. Oh well, afterwards we sat in the kitchen by the fire with a warm mug of tea, and home made cookies, cake and bread… :)

6 people + 2 dogs in one boat, all very wet

Oh Summer, where art thou? :P

Midnight Sun Eclipse

Yesterday we had quite a special show in Tromsø: an eclipse of the midnight sun! For a while, it looked like clouds would spoil the show though. Even an hour before it started, I was contemplating staying at home as it looked hopeless. But we decided to try our luck, and go up the cable car anyway. Eelke and Roy joined us, and we brought a picknick blanket, warm drinks and chocolate. When we got to the top of the cable car, it was actually raining… Not long after some sunbeams starting to appear, and we got a bit more optimistic. Within half an hour, the sky cleared up more than enough to be able to watch the eclipse, how lucky!!

20 minutes before the eclipse started, some beams of sunlight appeared, and we thought we *might* be able to get a glimpse 5 minutes later, the sky was clearing very fast! We started to get excited :)

Paul had brought his welding helmet to be able to look at the sun – it worked brilliantly! I brought a dvd which also worked fine.

Paul had brought his welding helmet to be able to look at the sun :D Eelke and Roy looking at their pictures

At 22:45 we noticed a small “bite” out of the sun, which quickly grew bigger as the moon moved in front of the sun. It’s quite hard to get good photos, you have to underexpose so much that you can’t have much foreground in the images. I also tried taking a photo through the welding helmet, which worked quite well!

You have to underexpose a LOT to get photos of the sun, but here you can clearly see the moon moving before the sun The view through Paul's welding helmet - excellent!

At 23:30, the eclipse was at its maximum. With the naked eye, it was hard to see anything. You could kind of notice – out of the corner of your eye – that a patch of the sun was missing, but I didn’t notice it got darker. The sun is of course quite low around midnight and the light is very soft and yellow anyway. The photo on the left (below) is very unrealistic, with a halo caused by my lens or the filter, and a “second” sun upside down underneath the sun – but I think it made quite a spectacular image :D

Close to the maximum of the eclipse, around 23:30 I think the filter on my lens was causing this halo, and a funny small sun reflection appeared underneath the sun. This is not what it looked like to our eyes, but I love this strange photo

Just before midnight, the southbound Hurtigruten arrives in Tromsø. They must have had a nice view too :)

The southbound Hurtigruten arriving in Tromsø The Hurtigruten arriving to the town centre

There were lots of people watching the eclipse, both locals and tourists. There were actually quite a lot of Dutch people up there, and one older couple started talking to us. They were on a long holiday in Norway and had just been to the North Cape. They offered to take our photo, it turned out really nice :)

The four of us, photo taken by some friendly Dutch tourists :)

The cable car stayed open until 2:00, an hour longer than usual. We spent a pleasant hour sitting in the cafe enjoying the view with a warm drink. What a night! :D