The Sun Returns – and Skiing Prevails!

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The past weeks since the last post can only be described by one thing: skiing. After the Røros adventure in the freeeezing temperatures, I sadly became sick – a cold which is still sitting in my lungs and nose much to my dismay. Fortunately, it was not enough to hinder training (for better or for worse) so things have not stopped up. While the school I work at had winter break, I headed to Voss to visit Øistein. During the week, I enjoyed gorgeous views of the mountains and tried to work on my thesis while Øistein was at his internship at the physical therapy section of the Voss hospital. In the afternoons we would go skiing, if possible (I was still recovering). It was beautiful and very relaxing! Eating good food and enjoying life.

The second weekend and last day I was in Voss we did a ski race called the Ørnarrennet which was a appx 40k race about 25min up in the mountains from Voss. Despite gorgeous weather most of the week, just when race weekend came, the weather turned nasty. Above freezing temps, with precipitation. On top of that, the race led into the mountains which meant that the climate in the middle of the race would be different from the ends. All of this, for a non skier, would seem irrelevant unless you understand how annoying it is to put on kick wax for this kind of temperature. We stupidly went with klister for a base, which was great for the bottom, but which after 5k iced up (meaning that snow and ice gather under your kick zone, making it impossible to glide). In Norwegian this is called KLABBER which adequately describes the irritating nature of the phenomenon. In any case, I wasn’t feeling good after 10 days of not training due to illness, but re-waxing several times during the race, the fog making it impossible to see, the wintery-mix in my eyes, and the HARD course made the race one of the worst in my life. Nonetheless, we managed to finish just in time to get placed in an earlier wave in the Birkebeiner, saving us some tracks before the last thousands of people go.

Meanwhile, while we were worrying about our own silly races, the World Championships were going in Oslo. This was a 2 week event, through which I think my concentration on school decreased by at least 1.5 hours a day. WHAT EXCITEMENT! I am already cross-country skiing nerd, but this was something else. The champs were in Oslo and the Norwegians were WINNING everything! So, of course, Norway – being the ultimate ski nation – was going WILD. Including me. I have thought about writing an entire post about my reflections on the amazing character of elite xc ski athletes, and maybe I will do this soon, but in the mean time I should focus on writing my master thesis. In short, I will say I am so inspired by Marit Bjørgen, Therese Johaug, yes… Petter Northug, but mostly Anchorages own Kikkan Randall. I think that these athletes teach us something about determination, discipline, and never giving up. I am so impressed by the ability to be mentally and physically ready at the exact moment – and in Kikkans case, when it doesn’t go as planned, to try to stay positive. In any case, it was an exciting time: cheering with friends from the online-tv viewing of the races, yelling, discussing Petter Northug’s antics, crying, laughing…. just all around awesome.

When the world champs ended, it was an empty hole that could only be filled by getting prepped for the Birkebeiner! That was now 10 days ago, and in those last 10 days I have tried to train relatively focused, but trying to not push it as my illness still really hasn’t gone away. This past week has been GORGEOUSLY sunny here in Trondheim, reminding me of spring skiing at home. Unforunately, I don’t quite have the Chugach access here… but life is still good. I have had some beautiful skis that make me appreciate the sun, snow, and health every minute. At work, it is particularly nice to let the kids out and play in the sun and be semi-warm… visions of January playtimes where it was dark when we went outside at 3.30 and freezing temps make us all shiver and WORSHIP the sun. Ah, spring.

While I write this, though, I knock on wood as the Birkebeiner, the big ski race, is coming up this Saturday the 19th and my fingers hurt from crossing them so much for nice weather. I can deal with above freezing temps and klister, as long as there isn’t any rain and snow coming down! So far, the forecast looks good (do I dare say it?) and I am preparing to head down to the race on Thursday evening. I hope my coughing and runny nose doesn’t keep me from having FUN! I think it will be a great time regardless of my result, so I am hoping for the best. More to come after the race!

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