Woah, two posts in one day! I got my camera back, so now I can post the photo filled version of events.
So Lisa and I rolled into Tromso on the night before the race at about midnight. Under the false impression that our hotel had an airport shuttle, we dilly dallied and ended up last in the taxi line. There was a mild state of nervousness as we were the only ones at the airport... at all. And there were no taxis waiting. But one came around and we hopped in, checked into our outrageously expensive hotel. Pete (who ran the WWR with us back in 2006) said that about 9 years ago, he rolled into Tromso without any hotel plans and happened to show up on the night of the Midnight Sun Marathon when there is absolutely nothing and slept on a park bench. Lisa and I seriously considered this option. For over $300 a night we got a small room that was totally nothing special with no breakfast! Oh Norway. You are not a place for the thrifty.
Anyway, we checked in, but weren't tired, so we went to the pub next store and ordered ten dollar beer and wine (seriously!) and listened to some dude play Stairway to Heaven. We needed some alcohol to make our bodies think it was night time since it was light out this whole time. At about 1:30 we noticed it was actually getting lighter out, so we decided to take a stroll down to the water to watch the sun rise.So one reason to love Norway... Everyone drives station wagons! I love my station wagon. Norwegians are totally my peeps. Seriously, I have never seen such a station wagon concentration in my life.We eventually wandered back to our hotel and fell asleep at about 3am. With the jet lag, I managed to sleep in until 11am, after which we got motivated, picked up our packets, ate an unimpressive lunch (which cost like $30) and then went back to the hotel and took naps. I love naps! Afterwards we wandered down to this cafe that had delectable cakes for our pre-race carb loading. Yum! During this time it started to rain. This was not looking good. Running in the rain when it is only 50 degrees out is not exactly fun. But miraculously it cleared up right as the marathon started at 8:30pm. Lisa and I headed up to watch the start, then we went back and got ready. Seriously, it was really weird to get ready to do a long run at 10:30 at night. We headed to the start where everyone was doing warm up aerobics to the Ghostbusters theme. We mocked them for a while like we were too cool for that shiznit, but it was only a matter of time before we were dancing around with a bunch of Norwegians and letting out the nervous energy.At 10:30, we were off! The first song on my ipod was fittingly Abba. Yeah, they are Swedes but whatever. The weather was beautiful. Perfect temps. And a great course. While Tromso is near the mountains, the entire race was along the ocean, so the course was flat. It was superpretty! I did drop my (new) camera once, but it survived.
I wasn't really planning on trying to PR at this race, but of course, it is always a possibility. My PR pace is 10:14 and I decided that running 10:15 miles should be doable, since that is in my "conversational pace" zone. The first half we were pretty much on that pace. Then the second half we actually started picking it up. If a course could possibly be downhill both ways, this one was. I swear on the way out (it was an out and back) that I felt like we were running downhill and I was worried about the return. But then on the way back, I felt like we were still running downhill. Who knows! Until about Mile 10. Then the rollers back into town started. And I hit the wall pretty hard. This is probably where running more than once a week would have come in handy. I sent Lisa off ahead and trudged along. At about Mile 8, I was thinking "there is no way I can't PR this!" From Miles 10-13 I lost a lot of the spare time I had. I actually couldn't remember my PR time exactly, just that it began with 2:13. I was cutting it close and I sort of gave up on that goal. As I entered town, despite it being almost 1am, the Norwegians were still out cheering loudly. They totally rocked. Finally I saw the end in the distance and it said 2:13:something so I sprinted with all my remaining might so I could come in under 2:14 and I made it in 2:13:55. When I got to check the internet for my Phoenix time, it turned out it was 2:13:57. PR baby! Including picture taking time! I crossed the finish line and got some water and then Lisa and I got some beer, which we sadly learned was non-alcoholic (c'mon!)
I probably should stop here as this is long enough and the rest of the week involved no running but moderation has never been my strong suit.
So the rest of the trip in a nutshell. We went to the Polaris museum were we saw a movie about Svalbard, which I didn't realize was a real place and not some fictional land of talking polar bears.
They also had an aquarium and I took many bad pictures of the seals.
We also took a cable car up a mountain on the mainland and then hiked up even further, probably destroying fragile Arctic tundra in the process. And then we got a nice lookout over the island where Tromso is and the other islands.
My last excursion in Tromso was to the Mack Brewery, the northernmost brewery in the world apparently! A nice Norwegian named Stigert led us around. We had to wear lab coaty things and shower caps. It brought back my days of working in a geochem clean lab. But once we entered the room where the beer cans were swirling about, we immediately felt like Laverne and Shirley. In fact, I am pretty sure we were singing the theme song for the rest of the tour. We just needed a glove to put on one of the cans.
With that, I left Lisa to return home and she went on to be a total badass on the Hurtigruten (I lurve saying that. In fact I said it way more than necessary the entire week. And I always said it in a Swedish chef accent. Again, I know that is Swedish, not Norwegian, but it's all the same).
I put the rest of the photos on Flickr for anyone who cares.
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