Starting to write this post on a very lazy Monday morning, still with a feeling of unbelieve. This weekend was the highlight of the year. My half marathon at the North Pole, Svalberd to be precise.
I was filled with selfdoubt weeks prior to the race. My preparation was far from ideal. I got ill two times and I got injured two times. My long runs were all slow and not as far as supposed to due to heat. My body wasn’t dealing with the summer temperatures properly. Also this year I have gotten really insecure about my performances because of my asthma. I really need to get of that, maybe I can write post about selfdoubt later. It’s interesting why we all have it more or less, but we don’t have to have it. Really!
But back to the main topic. My adventure at 78 degrees north. It’s called Svalberd, Spitsbergen, it’s also basically the North Pole. The trip was not all running. It was also being a tourist and explore.
As soon as we landed I got mesmerized by the beautiful nature. Dark mountains with the tops covered in snow, the cold clear sea surrounding the islands, it looked out of this world. Like we landed on another planet. I’m trying to describe it, but I just can’t actually.
The same day we arrived, I went on a husky ride. People who know me, know I just adore dogs. Petting dogs just make me happy. I can’t help it. We don’t deserve dogs. We went up in the mountains where there was still snow. The dogs doing what they were born to do. You could see they were having a blast. Me just sitting on the sled gliding through the snow. The contrast couldn’t be bigger than home with 30 degrees Celsius. Afterwards we were told to definitely cuddle the dogs to let them know they did a good job. You can’t make me happier!
Saturday raceday!!! Nerves in full effect. You don’t want to know how often I went to the toilet. I was so nervous. Not sure how it would feel. I had to tell myself to enjoy every second of it. The start was at 11:30. Getting to the start I noticed it was a bit colder than earlier that morning.
Before I knew it we were off! Didn’t turn my garmin on yet, so the first meters of was a bit distracted. But I ran anyway. First kilometer I had a dry throat, because of my asthma meds. But after that it felt good. For the first time in weeks. My lungs felt good, my legs felt strong and I was enjoying the view. Before I knew it I ran the first 5k.
I couldn’t get over the fact it’s so beautiful out there. I was amazed over and over again. Next part was long way right along the water for a few kilometers and then back again to the village. Most of it on a trail road. Another woman was running in front of me and just could keep up with her. She was my pacer for quite some while. I felt strong and fast and just felt so good!
It started to rain a bit and it felt definitely more windy and a lot colder. My felt more heavier and heavier. I lost my pacer. And my pace got slower and slower. My upper legs weren’t cramped, but they hurt as hell. As if I just finished a kick boxing match.
The last part started at the airport. A U-turn and up it went. It was up an mine road with little annoying rocks. So you had to be careful not to sprain you ankles. And my legs started to hurt even more and more. Going uphill was a hell. I had to walk a bunch of bits at that moment. But still enjoying the view.
Luckily the last few hundred meters it went a bit downhill and finally a normal road. My God! Was I glad to cross that finish line. It was hard, difficult, rough, cold, painful, but it was also beautiful and so rewarding. I worked my ass off for this. Even though the preparation didn’t go as I wanted. I didn’t run my best time, but it wasn’t as slow as I expected. First I felt a bit bummed that I totally crashed the last 6 kilometres, but I decided to let that go. I gave it my all and I can be very proud of that! And boy, I ran on the freaking North Pole!
I don’t want to talk about Sunday, because I got so seasick on a boat trip with puke and all. And we had to go home already. So nah.
Usually I’m solo traveler and arranging my own stuff and minding my own business. I loved this sort group trip. It already started with the flight. An entire plane just for us and a direct flight to Longyearbyern. That’s quite unique and saves a lot of time. Hotels, a unique pasta party in a big tent at Camp Barentz, a luxurious dinner after the race with a model ceremony for all runners.
What can I say. Adventures are priceless. And this was definitely once in a lifetime adventure, I loved every second of it.