Monday, August 03, 2009

my 5th norseman xtreme!

August 1, 2009.
Norseman Xtreme Triathlon is an Iron-distance triathlon that started in 2003. Distances are 1800 meters (2,36 miles) swim, 180 km (112 miles) cycle, and 42,2 km (26,2 miles) marathon run.

This was my 5th Norseman, and if I made the cut-off time limits I would also secure the green “5-time Finisher” jersey. This was my main goal!

The Crew Race is held for the people organizing the race so that we can also have a chance at competing. This time we held it 1 week before the official Norseman. We were 9 people this year.

So at 4:30 am we are standing on the banks of Eidfjord, ready for our 3,8 km swim. The temperature is cold as the sun is just barely peeking out from the huge mountains surrounding us. The temperature in the water is only 15 degrees Celsius (59 F).

We jump in and start swimming along the shoreline, in towards T1. There is little wind and the water is calm, but really cold. By the time I reach the end, my hands are starting to feel it and I`m having a difficult time keeping warm. Clive is really fast and was way ahead of us from the start. I swam with Dorthe and Geir F about halfway, but then they started to pull away. But I kept a nice pace and did not lose sight of them. Clive swam in 1:04 – I came in 10 minutes later. Swim - 1:14. This was 6 minutes faster than last year so I was pleased.

In T1 I was having problems getting warm (I am told I need to get some more body fat). I was shaking all over and it was actually kinda funny as I was clumsily trying to get out of my wetsuit and into my cycling gear. This year I was prepared for a cold bike ride so I put on wool socks, a buff under my helmet, long gloves, and a wind proof jacket. After 15 minutes in T1 (extremely long time), I finally jumped on my bike and was on my way.

The first 40 km is straight uphill, with parts of the climb at 7% grade. It is a long and windy steep road that leads us up a beautiful mountain with a huge waterfall halfway up. I passed Dorthe on the way up. Tim and Marit were my support this year and would meet me at certain designated points to fill me up with food and drinks. The first stop was at the top of the 40 km climb, Dyranut.

I made it here in 2 hours. I grabbed a new bottle and a sandwich with salty cured meats. Then it was off towards Geilo, which is the halfway point. I got another sandwich here and headed off towards the next 4 climbs. The first 3 climbs are about 3-4 km each with about 5-6% grade. At each top I would get some more food/drink. I have learned the hard way, from previous years, that not eating is detrimental.

The weather was slowly getting warmer and I could switch to short gloves and peel off one of the 2 wind jackets. I was getting warm in the climbs, but then on top and in the downhills I would get cold again. But my pace was steady even though I was hoping to go slightly faster.

After these 3 “short” climbs came the 4th and final climb, Imingfjell. This one is 8 km long with the same grade as the others. It is long and winding and you never really know if you are in the last turn or if there is one more. I guess I was having problems with my energy because it was going much slower than expected, and Tim could also tell that I was having more problems than Clive who was now 1 hour ahead of me.

Finally I was on top of Imingfjell. I got some much needed Coke and salty meats from Dag and Kalle. They were supporting Line, who was only about 5-10 minutes behind me. So it was really nice of them to be helping me as well.

The last part of the cycling was not going to be easy. The top of the mountain is long and flat and totally unprotected from the winds, which I was now getting head on. It was a cold head wind. There is a final, long downhill, which is so steep that you have to really grab on to the handle bars so not to lose control.

My cycling time would be 8 hours and 27 minutes. I was SO ready to get off the bike and start running.

It was now sunny and warm, so time to peel off all my cycling clothes and put on some running shorts. But I spent about 12 minutes in T2 which is again a really long time. But I felt the need to compose myself and get some much needed nourishment, plus some helpful words from Marit who was waiting for me.

The first 25 km of the run is fairly flat and on tarmac. I always force myself to keep running here because I know what is coming up… more climbs. I hear that I am still 1 hour behind Clive, so at least he has not pulled away even more. When I get to Rjukan, at 25 km, I catch up to 2 other guys, Rolf and Geir H, and they are walking. They have realized that they will not be able to make the cut-off time limit at the 32 km mark, so they are going for the White jersey. But they feel that I still have a chance and want to help me by walking with me. We are now in “Zombie Hill”. From here it is straight up in a winding unforgiving road that seems never-ending.

When we start doing the math (which is difficult enough at this point) Rolf warns me that this pace will not be fast enough for me. The thought of losing not only the Black jersey but the 5-Time jersey makes me dig even deeper and I manage to increase my speed to a slow “jog”. I make it up to the 32km mark in 14 hours 28 minutes and 30 seconds. This is 2,5 minutes before the cut-off time!

I now have 1 hour to make it to the next cut-off time which is at the 37 km point. I continue to run, which is the very first time ever in this race that I have been able to do that. Marit is now on a bike beside me keeping me company, although I am not the most sociable person right now. I am only concentrating on one thing… the green 5-time jersey. I manage to get there in about 41 minutes and have now secured the Black jersey! I can finally smile and give Marit a nice hug.

But my day is not over yet. I still have the last 4,7 km left which is a rocky winding path up towards the top of Gaustatoppen mountain. Wikipedia information. It has an elevation of 1,883 metres (6,178 ft) and the weather can be brutal. I spend a lot of time getting ready for the mountain. A short bathroom break, plus changing into warmer clothing, including gloves and winter-woolen hat “beanie”.

It is required to wear a backpack with a change of clothing, plus having a traveling companion up the mountain for safety reasons. Marit is still by my side following me up the path. It is a brutal path consisting of big rocks and each step must be planned so not to twist your ancle.

I am in a good mood but really tired. I have to stop a few times to catch my breath and get some food and drink in me. The tower at the top is constantly teasing me as it is visible, but so far away. I meet Geir F on his way down. He made it in 14:34 and was todays winner. About an hour later I meet Clive and Tim who were also on their way down. Clive finished in 16:36. A while later I finally made it to the top! The 4,7 km took me 2 hours to climb. My total run time was 7:23.

My time for today was 17:33:03!

I was just so pleased to have earned the Black jersey and also the Green colored 5-Time Finisher jersey. It is only given out to the ones who have won the Black jersey 5 times, and there are only 5 other guys who have this!

I have to thank Tim and Marit who drove all day, making sure that both Clive and I were fed and clothed during this long day. In addition, Dag and Kalle helped me several times as well. There is such a comradery in this sport that is so unique.

I will now be wearing my lovely green 5-Time Finisher jersey… planning my next Ironman adventure.

Link to the Norseman Xtreme Triathlon site with a short report from the Crew Race.

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