Monday, July 2, 2012

Hiking in Sarek, Sweden

It has been a while since I put anything out here and it is due to a trip to England on work and also preparing for my hike to Sarek starting tomorrow. In England I went for a run... Guess what, it rained... The mental pressure was quite strong to make myself get out in the cold rain with the Stockholm Marathon still fresh in memory.

One of the things I upgraded this year in my equipment is the backpack. I have had my eyes on a Arc'teryx Nozone 75 for a while but after some serious consideration and handling it and other backpacks in the store I ended up getting a Bora 95 (same brand). I want much storage space so that I can fit all my gear, present and future, in it. My thinking is that when on mount Elbruz it must be much better to have as little as possible on the outside. When things get extreem you need to be able to handle all your gear easily and swiftly.

After the hike I will be able to write more of an evaluation and also hints or thoughts on what to think of when selecting your backpack. Why did I choose this Bora 95 and not the Nozone 75 (apart from how big it is)? Why did not my old backpack work? I will write about such thoughts later on.

Presently I am having a last slow morning, having a brew, poking about with the gear and so on. The gear is spread out so that I can easily get an overview and the last of the potato slices (chips) are drying in the owen. Yes, drying your own food is very good!
It is easily done with a bit of foil that you corrugate and put the potato slices on. Into the owen at about 50C for a few hours and its all done and ready. You can dry stuff like carrots, apples and basically anything you would like to eat on your hike. The dry food you buy in the stores tend to not taste so much and not good and having your own dry bits of food to add to it makes a whole lot of difference.

The weather forecast looks promising and have been turning for the better steadily for every day closer to the trip and I am glad for that. Just two weeks back there where quite a few heavy avalanches in the area. Most of the hiking will be above 900m (2700ft) and the ground will be covered in snow. It will also be quite exciting to see how fast we can progress since the creaks and small streams will be quite busy with all the snow melting.

That is it for now, I hope I get back with a whole bunch of nice pictures and that I can share some with you. If all goes well I may have all the material I need to complete my book and I will start selecting the pictures for it and also work on actually writing the texts I have planned for it. And yes, you guessed correctly, the theme of the book is hiking!

You will also be able to follow me and my friend on google maps if you are interested (we use Spot), just follow this link: Toby & Harald in Sarek

Take care out there!

Regards, Toby

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Post Marathon 2

Ok, finally got around to fix the picture and settle down to sort out some thought. Or rather, it has actually taken a while to let the feelings from last weekend sink in. As I said before, running the Stockholm Marathon is the best thing I ever did in my life and I will try and formulate my thoughts and feelings in this post. Later on I will tell you how I have prepared for the Marathon and hopefully some of you readers will get inspired and find new or alternative ways for preparation.

The morning started out good, woke up early and ready to go but looking out the weather had turned for the worse. The day before the forecast said 12 degrees celcius but Saturday got us 4 degrees and strong wind and a very persistent rain. I worried about my clothing for the day since I had stayed with a friend over night to not have the stress of getting my number bib before the race etc. I dressed in long legged running pants, a tight tank top and over that a very thin running wind jacket. Luckily I hade a pair of leather gloves and add to it a cap to try and keep some warmth from not escaping through my head since that is one of the largest areas where we humans leak warmth. I steeled myself and simply descided to not allow some rain and cold to ruin my dream.

The arrangements at the starting area was awesome, there was a place to hand in your valuables and another place to put your bag with extra clothing. You also got a plastic bag for protection against water when you picked up your number bib. And then finally it was time to head for start! The rain was pouring down but we runners where in good mood in spite of it! I managed to get myself to the time holders for 3h45min and figured I could zig zag my way forward once the race started. Then came countdown and the nerves... 10 .. 9 .. and GO!

I had descided to run as if my heal tendon would hold and that I could complete the race at my target time and the evaluate as I ran. Good for me, I did not feel anything and I was quite surprised after the first few kilometers. So I just kept going and found my own pace. I did not find it very crowded either and every runner could quite fast find their own pace. It was a little bit jammed the first two kilometers but the base pace was really good so it mattered little. When we came up on having run half the race I was very happy and had the wind (up to 18m/s) slightly from my back and thoughts like 'I am doing it, I live my dream... I can do it!' cirkled through my head and I was actually very emotional. The we turned up agains the wind! Wow, it was not easy to be positive and it took quite a bit of effort to keep focus on the running and the technique and then after the 1,2km agains the strong wind I had to stop briefly... It was a well thought through descision since it balanced from not stopping to let go of some water or risk that giving me stomach ache. The risk was for my legs to cramp up and my right calf actually did contract a bit and it took a few kilometers to convince it that I was in charge!

After about 25km the cold weather started to affect my muscles (as well as other runners I learned after the race talking to quite a few of them) and made them stiff. Interesting for me is that I did not get stiff from heavy exercise at all during the race! That is a very good proof that I did prepare in a good way for this race. Comming in over 'Västerbron' again I realised that I am actually close to complete the race. And that bridge is quite over rated I think. Sure, it is steep, but it is more a matter of good technique I guess? Like shortening your step and increase the frequency. But also knowing that after 30km a lot of things start to happen in your body I did lower my pace a little since I was not sure how much it would cost me at 40km etc. I never lacked for energy though and I could have held the same pace straight through. But that is easy to know now that I have completed the run.

At many points where a crowd had gathered to cheer on us runners I actually nearly started to cry! Naturally from happiness and I think that describes in a very good way how much turmoil there was inside of me. I was doing it, I good wiff of knowing that I could actually complete this. I remember especially coming in through a passage that sort of is a tunnel and there had gathered quite a lot of peaople hiding from wind and rain and they did cheer us on very enthusiasticly. Here I fell a tear and so enjoyed the moment and knowing that these heroes (yes, I think the crowd were heroes for going out there to cheer us on) actually cheered me on! Thrilling and it gave such a nice energy boost!

Later on, just a few kilometers from the goal, there was an even bigger crowd. There was speakers and a speaker urging the crowd on to cheer us runners on and music too... The crowd went on and on for perhaps 200 meters! And we (runners) raised our hands and waved back sort of. Intoxicating!

When I got to the stadion I had to use up all my energy so I raced as for my life and then the crown started to cheer even higher and the speaker called out my name and number telling them it was my first Marathon. That was very surrealistic. Running and panting loudly, making funny noices, and really pushing myself (with an inner picture of me being Usein Bolt!) to my limit and then hearing that as in a mist, a dream... It sure purred me on even more for sure!

When I had passed the finish line I went aside and put my legs in a stretch position to hinder them from contracting to hard and then I cried of joy and I felt as happy as I ever did. I wish that everyone could at some point in life experience completing a Marathon, it is absolutely awesome.

To round this off and also giving you the pre and post pictures I want to tell you briefly about drinking during the race. I drank at perhaps 75% of the stations and let my stomach tell me if I should get some or not. But since I never stopped I only got about two sips/gulps at each station and I sticked to the energy drinks apart from at two points where I also got water.

I tried some energy bar thing they handed out but spit it out and nearing the end we got dextrosol and I got some of that just to get another taste in my mouth.

Ok, finally. I was quite surprised to see that there was no big change really in terms of width and such from my carbohydrate load up. If anything I actually dropped a few hundred grams in weight the days before the race. And I did eat as usual and added the carboloader.

Take care out there!


Monday, June 4, 2012

Post Marathon

This is just a brief note to let you know that the Marathon worked out really, really well. There are a lot of feelings tumbling about in my mind and body presently which leads to me not having had the opportunity yet to prepare the pre to post pictures of the carbo load up period. But the ground work is done. I have a full day and evening at work tomorrow so you will have to endure until wednesday =o).

I will then try and describe some of the feelings and thoughts from before, during and after the race. For now: It is the best thing I ever did in my life! And I did it in 3h 31min 39sec!!!

Hugs, Toby