What I learned by running the 3-Sjøersløpet 2014

Published 07-11-2014

What I learned is that I should have worn a really bright tee shirt! Sportswear is big business in Norway.

The 3-Sjøersløpet is the ‘three lakes run’ that takes place in Stavanger every first Saturday in November. It may just be the second biggest run in Norway, after the Oslo marathon. This year (2014) a record 2,500 people signed up for the half marathon distance (21.0975 klm) race, although only 2,300 showed up on the day.

The race begins at Stavanger’s ice skating hall, goes down past the Madla AMFI shopping centre, crosses the road to enter the parkland around Stokkavatnet (the first lake), before heading out to do a full loop of Hålandsvatnet (the second lake).

After re-entering Stokkavatnet parkland once again, the trail follows the lake until it exits near Lille Stokkavatnet, then heads up into the posh suburb of Eiganes, before doing a closing round of Mosvatnet (the third lake) to finish back at Siddishallen.

The race is unique in the sense that most of it is off-road or on soft trails instead of hard asphalt. The natural scenery is also beautiful and you get a dazzling dose of the changing autumn colours. The majority of the race is flat, except for about 6 or 7 mini slopes around Hålandsvatnet and Stokkavatnet, and a final small hill going up to Eiganes.

Stavanger is notorious for its temperamental weather, and yesterday was no exception with the almost near perfect conditions of non-stop wind and rain. I wonder how those guys and girls without a raincoat survived the wet and cold – perhaps it was their motivation to run fast! They were no doubt among the super fit, who finished the course in around one hour or so.

The nice thing about the race is that it encourages people to get out and enjoy the outdoors in autumn. Considering the weather, I was surprised by the number of spectactors standing out in the rain cheering the runners on. Something I admire about Norwegians – their good mood despite the miserable weather.

It was my second official run of the year, and a step up from my first official event back in August, when I did the 10 km at the Stavanger marathon. I had never run 21 km before in my life, and I am happy to say that I was able to walk home after yesterday’s race and have been able to move around today without too many problems, e.g. crawling counts.

Having had no experience at running this distance before and being a bit of a lazy bum in the last few weeks, I think that my time was reasonable at 2 hours 21 mins, which included a ladies-bush-stop and drink stop.

What did I learn from the 3-Sjøersløpet and Stavanger Marathon races this year? I learned that body shape and age tell you absolutely nothing about the fitness level of a person. Tall, small, muscular, chubby, overweight, skinny, it doesn’t matter – don’t judge a book by its cover. You’ll be surprised by who can beat you or run slower.

I was also surprised by the number of ‘mature’ runners, e.g. above 50-years and up. More and more people are remaining active regardless of how old they are or feel, e.g. it’s up to the individual to define what ‘too old’ is.

I also learned that the human mind and body are capable of doing far more than we often give both credit for. You never know until you try or push the boundaries (yes it is a cliché but one that only makes sense when you’re in the middle of pushing those boundaries). Take small consistent steps; use your energy wisely; be kind to your body; keep focused on what you’re doing; be patient; don’t overdo it; educate yourself. All these pieces of wisdom are important in a race that is longer than the average ‘run around the block’.

Now that I have run the race, I know a little bit more about myself and what to expect. I wouldn’t say that it was a hard race, even though the last three kilometres did start to hurt. The weather wasn’t the best, but it was probably a lot easier to run in wind and rain than in boiling sunshine (although I’m not sure how often there’s a heatwave in Stavanger).

Prior to the race I filled up on fresh juice, herbal tea and water. I ate two bananas and some pineapple. During the race, I stuck to water and a cheap smoothie-in-a-pouch that you can buy in the baby section of the supermarket. It was organic and had only three ingredients in it. For a short race like this, I didn’t need that much fuel.

I know that there is a lot of work to come to prepare myself for a 42-kilometre marathon. Time will be the key in building my body up to the physical requirements and challenges of running at that level. So next year will hopefully be my full marathon year, and I hope to choose a marathon that follows a trail rather than a sealed road.

Not only did I make it onto one of the photos published in the Stavanger Aftenbladet newspaper online (see here), but I also managed to find myself in one of their video reports. Click here and watch the video to see me running behind two ladies (at 1:50 min).

Thanks to Hildegunn: my support team and super lasagne chef.

Finished 21 km in 2:21:00.

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