I am running and walking up the hills. Around me I hear children gasping for air with desperate sounds coming from their throats while they’re gasping for air. “My legs are full of acid! ” a girl yells at a spectator she knows. Everyone is fighting hard with their psyke and their bodies to get to the top. Everyone except for me…
At the last minute I signed up for Oslos Bratteste (directly translated Oslo’s steepest), a 2.7 km hill race with a 407 meter ascent. Because traveling and work got in the way of a couple of races I usually do, it had been a long time since I wore a bib and figured it was about time. When you sign up for a hill race you are expecting to be gasping for air, have lactic acid almost coming out of your ears, blurred vision and perhaps feel the taste of blood in your mouth. Yes, people pay to do this voluntarily. These were also things I had felt on previous Oslos Bratteste participations. I have actually called this race “the worst workout for my life, ever!”. That all changed this year.
Oslos Bratteste: The back of the pack
There I am on the start line, in the group you have to start in if you want to win – the fastest group. Should I be in this one?, I wonder as I look around me and see a couple of experienced women a little over than me and the large bunch of children (yes, children!!), with small, light bodies designed to fly up these kinds of hills.
A signal is given and the race starts. “The kids” as well as the other ladies are fast from the get-go and start sprinting up the first part. I know that one of the steepest parts are right around the corner and the results will suffer if you start too hard. I let myself slide to the back of the pack, because I know what will go down in a couple of minutes.
Just wait..I’ll catch you
Sure enough! Everyone is almost crawling in the first hill, but coming out of that one I start picking places, or “collecting people”, as I like to call it. The people around me are suffering and I can tell this by the desperate sounds of their breaths. I may look like I’m breathing a lot, and I am, but I’m in total control and so far, but it’s too soon to go harder. As the race progresses and I keep collecting people, I realize that if I just keep this pace I will get a fairly good result anyway. Also, the race course was a little different so it was not possible to compare PR-times . These two factors made me go completely defensive, and run safe all the way to the last hill, where I sprinted against another girl (she beat me) and only during the fight with her, the race felt hard.
Get lit and endure the pain.
That’s the word. This was a good lesson in race-prepping! Even if Oslos Bratteste was my second training of the day and even if I could safe-run my way to a respectable result, I should have prepped my brain as if this was IT! I completely lacked the right tension and I missed my “usual competitors”, the ones to beat. I know how to get lit, I just thought I was and I now realize that I have to take much more ownership in that process and really prep for pain. Pain is not just bad, or at least you can’t afford to view it that way if you are serious about your physical goals. Pain leads to change as it pushes your mental and physical boundaries – after having been through the training or competition pain everything else feels easy. Yes, we forget how painful the race was pretty quickly, but when you are exposed to that level of physical demand again you recognize it and you know it is not a dangerous type of pain. I often smile through pain to tell my brain: It’s okay!
If I had been in serious pain because I had left every ounce of energy and force that I had in that hill, I’d been happy not matter the result. Because that’s what it is all about isn’t it? It is about doing your best and I didn’t, because my mind was elsewhere and because I could get an okay result in an easy way.
I have to hand it to the Oslos Bratteste crew, though! As I walked through the crowds in the arena I saw people talking and congratulating each other with broad smiles, enjoying picture taking in front of the propped up selfie-walls and the vibe was crazy good. I know, that for many participants this was the physically, hardest thing they have had to do in a long time or ever. I have huge respect for their efforts and I want to give thanks to Oslos Bratteste for creating a friendly profile and arena and for putting together a challenge that anyone can do! I really mean that: Anyone can do this challenge! Next year it’s their 10th year anniversary and I am planning to murder that hill for solid PR.
Who’s with me???!!!