Norway: Midnight Sun

I never know how to prepare for a run. This is my first race, but I mean, even going for a practice run at home I’m like what do I eat for breakfast? Did I get enough sleep? I find some days I’m just in the zone and ready to go, and some days I just get tired quickly and that’s it. The latter is not really an option today, and considering that I haven’t actually gone for a real run in the last week, I feel even more unsure of how I’ll do today. I’ve got a solid 12 hours of waiting between when I wake up and my actual race start time, so I’ll try to distract myself.
To keep ourselves entertained, and as not to miss out on any culture while we’re here, the fam heads out to the Tromsø University Museum. Here, there’s a ton of cool information on the Sami people and their culture. Quite honestly I’d never heard of this indigenous group before, but I learned so much!! They live in 4 different countries, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia, in the most northernly regions, which are collectively known as Sapmi. The Sami rely heavily on reindeer, and live a nomadic lifestyle with their herd. Listening to the stories told by a Sami woman we met, their history is not dissimilar to that of Indigenous Canadians, eroding their lands, treating them as second class citizens, and being without a voice in parliament until 1989. Their culture remains rich in arts and story telling. They have beautiful textile arts including intricately woven ribbons, embroidery, an array of decorated carved implements made from reindeer antlers, as well as a billion other reindeer products. They make use of the whole animal.

Near the end of our visit, we are able to go inside a traditional shelter built on the grounds of the museum, where we met a young Sami woman who is studying Political Science at the university. Her plan is to finish school and secure a job working for the Sami parliament back home, which I think is super cool. Over a fire-roasted coffee she was able to answer our questions about the Sami history and culture. We sit cozily around a fire on reindeer skin mats over a bed of twigs and brush. We are also offered reindeer tongue which you know I had to try. It looks similar to a salami; tough, dense, and sliced into small thin pieces. It’s not my favourite snack…but I smile and pretend I love it anyway.

Overall, pretty sweet museum experience, and this is coming from someone who’s not really a museum person.

We go back into town for a late lunch and grab some pizza. We needs carbs for running! My run starts at 7pm which is kind of an awkward time, so eating at 3pm is probably the best choice for me under the circumstances. They warn us that the wait for food is 45 minutes and we’re cool with that, but after we sit down and I’m looking around I can’t really wrap my head around why. There are empty tables around us and yet they still look stressed and the food is backed up. I waitress back home, so I feel like I’m usually a pretty good and patient patron, but I don’t understand how a restaurant becomes under staffed on what must be one of the busiest days of their year. We’re in no hurry, so it’s fine. Food is decent. People watching from window seat is bueno.

Time is now creeping up quickly. We head back to the apartment where I change into my gear, have a 25 minute nap, and boom! Next thing I know I’m back downtown and in line to start this 10k run. What have I gotten myself into?

The first kilometre goes by so fast that I wonder if my app is broken. It’s not though, so this is a very very good sign. The road is relatively flat, and we run along the coast of the island which is beautiful. It’s cold and overcast, sitting at 9 degrees, light rain, and fog so thick I can’t see the mountains just across on the mainland. In lots of ways this is perfect because I don’t get too hot.
The craziest people I see are a lady who’s literally face timing someone during her run, and a guy with Toms, track pants, and a hoodie on. To each their own I suppose. I’m just happy that I’m able to run ahead of them…it’s distracting. Mom tells me some dude who reaches the finish line before me started projectile vomiting everywhere. So I’m happy to have run behind him, though. Enough distance between us that they’ve washed away the mess with buckets of water before my arrival.

Again, my life kind of flashes forward and the next thing I know I’m approaching the finish line. I complete the run in 1:11:44, far ahead of my goal time of 1:15:00 so that’s pretty rad.

Sev and Dad start their half marathon (21k) at 10:30pm. The whole point of this midnight sun business is that it doesn’t matter what time you start, because it’ll be light out no matter what. Mom and I chill inside and eat leftover pizza while the boys run, and head back down to the main road a little after midnight to watch them finish the race. They complete it and no one dies!! Go team!! We’ve done it!! Now we can comfortably party it up Norwegian style. I haven’t had any alcohol yet on this trip in (a weak attempt at) preparation for this run. Now I’ve got nothing holding me back, muahaha!
Obviously we talked a big game about hitting the town after the race and indulging in some local craft beers. Who were we kidding? We’re exhausted. I can hardly feel my legs. The drinks can wait until tomorrow, which, coincidentally, is also Father’s Day. Happy Fathers Day, Dad!

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