My college friend Glennda was living in Norway, and when she found out that I will be in Europe during the Oslo Marathon, she invited me to join her. Obviously, I said yes. I couldn’t miss the opportunity to join a running event in another country. It’s too cool an experience to pass up. Besides, the event was dated 5 days after my birthday, the race will be a very nice 25th birthday activity.
I originally planned to run the half marathon with Glennda, but my nasty bike accident prior to the Europe trip messed up my training. So I just accepted defeat and decided to run the 10km instead. Besides, it will just be my first time to run 10km on official race time. My last 10km was during my mountaineer training 2 years before this, when I sprained my ankle mid-run and dragged myself to the finish line with a time of 1 hr, 7 minutes. Obviously, I wanted to at least surpass this time even though I stopped running regularly since then. For the Oslo Marathon, my target time was 60 minutes, exactly an hour. I was not ambitious, I know I did not have the right amount of training to aim for a faster time, so 60 minutes was an (hopefully) achievable goal.
While trying to cram my training, I registered at the marathon website a week before the race. For the 10-km category registration, I had to pay 440.89 Norwegian kroner, which is around 80 USD or 3,500 Php. It was quite a hefty amount for a student on allowance like me, but I wanted to make the most of my birthday trip. I might be in Oslo only once in my lifetime, I might as well make it memorable. Forget the expensive registration fee!
I booked a flight with Norwegian Airlines, since they were the cheapest flights I could find. My supervisor in Sweden even helped me look for the best travel deal for this trip. Once in Oslo, I was lucky enough to be welcomed by a very hospitable Filipino family. They toured me around the city a day before the run, but not before cooking delicious Filipino dishes for my welcome dinner. Boy, was I spoiled! On the afternoon before the race, I met up with Glennda, then we met with Karen, another Filipina runner, and her Norwegian husband Robert. We went to a bar to have some drinks (only a glass of beer! <look who’s defensive… haha>) to relax and exchange stories. We then went home to spend the night at Tanya’s (Glennda’s friend) place (It was really great that we did not have to pay for a hotel. Oslo is a very expensive city as it is).
We woke up early on race day, since the 10-km event was at 10 in the morning. We took the train then walked to Akershus Fortress, a charming and historic medieval castle near the sea. It was the perfect place to start and finish the race. Upon arrival, the first thing we did was to claim our registration kits and souvenir shirts (I loved the fit of the shirt on me, not to mention the bright pink color!). I then changed and got ready for my event. When I opened my sealed race packet 20 minutes before the race, I couldn’t find my timing chip! I panicked a little while I ran back to the registration area. They were trying to interrogate me because I might have misplaced the chip somewhere, but in the end they gave me a new race number and timing chip. Too bad I had to run without the original race bib with my name on it. Oh well, the important thing was that I can run the race 🙂
Everyone was a little anxious about the rain, since it had been raining the previous days. Thankfully, that day was rain-free, though the temperature was still cold at 5-degrees Celsius. For someone used to sunny 35-degree weather, Oslo was too cold for me. I was wearing a jacket but I was still shivering in some parts of the race when the wind was too strong. I also regretted not wearing gloves, since my hands were just frozen numb throughout the race.
The mood was very festive at the starting line as the dancers on stage were leading the crowd into warmups to the tune of Shakira’s ‘Waka waka”. When the gun signal for the start sounded, everyone was in high spirits.
The race course was very scenic, with the seaside route including the famous Oslo Opera House and Oslo’s main road and shopping district, Karl Johan Gate. The race course ranged from flat to rolling terrain with a last uphill stretch before the finish line. I had no idea where the course was going, I just followed the stream of running people and the occasional arrows. Throughout the course, they were serving water, Gatorade and bananas , but the weather wasn’t really dehydrating so I drank very little. Glennda was waiting for me at strategic places and I gamely posed for some pictures 🙂 I sprinted the last 5o m of the race so that I would have a good photo at the finish line (The photo was too small, though. Of course, they have the high-res for sale). After crossing the finish line, they gave me my shiny medal to take home as souvenir. Lots and lots of bananas were also waiting for the tired runners at the end of the race (We saw lots of cut-up bananas go to waste after the race, it was sad. Some runners were taking it home, but you can only take home so much cut-up bananas at a time.).
My official race time was 1 hour and 26 seconds. I was 26 seconds short of my goal, and I blame it on my poses for Glennda’s camera hahaha. But all things considered, I was happy with my time 🙂 I survived my first cold-weather 10-km!
After my race, we had lunch at McDonald’s before going back at the starting line for Glennda’s half marathon. I took pictures and appreciated Oslo’s seaside while she was running the race. We then met up with Karen and Robert at a nice burger restaurant. And as if we did not just finish a race, we went for karaoke and drinks afterwards! Team Philippines, FTW!
It was a unique birthday celebration for me. It is a weekend that I will remember for a long time, thanks to the wonderful people who took care of me while I was celebrating my birthday 🙂 Happy birthday to me!