9th February Greenwich
Charlotte is now well ensconced in North Sweden with Svarte. When she asked Grit and I “How do you fancy a ski marathon?” of course we jumped at the opportunity. It was a few minutes later when I began to think, hang on I can’t do this cross country skiing malarky so maybe a marathon is a little bit ambitous. I mentioned it to my friend Hannah (who is off skiing in Canada all winter!) and she suggested we tried Roller Skiing in Hyde Park – www.rollerski.co.uk . So we did. I have actually been Cross Country skiing once before. That was with Charlotte while she was competing in the Swiss Engingen (that doesn’t look right) Marathon. I must admit I didn’t find it very easy and it was really really hard work.
I couldn’t remember any of the technique so I hoped the Roller Skiing lesson would refesh me. Grit hadn’t tried it at all so she was starting from fresh. More importantly I was hoping that after a two hour session there would be some pain somewhere and we could train to improve our fitness in that area. There are two types of Cross Country Skiing – Classic and Skating. Luckily the Swedish Marathon, that we had now been entered for, is all Classic. Classic is, apparently, quicker to learn the basics although it takes a lifetime to perfect. Skating technique is harder to learn the basics but takes less time to perfect. We arrived at the Rollerski.co.uk van in Hyde Park having pre-booked a Saturday morning session. They have a very organised van and instructors on hand. It was a little bit odd because we had three different teachers in one two hour session and I think, as beginners, it would have been best to stick with one instructor. Nevertheless, they went through everything, firstly without rollerskis then, tentively, with them. The Classic Rollerskis have ratchets in the wheels to simulate the sticky wax on the real skis. There is no real need to force the centre of the ski down to get grip but the instructors were very insistant that we transfered our weight from one leg to the other. After half an hour we were tetering about on the devices. I never felt very balanced and, with tarmac all around, a fall would hurt a bit. As it happened we did not fall at all.
After the session sadly there was no pain! So we were still unable to predict what was going to hurt first on the real thing. Our suspicions were our stomach muscles because of all the double poling. We booked another session with the same company but this time a full day at Eton Dorney. Eton Dorney is a rowing lake owned by Eton College and used for the Olympic Rowing. As the Thames has been in continuous flood for so long the lake is currently being used by all the local rowing clubs unable to use the river. The place was packed. We were trying to Rollerski while the coaches were cycling along with their loud hailers. There were some heated remarks! This time we had just one instructor called “oh Boff what a rubbish memory I have” and she was excellent. Full of enthusiasm and patience with some nice teaching techniques. I’m still rubbish but it was no fault of her! This time, although still no pain, it became clear that at lot of core muscles were being used as double poling seemed to be the way to get around at speed along the flat.
Our friend Siggi from Isafjordur in Iceland was visiting London so we met up for a drink at The Grapes overlooking the Thames. Siggi runs Borea Adventures, a company specialising in yachting and skiing holidays (combined too!), so I asked him what will hurt first in a marathon and he said “lower back” without a second thought.
Our plane leaves from London City Airport to Stockholm on Monday morning so I had my last British Military Fitness session this morning. It was good, no aches and pains and I felt quite perky. We have been running 11-13 miles each Sunday and will do one last long run tomorrow. Tomorrow we will meet up with Maxime from Russia – more of that later.
We are looking forward to seeing Charlotte and Svarte and even tentitivly looking forward to the Ski Marathon.