US Norseman winner...the journey to black tshirt part two


Jessica Kelley our US winner of our Norseman competition is now just over a month away from jumping off the ferry, cycling through the beautiful Norwegian countryside and finishing her marathon on the mountain top to claim the famous black tshirt.

Under the guidance of Matt Dixon at Purple Patch Fitness, Jessica talks us through her journey to date and how her training is shaping up for the big day...

As Norseman gets closer, I’ve started thinking more about race specificity. Typically, when a big race draws near, I cut back on my “fun” activities to focus more on swim/bike/run, which usually means I have to stop hiking as much as I normally do.

One of my favorite parts about training for Norseman is that hiking is no longer a guilty pleasure I sneak in wherever I can find room in my training schedule, but instead it’s an integral part of my program. Every Sunday I go for a long run and then finish up with a family hike up a local mountain. (This is similar to the Norseman run course, which “lulls you into complacency” with rolling hills for the first 15 miles, only to spend the last 11-plus miles climbing incessantly at grades upwards of 10%.)

I love our family hikes. My husband Tom hikes next to me as part of his own training program—he will be my support crew during the race, and as support crew he’s required to accompany me to the mountaintop finish. My two-year-old daughter Rowan cheers for me from her backpack when the going gets steep. “Go Mama, go!” I can hear her little voice in my head as I type this, and I know it will also stay with me all through race day.

Along with family hikes, I’ve started adding in a particularly challenging hill repeat workout sent to me by Matt Dixon of Purple Patch. I won’t get into too many details, but suffice it to say it will definitely help me prepare for the brutal marathon.

In addition to hiking and running, I’m swimming in cold water whenever possible. This weekend I jumped into Puget Sound, at a shocking 50 degrees F. Ouch. That one hurt. Well, it hurt for the first five minutes and then I went completely numb (blueseventy gear rocks, but nothing can completely ward off that kind of cold). Even so, it was an amazing swim. I  cruised along, watching the seagrass sway and the Dungeness crabs scurry around on the seafloor.

And of course, there’s plenty of hill climbing on the bike. I rode up North Cascades Highway. It was an incredible day: sunshine, blue skies, temps in the mid-70s. When you live in the Pacific Northwest, you don’t let days like that slip away. I had originally planned to work but decided to take advantage of the great weather and play hookie. It was the Friday before Mother’s Day and I called it my Mother’s Day present to myself.

I rode over Rainy Pass and Washington Pass and then headed back to my car, for a total of approximately 6000 ft of elevation in around 65 miles. Of course, at Norseman I’ll need to do another 40 miles and 4K of climbing, and then tackle the uphill marathon.

But I try not to dwell on that at this point in the game. At this point, it’s about doing the work, enjoying the process and trusting that by the time race day rolls around, I’ll be ready.