Igor wrote the comments in red
I like this camp. In the last one I thought I might turn into an old, fat German and almost got depressed for a day. I could stay in Martinščica the whole month and I haven’t even seen the beach yet. The signal light we’ve just broken because of the bad turn judgement was already forgotten. (not a bad judgment, the tree moved). Rationalising these kinda minor material things are not ruining our days any more. We scream and shout for a few minutes, Zvono raises his paw and then we’re back to our peace.
I’m trying to make Igor join me for an evening swim since the sea is so cold your senses get numb and you can feel the cold only by deep and uneven heartbeats (and the fact that it’s cold). We’re enjoying the sunset while Zvono is carefully observing us from the shore. Despite his warm furry coat he’s not even considering soaking a paw into anything liquid. Maybe a random dolphin could make him jump in but he's never really learned how to swim so his slapping the water surface looks ridiculous.
There’s no better formula for a good sleep than a cold body so we woke up the next morning full of energy. My vision for the day was a long and easy jog from bay to bay and testing the water temperature in each of them (trust me, it is equally cold everywhere). Igor’s vision on the other hand was researching new trails for the upcoming Cres-Lošinj Trail we’re organizing this fall. To make us both happy, Igor left the real plan for himself and I didn’t pick up the hint why Zvono can’t come with us this time.
The first bay, Velika Slatina, was breathtaking and I kept running back and forth, probably to soak the experience as much as possible (and so I take a picture of you) since I knew we have to keep going. Crystal clear water in the noon sunlight looked like 100 Instagram likes. We continue following the path by the sea and I’m already falling behind Mr. ’I -don’t- care- if- I’m- bleeding’. Once again we’re on his terrain and he’s having no trouble finding his way through the rocks and bushes while I’m getting stuck in every branch and getting hooked on every thorn. At this point my vision is still relatively on point and we’re soon coming in a new bay called Rt Breg. I’m not accepting not to get getting in in this one so Igor is waiting for me in the shade while I do my usual 10 minutes of wondering and walking in the shallows. Although I want to stay here longer too, he promises me there are a few more nicer bays ahead of us (I’m probably lying, I have no idea what’s ahead of us) so we continue through the woods to the bay we cannot name but it surpasses the last two bays by it’s beauty. Smooth, white pebbles, turquoise sea, idyllic shades, one boat and two foreigners. We don’t feel like interrupting their peace so we shortly gaze at the horizon (I was looking at the naked tourist) and move on to the beach were I was promised swimming. We climb over the rock and finally reach the beautiful empty bay. There is a big rock sticking out in the middle of the bay so I decided it might be a good time to break loose of my fear of heights. I climb on the meter high end and start thinking whether I should jump head or feet first. Although Igor is not a big fan of cold water, we’re soon both frying in the sun like two lizards.
This is the moment my reality stops and Igor’s begins. Our goal is to find a new path to the top of the island so we head up by following Igor’s intuition straight onto talus. I do understand we have to climb 400 meters of altitude but my stupidity keeps me safe and I start imagining escalators. The rocks are rolling under our feet and I realize we’ve been moving for 3 hours already, civilization is nowhere near and we have no water. I’m not panicking, since being uncomfortable for a few hours is nothing new to me, so I switch into survival mode and keep pretending I’m a mountain goat (pretending?). We’re getting under the top cliff and finally get on the marked path while leaving the depth behind us. Half an hour went by fast making jokes about well chosen route and we’re already drinking liter of water each on the Lubenice square. Now it’s been 4 hours since we started, our legs are shaky and there are 10 more kilometers until we make it home. Ironically, the fact we know the way back and we can run made us happy. We’re stepping over pine cones and our legs are getting lighter. The smell of pines is helping me ignore the stomach grunting so I get into a delightful trance which brought me back home. Our easy jog went for almost 7 hours. Nothing new.
Today is Igor making dinner (as usual). It’s his fault the day went by so fast and I had no time for housework.
Day 1: adventure race
Adventure races are on the top of our priority list. And when I say ours I actually mean Igor’s, although with time I’m starting to be less of a nagging escort and more of real partner. My first time at Lim Bay Challenge was last year. How things usually work out in my head, I was expecting a leisurely sightseeing of the bay and what I got was 10 hours of hard core action which included 30 meter high abseil (in the rain, as if my fear of heights was not enough), bloody struggle through the bushes and then romantic sunset flipping over from kayak into the really cold water. This year I wasn’t as optimistic about how idyllic and easy the race would be but still I was imagining golf terrains, single trails covered with moss and sea current that goes from inside of Lim bay and pushes you straight to the finish.
On the race morning all the teams were transferred from Vrsar to Pazin, where they were then separated on the opposite sides of the Pazin pit and zip-lined across at the same time. If I really have to choose between abseiling down the cliff or zip-line, I’d definitely choose zip-line but I’m still not a fan of heights and this probably won’t be that pleasant. The ride was short and the moment I thought how I had everything under control I realised I haven’t even noticed Igor going the other direction and I do have some blank spots in the last minute. On the way to a first check point this situation reminded me of my dad telling me the story of his famous parachute jump. He said he was totally conscious but watching his go pro shot it was obvious he was on the verge of passing out.
After the zip-line, the almighty organiser kindly let us separate for a while so now I’m in charge of finding check point 2 while Igor is looking for check point 1. I have no other option than to turn on my half-hour orienteering experience from few days ago and find the way. By some kinda miracle I can even recognise where I am on the map but I quickly catch up with Mateja and Žine, who disturb my plan of independent orienteering. Together we’re arriving to the check point 3 where I’m meeting my spatially more intelligent other so I’m slowly putting compass and map into the pocket and comfortably jump into passenger seat so he can lead. By passenger seat I mean 17 km of running through mud, bushes and over wired fences but anyways… Igor always makes those little mistakes to make the adventure more exciting for me and he always does it on purpose, never by accident.
We arrive in Tinjan, where our bikes are waiting, as the third team. Once again we have to separate so I go find those baby check points, even a blind man would find, and Igor does the man’s work. I can understand the map very clearly but still I decide to try 3 wrong roads just to get to know the town. Who knows when again will I be able to be there and it’s such a lovely day. After I found all the places where my check point wasn’t it was inevitable to find where it was after all. On my way back I’m meeting Paula and letting her know my little secret about the check point position. She, with her years of experience, sure wouldn’t be able to find it herself 2 meters by the main road.
Being on the bike felt quite good after all that running. I mean, you sit on the bike, what’s there not to be comfy. I didn’t know what the terrain was going to be like, but after last week debacle on Koprivnica bike marathon I was ready for anything and this ride went by relatively easy. Actually, when I think about it, pushing aluminium bike uphill for 20 minutes at one point was not that easy but I will always choose a hard uphill over a hard downhill. On our way to kayak we catch up with Meta and Žine so we reach the transition together. We’re quickly on it and already kayaking 3 kilometres towards another separate running orientation challenge. I did understand that the woods we have to go to is on the top of the hill but I refused to think about how I’m going to get up there. You’d say kayaking is nice and relaxing since you can just sit there and row but exactly 2 days ago we did our first TRX training and my arms were absolutely dead. On the other hand, our kayak was slightly more hydrodynamic and by the time we reached the shore we had few minutes of advantage ahead of Slovenians, few minutes I’m soon about to lose again. It could be my conscious, because of the faster kayak, so I decided to punish myself with extra 5 kilometres through poison ivy nowhere close to my check point. The thing is, I had no problem with finding first two so I got cocky and thought how easy this was going to be, but then…I’ve mixed few basic map elements and ended running in circles for 15 minutes somewhere where leg peeling was for free. Returning back to Igor I was depleted but with all the check points found and big experience gained. Now I don’t have to look at another map until the next race.
We descended back to our kayak and cought up with 2 teams that passed us earlier because of me getting lost. Next was a hike on the other side of the canal but since Igor went up and I’m not the hero of that story it doesn’t even matter. It took us 90 more minutes of kayaking till the finish line. Maybe it would be more precise to say that it took Igor 90 minutes of kayaking till the finish line, I’m there just for support, gently waving those paddles above the water surface.
I really felt beaten up after this one. But I’d do it again. Amazing what you can see and experience in a day. There’s something about those adventure races…
Below is Igor’s experience of proving manliness on the next day’s 25 kilometre tracking race and a photo gallery.
Holy moly, I won Kitzsteinhorn banked slalom.
It was supposed to be a girls camping weekend but it was snowing the whole week and driving a 3.5 t vehicle with summer tyres was not an option for me. Urska, Anja and me hopped into a car and picked up Mateja on the way. Although we tried to make it on time this year we were again fashionably late. There was 80 cm of dry and fresh snow for the 1st of May and we were not the only ones hoping for some fresh tracks. We took our Pieps and shovels and head up the mountain. At 9 AM everything was already completely tracked and people were everywhere but the snow was so good that even riding through wholes and bumps was fun.
Meanwhile Volcom guys were digging out the course and they did so faster than expected so we missed the 1st training run. Luckily we got another one and we joined Conny and Lisa laughing every turn not knowing what’s next. The course was a real leg burner. It went on for a bit longer than a minute but that minute was fire. I had a late starting number, somewhere around 160, but the snow was still good and I didn’t mind. I managed to have a good run despite the cloud that came in and left me in complete whiteout but I hoped I could get one more since I felt I could still go faster.
While people were eating apples and burgers in the break, Conny, Urska and me sneaked for another run together. Watching people in front of you struggling every turn and laughing is the best. I got into a final 50 and went to start line for another run…and it felt great. I could pump most of the banks and my legs somehow managed till the end. New bigger board with edges might have also helped since I’m used to riding soft little boards with absolutely no edges. I went 2 seconds faster and sneaked before Canadian lady. Terje still beat my by 7 seconds but guys are heavier and I couldn’t sneak in more than 2 seconds in a perfect run.
Anyhow, it was epic. I’ll bring some tighter clothes next year and than we’ll do it again.
"OK- let’s do it!" - I said to Ana 6 months ago when she suggested to buy a motor home, move into it full time and go wherever we feel like. Back then I knew absolutely nothing about camper vans, I wasn’t ever even in one. Though I did have 10 years old VW van I used for going to concerts and camping in the summer. The only difference between that van and every other van was that I occasionally put a mattress in it. So, I had no experience with motor homes but the decision to move into one was easy and it felt right. Problems like: where are we going to park, how are we going to heat it, what about the toilet or if there was a shower, were not much of our concern neither did we know answers to them.
We decided to start looking for our new home in online ads. The only thing we were sure about was that it has to have a garage for our bikes. We couldn’t imagine going anywhere for longer than a week without our bikes. We started with all the Croatian and Slovenian ads but those vans were either too expensive or too old, and they rarely had a garage big enough. As we couldn’t find anything interesting I started looking for it on German and Austrian pages (www.mobile.de) were the choice was much bigger but somehow all those we liked were far away north, 1000+ km from us.
After few weeks an ad from Hungary, with a charming description, appeared and we liked it right away. The camper had a garage, it was about the year we were aiming for and it was quite cheaper than its German competition. We decided to take a day and go check it out even if that meant only a touristic visit to Balaton. On the other side, we really wanted to meet an owner since his name was quite amusing to us - Gabor Czorba.
We liked the camper van the moment we saw it. The interior setup was exactly how we wanted it and in a very good condition. There were few marks of careless parking on the outside but nothing that couldn’t be fixed or would effect the quality of life. Plus we could use it to lower the price a bit more too.
A week passed by and we returned to Hungary, both with a kidney less, but with enough money to buy our new home. The procedure was fairly simple. We checked the vehicle out in the local city, got temporary driving plates, insurance and headed back to Croatia. Two hours later we enjoyed our drive back to Zagreb thinking of where do we want to go first. Crossing the border also went smooth, nobody asked a thing.
Few weeks of bureaucracy issues in Croatia gave us exactly enough time to get ready for the transition. I learnt all the basics from my experienced friend and officially moved into the camper van end of March. I could by then start the gas for cooking and heating, water for toilet and I bought few more things you don’t ever think about living in the normal house.
My first overnight in the camper was without Ana, since she was running a marathon in Bratislava at the time, so Zvonko and I went to Premantura Rocky trails race. Ana joined us few days later in Buzet where we were hired for marking the 100 miles of Istria trails.
I’ll soon write a bit more about our camper van research, buying and all the equipment for those who might be considering doing the same. These are the questions I was wondering about in the beginning and you might be too:
1. Is it better to buy an RV or convert a van?
2. Does RV have electricity, WC, heating?
3. How much gas does RV uses?
4. How much does the insurance and registration costs?
5. Can I park it wherever I want?
6. Can I cook in it?
7. Do I need a special driving licence to drive it?
I’ll answer all those on a first boring, rainy day.
I finished my 1st marathon in 3 hours and 30 minutes. Some would say it was easy for me since I used to train athletics as a kid but I was a long jumper. I’ve never ran more than 2 kilometres at once and if I did run 2 then it was warm up jogging. I’ve never even liked running that much but it’s not very common for a young person to get into ‘boring’ endurance sports anyways. After ripping my first ACL on a skateboard, my long jump career was over and I could finally let myself go and go snowboarding. I knew what I wanted and I had no plan B since my vision was clear. I wanted to be a professional snowboarder so I could snowboard as much as possible and that had its price, which I payed with another ripped ACL, few broken bones and some 40 stitches. None of for I cared about much at the time.
A decade went by and all of a sudden I felt like going for a little jog on the local river banks. At that time my long run would be a circle around the lake (which is 6 km) and after running ‘that much’ I had horrible calves and knee pain. It seemed like an ultra distance to me.
So I would occasionally think to myself what a solid runner I was, the way most beginners probably do, until one day I accepted the half marathon bet from a friend who is much older and about double that more experienced when it comes to running. Till then I’ve never ran for even 1 hour straight, partly because of my bad knees, partly because that’s what crazy people do. But my style was always to jump into things first and then think about them later. And so my first half marathon was hard, the new level of hard. So hard it was mind-blowing. I didn’t walk once but it took me 2 hours to ‘run’ to the finish line. Needless to say I lost the bet and said - never again!
My next half marathon was still a fight with the old bet and I lost again but I did get 10 minutes faster just by knowing what to expect. Of course I said never to do it again and never lasted for about half a year. I joined Youtube running club with coach Google and decided to put some work in. I really wanted to enjoy those 21K more and suffer less next time I do it. After 6 months of regular, 30 kilometres per week, training I again got faster and ran 1h43min which was finally enough to get rid of my, year and a half old, bet. Happy how my body was listening I decided to put another 4 month of training in and I ran Rovinj Half in 1h36min. My knees were suddenly getting better, the pain went away and, naturally, my next step was a full marathon. I’ve heard running 42K is something you can’t understand unless you do it and since I need to learn everything myself it sounded like a fun challenge. The race in Slovakia, I decided to attend, was beginning of April and I started training quite late for it. Few minor snowboarding injuries slowed me down but in two and a half months I managed to put down about 70 kilometres per week and still have enough power to go snowboarding. This time I decided not to focus on speed much and I ran mostly easy with few long runs that made me confident about finishing the whole distance. What I didn’t think about enough was my nutrition during training. I always run on empty stomach and since my longest run was 33 kilometres I could get by with not eating. “I just don’t like carrying food and love to run light” - says she with the big old Garmin watch that’s heavier than a bottle of water.
So the race day was coming closer and I did my training as people without the coach usually do, a bit shorter and lighter than planned. I’m also probably the only person who puts 100 hours into training but forgets to register for a race. Those four weekends prior to the race were filled with snowboarding and I somehow forgot. In the end I realised the race registration was closed and my only way of getting a spot was pulling some strings from my athletic past. I called my old colleague Goran, who now has a running club, so he got me in instead of one of his runners who gave up. Happy go lucky, nothing new for me.
Temperature in Bratislava was 20 degrees on the start already and it went up to insanely hot 26 C. I knew this was bad, I just didn’t know how bad yet. I never get jitters before these kinda events and it amuses me how nervous people around me sometimes are. I just imagine how nervous they would be standing in front of 20 meters long jump on a snowboard competition. This is only running, you can always stop and go home, unlike snowboard contest when they sometimes have to carry you home. Activities like this one are just painfully fun experiments for me.
It was easy for the first 10 km. I was warned what might happen many times so I paced as planned and held myself down. The only energy gel I had was around my waste bumping all the time and it really annoyed me. I ate it around 15th kilometre since carrying it further became unbearable. Maybe it would be better if I didn’t, maybe it wouldn’t, I don’t know.
How would I?!
My time for the first half was 1 h 43 min and I already knew the 2nd lap was going to be fun. I imagined myself on 40th kilometre going up that bridge again, the bridge that already now gave me troubles. Then around 25th kilometre heat started to seriously get me and I knew this was going to be a struggle. It wasn’t supposed to get so hard so early. My, already baggy t-shirt, got 3 sizes bigger under all the water weight I was pouring on my head every aid station so now I had a heavy skirt instead of a shirt (lesson learned). Straight, long roads were glowing even more heat under the noon sun and occasional building shadows were my only comfort. That moment, when I asked myself why exactly was I doing this, came a bit too early too. I was prepared for it, but not yet. Sign for the 35th kilometre was still not in sight when I considered quitting and just going home…but I’m in the foreign city, pretty much alone, and don’t really know the way so what the hell. I’ll just try to keep going. All of my ideas how gracefully I was going to run my first marathon were overshadowed by twice stronger excuses why none of it matters any more and I should just stop. 3:30 pacer group was behind my back and I realized it will be a mission impossible to stick with them. On the 37th kilometre the real deal started and I couldn’t find a single reason why I shouldn’t stop, so for the first time that day I did. I stopped running, sat on the rails and looked for my dignity lost somewhere on the floor. My heart was quite still, my lungs too but my legs just couldn’t keep moving any more. I was imagining myself on a bike or a longboard for at least 100 meters but I knew this was the point I had to disconnect my thoughts and just make another step. Those last 5 kilometres of stumbling, walking and running felt like forever. Two guys close to me were going through a similar meltdown so we looked like Monty Python's Ministry of silly walks. Then 200 meters before the finish line I felt too embarrassed not to run so I found just enough strength to pass next to all those people cheering and pretended like it was not a big deal. It was a huge deal. So I said - never again!