Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather
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Monday, 2 February 2015

My blog has moved! xo SLG

Hi, everyone!  I needed a new blog format. You are welcome to continue to follow along in our lives here:

http://www.mylittlephysiology.com/blog



Wednesday, 21 January 2015

v dot, foot strike, aerobic function, Mallorca & Danish politics/fashion

Vdot

Pillow talk between SR and I last night involved comparing our v dots. V dot is a term I ran across while doing background research for the paper with Phil Maffetone, but I had not seen the table or understood the concept until Cindee recommended "Daniels' Running Formula" for our book club.

Getting popular books in English in Denmark is no easy task, but I was lucky enough to get it delivered from a library in Copenhagen to the Næstved library.

I'm not sure if you can read this, but it says Jack is "the world's best running coach". Well, I do say. And he is also totally open to taking credit for Janet Cherobon-Bowcom's success, who he started coaching just a few months before her American 25km record (pictured).
World's best running coach or not, Vdot is a cool concept. It is your effective VO2 max for running races or your aerobic profile. This Vdot makes a lot more sense for runners than VO2 max because it takes running economy into account as well. If, for example, you have a high VO2 max but, due to a neurologic condition, for example, have trouble moving one of your legs, your Vdot will be lower. So Vdot can be used to predict race times and vdot be determined from your race times as well. Can you find your Vdot? (sorry if you are faster than this)

based on my PR's, my Vdot is somewhere around or just above 53
Okay, so good, this number can be used for both training and predicting race times. I guess I will learn more about that as a read the book.

Aerobic function

It's been a number of months now since I started training with the maximum aerobic function (MAF) philosophy, which fit really well with my off season from running. I allowed myself to get my pulse up as high as I wanted with indoor/outdoor cycling, but never above 150 during running training. And most of my runs had an average heart rate of 144. 

My experience with the MAF has been very unexpected. All along, I watched my pace at a heart rate of 144 get faster and faster. The last run I did with SR, where I attempted to maintain an average heart rate of 144, he was subjected to watching me throw up along the road because I find this pace, especially in cold weather, extremely challenging. By the end doing all of my runs at a 4:30 min/km pace was not at all the easy experience I heard people talking about who had trained with the Maffetone method. My heart rate was low but it felt really hard. Phil suggested my neuromuscular system has not been developed properly. 

The experience that really confused and surprised me was the cross country race we ran a couple of weeks ago. I felt I gave it at least a 95% effort. There were no women near me, so it was more relaxed than most races, but still, despite a 5k warmup on the trails, I was not able to get my heart rate over 145 the first 4km of the race! Essentially, it seemed my pace at at 145 heart rate had gotten faster, but I no longer had the same ability to get my heart rate up!!

Freaky. At which point, Phil Maffetone said to me it was time for me to start running intervals again. :-)

And SR said "who cares what your heart rate is, what matters is how fast you can run"

And I thought what mattered was how good of a mom and wife I was.


Foot strike

It's a tough subject for me. I was worried when I was reading Romanov's book about the pose running method that I would be that one person on earth who actually landed on their heel while running in place. I didn't land on my heel in that one circumstance, but still, landing on my forefoot has always felt wrong to me. 

I have gotten far enough in Jack Tupper Daniels' book to read this golden sentence:

Runners "should experiment with different foot strike techniques and use the one that is the most comfortable,  the least-fatiguing and that allows for a light and quick turnover rate of about 180 steps per minute"

I agree! And I have gotten my cadence up to this on nearly all of my runs now, after years of work.

And there is more:

"A big advantage of rear or mid foot landing is that it reduces the stress placed on the calf muscles and shifts the landing stress more to the larger thigh muscles". Mark Kasmer and Marty Hoffman also found in a study I helped with at Western States two years ago that one marker for muscle stress (CPK) was more highly elevated among forefoot and midfoot strikers than rearfoot strikers. 

Tramuntana Mountains

I am full of topics to discuss today! I am exceedingly energized this week since we just got back from sunny Mallorca. It was just SR and me. SR's parents watched the kids from Thursday through Sunday night and we had a blast. We cycled just under 200 km in the mountains over the two days and then went for a nice run along the beach of Palma the last morning. Being the obsessive HR monitor girl now, I noted my heart rate never got above 145 (at least while cycling). And I can only conclude that while having a low heart rate is a sign of good aerobic health, the ability to get your heart rate up is a sign of strength, energy and good technique. 

For the first time ever, I rode a bike that fit me. I requested an extra small frame for a 5'0" woman and I am 5'6". I couldn't help thinking back to my one triathlon over the summer before I got plantar fasciitis, where I was vying for a podium spot with a pro and got disqualified. It's tempting to enter that tri world for real, then again it is so commercialized and so complicated. Running is so pure. Life should be simple.

One of the many great climbs of the Tramuntana (north Mediterranean wind) mountains.

I had major circulation problems due to the colder temps on the north sides of the mountains. 

Port de Sóller low carb, high fat salad with veggies and roasted local cheeses. I still don't eat meat besides fish so the chicken had to go. So yeah, who needs 32Gi (all carbs) when you can eat classic Mallorcan cuisine?!

My helmet and buff around my wrist got in the way of my usual elegance. 
Really great climb from Port de Sóller to Puíg (pronounced pooeedje in their dialect of Catalán) Major. You can easily speak Castilian with the Mallorcans; no problemo.
Two days after we returned, I told SR I felt like going for a a serious run, so I ran a half marathon alone, on the treadmill at 0.5% incline) in 1:44. I tried to hold my heart rate at 144 at the beginning, but the longer I went the higher my heart rate crept. It felt great and I ran the last 1km in 4 minutes. I LOVE RUNNING!

So what is next? (California?)

We are frustrated. SR has not gotten a license to practice medicine in California yet. We were supposed to move there in March to get ready for me to start residency. In this residency position I will work 60-80 hours a week and be paid minimum wage to become a specialist in PM&R. We can't figure out how this will work if SR doesn't get a job to pay our rent, pay for food, etc. I have been offered to switch residency positions, but I am not allowed to mentions/discuss the switch with my current program in Irvine, CA, until I have completed 45 days of residency. The American medical education system has a monopoly over all med school graduates (there is no other way to practice medicine in the United States) and there are no unions. We're taking one day at time, seeing what happens and what will work out. This PM&R education is not available in Denmark and I was very fortunate to get a spot - in sunny California - but then again, can I handle two kids and a 60+ hour work week while SR also works full time, potentially in another state?

Danish politics

storybild
Here is Nikita Klæstrup, a politician from the Danish conservative party. There has been a lot of debate about her attire and I have to say, I am not a fan. It is a shame that she is using her body (or feels like she has to?) to get attention - and giving young girls the message that wearing a dress like this (or having big boobs??) will gain you respect. 

I have a lot more respect for the Danish Prime Minster, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and her wardrobe choice. It is a lot easier to respect going to Sierra Leone to meet health care workers who are still fighting Ebola. 

I think I just wrote an entire blog post. Time to go to gymnastics with Christian.

One more thing. Thanks Robyn. If you are an elite runner and have been pregnant in the last 5 years AND have run one of these qualifying times (below), you might want to consider being a part of this study.

1,500m: 4:29.42
3,000m steeplechase: 10:48.89
5,000m: 16:38.13
10,000m: 35:06.22
half-marathon: 1:17:08
marathon: 2:46:00


Running song of the day:

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Handless clocks



Today I took a picture in the fitness center with handless clocks. I wanted to document this moment of happiness and stability in our lives. In 2 months, we don't even know which country we are going to be living in. It's a long story. I tried to write about it, but couldn't.

I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is." -Kurt Vonnegut

Good one Kurt.

It's been a long time since I wrote last. Guess what? Being a mom of two and working a full time job is not conducive to blogging! And I really miss it. (okay, now, back after just giving Christian a back rub-- he is asleep now)

So, this blog needs some help! Let's face it: Blogger is so 2007! So I made something new today. It will be my future business/blog and it is here: http://www.mylittlephysiology.com/

(more details to come!!)

Various updates...

LCHF diet

I have now been on this 30-40% carb, no refined sugars, highER fat diet for a year and I have had a great experience. Of course it is not a diet, but a lifestyle. I have talked about the endurance sports and fat burning advantages, but maybe not as much about weigth control. I weighed in a 50kg the last time I checked. I weigh myself about once a month.This is the lowest I have been in Denmark. I have found it easy to lose/maintain my weight on this diet, compared to well a diet high in chocolate and oatmeal... even during the time I was injured with PF and not running. I'm not telling you what will work for you, but the number of randomized control trials showing low carb superior for weight loss is at least 18. And this systematic review found low carb diets to improve all major cardiovascular risk factors. But you could be like Steve Q and claim to have eaten "nothing but pasta" for the last year and still lose weight :-). Yes, individual experiences may vary!

MAF training

I haven't run any intervals or tempos since July, so SR was rather surprised to see at the last two races I ran in Næstved that I seem to be in better shape than last year. I honestly wasn't sure training at a pulse of 144-145 was going "work", but I have watched my weekly MAF test speed on the track creep down to 4:26min/km at an average heart rate of 144. Best of all is I'm not injured. It really is counterintuitive that by backing off, you can speed up. (PS Phil Maffetone and I are almost done with our article and my article about the pregnant marathon is being published in his latest book :-)!!). Plus my coach Ole has been very good at encouraging me not to race for months while my PF was recovering-- and he seemed excited about the MAF experiment as well.

Finish line just ahead after DGI cross country race in Fruens Plantage. Photo by SR.

Denmark

I was thrilled to get permanent residency here in November (as many of you know I had to have full time employment here for 5 years straight + an apartment of a certain size, a 60.000 kr. downpayment and no debt to get permanent residency). In December, I took the test for Danish citizenship and passed. A few days later, Dorte Dahl asked me to be on the Danish trail ultra team at worlds in Annency in May. I said yes, only to have to say-- we'll see how long it takes. Current estimate is I may become Danish in 14-16 months...

Mallorca

SR and I are leaving tomorrow for a 4 day trip to Mallorca for his 40th birthday. I have to get ready and get to bed!



Top 10 Running Songs of 2014
Future Islands - "Seasons (Waiting On You)"
Spoon- Do You? (this is actually a lot better for cycling!)
Cold War Kids- First
Haim – if I could change your mind
Stromae-Tous les Memes
Gabriel Rios – Gold(Thomas Jack Remix)
Withered Hand-Horseshow
Alt-J-Every Other Freckle
Medina -Jalousi
Sia-Chandelier

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

How to best improve your aerobic fitness- a project with Phil Maffetone

Just a quick prologue to the post: I want to thank everyone for their comments and questions on my last post. I learn so much by writing this blog. I hope I come off as someone who is seeking answers and not someone who thinks they have all the answers.

Perhaps the most unexpected person to contact me after my last post about the Maffetone Method and LCHF diets was Phil Maffetone. When I saw his name in my inbox, I thought perhaps it was a hoax but, as I read his email, I realized it was not. After a number of lengthy email exchanges, I asked him if he had any of his data published in a peer-reviewed journal. I could not find his name on PubMed. He didnn't. It didn't take long before we agreed to work on an article together. I feel like this is perfect timing with my PhD finishing and the Ultra Eye Study being accepted for publication.

Two nights ago, we spent an hour and a half on Skype and divised a plan which I am very excited about (plus we laughed a lot and covered everything from Descartes to urine sodium... science and freindships are fun). I promise to let you all know about the article (the publishing process isn't always fast!) and if you don't feel like checking the blog, you can follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

The art of staying aerobic (and not going anaerobic)

It seems like there has never been such widespread misunderstanding about how to best achieve aerobic fitness (and I was one of the people who had sorely misunderstood). I didn't realize that going "all out" on my intervals and tempos was in fact working against me: it was too anaerobic and caused an accumulation of stress (more details in the publication!). I talked about my plantar fasciitis, but not as much the depression and fatigue I had over the summer.

In coach Ole's defence, he told me to run my intervals and tempos slower. I didn't understand why. I still believed in the "no pain, no gain" mentality.

Over the last year, one athlete after another was referred to me for overtraining (this is so prevalent in ultra-running, especially, it seems, among females). One explanation could certainly be that athletes spend too much time at a heart rate above their max aerobic threshold - and it builds up- and suddenly it is way too much. Diet is certainly involved as well: too much reliance on carbohydrates as a fuel seems to be detrimental (and favors anaerobic processes in the body, not to mention insulin resistance). Phil Maffetone says the reason the Kenyans have gone under 2 hours in the marathon is their high reliance on carbs. On the flip side low carb intake which is not accompanied by a very high fat intake will leave an athlete without enough energy.

An aside: Here is a fascinating self-experiment done by a keto-adapted physician athlete showing maintainance of blood sugar during exercise (I'm glad he did this experiment because I'm not about to down a bottle of oil before my swims!).

The data

They are coming (I think). It is actually amazing that after years of working with American and world record holders that Dr. Maffetone's data have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal, but I have a lot of respect for him for being willing to go through the process now-- and he seems motivated by the fact that anyone can use his principles to train with. I should mention, he has published multiple books, but I also think it will be great that (soon?) the medical and scientific world will also be exposed to this method and, perhaps, give it the credit at least I think it deserves.

A couple confusing points from my last post, which I would just like to clear up:

My diet: I am not trying to achieve less than 10% carbs, but am happy with 30-40% carbs (as percentage of calorie intake). My aim right now is to eliminate added sugar and all refined carbs.

Max pulse vs. aerobic max pluse: So max pulse is the fastest your heart can beat regularly (220-age approximately) and Max aerobic pulse is the highest pulse you can obtain before your exercise becomes anaerobic (180-age approximately). So my race last week was at "max pulse"

Quick question about VO2 max

So, my Garmin watch nearly daily tells me it detects a new VO2 max. I just imagine it is set for a 70kg male (that is usually the default). Does anyone know how I adjust for my age and weight? And does one adjust for sex? (yes, the correct term is "sex" and not "gender"!)... I was reading on a "private" forum yesterday the conversation of some stay at home wives, who happened to be making fun of my blog. One of the things they said, besides the fact that I was "pear shaped" (???), was that I had such a strange way of writing (and ergo could not be American)-- whatevs. Should I take it as an insult I don't write like an American ;o)??

My boy, the runner, pre and just finishing 3.6 km. There are no words in any language to describe how much I love him.

... he just told me tonight he is reconsidering his love for his current girlfriend because she laughs to much at his jokes.(it is fun to get a boy's perspective on girls!)







The same song, different versions (one for running, one for alpha waves)

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Maffetone training, Mærk Næstved, more LCHF and other news

What pace do you train at and why? I guess every runner should think about this. I have to admit, though, that when I learned about "Maffetone" training through Larisa Dannis, it opened up a whole new way of thinking about training for me. I started out by listening to the the Ulltraruner podcast with Larisa (at Olga's recommendation) and then  the Trail Runner Nation podcast with "Dr." Maffetone himself (the quotes since I can't figure out what his educational background is by googling him...I do know he is a is a self-proclaimed musician with a lot of experience in exercise physiology).

Edit: I just received an email from Dr. Phil Maffetone himself and he is a chiropractor who then pursued an interest in exercise physiology.

The idea is simple: find the pulse that represents the upper edge of your aerobic zone and train almost exclusively at that pace. You can learn how to estimate it here. I usually ends up approximately being 180-age.

Why would you do this, you ask? So the claim is you can develop your aerobic system without going anaerobic, without stressing the body (through cortisol, lactic acid, etc) and with less injury risk. What athletes (Mark Allen, Larisa Dannis plus other anonymous that I have read about) and Maffetone claim is that over weeks and months, you run faster and faster within this pulse range. This is very thought provoking.

In my first few runs, I was surprised how hard it was for me to run this pace. It is faster than I do my long runs yet slower than a tempo. I think coach Ole was a bit surprised that a 150 pulse for me started out as 5.53/km on mixture of trails and streets and just over the last week, I have watched the pace go up for the same pulse every single time I run this route (I am running the very same route -more or less -since I know it is an experiment). Today my pace was 5.15/km. I had not expected to see results in a week, so I wonder if there are other factors coming into play.

Either way, Larisa has certainly had success with it. Not only did she come from a non-runner background to running a 2.44 Boston Marathon and take 2nd female at Western States, but two days ago she just run the fastest 50 miler/80.5km run by an American female in the last 20 years: 5:59 (and on a hilly course in Wisconsin). She kept her pulse "aerobic" the entire time (generally 147-152). She didn't know what her mile splits had been until she got home, but she was very consistent at just around 7 minutes/mile. You can follow her runs on Strava.

Larisa Dannis at the Door Country Fall 50, courtesy of INKnBRURN. Note the foot strike :-).
As stated earlier, I have dealt with plantar fasciitis for a number of months, but am back to training now (minus intervals and tempos). I have some tips for getting over PF, which you can write me an email about if interested.

I decided to run a 12k race this past weekend. It is a cool event we have run before called "Mærk Næstved Løb" put on by our local athletic club, HGATM. SR had run the Trailman 50k last weekend so offered to watch the kids and even cheer along the route. There are not a lot of money races where I have a chance of winning, but I do keep trying.



I am wearing shoes, which I would like to refer to as my PF rehab shoes. They are heavy and awkward, but support the arch very, very well. Salomon has recently notified me that they also have shoes with this type of arch support--- I am trying those starting tomorrow and am looking forward to less awkward shoes. P.S. Do you see any correlation between foot-strike pattern and happiness?
Before the race SR suggested I run 4.05/km pace. This seemed fair on a windy, hilly yet non-technical route. I ran a pretty even pace, but started a bit fast coming through 10k in 40.20, but the race ends with a wicked uphill so I slowed. I was happy I didn't start too fast because this meant passing the first female after 3km and winning 1.000 kr. (thank you, Sydbank!) and won a personal training program + free training at Fysium for setting the female course record.

What probably interested me about this race was my pulse (by the way, my pulse strap was so tight around my thorax that I had trouble breathing!! Looser and I feel it will fall down-- tips?). My max pulse is "supposed to be" 220-35: 185" which means I was pretty much maxing it out all the way after 5km (see below). What is the deal? I mean, yeah, it felt super hard, but I can only come to the conclusion that my max pulse is quite a bit higher. This is a long time to run at max pulse. No wonder I was wiped out the last km...



If interested, you can follow almost all of my runs on Endomondo.

More on the LCHF diet

One of the foundations of improving aerobic performance is the ability to oxidize fat for energy. Runners on a high carb diet may not have much success with the Maffetone method (says the good doctor himself). SR, who has just recently gone super low carb, had me calculate my actual percentage of calories from carbs on a daily basis and we found out it was somewhere between 30 and 40%. The "sad" thing is this is about half of what it used to be. So it was only relatively low carb. In Phinney and Volek's study, "low carb" was defined as "less than 10% of daily calories" The good thing is, most of my carbs come from vegetables. Except for those two darn Clif Builder's bars in the morning and the glass of wine at night. Tomorrow, for the first time, I am replacing the bars with eggs. Wish me luck.

The change in my diet so far has been mostly positive (and I have been on this diet since February). I love that I can last long runs and many hours without getting that hungry. That old feeling of hunger I knew (headaches, fatigue) is gone. I don't need to worry about my weight anymore. It just stays in one place. I have also been surprised that despite being at the same weight on the scale, the lingering cellulite on my thighs just disappeared.

Dr. Phinney had claimed that in order for the LCHF diet to work you had to be "ketotic" which he believed required less than 10% of calories from carbs. See my post here. I however am nowhere near this and feel I am experiencing a lot of the same benefits as athletes who are techincally low carb. There simply must be a gray zone.

One down side is I feel like I have a lot more body odor (just female hormones??). Food is also more expensive and requires more preparation.

Then again, if I do end up living a long life, the fact that I will be less likely to develop insulin resistance (since I am producing less insulin than if I were on a typical Western Diet) is nice, too. As I look back over the last  year, I have gained endurance and speed, but that may be due to my training plan.

I keep hearing all of these positive things from athletes on the LCHF diet, for example Joe Uhan and Zach Bitter (weight loss, improved cholesterol, more energy, faster race times, etc). I would be interested in hearing if any readers have had a negative experience with a similar diet.

P.S. The 32Gi  energy products are NOT part of a LCHF diet. They are made of a type of sugar. They are not healthy to train with on a daily basis and do not improve fat burning. And these products do not make sense for marathons either because they have the same glycemic index (GI) as milk (which is 32). This may mean you feel you are lacking that boost of energy you can get from high GI sugars, which again I feel should be reserved for races.

Edit: I can see now that I shouldn't have made such a bold statement about 32Gi. One could potentially use them as part of a LCHF diet, but they are made out of a type of sugar. When I said they were not healthy, I meant compared to a healthy diet, but they do induce less of an insulin response than most other energy products. Basically, I believe all energy products should be reserved for races and preferably not part of daily training.

Oh and yes, you see I am sponsored by Vitargo, which for me is perfect for races, because it is easier on the stomach and gives a nice burst of energy. But I do not use their products for every day training

------------

In other news, I just got permanent residency in Denmark and I am studying to take the Danish citizenship test December 2nd. This was really great news for our family. Up to this point (the last six years) I have been required to have full-time work at all times, plus document all of my work plans, rental contratracts and keep reapplying to maintain residency. Now, I don't need to worry about being allowed to stay og traveling back and forth from the US. The whole thing was a very difficult process, but I am enormously grateful it worked out.

Running songs of the day (Maffetone (musician that he is) says you should not listen to music while running in order to keep your pulse down.... hmmm... I'm not buying into that one just yet)

Edit: Ok, Dr. M cleared this one up for me, too. He says he prefers athletes listen to their bodies rather than music while running. He said he did an observational with runners who were and weren't listening to music on a treadmill and found those with music had a decreased running economy. My note: I am not sure if this difference was statistically significant.

Running song of the day
The first song I was going to put was Taylor Swift's "Out of the Woods". She is such an underrated overrated pop star. That video is not available on Youtube yet. This one is from the Icelandic Elliphant and the Danish Mø.


Monday, 29 September 2014

A nubbinz with nubbins

If that title doesn't keep you away, what will? I keep trying to write a grand summary of what has happened since I stopped blogging on May 20th. It seems the mere fact that I have not been blogging has left me incapable of putting it into words. Oh well.

Life is good again now.

On Wednesday SR returned from Duluth, MN. We have spent the last year living on two different continents. I am also having trouble finding the words to describe how wonderful it is to have him back.

It was kind of a rough summer finishing my PhD alone with the two kids, working another job (to retain my Danish residency), learning my American driver's license wasn't valid in Denmark, getting plantar fasciitits from using the babyjogger for most transportation, etc.

SR had a rough summer living in a hotel and missed us. We're all happy now and discussing our next adventures.

Frisco, CO

After I finished my PhD we took a trip to Frisco, Colorado. I can't say enough good things about this town and we are thinking of moving there for three months in the spring before our big move to California. We would normally just move right to California, but I have been contacted by a friend who, due to illness in the family, would like to switch residency positions with me. Due to the American residency match rules we are not allowed to find out if this will happen until we have both done 45 days at the program we "matched" to. The real problem is SR doesn't know yet where he should apply for a job. So why not move to Frisco in the mean time? Or Flagstaff, AZ?

UROC

SR had a great race. He came in second after Matt Flaherty in the 50k. He loved the trails. I really like mountain running, too. Honestly, my favorite running is with steep uphillls and downhills. I also love training at altitude and I think because I had been in Lake Tahoe over the summer (for the Western States Endurance Conference -- writing for iRunFar here) and taking iron all the while, by the time we got to Frisco, the altitude didn't come as too much of a shock.

My mom, on the other hand, got blue hands the last day we were in Frisco. Had it been the 3rd or 4th day, I would have driven her to Denver. She and my sister have always had problems with altitude and I wonder what genetic condition this is. Had we not gone to the Rockies every year since I was a kid, we would have never known about it.

P.S. I ran the ½ marathon at UROC

Running

I think I'm going to ease into writing about running again. I have to admit, I am a bit fatiguée, as they say, of a society that values individual accompishment so much (ie. marathon PR, ironman, straight A's, etc etc). Well, it gets old. Sometimes I would look back at my old blog posts over the summer and wonder who I had become. I have to point out that my favorite runner at the moment, Sylvia Kiberenge, is the most modest person I know.

Anyway, I love running more than ever- especially after a long injury, it is awesome to be back. 

Yesterday, in Holte, the last Salomon Trail Tour race (held in Rude Skov) was one of the highlights of the year. It was a 16k of very technical, hilly trails and ended up being one of the most tactical races I have been in. All the females started together and we eventually learned that we had to keep running in a pack (the lead group was a pack of four) because otherwise the woman in the lead would get lost and look back to the others for help. Anyway, we had a blast and the women's race ended with a sprint finish on the track.

SR had fun, but got very lost, so not quite the placement he had hoped for. 

Here was a shot of the top 3 women and men from yesterday.

Charlotte Löjdqvist, Tracy Høeg, Kristine Villum, Claus Hallingdal Bloch, Marcus Rønn & Christian Madsen. Photo by Anne-Mette Lindgaard
I have a lot more to say, but why not set the bar low for the next post? Of course you have heard these. But if not, why not take a listen?

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

7 year bloggiversary, motherhood and different versions of reality

7 years ago, when I started this blog, it was part of my attempt to press the reset button and start my life anew. I was 26. There were a lot of things I wanted to forget or not face up to, but more importantly, there were so many things I wanted to do. I wanted to live my dream life and wanted to be happy, and no one but myself was going to make this happen.

That was also when I met SR and left my husband (who SR will always refer to as "Saint Paul"). Suddenly the version of reality that mattered was the version SR and I created.

For us, writing our blogs, was akin to creating the story of our lives. I am not saying we lied or made things up, but the stories we told are what we remember as the truth. Anyone who has been a writer knows the magic of the written word: you can change the world and make yourself believe in an entirely different reality than people around you.

Over the years, my blog as the grand tableau of my life, has been challenged again and again. It started with people figuring out my identity. When people could look up my race results, my job, details about my past, not even minor alterations in the truth were allowed. At times, it seemed, despite me thinking or writing otherwise, I was nothing more or less than I was - to the readers. And there have been a lot of instances where readers have hated me.

I started writing about the safety of running during pregnancy. Just because I was a doctor didn't mean I could write statements about health and safety without references. My blog became more challenging to maintain, but I learned a lot about what it means to be a scientist - and the importance of accountability.

As I began to race more, my version of what happened during my workouts became so insignificant compared to the clocks at races. I could cut a workout on the track short and claim to have run faster, but if the goal is to get faster, accountability and accurate assessments of my abilities helped me improve and race smarter.

Yesterday, I was at Target with the two boys. I walked down the shoe aisle and took my eyes off Mattias, who was sitting in the large compartment of the cart (the kids' carts were all taken). I eyed some size 12 shoes for Christian and out of the corner of my right eye, I saw my 2 year old teetering on the brink of the top of the cart and then launching off, jumping as high as he could, temporarily growing small angel wings before he landed a perfect 10 landing on flat feet on the cream speckled Target floor - lifting his arms proudly over his head for the clapping crowd. Amazing. Every bone in my body was proud of my wild specimen.

Yet, everyone else there surely saw something else: a boy desperate not to be left alone or ignored by his mom, hopping dangerously out of the cart and almost breaking his ankle. Had my mom been there, she would have blown a gasket.

In truth, no one saw him but me. And I may have made up the part about the wings.

I like to think that my eating has gotten a lot healthier. I am not too thin. I eat a variety of foods. But if my step daughter sees my eating as restrictive and wants to be thin, she may very well become anorexic in attempt to emulate me. And suddenly, as a mom and step-mom, my version of reality is a lot less important than that of my kids.

Yesterday, as we lined up to start the Color Dash 5k, everyone was smiling, but there was a big wait to start even after the race had begun. I looked down at Christian with love, so proud he was going to run, but he looked up at me with fear. He said, carefully, in Danish "Mom, please don't start screaming because we have to wait to start". My heart broke and my smile got strange. In my version of reality, I only scream or cry if I am really upset or desperate. In his version, I am unpredictable. And suddenly, the only version of reality that mattered was his.

I could go on using this blog to tell my story, but it changes nothing of importance when my story is not the one that matters. Maybe that is why I rarely make time to blog. In fact, is this why mothers so seldom write?

Steve Q pointed out to me today that no one under 30 has a blog anymore. This made me sad because using writing to understand our feelings and to help others understand their own is undervalued in the Facebook era.

And I thought again about our trip to Target yesterday, Christian and Mattias sitting in the red cart, repeating in unison the word "tissemand" (Danish for "penis") and laughing. They were like two little crickets singing their joyful tissemand duet and no one could understand them - and this is what seemed to make them happiest - except their mother, who couldn't stop laughing. Every fiber in my body loved those two boys, and I smiled knowing, for at least that moment, my version of reality really was the one that mattered.

Running song of the Day:

Horseshoe by Withered Hand

We can kid our friends. Tell me was it easy to pretend? Like nobody is dead. Nobody in love will ever die again.