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

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Preparing to take on Germany

There are a lot of different ways one could "take on" Germany. One could, for example, take on the anti-Muslim, anti-immigration book Deutschland schafft sich ab just written by Thilo Sarrazin. But since this not exactly a political blog, you probably know that's not what I'm taking on. And I'm not talking about the Berlin Marathon this Sunday. Nope, SR and I will be taking on the mountains in central Germany in the Brocken Marathon.

I have, of course, mentioned this before. And you probably are thinking this is old news. But I just want to talk about my training, which is actually much more important than the race. I finally was able to run a long run yesterday (after suffering foot problems seemingly related to my beloved Ecco Bioms) and it was over the larger hills in Næstved. They are called åse (pronounced ohseh - sort of). It's some glacial term. I have run them fairly regularly since we moved to Denmark 22 months ago and I had always gotten winded to the point of walking - that is until yesterday. I had 3 hours of full-on åse and didn't have to walk on one hill. Liking to believe I am a scientist of daily life, I am trying to figure out why this is. Well, the only possible explanation is Invar (intensity + variation :)). Almost every day I work out repeatedly at what I perceive to be my VO2 max either in running intervals, swimming intervals, biking hills or doing this crazy step dancing stuff in my stomach-butt-thighs pulse class. Hills, as far as I understand it, are a great way to check the status of your heart and lungs. And, unless you have some lung illness, it is the heart which is the limiting factor. So I am deducing that my heart is doing well. Now I just have to work on keeping up my endurance (ie making time for long runs) before the marathon the second weekend in October.

I have also had a lot of hill races lately, which in hindsight, seemed to be a great workout. I am consiering adding a hill 10k race, Maglebjergraeset to my schedule in 2 weekends. I know Helle will be there. SR will again be working :(.

This is probably a good place to explain - last month I thought I was pregnant yet again, had two positive pregancy tests and then had my period the next day. Chemical pregnancy. The OB-Gyn in Duluth had warned me my uterus wouldn't be ready for a baby to implant the month after a miscarriage. I found myself wishing those super sensitive pregancy tests didn't exist - I just didn't want to know. So I'm not pregnant.(end of the aside)

To give you an idea of these åse, I snapped a picture, which I freely admit is quite crappy. And it really just resembles a regular hill in the woods.

Further along on my tour of the åse, I saw something that brought me back to my childhood.

Who knew it was so easy to get a Super Mario power-up on a run in the Danish woods?

These guys were everywhere and if you ask any Dane, they'll go on and on about the poisonous nature of these mushrooms: one lick and your deadly fate is sealed. This particular toadstool is called Amanita muscaria. It is true that if you eat about 15, especially if they are green or yellow capped, you might die. But if you boil them, you can eat as many as you like. And I guess they taste good. SR has suggested I prepare them for my lunch some day in front of his mom just to see the reaction. It is tempting.

But then what on earth appeared among the toadstools but a Lorax, apparently proud of just having eaten a stomach full.

And then an SR to keep him out of trouble.

A day in the magical åse.

And then, since I'm talking about people "taking on" Germany, here is a song from a Danish female musician living in Berlin who is starting to make it big there. The piano part is just so haunting - I can't help shivering.

It's called Brother Sparrow by Agnes Obél.


nwgdc said...

If I remember my UW La Crosse Mycology class correctly, there are some halucinogenic properties to A. muscaria, and the story goes that some ingestion of those things led to the legend of Santa Claus being dressed in red and white and entering homes through rooftops. No, seriously!

Ewa said...

These are the prettiest mushrooms one can find in a forest. My grandmother used them to kill flies. She would sprinkle some sugar on them an flies would just love that stuff to death.
Do Danes like mushroom hunting? In Poland it is a major pastime.

I know yours is not a political blog but I cannot stop myself from commenting that I am not too crazy about the raise of intolerance I am seeing in this world, Germany, US, France...

I peeked at the mountain profile for your Oct marathon. That looks painfully steep. Gosh, you are brave.

Anonymous said...

It almost looks like your laying in a bed of poison ivy... i hope not. best of luck in germany.

mmmonyka said...

Is it common to collect mushrooms in Denmark?
Because in Slovakia everybody does that. Now is the season and my parents basically go to forests every weekend to collect mushrooms and then they dry them, or conserve them etc. When I was a kid my grandfather used to drag me out of bed at 5am on weekends because it is apparently the best time to collect mushrooms...
Actually, the green variety of the Amanita is one of the most poisonous mushrooms in Europe and America- just half a mushroom could kill an adult. I have read somewhere that 95% people who eat it die (at least in Slovakia), so please do not try it... The red one is also poisonous but deaths are pretty rare and you can eat it once you boil it in water. But I have tried it only once, at friend's house, my parents would not let me eat that:)

Good job on hills!!!

mmmonyka said...

that flies story... The name you use for Amanita in Poland has something to do with flies killing, right? Because in Slovak it is "muchotravka" which means something like "fly posion". I actually fully realized it only now when I read you comment:)

Ewa said...

Polish name is like that too muchomor, mucha meaning fly, mor - old Polish for death.

sea legs girl said...


That is hilarious about S. Claus. Muscaria is definitely not the "shroom" one takes to get high, but apparently some can exerperience mind-altering effects. Really cool that you went to UW La Crosse. I miss La Crosse - it is a beautiful city!

Ewa and mmmonyka - great stories. I am happy for some other European input here. Yeah, apparently some Danes love mushroom hunting, too. There is something really fascinating about the mushroom hunting tradition in Europe - it just goes back so many hundreds of years and there are so many myths and stories.

Anon, you are right! It certainly does look like poison ivy. I am one of the lucky 1/4 of people who have no reaction to the stuff. This will be a good (accidental) test to see if The Lorax is the same way.

Oh and by the way Ewa and Mmmonyka it's called fly agaric in English and fluesvamp in Danish (fly mushrooom). So at least everyone agrees the mushroom has something to do with flies. How nice :).

Karina said...

Hej Sealeg,
Håber det er ok jeg skriver på dansk?
Søde billeder af dig og din familie!
Jeg løb Brocken Marathon i 2007, jeg glæder mig til at læse om dine oplevelser på bjerget.
Held og lykke med de kommende løb
Kh Karina

sea legs girl said...

Jamen da selvfølgelig Karina. Sejt at du har prøvet Brocken. Tak for din besked!! Rigtig god træning og efterår til dig.

SteveQ said...

Don't ever try eating any amanita. I know someone who picked edible mushrooms and picked one "death's cap" with them, removed it from the collection and the poison just from contact was enough to kill. The local Hmong population here has at least one death per year as there's an amanita that looks like something they picked in Laos.

SteveQ said...

Oh, and I didn't delete any comment of yours. Some weird things are happening on my blog (such as picture sizes change at will).

My favorite running song right now is "I Don't Believe You" by the Thermals; I shouldn't like that band as much as I do, bbut they're a guilty pleasure.

wildknits said...

I am with Steve - amanita = poison. As my microbiology prof said "It may not kill you, but you will wish you were dead!"

Many mushrooms (poisonous) are toxic to the liver and can lead to the need for a transplant.

Why play around when so many good, edible and delectable ones exist!!

But I do love capturing photos of the amanita species. Their size is amazing!!

olga said...

Muhomor, that's the name we have for this mushroom. And we don't eat it, although mushroom hunting is the activity we invlove in since we are little. When I was growing up in Belarus, I'd go for hunt in the morning to have enough for breakfast. On the weekend - to can enough for winter. I even did it while living in NY. Even twice in OR. Miss it, and wild berry hunting...
Good luck this weekend. Lorax is very handsome.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tracy. If you come to Maglebjergræset, there's lunch at my place afterwards. Lene; Jakob and Jesper are coming. Do come!

There is another kind of the fly agaric called snowwhite fly agaric (snehvid fluesvamp). That is the deadliest one, and the one some asian people have mixed up with mushrooms with fatal results.