Photo from the 2014 Ice Age Trail 50 Miler by Ali Engin. Permission to use header photo must be obtained through Ali Elgin.

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Seeking blog advice

First, I have received an offer from a reputable website with many readers to move my blog to their platform. This would involve changing the web address and confusing everyone with a professional-looking blog. I am really happy and honored to get this offer, but wanted to ask the opinion of my readers. Should I move my blog to another platform that is not my own? I have already asked if I can keep writing about whatever I want and the answer was yes. Oh and I don't have to advertise anything.

Next, you can hear about how I accidentally just ran 39 miles. Or you can do something else.

I had 1:40 minutes for a run Friday afternoon, so I figured I had better make the most of it. I had originally planned to swim but I can barely get to the pool and get my swim gear on in that time (slight exaggeration). I went out to find the most technical, muddy trails I could find in the area and managed just over 12 miles. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon and I was thrilled with my effort and felt I earned eating SR's dad's birthday dinner.

On Saturday morning, we found ouselves in SR's parents' "summer house" on the northern coast of Denmark near the town of Nødebuhuse. Sounds idyllic, I know. But I usually end up feeling a bit trapped and annoyed with windy, rain when we are there. But this weekend was gorgeous. SR's brother and sister said they owed us for something. I can't actually remember what is was, but they said they would pay us back by watching the kids for 5 hours (!). No matter what we did for them, it was not anywhere near the worth of their offer. SR and I planned to run and then bike. I didn't know how much I had in me after the spiritual tempo the day before. SR and I ran 9 miles together and then began arguing about doctors' salaries in Denmark (SR believing doctors are payed too little, me believing the pay is fine). Anyway, we parted ways in the large forest, Tisvilde Hegn. It's the big green area between Liseleje and Tisvildeleje.



Vis stort kort

And it at times looked like this



At mile 15, I realized I had forgotten my Petit Écolier cookies. Not good. I was starving. I also was nearly out of water and figured I had a good 6-7 miles back. En route back, I saw a nice little party happening by a nice little pond. I meekly asked if I could have a little bread or someting as I was far from my destination and had forgotten my food. About 55 people looked up from their lunch and smiled curiously. Typical Danish parties would involved exactly 55 sausages and 55 corresponding buns for 55 people. I had forgotten about this. I played the clueless foreigner and they gave me a heathy-sized bun. :). There was, of course, no water because everyone had taken their own private soda. I eyed the pond with murky, still water and was feeling inclined to fill my bottle and not think more of it, but was afraid that mothers would fear that any children that had seen me would be scarred for life. I went on thirsty, though with pleanty of bread to enjoy.

I was under the impression I was on the way back to the summerhouse, but suddenly, at mile 18, the ocean was on the wong side of me. My legs were really aching and I was on the brink of death due to dehydration (or I was at least thirsty). I asked a couple where I was and a guy, who turned out to be the head of the American branch of Novo Nordisk (who of course manufacture insulin), told me I had better turn around and that I was about 9 miles from my destination. Hmmm. "Don't cry!" I told myself. Luckily he knew where some water was. I showed him my Garmin and he and his wife had to laugh at my insanity/situation. He let me use his phone, but I didn't know SR's number. I'm not what you would call mobile phone savvy. Otherwise I also might have taken one along. But I was wearing my Buff, so I at least looked cool. I waved a farewell and just hoped I wouldn't get lost again. And thought about May-Britt running the Grand Union Canal 145 mile Race in England at that very moment. 27 miles is nothing. And 39 miles in 24 hours. I couldn't help feeling a bit happy about how that sounded (btw, it appears Maj-Britt is STILL running even as I write this. Awesome!). And I also thought about how every mile would give me a better shot at beating Steve Q at Voyageur. But I also considered how Piccola Pinecone might disapprove of my junk miles.

Anyway, I felt just terrible about not getting to spend such a beautiful day with the kids and SR. And I was sure SR was worried. If only I had known his number! Alas, if only I weren't such an idiot. I was so happy to make it back and SR told me he was sure I had thrown myself into the ocean "in despair". I do hope he was joking. I assured him that if I ever threw myself into the ocean, it would only be out of utter confusion or a desire to swim.

And speaking of mulit-day running challenges, we later talked about running the Trans Rockies (http://transrockies.com/transrockiesrun/news/) (sorry, I can't get my normal link function to work at the moment) in August of 2011.

Running songs of the day: Mob by The Morning Code (For some reason this song sounded really good after 23 miles. Perhaps it will also work for one of you one day.) and Cosmic Love by Florence and the Machine

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Φοῖνιξ

No this is not a spam blog post. Just bear with me. I think I have emerged from the ashes of the Copenhagen Marathon a new runner. Somewhere over the course of the last few months, my running has become more about proving something and feeding my ego than it should be. Running is something I have turned to for many years for fun stress relief. And the way it gradually became the biggest source of stress in my life is a shame. I remember saying to SR at one point that every time I hear the beep of the garmin starting, even when I'm not about to run, I get a panic type of PTSD reaction. Don't get me wrong, I still believe in running intervals, but it doesn't have to be with so much associated stress, does it? I would be lying if I said it had nothing to do with reporting my times on the blog. It has been a motivator, but has made a bit of a monster out of me as well.

And sometimes I cheated on my old love, running. Because all of my running sessions needed to serve a purpose and were always associated with a time/times to report, I began to enjoy swimming and cycling more than running. They were my times to just be happy. Realizing my bikini line was inadequately shaven while standing at the pool edge, bright red circle imprints around my eyes from my goggles and getting a young moth stuck in the medial canthus of my eye while cycling at high speeds. These were marks of pride and moments of joy.

And maybe the reason I have run more miles barefoot than with shoes since the marathon is it is stress-free (and also because I don't notice my hip feels injured when I run barefoot).

At the start line of the Copenhagen Marathon stood two girls. They had very similar 10k, 15k and half marathon PRs. They knew each other only peripherally, yet enough to be aware of what each others' time goals were. They both set goals which were unrealistic. But it was pride that drove them to their demise. I saw the other girl after the half marathon turn around point. She had gone through the half marathon in around 1:34 and, if you've ever seen a nauseated ghost, this is how she looked. And as the other girl (me), waved to her and forced a smile, I realized I felt like she looked. We would both be forced to drop because our egos pushed us too hard.

What I have to keep reminding myself is there is a difference between proving and improving. The first is futile. I love the story of the mythological Phoenix, who bursts into flames and dies only to be born again. A bit dramatic for a DNF in the Copenhangen Marathon? Well, yes. But nothing wrong with having a new outlook. If I can't enjoy my training and racing, it's pointless. The next two races on our schedule are the 24Run relay in Holte in about 10 days and the Storbælt Naturmarathon (instead of Aabenraa. Thanks, Lars!) the week after. If nothing else, they will be fun. Especially because I get to run with this guy (yeah that's my man nearing the end of the CPH marathon):



Now if you are the first to explain the title, you get a virtual high five. Wow! So there ARE some good giveaways here once in a while.

Running Song of the Day: All the Right Moves by One Republic

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Copenhagen Marathon: Oops! I messed that one up big time.

It started Saturday morning (the day before the race). I was standing, making breakfast for the kids when I threw up onto their plates and all over the counter (then I served them vomit for breakfast. Just kidding of course). This was not some sort of viral gastroenteritis; it was just nerves.

That night we met Justin and Jackie from La Crosse, WI for dinner. Justin had been moved up to elite status in the run because his wife happened to meet the elite athlete coordinator for the marathon in their hotel lobby. We had a great dinner at Pasta Basta, but every bite I ate the more my stomach bothered me. I tried to put it out of my mind. We walked back to Justin and Jackie's hotel and, whoa, there was Colleen De Reuck, who holds the US Female Masters Marathon record of 2:28. She already knew Justin so she got introduced to SR and me and we just started talking like old friends.

After the interlude with Colleen, I began vomiting again (we were out of her sight by that point). And then all night I was holding my stomach in pain. Stupid nerves. I ended up sleeping almost 6 hours, so that was fine. But then in the morning I started having diarrhea. And I was just too nervous and sick-feeling to eat and thus also forgot to drink. By the time I was standing by the 3:15 pacer balloons with a friend from our track club, I realized I was thirsty and hadn't peed in a long time. And I had no water with me. After the first km, I was so thirsty, I started considering steeling a sip out of a water bottle from someones water belt (but of course didn't). It was so extremely crowded that it was unpleasant. By the time we got to the first aid station, it was nearly impossible to get anything to drink, but eventually I did. And then sprinted back up to the 3:15 pacers. We went through the 5k in under 23 min., so I realized they were ahead of schedule and likely going for official 3:15 time and not chip time, which would be about a 3:13 time for those who started with them.

To make a long story short, I kept the 3:15 balloons in my sight through the half marathon, which I ran in 1:38. But every moment of the race was torture. I felt sick and dehydrated. I ate two of the gels and they tasted terrible. My music annoyed me. Other runners annoyed me. The running surface annoyed me. I was not having fun at all. I started to feel dizzy and very tired. My muscles were cramping and I didn't know if I could make it to the next aid station for fluid before I fainted. I ran mile 15 at over a 9 min/mile pace and there was no aid station in sight. I could not go on. I walked off the course and it was a huge relief. But then I leaned against a wall and started crying. It was also a huge disappointment. I guy who dropped out just ahead of me saw me and gave me a hug. He said his name was Hans Andersen and he was from Australia but born in Denmark. He reminded me that at least I didn't fly all the way from Australia to run the race. I reminded him that we had at least just gotten a good 16 mile training run.

I walked back to the start/finish which was luckily just 1 km away. I saw the first place man (from Aarhus Denmark) come in in 2:20 and then there was my old buddy Colleen just 10 minutes behind. Justin was disappointed with his 2:32 finish and 11th place. And SR was also disappointed with his 2:49, but it WAS a PR. We ended up leaving right away after that, both feeling terrible. So I didn't even get to congratulate anyone else. I'm sorry I missed Mette (who I talk about all the time). She DID get under 3 hours and took 5th for the women.

Well, it's back to the drawing board for me. I'm sure part of my problem was that I started out too fast, but with the dehydration, I have trouble knowing how fast to start next time. At least my legs aren't sore and I can resume regular training again. There will be more races and in fact, the 24hour relay run is in just two weeks and the the Aabenraa mountain marathon is in just three weeks. I think I will just have to refrain from categorizing anything as a target race from now on if it's going to result in a DNF! So, yes, my first (and hopefully last) DNF.

Thank you to everyone for your comments and advice. It meant a lot to me. And even if nothing helped me on this run, I'm sure it will come in handy in the future. To Piccola Pinecone: I'm sorry this makes it difficult to determine who won the contest as everyone was infinitely far from my actual time :).

Friday, 21 May 2010

Copenhagen Marathon Preview

It has been a beautiful week to discover Denmark by bike. (these pictures probably mean very little to my readers, but I see these places over and over and this week they are absolutely gorgeous).

Between Ronnebæk and Næstelsø

This is a field of raps, which is grown to make cooking oil.

Between Mogenstrup and Lov


This was the second real taper of my life (the first was before the 50 miler in 2008). Mostly because of my Tri club, it wasn't that bad. And I just kept telling myself to pretend I was injured. Okay, that wasn't that easy.

But now I am more than ready to run. I went a little 1 mile sprint today and my legs felt like butter.

Yes, it's the Copenhagen Marathon on Sunday. 12,311 registered runners as of right now. I've never run a big city marathon. I am a countryside runner at heart. The one "city" marathon I've run was the Lakefront Marathon in Milwaukee in 2005. I told absolutely no one (besides very essential people) I was running it, didn't taper at all, and didn't specifically train for it. My plan was to run it in 4:20, since I tended to run a 10 minute per mile pace, but had only ever run 20 miles once and that was the max. I am not sure what happened that day, but I ran it in 3:43 and had so much extra energy at the end that I was angry with myself for not pushing harder. I just hope I get that same sort of unexpected energy again on Sunday.

So it's 5 years and a heck of a lot of training later. I could say that all I want from this race is to have fun, which is true, but to me having fun is fighting, with myself and the other ladies (and men) out there. And hoping they are jealous by how fast I run and how good I look in my shorts. Yes, it's all part of the fun :). And I can't wait to run a race with so many people I know. What joy to see them all at the finish line.

Timing

How fast am I going to run it? Well, I am going to go out with the 3:15 (total time) pacers (that is just under 7:30 min/mile, 4:37 min/km). It's faster than I think I can run it. But, I don't want to think afterwards "Oooh, if only I had tried to run a little faster". But anything under my previous PR of 3:27 will make me happy.

Food/drink

Well, I considered wearing a water belt, but it just seems too bulky. And I decided not to do this because of Piccola Pinecone's luck with short walking breaks. So I am praying they have sports drink and not just water. I am going to carry 1 gel. I wish I could carry more, but they are Maxim's and have a cap that makes them big, so only one will fit in my shorts pocket.

Attire

I wanted to wear a Herlufsholm (my track club) jersey, but I haven't bought one yet and I honestly can't figure out how to. So I am going to wear a white and gray Montrail sleeveless jersey, provided by Olga. I have been growing out my armpit hair for weeks now so I can wear a sleeveless shirt to the marathon and not have chafing.

Music

Need to work on my list. Suggestions are ALWAYS welcomed.

SR

What an exciting race for him. He is of course going for a PR, too. Perhaps as low as 2:40. He is very light and fast now, so who knows what kind of pace he'll have. And he has no pacers to follow. He has talked all week about how nervous he is about not getting out to the front of the pack. There is no elite group at Copenhagen Marathon, otherwise I imagine he could qualify.

Misc.

And speaking of people who could qualify as elite, our friend Justin is vising us from the US and he has run a marathon in 2:26 and was in the elite group at Boston last year, so he is certainly going for a top 5. We are having dinner with him, his wife and son at Pasta Basta tomorrow night. It will be good to spend time with someone who is perhaps more nervous than me. I also want to wish Henriette, Mette, Helle and Tina a great race and I will look for you all after the race.

Fun Fact

In the 1981 Copenhagen Marathon, the first place female was from the USA and won with a time of 3:16:26. So does that mean I've got a shot? :)

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Why run without shoes when one has perfectly good shoes?

This, to me, is the fundamental weird thing about barefoot running. Like are we all suddenly orphans in a 3rd world country? It is one of those things that deserves a place on the list of stuff white people like. And it makes me think of the schizophrenic woman I used to live next door to in Madison. She walked around barefoot on the ice in -24F, etc, and I had little desire to follow her example. But maybe there is something to running barefoot. Although, I have to admit, when people talk about the theory behind barefoot running, I tend to not pay attention. But that doesn't mean I'm not curious.

I have principally been introduced to barefoot running through BAB and "Tony". I gave it a try a couple of weeks ago. I was on a run with SR and it was raining and just above freezing and we were running on a gravel path and I thought, there could be no worse time to try out barefoot running, so I did, of course. And it royally sucked. The "you have got to be kidding me" kind of sucking. When I removed my shoes, what I did next could by no stretch of the imagination be called running. It was screaming and grimacing while tiptoeing. I was so happy to put my sore feet in the warm embrace of my Mizunos again.

But today something clicked in my narrowly-shaped head. It's a beautiful day and I have to run and pick up The Lorax on smooth bike paths and I FEEL like running barefoot.

Barefoot running has a slew of positives and negatives

The negatives

Glass shards
tacks
gravel
urine
dog "doodoo"
tetanus
exposes my ugly feet
fear makes speedwork difficult
(commenters feel free to fill in more)

The positives

can be written about on a blog
incredulous looks from passersby
feels cool on a warm day
more "natural" running style (debatable if you spend the entire time holding back in fear)
Something new to try
cuts down on sock laundry
feet become less sensitive?

Well, now I'm off on my experiment...

Hi. I'm back. I really did just leave and come back.

Pre-run feet (crossing my fingers nothing bad happens to these before the Copenhagen Marathon!)

Friendly surfaces:

I have to say, it felt AWESOME to run here barefoot.

All was going well. A couple little irritating stones that stuck to my feet, but nothing slowed me down too much. I quickly learned that all that glitters is not glass.

But then, ow!, wait that WAS glass. I looked up to see this sign.

"Glarmester" that means "glassmaster" actually glas means glass, but so does glar. But Glarmesters mostly make windows and other things out of glass. Anyway, they use glass in their planters in front of their building. Note to self to use the other side of the sidewalk next time. I just hope no glass/glar got stuck in my foot.

Then I ran into a woman from my track club who was really fascinated and said she had seen a barefoot marathoner at the Rome marathon.

Halfway point. God, this was fun!

Now barefoot with baby jogger. A little boy asks "hvad laver du?" (what are you doing?) "Jeg løber" (I am running). Then I had to buy some groceries. The outdoor market was closed. I am not sure if it is legal to buy groceries without shoes in Denmark. But there were no signs. Barefoot Angie Bee is thinking, okay, running barefoot is not the same as shopping barefoot. But I was so happy without shoes that I couldn't get myself to put my shoes on (I did have a pair along). Let's just say I got my groceries hurried out of Qvikly after 50 weird looks.

And the end! 3 miles without (apparent) injury and I was a happier girl. I am hooked. As long as one has fairly smooth surfaces and no need to do speed work, barefoot running is really fun. And what more reason does one need than that?

Monday, 17 May 2010

A day of good news

Sometimes a bunch of good things happen in a row. And today, that is exactly what happened. Of course I felt like I should be punished for forgetting to wash The Lorax's face, waking Natali up too late and then parking illegally.

First, I was invited byHelle to join their "super group" of women runners in the 24 hour run in Holte, Denmark from June 5th-6th. I got the confirmation today that I'm in. We are 6 women who have to divide up the 24 hours of running as strategically as we can between us. My dear friend Henriette is also on the team. Plus we are sponsored by Kaiser Sport (it is insane how excited I get about free technical running gear). I guess we're officially going for the win. I can't wait!

Then I received a letter at work saying I had received 25.000 kr. towards my research project from a foundation in Copenhagen. And not two minutes later, I opened my work mail and found a scanned letter saying I had received permanent authorisation to work as a physician in Denmark, and thus the rest of Europe. So YES! all done with those medical tests! I have already started receiving recruitment letters from small towns in Norway and Sweden desperate for doctors. Ahhh, dreaming is fun.

When I got home, I found this in the mail.



Oh, running socks from Piccola Pinecone and a good luck card for the Copenhagen Marathon. I got tears in my eyes. Not a lucky day, but a good day. Some people would buy a lottery ticket, but not me. I think about the people that made it good and marvel.

Remember to take time to stop and really smell the tulips.



Sunday, 16 May 2010

Getting a life?

I admit I am slightly single-minded at times. When one not only thinks but dreams too much about running (ie waking up after a nightmare that I am caught behind someone slow at a race), perhaps the obsession has gone too far.

I've started tapering for the Copenhagen Marathon so I decided to do a combined swim-bike with my Herlufsholm Tri-Club. I was really nervous about it since I've never been on a cycle ride with anyone but SR (but I mean, come on, I need to get a life outside of my house, my retinal photography room and my running routes!). We did a 45-50 minute fairly intense swim followed by a 45km bike ride in the cold rain. I loved it. It was one of those mornings where I repeated over and over in my head "yes, today I am alive and this is my life". I cycled most of the time with a Danish woman veterinarian, who is currently living in Liverpool, but is moving back to Næstved. We had such a great time, despite the fact that it was embarrassing for me to be the slow one. And then I got a flat and didn't have an inner tube along and didn't know how to change the tube Sif had along. Luckily the head of our club, Stig, came to the rescue. What a cool aspect of cycling, though, that you have to be a repair woman. Despite Sif living in Liverpool, it was much easier for us to understand each other in Danish. The midwest American accent is just too much for a Dane to handle when they're expecting my words to come out in British. I had to actually spell "Trans Alpine" before she could understand what I was saying. It's those "a's". Anyway. I could get into this Tri thing and I had better if I am seriously going to do an Ironman this August.

SR and I had another great non-running experience this weekend. Our little city, Næstved, turns 875 this year. And this of course deserves a little musical celebration. We saw probably the biggest-name musician in Denmark right now who sings in Danish, Rasmus Seebach. Anyone can clearly see from my flag counter that most of my readers come from the US, so most people who read this will never have heard of him. Living in the US, it is extremely hard to be exposed to music sung in a foreign language. And Rasmus Seebach will never be famous outside of Scandinavia as long as he keeps singing in Danish. But that is also part of his charm. Once one gets over the fact that he is a tall and awkward man, one can't help falling in love with his perfect-pitched voice, often in falsetto, and his sincerity. He is a real talent, who came out of nowhere at age 30, not breaking any musical barriers, but writing beautiful and melodious pop songs. A great concert experience I'd recommend to anyone.

Now, for all of the runners, who are sick of my asides, three fun things have come to my attention in the past few days. First Kim and Andy Holak from the midwestern US have developed a series of stage races, the first in August of 2010 in Minnesota, US. Each year they will have a race at the which covers around 100 miles over 5 days. We will not be there this year, but perhaps in one of the coming years. Maybe it's something for you. http://queststageraces.weebly.com/the-races.html. Second, they also arrange adventure running trips to many places in the world, including one of my favorite places, Lago de Atitlán in Gautemala. You can find more info about their trips here http://www.adventurerunningco.com/toursraces.html.

Third, I was sent an email link from Ellen Zapato to an article in London's The Times about how women's athleticism often improves after childbirth. They discuss everything from how women used to be told to never run more than one mile a day while pregnant to women in East Germany who used to get pregnant and then have an abortion just to benefit from the increased haemoglobin from their pregnancy. It's really an interesting read. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/features/article6831281.ece (thanks, Ellen!)


Bike riding song of the day: Tel 'Em by Sleigh Bells

Thursday, 13 May 2010

You look good in those shorts

What is the greatest compliment one can pay a runner?

1. "You are fast" (no comparisons or specifications, just straight-out)
2. "You're so talented"
3. "I can't believe that you could run that fast" (okay, now I'm getting silly)
4. "Nice technique"
5. "Nice genes"
6. "Nice jeans"
7. "You've really improved"
8. "You look really happy"
9. "You've got a nice ass!"

Well, if it's just a superficial conversation a "you are fast" is always nice, albeit meaningless. I have for a long time had a dream of running a race in jeans, so I would hope to get #6 in the event that does occur. But honestly, of all of them, I'd take #9. I mean, come on, I can't be the only person who hopes that their ass looks impressive as they pass someone in a race. So I'm not sure if that says more about how important it is to feel one has a nice ass or how hard it is to find a compliment for a runner. Except for one, which is my favorite and which I didn't mention but will return to in a moment.

Sandhya asked how I have gotten to the point of running such fast mile intervals. Well, as many of you are aware of, my answers are rarely simple. First of all, I believe that inside of every human (who is capable of running) is a fast runner. Everyone for a moment, please, forget the idea of genetics and realize that if you want to run fast at short or long distances that you can. The question is how hard or easy it is for each of us to access this fast person. And no, I don't think I've accessed my true fast potential yet, but I am getting closer.

We all have different starting points on that day we call ourselves "a runner". And no, I am not talking about "talent" or "genes", I am talking about general physical condition as a result of previous exercise, weight and self-confidence. All of these play an enormous roll when one becomes "a runner" in comparison to anything written in our chromosomes. I will just go out on a limb here and say that anyone who is considered to be an extremely talented runner as an adult has run (or practiced some endurance sport at a high level) since childhood. I challenge any of you to find an exception to this. Classically people who think they will never be a fast runner because that is just they way they are built/made/created are people who did not have regular exercise in childhood and young adulthood and take running up after age 25 to get in shape. These people have a lot of ground to make up. And yes, it will take years (but they can of course get there)! How can I convince everyone that all talk about genetics, supplements, high-protein other fad diets, gear, etc. is all meaningless in comparison to being at a light weight and in excellent cardiovascular condition? (not that genetics and gear should generally be categorized together)

Now back to the question. So, before I started doing any sort of speedwork, I had already run a 5k in 19:20, a 10k in 42:40 and an 80k in under 9 hours. And to get to this point it took years and years of pushing myself in running and other sports. But then it was weird. Last fall I started getting slower. And I had a huge crisis. But I identified two people who I thought were such amazing and inspirational runners: May-Britt and Mette. SR thinks I am jealous of them. But I assure you, my feelings are much more constructive than this. When I see them run, I think to myself, "that is how I want to run" and I believe I can. The biggest hurdle after getting in good physical condition and believing one can be fast is finding a training program. And this was all new to me this past fall. It is SR's training program I have been following consisting of 3 key runs a week: intervals, 1 tempo and a relatively fast long run. All other running is junk and should be decreased (in all of my restlessness I've become much better at swimming, cycling and yoga).

When I started running intervals, I could not for the life of me get myself to even complete 6 x 1 mile. I would do 2 miles in just over 7 minutes each and be toast. So part of getting to the point of doing consistently fast intervals has been learning to control myself to the point where I can make it through all 6 with a consistently fast effort. Once I got to that point, I averaged around 7:25 per mile. Since that time, I have just gradually gotten faster and faster. And am now at a 6:40 average.

So now, back to the greatest compliment one can pay a runner, well, it must be "you inspire me". Why do I always get so sappy? Anyway, thank you Olga, Meghan Hicks, Helen Lavin, Piccola Pinecone, Mette, May-Britt and most of all my husband SR. You guys have inspired me!

Running song of the day: sometimes a song comes of out the crypts to surprise you (thanks Steve Q) Ça plane pour moi by Plastic Bertrand

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Dirty Times = Fast Times

The Danes (and residents) are dealing with cold, windy rain today. It being such a tiny country, at least we know we're all suffering together. Today my goal was 6 x 1 mile intervals all under 7 minutes. It felt strange to be wearing a hat and gloves on May 12th. The French would call weather like this "dirty times" (du sale temps) and there is something about that saying that makes experiencing it a little more bearable.

I felt unbelievably good today. I have lost almost 1 kg since the last interval session a week ago and, boy, did it make a difference.

Mile 1: 6:34
Mile 2: 6:36 (removal of long-sleeved shirt, hat and gloves remain)
Mile 3: 6:33
Mile 4: 6:47
Mile 5: 6:43
I didn't feel like I had it in me to run the last mile at under 7 into the wind. I couldn't find another woman runner to battle. No one was running today. So I relied on Apples In Stereo yet again to help me through with "Dance Floor".
Mile 6: 6:49!

This is my fastest and most consistent interval session to date. I am so pleased. It is the last speed work I'll do before Copenhagen Marathon.

Running Song of the Day (also happens to be French): Désolé by Sexion D'Assaut

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

P-Wave

As I was running home from yoga, I made up my mind to give up on the whole pregnancy test thing for a while. I mean, there was no rush. If I were pregnant, the little pink line wouldn't go away. And plus, I realized I was trying to use my possible pregnancy as an excuse to run slower. But if I were pregnant, would I even necessarily run slower? I had wondered about doing intervals while pregnant. It wasn't something I tried during my first pregnancy (during that pregnancy I just ran a lot of miles). There was no reason for me to believe it was dangerous to run fast. But it's natural to fear what one doesn't know. But Sarah sent me a link to this NY Times article about Kara Goucher and Paula Radcliffe meeting in the morning while pregnant to do tempo runs and hill repeats. I have to admit I smiled when I read this. Then I read this sentence from a Dr. Mona Shangold: "I don’t know it’s safe for high-level marathon runners to run at that level during pregnancy". Well, what in life are we ever 100% sure of? Are we sure that NO running is safe? Well, in fact, it has been shown that some running is safer than no exercise at all. Anyway, I know Dr. Shangold is well-meaning, but why do pregnant women always have to be afraid they're doing something wrong because it's "never been shown to be safe"?

Back at home, standing in the kitchen talking with SR about our days, I had this nagging urge to check my underwear status. Yes, the p-wave. Most consider the p-wave atrial activity on an ekg, but we consider it our code word for "the period". And what about all the symptoms? Well, I guess the back aches were just pre-menstrual and the nausea was perhaps just hunger with this crash diet I'm on. But it's amazing what one can convince themselves of when trying to get pregnant. I had actually already decided I was having a girl and that every time The Lorax had a crying fit it was because he was jealous of the baby he alread sensed. Well, back in the land of sane thoughts, this means Copenhagen Marathon unburdened by a morula of a baby, a break from pregnancy sticks, and an interval session tomorrow with no excuses.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Can't keep a level head

It is nearly unbelievable I am going to write the following on the internet, but if there are other OCD control freaks out there like me, perhaps you will realize you are not alone. The rest of you can just enjoy a laugh at my expense.

Yesterday was kind of a weird day. I rode the train with the kids to Copenhagen and was plagued by such an extreme nausea that I questioned whether or not SR and I could go on our planned run. The planned run was the family championships, involving SR, his dad, his brother, his uncle and me. One could either run one or two times around Bagsværd Lake (4.1 miles for one time) and we compared times. My warm-up run with SR once around the lake didn't feel so good, but my tempo 2x around the lake felt awesome. I got a personal record for the endeavor with a time of just over 62 minutes for 8.2 miles on a pretty hilly at times technical route (involving many small dogs prone to attacking).

When am I getting to the good part? I woke up several times at night due to nausea. What on earth could this be besides pregnancy? The first stores here open at 9 am and since there was nothing big going on with my project, I left to buy a pregnancy test. I took it at the store. Oh, I'm now one day late for my period, by the way. And it was just completely blank. No control line or anything. So the test was a dud? I went and got my money back and bought a new one (these are packs of two and she wouldn't let me keep the unused one from the first pack). I came home and took it. This time there was no control line, but the pregnancy line was red. I took the third test. This time a BARELY visible control line and no pregnancy line. WTF? It was all too much. Were these just all faulty tests (unfortunately they only had one kind at Bilka). I drove out again, this time to a store called Kvikly, and took another test. This one was clearly negative. But what if my urine was just too dilute and that's why the first three didn't work? I called SR at work "I know I'm pregnant! What's wrong with these tests?" I was crying... So I went on a run over lunch hour and then just took another test. Negative.

Well, I'm sick of it. I'm sick of thinking about it and worrying about it. The most frustrating is trying to fathom whether or not all these symptoms are induced by my own imagination. Ok, on to thinking about other things (I hope).

Sunday, 9 May 2010

An old picture

I'm suffering from terrible nausea and backpain. And since it's Sunday in Europe, there are no stores open, so that means no wasting money on a pregnancy test. Here is an old photo I was just sent by my sister. She is the little blondie and you can probably find me on the other side of our mom. Don't ask about my right hand.



Happy mother's day!

Friday, 7 May 2010

No More Mrs. Nice Mom

I've decided it's time to concentrate less on caring for my kids and more on my running and weight loss. (How much is SLG joking this time?, you ask)

Have I enjoyed too many wonderfully-prepared meals with the kids and strayed too far from my own OCD eating habbits? What IS it that stops a person from getting faster when they continue to train hard? Have I reached the limit of my talent? Or did I just have a bad day?

I ran intervals on Wednesday. The first mile was in 6:29 and felt good. But then the second, which was uphill and into the wind was 6:46. The time in itself wasn't so bad, it was just that it felt so extremely hard! I had to pull off into the woods, with tears in my eyes and take a long break. I was so nauseated. It reminded me of when I started doing intervals last fall. It wasn't fun anymore. The third mile was in 6:35. Again, the time itself wasn't bad, but I was miserable. The fourth was very slow in 6:58. Ew. Why did my legs feel fast, but the rest of my body just feel like crap? I was so nauseated and tired. A week before my expected period, I couldn't even claim possible pregnancy as an excuse, or PMS for the matter. Number 5 mile interval in 6:54. But I was done. I couldn't suffer anymore. I gave up, one interval short of my goal. If I had just continued to do one more, I could have been on par with my fastest intervals ever. But I didn't have it in me.

I wanted an excuse so badly that I broke my own rule and took a pregnancy test before my missed period and it was, of course, negative. There is just nothing worse than being fat, slow, nauseated and NOT pregnant.

So what has happened? One thing that fascinates me with speed work is finding the limiting factor. Though I claim to be a scientist who is interested in running, this is a subject I struggle with. I don't think the limiting factor was my legs. But it was more this general feeling that I couldn't do more. So I had to wonder if it was my weight. My weight has crept up in the last few months, though I am not convinced it is bad. I think it is muscle and has a least led me to be a faster swimmer and cyclist. And I did the first pull-up in my life the other day. But one of my two main goals for the Copenhagen Marathon is to lose 1-2 kg, while continuing the same intense training and hopefully not losing muscle. The other under-appreciated factor in fast running, is simply believing you can run fast. Along this line, Emily Pease pointed a study out to me that found that simply believing you have good vision, improves your vision. http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/58682/title/Vision_gets_better_with_the_right_mind-set

So are these smart plans for a Copenhagen Marathon PR?

1. Lose 1-2 kg
2. Continue current training with big taper the week before
3. Regularly bask in the glory of my speed

And no more fun and games.


Totally unrelated #1: Was excited to get a reader from Saudi Arabia the other day, but then realized they found my blog by searching for "lactating tit girl". I hope they found what they were looking for. Isn't that also how you found my blog, Steve Q? (hehe... giving you a hard time just never gets old)

Totally unrelated #2: on a scale of 1-10, how annoyed are you by the band Owl City (10: most annoyed)?

Running songs of the day: Swim Until You Can't See Land by Frightened Rabbit, Lewis Takes off his Shirt by Owen Pallett (both great for long, lonely runs in the rain)

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The comfort zone

In order to become good at something, one has to consistently push themself outside of their comfort zone. And for once, I'm not writing about running. But about a deep personal frustration with my domestic "abilities".

Despite being a mother of a 2 year old and a full time step mom of a 9 year old, I often think I can get away with acting like a 19 year-old. Somewhere between my teenage years and my current life as a 30 year old wife and a mom, I missed that whole growing up and taking responsibility phase. A little embarrassing for a soon-to-be MD, PhD, ultramarathoner to admit. But I have always been good at pushing myself in academics and fitness, since I perceived those as important. However, when it comes to cooking and cleaning, my life is in shambles. When I got to college and I had never done laundry, washed dishes or even learned to how use a wash cloth, all my friends thought it was funny, but they also assumed I'd learn. Well, let's just say, I learned to barely get by taking care of myself, but when I was thrown into this motherhood of two and wife to crazy-busy physician and full time physician myself, I was not prepared.

I started this blog, Sea Legs Girl, to show people (including myself) that they should not be afraid of becoming a new person or of leaving the security of old habits behind. Just because I have spent a lifetime being a horrendous and lazy cleaner and generally unsuccessful cook, doesn't mean I can't change!

This blog is principally still going to document my journey to becoming the fastest female ultra runner in the world, but is now also going to document from time to time my domestic battles. And maybe even a domestic PR from time to time.

First I would like to document what happened when I decided to take control of the hidden and not-so-hidden "dust" in the living room:



Next, I had an idea for organizing our bedroom. This in "the running shelf", which I bought used at a bazaar. It is dedicated to running clothing, so we don't have to be digging through all of our other clothing to find the important stuff. My goal is that this will all eventually be clothing of a technical fabric nature, but that may require winning lots of races or running many races with Olga, assuming she'll continue to pass the same amount of clothing on to me :).

Finally, Natali had a friend over for dinner last night and I asked her friend what she liked to eat and the first thing she said was "spaghetti". Sounds easy enough, right? Well, I had never even attempted it before. Just to be clear, on those rare occasions that I do cook, I generally prepare Asian food. And I NEVER prepare meat, with the one exception of fish. But then, I found myself wondering if I really should embarrass Natali and get even more of a reputation as the crazy step mom or if I should just learn to make the stupid spaghetti. So I made it. And it had meat in it. Just to be clear, had it just been The Lorax I was preparing for, I never would have made meat, but Natali is old enough to have developed eating habits long before she met me, so I try not to give her too hard of a time, preferring that she most of all be happy. Not only did I make the spaghetti, but I did something else that is completely contrary to my food preparation beliefs, which is peeling. Yes I peeled the carrots, since Natali won't eat them unpeeled. After months of her not eating my carrots because they weren't peeled, I finally gave in. (Just as an aside, I would always leave the peels on believing that all kids exposed to the small amounts of bacteria and dirt, etc. benefit from having less allergies and acid reflux as an adult, due to this slow and safe development of their immune-system).

Here are the carrot peels.


Here are the happy kids eating spaghetti and a mother behind the camera claiming her first domestic PR.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Race report: “forårs-klassikeren” i Valbyparken 15k with baby jogger


Wow. Look at that blistering speed.

Lorax's 2.5 km run stats:

Distance before first stop: .2 km
Total Distance: .5 km
Place/Finish Time: DNF


At some point he realized it would be more fun and efficient to by carried by me running than running himself. I regret even offering that now.

I (honestly) tried to put the Garmin on him before the start, so I could analyze his race and discuss strategy with him afterwards, but he wasn't crazy about the heavy thing around his wrist (or ankle). Maybe it's time to upgrade to a lighter Garmin ;). Or time to upgrade the mom.

Here was the kid's race start line:

After a half an hour regrouping, we got in the very large start line. I think I heard then announcer say there were 600 participants. With a baby jogger, I could not rationalize starting near the front. But I knew this would shortly mean a big headache for me.

Here is The Lorax, mentally preparing, seconds before we embark.


When the gun went off, it was ages until we made it up to the start. Then I started my garmin (you better believe I was going for a baby jogger PR). I was running at an uncomfortably slow pace, so I went around the crowd onto uncut grass and hills, looking like a completely insane power mom, making my way up to the front. When I got off the grass and into an opening, I ran at about a 6:45 mile pace just to pass people and get to a place where I could run my comfortable pace. One girl came up to me after the race and said, "Da jeg så dig kom forbi, troede jeg, det var løgn." (Literally, "when I saw you come by, I thought it was a lie".)

And then after 1.5 k, the unthinkable happened: The Lorax undid his straps and stood up in the baby jogger. He started gesturing to me he wanted out. I screamed at him, "Sæt dig ned!" about 30 times, before he finally did sit himself down.

The first 5k was on flat paved roads, without any major hills. And just before the 5k mark, The Lorax fell asleep. My 5k split was 23:20. Not amazing, but okay. I could see there was a woman close behind me, who I continued to gap, but I figured she would be back to bother me. Other than her, I couldn't see any other women right next to me. The next 5k involved a more serious hill, but boy can you fly when you come back down with a jogger. 10k split was 46:50.

Then it got complicated. There was a confusing sign and I stopped and asked for directions, thinking everyone around me was off course. Then we started running on a gravel path into the wind. I had trouble keeping up my pace. And next came the part that I thought was a lie: 15 stairs! Boy am I glad I swim so much, because arm strength was sure helpful as I hoisted the now awake Lorax in his stroller up those babies. This was also the point where the girl who had been close behind me caught up. I tried to catch back up to her, but up next was a gravel path up a very steep hill. Wow. This was hard. My pace slowed a lot in the last 5k, but The Lorax stayed calm and pointed out cars, flowers and birds. Through my music, I realized a guy was trying to talk to me. He had been behind me for quite a while and though he was excited about conversing, I was way too breathless, but did my best. He eventually pulled ahead. The head wind in gravel slowed me down too much.

The end couldn't come too soon, but it finally did in 72:20 (and my Garmin's distance was once again almost exactly on 9.33 miles!). 9 minutes slower than my actual PR, but a definite baby jogger PR! :) I'll take PRs any way I can. Honeslty, I was just relieved The Lorax lasted the entire distance, without launching himself into Kalveboderne bay.

It was a beautiful route and really fun experience. The weather was perfect. And I had lots of fun chatting with strangers. Though the conversation after the race with the guy I had run with ended abruptly when he asked about my summer plans and I mentioned my husband. Oh, well.

We stayed for the awards ceremony and they announced the first 15k female ran in 59 something. Wow! But then another woman shouted out "No, that was a man!" Ooops.

I would say what place I got, but I actually don't know since the results aren't up yet.

The beautiful start/finish:



Lorax imitating big inflatable bug:



Happy mother and son:


Running song of the day: Fight for this Love by Cheryl Cole.
Lyrics: below average
Voice: average
Strange soft bongos: the best!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

The 6 minute 1/4 mile

The Lorax and I just went for a warm up for his race tomorrow. He is going to be running the 2.5k child run at Forårs-Klassikeren in Valby. After his race, I will run either the 10 or 15k race with him in the baby jogger. The distance I choose will largely depend on his mood. Natali has plans with a friend and SR will be working, so I thought this would be a good way to have fun with him and do some speedwork. I promise at least a few photos.

But can a just-barely 2 year old honestly run a 2.5k? I doubt it. Or maybe some could. Okay, The Lorax loves to run, but he is just so small and easily distracted. On our one tour around the track today, he must have stopped and said "hva' det?" 15 times about little rocks. I mean 6 minutes for one tour around the track, probably means an over the time limit for him. But maybe he'll sense the competition and get his act together.

Baby Jogger Racing

So the World Record in running a marathon with a baby jogger is held by Zac Freudenburg, who ran in 2:32:10 this past December, barely outrunning the previous world record holder, Mike Wardian, who tried to race Freudenberg for the prestigious title, but ended up a couple minutes behind. But what we all really care about is the FEMALE record in this event... does anyone know?

Miwok 100k

This huge race is of course going on in California today and I had to laugh when I read the live update: "Tony Krupicka just arrived at the start with Jen Shelton." What is this, the Oscars? I was hoping for an update on who Helen Lavin arrived with, but no such luck. Live updates here:http://www.ultralive.net/cil.php

Running Song of the Day: Belly of June by Horse Feathers