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

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

I never expected to have to write this

Yesterday morning, I woke up to a nightmare. Blood everywhere. Not spotting. Not that little pregnancy bleeding, which can be normal. But the kind that means it's over. I screamed and cried at 6am blaming myself and the stupid race. Why? WHY did I do it? SR persisted in saying it wasn't the race, but I wouldn't believe him. I needed to blame myself and I needed to blame something. But SR reminded me I was blaming something without any proof, just as I've always warned against. But even he probably suspected the race.

We went to the hospital. Not because I thought they could DO something, but because I thought we could get an explanation. Why had the pregnancy lines never gotten really clear on the pregnancy tests? Why had something seemed wrong to me from the beginning? Why, when I had told everyone in real life about the pregnancy, had I called it "positive pregnancy tests"?

We were taken to the ultrasound suite and I started screaming in terror. I couldn't stand the thought of seeing a heartbeat and knowing it would stop inside of me. But what we saw was MUCH, much better. In fact, it made so much sense. The fetus had stopped growing at 3 weeks gestation, so about 2-3 weeks ago. My body still thought I was pregnant, but there was just a 4mm gestational sack with nothing visible inside. So it wasn't the race and it wasn't my fault. It had stopped "existing" , or at least growing, long before. My body was just finally getting rid of it.

This is an intrauterine fetal demise. And is noted much more frequently now that there are ultrasounds. They just used to be categorized under the blanket term miscarriage. And 1/3 of pregnancies that make it to the stage of giving a positive pregnancy test will be lost. And, as the OB-GYN explained, it was either due to a genetic defect or a problem with the supply from the uterine lining.

I could handle this, much more so than I could handle guilt, but a miscarriage is a huge emotional and physical event. First physically, I went through quite a lot of back pain, but when everything was finally out of my body, it was a matter of less than an hour and my uterus was back to normal size and my shortness of breath was gone and I felt more energetic and clear-minded. SR was actually the one who remarked that my face was suddenly thinner. I had woken up that morning coexisting with an organism, my body larger in many ways to accommodate this, and going to sleep small and just an individual again. I had never guessed how quickly this would all occur. SR and I were so lucky to be alone with each other so we could share our grief and let go of the many expectations we had together. And that is, of course, the hardest part, provided you can avoid blaming yourself.

And I don't blame myself. I certainly am glad to know that the fetus was dead or had at least stopped growing long before the run. And though I attempt to look back and remember what I was doing when it was 3 weeks gestation, that achieves nothing. I only have a vague sense that my diet should have been better and that I should have been taking prenatal vitamins. We just actually had tried NOT to get pregnant that month, so it all came as a surprise. But when we try again, which won't be next month since the lining of the uterus is just too unsafe of an environment to try to grow a baby for a least a month after a miscarriage, I will simply continue to try to live healthy and exercise and really not change much except for my diet, which I am always working on anyway.

SR and I are thankfully now at peace with what happened and know it simply happens 1/3 of the time. I am also really thankful that my family and SR's family have been very supportive and there has certainly been no blaming, though it helps everyone to know it happened long before the run.

I believe women should be open about miscarriage (obviously) just to avoid holding guilt or fear inside and I will be happy to answer anyone's questions or even answer emails if there is anyone who wants to chat.

Otherwise life is pretty much back to normal here.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Voyageur 50 Mile Race - More fun when pregnant

Let’s start at the beginning: we arrived in Carlton, MN, pop. 810. At 4pm Friday night to find Carlton Daze in full swing. This is there fest of the summer, which includes a 5k run Friday night and the Voyageur 50 mile run Saturday. We didn’t expect there to be Kenyans. But SR was quick to spot him. He would not be running the 50 miler, but the 5k SR was signed up for. I laughed and thought SR was joking, but..

These are pictures from Friday night, the evening before Voyageur. Carlton is just south of Duluth, for those not familiar with the area.
SR starts out with a smile.
But is soundly beaten by Sammy Korir, who ran the 5k as a practice run in a time of just over 14 minutes. Here were the first three men with Korir in the middle. SR ended up taking fourth with a time of 16:32, which he was quite pleased with on a nearly 90 degree night.

Later that night, I had my standard pre-ultra panic attack, this time my problem was my S-caps hadn’t arrived in the mail and we couldn’t find anywhere that sold them. They told us at the packet pick-up that there wouldn’t be S-caps at the aid stations, so I started freaking out. Especially if it were going to be near 90 Fahrenheit.

But I calmed down as we, just like last year, ate dinner at the Indian Palace in Duluth. We went to bed at 10 and I slept almost 8 hours. That is one great thing about being pregnant: when you lay down to sleep, you sleep. For someone who constantly has trouble sleeping, this is wonderful. Or maybe it was just my continued jetlag.

We made it to the race 20 minutes before the start and, yay, there was Helen Lavin greeting everyone. She came up and gave me a big hug, like a good old friend. It was so nice to hear her beautiful Irish accent again. AND she had a baggy filled with S-caps and she gave me the whole thing for the race. Now I was really ready. Thanks, Helen!

There were actually a bunch of people who welcomed me and they were all wondering how they all separately knew me and I felt like I was at some sort of reunion. Valeria, who narrowly beat me last year, came up to me and said, well I’m guessing that since you’re pregnant, I won’t need to worry about you giving me a challenge. Well that was true. Though I didn't know exactly HOW true it was.

After Andly Holak started the race, Dusty Olson took off sprinting, far ahead of everyone else. The crowd laughed, and at least I didn’t guess he actually would end up one of the leaders at the end. A bunch of women started off at what I considered lightning speed and I just did my own thing, enjoying the cool morning and technical riverside trails. I made it to the swinging bridge and the first 3.4 miles at a leisurely pace. SR was relieved to see me, as he was certain I had dropped out since I was so far behind the lead women. Nope. No complaints so far.

Helen Lavin risks her life for a good photo of Sea Legs Girl.

I was already happy I had worn a Camelbak. I hadn’t run with one since the Trans-Alpine and had never run with one in a compact Camelbak backpack. I found myself loving the fact I could take small sips whenever I wanted and was never annoyed by the little pack. I refilled it five times with sports drink and I am certain I drank more than twice the amount I have ever drunk in an ultra and felt a lot better because of it. I can’t imagine I will ever run an ultra without one now. The shadows make it look like there are wires under my shirt, but there were no wires there to my knowledge.

The guy you see me running with on the bridge in the red shirt is Chris, who I would run much of the race with. We passed one person after another, including at least 3 women, and made it through the first 25 miles in 4:35. This was 15 minutes slower than last year, but I wasn’t complaining. I was at a bit of a low and really needed a nut roll and Helen Lavin to cheer me up. Luckily both of those things were at the aid station.

It was raining at this point and that felt wonderful. It hadn’t gotten nearly as hot as I had expected it to. I had a quiet moment of celebration as I completed my first pregnant marathon and, though I was tired, I knew I would make it to the end. My hip had given me no problems whatsoever and it was as if running that far and on that diverse of terrain had jarred something back into place. Incredible. Who knows.

Then I saw SR. He ran with me and joked and, though I wasn’t quite in the mood to laugh, sometimes I did despite myself. Then I made up a rule that only I could initiate conversation after he brought up some stressful subject, which I can’t recall, and induced an asthma attack, but my rule lasted about 30 seconds, at which point he initiated conversation again. I learned a long time ago that SR is incapable of being silent for more than 30 seconds. I told him about 40 times that “only I initiate conversation” and it failed 40 times. But I have to admit, he kept me happy. He took a bunch of pictures of me around this time.

He told me I was in 8th place for the women. And I could see when I had met the women turning around that there would be a lot faster times this year compared to last year, except for Helen Lavin's time last year. Kim Holak was pretty solidly in the lead. And I didn’t know the women in 2nd and 3rd. Valeria was in 4th, looked good, and was going significatly faster than last year..



With 20 miles to go, my red-shirted friend, Chris, caught up again. We really pushed each other and enjoyed a pretty runnable section. When we came to the fabled powerlines, the mood changed and the race really became work. Because it had rained, these very steep hills became mud slides and nearly intraversable. At some point, I realized it was easier to crawl on my hands and knees than to walk up since there was no traction on my now mud-caked shoes. I heard Chris yelling loudly at the last hill. Then he took off in a burst of energy. Cool! Sadly, there would be no bursting on my part. I was feeling like a brontosaurus might feel: incapable of doing anything quickly. But I also didn’t slow down too much.



SR joined me again for the last 8 miles. I needed company at that point, so it was nice. I didn’t convey to him that it was nice, but it was. I didn’t actually feel sore. The last 3.4 miles are quite technical and feel 10x more technical on the way back than the way out. It took me nearly an hour to get through this section, as it did last year. SR and I joked and I lamented what a slow walker I was. Yes, I will never do a 100 miler because I just can’t walk quickly. I like running, not walking. So until I can get to the point where I can run almost all the miles of a 100 miler, I won’t do one.

This is also when I announced to SR my idea of taking a good dose of magnesium that night to help prevent both muscle cramps and uterine cramps. Maybe this will be a standard for pregnant racers in the future. It is safer that ibuprofen.

Finally we emerged from the woods and there was just a half a mile to the finish. I realized I could make it under 10:35, so I started sprinting to the finish line, much to the crowd’s amusement, and came in in 10:34:48. Okay, it was 50 minutes slower than last year, but I also didn’t push myself like last year and felt tired, but not a ripped apart. Andy Holak handed me a super cool Voyageur mug, which all of the top 10 finishers received. I was 8th place the entire second half and that is where I stayed. There were 156 registered runners.

I saw my trail friend Chris again and he said his burst of energy had taken him to the finish line in 10:10. Wow. I was impressed. Valeria shaved a good 40 minutes off her time from last year to take 4th. She explained how she had really been pushed along by the top 3 women. But she revealed her real training secret, which is she is getting a divorce and has found herself with tons of time to train. Divorces are rarely happy events, but I found myself swept up in her optimism and fresh outlook on life.

Top three women were: Kim Holak, Connie Lutkevich and Angie Radosevich. The third place woman, Angie, is new in the ultra scene, but has a 2:48 marathon PR. She told me she ran her first marathon without "much” training in 2:50. If that is true, “talent” is more important than I’d like to admit. But interestingly, it takes more than just the ability to run a fast marathon to really excel at a trail ultra, as both the male and female winners were experienced trail runners. Chris Gardner finished first for the men in 6:55, outrunning another new ultra runner, Chris Lundstrom, who has a sub 2:20 marathon PR.

Everything about this race went better than I expected. But then again, I didn’t really know what to expect. I was glad my hip didn't bother me at all. And the longest race I had run pregnant was a half marathon. I didn’t know if I’d faint or die or have uterine cramping, but everything went smoothly. I got nauseated at the end, but other than that, I was really in heaven the whole day. I took all pressure off of myself and just went out to enjoy it. And I sure did. I was smiling the entire time. I absolutely LOVE the sport of ultramarathoning. AND I wouldn’t hesitate to run another pregnant.

Thanks to SR for his sense of humor and encouragement as my pacer. I love you!

Running song of the day: well, I didn’t listen to my ipod the entire race, since I never got bored, but one great song from our bike ride today is “Wasted Daylight” by The Stars.

Friday, 23 July 2010

My excuse

The chances are slim; no not of winning, but of finishing Voyageur tomorrow. I have constant pain in my left hip. I don't tend to like blog posts about injuries. And I especially don't like writing them. But suffice it to say that my hip pain turned from pain while running to pain at rest despite not running at all this week. I went to the chiropractor from my first pregnancy two days in a row and now the pain is gone, as far as I can tell. But 1. the muscles are still inflamed and 2. the chance my SI joint will slide out of place again is quite high.

During my first pregnancy, I went 6 months before I had problems with my SI joint. This time I went 6 weeks. The positive side of this is maybe it will be a low-grade injury the whole pregnancy, never completely keeping me from running, but preventing me from running really fast or really far. Er, I guess you could look at it as positive.

But the biggest reason I'm writing this is so I have an excuse, for not running as fast as last year or for dropping out if it gets to the point I can't walk. I have this big fear that the wonderful supporters on this blog will say to themselves "she was the one who DNF'd in an ultra because she was pregnant". The sad thing is, if it weren't for this stupid hip, I might actually be capable of beating my time from last year.

I feel better now that I have pre-rationalized my poor performance tomorrow. Thanks.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

North Lake

I am abusing my blog right now to save pictures my dad took. We spent yesterday out on North Lake in Stone Bank, WI, where my parents live.









Here I am nearing the end of my epic 2.5 mile swim around the perimeter of the lake.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Speedwork and Acupuncture

I had really been looking forward to my speedwork session on Thursday. I had not run hard since the 20 mile long run on Sunday and I felt really good. I had a 4 mile warm up and then planned to do an 8 mile tempo across some hilly farm trails. I had a loose goal of under 60 minutes: a record on this route, but it was really warm (I never look at the forecast in Denmark because nothing is so extreme that it warrants action, but I would estimate 28 deg Celsius). This and I had NEVER tried speedwork pregnant, so I hadn’t a clue what to expect. The one unusual thing I did in preparation was bring a water bottle. (This is a time of major expansion of blood volume, so it is even harder to stay hydrated). I planned 2 miles out, 2 back, quick drink, repeat. I ran the first mile in under seven minutes, but quickly slowed and ran the first 4 miles in twenty-nine minutes. So I was on track, but could feel things weren’t quite right. It’s hard to explain, but my left hip was bothering me again and I felt, well, terrible. I stopped for my drink and almost vomited. And then came this terrible pain in the area of my uterus and my lower back and my left hip. I COULD have kept running, but I was scared. I was scared of something happening to the tiny, wonderful bundle of cells in my uterus. IS speedwork dangerous?, I wondered. I was in no frame of mind to finish the tempo. Maybe I got overheated, maybe dehydrated, maybe it was just my hip spasming and I imagined the worst. Well, the pain didn’t go away, but I went on to jog another three miles, and by the time I got home, I felt normal again.


I had thought that interlude would be the end of speedwork in my pregnancy. But 1. I have come to realize that my hip was the biggest factor in that pain. 2. I finished the book Graviditet og Motion by Bente Klarlund Pedersen

In English: Pregnancy and Exercise. She's an MD, PhD (actually she’s a Dr.Med, which is a higher degree than PhD in Europe), specializing in molecular mechanisms in physical activity. I read it in one sitting. The only other three books I read in one sitting were, and in this order, The Road Less Travelled, at 12 years old, mostly in the bathtub, Go Ask Alice, 16, on a plane and The Iliad, 18, in one chair at the library. Granted that is a weird list, I am just trying to say that it was an excellent book. It debunks so many myths about exercise in pregnancy and while trying to get pregnant in a very systematic, scientific way; though it is clear what the author believes, and she is an exerciser. Anyway, running reduces risk of miscarriage in the first trimester from twenty five to seventeen percent. And that percent is pretty much as low as can be seen in any female population. The only specific types of physical activity associated with miscarriage are working on feet all day, quickly lifting a heavy object, and the only type of free time exercise associated with an adverse outcome was a very physically stressful event on the day of implantation. She goes on to discuss the Norwegian, Ingrid Kristiansen, who ran a marathon in 2:33, 4 months pregnant. Granted, she is in better shape than me, but she ran a whole marathon at a faster pace than I ran those 4 miles.

So my focus is now on finding a remedy for my left hip, which has been bothering me since 50 k I ran in the relay at the end beginning of June. And I was feeling a bit desperate since the Voyageur 50 miler is this Saturday. I discussed things with my friend and yoga instructor. She suggested I see my doctor, and I told her my doctor wouldn’t have any helpful suggestions, except to rest, which would of course be helpful, but anyway, I went to an acupuncturist. I am a huge fan of acupuncture and used to receive it from a good friend for free about every month for a debilitating heart burn when I was living in France. Acupuncture works amazingly well as a painkiller for about 2 weeks, or at least that's my experience. So I went to The Nordic Center for Chinese Medicine in Naestved, which SR affectionately refers to as “the seediest place on the planet”. I told the “doctor” about my hip and being pregnant, only to find out she was an MD, PhD who did a study at The London School of Tropical Medicine about using a woman’s birth date to determine which organ was weakest and giving more strength to that organ through acupuncture and thus hopefully preventing miscarriage. I suddenly felt extremely Western. WHAT was that about birth date? Anyway, she gave me special acupuncture for the pregnant woman, which helped my hip, but also helped my kidneys. I do not know why kidneys are the pregnancy organ in Chinese medicine. Well, anyway, it worked!
It sort of looked like the above and did not use any points in my feet, as opposed to normal acupuncture.


I have had no pain in my hip in my last two runs: a one hour and a two hour run, where I shocked myself with my speed and energy. Though I can tell that something is still out of line as my left knee is now bothering me instead. It is as if that hip muscle is still pulling but I can’t feel it. SR went on to make fun of me for believing this woman was an MD. Oh, well. I’ll take the Nordic center of Chinese Medicine for my hip pain any day.
I'm feeling a little more optimistic about Voyaguer, but am still worried about my hip carrying me all those miles. So this week, no more running whatsoever, just various forms of cross training, yoga and a visit to my old favorite chiropractor in La Crosse, WI.

Oh, yeah, we’re on the plane on the way to the US right now for our 2 ½ week vacation.

Running song of the day: J'ai Demandé à La Lune by Indochine

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

This pregnancy is not going to be about proving something

For those of you who have not been reading my blog since my first pregnancy, I need to do a bit of explaining.

I started my blog as an online diary, where I described my life, being in love, being pregnant and my training and weight gain (running 16 miles then 13 miles a day and sometimes swimming and biking and a desire to limit my pregnancy weight gain to 5.5 kg and then 7 kg).

Well, I never really expected anyone would care or start reading, and I definitely didn't expect people would start suggesting that what I was doing was unhealthy.

I went back and dug up some of the comments directed at my blog during my first pregnancy, which ultimately led me to be very defensive; constantly wanting to PROVE that lot of exercise IS beneficial to both mother and baby.

"82 miles plus the cross training you did is not moderate. 3 hours is not moderate...and you're willing to take a chance on the baby inside of you with something that is an unknown? 82 miles a week of running in addition to 20 miles on the bike and whatever else you were doing? That is not moderate, it is not vigorous, it is extreme even for healthy non-pregnant people. There is no science here, only anecdotes, and you're willing to risk your child with that. You're disgusting and I feel sorry that you're going to parent this child." Running Coach

I started crying after I read that one. Certainly not because what Running Coach said was true, but because of the accusation.

Here are some more...

"... a woman who did that sort of thing. She was an aerobics instructor. She's teach 3 classes, run, swim, bike, stayed skinny throughout pregnancy. The kid was born with major neuromuscular issues."

"there were some women I used to swim with in AZ that were going on club bike rides during their 8th month. Just silly considering the dangers."

"If and when that time comes, I am not getting on my bike again until the kid is out of me."

The last woman went on to get pregnant, continued to exercise and on her blog wrote how astounded she was that people gave her a hard time when she was running at 6 months. Hopefully her change in attitude reflects our society's. Not that I was a pariah or anything.

James Clapp has shown that at least 3 days a week of exercise is associated with higher intelligence and better coordination in children. The upper limit for a healthy amount of exercise has moved higher and higher (used to be no more than 1 mile of running a day in the 1970's).

I don't know how many people now would step up and accuse of woman of being a danger to her baby if she ran an ultramarathon or completed an ironman pregnant. But maybe there are more than I think. When googling pregnant ironman last night I found this "If you're trying to get pregnant or are pregnant, you can give up rock star running and your dreams of an ironman". It really said rock star running. I couldn't make this up, people.

And then a woman on a forum in Wisconsin inquired about doing an ironman pregnant. A response: "I had a good friend who was training for an ironman while pregnant and miscarried. Don't take the chance." SLG response: "I had a friend who was sitting in a rocking chair and had a cat jump in her lap. She then miscarried. Avoid cats! Oh, and rocking chairs."

I was on my way to Cross Fit last night and a paragraph from "A Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy" came into my head. (this is a paraphrase; I don't have the book here). "When I was in my first pregnancy, I continued to lift weights, thinking I could get away with exercising while pregnant. I had grand ideas of staying in shape. On the way home from the gym, I started bleeding and had a miscarriage. Of course, I don't know if lifting weights caused it, but women, do yourself a favor: spend these 9 months on the couch otherwise you'll always blame yourself for exercising if something goes wrong". Vicki Iovine.

Response from SLG: "Well, Vicki, I loved your sense of humor throughout the book, especially when you got all horny and imagined your husband as a cowboy, but suggesting that exercising was the cause of your miscarriage does women all over the world a disservice. And, even more so, the idea that they should lay around on the couch. Complications with pregnancy arise more and more due to excess weight gain, gestational diabetes and preterm birth is associated with the 'western lifestyle', which no doubt includes a sedentary life style. And thanks to you, I was imagining my little morula falling out of me into bloody pieces while swining a kettelbell..."

So I asked the Cross Fit instructor, "Are there any specific guidelines for pregnant women?" (basically curious if our traditionally male-chauvinistic society is still imposing limits on pregnant women). In Danish "Well, I think you should just do as much as you can for as long as you can, while you're still comfortable doing it."

And THAT made perfect sense. Finally.

My last pregnancy was so wonderful and I had a beautiful (at least to me), healthy baby boy. And not only that, I lost the few pounds I had wanted to lose and got into better shape than I started off in. The only thing I would do differently during this pregnancy is more cross training from the beginning so I can continue effective speedwork and hopefully avoid or delay any problems with my Sacroiliac joint.

Off my pedestal now. I am not going to prove anything this time. I am just going to enjoy this pregancy, the way I feel is best. Here are some pictures from my idyllic bike ride to Hjulbæk yesterday (sorry, no pictures of me. I'm getting a little sick of my charming, beautiful face).



Oh, sorry, and I just have to add this one of The Lorax, in true gangster style, with his little cousin, Ayla.

Running Song of the Day: We No Speak Americano by Yolanda Be Cool and DCUP (an adaptation fo the the Italian classic: Tu Vuo Fa' L'americano by Renato Corsarone)

Monday, 12 July 2010

Maybe there is more than a pot in that belly

So I have a notoriously bad relationship with Danish pregnancy tests. And I have had PTSD when I even look at a pregnancy test after I had so many in a row that didn't seem to work at all.

But I know you're all scrolling down anyway, just to see whether or not I'm pregnant. When I was 5 days late for my period today, I decided it was time to buy the brand I have found to be most clearly negative in the past: "Apotekets Graviditetstest" (and thus the best)

So, I peed on one and, after 3 minutes, there was no second line. But when I returned to it 5 minutes later, gosh darn it, there was a second pink line there. 2 hours later I took another and after 7-8 minutes, there was that same pink line. I don't know, can you even see the lines?



Well, SR and I can. And we're really excited. We had actually tried to avoid (my) getting pregnant this month due to our summer vacation, Voyageur and the Ironman, but, whoops, maybe we weren't that careful.

And, just in case you aren't convinced yet that I'm pregnant (just like I wasn't), I took a 3rd test with SR and The Lorax and the same faint pink line was there.


What does a woman with a 2 week old fetus look like after a 100 km bike ride and a 20 mile run on the hottest weekend in Danish history, you ask?



Running song of the day: Rebecca St. Claire by The Modern Skirts. Actually, it's not that great to run to, but I really look forward to singing it and playing it on the guitar when we arrive in the US (and I am reunited with a guitar!).

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Envy and Figure 8 Intervals

I've had a bit of a set-back in terms of my OCD behaviors recently. Part of it has to do with the fact that I haven't been able to run regular intervals in a while due to frequent races and injuries and I fear I'm becoming slow. In my mind, the easiest, most effective way to get fast again is to lose weight. And then, as I start my OCD eating and exercise patterns again, I get down on myself because they aren't working fast enough. And then (and here is where I explain how all of my problems stem back to Helen Lavin :)...) I saw this picture of Eve Rukavina on Helen Lavin's blog:


She is accepting her award for winning the Afton trail race 50k in Minnesota in 4:24:11.


Talk about envy. I KNOW that this is always where women go wrong. They see a picture of a woman and think THAT is how I want to look and become unsatisfied when they continue to look, well, just like themselves. If I were wise, I would say "Eve is beautiful and fast and I can also be beautiful and fast but may never look exactly like her". But I am not wise. I am, as always, foolish and get angry at myself for not sticking to my strict diet plan (gosh darn body getting hungry - why do I give in to you?!) and my unrealistic goal of "looking like Eve".

SR had the day off today and offered to pace me in "Figure 8" intervals on the trails in the woods behind our apartment. Well, you know I LOVE intervals, because they are so effective, but I also dread them and start acting like a lunatic if anyone gets near me before I start running them. As SR and I were warming up, I actually started crying, and even sort of accusing SR: "If I were as skinny as Eve, you know I could run 5ks faster!! Why do people tell me I need to weigh MORE to get faster?!?!?"

He always runs away without saying anything when my lunacy starts. Here he is taking a couple pictures of me, still with tears in my eyes before we start the intervals (I am hopeless).

So here is what we did:

8 x approx 1 km intervals each in 4 minutes. This consisted of out-back in one direction, out & back in another direction in the shape of an 8 on the trails and then repeat. 2 minute breaks. Half way through I felt a turtle head. So I squatted down and SR started yelling "go! go! go! 30 seconds" (of course this made me mad, but I love how he pushes me to keep on the schedule. The way I expressed this at the time was "give me a fucking break! I'm taking a shit here!" I think he knew this meant I was glad he was there).

Okay, so the interval session went really, really well and was amazing fun. SR seemed pleasantly surprised that I could consistently run just under 1km in 4 minutes all 8 times. I was surprised, too. But then again I wasn't. I mean, why do I get so down on myself? And even if I couldn't run fast intervals, there is still no reason to get down on myself.

Anyway we are planning to do it every week we can. Hopefully I can run further and further in each of those four minute intervals as time goes on.

As usual, after I get done running intervals, life just seems to make more sense and I can look at my little obsessions and see that yes, I am a fool. But then again, part of me is thankful that I have my obsessions, which help keep me fast and in shape. I have been converted into a lifelong runner of intervals by my husband. And I love him for sticking by me, despite the fact that I don't look like Eve.

When I run intervals, I have noticed I tend to like songs where the lead singer is being tortured in some way. Actually during our last marathon it was a song about drowning and today it was about sinking into quicksand. The song was Quicksand by La Roux. And if you are just too annoyed by La Roux, then I will recommend Some Girls by Nenna Lavonne.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Young Girl From Budapest

I spend quite a bit of time entering data into a database these days. I frequently need breaks so today I translated one of my favorite French poems into English and Danish. I'm not sure if it's been translated before and didn't take the time to look.

I promise I'll write something that is actually interesting in the near future. Whoah, that was a big promise. I should mention I just signed up for Voyageur today (SR is still contemplating) and my hip is doing well enough that I can finally run intervals tomorrow! (I put an exclamation mark because I am trying to get myself excited)

Anyway, here's the poem:

La jeune fille de Budapest
D’Henri Michaux

Dans la brume tiède d'une haleine de jeune fille, j'ai pris place
Je me suis retiré, je n'ai pas quitté ma place.
Ses bras ne pèsent rien. On les rencontre comme l'eau.
Ce qui est fané disparaît devant elle. Il ne reste que ses yeux.
Longues belles herbes, longues belles fleurs croissaient dans notre champ.
Obstacle si léger sur ma poitrine, comme tu t'appuies maintenant.
Tu t'appuies tellement, maintenant que tu n'es plus.plus.

The Young Girl From Budapest
By Henri Michaux
Translation by Sea Legs Girl

In the mild fog of breath of a young girl, I find myself
I am lying back, I haven’t left.
Her arms weigh nothing. You meet them like water.
That which has wilted disappears before her. There is nothing left but her eyes.
Long, beautiful grasses, long beautiful flowers growing in our field.
Such a light obstacle on my chest, which you lay on me now.
You weigh so much, now that you are gone.

Den unge pige fra Budapest
Af Henri Michaux
Oversættelse af Sea Legs Girl

I den milde tåge af ånde fra en ung pige, tager jeg plads.
Jeg læner mig tilbage, jeg tager ikke af sted.
Hendes arme vejer ikke noget. Man møder dem som vandet.
Det, som er vissent forsvinder foran hende. Der er kun hendes øjne tilbage.
Lange, flotte græsser, lange flotte blomster groer i vores mark.
Forhindring så let på mit bryst, som du ligger på mig nu.
Du vejer så meget, nu du er væk.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Kanal Triathlon (so did all of my training pay off?)

It was a lot like the morning of a big exam and I had studied diligently and now it was time to show off, or at least see if I had done my homework correctly. I have been working very hard on improving my swimming and to a lesser degree my cycling. I always work on my running. But I didn't imagine my running would improve much from last year to this year. Plus, they lost my running time last year, so I really couldn't compare it to anything.

I felt great and I wasn't nervous. I had slept wonderfully. Because I never come even close to winning triathlons, there is much less pressure.

Yesterday was the annual Olympic distance triathlon in Næstved. Actually it's only the second year of this event and our second attempt. It was our fourth triathlon total. This year they met maximum capacity, which I believe was 200. Here are the distances, for those who haven't memorized the lengths of different triathlons (excuse me while I look it up)

1.5 km swim (60 pool lengths)
40 km cycle
10 km run

And here is a picture of the canal (a 5 minute bike ride from our apartment), courtesy of Anette Ø:

The weather was sunny and in the low 80's, so energy drink & salt would probably be really important. I had a bottle of energy drink and a bag of peanuts ready for me on my bike. I downed a bottle of water before things got started.

Before all triathlons start there is the donning of the wetsuit. Granted not everyone had a wetsuit, but 95% did. I used to dread putting on that tight, hot thing, but I've come to adore it. It reminds me of all the happy times we've been swimming in the ocean recently. But, of course, before this goes on, bike, helmet, number, towel, socks, shoes and food and drink need to be in order and all in a minuscule space. Again, the more triathlons one does the more fun the designing of the tri cubby becomes.

A bunch of friends at the start, including running buddies Allan and Rasmus, made for a fun atmosphere. Rikke, the physical therapist and swim coach for our tri team was there swimming as part of a relay group. She has taken me from a person with a loser crawl technique to a relatively graceful and fast swimmer. I joked with her that I might beat her. And she stopped laughing. "No, SLG, there is no way you will beat me."

200 participants and I was about number 5 into the canal water. I was so excited. I lost track of SR and everyone else I knew.

The swim

While I was battling thrashing legs and arms from every direction after the gun went off, SR was about 25 meters from the start "warming up" and hadn't realized the tri had started. He had planned to start out in the back, anyway, but not that far back.

Tri's are NOT for people with claustrophobia. Sheesh. The first 1/3 of the distance, I was completely surrounded by people; passing was hard as was being passed.

There is a type of swimmer (and I have so far only seen men do it) that zigzags incessantly without knowing it. It is very counterproductive and obviously not intentional, but I was swimming near a man who zigzagged right into me about 10 times in all. I would have been upset, but SR has the same problem, so I just kept calm and tried to think happy thoughts. Thoughts about things, such as the trip we have planned to Thunder Bay at the end of July. Thinking of something pleasant and calming is really important during long swims in open water. I got into a beautiful rhythm and know I swam quite a bit faster than last year (results to come soon, hopefully). SR and I came in right next to each other last year, but this year I finished at least five minutes ahead of him. That put me close to middle of the pack.

////Update: The chip times didn't work again, but I was able to see that the swim plus first transition was 35:16, likely putting my swimming time at 32:44, based on my transition time from last year. That was the only time recorded for me (oh and the final below) :( even though I went across the mat and heard it beep every time. But it's three minutes faster than last year, so that's nice!////

But, biking was next. Biking is by far the most important event as far as overall time in an Olympic tri, because it takes the longest and you can gain or lose a lot. I have barely made it to the level of an average Dane when it comes to cycling. So I'm nowhere near the average triathlete. And I should explain: Tri's in Denmark, are not something people just do for fun. They are fun, but these people are DAMN serious. It has a lot to do with the social structure in Denmark. Everyone has a similar amount of money (sufficient and, if you save right, a little extra) and a very similar education. Everyone runs at least a little. And bikes to work. But this tri thing is beyond normal exercise and expensive. Therefore the people who do it are really dedicated to it. It is what they spend their small amount of extra money on. I also have to mention that racing bikes and, in fact, all sports equipment and apparel here is about 3x as expensive as it is in the United States (luckily we purchased everything we have in the US, as, despite being two physicians, we've got zero extra money and are in big debt, so that was the only way we could afford to participate in the first place).

The bike

First of all, my bike is quite nice, but lacks a tri-bar. I had attempted to get a tri bar mounted on my bike but my American handles are too thick for the tri-bars here. And then I had extra brakes removed from my bike on Friday, hoping I could then get my tri bar to fit without the brakes on. Well, it didn't work. And the new brake cables screwed up my gears, so my bike clicked out of gear the entire cycle distance. How irritating! Whatcha gonna do? It was an out and back 6x loop. Our friend Rasmus caught up quite quickly to me, though he was quite surprised to see I had beaten him in the swim. Then I saw SR had just come out of the transition zone from swimming as I was about half way through my first loop. He just laughed and gave me a big smile, happy to see my swim had gone so well. He also thinks his swim improved from last year (for one thing, he didn't swim into the cement wall along the canal this year). It took SR just over 3 loops to pass me. And I didn't pass a SINGLE person. But I didn't last year either. Since there was no visible time clock and I had no watch on, I can't even give an estimate of my time. But hopefully that is coming soon. And I will report it regardless of how pathetic it is.

The run

This is supposedly my strength. Already near the beginning, I could sense IT was happening again: I had that same dizzy feeling I had in the last two marathons we've run. There were little black spots and things were spinning. I had the sensation that if I pushed myself to the point of sweating even more, I would pass out. It wasn't hypoglycemia. I ate a heck of a lot the day before, a good breakfast, ate and drank on the bike ride. But what I really felt I needed was sports drink or something salty. I felt like at any moment my blood pressure could drop to the point that everything would go black. There was an aid station after 2.5 k, but they only had water. Oh, no! I just had to take the run easy. It was really frustrating because my legs were ready to kick it into the next gear. I managed to pass a good number of people and think positive thoughts, but mostly I dreamed of finding an abandoned bottle of sports drink on the trail. I am perplexed as to why this same thing has happened to me now 3 big events in a row (I DID drink all of the sports drink in my bike bottle and ate two handfulls of peanuts).

As I approached the finish, I saw I woman in her 60's about to cross the finish line. Now that is just so cool she could pull off a triathlon so well.

Here is my dramatic finish, brought to you by the lovely and talented SR. I wish I had taken some photos of him, but you will unfortunately have to settle for me.

We both had such a wonderful time and it was easy for us to draw the conclusion that this tri had been more fun than all of our recent running races. We had worked hard but weren't sore in any particular place. Ahhh, how wonderful.

I promise I'll post all of our times when they are made available.

///Well, again, I'm not sure what exactly happened with the chip times. The Excel spreadsheet that comes up under results has just two numbers for me and the second is 2:52:11, which I am deducing was my overall time. Since the chip time didn't work last year either, I don't know if my exact time, but based on where I finished, I believe it was around 2:56. So approximately a 4 minute improvement, which is okay, and also leaves me ample opportunity to do better next year :).///

I think we are both game for the Challenge Copenhagen full Ironman in August, but up next is of course Voyageur 50 miler on July 24th.

We got home, greeted The Lorax and his babysitter and then SR took my blood pressure, which of course was normal at that point. Then we took a long nap. A perfect summer day.

Running song of the summer (at least it was perfect for hill repeats in the heat on Friday):

Skisser för sommaren by Kent (the title means "sketches before the summer" in Swedish - it's almost the same in Danish). Sorry, there really is no video, it's just so you can hear the song.


And if you are previously unfamiliar with Kent, here is an older music video, which has nothing to do with running and everything to do with love.