Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

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

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Playmate to Jesus (& The Copenhagen Ultra)

For the hundreds of thousands of you wondering how I did in the Copenhagen Ultra 100k, I thought I had better update my blog. I didn't run it. But I actually didn't sign up either. I've learned through experience to not sign up for races that don't sell out until the very last minute.

When I arrived back in the little country of many islands: Denmark, everything bascially looked the same, though everything was as different from the US as it had ever been. The most obvious difference is you feel like you're entering a miniature doll house when you get outside. The cars, roads, carts at the aiport. Everything is tiny.

Beyond that, the air is damp and the sky is more white than blue. The wind is always blowing cooly. The little white anemone flowers are covering the forest floors like a blanket. They always bloom in mid-April.

Everything in Denmark is groomed and small. There are no plants, animals, bugs or tornadoes that could kill you. Denmark may in fact encompass the tamest parcels of land on earth.

Arriving on Easter Sunday, without the rest of my family, I had lunch with SR's parents and his brother's family. Then, though I knew I shouldn't, I went for a run. Easter lasts 5 days here, so going out on a run on one or any of the five is not only tolerated, but expected. I told myself it would be brief. For the entire first mile, my left knee was in near-excruciating pain. I hand't run since the Mad City 50k a week before. Then I had a terrible shock of pain down my left hamstring and I stopped. But only for a few seconds. I pushed on and had a pretty good run, about 10 miles, though I had to walk up and down all of the hills because of the pain in my knee.

I haven't run a step since. In fact, I can't walk without pain. Life is in bloom, the sun is out and, yes, today was the Copenhagen Ultramarathon 100k, which I was hoping to run in under 9 hours to make the Danish national team, but alas... maybe next year. yeah, and I'm not Danish either, I know.

I am, instead, nursing myself back to health. Mattias isn't here to nurse, so I have to nurse something and that is me for once. (although, I am nursing the breast pump, though it is just a dumb piece of plastic.).

The reason I can't run, most simply put: iliotibial band "syndrome"

Danes call it "runner's knee".

Since one of my pet peeves is running blogs with anatomical pictures (ha,even I am guilty of it), I will just assume we all know what it is.

Ok, ok, ok. I can't help it. Anything to get your attention/gross you out. It is actually an amazing looking structure that band. And I mean it has an important job.


Yes, but the real problem is getting my head right. My life since Mattias was born has been a constant push, push, push. I don't know why. I have been back in Denmark a week now and I can't shake this post-ictal feeling. Like as if I had a major seizure and I am starting to come out of it into a big haze. I mean, what on earth has been going on? Even while here, every night, I wake up screaming in a panic that I am dying of some terrible thing and find myself so soaked in sweat that I have to change my clothing and the blanket.

I am, if you couldn't guess, back here for work and the people who my study employs were, they told me eventually, shocked to see how I looked. As I've said before, in the US, it is cool to "pull off" being thin, basically because you have beat all the odds. But in Denmark, I appear ill, though in all honesty am I not weak. I told them about my psychiatric, er, adventures, while I was in the US, about not sleeping, not eating, running in the middle of the night, etc.. They could hardly believe it. It also surprised me when they indicated that to them, I had always been a model of good health, in all senses of the word, and now I had come out with this. And they are employed by me. Granted, they seemed happy I was so honest with them; trust me, I have never witnessed such a captive audience when telling a story.

While here, I of course can't get myself to not exercise. And I know the key to recovering from IT band problems is not NOT exercising. Here is what I am doing:

massage, stretching, strengthening all my muscles but avoiding using the darn left quadriceps

Today I feel less pain. Last night I had a massage and then this morning I went to 1 hour "stomach, butt, thighs", 1 hour yoga+pilates, 1 hour spinning at very low resistance, high cadence and then 30 minutes CX Worx Core. Awesome! It wasn't quite like running 100km, but I wish I had time to do this every day. Then for sure my leg would be ready for Chippewa.

But what happened today in The Copenhagen Ultra? Well, the Danish record in the 50k was broken by Jesper Noer in 3:16:57. Okay, so it is a great time, but just two weeks ago three guys at the Mad City 50k ran faster than that! Wisconsin does have higher standards than Denmark when it comes to ultra running. I honestly think anything with the word "ultra" attached to it does not appeal to the Danish psyche. Maybe that is why there are all of these Danes who have run over 100 marathons, but have never even considered an "ultra".

Perhaps that is the reason that, as far as I can tell, I have the Danish Record in the 50km for women. That would however require me to be Danish, I guess. Today at the Copenhagen Ultra, Rikke Heinessen, did get close in a time of 4:12:56. But this is a flat route. Though who is keeping track? I am, because I'm grumpy since I can't run.

So I'll eat a flødebol instead.

The women's 100km race was very exciting, though unfortunately no one broke the 9:30 needed to be an alternate on the 100k national team. The 2nd-5th place women were less than 10 minutes apart and there were only 8 women finishers!

Here is Helle coming in in 10:04, in 5th place, looking strong.

And my good friend, Henriette, came in not long after.

Now, since Danni will ask, the title is a song by the Danish-Norwegian band Aqua (think "Barbie Girl"). It just makes me laugh because it is played so much on the radio here and I just can't imagine a song like that ever making it in the US. The US sure is a pious place. And Aqua was sure deluding themselves if they thought it would be big overseas.

Finally, has anyone else been following the Marathon des Sables? Meghan Hicks is in 5th for the women! Last stage is today but results aren't in.


Kirsten said...

The best cure for ITB syndrome is Osteopathy - has worked wonders for me with 3-4 treatments. Havn't had it since then! And definitely, get that head right back on track...

sea legs girl said...

Kirsten, Thank you so much for your advice! How is the osteopathic approach different from the approach I am taking? I am following a plan developed by Michael Fredericson at Stanford that had 24/26 study participants pain free after 6 weeks and NO recurrences in the followin year. More info here:

mmmonyka said...

Bummer about you 100k.
I do not have any advice for ITB problem. Obviously. Since I have not been able to cure mine in over 3 years now:(
But one thing that I have learnt is that all those PT strengthening exercises that make you do are totally useless. Otherwise how would it be possible that PTs prescribe the same exercises for all leg-related problems? I think that manual manipulation of the area is a way to go.

Kirsten said...

I tried all kind of stretching, tried an orthopedic doctor who recommended physiotherapy etc - but the root of the problem (and it usually is) turned out to be some kind of imbalance in the pelvis. Because I was running very long runs and getting tired, I would start leaning forwards or other improper ways of holding my back / pelvis to make up for the tiredness. In the end I got fed up that nothing of all this helped, wrote to the Motionsløb brevkasse - and was recommended osteotherapy. She made the diagnosis of the imbalance in the palvic area, treated me once a week for 3 weeks and it was gone. I could even run while I was treated. Since then, I can feel in my back when I need to be "put back on track" and take a treatment. It's really worth the money. There is a clinic in Frederiksberg - Causaklinikken, that's where the guys from Motionsløb work. Hope it could be a solution!

Kirsten said...

Here's the link to my question etc - in Danish, sorry for the readers who do not understand - but anyway it's not that interesting...

sea legs girl said...


I should have mentioned that I also go to a chiropractor. I do that about once a week - all the time. I think osteopaths do some of what chiropractors do in the US. I should actually probably make an appointment with a chiropractor while I'm here! Or osteopath. Thanks so much for the links!

sea legs girl said...


Thank you for your input! I was hoping you would comment. I have also had luck with massage, both my own and with a therapist. If I were you, I would seriously contact this Michael Frederikson at Stanford. I know I will if I don't get over this in a few weeks. He seems to be one of the world experts in the area and I'm sure he will have advice for you.

sea legs girl said...

It's aggravating because I was almost over it (I had it after Syllamo, too) thanks to chiropractic, massage and stretching and then I ran the Mad City 50k and it returned at the very end. Grrr..

Anonymous said...

De-lurking to sympathise...I suffered for about a year before giving in and having ITB release surgery when the condition became so painful that I could sometimes not walk, or would have sharp, stabbing "spasms" and my leg would give out mid-step. Along the way however we tried massage therapy, strengthening exercises, stretching, orthotics, cortisone injections, cross training...hope your luck is better than mine. (totally pain free now, in fact, noticeably less pain the very next day, but left with quite the scar down my leg!)

Tracizzle said...
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Tracizzle said...
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sea legs girl said...

Hi Mary, wow, now that is a bummer you had to go through all that and then surgery. I am really glad, though, that it worked. It almost sounds like the surgery one gets for carpal tunnel syndrome. Once the tendon gets into that inflammtory state, sometimes surgery is the only way out.

sea legs girl said...

I need to add that the REASON this started in the first place is my lateral quadriceps actually started bleeding afte Syllamo. There was a big blue bruise over that part of muscle that really hurt. So I don't think the actual root of the problem is the hip or some misalignment in my body, but simply injury to the quadriceps. There are many different causes of ITB syndrome, but it seems like they all lead to the same pain in the same spot.

Danni said...

Haha thanks! The IT band is such a finicky thing. I had problems for a short while and nothing seemed to help. Then poof it went away just like that never to return.

Pleeeeeeeeeease find some help for your other stuff :(. It is just like your IT band - not a shortcoming or anything. Just a health problem that really needs treatment. It is holding you back so treat it! Please?

SteveQ said...

Just heard from Megan that she finished marathon de Sables, but that's all I know.

I HAVE to go to Denmark now, just to destroy that "everything here is small and groomed." I haven't been small for quite a while, and never groomed.

My best 50K was 3:16. I could've been a champion there!

Anonymous said...

ITBS is a bitch. One thing: get a gait analysis. One thing that strikes me whenever you post race pictures, especially towards the end of your races, is that you've got pretty ugly form: hunched over, bent from the waist... you may be right that this episode is stemming from compensation due to your quad issue, but I can't help but believe your form is contributing to your issues. Also, runner's knee is different than ITBS -- not a Danish translation issue. The "official" name in the literature for runner's knee is "chrondromalacia patella" although I have likely spelled that wrong. Good luck with the ITBS.

PiccolaPineCone said...

i'd love to give you some advice re: IT bad but i have had an athlete who has had it for 3 years now and... you get my drift. i am so sorry u missed the 100 km but it's great that you have other sports in your life to keep you happy... though i know there's nothing like one's first love

Dana said...

Are you still nursing? B/C I went through a similar bout after my son was born and found it was hormone related. Once he hit the 5 month mark, I had the night sweats also, something terrible. Would have to change the sheets/ sleep on a towel or two. And I also had alot of depressive symptoms. I believe I had PMDD, but it cleared up to just "serious PMS" once I stopped nursing. Also, the night sweats went away after I weaned my son at 15 months. I am pregnant again and am planning on talking to my docs to head off this problem before it starts. I don't like the idea of taking meds, but life is too short, too much of a gift, to live in constant anxiety/depression/etc. Best of luck to you.