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

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Sydkyst Marathon: Afteryear on the Danish Coast

When you say "no matter what happens, I'll get a marathon PR" your imagination simply can not stretch far enough to imagine all of the things that could go wrong. I knew that when I said it, but still figured I was above the fray and the problems of the uninitiated.

The Tuesday before the race, I ran Yasso 800's. They predicted a 3:08 marathon time and it was on a terribly windy day, with actual barricades that had been blown on to the track that were too heavy for me to move as I sprinted past.

Thursday, I went on a hill run for nearly two hours with SR. When we returned my calf and right hip were killing me. This meant I needed two things: at least one class of Bikram yoga and a wicked massage on the knot in my right calf. I managed to find time for both on Friday. I am so happy to have found a talented sports massage therapist in Næstved - who not only dug really deep, but also used acupuncture needles to loosen the knot in my leg. Her quote "I have never seen a knot that big - in a leg!" I told her that SR and I had been worried the knot was an extra bone. She wasn't sure if I was joking. Neither was I.

 The day of the race, SR still didn't know if he was going to go for a PR or run slow and pace me.
SR in cold, wet, beachy parking lot, almost ready for race start.
The Sydkyst Marathon is a medium-sized Danish Marathon in the costal town of Greve, just south of Copenhagen. It seems impossible that with just over 120 marathon runners, that this is medium-sized, but nonetheless. Remember, Annette Fredskov holds a marathon every day, usually with only three participants.

It felt like we knew almost everyone there, that is until all of the runners of the half marathon, quarter marathon, 5k and kids race started showing up. Well over 500 runners in all.

A good friend of ours from Næstved, Morten Pihlsbech, said he was planning on running at 3:10 pace and wanted to pace me. He said his friend Mikkel wanted to help. Our plan was to run at 4.:35 min/mile all the way. Great! This was exactly what I needed on this terribly windy day.

At the startline, another woman, Louise, asked if she could run with us. I asked what her goal time was. She said 3:26. I've never been one to feign well, anything, so I simpy said we'd be running at 3:10 pace and she was welcome to run along.

Soon we were off into the head wind and I hid the whole of my existence in the small of Morten's back. Louise on the other hand did not seem much for the drafting idea. Right around 1km she dropped back. I was carefully eyeing my watch and we were doing 4:15 min per km. It felt okay, but then again, this was breakneck speed for an entire marathon. I couldn't do this, even if it meant saying good bye to my pacers after only 3km. I let go as soon as we were out of the headwind. At this point, SR was still right ahead of me and I simply imagined he was starting out easy, taking time to devise a plan. I do wish he'd start out fast from the start! It makes me so nervous when he does that!

The rest of my race went basically like this: (the route is 1 quarter marathon run 4 times)
Loop 1: 46:40
Loop 2 (half marathon): 1:34:06 (figured I was right on track for a 3:10 marathon here)
Loop 3: oh my lord, let the rain come down - and the wind!! How can there be so much rain and wind at once?! (this is the Danish Afteryear in it's full glory - afteryear/efterår does mean Fall or course). There was not a soul I could draft off of and there was still a woman (not Louise) just minutes behind me. Can't remember my time on this loop...
Loop 4: I'm not sure if it was pain in my right leg that was holding me back or just extreme stiffness. My pace was slowing. I think I am pretty good at ignoring those pain signals from my leg, but it was like the legt just wasn't working right.

Then - with 3km left to go - I TOOK A WRONG TURN. This was the 4th time I had run the route and yet I still took a wrong turn. I pretty quickly realized, but knew that what had looked to be a huge PR was now a PR in jeopardy! I could not afford to make any more mistakes now.

Finish Line Phenomenon

I am sure a lot of you have heard of the phenonmenon of athletes seeing the finish line and then collapsing before crossing it. (this famously happened to Brian Morrisson who was about to win Western States but collapsed on the track). I was rounding the corner to the finish with ½km to go and I lost control of the muscles in my neck. My head whipped back and I blacked out. I propped my head up with my hands and I could see light again. I was terrified, yet I knew I could not fall over now. I held my head up with my hands all the way across the finish line. And my time was 3:16:20. What a weird way to set a PR.

I still had the wherewithall to try to take my hand away from my neck for the camera as I neared the finish line.

Here I am with Tanja from Germany (2nd) and Louise (3rd). I won a 600 kr. gift certificate to Ski&Run! 
SR. He ran a good, smart race and managed a 15 second PR in tough conditions with a time of 2:48:06. He took third for the men in a really close race. The winner Vix Steen ran in 2:45 and also set a PR.

All in all, a wonderful morning. We were among friends and had a chance to run a race together, which we always really enjoy.


In other news, we are as ever attempting to plan our future. SR got this in an email yesterday and I had to share.

The above is apparently the ideal life of a Hospitalist physician. In Illinois. Okay - has Dr. Dad seriously spent so much time in scrubs that he does not realize his t-shirt is three sizes too big? And what about their bikes? They are all going to end up with knee problems because their seats are so low!!! And he's a DOCTOR:

Is this our future?

I have such a negative view of the medical world right now. "They are all pawns in the hands of big drug companies" is something I can be found saying at least daily about other physicians. And yet living with me is a physician and my husband who saves peoples' lives from cancer on a daily basis.

And yet - I am drawn to the idea of being a Bikram yoga teacher. I am simply amazed by the healing power it seems to have. In fact, I am so addicted to it that I wonder if somehow I am being brainwashed. I would love to do research on the efficacy of it for healing in sports injuries and many other muskuloskeletal conditions come to mind that I am certain it would help with. I looked in to prior research related to Bikram yoga - and I found one group of researchers - in Fort Collins, CO. I couldn't help but seeing this as some sort of sign that - yes - we are supposed to move there. Ane I know SR is interested - as long as he can find a good job there. 


mmmonyka said...

Seems like you can go a few minutes faster if conditions were better and you did not go out too fast. Way to go girl!

I do not think that Yasso's 800s should be taken too seriously. I am pretty sure that every other Kenyan can run at least 10 800s in 2min with 1min rest between them. But they cannot run 2h marathon.

So when will you figure out what you are going to be when you grow up?:)

And on a completely selfish note: Please move to Ft Collins, get a huge house and organize those themed weeks for athletes. I really want to go train to CO:)

amy said...

Nice job at the marathon PR, although I'm guessing you're going to crank out a much lower PR soon.

I alternate between loving bikram and hating it. I get so frustrated with the dialogue sometimes that I want to scream and run out of class ("as you move toward perfection and your head touches the floor,"....sorry, that's not my idea of perfection, bc if my head ever touches the floor it means I haven't run in years--I like my tight hips, thank you very much). Several of the instructors at my studio are former runners who talk of running like it is what you do before you figure out that bikram is where it's at.

I would also caution against practicing too close to a race. The amount of fluid you lose in a class can't be a good thing the day or two before a race when you want to be fully hydrated, not fully depleted. If I have a Saturday race, I try not to practice beyond Tuesday/Wednesday.

sea legs girl said...

Mmmonyka, I am with you that Yassos aren't the great predictor they are touted to be. This was my instructed workout from SR. But can that many Kenyans run 2:00 800's. That is amazingly fast and I thought Kenyans tended to be better at longer distances. I'm just curious where you get this info!

sea legs girl said...

Amy, I love the fact we can bond over the bizarre Bikram dialogue. I thought it was just because all of our instructors were foreign, but then I realized they all had the same way of talking like an alien, who skipped the whole grammar part when learning English The repetitive weirdness is extremely appealing to me. Now that I know you also practice Bikram, I am all the more convinced it does wonders for runnung!

Fast Bastard - World's Fastest Hematologist said...

About Yasso 800s. You do 10 x 800 with the same amount of rest as it takes to run 1 x 800. If you run them in 3 minutes, you rest 3 minutes between effort.

Could the top Kenyans run at 4 minute mile pace through 10 Yassos? Certainly not with 1 minute rest, Mmmonyka.

With two minutes rest, you assume that they would be running slightly faster than their 5K race pace, but 2:00 is probably still a little unrealistic for 10 x 800. That's below world record pace for the 5K, remember, and they would be running 8K.

So, if anything, I imagine the elites would run slightly slower Yassos than their marathon times.

SLG, David Rudhisha, the 800m world record holder, is Kneyan. They second fastest 800m runner ever, Wilson Kipketer, is a Danish citizen, but was born in Kenya. The East Africans can run the 800 just fine.

Olga said...

Amy and Tracy, the monolog (for some reason called a dialog by Bikram himself, which is supposed to be between a teacher and your body) is, indeed, one of the stupider things in Bikram. Back in NYC we had a great studio where instructors (myself including) ALWAYS deviated, explained things, showed, made examples Portland in the 2 studios I practiced from time to time, I never found that comfort and felt like a solder under a barking order. Yet here, in Austin, besides 2 young girls who are like that, the rest of the teachers are more closer to what I loved in NY. Bottom line is, when I stumble upon a bad instructor (I check out online before coming), I block my mind and practice "acceptance" of that bs.
I do agree that a day prior a race Bikram class may call for dehydration, but then again, if practiced often, bodies adjust (I don't even drink inside the class anymore).
And yes, ouchie on rain - and that last muscle spasm, yet a PR (for both) - congrats (to both).

Stephanie said...

Congratulations on your ridiculous PR!!! That blows my mind how quickly you are able to run and how hard you've been working at it. I ran my first marathon this past spring which was the Colorado Marathon. It begins up Poudre Canyon and ends in Old Town. It's quite beautiful and I'm sure you'll be running it when you move here in Fort Collins! This is so excited to read that you may be moving here. I've lived here for 2 years and have enjoyed it. Even went to Bikram while I was training to this place in town Bridget and Kyle are just amazing. I'd be happy to help with any research for moving here, if you need suggestions, tips, etc. Please keep me in mind!

stephanie said...

Congratulations on your stellar PR!! I ran my first marathon this spring, the Colorado Marathon, which I imagine you'll be running when you move here to Fort Collins!! I've lived here for 2 years now and have enjoyed it. I'd be happy to help and be a resource for you. I also went to Bikram here in town during training and it's amazing and Bridget and Kyle just rock my socks! So keep me in mind and I'm happy to assist!

Stephanie said...

Congratulations on your stellar PR!! I ran my first marathon this spring, the Colorado Marathon, which I imagine you'll be running when you move here to Fort Collins!! I've lived here for 2 years now and have enjoyed it. I'd be happy to help and be a resource for you. I also went to Bikram here in town during training and it's amazing and Bridget and Kyle just rock my socks! So keep me in mind and I'm happy to assist!

Stephanie said...

Congratulations on your stellar PR!! I ran my first marathon this spring, the Colorado Marathon, which I imagine you'll be running when you move here to Fort Collins!! I've lived here for 2 years now and have enjoyed it. I'd be happy to help and be a resource for you. I also went to Bikram here in town during training and it's amazing and Bridget and Kyle just rock my socks! So keep me in mind and I'm happy to assist!

Stephanie said...

Congratulations on your stellar PR!! I ran my first marathon this spring, the Colorado Marathon, which I imagine you'll be running when you move here to Fort Collins!! I've lived here for 2 years now and have enjoyed it. I'd be happy to help and be a resource for you. I also went to Bikram here in town during training and it's amazing and Bridget and Kyle just rock my socks! So keep me in mind and I'm happy to assist!

mmmonyka said...

Of course I made that statistics up, so it might be slightly off:)
But my friend from college did ran 8*800 at 2:01-03 with 1min rest last year and claimed afterwards that the workout was not as bad as he thought it would be (he was prepared for nearly death experience though) and he sure cannot run 2:03 marathon. Based on this experience he was sure that the best marathon runners can do such workout with 800s in 2min no problem if he could do it. Maybe not 10 of them, but 8 or 9 definitely. And if they take 2min rest they can do wonders (like 10x800). Those Kenyans have unbelievable quick recovery after all that aerobic running they do so 2min rest is probably enough for them to fully recover.
I really think that they can do it but do not know any Kenyans to ask them about it. So you will just have to believe me.

Alicia Hudelson said...

Wow, nice job! I hate running in windy conditions--all the more impressive of a PR! But did you throw in the bit about the two-hour hilly run on Thursday just to make me mad?:)

PiccolaPineCone said...

Congratulations on your PR! I am really excited for you (though not perhaps as excited as Stephanie :) ).
I find Yasso 800s work best for people whose natural gifts are for endurance. With people who are made for middle distance (like yours truly) they predict way too fact. Case in point - my best ever Yasso work-outs was 2:46s (oh, I miss those days!!).
FInally, my ignorant opinion of Western medicine is simply this - it works extremely well for some conditions, syndromes and maladies. Many, many other conditions are improved by losing weight, eating well, staying hydrated and getting more sleep, perhaps activities like yoga and western medicine, while it can medicate these other conditions, will not cure them. Then finally there is the unfortunately group of illnesses which will not be helped by either. But, my degree is in Botany...

sea legs girl said...

Stephanie - you have received my email! :) Thank you! (She was fooled by the bot guard, folks!)

sea legs girl said...

Wow, Mmmonyka --- either your friend was very fast or very lying! But I will make no further comments about 800s. Other than to say the woman who owns the Bikram yoga studio in Fort Collins was the CO state champion in 800 meters. Cool.

sea legs girl said...

Olga- I was wondering why it was called a dialogue! Thanks for clearing that up. With the race being on Sunday, I felt I had plenty of time to rehydrate from a class on Friday.

I had no idea you were a Bikram instructor. What was the 9 week boot camp like?

sea legs girl said...

Alicia - I only run as SR instructs now. He said my legs shouldn't get stiff, so we ran on the Thursday before the Sunday race. I don't think it negatively impacted my race. Starting November 1st I am starting with a new, non-husband coach (not that I feel SR is doing a bad job at all). I will give more details on the blog soon.

mmmonyka said...

Maybe it was a combination of both. Who knows. But he used to be a freaking fast 800/1600m runner, thus it is probably what PPC said that for middle distance runners it predicts too fast.

So when is your next marathon PR attempt?

mmmonyka said...

You are going to be a total beast once you start with a good coach whose instructions you will follow!

Fast Bastard - World's Fastest Hematologist said...

Mmmonyka, I don't think we have any way of really finding out, but I am quite sure very few people can run sub 5k world record pace for 8 (or 10)K with 1 minute rest. A 2 minute 800 is 12:30 pace, 7 seconds faster than Bekele's world record (and no one is even close to challenging that right now).

I haven't looked up the Slovak 5000m record, but your friend apparently ran 12:45 pace for 8K! Forget the Slovak record; I wonder if Mo Farah has even run that fast, and I think he has the European record.

12:45 is almost like a 2:03.

Maybe your friend was being a little optimistic?

Olga said...

FB, may be the track was short? :)

Alicia Hudelson said...

A coach! Excellent. Although, I have to say, I have difficulty imagining you actually obeying one...

Runner tracking for my marathon on sunday, in case you get bored:

sea legs girl said...

Thank you, Alicia! There is no way I won't be following along. My record is at stake here. PLUS I really want you to kick ass :). Any chance you could win? How big of a marathon is it?

Finally, I told probably the most famous runner in Denmark about you not too long ago. I said you ran your first marathon when you were 12, to which he replied "that is not healthy". To which I replied "but she still loves running!"

mmmonyka said...

Oh no, my friend is American. I do not know any Slovak runners that can run 5k in 14:30.

But he did only 8x800, so that is "only" 6,4k.
I never questioned it because it sounded reasonable to me based on his 800m times, but when you put look at it based on 5k pace it indeed sounds unreasonable. I figured that when a 800/1600 specialist moves to longer distances and he runs 800 10sec slower than what he routinely used to run then it should feel somehow easy (at least for a few of them) even with only 1min break, because 10sec is a lot in 800.
But who knows.

Alicia Hudelson said...

Wow, I now have a claim to fame in Denmark! I was 13 though, not 12, so maybe that makes it all okay:)

No chance of winning. It's about 2,000 people and the winning times for women have generally been between 2:45 and 2:55. But top 25, maybe.

I think your time is almost certainly safe--I'll probably aim for closer to 3:20 because I think trying for 3:16 could be a suicide mission. Also it's supposed to be really windy all morning:(