Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

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

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

When in Rome, Minnesota (one year after "going pro")

We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty - Vroomfondel

Question: if someone asked you "Nigh sow nihnih?" What would you respond?

(no, that is not Danish. This is what I was just asked by a Duluth construction worker... translation at bottom).

Ah, yes, what do we need in life besides love, humility, sun, food and water? As I was warming up once again on the UMD track, it occurred to me: dreams.

So I ask you: what do you dream of and is it a dream worth having?

Maybe I ask you because I don't want to ask myself.

One year ago this week, SR started talking to me about UROC. "Oh my God, M' Lady, you could totally win money at this race!" Money? Ultra? What?

Stow that thought...

That very week, I was fully wrapped in Chrissie Wellington's

And I allowed myself to completely fall in love with her and with the idea of becoming a professional athlete as an adult. Every adult I knew as a kid would have thought this idea was insane. Most adults I know now think this idea is insane.

I told SR, "I want to do it. I want to be a professional ultra runner."

Weird the way the mind works. That following weekend, I ran a PR half marathon in 1:28 (on a hilly course!)... and won prizes at Griseløbet equalling over $500 and I thought maybe I should give this training to be a pro thing a shot. Why not, right?

(there are plenty of "why nots"... not the least of which is time with kids and at work)

So how did it go?

I ran a marathon PR (though was injured and got lost)
I ran a 5k PR (while injured)
I kept training and got depressed (probably from overtraining)
The injury got worse (again from overtraining)
I started with my coach, Ole.
I ran the Bandera 100km and dropped out (still injured)
I ran the Grenaa 6 hour race and dropped (still injured)
Dude, this professional runner thing sucks and isn't very lucrative!
I learned how to run from Ole.
Looking back, this is when the tables started to turn. Pose running. Natural running. Chi running. Whatever you want to call it. It is running correctly. And it saved my "career".

""Anything -- from a sandwich, money in your pocket or knowledge-through-experience -- is not worth having unless you can share it with others." -- Joe Vigil to Deena Kastor

One thing you can take from this blog: if you want to improve, want to keep running and stop getting injured, learn proper running technique! 

Anyway, after that, I, on a still injured leg, but now starting to actively lift my feet, increase my cadence, etc. took 3rd in the Fyr til Fyr 60k trail run on Bornholm and I loved running again. I signed up for a 100 miler (Salomon Hammer Trail) on a whim and won; leg injury basically gone. I took 2nd American at the IAU ultra trail world championships and I set a 18:49 5k PR and a week later won the Superior Sawtooth 50 miler (this is now 2½ weeks ago).

There you go. Set a goal and learn what it takes to achieve it (find people who can help you!). Pose running, trail running, strength training and smart training. Making Team Salomon Denmark and the USA Ultra Team made me a better runner, too for so many reasons: confidence, the best running gear and shoes, learning techniques and strategies from successful runners. Ok, 

I felt like I needed to write this because I noticed my blog suddenly got 1,100 hits. My name showed up as a "dark horse" favorite at UROC 100k on Ian Corless's talk ultra blog  and as a "notable entrant absence" on Irunfar. And I'm sure people were like "who is Tracy Hoeg??"

It is true that I am not running UROC after all. I don't think it is a good idea to run a race at altitude non-acclimatized. Ideally, one should go to altitude 2 weeks ahead of time. When I said yes to running UROC, I had hoped the whole family would be out there. But as a mom, 2 weeks absence from your kids is inexcusable if it is in preparation for a race. Honestly, I would love a shot at running next year (hopefully not at altitude), but of course I don't take the offer of an elite spot for granted.

When I finish my PhD in December, there is a distinct possibility that I will be the lowest paid MD, PhD in the Western World. I am looking for a job. I have applied. It's probably best to keep these things private. But I'm stressed.

Honestly, I have a very fulfilling job (on top of my full-time PhD) coaching women runners (pregnant or not) over email. (subject of another blog post some day) I also spend at least a couple hours a day responding to emails about endurance and pregnancy sports-related health problems (and I LOVE it!). These of course pay as well as my professional running career...

Since a lot of people write to me asking what my training is like, I thought I'd put a sample from the last week:

Wednesday: AM: hot yoga + 20 min elliptical + 30 min swim PM: 8km tempo on the Superior Hiking Trail with the Northern Minnesota Track Club (top of Spirit Mountain and down on technical trails)

Thurs: bike kids to school, daycare, 6 x 200 meters (on an indoor 100 meter banked track! (never again!--- the stares!) + 5 x depth jump from about 2 feet, hip exercises x 15, 50 lunges with weights, jog, repeat 4 times.
Fri: long run up and down Chester Bowl Ski area (trying to get used to being attacked by pitbulls now on a daily basis; two days earlier my leg was actually bleeding after an attack by a different pitbull)
Sat: Long run with SR 25 km on SHT Sat PM: party with cancer doctors (great to do something fun!)
Sun: hot yoga + swim + light running technique + play on beach with kids
Mon:  Bike (10 miles) kids to school & daycare,15 km run on SHT up to this view over Duluth (there is no shortage of vertical gain here)

Or technical trails
Tues (today): Bike 5 miles straight up to UMD, warm-up 6x400 meters (ok, last time I ran them "too fast" according to Ole, so this time I focused on running slightly slower. It was strange.) 1:22-1:24 (2 min break), jump rope x 100, 30 air squats, 15 push ups, 15 hip exercises (repeat 4 more times), bike to Y, elliptical, hot yoga

Running Song of the Day: "Wings" by Haerts

What was the construction worker was asking:

"Nigh sow nihnih?" = "Nice sound, isn't it?" (about the bark of a pitbull)


wildknits said...

I suspect you ran past my house on your Monday run from the photos you posted.

Yup - hill workouts are NOT optional in this town.

Congrats on the successes in running. Impressive.

sea legs girl said...

I kept thinking you must live around there (and I am jealous of theat)! We should really go on a run sometime!

Olga King said...

I think you made the right decision on all parts. You'd suffer, not fulfill your dreams, yet missed out on kids' weekend. I hope they do it next year at lower elevations so many "normal" runners can attend and do their best. That whole "professional" though often goes like that. NOT that we shouldn't strive! But I do notice when it becomes a job - it, well, becomes a job. Number of dudes who went off their regular workforce for being a (low-level) paid runner lost their performance, may be stress to show the results, may be less structure, may be too much running lead to injuries...Heard of Adam Campbell? He is back to work. How many are not racing as often and as well as they did when they were regular Joe's? Anyway, not to stray you aside, but this whole "running career" IS very temporary, and we need to keep a head in the game of life. Give it best shot, may be take a year off if you can afford and have support - but don't hope to bank on it. Yes on coaching, very rewarding (and very time-consuming, all I do is email - thank God for my boring real-life job but my poor hubz really suffers for my mental check-out on the computer at our rare evenings together. Stay happy. Thanks for answering my email:) And I keep my fingers crossed for your future job!

SteveQ said...

I thought for sure it was "Nice out, isn't it?" to which I'd answer "You betcha."

Most of the professional runners I know end up being corporate shills with blogs that say how wonderful all their stuff is.

I must be the only person NOT coaching right now, which is a little sad, as I enjoy it and am pretty good at it.

sea legs girl said...

Olga, Steve. Great thoughts. Thank you both. "Corporate shill": what all kids want to be when they grow up ;o).

wildknits said...

Let's talk dates. Though I had best be well rested and ready for a speedy run I think ;-)

wildknits said...

Let's talk dates. Though I had best be well rested and ready for a speedy run I think ;-)

Rebeca said...

1) I also thought the question was "nice out, isn't it?" I have the lovely combination of a midwestern accent and a tendency to speak very, very quickly (unless that's just part and parcel of a midwestern accent?)
2) Pitbull attacks are nasty. I had one awhile back that left longterm muscle damage (in addition to destroying a pair of tights and a running jacket. Not sure which made me angrier...)