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

"It's better to feel pain than nothing at all. The opposite of love's indifference." - The Lumineers

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The Day of the Dots

This has been a day of mixed emotions, to say the least. The only way I can manage to write about it is to go in chronological order.

We had to wake up early. Who doesn’t when they are about to fly across an ocean? This time it would be SR and Christian on the SAS plane. SR has a Hematology conference in Chicago, an important meeting in Duluth and my parents miss their first-born grandchild.

SR and I had agreed yesterday that we’d do my interval workout together on the track this morning as a good-bye. Nothing could describe us better as a couple than this. He wants to be with me, to support me, to see me succeed and, on the track, everything is measurable. Ole had 5 x 1000 meters on my schedule. It was pouring rain and we took Christian in the baby jogger to the track, where he sat in the covered bleachers. We thought he would play with the soccer ball, but he actually preferred to watch his parents run (his mom as fast as she could) together, round and round.

The rain was almost coming down in sheets, so much that SR made some sort of grunting “are we really going to run intervals in this?” He knew he didn’t need to ask that, it was merely a way of stating that the day ahead of us was going to be difficult.

The times were as follows (we didn’t have time for a decent warm-up, 2 min break)

3:53
3:45
3:48
3:45
3:46
3:45


I kept my Garmin going to see what I would come through the 5k in and it was 18:03! Of course, we've been through this and Garmins can’t be used on tracks; the actual total 5000 meter total time was 19:02.

It was the interval experience of a lifetime. I love running with SR next to me, telling me my splits, quietly and unexpectedly encouraging me. By the end, Christian was ready to go home. There was no time to dwell on anything today.

We took the train to the airport and I stood there hugging my little boy. Our favourite book lately is called “Petit-Bleu et Petit-Jaune” which is about a blue dot and his best friend, a yellow dot.



They do everything together and one day they hug each other so hard that they become a green dot. Christian has decided that I am the blue dot and he is the yellow. We have been a green dot more times than I can count this past week, but for the next 5 weeks (their trip and then mine to California) we will only be a blue and yellow dot (except for the mere 18 hours of cross-over). I cried. He hates seeing me cry. He just wants to be a green dot.

From there, I boarded the train to Kokkedal. I had a meeting with Kim Sørensen from Salomon at 2pm. He has a way of making me feel at home. He loves his job, loves trail running. We have no shortage of things to talk about. It is just me who can’t get over the lingering feeling that I’m not good enough for all of this. Then again, who would think they are good enough to for free get all of the clothing and gear of their dreams for the sport they love?? Does Kilian Jornet feel worthy? I wonder these things sometimes.

Of course, it is not things that make you feel warm. It is this sense; the sense of the trail running community here. The sense that we are people who love this sport, believe in the future of this sport, and are committed to making trail running come alive here. (it is all just very fortunate for me that I got that hip injury which has kept me from running on the roads- and who needs roads anyway?).

So, I left the meeting with an enormous Salomon bag full of my new stuff,
Beautiful Salomon bag juxtaposed with the elder statesman blue running backpack, exasperated yellow bottle and the ground at Copenhagen Central Station
(and much more is on the way!). But never really being capable of being superficial, never feeling a need to dress like the in-crowd, I am most excited about my job as an ambassador for Salomon, sharing my experience, spreading the good word. There is no doubt they make very high quality stuff, and running as much and as long as I do, I will certainly appreciate the quality and craftsmanship of their products.

Alicia had asked me if I would be running in white polka-dot shorts now at Salomon 4 Trails (feel free to guess the tone of her question). I would just like to assure you all that, yes, you will be seeing me in the white polka-dot Salomon shorts and this may put a damper on my old habit, which required black shorts. (I hope that was cryptic enough for those of you not following along in the days of CCU).´

Running song of the day "I was a fool for love" by Tegan & Sara



Addendum
Christian is gone for one day and suddenly Mattias has gone from a 2 word vocabulary to a 100 word vocabulary. (I can't believe how grown up he is!) 

Monday, 27 May 2013

Salomon Trail Tour 10k - Hvalsø

Christian complained as I ran him over to daycare in the babyjogger. "Mom, why aren't you wearing the red shoes? They make you run faster." Even my son has turned into a living Salomon advertisement. And I did run a lot faster in those shoes. They were just too wet this morning to wear again.

I know they came out a long time ago (2012), but since I was so extremely impressed with them, I have to just say a couple things: They were desgined specifically for Kilian Jornet to run Western States in. They are light, breathable, 4mm drop and fit like a glove. Compared to my New Balance minimus shoes, they have incredibly good traction. I felt so confident and comfortable in them. 
Salomon S-Lab Sense

The problem was, yesterday I needed spikes.

Aside: Why is it I have never talked about Salomon shoes before on this blog? Because we live in Næstved and don't have access to a store with Salomon shoes, so I couldn't try them. I felt so fortunate to be able to try them in Hvalsø - and all participants had the opportunity to try a pair (model of their choice).

Back to yesterday: In what kind of a 10k race with 350 participants is the men's race won in nearly 44 minutes? I'm about to explain.
During my warm-up, I decided to run as much of the route as I could-- and I was shocked! You entered this thick forest brush and had to run straight through it- no trail- just felled trees, branches, roots, leaves - you name it - and then the red tape directed me out into --- a lake? What? Yes, we had to run though a lake where the mud at the bottom was deeper than the water. There were so many reeds that there would have been no point in swimming. I tried the lake crossing twice and then ran out in to a mud bath trail (it had rained the last two days and was still raining) and in my New Balance Minimus shoes I felt like I was making more sideways than forward motion. I didn't dare try a downhill in them. This is when I went to the start and asked Kim if I could test some Salomon shoes. I tried the same route again and it went much, much better. Now I was as ready as I could be to run.

In the meantime, SR had been out with the boys in the babyjogger-- looking for a fictitious ice cream parlor in the middle of Hejede Overdrev (aka sweet nowhere). How incredible is it that he came with the boys to support me? (45 minute drive each way. I get the feelilng he is committed to this relationship).

How do you oraganize a 10k cross race - that will become a single track trail race- with 350 starters? First, begin with a "Braveheart" start.
See video of the dramatic start

And the lead Icelandic horse tölting beautifully.

The pack. See 10 o'clock, on the grassy noll.
Then to avoid crowding, we ran the first km or so out over a wide field of wet long grass.


I felt so strong at this point and was 3rd female, just behind Camilla Rath and Dorte Dahl.
In about 10 seconds I am going to run into the woods, trip over a branch and land on my face (ok, not my face,  but pretty much every other body part). This is part of the charm of a cross country race. Although, I think I was the only one who did this...


Through the water (those who wanted to opt out of the waist-deep water part could take "the chicken" route, which took approx. 45 extra seconds).



Photo: Kim Sørensen







Christian, Mattias and SR managed to find me at four different points during the race. It was awesome. They didn't even compalin about the rain. I love my boys.
The whole race felt like some sort of wild roller coaster. This is why I train.. to be able to run my heart out at races like this!


Billede
SLG, Dorte and Camilla: 3rd, 1st and 2nd.
Oh my GOSH, I loved running with (behind) Dorte and Camilla. They are both from Blovstrød Løverne and are in command on those trails! I wish so much I could train with them more often. (you may recall Dorte from her win at Fyr til Fyr).
Having good trail shoes sure helped.
But as stated earlier, had I known how muddy it would be - and had I owned spikes - I would have gained a lot from wearing them.

I am excited that Kim Sørensen allowed me to take the S-Lab Sense pair home to try out a bit more. I will be meeting with him on Wednesday to start picking out some clothing, shoes and gear for Four Trails and UROC. I am excited about the new model of S-lab Sense that has more traction. Maybe I'll have more details after Wednesday.

The results of the race are here. (the first place boy, Alexander Siedler Nielsen, came in in the top 10 for the men! He will be someone to watch in the future).
They called me up for my third place prize right before the camera battery wore out. I won a super nice Salomon running backpack + vest as well as a free consultation at Causa Clinic (osteopaths who are experts in sports injuries)

I did not know it was possible to be so sore after a 10k. I had hoped to just use it as a training run (replaced my tempo run this week), but I was so sore I could hardly run this morning. The good thing is, it is the best type of sore: in the muscles and not in the tendons or ligaments. I'll say it again and a million more times- trail running is awesome- just one more reason is- strength without injury.

An awesome race. No complaints from me! I only wish I could run it every week!

Edit: Thinking it over a bit more, the thing that set this race apart from others, beyond its difficulty and mudiness, was the Midievel feeling- the bugle & Braveheart start, the lead horse & the feeling we were fighting for our survival in an ancient forest. Nice.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

200 meter PR & Salomon

I think a PR should be mentioned, no matter how short the distance. Or rather, I'll mention it so I know what to compare future times to.

SR accompanied me to the track (the one that is the correct length) today and we did 200's x 6 together, with a 2 minute break. When I say he ran them with me, he really did run them right next to me (I think because he wanted to see if I had been lying about my interval times).

Here is what they were

37
38
37
38
38
38

(Just for the record, they did induce a migraine again. Again, I had to take a nap to make it go away.)

I had never run one faster than 39 sec before - and I think I only did that once. For such a short distance, I am well aware of what a huge improvement this is and thinking I need to find a fast 5k like right now. Well, it's not to be. Tomorrow I am running the Salomon Trail Tour 10k in Hvalsø (my favourite place to run in Denmark outside of Bornholm). Of course it will be awesome.

Trail Tour produkter 2013: vizor, DVD, vitamin well, red bull mm.
All of the runners tomorrow will get these in their race packet!

Speaking of Salomon

Yesterday, the unthinkable happened! I was offered a Salomon sponsorship from Salomon Denmark. It started out rather rocky when I entered Kim Sørensen's phone number into my telephone after he gave it to me on Facebook. I was supposed to call him between 8 and 9 am. At 8:05 I call "Kim" and a crackly voice answers telling me it is 1AM and he is in Peru (this is all in Danish) and why am I calling him? (I started thinking I had dreamt the whole thing about me being invited to call him - but where did I get this number - oh dear!) And suddenly I realized I was calling the wrong Kim, race director of Hammer Trail, and woke him up before he was to start Jungle Ultra. Noooo!!! What a stupid, terrible mistake. Kim S from Hammer Trail was extremely nice and understading. Geez. Good thing it was two days before race start.

When I called the correct Kim from Salomon, I immediately could sense this was the right thing and, wow, they really do treat their athletes well. And what a huge honour for me to represent this company, which really has done so much for trail running in Europe (my experience with them in the US is limited).

Tomorrow, as mentioned, I'll be running their 10k trail race in Hvalsø, which will undoubtedly be won by Camilla Spagner, also a Salomon athelte, who can crank out a 37 minute 10k when needed. I do feel like there suddenly is a little pressure on me to not finish in the middle of the pack. I'm just hoping that my hard work and dedication to representing their products and writing honest reviews will make up for my lack of talent and beauty.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

The return to intervals & UROC

"The return to intervals" should be sung to the tune of Enigma's "return to innocence" ayiiiayiiiaaaayohayiiayiiay, etc.

It's been 3 weeks since Hammer Trail, 4 weeks since my last intervals. This morning I woke up with an intense desire to go to the track. When I have these desires, I find I just have to go with them (time permitting).

Ole had the following intervals on my schedule for this week:

8 x 400 meters, each 400 interval followed by a 400 meter jog.

Here's how it looked

1:19
1:24
1:26
1:26
1:24
1:20
1:24
1:24

This is about 3:29 min/km pace or 5:41 min/mile. I'm sitting here scratching my head- how did I get FASTER at intervals by running 100 miles and then going on lots of slow runs the weeks afterwards? Sometimes improvement is so counterintuitive. Yet, over the last month, I have done nothing but listen to the signals I've gotten from my legs & brain about what I can or can not do physically that day.

Or am I faster simply because I lost weight? (to this SR said- look at 400 meter sprinters, they aren't exactly skinny. To which I replied "just imagine how fast they would be if they were!" ;0))

UROC

The Ultra Race of Champions 100k. I have been eyeing this race ever since last September when they announced it would be held in Colorado. I had this little deal with SR that I would only be allowed to go if I were invited as an elite. I figured there was very little chance of this, but I had pasted it with a "?" on my race schedule, simply because I was dreaming. Last night my dream came true when Gill fom UROC & Bad to the Bone sent me an elite invitation because of my race at Hammer Trail. You seriously never do know what is going to happen!

(and it happened exactly 24 hours after I had signed up for the Superior 100 miler, which take place a mere 3 weeks before UROC!)

The thing that struck me most so far about being in the elite field (besides the fact that I don't have any scruples about throwing the word "elite" around) is the fact that there is a press conference the night before! Ha. I can't wait for this. It will be so fun to meet so many of the people I have only read about for years. Of course I don't belong there, but don't tell anyone, ok?

One of the things I promised to do is post these on my blog/website:


But the course and the exciting atmosphere are what are really going to sell this race.
Awe, look at the cute little runners. Photo: vail.com

I have been asked to fill out a questionnaire about my participation. And one of the questions is who my sponsor is. I'm sitting here wondering if I leave this blank if they will decide they don't want to invite me after all. Hmmm.

Okay- now as for getting better at running in the moutains. So far, I have come up with one strategy with Alicia & Divesh. I am going to sleep with them in their two person altitude tent all summer in Appleton, WI and Divesh has promised to pretend he is a foreign exchange student. Whoever said preparing to run a moutain 100k would be difficult?

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Tree trunk sign, the desire to run long & dual citizenship

Tree Trunk Sign: When you have an imprint of a tree +/- bark on the front of your shirt and chest skin, accompanied by various frightended but friendly bugs and crawlers. This is pathognomonic for running steeply downhill in mud and torrential rain in the forest with New Balance minimus "trail" shoes.

And my call out for help- I need trail running shoes with a good tread. Can anyone out there recommend a minimalist trail running shoe with traction that can take on the Alps and Superior Hiking Trail even in the event of rain?

(I am willing, very willing, to write a review if someone sends me a product to test. Just throwing it out there. European size 40.)

This is exactly how my mind works- I just remembered that I won a pair of Inov8 Mudroc shoes that I simply need to return and get in my size. At least I'll have something! Seems like they offer traction satisfation. Yes, I just arranged it with Extreme Sports in Lynge and a pair is coming my way.


The Desire to Run Long

But first- did this seriously show up on my Facebook page from Polar Dash?

Um- this woman is not a runner. She is a model who wears annoying shiny chapstick and "natural" (very obvious) makeup and annoys the hell out of me. Go away. I don't like your bra. I don't want to run in your bra (it wouldn't fit me anway). Get off of my blog.


Perhaps my blood sugar is too low to write about running ultra marathons.

The thing is, I read Amy Sproston's blog and it struck me. She sat looking out of the plane window at Mount Hood and the familiar gorgeous nature of her home. And - yes- that is it. We run long because we can. Because we can traverse forest trails and parks and river edges and really, really be a part of this earth and it is a home for our soul.

What better motivation is there to run a 100 miler other than WE CAN?

And then - as many ultra runners know - there are also times you can't fathom why you ever would or did want to run so long. So many people have suffered from overtraining- it is being discussed more and more. If you don't love the experience of running, take a break.

Last winter, I kept thinking- why am I running? I wish I were doing X (this was usually swimming or Bikram Yoga). But after Fyr til Fyr, it came back- just like that in a lightning strike as quickly as the desire went away.

Dual citizenship

Exciting times in Denmark now as a majority in the current government is for allowing dual citizenship. Learn more here: http://www.statsborger.dk/. This obviously would have a huge positive impact on our family: if a bill is proposed and passed. If you are a Dane opposed to double citizenship, I would love to hear your reasons and thoughts.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Winforce 100k Preview, Two noteworthy performances & My next 100 miler (aka THE FUTURE)

So have I mentioned how excited I am that trail ultras have made it to Denmark (finally)?? (okay maybe only 5 or 10 times) - well, it looks like they are here to stay. Today I was out measuring and photographing the Winforce 100k route with Christian & Christian M, which will take place August 17th in northwest Sjælland.

Martin Paldan (Denmark's most well-known adventure sports photographer) was supposed to accompany us, but his motorcykle broke down, so the Christians had to settle for the less-known, less-equipped Sea Legs Girl Run N Snap. Here are pics from the 25k route (run a total of 4 times (did I just write that?)). We only ran it once.

Christian, Christian & small head


The first 3k were a bit technical, but very runnable.






The first and only water stop on the route (besides the start/finish) after about 10km.









Sjællands 3rd highest point: Vejrhøj 121 meters.



Wild onions smell wonderful! They adorn the route in many places. 

And that rounded off 110km over 4 days. All on trails. Think I'm sad about not running Copenhagen Marathon? Or Skechers 100k on roads? Not really. Not at all. I'm just happy to not be injured. And to be experiencing Denmark like this. (if as a baseline you think of Denmark's nature as boring, you will constantly be pleasantly surprised).

In summary, Winforce has a runnable, beautiful, varried route with almost no asphalt. Lots of altitude change - enough for almost 3 points for UTMB, but all finishing participants will receive 2.

I am so excited to be part of the making of this race- and look very much forward to being race physician (I would of course love to make this a focus of my practice in the future). Looks like SR will be running it. It is just his kind of route. I would not be surprised if he wins. He will do well if he doesn't cramp up. That's where I come in with a magic electrolyte elixir.


Two noteworthy preformances


Veéra Vainio, 21 years old from Finland Photo: BT
Veéra ran her first marathon last year at age 20 in under 3 hours, then went on to run another in 2:53. Today at the Copenhagen Marathon she ran a 2:56 marathon for 6th place woman on a very humid day. She just started running, but was an extremely active child according to this article: involved in gymnastics, hopping, skiing, ballet, dance, jump rope, etc, etc. http://www.arcticsportaddicts.fi/veera-vainio-menee-eika-meinaa. Doesn't she look amazing?

Speaking of amzing

Pia Joan Sørensen after 40k in 3:08 on her way to winning the Danish 100km championship. Photo: Skechers Ultra
Today my dear friend, Pia ran the 2nd fastest 100km ever by a Danish Female. Her time was 8:29:01. This woman is such an inspiration to me. She absolutely LOVES to run and runs a lot! It is so fun to see her achieve something so incredible. She was on pace to run sub 8 hours but got very bad stomach cramps the last 20 k. An incredible time, which she no doubt can improved if she desires (and I think she does).

Sidenote: one woman gets good at running by not running (jumping, skiing, dancing, etc) and one woman gets good at running by running a lot. That's all I have to say.

My next 100 miler

So it looks like I will be running the Superior Sawtooth 100 miler. Haven't signed up, but will soon. SR hasn't written yet about his future job on his blog yet, but said I could after his phone conversation last week. Looks like we will be moving to Duluth, Minnesota. My job will still be in Denmark, so there will be lots of transatlanticism in our lives. But more time spent together than not by far. In terms of places to live in the US, it could hardly get better than Duluth.

My last running song of the day reminded me of an even better song and an even better band from 20 years ago now (wow). I am so in love with Tanya Donelly. How much is too much? She has so many good songs to choose from.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Active recovery, optimal weight & diet and preferential calorie consumption

Training since the Salomon Hammer Trail 2 weeks ago has been 100% "designed" by myself while coach Ole took at little break from determining my every athletic motion. We took a family trip with the HG Tri club to Mallorca, Spain- and this is how things have looked.

Active recovery

Fri-Sat: 100 miles (Bornholm)
Sun: nothing
Monday: 30km bike, 30 min swim
Tuesday: 2km run, yoga
Wednesday: 30 km bike in Mallorca
Thursday: 30 min ocean swim, 90km bike in mountains
Friday: 30 min ocean swim, 5k easy run

Saturday: ½ Ironman in 5:53 (took it pretty easy, had a ton of fun; no signs of injury)

I ran for a long time with this fellow inhabitant of Denmark, whose name I didn't get!

Maria (left) and I had been theorizing for months who between the two of us would race a faster ½IM. I love being part of a club! 
Sunday: waterpark with the kids
Monday: 30 min ocean swim, 150km bike in the mountains (with the fast guys- ouch)
Up to Sollér
Rasmus, Rasmus &... Allan
Tuesday: 90km bike with SR, 5k run with fam while I pushed baby jogger (header picture above). Loved the British guy who sang "military family" as we went by. Damn straight.
Wednesday: 2 hour moutain run- single track! up to Puig de San Martí, down, up again, down---- sunrise view over the Alcúdia bay. Tears of joy were shed. What a run!
Thursday: 23km trail run over the åsen back in Næstved. All about slowness and tons of hills.
Friday: 7km run- starting to pick up the pace, trails - 1 hour pulse/step/core - 25 minutes of my own crossfit

This was pretty active and I have not felt so UNinjured since last August. High volume and low intensity seems to fit my recovery needs well. Plus trail running seems to be key for me.
Baby "foot fetish" Mattias
Optimal weight

I'm there right now and happy about it. I lost over 3 lbs since Hammer Trail. Just stepped on the scale yesterday for the first time and it was reproducible today. Hadn't expected it, but I am back at my "ideal" Ingrid Christian BMI when she set the marathon world record- specifically 5´6" 106 lbs.

If I hadn't been so active, I would think I had lost muscle, but it doesn't seem like it.

Now- I am talking about optimal marathon and ultramarathon weight. Not optimal- "I want to attract the opposite sex weight" (which would be more) or optimal "I want to model skirts" (which would sadly be less). I have come to the conclusion that optimal marathon and ultramarathon weights are equivalent since the very best ultramarahoners also tend to be some of the very best marathoners.
Optimal diet
This week in Mallorca was stellar in terms of diet. They had an all-you-can-eat salad bar. In the mornings I had oatmeal, lunches (no salad bar) were basically Clif Bulders Bars and chocolate, dinners- 2 enormous plates of salad (always with an abundance of beets) and fish.
I have heard time and again that beets are good for recovery. How much they helped my recovery from the 100 mile run, I can't say, but I feel like they helped. Beets have a combination of Vitamin C, B vitamins (including folate), fiber, magnesium, potassium and iron. These things together would make a nice recovery pill, but our bodies are so much better at uptaking real food. There is a lot of logic (despite it seeming like a fad) behind the theory that beets are wonderful for athletes.

Just to reiterate some past posts: the four best things I ever did for my diet:

1. Give up artificial sweeteners (100%)
2. Stop eating gluten
3. Increase protein intake
4. Increase Omega 3 Fatty Acid intake

Preferential burning of fat

I think we have all noticed in our infinite boredome the little picture of "fat burning" zones on athletic equipment. I had never given it too much thought since my goal was usually cardiovascular fitness instead. That was until I heard Casper Wakefield talking about how he had to adapt his body to preferentially burn fat (over glycogen) so he could suvive the Yukon Ultra with less food and less energy expenditure.

Then there was an article about Henrik Them, the big favorite at the Copenhagen Marathon this Sunday, in Politiken.  He is pictured here wearing a mask which measures his CO2 output.
Photo: Daniel Hjorth

The idea is, he can't do too much of his workout at threshold. He needs lots of easy "fat burning" miles, but also a certain amount of time at his threshold (and max CO2 output) so he can improve his speed. It seems like a tricky and fascinating balance. This is, I have gathered, why it is so hard to get good at the marathon without enough slower long runs.

Apparently our diets can also be used to preferentially burn fat if we deplete our glycogen stores and don't have extra sugar in our blood. This can be done by either running in the morning on an empty stomach or by limiting carb intake before runs. 

I'm no expert at this, but find it interesting, so stop me if I have misunderstood something. 







Running song of the day: (One of the greatest things in life has to be finding a song you can play over & over & over - and it keeps sparking you on.) Best Coast - Fear of My Identity