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 28 June 2008

Vacation Begins

Last night we stayed up late watching the track and field Olympic trials. We ate an obscene amount of homemade banana bread (a vegan recipe of my sister's). For the first time in my life Olympic runners looked like normal people. I used to think they looked so gaunt and muscular.

We ran a nice 17 miles today.

Oh, and SR got a job. The Bois and I actually went to the interview with him. It'll be a great patient population. And now that stress is gone :).

We leave tomorrow for our trip to California and Nevada. I'm ready to just spend time being in love with my boys. And I'm so excited about the running and hiking. Here's our itinerary:

Sunday 6-29: flying in and staying in San Fran
Monday 6-30: run in state park in San Fran, buy camping supplies and head out to Lake Tahoe.
Monday night - Thurs 7-3: stay in cabin near lake Tahoe a mile hike from the road, without running water (just a bed for lots of love and a place to store our running shoes).
Thursday 7-3: Drive to Reno to stay with a wonderful couple
Friday 7-4: Driving to San Fran, stay in a Bed and Breakfast
Saturday 7-5: Racing 50K (SLG) and 25k (SR) on Angel Island.
Sunday 7-6: Eat in and leave B&B, tour San Fran, drive to Sacramento
Monday 7-7: Long bike tour of Sacramento.
Tuesday 7-8: Drive back to Reno
Wednesday 7-9 to Friday 7-10: Head out to the Sierra Buttes
Saturday 7-11: Back towards San Francisco, camp in state park
Sunday 7-12: Fly home

We're bringing my computer, so I'll try to write from the road.

Running Song of the Day: Malene by Sys Mjerre

Wednesday 25 June 2008

Perhaps my training sucks

We are planning to run the Angel Island 50k on July 5th as part of our honeymoon adventure. Actually, SR decided yesterday to change to the 25k (because he doesn't want to beat up his legs for the rest of the summer and he wants to pace me at the end of my race). I am certain I'll be having the time of my life at another ultra.

But something that SR keeps reminding me of, is I don't know how to train. He says I'm robbing myself of speed by running so much (ie. I need to take days off between hard days and have days of tempo runs). Here's the pathetic training plan I've had for the past month:

Mon: run 11-12 miles with babyjogger
Tues: run 5-6 miles with babyjogger, swim 1 mile
Wed: run 11-12 miles with babyjogger
Thur: run 5-6 miles with babyjogger, swim 1 mile
Fri: run 11-12 miles with babyjogger
Sat: run 15-20+ miles alternating with and without babyjogger
Sun: run 5-6 miles with babyjogger, swim 1 mile

So, yes, I run a lot with the babyjogger and I can't run too fast with that thing. And I don't take days off. But who knows, maybe running constantly with a babyjogger is great training for an ultra. We will find out on July 5th, I guess. But, no matter how fast I go that day, SR will just say, "just think of how fast you could have gone if you had trained properly."

Today I will attempt to run fast with the babyjogger and see how it goes. Then we're driving to an Indian Reservation where SR has a job interview.

Running Song of the Day: Freeway by Aimee Mann (a favorite alto voice of mine since I was 16... this is a new song)

Monday 23 June 2008

29 years old

Today is my birthday. Supposedly 29 marks the beginning of senescence. This is according to a Biology of Aging professor I had in Boston. So I am, of course, excited about senescing.

I am also musing about the fact that in the last year, I became a mother. Not of one, but of three. Here we are this past weekend on a "Team Lorax" expedition.

And I became a wife. We've been down about SR's job situation, but it sounds like he may get hired to do research. And we're going on our honeymoon to California and Nevada starting next weekend. Life is great when you are in love.

I'll leave you with a thought that makes me happy on my birthday...

This is how it works

You peer inside yourself

You take the things you like

And try to love the things you took

And then you take that love you made

And stick it into some

Someone else's heart

Pumping someone else's blood

And walking arm in arm

You hope it don't get harmed

But even if it does

You'll just do it all again

Running Song of the Day: On the Radio by Regina Spektor

Wednesday 18 June 2008

SR's Job

He doesn't deserve this misfortune. Especially not two days before his graduation. SR had a job (a four month position) he was ready to start in the middle of July, but due to an unbelievable turn of events he won't be getting it after all.

In order to tell the story, you need a little background.

I met SR two years ago. At first, I thought of him as this cute blond guy who was strangely good at sports and always talked to me about running. A couple months after I started residency I worked with him on an internal medicine rotation. He was my senior resident (SR). I had never worked with anyone who was so smart and funny and confident and cared so much about his work. Not only that, he made our jobs as clueless interns easy and fun. He loved to teach and when we forgot to do something, he did it, never allowing patients to suffer and never complaining. And all the staff members of the internal medicine department adored him. I often told my now ex-husband what a great doctor SR was and how much I enjoyed working with him. I wondered where this superstar could be from (it sounded like he had a northern Minnesota accent, but that's another story). Had he been from the U.S. he could have been doing neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, if he had wanted, with his credentials.

So how could he end up without a job after graduation? There's a one word answer, and that's jealousy. He asked for a letter of recommendation from a female staff member at our hospital. She happens to be a little older than me, single and a competitive runner. She agreed, but then, without any warning, wrote such a negative letter that he couldn't be hired (despite many staff members coming to his defense). Only now does SR admit she may have had a love interest in him. Who knows? We could only speculate. But I do know that jealousy is possibly the most deleterious of emotions. Worse than greed or even plain hate.
So SR will have to scramble to find a job of some sort. And as it stands right now, our family will be without health and dental insurance (ironic for two doctors, I know). But, this job, apparently, wasn't meant to be.

I guess I am making a big deal about the loss of a mediocre four month position. But it also makes it hard for him to get any job at our hospital. And, it seems impossible that after three years of hard work, long hours and heroic measures to be the wonderful and loving husband and father he is that he would get this slap in the face. I hope he knows how many peoples' lives he has changed for the better. He inspires and encourages everyone around him to learn medicine and to care about it. You meet people like SR so rarely; that type of person who seems more like an angel than a human.

Monday 16 June 2008


No, unfortunately, I'm not talking about a pet.

SR spent 48 weekend hours working at in ER in a small town an hour and a half away and I cleaned, cooked and cared for The Bois. It didn't start out that badly. I actually worked on Friday night, came home to the sitter and The Bois and I fell asleep. Saturday, I worked on a research paper and cleaned almost the entire house. We also went out for 2 1/2 hours with the baby jogger.

Okay, so Saturday was not too bad. And I love being so close to The Bois.

By Sunday, however, I found myself totally lacking inspiration. The only dialogue I had was with a 4 month old. Despite his relentless attempts at making sounds (screeching jabberwocky, docile "i i i's" and of course laughing sheep) I was getting no mental stimulation. I couldn't call SR or anyone else really because he had the cellphone and we don't have long distance from our house. I couldn't write the research article and I couldn't even blog. So I distracted myself with the babyjogger again for 2 1/2 hours. And then I made a grocery list for a Father's Day meal for SR. There is something about being a caretaker that drives one to want to cook. Normally I'm content eating oatmeal out of a box for all meals (as is well-described), but when boredom sneaks into your life, cooking is a remedy, if only temporary. Culinary artists out there will be offended, but this is just my experience. When I'm stimulated and busy at work and have SR to have fun with, I don't really care what I eat as long as it's healthy and easy to make. I also don't normally care if the house is a little messy, but when you're always in the house and have little else going on, you take pride in things like shiny floors. Of course, some people take pride in that when they have a lot going on, which is very cool, it's just not me.

On Sunday afternoon I found myself incapable of even doing the things I normally enjoy. I took The Bois out in the bike trailer and realized on the way to the grocery store (a 5-10 minute ride) that I forgot my helmet. I was so close to the store, it was pointless to go back. After The Bois screeched during our entire time at the store, we rode home. We crossed one of two intersections and something happened. I'm not exactly sure what. But I fell and looked up to see the bike and bike trailer running over me. The light turned green and The Bois was in the middle of the intersection! I had hit my head really hard, but the only feeling I had was the incredible need to move The Bois out of harm's way. As it turned out, everyone got out of their cars to help us. I was somewhat confused, but said I was fine. The Bois was just sitting there in his car seat looking around. I got back on my bike. As I rode, I started shaking and crying. I was bleeding from my face, arms, leg and back. And my head was throbbing. I'm never forgetting my helmet again.

SR returned and we had a good night. A really good recipe did come out of the domestication. As a preface I will say that I was sick of us purchasing expensive clif and power bars and having the waste of the wrappers. Here is my suggested alternative (which is less sweat and probably healthier):

Energy Bars

2 and 2/3 cups rye oats
1/3 cup flax seed meal
2 medium bananas, mashed
1/3 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup chopped pecans & walnuts
some cinnamon
1 tablespoon or so of honey
1 tablespoon or so of sugar free maple syrup
1 tablespoon black strap molasses
1 egg

Instructions: mix the dry stuff together. Then put the wet stuff in. Mix it really well. Grease a cookie sheet. Flatten mix onto cookie sheet so it's about 1/3 inch thick, then cut it into bars with a knife.

Cook for 15-20 minutes at 350 deg F.

This makes like 10 bars.

(Obviously lots of room to change things according to your taste)

And they're not for everyone...

Running Song of The Day: Gammel Kongevej by Szhirley

Thursday 12 June 2008

Why is The Bois so short?

I'm afraid of even writing about this because I can just imagine the accusatory responses I will get. But here goes. We had The Bois' 4 month well baby visit and the nurse practitioner was all compliments and The Bois performed like only The Bois can. But (and I can't believe I keep persevering over this!) he is 30th percentile for weight, 30th percentile for head circumference and only 3rd percentile for height! Yikes! Quite Danny Devitoid. SR and I are not short and neither are our parents. I'm the shortest among everyone at 5'6".

Of course I am tempted to blame myself in some way. Is it my weight loss and decreased production of breast milk? SR thought that was preposterous. Is it because I forget to give him his vitamin D drops? I did a little reading about baby growth and it said before 6 months, height is determined by "in utero environment." So immediately I accused myself of running too much during pregnancy and not gaining enough weight.

But am I being ridiculous? I remember a patient in medical school who was hospitalized for loss of proximal muscle control. She probably had polymyositis. Anyway, if you asked her "it all began when my cat jumped on my lap." Wow, how badly she wished that cat wouldn't have jumped on her lap! The point being, humans have a need to blame something when things don't go as planned. Should I blame myself for the Bois' short stature?

I will say that you apparently can't use the 4 month height to predict adult height as it fluctuates between percentiles so often. We'll have to wait until he's 2 to make any predictions apparently.

Running Song of the Day: Tree Bones by Port O'Brien

Tuesday 10 June 2008

Triathlon #1

Where to start? Well, the taper and eating frenzy began on Friday. The triathlon was on Sunday. On Saturday night, we attempted to go to bed early. SR of course fell asleep right away, but I lay awake until 3am listening to the constant barrage of thunderstorms outside and admiring the sleeping Bois. I guess I was nervous. We got up at 6am. 3 hours is good enough for an Olympic distance triathlon, right?... Anyway, SR wouldn't take any of my complaining. He was too excited.

I ate four enormous cookies that my mom had brought and felt a little sick. We drove to the race and hurriedly set up our transition equipment. Everyone was chatting about the canceling of the Olympic distance. They announced over the loudspeakers that the Olympic bike route had been flooded, so everyone would be doing the sprint distance. I gave up any hopes I had of doing well at that point. But, of course, it would still be fun.

With little time to spare, I had my mom and SR help squeeze me into the wetsuit. Why was it not going on as easily? SR does have keen eyes... "It's inside out!" He yelled right after this photo:

Everyone was already lined up and I was the second wave, starting in 6 minutes. Well, I learned how to get into that wet suit in half the time it had taken me before and ran into my wave of ladies. Every woman was wearing a wetsuit, at least in my intermediate distance. I felt a bit bad for SR in his baggy running shorts.

The Swim

The water was 69.5 degrees and felt so wonderful. I started in the back of the pack and lots of women started out quickly. They also tired out quickly and I crawled closer and closer to the front. I actually went back and forth between keeping my head out the water altogether and breathing every four strokes. I seemed to go the same speed either way. It is MUCH harder to breath in a lake than a pool. I normally go 10 strokes between breaths in a pool.

Distance: .25 miles
Time: 11.59 minutes

Transition #1

This involved running up a long ramp, getting out of the wetsuit, changing into socks and shoes, putting on my helmet and running my bike out of the transition area. It went fine, but I felt like a deer in headlights.

Time: 2.28 minutes (alright maybe it didn't go that well)

The Bike

By this time it was pouring rain. But I didn't mind at all. It just kind of felt like a leisurely ride. I don't really know how to ride quickly. I passed one woman. It was pretty uneventful, except for the beautiful hills. The rain at times felt like hail, but it was glorious. Near the end, I realized I would need to pee soon. Seeing as I was already completely soaked and the rain was still pouring down, I just peed on my bike. Somehow I doubt this is normal tri behaviour. Anyway...
Distance: 17 miles
Time: 59.18 minutes

Transition #2
I couldn't remember how to put my bike on the rack, kept trying to hang it from the BACK of the seat... dar dar dar. Then I looked around... OH, the FRONT of the seat hangs the bike. Geez.

Time: 52.3 seconds

The Run

I felt quite wobbly at first, but ran my heart out. I just kept passing people. I must have passed 50 people. Okay, maybe not quite, but I felt great! I actually PR'd on the run (yes, the fastest race 5k I've ever run). I ended up taking first for the women in the run, too, which at least sounds cool.

Distance: 3.1 miles
Time: 21.35 minutes.

I finished with SR running next to me (he had already finished and ran back). We were both full of adrenaline. We went and met my mom and The Lorax (aka The Bois) and I threw up everywhere.

Then we took this picture:


SR got 6th overall and 1st in his age group.
His overall time was: 1:18.37

I got 11th overall and 2nd in my age group.
My overall time was 1:36.14
I've got a lot of room for improvement in the swim and bike, but it was a really fun first attempt!

We stuck around for the awards and played with The Bois.

Here we are getting my second place mug:

After the race, we drove to a Bed & Breakfast in Red Wing, MN. We had a romantic evening, which somehow involved going to bed early and waking up late. After a 3 course breakfast and interesting conversation with a couple from Colorado, we drove to Frontenac State Park. This park has a big network of trails, mostly overlooking the gorgeous Lake Pepin. It was a perfect sunny day. We took turns running with the baby jogger along a paved path and exploring the dirt trails. In no time we had run for almost 4 hours.

I don't think SR and I have ever been as close as we were after that weekend. I think there is nothing we don't share. I wonder sometimes if he knows how completely I love him. After we spend a whole day running together, laughing at our beautiful son, perhaps we are as close to heaven as living humans can be.

Running Song of The Day: Gold into Straw by Brendan Benson

Thursday 5 June 2008

The Naturalist and The Magic of Every Day

Everyday I'm out on the marsh trail with The Bois, I see something wonderful that I wish I could take a picture of. Today that something was an old man, The Naturalist.

He said he was so glad I took The Bois out into nature. He pointed out the Little Yellow butterfly and said it sucks the moisture from between the rocks in the path and, at the same time, gets the minerals it needs.

He then turned to The Bois and said how beautiful and intent he was. We laughed about how babies would never survive if they weren't so cute; natural selection at its finest. He told me to take pictures of The Bois' feet, which I assured him I had.

Then he looked at The Bois and said "Babies know everything before they are born." I looked at him and he was crying. "Then an angel comes and touches them on the lips, so they are silent. He has this life to learn everything again."

Tri Training

The magic in our lives yesterday was swimming at dusk in the lake we'll swim in during the triathlon.

Sometimes I realize how lucky we are to be interested in the same things and to both be there to support each other.

SR says he's used to swimming in cold water because he swam in the ocean north of Denmark his whole life.

I on the other hand loved how warm the wetsuit made me feel. I doubt I could get myself to swim in 68 degree water without it.

Man, I do need to practice transitions, though. Since I'm doing the Olympic distance, they won't be as important, but I don't want to do anything stupid or forget to bring something.

And finally, on to the everyday magic of the human body.

There are some interesting discussions going on as responses to previous posts that I don't want to get lost.

They have to do with the effect of calorie restriction on metabolism.

I haven't found any evidence of calorie restriction causing anything but a "transient" hypothyroidism. How long transient is, I'm not sure. Has anyone found research to support long-term changes in metabolic rate not related to decreased muscle mass or decreased activity during calorie restriction?

As far as calorie restriction increasing lifespan (in response to Danni), I was taught (not to make myself sound impressive, but when I was doing research at Harvard) that this was most likely because of decreased free radical exposure. However, that is what I learned way back in 2003. It's possible it results from decreased cellular division or decreased metabolic rate. I am not aware of research that proves any one of these, however. And calorie restriction has only been shown to increase life span in rats. No human has ever successfully pulled it off for long enough. And with the amount of exercise most of the readers of this blog get, it's not an option. As many of you know, though, moderate exercise has been associated with longer life expectancy.
Hey, as long as The Bois isn't exercising, maybe I should get him started on the calorie restriction thing... ha ha ha. I'm just kidding!

Running Song of the Day: U Can't Touch This by MC Hammer

Tuesday 3 June 2008


Life is good right now. So good I'm almost scared.

My application to complete my residency and work as a doctor in Denmark is done. It took a while to gather everything, but all in all their system seems much more streamlined than in the US. SR also got his in, too, and should be able to start subspecialty training right away. We bought our plane tickets to leave the country at the end of November. Already we're talking about ski trips their and our more official (and big) wedding.

I also submitted a research article (unfortunately not on running in pregnancy... that one is still in the works).

And I'm back to exclusively breastfeeding The Bois (looking more and more like my diet WAS the limiting factor).

SR and I went shopping last night. I tried on dresses for his graduation and we bought his favorite for $59 (you gotta love Express). When it came to accessorizing a dress we were about equally clueless, though, so I opted not to buy anything. The Bois was unable to voice his opinion, unfortunately.

And we purchased a few things for the triathlon we're doing this weekend. This will be a first for both of us. We trained last weekend, doing the exact bike (24 mi.) and running (6.2 mi.) route for the intermediate distance (I'll be doing that distance and SR will be doing the sprint). The water has been so cold here, though, that we didn't swim. I convinced SR that I needed to buy a wetsuit. Little did I know how expensive they were. I'll find out if it actually makes swimming any warmer tomorrow night.

As you can tell, it's a slow night at work. I'm getting paid $92 an hour to write this. Yes, it is probably now easier to see why life seems so good.