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 29 December 2009

Bra stuffing and other things female runners (might) do to seem normal

Am I the only long-distance runner out there who is barraged every holiday season by relatives with accusations of being insane/unhealthy/crazy?

Well, this year I was prepared. Despite only sleeping 3 hours because of hospital call and The Lorax not being able to sleep, I was all ready to appear "normal" for the Christmas dinner SR's mom's family held on the 27th of December.

(I had, of course, taken time to run for a couple hours that morning, most of which with The Lorax in the baby jogger).

I took a shower and shaved the pits smooth. Yes, I've had a change of heart. I used nicely scented soap that SR had picked up at a hotel. I might have even used deodorant if I owned any. I had a slinky red top, tight black pants and my strapless bra lying out to wear. I shortly realized the bra was a bit too big. But that was easily solved by stuffing a small pair of socks in it. Just because I prefer being thin, doesn't mean I don't appreciate the beauty of curves.

Painting of Luisa O’Murphy by François Boucher, 1752

I did my hair in a beautiful braided style and put on my 50 cent beaded bracelet from Guatemala. SR and I even remembered to bring two vegetarian dishes to pass for the dinner. And the kids looked great. It could only be a success...

The dinner itself was wonderful. I just love herring, dark ale, marzipan and chocolates. Plus the vegetarian taco dish SR made was amazing. SR and I both won gifts in an old Danish phrase and climate quiz respectively. It was a really fun party. And I was starting to feel way too full from all of the food.

And then the interrogation started. "Why don't you just allow yourself to eat? Why don't you allow yourself to have fun? Why don't you gain weight? Why won't you let yourself be happy? Why do you run so much?"

It all seemed a little surreal. I am just a happy person by nature. And I sure do love to eat. I even said I wished I were 1-2 kgs lighter, because I thought I would feel just a little better and be a bit faster of a runner. If only I could get myself to eat a little less! But everyone stared at me with concern. Okay, people, I'm not crazy. I'd much rather stuff my bra and be running marathons at 85 than have a voluptuous body now and diabetes and heart disease in 20 years. But I'd never go up to another person and say they had better lose weight or start excercising.

Then poor SR became the center of attention and was accused of being "særlig". This is somewhere between special and weird and where exactly between them it lies is up to interpretation. Part of me felt bad for him, but part of me felt proud. Why shouldn't we just be happy to be "særlige" together? After all, we at least think our life is good and that we and the kids are happy and healthy. We have always done what we believed was right for us and our family and have never just followed trends or the crowd.

Hey and I at least know that neither of us is schizophrenic because neither of us smokes :). But we lay in bed last night discussing whether or not we really do have psychiatric disorders. We ended up deciding on obsessive compulsive personality disorder for me (no surprise there!) and social phobia for SR. Ha ha. At least we have each other. And I wouldn't change a thing.

Note on the cds: It's NOT too late for you to receive the running song cd's from me (best Danish running songs of 2009 and best running songs ever). Just send your address to

Wednesday 23 December 2009

A Christmas gift for you

I might really regret this, but I am offering you all a Christmas present.

I have compiled a cd of my top 10 Danish running songs of 2009. I will send it to you for free along with a song list. Just send an email to with your name and address.

If I get too many requests or if it gets too expensive, I'll have to stop sending them :).

Merry Christmas!!

Oh, and wish me luck. I'm sitting at the hospital, one of the 3 ophthalmolgists on call for the entire country today. And SR, The Lorax and Step-daughter are taking a bath in another city getting ready for present opening, Christmas dinner and dancing around the candle-lit tree.


I have already had a number of cd requests and have decided that since I am going to be sending one cd, I might as well also send a cd of my all-time favorite running songs (non-Danish).

Here is a picture of the Christmas Tree my parents decorated at their house in Wisconsin.

Sadly, none of their kids gets to see it in person since I'm, well, across the Atlantic, and my sister and her husband got caught in snow and never made it out of the Twin Cities.

Friday 18 December 2009

Updated race schedule and other news

In the last few days, we have gotten about 4 inches of snow. This just never happens in Denmark and must be giving the global warming skeptics visiting Copenhagen some ammunition.

I am amazed by how much trail running shoes help in the snow. I ran a 7 mile tempo across snow drifts next to farm fields and had such fun. Those of you who have snow all winter should really treat yourself to a pair if you don't have one.

Change of 2010 race schedule

Since Chippewa 50k has been cancelled and SR needs to go back to the US at the beginning of April, we are going to run Hells Hills 50 miler outside of Austin, TX on April 3rd. This means getting to meet Olga and Larry. I am so extremely excited this trip. My body just aches to run another 50 miler on trails. SR, on the other hand, is going to run the 50k and his thoughts are "if I don't win the 50k, I'm never running an ultra again". (But I can repect that. If he told me to run the 14 flights of stairs at the hospital every night like he did last night, I might also say "never again" at some point.)

European Ultra

For those of you looking for an ultra in Europe around the same time, Helen Lavin told me about the Connemarathon, a 39.3 mile race April 11th in Galoway,Ireland. Looks beautiful (but also sold-out. Maybe next year).

Fancy Family

Here are some pictures we had taken by our friend, Steen. I had helped him out a couple months ago, so he offered to take some professional pictures of the family for free! We got to visit his house and studio which are part of a farm from the 1700's.

Running song of the day: All Come Down by Steve Mason

Saturday 12 December 2009

A beautiful, beautiful place... to take off all your clothes

No, don't worry. What is about to follow could not be a chapter in a dirty romance novel.

I had started to think there weren't too many interesting places to run in Denmark. But when we drove out to the farm country around Maglesø (south of Holbæk) we saw the most amazing scenery I have seen here. Striking and steep forest-lined hills around a lake with no signs of civlilzation, but a little cabin, where all of the runners gathered before our second "cross" race.

The sun was out today and it was about 2 degrees celcius (the coldest day of the year here so far). As we warmed up, the already setting sun felt good and was almost blindingly bright.

It was about an 8.5 km race. We never found out what the real distance was. The race directors said 8.2 but Mette's garmin said 8.6. Here is SR before the race.

We warmed up for a good half an hour. Man, did I realize the importance of that on such a cold day. There were lots of crazy Danes there. And more women this time. I was excited for some good competition.

The gun went off and I just held onto Mette as usual. Happily, I didn't have as much trouble doing that today. I felt great. We went over muddy trails and up unrunnably steep hills, bounded down again and then next to the lake. Definitely the best race trails we have been on in Denmark. We ran the same loop three times. Mette pulled away, but I stayed with the same group of three guys. I felt really good the entire race, but got really winded on the last huge hill before the finish line.

Here is the finish line and I am trying to outsprint the guys I had run with the entire race.
But here I am coming in alone after being handily beaten by all of them.

I finished in around 43 minutes, 2nd woman, a minute and a half after Mette and about a minute before the next women. And I hope Mette forgives me for including this one of us at the finish line.

SR came in 3rd and had a really good race.

And then, at 3:00 pm (17 minutes later) we had the 3k race. Same route, just one loop. And we needed to get it in quickly before it was completely dark. Tons of younger participants joined in for this one. After the gun went off, everyone below 20 raced ahead with lightning speed. But no worries. I passed them all after less than a half a km when they realized it wasn't a 50 yard (or meter) dash. I felt completely renewed; much better than I had felt on the last lap of the 8.5k. I held close behind Mette the whole time, but there was a 17 year old girl who beat us both.

I came in 3rd and SR took 4th for the men. Our 18 year old friend, Peter, took 2nd.

Now it was getting cold and we all, of course, had sweaty clothes on. I looked around the cabin deck to see a woman changing into a transparent lace-bra and then another woman with her shirt just off. Sometimes it is very clear I am not in Wisconsin anymore. I was somewhat excited to join in the fun, but I have to admit my sports bra stayed on.

On the way to the car, SR and I enjoyed the cookies Mette had baked and then ran into a guy we had raced the Copenhagen 6 hour race with. I stopped and talked with him for a second while SR loaded up the car. He started telling me about a 24 hour race in June. As he was talking, he casually started to pull down his pants, and was then just standing there in his underwear pontificating about ultras and adjusting his glasses from time to time. Nothing strange here.

Running song of the day: none (didn't bring the headphones today), but if you really want to hear a good Celine Dion song, my favorite is "Pour que tu m'aimes encore"

Tuesday 8 December 2009

I am the fastest female runner in the world

Or something like that. Okay, perhpas Devon Crosby-Helms or Helen Lavin could still beat me in an ultra (sometimes I like name dropping with the ultra stars to make my blog seem important).

BUT what a weekend. And I had such a busy week, that I haven't had a moment to write about it.

First a run next to Bagsværd Sø on Saturday. It's an 8.2 k race, or just over 5 miles. SR and I ran this one together last year and got some nice money prizes. This year they decided not to give prizes to the winners. And I told myself to use it just as a training run since I was going to race a bigger race the next day. With quite a bit less effort than last year, I ran just 16 seconds slower and had a time of 35.15. And won! SR also won with a time of 30.07.

The next day was the local Herlufsholmløbet 10k. SR didn't run this one, but offered to watch the kids. I had run the exact same race and route a month ago, so I was excited to see if the interval and tempo training had payed off. After the first 1k, I could tell it was much easier to maintain a fast tempo. I ran the first 5k in 20:30 and finished with a time of 42:44. This was over a minute faster than last month!! Good enough for 1st female and 14th best female time since the race was started in 1989. Of couse, had Mette been there, I would have gotten second. But I couldn't help basking in my glory and being encouraged by how good it felt and how much fun it was.

Here are some pics from the sidelines on Sunday.

And SR quickly gets into position to snap this one:

Since then I have had an extremely stressful week of little sleep trying to get the Phd organized. Oh and I had that big oral test on Wednesday in Danish Social Medicine, which I happily passed. But based on the amount of Celine Dion songs I downloaded yesterday, one almost has to deduce that I have gone insane.

But the best running songs from the weekend were some classics: Adam by Viro and I thought you were my boyfriend by The Magnetic Fields

Thursday 3 December 2009

And so this is Denmark

Sometimes I feel like I am stranded on a cold, gray island at the top of the world. I then I realize I am.

At 1:45 pm today I looked out the window and saw I had better start my run because it was getting dark. Yes, that what happens at 55 degrees latitude.

My run was rainy, cold, windy and muddy like usual. But... it was great.

Here are my times over the last three weeks on what I call the muddy 8 miles to Ladby. It is quite the challenging course.

2 weeks ago: 67:00
1 week ago: 62:33
today: 59:53

(This is the one store in Ladby and then there are a few farms. The store is always very busy.)

Yes, exact same path and with a garmin on. Exactly 8 miles. I know I'm European now since I had to look up how many km that is (12.9) to make sense of it. I have to conclude all of the interval and tempo training I have been doing is paying off.

This morning, The Lorax and I took the train to Copenhagen because the lady who watches him has a 2 day vacation. SR's mom kindly offered to take care him while I work. You know how dark it has been here by how The Lorax looked at the sun coming up with amazement and said "The moon!" (in Danish månen).

The return of dark times marks the 1 year anniversary of our move to Denmark. I ask myself daily "are we doing the right thing living here?" but now that it has officially been a year, the question is more poignant in some way. There are so many ways to look at our experience and, in all honesty, we are quite happy here, especially because step-daughter and The Lorax seem to be doing so well.

But there are some things that make me wonder.

So I work in ophthalmology. And that in itself is great. I love using lenses and fun equipment and I love having patients I care about. But having to use loads of extra hand sanitizer because a patient is afraid I am from the Faroe Islands can get to me. Or when patients refuse to be treated by a doctor who might be from Poland, I get sad. They rarely ask me where I am actually from. If I had a American accent, I doubt this would be a problem. At least that is what everyone tells me. But why would should I be glad I am not from Poland or, God forbid, the Faroe Islands? Of course if my skin or hair were any darker, I'd be dealing with a whole other set of problems. Call it xenophobia or nationalism, it is rampant here. If your children are not named Predbjørn, Solveig, Rigmor or Nikolaj, you had better think twice about moving here.

One man told step-daughter and I that he thought people from Asia and the Middle East should be allowed to visit, but shouldn't live here because they don't share his understanding of life. And he wouldn't want to grow old with them. He said he was so proud that he was born in the best country in the world with the best education and the best social system. When we got into the car, I wasn't sure if I should laugh or hang my head in foreign shame. And then step-daughter piped up, "Boy, I'm glad I was born in Denmark."

Perhaps I am just bitter because I just found out I have to take 3 huge tests to get permanent authorisation to work as a doctor. Doctors from Europe are of course exempt from these tests; they are really meant to weed out the unwanted foreign doctors. I am reading this enormous book tonight about the Danish Social System for a test on Wednesday.

But we've two exciting races coming up this weekend. An 8.4 k on Saturday and a 10 k on Sunday.

Thanks if you actually read that whole post, or even if you just read this sentence.

Running Song of the Day: Portions for Foxes by Rilo Kiley (thanks, Kathleen!!)

Monday 30 November 2009

The insanity of women's running

The following 2 part video won't be interesting for everyone. But if you are interested in the mental aspects of winning a race, I think you'll like it.

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Responding to Kathleen: weight loss, calories and exercise

I received a few good questions from Kathleen a little while back and finally have time to respond. Let me preface this with "you don't learn much about nutrition and weight loss in medical school", so a lot of readers can, I'm sure, add their expertise.

I've been trying to research exercise and weight after I stopped running so much and dropped 7 pounds in 2 weeks?!!

It is common to lose weight when you stop exercising because you lose muscle and you also lose the fluid/inflammation which collects around the muscles. My guess would be that the average woman who exercises daily and stops exercising would lose about 5 lbs after two weeks. But that is just an estimate.

I don't know if I believe the old adage of calories in calories out. It assumes all calories are equal. While yes, 1 calorie from any type of food contains the energy needed to raise 1 gram of water 1 degree. Calories aren't processed by the body the same. So, far, out of all the research people have done on obesity and exercise. I can't find conclusive evidence that exercise will keep the pounds off.

I still say calories are calories. Some make you fuller than others. Some of you may think, well, what about the Atikins Diet? Huh? This puts the body into a crisis mode where you have to convert your fats into ketones. And this in itself causes the burning of more calories. So it causes weight loss but doesn't break the rule of a calorie is a calorie.

And exercise burns calories well. No doubt about it. There is no reason that people who exericise daily should not be able to keep weight off.

Which makes me think it has more to do with the type of food eaten and hormones. What about stress and cortisol?
Cortisol will often make one hungrier, which in turn causes weight gain, but should not in itself lower metabolism. Long-term high cortisol levels will result in the redistribution of fat, though, in not such a good-looking way.

Does too much exercise and something like not sleeping enough cause weight gain?
Too much exercise (if there is such a thing... yes, I'm serious) should just make you leaner, though that may mean weighing a bit more. Not sleeping raises cortisol levels, which again raises your appetite. But it should not affect metabolism.

What about the type of food eaten and insulin/blood sugarlevels and their role in weight?

Again, I don't think the type of food matters much. It's the calories.

Blood sugar levels. Well, when they are low, you get hungry. When they are high, you are less hungry. Some foods cause high blood sugar immediately, followed by low blood sugar. These are typically sweets. And these make you gain weight because you get hungry when your blood sugar suddenly drops. If you can ignore that really low blood sugar, you can also lose weight just eating sweets, it's just a more painful process. But a calorie is a calorie!

Thanks so much for the questions, Kathleen! Sorry it took me so long to respond.

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Faster, thinner, richer

Let's take it in reverse order.


I just sent in an application for around 2.5 million kroner (half a million dollars) to a private fund to support the PhD project I'm about to start. And, yes, all that money goes to my salary. Just kidding.


Weighed 51.7 kg this morning. Not much of a loss, but at least I'm not gaining.


Ran 6 miles today to drop off the Lorax at day care followed by 3 x 1.03 miles (that is the length of our local track according to my Garmin) over lunch. Times were 6:39, 6:35, 6:45. That's 20 seconds off last week's intervals on the same track.


I found a really cool 80k race on March 20th in Paris (we are considering it):

Great cool down song from Ethiopia: The Response by Tommy T (featuring Gigi)

Sunday 22 November 2009

Boring post

This has been a pretty great week in training. We're training for races of such varied distances, though, that I hardly know what a strategy I should have. We've got a marathon in January, 10ks a 5k in the meantime, perhaps a 6 hour in March, a 50k in Aril, 24 hour in June. Anyway, here was this past week:

Mon. 30 min biking (with Lorax on bike seat). 6 x 1 mile running intervals. Each mile at a little under 7 minutes (disappointingly slow). Also 4 mile warm up and 4 mile cool down (warm up and cool down with baby jogger.
Tues: 2 hour 45 min slow run. ? 16 miles (4 of those miles with baby jogger)
Wed: 45 minutes swimming. 30 min. biking. 40 minutes jogging with baby jogger. ? 5 miles
Thurs: 4 miles slow with baby jogger. 8 mile tempo (8 min/mile pace on muddy trails). 4 miles slow with baby jogger.
Friday: 30 min. biking with Lorax. 55 min. swim. 40 min. jogging ? 5 miles with baby jogger.
Sat. 3 hour 5 min. run. ?20 miles
Sun. 7 mile run with baby jogger. 45 min swim.

Total miles this week: 83

A week of two illnesses, plus a week of intense running. How much weight did I lose? None.

Step-daughter, on the other hand, has gone from 36.5 kg when she moved here to 33.9 kg on Friday. This is almost 6 lbs! I am writing this, because she said to me on Friday... Can you write how much weight I've lost on your blog? (yes, she reads it, too). She thinks it is funny that people give me a hard time on the blog about encouraging her to lose weight. After all, she is pretty proud of it. But SR deserves most of the credit for her weight loss. He gets her to exercise daily and utilizes small snacks well. I also mananged to sign her up for swim lessons, which started last week.

In other news, SR and I are planning a romantic getaway to Lisbon, Portugal in February. Anyone have any running recommendations there? Or other fun things to do there?

Running Song of the Day: Cross Bones Style by Cat Power (this is especially good for intervals), Heartbeats by José González

Sunday 15 November 2009

How to get runner's ischemic colitis: Cross Løb 1 Race Report

This could very well be the most scatalogical race report you have ever read. Just had to warn you.

Yesterday at 2pm men and women from all over the island of Sjælland met for the first race in the 2009-2010 "Cross-Løb" race series. These races, as I have alluded to in earlier posts, involve running across mud, leaves, branches over hills and in woods, sometimes on trails, sometimes not. Anyway, great and fun training.

Yesterday the race was held in the small town of Jyderup. SR and I dropped off the kids with his mom in Copenhagen and drove to meet Rasmus, Mette, Helena and Peter and others from HG athletic club.

I knew that since I had had gastroenteritis last weekend and a fever (which ended up producing a painful rash on my palms and my soles today... Coxsackie A virus?), that I should't race too hard. But what one thinks rationally and what one does are of course two different things.

Mette and Rasmus and I lined up together. SR was at the front, a bit ahead of us. This was a pretty big race, so no ladies at the front. As I have stated before, Mette is super fast. She is just the type of runner I would like to be. She, on the other hand, is getting interested in starting to do ultra distances and looks up to me in that way. So we have lots to discuss.

The course was two loops of 4.5 km to equal 9k.

The horn sounded and I ran the first two km quite fast with Rasmus and Mette right by me. Then we headed into the hilly, muddy, teacherous woods. The hills were killers. I thought I could run them, but got incredibly winded. Over the next two km, I started feeling dizzy, feverish, nauseated. There was so much mud, too and I almost whiped out a couple of times. It was kind of torture. I realized it had been stupid to race when I had been so sick. I decided to drop out after the first loop. But then the first loop was over (the end was downhill) and I said "just run at your own pace... don't kill yourself!!!" So I took it a little easier. I stayed in the same pack of guys, but had lost sight of Mette. Oh well. I got to the first killer hill and walked it, beating the 12 year old boy next to me who ran it.

(An aside about hills: A hill strategy is so important. I have really gotten into walking the first 3/4 and running the last 1/4. That way I can just keep running over the peak and not slow down because of being winded)

So getting back to the race. The 12 year old was so irritated that a woman had passed him that he sped up to pass me again. We sprinted back and forth and had some fun. But then it happened. I could feel that I needed to go badly (#2 that is). This was strange as I thought I had taken care of this adequately before the race. I thought for a second I should just run the last 2 km and suck it up. But then it was a real emergency. I ran off the marked route into a collection of trees that could not really qualify as woods. But it was that or my beautiful geyser spandex shorts (it was a warm day). A bunch of men passed me, as a lot of non-solid, well, you get the point. It was terrible and embarassing. But I was still #2 woman, so I had to get back in the game. As soon as I started again, I knew I had not completed the task. I felt so sick to my stomach and I had no choice but to pull of along side of the trail and pull down my shorts again. The men kindly looked away (not that they really wanted to see that). But I couldn't give up now, could I? I set out again across leaves and bramble to the last big hill. Ooooh. I was getting sick again. But I was near the end.

I crossed the finish line in just under 45 minutes, second woman, and headed for the woods after greeting SR. I found a nice, secluded spot and, was, well, amazed at how much diarrhea this was. I had to wonder if I had gotten some form of ischemic colitis. In fact, I am pretty sure that is what it was. It was caused by a combination of having been sick, not being well-hydrated, bad night's sleep and well, just pushing myself way too hard after two intense viral illnesses in the past week. All I know is my intestines were not getting nearly enough blood flow during that race.

I walked slowly back to the group to find Mette also doubling over. She amazingly had also become ill, but luckily not until after she had finished. Huh. Steep hills are just way more challenging than one expects. We had all planned on running the 3k race, which was next but Mette and I were too ill and SR's ankle was hurting. SR had taken 2nd man with a time of around 36 minutes.

SR and Mette and I walked back to the car and got really lost in the Jyderup woods. We discussed our shared running obsession, training plans, upcoming races etc. Suddenly it began to stink and SR said to me (I'll translate the Danish) "My Lady, did you just fart!?" "No! It wasn't me!" I said proudly, thinkig this was one of the first times I had been falsely accused. "It was me." piped up Mette, holding her stomach. We all laughed. Yes, I think this is the beginning of a good friendship.

Running Song of the Day: What's it in For? by Avi Buffalo

Saturday 14 November 2009

follow-up on that modeling thing

SR mentioned this morning that since he thinks the whole point of my blog is to get women of the world to hate me, that the best move I could make would to be to post the picture from my modeling job.

This, of course, made me laugh.

Imagine creating a blog where the whole point was to be hated. But after writing about my desire to lose weight while sick and all of my other previous honest (either partially joking or too honest) posts, I do wonder if I have unintentionally caused all of the women of the world to hate me.

What is the point of my blog? To write honestly about trying, trying, trying to be a good mom, a good wife, an ultra runner and a physician. Yes, and I also want to stay thin. That is no secret. But will it all work out for our family? Will I go crazy? That remains to be seen. But if I just wrote "my life is again perfect today because..." it might get a bit boring for all of us.

Anyway, something fun recently was modeling for that company As you can imagine, it is not really a bad job to keep running back and forth while a nice guy is taking pictures.

Some other good news is the whole family is healthy today and SR and I are going to run the "Cross" run at 2pm. At least that's the plan. Can't wait to write a report.

Running Song of the Day: Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac

Thursday 12 November 2009

Illness, Weight Loss and a cow

I am sorry it has been a while. We've been sick.

Last weekend, it was what I suspect was Norovirus. It all started with The Lorax horking up his dinner in the middle of the night (all over himself) and then falling peacefully back to sleep. Yes we did clean him up. He did this two nights in a row.

Any doctor would tell you to be careful with handwashing after events like these. According to the New England Journal of Medicine it requires "Herculean efforts" to contain the spread of Norovirus. But let's just say my efforts could not qualify as Herculean. I was kind of hoping to lose a couple of extra pounds from a little friendly gastroenteritis (did I just admit that?). So after I was done swimming on Friday, and I started to get sick, I kicked back and hoped for the best. And what started out as tolerable nausea turned into one of the worst experiences in my life with step-daughter and I puking right and left. The worst part was there was never enough warning to get to the toilet in time. SR became our poor, little drudge. Depite trying to count all of the calories (or approximate them) in my vomit, I don't even think I lost a pound since I made up for it (and maybe more) the next day. Let's just say, I wish I would have been more Herculean. It's way more fun to run and burn calories than to puke. Not a big surprise, I guess.

In other news, I now have Influenza A, or at least I think so, and I am between fever spikes (an hour ago was up to 101 F). So, in order to brighten my mood, I looked up how many calories one burns because of a fever. It turns out you can add about 7% to your basal metabolic rate per degree F above normal. Great news since I'm not quite feeling up to running. But one must admit, it is a small consolation.

Of course, I am exaggerating about all of this... and it royally sucks being sick all of the time.

Completely unrelated, The Lorax loves reading books with animals. Of course, this is no surpirse. But every time we get to this picture (I can't believe I found the exact picture on the internet)

he screams, lays back and looks away. Every time. I know some of you other moms out there have young ones about the same age as The Lorax (21 months). I invite you to participate in a little study: show them this picture and see what happens. I'm excited to learn the results.

Running Song of the Day: La Camisa Negra by Juanes

Saturday 31 October 2009

Far from a PR

As I was hobble-running home from the 10k Herlufsholmløbet, a few thoughts were running through my head.

- "I am getting old."
- "I am getting fat."
- "Why do I suddenly have a negative attitude?"
- "Where is my inspiration?"

Yesterday morning before the race, I felt quite good. I had gotten a great night's sleep and I didn't feel injured from the 62 km last Saturday. Life was good. The only thing nagging me was SR couldn't run because he still felt injured. He kindly offered to watch the kids and be at the race sideline. And play some soccer. Step-daughter's strategy is to stand behind the line as goalie.

It was a local race, so I saw a bunch of friends at the start line. That was cool. We have been here almost a year now, so I am starting to have a group of runners I am close to. The one I really cared about coming was Mette. She is 25 and last year ran the same 10k in 42. If I could run my PR time again, I figured I could beat her. But then again, she also ran the Copenhagen Marathon in 3:09 last year, and that is not something I can claim to have done (or be able to do for that matter). She also beat me at a 14k over the summer, but I wasn't feeling well that day. So my plan was to hold on to her as long as I could and, if I had energy at the end, I would try to pull ahead.

Here is the start. Mette is in the black headband. The blonde woman started out fast, but slowed down, totally winded, after about 1 minute. I had to chuckle (is that mean?). You might also be able to spot a Sea Legs Girl head, which is strangely in focus despite my lightning speed.

I started out running around a 6:30 mile pace (my garmnin thinks in miles), but after the first 1.5 km, I couldn't even see Mette anymore. Oh well. I had to concentrate on my own race.

It was actually a quite technical and hilly route, 90% on uneven dirt trails. There was one women, Helena, I was running right next to for the first 3k, but then it turned out she was running the 5k instead. So I was suddenly alone with the men. I came through the first 5k in 21:30, which was a big disappointment to me. I hadn't realized I was going so slowly. I felt really winded. Was it anemia (thanks to the IUD)? Or my weight of now 52kg instead of 50.5 of last year?

I kept a fairly even pace the rest of the race and ran with a friend Alan, though we didn't talk much because we were both pushing ourselves. We had a bit of a sprint finish at the end and I eeked in front of him with time of 43:48 (two minutes slower than my PR! :( ). Here I am hoping I am misreading my electronic devices. Alan is there close behind.

It was good enough for 2nd woman out of 35 (But who pays attention to that anyway? Certainly not me ; ).).

I guess I had gotten used to setting PR's all the time, so I was sad.

Mette on the other hand beat her previous PR by two minutes and came in in an amazing 39:59. I was so happy for her. It was a beautiful race on her part and fun to see how much she has improved. Of course, I wondered what it was I should be doing differently. Anyway, she and I and Helena are going to be running a series of "cross" races together. These are off trail, at times somewhat extreme, short races. Actually a whole group of us will be running these, including SR. Perhaps some of Mette's secrets will be revealed over time.

And no, it's not that I'm getting old or that I have kids. If anyone saw the NYC marathon yesterday, Paula Radcliffe certainly reminded us women that we have no excuses. Despite her tendonitis, she finished an amazing 4th place. And Deratu Tulu, the women's winner, is 37 and the mother of two.

See Deratu and Paula below...

Otherwise we had a great, relaxing weekend. Here are some pictures from step-daughter's Halloween party.

Running Song of the Day: Maltese T by Spiral Stairs

Thursday 29 October 2009

Many subjects discussed below

Race recovery

This has been the fastest ultra recovery I've had to date. And much faster than the two marathon's I have run. I am back to running normally and without pain just 5 days after the race. It seems like the more long races I do, the shorter the recovery is. Makes sense, I guess. Or maybe it is my diet that has improved (let's just say I eat more than oatmeal and gum now).

May-Britt (who also ran) has unfortunately had some bilateral hamstring problems, which she hasn't had before, so it can't soley be dependent on the number of long races one has run.

My modeling career

So I was asked by one of the fathers at The Lorax's daycare if he could take a picture of me for the local health store Body Kick I am quite tickled by this. I even went so far as to buy anti-aging cream for around my eyes. I don't even own make-up, so this was vanity to the extreme for me. I'll hopefully be able to get a copy of the picture they are going to use for their website.

The Bois' language development

I recently became concerned that The Bois was not learning words quickly enough. My mother reminded me when I was in Wisconsin of the list she still has of the over 600 words I could say when I was 20 months. The Bois, who is also 20 months, can say about 30, though some are complete sentences. He basically refuses to repeat words, but will only say them if he knows exactly what they mean. It is quite strange because when he listens to the radio, he sings most of the song lyrics after he hears them sung and also will sing the radio station's jingle, sometimes even before they play it. But I did some reading and apparently the tendency with kids in houses where two languages are spoken is for them to hold back in repeating because they are confused by the multiple words which mean one thing. There were a couple of larger studies that showed this. This certainly makes sense in the Bois' case. He just spent two weeks with my parents and they couldn't understand a single Danish word he said. I can see how that would be frustrating for him. Anyway, it has been interesting to observe. If I know mothers correctly, there will certainly be someone who comments saying their child could speak 700 words in 3 languages at 10 months. And that's cool.

My IUD and pregnancy thoughts

I have now had rather heavy bleeding in connection with my IUD every day for the last three weeks and before all my blood is bled out, I am considering having the thing removed. I even made an appointment to have it done. Is this too much information to write on a blog? But we are trying to figure out if it is too early to have another little one. Once you have one baby, it is like all of these forces in your body work together to convince you need to have another. Any other mother's agree with me on this? If I were sensible, I would wait until we were getting near the end of data gathering in the PhD project, otherwise the project would just be on hold because of my bad planning. Plus 3 kids in one house is suddenly a lot! But don't get me wrong. I certainly would be thrilled if it happened.


Like Oprah says, Danish rye bread is the best, especially when homemade.

Running Song of the Day: Milan Allé by Magtens Korridorer

Saturday 24 October 2009

Copenhagen 6 hour race

Remind me not to run any more 6 hour races. At least not when they consist of a short asfalt loop. Of course I knew what I was getting into in advance: 2.2 km around a lake again and again. The race was really well-arranged and the runners were friendly and in good spirits. But it was no trail ultra; let's just put it like that.

I now am certain that what I really love about ultras is the long trails and beautiful scenery. The competition, adrenaline and calorie-burning are big plusses, but don't make a race wonderulf on their own. Had this been my first ultra, it may have been my last.

But the result wasn't that bad for SR or me. We ran together for the first hour and then he went ahead while I enjoyed a new music mix. I was the leading woman for almost the first four hours. I tied my marathon PR at 3:39, and figured I was going too fast. Mai-Britt Hansen had been close behind me the entire time. She is generally considered Denmark's best female ultra runner, so it was exciting not only to meet her but to be racing with her. I should have known I didn't have a shot a beating her, but I tend to have an inflated sense of self-worth in ultras.

I ran into SR and we ran together as I fell into second place. He was kind of begging to drop out, but we encouraged each other to keep going. We were both in extreme pain at that point from the pounding on the pavement, so we started running on the uncut grass along the trail. I came through 50k in 4:48, a slow-down but still a 50k PR.

The end of the race was atrocious. I was starving, but couldn't find anything I could stomach among the danish treats. And my legs still killed me. I ran a pitiful 11.4 km in the next hour and 12 minutes. So my ending distance was 61.4km (38.2 miles). My goal was 60 km, so I guess I was happy. I just hadn't expected to crash like that. And in the cold, misty rain, the 6 hours of the race seemed twice as long as the nearly 9 hours of Voyageur. Well, it's over. Oh, by the way, SR ended up with 66.7 km.

Thanks to Charley Prødel and Jan Wolffgang for the photos!

Running Song of the Day: Ghost by Neutral Milk Hotel

Tuesday 20 October 2009

Shoe dilemma

We have Copenhagen's 6 hour race coming up on Saturday and I need some advice.

I have been training in the same shoes for years...

The Saucony Grid Hurricane 7

But they are quite heavy for race shoes. They have also stopped making them and I have only one pair left.

Then I bought these shoes (Mizuno Wave Rider 12)

and after running in them for a while today, my shin splints (anterior tibilias tendonitis) seemed to come back in my left leg (but it's hard to say if it was the shoes or lots of running over the weekend).

The best shoes I have ever run in are the Mizuno Wave Ascend 3.

I could wear these, but they are trail running shoes and we will be running 6 hours on asfalt.

Should I wear one of these pairs (perhaps the one in the middle since it's so huge) or go out and quickly buy new shoes before the race?

Running Song of the Day: Angry Charlie by Generationals

Friday 16 October 2009

I'm back in Madison, WI

On Monday morning, I kissed SR goodbye as I walked into the WARF (Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation) building. As part of my PhD project, I was sent to the world's leading department in ophthalmologic epidemiology which is, ironically enough, my alma mater, UW Madison. Who would have guessed it would take moving to Denmark to bring me back?

It is strange leading the life of a single young woman again. SR and step-daughter are back in Denmark and The Bois is being taking care of by my mom. But man, I was reminded of how it's almost a necessity to be a free floating particle if you are going to work from 8 am to around 6 pm every day. I barely have enough time to get in my minimum 2 hours of exercise a day (which, of course, I feel I need to survive). How does anyone here do it with kids?

Anyway, I found a great little running path called the Mendota foot path near the UW hospital along the lake. It's actually all wooded and on winding dirt trails. Beautiful!

I can't help being amazed by how much faster a runner I have become since my college days. I saw a college student running making more vertical than horizontal motion and was reminded of my old inefficient style. Well, some things can get better with age.

I am also so happy because my sister got married to such a great guy on Saturday. They had a ceremony in a tent at my parents' house.

I am particularly sad to leave the US this time since I had so much fun with the Beaver Dam Eye Study group. But we'll be back for Chippewa in April.

My running song recommendation is actually an entire album. It's one of the best Danish albums I know of and it was just released. Unfortunately, I think a lot of the charm will be lost if you can't understand Danish.

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Race Schedule for 2009-2010

It is my pleasure to finally bring you our tentative race schedule for the upcoming year.

We are not too fine to be talked into or out of anything.

1. Oct. 24, 2009 - Copenhagen 6 hour run

We have thus far participated in only hilly, technical ultras so it will be fun to see how far and fast we can run on a flat surface. Though it also means we won't have the usual excuses.

2. December 5 - FKBU 8,2 k by Bagsværd Sø

3. January 10 - Kalundborg Winter Half Marathon

4. March 24 - Sydkystmaraton - Half Marathon

5. April 4 - Skærtorsdagsløb 10 k

6. April 24 - Chippewa 50k

? May 5 - Trieste Marathon??? Seems too close to Chippewa, but thanks for the invitation, Leslie!!

7. May 23rd - Copenhagen Marathon

8. June 18th - Bornholm 24 hour race (This is on the Danish island in the Baltic Sea north of Poland. I am hoping to use my distance there to represent Denmark in the 24 race world championships... just a litle dream I have)

* I actually signed up for the Western States Lottery for a total of 30 minutes and then took myself back out when I realized there was no way it would work with the kids' vacation time.

9. July ? - Kanal Triathlon - Olympic Distance

10. End of July - Mount Hood 50 mile There are many races in contention around this time, since we have vacation at the end of July and beginning of August, but we have some family in that area and of course Olga is one of the race directors.

11. End of August - Villa Gallina Løb 14 k in Haslev. No website!

12. Beginning of October - Brocken Marathon in Harz Nationalpark in Germany Thanks to Iris from Germany for telling me what a good race this is.

Running Song of the Day: Strange Overtones by Brian Eno & David Byrne (an unusual and beautiful song)

Thursday 1 October 2009

Forgive me, and the Crown Princess

I can't reveal our race schedule yet. SR has been out of town all week at a hematology course, so not only can I not discuss our upcoming races with him, but I am suddenly a single mom working full time with two kids. We've had fun but it has been crazy busy. Thank God for the baby jogger and a bike with a child seat.

Yesterday step-daughter presented flowers to the Crown Princess of Denmark, Mary, at the opening of the new Brain exhibit at Experimentarium in Copenhagen. Here is step-daughter receiving the "brain flowers" as she called them.

And here is the Crown Princess, actually talking with my neice, on her way into the exhibit. And that is SR's father in the background.

Sunday 27 September 2009

tendonitis cured

We went on a 20k run yesterday, mostly around Bagsværd Sø, and the more I ran, the better the injury felt.

It has now been 2 weeks since the Transalpine run and I now feel better than I did before the race.

Why did the injury heal so quickly? Here are my theories:

1. I do not normally have problems with my tibialis anterior, so running small amounts in itself has not exacerbated the problem.

2. I have been doing a ton a bikinig and swimming so the injury did not tighten up from sitting around and doing nothing.

3. I took prednisone early enough to prevent some inflammation (though it did not come without some side effects, which I didn't mention, namely the loss of the first layer of skin from my fingertips and small painful sores around my lips)

4. when I did run, I ran on relatively flat dirt trails

Of all these, 1 and 4 are the ones I am nearly 100% convinced of, the other two are hard to prove either way.

I look forward to revealing our upcoming race schedule in my next post.

Running Song of the Day: Va Fangool! by Nephew

Thursday 24 September 2009

No miracle cure

I guess it is no surprise that the prednisone did not cure my tendonitis. I still can't go on long runs, but I can go on short runs without pain. So perhaps some of the inflammation was reduced. As Steve Q mentioned, the injury still needs time and rest to heal.

Because of this blog, I was actually contacted by a family member about using prednisone for a more chronic tendonitis. Whereas steroid injections might help with chronic joint problems and some types of fasciitis, systemic prednisone will not help with chronic tendonitis. I am not a sports doctor. I am in training to be an eye surgeon, so realize I don't have the most experienced advice. But I just thought I would share my thoughts rather than having lots of reades running to their doctors and asking for prednisone.

In other news, step-daughter looked awesome this morning.

I have to say I love having her here.

I haven't been running enough to even have a running song recommendation :(.

Monday 21 September 2009

I think I'm cured

For those of you who are just joining in, I developed some very painful, inflamed anterior tibial tendonits during the Trans-Alpine run. When it flared up badly on a run after 6 days of rest, I decided to take prednisone for the inflammation rather than Ibuprofen.

Sat. 50 mg prednisone
Sun. 50 mg pred - no running
Mon. 25 mg pred - ran for an hour tonight without a hint of pain!

It is almost too good to be true. I can simply find no evidence that I ever had tendonitis, except when I press down hard with my finger on the tendon.

Here is an anterior tibial tendon, which is not mine.

I'm done with the prednisone now and the effect has been good so far.

What side effects did I have?
Slight headache
Metallic taste in my mouth

Since I only took it for three days, I luckily won't develop the long-term side effects.

I am not saying that I recommend everyone go out and get a prednisone prescription for all of their running injuries. But I also think it is good for doctors to be honest about how they treat their injuries. When SR suggested prednisone to Ida from Norway who developed the same tendonitis, I thought it was overkill. But then I thought about it a bit more. What my injury needed was a strong anti-inflammatory more than anything and that's exactly what prednisone is. Mega amounts of ice and ibuprofen that would work slowly, if at all, just did not seem like the best option. I would not do this for any injury, but felt with this one that the inflammation was harmful and seemed to be worsening. Hopefully I have actually protected the tendon and hastened the recovery with prednisone in this case. But, I would love to hear your thoughts, too. I noticed that I lost one of my followers today and hope I don't also scare the rest of you away :).

I will add that the injury deserves some more rest and I am not going to go all out with the running just yet.

Running Song of the Day: Touched by Cloud by Alberto Arcangeli

Tuesday 15 September 2009

Transalpine 2009 Race Report - A Sheila among the Sherpas

We've been back now for three days and I still have pitting edema in both legs. I can barely lift them they are so heavy. I have huge scrapes and bruises over my body, swollen lips and even an edematous face. How on earth did I get this way?

Where but the Alps can one find such extreme mountain ascents and descents?

Below is Hannibal leading his army through the Alps in the 3rd century. From Saturday, Sept. 5th through Sat. Sept 12, 250 teams or 500 individuals attempted to cross the 240 km distance across the Alps, from Germany to Austria, to Switzerland to Italy, perhaps retracing the steps of Hannibal.

Of all the characters in the above painting, it is the poor elephant falling off the cliff that is most representative of my experience.

The night before the race, we arrived in Oberstdorf Germany to enjoy a large welcome dinner where teams from 25 countries were introduced. By coincidence, we sat next to Mikael and Søren from Denmark and Kimberly Giminez and Elizabeth Eppstein from California. Kimberly casually said "there are some people here who have never even run in the mountains before!!" I slouched a bit in my chair. Spirit Mountain in Minnesota probably doesn't qualify as a real mountain. And the last time I was in the mountains in Colorado, I ran on a treadmill.

It rained that night and I was worried. What in the world were we getting into here? But then there was this view from our Zimmer on the morning of the first day...

We started out fast, of course. We were in what we think was 3rd place for the mixed teams when we finished the first 10k and the first large ascent. But then the downhill started. It was steep, rocky, muddy and slippery. This was no problem for seasoned mountain runners, who passed us one by one.

And this became the sad story of our race. We were one of the top teams on the non-technical flats and uphills, but then we were daily passed by almost every single team in the field as we (I) struggled through the technical downhills and froze from fear on the exposed cliffs.

On the second day, there was a section where we came to the peak and then had to go down a rocky cliff backwards, holding onto a wire. We were in about the middle of the pack at this point. I started going down backwards, but kept imagining myself falling to my death. I was frozen still and felt the tears streaking down my face. One of the transalpine guides had to help me down. "What's going on?" I heard a woman yell above me. Then one of our Australian friends replied "We're being held up by the Sheila down there."

Yes, that was me, the Sheila in the land of the Sherpas.

By the third day, various parts of my body started hurting. Mostly my left knee (pes anserine bursitis) and left ankle (tibialis anterior tendon sheath inflammation). This meant the downhills were even slower.

We arrived about 2.5 hours later than we had told my mom and SR's parents who were watching The Lorax and step-daughter. SR was frustrated. I was in pain. The parents were irritated.

Day 4 started out the same way. We were among the leaders for the first 10k, but my ankle and knee just got worse and worse. SR started kindly asking if we could drop out so we could spend time with the family instead. Finishing that day would have been torture for both of us. So we dropped out of the official race. Strangely enough, Ida from Norway, a friend of ours, also had the same problem with her left tibialis anterior. The four of us from the two teams were taken in a bus back to the start. Ida then sought medical attention and was hospitalized in the next town, Scuol, Switzerland, because her left leg was so red and swollen that they suspected a skin infection. She was admitted for three days on IV antibiotics, bed rest and even given blood thinner injections to prevent a blood clot in her legs from all the bed rest. Let's just say I'm glad I didn't seek medical attention.

In the meantime, after we dropped out, I went over 12 hours without urinating and watched as my entire body swelled up with fluid. At 8pm the night of day 4, I finally urinated and knew it was just edema from stress and not kidney failure.

On day 5, we joined the race again for the 6km mountain sprint.The stage was arranged in a time trial fashion and we were leading the entire day until the top 8 teams came in and pushed us into 9th place out of nearly 100 mixed teams. And we were the top team that actually ran together rather than averaging our two times.

Since we were officially out of the race, we spent day 6 relaxing with step-daughter in the healing Baths of Scuol, Switzerland. It was awesome. I then felt ready for the next two days of mountain running.

On day 7 we did really well. I had mostly gotten over my fear of heights and did better on the technical sections and downhills.

On day 8, the pain in my left ankle and left knee returned, but we still had fun and got to enjoy the finish with all of the other teams.

It was humiliating and horrible, but extremely beautiful and challenging. I went from a sheila to, well, perhaps not quite a sherpa, but someone who would love to be a real mountain runner. Let's just say we're hoping to do it again. Either the the transalpine again or perhaps the transrockies (which looks like more running and less technical rock climbing and descending).

And if we did do it again, we'd rent a camper to save money and travel without the entire family, though we loved every minute we got to spend with them.

Wednesday 9 September 2009

Transalpine Run Stages 3, 4 and 5

Today we are feeling good because we had the 9th fastest time (and 1st non-sponsored team) on the 6km mountain sprint, which was stage 5 of the Transalpine.

Sadly, but not suprisingly, we had to drop out of the official race yesterday because of problems with my left knee and left ankle. I could run uphill, but downhill and hopping side to side were too painful. This means that we can keep racing each stage, but we do not get an official overall time or a finisher's t-shirt.

This race is NOT a bunch of ultramarathons in a row. It is mountain running. And parts of it are dangerous. Many people are out because of injury. We visited a friend today from Norway who is in the hospital. Neither of us know if hospitalization was really necessary in her case, but I just think the readers of this blog should know how challenging this race is. And another man broke a leg. And another friend of from Denmark is also too injured to continue. We definitely have had fun, but the people here who are doing well are experienced mountain runners.

We are planning to take tomorrow off (which is another near-marathon length mountain crossing) and hopefully participate in the last two stages.

If we could prepare for this again, we would do a lot more steep, rocky downhill running.

I'm sorry I still have no pictures. We are in the town of Sent, Switzerland now and it is absolutely gorgeous. They speak Rumantsch in this area, a beautiful combination of French and Italian with a little bit of German. Just an interesting tidbit for you all.

Sunday 6 September 2009

Transalpine Stage 2

We made it!! Not quickly, but we are learning to be moutaineers. It is fun. I followed Olga's advice and didn't look down. I am starting to have less problems with my fear of heights.

Today was 24 km from Lech am Alberg, Austria to St. Anton, Austria. The views were gorgeous, but our camera stopped working. We'll fix that problem soon, I promise.

I am writing from a restaurant now and our food just got here. Better go!

Saturday 5 September 2009

Transalpine Stage 1

Today we started our 8 day run across the Alps from Germany to Austria to Switzerland to Italy

And oh my gosh! It is no small miracle we survived. I don't know why I thought we would be fine without any mountain running exererience to speak of. But this is HARD. It was steep and rocky and worst of all was muddy. At one point I started crying so much from my crippling fear of heights that I almost dropped out. Luckily I had both SR and Kimberly Gimenez (from the US of Big Horn 100 female winner fame) to cheer me on.

All I can say is we made it and we are just going to try to survive through another day tomorrow. There is a 50% dropout rate in this race and I would not be surprised at all if that ends up being us. Stay tuned.

Today was 34 km from Oberstdorf Germany to Lech am Alberg Austria. It was gorgeous. And took us 6.5 hours.

The starting line

Two new friends from New Jersey, Kimberly and Elizabeth from California and two from Denmark


And more suffering with a good view in the background.