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

Sunday 21 June 2009


Yesterday SR and I ran a half marathon in Copenhagen. It would be our last fast race of the summer (we've got a triathon, Voyageur 50 mile and The Transalpine run to get ready for).

I was excited to see how much running Yasso 800s would help my half marathon time.

Here is a little about the race:

Title: Ørestadsløbet 5k, 10k and 1/2 marathon
Start Time: 14:00
Participants: we heard about 600 in the 1/2 marathon
Route: Not much elevation change, but windy. Half on dirt-rock trails, half on asphalt.

It was pretty scenic for being right next to downtown Copenhagen. Thanks, Robert, for the pictures.

I wore a garmin and was going for 4:15 min/km or about 6:46 min/mile speed. It’s an old garmin, so I thought I was going much slower than I was because it lost satellite signal often in the little patches of woods. So, even with the garmin, I started out too fast.

5k 20:30
10k 42:30

At around 10k, I got passed by a woman for the number two spot. I have heard quite a bit about Jannie Hansen, so I really didn’t mind getting passed by her. But I did start swearing at her in French in my head at that moment. This is a little thing I do to encourage myself, but probably isn't something I should write on a public blog.

The second half was really rough and I was regretting the decision to wear racing flats. And I was so mad there was no sports drink! I have to say it is actually dangerous to not have sports drink (and just have water) on a hot day. But other than that, it was an amazingly well-organized event.

Anyway, I was so tired and hungry by the end that I might have given up had it not been for a backwind and "Friday I'm in Love" by The Cure on repeat.

I did end up with a PR with a time of 1:33:40 (about a minute faster than my previous PR), so I guess it didn't go too poorly.

But I was in pain and looked like I was stepping on hot coals at the end.

And then stabbed myself with a safety pin.

I'm just kidding about the safety pin. I'm not sure why I looked so tortured here.

Because I was the 3rd place woman, I won a pair of 600 kroner (about $110) silky black running pants.

I talked to the second place Jannie after the race and was pleasantly surprised by how friendly and fun she was. It was her trackclub, Amager Atletik, that hosted the race.

And many members of our Herlufsholm trackclub were there to celebrate with afterwards. I am impressed by how most runners at these events come to represent their local club.

SR was the winner for the men with a time of around 1:16. He won some 1100 kroner shoes that didn't fit. He is looking forward to exchanging them at Kaiser Sport for some expensive sports item/s.

I was such a proud wife.

B guess I'm a little disappointed I didn't come close to getting under 1:30. I am not sure what to do differently. I had tapered and gotten some speed work in. My weight is a steady 51kg. Perhaps it's my diet. My 5k and 10k times tell me I have it in me to run longer races faster, I just have to figure out how.

Running Song of The Day: obviously Friday I'm in Love by The Cure

Wednesday 17 June 2009

Her is fine

Sometimes I wonder what in the world I am doing working as a physician in Denmark. It’s certainly not like international medicine in the classic sense. It’s not like it was when I worked in rural Guatemala, for example, where patients are just so glad to get medical care that they don’t mind imperfect Spanish. Patients in Denmark just think, “Oh, God. Why did I get stuck with the foreign one?”

I am currently working in a 3 month trial position in Internal Medicine. It’s an emergency room-like setting where I evaluate patients, treat them and either admit them to the hospital or send them home.

Many patients ask me if I am from the Faroe Islands. This is a big compliment, because people from The Faroe Islands grow up learning Danish. I guess compared to most foreigners, I don’t have much of an accent. That's probably becasue I learned Danish by hearing it and not by reading it. In fact, most of my knowledge of the language comes from Danish pop music. For example, I am very good at saying “How did you get that ass in those pants?” but the occasions I can say that to patients are quite rare.

So the slight accent and the fact that I look like a Dane, makes my language mistakes even more disturbing to patients:

First, I have difficulty with my placement of “not” in sentences. “Your dad does need to take that medication not.”

And then there is a problem with pronouns. “Let me ask the nurse if her can help you to the toilet.”

These two mistakes are always met with the same confused/disturbed look and Hvad siger du? (what say you?)

Finally, I have a problem with occupations. I have to ask everyone what they do and it is so rare that I understand. I have only been in Denmark 7 months, so job titles are not something I have necessarily learned. It is quite disconcerting to a patient when he says “I work in a printing press” and his doctor (me) says, without much of an accent “What is a printing press?” So he thinks to himself, you’re supposed to figure out what is wrong with me?

And sometimes it’s less of a joke. It is always hard to find the words to explain that a young woman’s cancer has metastasized to her brain. Or to explain to parents that their child has tried to kill himself.

I recently had yet another patient with an intentional drug overdose and I was trying to explain to his mom the treatment we were giving and what we were and weren’t worried about. It was 5 am and I had been up all night and this was the 14th patient I was admitting. The nurses and I had given him a treatment that would most likely save his liver and perhaps his life. But the mother was upset he had me as a doctor because I had trouble explaining the situation and thus, she concluded, I didn’t know what I was doing. As I left the patient’s room and went into the physician room, I could feel the tears in my eyes. “What the hell am I doing here?” And I found myself asking “Is me okay?” Yes, even my English is confused. Because if me is not okay, how can I help the patients?

Sometimes I come through a shift feeling as if I have been through a war. But there was no war. And it's not a 3rd world country. I get no praise; instead, I get attendings asking why I can’t remember the BMI on that diabetic patient.

But I couldn't say life is not good. There is, after all, quite a bit of time off here. And today, such a gorgeous day, I went on a run down towards the coast and ran into this:

It is called Gavnø Slot (Gavnø Castle) and is not too far from our home in Næstved.

And then I went and picked up this guy:

Running Song of The Day: Easily Bruised by Matthew Barber

Friday 12 June 2009

The most beautiful 5000m

We drove over an hour to get from Næstved (our home) to a track in Holbæk. The rain was pouring down on the car on the drive north, as SR explained that he was going to run the 5k of his life that night. He was going to aim 1:18 per lap ( for 12.5 laps). This is a 16:15 5k and, though not a PR, would be the fastest time he had run in 6 or 7 years.

When we arrived at the track, it was raining too hard to dare take the camera out. Though I probably should have. There were sheets and sheets of monsoon-like rain. But it was too cold to be a monsoon. It was 9 Celcius or about 48 Fahrenheit. It was just Denmark in June (I was talking to a guy from Uganda, who ran for our track club, too. He said everyone in the world would move to Denmark if it weren't for weather like this!). The weather phenomenon can actually be called "Return of the Westerlies", but I won't go into detail here.

SR went off to warm up in the most calculated, nearly obsessive-compulsive way. He knew he was in the shape of his life, having done speed work mixed with long runs every other day in the past couple of months and getting his weight down to 64.7 kg.

At the start, the rain was still beating down. There was one guy painfully trying to hold on to SR in the first lap. I should say this was a veterans race (over 30) and SR is only 34, so he tends to win these races. As I watched him race, it was like watching a perfect human. He looked so healthy and strong and fast (the great thing about writing someone else's race report is you can decorate them with the praise they deserve). And gosh darn it, despite the wind and the rain, if he wasn't running every lap in 1 minute and 18 seconds! It was as if he was the only one unaffected by the weather. It was unreal to watch and everyone was cheering in the stands. The wind and rain continued in full force.

And the last lap was exactly like the rest, perhaps slightly faster. He crossed the finish line at perhaps a millisecond under 16:15. I almost cried; I was so proud. He is my husband.

Running song of the day: Say It Right by Nelly Furtado

Sunday 7 June 2009

Yasso 800's

I've decided it's time to become a faster runner. I had such a good year after The Lorax was born, but my running has not gotten significantly better since moving to Denmark.

One fun way we've just found to train is to run Yasso 800's (named after Bart Yasso). I'm sure a lot of you are already familiar with this, but the idea is you run 800 meters (2 times around a track) 10 times with a little break between each one and your average time in minutes can predict your marathon time in hours. Ex: avg. 3:15 minute 800 meter equals 3 hour 15 min marathon.

Here is what we ran tonight (before it started raining and The Lorax started crying):

My 800 meter times
#1 2:58
#2 2:53
#3 2:47
#4 2:48
#5 2:48
#6 2:55

SR's 800 times
#1 2:24
#2 2:21
#3 2:18
#4 2:18
#5 2:18
#6 2:22
#7 2:19

Despite having seen a lot of people write that their Yassos can predict their marathon time to the minute, I don't think I'm anywhere close to running at 2:51 marathon. But one can dream. Plus, it is a really fun way to get speed training. And if you can make it a date, you may be surprised what a turn on it is, but that is a different story all together.

Running Song of the Day: Laughing With by Regina Spektor

Thursday 4 June 2009

Hvor man føler sig hjemme

I read recently that, as opposed to men, a large part of "happiness" for a woman is her home. At first I thought this was just another way I was unfeminine. But now that we are in our new apartment, I am starting to think I may have a woman hiding inside of me after all.

The problem is, I loathe the idea of buying some big, fancy house.

A simple life is a happy life. That reminds me of our cabin in Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park last summer...

I just could never feel at home in a typical house for two doctors. I hate McMansions, and regular mansions and suburbs and expensive, matching furniture. I hate two cars and fancy foyers and the idea of shopping for "flatware". I hate commutes and no sidewalks and pefectly manicured lawns.

But the apartment we found is so simple, practical and comfortable, that I almost get excited by the thought of cleaning and decorating it. It is a two bedroom apartment just off the hospital property for about $550 (3,000 danish kroner)/month (subsidized physican housing). We walk to work, the store, the libary, etc. We run 100 meters to a forest filled with trails. It is perfect for a family of four (stepdaughter is moving here in just over a month!). Plus it is in a neighborhood with tons of families with young kids.

Here is the teeter-totter (called a vippe (or flipper) in Danish). I would make fun of the Danish word, but then when I consider the English word, well...

And the kitchen I cleaned for this photo (if you look closely, the sink is still dirty):

And a sunny second-floor porch:

There is even graffiti that says "Ace of Base" in our building's basement. Ony in Denmark (and perhaps Sweden).

Running Song of The Day: Skinny Love by Bon Iver