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 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.

Wednesday 2 September 2009

Our Wedding

I did not know it would be so meaningful to have a traditional wedding.

SR and I were officially married a year and a half ago in the US. It was just a tiny ceremony so I could apply for my opholdstilladelse in Denamrk.

But last Saturday, we had a dream wedding. I didn't have big expectations. But it was, well, perfect. The real thing, with a long white dress and a thousand and one Danish traditions. So meaningful and wonderful.

My dad accompanied me down the aisle of Gladsaxe Kirke, a church built in the 12th century.

We promised our lives to each other again. We both cried during the cermony, but pulled ourselves together.

Then we actually started running.

Ha ha. Just kidding. It's just a nice artsy/blurry picture.

Below are my beautiful flower girs: my step-daughter and my niece.

The Lorax tends to find ways to distract himself when necessary.

And the dress only cost $200! It was hand-made in the US after my specifications and then SR's mom did the alterations. She is such a talented seamstress.

The reception was at Experimentarium, the hands-on science museum in Copenhagen, where SR's father is the director. Here is a friend testing his lung capacity.

We had dinner in the museum cafe. There were many tearful speeches. It was incredible. SR's brother actually started crying before his speech began.

We then enjoyed a cake which had a picture of SR and I on it. I chose one where he had his shirt off so we could cut a piece of cake with a picture of his armpit hair on top. Yum. (Oh, by the way, I did shave my armpits for the wedding, in case you were all wondering)

The little lord stayed awake until nearly midnight.

The rest of the weekend was spent with family and friends at SR's family summer house in the seaside village of Nødebohuse. Below is a picture from my sister's fiance (who some of you may remember from previous posts as The Artiste).
Below is a picture from the beach behind the house. That is my sister flying the kite.

A weekend of love and happiness.

Is this really my life? Sometimes I have to pinch myself.

Stay tuned to the blog for (hopefully) daily reports from the Transalpine Race, which begins this Saturday Sept. 5th in Oberstdorf, Germany.

Running/Dancing song of the Day: Concrete and Clay by Unit 4 + 2