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 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.