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

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