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 29 March 2010

Brief guide to running an ultramarathon

I was just out to lunch with some of my dear friends from Hartland, WI. Spending time with "normal" women does wonders in terms of putting my life half dedicated to exercise and running in perspective. As you can see, I'm actually wearing running clothing to lunch. Well, I believe in packing very light, so it's the only stuff I brought. Though none of them could fathom why anyone would willingly run 50 miles, they at least acted curious (like good friends do). I'll admit my life is quite unbalanced, BUT I could not contain my excitement and happiness as I described the sport and thought about the upcoming race on Saturday.

Hells Hills will be my 7th ultra, so I thought I could write a little summary of what I've learned for those interested in running an ultra. For those who have run many more, speak up, if you find anything I say egregious. It is actually quite amazing how little you need to know to enjoy such a long endeavor.

About a month before a 50 miler, I try to run one 26 miler fairly fast. Anything more than this risks injury too much. I find the more ultras I have run total, the better my next ultra goes. I don't know if this is due to mental or physical advantage, though probably both.

I also think training to be fast at shorter distances is advantageous in longer races because of the muscle base one builds.

Yoga helps build core muscles and balance, plus prevents injury. I just heard some ladies at the gym here in the US complaining of chronic hip problems while running. Knock on wood, I haven't had any hip problems since I've gotten serious about yoga and varied my exercise routine. And that's in the face of more intense running.

Pre-race food and nutrition:
The week before the race is not a good time to lose weight. One burns through energy quickly in an ultra. But you don't want to gain weight either as that's just extra weight to lug around.

Having a diverse diet including protein can only be a benefit. One does not need to eat a lot of meat to achieve a healthy amount of protein. There are many good sources of protein. The ones I prefer are fish, grains, legumes, nuts, eggs, cheese. (Devon Crosby Helms would disagree and recommends eating meat. Here is her well-written post).

Supplements: you don't need supplementation if you do not have an underlying physical condition requiring them. Eat a diverse diet including omega 3 fatty acids and supplements just can't improve your performance. If you are pregnant, take folate. If you get next to no sunlight (but what runners do?), take vit. D, especially if you are a darker-pigmented person. If you are post-menopausal, take calcium and vitamin D. It's that simple. (Read Steve Q's post on Vit B6, if you would like some detailed info on that supplement.)

What to wear
Clothing that prevents chafing! I have made the mistake of running two ultras in just a sports bra and the chafing marks from my water bottle belt in 2008 are still visible on my back (luckily, I adore scars like this). If it's really hot, you never know where you will chafe, so buy breathable tight-fitting clothing. No cotton allowed except in underwear and socks. Maybe nobody out there wears cotton underwear like me, but I'm always a "little behind" in that department.

Shoes. Go with the old faithful. They should be shoes you've worn many times. I have read way too many race reports with shoe malfunctions.

I also bing: ipod, garmin, and ibuprofen, a PPI (I sadly take these on a daily basis for my stomach) and a little food in my pocket.

Oh, yeah, and don't forget suntan lotion - I did that at Voyageur last year. I've never worn sunglasses because they give me headaches.

And something to carry fluid in. I wear a belt with a water bottle. I have worn a camel-back, but find it too heavy and awkward to take out to refill.

Fueling during the race
Fluid: Replace the fluid and salt you lose! It is nearly impossible to overdose on ingested salt. In physiology I once asked what would happen if a person ate an entire salt lick and the answer is a temporary increase in blood pressure. But you also need to drink fluid along with the salt to avoid dehydration (so yes, I guess if you don't drink water with the salt you can overdose in a sense). Try to keep yourself urinating. But beware, you can also overdose on water. I usually fill my water bottle with half water half sports drink, but never drink water alone. Water alone also starts to taste badly at some point. The stress of the race, even without the sweating, drives down the sodium in our blood, so it's best to make an effort to get sodium. If it were really hot, I'd take a salt tab (though I've yet to try one) and/or eat salty foods at the aid stations.

Food: eat small amount of calorie-rich food throughout the race. I made the mistake at the Angel Island 50k of eating a small dinner the night before and then hardly eating anything during the race. Oh, and I was breastfeeding. I absolutely crashed at about 26 miles. There IS a difference between a marathon and an ultra! Let me just add I have never and would never eat Gu/gel. Not because I think it's dangerous. It just disgusts me. There goes another sponsorship.

Drop bag:
bandaids (the only thing I've used)
extra clothing
extra shoes
extra socks
(I think drop bags become more important in 100 milers, but I wouldn't know first hand)

What did I forget?
Running the race:
My three good pointers are: 1. on most hills I walk the first 3/4 and run that last 1/4. 2. wear a garmin 3. run with a group, if possible.

The family is waking up now, so gotta get going!

Running song of the day (another awesome one I missed in 2009): Take a Minute by K'naan

Friday 26 March 2010

My training, my departure, my reading list

My my my. Strange-looking word the longer you look at it.

Training schedule
I have had some requests for my exact training schedule. Well, when it comes to running, it is simple:
Each week
1 long run
1 tempo
1 set of intervals (usually 6 x 1 mile with 2:10 pauses)

...3 days of hard running, the remaining days as little running as possible without gaining weight/losing my sanity. Let's use this week as an example:

Sat: 10k tempo in 42:44 (yeah, also a race ruined by gastroenteritis)
Wednesday: hard 18 miles on hilly trails
Friday: 6 x 1 mile hilly trail intervals (7:01 pace average; doesn't sound that great by my average on the same trails was 7:43 in the late fall)

I can hardly believe the shape I'm in. Hard to say if any of the training this week will make one iota of difference in the 50 miler in 8 days, however. But from now on, it is just about tapering.

My departure
I leave for the US tomorrow. Not much to say about that except I get to leave on a good note since I just got the news today that the region I live in in Denmark has agreed to pay my research salary for the next 3 years, full time! Now I just have to focus on eyes! No thinking about running in pregnancy, breastfeeding, birth outcomes, etc. Well, once in a while is ok, right?

My reading list
Here are the books I am taking on the trip:

Njáls Saga - unknown author (thank you for the rec, Steve Q!)
Bhagavad Gita - second read, but I was so young the first time (thanks again, Steve Q)
Kompendium i sundhedslovgivning/Compendium of Legal Medicine - (thanks Danish Ministry of Health) once I pass this last test, I receive a Danish medical license equivalent to Danish doctors.

Speaking of reading, the one book I really want to bring along is Stories from Running Routes of the World. Can't wait to read all of your contributions (trust me authors, this book is going to sell!). And if you've been inspired to write your own story and are new to this blog, send me an email.

Running song of the Day: One Tribe - by Black Eyed Peas (I can't believe this escaped my amazing and all-encompassing music radar :)... it is awesome; might make an optimist out of you.

Thursday 25 March 2010

Distracting myself from loneliness

It is a strange moment in my life. SR, Natali and The Lorax are in the USA and I stayed behind in Denmark for a few days due to work.
I imagined these days would be a heavenly experience involving lots of rest and any other thing my heart desired. And that is exactly what it has been. In a way.

Last night I went on an 18 mile hilly trail run and ran hard. The weather has become perfect here.

This morning I woke up for an early run and sometime in the middle of the day it struck me that I live quite close to the ocean. At 3:30 pm (yes work ends early here), I rode my bike out to the beach. We live in such a gorgeous part of Denmark. If SR hadn't just told me my blog was at times too sappy, I might expound upon that.

Karrebæksminde Bugt minus cute kids and/or happy couple staring at each other lovingly in profile.

Town of Karrebæk

And the beach in Karrebæksminde - overexposed.

I am lucky to live here. And it was such a beautiful day. But once I met SR something weird happened; being alone just wasn't as fun. And once you have kids, you just want to share things with them. I was a happy person before SR, Natali and The Lorax, but now I have trouble accessing that person I was. Couldn't even relax enough to take my helmet off at the beach, for God's sake!

But I successfully distracted myself the rest of the night with yoga and then triathlon team swimming. A good life, at least on paper.

Two great running songs:

Underwear by FM Belfast
Hannah by Freelance Whales

Tuesday 23 March 2010

How breastfeeding affects exercise

Ahhh, back to talking about things that 95% of the world population doesn't care about.

I am frequently contacted by women about whether excercising negatively impacts lactation. But what if this question were asked in reverse?

Does breastfeeding result in slower running times? (Okay, I have to say it: not actually breastfeeding while running, people! Very few can/try to pull that off...))

Let's take Liza Howard as an example. She is the 2010 winner of the Rocky Raccoon 100 miler in Texas. I became interested in her because I will be racing with (er, behind) her in Hells Hills 50 miler in less than 2 weeks. She ran the 2010 Rocky Raccoon in the amazingly fast time of 15:45. But last year, in 2009, she ran it in 21:32. She ran nearly 6 hours faster this year or had a 26% reduction in time! Quite a difference for 1 year of training. But could it in part be attributed to the fact that she was breastfeeding in 2009 and not in 2010? (I should mention that not only was she breastfeeding, but she physically stopped to breastfeed her son every 20 miles).

Well, she has also hired a running coach and is training better, so it is very hard to determine exactly how much of the improvement is due to not breastfeeding.

Let's take my racing times as an example. I have run 1 race seriously in my life when I was not pregnant or breastfeeding and that was the 15k 2 weeks ago. My previous 10k time on a flat comparable course was 42:44 (that was in December). I stopped breastfeeding when The Lorax turned 2 in February. My next 10k time (from 2 weeks ago) in a 15k race was 41:08. This is a 3% reduction in time. Not quite as overwhelming of a difference. But something.

This is by far the most unscientific scientific post I have ever written. But I can find absolutely no research on this subject. I can't even find an inane discussion on Yahoo Answers. I may just be the only person on the planet who cares.

But if anyone is still reading, my question is this: Can I expect a huge improvement in my 50 mile time now that I'm not breastfeeding? Like say, a 26% reduction in time from my PR of 8:49 (while breastfeeding) to 6:30? Ha. Okay, I just had to exaggerate a bit. Anyone out there have first hand experience? Liza Howard, you are also allowed to chime in.

Sunday 21 March 2010

A (miserable) 10k race report

I have finally returned to the world of the living over 24 hours after yesterday's 10k. I have spent all day going back and forth between vomiting and sleeping. At one point I begged SR to take me to the ER since I thought it was an ectopic pregnancy. He knows me all to well and told me to just calm down.

Since I don't have the energy or frame of mind to write anything long right now, I'll keep it brief.

SR and I both ran the 10k race in Holbæk yesterday at 2:30 pm. It was rainy and windy, but the temperature was pleasant. I ran the first 5k in just over 20 minutes, on pace for a 10k PR and feeling good. I was following the same guy and drafting just like my coach, SR, has always recommended. But then I got a side stitch. And it wasn't just a little side stitch (but this was impossible! I had such a small breakfast!). I had to almost slow to a stop and was screaming out curses in English as the spectators watched me. I decided I would just walk back to the start because there was absolutely no way to go on. Or so I thought. I mean, even though I knew now I wouldn't get a PR, I did also come to win and there was prize money. So I told myself there was no such thing as pain, even though I was crying like a baby and yelling "Help!" the remaining 4km. The pain was definitely worse than what I experienced with the birth of The Lorax. Was I insane? The end could not come soon enough. I was not happy with my 42:44 time, but I did win (barely) and I got a 200 kr. gift certificate to Intersport. SR got second and was happy with his 34:50 time, though he claims he would have won had he known there was such a good prize for first. I had to laugh a bit. We were both feeling okay after the race and got to hang out with Ann and Martin from Jyderup. So it seemed all was well.

But today has been like hell. The stomach pain and nausea just would not abate all day except in the precious moments I was asleep. When one is in that much pain mid-race, they should probably stop running. I had not considered I'd pay for it so much today. Or maybe it would have been just as bad regardless of the racing; hard to say.

Luckily SR took the kids to Copenhagen today so he could play tennis with the band Safri Duo. The next post will be a more positive one. At least I hope so!

But no matter how bad my race was, it was not as bad as Mike's: he went 25 miles off course at 3 Days of Syllamo in Arkansas only to be denied food and water by the campers he finally found!

I had a great night's sleep and woke up feeling myself this morning, but soon learned Natali had been throwing up all night. Guess it was just the stomach flu.

Friday 19 March 2010

Spring Cleaning (not really about cleaning)

There are so many subjects to discuss today.

But since the title mentions Spring Cleaning, I will first confess that I hired a woman from Vilnius, Lithuania to clean our entire apartment yesterday. She actually had to tell me what cleaning products to buy since we didn't own any, except toilet cleaner (hard to get along without that) and well, soap. The apartment is, at this moment, beautiful. Since I was feeling pretty down about my wifery skills, I was really glad when she said "I like make clean here. You have warm family." Wish I could say something kind in Lithuanian in return, but every time I try to pronounce from google translate, I fail miserably. For example Dėkoju už pagalbą.

As long as I am confessing, I attempted to run intervals on Wednesday and ran 3 x 1 mile, all at over 7 minutes per mile and then just gave up due to sore legs. Terrible. That 15k on Sunday took way more out of me than I or my coach, SR, anticipated. I am just hoping I have it in my legs to run a PR 10k tomorrow.

Now onto the book. Running Routes of the World (temporary title). It looks like it is happening. Here is our list of authors and where they are from and/or where they are writing about.

Olga- lives in TX (? not really sure if she is writing... pressure...)
Leslie-lives in Italy
Diana - lives in Holland
Steve - Afton State Park, MN
Marie-Aline - lives France
Ashley - lives in North Carolina
Helen - also Afton State Park, MN
Monyka - lives in France (will she write?)
Layna - also lives in North Carolina
John - has already written a poem! - lives in Montreal
Rasmus(aka SR, aka Fast Bastard) - lives in Denmark, will write about La Crosse, WI...?
Tracy(aka Sea Legs Girl, aka me) - lives in Denmark, will write about (sorry, only SR knows)

Wow! 10 definite authors, 2 potentials. Anyone else in? And I had better receive SOMETHING from the authors by the end of April! Even if it's just a sentence or a very rough draft, at least then I'll know you're in. Email address:

One more topic. I have been in contact with a Danish researcher about the National Danish Birth Cohort. There are data about women who have run greater than 5 miles per week during pregnancy and all of their birth outcomes. I am soon going to be applying for the right to analyze these data. I am on the lookout for someone with experience in researching exercise in pregnancy to work with me, since I have another huge project going right now. I will keep you all updated if anything happens with that.

Finally, SR is always nagging me about what new running songs he can listen to. He apparently never reads my "Running Song of the Day" suggestions. To make it easier, I am going to insert the You Tube videos of my four current favorite interval running songs. Some of them have been mentioned before.

1. Subtlety is sometimes overrated:

2. Don't forget about the classics (sorry about the poor video quality!)

3. Danish, very Danish

4. Maybe my favorite band of the moment (from Iceland)

Monday 15 March 2010

Nike Test Run 15k Race Report

Post-race conclusions:

1. Structured training with speed works.
2. Weight is NOT the most important factor in speed.
3. Know your exact pace before you run the race.
4. Tie your shoes in quadruple knots.

Now to the story.

What a weekend! Started out with SR and I eating the best food I have had since we moved to Denmark: extra spicy thai curry with shrimp and vegetables at a new retaurant in Næstved, Ban Chang. Pure bliss. If I ate exclusively Asian food from this moment on, I would be thrilled. Let me put in bluntly: Eurpean food is bland and not that good(way too much meat, cream, cheese and bread) unless it's strong French cheese (the kind that tastes like old, dirty socks) or the kind of French mustard that makes you cry.

Saturday was SR's turn to race, or should I say, he offered to race Saturday and watch the kids for my race on Sunday. It is not a surprise he was voted the most under tøflen "under the slipper" in his marriage by a bunch of his guy friends on Saturday night (this is of course what Americans call "whipped"). Sorry, ladies, he's taken.

He ran an extremely technical, hilly 8k race on icy trails. Here he is coming in second to the finish line.

And in first place for the women, came Mette. Remember this girl, as I predict she will be in the top 5 in The Copenhagen Marathon this year. She is an amazing runner and only 24.

Concensus after the race was it was an experience, though no one dared say it was a good or enjoyable one.

Sunday was the 15k Nike Test Race in downtown Copenhagen. This was a "target" race for me and I was nervous. With over 4000 registered runners, this was by far the largest race I had participated in. My goal was under 63 minutes and perhaps in the top 5 females.

The Lorax and I woke up at 6:30 to take the train from Næstved to Copenhagen (just over an hour). I had a shining moment as a mother, as you can see in the picture, when I packed a that breakfast box for the Lorax.

The sun was shining and I knew it was going to be a great day. Partly because we were going to the Copenhagen Planetarium with the kids after the race. I always feel kind of guilty about Natali having to come to all of our races.

We met SR and Natali at Østerport train station. I ran to the start and they walked.
I felt great and literally squeezed my way through thousands of people to get up to the men with the 4:15 balloons. I had to do some rapid math to figure out where to stand as I still think in terms of min per mile. But 4:15 min/km would put me at about 6:45 min/mile. Seemed reasonable and about right for 63 minutes. The women near me were eyeing me up. I am sure they were thinking I was standing in the wrong place, judging by my clothing, posture, pseudo potbelly.

The start gun went off and I started my music and garmin, not expecting to wait 10-20 seconds before I crossed the start line. But we were a huge herd. Happily it was chip-timed, so no one lost those valuable seconds.

In the first 5k, I just passed and passed and passed people. I felt amazing. I actually had to hold back to keep my time for the 5k around 20 minutes. I usually hate running in big cities, but when the sidewalks are cleared and there is no waiting, it is wonderful. I actually passed my friend Tanni, who had beaten me by over a minute in a 10k last year. 20:20 for the first 5k.

Here I am cruising (completely off the gound, nonetheless) just after the 5k. One thing about living so far north is that sunny days are almost blindingly bright. The rest of the photos after this one had to be doctored.

SR let me know from the sideline I was in 6th place for the women.

At around 7k, I could sense Tanni gaining on me. Was I slowing down? Garmin check: no, not really. We started running side by side. And then something was wrong with my right foot. What was happening? Ahhhhhhh!!! Shoelace. Untied. For a few milliseconds I wondered if I could run the remaining 8k with an untied shoe. "Shit!" I cried out above my blaring music. 2 more milliseconds and I was bending over tying my shoe. I knew Tanni was smiling on the inside. Hard to judge the amount of time lost. 10 senconds?

What happened next is a perfect example of why I will never be an elite runner. I was so mad about the stupid shoelace and could not fight this overwhelming urge to "get revenge" (on the shoelace? God? Thor?). I saw Tanni, now far ahead, and told myself to think of nothing but catching up to her again. At one point my garmin said I was running a 5:11 pace. Real smart. Well, I caught up to her alright. And we ran next to each other for a while, battling, exchanging glances. At 10k I looked at my garmin, and minus the 10 seconds lost before the start, the 10k time was 41:08. A huge 10k PR for me. My previous PR was 41:48.

We kept battling for a km or so and then Tanni pulled ahead. When this happened, I entered a severe midrace depression. My legs were in pain from that stupid sprint. Another woman who I was sure I could beat passed me.

But then, I saw the 4:15 balloon men: the pacers I had started with. They passed me. "Just stick with them no matter what" I told myself. And I did. Good Morning by Rogue Wave came on my iPod and I felt better. Just the right tempo and a good melody. I saw SR and Natali and The Lorax. They looked happy.


I kept going at the 4:15/km pace, shutting out the thought of sore legs.

Here I am nearing the end. And the pacer behind me appears to be nearing my end, with his eyes.

I wouldn't make it under 63 minutes, but close: 63:22. And I wouldn't make top 5 for women either, but again, close. No reason to be down. I had a huge 10k PR and a very respectable time. My goals were a bit ambitious, but I'm no worse off for it. And I am a much faster runner than last year.

Tanni had to laugh when she saw me at the finish. She had a good point in saying I wasted a lost of energy with my erratic racing style. I must have caught up to her and passed her only to be passed again 10 times. She's 23 and learned this a long time ago. I'm 30 and may never learn.

The rest of the day was fantastic. And I'm looking foward to a fast 10k next weekend, where I'm hoping to get near 40 minutes. So yes, the training is working, gosh darn it!

Running Song of the Day: Good Morning by Rogue Wave.

Thursday 11 March 2010

A book about running routes of the world

Recently I have become way too prolific for this blog's own good. I told myself yesterday I had to calm down a bit and post less. But then, as I was getting ready for bed last night, I had an idea.

SR had fallen asleep early because he had been on call the night before and I was sitting reminiscing about my favorite books. I was thinking about what I would like to read next and it dawned on me that I wanted to make a collection of running stories from across the world.

I am calling out to readers of this blog to be an author(a lot of you already are in your own blogging way or otherwise). I want you to write about a running route that means something to you. It should be a story with personality and emotions and perhaps humor. It should be centered around a running route and you should describe exactly where this route is. Since I know readers of this blog come from and/or live all over the place, I am excited to see where these routes are. It doesn't need to be your favorite route, it just needs a story attached to it. (What I don't want is: "I like running on the emerald necklace in Boston because it is pretty. I run there every day. I start at the Riverway in Brookline and turn around after Jamaica Pond.") This is not going to be a guide book to running routes, but stories about running routes.

I also really plan on publishing this book. And paying the authors. That is if I find a publisher and that publisher convinces people to buy it. But who wouldn't want to read this? Come on! And I want some of the proceeds to go to a good cause. You can also suggest a cause if you are one of those people who know a lot about good causes.

If you are interested in being an author, send an email to me at If you are really fast, you can even send the story at the same time. Or just let me know you are planning on writing something. Pictures are welcome but are in no way a requirement. You can also write me suggesting an author you would like to have write a story for the book.

I know that I for one am going to write a chapter and SR is planning his as well. Don't be shy! Send me a story! You could become famous and, perhaps, more beloved than you already are.

Running Song of the Day: Le Lac by Indochine

Wednesday 10 March 2010

new running form, mile PR and categorical goals

It's been 3 days since the training marathon, but I decided to chance running some mile intervals today.

I have a very tight medial hamstring in my right leg, causing so much pain in my knee that I can barely walk. But when I run, I can't feel it at all.

My plan was to run 6 x 1 mile intervals like usual. During my first interval, something strange happened. I started using my arms to help me along. It just came naturually. And I felt more like a running machine than my usual awkward self. A 6:30 pace with arm pumping became easier and more efficient than my 6:45 pace without. To make a long story short, in the 3rd mile everything came together and I ran a mile PR of 6:21 (!). I have run miles faster in races, but I have never officially timed them. So this is my PR by default. My next mile was in 6:48, so I didn't completely ruin my chance at running the rest. But by that time, my knee was hurting, so I had to stop the intervals.

A mile in 6:21 doesn't sound that fast. (and a lot of you probably hate me for writing that, but when I have run a 5k in 19:20, it's not that fast). BUT in the fall, I could not get myself to run ONE mile interval in less than 7 minutes in practice, let alone many in a row.

But what am I training for? This question was posed to me by my running friend, Mette, who just amazingly ran a 10k PR in 38:50. Well, there is the easy answer: I am training for the 15k on Saturday, the 80k Hells Hills in Texas and The Copenhagen Marathon at the end of May. But then there is the real answer: I am training to just be BETTER.

Here are my physical categorical goals:

Running: faster at all distances (except less than 1 mile... I've given up on that)
Swimming: Go for a 30 lap PR once a week (I tought myself to swim now 5 years ago and since we have lived in Denmark, I have gone from a fastest time of 45 minutes to 37 minutes (two days ago)... I alternate using that between-the-legs floaty thing and not to strengthen my arms)
Biking: Become less afraid of dying. Be able to ride an Ironman distance.
Looks/weight: more lean, stronger abs, no pimples, more tan :)

The one immediate numerical goal I have is to run the 15k in less than 63 minutes.

I guess I could talk about emotional and mental/metal goals, but you would all fall asleep (if you haven't already).

Running song of the day: Tik Tok by Ke$ha (sorry, it's intervals, I just need something fast)

Sunday 7 March 2010

Marathon PR on a friendly training run

Yes, it happened to me. Well, at least almost.

I woke up feeling great after a relaxing Saturday watching The Lorax. Then I got a great deal of inspiration from Olga, who just won the Neuces 50 miler in Texas (after no sleep, nonetheless). I figured in order to keep up with her at the Hells Hills 50 miler April 3rd, I had better get my ass in gear. Plus there is only time for long runs on weekends.

The sun was shining over the whole island of Sjælland. Because of a birthday party in Copenhangen an SR's parents kindly watching the kids, we arranged an interesting training day:

We ran 12.25 miles in 1:46, relaxed and ate for 3 hours at the party, and then did the same 12.25 miles again, this time in 1:53 (God, I love having a Garmin). A total of 24.5 miles in 3:39. Not bad for a training day. Okay, it wasn't a full marathon length, it wasn't a PR and it wasn't the whole distance at the same time (I am a filthy liar). BUT it felt great. I am barely sore. It is exhillarating to be able to run such a distance at such a pace and hardly feel it.

I will just add the time flew with intersting conversations: everything from the tourist industry in Sierra City, CA to the downfall of Edie Sedgwick. It was however good that our run was almost over when we started arguing about the Icelandic national debt.

No music today, but here's a good new song from Iceland:

"By and By" by Lay Low

Saturday 6 March 2010


Well, it is my blog after all. If I can write about running, why can't I write about how to live life?

If I haven't lost you yet, I don't think you'll be disappointed reading along.

A number of things recently have led me to believe more than ever that the key to a fulfilling life is finding the things you LOVE about life and passing these on to others. I know this isn't a novel concept. But I think far too often, energy is wasted when people concentrate too much on how to make others happy, how to do things the "right" way and what other people think.

Here are some examples of passing on the things one loves:

1. There is a famous, now dead, singer from Denmark named Tommy Seebach. He had three children, one of them a son named Rasmus, who is now also a famous musician in Denmark. Rasmus wrote a song about his father's life and death, where he sings to his dad (sorry about my translation: "It took me 29 years, but I understand now. I've done exactly what you said I should. 'Sing, boy, just sing'. And so I am." The way that this song brings me to tears is incredible. I first heard this song in the fall and every time it came on my iPod, I had to stop running because I was crying so hard. Now I have heard it twice on the radio as I drove to pick up the Lorax and by the time I get to his daycare I have a red, teary face and I have to explain "It was just Rasmus Seebach". It's such a perfect example of how by doing what one loves and what one is good that, that joy can not only be passed on to one's child, but also that that child, Rasmus can have such an effect on others or, well, at least me :).

Here's a pic Rasmus and his brother, Nicolai put up on a blog post about their dad.

2. This one is from my real life. There are a lot of people who are in situations where they are not as close to their children as they would like to be. SR is in this situation with his son who lives in the US. My mother had a similar situation with her father. She wrote a few words about her dad in an email to us:

Though my father has been gone 21, almost 22 years and I always spent much less time with him than my mother, it is my experiences with him that I recall on almost a daily basis. He taught me to fish and water ski. Though he had never gone skiing himself, he was determined to help me learn on warm summer nights on the glassy lake. He instilled in me his love of gardening, explaining poisonous flowers and those used medicinally. I remember how he planted hundreds of impatiens the summer of our wedding so the reception would be more beautiful. Though he didn't cook often, he loved to try different things like mushrooms or cauliflower in the deep fryer after the french fries were done. He even made his own pickles several years. I still love the smell of fresh dill. He gave me an appreciation of beautiful things which he sometimes collected, i.e. the Danish plates. He was soft-spoken with a great sense of humor taking pride in telling the latest funny joke or story. He gave me an interest in medicine, sometimes by telling about interesting cases. I often go through the JAMAs and any article in the newspaper or magazines on health looking for interesting info thinking of him.

This is an old picture of my mom with The Bois.

Well, the point of this is, it is not hard to live a good life, as it should come naturally. But the point is to DO it, as life is short. One does not have to have children to inspire others and bring joy into their lives.

I thought I had better take a second to make a list of things that bring me joy: running in the white sunlight in the first days of spring, running in new places and running in places for the 110th time, skiing in the mountains under the brightest blue sky, walks on milky, warm summer nights, playing Chopin and Bach on the piano, tyring to sing like Aimee Mann or Taylor Swift, smiling, making people laugh, yurts (just kidding), reading Virginia Woolf, travel books, physical and metal challenges of all kinds, seeing my husband sweaty and muddy after a race and swimming with my kids. Well, there are so many more, but I better stop now since I'm crying too hard to keep writing and I know that means this is getting sappy.

Please tell me about the things you love, that you will pass on...

Wednesday 3 March 2010


I am running faster and faster. And it's incredible how easy and fun it is.

Went out for my 8 mile tempo run today. First 5k in 21:59, 10k in 43:59 and 8 miles in 56:20. I shaved almost 1 minute off my time from two weeks ago. Man this is exciting. Again, a recap of my 8 mile tempo times since the fall

63:47 (snowstorm)
57:14 (2 weeks ago)
56:20 (today)

I am at just over a 7 minute per mile pace (or a 4:20/km pace). I know this doesn't sound fast, but it's just practice. And the route has hills and it's still cold out. I am convinced I could run a (perhaps big) 10k PR in a race. And who know what this means for the Copenhagen Marathon in May (oh, yeah, I have my period now, so now pregnancy yet)...

This mixture I have of tempos, long runs and intervals is incredibly effective. I am almost to the point of hating pointless running. Swimming and yoga fill a big part of my exercise life now that I run less junk miles. I am also looking forward to biking more now that the weather is getting better (gotta start training for the August Ironman in Copenhagen).

I am so averse to the idea of running pointless miles that I actually didn't run back to the woods after my tempo to go pick up my fleece. I realized it was a symbol that I was no longer the type of runner who runs with a fleece. When I run, I get hot. I always hated that ugly fleece anyway (I bought it at Sears!?). Later when I drove by the woods with the kids, I got out of the car and got the fleece. I felt too bad about leaving it there. Life is never that poetic anyway.

Though life was pretty close to perfect, if only temporarily, when I was at swim lessons with the kids today. Natali was practicing diving with her class and The Lorax and I were in a parent-child class swimming, laughing and batting a ball back and forth in the sunlight. Then The Lorax turned pale and said "cookie". Oh, no. He had shit in his swim diapers again.

Running Song of the day: Police Bells and Church Sirens by Nephew (this song really carried me through my tempo today. I listened to it 4 times in a row.)

Tuesday 2 March 2010

What year is it?

You might expect to hear this question in regards to a man walking around with a purple Casio boombox playing Ton-Loc or a woman wearing Isotoner slippers. Or I guess in the movie Back to the Future.

But you would not expect it as a genuine question. I was sitting taking an examination today in prescription writing (recept skrivning) for medical students (I have to take it because I am a physician from outside of Europe) and I had to write the date at the bottom of all of the prescriptions and I couldn't remember what year it was. This test is notorious, because if you write one thing wrong, you fail. I filled out all the prescriptions, but left the year blank. I finally figured I had to write something, so I wrote 2011. I was about to hand in my test when I saw the date at the bottom of the computer screen in front of me. Whoa. Good thing a 1 can easily be changed to a 0.

I never used to believe a person's mind could reach maximum capacity, but now I think it can. My whole life I was kind of a star test-taker. And I used to dread the day I would become a mom, because I thought that would just by default make me less intelligent. And lo and behold, look at what is happening. I just can't seem to get a good handle on things anymore. How is one supposed to be a mom, cook, clean, live their life in a new language, a new country, be a PhD student, a physician, a runner, a blogger and be expected to take all these tests that Danish medical students take? It is days like this, where I wish I were a low flyer: someone who sat in coffee shops and read, pontificated, sipped coffee, had one pair of dark, dirty, smelly clothing and nappy hair. Maybe even a Casio boombox. No obligations, no expectations. But it would never do. I need SR, The Lorax, step-daughter and running.

Speaking of running, I found a gem of a place to run in Copenhangen today: Frederiksberg Have (Garden). Gorgeous on an early sunny morning with a bit of frost on the ground. I challenged all of the females and males on the trails to a race at some point (whether they knew it or not). Beautiful happiness, no matter what year it might be.

Running Song of the Day: Dry Lips by Dúné