When I moved to Denmark 2 years ago this coming November, I weighed 50.5 kg and could not have run intervals that fast. Had you told me gaining 2.5 kg would help, I would have never believed you.
But there is a variety of factors at play here. My diet has improved significantly over the past 3 months. More fish, more eggs, more vegetables and more fats (more like the diet I had when pregnant with The Lorax). In general, just a bigger variety of food. It has done wonders for my energy level. And the second thing is, I never run two days in a row. All of my runs are intense (okay, the beginning of this past week was an exception when I had a low fever and a terrible cold and only had it in me to run long runs at slower tempos).
I used to have a full blown eating disorder (in 2002-2004 - a while ago now), which as Meghan Hicks pointed out, I have discussed openly, but some readers seem to be under the impression that I still have an eating disorder. Well, I don't. And I certainly don't think a woman could take 3rd place in a decent-sized half ironman and have an eating disorder. Do I still use running to burn calories? Well, of course, but who doesn't? But it has gotten to the point where kicking ass in a race is much more satisfying than an extra couple cookies or buying size XS.
Speaking of which, our favorite local race was today: Villa Gallina Løbet. It takes place in a large forest near Haslev, where there are wide trails over very challenging hills. One of the hills is so large that it is named Gøngehøvdingen after a particularly savage and successful 17th century danish warrior, Svend Poulsen Gønge. And yet another is called "Svenske kløften" - The Swedish Cliff. But seriously, none is so bad that is must be walked.
There were 5.5, 9.5 and 14 (actually 13.5) km distances to choose between. And each distance has around 200 runners. It is a big event in our area (it's about 15 km from Næstved). In light of my plan to run a marathon next weekend and a 5k race later in the week, I opted for the 9.5km distance. I told myself again and again - tempo run only! There is no bear chasing you - avoid injury at all costs!
It was raining at the start, actually quite a downpour, as the 5.5 km racers line up. I snapped this picture just before 10:00 am, when their race would begin. The 9.5 km would start 10 minutes after.
I couldn't help asking this guy if a wetsuit was really necessary.
He answered affirmatively, though I couldn't eek an explanation out of him. But the thing is, you just can't question someone who shows up in a wetsuit to a race. That is not something that happens accidentally. Anyway, what a hot race it must have been for him.
I should mention that SR was just getting off of his night shift, so unfortunately couldn't make it there in time for the start, otherwise he would have run.
After they yelled start for our race, I took off with the lead men. I think all of my interval running has left me too trigger happy since I ran the first mile in around 6 minutes. All of my attempts to "just run a tempo" didn't make that first mile any slower. I even ran without music, with the hopes that I would run more slowly and enjoy the forest.
Then the full-fledged hills started and the pace slowed. I stayed with the same group of guys, though the leader moved decisively ahead.
I came through the first 5k in 21:30. The thing about this race is just when you think there can't possibly be anther uphill, there is. Again and again. The same guy was running close behind me the entire time and I just kept thinking, when will he just stop the torture and pass me? (He was a really nice guy, I would learn at the finish - but I'm not one for small talk during a race). We stayed together. Finally, the last 1km is downhill and I saw SR and I was so happy to see his smiling face. He said to me: "200 meter tilbage - hvis du skal spurte så er det nu!" He was trying to convince me to outkick the guy behind me and, it turned out I did have enough energy in me to just barely beat him at the sprint. Though, he probably let me win.
My name came over the loudspeakers as first female. They even said my middle name. It was a nice moment. My time was nothing to write home about, but 42.40 on that course is something I can live with. And I know I did get a good tempo out of it at perhaps slighly slower than race pace. I was really pleased.
SR and I went for a run and he snapped a nice picture of me, also capturing the forest well.
I loved getting to run the trails again with him. But my foot was bothering me. Yes, the downside of racing. I hadn't noticed it one bit during the race, but suddenly I could barely run.
I should mention my Ecco Bioms worked really well even on wet, rugged terrain. I didn't run the race with the Amphipod, but it is a really nice water bottle for training, which I picked up in the US.
We went back for the prizes. Last year, SR won the 14 km and received a fancy glass blow. I walked by the results and saw Mette had won the 14 (13.5) km for the women in 52:50, which was less than a minute slower than the winning man's time. Damn! That girl is just so fast. She is my real life equivalent of Piccola Pinecone. It was so good to see her again. I had no idea she was coming so it was nice surprise to be able to catch up.
Here I am getting my prize (It looks sunny now, but a downpour would start again in less than 5 minutes).
Here's what was in the box (cars and ship not included):