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 26 September 2010

Inaugural 10k "mountain" race: Maglebjergræset

I showed up over an hour early to a parking lot, seeminlgly in the middle of nowhere, outside of Birkerød. I had no idea if I was near the race start, but then saw two women get out of their car in running clothing.

As I walked over to them, I couldn't help but noticing their conversation: "I heard there is a famous American woman running in this race. I've read lots about her. She has a blog." The other one then says "I think I saw her on tv the other day". The other woman interjects "no, I don't think that was her".

My head grew a couple of sizes. I asked them if they were here for the race, trying to hide my American accent, but to no avail. Of course, when I turned around and saw Kara Goucher, my head shrunk to a much smaller size than before. Okay, I'm kidding about Kara Goucher.

As I warmed up and saw the race markers, I realized that we would not actually be running on trails, but just straight through the woods. And up steep, steep hills. Mountains by Danish standards. Everything was wet and muddy from rain that morning and I had only brough my Ecco Bioms (there are few shoes on the maket with less tread), thinking this would be on regular and untechincal trails. I was very wrong and of course regretted my choice of shoes.

The race had two distances: 5k and 10k. Then there was an additional prize for the first man and woman to sprint up to the top of the first and highest "mountain". The top was after 500 meters. Two days before I had run miles in 6:02, 5:58 and 6:19 (it was a brief interaval session - and okay, I took a brief break half way in the first two :() and was feeling confident I could win the moutain sprint AND the 10k. Jakob, who would also be running, kind of rolled his eyes at the start line as I indicated I wanted to win both. He said (and SR said) it was a bad way to start a 10k.

At the start line, I was right next to the local favorite female, Rikke Nygaard Monrad. She was running the 5k and looked to be in her mid 20's. I knew I had very little chance of beating her, but I almost false started, tripping and stopping myself right before the gun, so excited to simply TRY to beat her (perhaps this gives away how few people there were there that some females also lined up in the front).

We took off and I passed Rikke after about 200 meters. The crowd was yelling her name. It was exciting. We really battled up that mountain and I actually may have sort of elbowed her off of track at some point. I know, I am 31, not 5. There were only 2-3 men ahead of us and then with 50 meters to go, she pulled ahead. Here she was, just after the top.IMG_4581
(thanks to Helle Holm Clausen for this and the next 7 photos)
And here I come, now feeling incapable of running one more step. That's Jesper and Jakob close behind.
But that little mountain was just the beginning. Here are Jesper and Jakob from the back, shortly after they had pulled ahead of me for good. I was in really sorry shape.

I think this gives a fair idea of the terrain. We would not actually run on the muddy trail, but simply over it into more hilly forest (oh yeah, that is me there).

Here was the altitude change over the first and second 5k.

There were also areas simply over large holes in the forest floor where one would slide in and then crawl out again on hands and knees.

I came through the first 5k in 29:20 minutes, with Lene and Mette (a Mette I didn't know beforehand) close behind. The 10k consits of simply running the fist 5k again. Since I saw they both had their eyes on me, I sprinted again, thinking this would be a good scare tactic: making them believe I was full of energy. Sounds stupid, but it worked in the sense that I made myself believe I had lots of energy. I ran the second 5k much smarter and right behind a guy who basically picked a good path through the woods and made my run a lot easier. I came in through the second 5k in 29:29, which is without a doubt the most even 10k split of my life. I was thrilled!!!

I took first place for the women in the 10k with a time of 58:49. Here I am with Rikke, who took first in the 5k in 27:13 (and won the mountain sprint, in case you forgot).

We won a 300 koner ($65) gift certificate to a running store. Rikke also won a t-shirt for the mountain sprint.

Here I am with Lene, who took 3rd despite a wicked sinus infection. Lene, I'm sorry, I know this isn't the best picture of you!

Lene then convinced me to take a picture of Jesper's and my shoes.

It is hard to imagine a more challenging 10k unless one ran in real mountains. It was absolutely a wonderful race, which I hope can continue next year. Here is the race website with results.

Helle happens to live a 5 minute walk from the race start. She had Jesper, Jakob, Lene and I over for a really nice Facebook Løbeklub lunch afterwards. I made a broccoli salad, which I thought was a fool-proof thing to make, but perhaps I was wrong. Luckily, I brought some good brie.

Sorry, no music today!

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Running longer than a marathon is unhealthy... says Jacob Fuglsang

I am writing this in response to an article written for Politiken, Denmark's major newspaper, in the Sunday September 19th editon. The article is called "På kanten af kroppens formåen" -"On the edge of our body's capability." I want to discuss what Jacob says the dangers are in ultras and where I disagree - and where I think there are additional dangers he doesn't mention.

He starts with making the very broad generalization:
"For at tage spørgsmålet om sundhed først: Det er ikke sundt. Det ved deltagere og det er videnskabsfolk enige om."

"If we start with the question of health: It isn't healthy. Participants know it and scientists are in agreement"

The "it" he is referring to is racing a longer distance than a marathon. I will first caution Jacob that he should be more judicious with his generalisations. There is no reason to believe that hopping up to a 50k distance is more dangerous than a marathon. It depends on how one runs it. And it is dangerous to start an article saying all scientists agree when there is discussion of many different types of dangers and studies with meaningful evidence are lacking.

But what is it he and the expert, Michael Voigt, he interviews say are dangerous about these long races?

1. Kidney failure. He explains well that during races there is constant small bleeding in our muscles and, as a results, proteins are released into our blood which the kidneys have trouble clearing. This can lead to kidney failure.

My response: this is exactly true, but it happens every time we exercise and it is also part of the process of building new muscle. Muscle breaks down and is built up again at some point, but the waste products need to be eliminated. If one is dehydrated, one is always at risk of clogging the kidneys with the breakdown proteins (myoglobin), regardless of how far one runs. If one stays adequately hydrated during an ultra, one will not have kidney failure. It is really that simple.

An example from my own life (where I did it wrong). When I was doing a vascular surgery rotation, I was afraid of having to pee during the 7-8 hour surgeries, so I basically stopped drinking. After one of those surgeries, I went on an hour run and when I got home, I urinated something that resembled cola. I went to the ER and got IV fluid (now I would just drink a lot of water) and everything was ok. Luckily I got hydrated in time to avoid kidney damage from the proteins sitting there, stuck in the tubules (the real damage comes - and possible kidney failure - if they're not cleared out fairly quickly. I say "fairly" because it depends how much protein you've got stuck in there and what your glomerular filtration rate is to begin with).

I would say that kidney failure is not something that is in of it self dangerous in ultras, but is a running danger one should be aware of. The best way to avoid it in a race, especially when it is hot, is to drink lots of sports drink which is isotonic with our intravascular fluids (I'm talking veins here). Most sports drinks are close enough to this that they work. And they will also help one to avoid the other major risk of overhydration from water alone - hyponatremia. (One doesn't become low on salt unless one is sweating, so if you've stopped exercising, plain water is fine).

2. Fracture.

Agreed, obviously. But again, it is not a danger inherent to ultras. I would say one is more likely to break a bone by going out downhill skiing than running an ultra. I guess I would not even mention it as a specific risk. But then again, considering Steve Q's track record, it may be a particular risk to certain people.

3. Avoid painkillers.

Here Jacob simply didn't go into any sort of detail other than to say pain killers increase the risk of kidney failure. But there are different types of painkillers with different dangers.

Ibuprofen/Ibupren - this is the prototypical NSAID - decreases kidney function by inhibiting with the body's formation of prostaglandins, which are protective to the kidneys and stomach among other things. The same goes for all other NSAIDS. They should be avoided in races. I used to feel differently, but I read a very well-written, well-researched article in the New York Times, which changed my mind. They decrease performance and are potentially dangerous for our kidneys (and cause stomach upset - but that is a minor consideration when taken short term).

Tylenol - if you take 4 grams or less (that is 8 tablets) a day and you don't have a liver disease, there is no danger. The only problem is, it doesn't work for muscle pain. But if you have a headache, feel free to indulge. It is not a risky medication unless you overdose.

Opioids - no matter where you live, you need a prescription to get these and you can't even drive a car when taking them since they make you so drowsy. They also make you nauseated. They work for pain, but would be overall a huge detriment in an ultra due to the side effects. If you have pain that bad, just don't run.

Immunosuppressive steroids - ex. prednisone (like opioids banned from races and by prescription only) - these work for swelling and long term for certain types of pain. Some ultra runners have taken them to keep going days in a row. I actually do believe they are effective at reducing pain due to swelling. I agree, however, they should be banned from all sporting events as they prevent proper recovery and are quite dangerous to take long term. Short term, they present the same dangers as Ibuprofen, but even more pronounced, and can cause a psychotic-type reaction in certain people.

4. But the brain does fine.

Jacob discusses here how running benefits the brain. It is true that it is good for depression and mood and also for increasing one's pain threshold for the rest of the day (though as for ultras, I usually feel I have MORE pain afterwards :)), but I believe long-distance runs (marathons included) can also be dangerous for the brain. And this is not something I have any research to back up.

1-2 days after a very challenging athletic event (the longer and more physically exerting, the more profound it is), I have trouble thinking as clearly and acting as quickly as usual. Especially when I was working with patients daily in ophthalmology, I found I had a lot of trouble examining them. For anyone who works in a job where another's life/vision is potentially in danger, I would highly recommend taking at least one day off after a marathon/ultra/ironman to avoid potential harm to another. Exactly what this is caused by, I am uncertain, but believe it is shunting of essential nutrients away from the brain and to the recovering large muscle groups.

Psychiatrically, ultras are also dangerous because of the level of commitment they require to perform well in them. One may find oneself abandoning all one previously perceived as important (relationships, dedication to work, etc.) in order to find time to achieve the goal of a certain ultra - and that is probably the biggest danger of all. Trust me, I know. Plus the attitude of wanting to finish at all costs is dangerous for obvious reasons.

Finally, the overall statement that ultras are unhealthy, I think is false. I do not think there is evidence to support this either. I think ultras have risks, but I don't think that a few days or a few weeks after an ultra that one is less healthy. And I think training the heart and muscles to achieve that sort of endurance is healthy, at least physically.

That's all I have to say in response to Jacob.

If that was boring, here are some pictures from our tri club championship last weekend. The most notable part of the tri was the water being about 13 degrees C - I'm not going to look it up, but am wagering that is around 55 degrees F. Suprisingly, I LOVED it. Well, not the first two minutes, but after that it really was wonderful.

Our club captain, Anette.

First woman out of the water, Maria.

Rikke, who beat me by less than 30 seconds. Grrrrr.....
Søren, first place for the men:

Have I mentioned that I spend a lot of time dreaming at inopportune times?

Running song of the day: Driving to LA by Household Names (from Austin, for those who might live nearby :))

Saturday 18 September 2010

Who cares about dreams?

A lot of times I think people in our generation* waste too much time thinking about what they're meant to do. What their dream job is. What their destiny is. What about the idea of doing what your parents want you to do? Or the idea of taking over the family business? Or just continuing to do what you're doing because that is what you have been trained to do and you're good at it? What about simply being glad that you have a job or a trade that can give you work? What is all this dream crap?

If you are still reading because you think I have the answer, you can stop reading now. But why exactly is this question so important to me?

Let's take a very brief trip back to my childhood. Young Sea Legs Girl dreamed of nothing but being a musician. And later of being a writer. Her head was caught in fiction books and rock groups, but her dad had other ideas for her. He thought the whole music thing was mildly charming, but wanted his daughter to be involved in sports and go to medical school. I started college an English major playing in rock bands and the university string orchestra and ended up a long-distance runner bound for medical school (let's temporarily ignore the fact that I was also a raging anorexic with obsessive compulsive disorder).

In the end, he was right. One should not study what one enjoys studying. One should study (and train) to be the person one wants to be.

Had you asked me a year ago, I would have said it had all worked out. But now I'm not so sure. I am working on a study where I have very limited patient contact. I sit and grade retinal photos, enter data into a database and try to analyse data without cheating or lying or messing up. And at this point I am having trouble seeing what exactly Danes are going to get out of an epidemiological study of what eye diseases their population has. Okay, there are actually a lot of things that could come out of the study. But every day I sit and dream. And think about everything except for what I should be thinking of.

I think about how I went to medical school to work with Doctors without Borders and how I, ironically, have ended up studying the population in the world with perhaps the best health care system. I think about working as a sports medicine doctor. I think of working as a family medicine doctor in a small town. I think of finally publishing a paper out of all of the Danish National Birth Cohort study just looking at the effect of running on pregnancy. I think about publishing the Running Routes of the World book (yes, yes, you can still contribute! - it just requires time and commitment and a love of running and the possibility of no monetary compensation - it's a great opportunity!)

But at what point does one give up one's training and go in a completely different direction? No, no. I'm not talking about giving up medicine. I just couldn't. It's in my bones at this point and I love it.I'm talking about being more of a general physician rather than an ophthalmologist. A PhD and a whole lot of knowledge about eyes couldn't really hurt anything - it just seems like a waste to everyone who has trained me. And maybe I am just really bummed out because my "patient" is an enormous database.

As far as SR is concerned, he wants to move back to the US for many reasons. I am starting to be ok with this idea.

We have talked about the idea of moving to Klamath Falls: a small town in Oregon we could both imagine living, where there is a Family Medicine residency program for me and an ER SR could work in. We wouldn't move from here until my PhD and SR's specialty training in hematology is over (so we're talking a few years -- and I'll have to erase this post long before then so no residency program knows where I want to match -). But right now, it is a dream we share. No one really believed I would end this blog post saying we shouldn't dream, did they?

Thanks to Nasko Oskov for this picture of Crater Lake near Klamath Falls.

*everyone in the western world

Running songs of the day:

We Used to Wait by Arcade Fire
Ivy & Gold by Bombay Bicycle Club (just because of the banjo)

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Preparing to take on Germany

There are a lot of different ways one could "take on" Germany. One could, for example, take on the anti-Muslim, anti-immigration book Deutschland schafft sich ab just written by Thilo Sarrazin. But since this not exactly a political blog, you probably know that's not what I'm taking on. And I'm not talking about the Berlin Marathon this Sunday. Nope, SR and I will be taking on the mountains in central Germany in the Brocken Marathon.

I have, of course, mentioned this before. And you probably are thinking this is old news. But I just want to talk about my training, which is actually much more important than the race. I finally was able to run a long run yesterday (after suffering foot problems seemingly related to my beloved Ecco Bioms) and it was over the larger hills in Næstved. They are called åse (pronounced ohseh - sort of). It's some glacial term. I have run them fairly regularly since we moved to Denmark 22 months ago and I had always gotten winded to the point of walking - that is until yesterday. I had 3 hours of full-on åse and didn't have to walk on one hill. Liking to believe I am a scientist of daily life, I am trying to figure out why this is. Well, the only possible explanation is Invar (intensity + variation :)). Almost every day I work out repeatedly at what I perceive to be my VO2 max either in running intervals, swimming intervals, biking hills or doing this crazy step dancing stuff in my stomach-butt-thighs pulse class. Hills, as far as I understand it, are a great way to check the status of your heart and lungs. And, unless you have some lung illness, it is the heart which is the limiting factor. So I am deducing that my heart is doing well. Now I just have to work on keeping up my endurance (ie making time for long runs) before the marathon the second weekend in October.

I have also had a lot of hill races lately, which in hindsight, seemed to be a great workout. I am consiering adding a hill 10k race, Maglebjergraeset to my schedule in 2 weekends. I know Helle will be there. SR will again be working :(.

This is probably a good place to explain - last month I thought I was pregnant yet again, had two positive pregancy tests and then had my period the next day. Chemical pregnancy. The OB-Gyn in Duluth had warned me my uterus wouldn't be ready for a baby to implant the month after a miscarriage. I found myself wishing those super sensitive pregancy tests didn't exist - I just didn't want to know. So I'm not pregnant.(end of the aside)

To give you an idea of these åse, I snapped a picture, which I freely admit is quite crappy. And it really just resembles a regular hill in the woods.

Further along on my tour of the åse, I saw something that brought me back to my childhood.

Who knew it was so easy to get a Super Mario power-up on a run in the Danish woods?

These guys were everywhere and if you ask any Dane, they'll go on and on about the poisonous nature of these mushrooms: one lick and your deadly fate is sealed. This particular toadstool is called Amanita muscaria. It is true that if you eat about 15, especially if they are green or yellow capped, you might die. But if you boil them, you can eat as many as you like. And I guess they taste good. SR has suggested I prepare them for my lunch some day in front of his mom just to see the reaction. It is tempting.

But then what on earth appeared among the toadstools but a Lorax, apparently proud of just having eaten a stomach full.

And then an SR to keep him out of trouble.

A day in the magical åse.

And then, since I'm talking about people "taking on" Germany, here is a song from a Danish female musician living in Berlin who is starting to make it big there. The piano part is just so haunting - I can't help shivering.

It's called Brother Sparrow by Agnes Obél.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

I'm not cut out for this mom stuff

Does reading about other peoples' lives in shambles make you feel better about your own life? Perhaps this blog post is for you.

I guess it started last night, though honestly, it started the day I became a mom. I was sad at that point to realize that there is not a magic responsibility switch that is turned on when one becomes a parent. Anyway, yesterday I returned from work at 9pm to a sparkling clean apartment, which SR had accomplished while watching the kids, leaving me feeling both happy and guilty. Perhaps it was his allusion to ex-wife being a stay at home mom, perhaps it was the discussion about my PhD project. "You're directing the largest eye study in the history of Denmark and your strength as a physician is anything but administration and organisation" says SR with a sneaky smile. "I feel bad for you."

But I slept great and woke up to pancakes, which SR had made. As a husband, he's not half bad. But then he was off to a 3 day course to return on Friday night. And that's probably when it really began. Natali came up the stairs from outside while was in my see-through pajamas. "My bike isn't here! I forgot it at school yesterday." Well, isn't that nice, I thought. I had no time to drive her to school. She had to walk. Granted it is good for kids to walk, it is not cool to show up 20 minutes late to school. I imagined the teachers shaking their heads and picturing the evil step-mom.

Then, after a lunch time meeting, I had this sinking feeling. Tonight was the first night of swimming for both of the kids. The start of a new season. And I had forgotten to sign them up. I went to the website and every single class was booked. I started getting tears in my eyes. I remember to sign myself up for so many races and I forgot about my kids' most important after-school activity. I was desperately mad at myself. I knew SR would be so angry with me. What do I do when I get down on my mom skills? While most moms would clean or do something productive, I left work early (part of the joy of being the boss) and decided to go on an angry bike ride. But first I needed to download some new angry music, er I mean, the most poppy indierock I could find, of course. And then I needed to eat an angry pancake. I went on the windiest bike ride in the world. And got hit by the rear view mirror of a Vespa. I was so mad. My life sucks. I'm an idiot mom and my arm hurts. Then I ran to get the Lorax with the baby jogger. While biking and running, other moms might think of arts and crafts to do with their kids or what to make for dinner. I, on the other hand, made my tentative list of my top 10 favorite albums of all time.

By the time I got back, I felt better. I'd just take the kids to swimming anyway and see what happened. This is what SR would call a typical Sea Legs Girl move. Pretending I'm too clueless to be organized. I was leaving to pick up Natali when a nurse from my study called me desperately: "Are you coming to help? It's my first day and I can't log onto the computer." Oh no! I had marked my calendar wrong and forgotten I had a new employee working today. I had trained her, but certainly hadn't planned on leaving her completely alone on her first day. I drove quickly by and solved the computer problem and apologized for not being able to stick around as I had to take the kids to swimming. Er, that was, if they would be allowed to swim. Then step daughter called. "You're an hour late to pick me up!". "What? I thought we had said 4:30?" I said, already feeling terrible. Whenever there is a doubt, it is my fault. A rule of thumb in our family.

The kids and I arrived at the pool. The lessons involve me actually swimming at the same time and I somehow had to have the phone on me at the same time. I found a nice old man to guard the phone and tell me if it rang. Miraculously, no one said we didn't belong. When they took attendance on Natali's side of the pool, they actually called her name --- I HAD signed them up after all! Ahh. Life was good again. When I got out of the pool, the phone had of course rung numerous times. Why was it exactly I thought the 80 year old man would have normal hearing?

Natali then wanted burgers for dinner and it was half past 6. "Yes, burgers sound great" - I said, swallowing uncomforably. There aren't those preformed patties here and for me, forming cow beef into a patty is the equivalent of forming a hockey puck out of human muscle. Must come from 10 years of vegetarianism and a thorough course in gross anatomy. I went and got the beef with the Lorax and on the way home, my new nurse employee called and said there was a problem with the retinal camera. I went by with The Lorax and took about a half an hour figuring things out. Meanwhile, Natali was at home starving.

Like I said, I definitely am not cut out for this mom stuff.

I finally got home and formed those burger patties while throwing up in my mouth. And then did what any other good mom would do, let her two year old make his own toast and spread Nutella on it (since he was too hungry to wait for the burger).

And then let the kids eat burgers in front of the tv so there is time to blog.

Sunday 5 September 2010

The Best Danish Marathon: Skovløberen

Driving to the small town of Hvalså Kirke, it was hard not to notice it was a perfect day for a marathon. I could say there was not a cloud in the sky, but there was that one cirrus cloud. And the windmills that dot the countryside were barely moving. It was also nice and cool. There was only one thing missing and that was my life running partner, SR. He was working and not happy about it.

I arrived over an hour and a half early. I was worried I would have trouble finding it. But we have this little navigation GPS computer called a Tom Tom. I don't even know what the equivalent is in the US. When I arrived, I sprinted to the bathrooms. I had been terribly queasy all morning and had hoped I could, well, get the problem behind me before I started.

There was plenty of time to chat with people from our athletic club in Næstved, HGATM, and runners from Facebook Løbeklub. I wasn't nervous. I had very low expectations. I have not had time for a long run since Voyageur (a month and a half ago) and actually that was my ONLY real long run of the summer besides Naturmarathon. I simply have no time. My intervals are improving, but one can't improve a marathon time with intervals alone. So, if nothing else, it was finally time for a long training run.

I talked to a fellow lover of ultras, Britta Karlsson right before the start. She warned me how many hills there were and that the trails were technical. I had better not make my usual mistake of starting out too fast.

Here is the elevation change profile.

We had "group warmup" at 10 am to music. All the marathoners were kind of forced to dance in time and it was great. And then we started.

(I am the girl in dark pink, 15 seconds after the start and already checking her garmin)

7:45 pace was what I was trying to hold it to. That quickly became an average since after 1 km the hills were too steep to keep a steady pace going. There was a girl running with me who would sprint every time she saw I had caught up with her again. We kept running together, me feeling good in my skin that she probably hadn't run too many marathons before with that kind of technique. I was actually worried about her finishing. But then again, if you start out a marathon that quickly, you must have some reason for thinking you can run that fast. Anyway, after about 5 km, I pulled ahead of her for good. I could see I was 3rd woman.

My stomach started out feeling kind of bad, but more heart burn than anything. But then I realized I had more than heartburn to deal with. Luckily there were many options for hiding - log stacks, thicker areas of forest, bigger trees. By the time I was done, I could see that the wonderful curry dish from last night, made by my Malaysian sister in law, was the culprit. I felt really weak and every time I tried to pick up my pace again, my stomach hurt and I got nauseated. I was really glad I had run with my Camelbak, since staying hydrated would give me a shot a finishing.

The hills, views, lakes, farm fields just harvested, it was just amazing. I breathed in the air - this is Denmark, this is my home, I am happy.

My legs were sore by the time I reached the half marathon in 1:48. I didn't feel I had it in me to keep up the same pace. I worried I wouldn't make it under 4 hours. With 18 km to go, we were joined by the half marathoners. This actually had a good effect on me - despite it being hard to pass on the narrow paths.

If you would like to see pictures from the route here, taken by Lars Merrlald.

The second half is hillier than the first. Did I forget to mention that, unlike most other Danish long races, there is no running in circles here? Just a long, winding trail through a very large forest, which as far as I can tell, actually doesn't have a name.

But with about 10km to go, we did run over an important place, that does have name. And it was hard to get there. We ran over a long stretch of hills, which were completely unrunnable, at least to me, leading to Sjælland's highest point. Many readers are probably already aware that the most populous area of Denmak, including Copenhagen, is on the island of Sjælland. The point is 126 meters high and is called Guldenløvens Høj after a long-dead king's son. This point is clearly artificially made the highest point since there is like this enormous ant hill appearing hill on top of the real hill. We all were funneled over the stairs and tiny path over the ant hill. It was pretty cool.

So, back to the race. I was feeling a lot better now. I passed lots of half marathoners and even a couple marathon men and believed I was still in 3rd place. The last 8 km were really pretty and I kept beginning to cry. I can't completely understand why. Something having to do with it being a huge physical challenge and me being really wiped out and just the shear beauty of the course.

With 5k to go, I knew I'd make it under 4 hours and I was happy with that. I ran with a group of women who were about my age for about km through the beautiful woods looking out over the country side. It was a gorgeous view and the weather was still perfect - couldn't have been more than 18 degrees Celsius (64.4 degrees F to be exact). I pulled ahead of the ladies as we ran down into the town and then the tears really stared coming. I crossed the finish line in 3:54 something and was blubbering like some kind of baby. The babyish kind of baby, I guess. Everyone was looking at me, unsure of what to say.

I quickly wiped away the tears when they called my name to the podium to receive my 3rd place prize. Yay! I walked over and finally got to meet Lars Merrald, who I have gotten to know through blogging over the last half year.

(guess I'm still having some stomach problems)
He had won this race the last many years, but due to knee problems hadn't been able to train as well and came in in about 16th place. Training really does make a huge difference and we both had just experienced the negative effect of not being able to train. I went up to receive my flowers and a gift certificate when I was told that a woman who had been registered as a man was actually a woman. It was a mistake that was hard to contest. So I ended up with 4th, which is fine in itself, but did not include flowers or a gift certificate. I was kind of bummed. How had I not noticed a woman had passed me? The womans' winner was Helene Andersen in an impressive time of 3:35.

(that's the wooden finisher's medal between my legs, in case you were wondering)

Jakob, Lena and Johan among others invited me to a little Facebook Løbeklub after run gathering, but I had to go pick up the kids - plus I still felt kind of terrible and shell-shocked. I had a lot of trouble speaking Danish. I quickly got into the car and gave SR a call - actually we only speak Danish to each other, but we can always understand each other. He was too busy to chat. I couldn't wait to see the kids and have a nice drink of diet orange soda. It was about a 40 minute drive back to Copenhagen.

It was THE Danish marathon, at least of my year. I am glad I set the bar low for next year (in terms of my time) so I will be happy with my time when SR and I run it together next year.

Finally, I have to take a moment to congratulate Piccola Pinecone on a 4th place at the Monteal Marathon. I'm sure she'll write her story soon.

Running Song of the Day: Action/Reaction by Choir of Young Believers