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 25 April 2011

Chippewa 50k 2011 Race Report

Yesterday SR and I had the chance to run 50k in on the Chippewa Moraine recreation area, which includes part of the Ice Age Trail in Northern Wisconsin. (I say chance because it was pretty likely that I, now being 26 weeks pregnant, wouldn't be able to run the whole distance. But stay tuned.). This trail system, for those of you unfamiliar with Wisconsin, is just north of Chippewa Falls and in an area where there is a transition zone between the prairies of the Midwest and the coniferous forests of Canada.

Despite me clearly being out of the running for first, I still like eyeing up the men and women and trying to figure out who will win. We had already chatted with Helen Lavin Helen Lavin at our hotel that morning and she seemed like the clear candidate to win the womens' race. She has the female course record and has won the last three years. And then we saw Brian Peterson ,who looked both fit and had the race times to suggest he would win the men's race. But I was secretly hoping SR would surprise everyone and win the artistic rendition of a dissected fish, which was the men's first prize, created by Wynn Davis.

Having gotten up at 4 am, I had found time for a large breakfast and this made the beginning tough. It was also raining a little and cold, which made dressing appropriately a challenge. I had very fortunately received a bunch of awesome Reebok running clothing from Piccola Pinecone, which included the running jacket and pants I wore. Cool stuff. The funny thing was, though, that with the cute pink jacket on, no one could tell I was pregnant.

Which is strange, since it sure seems obvious in this picture from a few hours before the race.

Actually, Ross saw me quickly switch my shirt underneath by the start, revealing my belly, and said "Hey, Sea Legs Girl! I read your blog. I recognize your bump!" He he. I then forgot to even say what my real name was. So he must still think my first name is Sea.

Here is a picture from the rainy, chilly start. You can see Brian Peterson, Helen Lavin and the girl in black all the way to the right was running her first ultra and in Vibrams. Edit: I learned from her comment that she made it to mile 19.5 before her foot was injured. She will certainly be back racing and doing great since she clearly has the right chearful attitude.

After the first mile, I was all the way at the back of the pack, out of breath and feleling crappy. Needless to say, I didn't start out too fast like the rest of the field probably did. Once we got onto nice single track trails in the forest, though, I was in my element. I took it easy, but for nearly the entire first half, I was on track to tie my time from 2008. The was, however a year where the trails were covered with 6 inches of snow. So it made sense my time would be similar. I passed more and more people, which was such a confidence booster.

I should add that this is perhaps the most technical trail race in the Midwest (oops - Helen reminded me of The Superior Hiking Trail races, which I've heard are technical to the extreme). It is not that there is anything completely unrunnable, but you are almost never running on flat land. And the hills are not tiny. Besides this, the trails are very thin and covered with rocks and roots or mud the entire way.

The race is out and back, so that meant I got to see the men's and women's leaders on the way back. And it was very tight in both groups. An unknown woman, who turned out to be Christie Nowak, was in the lead and Helen was actually in 4th, but pretty close behind. The men's race was being led by Brian Peterson, by a narrow margin, and SR was in 6th, but right behind 2nd to 5th. It was a amazing how fast both fields were. I forgot to mention that there were 160 runners, which is a lot for a race on a single track.

Right before the half way point, at around 15 miles, I began thinking my race was over. I started having palpitations. Not just once in a while, but we're talking every other heartbeat and I had a lot of trouble breathing and was afraid I would faint. When I arrived at the aid station, I saw Karen S., who had amazingly been at three aid stations so far. She was a beacon of happiness. I told the workers that I was having palpitations and wondered if they had any electrolyte caps. They rummaged through John Storkamp's drop bag and gave me six (thanks, John!), of which I took two. They reprimanded me for not having taken any so far. I ate and drank a bit and then I was off again. Incredibly, the palpitations were gone and I was back to passing people. I will have to remember to take one or two of those caps when I get palpitations outside of a race.

Then it was just a question of what it was going to be that stopped me from running and, when I did stop, how I would get back to the finish. I know it's a pessimistic attitude, but 31 miles seemed too long in many ways. I was just amazed both my foot and hip weren't giving me problems. Oh and I forgot to mention I had put on the support belt on at the half way point, which was a complete waste and totally irritating. All it did was rub my upper back. It didn't support a thing. And trust me, I readjusted it like 10 times, it wasn't that. I gave it to a spectator, who was heading back to the start.

I put on my music and was still feeling pretty good and had the goal of making it to a marathon. But then, at 18 miles, the contractions started. First mild, but then so painful that I had to take running breaks. By the time they got really strong, at 20 miles, there were two miles form the next aid station. I could run in spurts in the beginning, but then had to just walk. I started getting very cold and my left leg and foot started cramping up. There was absolutely no way to run and walking was very uncomfortable. I talked to people passing me and enjoyed the scenery and my music.

Finally the 22 mile aid station arrived after 5 hours and 15 minutes of being out on the course. The previous director (Rollie?) of the Voyageur trail race was there and took me back to the start. And that was just how the whole day was, aid stations workers and fellow runners willing to help anyone at the drop of a hat.

SR had apparently completed the course exactly an hour before I dropped, in just under 4:15. This was good enough to come in fourth for the men, right in front of fifth and sixth and just behind second and third. The race was won and possibly a course record set (it's down to the second) by Brian Peterson in 3:59.

The women's race was won by Christie Nowak, a cross country skiier from UMD, running her first ultra, in the amazing time of 4:45. Helen came in third in around 5 hours. She was pleased and always has such a good attitude. She said she hasn't trained much at all in six months. Plus she hasn't had time for her Bikram Yoga, and some of you may recall, that is the real secret to her success. Maybe.

There really isn't too much to say about my race. If I had been running ultras since the beginning of the pregnancy, maybe I would have made it further before Braxton Hicks contractions set in, but I'm not sure. I also think part of it was I was having trouble eating or drinking during the race because it just seemed there was no room in my stomach. Dehydration probably brought the contractions on sooner than later. But running for such a long time on such a technical course at 26 weeks is nothing to be ashamed of and, importantly it was really fun until the last couple of miles. PLUS, I'm still not injured! I'm still a pregnant runner and the baby is doing fine. So there was a happy, albeit unimpressive, ending to the attempt at the pregnant ultra.

SR was really pleased with his race and even hinted that he had wished it had been a fifty miler so he could have done better. Hmmm. Gotta admit I'm dreaming of fifty milers, too. Right now, it may not even be in my cards to run a marathon, but I know I'll be back out there in a matter of months competing seriously in 50 milers. For a little while yet, it's a matter of obeying my ever growing, ever changing body, and enjoying that, too.

Here are SR and I on a little hike by Mirror Lake in Wisconsin Dells on the way back to my parents' Easter Morning.

And The Lorax organizing his treasures from our Easter Egg Hunt.

Saturday 23 April 2011

Chippewa 50 k - the morning of

It is rare I am up in time to write a blog post the morning before a race, but that is what jet lag will do to you. I slept from 8 to 4 and am feeling really ready to tackle the trails of the Chippewa Moraine. SR is sleeping and I am sitting in the Bloomer Inn lobby drinking coffee from Kwik Trip. And I just finished a peanut butter and chocolate rice krispie treat - only slightly less satisfying than the pecan carmel cream cheese pie last night.

I have no particular expectations for today. It is a really nice feeling to have before an ultra. I think this pregnancy will make me learn more about how to run in the future. Really, every race should be like this: going out and enjoying the day, seeing how fast and how much you feel like running simply according to how you feel. It takes a lot of pressure off.

And if I don't finish all 50k today, it' not for lack of gear. I finally caved and bought compression socks. The CEP brand, since if you recall from my post about compression socks, they're the only ones that have some amount of evidence proving they work. So far it has been a good decision because the pitting edema that had been around my ankles for weeks now has disappeared. There is probably no time of life that one could get greater benefit out of those stockings when running than when pregnant.

And I bought a prengancy support belt. I went out running for about 15 minutes with it and noticed absolutely no difference, but I've decided to run with it anyway.

I promise to take pictures and give a full report after the race. Happy Easter weekend, everyone!

Sunday 17 April 2011

Brøderup Half Marathon - 25 weeks pregnant

Yes, I finally showed up at a race I had on the blog calendar: Brøderup Half Marathon (as you learned from the title). And, boy, aren't races fun? But if you're only here to find out - "how fast can she really run 25 weeks pregnant?", you might as well browse away. This was a technical, hilly race mostly in the woods. Gorgeous? Yes. Fast course? Well, not exactly.

I decided to run this race for a few reasons: 1. it's in a part of Denmark I've never seen, though only a 25 minute drive from where we live. 2. I am going a little stir crazy with my entire family in the US since Wednesday (I had to stay behind due to work) 3. It is put on by The Mogenstrup Athletic Club and they have a way of finding routes that actually require trail running shoes.

Here is some Danish artwork by a church in Snesere, on the way to the race. Sometimes I feel like such a tourist.

Beautiful day, huh? Did I mention the race started at 11?

When I arrived in Tappernøje, I didn't really know anyone. I recognized some people, but felt extremely awkward. Danes have this way of staring at people, like a 3 year old might, and continuing to stare without saying why they are staring or giving any indication if their thoughts are positive or negative. Yes, being now visibly quite pregnant, I felt like a cow on display in this provincial area of Denmark. I just wasn't sure if I was a prize cow or a mutant cow. But who cares? This cow was going to enjoy the race.

Finally two of my friends showed up. One of them, Charlotte, who had won the race for the women last year in a time of 1:46 (if that gives you any idea of how hard the route is - it's not a tiny race). It surprised me how concerned she was that I was going to run "an entire" half marathon pregnant. "Are you sure you should do this????". I told her about the 50k next weekend...

Here is a map of the route. The green areas are woods, so it wasn't on trails the entire time. I do tend to exaggerate, you know.

And here is the elevation profile. Glad I didn't look at this beforehand because I would have spent the race dreading that last uphill.

Picture of the race start by Jonas Christensen

The race started out okay. Actually, I felt kind of crappy. The first 7 or so km were mostly on roads and my calves really hurt when I run on roads in my minimalist trails shoes. Poor me. I figured under 2 hours was unlikely at the beginning - maybe if it were all flat. And then when I came through the first half of the race in just over an hour, I knew under two hours was out of the question.

But, then the trails came. Beautiful. And the weather and the air. Yes!! I started booking it and passing people. I had this recurring thought that what I was doing was nothing compared to O-Lan in The Good Earth. She went out and worked the fields all afternoon the day she had given birth! I may like to run, but don't ask me to farm on post-partum day 0!

We climbed a gigantic hill that no one ran the whole way up and then there was the view of the ocean! This was a runner's high. And I ran on, enjoying the sun and wind at my back - at a 7 min per mile pace. Heaven! With about 5 miles to go, we actually had to run through a river. Everyone had this idea that they couldn't get their shoes wet, but I ran right through- I know better. But then came fatigue and dizziness. Still no contractions, but I felt really faint and had to slow down. No point in risking anything. Thankfully an aid station with a charming older woman serving sports drink appeared at the edge of the woods. I had two large cups and foraged ahead. Now was the time for the uphill. And, damn, it was into the wind. And little contractions started. The last two miles were not the most fun, but I made it in under two hours!! 1:57:14.

Here was the finish line:

I have never been so proud of such a slow time ;). I think I might have even been in the top 5 females (EDIT: well, turns out I was 8/22- and I don't find that shameful at all) What an awesome race. And here I am. The guy who took the picture made me hold up my diploma - I'm not trying to cover the belly. Isn't that a peaceful pavillion behind me? Though a pavillion just ins't the same without SR there to enjoy it with me.This is my crappy, blurry picture of an oceanic bay by Tappernøje. And this picture was too Danish not to include: farm, blonde boy, little car, Danish flag, etc. I don't know if this will work, but here are all of my race details from my Garmin. It's actually not that easy to identify the three stops to pee. Overall pace was 8:53 min/mile.

Unavngivet af lilybriscoe på Garmin Connect - Detaljer

Running Song of the day: Accused of Stealing by the Delgados. (awesome, awesome song which I love as much now as I did in college)

And one more song; a brand new one - Lament by Mount Moriah (I think you will love it the first time you hear it!)

Thursday 14 April 2011

Sugar and artificial sugar: are they poisonous?

Yesterday some of you may have noticed an article about sugar potentially being a poison in The New York Times. So why is it, you might ask, that I get to write an editorial about it? Because it's my blog and I must be one of the only people in the world who is actually angered by this article. And WHY am I angry, you ask. Because sure, sugar is not the healthiest thing one can eat, but implicating that is a "poison" responsible for the obesity-related health problems in the US is ignoring the real issue.

Educated people in the US (and Denmark), (aka, those people who like what white people like, yeah yeah I've been know to be guilty of this, too) love blaming problems on dietary imbalances and finding fads to turn life around. This will anger over half of my readers, but I am thinking along the lines of the paleo diet and gluten intolerance.

Bare with me (edit: SR just pointed it, I should only use "bare" with me when talking to him and otherwise it's the animal, "bear". It always confuses me!). Sugar is not a poison. But when people sit around all day without exercise and eat foods with added sugar or, even worse, high fructose corn syrup, they get fat and thus develop health problems. No one is denying that. But the real problem is life-style. Sugar is just not very filling, so when people eat it, they tend to simply want to eat more because they don't get full and the problem is exacerbated. But let's take someone who exercises. For example, SR. He has exercise as a part of his daily routine, plus when he works out, it is fairly intense. He eats sugar (candy) constantly! It disgusts me since I know it would make me feel like crap, but will he develop diabetes or heart disease from it? No. Because both exercise and our muscles (yes our muscles are also glands!) keep our blood sugar regulation so amazingly finely tuned that eating a lot of sugar really has no effect other than making you feel kind of tired and crappy. Contrast this with smoking, which truly is toxic at the cellular level. Sugar is simply not toxic. But it can make you fat.

There are people out there who try to blame our society's health problems on fructose (The Healthy Skeptic comes to mind, who I have had angry words with on a few occassions). This is turn leads educated people to do things like not eat fruit because it has fructose in it and thus feel themselves superior to others. Well, guess what? Fruit is healthy! And then bread. Poor bread. There is nothing wrong with bread as long as it is eaten as part of a balanced diet and as long as one is physically active.

I am so frightened of what will happen to Natti and The Lorax and Finnbjørn when we move to the US. They will be forced into that sedentary American lifestyle and suffer for it. I have already told SR my plan of the morning boot camp where the kids and I go out running an hour before school just so they can survive America.

Scientists, educated people, health care workers, I appeal to you, stop blaming sugar and bread for health problems in our society and take a look at the bigger problem which is the sedentary lifestyle. Get off of your high paleolithic horses and get real.

Paleolithic Horse at the Caves of Lascaux.

Ahhh. That felt good.

Edit: As long as we're talking about all things Paleolithic: what is the big difference between now and the Paleolithic Era? The size of the human population. The total population now (6.91 billion) is approximately 1,382 times what it was during the Paleolithic era (5 million)! And why is that? The farming of grains! Yay grain. Does anyone who adheres to The Paleolithic Diet honestly believe it is sustainable at a worldwide level??? No way! It is a HUGE use of resources for people in developed countries to eat Paleolithically. Shouldn't a diet both be healhty and sustainable?

Now, onto diet soda. Or should I call it artificial sweeteners? What I want to talk about is a study that was in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition last June. It was a large Danish study that was actually very well-written. It found that the more diet soda a woman drank, the more likely she was to give birth prematurely. In fact, if a woman drank 4 or more diet sodas a day, her odds of premature birth was increased by 1.86. This is more than if a woman smokes. Amazing, really. And scary for a mom-to-be who likes diet soda. Plus this is just the kind of study the media would L-O-V-E. But what is the catch? Why do I even mention this? Because they played with their data to get a significant result. And if one considers how a study like this could play with a pregnant woman's psyche, it is sickening that the authors would do this to get published. But, as a researcher myself, I know how tempting rationalizations can be, and I am hesitant to blame them, per se. But here were the ingredients of their "fudge":

1. They reported their results in odds ratios rather than relative risk. When looking a prospective cohort, one should report in relative risk unless the expected outcome is exceedingly rare. There is around a 12% chance of premature birth in the developed world, which is not exceedingly rare, so they obviously did this to make their results significant.

2. They broke their analyses up into subgroups when the results weren't significant in the large group: They considered diet soda and other diet beverages two separate things even though they mostly are both sweetened with aspartame. They only did this because all artificially sweetened beverages taken together did not have an effect on premature birth.

3. Just like in the case of sugar, they do not fully address the real problem - socioeconomic class. If there is one meaningful risk factor that has been found for premature birth, it is that. Take a look at this graph, bearing in mind that there is NO increased risk for premature birth in Africa compared with the US (ie it is not genetic).

This is a graph from the CDC. It shows percentage of "late" premature births by race and that is why the "all births" line is only just over 6% and not the 12%, which I quoted above for all premature births.

The New England Journal's review article on "the enigma" of premature birth summed it up best: "Numerous epidemiologic studies have shown the association of poverty, limited maternal education, young maternal age, unmarried status, and inadequate prenatal care with increased risk of preterm birth and low birth weight."

And women who drink more than four glasses of diet soda a day had exactly these characteristics, when they broke down their data, though they failed to control for everything associated with low socioeconomic class and how could they? They have thus not proven causation between diet soda and premature birth (and couldn't with this study design anyway), but have simply shown that drinking excess diet soda goes along with low socioeconomic class, at least in Denmark. Maybe there is something toxic in aspartame, but if there is it is VERY mildly toxic, as they had a huge study and were unable to show a link with all groups of aspartame-sweetened drinks taken together. If anything, they have proven that aspartame is, in fact, not very toxic.

What about me personally? Well, funny thing is, just because of how they taste and make me feel, I've cut down a lot on both refined sugar and artificially sweetened products since getting pregnant. And I have to admit I feel better for it. But when considering the of effects sugar, I am simply saying: be realistic and ---take it with a grain of salt!

Running song of the day: An oldie but a goodie: Cigarettes and Red Vines by Aimee Mann (you tell me which one is the toxin)

Tuesday 12 April 2011

24 weeks: The garbage nest swan and me

It is good that most women find a mate before they get pregnant and not vice versa. Let's just say I don't feel I have a lot going for me right now. First of all, I cough all night (there must be something about being pregnant that makes one cough). And as if that weren't annoying enough, I wet my pants a little, or more than a little, every time I cough. I have pitting edema in my ankles. And my left eye is perpetually red and swollen (this is particularly fun for someone working in ophthalmology).

Then there is my psychiatric state. I can go from saying "I've never been so happy in my life!" to seconds later screaming and crying because I can't take Shakira singing "wakawaka" one more time. I also can't keep track of what I'm doing. The other day, I went to Copenhagen to use a specific statistics program and then forgot to save the work. I then actually got the program onto my computer and, when I turned the assignment for our statistics class, I realized I had forgotten half of it in the printer. This morning I truly left our apartment without shoes on. It was not for a barefoot run, and it was raining outside. I did make the right decision to go back and get my shoes.

My chances of advancing my career are minuscule right now. Rather than learning statistics in the class I'm in now, I sit and study the large map of Europe on the wall, trying to determine in which body of water I would most like to swim naked. I have the opportunity to start some really interesting studies at the moment, but half of my time is spent simply trying to remember what I need to do or doing something again, which I did wrong the first time. Seriously, people.

I read in my Danish pregnancy book that some women feel they get clumsy and absent-minded while pregnant. They then state "this can most likely be alone attributed to increased swelling in women's hands, which makes them drop things." .... right... Allow me to nominate this as the worst hypothesis of the year.

But thank heavens I still have running and exercise, my main sources of self-esteem. What would I do without them? I spend a lot of time talking about how healthy exercise in pregnancy is. But now, when I get asked (as I do frequently at this point) "Are you sure that's safe???", rather than gathering my resources and starting to explain how it actually is healthy, I get the urge to strangle the person and say "don't try to tell me it's unhealthy. I NEED it!" How do women who don't run or exercise SURVIVE pregnancy?

Last weekend was filled with moments of heaven on earth. On Saturday, SR and I went for a run - two times around two lakes on trails, as I call the route around Bagsværd and Lyngby lakes. Two months ago this took me 2:45 minutes, on Saturday, it took just three minutes longer! I have to say, at 24 weeks, exercise is not much harder than it was at the very beginning. On Sunday, I rode my road bike an hour to the pool, swam for 50 minutes and then ran 1.5 hours home through the woods. No part of it was much slower than at the beginning of pregnancy. I am simply writing this so I remember it. These are the moments where I shine.

I left my statistics class early today to run in the cold rain. On days like this, there are not that many people running, even around the lakes in central Copenhagen. And I had a moment to observe the swan I love, who makes her nest out of trash. She takes a lot of grass, but also plastic bags and bottles and strings and other odds and ends to make her enormous nest. I looked carefully today and, sure enough, she's got an egg in there.

I get a lot of comfort out of this swan. She is filled with this desire to make a nest and does it in such a crazy and yet adamant way. No one understands her and yet she is sure she is preparing correctly for the new little swan. Yet, does she even know the new little one is coming?

So pregnancy, a time of hyper vigilance, misdirection and distraction. How can these be turned into anything beneficial? Is there a reason, evolutionarily, we feel this way? Well, my theory is, we are simply building up love for the baby (my alternative hypothesis is simply brain swelling). A loving mother is simply so important for a baby's survival. But can all of this extra energy be used towards anything good here and now? One sure thing is that I suddenly have even more love to give The Lorax. It is not unheard of for me to simply watch him fall asleep and then burst into tears because I will never, ever, ever be able to communicate to him how much I love him. It is TOO much!!

Some women use this energy to paint rooms or buy baby clothing. This is all fine and well, but it is absolutely not me. I guess I choose to focus a lot on diet and exercise because, well, these are really two of the only things I know of that actually improve birth outcomes. So at least I feel I'm doing something. (Drs. Cythia and David pointed out that exercise in pregnancy decreases the risk of pre-ecclampsia: yes this is true! I was at a lecture a couple months ago with one of the world's leading pre-ecclampsia experts and she just could NOT say enough about the benefits of exercise while pregnant.) Plus, what a great way to get in shape (as I've mentioned before). If you've got all of this energy and unrest that you just can't seem to direct, well, exercise seems like a good option.

I actually found a picture of my swan on the internet, but I just don't think it does her justice, so she will have to remain as she is in your imagination.

Instead, I will leave you with a picture of SR trying desperately to escape his crazy wife.

And now that I have made fun of Shakira, I need to leave you with some music from three different countries.

The first is a video that made me cry both times I watched it (but remember, you're getting this from an emotional pregnant chick). It is from Holland and the girl's face reminds me so much of Diana (who lives in Holland) but I just don't think it's her. Diana, you're not a circus gymnast, are you?

Bart Constant - "Do Better" (with Dustin O'Halloran) from Kimmo Films on Vimeo.

Second, my absolute favorite running or biking song right now from Sweden. Short translation of the chorus "I'm coming, I'm coming, I'm coming, I'm coming. I'm almost there!" (you decide for yourself whether or not the song is sexual...)

Third. The Spanish language in all of it's beauty, from Barcelona. This is one song which really benefits from being as long as it is. Horas Tristes by Mueran Humanos Video here: (totally scary picture on their album cover- beware!)

Thursday 7 April 2011

Visit to the ER

It is amazing how a day can go from uneventful to the exact opposite in less than a second. I simply unplugged our computer from our converter (it's an American computer) and got a painful shock to the right hand. This is normally not the kind of thing a person would think twice about. But it bothered me. What would happen if I got a shock like that while sitting in the bathtub? Would I get burned? Would my heart stop? Well, if the shock went through the uterus, the baby IS essentially in a bathtub. I thought about going immediately to the ER because, well, if it's heart had stopped, something needed to be done immediately. But I told myself that I was a total paranoid hypochondriac. I ran to the train with my computer in backpack, made a phone call, got on the train and then started reading an article about electric shock on the internet. This one:

From household voltages of 110 to 220 alternating current, they found a 71% death rate among the fetuses. Most immediate. Others up to three days later. Oh my GOD. I hadn't felt the baby move since the shock. I screamed in my seat on the train. People started looking at me. I ran into the bathroom and started screaming and crying, not knowing what to do. I called SR and he didn't answer. So I called the Danish equivalent of 911, which is 112. They told me to find the train conductor and get him to stop the train. But even in my panicked state, I was not about to have the train conductor stop in the middle of the woods. "Just tell me if it's dangerous or not!!!!" I replied. He got a nurse on the line, who told me to get off the train at the next stop and go to the ER. I had to wait a few minutes for the next stop. SR called back. He told me I was crazy to worry and that he had to go to a meeting. So who was right? I sat down in total agony. And then I thought I felt the baby kick. Oh yes! Yes! But I got off the train anyway and headed to the ER, feeling more than a little reassured.

At the ER they thought I was bat shit crazy. And I would have thought the same thing about me just an hour earlier. But why didn't they know about the dangers? Or what was with that internet website? They did all kinds of monitoring of me and I was like "I am NOT worried about me. I am worried about the baby. Can't I just get a doppler?" I lay there completely bare-chested with ginormous preggo boobs (everything is relative) getting an ekg when the doctor walked in. He smiled and introduced himself and asked if I was SR's wife. They were apparently med school buddies and he was apparently unoffended by my shirtlessness. I told him about my concerns and then he said "Well, I looked it up and found a Danish midwife who had written on an internet forum that there is nothing to worry about."

Is this what modern medicine has come to? Doctor 1 comes to the ER scared by an article on the internet only to have Doctor 2 tell her not to be frightened because he had read something else on the internet? (Anyone starting to understand why I doubt doctors so much?)

I was taken up to the obstetrical department where they once again thought I was bat shit crazy. I had felt the baby move many times by now but just wanted someone knowledgeable to talk to. Well, this wasn't meant to be. I got a doppler from an obstetrical nurse and everything sounded fine. I aksed her if she could at least confer with an obsterician and long as I was there and she did. But I didn't get any sort of an answer other than everything would be okay.

Maybe most other women would have been satisfied. But I had read reports of badly burned babies dying days or weeks later and couldn't let it rest. I mean, at least my understanding from physics was that current in through the hand has to be grounded somewhere and the easiest way to the ground is through the foot (am I wrong?)- and thus through the baby in the little amniotic bathtub on the way.

But remember - negative outcomes are the ones that get published. And women who just get a shock and forget about it never get written about. Yet, I wouldn't blame you for still being worried.

But I am not going to leave you (or myself) in a state of doubt. I found a good study. A study in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology where they looked at 32 random women who had received shocks from household appliances and other much higher electric voltages and called for advice. Out of the 32, there were two spontaneous abortions, one which was proven to be unrelated and the other one was unlikely to be related. Otherwise all babies survived unaffected.

Accidental electric shock in pregnancy: a prospective cohort study.Einarson A - Am J Obstet Gynecol - 01-MAR-1997; 176(3): 678-81 Their bottom line was "in the typical home scenario ... hand-to-hand electric shock does not pose a major fetal risk."

Thanks to Adrienne Einarson, the author of the study above, this story has a happy ending. But I'm not about to go playing with that converter again while pregnant.

Sunday 3 April 2011

Run at Whale Lake Church

We are pretty sure there are not any whales in the lakes of Denmark. But we really did run at a place known as Whale Lake Church today. We had planned, in our sort of way of planning, to run the Sydkystmaraton today, but then SR got angry about paying the entry fee. I had actually gotten free entry from Henriette. But paying about $50 bucks for SR's entry fee, for a race mosly on asfalt, wasn't really that appealing to me either. And I have had a bad cold and sore throat over the past week, so I didn't feel like waking up super early or exerting my immune system. Plus, I have begun to have problems with plantar fasciitits again and hard surfaces are the absolute worst. So instead, we went to my favorite place to run in Denmark: Hvalsø Kirke (yes, Whale Lake Church). It is the hilliest place on our island and has a huge area of forest, and is also the place Skovløberen, my favorite Danish marathon, is run. We had set out to run a marathon, but even with the opportunity to run 4 1/2 hours, we didn't quite do that (it did, after all, take me four hours to run a marathon here non-pregnant and in a race). We ran only 23. But somehow it seemed fitting and celebratory to run 23 miles now that I am 23 weeks pregnant. Plus, it was stress-free, my cold is now gone and my plantar fasciitis is only slightly worse.

We ran together the entire time. I think we are at our best and most in love on days like this. Of course, when we get hypoglycemic, we get mean quickly, but that only happend once today. (Danni calls this phenomenon "hangry" by the way, which is great)

At about 18 miles, I started having Braxton Hicks contractions. I really didn't know what it was at first and thought I really had to pee, but no pee came out. I got worried. But then I realized that the pain kept coming and going and went away if I stopped running. And once I realized this, ironically, I wasn't afraid to run anymore. Because one knows it's Braxton Hicks if it goes away when one stops the exertion. Okay, but despite the fact I knew it wasn't dangerous, it wasn't comfortable either. I would describe it as going from feeling normal to feeling as if there is a big bowling ball pressing on your bladder and pelvis. I actually first experienced Braxton Hicks my last pregnancy after I had my running injury, while I was spinning, so I don't remember what they felt like running. Any of you readers have experience with them while running?

I'm not sure how I feel about running all of Chippewa in 3 weeks. 50k seems longer to me today than it did yesterday. And the terrain we ran on today was similar to the Chippewa terrain. It is not that I am worried about running it slowly, I just don't like the idea of running 12 miles or more with contractions. So, of course, I'll just run as much as I'm comfortable with. Chippewa is, after all, in such a beautiful area that just getting the chance to run there - even part of the distance - is something to look forward to. Plus, I know SR has a chance of winning. He is uninjured, light and has had some good long runs, though he adamantly denies being in good shape right now.

I didn't even listen to enough music to have a running song of the day. So instead, you're all stuck with captioned pictures.

Photo of the artist as a young man

23 weeks pregnant - after 23 miles run

The sexiest husband to ever stand on a rock with a Chippewa 50k shirt on, looking for whales in a fresh-water lake