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 30 October 2011

Naughty Thoughts

Now that we are back in Denmark and I no longer have the luxury of day care for Mattias or my mom to help, I have reverted to old ways of thinking:

"The easiest way to become a faster runner in the next 7 weeks may be simply to lose weight"

Running for two hours a day every day with a baby jogger at a slow pace is just not going to get me into better shape. So what about a crash diet?

As of this morning I'm 52.2 kg. I'm actually happy with that. If I go much lower, I'll be the annoying skinny woman who always has to wear a sweatshirt while working out slowly on the elliptical. Once you get to the point you can fit your thigh in an "ok" hand sign, you'll no longer be able to run an ultra (I guess I'm pretty far form that).

This weekend I was alone with the two kids. And I caved: I got a babysitter. I guess I have resolved that it's better to spend money and get an intense workout than to rely on anorexia to get faster. Here was the agenda for the morning:

-run to gym (1 mile)
-spinning for one hour (35 minutes over 80% max pulse. Hear me out: spinning in the US does not hold a candle to spinning in Denmark. You make yourself sick with exhaustion here simply because your pulse is being continually monitored and is on display in front of the room for everyone to see, so once you start lagging, everyone knows - and 35 minutes over 80%, at times over 90%, max pulse is NOT easy! I say this so you know how totally hard core I am.)

-I then attempted to simulate a sprint triathlon transition by changing my shoes and jumping on a treadmill (this WAS interrupted by cleaning my bike off). I ran a 1km warm-up (that was dumb in retrospect, if I were trying to simulate a triathlon) and then forced out a 5k in 22:14. Holy cow. It was great. I could hardly move. But I had a little time before
-CX works, so I hopped on the stair climber and then went to the class.

A killer wokout with 30 minutes of core afterwards. Much better than sitting around trying not to eat.

For those of you hoping for other sorts of naughty thoughts: don't worry, I have those, too.

Remember my love for Andy Schleck? Well, after seeing this picture, I felt a little, well, betrayed...

And Enrique Iglesias hasn't made any new songs lately.

So while I was running the 5k on the mill, I fell for a figure skater: Adam Rippon.

The fact that he missed a few landings at the ISU championships in Canada today made me like him all the more. (let's ignore the fact he must be half my age)

See SR, this is what your weekends on call do to me!

And it is a good thing I have a soft spot for boys who like girls. Yesterday, a woman came up to The Lorax, Mattias and me and said "what a cute baby! And that must be her older sister!" Oh, my. Where to begin? Nevermind the fact Mattias was in blue and The Lorax in Spiderman. The thing is, this is not the first but the 10th time it has happened and soon The Lorax will be embarrassed.

You judge for yourselves. They look like boys to me. (taken 10 minutes ago)

Okay, so maybe it is time to make an appointment for a haircut.

I've owed you a song for a long time. I have no new running songs. But I like this song (it's nice):
Diamond Heart by Active Child

Monday 24 October 2011

Treadmill PR

Sometimes I guess you need to kick energy and happiness back into yourself! I woke up with a cold and cough and am boarding a 9 hour transatlantic flight tonight with two little boys. I've had a workout routine this past week where I run 16.5 miles every other day in Lapham Peak segment of the Ice Age Trail and on the other days cross train, but also run a fast 5k on the treadmill at the YMCA. I didn't think I had it in me to run it fast today, but boy am I glad I did. After an hour run + CX works (great core class! wow.), I ran a 20:46 5k (3.1 miles) on the treadmill and basically fell over with exhaustion afterwards, but my cold is gone. Now I'm ready for the flight. (I guess I should specify - it's just a PR for the treadmill and not an overall PR, but maybe that was obvious).

I am really going to miss the luxury of having day care at the Y.

As an aside, I've decided this persona exists at every workout center worldwide: cachectic female who spends hours on end on elliptical/stair stepper, not working up a sweat but leafing through a magazine, wearing a heavy sweatshirt. Anyone else spotted her?

Question of the day: how is hegemony pronounced? I heard someone say it on the radio in a way that rhymed with rice a roni. I always thought it was heGEMmany

Here are some pictures I took yesterday of the aforementioned Lapham Peak section of the Ice Age Trail. I may just look back on these longingly from Denmark.

Sunday 23 October 2011

I'm too old for this

That is what SR said to me as he was about to board the SAS flight back to Copenhagen. I couldn't have said it better myself. Not that he was too old. But that we can't keep dividing our life between two continents.

I'm still in Wisconsin with the two boys. We're going back to Denmark on Tuesday. And then we'll all be returning to Wisconsin once again this winter.

Since I have been in the US I have had this at times overwhelming feeling of panic that, yes, I am getting old. When I left for Europe three years ago, I was the energetic, optimistic, new-baked 20-something mom and now I am a 30-something mother of two. Wisconsin is the same, basically (other than people are ever worse at "good" and "well" and I even heard the word "weller"), but we have changed.

When you are feeling like I am feeling, it is probably not a good idea to read a biography of the Brontë family. Five of the six children died before they reached my age: 32. Only Charlotte lived to 38. They died of "consumption" (tuberculosis, of course - which turns out wasn't very accurately named as it is not the mycobateria that consumed, but our body's response to them that does the damage). Granted, they lived in the first half of the 19th century and times were different. But by the time Emily died at age 30, she had already written Wuthering Heights. And what have I done?

So that was the other odd part about our trip back: what are we going to "do with our lives" if/when we did move permanently to the US? SR was not as enthralled with working in the ER as he had previously been and is hoping to get a job as a Hematologist. But since he did his fellowship in Denmark and not in the US, it may be more difficult than we thought for him to work in the US. This is because unless you do your fellowship here, you can't take the boards and if you can't take the boards, well, at least some hospitals don't accept this.

And then I was waxing poetic and saying that I wanted to be a sports medicine journalist on the side, whatever I did. This suddenly gave SR the idea "you should do a residency in Physical Medicine & Rehab in Wisconsin or Minnesota". And we pondered this on one of our three hour drives from La Crosse to Hartland.

Odd that the next morning I read that the University of Minnesota had just a week earlier posted they would soon have an open position in PM&R for a physician who had done a Transitional Residency. So basically, there couldn't be that many people who could apply, but this described me perfectly. I wrote to the program secretary asking about the start date, not having any idea how I would manage a PhD and residency plus two kids at once. Turns out the start date was January, which I could not manage, so residency will wait a little longer. But SR probably has a point that PM & R would be a good fit for me.

The truth is, a life in two countries is more taxing than we had ever imagined, and nothing sounds better at this point than a home with routines and all the other normal things we may have once tried to avoid. (but don't send me emails with houses you are trying to sell! - trust me we've gotten enough in the last couple of weeks).

Here I am singing with the boys. I think I've owed you all a picture for a long time.

Thursday 13 October 2011

Running a marathon pregnant: Is it safe??

(This is probably not what you expected to read...)

Amber Miller's completion of the Chicago Marathon 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant has changed the world of women's running. Now runners and non runners alike know it is possible for a pregnant woman to run a marathon.

Was her doctor right to let her do it? Well, there has thus far been no evidence that running a marathon pregnant is dangerous for the mother or baby. The evidence is only anecdotal, though. There is however a lot of evidence that "moderate" running is both safe and healthy (and may even produce calmer, healthier, more coordinated and smarter kids... but Klapp's studies were small).

I ran 6 marathons during my most recent pregnancy. Almost every reader here probably thinks I am a biased proponent of running marathons and am going to try to convince you that there are no dangers. But that is actually not the case.

The fact that Amber's marathon appeared to induce her labor brings up a lot of concerns. Had she run the marathon at, say, 34 weeks, would it also have induced labor? Is there enough anecdotal evidence to say no?

She was already far enough along in her pregnancy that the baby could be born without any of the risks of prematurity. But what if she hadn't been so far along?

The last marathon I ran while pregnant was at 30 weeks and was the Copenhagen Marathon. I ran it in 4:54, which didn't seem that fast at the time, but in retrospect was probably too fast and more than my body could tolerate. I felt fine the night after, but the following week, I felt unwell, extremely fatigued and merely walking was enough to induce Braxton Hicks. Two weeks after, I was better again. But WAS I close to inducing premature labor? Was my water close to breaking? I do not know. There is simply not enough evidence.

The 5 pregnant marathons I had run prior to this did not take nearly the same toll on me. Perhaps not unimportantly, they were all run in very small races.

What would my advice as a physician be to women who want to run a marathon pregnant? Well, if they feel they are up to it, I would say it is safe, if their pregnancy was uncomplicated and they were healthy, experienced runners. HOWEVER, I would strongly encourage women who are beyond 26 or 27 weeks to avoid large city marathons and simply run the marathon in a small group or with friends. I find that in large city marathons people push themselves beyond what may be healthy for their body, simply due to the excitement and cheering crowds. If a woman gets too caught up in this, she may start ignoring warning signals that might otherwise stop her from continuing.

It is only a theoretical risk, but until there is more evidence, that would be my recommendation.

But where is that evidence going to come from? Well, I got an idea today. I am going to start a database of pregnant marathons. If you have run a pregnant marathon (or ultramarathon), you are more than welcome to contribute. You send me an email at and I send you a rather extensive questionnaire about the race/s you ran, your time, your previous running experience, how far along you were, how you felt short-term afterwards and of course the pregnancy outcome (also be prepared to answer questions about your medical and obstetrical history). It is biased, sloppy reserach. But it is likely the only kind of research one can do about pregnant marathoning and it is better than nothing. The database will be found at a website, which I don't have a link to yet. Here women who are interested in running a marathon or half marathon pregnant can see what other womens' experiences have been and then contribute their own. Ultimately, women will get connected to it, not through this blog, but through the new website.

As of now, I'm open to any sort of suggestions you have as this project will take a while to implement if it is going to be a good resource.

Monday 10 October 2011

Glacial Trail 50k

Waking up at 4 am, hurryingly breast feeding El Guapo, and trying to pump what little milk I had left to a mom who was, for some reason oblidged once again to watch the boys the entire morning, I probably should have asked myself "Why am I running this race?". Plus my left foot still hurt from the marathon last weekend. I couldn't get the internet to work, so I didn't have the exact address for the start. Despite the start of the race being only an hour north from my parents' house, I had never been to the area of Greenbush, WI before and relied solely on a Garmin device to get me to the approximate place of the start.

SR was in the midst of his 60 hour weekend ER shift and it felt so odd without him there. We have never run an ultra without each other before. Even if we haven't both run, we've at least both been there. So I ventured out alone at 5 am, in the pitch black, listening to the fuzzy fm waves of WUWM.

You have probably heard it is back luck to cross the path of a black cat. What about hitting a tabby cat with your burgundy 2001 Ford Windstar minivan going 65 on a highway? (though to be honest, my first thought was "thank God, I didn't get hurt" and my second "Thank God it wasn't a dog". But someone, somewhere might have loved that cat and I have felt bad since.

I made it to the Fire Station start and the first person I saw was Helen Lavin. Wow! She was visiting from California to watch her man, Chris Scotch run the 50k. Too bad she wouldn't be running; she was tapering for Hellgate. I love seeing this couple. They sort of epitomize the ultra community in the Midwest for me and I am so happy to know them. Plus Helen and I got to talk yoga and I laughed over the fact we ran in the exact same trail shoes. Yep, the minimal New Balance trail shoes.

This race, like the other two Wisconsin trail races I know, is run on a section of the Ice Age Trail, which winds its way over much of the state. The other two races are the Chippewa 50k and the Ice Age Trail 50k/50 mile. They are all the exact opposite of Danish ultra experiences. Rather than being run on a repeated flat asphalt loop, they are out and back, technical, hilly, single track trails in gorgeous varied terrain (and as you can guess, I far and away prefer the Wisconsin version of ultras - DON'T take these races for granted, Americans!!!).

What a long lead in basically to say, despite the odd, lonely mood of the morning, I ran the ultra of my life thus far.

As in Skovloeberen, I power-walked all the hills, ran my own race starting very slowly. I passed and passed people from mile 9 on. I ran almost an exactly even split and may have had a negative split if it hadn't gotten so warm and I run out of sports drink in my bottle in one of the 7 mile stretches between aid stations. Plus, I had three falls over rocks or roots on the way back. I even landed on my shoulder after one (I hope someone took a picutre I can post later).

Suddenly, Helen Lavin announces to me with a mere 5 miles to go that I am in second for the women!!! Wow. And I felt awesome. I was on track to run in just around 5 hours, but didn't know if my legs would hold to it. But through to the end, I was able to run the flat stretches in under 8 minutes a mile (and had this moment where I thought - this must be what it feels likes to be Devon Crosby Helms - of course, she would have won, though and run much faster...).

I came in in 5:02:46. 2nd/36 female (though it would have actually been good enough for the win the last two years - this time a girl named Cassie Scallon was there who ran it in either 4:50 or 4:15 - it is embarrassing that on the way home I thought to myself I might have misheard and the results aren't up yet. Cassie was a real nice girl and a local Wisconsinite. Edit: she ran it in 4:15 and won the whole race --- yes, for men and women!!). I was handed a personalized hand-made mug as a prize, which broke within 10 minutes. At which point, it was reinforced - there is no such thing as luck, there is only putting your mug in the wrong place :).)

Though I am tempted to go on and on about how awesome this race went for me, it is perhaps a bit too self-indulgent, even for me. But what an awesome day on the trails. I honestly don't think running the PR marathon the weekend before ended up being a hindrance and may have even helped. Had the Glacial Trail been a road race, though, I wouldn't have even finished it due to leg and foot problems, plus it would have been very inaptly named.

Here is their website . I give the race 5 out of 5 stars. Racing rarely gets better than this!

P.S. I peed in a bush yesterday and not in my shorts. Sorry.

Other tidbits of potential interest:

1. Throughout the race, I ingested the following:
6 electrolyte tabs
1 gu
1 medium sized special dark chocolate Hershey bar
6 peanut butter m & m's
Little Debbie Swiss Roll (ahhh... nothing reminds me more of Switzerland (he he))
4 bottles of Heed
4 cups of Heed
2 cups of Mountain Dew
1 cup ginger ale?
big handful of salt

After I crossed the finish line, I drank two cans of diet soda. I then rushed home and, despite all of this, I was still 4 lbs down on my fluid! It is amazingly hard to keep up with fluid losses and had it not been for the electrolyte tabs holding the fluid intravascular, I probably would have hit the wall.

2. At some point I stepped down REALLY hard on a rock with my left heel and I am willing to bet big money that there is a hairline fracure there which could be seen on MRI or bonescan, but would I ever get it checked? No way, not unless it starts hurting worse. Happily, it feels better today.

3. Finally, thanks to the comment by anon, here is a link to the story about the woman who gave birth following the Chicago Marathon (way to go, Amber!) ---this brings up a fascinating question: Did she induce labor or was it simply, coincidentally "the right time" (39 weeks)? Current dogma in Obstetrics is, of course, you can't induce labor on your own; you need prostaglandin medication at high doses to achieve that. Brings up a lot of questions...

Wednesday 5 October 2011

What really happened at The Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon

Somehow being back in La Crosse, WI, I'm reminded why I started blogging in the first place. I had time on my hands and felt like I needed to write. Life was good and I didn't want to forget it.

Lining up at the Milwaukee Marathon, I was reminded that, above all places, Wisconsin is my home. And I have missed it. The theme of the marathon was "be thankful because you can run a marathon today. You might not be able to tomorrow." It was cheesy, but this s the cheese state and I got tears in my eyes.

Even Bart Yasso was there and I thought of my Yasso 500 runs and was embarrassed that I had no idea he was the Editor of Runner's World or that he was even still alive.

I didn't know where to line up. My plan was with the 3:30 group, but the weather was perfect and there was going to be a little tail wind. So I moved up to the 3:25 pacing group. Between mile 1 and 2 I started talking with a guy from Chicago. He was struck by the beautiful farm landscape. If he thought THAT was beautiful, he should start running on trails. But I didn't say it because I needed to get my mind off the trails and onto the road. And before I could say anything, something pulled in my groin around my pubic symphysis and radiated to the right. I screamed a little scream and had to stop running. "No!!!!!" I pleaded. I drank Gatorade from the aid station and started walking and then sort of prancing on my toes, trying to shake out the pain. And after about 5 minutes of quasi running, the pain was much less and I started thinking I might actually run this whole marathon after all.

I was of course behind the 3:25 pacing group at this time, but resolved above to run my own race and just enjoy it. I didn't take long before I caught up with them again and the sort-of forced enthusiasm of the people running with the pacer irritated me. Though the pacer himself was very entertaining and would in two weeks be going for the world record marathon time dressed up like a cartoon character (Charlie Brown was his choice). At some point, one of the women in the group said to her husband "you better not expect me to respond to ANYTHING you say today". Ouch. I was not enjoying this negative energy and sort of let myself slip behind after an aid station. I drank and walked at every aid station and ate a little from my chocolate stash. They were every two miles, so it was easy to get behind.

I was having an unispired day. What can I say? But then around the half marathon, I heard someone yell: "Go Sea Legs Girl!" Not my first name, but my blog name and I was so incredibly struck by this. Someone had recognized me. And that's around the point I asked myself - what am I doing in this race if NOT going for a PR? I simply couldn't run this race and come in just behind my current PR. That would be pathetic. So, with my ultra marathon mentality, I said to myself "12 miles left is nothing! Go for it!" and so I did.

Edit (race pictures are now available)This was taken right around the time I got my burst of energy. (this is the only picture I have seen of me running where I have good running form)

Perhaps it was the entire bar of dark Hershey's chocolate or the already six cups of gatorade or all of the fans or the girl who yelled Sea Legs Girl - but suddenly it was fun and I was bursting with energy.

I just have to mention - I didn't stop to pee once. How -after downing coffee prerace was this possible, you ask? Controlled, continuous urination. I mean, if a person can sweat buckets, it should also be okay to simply pee a very little bit continuously throughout the race, right? I did this at Skovloeberen, too, and as far I can tell, it is unnoticeable to people around me (I do wear black shorts).

So back to the race - the second half was simply a ton of fun where I passed lots of people including the 3:25 pacing group. The only thing that seemed to slow me down at the end was the stupid decision to drink water at the aid station with 3 miles to go. I got so light-headed! Would it be a bad idea to actually ban water at marathons and only have sports drink?? Would that be taking things too far? (Here ( an article I just ran across in the NY Times that irks me. The authors repeats "don't drink too much" while running a marathon. But she misses the key word: "don't drink too much water". As long as you are drinking isotonic sports drink, you will never get hyponatremic, assuming it has been mixed correctly. So drink up! But avoid water.)

Anyway, you all know my final time by now: 3:24:05. I was pleased, but this time seemed to be a long time coming. And, to be honest, I never really felt like I was pushing it. And I find myself wondering what my limiting factor is. Certainly the last mile, my joints felt so sore that I could not have run much further, but I still had a bunch of surplus energy. Weird. Though starting out faster than I did has killed me three times in the past.

In other news, we found the house we are going to rent in La Crosse from now through July 31st. It is actually the lower level of a house. I was not at all excited about the idea of renting yet another crappy, small apartment, adding it to the every-growing list of crappy, small apartments I/we have lived in, so finding this part of a house for rent on Craigslist in a nice neighborhood with three bedrooms and partially furnished seems so far to be a God send!

Sunday 2 October 2011

New marathon PR

Yep, I couldn't leave you hanging. I could write a really long, detailed race report, but you'd be liable to scroll through it just find the time anyway.

It was a perfect day for running a marathon and The Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon is a fast course. I had no excuses, nothing went wrong, I ran a 1:40 negative split and felt comfortable the whole way until the last mile. I ran on the shoulder of the road in the gravel the whole first half of the marathon to save my joints and muscles. (I ran in my minimalist trail shoes :)).

The final time was 3:24:05, so an over 3 minute PR. I even ran without a garmin and without music!

SR also thinks he ran a PR by a few seconds in 2:49 - something. (I'll have to update his time when the results are up).

What an awesome day! Now we're off to La Crosse, WI to see the step kids.