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 December 2012

Paroxetine & Overtraining Syndrome

I guess they were right when they said Paroxetine would cure depression. Maybe not so much actually taking the pills, but looking at them. Contemplating.
Dormant Paroxetine

Weight gain, insomnia, nightmares, "sexual dysfunction" (what exactly does that mean, anyway? - I don't want to find out). I mean come on - it's for people who are depressed to begin with!

In order to avoid putting them in my mouth, I wonder why I have had the recurring episodes of depression. Depression is a relatively new thing for me (since Mattias' birth) and it comes and goes in brief but intense waves. People who grew up with me (Sarah?? - are you there :o)) would have described me as happy and energetic. And I was. And am?

Two weeks ago, I went to the doctor and scored as having a moderate depression on what I believe was called the Hamilton Score - but it's different than the one I find online. I could not stop crying. I had again run the 200 meter intervals that day. I almost threw my iPod Shuffle in the woods on the way home because the music sounded like shit. Cry cry cry. A week later, I went to take the test again (this is required for an official diagnosis) and I was far from depressed. I was embarrassed I had felt so hopeless.

It was following along with Geoff Roes' blog that finally (I think) gave me the answer: Overtraining Syndrome. I can hardly believe I hadn't considered it or had someone suggest it to me. Maybe I thought it was a term made up by non athletes who just didn't "get it". But I have come to realize that if you take training seriously, you should take overtraining even more seriously.

If anything, I had thought Overtraining Syndrome would simply mean you were tired and couldn't perform at your previous level. But most often, the first symptom is depression. And insomnia (estimated to be present in 90% with overtraining syndrome) goes right along with it. Add to this anorexia, and you have the trifecta of Overtraining Syndrome. It seems to originate in overworked muscles that aren't allowed to rest raising cortisol levels and this affecting brain tryptophan and serotonin levels - causing the viscious cycle of insomnia, anorexia and depression listed above, which of course will negatively impact training and things can spiral from there.

Signs that you may have it include an increased resting heart rate and slower return to resting heart rate (I haven't noticed a difference). Cervical lymph nodes also tend to be enlarged as well (you may recall I had mentioned the enlarged lymph nodes in my neck in a recent post). Susceptibility to infection is also mentioned, but not something I personally have experienced. Finally, injuries that heal very slowly (check) if at all.

Here is an article from the British Medical Journal, which I found very helpful:

The thing that I can't explain is that, in the face of this, I had a dynamite training week. Although for me Christmas meant more calories and more sleep. Plus Ole has had me doing somewhat less intense sessions (I have read 6 min. repeated intervals have the greatest chance of causing overtraining syndrome of anything -and I used to do those every single week). Plus I'm not racing every other weekend like before. More is indeed not more. My mantra is that I need to enter every session feeling fresh and energetic. And I am getting there.

Here my latest training log which I sent Ole. Pretty sure you can get the gist despite the Danish. I'll translate in a few spots.

Lør - 10km på 46.50 udenfor (outside)
Søn- Skodsborg Marathon på trails i Dyrehaven - 37 km på 3.15 og havde masse af overskud og det føltes bare rigtig godt. (der var godt nok mange, som var forvirret over, jeg ikke løb en hel marathon - men jeg var hurtig at meddele, det var din skyld :o)).
Man- spinning
Tirs: 2 + 1.5 + 1 km (genial træning, synes jeg!) - 7.42; 5.45; 3.42 (!). Det var på løbebånd (treadmill) 0,5%. +  mave, baller, lår
Ons: 10km på 46.18 udenfor (igen, føltes nemt og godt) + Bikram Yoga
Tors: 4 x 1 km på banen (the track) (udenfor) gik MEGET bedre end sidste uge: 3.57, 3.54, 3.53, 3.55. Tror nemlig det hjælp at jeg varmede op med (warmed up with) 2 x 200 meter intervaller så hurtigt som muligt. 
Fre: spinning + mave, baller, lår

At this point, my right foot started bothering me because my shoe could not be tied tight enough anymore. I bought some new shoes at Fysium here in Næstved. I adore both the shoes and the store! They look just like my old shoes but logarithmically more comfortable. Wow. I have no idea what that means, but it sounds about as comfortable as they are.

New shoes on bubbleope on radiator = fire hazard

Right now I'm in the middle of an "ultra" training weekend for the Bandera 100k in two weeks:
yesterday: 32 km with SR
today: 28 km
tomorrow: 30 km (? with Annette?)
all on trails in (ok, near) our own back yard.

Running Songs of the Day: (witness taking pleasure in things I normally love)
1. When I See You by Magic Touch & Sapphire Slows
2. Breezeblocks by Alt-J

Finally - for those not friends with me on Facebook yet (or for those who stopped being my friend when I came out as pro gun control), some Christmas pics:

Does this look like a child who was so ill he would keep his parents up all night? Well, it should!  (he's all better,  and we are so relieved)

Monday 24 December 2012

Top 10 Reads of 2012 - Merry Christmas!

As a sort of electronic Christmas gift (it's the best I can think of!), I thought I'd give you all my list of best reads from this year. Not that they were all published in 2012.

You should know that, it was not for lack of trying that there is only one fiction book listed. I must have started over 20 fiction books and finished one (it's #5 on the list). For example, I was sure I would like Once a Runner by John L Parker, but after a while, I couldn't take it anymore.

10. The Best Norse in the Long Run by Kenny Moore (
A 1986 take on the pregnant marathon and one fast woman.

9. Swim Speed Secrets by Sheila Taormina
For the first time, swimming technique I could understand and see results from.

8. I'm Here to Win by Chris McCormack
The chapters on training and, especially nutrition, are incredibly insightful - and novel. They make the whole book worth it.

7. The Mighty Cobra and the Pink Rabbit: A Diary by Miss Pink
An honest and funny take on Bikram Yoga

6. The Art of Running Faster by Julian Goater
Lots of useful tidbits. SR said he didn't recognize me from the back yesterday at our race because my form has gotten so much better. I think I have this book to thank.

5. The Hours by Michael Cunningham
As mentioned, I rarely tolerate fiction, but I could not put this down. Beautifully written.

4. Eat & Run by Scott Jurek
Reading this was pure joy.

3. Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet
I didn't know it was possible to learn so much about the human mind through one book - about one person.

2. A Life Without Limits by Chrissy Wellington
Read it in 3 days and didn't want it to end. Wonderful book.

1. An Unquiet Mind by Kay Jamisson
Changed my perspective of all psychiatric illnesses and my own life. Not only that, but it is incredibly well-written and a page turner all the way through.

What about your favorites? What did I miss?

Christmas Challenge: Find SR. I'm sure you can find me. Hint: we are both wearing nissehue.
Skodsborg Juleløb 2012. The trails and company in Dyrehaven are amazing.
But my family is the best. We're just about to leave for Chistmas Eve in Værløse. 
I wish you all a safe, healthy and happy Christmas.

Friday 21 December 2012

Winforce 100km, Solomon 4 Trails & Fyr til Fyr

Every once in a while, I get a really good email. On Monday morning, I woke up to one of these from Christian Madsen from asking me if I would be the race physician for his Winforce 100k. I got a huge smile on my face, knowing of course I would say yes, but also thinking - WOW. This is not something I have tried before. I immediately contacted physicians who might be in the know about this kind of thing, and have gotten some very good help and advice already. But- if any of you readers have been an official race physician before, I would love to hear you thoughts and advice (heck, even if you're not a physician and you just want to share something).

1. So the Winforce 100km takes place August 17th here in northern Zealand in Denmark. It is a trail race and a qualifier for UTMB (and probably will be for Western States).


I also want to point out that Martin Paldan will be the race photographer and his adventure photography has such an incredible life-like quality.

I chose this one because it reminds me of Christmas lights.
I hope he gets a shot of me stitching up a wicked laceration. Okay - maybe not.

2. But, before that Alicia (of Trails & Rocks fame: (not working to make this a link!)) , Maria and I are going to be racing in the Alps this July. I mentioned it to coach Ole- and he is okay with it. As long as it is my last ultra before my sub 3 hour marathon attempt - in October?? Salomon 4 trails July 10th-13th. 150km, 10,000 meters alititude change. We're trying to convince SR and Alicia's husband Divesh to join, but SR wants to crew for us and Divesh wants to work on the chemistry of plastics (I kid, Divesh! But it is true.)
XKross 3 Running

3. Also, since we're going in backwards order, SR and I will be running the Fyr til Fyr  60km race on the Danish island of Bornholm April 6th. It is in the Baltic Sea just off of Sweden and to me it sounds like they speak Danish with a Swedish accent. Very endearing.

Here is a map of the race:
Point to point. 60km. Bus to start. All for $40.
So lots of excitement after kicking off the year with the Bandera 100km.

Training with the help of Ole has been going well. I did 5km + 4km on the treadmill in 34:37 on Monday, Wed: 10km in 45:50 + 200 x 6 in 41 sec avg. Thurs: outdoor 1km x 5 track intervals in avg. 4.01. Not fast enough, but I'm faster than last year at this time, which makes me happy.

I told Ole I'm not much for days off, so we're working on the "benfri" (legs free) concept for those days.

For right now, the goal race plan is

Goal race #1: Copenhagen Marathon May 19th - PR
Goal race #2: Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon??  Oct. 6th - sub 3 hours

Christian (middle) with his Icelandic girlfriend, Sigrún and her little sister, Selma. The wedding will be in Mývatn, Iceland. You are all invited.

Song of the day (and the song I keep playing over and over) is Emmylou by First Aid Kit. Thanks to Steve Q for the rec. Here is a beautiful live performance SR found:

Sunday 16 December 2012

Can't keep my mouth shut

Counterintuitive as it seems, living abroad has made me more patriotic. I love the United States: it's beauty, it's originality and probably most of all, it's human diversity. It is a country that has had enormous successes and has such potential to effect positive change.

When I read on Friday what had happened in Connecticut, I was filled with such an extreme sadness. For a moment, I imagined Rasmus and me losing Christian. What would we do? What could we say? I am sure all the moms who read this blog went through this.

Immediately I thought "HOW could this happen AGAIN?" The problem with me is, I expect everyone in the world to look at things like I do - and they don't.

(as I read somewhere about America -  one guy in an aiport had a bomb in his shoe and everyone removes their shoes before boarding a plane; 31 school shootings since Columbine and nothing changes)

I posted something on Facebook about gun control and universal psychiatric care and I lost 14 friends. I couldn't sleep because it had never occurred to me how much I would offend people.

And yet, I continue here.

Can someone please tell me why ít is legal for Americans to buy automatic rifles like those used in Afghanistan? And why, last week, did Michigan legalize carrying concealed weapons in schools? I keep trying to look at it from the point of view of those who want to own guns, but I don't get it. Yet I guess I think like a Dane. I live in a country where possessing a weapon like that or bringing a gun in a school is incomprehensible. But have I become so close-minded in my safe haven that I can't understand the view point of my old grade school friends? Have I changed so much?

Then again, America, why not make owning a home nuclear bomb legal? - then we can all wonder why half of the state of New York disappears when a psychopath gets a hold of one.

But enough on that.

There is something else that I can't let go of. The killer: Adam Lanza. Before we knew anything about him, we knew he was a psychopath. People keep talking about "Aspergers", yet it seems he had no official diagnosis, despite seeming psychiatrically ill to pretty much everyone who knew him. Why are psychiatric illnesses so stigmatizing that no teachers ever referred him for care? What if psychiatric care were free and available to all like it is in Denmark? I can't help but wondering.

Forgive me, but I NEED to pose these questions otherwise I will never forgive myself. I would never forgive myself if I didn't fight for what I believe in and one of my children is killed when we move to the US.

We all believe different things. The most important thing is we stand up for what we believe in, even if we fear it might offend others because it's "political".  No democracy is healthy if its citizens don't stand up for what they believe.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

The running coach experience & running for a cause

How's the coaching going, you ask?

Let me put it this way. When I wake up, I never look forward to the run on my schedule. I'm just plain afraid I won't be able to complete my assignment acceptably. I am given distances and times they should be run in. First the snow cover and then the very deep snow cover added an extra level of stress! (I know I should look at this as a privilege to be coached, but if I weren't stressed I wouldn't be enjoying it).

Here's how this last week looked

Thurs: dreading my run. 2 x 4km in 16:00 and 15:57. Felt really hard. CX worx class fit in perfectly after this.
Fri: legs are dead tired. 27 km in 2:27  at Fredskov Marathon. Very hard. Right leg hurting.

Saturday: Rest day! Yay. Went to Copenhagen with the family and got to do a Bikram Yoga class. Met Malene who tried Bikram Yoga because I had mentioned it on my blog!! How cool.

Sunday: don't feel like running. Biggest snow and ice storm in Denmark's history. I think I still have a corneal abrasion on my left eye (it still hurts) from the wind pelting ice. 27 km in a time I will never reveal because I chose to remain ignorant. Perhaps one should never time a long run in 5 inches of fresh snow (it's only just starting in the picture below). This was again at Fredskov Marathon. I can't fathom that Annette has now run over 150 marathons and she just keeps on running in this snow! Nothing short of amazing.
Photo by Ulrich Fredskov
This is how it looked a little later. The thing that does not get conveyed here is how strong the wind was!! Poor us, I know.

Mon: Again, deep snow, 20 miles. Tears were even shed as I ran the first half with SR. (this back to back long run thing is training for Bandera 100k in January)

Tues: cross training (yay!) spinning + step + core

Wed: Looking for ANY excuse not to do the run on my schedule: 3 x 3km in 4-4:15 min/km. I actually did it in 11:52, 11:49 and 11:47. (treadmill, 0.5%)Cool! Way faster than planned and no hip pain. Maybe I should stick to the treadmill. Time for a short swim!

Tomorrow is 1.5 km intervals.I have to admit I'm not 100% dreading it right now.

Now a question (or a lot of questions):

Did you ever want to run and blog to raise awareness for a good cause? Or is this just the naïve idealist talking? The health and safety of long-distance running during pregnancy certainly came to my mind. But there is no existing organization that focuses on that, is there? And what about the health and safety of female runners in 3rd world countries? Is it so unrealistic that there are female runners in poor or politically unstable countries? Do you readers know of any organisations that work with these causes? Or do have have another suggestion of an organization it would make sense for me to bring attention to?

Running song of the day: Secret Days by School of Seven Bells ( ) I guess it makes sense to run intervals to so-called "zero-gravity pop".

And finally. I love my family. (sorry if you already saw these on Facebook)
I fail to see any resemblance here.

Primordial rocks juxtaposed with supersonic green plastic nuk.

Just have to point out that is not OUR refrigerator in the background. Although it is probably all gluetn free.

Thursday 6 December 2012

200 meter interval induces migraine, depression

And just like that , I'm normal again. Breathing normally and finding happiness in my favorite things. 

Looking back, it must have started on Saturday. I woke up feeling actually quite fine and had a good morning. I went out for a 45 min warm-up run before my short intervals and even ran into some friends at the track. On my schedule were 200 meter intervals at between 36 and 40 seconds. I thought this would be impossible. As far as I am aware, I have never run at around a 5 minute per mile pace (and maybe for good reason). To make a long story short, I did it (though barely): times were 40, 39, 39, 40, 40, 39. 

The reason I mention this, is after the second one, I suddenly had such an excruciating headache behind my left eye. I thought I was going to throw up. Certainly any normal person would have stopped, but I rationalized that running more intervals would reverse what had happened, though I was scared of it being an aneurysm.

For those of you who don't know me well yet, hypochondriasism is one of my main hobbies.

All Saturday, that headache did not go away. I had to lay in the dark and close my eyes (let me just point out, I have never had a migraine before, but have imagined this is how one feels). And then the crying started. I said over 100 times that I was dying - of a brain tumor (of course). SR told me to go lie down again. I slept a little and felt a little better.

The next day I woke up really late. Usually I go swimming with the tri club on Sunday mornings, but I had no time for or interest in that. We had also planned I'd run the Herlufsholm 10k race  - and the snow was gorgeous!

And it was a tough race - very hilly and on trails. Despite the snow, I ended up running in 42.17, beating my previous record time on this course (set in warm, dry weather) by almost 30 seconds. But that is neither here nor there. Rather than focussing on it being a good race, I could not let go of the fact that because I have started taking my PPI again (due to my stomach acid causing enormous large lymph nodes in my neck) that my PPI-induced stomach pain ruined my race and limited my running. (ok, that is just an aside)

Later that night, we went to a family party in Copenhagen. Normally I love hanging out with SR's family, but before the night was over, I found myself hiding in a room, crying. Objectively there was absolutely nothing wrong. I just wish I could convince myself of that, though, at the time these things happen. The kids had a great time and of course this should be reason enough for any mom to smile.

That night I had one nightmare after another - all involving cancer. (I was about to ask SR to quit his job!)

There is no point in going through the whole week in great detail. I was just on edge all week, the edge of tears and yelling and I hate that feeling. On top of that my OCD got 10x worse. But last night, after a massage (go figure), my depressive symptoms were gone as quickly as they came. Wow! It is kind of like waking up from a bad dream and you're like - ok, this IS me. I am STILL a happy, normal person.

What is within normal? What is illness? I wish I could stop these "episodes" from ever happening again - and certainly, looking back, I have used running as my medicaion for years, without ever fully realizing that anything was wrong. And maybe nothing is. Maybe it's normal to get a bit depressed as winter rolls around. If you do, you are not alone.

Thursday 29 November 2012

I'll be at Western States 100- but will you SEE me???

I can hardly believe it. A few days ago, I gathered my courage and updated my CV. I wrote to Marty Hoffman, the research director of the Western States 100 miler. The main reason I contacted him was I want to get experience in the field of Physical Medicine & Rehab. The more I think about it, the more this field seems to be the right fit for me as a physician. Maybe he had a research project I could help with???

The email that ensued was beyond anything I could have dreamed of. He was starting a project about vision loss among ultra runners and it turns out my qualifications were exactly what he was looking for. How many ophthalmology MD, PhDs want to do research in ultra marathoners? It was as if he had made the whole study up on the spot to make me happy (no no, he didn't do that). He sent me a protocol draft and suddenly he is okay with me taking the lead role in the project with him as an advisor. And there is even an ultrarunner optometrist, Kim, who will be helping with the project.

So I'm going to Squaw Valley (and then to Auburn) this June! Not as a runner, but as a physician and researcher. And if you are going to be running (Amy Sproston, Ashley Nordell, OTHERS...???) I hope you participate in our project and then you can have your vision, corneas and eye pressure measured by yours truly.

The greatest part is SR is thrilled. I'm going to be spending time at UC-Davis, getting to know the people in the PM&R department and hopefully taking steps to find a residency spot. Dr. Hoffman has introduced me to the residency director and others - suddenly I have contacts! If I don't do residency there, at least I can gain experience and perhaps letters. Although SR is already salivating at the thought of living near the Sierra Nevadas.

Soon I will be posting a link to our questionnaire for all ultra runners on this website - so I hope you take time to fill it out if you have experienced visual difficulties/impairment during an ultra. Previously I had only heard of hallucinations, but I trust Dr. Hoffman when he says it is a real phenomenon that happens year after year and sometimes prohibits people from finishing.


It feels like a job, it is very hard and I love it. AND my injury seems to get better every time I run. Finally I think I am really over the hump. And it seems all of this fast-paced running (with low mileage) is forcing me into a good running position. Or at least one that doesn't exacerbate my injury.

Mon: recovery (swim + bike + core)
Tues: 55 min - 7.5 miles/12km + body vive + home yoga
Wed: 13.1 miles/21.1 km in 1:49:44 (with Nicolas Feltsen - these days I defnitely prefer company on my runs), brief bike, home yoga
Thurs: 50 min: 10.9 km/6.77 miles, CX worx, body flow

So far I have followed Ole's plan exactly.
Tomorrow is a rest day.

My legs are feeling toned and tired. I feel like if I had to run tomorrow I couldn't - and that's probably how I should feel. It may be coach Ole does indeed know what he is doing.

Løb nr. 137 - 366/365. Tracy Høeg, Nicholas Felten, Annette Fredskov, Malene Ravn
Wednesday - me, Nicolas, Annette & Malene (ever adorning the flawless hedge)

Running Form

Coach Ole looked at my video from the track and said I needed to actively lift my foot as soon as it hit the ground. He sent me some videos about pose running technique. I feel like I tend to have more of a pose running style the faster I run. Steve Q wrote a good blog post about that topic. And maybe the more years you run fast in minimal shoes/no shoes, the more likely you are to develop this technique over time.

So I'm thinking in a couple of months I'll have Triunesh Dibaba's running style. See here: (she ran barefoot as a girl in Ethiopia and I think you can tell - watch that butt kick!! Bet you'll get goosebumps!)


I don't like it right now. It has played such a central role in my life for as long as I can remember and I have no desire to listen to it. hrmph

Saturday 24 November 2012

Focus on Technique: Smart or Desperate?

At this time last Saturday, I was one unhappy lady. My entire family had come along (3 hour drive) to watch me attempt to run 70 km in 6 hours at the Grenaa 6 hour race, but my right leg was not ready. I switched shoes from the Hokas to my old New Balances after 2 hours. It helped only temporarily. The pain in my right hip was so bad that I kept looking at the indoor pool we were running around and wishing I were swimming.

Injuries are frustrating. Infuriating if you allow them to be. Especially when you can't figure out what is injured. (in my case, I still don't know if it is the knot in my calf or SI joint subluxation)

But there is a question that begs to be asked: Why do I keep getting injured? In the last year, I've been dealing with an injury around 50% of the time (various injuries - twice on the left side of my body, now on the right). That just can't be optimal for training.

Something needs to change. The first thing I'm learning from my coach is that I need to enter each running session uninjured and ready to work hard.

My old philosophy was end each session barely able to hobble home. The obvious problem was the more weeks I trained, the more wore down I became.

Last week I only ran twice and I just worked on technique. I have been reading Julian Goater's "The Art of Running Faster" and have focussed on:

-shifting my weight forward
- increasing my cadence
- jumping rope
- running up sand dunes

All of these things will land you on the front of your feet.

And did you ever think about how many steps you take a minute? Turns out the top 150 finishers at one New York Marathon all ran somewhere between 184 and 188 steps per minute.

On one of my runs last week, I would run 1 minute at marathon pace and ran between 183 and 187 steps, but this was with focussing on a fast turnover. You should try it sometime. It is fun.

The schedule Ole has devised for me this coming week is in preparation for the Bandera 100k January 12th. And in taking my recovering leg into consideration
(I am also supposed to jump rope before and/or after most of my sessions)

Mon: recovery
Tues: 40-60 min at 4:20-4:45 min/km
Wed: 45-60 min at 4:20- 4:45 min/km focus on high cadence
Thurs: 20-22 km at 4:45-5:15 min/km
Fri: No training
Sat: 45 min at 4:30-5 min/km; 200 m x 6 at 36-40 sec 2 min. pause. (wow! that seems like a LONG pause)
Sun: 10k trail race (at Herlufsholm)

He also asked me to send him a video of myself running. SR took this today. That is Christian panting in the background (I think). Do I appear to be limping?

I'm excited to get some video feedback from Ole (and you guys!).

So the focus right now is two fold:

1. Better technique
2. Train less, but more intense

My last resort is moving our family to Copenhagen to practice Bikram Yoga on a daily basis because that is the only thing that really seems to help my right leg. (I learned from the owner that the Copenhagen Ballet has now experienced the benefits of Bikram and the whole troupe is practicing there to prevent and treat injuries. Cool stuff.)

Further notes on the gluten free diet:

So step-daughter Natali has been having stomach issues for months that have kept her home from school. I was ready to call and make a doctor appointment when I made the suggestion she just try the gluten free diet, just for a week. Well, she tried it and is so happy. After the first day, her stomach cramping was gone and it hasn't come back. As a bonus to her, her acne is also gone. The latter had also really bothered her, so she has no interest in eating gluten again. Ok, besides the fact that she misses her rygbrød (danish rye bread) when all of her friends eat it for lunch.

Count me amazed: either gluten/the things one eats with it are generally unhealthy OR we have two gluten intolerant gals in the family.

Finally, congrats to Katie and Ana-Maria on both running amazing sub 19 5k times. They are both getting faster and faster and are so fun to follow. I didn't even know they lived close enough to each other to run the same race. Great to have inspiration. And to see the effects of structured training.

Monday 12 November 2012

Sub 3:00, the coach, the plan

I'm not the type of person who takes the time to look back and appreciate achievements. I'm always immediately on to the next thing. Yet I found myself saying out loud "I have run 7 PRs in 5 distances in 2 months". And it was entirely true. So something went right. I just can't figure out what. Yet it still didn't go as well as I wanted.

My biggest goal: the marathon, was run on an injured leg, in terrible weather and I got lost. But it was a good season, yet I know I can do a lot better if I stop doing whatever I feel like and train exactly right for exactly a marathon. (as Bikram would say "exactly head to exactly knee" - sorry).

I need a goal. It did not take me long to figure out that would be a sub 3 hour marathon. But how will I accomplish this? (I have to admit I have never run a book about running training and I have never run according to any sort of plan besides the (often good) suggestions of my husband.).

I skipped over all of the available reading material and lept to one of the most well-known coaches of elite runners and triathletes in Denmark: Ole Stougaard. Here is the coaching company (Multitesta) he owns. I asked him two years ago if he would coach me and he said no. This time he said yes. Maybe it was because I had better running times. Or maybe it was my specific goal. I was beyond thrilled when he said yes. Not only because I think he will make me faster but because I can write about it here. And because maybe it will help me better understand running and physiology and how to become a coach myself. I sent him my training schedule from the last two weeks:

Søn: yoga, opvarmning, 5k tempo på 19.34
Man: mave, baller, lår + 1.5 timer cykle (udenfor) + 2km svømning
Tirsdag: 30 km løb
Onsdag: 2 timer cykle, 1.5 timer Bikram Yoga
Torsdag: opvarmning, 6 x 1.5 km løb intervaller (på gennemsnit 6.15) meget koldt og blæsende, dårlig dag
Fredag: spinning + mave, ryg
Lørdag: 43 km løb
Søn: 1.5 timer cykel og 1 time svømning med HG Tri Club
Man: 1.5 timer cykel, mave, baller lår, 40 min svømning med teknik arbejde
Tirs: 5 timers løb på trail langsomt (? distance)
Onsdag: 2 timer cykel, interval svømning 50 meter (på ca. 55 sek - ja jeg er langsom)
Torsdag: opvarmning + 6 x 1,5 km løb på gennemsnit 6.10, Bikram yoga
Fredag: 45 min spinning, 1 time mave, baller, lår
Lørdag  - skulle have løbet 12 km tempo men var oppe næsten hele natten med opkastning og dårlig mave :(. Det bliver så til en hviledag.
Søn: 42 km løb

Didn't quite get that? Here is google translate's version of what I wrote:

Sun: yoga, heating, 5k pace at 19.34
Man: abdomen, buttocks, thighs + 1.5 hours cycling (outside) + 2km swimming
Tuesday: 30 km run
Wednesday: 2 hours cycling, 1.5 hours Bikram Yoga
Thursday: heating, 6 x 1.5 km run intervals (on average 6.15) very cold and windy, bad day
Friday: spinning + stomach, back
Saturday: 44 km run
Sun: 1.5 hours bike and 1 hour swimming with HG Tri Club
Man: 1.5 hours cycling, stomach, buttocks thighs, 40 minutes swimming with engineering work
Tirs: 5 hour races on the trail slowly (? Distance)
Wednesday: 2 hours cycling, interval swimming 50 meters (approx. 55 seconds - yes I'm slow)
Thursday: heating + 6 x 1.5 km run on average 6.10, Bikram yoga
Friday: 45 minutes spinning, 1 hour stomach, buttocks, thighs
Saturday - should have over 12 km pace but was up almost all night with vomiting and stomach upset: (., It then becomes a day of rest.
Sun: 42 km run

Now he knows me :). After a few more emails, he said based on the 40:06 10k two days after a marathon, he predicts I have the potential to run a 2:50 marathon. This was a bit of a shocker. It immediately made me think - well then what is SR's potential??!! And so many other readers of this blog??

So what is the plan exactly? Well, I don't know. I have a 6 hour and 100k race coming up first as part of my "off season". He's going to help me train for the 100k in January, but then all focus goes to the marathon. I had indicated I was interested in becoming a faster cyclist as well, but he says I need to focus on running all spring to make my dream become a reality.

In other news:

The knot in my calf is not entirely gone. And after all of the yoga and stretching I've done, I've now stretched that leg so much that it appears a lot longer (it's the hip that is pulled out of alignment, though). I've gotten myself into a fine mess. But the initial insult was running so many miles in minimal trail shoes on roads. To mitigate this, I'm trying these Hokas. They just arrived in the mail today from La France. They are extremely comfortable and make me as tall as SR.

Good thing our apartment is full of gleaming white backgrounds for perfect pictures.

Ideal racing weight

So happy to be back down to 105-106 lbs. Exactly where I want to be. It took tons of running miles and lots of salad with eggs and fish, but I did it! As Christian said "Mom, you like salad and Dad likes food." As the weight went down, interval times improved accordingly. A woman at the pool called me "spinkel" today and it immediately became my favorite Danish adjective.


Still eating gluten free and never ever ever wanting to go back. Went to get tested and there was over an hour wait at the lab. Free health care is not always fast health care. I'll go back another day.

Bikram Yoga Study

Wow. Everything is falling into place. We have the world's leading expert from Fort Collins, CO in as a co-investigator in our project and the studio here is making wonderful offers to help our target patient group. After years of wanting to study running in pregnancy and it just never coming together, I can't help but feeling this new project is somehow my destiny. More later of course.

Proof that I am a mom

People who read this blog probably wonder why I write about myself all the time and not my kids. Well, you'd probably lose interest fast. Moms are experts at bragging about their extremely talented kids.

But just so you know that I am indeed a mom and have those exact same feelings of pride and joy when I see my little boys accomplish something, I am going to subject you to ... momism. 

What I found on the counter when I got back from my run. I didn't expect Christian would do this at 4 ½, but for all I know he should have been doing this at 3½. The most important part is he LOVES writing now!

Christian ran his first kid race. 3.3 km.

He had such a great time and I was beaming with pride!!! Oh, my boy loves to run. Time? about 37 minutes for 3.3km. This must give a marathon potential of  sub 7 hours!


 Questions of the day:

1. Which is healthier: cheese or chocolate?

2. Training for which running distance gives the best female body?

3. What color is the number 5?  (don't say black because that is the color of this font!, thank you)

Tuesday 30 October 2012

5k experiment

Recovery after Sydkyst Marathon was slower than I had hoped. But with a knot the size of a lemon in my right calf, I couldn't expect it to disappear in a day or two, even without running. I ran 2km in two weeks. That is not exactly high mileage for me.

But daily massage from SR on my calf and three sessions with my favorite massage therapist at Meridian Centret and the knot was crushed to near non-existance. Can I just ask - how many running injuries are actually caused by knots that people simply fail to identify? It was just lucky my massage therapist found mine because my pain has always been in my hip!

Knot nearly gone - what could I do other than sign up for a race?

I had no clue if I even could manage 2km in a row, so I decided to run the 5k rather than the 12k. It was a race in Næstved with over 1800 participants - the largest race outside of Copenhagen on our island - ever! It was called Mærk Næstved. It was run on a newly-built highway, before the cars get to drive on it. (I have to say supporting the destruction of beautiful nature to build a road was not exactly my favorite race premise, but proceeds apparently went to local athletic clubs).

SR and I had a good 30 minute warm-up. He would be running the 12k, so he agreed to warm up with me.

I lined up near the front, next to my good swimming friend. I had no idea she ran, too, and asked what her goal time was. She said around 24 minutes. I was a little surprised she lined up near the front, but what do I know about Næstved races?

The weather was perfect. About 45 degrees F, sunny and nearly windless.

The race was started and after about 1 minute, I passed the one woman ahead of me and ran the first km in 3:41! Garmins all beeped so it must have been correctly measured. I felt great. I was trying to forget the 2lb weight gain I've had in the last two weeks. I slowed the next km, but then kept the pace pretty even.

I was first female and 8th overall with a 2 second PR: 19:34.

The calf never felt perfect and my whole body seemed to be in shock about suddenly running so fast after two weeks of nothing. I was happy to run a PR, but I still think a sub 19 is lingering inside of me - somewhere.

The local tv station got a clip of the men's winner and me at the finish.

Click here and fast forward to about 5:30. Enjoy a little Danish news.

SR's race went really well. He ran the 12k in 42:07 and came in second after this guy (Frank Løvedahl Rasmussen)
Frank about to win the 12k

SR with ½ km to go. I am not good at catching runners in the middle of the field.

SR catching up to the last 5k runners in the neon green race shirts.

top 3 men at the finish

Here I'm receiving a 500 kr. gift certificate from Næstved's mayor (in green)!

I still can't get over that a 19:34 is good enough for first place in a 5k with nearly 500 women. I feel like half the women reading this now could beat that. And beyond that, the second place woman was over 2 minutes behind me. I am not saying this to say - hey look at me - I'm so fast. It's more like - why do women here not want to run fast? It's almost as if it is stigmatizing. Anyway.

I honestly enjoyed my two week break from running. I needed it. And I'm still going to take it easy for a while. I've been reading a ton lately, and I met a group of women in Copenhagen who I will be doing research on Bikram yoga with. One is a post-doc and one is a medical student.

The book "Swim Speed Secrets for Swimmers and Triathletes" by Sheila Taormino has taken 4:30 seconds off of my 2k tempo swims! If you swim and haven't read it, you absolutely need to!

Today I went for a nice slow run with Annette and Jerk. It was a gorgeous day and I loved running with these two. Having close friends - in real life - and not just on a blog, is invaluable.

They both are encouraging me to start that training camp in Colorado so they too can partake.

Annette and me today.
Halloween preparations with the Icelandic girls

Oh yeah - check out Alicia Hudelson's blog if you have a chance! Inspired by my 3:16:20 marathon PR, she just ran a 3:16:19 in Grand Rapids!

Friday 19 October 2012

The simple math of flexibility and strength

As SR left for work this morning and I was sitting on the floor with two whaling children he asked "what are your plans today?"

"I plan to spend the first hour of my day bending over backwards as far as I can."

That's me: the woman in the front in black. Exactly how I stood for one hour.

This illicited no comment from SR other than perhaps a smirk.

In reality, I spent today writing a research article for our hospital's yearly report.

There is, in my house, and I believe many places in the world, the misconception that becoming more flexible makes you weaker or is otherwise dangerous.

I remember doing a physiology lab where we discussed the different factors that can contribute to muscle strength and... the longer the muscle, the more strength potential you have. I'm not saying that just because you have long muscles that they are strong, but the longer muscle is capable of becoming stronger than the shorter one. (please tell me if my logic is flawed!) It thus of course follows that if the weight carried is the same, speed will increase!

And the hotter the tendons and muscles - the more you can stretch them.

This is why Bikram Yoga works for improving running times. Or at least, this is my preception of it.

Runners (and cyclists) spend way too much time all cramped up in a ball. If they could stretch out their muscles more, they could unlock their potential.

I was swimming yesterday and had a neuromuscular epiphany. After hours the previous days of stretching my arms above my head and other arm stretching activities in yoga, I was finally able to REACH my arm WAY out in front of me, just as I have been told repeatedly to do. I didn't consciously try to do it. It just happened and my lap times improved dramatically. I think my body just did it because my shoulders and upper arms were no longer cramped like usual.

Don't believe this will also work for running? Fair enough.

But here is the website of Lene Hjelmsø, a Danish woman who just represented Denmark in the half marathon World Championships. She has a recently set a half marathon PR of 1:16:52. She was the fastest female Dane at the World Championships. And what does she practice regularly other than Bikram Yoga?

N of 1? Perhaps.

In other news, would you believe I haven't run since the marathon? I feel like someone is sticking a knife into my right calf. No running - none - until that knot is gone.

This is apparently not an injury I can "run through". But I honestly don't think any running overuse injuries can be run through.

And now, a Mattias Montage from our bike ride around Næstved this evening.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Sydkyst Marathon: Afteryear on the Danish Coast

When you say "no matter what happens, I'll get a marathon PR" your imagination simply can not stretch far enough to imagine all of the things that could go wrong. I knew that when I said it, but still figured I was above the fray and the problems of the uninitiated.

The Tuesday before the race, I ran Yasso 800's. They predicted a 3:08 marathon time and it was on a terribly windy day, with actual barricades that had been blown on to the track that were too heavy for me to move as I sprinted past.

Thursday, I went on a hill run for nearly two hours with SR. When we returned my calf and right hip were killing me. This meant I needed two things: at least one class of Bikram yoga and a wicked massage on the knot in my right calf. I managed to find time for both on Friday. I am so happy to have found a talented sports massage therapist in Næstved - who not only dug really deep, but also used acupuncture needles to loosen the knot in my leg. Her quote "I have never seen a knot that big - in a leg!" I told her that SR and I had been worried the knot was an extra bone. She wasn't sure if I was joking. Neither was I.

 The day of the race, SR still didn't know if he was going to go for a PR or run slow and pace me.
SR in cold, wet, beachy parking lot, almost ready for race start.
The Sydkyst Marathon is a medium-sized Danish Marathon in the costal town of Greve, just south of Copenhagen. It seems impossible that with just over 120 marathon runners, that this is medium-sized, but nonetheless. Remember, Annette Fredskov holds a marathon every day, usually with only three participants.

It felt like we knew almost everyone there, that is until all of the runners of the half marathon, quarter marathon, 5k and kids race started showing up. Well over 500 runners in all.

A good friend of ours from Næstved, Morten Pihlsbech, said he was planning on running at 3:10 pace and wanted to pace me. He said his friend Mikkel wanted to help. Our plan was to run at 4.:35 min/mile all the way. Great! This was exactly what I needed on this terribly windy day.

At the startline, another woman, Louise, asked if she could run with us. I asked what her goal time was. She said 3:26. I've never been one to feign well, anything, so I simpy said we'd be running at 3:10 pace and she was welcome to run along.

Soon we were off into the head wind and I hid the whole of my existence in the small of Morten's back. Louise on the other hand did not seem much for the drafting idea. Right around 1km she dropped back. I was carefully eyeing my watch and we were doing 4:15 min per km. It felt okay, but then again, this was breakneck speed for an entire marathon. I couldn't do this, even if it meant saying good bye to my pacers after only 3km. I let go as soon as we were out of the headwind. At this point, SR was still right ahead of me and I simply imagined he was starting out easy, taking time to devise a plan. I do wish he'd start out fast from the start! It makes me so nervous when he does that!

The rest of my race went basically like this: (the route is 1 quarter marathon run 4 times)
Loop 1: 46:40
Loop 2 (half marathon): 1:34:06 (figured I was right on track for a 3:10 marathon here)
Loop 3: oh my lord, let the rain come down - and the wind!! How can there be so much rain and wind at once?! (this is the Danish Afteryear in it's full glory - afteryear/efterår does mean Fall or course). There was not a soul I could draft off of and there was still a woman (not Louise) just minutes behind me. Can't remember my time on this loop...
Loop 4: I'm not sure if it was pain in my right leg that was holding me back or just extreme stiffness. My pace was slowing. I think I am pretty good at ignoring those pain signals from my leg, but it was like the legt just wasn't working right.

Then - with 3km left to go - I TOOK A WRONG TURN. This was the 4th time I had run the route and yet I still took a wrong turn. I pretty quickly realized, but knew that what had looked to be a huge PR was now a PR in jeopardy! I could not afford to make any more mistakes now.

Finish Line Phenomenon

I am sure a lot of you have heard of the phenonmenon of athletes seeing the finish line and then collapsing before crossing it. (this famously happened to Brian Morrisson who was about to win Western States but collapsed on the track). I was rounding the corner to the finish with ½km to go and I lost control of the muscles in my neck. My head whipped back and I blacked out. I propped my head up with my hands and I could see light again. I was terrified, yet I knew I could not fall over now. I held my head up with my hands all the way across the finish line. And my time was 3:16:20. What a weird way to set a PR.

I still had the wherewithall to try to take my hand away from my neck for the camera as I neared the finish line.

Here I am with Tanja from Germany (2nd) and Louise (3rd). I won a 600 kr. gift certificate to Ski&Run! 
SR. He ran a good, smart race and managed a 15 second PR in tough conditions with a time of 2:48:06. He took third for the men in a really close race. The winner Vix Steen ran in 2:45 and also set a PR.

All in all, a wonderful morning. We were among friends and had a chance to run a race together, which we always really enjoy.


In other news, we are as ever attempting to plan our future. SR got this in an email yesterday and I had to share.

The above is apparently the ideal life of a Hospitalist physician. In Illinois. Okay - has Dr. Dad seriously spent so much time in scrubs that he does not realize his t-shirt is three sizes too big? And what about their bikes? They are all going to end up with knee problems because their seats are so low!!! And he's a DOCTOR:

Is this our future?

I have such a negative view of the medical world right now. "They are all pawns in the hands of big drug companies" is something I can be found saying at least daily about other physicians. And yet living with me is a physician and my husband who saves peoples' lives from cancer on a daily basis.

And yet - I am drawn to the idea of being a Bikram yoga teacher. I am simply amazed by the healing power it seems to have. In fact, I am so addicted to it that I wonder if somehow I am being brainwashed. I would love to do research on the efficacy of it for healing in sports injuries and many other muskuloskeletal conditions come to mind that I am certain it would help with. I looked in to prior research related to Bikram yoga - and I found one group of researchers - in Fort Collins, CO. I couldn't help but seeing this as some sort of sign that - yes - we are supposed to move there. Ane I know SR is interested - as long as he can find a good job there.