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

Friday 30 March 2012

Q&A with famous ultra runner

Hi Sea Legs Girl! Thanks for agreeing to doing this interview. How are you?
Well, I had really bad diarrhea this morning, but otherwise I'm lovely and looking forward to spending the weekend in Madision with my family. Plus I like the fact that my own blog is interviewing me.

In Madison? So you are running the Mad City 50k just 3 weeks after 3 Days of Syllamo?
Yeah, well, a week ago I actually couldn't walk due to bleeding into my lateral quadriceps muscle on my left leg which caused my knee to lock up anytime I went a little downhill and then I would either wobble or fall over. But it doesn't hurt anymore. We'll see how far I can run tomorrow before the pain comes back. I'm treating this as a training race even though it is the Wisconsin championship in the 50k. I would after all like a plaque in the shape of Wisconsin, but that is probably not going to happen tomorrow unless I buy one. To tell you the truth, I would most like a plaque in the shape of Hawaii because it would have to be attached by so many strings.

Do you have any goal races for the year?

Well, last night I found out I got into The Ice Age 50 Miler, so that is my new goal. Cassie Scallon also got in off the wait list, though, so my chances of placing in the top two and getting into Western States are pretty slim. My other two big goals are Voyageur 50 miler and by default Challenge Copenhagen Ironman. I say by default because you can't do an Ironman "just for training", can you?

I don't know SLG, if you don't define the rules of endurace athletics, who does?
Good point.

Speaking of which, what is the coolest endurance sport?
Biathlon. I say this never having tried it. Our plan as a couple was to really get into it this past winter, but there was no snow.

What is the geekiest endurace sport?

Don't even ask...

You wrote about losing a lot of weight and being anorexic and dealing with mania and anxiety. How is that going?

First of all, I am a lot happier now that we have settled into life in La Crosse. And after we got back from Syllamo, life just got a lot calmer. But if I could get a neurosurgeon to ablate that part of my brain that causes anxiety and ocd, I think that would be a good option for me and my family (it's probably like that little spot right next to the amygdala! - go for it!). Otherwise, I've noticed that just forcing myself to do highly distracting things like reading, working on my PhD and playing music are very effective. But the biggest thing that has changed is I tell myself to see every day as a gift so I don't waste it. As far as the weight is concerned, I have lost more weight and think I look ugly (in fact it is to the point where I am embarrassed to go out into public, but I feel good and I don't have the desire to eat more). Are you going to ask me any more anxiety-inducing questions?

No, um, what is your biggest fear?
Ha! That Alicia Hudelson will beat me at The Chippewa 50k.

What world record would you like to set?
I would like to hold a plank for the longest. The current world record is 33 min and 40 seconds.

What would you do if you weren't a professional ultramarathon runner?
But I'm not a...

Oh yeah, that's right. The reason I read your blog is because you have like the cutest kids in the blogosphere. Do you have any pictures of them?

Geez. I can't find my camera. Wasn't there any other reason you read my blog? ... Ok, I'll go look for the camera.

Oh, good:

Thursday 15 March 2012

The fertile muck (& brush with death #2)

I wanted to call these next two pictures "the fertile muck". But, as I told that to SR, he looked at me, clearly thinking "what is that supposed to mean?" Ok, I really don't know what it is supposed to mean, but I know the kind of feeling it evokes. And I like it.

These are pictures taken immediately following the 50 miler, which again was the day after the 50k at Three Days of Syllamo. I had no clue how dehydrated I was at the time and that within the hour, I'd be blind and nearly puking from dehydration, laying on the shower floor. Thank God the body has these automatic mechanims to keep us alive- while our loved ones run for water. And thank God water did the trick. I was so scared. I even thought I should utter my farewell to SR.

Writing about the myriad other injuries I suffered from and the 16 falls over the three days, two of which involved hitting my head on a rock, seem trite now. And who on earth would complain after a race like this? It was, as I said on Facebook, perhaps my favorite vacation to date. Maybe my favorite race, too. Not because I think I deserve to be tortured (see Danni's blog post) but because this is absolutely the way to experience life.

I just wish it could be more or a whole family experience.

Here we are arriving in Blanchard Springs, AR, not really knowing what to expect.

But by the next day the weather was sunny and perfect.

Below I momentarily accomplish a move that belongs in a Devo or Daft Punk video, at around mile 27 of the 50 miler.

The Lorax, in the meantime, was having quite a picnic with a ham & mayo sandwich, yogurt, and I am not going to get angry about the cola (and assume he said "no thank you" to it). The Lorax and I had a bit of a falling out on the trip, where he told me I should probably just stay at the hotel in Chillicothe, MO, while he drive home with SR and my mom. But I have subsequently gotten two "I love you Mommy"'s, one because I checked out Diego in the Snow for him at the library and the other because I took him to his violin lessons.
Here is my mom, who perpetually looks younger and happier than me (I).
But one must admit, that despite these experiences being immensely enjoyable, they take a big toll on the body. It would be nice to find a Three Days of Syllamo lifestyle that was more compatible with longterm survival.The day after the race, I had a half an hour crying spell for no reason and I hurt so badly everywhere that I couldn't walk. The next day, I broke out into a cold sweat at the library alone with the two boys. I rushed home with them before the real deal hit, and shook on the couch for two hours with what is the highest, scariest fever I can remember (again, I was close to calling 911), while the boys cried in fear and evetually both fell asleep. I would say it was the flu, but I was fine the next day. So I don't know what it was. But I don't think it can be chalked up to The Ides of March.

The next day (yesterday), we had a great day.

SR and I bought road bikes (ours are still in Denmark - they are hard to ship as Mmmonyka knows). I am thrilled with this used "Litespeed" which I got for $999. I would love to have the cheapest bike at the High Cliff half iron man, but I guess that is unlikely. I have also now entered the world of click-in pedals.

Natali joined us for a bike ride in this amazing weather we're having. And she informed me that all of her friends have at least 300 followers on their blogs - and they don't even write anything. (I am clearly doing something wrong)

But even if no one is reading this, I will always be able to look back and smile.

Now go wish Piccola Pinecone congrats on her baby girl!!

Poem of the day

The Fertile Muck by Irving Layton
(just one stanza, but the whole poem is great)

How to dominate reality? Love is one way;
imagination another. Sit here
beside me, sweet; take my hard hand in yours.
We’ll mark the butterflies disappearing over the hedge
with tiny wristwatches on their wings:
our fingers touching the earth, like two Buddhas.

Running song of the day (fellow Canadians of Piccolo and Irving)
SR and I don't usually agree on literature or music, but we do agree on Tegan & Sara
"I Know I Know I Know" by Tegan and Sara

Happy 5 year anniversary, SR!!!!

Sunday 11 March 2012

Three Days of Syllamo 2012, now with a few pictures

I could say these past three days have been like a dream, but I have never had close to this much fun in a dream. 95 miles in 3 days in running shoes with marked trails and aid stations. This may just be the best way to discover a new area of the world. And the Ozarks are gorgeous.

After a race like this, It feels almost wrong mentioning placement since this mattered so little compared to the whole experience, but you guys might be curious (like I am when I read other blogs)

But first, I was wrong about the elevation change. It was. 26,000 ft over the 95 miles. I forgot you don't add the ups and downs since it is a measure of net change. Sorry!

Friday 50 km: 5:22
Sat 50 miles (80 km): 10:20
Sunday 14 miles: 2:30


Second place female after Ashley Nordell, who someone like me does not mind losing to. And this is technical, hilly running. I love uphills, but boulders, slick rocks and cliffs are not my forte. Ashley is good at all of it.

SR ran the 50k and the 14 miler in 4:13 and 1:52. He won both.

Congrats to Nick Lewis, who won for the men, Darrin Schneidewind took second. Ashley Nordell was third overall (and yes, Piccola Pinecone, winning outright means winning overall - also for the men :) . Have you had a baby yet??).

This race far exceeded both of our expectations. It was low-key. These people were there because they love running on trails. Meghan Hicks, Rob Wehner, Paul Schoenlaub, Mindy Coolman, I'm talking about you - thanks for entertaining me on the trails and at dinner.

This trip was made so much better because I realized what a huge gift this was from my parents that a couple with two kids could run this. And over and over on the trails I told myself not to waste this chance. And it worked. I really enjoyed it and forgot about stress. Ha and weight. Wow you need a lot of calories to run fast that far. Everything just clicked this weekend, as they say.

No music all race except for the bluegrass band at dinner. Did ya'll know the city of Mountain View, just below the race start and where we stayed, was founded by musicians who came down the mountain to meet with other musicians and play? And they have a store dedicated to dulcimers.

Here are the first few pictures from my mom's iPhone.

This was after the fifty km. I arrived an hour earlier than we had expected so I had already gone down and waded in the ice cold river by the time my family arrived. That's why I have no socks on. I am sold on the ice cold bathing, though it really hurts the feet. It was the first time I tried it and it seemed to work wonders.

Mattias is waiting for me to finish the fifty miler. Boy was he happy when I arrived. And I finished about 20 minutes earlier than I expected because a gal named Mindy Coolman came out of nowhere and blew by me with about 6 miles to go, running fast. She is a nutrionist and I wonder if that has something to do with the fact she finished super strong in the fifty miler. I went beyond what my body could handle and stayed with her until there very end, where she pulled ahead.

Here is the fifty mile finish and I am freezing! I kept saying "wow! It got cold" and my family gave me weird looks. I breast fed Mattias and soaked my leg, drank a diet root beer.

When we arrived at our cabin, I headed straight to the shower because I was so cold and when the hot water hit me the world went white and I fell over, never completely losing consciousness. I yelled for SR to bring me water. Either it was dehydration or heart failure, I thought. "Take me to the ER I yelled!", worried these were my last seconds on earth if we didn't act fast. After I lay down and drank a half a glass of water, I felt a little better. I just kept drinking - all sorts of beverages until I could stand up and then until I could urinate and then I knew I was ok- and ready to run, or at least attempt to, the next day.

I will just add, I had had 14 s caps and drank constantly, but felt nauseated the last 6 miles, trying to keep up with Mindy and got behind on drinking. Just goes to show how careful you have to be in these sorts of races with hydration, especially when it was warm. The reason, of course, I fainted in the shower is I vasodilated when the warm water hit me and there was not enough blood going to my brain. Maybe some people reading this are wondering if that is always the case with me ;).

Thursday 8 March 2012

Aux arks here we come

My first attempt at blogging from an Ipad, so it will be brief!

We are in Missouri and have been following roads close to the Mississippi south from La Crosse, WI to Blanchard Springs, Arkansas: gateway to the Three Days of Syllamo Race in The Ozarks. And who knew Ozarks came from the French aux Arks or aux arcs? Not me.

We are all packed in the Ford Windstar, even my mom, who seems to enjoy making these adventures possible.

SR has been telling me I will win this whole race for months. This whole race is a 50k tomorrow, a 50 miler the next day and a half marathon on Sunday. But Ashley Nordell will win, likely outright. Meghan Hicks will also beat me. But no one will stop me from shining on the inside and outside and loving every aspect of this adventure. Just a question of whether my left foot can endure 50,000feet of elevation change over three days.

SR will run the 50k tomorrow and the half marathon on Sunday. I promise pictures.

Is anyone else totally preoccupied by thoughts about whether or not Piccola Pinecone is in labor?

Tuesday 6 March 2012

The reason my chest looks like b

Just because I'm a doctor does not mean I don't have those mornings where I wake up thinking "I wonder if I have a brain tumor..."

I said to SR before he left for his 24 shift,"My left foot, left calf, left shoulder and left eye all hurt. And now my left breast has stopped producing milk. Do you think they are related?"

"No" he said, quickly gathering his stuff.

So I let go of the brain tumor idea when I could not localize a tumor that would explain all of this. And then I thought, if I forget about the eye, perhaps my back being out of alignment could explain the rest.

Not an hour later a woman walked up to me and exclaimed my first name in the woman's locker room at the Y. Oh my gosh, Kelly, my old chiropractor from when I was pregnant with The Lorax. I hadn't seen her in ages!

I told her my story,:the shoulder, leg, foot and boob on the left. And she said "Oh, yeah, totally! It must be the nerve". Despite me having no idea what nerve she was talking about, I got so swept up in the idea that I also said "oh, yeah!" I called and made an appointment to see her tomorrow. But by the time El Guapo woke up from his nap, there was milk dripping from my left boob.


I just have to add two interesting tidbits:

1. during the about 4 days where my left boob was not producing, the right one doubled in production. Just like that. Take a person who is already extremely self-conscious about how she looks and then add that and you have got a woman in very baggy clothing!

2. The left side is the side that El Guapo sleeps on so it is odd that the left was the side that gave out - but it has always produced less ("the slacker" a la Piccola Pinecone)

I looked up the connection between a nerve and breast milk production, ready to be amazed by yet another fact I didn't learn in med school, only to find no nerve involved in lactation. There was, however a case report from a chiropractor of his amazing restoration of lactation. (My chiropractor could also have written one had my milk come back tomorrow after the appointment, of course).

Cow's milk and babies

As long as we're discussing milk & babies, I had to bring this up. Have you ever been on a transatlantic flight with a 4 month old baby and run out of breast milk and thought about giving the baby the little milk that was included with the dinner? No? Well, then you are smarter than I am. I did this and then could not get rid of this nagging feeling that I had read an article about cow's milk being associated with the development of Type 1 diabetes. I let it go, though, since I figured it was more lack of breastfeeding that predisposed to Type 1 diabetes. Well, that may not be the case, there is some mixed evidence, but one study from Finland (where the incidence of type 1 diabetes is the highest in the world - likely due to lack of vitamin D and NOT sauna sitting during pregnancy!) showed that any exposure of babies less than 2 months to cow's milk increased their risk of type 1 diabetes. And a study in JAMA showed introducing babies to gluten before 6 months also increases their risk of type 1 diabetes. These studies were done in populations with familial type 1 diabetes to show something significant. And there have been studies that have suggested cow's milk is actually ok (as long as it doesn't substitute breast milk), but the verdict is still out. I just thought young mothers should know it's probably best to avoid gluten and milk products until the baby is 6 months.

Oh- and why don't Americans supplement babies with Vitamin D drops?? Or do they (they should, especially dark skinnned babies or babies breast fed by dark skinned moms!)? Not just to help prevent diabetes, but also rickets and hypocalcemia.

Sorry this is a rambling, unorganized post, but time is limited around here!

Monday 5 March 2012

The green balls told me to start dividing by three

And I almost added an exclamation point to the title. Because as we all know, all good ultra runners get so! excited!! and enthusiastic!! about everything!

So I may finally be paying the price for all of my reckless, wanton behavior (I am referring to weight loss and lots of training, of course).

I am injured and my left breast has stopped producing milk.

Or are these the results of training and weight loss?

As you may have noticed (at least Piccola Pinecone noticed and emailed me to see how I did!), I was supposed to run a 5k yesterday. But on Wednesday night, during yogalates of all things, I injured the extensor tendons on the top of my left foot. I repeatedly did a very vigorous cobra that involved my legs not touching the ground - anyone know what I am talking about? And noticed a little pain at the time, but the next morning I could hardly walk! SR said "typical overuse injury!" But I'm not sure. This is the second time I have come home from yogalates injured, though, so I probably should just drop the whole thing. It is just my good friend, Tammy, teaches the class and I really like it while I am not in pain!

SR, on the otherhand, ran the polar dash. Here he is lining up. (Yeah, I'm guessing you can pick him out)

Who do you think his major competition was? Turns out it was a girl you can't see in the picture; the same 15 year old girl, Bailey, I beat by 3 seconds in our last 5k! The course ended up being long by an amount that I don't know. SR had planned to run under 16 minutes and he ran in 16:40. He said one of the "miles" took about 40 seconds longer to run than he had anticipated, but he wasn' t wearing a garmin and neither was Bailey who ran in 20:20 (this is interesting to me since I think it means I would run about a 19:40 5k on a normal day on a course of an actual 5k length. But will that ever happen?)

I have been forced into a mega taper before 3 days of Syllamo this coming weekend due to my foot, which actually doesn't hurt anymore, but no point taking chances. I have been swimming and biking a lot and loving it. I had actually gotten a bit sick of running. My swimming has improved significantly over the past couple of months, but I don't think too many people who read this blog swim. If anyone is interested in details, just let me know. Who really wants advice from me anyway, though?

I had also forgotten what good stress relievers reading and playing music are. I just finished "An Unquiet Mind" by Kay Redfield Jamison. Almost a finish-in-one-sitting quality of a novel, but newborns just don't allow that much uninterrupted reading to ever take place. It was a captivating autobiography of a woman with manic depressive disorder who is an expert on the disease and lecturer on it at Johns Hopkins. Great read. Now I'm onto Da Vinci's Ghost. I was supposed to start reading "Still Alice" for my book club, but the subt
itle "A book about Alzheimers you will never forget" just makes me laugh too much to even open it.

Okay, okay, so these stress relievers are nice and all --- but NOTHING beats running and I can't wait for three days of running in the Ozarks.

Now -- what about the failure of my left breast? So I started making conversation with this woman at the YMCA the other day and then she said "Oh, you're the one who breast feeds in the lobby - and I always think to myself - how can a woman who is as thin as you possibly produce breast milk". Ha. I love blunt honesty. Well, that's evolution, baby! I could have responded, but didn't.

The truth is, I feel healthy and am surprised my boob gave up at this moment. I actually don't weigh myself that often since I don't want to be "falsely reassured" by a low weight and honestly go more on feeling and the distance (if any) between my legs. And I feel just perfect right now. I weighed myself today, though, and I guess the BMI is 17.8. Not that far off from average female olympic marathoner finalists and perhaps just right for me.

Thank you Dr. Khosla for this 1985 study (mutiply BMI's by 10 to get what we now consider BMI)

Also have to point out that I am married to a guy who weighs himself 10x more than I do - and he looks damn good on a treadmill, even when he has to roll up his pants because he forgot his shorts.
This picture was taken entirely without permission and was unethical. A few animals were harmed.

I would also like to mention that I was paid a visit by Alicia Hudelson twice last week and I have found a partner for the Trans Alpine 2013! And so has SR - Alicia's fiancé.

And here is El Guapo with our friends' son, Griffin. They are one day apart in age, light years apart in hair abundance - and that matching cumfy, wumfy northwoods fleece is entirely coincidental! Oh, yeah, this is our house in the picture. And that guy on the left is my husband.

Running songs of the day: