Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Monday 28 May 2012

Med City Half Marathon minus the Med

If you are a Wisconsinite, your chances of signing up for a marathon that isn't cancelled are currently very low:

La Crosse
Green Bay
Madison (added to the list today)

We happened to choose the Med City Half today (Rochester, MN), where they gladly accepted transfers from the Madison Marathon and announced there would be "no cap" on the number of runners allowed. (perhaps this was a way of the Mayo Clinic saying they could handle the emergencies?!)

Anyway, with nearly 3000 runners, there was a very frantic scene at the busses in Rochester this morning when they suddenly realized we needed to pack into the busses in a highly illegal and sweaty way in order to tranport all the runners to the start in Byron Minnesota, 13 miles to the west, by 7 am. It looked like everyone made it.

This race would be tough. Very strong headwinds (how often do winds come out of the east, seriously?) and a high projected in the 90's. It is a hilly course on roads with a net downhill. I lined up with  Jen, from the blog Marathon Mom, very nice, cool girl even in real life. I had to point out this woman to her at the startline, whose physique, I couldn't help but admire.
Maybe you can't tell how tall and thin she is in the photo, but she just looks like someone who will take charge of a race and she did. She took first for the women and 5th overall in 1:22. Her name is Laura Brostolon and she is from Connecticut.

She was only 4 minutes behind this guy, who ran in 1:18:20. He had a good race, though is probably in 1:14 shape minus the headwind. Here he is holding a big sponge.
My race was unremarkable, other than my attempts to draft off of men around me like a big, prickly burr on their back. I think they liked it.

I ran a pretty even-tempo'd race and came in with the 1:35 pacer to take 4th for the women (out of 509 women).... (actually the pacer, Kelly, let me finish ahead for her and then she showed up as taking 4th in the official results because of her chiptime- how naive of me to think that pacers didn't get a placement!) I think this could be considered a relative PR, since my current PR is 1:33. SR and the leading men estimated one could take at least 4 minutes from the finish time if there weren't a headwind and high temps. That would land me at about a 1:31, which is a lot faster than I thought I could run right now.

I didn't even think I could run a 1:35 today, especially given my ITB, which amazingly, didn't bother me during the race. Let's just say I'm getting excited for the full marathon at Grandma's June 16th.

Another thing that went well for me this race was I had no stomach issues! I made the big decision on Tuesday to go off the PPI (stomach acid blocking med) that I have been on since I was 19 years old! I got acupuncture to help prevent the pain of the rebound acid on Thursday. And now it seems that it was all of that inadequately digested food being sent from my stomach to my intestines that was causing a lot of my distress. Plus now I actually get heartburn when I eat things I shouldn't - and that might be a good thing!

There are no pictures of me posted yet, so I will leave you with the guy who I aspire to be like when I am 60:

The men's 3rd place winner, David Kallmes, who ran in 1:21:12

Recommended in Rochester: Fiksdal Hotel &
Goonie's Comedy Club - try the bean burger with peanut butter!

Tuesday 22 May 2012

short article - advice needed!

Dear Friends and Anonymi:

 After a somewhat unusual sequence of events, I have been asked by the head editor at the journal American Family Physician to write a brief (250 words or less) synopsis of my experience with pregnant marathon running. This has not been easy to summarize in 250 words! But since I have this blog, I have the luxury of showing it to some people who know a thing or two about this subject. I would be so grateful for feedback. Being harsh is preferable to pretending you like it when you don't. Thank you.

It wasn’t like me to be so winded going uphill or have to stop to walk as I neared the marathon finish line. It was a relief (and a thrill) when the pregnancy test came back positive. 

 This was the first of six marathons I would run during my pregnancy. I had no chance of beating Ingrid Christiansen’s pregnant marathon record of 2:33, set when three months pregnant in 1982. I ran mine at a comfortable pace, with friends by my side, in times of 4:34, 4:19, 4:18 and 4:56 between 10 and 27 weeks of pregnancy. 

When I was 30 weeks pregnant, my midwife agreed I could run The Copenhagen Marathon. Spectators screamed from street corners and hung out of windows to catch a glimpse of my belly. Around mile 16, I started getting Braxton Hicks contractions, though they eventually became less pronounced and I made it across the finish line in 4:54. 

 My recovery from that marathon was long, but I was glowing for weeks. I was overwhelmed by the positive feedback I received, including that of multiple women who had already run or went on to run their own pregnant marathons. I felt I had played a small part in a movement empowering women to continue running, even long distances, while pregnant. 

 After 39 weeks, our beautiful, little son was born. And even today, I can’t help looking at him and thinking, “you were there with me, all of those wonderful miles.”

Sunday 20 May 2012

I finally finished a race!

Since the Mad City 50k on March 31st, I have been recovering. Slowly. And today was the first day I knew I was ready for the race I was about to run.

Granted, I knew nothing about the  Morris Challenge 5k , except that the proceeds went to a scholarship fund. They changed the route this year, as I found out at the start, to be on trails from Holmen, through the woods down to the Mississippi and back up again. Good switch from all pavement. But this of course meant I could forget that PR idea.

Having gotten up at 5:30 am for an 8 am race meant I had time to run the entire route before the race started. I found this to be hugely advantageous. I took some pictures of the hills just to prove it was a tough course, but it turned out they were videos and not pictures. There was a significant net downhill on the way out and, as you could probably calculate, the reverse on the way back.

By the time the start rolled around, it seemed my stomach had finally calmed down (yes, problems, again). I really hoped that I wouldn't have to stop in the woods in front of all these people.

There were ??? 100 ??? starters and lots of representatives from both the River City Running Club and the Bluff Busters Tri Club. My friend Ron and I decided we'd both run it in about 21 minutes.
Above is a picture from the beginning. The first quarter mile was run around Holmen Park so we woulnd't have too much of a bottleneck problem on the trail. I ran the first two thirds of the race behind a guy going about 6:40 pace. This seemed reasonable. After the turnaround I could see the next woman was about a minute back. I pulled ahead of the guy I had been running with with about a mile to go. He cheered me on, which I loved. There is always something that is the limiting factor at the end of a hard-run 5k. Today it was my stomach. Despite a 50 mile bike ride the day before, my legs were okay and my ITB was a bit sore, but didn't hold me back. I willed myself up the terrible last ascent and made it across the finish line in 20:56 (6:44 min/mile pace).

I had won for the women, which was nice, because there were prizes,
(thanks for the skirt, Olga!!) but what I really wanted to know was what my real time would have been on a flat course. I talked to the male leaders and the guy who had won in 18:10 had just recently run a flat 5k 40 seconds faster. So given my longer time, my calculations say I can run a 5k in perfect conditions in just over 20 minutes right now. This is NOT where I want to be. But where we want to be and where we are rarely line up. It's like a solar ecplipse, I guess.

I loved this trail and I got an awesome workout. Those are reasons enough to come. I got a free chiropractic maniplulation and massage on my ITB post race. (perhaps the best treatment to date!! from Dr. Julie at  revive  in Onalaska). And I learned from ecologist, Ron, that many islands in Asia and Indonesia have lost almost all of their rainforests due to the harvesting of tree pulp for TOILET PAPER.

Is it reasonable to make a family switch to clothes/cloths (sp??? - not like running shorts) that we wash out and then hang to dry? What would the guests say? (seriously, look this up - it is true)
By the way, if I ever run with music again, I'll be sure to let you know!! (I bet this is just a phase)

I will leave you with the Mattias pic of the day.

Thursday 17 May 2012

It's log

Everyone wants a log. It's better than bad; it's good.
-Ren & Stimpy

I've never been the type to keep a running log. But this week has just been special.

Plus, I heard a quote on the radio that went like this: writing about boxing is like writing about yourself and I figure that must apply to writing about running, too, right? (try not to get mowed over by sweeping generalizations)

Saturday: run 26 miles on Ice Age Trail 50 route.
Sunday: swim for 1 hour with Onalaska adult swim team. During the 50 meter intervals, I beat my old record of 53 seconds on one with a 50 meters in 50 seconds (thank you coach Francis!). Woohoo! That was during a set of 6. And I was presented with a team swim hat on the same day. Then spinning for 45 min. Run 6 miles.
Monday: 17 mile run despite wicked e.coli, 20 min bike with kids in trailer.
Tuesday: run 2 mile warmup, ½ mile intervals on flat dirt trail with half mile markers! (2 min rest)
                 1. 3:20
                 2. 3:22
                 3. 3:10
                 4: 3:17
                 5: 3:16
                 6: 3:23
                 7: 3:18
                2.5 mile cooldown
                group strength training class, 40 min bike with friend, quick swim, 20 min bike with kids
Wednesday: 19 mile slowspiritual run with SR, 20 min bike with kids.

Total: 76 miles run in 5 days! I'm finally running again and just in time for the good weather. I should mention that I can't do hills, though. The left ITB can't take them yet.

The above was the first set of intervals I had run in 17 weeks. Oh my gosh does time fly! I am so happy to be able to run them again. I wasn't thrilled with the times, but I haven't lost as much ground as I had feared.

Aside: I have been rethinking the two minute break thing again in intervals. Basically, I think the rest should start at 1 min and get progressively longer after each interval. If the point is for the rest to get the pulse down and lactic acid flushed out, it should take progressively longer time. I don't know who came up with the idea of each rest period being of the same length. Doesn't make sense to me.

Diastasis Recti

I have to thank Brianna for mentioning diastasis recti as a possible explanation for my belly pooch since Mattias' birth. I had not thought of it (though SR said he had suspected it when I mentioned it to him). I just looked online and did the test for it where you lean back into a crunch position and attempt to fit three fingers between your abdominal muscles above your belly button. I could exactly fit three, so I guess this means I just meet the criteria for having diastasis recti. From what I read, my goal of setting the world record in plank holding may need to be reevaluated as planks seem to be the number one exercise for making the condition worse (I have to wonder if that is part of the reason I got this- and why it didn't go away). I have to be honest that I am not going to modify my exercising, though, because I am kind of fond of my pooch belly as long as it is not a sign of something malignant inside of me.

I found this website helpful. They are trying to sell stuff, though.

Edit (May 17th)- right after I finished this post, I forced SR into a crunch position on the floor and I measured the width between his rectus abdominus muscles above his belly button and it was actually WIDER than 3 finger widths. What does this mean? Either 1. Poor SR has diastasis recti, too or 2. I am actually normal (but perhaps have thin fingers?) or 3. I have mild diastasis recti and the normal width in males in wider.


Heard and read in La Crosse, WI:

said: "grody to the max!"
written: "What is your favorite past time?"

(to the second, I don't think they wanted my answer, which was "The Renaissance")

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Ice Age Trail 50

I did it! And by that, I mean I did half of it.

But running 26 miles of hills must be a sign that I am almost completely recovered from the IT band injury.

Just 2 days prior to the IAT 50 miler, I decided I'd give it a whirl. Basically, Alicia Hudelson had been bullying me via Facebook messages to run it. Yes, the last time you all heard from me, I managed a measly 9 miles at the Chippewa 50k. So why, two weeks later, would I attempt a 50 miler? Well, the coolest thing happened: a little over a week ago, I went to a massage therapist who kneeded out the knot in my left quad over a half an hour. An hour later, my entire upper left leg was in burning pain and turned dark blue (the front and back). The next day I was sore, but could actually run normally again. We spent this past week in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. at an ophthalmology conference (ARVO) and I ran about 13 miles a day every day without a hint of pain (on pancake flat routes, of course)! I had no idea what the upper limit was, so, since my mom had agreed to babysit Mattias and SR was taking The Lorax back to La Crosse, the conditions for running were nothing short of ideal.

The start, north of La Grange, is about a 45 minute drive south of my parents' house. I had not tapered, did not eat much the day before and was not mentally or physically prepared to run 50 miles. But my drop bags were prepared, as was my running belt. The morning of the race, I was energetic and, in my humble opinion, looking good. I slept well the night before, but had to pull over our minivan "Busboos" twice on the drive there as I scampered into some bushes with stomach issues.

 The start: wow 350 racers for a 50 miler!! And on one website I had been listed among the female contenders to win. Who knew. Maybe this would be my day.

Female Parts

The first 9 miles are on hilly cross-country ski trails. My stomach was working against me. Not many places to hide; I had to give intstructions to the people passing me: "Don't look!". I came out of this section having run between 8 and 8:30 minute per mile pace and on pace to run around 7h30min. I knew the race would get more technical, but I made the decision at that point that if my ITB forced me to a pace that would take me over 8 hours, I would drop. Sounds ambitious, but either this was going to be a big 50 mile PR or I was saving my lags for another race.


When you are injured, drugs are tempting. A guy I ran with had been struggling this year with ITB problems and said he had hyrdrocortisone injections waiting for him in both drop bags and someone willing to inject him at these aid stations. Is this just common practice nowadays for a physician to prescribe hydrocortisone to get an athlete through a race? As Triumph the dog from Conan might say "that is a great idea... for me to poop on." Yeah, like if that physician's goal is to have his patient prolong his recovery and risk more injury, then, yeah, that is great practice.

Rock & Roll

I came through the half marathon in 1:51. I was making good time and really enjoying myself. The course is so beautiful. Even as a Wisconsinite, who should be used to this stuff, I found myself saying out loud many times how gorgeous the course was - and it is!! Esker lookouts, pine needle trails, wildflowers. The "rock & roll" part was a woman who very insistantly passed me and my running buddy and then tripped over a rock and took a fall right in front of us. But later it would be my turn, as the ITB started to tighten... I did a root and roll. Oh and, by the way, headphones were not allowed, so sorry in advance about the lack of running song!


By mile 15, my left quad was feeling a little tight. I had a gu and the tightness went away. I found it interesting the number of people who recommmended sugar or calories as the best pain killer. There might be something to this. But 20 miles, the tightness was back and the downhills were uncomfortable. I made the decision to drop- at some point- reminding myself there was a long season still ahead and goal races should be saved for the uninjured me. I was passed by a woman from Ohio who was very nice and who I had run with in the beginning (wish I knew her name). And then the leaders started coming through on their way back from the 22 mile turn around. Zach Bitter, who had won the Mad City 50k was in the lead. The two leading women were not women I recognized. Turns out it was Denise Bourassa and Melanie Peters (who would go on to take first and second, respectively. I could not believe that there were 8 women ahead of me despite me being on pace to beat last year's winning time! What competition! At mile 24, I started walking the downhill and this is when I decided to drop at the next aid station. I ran/hobbled to mile 26 with a guy from Juneau, AK and a guy from Madison.

Only at a race like IAT can you have such an awesome day and only finish half of the race.

Here, at about mile 18 is Sandi Nypaver, last year's winner, being closely chased by this year's winner, Denise Bourassa.
Denise ended up winning by a wide margin in 7:13. Sandi was third, clearly affected by the fast early pace, finishing about 15 minutes slower than last year.


As long as I almost have the entire Red Hot Chili Peppers album here, I had better keep going. Yes, sex is what got me these two.

I was a proud mom on mother's day biking around La Crosse with my babies. On days like yesterday, I sit and look at them completely dumbfounded .. how did this miracle end up happening? I went through most of high school, all of colllege and all of med school without menstruating - had written off the idea of ever getting pregnant- and then...

I will leave you with some pictures from Fla. I love writing Fla.

Like, oh my God(!), why does my belly always pooch out like this? I'm not being  (only) vain, I have more been worrying lately that I have ovarian cancer or something since people keep asking me if I'm pregnant. (I'm not) But then all last night and today, I ENTIRELY evacuated my GI tract due to a TERRIBLE bout of either E. coli or Salmonella, probably from fresh veggies and suddenly my belly was flat. (I also ran 17 miles in the midst of it). Despite having gained weight recently - up to 108 lbs, I hit my lifetime low with all of the dehydration: 101.6 lbs- but I figured this was good training for the very hot summer ultras. On a slightly related note, I have made some major changes to my diet, including a lot more protein from fish and I think this also has helped my leg to heal. 
This was the view from the penthouse hotel room we were given because the guests who were supposed to get it didn't show up.

So what is next, you ask:
Morris Challenge 5k this Saturday
½ marathon (Med City) May 27th
Got Energy Olympic distance tri June 10th
Grandma's marathon June 16th (thanks again, Alicia and see you there Divesh... and Steve Q?)