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

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


Julie said...

Congratulations on the new job! It sounds amazing and custom made for you. I've heard of runners going blind or near it long into an ultra but haven't experienced it myself, thankfully.

mmmonyka said...

Super cool! Congrats.

But I am totally confused about what exactly you do. You have already finished your PhD from Copenhagen U?
And weren't you doing some kind of research about yoga? I really have no idea.
I do not know whether it is me not fully understanding what becoming/being an American physician means or you changing your mind often.

sea legs girl said...

No - it's a good question Mmmonyka. I'm still doing the yoga research. And I'll be done with my Ophthalmlology PhD in less than a year from Univ of Cop., but you need to apply 2 years ahead of time for residency spots in the US! That's what I'm starting to work on and this Western States research project just came up in that pursuit. Does that make sense?

Coach Jen said...

Wow, what a great fit for you! I run into the same trying to set up sites to finish my clinical hours physicians are receptive but the admin types either ignore or send a simple No :(

sea legs girl said...

Hi Jen- yeah, exactly. I just decided to erase that whole section, though. Too complicated and I don't want generate ill will towards certain hospitals for no reason :o).

Alicia Hudelson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

This is awesome! A totally made-for-you opportunity. I'm excited for you:)

--Alicia (who can't figure out how to take her full name off the default setting...)

Olga said...

So, it means you'll spend June in Squaw Valley prior and post WS100 for the research itself, then go back to finish PhD, then once that done, come back hopefully admitted to UC-Davis as a Postdoc continuing on that subject under Marty? (who, by the way, is an awesome guy! great runner, and had done a lot of research at WS on various endurance stuff).
There were many cases of vision loss (full or partial) lately in endurance sports. May be there were as many before, but social media wasn't as developed, so we didn't know about most. May be it's due to en-masses coming to the sport and that first of increased a sheer number of people with complications (as sheer number of participants increased), as well as due to lots of those en-masses coming under-trained and in not best health conditions (back couple decades ago endurance was for a small population who were healthy and somewhat gifted, now it's an almost epidemic, for better or worse).
I am sure you'll enjoy every star sighting - and research - and history.

mmmonyka said...

I also did some research about how you become a doctor in the US and now it makes sense.
I also though that you were done with your residency, or at least partially because that's what you were doing when you met SR, wasn't it? But I suppose that now that you want to do something different you need to do the whole residency thing from the beginning.
So you do those researches somehow to get experience to be able to get into a good residency program, it is not what you will do for the rest of your life as a full time job, you eventually might want to work as a physician and therefore you need to get through residency program, right?
I think that now I understand what you do much better. I thought that you were just totally clueless about what you want to do when you grow up and therefore starting a new project every few months, but that's not the case.

sea legs girl said...

Olga-you are the best. (I have emailed you, as you saw :o))

sea legs girl said...

Impressive Mmmonyka! Yes, you just about have it figured out better than I do. I have been going back and forth for years now about what specialty to apply for after I am done with the PhD. I DID start an ophthalmology resideny in the US after I completed my internship. (I actually met SR during my internship and his residency). I had to drop out of my ophthalmology program when I learned I was pregant and would be working 80 hours a week alone with a baby without maternity leave. Having the "drop out" on my record is going to make finding a spot next time a lot more difficult, whatever specialty I choose. The first time I applied, I got my first choice specialty at my first choice hospital like I was just waving a magic wand. This time I will have to work harder (despite being more qualified) to get a residency. And yes, I do want to do clinical medicine again. And I want most to do Physical Medicine & Rehab.

Danni said...

That's exciting! If I get into WS (doubtful) I will do your study.

Jonnifer said...

Hi. I ran WS100 this year and had vision loss. Luckily I finished it.I hope this project will push through as until now I haven't figured out what happened. You can find out more my condition in (kindly search WS100 race report).

Thiis reminds me of similar situation for elite TNF runner Sebastian Chagneau who had to pull out of UTMB this year because of vision problem.

Thanks and more power!

Jon (Clark Philippines)

Diana said...

Congrats on the new research project. That sounds like it was tailor-made for you.
My best friend lives in Davis, and I've been there a million times. Let me know if you want information on the area. It sounds like you've got your information network covered already, though.
So happy for you. It sounds like everything is really coming together!

sea legs girl said...

Hi Jon! Thank you so much for the comment. I read the entire report. Yes, I do think that is exactly the kind of vision loss Marty Hoffman has been wondering about. I have a million questions - like for example if it was both eyes and if you had ever had it happen before. I can see you have an email address on your blog so I'll contact you.