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

Saturday 27 April 2013

Faxe Calcium Mine 8.4 km Run

Alien-created calcium circles - centerpiece of the Faxe Calcium Mine
Yesterday SR and I were out on a 60km bike + 8k run with Kim and Stig from HG Athletic (part of my specified training from Ole for the Mallorca ½ Ironman) when Kim mentioned he was the director of a race in the Faxe Calcium Mine today. Trails, stairs, beautiful views, prizes, not to mention calcium, were all mentioned by Kim. SR and I found ourselves unable to say no - just a 20 minute drive from Næstved and with Natti excited to earn babysitting money, we were set.

1. We left a bit early to run the 4.2 km loop once before the race. Here are some pictures from our test loop. As always, I was so happy we knew the route before racing it. The course was very well marked, but it was so nice to not have to think about it.

Nice, huh? Neither of us had been to Faxe before. We were very pleasantly surprised. Sometimes the best races are well-kept secrets. I'm hoping by writing this, I can help get the word out, though, since I know Kim is interested in turning it into a bigger event. This is the second year it has been run.

At the start area, the 110 registered runners gathered. I was looking for Mette Bøgard, who did not show up. SR was worried about Kenneth Kirkeby showing up- and he did.

SR ended up having a neck and neck, all out battle with Kenneth, some of which I had the pleasure of viewing from afar. In the meantime, I enjoyed an evenly-paced, fun tempo run, mostly all alone. I ran the first 2km drafting off of the 3rd place guy in the headwind section and pulled ahead, the increased my gap while powerwalking the hills. (Olga, I will always think of you when I do this)

And on the second round, I took this last killer hill a bit faster, not as afraid of the lactic acid buildup. SR was there with the camera, after his sprint finish.

And on through town to the finish.

SR just barely beat Kenneth, running in 30:45. I took 1st for the women and 3rd overall in 37:57. (It was hard for me to not get excited about an 11:30 course record for the women, though I don't think this time will be hard to beat if the race is larger next year. SR's may be a bit tougher to beat.)

Do I even need to mention that hat?

We won trophies which stay with the winner for a year and are then passed on to the next- with all years' names engraved. We also each won 150 kr. gift certificates to the sports shop, Sportigan, right on the square. With that, we bought a soccer ball, electrolyte mix and 5 pairs of running socks. Thank you so much to Kim, Anette, Stig and all of the volunteers and fans out on the route! What a great morning!

Something to put on your calendar for next year?

If you're looking for where to surf next, check out the race updates/results from:

Chippewa 50k in Wisconsin, where we are all anxiously awaiting new about Steve Q's performance.

And the Hoka Highland Fling 53 miler in Scotland,where Alicia Hudelson is among the favorites for the women.

Thursday 25 April 2013

Road fear, Sprockets & the Danish national trail ultrarunning team

I guess I have a lot of ground to cover if I am going to talk about all that! Let's see how succinct I can be...

1. Road Fear

I am afraid of racing on the road (as opposed to trails) because I always get injured, get a return of my SI joint dysfunction/piriformis tightness. Rather than looking at my painful experience at BT half marathon as a set-back, I am looking at it as a sign. I need to learn to run correctly. My body can not handle running so many fast miles on pavement with my default running form.

I land- bang, bang, bang on my heals. The shock is absorbed by my hips. The fact that I was wearing hard Vibram shoes at BT did not make this any better.

I thus once again am on the lookout for new running shoes. My coach says Books PureConnect are perfect for pose running on asphalt.
PureConnect forced into uncomfortable yoga position
Pose running looks like this. He is acutally not going to fall. But since he looks like he is, he is doing it right.

Watch the video here (seriously do it): I love this video, partly because it is so clear that it was filmed in Denmark. Not just the buildings, trees and gray sky give it away, but: would a guy in the US get away with filming something that looked like this? It reminds me of

If that video is not working, here is the link (enjoy):

I had learnt the pose running form and then stopped practising. I just kind of got lazy after Fyr til Fyr. When learning to run correctly, you need to consciously think of your form all the time- and it is easy to forget and get lazy. It's about actively lifting your feet and feeling as though you are going to fall forward.

Well, now I am back at it and it is my #1 priority to run with a non-injurious running style, regardless of the time (though of course -whether you call it pose or chi - it is faster because you use the momentum of falling to move you ahead - or as purists would say, you don't put the brakes on yourself every time you land). And this means I will be signing up for some road races as an incentive to keep practising!

Want to know if your SI joint is subluxed? Try the Høeg squat test:

Are you knees at the same height? If not, you probably have SI joint problems. (this was the test I used to know I needed to go to the chiropractor). This is a very common problem for pregnant runners, by the way, and chiropractors have above a 90% success rate in pregnant women for fixing SI joint subluxation with just 2 treatments.

To help fix it for less money, you can loosen up your piriformis by having someone do this:

I have SR do this to me though I extend the knee. I find that more effective. I just couldn't find a picture of that, but you can also see Natti doing it to me in the video from two blog posts earlier)

2. This July in Wales, the IAU (International Association of Ultrarunners) is holding

the world championships in ultra trail running. I learned of this when I was listed as one of the women who should be sent to represent Denmark. A few hours of extreme bliss ensued until 1. someone pointed out that I wasn't a Danish citizen 2. Denmark decided not to send anyone anyway. 

Close but no cigar. I LOVE Wales. Or at least the idea of it. Have you see the movie Submarine?

Submarine- a love story in Whales. Nailed me quietly to the spot.
In just two weeks, SR and I will be doing the Mallorca ½ Ironman. I can hardly wait for this bike route! Oh my. Green, gorgeous moutains and the ocean
I am trying to get over the silliness: this is a Spanish island yet the default map is in German. I am thinking the number of German tourists has something to do with this.
Every once in a while IndieFeed Podcast has a really good song.

Sunday 21 April 2013

BT Halvmarathon

Per, Jimmy and Ole from our athletic club, HGATM.
 So yeah, back in January, Ole convinced me I could run a 1:25 at BT half marathon (today) and because of that expected finish time I was put in the elite group (with the above guys) and they were rightfully laughing at my presence. And I made it clear I knew I didn't belong there, but anyway.
Note absence of Gamnin. And, guys, I swear those are super strong abs and not a pot belly. .. 
Soon we sang "Sweet Caroline" in honor of Boston. 
Nice start photo by Jeppe Bjørn Vejlø. 

Anyone want to wager a guess as to which of the above people won? (Hint it was not 1807, but she was the wife of the guy who won and she took 4th for the women in a sweet 1:20:13)

A fantastic view of the start by Mikkel Barker.

There was no reason for today to not be my day, but it was not. I felt it as I was warming up. I had tapered, followed my training plan exactly, but I just didn't feel it.

My excuse du jour is this:
"Many of the female runners I’ve coached have experienced their worst training days in the few days leading up to and including menstruation" says James Karp, PhD in exercise physiology, on Uber Mother Runner. He goes on to say women perform their best when estrogen is at it's peak.

At the end of the race, it was no surprise that Aunt Flo had just paid a visit.

So maybe, I could have run a couple minutes faster had progesterone not been working against me, but clearly there were other reasons I did not PR.

My 5k split was good: 20:32. But then the stomach "cramps". Of course, as explained, this pain is related to the McKenzie back extensions I have been doing. And it sux. Even before 10k I wanted to drop. Dang, this was not good. I was not having fun. But I decided this would not be about having fun or getting a PR, but simply getting a good training run in since I paid for this race and SR and his parents were being so extremely generous by watching the kids.

I came through 10k in 41:58. I drank and used a sponge. It was pretty warm today. I then ate a gel and started to pep up. The pain in my right side eased up. Thank goodness. But the tightness I guess had to go somewhere and it moved back into my right leg. And the sound of my right foot pounding against the pavement sounded terrible.

15k split: 1:04:11. Slowing significantly. We had a tail wind at this point. I had hoped to use it, but couldn't muster up any sort of fight.

Then my legs just wanted to give up. Am I having fun yet? NOOOOO!

THEN, (and I had heard the route was flat and fast), we entered a section of hilly trails! Hello? I remember saying at some point that I "loved trails". Well, hmmm. Just not right now, please?!

Meanwhile - the winners:
Elasri Ebderrahim in 1:04:58 and Sara Sig Møller in 1:15:09

I picked it up for the last 1km. Somewhere I found strength. I was probably still angry at the anonymous person who wrote the comment "jackass" on this blog last night (on the post about gun control). Or maybe I was just happy because it was almost over. 

Final time was 1:31:29. Honestly, folks I shouldn't complain since it is my second fastest half marathon. But not what I expected. Maybe the 60k took more speed out of my legs than I had imagined. Notably, Dorthe Dahl (the first place woman at Fyr til Fyr) ran nearly 4 minutes slower than she did last year (she ran a 1:24 something). I hope this doesn't come off as selfish or mean of me- but it was kind of comforting to know that maybe we were in the same boat, struggling to get our speed back after the ultra.

Pia Joan Sørensen (2nd place female at Fyr til Fyr), on the other hand, just ran the 3rd fastest 100km by a woman in Danish history: 8:34-something. She would have won for the women yesterday at the Mad City 100km USATF championships, just to put this in perspective! Amazing race, Pia!!

Pia- grabbing a snack on her way to an 8:34 100k in Albertslund
Running Song of the Day:

Everything is embarrassing by Sky Ferreira 

Friday 19 April 2013

Madison, Minnesconsin Part II

So a while ago I wrote about this fictitious perfect midwestern town called Madision, Minnesconsin.

As of yesterday, it looks like SR got a job there starting in September. I think I'd prefer to allow him to reveal the true name of our future home.

Now that I have gotten all of my feelings about Denmark off my chest (in the last post), I can start looking forward to the actual future. And doing things like finding a school for the boys (hopefully a Waldorf school) and figuring out how I will "commute" to work in Denmark. These things have a way of working themselves out. And I have to admit I'm excited about SR's job and the location.

In the meantime, I have to figure out how to get myself to run a ½ marathon PR on Sunday at BT Half Marathon There will be 10,000 participants!! I hear the route is fast, I just hope I am, too.


This weekend offers a couple other great running events, that I have participated in before and highly recommend.

Copenhagen Ultramarathon in Albertslund and

Brøderupløbet in Tappernøje. (great trail half marathon!)

I seriously considered running the 100k in Albertslund, but have to stick to the sub 3 marathon trainig plan if it is ever going to become a reality. After that, I will allow myself to give ultras another serious try.

Thursday 18 April 2013

Continent Crisis

Sometime during the weekend we spent on Bornholm running Fyr til Fyr, it sunk in: Denmark is my home and I am more Danish than I am American. But I didn't admit it to myself right away.

The smells of Spring arrived. Especially the smell of the ocean. And even the mud here has a salty scent. It is part of me, though this is the first year I truly appreciated it. In fact, I used to think of Denmark as kind of bland in terms of its scenery. But I find it so inexplicably gorgeous this spring.
Nordstrand 2011
Nordstrand 2011

Sometimes paintings capture the feeling of a place a lot better than photos.

And there are reasons I feel this way.

I enjoy my job. The kids are happy. We have friends. The weather is perfect. We can bike and take trains everywhere. We are safe.

The trail running community here is exploding. And I got to be part of a podcast recording "Trailcast" about trail running in Denmark. How exciting to talk about running in pregnancy, overtraining and trail running in a place where the subject is really on fire. - Lyd på sporetTrailcast
(I highly recommend the episode with the Casper Wakefield interview who just set the course record at the Yukon Arctic Ultra).
Billede: I just had such a great experience. I was interviewed for the podcast Trailcast by Lars Michael Sørensen. A podcast for trail runners in Denmark! What a cool concept! The recording will be released on Saturday. Moses Lovstad will be on the same episode. Enjoy (if you can understand my Danish)!
Lars Michael Sørensen and me after recording the podcast in Kongenshave. One of us dressed up.

Ever wonder what kind of equipment is used to make a podcast?
And I just did an article with Løbemagasinet  about using Bikram Yoga to compliment running.
"The Lakes" by Nørreport in Copenhagen. They are beautiful in the spring. Even they smell salty.

I got tears in my eyes today as I was sitting discussing Denmark with my PhD advisor, from his office over looking a park in Frederiksberg. Actually it wasn't a park, but everything looks like a park here, even in the middle of Copenhagen. "I love Denmark. I feel so at home here. I'm going to apply for citizenship as soon as I can." Sometimes I get so overwhelmed with emotion. Then he started joking about the fact that you can't discuss politics or healthcare or even evolution with Americans. America sure is divided, isn't it?

Why does Natty have to move back to the US? Why does SR have to go, too?

It is not looking good for me finishing my PhD from the US- so will SR and I be living apart for a few months this fall? The future is so uncertain. I really just hope we can find a stable, happy place for the boys!

The US & The Boston Marathon

I feel terrible (and afraid!) of what is happening in the US these days. The Boston Marathon was such a terrible tragedy. Two days of tears welling up in my eyes when I read descriptions and saw photos and videos of what happened.

A friend of mine posted on Facebook - "How much of the footage from the Boston Marathon bombing do you let your kids watch?" - I'll write my answer here and that is NONE OF IT. The only thing we ever watch on tv is Eurosport anyway. And you have to imagine one of the reasons the criminal/s targeted the Boston Marathon is everyone would SEE it.

It was an unthikable act of crime that has nothing to do with the amazing sport that unifies people from all over the world. Yet, I have had nightmares every night since (about running- which for so many of us is a sacred place in our mind!).

I think a lot of us feel like we want to do something to help make it all better. I wish I had another answer besides being the change you want to see in the world.

I have already seen pictures and adds for T-shirts about the Boston Marathon bombing. My gut feeling is it sickens me that companies would try to advertise and/or make money off of the merchandise of a tragedy.

In my opinion, buying t-shirts doesn't solve anything. Simply give money to a cause you believe in instead.
Look at how adidas very carefully placed their logo for everyone to see.

I say "just don't do it". Find another way to help America and the world recover from this event. Go on a run with your kid. Appreciate what you have in life. That's what I need to go do right now.

Sunday 14 April 2013

The McKenzie Method & A what weekend in ultra running

Yet again, nothing I learned in medical school helped me with my running injury.

I think most readers of this blog will agree when I say - when you have a running injury, don't go to the doctor. At least in my case, the diagnosis and treatment of my injuries have always come with some combintation of massage, yoga, chiropractic, physical therapy and osteopathic medicine.

The thing that the latter practitioners have in common is they 1. take time to hear your story and 2. examine your entire body, looking for asymmetry, tightness, abnormality, etc.

Physicians used to do both of those things really well, but they don't have time now: too many fancy tests to order. But with athletic injuries, there is no need for these tests since the answers can be found with just your eyes, ears and hands.

I've had pain in my right leg since September. I kept running and it got a lot worse in October, so I took a long break. When I returned to running, it hadn't gotten any better. The pattern of my winter was such that I could run short runs, but nothing longer than 15-20 km. Had I gone to a doctor, he would have sent me home with the following advice "stop running" and maybe some ibuprofen. That would have left me fat, depressed, slower and dealing with a stomach ulcer.

The first thing that helped my right hip was taking the shock absorbtion out of my back and hips .I did this through pose running. Trust me when I say that if I can learn a new running style, so can you. We could all benefit from leaning forward more, increasing our cadence and lifting our feet actively.

If you can learn to jump like this, pose running will come very naturally.

Then I went to a physical therapist who had me do this:
This is not me, but had I been demonstrating a back extension in the 80's, I would have worn this outfit.

And I'll be darned if it didn't take the radiating pain down my right leg away. The only drawback is the pain moves to your back. But it is better tolerated here. How and why this happens, I have no clue. I've read some theories about opening up the disc space, but the maneuver also seems to work for non disc injuries with radiating pain.

This treatment was discovered by Robin McKenzie when a patient of his accidently lay himself down for a long time on a table like this, waiting for Dr. McKenzie.

Mr. Smith lying in lumbar hyperextension for ten minutes.

"How's you leg pain", Dr. McKenzie asked (in 1956)?

"I haven't felt this great in weeks!!" responded the man.

But part of the secret is, you have to keep doing these extensions - and in that way, you can keep the pain away for hours or days at a time.

When I ran the Griseløbet 10k, though, I can clearly see now that the pain in my stomach was radiating around from my back after I had just begun using these extensions. The tightness has to go somewhere, but trust me when I say, it is better in the back.

A demonstration of the back extension

and how to determine if the problem is indeed in your disc

Now- what a fun weekend to observe the ultra running world from afar!

1. Meghan Hicks (from Minnesota!) wins Marathon de Sables. Everyone who has met Meghan loves her- even if you've just read her writing (or even her comments here). She is an incredible and thoughtful person who deserved after many years of focused training to win this race. And she did it in style when the first place woman went out too hard on the second to last day (47 miler) and had to drop. Meghan played it calm and smart the whole way and won handily. It even sounded like she ensured medical help for the former first place woman before continuing.

2. What a stacked field at the Lake Sonoma 50 miler. Cassandra Scallon, my bud (from Wisconsin!) had an incredible performance, good enough for the win in 7:47, followed by Joelle Vaught. Amy Sposton showed how consistently she can perform at her peak when she passed Rory Bosio near the end of the race to take 3rd. Good job, Amy!!

2013 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile - Cassie Scallon
That is the way to run on water, Cassie!

3. It was the 6 hour race Slagteriløbet in Jylland, Denmark today. I'm really excited to see how den seje Sidsel did. Anyone know??

For anyone else who just wants to play it cool...

Monday 8 April 2013

Inaugural Fyr til Fyr 60k

This is what the ultramarathon is about: using your legs to get from one place to another in the stunning majesty of nature.

None of this rat in a cage 2km asphalt loop or treadmill nonsense.

Thank you Moses Løvstad, Jesper Halvorsen, the artists previously known as Team Suunto, and your wonderful family and friend volunteers, for an unforgettable 60k. This was the Danish ultra event of the year (I'm willing to bet). Dare I say you guys are onto something big?

Since October, I have had too much pain in my right leg to even attempt a marathon (though of course I did attempt the Bandera 100k and dropped after that right leg locked up). Luckily, shorter distances have been okay. Finally, about a month ago, I was diagnosed by my physicial therapist (and fellow ultra runner),  Jakob Nordholt Hansen, with a protruding disc, which had been causing the radiating pain down my right leg. Right before Griseløbet, he did something to my back by pressing hard that took the pain in my leg away - after some intense, continuous yoga and stretching, I can run long again - and what perfect timing for Fyr til Fyr

I have a lot  to say about this race (including the return of CCU and the eating of a ton of snow (not in that order)), but would rather let the pictures do the talking for now.

Check-in. Photo:Stine Sophie Winckel
Start at the Dueodde lighthouse with one hand on the wall. Photo: Moses Løvstad.

leaving the lighthouse at Dueodde- the southern tip of Bornholm. Photo:Stine Sophie Winckel

Beach running with Stefan and Stefan. Photo: Stefan Stougaard.
Photo: Stefan Stougaard
From Dueodde Lighthouse overlooking the course. Photo:Stine Sophie Winckel

Photo: Stefan Stougaard
SR and Dorte Dahl. Yeah, she really is that good (previous age group world champion in Mountain Running, according to SR). Photo: Stine Sophie Winckel.
Photo: Stine Sophie Winckel.
Basically this photo is about showing off my nice, er, back....pack.
Photo: Stefan Stougaard.
Birgitte Munch Nielsen tackling the ever- changing coastal terrain.
Photo:Stine Sophie Winckel

Whoohoo! This is a fun gate!
Photo: Stine Sophie Winckel.
Pia Joan Sørensen rejoicing at the one aid station, despite just learning I was right behind her.
Photo:Stine Sophie Winckel
Ehhoew. Is it over already?
Photo: Moses Løvstad.
What is going on here?
Photo: Stine Sophie Winckel.

A run the next morning with Daniel Ditlev, Dan, Greg & SR.

And then awards!
First 3 Ladies: Dorte Dahl, Pia Joan Sørensen and, well, me. We all won Innov-8 trail shoes and the Bonholm brew "den dødelige hest" - The Deadly Horse (the latter for all running faster than the previous "fastest known time" on the course: 6:16).


Race video (in English) featuring our new BFF, Greg "Team USA" Friedman.