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 27 April 2014

Danish 10,000 meter championships

Most of my Danish blog readers are probably surprised to see me not adding one more zero in my title. After all, yesterday was the Danish 100km championships as well. Pia Joan Sørensen was the women's champion in 8:19 on a warm and windy day - IMPRESSIVE!

Lovely, winner photo of Pia Joan Sørensen by Niels Høg Henrikson in front of Tueholm Sø.  100km Danish championships.

Most of my day yesterday was spent at the Dansh Orthoptics Annual Meeting at Roskile Hospital. I gave a lecture there about the association between the advent of systematic 4 year old vision screening and the prevalence of amblyopia in Denmark since WWII as well as the most common causes. Sometimes I am amazed that my profession has essentially become teaching and speaking in a foreign language. Especially because every time I say "population study" it sounds like I am saying "fertility study". But learning to speak without an accent as an adult is like teaching an amblyopic eye to see! (Unless I sing og speak with a Jylland accent)

Anyway, I loved spending the day with people dedicated to helping save and improve the vision of children. I felt like this was a sufficient excuse to not run 100km around a 1.5 km asphalt loop. Plus, I have the Ice Age Trail 50 miler in just 2 weeks now, so that would have been a bad idea!

What I didn't know, until last weekend, when I was invited to the 10,000 meter Danish Track Championships is that I actually was eligible to run and get a title of "Danish Champion" and still be American. The truth is, you just have to have lived in Denmark (legally) for 2 years and be a member of an athletic club.

Yesterday was hot and no one here has ever heard of air conditioners in cars so I was sweating buckets on my long drive from Roskilde to Korsør in the afternoon bake fest. I kept drinking water all the while knowing I wouldn't be able to start the race tanked up, especially considering a wickedly competitive Bikram class the night before (I love competing with ballet dancers).

I was tired by the time I arrived at the stadium but changing clothing and going for a warmup run with Rikke Due Andersen on a lovely grass field really pepped me up.

There was an electric feel at Korsør Stadium. Video cameras and a largish crowd. Athletic clubs from all over the country. Erling from Køge brought along his African crew - muslims, christians, atheists - they are all living at his house, as he humorously described, demanding things lot hot milk never microwaved, but they are super sweet and humble. (And one of the guys living with Erling, William Morwabe, ran BT half marathon this morning in 1:03!)

Being a new member of Køge Atletik, I shared a jersey with a 13 year old boy, Emil Holm, who can run a 3,000 meter in around 8 minutes. He didn't yesterday and ran in 8:47. My understanding is none or few PR's were set yesterday. Not being any sort of afficionado at track races, I did not know how much the strong wind would mean for our times.

As Rikke and I warmed up, she talked about trying to run sub 36. I talked about sub 39. Erling had given me an expected finish of under 39 based on my half marathon (1:26) on a hilly route and 10k (39.59) also on a hilly route. I felt like I had "good legs". And I mean, come on, this was flat, of course I would run a PR...

Gathering at the start line, the 20 women sure looked professional and confident. They were not sporting the gold jewelry or drawing crucifixes on their chest, but they knew how to do dynamic warmups that didn't look like they were at a high school dance (like yours truly).

We had to line up at two separate start points and I was the furthest to the left (middle of the track) in the start group about 10 meters ahead of ladies pictured below
Faster half of womens' 10,000 field. Rikke 4th from right. Simone furthest right. Photo courtesy of DAF.
. Oh my, all eyes and cameras were on us and it was fun! The gun went and I took off faster than ... anyone else. And unintentionally, I was in the lead when the two groups came together after the cones. I led the first three laps- as in I was ahead of the 10,000 m star Simone Glad (coolest name in Danish track, who has recently run a 33:58). Really smart running for the first km right? I could hear the announcers talk about the top runners, not even acknowledging me because they had seen this stupidity before and why point out that I was going to go down in flames?

Meanwhile, I entertained the thought "What if I win? What if I beat a girl who can run under 34 minutes?" I can only assume this was due to lack of oxygen to my brain. Coach Erling was yelling at me "Slow down, Tracy!!" Well, I listened, eventually. I made it though 5k in 19:30, but at that point I had killed myself with the first 1.5 km and the 12.5 laps to the end were sheer torture. Of course I wanted to drop out and cast myself onto the ground like a starfish, but I was invited there and my team was cheering me on. I could hear Sylvia yelling "Go Tracy!!" in that fantastic Kenyan accent every time I came past the start. Yes, you DO notice these things out there.

The thing about the wind on a track is it feels like it is against you 95% of the time and then there is this precious moment every round where you get a little push from behind.

Who would have believed I could run so much slower than predicted (except everyone who does and doesn't know me)? 40.32 ØV. (cast myself down on the grass like a starfish - that was allowed now)

Simone did end up winning in 35:34. Rikke had a really strong run and took 4th in 37:00. As my back and abdomen were spasming, I told the team as I laughed that it "was not fun in the least". And then Rikke pointed out- well, you can always say you ran 1,000 meters faster than Simone Glad :-D. Oh and I won my age group- so I guess that makes me "age group Danish champion" of the 10,000 meters. I hear there is a gold medal on the way in the mail.

So all in all, a fun experience except the actual running after the first 1,500 meters.

I am glad I stuck around to watch the mens' 10,000 meters.
Mens' 10,000 metere lead group. Photo courtesy of DAF.

 It is things like this that make you really appreciate the sport of long-distance running. Watching Sondre Moen, Abdi Ulaud, Jesper Frarschou and Henrik Them absolutely sprint around the track 25 times was astounding. It looked unreal that they could keep up a pace most people can't get up to when sprinting to avoid getting hit by a train. The all finished in around 30 minutes.

In other news, The Chippewa trail 50k was run yesterday in New Auburn, WI and SR ran. It sounded like slower conditions, so his course record of 3:51 did not fall! I know he says he had a crisis at the end and I can't find the results, so you will have to wait for his version, but Jordan Hanlon won for the men in 5:59 and Christi Novak took the womens' title. Of note Jake Hegge didn't run due to injury.

On Wednesday Mattias and I leave for Duluth for 6 weeks. We are getting good at spending all the money we don't have in order to have our family on the same continent! Thankfully this is only temporary.

Running songs of the day:

Kom Nu by Jacobløberhjemmefra

Superlove by Charli XCX

(absolutely genious song!)"I think your hair looks much better pushed over to one side. How do you feel about me?" :-)


greengirlrunning said...

How fun to find a Danish runner/blogger! My mom is Danish and always gets so excited to find other Danes so I guess it's rubbed off on me a bit :)

sea legs girl said...

Hi Greengirl!

How nice of you to comment. You convinced me to add pictures because I know how much I enjoy pictures from foreign countries. Anyway, I link to a lot of Danish blogs in the side line feed if you are also interested in getting a sense of the language and seeing more pictures :-). Where is your mom from exactly?

Alicia Hudelson said...

You got to run a 10k on a track though, even if you did go down in flames:) The track thing sounds super fun. And if I were the announcers I wouldn't have counted you out when you were in the lead!