Monday, 31 December 2012

About 2012...

How to summarize a year? A year that seemed to drag on when stress at work and health problems filled my days? A year that nevertheless now feels like it just flew by? Where to begin?

January might be a good place, what with being the first month of the year and all. Despite walking around feeling half-ill all month long, I managed to log 246 km, including a 43 km -long training run. During a trip to Skellefteå, I even managed to log some skiing kilometres. A great start to the year. I had great plans. This was going to be my year.

February was an easier month. I tried to drag myself to the swimming pool. Got bored with it immediately. Had a couple more sick days. Kept my long runs relatively short. I was looking ahead, hoping to make it to Skövde 6-hour race this year.

March came along and hypochondria came along with it. Skövde was on the 10th and, right on cue, my throat started feeling funny a couple of days before. I didn't run a single kilometre the preceding 4 days, stuffed myself with fruit and vegetables, gurgled salt water and prayed to any deity that might be listening that I'd stay healthy for the race. One of them listened, I was healthy enough to start and made top ten among women, breaking my previous distance record by 7 km, despite spending the first 30 km trying to ignore the unbearable pain in my left knee. Before I had time to celebrate, I got sick. Really sick. I had to take antibiotics to fight the virus that had gotten cosy inside my body. I took a very long break from running. 18 days is what I then considered a very long break. If only I had known what April had in store.

The very last day of March I went on a long trail run with a friend and ended it by getting runner's knee. This time it was the right knee that was injured. I only logged 6 km in April but tried to work with building up strength instead. Rehab was my mantra.

In May I started testing my knee and even ran Vår Ruset and Göteborgsvarvet. It went much better than I expected, but some other health problems ”forced” me to abstain from running for a few weeks. It was just as well, because I really wanted to give my knee a chance to heal. I went on walks and worked on rehab exercises instead to keep myself from going crazy. May was also the month we decided we would leave Gothenburg and move to Skellefteå. A lot of emotional turbulence surrounded that decision to move all the way across the country. Mixed feelings. Looking forward to the adventure and starting a new life, feeling sorry to leave friends and colleagues behind.

In June I continued working hard on my rehab but started running short distances again, taking walking breaks when I needed to. I also participated in a plank challenge and felt my stomach muscles growing stronger. 

July was a pretty good month. I was slowly building up a base for my running, and I was doing all of it in my Five Fingers. Having time off work didn't mean I had so much time off, as such, as there was a lot of packing and planning to do before the move. I also tried to meet up with friends as much as possible.

In August, my training started looking like it used to again. I ran Torrekullaleden with some friends and got covered in mud. I also did my first duathlon, even if it was more of a fun family activity than a real race. Still, hard work to switch from swimming to running. Great memories. We left Gothenburg at the end of the month in a car packed with things and two scared cats. The journey to Skellefteå took us 16 hours.

September was a month of discoveries. New places to explore, new races to run (Kraftjoggen), new things to learn on my net-based courses. I tried to enjoy the freedom of it, although I didn't always know what to do with myself in a new city where I knew very few people. 

In October I was injured once again. I had put in some great long runs in my VFF, but at the cost of getting a strange foot injury that even made it hard to walk. I realised I had to find other ways to get my training dose and joined the gym. It was fun – at first.

In November my foot felt fine and I joined a running club, SAIK. I fell in love with it immediately and never hesitated to join them for a 30 km run to Varuträsk Christmas market and back. My reasons for joining were partly to meet like-minded people in my new city and partly to introduce some more variation to my training with one quality session per week. To my great surprise I found myself enjoying speed work. Well, maybe not while I was doing it, but afterwards. Yes, definitely afterwards.

December brought the year full circle. Another heavy month, kilometre-wise, and the first one in a very, VERY long time when I could honestly say I wasn't injured. I think the last time I could say that was November 2010. As a farewell to 2012, I went on a 10 km -run, heading west this morning, discovering new stomping grounds.

Despite the fact that I ran 800 km less this year than I did last year, I feel like I'm ending it on a high note. Healthy, injury-free and incredibly thankful that, no matter what crap this year threw at me, I still had the chance to experience some amazing things. Our running doesn't take place in a vacuum, and the events in our lives affect our training (and vice versa). Sometimes we run to forget, sometimes we run to process our thoughts, sometimes we run because we are so filled with energy we just have to get out, and sometimes – thankfully, most of the time – we run because it is so much fun.

There is no way to predict what 2013 has in store. I just hope that we all are lucky enough to have running in our lives, to help us cope with whatever other obstacles we come across. Injury-free. Happy new year everyone!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Not a bad way to start the weekend

Beautiful morning. The sky's ablaze. 10 runners and a dog slowly making their way on unploughed paths and snowmobile tracks, stumbling and slipping on the uneven surface, breathing sighs of relief when we get to ploughed roads again. Frozen air heavily sinking down to the lungs and building igloos out of noses, perches for small crystal birds out of eyelashes. We look at each other and laugh; there are many bearded ladies in the group today. But the freezing cold does not discriminate. The men are covered in ice too, eyes almost disappearing under thick white eyebrows.

21 kilometres followed by yoga for runners. Not a bad way to start the weekend.

Friday, 28 December 2012


In Norse mythology, the wolf Sköll always chased after Sol, the sun. When Ragnarök, the end of the world, came about, Sköll managed to catch Sol and devour her. Thus, darkness fell upon the world.

A few centuries later, scientists have figured out that vitamin D (which the sun helps our bodies to produce) is essential for our well-being. Without it we feel tired, slow, depressed. As you might expect, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is most common during the winter months. The Vikings had it right. When the world disappears into darkness every year, nature goes into sleep. The world ”dies”. And people go into a sort of hibernation. Then, when the sun comes up again, the world is born anew.

Yesterday, some light was still lingering on the horizon at 3pm. This morning, the sun was already on its way up at 8am. Ragnarök has been and gone. The sky was cloudless, a rare occurrence this month, when it's snowed most every day. I left our flat around 9.30 and stepped out into a crispy -20. I braced myself; I had left my Lungplus at home, not having used it once this year, but then again I had never run in such low temperatures before. I jogged towards the river, trying to breathe through my nose to give the air a chance to get warmed up on its way down to my lungs. But, as the pace got faster, I found it progressively harder to inhale enough air through my nose to power my body. It didn't matter. The cold air proved to be no problem.

When I reached the river, I got punched in the gut by the sheer beauty of the place. There was a layer of ice and snow on the water surface, matching the surrounding gardens and rooftops, but where the river broke through, the water turned into steam. It was out-worldly. It looked like fairies were dancing on the ice.

I followed the path upwards to higher ground and there it was: a big, fat, orange disc of life shining behind the trees and the houses, still low on the horizon but definitely on its way up. Sol was back, bringing back life into the world, giving birth to a new spring, and awakening hope in people's hearts.

The wolf has gone to sleep after its long chase. The sun is safe for another year.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

It's just a silly phase I'm going through

And, before we even knew it, Christmas was over for this year. The last few days felt strange. It was like I have been inflating like a balloon for the past few weeks, with interviews and job applications and studies and training and baking and the whole trying to get into the Christmas spirit, and then I reached the point where I couldn't stretch myself any more and burst. Any energy I might have had disappeared into the ether and all that remains is a very tired Shaman. A Shaman that sleeps close to 10 hours per night. And then still feels tired the rest of the day.

I got a brief glimpse of inspiration and an injection of energy yesterday. Looking ahead at what 2013 might bring in terms of races, I thought about Lapland Ultra. It wasn't the first time, of course. It is a race I've considered before, but never been able to train for because of injuries. I have a running buddy in Gothenburg who is interested in running it with me, and we've been talking about it for ages. But yesterday, looking through the excellent ultra running book ”Relentless forward progress”, I realised it was only six months left to the race. I quickly found a training plan in the book's pages and started forming my own plan, converting miles to kilometres and making modifications to allow for my existing training with AIK. I was buzzing with energy and anticipation.

Looking ahead, Kungsleden, 2011

Then this morning I looked at the training plan again. It sank in, the kind of a commitment it would take, and -more importantly- the risks for new injuries it would bring. And the air went out of me once again. Can I pull this off?

The run I went for later on felt uninspired. Just running around to collect my 10km for the day. Of course, this lack of inspiration has consequences for this blog too. If I don't feel inspired in my running, how can I write about it? I don't want to just document my training – I use for that. I've also had some thoughts lately about what I wanted to do with this blog, and if I really wanted to continue writing here. I'm not so sure any more. It used to serve a purpose, but that is now redundant.

Maybe it's just a phase.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Wishing you a...

You. Yes, you, reading this blog. You're the best. Happy holidays!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

I know that the whole Internet has been pressing their browser's ”refresh” button repeatedly since yesterday to see if I've updated my blog with news about my achy calf.

You can all breathe a sigh of relief. The wait is over. Christmas is not ruined. You don't have to drown your sorrows in a box of chocolates. The update is here.

I skipped the AIK-session this morning, thinking that it would suck if my calf started hurting halfway and I had to stop running in the middle of nowhere, in -12 degrees Celsius. So I ran on my own, keeping close to home, in case I had to stop and walk back. My calf was speechless. Not a word, no complaints. Not much to report then, except that the planned long run was only 8 measly kilometres long. But sometimes you need to play it safe. Maybe that achy calf is not well, not really. Maybe it's mentally deranged and it's hiding in a closet waiting for you to walk past so that it can jump out and give you a heart attack when you least expect it. Like in the middle of a long run.

I kept by the river but, unlike in the picture above, the sun did not make an appearance today

But that's not the only news for you today. Under the headline: WHAT WAS SHE THINKING? you can read all about how I entered Cannonball Read again. For those of you who might be reading this blog for the first time, an explanation is in order. Cannonball Read is an annual challenge, an initiative by cool film and tv review site Pajiba. Participants choose to read either 52, 26 or 13 books per year (whichever books they wish), review them and upload their reviews on the Cannonball Read blog. Everyone can participate. For more details, visit the CBR blog.

Last year I chose to read and review 26 books, which I finished sometime in October. On one hand, the challenge ”pushed” me to both read more books than I otherwise would have and choose books that I normally wouldn't have picked up. On the other hand, it put pressure on me to finish books that I might have given up on otherwise, and it was a bit stressful at times when there was a lot going on in my life. I couldn't just relax and enjoy a book without putting my reviewer hat on. But I didn't hesitate for a minute to enter it again. I have a very long list of books I want to read next year. It shouldn't be a problem to choose 26 of them.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Shaman:1 - Fear: 0

'Twas the day before the day before the day before Christmas, and blog readers all over the world found themselves busy buying Christmas presents, stocking up on Christmas booze, cooking Christmas food and generally living their lives out there in the real world. The Internet was slowly but surely going quiet. But when you have something to say, you shout it out even when the world can't hear you over the noise of a billion jaws munching on Christmas cookies.

World, I did it! I went skiing, and I skied down a short but steep slope, and the first time I fell but the second time I didn't. It was close. My left ski left the tracks and I was dangerously close to doing a split (which would have been terribly uncomfortable, as I am nowhere flexible enough to do a split). But I kept my cool, didn't panic, and calmly brought my left foot back into the track.

In my head, I looked really awesome and professional. In reality, there was probably a lot of flailing arms, screaming like a baby and pondering the existence of an afterlife. Still, it was a little triumph that did wonders for my self-esteem. 

My right calf has been inexplicably tense the last few days, even hurting a little yesterday when I went out for a walk, so I've been massaging it like crazy. Hopefully it will be fine tomorrow, in time for an easy run with AIK. No more injuries now, please!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Cowardly lion

After Monday's theory lesson at the ski club, I was itching to get on my skis and try everything they had talked about. I didn't get the chance until last night, directly after a 14 km run with AIK.

I had asked J to wait for me at the ski stadium at 18.30, but I got there early. As soon as I stopped running, I started freezing (it was -13), so I jogged back and forth on the road along the ski tracks. My fingers were the first to complain, and by the time J got there and I tried to switch from my Kinvara to my ski boots, they were completely useless. It took me five minutes in the car to warm them up enough so that they'd be able to tie a knot.

I warmed up pretty quickly after that, and -despite the earlier run- I had the energy to try the different exercises they had recommended at the ski school: skiing without sticks, skiing with only the sticks (without moving my legs), skiing with only one stick at a time. It was hard work. I must have looked silly, because I hadn't even taken off my reflex vest after the run (too cold) and I'd forgotten I still had my headlamp from the run on my head. I suppose you can never be too careful after dark, not even in a brightly illuminated ski stadium with no cars anywhere near and almost no one else around.

After 5 km of having the ski tracks pretty much to myself, sharing them only with J, I looked at the slope at one end of the stadium. Slopes have become sort of a phobia for me, because I fall down nine times out of ten. So I avoid them, especially if there are people around. But, of course, I am going to inevitably tire of skiing round and round at the ski stadium soon, so if I want to ski at other places, I will have to learn how to not fall. So I started making up my way up the slope.

Parenthesis: I was tired at this point. I was really tired. I was so tired, I had missed the ground earlier and stabbed myself in the foot with the stick. Hilarious.

After climbing all the way up the 100-meter slope, I positioned myself in the tracks on the opposite side and, still feeling brave, got ready to just do it already. The conditions were perfect: the tracks were new and unbroken and there was no one around. But then I saw that there were a couple of kids at the foot of the slope. Granted, they were nowhere near my side of the track, but what if I lost my balance and left the tracks and flew towards them, unable to brake? It was better to wait until they were gone. 

The tracks were much better last night than in this picture

But no. They were also climbing up the hill, agonisingly slow. And a grown-up was behind them, quickly gaining on them. I would have to wait! I couldn't have people (especially kids) looking at me! The embarrassment would be too great if I fell! Two skiers came from behind me and I had to leave the track to let them pass. They disappeared elegantly down the slope. They didn't fall. Where were all these people coming from? The kids were getting closer, and I was getting colder, standing there like a rabbit caught in the headlights. Minutes passed. My bravery evaporated rapidly, uncertainty and fear seeping into my brain. Now J was up the slope wondering what was taking me so long. "Just do it", he said. Well, see, that doesn't work for me. What I would really need right now would be to remember all those psychology tricks I read about in my Sports Psychology course, which were inconveniently eluding me now when I needed them most. Where was my confidence? Where were my relaxation methods?

The kids caught up. ”Are you going to ski down the slope?”, they asked innocently, the little brown-haired nine-year old brat girl stressing me out accompanying her five-year old brother. ”Soon”, I said, infuriated, because these little kids could definitely see through me and knew I was a coward standing there in the tracks. ”You go ahead”, said J. And they did. The five-year old went first, fearlessly, and made it all the way to the bottom without falling. The nine-year old followed just as effortlessly. My shame at the prospect of getting bettered by kids forced me to start gliding down the slope, making it past the steepest part. Just as the ground started evening out, something happened. I say my skis were faster than the rest of me, making me lose my balance, J says it looked like I got scared and gave up halfway, but whatever the reason I sensed how I was leaning backwards more and more until I was on my butt, creating a snow cloud around me and leaving a nice butt print on the until-then perfect tracks. Well, that's one way to brake.

Needless to say, I was frustrated. I was beaten by some kids. I never wanted to see another slope in my life. I got up and glided away, because chances were I would otherwise take the sticks and break them in two. Shaman smash! Which would have been fine, if they were my sticks. But I had borrowed them from J's sister.

A few minutes later I had calmed down. I will defeat my fears. That's why I'm attending the ski school. I'm a beginner, I'm going to learn, I'm going to get better, I'm going to ski down that slope without falling.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

I am going to be a skier when I grow up

Last night a donkey found her way among a herd of unicorns. She glued a paper horn on her forehead and sneaked in among the gracious magical creatures, hoping that no one would notice that her legs were shorter, her mane was a dull grey and her eyes weren't sparkling. And there were definitely no rainbows coming out of her backside.

Fast, faster, fastest

Completely out of my element, I sank low on a chair among the 60-odd skiers gathered last night at the ski club. It was to be the first lesson of the ski school for adults I joined, albeit only a theory one this time, and the room was filled with those elegant people who can do amazing things, like stand on one leg, ski downhill without fear, and shoot a snot rocket without falling on their arses. Granted, there were other beginners in there, but I was the most beginner-y one of them all.

Despite not being in my natural habitat, a.k.a. in my running shoes and on the road, and despite the fact that new situations make me – like they do most people – nervous, I left the ski club eager to put on a pair of skis and hit the tracks. This little donkey will grow up to be a beautiful unicorn one day (as soon as my ski school has taught me everything I need to know). Just you wait and see. Until then, I'll be a unicorn when I'm running. A runicorn. HA!

In other news, cookies were baked yesterday despite the initial lack of energy. And they were good. Maybe it was the extra effort of visiting 5 different supermarkets before finding the rose water, maybe it was all the love I put into baking them, but they turned out better than they ever have. A little crumbly, just sweet enough, with the discreet taste of roses.

Tastes just like Christmas.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Shaman Dalie and the Quest for rose water

Remember how I was going to make two different sorts of cookies last week, but the local supermarket was out of one basic ingredient? This morning I put on my running clothes and my rucksack on my shoulders and set out on a quest to find the missing ingredient: rose water. 

My quest was to be one of Grave Danger, filled with booby traps and bad guys, wrong turns and red herrings. Armed with nothing but my Garmin and my debit card, I stepped outside our flat and into the morning sunshine.

Big machines were clearing the streets from snow, flattening it on pavements. My choices were either to run on snow they hadn't ploughed yet or on said pavements, which were slippery. I couldn't decide what would be better, to twist my ankle on the uneven snow or break it on the icy pavement. Wily as I am though I managed to stay upright with nothing but a couple of scares. And, soon enough, I was on pavements where snow was thick and even. Lovely.

I made my way towards Morö Backe, through the Alhem cemetery. Halfway up a little hill I remembered, a little too late, that Morö Backe has ski tracks, which -for those of you who don't ski- you should never, ever step on and destroy. Broken tracks are not fun to ski on. So I wondered if I would be able to run past them or if I would have to turn back. Luckily, the cycle path I was on crossed the ski tracks, and I saw that they were already broken. Like, a bulldozer had driven over them and mashed them. I jumped over their remains though, just to be on the safe side.

But it wasn't time to breathe a sigh of relief yet. Soon I found myself without a path to run on, and I had to keep on the shoulder of a 70 km/h road. This wasn't a problem as such, because the shoulder was 2 metres wide and passing cars left plenty of room when they drove past me, but I always get tense when I have to run on a road. Then a tractor drove past me, and it was almost as if he was doing it on purpose: he left the tracks on the road that hundreds of cars had already cleared from snow and drove a few centimetres to the right, just so that he could stir up a cloud of dirty snow that consequently landed on my face.

Sigh. Well, I did say there were bad guys in this story.

Thankfully I didn't have to stay on the road for long. Soon enough I was back on a cycle path and the world was beautiful and white all around. The sky was blue and the sun was smiling a big, orange smile, the forest of pine and fir trees surrounding me was covered in a heavy blanket of sparkling snow, and my goal was in sight: Solbacken. There, I hoped to find what I was looking for in one of three supermarkets in the area.

The first one was my best bet, as I thought I'd seen rose water there on a previous visit. Nope. Second store was just as rose water-deprived as the first one, and the personnel could not only not help me, they didn't even know what that water was. The sweat I had built from running up the hill to Solbacken was slowly starting to cool down and I started feeling cold. One supermarket to go, and I was getting worried that I had run all the way here for nothing.

I scanned the aisles of the third store and there! Among the falafel and the dolma and the tahini, a green bottle appeared before my eyes. Hallelujah! I picked up the precious, 9 crowns worth bottle and took it to the cashier. A minute later it was mine. Finally. I could run home and bake my cookies.

Outside, the sun had disappeared behind some heavy clouds that must have come out of nowhere while I was indoors. Getting home wasn't easier, despite the fact that it was downhill almost all the way. For one thing, I had ignored the chill in my bones and picked a new cycle path to get home, one that would take me who knew where. I was feeling adventurous, at least until I realised that I was going to have headwind all the way home.

Sitting here 15 km later, after I had mistakenly thought that this little adventure would only be about 12 km long, I'm not even sure I have the energy to bake cookies any more.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Running up that hill

I was going to write a post about how uninspired I was from the moment I woke up today. How despite the great company that running with AIK's finest provides and the beautiful, enormous snowflakes that danced around our feet, I found myself counting kilometres to ensure I didn't run longer than the 21 I had decided on beforehand. How not even the music in my ears on my way home gave me the kick that I needed. Moan, complain, whine. Boohoo.

But instead I'm going to concentrate on the fact that I ran a half marathon despite the lack of enthusiasm. I ran up all the hills we came across on the outskirts of Skellefteå. I met some new people and saw new places. My knees didn't complain (much). My body was generally compliant despite the fact that it took a while before it got going this morning. And I got to snuggle with two crazy dogs that accompanied their owner on this run. All in all, I didn't do too shabby for someone so uninspired, right?

Friday, 14 December 2012

Extracurricular activities

You might think by reading this blog that all I ever do is run. And that when I don't run, I think about running. While that might be kinda true, it's not the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have rest days from running when I lift weights at the gym. And then I have rest days from these rest days, to rest from all that heavy lifting.

I almost passed out from trying to lift 5 kg at the shoulder machine today. That's a whopping 2,5 kg per shoulder. I need that rest.

On my real rest days I do other things, like baking. Even though I love baking, it's not something I do often, but for me Christmas is all about the baking and the stuffing your face with cookies. And if you've made too many cookies (can it ever be too many?), you try to stuff said cookies down your loved ones' throats, because why should you be the only one with an expanding waistline? If Christmas sounds a lot like a food orgy, that's because it is.

Now I'm waiting for Google to send a lot of the wrong kind of traffic my way, just because I wrote the word ”orgy”. 

Yesterday was one of the real rest days, and I spent part of it preparing some gingerbread cookie dough. For those of you who've never tried making such cookies, the dough needs to rest at least a few hours, but preferably a whole day, before it's shaped into cookies and baked. I spent the better part of the afternoon today making these. The flat was filled with the smell of cinnamon, cardamom, clove and ginger.

Today was, of course, no rest day. Oh no. It was a triple session day. First, I ran 2 km to the gym in my VFF, because it was ages ago and I thought I needed a reminder of what good running technique feels like. It's a strange sensation, to run on fresh snow in VFF. It's like running on cotton. Only your toes get really cold. At the gym, I joined a class for a 40 minute core session, and then I used the machines for another half hour. Afterwards I ran home. As per usual, I felt more energised after my workout than I had done when I woke up.

Unfortunately, unless I get myself a pair of VFF Lontra, I will have to wait until spring to run in VFF again. The toe pockets that are so useful for the biomechanics of the foot also create a problem: the toes can't warm each other up. It's simply too cold to run in VFF during the winter.

Thursday, 13 December 2012


I vaguely remember promising my long-suffering legs yesterday that I would keep the run to 10K and not one kilometre more. But, you see, I suffer from a horrible allergy. I am allergic to taking the car to places that are closer than, say, 5 km. Call it caring for the environment. Call it wanting to be spontaneous and not having to remember 2 hours in advance to switch the motor heater on.

Yeah, ok. Call it looking for an excuse to run some extra kilometres then.


I ended up running up to Eddahallen to meet with AIK, an extra 3 km to the usual 11 km round that we usually run on Wednesdays. Afterwards I would have to run another 3 km home. Only our coach had a lovely surprise for us this particular Wednesday: we would run by ourselves a shorter round of 7 km, while he warmed up some mulled (alcohol-free) wine and put some gingerbread cookies on the table at AIK headquarters. Needless to say, that hot wine tasted divine after a run in the snow. What really turned yesterday's frustration to excitement though was all the talk about future races that AIK was going to organise. And I volunteered to join the committee and help with all that. Afterwards I was so happy with my decision that my legs felt lighter than they had done in days. Despite the fact that I hadn't kept my promise.

Suddenly, I look down and see my feet sprouting roots. This nomad, this gypsy, this travelling circus, who's lived in three different countries and so many different flats and houses that I've lost count, has found a cause worthy to stick around for. I've never been more sure and passionate about anything in my life than I am about running and everything that has to do with it. It's my anchor in a world that sometimes spins a little too fast.

The ghost of a Christmas past.

I thought I'd celebrate this decision by walking down to the store this morning to get some ingredients for two sorts of Christmas cookies. And then baking them, obviously. And eating them, which would be the actual celebratory part. But after putting all the other ingredients in my basket, I found out that they were out of one very important ingredient that I needed for one sort of cookie: rose water. Having run out of steam a little after this SHOCKING discovery, I came home and prepared the dough to make gingerbread cookies. It is now resting in the fridge until tomorrow. My celebration will have to wait until then. Hopefully I will have found some rose water too by then, so that I can celebrate properly: with two different sorts of cookies and maybe some mulled wine.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

It's not like it's the end of the world

I don't have a middle name, but I'm sure that if I had one right now, it would be Frustration. Shaman Frustration Dalie. It's day 214673 of waiting to hear from this really amazing job I applied for and see if they invite me to an interview, and they're taking a really long time. I spend my time finishing up my studies in Sports Psychology and looking wistfully at my mobile phone. A phone that is staying stubbornly quiet. Stupid, stupid phone. Maybe it's broken? Maybe...can't be...did I...did I give them the wrong number? Or is it really the end of the world soon as the Mayans predicted, so they won't even bother inviting people to an interview?

Does this mean there won't be any Christmas this year? Is the Grinch behind this whole end of the world business?

In an hour or so I'm planning on stopping this stomping around like a spoiled toddler on a tantrum and going for an easy run with AIK. It would have been great to be able to take my frustration out on a longer run, but my achy leg muscles just informed me that anything over 10km is out of the question - or else. Not sure what that ”or else” means, or else they'll never speak to me again? Or else they'll go on strike? Or else they'll find a nice couch potato whose legs they'll possess? I don't know. But I've decided not to test their patience, just to be on the safe side. 10K it is.

Maybe tomorrow. If the world is still here tomorrow, maybe they'll realise how perfect I am for this job and call me. Tomorrow.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Ten days

Ten days left until the winter solstice. Ten days until the days start getting longer and the nights start getting shorter again. Ten days left to fight this darkness-induced tiredness. The finish line is in sight.

It takes a little bit more discipline to put your training clothes on this dark time of year. Partly because there's so much more of them to put on, and partly because it's so much easier to stay indoors where it's warm and bright than to head out into the cold. But experience has taught me that it's always worth the effort in the end. That was the case when I went skiing Sunday night. And to the gym yesterday morning, fighting to keep moving forwards on my bike on fresh snow with brakes that didn't work. And it was most definitely the case last night, when I ran up to Norrvalla for interval training with AIK.

I was the first to arrive, but soon enough we were 18 runners jogging to warm up. Then it was time for some technique training, before we formed a line in pairs. This is my favourite interval exercise: the last pair runs past the whole line and becomes the first pair, and so it continues until each pair has overtaken the rest around 10 times. I don't know why, but alternating explosive speed with light jogging (a kind of fartlek) feels more fun and less taxing on the legs than, say, hill intervals.

I left the others just before we got back to Norrvalla and headed home. The town was quiet now, as it was getting late. Whatever negative thoughts I might have had before I left home, that it was dark outside, that it was cold or that I was tired, had proved once again to be nothing but exactly that: just thoughts. Right now I was enjoying the crisp air, the quietness of the evening and the rush of endorphins in my body. I slept really well last night.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Living life to the fullest

Happiness is so easy to achieve sometimes. Just put your running shoes on and head out into a fairytale winter landscape for a long run with some great company. No matter how tired you thought you were before, you'll feel a lot better afterwards.

Skellefteå was hit by a heat wave, forcing the temperature to rise up to a sweltering -3 degrees Celsius. For the first time in over a week I didn't have to protect my face against the cold. I ran up to the hockey arena to meet with the others and then we ran eastwards. Conversation flowed freely covering all sorts of topics, from work to animals to skiing. Not once did I think that this was hard work; on the contrary, I got a light case of runner's high.

It is difficult to describe the sensation for someone who's never felt it. Everything clicked. I was right where I was supposed to be, doing something that I was always meant to do. This was my natural state of being. I didn't have to make an effort to keep going. It was just so easy.

This high lasted a minute or so, but that's not to say that the rest of my run was less enjoyable. Apart from the fact that my knees were cranky, I was having a blast, running on cycle paths surrounded by snow-covered fir trees. When we got back to the hockey arena and I left the others, I chose the long way home.

I simply cannot imagine a better way to spend a Saturday morning. This is what I love doing the most.

Friday, 7 December 2012

The day I thought would never end

Finally. After spending the whole morning and most of the afternoon jumping through hoops of varying difficulty at an interview for a job I'm not even sure is right for me, it's finally Friday evening and the weekend can begin.

The day started off great. I was going to leave home at 07.45 and leisurely walk to town to my interview. I usually get up at 6, because that is when J's alarm goes off. So I thought I'd have plenty of time this morning to eat a fortifying breakfast, drink some coffee, gather my thoughts and rehearse my presentation. What happened instead was that J took the day off and thus had not set the alarm, I somehow missed that and didn't set my own alarm, overslept (lost in the coolest dream about a futuristic society), woke up at 07.30, threw on the first clothes I could find in a dark bedroom, set a new world record at eating breakfast (2 minutes 34 seconds, including washing it down with half a mug of coffee) and -to finish it all off- put on some mascara just so it would at least look like I made an effort.

Inexplicably I still got there 15 minutes early, having walked a bit more briskly than I had planned to, but still managed to stutter through my presentation and make mistakes that are most likely going to cost me the job. But as I sit here trying to relax after a very intense day, the only thing getting to me is how I may have spent the whole day sitting indoors for nothing. That it was a waste of time. And despite the fact that my body is pretty much dead from the waist down thanks to yesterday's S.P.Y.C.-training (Strength, Pilates, Yoga and Core combined in one session), all I want to do now is do something because sitting on my bum all day is making me lethargic. Never mind that I can't even walk to the kitchen.

I want out!

The good news, nay, great news is that it is finally over. It's out of my hands. I can now relax and focus on the other pressing matters in my life. Like all the photography course assignments I have to turn in before Christmas. Fun!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

The song Simon and Garfunkel would have written had they been runners

Like a scarf over frozen noses

When I'm frozen
to the bone
When I'm tired
and alone

I'm in the tub
When I need some warmth
And heat just can't be found
Like a scarf over frozen noses
it will warm me up
Like a scarf over frozen noses
it will warm me up

When I've run 10K
When my lips are blue
When snowfall is so thick
it will comfort me

It'll toast my skin
When frostbite's near
And sweat is turning cold
Like a scarf over frozen noses
it will warm me up
Like a scarf over frozen noses
it will warm me up

Run on frozen girl,
run on by
My time has come to thaw
Hot shower's here for me

See how it shines
Its mixer set to ”hot”
Its water gives me warmth
Like a scarf over frozen noses
it will warm me up
Like a scarf over frozen noses
it will warm me up