Saturday, 30 June 2012

Good news

The last couple of days have been kind of weird. I went out with my colleagues on Thursday, came home late (but stone-cold sober, as I was the designated driver) and sleep-deprived-zombied my way through a very strange, slow Friday. It involved lots of delicious, sinfully rich chocolate cake. And, sadly, tears. Thankfully, not mine.

My visit to the physiotherapist went so much better than I had feared. When I described my latest troubles, he attributed it to the runner's knee at first. But as I went on to tell him where the pain was located and how it had come about, and after he had examined me, he changed his mind. This was new. He thought that it could be because I'm introducing too many new factors to my training, on my first week of running after this injury. New shoes, check. Interval training, check. The hamstring muscle has been tense for months, and this together with the aforementioned factors could have led to an inflammation in the tendon that joins the muscle with the knee bone. NSAIDS, rest until Wednesday, stretching and rehab were prescribed.

This is good news. My runner's knee had nothing to do with this, and it's been quiet, so all is good on that front. The inflammation in the hamstring muscle can be easily dealt with, comparatively speaking. And I can try running on Wednesday. But he made sure I understood the importance of taking it easy when I get back to running again. Start with 12-15 minutes (alternating running with walking), see how the body responds. If all's well, add a few more minutes. Stick to the brick shoes until the knee is healed, then introduce VFF (that engage more muscles) into the equation again. Find flat surfaces to run on, walk up hills.

And now, for some yoga.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

How you doin'?

It's been a bit quiet on the blog front the last couple of days. There are two reasons for that. One, I've been working late and two, there hasn't been much to write about, because the last time I went running was Friday and that ended in disaster of Michael Bay-film proportions. My knee has been slowly getting better since then. The emphasis on slowly. Today I can finally press my thumb on the sore spot and barely feel a thing.

The way to achieve this wondrous result has been rest and Chinese methods of torture. You can stretch the ITB by using a foam roller, but since I don't have one, I've been using a rolling pin. You know the kind? Made of wood, the kind that isn't so much of the bendy persuasion? Think about it for a minute. Foam roller. It sure sounds soft and mushy, right? Whereas a rolling pin that's made of wood is neither. It's hard. And it hurts. I knew that it was going to hurt by reading descriptions online from others who've used similar methods to stretch the ITB, but I wasn't quite prepared for the epic agony that my thigh getting treated like bread dough that's been particularly naughty would inflict on me.

I'm meeting the physiotherapist later today to find out if it's still the runner's knee that's making me question my ability to ever go running again, or if it's a new injury altogether (oh, fun! Another one for my collection). I'm not sure which would be preferable. The prospect of having either in my life the next few months is quite discouraging. I even found myself imagining going on my one-month leave next Friday and HAVING NOTHING TO DO. Since I can't go running. I imagined waking up day after day after day, with glorious weather outside, and not being able to enjoy it. Because, in my endorphins-addicted mind, time off equals running. Rosé on the balcony? Pfft. Picnics by the sea? Pfft. Ice-cream in town? I might as well keep working.

Then I gave myself a metaphorical slap on the face. I won't have such negativity. There's plenty I can still do, bad knee and all. I can swim. I can walk. I can do the plank ad nauseam. Oh, speaking of which. Let's sum up the progress I've made so far, shall we?

Please note: NOT an example of a proper way to do a plank!

Last week I did the plank 5 days out of 7. The challenge was to do 3 sets of each (basic, side plank to the left and side plank to the right) for as long as possible. My shoulders screamed for mercy but I didn't listen. This week's challenge is as follows:

Days 1-3-5: Tabata intervals, i.e. 20 seconds of doing the plank plus 10 seconds of rest, times 8. Rest a minute and repeat the whole sequence once more, or twice if you're up to it. I did three sequences.
Days 2-4: 3 sets of the basic plank, for as long as possible, but on something unstable, like a gym ball. I did mine on the balance board. You can also attempt the side planks on the ball or board. I tried it once and found it too hard, so I did the normal ones instead.

Original challenge here (in Swedish).

My abs are actually starting to show. Or, well, trying to move aside the layer of fat that's accumulated on my belly the last 2-3 months. Looking better good, babe! (no negativity here, thankyouverymuch)

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Whatever you do, don't mention the knee

Knee? What knee? Let's just change the subject, shall we?

Both yesterday and today we took one of our cats out for a drive. To say he doesn't like cars would be an understatement. Food comes out from both ends. He meows constantly. One time he was so shocked, he started hyperventilating.

For those reasons, we avoid using the car to move him around as much as possible. The only time we can't avoid it is when we take him to the vet. Otherwise, when we go on holiday, a cat nanny comes over and takes care of him. Somehow the idea of driving him to a cat hotel and then leaving him there in a cage for days doesn't appeal to us. It's worked fine with the cat nanny so far.

But then there is the upcoming move. We'll have to drive 1200 km across the country with our cats in the back seat. Vets here don't prescribe any medication to help cats calm down. The only thing they can recommend is nausea pills. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to help much, as evidenced by yesterday's and today's traumatic car trips. Well. We had to try.

It's a nightmare for the poor baby. Not only does he have to suffer being in the horrible, scary-sounding car, but he has to take a shower when we get home to wash off the poo he's been walking around in while he was sitting in his cage. Cats and water rarely mix. So now he's sitting in the sun trying to dry himself.

Grumpy? Me too, buddy. Me too.

A very good friend of mine is a yoga teacher. I had a chat with her yesterday and she recommended yoga to build up the strength around my knees. Too bad she lives on the other side of the planet. I could really use a teacher when I do yoga. I find DVDs boring, and I suspect that this boredom colours my perception of yoga in general. I'll nevertheless try and do some yoga a bit later. I have to do something if I can't run. But first, lunch.

Sweet potatoes and goat cheese. I prefer feta with my sweet potatoes but this isn't too bad.

Too bad my cat doesn't like yoga. Maybe it would help him relax?

Saturday, 23 June 2012


Turns out my knee doesn't like running 4 km on trails after all. While it didn't complain at all while I was running, it now feels sore when I press it. Back to square one. Not the happiest girl in the world any more. 

I'm not sure how to continue with rehab now. Maybe it's time to contact the physiotherapist again.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Kind of like drugs, but free

Spend too much time listening to your body and you'll start hearing things. As I walked to the woods in my VFF, I waited for my knee to start complaining and I thought I heard a sigh. But once I started running, it seemed happy enough to go along for the ride.

Midsummer running

And what a ride it was. I left the prepared forest path and its hard floor and turned towards a single track that cuts through the woods. The ground there was soft, at times muddy, but with the kind of mud that gives way under your weight without ever sucking in your feet. It's an experience in itself to run on such surfaces in VFF. If I could run on clouds, I'm guessing that this is what it would feel like.

This single track is unfortunately pretty short, and my allotted 3 minutes of running almost brought me to its end. But rather than continuing onto the gravel covered forest path, I turned and ran back the same way. I continued running back and forth on the trail a couple more times, taking short breaks to walk and rest my knee. I was ecstatic. Ducking under fallen branches or jumping over them, zigzagging between trees, looking out for creepy crawlies on the narrow trail, feeling the ferns brushing against my bare legs, startling a hare, this was running at its best, when it makes me feel alive and at one with nature.

I ran for a total of 24 minutes covering a total of 4 km (excluding the walking breaks), without the slightest complain from my knee. And had time to wonder several times over the course of this run why on earth I'd ever choose to run on tarmac again.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Long weekend ahoy

Last year I celebrated midsummer by running 20 km two days in a row. If there is a better way to celebrate what is basically a pagan tradition than being outside and close to nature, I can't imagine what it might be.

This year the whole area of Västra Götaland is going to suffer heavy rain and probably a thunderstorm. For obvious reasons (hint: it's NOT because of the weather) I can't repeat last year's back-to-back training, but there will be running.

Today's plank:
Set 1
Basic plank: 2m
Side plank: 1m

Set 2
Basic plank: 1m 30s
Side plank: 40s

Set 3
Basic plank: 1m
Side plank: 35s

Have a nice midsummer!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Intervals, moi?

There is no interval programme, as far as I know, where you run as fast as possible for 3 minutes, then you walk a bit and then repeat 4 more times. So I invented it. I put on my new bright pink Kinvara (why? Why do they have to be pink?) and my girly girl running skirt (because it's warm enough for me to show off my pasty white legs) and walked with J to the woods.

There, I immediately shot off into the distance, like a light-footed doe or a muscular cheetah. 10 seconds later I was knackered. I glanced at my Garmin. Really? I have to keep this speed up for another 2 minutes 50 seconds? I eased up a bit. I mean, I didn't even have a clue how fast I was supposed to be running. I'd never run intervals before! Didn't make a difference, anyway; my breathing was already raspy, my heart already looking for the nearest escape route.

Predictably, my ”interval” times dropped more and more the further I ran, until I reached a point where my thoughts went something like this:

Screw this. Might as well jog the rest.
Jog? In this heat? How about a nice stroll back home? Where you can enjoy a cold glass of rosé on your sun-baked balcony?
Oops, runner approaching. Look fierce. You're a cheetah. Be the cheetah. Grrr.

And that's when I experienced the notorious taste of blood in my mouth for the first time.

I saw this little fella earlier today. I love hedgehogs. Love them. They're so fluffy and cuddly. Unfortunately he didn't seem too healthy, just lying there curled up on the pavement until I happened to walk by, whereupon he slowly crawled into the bushes. I read later that they can get poisoned by the stuff people leave out to get rid of snails. What a horrible fate.

Plank challenge, day 3

Please forgive any spelling mistakes you might see in this post. My hands are a bit shaky. I tried to google something before, and instead of pressing the letter ”b”, I turned on the printer.

The plank challenge has been a lot of fun, as you can probably deduce from the above. My shoulders are ready to be scrapped. My abs, on the other hand, are fine. Not that you would see it from the results below:

Day two (during my break at work. Yes, I'm dedicated)
Basic plank: 2m30s, 1m, 1m
Side plank: 50s, 35s, 40s

Day three
Basic plank: 1m50s, 1m 30s, 1m 10s
Side plank: 1m, 45s, 40s

Not sure how to interpret these results. They're not exactly unpredictable when it comes to the basic plank (what with my shoulders getting more and more shot with each day) but they are unpredictable when it comes to the side plank. It will be interesting to see what I can do after this weekend, when I've given my shoulders a chance to rest.

I also went through my leg and knee rehab routine, did some balance exercises and even threw in some underarm training. The latter was the final drop. When it comes to arm training, I haven't pushed myself so hard in years. Not since I stopped training at the gym. It was lovely, despite the side effect of getting shaky hands. Maybe I won't be able to hold a glass of water without spilling half of it on the floor the next couple of days, but it's worth it. I love the sensation I get after a hard workout.

Tonight I'll venture out for another jog. Maybe this time I'll go crazy and run 3 km. I think I'll test my new Kinvara. They've been lying in their box, in the dark, ever since I bought them at the Göteborgsvarvet fair more than a month ago. High time I took them for a spin.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Plank challenge

And just in time for my running comeback, an unexpected guest. A sore throat!

It's not as bad as it sounds. Yet. In fact, I wonder if I'm allergic to something, because all other evidence points to that (itchy / runny eyes, runny nose, tiredness, headache. Yes, I am aware that they are also flu symptoms). In fact, I've decided that it cannot possibly be the flu, because A) I've had a cold or the flu 5 times already since the beginning of the year and B) I just bloody deserve being healthy for a while. Don't you think?

Anyway, I don't talk about this so-called sore throat here at home, because it's a tender subject (see also: denial). Instead, I decided to start a fun-looking plank challenge that a friend found on a blog and forwarded to me (in Swedish). Core strength is very, VERY important to running and I certainly don't mind getting well-defined abs (not that I will, after this. I've got the extra kilos I put on after my injury to shed first).

Every week, the challenge looks different. This week (or last week, really – the challenge started a week ago. I'm starting it a bit late) you have to do 3 sets of the plank, 5 days of 7. One set consists of the basic plank, the side plank to the left and the side plank to the right. You try to keep the position as long as possible.

My sets today, the first day of the challenge, looked like this:
1st set: Basic plank 2 min 30 sec, side plank 1 min
2nd set: Basic plank 1 min 30 sec, side plank 50 sec
3rd set: Basic plank 1 min 10 sec, side plank 35 sec

Something I find disappointing is how my shoulders always give up before my abs do. I am not particularly strong on the upper side of my body, nor do I find it easy to build any muscle there. It will be interesting to see if this challenge builds up some strength in my shoulders too. 

Tomorrow, I'm working a mammoth 12,5 hour-shift. But I'm in denial about that too.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Hello Garmin my old friend

I want to shout it from the rooftops. I came, I ran, I conquered.

After a lovely evening in town with some girl friends last night, sipping rosé (and even a margarita), nibbling on delicacies and catching up, my weekend was already going well. Then I started chatting with a running buddy on facebook, and I felt inspired. Today was going to be the day. No big ceremony, no stress, nothing. Just on with my running clothes and VFF, and out for a run/walk.

I warmed up by walking up to the lake, then started running. 2 minutes jogging, 1 minute walking. Light feet, light body (except for, well, you know. The Arse.) I left the path and followed a muddy trail. My VFF sank into the ground. Jumping over fallen branches, swerving around trees, even bushwhacking when I missed a turn and found myself trailblazing through a thick patch of blueberry plants. 

I stopped pushing my luck after 2,3 km's worth of running. My knee hadn't complained at all. And I was the happiest girl on the planet. 

Saturday, 16 June 2012


I've been thinking about comment etiquette lately. When I started writing this blog, I replied to comments here. Later on, I noticed that some people replied by visiting the commentator's blog and leaving an answer there. I thought it would work better, because – let's face it – how often do you go back to a post that you've already read to see if someone's left a comment? I rarely do.

The latter approach is a bit problematic, however. It feels a bit like passing notes under your desk while your algebra teacher has his back turned scribbling equations on the whiteboard. A third person visiting the blog will have trouble following the discussion, let alone trying to participate in it. I mean, imagine having to visit 3 blogs in order to follow the whole conversation. And what happens if one of the commentators doesn't have a blog? Where would you leave your answer then? Isn't it better if the whole conversation takes place on the same blog? Then I noticed that Blogger offers the option of subscribing to comments by email (I thought it was only Wordpress that did that. I was wrong). This way, you get a notification in your mailbox if someone answers to one of your comments. You don't even have to go back to the blog post if you don't want to.

So now I have enabled that option, and will be replying to comments you guys make right here on this blog. It took me a couple of years, but I think I finally found the best solution to the comments issue.

Any other issues you think I need to fix? Strike while the iron's hot! (Please don't say I don't write enough about running. It's coming. Soon)

Thursday, 14 June 2012

The consequences of not getting any (running)

The fact that I haven't been training properly the last three months (or at all, as the case has been the last couple of weeks) has not been without consequences. Some of them I expected (the fact that my Grow A Big Fat Arse Project is coming along nicely, for instance – my arse is getting so big, it's growing its own arse), some of them less expected, though by no means surprising (my stamina deteriorating so much I can hardly walk up the stairs without getting out of breath, my messed-up sleeping patterns, strange new aches plaguing my supposedly rested body).

And then there are consequences I wouldn't have anticipated in a million years. Like road rage. Bad drivers have always irritated me, but this afternoon's little incident left me furious.

Picture this: a petrol station, two rows of pumps. Me, parked by the curb on the side, running in to pick up a package, then getting out to find a huge 4x4 parked right between (and slightly in front) of the two pumps. Let me illustrate:

Car number 1 had apparently broken down, right in the middle of the lot. Roadside assistance (number 2) was backing towards it, stopping approximately 5 meters from it, obviously for no good reason other than to bust my non-existent nuts by leaving no space for me to drive out (why yes, the world revolves around me, glad you noticed). The driver then stepped out and disappeared into the petrol station, possibly to find the owner of car number 1, and -failing that- to buy a hot dog. Car number 3 had strategically parked to the right of the road assistance vehicle, so that no one could drive out that way.

I tried to catch the roadside assistance woman's eye when she stepped out of the vehicle to, I don't know, make her notice she was blocking me? Maybe help her understand that if she just moved the vehicle a little further forward (or back! I can compromise) then I could drive out of the petrol station and we could all go on with our day. She avoided looking at me. A few seconds after she was out of sight, another lady gets out of car number 3, where she had been waiting all along, and goes into the petrol station, abandoning her car right in front of mine. Inexplicably oblivious of the fact that she, too, was blocking the exit.

Now, I'm sitting in my car, tired after a long day at work, wanting nothing more than to go home. I can't go back, because it's one-way only. I can't go forward. Despite priding in several years' worth of high school physics, the rational part of my brain momentarily blacks out and I try squeezing between car number 1 and vehicle number 2. I realise quickly that, not only is such a manoeuvre physically impossible, what with the space between the two vehicles being smaller than that occupied by my car, but also that there are people outside the petrol station witnessing the whole embarrassing scene, i.e. me trying to fit an elephant into a thimble. I back quickly, narrowly missing the pumps, swerve around them and try driving on the left side of the roadside assistance vehicle.

The yellow-reflex clown has left the bloody door open. Because of course she bloody has.

She's now back, getting ready at glacial speed to load the broken-down car onto the bed of the vehicle. Now! I think. Now she'll finally notice me! And close the bloody door so I can squeeze past that frighteningly narrow space between the car wash and the roadside assistance vehicle!

She completely ignores me. And my blood pressure is reaching new heights. What would a rational human being do under the circumstances? Ding dong, ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner! You get out of the car and give her a piece of your mind of course! Come on up and claim your prize!

Instead, I scream profanities in my head at the same time as I silently pray that I won't get any scratches on the car, and drive out like a snail, missing the door by 1 mm. A snail that turns into a furious demon once I leave the petrol station. I was doing at least 30 km/h.

See kids? See what kind of monster I turn into when I don't get my running fix?

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The men of Gothenburg

I sat by the window on the bus and kept my camera close to my body, in case someone wanted to sit next to me. Someone did. An older gentleman (say, around 80 years old) parked his butt next to mine. He said that he chose this seat because I was so slim.

I think he said that, in any case. Because, after some initial confusion (Strange dialect. Does.not.compute.), I realised he was speaking Danish.

For those of you who aren't native Swedish speakers, Danish is nothing like Swedish. You know the Swedish chef in the Muppet Show? That's how Danes sound to a Swede. During the 20-minute trip into the city centre, this particular Dane proceeded to talk to me non-stop about his destination (?), his wife (?), his work (?) and banks (?). I got a word here and there (I think he might have said something about ABBA? Why would an 80-year old man be talking to me about ABBA?), which he interjected with the occasional slap on my thigh with the back of his hand (like we were fellow conspirators, or something) and staring at my chest. I nodded, smiling at what seemed like the appropriate times and frowning when he did, but understood nothing. And my deception would have worked perfectly, had he not suddenly turned the tables and asked me a question, interrupting my daydreaming of being anywhere else on the planet other than on this bus:

- Do you snork? he asked.
- ??
- Do you snork? he repeated.
- I'm sorry, are you asking me if I work?
- No, no! he said, obviously exasperated. Do you SNORK??
- (Brain working furiously to rearrange sounds into letters, letters into words, words into sentences and then translating the sentences into meaning, eyes darting at the exit of the bus, considering throwing myself off the moving bus to save myself from the embarrassment the revelation that I don't understand him would bring, thankfully getting it just before they had to pull me out from under a tram:) No, no. I don't SMOKE.

I was starting to get really warm by that point. I was sitting by the window, like I said, and couldn't get up or interject any comments of my own into this one-sided conversation. I was trapped. Cornered. Doomed to listen to this otherwise very sympathetic old man talking gibberish until it was time for him to get off the bus.

His stop came up before mine. He got up pretty quickly for a man his age and moved to the exit, without so much as saying goodbye. I felt wounded. Had he not felt the obvious connection we had gotten during those precious 20 minutes? The chemistry? Did that moment of sharing mean nothing to him?

I then met my friend S in town to snap some photos of the city. Kind of like a project, before we move. Uninspired though as I might have felt, I still came home with lots of photos. Some of them were even good enough to present here. Hope you like them. If you don't, my new-found Danish friend will explain to you why you should.


Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Life long learning

I sincerely hope I'm not jumping the gun here. I got an email from my local library informing me that the books I reserved last week have arrived there and are ready to be picked up.

These books are the course literature for the three distance-learning university courses I'm hoping to take this autumn. Two courses in photography (as recommended by Katarina) and one course in sports psychology. The photography courses are mostly for fun, to help me learn more about my hobby. The sports psychology course on the other hand is one that interests me on a deeper level. Not only will it be fascinating to learn how the brain works when it comes to athletic performance, mental training and goal setting, it might also give me the chance to get into a field that I'm passionate about. At the very least, it will teach me to handle my own internal obstacles better.

Of course, I don't know if I've been accepted in any of these courses yet. I'm not finding out until July. But I went ahead and reserved the books anyway. Whether I get accepted or not, they will be interesting to read.

Monday, 11 June 2012


In honour of my rapidly expanding waistline, the theme for today's photography walk was curves.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Cannonball read #19: The replacement by Brenda Yovanoff

I read a translated version of this book, so I wondered if my issues with it had more to do with the translator doing a poor job and less with the author's talent for writing. Then I went online to see what others were writing about it, and saw that they had the same issues.

Mackie Doyle is a teenage boy facing some of the typical teenage problems most kids his age face: allergic reactions to steel, baby kidnappings, evil demons. Oh, and he's also unique. You know, just like all other kids his age. Only unique in a different way: he's also a demon, a replacement for the real Mackie Doyle, whom the demons stole and sacrificed when he was a baby.

What follows is....I'm not entirely sure. He's on a quest. To save someone. And some demons object, while others don't. Or do they? What's going on?

To say that this book is confusing is to put it mildly. Couple that with a lukewarm interest in the characters and you have a very short attention span. The language is simplistic. Yovanoff seems to have some sort of fascination with teeth. Why else would she include a description of them every time she introduces a character?

A book I would recommend to angsty 12-year old goths.

Shaman - winging it since 1977

These were no ordinary friends coming to visit last night. No. These friends are foodies, casually throwing words like plantain, parfait and portobello around. They know what they mean, too. Not only are they foodies, but they had read my blog entry yesterday despite my pleads for them to go read something else.

I know! Can you believe it? Who would have thought!

I have to chase readers away with a stick on this blog.

Despite all warning signs, our friends came around 6. And they didn't seem to be nervous when they saw the snacks. I, on the other hand, kept the menu from the our local pizzeria in one pocket and my telephone in the other.

We had a great evening, analysing everything from politics to science to religion to films and photography. When my friend S later exclaimed that it was 12.30 am, I was surprised that time had gone by so quickly. I didn't feel tired at all.

They didn't go home hungry in the end.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Hostess with the mostest

If our friends who are coming over tonight for drinks and snacks are reading this, please look away.

No, really, find something else to read. A book perhaps? A magazine? The ingredient list on your packet of cereal?

(Are they gone? Good.)

So! We're having some friends over tonight for drinks and snacks. So we got up early to make this place suitable for habitation again. You know: chase the mice away, sweep the dust under the carpet, put our wild, ferocious cats back into their boxes.

I had planned on making most of the aforementioned snacks myself. I used to love doing that, before I discovered running and it was suddenly taking up so much of my time and energy that the only food I cared about preparing was pasta the day before a long run. Feeling nostalgic now that this running obsession is put on hold, I lovingly devised a snacks menu. I made a list of the ingredients I needed, and we went to the supermarket.

A thing you didn't know about J and me but you're about to find out even if you're not interested: We hate supermarkets. We usually go there early in the morning to avoid the crowds. We have a list we stick to, quickly throw the items we need into the cart (trying to shut our ears against the oral onslaught of ads trying to convince us to buy things we don't need blaring through the speakers everywhere around the store) and get out of there as soon as possible.

So after this morning's traumatic experience, fencing off slow pensioners with their carts parked across the aisles, screaming toddlers with indifferent (or deaf) parents and supermarket cleaning staff trying to run us over with their big cleaning machines, we walked back into our flat with 5 heavy bags of shopping only to discover that we had forgotten to buy not one, but two vital ingredients.

It might have been my fault. I wrote down one of the ingredients on the back side of the paper and then just didn't flip it over.

The silence as J and I looked at each other, the realisation of this mistake's implications slowly sinking in, was deafening. I went through the list of viable options in my head: A) go back to the supermarket or B) improvise. Of course, if I improvise, I either succeed and the snacks turn out great or the night is a disaster and our friends go home hungry, shaking their heads in disgust in our obvious lack of cooking and hosting skills, making scathing remarks under their breath about the canapés and never wanting to return.

If you think I picked A, then you have clearly not been paying attention.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Dealing with yet another setback

I am still in a haze from sleeping for over 10 hours. I'm staying at home from work today, trying to get over the latest obstacle on my way back to running. Days turn to weeks, weeks turn to months and the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be moving further away the more I try to move towards it. I am tired. And the more I rest, the more tired I get. It must be all this swimming upstream that's tiring me out.

It's one of those days when motivation to achieve anything more ambitious than keeping myself alive is non-existent. This apathy is so disheartening. Gone are the days I'd embark on long walks with my Nikon, eager to capture some nice shots. Cocooning is the only thing that has any appeal.

But that's not me. I don't recognise myself in it. The cognitive dissonance is too great.

I've developed coping mechanisms to deal with it. When my body is knocked out, my mind has to step in and help. One coping mechanism is to scout future running routes in Skellefteå. Google street view has been a tool of remarkable value in my cause to explore my future stomping grounds. I click my way around the gravel roads surrounding the city and on cycle paths that cut through it. Through forests and villages, by the sea and by the river, I plan runs that will take me all day. That's how I trick my restless body into believing that it's got its dose of adventure for the day: by means of virtual travelling.

It works. For a while.

PS. To the anonymous donor to my cancer research drive - thank you!!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


Moving to a new city is like wiping the slate clean. You get a new start, a new life. An opportunity to make use of all the things you've learned so far in life and avoid making the same mistakes again. Do right this time. A new start means new dreams and new goals. There's this old adage that the only thing stopping you from reaching your goals is you. You can't wait around all day, praying that some supernatural entity will come and change your life for you. Only you can make your dreams come true.

But the thing about it is that you're not really wiping the slate clean. Eight years of your life can't just disappear. The emotional investment in friends, colleagues, places cannot just be put aside and forgotten. And that's a good thing – despite the fact that goodbyes are always painful. Some things are worth hanging on to. Where friendships are concerned, some chapters should never close.

I'm so thankful for the people I've met in my life, people who care about me and who have helped me become who I am. These same people, whether they know it or not, have given me the strength to aim higher when I'm setting my goals. It's a pretty cynical world out there, and dog knows I've tried to adapt. Good thing not everyone is as cynical as I am.

Running has been a huge catalyst to who I've become. It has been the single most empowering thing I've ever done, despite all the injuries. And I'm not just talking about the physical side of it, the strength in running far. Running has not only given me time alone, to meditate and contemplate and see things clearly, but also the conviction that, if I have the mental strength to run around the same 1 km-round for 6 hours, then I can do anything I set my mind to. Whether it's running related or not.

There is so much I want to do in the future. And I know that there is no better time to start than now. Why wait? But before the move, before this new start, it only feels like I'm standing with one leg in Gothenburg and one in Skellefteå. Kind of wobbly. I'm waiting for things to fall into place. For closure. For new beginnings. With the knowledge that I have a toolbox full of experience, friendship and love to help me build the life of my dreams.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Deep breath

...and let this week commence. Working late 3 days out of 5, I'll probably have forgotten what J looks like by the end of it. On the plus side, I'll get a break from Sote's 24/7 meowing. He's a chatty little fella. What he's trying to say, nobody knows. Maybe he has the answer to solving the energy problem? A solution to the Middle East conflicts? The ultimate unifying theory in physics? If only we could understand him.

My little Einstein, contemplating the existence of the Higgs boson particle

I started the week with lactic acid shooting out of my ears. Almost an hour of strength training, including lots of rehab exercises for the knee, pushing my hamstrings and quads as far as they would go, determined to keep as much leg strength running has given me as possible. Squats, lunges, balance board, and the most challenging one of all: standing on one leg with your arms over your head, sitting down on a chair and then standing up again. No, you can't just drop on the chair. That would be cheating.

It's nice to get my pulse up again, although I'm not sure I'm supposed to be able to hear it vibrating around the walls of my mouth cavity.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

A walk around Torrekulla

Thanks for all your words of encouragement, my dear readers. I wasn't as low yesterday as I probably came across; more frustrated at how I've been injured in one way or another since I started running. Yes, my knee will get better. But what injury will it be next time? Still, believe me: I am thankful I got to experience and achieve so much despite my numerous injuries and ill health. Besides, we had a nice day, lack of marathon running notwithstanding. Prometheus was an entertaining movie, if not quite reaching to the classic standard of my favourite Ridley Scott films.

Flying saucers preparing for lift-off

Although we were pretty indecisive this morning, J and I finally headed out for a long walk around Torrekullaleden. I've run this trail a few times, and it's at its best this time of the year. More a jungle than a forest, this nature reserve is an oasis of calm.

One of these days I'll find out where this road leads. Torrekulla trail to the left.

We met a couple of runners along the way. The trail is pretty technical at times, with stones and roots protruding from the ground, and usually very wet. Today it was mostly dry, the few muddy patches not wet enough for you to sink in but rather forming a rubbery surface for you to bounce off. The sun was high in the sky and the wind turned the air cool and delicious. It really brought out the vibrant colours in the woods and flowers.

It took us 4 hours to cover about 20 km, including two stops to eat and drink, and some more stops to take photos. We were pretty tired by the end of it, more tired than I'd felt at the end of my running rounds there. Walking takes forever. I had to stop myself several times from annoying J by asking him if we were there yet.

On the way home

Saturday, 2 June 2012


Everyone and their mother are running Stockholm marathon today. Everyone except me. I didn't enter it, I never even thought about entering it; last year I did enter it only to be afflicted with plantar fasciitis and miss it anyway. That was ok though, because a few months later I did run my first marathon in Gothenburg, entering it on the day of the race.

Since then, I rarely enter a race in advance. Skövde was an exception, because I thought it would be risky to take the train all the way up there only to hear that the race was full. Otherwise I play it safe and wait to see if I'm healthy and uninjured on the day of the race, then enter it.

Seeing that so many people I know are running today (this marathon débutante, among others - go, Katarina!), reading about how excited people are on blogs and online forums, awakens the Hunger in me. I've been dealing with this injury pretty well so far, ignoring it as best as I can and turning my attention to other, non running-related things, but there's a limit to my mental powers. I miss running. I miss it like I would miss my opposable thumb if yesterday's self-inflicted stabbing injury had meant amputating it rather than just putting a band-aid on it. I miss packing my Inov-8 backpack with water and food, taking the train south and then making my way back to Gothenburg on foot. I miss the feeling of having all the time in the world, because time ceases to exist when you run far and the only measurement of your progress is how many kilometres you've put behind you. I miss getting lost on forest trails, in the shadow of some tall pine trees, in the company of deer. I miss the sense of belonging to this group of crazy people that run ultras. I even miss the rush of joining a thousand runners at the starting line of a race.

Instead of letting myself go hungry, I fill my stomach on empty calories. Going to the movies later to see Prometheus. Forging plans for the future. 6-hour races. Marathons. Adventure runs. If (and that's a big if, considering how it feels right now) my knee gets well in time. But my efforts to distract myself are futile. It's like eating Chinese food; you're hungry again half an hour later.

Friday, 1 June 2012


All this resting is doing nothing for my runner's knee. After a week of almost diligently embarking on daily long walks, my knee is back to how it was before Göteborgsvarvet. Why? Why? I haven't walked since Sunday, yet it's only getting worse.

Please don't tell me it has to do with my missing a couple of stretching sessions.

Okay, okay. It's more like a couple of weeks of stretching sessions. But surely such a MINOR miss can't cause the inflammation to flare up?

My cats have been keeping me up at night the last couple of days. Take last night, for example. Our youngest, who's normally so good at finding the sand in his litter box after he's done his business is now aping our oldest and digging all over the bathroom walls instead of in the sand.

Scratch. Scratch. Scratch.

Then, around 03.42 am, obviously having nothing better to do than think about ways to make my life miserable, he suddenly realised his claws weren't sharp enough. So he crawled under the bed, lay on his back and sharpened them on my mattress.

Beautiful, furry black cat, full of life and curiosity, available to a good home with plenty of scratching posts. Preferably to a person who works nights. Or a taxidermist.

I'm joking.


As you can imagine, I'm a little tired today. Eyes have trouble focusing on things. My narcoleptic fits have thankfully not caused any road accidents, although I was close to hitting a hare when it crossed the 30km/h road a hundred metres in front of me. Slow...reflexes.

My day only got worse after that. I spilled some water on the table at lunch. I stabbed my thumb with the tape dispenser as I was reaching for the stapler so it bled. I dropped my mobile phone on the floor when I tried to place it on the table and missed the table. Then I got a paper cut. Yeah. Ouch.

But hey! It's Friday. J has been on a business trip and is coming back later today. We will be celebrating his return with some brownies and a good film. Of which I'm sure I'll miss the ending, because I will have fallen asleep about halfway.