Sunday, March 4, 2018

2017, where did you go :)

Lots of stuff has happen since my last blog post.

Work wise I started as head of development in a company that had been disrupted after years of dominating the marked. Trying to turn this super tanker into an agile fast moving machine has taken a lot of energy and focus. Not much time left for ultra training

Family wise I got married to a beautiful ultra runner woman I met the first time in AAUT 2015, Megan. She joined me here in Denmark, though she was living in UK at time where we met. 

The joined family

Speaking of AAUT this year was the first year that I didn't run the 230 km ultra run since I did my first in 2012. I also had to skip a planned 100 km race that my wife and I had run in 2016 as well.

Some of my last posts included yoga and healthy eating. Another thing I want to share with you is meditation. I hope to find the time to write more about that in the near future.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Zero to a 100k in 18 hours

Friday evening after my last official day at work I set out on an unsupported 100 km solo event. I was carrying everything I was planning to eat and drink in my backpack. I had made no drop bags and no water drops. I set out on a 'pilgrimage' to dive deep and to explore those thoughts that we tend to avoid when having an option.

It has been many months since I last had geared up. My backpack was filled to the brim. Food, water, extra clothing, vaseline, spare flashlight, heat pads, .. I had to leave a few things behind as they simply couldn't fit.

At 8:22 pm Friday evening I set out. I had planned a 100 km route that would begin and end at my front door. My target would be to do it in between 16 - 20 hours. I wanted to see a sunrise and not a sunset. That was my success criteria.

I knew it would be sub-zero temperatures most of the trip, so I planned to keep a steady pace that I could keep going at throughout. I didn't want to be soaking in sweat while having to take a break somewhere in freezing temperatures.

I had told my girlfriend that I would message her every hour. She didn't have to answer but I wanted her to know that I was ok.

First 10 km was on high-speed traffic tar road, not sure what was going through the head of the drivers as they saw me but at least some of them were nice enough to lower their lights. After that, the Jyderup trail began and I could focus on inner thoughts.

The next many hours was spent in darkness. I had turned my head torch to the absolute minimum setting to save battery. A small circle in front of me was all that I could see. I am glad I knew this trail before hand.

For many hours I was merely thinking about keeping the pace. Never thought about the grand scheme of things or how many hours I will still be at it. I had a little timer in my pocket alarming me when it was time to send a new message to my girlfriend.

I am a big tall man, I am the son of a fisherman, I am from Jutland, I have won many championships including a Danish Karate one. I fear nothing .. but man, the sound of the forest running in pitch black really started getting to me. I was looking forward to exiting every forest part of the trail every time I entered one.

After 30 km I was starting to feel it. My knees, my Achilles. At this point it hit me. No matter what I did I was at least a 4 hours walk away from rest. My girlfriend asked me how I was doing and when I said 'not great' she instantly phoned me. "How are you feeling", "Yes, that is to be expected. No surprises there", "We knew that", "Keep going, it will feel so good later", "There will be ups and downs". I knew she was right. I knew all of it. I never planned otherwise. But I was very touched by her reaching out to me. No one has ever done that. She didn't hesitate for a second before calling me. I was focusing on what did feel good. I had lots of food if I became hungry. I had water if I was thirsty, I had heat pads should I be cold, I had even brought pain killers should I need them. There was no problem I couldn't handle, even on my own

About 40 km in I found myself in a freezing fog. Ice crystals were forming in the air around me. It was beautiful.

Mentally it was a huge win when 10 km later I reached 50 km. Now every step was a step closer to home. Even though I literally still was going in the opposite direction mentally it made a huge difference. I was no longer in doubt that I would make it. Another 10 km later finally the city that was my turn around point : Jyderup.

60 km done. I was cold and hungry. I checked out google maps for a bakery and found one. Headed there. The look of the woman behind the desk as I entered was priceless. I sat down and had a nice breakfast: Coffee, chocolate milk, two rolls with butter and a coke for the trip home.

Life was good. I had made it so far. It was 10:30 hours since I set out. Still had two liters of water in my backpack. Lots of food. My girlfriend as support. Only 40 km to go and lots of time to make it before sunset.

When I head out again the cold really hit me. The contrast from the hot bakery to the sub-zero outside was striking, but I knew that it would pass. Just had to keep moving. I was soo looking forward to seeing the sunrise. I knew it was supposed to happen at 8:45.

It was cloudy and foggy so I would never see it. But I equally appreciated the light spreading around me. Finally.

An hour earlier it had been pitch black, now I could turn off my head torch. Now I could see the path ahead of me. Awesome. I asked my girlfriend to get some rest. She had been awakened every hour through the night when I had sent my status message. She had been so amazing. I am so grateful.

I asked her to rest, but a few hours later messages started popping in. From friends and family. Instead of resting she had started letting people in on my 'pilgrimage', asking them to send my encouraging messages. I was so touched.

It was cold. I was freezing now more than I had been during the night. I didn't eat a lot on the last 40 km. My food was really cold and I couldn't stomach it. I had my coke and that was basically all I drank.

The kilometers passed by and I upped the pace. I wanted it to be over before sunset. One of my friends asked me what direction I was coming from. He would join me on the last 500 meters taking photos.

It was nice having someone be there at the finish line. He even brought a tiny bottle of champagne for me.

I had made it. 100 km in 18 hours. I hadn't trained, I hadn't geared up since I got injured in July but with the moral support of the people around me, everything proved possible. Thank you all!! Most of all my girlfriend, who's reply, when I told her about this adventure two days earlier, simply was: "I understand".

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Finding a foundation - Yoga

source: Google

Disclaimer: To me, Yoga is not about being a tree hugger. I don't do crystals, auras, chakras or Gurus. I use Yoga for my own sake not to be part of a group. My group is my family. I approach everything that can't be explained with Science with a very skeptical expression on my face. Just because it is 'ancient' doesn't give it credibility in my book. That said I have invited Yoga into my life.

My first introduction to Yoga was a 1 on 1 session based on Forest Yoga. It was very intense and the sessions lasted an hour+. I was sweating buckets. I was a bit shocked about the exposure of some of the poses and to be honest I still am ;) Happy baby or Downward dog in Yoga pants doesn't leave anything to the imagination. My instructor was not left in doubt of what I was thinking about the hands-on corrections of my poses. With the unflattering stories from e.g. Bikram Yoga, it is easy to see how this can turn into something other than healthy exercises for the body and the brain.

source: Google

The Yoga that we know today has taken its root in tantra, which is aimed to help one's health, long life and liberation through extensive use of chakras and mantras and sexual techniques. As stated I don't do Yoga to examine these areas but be aware .. this is the root of Yoga. Again I can easily see how things can be sliding here.

Source: Google

After that session, I went on a Google session to find Yoga without nonsense. The search was funny. Half of the results stated that Yoga without the nonsense was exactly focusing on these areas and the other half was leaning forwards alternative options such as Pilates. It seemed clear that the Yoga community wasn't seeing the problem here. What do I know .. perhaps there was no problem but I was definitely looking for something else.

I knew from a number of friends that Yoga had given them a lot especially runners so I was keen on giving it a try but I wanted something pure and rid of 'nonsense'. Clearly, the exercises were effective and strength building. Adding tempo to the routines also made them potentially good cardio training.

There are many classes locally but I didn't feel like trying out all of them plus I like an exercise where I can do it when I have the time and need.

I went to YouTube. First impressions were that many channels were very much about the exposing the Yoga teacher more than giving good classes. The camera positioned to focus on the cleavages instead of displaying the correct posture. It is a business. Viewers mean money. This was not what I was looking for. I was nearly giving up on Yoga as a serious exercise.

I was looking for a structured series of exercises that was targeted to build strength and or flexibility to a certain area of the body without mentioning chakras, sexual energy, spiritualism, mindfulness or rules for how many grams of clothing one was allowed to wear. Where the practitioner is in focus, not the instructor.

Ultimately I did find a YouTube channel that was good. It was called Yoga with Adriene . I was a beginner and her beginning classes were very down to earth and she had a good portion of self-humor that made the all the nonsense way more acceptable.

I did her classes for many months until I got familiar with the names of most common poses and their target areas. Then I moved on to her more intense classes. Power flow Yoga, Yoga for weight loss and so forth. All was good but I had reached the point where I was ready for less talk and more structure. So I went looking again.

This time I ended up with Sarah Beth Yoga. Her channel was less feel good and more to the point. Most of her classes (except the early ones) are filmed from the side with a good view of how to position oneself correctly. They also provide an alternative to some of the tough poses so everyone can get something of the class. They are faster in pace so I really do suggest that beginners do begin with Adriene instead.

Both channels offer routines aimed at certain areas, moods or intentions.

One note I must make. I thought of Yoga to be safe and without chance of injuries. That is a far cry from the truth. There are many ways to get injured in Yoga. A Yoga instructor should guide you through these with care and you should not do something that your body isn't ready for. You CAN get seriously injured.

So have I found what I was looking for? I think I have. Though not totally ridden off the topics mentioned, I have found that at least one of these topics is actually good. Mindfulness. Being in the present without the noise of the past and the future. Enabling you to make the best decisions based on the current input. Giving yourself a mental break in a stressful environment. More on that in a later post.

Today my living room is turned into a Yoga studio. Simple and zen like. I do Yoga daily. I am more flexible and strong from the exercises. Had I been so if I had turned to Pilates? Likely, but I ended up with Yoga instead. If you want to take on Yoga yourself, try the two channels mentioned or look for no-nonsense classes in your neighborhood. Namaste!

source: Google

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Finding a foundation - Porridge

Porridge with apple (and a Rubik's cube about to be solved)

To work properly mentally and physically we need food. In my case a lot of it. We can easily find fast food to fill the hole in our stomach with but I find that it is much harder to find quality food on the road. Fast food tastes awesome but it will leave you to crave for more soon after and its long-term effect on the body, guts and circulation is bad, really really bad

One of my quick go to meals is porridge. Have you asked my younger self what my feelings about porridge was, I would have answered that I didn't like it. But this year I have really come to love it. The porridge I remember being a kid was this tasteless mass that would glue to the top of your mouth. I will share a recipe with you that is nothing like that.

I like keeping things simple so I just put the pot on my scale and add the ingredients one by one by weight.

1.) 70 gram of oatmeal
2.) 30 grams of quinoa
3.) 20 grams of honey
4.) 200 grams of boiling water
5.) 200 grams of milk

Boil for 15 minutes on medium heat to get the quinoa soft. If you don't have that long skip the quinoa or just eat them as is ( I do it all the time ). Serve with optional berries or fruit on top or mixed in of own likings.

Alterations: Lots! You can skip the honey and add more berries or bananas. You can skip the quinoa and replace it with more oatmeal. You can add more milk for a thinner texture. You can replace the milk with oat milk. Whatever you feel like :)

70 gram of oatmeal

30 gram of quinoa

20 grams of honey

200 gram of boiling water

200 gram of milk

Monday, December 5, 2016

Hero to Zero to ?

These last 2 years has been a roller coaster. I have been divorced, taken on the role of being a single dad, bought a house and a car to create a home, been someone's rock and recently lost my work through more than 10 years. Not because I did a poor job, I have worked my arse off and gotten every bonus possible. No, because my department is moving to Canada. I was offered to follow, but I can't, it would mean loosing my girls. I still have to find a new job.

I stopped running this summer. After doing too much in too little time I ended up with a ruptured Achilles. Nearly every year there have been something that I have had to fight myself back from. A broken bone, high blood pressure medication side effects, ruptured tendons, broken family. This summer I just lost my passion to be a superhero. I just wanted to be normal again.

I started running in 2010 and within that year I did my first marathon and then ultras. I focused on running instead of things that were important, should have been important. This I realized this summer.

This year has been harder than any year and I have seen a few hard ones. There are many things I would love to change about this year but I can't. I have done my best in all aspects. I just tried to do too much and hence failed miserably in nearly everything. This I realized this summer.

I don't know where life will take me now. I am not even sure I have hit the 'bottom' yet. With things coming to a conclusion I am building an foundation to grow on from here.

This year has been tough but someone told me something that has kept me focused:"When walking through hell, keep going!". I am from Jutland. I have no doubt that I will make it. This post is not about feeling doomed. I just wonder what the '?' mark in the title will be in the future.

I stopped running this summer. I wonder if it is time to start running again.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Different kinds of pain

A few years ago I borrow a book from a good friend by Marshall Ulrich named 'Running on Empty'. Now if you don't know who Marshall Ulrich is I urge you to google him. He is a study in dedication and his deeds are out of this world.

The main theme in the book is his epic run across the USA but also covers the story of why he started running and a number of other deeds he had done. The one thing that hit me the hardest was when he described how his wife laying in bed dying of cancer one day asked him not to run that day, something she had never done before, and him going on a run anyway. Knowing nothing else about the man, that situation might give you the impression that he was a cold, egoistic and possibly evil man. But he was not. Running was his only way to cope with the world at the time and not running would have deflated him instantly. It is a feeling hard to explain but I knew why he had to run and I knew how it would it haunt him forever after and I wonder how gutted and alone the wife must have felt.

Love and understanding. Marshall and new wife.

The same situation can be seen in my favorite movie of all time, the big blue. Again if you haven't seen it go see it now .. cause I am about to tell you how it ends. Visually and musically it is an amazing film especially when you take in account that it was filmed in 1988. The character is loosely based on real persons from the freediving scene, though very very loosely and they are always depicted in the extremes of their character. The 'hero' of the movie is a free diver called Jacques Mayol. He is a very loving and friendly person that is clearly stuck in his past, where he lost his father to the sea. When at land he is a fish out of water and even though he has a pretty pregnant girlfriend he still decides to go on one last final dive with the plan to stay down in his hope to meet 'mermaids'. Ultimately it is his girlfriend who pulls the string that starts his dive and sends him on the last journey. I know this sounds really really bizarre but believe me this is also something he simply has to do and she knows it at that point.

Hard to understand who would leave that behind
These are just two examples, but I see the same all around me in different form granted .. but still. I see this in a number of my running friends and I see this in myself. For some it is about using a little energy to gain enough energy to cope with the challenges of their lives, for some it about having something that is their own .. a little 'me time' and the list goes on and on. For some, this is their very last battalion before surrender.

It is easy when one is alone to give in to these 'needs' but when in a relationship it can be extremely hard on the other half and come at great costs for both. Blessed be those who are understood and those who understand. The rest have my deepest most heartfelt sympathy. Neither side of the fence is easy.


I was at the 'pain lady' a few days ago. It had been 2 weeks since I had been there last. The cupping marks had nearly gone but now it was time to get a new set.

that is blood you can see in the cups

As mentioned pain is part of what she does but I think it is only her way to find the relevant spots and she hasn't yet made me black out of pain. There is good pain and there is bad pain. Her pain is good .. except the blood cupping .. I could do without that, to be honest, but if it works I will convert it mentally to a good pain.


Friday I was out running with Kaare I meet at AAUT. It was our first reunion since AAUT and I was to show him one of my favorite trails. He himself is a fast runner and we made good speed while talking about running and family. Sadly I lost focus on the trail for a few secs and then I heard a large snap and felt a sharp pain in my right ankle. I have strained my left ankle many times but never my right. It didn't feel good. But the secret to stains is to keep moving them and keep them from stiffening. After a few painful steps, I was able to first slowly walk and the run and lastly run nearly normal speed again.

NOT my normal ankle size ;)
As we were once again making good progress and was running up a nice technical hill I was hit in the eye of an insect. Normally they just bounce off right away but this one stuck and then 2 secs later I felt an intense pain in the eye. I grabbed the bugger and threw it away but could feel something still was stuck. This I removed with my nails and found it to be the poison sack of a bee. It had stung me in the thin skin a few mm beneath the right eye. I couldn't believe my 'luck'. I had to laugh afterward.

Monday, July 20, 2015

AAUT 2015 - Furnage edition

Disclaimer: All this is written from memory and might be full of errors, misunderstandings and a ton of spelling errors (I am Danish not English). Photos: Jesper Kramer, Fred Coppens, Meese Geert, Francoise Therin, Joe Green and me.

I came back from this years edition 2 days ago and are currently laying in bed with my youngest watching Tin Tin cartoons.

As mentioned in my previous post I have followed the same training scheme as the last 4 years. This year however I was starting from scratch. I hadn't run for nearly half a year due to a number of circumstances including work, family life and side effects from some of my blood pressure medication (mentioned medication is now in the trashcan).

Basically training this year started with 20 km a week with was increased with 10% a week until I reached 85 km. Running was a mix of interval, tempo and slow distance running. I normally combine it with strength training as well but this year I didn't which sadly resulted in slower accents and slower speed hiking than usual.

I reached the airport 2 hours before the planned takeoff but due to problems with the baggage system and a dropped boarding card I wouldn't be aboard the plane until 4 minutes before take off and that involved a number of sprints back and forth through the airport.

After 3+ hours the in the plane I arrived in Malaga airport and was meet by Steve, Megan, Fran and Simon who would all race with me as well. I knew Steve from last year but the rest was new to me and the race but as I would learn the next following days they were all sweet and wonderful persons that fit the usual AAUT template.

Me, Fran, Simon and Megan

Pre race
Strangely we arrived in a Malaga that was covered with clouds and we even saw a few drops of rain on the way to Loja. First time I have ever experienced rain in Loja in the 4 years I have been there in July.

Once in my room, I was greeted by a note from my roommate Kaare a fellow Dane that I didn't know from earlier. He proved to be a wonderful guy and we shared the same humor :)

Hi Roomie!!
The rest of the Saturday was basically spent drinking beer with the old friend in front of the hotel and making new ones.

Denise, Kirsty and Graeme
Kaare, Charlie and I
Fred, Orla, Tony, Richard and Karin

Sunday started with breakfast and the traditional run to the base of the first mountain to test the form and the temperature. This year I ran with Kirsty, Denise and Graeme, who are all wonderful people. It felt great and my pace was fine and unhindered by the temperature. After this, it was time to hit the pool with Jesper, Hanne, Susanne and Vibeke who had arrived from Denmark. The pool was a nice break from thinking about mountains, gear and running .. and once there we meet a lot of the other runners.

Pool :)
In the evening it was time for the pre-race briefing I think all runners was reminded about the ultra running rule number 1: "Be humble".

Stage 1
Traditional Start at 9:45 and straight to the mountain. The climb went fine actually .. much better than 2014 and nearly as good as 2012. Reaching the top and having passed a couple of the old friends I actually felt pretty strong .. then started the downhill. One thing I haven't been able to sort out this year is my shoes. Normally I run in minimalistic shoes that have a natural fit. But I have run in Asics Kayano half a size above normal size all the years and I had decided to do it this year as well.

In 2012 it ruined my feet (3 nails 8 blisters) but in 2014 it went perfectly (only one tiny tiny blister) so I thought I had it nailed .. but I hadn't. Every day left me with 15-20 km of running before my feet was killing me with hot spots. If I am ever going back it will NOT be in those shoes.

Running down hill I immediately felt the problem beginning and morale going down.*sigh* On top of that it was *extremely* hot and to be honest the heat became my biggest problem that day. The week would include the highest temperatures on record for the region and means really really hot. There is nothing really you can do about it either you cope or you don't.

I found it hard to force myself to run and ended up doing more walking than I had hoped due to the heat. On the way to checkpoint 3 I was thinking this is too hot I wanna quit but drinking 7-8 cups of coke and what else they had changed that (as always ;) and I found my way out of the checkpoint again. I teamed up with Benny who's knee was bust and we ended up walking most of the last 9 km but still doing OK timewise. Benny was a great company and we had some great talks but I also learned from this year's race that I should never team up with anyone when I am feeling 'tested' unless they are faster than me, it gets too cozy .. and slow.

Temperature in the sun
The start
Megan and I at the base of the climb
Orla, Denise and I climbing
Nothing can describe the climb
4 years later, Fred and I met at exactly the same spot
Finally the finish

Stage 2
As in 2012, I cannonballed it. Full speed ahead until checkpoint 2. This actually put me way more up front than I had expected and came as a surprise to some of my fellow runners when we met out there. To be honest my speed declined a bit after checkpoint 1 but I was still going faster than in 2014.

I knew that I would be walking all the distance between checkpoint 2 and 3 due to the problems I had had last year during that stretch. I did this in company with Denise but what I didn't realize was how hard it was to get going again. I let Denise go on her own and a few km's later I was caught up by Jesper who I then again left go shortly after checkpoint 3. I simply couldn't get those feet going.

The heat was getting to me and the feet hurt. It was quite a shame because the downhill section after checkpoint 3 gives you 5 - 6 km where you can go full throttle downhill without loosing control. I just couldn't start the engine. I started thinking about why I was doing there and how much I rather would be at home with my girls instead of redoing a run in this crazy heat.

I really hit a mental low and I am not sure why. Anyway, I got my arse to checkpoint 4 and got refilled with coke and got my head cooled. Kirsty had left a few moments before me and I soon passed her. She offered that we could team up until the finish but I was mentally preparing myself to get into gear again and didn't want to team up with anyone (nothing personal just couldn't manage anyone besides myself at that point).

I got my speed up and at the top of the next hill, I could see the next runner, Fernando, how I soon intercepted and then next one, Jesper, who I passed just before a hill. Since Jesper is a friend from Denmark I felt it hard to run past him so close to the finish and I shouted something like: "Sorry, but I am on a roll have to keep running". On the top of the hill I spotted yet another runner, Denise, who I passed while she yelled at me: 'You are NOT doing this to me' (she was joking) and then just before the finish (meters) I sprinted past Norman. A few seconds later without a chair in view, I just threw myself on the ground ... The two doctors started giving me some attention and them being professional ignored me trying to tell them that I was OK. I was better than OK at that point I was soo happy to have gotten the engine started again.

Through the gorge

Out of the gorge full throttle ahead
Finally through the goat track
This screams for downhill running
Just waited for a car to pick me up here .. luckily no car came ;)

Stage 3
Staggered start. I was in the early group and gave it full throttle so did Tom and Norman and we reached checkpoint 1 within seconds/minutes of each other. After that followed the climb checkpoint 2. Earlier years this have been one of the places where I gain on people but not this year. I don't know why but my climbing was slooow and I was caught up by a number of runners going up this hill.. this was a new to me and quite a shock to be honest. When I reached the top I was going into a dark spot again. I passed a few of the runners on the way to checkpoint 2 but I remember feeling shaken and annoyed with myself.

After checkpoint 2 there was quite a climb which was just steep enough for you not wanting to run it but not much worse than that. Reaching the top I tried to run but within 50 meters I stopped again. This was one thing I hadn't trained enough .. Hardness. I didn't wanna run, why should I. It was hot and I knew I could easy make it home without fearing the cut off time. Not my proudest moment. Runner after runner passed me. Jesper teamed up with me for a few minutes and I shared my dark thoughts with him as I had the day before. He gave me his understanding and did the only thing reasonable .. ran off as fast as he could ;)

I felt better as I got to the uphill to checkpoint 3 and got the legs running again. The checkpoint was fine and after that, yet another uphill section which included a much needed overtaking the time came to run downhill. I managed to do this in very short bursts only and Fran and Steve came flying by. Argh, why couldn't I get the move on ... oh, what the f*ck. Why was I even there... Then suddenly a runner showed up with more problems than me (from behind). We teamed up for 4-5 km. It was nice and good company but we were both feeling dark and probably shouldn't have spoken a word.

I took a fall in the forest single track but after the forest I got my legs going and to be honest, they were a bit eager to get moving at that point. Reached the finish line in fine shape and many the runners that came after me looked much much worse. I just sat for myself for a long time after that and cleansed my mind. It was what it was I was going to do what it took to make it through and that was going to be enough without me beating myself with a stick.

New addition to this stage. Very nice, Paul!
Runners approaching checkpoint 2
Leaving checkpoint 2
Beautiful scenery
No pictures of me .. but I was running there as well :)
Megan, Liz and Sarah. This years super women!

Stage 4
Cannonballed the start together with Mario and Steven. Teamed up with Denise after the first climb and that lasted more or less until checkpoint 2. At that time I had developed a hot spot and I needed to take care of it right away since I didn't want a huge blister under my foot like in 2012.

I had reached the checkpoint in excellent time and took the time I needed to fix the foot. Graeme got a little impatient with me (you can't use to much time sitting here) but nothing could rock my boat I knew what I had to do. A few km after this we had a huge climb that has taken its toll on runners through the years. Long, steep and hot. Even though I once again noticed I wasn't as fast climbing as in 2014 I did well and even sang Norman a little song .. a gesture he still has to return :)

Vaseline #1 hot spot killer
Checkpoint 3 was nice and I felt fine both entering it and leaving it. Thereafter follows what best can be described as a looong downhill section which was killing my feet. I did run once in a while but generally, I tried to save them as much as possible. I made a mental note of refixing them once I reached checkpoint 4 but until then just take it easy and run what they allowed me to. Norman caught up with me shortly before checkpoint 4 and even though I ran the last few km's I simply couldn't follow him on those downhill sections.

Once I did reach the checkpoint everything felt fine except the feet. Richard joined me while I rested for a while. He is a stronger runner than I but he was digging deep that day. I decided not to fix the feet anyway but to wait till after the coming water crossing. I knew there were no downhill sections until that point and hence the feet wouldn't suffer.

I ran off and for a few km's I managed to keep up with Richard with was unusual and tells a little about how deep he was actually digging. Once I did reach the water crossing I made 2 fatal mistakes. #1. I didn't take off my shoes when I crossed it, thinking they will dry quickly. #2. I didn't stop to fix my feet since they were now wet and hence all the vaseline in the world wouldn't make any difference. Very very stupid.

Graeme and Orla, who had both exited the race due to medical problems, greeted me and shared some much-appreciated coke (cola!!!) before a long climb to checkpoint 5. Even at checkpoint 5, my feet was feeling very wet and I delayed fixing them once again.

After a few km's it was too much and I had to give it a shot. I sat down on the rear end of the doctor's car which had conveniently stopped for another runner. I applied vaseline to the hot spot but the feet was very wet still and it didn't work out. After only a few hundred meters I decided to take off the socks and soles and walk with the shoes like that while the mentioned items dried in the wind. It took the remainder of the trip to checkpoint 6 to dry them out. I was very cautious to run like that but once I did it actually felt fine.

At checkpoint 6 I reassembled the shoes and reapplied the vaseline. As the next runners came into view I ran off. I had noticed at the checkpoint that something was wrong with my left leg near the ankle. It hurt like hell right where the compression tubes ended. I had tried to re-adjust them at the checkpoint but it hadn't helped. I ignored the pain for a few km's then I gave up and started walking still at pain.

I kept this going for 4-5 km's before I re-investigated the problem. All it took for me to fix it was pulling up the tube a further 3-4 cm on the calves. Instant fix to a very painful problem. I ran what I could after this but I was very used and feeling very empty at this point. Hanne greeted me 1-2 km before the finish waiting for Jesper, but all I could do was crumbling down and giving myself a short break before running downhill to the finish. Last year I ended this stage with a sprint .. this year it felt like a crawl. I felt empty and drained of energy.

Thinking take it easy ..
Forgetting everything and going for it :)
Doing what I love
Norman and I one the way to Checkpoint 3
We saw a lot of this :)
Sorry, but this was NOT the awesome steak from 2014!! :/ :/

Stage 5
Cannonball start ;) Nothing much to write about. Everything went fine. I walked 'a bit' more than I would have like to but I still made it in OK time and at this point, I didn't really give a sh*t. I was going to make it and nothing could stop me short of a heat stroke! I finished with a long sprint and the legs felt both fine and strong.

After the race, I went for a shower as the first thing. I didn't really feel like celebrating and I didn't feel that I had done as well as I ought to.

Off we go. Taking it easy for 3 minutes and then ....
Not in the race ;)
Awesome scenery
Reaching checkpoint 3
Made it .. time for a shower
Megan, 3rd woman and 16th overall. Impressive!
Charlie, 3rd man and overall. Equally impressive!
Hanne, Jesper and Kirsty at the Gala dinner. Jesper did awesomely
Kaare :)
Susanne and I
Me .. being just me

Post race
So every year the same question: 'Are you coming back?'. No, as of right now I am not. Don't get me wrong it is a wonderful race and from what I hear it is better organized than much of what else is out there. But the last couple of years this have been THE race that I did and I have basically been redoing myself. I have none at home that is cheering for me so when I do this I only do this for myself. I know the problems I need to fix and I know that it makes no sense coming back before I feel that they are.

To be honest .. I think my largest problem this year was the ton of unhandled mental sh*t I brought with me from the past year.

From this year's race, I take with me a lot of memories about my friends .. old and new. If you were one of these, thank you for sharing those days with me.

I also got some insight into what makes my clock tick and what does not. They say that you find something out there on the long hot trails that you won't find anywhere else. I came to find it once again and I did. Now I need to handle what I found.