Sunday, November 27, 2011


Yesterday I attempted to run the 'Gløgg og Æbleskriver' marathon. My arm is still swollen from the elbow fracture and even though I can use it more and more it is still very weak and hurts when used. BUT I had decided to run this race back when November started and I felt that I had a chance to make it through. The marathon is arranged by Mogens Pedersen a Danish Marathon icon and is my favorite marathon to run.

I had to run with my arm in a sling tied close to my body. I could probably have run without the sling for a few km's, but I knew that my arm was far to weak for running without it for the full marathon distance. I hadn't run since last weeks accident so I wasn't sure how my overall condition was. I knew that my knee had hurt a little but I hoped that it wasn't more than the impact of the fall that had made them a little tender.

As I stood there fully suited and my right arm totally immobilized I did feel quite out of place. A few of my fellow runners came up to me and asked what had happened and asked me if I could run like that. I told them my story and that I would run as far as it felt OK.

The race started.

Within a few hundred meter I knew that it was going to be a hard one. Running with only one arm loose felt totally wrong and I had to use a lot of energy to compensate. Normally the first 10-15 km just feels like a warm up but yesterday I had to battle even the early km's. My legs as such didn't feel bad but the muscles I had to use to compensate for the 'lost' arm made their present evident.

Photo: Jens Buhl Christensen

After 13 km's I had to make a road side stop. I had taped one of my toes before the race to prevent blisters. The tape had the side effect of working like a sandpaper on its neighbor toe causing a big ruptured blister on that one instead. The pain was to annoying so the tape had to go and instead was moved to cover the ruptured blister. I used no more than a few minutes on the procedure but it was hard to get started again. A few km's later it was time for a water post again. I had a cup of energy mix and a cup of cola and headed on. The next km felt like an eternity and I knew that going 42.2 km wasn't going to happen. Hitting the wall at 16 km is far to early for a marathon race. I felt like turning around and just walk back to the water post but decided that I really needed to run at least the half marathon distance before quitting. 

Photo: Ove Kvist

The last km's before the water post felt better but my speed had dropped to a point where I knew that even if I made it all the way through it would have to include some amount of walking and that didn't feel right. Everybody can walk a marathon. I hadn't walked at all at that point and I really didn't wanted to either. Plus I totally didn't wanted to go relive my Copenhagen marathon!!

I quitted the race at the water post after ~21.2 km headed for the shower and had me some gløgg and æbleskiver which I totally didn't feel I deserved.

I really really struggled with the decision to quit and I still do. Part of me know it was the right thing to do but part of me also think that is was cowardly to quit a race not crawling. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fractured elbow joint :(

Yesterday was Wednesday and that means running with my colleagues. My legs felt great even after the Sunday marathon and I had a lot of surplus energy. So while the others ran on the pavement I took every chance I could get to run on every bumpy surface I could find, around trees, over boulders and through leaves and alike. What a great run that was! The group pace had been a little slower than I liked so when a colleague said lets speed up the last 500 meters I accelerated and kept running faster and faster on the pavement getting closer and closer to our finish. The pavement was dark and badly lit but I didn't think anything of it I only thought of getting to the finish as fast as possible. My guess is that I was running at about 20 km/t when a tilted tile surprised me ... big time!

Seconds earlier I had had my eyes focused on the finish like a cheetah hunting its prey but suddenly my focus shifted to the pavement wanting to make out with me. I managed to take 2 or 3 steps before finally diving into a somersault. Right away I knew what had happened. Placing my right hand on the pavement I had felt a strong energy wave moving up my arm and into the elbow joint. Shit .. Shit shit shit. I got up and ran the last 100 meters. The group asked me what had happened but I was thinking more of getting a bleeding injury in my hand cleansed and tested my arm for broken bones. The cleansing part was quick and painful using alcohol from a bathroom dispenser. Then checking my arm .. hand and fingers were ok but when I tried to push the wall I felt a sharp pain just below my elbow. Shit! I have broken several bones in my lifetime so I knew what that meant. Something in my right arm had broken.

A few minutes later my arm started immobilizing and by then all doubt left me. I headed for the local hospital :/

The Copenhagen emergency rooms have a rumor for letting you wait for hours and hours but within 5 minutes I was being looked on by a nurse and 5 minutes after that I was heading for the x-ray room. All in all it took about 20 minutes before a doctor gave me my verdict. I had a fractured elbow joint. My first question was "Can I run with that in 10 days?". The doctor looked at me surprised and said "No!". That was not the answer I was hoping for. I told him about my 21 days 3 marathons plan and that I had already run 2 of them and was only missing the last one in about 10 days.. He left the room gave it some thought returned and said "in 10 days you can run your marathon!" The nurse stared at him and objected but the doctor said stuff like "he is obviously in great shape" which I confirmed eagerly ;)

I was given a set of instructions: "keep your arm in fixed angle of 90 degrees" "If you fall you have only one option .. go left" "keep your arm close to your body and keep it still" ...

When I later informed my wife it went something like this "Hi dear, I've broken my elbow but the doctor said I can still run my marathon in 10 days!" .. Needless to say she wasn't as cheerful about THAT fact as I was ;)

Will I run? I don't know. The arm still hurts and is swollen. I'll test a short run next week before making the final decision. If it doesn't hurt I'll run. If not ... hmm

Never focus so much on the goal that you loose your sense of the road.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Not for me

Today I ran Rudersdal Social Marathon. It had 3 groups you could choose to run in a 4 hour and 4.5 hour and lastly a 5 hour group. I had chosen to run with the 5 hour group. It was described as a hard marathon and the race director wrote to the participants that they should pick a group that ran 30 minutes slow than their normal marathon pace. You had to run with a water belt or water cell since you were expected to bring your own supplies with you with the exception of 2 water refills here you could fill your bottles and get a cup of cola (love cola) and perhaps some wine gummy.

I don't have a water belt that is usable so I brought my Salomon s-lab 5 backpack filled with 3 gels, my Iphone, 2 pre measured boxes of energy mixture, some chocolate and of course some energy drink in the water cell.

Left the house at 7:30 AM arrived just before 9:00 AM. The race director had asked people to come a little early (the race started at 10:00 AM) so that we could join in the celebration of a Danish marathon icon who would be running his 500'th marathon today. He and his daughter who also run a lot are 2 well known and respected members of the danish marathon runners society. I think they have run close to 200 marathons together. I'm really impressed :) We also had a 100'th marathon runner today but it kinda stood in the shadow of the 500'th celebration.

My bag felt heavy as I lifted it from the ground but once on it wasn't that bad. I've been hungry for this race all week so when we finally started running I was ecstatic :) I knew that my group was meant to keep an average pace of 7:06 min/km but we set out quite a bit faster than that. The couple of km's was averaged with 6:08 min/km and the pace remained in that neighborhood. I heard a few people questioning the pace but the race director (who also was a pace maker) said that we were supposed to run a little fast until the first water refill (16 km in) and since my legs felt great I didn't think any of it.

Photo: Tor Rønnov. You don't get better company!

On the way to the water refill we passed some beautiful landscape, lakes in fog and so on. We also got mingled with a MTB race on a very narrow path which the bikers didn't really seem to appreciate :) Proves to me that running makes you less stressful than biking :)

We arrived at the water refill at the same time as the 4.5 hour group who had taken a wrong turn somewhere. I started looking for a refill bottle and only just got around to add the mix and water to my water cell when the group took of again to my surprise. At that point our average pace was 6:34 including the water break. Hmm .. I kinda concluded that I didn't share the 5 hour target with the pace makers. Keeping this pace we would only hit the 5 hours mark if people started getting problems later on and that was plain stupid in my book. I would have preferred that we had targeted an more even split.

In the kilometers to follow the group started breaking up. The front part still maintained a fast pace but 2 of the 3 pace makers was in the back picking up the people who couldn't keep that pace. I was starting to wonder what to do. Should I keep the fast pace or should I slow down to the pace that I'd planned and accepted for my 3 marathons in 21 days plan? My biggest concern was that the route was poorly marked and I was pretty sure that I would get lost without a pace maker. The only pace maker I could see was the fast one right in front of me so I decided to match his pace as long as possible. I did speak up about my view of the set pace to one of the others who seemed to be a semi official. His counter argument was that if people couldn't keep up with this pace they could just slow down and get picked up by one of the other pace makers in the rear. Not really what I thought running in a 5 hour group was meant to be about...

When running marathons my biggest problem is the kilometers between 22 - 30. After 30 km my second stage engine steps in and I'm running on endorphin, body fat and will power. For that to happen I need to be in the zone though. Today that didn't happen :( I had only just reached the zone and had run in it for a few km's when we reached the last water refill. I tried to be as quick as possible refilling my water cell but before I was ready to start running again the last pace maker insight had already left. Shit! I had only 10 km's left but I felt lost and alone. The signs marking the route was only 10 by 10 cm and was really really easy to miss. Luckily I managed to team up with another runner who had run out of energy. He had run the race 3 years earlier and had some idea of the route but only vague. We weren't a perfect match though. When he was running he liked to run a lot faster than I did but he often needed to take breaks so we were always in reach of each other. Let me point out that by now I welcomed the breaks and happily walked with him. The constant looking out for missed signs meant that focusing on being in the zone was impossible and every negative feeling in my body flooded my brain instead.

We got lost 2 times one of then only a km from the finishing line. Hadn't I had my Iphone and a map application on me we would have run in the direct opposite direction of the finishing line for some time! That little detour added enough minutes to our total time to make us just pass the 5 hour mark but only just. Had we had a pace marker to guide us we would have had NO problem reaching the finishing line in time or even faster.

My mood wasn't the best in the minutes afterwards but getting something to drink and eat and getting out of the wet clothes greatly improved it :) There was a reception for the 500'th marathon runner and I sat down and enjoyed the atmosphere of like minded people. Ahh :)

I DID have a great time with some great people today. I DID have some interesting talks .. especially with one of the pace makers. The only let down today was MY idea of running in a 5 hour group was different than that of the pace makers. Since this was MY first social marathon I will conclude that it was MY expectations that was wrong. On the other hand I will also conclude that social marathons is not for me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I .. hunger!!

Currently I'm sitting on my arse and letting my legs and joints recover before my marathon on Sunday. All I'm thinking about atm is running. I've set 3 PR's the last three weekends (10k, 30k, 42.2k). I'm in the shape of my life. I've visited the fitness center today for some weight training and biking. I skipped my normal 14% gradient 1 km treadmill warm up run and biked 5k instead. Added a little extra on the weights and ended with a high pulse biking. Didn't help, I'm still hungry ..

Yesterday driving home from work all I could think about was how great it would feel to just stop the car and start running instead. It's no secret that my legs have given me some 'pain pleasure' after the latest marathon but when I've had to make a short sprint down the hall to open a door for someone they have felt great and I've just wanted the hall to go on and on and on..

It doesn't really help me that I'm currently reading 'Extremløberen' by Jacob Juul Hastrup. It is a book about how he became a extreme runner and a day by day report of all the extreme races that he have run since he started. Jungle Marathon, Raid Sahara, Gobi March, Yukon Arctic Challenge, The Track .. just to mention a few. The non running chapters aren't that great but the once about running puts you right inside his mind and lets you share his battle not to give up and to continue to do what he does best. Running brings order to his chaos. The harder the struggle the better the effect. That is something that I think most 'serious' runners can relate to.

My legs have felt almost normal today and I hope I get some time for a short run tomorrow. I really need it ;)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Redemtion :)

I've had a cold for a few days and had hoped that it would be gone before todays marathon but noo .. it has just become worse and worse. I had planed to set a PR today aiming at 4:30 but coughs and a snotty nose made me wonder if it was doable.

I got up at around 5 AM after a night with multiple trips to my youngest bed giving her her pacifier. Not really the ideal night before a race. A few hours later my wife got up and took care of the childs so I could reach the race in time. Sunday is her day for sleeping late so I felt kinda bad that she had to get up at 7:30 AM.

I hadn't registered for the race online so I had do be there a bit earlier than most. The registering part didn't really go that well and my mood was getting lower. I went back to my car to change clothes. When done I headed for the starting area. On the way I meet a colleague and her husband. They were running a half marathon today. Time was short and I had to run a little to make it in time, since the parking was nearly 1.5 km from the starting area. 

Once I reached the starting area I ran into SLG and her husband SR. I have the greatest respect for the two. We said hi and talked a little about the route. SR was going for a PR today and so was I. SLG was a little nervous about the route but I told her not to be. We had both run the skovløberen marathon recently and I told her that this was much easier.

The race started and off we went. I had planed to keep a average pace of 6:23 but I couldn't help myself. My legs felt great and a few kilometers in I found a great running partner. At first I took the lead but later he took his turn. It was great to have someone to run with but I knew that the pace we kept would bite me in my arse later on. After about 18 kilometers we got mixed with the 10k runners and it was a great feeling overtaking them one by one. At times we were running close to pace 5:00 and after 21 km I could feel that I needed to slow down. The good thing about parsing 21.1 km was that there were going to be cola at the water post! At least that was what the website said. I really felt like having some cola for a boost. For some reason the hills from 22 km to 25 km felt really really hard and my pace dropped to something like 6:30. Auch .. now I got nervous. Had I pushed myself too much in the first half. Was I going to be able to make a PR after all?

My running partner had understandably left me when my pace dropped but at 26 km my friend from last weeks 30 km PR was waiting for me on his bike. He asked if it was okay for me that he biked along. I was more than thrilled to have some company :) The paths was wide and there was no other runners close by so it wasn't going to be a problem for anyone. When I reached 30 km after 3:02 I stopped to walk a little. I tried to calculate the pace I needed to keep to reach the finish line in 4:30. My brain was numb. After having walked for 100 meters I started running again I could see the next water post and hoped for some cola. By then I had passed 2 water post with no cola .. and reaching this water post I added one to the count. I grapped some energy drink instead and took my last Gel. The next 3 km was a mix of walking uphill and running flats and downhill. But then I started feeling good again. Well .. 'good' might not be the correct word but I was able to keep running even uphill. I started overtaking people again and I was focused on reaching the finishing line as close to 4:30 as possible. Time for the next water post .. still no cola. I did notice some empty bottles though and I concluded that there had been cola but there were nothing left by now, doh. By now I kinda figured that I would never see a drop of cola before I reached the finishing line. Have a banana someone said. I didn't feel like having a banana. I wanted cola ;) Normally I DO like eating bananas when racing though I prefer apples or oranges. The pattern repeated itself at the two remaining water posts .. empty bottles, no cola. Cola or no cola, I felt like a tank. Uphill or downhill didn't matter I was 100% focused on reaching the finishing line in time. Anything between 4:30 and 4:40 was acceptable to me. I met and passed less focused runners that didn't look like they were in worse shape than me but they didn't wanted it as bad as I did. As I got closer and closer to the finishing line I ran faster and faster. THIS is running, this is was a marathon is about. Giving all you have and then some, passing people that have 'given up' and settled with what ever time they get.

The last 600 meters felt like a sprint and I was quite sure that I would pass out when I passed the finishing line. I didn't. Instead I was handed a bag by a girl who said I had own it as a sprint price. Thanks I said and sat down. I had made it. 4:36. A 25 minutes improvement of my last marathon PR. I sat down and shed a tear or two.

Friday, November 4, 2011

1 month, 2 feets, 3 marathons

I'm going to attempt to run 3 marathons this month plus setting a marathon PR .. twice. I had already planned to run 2 .. but I've added one more this Saturday.

I won't be going safe on this one. I aim to make a new PR and test my current strength. Next week I have my second one. That one is a social marathon which means that you are a part of a group that runs together all the way to the end at a fixed speed. The last marathon is this years version of the first marathon I ever ran. It is a small 8 rounds marathon in which I aim for breaking my PR once more.

The next 3 weeks it will be me against November.

6/11 - Skovmaren
13/11 - Rudersdal marathon @ 5 hours
26/11 - Gløgg og æbleskive marathon

Should I get into trouble I will stop but in any case I WILL make the attempt. I'm NOT trying to injure myself I'm trying to test my own abilities.

"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go." - T. S. Eliot