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.