When can you call yourself a runner?

How many times how you heard the question, so you’re a runner? I usually hesitate and answer kind of. I don’t really know why I don’t just say yes. A runner is a fast and serious person, very fast and very serious about every step. Right? When can you call yourself a runner? After the first step you take, after your first 5k run, after your first race… How many marathons does it take? Do you even have to run a race? Does it have to do with capacity or discipline?

The past weeks I’ve been bumping into blogs and articles about when is it ok to call yourself a runner. Some people say that you have to be fast and actually accomplish something, other says that as long as you get outside the door you can call yourself a runner. Do you have to run 5k in 20 minutes? Run a marathon in less time than it takes to walk to the neighborhood pizza place? Or is it ok to run slow? Does it have to do with how much you sweat or how tired you get? Can you call yourself a runner if you only run on treadmills and never outside? Is speed a factor? Or your looks? Do you have to look like a runner? And how does a runner look? I am not sure! I guess they come in all shapes.

A runner is a person who runs. And like it. Not always but most of the miles.

A runner runs, in all kinds of weather. You don’t stay in watching tv just because the weather looks bad. You don’t quit and go home because it’s raining. It doesn’t matter if you run 4 miles or 40 miles per week, you run. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you run (but if it is too slow it’s actually a walk). If you work, get your heart rate up and and wear a pair of running shoes then you’re a runner.

We all have different reasons why we run. Some run because their doctor said it’s good for the cholesterol, some people run to look awesome naked, to be able to eat more, some run to clear their thoughts, to be alone, to be good role model for their kids, to feel good, to get faster, to loose weight. We all have our reasons. I wish I could say that I had a really good reason why I feel like it is so necessary to lace my shoes and head out. I wish I could say that I really feel like I want to run superfast and get skinny, to be an awesome mom. I don’t have a good reason. I just like running and it makes me feel so darn good.


Get a pair of shoes and head out… and stay away from the treadmill!


And choose your distance for the day.


Thank you

It’s not really a secret that I happen to go to the gym more or less every day. I usually pack my bag the night before and take off after I’ve dropped off the kids at different schools. If I have to work or do something else I usually try to get in at 5am, before I get the kids up. If I have company I rather run outside in the dark, it’s a great way to start your day. Watch the sun wake up and hear birds and rabbits move in the dark when you pass on the trail and every once in a while you get to greet a deer or a coyote. Extraordinary!

I am pretty good at planning my days around running and classes at the gym. If I don’t have time to run/bike/take a class/swim it is a very bad and not very happy day. When things get routine you tend to forget important things, you don’t notice what is happening around you and you take things for granted. I will try to get better at thanking people around me that makes my day easier and happier. 

The lifeguards at the pool. Always watching out for you, always with a smile, always a nice word. I love the way they talk to the kids around them.

The front desk people, always nice and smiling. And always a nice word.

The ladies in the locker room. I am amazed, the locker room is a never ending story. I am amazed how people can just drop their towels and seriously mess things up. There are people there all the time, they never get a break. And you never see them stand still, they constantly move, clean, help…

There is a very nice guy that always vacuums the stairs that leads from the pool and up two floors. I don’t know how many times he has told me to have a wonderful day. He makes my day every time. He is one in a million.

And of course everybody else… Thank you.

Something totally different. Two days in a row, I laughed so hard that I started to cry. Really laughed and really cried. Isn’t it great to laugh, it makes the rest of the day so much brighter. The funny thing is when you try to describe why you laugh it sounds really lame. And as soon as you do something your kids are there with their phones. So, from me to you… this is how Caroline and I look when we kind of laugh/cry when having lunch.

Swimming on the right side

A new week. Monday night started with a home game and one of my players stayed home sick. The other player got home after 9.30, ate dinner and started homework. Rumors tells me she went to bed 1.15. And from the look she gave me when I woke her up at 6.30 it could been later than 1.15. Great start of the week. Our weekend passed quick. A nice dinner with friends, lots of sleep, golf for some and work Sunday. The slowest weekend in a long time. I am still walking around feeling “post race trauma”, have an emptiness growing and feel like I have no clue what’s going to happen. The “back” fracture kind of made it worse since I can’t run for a while. And it gives me a strange feeling, maybe I will forget how to run? What if my legs won’t work when I try to run in a couple of weeks? Dealing with injuries is not my strongest side. I get angry and feel depressed, I need my daily running/sweating fix. I know, ridiculous. I was so looking forward to a fall of biking and it feels like someone stole something from me. And I don’t have anybody to blame but myself.  

Got a good 1,5 hours of swimming and strength in today and it feels like I am getting back on track. But swimming, still not convinced. It’s just…wet and troublesome. I had my favorite right lane all by myself today until I collided head to head against a not very nice woman. She just got into the water and started swimming in my lane without making any kind of sign to me that she was there. I don’t swim with my head up, I look down at the bottom of the pool when I swim and occasionally my mind disappears away. After our collision we made it very clear that I will be swimming on the left side of the lane and she would swim on the right. I took off and bang. One more collision. She insisted on swimming right over the midline, the wide blue line. Really! I had about 400 yards left so I kept swimming on my side but started some serious sighting and managed to stay away from her for the rest of the time. What’s up with some people? And I was there first!  

School night

Day 2 of curriculum nights. I really enjoy curriculum nights. Not only because you get to meet other parents but because I get to sit and listen to other teachers. I love teachers. It is interesting and I still get surprised and actually blank in my head when it comes to questions. How can people think so differently. We read the same literature and have the same intentions, to educate kids and get them ready for life and everything that involves growing up. And I realize that after 6 great years in excellent schools and with amazing teachers I still feel very Swedish. And it is not all about the language, I know English will always be my second language. It is the way we think, the way we treat children, the way we act and the way we talk. I am not saying that one country does it better than the other, it is just different, totally different. Even if I love our schools here I will never agree about the homework load our kids get. It is in my opinion completely unnecessary. As a teacher I really avoid homework but there are always parents that asks for it, strange. Why? If we want kids to learn and develop a healthy lifestyle let them be kids and let them have time to enjoy life a little bit more. 3-4 hours of homework after 7-8 hours in school (with no breaks and no time outside) is crazy. No wonder everybody has to eat Vitamin D here. I don’t think kids learn from huge amounts of homework, it comes to a point when it get to much and it’s does the opposite. School becomes negative and they focus on the stress and the fact that they don’t have enough time to finish every night. Check out the high school kids at our volleyball games, they don’t have time to watch their friends play because they are trying to squeeze in a couple of extra hours of homework when they are not playing so they don’t have to stay up after midnight. That’s how you create stressed and overworked kids and teenagers. Add on bad eating habits and not enough sleep. And don’t get me started on PE. I love PE, my kids loves PE but there sure are ways to kill the joy of moving and running. Get a stopwatch and ask kids to run a mile fast and they hate running. And grade their throws and kicks, jumps and shots and they will feel like they’re never good enough. Hopefully not for the rest of their life. And why are some sports worth so much more than others, how can you grade sports? And why do we think some sports are cooler than others? We just want our kids to move and enjoy working out. Simple.        

Day 18 of no family dinners. It’s easy, high school sports = no time to eat dinner. 3 out of 5 are taking high school sports and 1 out of 5 takes middle school sports this year that means that 1 person get to do everything else that has to happen around the house every night (without sitting down). If it’s not a game night that has been happening 3 out of 5 nights, then the whole family gets involved and usually gets home around…extremely late for a child. We are on a crazy schedule and somehow I have forgot that I need to get groceries to cook dinner five days in a row. Went to the store twice today since it seems like I lost the ability to think and write notes. Who needs to eat anyway. Well, everybody gets hungry all the time and every time I am around the only question I get is what’s for dinner? The kids cooked tonight and I went to curriculum night, again. Win-win! 


How do you sit down when you’re not supposed to sit? Beats me. I am sitting. I kind of forget that I am not supposed to sit. I broke my tailbone Friday. I thought I was ready to conquer the scary trail, got my skis on and went to Sammamish River Trail (Marymoor felt kind of flat and boring the third time.) I was ready for the trail but not ready to share it with others. A nice but unleashed dog was happy to see me and I took a step to the side and hit the gravel. Roller skis don’t go well with gravel so I slowed down, in less than a second and fell on my coccyx. That is a cooler name for tailbone. The bone I broke into little pieces. After scooting around over the weekend I went to my doctor yesterday. I needed to hear that those things happen and it’s ok to run with a little pain around your buttocks. Today running feels impossible so I went to the pool and used my arms. Not my favorite thing to do. And apparently little bits and pieces can move around so I need to stop moving and not sit down.

This honestly sucks. I have had my fair share of injuries the past years and felt pretty done with broken bones and torn ligaments for the moment. This ridiculous piece of bone is totally useless. And so am I. No running or biking but lucky me, I can squat a little. And I have been going on and on about endurance and overcoming psychological challenges. Back to square one. The biggest challenge will be to heal a tiny useless, tail like bone. I usually think “clear your mind and the rest will follow”. My mind is so done with this and it’s on its way to a mountain top but my butt seem to be stuck at physical therapy. A different kind of endurance…

A new year…

All my plans ended around September 1st and life got a bit empty after the race, THE RACE, and I flew back home and life continued. And I turned 41 yesterday. That is a big number. 41, I am middle-aged. Done with tiny kids, have a stable life, a car that I like and many credit cards. And I don’t have dinner at McDonalds or Taco Bell. And I have lots of laundry that needs to be folded, all the time. And I don’t care if it is Saturday or Tuesday when I drink wine since I go to bed around 11 anyway. When my kids talk about old people they usually say she’s 40 something. That’s me! I am now something.

Well, this old lady needs to make plans for this coming year. And I’ve been thinking of my training and racing year and as always I got some advice and help from the guru. What would I do without him? We met and talked. We agreed that now is the time to do fun stuff, rest and try new things. What I heard was mountain biking in the woods, go on long trail runs, fun fun fun fun fun. Take long thinking breaks, watch the view and bring a thermos with coffee, a nasty sandwich and a huge chocolate bar in my backpack. Maybe restart hot yoga and pick up squash again (it’s only been 19 years since I quit after moving from Belgium). Run for fun, I like that. And I saw myself rolling around Sammamish River Trail petting dogs, talking to seniors and having lunch at Red Hook half way into my roller skiing days. That’s what I heard during that hour we met. Sounds nice, right?

I got an email the day after we met. Shoot. Having fun is still ok, I heard right but I still need to do the minimum. My usual strength Monday and Wednesdays, two bike rides per week, at least 20 something miles of running and swimming at least twice per week. And then the fun stuff…

And when should I do yoga, and how about coffee breaks and enjoying the view at the top of Mt Si? And I was going to start with something new. I have heard that biathlon or diving is fun. High jump is supposed to be entertaining for tall people. And how about squash? And curling? And run for fun?

Well, I guess it’s good to get back to normal training hours since it is so difficult to know when to take a shower otherwise. If you don’t exercise, when do you shower? It feels a bit pointless if you’re not sweaty after running or training.

Välkommen höst!

Skolstart och regnrusk, blöta skor och fruset in till benmärgen. Idag var det höstens första skoldag för alla barn på Svenska Skolan i Seattle. Finfina barn som förväntansfulla kom till parken i Redmond för att träffa sina nya klasskompisar och fröknar. Eller var det kanske fröknarna som var mest förväntansfulla och pirriga? Det brukar vara solsken och varmt när vi intar årets första korv med bröd och går tipspromenad. I år dundrade himlen lite, gjorde lite oväsen precis när vi började. Regnet småskvätte lite men de värsta skurarna verkar ha stannat runt omkring parken. Vi klarade oss från att bli genomdränkta och satte oss i bilarna hyfsat torra. Några nya gluggar där det suttit framtänder fick jag se och nog hade nästan alla vuxit minst en decimeter över sommarlovet.  Välkomna tillbaka till ett nytt år!

Det har varit en tuff vecka för skolbarnen här hemma. Inte mindre än tre bortamatcher under förra veckan och vi åkte så långt som till Whidbey Island för ett av mötena. Långa kvällar och tuffa möten. Middag har intagits framåt 10 tiden på kvällarna och läxorna har gjorts efter det. Det är ett hårt liv för highschool barnen som har många ömmande kroppsdelar efter veckan. Nya tag och ny vecka! Go Kangs!

Ett nytt år med nya äventyr har jag framför mig. Tack alla för meddelanden och hurrarop på min födelsedag igår. 365 dagar till nästa är ju en hel evighet. Kan bara meddela att jag känner mig äldre än någonsin. I fredags rullade jag runt på mina rullskidor längs vattnet när jag blev överraskad av en lös hund som var lite närgången. Jag tog ett steg åt sidan och hamnade i gruset. Där var det tvärnit och jag satte mig platt på rumpan. Och inte faller man lika mjukt på asfalt som på snö så svanskotan har fått sig en törn. På’t igen bara, jag planerar att rulla vidare nästa vecka. Jag är tacksam att vi har en mjuk soffa och mjuka kuddar hemma.     

A very long post

Everything happens in the fall. The nature turns to beautiful golden colors, the air turns crisp, school starts, work starts, life goes on, the car needs a tune up, I need a haircut and a serious makeover… It is fall! Fall is like a Kinder Egg (that I still can’t believe is illegal).

My regular work at my school starts Sunday. It is lots of new kids this year and some new staff. Very exciting. I am brushing up my principal and teacher knowledge and reading through the curriculum and the course syllabus from the Education Department. Nothing really new but linguistically better formed. I get kind of stuck on different formulations. When can you call yourself Swedish? Is it a passport question or a something you feel in your heart? Is it enough to speak the language? It is actually pretty important when it comes to who the course plan and syllabus include. Important to discuss.

I got my ski poles today, finally. Can’t wait to try my new gear out, really try it out. I made a halfhearted promise to not try it when I was home alone. That’s how much my husband trusts me. I know he is just worried since my track record is pretty bad. When I do stuff that includes wheels and helmets broken bones seems to happen. I listened, so I stayed around our house. I did not fall, don’t think that would have been possible since I rolled around so slow even the snake in the back yard stayed and watched. Challenging, that’s all I’ve got to say. It’s going to take some hard work. Phew.

I dusted off my mountain bike today. First time since my head and elbow smashed into the ground and left me in tears on the trail. The bike was full of spider web, that’s how long it’s been, 10 months. I was expecting a bad fall, handlebar in the stomach area, bad bruising… something. I didn’t even get a fly in my eye. Everything went really smooth. Biking is fun! And then I stopped by the pool, a short swim and then back on the bike to get home. 50 yards and I was dead tired, I forced myself to swim for 30 minutes. I’ve felt really good since I got back, not too tired and sore. But apparently I am worn out. Train wreck, my arms don’t want to move and my breathing is off. I guess that happens after a 9k swim. Who knew? And I thought I was immortal.

Life goes on. Kids started school when I was vacationing in the Swedish archipelago, swimming around with jelly fish, enjoying electrolyte drinks, thunderstorms and gel that tasted like lime slugs. I tried to take care of everything I could before I left (read: writing checks and signing papers). They are busy, volleyball and badminton takes more time than school. I feel sorry for the three little nuggets that we have to schedule sleep on Sundays, apparently that will be the only day of the week when I will see them in daylight. Less than a week and we are already questioning the importance of school and why the teacher mom forced the poor high school kids to take AP classes since volleyball is the most important thing happening in high school? And when will we have time for drivers ed? Hopefully not until everybody turns 20. And how sore can a body feel after two weeks of the season. Sitting on the floor is out of the question even for a teenager. I really tried to curl the kids today bringing Jamba Juice and food before the bus left for Whidbey Island. Curl kids you ask?? It is an excellent Swedish expression. It means that you sweep the surface for your kids, really try to help them out, make life all golden and they don’t have to do a thing or even think (and that is not always a good thing). It’s not always positive if you want your kids to grow up. Well, at the moment I am the queen of curling. I’ll take a chance here, they will probably grow up anyway. I kind of sense that the school year 2013/14 will be the year of curling.

Below I add on an old blogpost from January ’13. A reminder how much we care about our girls. New schools, new sports and new friends. Change is good but scary!

I have three amazing kids, three beautiful girls. I don’t know how it happened but they are growing up. What feels like a couple of years ago we worried about preschool and swimming lessons, now we deal with drivers ed and honors classes at high school. The days go by slow but the years fly by so fast. 15 years feels like 5.

Our move to Washington was a big change in our girls’ life, both good and bad. As a parent you always question your decisions that involve your kids. You always wonder if you did the right thing, made the right decision. We have all learned and experienced so much and it has been a lot of laughter but also tears. I can’t even remember the first year we lived here, my mind blocked it somehow. Did we make the right decision? I do think so and I really hope so. This adventure will be a lifelong experience that we will all carry with us for the rest of our lifes. And I am sure growing up in different cultures has shaped their lifes. They will always view life through a lens that is different from their friends. Friends that lives on two different continents. We live in different cultures instead of reading about it in textbooks, we meet people that are very different from us every day. What awesomeness.

The only thing you really want for your kids is happiness. Not power or money, just for them to find their sweet spot, their thing that gives them goose bumps. You want them to grow up doing what they like to do, enjoy their lives. And you don’t want them to make the same mistakes as you did. But maybe they’ll have to. To get the experience and to feel some sort of pain. If I could I would pass my experience down to them but I can only give some advice. Just a few life lessons on the way, some more serious than others…

Keep swimming girls… before you blink high school will be over.

  • Be nice to your sisters, always.
  • It is ok to be homesick and long for all loved ones in our other country… they will still be there next summer.
  • Never get in a car with a drunk driver. Call home, any time.
  • Work out. As much as you can and as hard as you can. And it is ok to look sweaty, not very cute and feel like you are going to puke. It is actually good for you.
  • Always work hard in school, it will pay off. But remember, you can only do your best.
  • Never be afraid to ask for help.
  • It is ok to spend a lot of money on shoes, especially running shoes.
  • Don’t worry about love when you are 15, you have plenty of time. I am sure you will not even remember the name of the cutest guy in 9th grade when you turn 30. Life goes on.
  • Accept people around you. Nobody is perfect. Not even you.
  • Do your thing. Be different. But don’t wear too short skirts.
  • Travel as much as you can.
  • Laugh often and hard. And laugh at yourself.
  • Keep your eyes on the ball, in sports and in life.
  • Learn how to drive a stick.
  • Learn how to cook and bake bread. Enjoy food, it is good for you and it brings people together.
  • Change is good, scary but good.
  • Do things that scare you.
  • No tattoos or visible piercings. And no, I will not change my mind about this.
  • You are all three so much stronger than you think.
  • If you can’t think, go for a run, a long run.
  • Don’t stress… you have a long life ahead of you.

This week’s favourite song:

Ö till Ö, World SwimRun Championship 2013

First of all, thanks to all of you that have sent messages and kind words. I can’t believe how fortunate I am to have so many great friends all over the world. And a big thank you to the organizers and the volunteers for Ö till Ö, The World SwimRun Championship 2013. We had an amazing time and I will never forget this weekend in the Swedish archipelago. The weather was amazing and we felt really lucky that the wind stayed decent. We got the chance to meet really nice people, other participants that we got to know a little.


I am back home, arrived just in time for a huge thunderstorm. The sky opened up and burst out in thunder and lightning, but I went to bed and slept a whole night for the first time in nine days.

I have been trying to think and form some kind of race report in my head. I don’t know if you are allowed to write a race report when you didn’t finish but it feels important to close this chapter and start over. I had about 20 hours of travelling yesterday and decided to write something, it didn’t go that well. I picked up two new books at Stockholm Airport and finished 1200 pages before I started thinking. (For all of you Swedes out there, Keplers new book Sandmannen was really good.)

If you don’t know what Ö till Ö is please read my previous post and check out www.otillo.se for more info.


The first swim 10 hours before the race.

For some reason it is hard for me to remember the whole day, the islands kind of float together. The landscape is beautifully intoxicating. The water and islands go so well together and you never get tired from just looking at the horizon. If it would have been a regular summer day I would have sat down on a cliff and enjoyed the view, got my thermos and a cinnamon bun and stretched out to feel the sun. It would be nice to come back and do this again and maybe enjoy the view a bit more.

We didn’t have time to enjoy the view, we felt like two stressed deer in headlights moving over one island after the other, chasing cuts and trying to keep the pace up. We kept a decent running pace but lost too much time in the water. We made 4 out of 5 cuts and raced for almost 12 hours. It felt good to take a shower and go to bed that night. I woke up after 2 hours and thought I had a bad fever. My body was steaming, it was no need for a sauna. My legs swelled up after a few hours and my ankle got more purple and swollen every hour.

We lost a lot of time on the longer swims. The first and longest swim, 1650 meters towards the blinking light on one the islands in the horizon, took a long time. For some reason it didn’t feel long in my head. Maybe it was the helicopter and the boats that made it feel short, maybe it was the vomiting in the beginning that made it so enjoyable Winking smile, maybe it was the shock of the cold water. I don’t know.


The first two islands was running and jumping over rolling, loose rocks. We stayed close to the edge of the water and our feet were under water for the first 2 hours. I got a rock under my left big toe nail at the first island and it took 12 hours before I got it out.

My fear of waves and the uneasy feeling about swimming in the ocean was cured 10 minutes into the race. On every run I couldn’t wait to get back into the water and get chilled off.

The 1400 meter swim to Kvinnoholmen after 8 hours really sucked the energy out of us. It was windy, cold water, high waves coming in from northwest and it was… the open sea so a wrong turn ends up in Finland. I could see the boats on the side but they kind of disappeared in the wind and the waves. A couple of hundred meters in our rope broke and I saw the pink hook sink in the waves. I dove down and got it and we attached it to my west that after that got a bit stuck over my head at every stroke. At least we were attached together. On all the longer swims I counted breaths or strokes to keep my mind on something and get the time to move faster. This time I told myself that it would probably take 3000 breaths to get over to the other side. 3000 breaths on the right side were I found an air pocket in between the waves, that’s about 6000 strokes. We didn’t even get close to halfway after 3000 breaths. The wind increased and the waves got higher and higher. But, somehow we got over to the other side. The cliffs looked like a wall and we started climbing again.

Even if you move the whole time when swimming you get cold. My fingers and especially my nails turned purple after the first swim. We both had difficulties to use our fingers and hands before and after the swims. It got more and more difficult to get everything on and off. Just opening the hooks felt impossible. It felt like my paddles were made for a 2 y o every time I put them on, it was just impossible to fit my hands thru the holes. Getting water out of the bag felt unnecessary since I knew it would be difficult to get the bottles back in. Probably a big mistake.


After the last long swim, 970 meters Kymmendö Bunsön – Getskär, we knew we had to run fast to make the 4th cut at 4pm. We ran the 2,7k so fast that I didn’t even have time to breath. I thought the race would end for us right there after 10 hours but we made it. We stuffed a Kexchoklad into the wetsuit and jumped off the boat dock and swam the last 300 meters to Ornö. We got out of the water and started running again. A few kilometers in we heard really strong thunder and a few seconds later the sky basically just opened up and it was pouring down. It got really, really cold and I tried to get the arms of the wetsuit on to warm up. For us this was the last part of the race, we realized that we wouldn’t make it to the next cut. We jogged and walked 12k to the next energy station on very sore legs. We were wrapped up in blankets and got drinks and bars and life felt pretty good there for a while.

Something that stole a lot of energy was to get out of the water and up on the cliffs. It is easy to forget that we got in and out of the water 56 times, and there is no time to adjust when you get up, you just have to keep moving and do what you need to do when you are moving forward. I always feel very unstable and dizzy when I get up and I don’t know how many times I took a wrong step and twisted my ankle. The cliffs were brutal. It was slippery, hard and scary. On some places the cliffs are so high and steep, I thought more than once that if I fall I will not walk away alive.

When you read the description of the race 65k running and 10k swimming doesn’t sound that bad. 65k running is about 1,5 marathons and that feels like a doable run, doesn’t it. But the 65k run is one long obstacle course, it was more climbing than running. When you thought that you had a trail around the corner it was cliffs, forest with trees to climb over and bushes that hurt all the way into the bone marrow. Actual running didn’t happen too often. This is the part of the race that feels most surprising but also very exciting. It is impossible to count pace and finishing times since the terrain is so difficult. But this also suck the energy out of every part of your body. Every step you take you have to lift your legs above your knees, and you climb and use your whole body. I have never experienced the pain I had in my calfs and I’ve never felt so tired emotionally as I felt when I reached Ornö after 10 hours in the race.

I bet it sounds like I am whining and complaining. I am but I am not. I loved the race and I could never have imagined before how difficult it would be. It was everything x 1000. I heard a voice in my head that said never again, never again, over and over. But somehow I forgot that and the next morning I could only remember the nice view and beautiful surroundings. The only thing that reminded me of the bad pain, the emotional hopelessness was my beaten body. I don’t know why but I really, really hope I get another chance.

And a huge thank you to Josh Fitchitt and Seby Alary. I don’t think I would have made it to the first island without your coaching and your positive attitudes. Thank you! Merci!


The day after, no waves and sun.

It’s been five days since the race and feel ready to make new plans. I brought home new toys… lets roll…


The day after ö till ö

I don’t even know how and where to start. Maybe 18 months back, a morning 3 h run in Redmond Watershed, a cold morning in April. Anna was the first person I met that have heard about Ö till Ö, my dream race. We met and decided to go for a short run. Anna asked how much time I had and I answered 3 hours and she said that it sounds like a nice, short morning run, I think I like you already. Our short runs gave us a lot of time to talk. I think we talked about the race very run we did for a few months. The only problem was that I didn’t swim very well. When they released the lottery tickets we got so excited so we bought 4 and waited for the big day. Anna moved back to Sweden, I broke my elbow and my wrist in a bike accident but we stayed in touch waiting for the lottery result. And I started working on my swimming, just in case.

The race is divided in about 65 km running and 10 km swimming, you run over 24 islands and swim between. You swim in your shoes and run in your wetsuit. It is called the World swimrun Championship and most of the participants apply on merits. You need to win a couple of Ironmans and World Championships in swimming to get a spot and its people from all around the world that applies for the 100 team spots. Interesting crowd. And we got a team spot for the magical race September 2nd 2013 Stockholm archipelago, Sweden. And after a lot of training, thinking and basically learning how to crawl I found myself looking out over Sandhamn harbor dressed in a wetsuit and a heart beating like never before.

We started in the back row and did a short 1,2k run and reached the sea. The Baltic Sea. I cannot tell you how worried I’ve been about the swim part of the race, the almost 10k ocean swim. We started out really slow, tried to find a nice pace. I somehow got a bit stressed, started to swallow saltwater and vomited after about 50 meters. Anna didn’t even notice so we just kept on swimming. We reached the first island after 1650 meters of swimming, one long mile and I felt good for finishing the first long swim. And then we started climbing cliffs, chasing cut offs and we never stopped.

The running part was almost no running, it is everything but running. You climb cliffs and try to get through really bad terrain. We kept a good “running” pace the whole race, we kept moving forward but we didn’t go fast enough. We knew from the beginning that our problem would be the swim part. We did ok, kept a steady pace but we didn’t swim fast enough. We had to chase every cut starting with the one at 9am and we felt stressed like crazy. When we reached Ornö after racing 10 and something hours we heard a big thunder and it started to rain. We checked the time and realized that our legs did not move fast enough to take us 20k to south Ornö before 6pm, the last cut. On a normal day we could have done it but not after 10 hours of racing. We decided to jog the 12km to the next energy station and take the boat back. And we felt pretty ok with it. We knew that we did our best. Maybe we could have made it if we had a better day without jetlag, sleeping issues, more swimtraining… but we did what we could that day. And it sure was an interesting day.

I will try to describe the islands, the swims and the surroundings another day but I still feel too tired to even think about it. My body hurts on few places but I am surprised it’s not worse. I have big bloodblisters under my big toes and a messed up toe from running with a rock under the nail for 10 hours. It feels like my left calf is about to fall off but I am sure it will get better soon. My lefts foot is swollen and unstable from twisting it a million times. But my biggest concern, my left elbow feels ok. I am trying to sort out what happened in my head. I did drink and eat the whole day but I could have done better, as always. We rushed to every energy station/cut and felt like we had to grab something and leave in a few seconds. I had a cold cup of coffee at the 2.30pm station, best cup I’ve ever had. And someone handed me a piece of Twix after the 1,4k brutal swim and it felt like I got a million dollars in a piece of chocolate. Heaven. All the volunteers and race staff did a fantastic job. We felt safe with all the boats around when we swam. We spent two excellent nights at Sandhamn and Utö and could not have asked for more.  

We had the equipment worked out pretty well, but you learn from your mistakes. My paddles really helped me but it also took time to get them on since my fingers turned purple after the first swim. Even if we had big hooks for the rope we used for the swims (and some runs) it was time consuming since our fingers didn’t work. I have to use ear plugs when I swim in cold water but that took time too. Everything gets difficult when you are cold and it took me hours to figure out that I was cold. Spending a whole day in a wetsuit is not very much fun but it worked. It felt pretty cold after a while and we only got the arms out a few times on the bigger islands. The problem with the wetsuit is that your heart rate gets higher, you have a constant pressure over your chest and that makes it difficult to push on your runs. It steals energy when you run. And it takes too much time to get your arms out so it is easier to suck it up and run. I didn’t say many words during the whole day. I am usually the one that talks when we run and Anna is the quiet one. I heard that Anna tried to talk, ask questions and get me prepared for the next swim or run but I couldn’t answer. My lips couldn’t move, I had to look down at my feet because of the terrain and I was too exhausted to waste my energy on words. I heard her but I couldn’t answer but I heard the answer in my head. Scary. It probably means that I didn’t eat enough. I also had the map and course memorized in my head but could not remember one single island. I had the distances written on my left leg on my suit but I couldn’t focus long enough to read. We just kept moving.

And here comes the strange part. I almost cried one hundred times because it hurt so much. My left calf could barely move forward and every step felt all the way up to my brain. The stress was the worst part, the constant chase after minutes and cuts. It was cold. The terrain was brutal. One wrong step on the cliffs and you fall and break every bone in your body. But I loved the swimming parts. The body felt light and pain free (if you don’t count bad calf cramps on the longer swims) when I jumped into the water. We had one long 1,4k swim in bad waves from NW that sucked the energy out of us but it still felt better than running. And I don’t even like swimming.

I heard myself say never again in my head over and over again, this is a race for crazy nuts and extremely mentally strong people. But when we talked on the boat on the way back to Stockholm today I hear myself answer yes, I will do it again if we get the chance. I know how to do it now. I have never experienced anything like it and I could not imagine before what it would be like. Indescribable. Something happens when you’ve been out for 6-7 hours and you can’t compere it with a short marathon or a shorter swimrun. A terrible and a fantastic day. And somehow the bad parts and the pain fades away after a nights sleep. I wonder when they release the lottery tickets?