March

My finger hovers over the mouse these days, I don’t seem to be able to post anything, unable to click.

Back from a long weekend of double tournaments in Spokane, the extraordinary city in the eastern part of Washington. I love to pack up the car and drive far. It seems like I am the only one in the family. One kid staying at one hotel and playing downtown, and the other kid staying at another hotel and playing at another arena. The car going back and forth, early mornings and late nights. Cracked the windshield the first day, not a good start. Add on a ton of bad food, lack of sleep, and sore bodies. Tournaments are tough for kids. It doesn’t matter how fun it is or how well you play, it’s intense. It’s a team effort. Rough patches in sports can feel like opening your heart to someone who doesn’t love you back. A long tournament really sucks the energy out of both kids and adults. Monday comes, the week goes on and the whole family is left with a hangover. The kids came home wanting real food, they are like super humans with metabolisms like Spiderman.

We came back to sad news from Brussels. Once again terrorism strikes Europe. I am grateful that friends living in Brussels checked in on Facebook. It’s difficult to understand, and maybe we don’t want to understand. Anger and sadness, and feeling helpless. Terrorists getting too close. Disturbing peace and trying to mess with our everyday life’s. The heart of Europe that was my hometown for a short time in the 90s. Je suis sick of this shit! And I follow the news from here and it seems so far away. I hear the kids talk about Belgium and their friends don’t know if it close to France or Russia, and that worries me. The world is growing smaller and closer yet some countries live outside and far away. Where is the center of the world? Trump worries me. A lot of things make me worried. And angry. And sad. It’s even more important to vote for a person capable of running a big country in a world in stress.

I’ve been following a debate in the Swedish news the past weeks. If they should allow only women a few hours per day at pools. There has been incidents were men get too close, men that can’t handle seeing women swimming with lighter clothes on. And women that swims covered with clothes believes that they should be able to swim with only women. This worries me too. It has taken a long time to get where we are now. Women’s rights, equal rights, men and women, voting, equal pay, maternity and paternity leave. Why? No. Equal. Think about it. At first I felt that the women should have their hours for themselves but when I actually thought about it… no. I don’t think it is right. We are different. If there are men that can’t handle it, move on. We swim, live, work, run…together. Don’t ruin decades of work. Men and women are different but we live under the same sun.

And as always…a training update. I try. I really do try. I am not really a Marvel superhero at the moment, not even trying to act a part. But I am healthy, balanced and pretty strong. Maybe that is good enough. I am trying to build the machine, feed the flame with firewood. But sometimes it’s not all that fun. That’s where I am now, at the intersection of I’m putting in 2 hours per day and not feeling it. I complain in my head before I run. I hear myself take deep breaths, of boredom. I can’t help it. I need something to look forward to, something impossible and beautiful. Mud, rain, wind and some snow. It builds character. You want to look forward to a warm shower. You want to look up at a mountaintop with a pumping heart and tired legs feeling overwhelmed and saying to yourself – Hey, it looks pretty gnarly but think of the view at the top. At the intersection of pushing your limits and experiencing joy is where the magic happens. I need to find that check point on the map. It’s close, I am sure. And goddammit, I really want to be fast again.

We have two scary opossums in our backyard. A man and a woman. We have even seen some opossum porn and it was not very nice. Rabbits, birds, dear, raccoons… you are all welcome. But opossums. Holy crap. Have you seen the teeth? And the tail? Just sayin’. I am more scared of opossums than bears. I sing every time I take the trash out.

December

We have a visitor for a few weeks. An extra child that is not a child any longer. A little guy that used to run after a soccer ball, give sweaty hugs and play. He is now a working adult that took a few weeks of vacation and went to see his old aunt. I am therefore a tourist in my own town once again. Views, restaurants and outlet shopping. But is this my city? 8 years in and still feel a bit lost. I am starting to know how to navigate Pike Place and good times to walk through without being trampled. But I mostly feel like I should get a smaller car, parking in Seattle makes me a bit claustrophobic.

We are living in a world full of essays and applications. I feel enormously proud of the kids and their writing is beyond anything I will ever be able to accomplish. The college process is in full swing and I just realized that we will probably be in this circus for another 8 years or so. I hear Washington, Colorado, California… One thing at the time… swim lessons, learn how to ride a bike, drive a car, graduate high school… x3… we will eventually get there. I am happy to announce that all three kids can swim and they all know how to ride a bike safe in traffic. They all have basic cooking skills, they can bake and they speak 3 languages (1.5 more than I). We still need to work on laundry and how to behave like little ladies (I still have issues) but overall I believe we are doing pretty well. We’re working on the driving part and it’s going beyond expectations, the future looks positive. When I am old and have blueish short permed hair I am pretty sure I will have a driver back and forth to the casino for my weekly GT and gambling session.

The infamous shoulder is coming along. Some days I almost forget that I had surgery in October and go for run with a back pack. And then I wake up the morning after and wonder who carved in and chopped up my neck, shoulder and arm, I get a massage and hold my breath a little and blink away some tears when the therapist asks if the pressure is ok. One step forward and two steps back. I can run and that is important for the oxygen level in my brain. I am CrossFitting in a half assed way. It is very humbling. I am fighting to lift my arm overhead without weights and it’s going to take long time before I can hold my own bodyweight in a plank. But I am lifting dumbbells with one arm, squatting and crunching. Good or bad, I don’t know. But it looks like I am headed forward. At this point it’s just an illusion too good to be real and the archived memory is playing tricks and remembering the race euphoria. For now it’s the loneliness of a runner’s brain playing tricks of capability. I am still secretly dreaming of river rafting, paddling and trekking in a country far away but I smart enough to know that it will not happen, at least not in this lifetime. I feel extremely ready to sleepwalk close to the clouds, being washed down rivers with fear in my eyes and enjoy beef jerky and granola bars as my main intake for a week. I am a master at building castles in the air and I’ve always in some ways been a true believer in my own overcapacity. But even I have to admit that this time I will have to step down and wish the guys good luck and not be there in person. A short bike ride on a flat trail would be awesome at this point.

So on to even more non important stuff. Running and lots of work with you lower body gives you sore legs. And that is an understatement. My legs feel trashed, every day. I wake up and try to straighten out and stretch out without waking up the whole house. Foam rolling is more painful than waking up from surgery. I was off running for a while and tried to slowly get back into it. My long runs are long gone, I am lucky if I last 90 minutes. I’ve had less time than usual too so to compensate I’ve been speeding up my shorter distances. And you live and you learn. 5k can be extremely hard on your body and you get really far if you have 45 minutes to spare. I’ve always felt slow but man can I speed up if I have to. I have never really done any shorter races under a half marathon, so one day maybe. It’s a different kind of feeling and I must say that I prefer the longer, slower runs over a 20 minutes speedy run with bad stomach feelings after. It’s a combo of stomach flu, too many marshmallows or I went overboard with the umbrella drinks last night compared with a long run that is mostly – give me water and food now and let me just take a 30 minute shower sitting down. But I miss having a structured plan and a goal race and that need to change. As always I tend to go overboard without structure and that’s probably why running every day on pavement gives you extremely sore legs. Is it the importance of long runs, fartlek and swim intervals or oxygen in my lungs or the need to sweat a lot? I don’t know? You always want what you can’t have, the grass will always be greener on the other side. But… the grass is still pretty green on this side. Who could have guessed that I would move this well after less than two months. Even the nice doctor is surprised and curious. And as always… the definition of rest is interesting. At this point rest still means movement and moving forward.

Well, hello ya’ll!

Home alone, the rest of the family went to watch UW play Stanford. Volleyball of course. I am watching old recorded shows, catching up on stuff. Went to happy hour with friends, ate too many sambal spicy shrimp, got a pedicure, picked up dry cleaning, went to the gym and bought coffee beans. All that stuff that matters on a Thursday night. So what’s new? Nothing much but I will give you an update anyway. Just made myself a cauliflower gratin. My grandmothers’ tasted a lot better. Microwaves are good if your out of time but doesn’t really do magic to good stuff. Had some sad news from home this week and maybe caviar of cod would be more suitable than cauliflower.

Kids are tired. Who wants to go to school 5 days/week, I know I didn’t like it that much at their age. I always disliked school and as a teacher/principal that’s kind of interesting. High school is not the shit people. Long days, lots of homework if you want to keep all A’s and lots of practice if you play school sports or climb. Volleyball school season is officially over (and club season starts next week). Combining practice 5 days/week and and matches, school, homework, applying for college and work is not great. It can break the strongest teenager. Let’s just say that we are so longing for a Christmas break or even a short Thanksgiving weekend. And talking about Christmas, what’s wrong with people? Starbucks. Red cups. Christmas. Grow up. It’s a cup. Enough said.

It’s getting closer to Lucia and we have two performances before Christmas. My class at school is getting ready to spread some magic. Come listen at Nordic Heritage Museum December 6th. Always magical. And please say Hi if you happen to be there.

Came home the other day and found the old training bike in the kitchen. One kid had two weeks in between school and club season and wanted to keep moving her legs. Two of the kids decided to drag the heavy thing in and placed it at the best spot in the house in between the tv/couch and the Jura. On a thick yoga mat to protect the floor. I don’t know what to say. I am tearing up. Movement not exercise. Every day. It’s rubbing off. One more thing that is moving right now is the car. Well, not mine (it’s apparently too big and chunky) but the kid’s car. Caroline finally decided to get her license. And we are circling the neighborhood. Practicing right turns, stop signs and stuff. It makes my heart beats a bit fast. We are both doing better and better. Growing up is tough, both for kids and moms. This particular kid is giving something in return, French music. Gorgeous language. The other two are also giving me new stuff to listen to and will of course share. https://open.spotify.com/user/charlotteseattle/playlist/4qW4PFrQqMMxvx9ebGhNDh

Shoulder, as good as new…well almost. I am healing well. Can move, pick up stuff, cook, wash my hair… but not lift my purse. Ran 2 miles last week, and 5 miles and some more. Mowed the lawn and raked leafs yesterday. No bueno, but I got the work done. Gets tired fast and I still sleep really bad. I thought my lovely new Band 2 would read my sleep pattern differently, but no. I guess I need to work on my deep sleep. (And yes, I am loving the Band2) Weights are not in the near future, and biking will not happen soon but my left arm feels pretty strong. I am developing back boobs on my right side. Sad, very sad. If you don’t know what a back boob is don’t worry, it’s nothing good. I don’t see a race in the near future, or ever. That is more sad than back boobs. Met a fellow shoulder injured friend today and wishing him a speedy recovery. Keep moving!

This might be the end of a very special love story

I have always disliked running watches and have always struggled a bit when I used all my different performance gadgets. Heartrate straps are always uncomfortable, the watch is usually too big, not charging, not syncing etc. I’ve had moments when I really had to know I far I had transported my body on land or in the water. The training for ÖtillÖ was an endless up and down Idlywood and the pool, 1k in the water, 10k on land and over and over again for many hours. You need to keep your numbers ticking when you are training for a marathon or two. It’s good to know walking up a mountain how many more feet of elevation you have left and when the sun will set. My problem has been that my latest Garmin died on me 18 hours in and I’ve had to have a backup watch in my pack. In real life, every other regular day when running or biking you really mostly care what time it is and how far you’ve gone. And then we have the heart thing. You want to know how hard your heart is working, and if it’s working. And you want to be able wear it all the time, not for hours every now and then.

I got my Band a while ago and I fully embraced it, I seriously lived through my Band for a few months. I know a lot of people complained about the squared design and the Matrix look. I really grew to like it and came to that point that I never took it off. I got hooked on my sleeping pattern which seriously sucked and still does. And why was I faster that Tuesday and how much my heart rate went up if I ran with a heavy pack or late at night. Or if you don’t sleep enough. It was just easy, it was already in my phone when I got home. No difficult syncing and just about enough info. It even told me how long I should recover after a long run or a ride and it sure gave me a boost when I should recover 36 hours or so from a tough one. And it made me leave my phone in the purse since I could check the importance of messages and emails and choose if I should answer or wait.

My Band is dissing me. We used to love each other, dearly. It gave me instant gratification and 15000 steps per day on a slow day. It gave me 6 hours of solid sleep and 45 beats per minute rest heart rate. It gave me long runs and intense weight sessions. And now here I am, comparing, checking data, sleep and even calories. And just how miserable is it? Very! From loving every number that was constantly ticking and adding and now hating slow moving numbers and a very useless body. I have sunk so low that I am checking calories because it doesn’t feel like I move a single step all day. And I don’t really move much. So what do you do when a sweet love story ends? You dump it and then you upgrade. I think I need to preorder the Band 2.

Have I ever told you how much I hate running

I know I talk a lot about running and how I much I feel like I really need to run. I really think running is a great way to move and breath, it’s an easy form of exercise and a great way to get some thinking done. And I am lucky to have a body that can take it, no bad knees and a hip that feels like new after some fixing and stitching. Running is great when it feels great. I often hear from other people that it’s my thing and they know I love it. True, some days. Nothing make me feel so good as after a long run, well at least after a long run, a shower, a snack and a nap. Nothing makes me feel so content and calm. I need running for the endurance to keep up with the rest of my life. To fill my brain with oxygen and to feed my muscles.

Nothing makes me feel so awful and low as a bad run. Nothing can make me feel more out of shape as a bad run. Long distance running can be beautiful and strengthening. The only one you really have to beat is yourself and your mind. And nothing can make you feel stronger if you get it done and stumble home after hours of pounding. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to do with a strong will, it’s just a great time with yourself. I think for me running really compensates my other physical shortcomings, I really suck at all kinds of sports that includes balls and gear that you need to coordinate with hands and feet. Pass me a soccer ball and I am pretty sure I would stumble over it.

I hate running. My strong mind leaves me. I feel every step in my right hamstring. In my right big toe. I can’t remember how it’s supposed to feel when you breath. I can’t even remember how to place my feet on the ground, I stumble around. I turn in to the world’s greatest negotiator, I easily talk myself out of 8 miles, it doesn’t take much at all. It takes 20 minutes, 2,5 miles and a few songs and I switch to the true love of my life, the Versa Climber.

17 days

It’s summer. Nice, warm days and long nights. We’ve had dinner outside the past week and the volleyball net is up for after dinner runarounds. We have a bunch of rabbits that moved to our yard but I feel like it’s a nicer family than the deer family last year so I’m just going to let them stay. They don’t take up as much space. It is nice, lovely, beautiful and all that. School is still in full swing for two more weeks. Finals and more finals. Lovely! Food changes a bit when it’s warm. Lots of barbeque, salads, fruit, cold yoghurt sauces, cheese and of course olives every day.

Less than two weeks to take off. And the weather is not very good in Alaska right now. I move stuff around from the car, garage, kitchen. I have piles of clothes in the bedroom. I have bins with stuff that goes wherever I go. I use most of it since we are still rafting, paddling, running and biking. My PFD smells and I am a bit worried that it will attract animals. I still need to get my bike in for a last tune up and there are a few things that I need to buy. I made a trip to REI today and I hope it was the last one. I might need a few bungees, food, more wool clothes since watched the weather channel this morning. And I probably need more socks. But I did the last body repairing today. Got my foot drained again and it will hopefully do well until after the race but still need a few days of rest before I see the result. It looks very blue right now so it can only get better.

What I am really thinking of is food. What to bring and buy. How much and what do you really want to eat after a few days without real food. And what about coffee? I am doing my best to cut back so I won’t miss it too much. I’ve got different kinds of jerky to try, espresso beans covered in chocolate (thanks Eric), nuts mixed with chocolate and all sorts of good stuff to try and decide before takeoff. I found bacon jerky, sounds brilliant! And so does salmon jerky.

We have done some rafting the past week. We drove to Wenatchee Saturday for some speedy rafting in a fast river in almost 100 degrees. And we got some nice barbeque in Cashmere before the actual rafting. Cashmere, the center of earth. Really good barbeque. It felt like I was going to sink when the actual rafting started. I ate half a cow. We stayed local yesterday. We met up by the fall in Snoqualmie and blew our rafts up and took off. Got up after a few rapids and hiked back up and did it again. On the way to Fall City to pick up the third car a dog started following us, swimming behind our boats. We got our own Arthur. We thought it would be a bit of a problem to bring him to Alaska so we called his owner instead. A couple of beavers swam by too. Those would be even more of a problem to bring as mascots. We will conquer parts of a big mountain Saturday. Crampons, ice axes and ropes. Very exciting.

Rafting is interesting. I felt really worried a few weeks ago and I don’t even know why. Of course you can tip over, flip and get really wet. You can hit your head since there are rocks all over but that’s why you wear a helmet. I think it’s the feeling of fast moving water that is a bit scary. Well, it doesn’t feel scary anymore. More like an intense ride, a wet rollercoaster. But it will be different in freezing water with a dry suite on…

Stuff learned this week:

Driving to Eastern Washington for a quick bike ride, a short but intense rafting session or a hike is no big deal. It’s just a 3-4 hour drive and some mileage on your car. And then 3-4 hours back home when you are tired.

River rafting, it’s just fast moving water. You will somehow move forward. And get wet.

Blow up your raft. Your once crushed tailbone really hurt when you hit big rocks and get stuck in the river. It kind of moved all the way up your spine. But that’s a good thing, you’ll know that your nervous system works.

Sunscreen is essential.

An ice cream bar melts very fast in 100 degrees.

Your body gets tired from thinking too much.

Closer

23 days left. That’s what it says when I click in on the website. And I check every day just to be sure. Strange thing is that I could swear that it said 33 days yesterday. Anyhow, it’s getting closer. Alaska is happening.

Meanwhile in real life… A little bit of work and lots of fun. A very sore and tired body. It’s been days since I dressed in human clothes, my natural gear seems to be running shoes and tights or jeans if it’s a slow day, this has to change. My car has slowly turned into an adventure central. I could without a problem scramble out gear for a 24 hour race and feed a football team. Paddles, wet PFD’s, smelly boots, brown bananas, bikeparts, dried apricots, gloves for paddling, cycling and gardening, shoes and boots, water and a warm Pellegrino… And I can fit two fully inflatable rafts in the back. I am glad we decided to keep the old mothership for another year.

Only difficulty I have with lots of training-racing-bobbingaroundinthewater-life is the clothing. I don’t wear hiking pants. Well, I do but it’s not my thing. My thing is bright yellow or pink Nike’s, Lulu tights, tank tops, some days high socks in lovely colors, Patagonia dresses in nice materials… There are a few things I really don’t like wearing or it doesn’t excite me. I am not built for tight women sized t-shirts. And hiking pants…ehhh…I do own a few pairs…but there is something about hiking pants that is so unattractive. All those important things in life… So I got myself another pair of pants today. And I know for sure that I will be the only one on the team wearing pink compression socks.

We are still going through the gear and I am adding on new stuff every day. I’m searching around the house for stuff I haven’t seen since we moved from Sweden. I had a pair of rain pants that I loved and wore every day biking to work… missing, but found two other pairs. And how many coats do you need? And wool socks… I need more than 10 pairs…who owns 10 pairs of wool socks? Gloves – many, since I always have cold hands. Sunglasses for the glacier – still needed and I probably need snowshoes. Raft – check, bike – all good but needs a good tune up again. Dry suite – rented. Mosquito net, need to find a good one – muy importante, très important, erg belangrijk… well you get it.

I’ve been to REI every day the last month. I am that crazy person the staff avoid. I am turning every water bottle upside down, trying to stuff it inside my shirt to see how it fits and feel. I walk around making grunting noises around the hiking pants but I can’t get enough of the Smartwool baselayer. Shoedepartment… you can never get enough shoes… I walked around the backpack department for days with different backpacks on before I decided. I even tried to lay back on the floor leaning on it since that’s probably how I will sleep. And I ended up getting the same I had before but a bigger and a different color. And strobe light, who owns a strobe light? But I am happy to say that I have a raft that fits in my backpack without a problem. I still have about 10 more trips to REI before I take off. I should have applied for a job there months ago, it would have been much easier.

Time to mow the lawn…

FullSizeRenderIMG_6586

IMG_6598FullSizeRender (1)