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…

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Overnight training

Monday morning and I wake up rested and recovered. This may sound trivial but for the first time since I got my Band a few months ago I slept 8 hours. 8 hours and 12 minutes! And the secret is to stay up a full night before to get a decent night sleep.

I left for Lake Chelan Friday afternoon and I can’t say that it’s been a restful trip. After picking up ¼ of the team at a park and ride in Issaquah we drove to the sunny side of the state. The full team “I don’t remember” met for the first time and we had a nice weekend and an overnight outing in the mountains. After a toasty mountain bike race at Echo Valley Ski area Saturday we all tried to nap but with various success. The race was hot and very sunny and I felt drained even before it started. I had a bit of gear trouble on the first climb but nothing that couldn’t be fixed. It was beautiful and I felt like stopping for pictures but I had to tell myself that it would be ridiculous since it was a race. 30 miles passed fast and without any surprises. Very, very hot but gorgeous trails and views.

Saturday night brought dinner, bubbly drinks (for the support crew) and games before we packed our packs and took off around midnight. After a long car ride to a dark parking lot in the middle of a national forest we all took a deep breath and took off at 2am. Heavy packs and a tiny bit tired from start. Lots of elevation, beautiful surroundings that hid in the dark and snow at 7000ft. When we all turned off our headlights around 5am we saw the sun slowly wake up over the mountains. It is absolutely magical to watch the sun reach the sky an early morning. We sat for a few minutes and ate a little before we moved on. I think we all felt more awake when we got some sunlight. We kept walking and walking, reached snow, turned back and walked again. We reached the car before lunch and packed up and left for Chelan again. I sat down in the back of the car and felt my head tilt back and I could hear myself snore. I bumped my head in the window over and over again but decided to just ignore it. And when we got back to our home for the weekend It was a tired and squeaky body that slowly folded out from the car. After some leftovers and a shower we decided to take a 20 minute nap before heading back to Kirkland. I woke up one hour later with a corduroy pattern all over my face and a swollen eye. I fell asleep or more completely face planted with my eyes open in the living room stretched out on the couch. With two muddy bikes in the back of the car and lots of hiking gear we took off for Seattle and drove all the way to Cashmere where we stopped for greasy burgers. Finally home just in time for dinner and then time for bed.

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Expedition Alaska

It’s time for a new adventure. If everything goes as planned my teammates and I will be race ready in a month. After deciding not to go through with the Ironman I felt like I wasted hundreds of hours of training. A Saturday morning on a mountaintop a new door opened and I realized that I should have planned for this months ago. This is so much more than a race, it’s an adventure, a crazy week, an opportunity of a lifetime. You don’t say no to an event like this. Glacier trekking, sea kayaking, pack rafting, whitewater rafting, trekking, mountains, lakes, biking, more trekking… I am going to Alaska.

http://expeditionak.com/

I am preparing, thinking, running, hiking, paddling and I get my bike out every now and then. And I did a little bit of rafting today. And thinking even more. It’s starting to come together. The only questions is how my body will work without sleep? And will the bears leave us alone? And how cold is the water? Will I be eaten alive by mosquitos? Getting my gear ready. Should I pack a couple of bear bells? Backpack, dry suite, paddle, helmet, shoes, bike, sleeping bag, shoes, poles, food, shoes, clothes, crampons, climbing gear… never ending… 

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Teanaway hike again

A new day, new adventures. Life is now a strange mix of CrossFit, hiking, climbing, kayaking and rafting. All because of new plans and goals. So exciting, so scary, so much fun.

Friday nights are always a nice finish of a full week. We usually meet up with our extra family and have dinner. Not this Friday. I had a busy day and I squeezed in a CrossFit class with some snatches and jump rope since I really need to work on my snatches. I finally left the house 5.30 and drove towards the mountains. A very full and heavy backpack, food for 24h just to be sure (or packed calories that tastes mostly like chocolate), new hiking shoes to break in and an extra puffy coat. Picked up Robin and an extra sleeping bag on the way and took off. The plan was to reach the ridge by Navaho peak and sleep a few hours and then move east instead of west as we did last time. It was a lot of snow from around 6000ft that we wanted to avoid. We left the parking lot at 9pm and started walking. We reached the ridge as planned, it didn’t feel as hard as it did last time when we had lighter packs. I remember the last steep part that looks like you’re on the moon as the worst possible hill. I think we walked it in 5 minutes this time. Hopefully a good sign. We got the tiny tent up, got dressed and ate a little. After sliding around like a worm in a very tight sleeping bag I actually think I slept a few hours divided up in 15 minutes chunks. Sweaty on my upper body and freezing knees down. I need to bring more clothes next time so I have something dry to put on.

One peanutbutter bar and a big bottle of almost warm tea and we felt ready to move. Before the sun was up we started walking again. The view up there is indescribable. I need to get myself a tiny camera to keep hand, the phone is not enough. IMG_6450IMG_6458IMG_6467

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We walked and scrambled for a few hours and moved west over the ridge following goat tracks. It was a bit sketchy and tricky from time to time. A lot of ice/snow and loose rocks. Robin is a lot more confident and faster than I am and sliding around on the mountain edge with a heavy pack is not really my cup of tea.

We ended the day with what felt like an eternity of bushwhacking before we reached the trail that took us back to the car. A long walk/slide downhill, climbing over fallen trees after years of avalanches.

A beautiful outing!  

Wednesday

The day passed and I haven’t done much according to the manual today. I didn’t get out of bed until late. Why? I forced myself to lay low and wait for the right moment. Staying in bed after 7.30 feels like someone punched you very hard in the face. Not pleasant. The kids had a day off school and I thought it was a good opportunity to do nothing. I dragged myself to the gym around 9 and didn’t do much right there either. I don’t fly very high at the moment, more dragging my feet and mourning that I can’t run as much as I would like. It will pass… But I actually got stuff done after lunch and managed to get a speedy gear in. Laundry, lunch with kiddos, vacuuming, some actual work and dinner, dessert and got some baking done. Doing great on the housewife stuff for a change. Rolled chocolate/oat/coconut balls, baked cookies, made pasta with chicken and veggies, a rhubarb crumble and danced a little at the same time and got called out for some pics. I have one talented daughter that loves taking pictures.

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The kids and I went to the movies last night and we finally got to watch Avengers. Let me just say that some of us felt pretty excited. And I apparently laugh too much, embarrassing. And I finished all the popcorn before the movie. I don’t know if it was the movie itself or the pretty faces that was most appreciated. One of us actually brought Thor’s hammer to the movies. It’s always a treat to spend a night with all three girls. They are all the loveliest kids, growing up, taller than me, smart and bright, with a great future ahead. Three girls and three very different faces and personalities.

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I am all into dreams/goals at the moment. I guess I’ve always been. You know that it’s basically the same thing, why dream if it’s not a goal? I was thinking about getting a new, faster and smaller car but no… why not spend the money on something absolutely fantastic? My dream race popped up around the corner and I actually have an opportunity to join. And all I want for Christmas is a sea kayak and a pack raft. All those thoughts of ability, toughness, craziness and fitness level are bubbling round in my mind. It’s now or never. Can I function without sleep for days? Will I freak out? Fears and dreams are basically the same thing when you think about it. And can I heal my knee in a few weeks? And when I ask the coach and other important and very great people the only answer I hear is YES! Super exciting, adventurous, lots of surprises and very scary. Like one of those illegal and scary Kinder eggs.

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Giving up, giving in

When you have passed 40 you should know better. You should be mature enough to grant yourself permission to just be and do what you want to do. If that is what you want.

You are old and comfortable enough to leave the house with no makeup and with not so presentable clothing. But you are angry with your body for not giving you more, for not running faster, for not lifting heavier but at the same time you are old and smart enough to know your limits.

You are old enough to accept that your body looks the way it does but at the same time wish it was a little bit younger and stronger. And maybe a little bit better looking. Everything slips a little and sinks a few inches. I remember boobs, it was awesome. Kids and exercising make some body parts shrink and some grow and you can’t always make that decision yourself. Accepting and liking are not the same.

You are at that point in your life when you still haven’t figured out how this life thing works but it seems to work out anyway. It’s a lot about winging it. Every day.

Your brain basically reached its capacity. If you add on extra information something else slips out. You remember recipes and old phone numbers but you can’t seem to learn that last pin for your new Visa card. Again. And passwords…sigh. And names, at least you remember faces.

The tolerance level for mean and plain stupid people hit bottom, and you are old enough to choose your own company and friends. It gets easier to say no.

With all that said I should be old and smart enough to be able to take care of myself and make my own decisions. I have figured out why I am having second thoughts when it comes to the race in June. (I know it’s just a race but since this blog is about very small glimpses of my life I choose to make a big deal out of it.) When you feel it in your heart, in your whole body, in your mind, when it’s in your thoughts, then you know it is right for you. I don’t feel it. It sure is in my thoughts but I feel uncomfortable and listless when I think about it. Scared is not the right word but not far from. Uncomfortable can be really good as long as you work on getting more comfortable. I have aches and pains in more than one body part that keeps getting worse and I add on new all the time. Foot, knee and shoulder, kind of essential parts for swimming, biking and running. And it has messed up my sleep for a long time. I wake up all the time thinking about swimming. Last nights sleep, waking up 14 times, not a good sign.

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I’ve been looking forward to all races I’ve done in the past 6 years. Sometimes with fear but the fear usually goes away the more you run or prepare. I remember my first marathon, I felt really worried the first weeks but the more you run the more you build your confidence. And on race day you really look forward to get it done. When we pile it on we usually grow stronger. We get more capable and work more effortless. Mileage, weights, laps, burdens… over time we build it up and grow stronger. But when we do things in a careless way you don’t really grow stronger, you usually feel impatient and might not comprehend why you don’t move forward and up. You might even become weaker since your body and mind don’t work together. You don’t get very far when you do things half-assed. When you don’t want it bad enough you don’t try hard enough, right. A bad sign for me is that I’ve been wearing more ‘human clothes’ and less running tights. And my hair has actually been dry a few hours every day. I make excuses and feel tired. I focus a lot on my problems instead of thinking past them. That is not me and I don’t recognize myself at all.

I just have to admit that this is not my dream. It sounds so cool when I hear people talk about it. The ultimate race. But someone else’s dream is not my dream. Maybe next year, in 5 or 10 years, or never, not in June.

What to do now? I have no clue. I am from today without a goal. I have no reason to get up at 5am and run. I don’t have a reason to run hills or hard intervals on Wednesdays. My long runs and long bike rides might not be done. How does it feel? Not good at all. Empty. I actually cried when I sent off the email to my most excellent coach this morning. I am not just letting myself down, I have wasted other peoples time. So, if I know myself I will still have my old training program in the back of my head for a while, try my limits a little, get up at 5am every once in a while, run my hills and I will keep on running my long runs since that’s what makes me happy. I might even sign up for a race or two to keep me going.

Later, I am going for a run…

Feet up

Thursday night. Kids at late practice, garbage night, feet up. Made an extra batch of Bolognese that is still boiling. Life sure is exciting. I feel a bit broken. My right knee area is thick as a bratwurst and I have no clue what I’ve done. I just can’t believe it is overuse, ridiculous. Made an emergency visit at Mr Fix-it-all, our super fantastic chiropractor and he tried to ease it up a bit. I heard Power Plate and keep running, so I will keep running and shake it when I can. Blood flow is good. Always. I will focus on blood flow tomorrow.

I’ve been investing in training. Lots and lots of hours. Anything from 10 to 20 hours per week the last 6 months (or more the past 5 years or so). I have enjoyed more or less every hour. It is actually possible to enjoy even two hours bike/trainer in the garage starring at the wall. It takes some work but it is possible to turn around your mind. But lately my mind has been wondering off. I’ve have done things I like more and not what I need to do. Hold on here, you are going to hear a lot of whining, very unattractive, I know. I have focused more on pain, fatigue, not having enough time and not getting sleep. I have focused on my weaknesses and my problems, my tumors. And time just slipped. And now, here I am feeling like I am in terrible bad shape and not in any way ready for an Ironman. What I really want to do is a 24 hour wander on mountaintops and watch the stars and eat a sandwich, a long bike ride with lots of river crossings, long runs with beautiful views and heavy weights pushed over head, climb ropes and crazy overloaded sled pushes. I am terrified of swimming long, I am not a good swimmer. Back at goal setting and giving up on goals. I know I wrote about this in February and the sad thing is that I still think about it every day and every time I work out. Giving up is not my thing, I guess that is why I have such a big problem deciding. I pass the tri bike in the garage every morning and I feel like kicking it hard and I walk by and grab my mountain bike and take off. Probably a sign. Closing doors, opening new, at least a little window. Reevaluating, rethinking and re-doing. Will see what happens and what I decide before April is over.

Somehow it doesn’t work when I try to show a nice video from youtube. But click on the link and listen to Calum Scott singing Robyn’s Dancing on my own. Lovely.

https://youtu.be/6tU7x5bjNBo