Summer turns to fall

I got to spend a week in Norway, working, learning new music and celebrating a bunch of family birthdays. It was harder than it sounds, specifically the work part. I’m not sure I’ll ever sing baritone solo in Fauré’s requiem and Carmina Burana in the same day ever again. But thanks to my running habit and my lovely daughter, I also had moments like these:

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Free Stairmaster

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The Office

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Does anyone own a red Buick?

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Young mountaineer

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Just say “mellon”.

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The last summer day

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800 meters of joy

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The water temperature is still great and the beach is a lot more picturesque than in summer. I set a new 800 PB of 2:32. The first lap was intense, I was breathing like a drowning rat. Most of the second lap was a struggle against fatigue, and then I got some extra energy to sprint the last 150m or so, which felt great.

I have a friend (also a singer) who ran 2:20, so the ultimate goal is to beat him.

Bruised ego among most common running injuries

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A lot of things change when the distance increases. Suddenly you have to drink while running, which I never think about in training. And the belt that I usually wear right on my skin suddenly gives me blisters on my back. But the worst bruises were definitely of the mental kind.

I’ve gotten the results from yesterday’s race, and the final time was 1:45:18, about 30 seconds faster than I thought. And that makes it a new personal best by about 30 seconds. Obviously it’s on the wrong side of 1:45, but I feel that I gave it all I had on me, so already I feel a bit better about it. (And the concert I sang right after the race went very well, so I’ve now concluded that running long distance is probably great for singers.)

The reason that I’m disappointed is part that I had an unrealistic goal. My previous PB was about 1:46. I should have stuck with the primary goal of crossing the 1:45 line, instead of gunning for 1:40. People see my 5k time and tell me I could do much better at half marathon, but it ain’t necessarily so: The discrepancy in race times gets bigger as I get fitter.

And the other reason for my disappointment is that I was expecting it to be an enjoyable experience, and it was just not. I was bored for the first half and tired for the second half of the race. 4:45/km feels like a slow tempo for me, I can comfortably eat an apple or run with my mouth closed. I’m now suspecting that this has more to do with metabolism than strength or endurance. I simply run out of fuel right after the 10k mark. The legs felt absolutely great, and I had no form problems this time.

It seems all runners are different. I know I didn’t have a good food plan for this race. Pasta night(s) are on. And I am pretty sure now that I need to do longer tempo runs to improve at half marathon. I’m afraid long slow distance doesn’t work for me. I think the part I’m missing is one of fuel and glycogen storage, so that’s what I’m going to train.

But first I’m going on a 5k binge. And 400m intervals!

More pasta next time

I PR’ed by a few seconds today, in Copenhagen Half Marathon. I belive it was around 1:45:47. As every other time I’ve run the distance, I ran the first 15k according to plan, and from there on I just longed for a warm bath and a cold drink. Either there is something physiological that makes me less adapted to longer distances, or there is something about my training that I need to change. I know for sure that I give my best during the race, because I could hardly stand up afterwards.

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I have also been eating less carbohydrates than usual, except for lots of fruit and some juice on race day. Next time I will definitely eat that mandatory pasta dinner on the night before. I could smell ammonia on my clothes after the race, which is a sign of burning protein (if I’ve understood it correctly). The problem is likely to be about muscle glycogen, because I feel like I’m flying for the first half of the race and then I bonk very early in the race. My times on 400-5000 meter are better than many runners who beat me at long distances. Up to 10k is fun. It’s weird that I managed a good sprint the last 800 meters.

Now I’m off to singing Monteverdi’s opera l’Orfeo. Not the worst recovery.

Sometimes it’s nice to be a jogger

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Joggers don’t call themselves joggers anymore, but I think it’s a very good word. It tells people “I don’t win races, but I like to run anyway”. The thought came up tonight because I went for a run in the dark, and I suddenly I thought of “the Curse of the Jogger“, as described by Mark Remy. (Dead bodies are always found by “joggers”, not “runners, when described in the media”.) I think the main reason is that all “runners” who are not professional runners are considered joggers by the general public. Who cares, right?

But anyway tonight I feared that there might be a curse after all, so I slowed down in fear of tripping on some rocks. I should have brought a flashlight. I tried a new type of intervals today, where I ran two minutes at half marathon tempo, and then two minutes considerably faster, for about 5-6k. The idea was to show myself that my chosen race tempo of 4:45/km is a reasonable ambition. Felt like it worked.

Ended the run with a swim in the ocean. Not just a plunge, a real swim. Pitch dark sky, all alone, red full moon hanging on the horizon. It’s completely unheard of to have nice bathing temperatures in Denmark in September. Like the laws of physics have been broken or something. Beautiful night skies are hard to photograph unfortunately.

I find that I get more and more lazy as race day approaches, like I come with taper built into my brain. If I can put in any kind of run every day this last week, I’m happy, never mind “quality training”. I’m a little bit bored with running at race pace. When this half marathon is done I want to run lots and lots of 400m intervals.

And lastly: a note to all tourists in Copenhagen with kids and a minimum of skill with animals: At Fortunens Ponycenter you can rent a pony for 30 minutes or more. It’s just a short bike ride from Lyngby or Klampenborg train stations, and very easy to access by car. It’s right next to Kongens Dyrehave, a big park that used to be the king’s hunting grounds. Bring cash!

24 hours around Søerne

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September is here but it still feels like summer. The beach looks like this. We go swimming every other day. Pretty nice.

I’m a bit scared of the half marathon race next weekend. I’m nervous because it might go well. Or it might just be same old feeling of being invincible and lightfooted for 15 k and then crashing. I’m on a very moderate low carbohydrate diet, and it seems I’m losing weight. I will keep this up (because I feel fine) until the race, not carboload at all, and snack during the race. I call it an experiment. I think it’s really more of a performance technique I’ve learned from music, which is to focus on something complicated but measurable to keep fear and anxiety off my mind. Like “my legs will hurt like hell… what an interesting experiment”.

I’m making tortillas. Finally ordered masa harina online. Thank god for the Internet! Chilihouse.dk have both that and chipotle salsa. I don’t have a tortilla press, so all my tortillas read IKEA backwards.

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Easy to make and delicious. Get masa harina, because regular cornstarch will just become polenta. Masa harina is treated with lime (Ca(OH)2, not fruit), which makes the protein more sticky, kind of like gluten. Traditionally this was done with ash. And I love love love chipotle, smoked chillies.

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Tomorrow I will go and watch the final 20 minutes of a 24 hour run around Søerne (the lakes) in Copenhagen. My wife just came home from a run and wondered why she’d been able to outrun a bunch of very fit looking people. Turns out they are running frøken Hansens 24 timers løb. I just want to see it live. Awesome feat. And a little bit crazy.