Samsø Ultra – When Running Is Just Running With A Side Of What Happened?

IMG_8193Sunburned skin, legs filled with scratches from knee deep wild rose bushes, body feeling like it’s really worked hard for something that means so much, head feeling tired and humbly proud.

I’ve never really raced in my life, never really put my body to a test like I did last Saturday at Samsø Ultra.

I’m writing this all through a haze of after race blues, that funny feeling that doesn’t make any sense, but is still there. But after that race I’m not even surprised, because I went to a whole new level of myself there. I wasn’t that nervous the days before, a bit the evening before but slept good, and then the start line was in front of me with all the people and me alone. And that was the moment when I realized that my friend, who was supposed to run the race too wasn’t going to be next to me. I wanted so badly to get his legs good before the race, not because I thought that I might need to run alone, just the fact that I really didn’t want him to hurt and be injured. And then it hit me, I’m going to run a race alone for the first time, I’ve always had friends around me. And I was so insanely afraid. IMG_8182

The first 5km or so, I was in pretty dark place, I kind of wanted to stop running, I was afraid that I’m going to be last, AGAIN, my legs felt like led and like there’s nothing in them to push on.

And then the route just went over this huge grass hill and on top of that all I could do was look around and feel so small in the best possible way, and then it hit me, goddamned I’m lucky to be here. I was just smiling like an idiot, thinking that I need to go on because I wanted to run the race for my friend.

The first 20km was so hard, so insanely hard. It was like running in some ridiculously beautiful Hobit country, with all the sheep’s and cows and horses around you, with huge hills going up and down. I got lost and was really happy that so did these amazing gentlemen that I ended up running quite a lot of the way. First pitstop I just flew past, yes I wrote flew because that’s how I felt. I started feeling strong even though my calves felt so bad with all the climbing and more to come. All the way to the third pitstop I went alone, and then I got company from Ke, the only other international runner. And we went together all the way to the last pitstop which was really nice. Huge thank you to him!IMG_8185

And then I got lost again, at least not only me! It might have been the most beautiful place in the world to get lost though, felt like a mountain goat trying to get forward through this thick wild rose spike bush hill. That was the moment I realized why the organizer wrote in the info that we should wear long pants or socks, obviously I didn’t. Bruised summer legs FTW! Thank you to that super nice gentleman to picked me over an electric fence when we realized that we are in a “bit” wrong side of it. I think after that I really started racing, no idea why, but I was going like I’ve never done before.

I was running with these nice gentlemen and thinking am I able to keep up with them, but ended up saying to myself that just keep going, you got this. And I just kept going, and started feeling stronger and stronger, which felt, to be honest, really weird. I wasn’t expecting that to happen after almost 30km. And my mind clearing from everything, it was just silent, maybe that’s runners high, no idea, but it was so nice. Silence of all the doubts that I’m so used to.

Never not time for new friends :)

Never not time for new friends 🙂

After pitstop 4 I called to my friend just to know if I could see him soon, and the idea of seeing him in some time made me just push on. And in silence we ran next to each other with Ke. The rhythm of our steps felt really good. And I just felt so strong. My belly felt super good, no problems at all.

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This is how happy you look when seeing your friend at around 35km 🙂

And then I saw my friend, the joy in me was just bursting, a hug at that point felt crazy good!

After that I felt like I’ve never felt before, I started racing for the first time in my life. I was tired and hurting a bit but I just put those on the side and kept going. The next time I saw my friend he was blasting this song from his car and let me tell you, that stuff gives you the biggest boost, even when the song is ridiculous but it made me smile so big that I didn’t know that it’s possible. And I just did my pitstops super fast and kept going with Ke. That was a huge change to my last Ultra in Bornholm, where I had to sit down and really gather some strength in myself. Now I felt like Sally Mcrae looked at last years Western States. She’s pretty great motivator on a race, I noticed, even if it’s in my mind.

I think I really started thinking that I could do a time that I had in mind in Bornholm when I got to the 42,2km pitstop. I had something like 15km to go, so I wasn’t that sure if I could do it. Not before I got to the last pitstop and heard that I have little over an hour to do a 10km. I have no idea what happened, I just charged on and left my race running buddy behind. I just went for it. I kept saying to myself that you got this, yes it will hurt but you can do it easy! Kept thinking about Sally Mcrae and just pushing on. I’ve never in my life felt that strong, ever. I’ve never pushed myself like that in my life. It felt terrible at times, my body was so tired from the heat and the fact that I had run more than ever before, continuously, in my life. But I just kept going, no matter how it felt, because I’d decided that I will get under that time. At one point I remember thinking that it’s not that bad if I can’t make that, and also remember how I almost yelled at myself that you’re not fucking doing that shit now! I was so determined! I actually used anger as my fuel, never done that before either.

Around 35km :)

Around 35km 🙂

Once I saw that I have 1km to go, I picked up my pace, which just felt so bad but still. Saw this man and just yelled at him that am I far? His answer was the best thing at that point, I just had to push on a little more and then I’m there. And that last bit was the hardest I’ve ever done and it felt like the longest road ever. That moment when I saw my friend and he said where I need to go and ran next to me and said that I’m getting under my goal, that’s my favorite. I started pushing myself even more, just wanted to get there and get it done.

The moment I got to the finish was insane, I felt like my legs are going to give up and it took me quite some time to get myself breathing at least a bit normal. And that was the moment when I realized that I did what I wanted for the last 15km. I had managed to run my race under 7 hours 30min. That meant for me that I had done over 2 and half hours better than in Bornholm.

It also meant that I was the Female Winner in my distance, and 3rd overall in it too. And my official time was 7:27!IMG_8210

I still, couple of days afterwards, feel a bit surreal about this all. I’ve never been like I was during that race. I’ve never raced in my life. I was mentally so strong, so goddamned strong. I managed to do something that I never thought I could really do. Maybe that was the moment what I knew when I started running in the first place, that I would be good at running long. Now I knew that I could be good at exactly that, if I give myself a chance. I’ve never really gave myself the chance to show what I really have inside of me. I’m so humbled by the race. It showed me that me, that I’ve wanted to believe is inside of me. I was able to just run, which I wanted to do. Because in the end, it’s just running. Something I kept saying to myself during the day. I’m also finally giving myself some credit for something I really should. I am really proud of myself, I really am. I remembered to enjoy it all and have fun and even stop if something was that amazing. And I could not done it without my friend, just the fact that someone was there for me, is insanely important. The fact that he knew how to make me smile and said just the right things to make me believe in myself more. That’s priceless! Thank you so much for that! ❤

I think I learned pretty big lesson of myself during that race. I am so much stronger than I give myself credit for. I’ve gone through so much in the last year, that where I am now and what I am able to do, is pretty amazing! While I type those words I feel like I’m talking about someone else, but I just have to own this all. Because I did it!

Thank you so much to my support extraordinaire Bjørn, without you it would have been boring and very hard day at the office! Thank you to all my family and friends for your words and support! Thank you to my sponsors! I hope I made all of you as proud as I’m trying to be here :).

PMA ❤IMG_8192

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Ready For My Next Ultra Race Or Am I?!

IMG_8088“Appreciation is born through struggle.” – Unknown

A week to go, then I’ll run my third trail Ultra. I haven’t trained like I planned, life got in the way of it all. But does that even matter?

Lately I’ve been talking and heard people talking more about running than probably ever before. I am surrounded by passionate people who have goals and races they want to conquer and push themselves to. They are about pace and times, they love the things that make me cringe.

I’ve also felt at times like I am on the defense side of talking about how I run. Or why I even run. Why don’t I want to be faster? Or why don’t I want to run more road races. In another way it’s been really interesting to hear other peoples views about this whole thing. We all have our reasons, we all have gone through different paths to be where we are now. And to me, the person who is the last in the race is even more amazing than the one winning or able to run crazy fast time. Do you know what it takes to be the last? I do.

After Fyr til Fyr, I wanted to do better, I wanted to be better, I wanted to be stronger and figure out the things that went wrong there. I had a plan, for the first time ever. I started it, while knowing that I need to move my life to Copenhagen for myself. I was excited and terrified at the same time, still am. But then life started happening, more and more, and my free spirited self didn’t want to have a plan to follow and take the enjoyment out of the one thing that keeps me sane in the time of confusion. So in a way I threw that plan out the window and just enjoyed the ride.

This past week I’ve been asked about my race next week a lot, and I’ve kind of been just like yeah all good, I’m ready. Until last Monday I checked my calendar and realized that oops, it’s next week. Oh well, that’s me. That also shows how I’ve been happily just living my life, with all the ups and downs, and running on feeling. But then it came, that feeling of what I am doing in a week? I hadn’t checked the race or anything to do with it in a really long time. I just knew that I had a little run to do on that one Saturday on that small island.

I started questioning myself and what I’m doing, am I really ready, or have I done any of the things I wanted after Fyr til Fyr? Have I? Hmmm, I have no idea.

Well, that’s not completely true. I know I’m ready, mentally I’m really open and strong, even stronger than I was at the last race, that ripped me open and cleared my head. I think that’s something I’m really waiting, the ripping even more open and showing me what’s inside of me and what I really want from myself and my life. Physically I’m way stronger than I was last time, really, not because I’ve been doing what I was supposed to, but because I’ve given my body the time it needs to get better and stronger. I’ve ran with crazy tired legs and embraced the discomfort. And I know that it’s only temporary, if I do it all smart. Not over. I’ve also face planted twice in the last week, with good amount of cuts and bruises covering my body. So whatever is coming, I’m pretty much ready. Lovely, tanned girly summer legs are gone already… The ones that show that I’ve lived and hopefully learned are here :).IMG_8019

I’ve been reading a lot about different runners lately, how so many amazing Ultra runners have burned themselves completely out with having the pressure of their peers pushing the level higher and higher. I’ll attach this amazing article about over training in the end of this piece.

But the thing is, what I’ve learned the hard way, that if we really don’t listen to our bodies, they will stop us, one way or another. I injured myself with over training badly about two years ago, and I was out from running for a good three months. A time that made me face myself in a whole new way. I could either collapse under it all or I could learn what’s going on in my body and be smarter in the future. That was also the time when I promised to myself that running is what I do, not who I am. Something that I think is pretty crucial, even though without running I wouldn’t be here anymore. But it can’t be this lifeline for us.

“If you’re disappointed by running, then it’s not running that you’re actually disappointed, it’s yourself. You have to love who you are, because it’s what you got, it’s all you got. And you have to be grateful for that as well, I’m learning.” – Anna Frost  

The runners that I look up to, or feel kindred spirit to, are the ones who’ve struggled with something in their lives and came from that with a new view on this all. Anna Frost is definitely one of them. There’s a video from Salomon about her and her search for home, something I know quite well. The way she speaks about the search and how her over training got her in such a bad place that she didn’t know how to get out and didn’t want to run at all, makes me cry every time I see that clip. Sometimes someone can explain exactly how you feel, and it hits you so hard and deep that the tears just fall.

In the same way as I felt when I watched Sally Mcraes Western States journey, one of my favorite running films. The way she’s gone through things in her life, makes me feel like I’m not alone. And that’s really important. Both of those inspirational ladies talk about way more than just running. And that is the thing that is important to me.

Also the fact that they both look like me, in that sense that they are muscular and curvy and real woman without looking too dry, and for me to see women like they are is super important.

So the same gut feeling that I had when I knew that I need to move back to Copenhagen, it’s exactly the same about running Ultra distances just when I started running. I knew back then that I have that kind of tenacity in me, a side that’s willing to dig deep and go to those places where it’s not too nice, but so very real. I might never be as good as some people doing those, but I do not care. I’m doing it for myself, to peel those layers off and be open to who is under all of them.IMG_8077

The me that I have been after that last race, has been a lot to take. I’ve really been so honest and open and loving as I was straight after the race. It’s a state of being that is not the easiest all the time. In the little time that I’ve been in Copenhagen, I’ve gone through things and emotions, that make this time feel so much longer than it’s really been. I still wouldn’t change any of them away, I rather be willing to get hurt than not live. I am willing to feel the discomfort of uncertainty than be in control. I am willing to still love until I know that it’s not right. I am willing to miss the ones that I love the most, to show myself that I am filled with good and love. I am willing to get mad and let it all out, but I am also so very proud of myself for being me to the fullest. I am definitely living like I wanted, with all that I have. That’s how I’ve been running too, with all those emotions rushing through me. From frustration to anger to blissfully happy to exhaustion that makes you realize you’ve gone way over your own limits, and ending up being so proud of it all.

Next weekends race, I have no idea how it’s going to go. I don’t have a time goal, I learned from the last that anything can happen. I do want to finish the race, under the 9 hour cut off time. I do want to have fun and see what’s around me. I do want to enjoy what it has in store for me. So I am ready for it, when I really think about it, I am ready.

“If you wish to be a warrior, prepare to get broken. If you wish to be and explorer, prepare to get lost. If you wish to be a lover, prepare to be both.”

PMA ❤

Running on Empty – Over Training article on Outside Online

Western Time – movie about Sally McRae’s journey at Western States 100

Still from Western Time with Sally McRae

Still from Western Time with Sally McRae

I found Sally McRae some time, maybe little over six months ago, from Instagram. And since then my appreciation for her has just grown every step!

This was the first video that I saw about her running Western States 100 this year, I did hear a podcast with her talking about it couple months earlier, which just made me tear up and smile like a idiot from just pure respect.

The thing about Sally is that she makes me believe in myself, to a whole new level of believing. She is this kind of silent killer, though with a great loud laughter! It was really funny to hear that her laughter is one of the characters that her friends know her for, you hear her laughing before even seeing her… Something I have heard about myself too hahah :D.

I admire who ever is her kind, silent workhorse, something I am working towards with myself.

It was also really inspiring to hear that she has gone through her own personal struggles with the help of running. The way she spoke on the film, made me cry because my journey is so similar, I could relate on so many levels. I have come to the conclusion that quite many runners have gone through something big in their personal life, usually ultra runners even more. Maybe because when you are in a dark and deep hole and not sure how to get up, and then you find something like running that really shows you how you can rise again.

Sally to me is also an epitome of PMA, she shines it through all her cells. Even through hard times she keeps believing, that makes me push myself in believing even when it’s hard.

One thing I really want to bring out, is that she is insanely beautiful in this muscular strong way. For myself that means so much, as when I train more my muscles like to grow and become visible. This doesn’t mean that I don’t respect ladies who run ultras and are slim, no no, but it’s so nice to see someone who is really strong in a visible way and similar to me. Sometimes we all need people to look up to and Sally is definitely that to me!

Billy Yang who made this movie, did justice in all areas that I could wish. He really showed the whole journey of Sally from early age to Western States 100. I love how simple things can make everything so much more beautiful. Less is definitely more.

And the beauty of friendship, this movie really shows that. And these days I know so well how important it is to have good people around you, that believe in you even when you maybe don’t.

Gratitude. Love for what you do. Going through pain because of that love. Friendship. Hard work. Appreciation. Beauty in strength. PMA. ❤

Dedication with Sallys Mom end of the movie.

Dedication with Sallys Mom end of the movie.