Friday, September 30, 2011

Middle and Relay SM

We have to go back in time a bit for this one, but it was fun and worth writing about. Two weekends ago we again traveled for many hours in a van to Västergötland for the middle and relay championships. Ross and I both had decent races in the middle qualifier. I just made it into the B final and Ross just missed out on the D final. In the middle final I had a huge disaster on the third control (you can see my wanderings here). Ross had another good race and finished third in his final group. My splits (look near the bottom!) and Ross's splits (look near the top!).

Marta and I trying to make some sort of expression... it's hard to tell what we were going for
Löfås, Tomas and Jan
One of the exciting moments of the day was when Hannah and Albin, both from OK Linné were on the victory couch. If you finished your race and your time was the best so far, you sat on the couch until someone else beat your time. Both were there for quite awhile and in the end Albin won H20 and Hannah was second in D20. Well done!
Hannah and Albin on the couch of victory

The next day was the relay and both Ross and I were running on teams. I ran first leg for Linné's second team and Ross ran anchor leg for his team. The night before we joined in on the team spirit. Can you tell who is who?

The relay was by far my best performance so far in Sweden. Helps when it's mass start with about 65 other women. I wrote up my race on my log.

Our next race is this weekend and it will be similar to the first leg of the relay. It's the Swedish Ultralong Championships. It's a mass start race with forkings. Ross will be running 24k and I'll be running 17k. I think it will be super fun, although certainly challenging. There are *only* 37 women signed up. Back home this would be huge, but here it seems tiny. I'm feeling nervous about it already. I hope I find a pack to run with, but I'm a bit worried since I'm ranked second to last in the registration list. It seems only the strong and confident signed up for this race - I'm going to be happy with not finishing last :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Our First Books

Last week, Ross and I biked back to his work after running intervals to join his coworkers for beer club. In a little nook at the end of the hallway outside their labs and office, a handful of people were sitting around eating and drinking. Next to them was a large cart of beer with a variety of selections. It's 100kr ($15) to join beer club and then 20kr ($3) for a beer. And you sit around at night after work drinking... in the workplace. It's awesome, but I'm trying to imagine this flying at home :) It was fun to meet his coworkers and chat with people... and drink beer for a normal price :)

It was here that a coworker lent Ross and I our first two books:

Ross typed almost all of Biltvätt in Google translate and now can recite most of the book from memory. Pelle Svanslös is from Uppsala so everyone here has read this story and it has a special place in their hearts from childhood.

Ross's favorite sayings are now "Rulla ut och rulla på!" and "Akta svansen Buffa!" (Ha, I feel like I'm blogging about a baby's first words). The amusing thing about reading children's books is that they are not always written to make perfect sense. Sometimes sentences are added because they sound good or they rhyme. "Rulla ut and rulla på!" doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but it sounds good!
Look! It's the Uppsala cathedral

We have only made it through the first two paragraphs of Pelle Svanslös. I read the story aloud and Ross typed what he thought I was saying into Google translate. This was good practice, but it resulted in me having to spell out many of the words. It was a slow process. We did learn about elakaste Måns, and elakaste is another new favorite word. The sentence "När Pelle sedan kom till stan, blev han väldigt retad av de andra katterna" was accidentally typed in as "När Pelle sedan kom till stan, blev han väldigt retard av de andra katterna" which, although not terribly PC, had us rolling on the floor laughing.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Food and Orienteering

It was suggested today at OK Linné's orienteering event that I should write all my blog entries about food and orienteering, since that's all I do. How well everyone here is getting to know me :)

Let's start with today and work backwards a few days. Today OK Linné put on a one day event. It was in the woods right behind the apartment, so it only took Ross and I about 8 minutes to bike over. We biked the way that we would run, but going uphill through roots and rocks on a bike that has no gears is difficult :) Once we arrived I delivered the chocolate chip cookies bars that I made last night to the food stand to sell. Turns out I should have hidden a few in the bag myself, as I was tempted to go buy one later in the afternoon. But it seemed a bit silly to buy something that you made, so I resisted.

Since these bars sparked the comment about food and orienteering, here is where I got the recipe.

In order to make them into bars I poured the mixture into a 10x14 (yep, no 9x13 here!) and smoothed it out. It looks thin, but will rise as it bakes. Some changes:
  • I don't have an electric mixer, so I heated the butter up a bit in a pot and stirred the sugar into almost melted butter.
  • The chocolate sinks to the bottom and 210g as way too much. More like 170g.
  • Baking time is a bit unknown. I found that when I baked it at 177°C the top got too hard and the bottom stayed too mushy. So I baked it at more like 160°C for about 32 minutes. Just guess :)

At the event, we mostly hung out, but others were hard at work...

Elisa working at registration
Mari parking cars
Johanna working at the starts

Lisa and I
Beautiful fall day!

On Saturday, Ross and I drove with another clubmember, Kristina, to Stockholm - Lidingö to be exact. Lidingö is a large island near the center of Stockholm, and the Lidingöloppet is a large cross country running race that has been run since 1965, when it was created to mirror the successful Vasaloppet ski race. (or so I learned from reading Ross's log and he learned from reading wikipedia). Ross was able to buy an entry from a different clubmember who decided not to run. The whole weekend draws about 40,000 runners and this year about 12,000 ran the 30k race.
Ross before the race. Stretching out his calves from intervals on Thursday...

It was a beautiful day and I spectated with Kristina's boyfriend and sister. I saw Ross at 8k, 20k and the finish chute. He ran an awesome race and you can read all about it in his log.
Ross looking strong with 22k left!
Kristina also at 8k, running well from the start!

Kristina was a rock star and ran only a few minutes slower than Ross and was 5th woman. She was my interval buddy the other day when we were training, but I couldn't have kept up with her today! I'm a bit jealous of them. Sure, they were limping around all afternoon, but that feeling of accomplishment must be great.
There was a lot of sitting once Ross finished...

On Friday night, to get back to food, Mari came over for some regular ordinary Swedish mealtime. For dinner, she brought us her curry recipe that she got when she worked in Nepal. It was absolutely fantastic. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. And, you know what, I'm not going to share it. You want to taste the yumminess, you have to come over for dinner :) Then she taught us her secret kannelbullar recipe... which is also on the back of the ICA flour bag.

Yum! Baked and unbaked bits of heaven.


Friday, September 23, 2011


Although, yes, I'm unemployed, I somehow still manage to keep myself busy. Sometimes it's by running twice in one day and going on a bike ride. Other times it's by reading an entire young adult fiction book (shouldn't have paid $10 for that).

Today is a perfect day. Not a cloud in the sky, no humidity, slight breeze and 60°F. 

This morning I woke up early to bake chocolate chunk cookie bars.  I took a glorious bike ride over to Ross's work to deliver fika to his lab. Yum. It was a good test run since I am also going to make them to sell at Linné's event this weekend as well.

Lots of fun things have happened in the past week. Yes, most of them are food or orienteering related :) I plan on telling all the exciting stories soon, but I have a few deadlines of my own to take care of first. I am applying, once again, for the Women in Sports Foundation Travel and Training Fund Grant. And, once again, I am doing it all very last minute. It's due today :) But 5:00pm east coast time, so I have a few hours still... Maybe now that I'm actually unemployed and living in Sweden they will take more pity on me. I had to put together a budget of projected 2012 expenses. Not only is that practically impossible for me to do (I can't think that far ahead) it also makes me realize how much traveling costs!

Hej då!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Exploding Mushrooms

As I'm sitting here enjoying my own fika with myself (can you have fika by yourself?)...
My own fika, complete with kanelbullar.

I put together a video of some amusing moments here in Uppsala. I laugh every time I watch this, but I think it may be a "had to be there" moment. Video is here on vimeo.

Also, last night I again tried my hand at Swedish cooking and made kötbullar. Mine did not come out nearly as round as the picture, but it was still yummy :)

Kötbuller. It sounds far more exotic in Swedish. They're meatballs :)
Oh, and these are cool mushrooms that I found :)
I had to clean him off before taking a picture.
They didn't explode.

Monday, September 12, 2011

SM Lång Weekend

This weekend we joined the club and drove 5 hours to Alingsås, just south of where the Swedish national long distance championships took place. The drive out was long and fairly uneventful, except that we were totally the coolest car because I had baked chocolate chip cookies to eat as road trip food. In some ways, these championships worked like a WOC long distance race. On Saturday there were qualifiers, with 12 from each heat for the elite women and 10 from each heat for the elite men making it into the finals on Sunday. Ross and I both had out best races yet in Sweden, but neither of us qualified. I finished 14th, a little less than 2 minutes out and Ross finished 33rd. In order to make the final for the men you had to finish between 2 and 4 minutes behind the leader, depending on the heat. For the women, you had to finish between 8 and 10 minutes behind the leader. Impressive how close the times were for the men!

After the races on Saturday a few of us went exploring around the small town of Alingsås and had coffee in a café. The guy working behind the counter immediately knew I was American and asked where I was from. Coincidentally enough, he had lived in Newton for a year! Small world! That evening when Lisa and I were sitting around in our hotel room we heard lots of commotion coming from outside. Turns out Saturday evenings are when the locals take their cars out for a spin! I found it incredibly amusing :)

Hm, I wanted to put the video right in the blog, but I can't get it to work, so here is a link the the raggare. Raggare means Greasers, which is the closest word I could come up with for this. Google's first translation of raggare is Asian Network... which doesn't seem like it has any connection to Greasers.

On Sunday everyone who didn't make the final got to run the spectator race, which was a middle distance race. I ran another fairly solid race, but Ross's was a bit less smooth. The girls decided to race the finish chute today and I claimed the victory. In the process though I got covered in mud, since the entire chute was a mud pit (it was the same finish chute as yesterday). Sunday didn't rain as much as they had initially predicted, but it drizzled a few times and had rained overnight so the entire field was mud. I now understand the joys of owning rain pants and rain boots. Must get myself some in order to survive here.

My sneakers in the mud. Must get rain boots.

Enjoying the sawhorse that Ross took from elsewhere in the arena so that we would actually have somewhere to sit. Also must get stool.

Everything was damp and muddy... but we had so much fun :)

Ok Linné came home with two medals - Mats was third in H21 and Albin was first in H20. Well done! After a long day in the mud we headed home (magically the vans managed to escape the muddy parking field). It was another long five hours, but the entire van breaking into song to the Backstreet Boys made it go by a bit faster :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Regnet står som spön i backen

I was looking for the equivalent of "It's raining cats and dogs" and this phrase is what the internet tells me has the same connotation. "Regnet står som spön i backen" translates directly as "The rain stands in rods on the hillside." I'll have to ask around to see if they really say it. Today it was raining cats and dogs for most of the day. It would pretend to taper off and then start pouring again. Ross had to bike to work in the worst of it. I wonder how he fared. I now know why people here own rainpants. I've spent most of the day holed up inside. I have a weird niggling pain in my right abdomen/groin/hip area. Then I did about 10 minutes of core yesterday along with sprints, and my entire core is sore :) I'm going for a stretch run this evening with a clubmate to loosen everything up. This weekend is the Swedish national long distance championships and I hope to go into it rested and ready to race hard.

In my time home today I decided to try a Swedish recipe. I picked up a few free cooking pamphlets at the local grocery store last week. We didn't bring any cookbooks from home, as most of the recipes we can find online. But it's hard to cook the same as home. One stumbling block is that the two grocery stores near us are small and have mostly the basics. And Swedish basics aren't the same as American basics. They both have fennel, but no green onions. The have vanilla sugar, but no vanilla extract. Only one of them had baking soda and baking powder, and neither had cream of tartar (for my snickerdoodle recipe). They also don't have any fresh herbs.

So, I leafed through the minimagazines today and decided on a truly Swedish meal - lasagne :) It looked simple enough, we already had some of the ingredients, and it'll be cozy after a cool and rainy autumn day. I did have to put most of it into Google translate to figure it out...
Yum! Click on the picture for a larger version.

I spent some time looking around on the internet for recipes. Surely, I thought, someone has started a blog for Americans cooking in Sweden. As near as I can tell, this sure to be popular blog has not been done. But I did find this inspirational series. Perfect. We have the same exact stove and cool wooden board that pulls out of the counter (I never knew what that was for!)

I'll let you know how dinner shapes up! Ross and Boris can be very picky eaters...

Monday, September 5, 2011


Ross and Boris, along with many other teams, at the starting line.
We need to be better about updating our blog more frequently, as there have been many exciting events happening since we last posted. Let's begin with the orienteering. Ross and I raced three more races for OK Linné - the district long, middle and relay championships. We are both still struggling to find our flow, but we're improving every time. Yesterday was the relay competition and we were each assigned to a team. Ross and Boris both ran the first leg for their teams and had solid races. Boris passed off in 6th and Ross in 7th. In the end, Boris's team finished in 3rd and Ross's team was 5th. OK Linné entered 8 elite men's teams and claimed the top 6 spots.
And they're off!

Sam anchoring her team in second place.

I broke from my tradition of running first leg and was assigned to anchor the second Linné team. Our first runner ran well and handed off in 5th. Our second runner had a great race and passed all the teams in front of her to hand off to me in first! I made a big mistake on my first control and the team behind me passed me. Luckily things got better after that and I managed to hold off the other teams and finish second. I stood on my first Swedish podium with my teammates and took home my first DM medal!
My first medal!

You can read an article about the relay here.
Two OK Linné teams on the podium.

Of course, we have lives outside of simply orienteering all the time! Before Patrick headed back to Ireland, we all played an epic game of mini-golf. This was the hardest course I have ever played and it took us about 2 hours to complete it. We were there far after dark! The Swedish family that started after us eventually just skipped past us, finished the course and went back to do the holes they skipped - all in about half the time it took us! We have some practicing to do.
Uphill to the tiny hole that led into the roulette wheel.
Yes, you had to launch the ball off the ramp and into the basket.
Taking a careful shot to take the lead!
We also played team ultimate croquet on the lawn by our apartment. The wickets on the hillside were the hardest for all teams, both when going up and coming back down. In the end it was a fairly close game, with Patrick and Mari winning by a tiny margin.
Patrick sending another team's ball down the hill.
Sometimes croquet can be a frustrating game...

Dark weather at the soccer game.
On a dark and stormy night we attended a Sirius fotboll game, Uppsala's Division 1 soccer team with Boris and a visiting researcher. I spent most of the game being horribly embarrassed by Ross and Boris who were not trying to blend in at all. Swedes are not known for their loudness, while Americans certainly are. Boris and Ross had no problems booing the players and making critical remarks about how they all played - despite not knowing either team at all. To their credit, they also cheered loudly when our team did well. Next time, I think I'll sit in a different section.

Boris wondering what one does with all the strange cooking supplies.
On the home front, we have settled in nicely. Our walls are still empty, but it may be a good thing that we haven't tried to hammer in any nails. We heard from others that the walls are really hard and if you do succeed in hammering in a nail you may also cause large cracks in the wall. So we will find an alternative to hanging up art. Boris is puzzled about why we have so many strange cooking utensils, but don't see the need for a cheese slicer or an electric water boiler. I maintain that a knife is a fine cheese slicer and we can boil hot water on the stove. Apparently, that is just not the Swedish way.

This weekend we tested out our house and strange cooking utensils by inviting 6 people over for dinner. Bara and Martin are friends that Boris made when he was living in Uppsala and who are now living in Stockholm. They came to visit along with Andrew, an orienteer we met ages ago from Ireland, who is also currently also living in Stockholm. Our clubmate, Lisa, also came over with her boyfriend Sebastian. They live right across the street from us and were able to run home and get a larger pot when the chili was overflowing from our only big pot. And Mari also joined in on the fun. We baked blondies and Bara brought a chocolate cake, so everyone was quite full by the end. We then taught everyone how to play Taboo :) Major props to all the non-native English speakers for playing! I find the game hard enough in my native tongue, but they were brilliant.
Intently listening to Boris during Taboo.
And now it's time to get ready for our evening training on the famous Lunsen map. I also bought a used bike yesterday, but I'm now worried it's a bit too used. I was trying to save money by buying a cheap(ish) bike, but now I'm worried that I'll have to put more money into it having it fixed. Oh well!