Thursday, December 13, 2012


More snow continues to fall here in Uppsala. My little weather widget calls for snow everyday, but it's only a centimeter or two.

The sun is rising later and on my morning bike commute to work I even saw the sunrise... at 9.05am.
Actual beer
 I continue to bike to work. Last Wednesday during our snowstorm I was biking through the wind and snow, glancing up only occasionally to see if there were any bikes coming towards me on the bike path. I was surprised at one point to glance up and see not a cyclist, but a skier coming towards me. That probably would have been faster, especially on the way home where I ended up walking. It was faster than dragging my bike or trying to take the bus.

Grocery Store beer

I've sampled a few holiday beers over the past few weeks, although my cold had stopped me from trying more. I actually enjoyed the low alcohol Frosty Bulldog the most. Last night I made delicious eggnog and am enjoying a morning Eggnog Latté.

We also went skiing up in Harsa, about a three hour drive north. We were only there from Saturday to Sunday, but we had a very cozy house and the trails were beautiful.

View from our rented house over the frozen lake

Friday, November 30, 2012


My commute this morning on my bike:

Just after collecting my bike from the indoor bike room.
Down the quiet side street.
The morning bike commutes have been a bit more slippery than the evenings. Both of these past two mornings it has been snowing and the plows hadn't been out on the bike paths recently. By the evening there was more gravel down and it was freshly plowed. What I do enjoy, though, is that they often don't plow all the way down to the pavement. This would leave space for water to pool during the days and ice to form. Instead, there is always a layer of snow and gravel on the ground. With snow tires being mandatory on cars, and more people have studded tired (some even on their bikes!), this seems to work quite well.

Leaving work around 4. Last bike outside.
Uppsala Training Weekend this weekend! Planning on a nice long orienteering run in Lunsen tomorrow, followed by two sessions on Sunday. Lots of out of towners here too - over 120 people participating. Should be beautiful tomorrow in the snow! After some dire weather predictions of -14°C, it's only going to be about -5 tomorrow. I can deal with that. Good thing I have wet socks :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Weekend Fun

This weekend was the Linné Gala, which signifies the end of the season and time to relax and have fun. The organizing crew (which included Ross) did an amazing job decorating, serving wonderful food and having lots of games and awards. Plus, great music to get us through the night. Ross won the Sunshine Award for all of his enthusiasm and cheering.

Solstråle Ross
Sunday was, due to a late night, a lazy day, but I got excited and baked one of my favorite seasonal Swedish deliciousnesses (yes, that word is a noun).

Lussekatter (saffron rolls)
I put on Christmas music and pretended that it was December. With no Thanksgiving to hold you back, Christmas celebrations can start a lot earlier.

Plus, they made my Monday morning at work much better.

On Wednesday we are headed to the opera in Stockholm with some friends, but also Ross's parents! Eric and Mary are flying in on Wednesday and will be staying with us through the weekend. Hopefully we will get to show them all the exciting Uppsala sites... like the forests. The weather has improved, since it's not constantly raining and it's above freezing, so I hope it continues this way while they are here. The morning bike commutes to work are beautiful, as I'm often biking during sunrise. Soon it will be completely dark, but for now it's quite magical.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


October in the US
Em and Baby Ben! Bath Time.

Boggle Games at North Americans. Really, we did race prep...

Delaware Water Gap. iPhone doesn't do the colors justice.

Exploring with Alex, Ross and Karen

Being tourists in the woods.

Fall! With pies, and pumpkins, and apples and cakes and donuts!
This is why I love fall. So excited to stop at the stand.

Look, I'm pie!

October in Uppsala
It's hard to tell, because it's the iphone, but it's a gigantic moon rising by the cathedral.
Clothing Exchange party. Combined with a fantastic brunch and, of course, an urban o course. (Link to Claire's blog about her year in Sweden and with Linné)

Bowling with work - the winning team. Notice I was not on it. It was a horrible bowling evening. I need to brush up on my skills.

Sunset outside the apartment.

And we moved, in September. We didn't go far, just across the street. But instead of living in apartment 23, we now live in 4. The walls have yet to be decorated, but we'll get there!

Monday, August 27, 2012


No, we're still here. Life is great, even though it feels like it's the end of autumn, not the end of summer in Uppsala. This morning I wished I had gloves for the bike ride to work! But, my 60% is really more like a 100% job, so I spend most of my days at the school. I am teaching orienteering in PE next week, and hopefully not only to the year 4 and year 5, but also to the 6-9 years. I have a lot of fantastic ideas, but it's a lot of work to organize orienteering activities for 6 classes a day, for 3 weeks! I think I have to scale back on what I was hoping to do. Right now I'm updating the map around the school to something that is close to correct. Next, I'm updating the university sprint map across the street, where I hopefully can bring the year 7-9 students for some sprint orienteering. Now, do you think I can get the club to lend me the SI units for a day or two? :)

I think it's really special that orienteering is one of the two specific things that you must teach in PE (swimming is the other). The core content says that students should learn:
  • Using maps to orient oneself in the surrounding nature and outdoor environment. Maps – their structure and symbols.
  • Orientation in unfamiliar environments using maps and other aids to locate position.
  • Rights and obligations in nature as set out in the public right of access to land.
I was just browsing my training log from last September (trying to seei f I had any DM long results), and I came across this entry:
An easy morning run in the blustery weather. There were lots of children in Stadsskogen woods this morning out orienteering! And they were all lost. Every single group I saw was wandering aimlessly. One group looked like they were going to ask me for help as I approached, but they wimped out. If I felt more confident in my Swedish I would have stopped. I have to wonder what sort of instruction was given to these kids - they all looked thoroughly confused! I glanced at a few of their maps as I ran past and they were certainly not great quality - definitely photocopies.

Talking to a few people here about their experiences with orienteering in school it sounds like a lot of the programs aren't well run. They use old maps and don't provide good instruction. Instead of encouraging people to do orienteering, they turn people away from it. I'm sure this isn't the case in all schools, but I heard this account from more than one person. It's too bad, considering how well it could be done!

Well, then, I guess after all my talk I better do a good job!

Training is still hard. I'm struggling with motivation and energy. My weird hip pain that's been around for over a year has decided to make itself known again and it's hard to want to go running when you know it will hurt. No panicking! It isn't that bad, and I'm stretching it. It's just annoying. This weekend I start racing, and I'm starting with the long distance district championships. I think that's the perfect place to start. My shape isn't great, but it's certainly enough for me to put in a good effort this weekend.  Last year's DM Long: map results splits

Goals for this year's long DM:
  • Use what I've learned. I'm smarter now, and a better orienteer.
  • Simplify.
  • Check the compass. Pay attention to it!
And, because no blog entry is complete without a picture, here are favorites from Plitvice Lake National Park, Croatia:

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Uppsala is certainly home now. It's not my only home - I still refer to the house I grew up in as home, and my two apartments in Newton still remind me of home. But Uppsala is certainly home now. There has been one dreary day since returning, but otherwise it's been perfect Swedish summer weather. Plus, on the rainy day I had the opportunity to wear all my rain gear to bike frantically into work. Instead of getting wet from the rain I started sweating from the layers. I must learn to manage that a bit better. I started work on Wednesday, bright and early after getting home the previous night around 11pm. I'll be teaching P.E. and doing some special education work at Internationella Engelska Skolan Uppsala. It's a 60% job, so I should still have plenty of time for training. Plus, I've already told them that I must take a week off in October for North American Champs :)

We grilled one beautiful night, and followed the yumminess with a game of Power Grid, where Ross was the supreme victor. This morning Ross started washing the outside of the kitchen window, which I've been wanting to do for months. I couldn't stay away from the fun, so I joined in "to help." I think he would have rather done it himself. Then we framed some IKEA pictures, and even assembling the frames was a challenging task. Now, I'm relaxing after running hill intervals on backbanan and chatting with Hanna. Game night and pizza later with Uppsala friends.

It's good to be home!

Friday, July 27, 2012


In Croatia, even pictures taken out of a moving car with an iphone look amazing.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

WOC Training

I always saw this blog as an orienteering adventure blog, but most of the time I write about food. Maybe I should take Alex's approach and have a food blog and an orienteering blog. Then again, I can barely write enough for this one.

This past Wednesday I participated in the Swiss selection races for the World Championships, this summer in Lausanne, Switzerland. The women had 11.3km with 380m of climb, which is long. You can view the map and the splits. If you're planning your own routes, you should know that none of the purple slash (out of bounds) was on the competition map, so feel free to run right through it.

As you can see, I'm at the very bottom of the results. Physically, I was hurting the entire time, even during the warm up. I had this tightness and low lactic acid burning in my legs that was set off just by walking. In these woods you need to be ready to attack, and I just didn't have the energy. This led to lazy planning and execution and I surrendered tens of minutes to mistakes and bad routes during this "race".

For my nonorienteering friends out there, green on the map indicates thickness of vegetation. White on the map means runnable woods. Light green is slightly less runnable, then medium green and then the darkest green (don't even try to go through). On top of that, the green slash, on this map, is briers and stinging nettles and other vines and downed trees and branches. Yellow generally means open area, but yellow with green slash means an open area that has grown up and been filled with briers and nettles. Really avoid these areas! As you can see, if you wanted to avoid all the green on this map, you wouldn't make it around the course. You have to go through it sometimes, but you try to minimize the damage. Stick to trails as much as possible.

Here is that I learned, after looking at my race along with GPS tracking and splits from some of the other runners:

1. The streams/ditches are hard to see, especially in the dense green. It all seemed wet. Possibly I was too high and so ran over the top of the first one. Others didn't seem to have as much trouble. I also ran the trail around the corner out of the start. I should have just bitten the bullet and gone through the bit of green slash.

2. Straightish is fine here. I ran out to the road on the right and that was way too far around. I'm not sure what I was trying to avoid, except that the whole area seemed much greener than mapped.

3. One of the best routes was going right out to the trail and then going north (down) and along the bottom and up the indistinct trail right to the control. What I did, attempting to contour the side of the hill, was a very poor choice. I couldn't tell how far I had gone, I was too high and ended up having to bail out to the bottom anyway. Most people went across the top of the hill and attacked from the green patch. They didn't seem to have trouble from there. I was too timid to leave the trail and enter into the green yellow slash. The map says there was an indistinct trail, but I never saw it. Some others may have found it, but others just cut in somewhere along the way, nettles, briers and downed trees be damned.

4. A few different routes into 4, but it was important to make sure you had a good bearing from the trail above. I thought I was following along the stream, but I ended up almost hitting the downhill trail to the north. Although some people did it straight no problem, the safest and still fast route is to take the trail downhill and then cut in when you see the green and clearing coming up.

5. Many people had trouble in the circle here. I missed slightly, but had people around. Again, it's hard to see far in the low visibility and the ditches are not as obvious as I want them to be. I'm not sure how to guarantee spiking it here. Possibly aim off a bit to the right, pay close attention to hitting the stream ditch and know to turn left.

6. Two good routes, left or right. Right involves staying on trails for the most part, going south of 11, cutting a bit, and ending up south of 15 and running the dirt road. The left route, that I tried to take but didn't see, involves going on the dirt road northeast from the control, taking the small path through the rough open and going down the steep nose at the stream junction. Cross the stream and there's a little trail you can take up the steep bank to the dirt road. Run the road and come in from the bottom. It seems that route may have actually been the fastest.

12. I didn't want to go into the woods from the trail, as they were thick. I should have. Everyone else did. I wimped out and ran up the trail a bit, but then had to come back and I missed the control. Basically straight was the best.

14. The most common route was taking the large trail to the small building at the trail cross, and then cutting up the ride. I wasn't anywhere near the first starter, but even when I got there, I was not psyched about running up the ride. It was so overgrown. But, after the first few meters, as indicated on the map, it became more distinct. Remember, just go for it! The plants aren't going to kill you (in the long run).

16. Running along the large field with the slash in it was fantastic. It was only grass on the edge and it had been trampled. Ten times faster than running in the woods. But, of course, this may not always be true...

17. Leave going west, out the broad nose on the indistinct trail and down into the reentrant. I found it hard to get out of that area once I was in the bottom, even though there is a trail. I ran down along the stream and then cut up on the second trail to the upper one. I stayed on trails the whole way here, and I was surprised by the number of people who cut the corner from the trail along the river to the upper parallel trail. Sure, after the first bit of medium green the map says the woods are white, but you're going uphill through crap. The trail doesn't have a great angle, but hey, no crap on the ground. Based on the number of people who cut, I think cutting is the way to go, but, again, you have to just go for it. Be strong, fight through the green! At the end of the leg, it seems a number of people ran down the trail to where the indistinct trail comes off on the semiopen. I also did that. It's a good attackpoint. I still missed, but at least I was closer.

18. Still not sure about the best route. Not what I did. (I ended up running on the trail to the finish...) Possibly swinging a bit to the south to stay in whiter woods.

So, those are my thoughts :) Interesting only to me, and boring for most of you, but it's good to document what I learn :)

And, because all blog posts need pictures, here's the view from Sandra and Marc's balcony.
A bit too cloudy to really see the mountains.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Not forgotten...

There was a period this winter when I stopped writing on the blog because I couldn't think of anything else to say. Sure, I could have told you about how we were using fabric softener for about 5 months thinking it was laundry detergent, but somehow that wasn't enough to write a whole blog post about.

And then, things started to pick up. In April we spent every weekend orienteering. I was in Göteborg for a long weekend at the Swedish team sprint camp, and then Stigtomta, followed by Silva League races in Stockholm and Cristina and Melissa visiting during Valborg. May was even busier, as I headed up to train for EOC and then spend a week racing. My parents were here during the EOC week and then they came back to Uppsala, where they were joined by my aunt and uncle.

They were here during the most glorious week so far this spring/summer. Sunshine, 20°C, cool breeze, just perfect. We spent two days in Stockholm, and it was a nice change from the last time I was there when my toes went numb in my shoes. My two favorite things that we did there were:

1. Morning run around the perimeter of Djurgarden. Mom, Dad and I all started out together from our hostel on Gamla Stan (Best Hostel - Gamla Stan Skeppsbron, it was quite nice, clean and quiet). Mom cut across the island and Dad and I kept going. It was quiet and beautiful.

2. Dinner at Hermans. It's a vegetarian buffet restaurant that our friend Andrew told us about (thank you, Andrew!) and it was absolutely fantastic. It was a beautiful evening and we sat outside until sunset at 9:30 just admiring the view.

We also went to the Nobel Museum and Drottningholm, both of which were 100 times more interesting because we had a tour. The tour guide in the Nobel Museum was especially good.

Dad, across the bushes in the gardens at Drottningholm

The next week, when my friends Ellen, Steph and Ann visited, I made sure to take them to Hermans as well! It was unfortunately a complete weather change from the week before, and they had a rather chilly stay in Sweden. Also, the trains caught fire both to and from Stockholm, adding unnecessary time and stress to our trip. I swear they never break that frequently (or maybe they do?). It was really great having them here, although I wish some things went a bit smoother. It's so nice just to relax with friends from home (and drink 4 bottles of wine while playing Taboo).

Then it was June! Jukola was just as fun as everyone said it would be. I ran the third leg for Linné's third team for Venla. Elin and Lisa R. both ran well and Lisa handed off to me in 12th place! I ran really hard and only made 2 small errors, but I had a hard time keeping up with the girls around me. We finished in a very respectful 30th place and we were the best 3rd team. Linné 1 was 7th and Linné 2 was 21st. A pretty good day for us girls, I think.

That evening 7 of us Linné girls had another adventure and we rocked the men's Jukola race. Jukola, for those of you who don't know, is a 7 person relay that starts at 10pm and runs until about 8am the next morning. I ran the fourth leg, which is the dawn/day leg. I was worried about having to get up at 2am for my 3:45am race start. I went to bed around 10pm and could hear the start of the men's relay. I never fell into a deep sleep, which was good because it made getting up at 2am that much easier. I didn't feel that sleepy, which was surprising because I was crashing earlier in the day after my Venla race (I ran that race harder than I've run anything in a long time). I almost missed the hand off from Sofie as my magnifier wouldn't tighten on my compass, but I made it with about a minute to spare. I had a good race. Not as clean or as fast as the previous day, but still pretty steady. I really, really enjoyed it. We ended up coming in 301st and we were the first all woman's team. Fantastic.

Ok, that's as far as I'm getting for now. I'm currently in Switzerland staying at Sandra and Marc's place until just before WOC. They are great hosts and I love being here.

It should be mentioned, though, that Ross tried to jump a fence last Thursday and caught his foot. He landed badly and broke his elbow. He was hopefully going to hear more today if he has to get surgery to put everything back in place, or just a cast. So, I'll keep you updated! He's strong, he will heal fast.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Happy Summer!

To enjoy this beautiful summer weather today, Ross and I went to Sigtuna for some siteseeing and fika.

Monday, May 14, 2012

European Championships

Ross and I are up in Mora, Sweden running the European Orienteering Championships. No, we're not considered Europeans quite yet, but we can run for USA as they are also World Cup races. Most of the reporting this week is going to be done on the Team USA Orienteering blog. Today we raced the middle qualification race and neither of us are terribly happy about how it went. We both missed out on the finals, and had some mistakes out in the woods that leave a slightly bitter taste in our mouths. The woods, though, are absolutely fantastic! Also, I ran with a GPS today, so you can watch me run my course (I'm heat C and I started at 12:10)... and wander around so close to #4!

All results will be on the EOC homepage, and they have live results every day. Tomorrow we are running the long qualification and the men are wearing GPS, so you can watch Ross run in real time! He starts at 12:57 local time, so around 7am for all you back home on the east coast.

We're living right next to the Vasaloppet finish!

Team North America!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

10mila to EOC's!

Last weekend was 10mila. Lots of fun and all that jazz. If I had more time, I'd write more :) I ran the unforked 3rd leg on the women's third team and Ross ran the long night on the men's 3rd team. I was pleased with my race, although wish I was faster. I ended up leading a pack, and after an early mistake the pack that wasn't too far ahead of us opened up a lead and I never saw them. It was a new experience for me - I'm often the slowest in a pack hanging on. This time I was the fastest and leading everyone (not always the right way - but they followed anyway!).

Ross hasn't said much about his long night leg besides, "Maybe in a week I'll get over it." It didn't go as well as he would have liked. But still, he can say he ran long night at 10mila and that's pretty awesome.

Both the men's team and the women's team came in fourth, which was fantastic :)

Pre-10mila bonding with flag paining

Best club in Sweden!
And now I'm leaving in 2 minutes to go to Mora to have a few training days before the EOC's. I'm nervous, unsure, but will work on focusing and building my confidence in the next few days. This is really a trial run for WOC :) My parents are arriving in Sweden on Friday, and my aunt and uncle next Saturday. Then at the end of the month, my friends Steph, El and Ann come to visit. Lots to look forward to!!

Monday, May 7, 2012


April 30th is one of the biggest celebrations in Uppsala. Valborg is a holiday also known as Walburgis Night, which celebrates the coming of spring. The Wikipedia article, as usual, does a good job describing Valborg in Sweden and in Uppsala. In Uppsala, it seems to be the biggest holiday/party day of the year, especially for the students. And, since Uppsala seems to be mostly made up of students, it seems like the entire city is partying from morning til night. The bass from the parties in the nations could be felt throughout the entire city.

Ross and I headed into town in the morning with visitors Cristina and Melissa to watch the raft race, Forsränningen. In the week before Valborg, students gather on the festival grounds and build rafts that they will ride down the river and over two small falls. They are all creatively painted, with accessories and costumes. The highlight is watching these rafts try to go over the falls, but the crowd around the bridges in that area was too deep to see through. We went upriver and joined Johanna (a fellow Linné clubmate) and Emily Kemp, who was visiting from France. We sat with them on the bank, surrounded by people picnicking with champagne and strawberries.

I think Ross took better photos with his camera, but he has it with him at work, so here are the pictures I took on my iphone (yes, Ross bought me an iphone! I love it :)).

Lots of splashing between boats - and we saw two capsize. Not too good since they hadn't yet reached the falls!

Down the river, toward the church.
And here is someone else's video on youtube showing some boats going off the falls.

After watching about 120 of the boats (I don't know how many there were) we walked around town a bit and got Thai buffet for lunch (cheap(ish) and yummy!). Then we retired to the castle hill where Ross fell asleep and the rest of us played Hearts.

Ross relaxing in the sun
People sitting on the castle hill.
For a long time before Valborg (I don't know how long) there was a countdown clock on the front of the library counting down to 3:00 today, when past and present students don their caps and run down the hill. A large crowd gathered to watch what I thought would be a terrifying show of the mass sprinting downhill. I thought this was the meaning of the "champagne run."

The crowd gathers.
I was a bit disappointed. I'm not going to post the video, because I sound a bit bitter, but the dialogue goes, "Ok, really? There is no running." Turns out the Champagnegalopp is celebrated more in the nations, and not on the castle hill. And it doesn't seem to involve running, mostly just spraying champagne everywhere. The parties in the nations were quite intense - as I said, you could feel the bass from anywhere in the city. I didn't take video, but this video here (go to 45 seconds in) on youtube does a good job capturing it.

After that we were ready to head home, but we couldn't leave downtown before stopping by Ekonomikumparken, which is where everyone goes to hang out all day. Apparently there were about 30,000 people in this park. There is a cool time lapse video of the park. It's long - I would watch people arrive starting at 3:30 and watch the crowd grow! Then, skip to 8:00 and just look at the trash! And what's even more amazing is watching people clean it up! Apparently there was an article about how handing out yellow trash bags made the job easier this year, but I'm quite impressed both with the amount of trash and how quickly they cleaned it up!

That evening we had a cookout at Bloden. We taught the Swedes how to make s'mores :)

Adding more lighter fluid
Giant American marshmallows!

Emily trying to get a bit of stick out of her s'more. There was nothing there, she just got all sticky.