Friday, October 18, 2013

Seasonal update!

About one post per season seems about right :) It's just a day after my birthday and I'm home from work sick with a cold. Staying home today was mostly out of consideration for others, as today is a meeting day. No one wants to be stuck in a small room with someone who sounds like they are coughing up a lung and blowing their nose every 20 minutes. The Swedes probably would have kicked me out after about 30 minutes even if I tried to show up.

Uppsala has continued to amaze with its weather, which is important to people like Ross and I who love to spend all of our time outside. We have had some really warm days, and lots of fun and bright fall colors. As I type this, the sun is shining, the brightly colored leaves are blowing in the breeze and the thermometer reads +3C (37F). Sounds like there were even some snowflakes falling this morning. However, I do not despair. We're not in winter yet, and as long as it stays sunny I can enjoy it.

We've had an up and down orienteering season. Ross ran some really good races (like the middle SM quali), as did I (like 25manna), mixed in with some not so great races. Teaching math this year has me working harder than last year, plus I'm now working 80% instead of 60%. I love it much more than teaching PE, though, so it's worth it.

25manna was by far one of the highlights this season. The awesomeness included:

  • sunny and warm weather!
  • Linné had 6 25-person teams!
  • seeing Cristina! :)
  • running second leg, surrounded by other people. As I've said to many people, after about halfway through my course I could have lost my map, and still gone to all the controls, there were that many people. Wouldn't like to have that sort of train all the time, but it was an interesting way to run a race :)
  • the cheering squad. Every time a Linné runner came down the chute, we cheered. We may have fallen off a bit more after the first team finished because we were just too excited. But so many of these people aren't used to be cheered in the chute. For one, Swedes don't cheer. For two, (yes, you can say that), most of the runners aren't 'elite.' So we had lots of smiles, waves and fist pumps from the runners are they ran by the cheering section.
  • the excitement and anticipation watching the first team. They were amazing this year. Yes, I'm saddened that we were disqualified after the fact (one person went to a wrong control, but the organizers couldn't figure it out during the race since their entire system was down). But the roar that went up every time a first team runner came into the finish was amazing. And the excitement and nervousness waiting for Annika on the last leg was equal to the feeling I get while watching World Champs. The look of surprise of Annika's face when she emerged from the woods in the lead was priceless. We worked hard as a club that day, we cheered, we ran hard, we celebrated. That can't be taken away. We'll just have to do it properly again next year!

I think now I'll just leave off with some of my favorite pictures from the fall so far.

Thierry made some new 7 Wonders boards!

Lisa and Seb look over my taxes. Do I really have to pay?

Lisa R, Ross and I with our medals from Sigtunaloppet.

Ross, Annika, Thierry and I enjoyed dinner during Culture Night.

Fika! In Alingsås, apparently the fika capital of Sweden. 

Wouldn't be able to get through fall without my pumpkin pie spice!

Ross looking natural.

The colors on our street.

The whole street is orange and red.

My bike commute to work.

If you look closely, there is another commuter. Heavy traffic today.

Fall colors!

Gloomy day, but our street is still bright.

Ross getting his hair sprayed red and blue for 25manna.

Henrik rallying the cheering squad.

Beautiful day for 25manna.

Annika and Anne Margrethe Hausken after their final 25manna leg.

Sushi for my birthday. I love it when Ross charms them with his Swedish and good looks and we get the box of mess-up sushi (free!).

Saturday, August 3, 2013

First Race Accomplished!

Today was the first of three races for us here at the World Games. It was the sprint distance and it was held in a park and residential area in the southern part of the city. Ross ran a great race, probably the cleanest he's had all season and finished 29th out of 39. I just didn't have the legs today to run a good race. I had one speed from the beginning and it was not fast. Struggled to continuing running, and ran a mostly clean sprint, coming in 26th out of 40. Teammate Ali Crocker was the major superstar today, finishing 5th and only 3 seconds out of third!! Simply amazing!!

We've been doing some siteseeing and spectating at other events as well, so I'll just add some pictures below before I head off to bed for an early rise tomorrow. The one great thing about jetlag is that waking up at 6.15 am is not a problem :)

Afternoon fika. Trying to select from the delicious array of pastries.

Fika with friends. 5 pastries and 2 coffees for 7000 pesos, which is about $3. Great food and great coffee! Sugar rush for the afternoon.

Cultural fair going on in the park. Locals share their craft from their region of Colombia.

Our hotel. Tallest building in Cali, third tallest in Colombia. The room on the 17th floor has the most fantastic view of the city.

Rugby Sevens final match between South Africa and Argentina. Never having watched much rugby before, it was really fun. And each half was only 10 minutes long, so it's over quickly! South Africa won!
Tomorrow we race in the morning again, with start times between 9.45 and noon. You can follow us here.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

World Games!

Wednesday morning we woke up in the 3rd tallest building in Colombia, and headed downstairs to a breakfast of fresh pineapple, scrambled eggs, and a colorful rice and meat dish. Sam and I are in Cali, Colombia to race in the 2013 World Games, where orienteering is one of the included events as a "Trend Sport." This puts us in the same category as Sport Climbing, Ultimate Frisbee, Fin Swimming, and Life Saving among others. The World Games is an event put on by the International Olympic Committee, and it is organized like an Olympic Games except all the sports are ones that for various reasons do not fit into the regular Olympics.

This picture of Cali comes from a 3D map of Colombia that we found in a park.

Our journey to get here started in the fall of 2012, when we learned that the US would be getting positions for the orienteering at the World Games. This is the first time that the US was awarded a spot and it is a reflection on the increasing strength of our national squad. Sam and I were selected along with teammates Eric Bone and Alison Crocker to represent the US. However, less figuratively, our journey to get here started on Monday morning when Sam and I headed to the airport from our home in Uppsala, Sweden where we started the 38 hour journey to Cali, via London, Boston, and Miami.

We only recognized one orienteer on our flight from Miami to Cali, but there were some squash players and two coaches from the bowling team that were there as well. And once we got off the plane in Cali, there was a whole separate line for World Games athletes to get through customs and a several buses full of athletes going to get their accreditation and then to check into their hotels. As soon as we navigated successfully through that whole process we were definitely ready for bed.
As I mentioned above, our Wednesday started with breakfast where we caught up with Eric Bone who arrived after we had already gone to bed. By lunchtime we had met up with Alison Crocker too, and the team was complete. We asked some of the other teams which had already been out to explore the best place to go running from the hotel, and so after lunch we set out along the river for a short run to stretch our legs. There is a lot of traffic and the streets are crowded with buses, taxis, cars, mopeds, people pulling carts, and of course people selling Angry Birds themed twister games. We were safely up on sidewalk, and very glad that we didn’t need to drive a rental car at all during this trip.

The area along the river had a lot of narrow but beautifully arranged parks and there were lots of bridges that crossed back and forth across the thin trickle of water at the bottom of the river bed. The highlights of the scenery were probably the sculpture garden full of painted ceramic cats and the Colombian cultural fair that we stumbled upon. Some pictures from the run are shown below.

Sam is shorter than the bamboo. Also, this is not the bamboo that we have been warned about that has long sharp thorns.

Crossing the river on one of the many bridges.
Brightly painted cats.

Ali and Sam make a short loop through an open shady park while Eric and I stop to take pictures.

No day at the World Games would be complete without some sports, and our evening activity captured this spirit of the games perfectly. After our dinner in the canteen tent, we headed to a nearby arena to watch Korfball. We saw the last half of a game between the Netherlands and Portugal, and even after all that time we hadn’t really figured out the rules yet. Teams are made up of 4 men and 4 women and the team scores when the ball goes through a hoop that hangs up in the air, much like a basketball hoop without a backboard.

It was getting late after the game was over, and instead of watching the next match we got a taxi home and headed to bed, mindful of getting enough rest before our model event on Thursday. All of the races will be held on sprint standard ISSOM maps and so we’re excited to see what that will look like.   

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Spring Training

It's quite enjoyable to get out and go run now that the weather is nice again and we've had a lot of really fun training sessions recently. The last Silva League race weekend was up in Sundsvall and that was our first real taste of summer. It was sunny and hot both days, and the terrain was challenging. On the first day I managed to make mistakes on all 6 first controls, before I settled in. Not coincidentally, that's also when it stopped going uphill.

Hanging out by the river near our lodging. The water was freezing!
Two weekends ago we headed to Jämsä, where Jukola/Venla will be held in only a few weeks. The terrain there was also tough for me. The moss on the ground was sometimes mid-calf deep and the pines were exceptionally thick in the green areas. We ran a race on Sunday and I had to stop and walk the whole second half of the course. Physically, I just couldn't take it anymore. Luckily, training camps are not only about orienteering, but about hanging out with your clubmates and having a good time. It was another summer weekend and we spent our downtime enjoying the sunshine.

Swimming between trainings on Saturday.

Grilling lots of food on Saturday night

Eating dinner in the sunshine

Showers after the race on Sunday
Last week, after a weekend of feeling like I had no strength, I had one of my most fun training weeks in a long time.
Here it is, an almost ideal training week for Sam:

On Monday I did the normal, jog, rock gymp and innebandy. I love rock gympa because of the chatting time I have with people. Plus, innebandy is like field hockey but you don't have to reverse stick. Perfect.

Tuesday I ran Backbana, the hill course in town. Uppsala is pretty flat, so I have to consciously run hills to be ready for racing elsewhere in the world. I ran my fastest time by about 40 seconds on the hill course, pushing myself all the way. It just felt great to push my body that hard, to push through the mental barrier that I hit when it starts to hurt, and to be rewarded with a PR.

On Wednesday I went orienteering with the club, and a co-worker came with me. He has never really orienteered before and we headed out on an advanced course together. I explained the map symbols, and how to come up with a plan and we ran together. I did most of the leading, but we worked together on the plan, stopping at each control. It was really fun and, I think, a great way to introduce someone to orienteering. It's more fun to crash through beautiful forests than run only on trails. And more rewarding when you finally find the controls!

Thursday was District Sprint Championships in Ultuna. It was on the same map that I used to set courses for the middle school students in the fall. I felt really loopy on the way there, since I hadn't eaten enough that day and I was running later than usual (start time after 8pm). But, once I started running the lightheadedness went away and I ran a fairly clean race. Got beat by most of my clubmates, but wasn't too far behind. Encouraging to see.

Friday was track workout day, simply because Ross suggested it, so why not? Lisa ran over to the track with me, and I ran 4 400s, with about 2.5 minutes of rest between. I was running them pretty hard and aiming for 81 seconds, which is what Daniel's suggested for R pace. I was a bit faster on all of them, which is sometimes a nice way to run. And you can get away with that when you're only doing 4 :)

Saturday I finally caught up with Rasa, after not really seeing her for months. We ran o-intervals on an old course in Lunsen. When I first arrived here, I couldn't understand the fascination with Lunsen. And, when I'm tired and in the greener sections, I still sometimes forget why it's so wonderful. But, on Saturday it was beautiful. We raced to each control, paused for only a moment for the one behind to catch up, and then set off again. Flowing through the marshes and over the small hills, being able to keep track of the details while going full speed is just awesome. It didn't work perfectly on every control, but it was so much fun to run hard and still be able to navigate. I know I could not have done this a year ago.

Finally, on Sunday I did a long orienteering course with Lisa. We traded off navigating legs, and besides my one rather large mistake, we ran well. The woods were a mixture of beautiful, open hilltops and clearcut slash :) After over 2 hours of that, I came home and collapsed into bed.

Of course, interspersed with it all, we relax with friends.

Ross found his new favorite chair.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Real Fixer-Upper!

Hello Friends. I'm excited about easing back into a better habit of posting to this blog. With that in mind, I thought that I would share a couple of pictures and stories from my recent trip to the hospital in nearby Enköping, where I underwent a voluntary surgery to remove some hardware that had been placed in/around my elbow last summer .

So last summer, I broke my arm a couple of times. And after a suitable recovery period, I was still noticing, in a painful way, the protruding ends from the screws used to hold the bone chip in place. For once I actually planned enough in advance and scheduled a surgery a few months in advance, to occur in late spring.

So, on Friday the 17th of May, I got a ride down to the hospital early in the morning. A short stay in the waiting room, attempting to read Swedish gardening magazines, and then I was prepped and made comfortable in the operating room. I was out under general anesthesia, but as the gas and the injection started to take effect, I was being introduced to a bunch of doctors and nurses that were going to be sitting in and observing the procedure. That was incredibly strange, because I was coping pretty well with getting all the instructions in Swedish up until I started to fuzz out and then all the new people talking in Swedish became a real challenge.

Well, I guess it all turned out okay, because a couple hours later I woke up and was given a tube full of (lucky for me, thoroughly cleaned) screws, washers and wires as a souvenir. I was reminded of a previous surgery experience in my life, when I was expected to drink a glass of juice, and eat a sandwich. Back then, Mom helped me finish my ginger ale to expedite my escape from the hospital. This time I was able to manage on my own, though I still felt a bit dizzy from the drugs when I shucked my scrubs and got back into my street clothes to catch the bus back home.

Explains all those dreams I had where I was a hardware store in a previous life

Later that evening I headed up to an orienteering event in Sundsvall, where I got to be a super-fan for Sam and the rest of the Linné crew at the final event of the Silva League races. Here is a photo from facebook of Sam finishing the chase start/mass start final on Sunday. It's a cool shot by our friend Camilla, as neither of Sam's feet is touching the ground.

Flying to the Finish

I wasn't running in the Silva League races, but I did go out in the forest and orienteer on some open courses. I appreciated having an excuse to take it a bit easier and walk on the steep hills :) A few stitches won't keep me out of the competition for long!

In closing I will include a photo taken now, almost two weeks later, showing the current status of my healing scar. As you can see, I have already lost 10 of my 13 stitches, a few which spontaneously pulled out and several more from bad habits when it comes to wound care.

Still, even with the excellent progress shown here with the wound healing up, I wasn't able to put direct pressure on them yet and therefore I opted to skip the plank section of our Monday night Rockgympa session. Maybe next week!

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Yep, there are still plenty of things we haven't done yet in Uppsala and this weekend was filled with Firsts.

On Friday night, I tried flavor tripping. We used a tablet form of the berry and ate limes, lemons and tomatoes. It was pretty amazing. We liked it so much, we had everyone try it at Sunday Bloden Fika.

Basically, it gets rid of the sour/acidic flavor and all you are left with is the sweetness. Therefore, eating a lime is like drinking limeade. Eating a tomato is just weird. It's pretty awesome, but I think the first experience was the best, when it was so unexpected.

Then, on Saturday night we made sushi. Although Ross and I bought a sushi mat years ago in Newton, we never even opened it. When we were home over Christmas raiding our storage locker, we found the sushi mat and brought it back it Uppsala. Between four of us we made 88 pieces of sushi. While watching Melodifestivalen, we ate 83 of the pieces.

Lisa and Sebastian preparing the items for filling.

Ross, Lisa and Sebastian rolling and cutting.
It was not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. I prepared the rice earlier in the day, following the recipe here. I made 3 cups of dry rice and that was just enough for 11 sushi logs. We then filled them with some combination of smoked salmon, shrimp, cucumber, carrots, lettuce, avocado, red peppers, and sesame seeds. Of course, then I added plenty of wasabi. Heavenly.

The third First of the weekend was ice skating with the long distance blades. We drove down to Ekoln Lake with Boris and Alli. I skated once last year in Oslo, but before that it had been years. I was a bit wobbly at first, but after awhile (and once the shin and arch pain went away) it started feeling natural again. It was the most beautiful winter day. Full, bright sunshine and still relatively warm, about -6°C. And the ice, oh, the ice. Since it was warm last week all the snow melted. The last few days have been below freezing again and everything refroze into a smooth surface. You could skate anywhere you wanted around all the lakes. It didn't matter if it had been plowed or groomed. Boris wore his gamin, and you can look at the track.

Ross, Boris and Alli
Ross, with ice in all directions.

The castle of some sort.


Inspecting the giant crack. Suspect part of it was what we heard at the beginning- sounded like thunder.

Ross, and the sun is going behind the clouds.

Ross and I.
Final look over the ice as we were skating back in.
Very little (none) running this weekend for me, but it was still great fun. Ross went and ran district champs on Saturday and ran well in the 3k (9.34). He had a race plan to run 38 second per 200, and he executed his plan well. Soon he will be running 9.00! :) Just for fun, he tagged on an 800 at the end.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Living in a snow globe

Uppsala really is meant to have snow. I didn't realize how much we were missing out on last year. Working now it great, I enjoy making money again and being with students. But I miss have free time during the day to go outside and play. We've had some beautiful sunny days recently, which also means temperatures around -15C. Stunning, but cold. I'm still biking to work, which many see as crazy. But it's quite nice after a stressful day at work. Plus, I'm now often biking in the remains (or beginnings) of daylight. Summer is coming!

Biking home from work, 3.45pm

On Saturdays we are going to Västerås to run on the indoor track. It's a real treat and I love going. I miss track running. Last Saturday it was about -22C outside. I got to run indoors in shorts and then enjoy the view on the car ride home:

 And just because I can, two pics from home. I miss you!

Yep, I look like I'm going to attack the camera. I was just excited :)