Well, here we are, one day of work to go and then we head off to Berlin. I guess I’m ready for it, though I feel very differently than I have done the other times I’ve run marathons. Even hubbie remarked the other evening that I was acting a bit weird. When pressed for what he meant he said that the other times I’ve been totally paranoid including being totally hysterical about what I ate, alcohol probably wouldn’t have passed my lips for weeks, and I would be totally freaking out about germs and any little ache or pain. As we had this conversation I was in the midst of my second “almost” hangover of the weekend, a weekend where I had been totally overindulging in all kinds of goodies, and well these days freaking out over aches and pains is a totally everyday part of my life, it’s just that these days I automatically think that its cancer and not some marathon preventing injury, so no weird behaviour there! So I guess I got his point.

It’s not that I’m not looking forward to it. I’m totally looking forward to my weekend in Berlin. It’s just that its more in a “looking forward to a long weekend in Berlin” kind of looking forward, rather than a “oh my god I have to run a marathon, what the hell was I thinking” kind of looking forward.

Part of it is that the other times I’ve had quite an ambitious time goal – 3:30 to be precise – a goal I have so far not actually met. This time I have no idea whether I’ll be 30, 60 or (oh I hope not!) 90 minutes longer on the job and since my goal is simply to finish, then I don’t really care (though obviously I’m hoping for closer to 30 than 90!). Otherwise my goal is simply to enjoy it and have a good time, and to be honest whether or not I had a glass of wine too many last weekend is going to make any difference! (I will try to restrain myself to a single glass this Saturday evening in case you are wondering – there is a limit to how casually I’m taking this).

Another part of it is that I have simply lost my fear of the discomfort and pain. It’s not that I don’t think there is going to be any – in fact I expect that there is possibly going to be more than the other times since I’m not in nearly as good shape and I’m going to be out there a lot longer. It’s just that last year the levels of discomfort and pain that I experienced on a never-ending basis for months on end have kind of made the normal running related pain seem like a bit of a joke. It’s not going to last more than a short-time and I’m not going to die from it, so I might as well just smile and enjoy.  

So I guess I’m ready, in the way that I’m ready this time around. I have a growing pile of things I don’t want to forget on the guest bed. The weather forecast is perfect, sunshine and NO WIND!  



Oh, and I do have a goal to raise 5,000 kr and I’m still 650 kr from that goal. So go on, please, please, please sponsor me! I might not be able to run a 3:30 marathon, but please help me to meet this goal! http://www.betternow.org/en/project/projectskirstenejlskov

And otherwise I’ll see you on the other side! (Of the marathon that is…….)


Hurrah – I made it to 48!

September 14, 2011

A couple of days ago a friend I met when we were both having cancer treatment last year wrote (the translation is mine):

 “It was my birthday on Friday. I was 48. It was really strange because previously when I’ve celebrated my birthday it has always been with a little sadness about being a year older. It wasn’t like that at all this year. I was happy that I had become a year older. A feeling I take with me into my new year”.

It was so weird to read that because it reflected EXACTLY my own feelings. I could have written it myself. The only difference is that it is my birthday today, 5 days later, but even our age is the same!

My life is a lot different today than it was one year ago when I was at the very lowest ebb in my cancer treatment. I spent my 47th birthday in hospital, seriously ill with septicaemia thanks to having a compromised immune system due to the chemo.  As I wrote at the time it was a special day thanks to my husband and kids who pulled out all the stops to spoil me. Looking back though, it was probably far from a happy day for them, and I feel sad that my children had that experience, though proud of how they dealt with it.

At the time I wasn’t thinking about how I would want to celebrate my 48th birthday a year later. My main focus was getting through each day and the furthest I dared think about was the end of treatment. Today is a lot different than last year’s birthday. Normality has returned. I feel great, so great that I am going to be running a marathon in 11 days! My family are so unconcerned about me that my husband is off at a conference in the USA (but sweetly battled his jetlag to give me a birthday call first thing this morning). My son is away at boarding school this year, but left me a card with a sweet message and called me during his break this morning. My daughter and I had a special breakfast together and when she gets home from school we’re off to have a girly time of it with shopping, dinner and a movie. I might have been the centre of an overwhelming wave of love and attention last year, but boy do I prefer this kind of unconcerned normality!

So Happy Birthday to Me! And if you would like to celebrate with me that I made it to 48, you could always give a donation to my fundraising campaign;-) http://www.betternow.org/en/project/projectskirstenejlskov

Hmm, I really thought I was leading a healthy lifestyle until a read an article by the Danish health guru, Chris Macdonald (well he is actually American not Danish, but I think he is only considered a guru in Denmark!).

He reckons that to have a healthy lifestyle your exercise pattern should include (in order of priority):

  • Daily moderate exercise such as walking, biking for transport, house cleaning etc. etc. equivalent to 10,000 steps a day.
  • 20-30 minutes high intensity training (running, spinning etc) 3 times a week.
  • An additional 2-3 times moderate intensity training 3 times per week.
  • 30 minutes weight training twice a week.

(You can read the article here – though only if you can read Danish!)

Well, I definitely do the last 3 – plus some! But I really doubt I manage an equivalent daily regular low intensity exercise equivalent to 10,000 steps a day. My office is in my house, approximately 10 steps from the kitchen, and while I sometimes do go out to do errands, I live about 100 meters from the centre of my town, so I don’t think it amounts to much. I do go for a walk with my dog at least once a day, but she isn’t a big dog and we don’t go for particularly long walks. Plus I have someone come and do my cleaning! Mr. Macdonald doesn’t however mention whether exceeding on the other points makes up for failing on this one….

Anyway this was in the back of my mind during August while I was participating in a fun challenge with some friends on www.endomondo.com, which allows you to track all your physical activities (both “sport” and daily exercise including transport by bike and walking), share it with friends and have little competitions. This time our challenge was to see who could burn the most calories during the month (after our various vacation overindulgences!) and all forms of exercise were allowed. So it was interesting to track the exercise patterns of my friends based on the above. As a generalisation, I’d say most of them were doing pretty well on the first three, but apart from me don’t think anyone was doing regular weight training. All of them were doing better than me on the daily low intensity stuff, though – most of them use bikes for normal transport and commuting.  

However overall my friend, Ole, took an early lead and finally won the challenge, but I was breathing down his neck for the whole month! The interesting thing about this is that Ole almost entirely burned his 16,967 calories cycling around the city, with very little high intensity training included. I on the other hand burned my 15,637 calories almost exclusively “training” whether running, hammering it on my bike, or in the gym, without much of the day to day exercise as I mention above.  Of course Ole has a good reason to need to burn the calories because he is married to my good friend, the fabulous cook, photographer and blogger FoodyTwoShoes! But regardless of that Ole and Foody made an inspirational lifestyle choice to dump the car and cycle everywhere which Ole has written about here.

According to Mr. Macdonald however, neither Ole nor I are doing an optimal job on the exercise front, even though most people probably think we both tend to the obsessive! I’m not sure that I buy it though. Maybe he’s right in terms of statistics and research but for me the important thing is to have a balanced and happy lifestyle with exercise as a natural part of it and not as an extra duty, obligation or burden, and I’d say Ole and I – and the rest of my endomondo friends for that matter – are really good examples of that – this post is dedicated to you!

August got off to a slow start, running-wise at least, thanks to the Achilles injury I picked up at the end of July.  For the first couple of weeks I was restricted to running max 20 mins every other day, but it did the trick because I got over the injury without further problems. We have been erring on the side of caution with my training, though, to do the best we can to make sure I make it to the start line uninjured.  (By the way, this is not the royal “we” but me and my trainer, Coach Kobberø!). Overall for August the statistics look like this:

Month #km Average pace min/km Comments
April 2010 132 5:07 Typical month pre-cancer treatment
October 2010 88 5:54 Last chemo on 18 Oct.
November 2010 100 5:46 First radiotherapy 15 Nov.
December 2010 49 6:08 Last radiotherapy 8 Dec.
January 2011 100 5:53  
February 2011 103 5:44  
March 2011 47 5:43 Injured!
April 2011 113 5:27  
May 2011 98 5:32  
June 2011 147 5:17 🙂
July 2011 172 5:37  
Aug 2011 121 5:35  


The pace for August is a reflection that I’m no longer focused on improving in terms of speed, but working on endurance (e.g. longer runs) and practicing running at the slower pace I will run during the marathon itself.

The fundraising is going well too and we have now raised 4,050 kr. Thanks a million to those of you who have already contributed! If you haven’t and would like to, you can do so here: http://www.betternow.org/en/project/projectskirstenejlskov (That link takes you to a version where the instructions are in English).