Monthly Archives: June 2013

Week 26: workouts

Week 26 officially marks the halfway point of 2013.  It’s hard to believe how quickly the time passes.  New Years resolutions are long gone and have made way for promises of “someday” or “tomorrow”.  Marking the weeks with these “week in review” posts has been my way of keeping myself honest and aware of the fact that time is passing whether I choose to act or not.  It’s helped me stick to my goals and reflect on the choices I make every week regarding my health.  This week wasn’t the most productive, but considering the current situation (in Denmark with a long commute and no pool, bike, or gym) I’m still happy with the way things turned out.

On Monday morning I arrived to the office at 8:30am for the start of the second conference of my Denmark trip.  Since I had a long day of presentations to look forward to I took the day off from running.  Running in the morning can leave me a little drained during the afternoon, and listening to hours of technical presentations doesn’t help that situation.  Directly following the conference was a dinner party hosted by my advisor, so I spent the evening chatting about work and eating delicious food.  By the end of that night I realized I needed to add some slides to my presentation – it needed more background to connect with the very interdisciplinary audience.  Rather than stay up late, I decided to fix my slides in the morning after my run.

I woke at 5:20am on Tuesday to run 5k before finishing up my presentation.  This is one situation where this blog helped keep me honest – 5:20am was early considering the party the night before.  Within ten minutes of my alarm sounding, I was on the road.  I had planned to change my route, but with the early start I stuck with the familiar one.  I actually felt pretty great and ran the 5k in 27:37.  I made sure to stretch properly before showering and getting ready.  I worked on my slides during breakfast and finished a half hour before I presented at 9:15am.  Especially considering the last-minute changes, I was really happy with the way it turned out.  The rest of the day was spent at the conference and I don’t remember feeling tired at all, though adrenaline from the presentation and following discussions definitely helped keep me alert.

Wednesday was a different story.  The conference was over so I was back in the office for the usual day-to-day work, but I had a very hard time focusing.  At the time I figured it was due to the relative lack of activity (compared to the conference), but in retrospect I know it was that I was getting sick.  I was feeling dehydrated enough to have mild discomfort in my kidneys, so I forced myself to drink at least 2L of water.  I also had a strange pain on the right side of my throat (my lymph nodes, I think) and my right ear – apparently a sign of an infection.  Sure enough, by the end of the day, I could tell I was getting sick.  I went to bed planning to run a 5k the next morning, but only if I was feeling up for it.

When I woke on Thursday I felt terrible.  I didn’t hesitate to cancel my run (a sign of just how bad I felt), and I spent the day in bed.  I slept as much as I could, and I drank a lot of water.  By the end of the day I was feeling slightly better so, again, I went to sleep planning to run a 5k the next morning if I was feeling up for it.

On Friday morning I was optimistic.  I didn’t feel great, but I hated going so long between runs, so I settled on running only two miles.  I purposefully slept in late, so I didn’t get on the road until 8am.  I wasn’t feeling too bad, but at 1.8 miles I stopped for a traffic light and, out of nowhere, I became very dizzy.  I struggled to maintain my balance until the dizziness passed at which time I decided I was done.  There was no sense forcing it.  I walked the remainder of the way home.  My failed attempt at a run helped me see that I wasn’t done being sick – I spent another day at home in bed, determined to get well once and for all.  I managed to do a bit of work, but for the most part I slept.  I just couldn’t focus.  By the end of the day, though, I was beginning to feel better.

I felt bad about missing work on Thursday and Friday, so I considered working on Saturday.  In the end, though, my friends convinced me to sightsee as originally planned.  I bought a 24 hour travel pass and hopped on a train for Helsingør, the location of Kronborg Castle.  After touring the castle I hopped back on the train to visit the Louisiana Museum in Humlebæk, one of the best modern art museums in the world (so I’m told).  I was on my feet from approximately 10:30am-4:30pm and at the end of the day I was exhausted.  My legs ached.  It felt so good to sit down on the train ride home.  That night I planned out my route for the 13k long run, but I had my doubts considering the state of my legs.

Sunday morning was my long run – 13k / 8 miles.  I set off from home running south along the main road.  At mile two I reached the lakes that have running paths along their edges.  Unfortunately, I had to battle a very strong headwind for the next three miles.  If I hadn’t been so keen on seeing Fredriksberg Garden, I would have turned around early to enjoy some tailwind.  Around mile four I passed within just a few feet of a large swan’s nest and was very happy to find them all asleep.  I know better than to mess with a swan and her babies!


I was very happy to escape the wind when I finally arrived at Fredriksberg Garden.  It was absolutely beautifulThis is what it looked like where I first entered.  Within minutes I found myself lost in the middle of a peaceful forest, surrounded by other runners.  I must say: Copenhagen has some fantastic green spaces.

I spent the next mile running among the trees when I suddenly encountered a steep hill.  The city is very flat so this was a surprise.  At the top of the hill I found a little house and, to my surprise, when I rounded the corner I found elephants.  Yes, that’s right – elephants – in the middle of the park.  Well, in an enclosure in the middle of the park.  There were two babies and three adult elephants in full view less than fifty feet away.


Photo from (I didn’t have a camera with me)

I had no idea that Copenhagen’s zoo was within Fredriksberg Garden.  I stopped for a while to admire the elephants before I proceeded with my run.  Just around the corner I saw a large group of flamingoes and a couple Dalmatian pelicans.  Unfortunately that was all I could see from the path, but I was overjoyed to have seen these exotic animals on my run.  It was simply amazing.

With a mile to go I left the park to find the nearest metro or train station.  I had a vague idea where they were located, so I set off south.  I happened to just miss the Ny Carlsberg breweries (I had no idea they were there), but I did pass by some of their research centers.

Nearing the end of my eight miles, I found myself heading away from the busy part of town.  I briefly considered turning back, but I hadn’t had any luck finding a station so I pressed on.  At the end of my run I found myself on a long road that was very sparsely populated.  Within a minute, though, I saw the 1A bus drive by and I found a stop just around the corner.  I had six minutes to stretch before hopping on the bus that would take me directly home.  (This was very lucky!)  In total the 8 miles took 1:19:31 and I felt great at the end of it.

This week wasn’t what I had expected, but I’m still happy with the way it turned out.  Being sick away from home isn’t fun, but I’m lucky to have a good place to stay and daily contact with friends and family.  I’m a very lucky girl.


Week 25: workouts

This week began with an early start on Monday.  Part of the reason I’m in Copenhagen is to attend two conferences – the first of which occurred Monday through Wednesday of this week.  To be sure I arrived on time (8:30am), awake and attentive, I didn’t make time for a run on Monday morning.  By the end of the day, however, I was itching to move.  I suppose that’s to be expected following eight hours of listening to technical presentations.

On Tuesday I woke up an hour early (6am) to run a 5k before work.  I took the same route as the Friday before, and I really pushed the pace.  It felt good to run fast.  This time the run only took 27:33.  While I was stretching afterwards, two of the neighborhood kids passed by, probably aged three or four.  The little boy was particularly vocal and kept trying to talk to me in Danish.  Nearly everyone here speaks perfect English.  The main exception: children.  I had no option but to ignore him until his mother came by.  He and his sister were pretty adorable, though.

During the conference on Tuesday I had a very hard time staying awake, especially in the afternoon.  I don’t know how much to attribute to the long, tedious presentations and how much to attribute to the morning run.  I just know it was hard to keep my eyes open…

Wednesday morning I went straight to work and endured another day of presentations.  Don’t get me wrong: I really like what I’m working on (wind energy), but it’s still hard to sit passively while speaker after speaker presents very detailed results.  The format isn’t great.  Anyway, I had the special honor of being the last person to present at the conference.  The adrenaline leading up to this event helped me stay awake – though lack of running that morning could have helped, too.

On Thursday morning I set out for the same 5k run before work.  By now I had the timing worked out pretty well – an hour total to dress, run, and stretch.  I ran the same route as before, this time in 27:48.  The route is convenient, but it’s not particularly scenic.  I may change things up for next week.


sat-run-1My next workout was Saturday morning: my long run.  This was by far the highlight of my week.  I wanted to run my usual eight miles, but I also wanted to see some interesting parts of the city.  Out and back wasn’t going to cut it.  The night before, I mapped the route: take the train to a large park north of where I live, run around the park, then run back home.  When I woke up, however, I remembered that my travel pass wasn’t valid so far north, so I opted to run south instead.  I’m glad I did.  I was worried there would be too many people clogging up the streets, but it was relatively clear that morning (at roughly 8-9:30am).  I memorized the route to the bridge and decided I would make it up on the fly from that point onwards.  It didn’t matter where I stopped – it would be easy enough to take a bus or train back so long as I didn’t leave downtown.

sat-run-2By happy circumstance I passed through the Rosenborg gardens shortly after crossing the bridge.  This area immediately became my favorite part of the city – the gardens and wide-open green lawns are gorgeous.  I spent some time there before wandering past the famous Nyhavn.  I even ran through Christianborg Palace which houses all three branches of the Danish government.  Pretty cool, huh?  I kept the pace relatively comfortable and finished the 8.2 miles in 1:20:53 which puts me right on pace with my runs around the harbor in Baltimore.  I cooled down and stretched near Nyhavn before hopping on a train to head home.  It was a great run.

On Sunday I spent some time at the Glyptotek before wandering around to take pictures.  I did a bit of walking, but not so much as last weekend.  My calves were really sore, but in a good way.  It just means they’re getting stronger!

So far the perfect weather, sightseeing, and lack of driving have made Copenhagen a great place to stay fit.  I’m very glad I’ve been able to keep up my running schedule and I really can’t wait until next week’s long run.  Wait… did I really just say that?  You bet I did!

Week 24: workouts

Hello, again!  This week marked the start of my month-long visit to Denmark for work.  Sunday night and Monday morning were spent packing and taking care of last minute details.  Naturally, there wasn’t much time for a morning run, though I could have worked this in if I had tried.  My flight left Baltimore (two hours late) at 3pm and I spent my three-hour layover wandering around JFK looking for a place to sit and transferring between terminals (due to multiple gate changes).  Really, I welcomed the opportunity to stretch my legs before the long plane ride.  The second flight was also delayed for over an hour, but we finally arrived in Copenhagen at 11am local time (5am my time).  I didn’t sleep well on the plane, but I felt relatively functional during the rest of the day (now Tuesday).  With all of the traveling and the lack of quality sleep, I felt that I lost much more than just the six hours of the time change.  Once I arrived to my new home, I spent some time unpacking my bag and making a trip to the local grocery store, just around the corner.  I didn’t eat particularly well during the travel, so I made myself a salad for late lunch.  By six o’clock I had nothing left to do, so I decided to go out for a run.  I donned my running gear and set out to find a path along the nearby beach.  I had no such luck.

run-tueI found myself running down very short streets with limited line-of-sight so I turned back early and ended up running along one of the main streets in the area.  It was lined with shops and there were a number of people who were blocking the sidewalks.  It wasn’t the best route, but I did get to see a bit of the neighborhood.  My asthma was acting up a bit, and I felt pretty dehydrated.  I also felt some acid reflux which was likely due to the salad I finished an hour earlier.  Considering my jet lag and new surroundings, I was happy that I merely finished the run.  Overall, I finished the 5k in 30:52.

Wednesday was my first day at work, and I successfully navigated the walk-train-bus-walk public transportation route to the office.  Everything went very well at work and I spent most of the evening cooking so I would have leftovers for the rest of the week.

On Thursday I wasn’t motivated to wake up early to fit in a run before work, so by Friday I was due for another run.  I woke up at 6am and set out on a route I had identified the night before.  The sunrise was around 4:30am, so there was plenty of light by the time I started.  The weather was perfectly cool (in the upper fifties) and my legs were feeling fresh.  The route was easy to follow without many major intersections.  I even passed a CrossFit near my turn-around!  I felt like I was running at a decent pace, and I managed to finish the 5k in 28:22.  I pushed hard during the run, but I felt great shortly after I cooled down.

The plan for the weekend was to go on a walking tour of Copenhagen on Saturday, then do my usual long run on Sunday morning.  Unfortunately, the plans had to change.  Due to uncontrollable circumstances, we had to (at the last minute) reschedule the tour for Sunday.  I skipped my long run for the week, but over the course of the weekend I walked close to 25k around the city.

Here are two segments of our walking adventure from Saturday (8.3k of the estimated 15k total):

sat-walk-0    sat-walk-1

I wore my watch during the walking tour on Sunday to keep track of the route (3.2k of the estimated 10k):

sun-walkEven though I didn’t run too much this week, I’m happy with what I did accomplish.  I successfully transitioned to my temporary new home, settled in at work, and managed to see a lot of the city during the weekend.  By next week I should be back on track!

Week 23: workouts

Compared to last week, this week was slow.  It all started Monday when I woke up sniffling and sneezing.  I still don’t know if it was just allergies or a mild cold.  In any case, I was feeling groggy.

On Monday I had an 8:15am appointment, so I took the day off to rest.  It worked out well following my long run the day before.

On Tuesday I joined Adam at Lake Montebello for another 5k run.  It was a little warm, but definitely cooler than last week.  I set a good pace at the beginning and slowly upped the pace as a the run progressed.  By the end my heart rate was pushing 190 which is on the high side for me.  The data is shown below.  The total time for this 5k run was 26:39.  I felt pretty good at the end of this run and spent a good amount of time stretching while Adam did his own run.


On Wednesday I went for a 1.5 mile run around Hampden.  The weather was cool and damp, but my asthma was giving me a hard time.  It didn’t make running impossible, but it did make it more uncomfortable.  I was glad to be done after the 1.5 miles.  The total time was 14:20.

On Thursday I took the day off once again to rest my legs.  I would have liked to spend some time in the gym, but it was still closed for maintenance.

Friday was my last day of running this week.  Adam and I traveled over the weekend to his race in Cambridge, MD (read about it here), and afterwards I had to pack for my trip to Denmark.  I did a usual 5k route to the north and finished in 30:14.  I’m writing this in retrospect, so I don’t know exactly how I felt during this run.  (I didn’t make a note at the time.)  The data is a bit sporadic.  I do know I felt slow for most of this week, but I’m not sure if this run in particular was intentionally easy or unfortunately hard.


Such was my last week of workouts before my trip abroad.  I managed to finish some good runs, but didn’t make time for any cross-training.  Something to work on, I suppose!

Week 22: workouts

Hello again!  It’s been a while.  (I’m writing this post a couple weeks late due to (1) general busyness and (2) excessive travel.)

Monday of this week I ran my first-ever race: the Special Operations Memorial Day 5k.  You can read my race report here.  Looking back on it, I have absolutely no idea how I finished in 25:14.  It was a wonderful race and it only left me a little sore for the rest of the day.

Tuesday was Adam’s day at the track and I decided to join him to see what I could handle on my sore legs and to provide moral support for his workout.  The planned workout was 8 x 600m with the usual 3/4 mile warm up with drills, but I only made it through 4 x 600m before my legs forced me to stop.  Overall I was very happy with the effort.  The rest time was 1:30-1:40 between intervals.  Here were my times for the 600m:

  • 2:38  (7:04 min/mile)
  • 2:44  (7:20 min/mile)
  • 2:49  (7:33 min/mile)
  • 2:48  (7:31 min/mile)

On Wednesday I took a little 30 minute walk through our neighborhood past the local shops that I don’t get to see very often.  It’s much different early in the morning compared to late evening when I usually frequent the area.  I got a chance to stretch my legs and appreciate all the quirky little local shops just down the street.

Thursday was another track day, this time for 1000m and 200m intervals.  Even though it was early in the morning, it was incredibly hot and muggy.  I love warm weather, but Baltimore can get hot and the high humidity tends to make my asthma worse.  I always keep my inhaler with my while running and monitor my breathing to make sure it stays under control, so the asthma doesn’t stop me from running – it just makes it harder.  I did my 3/4 mile jog for warm up at 9 min/mile pace which is actually a little faster than I’m used to.  I think my pace has steadily been increasing over the weeks.  After the usual drills, I set out to do 4 x 1000m then 4 x 200m with 2:00-2:07 rest in between.  Here are my times for the 1000m:

  • 4:37  (7:27 min/mile)
  • 4:45  (7:39 min/mile)
  • 5:01  (8:04 min/mile)
  • 5:06  (8:12 min/mile)

I was feeling broken by the end of it, so I only made myself do two of the 200m intervals, in 49 and 53 seconds.  That workout was exhausting, but I don’t remember feeling broken the rest of the day, like I have in the past.  I found it interesting that during my track workouts this week my pace progressively became slower.  I’m more accustomed to picking up the pace as I go along.  My guess is that I’d just been more fatigued than usual going into these workouts.

I wanted to give my legs a rest (of a sort) so I joined Adam at Meadowbrook on Friday.  While he did his swimming intervals, I kept myself busy with the kickboard.  I managed to kick 1500m at a reasonable pace.  I thought about swimming a bit, but the 50m lanes are intimidating to me as a newbie swimmer.  Maybe next time.  Surprisingly, (to me, at least) my ankles were really sore from all the kicking.  I would be very happy to build up more strength in my lower legs, including my ankles, and it seems swimming would be a good way to do just that.

On Saturday I took the day off, and watched Adam’s last-minute 5k race on the Hopkins campus (which you can read about here).

Sunday was the usual long run, but with a new twist!  Adam’s sister, Abbey, joined us down at Boston Street for our run around the harbor.  Since the farthest Abbey’s run in the past was a 5k, we decided that 4 miles would be more than enough (especially considering the high heat and humidity).  We set out from the shop and ran 2 miles along the usual course before turning around.  After 43 minutes (43:15 to be exact) we had made it back to the shop.  Congrats to Abbey on her first long run!!  We took about nine minutes to get Abbey settled and to grab a drink of water before Adam and I set out for a second four-miler.  Rather than taking the same route, we set off running east on Boston Street before turning north.  The worst part about this run was having to choose between shade and (lack of) hills – most of the time I endured the hills to be in the shade.  It was hot.  We finished the run and made it back to the shop in 43:05.  How about that for consistent pacing?  Not too shabby!  In total, we ran the 8 miles in 1:26:20.


Overall, this was a busy week with lots of running.  I won’t have access to the gym again until week 29, so I really need to figure out a good way to cross-train.  Walking and swim-kicking are a start, but I would likely benefit from some yoga and real swimming.  We’ll see if I can work those in (once I get back home from my travels abroad!).