And...how to begin again? I was not able to complete my 'easy as 1, 2, 3' sequence of posts I aimed to...but here is an update. Thanks for your patience. In brief detail, summer has proceeded as follows:
1st half (June - mid July)
High Intensity Training (HIT) study during the entire month of June and first couple weeks of July for some follow-up testing (we completed an incredible study, demanding on all levels, with 16 participants from start to end). Impressive and a really fun and great study to be part of the leading role. During this month, actually right at the start of the study (day before pre muscle biopsies), I received an email stating I was offered an assistant to the university with doctorate position in Lausanne, Switzerland. What a way to bring some added stress to the already pumping full capacity of my body prior to the study! I had been dreaming of these moments for many many months, however, and that is how I was able to cope and make my decision. I am proud of myself for being able to manage this while conducting one of the many 'huge' studies in my career thusfar. So, one week after the offer, I accepted the position! It was a difficult decision to make as it would mean many new challenges ahead including research growth in the topic area, new country, new language, new environment, etc. It is something you want to think out and discuss with many people just to hear your own thoughts and see if you can pick up a couple words or phrases from others that bring you to your decision. Wow, how amazing it is to be at the point in life to make this kind of choice and really take big step (s). I have a really good idea of how I have made it this far, but it is pretty incredible and humbling to FEEL the progress I have made and understand my development along the way. I am (probably most of us are) trying to do big things, and keep dreaming big things! It is soooooooo scary, overwhelming, rewarding, amazing, inspirational, and worth it :) Keep going and keep dreaming! Life is a process and I will try to absorb all of my time in Sweden and experiences that have exceeded more than words can describe of my expectations and my accomplishments along the way. Incredible, fun, and crazy times!
Ultra Trail - Lavaredo (June 27, 2014)
Believe it or not (believe it!), I was able to sneak a trip to Italy during the final period of the study (THANK YOU endlessly to my colleagues to allow this, as I had planned it prior to the study's development!). I competed in the Ultra Trail Lavaredo in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italia :) The race was really magical, with absolutely breath-taking views where you feel almost out of your body that you are there and able to experience and exist in that moment with 'sweet spot' timing. I was very happy we were able to complete the full original course this year (118-119km), as last year the race was re-routed and shortened due to a snowfall the night before. The race was another 'training' race, but was one I was ready to give it everything I had on the day, this will always be the case for me...adrenaline and race days are my friends. So much energy and passion drive us to make sacrifices to allow ourselves the joy of racing and the solitude coming from doing something we have 'no idea' if we can complete. It is in that sense of desire to achieve something crazy that you feel alive, in that seemingly insane dream that becomes reality. Once the race starts, everything becomes silent in your body (only a light easy conversation in your mind with few words to coax you along and tell you how strong you are) this is amongst the chaos all around you at these big events with thousands of runners and supporters. This moment during a race is really amazing to me, you feel like you are about to do something incredible, and everyone knows it! It is just pitter patter of the running shoes (on pavement at that point), the russle of running packs and sloshing water bottles, the calm to frequent to steady rhythm of breath of you and those around. And the feeling in the body is, 'Let me go, let me free, let me do this, I am ready...', ahhhhhhh :) I love this area of Italy and this year has shown me more depth to this statement, it is a race I hope to come back to again and again. As far as the race outline report (start to finish): great start, feeling ok, wanted to take it easy on an initial section with a steep descent as I was coming into the race with a very weak ankle (from consecutive bad sprains leading up to the race) which happens to be a descent I tweaked that ankle on last year...made it safely down and managed a decent position, though I had really no idea where that was in the race field. Clipping along through some nice sections, though muddy, as it rained several days before the race, and dark (started at 11pm), climbing, eating, digesting, drinking, happy, healthy, up to the 'top' and in the iconic Tre Cime area of the Dolomites (absolutely WOW, YES!). Jumping with energy and enjoying the new morning with new energy and descending a long gradual valley with then a smooth gravel road with slight elevation gain to a steady climb before I started to have my first wavering section of the race (would be about 80-85km in...which was good to have a flow for a while, I am happy to build from that now). We were moving in the heat of the day through a valley, climbing up to about 95ish k and wow, did I struggle, my energy got off and my calories were not with me...natural slow down. Through the aid station in a flash and found some motivation to get moving :) YAY! On the way up and climbing, now steep and starting to be a bit exposed and tricky, but solid, good feelings, focused on my nutrition and gaining energy (but expending more). To the top with some more absolutely amazing views, found a friend to chat with on the descent of the back side and started some off balance climbing and picking our way through some rocks and jagged sections (I needed a little more 'keep it together Sarah!'). This was now coming into the section of the race where I really did not know/did not study enough of how the course proceeded. I knew it was some crazy jagged ups and downs on the elevation profile and had an idea of the km's to the finish, but I had not fully understood and let my mind know I would need to WORK during this part and keep going and pushing. So, naturally the body followed the mind there and I struggled (was just off, very off), so I got one foot infront of the other, lost a lot of time, and basically lolly-gagged my way through the last technical sections and down a steep and holy moly muddy cow path towards the finish. The views were still magical and I tried to absorb them, it was just a bit much for my mind, but I felt them :) With 4km to go (according to a supporter), I realized I should try for a time (under 20hrs) but I had no idea what time it was, literally (as my watch battery had died and I just briefly pulled out my phone to check)...ok, GO mode was back...pushed with everything I had! and crossed with plenty of time to spare...19:47 (good enough for 13th woman). Happy, and pleased provided my stress levels and work environment prior to the race, but left hungry and very much craving more from myself with two large sections where I lost time. Fun to feel the passion in that and fun to know I can do more! This was another great effort in my final race to prepare for the UTMB, 168km in Chamonix, France at the end of August. I will write another post in the coming days to summarize :)
The day following the race, i.e. Sunday, I traveled back to Sweden...and actually slept in the center/my work building in order to wake at 4something to prepare for the post muscle biopsies and some more stressful days of analyzing muscle samples. Fun stories, huh?! or rather, fun to say how it happened/crazy to say how it happened, but not very 'fun' to do in real life. Focus was there, but it was on the mountain ridgeline.
End July - mid August
Began piloting for a study and completed a study looking at heating and cooling recovery protocols. It was interesting and exciting to learn some new methods in the lab, as I have come to know many. We had long days, but a relatively easy protocol for us while testing...but not while including ourselves in the study as participants. Enjoyable nonetheless and got some good sweaty training in. In other news, it was a time for preparations for 1) moving to Lausanne, Switzerland; 2) THE U.T.M.B. a race I have been dreaming and preping for for the last 2 years; and 3) leaving an incredible position in Sweden for a new challenging position in Switzerland. Many hours training, many hours wrapping my mind around that, and several challenges built in, as the study finished 3 days prior to my flight out. So, a lot of data and files to store/save/analyze and a lot of things to organize and pack up/arrange for my move.
This was a shot at some updates...and I still have some picture troubles...so, pretend it's the old days and enjoy my heart words. More soon, I hope, as all sorts of things are changing and challenging me, so there is much more to know in an update :) For those curious souls, I am now in Lausanne and trying not to feel so foreign (very very hard). I have many stories to report and a body, character, and heart to mend after the race. As well as some incredible experiences thereafter. So...hang on, the speed just increased! (imagine tears streaming from your eyes wide open, everything open - like a) a dog hanging outside the car window, or b) face while on a speed boat) A lot of JOY either way :)