Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Pancho is 6 months and I'm finally published!

Work is going fine. My boss has given me some lab activities to keep me interested in my work, so I'm testing antibodies. The positive control turned out as expected, but it is such a pretty staining that I have to share the picture. This is an embryo of a starlet sea anemone (Nematostella sp.) approximately 30 hours old. The green is actin (a protein in cell walls), the blue is nuclei, and the red/pink is clusters of DNA. There are some pretty examples of cell division in this embryo!

Also, as of a couple weeks ago I'm officially a published scientist! ....well, the paper has been accepted for publication, so it will likely not be in the journal before next year. The journal is called ICES Journal of Marine Science.

Furthermore, this weekend the mountains got a nice thick layer of snow, so I took Pancho up for his first time in a proper bit  of snow (not counting the icy leftovers that were on Jutenheimen this summer). He's now 6 months old and weighs bout 34 lbs!


In Norway, it is common to give a small gift each day during Advent. Pancho is enjoying this Advent with a new toy. He gets really excited...

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Marius turned 30!

[Happy birthday boy at a cool restaurant in town that had a big selection of beer]
Marius turned 30 on Friday (the 30th). In August I sent out invitations for the surprise. He only knew that his sister and our friend Knut would be joining us for dinner. But from 5:30pm, more friends started to show up, even Martin who came from Oslo. I was glad he was surprised and I was able to keep the secret so long!

Saturday morning we got up and took Pancho for a hike with Katrine in the rain, hail and wind. The hot cocoa pitstop made it way better. I had planned for us to carve pumpkins as well on Saturday, but had no luck after going to five grocery stores. We settled with watching Young Frankenstein and playing a game instead. We had candy in case of trick or treaters, but none showed (probably because we live in an apartment block). Without trick-or-treaters or pumpkins, I had to try to get a little more Halloween feeling. I found some inspiration online to have Pancho be a beanie baby.

Marius had a great birthday weekend...probably took a little edge off of turning 30

[Hot cocoa break from the rain and hail]

[Beautiful weather we're having!]

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Lots of hiking with Pancho

Since the marathon I haven't gotten out for a run longer than 4 miles, but I have gone for lots of hikes on the ridge behind our place with Pancho. We have had relatively little rain this fall, so it will be weird to have a typical rainy week.



The morning after the super/blood/eclipse moon, Lydia wandered out of the house and has not been seen since. She has been a part of our family since 1995 and things will feel so different without her. I hope that she found peace wherever she wandered off to for her last rest (if that is what she did). I will miss her dearly, and wish it wasn't the way she decided to leave us after being with us for 20 years. We love you, Lydy pity

Monday, September 21, 2015

Oslo Marathon Race Report

Long story short, I missed my PR by 42 seconds. Darn!!

But now I'll go back to the beginning. I had some great training weeks logging over 40 miles a week before we brought home Pancho. The last six weeks of training were average, but not stellar; at least not quite up to a standard for a PR as with my half-marathon training. And I think the problem was mainly that and that I didn't have as big of a breakfast as usual because I worried about feeling sick during the race. In addition, I read last night that poor core strength leads to poor posture later in the race thus setting off a chain of events that lead to muscle cramps in the legs.

Friday before the race I worked a half day, and Marius and I loaded up the car and headed east to Oslo - an 8 hour drive from Bergen over the mountains. We gave Pancho a motion sickness pill, before we left only to realize too late that he should have taken the pill 90 minutes before we left. So he got sick in his cage, and then I had to move to the back seat and sit next to him for him to sleep the rest of the drive. But we finally got in around 8:30 and I was able to eat a little more before bed. 

Next sign of bad luck was my alarm. I set it to go off at 5:30, but I forgot that I didn't turn it on for the weekend. Luckily my internal clock woke me at 6:30! I had a bowl of oatmeal, a banana and a cup of coffee for breakfast before driving down to pick up my start number...but DOH! I forgot my ID needed to collect my start number...but they said it was ok. Phew! 


9:15 and I got myself to the start. Sporting my American flag shorts made it very easy for another American to introduce herself. Liz - from Washington DC who was currently living in Dublin -- running her 14th marathon. She and I stuck together most of the race, but after about 32km (20 miles) I lost the 4 hr balloon and she was able to soldier on.


The fist lap went well - as does every half-marathon. I felt that I was doing well to maintain a pace with the 4hr pacers without pain in my knees....but of course the troublesome left knee began to ache. I then tried to fend off the leg cramps as long as I could, but could only hold off til the 32nd km. The last 10 kms were a slow shuffle with one or two pauses to stretch. It's almost like the stretching makes it worse. I cramped up first in my groin area before it also shot down my right quad. 

I shuffled through the finish and was slightly disappointed, but also glad to be done and that I didn't go way over my previous time. I had gone in thinking that I could easily get a sub-4 hr PR, only to find out that I was only 42 seconds slower this year than the last. The Engebrethsens brought Pancho down with them to cheer me on and greet me at the finish, and at 29km Rigmor held Pancho up for me to give him a hug and a kiss for some inspiration --- Tron joked that that is probably where I lost the 42 seconds...He's probably right. 

Running towards my pup for a mid-race motivation cuddle 
He didn't recognize me at first but was then really unhappy that I ran away from him

All in all, I think the Oslo Marathon organizers did a great job. We got so much great stuff at the end of the race in a goodie bag: chocoalte bar, banana, ice coffee, norwegian style bread rolls, norwegian sausage slices, mini cinnamon rolls, and a protein bar. Everything unhealthy, but well deserved!

I told Marius and his parents that I think that will be my last marathon for a while...but as per usual, I'm thinking about Berlin for next year, and think that maybe my course record for Oslo is a consistent 4:09 ...maybe a less hilly race will give me my desired sub-4. But first, I'll try my hand at trail running in the mountains of Bergen with Pancho! Next race on the schedule is the Oslo Eco Trail 18km trail run in May 2016!! And Marius hinted there might be a half marathon next spring before Easter.

Coach Marius comes to check on the runner, while sponsors (Hansen-Engebrethsen) watch in anticipation

Busy day downtown for the little pup

Saturday, September 12, 2015

48 hours in Budapest

Last weekend (the first weekend of September), Marius and I were invited to join REN (Marius' old employer) on their annual trip. Previous trips that we were both included in were St. Petersburg, Paris, and Rome. This year was Budapest, and it happened about a week after the refugees and migrants made their way into Hungary. It was definitely adding a different perspective to the trip while we stayed in a 5-star hotel and ate a 5-course dinner.

Pancho spent the weekend with one of my colleagues who also has a dog. It isn't too hard to find puppy-sitters right now since I work with animal lovers. And who doesn't love puppies?

So Marius and I got in on Friday night and took a cab to the hotel with another couple on the trip. The European Cup soccer qualifier was that night, so our driver tried to go around the soccer hooligans and the possible chaos at the train station, but it was pretty quiet. We ended up driving by the train station a couple of times, but it wasn't as wild by then as the media was portraying it. By then, many of the people had made it out of Hungary, but there were still two Nazis standing outside with a flag in protest. Very strange to witness in person. The city still felt very safe.

Saturday morning Marius and I enjoyed the breakfast - I was in breakfast heaven with the amount of choices and fresh made french toast! and right after eating we headed out on a 6 mile run. The run took us through the city center and to the Danube river which has an island in the middle (Margit Island) that had a running track around it. One of the best morning runs ever!

Side note: Budapest is divided in two parts by the Danube. The western part is called Buda, and the eastern part is Pest. Thus, together they are Budapest. We were mainly on the Pest side.

The rest of Marius' former colleagues joined us on Saturday and we began the afternoon with a boat cruise and lunch on the Danube followed by a short bus tour through the city. I would really like to visit Budapest again because the people there were so friendly and we didn't get to go inside any of the buildings, but they were beautiful from the outside.

On Sunday we did a day trip to a small town called Szentendre. Today it is more of a tourist attraction than a residential area, and it is not a typical Hungarian town due to the number of artists in the past who settled there. A cute town none the less. While we were there we had wine tasting in a 200 year old cellar. It was a nice little finish to my short weekend in Budapest. Marius and I will have to go back again.

Now we are enjoying a quiet weekend at home. I have one week until the Oslo Marathon and I'm not feeling prepared at all! We'll drive over to Oslo on Friday with Pancho, and hope that he doesn't get car sick. Since he doesn't sleep as hard as when he was younger, every trip in the car makes him sick. I hope he grows out of it soon! Pancho and I take three walks a day and he is so well behaved for his age - so we have been told. So we won't sign up for a puppy obedience course, but will look into the obedience course for older dogs. We meet lots of other dogs and he is so friendly with everyone and is just a great companion. Now he is alone the whole work day, but he manages just fine. The weather is beautiful today, so I'm looking forward to a walk along ridge behind our place today.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Summer 2015

I've been bad at updating this, but with a new puppy, work and training for my second marathon I have not had so much time with the computer. 

In mid-July Marius and I brought home Pancho and we drove over to Bergen with him. A week and a half later, Mom and Dad flew to Bergen and we all drove up to Gjelvågan to the Engebrethsen's summer cabin in the north. We used 16 hours the first day in the car and 3 the next day so that we could make it up in time to go to Marius' cousin's wedding. We had a great, relaxing time up north with both sets of parents, Katrine, and other family visits. We're already excited for next summer!

Here are just a few pictures from Marius' nice camera.

We drove through Jotenheim National Park to get the most scenic quick route north to the summer house. Here it was in the low 40s and windy. We even saw people skiing!!! On the way back south we drove through snow flurries...it was July 31st.

Exploring snow for the first time when we
drove through Jotenheimen National Park

Playing while we wait for the ferry.
When we drove north to the cabin we had one ferry connection. There weren't many people on the ferry so we were allowed to bring Pancho inside and play cards. Not the same story on the way back south. Then we had to stand outside in the wind and rain. It wasn't so bad, but we did look pretty miserable.

Campfire on an island
Tron and Rigmor took us to a nearby island where we grilled hotdogs and hung out. We were a limited on time by the approaching storm. 

Easy to fall asleep on the boat
We planned a couple of nice "toppturer" (summit trips) with Mom and Dad. The first one was called Storgjedden, and the second was Teppfjellet.

Adding our names to the trail register.
On the way up to Teppfjellet - beautiful views!
Kayaking with Mom
Beautiful last night at Gjelvågan with this sunset at midnight
I love it up here. See you next year, Gjelvågan!
Gorgeous Jotenheim National Park
When we got back to Bergen, we took Mom and Dad on a couple of hikes. For his birthday, we chose a hike that included bunkers from WWII. Many of them were full of berry patches, so we had to stop and pick plenty of berries to put on ice cream. It was a really pleasant way to spend Dad's birthday.

The only cannon still present in Bergen. Built in 1914.

The result of our berry harvest - fresh wild strawberries and blueberries

Monday, July 27, 2015

Introducing Pancho the Spanish Waterdog

On Friday July 17th, Marius and I picked up our little waterdog. He wasn't quite 8 weeks old, but already so good at sleeping through the night. We love him! He has very few accidents in the house and is already used to driving in the car. I have already trained him to sit and fetch. Today he is 9 weeks old!

We are up in Nordland (north of the Arctic circle) with Mom, Dad, Tron and Rigmor. Pancho is learning how to be a waterdog, but the water is a bit cold up here. He'll get used to it soon. We just got back from an easy hike, which really wore him out. Hopefully I have some more patience to sit and write a bit more about the trip. I never got around to Madrid, sorry about that!

Act for Arctic