Oh dear, it’s been so long since I’ve written a blog post that I’ve forgotten how. It’s not like riding a bike, apparently. Which, by the way, meet Bernd das Bike, the latest addition to our growing collection. There should be an entire post about him and how I came to purchase him. Suffice it to say, the owner of my local bike shop is the worst salesman ever, I was utterly convinced that this bike was too big, and it took about a week longer than it should have. But it turns out that Bernd is ridiculously stable while I am hanging onto the aerobars for dear life and he’s remarkably fast for a somewhat heavy aluminum-framed tri bike. He’s entirely custom made (probably for someone a tiny bit bigger than me) has a very nice Ultegra group and really nice aerobars. He and I will be spending a lot more time together in the next eight weeks.
Also, I failed to post my Shamrock Half Marathon race report, which is a damn shame, because that race was really fun, PR’s all around, I ran the last 3 km at about my 5k race pace, passed people left and right and finally broke my 1/2 marathon curse*, the Wife ran a 1:58 (smashing her previous half marathon PR by 6 minutes!) and we got the best finisher swag ever – Fleece finisher blankets! They were completely necessary as it was close to freezing, windy, and rainy when we finished. Then we had 10 days of vacation in the states and I forgot to write up any sort of race report. Did I mention the PR smash? I did? Good.
* My first half marathon was in 2009 in Virginia Beach at the Shamrock and I ran it in 1:55:56 and until this year’s Shamrock, I hadn’t managed to get close to that. But now I have a new self-generated carrot to chase! 1:51:44 a four minute PR and I ran a nicely negatively split race.
Note that the following paragraphs were actually written on race day and are therefore written in the present tense even though I didn’t manage to post it until three weeks later. Wow. Three weeks. Time, please stop moving so fast, I can’t keep up.
*Begin day of race report here*
OK so now that’s out of the way, today’s post is really about today’s race. Today’s race was a local point-to-point 10K from another town to ours. It started in the hills and ended by the river, which means one important thing: NET DOWNHILL run! Another important thing about this one: it ended only a few blocks from our apartment so we could very quickly and easily run home at the end if need be (cue dramatic low strings of foreshadowing now). A race at ten in the morning on a Thursday would be weird, except that today was a public holiday. It was Ascension or as the Germans call it Christihimmelfahrt which translates literally to Christ driving up to heaven. Since this was a one-way race that ended at home, we had to take the train to get there, but it was only a ten minute ride or so and there was a good number of other runners on it.
Today’s race really started yesterday. Actually, even earlier, so let’s bring it on back to last Sunday. On the Ironman plan, last week was supposed to be a tune-up race, but sadly I couldn’t find any other than a mountain bike duathlon and since none of our seven bikes is currently a mountain bike, that was right out. I then staged my own one person Olympic triathlon complete with two separate transition zones (the first by the local pool and the second in the hallway of our apartment), an out-and-back bike course with 1500 feet of climbing, a 10K loop, and a spectator to cheer me on (the ever wonderful Wife). The swim was unfortunately cancelled due to some high school competition or something. I go into the door to that pool two to three times a week and somehow the posted flyer announcing the weekend closure never registered at all. The bike was a bit slow – average 17.8 mph (but the last two training rides on the same route were 15 and 15.8 mph, respectively, so clearly I was moving) and the run I did faster than the runs in the last two official Olympic triathlons I competed in. So it was a good hard effort. Then Monday was rest day except that it wasn’t really as it involved a 12 hour fast (not even water) and then a three hour doctor’s appointment where it was determined unequivocally and with much borborygmous that I am lactose intolerant (I’ve had serious bowel problems for almost 20 years and it took until now for someone to check for that? WTF medical profession, WTF?), Tuesday was 3300 meters of swimming, a short bike, and three hours of aikido. Wednesday. Yesterday. Yeah, yesterday was the kicker. An 11.5 mile long run in the morning followed by 3 hours of errands by bicycle (only about an hour and forty minutes or so of actual riding) and a 2300 meter swim.
So, on top of that, I got to the start line with the intent to run the race as a hard tempo effort. By all rights, I should have been cooked. And for the first kilometer that’s how I felt. Then about halfway up the first hill, everything suddenly woke up and I kissed the Wife goodbye and took off. By take off, I mean that my pace increased by almost a minute per mile. Despite that, the beer wagon passed me somewhere around kilometer 3. I didn’t let it get me too down, though as the beer wagon guys are a bunch of fit and fast triathletes and did I mention that we were all heading downhill at this point?
I had a throwaway water bottle with me at the start that I intended to ditch before the running began, but at the last minute I decided to hang on to it as I had absolutely no idea if or how many water stops there were and the sun was actually out for once. Both the Wife and I misremembered there being no water stops and on Sunday’s fake duathlon I didn’t bring any water with me for the 10k run portion and I was so dehydrated that I was daydreaming about the Wife riding up and bringing me water from km 7 to the end. So I held onto my water bottle of safety and I was so happy to be able to take a sip whenever I wanted that I might do this at more races from now on.
Anyway, so I was running possibly faster than I should have been, but I felt good, so I kept going with that and it worked pretty well. Just before we ran through the train station at the chemical plant around km 8, I passed the beer truck going downhill and knew my victory was assured. The chemical plant is always fun to run through as it’s closed to visitors most of the time. I kept checking the Garmin to see if I was somehow counting things wrong, but I wasn’t. I really was going an entire 10k at about an 8:10 minute pace, with around a 7:45 pace for the middle mile where the most downhill was. And my legs felt ok throughout.
The race ends at the old castle wall (like a thousand years old) and you go under this arched gate then up a steep little cobblestone hill for the last 0.2 mi. As I sprinted towards the finish, there was a guy wearing the same race shirt as I was also sprinting up the little hill and for some idiotic reason it was important for me to beat him up the hill. So I did. Then promptly puked. But still. Another PR! 51:07! Go me. Ironman training certainly is special if it’s giving me the power to do stuff like this.
The Wife came dashing up only a few minutes later for a PR of her own (by about 20 seconds) despite her being sick for about half this training cycle, but then she also promptly puked. At this point, I’m blaming last night’s sushi. But really, when they talk about blood, sweat, and tears they never mention the vomit. Why is that? So we walked home, got showered and changed and then headed back to the big party where it started to rain, the lines for the sausages were really long and they didn’t do the awards ceremony until after we finally gave up and left to go home and write a race report. They only go 3 deep and I was 6 in my age group so we hopefully didn’t miss much.
*End Day of reporting here*
I have so many things that I keep thinking I should blog about and then never do. Blogging regularly is hard and I have tons of respect for those that manage it along with training and jobs and such. But right now I’m five and a half weeks out from Ironman so I’ll try to be more mindful and keep track of what’s going on with training and life here. It’s exciting and scary and I don’t feel ready. I wonder if anyone ever feels ready for their first Ironman? Also, how on earth does anyone do this without a supportive spouse to cook food, pick up the pieces, and generally make life run smoothly when all I manage to think about or do is swim-bike-run?