Category Archives: races

Hello World – I’m back with a 2015 intro post

Blogging 101 – Only a week into the challenge and I am a week behind.

Happy New Year Internet, Blogosphere and the three people who may still be reading this blog!

This poor blog has sat neglected lo these many months as things have gotten in the way of my writing, and my passion for the original purpose of this blog has waned somewhat (if you’re wondering, this was originally my triathlon blog). This has been exacerbated by the fact that I can’t seem to finish anything these days. I get 90% there and never manage the last 10% to actually post the post or finish the paper or fold the laundry.

I have about 1200 words of the originally intended year in review/year in preview post for this blog and it’s not done yet, so I’m putting it in the folder of things I haven’t finished and starting over.

Instead I will limit this post to the useful number 500 (of which I have already used up 136).

This year I have a total of two resolutions and one of them is to write something every day. I haven’t set limits on what or how much, just that it will be something written in more than 140 characters. Yesterday, I wrote a long email to an old friend from home. Last Monday (when I should have written this post) I wrote the cover letter for a job application for a very nice job in my field that would unfortunately involve a very big move so it’s likely not to happen even if I miraculously got an interview. I’ve been writing up summaries of my aikido classes as well; not particularly exciting to the reading public (and probably incomprehensible as well as it is written in an odd pidgin of English, Japanese, German, and my own personal shorthand) but it does contain some interesting musings on how we need to strive to be our own planet and create a miniature cosmos in the course of our practice.

So, welcome new readers if there are any! Here you can expect me to continue to wax philosophic about running (I’m already signed up for a half marathon, a marathon relay, and a full marathon – all in different countries – this spring) and swimming (which I still love despite not really wanting to do any official triathlons this year) and biking (which lately takes the form of biking holidays and commutes and nice Sunday rides rather than races, which has Bernd my tri bike somewhat concerned) and food (which I will be attempting popovers for the first time today so wish me luck). Martial arts philosophy will be added as well as that is what I spend the majority of my free time doing these days (something like 12 hours a week for official classes). The cats will, of course, feature prominently as always.

Feel free to ask me anything about any of the above and I’ll give you an answer. The answer may even be truthful, although it will always be honest.

A cat wearing a Santa Claus coat

Captain Dukie in his other disguise as Santa Claws. He wore this for our New Year’s Eve party for at least half an hour and impressed many guests with his sartorial splendor.

Lauf für Mehr Zeit: Race Report. PR and a terrible race all in one.

Oh look, A Race Report. The day after the actual race. For once. Dear blog readers (all 3 of you) I promise to be a bit more active here in the future and actually write up some of the races that I run and other interesting things that come my way. I have so much I want to write here that I either haven’t finished or haven’t yet started. Bur first, a report on yesterday’s 10k charity run.

Little me at the finish, in my dorky, oversize team shirt managing to give the rest of the team a smile, despite pretty much wanting to puke.

Little me at the finish, in my dorky, oversize team shirt managing to give the rest of the team a smile, despite pretty much wanting to puke.

First, a bit of set-up: I’m supposed to be deep in the heart of training for the next marathon on October 26, where I’d hoped to qualify for Boston. In the last three weeks I’ve missed one long run and about 50 miles worth of other runs, putting me hopelessly in the hole and making me readjust my BQ race to next spring. I’ve been working full time, doing aikido a minimum of three days a week and still trying to get 50 miles a week of running in. Something had to give and it was the running. After we got back from our excellent Netherlands-by-Bike (yet another post I haven’t managed to make – at this point, I have a travel back-log rather than travelogues), I could feel that I’d done some minor damage to my right knee, likely the result of me not being careful enough when I switched seats out on my touring bike. My knees are important to me, so I cancelled all the longer runs until the legs felt better and this was probably the right decision even though it hurt (not the knees, the pride) to do so. I suppose a step-down from marathon training with a bit of enforced rest is probably an OK 10 km training plan.

And a bit of background: This run is the Lauf für Mehr Zeit (Run for more time) that the local AIDS charity puts on every year. It started in 1995 as a 5 km fun run whose main purpose was to raise awareness and money. It didn’t even have timing chips or a 10 km option until 2012, and in 2012 and 2013, the 10 km course was short by about 2/3 of a km, so my 2013 time of 47:39 is utterly meaningless in the annals of my actual abilities and 10 km PR. My actual 10 km PR of 51:07 is from 2013’s Höchster Kreisstadt Lauf (which is a net downhill course run in early May). I had high hopes that this year’s course would be actually 10 kilometers instead of that random distance they seem to like so much.

Race day prep: The 5km race starts at 4 pm and the 10 km an hour after at 5 pm. I was racing as part of the team for the company that the Wife works for and where I’ve also been working as temp help all summer. That meant that I had some function as holder of things, giver-outer of numbers, and person-who-stays-at-the-meeting-point-for-all-the-late-comer-10-km-runners. So I got some very nice time stretching out in the sun before the race, but absolutely no warm-up outside of biking downtown on the city bike to get to the race. I did make us some relatively healthy oatmeal for breakfast, so we had that going for us. I didn’t even get to watch our 5 km racers (including the Wife who was 10th in a very big age group and in the top 10% of all the women running the 5 km. Only one person running on our work team was faster than she was in the 5km!) finish. I missed watching our 5 km walkers finish as they took their sweet time and only crossed the finish minutes before the 10k started. I also failed to see or document in pictures the inflatable starting arch deflate and flutter down to land directly on the Wife and everyone in her vicinity as the 5k started.

Race: I ducked into the one big giant corral for the 10k. There were 864 starters this year and as usual, about half of the people way up at the front had absolutely no idea what they were doing there. I thought I was pretty near the front, but still had to do the start-line shuffle well past where I wanted to. I also apparently started my GPS too early. The actual timing mat was about 10 meters past the starting arch where I hit start on the GPS. Then after I got out of the traffic jam, I went out much too ridiculously fast for the first 2 km or so. It’s a bad sign when at km 3 you already want the race to be over. It was really hot, the sun was beating down for the first time in what felt like weeks, my team shirt was both too big, (yes, it’s a small. No, I didn’t realize until the day of how ridiculous it would look on me.) and I really wasn’t trained or quite fit enough to attempt to break 50 minutes. Which is what I got into my head to do yesterday. All I had to do was run 5 minute kilometers. Ten of them. In a row. That doesn’t sound too bad. Does it?

Here’s the breakdown from my possibly not-so-trusty FR 305:

Lap Time Dist (mi) Pace
1 05:15.8 0.62 8:28
2 04:56.5 0.62 7:57
3 04:50.6 0.62 7:48
4 04:59.4 0.62 8:02
5 05:11.2 0.62 8:21
6 05:11.0 0.62 8:20
7 05:04.0 0.62 8:09
8 04:54.4 0.62 7:54
9 05:09.7 0.62 8:18
10 04:40.4 0.58 8:05

You can see here that right in the middle of things I had kind of a disaster after blowing myself up going out way too fast. Then after repeating every mantra I could think of about pain, pain-caves, not giving up, and the fact that I’ve done much harder things, I managed to pull it together slightly until I started feeling too sorry for myself and discovered that my legs didn’t really want to stay with the whole running-as-fast-as-you-can program right near the end. I haven’t raced in this much sustained pain in a long time. Well, that’s a complete lie. I think the last 10k of the marathon in May felt exactly like this, I just put it out of my mind. Here’s the problem. I seem to be at the place where in order to get faster, I have to hurt a lot more. Every race now involves a decision point to be faster and feel it or be content and slow. The problem with this race is that due to my inability to correctly pace a 10k, that decision felt like it came anew every 20 meters or so for about 7 kilometers.

My GPS or the Race Organizers: You’ve probably noted that the last lap appears to be about 4/100 of a mile too short. That’s about 65 meters, or at the pace of the last half km where I did miraculously have a bit of a finishing kick, about 23 seconds. I checked the race FB page and no one’s commented on the course being short. I also checked some other folks’ GPS uploads of the course on the Garmin site and they all seem to have run a full 10k or a bit more. This race is run downtown and it’s a winding two-lap course amongst very tall buildings and the 305 has a somewhat dated algorithm that did, in fact, occasionally spout gibberish at me in the middle of the race, so it is possible that my GPS actually was a bit wonky and that’s why things look so uneven pacing-wise.

Regardless: According to the official race time, I completed 10k in 49:51, which would be a huge PR and OMG under 50 minutes for a 10k. I never thought I could do something like that when I started running again 5 years ago. If the course really was a bit short, the extrapolated time still puts me somewhere less than 50:30, still a PR, but I’ll wonder forever if I’ve actually run an actual PR or not. And maybe I’ll manage to pace the next one a bit better. One can always hope. Huh. After writing it out, I don’t feel nearly as bad about what a disaster of a race this was. Whatever it was, it really was a fast effort for me. Sixth in my age group and 36th overall of 307 women. Also, we raised a lot of money for a good cause.

And have a bonus .gif of the cats made by google's Auto-Awesome feature.

And have a bonus .gif of the cats made by Google’s Auto-Awesome feature.

Gutenberg Mainz Marathon Race Report

My fourth marathon, a race report in three graphs and eight images.

Settle in, this one got long (4000 words long). I wrote it in the format of a scientific paper as that is what I am also working on at the moment and it seemed a useful exercise. Hopefully, it’s a bot more interesting though. And it’s not written in the passive voice like so many science papers (incorrectly) are. (Had it been, there would be statements in it like, “A marathon was run by the experimenters. The results of this marathon can be interpreted in a number of ways, but that the successful running of this marathon (hereafter referred to as GMM) can be reasonably concluded…lucky for you, it’s written in a slightly more enjoyable fashion.)

Abstract

I ran my fourth marathon on Sunday, bested my previous PR by over 7 minutes, was rained on, got sunburn, had the wind in my face, stayed ahead of the 4:00 pacers and their red balloon the entire time, was cheered on twice by a guy in a motorized wheelchair blasting ’80’s pop music, saw running beer bottles, a red indian that I didn’t understand, several dwarves, and lots of really excited spectators despite the crap weather. I had an icy shower, saw the Wife finish smiling and with a new PR of her own, and had one of the best post-race massages I’ve ever gotten. Then I spent the next three days climbing stairs like an old lady and explaining to well-meaning friends that I didn’t win and this marathon is 42 kilometers long. I’ve also been making lots of graphs from the GPS and heart rate data I have from my Garmin. I usually don’t race with so much tech so it’s a bit overwhelming. The majority of those plots do not make their way into this report.

(and with scientific papers, here is where things would be behind a paywall, but again, lucky for you, all you have to do is click the button.)

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TBT – running edition

Sadly, I don’t have any pictures of me running track in high school. Which is probably a good thing, come to think of it.

I was the slowest runner on the track team. I felt that I didn’t deserve to consider myself a member of the track team or a runner.

But, really, you know what the slowest runner on the track team is? A runner.

And I still am.

Here’s me at the end of my very first half marathon in 2009, 20 years after being that slowest runner and 5 years ago.

Image

I’ll post my marathon report from Sunday’s marathon a little later today. How did it get to be Thursday already?

Obligatory pre-race navel gazing…

OK, it’s two days to marathon day so it’s that inevitable time to come up with a race plan!

I’ve had input from a few running friends who all rejected my original plan of, “go hard until I blow up and see how far I managed to get.” I have absolutely no idea how to go about this despite some excellent advice from folks who know much better than I do what works when you’re actually concerned about finishing time for a marathon. And despite the fact that I don’t know what I’m doing or what I’m talking about, I shall do so ad nauseum for the next 2000 words.

tl;dr

The Wife and I are running a marathon on Sunday. I want to run it in less that 4 hours which is probably a bit of a stretch.

Preamble:

This will be my fourth stand-alone marathon. I didn’t run one last year as I got a wee bit burned out after Ironman and couldn’t face starting up again immediately after it for marathon training. Previous years were always one fall marathon using a Hal Higdon intermediate training plan (except the first one, that was his beginner plan). This year, I’m still a little burned out on triathlon and have gone back to running as my primary outlet for masochism training.

 GOALS:

For the race itself:

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Happy Easter!

It’s a beautiful day to run 21 miles…I just got my confirmation letter for my May 11th marathon in the mail and through some bizarre clerical error (or possibly because I *slightly* overestimated my finishing time *cough by 15 minutes or so cough*) I’m in starting block 2. Yeah. Not exactly where I belong on this one. My race strategy has been: run pretty hard and see where I blow up, but after talking to an old friend on the phone the other day, I’ve changed it to: run hard and try not to actually blow up. He’s a smart man. It’ll probably be a lot less unfun that way.

And the Wife will be either biking or swimming for a good long workout as well. She’s run into a bit of a shin splint issue, possibly from my overly ambitious training plan, but I have every confidence that she’s going to make a quick and easy recovery. I keep telling her that right at the start of taper is the absolute best time to get injured before a race, but I’m not sure she believes me yet. Regardless, she’s done all the long runs in spectacular fashion and this last one on my plan has something to do with my insane idea that I want to qualify for Boston this year so she shouldn’t worry about missing it. At all. Actually, she shouldn’t worry at all, regardless. I had a wonderful spring getting to do most of my runs with her and all I want is for her to feel 100% again. I couldn’t care less if actually races. (But it would have been fun to see her running with a race number that says “Wolfgang” on it – long story involving me not being aware of the cutoff for registering for this one and the very active race number buying and trading forum and a 75 year old guy who thinks we’re a cute couple or something like that. Regardless, if it turns out that she can’t run it, I’m sure we can find a Bernd or a Frank or a Mike to pass the race number along to.) So to my dear Wife, please stop worrying and happy Easter!

Of course we color eggs even though we're both adults and don't have kids :-) Dave the Minion is quite excited about it.

Of course we color eggs even though we’re both adults and don’t have kids 🙂 Dave the Minion is quite excited about it.

...as is Dukie the cat. Maybe we should start making catnip eggs and hiding them for him to find...

…as is Dukie the cat. Maybe we should start making catnip eggs and hiding them for him to find…

Tuesday Twofer

The post about why I haven’t been posting has to wait another day as I haven’t finished it yet and I have too much to do to get it done in the manner it deserves.

There’s wordless Wednesday and Throwback Thursday, but what’s Tuesday? Today it’s Twofer Tuesday since I’ve only got about two minutes at the moment and too many things on the to-to list.

Two running recommendations:

1) For long runs, my Nathan running vest/backpack is the best ever, even though I tend to pack too many things into it. (Always a phone, extra cash, a couple of gels, a packet of tissues, lip balm, and the iPod. Often a jacket and/or spare gloves just in case).

2) Running with one’s significant other. Especially nice slow recovery runs where we get to chat for an hour or so. I know it’s hard for most couples because there’s always the fast one, but every once in a while, if the fast one slows down, it’s really lovely bonding time

Two photos:

two cats on a bookshelf, looking smug

People wonder why one shelf of our Wall of Billy has been left inexplicably empty. This is why.

a picture of bibimbap

The Wife has started making her own version of Korean Bibimbap. I’ll post a recipe when I get it from her.  But because she’s German, her version includes bacon.

She made this the first time last month and it’s possibly the best thing ever to come out of our kitchen. Really tasty with bok choi, fried tofu, the usual ingredients, but instead of egg, she finished it with German bacon. #ilovemywife

That’s all for today. More tomorrow (or Übermorgen – I’m on a plane tomorrow and I don’t know if I’ll have internet on the other side)

2014 Resolutions and 2013 Wrap-up before it’s so late it’s irrelevant

Today, we took down our adorable tiny Christmas tree and all the wonderful cards we received. The last day of Christmas is always bittersweet. We have also managed to eat every last bit of Christmas cookies, candy, and cake that was left in the house, so it’s well and truly over until next year.

One batch of the roughly 1000 pounds of fudge we made for the holidays. Sadly, all of it has been given away and/or consumed.

One batch of the roughly 1000 pounds of fudge we made for the holidays. Sadly, all of it has been given away and/or consumed.

And now for the important parts of this post. What we did and what we’re going to do.

What we did last year:

Short version – last year I did an Ironman. Which I shall never tire of saying, sorry (not really. Ironpeople are never sorry for bringing it up. Again. Maybe this year I’ll actually finish last year’s race report.). I was going to run up a mountain this year, but instead, I’ve decided to qualify for the Boston Marathon and just like that, another obsession is born. The Wife has decided to do her first 70.3 triathlon this year, so we have some fun training times ahead of us.

Long version – here’s my season recap for this year which basically says that I did an Ironman (did I mention that already?) and got a bunch of PR’s along the way, which was nice. Here’s last year’s resolutions post where go into stupefying detail about how to write resolutions and then give a laundry list a mile long of all the things I wanted to do or work on during 2013. Here’s the (hopefully less painful) summary of last year:

  • Ironman (see above.)
  • 4:00 marathon – cancelled because I was too tuckered out from Ironman (see above) to do anything meaningful with the rest of the fall. Poor, poor, pitiful me.
  • Flossing. Yep, still flossing. Like a boss.
  • Basic medical care, cats + humans. Behaving mostly like an adult and doing this stuff when we’re supposed to. Except the dentist. I never did go back to have the ancient cavities replaced. They still don’t bother me at all, giving me zero incentive to actually have things done.
  • Being a Scientist. Working on it. Was harder than I’d imagined. But there’s still hope.
  • Being a German speaker. Passed the B2 German exam and the civics exam for residency in May!
  • Being a home handyperson. Not really. Something had to fall off the (overly ambitious) list and this was it. Not that things are in bad shape, but I still want to reorg the bathroom and living room the way I did with the kitchen in 2012.
  • Getting wedding rings and having the accompanying wedding. Yeah, that one worked out pretty well. In case you were wondering, yes, we are legally in a Lebenspartnership here, but that’s like a civil union and not like a marriage. For US Immigration purposes, we needed a wedding and a marriage, so we had (another) one. It was beautiful and we had so much fun with it and that’s the one perk of same-sex unions. We get to (in fewer than half of the US states, though) have a lot of weddings. To the same person. (Because we have to in order to satisfy different states and countries patchwork and not wholly equal laws and regulations. So to counteract the lack of equality in a lot of places, we express our joy in those places that do consider us equal under the law by having more parties there.) OK, same-sex equality rant over. This is supposed to be a tri-blog, after all.

What we’re going to do this year:

I’ve decided against running up a mountain this September as it interferes with both our vacation plans and my BQ plans.

My A Races:

  • Mainz Marathon (May)
  • Frankfurt Marathon (October)

My B Races:

  • Frankfurt 1/2 Marathon (March)
  • Wiesbaden 70.3 (August)

My C Races:

  • Platte, Fertig, Los (only 450 meters of climbing in 5 miles up Plattestraße in Wiesbaden) (March) (Yes, I’m doing this one just for fun. For some definition of fun.)
  • Frankfurt City Tri (As usual, the week before Wiesbaden. I’ll probably do the sprint distance again. Maybe I’ll get first woman on the bike again this year.)
  • Lauf für Mehr Zeit – Frankfurt’s AIDS charity run. (September) If we’re not on the beach in Crete.
  • Cologne Triathlon Weekend (September) I may do the Oly here for fun since the swim is so beautiful and I’ll be there anyway, sherpa-ing for the Wife at her first half-iron distance triathlon. (Go Wife!)

Intense BQ-based navel-gazing ahead

(with a side-order of Maffetone nattering)

First, about navel-gazing. That refers to omphaloskepsis, or the act of meditative belly-button contemplation. Which is different from naval-gazing, which involves looking excessively at pretty boats, er ships. So, originally I’d hoped to BQ this May in Mainz, but then I realized that Mainz would only count towards 2015 when I will still only be 44 and the BQ time is 3:45 which is 17 minutes faster than my current marathon PR. However, Frankfurt, in October will count towards 2016, when I’ll be 45 and only need to pull off a 3:55, a mere 7 minutes faster than my PR. A majority of the predictors imply that based on my 1/2 marathon and 10k times in 2013, I should be able to swing a 3:53. I’m going to try for that at both Mainz and Frankfurt with some fun triathlon in the middle along with a couple of cool holidays.

Maffetone. Still not sure I believe in him. I’ve started HR training this month and seriously, keeping the HR below 180-43 (+5 for good behavior the last 4 or 5 years) is making me into one angry runner. I was reduced to almost 13 minute miles in the middle of Sunday’s long run. People were walking faster than I was running. I snapped at the Wife. It was miserable all around. I think I may have had a HRM malfunction in the middle of the run or something. Or the constriction around the chest (which triggers my claustrophobia) started to bother me. Or I have no aerobic fitness or something. I don’t know. But I cannot wait until March when I can get one of these fancy optical HRM that I get to wear around my wrist instead of my chest. I will stick with the Maffetone method at least until the end of February, but if my paces aren’t improving by then, I’m going back to the usual. In case you were wondering, all this started because the Wife has gotten so fast that I can no longer rely on running with her to keep my long run pace slow enough anymore and since I’m wearing the hated strap, I thought I might as well go all the way and see what happens.

So here’s my marathon training plan for the next few month in graphical format:

My weekly total mileage and long run length up to and including the Mainz Marathon this May. Races are marked as red dots on the long run (blue) line.

My weekly total mileage and long run length up to and including the Mainz Marathon this May. Races are marked as red dots on the long run (blue) line.

That’s the quick version of what I’m up to for the next year. Oh, and blogging. I resolve to blog no fewer than 52 times this year (that’s once a week at a minimum).

 

Captain Dukie was a bit traumatized by our being away for almost two weeks at Christmas. So now, all of my seated activities involve peering over a cat. For example, breakfast.

Captain Dukie was a bit traumatized by our being away for almost two weeks at Christmas. So now, all of my seated activities involve peering over a cat. For example, breakfast.

 

Season recap 2013

Well, it’s been most of the season and I haven’t managed to finish a blog post all summer or this first half of fall. Which is a shame because it has actually been a banner year for me. Let me explain; No it will take to long. Let me sum up:

So far this year to date I have achieved a PR in every race I entered. Every single one. Every distance, every race. It appears that Ironman training has been good for me on the whole. I escaped major injury (or rather, I trained well and listened to my body) and I finally got my iron levels to something approaching normal. I have no idea how long I’d been training and racing before this while being iron deficient. So thanks to my doctor for making me get blood drawn every three months and take iron supplements regularly.

Me doing my best impression of Daniel Craig as 007

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Driving up to a new 10k PR

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.

Cat on bicycles

Here’s Captain Dukie surveying the new addition to Bike Parking (TM); Bernd das Bike

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.

but the muth was busted so obviously He got there some other way. Batsuit? Flying pony?

Christihimmelfahrt which I have handily illustrated on our kitchen whiteboard for you. By the way, the new season of Mythbusters is excellent so far and they did their third and definitive busting of the JATO-on-a-car myth that started off the Darwin awards

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?

triathlong meringues

My incredible and wonderful Wife made me these adorable meringues the other day 🙂