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Upcoming races

So the next couple of months are packed with more races than I think originally intended.  Here’s where I hope that my complete failure to come up with an actual plan this summer after the (somewhat failed) long distance coaching experience and subsequent list of excuses (injured, anemic, flu, colitis, depression, blah, blah, blah) still somehow managed to prepare me for the racefest that is August through October.  For the record, I do not recommend the wing-and-a-prayer method of triathlon training.

So here’s what I will be writing up fun and interesting race reports on in the next 12 weeks:

August 5:  Frankfurt City Tri

Last year I did the Olympic version and came in 10th (out of 30) in my age group with my usual crappy swim, decent bike, and stunningly mediocre run.  This year the Oly distance was right out as the following week I’ve got a 70.3 on the schedule.  So I signed up for the Jedermann (Everyman) version which is a nice short sprintlet (400m swim, 13 km bike, 5 km run) since it’s local, the wife is also racing it, it’s kind of a fun one (love getting to swim in my regular practice lake, then bike on the highway straight to downtown), and I could really use the transition practice (maybe someday I will finally stop taking naps in T1 and sitting down for tea in T2).  But then, of course I (not obsessively, no, not me) checked the times from last year.  And holy cow!  I could win my age group.  Like first.  And probably come in top 5 women overall.  Assuming that there are about the same number of women in it this year. Last year 360 men and 120 women did the sprint.  This year there are 500 total signed up, so a few more people.  Here in Germany, people take their fun seriously and all the “real” (amateur, age-grouper) athletes generally do the Oly and the grandmas on their city bikes (with the fenders, racks, step-through frames, dynamo lights) and sensible walking shoes are the ones doing the sprint distance.  So if I have to elbow somebody’s Oma out of the way to move up a ranking, you bet I will.  Even though I was only supposed to be doing this one as race prep for the following week.

Goal for this one:  Based on last year’s times for my age group and based on my training speeds (and hopes since I really haven’t been doing any speedwork at all running) I will be happy with top 3 in my age group.  Which, I know for much of the triathlon blogosphere is nothing, for me as a remarkably mediocre triathlete is incredibly exciting.

Secondary goal:  DO NOT GET INJURED.

Secret goal:  finish the bike in less than 23 minutes or less

August 12 Ironman 70.3 Wiesbaden (otherwise known as the European Championship for the pros).

I still don’t know what the hell I was thinking when I registered for this one.  Altitude change on the bike:  1500 m.  That’s a bit more than 4500 feet for all you Americans.  That’s…a lot of climbing.  For which I am significantly underprepared and do not have enough easy gears on the bike.  Every person that I’ve talked to who did this one in the past or whose blog I’ve read has discussed how incredibly miserable it is (sometimes at very great length)  Making the bike cutoff is a serious worry for this one and I’m a good rider.  Last Sunday at the local RTF ride, I met a woman who did it for the last 2 years.  Typical triathlete – whip thin, muscular, fancy tri bike, the whole works.  She went on at length about how hard it is and how she’s not doing it this year in favor of something easier.  My last 70.3 (first as well) was the pancake-flat Eagleman and I had a great bike there, under 3 hours.  I’m going to hope for sub-4 hours for this one and be positively joyful if I manage it.  My swimming and running should be much improved over Eagleman, though:  This race will very likely be wetsuit legal unlike Eagleman and won’t be quite so miserably (95°F = 35°C) hot and I won’t be on my honeymoon, so I can probably take something ridiculous like 20 minutes off my run time.  Assuming my legs still work after the bike.  Looking at the times from last year for my age group provides me with no context and no comfort as I really have no idea what’s going to happen on the bike.  Last year in my age group were 24 people, no DNF’s, and times from 5:42 to 8:12.  Happily, the women start immediately after the pros (yes, you read that right, all the women in one heat.  There are about 10 times as many men in this as women, which is typical for European middle distance triathlons) so I’ll have a lot of company on the course with all the men behind me and all the women with me.  This was the same setup as the Frankfurt City Tri last year and for that race, my goal was to pass at least one pro.  Which I managed before the swim was over 🙂

Goal for this one:  Finish.

Secondary goals:  Have fun, beat my run time from Eagleman

Most important thing to remember and stick to the plan:  nutrition and hydration.  It’s become really clear to me recently (ask the Wife about the getting lost and the crying and calling her in the middle of the very long bike ride in the rain) that if I don’t eat enough, I bonk really hard.  So I’ve been practicing a lot of eating of energy bars on the bike for the last few weeks.

Secret goal:  There is no secret goal.  Finish, don’t get off the bike and walk up any of the hills.

What have I done?!?!?!
Here’s the bike profile for the Wiesbaden 70.3

Then there’s a bit of a break where we go to the beach and behave like cats for a week (cats who, of course, still do their weekly long run while on vacation)

Yes, the cats are Parrotheads!
Captain Dukie in his pirate ship. I don’t have any pictures of him at the beach, so this is the beach holiday placeholder.

September 2 Fintler Triathlon

We’re doing this one because it’s in the same town as the Wife’s dad lives in and coincides nicely with our yearly visit-the-folks trip.  Last year it was going on while we were there and it had never occurred to her dad to mention to his triathlete daughter and daughter-in-law that there was something going on that they might be interested in.  Instead, we had a nice run through the countryside last year.  This year we are going to be running right past his house so all the local relatives can all get together and cheer us on and be impressed by our sporty athleticism.   Because truly, they have no idea what it is that we actually do with all our free time.  The distance is a bit odd.   700 m swim in a pool, 32 km bike, and 10 km run.  Clearly this one is put on by a bunch of runners.  Also, it’s a small, local event.  I think there are something like 50 people total doing the long version (which is what this one is) this year.  Also, the Wife and I get to be in the same age class for this one, a first for us.

Goal:  Don’t fall down in front of any relatives.  Seriously, not attaching any times to this one because I have absolutely no idea.

Secret goal:  Because there’s always a secret goal.  Bike in under an hour.  Run in under 54 minutes.

September 9 Lauf für mehr Zeit

This is the Frankfurt area charity fundraising AIDS run.  Of course the Wife and I are doing this one.  Not only that, but she’s heading up the charity team that her workplace is sponsoring. This one will get its own post sometime soon where I actually ask you to help us out with a small donation.  This year for the first time, timing chips will be used.  Previously, if you were fast, you lined up at the front and the first 50 or so people across the line were timed with an actual stopwatch and the rest of us were assumed to be fun-runners and fund-raisers, which was fine with us.  (Although last year if there’d been an official time, both the Wife and I would have had 5k PR’s)  This year, I may run the all new 10k option as it comes on a weekend where a 20 mile long run needs to be fit in somehow.

Goal:  Run 14 miles of warm up, then race a 10k at the end of it.

Other Goal:  Raise as money much as possible

Secret Goal:  Stealth coach the Wife to a new 5k PR

Which brings us to:

October 28 Frankfurt Marathon

So this will be marathon number 3 for me.  I think that makes me an actual endurance athlete now.  Or a masochist.  Or possibly both.  I am also the super secret coach for someone who doesn’t want anyone to know yet that she or he is training for one.  I’m much more nervous about screwing up that part of marathon training than about my own.  I’ve moved up to Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 2 training plan, although with some extensive modifications to take care of multisport training until September 2.  I’m also keeping swimming and some biking in afterwards because last year when I abruptly transitioned from tri to running only marathon training, I immediately injured myself.  We’ll see how this year works out.

Goal:  I can’t decide.  I have 2 competing goals and I’m really not sure which one to go for.  In the previous 2 marathons, I’m pretty sure I got too excited and/or overambitious, went out too fast, hit the wall around mile 20 and was ultimately slow and miserable at the end.  So, the first goal is to run easy for the first 20 miles and see how fast I can go the last 6 without worrying about total time.  The second is to take another 12 minutes off my time (first one was 4:28, second was 4:16) and go for 4:05.

Super Secret goal:  I’m not telling.

So that’s what the rest of my race season for the year looks like.  I’m not sure how the schedule got so crowded, I don’t think I’d intended to do 4 triathlons and a marathon this year.

Note:  Keep watching this space:  Before the weekend is out, I’ll have a post about team guilt/encouragement regarding starting to do core exercises and informally encouraging each other so that we manage to make it a habit.  I’m still working out the details.  Feel free to leave a comment if you have any ideas on how that should work.  I’m thinking about weekly reminder posts, snail-mail encouragement for people who’d like that, and weekly round-up so we can all post in comments how we’ve done.

Core strengthening for Fun and Profit

Exercises for improving back and core strength.  Remember that I have absolutely no real qualifications for recommending these, YMMV, use at your own risk, etc.

That being said, I’ve known a bunch of folks with various back problems over the years and have watched, researched, tested, and otherwise helped out enough to have a very basic understanding of what might work.

The first thing is  – if you have a new or existing problem with your back – go seek actual medical advice.  The doctor, physical therapist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, massage therapist, etc. are all on your side and are trained to help you.  The internet is here to give you conflicting advice and generally jump-start your hypochondria. (And, of course, pictures of cats)

So now you’ve seen health professional of your choice and got the OK from them to do a little core strength training.  The gym is far away and gas costs a lot, the Olympics are on TV, can’t leave the new (circle all that apply) [baby, puppy, husband, mistress, crockpot, teenager, thesis, bicycle, petunias, other] alone all day.  What about doing core work at home, then?

At which point the search for the perfect home gym accessories starts.  Which is better, the Ab-doer or how about the Ab-Rocket? Or maybe the Ab-Glider?  Maybe a set of Shake Weights to go with it as well…

Do you really need any of them?  Honestly? Probably not.  Everything these machines do for you can be done pretty easily and safely on your own.  Do you need to do a set of core exercises two or three times a week consistently and for about 15 to 20 minutes a session?  Unfortunately, yes.  Where our body is concerned, we really can’t get something for nothing.  If it doesn’t feel like you’re actually doing work, then you’re probably not.  (Not that it shouldn’t be fun or should be overly stressful or anything, but the physical (as in physics) definition of work (work = Force * distance or mass*acceleration*distance) probably needs to be adhered to in order for an exercise routine to have an actual effect on your body.

But sit-ups suck.  Everyone hates sit ups.  Yes, that is true.  And the jury is still out on whether or not they’re actually even any good at all for you.  So the good news is, you don’t have to do sit-ups.

The bad news is that there are things even worse than sit-ups.  (Kidding.  I’m not going to include any of those.  Much.)

L’s Core Strength exercise set with a focus on healthy backs.

Here’s a set of 6 core exercises (+2 stretches) that work well for both  me and the Wife.  They all have silly names (that I didn’t even make up). We both do these on a semi-regular basis (which really ought to be more regular) They are not just for people with bad backs, they’re also for people who want a stronger core and to prevent their backs from going bad in the first place.

1) Dead Bug (or Dead Ant)

How it’s done:  Lie on your back and raise your knees up so your thighs are perpendicular to the ground and your calves are parallel to the ground.  (like you were sitting in a chair tipped all the way over backwards)  Extend your right leg out straight (don’t let your heel touch the ground) and at the same time your left arm out straight over your head (your hand also does not touch the ground).  Do this slowly and deliberately, keeping your back flat and in a natural position.  Bring them back to the start position.  Repeat with the other leg and arm.  That’s one.

Do 2 sets of these, start with 10 repetitions and work up to 15 res.

Here’s a video showing how to do the Dead Bug:

Here’s another video with a long discussion of back pain, back strengthening, and how to do it correctly if you’re still worried/confused:

2) Superman

How it’s done:  Lie on your stomach.  There are two versions of this one, a lower impact version and a higher impact version.

Low Impact Version:  Raise your right arm and left foot slightly off the ground (only a few inches – you should never feel pain in your back when you do this – if you do, back off until it doesn’t hurt), hold the position for a few seconds, lower your arm and leg, and raise the opposite arm and leg, hold for a few seconds.  That’s one.

Higher Impact Version: Raise both feet and both hands at the same time (don’t bend the legs or the arms, the lift comes from the core tightening and the back arching a bit).  Hold for a few seconds and imagine you’re flying.

Here’s what it looks like:

a line drawing of superman pose

Do 2 sets of these, start with 10 reps and work up to 15 reps.

Start with the low impact version and don’t add the higher impact version until you can do 2 sets of 15 of the low impact version with no pain.  Then do 1 set of the low and one set of the high impact version.   When you’re comfortable, switch to the higher impact Supermans.  Remember to think about the wind in your hair as you swoop through the sky.

This web page has a good description of both Supermans, the Plank, the Transverse Plank, and a very low impact starter Bridge.

3) The Bridge (Have you seen the bridge?  Where is that confounded bridge?)

How it’s done:  Here is the description of the bridge from the set of core exercises that I follow:

Lying on your back, bend your knees and place your heels near your glutes.  Arms are at your sides, palms down.

In one smooth motion, squeeze your glutes, raise your hips off the floor, and push up from your heels to form a straight like from shoulders to knees; toes come off the floor slightly.  Hold for a few seconds.  Keep your toes raised and lower yourself ¾ of the way down.  That’s one.

Do 2 sets of 10 to start and gradually increase to 2 sets of 20 when that gets too easy. Alternative is to simply hold the pose (start with 15 seconds and work up to 1 minute)

Here’s what it looks like:

a woman doing bridge pose

Here’s a decent video showing the basic pose, but when I do them, I lower more towards the ground and then back up (so it looks more obscene, but not as much like Kegel exercises as the woman in the vid does when she switches to the variation at 1:55)

4) The Plank (otherwise known as L’s favorite core exercise – just ask anyone who’s ever been in one of my Kendo classes)

How it’s done:  Start on your stomach with your elbows under your shoulders and feet together. Hands are together.  Raise up so that you are on your toes and forearms, keeping the back straight.  It is much MUCH better to have a slight convex bend (with your hips and butt a bit higher) than a concave bend (where your hips drop and your back arches – this can HURT your back).   Hold it for 15 – 20 seconds.  That’s one set.

Do 2 sets.  Work up until each set is 1 minute long.

Here’s what it looks like:

a woman in plank pose

Here’s an excellent video of the plank (same woman as above for the bridge):

4a) Transverse Plank

How it’s done:  This is like the plank, but only on one side.  Start on your right side, right elbow under right shoulder, left arm in front of you for balance.  Stack your feet (left on top of right).  If you’re comfortable, raise your left arm over your head.  Tighten your abs and raise your hips off the floor, hold for a few seconds and lower your hips to a few inches above the floor.  That’s one.

Do 2 sets of 10 reps on each side.

Here’s what it looks like:

a man in side plank pose

Here’s the youtube video for this one:

5) Boat Pose

How it’s done:  Sit, resting both hands behind you and lean back until your torso is at a 45 degree angle.

Keep your legs together and lift them off the floor at the same time extending your arms forward.  Your legs are straight, your arms are also straight.  Arms are parallel to legs and legs and torso form a 90 degree angle (You didn’t know there would also be geometry in these, did you?).  Bend your knees (a little) if you have to in order to relieve stress.

Here’s what it looks like: a woman doing boat pose

Hold for 15 seconds.  That’s one set.

Do 2 sets and work up to 1 minute for each.

That’s it for the hard stuff. These last 2 are meant to stretch things out after working them.  They should not be stressful or feel like work.

6) Baby Cobra Pose

How it’s done:  Start on your stomach, hands under shoulders and elbows pointing to the back.  Slowly straighten your arms and raise up on your hands as far as is comfortable for your back.  Look up to help stretch things out.  Wiggle your hips a bit from side to side.  Only go up as far as is comfortable and hold for 15 – 20 seconds.

Here’s what it looks like:

A woman in cobra pose

7) Child’s Pose

How it’s done:  Start on your stomach.  Get on your hands and knees, then stretch back so your butt is resting on your feet and your arms are straight in front of you.  Let your back round, let your head drop and your neck and back relax.  Let your whole body relax and rest here for 20 or 30 seconds (or as long as you want to).

Here’s what it looks like:

A woman in Child's pose

Switch one more time from cobra pose back to child’s pose if you want to.

That’s it.  You’re done.  Try to do this at least twice a week, bot no more than 3 times a week.

Another good resource to for back and core strength:

I also really like this video (partly because he’s from New Jersey and sounds like it, partly because he does cats, dogs, superman, sphinx, eagle, batman, cobra (Watch at 3:25 for a really good Cobra Pose discussion)

And… a picture of my cat Brucie getting ready to do Dead Bug while trainer Dukie corrects his form


Triathlon and IBD

So, one of the things you’re all going to know about me before too long is that I have ulcerative colitis which is an inflammatory bowel disease of the autoimmune variety.  You can find more information than you ever wanted to know about it either by googling it (WebMD has slideshows of actual diseased intestines if you’re that interested) or visiting the Crohns and Colitis Foundation of America ( that does a good job with the basics.

I usually don’t talk about it that much because in addition to being a literal pain in the ass, it’s not one of the cool or interesting diseases.  It’s boring, painful and incredibly embarrassing to deal with and discuss.  (Although that perception may be changing now that one of the biggest marathons in the US has taken the Crohns and Colitis Foundation on as its fundraising partner – )  In general, people are less sympathetic when they realize that your brand of body dysfunction involves the possibility of you uncontrollably shitting your pants when you’re standing right next to them.  Most people that is.  There is apparently one big exception to this and it is triathletes (and distance runners).  I think that one reason I love triathlon is because bowel problems are an integral part of the sport.  I can’t tell you how many race reports I’ve read where the run was basically a race from portapotty to portapotty.  Here’s a great example of what I’m talking about from a new pro with a lot of heart

Triathletes understand what it feels like to be me.

And are totally unfazed by extensive discussions of eating and pooping.  My kind of people!  (Ultrarunners on the other hand seem a bit more obsessed with the color of their pee than the consistency of their poo.) I’m not alone anymore.

So yeah.  Triathlon and IBD:  Two different ways to race to the next portapotty as fast as you can.

Ironblogging – or what have I done now?

Image of my registration for the Frankfurt Ironman

This was my birthday present to myself this year. I’m officially registered now.

I’d meant to post this 12 days ago when I stopped hemming and hawing and plunked down a chunk of change in order to do something difficult and probably painful a year from now.  It was my birthday present to myself and after long discussions with the Wife, we agreed that this is the year for it.

Why Frankfurt? 


1)   Hometown.  No need to spend extra on travel and lodging.

2)   Hometown.  I swim in that lake for much of my open water practice.  I’ve already swum in it once for the Frankfurt City Tri and will do so again in a little less than two weeks.  I ride those roads, I’ve run on the run course.  Familiarity is good.

3)   The bike course for all its 112 miles is significantly less scary than the Wiesbaden 70.3 course I’m doing next month.

4)   I volunteered at T1 this year so I am intimately familiar with the weird quirks of this one – bags, changing tents, plastic tubs at the bike racks…

5)   The Wife approves and is behind me 100% for this one \o/


1)   15 hour time limit.

2)   The weird separate transitions and all the different and confusing bags that all need to be packed correctly and sorted out beforehand.

3)   15 hour time limit.

4)   I can’t put the kitchen sink in those little bags like I would if I had a typical US acre of land by the bike at transition.

5)   15 hour time limit.

6)   I started doing this whole triathlon thing because it was fun.  This.  Ironman.  Probably won’t be entirely fun.

7)   Did I mention the time limit?

It’s going to require that my current procrastination level needs to go way down (and therefore my internet scouring: basically that means I’m going to stop obsessively searching for and reading Ironman race reports – one of my primary activities in the last 12 days. In fact, my internet time will probably get more interactive – i.e. yes, the blog has a true purpose now)

The Wife and I have also agreed that a reevaluation in March of this goal is a perfectly valid step and we can afford to lose half the registration fee if I feel it’s too much for me and I won’t be successful.

Some things to remember:

1) Sane decision making is not a sign of failure. It is a sign of sanity and adulthood. OK I need to say it again. Making an informed and appropriate decision about pulling out – AT ANY POINT – if I need to is NOT A SIGN OF FAILURE. IT IS A SIGN OF MATURITY AND THE CORRECT ATTITUDE TOWARDS A HOBBY.

2) Finishing an Ironman does not somehow validate me as a person, no matter how cruel the other kids in elementary school were. I do not need to do this to prove my worth as a human being. Conversely, if I don’t finish for any reason that does not make me a failure as a person or even a failure as an athlete.

3) While I acknowledge that the race itself probably won’t be a lot of fun (well, I think it will be fun until I lace up my running shoes and rather less fun from that point on) the training should be enjoyable, have intrinsic worth, and not be a major stressor in my life. If it is, that is probably a sign that I’m doing something wrong and I need to reevaluate and revise what I am doing.

4) Getting up early in the morning is necessary for the successful ironic athlete. Remember, dawn is beautiful.

A final note on Ironman: One of the things that attracts me to it is the same thing that makes Waiting for Godot my favorite play and Camus and Ionesco some of my favorite writers. The utterly arbitrary nature of Ironman fascinates me to no end. The random distances, the specific order that they must be done, the bizarre and arcane regulations, the strange rituals at transition, the complete pointlessness of finishing as a middle of the pack age-grouper and paying for the privilege fascinate me to no end. I love the idea of doing this simply for the very sake of doing something so difficult and perverse. (Also, I’m a masochist)

Sunday fun for the triathlete: Open water swim class today!

Today was an open water swim class at the local lake, put on by the folks who do the local sprint and Oly tri every August (coincidentally also at the local lake).  This was a perfect opportunity to baptize our new Christmas wetsuits in actual water.

We biked to the lake on the city bikes (of course, how else would a car-free couple get to the lake early on a Sunday morning?), got there with plenty of time to spare, despite my typical 7 minutes of Verspätung (yes, lateness in two languages these days) and had a lovely chat with a slightly crazy of center ultra runner who offhandedly talks about running distances (and sleeping a few minutes in park benches in the middle of runs that take days rather than minutes or hours to complete) that even I occasionally balk at biking, never mind running.

So then we all squirmed into our wetsuits, and can I just say that I really love my new wetsuit more than anything (well, except the wife.  And the bicycle. And the cats.  And chocolate.  And…well you get the idea, the wetsuit is really nice with well articulated arms and really appreciated stretchiness everywhere making it so much less panic inducing (more on that later) than the previous one I was using.   Xterra does not pay me in any way for saying this, but I love my new vortex suit.   Anyway.)

Before we knew it, we were all wading into the very somewhat cold lake (18°C or 64°F for the backwards and the Americans) and from the looks and actions of most of the folks around me, I was prepared for the very worst.  The wife, of course, just waded in like it was bathwater and was far ahead of the rest of us “more seasoned” triathletes.  I felt positively brave as I was in the water before about half of the group.  The new wetsuit is warm.  Pleasantly so rather than claustrophobically.  After splashing water into the wetsuit neck to get my chest nice and cool and then slowly splashing water on my face, I dove in with no gasp reflex and started swimming towards the platform (there’s a nice wide swim platform about 150 meters or so out in the swimming portion of the lake).  And it was just like swimming in the pool.  Stroke, breathe, kick.  No Problem.

I didn’t panic!  At all!  For those keeping count, this is the first time I’ve been in a wetsuit without at least one incident of panic.  So far the only race that I didn’t have a panic attack during the swim was Eagleman where the water was bathtub warm, green and viscous like pea soup and no one got to wear a wetsuit.  The last time I had the (old) wetsuit at this same lake, I definitely had a panic attack of the “I can’t breathe under water” sort.  This time: no panic, no wetsuit induced claustrophobia, just lots of nice, relaxed swimming.  The one time I started to feel a bit freaked-out, I just slowed my strokes down and concentrated on easy swimming and it just went away.

I attribute this to 2 things:

1)   New wetsuit is much more stretchy and forgiving than old wetsuit.  Also more buoyant.

2)   I’ve been swimming more.  Tri coach (who has been fired for unrelated reasons) was terrific at getting me to swim more, swim differently, do exercises, structured swim workouts and most importantly, to do that three times a week.  So since February I’ve swum somewhere in the vicinity of 100 km.  All that practice is paying off in spades (well in nice, happy swims anyway).  I feel comfortable in the water these days.  Comfortable swimming in the water with my head down and breathing, just like a real swimmer.

And one of the fun things from the class (other than doing this fun roll onto our backs to get around turns, just like sea lions or porpoises – well in the case of some of us, really uncoordinated sea lions) is that it turns out that I’m . . . not slow.  At least relative to this group.  I could keep up with men!  We practiced a group start and I hung back and let the fast folks go first as usual – I have a very healthy fear of flailing arms and legs too close to my person when I’m on the verge of panic anyway.  Then I started my usual dogged crawl and oddly, by the time I got back the shallow area, I’d miraculously passed pretty much everyone but the four fastest (the ones you would send out to find the Dread Pirate Roberts if this were Florin and swimmers were ships. . .blah, blah, blah, Inconceivable!).  And someone was actually drafting off me!  And I got complimented on my straight sighting (I guess part of me can be straight after all. . .)  We won’t talk about the other exercise where I was inexplicably dead last and didn’t get back before the instructor had started talking again.

The wife did wonderfully for her first time in a wetsuit!  She will deny this, but it is the truth.  She panicked at the beginning, felt like she couldn’t breathe and got a bit upset.  I sent her off to talk with the swim trainer who was on the shore expecting that she would get some help with adjusting the wetsuit (these things are very challenging for those of us who look like actual women and I could see that it was too low and needed to go up a couple of inches so that she had enough neoprene to cover her. . . tracts of land and still have room for breathing) and be assured that this happens to lots of people their first time in a wetsuit.  I was, alas, incorrect about the swim trainer, but no matter, the wife shook it off like the brave and awesome person she is and by the end of the class was swimming away.  (And to remind her again, not last.  Not by a long shot.  Also, did I mention that she just learned to swim a crawl this winter?  Amazing, she is!

So yes.  Fun with rubber.  And everyone got wet, and enjoyed themselves.

Race Report : Der Höchster Kreisstadtlauf (10K)

Race report: Der Höchster Kreisstadtlauf 2012

OK so it’s been ages since I wrote an actual race report, so long that I’ve pretty much forgotten how…also, for me this race, just like the last few (that I failed to write race reports for) was a bit of a disappointment.

TL;DR version:  I ran, finished 2 minutes slower than I usually run 10K’s when they come at the end of an Olympic distance tri.  On the good side, the wife, whom I have started coaching, not only beat me, but she also PR’d by about 1 minute 40 seconds and this in a race with virtually no taper and no intent to “race” it.  So I’m doing something right, at least.

Excuses version: Was at the doctor 2 weeks ago for unrelated issues and during the course of the blood work, it was discovered that apparently I have iron deficiency anemia.  Significant enough that the doc had me in this week for an intravenous iron injection.  Which was on Wednesday, the day before the race.  So, it’s either the anemia that’s making me feel like utter crap every time my HR goes above the low 160’s (every time I put in effort, my heart rate went up, then I felt incredibly nauseous and had to back off) or it’s the iron injection itself.  Whatever, not my best day at the races.  Which was sad because the weather was perfect, the course was gorgeous and net downhill, and it ended in my hometown, 2 blocks from my apartment.  We only found out about the race about 2 weeks ago, signed up because of the convenience (Hometown race! YAY!) and the cheap entry and intended to do it as a training run (I was intending it to be a good tempo effort, which for me is about 9 minute miles.  It was only after looking at the profile and seeing the weather (much too cold in the early morning, but by the 10 AM start time, perfectly cool and sunny) did I realize it was PR weather on a PR course.  Of course, the whole anemia thing has pretty much trashed at least the first half of my season (at least 8 weeks from now before improvement, apparently significant numbers of my red blood cells have become tiny and wimpy and need some time to be replaced) so hopefully, the weather will be good next year as well.

So, started the race about 1/4 of the way back – about 1500 people were running, so this was a reasonable place to start and left us a perfect amount of running room right from the mat where we did not impact anyone by being too slow, nor did we have to slow down for anyone in our way.  Perfect.  After the first big hill, the whole race was on nice closed roads and (relatively wide) paved trails and all flat or downhill until the big 0.2 mile cobblestone hill it ended with.  It was during the first hill that my HR alarm started ringing off the hook (which may not have been entirely an error) and I discovered that any pushing of the pace made me feel sick enough that I thought I’d better slow down so as not to vomit on another runner or anything.  Maybe I’m a wimp for not wanting to puke in a 10K, but I did enough puking during high school track to last a lifetime, thank you.  First mile including the hill and the start was 9:13, not so bad, overall, considering.

After the second mile, 8:46 and all downhill, I realized that the wife (who is a lying liar who lies) didn’t want to hang out with me and have a nice run, but was feeling really good and wanted to race.  So I took a minute to convince her that leaving me wasn’t an act of spousal neglect on her part and she took off.  Or I slowed down.  Either way, it was a nice day, the crowds cheering and the crowds running were all happy, especially the group of fathers with their little wagon full of beer, and yes, they beat me, too.  (Aside:  yesterday was Father’s day here in Germany and that usually means that all the fathers take their kids’ wagons, load them up with beer and sausage and spend the day behaving as only men filled with beer and sausages can.  These guys did it in a 10K race, which was honestly pretty impressive and only slightly reminiscent of Bay to Breakers)

Mile 3 was 9:08 for me, stopped briefly at the water stop to try to get the feeling of about to puke out of my system.  It worked for a while.  Mile 4 (8:47) felt pretty good and had the added interest of containing the only run through a train station I’ve ever done as part of an organized race and from there we went into the chemical plant which is usually closed to visitors, so that was interesting.  They were playing some really nice techno/ambient music in one of the labs.  There was a nice photographer that I waved at and managed to get myself photographed (and posted on the local newspaper’s website (ok, I was only 1 of about 200 photos they posted, but still!)

Mile 5 was 9:26 and that was where I really had to take it slow to not puke.  Worst I’ve felt during a run since the last marathon and that was a totally different kind of awful.  This was mostly frustrating, rather than horrible.

The last mile we were back on streets and not only streets, but hometown streets.  It’s fun to run races along roads that I regularly run along!  I picked it up slightly and oddly was passing a lot of folks (maybe not that odd since they all had passed me in the last 10 minutes or so), but I was getting more and more excited for the wife because I knew that I was on pace to beat her PR by about 45 seconds or so and she was ahead of me somewhere.

The last 0.23 mile (hey, I ran decent tangents or something to be that close) took me about 2:10 to finish.  Did I mention that it was up a steep hill?  With hairpin turns?  On cobblestones?  I knew exactly what to expect and did start my sprint at exactly the right time and even though my pace seems ridiculously slow, I was still passing folks the whole way up that little hill.  So, I guess that running is still ok, but racing probably isn’t going to happen for a few more weeks, which may be a problem as a have a Tristar 111 tri in a month (1K swim, 100K bike, 10K run).

My mad coaching skilz version: The wife finished in 55 something, smashing her previous 10K time by almost 2 minutes.  She didn’t even look that winded at the end of it, either.  Apparently, she likes downhill races.  I am taking at least 1/2 the credit as I’ve been doing all the coaching for her lately and because staying with me for the first 2 miles forced her to not go out too fast like she usually occasionally does.  She also ran with another woman who was running with her coach and apparently it’s much better for her to hear advice from people during a race who aren’t me 🙂

Comeback kid version:  Check back next year!