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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.

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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:

Continue reading

Advent 2013 Day 16 do all the things

We leave in a few hours for New York, I still haven’t finished yesterday’s post and I had a bit of pre-travel panic today. Swim class was great but things went downhill fast after that. To help counter that, some Christmas spirits:

Eggnog the Alton Brown way

Hot buttered Rum

Peppermint Patty

Glogg

And if you didn’t grok the title of today’s post, this’ll help.

Maybe he's born with it. Maybe it's Meowbelline.

Maybe he’s born with it. Maybe it’s Meowbelline.

Advent 2013 Day 5 still sick and also tired

Which reminds me of a line from one of my favorite Bill Cosby standup routines.

I need to get to bed because I got a swim class in 7 hours. I got home from aikido to discover that the internet had exploded with news of Nelson Mandela’s death. He was a  great man and also a good man and this sad news has kind of taken the wind out of my sails so today will be short.

First, tomorrow at 9 am EST, tune in here for a live stream of Christmas cats (this weirdness is explained here by NPR). Interestingly, I have actually adopted cats from these nice folks many years ago when I lived on LI.

I haven’t made mine this year yet, but I can’t think of anything more heartwarming and able to keep the darkness away than homemade fudge that’s so stupidly easy that anyone can make it:

Ridiculously Easy Fudge

Ingredients:

  •  1 can (14 oz.) Condensed Milk
  • 14 oz. baking chocolate (semi-sweet, milk, or white)
  • Mix-ins – possibilities include:
  • Vanilla (1-2 tsp.), Walnuts and marshmallows

Mix in examples (but really this is up to you, that’s what makes this so much fun!):

  • Red wine (about 2 Tbsp) and dried cranberries
  • Vanilla and candied ginger
  • Peppermint extract (1-2 tsp) and crushed candy canes
  • White chocolate, pistachios, rose water (2 tsp)
  • Crumbled bacon and a dusting of sea salt on top (I’d use dark chocolate for this one)

Directions:

  1. Line an 8 x 8 inch square pan with aluminum foil
  2. Break chocolate into pieces (Use semi dark and milk in any combination or use white chocolate on its own.)
  3. Combine chocolate and condensed milk in a microwave safe bowl
  4. Microwave on high for about 1 minute and stir
  5. Microwave in increments of 30 seconds to 1 minute (depends on microwave wattage) until only a few small chocolate chunks can be seen and then stir until these melt and chocolate and milk mixture is smooth and shiny
  6. Add in mix-ins of your choice.
  7. Stir until combined
  8. pour into prepared pan
  9. Refrigerate at least 4 hours
  10. Cut into 1 inch chunks
  11. Store in an airtight container

Today’s music (in addition to the Christmas music accompanying the livestream of the cats in Christmas sweaters linked above) is for Paul and all the percussionists out there. Yes, they’re playing the ice on Lake Baikal:

The boys playing in my favorite marathon swag, the 25th anniversary backpack from the 2011 Frankfurt Marathon.

The boys playing in my favorite marathon swag, the 25th anniversary backpack from the 2011 Frankfurt Marathon.

 

New Years Resolutions 2013: Really this is my goal post for the year

This is my New Year Resolution post for 2013.  I’ve started it off with some rules for making resolutions that I learned at my last job. Feel free to use these rules to make a set of goals for yourself, or to just think about how to write goals (without constantly moving the goal posts ans I am wont to do) that are achievable and reasonable.  There are a lot of things on my list because I have a lot of things that I want to remember to do and think about in the coming year and I plan to use this list to keep track of them and to refer to regularly throughout the year.

Rules for making resolutions:

  1. It shall be a concrete goal (i.e. no “I want to be a better person” type goals)
  2. It shall be trackable in some way. Progress shall be able to be noted
  3. It shall be achievable and checked by a disinterested party for reasonableness and achievability

Types of resolutions:

  1. Daily (near-daily) items. These are small changes to make in order to form healthy habits. In this context, health can be physical, intellectual, emotional, or social.  Examples of socially healthy habits to form are doing the dishes before bed daily, or folding the laundry when it is dry and not waiting for my wife to fold it.
  2. Weekly items are things that should be considered on a regular basis, again with a goal of healthy habit-forming, but also a goal of self-improvement in any of the above categories.
  3. Long term goals for the year.  Self explanatory.

Resolution assessments:

–       Should be done periodically throughout the year and adjustments made to the goals based on these goal assessment and progress and any changes (life events, etc) that may impact them.

–       Should be honest and reflect both positive progress and stumbling blocks.

My Goals for 2013, summary:

Below are my resolutions in the above categories.  Note that I very much dislike the word resolution and would prefer to call these short and long term goals coupled with ongoing things of which to be more mindful. Note that I did not include any negative goals here. I am focused on what I will do, and positive changes that I can make rather than negative aspects. This list is here to help me, not to make me feel bad about myself. Reassessment and revision is an important step in any big systems engineering project.

Category 1 Near-daily: These are the easiest to write down and should also be the easiest to do.

  1. Floss.  I started this one in October so maybe it no longer counts as a 2013 New Year’s resolution, but I am still flossing almost daily and my teeth and gums feel really nice these days. It also only takes a few minutes, makes me feel that I am doing something good for my health, is actually good for my health, and has no bad aspects as far as I can tell.  In fact, googling “cons of flossing” results only in discussions of which type of floss (or waterpik) is better, rather than any negative aspects of the act of flossing itself.  So this year I will continue to floss on a near-daily basis (missing a day every once in a while is considered to be within the noise and not a reason for self castigation or flagellagion. This goal is physical (for my health) and emotional (makes me feel good).
  2. Fold the laundry when it is dry.  Part of the challenge of living in a small apartment with no balcony and no clothes dryer is that our clean, wet clothes end up on a big rack in the middle of the living room. While I am quite adept at starting loads of laundry and pretty good at taking the damp clothes out of the washer and hanging them up to dry, I often skip this last step entirely. While I would like to be a person who does all the things, I’m not, and I understand that changes must be deliberate and not impossible to effect. That is why I am choosing laundry over dishes. I’m not sure I’d succeed at any goal that stated, “Do all the dishes before going to bed.” That would be setting myself up for failure and that is not the point of this exercise. So, folding the laundry. This goal is emotional and social (makes me feel good and also is something I will do to help the wife as we take care of our home together).
  3. Footwork. This is mainly martial arts, but can also apply to running, biking, and swimming.  Each year, I try to pick one aspect of training and focus on that specific thing for the year.  For example, one year it was posture (I probably need to redo that one sometime soon).  This year the focus will be more mindful and exact footwork as I have a tendency to just let my feet land wherever they happen to be at the end of my legs. In swimming, this will help with kicking, running will also be affected by thinking more about foot strike and turnover and by martial arts, I will work on removing a lot of those extra little steps that I tend to add everywhere. This goal is physical and intellectual (Making me think about the physical a little more but with a specific and directed focus.)
  4. Go to bed. I have been having more difficulty sleeping lately than usual and for some of the big goals for this year and one of my worst habits is falling asleep downstairs on the couch instead of in bed.  So, at night, when the wife brushes her teeth and gets ready for bed, I will also brush my teeth and get ready for bed. I will consider this to be successful if I get ready for bed within 30 minutes of her going to bed.  This does not mean that I won’t watch TV on the iPad in bed, read in bed, take the computer and write blog posts in bed, or engage in other activities to help me fall asleep or quiet my mind when I can’t fall asleep, but I will be in the right place to fall asleep at the right time of day. This goal is physical (better for my health, important for triathlon training), intellectual (brain function is improved by getting enough sleep), emotional (the bed is comfortable and is a soothing place to be, I don’t feel guilty for not joining my spouse that I love and love being near), and social (I will disturb her less with quiet reading in bed than with leaving all the lights on, making noise in the bathroom, and all the other things that happen in the middle of the night when I don’t get to bed at a reasonable hour.

Category 2 Weekly: Some of these are easy, some are difficult, some appear easy but aren’t, some appear difficult, but aren’t. It is left to the reader as an exercise to determine which is which.

  1. Clean weapons. All my wooden weapons that I use regularly shall be checked over and oiled and wiped down once a week. Sunday, Monday, or Wednesday are the best days for this.  Wooden weapons that I don’t use regularly and my iaito should be wiped down and cleaned once a month. (Emotional goal).
  2. Martial arts practice. Three times a week. This can be as simple as 10 minutes of sword cuts in the morning. This goal may move to the daily category when I reassess in a months. 10 minutes a day is barely more than flossing. (Physical goal).
  3. Science. Regardless of other work that I am doing for super secret goal #1, read one science paper a week. This includes reading the paper, and writing a short summary of it. (Intellectual goal).
  4. German. Read 2 articles in German every week. These can be about anything and be of any length.  Listen to 1 radio program a week in German. Write at least 200 words in German every week. These can be emails, notes about the articles, letters, blog posts, anything as long as it is in German. (Intellectual goal).
  5. Writing. Blog, fiction, science writing, whatever. At a minimum, 1000 words a week that isn’t just emails and Facebook updates. (Intellectual, emotional, and social goal).
  6. Marriage. Plan and do something every week together that is not a sporting activity.  This can be cooking together, going out to dinner, going for walks, going to the movies, museums, bike rides (touring, not training), sauna, other, really anything that we enjoy together without the internet and without a training plan. (Emotional and social goal.)

Category 3 Long Term: My major concrete goals for the year. I’ve put a completion month after each. I don’t think this list should be longer than 12 items, one for each month, although it doesn’t have to be that long.

  1. Ironman Frankfurt.  July 7.
  2. Suspended sediment paper. End of January.
  3. Frankfurt Marathon in less than 4 hours. October 27.
  4. Prepare for B2 or C2 German exam. (note that taking the exam is not important, but that getting to the point where taking either of them would not be a problem to pass is the goal. It’s still unclear which, if any, I might need and since they cost a lot to take, I might not actually take either one). March.
  5. Get the cats to the vet for their annual check up. August.
  6. Get myself to the vet for annual check up. September.
  7. Get matching wedding rings. Through some unforeseen events, we currently don’t have matching ones and we would like to. December.
  8. Get the fillings that the dentist says need replacing replaced. April.
  9. Living room and bathroom revision.  I finished the kitchen then lost focus. June.
  10. Super secret goal. More on this later.

That’s it for me.  Happy New Year, I hope that it started well. I’ll post my 2012 reflections in the next few days.

Devil-cat is sad that he has to wait 358 days until Christmas again. His resolution is to get up before dawn every day and convince us that he must be fed before the first rays of light reach the bedroom window.

Devil-cat is sad that he has to wait 358 days until Christmas again. His resolution is to get up before dawn every day and convince us that he must be fed before the first rays of light reach the bedroom window.

Race report: Frankfurt Silversterlauf 10km

A race report the day of the actual race? Unheard of! And did I mention that I’m still flossing daily, too?

Today was the Frankfurt Silvesterlauf, the annual New Year’s Eve run through the forest by the sports stadium. Let me tell you about the swag for this race.  There is none.  You pay 10 Euros for the privilege of running 10 km with about 1,900 other runners and there is no tech shirt, no medal, no beer mug, or belt buckle at the end. If you are the fastest man or woman, you get a free airline ticket to wherever you want in Europe. That’s it. Which is actually, well, it’s fine.  We don’t really need any more tech shirts, we’ve got two drawers devoted to them as it is, medals would just get added to the ever growing piles of them and if I manage to miraculously chop 15 minutes off my time (note sarcastic eye-roll here.  The written word is hard to convey nuanced emoting sometimes) the free airline ticket would be nice.

I did get an excellent year-end swag from this race, though. Another PR! And a big one, too.  I haven’t been particularly conscientious about racing 10k’s or remembering how fast I ran them.  According to the internet, the fastest 10k I previously ran was in 2009 the week after my first half marathon and was an incredibly muddy trail run in the rain.  I did that one in 56:26.  The second fastest stand alone 10k I ever ran was this spring the day after an iron injection while I was both anemic and nauseous from the iron.  That was 56:32. Last summer, I posted my fastest timed 10k time at the end of an Olympic distance triathlon and that was 54:13. So, with that setup, it would have been almost impossible for me not to PR today and I am happy to report that I was gloriously, statistically unremarkable today.

Race day started as it usually does with me getting the runs and needing to poop several times before leaving the house.  And needing to pee four times after arriving at the race start. What was unusual was that we were 7 minutes early for our train and didn’t have to run a single step before the actual race if we didn’t want to. We chatted with a lovely bi-national couple (he was from Scotland, she was German) on the train, which is also completely not unusual for me.  I have one of those faces or something. Strangers always talk to me.  Like the Swede at the marathon this year. Or the random guy who started quizzing me on bike locks and where to get them the other day at the farmers’ market. When you spend time with me, you just get used to talking with lots of strangers. It’s a perk, really.

It rained like crazy most of the night last night and on and off all morning, so I was a bit worried about what to wear for the race and especially what to wear on my feet.  While I have 4 or 5 pairs of running shoes (ok, 6) in current rotation, none of them are particularly useful for cold, wet races that are partially on paved trails and partially on dirt trails.  I’ve only got one pair of actual trail runners and they’re so big and bulky that it’s like running with combat boots on. And since I’ve started running mostly in my Pure Flows, the heel rise on my trail runners makes them feel like wearing  a pair of Jimmy Choo’s or something. So they were out. My usual race shoes, K-Swiss Blade Light Runs have drainage holes in the bottoms which are great for triathlons in summer, but for muddy trails, not so much. I ended up going with the Pure Flows because they’re my most comfortable shoe at the moment, even if they are rather oddly colored. There was another woman in the changing room who had the exact same shoes on. She was German. Or a lesbian, sometimes it’s hard to tell.  Anyway, she looked fast and serious. I passed her in the first kilometer /glee!

OK, on to the reporting of the actual race.  I knew that we were too far back in the 50:00 to 1 hour corral, but there were almost 2000 runners and it was truly impossible to make our way any farther forward. This race is annoying in that in about 700 meters, the relatively wide, paved road it starts on narrows to a running trail through the woods where it’s really difficult to pass people. So, my first mile and a half was significantly slower than intended. I learned my lesson last year at the half marathon which starts from the same place and where I left my whole race in that first mile frantically trying to pass people in order to hit my pace.  I just stayed left, stayed relaxed, and hoped I would be able to make it up later when the traffic jam cleared. Spoiler alert! I did!

Times for miles one and two: 8:43, 8:26. My goal was to run just under 8:30 miles and come in around 52 or 53 minutes, so I was a bit worried that I had some time to make up.

The next two miles were gently sloping down hills and I spent them chasing down other runners and passing them.  When I got to the point where there were fewer women around me, I started concentrating more on them. The weather was perfect, cool and not raining. It was almost sunny once or twice. I was wearing the squirrel shirt, arm warmers, capri length tights, and my calf compression sleeves.  Most of the folks around me were wearing considerably more. I was a bit cold at the start, but I know that I’ll be ultimately happier when I’m not overheating at the end and I was warm by mile 3 and had my arm warmers pushed down by mile 4.  Seriously, I don’t know how all those people in jackets and hats survived without heat stroke. Anyway, I passed a lot of other people, both women and men, and didn’t get passed my a single woman from the start to mile 5 or so.

Miles three and four were 7:57 and 7:59, respectively.  Note the sub-8 minute miles that I ran like a boss right in the middle of a 10 k race without freaking out or worrying or anything.  I got to the 5km timing mat in 26:15, so exactly on course for a 52:30, right where I wanted to be.

Mile five was the second of the three hills (the first was unremarkable and happened in mile 2) and I slowed down a bit to 8:24. I was on pace for an 8:08 mile until that hill, but it was a fun hill. Right after it was when I started to feel tired in the legs and regret slightly those fast miles in the middle. This was also where I got passed by Inga with the blond braids.  Really, I have no idea what her name was, but she was strong, had amazing calf muscles (I know, I got to watch them from behind for the rest of the race, but they got kind of far away towards the end).

Mile 6 was 8:06 and still passing people. The third hill is at the end of mile 6 and it was also a fun hill. According to the wife, that is because I am a masochist. I sprinted the last 0.26 mile (my tangents weren’t too bad today!) at a pace of 7:38 and finished the whole shebang in 51:31, which is a whopping big PR! Merry New Year to me! Running is significantly more fun when I’m healthy and uninjured at the same time. I highly recommend it as a race strategy.  I finished 118 out of 533 women (there were over 1300 men running, yet another instance of the weird German/European bias against women in road races and triathlons.  This race in Washington, DC would have had about an even split between men and women) and 22 out of 90 in my age category.

Just as I finished, an older guy that I’d been running with and pacing for a few kilometers started talking to me. He wants me to join his running club and gave me a banana.  He also congratulated me on my PR and I barely escaped his conversation in time to see the Wife finish in around 57 minutes as she said she would.  Actually, I failed utterly to see the Wife finish as she as usual overestimated her finishing time and underestimated herself.  But just when I was starting to worry that something happened to her, she came up from behind me, tea already in hand. She finished in 56:15, not a PR (Her 10k PR comes from a net downhill course on a perfect running day and was until today faster than my 10k PR) but a course PR of over a minute.  She was also happy, ran negative splits, and basically ran a great race.  Other than missing her at the finish, it was a great day all around.

In conclusion, running is fun when I’ve trained properly, am fit, and don’t let my brain wreck a perfectly good race. Also, my favorite squirrel shirt has been upgraded to my lucky squirrel shirt.  I’ve worn it for my last three races and PR’d at all of them! Skvörl! I’m thinking of getting a more permanent version with the German pronunciation key on it for me and all my cheer-me-on team for Ironman Frankfurt this year.  So there you go.  Swag for you if you come to Frankfurt on July 7th and give me moral support! And you don’t even have to run a race to get it.

woman wearing a shirt with a squirrel on it

The Wife made this for me the night before the Frankfurt Marathon, Best Luckiest (and still best) race shirt ever 🙂

Gratuitous picture! Devil-cat using his cute-camouflage to blend into his surroundings.

Gratuitous picture! Devil-cat using his cute-camouflage to blend into his surroundings.

Advent Day 23 Christmas cats

For today, the penultimate day of advent in 2012, I talk about swimming, pancakes, the ’86 Mets, the Boss, Prince, and my cats. So, pretty much business as usual.

Swam 3000 meters today in 1:23.  For me, that’s good. It felt like it took a long time and afterwards I was tired enough that I cancelled my last workout of the week – a bike workout I was supposed to do tonight on the trainer.  Instead, the Wife and I will eat good food, watch MST3K (in honor of the 3k swim!) and watch the cats continue to destroy the tree.  Note that this year all our ornaments are made from metal, paper, or plastic so they can’t actually do all that much damage. My tree decorating has changed dramatically since we’ve acquired these particular cats. Lucky for them that they’re so adorable when they wreak havoc.

In Advent Calendar news, Lindt warned us that in order for miracles to happen, we must have faith, or in the immortal words of Tug McGraw, “Ya gotta believe!”. Yes I remember the ’86 Mets (and oddly, I thought of Mookie Wilson first and had to google to remember that Tug McGraw was the originator of the catchphrase. I don’t remember  the ’73 Mets, I was too young for that season).  We both guessed the AC/DC logo correctly today even though it looks a bit more like RC/DC this time.

The Wife, choosing the tastier chocolate, showing both her good judgement and her elegant hand.

The Wife, choosing the tastier chocolate, showing both her good judgement and her elegant hand.

For breakfast today, since it was Sunday, I made pancakes. I call these Lembas pancakes because they are a variation on my Lembas waybread recipe and contain some things that I imagine Elves would cook with. Also, we are going to see the Hobbit this week.

Lembas pancakes with spelt, coconut, and walnuts.  They're good with honey, maple syrup, or jam.

Lembas pancakes with spelt, coconut, and walnuts. They’re good with honey, maple syrup, or jam (but maybe not starfish and coffee).

Here’s my Lembas Pancakes recipe:

Makes 8 to 9 medium sized pancakes

Ingredients

–       1 Egg
–       3/4 cup flour (white or whole wheat)
–       1/4 spelt flour
–       1/3 cup dried coconut flakes
–       1 Tbsp. sugar (white, brown, or raw)
–       3/4 cup milk (low fat)
–       2 Tbsp oil (canola or similar)
–       3 tsp. baking powder
–       1/4 cup chopped walnuts (or other nuts)

Preparation

  1. Preheat frying pan over medium heat with oil (canola or similar; not olive).  Preheat oven to about 120°C or 250°F or so with an oven-proof plate already inside to keep pancakes warm.
  2. In a bowl – beat egg by hand
  3. Add rest of ingredients and mix until just moist – not too much more. If consistency is too thick, add a bit more milk, if too thin, add a bit more white flour. Too thick would be if a metal spoon stands up straight and never falls over, too thin would be if that same spoon meets no resistance and falls straight over.  Anything in between and this recipe will work with varying degrees of pancake height.
  4. Add a bit of butter to the oil in the pan for taste.  If desired. Feel free to skip the butter, but it’s not really unhealthy and it tastes good so you might as well add it.  Do not add margarine.  Margarine is unhealthy and should be avoided at all costs in favor of butter and extra virgin olive oil.
  5. Drop by large spoonfuls in hot frying pan
  6. Cook until bubbles break or light brown on bottom
  7. Flip and cook until edges are no longer moist and pancakes are light brown on both sides
  8. Keep warm in oven until ready to serve.
  9. Serve with honey, maple syrup, jam, and butter

One of my favorite Christmas songs done by a New Jersey born rock megastar (and Santa’s almost here, one more day!):

And (the artist formerly known as) Prince with Muppets 🙂

And now, a flipbook of Devil-cat, Captain Dukie and the tree: