Tag Archives: Ironman 2013

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.

 

The flooding earlier this week along the Main

This is going to be relatively short on words today. I was out with my camera on Monday about 12 hours after the Main River crested. I ran on Sunday evening when it was close to the maximum flooding and couldn’t get through on any of the usual running trails by either river that I live near. On today’s run, I had to detour about a mile in order to get past one part that is still flooded on the Nidda, but otherwise the Nidda trail on both sides was almost completely dry for about 6 miles. Today I ran 12.5 miles and swam 2700 meters and it felt like a good training day, but not especially difficult and not at all like 2/3 of a half ironman. Today, I both ran and swam faster than I did at Eagleman in 2011. Apparently, there is something to this Ironman training plan after all.

After two weeks of cancellation due to ridiculously cold temperatures, I’ve got my first open water swim tomorrow with the local triathlete group. The lake is about 58 degrees F, so I should have a report about gasp reflexes and panic in the water tomorrow night. Sometime soon, I’ll possibly post some pictures of my somewhat new and slightly improved triathlon body. Seriously, you should see the muscles in my back these days.

Anyway, here is some photographic evidence of the flooding in my little part of Germany, which is nowhere near as bad as it is in other parts of Germany/Europe this week.

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.

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? 

Pros: 

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/

Cons:

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)