Tag Archives: Ironman Frankfurt

Advent 2013 Day 7 No Bake Cheesecake

We were at the Christmas Market today, buying gifts and drinking Glühwein, thus the late and slightly slurred post. I failed spectacularly to run today, but I did manage to get to Aikido class. And I haven’t taken cough medicine in more than 14 hours so I think maybe I’m done with the cold. The Wife, however ran 14 miles so far this week and we’re heading out for a long run tomorrow, so she’ll have about 25 miles all together and I’m her coach, so I claim her miles. I can do that, right?

I’m also writing up one of her recipes that she made for me yesterday. So basically, this post is entirely the fault of the Wife, thank Santa that I have her to do the heavy lifting while I sit here hiccuping Glühwein in the catbird seat. Speaking of Thurber (who really did come up twice in today’s conversations) did you know that Ben Stiller’s making the Secret Life of Walter Mitty into a movie? The posters are everywhere here. I just wish it was an actor that I liked a bit better.

Anyway, I’m warm and full of Poffertjes (favorite Christmas Market food along with Dampfnudeln, Kartoffelpuffer, and big cones of freshly cut and cooked french fries. There’s a lot of carbs in Christmas in these parts.) and cheesecake and it’s getting late, so here’s the Wife’s Cheesecake recipe. It uses quark, though, which is nearly impossible to get in the US. I’ve scanned a bunch of websites and it seems that you can make your own or substitute mascarpone . Other than the finding of the quark (sometimes – according to a non-functioning web site – labelled as fromage blanc in the US, I have no idea how it differs from actual French fromage blanc, but it’s worth a shot if you can find it, I guess) this is a very straightforward and incredibly tasty recipe that involves no ovens.

Wife’s Cheesecake

  • 1 pkg hard cookies like graham crackers, shortbread, etc. (Use your judgement here. I don’t remember the weight of the package we used this time, but it was pretty small and yielded probably a cup or so of crumbs.)
  • 1/2 stick (4 Tbsp) melted butter
  • 3/4 cup heavy (whipping cream) (150 ml)
  • 3/4 cup sour cream (150 ml)
  • 3/4 cup low-fat quark or mascarpone cheese (150 ml)
  • 4 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp coriander


  1. Crush the cookies in a plastic bag using a rolling pin, hammer, meat tenderizer mallet, baseball bat, or similar
  2. Mix cookie crumbs and melted butter and press firmly into the bottom of an 8″ x 8″ baking pan (If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that the last 3 recipes all used an 8″ x 8″ baking pan. That is because our kitchen is small and we have very few different size pans. Our 8″ x 8″ brownie pan gets a lot of use. It’s definitely not a unitasker! What’s a unitasker? Googling it gives you the wikipedia page for Alton Brown. He’s a cool guy. The answer is on that page somewhere.) using a piece of waxed paper and a bit of brute force. You can also use a slightly smaller pan to press it down for a nice, even crust.
  3. Whip the heavy cream until <S>it cries for mercy</S> it is fluffy
  4. Mix sour cream, quark, honey, and coriander together
  5. Fold the sour cream mixture into the whipped cream
  6. Spread mixture evenly over the crust
  7. Refrigerate at least two hours until set
  8. Eat and enjoy
Captain Dukie stands guard against nefarious cheesecake nabbers. Also, note our cool coffee table. It's a cheap IKEA model with a glass top where we've finally figured out what to do with some of our old race numbers!

Captain Dukie stands guard against nefarious cheesecake nabbers. Also, note our cool coffee table. It’s a cheap IKEA model with a glass top where we’ve finally figured out what to do with some of our old race numbers! (Also, now you know what the L stands for if you hadn’t already google-stalked any of my race results…

Why did I post this video? Were you paying attention to Alton Brown’s biography?

Until tomorrow, dear internet.

Season recap 2013

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

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

Me doing my best impression of Daniel Craig as 007

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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.

The week in Tri: Mondegreens, Roland, and the Frankfurt Ironman bike course

Yesterday Thursday was (another) (somewhat) long bike ride. Here’s how that went down:

In the morning, I said we were going for a nice three hour ride (like a three hour tour but no Gilligan) then changed tack midway through (see what I did there with the nautical reference?) and decided we should do my 5 hour long ride instead because mostly cloudy is still partly sunny (look, another pop culture reference, but without boats. Well, there was one boat. And shrieking eels.) and that was the best the weather would have for us for the next three days. I had cleverly and sneakily packed extra gels and a spare Powerbar for just such a possibility.  Luckily, my wife is not only patient and kind, she is also a hell of a bike rider and even with a slightly sprained ankle was game for it.

We rode the Frankfurt Ironman bike course which has the advantage of being clearly marked all year around with permanent signage. Still managed to miss a sign in the middle and ended up doing a bit as an out and back instead of a loop, but whatever. This is the third time this year that I’ve ridden part of the Ironman course. I’m trying to convince myself that an average speed of around 15 mph over that course on a weekday with traffic and stoplights will really translate to more like an 18 mph pace or so during the real thing. Yes. I’m certain of it.

Pretty road bikes are pretty

This picture of our road bikes is not from Thursday, but the ride we did last month of the course, but I forgot to take a picture last time.

Things that were memorable about this ride:

1. Mondegreens

Mondegreen the first:  At the horrifying cross street downtown where we have the choice of a really baffling and bizarre bicycle cloverleaf or a straightforward car lane with no shoulder and lots of honking trucks. “Did you just ask me if I wanted Apartheid Chocolate?”

“What the heck is apartheid chocolate?”

“I have no idea. The stuff you don’t eat when you ain’t gonna play Sun City ?” Or maybe this?

Mondegreen the second: When passing the McDonalds just past the horrifying cross street, necessary because of the urgent need to pee, probably resulting from the truck-honking choice at the intersection that does not actually, in fact, support segregated sweets. “Goggles!” “What do you need your goggles for? We’re biking not swimming.” “No, not goggles, McDonalds!” “McDonalds? Are you hungry already?” With legs crossed in desperation,”Please, will you just watch the bikes?”

2. As mentioned above: “Honey, how do you feel about 80 miles instead of the planned on 40?” “I’m ok with that, the weather’s nice and I feel pretty good.” I totally win at Wife!

3. Roland. When riding the ridiculously well marked Frankfurt Ironman course, there is a lot of left over road art from the previous year. Roland was apparently going for a sub-11 hour race last year. He had fans. I hope he made it. I immediately and irrevocably had Warren Zevon’s Thompson Gunner inhabiting all my auditory circuits  until the Wife started reciting German doggerel at me: Roland der Riese, Am Rathaus zu Bremen, Steht er ein Standbild, stetig und stark. (Actually, I just looked it up and the last line appears to actually be: standhaft und wacht.) It translates to: Roland the giant, by the Bremen town hall, A statue he stands, steady and strong. (Or steady and watchful) Anyway, they’re talking about this statue of Roland, who is now on my list of things to see in Germany this year.

4. The wrong turn (also as mentioned above). Yes, on a clearly sign-posted route that I had just biked 3 days previously, I managed to miss a sign and get us partially lost. Or in the explatoray portion of the ride, as I like to say. Luckily, I recognized the Elvis intersection (which can be seen here) From behind and we managed to get back on the right road after only a small hill.

Only an idiot can miss these.

One of the very clearly marked signs for the Ironman bike route. Clearly, this is not the sign that I failed to spot. This one happens to be just past the delightful half mile of uphill cobblestones on the course. See the picture of our bikes for an idea of the road surface.

5. On bike saddles and my girl bits. So, the new tri bike I got about a month and a half ago came with this really nice Fizik Arione 2 because my bike shop guy likes me and happened to have one laying around the shop. He said that it should be very comfortable and most of the serious triathletes are riding them. He’s probably not wrong about either of those things, but the truth is, it was making my girl bits hurt so much that I was becoming scarily adept at shoving a hand down my bike shorts during rides to try to alleviate some of the stress and pain. I was also losing the ability to focus on anything but the pain after about 40 miles or so. After 5 weeks of trying to make myself adapt to this saddle that clearly wasn’t working for me despite the fact that it is a good saddle and ought to have worked, I remembered the first rule of riding: If the saddle is uncomfortable, get a new one. Now. So I changed out my road bike saddle (a Specialized Ruby Pro with a very strategically placed cutout) onto my tri bike. Wow, what a difference. The birds sang more melodically, the flowers smelled more sweetly, the colors around me were more vibrant, and finally, finally I was able to concentrate on something other tha5800n the pain in my crotch. Damn you bike guy for having me convinced that there was something wrong with me for not being comfortable on the saddle, instead of just finding me a new saddle at the time of bike fitting when I said I didn’t thing it was going to work. Damn me for forgetting that listening to my body is more important than listening to other people tell me what my body should want. Anyway, problem very thankfully solved.

During the ride, I consumed two bottles of water (one with a NUUN tab in it), 4 Powerbar gels, and 3/4 of a Powerbar only three months past the expiry date. It was just about enough for the ride, but would need to be about doubled for Ironman.

I’ve spent the rest of the week biking, running, and swimming:

Bike rides: Total number: 4, Total miles: 212

Runs: Total number: 5, Total miles: 33

Swims: Total number: 2, Total meters: 5800

Note that for the second week in a row, swim night at the lake has been cancelled because it’s too fucking cold to swim in it and that’s why there are only two swims on the board, third one was cancelled and I failed to reschedule.

Tomorrow I’ll post a pictorial of how all my favorite runs are flooded out because in addition to it being too fucking cold for June, it’s also been raining in ark-building quantities for most of the four day weekend.

And have some bonus cat pictures. This is Captain Dukie’s secret identity as the Hairball Avenger, who saves us regularly from the evil machinations of zipties, bed sheets, and his own tail. You’ll have to ask him why his cape is pink.

captaindukieisunimpressed catsigh ihearthecatsignal

Oops, suddenly it’s mid-February

…and I haven’t posted my wrap up from last year yet or any of the absolutely fascinating things I’d meant to post from this year so far. I’ll try to be a better blogger in the future….

Only a month late, here’s my wrap –up of 2012:

2012 Year in Review

2012 was a great year in some respects, not so good in others.  It was my first full year of marriage to my wonderful Wife, which was great. It was also a year that I was sick with a pretty significant flare-up of Ulcerative Colitis and associated problems (like anemia) for most of the spring and summer, going into fall. So without further ado, here’s my 2012 race wrap up so that I can move on to the more fun posts like:

–       A pictorial of an exploratory run in Spain in January while German was covered in snow

–       My kitchen renovation – it is beautiful and efficient, let me show you it

–       How to succeed at swim seminars without really trying (actually that’s not true, I was trying as hard as my little arms could pull me)

–       The hash I’ve made of trying to make my own training plan for this year

–       Cinnamon buns of love

–       Chapatis – easier than you think

–       Lembas pancakes – healthy and cashing in on Hobbit-mania (maybe next will be Die Hard Donuts)

–       Eggplant chili

–       Weekly training updates

–       Why I have to be crazy to train for Ironman along with doing aikido three times a week.

–       But look, despite all the chili, cinnamon rolls, and chapatis I’m making in my beautiful newly redesigned, significantly more efficient kitchen, all this training is making me seriously buff!

All these and more after I finally get this wrap-up out of the way.

So then, in 2012 I raced in 5 triathlons, 5 running races, and did a few other significant things.

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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.


So, today is the day that I realize that there are only 30 weeks to go until Ironman and I completely freak out and can’t sleep because I have managed to convince myself that the month I’ve just taken it easy post-marathon was way too long, all my fitness is gone, I’m already behind the 8-ball and all hope is essentially lost.  This is partly because I found one 36 week plan and realized that I can no longer choose that plan as an option. There are literally hundreds of 13 to 28 week plans that I am still clearly capable of following and even Joe Friel himself says 23 is a good number of weeks and that even gives me 7 weeks of base building and strength work at the gym before it even starts. I’m going to have to get over these bouts of training panic because I can’t spend too many nights not sleeping over things like this.  I had a pretty good season that ended on a couple of great races, I’m healthy again, I needed these few weeks of non-plan based recovery and now I need to start off-season basebuilding with a clear heart and calm mind.  If by some miracle, you happen to stumble across this and have already done your first Ironman, feel free to tell me that I’m worrying about nothing and not helping myself at all by doing this.

This weekend I’ll post a recap of the last season (all the races I never wrote or finished the race reports for in one easy post) and the first part of my training plan for the winter and next season – the year of the Ironman. In July, you can help me plan which beach I’ll be sleeping on for a week as reward for whatever happens on that first Sunday. Also because it will be my birthday. To clarify, my birthday is in July, not this weekend.  The IM is also in July. The plan is to be done this weekend.