Tag Archives: music

Gutenberg Mainz Marathon Race Report

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

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

Abstract

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

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

Continue reading

Running recap and Irish playlist

Oops! How does it happen that I think things are going well, I’ve got everything under control, then all of a sudden it’s February mid-March and I haven’t posted in two and a half weeks almost two months?

Triathlon Running recap:

Well, I’m behaving as a runner these days. A runner who swims once a week and does aikido three times a week, and basically doesn’t bike at all unless it’s for transportation. I’ve heard from the lovely folks at the small town marathon I’m running in May that they are not a BQ race. Then a week later, I heard from them again and their course got certified this month and they ARE a Boston qualifier. Which is great, but I’m never going to be able to qualify for next year anyway as I’d need a 3:45 and that’s probably not going to happen. This one will be a dress rehearsal then for late fall when I only need a 3:55 to qualify for 2016 (apparently, there are benefits to aging, after all).

I ran 115 miles in January. That’s more than I ran in any one month in all of 2013 and more than all but two months of 2012 (the last two months before my last stand-alone marathon). I’m too lazy to go back farther than that. February was 129 despite being horribly sick with norovirus in the middle and missing 4 runs including a long run. This month so far I’ve had a couple of nice long runs (18 on Saturday) and some ok other runs. This month, I’m on my way to over 190 miles.

Maffetone, the short version:

I had a long post about this in my head along with several different graphs I made in Matlab, none of which I feel like going into now, but to sum up: Maffetone sucks. And does not work for me. After two months of solid running at Maffetone heart rate, my pace did not consistently improve at all. After the first week, I went from having to practically walk to somewhat slower than my usual recovery/slow run pace and it never got any better. I suspect that is because my max HR is much higher than the age prediction formulas say it would be. Anyway, the heart rate strap still makes me claustrophobic, I can’t stand running that slowly anymore and screw the maffetone method, I’m going back to what works. I’ve got marathons to run and Boston to qualify for this year.

In other news, the Wife admitted to me that her last 16 mile long run felt so good that she wants to upgrade from the 2/3 marathon distance she was planning on racing in May to the full with me. Success! My evil plan worked!

I have another post describing why I’ve not managed to update in 2 months. I’ll put that one up tomorrrow. (Yes, this is probably the shortest post I’ve made to this blog. That’s the new method. Short and often. Like I like my…ummm….nevermind.

until then, Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

Advent 2013 Friday 13 Edition – Lembas pancakes

Today was interesting. It started with early morning swim class (still the fastest) and more sinus-searing flip turn practice. I’m getting better, slowly. I’ve figured out that if I don’t flip around enough then when I push off the wall, I head straight down to the bottom, so that’s another step forward. My usual gang didn’t even make it to the flip turn stage yet, so I’m really glad I went on Wednesday. From there, I had to jump on the bike and head straight downtown in the rain to pick up a prescription for the liver-destroying drugs I need to keep my bowels from eating themselves because the pharmacist was being somewhat bitchy about expired prescriptions and where exactly on the piece of paper the doctor signed it. Then back home as fast as my poor city bike could go to meet the heating guy who was there to do the yearly inspection of our very efficient, but often broken heating system. He beat me there even though I was a full three minutes early for once. We got inside, I went upstairs to my little workstation and left him to do his thing. Which involved inordinate amounts of under the breath muttering and the occasional German expletive. He had to go down to his truck on three separate occasions, had to talk with both his boss and the makers of the temperamental heating several times and frighten the cats at least twice. And this for a system that wasn’t even broken in the first place. Oh, yes. That was foreshadowing.

By the time he left, he’d had to go down to his truck one more time for the duct tape to fix the bit he had broken, we’d had to turn off a circuit breaker so he could do more fixing of the thing that wasn’t broken and the entire electronic innards were strewn all over the kitchen floor. He’s got to come back at some point to replace the part he broke while fixing the functional heating and…

You know what’s coming, don’t you?

There was no hot water after he left. So yes. Success on all counts. Immediately after I went into righteous indignation mode and made the (long-suffering) Wife write a nastygram to the landlord, she discovered that the hot water didn’t work because the heating guy failed to turn it back on. Someone had a Friday the 13 today. I’m just glad it wasn’t me. The Wife rescued us by pushing a button. She’s quite the handyperson.

The other thing that happened today of course is that the Hobbit part two opened. The one with the dragon and apparently extraneous elves. So since I can’t find my Lembas scones recipe (they started as cookies, but the texture changed as I continued to modify it and I wrote all the changes down by hand somewhere and I can’t find it. Anyway, these are somewhat light, kind of healthy, and definitely filling.

L on Wheels’s Lembas Pancakes

(These are my version of Lembas done as pancakes; they’re dense and a bit nutty and should fill hungry bellies for hours)

Makes: 8 to 9 regular pancakes or 5 Mickey Mouse pancakes, enough for 3 adults or 2 hungry boys

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. Beat egg until fluffy.
  3. Add the other ingredients and mix with spoon until just moistened, not longer. 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. Grease pan with oil and butter – add the oil first, then butter for flavor. Do not substitute margarine for the butter here. If no butter, just use oil. Do not use olive oil.
  5. Pour batter onto heated pan in pancake‐sized dollops. (About 1/4 cup)
  6. Turn pancakes when bubbles pop and the edges are slightly dry.
  7. Store in warm oven until whole batch is done.
  8. Serve with: Fruit, syrup, honey, jam, butter, etc.
Lembas pancakes with fresh fruit, honey, maple syrup and lime juice

Lembas pancakes with fresh fruit, honey, maple syrup and lime juice

Believe it or not, the Wife had never had a Mickey Mouse pancake before I made these for her last year.

Believe it or not, the Wife had never had a Mickey Mouse pancake before I made these for her last year.

Everyone should get to have Mickey Mouse pancakes made especially for them at least once.

Everyone should get to have Mickey Mouse pancakes made especially for them at least once.

Devil-kitty checks out some race swag as Captain Dukie patiently waits his turn.

Devil-kitty checks out some race swag as Captain Dukie patiently waits his turn.

And we got our first Christmas Card today! It's a gorgeous, hand made (cyborg) Qui Gon Jinn from a friend that we will hopefully be visiting in the UK next year.

And we got our first Christmas Card today! It’s a gorgeous, hand made (cyborg) Qui Gon Jinn from a friend that we will hopefully be visiting in the UK next year.

Which makes me think of my favorite Star Wars featured song…

Advent 2013 Day 8 Lazy Sundays

Which for us means that we do the weekly long run sometime in the afternoon after a late breakfast (waffles today) and general lazing about for a couple of hours. So I ran 9 miles this week, all of them today. The Wife ran 23, a much more reasonable number and appropriately spread out throughout the week. Today’s run was nice, through fields, up over a couple of really tall overpasses, along the river and back through the scenic industrial park trail. Incidentally, that last is not meant ironically. They actually have set up a scenic walking/biking trail that borders on the industrial park and various fields and forests on the other side. It comes complete with informative plaques and scenic overlooks. We wore our matching bright orange hoodies and as usual got more than our fair share of smiles and waves. I actually look utterly ridiculous in it, especially when I’ve got the hood up, which I did for most of the run today.

I told you I looked ridiculous in it. This is immediately post-run being greeted at the door by Devil-Kitty

I told you I looked ridiculous in it. This is immediately post-run being greeted at the door by Devil-Kitty. The Wife likes the silly frizz halo that you can see escaping the dorky hood. What? My ears were warm!

Then when we got back, we had a typical lazy meal, made with chicken legs bought fresh from one of the poultry stalls at the weekly farmers market. They actually do taste better than the frozen ones from the store, even the organic ones.

Chicken Rub Chicken

No, this is not an order. Stop it, chickens! Ahem. Serves 2. These are great with a steamed vegetable and some mashed potatoes or baked sweet potatoes. We make this on days when we don’t want to think about what to cook.

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken legs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp paprika powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.
  2. Mix the spices on a small plate. Variation is encouraged – the only things that I always end up putting in are the salt, pepper, and paprika, so if you prefer e.g. cumin, curry powder, or chili powder, feel free to add that to the mix instead. But try the cinnamon at least once – it’s really excellent with chicken!
  3. With your fingertips, rub the spice mixture all over the chicken legs until they’re evenly coated and, for most given versions of spice mixture, red.
  4. Place chicken legs on a on a piece of aluminum foil with the edges folded up, and stick in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for about 25‐30 minutes. If you’re making a potato side dish, it’s a good idea to start the potatoes now – then everything will be ready together!
Today's Chicken Rub Chicken with mashed potatoes (and goat cheese instead of milk or sour cream) and some nice steamed snap peas

Today’s Chicken Rub Chicken with mashed potatoes (and goat cheese replacing some of the usual milk and sour cream) and some nice steamed snap peas

On today’s run, I listened to Paul Simon’s Graceland all the way through from start to finish and was reminded once again of just how excellent this album really is. I’ve been listening to Graceland for 27 years at this point and it still hasn’t gotten old for me.

Here’s Rhymin’ Simon singing it in 1991 at the Concert in Central Park (which I was at, at the expense of a final exam in physics)

And me at Graceland with my traveling companion in 1990 when we did one of those things that you can only do in the invincible stupidity of youth. We spent two months on the road as we drove off to look for America, New York to San Francisco by way of Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans, Austin, the Grand Canyon, the New Mexican desert, and the Pacific ocean.

Me and a friend, going to Graceland, 1990

Me and a friend, going to Graceland, 1990

And cat-hats are the latest trend, really they are. And they do wonders for keeping the ears warm.

Devil-kitty as fascinator. Many thanks to the Bloggess for the inspiration.

Devil-kitty as fascinator. Many thanks to the Bloggess for the inspiration.

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.

 

Advent 2013 Day 2 – Things go swimmingly

Today, on the second day of Advent, I got up early to get to the pool by 7:00 am for the first day of a 2-week Advanced Crawl swimming class at the local pool. There were 7 of us, 2 women and 5 men all with varying amounts of interesting tattoos (one has some very Maori tribal ink down both arms and another has his entire back covered in very Japanese artwork) I was a bit worried about this because I don’t believe in my heart that I’m good enough to be advanced, and because this class is taught in another language on top of it. But the instructor knows me and she said I’d be find, so there I was.

You know how in every class, there’s one person who has to be last? Yeah. That wasn’t me. Actually, it turns out that I can outswim this entire class. The guys started getting out of my way, saying “Ladies first” so that I didn’t catch up with them and pass them. So huzzah for ego-boosting swim class. After the class ended, I stayed around for an extra 15 minutes, just swimming by myself and feeling comfy in the water. I haven’t swum alone since deep in the high volume weeks before Ironman, so it was nice and peaceful not to be looking out for anyone else and having to set an example. I was so peaceful and in the zone that I swam directly into some guy who magically appeared out of nowhere in my lane, backstroking right towards me. Oops! Overall, it was a fun and new experience to be the fast kid in class. I could get used to it!

Possibly, my swimming has improved since I obsessively do about 300 meters of technique exercises at the start of every swim. Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Catch-up Drill
  2. Fist Drill
  3. Zipper Drill
  4. Underarm touch
  5. Tarzan drills

Anyway, might as well stay under the sea for today’s recipe. The other week, the Wife brought home 2 kg of fresh mussels from the local fish shop. We didn’t have any white wine on hand for traditional Moules Marinières so I improvised.

Moules Triathlonières:

Ingredients

  • 2 kg fresh mussels
  • 3 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes in juice (or 1 cup fresh tomatoes, skinned and diced + 1 cup water)
  • 1 Tsp dried thyme
  • 1 Tsp dried basil
  • Fresh or dried parsley to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Rinse the mussels in fresh water and remove beards and barnacles. Discard any obviously dead ones (Like ones that are already open and don’t close again when you poke at them or very obviously broken shells.)
  2. In a large heavy sauce pan or stockpot heat the oil over medium heat
  3. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, try not to burn the garlic.
  4. Add the wine and cook an additional minute
  5. Add the tomatoes plus a cup of additional water
  6. Add the spices
  7. Bring to a low boil
  8. There will be about three waves of mussels. Make sure each wave is wearing the appropriate color swim cap…Cover and steam for 3 to 4 minutes or until most of them have opened. Send them to T1 and add the next batch. Repeat until all mussels are cooked and the broth is rich and tasty.
  9. Add all mussels back into broth (or serve mussels in separate bowls and spoon broth over them)
  10. Serve with garlic bread.

I used the leftover broth the next day to make vegetable soup with spinach, mushrooms, and pasta. It was pretty salty so I had to cut it with more water for the soup.

And now let’s hear from some folks who met someone who’s 6’4″ and full of mussels…

This is especially for the Wife and the theme of rock musicians playing flutes. We’ll continue with that theme tomorrow.

And now for your daily cat. At the Christmas market we got a cat surprise treat bag that contained a catnip treat. The cats turned it into a tiny, sodden pillow soaked in cat spit in short order. While I don’t have any pictures of them fighting over it, falling over in a kitty stupor, and subsequently getting the munchies, I do have a picture of them covered in ribbons, helping us take down last year’s tree.

Captain Dukie and Devil Kitty undecorate the tree. And yes, if you notice, our angel topper is a weeping one. Don't blink!

Captain Dukie and Devil Kitty undecorate the tree. And yes, if you notice, our angel topper is a weeping one. Don’t blink!

Advent Blogging 2013 Day 1

I didn’t think I was going to do any Advent blogging this year because I couldn’t find any Advent calendars as utterly silly as last year’s AC/DC Hell’s Bells one so we have just a regular one this year. I’m also having some trouble getting back into a regular training schedule post Ironman and have subsequently been a bit under the weather for the past few weeks.

But luckily for you, my 5 or so readers, I couldn’t stay away from the Advent blog, so here is Day 1, just a few hours late…

This year, the theme will be food, ultimately culminating in my famous Christmas Eve Lasagne. I’ll throw in some cat pictures, a few musical selections, and maybe a workout or two as well.

Yesterday, on the first day of Advent, the Wife and I ran 9 miles along the river. It was a lovely run which we followed up by a visit to the local Christmas Market where we supported the local clubs and charities by buying homemade gifts for people, eating fried potatoes and steamed doughballs, and drinking Gluhwein out of coffee mugs. All in all, a good day.

Advent Recipe #1 is the soup that the Wife made on Friday, the leftover portion which I am going to eat for lunch today. It is vegetarian and lactose and gluten free 🙂

The Wife’s Asian Fusion Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 medium‐sized Hokkaido pumpkin or similar orange squash or pumpkin
  • 2 cups (500 ml) vegetable broth
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • 2 Tbsp tamarind (2 teaspoons if using concentrate)
  • 1 can coconut milk (400 ml or 14 oz)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Preparation

  1. Strip the pumpkin of its skin and seeds, chop into small chunks.
  2. Crush the garlic and sauté lightly in olive oil at the bottom of a large‐ish pot.
  3. Add pumpkin, veggie broth, ginger and tamarind and simmer for about 20 minutes until the pumpkin chunks are tender.
  4. Add salt and coconut milk, then mix with stick blender until smooth and unbelievably orange.
  5. Serve with chives or cilantro on top. Enjoy.

And as ever, cat pictures to warm your day:

Picture of a white cat on a yoga mat

Captain Dukie stretches with me after a run.

And to start your December off right, here’s Elvis Costello with a song that has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, but it happened to show up on yesterday’s running podcast (Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me with Chris Hadfield) and if I have to be earwormed, then you get to be as well, after all it is the season of giving…