Tag Archives: racing

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 18 Let Sleeping Triathletes Lie

In Advent Calendar news, guessed wrong today, it was lightning bolt, not AC/DC logo as predicted…as for music, try the NPR All Songs Considered Holiday Party here.

In useful things to have bookmarked in your browser news:

  1. My favorite online unit converter for food: here
  2. The recipe for Spitzbuben that I’m going to use this year.  I’ve never made them before so it’s somewhat experimental pending tomorrow’s outcome.
  3. McMillan running has updated their pace calculator and it’s here.  It’s telling me that based on my last marathon time, my goals for my next 10k (on Dec 30) and next 1/2 Marathon (in March) are completely reasonable.

In “Stick a fork in me, I’m done news:

Today I:

  1. Went to German class (3 hours)
  2. Did an hour of jo staff practice
  3. Ran 7 miles along the muddy river trail
  4. Did the dishes
  5. Made lunch (spinach quesadilla on linseed tortilla with leftover tuna and tomato salad)
  6. Did 2 hours of aikido
  7. Talked with my adviser and planned out the next month of work that will lead hopefully to the super-secret goal I’m not telling anyone about yet
  8. Folded the last load of laundry
  9. Created a cookie making spreadsheet for all the Christmas cookies we’re baking tomorrow so that we know what we need to buy at the store
  10. Worked out the next week of my off-season training plan for us
  11. Finished the prep and cutting of all the gift fudge (and taste tested the fudge) (OK, Wife did most of this while I hovered and felt guilty for not doing more)

And now I am done. Goodnight internets.

This is what happens when my wonderful Wife gives me a back massage after a long day...

This is what happens when my wonderful Wife gives me a back massage after a long day…

And this is the view I have every morning between 4 and 4:30 when Devil-cat decides that he is undeniably starving to death and must be fed. NOW.

And this is the view I have every morning between 4 and 4:30 when Devil-cat decides that he is undeniably starving to death and must be fed. NOW.


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.

Mattituck Turkey Trot – Race Report

Hey look, a race report only three days after the race!  Thank my parents.  They got me a shiny new bluetooth keyboard for my iPad so I can type up blog posts anywhere, anytime.  Also thank Lufthansa.  They delayed the flight for an hour earlier today (really, yesterday at this point.  Gotta love red-eye flights with 6 hour time changes.)

Turkey trotting aunties. As is becoming holiday tradition, we spent the week in the US at my brother’s house with him, his wife, and the three chaos engines otherwise known as my nephews, so by the time Thursday morning rolled around, we were so ready to run away for a few hours to find rational people who spend all their free time running (and/or biking and/or swimming, but definitely not cross fitting). Luckily for us, the chaos demons have decided that they don’t like just running so instead of a huge group of relatives, it was just me and the Wife, getting up early and heading out for the traditional Turkey Trot.

Also luckily for us, my sister in law, whose brother runs ultras, understand and found us a nice 5k only a few miles away for this year. This was perfect because I haven’t actually managed to run a stand-alone 5k at all this year and I was a bit curious. You see, in August, while still sick, I ran a 5k pr at the end of a sprint triathlon. So, despite the fact that I haven’t actually trained for speedwork at all this season, or really trained much at all since the marathon, I was kind of hopeful. This was a real local race with about a thousand runners and a real hometown feel to it, which was fun. It started at the local high school and they had the gym all set up for the race and at least half the people there were clearly associated with the school in some way. The cross-country coach was also the race organizer. As I was on line for the ladies room, I was behind a girl with an All-state cross country champion shirt on. For ladies room round two (yes, I get nervous enough even for local turkey trots to need at least 3 bathroom visits on race morning in the hour before the race), I saw the same girl again, remarked that she must be fast, and wished her luck. I saw her again at the awards ceremony when she got the first place plaque and pie because she won the race (well, first woman.)

So bathroom pitstop number 3 pretty much destroyed my chances for a real warmup and we were almost late to the start, but it was definitely the better choice. We milled around for about 15 minutes getting colder and colder (since I intended to go fast (that’s me-fast, not Kenyan fast or cross country state champs fast) I was only wearing a short sleeved shirt (my Skvörl shirt from Frankfurt) and needed to start moving. I pushed us as far forward as I could, at least ahead of most of the strollers and dogs and hoped that we’d start soon. Then we did. The complete lack of a timing mat clued me in to the fact that there would be no distinction between chip and gun time, but overall, I lost only 7 seconds to the traffic jam at the start. I was running just behind an older woman wearing a turkey on her head and decided to stick with her. The first mile went by fast. Faster than 8 minutes to be exact. They had a very helpful race clock at the one mile mark and my Garmin beeped at me exactly as I passed it, a first for me. Apparently, turkey lady runs nice tangents. We chatted a bit, but not as much as usual because I was actually running fast enough to not have the breath for conversations. We got to the weird lollipop turnaround at the halfway point and I realized that I hadn’t seen the front group yet which meant they were still only a few minutes ahead. Got to see all slow folks coming the other way, though. That was fun. Mile two and the race clock said exactly 16 minutes. I was on track to break the 8 minute/mile invisible ceiling and another PR. If only turkey lady would maintain a good pace. Then we caught her nephew who looked about 10 and ran with him for a while. There was an older guy ahead of me; white hair, windbreaker, baseball cap; exactly the kind of guy you see wandering around places like the Early-Bird Special at the local Old Country Buffet. Except I couldn’t catch him. So I contented myself with keeping him in sight.

The obnoxious hill at the end of the third mile was in sight and I was hurting, but not hurting-hurting, so I thanked Turkey-Lady and pushed up the hill. I could see the race clock and ran harder. Still didn’t catch the old guy but I made it in under 25 minutes, a marvelous Turkey PR for me. I finally ran a 5 k at a sub-8 minute pace and I was ecstatic. I figured out earlier this week (when I ran intervals about a minute a mile faster than usual due to a math error) that some of the pace limitations I assume are actually all in my head. I think that I can’t run 8 minute miles, so I can’t. But now I think I can, so I did!

Then the Wife (who’d insisted that she wasn’t feeling well and that she was just going to jog it) sprinted in to about a half-minute PR as well. Then she lost breakfast at the side of the road. Which proves several things: a) the Wife is actually more competitive than she thinks she is b) and faster, and c) you shouldn’t eat clementines right before a 5 k where you intend to run at race effort.

Anyway, we stayed for awards and the raffle. We didn’t win any of the raffles (not even the gift basket with the cookbook and the hideously weird turkey artwork that I wanted more than anything to give to my brother), but we did win a delicious blueberry pie for being the folks who’d travelled the farthest to get to the race. And I finally broke my streak of fourths in local races! I got a medal for third in my age group, which is a first for me. And there were almost 60 ladies in my age group! Also, Turkey Lady got second in her age group and the old guy also got 3rd in his, so I was in good company. In conclusion, yay 5k Turkey Trots, yay PIE!, and incidentally, my brother cooks a damn good turkey. No nephews were harmed in the writing of this race report.

Upcoming races

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

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

August 5:  Frankfurt City Tri

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

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

Secondary goal:  DO NOT GET INJURED.

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

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

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

Goal for this one:  Finish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 2 Fintler Triathlon

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

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

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

September 9 Lauf für mehr Zeit

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

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

Other Goal:  Raise as money much as possible

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

Which brings us to:

October 28 Frankfurt Marathon

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

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

Super Secret goal:  I’m not telling.

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

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