Tag Archives: triathlon

To my dream reader

So I’m still about a week behind with the assignments! Go me. Later today I will be stepping further into the pond and commenting on blogs that I’ve never commented on. If you’re also (still) doing this one, drop me a comment here and I will return the favor, then it will be like we just got introduced at a party and got to know each other a bit.

I’ve been thinking about who this mythical dream reader is and I’m not sure that I have one. I hope that people with different experiences and backgrounds would find me a bit interesting. I am always excited when fellow runners and triathletes are here to read my race reports and training struggles. Occasionally, I post recipes so there are also some foodies who are my dream readers. I often try to be funny, so the dream reader also appreciates humor, bad puns, and pop culture reference. Obviously, the dream reader is a cat lover as well.

Actually, I do know exactly who my dream reader is. Because this blog is me, unfiltered (for the most part), my dream reader is the person who loves and accepts me as I am, without trying to change me or mock my sometimes dubious life choices, who offers support without expectations, comfort without guilt and compassion without end.

Wow, this inadvertently turned into a love letter to my wife. Sorry for getting schmoop and glitter all over your internet today. But if you’re reading (and you’re not the Wife) here’s the short version of how that all played out:

Girl meets girl online in a regular old geeky internet forum.
Conversations are had, email are exchanged. For years. Life continues as usual.
A face to face meeting occurs at an airport en route to a science fiction convention.
Girl begins to believe in love at first sight.
More years pass.
Girl realizes that someone’s got to take a chance.
She leaves home, family, friends, profession, job behind.
There are parties (4) and wedding ceremonies (2).
There are cats to be mailed to a new country.
Girl manages to convince other girl that triathlons are fun and of course she also needs a fancy road bike. Twice. (That is two fancy road bikes. Lots more triathlons, a few marathons, that sort of thing, because it’s like fun but different.)
Girl (attempts to) learn a new language.
And never regrets any of it for a minute.

So that is that story (abridged).

Here we are on the beach right after getting married, American style. Photo taken by one of my very lovely friends (Hi, Joeschlabotnik!) who could attend our middle of the workday gathering

Here we are on the beach right after getting married, American style. Photo taken by one of my very lovely friends (Hi, Joeschlabotnik!) who could attend our middle of the workday gathering

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.

 

Advent 2013 Day 4 – inadvertent rest days and eggplants

Well, the rest day was unintended as I have clearly not managed to kick the current cold (which, yes, I had during Saturday’s epic martial arts day, Sunday’s nine mile run, Monday’s swim class, and yesterday’s Aikido class) By this point, I am probably the vector that made half of Frankfurt sick and I kept coughing myself awake last night and spent most of today horizontal, covered in cats (who, for the record, were quite pleased with me being incapacitated) and trying to keep both my lungs and my throat on the inside where they belong. This is my long-winded excuse for not getting this up earlier.

OK,  so triathlon tidbit: here’s an interesting little Outside article on the pro’s and con’s of gadgets in training and racing written my two of my favorite online personalities: DC Rainmaker (of the best gear reviews you can find) and Chris “Macca” McCormack (Of Kona-winning triathlon maverick fame). For the record, I train with some gadgets (I generally always have my Garmin Forerunner 305 for all my training runs and rides, but I wear my HRM only once in a blue moon (I hate it and the strap makes me feel claustrophobic. I used to do my easy runs with the Wife and her pace was perfect for that. Now she’s gotten so much faster that I might have to go back to the HRM to slow me down again.) I love the cadence sensor on my bike and pay way more attention to that than to my speed. If I had the money, I’d probably shell out for a power meter, but I don’t and I’m not sure that I’d use it to get my money’s worth. Lately, when I race, I’ll race with the Garmin on the bike (for speed, distance, and cadence) and just use my regular watch on the run and the swim. For the most part, that works out really well and forces me to really listen to my body and do what it says. Running only races I go either way depending on how well marked I know them to be. My sense of distance/direction is bad enough that I get anxious sometimes if I don’t see a mile marker for a while and am not sure how far I’ve gone. Then it’s nice to look at the GPS watch for reassurance that I really have run X miles.

As for recipes, here’s one that I know I’ve shared with a lot of folks privately, but I don’t think I’ve ever posted publicly. It’s vegetarian and really tasty, even though I’m told it’s not traditional chili, per se. Whatever, it’s tasty and is loaded with veggies.

L on Wheels’s Easy Eggplant Chili

Ingredients (in order of adding to the pot)

  • 2-3 Tbsp oil (I use olive, any vegetable oil will work)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 bell pepper (any color)
  • 1/2 chili pepper (if desired) (These can be any variety of hot pepper like Jalapeños)
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic (chopped fine)
  • 1 small to medium eggplant
  • 4‐5 pieces sundried tomatoes
  • 1 tomato (diced)
  • Seasoning mix (see below)
  • 1 can kidney or black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1.5 cup water (approximately)
  • 2 tsp corn starch

Seasoning mix

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin (or more to taste)
  • 1 tsp coriander (or more to taste)
  • 1 tsp paprika (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (or more to taste) (I use the really hot Indian chili powder and ½ tsp plus a half a Habanero type pepper makes it pretty spicy – the spice level and heat is really a matter of personal preference.

Topping suggestions

  • Cheddar cheese
  • Fresh cilantro
  •  Sour cream
  • Plain low or non‐fat yogurt (in place of sour cream)

Preparation

  1. Drain all cans of beans and rinse thoroughly under cold water; set aside.
  2. Dice onion, eggplant, bell pepper, chili pepper, garlic, fresh tomato, and sun dried tomato. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  3. When oil is hot, add onion and garlic; sauté for 2 minutes. Onion and garlic should not brown, onion should start getting translucent.
  4. Add eggplant, bell pepper and chili pepper; sauté for additional 2 to 3 minutes. Add more cooking oil if necessary.
  5. Add fresh and sundried tomatoes; sauté for additional 1 minute.
  6. Add spices and sauté for another minute.
  7. Add beans, garbanzos, 1 cup water, and canned tomatoes. Do not drain the tomatoes.
  8. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Add more water and spices if necessary.
  9. Mix cornstarch with 2 Tbsp warm water and add to thicken sauce.
  10. Serve with Polentacake (see recipe) and toppings.

I know that I posted my Polentacake recipe last year (has butter, eggs and buttermilk so not strictly vegetarian, sorry) but I’m too lazy sick to go hunting through my old posts to find it, so I’m posting it again…

Polentacake (Corn Bread or Johnnycake)

(modified from this recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter (110 g)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar (50 g)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 Tbsp vinegar mix them together and let sit for 15 minutes) (0.24 l)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup polenta or cornmeal (which are actually the same thing, but the name varies depending on how far you are from Italy) (125 g)
  • 1 cup all‐purpose flour (125 g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375 °F (175 °C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.
  2. Melt butter in large skillet over medium low heat.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in sugar.
  4. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Be careful not to make scrambled eggs here.
  5. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan.
  6. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain.
  7. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

The Wife is out singing Christmas carols tonight and I was supposed to go, but I can’t because I’m sick in a way that would seriously disrupt a bunch of singers, so since I can’t listen to her, I’m posting my first actual Christmas song of this Advent.

Yes, I am a geek and I find this hilarious. Also, Picard was my favorite Captain of the Enterprise. And I get to see him later this month in Waiting for Godot. I can’t …err…wait…

Cat on a heater

Captain Dukie has figured out where the warms spot is…

Until tomorrow, dear readers. Be excellent to each other! (I bet you thought I  was going to say “Live long and prosper,” didn’t you?

Panic, Chaotic Frogs, Pools, and Lakes

Or, a long, navel-gazing essay on swimming by me.

Today’s writing time is about swimming. During my triathlon journey so far – and it’s a relatively short one; I did my first tri in 2010 – swimming has definitely been the most challenging and interesting part of the whole experience.

Which of these is not like the others?

When “they” say that swimming is pretty much totally dependent on technique, they’re right. Swimming is not like running and biking. In running and biking you can just put one foot in front of the other or turn the cranks using basic skills that most of us learned as children. On the other hand, swimming relatively fast for relatively long distances requires feats of coordination and conscious attention to details that we don’t think about in regular land-and-air living. Most of us as children learned to swim in that we learned how not to drown in the pool or the ocean or the lake or the quarry and that was enough to satisfy our parents safety consciousness and our own impatient desires to get out into whatever body of water we had at our disposal and go have fun. I truly envy the people who learned to swim properly as kids.

I just want to be happy! Or at least not a tension-filled disaster in the water!

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

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