Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Wishes


Merry Christmas to all of you.

I hope you have the opportunity to spend this time of the year with your family and friends.


We enjoy our vacation in Germany very much... More to come, when we get back and then I will also put up some pictures!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Sweet Smell Of Chlorine

Right now, all the swimming that I do is mostly focused on technique and not speed. A lot of drills and if I just swim I am supposed to do it with perfect form. Between watching what the position of my head is, if my torso rotates, that my arms don't cross center line etc I would hardly have a chance to be speedy. But as the form is getting better and more efficient, speed will come... That's the idea anyways.


I tried to sign up for Tri Swim Classes at the Middle Tyger YMCA, but those are not set-up in the computer yet. At least I was able to find out how much it is going to be for members and once again, I think USD 25.- for a month of swim classes is not bad at all. So from January until April I will be in the pool every Tuesday and Thursday morning. Can't wait... NOT! While I enjoyed the group of people this year and really feel that I improved my swimming a lot during that time, I am not looking forward to have to get into this COLD pool at 6AM twice a week, walk into the office with the google imprints around my eyes, smell like chlorine all day long, no matter how long I showered afterwards and feel hungry for the rest of the day, because the cold water is sucking everything out of me.


Yesterday, I had my last (regular training) swim on tap before the classes are starting up again. I tried to do flip turns! It was pathetic! ;-) Last year after the classes were done, I taught myself bi-lateral breathing, so why not try to teach myself a flip turn? There is still room for improvement and I will keep working on it. Of course you don't need a flip turns for open water swims, but so many sprint tris around here are done with pool swims and then it could actually be an advantage... Turn faster and while you do so, knock out a couple of your competitors.... JUST KIDDING.


Source of picture here.

Actually looking at this illustration already helps... Visualize... Always visualize! ;-)

Monday, December 14, 2009

2009 Thunder Road Marathon: A Race Report from Someone that Didn't Race

Last Saturday was Terry's first marathon. The training leading up to the big day was interrupted with a knee injury that took forever to heal up, but come race day he felt strong and confident at the starting line.

We started the day off with a 4AM wake-up call to make our 4:45AM meeting time with Brian from our BRR team, who did the marathon as well. I was just coming along as driver, cheerleader and photographer of this event. We got to Charlotte right when the package pick up opened up and went over to the convention center to get the race stuff for the boys. Until the 7:50AM start we hung out at the expo where we also met Todd, another BRR team mate. They made their final clothing decisions (it was 28F at the start line - BRRRRRRRR), checked the bags and we started walking to the start line. I wanted to take pictures of them right after the start, but that never happened, because I never saw them run past me. Oh well... I made my way back to the race expo and got me four more pairs of my favourite running socks as well as a couple of bars of the orange flavored shots bloks that I never see in the stores. From there I went to the parking garage and changed into my running gear.

The plan was, that I combine my scheduled training run with cheerleading for the boys. So I told them, that they can expect to see me a little after the half marathon marker. I knew I had around 1:40h from the start to get there so that I won't have to wait too long, but also won't miss them. I ran around Charlotte downtown a little bit in order to get my mileage in and was at the corner of Euclid and Morehead 1 hour and 30 minutes after the gun went off. Terry turned the corner at 1:40h, I ran a couple of yards with him and he said he felt good, just had a little cramping going on in one of his knees. Four minutes later, Todd passed me and once again I ran a little bit with him and he said he was feeling good. A little after that I saw Brian and he said he was doing good as well. I kind of expected for Brian to give me his rain jacket because he has gotten warm, but it seemed like he made the perfect clothing choice for him and didn't need to get rid of extra layers.

After Brian passed me, I got my stuff together and ran to the next point that I wanted to see them. It was a little after the mile 16 marker, close to an aid station and right after the course led under a bridge. There was portions of a marching band playing under this bridge the whole time... It was LOUD, but they did a GREAT job! As I waited around, I started wondering where Terry is. This was just 3 miles and change after the last spot I saw him and time was ticking away. Then I saw Todd and he told me that "Terry is having problems". A little dumbfounded, I stood there and a couple of minutes later Brian past me and told me that Terry was standing on the sidewalk a mile back. So I ran against the constant stream of marathoners to find him. It was pitiful. He's knees locked up and he wasn't able to walk when I got to him. He was cramping from top to bottom. After a while, he was able to make a couple of steps and slowly and painfully he started walking again.

We passed the mile 16 marker and with that, we started a 10.2 mile hike to the finish line. The first couple of miles I was with him, we attempted to fall back into a jog, but that didn't last more than a minute or two at the time before the cramps got worse again. So eventually, we just decided to stick to walking. Around mile 21, Terry asked for some food, so I stopped at a convenience store and got him some Fritos and then ran to catch up with him. While he was munching on the Fritos a by-stander said the she never knew that Fritos was runner's food, but if it works for him. At mile 25 we got offered beer and if I wasn't the designated driver, I think I would have taken it. Seriously, I was ready to be done with this and I can only imagine, how Terry must have felt.

He passed the finish line in 5h23mins. He was disappointed and mad and ready to get back to this course next year to show what he is capable of. Due to his very strong first half of the race, we were able to finish before the 6 hour course cut-off. I am so proud of him that he crossed the finish line... I admire his ability to put mind over matters at times.

While Terry did 26.2 miles on Saturday, I logged around 14 miles of running and walking myself. My feet were killing me at the end and my legs were sore. That was after 14 miles of mostly walking... As I said before, I can only imagine, how Terry must have felt. He sure looked like in a lot of pain, wobbling around the rest of the day and most of Sunday.

Now our sights are set on Myrtle Beach. He is going to do the marathon and I will attempt my first half marathon. Hopefully, the preparations are going to go smoother than Terry experienced with his training for Thunder Road. Wish us luck!

COUNTDOWNS

9 weeks until Myrtle Beach
3 nights until departure for Germany

Friday, December 11, 2009

Doesn't Feel Like A Recovery Week

I read a thing or two in the last two years about running/ triathlon training, so the words "training cycles" and "recovery weeks" are not completely foreign to me... The theory behind it isn't either, but like the track workouts, it wasn't something that I really implemented in my training. So after five weeks on the coach's plan, this was my first recovery week... That I can recall anyways.

And what a week it was. The running was toned way down compared to last week. I was running for time more than for mileage and honestly, after the 10-miler last Sunday, my legs felt like lead on both of my runs so far this week. Other than the running, I got two strength sessions in, two swims and an outside bike ride on Wednesday.

To finish the recovery week off, I have an 8-miler on tap for tomorrow and another bike ride Sunday (trainer or outside depends on weather). The run should be on a trail. That might won't happen... The trail portion I mean. Tomorrow, Terry will run his first marathon in Charlotte and I am going to be up there with him... Cheering him on... My initial thought was to bring the hybrid along and ride to a couple of points on the course to snap pictures. Since the weather forecast for tomorrow is COLD (between 28F and 39F with 10% chance of precip) and I also have to do this run, I might bag the bike idea and get my run out of the way, while Terry is doing his race... I thought about doing the run somehow strategically, that I get at least at one point pictures of him on the course and then retire to a warm place for the remainders of the race and get my X-Mas cards done. Brilliant! We'll see what the reality of tomorrow will look like.

In the nutrition department things have been a little all over the place. The week started out pretty good and somehow I made a wrong turn midweek and haven't gotten back on track quite yet. First of all, I seem to be always hungry and of course I do have a sweet tooth, but since the temperatures haven plummeted, I feel like stuffing myself with carbs all day long... And I don't hold back a lot. I always had the opinion that winter (crap! it's really winter already?) is not the time for being on a diet. On the other hand, that shouldn't be an excuse to pack on the pounds. Fortunately, that hasn't happened yet... Somehow, after a couple of days of indulging in everything sugar, I make it back on the bandwagon eventually.

Last night we made it out to the Salsa club for the first time since Halloween. When I am there, I always wonder, why we hardly make it anymore since it's always a lot of fun. Of course things have changed a lot since we first started going. When I started Salsa, it was pretty much the only exercise I would get that week. Nowadays, by the time 9PM Thursday rolls around, I was up since 5AM that morning and have had at least one workout already that day. And dancing is exercise - believe me. I was on the floor almost the whole time last night which is TONS OF FUN, but I was exhausted after 1.5 hours. My feet in those heels where killing me and I almost got my shoulder dislocated by an over-enthusiastic dance partner... And yes, I LOVE to spin, but yesterday my stomach wasn't that crazy about it.

Even though this is still a recovery week, things have gotten very busy between work, workouts, social commitments, Christmas errands and having contractors in the house. But in a week from now, we will be already in Germany and getting pampered by my parents and can start enjoying our vacation! I can't wait!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ornamental Warfare

You probably ask yourself at this moment how the words "ornamental" and "warfare" can possibly go together... Let me show you! ;-)

The Monday after Thanksgiving, I was greeted by a Christmas tree in the office. The Christmas tree was out of plastic and pre-lit. One ornament dangled on one of the branches... A Clemson ornament. The next couple of days, this ornament was constantly moved to be backside of the tree by the Carolina fans in the department. A couple of days later, a Bayern Munich ornament was added to the tree which was consequently constantly moved by the VfL Stuttgart fan in the office. But the VfL Stuttgart fan is also a Clemson fan and the Bayern Munich supporter also a Carolina supporter... Then we have another Clemson fan that is also a Bayern Munich fan and by now your head should be spinning. Basically, since the tree was up it was a constant battle between fan bases and the smack talk that accompanied the back and forth made the whole football season look like a dress rehearsal. Yesterday, a Carolina ornament was added and five minutes later, I took all three ornaments down and returned them to their owner in order to finally silence the smack talk. Now the tree is all decorated and looks very pretty! Those are all recycled ornaments that have gotten the boot at the home Christmas tree and now find a new purpose as our office tree decoration.


When I walked in the office yesterday morning, the Bayern ornament had made a miraculous return to the tree. Once again I took it down and it is now stored in a safe location until January when I will return it to the rightful owner.

Beside the inter-office warfare we also have a competition going for Christmas decorations per departments on site. Especially the competition between finance and accounting is getting more and more heated... May the best tree win!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I Need A Punch Line

Okay, let me rephrase this: I WANT a punch line... Or a signature line... Do you know what I mean? A nice catchy phrase that I can put to "sign" every post.

I really like "Waddle On", but that is already being used by John "The Penguin" Bingham (Runner's World Columnist).

"Happily Yours" is also very nice, but already used by Carol Hannah, a Project Runway Season 6 designer.

I love the sound of "Just a few (thousand) miles north" even though it's not applicable to my situation.... or only if my main bulk of readers would be from Patagonia. It's the signature for this awesome Alaskan adventure blog... And it's a perfect fit for it.

A lot of blogs don't have a signature line, but I just like the structure of title and a signature line. WHAT TO DO??

By now I almost think that I make a way too big of a deal of this and whatever I will come up with, will fall short of this ambitious post! ;-)

I think this whole topic needs to cook a little longer in my head and if I start using a signature line sometime soon, you'll know where it is coming from.

Nothing for Ungood! Auf Wiedersehn and Good Bye!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Seriously? You Like Running?

It's amazing to me, how much of a difference the last five weeks, since I am working with Coach Katie, made in my running. No, I don't run an 8 min/mile yet... Actually not even close. But I seem to be getting faster and also, my heart rate is getting more under control as I am getting a little faster at a time. But also, my mindset towards running seems to change more and more.



When I started running last year, I didn't like it. I did it, because it was challenging my body in new ways, in a time where my weight loss slowed down. With my decision to start in a triathlon in 2009, I basically committed to stick it out since running is part of the triathlon deal. Before the triathlon was even over, I already committed to do the relay race which gave me another reason to stick it out. And somewhere between back then and now, I started to like running and I started to miss it, if I wasn't out there in a couple of days. I enjoyed to be outside and to look around while running and the solitude when I was out there on my own and the camaraderie when I ran in a group. But all I ever did was running without any focus. My whole approach to running was to log miles and a couple of weeks ago I realized that that isn't going to make me a better or faster runner.





Since I am on the coach's plan every run has a purpose, a focus, a goal and I LOVE IT. Seriously! Not only do I like running, I look forward to most of my runs. I know that I like structure, but that I would embrace the run workouts like I do, even surprised me. Even the treadmill isn't as dreadful anymore when the run is structured.

Five weeks ago, I did the first 10-miler in my life and it was a good run. I kind of did the whole thing completely unplanned. I didn't have water or food with me, just stopped by the house to drop the dog off around mile 4 and had a sip then and went out to complete the 10 miles. I was pretty spent afterwards... Thirsty and even more hungry.



Yesterday, I had my first 10-miler on my training plan. The outlook for that wasn't even very daunting, since I had several 7-milers in the last couple of weeks and got more and more secure in doing longer distances. My task was to do the second half faster than the first half of the run and also to start practising proper nutrition during the run. I am fine with drinking during a run, but I don't like eating on them very much. The recommendation was to take a gel every 30 minutes and I didn't comply. I had one piece of shot blok (ca. 33 calories) every 30 minutes which is way less calories than a gel (ca. 100 calories) would be, but I thought I start out easy since my stomach is not very cooperative when it comes to taking in calories while running. It worked out pretty good and I will try to increase my intake over the next long runs. The pacing worked well, too. I did the first half with around a 10:30 min/ mile pace and the second half with around a 10:05 min/ mile pace. I might have been a little conservative in the first half or/and a little too fast in the second half, but it sure was a negative split. Even more than the pacing and nutrition, I just enjoyed my run.... I felt good physically and mentally throughout the run. A good half marathon seems to get more and more doable.

People are already asking me, what my goal time is and I don't have an answer for this yet. The next couple of weeks are going to determine that and I will share then! ;-)





COUNTDOWNS:
10 weeks until Myrtle Beach Half Marathon
10 days until departure for Germany

Friday, December 4, 2009

Why? Oh Why?

Two "Why? Oh Why?" moments that I want to talk about here. One is inspired by my workout plan and the weather forecast and the other one is an occasional workout moment that I wanted to post about in the past, but completely forgot about it until I read this story here.


Let the rambling begin.


Snow on Saturday? Are you kidding me??


Tomorrow, I have a 30 mile bike ride on my handy workout plan. Not really a distance that I want to spent on the trainer, therefore I looked around for some options and found this 35/65 mile ride organized by The Great Escape in Spartanburg. The 35 mile option kinda sounded appealing until I looked at the weather forecast. Temperatures in the low 40s and a 70% chance of precipitation... I even heard people talk about snow! Are you kidding me? This is South Carolina and it's early December, that just sounds all kinds of wrong. All of a sudden the trainer ride and an America's Next Top Model Marathon (I am not sure if one is on, but the chances are pretty good) sound like a much better alternative. I know, once again I am chickening out and yes I know that a couple of weeks ago I was boasting about having the winter cycling gear now that should make it possible for me to ride all through the winter... Hmmmm... And maybe I won't be so hesitant, if it were just for the temps but at least dry! Oh well, just call me a sissy. I will keep on monitoring the weather forecast and make the final decision tomorrow morning.


Don't HONK at me!


For whatever reason, some motorists have the urge to acknowledge people that use American roads (or sidewalks for that matter) for something else than driving a humongous truck by honking at them. By using them in a different way, I mean they run or cycle on them! (GET OUTTA HERE! Who does that! ;-) When it first happened, I honestly was a little flattered because I thought the honking was the redneck's equivalent to the construction worker's whistling (this post is also on how to put every single stereotype in the world in one entry), but for whatever reason, it also always felt a little hostile. I came to the realization that honking is the seal of disapproval for the exercising community when I read a couple of articles about run-ins between motorist and runners/cyclist. Whereas the newspaper articles are pretty neutral most of the time, it's the reader's comments that really make me worry about my safety while out on the road.


You can check out the article that I linked above and I tried to find the other articles, but couldn't, so you just have to believe me here, people. The comments are CRAZY. From rants about how aggressive cyclists are (how aggressive can a cyclist be? the car will win 100% of the time) over how dare a runner can run on the road (well, if there would be more sidewalks and more well-lit parks in this country, we wouldn't have to) and I don't want a narcissistic exercise freak showing around his bare chest in my neighborhood just to make everyone else feel miserable about themselves (if someone really thinks that this is our motivation to workout in public, then those guys are way more self-centered that they give themselves credit for). People get over this!! The roads are not only for motorist and since cycling and running seem to be growing in popularity, people just have to get use to it and start looking out for them and NOT be surprised about their existence. Vice versa, cyclist that don't wear helmets, run stop signs and drive the wrong way round into a one-way street just add fuel to the fire to those that are already p***ed off at us, so PLEASE STOP doing it. For runners and walkers out on badly lit roads, I highly recommend you to use a headlamp/ flash light and a reflective vest for your own safety to make it easier for the motorist to stop you.

Be safe out there and enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Want A Challenge? Here you go...


Lately, I have noticed a couple of running events that seem to be a little.... CRAZY? I don't mind a challenge (I really don't), but I draw a line when a running/competition challenge includes a food challenge. But that's just me... If you think that this makes things even more interesting and/ or fun, you might want to look at this race:



The Krispy Kreme Challenge is an annual, student-operated race in Raleigh, North Carolina benefiting the NC Children's Hospital. Beginning in 2004 with a mere 10 participants,the race has grown exponentially to a whopping 5,500 runners in the 2009 race and has rapidly become one of NC State University's newest traditions.


Beginning at the NC State Belltower, each runner runs 2 miles to the Krispy Kreme store located on Peace St. in Raleigh. After downing a full dozen of the famous Krispy Kreme doughnuts, the runner must run the two miles back. All in one hour.


The challenge attracts a wide range of runners fom beginners to serious competitors hailing from all corners of the country.


REGISTRATION FEES


CHALLENGER: $16.004 miles, 12 doughnuts, and a t-shirt.


CASUAL: $16.004 miles, some doughnuts, and a t-shirt.


SUPPORTER: $10.00T-shirt only


Monday, November 30, 2009

Four Day Weekends Are FUN!


Where to start when wanting to recount the activities of a four day weekend? First up, a painful truth: Even four day weekends are eventually coming to an end. Good news, I will get a little break in tomorrow, since I will be off and actually there won't be another full working week for me in 2009 anymore. Sweet... Mmmmmh? ;-) We are not allowed to carry any vacation or comp time over to next year and since I am kinda running out of year, I have to take care of it. (It's a tough job, but someone has to do it!)

So what was going on over the weekend? It can be compiled in these handy categories sorted descending by the time spend on the matter: rest, food, training, health issues and shopping.


REST

It may seem to some people that I am getting older or less fun, but my highest priority for this long weekend was certainly to get as much rest in as possible. I averaged around 9 hours of solid sleep each night from Wednesday night to Sunday night. Not counting the nap I got in Friday on our way up to Charlotte to drive the course for Terry's marathon in two weeks. Also not counting the time I was dozing or relaxing in the bed or on the couch. Do I feel much better today for all the rest that I was getting in? Not really, but I sure would feel much worse if I hadn't kept a low profile over the weekend. More about the in the health issue section of this blog post.


FOOD

Hey, it was Thanksgiving weekend, so of course we have to talk about food! Over my handy Google Reader I am subscribed to all kind of health blogs, runner blogs etc and a quite a lot of the blog posts leading up Thanksgiving have been about advice not to undo a whole year of training over one day and NOT TO GO OVERBOARD with the food. I threw in my two cents about this last week too. I think I did fairly good considering all the circumstances. We had Thanksgiving lunch at Terry's sister and the food was deeeeeeeelicious. I can't remember how much I ate, but I do remember that I actually had leftovers for dinner again... I really didn't expect to even feel appetite that soon again. For the remainders of the weekend, I was fairly alright, but I think at one point, there was a McFlurry involved as a desert. Shame on me... Or what the heck... Live a little. Today, I was sabotaged once more my an endless supply of German chocolate in the office. Nobody else to blame but me, since no one is stuffing it into my mouth, I do that all my myself. At lunch, I got some really food into my stomach and that held of the chocolate rant for the remainders of the day... Kind of... At least a little.

TRAINING

Yesterday, I finished up my highest mileage running week in a long time... A little over 22 miles. I am feeling pretty good about how the running is coming along for the MB half. Even Terry said yesterday while we finished up a 5-miler, that if I keep running and improving like this, than I will actually give him a run for his money at the 2010 MTY Sprint Tri, which is the ultimate baseline between the two of us... He is already adding up where he needs to save the minutes in 2010 so he won't be defeated again! ;-) Honestly, I have no doubt in my mind, that he won't let me repeat my victory from 2009, but I am determined on making it as close as possible! Between Thursday and Sunday I had on tap: a run and a lower body workout, a trainer ride (it was sunny outside, but cold, so I chicked out) and another two runs. Not bad at all.


HEALTH ISSUES

A lot of my resting, eating and training was worked around my current sinus infection and a surprise-backstabbing-ankle-pain-attack. I have mentioned before that I am fighting with a head cold these days. By linking my previous blog post to this one, I just noticed that I am dealing with this mess for over two weeks now. Fortunately, it's still all in the head and not on the lungs which leads me to believe that I can train fairly normally. It just a constant cycle of headaches, sore throat and runny nose. It doesn't seem to be a full blown sinus infection, but it also doesn't go away. Since I am not a person that starts taking pills right away, I basically left the whole thing untreated... I mean, what can you do about a cold anyways. But over the weekend I broke down and got me a family pack of Emergen-C and Ricolas and pop and drink as much as I can get into my system. The extensive rest over the weekend sure helped to not make things worse, but unfortunately didn't make things much better either. This ongoing sinus stuff also leads me to the attitude right now, that I eat whatever I want because my body is fighting off an infection. I kinda doubt that German chocolate is a big help, I think I need to choose healthier foods in order to be able to justify this behavior reasonably! ;-)

A little surprising was the ankle pain. I was talking all the time about how happy I am that my knees and hips and back and everything else handles the mileage increase so good this time. I noticed that I had some pain in the inside of my right ankle, but just when touching it... It was just like some nerves were a little sensitive. Then I looked at my ankle Saturday night and it's all swollen up. What the heck?? I didn't have any pain in it that day, but I displayed that nice cankle. The next morning everything looked fine again, but in the early afternoon the swelling had returned. I ran my 5-miler and felt fine for the most part, only the last mile or so was a little painful. I put my ankle brace on over night and this morning it was back to normal, but the swelling came back over the day. We'll see how this little bugger is developing.


SHOPPING

I really didn't feel like participating in the Black Friday shopping frenzy, but my mom gave me a looooong shopping list and I kinda needed Christmas gifts, too. And there were tons of deals out there, but I sure didn't get up early early. We actually spend Black Friday on the couch, on the bike trainer (I did, while Terry was out for a run), in the car on the Charlotte marathon course and on our way back we stopped in Gaffney for dinner and some shopping. I am happy to report that I was able to get pretty much all the Christmas shopping out of the way over the weekend. Most of it Friday night and then we did another short trip yesterday and I thought I was all set until I got on the phone with my brother... Oh well, I am off tomorrow.

On another note... I really start getting excited about the trip to Germany now. Just another 17 days and we are OFF! ;-)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks for...

Happy Thanksgiving.



Whereas Thanksgiving (Erntedankfest) in Germany is more a celebration where the giving thanks for the harvest is done during a church service on the first Sunday in October (not a very fancy affair), the American version of the festival has evolved into a MUCH BIGGER event. Of course the focus is supposedly still on giving thanks for things we have been blessed with, but it's also a time for family reunion, TONS of food and.... football. (Surprise!) As well as the shopping frenzy on the Day after Thanksgiving also known as Black Friday and the official kick-off for the Christmas season.

I want to share what I am thankful for:

Today, I want to give thanks for my family and friends, to the fact that I always feel loved and supported by them, even though I don't see a lot of them very often. I want to give thanks for meeting Terry and that he sticks with me through all the ups and downs that life has thrown at us in the last couple of years. Thanks for a healthy body and mind. And last but not least, thanks for having a job in a rocky economy.

Here are some funny quotes that highlight the importance of food and football for Thanksgiving:

An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day.
~Irv Kupcinet

Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are
consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is
not coincidence. ~Erma Bombeck

It has been an unchallengeable American doctrine that cranberry sauce, a
pink goo with overtones of sugared tomatoes, is a delectable necessity of the
Thanksgiving board and that turkey is uneatable without it. ~Alistair
Cooke

On Thanksgiving Day, all over America, families sit down to dinner at the
same moment - halftime. ~Author Unknown

Thanksgiving is America's national chow-down feast, the one occasion each
year when gluttony becomes a patriotic duty. ~Michael Dresser

Coexistence: what the farmer does with the turkey - until
Thanksgiving. ~Mike Connolly

Thanksgiving, man. Not a good day to be my pants. ~Kevin
James

The funny thing about Thanksgiving, or any huge meal, is that you spend 12
hours shopping for it and then chopping and cooking and braising and
blanching. Then it takes 20 minutes to eat it and everybody sort of sits
around in a food coma, and then it takes four hours to clean it up. ~Ted
Allen

The thing I'm most thankful for right now is elastic waistbands.
~Author Unknown

I love Thanksgiving turkey. It's the only time in Los Angeles that
you see natural breasts. ~Arnold Schwarzenegger

All these quotes are taken from one website (this one) and they also have some more sincere and somber quotes, if you are looking for those! ;-)

Have a happy Thanksgiving Day with your family and friends, enjoy the food and the football and GIVE THANKS!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Food Strategy until Turkey Day


I LOVE FOOD. I REALLY LIKE TO EAT.

There is a reason for the weight struggle that I had for most parts of my adult life. Only since I refocused on sports to offset this food love, I am able to stay at a healthy weight and sustain a healthier lifestyle. That also meant that at one point, I had to stop breaking a sweat, whenever the scale went up a little. It is an often quoted phrase in this context: As long as you stand up more times than you fall down, you are fine. For me that means to monitor my weight and whenever I indulged in food, there also must be a time when I stick to a stricter regiment.

This week was supposed to be one of those stricter regiment weeks, since it's Turkey Day on Thursday. So my original food strategy for the week was being good on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Eat whatever I want on Thursday and hop right back on the band wagon for the rest of the week. Yeah, right... It's Tuesday and it's already not working out!

Why, oh why? Gingerbread... Not the American kind... the German kind. I am defenseless and we have a big supply of original German gingerbread sitting on top of the office cabinet laughing at me. I really don't care for Christmas that much, especially if people start decorating and carolling before Thanksgiving, but I also don't classify gingerbread as Christmas food (as well as my Mom's homemade x-mas cookies)... Those are all-rounders, to be consumed and enjoyed all year round. So my food strategy until Turkey Day was bagged around 9AM yesterday morning.

Oh well... I still have Friday, Saturday and Sunday to even things out a little, but the weekend seems to be dietary bear trap lately. This mission is doomed!

Counter actions have to be defined and executed! Well, they are already defined thanks to Coach Katie and I will ensure to execute as planned, otherwise I really will break into some serious sweat stepping on the scale Monday morning... But I'll be fine... Once again, I will get up!

In addition to my regular scheduled workouts, I am planning on doing a Turkey Day hiking tour with the puppy in Paris Mountain State Park in the morning. Most likely, it's just going to be the two of us and I am planning on doing pretty much the route, I did a couple of weeks ago, but this time hiking not running. There are several Turkey Trots in the area Thanksgiving Day and also a bike ride, but I passed on all of those options, because it either means to get up really early or that I won't be back in on time to drive over to see the family. It also has the side effect, that I will wear out the puppy some, so she will be sleeping most of the remainders of the day and not even notice, that her favorite humans are not at home... Right, like that's going to happen! ;-)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

About Commitment, Shock Waves and Getting Soaked

The title is a pretty good summary about this weekend's activities! ;-)



Commitment

I have been talking about it for a while... Set a goal... Changed my mind. But I still had it in the back of my head to do a half marathon and I wanted to do it soon. Why I don't even really know, but it just seemed to me, that with a goal like that, it would make me work on my running... Hopefully make me a better, faster runner with more endurance. Hopefully get me in a shape that an Olympic distance triathlon next year with a decent time doesn't stay a pipe dream. Now that Terry has been battling a knee injury for the last four weeks, he most likely won't be able to run the marathon that he planned on in Charlotte on 12/12. So he was also already talking about the next possibility to do another marathon. We needed a venue with a marathon and a half far enough out for me to start building and so we decided on Myrtle Beach. We talked about it, I even hired a coach a couple of weeks ago, so things got serious. But on Friday we closed the deal. We signed up. No turning back anymore. We are committed! (They don't do refunds! :-)

That was all I did on Friday, that was sports related... I really did enjoy my rest day... Thanks for asking!

Shock Waves

Yesterday, I had a bike ride on my plan. It was a gorgeous day, so of course we decided to go outside. We haven't been to Donaldson Center in a while so we ended up going there. I have to say that I underestimated the temperatures and had one layer to less on me up top. But what can you do, you just start pedaling and hope that you warm up. Which I did... At the end of the first loop, I felt fine even if I would have still preferred to have a little more fabric on me. Halfway in my second loop I hit that rough piece of road that sends little shock waves through the body and just in general shakes you around a little. Under normal circumstances that wouldn't really bother me, but then I noticed that me toes froze in the meantime. The shock waves due to the road wasn't a big deal, but the vibrations that I felt in my toes made me cringe. But fortunately, that is only part of the road and as soon as it got smoother again, I was back in the game. It's really weird how my toes go dead first, especially since I only had half gloves on and my fingers felt great. After three loops around Donaldson center, I called it a day. But I was glad that we got the chance to ride outside in the sun.

Getting Soaked

Today, I wasn't this lucky. 2 miles into my run it started coming down... BAD! My own fault, if I hadn't procrastinated all afternoon, I guess I would have been fine, but no. 10 minutes after it had started raining hard, I was soaked... soaked... my clothes were not able to take on any more water. If I remember correctly than this was my first rain run EVER. So far I was always lucky that it subsided to a drizzle or light rain by the time I headed out OR I just bagged the outside run and opted for the treadmill. But honestly, I rather run in the rain and get soaked than spend an hour on the treadmill. I got back to the house and left my shoes outside, peeled off all my layers and left them in the sink before I headed into the shower for a long hot soak. I didn't realize how cold I was until I felt my hand and legs hurting from the hot water... But fortunately it didn't take long to warm up.

Hopefully, I will have more luck with my run tomorrow... We'll see! ;-)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Traffic Offense Here and There




I live in the US since 2005, but I had another FIRST last Wednesday. A court appearance due to my expired registration. The ticket was worth USD 113.- but the officer told me that if I appear at court at the given date and present a current registration, this ticket will most likely be waived. USD 113.- I thought was worth taking off half a day from work and so I showed up there, plead guilty (I am not kidding!), presented my new registration and was dismissed without paying a cent. As a US citizen, you might shrug your shoulders at this point and wonder, why I even mention this and as German citizen you may wonder how a registration can expire... In the name of intercultural understanding, let me highlight some differences in the constitution and handling of a traffic offense in Germany compared to South Carolina (I am sure there a are differences from state to state and so I can only refer to SC).

The thing with the expired registration. In SC your registration is valid for one year. Each year, after you paid your property taxes for you vehicle, you receive a new registration along with a sticker to put on your licence plate. Whereas, in Germany, you just pay your taxes and that's it. I know about how it works around here, but I guess it's not completely engrained into my brain, so that I completely forgot about it and didn't even notice that the new registration never reached me.

In Germany, there is a catalogue which refers every common traffic expense along with the fee. You get a ticket and most of the time you pay and then you are done. Around here, you can show up at court, tell your side of the story and have pretty good chances of lowering your fee. Fascinating. For example, a woman turned into a one-way road the wrong way round. She stated that she hasn't been in the area for a while and was a little confused by all the changes that have been made since she has last been there and just didn't realize that she wasn't supposed to turn. The judge cut her ticket in half. Fascinating, once again.

Being it my first traffic offense here (or any offense for that matter), I really didn't know what to expect in the court room. I kinda of thought that there will be only traffic offenses handled and everything will be pretty much straight forward and we'll going to be in and out of the court room in no time. Well, not so much. Most of the cases where right along with mine... Normal stuff... Nothing exciting, tickets got waived, fees got cut in half, nothing special. But every couple of times there was tough stuff, stuff that I never expected to witness this afternoon. Disorderly conducts, open containers, littering, domestic violence, underage drinking, threatening a teacher... It was a mix of all kinds of stuff. Who needs Judge Judy, if you can get this kind of entertainment live and in color at your local municipal court. Don't get me wrong, most of the things were just sad, but a couple of these cases were hilarious... The whole court room chuckled at times...

Anyways, I am glad that whole thing is off the table and I don't have to think about it anymore. I am sure next year, I will notice, if my new registration is once again lost in the mail.

That's all for now. HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pushing Through

It's this time of the year... Cold and flu season. I don't get sick very often, but I officially have the sniffles. Unfortunately, if I have the sniffles this early in the season, it's going to stick with me for most of the fall/ winter... not getting worse, but also not getting better. Fortunately, it's a head cold and not a chest cold and therefore training is not in danger as of now. When it comes to flu and this year's swine flu epidemic, I stay pretty relaxed. I can't even remember the last time that I had the flu and I never had a flu shot in my life. Also this year, I won't get a flu shot, not for the regular or the swine flu, especially since I am not in any risk group. My personal recipe for flu prevention? Sleep, exercise outside, ease up on my diet without going overboard and frequently washing my hands and/or use hand sanitizer. Will this be a guaranty for not getting sick? Certainly not, but it increases my chances quite a bit - I think! ;-)

Since my body is also still adapting to my new workout routine, I try to put emphasis on getting enough sleep these days. It's funny that the coach's plan has so much of an impact on me, since really, my weekly volume hasn't increased, but the intensity certainly has. Every workout has a purpose, which is good, but boy am I glad that tomorrow is going to be a rest day. In favor for one hour more sleep, I once again skipped the weight lifting class this morning and instead did a run and strength in the evening.

And so I am keeping on pushing through the sniffles and the adaptation process... Wish me luck! ;-)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2009 Dan Davis Memorial Turkey Trot 5K


Results (based on Guntime)
29:29 mins (9:30min per mile average)
Overall 171/423

Turkey Trot the 2nd.

This race last year was my first 5K EVER! Last year we were bundled up at the starting line in 32F degree weather. I was well in my second mile last year when my toes finally defrosted. My goal back then was to make it under 30 minutes which I did with a time of 29:45mins. This year it was at least 60F degrees and we were on the road with shorts and t-shirt and personally, I hoped for a water station somewhere. What's up with that? Since when do I need a water station in a 5K race?

A lot of training and racing has been done between then and now and numbers don't tell the whole story. Sure, I was hoping to post a way better time than last year instead of just improving my time by a couple of seconds. But last year, I didn't even dare to warm up, because I didn't think I could even finish the race if I add another mile... Like my feet have an expiration date and fall off whenever I hit the 4 mile mark. Which of course was silly even back then, since I ran a 5-miler a couple weeks prior to the 5K last year. Last year, I felt like throwing up by the time I crossed the finish line and this year I felt like I had some left in me. Last year, Terry paced me, talked me through the race and motivated me... This year, I paced the kid and hopefully helped him through the race... He sure was motivated since he took off a couple of yards before the finish line and finished in front of me. ;-) A lot of good things happened between last year's race and this year's race and even if the numbers might not say, I still feel like I have improved as a runner.

The race had a late 9.30am start. Very unusual, but I welcomed the hour or two more available for sleep. Got up and had some pita bread with jelly for breakfast, packed up some stuff and we headed out of the door.



At the package pick-up I ran into a co-worker of mine and shortly afterward also into our BRR team member Alex with his wife. I got the camera ready for a little group shot, when I noticed, that I didn't put the memory stick back in the camera. Nice job, Kathrin! ;-) So Terry went back to the house to pick up his camera while I did my warm up mile. By the time Terry came back, I finished my warm-up and chatted with co-worker, Alex and wife. Shortly after that we saw a co-worker of Terry with his wife and then some Salsa friends of ours.... Amazing how much our running family has grown over the last year too. We stood there chatting and taking pictures before we walked down to the starting line.

This year they didn't have an annoucer, so everyone was a little hestitant when the start was a annouced by a young woman walking down the hill with her cell phone to her ear, but then we were off!

It was a good race and I felt good most of the time. I was supposed to run each mile a little faster than the previous mile which worked for mile one and two, but mile three was a little slower. I really needed that water stop around mile two, which is unusual for me and I also always forget that mile three is a slight uphill most of the time. But it was a beautiful day on a beautiful course.



Terry actually finished so early (21:33 mins, first in his age group!!! So proud of him!), that he was able to run to the car and get back to the finish area by the time the kid and I came by. In the finish area we met up with our buddies again and recapped our races. Had some water and a really yummy blueberry muffin.



After I got home, I grabbed the doggy to run my cooldown mile for the day. We did the 2.2 mile loop around the block and I ran one mile and walked the rest of it... Just enjoyed the sunshine and appreciated the fact, that I CAN do this.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Running Out Of Steam


Last week was a running week for me! Monday through Sunday I totaled close to 24 miles. For a lot of people that isn't much, but for me that is double the weekly mileage that I logged on average since my knee injury before the Blue Ridge Relay (and that was in September!).

Monday was a run with the coach, Wednesday the track workout, Friday a taper run, Saturday the 5K Turkey Trot (race report by tomorrow - promise!) and yesterday a trail run... In between those runs was also a swim, a strength workout and a trainer ride sprinkled in for some flavor. And then yesterday while on the trails in Paris Mtn State Park, my wheels came off somewhere between the North Lake and Kanuga trail.

Yesterday morning, Terry and I went out to grab some breakfast. My choice on the menu was scrambled eggs, hash browns and pecan pie pancakes. I know, not very healthy, but it's the weekend, I have been good all week and I felt like it! The food came, I picked on the eggs and on the hash browns and didn't quite have a taste for it, so I went with the pancakes full force. 3/4 through, I felt the sugar rush and it turned my stomach... I tried to dilute the sugar in my stomach with frantic water intake, but too late... I felt nauseous. That was at around 9am. At 1pm, I finally felt like my old self again. I have always been very sensitive with food and once I feel sick to my stomach, it takes quite a while to get better again.

So by the time, I finally felt better, we talked about heading out for the planned trail run. And then of course I didn't wanted to eat anything before we go, because I felt like the motion of the mountain would put me back into square one for the day in no time. BIG MISTAKE!

By 3PM we finally made it to Paris Mtn. A quick discussion in front of the map about the route. I was supposed to run 1h 20mins and shoot for 7.5 miles, but the time was more important than the distance. So we headed out Brissy Ridge Trail and from there over Pipissewa to North Lake. At mile 2.7, we were about to turn onto Kanuga when I had to stop and catch my breath. I felt like my heart is jumping out of my chest, but when I looked at the HR monitor it actually wasn't that bad. We started off on Kanuga and the first half of the trail was uphill and I hiked up the steep sections and jogged when the trail flattened out and then hiked again when it got steeper. By the time I was on the ridge, I didn't even feel like jogging on the flat portions. This was when Terry told me that if the body can't do it anymore, the mind has to take over and pushing now would be good training. I know he's right saying something like that, but at that moment, I just wanted to give up. But at least the worst of the trail was behind us. The rest of Kanuga was a rolling slight down hill, which Terry said felt like riding a roller coaster. When Kanuga hit Brissy Ridge Trail again, we started run/ hiking again back to the parking lot. At the parking lot, we headed out to a fairly flat portion of Sulphur Trail, but soon turned around since I just didn't have anything left in the tank.


The trail run was a total of six miles in 1h 17mins. It wasn't fast and it shouldn't have been this hard, but what do I expect my body to do, if I send it out to work on an empty tank. Live and learn... once again.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Misc Observations




  1. My102.5 radio station is on my black list for the rest of the year. This morning I tuned in and heard the first Christmas song of the season for me... You might have guessed, but I am not a fan of Christmas music and especially not this early.

  2. Today is Friday 13th... Living here in the South in the middle of the Bible belt, it surprises me time and time again, how superstitious a lot of people are. That really doesn't make sense.

  3. I need to catch up on sleep, yet again. Unfortunately, according to this, we can't since we can never offset sleep debt. And I don't even have a great story to show for it... I just slept pretty bad all week due to the wind and the rain and the noise that came along with it. By now, I am dragging my feet a little, hopefully tonight is going to be better.

  4. Tomorrow, we (Terry, the kid and I) will run the Dan Davis Memorial Turkey Trot 5K at Furman. Last year when we ran this race, we'll had around 32F at the start line. For tomorrow they forecast it to be in the high 50s and sunny. That sounds like some nice running weather. My assignment for tomorrow's race is to focus on pacing and get faster each mile instead of going out to fast and then fade. I guess, I'll see if I can figure out the Garmin pacing function to help me with that.

  5. I am highly disappointment in my two favorite shows: In Project Runway, because they didn't send the best designers into the finale and in Biggest Loser, because a woman has been send home that managed to loose 100 pounds in nine weeks.

  6. The weekend is still in "no plan land"... I am kind of un-bothered (I don't think, that's actually a word) about it...

  7. I think, I hate the audio book that I am on right now. Sometime on my morning commute, I switched over to the radio (see point 1) because I just couldn't take it anymore... I really consider to abort this mission and move on to the next, but I always have a hard time to start a book and not to finish... Actually, that pretty stupid, especially since I feel like I am wasting my time... On the other hand, I always think that it can approve... Predicament.

  8. The countdown is on! Five weeks from today, we will be in Germany... I have already set up a small class reunion with some of my high school friends... Can't wait to see them!

  9. Oh wow... TGIF!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

From I SHOULD To I DID


I just renewed my Runner's World subscription a couple of days ago. 12 issues for 12 dollars. That's quite a bargain, especially if you compare it to the price on newsstands. Anyways, what I meant to say... I read running magazines and books for around a year now. There is tons of helpful information in there: training suggestions, gear reviews, inspirational stories and and and. But as it is in life sometimes, only because you know, doesn't necessarily mean that the knowledge steers your action.

In this context, I am referring to TRACK WORKOUTS.



The goals in my running are still very basic... I want to increase my endurance and I want to get faster. It doesn't matter what you read or hear about running, the opinions are pretty much the same. If you want to increase your endurance, you have to increase your long runs and to get faster you have to do track workouts. So really when you open up a running magazine they just give suggestions on how to make long runs or track workouts more fun and interesting, but really never question the need for both. I think I am fairly okay when it comes to the long runs, but I never made it on a track. Terry and I have been talking about it and he actually started doing them for his marathon preparation, but I got stuck on the "talking about it" part.

Well, now that I am on the coach's plan, things are a little different. I had my first track workout scheduled for last night.

So yesterday I was monitoring the weather forecast. It looked horrible out there during the day... A lot of rain and windy. Fortunately by the time I got out to Furman the rain had stopped and the wind died down a couple of minutes here and there.

The workout started with a two mile warm-up. Instead of doing the warm-up on the track, I decided to run around the Furman campus, because there were no lights on the track and I didn't wanted to spend more time there than I had to. Of course I had my head lamp on, but running around in circles for two miles just seemed to be a little boring. I ended up completing the warm-up with one lap on the track, just to get my eyes used to the dark and to have a look around in general. The plan said to run 4x400 fast effort with a recovery lap in between which comes to a total of two miles for the track workout.

I never thought I would say that, but I actually enjoyed the time on the track. I am not saying that it was easy and I am not saying that in the final 400 I wasn't ready to call it a day, but it felt good to push my limits some... and for a little bit it didn't feel so good at all... that was when my stomach let me know that it won't let me do much more of these. I ended up pretty consistent with around a 7:09 minute/ mile pace for those fast efforts.

After the track I did another small loop around the campus for my one mile cool down.

And there is was... The first track workout in the books! ;-)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Busting An Urban Legend

When I meet new people and the fact that I am German comes up in the course of the conversation, I get to hear every now and then, that "David Hasselhoff is a superstar in Germany - right?" with a smirk. Whenever I first heard that, it was completely unexpected... Why would anyone say that?

I am writing this post, because the Berlin Wall opened up 20 years ago today. Even though I was just 11 years old at the time, I can remember this night. I remember my parents waking my brother and I up, so we could see the TV pictures of this moment when history was made. As a child, I had a hard time to understand the fact that our country was divided by a wall. I once saw a piece wall on a family vacation. It was just a wall in the middle of the country side. The first time I went to Berlin was several years later and we went to the museum at Checkpoint Charly. They had videos running on a loop that showed the development in the weeks before 11/9/1989 and ended with people celebrating on top of the Berlin Wall. What an amazing story!


Shortly after the border opened up, there was a concert at the Wall and they let David Hasselhoff perform. He had a song out at the time that was called "Looking for Freedom" and it kind of fit the "theme" of the party. And yes, he had the most sold album in Germany in 1989, but this is where his fame ends. This song was his only number 1 hit in Germany EVER! So PLEASE PLEASE, can we consider this legend as BUSTED? PLEASE!!

Coming back to the important things today! The Wall is gone. The Germans are one nation. I think both sides have gained a lot with being united. I lived in Berlin in the winter 1999/2000 and I worked at the Potsdamer Platz. This area used to be the death zone and 10 years after the fall of the wall, it was still a pretty empty area except the super new shiny buildings at the plaza that tried to fill it up. Back then, it still felt like a scar in the middle of the city. Every year after that, when I visited Berlin, the scar seemed to be getting smaller and less visible. It's a healing process and it takes time. I just looked at a Google Map satellite picture of this area and you can really only make it out, when you know where it was.



I haven't been in Berlin in years, but I still miss this city every now and then. Terry and I won't make it up there this time, but I am hoping to be able to show him this city on our next trip to Germany.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

2009 Xterra Paris Mountain Trails 11K

Results (based on Guntime):
1:25:05 (12:28 min per mile average)
Overall 95/131

This race was a last minute decision and I don't regret it whatsoever. This was a fun trail run on a wonderful day.



The day started out around 6:30AM. I got up and had some pita bread for breakfast and water. No granola bars this time, because of the GI disaster of last race. Stuck the foot out of the door and made my clothing choice: capris, a thin long sleeve, thin headband, gloves, SmartWool socks and my trail running shoes. Grabbed a couple of other things and then we were out the door. Terry didn't do the race, but he came along for cheering and photo taking purposes! ;-)

We got to Paris Mtn State Park at around 7:30AM. I picked up my number (lucky 124) and one of those gym bags. No t-shirts, but a pair of socks if you finish. By now, I have tons of race t-shirts, but I have to say, that I am always a little disappointed when they don't have one. Well, I'll get over that! ;-) On the way to the starting line we ran into Chris, our Blue Ridge Relay team captain and on the starting line we also found Alex and Dave also team members from the relay. With Kerrie being the sweeper at the race and Terry the journalist (and later involuntarily one of the volunteers! ;-), we had half of the relay team assembled... Only four made it into this pic though.



By the time we finished our little chit chat, it was almost time to rock'n'roll. I shed my additional layers and off we went. Since I was planning on taking this one pretty slow anyways, there was really no need to warm up. You ask why taking it slow? Well, it's a trail race, you have to be super cautious where you place your foot basically with every step you take and besides, I know this terrain, not the exact course but partially... I knew what was in store for us... No need to blow yourself up in the first two miles and then be exhausted by the time you hit the steep section of the Sulphur Springs trail. According to the Garmin we did a total of around 2,000 feet up and down in these 11K and here is the elevation profile.



The race started out on the road and then we turned onto Mountain Creek Trail. I stayed with Chris for the first mile or so and we spend the time talking a little. After a while, I started to pass people when possible... And it's not always possible since the trails are sometimes so narrow, but on the other hand, people are just so much nicer and talking to each other because the space is so limited at times. On the other hand, being stuck behind people every now and then helped me not to go out too fast. By the time we hit the steepest portion of the trail, we were all hiking instead of running. Time to take a couple of sips out of the water bottle, get rid of the gloves (stuffed them into my pants) and get a little breather. On top of Sulphur Springs, we made a left turn towards Firetower Trail and from there to Kanuga. Kanuga is tons of fun! Rolling downhill and beautiful views of the lake. I almost fell twice in this area and still don't know, how I was able to stay upright. From Kanuga we turned onto Brissy Ridge Trail and there I started hiking again every once in a while, but also was able to pass some more people in this section. At the end of Brissy Ridge Trail we crossed the parking lot at the top to pick up the Sulphur Springs Trail again. Terry was waiting on the parking lot to snap some pictures of us coming by. But he also directed the other participants to the trail. The signs they used to mark the course were fairly small and he had to tell several people where to go, so they wouldn't go down the hill on the road.



This is the picture from the top of the mountain, halfway through the race. I look exhausted but I actually felt pretty good.. If you look hard enough, you can see my double thumbs up sign! ;-) And the bumps on my knees are the gloves that slid down to my knees!

On that side, Sulphur Springs starts out with a short steep uphill and then a very steep down hill for the next half mile. They did the MTB Downhill Race a couple of weeks ago on this portion of the trail. Here, I tripped two more times and I am still surprised that I didn't fall flat on my face. When the trail finally flattened out, it felt great... The pounding was over. From then on, it was all rolling down hills to the finish line. I crossed the finish line, got my pair of socks (badge of honor) that turn out to be pretty nice and have the race name and the word "finisher" on them! ;-)

Dave and Alex were already done and had their first couple of pancakes. Yes, they had pancakes at the finish... Isn't that nice? I first downed a bottle of water and then got some pancakes myself. We waited until Chris came in, had a little more chit-chat and took off.

This was a nice race! A lot of fun! This is already the first race out of the 2010 Xterra series and I think there is a good chance, that I will do the other two races (15K and 8K) as well.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday's Ramble


This picture is completely unrelated to anything in this post, but I just thought it was cute and don't we all feel like this every now and then?? ;-)

  1. I am done with the first audio book bargain from the used book sale a couple of weeks ago. I started out with Bushworld by Maureen Dowd and really enjoyed listening to it. It's a collection of her column pieces from 1999 through 2004 about the Bush campaign and first presidency. Very insightful to read/ hear about this a couple of years after they have first been published... It took me a while to get into the groove of the book, the writing style and the content. It's also one of those pieces that you can NOT zone out for a couple of pages and still know what is going on. I have been talking to co-workers about it and will pass along for others to enjoy.

  2. On Wednesday I got smacked in the face so hard by the puppy, that I was swollen and my face and teeth hurt. Yesterday still wasn't all that great, but today I finally felt like myself again. She always gets so excited when I come home that she starts jumping around. While jumping around she knocked the remote off the couch and I bend down to pick it up again... At that exact moment she jumped up once more, smacking me in the face with the back of her head. Good times... Of course, she was completely unaware of what she just did.

  3. Since this week, I have a coach. For a while I have been talking about running a half marathon and even though I don't necessarily need a coach to accomplish that, I wanted to have some help to improve my running overall since it is my weakest discipline out of the tri sports. So now I am on the coach's plan and that is of course way more structured than the training plans that I created for myself in the past. With more structure I mean, that it not only tells me when I have to train which discipline, but also what intensity, length of workout, even down to drills and HR range. I know that this will take some time to get used to, but I have trust in Katie that she knows what I need to do, to get better.

  4. I postponed returning to the DMV to Wednesday. I just couldn't take this mayhem two days in a row. So on Wednesday I finally mustered up some courage to give a new driver's license another try. My initial waiting time has been way shorter than in the other office on Monday, but overall it took me the same amount of time to get back to work than in my first attempt. I was FUMING by the time I left the office and won't even go back into the details... Just too frustrating... But at least I have a new license now with a new picture that is going to make it so much easier to be identified as the person on the ID by the Wal-Mart cashier when I try to buy beer... I have to agree with all of the peeps that doubted it, since the picture looked nothing like me anymore.

  5. Did a 5:30AM easy morning run around the Caine Halter Y trial today. Oh boy, it's getting cold out there. During the day, we currently have sunshine and nice temperatures, but it sure gets cold as soon as the sun is gone. I really have to think about what I am going to wear for the race tomorrow. It's almost 7 miles, the sun will be out by the time we start and a lot of the leafs are already on the ground, so the woods are not as shaded anymore. I am thinking shorts and a light long sleeve. This morning I got warm 1 mile into the run and the sun wasn't even up by the time I was done.

HAPPY WEEKEND EVERYONE! ;-)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

After GM decided NOT to divorce

















English Translation: "I am sorry, Franky. I have to go back to my ex."

I am all for mending broken relationships! - Really!! But the number GM brought with deciding last minute to keep the Opel subsidiary, just made me shake my head. Nobody knows, if the Opel employees would have made a better deal with one of the potential buyers. But still... To keep potential buyers and governments of several nations busy with negotiations about selling this brand and then just cancel the deal after SEVERAL MONTHS of back and forth! Are you kidding me? I hope someone sends GM a big old bill for all the efforts, but I kinda doubt that that is going to happen.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Swimming In A Bubble



I needed as much sleep as I could get yesterday. So instead of going to the pool at the Middle Tyger Y in the morning, I went to the Caine Halter Y in the evening. This way I was also able to spend some time with Terry - at least so I thought. Swimming is not a very social sport to start with (head in the water and all) and on top of it, I ended up in the outside pool and Terry opted for the inside pool.

Outside pool hmmmm? I guess you wonder, what happened now, since I sometimes even chicken out with the competitive pool at the MTY. It's an outside pool alright, but in the cooler months, they put a bubble over the pool... So nothing has really changed and the water temps are actually pretty comfortable. People told me about the bubble, but yesterday was the first time that I actually saw and swam inside.

It's fascinating how different it felt. It's the same pool, but it looks 10 times bigger now that it's surrounded by the bubble than it looks when it's surrounded by the open deck. Also the sound echos completely different from an outside pool or a regular inside pool. I was startled a couple of times by people talking at the other end of the pool. It is also so much darker than regular inside pools, since they just put up a couple of construction site lamps on each side of the pool. That also reminds me that I won't need my shaded goggles for the next couple of months, but I do enjoy that it is darker.

Luckily, the pool wasn't very busy and I got a lane all by myself for the entire time of my swim. In total, I did 3,000 yards in 1h 10mins. When I am not working out with a swim plan, I break my workouts down in sets of 500's. Yesterday looked pretty much like this: 500 freestyle, 500 kicks with fins and kick board (alternating 50 on side and 50 straight), 500 freestyle, 500 with paddles and buoy, 500 alternating kicks with kick board and breast stroke, 300 alternating freestyle and kicks with fins and 200 freestyle. I haven't used the fins in a while and this was maybe a little much to get back into it, but I feel fine today.

It was a good workout, I really enjoyed it and I sure slept like a rock last night.

On other news: I made a decision about the weekend workout plans. Currently, my bike fitness is pretty much not existing and I also didn't find a buddy to come along with me on the Leaf Tour ride. Therefore, I decided to sign up for the XTERRA Paris Mountain Trail 11K this Saturday. Some of my Blue Ridge Relay team members are going to do the race as well, so that's going to be fun.... And tough... I have no idea on which trails the race is going to be and honestly, maybe it's better not to know. My race strategy is: don't burn myself up on the uphills, don't burn myself up on the downhills, if it's too steep there is no shame in hiking the section and DON'T twist an ankle!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Today At The DMV

I got pulled over by an officer last Friday, because my registration has expired... in August. Oops. I completely forgot about that one. I paid my taxes and all that good stuff, but the new registration with my sticker just didn't reach me (I guess because of my move) and I didn't even notice. Anyways, the officer was very polite and efficient and all that good stuff and when I show up in court in two weeks, I hopefully get the fine waived when I present my new registration. I'll keep you posted on that one.

To get that out of the way and also to finally get a new driver's license with my new address, I headed over to the DMV (for my German friends: Landratsamt) over lunch. I picked the DMV closest to work and hoped it wouldn't be too busy. Yeah right... A girl can dream right?

I thought about taking my magazines to read during the waiting time, but of course I forgot and since I wasn't occupied with anything, this 18 year old (I know, because he told me) redneck started talking to me.... That was kinda frightening but let me recap. Now I know, why he just getting his license now even though he's already 18. Also he shared with me, why "the man" is bringing you down... This one was a little confusing... There was a reference to the bible, then there were laws and then someone invented the stop sign... At this point I told him "not to go there" which finally shut him up. Then he started talking to the woman next to me and when she wasn't so talkative, he started talking to the girl standing on the other side. I tried to see on his application what box he checked on the question with the mental illnesses... Oh wow...

I got there by 11:58AM and finally made it to one of the counters around 12:30PM. Getting my registration was a two minute deal. Then I asked to get a new driver's license since my address has changed and while I pushed the paperwork over to her, I told her that I am not a U.S. citizen... Out of experience, saying this upfront, speeds up the process... Also in this case, but not as desired. She looked at my paperwork and then asked me if I have proof of citizenship. I showed her my passport with my visa. Then she told me, that she needs proof of naturalization and I didn't know what she was talking about... Once again, I pointed to my passport. Then she asked a co-worker to come over and once again I was told that they need a proof of naturalization, since I need to proof that I am a U.S. citizen. Then I said: "I already proofed that I am NOT a U.S. citizen!" Then the light bulbs went on and I was told, that they cannot issue driver's licenses for non-citizen in this office and that I need to go to the office on the other side of town.

We'll at least I know, what I will do tomorrow for lunch!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween 2009 Weekend

Something completely unrelated up front: Can you believe it's November already??

Yesterday I reached a milestone in my running. I did my first ever 10-miler and when I started running that day, I didn't even plan on doing that much. After getting some stuff around the house done in the morning, I got ready for my run. I decided to take the puppy along for the 2 mile loop around the block and then drop her off at the house again. Instead of the 2 mile loop, we did a 3.6 mile loop before I dropped Karma off. I sure wore the doggy out... Terry said that she curled up and fell asleep as soon as she got back in! ;-) I made a little pit stop and had some water and actually told Terry, that I will shoot for another 6 miles since I felt good. And I kept on feeling good looping around the neighborhood streets up and down the side of Paris Mountain. I just enjoyed the fresh air and the light breeze and the little drizzle of rain every now and then. Around mile 8.5, I started to get hungry and thirsty... I didn't have any water with me nor any food. That was quite a blond moment right there. But I stuck it out even though the last half mile was just tough. As soon as the Garmin beeped for 10 miles I hit stop and walked back to the house, which was another half mile. But the walking felt good by then... I had a smile on my face the whole way back... My first 10-miler... Now, that I seriously think about doing the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon in February, it just seems so much more doable. Funny thing though is that I seem to have only one speed, a 10-minute-mile. No matter if I do a 4-miler on flat terrain like on Wednesday or a hilly 10-miler like yesterday... I have a 10-minute-mile pace... That needs to change!!!

For Halloween we went to a party that a couple of Salsa buddies give every year... And as every year, it was a great success! As I mentioned previously, my scary fairy outfit kept me pulling down the skirt all night Thursday, so I decided to go as a TRIATHLETE! ;-) I know, that was super creative, but I tell you something... The costume was readily available in my closet and I was SUPER comfy all night long. Here are a couple of (random) pics from last night.


Cop and criminal... Just a couple of centuries apart! ;-)


The Shimmy Girls!


Mafioso and Triathlete dancing Salsa.

Since the party was so much fun, we kinda got in bed late... For us it was late anyways and Karma also made sure this morning, that we wouldn't sleep in. ARRRRGGGGHHH!

In the early afternoon, we set out to do a short bike ride. Both Terry and I haven't been riding the bike outside for maybe a month... The weather was perfect! Around 60 degrees, light breeze and dry... I actually overdressed a little and was warm after 5 minutes on the bike. We rode from the house to Travelers Rest and back and then did our 4 mile running loop. We ended up with a little less than 14 miles and a lot of hills. My legs felt crappy... I guess due to the run from yesterday and the fact that I didn't get a lot of sleep last night... The food and beverage intake at the party might have played into it on top of it. Crappy legs or not, it still felt great to be out there on the bike again. But honestly, I think I have to opt out of the Leaf Tour next Saturday. I think I would be able to make it, but it sure won't be pretty. Well, I still have almost a week to make up my mind about that!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Devil Rose Black And White Vampire Fairy

This was my description when a co-worker asked me, what I ended up getting as a costume for Halloween. Honestly, I don't have a clue, what this costume is supposed to be, it was selected by ticking off the following points:

1) inexpensive
2) shirt covers my behind
3) doesn't smell like rubber, glue or the combination

Seriously, it's hard to find a Halloween costume that appropriately covers your bandonkadonk. It's either skimpy short or down to the ankles... Moderation people, moderation.

Anyhow... This is how we went Salsa dancing last night.



And now in retrospective, criteria 2) really wasn't fulfilled. The skirt is just barely covering the derriere when standing, but when I was out on the dance floor dancing and spinning, I basically gave a free show... You are welcome!

I think I have to put together an alternative costume for the Salsa Halloween party on Saturday... And I think I have an idea. Here is a clue: body marks! ;-)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Unnecessary Issues

Unfortunately, not even the world of fitness/ free time/ age group athletes is free of controversial issues.


So far, I haven't met a person through endurance sports that wasn't pleasant, but when you get into the nitty gritty of things there or certain topics out there, that just get the tempers going. There have been several controversial matters lately, that made the web buzz and now I also want to throw in my two cents... Why? Because this is my blog and I decided so! ;-)


The iPod Discussion!


Superficially, this discussion seem to be black and white. Either you are pro or con using MP3 players while running or cycling on the road. But since this topic is so widely discussed EVERYWHERE, we come to find out that there is a lot of in between as well. For example, only using when training, only when the sun shines, only one ear bud. A lot of races don't allow iPods to be used due to safety concerns and if you don't comply to this rule you are at risk to be DQed if an official sees you. So you either go without player or don't complain if they disqualify you. For me personally, I choose not to use an iPod while running or cycling on the road, because it makes me uncomfortable to be cut off the noises of my surrounding e.g. chasing dogs, approaching cars etc. For others, this is not a concern and that is fine with me too. At the end of the day it's to each it's own.


"Getting chicked"


In case you haven't heard this expression yet: If a girl beats a guy in a race, then he "got chicked". And I see that for some guys, getting chicked is a real problem during a race or a great motivator to go faster. But I also heard several women telling tales that they chicked a guy. I wonder, if this is just a topic for the people that race for podium positions or if this also applies to to mid of the pack people such as myself? Hmmmm... I have to confess that I caught myself thinking a couple of times things like: that girl looks like she is in my age group, I have to try to pass her etc. And I still find great pleasure in the fact that I beat Terry in the tri that we did earlier this year, also with the knowledge that this would be most likely the only time I will be able to beat him... But I never thought of it in terms of to chick him, but more as healthy family rivalry! ;-) But if all of us mid pack people are honest with ourselves, than we have to agree that it doesn't matter how you place compared to others (324th out of 678 or 321st out of 678), as long as you reached the goals that you set for yourself. One eye opener moment in this regard for me was the Cooper River Bridge Run 10K this year in Charleston. My 1st goal for this race was to run it under one hour and my 2nd goal was to improve the 10K time that I ran a month earlier in the Reedy River Run in Greenville. Looking at the results in the paper the next day, I saw that a lot of the 14 and under age grouper are faster than I am and a lot of the 70 and over age grouper are faster than me. But bottom line was, that I reached my 1st goal, but missed my 2nd one and those are the only means of measure for a race that should count for me.


Marathon As Elite Event?


Marathon is defined as "foot race over a course measuring 26 miles and 385 yards (42 kilometers and 195 meters)". The definition doesn't say how fast the distance has to be travelled in order to count as marathon, to travel this distance by foot is defined as a marathon. It makes sense to me to have some sort of cut-off time in a marathon event, because there is just a lot of logistics going into this and the longer they have to close down roads the more expensive the event is going to be for the organizers. But telling people that they didn't really do a marathon only because they didn't make it in a certain time frame? To some runners a 14-minute-mile feels just as hard of an effort as an 8-minute-mile to others, just like the 8-minute-mile participants they put time into their preparation, paid the registration fee and had pre-race jitters. I prefer a person that walks a marathon over a person that stays on the couch any time... Honestly, I admire everyone that even attempts a marathon, just because as of now, I still cannot wrap my mind around the idea of being on my feet for 26.2 miles. Probably this is just mental for me and maybe step by step I will tear down this wall in my head, we'll see.