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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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

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

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


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! ;-)


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


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.


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!