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!


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! ;-)

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.


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