Monday, October 31, 2011

Yoga Room

Remember the little switcheroo, I mentioned a couple of weeks ago?

All of the hard work that we put into this weekend was followed by more hard work and elbow grease over the last two weeks. While we still had several rooms look like storage facilities, we are now down to just the office still looking a little all over the place.

Besides the bed room (which I absolutely love now), we now have something resembling an exercise room. A room, that has enough space to put down a yoga mat, can close a door, so the dog doesn't jump all over me and is not the bed room. It also holds Terry's and mine excessive amount of workout gear.


Eventually, this room might even house the bike trainer too... We'll see. Right now, I am just so happy about the progress we made in the house over the last couple of months and to be able to enjoy the space.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pretty Day Trail Running

What a pretty day it was today. Lucky me, the schedule was calling for a trail run with the dog and once the dog got all whiney in the house with pinned up energy and all, I finally made it on the upper loop trail in Paris Mtn State Park a little after 1PM.

It sure was beautiful and obviously, everyone else in Greenville had the same idea and with all the dodging for hikers, mountain bikers and other dogs, it was hard to get into a rhythm.

Those extra stops at least provided me with tons of opportunities to snap a couple of pictures to capture the run.

This was my first run since the race last Saturday and it felt pretty good. I am very happy about that, especially with Ragnar Relay Tennessee coming up next weekend.

The colors start to get really pretty in the Upstate, but I don't think it's already at it's peak. It's going to be interesting to see, how much we'll see of the fall foliage when traveling to Chattanooga and through Tennessee... Can you tell, that I start to get excited to spend 30 hours in a van with 5 of my team members???? Sleep deprivation, silly jokes, runner's poop talk and the smell that comes with running three times, don't get to shower and store you sweaty gear in the van as well. Are you jealous already?

Anyways, I ended up with 5.5 miles at a 12:30 pace, which isn't all that bad on the trail. I am okay with that. Added bonus: The dog is completely pooped right now... Glorious... I wonder, if this one is ever going to calm down.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Off Season Goals

While this post goes online, I will be out on the road, riding my bike next to the women's lead pack at the Spinx marathon. I genuinely  was looking forward to this volunteer assignment, while at the same time was nervous about it too. Basically, we have to make sure that the lead pack is turning at all the right places.... No pressure right?? Besides nightmares about letting the leading ladies in the marathon make a wrong turn and screw up their race, I am just antsy to see this race unfold right before my eyes and see some really good runners hauling a$$ on the asphalt.


It's now a week since my last race of the season. That was plenty of time, to really focus on what I want to accomplish over the off season. Here is a first shot at the goals, that most likely going to be adjusted/ amended over the next couple of months.

  1. Get stronger. That means I have to go back to the gym and start lifting again. On Thursday, I did my first lifting class in several months and boy, I got my butt handed to me.
  2. Get more flexible again. Yesterday morning, I did a yoga session at home and had to find out, that I lost a lot of my flexibility over this tri season, when I neglected yoga completely.
  3. Mix it up. November and December will be used to mix up the tri routine with gym classes, yoga, hiking and whatever else presents itself. My tri team buddy and I were talking about rock climbing and I would really like to tri out Crossfit. Now all I need is a Groupon deal... Pretty please! And yes, there actually were Groupon deals for rock climbing in the area recently and I just didn't pull the trigger. DUH!
  4. Get faster. January and February will be focussed on becoming a faster and stronger runner. The distance will go down (not weekly mileage, I will have shorter runs, but more of them) and the intensity of the runs is going to go up. The December half marathon is off the table and the focus will be on speed, speed and speed. I am sick and tired to get passed on the run during triathlons and the focus on speedy (rather than distance) running is hopefully going to let me be a more rounded triathlete come next season.
  5. Plan and save. By the end of the year, I want to have my tri season mostly planned out and want to be signed up for the races as possible. The series that I am looking at right now for next season has some good prices as long as you get registered before January 1st.
That's all I can think of right now.

About my back.

I do feel much better compared to last Saturday. I was still in quite some pain Sunday morning, but ever since pre riding the Spinx course in the afternoon on my roadie, I am mostly pain free.

After talking to several of my tri buddies and my coach and really trying to figure out when all of this back pain stuff started, I was always coming back to the tri bike. Yes, the brand new shiny and so pretty new tri bike. What I am thinking right now is, that I have been fitted too aggressive on the bike and my lower back or maybe even my hamstrings cannot support this position for longer periods of time. Funny enough: I never had pain while on the bike or running, but while sitting in my office chair and when I was standing for longer periods of time. Goal one and two from above is going to help some with this, but I am also going to get me fitted once more on the bike. This time by the guy that also fitted me on the road bike and I am very happy with that and do have a lot of trust that tri bike and I will be best buds again soon.

While I do think that the new bike fit is going to eliminate the back pain stuff, I also started some core exercises that were specifically developed to conquer back pain (Foundation by Dr. Eric Goodman and Peter Park). Terry had a lot of success with these exercises in a pretty short period of time and he also says that he can really feel the difference in his running as well. No back pain and becoming a stronger runner... Sign me up!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Security Question Freak Out

This past week, I had to fill out some extra paper work to get access for a program at work. In order for them to issue a digital certificate, I received this list of questions and it moved me into panic mode within five seconds:
* What was your childhood nickname that most people do not know?
* In what city was your mother born? (Enter full name of city only)
* In what city was your father born?  (Enter full name of city only)
* What is the first and last name of your childhood best friend?
* What is the first and last name of your mother’s father? (Your maternal grandfather)
* What is the first and last name of your father’s father? (Your paternal grandfather)
* What was the name of your first pet?
* What was the first and last name of your maid/matron of honor at your wedding?
* What was the first and last name of your best man at your wedding?
* What is the first and last name of your oldest niece?
* What is the first and last name of your oldest nephew?
* What is the first and last name of your first manager?
* What was the first and last name of your first girlfriend/boyfriend?
* What was the last name of your favorite teacher in your final year of school?
* What was the first concert you attended? 
* What was the first foreign country you visited?
I would have to research half of this or just come up with answers and then try to remember what I came up with.
Eventually, I actually read through all of the instructions and as it turns out, I'll just have to pick one as my security question. Phew! That really got the heart pumping for a little while!
Now be honest: Could you answer all of these questions right away??

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Transition Week

I don't normally have a ton of rest days on the schedule. Sometimes weeks go by without one. So imagine my surprise, when I opened up TrainingPeaks to find that this week is going to be "transition week" and that I had two rest days scheduled to hit it off and easy workouts for the remainder of the week.

 This "transition week" thing is going to be my new best friend!

To kick off transition week, I didn't have to:
  • pack any workout gear Sunday night
  • get up at 4:30am
  • get a workout in before work
  • get a workout in after work
  • pack any workout gear Monday night either

I did get a long walk in with the doggie as soon as I got back from work and prepared by work lunch for today. Sometimes, eating out during the week is so much easier, because I just don't want to fit in one more thing before I finally can go to bed in high volume weeks. I do know, that especially in those weeks it's important to stay on track with nutrition, but I guess I just can't win them all.

Transition week is not going to last forever, but I am sure to enjoy it, while it lasts.

Today my schedule says: "Think about your off season goals!" I am not thinking of anything else, since I crossed that finish line on Saturday... Stay tuned!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Race Report: Hickory Knob International Triathlon

1,500 meter open water - 28m bike - 10k run

Results (based on chip time):

Swim 32m 43s (1:59 min/ 100 yards) GR 2/26 AG 1/4
T1 2m 20s
Bike 1h 38m 51s (speed  17.0 mph) GR 7/26 AG 3/4
T2 2m 17s
Run 1h 04m 18s (pace 10:22 min/mile) GR 17/26 AG 4/4

TOTAL 3h 20m 27s GR 10/26 AG 4/4
GR= gender rank AG= age group


My friend and tri team buddy Audrey and I took off Friday afternoon for Greenwood, where we would stay the night and then drive the remaining 20 miles to McCormick at race morning. Once in Greenwood, we checked in the hotel, had dinner (Italian... I overdosed on bread) and then watched Wipe Out on TV until the lights went off.

I tossed and turned all night, not because of races nerves, but because of the poor quality of the bed. The next morning I was awake before the alarm at 6am (race start at 9am rocks!) and we slowly got our stuff together and hit the road a little before 7am. I had a banana in the hotel room and then a cashew cookie larabar in the car... That seem to be just the amount of fueling I needed.

We got to the race site, got body marked and set-up transition. Talked with some friends and then just went through the pre-race routine. Audrey was doing the sprint, I was signed up for the international. I really felt stupid for signing up for the international, I was dreading the temps (water was 67 degrees) and everyone around me had toe covers over their bike shoes and gloves. In a bright moment the day before, I threw my cycling wind breaker in my bag and that really saved me.

My feet already felt like frozen stomps by the time I was finally squeezed in my wetsuit and zipped up. But once I sat on the dock and put my feet in the water, I knew I would be fine. The water felt warmer than the air at that point and wearing my neoprene swim cap over the race issued swim cap probably helped too.

One thing that I haven't mentioned here before, is that I have been battling lower back pain for a couple of weeks now. I have been mostly ignoring it, because I thought it's going to go away eventually and it sometimes does, but Saturday was not one of those days and the above mentioned bed certainly didn't help. Funny enough, I was able to train pretty normal, because I don't feel the pain much while swimming, cycling and running in training, but the volume of pain also was turned up a notch in the last couple of days. When the friendly lady next to me in transition zipped my wetsuit up, I felt the pressure on my lower back immediately and while I wasn't worried about the swim or bike, I kind of mentally braced myself for potentially walking the 10K.


While I really struggled the last time I raced in a wetsuit and sorta blamed the wetsuit for it, I knew the moment I was in the water, that this is going to be a good one... I was just calm and relaxed and for the first time looking forward to doing this race. There was no chop, the sun was up and the fog we saw earlier had disappeared.

The first 200 meters I bumped into people on and off and some people bumped into me. Nothing bad though. Eventually I found some feet that looked like they were going at a good clip and just latched on to them. I stuck with her until after the first turn buoy (500 meters), but then we ran into some traffic from the previous wave and I lost her for a while until I was able to draft some more after the second turn buoy at the 1000 meter mark.

Eventually, we ran into the sprint swimmers and from then on, I just booked it in a straight line back to the dock where I just reached my hand to one of the volunteers and with one big pull, I was flopped on the dock (think beached whale here for a second). The speed of all of this took me by surprise and I needed a second to get on my feet.

The last part of the swim was the run hike up to transition where the timing mat was. My back was a little peed off after the swim and the first couple attempts to jog from the deck hurt a lot, but since it was all so steep anyways, I just hiked up and by the time I was in the flatter area, the muscles relaxed to a point, where I was able to jog.

I am soooo happy about my swim... Stoked to have the 2nd fasted swim time (disclaimer: the results stated 3rd Saturday night, now they say 2nd, I hope this is the final version now) out of all the women doing the international distance... Stoked about the time itself, especially because it included the run up to transition... STOKED!
Thanks for the picture, Sarah!

My T1 time was certainly a little longer than I like them to be. It took me a while to get out of the wetsuit and throw my jacket and put socks on... All these extra steps! ;-) But other than that, T1 was pretty uneventful and I was on the bike.


My instruction for this leg was: "Ride the bike like you stole it!"

While I thought I had a solid bike, I am not 100% happy with it. I am not quite happy with the time, even though 7th fasted female bike split is not too bad either. I was just really fighting my demons a lot during this ride. Some of it could have been prevented by just studying a course map for once and some elevation charts to get more of a feel of the course and what to expect. I talked to people that did this tri before and they warned me about two miserable hills and one girl said that the whole course is pretty rolling. Well, it felt like the whole course was either going up or going down. There were no really flat sections where you could hammer it out for a couple of miles and the constant up and down was just wearing me out.

Thanks for the picture, JJ!
The first five miles of the course was shared with the sprinters and therefore on the crowded side, but not too bad. I got passed by several women in that section, but really didn't know if they were doing the sprint or the international distance. After the sprint turnaround, there was much less traffic and I saw a couple of guys in the distance and that was about it. A couple of times I got passed by guys but not one woman and I freaked out... I had all kinds of stuff going on in my head, that I was the last on the international course and that the run would be really really lonely. Of course it was BS and instead of focussing my energy on how I manage the wind and the hills and my back (which was fine on the bike as long as I didn't try to eat or drink.. which I still did, but it was painful)... I let my mind worry about that stuff. Not good! In the last five miles of the course, I got passed by a couple of women and trying to keep them in my site until getting to transition was giving me the focus that I needed.

On my way back to transition, I saw Audrey at the car racking her bike being done for the day and once again, I wished I had signed up for the sprint distance. I rode up all the way to the dismount line, unclipped and tried to start running with the bike, when the sh!t hit the fan.


The moment I tried to stand upright, the muscles in my lower back were seizing up on me. I don't know, if I cried out or if I just showed all the pain on my face, but everyone around me suddenly asked if I was alright. I just tried to move forward somehow.... running didn't work and so I walked into transition, to my rack, changed shoes, took of my jacket, grabbed the visor and a water bottle and walked out of transition. While this transition time is slow compared to my regular transition times, it felt so much slower when I actually did it, that I was surprised to find out that it was still faster than my T1 - barely.


While I gingerly walked out of transition, I tried to hold back tears and just get used to the possibility that I might really end up walking this 10K. I tried to start jogging, but it felt like fireworks were being set off in my back and then I just cried for a minute and was back to walking.... After a while of walking, I felt the muscles starting to release in my back and maybe a quarter mile into the run, I tried to run again and it felt alright, so I kept on going and I didn't have any more bad pain until after the race, after I sat in a car for two hours driving home and a good bit into a party that I was at that night... Maybe that was also the Ibuprofen wearing off that I took right after the race. I'll get to this back pain stuff a little more in another post.

After I started running it actually felt pretty decent. I wasn't winning any speed records and was as usual passed by a lot of women on the run, but at least I was running and that made me very happy. I still walked up the steep hills on the course, but other than that, I was running the remainder of the course. At one point, shortly before I reached the turnaround, I actually noticed that I let my focus slide again and wasn't even close to pushing it.... So I started to push more.

In the last mile of the run, I saw a girl in front of me and I made it my mission to pass her and I made it... I was actually picking up speed in the last couple of miles and felt like I had still something left in the tank* crossing the finish line... Even though breathing was really hard for a couple of minutes right after the finish. That's unusual for me.

*I will follow-up on this in a post, I want to write about my off season goals... And this tri was far from going perfect for me, but so perfect to send me into the off season showing me the things I need to work on!


I went for a bbq sandwhich  right after I crossed the finish line. Then packed up my stuff and waited for the awards ceremony. I was hoping to place in my age group, but that didn't happen, but given that all four of the girls in my age group ended up in the top 10, I can't be too mad about it. Also, the girl in 3rd was 6 minutes faster than me, so it's not like a faster transition or something like that was the deal breaker.

We then drove home rehashing the race, the season and everything else triathlon related. After that, I got even more tri stuff in by going to an Ironman send off party for some of my team mates, before finally calling it a day. At the end, I couldn't sit or stand anymore with my back, so it was time to head home.

While I was dreading this race for weeks and then cursed myself for signing up for the international instead of the sprint... Looking back now, I think it was the perfect ending for the season.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Germany Trip - Party

While I am sitting at my desk eating leftovers, I thought this is as good of a time as any to finally write a little something something about my trip to Germany three weeks or so ago.

The reason for the trip was my dad's 70th birthday and for the occasion there would be a big ole part-y! And by party, I actually do mean party and not a retirement home afternoon tea. My parents have a pretty dang lively social life and routinely stay up until the wee hours if they are in the company of their friends... They might not recover fast anymore from partying, but they still do it! ;-) Good for them.


I left out of Charlotte Airport on Tuesday afternoon, after completing a morning track session and wrapping up details on the (birthday) bike purchase. On the plane, I had the pleasure of a free seat right next to me, which rarely happens and then I ordered two (mini) bottles of red wine, which I never do, and passed out for a couple of hours. I sure don't hold my liquor well, but sleeping on a plane is unheard of for me, so I am just glad, I got some shut-eye.

We touched down in Frankfurt one hour early and since that is unheard of as well, I sat around for an hour waiting for my parents to get me. On our way back home, we picked up my aunt, who was going to stay with us for a couple of days and once my doggie bro Pauli finally calmed down (too many people, too much excitement), I got some good good breakfast.

For the next couple of days (Wednesday and Thursday) we prepped the party location which was my brother's vaulted cellar in his couple hundred year old house. The access to the cellar were these (slick) couple of steps and we had to drag all the party supplies down there (and up again at the days after the party - yay). Fortunately, the tables and chairs were already there when I got there, but everything else had to be set-up.

And because something had to happen eventually, I am happy to report, that I was the one missing a step and sliding down the stairs with a box full of plates and cups... except one cup, everything stayed unharmed. I had a bruised butt and some scratching on my elbow, but all in all, I was very lucky.

After several hours of work on both days, the dining area of the cellar looked like this:

Pretty sweet hmmmm? My mom had the decoration themed with fall colors and patters and everything just looked very very nice.

On Friday it was my dad's actual birthday and we kicked the day off with another yummie breakfast. Well, I actually kicked the day off with a 7 mile run and took "little" Pauli with me. The plan was to wear him out before the guests come. That didn't quite work, even though you could see that he was dragging his feet a little at the end of the run, but he had plenty of time to recharge before the party started.

I also had the assignment to leave the flower pot at some flower beds on the side of the road, because the owner of the flower bed was asked to prepare the beautiful bouguet that you see in the picture above. You know you are in the country, when you drop of the flower pot on the side of the road and it's still there 10 hours later when you found out, that you haven't dropped it of at the right location and the flower person never even saw it. It all worked out in the end.

My brother and I were in charge of the bar. Which is pretty funny, to put me at the bar, because I have no clue was "goes" into stuff... But I was helping with refilling glasses and handing out beer and wine bottles to the guests, while my brother took care of the mixed stuff... Including my mixed beverages... Which reminds me: must find Aperol here.

The food was catered and very yummie. I think the guests had a great time. I had a great time, just seeing everybody again.... This was an opportunity, that doesn't present itself so often. When I normally visit, I struggle to meet my friends and family, so no chance to meet all of my parent's friends too and those are the people I grew up with. Sometimes, they call me on Skype when they have a get-together, so I can see them. Anyways, my mom actually didn't tell anybody, that I was going to be there, so that was quite a surprise... for me too! ;-)

Here is my mom and dad. Both of them have been very active in the local sports club for several decades. At this moment, some of them were crashing the party to sing happy birthday and a couple of other old songs to my dad. They gave him a trophy as honored member and my mom got a flower bouguet for letting him out of the house to volunteer for the club! ;-)

The fun part for me was seeing all these people again, including my former gym coach! She stayed around for little while after the serenading was done and we got to catch up a little.

Eventually the party peetered out... And good it did, because at this point, I was fading fast.

I leave you with Pauli enjoying a goody from the cheese platter... It sure was a good day to turn 70... but it sure was also a good day to be dog in our household. He seriously got spoiled, even more than usual.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

So much for....

Trying to catch up on my blog posts.... It's going to happen eventually.

Right now I am making use of the time that I lay awake in bed. Given, it's not that early anymore, but I already caught up on emails, Facebook, twitter and word with friends when I remembered the blog and that my last update was last Monday.

First of all, I am kind of mad that I wasn't able to sleep longer, especially since yesterday was a rough day and I felt like sleeping anything less than 10 hours isn't going to help.... And here we are, wide awake, but at least I feel halfway recovered.

What's going on???

Well, I was in my last higher volume week for the season before my last triathlon this Saturday. All I have left to do is a ten miler today and next week is going to be much less volume. Can't wait! I am hanging by a thread.

Of course, my last week of higher volume is perfectly timed to coincide with the arrival of our new bedroom furniture and a pretty big switcheroo of rooms in the house that left us (well Terry did most of this) with paint jobs, cabling work, breaking down and building up of furniture... A smaller task, but still quite time consuming was the reorganization and the cleaning and the sorting and trying to not go insane.

It starts to come together. We made a lot of progress yesterday, but collapsed after dinner completely exhausted and sore. A 45 mile bike ride and working in the house for the rest of the day will do that to you.

With that being said... I am now going to start this day! Ready or not, here I come!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, October 10, 2011

This season has been too long...

... or I am too weak.

We hadn't had one of those "I am questioning everything I do posts" in a while so here goes nothing:

It doesn't happen all too often, but this morning I pushed the snooze button and gave myself another 1.5 hours of sleep... I have been whining about being tired for a couple of days now and even sleeping in on both Saturday and Sunday (until 9am gasp!) didn't improve the situation.

Good thing I did skip the swim, because when I repacked my swim bag for a potential swim after work today, I noticed that I didn't pack my swim suit last night. And yesterday, I forgot my Garmin and visor when I packed for my run.... Not good.

On the one hand, I am thinking: Your last tri of the season is in two weeks: suck it up buttercup and get it done. On the other hand, I am thinking: Whatever.

At this point, I am wondering, if my season has just been too long. While the year shifted from cycle focus in the spring to a triathlon focus over the summer into the fall, my volume total has been as high as never before at this time of the year.... I loved seeing the numbers and I am proud of a *knockonwood* injury free season that didn't see more than a couple of sore spots and occasional spurs of being tired and unmotivated. It's normal right? You can't go full steam all the time. And it's time for off-season, because I don't do much more than going through the motions at this point. My eating habits have been sliding from good to bad to worse in the last 1.5 months and I can't get a grip on motivating myself to make better descisions for more than one meal out of ten. The workouts have been ticked off, but I have been dreading most of them lately.

Of course it all came down to my planning for this year... I made this plan for myself and will have to take a good hard look at this year and the last couple of years to see what worked and what didn't and how I want to go from here for 2012. Currently I am thinking along the lines of a spring half ironman and an epic bike ride in the late summer/ fall. I thought by spacing out my races this year to one or two events per month would make it easier on me and just completely underestimated what it's going to take to keep myself in tri racing shape for half a year. So why not race every weekend (just kidding!) for two months and be done with it??

In the meantime, I still have three races on tap for 2011. My last triathlon (olympic distance) in two weeks, Ragnar Relay Tennessee (for fun!) in November and a half marathon in early December with a PR attempt.

I caught myself yesterday at the Y picking up a postcard ad for the Resolution Half in Travelers Rest early January and thought to myself: "Well, that race was nice last year and a half on the calendar would keep you on track over the holidays!" In the meantime I think: Screw it! Once I have that half in the bag in December, I call it a day from structure training for the rest of the year, so I am ready to go and hungry for it once we ring in the new year.

In the meantime, I ended up hitting the pool after work. Suck it up, buttercup. Just another two weeks!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Kona Coverage

Today is a beautiful day to be outside. Today is also the IM World Championship in Kona. So after I got my own workout in the late morning, I will spend the rest of the day watching other people sweat.

We set-up shop on the couch and streaming the live coverage on Universal Sports over the TV.

How is your weekend shaping up? ;-)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

NYC: The Grub

Still trying to get caught up from my little blogging hiatus, here another NYC post (here is the first one).


Let's get to the good stuff about the New York trip: THE FOOD

We hit up some street vendors and there was a (late night) trip to McDonalds, but other than that, we stuck with non chain kind places.

I have always read about, but never used their site. For whatever reason, I downloaded the app while waiting in Charlotte at the airport and that was a major help for us to find good food.

Hit it!

(Caribbean) Soule - Brooklyn

I started to scan Groupon for NYC restaurant deals a couple of weeks before our trip. While it seemed a good idea at a time, the lack for really knowing the area and the lack of knowing what we'll be doing when, kind of made the whole thing a little unpractical. But we ended up going the first night, just to basically get it out of the way. The food was good. If I had paid full price for it, I would have been upset. They had a separate menu for Groupon customers and that's something I don't really care for and know, that a lot of restaurants don't handle their Groupon deals that way. But time to move on.

Shanghai Cafe - Chinatown

The next day, we were walking around Chinatown around lunch time. I pulled up yelp on my phone and we were soon on a wild goose chase (as fast as you can walk with thousands of people on the sidewalks in Chinatown) in search for a restaurant that had at least 4 stars and was marked with one $ sign (read: cheap). The first place we walked into was PACKED. No way we would get anything to eat anytime soon, so we walked a block down he road and ended up at the Shanghai Cafe.

The decor is not your traditional Chinese, but more a stainless steel and neon light variety... but not in bad way, it was actually pretty nice looking.

When we walked in, I saw wood baskets with steamed dumplings sitting on every other table, so that seemed to be a popular dish in there and that's what I was going for.... It took a little while for us to get our order in, since our Chinese is really rusty and so was the waiters English, but we both ended up with very very tasty dished. Score!

Bianca - NoHo

That evening before seeing STOMP, we had dinner at Bianca. If it wasn't for yelp, we would have never gotten on this street and even with, we almost walked past it.

This is a teeny tiny place with rustic decor and tables tightly cramped in. The menu is short and full of Italian pasta classics and a couple of meat and seafood dishes.

I kept it simple with Spaghetti Marinara and from looks and taste, those spaghetti were homemade and Terry claimed he had the best Lasagne of his life. Can't beat that! ;-)

Salvadoreno Usuluteco

After a long weekend and day of sightseeing, we decided to keep dinner close to the hotel on our last night. The restaurant was labeled as "Southamerican Food" and the place looked kind of funny and I probably would have just walked past it, if the reviews on yelp were not as good as they were... At that was the only place around that had reviews like this.

So we walked in and the decor is very sober. Think industrial lighting, plastic table covers and artificial flowers. Once again, getting the order in was the most challenging part since the waitress almost didn't speak any English and my Spanish is good enough to order beer, but that's about it.

It took the forever to get the food out, but there was the Southamerican version of Dancing with the Stars on TV and when they started to Karaoke night, they also dimmed the industrial lighting, which made the whole place a little easier on the eyes. So the food took forever to get to our table, but boy it was well worth the wait.

I had stuffed peppers, rice and baked plantains and I was glad that I eventually ran out of food on my plate otherwise I would have kept on eating and eating and eating... Seriously, it was that good.

So here's to being adventurous (a little) with our food choices on our trip. Or like that one guide on the bus said: "I forgive you, if you had lunch at Ruby Tuesdays on Times Square, but for dinner, please try out any place in Chinatown, where you can feed a family of four with the same money you spend on one for lunch!"

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Race Report: Western North Carolina Open Water Challenge 3K

Date of the race: 9/17/2011

50m 24s -  1:32 mins/ 100 yards

1/1 Women's Open (official results state: age group 19-99 - haha)
41/41 Overall


Compared to previous years, I continued to put some serious work into my swim even after the swim classes ended in April. That's what's working with a coach does for you, it makes slacking off harder even or probably especially in the areas that you feel pretty good about. Only because you are good swimmer, doesn't mean you can't be a better swimmer right?

After completing the 3K open water distance in June in Clemson in a time of a little under 1h 10m, I was ready for a redo and I wanted to break an hour for the distance. I knew, I needed at least an 1:50m per 100 yards to do that and my paces in the pool lately were promising.

Being cold before the start.

The race was in North Carolina, maybe 1.5 hours away from the house. I have never even heard of Moss Lake, but it was a very pretty lake and surprisingly clear, especially compared to Lake Hartwell and such. We got there with plenty of time to spare for registration and I spend a lot of time standing around and getting colder and colder. It was the first cooler day in months and I was wearing flip flops... what a grant idea.

While I was standing around, I noticed the absence of adult competitors and triathletes and somehow, I knew I was skrewed.

Oh and did I mentioned that I was cold? I was one grumpy mess by the time I got in the water. Grumpy with icy stumps in the place where usually my feet are.

The race was wetsuit legal, but the water temps were actually much nicer than the air temps and I am glad that I decided last minute against the wetsuit, because I would have been pretty warm.

About to get started.

I started out in the back... And I stayed in the back for the whole race. Who am I kidding. I am a pretty good swimmer compared to the regular triathlete, but in a field with highschool and college team swimmers, the back is right were I belong. Have I mentioned already, that I was the oldest competitor in the 3K by 15 (!) years??

The course was a triangle that we had to swim 3 times. The way out to the first turn buoy was into the wind and sucked each and every time, because we had to fight the chop and it felt like I wasn't moving at all. The other lengths of the triangles were good in terms of chop. The first 500 meters felt pretty crappy, because I was just so cold, but after I warmed up, things were much better. I

I felt like I had a pretty good rhythm and sighting went well. There were just two instances, where the kayakers where right between me and the next turn buoy, so I wasn't able to see the buoy, which got me completely confused thinking that I swim off the course.

And while it's not a great feeling to get out of the water with the annoucer saying: "Give a hand to the last swimmer out of the water!"... There are worse things. I was really hoping, that a couple of those youngsters would fizzle out and I would catch one or two, but I just ran out of race distance to accomplish that.

Speaking of race distance: According to my Garmin (in the swim cap), the race was 500 yards short, but with the pace that I was going (1:51/100 yards), I should have still been come close to break an hour even if it were a full 3K... So while dead last out of the water isn't fun, I reached my goal and that's all I can ask for.

And medals are nice, even when you are the only one in your age group. ;-)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Maiden Voyage

In case you already forgotten how pretty and shiny it is! ;-)

Three years ago, when I started to look for a road bike, I had no clue about bikes. I am still no pro, when it comes to bikes, but I learned a thing or two in the last couple of years. I never regretted the purchase of the Ruby. It's a neat bike. I like it a lot.... I put around 6,000 miles on it... That's how much I like it, but I just felt I was outgrowing the bike a little.

I was looking for tri bikes on and off for the last year and now, we pulled the trigger. I am still all excited! ;-)

So after coming back from Germany on Tuesday, I headed to the bike shop right after work on Wednesday to get fit to my new toy. The adjustment took around an hour, but it was decided not to cut the aero bars, before I have a couple of miles on it.

Saturday, it was time to take the girl out for her maiden voyage and it was one crappy ride, but not because of the bike.... The bike is great and I really enjoy it. The problem with the ride on Saturday, was the fact, that I haven't been on a bike in two weeks and that the wind just sucked all life out of me. I was shooting for 50 that day and ended up with 33 miles. Not my proudest moment, but I felt like I had nothing left in my legs and just didn't want to push through another 17 miles, just to make the numbers match.

Even though I cut the ride short, it still was enough time spend on the bike, to give some feedback at the bike shop for some more adjustments, so I headed right back there (after my brick run). We moved the aero bars around some more and the seat and I think this is going to be one smooth ride. I was really surprised, that I didn't have any neck pain after 30 miles, considering, I haven't been riding in a couple of weeks.... That bodes well in terms of comfort on the bike!!!

I am also really excited, that I will be able to ride the bike at my last race of the season.... Now all is left to do, is getting my legs back... ;-)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Month In Review: September

Oh boy, what a month.

This was one busy, exciting and crazy month and it shows in the numbers. Due to the trip to New York and Germany, I was missing several workouts. But, you can't go full steam all year long. While the timing for a slacker month might not have been perfect (with still one triathlon lined up), that's life and in general, I am good with that.... In general... Even though the ride today felt pretty crappy, but that's for another post.

I really want to try to catch up on my posts, but since I am not very regular in the posting department these days, let's just have a quick look at the highlights of the month, after the New York Trip and Tour de Paws.

Like winning the Open Category at the Western North Carolina Swim Challenge 3K race.... 1st out of 1 in my division and 42nd out of 42 overall. Yes, that's right, I was dead last out of the water.... I still take the medal though! ;-)

The following week, I headed out for a short trip to Germany for my Dad's 70. (!!!) birthday. I just went for a week and that was wayyyyyy to short. Because of that, I didn't do much other than spending as much time as possible with my parents. Hopefully, I can get them convinced to come visit next year... In the meanwhile, I also got to hang out with my little doggy brother Paul.... Very cute and quite a handful.

After celebrating my Dad's big day, I came back just in time to celebrate my own birthday. This cake was from my co-workers and was very tasty. Which brings me to my poor nutrition in the month of September... I know, you are all tired of that tune, but I really have to get back on the bandwagon. STAT.

Oh and speaking of birthday.

That's my birthday (Christmas, Easter, Anniversary) present from my most fantastic husband. It's a Trek Speed Concept 7.0 and I love it so far.... It's so shiny and pretty!!!

And that was my September in a nutshell.

Hopefully, I'll get back into more regular updates and more into reading and commenting again.