Well, That Was Fun!!!

If you look up at the top of the page, it says “Bill’s Racing, Rambling and Photos”.  For the past couple of years it’s been more like “Bill’s Photos and Rambling”.

That’s not to say that there hasn’t been any racing (which there really hasn’t), but there have been a few posts that leaned towards the athletic.

But if you look at my Races tab, the last race I have entered was back in January, 2010.  That was a great race in a blizzard – the Rodgau 50K.

Since then, it has mainly been play.  Fun runs in the Alps and fast stair climbs.

Then there was a grand bike tour.

But that’s not a race.  Although there was some racing.  Mainly me trying to catch up to the pack every time the road moved off of level or we hit a secteur pavé.

Although I could leave the fellas scattered by the wayside once I got the diesel engine wound up and started the sprint from a kilometer out.

And while that’s all great, great fun, it’s not an organized race.

And the reality was, as I posted in February of last year, I was athletically rudderless, not really interested in pursuing a specific athletic goal.  Mainly because most of the ones that interest me take so much time away from Goddess.  In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m quite keen on the Goddess.  That means I am quite protective of my time with her, so I wasn’t wild about the 4-6 hour (or more) weekend training days that marathons, ultra-marathons or grand bike tours require.

So I just kept an unfocused training regimen, focused on having fun and staying fit, while not demanding too much time from Goddess.  And I kept a thought in the back of my mind, which I did verbalize to a few folks, that I wanted to remain fit enough that I could fake my way through a half, whether that be a half-marathon or a half-Ironman triathlon.

That brings us to today.

On a lark a couple of months back, I signed up for the Heidelberg Half Marathon.  It was to be interesting, since I had no plans to specifically train for the race, just rely on my fitness and see how it worked out, since my training at the time was focused on a grand bike tour.  Plus, considering that I have not run greater than seven miles in the past two years, save for one other lark of a 14-miler that involved running straight up the side of the Alps, then back down, running 13.1 miles was going to be a stretch.  Especially this one, with some pretty steep sections and 3,400′ of cumulative climbing.

I was going to have to rely on the diesel engine and hope that the suspension held up.

Here’s the race map, overlaid on terrain:

Heidelberg Half Marathon
Heidelberg Half Marathon

That gives you an idea of the terrain.  But it doesn’t tell the truth like the profile does:

Heidelberg Half-Marathon Profile
Heidelberg Half-Marathon Profile

Like I said, this was a lark.  In the previous week, I had run three times, including a fairly fast 1.5 miles for my fitness test.  Before that, I had not run in a month, thanks to a combination of things.  I had injured myself playing frisbee, which halted any running.  Then I went on the grand bike tour and didn’t have time to.  Then I got back and came down with some crud that kept me down for over a week.

And that led into this week.  Monday was a slow 5-miler to make sure everything still worked properly.  Wednesday was a hill run which included the same set of stairs in PR; this time I set a new PR and ran up the entire set of stairs without stopping, although the pace was decidedly slower than 9:35.  Then on Friday was my PT test, so basically it was a short race.

In short, I didn’t train for this half-marathon, nor did I taper.

I was walking into it cold.

When I signed up, I took a stab at a finishing time and selected two hours.  I based that on the terrain and hope.  Unfortunately, hope is not a technique.

I seeded myself appropriately in my corral (#4 of 4), towards the back.  I cracked jokes with a few first-timers that I’m surprised we weren’t surrounded by people with walkers, complete with tennis balls.  We were only there a few minutes, then the gun went off for our group (some 850 people).  It was time to settle into a comfortable pace and see how the day worked out.

It wasn’t long before I was passing people.  That turned out to be the theme of the day.  I started out near the back of the 3,445 that finished and I finished 1,416 overall.  The math is simple – I passed over 2,000 people in 13.1 miles.  On this course.

Luckily a good portion of this run is on familiar ground, with the first large hill being part of our normal Monday run.  So I knew what to expect.  However, the course splits from where we normally head back down to the valley and continues upstream, then crosses further up than I am familiar with.  Then heads straight up the other side so that we can loop behind the Heidelberg Castle.  So after the midway point, it was all new territory.  And that kept my effort in check.

The only spots I walked were the water points.  No sense in trying to run and drink, instead sloshing water all over myself.  Although plenty of people did and gained nothing from it.  I did find it interesting that so many thought that they were saving time, although they had to slow down so much to prevent the sloshing that they might as well have been walking.

The flats were OK.  The uphills were great, probably because that’s where I passed huge chunks of people each time.  At one point, in the closing miles, we were climbing a series of cobbled switchbacks that were steeper than 20% grade and I had a flashback to the grand bike tour.  And the downhills were fun, cruising past many folks who just weren’t comfortable with letting go.  I was amazed at how many were walking the gradual downhills, even only halfway through the race.

As you can tell, I had a great time.

But there was one significant annoyance, for which I’m partially at fault.  The race is capped at 3,500 registered participants, mainly due to the narrow streets in Heidelberg as well as the narrow trails through the forest.  My fault was ignorantly seeding myself way at the back.  The annoyance were the many, many, many runners who could not hold their line while running, instead darting side to side even though they gained nothing from the maneuver.  I spent more time than I cared guiding people with my forearm, especially when their erratic movement threatened to push me off the trail and down the hill or into a ditch.  Or gently guiding someone forward who would dart into an open spot, but not overtake the people around him, while many of us were flying downhill at a much greater pace than they were.  But once we got past that section (and ran straight up a wall), the crowds were all but torn apart and the running became smoother.

My piriformis started talking to me at about the eight mile mark, but nothing more than a gentle reminder that I was abusing them.  In the closing miles, my calves started twinging, telling me that they were close to cramping up.  I’ve been there before, so knew how hard I could push it, keeping right at that point where they would twinge, but nothing more.  In the last half mile, a time where I’m usually flying past other runners, I didn’t.  But none caught and passed me either.

So the time?

1:58:03

Without training for it.

Just keeping myself fit with a good mix of high intensity and endurance training, mainly on the bike.  And that time fit nicely within the cluster of times for the half-marathons that I trained specifically for.

The trick will be seeing how I walk on Tuesday morning.

Now about that half-Ironman…

Rudderless

Last weekend, while standing on the frozen ground, waiting for the men’s race at the Cyclocross World Championships, I realized that the annual Rodgau 50K was run that same weekend.

And that’s when I realized I hadn’t raced in a full year, since last year’s 50K.

A full year without a race?  It’s been a while since that’s happened.

And I don’t know what to think about that.

It’s not a bad thing, nor is it a good thing.  It just is what it is.  I really haven’t felt the need to push through more marathons or ultra-marathons.  I really haven’t felt the need to chase a half-marathon PR.  I haven’t felt the need to focus more on bike races.  And without a pool nearby that opens at a reasonable hour (say, before 10am), that leaves swims (and triathlons) out of the picture.

So I haven’t registered for any races.  And without a race on the schedule, my training is pretty non-focused.  I just do what I do.

And I’m actually OK with that right now.

I can still grind the big gears for an hour if I want to.

Then follow it up with a a pretty hard 10K.

I can even still outrun most of the young ‘uns at work.

And that’s a lot of fun.  :^D

Heck, I could even fake my way through a half-marathon tomorrow if I were properly motivated.

But that motivation would require focus.  Focus that I’m lacking right now.

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article recently covering endurance sport widows.  And I think the article gets to the core of my lack of focus.

I told Goddess that I won’t train/race anymore Ironman-distance tri’s until after I retire.  It just takes too much time away from her, especially those 5-7 hour training Saturdays.

I haven’t told her, but right now I have no desire to train for the marathons and ultra-marathons mainly because I don’t want her to have to see me step out the door for a 3.5-hour run on Saturday and a 90-minute run on Sunday, almost every week.

Lately (the last few months), I’ve either been out of the house for work averaging 13-hours each day.  Granted, that includes my bicycle commute to and from work, but that commute isn’t much longer than if I drove it every day.

So I already spend too much time away from her.

Mind you, she’s extremely supportive, understanding that I need to be doing something.  Even during some of my more reckless endeavors she’s been there supporting me, even if it means getting up at ungodly hours to drive to a race, then sleeping in the car while I run through the mud in a cold pouring rain.

And tolerates me when I say “I’m going to do that again”.

That’s just one reason why she’s a Goddess.

So I don’t have anything scheduled for this year either.  Unless I run across something that really piques my interest.

But something tells me that I’ll be spending way too much time away from Goddess as it is, so I’m not looking too hard.

Hmmmm

A dilemma.

A scheduling dilemma.

July 25th, 2010.

 

 

 

 

Antwerp 70.3, with little to no chance of swim training between now and then (it’s been 2.5 years since I’ve done any focused swimming).

 

 

Or

 

 

 

 

 

German F1 Grand Prix at Hockenheim Ring, just a 10 minute walk from the house.  A race with the (as yet unconfirmed) Michael Schumacher (right) in the mix.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One is potentially a once-in-a-lifetime event. 

The other maybe not.

Life is full of choices.

Whew

All done with this training cycle.  Now for a bit of active recovery this coming week.

But first, I need to give credit where credit is due.  I’m married to a true Goddess.  The one who asks me what I want to do during my holiday break, to which I answer “sleep and run”, and she gives me that “Are you serious?” look, to which she already knows the answer.

So that’s what I did over the past two weeks, which was my last Base period before racing at the end of January.

All told, 110.97 miles of running in the past two weeks; 50.43 miles last week, 60.54 miles this week.  Snow, rain, well below freezing, well above freezing.  The whole stinkin’ gamut.  And it was all good.

I did get a few commutes to/from work on the bike, but swapped one ride home for a run, which served two purposes.  And instead of 35 minutes to get home, it took 1:20.  So it really didn’t impact the home life too much.

And the runs were a mix of short hill runs, medium tempo runs and long steady runs.  In other words, a normal training plan.  But it wasn’t all normal.

– A 10-mile tempo+ run last Monday, which started out slow thanks to the 50 miles of the previous week.  The first three miles were OK, but nothing to get excited about.  Then the gears switched and I was rolling through the forest at a comfortable clip, finding my groove.  The (+) portion of the tempo was when I decided to go visit an old friend, the pain cave, whose threshold I hadn’t crossed in quite a while.  I didn’t want to get too deep in, but decided to head over, open the door, look around the make sure that the drapes hadn’t been stolen.  Nothing was disturbed, but there was definitely a layer of dust from lack of use.  I’ll have to get back there soon.  So even after the slow opening miles, I finished the 10 miles just a few minutes off my 10-mile PR.  But I did feel it the next day.

– The 20-miler on New Year’s Eve was a mixed bag of weather.  It was a steady 45F, rapidly changing from sun to pouring rain and back again.  Since the rain was going to be intermittent, I left the shell at home, which made for a few borderline hypothermic moments.  Luckily it cleared out just before sunset, which let it cool down quickly into the upper 30’s(F).  So soaking wet, cold.  I couldn’t get into a warm shower fast enough.  But that worked out well, since it was New Year’s Eve.

– New Year’s Eve detraining – lots of resveratrol was consumed, which my doc (“drink early, drink often”) swears is good for my heart.  And let me tell you, the German’s know how to greet a new year.  I swear every family up and down the street bought hundreds of euro of fireworks.  It looked like a war zone out there.  It did my teenaged-boy heart good.  And though I was perfectly fine the next day, I just didn’t get out the door to run.

– Today’s 15-miler through the ice/snow was great, especially considering the amount of miles these legs have endured in the past 14 days.  Although after a poor night of sleep, I wasn’t too motivated.  Goddess got me through that (something about “get out now”).  The legs were heavy and tired, but found their rhythm after a few miles.  Then a nice negative split.  Nothing too drastic, but considering the abuse that I’ve put myself through, I can’t be anything but pleased with that.  It was a great way to close out the cycle.

So now it’s a recovery week, which will include some thigh-busting skiing in the Alps.  And if that doesn’t teach the quads who’s boss, I don’t know what will.

=====================================

Year in Review – 2009

Lots of thoughts during these long runs about posting a year in review.  Some discussion with other folks on their year’s in review.  For me, the review is only meaningful to the one posting it, unless the numbers posted are compared to the year’s goals and/or previous year’s totals.  Otherwise they’re just numbers.

So for those of you who want numbers, you won’t find them here (unless you read above).  I look through my numbers fairly often in both Training Peaks and SportTracks.  Matter of fact, I keep a rolling 10- and 28-day chart in my SportTracks to make sure I’m not doing anything too crazy.  With the move to Germany this year, there wasn’t any sense in setting annual goals, since there were way too many variables.  All of my short-term goals were early in the year (March’s LBL 60K and April’s Country Music Marathon) and were resounding successes, even if I didn’t meet certain time goals.  I learned quite a bit, including how much I enjoy a good trail run.

But thanks to the commute to/from work, my bike mileage jumped considerably over last year, which had a six-month chunk taken out thanks to a deployment to Iraq.  No cycling during that time.

And what will 2010 bring?  Who knows.  A 50K at the end of January, then I’ll start searching for something to do later in the year.  The Antwerp 70.3 looks fun (I love that distance triathlon), but finding a swimming pool with good hours is a trick.  The local pool is open 10am-10pm, but is too far from work for a lunchtime swim.  After work I’m usually too knackered to do anything.  Plus, that’s Goddess’ time.  So unless I think I can pull off a 70.3 without any lap time…

So here’s to a great year for each and every one of you.  If you’re one that makes resolutions, I hope that the resolve you currently have lasts through the year.

Ace

This won’t mean much to most, but it’s a bit of bragging.

Being in the military, fitness is a significant part of our job.  Matter of fact, we’re actually afforded a couple of hours every day during work hours to work out.  How perfect is that for me?  So we set aside the first two hours of the day for organized Physical Training (PT).  The downside for me is that the workouts are basic enough to challenge those that aren’t in shape, but not so challenging that it breaks them (that’s not the goal).  So I’ll often run the five miles to work and then start PT.  Then I’ll run home at the end of the day, stretching my afternoon run from 5-13 miles or more if need be.  Rinse, repeat the next day.

Anyway, the proof was in the pudding this week.  We had our PT test, which consists of a waist measurement, crunches, push ups and timed 1.5-mile run.

The waist measurement has been the bane of my existence.  In order to get a perfect score of 50, one must have a waist measurement of less than 32.5″ (for men).  Age is not a consideration, nor is height.  It’s actually measured just below the navel.  And for every half-inch greater than 32.5″, one loses 1.25 points.  Even though I was in shape to race Ironman-distance races, I still had enough around the mid-section that I’d lose 8 points before I even started.

But thanks to switching to a Primal/Paleo diet at the start of my deployment to Iraq, those inches have all but melted off.  I did lose some weight by switching, but mostly the fat melted away as my body composition shifted.  But don’t mistake my use of the word diet to mean that I went on a diet.  No, I actually had done a lot of research and decided that the way I had been eating hadn’t been working for me, so I modified the way I was eating.  For those who don’t know what Primal or Paleo diets are (and don’t click on the links above), the gist of it is getting back to a more natural way of eating, minimizing the processed foods and eliminating grains (for many different reasons).  Some mistakenly call them “low carb” diets, which they are not; it’s just a matter of getting carbs from natural sources, not processed sources.  Perhaps that will be a different post, since this one is already getting sidetracked.

Anyway, thanks to the sculpting that the diet change has brought about, I now measure at a cool 32.0″ just below the navel.  So that hurdle is out of the way.  The rest is easy.

Crunches – must do more than 47 in one minute.  Done.

Pushups – must do more than 40 in one minute.  Done.

Timed 1.5-mile run – must run faster than 10:21 to get full points.  Done, with a very comfortable, evenly paced 9:45.  Even after putting  20-miles on the legs in the previous 36 hours.

Now, I’ll admit I took advantage of my age group.  Once one turns 40, the run time gets a bit slower and the pushups and crunches are a few less; only the waist measurement doesn’t change.  But I actually ran faster than the 35-39 and 30-34 age groups require for a perfect score.  So next month’s goal is to add the few extra pushups and crunches and then ace the 35-39 age group PT test.  After that…

Plus, it’s fun to leave the twenty-something’s strewn all over the track during the run.

I am…

Iron Man

Iron Man
100%
Hulk
95%
Spider-Man
90%
Supergirl
83%
The Flash
80%
Green Lantern
75%
Robin
63%
Catwoman
60%
Superman
60%
Wonder Woman
58%
Batman
45%
Inventor. Businessman. Genius.


Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

Good fun there, thanks to Brad.

I find it really interesting that Super Girl is #4. And that Batman is dead last. What does that say about Batman?

Not feeling the Ironman at the moment, though. At least 3″ on the ground and still falling heavily. We should see 6″ by morning. Then it’ll start to melt. I’ll likely have to push off the long run ’til Sunday, since the roads will be a mess and the trails will be unusable.

And just for fun, I needed to find out which Super Villain I am:

Venom

Venom
93%
Riddler
84%
Apocalypse
82%
Dark Phoenix
74%
The Joker
73%
Magneto
72%
Mystique
67%
Juggernaut
67%
Lex Luthor
62%
Mr. Freeze
61%
Dr. Doom
60%
Poison Ivy
48%
Catwoman
48%
Green Goblin
47%
Two-Face
47%
Kingpin
46%
Strength, disguise and adrenaline are your greatest weapons.


Click here to take the Supervillain Personality Quiz

When will they put in lanes?

“I swam 4,000 yards today. It was only two laps.” 😉

Behold the world’s largest swimming pool. And no, it’s not a hoax. One lap would be the swim leg of a 1/2 IM! Click on the pic for the story and more pictures.

Although I find it funny that it’s a saltwater pool, separated by 40 yards of sand from more saltwater.

Personally, I’ll swim OW.

Fast Training Run

Part of my prep for my marathon, which is in two weeks time, was a 1/2 marathon today. It fulfilled three purposes, to make sure my recovery from my IM attempt was complete, my run focused training was on target and that I could hold a sustained pace faster than I normally do during training runs or during a 1/2 IM or IM. All three were achieved.

The Team Nashville Half Marathon was definitely a well executed event. It’s been a while since I had attended one of those (yep, that’s a swipe at my recent races).

I was talking with a co-worker of mine on Wednesday. He had mentioned a few months back that he’d like to pace me during the marathon leg of my IM-distance race, but already had long-standing reservations for a family vacation. He asked when I would run my marathon, so I told him. He recognized that it would be too far for him, so he stated “well, I’ll run with you during a half marathon”. I responded “Good, it’s this Saturday”. His jaw dropped and he stammered about having things to do.

Thursday rolls around and he starts asking about it, then says he’ll let me know. Friday night, he calls the house and arranges to meet. All the while, I keep asking him if he’s sure, since the furthest he’s ever run has been a 10K. He was sure. I didn’t worry about him too much since he has quite an extensive physical background, so he had a solid base fitness.

Anyway, we get to the race area this morning, which starts at the Historic Mansker’s Station. Quite an interesting location. Sign up, get our goodies and then keep moving to stay warm, since it was 33 degrees. The crunch of frost underfoot was quite loud.

This was a “C” race for me, with no time goals. So when we filtered down to the start area, we hung out in the back. The gun went off and we strolled towards the line. We started jogging slowly to make sure our chips registered and we were off. All 190 other racers had crossed the line in front of us. We were bringing up the rear.

It didn’t take long for us to start weaving through the crowd. We were jogging comfortably and hit the mile at 8:38. My co-worker mentioned that it was quite an ambitious pace. We crossed the second mile 8:26 later. He started slipping back a bit and I wordlessly kept moving forward.

Miles 3-5 were pretty uneventful. I was still warming up. By mile 5 I started feeling good and the miles kept slipping by, as did fellow runners. I was starting to think of a race strategy. I figured I’d start picking it up at mile 8 and see how it went from there. I got to the mile 8 water table, grabbed some water (no, not my first) and proceeded to look straight up a wall. Several folks ahead of me were walking. It was a killer.

Going down the other side was just as steep, but I went loose and managed to pass several more runners. The next three miles were a very gradual downhill and I was able to pick up the pace again, cruising at a very nice tempo. After mile 12, we started into the hills again, cruising through a nice subdivision. After 12.75 miles, it was all downhill all the way to the finish.

I cruised in at 1:49:38 chip time, my watch said 1:41:15. I still can’t figure out where the disparity is in my watch, since the times flow perfectly. No one else seemed concerned about their published time, so I won’t be either; it’s time the watch be sent in for some other issues too.

I crossed the start line in 191st (or 192nd, doesn’t matter); I crossed the finish line in 75th overall, 10/18 in my age group. So that’s 116 passed on the course.

13.1 miles @ 8:23 average. Not too shabby. It won’t win any awards, but I sure enjoyed it.

My co-worker ran a hell of a race, considering he’d never run further than a 10K – 2:05:38, which was 4:22 faster than his goal of 2:10, or 10-minute mile pace.

So while I’m pleased with my results, I was shocked to read the news of today’s US Marathon trials. Excellent results for Ryan Hall, but a crushing tragedy for everyone. Keep Ryan Shay‘s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.

Well, it’s time for another recovery beer. And good tunes while watching Wilco on Austin City Limits.

Rushing

…headlong into all of my projects.

I’m slowly transitioning back to my normal schedule. After working two weeks of 13-hour night shifts, it’s been slow getting back to a normal schedule. Usually it takes me a day and then I’m right back at it. Two days later and I’m still wide awake at 2:30 am.

I sat back with my feet up on the desk, watching Ironman Live last night. I drifted off hearing about Macca’s run. Goddess finally shooed me off to bed and he still hadn’t finished. That should give you an idea of how early I fell asleep. I had hoped to see Sam McGlone‘s finish, mainly to see how well she did in her very first Ironman (2nd!), but instead waited until this morning to read the recap.

The beauty of being wide awake this morning was being able to really flesh out my new photography site. A bit of patience to find old shots, realizing that my photo archiving over the past few years, while complete, was scattered all over the house and computer. A few of the shots were real fun to revisit and rework, especially the early ones. It’s amazing how a couple of years of learning the intricacies of Photoshop can turn something that I spent days working on years ago into a 5-minute project now.

Another advantage of being up this morning was being able to run my Massage Stick over my sore legs. After a couple of weeks of non-focused activity, I’ve ramped up my running to get ready for the Flying Monkeys next month. First off I was amazed at how tight my hamstrings got during those two weeks. I’ve been stretching and thinking I’ve worked them out, but at mile 9 into my 11-mile run yesterday, they really tightened up. So yesterday and today I’ve been hobbling like an old man if I sit for too long.

Late yesterday, Goddess and I went out for an easy spin on the bike. Part of the beauty of non-focused training has been the chance to explore the surrounding area, which is still new to us after moving into this house just two months ago. I found a wilderness area not 1/2 mile from the house, with plenty of paved and unpaved trails weaving everywhere. Matter of fact, I was able to run the majority of my 11 miles yesterday within the confines of the area and not have to backtrack much at all. There’s definitely more to explore.

So Goddess and I spun easily through the woods, enjoying the turkeys and other wildlife. We even took a “shortcut”, which meant that we had to carry our bikes up a steep ravine to get to where we needed to be. Goddess came out of that with a few cuts and a bit of blood. And she was smiling the whole way!

Looking forward to the next few weeks. Training continues to ramp up, a trip out to see the fall colors at Great Smoky Mountains National Park and then a half marathon. We’ll see how it all works out.

Hope all is well with you.

Shirt Rules

Should they apply to swimwear too?

 Let me explain – I’m working a slow, slow night shift.  So I’ve plugged in to EndurancePlanet.com to catch up on podcasts.  The one I’m specifically listening to right now is from September 26th and relates to Race Shirt Etiquette.  It’s an interesting one, since I’ve thought about whether or not I should wear my pullover from my DNF.

Anyway, at about 9:37 into the commentary, Ben brought up a point that got me to thinking about the start of my DNF.  Ben states “…Never wear a shirt that is so old, thin and threadbare that you can see the color of your nipples or chest hair through it.”  Good rule, don’tcha think?

So why did the rule immediately make me think about the guy at the start of my DNF, standing in the lake, just deep enough that his coin purse could get wet, in a Speedo that was so thin you could actually see the color of his ass hair?

Why?