Well, I am now less than 2 weeks away from competing in the Ironman, and the anxiety is really starting to build. Luckily, I am now in the Taper phase of training, which means I get to take it easy and not do anything too dramatic in regards to training. I must say that I have been looking forward to this for a while, especially since last week was pretty rough. Here is what I did last week to get my last hard training week under my belt...needless to say I am little tired.
- Sunday: Erding Race (Olympic Distance)
- Monday: 50 minutes swimming (3km)
- Tuesday: 2:30 run (~17-18 miles)
- Wednesday: 2 hour bike ride
- Thursday: 3:45 bike ride in rolling hills (66 miles)
- Friday: Free
- Saturday: 4 hour bike ride (~70 miles)
- Sunday: 5:15 bike ride (100 miles)
I've gotten this email a couple of times, and though I don't know if it actually happened, it is still a pretty good story.
The professor of a university challenged his students with this question. "Did God create everything that exists?" A student answered bravely, "Yes, he did".
The professor then asked, "If God created everything, then he created evil. Since evil exists (as noticed by our own actions), so God is evil. The student couldn't respond to that statement causing the professor to conclude that he had "proved" that "belief in God" was a fairy tale, and therefore worthless.
Another student raised his hand and asked the professor, "May I pose a question? " "Of course" answered the professor.
The young student stood up and asked : "Professor does Cold exists?" The professor answered, "What kind of question is that?...Of course the cold exists... haven't you ever been cold?"
The young student answered, "In fact sir, Cold does not exist. According to the laws of Physics, what we consider cold, in fact is the absence of heat. Anything is able to be studied as long as it transmits energy (heat). Absolute Zero is the total absence of heat, but cold does not exist. What we have done is create a term to describe how we feel if we don't have body heat or we are not hot."
"And, does Dark exist?", he continued. The professor answered "Of course". This time the student responded, "Again you're wrong,Sir. Darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in fact simply the absence of light. Light can be studied, darkness can not. Darkness cannot be broken down. A simple ray of light tears the darkness and illuminates the surface where the light beam finishes. Dark is a term that we humans have created to describe what happens when there's lack of light."
Finally, the student asked the professor, "Sir, does evil exist?" The professor replied, "Of course it exists, as I mentioned at the beginning, we see violations, crimes and violence anywhere in the world, and those things are evil."
The student responded, "Sir, Evil does not exist. Just as in the previous cases, Evil is a term which man has created to describe the result of the absence of God's presence in the hearts of man.
After this, the professor bowed down his head, and didn't answer back.
The young man's name was ALBERT EINSTEIN.
Apparentely someone has decided to steal the FSU Football National Championship Trophies. In my opinion, it is likely a Gator or UM fan...you can't trust those types. Unfortunately for FSU, they do not have video surveillance where the trophies were, and they were not insured. You see, we at FSU are a trustworthy group, unlike the aforementioned groups. Anyways, in the words of Assistant Coach Rob Wilson, "Woe be unto that guy if the wrong people get hold of him.''
I got this link a while ago from one of the mailing lists I am on, but I forgot to post it here for all of you to enjoy as well. The link is to a video clip of some robots that were made in Japan and have been developed over the last few years. These things move almost as smoothly as a normal human. The real life Terminator may not be so far off!!
Yesterday (Sunday) was the Erding Stadt Triathlon, which is roughly an Olympic distance race (1.5km swim, 48.5km bike, 10km run). This was my first race ever in Germany last year (read last years post), so I pretty much knew what to expect, which is a rarity since the only other Triathlon that I have ever done twice is the Huntington's Beach Sprint in Miami. Anyways, the weather forecast for the day was horrible, and wouldn't you know it, they finally got the forecast right. It was about 50 degrees and raining. Needless to say I wasn't really looking forward to it, but I knew I needed the speed work. That's right, these distances are now considered speed work for me...which I guess is a good thing. Onto the race...
The start for my wave wasn't until 11am, but they required everyone to have their bikes checked in by 9am since there were other races that started just after 9am. However, what I didn't know was that they didn't want you hanging out in the transition area after 9am either, so when I got there at 8:50, I ended up only having 10 minutes to get all my gear organized for the race. Needless to say, with the rain, confusion, and hurriedness, my transition area left much to be desired, as would be indicated in my transition times. After getting everything settled, I watched the start of a few of the races, then headed back to the car to hang out for an hour or so until my race started.
The goal of the swim was 25 minutes. Last year my swim time was 30 minutes, but that was without a wetsuit. I figured I had a wetsuit this year, and was better trained, so I should be able to reach that goal. I started by warming up in the water for a few minutes, along with a bunch of other people from my wave start, and ironically the water seemed warmer than the outside temp, so it was quite enjoyable. Anyways, after I was done I was standing on the shore waiting to start and noticed there weren't nearly as many people as before, and the start was only 2 minutes away. Sure enough, I was in the wrong are, and had to go back up this small hill and come back down through the Timing alleyway so that the computers would know when I started. I was probably about 30 yards from where I was supposed to be when I was warming up, but couldn't see where I was supposed to be.
So the swim finally starts, and I'm on my way. I fight through a bunch of packs of swimmers and finally find a nice groove and just coast. I push myself pretty good since I know the swim is fairly short, and sure enough it seemed to pay off. After a fairly uneventful 21 minutes, I am out of the water 4 minutes faster than my goal. Of course I am happy, but I also know that I can't really swim that fast, so my conclusion is that the swim was a little short of the 1.5km. Either way, after looking at the results, I am in the top 3rd of the list for the swim...which is a lot better than I could have expected.
As I said earlier, my transition area leaves a lot to be desired. Couple that with the fact I have no idea what to wear b/c of the weather and you can understand why my Transition time takes a while. First I get my bike shoes, along with shoe warmers on. Then I start to put on my running shirt, which I was going to wear under my short sleeve bike jersey, but decide against it and have to take it off (I will pay for this in Transition 2). Then I put on the jersey and decide not to wear a long sleeve jersey over it b/c I am warm at the time. Then I decide to try and find my gloves just in case...and yada yada yada. Finally I take off, and upon leaving one of my gloves falls out of my pocket, so I have to stop and go back and get it. Needless to say all of this took me almost 4 minutes of time, whereas last year I was done in 2:30.
I'm on the bike and heading out for the ride in the rain, but I can't seem to get my shoe cleat to clip into the pedal. I must have ridden for a good mile or so before it finally latched on. After that, the ride was pretty much fault free. However, after about 3 miles of riding a group (4-5) riders catch me and start to pass. It is illegal to draft in this race, so you have to stay about 10 feet behind the bike in front of you, as to not get any penalties. Anyways, this group passes me and then proceeds to get in front of me and not really pull away. So there I am, caught with a guy on my immediate left, and 2-3 guys directly in front of me. Sure enough the "official" comes by and starts yelling at me for drafting, when all I did was maintain my pace the whole time and just happened to have this group pull in front of me right when he was coming by. Unfortunately he said it all in Deutsch so I didn't get the full details of what he was saying, but I definitely got the jist of it.
After this the group eventually pulled away and I notice myself and this other guy were going about the same speed, and we would start passing each other back and forth. This cat and mouse game literally lasted for the next 15-20 miles or so, and I really think he was getting annoyed. However, unlike in times past, I was the one who finally pulled away and left him in the dust....which really felt good. As good as I felt though, I noticed myself start to tire out a little bit after about the 25th mile. Luckily there was only another 5-6 miles to go, so I could maintain without to much loss of speed.
My goal for the bike was to average 20mph, but that was assuming good conditions. The course definitely has some hills to it, but nothing like my last race, so it didn't seem to bad. After finally getting to the end, I looked at my bike computer and saw that I met the goal of 20mph, so I was glad...although the run was next, so who could be too happy.
Once again I'm like a lost puppy dog in the transition area. My clothes are everywhere and things are a mess. I quickly take my bike shoes off and put on my running shoes. Unfortunately my hands and arms were a little more cold than I realized, so tying my shoelaces were a bit of a chore. Then I had to find my running shirt, which was now inside out since I had already put it on and off in T1, then I had to try and put everything back in place so everything wouldn't get soaked, and the next guy wouldn't be ticked that my clothes were everywhere. To top things off, when I think I am ready to go, I take off and within about 20 seconds realize I forgot a Gel/Gu. As I said in my last race, I forgot one there also and started to bonk, so I didn't want to do that again. So...back to my bike to grab my last gu, thus wasting another 40 seconds or so in total. Finally, another 4:00 minutes gone by and I'm off to the run.
My goal for the run was actually a combination with the bike. My goal for the two combined times was 2:15. The reason for this is that I felt if I went hard on the bike, then I would be slower for the run obviously, and if I held back on the bike, I should have more for the run. I was thinking a 1:30 bike, followed by a 45 minute run, which would be the 2nd fastest run ever for me on a 10km...but you gotta have high goals! Well, I finished the bike in 1:29, so that meant I needed a 46 minute run to match the combo goal, but I still wanted the 45 minute run time...which equates to a pace of about 7:30min/mile. After about 2 miles I was feeling good and only seemed to be about 10 seconds off of my pace, but I felt if I pushed myself any harder I might crash and burn, so I maintained with the hope of a last mile sprint to make up the time. However, around the 3.5 mile mark I noticed my energy dropping rapidly...luckily I had the Gu/Gel that I went back for, so within about 5 minutes of eating it along with something to drink my energy was back. For the first time in a long time, I noticed I was getting passed by a ton of people on the run...but that I was passing people. Don't get me wrong, people were still flying by me like I was standing still, but not nearly as many as usual. Anyways, with about half a mile to go I started to go all out. One of the great things was that our friends from work were in the crowd so I was able to give them a high five down the stretch as I passed by. Then came some of the greatest words I have heard during my triathlon life..."Und hier kommt Don Graver aus dem USA, Wilkommen!!" ...which means "here comes Don Graver from the USA, Welcome!". Needless to say given the conditions of the world today, I felt a sort of patriotism go through me. Anyways, after crossing the finish line I looked down at my watch and saw a run time of 45:43, which is 43 seconds slower than my run goal, but 17 seconds faster than my combo goal.
At the end, just like last year, they handed me a very nice Weiss beer glass, only this time it wasn't a shock for me to see everyone drinking beer afterwards. Of course, I have since learned they are drinking alcohol free beer, but it was still cool to be able to join in the festivities and have a nice cold one.
So, although I met my goals for the race, I still finished in the bottom half of everyone, which means I am below average when it comes to triathlons...but then again, who cares...I was happy with how the day ended up. The funny thing is that I told Barbie my goal was under 2:45, and my stretch goal was 2:40. She laughed and said you are not that good as to pinpoint your abilities that close. Well, I ended up with 2:42:54, so I guess I am that good.
Last Sunday (June 6th), I participated in my second 1/2 Ironman distance triathlon. The scary part of it is that it was only a training day for me, which means I didn't really rest before hand, other than on Saturday. I had full workouts throughout the week, including a 2.5 hour bike ride on Friday. Actually, I wouldn't have done the Friday ride if I knew that the race was going to have a hilly bike ride (3000+ feet over 56 miles), but I didn't find that out til Friday on the bike ride. My goals for the race were the following:
- 35-40 minute swim
- Average 18mph on the bike
- Run under 2 hours for the 13 mile run
- Total time between 5:30 and 6:00
Well, Barbie, myself and Kymba all arrived in Passau on Saturday (about 1.5 hours outside of Munich). The weather was absolutely horrible with rain forecasted for all day Saturday, and also on Sunday. After finally finding a hotel...long story that I won't go into...I went and picked up my race packet, then headed back to go out to dinner with Barbie. Of course since it is the evening of the race, we are going out to italian so I can get pasta. Well, we drove into Passau, quickly found a restaurant, and proceeded to eat the worst tasting Italian food ever. The food and sauce were so bland that we couldn't figure out how they managed to actually take out all the flavor. Either way, I ate what I had to. The rest of the night was pretty uneventful...go to the hotel, hang out and go to sleep.
The morning of the race everything went off without a hitch, except that I forgot my tri-shorts. We got to the start, and immediately happened to find Wolfgang, who just happened to have a one piece triathlon suit that I could wear...thanks Wolfgang! Well, I got everything organized, stretched a little and warmed up, then it was time for the race to start. Unfortunately Kymba had to be left in the car for the race start since she was going nuts for all the kids running around.
As stated earlier, I wanted to swim about 35-40 minutes at an easy pace, but I also wanted to practice drafting people. The water was cold according to some, but having done races in the Pacific Ocean, this wasn't anything to complain about. After the gun went off I took off, fought for position, then finally got into some sort of a groove. The entire time I was looking for faster swimmers to trail, but it is a lot harder to do than you think b/c the water is murky, and not everyone swims in a straight line. If I noticed that I was swimming the same speed as someone, I would actually slow down a little bit and start to trail them as sort of a rest. My theory being that if we are going to swim the same speed, I might as well get the benefit of drafting. Once they got tired and started to slow down, I would pass and continue on until someone else came along. This actually worked out pretty good b/c it gave me slight rests. The entire swim I felt strong, which is good, and shows that all those laps in the pool were worth it.
Not much happened here, other than trying to figure out what to wear since it was cloudy, but wasn't raining. There is nothing worse than being cold during the bike ride, but I took and chance and only wore short sleeve over my one piece skinsuit. I also noticed that I had beaten Wolfgang out of the water, which is odd since he is usually a faster swimmer in the pool. I did see him come out a couple minutes later, so it wasn't by much.
The bike course was basically 3 loops consisting of 56 miles. My plan was to not go all out on the bike, b/c I wanted a strong run at the end. If I tried to go all out on the hills, I would be walking on the run. Anyways, normally you think "what goes up must come down", well that is true, but there are different variations of this. This course consisted of one main down slope (12% grade), and then the rest of the time you spent slowly working your way back up the hill. The worst part was that at the bottom of the huge down slope, of which I would get to 40+ mph, there was basically a 180 degree turnaround, so you had to start hitting the brakes about half way down, which kills all your momentum. Anyways, in the beginning I quickly got passed by Wolfgang. I tried to keep up for a while, but to no avail. I also noticed that there was a girl who I kept passing and then getting passed by. The odd part was that she had legs as thick as me! Normally she would pass me on the hills, and I would catch her on the flats or slight downhills. This basically continued back and forth for the first half of the course, but since it was mostly up hill the entire way, she eventually got away. Anyways, I was making sure to drink or eat something every 10 minutes in order to keep up my glycogen...no since in repeating what happened in my last 1/2 Ironman or my marathon. Well, on my 2nd lap the leader eventually lapped me, and was he flying. We were on an uphill and it looked like he was on the flats. Unlike most of my races here in Germany, I actually didn't get passed by too many, but I didn't do a lot of passing either. Eventually the bike ended, and I had done 2:47 roughly, but that included transitions, and was about 4 mile short of 56 according to my bike odometer, but the point is that I averaged 18mph, which is what I wanted for the hilly course.
By the time transition 2 came around, I had to use the restroom, but there were none available. So I quickly got everything ready, or so I thought, and took off. The one thing I forgot was a Gel packet, which would come back to hurt me a little bit. I did however bring my fuel belt so I could have my own drinks...I didn't want another marathon episode where they only have carbonated water and hot tea!
Run (20km or ~13 miles)
About 2 minutes into the run I pull off on the side (hidden away) to use the restroom. Unfortunately I have never worn a one piece triathlon skinsuit, so it literally takes me 3 minutes to finish b/c I had to take off my running shirt, race number belt, fuel belt, and then the one-piece in order to use the restroom! Of course I have to put this all back on again, which takes time, so it ended up costing me about 3 minutes according to my watch. I consider this Transition 2.5 . Anyways, I start running and am feeling quite strong. As I pass one of the turn arounds about a mile into it I see my co-worker Peter, who is doing is first 1/2 Ironman, coming the other way. He is an exceptionally fast runner, so it doesn't take him long for him to catch and surpass me. The rest of the first 7 miles is pretty uneventful, as I was able to maintain a good pace and felt strong the entire way. The worst part of the run is that it consisted of exactly two laps, which means they made you go back to the finish line, and then back out again. Talk about depressing, you get to the finish line and then have to go back out. They should at least have you turn around somewhere a little ways away so you don't feel so crushed mentally. So, onto the 2nd lap, and I could tell my legs were starting to get tired. About this time I would have appreciated to have my Gel for an energy boost. Either way I was able to press on for the next 3 miles without walking, then I saw an aid station and decided to get some water. Of course I first asked if it was Still Water and not carbonated, at which all the volunteers laughed as if I was asking something so off the wall. Apparantely they didn't volunteer at my marathon. This ended up being my only walking point, and it was for about 20-30 seconds while I drank water. About this time the Olympic distance triathlon competitors were on the run course, so I got to see the top runners fly by me. At this point in time I completely realized that I will never be able to compete for a win in a triathlon. These guys were absolutely flying, and were running faster than I ever could. They had to go 6 miles, but looked like they only had to go one lap around the track! Either way it was cool to see everyone trying to catch the leader. So...108 minutes later after starting the run I finally crossed the finish line.
I had beaten all my goals and finished in a time of 5:20. My swim time was right on track, my bike pace was perfect, and I beat my goal run time by 12 minutes. Needless to say I was happy with the results, and I still felt strong at the end. The hardest part was knowing that in just a few weeks I would have to do it all over again, only this time it would be twice as long.
p.s. In case you are wondering, yes, they had plenty of Beer available at the post race party.
p.s.2. Thanks to Barbie and Kymba for being the support group during the race, even though they would hang out in the background since Kymba can be a little wild in large groups. Either way I was able to spot the Weisse Deutsche Schaferhund in the distance and be able to wave to them.
Well my folks left back for Miami on Wednesday, so it back to the real world again. No more fun in the sun, and boy did they get some really good weather while they were here. No matter where we went, the weather was only bright and sunny, and never really cold or hot. Unfortunately they took it with them since it has been raining here in Munich ever since. Ok...onto the highlights...
The folks arrived Thursday morning (May 20) bright and early (8:30am)...and for any of you who are thinking it is better to arrive in the morning...you are wrong. It is by far better to arrive in the afternoon, otherwise the Jetlag will hit you pretty hard. In order to keep them awake until at least the early afternoon I took them to Nymphenburg Palace, where you can walk around the gardens and the palace. This time I finally got to see the Stage Coaches of the former Bavarian royalty. The carriages were quite impressive, especially considering they were made over a 100 years ago. Anyways, after this we headed back to the house and to the Grüntal (Green Valley) for lunch, which is a good local restaurant down the street from us. Afterwards, it was nap time for my parents...although they are allowed 1.5-2 hours, then we wake them up. I think we got this whole Jetlag thing down, so if you come, you have to listen to us, even though your body is telling you to smack us and go back to sleep.
We headed to Paris on Friday morning. A fairly uneventful drive until we got to the inner city of Paris and couldn't find the hotel because of all the one way streets. Once we finally arrived (after at least 45 minutes of searching), they told us there were no rooms available even though we had reservations. So I basically told them to put us up in the Hilton down the street (4 or 5 stars) for the same price...then amazingly enough another room became availabe. It was actually a Suite, so my parents got to stay in that room, and we stayed in a normal size room.
Saturday my parents went shopping for antiques (what else), and Barbie did our usual bike tour around the city....which included seeing the Eiffel Tower, the outside of the Louvre, Napoleon's tomb, the Alexander Bridge (exact replica of a bridge in St. Petersburg Russia), the plaza where the Guillotine was used during the French Revolution and many other random things around the city.
That evening we all got together and went and saw the "Sacred Heart" church, which sits on the top of a hill overlooking Paris. Afterwards we went for a nice dinner, and then went to the infamous Moulin Rouge. The show was great and it was just interesting being there. After the show, we got the cab ride of our lives. This guy, who I don't think was a real cab driver, convinced us to have him take us back to the hotel, since his car was right there, and we wouldn't have to fight the masses to find a cab of our own. Anyways, this guy was just a talker and gave my dad a hard time for not looking happy. The cab driver said he was happy all the time...heck, he was even happy in his sleep!
Sunday was the day where we actually walked around and went into all the tourist places instead of just seeing them from the outside. We all went to the Museum Dorcee, Napoleon's tomb, the garden where the Thinker resides, and a few other highlights of Paris. Needless to say we were exhausted after all the walking so we took it easy that night.
Monday we all went to the Louvre, which is an event in and of itself. There are thousands upon thousands of paintings and sculptures, along with the apartments of Napolean. Back in Napoleon's day it was actually an old royalty building where the homeless stayed since the overthrow of the French royalty during the French Revolution. Napoleon had them all excavated, and brought it back to its current amazing state. The Louvre contains paintings such as the Mona Lisa, Madonna on the Rocks, Napoleon's Coronation of Josephine, and many others. The coronation painting is quite enormous, and come to find out, it was a pre-cursor (i.e. trial) for the same painting which is painted on the wall of one of the rooms in Versailles. The Louvre also contains the infamous sculpture Venus de Milo, which is no where near as impressive as Michelangelo's David, but still cool to see.
After spending the entire morning, and better part of the afternoon in the Louvre, Barbie and I headed to Notre Dame church. This is the church where Quasimoto was based. Unfortunately the church wasn't the most impressive we have seen. Afterwards we all got back together and tried to go to watch the French Open. Unfortunately, the matches were finished by the time we got there, so we couldn't even get in. Needless to say I was quite disappointed, but it is my fault since I didn't plan better.
Tuesday we actually tried to go back to the French Open, but this time we drove and ended up getting lost. Again, we didn't make it to the Open, and had to settle for heading to the Palace of Versailles...rough life, I know. Anyways, the palace of Versailles is by far the largest palace I have ever seen. It is absolutely enormous, and the gardens expand farther than the eye can see. The palace itself was very nice, but they were doing some construction, so I think we missed out on one of the best rooms...the Hall of Mirrors. Since it had already been such a long day, we didn't feel like walking around the gardens, so we headed down to a city called Beaune, which is in the Burgundy wine region of France. This was a very quaint walled city, and our hotel was absolutely great. The entire hotel was furnished with antiques, and our rooms were enormous...especially for Europe. We ended up staying there for a couple of days, one of which we went on a Wine tour through the vineyards. Unfortunately there wasn't a lot of wine tasting, but a lot of driving through the vineyards and talking about how the vineyards are maintained and regulated. We did get to have a few tastes, but I don't think we found the Burgundy wine all that impressive...we like the Bourdeaux's better.
After Beaune, we headed to Strassburg for an evening. It is a cute little city, but really only has a main cathedral, which I found fairly good...especially the Astronomical type clock within it.
Over a week later we arrived back to Munich on Friday...where my parents immediately went Antique shopping, and to there amazement, there were a lot of great shops within our hometown! Unfortunately they only had a few hours on Friday, but made up for it on Saturday, when they spent almost the entire day scowering the city for antiques. It actually worked out good for me b/c I was able to go out for about a 4-5 hour bike ride. That evening we headed to Barbie and I's favorite restaurant...Trader Vic's. The are actually a chain around the world, but they have by far the best food in Munich. And now, it is my parent's favorite restaurant also.
Sunday morning I went for 2 hour run (13.1 miles), then we all walked over the Seehaus for lunch...which has become a customary thing to do with our visitors. That afternoon we all went on Mike's Bike Tours...which gave my parents a good/humorous history of Munich.
Monday morning my parents and I headed out to Neuschwanstein Castle (i.e. Disney castle). I must say I was expecting the castle to be higher up on the hill based on the pictures I had seen, but instead it was about 1/2 way up, and the pictures were taken from above it which made it look like it was on top. Anyways, the castle was built on the top of two old Knight's castle's ruins. It had by far the most elaborate rooms of any of the castles/palaces I have ever seen, and that includes Versailles. Unfortunately the castle's interior was only 1/3rd completed b/c of King Ludwig II's death. 6 weeks after his death the castle was turned into a museum and is now the largest tourist attraction within all of Europe. Well, after our journey to Neuschwanstein, we all went back to Trader Vic's for dinner again...I told you it was our favorite place!!
Tuesday Barbie had to leave town for work, and my parents went back to shopping. I ended up meeting them for lunch at the Spatenhaus (another place we take all our visitors!), then went back home and went on a bike ride. That evening we just relaxed and hung out.
Wednesday was the dreaded day where my parents had to fly back to Miami. Luckily everything went great on the flight and they made it safely back. Barbie and I had an absolutely great 2 weeks, and we can't wait to do it again...hint hint.