2012 Round Up

Well, that's it for another year and, more depressingly, for another age group.  There were the typical ups and downs plus all the usual excuses:

The year didn't start too well with some heart problems (major atrial flutter episodes for approximately 8 weeks) and a torn meniscus. I still managed to get through the fantastic Abu Dhabi International Triathlon in March before undergoing knee surgery. Once recovered, the main focus was on preparing for Ironman Germany while building a new family home. Frankfurt was certainly an interesting (and painful) experience, but not one I'd like to repeat...

I took almost 10 weeks off from training seriously to dedicate all spare time to get the house finished. This early off-season was also part of the pre-2013 plan and I was in good running form towards the end of the year. Let's see if I can carry this over and run a good spring marathon before getting my teeth into the 2 big races in Austria (70.3. in St. Pƶlten and Ironman Klagenfurt) next summer.

Here's the annual stats and my Ironman Ranking:


2012 (KM) 2012 (hh:mm)
2011 (KM) 2011 (hh:mm)
Swim 98.48 36:28
131.37 56:52
Bike 4217.74 157:58
4699.1 177:20
Run 1178.67 108:33
1294.44 119:05

 So, here are my (sports) goals for 2013:
  • Better nutrition (less sugar, more protein)
  • Core, core, core - we know the drill...
  • A sub 3:45 spring marathon
  • A sub 11:30 Ironman

Hassloch Half-Marathon

Hassloch Half-Marathon - 1:39:21 [Results]

km 
1: 4:43
km 2: 4:48
km 3: 4:53
km 4: 4:38
km 5: 4:42
km 6: 4:27
km 7: 4:45
km 8: 4:46
km 9: 4:45
km 10: 4:52

km 11: 4:39
km 12: 4:44
km 13: 4:28
km 14: 4:47
km 15: 4:44
km 16: 4:44
km 17: 4:52
km 18: 4:36
km 19: 4:47
km 20: 4:26

km 21.1: 5:02

M40: 33rd out of 86
Male: 64th out of 211
Overall: 70th out of 271


3 laps through the Hassloch forest entirely covered in snow. Temperature wasn't as cold as expected, but the surface kept getting more slipperly, especially in the last lap. Perfect timing and very pleased with a sub 1:40 time. However, I think the distance was approx. 200m short.
Well, this was my last race in the M40. Bring on the next 5 years!

Ettlingen-Bruchhausen 10k

WinterstraƟenlauf Ettlingen-Bruchhausen 10k - 44:37 [Results]

km 1: 4:27
km 2: 4:27
km 3: 4:38
km 4: 4:27
km 5: 4:30
km 6: 4:27
km 7: 4:25
km 8: 4:36
km 9: 4:20
km 10: 4:16

M40: 10th out of 19
Male: 63rd out of 119
Total: 69th out of 182

Finally cracked 45 minutes. Perfectly timed race in ideal conditions. Missed PB by 1 second... Ah well.

Stadtlauf Eppelheim

Stadtlauf Eppelheim 10k - 45:17 [Results]

km 1: 4:30
km 2: 4:27
km 3: 4:37
km 4: 4:19
km 5: 4:29
km 6: 4:31
km 7: 4:28
km 8: 4:37
km 9: 4:23
km 10: 4:50

M40: 9th out of 22
Male: 49th out of 126
Total: 53th out of 166

Start had to be pushed back by half an hour due to a fire near the course. Was spot on track to finally break 45:00, but failed because the last km was, according to my Garmin, 1100m long. Avg speed was 4:25, so happy with progress, but a tad disappointed by the time.

Had a bit of a scare 3 days ago when I banged my head and ended up with a 3cm cut in my head...

Hockenheimring 10k

Hockenheimring 10k - 45:49 [Results]

km 1: 4:30
km 2: 4:43
km 3: 4:33
km 4: 4:44
km 5: 4:30
km 6: 4:42
km 7: 4:35
km 8: 4:31
km 9: 4:35
km 10: 4:22

M40: 53rd out of 132
Male: 278th out of 764
Total: 305th out of 990

1min 19secs faster than last year in similar conditions. Splits were quite erratic, but speed was consistent according to the Garmin. Pleased with progress so far. Would be nice to crack 45 minutes on Sunday.
 

Herbstlauf Weinheim

Herbstlauf Weinheim 10k - 46:53 [Results]

km 1: 4:41
km 2: 4:42
km 3: 4:39
km 4: 4:44
km 5: 4:40
km 6: 4:36
km 7: 4:46
km 8: 4:38
km 9: 4:54
km 10: 4:30

M40: 32rd out of 75
Male: 84th out of 215
Total: 92nd out of 293

First race in a looong time with virtually no preparation whatsoever. Too heavy, too slow, but great to race again. Time to start training again and to plan the season ahead.

Blausee Sprint

Blausee Sprint Triathlon (500 / 20 / 5) 1:07:33 [Results]

Swim - 09:20
T1 - 1:59
Bike - 30:30 (Garmin)
T2 - 1:38 (Garmin)
Run - 24:08 (Garmin)

M40: 15th out of 75
Male: 44th out of 176
Overall: 48th out of 221

A different type of triathlon: no rules, no fuss, no extortionate fees - fantastic. Wetsuits were allowed, even though the water was 24 Celcius; bikes weren't checked at all and drafting was legal.


My swim was good, followed by a long run into T1. The bike course was tricky as there were loads of tight corners. Speed was very high assisting by drafting and my run was way to slow. According to the Garmin, the bike course was a bit too short and the run 150m too long.

The timing chip was a bit of a strange construction, which caused some major chaving. Apart from that, a really nice local race - definitely on my calendar for next year.

Speyerer Brezelfestlauf

My annual pace-making duties to get my old man sub 50 minutes on the 8.2km Brezelfestlauf. Mission accomplished - well done dad!

IRONMAN Germany

IRONMAN Germany 12:19:02 [Results] [Certificate]

Swim - 1:17:06
T1 - 4:02
Bike - 5:51:37
T2 - 2:46
Run - 5:03:30

M40: 362nd out of 489
Overall: 1620th out of 2309

They call it the longest day and a long day it certainly was:

We got up at 3am after a couple of hours sleep. Not really my time for breakfast, but there is no other option, but to get down as many carbs as possible and start hydrating as well. We set off to the 1 hour drive to meet up with the Ulster contingent at the lake in Langen. After the usual setup in T1, we said our good-byes and there is was: the ultimate supporter T-shirt for Aileen - amazing!

I was lucky to get drawn in the start group with the pros and we were called to get into the water at 6.30am. While everybody tried to find a good spot behind the in-water start line, the anthem was played - slightly surreal. Without any further warning the race started and off we went. I took it easy until the first turn and managed to find a good position soon. After that I was able to draft for most of the first loop - I was spot on 40 minutes for the first 2.1k. The second loop was a bit more hectic as I started to get overtaken by the fast swimmers of the main field. As usual, I slowed down significantly towards the end, but managed a good enough time.

The painful 100m run into a huge T1 is on sand and on a steep uphill. I opted for the change-at-your-bike choice and avoided the tents. As soon as I entered the bike, the rain started. Hooray.


The first 30 minutes on the bike are flat and fast, and the first few hills were no problem. At 45k I heard this major unpleasant noise after a normal gear change. The entire front derailleur had broken off the frame!! I examined the damage to realise that this was quite serious. I stopped a passing motorbike and asked the referree whether he could call the official bike repair van, but was told that I simply had to wait. I decided to take the derailleuer apart to be able to distangle it from the chain. After 10 minutes of total stoppage time, I was totally soaked, covered in oil and bleeding as I cut myself on the front ring, but back on a bike only missing all big gears. This wasn't such a major issue on the uphills or when riding into the wind, but slowed me down on the long flats or downhill passages. At least I was able to continue with a number of stops as the chain kept derailing. The rain stopped at the half-way point and the wind picked up instead. The second half of the bike leg was either high-cadence due to lack of gears or high-wattage due to very strong head winds. So much about conserving energy for the run...

T2 was straightforward, but I already felt that I had spent too much energy - mentally as well aa physically - on the bike. I got into my rythm relatively quickly and was running ok for the first 15k, when things started to slow down. By the half-way point I realised that I am likely to miss my 12 hour target and started to walk. A lot. This now became more of a psychological battle and my head just couldn't cope. Lap 3 was very tough and it was good to get a lot of support from family and friends at various points. Things started to get a little better easier during the last lap, even though it was still very slow.

Finishing an Ironman is something very special and the finish in Frankfurt is no difference. Running the last quarter mile passing big crowds, the noise, the red carpet - amazing. As usual, Aileen joined me for our last few, very emotional meters and Seb Kienle put the finisher medal round her neck.

I picked up my t-shirt and grabed some salty food in the athlete's garden before joining my family. That moment is always the best after a race like that. We hung out in the finisher's area to wait for my good friend Jeff to finish his first Ironman - he was over the moon. Well done mate! We then decided to wait for the grande finale of the race, which is broadcasted live on TV. Amazing to see the last athletes to finish just under 15 hours and a great end to a fantastic day.

Click on the picture to get to the album...

I am totally pleased to have finished my second long distance, but I cannot be happy with my time. Yes, there are plenty of excuses - the knee surgery a few months ago, the lack of training due to the house build, the problems with the bike and the conditions. On reflection, my head wasn't as prepared as for Roth, I wasn't as hungry as I was 2 years ago. My nutrition over the last few months has been poor, which resulted in too much weight for an event like this and my overall level of fitness just wasn't good enough. It has been a very good (and painful) lesson - bring on Ironman Austria in 12 months time!

Body Composition - Pre IM Germany

Weight85.3kg
Body Fat13.4% (LA 10.0 RA 7.5 RL 11.7 LL 11.8, B 15.4)
Total Body Water62.5%
Muscle Mass70.3kg (LA 4.3 RA 4.6 RL 11.8 LL 11.7, B 37.9, 5)
Physique Rating5
Basal Metabolic Rate2130 KJ
Metabolism Age28
Bone Mass3.6kg
Resting Heart Rate55

Not as good as I wanted it to be, but given the circumstances and lack of will power when it comes to nutrition, this is the body that has to get me through IM Frankfurt on Sunday.

Lampertheim Sprint

Lampertheim Sprint Triathlon (500 / 20 / 5) 1:07:33 [Results]

Swim - 09:15 (approx)
T1 - 1:45 (approx)
Bike - 32:20
T2 - 1:30 (approx)
Run - 22:45 (approx)

M40: 20th out of 98
Male: 63rd out of 277
Overall: 66th out of 327

Last test race before IM Frankfurt. Given yesterday's 6 1/2 hour workout I expected a slower time than last year, but that didn't happen ;-) The swim was the usual battle - kicking, holding and panic attacks. I decided to wear the wet suit, which was a good choice. When I exited the water I realised that the Garmin had died. Not good. Bike split was fast and furious as expected. My legs were tired on the first 2k on the run, but felt better towards the end - shame not to know what the exact splits are...




So, 2 weeks to go until the big day. I am ready. TAPER time.

Wasserstadt Triathlon Hannover

Waserstadt Triathlon Hannover (1.9 / 90 / 21.1) 5:24:18 [Results[Certificate

Swim - 35:16

T1 - 4:53
Bike - 2:49:46
T2 - 3:50
Run - 1:50:50

M40: 27th out of 50
Male: 118th out of 209
Overall: 121th out of 239

496 starters, 239 finishers and 257(!) DNFs. 9 degrees Celsius, heavy rain throughout and wind made the bike ride after a relatively eventless swim and a long run into T1 a pretty brutal affair. My hands and feet were freezing after the first lap. From lap two onwards, I struggled to change gears or break and in the last lap I wasn't even able to take my drink bottle out of its cage, let alone unwrap any of my energy bars.

T2 became a bit of a comedy as everything was completely numb. I struggled to stop the Garmin, wobbled to my dedicated place to be greated by one of dozens of amazing helpers. She took my rain gear off and put some Dextro in my mouth before we spent about 2 minutes to get my running shoes on.

The partly undulating run went mostly through a medow, which was, of course, completely soaked as well. It took me about 30 minutes to be able to have some sort of feeling in my feet. Given the circumstances, I had one of my best half-marathons in a triathlon - the time says it all.

All in all, a very chilly affair, but a great morale booster for the Ironman in 5 weeks time. I had planned to test out my nutrition strategy, but this was impossible in those conditions.

Lesson learned? Always bring gloves, a hat and shoe covers, no matter what the forecast says. Oh, and bring a shoe horn, so you don't have to embarrass yourself in transition...


Mannheim Half-Marathon

Mannheim Half-Marathon - 1:42:35 [Certificate] [Results]

km 
1: 5:13
km 2: 4:55
km 3: 4:53
km 4: 5:01
km 5: 4:54
km 6: 4:57
km 7: 4:58
km 8: 4:55
km 9: 4:51
km 10: 4:57
km 11: 4:46
km 12: 4:56
km 13: 5:02
km 14: 4:36
km 15: 4:42
km 16: 4:45
km 17: 4:47
km 18: 4:48
km 19: 4:40
km 20: 4:39

km 21.1: 5:11

M40: 83rd out of 363
Male: 524th out of 2302
Overall: 551st out of 3218


Still one of my favourite races. Was aiming for a 1:45, but felt really good after the half-way point so increased the pace a little bit. Could have gone faster, but didn't want to push it - 5 hour bike ride tomorrow morning...



Trollinger Half-Marathon

Heilbronn Trollinger Half-marathon - 1:51:13 [Certificate] [Results]

km 
1: 5:38
km 2: 5:27
km 3: 5:44
km 4: 5:30
km 5: 5:13
km 6: 5:33
km 7: 5:19
km 8: 5:16
km 9: 5:41
km 10: 6:01
km 11: 4:39
km 12: 4:51
km 13: 5:04
km 14: 5:07
km 15: 5:06
km 16: 5:17
km 17: 4:38
km 18: 5:08
km 19: 5:08
km 20: 5:11

km 21.1: 5:31

M40: 218th out of 509
Male: 1268th out of 3256
Overall: 1392nd out of 4352

Cycled almost 90k to Heilbronn in the rain and got to the race completely trenched. Took it easy during the first half and the hill at 10k to see how things go before picking up a little bit of pace. Nice race, but often too crowded to run, let alone overtake others. Good 5 1/2 hour workout - getting there, but still need to loose a lot of weight...

Amphibia X-Bag

I had the pleasure of meeting up with Adrian McGreevy from Amphibia last week in Dublin. Adrian was brave enough to go on Dragons Den to promote his product range and successfully attracted funding in his business. I am now the proud owner of the Amphibia X-Bag.
 

Finally, a bag I can wear while cycling to a race - no more boxes - and use in transition - no more rucksacks. So far, I have only used it in training, but can't wait for the first races of the season.

In the news

I somehow made in the news, well the local paper "Weinheimer Nachrichten":

I'm a new man...

... new running shoes, new Garmin, a new experience, and a new knee.

The meniscus surgery is now 2 weeks away and things look pretty positive. While there is some bruising left and the odd niggle especially when I turn my leg, I have been able to start training again. I did a 30 minute test swim (pull bouy only) 10 days after the op, half an hour of running yesterday and an easy 1 hour ride today. Still some way to go, but getting there. I will take it easy for another week and then hopefully get some serious miles in over Easter...

I also decided to run on soft shoes for a while and keep my flats for when the knee is 100% again. I opted for the Brooks Ghost 3. It is last year's model of the neutral shoe. Let's see.

As a treat and because my 310XT broke about 6 months ago, I purchased the new Garmin 910XT. I have only used it during the run so far and first impressions are very good: smaller in size, more comfortable to wear and a much better display. Can't wait to use it in the pool to try out the new swim features.

During my first 2 1/2 days on crutches plus the remainder of that week, I decided to try fasting to see if it helps with my ticker and also to keep the weight down while not exercising. 7 days on soup was quite revealing. I enjoyed parts of it - the lightness as well a clear mind - but it was also hard work. I am planning to do this again after the season in autumn.

I also just finished Chrissie Wellington's book "A Life without Limits". 5 out of 5 stars!

So, unless something dramatic happens in the next 14 weeks, I am now confident to make it to the starting line of Ironman Germany! Bring on the tough and long training sessions!

ADIT 2012

ADIT Short Distance (1.5 / 100 / 10) 4:29:44 [Results[Certificate

Swim - 33:52

T1 - 3:39
Bike - 2:56:31
T2 - 3:23
Run - 52:01

M40: 58th out of 119
Male: 237th out of 522
Overall: 238th out of 666


After some shenanigans with the bike at Frankfurt Airport, I flew out to Abu Dhabi on Thursday evening to be picked up from the airport by my club mate Uwe around midnight. Luckily the bike arrived safely, but the box took quite a bit of a battering - I think this might have been its last trip.

We got up early on Friday morning to go for a quick test swim before breakfast. Less than 5 minutes drive away, we had access to a nice beach as part of a (very) posh golf club - perfect training conditions. This was the first wet suit swim in over 5 months and I didn't feel right after little sleep and no breakfast. Less than 5 minutes in the water I had a flutter that lasted for about 30 seconds. Not good. This was followed by another just before getting out of the water. My first thought was not to start the next day as I perceived it too risky to have a flutter in the Arabian Gulf… We then went for a quick 30 minute test ride on the bike to make sure everything is working.

The rest of the day was filled with the usual pre-race obligations: race pack collection, purchase of CO2 cartridges, bike preparation (incl. a flat tyre), check-in and checking out the transition area. We also had the pleasure of driving Sylvia Felt, one of the female invited pros, round the bike course. This was rounded up by a perfect carbo-loading session and packing everything for race day. I didn't sleep well at all, subconsciously worrying about the swim.

When the alarm went off at 4:30am, I was in a complete delirium, but had decided to race after all. I would take it really easy during the swim and avoid anything that could trigger another flutter. Quick breakfast, drive to the start, bike preparation and transition setup. There was only a single transition area, separated by gender, and everybody had a numbered hook and a chair. Fantastic.

The start was delayed by 30 minutes and we watched the pros go off. It was my turn almost 2 hours later. Good time for some last preparations (read: visiting the loo multiple times) and do some relaxation exercises. The wave was only 200 people and I started right from the back. I avoided any collision and took it very easy indeed. Orientation was quite easy. First turn: the tallest flag post in the world, second turn: 2 exposed skyscrapers, last turn: finish. The time was very slow - I didn't even take a Garmin! - but, I managed to get through without a flutter. I have also no recollection being hit by the chap ahead of me when getting out of the water:


On to the bike and out in the dessert. The course is, apart from a couple of nasty bridges, almost flat. The wind was relatively kind, but picked up towards the end. After a third of the distance, we had the pleasure to go round the Yas Marina Formular One course. Great fun. At the half way point, my speed was still very good and I felt that this was to be a good bike split. And so it was. 34 km/h on the training bike isn't bad at all (the Plasma wouldn't fit in my bike box).


Now the run, my other Achilles heel. Because of a meniscus tear I had run about 20 miles in the last 8 weeks - this doesn't even count as preparation and I had no idea whether the bandaged up knee would hold up. By this time temperatures had risen to about 28-30 Celsius. Warm, but much milder than expected. We ran down the Corniche, passed the Emirates Palace hotel and turned at the famous flag pole.  The run was much better than expected. I slowed down every time I felt a niggle and got through without any issues.


To my surprise I even finished sub 4:30. Not only that, I felt great. After receiving a nice medal I went straight to the buffet, which was the best I have seen in a while. Tons of local dishes, fruit, sweets, and drinks - exactly what I needed. We then watched the pros from the long distance come in before checking out our gear. A perfect day was finished off with some perfect steak and a drink in the roof top restaurant of the Yas Marina Formular One hotel.


Lesson learned? Leave the Garmin at home and don't panic. Not so sure about racing with little training and an injury, though. 2 weeks to go until the knee surgery and then we see how the rest of the season goes.

Health

Health hasn't been great in the last 8-10 weeks. My atrial flutter has been back since mid December and I have torn my left inner meniscus at the begging of January. Training, or lack thereof, has been everything but ideal, to say the least.

My flutter was bad for about 2 weeks. I guess it was a combination of stress (heavy work load and moving house twice within 8 weeks), poor nutrition and squeezing in the foundation training for Ironman Germany. I have since increased my potassium and magnesium intake, which have improved things a lot. However, the ticker is not as good as it was and it is likely that another ablation will be required. Hopefully this can wait until the end of the season (and getting the house built). I am also looking into alternative approaches, mainly around nutrition, mineral intake and relaxation.

The knee went pop, when I kneeled down on the carpet to play with Aileen. It was really painful for 2 days and then started to improve. I went to see an orthopediatrician 2 weeks later. An MRI scan revealed the diagnosis. We agreed to treat the injury with a bandage and intake of ortho-molecular substances (high doses of glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid). There was a 20% chance that the tear would heal, but this has not materialised. The keyhole surgery is now scheduled for March 19th. After that, I will be on crutches for a fortnight and will not be allowed to train for another 2-3 weeks. This period will be accompanied with physio - good time to start adding some core and stability training to mix again.

Will I be able to race in Abu Dhabi? Yes! I decided to give it a go. The swim will be no problem as long as the ticker doesn't play up; the bike should be ok as I have spent quite a few miles on the turbo; and the run will be the interesting part - worst case it will be a walk / jog.

Will I be able to race Ironman Germany? I Hopefully! I know it doesn't look to good at the moment, but if I can start training as planned, there is a chance that I will get enough miles in to get me round somehow. Let's wait and see...