Thursday, September 29, 2016

Challenge Roth- The Beginning and Tips

Gosh Roth- how do you write a post trying to coles note version one of the most amazing experiences of your life? Besides the day I got married and the days my kids were born, this was the next best day ever.  Really, no lie.

Just a few stats to set the stage. Jan Frodeno was not only racing that day but had a goal to beat the record time by Andreas Raelerts set 5 years ago.  Then a couple weeks before race day, Daniella Ryf was added to the lineup.

2016 Challenge Roth celebrated it's 15th year and it's main sponsor DATEV 50 years

3482 racers
6000 volunteers
250,000 spectators- ya you read that right
Race day high temp 28 C
Race day water temp 21 C

Jan Frodeno 7:35:39 - broke the world record by 6 minutes
Daniella Ryf 8:22:04 - fastest woman ever on the bike course

My husband was originally the one interested in applying into the Challenge Roth lottery in July of 2015.  He had the computer loaded and ready at some crazy early time (because we are 7 hours behind Roth).  In 30 sec his name was accepted and he had 2 weeks to leave payment.  Those lottery spots were gone in less than 2 minutes.  I had not completed a full distance triathlon yet and sometimes I spend too much time "thinking things through" and he is a let's jump and go type of guy so he was in and I wasn't.  Additional lottery spots were available the beginning of December.  I was out of town and well, it didn't happen as planned and I didn't get in.  This time I was really bummed.  But a most amazing thing happened in a very early morning in Feb of 2017.  My husband whispered to me that he was just got an email indicating that a few spots were available for Roth, did I still want a spot.  Well, I jumped right up and told him to say yes, checked my email a bit later and there I was.

I had plans for July 17!  Next step was the training.  Planned back 20 weeks and the first day of training for Challenge Roth officially started on Feb 28.  I already had a couple events planned for 2016 and timing wise they all worked well together.

We also starting doing some research and making some plans and reservations for the trip and accommodations.  We got great Challenge Roth advice from meeting up with a social media friend Erin Lee the previous July at Whistler during Ironman Canada.  She had just returned from Roth and had some great tips for us.  I think she was the ball that started all this rolling.  Thanks Erin!

Roth is a small community with limited accommodations.  There are however, many other neighbouring communities as well as the city of Nuremburg all within about 20 miles. We booked a small condo through VRBO on the south side of Nuremburg (Roth was south of Nuremburg).  The condo had comfortable beds, enough space for the 4 of us and our bikes and gear, had a washing machine and small kitchen.  It was very simply furnished though, not like maybe we see in North America.
We did do lots of walking in the area as we were just on the outside of the old city walls and the walk to the old downtown area was beautiful.  The drive back and forth to Roth was a real inconvenience though.  We drove there Thurs, Fri, Sat and Sun.

To do it again, I would recommend trying to book a place in Roth.  Obviously, it is nice to be close to the race finish/expo but more compelling is the feeling Roth gives off.  A quaint, traditional German (and of course after being there once, I am the expert) with classic German architecture and charm, cobblestone streets, neat restaurants and pubs with unfortunately little chance to experience them.  Also, if you enjoy the ambiance of the days prior to a triathlon, Roth is a better bet.  We had none of that in Nuremburg.  People on bikes commuting but no signs, promotion or in some cases awareness of Challenge Roth.  However, a mere 20 min away, the people of Roth are well known for their passion for triathlon.  Just seeing the number of spectators confirms this.

We chose to fly into Zurich as we were going back to Switzerland for the 2 weeks after Roth to see friends and attend a wedding.  We rented a car at the airport and drove the 3 1/2 hours to Roth through rain with very little sleep.  Most flights from North America to Europe will fly through the night so you arrive in Europe in the morning local time though it is the middle of the night to your body.  The trick I was told was to just stay awake for the day and proceed as normal to get adjusted to the time change.  We really did try to do this but did make a pit stop 2 x at rest station pull outs along the German roads.  The second time, with the 2 kids sleeping, I told hubby just to put his head on the steering wheel and let's catch a few winks.  We all slept 30-40 min then were good to go.

 Most people from Canada that we met through the few days, also there for the triathlon had also flew through the night, rented a vehicle and were staying 15 min away from Roth.  We all agreed that our bodies finally started cooperating with the time adjustment after 4 nights.  Slept good the first night-obviously too tired to stay awake but despite busy schedules the next 3 days, our nights weren't full of sleeping.  No funny ideas either.  We did spent one night one by one hitting the kitchen up for some food around 1:30 am.  PB and J sandwiches with amazing European bread hit the spot.  I could write a whole blog about European bread.  There are no words to describe.  Also, no words to describe me trying to buy bread from a small mom and pop German bakery with my usual 100+ questions when I speak no German and the lady spoke no English.  I could hear them laughing as I walked down the street.

I digress.  Tips.  We were there obviously for the triathlon but didn't want to neglect exploring Nuremberg and the surrounding area.  As Nuremberg was the headquarters for the Nazis during the World Wars, it was attacked frequently and the destruction was evident after visiting the Imperial Castle.

We also went to the Trial Museum which took us on a self discovery tour of the crimes and trial of the German soldiers and political men responsible for the decisions to attack,imprison, kill and attempt to wipe out the Jewish people.  Very difficult to see but so worth it.

We walked the many pedestrian only cobblestone streets in the old town, crossing old bridges, buying local produce at a daily farmer's market, trying new foods (hello bratswurst) from small German restaurants with no English.  Many very old churches that take your breath away.

We also biked around the old city on a wonderful pedestrian, cyclist path.  Many people do ride commuter type bikes and bike lanes are pretty common in the city.

We were told about Germany being a beer lovers haven, which was true but didn't know that it was also a smoker's dream.  Cigarettes were very cheap and all outdoor patios had ashtrays. It seemed everyone and their dog smoked.  And smoked everywhere doing anything- walking, eating, working, biking.  We had the chance to sit outside but rarely did.  It was just too much.

Interestingly enough, I always felt safe while in Germany.  We walked, ran, biked and came in with our vehicle many times after dark and I never felt unsafe.  Unfortunately, only a few days after the triathlon, Nuremberg and other cities in Germany were subject to scary terrorist type troubles.

Being able to race at Challenge Roth was truly an opportunity of a lifetime.  With the lottery system and the cost to travel abroad, it isn't the easiest to just put on your calendar and do.  But man, the memories.  This is what life is about people.  Crazy, wonderful adventures in new places, meeting new people and having the time of your life doing it.
Sign up for Challenge Roth.  You won't ever regret it.
What do you think the chances were of us sharing the same last 2 numbers?  Truly meant to be!

More post on the way.

Thursday Randomness and a Upcoming Half

Morning everyone!
Starting you off with some photo randomnesss.

Garden harvest is just about done.  Dug up potatoes, carrots and beets.  Picked all the tomatoes before the frost a few days ago.  I have processed about 40 jars of tomato sauce to use in chili, pizza  and spagetti.

Grew a new variety of potatoes this year.  Can't remember the name of them but they are purple outside and inside.

For the first time ever, I have a whole new set of raspberry shoots that are producing big, delicious raspberrries in fall.  It is a treat to walk out there every evening and eat my fill.  Not enough really to pick and use but just enough to eat and enjoy.

Still squeezing in some dirt trail or gravel bike miles in.  Loving every minute of it :)

Almost finished our harvest.  This is starting the last canola field just before getting rained out.  Might get to finish it today with good weather.

Volleyball season is here and I am back holding down the bench cheering.

The hubby and I are travelling in the early morning hours on Saturday to Regina, Saskatchewan to run the Flatlander's Half Marathon.  Event starts at 9:30 and there is an hour in time change so it will work for us to go really early and have package pickup at the event then run.  We have never participated in this event before so are looking forward to something new.
I have not been following a structured training plan, still banking on the fact I may have some fitness still in the bank from the summer.   If harvest wasn't done, we wouldn't be going so I am thankful to be able to have a 1 day break from the farm and have a new adventure. Our off season is during harvest usually September and October.  We bike and run when we can which is almost still everyday but not consistently or at the level of intensity that would normally be in our training.

Info on the Flatlanders Road Race can be found here.

We will then spend the rest of the day on Sat and Sun with our son who is living there going to school.  Get a good grocery run in for him (hello Costco) and fix a few things in his apartment that aren't working properly, maybe a football game in the new stadium.  Looking forward to a great weekend.

Anyone else running this weekend? 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Tragedy and Heroes

I have been rethinking my definition on what constitutes a tragedy and a hero.

Tragedy as we would typically define it has affected us this summer as it may have also for many of you.  My brother in law who was only 56 passed away in August as well as my cousin's son who was 17.

My brother in law has had an addiction to alcohol for at least 10 years.  This addiction took him away from his wife and child and led to estrangement between both extended families.  I know without a doubt he loved his family but the disease pulled harder.  We always hoped he would hit the bottom and change his ways, but unfortunately, it didn't happen soon enough.
In just reading a post from swimbikemom, Meredith has applauded the courage of ABC News Anchor Elizabeth Vargas on sharing her story with addictions publically.  Read Meredith's post here and read Elizabeth's story here.   Both these ladies are not only fighting their demons but also want to build the courage in others to fight theirs.  Not only fire fighters are heroes people.

With a personal history of alcoholism in the family (dad and grandma) I wish they would have been that kind of hero.  As long as we keep the money coming in, as long as the family is properly taken care of, what's the problem with a drink or 2 to wind down.  Isn't this a typical suburbia take on NOT being an alcoholic.
I have very clear opinions about alcohol- and me.  We don't get along.  I saw too much and just don't ever want my kids in that situation.  It like a weasel and worms it's way into a person's life and gets hold and won't let go.  The number of lives that have been changed for the worse by alcohol is a tragedy.
Alcohol is everywhere though.  I've read a ton of race reports where people talk up the great beers at the end of the race.  Heck, on the course of Challenge Roth in Germany, racers were offered beer from the spectators.  What other people choose doesn't bother me one bit and there is no judgement.  I just think it is a bit sad that alcohol finds it's way into everything.  Guys play hockey and then have beer in the dressing room after.  Hard day at work and it's a glass of wine to relax.  Run an ultra and get rewarded with a beer that night.  It's alcohol and I that have a difference of opinion not the people who choose it.
But I do have to say with all the possibilities of heroes in the world, anyone who find the courage to walk away from something that weasels a grip hold on you- well you are my hero!

A loss of life in the physical sense is certainly a tragedy.  I really struggled after attending the funeral of my cousin's son.  A young life cut short by a terrible accident.  Tragedy.  But then how about my aunt and uncle who have had marital troubles for more years than I can remember.  Their lack of love, coldness toward each other, the pretense that everything was alright.  Tragedy also.  How about my other aunt and uncle that are struggling with his progression of early onset Alzheimer's.  How they have to move to another, smaller house.  How he can't go anywhere on his own without her, and especially how after only a couple years after retiring, their dreams and plans have been irreversibly altered. How hard it must be to deal with the disease, the disappointment but also grieve the loss of a relationship as you have always known it.  Tragedy.

Tragedy comes in many forms, stealing and plundering all it can.  Some can not be controlled but what about what can be influenced, changed or prevented?  Are we working hard on ourselves to be the best we can, to live life to the fullest.  Do we treat those we love as treasures that are irreplaceable and so very valuable?  Do we try to touch others with words of encouragement, hope or concern?  There are SOO many ways we can influence and change the course of what could be tragedy.

I used to think when I was a little girl that I wanted to do something that would change the world, something big.  I wanted to be a hero in some way.

But I have learned that the constant repetition of little things that are good, thoughtful and caring are what actually make the biggest changes in lives around us including our own. 

Race Reports and Ramblings

Confession: I love reading race reports.  All kinds of race reports not just the things I do and/or the events I am going to.  I love reading about other people's adventure, a breakdown of their plan, things they saw, what works and doesn't, things that change and how they adapt; ya know the good, bad and ugly.
Just so you know, if you choose to read one of my race reports, find a comfy spot- you might be there awhile.  My race reports are mostly all book length I think because I want to capture every moment.   Plus, I'm not a light packer nor able to give a coles notes version very easily.  A terrible flaw, I am working on it:)
There have been 2 race reports that have stuck with me the past while. The first one from Beth at shutupandrun is a report of the Transrockies Ultra held in Colorado about a month ago.  She did an awesome job retelling her adventure and I am totally inspired.  I have consulted with my calendar as well as my tent partner (the hubs) to check if we can adjust our schedules next Aug to get in on the fun.  I have never ran in an ultra event, though I have wanted to for soo long.  Heck I only ran my first marathon a month ago (it was preceeded by a long swim and a very long bike ride).  But I have a couple 70.3's in the works for 2017 as well as another Ironman.  It may be crazy but I think running an ultra 3-5 weeks after the Ironman would be good timing. Any thoughts any of you who have experience?
Anyhow, there were a lot of pictures included in the race report showcasing the amazing mountain.  Mountains are my jam- and YES I live in the prairies.  It's the farmer's fault.
My favourite part of Beth's race report was really the adventure she had and the joy she had doing the whole thing.  Oh sure, there are times that suck and are really hard for everyone but what gets you through those times is the joy of the journey.

Which leads me to the second race report which was very devoid of a love of the journey.  It was written by a gentleman who just completed an Ironman in which he had very specific numbers he wanted to achieve.  I am really just starting my Ironman journey and the idea of qualifying for Kona is a very distant dream so I get someone who is presently seeking that goal and will tie everything into those numbers.  And because the train derailed sometime during the run for this gentleman and he did not get his time he wanted, there is disappointment, anger and bitterness.  I get that.  That's now really the part of the report that sat wrong with me.  He explained in the beginning how he really doesn't love doing Ironman's but really loves competition and followed that up with anything less than a win would be a major disappointment.
It just seems so horrible to think that something that should be done for fun just isn't fun.  Life is too short to spend countless hours doing something that doesn't give you purpose and joy for life.  Gosh with all the possible choices for "free time" activities, certainly we all should be able to find something that makes us smile, takes us amazing places, makes us crawl a bit but then presents a reward that is more a number.

So not that you needed my 2 cents worth about all that but I sure hope you are all more content with the journey than the end result.  If there was no donut, there would be no place for the sprinkles; no cake then no where for the icing to sit.  If we are expecting to have yummy icing on top of our least favourite foods, maybe we should think again.

Have a great adventure today!