Ironman Training Log – The Power of Tests

When I first talked to my coach Michael Krell, he told me that I would have to do tests in all three disciplines: A 400m swimtest, 7x 1km running starting from a low heart rate to a high heartrate and, eventually, a bike test.

The first set of swimming and running tests was pretty sobering. Not only because I realized I cannot even run 1km as fast as German legendary triathlete Jan Frodeno’s average km during an Ironman, but also because these tests brought back some memories of the pain one has to go through.

That being said, this past week was test week – after another 7km on the track, another 400m in the pool I wanted to share two take-aways…


I. Have Faith in Your Training

I have put my trust into Michael and done my best to execute the weekly training plans he is writing for me (which is a strenuous adjustment to daily life: less spontaneity, better food planing because you are either starving or eating bullshit food, sleep discipline and,  by far the hardest for me, you’d better get used to a one-drink-rule because your tolerance is becoming pretty ridiculous compared to – how shall I put it – journalist & grad school times). For a control freak like me, with coaching experience in rowing, that leap of faith presented a challenge. Some days seemed so easy, some days I either felt like vomiting, did vomit or really tortured myself into training in the first place.  Besides that, I was always hungry, but tried to keep myself from eating more.

Second set of test results are in. I have increased my 400m swim-time by 45Seconds, about 10seconds per 100m. Since September, I have for the first time in my life ran a 10k race and a Half Marathon and I have been able to improve my fastest km time by 30seconds. In the Tufts Pool in Boston there was a massive poster reading “Have Faith in Your Training”. I never really understood what that meant, but now I do.


II. It does not get easier, you just get faster

As thrilled and motivated as I am about my improvements, the tests as well as the longer runs every weekend have shown me that feeling better is not part of the deal. Sure thing, I have had some gorgeous forest runs that come with a therapeutic side effect, but the body also goes through phases of protest that the mind has to counter. During my run test I felt like my legs would just give in, my lungs were exploding and I had already mentally prepared myself for worse test results. Funny enough, I found cyclist’s Greg Le Mond”s quote “It does not get easier, you just get faster” very fitting.

Ironman 70.3 Mallorca is three months away and I’ll keep you updated on the journey.

Let me be honest: I love my job, but I am struggling! 


I guess they call this culture shock

It has not been four weeks since I landed in Frankfurt. Usually there is a period of enthusiasm, then the most threaded valley of tears, and then you cope. While my period of enthusiasm for my new role at Zeiss, content planning and analysis for digital corporate communications (first results will be visible very soon) is unbroken, my enthusiasm for this country has stopped with the bike shop owner in Aalen telling me that he isn`t sure whether road biking really is for woman.

Before I begin my vent: A disclaimer (My complaints are the results of high expectations)

Before I will be sharing many of my observations over the next couple of days, let me disclaim this: I was born & raised in Germany. This means that I am expecting to feel home in my home country. When in the US, or in Spain, in India, in Dubai things seemed weird, people awkward, chauvinistic, politics insane, I vented, but really it did not affect me emotionally, because – at least that’s what I thought – the motherland is sane and well. And while this country is stunningly beautiful, which I haven’t really appreciated as much beforehand, there are many things I am observing that make me feel very much not at home, not belonging. And that sucks for me right now. But, I guess, at least all of you will learn a lot about Germany through my lens.

Let’s jump right in: There is no separation of church & state in this country and all of a sudden this really bothers me! 

I just saw on my first paycheck that I am paying taxes to the church. YES, I was christened and confirmed in the protestant church and that means that I am paying eight (8!!!) percent of my income tax to the church. A church that still refuses same rights for all marriages. You can opt out of the church. However, opting out of church costs a fee and can only be done in person at municipal community where you are registered. Obviously, as we know – most likely a global phenomenon – municipal communities are open pretty much three hours a day, their employees – in Germany lifetime employees of the state – are not the most enthusiastic workers and the three hours collide with every normal person’s working hours.

If you are opting out of the church there are severe consequences

Maybe not severe as in the clergy will hunt you through the streets and declare you evil, but modern world severe as in: You will not be able to get married in a house of god nor will you be able to have your child christened. Yes, now it is time for me to face these questions: How important are these things to me after all? I do not know yet.

Sunday – Funday

Since I already touched upon the churchy subject, let me get my thoughts about sundays out of my system. You cannot do anything on sundays! No supermarket, no shop, no mall, no nothing. Granted, the Southern German region is different than Berlin. However, most shops here close their doors on saturdays around 2pm. That is has become a little bit of an issue for me, since I am so used to starting my weekend with a longer bike ride saturday mornings. Obviously, the sunday is a German tradition.  Often have I told Pouya how much I miss sunday afternoon “Kaffeetrinken” / coffee and cake with the family. For a moderately busy person the leisure sundays seem quite constraining.

Speaking of fundays: The beer nation with no beer variety

Countless times have Americans told me how much they dig German beer. While it certainly is an acquired taste I really have fallen for strong, hoppy IPAs (Sip of Sunshine, my American Northeastern friends) or really tart Sour beers. While Germany has uphold the rule of the Reinheitsgebot (beer purity law: beer is only beer if it is brewed in a certain way with certain ingredients) that limits the choices you have. Hefeweizen, Lager, unfiltered. That is it. Sure, there are a thousand Hefeweizens, Lagers and unfiltereds. Still, though, that’s pretty much it. Funny how this nation remains on the global beer throne; reputation is king, I guess.

Complaints are not all I have to share with you

My self help “The How of Happiness” book which I can truly recommend to anyone states that the determinants of happiness are fairly easy: 40% is genetic predisposition (yap, you’re either born a clown or a grumpy cat), 50% is your inner attitude and 10% is outer circumstance. The 10% basically suggests that you will not be happier with 10lbs less, living in a mansion or retired, at least not permanently. The 50% are the interesting part. And that is what I want to finish with.

I am here

I am living with my colleague Petra (the apartment search will be subject of another post, too good to spoil it…), I was welcomed back with a bouquet of flowers, lots of hugs and kisses at work and at home, I have not once had a tummy ache since I have arrived (thank you, EU), and I have most likely produced 10times less trash on an average day because Germans prefer real glasses, silverware and ceramic instead of plastic or paper everything. I refuse to state that I have returned, that I am settling, that I am back. I am here! Working on a job opportunity I have never dreamed of, accompanied by a partner who will most likely develop a Swabian German accent (oh boy!) once he starts learning German in August, six weeks of paid vacation, a company that values work-life-balance and family time and lots of stories to tell.


My first soy cafe latte in Germany. Würzburg has a vibrant hipster scene. From what I have heard an oatmilk chai is a favorite here…


And for lunch: Milkrice with cinnamon and sugar 😉


The view from Würzburg’s Marienbridge: a good destination for sunday fundays where a glass of wine costs 3dollars.


Würzburg’s streets


My flowers and new desk (and, more Swag)





Enough Courage to Come Home

The day I quit my job I called ata cycle in concord and made an appointment for a bike fit: your body gets measured, the data then gets fed into an adjustable bike and while you’re biking the computer spits out recommendations like saddle height. A couple of days later I picked up a white framed, pink handle barred carbon dream. And I named it Tharros, which is the ancient Greek word for courage.

After a couple of hundred miles in New England, Dubai, Germany and Canada (not all of them on Tharros), I have decided to do my first triathlon this summer. And I will do this one at home. After now four years in Boston I am literally taking my courage and moving to Germany. Almost four years ago I wrote a post titled “Danke, Carl Zeiss”. Since then I have been in touch with colleagues, working as a student during grad school, following company news, stayed in touch with many of my former colleagues. And, you’re probably guessing it already, the story continues: I will be joining the Corporate Zeiss Communications team at the beginning of June, ending my funemployment sooner than I would have thought.

While I will leave a great network of friends in Boston, I am more than excited to write that I will be accompanied by the man who has become my partner, wonderful friend, reliable accomplice and travel mate. Pouya will move to Germany a little later this summer, ready for lots of Hefeweizen, sausage, climbing the Southern German mountains on his bike, learning German (little does he know that he will most likely end up speaking with a heavy Swabian accent) and probably also becoming familiar with German neurotics.

I am leaving you, as always, with some funemployment impressions:


What a month: A perfect New England late summer

Fall has definitely arrived in Boston.Rain, cold winds, hot cocoa time. For me the start of fall also comes with a desire for reflection. I was feeling pretty tired and worn out yesterday and as I was scrolling through my September/early October pictures it is no wonder I am a little exhausted. Late summer is my favorite time of the year, and these last weeks have been as eventful as can be with my parents visiting from Germany and many other splendid moments.

Still learning a lot about myself. Everyday. And instead of complaining, here is my reflection shared with you in pictures.


In early September my Mom was here for my birthday and we did a roadtrip to Maine. This is the picturesque Nubble Lighthouse. Looks more romantic than it is.



My mom had not been to the US for a while and although she loved Maine the trip made her realize how much more she appreciates Germany now 😉


One of my all-time favorite spots: The USS Constitution


During one of those “why not”-moments I signed up for the Tufts century ride. The University invites all alumni & students to ride at the beginning of each academic year. It was a beautiful experience…


…with lots of unhealthy food afterwards 😉


A week after the bike ride I walked the Jimmy Fund marathon & raised money for cancer research. Not only do cancer survivors walk with you, the Jimmy Fund Walk brought out amazing people…


…like these two: If you take a closer look at his shirt, it says “20 years and still slicing”. They stood at the famous Heartbreak Hill and provided everyone with sliced oranges, having a blast.


September was also a long good-bye/see you later for me and Maria Rita. I have grown so used to having many close friends in Boston, but given our hunger for adventure eventually we’ll all move on. Maria Rita is the first to leave to spend four months in South East Asia. I am hoping to meet her in India early next year. This was her good-bye dinner party.


September also brought a lot of magical and romantic moments. This is the sunrise over Walden Pond. Waking up to go swim in a cold-ish lake before 6AM, yup: It was one of the best dates I have ever had.


Just like this one: I was taken to one of Boston’s “Hidden concerts”. Although you have to get the ticket months in advance, you only learn about the artist & the location 24hours beforehand. 


Speaking of magical moments: I was introduced to Persian breakfast: The triangle shaped pieces on the plate are eggs with lots of herbs and this is called kookoo sabzi. If you like omelette, turmeric and herbs, you will love this dish. 


Last week, my Dad was here and we took a roadtrip to New Hampshire to enjoy fall foliage.


This is one of the selfies at the beginning of our hike at Mount Lafayette in the Franconia Notch


This is the view into the Franconia Ridge. 


The Welch-Dickey trail gifts you this beautiful view on a clear day.

Vier Tage “raus”


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Für Lesefaule: Mit dem Fahrrad vier Tage durch Deutschland war für mich entspannender als ein Strandurlaub. Für die nächste Tour halte ich gute sowie schlechte Ideen fest… Gute Ideen: Strecke und Etappenziele vorher festlegen (insbesondere am Tag 3 habe ich … Continue reading