Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Marathon: The Fan's Perspective

Hello marathon fans. Now that you've heard Fred's side of things, I thought you might enjoy a glimpse into my world on race day. First, a little background:

Fred ran his first race in Minneapolis 3 years ago. With the help of my hometown knowledge of side streets, my dad's pickup truck, and a sharpie marker, I decorated a 6 foot tall GIANT FINGER POINTING THE WAY ("Go Fred!"), stuck a stick into it, and cheered him on from an overpass. Somewhere I have a picture of this. What, you ask, is a GIANT FINGER POINTING THE WAY? When Fred and I lived in the Twin Cities we had a loft apartment with 15 foot high ceilings. We had this old stage prop, given to us by friends - a hand, with the index finger extended. For 5 years it hung from our ceiling. When we moved, I couldn't bear to let it go. So we stored it (thanks mom) in my parents' attic for the next 5 years until its comeback, cheering Fred on to his 3:04 debut marathon finish.

Last fall Fred ran the famous NYC marathon for the first time. Boy was I excited for this one. On race day I showed up to cheer Fred and his buddy Knox on. I came prepared with my crew of friends, friends' kids, musical instruments, posters, coffees, cell phones, handbags, sunglasses....typical NYC. Thanks to Knox's son, I was ready to go. "I'm so very proud of you, Daddy," Raul had started saying to his dad recently.... for any reason whatsoever. Like when Knox found a good parking spot, or made spaghetti. Fred set a new personal record of 2:48.

Ok, so I know now you're wondering: "But what about Boston?" While I was away dancing in 2006 and in Germany in 2007, Fred ran two of his most impressive races without me, and both times set new personal records: Boston 2006, 2:54, Boston 2007, 2:46.

Which brings us to Frankfurt 2007. We headed down on the 6am train with about 35 runners and running fans from Kassel. If you're having a hard time picturing this, imagine a train car, and then imagine it full of people in green and white ripstop nylon jackets speaking German. It was great. The older ladies passed out candies, the manager of the team gave me a run-down of his personal marathon history, about half of which I could decipher, and I got into a very detailed discussion about horses with a 9 year old who schooled me in German.

It was my first look behind the scense at the runners getting ready. I'm not going to go into detail about this. I'll just say that modesty has a completely different meaning. And I thought dancers were shameless.

I got to see some good views of the city.

And some things unique to a German marathon:

Crack for sale

The balloon arch over the course deflating, followed by lots of spectator participation to keep the balloon from hitting the runners

From the Department of Strange Choices: The last band before the finish playing Eric Clapton's song that goes "Would you know my name, if I saw you in heaven?'

And of course, Fred running. I don't have any pictures of that because I was too busy cheering. I got to the Opera Platz early to get a good view of Fred passing at 36K. When I saw Fred coming, I started screaming his name. Not surprisingly, he ran right toward me. Surprisingly, he stopped. "I'm done," he said. What, are you injured? I asked. My calves, he said....just 7 K more, he said.... Are you sure, I asked? I think I can make it, he said. You can make it, I answered. He handed me his sunglasses, and ran away. The crowd started applauding us. Wow, I thought, that was corny.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Frankfurt Marathon wrap...

So what happened in Frankfurt?

I went out fast... VERY fast... but comfortable.

My coach (Winfried Aufenanger, who for 20 years trained the German Olympic team) caught up to me on a bicycle at 5k and told me the weather was perfect and that I should take my chance at running a 2:35 marathon. I was already planning on a 2:39, and had gone through 5k too fast (18:15), so rather than pull in the reins, I kept it open. I figured, why not?

Felt great through 15k, great through 20k, passed the halfway point (21.1k) faster than I have ever raced a half-marathon (whoa, I'm really flying), started to feel the burn a little bit at 25k... and tightened up at 30k. Drat.

I kept at it, but by 36k when I saw Lily again (I saw her @13k, looking good - her, not me), I was ready to pack it in because my calves were trying to turn themselves into diamonds. I stopped for a quick hug and stretch and she told me to keep going. What can I say? I listen to my girl.

By this point I was running to finish, trying to stay positive, but I was laboring (see 40k video). Not a Full-Antonioni Blowup, but not exactly an even split, either. Came home in 2:42:01. Winfried was at the finish talking with another runner. He gave me a big hug, congratulated me, and said, "Say, do you know Dieter Baumann?" Dieter won the gold medal in the 5000m at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, silver in Seoul in 1988, (and was banned from competition in 1999 after testing positive for steroids... he claimed someone spiked his toothpaste).

So, myothercountry fans, stay tuned for Schmalz/Baumann post-race photos.

A good day, all things considered. I took a shot at a huge day and had a pretty big (albeit painful) one instead. Personal records in the marathon (by 4 minutes, 19 seconds) and the half marathon (by 40 seconds). Somehow, what felt like a crummy second half was the fastest second half of the five marathons I've run. Something to build on for the winter.

Video Alert: if you go to the marathon site and put my name in the search, if you click on the little camera icon next to my name, you will be directed to videos of the race... FYI, I'm wearing blue singlet and shorts and, in all but the last two videos, sunglasses. Paste this:


then put "SCHMALZ" in the "name" box and hit SUCHEN...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Lace 'em up... Race Day

Frankfurt Marathon tomorrow.

SO focussed right now...

Chocolate Milk: Runners' Superstition or Performance-Enhancing Drug?

Train leaves Kassel 6:15 a.m. Arrives Frankfurt 8:30. Race is at 10:00. Kindly, we set the clocks back an hour tonight so there is not so much sleep lost.

Course is flat and fast. Lots of turns at the beginning and the end, with two long straightaways - 10k west along the south bank of the Main river and 10K back east along the north bank. Forecast is perfect: cool (45-50 F) and calm, with some sun possible.

Lily's coming along, which is a great treat. I will see her at 13K, 36K and 41K.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Party #3: Terlongu / Wu

Monday was Mats's 26th birthday. It was also the 2nd day after the premiere. It was also the first day it got cold - like wintery cold - in Kassel. So the vibes were chill and homey, with SzuWei feeding us tons of Taiwanese food and Mats showing us movies on his sweet flat-screen TV. In our dazed state, noone took pictures, so you'll have to fill in the gaps with your imagination. A few key words to get you started:
Spicy Sauce
Mary Kate and Ashley

Big ups to our generous hosts, Szu Wei and Mats, aka the Frog Prince and the Little Fishie.

die Hefte

This summer, while Lily was grinding away here in Kassel, I was packing up the ranch in Brooklyn. In the process, I came across a bunch of surplus paper from past issues of Swerve. I knew with the move, I would be heading into a kind of sabbatical period, a window where I could really sink into a writing project. The materials at hand told me what to make:

31 books

7"x 7"

24 pages

I built them at the kitchen table the first week of June.

The same week, I was walking by Cooper Union after work and I ran into my friend John E.

We decided to dip into a little basement bar around the corner for a pint of Guinness. I told him about the books, and that I wanted to do something with them to get away from just sequentially filling up notebooks, journaling. He suggested that I assign each book a theme or focus. Then I could pull out a book at any time and write on topic, or add new work when my day gave me something that fit. GREAT IDEA.

We broke it up and I walked over to the F Train at 2nd Ave. While I waited for the train, the delightful Todd C. walked down the steps.

I told him about the books, and our conversation continued on the train back into Brooklyn. He suggested that I send the books out to different people and have them fill in the books and send them back to me. GREAT IDEA, but problematic, because then I wouldn't have anything to write in, as the books would be finished.

BUT, the kernel of his idea was perfect. I sent 31 spare cover sheets (18 3/4"x 7 1/8" - these were the slightly-too-small scrap ends of the last Swerve cover's full sheets) to 31 people, each with a topic, an overseas return envelope addressed to me in Germany, and no further instructions other than to do something with the paper and send it to me.

And the letters have been trickling back to me... Thirteen so far. Others promised and sworn to be in process. The range of responses has been amazing and inspiring:

from poems:

to paintings and drawings:

to letters:

to collage:

to a page of stuttering:

to a folded-paper cutout:

to typewriter art:

With the help of these words and images, I've started about 20 of the books, and finished one so far (Heft #25 "Reunification" for those following along at home). More on these books as the poems make their way out of them.

So thanks everyone who sent their words and images and thoughts. The rest of you are on notice!

* das Heft = notebook (plural: die Hefte)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Irgentetwas Geht

When I mentioned that dancing in the musical was a part of my job here in Kassel, my friend, the playwright Stacey Engels put it best: "I love how we end up doing things in life we never expected to be doing."

Some Highlights:

Dancing with Sharks

Dancing with Sailors

Dancing in a Swimming Pool

Dressing Like a Schoolgirl

Dressing like a nun

Dressing Like a Gypsy

Dressing in Latex

Makeup, Wigs, Breast Enhancement, and People to Help You with It

Good Company