I am now an “Ironwoman”

Last weekend, I participated in the IRONMĀORI. It is still sinking in that I have completed a half Ironman: 2 km swim, 90 km bike ride and 21.1 km run.



About 2 weeks before the big day, doubts started to creep in: I can’t possibly do this! I am not fit enough! What did I get myself into?

I did not train at all 2 weeks out! Basically, I was sabotaging myself, setting myself up for failure by not training so I would have enough reasons not to participate.

Flashback to my first post: one of the reasons I started writing this blog was to hold myself accountable. It would also be a shame about all that money I’ve already spent (race entry, hotel booking, buying a road bike, tri-suit & -coaching). I would always have unfinished business with this whole “triathlon” thing if I would not attempt to at least start the race. But the most important reason why I ended up doing it was so I could eat all the glorious food without feeling guilty knowing that I would have burnt enough calories. #foodislife #traintoeatnoteattotrain

” What is the good part of this? It’s the question of the hour, and the next hour and the next. This question is a frame. Keep asking it and your day will form into a pretty picture inside out.”

This was my horoscope for the day and it did pull me through the 6hr 50 mins or so of constant moving. The day did form into a pretty picture…once the race was done and dusted with. #allthefood #tanlines #goaltickedoffmybucketlist #whereisallthefood


I was prepared for tears once I would have crossed the finish line. I was ahead of my own game and cried 10 km into the run, i.e. 10KM to go. I believe it is called “hitting the wall”?  I was just so over it.

The great thing about IRONMĀORI is the support by the people you don’t even know cheering for you along the race course. Oh, and the lollies that they hand out along the course. Lollies: the best performance enhancing drug on the market! #jetplanes

Looking back at my journey “from HIIT to endurance”: as I said before, it is still sinking in that I’ve done it. This is actually the first time I have followed through with something to the end. I like my comfort zone and usually give up when it gets tough and uncomfortable.

I so badly would like to smash out a good GRIT/HIIT session but apparently one needs to recover for 6-7 days after such a big day. I guess I need to listen to my body, gut feeling and coach. But boy, I can’t wait to get my strength back up, not feeling weak when teaching or doing a GRIT class. Plus I have all this free time now that needs to be filled again – preferably with GRIT #gritchicknz #addictedtogrit

Will I do a triathlon again? Most probably definitely not.

Do I have another goal? Not yet but any suggestions are welcome.

Thank you for following my journey. Till next time when I am conquering and blogging about another goal of mine.


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The many faces of Denise the triathlete

Last weekend, I competed in my first ever triathlon – 1/4 IRONMĀORI


At work, I am known for my RBF – resting bitch face. But once I turn into a triathlete, I do have many more faces I would like to introduce you to.

The day before

For those who follow me on Instagram (and if you don’t, head over to @gritchicknz) know that I have been a ‘sea swim virgin’ right up until the day before the race. The swim took place at Pandora Pond: calm and well tempered water (#melikeverymuch), the wet suit helped me float. I jumped in and got so excited that my breathing was shallow and fast. Not ideal for freestyle swimming 😦 Lucky me, a fellow first time triathlete, friend and great swim coach brought me back to basics and got me freestyle swimming like a pro. After I finished my first ever sea swim, I felt pumped & confident for race day.

The day of the quarter

Before the race


My face when lacking beauty sleep

Thanks to the photographer from IRONMĀORI for capturing this gem.

“I can’t believe I paid a lot of money to be here and put my body through 3-4 hours of vigorous exercise.”

“I should have paid more attention to where I dropped off my bike last night.”

“Shit is getting real.”

“Everybody looks so professional and I am over here like: Am I the only triathlete virgin?”

“6 month of training – let’s hope it will pay off.”


The swim

After yesterday’s session, I was pumped to show everybody my newly gained swim skills. I walked down to the stairs, entered the water with a massive smile and…forgot everything that I’ve learned yesterday.

During the race brief, we have been ‘warned’ about the various swims style one might encounter and see during the swim. My swim style was certainly not the conventional triathlon swim style, aka freestyle. It was more like a recreational, slow & steady, ‘do not want to put my head under water to ruin my hair’ breaststroke kind of style with some backstrokes chucked into the mix. Oh, and also some ‘I can touch the ground so I might as well walk’ swim aqua jogging style.

Quarter ironmaori 2.jpg

My face of relief



One down, two disciplines to go.

Good on me for not throwing in the towel at the 100m swim mark. But now, get me out of the water!







The bike


Happy chappy. Never mind the terrible color coordination: red/white bike, blue tri-suit, pink bike jersey, purple helmet

The bike ride was my strongest and – on that particular day – the most enjoyable part. As you can read from my facial expression: I had fun. I was enjoying the sunny day, admiring the beautiful scenery, secretly wished I could stop for a vino at one of the many vineyards we rode past.

Wish I had my camera on me – New Zealand is soo beautiful. Oh wait, it’s a race…so I picked up my speed. After all I wanted to make up some time from the swim.

Funny enough, this picture was taken going up a hill which was 9KM into the bike ride. Again, all triathletes have been ‘warned’ in the race brief that there would be a hill and it would not be a shame to dismount and push the bike uphill.

Now I understand why my coach included so many rolling hills rides and hill repeats in my tri program.



The run

Apparently, this is a mistake lots of triathletes do: they go too hard on the bike so that their legs are too tired and stiff for the run. I did the same rookie mistake and ended up walk/run for the last 4 KM and a strong sprint across the finish line.


After the race


The face I make after completing my first triathlon


My coach explained to me that a triathlon is not a sprint. I should compare it to an 8 course meals. True that I guess but my motto is: life is too short to wait for dessert. I happily skip the first 7 courses and go straight to dessert (#anonymouschocoholic).

On the one hand I am happy that I did the quarter and will learn from my rookie mistakes. However, just now I can not imagine doing double the distance. 3 week till I will hopefully be able to tick off that goal off my bucket list – finishing a half Iron man.


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My love/hate relationship with cycling

Out of the 3 disciplines, I expected the cycling to be my most favorite and easiest to train for. I ride my bike everywhere – to school, to uni, to uni, the supermarket. When travelling, I rather hire a bike to explore the area/city than walking around. I see more in less time, cover more ground #germanefficiency.

However, it turns out that this discipline is my least favorite. It takes the most amount of training time (just now, my training rides are 3hrs+), it is the most dangerous of all (cars on the road…still not being able to un-clip in time and therefore falling off the bike, bruised knees…) and then there is the weather…

Every time I have a long ride planned, the weather turns against me. I swear he/she/it knows when my long rides are scheduled for, makes a 180-degree turn just to piss me off. If you do not know what I mean by that, take a look at next week’s weather forecast:


Spring weather in Wellington


Acceptable bike riding weather during the week…not-acceptable, rainy weather on the weekends.




I’m singing cycling in the rain

Last month, I have registered for an 80KM ‘fun ride’ around Lake Wairarapa. In the week leading up to the race/fun ride, I anxiously checked the weather forecast every day, numerous times I might add. The forecast showed a beautiful sunny week, except one day of rain. Anybody wanna take a guess which out of the 7 days was supposed to be raining?

I was still traumatized from my last 80KM training ride a couple of weeks ago. Got up at 6am, on the road by 6.15am, wet & cold to the bones by 6.20am.

I could not stand another 4 hrs+ sitting on my oh so comfortable thorny saddle being wet and cold. So, I ended up doing my own ‘fun ride’ around the bays in Wellington on a beautiful sunny day #bliss, plus I got to work on my tan at the same time #germanefficiency.



My mood swings


I like to be in control (#controlfreak) however the weather is something that I can not control and this has let to anxiety, sleepless nights, anger and even snapping at my colleagues (ups, sorry to everybody who was at the receiving end). I am angry about something that I CAN NOT control. So absurd thinking about it and/or seeing it written down.

This brings back memories from Outward Bound. For those who don’t know: we ‘celebrated’ the completion of every phase/section with a jump into the Marlborough Sounds sea. During my 7 day course, we completed 7 sections, jumped into the sea 7 times over 7 days. I am not proud of my response to the daily sea swim sea dip: I cried! Yep, a grown up 30+ year old woman crying over a quick dip into the icy cold sea. Thinking back, I am embarrassed of my childish reaction. I was not in control. There was nothing I could have done about the daily sea swim. I could only learn how to make the best out of that specific moment.

My goal: taking these thoughts into my training over the next weeks – especially the cycling part: I CAN NOT control the weather but I CAN control what I make out of each session and the weather situation on that day.

T minus 8 weeks till half IronMaori Every session counts!

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Eat, Train, Sleep, Repeat – Training Weekend in Taupo

eat sleep train repeat

This pretty much sums up what my last month felt like and what the next 13 weeks will most probably be like (and more).

Last weekend, my Tri-Coach Emma, 2 other future Iron Maoris and myself have been away in Taupo for a training weekend.

Day 1

After 6 hour drive, we settled into our batch and headed to the pools for our first of many session this weekend.

I was tired, sore and hungry. My body – for some reason – does not cope very well at all with any form of exercise after 7pm.

AC Bath

Outdoor Pool AC Baths, Taupo


It was 8pm by the time we arrived at AC Baths. My initial thought, when I saw the outside pool: just like Outward Bound – jumping into the icy cold sea. Just get it done with, Denise …I thought to myself. I jumped in and it was well heated – what a pleasant surprise!







Very cool experience swimming underneath the stars and having an entire lane for ourselves.





Day 2

Morning Training Session: bike & run

30KM out and 30KM back for the bike ride. Emma has mentioned to calculate more time on the way back since it would be up-hill. Well, it can not be that hilly since Taupo is located in a relatively flat area of New Zealand.

The sun was shining, not many cars on the road, average speed 35km/h: whoop whoop! This is fun, I can do this.

My cadence monitor hit 30km, I turned around and instantly got hit by strong headwinds.



I really need to start listing and trusting my coach! I slowed down and by that I mean REALLY slowed down: max speed 10km/h. Yep, it will certainly take me a bit longer to ride back into Taupo town.

Now, when I talk about ‘hills’, it is not really a hill as such – more a constant, slight uphill. I found myself really pushing hard on some hills thinking I could give my legs a rest and let the bike role once I reach the top….unfortunately I did not take the strong headwinds into consideration. Not pedaling and letting my bike role would have resulted in me falling off the bike – certainly not an option. I felt like Nemo in the movie and kept saying to myself:  “Just keep pedaling, just keep pedaling”.

I made it back into town. No rest for the wicked though. Straight into my ‘light’ 10 minute run. It might have looked like I was running, it certainly did not feel like it.


Afternoon Training Session: swim

The only reason I was so keen to go for a swim in the evening was just to have a hot shower. We could not get the hot water to work at the batch we stayed at.

20 minutes recovery swim – hot shower and wine to finish off this massive training day.


Day 3

Long run – 75 minutes.

I struggled through last 25 minutes. To some extend – this is how my GRIT participants feel every single week, I thought.

“The mind gives up long before the body”

“These are the reps/steps that count”

“Don’t stop because you are tired, stop when you are finished”

“The pain you feel now, that’s change”

“Nothing grows in your comfort zone”

I like using motivational lines (see above) in my GRIT classes when it gets hard so I tried this “method” on myself – it pulled through!



To be honest: I was rather nervous going up to Taupo for the training weekend.

What if I slow down the others?

What if I am not the fittest?

What if everybody has to wait for me to finish a training session?

What if I am not the best and others are better or faster than me?

But how about: This is MY training, MY fitness journey, I will be working to MY abilities and MY fitness levels.

I am glad I went. I enjoyed getting out of Wellington (road tripping in NZ is so much fun). But more importantly it was great to see how far I have come with my training and what I need to work on.

Next up: more training, of course, and a 80KM fun (?!) ride in the Wairarapa first weekend in October.

Seriously: it is called a ‘fun ride’! Not sure about the ‘fun’ part as yet. Will it be the shave, sore ass, sore legs? I’ll be sure to let you into that ‘secret’ next time I up-date my blog.

Stay tuned, till next time







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and so it continues….

…my training you might think, after returning from my holidays. Ah… not quite!

To my surprise, I managed 6 workouts in the 4.5 weeks I was away: 2x GRITs, 2x 30 mins runs and 2 weights workouts with my older brother.

brother for sale

My older brother and me, we do not have had a particular great relationship. To my surprise, we did not kill or verbally abused each other like we normally do. I was able to show off my gainz and I think he was impressed without showing it, of course. He is German and we do not show any kind of emotions.  #winning #brothersisterbonding



The first week back at work and back into training was as if I have not been away. Of course, I could feel that my strength and fitness levels have decreased.

Week 2 of being back: I got lost – not in terms of training because I do have a very precise program to follow. I got lost (and still am to a certain degree) in regards to work and life in general. And this translated into my training. You might remember: I am an ‘all or nothing girl’. So I went nothing on training and all out on the glorious food ☹

My coach reassured me that it is still early days and I should not worry too much, I can still make it. Puh, that’s good to hear and eased my guilty conscience. At the same time however, I question myself if it is too early to hit a wall in my training? I don’t know, I ‘just’ need to trust my coach and the program – easier said than done.


I am back in the pool swimming – my favorite discipline so far.

I am back on the roads & hills running.

I am back in the saddle riding outside inside on a spin bike.


My coach has suggested to do some smaller races (10km run, half marathon) between now and D-Day. She has also planned a training weekend away in Taupo. But mostly I am very excited that a friend of mine secured us a spot in the sold-out Quarter Iron Maori early November!

Just under 3 month out from 1/4 IRONMĀORI!

Just under 4 month out from 1/2 IRONMĀORI!




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And… I am out

No, don’t worry. I have not (and will not) pull out of the race. I am about to head on a wee long(ish) holiday to Europe (insert jealous faces of my blog readers here).

For those who know me: I do not do things half way or the easy way. So why not book a four week holiday right in the middle of my triathlon training?

Yes, there are swimming pools in Europe.

Yes, Europe has very nice tracks to run on/along.

Yes, Europe has bicycles.


Am I going to eat & drink myself through the European cuisine – YES

Am I going to prioritize exploring Europe and seeing family/friends over training – YES

Am I going to pack my trainers – YES

Am I going to pack my swim suit – YES

Am I going to pack my bike – NO

I am determined – determined to keep up with my training so I do not have to start from zero when I am back in July. So stay tuned and follow me on instagram or facebook and try not to get too jealous 😉


So, how is your training going, you might ask?

I finally got myself a tri-/road-bike!!!


Pretty happy with my second-hand purchase


I have also taken my new bike for a few, or rather say two, or to be more precise 1.5 rides: one attempted and one longer one (in-terms-of-Denise-long I might need to add).


Bike ride attempt number 1:

I was very excited to take my new bike for a spin. However, the joy did not last long. The planned 90-120 minute ride was cut short to 30 minutes.

There are rumors that all first time clip-in pedal-user will experience one or more falls in their cycle career. Confident as I am on the bike and with very good excellent control over the bike I told myself: NOPE, not me.


Of course…I fell off. Why would I be an exception to the rule? Least to say that I was disappointed in myself and lost confidence.



A not so busy intersection somewhere in Wellington CBD on a Sunday afternoon: first  time road bike user Denise was happily clipped into her pedals, mastering the balancing act to stay on bike rather well. Waiting for a bigger gap between cars so she could ride on. She concentrated too hard to find the perfect gap and slowed down, slowed down, slowed down.. ‘nek minute’ she found herself lying on the pavement – with her bike shoes STILL clipped in.



That embarrassment was not enough (told you I do not do things half way). I could not get my shoes un-clipped so ended up taking off my shoes that were still attached to the pedals. This picture of me: standing on the pavement in my odd socks, trying to un-clip my shoes with bare hands must have been rather amusing for the public eye.

However, the bike ride was not over yet. It started to rain and, of course, it was windy. I live in Wellington! Of course, I did not have tale wind. #needtocheckdirectionofwind

Cold, wet, bruised, no confidence left and fed up, I arrived back home in one piece.

Rookie Mistake Number 1: not learning before heading out on the bike how to clip and un-clip like a pro!




Bike ride attempt number 2:

My training program had another 90-120 bike ride scheduled for the Sunday after.

All week I kept checking the weather forecast. At the beginning of the week, rain all day for Sunday. oh no yeah! During the course of the week, the forecast changed to scarred showers with afternoon sun. yeah oh no!

Over these 7 days, I psyched myself up for that very ride. I got very creative and came up with all sorts of excuses not to head out for the bike ride:

  • Maybe I could just head into the gym and use a spin bike, keep my legs ticking over
  • I am tired and rest days are very beneficial for my health
  • I could just skip it but will not mention this to my coach
  • I could just tell my coach that as soon as I started the ride it started to rain. Due to safety reason had to return back to safety, i.e. home

There is a rule in gymnastics: once you fall off, get straight back up and do it again. Otherwise you will never lose the fear.

Something that my Yoga teacher said the morning before that dreaded second bike ride just stuck with me: as adults we over complicate things and overthink everything.

All thoughts, worries and excuses aside, I went out! This is one of the few times I was  a little proud of myself.

I lasted 60 minutes – my vagina gave up long before my legs or fitness did….

Rookie Mistake number 2: not wearing bike pants

I guess I will have to invest into bike shorts. Not only will I be able to endure longer bike ride but I am also hoping for a bigger butt that will make the male population turn around and whistle after me.

"They're padded shorts: yes, your butt looks big."

“They’re padded shorts. Yes, your butt looks big.”



4 days and counting until I get to:

…sunbathe and work on my teint

…explore Scandinavia and Vienna

…see my best friend in Paris

…see my 1 year old nephew for the first time in real life and not through skype

…hug my mum after her terrible bike accident last year (finally)

…spend some quality father-daughter time

…fight/argue with my older brother  – yay!

…have a ‘schnaps’ or two with my grandma at 10am


Auf Wiedersehen

Bis bald



See you in July

















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Why New Zealand, Why?

Happy 6 year Anniversary to me!!!

On 3rd May 2010, a Lufthansa flight departed Düsseldorf International Airport, final destination New Zealand – with a few (4 in total) stopovers, of course. On board was one of many Germans heading for their one year (365 days) Working-Holiday-Visa adventure. Fast forward 2190 days later and this very German gal has now exceeded her stay.


But why? below I have listed just some reasons why I have fallen in love with this country and filled out literally hundreds of immigration forms to be able to permanently call this beautiful part of the world my new home.

And yes, I am aware that today’s blog has nothing to do with my training.


New Zealand might seem quirky to foreigner – but you’ll grow to love it. 



After I spent a year working & travelling around Australia, I thought the Aussies are friendly –  hence the reason why I wanted to head back and life there. Little did I know that there is a country just 3 hrs flight away across “the ditch” from Australia that is able to top all this.

New Zealanders are the most laid back, welcoming and friendly nation ever. Everyone is just so friendly and when you move so far away it’s so nice to feel so accepted into the Kiwi way of life.



Oh man.  The coffee.  It is just so good. The Kiwis have perfected the art of coffee making.

Kiwis are just as obsessed with coffee.  They invented the flat white, a type of espresso coffee in New Zealand. A new favourite.

I’ve learned a lot of new coffee vocabulary. For example, when I get a nonfat or skinny latte, here they call it a trim latte. Makes me feel so classy.


Once you’ve had Kiwi coffee, you don’t look back. 



And I mean everywhere.  From the supermarket to restaurants and bars. During the summer months, shoes are just simply not a requirement.


There’s nothing wrong with going to the supermarket barefoot.







New Zealand has no harmful animals like poisonous snakes, scorpions or venomous insects, no lethal spiders.



Yep that’s right. New Zealand doesn’t have a tipping culture. Leaving money behind on a table is seen as accident as opposed to a reward. Apologise to all waiter/waitresses for not topping when travelling overseas: not because I am a ‘tight-with-money-typical-German-tourist’, I am simply not used to it anymore and forgot.



Now this may or may not be the reason why people are barefoot, but when you have to pay $40 per 1kg of limes I can understand why footwear may take a back seat. Not that I’ve ever bought 1 kg of limes, but I’m just saying if I wanted to then they are bloody expensive.

But it’s not just limes, $3 for one pepper, $10 for some cheddar cheese! Food is expensive in New Zealand and I think we can all agree #thankgodforpaknsave#.

And it doesn’t stop at groceries. Beauty products like body lotion, face creams, body wash, shampoo/conditioner etc. are costly  –  to put it nicely. However, thinking about it, my favourite Nivea products are ‘Made in Germany’ and not ‘Made in China’ like the majority of products here. Lucky-me, my mum cares about my beauty more than I do and sends care packages on a regular basis.  #thanksmumloveyoulongtime#.



Unless paywaveyou are getting on a bus, everything is paid for with your card. I couldn’t even tell you what New Zealand notes looked like as I hardly ever see any. Even if you are buying a packet of chewing gum, you gotta ‘pay wave’ that purchase.




New Zealand experiences about 15,000 earthquakes per year but thankfully most of these are so deep they cannot be felt. However, about 150-200 earthquakes are felt up and down the country each year, some much more severe than others.

In fact, they are so prevalent, many Kiwis I’ve met have an earthquake app on their phone that let’s them know about them. Can I just stick with Candy Crush?

Most buildings are now designed to rock with the earth to absorb the impact so they physically sway from side to side during an earthquake. Due to Wellington being right on a fault line, this factor is just a normal way of life here. #livingontheedge#

Shake out


While other countries have fire drills (we do too), New Zealand also does earthquake drills – even on a NATIONAL scale!


I know there are more and more bigger earthquakes happening in New Zealand, and let me just preface this by saying I am SO not ready for a big one. During my time in New Zealand I experienced four and they are scary.



Although of course, English is the national language there are some words which haven’t translated over.

For example, courgettes are zucchinis, cling film is glad wrap, a cool box is known as a chilli bin, a dairy is a shop, swimming shorts are togs, flip flops are jandals and sweets are lollies. There really is a whole new vocabulary to learn. Oh and “piss” is alcohol.



Rugby is a way for Kiwis to come together, feel national pride and they are bloody good at it. It’s a fundamental part of the country’s national identity.



And not just because of the unscheduled photographic stops. New Zealand roads can be windy, narrow and cover hilly terrain. There are also heaps of one-way bridges.

This would be the one time where I say: I miss Germany. Going 160km/h on the Autobahn is just simply not possible. Seeing from the bright side: less speeding tickets 🙂



New Zealand has a very open working holiday scheme which means many people from around the world can come and easily get a visa to work and travel around the country. Also New Zealand is a popular travel destination. Pretty much everyone I’ve met has New Zealand on their travel bucket list.



…and so are gym membership prices #justysaying#

Completely random but for those curious-minded folks, apartments are listed with rent prices per week not per month. It’s a confusing but interesting phenomenon which somehow makes the extremely high cost of living more palatable.

And speaking of apartments, they are called flats and the deposit is called a bond. Speaking English is hard.



Some places in New Zealand have almost unpronounceable names for newbies in the country, although once you learn them they are so satisfying to say. Take the town of “Paraparaumu” – I used to want to go where just purely so I could say the word in conversation. There is also “whakapapa” pronounced “fukapapa” and “Tawharanui” pronounced “Taf-ra-nui”. Good luck asking for directions to any of these towns! names



Whetherwildlife it’s seals, penguins, dolphins or whales, New Zealand’s local wildlife always made me feel like I was on a David Attenborough show than a five-minute walk from my apartment.








And this is why I choose Wellington over the ‘big smoke’ (aka Auckland).



Proudly named the 2011 Lonely Planet “Coolest little capital in the world,” the buzz around town actually lives up to expectations. In short, Wellington rocks, and I am so so SO happy I decided to make it my home.




Wellington is nicknamed “Windy Welly” and let me just say, a more accurate epithet never existed.Windy WLG

I’ve been to some windy places over the years, but nothing could have prepared me for Wellington. Most days it’s just average level of winds that will mess up your hair and might blow your skirt up. However,  I’ve witnessed some wind storms that nearly blew me off my bike.








In Wellington, not only does the wind direction matter but you can actually tell which direction it is coming from. Welcome to what is known as a “Southerly”, and how do you know it’s a Southern wind? Because it is fricken freezing. Winds from the South come straight from the Antarctic so be sure to wrap up!

direction of win

Just a normal windy day in Wellington. 


And if you need more convincing, read here and here: New Zealand won best country in the world for 4th year in a row…


I drink to that and my (nearly-upon-me) 6 year Anniversary – Cheers!!


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