Thursday, March 31, 2005

Well so much for the Day of Rest.

I lasted till about 11:00 a.m., mostly sitting working on my genealogy homepage. Then I got tired of staring at the monitor, tired of sitting - so saddled up my running shoes and went for a run. I started out really slow, about 7 minutes for the first kilometer (0.6 miles), then eventually increasing to just over 6 minutes per kilometer. A gentle rain was falling, but it was fairly warm. My legs were kind of stiff for the first 10-15 minutes, but they loosened up nicely, so I kept going. I ran my 14K (8.6 mile) trail, almost drowning in a couple patches of mud (Jon can I borrow your new trail shoes:), but otherwise it was a nice run. My legs feel good, still not perfect, but I think the run helped stretch them out.

I was thinking a little about the tentative marathon in May as I ran. If I can make at least two long runs over 30K (19-21 miles) before the first of May I should be able to finish the marathon on May 21st. The goal of my first marathon is to finish, whether it takes four hours or six is really not important. If I run my normal training pace (and don't stop) I could complete the run in 4 1/2-5 hours. The biggest risk is that I get out there and get sucked into a faster tempo and hit the wall.

So I am strongly thinking about running all my runs over the next couple months at a recovery pace, rather than my normal training pace. This should also help prevent any pre-race injuries, which at my age, is a major consideration. On the other side I was making good headway in increasing my speed, it breaks my heart to slow down again. I never was a patient sort of dude. Happy running!

A Day of Rest

Rest, rest and more rest, that is the story for the day. I was going to work in the garden today (I'm on vacation this week), but it's raining, so that's out. So now I have a bit of forced relaxation - gee maybe God is trying to tell me to take a break:-O

Anyway I did some cross-training this morning: dishes, vacuuming, scrubbed the bathtub, etc. My better half will be so pleased! The rest of the day I plan on catching up on my genealogy notes and webpage, one of my rainy day hobbies. My legs feel much better, yesterday they were tired. I know the feeling from my first half-marathon last year, it took a week or two to fully recover, and I was running much less back then.

Maybe I will take a short run tonight to stretch out a bit. I have a long run 28K (almost 18 miles) scheduled for the weekend, I may play it safe and postpone it a week. I need to look over my training schedule to see if this mess things up too much. In any case first priority is to recover to run another day. I really have to keep telling myself this. My wife thinks I obsessed with my running - who me?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Semitendinosus or Semimembranosus Muscles

I went on a nice slow recovery run last night. My colleagues at work laugh when I say “14K recovery run” (14K = 8.7 miles). Most can only dream about running that far. I couple years back I could only dream about it too!

My legs were really stiff, but the muscle in the back of my right leg that was giving me problems on my half-marathon on Saturday seemed to be okay. I took it really easy, finishing the run in about 89 minutes (84 being my average). I was also digging garden beds yesterday so I was really concerned about over doing it. This morning I am REALLY stiff, my legs are sore, my shoulders also. I have a couple blisters on my hands that are irritating me. But this week I have vacation, time to catch up on things around the house and garden. Time to RECOVER.

I had a comment or two about deciding to run the half-marathon at the last minute this past Saturday. “Yeah, I guess I will run a half-marathon today.” No, I’m not some super-macho-type that lives on steroids or something. I am training for a marathon in May (though still undecided if I will do this one), running somewhere between 40-60 kilometers (25-37 miles) a week since mid-January, and with the exception of two weeks in January - running regularly since February 2004. So I guess I’m more an intermediate runner, though still slow as molasses in January.

I am happy that I can decide at such short notice whether to run 10K or a HM, last year I had to seriously train for the two HM that I ran. This year I’m running so much that it really is “just another run”, although this past Saturday I had the goal of breaking my personal record (PR) which I did.

This week is a recovery week, in the last two months I have run 2 HM and a 20K run. It is definitely time to slow down before I break something. That said, I still plan on continuing with my May marathon training. I will probably find out this weekend whether this is obtainable, I have a 28K (~17 mile) training run on the calendar. I also have a 30K (18.5 mile) and 32K (20 mile) run on the calendar for April. These long runs will be the deciding factors. I know at this point it is very possible that I will have to postpone until September if my legs can’t handle it.

I mentioned in my race report that I had problems with a pulled upper thigh muscle on the back of my right leg. Looking in my old health book from college this could be the “semitendinosus” or “semimembranosus” muscles. Can anyone translate these into human English?

I assume that I stretched, tore, or otherwise beat the heck out of these muscles on Saturday trying to be Mr. Macho and set a new PR. On one side I am happy to say that I did not feel any pain while running last night. On the other side the muscle is sore this morning so is not completely healed. I am trying to limit my walking today to give the leg a rest. We’ll see how it goes. Happy running!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Rheinzabern Easter Half-Marathon

Top row: Left - The Start; Right - The Dog Man
Top row: Left - 7.5 Kilometers; Center - 17.5 Kilometers; Right - The Dog Man and the Amazon
I'm number 192 in the yellow shirt

 Posted by Hello

Saturday, March 26, 2005

New PR in Half-marathon! Ya-Hoo!!

I ran a half-marathon and set a new personal record today!

Actually my wife had planned on taking the train to her aunt this morning and I was going to run a 10K race in Rheinzabern, in the Rhineland-Pfalz area. But fate had its day, my wife still has her cold and her aunt was afraid of catching it, so she didn’t go. The weather was cloudy and overcast, looking like rain, so the garden was out. So she said she would go with me, my dearest! So at high noon we loaded up the car and made the 30 minute drive to Rheinzabern. If you read my old blogs you may remember the name from the 20 KM Winter Series Run from February 6th, same town, same trail, different sport hall. On the way to the run I asked (I’m so nice) my wife if she would mind if I run the half-marathon. “No, no problem, I have my book with me.” So the decision was made, about 1 ½ hours before the run, I would run the 32nd Annual Rheinzaberner Half-marathon Easter Run.

As I mentioned the run was over the same route as the 20K (12.4 miles) in February, plus an extra loop around town. Four hundred and two runners were signed up for the half, roughly an equal number for the 10K (6.2 miles). The 10K runners started at 13:50, the half at 14:10 – I really wonder about these starting times, there must be a story behind them?

So about 15 minutes before the race, after waiting in the traditional toilet line, I left my wife sipping coffee and reading her book and I did a short warm up. I was kind of questioning why I was doing this today, I mean I was probably mentally the least prepared that I had ever been. But I shook off these thoughts and started thinking about my strategy. I noticed from my training the last few weeks that when I started quick I ended up with much faster times. The problem was that I never ran over 14K (8.7 miles) using this method.

About this time the start shot went off and we were off. I latched myself behind some tall Amazon looking woman (complete with blond hair and tan) and her friend who was being dragged along by two dogs. I remember them from my half-marathon two weeks ago, they finished about 10 minutes faster than me. We finished the first 2K (1.3 miles) in 9:56 and the first 4K in (2.5 miles) in 19:54 – folks that’s 4.57 KPH (7.53 MPH), I never knew I could run that fast!!

About that time the Amazon and her dog-friend left me, I me they were outta there! This girl was tall (6’+) and she just stretched out and left dust. Her friend was being pulled along by the two dogs, so probably had less effort (is that fair anyway!). But I was in a group that was going about the same pace so we just kind of shaked our heads at how quickly the Amazon had left us and kept doing our thing. We had a fuel stop at about the 5K (3.1 mile) point, I noticed I had slowed down to about 5:13 the last kilometer, no problem. I ran KM 6 and 7 at about the same pace. We were a group of two dudes about my age, two ladies over 60, and me. We pretty much held our positions, the two ladies about 5-10 feet in front, we dudes playing passing games with each other. You should try this, it really distracts you from the pain

Speaking of pain, well no let's first talk about my pace, I ran the first four KM at a pace of about 5 minutes per kilometer, that’s just less than 8 minutes per mile. This is my fastest 10K pace on a good day. The next 3 KM I covered in about 5:15 per kilometer, about 20 seconds faster than my best half-m pace. So back to the pain, somewhere between the 7-8K point that old nagging cramp from last week jumped up and grabbed the back of my right leg. I mean it was like getting kicked by a cow (that hurts like hell for you city folks). I had to slow down, I thought that was it for me today

I switched to shorter steps and this seemed to help, after a couple minutes the pain had almost subsided. I was amazed to see that I was still fairly close to the group that I had been following (the two dudes had pasted me in my agony). I was kind of limping as I ran, a result of the pain, but with a lot of concentration I was able to change my step in such a way that it seemed to irritate my muscles less. I guess it was a shorter, faster step, rather than stretching it out like I usually do.

At about the 10K point I caught up with “my group”, we passed the 10K point at 51:37, a good pace for me! At the 11K (6.8 mile) point we looped back to the Start and started running the second lap, there was a pit stop shortly after this. I was disappointed that there was no sport drink, but grabbed some sweet tea, better than nothing. The next several kilometers were rather uneventful, I concentrated on my step, being really careful not to aggravate my right leg. We were still averaging around 5:15-5:20 per km. I was amazed!

After about 14K (8.7 miles) I recall thinking about my PR, the only time I allowed myself this luxury. It was still possible, I knew, but I also new that I was hurting. By this time it was obvious that I should have waited a few more weeks for a half-marathon, especially at this pace. What an idot!

Now I like to finish what I start, and today was no exception. So I stopped looking at my watch. I concentrated on thin attractive 60 year old ladies in front of me and let them pull me along. The two dudes seem to be content on following me, one about 5 paces behind the other back there somewhere.

We had another pit stop between the 15-16 K point, I drank water, the tea was too sweet last time. Just after the 17K we ran through a small town then turned right onto a 1.5 K (~mile) stretch that I learned to hate today. A mile up a small upgrade, turn around and come back. I new I had to keep my pace going, my leg was throbbing again, so I gritted my teeth and dug in. I passed the first 60-year old lady on the turn coming back. She tried to stay with me but I think she was more worn out than I was.

A few hundred feet after this I passed the 18K (11.2 miles) marker, I was out of reserve energy, I didn’t feel like I could hold up. As I said I gave up looking at my watch, but there was a dude calling off the times as we ran by, 1 hour 36 minutes. Now my old personal record (PR) was 1:56:31, even at my exhausted state I was able to compute that I was still within range of a new PR. I dug in and dragged out every last bit of juice I had left in me and kept going. I was almost limping with my right leg, the pain was so great. I tried to catch the other 60 year old lady, she wasn’t making it easy. We passed the 19K (11.8 miles) marker, she was about 8 paces in front of me. By the 20K marker she was about 4 paces in front of me, my leg was feeling a little better for some reason (or maybe I was in a daze).

The town appeared, I almost tripped and fell over my own legs, “when will this thing be over”! I fought my way forward, concentrating on nothing more than catching the lady in front of me. I know we were really close, just a couple turns than we would see the crowds, then a 200 meter sprint (yeah, right!). We made a left, down the next street, this lady was not giving up her lead! Then we made a right, I was starting to gain (or she was slowing down), she was only 2 paces in front of me. Then I heard the crowd, I gave it everything I had. I slowly pulled ahead of her, then the last 100 meters to the finish line. Thank the good lord!

My time: 1:53:29
Three minute, 2 seconds faster than my best half-marathon! Okay someone shoot this old horse, I’m done.

I hobbled around the block once, trying to stretch, without too much luck. I grabbed some tea and water, tanked up a bit and walked to the sport hall. My beloved wife had organized some cake before they sold out, a bottle of water, apple juice and my great adoration! They had showers at the sport hall, so I eventually took an ice cold shower (not my choice) which seemed to help. After downing my cake, a steak sandwich, a bratwurst, a glass of apple juice and a bottle of water we headed home.

Both legs are sore, the muscle in the back of my upper thigh still aches a bit. I need to talk to the doctor about that. He will probably tell me I have been training too hard, who me? I had an hour nap, then ate again, right before writing this. I feel very fulfilled somehow, my first goal for the year accomplished, a new PR for my half-marathon.

Tomorrow is Easter, a day of rest. Monday is a holiday, more rest. Than I have four days vacation. I might try a slow run on Tuesday. But no more half-marathons for a while, my body is telling me that I need a rest.

Hey I set a new PR today! So what did you do today?

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Gentle Spring Rain - Quick Pace - Easter Run?

Whew, the end of a busy work week, tomorrow (Good Friday) is a holiday in Germany Tonight I ran my 12K (14K) route. I started with a nice strong, but comfortable pace, as I passed the 10K point (55:26 on the stopwatch) a gentle rain began to fall. I love a spring rain, the soul cleansing fresh air. What a pleasure to run. When I finished my run I was shocked by my time, 76:50, the fastest that I have ever run my training run, and I really felt great. The thing is I never really felt that I was pushing that hard, I guess my training is starting to pay off, or there is magic in a spring rain!.

On Saturday is an Easter Run in the Rhineland-Pfalz, about a half hour from us. I am really tempted to run the 10K, or maybe even the half-marathon. I was planning to run a half-marathon race along the Rhine river on April 16, but this is the same weekend as a critical long run (30K or ~19miles) that I need if I run the Mannheim Marathon on May 21. So I have to think about this carefully. There are enough other half-marathons in the next few months, so really I can postpone trying to break my PR and concentrate on the marathon training.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Decision on May Marathon

First I want to thank everyone that responded to my thoughts on running a May marathon. For now I've decided to keep training like I'm going to do May and see how I feel. I'm sure that I would come across the finish line, it's just a question on how strong I would finish. What is sure is that I'm not going to get all stressed out about it, if I feel up to it, my wife is game, and things fall in place than I may go for it. In any case I am already signed up for the Baden Marathon in September. The marathon in May does not have a limit, so I can wait until the day before to sign up. So for now I will just keep training :->

The 100, 10, 1000 Speed Workout

Last night I tried a workout that a running friend of mine uses to train for his 10K (6.2 mile) races. Basically this consists of:

- Stretching really well, including calisthenics to get the heart pumping;
- Doing a 100 meter (328 feet) warmup run;
- Running 10K at 90-95% of your race tempo;
- Jogging at least 1000 meters (~0.62 miles);
- Stretching after the run.

I ran the 10K in 53:40, which is about 3 minutes slower than my best 10K. I jogged almost 4K (2.5 miles) afterwards.

I am surprised how effective this training seems to be, my leg muscles really ache this morning. Apparently the short warmup, fast run, followed by more running effectively works the muscle groups which will eventually strenghthen your legs and lead to a faster pace. My friend trains once a week using this method, plus 2 other days of normal training runs (1 long, 1 medium distance).

My friend warned me not to do this training the week before a long run or race, I know why now, it really breaks down your muscles.

It would be interesting to see how this would compare to other tempo or interval training.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Badischemeile (Baden Mile)

On May 7th I am running the 8.88889 kilometer (5.5233002 mile) Badischemeile, or "Baden Mile", with a team from my company. When I first mentioned this a couple weeks back Jon made the comment that there must be an interesting story behind this distance. So without further ado:

"The Baden Mile is a historical measurement of distance. Up until 1819 the “royal foot” was used by the people in the Baden region to compute distance. Count Carl Friedrich defined the distance that was covered in two hours by him and his attendants as the longest stature mile in Germany. The distance covered: Eight kilometer, 888 meter and 89 cm or 8.88889 kilometer.

With introduction of the metric system the conversion of the old measure did not round off completely, so that the "bent number" 8.88889 kilometers was specified as the Badischemeile or “Baden Mile”.

The idea of the "Baden Mile" race originated with Otto Velten in 1977, but the race with this name was first implemented in 1990, the 275th anniversary of the City of Karlsruhe, Germany.

It was meant as a fun run, a warm up for the city marathon that took place the following day. The Baden Mile is still a fun run, long since accredited as an independent competition in May, one of the first larger “peoples” run in the region for this time of year (the city marathon is now in Sepetember).

The popularity of the Baden Mile continues to grow, the number of runners increasing every year since the first start in 1990."

So now you have the "rest of the story". My company will be running the race for the third time this year, last I heard we have 70 people signed up to run (or walk) the race. In 2004 my company won third prize for having the largest group (47 people). This year we are hoping for first or second place.

Monday, March 21, 2005

May Marathon or September?

Today is a non-running day. If my patient at home is feeling better (wifey has the flu) I will probably go to the garden and finish digging up my garden beds. Our garden is located about 11K (6.8 miles) from our house, in the town where we used to live. We belong to a garden club, made up of 80 gardens on land leased from the German Railroad (Deuschebahn). This is very common here in Germany.

I was looking over my marathon training plan last night, I’ve run 470K (292 miles) so far this year. I was originally planning to run my first marathon in May (Mannheim Marathon - May 21), but decided to wait until the Baden Marathon on September 18th. This nice spring weather that we are having has me thinking about May again – I could still do it – I just completed a 25-26K (15-16 mile) run this past Friday. Hmmm!

That would mean I would have to run 28K (17.4 miles) on April 2nd; 30K (18.6 miles) on April 16th; and at least 32K (20 miles) on April 30th. Ouch! What did Chris Brogan say about pain is just weakness leaving the body (actually he said pain is pain). I’m motivated (crazy?) enough to do it, but my wife is definitely against this idea, so I will probably have to be patient and hold out until September. This would mean I need to slow down a little bit for now so I don’t blow a gasket or something before the marathon. In any case I have about two weeks to think about it before I would need to commit myself to a May marathon.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

A nice Spring training run.

Today was another beautiful Spring day, 18°C (65°F). My poor wife has a cold with fever, so she was passed out on the couch when I came back from church. I decided it was a good time to run so saddled up and hit my 14K (8.6 mile) route. What gorgeous weather, I love the Spring. The flowers are starting to pop up here and there, hard to believe we had snow just two short weeks ago.

It was a bit breezy as I wandered out across the fields, but it felt good. I felt surprising fit, considering my very long run this past Friday. I was running strong as I passed my 10K marker, so picked up the speed a little finishing in 1:19:36. If my bycycle odometer is correct and my route is 14K, then I averaged 5:41/KM (9:09/mile). If I can keep this up on my 14K training runs I should be able to break my PR on the next half-marathon.

Happy running!

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Crosstraining in the Garden

Today I spent about 10 hours in the garden, pruning fruit trees, berry bushes, digging up the beds etc. Tonight I feel it in my arms and shoulders, so I guess it was a pretty good workout. I think a lot of Americans (Canadians?) are spoiled by modern conveniences such as rotor tillers. I dig my garden beds to a depth of about 30-40cm (~12-15”). It takes me about 7-8 hours to dig my main garden beds. Usually I spread it over two days cause’ I’m an office jockey wimp, but I do it all by hand (actually with a spade;) Never underestimate the value of good old fashion hard work to help burn those calories!

CamelBak, Inline Skates, Nissan, all the lastest news

Jon asked me about cleaning the CamelBak. I ordered a brush kit at the same time I ordered the CamelBak. This consists of a larger brush for cleaning inside the liquid "pouch", plus a small brush mounted on a long flexible rod (snake) which allows you to clean the inside of the drink tube. On top of the "pouch" is a plug that can be removed to fill the pouch or to clean. It is large enough to at least get my smallish hand in to clean the inside with the brush. Some men (or women) with XL hand may have trouble with this.

I looked at Inline skates yesterday, tried on a couple pairs, fell down a couple times, and decided to wait until after my marathon to buy a pair. I used to ice skate a little as a teenager, I'm new to rollerblading so at this point am too worried that I hurt myself. As my wife shares this perspective I decided to leave it for now.

I took a closer look at the neighbors Nissan and am approaching it very cautiously. I found a number of "little things" wrong that the owner didn't seem to mention. Neighbor or not, I think I will have my mechanic brother-in-law take a look at it.

I woke up this morning with no negative effects from my rather long run (25-26K = ~16 miles). A little stiff, but this is normal after most of my longer runs. The only problem was the bathroom scales, according to them I gained 2Kg (~4 pounds) since yesterday. Probably something to do with eating everything in sight the whole day yesterday. I'm not too worried about this, in a day or two this will be back down again. That's why I run :->

Friday, March 18, 2005

Long Run Today!

I decided to use up some of my accumulating overtime today and stayed home from work. I have a couple appointments at work ext week that will probably call for 10-12 hour days so my boss was kind enought to see it my way this time. So with the temperature already about 15°C at 9:30 this morning I strapped on the new CamelBak and hit the trail. So with lots of sunshine as my partner I started over my normal route. About three KM out I got the worst cramp in my upper leg that I have ever experienced. I stopped a stretched a bit, walked a couple minutes, than slowly started running again. The pain subsided, so I kept going. The CamelBak takes some getting used to, you hear the constant sloshing of the water inside. I have the 2 liter model, which probably sloshes around worse than the smaller ones. In any case I got used to it, and didn't think much more about. I got a couple strange looks from a few of the old people that I came across, I guess they never saw a CamelBak before. I give the CamelBak high ratings, its comfortable, lightweight, and very easy to drink from. The only complaint was the hose slides down from the clip sometimes. On my next long run I want to try stuffing the extra hose into the backpack, maybe this helps. But overall I highly recommend it!

I had planned on doing 15-20K today, but as some of you may have noticed I'm a glutton for punishment, I didn't stop until I had run 2 hours 45 minutes, I would guess about 25-26K's. How do I feel? Hungry! My legs definetely feel like they had a workout. But I actually don't feel as worn out as after the half-marathon on Sunday. I kept the pace down, I'm guessing I averaged about 6:30/KM. I'm really going to have to find out if my odometer on the bycycle is accuate, I don't know if I trust it!

Well I have to have lunch, I'm starving! Happy running!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Cross-training: Inline Skating?

All the sports stores in my area are advertising Inline skates, anybody ever do this for cross-training? I'm curious if this would have any negative aspects in regards to my marathon training?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Oh no, my 12K training route is not 12K's !!

It was an unbelievable 70°F when I got home from work today. My wife has night school tonight, so I had all I could do to keep from lacing up the running shoes. But nope, nope, nope, this is a recovery week. So instead I got out my mountain bike and decided to measure my training route. I think I mentioned a time or two that I have doubts that my route is really 12K.So out the door I went, beautiful day, I tell ya! People out everywhere, walking, talking, bike riding, JOGGING! Anyway my route checked out to my 10K point, I kind of figured that because I measured that last year. But then it got interesting, eleven kilometers, aah…I’m still too far from home, can’t be. Twelve kilometers, oh-oh. My whole training program for the entire Winter suddenly flashed before my eyes – all messed up, totally wrong, my entire training pace, wrong, all the paper work, the planning aaahhhhh! Thirteen kilometers .. I can see the church steeple. This means I have to go back and change everything, you know that…redo the whole planning. And my races, suddenly I see that I just have not been putting out like I should be, I mean…Fourteen kilometers plus about 50 meters. I have been running two kilometers farther on every run, the entire winter and didn’t know it. Aaaahhh.... He-he :->

My neighbor was out trying to get his motorcycle going when I came back, so gave him a hand. He has a nice older Nissan 4x4 (Pathfinder maybe) that I always admired. Then I heard those magic words “do you wanna buy it, my wife want’s a new BMW”. Do I WANNA, what kind of question is that, does Buffalo get snow in the winter? So how do I convince my wife that she wants it? Okay guys, I can use some help on this.

Grandpa Jack doing his thing, Sunday, March 13, 2005 - Bienwald Halfmarathon, Kandel, Germany. Posted by Hello

Race Recovery 101

I ran my 12K route last night, slow and gently, finishing the first 10K in a shameful (but restful) 64 minutes. But oh what weather we're having, I mean 59°F, sunshine, blue sky, birds-a-singin', no mud, no snow - this is what running is all about folks!

My legs were still a bit tight from the race on Sunday, I made it a point to stretch this old grandpa's bones before and after my recovery run. NEVER underestimate the importance of streching - I used to just do my pushups & situps before and after a run and that's it! It worked okay when I was younger, but at 45 I have to take the time to stretch. Pay now or pay later!

The folks at UPS dropped off my CamelBak drink system yesterday. I couldn't wait to try it out. I disinfected it (you never know), filled it with water and took a couple laps around the inside of the house. My wife gave me one of those "have you lost your mind" looks - "nothing left to lose dearest";-)

This weekend is supposed to reach 20°C (68°F) with lots of sunshine. I have a long run on my calendar, normally two hours, 45 minutes. I may have to adjust this somewhat once I get out there - depends on how the legs react. Can't wait to try the CamelBak - Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off with my CamelBak I go.

Input: flowersbeeswarmsunjoyspring, there, sending a little Spring weather your way. Happy running!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Upcoming Attractions

I was thinking about upcoming running events on the train to work this morning. Lots of possibilitie, I'm seriously considering doing the Rhine Folks Run (Rhein-Volkslauf), which has a 10K and half-marathon (HM) on April 16th. I was reading the ad at my run on Sunday, asphalt course, 100% flat, along the Rhine River – you can’t imagine how this gets my PR juices churnin’. I could picture a new HM PR. I only missed it by a couple minutes on Sunday, and that with a cold. Hmmm.

If that doesn’t work there’s a HM at the Südpfalzlauf (Southern Pfalz Run) in Ruelzheim on May 16th. I ran the 10K last year, the course is also flat, most of it on beaten forest paths. This route is almost ideal if it doesn’t rain. The best thing is our friend Eva lives in this town so my wife will have company.

Or maybe both runs, then I don't have to decide :->

Of course on May 7th is the 8.8889K Baden Mile, we have over 40 people from my company signed up so far. There’s talk about a company T-shirt – hey why not!

Man, today it’s already 11°C (51°F) outside, sunny, beautiful. Well I gotta finish my sandwich here quick and take a walk before the end of my lunch break, it’s just too nice to blog. I can’t wait to hit the running trail after work, I feel like a kid that just bought his first car, just waiting to get out there and put on some miles!

Hey I Made the Internet!

Hey I made the Internet! In Germany we have an Internet site that reports on the regional runs. I'm the dude in the gray sweatshirt (#1812) and dark pants. That's my escort crew in front of me that I followed for half the race (before blowing them away!). If anyone is interested in the German site the URL is: Posted by Hello

So Why Should You Monitor Your Urine?

So what’s the big mystery about checking urine? It’s all in the color man!


As many of you may already know, if you have a very light yellow, almost clear, urine that’s good, it means you are drinking enough fluids. I dark yellow urine normally means you need to start downing fluids. If you have a bright yellow urine you have to first decide if you recently have taken some B vitamins, or eaten something rich in B vitamins, as this will turn the urine bright yellow.

Dark or reddish:

Dark or reddish urine may be a symptom of the rupture of small blood vessels in the bladder (or, less commonly, the kidney) as a result of the jarring motion of running. Don’t panic right away, think about what you ate in the last couple meals, red beets will result in the same reddish urine. Blood in the urine, or Runner’s Hematuria, can often be prevented by running with a small amount of urine in the bladder (that is, don’t “go” right before you run). This helps separates the bladder walls and prevents contusion. Also avoid using high does of aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs, as these medications have a blood-thinning effect and may exacerbate your problem. In any case if you are experiencing prolonged blood in the urine you should be evaluated by a sport-oriented physician.

This information was derived from various articles from Runners World magazine. For more information go to and search "urine".

Monday, March 14, 2005

The Day After...

So the morning after the race…hmmm…I woke up this morning slightly refreshed, legs a little stiff, the cold still active, but bearable. I debated whether I should stay home from work, got the thermometer out, nope no fever…thought about what I need to get done this week at work…that settled it, off to work I go. Easter is coming up in a couple weeks – in Germany that means a four day weekend - Good Friday and Easter Monday are holidays - maybe I can get in a nice long run – maybe 28-30K? But that means get the pile down or bring it home over Easter – no wayyy!

I actually felt pretty good during the day, to be sure my nose was running, the occasional cough, a couple sneezes but bearable. The only time it got out of control was when I was on the phone with our sister company in the USA for a half-hour - I was turning purple trying not to cough the whole time. Afterward, I started gagging and coughing so bad one of the dudes in my office came over to pick me off the floor. A little water, some serious nose horns and a quick walk outside and I was good to go.

Tonight I am chilling out, my wife is at night school (Business English). I did my wife’s version of cross-training: the dishes, took out the trash, washed the mud off my three pairs of running shoes, cleaned the mud I’ve been tracking in from running out of the entrance way, etc. Things like this are imperative to conditioning my wife to support my running!

My legs feel good tonight, my neck and shoulders are a little out of whack, but everything else seems to be okay. Tomorrow is supposed to be 15°C, can’t remember what that is in °F, gosh I’ve been in Germany too long. By the way Mia, yes I often think about moving back home, we almost did after 9/11. The wife’s willing, it’ll just take the right opportunity, the right money in the bank, yeah it remains a possibility – anyone in need of a technical writer out there? Preferences: St. Clair Shores MI, northern MA (e.g. Billerica), no tornadoes, earthquakes or hurricanes please. Snow is okay, but need more money for heating and 4x4 :->

This week I have two 12K runs on the training calendar, probably Tuesday and Thursday, and a long run – about 24K. I have a couple runs floating through my mind already, a 10K in two weeks and a half-marathon in the middle of April. The half is supposed to be along the Rhine river, sounds interesting. Yeah I’m a glutton for punishment, yeah I know I just ran one yesterday, yeah I’m nuts. If still in doubt read my list of 100 weird things about me.

p.s. Thanks for the support guys, you can’t imagine how much it met too me on my race yesterday.

A Few Pictures of the Bienwald Marathon

Here are a few pictures of the Bienwald marathon/half-marathon 2004, same route. The first is the start, the middle picture around the 7K marker where the first runners where already coming back, and the last around the 13K maker turn-around. Last year was a few degrees warmer, but otherwise the same. Posted by Hello

A Wonderful Day for a Run?

If you had asked me if it was a wonderful day for a run this morning I probably would have transmitted some serious negative vibes in your direction. I opened my eyes about 6:30, hacking, coughing, sounding like my chain-smoking neighbor next door. I hit the power button and started doing a system check, after which I decided I wouldn’t self-destruct so rolled out of bed and hit the shower. After a long hot shower, a bunch of gross de-sliming coughs, a little nose spray to clear the air passages, a Tylenol for good measure, and a cup of coffee, I pronounced myself alive.

So I then preceded to wake the misses up, who took one look at me and said “Are you nuts”! Ignoring this rhetorical question I sat down to breakfast, and my better half went through her morning ritual, making a point to grumble every time she walked through the kitchen about the normality of being up so early on a Sunday morning, how I ever talked her into going with me, and other choice bits of wisdom. But by the time her second cup of coffee kicked in she was ready to run through her pre-check to see what I forgotten to pack this time. By 8:00 we were out the door, and on the first leg of the 45 minute drive to Kandel. As is custom this early in the morning my better half remained relatively quiet, probably in reality sleeping with her eyes open. I chose to let her meditate, figuring if I tried to talk I would end up coughing and hacking anyway, which would be enough grounds for her to make me turn around and go home.

We completed the trip in record time, the roads were almost empty, as my wife put it “Only crazy people and runner’s are out this early on a Sunday”! The sport stadium was already a buzz of activity, several hundred runners were already milling around inside and out. It was about 2°C outside, my wife was cold as usual, so we found the sport-hall where the start numbers were being issued. While my wife looked for the bathroom and a cup of coffee, I picked up my number, 1812 (was this a sign of my upcoming battle?), T-shirt and a piece of cake. I took this opportunity to cough and hack at leisure, knowing this was a bad idea when my wife was present – she does not understand my dire need to subject my body to abuse by running with a cold and was just looking for an excuse to veto me back to bed. Someday I probably should listen to her, I know she’s right, but, well, what can I say?

So the hall started filling - 45 minutes until the start – I decided I should go stand in line for the bathroom. Most sport clubs have a nice building, lots of seating, kitchen, showers etc. However the clubs usually have 60-100 members, so the typical two toilets and 4 urinals in the men’s room are quite adequate. Add a sudden influx of about 1200-1400 male runners and suddenly you have chaos at the porcelain. I ONLY had to wait 25 minutes this time, a new PR. My wife is used to this so was not surprised at my long departure. She looked at her watch and started going through the preflight checklist:

- Start number: check
- Hankies: check
- Energy bar: check
- Hat, gloves: check
- Did you leave me the car key (in case you don’t come back alive): check
- Do you need to pee again: I should go again, I’ll see you after the run.
- “Be careful, if you have chest pains be sure to stop and write you will out, cause if you don’t die from the chest pains I’ll kill you for putting me through this.”

So I finally made it outside, did a little stretching, ran a couple minutes and found my starting block. Due to the marathon, there were pace runners, I set myself in the middle of the 1:45-2:00 block for the half, figuring I’d try to hang with them as long as possible. The sun was still hiding, someone said it was 4°C outside, the wind was blowing significantly – no gale winds, but you felt it in the bones. So I stood there shivering trying to think about my upcoming task. The half-marathon route was about 13 K out, U-turn and then back over part of the same route. My strategy was to try to start slow (to keep from coughing and hacking) and speed up after 10-12K.

So before I knew it the start gun went off, I hit my stop watch and waddled forwards towards the start. I made a mental note that I crossed the start line at 1:34 and then concentrated on finding a gentle pace to get things going. I missed the first KM marker, but noticed my time at the second KM marker, 12:55 which was about what I had planned on. System check: breathing good (although I had to be careful not to breath too deep as this led to coughing), legs good, nose running on tempo. An important note at this point is that we were running directly into the wind, not fun, but at least the sun was smiling.

I latched myself on to three dudes that past me slowly and let them kind of pull me along. I checked my watch at the 5K marker, 28:25, under 6 minutes/KM (~9:15/miles) – acceptable at this point. Just past this marker was the first watering hole, I grabbed a cup of water and walked a bit to drink it down. I then caught back up to my escort, who had run through. They picked up the pace some, I hung with them, but started coughing and spuking green slime, which I chose to spit out. Once I had cleaned my lungs out my breathing settled down again and I hung with my escort team, who were eyeing me carefully by that time (probably wondering if they should try to dump me or not). I stuck like glue, breathing stayed good, had to occasionally blow the nose, but felt okay. Around the 7K marker the first half-marathon came flying back through on his return pass, he finished the half in 1:07:10 – I remember thinking his pace is faster than my sprint – yee-gosh!

We passed the 10K marker at 57:23, I was presently surprised and felt a ray hope that I might actually run in a half-way decent time, considering. The next watering hole was right after the marker, I grabbed a cup of energy drink and a water, slowing again to drink, drink. My escort grabbed a round too, nice of them to slow down for me this time. A couple K’s further and one of the three had to stop and water a tree, we never saw him again. Soon after was a sign that the half-marathon turn-around was coming up in a few hundred meters, just past the 13K point. Encouraged I stretched out a little and outpaced my escort, thanking them silently as I inched by. About this time I did my U-turn and started bringing the cows home. The wind was now to my advantage so I spread my sails and let the wind do it’s thing. I passed the 15K marker at about 1:23:30, and the 16K at about 1:29:xx.

About this time I decided to call a emergency planning session and figure out how to proceed from here. My brain proposed that I maintain or increase my pace to try to finish in under 2 hours. My heart said it he would put everything he had into, my lungs said as long has my cough doesn’t interfere they were with us, but my legs were stiff and said they wanted to stop and take a rest. Fortunately my guts told them to shut up and don’t whine. So I reached done within and decided to go for it, I only needed to maintain my speed for another half-hour, 5.1K’s. No problemo!

An then there were 4, a quick energy drink at the watering hole, then onwards. I thought about my colleagues at work on Monday – “so how’d ya do”, I thought about my blogger-friends. I thought about Superman Chris, the Marines, Rocky, no pain, no gain. My legs kept whining, my guts slapped them into submission. Three K’s - my lungs started having second thoughts, my brain started having second thoughts. Two K’s, my heart jumped in and reminded everyone what we’re here for, my brain told my legs to shut up, my heart pumped on, I coughed and freed the lungs, my guts drove us forward. The last K, I asked if we had any reserve, everyone was quiet. The sport stadium loomed on the horizon, the finish in site, 400 meters, my heart beat strong, my lungs hurt, my cough grew quiet, my guts almost burst, my legs - my legs hit turbo, 400 meter sprint to the finish – 1:58:52!

My legs hurt, my heart beat out of control, my lungs tore at me, I felt like I was going to lose breakfast, I felt TOTALLY AWESOME, wow what a run. Man, was that great. Whew! Wow! Whew! Water! Drink! Cough! Cough! Choke! Coughsomemore! Oh stiff, walk, stretch, walk, drink, eat banana, drink, walk, drink.

I waddled over to the sport hall and presented what was left of me to my wife, who was slightly relieved to see me coming back under my own power. My loving wife had everything ready, apple juice, bottle of water, piece of cake, aspirin. Wow!

So a warm shower at the sport hall, fresh clothes, hot soup, cake, water, cake, water and we were ready to make the trip home. I already heard the couch calling me, a gentle voice blowing through the trees, somehow comforting after the long journey.

Bienwald Marathon - Kandel, Germany

Kandel, a quiet town of 9000, nestled in the state of Rhineland-Pfalz, in the southwest center of Germany. A sleepy town, with quiet shops, old timber-frame houses, surrounded by the Bienwald Forest, fields, and peace. But once a year for the past 25 years this still has been broken by the thunder of almost 2000 pairs of feet in the annual Bienwald Marathon/Halfmarathon. This year with 5°C, the sun smiled down on 1183 participants of the half-marathon, 564 for the full marathon. Spirits were high as the temperature rose, the support crew motivated and the runners soared through the small town, over the fields, through the forest and back again. What a wonderful day for a run!  Posted by Hello

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Half-marathan: Jack vs. The Common Cold

It never ceases to amaze me what we can accomplish when we set our minds to it. For days the my cold has been cropping up, the coughing, sneezing, wheezing and misery. This morning I woke up and had to make a decision, half-marathon or lay defeated in bed, another victim of the common cold. The facts:

- Fever: negative
- Cough: occasional mild cough
- Energy level: good
- Appetite: excellent
- Motivation: high
- Runny nose, mild cough
- Congestion: medium
- Support team: activated and on standby

With that in mind I decided to go for it, the 25th annual Bienwald half-marathon.

The results: 1:58:52, just two minutes more than my PR, yeah we rocked! I'm sure my body will get even with me over the next day or two, anytime you push yourself into the red zone your body will take something back. So - cough medicine: check; nose drops: check, kleenex: check: thermometer: on standby :)

I'll try to post more details tomorrow if I'm alive.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Blogger not Bloggin'?

It seems Blogger is experiencing technical difficulties, sometimes the "comments" work, sometimes not. Until Blogger figures this out feel free to you use my e-mail:

Today I feel somewhat better, throat not so scratchy, nose still runny, a little coughing but not too bad. I took a chance and ran about 6 miles last night, nice easy pace - it felt good, my breathing is a bit out of whack do to my cold, but otherwise no problemo.

So unless my cold takes another nose dive I plan on lacing up ye ole running shoes and run a half-marathon tomorrow. I wanted to try for a new PR (< 1:56) but I have already set this goal on the shelf till next time. My new goal tomorrow, maybe 2:15, longer if I feel like it needs to be. I've learned over my life that I can run with a cold, so long as it's not deep in the lungs or I have fever, but I have to slow it down. So tomorrow is a run for fun, or as my better half says a test of my machismos -> man vs. common cold - I will break you!-] She will be at the finish line, with her best friend Eva. Eva said she will bring a shovel in case they have to bury me. Great gal that Eva, she's a cycle freak!

Happy running.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Doom, Despair and Misery…

… or getting a cold 4 days before a half-marathon. This sucks! I woke up yesterday morning, scratchy throat, sneezing – I knew this was not a good thing. This morning I sounded even worse. The good news is - no fever (yet) and the cough isn’t so deep. Maybe I will make a miraculous recovery by Sunday, I’m not giving up hope. I have run longer runs while having a cold, it’s just a matter of slowing down things. Sunday is supposed to be over 40°F, maybe sunny, if I feel up to it I may just go and use this for a training run. I going to jog a few miles tonight and see how it goes. I’m pretty well convinced that a new PR is out of the question at this point, and a total cancellation is also not ruled out. In either case there are definitely enough other running events coming up over the next few months. So I have talked myself into feeling better about the whole thing. That said, it still sucks! :-<

Thursday, March 10, 2005

100 Weird Things About Me

After noticing a few of these lists in some of the blogs, I decided to do a brain drain:

1. I’ve never ran a marathon but I’ve walked three (to date at least).
2. I once completed a 50 mile military road march.
3. I’ve gone on a three day hike in the Austrian Alps (up to 10,000 feet).
4. I’ve gone 12 years at a stretch without missing a day of work.
5. I’ve worked for over 10 years in the same company.
6. I had a supermarket catch on fire when I was in it.
7. I was the shift manager at the time.
8. I used to wash cars for a living (not on my resume).
9. I can speak German.
10. I can think in German (not as easy as you think).
11. I like to flirt with blond-haired women.
12. I have an easier time taking to women than men.
13. I’ve married every woman that I had sex with.
14. I once gave a lecture on dating.
15. It was for a Gong show in high school.
16. I won.
17. I didn’t get a date.
18. I once played Georgey-porgey (think: pudding & pie) in a high school play.
19. I got a date!
20. I once beat up the class bully.
21. It felt good.
22. I once learned how to polka.
23. I once singed off my eyebrows lighting a gasoline stove (alright Jon!).
24. I’ve driven a military tank.
25. I was on a 30-man tug-a-war team vs. a Bradley Fighting Vehicle – we lost.
26. I’ve stayed awake for 5 days straight.
27. I’ve slept for 28 hours straight.
28. I once was stranded in the desert in Death Valley for 3 days.
29. I’ve eaten woodchuck.
30. I hate pickled herring.
31. I can bake killer pies.
32. I make bread from scratch.
33. I once grilled 1283 chickens.
34. I once ate 25 McDonald’s cheeseburgers on a bet.
35. I once ate 40 6-inch pancakes on a bet.
36. I once won an ice cream eating contest.
37. I’ve eaten a whole 16” cheese pizza in two minutes.
38. I weighed 240 lbs when I was 13 years old.
39. I’ve lost 50 or more pounds at least 5 times in my life.
40. I’ve regained 50 or more pounds at least 4 times in my life.
41. I drank more before I legally could than I have since.
42. I’ve been so drunk I’ve lost my car.
43. I’ve been so drunk that I fell out of a car.
44. We were going 30 mph at the time (I wasn’t driving).
45. I don’t get drunk anymore.
46. I really regret getting drunk at all.
47. I’ve never done illegal drugs.
48. I'm a born-again Christian
49. I won't try to cram my beliefs down your throat.
50. I’ve never broken a bone (okay a couple chicken wishbones).
51. I’ve never had to stay in the hospital.
52. I’ve written my own software programs.
53. I don’t know how to program a video recorder.
54. I once was a member of the FFA (Future Farmers of America).
55. I used to love to bale hay.
56. I collect toy tractors (John Deere of course).
57. I grow most of our own vegetables.
58. I know how to prune fruit trees.
59. I make my own fruit and veggie juices.
60. I raise worms.
61. I first went to college when I was 30 years old.
62. I finished my Masters.
63. I live in a 290 year old house.
64. I can build my own furniture.
65. I learned how to lay bricks from the Internet.
66. I’ve put together my own computer.
67. I ride a train and streetcar to work by choice.
68. I like to visit cemeteries.
69. I go there to visit my relatives.
70. I take pictures of tombstones.
71. I’ve made a Webpage database of these pictures.
72. I’ve traced my family roots back to 1603.
73. I’m twelfth generation American (okay the first few were colonist’).
74. I have 6 brothers.
75. I’m the only one that’s been fat.
76. My parents have been married to each other for 56 years (so far)!!
76. I like to listen to rowdy country music.
78. I used to drive a pickup truck.
79. I like to organize things.
80. I’m forgetful.
81. I always try to tell the truth.
82. Because I’m a terrible liar.
83. I try not to swear or cuss.
84. I love to listen to people with a Scottish or Irish accent.
85. I like to sit at Cafés and watch people walk by.
86. I don’t like to travel.
87. I’ve been in 23 U.S. states.
88. I’ve been in 14 countries.
89. I’ve been on 4 continents.
90. I don’t like to drive a car at night.
91. I love to drive fast.
92. I hate being a passenger in a car.
93. Especially when the driver tailgates someone.
94. I like to bug people when they are all serious about something.
95. I’ve been accused of never taking anything serious.
96. I love to smile and laugh.
97. I thrive on attention.
98. I love to read about other peoples experiences.
99. I miss the USA.
100. I can’t believe I finished this.

I'm not proud of everything I've done in my life, particularily as a young soldier, but I look at everything that I did/do as a learning experience. I've seriously mellowed out in the last 25 years, that's good. On the other side I still have enough spirit to try new things, e.g. marathoning and beyond, that's good.

Fitness Tip: Volksmarching?

Anybody ever heard of the American Volkssport Association (AVA)? Ex-military, military spouses and military-brats may be more familiar with the International Volkssport Federation, the IVV. In either case these dudes organize and participate in Volksmarches.

What is Volksmarching:

According to the AVA, a Volksmarch is a non-competitive 6 mile (10 kilometer) walk. It's not a pledge walk, it's not a race, it is a fun activity you do with a club, with your family, with your pet, or all by yourself. Volksmarching got its name from its origins in Europe. Today there are thousands of volkssport clubs around the world, allied in the International Volkssport Federation, the IVV.

Back in the 80’s and 90’s I was into this in a big way in Germany. I belonged to the Heidelberg American Wandering Club and we went EVERY weekend! The good news is that in Germany the walks are not limited to 10K, they do 20K, marathon, and 50K. I racked up thousands of kilometers in the 90’s, including “wandering” three marathon’s. The IVV marathons, are not timed, but I remember doing my last one in 5:55 (I had a heck of a walking pace then).

I have been thinking about going to some this summer and run the 20K – a good way to cover a variety of terrain, plus the fact that they offer something to eat/drink every 5-7K’s, as well as after the event at the finish.

Anyway these are great for walkers, nordic walkers, and even joggers. I know various parts of the USA have active clubs, I'm not sure about Canada.

Links: - American Volkssport Association - International Volkssport Federation

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Spring is Breaking Me

Tonight I ran my 12K route, the first 10K in 57:49, total time 80:23 (something not right here). I have to seriously re-measure my route with my mountain bike soon, either I am turning into superman or my route is much longer than I thought. I lean toward the latter and would guess that it is more like a 14K route. I guess I should first take my mountain bike over a known distance to see how accurate the mileage computer is.

The trail tonight was good to poor, the asphalt/gravel sections dry and fast; the fields and forest were soup - snow, slosh, mud, standing water – in some cases I actually ran over the fields because they were in better shape than the path. No sunshine, but the temperature was floating around 40°F – nice!

After reading up on the CamelBak drink system I took the plunge and ordered one, the CamelBak Classic Ruby Red “2005” with 2 liter capacity, and small storage pocket. Can’t wait to try that out, I love new toys. With temperatures usually reaching 90-100°F in the summer and a need to carry fluids with me prompted this purchase. I talked with a couple people who use them, one for cycling, the other cross-country skiing, they are well pleased. We’ll see :->

Survey: How often do you look at your pee?

Enquiring minds want to know:

1. How often should you look at your pee?

2. Do you know why you should look at your pee?

[No, this is not anything degenerate or perverted]

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Daily Stress and Mr. Motivation; CamelBak's

To repeat something I posted on another blog earlier, I really believe that our emotional state resulting from daily stress has a serious effect on running/training ability. The first problem is the motivation problem - have a bad day at work, with the kids or spouse and see what happens to old Mr. Motivation – blaa. Upcoming events in our life which we dread can particularly have a serious impact on everything we do, especially fitness stuff. But these are the very days that we have to dig deep, gather up whatever is left of our chaotic selves and face the wind. I’ve had so many days like that and it never feels like it gets easier, but somehow I always seem to come to a point where I can say I made it through again.

I have mega piles of work on my desk at work, lots of deadlines, no end in sight. In the past this totally dragged me down to a point where I had no other motivation than to come home and leave my imprint on the couch. I have (finally) reached a point where most of the time I can run this frustration out and can continue to function as a human being afterwards, as opposed to turning into a part of the furniture. At least one source of frustration under check, what's next?

Anyway I spent some time tonight looking at the CamelBak drink system. With my long runs starting to get, well long, I thought I would start looking at alternatives. Last year I bought a cheap belt with four plastic bottles, this functions, but is NOT comfortable to say the least.

Now I remember running in the military with a backpack, this was not especially fun, but perhaps it was because it was generally a 50-60lb pack plus all the other things I had to carry – good training for pack mules. The CamelBak looks comfortable, does anyone have one or have any comments about them?

Monday, March 07, 2005

Spring Fever or Temporary Insanity?

Today I felt completely recovered from my long run on Saturday. The only problem is that I ate too much yesterday and it showed on the scales this morning – 78Kg, 2Kg more than Friday (is that possible ). Although disappointed, I know that this will probably be gone tomorrow if I can stay on my diet today.

Anyway the sun was shining all afternoon with temperatures reaching almost 40°F, so by the time I got home I was primed and ready to rock ‘n’ roll. The snow was gone from the asphalt and gravel covered portions of my route, and almost gone from the woods – traction was excellent! I cruised along my 12K route averaging 9:31/mile, which is about a minute faster than normal and just 37 seconds slower than my half-marathon pace. Although this was probably an act of insanity with a half-marathon coming up Sunday, somehow it was in me and had to come out. Afterward I felt better than I have for a long time – completely satisfied that I had a good workout – YES!

Oh by the way, let's go back to the insanity issue, did I say I was wearing new running shoes tonight? WHAT you ran like a spring chicken in love with NEW running shoes, ouch! Yup, first time I wore them running - Adidas Model whatever. But when I bought them I did it right, brought my old running shoes with me, ran the treadmill, let the shoe specialist check out my running form, listened to his recommendation, ran 10 minutes on the treadmill with them - results - no problems! Wow!

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Fast Recovery, but Cautious

Today I feel better, a little stiff and more tired than usual, but no aching muscles. I thank my better half for some excellent recovery food and for allowing me to fall apart on the couch for a couple hours yesterday afternoon.

I think I am going to slow down a bit this week on the running, because next Sunday is a half-marathon (Bienwald). I have already told myself that I am not going to try to break my P.R. on that run, as it is still too cold and they are reporting more snow this week. I think I need to just go and enjoy myself and run how I feel on that day.

I have three 12K runs planned before Sunday (M-W-F), but may just do two and take an extra rest day and/or do some crosstraining. I have pretty much decided to wait until September and just do one marathon this year. The winter keeps dragging on - I planted potatoes and onions the second week of March last year - this year the ground is still frozen.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

13 Miles and Broken

I ran about 22-24K today, a total of 2 hours 35 minutes. Somehow the combination of a too fast start and still slippery trails messed up my pace, I was very inconsistent. Usually, I can tell pretty close how far I run based on my time, today I’m so sure. I stopped twice, once to water a tree, and once to walk for 2-3 minutes while I ate a sport’s bar and tanked up on sport drink. But by the 2 hour point I was pooped, I had to really struggle to finish (good training for the marathon?).

As I write I feel the inconsistent pace - the back of my calves ache, and I have never been so worn out after a run. Two weeks ago I ran just a tad shorter distance but felt like I could keep going at least another few miles.

Why was it so different?

Two weeks ago I took two days of rest before my long run, this time only one. On Thursday I ran several minutes faster than normal, possibly a factor. Temperature and weather were very similar. The trail was very different – two weeks ago was a nice packed snow – this time a loose, slippery, powder base, with lots of uneven spots on the trails.

I had a lot of stress from work this week, lot’s of new projects coming in, longer hours. I was preoccupied this week on deciding whether to do two marathons this year – maybe all this had an effect 

Friday, March 04, 2005

Warmer weather, fat boy, marathon or bust!

I ran my 12KM route last night. The sun was out, the snow melting, temperatures reached 3°C - I ran several minutes faster than normal, 80 minutes.

I was thinking about my marathon(s) again as I was running. I leaning towards just doing one in September and maybe fill in with a couple half's.

I received an e-mail from a new friend that told me her marathon time, it was not what a lot of people would say was fast. I thought about that a lot.

I've been thick (okay fat) almost all my life, with the exception of 8 years in the military (borderline even then). In 2002 I decided to start running (at 110 Kg), I think I ran 100 meters and had to walk, home! I tried it again the next day and promptly gave up for 6 months. But during this time I lost 10 Kg and when I started up again, same 100 meters, I kept going run-walk-run-walk until I could run several kilometers at once.

Today I am down to 76 Kg and have run up to 25 KM at a stretch. My goals this year are to reach 72 Kg and to run my first marathon. I really don't care if I finish in 4:30 (expected time base on half) or 7:00. I just want to finish, I want to feel the feeling that I felt when I finished my first half-marathon, this "feeling great" feeling that I know people feel when they finished their marathon.

I don't think we should worry about things like "times" when we accomplish something for the first time that most people can only dream of. Of course 4:30 would be awesome, and I will try to accomplish this, but if I don't I have already promised myself there will be no negative vibes about it!

Most people in my office kind of gawk in amazement when I say "I ran 12 kilometers last night" for training, and many say "Oh, I could never do that". The same kind of shake their heads in bewilderment when I say I want to run a marathon. They just don't understand!

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Confessions of a Confused Runner

Yesterday was a no-run day, good thing to, as I got off work late. Normally, I start work at 6:45 a.m. and work to 3:30 p.m., which gets me home around 4 and on the trail by 4:30. When I do my 12K I get back shortly after my better half gets home from work.

Tonight I am running 12K, on Saturday I want to run 22-24K (up at 6 a.m.).

Decision time is near, I have to make a decision soon whether I am going to run the Mannheim marathon on May 21st. From the training side I think I can still build up to a 32K (20 mile) run by the first of May, which should get me over the finish line. On the other side I have already committed myself (i.e. signed up) for the Baden marathon on September 18th. I wonder if two is too much? More importantly is that my better half already believes that it is too much, so I am faced with possible negative vibes if I decide to run Mannheim. As a marathon is 60% a mind over matter game, negative vibes could potentially do me in.

Or am I just going nuts?


Confused in Stutensee

12K Run and a Lesson on Forestry

I ran my 12K route last night. I was pleasantly surprised to see that most of the paths through the woods were freshly ploughed. Methinks that the town plowed the paths so that the locals can do their logging. In Germany you can bid on a certain section of the forest and go in and cut the trees in your section, either the thinning’s for firewood or the adult trees for lumber. I guess this is highly controlled by typical German bureaucracy, probably a panel consisting of a forester, game warden, environmentalist, naturist, animal rights activist, a member of the local logging club and at least one from the town board.

This is not too far from the truth, wood is a valuable asset in Germany (i.e. expensive). I know when I was in the military we used to go on maneuvers in some of the training areas. After we were done doing our thing, a team similar to that described above went through the training area and assessed what damage we had done, and promptly send a bill for every tree, bush, pig and chicken to Uncle Sam.

Anyway the run went well, it was about -1°C (30°F), a slight breeze, but bearable. I finished in 84 minutes, which is about average. I only missed my old friend sunshine, I guess the sun had better things to do elsewhere.

Here is a breakdown of my 12K route:

2-3K asphalt path between the open fields leading from my town to the neighboring town (north).
1-2K gravel/mud path between the neighboring town and the woods where I run, open fields again (north).
2K dirt/mud path along the edge of said woods (north).
1K asphalt road through said woods (my fast track - west).
4K dirt/mud path though said woods (south)
1K dirt/mud path between two fields (south)
1K asphalt path (south)
1K gravel/mud path (south)
a couple hundred meters road/sidewalk

I’m pretty sure the route is over 12K, but I like to think of it as 12K, it's a mind thing - makes those half-marathon's seem a little bit shorter.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Cold Weather Running

As the temperatures drop to around 0°F at night I have started reading up on cold weather running.

First the good news: „People who exercise contract only one-quarter to one-half as many upper-respiratory illnesses as people who don’t.“ „Regular, moderate exercise like running produces positive changes in the immune system that help you avoid these illnesses.“ [The Cold War by Bob Cooper,]

The down side is that you can overdo it. „When you push your body without interruption for more than 90 minutes, the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine, which suppress immune function, gush out of your adrenal glands. Inflammatory cytokines, neutrophils, and monocytes (red-flag markers of physiological stress) take over your bloodstream, while your virus-fighting T cells and "natural killer cells" go into hiding. None of this is good. It doesn't make you sick on the spot, but for at least a few hours after the run, it makes your body as inviting to "bugs" as a porch light.“ [Bob Cooper again]

To remedy this you need to carb-up, cut back, get extra rest, and generally avoid sick people (kids especially are notorious carriers, no that doesn’t mean stay away from YOUR kids).

Most articles that I read agree that it is just as dangerous to wear too much as too little when temperatures drop below freezing. Once you start running, your core temperature will rise and stay elevated. Wear too much, and you’ll overheat. Wow is that logical or what?

The second rule seems to be to layering. Start with a thin, breathable base which pulls moisture away from your body. I like to wear a thin, long sleeve, turtleneck, synthetic sports shirt with a T-shirt over it. According to my research, below freezing one should add a mid-layer of lightweight fleece to keep the moisture away from your skin and to provide insulation – got one, wear it! The last layer should be a shell, which protects you from the wind, rain or snow – but still allows moisture to escape your layering system. Wow I’ve been dressing like this since I was a kid in central N.Y., kinda of like a common sense thing where I come from.

I have tried a couple high-tech fabrics this year, such as stretch nylon – it breathes better than I do I think. I also bought a running jacket (on sale last Spring) with a “brushed polyester lining for extra warmth and a water-repellant nylon shell for protection from wind and water.” It also has removable sleeves, so I can wear it on those crazy days when no one can figure out if it’s hot, cold or what’sup.

I’ve been drooling over the YAKTRAX the last few days since the snow and ice have been accumulating. But I figure by the time I order them and finally see UPS I be running in mud again. I wonder if they have summer sales (yeah, I’m cheap).

In warm weather I wear thin running socks, but lately I have been experimenting with various combinations of every kind of sock I own. Here is a sampling:

1. Thick white cotton sport socks: blistermania. Ouch!
2. Thin running socks with white cotton socks over them – much better, but a bit snug with my running shoes.
3. Semi-thick wool socks: see comment 1.
4. Polyester/Nylon dress socks: too thin, cold feet, a couple blisters.
5. Thin running socks under the above dress socks: worked well until the snow was over 4” deep.
6. Knee-high trail socks (call wandering socks here in Germany) under the above dress socks: very good, especially in snow over 4”.
7. A thicker pair of running socks: great, but costly.

I was never one to let a little snow, rain, mud, wind, hurricanes whatever stop me from running. It’s only a question of having the right outfit. Few people seem to believe me on this one.

"You're obsessed with running!"

Okay, I admit it I’m obsessed with running. Why do I bring this up? Because my wife reminded me of this last night.

„All you think about is running!“

Okay, so where’s the problem? I mean, just because the only thing that I read anymore has a running shoe on the cover, the only clothes I buy anymore are running clothes, the last four pairs of shoes I bought were running shoes and I can’t pass the sports drink section of the supermarket without stopping to read the labels. Does this make me obsessed?

I have noticed that my circle of friends is gradually reforming. Those that like to hear/talk about running have made their way to the front, and those that have heard me talk too much about running (is this POSSIBLE?) seem to avoid me. At least my boss understands me (a runner), he volunteered me to help organize our company team for a 8.8889 run in the Spring. This has had positive results already, I have noticed that more and more of my co-workers are running these days, mostly when they see me coming – because they know I’m going to ask them if they want to participate on the company team. Hmmm ,maybe I’m being a bit too enthusiastic.

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