Saturday, April 30, 2005

An Almost Perfect Long Run

I had a really great long run this morning! I got about 5:45 a.m. and had a light breakfast, and drank about a liter of water. I took care of my "morning toilet" as my English coworker likes to say, then streched, grabbed my CamelBak and hit the trail about 6:30. It was a fresh 12C/53F, but I wore my shorter running pants and short sleeves - good thing it was up to 23C/74F by the time I got back.

I started out with a nice comfortable 6:30/K (10:30/M), I didn't feel particularily energetic, but I had no trouble keeping this pace. After about 30 minutes one of the straps that holds a pouch full of sports bars broke on the back of my CamelBak, so I wasted about 4 minutes doing a quick fix. As it turned out this was the only negative part of my entire run (thank the good lord!).

I followed my normal route for about 10K's then turned off and headed over to the next town's running club's trail. There were already a few walkers out doing their thing, this was kind of cool - it's nice seeing other people once in a while - especially when your're running for 3 1/2 hours! I wound around their 11K trail that led throught the woods, then headed out across the fields. The sun was out in full force, it was beautiful. It's asparagus season in our area and the field workers were out picking already. I remember my neighbor telling me once that most of the field workers come from Poland and Rumania - the pay is really low!

After about 2 1/2 hours I headed back over to my normal running trail and followed it in the reverse direction back to the house. I really wasn't so sure how far I had run exactly, so I took an extra loop around the field behind our house before coming in. Total time 3:38:10, I would guess that I ran about 33-34K's/21 miles.

But I feel good, okay as good as you can for having just run 21 miles. I took a 1 minute walking break after the 10K point, then every 7-8 K's after that. I think this helps my legs from cramping up so bad. I drank my 2 liter CamelBak dry while running, plus killed about 3 sports bars. I think I could have run at least another half hour without to much complaining.

All in all I am very satisfied with my last long run. It is definetly good for my confidence level. I realize that the last 10K on my marathon will probably be the hardest thing that I have asked this old body to fight through, but I think these old bones will cooperate. If I can get past the mental thing we'll be just fine. Happy running!!

Friday, April 29, 2005

Just Trying to Stay Relaxed

Today I am just trying to stay relaxed. I spend an hour this morning going through my many projects at work trying to prioritize everything, lots of work, but one thing at a time.

I increased my calorie intake over the last 24 hours, bad for my diet, but I feel better today. I have been trying to maintain my weight, or even lose a couple pounds, but with my high mileage I think I was starting to borderline and freak out. I need to increase my energy level today anyway as I have my long run tomorrow morning. Tonight is pasta on the menu, along with a piece of meat and some veggies. It has been raining some today, so I imagine tomorrow morning will be humid, hopefully not as bad as last week. In any case I am looking forward to my run tomorrow, it will be a good test for the BIG DAY. My goal is to run three and a half hours, this should work out to around 32K/30M if I maintain my normal long run pace.

How's your training look for the weekend? Anybody racing?

Thursday, April 28, 2005

This is Why I Run

In my earlier post today I had hit a low, I had just gotten out of a lengthy discussion with an important jerk at work who had trouble expressing exactly what he wanted with something I was preparing for him. After three zillion revisions and a pint of my blood he finally settled on a version that I think is crap – enough said.

Anyway when I got home I was wiped out, I mean zero energy, pooped. So I did probably the smartest thing that I could have done, I downed an energy bar, took a few swigs of my favorite sports bar, warmed up, saddled up and hit the trail. After an easy 10-15 minutes I fell into a comfortable tempo, stopped looking at my stop watch and just let my feet and heart just carry me along. Somehow the weather was just right, the tempo just right, I let my head clear – by the time I got home I was feeling so well that I considered doing my long run tonight.

But folks this is why I run, to rid myself of those little piles of poop that collect in my head all day and start clogging up the system until I feel like screaming or writing blog alerts that indicate I’m losing my mind. When I get out there and find that special groove like tonight, I feel like I can just glide right along forever. Gosh I needed that tonight!

But bloggers I appreciate you comments too. Let’s face it we all have our ups and downs, and sometimes it just means everything to be able say “hey universe – life sucks in the moment” and hear a little blogger voice come back with “yikes. Hang in there!”

p.s. Thanks N & M – I love you guys!

Tripping over Negative Emotions

So 23 days 4 hours 49 minutes and 10 seconds before my first marathon. Today I am on a down swing emotionally. I am getting piles upon piles of new work at work, our garden keeps trying to get my attention, my training is maxing out, my wife's work contract expires in 10 weeks. Lots of stuff in the head, coupled with pushing the limit physically. I haven’t slept good the last couple nights…it’s a hard week.

On the other side after this weekend I can start cutting down on the mileage, we have a holiday next Thursday and my company is closed on Friday, so I’ll have time to catch up on the weeding, get a couple hours more sleep and maybe even relax. Okay my Baden Mile Run is coming up next Saturday, but I can do that in my sleep, I only have to chant “no need for speed” as I go.

Work, well it almost normal to be surrounded by piles of work, I’d worry if it wasn’t that way. After my marathon I can put in lots of overtime:) Now if only my wife would have some luck finding a new job – at least she gets up to a year’s unemployment. Okay, I feel better now, I can get back to work, thanks for listening.

Last Long Run Plans and other Tapering Thoughts

Today is supposed to be warm (21C/70F) and sunny, I can’t wait to get out on my 14K/8.7M trail tonight. I want to run at almost recovery speed so that I don’t wear my legs done before my long run this weekend. Speaking of which, one more obstacle in the way before I can start tapering. Saturday is 32K/20M Day, my longest long run on the training schedule.

Our good weather people are predicting 26C/79F, sunny and warm (HOT). Heat wave city! But I plan on starting out about 7 a.m., so should be back around 10:30, before it gets too warm. My goal is a 6:30/K (10:30/Mile) pace, this time I have to be careful not to get carried away again and push it too hard. With rising temperatures it is better to take a little longer rather than overdo it and run a higher risk of injury (especially this close to the BIG DAY). I am thinking about running my 14K route twice, plus an extra loop around my old 4K route. Although this will be boring as can be, it offers the advantage of a fairly accurate 32K distance, plus the fact that I will be swinging by the house twice in case I need to refill my CamelBak or drop off a layer of clothing. I also want to try a slightly larger breakfast about 30-40 minutes before the run, this worked out well on a couple long runs.

I am still looking over a few different tapering ideas. I’ve pretty much decided to limit myself to two 5-8K (3-5M) runs the last week and maybe a 15 minute jog two days before the marathon. My body is already calling for a rest, the last couple weeks have been intensive, particularly with the high humidity we have been having.

Hal Higdon mentions in one of his books that during the tapering weeks novices should start reducing their mileage rapidly, but should try to maintain their normal training pace (e.g. speed). He goes on to say that more experienced runners can do a little speed work, but does not recommend it for the first-timer. Ummm…sounds good to me.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Baden Mile Run - May 7th

As I have mentioned in previous posts, on May 7th seventy runners, walkers or wheelchair racers from my company are participating in the 16th annual Badischemeile (Baden Mile) run. Last year there were about 2600 participants in the 8.88889K main run and about 300 kids that ran either the 400, 1300 or 2600 meter races. This year organizers are expecting 3500-4000 participants.

Anyway today we received our company running shirts, real Zelcon water-wicking running shirts, not cheap T-shirts like last year. Of course, dark blue with company logo front and back.

Many of the participants from my company plan on meeting after the race at a local watering hole. Should be a blast! I think the hard core partiers closed the place down last year.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Humidity Sucks, Dehydration is my Enemy; Tapering II

Tonight was a nice easy 14K/8.7M run on calendar. It rained all day, temperatures were in the high 60’s (F) and just as I left for my run the sun came out in full force. We’re talking major sauna action here. So of course with the sun shining brightly, I was filled with energy so took off like a rocket and played dodge the mud puddle finishing the first 10K’s in 54:45. Sweating like some hairy swamp monster crawling out of the cess pool, I decided I better slow down a little about that time, as I didn’t have any water with me (it was only a 14K run:) About 10 minutes later I started getting a rerun of my long run flop of a couple weeks back - that feeling like someone had let the air out of my tires or something. So I slowed waaay down till a snail ran by me and waddled on home. After drinking about 10 gallons of water, eating a sports bar and downing sports drink, I was fine again. I finished the 14K/8.7M run in 1:18:22, despite walking for a minute or so, that’s a pace of 5:36/K (9:01/M).

I am still thinking the trouble with the long run a couple weeks back was the onset of dehydration. The feeling that I got right before I started walking tonight was exactly the same as by the long run. Of course all the experts, wise people, and anyone with common sense will tell you that you should slow down when its so humid. My tiny brain tells me to run fast it seems – bad brain – whack!

Anyway an hour and half later (and many liters of fluid later) I feel just fine, no pain, no cramps, fine! Maybe Thursday I’ll bring my CamelBak, hmmm…

Saturday is my last long run, the weather forecast, more rain, more humidity. I am already psyched up for a nice slow pace, easy 32K/20M … really!

So moving on, a couple words about my tapering plan. I have been following an intensified version of a training plan for novice runners out of Hal Higdon’s book “Marathon – The Ultimate Training Guide”.

According to his plan the last three weeks (tapering) should go like this (K’s are rounded off):

Third week: 1 x 5M/8K; 1 x 8M/13K; 1 x 4M/6.5K; 1 x 12M/20K
Second week: 1 x 4M/.5K; 1 x 6M/10K; 1 x 3M/5K; 1 x 8M/13K
Last week: 1 x 3M/5K; 1 x 4M/6.5K; 1 x 2M/3.2K; marathon

I try to run every other day, which works out to 3 days one week and 4 the next. With my slightly longer distances on the shorter runs I still have ended up with at least as many miles as Hal’s plan (usually more). But his last three weeks and what I wrote about don't jive, umm maybe I should reconsider??

I am really starting to feel all the miles/kilometres that I have been putting in lately. I find that I have to go to bed earlier and earlier. So I kinda look forward to starting to taper after the weekend. Was it Hal that said after all the training the marathon is easy in comparison. Hmmm…

How Do You Define Tapering?

Tonight is an easy 14K/8.7M run on the plan. Saturday is my last long run for the training cycle, 32K/20M. I’m not to worried about it, I pretty much know the pace I need to run (learned the hard way) and only need to make the necessary dietary and fluid preparations.
Then its taper time!

And herein lies the problem, how much should I run during the last three weeks before the marathon? Here is my interpretation of tapering:

Third week out: 2 x 14K/8.7M, 1 x 8.88889K/5.5M (Baden Mile Run)
Second week out: 1 x 14K, 2 x 8K/5M
Last week: 2 x 8K

I will also throw in a couple half-hour walks during lunch and daily stretching to keep the joints from rusting.

Do you think all of this is too much or too little?

Monday, April 25, 2005

My Better Half

Me, me, me, always talking about me...well today I want to introduce my lovely wife of almost 17 years (next week), Elvira. She is the concrete that holds this old ruin together!

Nerves of Steel or Jello?

I’ve been reading a few blogs lately expressing thoughts about pre-race jitters. I think this is a normal reaction, for some a healthy way to cross-check systems control, for others an extremely emotional (and even physical) experience resulting in complete physiological meltdown.

With my marathon coming up in a few weeks this is becoming a burning issue for me, so I thought I would start giving myself a pep talk. You’re welcome to join in.

The absolute best advice that I have heard so far on this subject was from Chris Brogan who said:

"Try not to fart loudly during the race. Focus on that one thing above all else. Running will figure itself out."

If you think about it these truly are words of wisdom! I mean, we run, we lift, we push, we pull, we train, we cross-train, blah-blah, only to become a bundle of nerves the day before the big race? What’s up with that? Have we no trust in ourselves? Our training? Our newly hardened bodies of steel?

Now I’m talking to myself here too, as my first marathon comes into view I am daily battling with these thoughts. Did I train enough? What if I go out too fast? What if I don't eat right? Can’t sleep? Forget my chip, my number, my pants, my head?

Before we know it our hardened bodies of steel are being led by bundle of jello nerves, wiggling from one extreme to another in the course of about a hundred milli-seconds. I’ve probably experienced just about every color of the sprectrum on this one before one race or another, but slowly I’m learning to deal with it. I’ve come up with a few thoughts that seem to help me:

Can anybody add to this? Amen!

Humidity is Not my Friend; Mannheim Facts

Yesterday my ankles were a little sore from the walk over the cobble-stone streets of Mannheim on Saturday. It’s kind of funny, I can run for 3+ hours without any trouble, but an hour or two walking around the hard streets of most inner cities and stores really messes my legs up.

In any case I ran for 85 minutes yesterday afternoon. I decided that it was time for a chance in scenery, so I set my stop watch and headed off in the opposite direction than I normally run, over the paths linking the fields, through a couple neighboring towns and back again. It was fitfully humid again, cloudy, and no wind. It didn’t feel so warm when I started out so I was dressed too warm. I didn’t feel like carrying my running jacket so kept it on. I was sweating like Niagara Falls most of the way and wishing that I had brought some water along. But I kept the pace down and had quite an enjoyable run despite the thirst. I have been running my normal trail since January, so it was nice to see something different for a change.

I found a race report for the Mannheim marathon from last year. In 2004 there were about 2500 runners that ran the marathon. Here are the statistics for 2005 so far:

2479 – Marathon
2044 – Team Marathon
347 – Inline (rollerblade) Half-marathon
56 – Hand bike/Wheelchair Marathon
31 – Mini- Marathon

Last year the route consisted of two rounds around the city and surround area. This year the marathon and team marathon route first loops to the north-east part of Mannheim (towards Seckenheim) then back through the middle, looping toward the neighboring city of Ludwigshafen to the south-west. The inline half-marathon starts in Ludwigshafen and follows the second half of the marathon loop. Organizers are hoping the skaters will be finished before the first runners make it to this part of the route. I guess they had a problem with this last year.

So anyway, I am already starting to feel the nervous energy that I normally encounter before a race – and this 26 days before the event. I can just imagine how the next few weeks are going to be. I KNOW my wife will be glad when this is over, she already says I am starting to climb the walls at home – wait until the tapering starts ;-)

Sunday, April 24, 2005

A Day in Mannheim

We had a nice sight-seeing trip in the City of Mannheim yesterday, site where my first marathon will take place. Mannheim lies about an hour north of our town. The marathon will start in the middle of the city in the Rose Garden area. This was actually very easy to find, we turned off the main Autobahn, then followed the highway straight into the city. There are numerous parking garages, so we had no trouble finding a parking place even on a busy Saturday morning.

We parked in the first parking garage that we found and set out to find the Mannheim Congress Centrum (MCC), where the start packet will be passed out. Coming out of the pedestrian exit from the parking garage we turned around and realized we were standing in front of what we were looking for! We had unknowingly parked in the MCC parking garage! We quickly located the main entrance, noted the street and set out to find the Rose Garden and the Start – 200 feet later we were there – wow!

So my stuff was done, so we set out to find the shopping area. A couple hundred feet more and we found the beginning of the street containing the main shopping area of Mannheim, hundreds of shops and large store selling about anything you can imagine. So for the next couple hours or so, I played tag along while my wife did her thing. I could see she was enjoying this, at least one of us was :) I new at this point that I was only there to carry things, so I tried to carry on my function as cheerfully as possible. Luckily (for me), my wife grew hungry so we made our way back to the Rosen Garden to a restaurant that we noticed on our way through.

Now from time to time I love to eat a good steak, unfortunately most steaks in Germany just can’t match a good USDA hunk of beef (steak in Canada is good too). My wife loves to eat baked potatoes so we were one in our decision to eat at the Buffalo Steak House, just around the corner from the MCC. Hungry from my wife’s power shopping we enjoyed a meal of steak, baked potatoes and unlimited salad bar – I almost felt like I was back home! The steak was surprisingly good. The good news is that they will be open late the night of the marathon.

We chatted with the waitress for a bit about the marathon, she mentioned that the city will be closing the streets off quite early for the marathon, so we should try to be inside the city middle by 1 p.m. (the marathon starts at 6:15 p.m.). Now my wife started thinking out loud about what we (she) can do for 5+ hours before the marathon and 4-5 hours after the marathon, especially if the weather’s nasty. So we talked about it and decided to check on a hotel for that night.

Now when we drove in we noticed one down the street, so after the meal we walked to the hotel to enquire. Yes they still have rooms available, the price was reasonable, we can check in any time after noon on the 21st, so we booked a room. The hotel said they have parking available, where else, in the parking garage where our car was. The MCC is the building behind the hotel - they have skyline that connects to the Congress building - the Start is about 2-300 feet away from the hotel. I would say that pretty much takes care of logistics!

So after this little adventure we took a nice leisurely walk around the Rose Garden, they have really beautiful fountains, the tulips were in bloom, the sun was shining, what a finish!

Eventually we made it back home, my wife collapsed on the couch for a nap, I took an hour ride on my bicycle. Had to work off all the food I had for lunch.

I did see a little bit of the route that I will be running on the marathon, all flat, even the bridges are almost the same level as the streets. It appears that most of the route is either asphalt or concrete, which will be kind of hard on the legs. I would prefer a little dirt or forest ways. Oh well, I will definetely have to make sure I don't go out too fast. Happy running:)

Marathon countdown 26 days 23 hours 13 minutes 10 seconds

Friday, April 22, 2005

Marathon Planning

I was talking to a friend in my company this morning that ran a marathon last year, and is currently training with a running club for a marathon in June. He did a quick analysis of the training plan that I have been following and pronounced me fit for a first marathon. He offered several tips for getting over the finish line:

- Start slow.
- Run the first half slower than the second.
- Drink at least a little at every station.
- After 10K start eating bananas or whatever is offered every repeat every 10K.
- Be careful not to get too close to the sidelines, someone tripped him up on his last HM.
- Don’t be afraid to take walk breaks.
- Bring your own snacks, sometimes they run out, especially important for slower runners!
- Don’t worry about finding a toilet along the way, just whip it out and pee where you please (but not on the running path please :-O
- Forget about speed, just run and have FUN! A PR becomes relevant with Marathon II

Like me, you’ve probably heard a lot of this before, but it still helps hearing it from someone who has been there.

I was looking over the website for the Mannheim Marathon. Every 5K is an aid station with sport drinks, water, bananas, etc. Beginning at the 2.5K there is a water station every 5K. So there will be something to drink every 2.5K. Based on this I think I will leave my CamelBak at home.

Tomorrow we are going to Mannheim so I can check out the area and, as promised, my wife can check out the stores (glad I don’t have a long run scheduled this week ;-)

Tonight I am going to take an easy run on my 14K/8.7M loop, then kill some weeds in the garden. Have a nice weekend!

Marathon countdown: 29 days 9 hours 26 minutes 6 seconds

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Raindrops Keep Fallin’

A very fitting title to my run last night. Yesterday it rained the whole day, a slow nerve-provoking drizzle that super saturated the landscape, and probably led most hobby-joggers to pursue other sports or reform the surface of the sofa. Of course this old raised-on-the-farm, front-line soldier doesn’t know the meaning of bad weather, so suited up appropriately against the challenging weather and headed out for a 14K/8.7M recovery run.

The first few K’s were asphalt or crushed stone, so presented no real hazard other than a few wide puddles and the risk of slipping on a trail-blazing snail. By KM 3 it got interesting, old tractor trail through the fields, slippery mud and deep puddles – hmmm do I see trail shoes in my future. Through the fields, along the wood line, than another KM of asphalt. Then I turned the corner and plunged into the forest, fairly solid trails – crushed stone here and there, centuries of fallen evergreen needles, mud, leaves – soft, springy, joy!

The air was clean, fresh, full of spring smells, newness, nice. The trees were greening, the evergreens fragrancing – the forest still, only the sound of gentle falling rain, an occasional bird singing and the rhythmic falling of my feet. How lucky I am to experience this miracle of life on the run. How can anyone stay home on a day like this?

The countdown continues: 30 Days 7 Hours 49 Minutes 28 Seconds

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Recovery, German Junk Day and other Nonsense

I did some light stretching last night, I am quite stiff after my double long run adventure this weekend. I wouldn’t recommend this for most people, I know I took a big risk. But my body seems to be dealing with it, as I said I am stiff, but no real pain – I can even climb stairs. Some of you will understand that :)

Today is “Junk Day” in my area of Germany. For any of you who may have been connected to the military overseas in Germany you probably heard about this. About 3-4 times a year the residents can clean out their old furniture and junk and set it out on the street at night, whereas it will be picked up by the garbage collectors the next day and recycled. As some people junk is another’s treasure, the streets in my town were busy last night with people picking through the “junk”. I took advantage of the opportunity and threw out all my old plywood cut-offs from my woodworking shop. A half-hour later I saw some guy filling the back of his car with some of the better pieces. I took a look around town on my bicycle. I like to pick up old wooden chairs and restore them – I can sell them at the flea market in the summer.

Tonight I have a nice slow 14K/8.7Mi recovery run on the calendar, maybe it will help get rid of some of the stiffness. I have one more long run coming up on the 30th, a 32K/20Mi run. Then tapering until May 21.

Oh, the 8.88889K/5.5Mi “Baden Mile” (Badischemeile) run is coming up on 3 p.m. Saturday, May 7th. I hear a lot of discussion about it during lunch lately. There are 70 people from my company signed up, 66 runners, 3 walkers, and 1 wheelchair participant. We should be getting the running shirts with the company logo next week. Most of the company participants are planning to meet at a nearby restaurant after the race, we did this last year also, a few stayed until closing time. Sounds like fun! Happy running :->

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Mannheim or Bust

Yup, all signed up! After 13 weeks of marathon training behind me I have decided not to wait until September for my marathon, but rather go for it on May 21st. In two weeks is my last long run (32K/20Mi), then it’s taper-time until the big day.

The Mannheim marathon is an evening run, starting at 6:15 p.m. in front of the Rose Garden Congress Centrum in the middle of the city. The city has a lot of festivities planned to coincide with the event, including various music and cultural events. The race itself begins in the city middle, flows through the streets of the city, crossing over the Neckar River, following the river in the direction of Heidelberg, before looping around to the other side of Mannheim and back to the Rose Garden.

Saturday I’m taking my wife shopping in Mannheim. The main shopping area is just down the street from the Rose Garden :)

Monday, April 18, 2005

Taking care of Unfinished Business

Being a stubborn, ornery, strong willed type I could not relax until I did something about my rather disappointing run on Saturday. So ignoring all logical training sense (and maybe common sense) I strapped on my shoes tonight and ran 30K's (18.6 miles)! My time 3:17:34 - pace 6:35/K (10:36/mile).

My legs ache, but my confidence has been restored:)

p.s. Look for number 3140 on May 21st! Can anybody guess where :->

Trail Running Part II

In an effort to distract my mind from considering another long run tonight I was looking over a list of trail runs that are offered in my area. I think I found a worthy goal for next summer: The International Mountain Run Contest in May, 2006.

The distance: 9.5 Kilometers (5.9 miles)
Difference in altitude: 805 meters (2641 feet)
Course record: 39:12 (male); 47:10 (female)

The advertising says something to the effect that this run is not for the faint-hearted. I know this trail, I can hardly imagine walking the trail, let alone running. Like I said it's a worthy goal for next year:)

This run is one in a series of mountain runs that comprise the International Black Forest Mountain Run Contest. Trail running at it's best.

My first problem is to find some hills to train on. "Hey honey, we have to sell the house and move to the Black Forest..."

Relaxation is an Afternoon on the Rhine

Yesterday was ladies day and my wife wanted to go to the Rhine River for lunch. The Rhine is about 20 minutes from us by car, on nice days we sometimes we take the bikes. As it had rained all morning we elected to drive the car. My wife likes to go to a cafeteria-style restaurant located near a ferry crossing. They have a nice terrace set up where you can sit and watch the boats and barges flow by. So we had a nice lunch and walked along the river for about an hour. The sun came out off and on, turning it into a sauna outside, but still it was nice. A lot of people were out walking, taking advantage of the break in weather. We passed fisherman trying their luck, pairs sitting along the banks holding hands, plus a flood of dog walkers, Sunday walkers and other assorted types. Hmm didn’t notice any joggers…

We stopped back at the restaurant for cake and coffee – a very typical thing to do in Germany on a Sunday afternoon. All and all a very relaxing day, somehow I really needed this after my frustrated run from the day before.

Tonight my wife has her English class, so I want to run for awhile. I find myself having to resist the urge to try my 30K run again tonight. Is this normal? As I write it is 33 days, 7 hours and 40 minutes until the Mannheim Marathon – did I sign up? No not yet. Am I going too, well… ;)

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Day After

So how do I feel the day after my bad day? Pretty darn good actually, no pain, no muscle cramps – the muscles are a little sore, but that is perfectly normal for having run almost 30K yesterday. Yesterday I spent the morning in school, learning what “not to do” before and during a long run.

One thing that I learned is that sometimes your body doesn’t always let you know when it’s time to slow down. Or perhaps our emotions, ego, or energy just override any warnings.

Yesterday I felt really good the first 20+ K’s, my mind was saying “Boy this is great, I bet I can finish in 3 hours today!” My body went along for a long time. But it’s kind of like when you don’t check the oil in your car, sooner or later that red signal light is going to come on. And if you ignore the signals, the car will eventually quit. On the other side if you check the oil before you go on your trip, let the motor warm up before you speed, and watch for any warning signals you will probably get to where you’re going. I only have to remember that next time.

For any of you who haven’t run or trained for a marathon yet, keep a running log! This has proved to be invaluable in keeping track of the little details. I write all kinds of junk down, weight, temperature, weather – sometimes clothes I wear when I try something new, what I eat, when I eat blah-blah. After a while you can start seeing patterns of what works and not.

So the big question remaining – am I going to run the Mannheim Marathon on May 21st? For now let me just say I am taking my wife out to lunch in a few minutes, maybe the subject will come up:-)

p.s. I love you guys, thanks for the comments, advice and words of encouragement!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Ever Had a Bad Run Day?

Ever had a bad run day? I mean where somehow nothing comes together? Well this morning was mine, and it had to be a long run. I was going to run 30K/18.7Mi, but by the 24K point I started falling apart, no energy, legs like lead. I started taking walk breaks, this got me a little further, but somewhere between KM 28 and 29 I just couldn't get myself to run anymore. Shoulders sagging I walked/jogged the last 1-2K's.

So what happened? Well, I made a lot of mistakes, the sum of which probably resulted in my "hitting the wall".

1. I have been dieting this week, my energy level was low.
2. I skipped breakfast and hit the trail after only drinking water.
3. I waited until the 21KM point before I had an energy bar (last long run at 10K).
4. I ran way too fast for the first 22K - 6:00/K (9:39/Mi) - last long run I averaged 6:41/K (10:46).
5. I didn't take any walking breaks until it was too late.
6. I started doing 30 minute walks during lunch this week.
7. I was on my feet for three hours last night weeding in the garden.
8. It rained through the night, it was almost 90% humidity when I ran.
9. I was almost an hour into the run before I started drinking water from my CamelBak.

Even with my crawling home I still averaged 6:19K/10:10Mi. Somehow the speed demons got hold of me and I got carried away, right up until my body reminded me that I am mere mortal. But I think I made the right decision to take it really slow the last couple K's, at least I didn't get any injuries.

Now a couple hours later, after a warm shower, food, drink, and a nap - I am feeling pretty good. A little tired, my legs are a little sore, but otherwise no problem.

I'm feeling kind of stupid in the moment, I should have known better than to try a faster pace at this point in my training. Dumb dumb dumb - I was actually running close to my projected marathon race pace for the first 22K.

The high humidity was also a factor. The air was thick and heavy, a lot of pollen in the air. I remember actually pouring water (from my sweat) out of the sleeves of my running wind breaker. Makes me wonder if I was starting to get dehydrated...

It looks like it's going to rain any minute, so I guess I have some time today to think about whether to sign up for the Mannheim Marathon on May 21. I'm not one to let a bad day throw me, particularily when it is obvious to me the mistakes that I made. Yesterday I was feeling very confident, almost overconfident - today I reminded that I have a difficult task ahead of me and that I need to proceed with care.

p.s. I appreciate my long distant cheerleaders, I can not express how much it means to me that you guys take the time to listen to me, maybe send a tip or word of encouragement. Gets me all choked up!

Friday, April 15, 2005

Yeah, I run a little...

With my 30K/18.7M run coming up on Saturday morning I am taking two nights off from running. Last night my wife felt like staying home so I took the scooter out to our garden and cut the grass. The weather has been nice lately so I spent a couple hours weeding, loosing up all the garden beds and cleaning the grass out between the stones in the walkway.

We have about 70-80 gardens in our club, so there were several neighbors coming and going. The most I haven’t seen since last fall, so I had several people ask me if I had lost a lot of weight over the winter. Now I lost 3Kg/7lbs since last summer, which is not world shaking, but I guess I have toned up considerably.

So anyway since I have lost at least a couple pounds, I said “Yeah, I lost a few pounds!” Almost everyone who asked said, “I think quite a few pounds, have you been dieting?” “Well not really, I just kind of watch what I eat, no beer, limited sweets…” “Do you do sports?” “Oh, I run a little.”

Now my neighbor, who also works in my company, knows I have been training for a marathon. He was getting a big kick out of this the whole time. Finally after about the third person said something to me he comes over to me and asked why I don’t tell the people that I am training for a marathon. Good question! I told “Oh, I don’t know,” and left it at that.

But as I was pulling weed I thought about what he asked. With some people I just love to talk about my running, but generally these are people who share at least some interest. But with others I kind of shy away from talking about my running and especially my racing. It is almost like if I tell them I am going to run a marathon then I will have to meet their expectations of a marathon runner.

Generally speaking the German attitude about sports that I have experienced is that you must always give 110%, if you can’t or are not willing then you shouldn’t be doing it. This is changing in a lot of sports, with running for example, you are seeing more and more “normal” people at the races – but the attitude is still dominant.

So anyway I guess I don't want any stress about the whole thing. I rather just wait, do my marathon, then just wear the T-shirt and see if anyone notices:)

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Cross-country or Trail Races

I was talking with a guy from another part of my company during lunch, he's into trail racing. He said there are loads of these races in the Black Forest every year. I put a yellow sticky on my calendar for next year, I definetly want to try a couple!

How Fast Should I Run My First Marathon?

As I ran my 14K/8.7M run last night I found myself wondering how fast I should try to run my first marathon. I have been running my long runs with an average pace of about 6:30/K (10:30Mi), which would bring me across the finish in 4 hours 30 minutes. On the other side I ran my last half-marathon (HM) in 1:53:29, or an average pace of 5:23/K (8:39/Mi). If I had a really good day and could maintain a pace like this for the entire marathon I could finish in under 4 hours.

Anyway I ran these thoughts back and forth through my head during most of my run. As I had run at almost race pace on Tuesday night, I concentrated on a slower, easier pace, averaging 6:05/K (9:39/Mi). As I stretched after the run I thought about the run I had just completed. The 6 minute/kilometer pace was comfortable, actually feeling rather slow after some of the runs I have been doing lately. My muscles were tired, but this was probably because I ran two consecutive days, not having my normal recovery day in between runs.

I am thinking that my HM race pace is too fast for my first marathon, I was pretty wiped out after the last HM race. I think that I should strive for a 6:00 pace, which hopefully will leave me with enough energy to finish.

I have a question for anyone that has run a marathon, how did your actual race pace compare to your training pace? Or has anyone read what the goal should be?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Baden Mile on my Mind; Body Primed!

While sitting on the train on the way home from work yesterday I was thinking about my upcoming 8.88889K/5.5M Baden Mile race on May 7th that I am doing with my company “team”. My time last year was 51:21, a pace of 5:35/K (9:07/Mi). This year’s goal is to finish in 47 minutes, which would be a pace of about 5:15/K (8:27/Mi). My pace for my last HM was 5:23/K (8:39/Mi), so I think I can I can meet my goal with relative ease, that is without beating myself to death. I thought about doing some speed work over the next few weeks, but the thought of pulling muscles at this point makes me weary of doing this. With a little speed work I could probably run the race in 45 minutes or less, but I have other goals to meet in May.

Anyway when I got home I suited up and hit the trail, running my 14K/8.7Mi route. It was warmer than it had been for a couple days, about 16C/60F, but cloudy with a slight wind. As I ran the first few minutes I munched on a new MAXIM sport bar (carmel), the same kind that a lot of the marathons have available in my area. I find it quite hard to run and eat, but these bars don’t have large chunks of nuts or fruit so go down much easier than some. I have learned to take really small bites, then I’m not left gasping for air if I am trying to swallow too long. I'm been meaning to try gels, but they are only available in some of the sports stores in the city nearby.

I felt good yesterday so was cruising along at a good pace. I tried not to look at my watch so much, but rather listen to what my body was saying, an excellent thing to do on occasion. Well anyway my body said run, so I did. I finished my run in 78:14, with an average pace of 5:35/K (9:00/Mi), really close to my HM race pace. With my 30K/18.7M long run coming up Saturday probably not a smart thing to do - I'll let you know if it was a mistake:)

This morning my legs are a little tired, but no aches, pains or other complaints. I my calendar is an easy-pace 14K run on Thursday night, but I am thinking about doing it tonight so I have two days rest before my long run on Saturday.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Pre-race Jitters for a Training Run?

For some reason I am starting to get butterflies in my stomach about my 30K/18.6M long run on Saturday. This is the one that will determine if I run the Mannheim Marathon on May 21st! I actually have one more long run (32K/20M) run on April 30th, but I have to sign up for the marathon by April 29th. So Saturday is a big day for this old body.

I want to run my 14K/8.6M run tonight and maybe a shorter run tomorrow night, but at a nice easy pace – no speed work this week. I have already ordered pasta for the latter part of the week from my personal chef. I disinfected my CamelBak last night ... trying to get everything ready for the long run. I’ve never had pre-race nervousness for a training run before, is this normal? Can anyone relate to this, or am I finally losing my mind?

p.s. I found a neat FLASH map of the Mannheim Marathon route. Push the button "Marathon - Strecke" and follow the blue marker. Pictures of some of the highlights along the way will pop-up (you probably need a FLASH player).

The link:

Monday, April 11, 2005

My Scooter

AJ (Brave Athena) has been looking at scooters lately, thought I would show y'all what I drive in the summer. It's a 49cc, 2-stroke scooter from CPI, model Popcorn. Top speed about 45KPH, cheap to run, and lots of fun. I use it mostly for running errands, going to the garden (the garden is 11K/6M away) in the summer etc.

A Blustery Day to Run

I went on a nice easy 14K/8.7M run yesterday. It was kind of a blustery day, 10C/50F, windy, sunny, cloudy, rainy, sometimes all at once. Mentally I was perfectly comfortable laying on the couch reading, but finally about 15:00 I pried myself off the couch and suited up. The first few K’s were rough, I was really not into running. But then the sun came out from behind the clouds and motivated me to continue. Finally I dropped into the groove and the rest of the run went without mental complaint. There were a lot of people out taking their Sunday walks, the most bundled up in winter jackets, hats, even gloves. The wind chilled things down considerably. I ran my route in 83 minutes, which is about average. I felt satisfied as I came home, glad that I had motivated myself to burn some of the weekend calories. Actually my lack of motivation at the beginning of the run was an advantage, it kept me from running too fast. With a 30K/18.5M long run coming up Saturday I need to keep the pace down this week.

This morning on the train I was thinking a lot about what I’ve been eating lately. A couple problems seem to be surfacing:

1) I’ve been eating too many sweets lately – no excuse!
2) I am wondering if I need to have more protein in my diet, especially with the long runs I have been doing lately.
3) I need to eat more pasta the days I run and not rely so much on sports bars. This worked well last year – basically I only used sports bars for the really long runs.
4) I need to start writing down what I’m eating, somehow my energy level is not what it used to be. I was doing this for most of the year, but the last few weeks I slacked off – time to get back to work!

I really would like to lose another 5kg/11lbs before my next major run in May. On the other side I have to keep my energy level up for the long runs that I have going on this month. If I can cut out the sweets and extra sports bars I may find a compromise in the middle. We’ll see – happy running.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Storm Clouds Gathering

The end of a long hard week of work, it was nice to hit the trail and run my 14K/8.7 route. The weather is also crazy, I started my run with sunshine and blue skies, was rained on by the halfway point and returned to sunshine and blue skies. Temperatures were around 13C/55F, this morning 5C/41F. Its crazy, the body is having a hard time adjusting to the rapid weather change. Mixed with lots of work and overtime at my job, I am worn out as I right. Luckily I have no long runs or races this weekend, I can at least rest the body a bit. Next weekend is 30K/19M long run, so a little rest and recovery is in order. It is supposed to rain the next few days, good time to catch up on the odd jobs around the house.

One of the local sport stores had a sale on running shorts, shirts and jackets on Thursday. I went to work an hour later so I could be at the door when they opened. They sold out in 3 minutes! I was able to get 4 each shirts and shorts and a running jacket. All CoolMax breathable stuff, all I need now is warm weather to use it:->. Running is really catching on as a form of exercise here in Germany, so when the clothes go on sale you have to be fast (the training helps Happy Running

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Easy Run, But Tired Legs

Last night I went on a nice comfortable 14K/8.7M run. It was a mild 19C/66F, overcast, windy, and humid. I started out a little faster than I wanted, probably 5:30/K (8:45/M), but adjusted it to around 6:00/K (~9:30/M) which I kept fairly consistently for the rest of the run. I wore a T-shirt and a light long sleeve Cool Max running shirt, and long running pants (some say tights, but I’m a macho-type).

Anyway due to the high-humidity I was sweating like a hog after about 15 minutes. But I heard thunder in the distance so was still glad I wore the long sleeves. Just before I arrived home it started sprinkling, a few minutes after that the rain came down in buckets – with thunder, lightening, wind, everything but the hail.

I woke up this morning with really tired leg muscles, which kind of surprised me as I really didn’t push very hard last night on my run. Is this some kind of delayed reaction to my long run last Saturday? But my legs were fine after my run on Monday night. Maybe I’m just starting to get paranoid about injuries?

I had a lot of stress this week at work, maybe the effects are being played out in a slower recovery time from my running. I know its harder to get out and exercise when you’ve had a bad day. It makes me wonder if ones mental state also has a direct effect on muscle recovery?

Another thought is that I may have dehydrated too much last night. The high humidity definitely made me sweat more than normal and wind also tends to dry you out. I didn’t drink quite so much last night after the run as usual, a result of getting to deeply involved in answering my pile of e-mail and forgetting about everything but (my wife was at her Business English course). I have read that you get more muscle cramps when you are dehydrated, maybe the muscles also take longer to heal if you are dehydrated? Kind of makes sense - where’s my bottle of water…

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

I Hate Mirrors!

When is the last time you stood naked before a full length mirror? For most of my life I avoided mirrors because they showed me something that I didn’t really want to see, namely a fat beached walrus with layer upon layer of uncomplimentary fat. I always felt bad about my weight, I certainly didn’t need to be reminded by looking in a mirror :-(

Even the times in my life when I had lost a lot of weight, I still seemed to have a “belly ring”, a prominent ring of fat around the middle that even record numbers of sit-ups didn’t diminish to any large extent. In the last year or so my legs muscles have toned up, my butt has grown smaller (my wife keeps telling me I am butt-less) but the ring not only remained, but seemed to be more predominant due to my changing form.

So I hate mirrors. I love oversize T-shirts, sweatshirts and anything else that will hide my imperfection. But you know what, I chanced to look in the full length mirror in the bathroom this morning after I showered, and paused to take inventory. My belly ring seems to actually be getting smaller. Or was it my imagination? So I walked into the kitchen to ask my wife what she thought. So (still naked) I say:

“Hey honey what do you thing about this?”
“No, not now, we have to go to work!”
“No, not that, do you think my love handles are getting smaller?”
“When you think, hurry up and finish in the bathroom, I have to shower!”

So still back to the mirror to try to figure it out myself, yes I think the rings are definetely getting smaller. I guess the sit-ups, trunk-twists and leg lifts before and after my runs, together with the high running mileage are starting to pay off. Just to be sure I want to get out the measuring tape and measure the ring, then I will have something to go by next time I venture in front of a mirror:->

Now I'm not one to dream about having a body of an 18-year-old at my age, although it is theoretically do-able, but I would like to acheive a high degree of fitness. I think I'm off to a good start. After my marathon I want to start working the upper body a bit more, but for now I'd rather not run the risk of pulled muscles or other injuries.

Anyone else like to avoid mirrors, or are you all Greek gods and goddesses?

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Statistical Update

I was just looking at a few statistics to date:

Total kilometers ran: 590 (~366 miles)
Total kilometers ran in competition: 62.2 (~38miles)
Number of days ran: 38
Weight lost: 3 kilogram (goal = 10) or 6.6 lbs (goal = 22 lbs)

Goal Status:

New PR in Baden Mile: May - old PR 51:21
New PR in 10K: Not completed - old PR 50:35
New PR in Half-marathon: Complete - 1:53:29
First Marathon: May or September
Run 2000 Kilometers: 590 completed
Lose 10kg (22lbs): 3kg/6.6lbs completed

Spring Weather, Dogs and Model Airplanes

Yesterday was my first day back to work after a week off, so I was ready to run off some stress by the time I headed home. It was a nice sunny day with mild 20C/68F temperature so I elected to wear a T-shirt and thin running pants. I cautiously preceded with a gentle recovery pace, but had trouble keeping the tempo down. I felt so light after running with the bulky sweatpants and shirt for so long. I also lost a kg over the weekend, bringing my weight down to 77kg (170lbs). My next goal is to bring my weight down to 74kg (163lbs) by May 7 (Baden Mile Race). This will be my lowest weight since I was in the Army. I actually obtained this weight for a couple weeks right before my half-marathon last September, but I guess I celebrated too much afterward. I was up to 80kg (176lbs) right after Christmas vacation. I’ve been stuck on 78kg for 3 months. My doctor recommended a weight of 70kg (155lbs) for my height (170cm/67”) and build. I think I was 10 years old when I weighed that last (I was 110kg/243lbs at age 13).

So getting back to the run, there was a gentle breeze, but warm, springtime is definitely here in our area, the fruit trees are budding, spring flowers are out, the wildlife is active. I was almost run over my a red squirrel as I headed into the woods. I noticed his/her cheeks were full of nuts or whatever. I saw a fox dart down a side trail as I trampled through. On my long run last Saturday I surprised a nice buck, no actually he surprised me, he jumped out from behind a bunch of bushes and past a few meters behind me. I just about jumped out of my pants because I was daydreaming or whatever (probably of my next meal or race:). Quite a few joggers were out, good weather tends to bring out the otherwise cough potatoes. I turned down one trail, cornered by a bunch of evergreens and ran smack into four very large dogs (not on a line of course:(, with the two women-probably-owners well ahead of them and gabbing. Now ever since I was bitten by a dog as a kid I am scared to death of dogs. Sad, but true. I think I about wet my pants, but luckily the dogs were well trained and a single command from one of the women had them running in their direction. They held them while I ran by, I made a point to thank them for my life. Last year a Doberman bit through my jogging pants before it’s owner could bring it under control (he was on a bicycle and the dog on not on a line), I made it a point to thank him in a very special way (Mia would be proud of my vocabulary, one of the few times I let that slip out). I envy people who have no fear of the animals. Give me a cow any day, even a bull!

As I came out the wood and headed out across the fields that will bring me home I passed the model airplane field, there were a couple enthusiasts out their playing with their airplanes. I think it is a club that leases the corner of the field for this purpose. I have a guy at work the devotes most of his waking hours when he’s not at work to this hobby. He an electrical engineer, builds his own stuff (of course). I see him surfing at lunchtime once in awhile. I’ll have to ask him if he’s blogging yet

I finished the 14K/8.6mile run in 77:55, which is a pace of 5:34/km (8:57/mile), much faster then I should be training, especially after just completing a rather long – long run on Saturday. Today I feel all the stress I have been giving my legs lately – no real pain or anything, just tired legs. Tonight I am taking my wife to bicycle shopping, a local sports store is having a sale on last years model of mountain bikes. So I can rest the legs a bit. I don’t have any races planned this month, the next being the Baden Mile (8.88889km/5.5 mile) run on May 7th. On the other side I know of at least 7 10K runs in my area in April, hmmm... should I…

Monday, April 04, 2005

Bring on the Marathon; Baden Mile Update.

Tonight I have a 14K (~ 8.6 miles) training run on the schedule. For the record I checked my bicycle odometer by laying out a 2K course with my car, then riding with the bike. It is probably 99% accurate, thus I have indeed been running 14K’s rather than 12K’s all winter. Hasn’t hurt a bit! Definitely better than finding out that I had been running a shorter distance the whole time!!

I feel completely recovered from my 29-30K (18+ mile) run on Saturday morning. Based on the Hal Higdon training plan that I have been following (more or less), in two weeks I need to run about 30K (~19 miles) and in four weeks about 32K (~20 miles). If I want to be brave and run the Mannheim marathon on May 21, I have to sign-up by April 30th. I presented this idea to my wife yesterday and did not experience any negative vibes. I think it helped that I was still able to go out and work for six hours in the garden after my long run on Saturday. I think she is beginning to realize that maybe I won’t drop dead during the marathon (hopefully). So I guess I will wait until I run the 30K run in two weeks, then talk with her again about this. If you see me starting to taper in the beginning of May you know I have the green light :->

I received the final list of participants from my company for the Badischemeile (Baden Mile). This 8.88889K (5.5 mile), 70 people signed up: 66 runners, 3 walkers, and one wheelchair racer! My company has offered to buy running shirts for the “Team”, so sounds like it going to be a great time! In my department about half the people (10) are running, so this will be fun. As I write a few are in my office on their lunch break talking about starting to “train” this week. It made me think about my situation last year about this time, I was running about 6-7K (3-4 miles) twice a week, and was wondering if I could finish the race. I had to smile when the guys were talking about meeting after work tomorrow night and run 2-3K. Today I felt really proud of myself for having stuck to my running over the winter. But then I had to humbly remind myself that I still have 9 lbs to lose before May 7th (my next goal on the list). Where’s my running shoes? Somebody pass me a celery stick:-(
Happy running!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Spring is Here

We spent a nice day in the garden yesterday, cleaned up the flower beds, put out some compost etc. My legs felt surprisingly good, despite the approx. 30K (18+ mile) run yesterday morning. I guess the constant movement throughout the day kept them limber and loosened up. This morning my legs were a little stiff, but still not bad. The sun is shining, so I am going to keep this short and go outside and enjoy the weather. It is supposed to rain most of the coming week, so I have to take advantage of the nice day. Happy running!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Oops, wrong turn, 29-30K run!

I was up before the sun this morning to do a long run. After a good warmup I left the house about 7 a.m., just as the sun was trying to open its sleepy eyes. The first hour was primarily over my normal route, then I crossed the railroad track (bridge) and ran the Graben Running Club trails for a while. They have a nice 11K trail that I tried to follow, but the don't have it marked very well. Anyway I took a wrong turn and ended up who-know-where, but by the time I got back on the trail and made it back to ms own route, I was already on the run for two hours, 45 minutes - and I still had a half hour to go back to the house. Boy was I glad I had my CamelBak and a couple sports bars with me this morning! I finished with a time of 3:14:43 - I had only planned on a 3 hour run. I estimate that I was running a kilometer in about 6:30 (average), so I am guesstimating that I ran 29-30K, or about 18-181/2 miles. Not bad!

How do I feel? Stiff, really stiff, especially the legs. But, no pulled muscles, thank the good lord for that! I had two breaks of about a minute each, where I walked to eat my sports bars, plus one to answer the call of nature.

Now I am looking forward to brunch, then maybe a short nap. The sun is shining so this afternoon I want to start planting the garden, glad I dug up the beds earlier this week. We are supposed to have temperatures in the 70's, and lots of sunshine. So I wish you all a happy weekend and enjoy your run!

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