Wednesday, August 31, 2005

"Missing" Brother Safe in Baton Rouge.

My „missing“ brother that lives in New Orleans reported in at my parents, he is safe with his entire family in Baton Rouge. They followed the mandatory evacuation order on Sunday and are staying with his daughter’s future in-laws in Baton Rouge. His daughter is (was?) scheduled to get married in September. They are without power, but at least have a place to stay. It took a while for him to find a way to contact the family as his cell phone went dead and he had no means of recharging it.

It's a major relief for me to know he and his family are safe!

Where Am I Running To?

I was reading a.maria’s blog on her love/hate relationship on running today. I highly recommend reading it and the resulting comments if you haven’t. I can really relate to what she wrote, as I am sure many can.

I enjoyed one comment that douglas left:

“If you are training for a marathon and you don't get sick of running, you're not running enough. I've done 4 and every time I get into the third month and I'm having the exact same conversations with myself that you are ... and, you're right where you’re supposed to be.”

Roger that mission control! The last couple weeks have worn me down, left my body tired, my mind like jello, and overall looking forward to a break after “M” day.

On the other side I am already concerned about “after” the main event. I have spent over 8 months fine tuning this body to be a running machine and I am afraid that I will “lose it” over the upcoming winter.

I’m not really sure what the winter and next year will bring, whether it be privately, professionally, or running wise. These all tie in and effect with one another. I feel a need to keep running to prevent my weight from returning. I would like to continue to race as this drives me to continue running.

My wife, our house, our garden, our friends and my other hobbies have all felt the impact of high mileage training this year, leaving me wondering how much time I will be able to commit to running in the future.

Work is like a sleeping bear that sometimes wakes and seeks to consume large amounts of my free time. I have been able to rub its stomach and keep it dozing so far this year, but the alarm keeps going off.

Since the beginning of the year running has gained momentum as I went from race to race, goal to goal. I have been able to check off my goals, achieving most of them already. I have obtained PR’s, then obtained them again. It has been so satisfying that I am afraid that one day I will wake up and it will all have changed somehow.

I guess that happens to everyone at one time or another. I think the only solution is lace up the running shoes and hit the trail. As my feet hit the ground and my mind clears, then I will know how to precede, one step at a time!

Summer Again

Summer has returned with a vengeance, it was a hot, sunny 32C/90F as I hit the running trail at 5 p.m. last night. During Taper Time I have less mileage scheduled, but want to maintain a good tempo. So with this in mind my goal last night was a 14K/8.7M run at a 5:30/K (8:51/M) pace. I managed this pace for the first 3-4K, but than could feel myself speeding up. I felt good so let the legs carry me. I finished the first 10K in 53:30 and the 14K in 1:13:51. The average pace for the 14K/8.7M run was 5:17/K (8:29/M), pretty fast for me. If I had been running a half-marathon I would have set a PR if I continued at that pace:-)

In any case it was a good workout, a bit too fast considering the heat. In comparison temperatures for my run last Wednesday was 25C/77F and my long run this past Saturday morning 11C/52F (warming up to 17C/63F by the end of the run).

My legs were a bit sore this morning, I need to slow down just a bit when it is so hot outside. I may do a hill run tomorrow night, it helps keep the pace down.

I am slowly getting my weight back down to what it was before the pigout last weekend, 1 pound to go.

Hurricane Katrina Update:

No word from my brother and his family yet. They live in the Orleans Parish if I remember correctly. I am really not surpised that my family hasn't heard from them yet considering the entire infrastructure has been eliminated. They and all the people affected by this latest storm remain in our thoughts and prayers. It’s days like these that I wish I had Bill Gates wallet so I could truly make a difference in peoples lives in the distressed area.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Post-Marathon Ponderings

I already have my Taper Time book set out for those evenings when „the madness“ sets in. Yes I picked up a used copy of “The Competitive Runner’s Handbook” by Bob and Shelly-Lynn Florence Glover. This book has been out for quite a long time, but it sounded interesting and it was cheap (E-Bay). I was skimming through it this morning on the train, it looks like it will hold my attention for awhile.

During lunch I was trying to catch up on Hurricane Katrina news, nothing terribly new other than lots of flooding everywhere.

I was thinking post-marathon thoughts as I was munching on my sandwich. I have a couple notes floating in my mind:

- I want to try a mountain run in October.
- I want to run a couple 10K’s this year.
- I want to meet my weight goal by the end of the year (70kg/155lbs).
- I want to take swimming lessons (I can swim a little).

Long Term Goals:

- I want to remain fit enough to be able to complete a 10K or HM anytime I feel the urge (note: finish not necessarily set a PR).
- I want to keep the weight off!

Is there a Marathon III in my future? Let’s do Marathon II first, then we can talk about it...

Taper Planning

Last night I put some of my tapering energy to good use and spent some time in the garden pulling weeds. This was followed by my weight training and a 10 minute spin on my wife’s bike trainer.

I mentioned yesterday that I totally blew my diet on the weekend, attending both a wedding and street festival. I gained an incredible 3kg (6.6lbs) from Friday morning to Monday morning. I seriously considered fasting for a day or two after stepping on the scales yesterday! As this would not necessarily be a good time right before a marathon I attempted to get back on my balanced diet and increase my activity level, hence the garden work and cross-training. By this morning I had shed the first kg (2.2lbs) and if I behave myself with the diet this week will probably get rid of the rest by the weekend. Frustrating I tell ya!

My tentative taper training schedule is as follows:

Aug. 30: 14K/8.7M run
Aug. 31: Weight Training (WT) and bike ride
Sept. 1: 14K/8.7M run
Sept. 2: WT and bike ride (or swimming)
Sept. 3: Rest
Sept. 4 (Sunday): Half-marathon
Sept. 5: Rest
Sept. 6: 14K/8.7M run
Sept. 7: Rest or cross-training
Sept. 8: 14K/8.7M run
Sept. 9: Rest or cross-training
Sept. 10: 24K/15M run
Sept. 11: Rest or cross-training
Sept. 12: Rest or cross-training
Sept. 13: 14K/8.7M run
Sept. 14: Rest
Sept. 15: 14K/8.7M run
Sept. 16: Company outing (lots of walking)
Sept. 17: Rest
Sept. 18: Marathon

Something like that anyway. I may reduce some of the 14K/8.7M runs to 10K and add and extra day of running. This will depend on how much time I have, it’s getting busy at work again as people return from their vacations.

Warning: Advertising Insert:

I haven’t heard anything about my brother in New Orleans yet. I did hear from a couple of my brothers, they both said that our brother may have stayed in New Orleans if anyway possible. You see my brother Steve in New Orleans and his wife are directors of a mission home, the Hope House, and will be trying to offer assistance (if possible) to those who stayed behind. Part of their ministry is to help the poor and homeless of New Orleans, the Hope House is located (hopefully still there) in the Algiers Point neighborhood, a very likely flood point.

If you are looking for a worthy cause and way to help the people of New Orleans you might want to check out their website at

The Hope House is a project of Youth With A Mission (YWAM), a non-profit organization with world-wide outreach.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Tapering 101

Kind of a weird day for me today, I guess I’m a bit concerned about family in hurricane Katrina’s path. Kind of that fear of not knowing kinda feeling. I’m sure they are fine and I’m just freaking out like Jon as he contemplates his trip to New Haven. I know, breathe!

Anyway, during lunch I was looking at my notes from this past May to see what I was running during Taper Time before the last marathon. I am making the fine adjustments to my running schedule for the next three weeks. I jotted a couple notes down:

- Discontinue my weight training after this week until after the marathon.
- Replace the after weight training jogs with cross-training (e.g. bicycling).
- Reduce my 16K/10M runs on Monday and Wednesday to 14K/8.7M.
- Maintain the intensity of these runs.
- Long run this weekend will be the half-marathon race (at marathon pace).
- Next weekend’s long run will be around 22-24K/11-12M.
- Get two days rest before the marathon.

Nothing earth shattering here, basic mileage reduction with added rest, while maintaining intensity. Happy running!

Pray for Those Facing Katrina!

My first couple days of tapering have been a disaster for my diet. Saturday afternoon we went to my wife’s cousin’s wedding. First class food and plenty of it, and of course I was all about eating after my long run that morning:-) Yesterday was a street festival in a neighboring town, more food in massive quantities. Needless to say my weigh-in this morning was frightening to say the least.

My wife and I did get in a 15K bicycle trip yesterday afternoon. It was a bright sunny 26C/79F day and we took advantage of it. Perfect biking weather, you could tell, the bike paths were crowded!

My legs were a little stiff yesterday, but other than that felt fine. The only negative effect of my long run on Saturday is my humungous appetite. Today I am trying to get my diet back on track.

Next Sunday is my next running event, a half-marathon in Ruelzheim in the Rhineland-Pfalz. This will be a training run, the pace already predetermined - 6:00/K (9:39/M), the same as for the upcoming marathon. Although I could probably set a new PR, I feel that it is more important to use the event as a dress rehearsal for my marathon. The marathon is only two weeks after the HM race so this is not a time to be over doing it! Ruelzheim is the hometown for our friend Eva, so my wife will have company while she waits for me to finish the race. Cool!

If you have been following the news the last day or so you know that the folks in and around New Orleans are in for a bad time today. My brother and his family live in the old French section of town, the part that could go swimming. I haven’t been able to reach him so I assume he is evacuating. Don’t forget to send your support to organizations helping the millions of people being affected by the monster hurricane! For those of you who pray you might remember to add this to your list.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Sucessful Long Run - Long Version

As I mentioned briefly yesterday I had a very challenging, grueeling, but highly successful 36K/22M long run yesterday morning.

I guess the story begins on Thursday night, I had a restless sleep and slept about an hour less than normal. Friday night was a little better, I went to bed a half hour later than normal, but at least slept soundly. I woke up at 5:45 a.m., had a large bowl of granola cereal, then took care of morning business, suited up, warmed up and was out the door about 6:20. My goal was simple: run 36K at my planned marathon pace of 6:00/K (9:39/M).

It was really cool when I set out, around 11C/52F, I wore my longer CoolMax running shorts and short sleeve shirt and a thin running vest. My arms were freezing for at least the first hour that I ran, hard to believe this is August! Anyway I set out at a comfortable pace, finishing the two kilometers in 5:45 (a little too fast). I slowed down just a little and by kilometer 3 and 4 I was right at goal pace 6:00/K (9:39/M). By this time I was in the groove and held this pace almost without thinking about it.

For the first 20-30 minutes my stomach was sloshing around a lot and generally making me feel kind of queasy, a result of too much breakfast and water right before leaving. But as I started sweating this problem gradually worked itself out.

Generally when I run long I block out most thoughts and try to concentrate on my breathing, pace, and monitor any warning signs that may effect my performance. But for some reason I was thinking about everything but that yesterday as I ran the first half of my long run. I passed the 11K/7M point at around 1:04:30, almost at goal pace.

The next 6-7 kilometers I really don’t remember so well, I was deep into my thoughts I guess. Around the 18K point an older gentleman on a bicycle crossed my path from an adjoining one. I have met him almost every Saturday for the past month as I ran through. Last week he followed me for awhile and was asking about my running. He said with a more than a bit of sadness that used to run when he was younger but messed up his knees and can’t run anymore. He rode along with me for a couple minutes asking about my running plans for the morning. We approached the path he needed to head home so we said our goodbyes, and he wished me luck with my marathon. Friendly dude, it was nice having a little company.

I continued on, passing the 20K(12.4M) point with a time of 1:58:30, again almost exactly at goal pace! Somewhere along the 21-22K mark I started getting tired, almost the same point as last week. This kind of snapped me out of my daydreaming mood that I seemed to be in and I started concentrating on business at hand. I continued for another few minutes and kept getting more sluggish. I thought about all the mileage I still had ahead of me and I basically got mad at myself and started doing a self-analysis. I knew that I had it in me to finish the run without any trouble, my sleep had been adequate, I ate well the day before, I had a good breakfast. Than it hit – I had taken a maximum of 2-3 sips from my CamelBak over the last two hours plus – I was probably starting to feel the first signs of dehydration and glucose depletion. So I took a couple good deep swigs of energy drink from the CamelBak and picked up the pace. Every couple minutes for the next 10-15 minutes I continued to take a long drink. Eventually I could feel the power returning and was able to continue on at pace. Somehow through my daydreaming I “forgot” to drink regularly. Usually I start taking sips of sport drink every 5K(3.2M) after the 10K point. In Germany refreshment stands are generally set up every 5K during the longer runs (HM and M) so I train this way.

Somewhere around the 2½ hour point the mental workout started with a furry. I won’t say that I hit the wall, but it just got measurably tougher to keep putting one foot in front of the other. All the little doubts started popping into the mind (“Your pace is too fast!”), the lazy thoughts (“Cut it short today, you’ve run enough already!”), and every little cramp, twitch and itch seemed to be magnified a hundred-fold.

This is the point where nothing helps other than to just dig in. As each kilometer started to feel like a mile, than 10 miles I had to reach really deep. The kilometers pasted slowly by, at least I was still running at my pace. Finally I passed over the bridge spanning the railroad tracks that separate the running club trails from the normal trails that I run during the week. From here I knew it was about 8.5K/5.3M back to the house. I was still on pace, but I was fighting hard to keep it up. My legs were tired, but didn’t ache and throb like some long runs, I knew deep down I would make it home okay, but I was concerned if I would make at my desired pace.

Around the 31K/19+M point I passed the spot where the dog was nipping at my heels the other day. For some reason this sent a shot of adrenaline through my body and I felt new energy circulating through the blood. I rode this feeling for awhile saying to myself “Yeah I dare a dog to get in my way today, I’ll kick it’s butt!” I guess you get desperate for anything that motivates you at this point.

In any case my legs were sore, but I was running with a good adrenaline rush, the kilometers started to tick away, finally 4K left to go. It was getting tough, but with eyes straight I kept on rock steady. I picked up the pace slightly to 5:30/K (8:51/M), 3K to go, still maintaining 5:30/K. I passed by the tennis and soccer clubs on the edge of Spoeck our neighboring town, by the public swimming pool, the elementary school, right turn … 2K to go, pace still 5:30/K. I still can feel how hard this last stretch was, my legs feeling like lead, but my guts taking control and pushing. Along the fields, over the bridge spanning the local highway, 1K to go, pace 5:25/K!

I remember almost stumbling come down off the bridge, my legs were stiff, it was hard to pick my feet up. I was determined to finish this with my head up, I pushed forward, finally passing the mill and entering the edge of town. From there just a few hundred feet, around the church and I’m done. I broke into what felt like a sprint and “flew” the last hundred meters to my finish line in front of the house. Last kilometer 5:20/K pace. Whew, talk about being pooped!

I walked around the little square surrounding the church across the street from our house. My legs were tight, throbbing, the blood still pumping madly through the veins. I walked for maybe 7-8 minutes until the legs loosened up a little, than did some stretching. After elevating my legs for 10 minutes and taking a cool bath I felt pretty good! Tired to be sure, but no cramps or unusual pain, just normal soreness expected after running 36K/22M!

I finished the run in 3:30:13, which works out to a pace of 5:50/K, 9:24/M. My goal was 6:00/K, so I did a pretty good job holding the pace.

Post Long Run Synopsis

I wore my running shoes that I reserve for races, they are slightly lighter than my other pairs, I wanted to try them on a longer run before the marathon. I was curious if they had anything to do with my cramping problems with my first marathon. The answer based on my run yesterday is no. I did get a couple blisters on the inside of my right foot that I don’t get with any of my other running shoes so I need add some Vaseline at this point before the marathon.

I have been wondering about my 6:00/K (9:39/M) goal pace for the marathon. Almost every race calculator I have used (e.g. McMillan, Parrott Predictor) indicate that I should be able to run a marathon in about 4 hours, based on my half-marathon times. This is a 5:41/K (9:09/M) pace, very likely within the range of my current fitness. If I have a good day this is theoretically a possibility. On the other side I know how much effect just this small increase in pace can have if I’m NOT having a good day!

Although I have been doing extremely well on my long runs I still have the utmost respect for the marathon distance. Over the last 8 months that I have been training for marathons I have learned how my factors can effect performance and that I need to precede cautiously. My goal for the Baden Marathon on September 18, 2005 is simple. I want to finish strong, with head high and not a candidate for the First Aid tent. Although I will start out running my 6:00/K (9:39/M) pace, I refuse to put any time restraint on this goal.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Kicked Butt, Took Names, Stomped on it!

I have to get ready to go to a wedding soon so have to keep this short. I had a very challenging, gruelling, but highly successful 36K/22M long run this morning. Total time 3:30:13, which works out to a pace of 5:50/K, 9:24/M. My goal was 6:00/K, so mission accomplished. Bring on the tapering, I’m ready :-))) Have a nice weekend, happy running!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Going Long this Weekend!

Last night I did my weight training but decided to save my legs and drop the 3K/2M jog. Instead I worked on my wife’s growing list of things for me to do, mostly running errands. In the meantime my wife made a super casserole out of potatoes, zucchini, mushrooms and a little parmesan cheese. Chased with a green salad and some fresh French bread from the bakery and we had some good eats!

Later my wife had to spend some time on the PC doing some work for our garden club (she is secretary for the club) so I decided to load my MP3 player with some motivational music in case I get in trouble on my long run. I had a friend give me a DVD with about a zillion MP3 files that he has accumulated. So I fired up my PC and started flipping through the songs, loading them in my MusicMatch Jukebox, playing the first few seconds, flipping to the next, occasionally loading one onto the MP3 player. After about an hour my wife finally retaliates and kicks me out of the office. Anyway I got a bunch of upbeat music together so on Saturday morning if I start freaking out on the long run all I have to do is flip on my MP3 player and melt the brain cells down!

I think I am going to be lucky with the weather this weekend, tomorrow is supposed to be 24C/75F. Next week it will be warming up again to about 32C/90F, but by that time I'll be tapering:-)

Dianna and I are going to be kicking butt and taking names on our respective 20-miler (or more) long runs this weekend, anyone else going long this weekend?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Taper Tommy

I wanted to take a walk with a colleague of mine during lunch today, but of course it started pouring down rain right before we wanted to go. So I read a couple blogs, then opened my training log and started skimming through it. I was looking over my notes from my last long run when out of nowhere Taper Tommy starts whispering in my ear “You didn’t run fast enough on your last long run.” Then he skips over to the other ear and says: “You haven’t trained enough at a faster pace!”

Now I don’t know if you know Taper Tommy. First let me clarify that Taper Tommy has nothing to do with Mia’s cute little boy Tommy. No, Taper Tommy is a back-stabbing little pain in the butt that hides out in the dirty laundry basket waiting for his debut a few weeks before a major race. He thrives on uncertainty, discontentment, and discouragement. He lives for the day when you fall to pieces right before a race.

So anyway I say to Taper Tommy: “Little early aren’t you?”
TT: “Oh, I thought I’d get an early start.”
Jack: “No need to really, don’t go out of your way for my sake.”
TT: “No problem, it’s my pleasure!” “By the way you’ve been overdoing it a little this week, don’t you think?”
Jack: “No, why do you say this?”
TT: “Well, over 40K/25M in 3 days, I’d say that is way too much when your long run is coming up Saturday! You’ll be hitting the wall for sure.”
Jack: “TT, don’t try to trick me into that negative thinking, I’m going to kick your butt on Saturday!”
TT: “I'll see you on Saturday...”

Good Solid Run Last Night Despite Humidity Factor

Last night my goal was a 16K/10M run at better than marathon pace (mp= 6:00/K, 9:39/M). It was still a relatively mild 26C/79F as I headed out the door at 5 p.m. The sun was shining but the dark rain clouds were rapidly making their way up from the south. This resulted in energy-sucking humidity.

I started out with a 5:30/K (8:51/M) pace which I held almost religiously until about the 14K/8.7M point where the humidity finally started making headway. I slowed down to marathon pace and finished off the last couple kilometers. I took an extra loop over to the other side of the field that I run along to check out the Boy/Girl scout (Pathfinder?) jamboree that is taking place in our town in the moment. In any case I finished the approximately 17K/10.5M in 1:33:26, well within my goal.

My legs are a little sore this morning, I have been racking up a lot of faster-pace mileage lately. I may do some cross-training or take an extra rest day this evening rather than do my weight training and jog. I want to have my legs in good shape for the long run on Saturday.

Marathon Ponderings:

September 18th is the big day, the Baden Marathon, starting in the neighboring city of Karlsruhe. I feel good, I feel in better shape than my first marathon in May, but I also have a lot more respect for the distance. If I have learned nothing else, I have learned that anything can happen, so I am going to be quite conservative when I head out on the 18th. My goal is to finish in 4½ hours, but if I am feeling good that day than get out of my way Karlsruhe!

Saturday will be a very good test! My stomach is already tied in knots about it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Warning: Pre-marathon Jitters and Taper Madness on the Horizon!

Last night I had weight training and a 3K/2M jog on the training schedule. My legs were feeling surprisingly good after my rather quick 16K/10M run on Monday, so I decided to run a little further.

Now I probably have mentioned a time or two that my weight training consists mostly of a large variety of lighter weight exercises, mostly using dumbbells. I also throw in multiple sets of pushups, sit-ups and abdominal exercises (for the problem zone). Experienced weightlifters would probably laugh hysterically, but hey I’m a beginner and I can see results!

In any case after completing my weight training, minus some of the leg work, I stretched a bit and headed out for a run. We had fairly mild temperatures yesterday 26C/779F, humid and it was raining gently as I headed out over my old 8K/5M route. My pace goal was my planned marathon pace 6:00/K (9:39/M). As I said I was feeling pretty good, so I naturally had a hard time keeping that pace, my pace kept jumping all around as I fought to keep it down: 5:45/K, 5:20/K, 5:30/K, 5:10/K, 5:50/K, 5:55/K, 5:45/K, 5:20/K. Oh well, it felt like a relaxing run anyway!

Tonight is another 16K/10M run, tomorrow weight training with a short jog, then my long run on Saturday.

Despite doing quite well on my runs lately I am still a little nervous about my long run on Saturday. The plan is 36K/22M at planned marathon pace (6:00/K, 9:39/M). I accomplished this on August 13th, so I know I can do it, but somehow I still have butterflies in the stomach about it. This feeling is probably due to the fact that this will be my last long run before my marathon and I really hope that it goes smoothly.

The weather forecast for Saturday is promising, more mild weather and perhaps some rain. Based on my runs lately I am a little bit nervous about starting out too fast and burning myself out before I finish. On the other side, when I think about it, this is exactly the training I need in the moment as I will be facing the same problem in 3½ weeks at the marathon.

I guess I am entering my pre-marathon jitters phase, which was followed by tapering madness last time around. So brace yourselves, as I am sure my blog post’s will start getting really weird in the upcoming weeks, as I start experiencing every emotion imaginable in the course of 10 minutes and at regular intervals ;-)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Just Plain Motivated, That's All!

After a day practicing couch potato on Sunday I was revved up and ready to run as I came home from work. So with storm clouds looming all around, temperatures peaking at 26C/79F, and humidity practically visible I saddled up and hit the road.

I had no particular goal in mind as I left the house, I just let my legs carry me over the 16K/10M route. And carry me they did, at an average pace of 5:15/K (8:27/M). I wish I would have been running a half-marathon, I would have set a new PR for sure! I felt good the whole run, strong, confident, totally in the groove!

Well almost, I passed one of the inconsiderate dog owners that think they can walk wherever they please without their dog on a leash. The dude actually had two dogs, one large man-eating looking killer with a muzzle on his mouth, which he did have on a leash. Then a smaller version of the same that was running several meters ahead of him sniffing the trees. That is until I ran by, next thing I know the little dog is snapping at my heels, he actually left scratches in my running shoes. The stupid dog owner was blowing some whistle which seemed to have no effect on the little snapper. I felt like turning around and shoving the whistle…I hate dog owners who have no respect for other people.

I swear I am going to order one of those devices that Jon has been talking about. With optional stun gun and electro-shocker for the owners (no not really – too bad).

Anyway I had a truly awesome run and am looking forward to the rest of the runs this week!

Other Ponderings:

I have been reading the blog of a truly awesome runner the last couple months. Alison really is a super athlete, totally dedicated to the sport, I highly recommend checking out her blog if you need some inspiration for reaching “the next level”.

Likewise, I was taken a look at another elite runner who is tackling 4 marathons this year. TJ is another one of those elite runner’s that I can only watch from behind as he pull's off into the horizon. But I find his experience to be an incredible source of information for my own running efforts. Hey and he’s from Rochester, just down the road from where I grew up!

Monday, August 22, 2005

One Week to go Until Taper Time!

Yesterday I took an extra day of rest, spent it relaxing with my wife. We had planned on taking a nice bike ride in the afternoon, but it rained almost the entire day, so my wife vetoed this idea. With 77K/48M on the training schedule for this week the extra rest day was not a bad thing.

So less than four weeks now until the Baden Marathon on September 18th. Today is the first day of the last training week and also my highest mileage week before tapering begins. Here is a quick look at what’s on the horizon:

Week 4 (this week):
M -16K/10M
T – WT & 3K/2M
W – 16K/10M
TH – WT & 3K/2M
F – Rest
SA – 36K/22M Long
SO – WT & 3K/2M

Week 3 (Aug. 29 – Sept. 4)
M -14K/8.7M
T – WT & 3K/2M
W – 14K/8.7M
TH – WT & 3K/2M
F – Rest
SA – 21.1K/12.1M HM Race
SO – Rest

Week 2 (Sept. 5–11)
M -14K/8.7M
T – Rest
W – 14K/8.7M
TH – Rest
F – Rest
SA – 22K/13M
SO – Rest

Last Week (Sept. 12–18)
M - Rest
T – 14K/8.7M
W – Rest
TH – 14K/8.7M
F – Rest
SA – Rest
SO – Marathon

The weather this week will hover around 24C/75F, with lots of rain expected. An ideal temperature range for running high mileage. I only pray it stays cool for the marathon!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Training to get Over "The Wall"

I guess anyone who has hung around long distance runners long enough has heard about hitting “the wall”, particularly during a marathon. There are numerous theories on this, most associate running low on glycogen somewhere between 1½ hours of running and the finish line. For others it is reaching a point where you feel like you just can’t take another step.

In any case I have been thinking lately how I might simulate these conditions in training (without negative effects). I thought about my first long runs at the beginning of the year, where I kept going out too fast – that’s it!

So with this in mind I headed out the door this morning at 6:30 a.m., shortly after a rain, already 19C/66F, and almost 100% humid. I picked up the pace almost immediately, I wanted to finish the first 11K/9M at least at half-marathon pace (5:30/K, 8:50/M), which is 30-40 seconds faster per kilometer than my normal long run pace. Considering the humidity I figured this would wear me out significantly to where I could simulate “wall” conditions.

I reached the 11K/9M point in 59:30, a pace of 5:25/K (8:42/M). I was totally drenched in sweat from the high humidity and rapidly rising temperatures. By the 15K/9.3M point I was already getting tired, no energy left. I reached the 21K point with a time of 1:55:45, an average pace of 5:31/K (8:52/M), almost as fast as my best half-marathon.

By this time I was wiped out, my legs hurt from the asphalt, I had already finished the liter of sport drink that I had with me. My energy was totally spent, I seriously considered taking a walk break. Mission accomplished!

The last 3K/2M were incredibly hard. I was utterly amazed at my lack of energy - my goodness I had just run 36K/22M the weekend before (okay at a slower pace)! I kept up the pace the best I could, my legs ached, my mind started playing games with me, telling me to slow down, take a break, stop. I can’t say that I necessarily hit the wall, but I did reach a point where my body started balking at the idea of continuing to run!

In any case I finally made it home, total time for the 24K/15M - 2:13:35. Average pace for the distance 5:34/K (8.57/M). Despite drinking a liter of sport drink on the run I still sweated off 2kg (4.4lbs) during the run. After getting some fluids and food I felt fine again. Legs are a little sore, but I should be good to go by tomorrow.

So what did I achieve? Well for at least the last 15-20 minutes of the run I reached a point where my condition was fairly close to the last 10K of my first marathon. I think this was important preparation for my upcoming marathon. It definetely reminded me of the importance to stay at my planned pace (6:00/K, 9:39/M).

Next weekend my last long run (at planned marathon pace), at least 36K/22M, can’t wait!!

Friday, August 19, 2005

As if my ego wasn’t already inflated...

I bumped into my wife’s niece Sinja in the supermarket last night (they had sport socks on sale – what else!). Now my wife has had a lot of problems with her family during her lifetime so we haven't had contact with them in several years – long story.

Now Sinja has always been my favorite niece, even more so than my own side of the family, we always had a special chemistry between us. But anyway it has been several years since I saw Sinja and I was surprised when this real sweet looking chick about 22 years walks up to me and gives me a big old hug and kiss on the cheek. The last time that we saw each other we were both carrying around spare tires, in my case a tractor tire :-) My goodness, the chubby little teenager that I remembered had slimmed way down and was now an extremely attractive young woman.

Sinja remarked that she hardly recognized me anymore :-)

“How did you lose so much weight?”

“Oh, I run a little!”

“Really, me too!”

We talked for awhile, totally blocking the isles in the supermarket, until we both remembered that we had people waiting in our car’s outside (her mother and my wife). So I get another kiss and a hug and as Sinja trots up to the cashier she yell’s back

“You’re looking geil!”

Now “geil” is a German word that translates into several English words including: Cool, horny, lewd, lustful, prurient, randy, ruttish, salacious, voluptuous, and wicked. But younger people use it as a slang for cool or “kick ass”! This is the highest compliment bestowed coming from her generation. Wow!

Of course going back to the car I’m all big smiles, thinking about how geil I was and say to my long-waiting wife “I had this good-looking blond babe tell me I am looking geil!” She just rolled her eyes and complained that I took so long, it was hot, yeah she saw Sinja go in the supermarket…blah, blah. Just call me Rodney D. :-)

News Flash: Jack at Lowest Weight Since 1988!

Just when I thought I was stuck for life on 75kg/165lbs I finally had a breakthrough. By cutting out all sweets for the past week, keeping an eye on my serving size at meals and running a zillion miles I finally was rewarded with a 73.5kg/162lbs on the bathroom scales this morning. This is the lowest weight since 1988 when I got married! Wow!!

So that leaves 5.5kg/12lbs to go before I reach my dream weight of 68kg/150lbs (my doctor’s recommended ideal weight). The last time I weighed this little I was about 8 years old (really!).

Now that I have confessed my weight to the masses I hope this will help motivate me to least stay at this weight until after my marathon when I want to start my real diet. Being overweight almost my entire life, I know how hard this will be!

So last night’s training: My wife had garden cross-training on my schedule (e.g. mowing lawn, pulling weeds etc.), but when she came home she was worn out from the heat (we are back up to 29C/85F), so she told me to go ahead and do my weight training so she could cool off. After thinking about it for about a zillionth of a second I suited up, warmed up and did my weight training routine (mostly dumbbell exercises), push-ups, sit-ups, crunches etc. I wanted to do some more work with the barbell, but I remembered the upcoming garden workout, so did a quick 3K/2M lap around town.

My pace breakdown for the 3K/2M run:

First kilometer: 5:30/K (8:51/M)
Second kilometer: 4:55/K (7:55/M)
Third kilometer: 5:15/K (8:27/M)

Overall a good quick workout. By the way it was 33C/92F under the roof of the shed where I do my weight training. Who needs a sauna?

After a quick shower and some food I pried my wife of the couch (where she fell asleep) and we headed out to the garden for a couple hours of weed-pulling.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

A Passion for Running

Yesterday despite sleeping like a stone for 7 hours I woke up tired. Doubling coffee intake at breakfast had no effect, the walk in the cool air to the train station helped some, but I almost fell asleep on the warm train. Another cup of coffee and a danish finally managed to perk me up some, but as temperatures rose to 27C/81F in my office in the afternoon I started searching for toothpicks to prop my eyes open. I was glad when I could finally go home, but had to fight to stay awake on the train. If I miss my stop I end up in Mannheim, a 40 minute ride from home!

In any case I made it home, had a quick bite to eat with my wife, suited up, then piled in the car and drove to Weingarten, to our garden. After warming up I headed over the fields and through the forest to the base of my hill trail. Starting up the hill I could feel that the run would not be a record breaker.

I have been training hard lately and have not increased the amount of sleep proportionately. It is starting to catch up with me. As I continued up the steep incline I shook off the urge to turn around and find an easier trail. No, this run was on my training plan, my hill running has been helping my endurance, we’re going up the hill!

After what seemed like an eternity (7 minutes) I finally reached the top, where it leveled off for a few minutes before I reached the rolling hills portion of the route. At least I was awake now! As I started up and down the gentle rolling hills I could feel the adrenalin kicking in, driving me forwards. I eventually started down hill for about 5 minutes, then latched onto the trail leading back up the hill, the 2nd major hill climb. So up and up, this time with more enthusiasm, about a 8-minute climb, overall not quite as steep as the first major climb.

Heading over the mountain top I wound my way over a couple dirt-gravel trails, eventually reaching an asphalt service road that would lead me down to the base of the mountain. I love this road, gently curving downwards, surrounded by forest, secluded. I spread my arms out and let myself fly down around the curves, oh what a feeling that was :-) I probably looked foolish, but I didn’t care, besides I doubt their was anyone else around anyway.

As I reached the base of the mountain and turned back across the road, through the forest and the fields I felt refreshed, maybe reborn. The weariness had left me, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, gosh it just doesn’t get better than this. I celebrated by spending an hour in the garden pulling weeds before heading home, a little therapy for the soul.

This morning I am still a little tired, but my legs aren’t complaining, even after running over 1½ hours last night. I can’t wait to get the day over and spend some time with my favorite passion (okay with my wife too!).

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

How Am I Surviving my Peak Training Month?

I am really starting to feel the stress of the mega-mileage I have been putting on lately. Last week 77K/48M, the week before 71K/44M. This week I only have 63K/39M scheduled, but the week isn’t over yet! And the amazing (for me) thing is that my pace has actually been creeping upwards the whole time. Overall I would say that training for this marathon was easier than training for the first one in May. And this despite the higher mileage! My recovery times are faster, my pace more consistent (all the time too fast now ;-), less aches and pains (again despite the higher mileage), and my long runs don’t leave me whining on the couch afterwards – I can actually carry on a normal life the rest of the day (okay after a couple hours with the legs up).

What is interesting is that I am not (yet) paranoid about actually running the upcoming marathon. I’m trying to keep it in the perspective of going and doing a 42.2K long run on that day, same pace as I have been training, same procedure as every long run, if I can pull it off I’ll be done in 4:15:00, no problem. Hmmm…

With 4½ weeks to my marathon I am paranoid plus about injury and especially dog bites. As I came up on an unleashed (of course) dog last night during my run I recall having thoughts of how I would strangle the dog if it bit me and beat up it’s master who was busy gabbing with another dog owner (who at least had the sense to have their dog on a leash). My face must have told all, the unleashed dog owner gave me a nasty look as I ran by. Grrrr. I love dogs, but only when they are under control!

Anyway, where was I, lots of mileage. Yep, I’ve never run so much in a single week as I did last week. For the most part I have survived. Okay a few more aches and pains than normal, but I have been sleeping better than expected – insomnia being an indicator of overtraining (for me anyway). Lately is has been like – put my head on the pillow and that’s it, I haven’t even had to count kilometer markers! The only problem has been to get ENOUGH sleep, my body craves it in the moment. I’ve been trying to get 7-7½ hours sleep a night (which is a lot for me), but I can tell this isn’t enough! Today I’m dragging.

Last night I did my light weight training, then added some weight and did some squats, bench presses and a couple other exercises (note to self, leave the squats out next time). Then it was out the door for a 3K/2M jog around the block. After showering, my wife sent me to the store to pick up meat for lasagna tonight. I left the car in the garage and took my bike, added a couple detours along the way and got in about 6K. My legs are kind of stiff this morning.

Tonight I really want to go to Weingarten where our garden is and run my hill route. Saturday is only a 22-24K medium-long run, so I can afford to do a good workout tonight. The mind is willing, will the body cooperate?

Next week will be my Maximum Mileage Week - I hope to hit 80K/50M, anyone want to join me? Incidently, this is still about 10-15K less per week then marathon trainees are doing in some of the running clubs my area. And you thought I was nuts - these people have no normal lives!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A Recovery Run??

It was rainy and a cool 19C/66F as I headed out the door for my training run last night. My goal was a comfortable recovery run, as I had a rather long – long run on Saturday. But as the rain stopped and the sun peeked out from behind the clouds my legs had other ideas. I dropped into a nice comfortable pace, briefly enjoying the sun’s rays before they again deserted me. Yesterday was a stressful day at work, lots of annoying little tasks keeping me away from what I really should be working on. I carried these thoughts with me in my head as I swung around my 16K/10M route. My legs were singing “Born to be Wild”, my heart “Do, Run, Run” and my mind – which should have been singing “Take it Easy” – was thinking about work.

About the 12K point my legs started to remember that they had just run 36K/22M on Saturday and started whining. I guess this brought me back to reality, looking at my watch I realized I had been running at an average 5:30/K (8:51/M) pace, not exactly a recovery pace (for me at least). I attempted to slow down a little, but this didn’t work out to well. I still finished with an average pace of 5:35/K (9:00/M).

Oh well, my legs feel pretty good today, a little tired but no soreness or anything. Now, how should I list that in my spreadsheet – too fast for a recovery run or for an easy run as well, I guess it was a tempo run – 25 seconds faster per kilometer (39 seconds per mile) than my planned marathon pace.

Very satisfying anyway and it also helped clear my head somewhat.

Monday, August 15, 2005

The First Thousand Miles

A thousand miles, over 1600 kilometers, either way you look at it, it's a long way! This past weekend I put my first thousand miles of running for this year behind me.

Through snow, wind, rain, heat, and every imaginable combination that mother nature brought my way. On good days where everything clicked and bad days when I wanted to quit. Over snow-covered, mud-trodden, and cursed asphalt trails. When I think about what this old body through the last 8 months I can only sit here in bewilderment.

I am amazed at my success – the PR's, the first marathon, my own determination! But I am equally humbled by the less glorious artifacts - the blisters, the blood, the pain, the lost toenails, the constant fear of injury.

But over these many miles I have learned a lot. A lot about myself, that I can push myself a lot harder than I ever thought possible and the same time that I am not indestructible. But most importantly I learned that I am not like any other runner - I am me. Nothing to prove, except maybe to me, I am neither too fast for me or too slow for me, I am simply me.

And through my blog family I have learned that I am not alone, we often share the same struggles, anxieties, joy, dreams and desires.

I can’t wait to start the next thousand mile journey!

Bellhiem 25K Race Mugshot

I discovered the following picture on a webpage on the Internet yesterday. Jack crossing the finish line at the 25K Bellheim run on August 6. As our friend Eva said "I look concentrated!" Is that a compliment?

My legs are feeling pretty good this morning, a little tired, but I think good enough to resume training this evening. I will make the final call when I get home tonight.

This week I have two 16K/10M runs on the schedule and a 24K/15M medium run (on asphalt trail) for Saturday. Temperatures are supposed to start rising again, eventually reaching 30C/86F by Thursday. Hopefully not any more than that, I have been enjoying the cool running conditions.

So how are you surviving the summer heat (or cold)?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Correction, my long run wasn't 34K/21M...

So how do my legs feel the day after my longest run since my marathon last May? Surprisingly good! Yesterday the muscles ached, but by evening they felt much better. Usually after such a long run I have trouble sleeping because of the aching legs, last night I slept like a baby, almost 10 hours! This morning I woke up and was a little stiff, but no aches and pains!!

Yesterday I mentioned that there was a stretch of the long run route that I had not previously measured, so was uncertain of my exact distance. This was bugging me this morning, so after lunch I hopped on the bike and decided to check it out. I have previously measured the first 20K and the last 8K, so I headed to the 20K point. Resetting my bike computer I rode my bike over the rest of the route from yesterday up to the point that I was sure of. To my amazement my bike computer showed 8.6K. So 20K + 8.6K + 8K = 36K+

In other words I didn’t run 34K/21M on Saturday, I ran 36K/22M!

Is this possible? I don’t doubt that there is some error marking a trail using a bicycle computer, but on the other side it works out pretty well with my average pace. If I really ran 36K/22M then my average pace was 5:57/K (9:35/M). This is entirely possible based on my average running times from previous long runs.

In any case I know that it was an excellent training run yesterday, very hard, but excellent. I feel good today. I even managed 20K/12M on the bicycle today. With my marathon exactly five weeks away I am confident that I will finish stronger than the last time if I don’t make any mistakes during the race (or up to the race).

In two weeks I want to repeat yesterdays route, if that goes well then I know I’m ready!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

My Longest Long Run to Date

This morning was my longest training long run to date. My goal was 34K/21M or time-wise about 3:30:00 to 3:40:00. I left the house about 6:15 a.m., after a small breakfast and a quick warm-up. My CamelBak was full of diluted sports drink, I had a couple sports bars with me, long sleeve running shirt - forgot my cell phone.

I first took the 11K straight asphalt-covered trail to the neighboring city of Karlsruhe. By the end of this first stretch my legs were already complaining about the hard asphalt surface. I took a right off this trail, ran a couple hundred meters than took another right and started heading back towards my town on a parallel trail. I could tell that I had been putting in some serious mileage this week (41K/26M not counting this run) – and my 16K/10M run Wednesday was over the hilly route!

By the 20K/12.5M point my legs were already begging for mercy, they were sore! My average pace up to this point was about 5:43/K (9:13/M), about 15-30 seconds faster than most of my long runs. I ignored my whining legs and dug in, I knew this was not going to be an easy day!!

I ran on, heading off the asphalt onto gravel & dirt trails around the 22K/13.6M point. After a couple more kilometers my legs stopped throbbing at least – they were just tired and sore. I wound my way over the Graben (neighboring town) Running Clubs trails. This was mentally the hardest part of the run today, I was unsure exactly how fast I was running, so was equally unsure of my distance. My legs were forcing me to slow down, I just wasn’t sure how much.

After 2 hours and 55 minutes I finally headed over the railroad bridge and onto my familiar 14K running trail. As I came to the first intersection I knew that straight ahead was about 5.5K until the house or left was 8.5K. Looking at my watch I knew I needed to go the long route and grudgingly did just that.

Having established my own landmarks to mark the kilometers along this route, I could then at least control my speed. I was still managing a 6:05-6:10 pace per kilometer (9:40-9:55/M). The sun was out in full force, my long sleeve shirt was getting too warm. I ran out of liquid in my CamelBak about 4K’s from home – not serious – almost home. I really had to fight to keep moving, my legs were feeling like wood, I was really stiff – must of looked funny :-)

Three kilometers from home the trail switched back to asphalt as I headed along the edge of our neighboring town of Spoeck. At this point the asphalt was almost an advantage – I couldn’t lift my legs so high anymore. I struggled on, one foot in front of the other one, past the school, onto the trail out of town – I could see the church steeple near my house – 2K to go! At some point along here I got an adrenalin rush, finished this kilometer in 5:30!

As I crossed the bridge over the highway and the last kilometer point I could feel my legs slowing again, I fought on. Almost home. Past the Boy Scout club, 500 meters...the mill, 300 meters...the church, there’s my house...gosh my legs hurt, whoever thought up this crazy idea to run so far...home!

Stop running, ouch-ouch, my legs hurt…walk it out. I walked for 7-8 minutes. I haven’t had such pain after a run since the marathon. So back in the house, stretched, cooled-down – laid on the floor and propped my legs up on a stool for awhile. The pain eventually subsided somewhat.

I ran 3 hours 34 minutes and 22 seconds, no breaks other than a short pee break. I’m pretty confident that I ran at least 34K/21M – as this is an average pace of 6:18/K (10:09/M) it was probably more than that :-O

In any case I feel like I brought my body very close to the edge of my limit, hopefully without doing any major damage, e.g. where a longer recovery is necessary. Tomorrow I am declaring a rest day. I may juggle my weight training and runs around next week to where I don’t run so far on Monday either. We’ll see.

In any case I ran at least 75K/46.6M this week! Wow, that’s a new record for me! I feel it today, believe me. I wanted to go out and do some work in the garden this afternoon, but my legs just told me “I don’t think so Jack!” Maybe in a few hours, wish I had my mom’s walker...

Friday, August 12, 2005

Long Runs and Fragrances of the Countryside

Yesterday was another day of mild cool weather, 24C/75F, occasionally sunny, in other words perfect running weather for this time of year. After completing my light weight training last night I headed out for a 3K jog. I tried to go as slow as possible and managed a 6:13/K (10:01/M) pace – nice and easy compared to my usually tempo!

Saturday is my longest training run to date, 34K/21M. Usual routine planned – up at 6 a.m., small breakfast, stretch and out the door. Based on my average long run pace I anticipate needing between 3:30:00 to 3:40:00. Two weeks ago I needed 3 hours 20 minutes for the approximately 32K/20M long run. I measure my routes with my bicycle, so I figure there is some degree of error – say plus or minus a half-kilometer.

For anyone that is curious: I always wear my 2-liter CamelBak filled with a somewhat diluted mixture of electrolyte drink. I also have 2-3 sports bars with me in case I need them. As my runs are rather long now I also carry my cell-phone, just in case I break down on the way. Most of the paths that I run are pretty well traveled, other runners, bikers, people out walking their dogs whatever. This gives my wife a sense of peace, at least somewhat – I used to look for trails where I never saw anyone, especially dog-walkers!!!

Other ponderings:

I gained infinite wisdom while on my little run last night and am delighted to pass this little tip on to you who run in the country: Under no circumstances run along a field where a farmer is spreading fresh liquidized pig manure on his field. Failure to heed this advice may result in shortness of breath, watery eyes, a burning sensation in the nose and accelerated heart rate (due to trying to run away from the source of irritation). Prolonged contact may result in blurriness (from the tears), possible unconsciousness (okay maybe not), and a general decline in sexual attractiveness until you burn your clothes ;-)

On the other side maybe we can bottle it and use it as an anti-dog spray. What do you think Jon?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

A Nice Hilly Run

Yesterday night I took the night off from racing old ladies (see yesterdays post) and headed to the town of Weingarten and ran my hill route. It has been over a month since I ran this route and I felt it as I wound my way up the first uphill portion. The thing I like about running major hills is that it slows you down (at least it slows me down), I’ve been running my training runs faster and faster over the last few months, which is good for my shorter races and overall training, but over the next few weeks I have a couple seriously long runs planned and need to watch my pace.

So up the hill I went, once I was over the first major climb I more or less fell into my hill running pace and was able to enjoy the rolling hills on top of the plateau. As I have been running 16K/10M instead of 14K/8.7M, I looped around and added a second major hill climb to the run before heading back to my starting point. Total running time was 91 minutes, I would guess I was pretty close to the 16K, but it is really hard to say for sure. In any case it was a great workout, my legs are a bit sore today, but now I can take it easy until Saturday morning when I run my 34K/21M long run.

Tonight I have light cross-training in the garden planned: mow the lawn, pull weeds, trim the berry bushes. If I get home in time I may do my weight training and jog a couple miles. Maybe grandma is waiting for a rematch with her bike ;-)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Racing Senior Citizens; Cold Wave in August!

Last night I did my upper body weight training then headed out for a light run. I had planned on doing a nice easy 3K/2M run, but my legs felt surprisingly good so I ran 6K/3.7M.

I did really good keeping my pace around 6:00/K (9:39/M) until about the halfway point. Then I hear this heavy breathing behind me. I figured that another runner was coming up behind and trying to pass me – doesn’t happen very often anymore. Anyway I instinctively accelerated (race instinct), but the person hung in there. I was starting to get really curious by this time so just started to look over my shoulder just as the person finally pulled up along side me. Turns out it was a 65-70 year old lady on a bicycle! As she slowly pulled by me she said something to the effect that I was running as fast as she was biking :-)

She managed to get about a bike’s length in front of me, but I could see she was getting pooped. Finally I did the best thing I could do in such a situation – I speeded up and left her behind to get a rest – poor girl! Good thing she was dealing with Jack and not the 70 year old dude that beat me in the race last Saturday – she probably would have had a heart attack trying to keep up with him ;-)

Other Ponderings:

We are have unseasonably cool weather so far this month. Yesterday at 6 a.m. it was 14C/57F and at 4 p.m. 23C/74F. This morning at 6 a.m. when I walked to the train station it was only 12C/54F, with a cool breeze. This is not normal – typically we have extremely hot days in August with temperatures reaching up to 37C/99F plus! This year I am wearing a jacket in the morning because it’s COLD!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A "Six Weeks To Go" Pep Talk

Sorry about the double post yesterday, Blogger has been acting up again.

Yesterday was my first day back to work after a week off, so I was ready for a run by the end of the day. Unfortunately I didn’t realize that the train schedules changed because of vacation season in Germany, so I was almost an hour late getting home. My wife was sacked out on the cough so I decided to go ahead and do my run.

The weather was still mild, 21C/70F, overcast, looking like rain. I warmed up, and set out on my 16K/10M route with a relatively slow pace. My goal was a gentle recovery run. As usual I gradually speeded up anyway, finishing the first 10K in 57:23. Around this point my legs started complaining so I tried to slow down again, eventually finishing my run in 1:32:32. My average pace was 5:47/K (9:18/M), entirely too fast for a recovery run. Of course I feel it in my aching muscles today.

I also made the mistake of taking a 30 minute walk with my coworker during lunch yesterday. It was nice, helped limber up the joints, but was probably not the best thing considering the run I had planned last night.

Anyway tonight I want to do upper body weight training (low weight) and maybe jog 3-6K (2-4M). I really feel like I need to do my hill run on Wednesday, but I question if I can recover enough by Saturday to do my approximately 3 hour 40 minute run (approx. 34K/21M). I guess my thighs will let me know!

Other Ponderings:

You may have noticed that I am pushing my training pretty hard. My goal for my next marathon is to finish in under 4 ½ hours. I am not a natural runner who glides effortlessly over the finish line of a race. I have to work for every step forward that I achieve. I’m sure many/most of you can relate to this. I don’t know if I will ever be able to invest so much time for training in the future, so I feel like I need to get over this hump now - on September 18th.

My first marathon taught me that you need to put in the time and the mileage. I agree with Galloway and others who say to finish you can do less and still get over the line. I achieved this! But in September I want more, I want to finish strong. In the last several months I have learned a lot about my body, I know I can push pretty hard, but I also know that the marathon will still be hard, really hard – on that day I will need to reach deep inside and hope that I can push all the way to the finish line...stay tuned!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Lots of Mileage Coming Up!

I had a nice pleasant day of recovery yesterday (read lazy). Despite taking two rest days last week I still ran a total of 71K/44M! Here is the breakdown:

Monday: 16K/10M run
Tuesday: Weight training (WT) plus 8K/5M run
Wednesday: 16K/10M run
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 6K/3.7M run
Saturday: 25K/15.5M race
Sunday: Rest

Here is my schedule for the next 6 weeks until the Baden Marathon (Sept. 18th):

Week 6 (this week): 75K/47M
Week 5: 63K/39M
Week 4: 77K/48M
Week 3: 63K/39M
Week 2: 47K/29M
Week 1: 18K/11.2M plus marathon

Week 6 I plan on trying a 34K/21M long run (this Saturday). If that goes well I will try a 36K/22M long run during Week 4 (otherwise another 32K/20M).

I may run a 10K or half-marathon at the end of Week 3.

For the record my wife thinks I’m insane.

Other Notes:

I have been dropping some weight training days the last week or two when I have felt the need. I am really trying to pay attention to my recovery days (e.g. actually taking some).

I am already getting pre-marathon anxiety about injuries, colds, getting bit by a dog, hit by a truck and other assorted paranoia.

My wife is starting her new job next week so has something other than my running to think about. I have a little breathing room for a few weeks. She has already started her list of things I need to do for her after my marathon (read don’t make any plans).

I will probably have to cross out a couple planned 10K runs for the rest of the year.

I found a great (read terribly challenging) mountain race for October. The Brandenkof Mountain Run. It’s only 10K, but with an elevation gain of 700 meters (2300 feet). Last year's winner needed 43:25.

Now this is insanity:

Can't be too hard??

I had a nice pleasant day of recovery yesterday (read lazy). Despite taking two rest days last week I still ran a total of 71K/44M! Here is the breakdown:

Monday: 16K/10M run
Tuesday: Weight training (WT) plus 8K/5M run
Wednesday: 16K/10M run
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 6K/3.7M run
Saturday: 25K/15.5M race
Sunday: Rest

Here is my schedule for the next 6 weeks until the Baden Marathon (Sept. 18th):

Week 6 (this week): 75K/47M
Week 5: 63K/39M
Week 4: 77K/48M
Week 3: 63K/39M
Week 2: 47K/29M
Week 1: 18K/11.2M plus marathon

Week 6 I plan on trying a 34K/21M long run (this Saturday). If that goes well I will try a 36K/22M long run during Week 4 (otherwise another 32K/20M).

I may run a 10K or half-marathon at the end of Week 3.

For the record my wife thinks I’m insane.

Other Notes:

I have been dropping some weight training days the last week or two when I have felt the need. I am really trying to pay attention to my recovery days (e.g. actually taking some).

I am already getting pre-marathon anxiety about injuries, colds, getting bit by a dog, hit by a truck and other assorted paranoia.

My wife is starting her new job next week so has something other than my running to think about. I have a little breathing room for a few weeks. She has already started her list of things I need to do for her after my marathon (read don’t make any plans).

I will probably have to cross out a couple planned 10K runs for the rest of the year.

I found a great (read terribly challenging) mountain race for October. The Brandenkof Mountain Run. It’s only 10K, but with an elevation gain of 700 meters (2300 feet). Last year's winner needed 43:25.

Now this is insanity:

Can't be too hard??

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Race Report: 25K Bellheimer Summer Nights Run

On Saturday, August 6, 2005 I ran the Bellheimer 25K (15.5 miles) Summer Nights Run for the first time. Bellheim is located in the Rhineland-Pfalz area of Germany, approximately mid-way between the cities of Mannheim and Karlsruhe, and about 40 minutes from the Town of Stutensee where we live.

This year was the 22nd year that the event has been offered. As is typical during this time of year the event was offered in the evening, partially to beat the summer heat, and partially to allow the Bellheim Sports Club time for it’s members to set up for the approximately 1300 participants. The course is 100% flat, consisting of asphalt or concrete surfaced roads and bike paths. The first 5-6 kilometers wind through the streets of Bellheim.

The race was scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m., so we left about 4:45, as we wanted to pick up our friend Eva on the way to the race. Eva lives in Rulzheim, a neighboring town of Bellheim. As I expected to be running for up to 2 ½ hours, we invited Eva along to keep my wife company while I was gone.

We arrived ahead of schedule in Bellheim, about 5:35 p.m., which turned out to be quite positive as we found a parking place right next to the fest hall (luck!). After orienting ourselves I went over to the sports hall where the start packets were being passed out and received my number bib and a transponder.

The transponder is worn on the right wrist by each runner and past over a scanner as we cross the finish line. At first the Velcro strap holding the transponder felt a bit awkward, but after awhile I forgot it was there. As this was my first time racing in Bellheim, I elected to purchase the bright orange T-shirt that was being offered by the club. In a lot of races the T-Shirt is included in the entrance fee, apparently this race costs more to organize, so was not included in the 8 Euro fee.

We made our way over to fest area where the ladies quickly found a cup of coffee and I a piece of cake. We sat and caught up with the latest news from Eva as we watched the other runners arrive. About a half hour before the race I made my way to the toilet for the last time and was relieved to see that I didn’t have to wait in a typical long line. From here I headed over to the start area and warmed up a bit.

About 10 minutes before the race I worked my way over to the Start. I noticed that there were a lot of people wearing T-Shirts from various marathons in Germany, obviously this run was not for the new runner, I humbly found a spot towards the rear of the group. I did notice a number of familiar faces, people I have seen at various running events. This race had a time limit of 2 ½ hours, however participants had to complete the first 12K (7.5M) in 1 hour 15 minutes and the first 19K (11.8M) in 2 hours. According to the race description anyone who didn’t meet these goals would be removed from the race. I don’t know if they actually did this or not. My race goal was a 5:45/K (9:15/M) pace, which would bring me back in just under 2 ½ hours.

Promptly at 7:30 p.m. the race began, I tiptoed slowly forward passing the Start line about 20 seconds after the official starting time, not bad considering the amount of runners. I ran the first kilometer with a time of 5:40/K (9:07/M), the second kilometer in about 5:20/K (8:35/M) then gradually settled into a pace of about 5:30/K (8:51/M). Approximately the first 5.5K was through the town of Bellheim, it felt like the whole town was out supporting us, every street was lined with cheering people.

After leaving Bellheim we ran on the highway (closed for the race) to the neighboring town of Westheim. I latched onto a group of three that seemed to be going about the pace I wanted to. The two slightly taller males and the female were probably about 15 years younger than I, my strategy was that they would help me keep my pace up. The female runner seemed to have the most energy, she kept running ahead of her two companions.

At about the 7K point I had to stop and answer the call of nature – but I lost only about 20 seconds. I increased my pace slightly and after about 5-6 minutes succeeded in catching up with the threesome. Around the 9K point one of the guys broke off to answer his call of nature. We passed the 10K point with a time of about 53:45, which is a pace of 5:22/K (8:39/M). When I consider that the average pace for my record half-marathon was 5:23, I was doing pretty well!

Shortly after this came a service point, I grabbed a cup of water, but kept running. It was here that I lost the three I had been following, they stopped and walked through the station. I kept up the pace thinking they would probably catch up, but I never saw them again.

I passed the 12K point with a time of approximately 1:04:45, well under the required time. I was feeling really good, my pace was strong, still around 5:30/K (8:51/M). We ran through the town of Westheim, again the streets were filled with cheering fans, I guess we were the big event for the area. I think the weather had a big influence on the crowds An hour before the race it was dark and gray, looking like a serious storm would arrive at any minute, however shortly after the race started the clouds dissipated and the sun peeked out the last hour or two of daylight. Through our initial run through Bellheim I noticed at the local bank that the temperature was 22C/72F, pleasantly cool for this time of year. In any case the crowds were enjoying the weather and giving their support.

As I wound the last street out of Westheim, I latched onto two “around 50” dudes wearing matching belts with 4 little water bottles. They passed me really slowly and I decided to see if I could keep up with them. As we made our way out of town the sun was slowly sinking behind the distant mountains, kind of pretty really, wish I had remembered to bring my camera (yeah, forgot it again). As we headed down an open road to the next town (Lustadt) the “dudes” were complaining to each other that we were running against the wind. As near as I can figure the wind was coming from the southwest. Based on the map above Lustadt is almost due south of Westheim, so we had been feeling the wind effect for almost the whole way since leaving Bellheim.

We ran through Lustadt, passing a water station, I ran and drank at least getting some water in me without pouring it all over myself. The dudes ran through without drinking, I guess they had enough of their own with them. I was having an increasingly hard time keeping up with them, either they were speeding up or I was slowing down. It was somewhere around Lustadt that we passed the 15K point, I remember someone on the sidelines yelling “10 more to go.” By this time my calfs were getting a little tight, I evaluated whether I needed to slow down or not, but elected to keep up the pace.

I kept up with the dudes until the next town, Zeiskam, as I was leaving the town a car came out of nowhere (side street) right onto the road where we were racing. Unfortunately I had to move to the side and lost my stride. After beaming a few choice thoughts at the driver I tried to catch up to the dudes but they got a head start and were pouring it on. I glanced back and noticed that a police officer on a bicycle was dealing with the car that was blocking the raceway. All right, give em’ hell Harry!

The dudes most have gotten a second wind, they pulled way ahead of me. As it was getting dark by this time I was having trouble seeing my watch, so I finally just settled into a comfortable pace and stopped worrying about my time. We ran along a narrow road for a couple kilometers, finally turning left onto a bike path paralleling the main highway to Bellheim. I guessed right that we had about 4-5K to go so did my best to pick up the pace. My legs were getting a little tired, but I tried to shut these thoughts off – I tried to remember some of the cadences from my army days – they always help me maintain my pace.

Luckily this last path was along a smooth bike path, it was pretty dark outside, and whenever a car came from the opposite direction I was momentarily blinded from their headlights. I tried to look away whenever a car came, but it didn’t help much. Phooey!

It was along this stretch that we passed the 23K point, I remember a youngster passing out sponges yelling “2 more, you can do it” to everyone who passed by. A few minutes later I reached to outskirts of the Bellheim. According to the description of the race the last 1.5K were to be lighted by “torches”. I guess I was too slow, most of the torches had burned out and I had to pick my way carefully along a couple dark paths the first few hundred meters going into town. Finally I turned left onto a main street and passed the 24K marker, 1 kilometer to go! I did my best to pick up the pace, but was kind of pooped by this time. But as I hear the crowds ahead I broke into my interpretation of a sprint and round the last corner and onto the street towards the finish line. After what seemed like an eternity I past under the finish and ran my right arm by the scanner. I hit my stopwatch as a club members collected the transponder as I exited the finish shoot and was directed to the finish area. Grabbing a couple cups of sport drink I glanced at my watch, 2:15:15. Wow, good time!

My legs were tight and sore so I walked up and down the street for awhile, grabbing another sports drink than found a spot to stretch a little. I then made my way over to the fest area to join the ladies. Although sore, I was feeling remarkably good, no cramps or pain, overall very satisfied. I collected the car key, picked up my sports bag and head to the sport hall for a quick shower. After some food, a couple beers and some good conversation I finally let them drag me home. What a great summer’s night!

A few stat's:

Total number of finishers: 1333
Fastest male: 1:28:04 (1959)
Fastest female: 1:42:43 (1972)
Last male: 2:58:15 (1969)
Last female: 3:06:55 (1983)

My time: 2:15:08.
Overall placement: 888th out of 1333.
Age group placement (M45) 155th out of 203

It is interesting to note that the oldest male, 70 years old, beat me by 14 1/2 minutes. Urgh!

Friday, August 05, 2005

Tomorrow: Bellheim 25K Summer Night's Run

Tomorrow is my next race, the Bellheimer 25K/15.5M Sommernachtslauf (Summer Night’s Run). The race kicks off at 7:30 p.m., the first 6K being through the town of Belheim, most the rest through the forest surrounding the town. The trail is 100% asphalt or concrete paths/roads, not leg friendly.

In any case participants have to reach the 12K/7.5M point by 8:45 (1:15:00) and the 19K/12M point by 9:30 (2:00:00), otherwise they will be removed from the race. In order to qualify for a prize (e.g. for an age group) you have to finish in under 2:30:00.

This works out to a minimum average pace of 6:15/K (10:04/M) for the first 12K and an average pace of 6:19/K (10:10/M) for the first 19K. However to finish the race in 2:30:00 participants must average a pace of at least 6:00/K (9:39/M).

Most of my half-marathons have been well under this pace, so for me it is only a question of endurance, maintaining the pace up to 25K!

As this is primarily a marathon training run my most important goal is to complete the run without injury and without tearing myself up to where I need a long recovery time (next Saturday is a 34K/21M long run on the schedule!). My goal time then is just under the 2:30:00 cut-off.

The latest weather prediction for tomorrow night, 22C/72F, breezy, cloudy with a slight chance of rain. Sounds like good running weather.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

I saw this survey floating around, so...

1. What are you training for now?
Short term: I am training for my second marathon, the Baden Marathon. (Karlsruhe, Germany), on September 18th. Long term: I have two goals in mind. The first is to break 1:50 for a half-marathon, probably next Spring. The second is try what they call here in Germany a Berglauf. A Berglauf, or mountain run, is basically a trail run with some serious hill climbing.
2. If you are raising money for a cause, what is it and why is that cause important to you? I signed up for a fund raising effort in connection with my marathon in September. I am running for an organization that assists children in need, a worthwhile effort in my opinion.
3. What is the farthest running you've done in training and what is the farthest running you will run before your event? As near as I could measure with my bicycle 32K/20M. I plan on running up to 36K/22M as part of my current marathon training.
4. What is your favorite flavor of gu (or other sports get)? I tried a vanilla gel and just about gagged to death. I'll stick to sports bars and drinks thank you!
5. How many days a week do you run? I usually run 3 but the last few weeks have added a 3-6K jog three more times a week!
6. Are you injured in any way right now? Nope, everything working like a Swiss watch.
7. What is the one type of running clothing/gear (shoes don't count) you can't live without? I never go anywhere without my running shorts (or pants);)
8. Do you have a talisman you are planning to take to your event? If so, tell us. I guess the closest I come is my stopwatch.
9. Share one thing about yourself we don't know. I collect John Deere tractors and machinery (see photo below)!

What to do on a rainy vacation day

My wife was bugging me about cleaning up my corner of the hobby room. I collect John Deere tractors and stuff and had more “stuff” than room to put it. So I decided to build some shelves to organize this hobby. Here is a picture of the resulting shelves. Not bad considering it used to be a pile of old plywood that my company threw out!

Next vacation maybe a weight lifting bench??

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Cool Temperatures = Fast Running.

Yesterday my wife had an appointment in the city so I did my weight training in the afternoon and went on an 8K/5M run. It has been cool and rainy this week, so really nice to run.

This afternoon I went on a 16K/10M run, it was about 24C/74F, sunny and cool. I flew over my route finishing in 1:25:10, or a pace of 5:19/K (8:34/M). I feel all motivated for my 25K race on Saturday night.

I may do my weight training tomorrow and maybe a bike ride. I want to get as much rest as possible before the race. As I mentioned in a previous post I have to finish the first 12K in 1 hour 15 minutes and the race in 2 hours 30 minutes. This is about 6 minutes per kilometer. A quick pace for the distance.

The weather is supposed to remain cool through the weekend, maybe with some rain. Not bad for a race! I am looking forward to it!!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Beautiful Running Weather Continues

After my very successful long run on Saturday I took Sunday off from training. The result was a speedy recovery, I felt really good when I ran my 16K/10M route last night. It was a bit cooler than it has been, 27C/80F, sunny, warm but not hot, a gentle breeze…at 4 p.m. I suited up, warmed up, and was out the door. As I started out I did a quick diagnosis on my legs, they felt good so I settled on a fairly quick tempo. I finished the first 4K with an average pace of 5:03/K (8:07/M), I felt good, I felt strong, I flew. I gradually slowed down to about 5:30/K (8:50/M) and just tried to enjoy the run. I kept a pretty steady pace until the last 2K where I decided to slow down to give the legs a break. I still averaged 5:25/K (8:43/M) for the 16K/10M run - bring on the 25K run on Saturday!!

This morning my legs are a little tight, but considering the pace last night, are in good shape. I think a couple factors have aided my training the last several days.

- I took 2 days off before my long run on Saturday, and 1 day after the long run.
- Since Friday I have been sleeping deeper and longer due the cooler weather we’ve been having.
- I’ve been eating like a pig all weekend, e.g. I have more calories to burn.

So how was your weekend?

A couple Stats:

Mileage this year:

January: 105K (65M)
February: 200K (125M)
March: 245K (152M)
April: 275K (170M)
May: 148K (91M)
June: 229K (142M)
July 267K (165M)

Total: 1486K (923M)

My goal for this year was 2000K (1243M), I don’t think I will have too much trouble reaching this goal:-)

On the other side my goal last week was 71K (44M), I only ran 67K (42M), I have to be careful that I don’t skip too many weight training days, the extra workouts were starting to pay off.

p.s. I had a wonderful birthday on Saturday, thanks for the many greetings:--))

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