Friday, September 30, 2005

What is a Scooter?

I mentioned riding on my scooter in my last post. Girl Running Sharon asked me „What is a Scooter?“ Fair question, a picture is worth a thousand words so here is my scooter:

This little baby is capable of almost 50 kph, requires only a normal automobile drivers license, is extremely economical, and a total blast to drive!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

A 16K Hilly Trail Run - Wow!

Yesterday was cool, cloudy, and 19C/66F as I headed home from work. My wife was at her English class so I decided to take my scooter to our garden club in Weingarten, a town about 11K from us. I suited up, pulled on my old jeans and a jacket for the cool ride and got the scooter out. I haven’t used it for a couple weeks so I had a hard time getting it started. Finally after about 10 minutes it coughed and gave in and I was on my way. About half way to the garden I realized that I had forgotten my sports bar and sports drink. When I run the hill route I like to get a little more energy inside before I tackle the route.

In any case I arrived at the garden, left my jeans and jacket in our garden house, warmed up and was on my merry way. I wanted to do about 10-12K, easy pace, but with some aggressive hill climbing. Typically I run 2K to a water-filled quarry, take a left, run another 1K or so which takes me over a busy highway and start heading up a heartbreaking hill climb. Now I have waited up to 5 minutes trying to get across this street sometimes, so I have been wondering how I can avoid this. There is an old tunnel that the farmers used to use to drive under the road (before their tractors got too large), but there was no direct route to the hill trails, the couple times I tried this way I always had to stumble over a field to reach my trails.

Well last night I decided I needed to look again, there must be someway, the farmer had fields out back, there most be a path or something. So I ran through the tunnel under the highway, took a left and ran maybe a 100 feet. I ended up in the middle of a farm yard, no paths here, thank God no dogs either. Whew, so back to the tunnel and down the right-hand trail. Now I tried this side before and ended up having to cross a field to get to my trail. But this time I carefully looked for any trail that I might have missed. I reached the very end of the dirt road and was resigned to having to cross the field when I saw it. At the end of the road the farmer (or someone) had a little shack with some fenced-in goats. There was a foot path that led behind this little complex. I wondered…so I take the trail, out behind the goats, past the goats and into the woodline. Yes! It turned out to be a horse trail, lots of dirt, lots of roots, streep, windy and it let me onto the very trail that I had been running the whole summer. Yes, no more dogging cars trying to cross the highway!

I decided to run the trail in the reverse direction, this eliminated the heartbreaking hill climb at the beginning, but added a couple more milder hill climbs. Well this did wonders, I ate this trail up, it was just the right mix of hill climbing, downhill and recovery straight-a-ways! I started taking a few detours towards the end so that I wouldn’t go downhill quite so drastically, rather these allowed me to “slither” down the hill.

Anyway out of sheer enjoyment I ended up running a lot further than I had planned, a total of 1:37:24, or around 16K/10M. What a totally satisfying run! My legs are comfortably sore today, that is, not achy – just a feeling that they had a good workout. I can’t wait to take this trail again – I may even do my long run up there, there are mega-trails that I haven’t tried yet! And no asphalt!!

Speaking of a long run, I am trying to decide if/when/how far for one this weekend. I tentatively wrote in 21K for Saturday. I am trying to decide if this is too much or too little two weeks after my marathon??

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Day Off

In the interest of a speedy recovery I declared yesterday to be an official rest day, e.g. no training. Instead I spent a couple hours last night working on a new Baden Marathon race webpage complete with:

- A kilometer by kilometer account of the event from my perspective (Yep, 42 pages plus).
- Pictures of the main points of interest at (or near) each kilometer marker.
- Historic information or interesting facts on Karlsruhe and/or the points of interest.

If all goes well I should be done with this virtual tour of the Baden Marathon and Karlsruhe at the end of the weekend. Actually I have to finish this weekend because I have very poor long term memory and will probably forget about all the pain if I wait any longer :-)

Happy training, tapering, healing or running!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Golden Rule of Recovery

Jon gently reminded me yesterday that the golden rule of recovery is a day of recovery for every mile you race (thanks Jon). I have ignored this rule of thumb for the entire year, as I have ignored a lot of other running advice, rules and common sense. I suppose that I could be more competitive (e.g. faster) if I would strictly follow recovery and training rules, but I was a rebellious kid in my youth and some things don’t change easily ;-)

I did concentrate on slowing my pace down considerably last night, at least in comparison to my normal training pace of late. This morning I am thankful that I did this, I feel really great, although I can tell that my legs are not fully healed from the marathon.

But anyway last night while practicing some wife-support (e.g. doing the dishes) I was thinking about what Jon said. I promised myself that I wouldn’t dwell or make excuses for my latest marathon performance because, well, because it really was not that bad. However it still nags me in the back of my mind why I seem to hit the wall so badly during a marathon. Before the marathon I played around with various race calcuators, formulas etc. and they all pointed to a sub-four hour marathon based on my HM and 10K races. I just want to know how I can gain control of the marathon, not let it control me.

Anyway, back to wife-support and meditating on recovery. I ran a 25K run on August 6 and took the next day off from training, then it was back to rigorous marathon training. On September 4 I ran a half-marathon, set a PR no less, took 2 days off and was back to training. Granted it was Taper Time and I was doing much less running, but still recovery was way too short.

So September 18th rolled around, I had tapered, but technically did not really recover from the half, and the runs that I made between the 4th and 18th were at full intensity. Then I get this brilliant idea that I am invincible and can run a marathon in 3:45:00 and set out to prove it. If you read the race report it is obvious that I am mere mortal and probably can plead temporary insanity for this decision.

But I will leave any negative vibes about the marathon for when I am 90 and reminisce about the days when I was a “kid” learning to run.I thank the good lord that I did not damage anything outside of my pride and am looking forwards towards the horizon and my next race.

Now I have promised myself that the rest of the runs this year are going to be less stress fun runs. I have my PR’s for the year, I need to get over this “need for speed” until Spring fever hits next year.

So I am totally looking forward to my Brandenkopf 10K Mountain Run on October 9th. It will be challenging, it is impossible to maintain the pace that I have been trying to do, and it is a totally different kind of race. An advertisement suggested it is a cross-country race up the side of a mountain. I can’t wait, this is just what I need in the moment!

Monday, September 26, 2005

A Nice 14K Recovery Run

Tonight was a nice pleasant 23C/73F as I headed home from work. The sun was shining off and on, with a slight breeze. My goal tonight was a 14K/8.7M run at a moderate pace. I ran 9K/5.5M yesterday and my legs are a bit tired. I still feel that I am not recovered from the marathon – so moderation was my goal. So after a short warm up I headed out at what felt like a painfully slow and boring pace. I succeeded in completing the run with an average pace of 5:54/K (9:29/M), probably my slowest paced run in at least 2 months with the exception of the marathon itself. Anyway that was moderate compared to what I have been running, so mission accomplished.

Tomorrow night I need to take a rest, I don’t want to overdo it my first week back to training. If the weather cooperates I may do a hill run on Wednesday night. Or if my legs are still sore I will just run my 9K or 14K route again and save the hill run for Saturday.

Swimming; Vacation 2006 Ponderings

After my little excursion to the swimming pool yesterday, where I managed to complete numerous laps with my glorified dog paddle, I have decided that swimming must be an excellent form of exercise. I have come to this startling conclusion after waking up this morning with a whole new series of muscles aching to the core. Talk about being stiff, I swear I heard the joints creaking this morning as tried to upright myself out of bed this morning. Gosh! In any case I am really looking forward to my swimming course that starts on Friday.

Other Ponderings:

My wife and I spent some time surfing the Internet yesterday looking at what it costs to fly to New York at various times next year. My preference is around the beginning of September, in enough time for the New Haven Road Race 2006. My wife’s preference is anytime that snow will not be a problem. So considering my parent’s rather rural residence, that would be from late-March to November. It seems that July and August are the most expensive months, so we will probably avoid these.

Generally we fly from Frankfurt, Germany to a large city (e.g. Philly, Pittsburgh, NYC) and then on to Syracuse, NY (90 min. drive from my parents). This time we took a look at a variety of cities in U.S. and Canada to see if is cheaper to arrive at another city. Detroit is now on the top of the list, with Boston and Cleveland as alternates. We have friends that we usually visit in Detroits’ St. Claire Shores suburb, so this would work. But we are still looking around.

Do any of you have any international flying experience that can make any recommendations?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Jack is Back

To running that is, today was my first post-marathon run. After relaxing and generally eating what I please for a week, today started the next phase of my running adventure, let’s call it the Winter phase. First step is to get this old body into shape for a 10K mountain run in two weeks.

So without looking back I headed out the door after church today and did a 9K (5.5m) run. I set my stop watch but decided to ignore it and let my body decide what the pace would be. The first couple kilometers were stiff, or rather I was, I can feel the 7 hours of garden work that I did yesterday. I have a problem standing on uneven ground for long periods of time, this leaves my leg muscles quite sore.

Gradually my legs loosened up and I feel into a groove. The sun was shining, a nice cool autumn day, 18C/65F. Clear sky, not wind, nice!

I finished the 9K/5.5M run in 50:05, a pace of 5:34/K (8:57/M). Pretty good for the first run after the marathon. My legs were comfortably tired, but not strained. So tomorrow night my wife starts were English course so I want to try a 14K/8.7M run. If that goes well then Wednesday will be a hill run.

Later this afternoon my wife and I went to the swimming pool in a neighboring town and did some laps. First time we have gone swimming together in ages, it was really nice.

A month or so ago I won a free week at a fitness studio for 2. Thursday night we are going and checking it out. The membership will probably be more than we want to pay, but we want to at least check it out.

Friday night is my first night for swimming course. I am looking forward to it, my self-taught swimming strokes wear me out, I want to learn the right technique.

So busy week ahead! Happy running.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Training For a Mountain Run

My next mini-goal is to complete the uphill 10K, 700 meter (2296 feet), ascent of the Brandenkopf Mountain in the Black Forest on October 9th. Now I have just finished a marathon so I can't jump into an overly intensive training session for the next 2 weeks. However, I am curious how people train for a mountain run so have been doing some surfing and have come up with a few ideas.

Running in mountain and other uphill races can be made much easier and performance greatly improved by specific training. Running uphill involves vigorous employment of all of the limbs of the body and of the cardiovascular system. The elite uphill performer has the following physiological characteristics:

• high aerobic capacity
• strong ankles
• very strong quadricep, hip and gluteal muscles
• well toned stomach muscles
• arms that can maintain a vigorous action for long periods without tiring and losing 'form'.

The first objective for the serious mountain runner aiming to improve uphill performance is to develop these characteristics through an appropriate package of training measures. The good news (for me) is that I obtained a lot of this during my marathon training program, supplemented with the weight training, pushups, sit-ups and occasional hill runs that I performed. Here is what John Harding recommended in an article called “Uphill Running”.

Training Activities That Improve Uphill Running

1. A high training volume to increase aerobic capacity. To run up a mountain, you must have very good endurance so that the legs and arms do not tire too soon, and you must have very good aerobic capacity so that the aerobic threshold is high enough to avoid anaerobic wastes clogging the muscles until nearing the finish.

2. Perform Overload and Recovery Workouts. Endurance levels are increased by overload and recovery workouts so that muscles are heavily fatigued and glycogen levels greatly depleted followed by easier days in which repair, replenishment and strengthening occurs. For the mountain runner, regular long runs and long bike rides throughout the year are the best options for optimum results.

3. Cycling. Cycling greatly strengthens the quadriceps and stomach muscles, while avoiding the foot strike pounding of running. The quadriceps muscles in the front of the upper leg are the engine room muscles for both cycling and running uphill.

4. Upper Body Work. Strong but not overly muscled arms greatly assist uphill running performance and keep the muscles in balance, and a couple of short weight training sessions a week throughout the year using moderate (not heavy) weights achieve this goal of adequate upper body strength.

5. Stomach Strengthening. Stomach strengthening exercises include sit-ups and doing cycling motions with the legs while the back is flat on the floor. Strong stomach muscles keep the spine well supported, assist good running form and help avoid lower back, hip and pelvic overuse injuries.

6. Stretching. Both uphill and downhill running fully extend the muscles in the front and the back of the legs. Hence a high level of flexibility is needed both to maximise speed and to avoid injury. This means maintaining a good stretching program as a routine throughout the year, and before racing having a good warmup and stretching regime.

I also found a couple tips for mountain running:

- Running as fast as possible to the top of a hill and then jogging back down tends to be counter-productive.

- A much better method involves bouncing up a hill, with high knee lift and vigorous arm movement that best looks like sprinting in slow motion.

So I think my training so far this year has been in the right direction for this race. Next week I need to head for the hills for at least a couple hill runs and maybe some hill repeats before race day on October 9th.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Running the Rest of the Year with Jack

For me the only thing worse than tapering is the week after a marathon when I don’t do any running. I feel like I ran full speed straight into a stone wall. Okay I admit my body needs a rest, but not running just doesn’t feel natural.

The good news is that there is a 10K race almost every weekend in our area for the rest of the year. I can run myself silly doing 10K races - I only have to try to refrain from actually racing every weekend so my wife doesn’t burn my running shoes :-O

I am already signed up for two 10K runs:

1) The Brandenkopf Mountain Run on October 9th. This is a nice area of the Black Forest, I bribed my wife with an overnight trip, hotel with an indoor swimming pool, restaurant and a day of sightseeing (and shopping).

2) The Rueppur Forest Run on October 15. My company is sponsoring a team for this Saturday afternoon run, so I have to support the team :-).

Any other runs will probably be spur-of-the-moment decisions, most are within a half hour of my house and I can sign up an hour before the race. I would like to run a half-marathon on December 3rd, but it's too early to commit.

In any case my winter schedule will probably look something like this:

Mondays: Run 14K (8.7M)
Tuesdays: Weight Training (WT)
Wednesdays: Run 14K (8.7M)
Thursdays: WT
Fridays: Swimming
Saturdays: 14K (8.7M) and a longer run every two weeks.
Sunday: Biking and/or swimming.

I may end up combining the WT and run nights if time is a problem.

When is my next marathon? I would like to do one in the late spring or early summer next year. BUT, between wife, work, house projects, garden etc, I do not foresee having as much time as I had this year. We also want to visit my parents in NY next year so this will have to be factored in as well. And if that’s not enough my wife’s job contract only lasts until the end of 2006. So anything can happen. I will just have to take it one step at a time!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss...

A rolling stone gathers no moss and a cross-training runner doesn’t gather any dust. I had another stressful day at work, too much on the table, so on the way home I considered how to deal with this. My wife had to work late so I had a little time for myself. It is still too early to start running in my opinion, my legs agree, so I decided to do my upper body weight training. I was amazed at how much this tired me out, this hasn’t happened before, it has been a couple weeks. Hmmm...

But in any case I’m a glutton for punishment so I did a couple more sets of push-ups and sit-ups and headed out for a 10K spin on my mountain bike. The latter felt good and loosened up all the leg muscles nicely.

I am thinking about heading for the swimming pool on Friday night, maybe I can talk my sweety into it too! My wife's English course starts again next week so I can knock myself out on the running on Monday and Wednesday's without worrying if I am biting into quality time together.

But for this week, can somebody run an extra mile for me?

Workout Guilt

Despite still feeling soreness in my calf muscles I am already getting impatient to get back to running. I feel almost guilty about not training, and having a hard time this week keeping the weight down. In any case I was reading a new book last night after my wife fell asleep, it had an interesting section on "workout guilt" that jumped out at me:

Workout guilt is the bane of the emotional life of many athletes. By workout guilt I mean the gnawing, guilty feeling you experience when you miss one or more workouts, and sometimes even when you merely think about skipping a workout. Like other forms of guilt, workout guilt is not rational. It is a natural effect of emotional dependence on a habit. Ironically, those athletes who train hardest (that is, who skip the fewest workouts) generally experience more workout guilt than those who train less, precisely because they are more emotionally dependant on the training habit.

A little workout guilt is not bad, but if you experience it often, something is wrong. Most often, frequent workout guilt is a sign that you’ve become too compulsive about training and need to lighten up. If you tend to dwell on a fear of losing fitness when you miss workouts, or if you go to extreme lengths to avoid missing workouts, you’ve simply lost touch with reality – in a way that’s both common and understandable, but unhealthy nonetheless.

Athletes who do these things are more likely to be overtrained than undertrained. Very few athletes, even among professionals are able to be quite as consistent in their training as they would like to be. Distractions, setbacks, and changes in plan are all parts of the game. As long as your training schedule is generally manageable, there’s no reason to panic about a missed workout here and there. If your training schedule is not manageable, that’s a problem in itself. The fear of lost fitness is nearly always exaggerated. Research has shown that highly trained athletes who sharply reduce their training for a few days or even two weeks generally come back without missing a step. [Taken from “Triathlete Magazine’s Complete Triathlon Book, by Matt Fitzgerald]

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Painful Calves and Future Plans

So today is my first day back to work after my little run on Sunday. My rear calf muscles are still in pain when I walk, sit or breath. I did not sleep well last night due to these muscles throbbing most of the night. They actually felt worse last night and this morning than on Sunday after the race. I think these are the muscles that are most directly effected by the hard road surfaces. It took a couple days after the last marathon before these started feeling better. I think this time it will be no better.

Today is my sweeties birthday, I offered to take her out tonight to her favorite restaurant, but she said she might take a raincheck until the weekend. One of her colleagues is sick so she has to work for two this week.

I am swamped with work as well, maybe it will help keep my mind off the pain in my legs. I may take a short walk during lunch to loosen up the muscles a bit. It can’t be any worse anyway (I hope).

So anyway I’m signed up for my next race, the Brandenkopf Mountain Run on October 9. It’s ONLY a 10K race. What is interesting is that the Finish is 700 meter (2,300 feet) higher than the start. Guess that’s why they call it a mountain run! This will be my chance to prove that I am part mountain goat.

In any case this week I am trying to reframe from any running. Today this is not an issue, believe me! If my legs feel better I may take a short run this weekend to see how the legs are doing. I hope to be back in training mode by next week.

I am not exactly sure how my training schedule will look for the rest of the year. For the next month or two I will be training for various 10K runs which are available in our area (almost every weekend). My next longer races are in January, a 15K run and February, a 20K run. Then we’ll see.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Look of a Marathon Finisher

Mia wanted a picture - so be it. Jack at the Finish line after receiving the finish medallion! September 18, 2005 - Baden Marathon

The Danger of Starting Too Fast

From „The Competitive Runner’s Handbook“ by Bob and Shelly-Lynn Florence Glover:

“The primary source of energy during the early stage of a race will be the glycogen stored in the muscles. If the paces unusually fast in the first few minutes, the quantity of glycogen used will be markedly great and the muscle’s stores will be seriously depleted. At the same time, the by-products of rapid glycogen breakdown may result in a large production of lactic acid, which increases the acidity of the muscle fibers. Proper pacing can minimize the threat of glycogen depletion and lesson the chance of premature exhaustion. Start too fast in a short race and “the Bear jumps on your back” as lactic acid builds up; start too fast in a long race and you’ll “hit the Wall” due to glycogen depletion. In a long race, you’ll suffer longer and may run so low on energy that you can’t finish. So go ahead, start fast if you want. You surely won’t be alone. It may work out. But when it doesn’t, let these words haunt you: “I told you so!””


Some Race Stats

Thank you everyone for your words of encouragement, as always this means the world! I apologize for leaving you hanging by spitting the race report. In the way of excuses I can only offer that my legs were hurting (spasms of pain), I was running some fever and coughing badly (yep, I caught a bad cold yesterday) and owed my wife some quality time. Weak excuses I know, but that’s all I have :-|

I am sure that I will be analysing my marathon for the next zillion years, trying to figure out why it didn’t go according to my plan. I am my own worst critic, never satisfied with my performance. This is good with some things in life, but other times this gets in the way, resulting in pushing myself so hard that my body just says “sorry dude”.

Some Race Stats:

23rd Baden Marathon

Total signed up: 2,465
Total started: 1,991
Total finished: 1,947

Interesting that almost 500 runners didn’t even show up, must have been too cold??

The first 3 male runners were all from Kenya:
Koech, Gideon – 2:18:45
Sawe, Elisha – 2:21:35
Kurgat, Eliud – 2:21:49

The first 3 female runners:

Ustianowska, Dorota (Poland) – 2:39:21
Renz, Sylvia (Germany) – 2:47:42
Brema, Susanne (Germany) – 2:49:43

My Stats:

Clock time: 4:40:41
Chip time: 4:34:14 (actual time)
Placement: 1,429 out of 1,947
Placement age group (M45): 245 out of 276


Out of the 6,703 half-marathon runners signed up, 5,488 started and 5, 469 finished. Again it is interesting that over 1200 runners didn’t even show up. I think it was too cold and windy for a lot of them.

I will try to get some pictures of the race together this week when I have time. Have a great week everyone!

Race Report: Part 2

So I made it to the 21K marker at about 1:53:00, a pace of 5:23/K (8:40/M). I had been debating all week whether to play it safe and run at a 6:00/K (9:39/M) pace, the same as I had been training at, or to go for it and try to maintain around a 5:30/K (8:51/M) pace. Obviously I elected to do the latter, and was even surpassing this.

So past the 21K point along a bike path, past the 22K, then a water service area, the 23K point. Between the 23-24K point we went over or under a serious of overpasses and underpasses navigating our way through a maze of highways and railroad tracks. It was here that I started to feel the fast pace that I had been maintaining. My legs had already been protesting against the hard road surfaces that I had been running. This happened during my training too so I ignored it. I did try to slow down a little bit as I was getting kind of worried about burning out. But as the 25K point arrived, I was still running at least a 5:30/K (8:51/M) pace. My total time for the first 25K (15.5M) was about 2:15:00, an average pace of 5:26/K (8:45/M)

As the service point arrived shortly after the 25K marker I grabbed a sports drink and a banana and walked through so I could consume these. Not a good thing, my legs started to tighten just from this short 45 second walk. This time when I started to run again I had to fight to pick up the pace again, I could feel that my energy level was getting dangerously low, my feet hurt too. The trail took a turn and headed north through a park, past the 26K marker, then popped out in an industry zone. Here again was a series of highways and train tracks to cross, then the 27K marker and a water point. I again walked through the point trying to get two cups of water down. As I started out again I felt tired – it was way too early for this.

The route went through a residential section, past the 28K, the 29K and the 30K. I was fighting to keep the pace going - my time at the 30K point about 2:50:00, an average pace of 5:40/K (9:07/M) – I was losing ground rapidly. The next service point arrived shortly after this, I again grabbed a sports drink and a banana and walked through. I think I must have walked a little further this time because when I started running again I was quite stiff and my legs were really killing me.

The race route headed out past the old American air field, against a stiff wind that chilled the bone (despite the sunny weather, the temperature did not rise much during the race). I passed the 31K and headed into the city again, past the 32K, then a water break at the 32 1/2K. I was really beat by this time and had to walk again. I remember feeling like I had absolutely no energy left at all, and my legs hurt sooo bad from the hard road surfaces. Was this the "wall"?

I stumbled on and ran maybe a ½ kilometer, than had to take another walk break, I was having a hard time to keep running. I ran several hundred meters more, past the 33K point, then slowed to a walk again. I couldn’t understand why I was so tired, what was going on with me? I managed to get the feet moving again, ran several hundred meters, walked a couple, ran again.

By the 34K my legs hurt so bad that I walked. By this time the route was winding its way around the palace gardens, I was in the back, almost no one around and I felt like crap. So I walked, maybe for a ½ kilometer or a kilometer, I don't know, just trying to get my head together. Finally I shuffled forward again – ouch my legs were cramped up. I had walked too long. I shuffled forward a hundred meters, walked, shuffled forward and so on, eventually passing the 35K marker and the service station. I grabbed a sport drink, ate a banana, drank a second sports drink all the while looking for a red cross volunteer or anyone that might be able to message my legs a little. No one, so I stopped and tried to stretch out a little. This seemed to help a little.

With seven kilometers to go I was in a world of hurt, the 4 hour pace group ran by, as did seemingly all the other runners. By now I was reduced to a whining shadow of myself, shuffling forward a couple hundred meters, walking 20-30 paces, shuffling a couple hundred meters and so on. I passed the 36K marker just as the course headed into the main market area of Karlsruhe. The streets went from hard to harder as I started running over cobblestones. I must have been in a daze as I don’t remember passing the 37K marker.

The 38K marker I remember because someone was yelling “4 more K” to every runner (or dazed shuffler) that went by. I glanced at my watch somewhere around the marker and recall around 4:02:00, still an average pace of 6:22/K (10:15/M), despite all the walking.

I would love to say that I reached deep inside and gathered the strength and sprinted to the finish, but this just didn’t happen. I crept forward walking, running, walking running – on and on for what seemed like an eternity. I remember seeing the 39K marker right before we turned and ran by the zoo. Then it was more streets to the 40K. At the 40K marker there was another service area, I grabbed a sports drink and a sports bar, munching a bit but throwing most of it away, my stomach was a mess.

I ran and walked the next kilometer, determined to finish. I passed the 41K marker - almost there. I did my best to run the last 1.2K, I know I had to stop once, but somehow I managed to run over the finish line. I even remembered to smile, or it felt like a smile...

At 46 years old, having been running regularly for only about 2½ years, finishing a marathon at all is a victory! However this victory was somewhat bittersweet as I know that I could have done better. Somehow I had become greedy for a fast finish and didn’t pay close enough attention to the warning signs. On the other side I decided to gamble with a faster pace, it worked for awhile, but it didn’t work out.

Today I feel old, worn out, sore, happy that I finished, sad that I couldn’t keep running like I wanted too, but overall satisfied that I finished my second marathon and cut 35 minutes off my time (PR)!

Will there be another ‘M’ in my future? Don’t ask me today I might say no. But despite the pain, the hardship, the “hitting the wall” I still wonder: “if I slowed down to a 6:00/K pace maybe I would be okay”. That of course would have to be proven...but not this year.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Baden Marathon Race Report: Part 1

I woke up at 6 a.m. this morning to a fresh 7C/44F. Forget cool, it was cold! I had a healthy breakfast, took care of my morning toiletries and we hit the road right around 7 a.m. We managed to get one of the few remaining parking places about 400 meters (~1/4 mile) from the sports hall sponsoring the HM/M. The toilet lines were already forming as we entered the hall about 7:45. I got my wife situated in the main bleaches where I could find her again and stood in line.

About 8:45 I said goodbye to my wife and went outside and found the start. I lined up behind the 4 hour finish group, but did not see the pace leaders anywhere. Where were they? They were missing! I kept looking around but I never saw them. Strange.

Anyway promptly a 9 a.m. the race started, it took about 3-4 minutes before moved anywhere, and then it was a slow WALK to the start line. Right before the start line we finally started to move a little. It was pretty crowded the first couple kilometers, I still managed to establish my 5:30/K (8:51/M) pace. We ran by the new Karlsruhe Media Center and headed down the main street of town, finally taking a right onto a highway (B10) that will eventually lead us out of the city to the neighboring town of Durlach. I was fairly consistent with my pace, but it was still cold 10C/50F (according to a thermometer at a Bank). I was wearing my longer running shorts, running shirt and a long sleeve running shirt. I was still kind of cold as I ran down this street as we were running directly into a rather stiff wind.

Anyway we followed the B10 highway past the 3K, 4K and 5K point, over the Autobahn (main highway) and into Durlach. There the route took an immediate right, passed the 6K point, and started winding through the smaller streets on the edge of this town. There were not as many people out as last year, probably too cold! I passed the 7K, 8K, 9K and 10K point. Right before the 10K point was the first service area, they were offering only water. During training I was already drinking sports drink by this time – not good! Passed the 10K point at roughly 53:10, an average of 5:21/K (8:37/M) – too fast!

Shortly after the 10K we went through a small tunnel under the Autobahn and entered the Oberwald Forest. Here is was really cold, totally in the shade (the sun was shining in the open areas). I passed the 11K marker, then the 12K. At the 12 1/2K point the intermediate service points started, offering water every 5K. We ran through the Town of Ruppur passing the 13K and 14K markers. The route than headed out past a garden club. At the 15K point there was finally a service area with sports drink! It was kind of windy along this stretch as one side was open fields. I passed the 16K and we headed through another forest, at least this blocked the cold wind. I passed the 17K point and headed back into the town, this was the last stretch for the HM. People started to pass like crazy, this was not good as I speeded up too! I had to fight this urge! So past the 18K, the 19K, we turned left, still in town.

I crossed the 20K marker in around 1:47:30, a pace of 5:18/K (8:32/M) – way too fast. I was starting to feel this too, I tried slowing down some. Anyway at the 20K point was another service area, I grabbed another sports drink a piece of banana. The HM runners were really starting to whiz by at this time, they were almost finished! For some odd reason I had a strong urge to finish too, totally negative thinking on my part. Not good.

Anway at the 21K marker the HM people took a right and headed to the finish, the ranks really thinned out fast! I passed the 21K marker at about 1:53:00, a pace of 5:23/K (8:40/M). For comparison purposes I ran the first half of my marathon in May in 2:12:17, a full 15 minutes slower. In any case as you will read in part 2 of this report this expedient pace will have dire consequences for the second half of my marathon.

End of part 1. Part 2 will follow tomorrow.

Baden Marathon - Short Report

I'll keep this really quick for now. I finished. I set a PR. I was a lot slower than I had counted on. But I am happy, I finished!

My official time:

Clock time: 4:40:41
Chip time: 4:34:14

I placed 1429 our of roughly 2800 runners.

The short story is that I went out too fast and hit the wall really hard at about the 30K point and had to fight my way in (again).

But that's all right, I am totally satisfied that I am a slow marathon runner.

I finished my second marathon!! Yippeeee!!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

'M' Day Minus One and Counting!

Well, tomorrow’s the big day. Am I nervous? To be sure, but in a positive way.

The weather forecast for tomorrow: 11-15°C warming to 19°C, cloudy with a slight wind. I’m a bit concerned on what to wear. I thought about pink with an orange hat ;-) No actually I mean because it will be fairly chilly for a just a short sleeve shirt when I start out. My normal long running shorts are fine, but I am wondering if I should throw on an old T-Shirt for the first half that I can eventually discard or something in this direction.

My chip is in place on my shoe (I bought one as I can use it in several races in the area). I am picking up my start number after lunch today. I will also pack my sport bag today with a change of clothes and shower stuff for after the race tomorrow. Showers are available at the sport hall where race is held.

I had 10 hours sleep on Thursday night and about 8 hours last night. I will TRY to get in bed early tonight. I need to get up around 6 a.m. and be on the road by 7:00. I know from last year when I ran the HM that the parking lot fills pretty fast so I want to arrive an hour and half early. The ‘M’ starts at 9:00 a.m.

The first half of the race is the same for the HM and M – it is the same route that was used last year so I know the first half pretty well. I have been studying the second half of the route and have it pretty well in my head. Of course I know the area pretty well after having lived in Karlsruhe for 3 years in the 1980’s while in the military and living in the area for quite a while. I guess I have hometown advantage.

So I plan on taking it easy for most of today. I need to run a couple errands when I pick up my start packet, otherwise I plan on sitting and working on my genealogy webpage (e.g. staying off my feet). For motivation I have the race route and a picture of the RBF New Haven Road Race Crew 2005 hanging next to my computer. I thank everyone for the support and encouragement. It DOES mean the world to me, I love you guys.

Tomorrow morning is the final test! Time to do it!!

Friday, September 16, 2005

A Lazy Vacation Day Declared

Last night I headed out for the last run on my training schedule. Nothing exciting, a 9K loop around the fields surrounding my town. The weather was cool (about 21C/~69F) and cloudy with some humidity. I maintained a nice intensive 5:15/K (8:27/M) pace, felt good afterwards and just wished that I could have run further. One incident, I rounded a corner on the edge of town and found myself in the middle of two large unleashed dogs, with the owner half way down the street gabbing with another lady. Too late to do anything I just closed my eyes and kept running. After a few seconds I realized I didn’t get bit or hit a light pole so kept going, whew!

I took the day off work today, preferring to vegetate in my house today. I have a few errands to run, but will spend most of the next two days catching up on my reading and updating my websites. I will probably go on a walk tonight so the joints don’t get rusty, but otherwise I want to try to stay off the feet. Tomorrow I will take the train and streetcar to Karlsruhe and pick up my race packet (and the heart starts pumping harder...).

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Marathon Strategy

This morning in the newspaper was a full page layout of the marathon route to help aid the runners and cheerleader support crews (cool!). The route is 100% flat and 100% paved city streets or bicycle paths. The hardest part of the route is between kilometer 36-40. Here the route twists through the old streets of the market area of Karlsruhe, whereas a couple kilometers are cobblestone. Cobblestone is absolutely the hardest surface that I have ever ran on, period! With luck I will be numb by this time and won’t feel any more pain :-)

I was sitting on the train last night skimming though “The Competitive Runner’s Handbook” by Bob and Shelly-Lynn Florence Glover and came across a “Race Strategy” section. Of course then I start thinking about my ‘M’ strategy for Sunday. But rather than getting all stressed trying to figure out what is “the best strategy” I have decided to simply:

- Run at an average 5:30/K (8:51/M) pace.
- Reevaluate the pace every 5K based on the weather and any other factors.

In other words if I am having a good day and there are no factors effecting my running I should finish in under 4 hours. This is a totally realistic goal for me, based on my training pace (5:45-6:00/K) and race times (HM 5:18/K pace), so I am going to give it my best shot!

A few of my colleagues said they will probably be along the race route, they said they will give a shout if they see me! For the RBFers from North America: When you crawl out of bed on Sunday morning don’t forget to cheer real loud, and maybe say a quick prayer as I will be close to the “Wall Zone” when you wake up! The race starts at 9:00 a.m. local time, 3 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

So one more 9K run tonight, then a couple days of relaxing, then the big day! I can’t wait!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Okay, I'm Calm

Last night I had a truly great run! First the weather was a mild 22C/72F, overcast but not humid or windy. I flew around the 9K/5.6M route with a seemingly comfortable 5:18/K (8:32/M) pace. I was tempted to go around a second time but wisely reframed from doing this. I had a good stretch afterwards, did some extra pushups and sit-ups and felt totally refreshed!

My wife made a really good pasta dish with mushroom sauce, fresh zucchini cooked with rice and green peppers and some green salad on the side. I spent the night relaxing with my wife, reading down my pile of neglected magazines and just chilling out. I even managed to make it to bed by 9:30 (I get up at 4:45 a.m.).

This morning I feel great, no soreness in the legs, I can really tell the tapering is working. I am looking forward to running the marathon, but will still be glad when it is over and I can get back to my normal training. Somehow tapering is just not my thing, I prefer to be pushing hard all the time!

Today I have a lot to do at work so hopefully won’t start dwelling on ‘M’ day. I know that I have trained well, I will finish, I will try hard to finish in around 4 hours, and if I don’t that’s alright if I know I gave my all. The next few days will still be nerve racking, its part of tapering, if I survive this the race will be a piece of cake!

Thursday is my last run, probably another 9K at marathon pace. I am debating weather to go for a short jog on Friday night or Saturday morning – just a 10 min. lap around town to loosen things up and settle the nerves.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Living with Pre-marathon Brain Dysfunction

So it’s lunchtime, half of the workday behind me. It is a looonnnngggg day today. I am starting to get impatient to get this marathon behind me. I think this is a first-time emotion for a race. It’s kind of like I’m tired of going up and down the emotional roller coaster I just want to run the ‘M’ and get it over with. Then I can get psyched for my swimming lessons, catch up on other things in life that I have been missing this year, and get back to training for whatever race is next.

Other times, when my perfectionist side kicks in, I feel like I have a final exam on Sunday and I need a perfect score to pass. Then I have to remind myself why I run: for fitness, for fun, for me – I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Sure I would like to finish under 4 hours, but do I REALLY want to finish in under 4 hours?

I find myself pondering what Blondie wrote this morning:

“So much of running is what goes on between the ears. I remember my high school coach telling us that racing was 90 percent mental, only ten percent of it was physical. At the time I really didn't want to believe her, but I also didn't want to do anything that hurt. Until my senior year, I didn't care if I was any good or not. To be honest, that was even questionable my senior year. I was perfectly content just as long as I was on varsity, I didn't really want any pressure from other people to do well. Back then, I would rather give up than be leading a race. I was so freaked out to be in front, so scared that someone would catch me and pass me, that I would actually stop and walk. Things have definitely changed since then, but the mental toughness is something that can still be a struggle when things aren't going so great.”

Now I never have even come close to leading a race and have never even felt lousy when (not if) someone past me. But I wonder if I’m mentally tough enough? Mentally tough enough to finish a marathon – yes! Mentally tough enough to start out at a knowingly fast pace and try to hang tough at this pace till the bitter end – I don’t know?? But I’m learning there is a difference. My running is slowly evolving, I am no longer satisfied with just finishing – I want to finish as fast as I can!

Does this mean I am going to stretch the limit on Sunday? I don’t know that either. I am trapped between “I need to be safe and finish strong” and “I need to go for it and risk everything, even not finishing!” Like, can’t we meet in the middle somewhere guys?

I think I can almost understand why some dudes lose their breakfast right before a race starts.

Does all this gabber make any sense or am I just losing it?

Pre-marathon Brain Dysfunction

Susan unknowingly provided the title for today’s blog. I think this rather dignified substitute for Taper Madness fits especially well to the emotional soup that I was dishing out yesterday. My wife rescued me last night, she took the streetcar to Wal-Mart after work than called me and told me to come and pick her up. Then she dragged me around shopping for the rest of the night. I mean to admit that she rescued me by dragging me around shopping is definitely a sign of brain dysfunction, as normally I can’t stand shopping, period!

Anyway it was a good distraction, the evening was just about shot by the time I finally dragged sweety with heels dragging ;-) from the last store (no Wal-Mart was not enough). I was so emotionally drained from this traumatic experience that I hit the sack at 9:15 p.m. and slept like a baby the whole night. Five more nights to go!

Tonight I have a 9K run on the schedule so the world will be okay!

Actually I am pretty relaxed and feeling positive this morning. I think the tapering and extra sleep are starting to do their work. I also thank all of you for your encouragement and understanding. This means so much to me!

So far it looks like the weather for Sunday is going to be favorable. According to this mornings newspaper it should be partly cloudy with temperatures at 6:00 a.m. at 11C/52C rising to 21C/70F through the day. It could be a little windy, but otherwise it sounds almost perfect! Now I only have to decide what I need to wear...

I was looking at the Baden Marathon homepage yesterday, they have a cool animated course plan. I know the first half of the course pretty well because I ran the half-marathon last year, so I am concentrating on memorizing the second 21.1K (12+ miles). I think it is a good strategy to learn the course the best you can before a race. This always helps me from going insane the last several kilometers.

So off to work I go!

Monday, September 12, 2005

The First Signs of 'M' Nervousness

I feel the first twinges of nervousness in my veins today.

The first sign is the almost uncontrollable lust for anything sweet – cookies, cake, chocolate, give me something sweet to gnaw on!

The second sign is every little muscle or joint that even remotely feels out of whack sends a signal to the brain that is amplified and immediately results in a panic signal! My legs feel tired today, oh no, did I run too much yesterday? I shouldn’t have worked in the garden on Saturday! Why did I go swimming on Friday night? Did I pull a muscle? What is wrong with me? I need to sit down! I need to take a walk! Ahhhhh!

And then there is the nagging feeling that I shouldn’t move, breath too much, or change anything-including-my-underwear until the marathon starts.

And lordy when a dog comes too close – back, back, the dog is not on a leash. I don’t need a dog bite – not nowwww! Breath, breath, air, air, whew! That actually happened yesterday when I was running. I ran across a couple riding their bikes through the woods with a big black dog between them. The dog wasn’t on a leash - I headed into the trees, for real! They most have thought I was out of my mind!

The worst though is thinking about my pace. I tried really hard not to think about how fast I am going to try to run the marathon because I knew it would drive me insane. Well, it’s driving me insane. I was sitting at work this morning typing away on a new user handbook and the little thoughts start popping into my head. Next thing I know I’m typing: “Based on my half-marathon pace x 2 plus 10 minutes I should be able to run the marathon in 3 hours and 46 minutes.” Wait, wait, what does that have to do with this product? But then, of course, I have to calculate what my average pace would need to be (about 5:30/K, 8:51/M). Then I have to ponder if I can hold this pace for almost 4 hours. Then I worry it's too fast. Then I think I'm a Wimp. And of course by that time I can’t remember what I was supposed to be writing about in the user manual so I have to start all over again. Ahhhh!

It’s going to be a long week...

Pre-race Nervousness – Alive and Healthy.

I said an extra prayer in church yesterday for those who lost loved ones on September 11th. German television didn’t have too much to say about it, only that the U.S.A. was remembering this tragic day. It was one of those days that makes it hard for me to be an American living in a foreign country. Probably why I was pigging out all weekend, especially sweets.

In any case at least I ran yesterday, a little further than I probably should have, but at least I didn’t try to set an overland speed record. To save you having to look at yesterday’s post – I ran 14K/8.7M at a 5:34/K (8:57/M) pace. I had intended on running maybe 10K, oh well, I think I will still be ready for ‘M’ day.

I noticed that my legs were quite tired yesterday, I think this was a result of running, then going swimming Friday night and standing on the uneven surface of the garden for hours on end on Saturday. I am definitely not used to swimming, and working on the uneven surface of the garden beds always leaves me aching for some reason.

So I have decided that the garden will remain neglected until after the marathon and that I will reframe from any cross training that I haven’t done regularly until next week as well.

Well, race day is approaching much faster than I would like. I can feel the butterflies churning up the stomach. I have a couple more shorter runs to complete this week, mostly so I don’t forget how to run in between now and race day. As the nerves start going wacho anything is possible ;-)

Yesterday I sat and watched part of the Cologne marathon that took places yesterday morning in Germany. This is one of the few times that I have caught myself thinking about my own marathon strategy. In a brief moment as I stared at the runners crossing the finish line in Cologne I had a near vision. I realized that I will head out on the 18th on a quest to conquer the mountain in front of me, to run until it hurts, to run to exhaustion, and with a final burst of adrenalin thrust myself over the finish line. I am a runner, there is no other choice!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Tapering 101: Don’t Make Major Changes Your Diet

The title is the golden rule, unfortunately I didn’t listen to it. I’ve been pigging out the entire weekend, lots of cake, a few beers, more cake, chocolate, too much meat etc. The trouble is that my body is not used to all these calories, I’m not running so much and as a result I feel sluggish. I’ve also gained a pound or two, which in itself is almost expected, the trouble is that it was too much sugar and fat calories.

I went for a 14K/8.7M run this afternoon and felt like I was carrying a bowling ball in my stomach. I also felt sluggish during the whole run, no zip! I still managed a 5:34/K (8:57/M) pace, which kind of surprised me, I felt like I needed about 15 minutes per mile.

In any case I need to really watch my diet during this last week before my marathon. I was doing really well eating pasta and salad at least once a day, with meat just once every day or two and almost no sweets.

I was watching the Cologne (Germany) Marathon today before I ran. First and second place winner for the men were from Kenya, no big surprise. The winner finished in 2:11:xx and was fit for an interview with a couple minutes. Amazing! The first female runner was a German who finished in 2:34:xx I believe. Blazing fast gal, third time she won the marathon in Cologne!

It was interesting to watch the “normal” people finishing, those that need more than 4 hours. It is somehow comforting to see that I’m not the only one who looks like they need oxygen when they finish. You can almost tell the ones that finish their first marathon, the faces are all aglow, some break down in tears, all are overcome with emotions. Wow!

Well next Sunday is my big day. Anybody else racing next weekend?

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Tapering 101: Stay Busy to Keep From Going Mad

Today I was too busy to think about Tapering Madness. First I dusted off my very neglected workbench in my workshop and spent 3 hours cleaning up an old tool chest that I am restoring for my neighbor, Guido. Now Guido said that the tool chest was built by his grandfather who was a master carpenter. Based on a couple books that I have on early furniture building techniques I would say the chest was building the 1920’s or so as it was put together with nails rather than standard joinery. Guido though that it was from the late 1800’s as most of the tools that were in it are from this era. An interesting project anyway.

This afternoon I drove my scooter out to the garden and dug up our potatoes. With almost 30C/88F outside this was a good workout. It was nice to see that our small potato patch yielded at least 50-60 lbs of potatoes. Does digging potatoes qualify as cross-training?

Anyway I got home just in time for a frozen pizza and a salad. My wife had spent most of the day helping our neighbor’s wife Alex bake 50 cakes for a wedding, so she didn’t feel like cooking.

After dinner I went outside to lock up our shed and happened to glance in the laundry room…what water…the washing machine was spilling out water flooding the laundry room. Ugh! So my nice relaxing evening started out with helping my wife mop up the laundry room and doing some quick maintenance on one of the most important appliances in our house. Turned out to be a warn rubber gasket, glad I had a spare.

So now, almost 8 p.m. I finally have a few minutes to relax. Another day during Taper Time out of the way! Tomorrow I want to run maybe 16K/10M, but at a slightly slower pace if this is possible.

Seven days to my marathon – at 9 a.m. on September 18th I will be standing with around 2000 others that want to run the Baden Marathon and about 6-7000 that want to run the Baden Half-marathon. Yeah, I’m ready!!

Friday, September 09, 2005

A Shorter Fast Run & An Adventure at the Pool

After I got home from work I suited up, warmed up and headed out for a run. I finished the first kilometer in 5:30/K (8:51/M), exactly the pace I was looking for. But I felt like I was going a lot slower, kinda dragging. It was 30C/87F outside, humid, and the storm clouds were gathering. So I decided to speed up some and reduce my mileage from the planned 14K/8.7M to 9-10K.

My kilometer splits.

1K – 5:30 (8:51/M)
2K – 5:05 (8:11/M)
3K – 4:50 (7:47/M)
4K – 4:55 (7:55/M)
5K+ - unmeasured distance somewhere between 1-2K

Last four kilometers:

4K – 5:15 (8:19/M)
3K – 5:05 (8:11/M)
2K – 5:00 (8:03/M)
1K – 4:35 (7:23/M)

My neighbor G. was watching me sprint in, he thought it was the funniest thing – maybe my belly wiggles or something :-)

Anyway a shorter run, but intensive. I guess I went around 9-10K

After cooling down I had some chicken and a tossed salad with my wife, then chilled out for a half-hour. My wife went over to the neighbor to help make 50 (fifty) cakes for a wedding tomorrow. So I decided tonight was the night to go to the swimming pool and get some practice in before my swim course at the end of the month.

I love to swim, I just never learned the right technique. I reminded myself just how bad I was as I attempted to complete 10 x 50 meter laps. I went two laps and had to take a break. Then I had to take a break after each lap. Gosh do I swim bad, I can get from one end of the pool to the other, but everyone flys buy me. I swear the 70 old lady on her bicycle this summer that I passed while I was running was there getting her revenge ;-)

Anyway I completed 10 laps, then took a break. After 10 minutes I tried to do a couple more laps, but by that time the pool was too full and I spent more time dogging people than moving forward so I called it a night.

My eyes are blood-red and tired, I think I need to buy some swimming goggles before my class starts on the 30th. I also need to be careful about doing too much swimming before next weekend (M-day) as my legs aren’t used to this, I used muscles that I didn’t know I had.

In any case this is a good indication that swimming needs to be a part of my overall fitness plan. I also confirmed that I really need a swimming course so I can learn to swim properly. I expend a lot of energy due to poor form.

Sunday I want to run a moderate 16K (10M), nice and easy.

Have a nice weekend.

Tapering 101: The Taper Madness Zone

I had a colleague asking me about my marathon strategy this morning. Of course this totally put me over the edge into the Taper Madness Zone.

A scaled-down sampling of this conversation:

Him: So how fast are you going to run your marathon?
Me: I want to finish in under 4 ½ hours.
Him: But you’ve been running your half-marathons in under 2 hours, you should be able to finish in 4 hours or less!
Me: (thinking – so have you been reading my blog or what?) I probably could run faster but I want to make sure I finish strong.
Him: (obviously not understanding this thinking) You could probably finish in 3:45 if you really pushed it. You should just go for it.
Me: (thanking the dear lord that the phone rang) Sorry, I have to answer the phone.

Of course now I have all these thoughts driving me insane. I know that I could probably finish in 4 hours or less, if I am having an ideal day, eat the right pasta mix, get enough sleep, have perfect weather, don’t get nervous, don’t start out too fast,... well you get the idea.

Up until this morning I have tried to keep this line of thinking out of my head (yeah, thanks a lot good buddy, I owe you one) because I knew it would drive me nuts like it did with the first marathon.

With my last several races I have done really well at listening to my “body signals” during the event and basing my pace on the rhythm. This isn’t some kind of spooky physic stuff, rather just applied experience of listening to my body and setting my pace based on how my body reacts to the tempo I am applying. It appears to be working as I have been setting PR’s right and left. The final exam is coming up on the 18th!

I do know from my long runs that I have to be particularly alert to the warning signs during the first 10-15K, as too fast of a pace here will leave me wiped out after 2-3 hours of running. This is pretty basic stuff really, most authors and experts will warn you about starting out too fast. For my first marathon I defined “too fast” as any split under 6:00/K (9:39/M).

So what is my “too fast” pace for the Baden Marathon in 9 days? Well that depends, on whether I’m having an ideal day, eat the right pasta mix, get enough sleep, have perfect weather, don’t get nervous, don’t start out too fast,...

I haven't run for two day, gosh do I need to go for a run, I'm having withdrawl symptoms :-O

Tapering 101: Carbo-loading!

Last night we were invited to a birthday part at our neighbors (and good friends) G. and A. Their little daughter Saskia turned 4 years old. Upon arriving at 5 p.m. we were greeted with cake and coffee. Now A. is a learned Confectioner and her cakes are about as good as they get. Her Black Forest cake with real chocolate flakes, whipped cream and 10 zillion calories will put you into sugar overdose and seventh heaven. Her cheesecake is light, scrumptious and just leaves you sobbing, it is sooo good. You can understand why G., pictured in the yellow shirt below, has an overhanging waistline:-)

Anyway after cake and coffee, lots of good conversation with G. and A.’s relatives and a couple other neighbors that were invited we were treated to a real runner’s meal: Mountains of spaghetti with rich sauce, fresh parmesan cheese, fresh home grown salad, red wine, beer, schnapps, and assorted other non-alcoholic drinks.

Needless to say I am still stuff this morning as I write this. What a fun evening, good company, excellent carb’s, and just a wonderful way to get through another night of tapering!

Tonight I want to run 10-12K to work off some of the calories from last night. Here are a couple pictures of the fest. Saskia is shown playing with her new bunny rabbit.

p.s. I signed up for my swimming course on the way home from work last night. The ding-a-ling at the swimming pool was a lost child who had no clue about the course. I tried to get a feeling if the course was going to be a waste of time or not, as I can swim – I just never learned the right technique. After going back and forth in a conversation that would make Mia proud, I finally decided to just sign up and see what happens. The good news is that the same instructor also teaches the more advanced classes on swimming style so I can get a feel for the other courses ahead of time.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Taper Time Diversions

Yesterday was another hot day, 32C/90F, sunny, warm and just kind of beautiful. I was really tempted to go for a run, but remembered it’s Taper Time and went to the garden instead. I haven't taken my scooter for a ride in a long time so I decided to drive this. I was standing in front of my garden gate when I realized that I had forgotten the key to the gate and the utility shed. Rather than drive the 11K home again I borrowed a bucket from a garden neighbor, jumped the fence to my garden and started pulling weeds by hand. In the warm sun I grew thirsty, so after an hour I gave up and went home as I my water bottles were locked in the utility shed as well.

On the way home I was thinking about whether to do my weight training and maybe take a quick spin on the bike, but as soon as I walked in the front door my wife said that my neighbor desperately needs my help. He got home late from work and has to get everything ready for his daughter’s birthday party today, can I please help him with the party tent! As there were 28 people coming including us, and my neighbor is a heck of a nice guy I went over and we worked till dark. Now I generally try to go to sleep between 9:30 and 10:00 p.m., so this was the end of my weight training. At least I stayed active and didn’t lay on the couch!

Tonight is little Saskia’s birthday, she will be 4 years old and her mom and dad are all about celebrating with the rest of the family and a few choice friends. My wife and I are honored to be among the latter and look forward to pigging out on the bar-b-que and homemade cakes. Did I say that my neighbor’s wife is a baker and has her own bake shop in the shed behind the house! I received a Black Forest cake from my friendly neighbor on my birthday and can confirm that she has real talent! I will try to get a picture of the cakes if I make it before they are devoured.

Swimming Ponderings

I am a self-taught swimmer, probably capable of saving my own life in the bathtub and cooling down in the summer, but limited. I can do a homemade breast stroke of sorts and a modified backstroke for an extended period of time. The latter is dangerous as our pools are always so crowded (at least when I have time).

Anyway my wife always told me I should take adult swimming lessons. Up to this year I have never really considered this, but now I am thinking that swimming should become part of my overall fitness program. I think it would be cool to say that I can swim 0.75K (0.46M) or 1.5K (0.93M), you never know when this ability could come in handy.

So I was reading the newspaper last night and found a basic beginners course that starts September 30th, 10 sessions of 45 minutes. There is also an advanced course and several courses that deal with specific styles such as the crawl or butterfly style. I only need to call the folks offering the courses and figure out where I should start. I worry that the beginners course is just that, the first three classes consisting of trying to talk the people into the water. I love swimming and have been known to jump from the high dive on unsuspecting people that might be in the way, so I am beyond the "scared of the water stage". We have a public swimming pool in the next town from us (6K), with a very good bicycle path in between. I can foresee biking to the pool and back, thus getting in some quality cross-training along with my running.

So I'm getting all excited about "finally" learning the proper swimming techniques. I think this will be a good step in my overall fitness program and future activities.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A 13K/8M Recovery? Run

After two days sitting at my desk at work I was getting pretty stiff so I was glad to head out the door for a run last night. My legs were still a little tired from my HM on Sunday, so I intended to maintain a nice recovery pace, after all I need to get those legs in shape for the big ‘M’. It was also 31C/88F outside, sunny, breezy and blue.

I was quite stiff the first kilometer or two, but I still cranked out a pace of 5:28/K (8:48/M). Hmm, too fast, 6:00/K (9:39/M) would be better, or even slower. So I slowed it down a bit, or least it felt that way. I fell into a comfortable pace and my mind wandered. I ran across two Nordic-walking chicks on the way, they must have been newbie’s, their form left something to be desired. I passed a farmer that was cutting his corn, I remember thinking how quickly the summer has passed.

Anyway I was just cruising along, totally enjoying my run. Finally at the 10K point, as is my habit, I glanced at my stop watch 52:47 – oops 5:17/K (8:30/M) pace. This time I did slow down, and finished the last few kilometers at around 6:00/K, so much for a recovery run.

My legs are tired and stiff this morning, no surprise considering my pace lately. On the other side I have no pain, cramps, aches or other side effects.

I am starting to get excited/terrified about the Baden Marathon on Sept. 18th. I feel much better prepared than my first marathon this past May. On the other hand the perfectionist side of me (or Taper Tommy) keeps whispering in my right ear that I could have done a lot more. I think this is a normal thought pattern for many runners.

I know that the marathon will not be easy. I also know that I can run a marathon! I have trained hard, experienced improvement, and am going to line up on the 18th with the intent of kicking butt and taking names!

Now if I can only make it through the tapering part...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

My Fight with the FLAB

I was skimming through my training notebook during lunch and came across my list of diet goals that I wrote out during the winter. Based on the bathroom scales I haven’t lost any weight all summer :-(

On the other side I have toned up in some parts of the body, i.e. replaced fat with muscle. Legs look good, arms, shoulders, butt, back good - even the upper stomach is gettin firm - but I still have my “spare tire” so I am not satisfied. Here are my updated goals:

Weight on January 1st: 80kg/176lbs
Wake-up weight this morning: 75kg/165lbs
Goal weight by the end of October: 72kg/159lbs
Goal weight by Christmas: 70kg/154lbs

My doctor said my maximum weight for my height (67”) and frame should be 68kg (150lbs). I don’t think I ever weighed that little. I know that I haven’t weighed that little in the last 30 years (I’m 46)!

Most of my excess fat is flopping around the middle of the body, a result of being very fat for too many years. Sooo...I need to work on the mid-section...more sit-ups, crunches, all that fun stuff!

But first marathon II on the 18th!

Taper Time is a Trying Time

In less than two weeks is my marathon. In an effort to get my body ready for this ordeal I am running less, trying to relax more and concentrating on my eating. It is not easy, I have become so used to running or cross-training almost every night. I feel lazy in a running way. I have already gained a pound and feel fat and sluggish. I know that I won’t “lose” my condition in the next two weeks, but I still feel weird not knocking out massive mileage.

Tonight I have a 14K/8.7M run on my training schedule and am really thankful for this! My muscles feel tight after the half-marathon on Sunday – I feel the need to get them loosened up again.

I have been trying not to think about my upcoming marathon on September 18th, no since going nuts this early out, there will be enough of this next week!

I have a lot of ideas floating around in the head for AFTER the main event:
- Swimming lessons (I can swim to save my life but never learned it right).
- Move the weight training up a notch.
- Do more bike riding.
- Maybe start some Nordic walking with my wife (haven't talked her into it yet).
- Participate in a Trail or Cross-country race.

Of course there are other races on the agenda:
- October 9th - 10K Mountain Run (700M elevation difference).
- October 15th - 10K race as part of my company team.

There are lots of other 10K races being offered the rest of the year, almost one every weekend.

In January is a 15K race and in February a 20K race. Then the new season kicks in. No "M" plans yet, but it is highly conceivable.

I was reading the race reports from the RBFers who attended the New Haven Road Race. Congratulations everyone, and thank you for sharing your stories! I hope I can attend one of these RBF attended events sometime!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Race Pictures

I forgot to attach the pictures to my race report. Most of the half-marathon race was through the forest, either on asphalt or dirt trails. It was really a pleasure to run this route. As is typical with many events in Germany the run coincided with a sports fest. I would guess there were close to 1500 people that stuck around for the festivities.

Tapering Thoughts

Despite running a half-marathon yesterday I really am tapering for my marathon. Last week I only ran 51K/32M compared to 76K/47M the week prior to that. This week I am thinking about maybe 44K/27M and the last week before the marathon maybe 2-3 runs of about 45 minute duration.

I may also put my weight training on a shelf until after the marathon as well. I work out with very light weight, which probably would not have too much impact on tapering, but on the other side why risk an injury.

I am trying to filter my nervous “taper madness” energy into something constructive, mainly trying to raise money for Hurricane Katrina relief. I hope I’m not bugging you guys too much, you probably have figured out that I get worked up about things like that. I will try to be quiet from here on out.

Why? An Emotional Interview on Meet the Press

If you haven't cried in the past few days, you probably will watching this . I had kept from crying until now. I lost it, completely. I don't even know what to say. I just think everyone should watch this...

Like many of you I have been sitting in front of the TV trying to understand what's going on in the hurricane area, wondering, pondering, experiencing all kinds of emotions and just wondering what I can do to help.

I have found my cause, I have decided to support my brother's group. As I mentioned once my brother Steve is a mission center director in Algiers Point, New Orleans. This is one of the many projects of the international non-profit, non-denominational group Youth With A Mission (YWAM).

He has been meeting with other center directors in the affected area and in Tyler, Texas. Here is his latest report on their efforts.

"YWAM New Orleans lost our crisis pregnancy center. We have suffered damage to buildings but we will not be able to go in to evaluate the damage for several weeks. We know we have sustained wind damage because of the severity of the storm. We have heard reports that most of our eleven buildings are not under water, though some may have been for a short time. This is good news because we are preparing our place [at Algiers Point] to be a relief site to assist the hundreds of thousands of needy people that will be coming back eventually.

Please pray for our city. The needs are enormous, but only God is bigger than a hurricane. You can be part of bringing hope to one of the most devasted areas of America. New Orleans prior to the hurricane was an out of control poverty stricken area in America and so some of the terrible things that you many see on the news come as no surprise. I say that even though I love our city and the people, having lived and worked here with YWAM for the past 17 years.

We are preparing ourselves for the next steps. It will take 36-80 days to drain the water out of the city. Thousands of houses are immersed in water to the roof tops. Many are damaged beyond repair. Most major roads are devastated for miles and will take months to repair leaving very few roads left to even get into the city. Electric, sewer and water will be off for months in many parts of the city. So it will be a long process of rebuilding and ministering to the city. Many people will not be able to do anything for weeks or months but after a while we will need help from everyone who can come. We will try to get ready for you to come to our city.

We have many immediate financial needs for our family, staff and ministry. We will probably not be able to return to the city for weeks or possibly months. You can send checks to Youth With A Mission if you would like a tax receipt, or you can send them in our name to our address.

Our temporary address for Youth With A Mission New Orleans is:

Youth With A Mission (or Steve and Bronwen Niles)
P. O. Box 62088
LaFayette, LA 70596-2088

To find out more about YWAM or to make an online donation: (YWAM main site) (YWAM at Tyler, Texas)"

Like I said we have decided to support this cause. I encourage all of you to find your cause, whether it be, donations to your favorite charity, helping a friend or relative, or just giving blood to your local Red Cross.

Some Race Statistics

My legs are feeling really good this morning, the day after setting a new PR with the half-marathon distance (still can’t believe it). The legs are a little tired to be sure, but no pain or stiffness like I sometimes have. This may change after sitting at my desk all day today. Last night I took a short bicycle ride around town, I think this helped loosen up the muscles.

I am very satisfied with my performance at the race yesterday and to be honest feel like I could have run a little faster even. I am still very conservative in my running, I guess I still have a fear of “hitting the wall”. My colleague who has been racing for several years said I will probably become more daring (and competitive) as time goes on.

Race Statistics South Pfalz Run:

1000M: 115
Walking: 40
5.2K: 50
10K: 691
Half-marathon: 381

Half-Marathon Stats

Fastest Male: 1:11:27 (1964)
Fastest Female: 1:27:20 (1961)

My Stats
My time: 1:48:12
Average pace: 5:08/K (8:15/M)
Placing: 26th out of 48 in my age class (M45)
Overall: 198th out of 381 runners

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Half-Marathon Report: "Get Out of my Way, I'm Coming Through!"

This morning was the South Pfalz Half-Marathon in the Rhineland Pfalz town of Ruelzheim. There were also a 5:2K, 10K and a couple youth races being offered by the same sports club. My run was scheduled to start at 9:20 a.m. so we left early enough so that we had at least an hour before the start. Last year I ran the 10K event, so we were familiar with the clubs activities.

This year the temperature was about 19C/66F at 8:00 a.m., though it did warm up to 27C/81F by the time we left at 1 p.m. Anyway the weather was cool with a very slight breeze as we arrived at the race site, almost idea conditions for a race. This became obvious, the club area was packed with runners try to sign up before the race started. I had signed up ahead of time so was able to pay and pick up my starting number without waiting for too long. Based on my experience from last year I knew that the club had very limited toilet facilities so I got in line right away. The line for the poor ladies had wound itself outside and halfway around the building.

Anyway about 20 minutes before the start I loosened up and jogged around the blog, then made my way to the starting line. The half-marathon (HM) started after all the other races so we had an opportunity to send off the first groups. There were about 400 people signed up for the HM, about 50 more than last year.

My race plans for the day were to run slightly faster than my planned marathon pace (6:00/K, 9:39/M), the idea being to conserve my energy for my marathon in two weeks. After the first kilometer or two I knew this strategy was doomed.

I completed the first 2K each with a pace of 5:15/K (8:27/M). I managed to slow down to 5:25 for the 3K, but ran the 4K and 5K at 5:00/K (8:03/M). After the first 5K (3.1M) I was feeling really good, fresh and strong, so I decided just to run how I felt. And I felt good!

The 6K, 7K, 8K and 9K kilometers were all under 5:10/K (8:19/M), I was feeling fabulous! After the 9K point and a service area (water) I decided I should slow down just a bit, but after a kilometer or so I got trapped in a passing game with a couple dudes and ended up picking up the pace again. I remember doing the 15K in 4:50/K (7:47/M), the fastest kilometer that I noticed for the day (wish I had a Forerunner!). By this time I left the dudes that were playing the passing game in the dust (Yeah!) and I started working on passing everyone I could in front of me. I felt like a stalker on the great hunt! From this point on no one passed ME anymore. Wow!

By the 18K or so point I was starting to feel the effects of my pace, but no cramps or anything weird so I kept pushing it. Around the 20K point my legs were aching from the workout, but I kept up at a steady pace. I stopped looking at my stopwatch after the 19K point as I decided I really didn’t want to know how fast I was going (the only time I remembered I have a marathon coming up).

The last kilometer was hard, but I still managed to sprint the last few hundred meters over the finish line.

My time: 1:48:12!

My best HM time before this was in March, 1:53:29. So this was a new PR!

Hope I can still run a marathon in two weeks ;-)

Actually my legs are feeling pretty good, sore, but no cramps or abnormal pain, pulls or peculiarities. I’m actually thinking about asking if my wife wants to go for a bike ride. Have a nice weekend and wish the New Haven Bunch a great race!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

A Prayer and Thanks for Those Helping Katrina Victims

Tomorrow I am running a half-marathon race in the Rhineland-Pfalz region. This is kind of my dress rehearsal for the marathon in two weeks. I want to run around my planned marathon pace, about 6:00/K (9:39/M).

I have been spending entirely too much time today watching CNN, reading newspapers, surfing and just sitting in my chair going through the whole array of emotions concerning post-Katrina efforts in the south, particularly New Orleans.

I came across an old quote that spoke to me:

"It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows great enthusiasms, great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
- Theodore Roosevelt

Say a prayer and thanks for those down in the trenches trying to do their best to help Katrina victims. The small acts of kindness, the unselfish assistance and caring means so much in that moment.

Friday, September 02, 2005

A Humid Hill Run

I am feeling much more relieved to hear that my family members from New Orleans are safe and out of harms way in Baton Rouge. From what I have read and seen on the news it’s getting quite crazy in some parts of the region.

Last night I decided to drive to our garden club in the neighboring town of Weingarten and run my hill route. It was a bit cooler 31C/88F, but with very high humidity. I really felt this as I wound my way up the first hill, it seriously kicked my butt. But once I got over the ridge and onto the rolling hills I fell into my groove and could run on cruise control. The storm clouds were starting to roll in as I made my way down the first major downhill portion of the route than turned and headed up heartbreak ridge 2. This second hill climb is a little more gradual but still kicked my butt, the humidity was making an incredible difference. On the other side I haven’t run the hill route for 3 weeks and it was only 24C/75F at that time.

Anyway I made it back to the garden club before the rain came and was even able to putter around and pull some weeds before heading home. I ran for 1:29:31, almost 2 minutes faster than the last time I had run that route, it was good know that I still have some condition.

My legs are a little sore this morning, probably a result of both not having run the hill route for awhile and not carrying anything to drink during the run. In regards to the latter, I have noticed that I seem to have more soreness the next day if I become too dehydrated during a run. I will have to experiment more with this theory in the future.

I will probably do my weight training tonight, but no more running until the half-marathon on Sunday morning. I was talking with my marathoner colleague (who just had surgery and has to sit out the Baden Marathon) about the HM, he warned me to keep it slow and don’t try to set any PR’s, the time is too short until the marathon on the 18th. His opinion is that if I go all out and tear up the legs they will not be optimal for the big race.

Sounds reasonable, what do you guys think?

p.s. I want to wish all of you who are running in New Haven this weekend good luck and have a great time!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Rest Day Declared

Last night I decided to take the night off and catch up on some e-mails with my family and friends. I’ve noticed that I have been getting pretty stressed out about the family situation in New Orleans so needed to get this out of my system before race day. The rest was not bad for my tapering either. Tonight I have a 14K/8.7M run planned, looking forward to it:-)

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