Saturday, October 29, 2005

Swim Class #5 and a Long Run

Last night was swim class #5, half way through. Teacher had us swim a half-lap to observe which individual problem areas we had. If she saw my swimming from Thursday night she probably would have sent me back to Kindergarten. But my loving wife spend a half hour before class working with me on my kick, so I was in pretty good shape as I took my turn. Teacher said I was much better than last week. So then she assigned each one of us individual tasks and had us do 20m laps practicing our problem areas.

My task was to work on my kick. I figured out right away that the way she teaches the kick and the way my wife does it are about two universes away from each other. As soon as I tried Teacher’s method my entire kicking form went to crap. It took the rest of the 45 minute class to even come close to the this form. Blah!

After class my wife, who was watching the whole class session, said it was like someone hit a switch and turned off my kicking machine. Teacher teaches a kick where you bend your knees, hook your angles then try to kick the water with the flat of your feet, eventually bringing the feet together as you finish the cycle. This hooking of the feet is NOT a natural movement for my feet! While demonstrating it to my wife on dry land she made the comment that my feet look like they are going to cramp up at any second when I do this.

So anyway I have to work on this next week. I guess I got in about 500 meters of laps plus may a couple hundred meters more during the class.


This morning I was up at 6:00, had a small breakfast, then headed out for a long run. My goal was to complete at least 21K/12M at about a 6:00/K (9:39/M) pace. It was about 7C/45F as I headed out the door. I knew it would be chilly so I wore long running pants (tights) and a running jacket. The first kilometer was through the sleepy town and I completed it in exactly 6 minutes. Right past the imaginary 1K marker, I plunged onto an asphalt-covered trail that I did my long runs on last year. It was pitch black, I could only run between the tree lines on each side of the trail and hope there weren’t any tree limbs blocking the way.

So I wound my way done this trail for awhile, then took a couple right turns, heading back and past my town onto the trails that the Graben Running group uses. By this time it was finally getting light enough to see my watch, but I wasn’t sure of the kilometer intervals so this didn’t help much. The last 5K were over my normal 14K running trail so I could at least check my speed over this part of the run (5:45/K).

Anyway I finished the run in 2:31:27. As this is almost the same trail I took four weeks ago, I would guess I ran about 26K/16.1M. this would be an average pace of 5:49/K (9:22/M) which feels entirely reasonable.

My legs are sore, partly from the run, but probably mostly from the fact that I have been training 10 days straight without a break. Swimming is especially taxing my legs in the moment.

Have a nice weekend!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Jackqua Man or Bust!

Tuesday night I had a rather good night at the pool. If you haven’t been following my adventures lately I am taking a swim course on Friday nights to learn the finer techniques of the breast stroke. Tuesday night I did some „homework“! For the first time I seemed to find my rhythm and everything felt right. I was optimistic, filled with hope and already to swim with the fishes.

Well last night was about as opposite of the spectrum as you can get. Yep, Jackqua Man must have been subjected to some stinky swamp water which basically had the same effect as kryptonite on Superman, leaving him a floating around like a dead frog in the lake. I couldn’t seem to get anything right, and the more I concentrated the worst it got.

I went to the pool directly after work so my wife decided to meet me there after her work was done so she could ride home with me. The pool has a balcony with bleachers overlooking the pool for when swimming competitions are held. She was watching me for awhile. She could see that I was having a hard time. Afterward I asked her what she thought my pain problem areas were. She came up with a list:

- I raise my feet out of the water when I am kicking.
- I spread my legs too far apart.
- I don’t put my arms together when I swim forwards.
- My arm-feet movements are not coordinated.
- Rather than gliding forward when I kick, I rush to complete the arm stroke. Wifey said it almost looks like I am afraid to let my head go underwater.
- I bend my wrists too much when I do the arm stroke.
- I move my arms wrong when I do the arm stroke.

I really, really felt like asking her what I did RIGHT, but I was afraid she wouldn’t be able to think of anything :-(

Anyway wifey suggested that we leave a little early tonight for my swim course so she can help me a little bit with my form. That’s why I love her.

Next week I have vacation, my wife has to work, the pool opens at 6 a.m. daily – guess where I’m going to start my days.

You know I couldn’t run a marathon the first day, week, or month that I started running, why should swimming be any different. But some day I’m going to be one of those people gliding seemingly effortlessly through the water! I would definitely welcome any training tips!

Tomorrow morning is my first long run since 4 weeks. I want to run at least 21K/12M, but if I feel good may add 5K before I'm done. This run is really to see at what running level I'm at in the moment. At this point it looks like I will run my next marathon in March or April if the winter training goes well.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A Nice Autumn Run

Tonight I headed out to run my 14K/8.7M route, with no particular time goal in mind. It was an unseasonably warm day, 23C/74F, sunny and mild. My legs were kind of stiff from all the cross-training I’ve added to schedule lately, so I just headed out and ran until I fell into a comfortable pace. I noticed last year that my speed seems to naturally slow down this time of year and even more so when the winter sets in. So no big deal, there is no need to be pushing my body hard 12 months a year anyway.

So that said I still averaged a 5:45/K (9:14/M) pace for the run. This is actually about 15-30 seconds slower per kilometer than I was doing a lot of the runs previously. I want to do my first long run on Saturday morning, probably 24-26K (15-16M), but I’ll see when I get out there.

I want to slow my long run pace down some, I think I was pushing too hard when I was training for my last marathon. It was getting hard to distinguish the difference in pace between my tempo runs, easy runs and long runs – they were all almost the same pace! I’m thinking about maybe a 6:30/K (10:28/M) pace, at least during the winter months. This may mean a slightly slower marathon in the Spring – or maybe not!

The Making of Jackqua Man

Last night my wife had a lot of school work to do for her English class so I decided to go practice my swimming. I have been wanting to check out the swimming pool in Blankenloch, a neighboring town that is only about half the distance away as the pool in the city of Karlsruhe where my class is on Friday nights. Blankenloch is also the town where the local Stutensee Triathlon is held every July.

Anyway it turns out that the Blankenloch swimming pool is only about half as long as the one in Karlsruhe, 25 meters as opposed to 50 meters. On the positive side there were also far less people at this pool, I was able to practice my swimming in a much more relaxed environment. During the first few laps I was really trying to concentrate on good form and it seemed like I was doing everything wrong and getting nowhere. Finally I took a short break and watched a couple people for a few minutes - they seemed to be so relaxed and cruised so effortlessly through the water. I recalled reading that one should think of how a dolphin or whale moves through the water. Now I don’t know about you, but I haven’t swam with any dolphins or whales, or even frogs for that matter, so I have had a hard time visualizing this. But as I sat at the edge of the pool watching a couple of these swimmers somehow it clicked. When I started out again with my laps somehow I find my rhythm and could get the arms and the feet on the right time-synch. After 10-15 more laps I could finally keep the rhythm going and start working on form.

This was a breakthrough of sorts, I just hope this side of my brain doesn’t go numb before my class on Friday night.

I eventually lost count of how many laps that I actually swam, but based on the time that I was in the pool I would guess I swam at least 800 meters last night. I think it helped a lot that the pool was not so crowded. We'll see!

So what't up with this "Jackqua Man" stuff? Actually this came from one of my bevloved blogging friends that coined the phrase "Jac-qua Man" after reading about one of my swimming adventures. Does anyone but me remember the old superhero "Aqua Man" cartoons? You young people can forget it :-), but maybe some of our more seasoned readers might have some vague recall - in any case I was a great fan of Aqua Man so I just can't resist using "Jackqua Man" when I talk about swimming.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A marathon runner needs...

According to Google:

- A marathon runner needs to pay special attention to their food and fluid.
- Often a marathon runner needs to prepare mentally for the event.
- A marathon runner needs to do a great deal of hard anaerobic training.
- A marathon runner needs to understand the components of an established tapering program.
- A marathon runner needs endurance.
- A marathon runner needs to replenish with food and fluid throughout the race.
- A marathon runner needs to co-operate well with others.
- A marathon runner needs shoes that help her efficiently maintain forward motion.
- A Marathon runner needs to be obsessive, not a multi-tasking, life balancing wannabe Wally Clever.
- Even a marathon runner needs to get used to climbing hills.
- A marathon runner needs to keep going.
- A Marathon runner needs equipment others never consider.
- A marathon runner needs to know his times for eight miles, twelve miles, etc.
- A marathon runner needs weight loss?
- A marathon runner needs more than a person who sits at a desk all day and only exercises moderately.
- Meals with more calories than a marathon runner needs on a run day should be OUTLAWED except in the home.
- I know that a marathon runner needs to train by doing long runs before a race, do you have to do that with your horse?
- A marathon runner needs much applause for that extra boost to finish the race.


Monday, October 24, 2005

A Stress Relieving 14K Run

Today was a painful day at work. I’ve come to the conclusion that my coworker's are all in a conspiracy to see that I don’t get any work done. How else would you explain having a discussion almost in front of my desk for almost an hour trying to ignore the fact that it is keeping me from doing my work. Yeah I hope you’re reading this and know I’m disturbed! I don’t care if it is their office too, we have conference rooms they can use!

I feel better now, thanks.

Anyway I had an easy recovery 14K/8.7M run on the schedule tonight, but figured I would be running out my frustrations so went through my weight training routine first before heading out for the run. I thought this would zap some of my distructive energy and slow me down. Well, it slowed me down alright, I ran a whole 1 SECOND slower than last night - a pace of 5:42/K (9:10/M). I feel better anyway!

Tomorrow I want to go to the swimming pool and practice my breast stroke kicking before my swim teacher loses her cool at the pool on Friday night. My wife keeps telling me "it's all about coordination baby!" I've been considering going out to the garden and watch the frogs swim in my neighbors little pond, maybe I can pick up some pointers ;-)

Who Said Learning to Swim Would be Easy?

I decided that I am a good example of what not to do following a marathon. Most ‚expert’ recommend anywhere from 2-4 weeks rest following a marathon, with almost no training the first week and only light training the weeks following that. And no racing the first 4 weeks. Here is the schedule of my weekly training since my September marathon (M):

M + 1: 9K running; 10K biking; 1x weight training.
M + 2: 55K running; 500m swimming.
M + 3: 49K running (including mountain race); 1050m swimming.
M + 4: 38K running (including 10K race with new PB); 1100m swimming; 1x weight training.
M + 5 (last week): 42K running; 1900m swimming; 35K biking

I pretty much broke all these rules and as a result my recovery time has been much longer than from my first marathon in May.

On Friday night at my swim course Teacher patiently, than not so patiently, tried to correct my leg movements involved in the breast stroke. I think she is slowly giving up hope that I will transform into Jackqua Man. Sigh...

In any case my improper kicking techniques are wrecking havoc with my legs, causing undo fatigue and leaving me kaput. So what is the problem? My wife’s theory is that the signal between my brain and my legs keeps getting sent outwards through my ears and never reaches its destination. Methinks I have hit the “swimming wall” and have to fight my way over the finish line. All I want to know is how do the little kids learn swimming so easily? Is it like when you’re over 40 your mind and body don’t get along anymore? Maybe I just have to wait until I’m really old and wander back to my second childhood whereas I can easily learn to swim like the little kiddies ;-) Can you just picture the headline: "Tri Man finishes first triathlon at age 91 and didn't remember doing it!"

Did ya hear about the RBF's latest SuperHero!

In case you didn’t hear the RBF has a new SuperHero, able to withstand pain that would leave Superman whimpering in the corner like he’s on a bad kryptonite trip, able to destroy a Volkswagon by flexing his IT band, who took on Detroit and left the town in a shambles, and when Canada tried to do him in, defiantly peed all over it!

Congratulations to all the other racers that ran this weekend to. As I write I haven't heard how Dawnie, Jank , and ncmunchkin fared.

In any case running a marathon is not easy. Some people seem to have less trouble than others. I belong to the group that has to bring my mountain climbing gear with me so I can scale the wall when I hit it. My dream is to run a perfect marathon, whereas perfect is defined as being able to run the entire distance without having to scale the wall along the way and have to fight for every inch afterwards. Maybe next time!

After my run yesterday afternoon I pried my wife off the couch and we took a walk around town. Our town was having an autumn festival so there was lots of things going on. We opted to walk through the flea market and later stopped for some cake and coffee. In honor of our new RBF Superhero I had a big piece of chocolate mousse! I raised my fork, "this one is for you Jon"!

Now I only need to run about a zillion miles tonight to work off all the calories – but man was it good!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Nice Fast 14K Run

This afternoon as the dark storm clouds started rolling in I suited up and hit the trail. I intended on doing 16-18K (10-11M), but after about 10K I started feeling all the crosstraining I did in the last day and decided to stick to my normal 14K/8.7M route. In any case I finished with an average pace of 5:41/K (9:08/M) and without getting caught in the pooring rain that followed shortly after I finished.

I am running again tomorrow night so today there was no need to wear myself totally out. As I am not actually training for a marathon in the moment I am trying to restrain myself from training too much. If I run a marathon in March as I have been considering than my training will start up again in a couple weeks so I need to take it easy for the time being. I am saying this mostly to myself because I am a crosstraining fool in the moment and am more tired out than when I was training for the marathon’s.

Pray for poor Jon and all the other weekend racer’s that must be lining up about now as I write.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Cross-training Day

I decided to postpone my run this morning until tomorrow and do some crosstraining today. I road my bicycle to the swimming pool and back for a total of about 35 kilometers. While at the pool I swam about 500 meters, my arms were still tired from last night. Last night I had my 4th swimming class and stayed afterward to swim some extra laps. I would guess I swam about 800-900 meters last night.

Tomorrow I want to run about 16K/10M. Next weekend I will start my long runs again, probably with about 24-26 kilometers. Have a nice weekend.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The First Annual VMP Session 2006

Last night was rest night for this old body so I puttered around the house catching up on a few odd jobs. My wife and I both had a good day at work and were relatively chilled out so we had an impromptu Vacation and Marathon Planning (VMP) Session 2006.

For those of you in a hurry the good news (for me) is that a marathon in 2006 is on, the bad news (for us) is that the vacation in the USA will probably be postponed.

So for you that are still here, here is the rest of the story:

I patiently let my wife present her opinion on our proposed USA vacation in 2006. Her work contract currently runs until the end of 2006 in which case either it will be renewed or she will be out of work again. As wifey works for the Social Services Court her position is affected by every little whim from the budget-cutting, Champagne-drinking, politicians running this country, so anything goes. Anyway it was my wife’s opinion that we should wait until 2007 for our USA vacation, whereas the job situation will hopefully improve.

I softly reminded her that my father will be 85 next May and we never know how long my parents will be with us, which she fully understood and had compassion for. She suggested that I talk to my parents and to get a gist on how they feel. So we did a quick tele-conferencing session with my parents, who responded in their typical warm, loving and very understanding manner and said they of course would love to see us but would fully understand if we can’t make it next year. What was really weird is that although I did not say it, I was thinking in the back of my head that I hope they both live for another year and I’m sure my mom sensed this because she said: “And don’t worry about not seeing us again, we’re all going to meet again sometime anyway” (meaning in heaven).

This of course didn’t make our decision at the moment any easier, but you just gotta love their attitude! In any case we viewed the vacation issue from different vantage points and finally decided that we would wait until 2007, but with the understanding that if one of my parent’s health should deteriorate that I should go over alone for a visit. If my wife receives a new contract before the end of the year we will reassess the situation.

Then we talked about a marathon. I suggested that I could run one in March for example, this would minimize training during nice weather when we could be doing family-oriented things. My wife responded with:

“What about the rest of the year, I know you won’t be satisfied with just one marathon if you run that early.” Ouch, does this woman know me :-)

Luckily I was saved by the ringing of the telephone and didn’t have to answer that. Later, my wife reminded me that she still wants to drive to the Spreewald (Spree Forest) some weekend. This is a popular tourist area south of Berlin, approximately a 7 hour drive from our house.

With a blaze of speed I sprinted forward with two dates: The weekend of April 23rd or September 24th, 2006. But my wife has been training and beat me to the finish line with

“Why, which marathons do you want to run?”

“Well, in April is the Spreewald Marathon, or if that doesn’t work in September is Berlin! Of course there are also three marathons in Dresden each year (April 30th, May 27th, Oct. 22nd 2006). Dresden is only a 45 minute drive south of the Spreewald, by the way, don’t you have a cousin that lives in Dresden ;;;-)”

By that time I figured it was a good time to end the discussion and put the car in the garage, in other words let wifey chew on the idea for awhile.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

An Easy 14K Run in the Fall Rain = Heaven

Last night was a cool 9C/48F as I came home and suited up for my run. I opted for longer running pants and a jacket as I headed out. It was raining softly and the trails were soaked from the rain we had throughout the day. My training goal was a 14K/8.7M run at an easy pace, around 5:45/K. The air was fresh, the trails empty and the forest in full color. I was really tempted to add on some distance, I love running during a gentle rain. But I remembered that my legs are still not totally fit from all my races lately so headed home. In any case I met my training pace objective with an average pace of 5:47/K (9:19/M).

If you have been following my posts lately you have probably caught that my legs have been sore and stiff the last couple weeks. This is really not a surprise for me, I have been pushing too hard, too soon with my running since my marathon. I have also added an average of 1100 meters swimming per week for the last 3-4 weeks. For someone who swims regularly this may not sound like so much, but for me this is a lot. I have to break in all those long neglected swimming muscles. I also am stilling learning the correct form, so probably expend a lot more energy and strain the muscles more than an experienced swimmer. But someday I can picture myself gliding almost effortlessly through the water like some of the water rats that I see at the pool. Then watch out, “Jackqua Man” will be on your heels ;-)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Crosstraining = Swimming

Last night was cross-training night. I stopped at the swimming pool on the way home and swam about 600 meters (12 laps). I still am struggling with the proper breast stroke technique, I swam too many years with my self-taught doggie-breast-stroke, it is definitely hard to break old habits.

I think running at a slower pace on Monday night was a good idea, my legs are feeling much better this morning. I have come to the conclusion that the next time I shoot for a personal best with a 10K I should do some speed work prior to the race (and maybe skip the mountain run the weekend before). The slower paced marathon training that I was doing the last 9 months was not a replacement for this.

I still haven’t talked to my wife about a March marathon yet. Call me chicken if you like, but lately she has been giving me that “you love your running more than me” look, so I know the timing is not right. My wife is a non-athletic type and does not even try to understand my “passion” for running. She tries to tolerate it because she knows it’s important to me, but I am an extremist when it comes to doing what I enjoy and admit I need to be reined in from time to time. It’s kind of like running in the dark, I have to watch my step so I don’t upset the balance.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Just Trying to Take it Easy

Last night I went out for a nice slow 14K/8.7M recovery run. It was a sunny day, but cool (16C/61F) and quite windy. My goal was to maintain a pace of 6:00/K (9:39/M) pace or slower, as my legs were still kind of achy from my race last Saturday. I have noticed that my legs are in worse shape after a shorter, high speed race (e.g. 10K) than a longer, slower race like a half-marathon. A marathon of course is a totally different story.

Anyway running against a rather strong wind kept my speed in check and I was able to maintain my goal pace almost to the second. This morning my legs are tired and sore, which had me wondering if I had worked the legs harder than I thought during the race. But then I thought a little about my training for the last month since the marathon:

Marathon was on Sept. 18
Week following M: 10K bike training (BT), 2x weight training (WT), 300 meter swimming (Sw), 9K Run (R)
M week + 1: 600m Sw, 55K R
M week + 2: 1000m Sw, 49K R (including 10K mountain race)
M week + 3: 1x WT, 1200m Sw, 38K R (including 10K race)
This week: 14K R so far.

A lot of people take 2-3 weeks off with almost no training, I ran on the 6th day after my marathon, and started regular training on the second week. Okay I had the mountain run and 10K run on the schedule so I had to try to get ready for these.

But now I am paying for the lack of recovery time, coupled with ambitious training and racing. Nothing serious, just an old, tired, aching body that is telling me to slow down and take it easy for awhile. So for the next few weeks I am going to try really hard to listen to my old body and slow down a little bit.

I am pretty much convinced on running the Bienwald Marathon (half-marathon report 2005) on March 12, 2006. I am holding off a little while before I sign up as our vacation plans are still not settled completely. In any case I am going to start my marathon training in the middle of November, about 16 weeks before the proposed M. I am also considering running a HM on December 3rd as a training run, and maybe a 20K race in February, but we’ll see.

The RBF Tag Game

So Mia tagged me, here are the rules:

Find your 23rd post.
Find and display the 5th sentence.
Tag five more unsuspecting bloggers.

So my 5th sentence from March 6, 2005:

I think I need to just go and enjoy myself and run how I feel on that day.

To put this sentence in context, I was discussing running in a half-marathon the following weekend. It was cold and snowy with more predicted on race day. So I had just finished saying that I wasn’t going to try to set a new personal best, rather just go and enjoy myself. I ended up catching a cold right before the race, but still came in just 2 minutes slower than my PB.

So now I have to tag 5 more people...ah, like who is left now? At the risk of double-tagging I will do a quick list: Neca, Bev, Sarah, Molly, and Thomas.

Monday, October 17, 2005

A March Marathon?

Yesterday I decided to take a day off from training, my legs were pretty stiff from the 10K race on Saturday so it seemed like the thing to do. I am trying to slow done a little anyway for the next couple weeks to give the body a rest.

It was a nice warm sunny afternoon yesterday so I decided to go to our garden club and clean up a little for the winter. I did get in some “upper-body training” emptying out one compost bin and digging up a couple garden beds. I also picked about 40-50 lbs of butternut squash and packed it in the car to take home. This keeps pretty well in our unheated cellar during the winter.

In any case it was a good time to do some thinking, my wife stayed home because she still has a bad cold, so I was able to meditate on my world a little. I have to reorganize my entire workload at work in order to assimilate some tasks from a person leaving the company. This will mean that certain times of the year will be a nightmare. So I have been trying to think through various solutions.

Then of course I was thinking about where I want to go with my running in the future. Basically I started running to lose weight and to stay healthy. Racing and marathon running just kind of evolved as a means of motivation to keep running.

Anyway, next year I am considering running the Bienwald Marathon on March 12th in the Rhineland-Pflaz area (about 40 minutes from our town).

The main advantage to this marathon is that it early in the year, which would leave more time to do other things in my life the rest of the year. This would please my wife immensely!

The disadvantage is that I need to train in the dark at the mercy of cold and wet weather. The winters here in this part of Germany are mild compared to most northern states in the USA and in Canada, but it can still be nasty. Of course running in the dark, mud, snow, and ice all contribute to a slower training pace and increased risk of injury.

From an optimal training standpoint, if I want to run a sub-4 hour marathon then I am better off waiting and starting my training in the spring. But methinks that the reality of life is that I need to consider other factors affecting my life, e.g. family, friends, job, house, etc. and keep my running goals in the right perspective. I will probably end up having to be satisfied with completing ANY marathon next year.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

10K Unicef Oberwald Forest Run Race Report

I was kind of out to the world today when I showed up for the 10K Unicef Oberwald Forest Run. Lots of things going on at work that require a lot of time and concentration before the end of the year. I have to come up with a plan this week how I’m going to get it all done.

Anyway I was only about half-hearted about racing today, a first for me I think. I collected my start number from the colleague that arrived early and picked them all up for our group. I stood around talking with some of my colleagues, this perked me up a bit. Several of the runners ran the Baden Mile in May so we had some experienced runners among the group.

This morning was 7C/44F when I woke up, but right before the race it had warmed up to at least 21C/70F. I ditched my long sleeve shirt in the car and warmed up a little. Anyway about 5 minutes before the race the 22 people from my company (1 didn’t show up) lined up at the Start. Someone said there were about 400 people racing today. So we’re standing around gossiping when all of a sudden the Start pistol went off. We eased forward and were on our way.

The trail was kind of small for 400 runner’s, there was a lot of pushing and shoving the first kilometer or so. I lost my colleagues in the crowd. I passed the 1K marker in 4:55 (7:54/M), which was kind of fast considering the crowd. The route headed almost immediately into the forest after the start and pretty much stayed that way the entire route. The path was mostly dirt and crushed stone with occasional asphalt patches. The leaves are changing in our area so it was really pretty to run.

Actually I didn’t see too many leaves, after fighting the crowd for 5-10 minutes my adrenalin was flowing and I was beating the path at a pretty good pace (for me). I averaged 4:55/K (7:54/M) almost to the second for the first 6 kilometers. By the 7K marker I had lost 5 seconds, so tried to pick it up again. I saw a couple people from my company about 2 minutes in front of me so set a goal on catching them before the finish line. This helped me pick up the pace again and maintain it for at least another kilometer when I passed both of them.

By the 8th kilometer I was really starting to feel the faster pace, but fought to keep the pace going. By this time I new that if I kept the pace up I would come really close to my personal best. I only couldn’t remember what my personal best was as I ran. So I just ran as hard as I could hoping for the best.

By kilometer 9 my heart was pumping like crazy, I thought I was going to start hyperventilating at any moment. Luckily I heard the loud speaker from the finish line so knew I was getting close. I tried to get my legs to move faster but they just weren’t interested in going any faster. I guess all the swimming in the last couple days didn’t help.

Finally I popped out of the forest, ran across the edge of a soccer and onto a running track, 400 meters to go! I tried to break into a sprint but somehow I just didn’t have anything left today, I did manage to speed up the last 100 meters at least, but not like usual. I think that I even forgot to smile today, not that I saw anyone taking pictures today. I stopped my watch at 49:41, but this was quite a few seconds after finishing so I really wasn’t sure what I ran. I couldn’t remember my personal best anyway so I guess it didn’t matter. I had to wait until I got home to look it up.

In any case I ran a lot better than I had expected. Somehow once I got over the start and the adrenalin kicked in I was fine. After standing around chatting for a little while with a few of the colleguesI was getting kind of chilly so grabbed my sports bag out of the car and took a shower and changed in the sports center from the club that held the run today. By the time I was done I couldn’t find hardly anyone from my company anymore, I guess they all had things to do. I did sit with a few for a little while and had some cake and coffee. All in all it was a nice time, I feel pretty good now.

I was 203 out of 414 runners. I was 80th in my age group (M40) out of 126. Today the age groups had a ten year span instead of the normal 5. Typically I’m in the M45 group. My average pace 4:55/K (7:54/M).

The fastest male runner: 33:01
The fastest female: An incredible 37:06!
The fastest male runner from my company: 39:40 (M30)
The fastest female runner from my company: 53:54 (F40)
I was the 7th fastest runner from my company (from 23 runners).

Oh I guess you’re curious about my time? I ran in 49:07, a new personal best by 5 seconds!

Swim Course 3/10

Last night was my third night at the swim course, 3rd evening out of 10. We got a new classmate, a young lady from another beginner class. Teacher said she is more advanced than the other’s in her group and would fit better with us (does that mean we are her elite beginners?). Anyway Teacher spent the first half of the 45 minute class having us work on the proper leg movements (kick) for the breast stroke. I must have been doing it right because with me she spent more time yelling (in her charming way) at me because I didn’t hold my hands right. Finally she brought out some fin-looking paddles that she strapped onto my hands that forced me to hold my hands right if I wanted to go forwards. I FINALLY got the hand of it (I hope). The rest of the class we went to the kiddy pool where Teacher had us floating around on a Styrofoam floating device doing some leg exercises. Her main point here was to convince us that the power of the breast stroke lies with the arms, not the legs.

In any case I swam about 250 meters before class, a bunch during and another 350 meters after the class. My arms and shoulders were tired by the time I was done.

Today is the 10K Unicef run at 2:30 p.m. For the first time in a long time I am not terribly motivated to run a race. To run yeah, to race not really. Somehow my idea of a good time today would be a lonely run in the middle of the forest amongst the chipmunks and colorful leaves, no stress, no need for speed. There a lot of little waves in my life in the moment that I need to think through. I guess I’m not in a terribly social mood today. But I’ll go anyway and run the best I can, I believe in following through when I say I’ll do something.

Happy running!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Completed a Swim/Run Brick

Last night I stopped at the swimming pool to practice the breast stroke. I swam about 600 meters all together. Then I headed home and ran my 14K/8.7M run. I didn’t leave for the run until about 5:45 p.m., so it was almost dark by the time I returned. Worse was that it was 24C/75F when I started the run, but really cooled down by the time the sun went down (it wa 7C/44F at 6 a.m. this morning). I only wore running shorts and a short sleeve CoolMax shirt so was getting chilly towards the end. Not good for my still lingering sniffles. I had planned on an easy run in anticipation of my 10K race on Saturday, but by the halfway point I was getting chilly so I let up on the brakes. I ended up with an average pace of 5:20/K (8:36/M).

Tomorrow (Saturday) at 2:30 p.m. I am running the 10K Unicef Oberwald Forest Run with 22 other people from my company. Most of them also ran the 8.889K Baden Mile run this past May. It should be a fun time! I already set a PB this year (49:12) so this is not a priority. I haven’t been doing any speed work so don’t anticipate setting a PB. Of course if I am having a good day anything can happen, in any case I won’t be sipping coffee on the way.

My diet is going well in the moment. Since the week after the marathon I have dropped from 76kg (167lbs) to 74kg (163lbs) this morning. I hope I can maintain this through the weekend. My goal weight is 68-70kg (150-155lbs) which is just slightly more than my doctors opinion of my 'perfect' weight. Then I only need to fight the rest of my life to maintain this level (losing is easy in comparison).

Tonight’s my swim course, part 3 (of 10). I’m looking forward to it! Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Back to Weight Training

I got stuck in a meeting this afternoon so ended up almost 2 hours late coming home. This kind of blew away my plan of riding my bike the 10K to the swimming pool for some swimming. So instead I decided it is a good time to get back into my weight training routine which I discontinued during my marathon tapering. Although I only work out with dumbbells and some light weight on the barbell I still find a lot of excuses not to do it. Running and swimming no problem! Biking, when it's not dark outside or too nasty, but with weight training I need an extra kick in the pants.

After running through my normal set I did a set of squats and some curls, then a couple sets of pushups and situps. That was enough to feel like I did something, it has been a while!

My work life is about to get more complicated, I have to assume some tasks from a person who is leaving the company, this will mean I have to make every second count at work. I guess no more daydreaming about the next run ;-)

14K Run; Vacation Plans 2006

This coming Saturday is a 10K race in the Oberwald Forest just south of Karlsruhe in Ruppur. I am part of a group of 23 runners from my company that will participate in this run. All the proceeds from this run will go to the Unicef Childrens Fund, an honorable cause.

At this point it is too late to do any specific training for the race, so last night I ran my normal 14K/8.7M route. I did push the first 10K a little faster than normal, passing the 10K point in around 54 minutes. My average speed for the entire 14K/8.7M run was 5:28/K (8:48/M), speedy for a training run. I have to admit my legs are still kind of tired from the mountain run on Sunday. The steep ascents whole my legs out more than I had counted on. Of course when I consider that 90% of my training is on very flat trails this really shouldn’t be a surprise.

Vacation 2006

After several discussions with my wife and some feedback from our respective bosses it appears that the USA Vacation 2006 will be from the end of April until around the middle of May. This is unfortunately not in the window for New Haven 2006, but maybe something else will come up. We intend on spending 3-5 days north of Detroit with some old friends during this time period if anyone is up for a run in this area :-) Most of the rest of the time will be spent at my parents in Upstate NY, where I know of at least a couple RBFers within shouting distance.

So anyway it looks like it will be an early spring or late fall marathon next year. I am seriously considering the Bienwald Marathon on March 12. This would mean I need to start training in about 4 weeks!

A Dream Mountain Run

My wife picked up a mountain race brochure this past weekend thinking if anyone is crazy enough to run it would be me. The race is called the “Montée du Grand-Ballon” in Willer-sur-Thur/ Goldbach, France – about an hour and half from us. Basically this is a 13.5K/8.4M run from Willer-sur-Thur to the Le Grand-Ballon. No problem right?

Now Jon would probably say something to the effect that “there has to be a catch when Jack is all excited about a run”. Well... Le Grand-Ballon is the name of a little-bitty 1424 meter (4671 feet) high mountain. The town of Willer-sur-Thur sits at about 370 meters (1213 feet) elevation. So including the fact you go down a couple little hills, there is 1207 meters (3960 feet) worth of hill climbing involved. In comparison my mountain run last Sunday had about 700 meters (2300 feet) of hill climbing. I would love to train for this run! Anybody want to join me?

If you look really carefully in the background of the picture on the right you will see the town of Willer-sur-Thur. This will give you an idea of the elevation.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Running the Baden Marathon with Jack

It is always kind of nice to see other parts of the running world, I know I always enjoy looking at the pictures of RBF races. In an effort to try to share my latest marathon experience I decided to combine my race report from the Baden Marathon that I ran in September, with various pictures that either family and friends took or that I 'borrowed' from other sources. As the pictures themselves don't mean a lot to anyone not familiar with the area, I have inserted little tidbits of local history whenever I found something suitable.

Please be warned that you will need some time to flip through the entire 42.2 kilometer journey, so bring a cup of coffee with you.

The link for this page is here.

A Day of Rest and Planning

I decided to take a rest day yesterday, no training. I started training relatively soon after my marathon and I feel it. Of course this was necessary to try to get ready for the mountain run this past weekend. This week I need to be a little more conservative with my training, I have a 10K race this coming Saturday and need to try to get rid of my cold by that time. I am part of a 24-person team from my company that is running in support of the Unicef Children’s Fund. I don’t anticipate a PB, but I still would like a strong run, say under 50:00.

I was thinking about my long term running goals last night on the way home from work. Basically these can be broken down into two categories, speed goals and endurance goals. The triathlon falls in between the two somewhere.

In any case I am trying to come up with a plan for next year. The earliest conceivable marathon for me would be on March 12, 2006, the Bienwald (Bee Forest) Marathon. I completed the Bienwald HM this past March, I know the course, it's doable even in a snow storm! This would mean I need to keep up with my long runs throughout the winter. There are of course marathons every month after that throughout the year.

At this point in time I don’t know if my swimming and bike conditioning will be where I want it to be in order to consider a triathlon in 2006. I will probably postpone a decision on this until next March or April. There are three main factors effecting this decision: 1) When I can schedule a freestyle swim course; 2) When we take our vacation; 3) My work/family time requirements for the Spring/Summer (e.g. how much time is left after my wife/boss get their portion).

Ultramarathon/Ultrawalking Goals

One of my prerequisites for participating in the 80K ultra-marathon next June in the neighboring City of Karlsruhe was that I had a strong finish in the Baden Marathon last month. Although I finished with a new PB, I did not finish as strong as I should have if I seriously want to complete a very tough 80K event (e.g. lots of hills). Unless I can really improve my endurance, and can verify it by completing a marathon without hitting the wall, I do not anticipate doing an 80K ultra-marathon event. Next year is probably too soon. It may not happen at all because of the time required for training. Dito with the 4-Day march (Ultrawalk) in Holland. But I will keep them on my list.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Mountain Run Pictures

Here are a few pictures that will give you and idea how the race was yesterday. Most of these are pictures from last year that I 'borrowed'.

Pictures of the first few kilometers:

Pictures of the tougher kilometers:

I should add that the person who took these pictures was either standing near the top or the bottom of the hills and did not get any shots of the actual ascents.

What is Mountain Running?

So I have my first mountain run behind me. So what is a mountain run, and how does it vary from a normal trail run? Actually I have been wondering this myself so last night I did some surfing. I found the following article at Cool Running:


In the United States, Marathon road racing features huge prize purses, great competition, and extensive media coverage. Trail Racing on the other hand, is quite popular with significant participation numbers, but as a competitive sport, it sometimes seems like a nice, relaxing way to spend a Saturday morning jogging thru the woods.

This is not true in the rest of the world!

All other countries use the term "mountain running" instead of "trail running", indicating the distinction being made, as they do not emphasize "ultra" distances, and instead feature steep, technical, and tight courses, that lend themselves to fun, fast and competitive running that is exciting to watch.

Bernie Boettcher, of Silt CO, just returned from the World Masters Mountain Running Championships in England. He wrote,

"In the USA, trail running is pitifully far behind. These guys (and girls) love to run downhill...and uphill. The depth of good runners [in England]was remarkable to see."


The World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) actually has established rules for a mountain run course:

For a course to be sanctioned by the WMRA it must meet the following rules:

1. The Course for age groups up to and including M50/W50 shall have the following parameters:
Mainly Uphill courses: Approximately 10km and 800m of ascent.
Up/down courses: Approximately 10km and 600m of ascent/descent.

2. The Course for age groups M55/W55 and older shall have the following parameters:
Mainly uphill courses: Approximately 8km and 600m of ascent.
Up/down courses: Approximately 8km and 500m of ascent/descent.

3. Courses must not contain any dangerous sections.

4. Courses must be adequately marked throughout such that complete strangers to the course can follow without difficulty.

5. Courses must have less than 20% of the distance on road.

6. Difficult sections and possible shortcuts must be manned.

7. Guidelines for downhill sections are as follows:
• They must not have rock steps.
• They must not consist of loose rock terrain.
• They must not exceed 30% rate of descent, averaged over each kilometer from the starting point of descent.

8. Drinking and sponging stations must be provided according to IAAF rules.

9. Due regard to mountain ecology and preservation must be observed when planning courses.

10. Courses must be approved by the WMRA delegate.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Brandenkopf Mountain Run Race Report

My little bitty old 10K race was nothing compared to the excitement from all the HM and M happening this weekend. Congratulations everybody!

Short version of race report: I ran my first mountain trail run, it kicked my butt, I would do it again!

The Details:

We left Saturday after lunch and drove to the town of Zell am Harmersbach where the race was held, this is about an hour and half from our town. We checked into the hotel and hurried over to the sport center just in time to see the start of the German Mountain Running Championship which ran on Saturday. There were about 90 men and 50 women competing for the German Championship in their respective class. The people are the best mountain runners in Europe, awesome, made me feel real humble in their presence.

We had a quiet dinner at the hotel and tried to get to bed early. I had a restless sleep; my wife was not sleeping very soundly due to a bad cold, so I kept waking up too.

In any case we here up at 7 a.m. this morning, took care of things, had a good breakfast and checked out about 9:45. My race was scheduled to start at 11:00 so we packed up the car and headed over to the sport club where the event was held.

Basically my condition before the race was clogged sinuses, runny nose, tired legs (probably from the running and swimming on Friday night) and kind of tired. My wife made the suggestion that I don’t run. Hmmm, nah, I’ll just go slowly!

Anyway at 11:00 a.m. 292 runners headed over the start line. The first kilometer was relatively flat, leading out of town and over the fields. I past the 1K marker at 5:05 (8:11/M pace). Then we started slowing running up some gentle hills leading to the forest. I pasted the 2K marker at 10:49, a pace of 5:41/K (9:09/M). From about the 2.5K point to about the 4.5K point we climbed about 250 meters in elevation, the longest and steepest climb on the course. This totally kicked my butt! By the time I made it to the flat stretch at the end of this climb I was walking. My nose was running like a waterfall, I was coughing up weird green looking stuff and my legs felt like I should have been done already.

From this point on the race course alternated between 1K stretches of more or less flat parts followed immediately by at least a kilometer long hill climb. I passed the 5K marker in about 33 minutes, not bad considering. To make a long story short I managed to keep moving on the gentler parts of the course, but fought for every meter of hill climb to the finish line.

My final time 1:15:44. As I never ran a mountain run before I have nothing to compare it too. I finished 250th out of 292 runners, I actually thought I was last as I crossed the finish line.

All and all I found the run to be a tremendous learning experience. I made up a short list:

- The common cold can wreck havoc on your conditioning during a normal run, during a mountain run it will beat you to death!
- Do not, under any circumstances, start out too fast with a mountain run – it will break you!
- The hills that I train on are anthills in comparison to what I ran today!
- Mountain run, at least the competitive ones available in Germany should not be taken lightly; a special training program is required to be competitive.

I have a tremendous respect for the runner’s that I saw today. It was very obvious who was an experienced mountain runner and who was not. These people are fit! Base on the starting list most of the runners came town with lots of opportunity for mountain training! I was one of the few from a flat region.

I definitely want to do another mountain run, but next time I know I need to devote some time to building up my stamina.

We took lots of pictures, I will try to post them in the next day or two.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Speedy Run and Swim Class #2

When I got home last night I went for about a 10K run, give or take a hundred meters. I tried to speed up a little bit. My tempo based on 10K was 5:22/K (8:39/M). I noticed that my legs were a bit sore from the swimming on Thursday night.

So after the run I had a quick shower, a little bit to eat, spent a half hour of quality time with my wife, then headed out to my second swimming class. I showed up early to practice my breast stroke, completing about 250 meters before class. Our teacher held the class in the outer race lane of the pool. Last night’s class consisted of the following exercises:

- Showing the teacher what we learned from last week, e.g. swim 20 meters forward with the breast stroke. Teacher said I did much better keeping the proper form. Glad she didn’t see me before the class, it was more disastrous.
- The next exercise involved practicising the breast stroke with a long cylindrical floatation device (kind of like a oversized sausage) under our chest and arms. Here the concentration was proper arm form. Teacher was satisfied with form, whew!
- Then it was swim goggles on and some practice swimming underwater. I was the only one in our group of five that had done that before, this amazed me. Teacher first had us use a kick that normally is used with freestyle swimming. Then we switched to breast stroke kick.

That was about it, 45 minutes goes quickly when you are having fun. After class I swam another 150 meters or so, including 25 meters using Jack’s self-taught freestyle stroke. I noticed the lifeguard was watching me really close when I did this, I must have looked like I was drowning or something.

So tomorrow is my Brandenkopf Mountain Run in Zell am Harmersbach. Zell am Harmersbach is one of the more beautiful areas of the Middle Black Forest, right in the heart of Cuckoo Clock country. The Brandenkopf Mountain is supposed to be the highest mountain in the Middle Black Forest region. In any case I’m running up it tomorrow at 11 a.m. Now’s my chance to prove that I am part mountain goat! I still have a few lingering signs from my cold, so this may slow me down a bit, but it’s only 10K, right. Okay with a little old 700 meter change in elevation from start to finish, what’s that about 2300 feet.

Anyway we are heading out after lunch today and spending the night. We found a hotel with a swimming pool about 5 minutes from the race Start. I’ll have to make sure I don’t get too carried away practising my swimming tonight right before a mountain run. Tomorrow the town is having a street festival so it should be a fun day. The only down side is my wife now has a really bad cold that may prevent her from enjoying most of the weekend. Poor girl, she was looking forward to enjoying the Black Forest. I have to try find something to cheer her up.

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to support the various RBFers that are racing, especially in Hartford, CN!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Doing my Homework at the Pool

Yep, I think everyone needs goals, whether it be fitness, family, work or whatever. Sometimes we meet the goals, sometimes not, but normally it keeps us moving forward. The only goal I haven’t met yet this year in the total fitness arena is losing my last 6-8kg (13-17lbs). Okay I still have about 12 weeks till the end of the year, there is still hope.

On the other side I don’t necessarily feel BAD about it because, as Blogfather Mark once commented, I have probably replaced a lot of fat with muscle, muscle is heavier. On the positive side, after an initial weight loss of 4kg (9lbs) by March, I haven’t gained any weight since then! Of course there have been fluctuations depending on my training, but I have had an average weekly weight of 75kg (166lbs) since March. Last year my weight went up and down like a rubber ball, so I consider this a major accomplishment.

So enough rambling for now. Last night I stopped at the swimming pool and did some homework for my swimming course. All together I swam about 550 meters, 11 laps. I tried really hard to do the breast stroke correctly. I admit though that I am an uncoordinated oaf when it comes to swimming. I was watching the other swimmers for awhile and tried to imitate their form, which was usually the same as my swimming instructor taught us during our first class. Alas, I am still an oaf.

Despite my rather depressing attempt at proper form and technique I still think I had a good workout. I love the feeling that I had after leaving the swimming pool, a kind of feeling of accomplishment that I had really worked a whole bunch of muscles in the body. No aches or pains, just a feeling that I had a good workout. I think swimming and I are going to be good friends. We only need to learn to get along with each other. It’s kind of like when you are young and finally meet that special cute girl or guy. You are kind of clumsy and awkward together at first, but after awhile no one can pry you apart, you are just one.

Tonight will be a busy night, I need to run and do the swim course. In order to do both I have to cut my running distance down to about 10K in order to make it to swim class on time. I have my mountain run on Sunday so I don’t want to wait until tomorrow to get my run in. I also don’t want to skip a run because that would mean 4 days without running, I mean, I might forget how to run :-O

Thursday, October 06, 2005

My Long Term Running Goals

I was reading the Carnival of Runners this morning sponsored this week by new guy blogger The Running Guy. As Jeremy is a new member of the RBF family I was looking through his posts, he has a lot of interesting things to say. One thing that caught my eye was the entry “What is Running Success” According to Jeremy, setting GOALS is the thing that has made him into a runner. Before this time he had a lot of false starts and really couldn’t get ‘into’ running. I don’t want to steal all of Jeremy’s thoughts so let me just say that I highly recommend you read the rest of what he wrote, it’s short but has a lot to say!

When I think about it I am happiest with my running when I am training for a specific goal. This years goals included setting new PR’s with the 10K and HM disciplines, completing my first marathon, then setting a new PR with my second marathon. I achieved all my running goals that I set, now I am thinking about what’s ahead.

I have a whole bunch of tentative goals ‘running’ through my head. Some of these I will probably be able to achieve next year, others will need some more time. I love making lists so I might as well plaster my current dream sheet here:

- Break the 4 hour barrier for a marathon.
- Break the 1:45:00 barrier for a half-marathon.
- Break the 45:00 minute barrier for a 10K.
- Complete a sprint triathlon.
- Complete a mountain marathon (e.g. marathon with some serious hills).
- Complete the 80K Karlsruhe Night Run.

My ultimate goal:

Complete the 4-day Marches (walk) in Nijmegen, Holland (30K per day for certificate; 50K per day for 4-Day Cross). In other words either 120K/75M or 200K/125M in four days.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Jack's Cure for the Common Cold

Tonight I decided to stop letting a cold kick my butt and went out and kicked my cold’s butt instead. With my mountain run on Sunday I felt obligated to get at least one more hill run in before then. Wifey was at her English course with the car so I was left with either the mountain bike or my scooter. After sticking my head out the front door and seeing the dark sky and feeling a breeze I opted for the scooter considering my still lingering cold.

So I suited up with my running gear, pulled some old jeans and a sweatshirt over this and drove to the neighboring town of Weingarten where our garden club is located. After stashing my jeans and sweatshirt in the garden house I limbered up and started heading for the hills. It is about 2K through a moor, across a field, and through a small tunnel under a highway before I reach the horse path at the edge of the forest. The horse path winds up to a logging trail that I follow up the side of the mountain. Although it hadn’t rained all day the trails were still quite muddy and slippery due to all the rain we had this week. It was quite treacherous on the horse path, I was glad when I finally reached the logging trail. The logging trail was at least a bit firmer, at least the parts that weren’t in use for a while. I had to dodge some major mud tracks on the log road at one point where they had been stacking logs with their large machines earlier in the day. Of course I slipped and got one foot soaking wet, it’s just my way!

As I hit the major hill climb I really felt the cold in my chest, I was wheezing like a chain-smoker within a short time. On the other side my legs felt powerful, a result of limited mileage and some slack time, I muscled my way up to the top doing my best to gasp for air as I went. A cold sucks!

Normally I turn right at the top of the hill and run along a flat stretch for 5 minutes or so. Tonight the log workers were blocking this street, so I had to turn left and run another 4-5 minutes up a second hill! This second hill knocked a bunch of evil looking green mucus loose from my lungs which I discarded and from that point on I could actually breath much better.

After reaching the top of the second hill I quickly got my bearing, recognizing the cross-trail and decided to keep going straight on a trail that I hadn’t tried before. This was a nice gradual downhill trail through some thick evergreens, then turned left and started slowly back uphill again. I still had a lot of time before I needed to turn around so I kept going. The trail passed a line of telephone poles that I was familiar with, then turned right and downhill again. So down I went until I reached another right which appeared to be a horse trail that I figured would lead me back up onto the road I need to take back.

So off I went done the horse trail, dodging logs, horse manure and just daydreaming about Lara in the saddle :-) I remember thinking man this is a nice trail, I could run on this trail forever. After another 10 minutes or so I started wondering if I was GOING TO run this trail forever because it just kept going and going and going. Just as I was thinking about turning around the trail when around a small curve and dropped downwards suddenly into a little clearing with another logging road. So I turn right and started up this wicked steep hill that no honest horse would ever take. After about 5 minutes I reach a trail that I recognized immediately to be the one I needed and headed back down the mountain the way I came. Whew!

Anyway I ran 1:26:05, or somewhere around 15K/9.3M.

Wait, wait, wait – so what’s up with the cold? Somewhere up there on the top of the mountain I just kind of forgot all about it. I was so into my run that I didn’t even pay attention to it anymore until I got home and my nose started getting clogged up again. It’s like once I get the lungs cleaned out and keep running I’m fine. Hopefully I won’t be worse tomorrow :-O

Stutensee Triathlon July 2006??

Last night I had planned on doing my weight training and a 10K+ bike ride but my lungs were so congested from my cold I decided to take the night off. I did go for a 15 minute walk later on to clear the cobwebs. This morning I am feeling much better so I will probably do at least a 10K run this evening.

Last night I presented my "Try a Tri in Stutensee 2006" idea to my wife. Her first reaction (of course) was to give me her “have you lost your mind” look. Then she did something totally unexpected, she went back to reading her magazine and didn’t say anything more about it. Now this is her way of saying “Well if you think you have to!” But I could hear the wheels turning in her mind “First the idiot has to make it through his swim course, ha!”

I accept the challenge! Of course at this point it really is a challenge, I know I have a lot of hard work ahead of me in the swimming department. I am also a recreational cyclist, I have no clue about bike racing. So lots of work to do before next July.

I am still looking at several different marathon possibilities for next year. I will probably run just one, especially if I think I am up to trying a Tri. Both of these events are dependant on our vacation schedule for 2006 which is hanging in limbo at the moment. It's just too early to tell. I may just opt for a March marathon and start training soon - but training in the ice and cold - brrrr.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

How About Trying a Tri?

Since I mentioned that I am taking swimming lessons I have had several people ask me if I intend on training for a triathlon. The short answer is that yes I would like to try a Tri.

Now for the long answer. The typical triathlon for beginners is the Sprint Triathlon. In Germany this consists of a 500 meter swim, a 20K bike ride and a 5K run (is that the same worldwide?). Now remember we’re not talking Ironman here, this is strictly beginner’s stuff. Here is my self-analysis:

The Swim Part

I don’t know if I can swim 500 meters, I never tri-ed this distance all at once. I can do a couple laps at the pool with my clumsy doggie-breast stroke. So this is where the swimming lesson enters the picture. My current swim course will hopefully teach me how to correctly do the breast stroke. In January I want to enroll in a freestyle (crawl) swim course. Then it’s only a matter of practicing these techniques unto I turn into aqua man, then joining a water polo team so I can get used to getting beat up in the water (or maybe going swimming in the kiddie pool?)!

The Bicycling Part

Now I could probably pedal my cheap Wal-Mart mountain bike 20K, although my butt would strongly object and the race would probably be over with before I finish. My crazy road-racing-biking-fool-type of a colleague said I should think about getting at least a good 10-speed or something that would keep the peasants from snickering. He suggested buying a used racing bike from a totally crazy biking type who needs to replace their bike every 6 months. Then I would have to put regular bike training on my training schedule so I can work some calluses on the butt.

The Running Part

No problem! I just need to practice running after swimming and bike riding.

All in all this is going to be a tri-ing experience and will take awhile! If my swimming improves dramatically there could be some movement in the Tri-direction in 2006, otherwise I will Tri in 2007.

Note (added later):

I don't have to go to far for a Tri. The next town down from us has a Tri every July with a 500 meter swim/23K bike ride/5K run. Last year there were 139 men and 39 women that finished the event.

Duck Season and Oktoberfest

Duck season is upon us, not the hunting type, no I mean rain. Saturday it rained, Sunday it rained, yesterday was a holiday in Germany it rained. Today it is raining, tomorrow, well you probably can guess what the weather report is.

Despite the lousy weather we met with friends at the local Oktoberfest on Sunday afternoon. The good part of the day was the good company of our friends, the good food and some traditional Oktoberfest dance and music from the club sponsoring the event. The bad part of the day was getting rained on while making our way to the fest tent, sitting in a drafty tent for 5 hours and having to put up with rather unhealthy air from smokers, old beer, greasy food and 1200 other soggy people.

Of course the next morning my wife made the comment “I hope I didn’t catch a cold.” I could only answer with “achooo”. Yep runny nose, sneezing, coughing, clogged sinuses I had it all by Monday morning. The good news is that I didn’t have fever, the bad news is that my wife had all the symptoms by noon as well. So we spent our holiday yesterday playing pass the Kleenex please! After a good 10 hours sleep last night I feel better this morning, still displaying the symptoms, but feeling better. I can’t wait to go to work and pass the bug onto all those that paid me this favor in the past.

As I said I didn’t have any fever, so against my wife’s rather conservative opinion I suited up and ran a 14K/8.7M round yesterday afternoon. My timing was perfect, I think it was the only time the entire day when it didn’t rain. I did keep the pace down some, I definitely was not feeling up to par. On a positive note the run really cleaned out the sinuses and enabled normal breathing for at least and hour or two.

If you are just catching up reading blogs from the weekend be sure to check out the race report from our newest RBF marathoner Brent.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

First Swimming Lesson & A Rainy Long Run

Yesterday I had my blog report all typed up ready to go and my computer froze up. Of course I didn’t save it, that would be too easy. Anyway nothing terribly important, just my normal ramblings about my training day off on Thursday.

Last night was my first swim class, the adult beginners class. Compared to the other 4 in my class I am a “good” swimmer. I haven’t got the names down yet, I am always slow catching name, but the class consists of a 40ish couple probably from Turkey who never swam before. The lady doesn’t speak German either (the class is in German), her husband has to translate. Then we have a younger (then me) man about 35 who said he lived by a large lake in northern Germany most of his life and never learned to swim, he at least used to wade in the water and is not scared of it. Then there is a younger girl-woman somewhere around 15-25 years old, these days I really can’t tell anymore. Her face is youthful but the rest very mature, but let me stay away from that, and just say she is an attractive young lady around my daughter’s age. All the people are friendly and seem to have a desire to learn how to swim. The Turkish man and the attractive young lady both made major advances in the short 45 minute session that we had.

I have already decided that Annabella our instructor is a gift from heaven as she has nerves of steel and patience a mile long. She also is very honest and let me know that my swimming style that my taught myself, a modified breast stroke crossed with a doggy paddle as my wife calls it, stinks! She also suggested that I would probably have a harder time in the class because I first have to forget my bad habits. I love this lady, she is just what I need to break me down and rebuilt into a swimming machine! I am really looking forward to our next 9 classes.

I swam a couple laps before the class and two more afterwards. We did various drills during the class to practice the proper breast stroke. My wife went with me to the pool, but she has a cold and aching bones so decided to sit the night out in the cafeteria with a cup of hot chocolate and a magazine. I felt really good after the class and extra laps, so much so that I was all wound up the rest of the night and it took forever to fall asleep.

But at 6:30 this morning I rolled out of bed, at breakfast, warm-up and headed out on my first long run since the marathon. I had 21K (12M) on the schedule today, but I was a bit undecided how far to go as I am still recovering , so I just started running. I had my CamelBak with me, jacket (it was sprinkling) and running hat (not orange) so was ready for anything. I settled into about a 6:00/K (9:39/M) pace and started running south towards Karlsruhe. Rather than staying on the asphalt bicycle paths as I had done during my marathon training, I meandered onto parallel gravel or dirt paths as the opportunity provided itself. About halfway to Karlsruhe (6K?) I turned around and took a different trail that eventually led me over to where I usually do my 14K (8.7M) runs during the week. From there I took my normal route back to the house. This ended up being a little further than I planned on, somewhere around 25-26K (15-16M), a total time of 2:32:43.

The run was hard, those muscles that felt so good after swimming last night were making their discomfort known this morning. I was stiff

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