Sunday, May 07, 2006

The 17th Annual Baden Mile: Race Report

I kind of dreaded the 17th annual Badischemeile (Baden Mile) yesterday morning as I woke up. I just ran a marathon 6 days ago and I had a 3 ½ hour hilly long run behind me from Friday. But I had signed up as part of the 52-person strong team from my company and, being how I am, I do not let the team down, I showed up ready to give it my best, whatever that was to be.

The race started at 3 p.m. in Karlsruhe, the nearest city about 20 minutes south of where we live. My wife wanted to do some shopping so we left early. I picked up my start number at the court house and sat outside on a park bench watching the people go by.

As I sat waiting for the race to start I was graced by running royalty in our region, Albert Olbrechts, the now 91-year old regional runner and a companion (daughter or young wife?) happened by and asked if I had room for them on the bench. Of course I did (and would have given up my seat for them), so I enjoyed talking with them for almost an hour before the start of the race. I can almost write a whole posting on this conversation – but will leave it for now.

In any case about 50 minutes before the race I unglued my butt from the bench and sought the never ending line for the toilets. Thirty minutes later I made my way over to the start (at the edge of the palace garden in the middle of the city) and joined several of my coworkers who were warming up. A few minutes before the start of the race I snaked my way through the crowd of almost 2900 runners towards the front – I knew this was a good strategy for this race, as there is always a tremendous bottleneck as the race begins. Participants wear a start number with a barcode, e.g. no chip, so to have a good run you have to get out of the crowd as soon as possible.

In any case after a couple minutes the start pistol sounded and we were off. I started really fast (for me) trying to break out of the masses of people as we wound our way through the palace gardens. It was kind of dangerous here, as there were a lot of small trees every 10 feet or so. Several people actually ran into trees as we went through, I saw one runner with blood dripping from his head (he kept running).

I completed the first kilometer with an unprecedented pace of 4:30/K (7:15/M), which left me wondering if the kilometer marker was correct – I’ve never run so fast! I was breathing heavier than normal, but my legs felt good so I kept pushing as we left the palace gardens and made our way through the city streets of Karlsruhe.

It was a rather warm day, about 27C/81F, with a blazing sun and only a slight breeze. Most of the race was not shaded and on hot asphalt or concrete streets. I was already soaked with sweat after the first 5-10 minutes.

I completed both the 2nd and 3rd kilometer with an average pace of 4:45/K (7:39/M), still faster than my best 10K pace (4:55/K). I started wondering how long I could keep this up, but decided the best thing to do is not to think about, just run! So for the most part I stopped looking at my watch after that and just concentrated on my breathing and pushing forward.

By kilometer 6 I could feel myself slowing down, we were on the home stretch, an almost 2 kilometer stretch that goes straight towards the sports stadium and the finish. So anyway, as I struggled to keep the pace going, a coworker of mine, Wolfgang passed me. Now Wolfgang has beat me by 2-3 minutes the previous years that we ran this race, and is rather boisterous about his speed. This thought ran through my mind as he passed and somehow I just couldn’t bring myself to let him do this a third time – I hit the turbo booster and passed him – and kept going not looking back until I made it over the finish line! He came in a few seconds behind me. He later complained that he had just about succeeded in passing me again as we lapped the track in the sports stadium but the last two hundred meters I broke into a spring and he couldn’t keep up. Me, a sprinter, ha!

I finished in 42:57, which in comparison to last year’s 43:44 is a new personal best. More importantly it is the fastest race that I have ever run (period) with an average pace of 4:46/K (7:41/M).

I was in 437th place out of 2889 runners. The race results are not broken down by age groups so I can’t say how I compare to other runners in my age group. I did figure out that I was the 13th fastest runner in my year of birth (1959), out of 80.

So today my legs are tired, but no real aches or pains. I look forward to kicking up my feet and relaxing today – it was a busy week in the running arena – I ran 104K/65M in the last 7 days – a new record. Have a nice Sunday!

p.s. Albert Olbrechts, the 91-year old that I talked to before the race finished in 1:16:44, 2858th out of 2889 runner's. Is that awesome or what!

Hey, what happened to the plan to take it easy during the race? Admit it, you are too competitive to run slowly in those situations.
Wow, Jack that's awesome. Congrats on yet another great race. And how cool getting to talk with Albert. We all want to be like him when we grow up.
woo hoo, great job!!!!
Congrats on the new best!
Excellent sprinting!!!
Wow!! Awesome job on the race and the new PR!

Way to wallup the coworker, too!
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