Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Few Pictures of my Cross-Country Race

Here are a few pictures that I found of the cross-country run on Sunday. I am the cold looking number 12.

Under interesting notes:

The runner that came in 2 seconds behind me, Friedbert Vetter (#140), ran the Rodgau 50K ultramarathon on Saturday the day before the cross-country race. His time for the 50K was 4:58:14 257th out of 524 – the man was born in 1953! If that isn't enough I did a quick google search and found out he is quite the experienced ultramarathoner, completing at least a 50K (4:36:00), 80K (8:28:27 - first place in his age class) and a 100K (9:13:00) ultramarathon last year. He also finished the Bienwald Marathon last year, the one I am running in March, in 3:19:31! To see him at the start you would never guess that he can run so fast - I see him frequently at some of the local 10K races. He certainly has my respect! I found a picture of him:

Sunday, January 29, 2006

My First Cross-country Race

This morning was a cool -7C/20F as I headed to my first cross-country race. My legs were kind of tired from helping a friend move furniture yesterday (Saturday), so I was just looking for a fun run today.

The race was held in Kraichtal-Oberacker, a small village about 40 minutes from our house. As is typical by the smaller races in Germany the local light-athletic club sponsored the race and the Start was in front of their clubhouse. As I picked up my start number I noticed a few people that I have seen at other races. Most seem to be connected with area sports clubs, a sign that there were some pretty hard-core runners in the crowd.

The sun was shining as we lined up at 10:00 a.m., 159 runners. The race was three laps of 3.3K, the trail was mostly through the surrounding forest. They announced shortly before the race that the trail was snow-covered, frozen solid and icy in spots. They warned us to be particularly careful on a couple downhill portions as there was ice under the snow.

The starting pistol was a relief for most, as it was cold just standing around. We headed over a small soccer field and into the woods. There was barely room to pass as we snaked our way through the forest on a small trail. After about a kilometer we started climbing a hills, the pace slowed some, but picked up on the downhill side. After the second hill we circled to the left and started making our way back towards the Start over a serious of gently rolling hill. Normally this would have been a fun stretch as it wound through the trees, but today it was covered with frozen branches, footprints and other obstacles. More than one runner tripped and fell through here. After about 3K we popped out of the forest and ran around the soccer field, the end of the first round.

The second round went rather uneventful, I latched onto a couple people that were doing a comfortable speed that felt about right for today. The runners were quite, I guess too busy watching the trail. We finished the second round and the speed seemed to automatically increase. I struggled to keep up with the runner in front of me. I found out later he was 11 years younger than I and belonged to a swim club. He really picked up the pace the last few minutes of the race, I really struggled to keep up, I could really feel all the stairs I walked up yesterday during the furniture moving. I tried to pass him on the last stretch over the soccer field, but he ended up finishing two seconds ahead of me.

I finished in 55:22, one of my slowest 10K races, but I am satisfied with the time considering that it was a cross-country run. I placed 115th out of 159 runners and 16/25 in my age group (M45). The winning male today finished in 34:39 (1977), the wining female in 48:56 (1986).

I think I forgot about the cold after the first minute or two, trail running is definitely more difficult than street races. All in all it was great fun, this was definitely not my last cross-country race. It appears that the cross-country races attract the more athletic types as compared to a road race. I finished much farther in the back as normal. On the other side I haven’t done any hill training since October. When my marathon is finished I need to work on core training and head for the hills.

Friday, January 27, 2006

A 24-26K Medium Long Run in the Snow

A light snowfall continued throughout the day yesterday, but it stayed warm enough (0C/32F) that it was already starting to melt. There was about 3-4 inches of accumulation on the trails when I headed out for my run at 4:30 p.m.

My goal for the run was as unsure as the weather yesterday. I had planned on running Saturday’s 24K/15M medium long run because I am helping a friend move on Saturday. But I was not sure if I really could hold up for 2 ½ hours considering the trail conditions. So I filled my CamelBak, let my wife know that I would be gone for 1-2 ½ hours and headed out. The first two kilometers were over roads and a bike path that were well traveled and were really icy! Eventually I hit the back trails and headed over the fields and into the forest. A tractor had been through earlier so the snow was tramped down a little, the trail was slick, but navigable. I decided to do my medium long run.

The first hour went pretty well, it was still light out, I ran the first 6K over my normal route, then crossed the railroad tracks that separate my side of the forest and the forest where the Graben running club has their trails. I wound my way over the 11K trail that they offer. I made it about halfway before it got really dark. Luckily I am quite familiar with the trails so I only had to concentrate on staying in between the tree lines and keeping my footing. The snow was soft on top, but slippery underneath, I was slipping with almost every step, so had to keep the pace down.

After about an hour and a half I popped out of the woods and started heading over the tractor path between fields toward the town of Graben. I was thankful that there was almost no wind. The snow clouds had disappeared and the night was clear, there was enough light from “the heavens” to stay on the trail. I passed Graben and headed over a couple slushy roads that eventually brought me back to my normal 14K/8.7M running trail. From here it was about 6K from my house, mostly along a trail on the edge of a small forest and over field paths.

I ran for 2:38:15 at a slower pace than normal. I would guess that I ran between 24-26K (15-16M), I wrote 25K in my log book. My legs felt worse than after my 32K long run last weekend, probably because of all the sliding around in the snow. I have a 14K/8.7M run on the schedule for tonight, but my legs are still pretty sore and I have a 10K cross-country race on Sunday morning. I may just take tonight off. Next week is another very high mileage week so I need to be ready for that.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Thanks everyone for your comments, they mean the world to me :-)

I’ve been reading a lot about training for an ultra-marathon lately, as well as lurking around some of the ultra-marathon blog sites. I am confident that with the right training I can complete longer distance races. I am not a fast runner compared to others in my age group, but I think I have the discipline and fortitude to go longer distances.

If my wife supports my decision I would like to run the 80K (49.7 mile) ultra-marathon at Karlsruhe in June 2007. The route is a good mix of asphalt and trails, as well as flat land and hills. It is also local, which means I might be able to get a support crew set up. The race is also well organized and has enough checkpoints to where I wouldn’t need to bring my own food and drink. Sounds like a good first race.

But for now I am going to run my marathon in March, recover for a few weeks – spend some extra time with my wife doing what she wants to do. Then we’ll see what’s going on.


I had a good cross-training experience when I woke up at 4:45 this morning, I had to shovel 4 inches of snow off the sidewalks in front of our house! Yep, it is the duty of every household to have the sidewalks around their houses clear by 8 a.m., so since my train leaves at 6 a.m. I was outside at 5:00 a.m. shovel in hand!

Now, four hours later, it is snowing again and it is becoming questionable if I run my 24K/15M run tonight. I may opt to run my 14K/8.7M run tonight and postpone the longer run until tomorrow night (it is supposed to start warming up again tomorrow). I love running in the snow, but by the time I get home and shovel the sidewalks again it will be almost dark. At the present rate that it is snowing I predict 8-10 inches of accumulation by this evening. A 2 ½ hour run in the dark and with deeper snow can be hazardous. So anyway I will have a better idea when I get home tonight.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Looking into the Future

I am a goal-based runner. In other words my motivation for running is fed by the next major race. With my next marathon just 6 ½ weeks away (ahhhh) I am starting to look at what’s next.

This year there will definitely be several half-marathons, 10K’s, mountain runs, cross-country races etc. There might be a Fall marathon, and when, then a country (e.g. non-city) marathon. The latter is part of my anti-asphalt program that I am launching.

But then I keep hearing this little voice whispering, not Triathlon, but ULTRA! Just saying the word gives me shivers up and down the spine. As I was swimming last night I found myself totally unexcited by the experience. But when I think about training for an ultra-marathon I get goose-pimples. Am I overtraining and going mad, or is this a sign?

A little swimming, a lot of eating, a lot of work

Yesterday was a hard day at work, it seemed like everyone needed something from me, I felt like I was getting nowhere. I also tried to limit what I ate throughout the day, but by evening I was famished – I need to learn to even out my calories throughout the day.

In any case I first went to the pool last night before dinner, but after about 800 meters breaststroke I add zero energy or desire to continue so decided to call it an early night. In the meantime my wife had prepared one of my favorite training meals, spaghetti, broccoli and a green salad. My wife commented that I ate like a ravaging wolf – yep, I definitely have to do better at spreading the calories out over the entire day so I don’t eat twice as much at night. I’m up a pound this morning [big sigh].

This week I have to rearrange my running schedule, not my favorite thing to do. Tonight we are meeting a friend for dinner in the nearby city of Karlsruhe, so I know I won’t get my run in. I will postpone this until Friday night. Saturday I am helping another friend move his mother-in-law into a new apartment so I need to move my 24K/15M run to Thursday night.

Sunday morning is a 10K cross-country race, but this is a just-for-fun run. On Monday I have a late meeting, followed by dinner, so I have squeeze that night’s run in sometime during the week.

I also have a big pile of work on my desk that just doesn’t seem to go away, so I have to start bringing some home to work on. Why does life always get so busy as my training miles start peaking? Have a nice week everyone!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A little stiff this morning, but more from the freezing temperatures ...

My legs are a little stiff this morning after „letting myself go“ on my „recovery“ run last night. But I think I was still listening to my body, it wasn’t like I was pushing into the pain zone, it was more like my body saying we can handle this, don’t be afraid to push a little. I also knew that I would be swimming tonight and that I would be postponing my Wednesday night run to Thursday because we are invited to dinner with a friend, so I basically have two days of no running before me.

The weather is changing again in Germany, in the northeast and into Poland they are experiencing temperatures of -24C/-11F. Luckily we live in the “tropical” part of Germany, we have a toasty -7C/19F in the moment (5:45 a.m.).

Hey don’t forget to cheer for the RBFers racing this weekend. Terry at Planet3rry is doing a 10-mile on Saturday (28th). David, Rae, and Noames are running the Miami Tropical Marathon on Sunday (29th). Brent will also be out motivating the Miami runners and probably flirting with Rae the last 10K. Have fun everyone, we'll be cheering you on from our respective corner of RBF land!

I am running my first 10K cross-country (trail?) run on Sunday, but that is so insignificant compared to the torture, I mean the fun, that these guys will be having ;-)

Monday, January 23, 2006

I was listening to my body, but my body wasn't listening to me!

It started out innocent enough, a 14K/8.7M recovery run following an active weekend of running including a 32K/20M long run and a 8K/5M recovery run. The sun was shining, the temperature -1C/31F, a slight wind, the first kilometer at an easy 6:10/K (9:55/M) pace...I was listening to my body...telling myself to take it easy...I turned on my MP3 player...a little country music...Brooks & Dunn...Toby Keith...Aaron Tippin...a 5:30 kilometer...whoops too fast...a 5:20 kilometer...whoops slow down...oh what the heck, lets go, look out I’m coming through! ;-)

So a 14K/8.7M tempo run, average pace 5:30/K (8:44/M), legs a little sore – but in a good way - it was a good workout. Tomorrow night = laps at the pool :-)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Another 8K/5M Run = Highest Mileage Week EVER!

So the day after my 32K/20M run, how does old Jack feel you might ask? Great! No aches, no pains, no stiffness, real good! It makes me wonder what I did wrong ;-)

I had to spend a few hours working this afternoon on a translation for work (German to English), not my favorite work, but particularly miserable when the German is poorly written to begin with. Our engineers may be smart and can do some amazing things, but few can write worth a darn.

Anyway, by the middle of the afternoon I was starting to climb the walls. I was just itching to hit the trails. A quick check revealed that my wife was deeply involved with her homework for her night class, so I debated whether I should really run or not the day after my long run. I felt really good, so didn’t think about it too long, rather suited up and headed out.

I did a nice slow 8K/5M loop around the fields surrounding our town, trying to stick to dirt paths as much as possible. I took it really easy, averaging 6:11/K (9:56/M). I stretched good afterwards and don’t seem to have any soreness or aches – we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

So I finished this week with a total of 78 kilometers (48.5 miles), my highest mileage week EVER!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

32K/20M Long Run Behind Me!

This morning I was up at 5.30, had a small breakfast, suited up, warmed up and was out the door at about 6:15. On the schedule today, 32K/20M at planned marathon pace. My current planned marathon pace is 6:00/K (9:39/M) or around a 4:15:00 marathon. A sub-4 race would be nice, but I am realistic, I have not put in the mileage that I did with my second marathon. But anything goes on marathon day :-)

Anyway it was dark, but with a half-moon lighting the way. The temperature was 4C/39F, there was a brisk wind blowing and the air was damp (it’s raining as I write).

For most of the first 11K/7M I was running into the wind, but I still managed a 5:45/K (9:15/M) pace. I follow almost a perfectly straight (and flat) asphalt bike path from the 1K point where I leave my town to the neighboring city of Karlsruhe. Just past the 11K point I turn right, run 2 minutes and take a parallel bike path back towards my town.

My next turn occurred shortly before the 20K point, a right which eventually (9 minutes) crosses over my original path and on to the neighboring town of Blankenloch. My time at approximately the 20K point 1:56:15, or an average pace of 5:49/K (9:21/M), still looking good! I think I was able to maintain a faster pace because the wind was at my back after my two turns around the 11K point.

I continued on to Blankenloch, ran through one side of the town, then turned left and started heading in the general direction of my town (Friedrichstal). This section of the run was particularly nasty as it was all open fields, the wind was still quite aggressive, and the rain clouds were rolling in. I started slowing down some through here, my legs were hurting – probably a combination of higher mileage this week and the 100% asphalt route.

By the 25K (15.5M) point I was ready to stop running, my legs were aching. But when the legs start aching than the training is just getting started. I flipped on my MP3 player and tried to ignore my complaining legs.

As I pushed forward time seemed to go in slow motion. I was still maintaining around a 6:00/K (9:39/M) pace (if the Google Earth measurements are accurate) but it took a tremendous effort to keep from stopping. I finally reached the highway splitting the fields from the town of Blankenloch and my town (at about the 27K/17M point) and took an underpass under the highway. The path then wound it’s way around the same fields that I ran on Thursday night. I had to take a couple turns in order to stay on asphalt surfaces.

The last 5K were grueling, my legs were like blocks of concrete – I fought to keep the pace going, but couldn’t get the legs to move any faster. Although I didn’t think like this at that moment in time, this is the best training there is for a marathon – to keep going when the comfort level is in the red zone.

I finally made my way onto the street that would take me home, 1K to go. I broke into more of a jog than running, almost home. I crossed the “finish” in front of my house with a time of 3:16:04. I would have like to run another 10 minutes just to be sure I got in enough mileage, but my legs refused.

I am not exactly sure if the distance was exactly 32K/20M, I am sure that it was 2K more than my long run two weeks ago. So assuming it really was a 32K run than my average pace was 6:08/K (9:52/M), a little slower than I planned, but I’ll take it.

So a little self-evaluation is in order: I probably started out a little to fast considering I was running against the wind, but I don’t think this was a critical factor. A more significant factor is that last week I only ran 48K/30M and this week I am up to 70K/44M – a major difference. One of my 14K/8.7M runs this week was at HM race pace. In other words I had higher mileage than normal and my intensity was greater than what I have been running lately.

On the positive side my eating seemed to be just about right. The last two days I have been eating a lot of carbs and have increased calorie intake about a 1000 calories a day (I've been dieting). I also started drinking my energy drink a little bit earlier on in the run than normal, and this seemed to keep the energy level flowing. In other words my energy level was just about right today, I only had terribly sore legs. I blame the sore legs on the 100% asphalt or concrete paths/roads that I ran on.

So in two weeks I have a 34K/21M run on the schedule, I can't wait to feel the pain of achievement again!

Last note: Number of breaks/stops during the 32K/20M run: 0 (zero)!

Friday, January 20, 2006

I Was, I Am

In anticipation of my long run tomorrow morning I seem to have a lot of nervous energy today. During lunch I came up with a diet timeline for my life, not a healthy cycle:

I was the 240 lb. 12-year old who was always the last person to complete the laps in gym class.
I was the 160 lb. 19-year old farm kid who started work at the supermarket and got married.
I was the 220 lb. 23-year old unemployed store manager who joined the army.
I was the 170 lb. 31-year old sergeant who left the army and settled with his second wife in Germany.
I was the 210 lb. 32-year old student and bookkeeper who supported the U.S. Army in Germany.
I was the 170 lb. 35-year old masters-degree-dude who started work as a technical writer.
I was the 221 lb. 43-year old technical writer whose personnel manager told him he was too fat.
I am the 160 lb. 46-year old tech writer and marathoner who will lose those last 10 lbs. this year.

Just for Fun: I am an Expresso!

I was over at Flatman's blog and learned that he is a Black Coffee, so I thought I would try the coffee test.

The results:

***You Are an Espresso***

At your best, you are: straight shooting, ambitious, and energetic

At your worst, you are: anxious and high strung

You drink coffee when: anytime you're not sleeping

Your caffeine addiction level: high

What Kind of Coffee Are You?


My Opinion:

I am "straight shooting, ambitious, and energetic" and not "anxious and high strung" so long as I get my regular running fix.

I used to drink coffee "anytime.." and was addicted to caffeine, but now coffee keeps me up at night and I am addicted to running!

Actually the results of The Underwear Oracle were more interesting:

***What Your Underwear Says About You***

When you're bad, you're very bad. And when you're good, you're still trouble!

You are childlike (or childish), and prone to run around in your underwear.


How did they know? ;-)

A 10K Training Run at Marathon Pace

Last night was a comfortable 4C/39F, a little windy, and cloudy. My muscles were kind of stiff so I decided to go for an unscheduled run to loosen up. As the trails are really muddy in the moment, I decided to run a circle through the fields that surround our town. The fields are connected by asphalt or gravel paths, so are excellent when the mud is deep.

When I left the house I really wasn’t sure how far I wanted to run, but I knew I wanted to keep my pace around marathon pace (which is 15-30 seconds slower than my normal 14K/8.7M runs that I do twice during the week). The first 10 minutes or so I was pretty stiff, but then the muscles warmed up and the running felt good. I ended up running around 10K in 59:01, which is really close to my planned 6:00/K marathon pace.

This morning the tightness and soreness in my legs is gone, I’m glad I went for the extra run last night. Today is a rest day, as tomorrow I want to get up at around 6:00 a.m. and run my 32K/20M long run. The weather forecast calls for rain, which usually slows me down some, but the most important goal for tomorrow is time on my feet (3 hours 15 minutes), not necessarily a marathon pace run. I’ll let you know how it goes. Have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Warmer Weather and An Easy 14K Run

Tonight was a pleasant 6C/43F as I went to run at 4:30 p.m. The little bit of snow and ice that we had is gone except for in a few shadowy portions of the forest that I run through. My goal was a nice easy run, somewhere between HM and marathon pace. The muddy trails helped me keep the pace down, as did not having eaten enough today. I finished my 14K/8.7M run with an average pace of 5:39/K (9:06/M), just about the pace I wanted.

It is supposed to be even warmer tomorrow, so I am considering doing an extra run rather than going to the pool. I think if I keep the pace under marathon pace (e.g. 6:00/K) I should still be in good shape for my 32K/20M run on Saturday morning.

Have a nice week folks!

A Night of Swimming

On Monday morning (0600) we had a temperature of -8/18F, yesterday 0C/32F and this morning (Wednesday) 6C/43F – is that crazy or what?

Swim Report

Anyway I headed to the 25-meter pool in the neighboring town of Blankenloch last night after work. I was surprised to see that the pool was relatively empty, so I was able to get in my laps in peace. I swam around 1100 meters breast stroke and then practiced my freestyle form for about 10 minutes.

For those of you who have been following my blog you know that I took a swim course right before Christmas where I learned the proper breast stroke technique and was introduced to the freestyle. I had planned on taking a freestyle course starting this week but the course filled up in the first two hours. I am now looking for another course, but will probably wait until after my marathon in March.

Running Report

Tonight is a 14K/8.7M run on the schedule, easy pace - about 5:45/K (9:15/M). It should be fairly warm outside, but a sea of mud from the melting snow and ice. Sounds like fun ;-)

Saturday is my 32K/20M long run. I want to try to run this as close as possible to my planned marathon pace of 6:00/K (9:39/M). I don’t have a Garmin or know the exact kilometer markings, so this will be a bit of guess work. I have traveled the first 20K of the route with my bicycle and know the location of the 1, 2, 5, 11 and 19K points. I also know the exact location of the last 3K markers (30-32) – so I can get a pretty good idea.

Diet Report

My weight hasn’t moved this week, I have been eating too much. I am currently stuck on 73.5kg., a little more than last Wednesday. Hopefully I’ll be back down to 73kg./161 lbs. by Monday. As I keep saying it is really hard to lose weight while training for a marathon, especially at my age (46).

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Less than 8 weeks till "M-Day"

My legs are kind of creaky and sore this morning, I guess I pushed it pretty good last night during my run. I have been feeling kind of sluggish in my running lately, so my tempo run last night was my way of “reminding” myself that I can run faster.

I have slowed down a few seconds per kilometer during my long runs, but I think this has more to do with winter conditions rather than a decrease in fitness. I also have been training steadily for the past 12 months, with the only real breaks being the week following each of the two marathons that I ran in 2005. That’s 50 weeks of training in the last 52 weeks – for this non-elite runner that’s a lot!

I have noted that my overall enthusiasm has been decreasing as the weeks go by. In two months is my marathon, after that I have promised this old body (and my wife) that I am going to slow down for a month or two.

A lot of bloggers have either just finished or are about to run their marathons. This has motivated me to start taking a closer look at my strategy for March 12.

Last night I was carefully analyzing my first two marathon reports and my training log for these events. During my current training I am running my long runs at about the same pace as for marathon II and about 30 seconds/kilometer faster than during marathon I training. So I am at least maintaining my tempo during this training cycle and that despite the winter weather.

One observation that is noteworthy is that for both marathons I ran the second half significantly slower than the first half, in both cases over 1 ½ minutes slower/mile. This is a good indication that I am starting out too fast and can’t hold the pace. For my second marathon this was definitely the case, I had sub-4 hour marathon in my mind and went out way too fast – and suffered the second half.

Thus my primary goal for the Bienwald Marathon on March 12 will be to try to maintain as even a pace as possible. The marathon route is a flat asphalt route, fairly well protected from windy conditions by the surrounding forest, so should fit well to this strategy. I really am not assigning any specific time limit. If I can maintain a relatively even pace throughout the marathon it should not be too difficult to beat my PR time of 4:34:14. I only have to stay under 6:30/K (10:27/M) :-)

During my long runs my emphasis has been even pace. I have been doing really well at holding my pace at about 6:00/K (9:39/M). I have three more long runs to practice this.

One lesson that I have learned in my last year of training is that you should be really careful about setting your race goals based on what other people achieve. We are all unique and have our strengths and weaknesses. It is better to base your race goals on your own training performance and experience. Perhaps this doesn't apply quite so much for elite runners (or younger runners), but for this middle-of-the-pack runner it seems to be about right.

Monday, January 16, 2006

A Fast Pace 14K Tempo Run

Today was one of the coldest days of the winter for us so far, -8C/18F at 6:00 a.m. It was a beautiful frosty morning, all the trees and grass were white. I couldn’t wait to get home from work today and go running. I was well rested (two days off), well fed, well hydrated and charged up by the time I hit the trail. The temperature was -2C/29F, no wind, still white and frosty outside and the sun was shining. I warmed up with a nice slow first kilometer, then picked up the pace. My goal was a nice quick 14K/8.7M tempo run, about 5:30/K (8:51/M). I quickly fell into pace and cruised right along. The trail was frozen, hard, but very little ice. I was wearing my new ASICS GT2100 for the first time, they felt good on the feet, I was off.

I crossed the 7K halfway point in 37:34, for an average pace of 5:22/K (8:38/M). I debated whether to slow it down a little, but I felt strong and powerful so kept going. I crossed my imaginary 10K marker with a time of 52:54 (an average of 5:17/K or 8:31/M). I could feel my leg muscles straining, but my breathing was good, no aches or pains so I just kept pushing. I made it to the “finish” in front of my house in 1:13:04, for an average of 5:13/K (8:24/M) for the 14K/8.7M.

That was a 5 second/kilometer faster pace than my 15K/9.3M race on January 8th and 5 seconds slower than my best half-marathon race pace! It was also my fastest pace run so far this year (training or race).

My legs are tired at the moment, but it was a most satisfying workout. Tomorrow night I want to go to the swimming pool and do some laps, this will give my legs a chance to recover. On Wednesday I have another 14K/8.7M run on the schedule, but at an easy pace. Saturday is my 32K/20M long run. On Thursday or Sunday I will add some cross-training depending on my work schedule and how my legs are feeling. Happy running!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Furniture Moving, Dancing and other forms of Cross-training

On Friday after work with the temperature hovering around 0C/32F I warmed up and headed out the door for a 14K/8.7M run. I took the first kilometer nice and easy, 6:00/K (9:39/M) pace. I felt good, Thursday was a rest day, my legs felt fine, I had hydrated well the whole day (yep, makes a difference Dianna!) so I stepped on the gas. I brought my pace down to around 5:30/K (8:51/M) for kilometers 2-8, but then hit a bad path of ice along one trail through the forest. Several vehicles had been driving over the forest road for the last day or two and the normally dirt road was sheet ice. I was forced to slow down some, but soon found a small horse trail that paralleled the trail I usually take. It was still reasonable light outside so I darted down this path and made my way out of the woods and back onto my normal running route. By this time the ice had subsided and I picked up the temple the last 5k back home. My average pace for the roughly 14K run was 5:33/K (8:56/M), not bad for this time of year and just a couple seconds under my goal.

Most of Saturday I helped a friend of ours move some furniture. His wife is a physical therapist and is opening her own praxis, we had to go around and pick up various furnishings for the new office. Saturday night our same friends invited us to a local disco where a country-western band was playing. So between carrying furniture and some dancing I got in some cross-training.

Today I wanted to run, but my knees were a little sore from carrying furniture up and down stairs. So with that and the fact that I first got to sleep about 3 a.m. I decided to rest up today. I’m only about 3K behind in mileage for the week, so no harm done. Next weekend is a 32K/20M run on the schedule so the extra day rest isn’t bad anyway.

Unfortunately I gained a pound this week, too much celebrating last night – but we all need to let our hair down and relax once in awhile. Have a great week!

Friday, January 13, 2006

IVV Volksport Marathon vs. a "Real" Marathon

Is running an IVV Volksport marathon the same as running a “real” marathon?

I have been pondering this all week, so I thought I would present it to the RBF for some feedback.

First a little background information:

When I say a "real" marathon I am referring to the typical timed competitive events that most people associate with a marathon.

A volksmarch is a non-competitive walk (10K, 20K, Marathon, 50K), although there are almost always a few people at the events that like to run these. Volksmarching got its name from its origins in Europe. Today there are thousands of volkssport clubs around the world, allied in the International Volksport Federation, the IVV. In the USA there is a daughter organization the AVA (American Volksport Association) and in Canada the CVG (Canadian Volksport Federation).

The AVA states on their website that a volksmarch “Is not a pledge walk, it's not a race, it is a fun activity you do with a club, with your family, with your pet, or all by yourself.” They of course were referring to the 10K event.

I walked (or ran) over 3500 kilometers worth of events back in the 1990’s, it’s a lot of fun and keeps you fit. Lately I have been thinking about using the events as a training aid. In Germany there is almost always a 20K event on the weekend somewhere in my area. The advantage of a volksmarch is that every 5K or so there is a checkpoint with at least water and tea available, and often with food and other drinks (at least in Germany).

There are also over 50 Volksmarching marathons and at least a dozen 50K events offered in Germany every year. I have been seriously considering running one of these. I ran/walked three volksmarch marathons in the mid-1990’s, they are by far more scenic than any “real” marathon that I have run.

I have run two "real" marathons so far, and am training for my third in March. But if you include volksmarch marathons I can add three that I ran/walked in the 1990's and a 50-miler (2 days, 25M/day) from 1986 that I walked to my statistics.

So back to my question, if I run a volksmarch marathon is that the same as running a “real” marathon? In theory the only difference is that there is no official timing of the event or competition to finish first.

I talked to a couple runner's here in Germany and they all said more or less that a volksmarch marathon is not a "real" marathon.

How do you guys feel about this?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

New Running Shoes from Ebay?

For the first time in my life I bought new running shoes from Ebay. Now typically I would not do this as I need to try them out before I buy them. But I found a pair of Asics Gel GT2100 that are absolutely identical to what a purchased a couple months back for about 2/3 of the price. So I took a chance. They showed up at my doorstep yesterday and I can’t wait to break them in. I document how much mileage I put on each pair of running shoes, so I will be able to tell if was really a good deal or not. Stay tuned.

Impromptu Medium Long Run

Yesterday I had a friend of mine ask me if I could help him move some furniture on Saturday. Of course I agreed, what are friends for, but I had to make some quick adjustments to my training schedule. I had a 24K/15M medium-long run on the calendar for early Saturday morning and knew that I wouldn’t have time Saturday afternoon or Sunday, so I decided to do the run last night.

This ended up being a rather “interesting” run. As most of you know I am dieting and training for a marathon, so you can probably imagine that I need to carefully coordinate my diet with my long runs in order to have enough fuel. Well yesterday I hadn’t planned on running so far when I went to work so I only had an apple and banana for lunch. Normally I can’t eat right before I run, it just doesn’t work for me. So when I got home from work I stuffed a sports bar in my jacket pocket and took a big swig of water right before I left, hoping this would get me through at least 2 hours of running.

It was a brisk 0C/32F as I left at 4:30 p.m., with a steady breeze and overcast sky. For the first 8K/5M I took my normal running route, but then turned off and ran a 7K/4M loop around some fields. By this time it was dark and the wind had picked up, cutting through my running pants chilling my legs to the bone. I automatically picked up the pace to try to get back into the woods as quickly as possible.

After about 16K/10M I could feel my energy level starting to drop drastically, so I ate my sports bar. Of course by this time it was too late, as it takes 20-30 minutes for it to take effect. And of course I left my CamelBak at home so I wasn’t drinking the whole time either. And of course I know better than to do this, especially when I wasn’t properly fuelled to begin with. Of course!

Anyway, the longer I ran the slower my pace became and the colder I got. Finally I decided to quit early and took a shortcut back to the house. I ended up running almost 21K/13 miles in 2:01:59, about 3K (~20 minutes) less than I had wanted to. My legs were really tight after the run, I had to spend some extra time stretching. But after some water, warm food, and a soak in the tub I felt good again. I am really looking forward to a training day off today. In the last seven days I have run 79K/49M, the highest 7-day mileage since August.

This morning my legs are a little sore, but no abnormal aches or pains. My weight is slowly going back down to the pre-Christmas level, this morning I was 73 kg/161 lbs. Five more kilograms (11 lbs.) until I reach my goal.

So tomorrow night (Friday) I have a 14K/8.7M run and on Sunday maybe a shorter run and some swimming. Have a nice week!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Easy Swim Night

Swim Report

I had the car yesterday so stopped at the swimming pool on the way home from work. I wanted to work on my freestyle a little bit, but the pool was pretty full. I tried a lap with the freestyle stroke but knocked at least two people in the head, so switched to the breast stroke. I swam about 1200-1300 meters (lost count along the way) and decided to call it a night.

Diet Report

I read somewhere that generally people are more hungry after swimming than after running. This is a result of the body needing more energy to stay warm in cold water or something like that. I tend to agree as I was famished by the time I got home. I wisely drank about a liter of water and ate a green salad right away to try to halt the hunger attack before I cleaned out the refrigerator. A little pasta and some warm broccoli and I was good to go.

It has been a hard week so far with the diet, my appetite has been almost uncontrollable, I have to really fight to keep from eating too much. I’m down a pound so far this week, but it has been a major fight. It is really hard to train for a marathon and try to diet at the same time - you have to really watch out for too many junk calories (e.g. alchohol, fats, sugars, etc.)! Timing is also important - I eat a little more (usually carbs and some protein) the night before a long run because I know I need the energy and will burn it off anyway.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Cross Country (XC) vs. Trail Races

What exactly is the difference between XC and trail running? I have been wondering that lately, so did some surfing during lunch.

According to the Adirondack Sports & Fitness website:

"Cross country races do, of course, follow a trail, but there is a blurry-edged distinction between these and “true” trail races. Cross country events are often more urban in nature, utilizing a town park or recreation area, while trail runs are held in more isolated areas. Trail runs are technical, with lots of rocks, roots and fallen trees to leap over, while cross country courses have a more groomed appearance. Entry forms for trail events read like warnings: If you get injured, there is no ambulance following along to give you first aid. Instead, you’ll have to wait for the stretcher-bearers."

Marathon III Training Status

General Jabbering

For any of you who have heard, Jeff over at Boingoblog (Breakthetape) just qualified for Boston. His race report is awesome, be sure to read it!

The trouble with Bloglines is that it is too easy to add new blogs, which results in it being really hard to find time to read all of them and trying to leave comments. Sorry if I have been neglecting you!

Marathon III Training Status

It is approximately two months until my third marathon on March 12. I just finished a 30K/19M run last Friday and a 73K/45M week of running. I have avoided any injury to date and, despite the colder winter season, have maintained my long run pace. I still have three long runs to complete: 32K/20M, 34K/21M and a 36K/22M.

The major difference between training for Marathon III and my first two marathons is that this time I am only running 3 days a week (plus a couple race days), as compared to 4-5 days. I have replaced the extra days of running with crosstraining, mostly swimming.

Marathon III will be my third marathon in a 10 month time span. My goal is to finish in under four and a half hours, which is about 5 minutes faster than last time. My next 3 long runs should be a good indication as to whether I can achieve this goal.

Marathon IV will probably not be a fast city marathon, but rather one without so much asphalt.

A triathlon is becoming less of a priority, at least in the next year or two, but we’ll see.

I have not given up the idea of eventually running a sub-4 marathon, but I don’t have the time to commit to training for a sub-4 this time around. I am also leaning more towards improving my endurance rather than my speed, as this coincides more with my long range plans.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Bang! Bang! There's hunters in the woods!

Today it was about 1C/34F when I got home from work at 4:05 p.m. I quickly suited up, warmed up and headed out on my 14K/8.7M route. My goal was a comfortable 6:00-6:15/K recovery pace (9:39-10:04/M). It was kind of windy as I started out and the first 5K I ran directly into the wind. This acted as a braking mechanism and I was able to average around 6:10/K for the first 6K or so.

Around the 6K point I made my normal turn into the woods (and out of the wind). I could feel myself picking the pace up slightly, but I felt good so this didn’t bother me too much. After a few minutes I heard gun shots off in the distance…hunters! It was still hunting season! I had my bright orange warning vest on, but the sun had disappeared, so I turned on my blinking armband that I wear. I wished that I had my head lamp about that time - not so much to see, but to be seen!

I picked up the pace and did my best to beat track out of the woods as efficiently as possible. After about 15 minutes, as I was reaching the edge of the woods, I heard more gunshots – but this time they sounded farther away. I guess the hunters were farther off in the other direction. So after leaving the forest I slowed my pace way down as I trotted over the dirt paths along the fields. It was still a bit light out, even though the sun had disappeared for the night. I left my blinking armband on anyway until I got back to town, you never know with hunters.

Even with speeding up through the forest I still managed to keep the average pace almost in the recovery range, 5:52/K (9:26/M). My legs are a little tired and the major leg muscles are tender when I jab them with a finger, may that has something to do with the fact that I just ran a race yesterday and a 30K/19M long run on Friday!

Tomorrow I want to head to the pool and do at least a 1000 meters breast stroke and maybe work on my freestyle if I have any energy left. Wednesday I want to run another 14K run at a slightly faster pace and Saturday morning is a medium long run (24K/15M) on the schedule. If my legs feel good on Thursday night I may run for 45 minutes or do some crosstraining, it will depend on what my wife has planned.

Diet Update

The day before Christmas I was 72 kg/159 lbs. (for about 12 hours). I shot back up to 74 kg/163 lbs. over Christmas and maintained that until yesterday morning. After the race yesterday I ate like a grizzly bear waking up in the spring and was up to 75 kg/165 lbs. this morning.

The good news is that today was the official restart of my diet, my goal is to be back down to 72 kg/159 lbs. by the end of next week. The next step is to bring it down to 70 kg/154 lbs. by the end of the month. My ultimate goal is to bring my weight down to 68 kg/150 lbs. – I don’t know if I can do this when I’m training for a marathon. Anyone who has tried this KNOWS what I’m talking about. In any case it is a good excuse to keep running, right!

Jack on the Run

So here I am, number 398 - all concentration:

All vacations come to an end...sigh...

As I walked to the train station this morning I could feel the stiffness in my legs, the adverse effect of running 73K/45M last week. This definitely broke the 10% increase in mileage/week rule – I only ran 52K/32M the week before. At least I don’t have any aches or pains, just a dull soreness creeping in, which will intensify the longer that I sit at my desk today. Tonight I have a 14K/8.7M recovery run on the schedule, I definitely need to take it slow and easy to give my legs a chance to rebuild.

It was a brisk -4C/25F outside at 6:00 a.m., the trees and grass are frosted white, I would love to do my run now. There is nothing better than running a lonely trail through the forest on a cold, crisp morning. But as soon as I finish my cup of coffee it’s back to work, my coworkers must have missed me they filled my desk and mailbox with dozens of new tasks – thank’s guys it's nice to feel needed.

I found a few pictures of the Rheinzabern 15K race on the Internet last night:

Sunday, January 08, 2006

First Race Report for 2006

So this morning was my first race for 2006, a 15K/9.3M race in Rheinzabern, Rhineland-Pfalz. Being my first 15K run, I did not have to worry about breaking a personal record. As I just ran a 30K/19M long run on Friday, my only goal was to finish.

The race was scheduled to start at 10:05, so we left the house about 2 hours ahead of time so that we would have time to pick up a friend of ours that lived in the next town from the race. Eva used to work with my wife a few years ago and looks forward to visiting with my wife when I am running.

We arrived about an hour before the race, I picked up my race number and joined the girls where they were drinking coffee. I thought a little bit about how I wanted to run. The route consisted of a 10K circular lap around three area towns, plus a half of the same route. This was the same as the 20K run that I did last February at this location, except that then we did two complete laps. So I knew the route pretty well, flat, all asphalt – a fast course. My legs felt pretty good for having just run a 30K long run on Friday, but I decided to run conservatively anyway, maybe a 5:30/K (8:51/M) pace.

So shortly before the start of the race I stretched and ran for a few minutes to warm up, then took my place in the middle of the pack at the Start. I would guess there was around 800-1000 runners. The temperature was a brisk -2C/28F, the sun was shining and there was no wind.

It took a half-minute to get over the Start line when the gun went off, our start number had barcodes, no chips were used. I quickly settled into what I thought was about a 5:30/K pace. I crossed the 1K marker at 6:02, which was just about right considering the delay at the start. We wound our way through the first town and passed the 2K marker just as we left the town limits, my time 11:10 – a little fast. I noticed a threesome running slightly slower than I was so I latched onto them for awhile. By the 3K marker I figured out they were running almost exactly the pace I had planned so I stayed with them, following discretely a couple steps behind them. Another woman caught up and did likewise.

The five of us continued on like this until the 12K marker. We passed from the first town, along a bike trail to the second town, then down the middle of the road back to the Start. Shortly before the Start line was the 10K marker, I believe my time was 53:18, a good pace considering!

So we crossed the Start line and started looping around the same route again. Shortly before the 12K marker we lost the one lady that had been running next to me most of the way. Then one of the three started slowing down. The other two slowed slightly and I decided to keep going, so I set out at my own pace, which was pretty close to what we had been running most of the way.

Just before the 13K marker the trail split and those on their second round took basically what was a shortcut to the finish line. As I saw the finish line a couple hundred meters ahead of me I broke into a sprint and past several dozen runners before I crossed the finish line. I stopped for some water and a banana, then walked around for awhile to cool down. After stretching I headed for the showers in the sports club and rejoined the girls.

So my official time: 1:19:32, an average pace of 5:18/K (8:32/M). I ranked 841 out of 1187 runners. In my age group (M45) I was 145 out of 180. The wining male finished in 46:01 (born 1982 – from the Ukraine), the winning female 53:14 (born 1979 – from Russia). Overall I would say the pace today was much faster than most races I have attended. Almost every sport club and athletic association in the area seemed to be present, there are some talented runners amongst them.

All in all it was a good race, I ran a good pace – slightly faster than my normal HM pace, but not so fast that I wore myself out completely. Hopefully tomorrow I can find some pictures of the race on the Internet (I forgot our camera again).

So this marks the end of my first week of running in 2006. I was scheduled to run 58K/36M, but ended up with 73K/45M. My body isn’t complaining (so far). Have a great week!

Friday, January 06, 2006

First Long Run of the Year

Today was a holiday in our part of Germany (Three King’s Day). In the neighboring state of Rhineland-Pfalz they have to work, strange but true.

In any case I decided to move my 30K/18.6M long run from Saturday morning to this morning. This would give me a day of rest before my 15K/9.3M race on Sunday.

I made the mistake of staying up until 12:30 last night watching a movie, so at 7 a.m. when my alarm when off I was not exactly in top form. I layed for half a second in bed until the idea of postponing the run until later today or tomorrow morning entered my head, but then sprang out of bed – I knew it had to be now or never! I had a small breakfast, suited up, warmed up and headed out the door. It was still a bit dark, the air was cool (1F/34F) and fresh, no wind and no rain (or snow).

My body was kind of reluctant the first 5-10 minutes, but eventually I fell into my groove. I wanted to run just a bit slower than my normal 6:00/K (9:39/M) marathon race pace that I usually train with. I headed out of my village (Stutensee-Friedrichstal) and took the normal super-straight bike path through the forest to Karlsruhe, reaching the 11K turnaround point in 68:02 minutes. By this time it was light outside, so I turned on my MP3 player to keep me company. There wasn’t another soul anywhere in sight, I guess they were all sleeping in.

So after turning around shortly past the 11K point I took an equally straight, but parallel, path back towards my village. I reached my next turning point, around the imaginary 20K marker (about 2.5K from my village) with a time of 2:01:36. Here I took a right and headed towards the neighboring village of Stutensee-Blankenloch.

Shortly before Blankenloch I crossed over a bridge spanning the local railroad line and highway, then ran along the edge of the town for a few minutes. Eventually I reached another bike path, turned left and headed towards Stutensee-Friedrichsal and home. This is a rather nice way as it heads by several fields, eventually passing a couple farms and the Stutensee Palace. I passed by these and continued over the fields towards home. With about 4-5K to go I was wearing out fast, my legs hurt from the 100% asphalt route and my energy was depleted. I guess I should have gone to bed on time last night.

In any case I tried to ignore my discomfort and kept plodding along. I crossed over the last highway and onto the last bike path that led to my house. Today I skipped my traditional 200+ meter sprint to the house, it was enough just to reach the doorstep. I walked around the block for 5 minutes to loosen the legs up a bit and cool down, did some stretching and called it a day. I ran steady for 3:06:29 on 100% asphalt or concrete trails, no breaks! I guess I reached my goal of 30K, in which case I had an average pace of 6:13/K (10:00/M). As I was dragging pretty bad the last 5K this is probably pretty accurate.

So after a warm bath, a hot meal and an hour’s nap I feel pretty good. My legs are tired and sore, but no unusual aches or pains. Tomorrow is a rest day, no training!

On Sunday I have a 15K race – as I said yesterday this will be a “just to finish” race. I love Dawn’s comment – “those are the ones where I set a new PR”. Typically this has proved to be the case. As this will be my FIRST 15K race, technically I will be setting a PR no matter how fast I run ;-)

But for the sake of not tearing anything up, I really am going to try to restrain myself and just run the race as a training run, e.g. 6:00/K pace.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Dieting, Running, and Ramblings

Diet Report

So my two week vacation is slowly drawing to an end, from a the standpoint of my diet this is a good thing. I have at least not gained any new weight since Christmas. However, I gained a couple pounds on Christmas weekend that I haven’t lost yet. I am blaming myself for letting Sweettooth out of his cage on Christmas Eve, he has bee ravaging through every bakery and supermarket in town sucking up anything with high sugar content. But I have him cornered and I know I will have him back in the cage by the end of the weekend. In any case Monday will be my official return to my diet. From there it will be no turning back until I reach my goal of 68kg (150 lbs.).

Running Report

Yesterday afternoon I headed out for an easy 14K/8.7M run. It was a frosty 1C/34F outside with a few occasional snow flakes floating around. My goal was an easy pace, somewhere around 6:00/K (9:39/M). I have a 30K long run Friday morning, so I didn’t want to work the legs too hard. The muddy trails along my route were slightly frozen, which made running a lot easier. Along the way I passed a couple joggers about my age, I guess they were on vacation this week also. It was a nice quiet run, I particularly enjoyed the 6-7K stretch through the forest, it was so calm and quiet. I made it back before dark, feeling refreshed – my average pace being 5:49/K (9:21/M).

Other Ponderings

A couple people questioned my sanity in reference to running a 10K race two weeks after my marathon in March. Just to ease your minds, I would like to say that I am indeed insane, or at least the idea to run a 10K so soon after the marathon is insane. But Thomas hit the nail on the head when he said “…it depends on how fast you want to run it…”. This will be a “just to finish” run.

The 10K Stutensee City Run is being offered for the first time in the neighboring village of Blankenloch. As the event is only a 10 minute drive from my house I want to be sure to attend in the hopes of meeting more local runners.

Names of Towns in Germany

Stutensee, by the way, is the Township where I reside. The township is made up of five villages: Friedrichstal where I live, Blankenloch where I sometimes swim, Buechig, Spoeck (along my running route), and Stafford. In Germany you generally write the town and village when referring to an area, e.g. Stutensee-Friedrichstal. In a lot of cases you also have to list the State as well, e.g. Baden Wurttemberg, as there are towns with the same name in different States throughout Germany. For example, there are at least three towns called “Weingarten”. The Weingarten 11K from us, where our garden club is located, is Weingarten-Baden. There is also a Weingarten-Pflaz (in Rhineland-Pfalz) and one located in eastern Germany somewhere.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

List of Tentative Races for 2006

Yesterday afternoon I went to the smaller swimming pool (25 meters long) in the neighboring town of Stutensee-Blankenloch and swam for 45 minutes (1000+ meters). The pool was busy, the kids have school vacation this week, so I was playing dodge the swimmer/kid/parent. I guess I am super relaxed from being on vacation as this didn’t seem to bother me, I just thought of it as good training for triathlon swimming :-)

Today I want to go on a 14K/8.7M run, easy pace. Friday is a holiday in Germany so I want to move my 30K/19M long run from Saturday to Friday morning. My wife wants to visit her friend in the Rhineland-Pfalz on Sunday so I conveniently found a 15K race in a nearby town where they can meet and gab while I run.

I spent some time identifying some races that I would like to do in 2006. I will probably need to adjust this from time to time depending on outside influences.

My tentative races for 2006 (all in Germany):

January 8: 15K, Winter Run Series, Rheinzabern, Rhineland-Pfalz
January 29: 10K, Kraichtal-Oberacker Trail (Cross) Race, Baden-Wurttemberg

February 25: 7K, Donnersberg Mountain Run (418 meter/1371 feet elevation difference), Muenchweiler-Donnersberg, Rhineland-Pfalz

March 12: Bienwald Marathon, Kandel, Rhineland-Pfalz

April 2: 10K, Stutensee City Run, Stutensee-Blankenloch, Baden-Wurttemberg
April 15: HM, Rheinzaberner Easter Half-Marathon, Rheinzabern, Rhineland-Pfalz

May 6: 8.88889-K, Baden Mile, Karlsruhe, Baden-Wurttemberg
May 20: 9.5K, Hundseck Mountain Run (805 meter/2641 feet elevation difference), Buehlertal, Baden-Wurttemberg

June 5: HM, South Pfalz Half-Marathon, Rulzheim, Rhineland-Pfalz
June 18: 10K, Philippsburger Fortress Run, Philippsburg, Baden-Wurttemberg

July 8: 10K, Asparagus Run, Graben, Baden-Wurttemberg
July 14: 10K, Ettlinger Old Town Run, Ettlingen, Baden-Wurttemberg
July 22: HM, Buhlertal Half-Marathon, Buhlertal, Baden-Wurttemberg

August 5: 25K Bellheim Summer Night’s Run, Bellheim, Rhineland-Pflaz
August 27: HM, Hambrucken Street Festival Half-Marathon, Baden-Wurttemberg

September 9: 8.4K, Laufbach Mountain Run (720 meter/2362 feet elevation difference), Obersasbach, Baden-Wurttemberg

October 8: Black Forest Marathon, Braunlingen, Baden-Wurttemberg
October 21: 10K, Oberwald Forest Run, Karlsruhe-Ruppurr, Baden-Wurttemberg

November 12: 10K, Karlsbader Folks Run, Karlsbad, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany
November 25: 8.4K, Malscher Trail (Cross) Run, Rheinstetten-Malsch, Baden-Wurttemberg

December 17: 10K, Winter Run Series, , Rheinzabern, Rhineland-Pfalz, Germany
December 31: 10K, Forchheim New Years Eve Run, Rheinstetten-Forchheim, Baden-Wurttemberg.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Goals/Plans for 2006

I was talking with my wife this morning about a few things we need to accomplish this year, as well as our own personal goals and a few changes that may need to take place to achieve these.

My wife is taking English courses which eventually allow her to take a certification test that will greatly increase her marketability on the job market. This is important for her (and us) as her contract at work ends at the end of this year. So for her this will mean evening classes for the next 11-12 months. This will also mean that Jack needs to take up the slack with the household chores. I also anticipate my own job being much more hectic this year as I have been assigned some new duties due to restructuring.

In the context of my fitness goals this means I have to be more flexible. I was hoping to get into a freestyle swim course this month, but so far this is uncertain. In any case I have decided it is not the right year to try a triathlon or to compete in our area 80K ultramarathon (July).

I have identified a few definite goals (or plans) and several tentative ones:

Running Goals/Plans

- I want that half of my shorter races (e.g. 5-10K) are mountain or trail races – today I signed up for the first one: the 10K Kraichtal-Oberacker Cross (trail) Race on January 29th!
- I want to set a new PR at the March 12 Bienwald Marathon.
- I want to run up to five half-marathons.

Tentative Goals

- I want to run the Black Forest Marathon in October (this is a non-city marathon).
- I want to break the 48 minute barrier with a 10K race.

Swimming Goals

- I want to become proficient enough with freestyle swimming so that I can complete a triathlon in 2007.

Diet Goals

- I want to reach my "ideal weight" of 68-70kg/150-155lbs (present weight 74kg).

If I had to pick one word to describe my journey for 2006 it would be MAINTAIN. Maintain my conditioning, maintain my weight, maintain the FUN factor with my running, and maybe maintain my sanity in a troubled world.

When it comes down to it my most important goal for this year is to maintain the fun factor in training, running, swimming, whatever! No over-training, over-eating, etc.

Pictures of New Year's Eve Race

I found these pictures of the Forchheim New Year's Eve 10K Race that I ran on December 31 (2005). I love to look at race pictures so I figure a couple of you might be interested too:-) Typically this is a "normal" race over asphalt-covered roads and bike paths, mixed a few dirt paths along the fields and through the forest. On this day it was snow, mush, mud, puddles, ice and pure pleasure! Although it was not classified as a cross-country race, a lot of people thought otherwise. I'll let you know the difference when I try my first cross-country race this year ;-)

Monday, January 02, 2006

A Muddy Recovery Run

This morning I went walking through the shops and shopping areas of Karlsruhe (the city near us) with my wife. All the post-Christmas sales are happening and my wife sure doesn’t want to miss that ;-) At least I got in a couple kilometers walking. We decided to have lunch at a new Chinese restaurant that offers a good lunch buffet – it was fabulous!

At 3:30 p.m. I decided it was time to go work off some calories so I suited up and headed out for a 14K/8.7M run. The weather was a pleasant 6C/43F, no wind and cloudy. The trails were still muddy but most of the puddles have disappeared. I decided I should keep the pace down today, I need to get my legs in shape for my 30K/19M long run on Saturday. The muddy ways helped in keeping the pace slow, my average pace for the run was 5:45/K (9:16/M).

My legs were pretty stiff the first couple kilometers (a result of the race last weekend), but as I warmed up the stiffness left and the run felt great. I passed a group of 5 walkers, it seemed like it was their first time as they were discussing their pace quite intensely. I wish them luck!

Tomorrow I want to go to the pool and do some laps. I also want to ask them if a second freestyle course is going to be offered in the next month or two.

So Happy New Year to anyone that is just joining me this year!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

2005 Recap, First 2006 Run, Goals etc.

I closed off my Running Log for 2005 and started a new one for 2006 this afternoon. Here is a recap of my 2005 running activities:

2005 Recap:

Mileage: 2605 kilometers (1618 miles)
Highest Mileage Month: August - 301 kilometers (187 miles)
Average Month: 217 kilometers (135 miles)
Highest Mileage Week: 77 kilometers (48 miles)
Average Week: 50 kilometers (31 miles)
Races run: 16, 1-8.9Ks, 6-10Ks, 1-20K, 5-HM, 1-25K, 2-M
Race PRs set: 8.9K, 10K (twice), HM (twice), M

First run for 2006

After a couple hours at the computer today catching up on some bookkeeping and other end-of-the-year activities I was pretty stiff so I decided to go out for a short run. It was a pleasant 7C/45F, a light rain was falling and the wind was still. Most of the snow was gone due to the rain we had yesterday, but the trails were thick with mud and mush, particularily in the forest where there was still some snow on the trails. I decided to run around the fields, about 7K (4.3M). My legs were really sore and stiff from my race yesterday. How stiff? With my first few steps down the street I almost fell on my face, my legs just wouldn’t do what my brain was telling them to. So I started out with a nice slow jog, gradually increasing it to about a 6:00/K (9:39/M) pace. By the time I returned home 43 minutes later I had worked the stiffness out of my legs and most of the soreness had disappeared as well. Tomorrow afternoon I want to go for a 14K/8.7M recovery run. Anyway a great start for the new year.

Goals for 2006

I have been trying to pinpoint specific fitness and training goals for 2006, but there are a lot of issues concerning my work and my wife’s schedule that need to be worked out first so I am going slow with the goals.

I do have a few goals that I want to accomplish over the next few months:

- Finally get my weight down to 68 kg/150 lbs. This morning’s weight 74 kg/163 lbs.
- Finish my marathon on March 12 in under 4 ½ hours.
- Complete a cross-country race (probably Jan. 29).
- Participate in the first annual Stutensee 10K Town Run on April 2nd (in the next village from where we live).

The rest of the year I have to leave open in the moment. But rest assured the year will be filled with at least several half-marathons and 10K races - a rolling stone gathers no dust!

So what are your goals for 2006?

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