Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A 14K Taper Tempo Run

Last night was a pleasant 5C/41F, bright, sunny, and still as I made my way around the 14K/8.7M loop. My goal was a 5:30/K (8:51/M) pace, which is about 30 seconds faster than my planned marathon pace, but not too fast. In other words it was intensive enough without breaking the muscles down, whereas I need a longer recovery time. At the end of the run I was left with the feeling that I could run quite a bit longer at this pace – so I consider this appropriate training for a taper week.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Tweaking the UM Training Plan or "Tapering Therapy"

I spent some time tweaking my 50K training plan which will kick off at the end of March. I decided to drop the 9.5K Hundseck Mountain Run which was scheduled 5 days before the 50K event. Trail Runner Johnny confirmed what my intuition has been telling me - that even though this is a shorter race (9.5K), the 805 meters (2641 feet) of elevation gain could significantly drain my energy for the big race. As my training time is already somewhat limited I decided it is better to whimp out and save my strength for the 50K.

So 12 Days, 22 Hours, 53 Minutes and 44 Seconds until my marathon starts. This was the greeting that I received when I checked the webpage for the Bienwald Marathon this morning. I make it a practice to check the webpage a couple times before race day to make sure nothing has changed.

My marathon strategy is still holding rock steady. My strategy may bore you, but the plan is to run a consistent 6:00/K (9:39/M) pace for 40K, then beat feet to the finish line with whatever I have left. Or in other words, four 1-hour 10K runs and a 2.2K sprint!

For comparision: I ran the first half of my last marathon in 1:53:57 and the second half in 2:40:17. My goal is to narrow the gap, hopefully in a positive direction.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

A 20K Run and a Russian Birthday Party

This morning I had 24K/15M on the schedule, but as I stepped outside in the near freezing temperatures and brisk wind I had my doubts that I really wanted to do this with my lingering cold. After a the first few kilometers I could tell that this was not going to be a high power run, I felt weak and sore. I settled into about marathon pace and ran over part of my normal 14K loop, then on to the neighboring town’s running trails (Graben).

After about 1 ½ hours I decided that I had enough so turned around and headed home. I ran around two hours, roughly 20K/12M at an average pace of about 6:00/K (9:39/M) – which is my planned marathon pace. I doubt the extra half-hour of running that I missed really will make too much difference at this point and probably limiting the miles will help me get rid of my cold faster.

This afternoon we were invited to our neighbors wife's 70th birthday party. Our neighbors are Russian-German, or in other words they were allowed to return to Germany after the Wall came down in 1989. We were one of the few friends that were invited to the party, typically this is a family affair and it is considered an honor for an “outsider” to be invited.

The party was held at the church parish house four buildings down from our house. There were about 70 people present, the most family. There were huge piles of food – meats, potatoes, salads, cakes, sweets and of course Vodka (our whatever you wanted to drink) to wash everything down.

Needless to say we ate well today. Of course I made sure that I filled my plate a couple times, don’t want to offend the host ;-) There was lots of toasting going on, it seemed like the head of each family part have a little speech (sometimes in German, sometimes in Russian) and we all toasted the birthday girl! It was quite a friendly group, we felt quite welcome.

After 4 hours or so we decided to head home, it was pretty much just the closer family left so we took the cue. We avoided the Vodka, which was flowing like water, but I did have a glass of excellent German wine - my wife doesn't drink alcohol.

I feel like I ate a side of beef all by myself, I am contemplating going for a walk. Tomorrow I think a green salad will do. Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Good 14K Tempo Run

I was pretty worn out by the time I got home from work today. I am restructuring a large part of my company Intranet and it has proved to be an intensive project. Coupled with fighting a cold this has been sapping my energy.

Anyway when I got home I suited up, warmed up and headed out the door for a 14K/8.7M loop. The first couple kilometers were sluggish, but then my congestion started loosing up and my breathing improved and I fell into a good comfortable pace. Unlike the 11C/52F weather we had on Tuesday, tonight was 3C/37F and it was snowing lightly. I was dressed warmer than normal so I was comfortable. I started getting a little tired the last 15-20 minutes out, but I wanted to keep the intensity going, so I pushed. My muscles responded, my breathing cooperated, I chugged on finishing with an average pace of 5:30/K (8:51/M) – just what I was looking for! The best part is that I left the worn-out, tired feeling somewhere out on the trail, I feel so much better now.

Speaking of trails, I got a new book this week: “Runner’s World Complete Guide to Trail Running”, by Dagny Scott Barrios. I’ve already read the first couple chapters, a good book filled with lots of common sense tips and suggestions. Some of it is a refresher from my hiking days back when I was a teenager (it was a looong time ago), other parts like the chapters on racing look quite interesting. In any case this is something to keep me occupied if the taper monster shows up at the door at midnight ;-)

Overall I would say my cold is getting better quickly, but I know this can change fast so I am being cautious. I have a 24K/15M run on the schedule for Saturday morning, but I may reduce this some if I feel the need.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Tentative 50K Training Plan

I have infected my wife with my cold (or so she claims) and as she has been hit harder than I, am now practicing avoidance so that she doesn't reinfect me - I'm a great guy huh!

Anyway I tweeked my tentative training schedule for the May 25th 50K Event:

A "Hill Run" indicates that the route has a number of challenging hills and is mostly over woodland paths or gravel trails.

Any comments or suggestions are welcome!

Feeling better...

Last night I laid down on the couch at 8 p.m. to watch the news and the rest of the night was history. Around 9 p.m. I woke up, woke my wife up who was also asleep on the couch, and we went to bed. I slept so soundly that I barely heard the alarm go off this morning (4:45).

This morning I still have lingering signs of a cold, but my lungs are less congested and I feel better. I still have 2 ½ weeks until the marathon, so I am hoping I can whip this before then. The next couple days will be critical.

I am a firm believer that physical exercise speeds the healing process when you have a cold. For me the trick seems to be that I sleep much more soundly because running helps clear out the breathing passages – at least through most of the night.

You of course you have to use discretion, e.g. when you have a deep chest cold or fever you shouldn’t be running outside. It is also important that you get a lot MORE sleep than normal and really concentrate on your diet. Oh, and drink, drink, drink! I also start taking vitamin C supplements when the sniffles start.

Seems to work for me anyway, at least when I react when I first feel the cold coming on.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Cleaning out the Carbon

My uncle always used to take out his old Lincoln Towncar about once a month and barrow down the N.Y. Thruway at speeds that would make your knees weak! He would always say, "Yep, gotta clean all that carbon out of the exhaust!"

So as I headed out the door to run my 14K/8.7M loop, I decided to burn out some carbon, or rather burn out the congestion that I’ve been hit with the last day or two. I didn't have any fever, wasn't coughing much, so decided that I wasn't in too bad of shape.

I cranked out the first kilometer, at a 5:30/K (8:51/M) pace. The second kilometer, ditto. The third kilometer about 5:00/K (8:03/M), whoa where’s the fire! By then I was heading over a muddy path separating some fields, then on to a dirt path following the edge of a forest – I stopped looking at my watch and started watching the trail so I don’t twist and ankle or fall over a tree root.

I made my way along the edge of the forest, eventually turning and coming back through the forest on the other side. Shortly before exiting the forest I passed the 10K point, 51:34!

I was getting a little winded, but then I felt the first raindrops splattering on my face, so kept going, finishing with an average pace of 5:10/K (8:19/M) for the 14K/8.7M run! It definitely cleared the sinuses out :-)

So I'm feeling pretty good as I write, but we'll see how I feel in the morning. I’ve already decided to move tomorrow night’s run to Thursday to give my legs a chance to recover. Tonight I want to get to bed early – sleep is the ultimate healer.

So Thursday, same route, but at a slower pace. On Saturday I want to run 2 – 2 ½ hours at marathon pace, but only if I manage to keep this cold on the run ;-)

Oh, Saturday it’s supposed to snow again, can you believe this?

Running Jack vs. The Common Cold

Well the first week of tapering is a nasty one, a chest cold in all it’s furry. No fever, just a dry, scratchy throat and developing cough. I ran on Sunday, so decided to take last night off. This evening I want to go out for a test run and find out how bad my cold really is. My wife thinks I’m nuts, but I know my body – either the run will start clearing the cold or it will bring it on harder – whereas I can get rid of it sooner.

On the positive side my energy level is high, my legs are pretty well recovered from last week’s high mileage week, and my diet is in check. I have a lot of work at work, a 50K to plan for and lots of odd jobs to do around the house – so hopefully I can get through taper madness without being a casualty.

My marathon strategy has remained unchanged since my original goals at the beginning of my training: Run four 60-minute 10K runs, then run 2,2K as fast as I can. If all else fails, finish! Oh, and don’t forget to smile crossing the finish ;-)

Thank you everyone for your kind words and support. Don't forget to send some positive vibes my way on race day. A marathon is still a long run in the park!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Let the taper begin!

This afternoon I felt fresh and fit despite running 35K/22M on Saturday morning. With my wife busy doing her homework for her night class I decided to go out for an easy run. It was a warm 11C/52F outside, cloudy but with no wind – perfect for running a round. I headed out with no real distance in mind, but with trying to stay at an easy pace. Well 5K lead to 10, and before I knew it I was almost done with my 14K route. The weather was nice, I was lost in my MP3 tunes, overall an enjoyable run.

I ended up running my 14K/8.7M round with an average pace of 5:38/K (9:04/M) – much too fast for a recovery run, I will probably feel it tomorrow.

Anyway I ran 91K (56.5M) this week, another record week. This is still a long way from what some elite runners put in, but a lot for me!

So now it’s taper time, I have a marathon to run in 3 weeks.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

A 35K Long Run in the Rain

This morning I headed out at 6:45 a.m. for my last long run before my marathon on March 12th. It was raining gently, but the temperature was a comfortable 5C/41F, the wind was calm and the air fresh.

I headed over my normal asphalt route, over the bike paths to Karlsruhe. I reached my first turnaround point at around 11K/7M in 1:03:46, an average pace of 5:48/K (9:20/M), a little faster than planned.

By the 15-16K point my legs were getting really tight, they were taking a pounding on the asphalt. I reached my next turnaround point at around the 20K/12M point still averaging around the same pace. Here I decided that I had enough of the asphalt, so instead of taking my normal right and heading to the neighboring town of Blankenloch, I went straight towards the Graben Running Club trails and my normal weekday running route.

After another 2K I finally left the asphalt behind me. I wound my way along the gravel and forest trails of the running clubs trails, passed over the bridge spanning the railroad tracks that separate these trails from my own running route. I turned on to weekday training route and began running it in the reverse direction, at this point I had almost 9K to go. My pace slowed, my legs hurt, my step shortened, but I pushed on. Finally, after running almost 3 hours took a quick walk break and munched on a sports bar.

After a minute or two I tried to pick up the pace again, it was hard – I turned on my MP3 player – a little Toby Keith and Brooks & Dunn for motivation. After 10 minutes or so I took another short break and tried to stretch a little, too late, I ran again, about 25 minutes to go.

I noticed that I was gritting my teeth against the pain, so tried to loosen up. I thought about what I had read earlier this week in Thomas S. Miller’s book “Programmed to Run” – the energy that you use tightening up your face and upper body takes it away from the legs. I relaxed my face and upper body and tried to concentrate on my running form.

The kilometers clicked by maddeningly slow, 4K to go, then 3, a 30-second walk, then onward. I was on asphalt again, winding my way along the edge of the neighboring town of Spoek, less than 3K to go. I was running at about 6:30/K (10:28M) these last kilometers - I knew that I couldn’t stop. I pushed on, 2K to go, I could see the church steeple across the street from my house. Finally I crawled up the bridge crossing over the highway, one more kilometer.

I managed to pick my pace up just a bit the last kilometer, about 6:10/K (9:55). Finally, I reached the church and circled around towards my house and the “finish line”. My legs felt like lead – I walked around the block surrounding the church for 5 minutes trying to walk out the stiffness and pain.

With the exception of 3-4 minutes of walkig I had run for 3:38:50, or probably around 35K/22M. If this distance is correct this would be an average pace of 6:15/K (10:04/M), a little slower than normal, but considering that it rained almost the entire time, acceptable.

So my total for the week is 77K/48M, but I may go out for a shorter recovery run tomorrow afternoon, which will bring me over 50 miles for the week.

So three weeks from tomorrow is my marathon, I will start reducing mileage somewhat this coming week, and more the two weeks following. Next Saturday I want to run about 2-2½ hours – a medium long run – but all on forest trails. This time I have decided not to do any races until marathon day - with my last two marathons I ran a 10K or HM race two weeks before the marathon. This time my legs need some rest, I felt this today.

Friday, February 17, 2006

From Marathon to Ultra...

I as reading the new German Runner’s World magazine this morning on the train. They had an article that translates to the effect of “From Marathon to Ultra”, or making the next big step in the running ladder.

Here is a list of some of their training tips:

• Weekly training should consist of two long runs, one 2-2 ½ hours, the other 2 ½ -5 hours. However, contrary to what I have generally heard they stated that they should NOT be back to back, but rather one in the middle of the week and one on the weekend.
• The longest long run should be half of the Ultra-distance.
• They recommended using marathons as a training aid – but at a slower, non-competitive pace that will allow fast recovery.
• They recommended at least 4 months training for, e.g. a 100K (60M) Ultra.
• There should be at least one tapering week before the event with no long runs.
• On race day you should never run so fast that you are out of breath.
• On race day take the time to eat and drink, it gets increasingly critical as the Ultra distance increases.

Their suggested training plan (for a 100K):

Monday: 60-90 minutes easy run
Tuesday: 45-60 minutes recovery run
Wednesday: 2-2 ½ hour long run
Thursday: 60 minutes easy run
Friday: REST
Saturday: 2 ½ - 5 hours long run
Sunday: 40 minutes recovery run

I am hoping that I can get by with 4 days training for my 50K. Although I have always heard that back to back long runs (e.g. Saturday and Sunday) more closely simulate the race event, midweek/weekend split would better fit my lifestyle (and would be more agreeable to my wife).

What do you guys think?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Nice Day for a Walk

When I got home from work today my legs were kind of stiff, so I decided to go for a walk. I have been wondering what my fast walk speed is, so I walked the first kilometer of my running route and back. My average speed for the 2K was 9:17/K (14:57/M).

Back in the 1990’s when I was doing IVV Wanderings (marches) I could walk a 20K (12+ miles) in about 2:50:00, or an average pace of 8:30/K (13:41/M). I think if I power-walked regularly I could probably get back to this speed.

I walked a IVV (International Wandering Club) marathon in 1995 in just under 6 hours. I should note that I jogged some of the down hill sections though.

The main reason that I am curious about my walking speed is that I anticipate having to walk some of the uphill sections of the 50K in May. I am thinking I should train my long runs with this in mind.

A 14K Asphalt Run

Last night was warm (8C/46F), but windy and rainy. I had 14K/8.7 on the schedule at an easy pace. I decided to stay out of the mud and run a couple towns away to Untergrombach. This town is at the base of a nice forest-covered hilly training area that I am considering for my Ultra training. Last week I tried to find a short-cut over the fields to this town, but pretty much eliminated any possibility. Last night I stuck to the asphalt paths that parallel the highways to the town.

I ran for about 45 minutes and just barely reached the edge of the town. I knew from running through the town a few years ago that it would be another 15 minutes from this point before I actually got the first hill and the forest. So I turned around and head back the way I came, finishing my run in about 1:25:00, for roughly 14K.

In any case I have pretty much ruled out running from my house to this hilly area and then doing a hill workout, as this would be limited to just the longer runs and would mean 1 ½ - 2 hours of running on asphalt. I will probably end up taking my bicycle, motor scooter, or car to the base of the hilly region and then doing my training runs. Once I am in the forest I can run for hours and never see asphalt (yeah!).

My ankle was a little stiff as I started my run last night, but after the first 5 minutes or so it loosened up and felt just fine. I think the pain and stiffness that I experienced was a result of the rapid increase in mileage that I have made over the last 3-4 weeks. I hope this will go away once I start tapering next week.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

An Easy 14K Run

Last night was a pleasant 7C/45F as I headed out for a 14K/8.7M easy-pace run. The field and forest portions of my route were extremely muddy, but it was still better then running on the icy trails that we had the past several weeks. My average pace was 5:51/K (9:25/M), a little faster than I wanted, probably a result of the warm weather.

On Monday night I ran the same route at a faster tempo. As I started out my run last night I had a little bit of pain and stiffness in my right ankle. This is the second week that I have experienced this, I am thinking that I must have twisted my ankle somewhat during one of my icy runs. Once I get warmed up after 5 minutes or so the pain and stiffness goes away. This morning my ankle feels fine, so I am wondering how much I need to be worrying about this.

I guess I will really find out when I run my last long run on Saturday. Speaking of which, the weather is calling for sunny and warm temperatures (up to 12C/54F) on Saturday, although not at 6 a.m. when I start my run. I want to try to run 3½ hours at marathon pace.

Tonight I want to run another 14K run, tempo to be decided once I get out there. I think I will take two rest days before my long run on Saturday morning - this simulates race week.

Thank you for the comments about my Ultra training plans. Thomas reminded me that most Ultra training plans call for back-to-back long runs on Saturday and Sunday. I was already thinking about this, but as my run on May 25th is only 50K (remind me I said that on May 26th), I may stick to the one long run. For a longer ultra I will probably need to double up.

I have always heard that “Anyone who can run a marathon, can run a 50K, it’s only 8K/5M longer!” Before I ran a marathon I had no comment. After I ran my first marathon I said “no way!” After my second marathon I started to picture this. Now I am convinced that I can - somebody ask me what I think about this after my marathon on March 12th :-)

I have been trying to upload this profile of the 50K Fun Run on May 25th for a couple days now, but Blogger has been freaking out. The "V" points are control points with refreshments and first aid. The "T" are tea points (e.g. drinks only). The distances on the bottom are in kilometers. The elevation marking on the left in meters.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

How I am going to train for my 50K

During my run last night I was thinking about how I should train for my 50K Fun Run on May 25th.

I came up with a list of things I have going for me:

- I seriously believe I can finish the 50K race right now!
- I have a good training base (I'm marathon ready).
- The race has no time limit, I can take it easy.
- My goal is to finish and to have fun.
- The race route has only 100 meters of asphalt!

I put together a quick training plan on the way to work this morning. This is very similar to my present marathon training plan. Rather than running a long run every two weeks, I am going to try to complete a long run every weekend. The long run route that I am looking at has a lot of hills, is mostly through the forest, and should be fairly similar to race conditions.

The race has some major elevation gain, e.g. it goes up and down hills for the entire distance. I expect that I will end up walking up some of the hills, therefore I will train during my long runs with that in mind.

Anyway here is my tentative plan:

Week 11 – the week following my March 12th marathon - rest – no running – some XT
Week 10 – 3 x 14K (8.7M) easy pace
Week 9 – 1 x 14K=Tempo, 1 x 14K=Easy, 1 x 22K/14M=Long & Hilly
Week 8 – 1 x 14K=Tempo, 2 x 14K=Easy, 1 x 24K/15M=Long & Hilly
Week 7 – 1 x 14K=Tempo, 2 x 14K=Easy, 1 x 26K/16M=Long & Hilly
Week 6 – 1 x 14K=Tempo, 2 x 14K=Easy, 1 x 28K/17M=Long & Hilly
Week 5 – 1 x 14K=Tempo, 2 x 14K=Easy, 1 x 30K/18.5M=Long & Hilly
Week 4 – 1 x 14K=Tempo, 2 x 14K=Easy, 1 x 32K/20M=Long & Hilly
Week 3 – 1 x 14K=Tempo, 2 x 14K=Easy, 1 x 34K/21M=Long & Hilly
Week 2 – 1 x 14K=Tempo, 1 x 14K=Easy, 1 x 24K/15M=Long & Hilly
Week 1 – 2 x 9K=Easy, 50K-RACE

I will probably have an additional cross-training (XT) day where I swim or cycle (or both). I may elect to replace one 14K-Easy with some speed work or some weight training. I’m really going to have to wait and see.

I welcome any advice from anyone who has trained for a 50K or otherwise has an opinion.

Monday, February 13, 2006

A Good Temp Run and Some Ultra-thoughts

When I got home from work today it was a pleasant 5C, sunny and nice. I quickly suited up, warmed up and was out the door. I ran my 14K/8.7M route, my goal a 5:30/K (8:51/M9 tempo. Once I left the 2.5K of asphalt behind me the trails were muddy, particularly the paths between the fields. But I felt good and kept up my speed, returning home while it was still light out! I averaged 5:20/K (8:36/M), almost my half-marathon pace. It is supposed to stay warm for a couple more days, I look forward to the next run!

Diet Update

I haven’t talked much about my diet lately because my diet has consisted of bear-sized quantities of food that I have been consuming to keep my energy up during my hardest weeks of training. That said I am still hovering at around 73kg (161 lbs.) plus or minus a couple pounds depending on whether it’s a running day or not. My normal diet will resume after March 12 (M-day).

50K Ultra Update

As I said earlier I signed up for the Westerwald 50K Fun Run which takes place on May 25th. I received a confirmation e-mail this afternoon welcoming me aboard. They also mentioned that the event is not officially timed, which kind of surprised me. There are however, 5-7 control points along the way. Participants carry a card of sorts pinned to their outfit and receive some kind of stamp at each of the stations. This is very much like the IVV Wandering that take place in Germany and other countries. Finishers (who have all the stamps) receive a certificate, medal and a T-shirt.

As this will be my first 50K run, that’s enough for me. Any experienced Ultra-achievers have an opinion on this?

I should add that although this is coined as a “Fun Run” it is a bear! I took a look at the profile for the course today, it has some serious elevation changes, we’re talking some pretty good climbs.

Okay, I admit that I live in the flatlands so any hill looks big :-) That just means I have to train harder than the highlanders.

Running with Ultra Jack?

Okay, I did it, I committed myself. Jack is going to try his first Ultramarathon. Yesterday I signed up for my first 50K Ultra, the 8th International 50K Westerwald Run in Rengsdorf, Germany (near Koblenz). On Thursday, May 25th, 2006 (Ascension Day), 8 a.m. I will try to drag this old body into the next level of pain, I mean running!

According to the organizers the route is a “Very diversified route through forests, fields and villages, very demanding!” They also state that it is a “fun run” and is not a competition, e.g. it is timed but there is no time limit.

Let’s see, after my marathon in March I will have about 11 weeks to train - okay now how do I train for this?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

An Active Weekend

Yesterday morning I got up a little later than normal, 6:30 a.m., for my run. It was a busy week so the extra sleep was welcome. In any case, my wife was still sleeping, so I crept quietly out the door about 7:00 a.m. It was just starting to get light out, it was right around freezing (0C/32F), we had rain the night before and the roads had a thin sheet of ice. On the schedule was 24K/15M, I decided to run my asphalt long run route and see what happens.

The streets through town was treacherous, the town is always slow about salting the side streets. Once I got into the forest after the first 2K, it gradually got better – I guess it was slightly warmer in the woods and it didn’t freeze so bad. There were still a lot of ice patches so I kept my pace down and paid particular attention to what I was doing – no mind drifting during that run.

The run was pretty uneventful, on the way back I debated whether to run farther or head home. I hit a bad patch of ice about a half hour from home and I decided not to push my luck, I headed home. I ran 2:28:05, about 25K/15.5M – at marathon pace.

Today (Sunday) I decided to go to the swimming pool and do some laps. I went to the larger pool (50 meter) in Karlsruhe, the smaller pool in the neighboring village of Blankenloch is too full on Sunday’s. In any case I swam 1100 meters breast stroke and practiced my freestyle for a few minutes. It was getting towards lunch time so I called it a day and went home.

So one more big week of running including a 32K/20M-plus long run (I have 36K on my schedule). Then it’s taper time!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Ultra-long, Ultra-hard, and Ultra-beautiful

Yesterday afternoon we had a freak icy snow storm which lasted only about 20 minutes but left the streets and sidewalks treacherous and hard to walk on, let alone run. Of course this led to my wife worrying about my sanity as I headed out the door at 4:30 p.m.. But hey, the sun was shining and it was a warm 2C/36F outside :-)

Anyway I figured out right away that I had absolutely no chance with the first 2-3 kilometers that were over icy asphalt paths, so went to Emergency Plan B which was to head across the lawn of the church across the street, through a neighboring park, then on to some dirt trails through the fields that surround our town. These trails were much better so I decided to head East towards some distant hills. Normally it is 8K/5M to the base of the hilly terrain, but I was hoping to find a shortcut.

So I start heading over assorted dirt trails trying to find a shorter way to this ultimate training opportunity (e.g. hills). Several of these “farm tractor” trails ended in a field, in which case I continued on across getting in some good cross-country training. Finally after about 40 minutes I gave up and decided there is no short cut and headed home. Total running time 1:01:24, probably about 10K.

It was a really diversion from my normal running trail and truly enjoyable, despite having to battle a constant wind almost the entire time. The latter didn’t really bother me, as for once I seemed to be wearing just the right running outfit combination.

So tonight is a rest night, Saturday morning a medium long run – about 2 ½ hours.

I found a couple really interesting marathon and ultra-marathons that I would like to run. The best so far is a 63K/39M Trail-Ultra, which also offers a HM and M. The name of the run is the Baerenfelsen Lauf, which translated is the “Bear Cliff Run”. If you look at some of these pictures you can understand how the race got it’s name! The club advertises the event as being “Ultra-long, Ultra-hard, and Ultra-beautiful”! Yeah, I wanna do this run!! Whoohooo!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

To Tri, To Ultra or a 2nd Marathon

I had a lot of post-marathon thoughts on my mind as I ran last night. I’m looking for the next big goal that will keep me heading out the door running.

To Tri

I was thinking about running a sprint triathlon, but couldn’t get into a freestyle swim class in January. I could breaststoke the 500 meter swimming, but what I really want to do is...

To Ultra

The decision has been made I will run an ultramarathon! The remaining question is which one and when. I have a couple candidates:

1) June 24, 2006 - Karlsruhe Fideltas 80K/50M Night Run – a good mix of asphalt, trail and hills – 16-hour time limit. Close by, I can train on the route. It is a little too close to my March marathon, 2007 would be better.

2) July 9, 2006 - Euerbach 60K/37M Challenge Cup in Euerbach, Germany – consists of 5-6x 11K rounds – a lot of asphalt. This is doable, but I'll hate every asphalt inch of it!!

3) My preferred option: Find a 50K trail run somewhere – there doesn’t seem to be too many in Germany!

A 2nd Marathon

This is a very good possibility if the Ultramarathon doesn’t go – I have a definite one in mind, the Black Forest Marathon in October. This one is out in the country folks, no more big city marathons for me! It’s still not a trail marathon, there is some asphalt involved, but it’s getting closer!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Baking, Bradley's and a Brisk Run

Hey I love Jeanne’s comment yesterday: „He runs…AND he fixes things??? Next thing he’ll be telling us he’s a car mechanic. And a truffle (chocolate) maker…“

I did repair M-1 tanks and Bradley’s in the army, and I can bake a mean pie from scratch (cherry, apple, rhubarb, pumpkin, butternut, blueberry, current, etc.). Jon of course is the RBF truffle maker, don’t forget to place your orders ;-)

By the way, most Germans (and many other Europeans) have no clue what a “pie” is. I had to educate my German wife. How? I baked her an apple pie. Her response – she married me. Well, maybe there was a little more to it than that, but I have baked my share of pies, cakes, and other assorted sweets (I wanted to be a baker when I was young). They taste good by the way, which is another reason that I had to go on a diet and start running. Now I generally try to avoid baking as neither one of us need the calories, and it takes so much time!

Speaking of running (finally!) I ran my 14K/8.7M route tonight. It was a pleasant 4C/39F, raining, muddy, wet and downright pleasant in a non-wintery way. I quickly picked up the pace and played dodge the mud puddle, eventually finishing my run with an average pace of 5:24/K (8:41/M).

Tomorrow night I will repeat the route at a slightly more relaxed pace. If I am feeling good I will tack on a few more miles at the end. Saturday is a medium long run (2 ½ hours) on the schedule and Sunday laps at the pool.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The first signs of spring...

Nah, not really, but tonight I declared it a non-training night and went shopping. Yep, went down to the German equivalent of Home Depot and picked up a portable scaffolding that was on sale. That rain trough along the edge of the roof of the house is now within reach! Come spring weather, mild-mannered Running Jack will transform into Super Handyman Jack able to leap tall buildings with a single bound (with help of the new scaffolding at least ;-) I will at least be able to strip down and repaint the rain trough and do some other touch-ups.

But in the meantime I still have a couple miles to run. Tomorrow and Thursday I want to run my 14K/8.7M trail, once easy, once a little quicker. Saturday is a medium long run on the schedule, somewhere around 2 ½ hours. If the weather stays warm I am tempted to run a little further, but we’ll see.

Marathon Countdown

So 4 ½ weeks until “M” day - one long run left to complete, then some tapering. My strategy? Well, run as fast as I can without bonking ;-)

Actually it will depend an awlful lot on the weather, M-day, March 12th, is still within the range of some miserable winter weather. Too cold and Jack goes slow, ice is not nice, and too much snow and nobody knows. I would like to finish in 4:15:00 or less, and I will certainly do my best to achieve this.

In the way of excuses I can only offer that this will be my third marathon in 10 months, which at my age (grandpa) and level of experience (first year of marathoning) is a lot. I have not been running the hills as I was doing while training for my 2nd marathon and I think I will pay the price on race day.

On the positive side maybe race day will be a nice spring day, my breakfast cereal will be spiked with high-energy pills, my ego will be on turbo-boost and I will fly through the air with the greatest of ease and land at the finish line in a sub-4. Anything is possible, right :-)

My only fear is tapering, tapering and nothing but the tapering ;-)

Busy, busy, busy - but ran anyway!

Last night was a lot warmer outside, 4C/39F, I ran my 14K/8.7M route at about a 5:30/K (8:51/M) tempo pace. The snow is melting, the ground is softing, running is a pleasure. My legs seem to be holding up pretty well to the higher mileage, a couple more weeks then it’s taper time! Wow the time flies!

I have a mountain of work, so have to get busy. Have a great day!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Another 14K Run - Weekly Total = 88K/55M

I was going to take a day of rest today after my 32K/20M run yesterday. But I woke up this morning with no aches, pains or other annoyances, only a bear-size hunger. I had a hearty breakfast and contemplated going to the swimming pool after church. My wife wanted to work on her evening class school work, so the light was green. But after church my wife seemed to be in a talking mood so I decided to stay home and spend some time with her. After lunch she went upstairs in the library to study and I got out my notebook computer from work and started working on a pressing project.

After a couple hours I started getting restless so after confirming that my wife was still occupied decided to go for a short run. It was much warmer today, 2C/36F, partly sunny, no wind – the snow was melting – I was out the door. I thought I would do a nice relaxed run around the fields, about 45 minutes. Well 45 minutes led to an hour, then finally 1:21:02 – for about 14K/8.7M slightly faster than marathon pace (6:00/K - 9:39/M). Whoohoo, why couldn’t it have been this warm yesterday!

Anyway I finished this week with 88 kilometers = 55 miles – a new weekly record for me!

Well I need to hop in the shower and get ready for dinner, have a great week everyone!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A Cold Long Run

I was up at 5:30 this morning and out the door by about 6:15 a.m. for my long run. On the schedule 34K/21M, or about 3 ½ hours. It was still cold (-5C/23F), foggy, and with a slight wind. As I was unsure if all the asphalt trails were free of ice or not I really didn’t have any specific pace in mind – somewhere around 6:00/K (9:39/M).

The first three kilometers were ice and snow free, so I had a pretty good pace going, but then the paths got worse – 2 inches of hard snow, lots of ice patches. I still managed to finish the first 11K (my first turnaround point) with an average pace of 5:52/K (9:27/M). I felt good, I tried my best to keep the tempo going.

I crossed the 20K point (my next direction change) with an average pace of 5:43/K (9:12/M) for the 20K – oops a little fast.

After another kilometer I pulled out of the cover of the forest that I had been running through and began running over trails and fields that offered absolutely no cover from the wind. My legs started getting cold – I was wearing sport long underwear with thin running pants, but these were soaked through. By the 26K point my legs were stiff and hurting, I paused and rubbed them trying to warm them, walked and ate a peanut butter and honey sandwich that I had brought along, washed down with sports drink. I painfully tried to get my legs to move again. I made it another 10-12 minutes and walked a minute or two, then ran some more.

Despite the gloves I was wearing my hands were starting to freeze too, so I made the decision that a couple extra kilometers isn’t worth it today and took a short cut back to the house.

I ran what I guess was between 31-32 kilometers (around 20 miles), a little short, but not every run can be perfect. I am very satisfied with my pace for the first 20+ kilometers, this was a good 15 seconds faster than my planned marathon pace.

Next weekend is a medium long run (24K/15M) and in two weeks a 36K/22M long run. If the cold continues I am going to dig out my thick, heavy, ugly – but very warm cotton-wool running pants before then.

I have 74K/46M for this week so far. I may go for an unscheduled hour run tomorrow afternoon if I need some fresh air.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A Nice Easy Run in a Winter Wonderland!

Today I had a nice warm lunch at our cafeteria at work – they offer prepared meals that are warmed up in a pizza-type oven – much like a frozen TV dinner. The meals don’t taste as good as fresh, but the beef, noodles and mixed veggies entrée provided the needed energy for my run tonight.

It was a frosty, windy, -4C/25F as I left the house around 4:30 p.m. for my 14K/8.7M run. My goal was to run at planned marathon pace which is 6:00/K (9:39/M). I took the first couple kilometers extra slow as I usually speed up too fast at the beginning, but this time I fell right into my planned pace and pretty much maintained it the entire way. I finished with an average pace of 5:55/K (9:31/M), just about right :-)

Tonight I was sure to wear breathable layers, not like last night where I wore a thick cotton jersey that trapped all the moisture. The result was that the moisture was wicked away and even with icicles hanging down from my hat I still remained comfortable the entire run. I also attribute eating more during the day helped aid my body in staying warm as well.

It was really beautiful out when I ran. It has been foggy and cold the last few days which have turned all the trees and bushes a frosty white. We still have a couple inches of snow on the ground, so it is really a pretty picture - I wish I had my camera with me as I ran!

So tomorrow is a rest day and Saturday morning is my 34K/21M long run. I hope it is a bit warmer by then – at least most of the asphalt paths are free of ice, or at least those that I can see from the road.

Don't Underestimate the Importance of Wicking Moisture...

Don’t underestimate the importance of wicking moisture away from your skin in cold weather!

I have been eating less the last couple days in an effort to shed another pound or two before my marathon in March. Well yesterday I only consumed about 400-500 calories throughout the day before I ran. As I started out at 4:30 p.m. it was -3C/27F, slightly windy and there was a thick wet fog. I also made the mistake of replacing my breathable fleece running shirt with a thicker cotton hooded sweatshirt right before I left the house.

So anyway as I headed out on my run I quickly dropped into an easy 5:45/K (9:15/M) pace and started heading out over the fields. The wind/fog combination quickly chilled any exposed skin (e.g. face). After a half hour of running or so, I also started to realize that my thick hood sweatshirt was retaining all the moisture that my inner CoolMax layers were wicking out. I was getting cold! Worse yet, I was running out of energy, I was starting to feel like I was going to "hit the wall". I kept getting colder and colder, but I was already close to the halfway point, so there was nothing to do but keep running. As I eventually headed over the last 12-15 minutes of the run, which were over open fields, it was pure misery - it felt like the wind had picked up, it was almost dark, and my upper body was soaked with sweat. I was freezing!

I was relieved when I finally made it home and elected to skip my cooldown walk and headed straight inside. I quickly shed my wet clothes and then did a cooldown and stretching. After a warm bath and some hot food I was good to go, but this experience shook me up a little. My average pace of 5:47/K (9:18/M) kind of surprised me – it felt like I had been running much slower – I guess I was in a hurry to get in the warm house.

This evening I am running the route again at marathon pace (6:00/K = 9:39/M), but I am going to enjoy a warm lunch in our company cafeteria – I don’t want a repeat of last night’s experience. Oh, and I already have all my “breathable” running clothes laid out for tonight – don’t underestimate the importance of wicking moisture away from your skin in cold weather!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A Quick Tempo 14K Training Run

The past week has been extremely busy at work so it has been challenging to get all my training runs in. I had a late meeting on Monday, so had to postpone my run until last night. I almost missed my train last night as another meeting went into double overtime. But with a little hustling and a last minute sprint to the train station I made it.

It was a comfortable 2C/36F as I finally headed out the door last night for my 14K/8.7M run. The sun had been shining most of the day, so the snow pretty much melted on the asphalt portions of my trail (about 3K/2M). The field and forest trails were still icy and treacherous. In the last week or two I have been finishing before it has been totally dark, but last night I wasn’t so lucky.

My goal was a slightly higher tempo run, about 5:30/K (8:51/M). The first two kilometres were ice-free asphalt so I quickly fell into tempo. It became more challenging as I turned and headed over the farm paths leading through the fields and eventually into the forest. I was wearing my almost new Asics GT2100, so I at least had maximum traction available.

My legs began protesting after about an hour or so, I had been maintaining a pace that was slightly faster than my race on Sunday. I decided to slow down a little as I have another run tonight and tomorrow night, as well as my long run on Saturday.

In any case I finished with an average pace of 5:28/K (8:48/M), quite good considering the overall poor trail conditions. Tonight I want to run the same route, but at a more relaxed pace. Thursday will be another repeat, but at planned marathon pace (6:00/K = 9:39/M).

Diet Report

My weight is staying at a consistent 73 kg/161 lbs., which is not a good thing as I had hoped that I could lose my last 11 lbs. before marathon day. I am finding that it is almost impossible for me to maintain enough energy for my marathon training while reducing calorie intake sufficiently to lose weight. The multiple meeting and my work schedule from the last few weeks have also interfered with my 5-meal-a-day plan. This has resulted in much higher calorie intake in the evening hours which is not good for dieting.

In any case energy will remain a priority until after my marathon. Post-marathon activities will include more core and cross-training, which will make dieting somewhat more efficient.

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