Friday, March 31, 2006

Busy weekend ahead

I actually never really considered getting the mountain bike that I was drooling over last night. It was kind of like looking at a Porsche, I would love to buy one, but could never justify the sacrifices that would be involved. But it is still fun to check one out, maybe sit on the seat for a moment. Is this just a men’s thing I wonder??

Anyway, busy few days coming up. Tomorrow morning at O-dark-thirty I have a two and a half hour run on the schedule, hilly route in the neighboring town Weingarten. Then if the weather cooperates a few hours in the garden, followed by dinner at the neighbors at 5 p.m. Sunday at 11 a.m. is a 10K race, after which, we are meeting friends for lunch that live just around the corner from the Start.

The race will just be a training run for me, I have to be fit for my normal run on Monday night.
Tuesday swim night.
Wednesday 20K/12.4M run.
Thursday night 14K/8.7M run or hill repeats.
Mix in a lot of work at work, picking up the slack around the house while my wife attends classes, and some garden work and it doesn’t leave a whole of time. But that’s life in the moment. Have a great weekend!

It was love at first sight...

Last night my wife declared that it was a rest day and that I was going to take her shopping. Now normally I hate shopping, at least anything that doesn’t involve running stuff or tools, but as I am trying out for the hubby of the year award I decided to try to earn a couple points. So without a negative peep out of me, I let her drag me around her favorite department store until her heart’s content (about 2 hours).

In the end, she had to drag me out of the store. Yes, you heard right, this “shopping-is-hell-on-earth” diehard needed to be dragged out of the store like a two-year-old kicking and screaming (well maybe not really). So what held this 46 year old kid’s attention?

Well it had to be a she, because only a female could cause a grown man to slobber and drool like a teenager eyeing the chick across the room. It was lust at first sight, she was exquisite, every curve flawless, she was dressed in red with sleek black footwear. Her machinery was akin to a fine Swiss watch, resplendent, ravishing! I must have been obvious with my lust as my wife came by and told me to tuck my tough back in my mouth, it was time to go. So with much regret I gave Sherry (yes I knew her name already) a kiss, caressed her 18 gears and curved handle bars, admired her studded tires, and hugged her red frame. Good night mountain bike, I will visit again soon ...

Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Steady 20K Mid-week Run

Last night we had wet, rainy, windy, 12C/54F, weather as I headed out the door at 4:30 p.m. for my 20K/12.4M run. I was a little tired from a stressful day at work, but as I warmed up with the first few kilometres I shook this off. I concentrated on keeping the pace down, running roughly at my marathon pace (6:00/K, 9:39/M). The wind carried me along the first half hour or so, there was a small sprinkle of rain from time to time, but nothing major. The worse was all the mud and mud puddles, it was quite slippery in spots.

I cruised around my normal 14K/8.7M route, turning off at the 8.6K point to do a 6K/4M loop around the neighboring town of Graben’s Running Club trails. I met several walker’s and Nordic-walker’s on the way, the most in pairs and talking so much they barely recognized me as I plodded by.

I completed my loop and finished my run over the rest of my 14K route. I felt better than on last Wednesday’s 19K/11.8M run, I made sure that I ate a little more during the day, despite my dieting. My average pace for the approximately 20K run was 5:56/K (9:32/M), right on target. The run was not easy, during the last 30 minutes it was tough to keep up the pace. On the other side, effective training shouldn't be easy, right?

I am finding that this longer mid-week run is proving to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated. The problem is that I don’t feel like I am getting enough sleep to expedite recovery. The other problem is that I generally eat less during the first part of the week to keep my diet in check, but now I need more energy for my longer mid-week run and the accompanying recovery. Next week I had planned on adding a 4th running day, on Thursday’s, but now I’m not sure.

I am wondering if I am letting my fears of another DNF push me too hard in my training, am just getting old, or what’s going on .

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Swim Night

I stopped at the pool last night and swam 1200 meters breaststroke. I thought about practicing my freestyle for a little bit, but the pool was getting really crowded, so I decided to call it a night. Later after a fine meal of liver, potatoes and broccoli I went upstairs in our shed and worked out a bit with free weights, mostly upper body.

Tonight I have an easy-pace 20K/12.4M run on the schedule. This will consist of my normal 14K route plus 6K. The upcoming weekend will be busy, I have a 22K/13.7M hill run on the schedule for Saturday morning and a 10K race on Sunday. The 10K race will be a just-for-fun training run as I can’t afford to lose any training days next week, my 50K is looming on the horizon (May 25th).

Monday, March 27, 2006

It's beginning to feel a lot like springtime!

Tonight was an incredible 18C/65F as I headed out the door for my 14K/8.7M loop at 4:30 p.m. It had been raining most of the day but let up so I could run :-) My goal was a quicker pace, about 5:30/K (8:51/M). I obtained this the first kilometer, then 5:10/K with the second, the 4:55/K with the third. At this point I knew I would wear myself out at this pace so slowed it down a bit. The wind was behind me for a change so I still managed a pretty good pace. I passed my 10K marker (a tree) in 51:01, for a pace of 5:06/K (8:13/M), according to my records the fastest I’ve ran this during training and just 11 seconds slower than my best 10K race! I slowed down to a gentle jog shortly after this, just as the rain started up again. I finished the 14K with an average pace of 5:13/K (8:23/M), not bad!

In the diet department, I’ve adjusted my meals slightly trying to spread out my protein a little better. We’ll see how that works for me, stay-tuned.

Bike, swim, bike, lift...

The main reason that I posted the pictures of my „before“ and „after 4 years“ the other day was not to say „Hey, look at what I accomplished“, but rather to encourage any of you who might be struggling with your own goals.

I haven’t reached my weight goal, but I am so close that I can almost see the Finish line on the horizon. Don’t ever give up on your dream (no matter what it is) and keep moving forward even if storms blow you backward sometimes. I’m saying this to myself as much as any of you.

So fitness...after my run Saturday I felt good, I still had energy and my legs were in good shape. I guess next Saturday I can had a few more uphill climbs to my long run.

Yesterday I rode my mountain bike to the swimming pool in the neighboring town of Blankenloch after church, about 8K/5M. The pool closes early on Sunday so I only managed about 600 meters before they kicked me out. Afterward I rode my bike around Blankenloch scoping out the location of next Sunday’s (April 2) 10K race, before heading home. Altogether I rode about 18K/11M on the bike.

Later in the afternoon I did my weight training with my free weights, along with several sets of.pushups and situps.

Tonight I have a 14K/8.7M run on the schedule at a slightly faster tempo. A good way to start a new week. Happy running!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

My Diet - A Four Year Process

I have these two pictures sitting on my desk at home for those days when I get discouraged with my diet. In the picture on the left I weighed around 220lbs./100kg. In the picture on the right, I weighed 163lbs./74kg. Eleven pounds to go!

A Hilly 20K+ Run

This morning marked the first official long run for my 50K training. Nothing spectacular, 20K/12.5M, but rather than running it on the flat asphalt covered bike paths as was the case for my marathon training, I headed to the neighboring town of Weingarten and ran on the forested hillsides bordering this town.

It was raining and 10C/50F as I left the house about 7 a.m., it was 12K to the start of the trail that I wanted to run, so I decided to take the car rather than my scooter. As I parked the car in a small parking lot at the base of “the hill”, the rain was letting up. I warmed up a little with some callisthenic’s, grabbed my new CamelBak 3L Rim Runner and headed out. I almost immediately started climbing upwards, I chose the most gradual incline. I slowly wound my way up onto the top of the mountain and started running over the rolling hill paths. The most were forest paths or graveled logging trails.

After approx. a half hour I headed part way down the mountain, turned, and started walking back up again. I walked for maybe 3 minutes until I reached a trail that headed off to the right, then started running again. The path slowly wound it’s way up to the top again, this time from another direction. I reached the top and again took a different path leading off in another direction. This led me over a serious of rolling hills, curves and muddy logging paths. There was some climbing, but I felt good so kept running.

As I started approaching the end of the first hour I looked for a way down the mountain again so that I could climb back up with my next walk break. I managed to find a quite aggressive downhill trail that proved to be quite slippery due to all the rain we had through the night. I managed to reach the bottom without falling on my own, then walked up again. This time I needed about 4-5 minutes for the climb, it was steep and I pushed it, by the time I reached the top I was breathing heavy.

I ran again, continuing on down the path I had been following. There was a slight decline for a few minutes so I was able to catch my breath again. I ran about 25 minutes more, turning up and down various paths that I came across, basically just exploring the unfamiliar routes. Finally I ended up at the edge of the forest, staring at a field. I debated for a second whether to turn around, but eyed what looked light a path about 200 meters higher up through the woods. So I started running up through the trees, at least until I found myself surrounded by thorn bushes. I switched to a walk and wound my way up a steep slippery animal path, eventually breaking onto a muddy logging trail.

I picked up the pace again, as best I could anyway in the several inches of mud. After a few minutes I found another trail that was in better shape so took that. At this point I really wasn’t exactly sure where I was, but I have good sense of direction in the woods, and started heading back towards where I left my car.

I arrived at the car after running almost two hours, but decided to do another round up the steep hill where I ran last year. Normally this is a steep 7 minute climb up a winding asphalt road that leads to an old landfill. I ran about 3-4 minutes and noticed another trail that appeared to bear off to the left and go back down the mountain. Being the curious type (and winded by that time) I took the trail and about 8 minutes later found myself back at the bottom of the hill where I started. Cool, now I know where I can do my hill repeats! I decided to do another round, but this time walked up, which took just over 5 minutes. I than ran back down the mountain and decided that was enough for today.

All together I was on the way for 2 hours 16 minutes. I would guess I ran somewhere between 20-21 kilometers (approx. 13M). My average pace was much slower than my runs on the flatlands, but I really am not sure how much slower.

The approximate 3-5 minute walk break every 30 minutes felt about right. Of course I haven’t tried anything different yet, so have nothing to compare it too.

The top of the mountain (highest point in our area anyway) that I run up is approx. 180 meters (about 540 feet) higher than where I park my car. As I mentioned there is a forested plateau on top with lots of rolling hills. There are trails everywhere running up and down the mountain, I can utilize these to make my long runs as hard or easy as I like by using various combinations of these. As today was my first hill workout I took it a little easier until I see how my body reacts. It has been almost 6 months since I did any hill running.

In any case I am very satisfied with my first training on the hillier trails. Over the next 5-6 week I will increase the long runs by approx. 15 minutes each week, eventually running up to almost 4 hours.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Friday, March 24, 2006

More Diet Tales

Lot’s of interesting comments coming back on dieting. Rather than trying to answer several questions that came up individually I thought I would just write a new post.

Currently I am just starting a new training cycle, which means less overall mileage. This is typically the timeframe that I use to drop any weight that I put on during recovery and hopefully get a little closer to my “ideal weight”. I try to eat healthy, but less than normal.

I have tried keeping a log of what I eat, mostly to track my eating to see what the best fuel is for my running, but alas I am not disciplined enough to make daily entries. I don’t count calories, rather try to stay away from fatty or high-sugar type foods. This coupled with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables usually works for me.

I usually eat five times a day, twice being just a snack, and the largest meal being in the evening. I know that it would be better if I ate the larger meal at midday, but it doesn’t work for us as my wife's only chance for a warm meal during the week is at night.

When I was younger, e.g. 32 and still in the Army I could increase my exercise level and lose weight almost overnight. Now at 46 my daily caloric intake that I require is much lower, which means I have to exercise a lot more, reduce even more calories, or a combination of both to lose weight.

The other problem is that as my mileage increases, so does my appetite and usually twofold. You would think I would only need to increase my mileage, while keeping the calorie intake the same and I would automatically lose weight. In theory this is correct, but in all actuality this rarely works for me, I just get too hungry and end up pigging-out. I can at least maintain my weight if I increase my caloric intake proportionally to my mileage.

In any case I am most successful at weight loss when my running mileage stays under around 50K/30M a week and my long runs do not exceed 20K/12.5M. So this is where I am at in the moment.

Once I get up to running about 40-45 miles a week I don’t have to watch my calories so much, rather I concentrate on eating healthy and balanced meals.

The worst problem I have is sweets, especially cake. I have been known to polish off huge piles of cake and ice cream with Hersey's chocolate sauce later in the day following a long run. I would probably be better off eating a steak and some potatoes...but I know from experience that I would end up eating the steak and potatoes - and the cake and ice cream with Hersey's chocolate sauce ;-)

Last night was a rest night. We went to dinner with friends of ours from Ohio that were over here in Germany for a funeral. What did I eat? Steak and potatoes, a green salad and I even managed to skip the cake and ice cream. Progress, yes! In any case I woke up this morning full of energy and wishing that I could go do my long run rather than go to work :-) Tomorrow morning I want to get up early (6 a.m.) and do at least 20K/12.5M.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Dieting and Marathoning are like Fueding Siblings

Last night I got a little bit too greedy with my running, upping the mileage without upping my calorie intake during the day. The result was after about 16K/10M I was literally running on empty.

I felt good for the first 12K/7.5M, but soon after I could feel myself slowing down. I pushed on, slow and easy, but by around the 16K point I was really having to fight to keep running, I felt like I had no energy and I was getting cold. The sun had disappeared behind the clouds and it was cooling down fast, so I decided to stop and put on my fleece sweater, eat a sport bar, and drink some water (I was wearing my new CamelBak). I ran about 10 minutes more and decided that 19K/12M would be enough for the day and took a shortcut home. I could feel my blood sugar dropping really low so thought it was the best decision at the time.

After a warm shower and some food I felt good again. I guess the moral of the story is that I need to eat more when I want to run more, last minute decisions to tack on more mileage absolutely do not work with the diet I’m following this week.

A couple comments yesterday (thanks guys) left me wondering if I am getting enough protein when I’m dieting. Generally I eat the most protein during my evening meal, but on Monday and Tuesday night we had a broccoli casserole that did not much/any protein – and I didn’t make it up elsewhere.

Usually when I do my Saturday long runs I eat a warm lunch and supper at least two days prior to the run, including sufficient protein and carbs. Last night’s run was a good lesson as it showed me that I need to make some adjustments in my diet.

I imagine that my diet will be forgotten (like always) once I start tacking on more mileage. In the meantime maybe I can at least drop another pound or two.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Swim Night and Jack's Diet Tips

Last night I stopped at the pool and did some laps: 1200 meter breaststroke, 100 meter attempted freestyle. Later, after supper, I headed upstairs in the shed and did 15 minutes of free weight training. I had planned on doing a little more, but it was only 5C/41F in the shed and I only had a T-Shirt and shorts, brrrr. So I went back in the house and did several sets of pushups, situps, and crunches. I feel it today of course, altogether it was a good workout.

I did really good on my diet yesterday, I am down to 74kg/164 lbs. I’m dropping weight pretty fast, that’s already 4 lbs. this week and its only Wednesday. But I know most of that is water so I’m not getting too excited about it – if I’m still this weight on Monday, then I’ll be happy.

For any of you who are interested here is my “diet”:

Breakfast (5:00 a.m.): ½ to ¾ cup of granola cereal with low fat milk, 1 cup of coffee, 1 slice of whole grain bread with a teaspoon of peanut butter and a dab of honey, 1 – 8 oz. glass of tomato juice.

Snack (9:00 a.m.): 1 cup of coffee, 1 apple or banana.

Optional snack (10:30 a.m.): 1 piece of fruit or some veggies (e.g. carrots, celery, etc.).

Lunch (12:00 a.m.): 1 apple and 1 banana.

Optional snack (2:30 p.m.): 1 piece of fruit or some veggies.

Supper (approx. 6:00 p.m.): Small servings of whatever’s on the menu. Last night was leftover broccoli casserole (approx. 1 cup), and a fresh salad with lettuce, cherry tomatoes, scallions, ham slices, a sprinkling of grated cheese, and a slice of whole wheat bread.

I’m flexible with the snacks, when I feel like I’m going to start gnawing on my desk, then I know its time for a snack. I always drink a glass of water before the snack and right after – this leaves me feeling content longer.

On Friday I will probably eat some pasta for lunch in our cafeteria at work – I need more energy for my long run on Saturday morning. Otherwise the meals will be pretty similar to what I wrote. I should also mention that I drink between 4-6 liters of water a day.

As my running mileage increases I will have to eat more, it just doesn’t work any other way. The trick will be to find the right balance. If I can really concentrate on my diet for the next 3-4 weeks I won’t need to worry about it so much, it will be more a matter of maintaining what I lost until after the 50K at the end of May.

Tonight I want to run 14K (8.7M) to 20K (12.5M) depending on how I'm feeling when I get out there. Happy Running!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A Warm Spring Day Run

When I got off work last it was 15C/59F, sunny, warm, windless and beautiful. By the time I got suited up and out the door I was pumped. My training goal was to run my normal 14K/8.7 route at a pace of 5:30/K (8:51/M). The mud on the trails had dried up, so running was much easier. After warming up a couple kilometers I shifted it up a notch and knocked out a couple sub-5:00/K kilometers (8:03/M pace), but decided I should save my legs for the rest of the week so slowed it back down a bit. I felt strong, light and full of energy – love that warm weather! My average pace for the run was 5:13/K (8:24/M), not too shabby for these old bones.

This morning is a little cooler and its raining, but no matter, after work I’m heading to the pool for some laps. If I still have energy left I will also do some weight training tonight with my free weights.

Diet Update

My diet is off to a good start, I dropped 2kg/4.4lbs. yesterday, probably mostly water. Now comes the tricky part, namely eating enough to supply the energy I need for training, while at the same time having a deficit so that I lose some weight. Once I start up’ing the mileage I will need to eat more, so the next few weeks are key weight-loss weeks. After the high mileage starts my weight will level off at whatever level I’m at until after the 50K. So hopefully I can drop 8-10 pounds before then.

Monday, March 20, 2006

DIET is a four letter word...

...but a necessary evil in order to meet my weight goal. Last week I enjoyed recovering from my attempted marathon, I feasted, I binged, I gobbled up any food looking substance within reach. This morning I weighed myself, the first time in a week, and was not at all surprised to find my highest weight so far this year: 76kg/168lbs.

Well folks the party is over, it’s time to get back to work! My goal 68kg/150lbs. My plan is easy:

- Cut waaay back on the sweets.
- Watch the fat intake.
- Eat healthy.
- Reduce serving size.
- Train hard!

Today is the official first day of Spring in Germany and to celebrate I started my diet and my new training for the 50K on May 25th. I created a new link on my sidebar , “Current Training Plan”, so that you can follow along with Jack's Spring Training.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

A Busy Weekend

On Friday I decided to leave the car in the garage and road my bike around town doing errands – around 5K all tegether.

On Saturday I spent 4 hours in the garden, digging, pruning, raking etc. The temperature was a warmer 8C/47F, it was sunny, but windy. In the late afternoon I ran my 14K/8.7M route, easy pace about 5:40/K (9:06/M).

Today I took my mountain bike and tried to plot out a 20K/12.4M route for my Wednesday night runs. If my legs feel good I’ll start running this next Wednesday, otherwise I’ll wait a week.

Tonight I want to go upstairs in the shed and do my free weight workout, same one I was doing last Fall, lighter weights, a couple reps. It has been a few months since I was doing it regularily - I think between digging up the garden yesterday and the weights I'll be pretty sore tomorrow ;-)

I took some pictures of my running route when I rode my bike around today, I’ll try to get them posted in the next day or two.

Friday, March 17, 2006

My New CamelBak Rim Runner !

My, aren't I posting weird stuff today...

I can't resist shouting to the RBF world that UPS finally delivered my new CamelBak 3L, lots of room, bring my lunch, wardrobe and breakfast, RIM RUNNER backpack with room for the dog (oh I don't have one) too!!!!

Pure L-UST I tell ya!

My Garden?

Weather permitting, here is the site of my crosstraining activities for tomorrow (Saturday). The garden is in a garden club with ~79 other gardens in Weingarten, a town about 11K/7M from where we live. We lease the 280 square meter plot from the club, which in turn leases it from the German Railroad. Our house only has a small lot without any garden (pictures to come?), so we enjoy having the chance to get outside in the garden club on the weekends.

The main advantage of the garden (for me) is that it is located about a mile from some good hill training resources (pictures also to follow in the future).

So for you green-thumb types, what do we grow in our garden?

Well, when I'm not too busy running we have:

Blackberries, raspberries, red currents, black currents, gooseberries, strawberries, red rhubarb, peppermint, peaches, zucchini, summer squash, winter squash, butternut squash, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, carrots, red beets, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, green beans, eggplant, dill, assorted other herbs, and whatever else that I forgot.

When I busy running we have:

Potatoes, peppermint, butternut squash, weeds and anything else that you might find mixed in between ;-)

A Dixie Chick Addiction

I don’t know who it was, but one of you guys got me hooked on the Dixie Chicks and now I’m playing their music to obsession. Today my coworker said to me “Can’t you please play something else already”! So who’s guilty? Take one step forward, right now! Ha, I know who it was…didn’t think I’d remember huh! Yep, just say Goodbye Earl, Hello Mr. Heartache, you better be Ready to Run ‘cause If I Fall You’re Going Down With Me! Is that all right, good! ;-)

This weekend is supposed to be warm (10C/50F) and mild, I hear my garden calling me. Looks like I’ll be raking, pruning and other such crosstraining. I definitely have to take advantage of the weather before it decides to snow again.

Have a great weekend everyone, especially you, for putting some Dixie in my life!

Swim Night

This week is what I call „a free week“ in the diet arena. Up until midnight on Sunday I am allowing myself to eat whatever I want without reserve. After that it’s back to nutritional eating in quantities limited enough to start shedding weight again. But in the meantime don’t leave any food out in the opening, Jack the Vac may suck it up ;-)

Last night I stopped at the pool on the way home and swam 1100 meters, mostly breaststroke with some attempted freestyle mixed in. Later, after dinner, I was looking through a Pilates book that I remembered my wife had bought last year. I tried a few of the exercises illustrated, I think I’m on to something here.

My wife crashed early on the couch so I spent some time thinking about my training schedule for the 50K in ten weeks (May 25th). During the 6 intensive weeks I have four runs a week planned: 2 x 14K/8.7M, 1 x 20K/12M, 1 x long run up to 32K/20M.

I was wondering if I shouldn’t ease up a little on the running by replacing one of the 14K runs with crosstraining combinations, e.g. biking/swimming, hiking (hills)/weight training, or weight training/biking. I think I’m going to keep the 4 nights of running on the schedule and see how it goes, if I feel like it’s too much I can always drop it later. The real problem here is to find the time (and motivation) to do the crosstraining on the other 3 days or nights.

Tomorrow I have a 14K/8.7M run on the schedule, easy pace. On Sunday I want to go swimming again.

Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Tribute to my DNF

I prepared a webpage with some of my notes on the race from Sunday if any of you are interested. The link is:


Ready to Run

This is more than the title of an excellent Dixie Chicks song, this is my current status.

Last night I gingerly set out on an easy recovery jog (6:20/K, 10/12/M), not quite sure if the legs were ready for it, but after the first five minutes of easy jogging the muscles warmed up and I made my way comfortably over a 7K/4.3M loop around the local fields. There is still a lingering soreness in my left foot, probably from pulling the muscles pretty good last Sunday.

I wanted to run farther but resisted, I knew my legs were still not 100%, they felt about the same as the day or two after a real long run. After the run I spent some extra time stretching and doing sets of pushups and situps.

This morning I woke up feeling revitalized, my legs feel good, my energy level is high and I am looking forward to my next run on Saturday.

Angie questioned whether I should really worry about speedwork before my 50K run in May. She noted that I will be stressing my body out quite a bit as it is with strength training, losing weight and focusing on hills. She is concerned that I might overdo it by adding speedwork too.

I was thinking about that when I drove to work this morning and I think she is absolutely right! When I start breaking down my training schedule it is clear that I only have 10 weeks (from today) to get ready for the 50K and actually the next two weeks I will still be in recovery status. When I add two weeks of tapering at the tail end, I have effectively 6 weeks available for intensive training, far too few to be worrying about speedwork. I need to concentrate specifically on what will make or break me during the race, namely the hills and the pace! So the priorities are to find my ultramarathon pace (including walking), build endurance and train on the hills.

We have a very clever RBFer among us folks! Thanks for getting my head out of the clouds Angie!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Getting Psyched for the Next Challenge

I got home late last night from work so decided to putter around in my woodworking shop instead of doing my weight training – probably better for my recovery anyway.

In any case it gave me time to think about my objectives for the next couple months. The next major race on the agenda is the 50K on May 25th. This is a non-competitive event that will not be timed, so I don’t need to worry about speed. However the race does have some aggressive terrain, I need to build up my endurance, particularly on the hills.

I came up with a few things that I will be concentrating on over the next couple months:

- Getting my weight down. An old ugly theme, but the weight is still here and its time to get this goal behind me!
- Building core strength. Important for future plans.
- Learn to take walk breaks during my long runs. I don’t anticipate running the whole 50K.
- Implement at least one speed workout a week. I’ve never done speed workouts, I want to know if it makes a difference.
- Establish more distinguishable “recovery”, “easy”, “tempo” and “race” paces. They tend to overlap frequently. Normally I wouldn’t be so concerned with it as long as my body is making the call, but I keep getting into trouble at the longer races by starting too fast. I need to be more focused here.
- Hills, hills, hills.
- Work on my confidence and mental fortitude. The next time the going gets tough I want to make sure I’m tough enough to keep going. The body is only willing to go where the mind takes it.

Tonight I’m going for a short jog. On Saturday I want to run my 14K route at recovery pace. If the body responds positively to these runs than I will increase this to three runs next week, but still at lower intensity. By the first of April I hope to be back up to my normal training intensity. From there I will start building up again for the 50K. Happy running!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Tweaking the 50K Training Plan

I have entirely too much time on my hands. Here is a preview of my latest 50K training plan. I am still tweaking it a little bit:

DNF behind me, 50K before me

Thank you again for your encouraging words, this has helped me fight the psychological battle going on in my mind the last day or two.

A New Plan

My wife was in school last night so I sat in my favorite living room chair, propped my feet up and read through the marathon schedule for this year. I am considering one the following events for the Fall:

- The Pirmasens Forest Marathon on September 10th (10% asphalt)
- The Black Forest Marathon on October 8th (60% asphalt)
- The Roentgenlauf Marathon or 63K Ultramarathon (10-20% asphalt)

My first choice is Pirmasens, its only about 70 minutes from our house, whereas the other two are 3-4 hours.

Some Old Business

I still very much want to do the Westerwald 50K Fun Run on May 25th. This was very much a factor in my decision to DNF on Sunday.

I also plan on running the 1st Annual Stutensee 10K Fun Run on April 2nd. This is a local event and I want to be a part of it. I am not particularly concerned about setting any records, I am just going to go run for me.

There are a bunch of 10K and half-marathons throughout the summer that I may participate in. I was thinking about a 63K Ultramarathon on July 22, but I don’t know yet. I’m not hungry for this yet, I think I first need to get over the DNF hump.

Getting over the DNF Blues

I caught myself looking at the marathon schedule for April. It kind of hurts that I trained so long and didn’t complete the marathon on Sunday. This is part of the DNF struggle. I was reading in a book by Dan Glover last night that one of the first reactions after a DNF is to seek a new event to “prove” to one’s self and the world that we are not a failure. There is a marathon on April 2 that I could run and would have a very good chance of finishing. But I sat and thought about if for awhile last night and decided that I don’t need to prove anything to anyone and I already know that I can complete a marathon.

I don’t know if this makes any sense to anyone but me, but this is my way of putting a bad day behind me and getting on with my next project. I know from my own training that not every day is perfect, we have to take the bad with the good and keep going. I’ve started a list of things that may have contributed to my DNF and when I’m done I will hang it up next to my training schedule as a reminder to help me avoid making the same mistakes again. I will probably post the list when I'm done with it, maybe it's useful for someone.

And Life Goes On

So that said, my legs feel much better today, I may take a short jog tomorrow night to loosen up the running machinery. Tonight I might go upstairs and dust off my free weights – it’s been a long time since I did any upper body training.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Morning After or Jack's House of Pain

This morning I woke up feeling every bit of my almost 47 years. So where did it hurt?

- The bicep muscles were tight and really sore.
- The back of my calf muscles was painful, I think the result of several Charlie horses yesterday in both feet.
- My left Achilles was tender and sore
- The tendons in my left foot were a little tender, I really felt it when I rotated my foot
- The gastrocnemius muscles (I believe) behind the knee were a bit tender.
- Both feet were a bit swollen this morning, but the swelling seems to have resided as I write (midday).
- My shoulders and the back of my neck ache a little (I think from the cold yesterday).

Now, midday, I am still a little sore in most of these areas but it’s getting better. I think I could almost manage those 10K that I missed yesterday.

My walk to the train station this morning must have been entertaining for anyone that might have noticed me. My first “obstacle” was the five steps that lead out of my house. I assure you I was awake by the time I hit the sidewalk. The 6 minute walk to the train station took 10 minutes, but felt good, it loosened up the muscles. Good thing too, the next major obstacle was the underpass, 18 steps down, 18 steps up to the other side. From there it was uneventful, thank goodness.

Mia left an outstanding comment that I think we can all learn from:

“I predict that you will not spend years worrying about what went wrong at'll gnaw at it until you finish your next marathon, perhaps, but then it'll become a one line sentence to support other people who have the same experience... "Oh yeah," you'll say, "I DNF'ed once! Everybody does!" And they'll feel so much better.”

I think this is the right attitude and I’m going to run with it! I was already looking at the marathon list for September-October last night…

The Sun is Shining Outside and I Choose to Shine Too!

I had a very restless sleep last night, not because I was emotional drained from not finishing my race, but rather because my legs and feet ached so much that I couldn’t get comfortable. I like my wife’s comment this morning, “Did you decide to run the last 10K in your sleep last night?” :-)

I woke up this morning determined to handle this race positively. I knew I had a choice here, I can either wallow in self-pity and swear that I will never run a marathon again, or I can get up, dust myself off and keep going. I choose to keep going, I’m not done running yet! But first I need to rest. Yesterday I attempted my third marathon in 10 months, now it’s time to slow down for awhile. And just so that you know that Jack is okay, I still plan on doing my first 50K in May, albeit probably with a lot more planned walking.

In any case I think it is important to evaluate my run yesterday, only then can I learn from mistakes and misfortunes. I believe my training plan was a good one, I tapered properly and generally did everything right up to race day. Whether I made any mistakes prior to or during the race remains to be seen. I’m sure I will review each step I made over and over again for awhile, but as I said I am going to try my hardest not to let this drag me down.

Thank you everyone for your comments, it means a lot to me when you take the time to respond. I know it’s not easy to find the words to say sometimes, but I appreciate you just dropping by and saying hi!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

When a DNF becomes part of your life...

The race was going so well, I ran the first 10K in 55:14, a little fast but not too fast. I crossed the halfway mark (21K/13M) in 2:01:04, almost on schedule. But then I slipped on a patch of ice and my right foot felt a little strange. I stopped to stretch and kept going, slowing down slightly. At around the 25K/15.5M point my foot hurt, and both ankles felt like they were cramping. I walked through an aid station and drank some energy drink and ate a banana, then ran again. I made it a few hundred meters and got a painful cramp in my left leg. I walked it out and tried to run again, same thing. This continued for a couple kilometers until I was reduced to a fast walk. At the 30K point there was an aid station and I asked if they had any first aid personal – no they just left, they are at the 35K stop. I tried to stretch and message the leg again but it didn’t get better. I could only hobble when I ran, so I mostly walked.

I passed the 32K marker and saw a control van sitting on a trail crossing a few hundred meters ahead. I knew that I was faced with a hard decision. My time at this point was around 3:18:00, the race had a 5 hour time limit. For the past 5K or so, I had ran a total of maybe 400 meters. I was starting to shake from the cold (-1C/30F at the start of the race, with a wind chill factor of –8C/17F), and I limping already.

I decided to swallow my pride and call it a day. The two in the control van took one look at me and figured out I was in trouble. As soon as I sat down in the van I simultaneously had the worst cramps in both feet that I have ever experienced – I think I scared the poor driver, he asked me if I needed medical attention. But after a minute or two of messaging my ankles and gritting my teeth the pain subsided. About this time a second “patient” arrived, also experiencing cramps so they drove us back to the sport hall.

So this was my sad story about my first DNF (did not finish), I am kind of moody in the moment – kind of mad, sad and disappointed all at the same time. My wife is happy that I decided to quit, she said she could just imagine how I would be if I tried to walk the last 10K. It was her opinion that if I was already shaking from the cold when I stopped, then I probably would have caught pneumonia by the time I walked for over an hour and a half longer - hmm could be.

So nothing to do but keep going, a DNF happens sometimes. As far as I know at this point I did everything right, the training, the tapering, fueling etc. I will probably be running this race through my head about a zillion times over the next couple days, weeks, years – trying to figure out if I missed something somewhere.

But for now I am going to take a week off, regroup and then get started with my next project.

Why doesn't this make me feel better...

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The last 24 hours, tick, tick, tick,...

Thank you everyone for your words of encouragement, it means a lot to me!

Tomorrow around this time (10 a.m.) I will be lining up at the Start of my third marathon. I’m a little high-strung, but feel ready to take on the my fight with “the wall”.

My strategy since day one of my training has been to try to average 6:00/kilometer (9:39/mile) for the entire race. My plan is to run about 5:45/K (9:15/M), which is a relaxed pace for me, for the first 3 hours and then try to not drop under 6:15/K (10:04) the rest of the way. If the race goes according to plan I’ll finish in around 4:10:00-4:15:00.

I had a nice long sleep last night, 11 hours! I’m a bit concerned about my weight, I’ve gained 5 lbs since I started tapering – 3 in the last 4 days, yikes! I’ve been carbo loading the last couple days, have tried to limit fat, have been drinking lots of water and have limited my exercise. My race gear is already set out, the gas tank is full, and we have tomorrow mornings routine worked out.

The weather looks kind of nasty for tomorrow – according to the local newspaper -1C/30F and snow. This usually means 2-3 degrees warmer and rain, but we’ll see. I have my running wardrobe packed, I’m ready for anything.

So there is not much more that I can do for now, I am trying to keep my mind occupied and the nerves under control. I have my race plan, I only need to stick with it. See you on the other side...

Friday, March 10, 2006

An Easy 7K Run

Last night was a balmy 9C/48F as I headed out for my last run on the marathon training schedule. It was quite windy, really muddy, and raining – but I was well rested, well fed and full of energy - so I just grabbed the wind and ran with it!

I ran about 7K/4.4M with a pace of around 5:30/K (8:51/M). I finished feeling strong and full of energy which is exactly how I should have been feeling, e.g. no new aches, pains, or other surprises.

Jeanne asked if there is a way to sign up for live updates of the race. The answer is that we are really behind the times here, I don’t know of any marathons that offer this in Germany yet. I thought about bringing our notebook along so my wife could do a couple quick blog entries, but guess what – no Internet access! I will try to post initial results by noon, Easter Standard Time.

Jeanne also commented that the marathon website was only in German. Several organizers do offer at least an English page with key information, but not this race. I am surprised that the race organizers haven’t thought to have an English version of their website. This is one of the first marathons in Germany each year and they get people from all over Europe running it, English would be useful! Hmm, this sound like an opportunity for Jack, I may have to talk to these guys :-)

Tomorrow I have a relatively quite day planned. If the rain/snow holds off I want to go to the garden and prune my fruit tree and berry bushes. Otherwise, I will probably help my wife iron down the pile that has been waiting for us in the corner.

The latest weather predictions for Sunday race day are really diverse:

The T.V. weather channel is calling for 2C and snow;
The newspaper 3C and rain;
One Internet weather site 5C and cloudy;
Another website -2C and snow;

So it looks like I will need to bring my entire running wardrobe and make a final decision on what to where shortly before the start :-)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

2 days, 23 hours, 2 minutes and 19 seconds...

...but who's counting ;-)

The latest weather prediction for marathon day, March 12, 2006 is:

Temperature: 2C/35F
Wind: 17K/10M from Northeast
Forecast: Snow flurries!

Boys Night Out

Last night I had a pleasant "boys night out" with a friend of mine from work. We went to the Andreasbrau for a little food, a couple of the breweries home brewski’s and some good conversation. My wife joined us later after her night school and after a nice cup of hot tea played taxi driver. It was a good change of pace and I made sure that I didn’t over do the "carbo-loading" as Mia Goddess calls it ;-)

Tonight I want to run for about 45 minutes at a nice easy pace. I may run also run around the block on Saturday morning if I feel stiff. My marathon begins on Sunday at 10 a.m (4 a.m. USA EST), so far I am not terribly nervous about it. I will increasing the carb intake slightly over the next couple days and trying to sleep as much as possible, but other than that I’m ready to go!

Tough Guy Race

To answer Thomas's question about how long of a distance that the Tough Guy Race was: I couldn't find this on their website either, I have the feeling that the course was never measured.

To answer Lora's question about whether I can't put you all up if you come over for the race: Sure bring your sleeping bags y'all can sleep in my shed - we probably have room for 50-60 RBFers, easy! An of course you are all used to standing in line for the toilet, so that's not a problem ;-) Jon don't forget the chocolate!

The only problem is that the race is in England and I live in Germany, but that's just a minor worry compared to the race itself ;-)

But seriously, there are a lot of really cool adventure races around the world, the most a bit more civilized than Tough Guy. If you are interested there is a good website that lists adventure races all over the world at:

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

G.I. Jack, Hoo-Rah!

I can’t resist throwing this out again, any of you looking for something new in your fitness routine should try an adventure run. I trained a couple times with the British army when I was stationed in Germany in the 1980's, they know how to get the work done and how to have fun afterwards. It doesn’t surprise me that they came up with the ultimate adventure race – The Tough Guy Race. The next time your buddies tell you that you are insane when you say you are going to run a marathon, invite them to run The Tough Guy Race with you and see what they say! Ha!

I’m already looking for an adventure race in my area! Oh and if you think I’m just going through taper madness, see what Ellie, alias G.I. Jane, has to say about it!

Anybody interested in going to England as part of an RBF team? Maybe we can get Mark to coach us!

A Swim Night

For the first time in almost four weeks I stopped at the swimming pool last night and did some laps. I swam mostly breast stroke for 40 minutes, nice and easy, trying to keep my kick to a minimum, working mostly the upper body. I wanted to keep going but the little warning buzzer in my head went off reminding me that I hadn’t been swimming for a while and I have a marathon on Sunday – so I stopped.

Later in the evening my wife went upstairs in the library to work on her English class homework, so I decided to take a walk. I walked around town at an easy pace, about 20 minutes. This left me feeling loose and ready for a good night’s sleep.

So the first weather reports for Sunday, marathon day, are coming in. So far it looks like a temperature of 3-5C (37-41F), slight wind, cloudy with a 20% chance of rain. This would be almost ideal for this time of year (if it doesn’t rain).

Tonight a friend of mine invited me out for some food and delicious beer at my favourite brewery – The Andreasbraeu. You may remember me talking about their homemade beer last summer, it is absolutely the best in the area! Their food is also excellent. My wife is picking us up at the brewery restaurant at 8:30 p.m. on her way home from evening class, so we can relax and enjoy ourselves. Have a nice week!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

So you think you're a tough guy or gal...

Last night it was a pleasant 5C/41F as I left for my run. It was sunny, but there was a stiff wind blowing as I headed out over the fields. I felt good, energetic and it reflected in my pace, I ran the first 2K in 10:24 (5:12/K or 8:22/M). Oops, a little fast, I tried to slow down a little – I ran the next kilometre in 5:15/K (8:22/M). Luckily, about that time I left the asphalt and headed over a tractor path deep with mud and slosh (from melting snow) which slowed me down considerably. I slipped and spun my way around the fields and along the woodline of the nearby forest for about 4K/2.5M, eventually making my way back to an asphalt path. I ran altogether about 9K, at an average pace of 5:30/K (8:51/M). This was enough to warm up the muscles without working them too hard (or long).

Italiano per il principiante

I was surfing the internet last night and found an „Italian for Beginners“ site. I have already learned some important words:

Gradisco funzionare = “I like to run”
Dove posso funzioni? = “Where can I run?”
Gradirei una banana = “I would like a banana.”
Gradirei prego una certa pasta = “I would like some pasta please.”
Sono assetato = “I am thirsty.”
Ho fame = “I’m hungry”
Gradirei una parte della torta = “I would like a piece of cake.”
Dove è la toletta? = “Where is the bathroom?”

I mean that should be just about enough for me to get by, right? If not, I can always call the Black Knight to rescue me ;-)

So you think you’re a tough guy (gal) huh...

...then be sure to sign up for this race in January 2007. On Sunday a German TV show was interviewing a couple German runner’s who finished this race in 2006. They said this is a race that separates the men from the boys (or the women from the girls). Looking for a new challenge, sign up, I dare you!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Anybody ever been to the Toscany region in Italy?

Many people suffer from nervous energy during the taper period. This “taper madness” can be quite…well…maddening if left unchecked.

My marathon is less than a week away and I am pretty high strung. The worst effect this has had over the past week or so has been a perceived “need” for high-sugar food. Cakes, chocolate, ice cream, nothing has been safe in our house lately as Jack the Human Vac has made his way through the house. This morning I swore off all sweets until race day and what does my coworker do – he has a birthday and brings cake to the office – I mean I didn’t want to offend the guy, so I made sure I had my three pieces.

My wife has not been helpful, yesterday she baked a zillion red current muffins – baked lightly brown on top, light fluffy, fruity, sweet, and easily fit in this human vac’s nozzle.

So in an effort to contain this new side effect of tapering I have been trying to keep the mind occupied. Here are a few diversion that I came up with:

1. I updated my genealogy homepage ( You all can help me here – go to your neighborhood cemetery and take a picture of all the Niles family headstones that you find. I have a rather large database on my homepage listing where Niles are buried in the world. Yes this really is a project that I am working on!

2. My wife declared yesterday that for her birthday in September she wants to go on a guided bus tour to Toscany, Italy. I have been warned not to make any race plans during this time. On the other side she didn’t say anything about leaving my running stuff at home ;-) In any case I am spending some time looking for tourist information for Florence, Pisa, Lucca and other cities in the Toscany area. Anybody ever been to this region?

3. I am spending time cleaning up my long-neglected office at home. This week I need to do my taxes, do some filing etc. I also need to plan our garden, home improvement projects for the year and of course tweak my running plan.

Gosh I’m tired already, I need to go for a run.

Speaking of running, this week will be light: A 9K run tonight and on Wednesday; a 5K easy jog on Friday night to loosen up.

The Jayhawk Survey

I was over at Running Jayhawk's place last night and decided to participate in her "survey". Feel free to answer the questions yourself.

1. What time of day do you run?

During the week at around 4:30 p.m. On Saturday’s when I’m doing a long run I like to start around 6-6:30 a.m.

2. Where do you usually run?

During the week on a 14K loop from my house. For long runs I usually run a loop in the other direction to our nearest city (Karlsruhe).

3. What is your favorite song to run to?

Whatever nature offers on that day, the chirping birds, a gentle breeze and the sound of my feet hitting the forest path. On real long runs I may turn on the MP3 player and listen to some Toby Keith or Brooks & Dunn.

4. When I was marathon training I actually gained 15 pounds. I am NOT happy about this. Any advice for dropping pounds while running? It's not like I'm consuming an insane amount of calories or more than I was before, and I have a very difficult time believing that I gained 15 lbs of muscle. I wish!

I try to eat a lot of fresh fruit and veggies and stay away from sweets.

5. When did you start running?

Which time? The last time in March of 2004.

6. What's your post-race/post-run ritual?

Drink, eat, drink, eat, eat, eat , warm bath, nap, drink, eat, eat, eat.

7. What do you eat before you run?

For a morning run – granola cereal with lowfat milk and a glass of tomato juice. For a run after work the same for breakfast then generally a meal with pasta or potatoes for lunch – oh and at least 2-3 liters of water throughout the day.

8. What's your favorite running movie? (psst...I love Saint Ralph!)

I still like the scene in Rocky I (?) where he run's up the stairs. Motivates me anyway :-)

9. What's your motivation for running? (or when you first started running)

In the beginning it was to lose weight and to have more energy. I still have 10 pounds to go so this continues to be my motivation. Now, I could probably add that I run so that I can run more and/or faster.

10. What are your running shoes?

I have at least 7 pairs in various stages of death - my newest are Asics GT 2100.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

A pleasant 14K run in the snow.

Yesterday I went out for a nice easy 14K/8.7M run. It was still challenging because Friday it snowed, then rained and we woke up on Saturday to 4 inches of new snow. The result was frozen slosh with four inches of wet snow on top of it. I literally had to plow my way through the woods, slipping and sliding like a mud wrestler. On the other side at 7:30 a.m. when I left for my run it was 1C/34F, windless and the air was fresh and clean. For the most part I ran on virgin snow, I guess it was too early for the dog walkers, kids with sleds and logging crews. There was a gentle fog drifting over the fields, I saw several deer and rabbits, a fox, in the forest - and as I finished the last few kilometers the sun greeted me with all its glory – what a way to finish a week of running!

Speaking of a week, next Sunday is the big day – my marathon starts at 10 a.m. (USA = 4 a.m. EST). It is supposed to start warming up again over the next few days, but it is still too early for next weekend’s prediction. I hope that we don’t get another snow storm, this could result either in an event cancellation (worst case) or a slow, messy race (which I could live with – good cross-country training ;-)

In any case any race this time of year in my area is very dependant upon the weather – anything can happen! If this were my first (or second) marathon I would be all paranoid and worried about it, but being number three I know if is not my day than I will just do better next time. Of course I will do my best and try to run a smart race, I didn’t train through the whole winter to fall apart on race day.

My personal motto for race day: Rock Steady!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

An Easy 14K Run

Today we had really crazy weather, almost every hour it rotated from sunny blue skies to a thick snow and back again. On the way home it was gray and snowing heavily, by the time I got changed and out the door the sky was blue and sunny. Figure that out???

Anyway I had a pleasant sunny 14K/8.7M run, easy pace about 5:42/K (9:10/M). My legs seemed a bit stiff from lack of activity this week, but my energy level is good. My cold is just about gone and I am feeling good. Now if I can only stop eating everything in site, I gained another pound!

This weekend I will repeat the run that I did tonight, e.g. same route, same speed. Next week I will run to 9K/5M runs (probably Tuesday and Thursday) and a 20 minute jog on Friday night. The marathon is Sunday the 12th at 10 a.m.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Marathon Route

Here is a couple pictures of last years marathon that show the type of typical forest paths that make up the majority of the marathon route. You will notice they are asphalt and slightly crowned:

The paths are almost identical to what I trained on - after about three hours you feel it in every part of your legs.

Here is a picture showing the Bienwald Marathon and Half-marathon route. The "V" numbers are the refreshment/first aid stations:

Pre-marathon Analysis

I am slowly starting to feel the restlessness caused by the reduction of mileage during tapering. This week I plan on only running three times, compared to up to 5 during peak training weeks. I am wondering if I should go to the pool and swim tonight.

My cold is much better, I only have a few lingering signs (e.g. runny nose). I can slowly feel my energy returning, I hope that I don’t have a relapse before the marathon (less than 11 days from now).

I need to cut back on my eating some, I gained a couple pounds over the past week and a half – I sitting at 163 lbs. I was hoping to be down to 155 before the race, but it didn’t happen – and now is not the time to go on a crash diet. I am going to try to lose the 2 lbs that I gained before this weekend, then try to maintain this weight until race day.

My main concentration for the next 11 days is keeping the body loose through some slightly-faster-than-marathon-tempo runs, getting lots of sleep – especially the last few days, and eating well (i.e. quality).

My “point in time” self-analysis is that I feel more tired than I should be (and compared to my first two marathons). There are two influential factors involved. 1) I am just getting over a cold. 2) I just finished training for what will be my 3rd marathon in 10 months.

From the mental side I feel less cocky and more disciplined. Shortly before the last marathon I talked myself into starting at a much faster pace than I had originally planned on (e.g. looking for a sub-4) and didn’t have the endurance and/or fortitude to hold it to the end.

On March 12th I am determined to run the race that I trained for. In a best case scenario I will be feeling so good during the last 10K that I will run one fantastic negative split for the second half. In any case first I have to run a smart 32K/20M race.

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