Wednesday, May 31, 2006

So, back to work!

Or actually training. After work tonight I warmed up a bit and headed out over my 14K/8.7M route. The sky was dark and looking like rain, the wind blowing, and the temperature around 16C/61F as I made my way over the first kilometer.

I cautiously picked up the pace, this was my first training run since the 50K and the 8.2 race on Saturday. I really didn’t have a time goal, I let my body dictate the pace. I gradually settled on a 5:30/K (8:52/M) pace and tried to maintain it. It felt comfortable for the first half, but as I approached the 10K tree I could feel that I was pushing more than usual. I slowed down a little bit for a 500-600 meters, but as soon as I ran out of the woods into the open path through the fields, I picked up the pace to try to get out of the cold wind and sprinkling rain as soon as possible.

I cruised my way around the fields and finally down the last dirt road back into town. I had to work to keep the pace going, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. I finished finally with an average pace of 5:29/K (8:49/M) for the 14K, a pretty good tempo run.

I’m going to take tomorrow (Thursday) night off, except for a little upper body weight training. On Friday night I will either rest or run about an hour depending on how I feel. On Saturday morning I want to run a hilly 2-2½ hour long run and on Sunday head to the pool. Monday is another holiday, so I need to plan something special for this day, maybe a hill run or a half-marathon race - I'll have to see what the wife has on her mind.

Yes, it is nice to be back in training modus! Have a great week.

An Easy Swim Night

Generally, I try not to brag too much about my accomplishments. But yesterday my ego got the best of me and I found myself bragging about how great my 50K race was last Thursday. Okay this was with a coworker (also a marathon runner) and it wasn’t a typical Ali “I am the greatest!”, but I definitely let the pride of my accomplishment be noticed. What can I say, I completed 50K, I still get goose pimples thinking about. Everyone needs to complete 50K, just to get this feeling. Can you imagine 50 miles, or a 100, my poor head would probably burst!

Anyway last night I went to the pool and swam 8 laps (800 meters), about half with my perverted freestyle and the rest breast stroke. Somehow my freestyle form was way off, I guess I forgot how to swim in the last three weeks that I stayed away from the pool. Sigh, I am still hoping I can take a freestyle class in the Fall.

After a quite dinner at home, my wife crashed on the couch and I spent some time looking over the race schedule for the summer. Lots of 10K races coming up in June and July. Several of them are within a half-hour drive from us, so I will probably participate in a few of them.

I have a slightly longer race in mind for the end of June, but am patiently waiting to see how my run tonight and this weekend go before I make any final plans. If my fitness level feels close to what it was before my 50K race and my wife is in agreement, then I will probably go for “it”. My upcoming runs this week are important milestones because there will be very little time to prepare for “it”.

Happy training!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A Short Recovery Period

Last night I took advantage of my recovery time to butter my wife up for the next big race on my clipboard. Dinner, a movie, sitting at a street Cafe with a friend, and just enjoying the company of the one I love. She already figured out that I have something brewing in the background.

Anybody ever see "Brokeback Mountain"? Well, we met my wife's English class last night at the movie theater to watch this movie in English. The catch was that none of us had any idea what the movie was about. It turned out to be quite intensive, and for my rather old-fashioned, grass-roots background, almost disturbing. I have to admit that the movie was well made and of course the mountain scenery was absolutely beautiful.

Long Term Training Plans

I want to continue to work on my freestyle swimming in preparation for a sprint Tri in 2007. I also need to learn how to race with my bicycle – I am only a tourist when it comes to bike riding.

I am signed up for a hilly marathon that takes place on September 10th. I think if I continue the hilly long runs that I have been doing the last few months I won’t have too much trouble with this. I only need to learn to run the hills a little faster, e.g. build up my endurance.

Here is the elevation profile for the marathon:

I am thinking about running the Rodgau 50K race in January 2007. The catch is that there is a 6-hour cut-off, which means I have to pick up my speed significantly compared to the 50K that I just finished. The good news is that it is a flat 5K round course. The bad news is that it is asphalt-covered and takes place in the dead of winter!

Short Term Training Plans

My priority for the next week or two is to try to get my weight down a couple pounds. Currently I’m sitting at 75kg/166lbs. which is a couple pounds higher than it has been lately. My dream weight is still 68kg/150 lbs., but I at least want to get the fat level down some (e.g. more muscle, less fat).

I’m going to slowly ease back into my running over the next few days and if that goes well I want to see how fast I can get back up to my pre-50K level. For this coming Saturday (June 3) I want to try about a two hour hilly route run to test my fitness level. If I feel good after this run, then I hope to be back up to a three hour long run the following couple weekends. The run on this coming Saturday will be an important milestone for another goal that I have in mind.

If this sounds like I am moving kind of fast, well let me just say that I think the 50K race was actually less stressful on the body than my first couple road marathons. Okay the hills were tough and I felt it in my muscles for a couple days. On the other side I didn’t walk around like the Tin Man for a week, didn’t have to crawl up and down the stairs, or have extended leg problems. The 50K race pace was much slower than a road marathon, which I think has reduced the amount of recovery time that I need significantly. I’ll put this theory to the test when I lace up tomorrow night for a run.

Tonight I’m heading to the pool for some laps, followed by some upper body weight training. Have a great week!

Monday, May 29, 2006

50K Race: After Action Report

I generally jot down a few notes after a major race to archive what went wrong or right before, during and after a race. The Westerwald 50K race on May 25th was my first ultra distance, i.e. more than marathon-distance, so I spent a little longer pondering the event.

The Training

Negative points:

- Generally speaking my training was too short and not hard enough.
- Specifically, I needed even more hill workouts, especially aggressive downhill sections.
- The almost 3 week tapering was a little long, 1 - 2 weeks probably would have been enough.

Positive points:

- My long runs closely resembled the terrain that I encounted during the race.
- My Run/walk ratio that I trained with was adequate for the race.
- My eating and drinking during the long runs closely matched what I required during the race.
- The training marathon that I completed 4 weeks before the race provided the confidence (and experience) that got me through the last part of the 50K!

The Race and Logistics

Negative points:

- The hotel.
- Started out too fast.
- Ran the first major hills.

Positive points:

- Had a couple good nights sleep before the race.
- Did a good job adjusting my race after a too-fast start.
- Fueled well before, during, and after the race.
- Maintained focus during latter part of race.


Not much to say here other than that I have been eating too much and have put on a couple pounds since the race. One could also debate whether running a race two days after the ultra was a good idea or not. In any case my legs held up well.

On a positive note I started refuelling immediately after the race (e.g. within 30 minutes), first some hot bean soup and a roll, some alchohol-free wheat beer (Weizen) and a piece of cake; then later a large pasta dinner with a mixed salad containing turkey wedges. I also drank at least 2-3 liters of water over the rest of the day. On Friday and Saturday I also kept up a high volume of fluid intake and had a couple good meals with carbs and protein.

I made it a point to stay off my feet as much as possible on Thursday after the race and Friday after we got home. On Friday afternoon I went for a walk/jog. This consisted of about 500 meters walking, a 1K slow jog, another 3-4 minute walk, then finally about a 2K jog. My legs were really stiff and my right ITB was whining, but the next day I felt much better. And of course Saturday night I ran the 8.2K race.

Today (Monday) my legs are tired and begin to stiffen if I sit at my desk for too long without walking around. My neck and shoulders have been stiff since I raced on Saturday night - I wonder if this is a result of the races or more as a result of being in the wind for over two hours on Saturday night??

So my training plans for this week:

Today: Rest
Tuesday: Swim
Wednesday: A recovery run, distance to be spontaneously determined.
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest or recovery run.
Saturday: At least an hour run.
Sunday Rest or swim.
Monday: Maybe a half-marathon

Future plans:

I have a longer race in mind for June 24th, but first I need to see how my recovery progresses this week before I make any final decision. In the meantime I’ll keep you all in suspense.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Koenigsbacher Mile 8.2K Race Report

I was getting pretty stiff sitting around the house yesterday, so decided I need to stretch the legs out a bit. A friend and coworker, Uwe, had mentioned to me earlier in the week that if I had any energy left I could come and run with him in Koenigsbach on Saturday night. The Koenigsbacher Mile is an 8.2K (5.1M) race consisting of 4 laps around the town of Koenigsbach where my friend lives.

I usually run a day or two after a long race to keep the muscles loosened up, this seems to help me with my recovery. Now Uwe had mentioned that he hadn’t trained much, so was just going to take it slow and easy and jog around the race course. Since I was going to run anyway I thought I might as well do it with a friend!

A quick telephone revealed that Uwe was in bed with the fever, so much for running with a friend. The race was scheduled to start at 7 p.m. – at 5:30 p.m. my wife decided she was content to sit on the couch and knit, but I should go because I was pacing the house with nervous energy driving her crazy.

So I drove the 25 minutes to Koenigsbach and picked up my start number at the soccer stadium and preceded to look for the start line which was about 200 meters around the corner. Apparently there had also been a 4K run which started earlier so I had a chance to see these racers complete their second round. I was sure to yell encouragement where I could.

About 15 minutes before the race I warmed up a little, jogging part of the race course – nice and flat, asphalt covered roads and bike paths. My legs were tired, but actually felt pretty good considering I had just run 50K/31M on Thursday. I was just going to do the race at a slow jog anyway, and was not above quitting early if I felt the need. This was all about recovery, right!

As I lined up with the other 142 runners, I bumped into 91-year-old Albert Olbrechts and his wife who I visited with before the Baden Mile on May 6th. He was doing good, looking forward to running as always. I hope I’m still alive at 91 years old!! His 33 year younger wife is training for a marathon in September.

So anyway after a few minutes the starting pistol went off and I quickly settled into a comfortable pace, I was in no hurry. My legs felt amazingly good, not aches, pains, or other complaints.

The start of the race was in front of the local Edeka supermarket. From there we ran along a row of houses that led into the center of town. As we approached the center the road went down a tiny hill and turned left. Here was the main part of town with several shops, stores, and old timber-framed houses. A fair sized crowd was gathered along this part of the route, despite dark, gloomy, overcast skies.

The race path continued to wind through the center of town, twisting right and left onto a couple different streets, then past an aid station at approximately the 1.5K point. Dozens of kids were passing out water to the runners and generally having a good time. The atmosphere was very festive, many residents were standing in front of their houses lending support.

The route continued around a corner to the right, then a quick left and up a little tiny hill. Another 50 meters and the route turned left and ran by the soccer stadium where the finish was located. On the fourth lap runners would turn right here to reach the finish line. But for the first few laps we ran a few more meters then turned right, ran a minute, then left and past the shopping area and the supermarket where we started.

It was cool running by the shopping area, there were maybe a 100 people cheering and a small band was playing upbeat music – quite motivating really!

I finished the first lap in 10:20, for an average pace of 5:10/K (8:19/M), about two minutes faster than I had planned on. It was obvious that I wasn’t feeling too bad for having run 50K two days before.

I felt comfortable at this pace so kept going, but making sure that I didn’t speed up any – no since pushing my luck.

The second lap came and went and by the third lap I could feel myself slowing down. Normally, I would have pushed myself and tried to pick up the pace again, but instead I just let my legs decide the pace.

So I kept slowing down a bit as I started the fourth and last lap, but I didn’t care. As I passed the 7th kilometer I saw that I was slowly overtaking a younger lady (around 20?) wearing an ipod and jamming. She first noticed me as I began to inch by her. Well, I guess this woke her up because she struggled to get by me again. Of course this got my competitive juices flowing and I kicked in the turbo just as we climbed the small hill.

As I rounded the last couple turns and made the last right into the soccer stadium she was dust, I had left her for dead on the trail. So anyway I enter the stadium with about 200 meters to go and see a dude about 100 meters ahead of me. Now my adrenalin burner was cranked on high so I broke into a sprint and was only two steps behind this dude by the time we crossed the finish line.

So I finished my supposedly “slow recovery run” in 42:18. This was an average pace of 5:10/K (8:18/M) for the 8.2/K (5.1M) race – or right around my best half-marathon race pace. I was 92nd out of 143 overall.

So after a little stretching and a cool down, I hung around and cheered in the last of the runner’s before heading home to spend the rest of the night with my lovely. I felt really great after the race, but had a ravaging appetite.

This morning my legs are a little sore, which is no surprise, but really do not feel bad at all – I’m even comfortable walking up and down stairs. However, now I am going to take a break from running until at least Wednesday in order to give my body time to recover. I may go for a swim on Tuesday night, but nothing too ambitious.

Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

50K Race Photos: Group 3 of 3

So shortly before 8 a.m. on Thursday, May 25th, 2006. Eighty-one people were signed up for the 31K (really 35K) or 50K run. We received a short race briefing from the race director:

And we were sent on our way:

I'm going to miss you Westerwald Forest:

50K Race Photos: Group 2 of 3

The swimming pool where the race started:

Here is Jack (in red jacket) discussing the hazards of smoking with Stephan Isringhausen, ultra runner and Webmaster of one of the most popular Ultrarunning websites in Germany Don't let his smoking fool you, he is a running machine who has completed 24 and 48 hour runs. He did admit that his smoking slows him down:

The Start banner:

50K Race Photos: Group 1 of 3

Wednesday, May 24, 2006. Driving to Rengsdorf for the 8th Annual Westerwald 50K Run. The Westerwald Forest is looming in the background:

A view from our hotel on Wednesday evening. The swimming pool where the race was held is at the bottom of the hill behind the houses. The weather was still looking promising at this point:

A view on Thursday morning about an hour before the race:

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Westerwald 50K Race Report


Rengsdorf, small town on the border of Rhineland-Pfalz and Hessen, about 30 minutes northwest of Koblenz. We arrived at our hotel at about 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday night and checked in. Right away we noticed that the place was a dive, nothing like the pictures that were shown on the Internet. But it was only a few minutes from where the Westerwald 50K Ultra race would start the next day so we decided to take the room anyway.

After dropping our bags in the room, we decided to look for the public swimming pool where the race would start. The way was well marked and we found it right away. There were several people there setting up tables and things for the next day. I chatted with the race organizer for a few minutes. He warned me that the race course was tough and, after hearing I was from the flatlands around Karlsruhe, asked me if I had trained on any hills. I ensured him I had and seemed relieved. He went on to say that one of the reasons the race is popular is that it is so challenging.

We stopped at an Italian restaurant that we noticed on the way back to the hotel so I could get my pasta fix. The food turned out to be really good and at a reasonable price.

When we arrived back at the hotel we discovered the first major flaw with the hotel – no heat, they had it turned off for the summer – and this with 12C/54F outside! There was a portable electric heater in the bathroom, I rolled this out into the main room and plugged it in. After an hour or so we were comfortable.

I guess I dozed off around 10 p.m. and slept fairly soundly until 6 a.m. As I got up to take a shower I discovered the second major flaw with the hotel – no hot water! I took a very quick cold shower, my wife declined, and we went down to breakfast. We complained about the heat and hot water and the owner said they have been having trouble with the hot water all week and she would see to it that it was fixed that day.

After breakfast I stepped outside to see check the weather status. It was 6C/43F and raining. We returned to the room and I decided on my outfit for the run, long running pants, short-sleeve running shirt, rain jacket and baseball hat. I also stuffed a long-sleeve running shirt in the larger pouch of my running belt along with a bottle of water and a handful of sport bars.

The Run

We arrived at the start about 30 minutes before the race and I collected my race card. There were no start numbers, just a card with our name and address on it and room for the five stamps that we had to collect at the control stations along the way. We also received a small plastic bag (Ziploc) for the card to keep it dry (very necessary). I mingled with a few of the runners, recognizing a few from an Ultramarathon Webpage that I frequent. My wife busied herself taking some pictures and getting a cup of coffee.

About five minutes before the start of the race I said goodbye to my wife and headed out to the parking lot to warm up for a couple minutes. Shortly before 8 a.m. the race director called everyone (around 70-80 people) over to the start line, went over a few notes about getting the stamps and how the trail was marked. He then asked if everyone was ready and hearing no negative comments, said “Okay, have a good run!” and we were off.

The first 2 minutes of the run went uphill along the edge of town, then quickly turned left and snaked down a very muddy and slippery downhill trail. We were reduced to running single file and for many of the runners it was a time to catch up with the news from old acquaintances. The atmosphere was festive and no one really seemed to mind that it was raining and cold.

I was following a group of four that seemed to know each other pretty well. The scenery was absolutely fabulous. We descended into a narrow valley with a small stream running down the middle. The trail crossed the stream over a small wooden bridge and wound downwards through a forest that was thick enough to keep most of the rain off of us. The trail was super saturated with water and was wet with boot-sucking mud.

Based on the kilometer markings I averaged about 6:00/K (9:39/M) for the first 4 kilometers, but a couple people said that the markings were usually not accurate. I decided to stop worrying about it anyway because once I start the hill climbs it will no longer be relevant anyway.

I didn’t have to wait too long for the first hill, it showed up around the 4.5K (3M) point. This first hill climb was the longest climb of the event. Three kilometers (2M) later we arrived at the top and the first control point. This came up rather unexpectedly as I had anticipated having to walk part of the hill and I was still running! The hill was long, but ended up being a very gradual upgrade, I ran almost effortlessly up the entire hill!

I received my running card stamp at the control point and decided to take a 3 minute walk break and eat a sports bar. The small group I was following kept running. After a few minutes I picked up the pace again just as the route crossed over a highway. From here the trail changed from mud to asphalt, then a gravel-covered logging road. I caught up with two runners, when one stopped to relieve himself behind a tree. They were from Duisburg, a town several hours to the north and this was also their first ultra. We stuck together for the next hour or so chatting as we went.

Around the 13K/8M point we started up a short, but steep incline which left us walking for several minutes, it really took our breath away. Our efforts were rewarded with a beautiful view of the forest-covered valley below as we rounded the top. The two quickly picked up the pace as we headed down into the valley and I decided to stay with them for as long as I could.

The second control point (15K/9M) lay at the bottom of the valley. We stopped briefly to fill up our water bottles and to drink some isotonic drink, the we started up the other side of the valley. The other two seemed to have received an energy rush and were keeping quite a pace going up the hill, so I start having second thoughts about staying with them. But the hill was short so I hung with them a while longer as we cross another flat stretch of forest.

Around the 18K/11M point we again started up a significant hill climb, the two younger men were not giving me any slack. As we started down the other side I finally told them that I needed to slow the pace down and they should continue on without me. I took a short walk break and ate another sports bar, then continued on at my pace.

The trail left the forest at around the 23K/14M point and snaked through a small town, exiting onto a farmers tractor path through the fields on the other side. After a few minutes the trail turned to asphalt and wound through a slightly larger town. I remember this part well as the drizzling rain turned into a drenching downpour which lasted at least 5 minutes.

As I exited the town and once again made my way over a tractor path the trail suddenly abandoned this and headed over a grass covered field. Luckily most of the grass was trampled down by those who ran before me, but by the time I made it over this almost 1 kilometer rolling hill stretch of field my feet were soaking wet. The last stretch of field went downhill then cut right onto another tractor path which wound up another uphill section. Due to the recent pouring rain this path looked more like a creek bed at the time. After slipping and sliding up portion of this I finally gave up and walked the rest. I wasn’t alone, several other runner’s were doing the same.

As I was heading up this uphill section I passed the 25K marker, the halfway point - I believe my time was around 2:42:00. So what goes up must come down and after a short time was I was on the run again. Just past the bottom of this hill was the third control point (28.5K/18M). I stopped here and ate a banana, being sure to refill my water bottle. I was still feeling pretty good at this point, but I was a little worried because my feet were soaked. I could feel a blister forming on one of my toes.

Right after the control point was a small uphill section, so I took a walk break for a couple minutes and walked up the hill. Then it was a quick downhill, then up another short hill section, which I ran, then finally down into another valley. I remember crossing a small bridge then running a few minutes until I came to the second tea station, where they were offering only drinks. They warned me that the steepest hill was just around the corner.

I took a walk break so I could eat a sports bar and sure enough, right around the corner was heartbreak ridge. The little sliver of a trail rose approx. 125 meters in 4-500 meters distance. This hill was after my soul and will to live and almost beat me. I mean the thought of running any portion of this didn’t enter my mind, and walking it proved to require a tremendous amount of effort.

My legs and lungs were screaming as I finally crawled over the top. But what really scared me, was when I tried to start running again and my calves cramped up. I had to try to run 3 or 4 times before I could finally get moving again. The trail went up and down a couple asphalt covered bike trails at this point and every time we went down I was rewarded with spasms of pain behind my knees.

It finally got a little better when I started heading uphill again and decided to walk it. After a few minutes the pain seemed to go away. As I headed down the next downhill at least I wasn’t gritting my teeth. So the fourth control point was around the 38K/24M marker. I stopped and ate another banana and tried to stretch a little – this turned out to be a painful ordeal. I think I was scaring the people at the control station with my grunts and groans so I decided to keep moving.

The trail started heading downhill, first gradually winding down a hill side, then all of sudden down a steep asphalt-covered road following a creek bed. Give me an uphill climb anytime, this downhill portion was a nightmare. The road continued downwards for almost 2K/1.2M. By the time I reached the bottom the asphalt had beat my legs to a pulp, my knees were shot. I was in pain!

At the bottom of the hill the trail turned and headed up the second longest hill climb of the run, an almost 4K/2.5M, long, 200 meter gain, gravel and mud-covered trail. The back of my knees were throbbing, I could only run small stretches as I hobbled up the hill. At the top of the hill was the last control point, I made sure to get my last stamp, then drank a coke. I again tried to stretch, but figured I should keep going. For the first time since the half-way point I glanced at my watch, 5:48:00, with 5K to go. No way was I going to break 6 hours, and I was worried if I could get in under 6½ !

So with new determination I did my best to keep running. I ran for maybe 3-4 minutes, then walked a minute, continuing this pattern until the 47K/29M marker. It was just past here that I totally wiped out on a tree branch that was on the path as I was heading downhill. My feet literally flew out from under me and I slid about 15 feet downhill on my side.

Gingerly getting to my feet I did a quick damage assessment and figured out that the only thing that I hurt was my pride. I ended up being covered shoulder to toe with mud on the one side of me, so spent a minute trying to remove the worst of it. This was the only time on that day that I was thankful that it was raining, as it aided in getting most of the mud off.

Of course several runners were coming down the hill behind me and witnessed the whole thing. They were kind enough, between their chuckling, to ask if I was okay. In any case I made it a point to quickly get back to running. I actually ran the next 10 minutes without stopping, probably hoping to leave any snickering runners behind me. With less than 2K to go I took a short walk break as the trail again headed up a small (and very slippery) hill.

As I came down the other side I saw the first signs of the town of Rengsdorf, and shortly after passed the 49K marker – 1K to go. My legs were rubbery as I slowly ran the last kilometer, I had hoped for a stronger finish, but by this time was just plain happy to have the run over with.

No one was around as I crossed the finish line. I walked for a couple minutes, then hobbled over to the swimming pool building to turn in my running card. Of course this entailed walking down two flights of stairs which my legs were totally thrilled with. Right away I saw the twosome from Duisburg, they had arrived 45 minutes ahead of me, young studs! After congratulatory handshakes and best wishes I made my way over to present my running card and get my finisher certificate and medal.

The hot water in the hotel was still not working so my wife brought my gym bag and showered at the swimming pool. It was better this way anyway as I had dragged half the mud from the forest back with me. We sat and enjoyed some hot soup, a beer or two and some the company of other runners until the cold air got the best of us (the swimming pool was outside, the table under a roof, but not heated).

Race Summary

The 50K run took place in one of the most beautiful areas that I have ever had the privilege to run. The Westerwald National Forest is incredible, the winding paths, trails and roadways. The thick forests, streams, and surroundings breathtaking. The organizers of the Westerwald 50K run in Rengsdorf pride themselves in offering a challenging run in one of the more beautiful areas of Germany. I certainly can’t argue with either one of these points.

The run was tough, as I knew it would be. As usual I went out harder then I planned on, but this time I just kept going, walking when I felt the need to, but always progressing forward. There really was no point in time where I thought that I couldn’t finish, I had faith in myself and my training and knew that I would finish even if I had to walk in. The real fight was to keep running when my legs wanted to walk – I think this is the area where I need more training or more experience.


After another evening with no heat in the hotel room and another cold shower this morning we decided to come home early. The hotel manager noted our discomfort and gave us a 20% discount and an excellent breakfast. As we drove away it was still raining...

50K = Mission Accomplished

We just got home a few minutes ago, so I'll just give you a few quick facts. It rained, it rained, and rained some more. It was 8C/45F, cold, windy, and did I say it rained. The trails were slick with mud, the hills steeper than I had imagined, some of the downhills downright brutal and merciless. I came, I fought - the trail and the weather beat me to a pulp, but in the end I conquered - 6:23:11! I'll try to get the full report finished today!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I was just thinking...

...about how much I hate the last 24 hours before a big race. It’s kinda like the last half-hour before the start, but stretched out for a longer time. You know you have done everything possible to get ready, you just waiting around, twiddling your fingers, waiting for someone to say “Okay you can run now!”. There is a little nervousness involved, but actually it more impatience than anything. It’s a little bit like when I fly home to my parents in New York. I rush to the airport to get checked in, clear customs and then – wait and wait, can’t we just get on the plane and go!

And I’m always hyped up before a race too. I mean normally I train so much that I’m pretty much reined in with fatigue to some degree or another. But after a couple weeks of tapering my race glands are flowing and I have zillions of race ideas flowing through my head.

I try to avoid online race listings during this time – I never know when I will sign up for a marathon, ultra, or worse during this spastic time. I was one click away from submitting my application for an 80K Ultra last night – the one on June 24th. The only thing that stopped me was the thought of my wife’s reaction – “What, you haven’t even lived through your 50K yet!”.

I can imagine that my wife kinda hopes that I will end up crawling over the finish line tomorrow with my last breath, collapsing onto the nearest stretcher – because she has pretty much figured out that if I arrive with too much energy that I will no longer be satisfied with “just” 50K.

My wife knows me, oh how she knows me! In any case I will have a good 6-7 hours tomorrow to think about how I can talk her into supporting an 80K (50 mile) race adventure. Or maybe those hills will kick my butt and leave me whining and licking my wounds, stay-tuned...

p.s. Blogger is messing around with me again, first I couldn't post this, then it posted twice - blah!

Ready to Run!

Two things, before I get started.

1) Thank you everyone for your well wishes and encouragement, it truly means the world to me!!!
2) Tomorrow is Father's Day in Germany and I want to dedicate my run tomorrow to my dad who just turned 85 a few days ago. You're still my hero dad!

So all my bags are packed, I'm ready to go, I'm standin' here outside your door, I hate to wake you up to say goodbye – and although I’m not leaving on a jet plane, I am anxiously waiting for work to end so that I can pick up my wife and we can drive to Rengsdorf, a small town on the border of Rhineland-Pfalz and Hessen near Koblenz. The trip will probably take around 2½ hours if we don’t end up stuck in any long traffic jams (normal in Germany).

I am hoping to arrive in Rengsdorf early enough to scope out the town a little bit. It looks like a fairly small town, so I think this won’t take too long. In any case the race start is supposed to be about a 10 minute walk from the hotel.

Last night I took a 35 minute run around the outskirts of our town to loosen up a little – I am a bit stiff from so much tapering. For the second night in a row I had a deep 7½ sleep, so feel rested and ready to tackle my first 50K.

The race starts at 8 a.m. (2 a.m. in NY) tomorrow (Ascension Day and also Father’s Day in Germany). The 50K race is pretty low key, the term “race” is used rather loosely as this is more of a “fun run” then a competitive event. The very nature of the terrain suggests endurance rather than speed. Many of the participants (74 are signed up so far) use this event as a final training run for the Biel 100K Ultra in June.

There is a mass start - I can picture someone just saying “Okay, you can run now!”, and at the finish line you have to write down your own time on your card when you finish. There are 5 checkpoints where you have to stop and get start card stamped, pretty low tech.

I plan on running very conservatively, my only goal being to reach the finish on my feet. From various race reports that I have read, walking breaks are the norm – several of the uphill climbs are so steep (and long) that only the elite even try to keep running. I have trained with walk breaks in mind, so know I can keep running after walking. I would like to finish as close to 6 hours as possible, but I think this is an event where I need to listen to my body more than look at my watch.

In any case we are coming back on Friday night so I will at least try to let you know how I did by then. Catch you on the flip side!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Packing for Race Day

The race on Thursday is far enough from our house to where we will be staying overnight the night before, so I packed my running bag with everything (anything) that I could possibly need. As the weather people can’t seem to meet an agreement as to whether it is going to be hot, cold, wet, dry, windy or whatever I got them all covered! Long-sleeve, short-sleeve, shorts, long pants, rain jacket, hat, gloves, I got half my wardrobe packed. Running shoes? Two pairs ready to go! Water, sports drink, sports bars, snacks, sugar, salt – I got it covered – glad we have a station wagon to carry it all. Now if I can only remember to put my bag in the car on Wednesday afternoon ;-)

My wife has night school tonight so I cooked up a pile of spaghetti for tomorrow night and Wednesday afternoon (and probably enough for the rest of the week too). Pasta is covered, there’s hamburger in the spaghetti sauce, salad in the fridge, fruit everywhere you look – pre-race food is covered. Check!

I checked the car out yesterday, fluids are good, I only need to stop and top off the tank tomorrow night. I have the route to Rengsdorf all mapped out, 220 kilometers, roughly a 2-3 hour drive depending on traffic. The hotel is booked, I have a map of the town, the race Start is a 10-minute walk from the hotel. Check!

So tomorrow when I come home from work I want to take a 20 minute jog, then finish packing. We hope that we can leave work a little early on Wednesday so we can avoid rush hour. Thursday is a holiday in Germany (Ascension Day) so a lot of people are taking a long weekend = oodles of traffic!

Tick, tick, tick...

...tick, tick, tick,...goes the countdown clock in my head. I remember counting down to my first marathon - it about drove me mad. I have been trying not to think about my 50K race on Thursday, but tick, tick, tick...

It really is not a question of being nervous about finishing, I am ready - I just finished a marathon on April 30th with energy to spare, I’ve had lots of good training runs since then, I’ve tapered like a good boy, I’ve been watching my eating, have been sleeping good the last couple nights and have nothing to prove on race day – I only need to finish. As long as I keep a cool head and don’t run into any trees I’ll be fine.

So what’s the problem? I asked myself this as I rode the train and streetcar to work this morning. I have come to the conclusion that I am greedy, I am attempting to hoard as many races as I can. I look at a race schedule and drool like a kid in a candy store.

I’ve reached the point in my running where I can run a 10K, HM or maybe even a marathon on a whim. Granted we are not talking PR’ing here, but it is still a tremendous feeling. But on the other side, it is also frustrating because I know my eyes are bigger than my stomach, or to put it in a running perspective, my body could never keep up with all the race ideas that are flowing through my head, especially during my tapering.

I mean I almost let myself get talked into running an 8.2K (5M) race on this Saturday (yeah, like he really twisting my arm), barely two days after my 50K race. And then there’s the HM on June 5th, and another one on June 18th. And let’s not forget all the 10K races in June. I was even looking over the race route for the 80K/50M Fidelitas Night Run on June 24th and drooling all over my desk..if only my wife new of the extent of my running disorder :-O

Mannheim Marathon Cancelled!

A friend of my mine was going to run the Mannheim Team marathon on Saturday. He was among the over 8000 runners who lined up at the start line in the wind and the rain. As the wind speed increased, race officials delayed the race an hour, then cancelled it completely. Sections of the marathon route were scattered with trees and branches and the wind speed on the bridges had reached hurricane levels. The safety of the runners could no longer be guaranteed so the event was cancelled.

Having run this marathon last year, I can verify that high winds would have been brutal, there are lots of open roads and bridges. But can you imagine training for so long and then having the rug pulled out from under you as you line up for the start of the event!

My friend said that the runner’s were very unhappy about the decision, the majority angrily whistling and shouting when the announcement was made. What really added salt to the wounds was that the stormed cleared soon afterward and the sun came out.

This morning a local Mannheim newspaper reported that a local 10K race held in a neighboring town was overwhelmed on Sunday by frustrated marathoners looking to “run any race around”.

Have a nice week!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Bike a little, run a little.

After lunch today it was a cool, very windy, but sunny 19C/66F. My wife was working on her homework for her Business English class, so I decided to take a bicycle ride. I rode on the asphalt bike trails separating some of the neighboring town, then came back along my running route, riding around 20K/12M. My wife was still studying, so I decided to get my run over with. I headed out over my normal running route, turning back after around 4K. I finished the 8.4K/5.2M round with an average pace of 5:40/K (9:07/M), a nice relaxed pace.

In any case my 50K race is coming up on Thursday morning (a holiday in Germany – Ascension Day). Tuesday I want to take a 20 minute jog, but otherwise I will be chilling out the best I can until the race. I am really looking forward to the race, am slightly nervous, but I know if I concentrate on going out slow and take it easy on the uphill sections I will be fine. I’m not really interested in setting any records, I just want to take it easy and finish. Early weather reports are calling for a mild 21C/70F and partly cloudy, which would be just about right.

We’ll see what happens. Have a great week!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

A Hilly 11-12K Run

In preparation for my 50K race next Thursday (25th) I decided to do my Saturday morning run last night. When I arrived home from work at 4 p.m. last night it was 20C/68F and the sky was turning black, I thought for sure a thunderstorm would soon be upon us. I quickly changed and drove to Weingarten, two town’s southeast of us, where I would run my hilly route. My goal was one loop, which normally takes 1:16:00, or around 11-12K (7M).

As I warmed up the sky started to clear and the sun came out, no rain. As I started running the clouds pretty much dissipated, leaving a clear blue sky, cool temperatures, and sunshine. After a 5 minute warm-up on a relatively flat dirt road, I turned and headed up the mountain. I felt fresh and strong, fly up the twisting road and gravel paths like a mountain goat. I flew over the top of the mountain, feeling powerful and energized - when I think back to the first time I ran this route in the Spring, the huffing, puffing and gasping – I’ve come a long way!

I continued my loop, over the rolling hills, down the mountain and up the second major climb – again tackling this with relative ease. From here it was another mile or two of rolling hills, then downhill all the way. The last mile was a gentle downhill stretch, approx. a mile long, I remembered my promise to Rae and flew down this joyful, dirt-covered stretch for Brent – Happy Birthday man!

I finished the loop 9 minutes faster than normal, partly because I didn’t take the two 3-minute walk breaks that I normally do, and mostly because I was just hyped and full of energy.

On Sunday I want to run a 8K/5M loop and Tuesday a gentle 20 minute jog around the fields. We are driving to Rengsdorf, just above Koblenz, where the race is held after work on Wednesday. Thursday is Ascension Day in Germany, a holiday. We are also taking a vacation day on Friday and staying an extra night.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Random Bloggering from a Tapering Madman

Last night was a rest night and I did…absolutely nothing, I sat in my home office and caught up on my genealogy e-mails, budget etc. My wife sat at her desk and updated her resume and filled out a job application for a new job she is trying to get (wish her luck). My major physical activity for the night was mounting a new water bottle holder on my bicycle.

Random Bloggerings

- I admit that I get amused easily, or perhaps it is taper madness, but I thought the following film “Evolution of Dance” by Judson Laipply was hilarious:

- I want to run the Karlsruhe Fidelitas Night Run 80K/50M Ultra next June!

- I wouldn’t mind running the above 80K/50M Ultra THIS June (24th), but don’t know if I want to do this to myself yet!

- I have been thoroughly enjoying the blogs and website from Jason Grose (codename Viper) over the last couple months. The blog contains “The daily thoughts/rants of a Marine Officer, father, scholar, husband, marathon runner, Flash cartoonist, computer nerd.”

I highly recommend his running blog where you will find great reports on his marathon and ultramarathon races. While Jason is not an "Elite" runner, he is an awesome runner - his race reports totally leave me enticed to do what he has done. Jason is also an extremely talented writer that I hope will one day sit down and write a book about his adventures.

- So I want to do a few more runs before my race next Thursday. Tonight (Friday) I am going to drive to Weingarten and run a lap on my hilly route, which will take about 1:15:00. Sunday I want to run another 5 miles and on Tuesday about 5 kilometers. I will probably squeeze in an hour at the pool on one of the non-running days. Wednesday after work we are heading out to Rengsdorf where the race will be held, about a 3-hour drive.

Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

50K Race Prediction

Last night was a sunny, humid 26C/79F as I headed out for a repeat of the 8.4K/5.2M loop that I did on Monday. My legs were a little stiff from the bike/swim brick that I did on Tuesday night, so I kept the pace down some, averaging 5:42/K (9:10/M). The run ended way too soon, or seemingly. Normally I run at least 14K/8.7M on Wednesdays, so the run last night was short for me. I was also thinking a lot about my upcoming 50K race next Thursday (a holiday - Day of Ascension), so was running spaced out most of the time.

A couple nights ago I sat down with the elevation plan for the 50K race to try to estimate where and when I need to take walk breaks. I figure I will probably need to walk some of the tougher hill climbs, so charted approximately where the walk breaks would probably begin and end. Assuming a worst case scenario where I would need to walk up ALL the major hills, here is the list of the parts I would need to run and walk:

KM 0 to 4.5 – Run
KM 4.5 to 8.0 – Walk
KM 8.0 to 12.5 – Run
KM 12.5 to 13.5 – Walk
KM 13.5 to 15.5 – Run
KM 15.5 to 16.5 – Walk
KM 16.5 to 17.5 – Run
KM 17.5 to 19.0 – Walk
KM 19.0 to 22.0 – Run
KM 22.0 to 23.5 – Walk
KM 23.5 to 25.5 – Run
KM 25.5 to 26.5 – Walk
KM 26.5 to 33.0 – Run
KM 33.0 to 33.5 – Walk
KM 33.5 to 41.5 – Run
KM 41.5 to 44.0 – Walk
KM 44.0 to 47.0 – Run
KM 47.0 to 47.5 – Walk
KM 47.5 to 50.0 – Run

This works out to running 37K (23M) and walking 13K (8M). If I can maintain an average running pace of 6:30/K (10:28/M) and an averaging walking pace of 10:30/K (16:54/M) than this would mean I would need 4:00:30 + 2:16:30 or 6 hours and 17 minutes to complete my 50K. How’s that for some geek predictions, huh!

Here’s the elevation chart that I used. The numbers on the bottom are kilometers, the height on the left in meters. The “V” numbers are the aid stations, the “T” numbers are tea stations, e.g. just something to drink.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


When I got home from work at 4 p.m. last night it was a humid 24C/75F and the storm clouds were brewing. I sat around for a nanosecond trying to decide if I wanted to go to the swimming pool. My wife needed the car for a doctor’s appointment (checkup), so decided to take my bike to the next town, Blankenloch, and use their smaller 25-meter pool. This is only a 7K bike ride as opposed to 14K/8.7M to the larger (50-meter) pool in Karlsruhe. In any case I had to ride along several fields, fighting a stiff wind most the way to the pool – good training. I did a quick 800 meters, 500 freestyle, 300 breaststroke – then changed quickly and headed home. The way back was much faster as I was flying with the wind, I made it back to my house just as the first drops of rain began to fall. It was a very satisfying night of cross-training.

My tapering so far has left me feeling very positive and energetic. The only side effect is that I have been having trouble falling asleep the last couple nights. During normal training weeks I am worn out enough that I usually fall asleep instantly. I hope that my sleep pattern returns to normal soon, especially at the beginning of next week. Happy training!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

No Taper Madness, but lots on my mind...

I am fairly relaxed about my first 50K next week (May 25th). I know it will be probably be the most challenging run that I have ever faced due to the hill climbs. It will also be the longest run that I have tried to date. But this is my first 50K, so I am just going to put one foot in front of the other and see how it goes.

I have lot’s of race ideas for the rest of the year, ranging from mild to madness. Here is a sampling:

1) July HM, September M, October HM, December HM, January (2007) 50K

2) July M, September M, October M, December HM, January (2007) 50K

3) June HM, June 50K (not timed), July M, September M, October M, December HM, January (2007) 50K

4) June 80K, July M, September M, October M, December HM, January (2007) 50K

I’m already signed up for the September 10th Rhineland-Pfaltz Forest Marathon.

The June 50K is a wandering (or volksmarch), e.g. it is not timed and probably would not count as an ultra in most people’s books. In my opinion 50K is 50K, especially when there are no (or minimum?) service points and you have to carry everything with you.

The June 80K race is the Karlsruhe Fidelitas Night Run, an official ultra with a 16 hour cut-off. My hilly running route actually follows part of this course, it is not an easy course compared to most in our area. There is no way that I can be properly trained by June for this race. However, this does not mean that I will eliminate it from my list. If my wife is supportive I may just go for the guts and the glory. But first we’ll see how the 50K goes.

There are several 65K ultras around that I could try, including a Night Run that I talked about in the last week. Most of them have 9 hour cut-offs which at my current speed and endurance level is really pushing it. I think I need to build up a year before I seriously consider these.

My instinct is that I will probably run into a time problem and will end up going with option 1 or 2 above.

Other things on my list for the summer:

- Get back on my diet: current weight 74kg/163lbs. – goal weight about 68kg/150lbs.
- Work on upper body fitness (e.g. weight training).
- Continue to learn the freestyle (2007 Tri?).
- Continue to build endurance.

So what's on your list for the rest of the year?

Monday, May 15, 2006

My New Asics GT2110

I forgot to mention how my new Asics GT2110 fared on their first run. I only ran around 8K/5M, about 2/3 of my normal run, but they felt comfortable from the start, just as new running shoes should feel. Of course the true test will be when I take them out on a longer run - but this will happen first after my 50K race.

I also tried out a shorter pair of running short like those I see so many runners wearing at races. I usually stick to longer running shorts, typically spandex-type material because I've never had chaffing problems with these. But I recently bought a couple new pairs of sythetic material short shorts to see if chaffing would be an issue. Despite the shorter run my legs were already starting to chaff - not good. I'll try them again on another run together with Body Glide, if the chaffing problem continues they go in summer clothes closet - which will be too bad as they are really comfortable otherwise.

A Faster, Shorter Tempo Run

Tonight was warm, overcast and a humid 27C/81F as I headed out the door for a tempo run. I was wearing my new black Asics GT2110 running shoes and new short running shorts to test.

I quickly picked up the pace my first 4 kilometer splits approx. as follows:

KM 1 = 5:30/K (8:51/M)
KM 2 = 5:00/K (8:03/M)
KM 3 = 4:50/K (7:47/M)
KM 4 = 4:45/K (7:39/M)

After kilometer 4 I turned off my regular path so was no longer sure of the kilometer markings. I also slowed down a little as my side was starting to hurt.

I rejoined my normal running trail for the last 3 kilometers

Last KM – 2 = 5:15/K (8:27/M)
Last KM – 1 = 5:00/K (8:03/M) – my side felt better so I picked up the pace again.
Last KM = 5:00/K (8:03/M)

I estimate that I ran a total of about 8.4K (5.2M), give or take a few hundred meters. In any case, a tempo run at almost 10K race pace.

I had Matt over at igotblistersonmyblisters ask me if I do any weight training as part of my cross-training. When I’m not tapering I try to do this at least twice a week, yes. It is not my favorite thing to do, so I am not as regular as I should be. I work primarily with free weights (low weight, more rep’s) and do lots of push-ups, crunches, sit-ups, and such. The main reason I use free weights is because the fitness studio fees are more than I can justify paying at the present time, not because I necessarily prefer them.

Oh The Lazy Days of Tapering

Yesterday I took another rest day, part of my tapering plan. My wife and I went to a friend’s steam locomotive club for lunch. The club has a scaled-down steam locomotive and train, complete with tracks etc. Once a month during the warmer months they have a ride day where they offer rides to kids (of all ages) for a small fee. The weather was good, the food okay, and the time with our friends fabulous.

My tapering is in full swing, I feel fat and lazy, pigging out yesterday didn’t help. With my race 10 days away I have to slow down with my running (and my eating). Tonight and Wednesday I want to do a 45 minute run. On Saturday I will probably do one loop on my hilly training route (1 hour 15 minutes). I guess next Tuesday will be my last run before the race on Thursday – I’ll probably run for 30-45 minutes. I will also mix in some swimming and maybe some lower mileage bike riding so the joints don’t get rusty.

Have a nice week and happy running!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

A 2 1/2 Hour Hilly Run

This morning I went for a medium long run, about 2½ hours, or two loops of my hilly route in the neighboring town of Weingarten. I tried to take it a little easier today with my 50K race coming up on May 25th.

The temperature was 14C/57F as I started out, rising to 19C/67F by the time I drove home. It rained through the night and humidity was super high, I was drenched with sweat in a short time. Luckily I had filled my CamelBak so had plenty to drink with me. I really felt the high humidity on the uphill climbs, sweat was dripping like a waterfall along these stretches, whew.

While running I felt that I am not totally recovered from my marathon, long run, and fast race last Saturday. I’m going to cut my running down some more over the next 12 days before the 50K to ensure that I am in good shape for the race.

I was surfing the internet last night looking over races coming up the next few months. There are so many possibilities at almost any distance. I am wondering how much I should be pushing. I have been training pretty hard the whole winter and up to now. I am wondering if I should slow down and just train for my marathon in September, or keep the rhythm going and look for another marathon or ultra this year. I think things will be a little clearer after my 50K.

Friday, May 12, 2006

A Running Shoe Shopping Tale

So 13 days to go until my first 50K, I am pretty excited about it. With my marathon a week and a half ago I was pretty cool about the whole thing, I knew I would complete it without any major problems. I am slightly nervous about the 50K, but mostly I think this is a result of tapering and the associated “losing my mindness” that accompanies this.

With having run almost 1200 kilometers (745 miles) so far this year another pair of running shoes (Adidas) hit the trash can this week with almost 900K/560M on them. My wife suggested meeting her in Karlsruhe (the city near us) after work and going to Runner’s Point to pick up a new pair. Being Taper Mad I didn’t argue with her, so took the street car from work to her work in Karlsruhe and we made our way over to the store (almost across the street from her work).

I was hoping to find another pair of Asics GT2100, but all they had was the new model GT2110. Despite the sales person telling me that they were almost the same, I remained skeptical and decided to look around some more. I checked out two other sports shops in Karlsruhe with the same results. My wife remembered that we saw a pair of GT2100 at a shoe store in Stutensee-Blankenloch, the town just south of us, so we decided to stop there on the way home.

Well I did indeed find one of the last pair of GT2100’s on the planet (seemingly), and at a lower price than in Karlsruhe! While talking to the sales person at the shoe store I found out she is an avid runner and Nordic walker. She was also wearing a pair of GT2100’s! I decided to ask her about the difference between the GT2100 and the new GT2110. She mentioned that the middle sole has changed somewhat, now offering a little more support than the previous model. She had me try on a pair and I really could feel no difference between the GT2100 and the GT2110.

So I’m sitting there trying to decide which one to buy and my dear, sweet wife spoke words of love “Why don’t you just get both, you’ll wear one pair out in a couple months anyway!” So I have my third pair of Asics GT2100’s on the shelf and a pair of black GT2110’s – I mean who am I to argue ;-)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Diet Status

I haven’t talked about my diet in a long time – not because I’ve been off it and have sprouted into glutton-Jack the ravish of every fast food joint in town, but rather because I am stuck on my marathon training plateau. The last few months I have hovered around 74kg/163lbs. with very little movement in either direction. On the positive side this means I have succeeded in fuelling a marathon and 50K training regime without ballooning out of proportion, but on the other side I am still 13 pounds shy of my final weight loss goal.

So after my 50K race in two weeks it’s back to losing weight before my next marathon training kicks in (sigh).

In any case I think overall I am eating much healthier than I ever have in my life. Most of the time I resist inhaling junk, high-fat, high-sugar, worthless (but good tasting) foods, alchoholic beverages or other assorted poisons. I do occasionally have some cake to keep from going through withdrawl, but either lighten up on stuffing myself with other high calorie foods or run some extra miles on these dark days to balance out things. So far so good, I'm only afraid to stop running because I know I'll end up balooning into the Pillsbury doughboy in a matter of hours.

First 50K = Two Weeks and Counting

After work yesterday it was a pleasant 21C/70F as I headed out over my 14K/8.7M flatland loop. My legs are still not totally recovered from all the running from last week, so I tried to keep the pace conservative. I ended up with an average pace of 5:40/K (9:07/M).

During the run last night my body let me know that it needs more time to recover from the roughly 104K/65M that I fed it last week. Looking back I should have stayed home on Sunday and put my feet up, rather than cycling and swimming.

In any case I am taking tonight and tomorrow night off from any training. Saturday morning I want to do a shorter long run, maybe 2-2½ hours, I’ll know better when I get out there.

Two weeks and roughly an hour from now is my 50K race. I use the term race loosely as most of the race reports that I have read about the event indicate it is really non-competitive, more of a family get-together of ultra freaks in Germany. Sounds like a challenging (due to the hill climbs), friendly, and low stress entry into the ultra running world. I feel kind of nervous, like with my first marathon. But my marathon a week ago was good proof that my training has been quite effective, I just need to trust my body to carry me through and not freak out when Terrible Tapering Tommy starts whispering doubt in my ear. Happy running!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Running Fever (or Taper Madness?)

I was doing good this week, calm, cool, concentrated...until my coworker asked me today whether our company would sponsor a team for the Baden half-marathon in September. Our company already said they would only sponsor the Baden Mile and one 10K run in October – anything else we had to take care of ourselves. But this conversation erupted into a lengthy discussion on training, running, etc., in other words, all concentration was lost for the rest of the morning.

So than it was back to the grind after lunch - I was deep in the middle of copying some corrections to a Spanish version of a manual into my desktop publishing program (I don't understand much Spanish), when boom the next question came. This time another coworker asked me if I was interested in running a 65K/41M night run in July, from Baiersbronn to Baden-Baden in the Black Forest.

Of course my reflex was "Yeah, where, when, what?"

An hour later we figured out it is a fundraising run on July 7th limited to 50 people. Participants start at 10 p.m. on a Friday night and run through the night as a group, averaging about an 8:30/K (13:40/M) pace. It is slated as a beginning ultra-friendly fun run, the pace will depend on the slowest participant. The group is invited to a breakfast buffet at the finish line.

Hmmm, is that too near my 50K? I wonder how I can talk my wife into this one?? Well, first I'll see how the 50K goes, then we'll see...

¡Así pues, de nuevo a trabajo!

Swim Night & Post-Race Plans

First I would like to address a couple question that arose over the last couple days.

50K Training – I have been running my long runs on hilly terrain where the highest climb was 125 meters over about a kilometer. This is about a third of what I will face at the 50K – but it was the largest hill in my area. The rest of the training trail is very similar to the surface I will be running on at the fifty - namely dirt trails and gravel paths. I anticipated (and trained) walking up the more aggressive hills during the 50K, so I should do okay if I don’t get too ambitious during the first half.

Gardening – Yes this was a hard decision, I really love growing my own veggies. We have a space behind our house where we can sit in the sun, but it is all tiled (cobblestones). My wife does have a herb garden growing in containers and I am building a couple growing beds where I can at least plant some salad fixings. In a few years we may look around for a garden closer to home, but no hurry.

Swim Night

Last night I stopped at the pool and swam 1000 meters, 700 freestyle and 300 breast stroke. My freestyle is really at the kindergarten level, I really need a class, I expend a serious amount of energy with each lap – I really feel it in my shoulders and arms.

So in two weeks and a tomorrow is my 50K race (May 25th). I am excited and nervous about it. My only goal is to finish, which I am very confident that I can do. Due to the numerous hill climbs I am expecting that I will need 6 hours, but 7 would be okay too. The weather is up in the air at this point, in past years it has ranged from 40-80°F, so anything goes.

I am officially tapering, which for me means reducing mileage. Tonight I will probably run my 14K/8.7 mile route and on Saturday morning a two hour hill run. Next week will probably consist of an 8K, 14K and a one hour hill run. The last few days before the race I will do a short run and maybe a jog.

Post-Race Plans

I really haven’t look into the future, e.g. post-race, as far as what is next on my race agenda. I am registered for a country marathon in September, which will be very similar to the one I just completed.

A triathlon will probably not happen this year – my swimming is still too weak. I need 4 minutes per hundred meters on a good day, or around 20 minutes to complete 500 meters. The sprint tri’s in our area have a 500 meters swim. The slowest participant completed their swim in 14:35 last year, so I still have a lot of work to do before I take on a Tri. I also need to learn to ride my bike fast (and need a new bike). So, I have basically put a Tri at the bottom of the pile.

I am really tempted to do another training marathon in July in Buehlertal in the Black Forest on July 23rd. This marathon has only 2K of asphalt, the rest is forest trails, dirt roads and gravel paths. I did the half marathon at this site for the last two years, it is not a flatland run! The marathon basically goes down for 25K and back up the rest of the race (low point 675 meters, high point 890 meters).

I also will do several 10K races over the next couple months, and maybe a HM or two. The possibilities are only limited by the time that I have available.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Time to Put a Hobby on the Shelf

After 11 years we have finally decided that our garden and membership in the Weingarten Garden Club no longer has a place in our schedules. So the garden is gone, passed onto a loving couple who have adopted it and hopefully will continue to feed it with love and fertilizer and keep it clean and blooming.

We both love gardening, but the garden is 11K from our house and with rising gas prices and stretched schedules something had to give. We will miss the garden and our garden friends in the club.

So as we close this chapter of our life we look forward to channelling our time and resources in our other hobbies and parts of our life. Goodbye garden (sniff), you have been such a part of our life, we're going to miss you...

Profile of my upcoming 50K race

Matt asked me about the elevation for my upcoming 50K race on May 25th, so I decided to post the profile chart that I found on the race website. The "V" followed by a number are the aid stations (Verpflegung in German).

Please note the height on the left is in meters, the distance in kilometers:

A 12-13K Recovery Run

After a very trying first day back to work I was primed and ready to go for a run last night. Despite a gentle pace I was still feeling all the mileage I put in last week as I made my way over the first couple kilometers. My body was stiff and my overall energy level less than normal. I kept the pace down and decided to shorten my normal 14K/8.7M run by a mile or so. With 16 days until my 50K it is time to start reducing mileage anyway. Tonight I want to stop at the pool on the way home from work and do some laps. I expect that I will be working late so I will probably have to limit the number of laps as well, but we’ll see. Have a great week!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Cross-training Pure!

Yesterday was my first offical day of tapering, my plan was to kick my feet up and relax the whole day. By noon my wife, who was trying to study for her evening class, suggested that I go swimming or something rather than pace around the house all day.

So I hopped on my bicycle and rode the approx. 14K/8.7M to the swimming pool in Karlsruhe and went swimming. The pool was fairly empty so I decided to practice my freestyle. I ended up swimming 600 meters freestyle (no breaks) and 400 meters breaststroke.

So I ended up with 28K (over 17 miles) on the bike and 1000 meters swimming – better than sitting around the house and snacking!

Tonight I have a 14K/8.7M recovery run on the schedule, Wednesday a slightly faster version of the same route and Saturday around a 2-2½ hour long run.

My next race is the 50K race on May 25th.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The 17th Annual Baden Mile: Race Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The 17th Annual Baden Mile Race: Preliminary Results

Despite running a marathon 6 days ago and a 3 1/2 hour training run yesterday, I still managed to shave off a roughly 45 seconds off my record for the Karlsruhe Baden Mile Race. This race is an 8.88889K (5.52M) race through the streets of Karlsruhe, the largest city near us here in Germany. A complete race report will follow tomorrow. Have a great weekend.

Friday, May 05, 2006

A 3:30:00 Long Run

You know you’re a runner when you get up at 5 a.m. on your vacation to run your long run – at least that’s what I read somewhere. This is also what I did this morning, up at 5:00 and on the run by 5:50 in the neighboring town of Weingarten where my hilly route is. If you have been reading my blog you might realize that I just ran a marathon 5 days ago – so I was about as uncertain as any of you on how far I should run this morning.

I started out nice and easy on my first loop. You might recall the loop consists of a 6-7 minute warm-up on semi-flat forest paths, a 7-8 minute hill climb, 30-40 minutes of rolling hills, another 6-7 minute hill climb, more rolling hills, then finally a rapid downhill stretch back to the “start”. I usually finish a loop in around 1:15:00-1:20:00.

So anyway, the first loop went well, I felt good, just like a well-oiled machine. The second loop also went well, albeit a few minutes slower. I made it back to the “start” after about 2:36:00, not too bad of a time, and I still felt good enough to run some more. At this point I had to make a decision whether to keep going. Tomorrow is the annual 8.88889K Baden Mile race that I do with a group from my company and it is very competitive. On the other side today is probably my last long run before my 50K on May 25th, so it was important for me to get the time in.

I quickly decided that my priority was my training and headed up the hill again, the Baden Mile be damned. The third time up the mountain was hard, but I ran all the way up, no easy road for this dude. After reaching the top I had about 40 minutes left (to complete my planned 3:30:00 run) so calculated about where I needed to turn off the normal loop to make it back to the car. I arrived at the car by 3:26:00, so turned around and ran 2 minutes out and then back again to bring me over the 3:30:00 cutoff. After 5 minutes of walking and a lot of stretching I headed home, totally satisfied with my training run.

My legs are kind of sore as I write, but in a good way. Tomorrow I am going to the race and jog to the finish – my coworkers can pick on me if they want – I know what I accomplished this week :-)

So next week it’s back to work, I’m sure by Monday night I will be stressed enough to where I need to run again. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A 14K Tempo Run

Yesterday afternoon we had beautiful 28C/83F weather, sunny, light breeze, blue sky – a great day for a run. My wife had an evening class last night so I suited up and was out the door about 4 p.m. My goal was to try to maintain around a 5:45/K (9:18/M) pace for my 14K/8.7M loop. The first kilometer went a lot slower than this, I was quite stiff from climbing up and down the ladder all day on Tuesday. But as I warmed up the stiffness left and I was able to pick up the pace. I completed the first 10K in 54:45, a respectable pace for me, at least considering I had just run a marathon four days before. The last couple kilometers were tough, I had to push to keep the tempo going. In any case I finished with an average pace of 5:25/K (8:42/M) for the 14K. After cooling down, stretching and eating I was good to go – I wish I had run farther.

Today I went for a 18K/11.2M bike ride in an attempt to find a new running trail. In the end I decided I already am running the best route around, so will continue using this until I find something better.

Tomorrow morning I want to get up early (e.g. 5 a.m.) and run my hilly long run – somewhere between 2-3 hours. As I am technically still recovering from my marathon I want to make sure I don’t overdo it. I am still trying to decide whether to do a two week or three week tapering before my 50K. In the latter case this will mean that tomorrow will be my last long run. It will really depend on how I feel tomorrow as I run.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Painting, Anniversary, and the Next Marathon

Thank you for you comments about the marathon, it really was a beautiful run!

Yesterday my exercise consisted of climbing up and down scaffolding, lifting sandbags, scraping paint, and painting. The paint on our rain trough in front of the house was peeling badly, so it was time to scrape off the old paint and repaint it. We purchased some portable scaffolding a couple months ago for this and other projects. The sandbags add ballast so that the scaffolding doesn’t decide to send Jack flying through the air with the greatest of ease. The only disadvantage to the scaffolding is that it is only two meters wide, which means I had to move it a lot. But mission accomplished, the rain trough is painted, good for another 5-10 years (I hope).

My wife attempted to capture my latest Jack Home Improvement Adventure in the following picture:

Other News:

Today is our 18th wedding anniversary, we have been married a happy 18 years and I still look forward to seeing my better half’s sleepy face every morning :-)

I signed up for my next marathon! Yep, just can’t get enough pain. The next “M” will occur on September 10, 2006 in Pirmasens in the Rhineland-Pfalz. The 1st Annual Pfaelzerwald (Pfalz Forest) Marathon:

“Starts in the city but in a few short minutes, leaves the city streets and enters the soft paths and fresh air of the forest, eventually returning to the trade center in Pirmasens.”

So it appears like there is almost no asphalt after leaving the city – sounds good to me! According to the elevation profile of the route there are three small hill climbs, the largest a 125 meter climb starting at around the 32K point and peaking at the 40K point – so just as I hit the wall I have to climb over it too ;-) Oh, and this with potential temperatures of up to 35C/95F – yes this is my race!

Tonight my wife has an evening class, so I am going to stretch out my sore muscles (from the home improvement yesterday) by running a slow 14K/8.7M loop. Friday morning I plan on finishing off a great two weeks vacation by getting up at 5:00 a.m. and do a hilly long run. Normally, my next long run should be 3 hours and 30 minutes, but having just run a marathon I am not going to be too strict on myself – I have a 50K race in THREE weeks!

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Couple Pictures of the Marathon Start

My wife took a couple pictures of the the town of Egenhausen where my marathon was on Sunday. As Blogger still does not let me post pictures (nothing happens when I press the image button), I am trying to store them on my website and provide an "img" link to them.


A 5 Mile Recovery Run

After a restful 9 hour sleep I woke up this morning feeling pretty good for having run a marathon yesterday. How good? Well, before lunch I went out for a 8K/5M recovery run, at a 6:21/K (10:13/M) pace. After a couple minutes the initial stiffness past and I felt great, I could have easy run my normal 14K route. But I decided not to push my luck and quit after the 8K. I made sure I stretched really well upon my return, and now, after a hearty lunch, I feel amazingly good.

My next run will be on Wednesday, a 14K/8.7M run, again at a conservative pace. On Friday I want to attempt a long run, the exact distance to be determined when I get out there – it depends on my recovery.

So today is a holiday in Germany, plus I still have vacation the rest of the week. Tomorrow, if the weather cooperates, will find me up on a scaffold scraping the old paint off my rain troughs. The paint is chipping so I need to repaint them - there is always something to do around the house.

Happy Runnning!

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