Friday, June 30, 2006

Joy is Going for a Run!

I couldn’t wait anymore, recovery be damned, I had to hit the road last night. It was a beautiful 29C/85F, sunny, warm and the trail was singing a seducing song in the gentle breeze that was blowing…

I rushed home, changed, and headed out the door with probably the biggest, goofiest grin imaginable, and was off. I started out easy and slowly built up my pace as I felt the power and energy flowing through my veins. I finished the last of the 9 kilometers with a sprint to the door - gosh what a good feeling!

In any case, despite my enthusiasm, I managed to keep the overall pace down, I averaged 5:45/K (9:16/M) for the 9K/5.5M.

I did notice that my legs are not fully recovered, so I won’t run again until Sunday. Next week I will start easing my way back into training mode, the first week keeping my pace and distance down, followed by a week of increased distance and finally a week where I try to bring my pace back up to normal. If my body is in agreement I hope to be back on schedule by the third week of July.

IMPORTANT: I will soon be moving from Blogger to – I will let you know when Amazing Jeff has me up and running.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Round and Round we Go

So Thomas obviously thinks I have time on my hands during my recovery, so has tagged me:

4 Jobs I’ve had:

- Farmhand
- Pizza chef
- Bartender
- Grocery manager in a supermarket

4 Movies I watch over and over:

- Streets of Fire
- Dirty Harry
- Predator
- First Blood

4 Places I have lived:

- Ratcliff, KY
- Ettlingen, Germany
- Aberdeen, MD
- Hinesville, GA

4 TV shows I watch:

- CSI Miami
- CSI Las Vegas
- Home Improvement (I am a Tim Allen fan)

4 Places I’ve been on Vacation

- France
- Holland
- Denmark
- Austria

4 Websites I visit every day:

- Bloglines
- Weather
- USA Today

4 Favourite Foods:

- Pasta (any)
- Salads
- Cake
- Lobster

4 Places I’d rather be right now:

- Running
- Norway
- Alaska
- Upstate NY

4 Favorite Bands/Singers:

- Toby Keith
- Brooks and Dunn
- REO Speedwagon
- Charlie Daniels Band

4 Bloggers I’ll tag:

I don’t know who has done this already, so if you feel the urge, just do it!

Taking it Easy

On Tuesday I stopped at the swimming pool on the way home from work and swam some laps, nice and easy, more for enjoyment than training. Last night I dusted off the workbench in my woodworking shop in the shed and started working on a small cupboard for my wife.

It feels really strange not running so much. My recovery is going fabulous, no pains, aches, cramps or other weird things going on. My energy level is high, and quite frankly I am bored to death in a running way. Tonight I am going for a 30 minute jog to see how my body reacts.

Race Plans

On Sunday I have a 10K race, actually two, I still have to decide which one I want to do. The race will be treated as a fun run, no PR-setting pace, just running pure!

I think for the rest of the year my major races will consist of a forest marathon in September and a 50K race at the end of October. My wife is not in disagreement with this, so I think it’s a go. Of course there will be several other shorter races mixed in here and there. But most of these are within a half-hour of the house and can be decided at on the spur of a moment.

My main focus for the rest of the year will be to build up my base and endurance. If my wife finds a job right away then I may have the opportunity for a 100K race in the spring. Thus I need to be ready if the race comes calling! I am going to try to run 4 times a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with some swimming, weight training, hiking and biking thrown in as time allows.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

So Where Am I Running To?

I’m enjoying my successes that I have had with my running the last couple years – I’ve come a long ways! On the other side my marathon DNF in March is a constant reminder that I am only human, that I need to keep a cool head and train smart, and not rush. Since my marathon disaster I have slowed down my race tempo a little and seemed to have found my groove.

I would like to keep going longer and further, I am pretty sure that I could do a 100-miler if I had enough time to train properly. However there are too many hurdles in the way at the moment. My wife’s job contract runs out at the end of the year so she needs to find a new job. With unemployment at a record level in Germany this will be no easy task. With our hefty mortgage we both need to work, particularly since the introduction of the Euro which drove the price of EVERYTHING through the ceiling. So this needs to be the center of our attention for awhile.

Another personal hurdle is that my wife only tolerates my running, nothing more. Without my wife’s full support, training for such a long race, e.g. 100 miles, would be like running a dark mountain trail without a flashlight.

In any case I will still be running some shorter races this year, a few 10K’s, a HM or two, a marathon in September and maybe a 50K in October. My wife is already asking me when I am going to “slow down a little”, so I need to make sure that I don’t get too carried away.

For next year I may be forced to pick fewer (but hopefully longer) races to pacify my better half. In any case this is a delicate issue and I have to be careful in order to maintain peace on the home front.

I have a good tip for those of you whose spouse (or partner) either runs or fully supports your running – give them a hug, maybe some chocolate, whatever – you don’t know how lucky you are!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Me, an Ultramarathoner???

An ultramarathon is any running event longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.195 kilometers (26.2 miles, 45,760 yards).

Ultramarathoner’s are those weird types from some far away planet who run incredible distances, over days, weeks, and who knows how long!

I ran a 43K marathon in April and didn’t even consider that it was technically an “ultramarathon.” I then ran a 50K in May and still didn’t think about it. So this month (June) I ran 50 miles and while I feel good about it, it still didn’t really sink in that I ran an ultramarathon.

But the last two days at work I’ve had at least a half-dozen co-worker’s shake my hand and congratulate me on a good race (I guess they do read my blog). My wife also seems to enjoy bragging at work and at night school about what her “crazy man” - she came home from school last night and told me “Hi from so-and-so and congratulations!” I guess they think I did something special??

I like to run – no I LOVE to run, and I enjoy trying to see how far I can go. My first 50-miler was not easy, but when the smoke cleared I was still standing! That’s a good feeling – no that’s a GREAT feeling!

But I’m trying to remain down-to-earth, I really don't look at myself as an ultrarunner. Some people would be bragging big time by now, but I prefer to remain as obscure as possible – I’m still a penguin runner – the only thing that gets me to the finish line is that I am too thick-headed to quit. And I definetly don't LOOK like an ultrarunner, my spare tire still jiggles, I turn all kinds of shades of red when I run - at least I don't wheez and gasp for air anymore...

Monday, June 26, 2006

A Short Recovery Run

After work today I went for a short 6K/3.5M jog, easy recovery pace, about 6:30/K (10:30/M). My legs were very tight, the quads still a little sore, but after the first 5-10 minutes my legs warmed up and started feeling much better. It was a nice sunny day today, a pleasant 29C/85F, a slight breeze and a pretty blue sky. I took my time and thoroughly enjoyed my run. So now a couple days of rest, then maybe Thursday another jog.

Here is a couple pictures that my wife took at the start. I’m wearing the blue hat and the goofy grin.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Race Report:: 80K Fidelitas Night Run

The general response from most of my family and friends when I said I am participating in the Karlsruhe 80K Fidelitas Night Run was that I was totally off my rocker this time – 50 miles, how can anyone do that?

I slept really well on Friday night, almost 10 hours. After a good breakfast I made sure I had everything laid out for the race, rechecked everything about a zillion times, then tried to relax until it was time to go.

The race started at 5 p.m., so we tried to get there about an hour before to pick up my race number – no. 46 which is the same as my age – a good sign? I waited around until about 10 minutes before, did a few calisthenics to warm the muscles up, then found a shady spot near the start – it was 33C/92F and hot!

A couple minutes before the start of the race the race director announced that we should line up, so I made my way to the back of the pack. A lot of people where talking about how hot it was and that they were just going to take their time today. Being my first 80K race this was my plan anyway, so I figured I would have a lot of company.

So promptly at 5 p.m. we were off, but unlike a marathon there was no sudden rush, participants broke into a gentle trot around the track field – I actually walked the first 50 meters with the back of the pack. We circled around the stadium then exited out into the surrounding forest. The first 8K/5M were at least through the shady forest. After exciting the forest we ran about 4K/2.5M through the larger town of Durlach. I crossed the 10K point in about 1:06:00, a pretty good pace despite the heat.

After leaving Durlach we headed over the hottest portion of the race, an approximately 8K/5M stretch that was entirely over open fields in the blazing sun. I passed several people during this part of the race, they obviously hadn’t done any heat training – they were totally wiped out – I hoped they were only doing the 4-person relay.

There were aid stations setup approx. every 5K/3M along the race course. I made it a point to drink at least 2-3 cups of fluid from the beginning. I also was snacking on some salted pretzels – I think this combination helped me get through the first 20K, that and having done a lot of runs in the heat. In any case I had no problem running this part of the course, there was a slight breeze and it was a very scenic part of the run.

So at the 20K point we started climbing the first hill, I immediately started walking, better to save my energy for later in the race. Everyone else around me was walking too, except for one young lady who had just taken over for her teammate in the relay race (4 x 20K) – she was obviously fresh and ready to make some time.

So over the hill, then run some more, down the hill, aid station, through the town of Johlingen, aid station, then walk up the next hill. The second hill was actually in two stages with some rolling hills on top. I walked all the uphills, as did most around me. It was nearing 8 p.m., but was still hot and humid out. I passed the 30K/18.6M point in about 3:25:00 – 20 minutes ahead of my projected 12-hour finish time.

The rolling hills on top of the plateau we had reached where at least forested and in the shade. As I left the forest and made my way down a long downhill section into the town of Singen most of the sun was blocked by the hill behind me – it cooled things down quite a bit.

I ran through Singen and stopped to eat a little at the aid station at the end of town (36K/24M point) – watermelon, a little banana, some wheat cake (slightly sweet) and lots of sports drink. My legs were starting to hurt a little – so I took 2 aspirin.

From the aid station it was uphill, e.g. walking – one of the steeper climbs of the day. It was shortly before sunset and it had cooled down significantly, making it quite pleasant to trek through the forest up the hill. I took my time and just enjoyed the moment, trying not to think that I wasn’t even halfway’s yet!

After reaching the crest of the hill I ran down into the town of Mutschulbach. There was an aid station just as I entered town and it was well manned with helpers, townspeople and a giant screen TV – World Cup of course! I lingered a few minutes and ate some more wheat cake, reapplied some Vaseline on my toes and continued on.

I knew from my training runs along this route that the next couple miles was a gradual uphill climb to the next town. I did my best to try to run this, taking just one short walk break to climb up the side of a water dam that we crossed. This was also approx. the 26-mile marathon point, and what many veterans of the race called the real halfway point - my time around 5:10:00.

I continued on to the next town, Langensteinbach, running down into the town, then walking most of the hill out of the town. It was dark by this time and I was glad to have the streetlights to show the way. At the end of the town was an aid station at the firehouse where my drop bag was waiting. At this aid station I changed from tank top to short-sleeve running shirt and tied my running jacket around my waist for later – it was still too warm (almost 11 p.m.) for a jacket. I collected my flashlight and continued on.

After a short, but steep, climb out of town the trail leveled off and I was alone in the forest (seemingly). It was kind of spooky running with my headlamp, I was acquainted with this from my winter running and knew I had to keep the pace down and just remain alert so I don’t trip over a stone or something.

I wound my way through the forest coming out the other side and started climbing the hill into Ittersbach. Halfway up the hill was an aid station and I drank some sports drink and finished eating the pretzels that I had with me. The sports drink was a different one from the other aid stations and it was not long before my stomach was revolting. By the time I reached the crest of the hill and made my way down the steep hill into Ittersbach I was loosing air at both ends.

I tried to ignore my discomfort as I ran through town but by the time I climbed out of Ittersbach and made my way to the aid station on top of the hill I felt like I was going to lose everything in the stomach. I chatted with the medic at the aid station and he suggested I drink some coke. I drank two cups then trudged on up the rest of the hill, burping the whole way. After awhile my stomach did settle down and I made it a point to drink more coke during the night.

At the top of the hill the path turned right and I ran down into Langenalb where I promptly got lost. I was trotting along having a grand old time, then all of a sudden realized that I hadn’t seen any course marking or runners lately. So after backtracking for 4-5 minutes I found where I missed a turn and made my way over the little little hill and started the long downhill stretch into Maxzell in the valley below.

This long downhill stretch was through a very dark, thick forest and I didn’t see or hear another runner the whole time. Luckily the dirt trail was well marked, otherwise I would have wondered if I was on the right path. I remember passing the 60K/37M as I snaked my way down the mountain, but I was too busy watching the trail to check my watch. My legs were tired, but so far I had avoided any cramps – 20K to go!

After what seemed like an eternity I arrived at the edge of Marxzell, passing by a coworker’s house – I was tempted to ring his doorbell, but the lights were off. On the other side of town was an aid station where I promptly sat down for the first time all night. After a couple pieces of dry cake and a coke I continued on my way – all downhill or flat from hereon.

I again found myself in the forest following a dirt path. With only light from a headlamp it feels like you are running in a tunnel. It wasn’t too long before I caught up with a man and a woman who were running together. By this time I was running for 10-15 minutes and taking a walk break for 2-3 minutes. They basically were doing the same, but we ended up playing cat and mouse for at least 45 minutes as we kept passing each other.

At the 65K/40M point was an aid station where I again plopped myself on a stool and ate and drank. My legs had been really aching so I took another couple aspirin – this seemed to help control the pain without having any other noticeable side effects.

I continued on with my running and walking until I reached the edge of the town of Ettlingen. Here was another aid station, but this time they only offered water – a sign that the finish is near? I didn’t stay long this time, with around 11K to go I was ready to get this over with. By this time I knew beyond a doubt that I would finish – actually I never allowed myself to think otherwise!

I ran down the same street that Ettlingen uses for their annual 10K race (coming up in a few weeks). It was nice to see a familiar street. After reaching the swimming pool the route wove it’s way through the sleeping town coming out in front of the old Kaserne (military base) where I was stationed for 3 years in the army. Most of the rest of the race was on home ground, I had run this stretch hundreds of times in the military.

With 8K to go I trotted on down the asphalt paths that would lead to the finish line, energized by old memories and accompanied by ghosts of a former lifetime. With 3K to go I passed the last aid station, stopping only to get a glass of water, I could taste that victory beer at the finish line.

I did my best to run most of the last few kilometers to the stadium. After a ¾ loop around the track I finally reached the finish line and the applause of those sitting around the restaurant terrace celebrating their finish. I finished, in 10:19:09, a most satisfying time, Whoohoo!

After collecting my finisher medal I walked my victory round around the track, then sat down and drank my hard-earned beer. I had my cellphone with me so called and woke up my wife so she could come and get me. She was surprised to hear from me so soon.

I finished my beer and walked down (8 stairs – ouch) to collect my certificate. My wife showed up about the same time so we went home.

After returning home and showering (very necessary) I had some leftover pasta and watched TV for awhile. I eventually tried to sleep, but this didn’t work at all. Finally about 8 a.m. I had breakfast and decided to stay up. I end up dozing off on the couch for a few hours around 10 a.m., and feel a little better.

Other than two blisters on my longer toes and some chaffing under my arms I ended up in pretty good shape. My quads, of course, are totally shot – I am trying to avoid stairs like the plague today. But I know this will pass and in a couple days I will start getting restless for the next race. My wife’s comment this morning: “I hope you are satisfied for awhile and can settle down”! If she only knew...

Race Results

I finished in 10:19:09. I'll try to get my race report ready sometime today or tomorrow.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Thank You!

Thank you for your comments, well wishes, tips, and support - I will carry them in my heart all the way to the finish line!

I guess there is only one question that remains to be answered: After I crawl over the finish line sometime Sunday morning, should I really call it my first 50-miler, I mean technically 80 kilometers is only 49.709695379 miles?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

My Last Run before Race Day

Last night I ran one last 9K loop around the fields by our town at recovery pace around 9:15/K (10:00/M). By the end of the run I could tell I haven't run so slow for a long time, my legs were tighter than normal.

So my bags are packed and I’m ready to go. I’ve done everything I can do to prepare for the 80K/50M race in the time that I have had. Nothing left to do now but sleep well, eat well, drink well and wait for the start of the race.

My race strategy is simple: run easy, walk through the aid stations (approx. every 5K), walk up the 6 major hills, and adjust the run/walk ratio as required. Oh, and drink like a fish the whole time because it is supposed to be 32C/90F and humid!

The race starts at 5 p.m. on Saturday and runs through the night. The 16 hour cutoff is at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning.

I put together a sattelite view of the race course here

My goal is to finish under the 16-hour cut-off. My secondary goal is to finish under 12 hours. If I am having a perfect day, maybe 10-11 hours?

In any case, I guess the last 30K/19M will make or break me.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Swim Night, Weather and Webpages

Yesterday was a cooler but humid 27C/81F when I stopped at the swimming pool after work. I witnessed a rather comical display as I began my laps, about 90% of the people at the pool were huddled around the giant TV screen in the snack bar. I mean, it was only German vs. Ecuador, why pay to go swimming and then spend your time watching TV.

In any case I swam through two goals by Germany - obvious from the roaring of the crowd. I think I was the last remaining male in the pool by the second goal, I obviously would not make a good German, good thing I’m proud to be an American!

The weather prediction for Saturday’s 80K race is looking gloom: 33C/92F, sunny and humid – with a chance of rain by Sunday morning. It’s going to be ugly!

I spent the rest of last night working on my webpage which I have neglected for so long. I’m trying to organize some of my favourite race reports, pictures and travel stories for my family and friends. I’ll eventually put a link on my blog when I’m done.

Speaking of the blog, I have decided that I have had enough of, which doesn’t allow me to edit my posts anymore, rarely lets me post a picture and doesn’t always let people comment. I will eventually be moving to a new host, I’ll let you know when it’s time.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Lazy Tapering Days of Summer

Today it was 31C/88F and humid when I went to run at 4:30 p.m. I ran a 9K/5.5M loop at a nice steady 5:30/K (8:52/M) pace. I made it home just as the first sprinkles of rain were falling, which actually felt pretty good as it was so hot and muggy outside.

Tomorrow I want to stop at the swimming pool for some easy laps and on Wednesday I will repeat the 9K loop that I did tonight – but at 80K speed – whatever that is.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Beautiful Summer Weekend

We have had some beautiful weather this weekend clear blue sky, a gentle breeze and around 90F. On Saturday I went for an easy 14K/8.7M run around my normal training loop. Average pace 5:34/K (8:58/M). I wished that I could have run farther, the run felt so effortless.

Today (Sunday) I went for a walk, not a stroll in the park, rather a power walk. I went about 9K, with an average pace of 8:00/K (12:52/M) – fast enough to work up a good sweat in the 89F weather!

Tomorrow night I want to run the same 9K route and again on Wednesday. I am resting Thursday and Friday for my 80K race on Saturday evening. I'm really getting excited about the race, a little nervous, but not the scary kind. If I stay cool and relaxed I think I'll do fine.

Have a great Sunday!

Friday, June 16, 2006

My last longer run before race day

Yesterday was a holiday in Germany so I had a chance to do my run a little earlier than normal. I had an early lunch and left about 1 p.m. and drove to the town of Langensteinbach and parked next to the firehouse on the edge of town. One of the control points for the 80K race is located around the firehouse.

It was 32C/90F, bright, sunny, and very humid. The fire house was located at the base of my first climb for the day. I strapped on my CamelBak, warmed up a little by jogging around the small parking lot, then headed up the hill. It was a short, but steep climb, I was already sweating by the time I reached the top – darn humidity! By the top of the hill I was in the forest and the air was thick and almost stifling, I felt like I could slice it with a knife.

The route flattened out some as I continued through the forest, then started gradually climbing to the town of Ittersbach (the second hill for the day). By the fourth kilometer I started heading out over the fields, still climbing gradually. There was no wind, no shade, just sun, heat and humidity. I kept the pace down, made sure I drank a lot from my CamelBak and plodded on. At least there was lots to look at, a riding club with some teenagers practicing their horse riding, lots of bicycle riders’s, a few brave walkers and a beautiful view of the valley below as I made my way to the top of the hill and edge of Ittersbach.

As I entered Ittersbach the path almost fell out from under me, a steep downhill walk into town. I continued through town, then climbed out on the other side, my third major climb for the day. Although it was a little more gradual than my first climb it was over open fields and seemed to go on forever, I was dripping buckets of sweat by the time I reached the top. By this time I could feel the heat zapping the energy out of my soul, despite drinking regularly. I decided it was time for a walk break.

I walked down a short downhill section, it was beautiful – below me was all open fields, a couple farms and in the near distance a short hill with the town of Langenalb nestled on top. In the background were the foothills of the Black Forest, so beautiful, and of course I forgot my camera again, duh.

I did find a picture on the Internet that was taken in the same direction that I was looking, it pretty much illustrates what I saw:

I could see that the next hill was nothing to worry about, so I decided to turn around and head back, I’d been gone almost an hour. I knew the return hill climb out of Ittersbach was going to be challenging in this heat. So I started running again, first down an enjoyable downhill, then through town and then about halfway up the steep hill out of the town. The combination of the heat and humidity and the steep hill climb stole my will to continue running, I walked up to the top. I looked like a drowned river rat by the time I got to the top, I was dripping buckets of sweat. I continued to walk long enough to drink the rest of the two liters dry from my Camelbak – 5K to go and out of fluid – yikes!

I started running again, but kept the pace down. Luckily the running was easier now, first downhill then through the forest. I had only one small hill climb left, then a short downhill to my car.

Luckily, I had a couple liter-water bottles in my car, I polished the first off as I tried to cool down a little in the shade.

As I sat on the bumper of my station wagon, shirtless, still sweating like a rain forest, an older couple walked by. We exchanged greetings and as they continued on I heard the woman say to the man something about how crazy I was to be running on a day like today. I agree, but if race day is like this than I know what to expect and hopefully my body will be slightly more tolerant of the heat due to my training.

Anyway, I went somewhere around 18K/11M in about 2 hours. This was a fairly decent pace considering the heat.

On Saturday I want to run my normal 14K/8.7M route and next week a couple shorter runs. Eight days until race day!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Yeah, bring on the heat!

After work yesterday it was a toasty 35C/95F as I suited up and headed out the door for a run around 4:30 p.m.. I ran the same 9K/5.5M route as Monday night, but this time I just let my legs decide how fast they wanted to run. I started out about the same speed as my tempo run on Monday, but by the end I had slowed down by 30 seconds, it was hot! I averaged 5:35/K (8:58/M), a pretty good pace considering the heat.

So why is Jack braving the summer heat? Well, the answer is easy, the 80K/50M run starts at 5 p.m., the hottest part of the day in our region. We have had an extremely cool spring, this sudden heat wave is a shock to the system. With only 9 days to go until race day it is imperative that I get used to the heat as soon as possible.

In any case I felt good after the run, this is a good sign. I drank around 3 liters of water throughout the day before running, this is essential for running successfully in the heat.

Today is a holiday in Germany, so I am waiting until it gets hot so I can run a couple more hilly sections of the 80K race route. My goal is around 21-23K (13M+), easy pace. I have 3 liters of weak sports drink loaded in my CamelBak and I’ve been hydrating since I woke up this morning (5 a.m.) – it is supposed to reach at least 32C/90F by this afternoon – bring on the heat, I’m ready!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Satellite Views of 80K Race Route

I was playing around with Google Earth last night and put together some quick and dirty satellite views of my race route. You are welcome to view them on my webpage at:

80K Race Training/Planning

I stopped at the pool last night on the way home from work and swam 900 meters, 500 freestyle, 400 breaststroke. I was going to do more but I had only eaten an apple and a banana for lunch and I “hit the wall” as far as motivation goes. Of course then I went home and tore the door off the kitchen trying to get to food. I usually eat a healthy midday meal, but I’m tapering so am trying not to gain too much weight this week. Next week I won’t look so close because I need a lot of energy for my 80K.

80K Race Training

I thought a couple of you might be interested in how I have been training or planning for the race. With the exception of the last couple weeks I have not trained for the 80K. I trained for my 50K and for a marathon before that, but not for the 80K. However I think the training that I did for the 50K is enough to get me over the finish line, which is my only goal. Actually the marathon and the 50K were preparation for the 50K. It was only after the 50K that I made the final decision on the 80K – the idea had been lurking in my head most of the year, I only lacked the confidence.

Running in the Dark

Many of my long runs throughout the winter were in the dark hours of the morning, which has served as my “running-in-the-dark” training for the 80K. I have only done one night run in the last few weeks, that will have to suffice.

Race Course Familiarization

I have spent the last couple weeks running several portions of the 80K course, particularly the hill climbs. As you can see below I am quite familiar with the course:

Kilometers 1-21: I know these sections by heart, having ran parts of the course in other races, ridden them on my bicycle or traversed them with my car over the last 16 years.

Kilometers 20-24: I ran almost every Saturday morning for the last few months.

Kilometers 24-34: I ran twice (out and back) over the last two Saturdays.

Kilometers 34-37: Are a downhill and a run through a town – I could see the downhill portion at KM34, easy running. I’ve walked through the town before, flat.

Kilometers 37-47: I ran/walked last Sunday.

Kilometers 47-57: I want to run tomorrow.

Kilometers 57-61: I have walked about half of this section with a friend who lives at KM 61 (we walked his dog). It is all downhill, but it is also in a thick forest and will be in the middle of the night.

Kilometers 61-71: I want to ride with my bicycle on Sunday.

Kilometers 71-80: Most of this part of the trail I ran almost daily for three years while in the military. A couple sections I have run in other races.

Heat Training

It has been very hot for the last week or so, with temperatures approaching 31C/88F. Today is supposed to be 32C/90F. When our heat wave continues, the first couple hours of the run will be during the hottest part of the day and there is very little shade available. I am trying to do all my runs during the hottest part of the day, which is around 4-5 p.m., the time I usually run during the week.

Drop Bags

The race allows the use of drop bags. However so far it appears that you can only use their drop bags, which are clear plastic garbage bags which they tape shut and mark with your race number. Apparently most participants only use the drop bags for a jacket and a flashlight. A couple people who I have talked to that have done the race said there is enough food and drink available at the 16 control stations, i.e. I don’t need to carry any.

My biggest concerns at the moment is what to put in my drop bag(s) and post-race logistics. The former depends a lot on the weather and what is actually available at the control stations. I want to call the club putting on the race and ask them what they will have available to eat.

Post-race Logistics

My wife is dropping me off at the race and will return home after the start. Her idea is that when I’m done, call her and she will come and get me. This is partly because I probably won’t be coordinated to drive our stick-shift after the race and partly so she can have the car. As I am predicting that I will need around 12 hours for the race, this would mean around 5-6 a.m. the next morning. My only concern is that I am a vegetable by the time I get to the finish line and won’t even know my telephone number any longer. Maybe I can pin a note to my start number or something – "If you find this corpse lying at the finish line please call this number. Thank you!" ;-)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Fast Run on a Hot Day = Bliss?

It was a bright, sunny, blue and beautiful day when I got home from work at 4 p.m.. The thermometer was peaking at 31C/88F and the trail was calling my name. I rushed around the house, filling my water bottle, getting everything ready, just get my short on…ring!

The door bell…
WHAT, can’t you see that I’m getting ready to run?
It was a salesman from the phone company.
He: Good day…blah-blah…can I take two minutes of your time and explain our latest offer for a DSL Internet hookup.
Me: I don’t have time, I’m going running.
He: Really it will only take two minutes, I ….
Me: You don’t understand, I’M GOING RUNNING!

Doesn’t this fool realize what that means, even my wife knows not to try to talk to me when it’s TIME…TO GO…RUNNING!!

Me: Sorry, I don’t have time, SLAM!

Obviously not a runner, I hope he at least doesn’t have starving kids at home.

Hmmm, I’m supposed to be tapering, although I really don’t know how much ultramarathoners taper – is it like a marathon??

I decided instead of running my 14K/8.7M loop, I would keep it shorter, say 8-9K (5-6M), but would pick up the pace and run through the sunny fields. Nothing like running through the fields at almost 10K pace during the hottest part of the day to help get you used to the heat, right!

So that is exactly what I did. I jogged for about 5 minutes at an easy pace, than picked up the pace. I ended up running 8K/5M with an average pace of 5:05/K (8:11/M). I started to feel the almost 90 degree heat towards the end, but probably because I didn’t slow down enough to drink. After a 5 minute walk to cool down, some water and a cool shower I was feeling fantastic, ready to go again :-)

Tonight I am heading to the pool for some laps and tomorrow (Wednesday) I will probably repeat last night’s run, albeit at an easier pace. Thursday is another holiday in Germany (I love it!), I want to do a 20K run, probably a 10K out and back on the 80K race route - but during the hottest part of the day.

Monday, June 12, 2006

No Clever Title Today

Sorry that I have been neglecting reading your blogs and commenting the last few days, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in a day.

Less than two weeks now before my 80K/49.7M ultra. I’m kind of nervous, but at the same time very excited about the race.

I just figured out that I ran 83K/52M last week, the highest mileage week for the last couple months. The last time I ran this far in one week my legs were pudding by the end of the week, but this morning my legs feel really good! I attribute this to the slower speed and walk breaks during my long runs. I think the walking yesterday also helped loosen up all the muscles and joints.

Tonight I want to run my normal 14K/8.7M loop. It is supposed to be 30C/86F outside, so I want to make sure I get out there and run in the sun before it gets even hotter! I hope it won’t be so warm for my ultra, but on the other side I want to train as much as possible in the heat beforehand – just in case.

Have a great week!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

A 3:50:00 Long Run and a 20K Run/Walk

Where does the weekend go?

Saturday morning I was up at 4 a.m., left the house at 4:30 and was running in the neighboring town of Weingarten by 4:50. It was already 17C/63F as I started up the first hill. I had wanted to drive another 30 minutes to a different town (Singen) that is along the 80K course, but I had to be back by 9:00 a.m. so that we could drive to the Black Forest for a wedding reception. So I decided to redo the stretch that I ran last Saturday, plus an extra 5-10K, depending on how much time I had.

I felt pretty good has I headed over the hill, the rolling hills on top and down the other side of the mountain into the town of Johlingen in the next valley. To save time I didn’t take any walk breaks, but just kept moving. As I headed up the second major climb I paused at the top to eat a gel and walk for two minutes, this was somewhere around the 1½ hour point.

Twenty minutes later I finished the last of the rolling hills on top of the second mountain and found my self on a plateau overlooking the fields and town of Singen below. I had planned on running to Singen, but I was already 1:53:00 on the way and I needed to turn around and head back.

So on back the way I came, through Johlingen and up the hill on the other side. Last week this hill climbing out of town reduced me to a walk. This week I ran the whole length and continued on another 10 minutes before finally taking a walk break to eat another gel and a sports bar. This time I walked maybe 4 minutes. But then I was off again, back over the rolling hills and down the mountain. I arrived at my car with a time of 3:50:18. After walking a few minutes to cool down, I stretched a little then hurried home. I walked in the door at 8:59, whew that was close.

It was a good run, I guess I ran close to 32K/20M including several pretty good hill climbs. It is also important to mention that I only took about a third of the normal walk breaks that I do.


My wife wanted to study this afternoon so ended up with some extra training time. Normally I go swimming around lunch time, but as it has been getting quite warm lately I thought I should spend some time outside in the heat. I decided to check out a 10K stretch of the 80K route – from Singen to Langensteinbach. As I had just ran 20 miles yesterday and my race is less than 2 weeks away I decided that I should walk it – which I figured would take about 3 hours.

After lunch I got out my shorts and tank top, running shoes and drink belt and drove to Singen (about 30 minutes away). I found a shady park place near the soccer stadium on the edge of town and got ready to walk. It was already around 27C/81F, sunny, warm and beautiful. From the stadium I spent a couple minutes looking for the right trail using a topographic map that I downloaded from the race website.

After finding the trail I walked for a couple minutes, then the trail turned and started climbing. I decided to run to the top of the hill. Seven minutes later I reached the top and switched back to walking. The climb was steep for the first minute or two, but then became more gradual – nothing to worry about during the race.

The downhill portion ended in the town of Mutschelbach and I walked through the town and started a gradual ascent as I left the town. The race route follows an asphalt bike path paralleling the main road for about 2K before turning left than right onto a trail through the forest. This trail in turn leads to the next town.

So backing up a bit, the walk through Mutschelbach and on to the forest trail was open, no shade, so I got the acclimation training that I was seeking. I guess it was in the mid-80’s (30C) by this time.

One I turned onto the forest trail it was about 1K (half mile) to the next town Langensteinbach. The name of the town translates loosely into “a long stoney stream”, and the town was exactly this, a long cobblestoned street snaking its way up the valley. I walked for 2K before reaching the edge of town.

By this time I had going for about 1:20:00. The next hill was still about 20-30 minutes away, which would mean I would be coming home much later than I had told my wife. I decided to turn around and head back.

After walking back through Langensteinbach and reaching the forest trail, I decided to jog for a few minutes. It felt so good that I ended up running most of the way back to my car. I ended up walking maybe 14K8/M and running at least 6K/4M – something like that anyway.

More important was that it gave me 2 hours 15 minutes outside in the heat of the day. As we have had a really cool spring it is important that I get used to the heat before the race. It is supposed to remain quite warm at least for the next 4-5 days. It is very likely that we will also have temperatures around 30C/86F for the race as well.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Running with a Friend

Last night I drove to Konigsbach, where I ran the 8.2K race a couple weeks ago, to run with a friend (co-worker) of mine. He was sick the day of the race so couldn’t run, so invited me to come over and run some evening. So after work I drove over to Uwe’s house and we did an hour loop around his area. This was a new and pleasant experience as normally I run alone. I noticed right away that it is harder to run when you talk a lot. As Uwe doesn’t run as often as I do I probably did most of the talking, sorry Uwe – I hope I didn’t wear you out (with the talking).

Uwe invited me to stay for dinner, which I gladly accepted, I’m not one to pass on any offer of food :-) I had a chance to meet Uwe’s lovely wife and four children (ages 4-10), got a tour of the house and saw all the renovation projects that Uwe has talked about over the last year or two, and just had a super evening with some good people!

My wife also had a satisfying evening studying at home, no man around bugging her ;-)

So today is a rest day, no training. Tomorrow I want to get up at 4 a.m. and run for at least 3 hours over part of the 80K route. I haven’t decided whether to just repeat last weeks route or try a new part of the trail. The problem is that I have to be home by 9 a.m. because we have to drive to the Black Forest for a wedding reception.

Have a great weekend and happy running, cycling, swimming, walking, house hunting,...!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

"The Diet"

I haven’t talked about my diet lately. This was mostly because I have been stuck on a plateau with my weight (around 75 kg/165 lbs.) for most of the last 14 months.

My weight goal is 150 lbs., which is slightly over what my doctor told was my ideal weight (66-68 kg/145-150 lbs.) for my height (170 cm/67”).

I don’t know if I will ever weigh 150 lbs. again, the last time was when I was about 10 years old (no kidding). I averaged 155-160 lbs. during my last couple years of high school and for about a year of my 8 years in the army, but that’s it!

Anyway, I have been really watching what I have been eating (e.g. no junk or sweets) the last couple weeks, being sure to reduce calories somewhat on non-running days, and today have managed to bring my weight down to 73 kg. (161 lbs).

I am not getting too excited yet because I know the weekend is coming and I generally eat like a famished grizzly bear in the spring after my long runs. I will be overjoyed if I am the same weight on Monday. We have also been experiencing warmer temperatures, so I'm sure a lot of it is water loss.

I think what has been driving me to lose the final pounds is my wife telling me that I will “never” lose the spare tire around the stomach. For those of you who have been obese or know someone who was, then you may know it is very difficult to get rid of the fat deposits around the stomach region. In any case I have accepted my wife’s “challenge”. Anybody want to do some crunches and leg lifts?

And the training continues...

On Tuesday night I stopped at the swimming pool on the way home from work and swam 1000 meters, 7 laps freestyle, 3 breastroke.

Last night I ran my 14K/8.7M flat route, easy pace, almost exactly 6:00/K (9:39/M). I actually wanted to run even slower in preparation for my 50-miler, but my body wouldn’t cooperate. It was just too nice outside, 22C/72F, sunny, warm, and no wind. I almost turned and ran another loop, but then I remembered that tonight I am invited to a coworker’s house for a run, so want to be in good form for that. He (Uwe) lives not too far from the 80K trail and runs on path’s that are similar to what I’ll be running on during the race. This will be the first time that I have run with someone outside of a race, so I am really looking forward to it. Uwe doesn’t run as often as I do, he is a cyclist, but he has been thinking about trying a sprint triathlon sometime.

I was going to run on Friday night after dark again, like I did last Friday night, but I think it is more important that I get in a longer run (3+ hours) on Saturday morning. My wife is invited to a wedding reception from one of her coworker’s at noon on Saturday in the Black Forest and informed me last night that I’m driving her. This means I have to get up really early and get my run out of the way so we can leave by 10:30 – looks like another 4 a.m. wakeup!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

50 Miles or Bust

I signed up for the 80 kilometer (49.7 miles) Fidelitas Night Run last night. The event starts at 5 p.m. on June 24th and runs through the night. Participants have to cross 18 checkpoints before allotted cut-off times.

The cutoffs are calcuated using a pace of about 5K/hour or 12:00/K (19:19/M).

A few facts:

- Participants are required to carry a flashlight after dark and wear a reflective vest or strips on their clothing.
- Getting in a car during any part of the race will result in automatic disqualification.
- Pacers or bicycle escorts are allowed, but must be pre-registered and must bring their own support (drinks, food etc.).
- Aid will be provided at all 18 checkpoints, approximately every 5K.

My Goal

To cross the finish line any way I can in under 16 hours (the cutoff). I've been practicing my crawling techniques ;-)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Half-Marathon Pictures

I remembered that I did the first 10K of the half-marathon yesterday in 53:05, an average pace of 5:19/K (8:33/M). With a finishing time of 1:49:39, this means I did the last 11.1K in 54:34, an average pace of 4:55/K (7:55/M), which is a faster pace than most of my 10K races. Hmmm, I'm going to have to run another HM this year!

I found the following finisher pictures from the half-marathon. My wife said I looked pretty intense as I sprinted to the finish:

Decision on 50-Miler Postponed.

This morning my legs are tired. No pain or anything negative, but just tired from a good workout yesterday. After work today I am going to stop at the pool and do some easy laps.

So last night I figured that my wife and I would sit down together and make the BIG DECISION about the 80K/50M Fidelitas Night Run on the June 24th. Here was the conversation:

Me: Do you think I should do the 80K?
Her: I’m can’t say if you have enough condition or not.
Me: ??
Her: Went back to knitting...

Was that a yes or no?

My feeling:

My body and the training that I have done will get me over the finish line. The only thing that can stop me from finishing (outside of injury) will be my own mind. It will be the toughest race I have ever done in my life. I'm ready to give it my best shot, but I would like my wife's blessing before I go out to battle.

Monday, June 05, 2006

South Pfaltz Half-marathon Race Report

This morning I ran my eighth half-marathon, the South Pfalz HM, as a training run. My wife wanted to visit with a former coworker she used to work with (Eva) who lived in the same town as the event so I decided to run the HM instead of my normal 14K/8.7M that I had on the schedule.

The race started at 9:15 a.m. so we picked up our friend Eva on the way the race. I went to pick up my start number and the girls picked up coffee and found a place to park until while I ran.

After going through the normal race routine I made my way to the Start line to cheer on the 10K racers who started at 9 a.m.. It was just beginning to rain a little as we began the race, but lasted only a couple minutes, then the sun came out again.

There were around 400 people signed up for the HM, I recognized a lot of faces from previous races. I chatted with a man who has run the Fidelitas Night Run for the last 10 years in the row. He assured me that the race is easier than a marathon. This is relative as he is a running machine.

So after a few minutes we were off. I held down the pace for the first 14K/8.7M, about my normal tempo run speed (5:30/K, 8:50/M).

I love this race, it is flat, almost entirely through the forest and probably 70% packed dirt trails. I set my HM personal record (1:48:12) on this course last September.

At the 14K point was an aid station and right after this a 5 minute stretch of asphalt-covered bike trails. I had been following a couple who were doing a comfortable pace and at this point they poured on the gas. I decided to hang with them for awhile. They kept going faster and faster and I guess my competitive juices started flowing, cause next thing I new I totally forgot about this being “just a training run” and I left them behind me.

For the rest of the race I kept up the pace passing a couple dozen people before sprinting over the finish line. I ended up finishing in 1:49:39, about a minute and a half slower than my best time, but much faster than I planned.

I came in 235th out of 378, 53/76 in my age group. Not bad for braking the first 2/3 of the race. I just hope my legs will forgive me...

Saturday, June 03, 2006

A Night Run and and EARLY Morning Run

On Friday night at 9:45 I headed out for a run just as it was getting dark outside. My goal was to practice using my running headlamp. I ran my normal running route, but turned around early. I ran about 9K/5.6 miles at an average pace of 6:00/K (9:39/M). After a quick shower I tried to get some sleep.

At 4:00 a.m. this morning (Saturday) I woke up for phase 2 of my weekend training. I had breakfast, got ready and drove to the neighboring town of Weingarten to run part of the 80K race course that I mentioned in my last blog report.

At around 5:00 a.m., with the temperature barely reaching a cool 6C/43F, I headed up my favorite hill and on to the 80K race course at the top. I have been running this part of the course for several months. After about 30 minutes I turned and followed the race course as it left my normal running route. I followed the race route downhill to the next town, Johlingen, then uphill to the next town Woschbach. Just past this town I turned around and retraced my steps back to the car.

This took me 2 hours and 52 minutes (maybe 25K/15.5M, including approx. 20 minutes of walking up some of the major hills, particularly on the way back). After I returned to the car I ate a sandwich, then continued to walk for about 20 minutes before finally calling it a morning and returning home.

My legs were pretty sore by the time I got home and showered. But after a second breakfast and a short nap I felt much better. This afternoon I spent a couple hours walking around a shopping mall with my wife, so I guess I’m not to bad off.

On Monday I am running a half-marathon as a training run. My wife wanted to visit an old coworker she used to work with (Eva) and there just happens to be a HM on Monday. So she get to gab, I get to run – sounds good to me!

Have a nice weekend.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Okay, so here’s the deal...

Tonight (Friday) I am going for a run around 9-10 p.m., probably for about an hour, easy pace.

Tomorrow I’m getting up around 4-4:30 and am going for an approx. 26K/16M hilly long run here:

Monday is a holiday in Germany, so instead of doing my normal 14K/8.7M run I’m going to do a half-marathon as a training run.

On Monday night my wife and I am going to decide if the 80K (49.7M) Fidelitas Night Run is a GO!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Fidelitas Night Run

The Fidelitas Night Run - June 24th, 2006:

Can Jack conquer this mountain?

"...the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." - FDR

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