February 2007 Archives

Tapering and Race Planning

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I am rather enjoying my tapering this week, although I really haven’t ‘tapered’ yet. I did run about a mile less on Monday night, does that count? Actually I plan on cutting my running back to about two-thirds of what it has been the last month or so. Tonight I plan on running the 11K loop with my running club, it has been a couple weeks since I ran with them.

Our mild weather is holding out, I hope it lasts through marathon day on March 11th. I’m not at all nervous about the event, like I used to be when I first started running marathons. On the other side I don’t feel as well prepared as I would like to be. My long run speed has decreased over the winter, which is normal when it’s cold, but it really hasn’t been a cold winter, so I don’t know what to think about it. My feeling is that I need to heed this as a warning and not get too ambitious on race day. For this marathon I would rather go out slow and finish strong, than go out too hard and struggle to the end. I have enough opportunities during the rest of the year to pick up the pace.

In reference to the March 25th 50K race listed on my sidebar…

…I am keeping this quiet around my wife because:

a) I don’t want her to give me grief before my marathon - I learned the hard way never to talk about 'the next race' until at least a few days AFTER the current race!
b) I am looking at several other races for April and/or May, if I can do them than the 50K is much less desireable.
c) So that I don’t prove to her that I am insane - see a) above.

I have several race ideas that will get me through the summer. The decision on which ones that I participate in will depend on whether my wife finds a new job or not. Here is my tentative list anyway:

March 25: Eschollbruecken 50K (10 rounds on a 5K mostly gravel/forest trail)

April 22: Northern Black Forest Marathon (40% gravel/forest trails) - a small, quiet marathon in a beautiful corner of the Black Forest.

May 12: Boderfeld 57K or 101K Hollenlauf which translates to the Boderfeld Hell Run (here's why)
or
May 17: Westerwald 50K Forest Run (60% gravel/forest trails)
or
May 19: Gutmuths Rennsteiglauf Trail Ultra (43K or 72K)

June 15-16 Biel (Switzerland) 100K Ultra
or
June 23: Karlsruhe Fidelitas 80K Ultra (40% gravel/forest trails)

July 21: Barenfelsen 63K Ultra Trail Run
or
July 22: Buhlertal Marathon (lots of elevation change)

So basically a marathon (or greater) a month if I don’t burn out.

If the budget warrants a modification than I will probably just run the 80K in June and a local city marathon in September. There are several other cheap city marathons within an hour’s drive if I feel the need to torture myself further on asphalt.

Running the Weekend Away

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With my marathon only two weeks away I decided to shorten my long on Saturday morning from 3-1/2 hours to 2-1/2 hours. At the same time I decided to forgo another flat asphalt run and to run my hilly route in the neighboring town of Weingarten. So with the first signs of morning peeking out from behind the hills I chugged my way up the forest paths to the top of my mountain. I connected to the trail that is part of June’s 50-mile (80K) race and followed this for awhile. The sun eventual rose out of its sleep and guided me down and then back up the side of the mountain. In the distance I could hear the first woodcutters arriving with tractor and chain saw, the forest peace was about to be lost for the rest of the day. I made my way the last time down the mountain to my car, just over 2-1/2 hours – mission accomplished!

On Sunday morning I wasn’t sure if I wanted to run or to go to the swimming pool, so left it open and went to church. My wife decided in the meantime that she wanted to study her English lesson for a few hours, so she would miss me if I was gone for awhile. I recalled that there was a IVV Volksmarch in the area so did a quick search on the Internet and found it. After realizing it was only a 15 minute drive away I decided to run the 20K course that was offered. So with stormy skies and a steady wind I set out on this mission, finishing the 20K/12M in 1:49:55 – a good training run.

I plan on tapering the next two weeks for my first marathon of the year. If the weather is nice on marathon day than I will be trying to improve my personal best (4:30:09), if not than it will serve as a training run. I am also leaving the door open for a 50K race on March 25th, two weeks after the marathon, but my decision on whether to participate will be made the day before race day – it will depend on my marathon and how fast I recover. If all goes well than I will do both races, if not, well there are plenty of other races coming up in my area.

So hopefully I will have time during my tapering to catch up on your activities, have a great week!

An Easy 12 Mile Run

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When I got home from work yesterday it was a sunny warm 14C/57F so I decided to run right away rather than waiting two hours to run with the running club. I ended up running 19K/12M at roughly marathon pace (6:00/K, 9:39/M). I noticed towards the end that I just don’t seem to have the energy this week, I had to work much harder to maintain even this mediocre pace. I contribute this to the several high mileage weeks, the still lingering cold symptoms, and several nights of reduced sleep.

I want to do a 2-1/2 to 3 hour hilly long run on Saturday morning, after that its two weeks of tapering before the marathon on March 11th. This should leave me in pretty good shape for the marathon, I just hope the weather stays nice.

A 9K Recovery Run

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I managed to survive the weekend with out going off the deep end with my cold, I think nuking the body with Vitamin C and getting some extra sleep time seemed to detour the worst of it. I was feeling good enough by Sunday afternoon to go on a 45 minute recovery. We had a beautiful sunny afternoon on Sunday, 14C/57F with only a slight wind. My wife was doing laundry and talking to an aunt on the telephone, so I slipped out for a loop. The trails and paths were full of people enjoying the almost spring weather.

I ended up with a total of 88K/55M for last week, the highest mileage week for the year so far. This may have been a factor in my feeling lousy on Saturday morning.

On March 11 is my first marathon for the year, a rematch with the Bienwald (Bee Forest) marathon that beat me last year. As this race is very dependent upon the weather my only goal at this point is to finish, normally this should not be a problem. When the marathon goes without any major complications I may do a 50K race two weeks later on March 25. If not then I will do a countryside marathon on April 22.

I am still seriously thinking about a 100K race this year. One possibility is on May 12 in Bodefeld, about a 4 hour drive northwest of where we live. A 57K and 101K race are offered, participants can decide at the 57K point if they want to turn around and run back to the start, completing the 101K. The 57K offers 1325 meters (4347 feet) of elevation gain and 1118 meters (3668 feet) of loss. The 101K offers 2107 meters (6912 feet) of elevation gain and loss. A large portion of the route is supposed to be forest trails and gravel paths. The 101K race has a 15-hour cutoff.

hollenlauf.jpg

From the training perspective I think the race is doable if I take it easy with my marathons in March and April. The only remaining factor is my wife’s employment situation, the race will require staying a couple overnights (the race starts at 6:30 a.m.). For now I am going to get the first marathon behind me, then see how I’m feeling.

A 3-1/2 Hour Long Run

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My goal this morning was a 3-1/2 hour long run, but when I woke up I had a headache and the sniffles so was not so sure how this would workout. I didn’t feel feverish, so took a couple aspirin, ate a small breakfast then set out at an easy pace. Originally I wanted to run to Karlsruhe, 11K away, but instead ran 3K to a large industrial park nearby and started circling the 6.7K/4.2M loop. By the time I finished the first loop my headache was gone and I was feeling pretty well. I picked up the pace to around my planned marathon pace (6:00/K, 9:39/M) and completed the second loop. On the third loop I noticed a runner far ahead of me so was occupied for a good portion of the loop. Right before I caught to her she turned off into a nearby parking lot and ended her run, a quick glance revealed that I need to run faster next time, but I digress.

As I started the fourth loop I was having stomach issues, this slowed me down a bit. But with around 10K to go I sucked it up and kept pressing forward. I completed the fourth loop, for around 30K/18.6M, then turned and started back towards the house. With 3K to go I decided to walk and eat my sandwich that I had with me (PB & honey), but after half of it my stomach revolted and I started running again. I finished about half the distance home and started having stomach cramps so walked for a few minutes and drank some water that I had with me. This seemed to help and I was able to jog the rest of the way home.

I ended up running around 33K/20.5M in 3:32:10, good for a 6:26/K (10:21/M) pace. I was hoping for a slightly faster pace, but I am satisfied that I got my log run behind me. A hot bath, warm food, and a nap have left me feeling much better as I write. Good thing too, we are invited to our neighbors 40th birthday party in a couple hours, I am looking forward to some good food and fun!

Springtime in February

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Yesterday was a beautiful 16C/61F, sunny, warm, gorgeous day. I hadn’t planned on running, but with such weather I just had to, really! I decided on an easy 9K loop, mostly over the farm paths surrounding the fields in my area. I made it back to the house just minutes before my wife came home from work. After a quick shower I was able to help her finish dinner, talk about timing.

Today I am taking a rest day in anticipation of my 3-1/2 hour long run tomorrow morning. I would like to crawl out of bed around 5:30 and try to be on the road my 6:00 a.m. The trail I have selected closely resembles the marathon route on March 11th, flat and 100% asphalt (phewey).

For those of you that have been following our drama, my wife has applied for several more jobs that were in the newspaper last weekend, hopefully one of these will work out. The position she applied for in my company is open until the end of the month, so she won’t hear anything about that until March – I’m keeping my fingers crossed, it would be cool if we worked in the same company!

A Rainy 20K Run

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Normally on Wednesday nights I run with my running club, but they run first at 6 p.m., just as it is getting dark. Last night it was pouring rain when I got home from work about 4:30 p.m., so I figured if I was going to run I should get it out of the way before it gets dark. I also wanted to get the run done in case my wife wanted to go out to eat later on.

In any case I headed out over a new 20K/12.4M route that I have been planning, about 90% asphalt. The route goes south along the railroad tracks to the neighboring town of Blankenloch, then continues on to the next town Buchig, than turns right and follows a canal for about 15 minutes to the bike path that I use on my long runs. From this path I turn right (completing a U-turn) and it is about 35 minutes back to the house. I ended up drenched to the skin but back at the house in 1:56:12, slightly under my planned 6:00/K (9:39/M) marathon pace.

In the mean time my wife was home and had relaxed a bit, so I showered and we went out for some dinner, a nice end to Valentines Day.

Tonight I want to take an easy run, probably around 45 minutes, mostly just to loosen up. On Saturday morning I want to get up early and run 3 to 3-1/2 hours, all asphalt - my March 11 marathon is creeping up fast!

Swim Night

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Last night I stopped at the pool in Blankenloch for some laps. I was kind of tired from all the running lately plus a busy work week, so figured I would just do a relaxing swim. It ended up being one of my best swim sessions for a long time! I mean I relaxed, was able to concentrate on my form and knocked out 1100 meters in less time than it normally takes me to do a 1000 when I’m trying to train hard. I also felt much better after the swim, no aching shoulder muscles like I usually have, I guess form is everything.

Happy Valentines Day to anyone that celebrates it!

An 18K Easy-paced Run

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Last night I decided to meet a few members of my running club for a run. The problem is that they changed their normal meeting place and I didn’t get the word. I showed up where they normally meet and waited a few minutes – no one around. They typically run a 6.7K loop around a large company complex, so head off in the opposite direction figuring that I would bump into them sooner or later. I was surprised to complete a loop without seeing them, so thought about it for a minute and decided maybe they changed the direction they normally run. So I turned around and went back the way I came and five minutes later I bump into the five runners I was looking for. I completed another half-round with them, but they had a good pace going and I was already pooped, so I turned and trotted the 3K back to the house. According to Google Earth I completed right around 18K/11.2M, my average pace around 5:53/K (9:30/M).

My legs were toast by the time I got home, in the last four days I ran 73K/45.4M and definitely felt it. I have also been running a lot more on asphalt trails lately which is harder on the legs. This is a necessary step to prepare me for the all-asphalt marathon in March. This morning my legs are tired and stiff, but tonight is a swim night, so they will have some time to recover before the next run on Wednesday.

A Busy Weekend of Training

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Bad blogger, that I be, but my training is going well. Friday after work I saddled up and ran my long run, around 30K/18.6M in 3:14:00. My pace was a little slower than normal, 6:28/K (10:24/M), but within my training range for this time of year. This week I ran straight through, no breaks other than emptying the bladder. The last few kilometers were not easy, thus not what I would call confidence building four weeks before a marathon.

Late Saturday afternoon I decided to run with my running club. I set out with the medium pace group, we knocked out the first 5K at a mellow 6:00/K (9:39/M) pace, but then about half the group started speeding up. I felt good so joined the faster runners. Every few minutes we seem to lose another runner until it was just four of us. I was running in front with a younger lady that is training for a 4-hour marathon in May. We cruised on around the 11K trail jabbering about training, races and whatever else crossed our path. Somewhere along the way we lost the other two, were we talking so much? Anyway we kept going, the other runner (I can’t remember her name) started breathing hard, but insisted we keep the pace going - I was feeling good so obliged. I had forgotten my stopwatch so really wasn’t so sure of our pace, but I could tell we were trucking right along. As we finished the other lady said “4:40 for the last one”, or a pace of 4:40/K (7:31/M) for the last kilometer. Awesome, it sure makes a difference running with someone!

Yesterday (Sunday) I stopped at the pool for some laps after church. The pool was quite crowded, but still managed to get in my 1000 meters. When I got home my wife was in the middle of doing our taxes, so I decided to get in my run. It was raining buckets, but fairly warm (11C/52F). I ran my 14K/8.7M loop at a comfortable 6:00/K (9:39/M) pace, holding this fairly consistently the entire round. The trails where muddy with lots of standing water, I was pretty soaked by the time I finished. I made it a point to go around to the back of the house where I could strip off my muddy clothes before tracking the mud inside.

I finished off the week with 79K/49M, a kilometer shy of my goal, but close enough. My legs are kind of sore this morning, I can tell I had a high mileage week. I still have at least one more long run before my marathon on March 11. I actually may run two more long runs and taper just the last two weeks before the event. Being my first marathon for the year I am not really making any predictions for the race, I just want to finish it. This is the marathon that I DNFed last year, so this year I will probably be ultra-conservative, especially if it drops below freezing again.

A 10K Tempo Run

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My wife still wasn’t home from her job interview when I got home from work last night, so I decided to go for a shorter tempo run. I warmed up for a kilometer, than tried to pick up the pace, but I felt pretty sluggish. It was raining slightly, I had to dodge a lot of puddles, and the dirt sections were muddy and slippery. I still managed an average 5:30/K (8:52/M) pace over the 10K loop, finishing the last kilometer with a 4:30/K (7:15/M) sprint.

My wife’s interview turned out to not really be a real interview. The employer assembled 20 people seeking the position and showed them a film about the company, then asked each of them the same three questions: Do you do any sports? Do you want to work full or part time? and the third I don’t recall, but it was just as general as the other two. And that was it! Anyone that is still interested can make an appointment to take a typing test next week.

The employer still can not definitely say if it will be a full or part time job (like they don’t know?) and the pay would be even less than the peanuts that my wife earns now.

So my wife is going to keep playing along to see if she gets selected, but they are going to have to pay her more if they want her. She has submitted several other applications for other jobs, including one with my company, maybe they will pan out.

In any case she was disappointed with the events of the day, so I took her out to dinner at her favorite Greek restaurant, sometimes you have to just spoil the woman you love.

Back to Fish Training

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Last night I stopped at the pool in the neighboring town of Blankenloch for some laps. I have been really slacking off with swimming, it was only my second time at the pool this year. Last time it turned into a combat swimming session as the pool was overcrowded and almost impassable. This time it was just the opposite, there were a couple mothers with there kids in the kiddy pool and the main pool was empty, EMPTY, can you believe it, I sure couldn’t. I dived right in and got down to business, I knew it was just a matter of time before the hoards showed up. Surprisingly there were only about 10 people in the pool by the time I finished my 1000 meters. Anyway I think I set a new personal speed record and probably could have given any 90-year swimmers a good race ;-)

I am feeling totally regenerated this morning, I think the relaxed run on Monday mixed with a little more sleep and better eating have helped to clear the cobwebs a little. I am looking forward to a good training run this evening.

I was pestering, I mean encouraging, Sandra to pick up running again this morning. Her husband already vetoed running with my running club because they have other commitments on the nights the club runs. So on to plan B, I talked with my wife last night about whether I should offer to run with Sandra once or twice a week. Logistically this is no problem, Blankenloch is only a 5K run away, I would only need to alter my running route a bit. The only thing that I want to make sure about is that my wife doesn’t have any negative vibes about me running with a pretty young lass. My wife is not usually the jealous type, but I don’t want to leave anything to chance. Of course Sandra’s husband would need to be okay with this too, not that I am a wolf any anything - I guess I’m just weird about things like this.

I seem to have a lot of nervous energy today, I guess that’s why I am bloggering on like a fool. Today is my wife’s job interview and I hope so much that it goes well for her, she is one of the hardest working women that I know and probably overqualified for the office job she is applying for. I’ll certainly be saying a prayer when its time for her interview, we’ll see what happens.

Just Running for the Soul

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A gentle rain was falling as I slipped out the door last night for a round over my 14K/8.7M route. I was still a bit stiff from my run the day before so I started off at an easy pace, over the asphalt bike path to the village of Spoeck, by the soccer field and on across the muddy field ways that would bring me to my beloved forest. The path changed from manmade to gravel to soft earth as I entered the misty, magical, company of trees that beckoned me. Soon the heavy burdens of the day drifted off and I felt peace once again. My gentle footfalls where interrupted by a crashing deer that sought to escape from this intruder. But just as abruptly as it left, peace returned and the only sound was the falling of my feet and my gentle breath as I labored through this oasis of stillness. As I left my friends, trees, behind I couldn’t help but turn and bid adieu till the next time. The gentle rain cooled my face as I crept over the fields ways to where I began…

Feeling like a rubbish runner...

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You ever have a moment in your training where you feel like something is not right? I don’t know if it’s the bouncing weather, too much stress from everyday life, or just old age settling in, but I have been feeling really sluggish the last several weeks. It seems like I have to work a lot harder to keep my speed up during my runs. Actually my long run pace has decreased slightly compared to last year.

I was thinking about this yesterday afternoon, trying to find an answer. I jotted down a few thoughts:

- My mileage is about 10-20% higher than last winter.
- This winter I am running a long run almost every weekend, last winter I was running a long run every two weeks alternating with a ‘medium’ long run.
- Last January I was going to the swimming pool twice a week, this year I have only been to the pool once.
- I have been slacking off with the healthy eating, too many sweets etc. – luckily my weight has not increased.
- My racing goals and schedule are not clearly defined.
- Life seems to be much more demanding this year, I am having a hard time staying focused.

Then I jotted down a few things that I need to work on the next few months:

- Get back to eating right.
- Schedule in some cross-training and do it!
- Don’t worry about racing so much, just do what I can and stop whining.
- Relax, try to balance out life, too much of any one thing is not good – this includes running.

By the way, my wife has a job interview on Wednesday, say a prayer, keep your fingers crossed, send positive vibes, all of the above!

A Three Hour Long Run

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Another busy week behind us, where did the time go? Despite the busy week I still managed to get in my runs, running a 14K/8.7M loop on Monday (tempo) and this morning (Sunday, recovery), a 20K/12.4M run on Wednesday and a long run of about 30K/18.6M on Friday night.

Typically I run my long run early Saturday morning, not after a full days work on Friday. This week my wife wanted me to take her to IKEA for some retail therapy on Saturday morning so I decided to run on Friday after work. So I headed out at a steady 6:00/K (9:39/M) pace, staying mainly on paved paths that make their way to Karlsruhe, 11K/7M away. By weaving my way back and forth over several secondary paths I stretched the run out considerably. By the 2-1/2 hour point my legs were sore, it was dark out, I was hungry and my pace had slowed to a crawl. I stopped for a quick walk and inhaled a sandwich that I had with me (PB&J), then continued on. I tried to pick up the pace again, but my legs were rubbery, I shuffled on at about 7:00/K (11:15/M).

Finally I popped out of the forest and made my way the last kilometer through town and to the house, completing approximately a 30K run in 3:13:49. This is an average pace of 6:30/K (10:25/M), at least 20-30 seconds slower than normal, but still within the range of acceptability according to my race plans.

This turned out to be very good mental training, forcing myself to continue even though I would have rather cut it short. I blame the slower speed on increasing my mileage by 42% from the previous week.

Over the next 3 weeks I want to maintain about the same mileage, than taper the two weeks before the marathon on March 11th. My expectations for the marathon will be very weather dependant, if it drops below freezing on race day it will be more a question of survival than running fast. We’ll see.

Letting the running enthusiam rub off...

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I love Michelle and Rae’s comments from yesterday in reference to encouraging an ex-runner to return to her old love:

"Every runner I know tries to bring ex-runners back into the fold, or recruit runners. Let anyone mention that they used to run, or would like to run and it's all over. It cracks me up!" [Michelle]

"Reel her in!! Show her the rbf and she'll be hooked!" [Rae]

Last night I was talking to my wife about ex-runner Sandra and my wife said "Why don’t you invite her to go to the running club with you?", which really surprised me coming from my non-running wife, obviously I have underestimated her again.

So, anyway I printed out an information sheet and the running schedule from the running club last night. This morning on the streetcar I presented these to Sandra and although she tried to remain calm and not react, her sparkling eyes and wide smile told me the whole story, the adrenaline was already flowing in her blood!

I casually mentioned that I am often in her town (Blankenloch) on Sundays after church if she should happen to have the desire to run with someone. She thanked me as the streetcar approached my stop and said she would let it 'run' through her head. As I exited I glanced over and saw her poring over the information printout again - where’s my fishing net, this fish is almost home!

Don’t forget to encourage those around you, you never know when someone only needs a gentle nudge. Of course for most of us this is not a problem :-)

Of course this whole this whole episode of encourage someone to return to running has my own adrenalin level rising, I am having a hard time sitting here trying to work (oops!), I would love to run a loop about now. So obviously my legs are feeling much better this morning, so after work today my wife will be at the hairfixerupper and I will be out pounding asphalt for about 3 hours. Have a great weekend!!

Stiff...

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…is the best description of my legs this morning. Last night my wife called as I was coming home and said she would be working late, which basically gave me a license to run as far as I wanted to. I decided to run an approximately 20K loop at faster than marathon pace. The days have been getting longer so I was able to run the first hour while it was still light out. The route I selected was about 80% asphalt bike paths, so I stretched out the pace finishing in the dark in 1:52:38, for an average pace of 5:38/K (9:04/M) or about 30 seconds faster than my best marathon pace. This morning I woke up stiff, I guess I need to spend more time stretching next time (or I am just getting old).

I had an interesting conversation with Sandra this morning while we were waiting for our streetcar. Sandra is the young ex-runner who I mentioned in my January 27th post. She confessed this morning that she has run two races before, the Baden Mile in 2002 and 2003. The 8.88889 kilometer race that takes place in May in nearby Karlsruhe. She gave up running about three years ago when her running partner quit, she just couldn’t seem to drag herself out of bed to run on her own (of course we don’t know anything about this problem do we?).

In any case I dropped the bait, I me I mentioned that I run with a running club and she just ate it up…I mean it’s just a matter of time and she will catch the (running) fever. Ha!

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