April 2007 Archives

Picking up the speed

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Last night we had summerlike temperatures in April - 29C/84F! I headed out for a run with the intent of picking the pace up a bit. On Tuesday night I had a 12K easy run, so thought I would see how recovered I am.

I warmed up for a kilometer (6 minutes), then picked up the pace for 4K/2.5M, slowed for a few minutes then picked it up again to about the 10K point. For the last 4K of my run I gradually slowed down the pace to an easy jog by the time I reached our house. For the 9K of “speedwork” I averaged roughly 5:15/K (8:30/M), not bad for a recovery week.

Last night I also discussed race plans for May with my wife. We have a 4-day weekend during the third week of May, the 17th is a holiday in Germany (Day of Ascension). We decided that I would run the 50K race on the 17th. I only need to find a hotel for the night before, my wife decided to accompany me.

It is only three weeks until the event so I really can’t do any further preparation for the race. I will run a couple hilly long runs over the next two weekends, as the race has an aggressive elevation profile. I am looking forward to it in any case, it is a beautiful area to run, lots of forest, lots of hills – I love it!

An Easy 12K Recovery Run

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Last night I went on my first run since the marathon on Sunday. Nothing special, an easy 5:45/K (9:15/M) pace over 12K/7.5M. The weather was again beautiful, clear skies, 26C/79F, no wind. My legs were a little stiff the first 5-10 minutes, but once I got warmed up I fell into a groove and had a nice run. This morning I could still feel that my legs are not completely recovered from the marathon, but no aches, pain, blisters or anything. Tonight I’m heading out for another run, probably about the same distance. The true test of my recovery will be my long run on Friday night or Saturday morning – I want to complete at least three hours.

I have to decide this weekend if I am going to run the Westerwald forest 50K on May 17 (holiday – Day of Ascension) or a marathon the weekend before or after. The 50K requires at least one overnight stay, so we have to decide if we want to spend the money or not. I’m flexible.

Last night I spent another few hours helping my friend pack and clean out the house he rented. Lots of walking and carrying boxes – good cross-training!

Post-marathon Review – Marathon #6

- For the first 30K my pace was still a little too fast, but very consistent (I purposely slowed down after this).

- I drank only water from the aid stations, plus almost 2 liters of sport drink from my CamelBak – this seemed to be about right. I drank early on in the race and throughout.

- I ate a PB & Honey sandwich midway, as well as some salted crackers and a couple pieces of bananas during the second half of the race.

- I had a bit of a hitting-the-wall experience around the three hour point, but a couple longer walk breaks and some crackers seem to get me going again. I also ate some salted crackers when I heard too much “sloshing” of liquids in the stomach when I hadn’t drank anything lately – I read somewhere that this is a sign that water is not being absorbed properly and that eating salty food helps correct this – it seemed to work. I’ll have to remember to bring crackers during my 50-miler in June.

- The approx. 20 min. running/2 min. walking strategy worked well for the first 30K. I did take a few extra minutes to walk a couple uphills, but I think it averaged out about right. I took longer walk breaks after the 30K point to make sure I could drive home safely after the race.

- This was the first time I wore my CamelBak backpack during a race – I barely noticed it was there, even with two liters of liquid and a couple pounds of other stuff. A couple people asked me if I was running the whole race with a backpack – they thought I was insane. How do you say “No, I’m just an ultrarunner in German”? ;-)

- I used lots of Vaseline on the toes and other sensitive areas and had no problem with blisters or chaffing. I also applied sunscreen to exposed skin before the race and had very little sunburn, despite a hot sun. For a longer race I may need to bring some to reapply.

- I made a point to eat and drink as soon as possible after the run, and sat with my feet elevated for awhile. I didn’t have any of the usual cramping that I experience after a marathon. I’m sure this also has a lot to do with the additional walking that I did during the last 10K or so.

My legs are still a bit stiff, mostly when I sit at my desk for too long. I want to try my first post-marathon run tonight, probably an easy 8-10K run, but I’ll see first when I get out there.

All in all a very satisfying “training” race. The race did a lot to get rid of the stress that life has been trying to set on my shoulders lately. I may not have completed my fastest race, but I still achieved victory!

On Saturday, the day before my marathon when most people probably think about relaxing and trying not to expend too much energy before the event, I answered the call of a friend in need who has to move out of the house he rents by the end of the month. I spent the day moving a ton of boxes and furniture in fast 80F weather.

When my clock went off at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday morning I barely wanted to open my eyes, let alone drive almost two hours to the middle of the Black Forest to run a marathon. I laid in bed for a moment trying to think of a good reason to stay in bed or perhaps an alternative marathon that I could run next weekend, but nothing came to mind so I got up and ate breakfast. Thirty minutes later I was in the car and heading out.

Participants of the Northern Black Forest Marathon in Egenhausen (between Pforzheim and Freudenstadt) could start the race anytime between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. When you were ready to run you only had to go to the start and they would write your start time down (and your finish time when you finished). Here is a picture from last year:
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It was about 5C/41F as I started the marathon shortly after 8:00 a.m. I was wearing two short sleeve running shirts and running shorts and was freezing to death until I ran up the first hill about 7-8 minutes later. I had planned on walking all the hills on this day, practicing for my 50-miler in June, but I needed to warm up.
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I saw a few other runner ahead of me over the first few kilometers and passed a few Nordic Walkers who were doing the half. I heard later that about 40-50 people had signed up for the marathon and at least twice as many for the half. I don’t know how many ran and how many walked the event, they weren’t offering any age group prizes or anything – it was more of a fun run.
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So I finished the first 10K of my “fun run” in about 56:30, not bad considering I took 1-2 minute walk breaks every 20 minutes or so. At this early stage my quads were already tired from the furniture moving the day before, but rather than whine about it I looked at is as an opportunity to train with tired legs.
egenhausen_2007_4.jpg
I continued on running the flat and downhill sections and power-walking the uphills. This nicely worked out to a walk break roughly every 20 minutes, which is what I wanted to train with during the race. The sun was out in full force and it warmed up quickly, by the time I finished the first loop (21K/13M) after about 2 hours I shed one of the running shirts and stuffed it into my CamelBak backpack.
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I started back over the same course for the second loop with my legs already getting tired, but I was able to ignore it and push on. It was a beautiful day outside and the fields and forests were full in bloom from an early spring. The kilometers seemingly melted away for the next hour. By the time I reached the aid station at kilometer 30 (18.6M) at around the 3-hour point my legs were no longer happy. I tried to stretch out a little, which seemed to help for awhile – I plodded on.

With 12K/7.5M to go I did a quick in-race evaluation. Foremost in my mind was the fact that I needed to make the two hour drive home after the race. I decided that it was not the time to be trying to set marathon PR’s so started taking longer walk breaks, running a kilometer, then walking for 3-5 minutes. With 6K to go I paused at an aid station and ate a sandwich that I had brought and tried to stretch again – I could barely touch my toes! I still had the longest, hardest climb in front of me so quickly got back to business at hand. I walked this last major hill climb and it still kicked my butt, but I got over it and started running again – first only a couple hundred meters, then finally a kilometer at a time.
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My legs ached, but I knew I only had a short distance to go, I kept my focus on the roof of the sports center in the distance and continued on. Finally I reached the finish line and I made sure they wrote my time down (4:37:10). I grabbed a banana and some Isotonic drink and sat down by a couple other finishers in the front of the hall. The sun was shining, we had a beautiful view of the countryside off to the left, we chatted a bit, I set a new course personal record – life can’t get any better than this!
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After stretching, showering, and eating a bit I made the drive back to the house. I was worried that I would get cramped up as I drove, which makes drive a standard shift rather difficult, but the ride was uneventful. My wife was happy to see me back alive and after relaxing for an hour I was able to enjoy the rest of the day with my wife.

This morning my legs are kind of stiff, but I think I will be able to continue training without too much delay. I’ll see how the long run this coming weekend goes. In four weeks is the next marathon (or 50K).

Despite having to take longer walk breaks than anctipated toward the end of the race I still finished with a new course PR of 4:37:10, which is around five minutes faster than last year. I'll try to post a full report by Monday night.

The biggest lesson learned: Don't volunteer to move furniture the day before a marathon.

Sunday's Race Goals

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I usually come up with three goals for a longer race, my ‘training’ marathon on Sunday is no exception:

Acceptable: Finish the event within 5-1/2 hours, stay patient and maintain a consistent run/walk pace. Recover sufficiently by Wednesday in order to resume normal training, including a 3-hour long run on the following weekend.

Challenging: Finish the event under 4:42, thus setting a new course PR, while maintaining a consistent run/walk pace. Recover sufficiently by Wednesday in order to resume normal training, including a 3-hour long run on the following weekend.

Ultimate: Finish the event under 4:29, thus setting a new marathon PR, while maintaining a consistent pace. Recover sufficiently by Wednesday in order to resume normal training, including a 3-hour long run on the following weekend.

While sitting on the train on my way home from work last night I was thinking about how much I admire people who run a marathon the whole way through, e.g. without any walk breaks whatsoever, barely even slowing down to grab a cup of water along the way.

I have finished 8 marathons (3 walking), 2-50K’s, and a 50-miler but have always had to take at least one walk break at some point in time. I used to be sensitive about this, but I have learned to relax and just do the best I can at each event, if that means walking a bit, so be it. I could probably train to run a marathon all the way through, could probably break 4 hours even, but I prefer to run several events each year which me at my age (47) means I have to keep most of them slow if I want to recover in enough time for the next one. This is the path I have chosen up to now and I am content.

That said, I am going to contradict myself. This morning I signed up for the Baden Marathon, which takes place on September 16th, and have decided that I should use this flat asphalt course to set a new PR. In the meantime I have a couple scenic marathons, a 50K and a 50-miler to keep me busy.

Speaking of being busy – I don’t know how some of you women (or men as the case may be) can work, clean, cook AND run without wearing yourself out! It is a good thing I have a job where I can sit down, because I don’t seem to find much time to do it lately at home ;-) Actually I am feeling good about my first few days has house-husband, my wife seems to be satisfied and she has sufficient time to study at night. Her only negative comment was that my cooking is bad for her diet, hmm I've heard that somewhere before. I think I need to find more low fat recipes.

Last night in anticipation of running tonight I made a pasta casserole that I can warm up for dinner after the run. I also baked some low fat apple muffins for dessert. My wife is bringing home some fresh asparagus from a farmer’s located market near her school so we only need to fix this quick.

The Northern Black Forest marathon that I am running on Sunday is a two loop course with a total of about 1100 feet of elevation gain. I finished this in 4:42:00 last year, this year my wife is staying home so I need to make sure I am fit enough after the event to make the hour and a half drive home. The weather report is calling for clear blue skies and around 26C/79F, its going to get pretty warm towards the end.

Testing the Run/Walk Strategy

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Last night I went on what I will call an „experimental“ 16K/10M run. This coming Sunday I am participating in a marathon as a training run whereas I want to try out a new run/walk strategy that I plan on using for my 50-mile run in June. The hilly marathon route offers similar terrain that I will encounter on the longer race, thus will be a good test.

Anyway as I started my run last night it occurred to me that I haven’t even considered what my walking pace will be, let alone practiced it during the last few long runs, so I thought I would do a little. I rerouted my run over part of my running club’s trail where we have every half-kilometer marked out (spray painted on trees).

After warming up for a few kilometers I ran 20 minutes at a quicker pace, then speed-walked 0.5K/0.3M. I completed the 0.5K in 3 minutes 45 seconds which is a 7:30/K (12:04/M) pace. I then ran another 20 minutes and speed-walked a second 0.5K stretch, this time at a 7:20/K (11:48/M) pace. I then finished off the rest of the run at a descent pace finishing in right around an hour and a half for an average pace of 5:38/K (9:04/M) for the 16K/10M.

The speed-walking pace that I achieved is probably at least a minute/K (two minutes/M) faster than what I expect that I could maintain over flat sections of a longer race. However it did help establish what I could theoretically perform if I trained enough at this speed-walking pace. In any case at Sunday’s marathon I plan on power walking the uphill sections and using a 20/2 run/walk strategy for the rest. My ultimate goal for this year is to achieve a more consistent pace for my 80K/50M race in June.

My wife’s technical writer school is off to a good start. The course is interesting, challenging and hopefully will leave her with the skills needed to find work in this field at the end of the year.

My new role as house-man is also going smoothly. I haven’t burned the house down yet, ruined any shirts, or had any other incidents. Last night I served roasted turkey breast, German spatzele (noodles) and a salad, although I admittedly had lots of wifely advice on roasting the turkey breast. Tonight I have it easy – leftovers ;-)

Cross-training: 1-1/2 hours of ironing, took out the trash :-)

Weight Training and Race Planning

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Last night I help a friend who is moving to a new apartment move some heavy furniture. I finished off this upper body workout by lifting free weights for 15-20 minutes when I got home. This morning I feel the “workout” in my arms and shoulders. Tonight I have an easy run on the schedule, then another one on Friday.

Sunday I plan on running the Northern Black Forest Marathon in Egenhausen, about an hour’s drive from where we live. This is a low key marathon that welcomes runners, walkers, and Nordic walkers. It consists of two hilly loops over diverse trail types ranging from asphalt to gravel to single track forest paths. I want to use this as a practice run for my 80K/50M event coming up in June. So basically I will power walk the uphills and run the rest.

Last year I finished in 4:42:00, this year I’m not setting any time goals as it is more important that I take it slow so I don’t have any interruption in my training plan.

The Westerwald 50K Forest Run

Last year I completed the Westerwald 50K Forest Run as my first 50K event. This year I am also thinking about running the event, which takes place on May 17th. Each year the organizers change the route, trying to keep the trail interesting and challenging. This year I think they have outdone themselves with the latter part, check out the profile (elevation in meters, distance in kilometers):

westerwald_profile_2007.gif

Enjoying the Early Summer

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On Sunday it was again in the lower 80’s (F) so I took advantage of the weather after lunch and rode my bicycle to Blankenloch (7K) to the swimming pool for some laps. My legs were a bit tired from the hilly HM the day before, but after a few hundred meters they loosened up nicely and I had a good 1000 meter swim. After biking back to the house my wife announced that she wanted to drive to the Rhine river for some cake and coffee and to relax a little.

So we drove the roughly 12K to the Rhine and sat at the Biergarten located along the shore for awhile. This is a popular hangout for cyclists, bikers and locals that like to watch the barges and boats along the river.
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Afterward we took a walk along the ferry landing that is located along this strip of the river and watched the ferry transport cars and cyclists over the Rhine.
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Yes truly a beautiful day!
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Yesterday (Monday) my wife started were new technical writer classes in Mannheim. The other students are also people who are seeking to either change their profession or are looking for a new chance to find work. Surprisingly there are 3 lawyers in the group and a physicist.

I went for a shorter 11K/7M run, then hurried to the store after showering to take care of the shopping. We had leftovers from Sunday so I didn’t have to cook. However later in the evening my wife showed me how to cook turkey breast. Tonight I only need to prepare the pasta and veggies that will accompany the meal. But first I have to help a friend pick up a new couch – gosh my life got suddenly busier!

Straubenhardt lies between Karlsruhe and Pforzheim (Germany) and together with Bad Herrenalb, Neuenburg, and Dobel form the northern portal of the Black Forest. The Straubenhardt Panorama Run is a beautiful, hilly looping course with a panorama view of the valleys below. With bright sunny weather and temperatures reaching into the lower 80’s (°F) last years 1000 participants quickly grew to over 1400 this year.

Several race disciplines were offered including the 10K/HM races and several shorter kids races, as well as 5K and 12K walking events. The race began in Conweiler, a village of Straubenhardt and direct on the Schwaben-Baden border of the northern Black Forest.

The half-marathon started at 1:45 p.m., so I arrived about an hour early. After picking up my number and T-shirt I enjoyed the panoramic view from the sport center for awhile, then got ready to run.
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It was already over 80°F as I lined up with the approx. 300 HM runners at the starting line. Like many I was carrying a water bottle on my belt, it was going to be a warm race. I knew the course had 340 meters (1100 feet) of elevation gain so it would not be a fast race, so I lined up in the mid-pack and patiently waited for the race to begin.
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When the starting pistol sounded we shuffled slowly forward and eventually started climbing the small hill through town and beyond. The gentle ascent continued along a diverse mix of gravel and asphalt bike/farm trails.
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The ascent continued for almost 7K/4.3M, and all it without the benefit of shade! Although most of the ascent was gradual, there was 3 short hill climbs that slowed many a runner to a walk. I took advantage of these opportunities to pass a few racers.
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After around 7K we headed up a steep hill into the Black Forest turning right and finally downhill towards the way we came. The dirt and gravel trail through this section allowed runners to pick up the speed and I did my best to keep from being passed.

At around the 13K point we completed the circle and started the next loop. The second loop followed the same trail for a distance, but cut back at an earlier point. By the time I reached the top of the last hill I was dripping with sweat from the heat and my quads were feeling the benefits of the workout. I had been running fairly conservatively up to this point, as I had only planned on running this as a training run, but as I started the downhill stretch that would cover the last 4K to the finish line I removed the governor and started reeling runners right and left. They were serving my favorite alcohol-free beer at the Finish line and I was late :-)

Here is a shot of the 92-year old Albert Olbrecht winning first place in the Male-80 class for the 10K race!
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I had expected to run an easy 2 to 2-1/4 hour race, but ended up finishing in 1:55:58, a pretty fair time considering a slow start and a hilly course. This put over me the finish line in 130th place out of 269 that finished. I was 27/51 in my age group (M45). More importantly I had a good workout on a hilly course on the hottest day of the year thus far! Hill and heat training all in one session, it just can't get any better than that ;-)

Ninety-two years old and running strong!

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I was just looking over the race results from the local races in my area from last weekend. At the Rheinzabern Easter Run a race acquaintance of mine, Albert Olbrechts, once again captured everyone’s attention by finishing the 10K in 1:25:30. Not remarkable you say? Did I mention that he is 92 years old! He was second place in his age group (male 80), beaten by a man 10 years his junior, 82 year old Armin Tschakert who came in two minutes earlier.

Albert enjoying a drink after his race on Easter:
Albert_Olbrechts.jpg

According to a writeup in a local race report (www.laufreport.de) he is still very active in his running club. This year he is organizing a relay team run from Karlsruhe, Germany to Sicily, Italy! Thirty runners will divide the 2500 kilometer, 10 days and 10 nights non-stop run. This involved contacting 150 towns/cities along the way.

The article went on to say that Albert’s mother lived to be 102 and three of his siblings still living are over 90! His wife is 33 years his junior!

According to an article written for Alberts 90th birthday, he first started racing when he was 57 years old. At the time of this article he had run in 932 events ranging from 100 meters to 100K including a few triathlons. He finished his first 100K race in 12:22 at 70 years old. They remarked that he has a shelf full of Masters gold, silver and bronze medals for capturing one victory after another!

So next time you are loosing steam during a 10K, look over your shoulder Albert may be catching up to you!

My wife was helping a friend (and my coworker) of ours to wallpaper a ceiling late yesterday afternoon not far from where I work. I can do walls, but ceilings are my wife’s speciality. Anyway I rode home with my friend and they started wallpapering and I went for a run.

I had 16K/10M on the schedule so headed out through town and toward the Rhine river which was about 20 minutes away. From there I followed a bicycle trail along the Rhine, eventually circling back through several forest and field trails to where I started. I only managed to get displaced once when I ended up in the middle of a field and had to backtrack and find a new path. I ran for just over 1-1/2 hours so guess I was pretty close to my goal. The new trail added a little spice to my running life, I’ll have to try diversions like this in the future. After the run I showered quick at our friends apartment, then helped them finish the wallpapering.

I signed up for the 80K/50M Karlsruhe Fidelitas Night Run last night, which takes place on June 23-24. I have a good training base from my marathon training, so only need to do some course specific training, mainly hill and night runs. I have already started running my long runs on a hilly course, to include part of the actual 50M route. Several of my long runs through the winter were run when it was dark (at least for the first half) so I really don’t need to do too much here. I will probably do one or two just to check out the lights I will be using.

With the weather warming up rapidly (it is supposed to reach 27C/80F on Saturday) I also need to make sure I run a few runs each week during the heat of the day. The 50M race begins at 5 p.m. whereas temperatures may still be in the 90’s (F). About half of the first 20K of the race is over open fields (i.e. no shade).

I also have a few training races on the schedule that will help prepare me for the race. The first is this weekend on Saturday, a hilly half-marathon. The second is a hilly marathon on April 22nd, and last but not least I hope I can run the 50K race in the Westerwald Forest on May 17th. The latter course has some quad-busting hill climbs that will be the ideal preparatory race for the 50-miler. I want to wait a couple weeks before I sign up for the 50K run to see how my wife’s school is going (and my new role in the housekeeping arena). As plan B I will run a local marathon as a training run.

Here is an elevation profile of the 80K/50M Karlsruhe Night Run, some of you may recognize it from last year. The distance is in kilometers and the elevation in meters.
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Running Through Asparagus Season

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Yesterday was a beautiful day, sunny and bright with temperatures in the low 70’s (F). When I got home from work I had an hour before I needed to meet my running club so I took care of a few odds and ends around the house. My wife was busy baking a monstrous turkey that we bought for Christmas last year and never used. She wanted to get this out of the way before her school starts on Monday (and before it gets too hot outside). I guess I will be eating a lot of turkey sandwiches for lunch this week :-)

I met my running club shortly before 6 p.m. and decided to run with the mid-pack group. The plan was to run the 11K/7M loop with three speed increments. We started out running the first 3K/2M at a 6:10/K (9:55/M) pace. Then the group picked the pace up to around 5:40/K (9:07/M) for 3K, then to around 5:10/K (8:19/M). After 9K/6M most of the group slowed to a recovery jog, I went on ahead at the faster pace with two others. I then tacked on a 3K jog at the end to cool down. I found this to be quite a satisfying workout, as did most, I’m sure we will be doing this again soon.

Do any of you like to eat fresh asparagus? If yes then it’s a great time to visit my area of Germany, because it’s Spargel (asparagus) season in Germany. I mention this because I run between the Spargel fields every time I run and often see the field workers (mostly east Europeans) picking the asparagus. I surfed and found a few pictures that show what I typically see.
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A typical field worker crew:
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One piece at a time!
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As I said we live in one of the main asparagus growing areas of Germany. This is quite evident when you consider that my running club puts on a 5K/10K race each year that they appropriately call the "Asparagus Lauf" (lauf = run). Here is a picture of the running asparagus that alway accompanies the poster and flyers:
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An Easy 15K Run

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If you are using Bloglines, sorry for the multiple posts of my holiday pictures. Somehow breakingthetape wasn't responding to my submit button, so I kept pressing the button like a madman and it got even with me.

Last night I had 16K/10M on the schedule but ended up running only 15K due to a miscalculation when trying out some new trail variations. No big deal, training schedules are only a guide to keep us focused.

I have been using Google Earth lately to mark my running trails, does anyone have an opinion on how accurate Google Earth's measuring device is? I personally find it to be more accurate than measuring the trail with my bicycle.

I lost 3.5 of the 5 pounds that I gained over the long weekend yesterday, I guess it was mostly water gain. At that rate the rest should be gone after tonight’s run.

My wife starts her technical writing school next Monday (16th), she has already asked me what I plan on cooking next week…cooking? You mean like in the kitchen?
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This makes me wonder if I will need to change my work schedule so I do my runs in the morning before work and so I can be home in time to have dinner on the table when my wife returns from her course. I currently leave for work at 5:50 a.m. and get home at 4:05 p.m., which was pretty close to my wife’s schedule when she worked. Now she will be leaving at around 7:30 a.m. and coming home at 6-6:30 p.m.

My wife also tells me that I have assumed numerous Saturday morning duties involving high-tech devices like a vacuum clear and scrub brushes. Can I still move these objects after a 3-4 hour long run? Maybe I should move my long run to Friday nights?

Lots of changes in the wind, I can feel it coming on…

More Holiday Pictures

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Here are a few more pictures from our trip this past weekend. By the way, Furth, Germany is celebrating their 1000 year anniversary this year. I actually considered running the marathon there this year until I found out that it is the same weekend as my 50-mile event.

A few from our hotel – left:
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Then right:
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A fountain down the street from the hotel (across from Saturdays Farmer's Market):
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Another view of the park where I ran (from the north side):
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Here is a Google view of where we stayed in Furth:
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And here is a Google overview of the area where I ran around Furth:
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Easter Vacation in Fuerth, Germany

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I am happy to report that we survived our four-day Easter weekend, including sitting for hours in a major Stau (traffic-jam) on the German Autobahn (expressway), over-indulging in some fantastic restaurants, getting too little sleep and generally having to deal with almost perfect weather (okay maybe the latter wasn’t so bad ;-)

Anyway my long weekend started with, what else, a long run. After work on Thursday I drove to my hilly long run trailhead in Weingarten and beat my quads up with a 3-hour long run. Rather than doing an out and back like I did a week ago, I decided to do a couple loops over some of the more challenging hill climbs. By the time I finished I was dragging, but that was the whole point.

On Friday morning we left for Furth, normally a 2-1/2 hour drive from our house. We made good time until about a half hour from Nuremberg. For whatever reason (or no reason at all) there was about a 20-mile traffic jam, which resulted in an additional hour of travel time. Of course being experienced travelers in Germany, this was programmed in so we arrived at my wife’s Aunt Sigrid right on time.

Aunt Siggi was worried that we were weak from our travels, so insisted we go to the park for lunch. The weather was beautiful and I’m not one to pass on a chance to stuff my face, so off we went. Here is a picture of the Biergarten (beer garden):
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Following the obligatory walk through the park after lunch we checked into our hotel which was nearby, then returned to Aunt Siggi’s for the rest of the day.
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On Saturday morning I allowed my wife to drag me through a couple hundred stores, a farmer’s market, and who knows what else (my mind went numb). As a reward my wife let me go for a run while she went to her aunt to work on her taxes.
farmers_market.jpg

Having run in Furth in previous years, I headed right away to the park where we ate lunch the day before, and the wide-open fields behind this. It was again warm (18C/65F) and sunny day, clear sky, gentle wind – perfect for running. I completed three approx. 4.5K loops around the park and fields, then ran back through a smaller park then to the hotel. Here is a view of the park that I took later on:
park_run.jpg
I ended it up running almost an hour and a half, would have gone longer, but had to meet the ladies for cake and coffee.

On Sunday afternoon my wife again joined her aunt for cake and coffee and I headed to the park for a run. This time I followed a bike path towards Nuremberg, reaching the edge of town before turning around and heading back. According to Google Earth I covered about 12K/7.5M in the seventy-one minutes that I ran. The only downside to my running experience in Furth was that the weather was gorgeous and I forgot to pack my running shorts and suntan lotion ;-)

On Sunday evening we all went to a favorite Greek restaurant for dinner, followed by a local theater presentation of Fiddler on the Roof. Here is picture of the theater (by daylight):
theater.jpg

Monday we again went to the Greek restaurant for lunch with Aunt Siggi, followed by another walk. After cake and coffee at Aunt Siggi’s we fought our way through another Stau back to the house.
stau.jpg

All in all it was a nice weekend, the weather couldn’t have been better. I only have one question: How can it be possible that I gained 5 pounds in 4 days when I ran 3 times???

Happy Easter

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On Tuesday night I went for a 16K/10M easy run around the flat fields and forest surrounding our town. My legs were a bit stiff from my 10K race on Sunday, but I kept the pace down and my legs loosened up nicely during the run. On a weather note it was a nice sunny day, but the temperature had dropped from the lower sixties (F) on Monday to the lower forties and there was an ice cold wind that cut through the skin. Of course I was dressed for sixty degree weather and about froze my tiny behind off…brr.

Tonight (Thursday) I am running my long run as we are going to be visiting my wife’s aunt in Furth (by Nuremberg) over Easter weekend. Of course I will bring my running shoes with me and do some laps around the park in Furth while we’re there. I did this last Easter when we were there, it worked out well. I’ll try to remember to take some more pictures this year. In the meantime here is one to wet your appetite:
gruener_markt_furth.jpg

Do you know that we have some real stars among us at the RBF? I don’t mean glittery movie stars or jocks, no I mean normal people who do amazing things. Two that have left me in total awe this week are Kim and Thomas. Kim just completed her first 100 mile race, pounding the ground for over 29 hours, and Thomas just completed his first ultra (39.3M) at a pace that is almost as fast as my 10K race pace. If you need a jolt of inspiration be sure to read their amazing race reports and find out why they seriously need to find a new name for their blogs!

I am not sure if I will have Internet access this weekend, so let me wish everyone a happy and safe Easter.

What is the Focus?

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Michelle from The Back of The Pack really hit the nail on the head with her comment yesterday:

I think you need to ask yourself what your goal is with one marathon a month. Is it to build endurance? To experience a lot of races? Were you going to focus on speed or improving speed? Whether one a month is too many really depends on what the focus is.”...” So, ask yourself - what is the focus?

So what is my focus? I think I have redefining this every few weeks this year, but it is becoming clearer. My original goal for this year was to run my first 100K, but with my wife unemployed and soon to be in an 8-month school this goal will be postponed. I thought about trying to improve my personal bests across the board, but somehow I’m bored with this idea.

In June is my 50-mile (80K) race, and like last year I want to use a marathon in April and a 50K or marathon in May as training units to build up for this race. With the exception of September, the remaining marathons that I have on my list are scenic countryside marathons that I look forward to doing because I think the courses will be enjoyable. These are marathons where the severity of the courses make it unpractical for setting a marathon record, so I can relieve myself of this self-imposed responsibility, besides I already set a new PR for this year. This means I can have fun, enjoy the races and courses and have time to hang out with like-minded people (Michelle's quote, but I so share this view). At the same time I hope to build up my endurance, tweak my training plan, and improve the consistency of my race pace. So this will be where my focus will be. Maybe speed will follow, maybe not, in any case speed is not a priority.

Recovering slowly

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Yesterday my legs were surprisingly sore for having run only a 10K race, I guess the faster pace (for me) took more out of me than I reckoned with. Last night I went for a walk and spent some time stretching and this morning my legs feel much better.

I was thinking this morning as I was going to work that it seems like I have needed more time to recover from my last marathon (March 11) than from previous marathons. This has me wondering if my plan for a marathon a month is maybe too ambitious for my fitness level this year. When I compare my training this year to last years I tend to believe I was in better shape this time last year. Of course my two races that I have completed so far this year have proved otherwise. Perhaps I am just not as mentally fit this year due to having more life challenges on the agenda. Or maybe my wife is right, she says I am much more impatient lately – this has probably spilled over to my running too...I guess I need to try to relax and just take one step at a time.

Stutensee 10K 2007 Race Report

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On Sunday was the 2nd Annual 10K Stutensee Town Run in Blankenloch. The town of Stutensee is made up of five villages, I live in the village of Friedrichstal which is 5K north of Blankenloch.

I met several members of my running club in Blankenloch about an hour before the race. After collecting our race numbers we stood around chatting for awhile before starting our pre-race routines. It was a mild 11C/52F, sunny and almost no wind as I lined up for the 11:05 a.m. start. From the middle of the mass of 400+ runners for the 10K race I didn’t see any from my running club, so figured the hares were up front and the tortoises behind me. As this was my first 10K race of the year I really didn’t have any particular race goal, although I at least wanted to finish under 50 minutes (my PR is 46:37).
stutensee_start2007.jpg

When the starting pistol went off I was trapped for a bit in the middle of a pack of slower runners, but this probably was better anyway as it prevented me from starting too fast. I still managed to finish the first kilometer in 4:52/K (7:50/M pace). We wound our way through the center of the village, and up and down a couple side streets, eventually crossing into the small industrial/shopping area on the edge of town.
stutensee_1.jpg

I maintained more or less the same pace over the first 5-6K. We headed out of town, up a small incline, and onto an asphalt bike path that goes through the nearby forest.
stutensee_2.jpg

I didn’t do any speed training before the race, so this pace was starting to get to me by kilometer 6. As we entered the forest I saw a couple of people from my running club several hundred feet in front of me and set my focus on catching them. I started pulling people in as they started slowing and I kept my pace going. I passed the two from my running club around kilometer 8 and continued to concentrate on reeling in runners in front of me. Despite my efforts I slowed about 10 seconds during kilometer 9.

As we entered the edge of the village we had less than a kilometer left, so I fought to ease my pace up again. As we rounded the last corner I saw the church (by the finish line) about 400 meters in front of me. I did my best to churn forward, being further motivated by seeing one of my running club 10 paces ahead of me. I ended up catching and passing him finishing 4 seconds ahead of him with a time of 47:45.

I finished 152/373 overall, 140/290 in the men’s overall and 33/56 in my age class (M45). My 47:45 time averages out to a 4:46/K (7:41/M) pace.

The 10K race winners finished in 33:23 (male) and 36:03 (female).

I was kind of surprised with my time, I didn’t think I had been running so hard. This was about a half-minute faster than my race time last year on the same course. So hey a new course PR, I’ll take it!

A 3:13:00 Long Run

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With my 10K race coming up on Sunday I decided to run my long run after work on Friday. My goal was to run at least 2-1/2 hours on my hilly route in the neighboring town of Weingarten. I choose this route because it includes one of the toughest hill climbs of the 50-miler that I want to run in June.

For most of the winter I was running my long runs over flat asphalt and forest trails around my town, so I knew I was in for an ambitious workout as I set out. I warmed up with a fairly level kilometer, than worked my way up the first hill that brought me about halfway up the mountain. Then I cut back down the other side and connected to the 50-mile race trail. Shortly after this I began the 125 meter (approx. 400 feet) climb over about a half-mile distance, not a long climb for many people, but relative to where I live, quite the challenge. I took my time and made my way up to the top and was rewarded with some gentle rolling hills. Here is a view of the uphill climb from last years race:
grozingen_hoch.jpg

And a long distance shot of the hill (taken last year):
Hopfenberg3_grotzingen.jpg

I continued to follow the 50-mile race route, which round its way up and down several more hills, over field and forest paths and along several bike paths connecting a couple towns in the area. I ended up running almost 1 hour 40 minutes before I finally turned around.
A view of the forest shortly before my turn-around point (from last year's race):
Johlingen_to_Woschbach_Hohberg1.jpg

After around 2-1/2 hours I was getting pretty low on energy and was just kind of slogging on ahead. I didn’t have any food or energy drink with me (only water) and still had a ways to go. As I had already met my running goal, so I just took my time and ran or walked depending on how I felt.

I finally arrived back at my car after 3:13:00 and didn’t waste any time wolfing down the PB & J sandwich and bottle of energy drink that I had stashed there. I covered about 26K/16M, although a few of the kilometers were walking. My last long run was only 20K and mostly flat, so I’m not too concerned that I walked part of this one. Part of my 50-mile race training includes walking so I consider this workout to be right on track.

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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