May 2007 Archives

A 20K Road Run

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On the way home from work last night I was debating whether to run with the running club. Although I enjoy the company, I decided that my training has priority and elected to run a 20K/12.5M run on asphalt surface. The 50-mile race is 30-40% asphalt and I’ve been pretty much avoiding running on asphalt since the winter. So I spent just under two hours running around the various bike paths connecting the neighboring towns. I kept around a 6:00/K (9:39/M) pace, which is the pace I want to run on the flat, asphalt sections of the 50-miler. By the end of the run my legs were starting to get sore, the main reason that I generally try to run trails. Mission accomplished anyway.

Peering into the future

If my legs hold out I want to run a marathon in July (mostly trail), August (80% trail) and September (road). I also have a 50K planned for Oct. 27 (60% road). If that wasn’t enough now I have a new plan brewing in my head for a 50 road race on October 6 – for the first time this year I am wondering if this is too much…

Thinking 50 Miles

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In anticipation of higher mileage (for me) this week, I took the night off from training last night. I ran 18K/11M on Monday and plan on doing about the same tonight. I have an appointment at 8 a.m. on Saturday (haircut) so will move my long run to Friday after work, whereas I want to do around 20-24 miles, followed by about half that on Saturday either really early in the morning (best case) or in the evening (worst case). I also hope to do a 10-mile hike on Sunday morning (if I can get my lazy butt out of bed).

Last night I mapped out the entire 80K/50M race route, including kilometer breakdown, using Google Earth. This little exercise has left the course imprinted in my brain where I can hopefully recall it on race day. Basically I need to jog the first 20K, run/walk the next 40K which contains all the hill climbing, then roll down (more or less) the last 20K to the finish, nothing to it right! Here is the profile:
profil80.gif

Because I know better than this I will be concentrating my remaining two long runs on the middle 40K of the course which contains the hill climbs. Then it is only a matter of praying that the temperature doesn’t climb too far up into the 90’s (F) on race day and not doing anything foolish during the race.

An Easy 11-mile Run

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Yesterday was a holiday in Germany (Whit Monday) so I took advantage of a little extra time and ran 18K/11M in the afternoon. Our heat wave is over in a big way, it was cold (11C/52F) and rainy with a nasty wind that thrashed the rain about. I made my way over the fields into the forest 4K/2.5M away where I wound my way over the flat dirt (muddy) trails before heading back to the house. On the way back I came across a fellow runner from my running club and I joined him for 10-12 minutes before he turned and headed home – it was nice having company.

My 50-miler is 3-1/2 weeks away which means the training time I have left will not influence the result to any great extent. My concentration will be on the last 2 long runs, hopefully run on the actual course on the sections that will be run during the night. If all goes according to plan this will leave me with 12 days to taper for the event.

I stopping short of setting any real race goals this year, my training and mental attitude are not as solid as they were last year, so I need to remain flexible. I’m confident that I can complete the event, but I know that it won’t be a walk in the park and need to really be focused when I line up at the start.

A Satisfying Weekend of Training

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It has been a busy weekend, I managed to get my training in but didn’t find to blog about it. On Friday after work, by 34C/93F and humid weather, I headed out for a run. With the heat and humidity I didn’t worry too much about speed. I felt good though and managed a couple faster kilometers in the middle of the run. I ended up running 9K/5.5M at an average pace of 5:37/K (9:03/M).

On Saturday morning I was up at 5 a.m. and by 5:45 running on my hilly route near the neighboring town of Weingarten. It was already 20C/68F and sticky (humid) outside – by the time I reached the top of the first hill I was already drenched with sweat. It started to rain a few drops as I rounded the top of the hill and crossed over to the path that is part of the 50-mile route that I will be running in June. I wound my way over the route, first through the forest, then down through the fields to the Town of Johlingen below, then back up over the fields to the forest on the other side of the valley.

After around an hour and a half I turned around and headed back to where I started, finishing in just over three hours. I walked a couple of the steeper hills, especially on the way back, but otherwise maintained a pretty fair pace, considering my 50K was only 9 days before. As I drove back to the house I passed the bank and noticed it was already up to 28C/83F, pretty warm for 9 a.m.! Luckily it rained later on and stayed reasonably cool.

On Sunday I rode my bicycle the 15K to Karlsruhe to the swimming pool for some laps. It was humid again, but at least not as hot as it has been throughout the week. It was a rainy day and the pool was quite full. I swam about 700 meters and got tired of bumping heads so rode back to the house.

My next race is on June 23, a 50-miler, the next couple long runs will be a pretty good indication of how well I’ll do with it. I looking forward to the challenge anyway. Have agood week.

The main website for the Westerwald 50K run posted some pictures of the race, here are a few choice ones.

The Westerwald Forest Run, wet and muddy...
doro_regen_trail.jpg

...across fields...
andree_anna_wiese.jpg

...uphill...
doro_trail.jpg

...up another hill...
doro_bergtrail.jpg

...and another...
andree_trail.jpg

...and another...
andree_weinberg.jpg

...still not done...
doro_rheinsteig.jpg

...beautiful, right!
landschaft_amazonas.jpg

See you next year Westerwald...
landschaft_nebelberge.jpg

...and not to forget, the Rhine River valley.
landschaft_rhein_schiff.jpg

Last night was a slightly cooler 30C/86F as I ran the 4K/2.5M to my running club’s trailhead. On the negative side humidity was high and I was drenched with sweat by the time I got there. Our club president took a moment to congratulate the five runners who completed the Mannheim marathon last Saturday, a couple set new PR’s, I was sure to congratulate all of them. As I took off running with my usual group a couple asked me how my race went, which I suppose fed my ego (like it couldn’t use a diet).

The group set out way too fast for such humid weather, I had all I could do to hang with them. After a few kilometers half the group sped on ahead and I stayed back with the slower two. One had run the marathon on Saturday and the other a half, so we were all recovering and didn’t particularly feel like hurrying. The heat and humidity really took a toll, I was not happy when we finally finished the 11K/7M loop. Luckily I had a small bottle of sport drink with me, which I downed before running the 4K back to the house. I’m not sure if it was too much, too soon after the 50K or the dramatic change in weather we’ve had this week, but it sure was a hard 19K/12M run in any case.

This morning I have a few sore muscles, but I don’t plan on running again until Saturday morning when I do a 3-hour long run. My main emphasis over the next several weeks will be doing some specific training for my 50-miler coming up on June 23. I spent some time looking over the race course last night. As this is a local event I can train on the actual course. I mapped out 3 out-and-back long runs which will cover about 45K of the course. I want to run these over the next few weekends. These sections include all of the hill climbs and the more challenging sections that I will be running in the dark.

I also want to do a couple shorter runs in the dark over the next few weeks in order to check out my lights and just to get used to this again. I also need to get in as many runs as possible in the heat of the day, as it is very likely to be in the 90’s (F) for the first few hours of the 50-miler. Lastly, I need to do some regular power-walking over the next few weeks as well, I figured out during the 50K that my pace has slowed considerably since last year – particularly on the hills where I need it most.

So lots of work to do in the next several weeks. Happy training!

A Hot Night at the Pool

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After work last night it was 33C/91F outside so I decided to stop at the swimming pool in the neighboring town of Blankenloch for some laps. I got off to a slow start, for some reason my neck and shoulders were really sore, my theory is that it is the new office air conditioner – it blows almost directly over my desk. I ended up swimming around 1000 meters in 45 minutes, a bit slower even for me.

Tonight I want to run with my running club, hopefully it won’t be as hot as it has been the last two days, I’m not adjusted to this sudden temperature change we've had.

For the weekend I am going to run a hilly 2-1/2 hour long run on Saturday morning and/or a half-marathon on Monday (a holiday in Germany). It will probably depend on what my wife has planned, if she wants to study on Monday the I’ll race.

Have a great week!

Who Turned up the Heat?

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I went for a 9K/5.5M run after work, here are my splits (approx. from memory):

KM1: 5:40/K (9:07/M) – warm-up
KM2: 5:00/K (8:03/M)
KM3: 5:00/K (8:03/M)
KM4: 5:00/K (8:03/M)
KM5: 5:10/K (8:19/M)
KM6: 5:10/K (8:19/M)
KM7: 5:20/K (8:35/M)
KM8: 5:40/K (9:07/M)
KM9: 6:09/K (9:54/M) – cool-down

Outside temperature: 34C/93F !!

Temperature four days ago at 50K race: 9C/48F (start) - 11C/52F (finish)

What’s up with the heat wave, can someone explain this please!

Recovery from 50K is Going Well

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My recovery from the 50K run last Thursday is going remarkably well. I had some pretty sore knees on Thursday night and Friday, but otherwise felt pretty good. On Saturday I went for a 5-mile run and felt good enough afterward to where I actually thought about going another round (I didn’t). On Sunday the weather was incredibly beautiful, 28C/83F, windless, sunny – so I went for a 20-mile bike ride – the bike paths were full! I look forward to easing back to training this week.

A few post-race thoughts

The intensity and quality of my training for the 50K this year were scaled back in comparison to last year. As a result I felt like I lacked the vitality that I have enjoyed in other races where I was better prepared. This is also a high baggage year, e.g. life is more challenging and my head is not as clear as it was a year ago.

On the positive side I slogged through the run anyway and finished standing tall and in probably the best of shape ever following a marathon or 50K. I attribute this partially to the slower pace, but also don’t discredit the fact that my training may still be adequate to at least go the distance. I didn't have a single blister during the race, which totally amazed me considering I ran with wet shoes the entire race. Also the hamstring pain that I had almost the entire week before the race was not at all an issue - the race actually seemed to heal the hamstring, it's feels great!

I wore my CamelBak during the 50K, the first time that I have done this on such a long race. I found this to be positive in that I was able to carry salted pretzels and my own sports drink which I believe was an advantage. I only wonder if wearing the backpack slowed me down somewhat, it really is hard to say. I'm debating whether I want to wear it for the 50-miler in June...

The Fidelitas 80K Race

My second annual 50-miler is on the horizon, June 23rd, that’s like 4-1/2 weeks from now. This week I am going to keep the mileage down and will probably run a half-marathon race on Monday (another holiday). Then I want to get in two 3-4 hour long runs on the actual 50-mile course over the following weekends, whereby one should be run at least partially in the dark. That will bring me up to about two weeks before the race, whereas I will probably be better off tapering than trying to squeeze in another long run.

The Westerwald 50K: A Few Pictures

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I found a few pictures of the Westerwald forest from the race last year. It should give you a pretty good idea of the beauty of the area.

An Overview:
westerwaldlauf_1.jpg

Muddy forest trails:
westerwaldlauf_2.jpg

Little hills:
westerwaldlauf_3.jpg

Bigger hills:
westerwaldlauf_4.jpg

A few open fields:
westerwaldlauf_5.jpg

It just can't get any better than this!
westerwaldlauf_6.jpg

The short story: After a long drive and a short night of sleep I wrestled with a wet and muddy 50K beast and crawled over the finish after 6 hours and 56 minutes.

The long story: Right off let me apologize for not taking pictures of my adventure, it was raining so much that I was afraid that I would ruin our new camera, like I did with the previous one.

On Wednesday after my wife returned from school we ate quick and hit the road to Rengsdorf in the Westerwald Forest. It rained most of the way (just like last year) and we didn’t arrive until well after 8:00 p.m. We checked into Suzanne’s Gasthaus (Bed & Breakfast) and I prepared for the race the next morning.

My wife has a bad cold and Wednesday night she had a fitful sleep, which in turn meant that I did too – I was seriously thinking about going out to the car to sleep about the same time the alarm clock went off. With a big sigh I rolled out of bed and we got moving on what would prove to be a long day.

We arrived at the swimming pool where the start of the race was and I picked up my start card. The race didn’t have start numbers, just a card with our name and address on it that we had to get stamped at the five checkpoints along the race course. My wife found a cup of coffee and I mingled with a couple runners that I met last year at the race.

As I lined up at the start shortly before 8:00 a.m. it was raining lightly and around 9C/48F – almost a mirror of last year’s race! The race director cursed the weather and welcomed us to this year’s race. He promised us that the race was much more challenging this year as a couple wise guys complained it was too easy last year (did anyone get their names?).

westerwald2007_briefing.jpg

After explaining how the trail was marked he warned us that the trail was pretty muddy and we should take it easy out there. After the usual “…if nobody has any questions then have a good race, see you at the finish line…” The roughly 70-80 runners then shuffled on out over the start line, the most more concerned with greeting friends then being in a hurry.
westerwald2007_start.jpg
I chatted with a runner from Duisburg that I met last year as we made our way over the relatively flat first kilometer. As we hit the first hill I slowed my pace and the younger man moved on with a friend that was with him. The first two hills were a couple shorter steeper hills that were very similar to what I run every Saturday morning, I chose to keep running at least were the patches of mud allowed this. It was raining harder by this time and the now single-track forest trail was 2-4 inches of mud. This made the climb, and worst yet, the descent to be quite hazardous – I literary slid about 6 feet down the first steep hill, luckily catching a couple trees along the way. A couple less luckier runners were soon covered with mud as they slid down on their butts.

I passed the first checkpoint around the 5K marker at around 40 minutes, about what I planned. As I left the checkpoint the trail went over some runable dirt field paths, then back into the forest and down two descents that would dropped over 800 meters over about 3 kilometers. It was slow going and much harder on the knees then I had reckoned with. I was glad when it finally flattened out.

The route continued over a couple field paths, past a town then again back into the forest on single track as I began the first major climb for the day. I knew this hill was going to be steep, but I was not ready for the severity that I actually encountered. I decided pretty fast to start walking to try to conserve energy. After about a mile the hill actually got steeper and I was breathing heavy by I got to the top (I was walking mind you). After catching my breath I started running again just as I came upon the second control point. After eating a banana and getting a drink I continued on, up a short, steep hill, down, up, - a quick stop at a water (tea) station. Then it was down a longer hill and up a short steep hill that again had me walking against my will. By this time, with around 23K/14M behind me, my legs were already feeling tired - I need to do more hill training!

I started down the longest downhill of the race, which took us down into the Rhine river valley. It was still raining and the mostly single-track forest path was not making life easy. I passed the halfway point shortly before 3 hours, a good 10 minutes ahead of my planned time. The downhill continued to get steeper, the course changed to a gravel path and I was rewarded with a magnificent view of the barges on the Rhine river in the valley below.

After almost 2 miles of downhill I finally reached the bottom and the third control station. I sat for a minute and emptied some small stones out of my shoes, drank some energy drink, ate another banana and a sports bar then headed out for the second major hill climb of the day.

Have you ever seen pictures of the German wine vineyards growing on the side of steep mountains? Maybe you wondered how they can even walk there, let alone plant a vineyard. Well the trail went up just such a mountain, but on the side that WAS too steep to grow grapes! The single-track trail was so narrow and steep that with one wrong step you would fall down to the winding path 10 feet below.

The trail wound its way up the side of the mountain, then onto a gravel road and up through the vineyards – at least you didn’t have worry about sliding down the mountain. I ended up walking most of the uphill, which I pretty much had planned on anyway, it just took longer then I expected. At the top of the vineyards was a tea station and as I was cold from the wind, rain and sweat – I had a hot cup of tea. The view was tremendous, the Rhine river valley far below surrounded by dense forest and/or vineyards on either side.

I took a couple minutes to drink my tea and feast on this scenery. I also did a damage assessment: my legs were toast, I was wet, cold and generally miserable. At least I didn't have any blisters or other issues. I still had around 18K/11M to go…I was a good half hour behind schedule…it was still raining…so, having no other choice, I got on my way.

What goes up must come down, and down I went, another knee busting descent that had me cursing the RD under my breath. By the time I finished the second major descent I was pretty much walking anything that wasn’t flat or downhill, and even then only at around a 7:00/K (11:16/M) pace. My unspoken goal of breaking 6 hours had now changed to hoping I make it in under 7 hours.

At the fourth control point I took a 4-5 minute break and had a steaming bowl of salty pea soup, it tasted so good and normally I don’t eat the stuff. Feeling better I actually ran up part of the next hill until it again turned into a mountain goat trail. I slogged on, trying to jog forward whenever it leveled out a bit, finally I reached the top and managed to run most of the downhill as the trail left the forest and onto gravel and asphalt fieldways. As I passed the marathon point the trail again headed into the forest and up yet another muddy trail. I think this is where I actually walked up a couple sections backwards to give my quads a break – they were hating me by then.

As I headed back downhill the trail again left the forest and I came upon the last control point. They were out of soup, but had plenty of kind words and soon had me motivated to attack the final 5K. Another runner showed up just as I was leaving and somehow this sparked me to pick up my pace a little. She eventually caught me on the next uphill as we again entered the forest and started climbing the last 2-stage hill into the town of Rengsdorf and the finish.

I ran what I could, walked what I couldn’t but in any case kept moving. I crossed the main road on the edge of town and started making my way towards the finish, but I knew it wasn’t going to be that easy – the finish line was only about 400 meters ahead, but I had just passed the 48K/29.8M marker – we were missing 2K. Based on the race course that I had experienced up to this point, for me it was clear – we had to go down into the valley below town again and back up the hill. And that’s exactly what happened! I admit that this was one of the most beautiful sections of forest that I had seen that day, so I guess the RD was just showing his pride in the town he lives, but tell my quads that :-)

In any case I ran most of the way up the final hill, I knew the trail from last year, the finish was just over the hill. I arrived at the finish tired, but happy that I had completed the event. The route was by far the most technically difficult race that I had run to date, though many ultra runners would probably laugh at the “little hills” that we have.

westerwald2007_finish_jack.jpg

My wife was waiting at the finish, had my gym bag with her and I was able to take a hot shower and get into some dry clothes at the swimming pool. After some more hot soup and a couple beers we went back to the B & B for a nap. Later in the evening we went out for some Italian food at a restaurant that we found last year. My legs felt surprisingly good, my wife even remarked how easily I seemed to be getting around. She even snapped my picture - this was about two hours after the race in our B & B.

westerwald2007_relaxing.jpg

This morning I felt even better, better even then after some long runs that I have been on! I do have sore knees, I think this was from all the downhill’s. I have a couple chaffing issues, probably a result of being soaked for almost 7 hours.

So I wasn’t so fast, I walked too much, ran too slow, wasted more time at the control stations, was mentally weaker than normal…but I hung in there, got the job done and saw some beautiful trails that we just don’t have where I live. I didn’t even cuss the race director out, rather shook his hand as I was leaving and thanked him for a great day on the trails – and told him I’ll see him next year...

p.s. My wife snapped a picture of a car window while she was waiting for me. Obviously the car owner is an Ironman and has completed the Marathon des Sables which is totally impressive.
westerwald2007_nopain_nolif.jpg
But my wife was after the German text "Wo Schmerz ist, ist noch Leben!", which I will carry with me during my next ultra. Translated it means "Where there's pain is still life!" - something to think about the next time your hurting...

Getting Psyched for the 50K!

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Last night I took it easy, no running, just a short free weight session in the shed. Tonight I want to go for an easy 45-minute run to loosen up the legs, then its rest until the 50K on Thursday. My hamstring seems to be pretty much recovered. Overall I would say I am in pretty good shape for the race. I wouldn’t go so far as to say my legs are fully recovered from the marathon three weeks ago, but well enough to carry me the distance.

I look forward to a challenging 50K event, with 1400 meters (4600 feet) of altitude difference it should be fun! The weather will be very similar to last year, cool – around 15C/59F, rainy and probably muddy as it has been raining for several days already. What better way to spend a holiday, right!

Tonight we are packing so that we can leave as soon as my wife gets out of school on Wednesday afternoon. We need about 3-4 hours to get to Rengsdorf in the Westerwald Forest - that will leave just enough time to gheck into our B & B, grab a bite to eat, lay out the race outfit and crash. Start time is 8:00 a.m. on Thursday. I'm hoping for around a 6-1/2 finish, but am not going to get stressed out about it. My wife already has the day planned, so I don't need to worry about rushing. We decided to stay Thursday night as well and drive back on Friday. I have vacation and my wife doesn't have classes that day (Thursday is a holiday in Germany).

Happy Mothers Day to all you mothers out there! Okay its actually Monday already as I write here in Germany, but better late then never.

On Saturday I elected to wimp out, I mean reduce my long run for tapering purposes – I only ran around 21K/13M instead of the planned 32K/20M. After about two hours of running up, down and around my hilly course I decided my legs needed a rest before my 50K on Thursday, so quit early ending up with around 2 hours 20 minutes of running. Surprisingly my hamstring hasn’t given me any problem over the weekend, it feels fine.

On Sunday I decided an easy run was appropriate, so headed out for around a 15K/9.3M run. Again my hamstring was not an issue, but overall my legs were tired and I couldn’t seem to get up to cruising speed. In any case I am going to take it easy the next few days, probably just a 45-minute run on Tuesday.

I was looking over the 50K course profile for the race on Thursday, my initial prediction is that I will need at least 10 minutes longer than last year. The organizers change the course each year and this year they have outdone themselves as far as adding severity. But that’s fine, this race is a low key race, there are no placement prizes, only a certificate (if you need one). Like most, I am using the race as a training race for something grander, in my case a 50-miler in June. Many will probably be running the 100K race in Biel, Switzerland in June. I talked to at least five who had this goal last year. Next year I hope to share the same goal!

Otherwise my weekend was hectic, I cleaned up our shed, helped my wife with the housework, barbequed and generally stayed too busy this weekend, where does the time go. Now I only need to catch up with what y'all have been up to.

Swim Night

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I had to finish up a task at work yesterday so left my office an hour later than normal. This ended up being to my advantage as I arrived at the Blankenloch swimming pool and found it almost empty. I was able to knock out my 1000 meters of swimming in the 25-meter long pool without running (swimming) over kids or playing roller derby with other swimmers. I felt so good afterward that I did an extra 100 meters just for fun.

My hamstring seems to be almost normal again, really the only time it bothers now is when I sit for extended periods of time. I have been taking a walk during lunch time with a coworker, his slower walking pace seems to be just right in keeping my hamstring loose.

Tomorrow morning I am going on a long run. I have 32K/20M on the schedule but I’m a bit leery of going the entire distance considering the hamstring pain I had this week. I have decided to run shorter loops over my hilly running route and quit early if the hamstring seems to act up again.

An Easy 12-Mile Run

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My right hamstring was aching again by the end of my workday yesterday, somehow sitting in a chair all day is irritating it. By the time I walked to catch my train after work and from the train to the house at the other end, the hamstring had loosened up and felt fine again. I decided to run the 4K/2.5M to my running club trailhead so I could run with the group. Several of the normal group I run with are tapering for the Mannheim marathon on the 19th, so they were keeping the pace down, this fit to my needs nicely – I completed the loop without undo stress on the hamstring. After chatting with the group after the 11K/6.8M run I jogged the 4K back to the house. This morning my hamstring felt fine when I woke up, we’ll see how it feels after sitting on it all day.

Tonight I want to stop at the swimming pool on the way home from work for some laps, then lift some free weights later on after dinner. I’m taking the next two night off from running, my next run will be a 3-hour plus run early Saturday morning. Then its just a matter of taking it easy until my 50K event on Thursday.

Dare to Dream the Impossible Dream

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I planned on taking last night off from training, but had a lot on my mind so went upstairs in the shed and worked out with free weights for a little while. I have been entirely neglecting this and most other cross-training this year and I feel it! My hamstring only seems to bother me now when I sit down too long. Tonight I want to run with my running club, I’ll see if it bothers or not.

I have been looking over the fence at potential races for 2008 and 2009. We’re hoping that we can visit my family in Upstate NY in 2008, so I have been eyeing a couple 50K/50M races in the area. I also plan on completing my first 100K in 2008, but I don’t know when or where. I have also been looking around for a 100 mile event, but they are few and far between in my part of Europe, so will take some extensive travel.

In 2009 I’ll be turning 50, so am looking for a worthy event to celebrate. A special friend of mine has resparked my interest in an ultra that would fit appropriately, but I’m leaving this wrapped up for now.

As I laid in bed last night trying unsuccessfully to sleep the lyrics to a popular song written by Joe Darion flowed through my mind. Hey special friend if you are reading this keep this in mind as you chase your dreams:

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go.

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star.

This is my quest, to follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far.

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause.

And I know if I'll only be true to this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
when I'm laid to my rest.

And the world will be better for this
That one man scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star.

An Easy 10-Mile Run

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When I got home from work yesterday the first sprinkles of rain were falling and the wind was reaching storm proportions. Although it was a mild 18C/65F, I decided to go with a running jacket in anticipation of more rain.

As I eased out for my 16K/10M loop I monitored my right hamstring. This has been quite painful since my long run on Friday night and the race on Saturday. It loosened up nicely during my 50-minute run on Sunday, but tightened up even worse from sitting at my desk at work all day. I decided it was better to keep the pace down and try not to irritate it any further.

The wind was raging as I wound my way for the first 20 minutes across open fields. It was a relief to finally reach the cover of the woodline and the forest beyond. It sprinkled lightly as I made my way over the gravel and forest paths, I found myself hoping that we would get some decent rain – it had been over a month since it rained and the trails were as hard as stone.

The rain let up by the time I reached the edge of the woods and started back over the open field paths. My hamstring was starting to nag a bit as I turned into the wind. The wind was still blowing fiercely, whipping up the dust and sending an occasion twig flying through the air. My running jacket was acting as a sail making forward progress even more difficult. Finally I approached the last kilometer of the run which was along a line of bushes, then houses, which offered at least some protection from the wind.

I finished my approx. 16K/10M run in 1:39:47, almost recovery pace, but actually I guess it was a recovery run of sorts. My hamstring never really hurt when I ran, I just couldn’t seem to stretch out and pick up the pace like I wanted to.

This morning (Tuesday) my hamstring feels better, but I suppose it will be irritated again when I sit on it all day at work. I wonder if my boss would think I am strange if I lay on the floor and work…

Next Thursday (May 17) is my 50K event in the Westerwald Forest. I hadn’t planned on tapering for this, as it is really not a competitive event per se. However with my hamstring issue I may be forced to slow down a bit including shorting my planned 3-1/2 hour run on Saturday. We’ll see how it goes.

Baden Mile 2007 Pictures

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I found a few pictures of the Baden Mile 2007 on the Internet. By the way the Baden "Mile" is not really a mile if you hadn't noticed - it is 8.88889K or around 5.5 miles. According to history the "Mile of Baden" originates from the Margrave Carl Friedrich, whom the city of Karlsruhe is named after. The 8.88889 kilometer distance was supposed to be the end product of a conversion of an hours journey (by foot I guess) from the Palace to the Hardt Forest which was measured up to 1819 in "King's feet", to the modern metric system. Whatever...

Here is a picture of the start of the race which takes place in front of Carl's old house:
badischemeile_2007_start.jpg
The walkers started 5 minutes later, here is a nice picture showing Carl's house in the background - not bad for a summer home, right!
badischemeile_2007_walkerst.jpg
Here is a picture of the park in Karlsruhe - it got kind of tight along this path.
badischemeile_2007_km1.jpg
Here a picture around kilometer 5 (over halfway). We just crossed a bridge and are about to head through a park that leads to the stadium and the finish line.
badischemeile_2007_km5.jpg
Here is a picture of the finish, or "Ziel" as it is called in German. Lots of positive energy flowing from the crowd!
badischemeile_2007_finish.jpg

I woke up on Sunday morning with a sore right hamstring muscle. I think I stretched it out on my hilly run on Friday night, then further aggravated it during the race on Saturday. In any case it wasn’t fun walking up and down stairs. By the middle of the Sunday afternoon it was still nagging me so I decided to go for a run in hopes of loosening it up a bit.

I headed out for an easy recovery run, slow with special emphasis on good form. The first 5 minutes were painful, but once I got going the hamstring loosened up and I was feeling much better by the end of the 8K/5M run. After the run I walked it out for awhile and stretched good, this morning my leg feels much better. Tonight I plan on going for a 10-mile run, but if the hamstring feels weird I’ll probably cut it back a bit.

On Saturday I ran my 4th Baden Mile race in Karlsruhe, Germany. This is the one that got me started running regularly. That’s right, 4 years and 2 months ago some of my coworkers put me up to the challenge, run a race farther than I ever had before, 8.88889 kilometers (5.5 miles). I took them up on the challenge and the rest has been history.

The race started at 3 p.m., so I had some time to putter around the house before leaving for the race. I left about 2 hours before the start of the race and parked near the finish line. I then took a streetcar across town to where the race began. After picking up my start number I still had about 45 minutes to waist so relaxed on a park bench in the market square – at least until the first drops of rain began to fall. I managed to find a spare corner in the court house where the start numbers were issued, hundreds of runners had the same idea. After about 10 minutes the sprinkling rain let up again and the most wandered outside. I stood in the restroom line for awhile, then headed over towards the start to meet others from my company – there forty-four from my company running or walking.

I chatted briefly with a few from my office, then warmed up by jogging around the castle gardens. A few minutes before the race I line up at the start, trying to stay fairly close to the front, I knew from experience that a lot of time is lost in the mass start.

My right hamstring muscles where quite sore, I think I pushed to hard on the hills the night before. But as the start pistol went off I put these thoughts behind me and tried to break out of the pack as best I could as we wound our way around the palace gardens and out onto the main streets of Karlsruhe. This first part is always the hardest, it is fairly narrow and over 3000 runners were reported to be starting. Needless to say there was quite a bit of pushing and shoving and colorful language as the river overflowed its banks.

I pushed hard the first several kilometers, my hamstring was not happy, but I wanted to put in a good performance, no sense giving my coworkers something to chide me about on Monday. I missed the first kilometer marker, but passed the second in I believe 8:40 (around a 7:00/mile pace). I suspected that I couldn’t keep this pace going the whole race, but I did my best to slow down as slowly as possible.

The kilometers ticked away, with around two kilometers to go my right hamstring was aching and it took all my concentration to keep pushing. My pace was fading fast but I knew if I just hold the pace I would come close to last year’s race time. As I heard the cheering from the stadium and the finish we started climbing a small hill, I pressed past several runners who slowed for this hindrance, with less then a half mile to go I tried to get my legs to move faster, but the more I stretched the more my hamstring ached.

Finally I made a final turn and broke into the stadium. As I saw the finish line less then 400 meters ahead I did my best to sprint around the track. I managed to pass a couple more runners as I finally broke over the finish line. I glanced at the clock and couldn’t believe my eyes, 42:20, a new PR - thirty-seven seconds faster than last year!

I caught my breath, picked up a sports drink and headed over to the finish line to cheer in the coworkers who hadn’t arrived yet. Several of us ended up giving our support. As the last runner from my company arrived most of my coworker dissipated, but I decided to wait for a friend (and coworker) Barbara, who was walking the event. Her brother, who works in my office and also ran the event, was also waiting. We waited for about 10 minutes as numerous walkers finished, then I decided that Barbara must be having a hard time so decided to run out and meet her. Her brother was still beat from the race so declined. I jogged back out onto the course dogging walkers and the occasional runner as I went. As I started down the hill that led up to the stadium I saw Barbara slowly climbing up the hill. I fell in with her and tried to encourage her. As we headed down the other side of the hill she picked up her form again and we took off at a pretty good power walking pace. As we entered the stadium I could see the relief on her face as we marched around to the finish. I joined her brother on the sidelines and let her have her moment of glory for herself as she crossed the finish. Cool!

A 3:12:00 Hilly Long Run

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After work yesterday I drove to the trailhead in Weingarten, 12K away, to run on my hilly training route. I warmed up on a relatively flat stretch of forest for 5-6 minutes then headed up the side of the “mountain” for the first roughly 400 feet climb. I felt kind of stiff as I wound my way up the hill, but as I reached the top and started running over the rolling hills I loosened up and was able to enjoy the run.

I ran for about 30-35 minutes on top of the mountain, until the trail took me down into a small valley with an approx. 300 feet climb out on the other side. I was still feeling good and reached the top without really noticing the effort. I continued on over some rolling hills, then headed down the side of the mountain to my starting point, passing this point (around 14K/9M) in just over 1-1/2 hours.

So I started the second round and this time the first hill climb slowed me down considerably, but once I got over the top I picked up speed again. As I passed the two hour point I noticed that my speed was declining. I tried to pick it up again, but somehow I just couldn’t seem to get enough steam. I plodded on the best I could, making a conscious effort to push going downhill.

I finally circled around to the trailhead after 3:12:00, almost 11 minutes slower than the first round – yikes. I decided to call it a day, so walked it out for 5 minutes, did some stretching until the mosquitoes drove me nuts, then headed home. My pace was about 30 seconds slower per mile then normal, but on the other side I ran straight through without any walk breaks.

My quads are sore this morning, which should make my 8.9K race this afternoon interesting. I’m going to give it my best shot anyway, the adrenaline may push me to a new PR, who knows :-)

A Day Off from Training

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Last night my wife and I quietly celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary, time sure flies when you are in love! We went to our favorite Greek restaurant and sat outside in the Biergarten, it was quiet for a Thursday night and we enjoyed each other’s company.

Tonight I want to run at least 3 hours on my hilly long run route. As I have probably said at one time or another, part of this trail is a section of the 80K/50M race route that I will be running in June. In any case it provides the best hill training opportunity in the otherwise flat area where I live.

On Saturday is the 8.9K Baden Mile race, at 3 p.m. in the afternoon. The weather forecast is interesting - for the first time in over 4 weeks it is supposed to rain, my guess is at 3 p.m.. I'm actually hoping that it does, it will eliminate some of the competition ;-)

I have stopped short of actually having a race strategy. With over 3300 runners expected at the start it is going to be crowded for the better part of the race. If I can break out of the pack early on then I'll go for a new PR, otherwise I'll just go with the flow.

Back to Work

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My friend is finally moved, I put a good dent in my projects at home and I am back to work – so hopefully I can get back to my training routine. This is important as my longer races are cropping up really fast. In two weeks is my first 50K event, on May 17th (a holiday in Germany). In seven weeks is my 50M race, the Karlsruhe Fidelitas 80K Night Run. The next 4-5 weeks of training are important!

Last night I ran with my running club. We were about 30 people in 4-5 groups. I settled in with a group of seven, the most of which are training for a marathon in two weeks. We warmed up with a slow kilometer, than picked up the pace in two increments, finishing the last 10K of the 11K loop in just under 54 minutes – an average pace of about 5:24/K (8:41/M) for the 10K.

On Saturday is the 18th Annual 8.88889 kilometer (5.5M) Baden Mile race in nearby Karlsruhe. I am signed up with 40-some other individuals from my company, it should be fun. The race has grown so fast in the past couple years that organizers have limited participation to 3300 this year – there were too many complaints of congestion at the start of the race. Participants don’t wear chips, so I guess the speedies lost too much time at the start. I guess they forgot that the run originated as a fun run.
schlossplatz2006.png

The run begins in the heart of Karlsruhe, a city of 285,000, in the gardens between the market square (Marktplatz) and the castle (Schloss). The first quarter mile is extremely dangerous as you have to zig-zag between a bunch of trees located along the way. The last couple years I actually saw people run full gas into trees on a few occasions, must be the adrenaline :-) The asphalt race course winds its way through the city streets for the first half, then back through a park to one of the soccer stadiums on the other side of the city.
streckenplan.jpg

I don’t really have any time goals for the race, it would be nice to finish under 45 minutes, but on the other side I don’t want to risk injury at the mass start trying to gain a few minutes. I am running my long run the night before, so will be running on tired legs anyway. In any case I plan on having a good time, I’ll have lots of coworkers around me, so it should be fun.

Moving Day Blues

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Busy, busy, busy has been on my agenda the last week. I took a vacation day to help a friend move on Friday. It ended up taking Friday and Saturday. On Monday I also had vacation, and spent it trying to catch up on my own odd jobs around the house. Today (Tuesday) was a holiday in Germany, and we finally took some time to relax.

I did squeeze in my runs in between the moving and other activities. I went on a short run on Saturday morning before helping with the moving. With exhausted legs and a slightly sore back from moving heavy furniture I set out on Sunday morning at 5:45 a.m. for my long run. I ran for 2 hours and 49 minutes up and down the hills in a neighboring town, Weingarten. My legs were feeling like pudding by the time I finished – but I didn’t expect anything less a week after running a marathon and after carrying furniture and boxes for two days. I was 11 minutes shy of my 3-hour goal, but decided it was close enough.

Today I ran an easy 16K/10M around the fields and woods around my town. The weather was a pleasant 24C/75F, clear sky, gentle breeze – perfect!

So tomorrow its back to work, hopefully I can catch up on what you all have been up to the last five days, today was the first time I turned my computer on in that amount of time – not normal for me.

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