October 2007 Archives

Climbing the highest mountain.

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During the 2007 race season I noticed that I have been gradually slowing down during my training runs. While this is not necessary a bad thing for real long races, it is not good for the shorter races that I like to run from time to time. I also had some trouble on the larger hills during my last 50-miler.

As part of my projects during the off-season I like to try new training ideas, so I have been thinking about how to increase my endurance on the hills and overall speed (in that order).

I spent some time last night looking for the steepest and longest hill in our area. I came up with a 130 meter (426 feet) climb over 1.5 kilometers (0.93 miles). I know some of you would consider this a tiny foothill, but that’s all we’ve got. My intention is to do hill repeats when I start doing specific training next year. I ran part of this hill last summer, my quads melted after two loops – in other words this should the perfect hill to train on in a hill-challenged region. I found a picture that I posted last March - the route goes from the church on the bottom right side to behind the church on the top of the hill on the left:
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I also marked out a roughly 600 meter stretch for some speed/endurance work. In the middle of the stretch is a railroad bridge. The idea is to sprint (e.g. 5K pace) roughly 300 meters up to the middle of the bridge, jog 300 meters down the other side, turn around and repeat until your quads turn to jello. A friend of mine swears this did wonder for his 10K best, I’m more spectacle. I added 4 repeats in the middle of my normal 9K run last night and definitely feel it in my legs this morning. In any case it was a nice change of pace, it was fun pounding up the little hill like a madman :-)

Tentative Race Schedule for 2008

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I’m doing my best to enjoy my post-race season, whereas I have reduced my running and am just trying to enjoy each run rather than think of it as a workout. But quite frankly I am getting bored and restless and feel the need to be training for something, anything really...I mean this is what motivates me to get out and run.

Actually I do have a tentative race planned for January 26 (2008), a 50K race in Rodgau. But this race takes place in the dead of winter and the decision on whether I participate will depend on road conditions (it’s a 2-hour drive).

The race consists of ten 5K loops, so my intention is to treat the race as a long run and run as many loops as I feel like on that day – if that’s 50K worth, great. I’m not a winter racer, I don’t hold up well after 3-4 hours in the cold, let alone 6+ hours for an ultra. In any case I plan on running 25-30 miles a week until the beginning of December, then start increasing the mileage, especially the long runs.

I have been working on a tentative race schedule for 2008. This may change drastically depending on whether my wife finds work or not (she is attending school until December):

January 26: Rodgau 50K (by Frankfurt, Germany)
March 9: Bienwald Marathon (Kandel, Germany)
May 1: Westerwald 50K (Rengsdorf, Germany)
June 13: Biel 100K (in Switzerland)
and/or
June 28: Fidelitas 80K (Karlsruhe, Germany)
July-September: undecided
October: Canandaigua 50M (Canandaigua NY)
or
Schwabischer Alb 50K (Schwabisch Gmund, Germany)

Enjoying Autumn and the Off-season

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I have been really busy at work since I returned from vacation. This is normal, but I do apologize for neglecting my blog and bloggers.

I have also been in a post-race-season slump of sorts. I think this is my body’s way of getting even for pushing it to the limit all year long. My runs have been sluggish, I have been humbled by a cold or bug that has been going through my department at work, and I feel like a bear in dire need of going into hibernation – complete with stuffing my gut and being sleepy all the time.

Despite this post-race-season-syndrome phase sounding like a dreary place to be, actually I know that it is normal and fulfils a purpose, namely forcing me to slow down and rebuilt the body. Last year after my last marathon I barely let the mud dry on my running shoes before I started training for the next year. This year I am trying to be more patient, despite my ego crying for redemption after failing to finish my last race.

Somehow I think our creator understands the end of race season and provides falling leaves, crisp air and the unfailing beauty of autumn to sooth the transition before next year’s training begins :-)

Training this weekend:

Saturday: 17K/10.5M run (9:15/mile pace)
Sunday: 9.5K/6M run (9:20/mile pace)
Sunday: Two hour leisurely walk.

My Marathon Experiment 2007

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Last night I ran 11K/6.8M with my running club. Due to my vacation and travels this was the first time in almost a month that I was able to participate. It was nice seeing my friends again and sharing a running experience with them. We kept the pace down, running the 11K in around 67 minutes.

It was a bit uncomfortable for me to try to explain why I had such a difficult time during my recent 50-mile race, mostly because there really isn’t a clear reason why this happened. Most that I talked to shared the consensus that I simply ran too many marathons this year, an opinion that I don’t completely share, but really can’t find a strong argument against either.

From my point of view, I think I was doing fine with a marathon a month until I cut my knee open in August and missed three of my longest long runs – this left me in good enough shape for a marathon 3 weeks before the 50-miler, but not for the 50-miler itself. I honestly believe if I had not injured my knee, finishing the 50-mile race would not have been an issue.

In any case my marathon a month experiment was successful as it taught me a lot about what I am capable of and I learned that when I am pushing to the limit it does not take much to throw me off track. I completed 6 marathons (including a 50K and a 50M) in seven months, as well as running 42.5 miles of the 50-mile race in the eighth month. This was much more than I ever thought I could do and am totally satisfied.

Summary of marathons ran during 2007:

March: Bienwald Marathon – 04:29:36 (new PR)
April: Northern Black Forest Marathon (Egenhausen) – 04:37:10
May: Westerwald 50K – 06:56:00
June: Fidelitas Night Run 80K/50M – 09:25:56 (new PR)
July: Hornisgrinde Marathon – 04:14:13 (new PR)
August: Knee injury – no marathon.
September: Baden Marathon – 04:23:53 (second best time)
October: Canandaigua 80K/50M – completed 42.5 miles

Last night after work I stopped at the 25-meter swimming pool in Blankenloch for some laps. This was the first time that I went swimming for several months, but quickly fell found my pace and knocked out 600 meters freestyle, 400 breast stroke – not a bad beginning.

In the weight control (I hate the word diet) department I am also doing well. I have already brought my weight down from a post-vacation high of 77kg/170lbs. to a pre-race weight of 74kg/164lbs. My short term goal is to continue this trend and try to reach and maintain 70kg/155lbs. by the end of the year. It would be nice to start next years race season slim and trim :-)

Picking up the tempo

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Last night I headed out for another 9K/5.5M run. After warming up for 10 minutes I tried to pick up the pace, finally hitting a couple sub-8:00 minute miles before winding down with a kilometer cooldown. I haven’t really tried to do any speedwork since the early spring, this was quite evident as I ran. Tonight I want to stop at the swimming pool and do some laps, it has been months since I was there last – I hope I remember how to swim.

Winding down the race season

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I arrived home from New York last Wednesday and have been stricken with a cold ever since. Friday I was bed-ridden with fever, but have slowly improved since then. I did get in an easy 9K/5.5M run on Sunday afternoon, but the effort left my head pounding. Today is my first day back to work and I anticipate a mountain of work upon my arrival – I hope I can shake this cold soon enough.

My race season is over for this year, other than a 10K or two that I may do just for fun. I began the year without any specific goals in mind, other than to try to improve my marathon and 50-mile personal records. I ended up improving my marathon time by over 15 minutes and my 50-mile race time by over 55 minutes.

Mid-way through the race season I decided to try to see how many months in a row I could run a marathon (or further), running 5 in 5 months before a knee injury caused me to miss a marathon. I went on to run a sixth marathon a month later, despite missing several key long runs.

I also ignored all the warning signs that my body was communicating to me and decided to try a second 50-mile race this month. I was hoping that my determination and experience would make up for a lack of training and I would at least cross the finish line under the 12-hour cut-off. But alas it was not to be and I threw in the towel at mile 42.5 when it was clear that I would not make it in the allowed time. Do I regret not gutting it out and finishing anyway? You bet!

So as I seek to rid myself of my cold, I am at least forcing myself to rest and finally let the body start to mend. The multiple marathons that I have ran since March definitely took a toll on my body, I have been feeling it for a couple months.

My short term plans include a reduction of mileage for at least a month and an increase in cross-training – primarily swimming and some weight training. Around the beginning of December I will start working on next year’s base in anticipation of a new year of racing. I have lots of ideas, but specific events will depend on how soon my wife finds work, my own job and the continuing health of my parents.

Race Report:: Canandaigua 50 Mile Race

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The Canandaigua 50 mile race course was just as beautiful as I had imagined that it would be. The course was also just as challenging as I had anticipated it to be. As I toed the line at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday (Oct. 6) I was prepared for a difficult race, little did I know how prophetic this would be.
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I ran the first 15 miles at a slow but steady pace, for I knew there were some tough hills ahead and my preparations for this race were much less than my 50-miler in June.
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Lara, my crew chief was doing really well at keeping me motivated and I enjoyed chatting with other runners from time to time.
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As I began my climb of the infamous Bopple Hill, the bear of the race, I started walking up the incredibly steep hill.
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I had barely gone 2-300 feet when I started to feel nauseous and a bit dizzy. I drank from my water bottle and tried to continue, but it became so bad I had to sit on the guardrail for a moment. After a few seconds the feeling passed so I continued on, but in a couple minutes I again felt overwhelmed. I sat down on the guardrail for a bit until the feeling cleared, then continued. This went on the entire way up the hill. Lara was waiting at the top of the hill and someone said to her that she should bring me some water. She met me a few hundred feet from the top and we walked up together.
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I really didn’t know what was going on with my body at this point, I had never felt so nauseous during a race, especially less than a third of the way into a race. At the top of the hill I drank heavily and headed off again. After awhile I could run some, but anything that resembled elevation gain had me walking.
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Lara met me a couple times over the next few miles and gradually I did start feeling better, but I just couldn’t get back up to speed again.
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By the 20 mile point I was becoming very concerned about reaching the next aid station, let along finishing the race. My super crew Lara was tough and kept me moving.
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I ran/walked to the aid station just past the marathon point. I past the 26.2 mile marker in around 5:59:00, a full 1 hour and 20 minutes slower then during my 50-mile race in June.
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If anyone could have given me a reason to stop at that point, I think I would have. I could barely run anything that wasn’t downhill, and wasn’t so sure if I wanted to continue – but no one offered me an excuse so I moved on out towards the next aid station. About the only reason that I could find in my head to keep going at this point was that if this race was going to beat me it was going to have to take me down kicking and screaming.
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I continued on the best that I could, but merely a shell of my normal self, I had never, ever experienced such a bad race before. Let me insert a note about the weather at this point. According to Lara the temperature was hovering in the high 80's, almost record temperatures for western NY in October. To top it off it kept raining with alternating bouts of sunshine - which turned the race route into a sauna.
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I made it to the aid station at the 31.3 mile point and Lara informed me she was going to jump in at the next aid station (Vine Valley) to pace me. The Vine Valley aid station, at mile 35.6, was the first chance that pacers had to pace. Originally Lara was going to pace beginning at mile 42.5. This girl knew I was in trouble and responded in such an overwhelming manner that I get all choked up about as I write – I think I can never find the right words to express what this meant to me…
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Anyway I shuffled on to Vine Valley and shortly after this Lara joined me.
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I was jogging the downhills for the most part, but just couldn’t get my legs to move on the rest. Lara did her best to try to at least keep my walking pace strong, but I knew we were racing against the clock. We passed through the next aid station at mile 38.8 and I tried to do the math as we walked up the hill leading from there. I still had enough wits to figure out there was no way short of a miracle that I could beat the 12-hour cutoff.
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We arrived at the second to the last aid station at mile 42.5. A race official had just arrived in his car and I looked him in the eye and he told me what I already knew, I had 1-1/2 hours to travel 7.5 miles. Based on my last 10 miles I knew that I needed much longer than that and we would be arriving at an empty finish line and in the dark. Nothing that I had tried in the last 27 miles had worked to get me running properly again, so I sadly threw in the towel and plopped into a chair.
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As I write I deeply regret not pushing on to the finish, maybe I wouldn’t feel as lousy as I do if I had at least crawled over the finish line. It was a bitter pill to swallow and the taste lingers in my mouth. I can come up with an extended list of little things that probably contributed to my fall, all related to race preparation and my travel. To be sure the high-80’s temperature and humidity on race day didn’t help. If it is any consequence I believe I ran the best race that I knew how, I just didn’t toe the line with a full tank of gas.
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I do want to take this opportunity to thank the best crew person that I could have asked for. Lara you went above and beyond to keep me going and I know that without you I would not have found the fortitude to go as far as I did. I hope that I will have the chance to come back and take on this race again in the next year or two. And when I do I can only pray that you will be there for me, because then I know I will have every advantage that a runner could ask for! Sis, you’re a superstar!
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Short Recap: The Canandaigua 50

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I have been trying to find words to describe my Canandaigua race experience, but can find any to do it justice. It was a wonderful race, with all the beauty and challenge that I had hoped for. Unfortunately I toed in the line ready to race, but not on this course. Early on it turned into a slogging session and as I arrived at the 42.5 mile aid station with nearly 10-1/2 hours behind me the race official questioned whether I could finish the last 7.5 miles in 1-1/2 hours and sadly I was honest with myself and him and threw the hat in.

There was certainly no single cause for what proved to be my most difficult race ever, I ran a well thoughout race from the beginning, but ran into unforeseen problems and could not rally. I will post an extended version of the race when I return to Germany next week. Until then I will be licking my wounds and start thinking about Canandaigua 2008 :-)

About this Archive

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

September 2007 is the previous archive.

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