February 2008 Archives

Trying to Avoid the Flu

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My wife has the flu, so I have been trying to take up the slack at home. I also have been trying to avoid her so I don’t get sick too – call it pre-race paranoia if you will.

I have been thinking about my marathon which is coming up on March 9th. A review of the eight marathons that I have run over the last couple years revealed that my best time was achieved when I started out at a slower pace and held it for most of the race. So my goal is to do just that, try to maintain an even pace for the entire race. I am thinking of 10:00/mile (6:15/kilometer) which will bring me over the finish line in under 4 ½ hours. I finished the same race last year in 4:29:26, so this would leave me in a position to improve my course time.

I think this is a reasonable goal for my first marathon. I have a 50K race on the schedule three weeks after the marathon. I am leaving an open window on this race, it will depend on how fast I recover from the marathon – I may scale down to the 25K race if I don’t feel I am up to it.

A 13K Run with Friends

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Last night I arrived at the local research center right behind one of the group that I run with. We were surprised to find the parking lot empty and quickly discerned that the group had moved the meeting place to our summer location, e.g. the normal running club trailhead. We were both absent from last Saturdays club run, so naturally didn’t get the message about the change. This change also meant that we were 45 minutes early, so we discussed our options and decided to drive a mile down the road to the backside of the trail that the group would take and backtrack until we ran (sic) into them.

We set out at a good pace, but my friend was motivated and soon we were trotting along at nearly my 10K race pace (almost 8:00/mile). This was not particularly good for me as I still had a lingering cold and had trouble breathing, but I sucked it up and tried not to complain. After around 5K we met the first of the group, who was on a short warm-up round. The three of us continued on to the main trailhead just as the rest of the group was beginning their run.

The seven of us then started over the same trail that I had just arrived on. I was thankful for the less aggressive pace that the group chose, and easily made it back to roughly the 7K point where my car was parked. I ended up with just over 13K/8M, which was my goal for the night.

My first long race of the year is coming up soon, a marathon on March 9. I am not feeling especially positive about the event this year. I am not feeling as strong as I was last year at this point in time, so feel like I am approaching the race much less prepared than I should be. With long, flat, straight, out and back sections this is a very mentally challenging race. I prefer winding forest courses with enough elevation change to keep the legs loose.

In any case I am going to taper a bit until race day, we’ll see how it goes.

Last Long Run before Marathon Day

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On Saturday I was up before first light, eager to get in the last long run before the marathon. I drove to the trailhead of my hilly route in the neighboring town of Weingarten, 12K away. After a few warm-up calisthenics and an easy, relatively flat kilometer, I headed up the first hill. I have been purposely slacking off from the Crossfit workouts this week and as a result the climb felt much easier than previous weeks.

I reached the top of the hill and turned onto a trail that is part of the Fidelitas Night Run 80K race course that I run in June. This course offers a good variety of asphalt and forest paths, as well as several good hill climbs (and descents), so I decided to do an out and back. The sun kept peeking out from behind the hillsides as I rolled over several valleys. The morning was slowly coming to life, people walking their dogs, several loggers cutting firewood, and a couple fruit growers pruning trees. It was due to rain later in the day, so I guess everyone was trying to get an early start.

After an hour and forty-five minutes I turned around and headed back over the same trail. I was still feeling good and was able to maintain a fairly even pace, except for a couple of the steeper climbs. A half hour later I could feel the first signs of weariness and it was soon after this that my pace started to dwindle. I paused to eat a sport bar, then pushed on, winding back off the 80K course to my normal hilly loop. As I approached the last mile that would bring me back to my car I guessed that I was still a mile or two short of my 20-mile distance goal, but decided to call it a day, I had over 3 hours 20 minutes on my feet – that was enough.

My first marathon of the year is on March 9, less than two weeks away. The Bienwald (Bee Forest) marathon is not my favorite, it is flat and at least 60% asphalt with motivation-sapping out-and-backs that just drain my mental energy. But this is the reason I am running it again this year, it is great mental preparation for my ultra races.

I am really not in the shape that I would prefer for this race, I have done far too few longer long runs and almost no speed training. I am hoping that at least the weather will stay mild, a sudden cold spell would be hard. Well time to start tapering for race day!

Running, coughing and working long hours

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It has been a busy week so far, here is a quick summary. I went for a quick 9K run on Monday night, which I posted about last time. On Tuesday I woke up feeling like I had some fever, but it was only slight so I went to work.

On Wednesday I was feeling better but not great so found myself debating whether to run or not. My right leg was also feeling a little sore, left over from twisting it last week, so I had lots of excuses. I decided to head out the door anyway. I ran the 4K to my running clubs trailhead at a gentle trot, feeling okay when I got there. I knew that I wasn’t up to a fast paced run, so fell in with the mid-pack.

We headed out over the 11K loop and settled into a roughly 10:00/mile pace. I was congested and fighting a runny nose so was totally satisfied with this pace. At the 5K point one of the runners who was also fighting a cold said he was going to take the short cut and only run 8K. This sounded good to me at the time so I ran back with him. Back at the trailhead we departed, he drove home, I stretched for a minute then headed over the 4K stretch back to the house. It was dark by this time so I took it easy and tried to get home in one piece.

Today (Thursday) I spent most of the day sitting in meetings, then headed to the doctor after work to have my stitches removed. The doctor said my head had healed nicely, but the threads out and I was free. The sun was shining, it was 52F and I was itching for a run. I suited up and was out the door in a flash. My leg was feeling fine, but I took it slow the first 10-15 minutes. But my leg continued to feel fine and I had my MP3 player blaring, so my speed crept up to a good trot, probably around 8:00-8:15/mile (5:00-5:15/K). I finished the roughly 9K/5.5M run in 51:07, not bad considering a slow start.

Tomorrow after work we are picking up my wife’s new ride, I’ll try to post a picture.

On Saturday morning is my last long run before the March 9 marathon, a 20-miler (32K). I really haven’t trained hard enough to do well with the marathon. I am hoping that I have trained enough that I don’t have to crawl to the finish line. The first marathon of the year is always the hardest for me, I guess my mental strength isn’t as well developed so early in the season. We’ll see what happens!

A Hurried 9K Run

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Last night we stopped at the Renault car dealer to sign the paperwork for my wife’s new ride. We set an appointment to pick the car up on Friday after work.

I have a friend that I sit with on the street car every morning on the way to work. I mentioned that we were at the car dealer on Valentines Day. Her response was wild, “Really, my husband too!”

I knew that Sandra and her husband drive a Renault, and one of the reasons we are buying a Renault this time around is because of the positive marks they have give the brand. Anyway, getting back to the conversation, I mentioned that we were at the dealer in Linkenheim, and again she said “My husband too!”

Just out of curiosity sake I asked the name of the salesman – you guessed it - the same one! It turns out that we both bought new cars from the same salesman just hours apart, and neither one of us really had planned on it – it was more spur of the moment.

When I got home it was an hour past the time I usually meet my friends to run around the local research facility (sorry Conny), so I did a shorter run around the fields surrounding my town before it got too dark.

A 30K Long Run

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With my first marathon three weeks away I tried to make the long run for this weekend challenging. I began by running a 9K/5.6M run on Friday night after work. Then 14 hours later I began my long run. I set out at my planned marathon pace of around 9:30/mile. It was cold (26F) with a constant wind that cut through the bones as I headed out over the fields to the forest beyond. The sun was just coming out and I hoped it would warm up soon.

The first two hours came and went, and despite the creeping temperature I was starting to get quite cold, especially my legs. I left the forest and took a loop around the field. The wind had died down and the sunning was warm and inviting. I had a harder and harder time to maintain my pace, eventually slowing to what felt like a crawl.

I kept trudging on and eventually wound my way back to the house. I finished the roughly 30K/18.6 run in about 3:13:00, a bit slower than I wanted, but okay considering the cold. I don’t feel quite as strong as I should be with a marathon looming on the horizon, but I guess I can fight my way to the finish.

Next week is a busy week, my wife needs to pick up her new car, I have several important meetings and a major project to wrap up by Friday. A good mix of business and pleasure anyway, have a nice week!

Taking a Breather

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I pulled a muscle Monday night doing speedwork and it was still a bit sore yesterday, so last night I decided to meet my wife at her work and we went together to pick up a birthday present for a friend that has birthday on this weekend. We stopped at Maria Buytaert’s candle factory for a special present. Maria is a member of my running club and just a super person to know.

Shameless advertising plug:

Maria has been making handmade quality candles with a Danish design since 1969 and she ships worldwide. Her website offers information in German, English and Italian, so if you are looking for a special gift stop by her website at http://www.maria-buytaert.de/index.php

End of shameless advertising plug!

Valentines Day is not a big deal in Germany, but it is catching on fast. Normally I try to get a little something for my wife, but didn’t seem to get around to it this year. As we were leaving the candle factory I stopped at a neighboring business and we looked around for a suitable present. After awhile my wife found something that she really liked and we considered buying it. It cost a little more than the normal box of sweets or flower that I buy on Valentines Day, so we decided to wait overnight to decide. Later after much discussion, and despite it not being heart shaped and red, we decided to buy this. Do you think it is better than a box of chocolates?

A 12-Mile Run at Marathon Tempo

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Last night I ran the 4K to my running club trailhead. I pulled a muscle on Monday nights run, so decided to run the 11K loop with the middle-speed group. It was still light out as we started around and there was enough moonlight for the rest of the run. We kept up a fair pace, averaging just over 10 minutes/mile. The temperature dropped drastically while we were running from 50F to 35F, I could really tell the difference as I ran home.

Anyway, I ended up with a total run of 19K (12 miles) at an average pace of about 6:00/K (9:40/M) which is right around my planned marathon pace. The running club also had our monthly meeting last night, so I skipped the Crossfit workout so I could attend.

First Marathon in 3-1/2 Weeks!

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Last night I practiced some of my weight lifting, e.g. deadlift, power clean, clean and jerk etc., using lighter weight. I then finished up with 100 rows and some pull-ups. Tonight my wife needs the car to go to a doctor’s appointment, so I plan on running the 4K to my running club’s trailhead, completing the 11K run, then running back. This is a good way to get in a 19K/12M medium long run.

I was thinking about my running plans for the year. I have been building my training level up a little slower than normal, I think in part due to an extremely busy work schedule, but also because I seem to lack the drive that I have had over the last few years. Maybe I am just tired of the cold winter winds and dreary landscape and impatient for springtime to show up.

With my first marathon only 3-1/2 weeks away I guess I’ll find out soon where I’m at. My longest run so far this year has been 17-1/2 miles. I plan on getting in an 18.5 and 20 mile run in over the next two weekends, which will leave me two weeks of tapering. I really don't plan on setting any personal record, so won't reduce my mileage by too much before the race. Physically I am pretty confident that I can finish the race in 4-1/2 hours or less, but I know from experience that the first marathon of the year is a mental battle for me.

My plan is to go out easy and try to stay relaxed and not worry too much about when I finish - maybe this will keep me from going out too fast and dying the last 10K like I usually do with the first marathon of the year. I mean the first one really doesn't need to end up with a death march, right. Better to save that for a race later in the year ;-)

Race Planning: Westerwald 50K on May 1

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I think the friendly people who put on the 50K race May 1st in Rengsdorf in the Westerwald Forest have really out done themselves this year. They strive to provide a challenging race and by the looks of this profile they haven’t disappointed us:
west_50K_profile2008.gif

After my marathon in March I am going to have to do some serious hill training, especially downhill, yikes!

I stopped at the doctor on the way home from work yesterday so he could take a look at my head. He said what I already knew, the wound was healing nicely and may start to itch. I made an appointment in ten days to get the stitches taken out and hurried home for my run. I was a little late meeting my friends for a run around the local research facility, they had already began the run. I took off in the opposite direction around the facility and met them about halfway around.

On the second 6.7K (4.1M) round I went on ahead with a couple of the faster runners. They were really motivated and soon I was red lining it, running really close to my 10K race pace. I admittedly struggled to stay with them, but no pain, no gain right! For the last ½ kilometer or so we broke into an every man for himself sprint to the finish line, the lead runner Walter dusting the other runner and I. I finished the just over four mile loop in about 32:30, for an average pace of roughly 4:50/K (7:48/M) – my fastest loop to date.

I was very satisfied with the run and quite amazed that I hung with the other two for most of the loop. The sprint did me in though, I think I pulled a muscle in my right leg, I started limping a bit the last minute or so. Luckily this morning the leg feels fine.

I obviously have no side effects from my head injury, if anything it is causing me to train harder. I am very leery about running around trees, I can just imagine how it would feel to get whacked by a low hanging branch – yeow!

A Practical Exercise in the Laws of Motion

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A physical body will remain at rest, or continue to move at a constant velocity, unless an unbalanced net force acts upon it. On Saturday afternoon I discovered that when you ram your head against a solid oak beam of a house your head quickly comes to a stop, I mean like who knew!

I was in my shed under the roof, just starting to heave up a heavy object when bam, my head slammed into the roofing beam. Many stars, some blood and 3 stitches latter I was quite the humble person. Of course the same doctor that sewed up my knee last August was on duty at the hospital, I was hoping he wouldn’t remember me. I knew I had no chance when he asked me how my marathon (last September) went…next thing I knew he wanted to show the nurse my knee…talk about showing off your work, like hey doc my head is bleeding…

I wasn’t unconscious, have no concussion and after a week my normal doctor can take the stitches out. As I was leaving he said I should try to keep my head dry for a couple days, so I said I would be sure not to wash my hair...this time I was sure NOT to ask about running.

My wife vetoed my running the 20K race that I had planned to run on Sunday morning. The run was a 45 minute drive from home and since she didn’t want to go with me I didn’t argue. Instead in the afternoon I ran a 10K loop around the backwoods next to our town. It was a sunny 52F, I couldn’t stay inside with such weather.

This morning my wound was looking much better and is starting to itch, helpfully due to healing, not the lack of washing:-)

A 17-Mile Long Run

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Last night I got home from work a little early so I could do my long run. I headed out towards Karlsruhe at 4:30 p.m. finishing the almost dead-straight 11K/6.8M stretch in 1:03:24. I took a right, ran a couple hundred feet, then turned right again and started back on a parallel bike path. It was sunny and 52F when I started my run, but now the sun was starting to duck behind the horizon and it started to cool down fast.

I reached the 19K/12M point, which is next to our local research facility in 1:54:00. It was just getting dark and I welcomed running the lighted loop around the facility. I paused to eat a Clif-bar, then continued on around. My lower legs were really starting to hurt and I was getting really cold. Although I had only run about 21K by this time I felt like I had run a marathon! I took a short walk break, but quickly continued on – the temperature had really dropped and I was wet from sweat.

I made it around the research facility and turned onto the 3K path back to our house. It was pitch black in the forest, so I turned on my headlamp. It was a totally eerie feeling as I trotted along, I couldn’t see anything beyond the reach of my light. I finally broke through the edge of the woods and made my way over the last kilometer t my house, 27 less than optimal kilometers behind me. I finished the roughly 17 miles in 2:47:22, definitely not setting any overland speed records, but done.

I like to document my runs, particularly my poor runs, to try to learn from any mistakes or to try to bring under control any factors that affect my performance. I came up with a list of factors that may have influenced my run:

- I ran the first 10-15K at a much faster tempo as normal.
- I have been working a lot of overtime lately, which taxes the mind and the body.
- I ran a tempo run on Wednesday night, followed by some heavier weight lifting.
- I didn’t eat so much for lunch before the long run.
- We have been having extreme fluctuations in temperature over the last few days. During the run it dropped from 52F to 41F – which is quite extreme in our area.
- Normally I run my long run Saturday mornings, not after work on Friday.

On the positive side, I still ran the long run at least a minute/mile faster than my hilly long runs and very close to my marathon pace. If I could have held the original pace for another half hour I would have been faster than marathon pace. I guess the run wasn't as bad as I thought, my standards are just higher.

11K Tempo Run plus 7x3 Push Jerk

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Last night I met my running club at our trailhead for an 11K/6.8M run. I was still missing a tempo run for the week, so fell in with Walter, who usually runs with the fast group. As we started out we were eventually joined by two others from the mid-pack group. I guess I was motivated to run because I seem to have ended up in the front setting the pace. I paired with one of the guys and we quickly outpaced the other two. It was a mild 9C/48F outside and the rain that we experienced earlier subsided and we both seemed to have the urge to stretch our legs out.

We finished the first 5K in around 25:50, and my running partner decided he had enough and said he wanted to take the shortcut back to the trailhead. I debated on whether to slow and let the other two catch up, or continue on alone. I didn’t hear the other two, so figured they were several minutes behind, so I elected to continue on alone at my pace.

For the rest of the run I did my best to maintain the pace, but eventually started wearing down over the last couple kilometers. I ended up finishing the 11K in 58:22, for an average pace of 5:18/K (8:32/mile) – not too bad for this time of year.

When I got home I hurried up into the shed and did the Crossfit WOD (WorkOut Daily), which consisted of:

Push Jerk 3-3-3-3-3-3-3 reps

I completed 6 rounds of 3 repetitions using 38 kg/84 lbs., and 1 round with 40.5 kg/90 lbs. For comparison, last time I did this workout in December I used 35 kg/77 lbs.

I am strongly considering running a 20K race on Sunday as a warm-up for my March 9th marathon. I ran this race in 2005, finishing in 1:52:41. I think I have a good chance of improving this time, plus it is supposed to be almost 50F, perfect weather for a race!

Crossfit: Joshie

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Tonight's Crossfit workout was "Joshie", which consists of completing three rounds for time of:

40 pound Dumbbell snatch, 21 reps, right arm
21 L Pull-ups
40 pound Dumbbell snatch, 21 reps, left arm
21 L Pull-ups
This was a new workout for me and, is often the case, I had to modify the workout to account for my lack of upper arm strength.

Having never done a dumbbell snatch before, I first practiced with a 10 pound dumbbell. I then used 12.5 kg plus the weight of the bar, a total of around 31 lbs., for the snatches. I also substituted regular pull-ups for the L-pull-ups.

I was able to do 5-6 good pull-ups on the first round, but in each case had to finish with jumping pull-ups. My strength is increasing, but quite slowly. If I was doing just Crossfit and not training for a marathon I probably could/would push myself harder and see faster gains. I finished the workout in around 20 minutes, but this was the first time I did the workout, so I have nothing to compare this time with.

A 13K Run and Crossfit = Back Squat

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Last night I met several people from my running club for a couple 6.7K loops around the local research facility. I was feeling kind of tired from a hard day at work so stayed back with the pack. We finished the first loop around the lighted facility in around 40:19, for a roughly 6:00/K (9:40/M) pace. We stayed at roughly the same pace for the second round, but I sped up with one of the guys for the last mile, finishing the loop a minute or two faster than the first loop.

After chatting a bit we dispersed and I went home and did the daily Crossfit workout, which was 5 rounds of 3 repetitions of the back squat. The idea here is to try to achieve maximum weight. Including warm-ups, I completed:

3 x 38 kg. (84 lbs.)
3 x 48 kg. (106 lbs.)
3 x 58 kg. (128 lbs.)
3 x 62 kg. (137 lbs.)
3 x 64 kg. (141 lbs.)
3 x 68 kg. (150 lbs.)
3 x 70.5 kg. (155 lbs.)
3 x 72 kg. (159 lbs.)

By the time I reached 72 kg. I was kind of shaky and could barely do the squat, so decided to quit before I hurt myself. I need to build a squat rack before I go much heavier – I can’ drop my weights like some Crossfitters do – my workout room is in the shed over the laundry room, my luck and my wife would be right below when I did this.

I finished off my workout with 10 normal pull-ups (a new record for me), 20 16-kg kettlebell swings, 6 pull-ups plus 4 jumping pull-ups, and 100 rowing repetitions.

A 16 Mile Long Run

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On Saturday morning I drove to the neighboring town of Weingarten for a long run on my hilly route. I warmed up with a relatively flat kilometer, then headed up the longest hill. The first climb felt easier than two weeks before, probably because I last time I ran the night before my long run. This week we were in Mannheim the night before with friends, so I took the night off from training.

I reached the top and made my way over the first rolling hills. It was cold (1C/34F) and wet, with a steady wind which cut through the trees and chilled the bone. I decided to add a few more uphill climbs on the run, so headed down the backside of the mountain and around and up again. This added about 25 minutes to my normal 1-1/2 hour loop.

I completed the first loop in just under two hours and was still feeling pretty good. As I headed back up the mountain on the second round, I slowed to a crawl, I guess the first round was harder than I thought. As I reached the top and started over the rolling hills I felt better and was able to cruise on for awhile. After around 2-1/2 hours into the run I started feeling hungry so stopped and walked long enough to eat a Cliff bar.

I continued on with my run, eventually returning to the car in just under 3 hours, for a total of about 26K/16M which was my goal for the day. The run felt much harder than my long runs from last summer. I don’t know if it is the colder weather, or my being a year older. This is the first winter that I have run my hilly route, normally I start running it first in the springtime.

I have my first marathon on March 9, a flat marathon through the Bienwald (Bee Forest) around Kandel in the Rhineland-Pfalz. This event is fairly early in the year, thus weather will play a major role on race day. From my experience the first marathon of the year is the hardest, so I am going to remain flexible and not set any unrealistic goals. But that is still 5 weeks away, I still have lots of training mileage to accomplish before then.

A Faster 14K Run

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On Wednesday night I ran an 11K loop with my running club. It rained a drizzling rain most of the time, but not enough to dampen our spirits. My legs were tired from the Crossfit workout the night before, so I welcomed the easy 6:00/K (9:39/M) pace.

We are driving to Mannheim this evening after work, so I did my run last (Thursday) night. It was still light out when I started so I decided to do my 14K/8.7M loop. My goal was to complete at least the first half at a reasonable tempo, then ease on home. I ended up completing the first 10K in 52:05, not too bad for this time of year, and the entire run in 1:15:33.

Afterward I attempted to do the daily Crossfit workout, which was to complete three rounds for time of:

225 pound Deadlift, 15 reps
15 Handstand push-ups
15 Pull-ups
95 pound Thruster, 15 reps

I did:

2 rounds of Deadlift @ 58kg (128lbs.), 1 round @ 48kg (106lbs.), 15 reps/round
15 normal push-ups per round
5 Pull-ups/10 Jumping Pull-ups per round
44 pound (20kg) Thruster, 15 reps/round

Here is a Thruster for those of you that might not be familiar with the exercise:
thruster.jpg

Normally I can handle more weight for the deadlift, but I had just finished a faster run so didn’t want to tear up my legs. I have a three-hour long run planned for Saturday morning!

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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