April 2008 Archives

Two Days Until the Westerwald 50K

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On Thursday is Ascension Day, a holiday in Germany, and the 10th annual International 50K Westerwald run in Rengsdorf. The run is non-competitive, i.e. participants keep track of their own time and there are not prizes for being the fastest. The route is very diversified, through forests, fields and villages. It is also very demanding compared to most races in the area, with 1500 meters of elevation change. This will be the third year that I am doing the race and, despite reduced training compared to previous years, I am looking forward to it.

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My last several weeks of training have been strong and my tapering has left me refreshed – I am confident that I will make it to the finish line in one piece. The first year that I ran this event there was 1100 meters of elevation change and it took me almost 6-1/2 hours. Last year there was 1400 meters of elevation change (the route changes each year) and I needed almost 7 hours. This year I hope I can keep it around 7 hours, but it will depend on what surprises the race coordinator has in store for us this time around.

Last year it rained almost the entire race, this year doesn’t look much better, but it will at least be warmer – somewhere in the lower 60’s (F). We are making the 2-1/2 hour drive to Rengsdorf after work on Wednesday. The event begins at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday and, since we both have vacation on Friday, we will spend Thursday night in Rengsdorf as well. If its not raining too much on Thursday I will bring my camera on the run and try to get some pictures. The Westerwald Forest is incredibly beautiful and well worth the effort.

Taper Week

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I have been tapering for my 50K race on May 1st this week, which is good because I have needed the extra time for work. This weekend was no exception. We have had a beautiful weekend, with the current temperature around 22C/72F, sunny skies, a gentle breeze...and I have been trying to read up on Content Management Systems for a project at work. At least I could sit in the backyard and get some sun! I lasted until about 2:00 this afternoon, then couldn't stand it any longer and went for an unscheduled run - it was just too beautiful! I came back energized and was able to continue reading for another hour.

On Wednesday after work we are driving to Rengsdorf in the Westerwald Forest near Koln for my 50K race. The event begins on Thursday (a holiday in Germany) morning at 8:00 a.m. The course has lots of elevation gain and is not a fast event. My training has been good the last several weeks, so I think I won't fall apart too badly. My races so far this year have been mediocre, so I am going to enjoy this one. Have a nice week!

Summary of my runs this week:

Monday: 20K/12.5M @ 5:45/K (9:16/M)
Wednesday: 14K/8.7M @ 5:39/K (9:06/M)
Friday: 18K/11M @ 5:42/K (9:15/M)
Saturday: 14K/8.7M @ 6:33/K (10:33/M) - hilly route
Sunday: 8K/5M @ 5:47/K (9:19/M) - unscheduled run

Weekly Total: 74 kilometers (46 miles)

Redefining Busy

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You might have noticed that I haven’t been blogging as regularly as I usually. The truth is that my job as technical writer is getting complicated. At my work we are going through some major structural changes, plus evaluating the way we do documentation (among other things). This has met that I have had to spend an increasing amount of time researching various systems and methods. It doesn’t appear that this will end anytime soon, which means I will probably need to make some adjustments in life for at least the next several months. So if you hear less from me you will know I am overwhelmed on the wayside. Have a nice weekend!

Junk Day

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My legs were feeling a bit ragged last night, so I decided an extra day of rest was appropriate, especially considering that I am tapering for my 50K race next week. I did get in a mile or two of walking after work, this helped stretch the legs out a bit. Yesterday was also “junk day” in our town, where we can set out old furniture, appliances, wood etc. on the street and the town picks it up for free. My wife and I spent an hour and a half going through the house and shed looking for anything that was a candidate for the junk pile. I was quite surprised how much we eventually threw out. In any case the shed is looking much better.

Tonight I am looking forward to running with my running club, it is supposed to be a sunny 19C/66F outside, so I have to take advantage of the nice weather while it lasts!

20K in the Rain

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It was mild (16C/61F) and rainy as I headed out for my run last night. My goal was 20K/12.5M at slightly faster than marathon pace. Several from my running club meet on Monday nights for marathon training so I thought I would run to the trailhead and join them for part of the run. I had about 45 minutes to waste until they would start their run, so I ran part of my normal loop which brought to the trailhead a couple minutes before they set out.

I was surprised that there were nearly 15 people gathered for a run, normally the group is only 6-8. We all took off together, but after a couple miles part of the group started doing intervals. I decided to hang back with the other five who weren’t doing intervals, I still had a lot of distance cover. After around 5k four of us split off and took the shorter route back to the trailhead. Upon arriving I bid my goodbyes and kept running back to the house. I ended up with around 20K in 1:55, about what I planned.

This morning my legs are surprisingly sore, I didn’t think I pushed too hard the night before. Hopefully a day of rest will do them good, I’ll see how I feel on Wednesday.

A 20-Mile Long Run

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On Saturday morning I was up before first light and on my way to Weingarten for one last hilly long run before the 50K race on May 1. My goal was at least 3-1/2 hours on the feet, or around 32K/20M. It was a cool 6C/43F as I headed out the first hill, my legs were a bit stiff from the higher mileage that I have been running the last couple weeks, but loosened up quickly.

When I reached the top of the hill I decided to head back down on a side trail, turning onto an asphalt path about halfway down. I had never run in this direction so was wondering where it went. After a few minutes I started climbing a winding path that lead my several small plots of land, the most with fruit trees or gardens. Eventually I reached the top of the hill and found myself looking down on the town of Berghausen in the valley below. The sun was peeking out from the horizon and I stopped for a minute to enjoy the moment.

I continued on following a path through a vineyard and down the side of the steep hill. At the bottom I came to a bike path that lead to the next town Johlingen, which was the direction I needed to go to get back on my trail. I passed several small farms and a couple stables, and eventually came upon a familiar path that I knew would lead me back up the backside of the mountain to my normal running trail.

I made my way up and on around my normal route, eventually returning to my car at the end of around 2-1/2 hours. As I again made my way up the first hill climb, the wind picked up and it began to rain. By the time I reached the top I was pretty soaked and the rain showed no sign of stopping any time soon. I was still running well and knew that I had less than an hour left, so I pressed on. My legs were pretty beat as I finally made my way back to the car after just over 3-1/2 hours. I stretched quickly, but the rain and cold soon had me heading home. After a warm bath and some hot food I was feeling better and was ready to get on with the days activities.

So now I am tapering back for the next ten days, trying to get my legs rested up for the 50K on the first of May. Have a good week!

A Short Race Season?

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With my 50K race less than two weeks away, I find myself contemplating what’s next after the race. To be honest with myself it is getting increasingly harder to concentrate on my training. Work and life don’t really leave me the time I need to train like I should. A project that is beginning to unfold at work could very well require me to put in a significant amount of (my own) time studying new technologies, so this season could end up being a very short race season.

In any case I am going to concentrate on whatever training and racing that I can do, and try not to whine over what I can’t.

We are starting to get some real Spring weather outside, it may hit 70F by the end of the weekend. The trees are budding, the birds singing, and I can't wait to head out the door for a run this evening!

Continuing to Pour on the Mileage

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I have been super busy at work this week so I have fallen a bit behind on my blogging. My 50K training is in full swing, here is what I have accomplished so far this week:

Monday night: 20K/12.5M at marathon pace.
Tuesday night: 9K/5.5M interval training – 1K warmup, followed by 6K alternating one kilometer at 10K race pace/one kilometer recovery, finishing with 2K easy pace.
Wednesday night: 4.5K/3M easy, 11K/7M at near HM pace, 4.5K easy.

On Friday night I’ll probably run about an hour, then early Saturday morning I will do my last long run before the May 1st 50K event.

I have been increasing the mileage much faster than is adviceable over the last couple weeks, but my body is holding out well and I am feeling strong. The 50K race in the Westerwald on May 1st is a very demanding course, there are lots of nasty hills adding up to around 1500 meters of elevation gain. I am looking forward to the challenge!

Another 20K Run

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I was home from work a little early last night, so decided not to wait until 5:45 to run with my running club friends. This was actually better anyway because I wanted to run two hours and it would have been quite late by the time I got home.

The sky was gray and a few raindrops were falling as I started out. After warming up for 5-6 minutes I picked up the pace slightly, to around 5:30/K (8:51/M). I zigzagged my way over the field paths to the forest beyond, then zigzagged around the forest paths. My legs felt good up to around the 10 mile (16K) point, then they started remembering the hilly long run from Saturday. I pushed through the best I could, but lost quite a bit of speed. I arrived back at the house in just under two hours and decided that I must have run at least 20K/12.5M, which was my mileage goal.

This morning my legs are a bit tired, but holding up pretty well from the higher mileage that I have been running lately. I want to push through this week, then taper the last ten days before my 50K race. I hope this will leave me in good shape to tackle the 1500 meter elevation gain!

Twenty Miles of Hills

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The weekend seemed to have flown by, I had time to run, but not to write. My main training objective was to complete a 3-1/2 hour long run on my hilly route in Weingarten. After several days of rain, I woke up Saturday morning to clear skies, so made my way to Weingarten to begin my run.

It was shortly after 6:30 a.m. and already light out when I started my way up the first hill. I had a rest day on Friday so felt fresh and ready for a good workout. I completed the roughly 8 minute climb and made my way over the first rolling hills on top of the plateau. Normally I continue on this course for about 40 minutes before heading down the hill again, but I needed a good hill workout so I headed back down the hill.

I ended up circling more or less around the entire hill going up and down the “mountain” five times, each time taking a different trail. When I mapped this out later my route looked very much like the spokes of a wagon wheel!

Finally after nearly two hours I ended up back at the car and started the second loop. I was still feeling good and the first couple hill climbs went well. By the third climb my quads were complaining and my speed had deteriorated. I had been taking a 2 minute walk break every 30 minutes up to this point, but decided to increase this to 3-4 minutes for the rest of the run. This pretty much follows my ultra strategy for most races, so it fit to my training plan.

The last 20 minutes were tough, I had enough energy thanks to the isotonic drink and P & J sandwich that I had consumed, but my quads were hurting. I pushed on, as I knew this was what good training was all about – breaking down the body and rebuilding it, but stronger!

I finally arrived back at the car after 3 hours and 37 minutes, or roughly 20 miles. I stretched out as good as I could and down another P & J sandwich. My legs were sore, but otherwise I felt great. When I got home I showered and propped my feet up for a bit. Later I was able to carry out the odd jobs for the day without too much complaining from my legs.

This run finished off the week with a total of 87K/54M, the highest weekly mileage so far this year. This week will basically be a repeat of last weeks training, then I will back off a bit until my 50K race on May 1.

Putting on the Miles

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With my 50K event less than three weeks away I have been trying to up the mileage this week. On Monday I ran 18K/11M, Tuesday 17K/10.5M and last night 20K/12.5M. All of these runs were at an easy 5:45-6:00/K (9:15-9:40/M) pace and on flat terrain.

On Saturday morning I want to get up early and run 3-1/3 hours on my hilly route in Weingarten. I anticipate it being a hard run as I have upped my mileage by 25% this week, but this is exactly what I need to survive the 7-8 hours that I will need for the 50K.

So far my legs are holding out, tired to be sure, but in a good way. Have a nice weekend!

Tonight (Wednesday) I am attending a seminar for work, so will miss my run with the running club. Since this is a peak week in my training for the 50K race that I am running in three weeks I did my normal Wednesday night run last night.

I was home from work later than normal, so decided to cut my 20K/12.5M run down to 16K/10M. I was also mentally tired from another trying day at work, so decided to run a different route to break up the routine.

I ran to the trailhead where I usually run with my running club, but rather than run the 11K loop, I turned onto a horse trail and wound my way through the middle of the woods. This was a bit slower than running the logging paths, but skittering through the mud and jumping roots (and horse manure) proved to be good for the soul. After awhile I headed back to the house, whereas I ended up with 17K/10.5M for the night.

An Easy 11-Mile Run

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Yesterday was a stress filled day at work, and if that wasn’t bad enough I had to wait 40 minutes for my train due to track construction. As I finally sat on the train heading home I questioned if I wanted to do anything more that curl up on the couch for a nap. Luckily as I walked from the train station to my house the ice cold wind and thoughts of the mountainous 50K race coming up in three weeks brought me to my senses.

It was a cool 6C/43F, but with a bone-chattering wind, as I stepped out the door to begin my run. I had 16km (10 miles) on the schedule and tired legs from the 10K race the day before. I flicked on my iShuffle and started pounding out the mileage. After about 20 minutes I entered the wooded section of my trail and out of the wind. My mood improved as I warmed, so I my legs on cruise control and ran easy over the forest trails and gravel paths.

My running was a bit stiff, but not uncomfortable. I added an extra loop before heading back towards the house. I again had to fight the cold wind as I exited the woods and ran over the tractor path leading back to town. I finally pulled up in front of my house, content and relaxed, the stress of the day forgotten. I ended up with around 18K/11M – I picked up a bonus mile somewhere, cool!

As the pastor went through the closing announcements and benediction I sat nervously at the edge of my seat ready to spring out the door. This had nothing to do with the church service, rather the fact that the start of the Stutensee 10K race was only 45 minutes away. As the pastor finished I bolted as graciously as possible down the aisle and out the door and speed-walked the short distance to my house.

I had everything laid out so did a quick change, bid my wife a hello/goodbye and jumped in the car and sped to the next town Blankenloch. With 20 minutes to go I managed to find a parking space as a church goer vacated the space. I did my warm-up run on the way to the sports hall to pick up my race number. I walked over towards the Start while pinning on my number, joining a few from my running club on the way.

We arrived at the starting line about 4-5 minutes before the start and stood shivering in the rain waiting for the start. My legs felt pretty good and although I hadn’t done any real speed workouts this year, I was hoping to at least break last year’s course PR of 47:45.

As the race began I surged ahead with the crowd, happy to be moving as it was a cool 5C/41F outside and I was already soaked from the rain. With only 360 runners the mass quickly dissipated and I fell into my groove. I pushed hard, stopping short of going anaerobic, the two kilometers were flat and I wanted to make some time. I passed the first kilometer marker in 4:30 (7:15/mile pace) and the second in 9:10 (4:40/K, 7:31/M). The third kilometer took a little longer as we had to run an underpass under the railroad. I managed to catch a few runners as we climbed back up from the underpass.

From here we ran along the railroad tracks to the shopping/industry center of town, the rain pelted us as we made our way over the open section of course. I was still averaging a 4:40/K (7:31/mile) pace as I passed the 4K marker. Shortly after this my shoe came untied and I had to stop and tie it. I tried to speed ahead to make up for last time, but wouldn’t you know it, the other shoe came untied. So again I stopped to tie my shoe, much to the amusement of a couple that had been following me and observing my troubles. Sometime during this episode I missed the 5K marker and worst of all fell off my pace.

The course crossed the local county highway, which was closed for the race, and dipped under and over a couple bridges. My attempt to get back up to speed were thwarted by the changing elevation. As the course straightened out again and we crossed the 6K marker I didn’t even bother to look my watch, I knew I had lost a lot of time.

A runner edged by me as we entered a wooded section and I stuck like glue as we headed over the forest paths. As we turned onto the asphalt bike path I continued to stalk the runner slowly closing the 7-8 strides between us. As we headed over another bridge I slowly edged by him and increased the gap as we came down the other side.

With around 2K to go I picked up the pace as best I could trying to catch the next runner in front of me. We headed over a dirt path between a couple open fields and I managed to catch the runner in front of me by barrelling through the mud puddles as she chose to go around them. I passed the 9K marker as I entered the town and went down the last underpass. I caught a couple more runners on the way back up.

I sped down the street seeking to close the distance to one of the members of my running club that I saw up ahead. I knew he had to big of a lead to catch, but as I beat him last year I didn’t want him to be too far ahead.

As I rounded the last corner it was about 400 meters to the finish line and there was only one runner within range about 20 paces ahead. I heard feet hitting the ground behind me and I knew someone was trying to catch me. I was already breathing heavy by this time, but somehow I found a new burst of speed and managed to not only prevent the runner(s) behind me from passing, but I also passed the runner in front of me the last couple meters of the race (sorry dude).

After catching my breath I chatted with a few from my running club, but soon the rain and the cold took their toll and we headed our separate ways.

I finished in 48:07, slower than last year, but faster than the year before. I was 120th out of 268 runners, not too bad. If I had double-knotted my shoes at the start of the race I would have easily set a course PR, oh well, next year ;-)

A Three Hour Long Run

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On Friday after work I drove to Weingarten to my hilly long run route. I was tired from a hard week of work, but needed to get in my long run because I had not time on Saturday. I headed up the hill and soon found my groove and flowed over the first loop without any problem, finishing in just over 1-1/2 hours. I headed up the hill a second time, still feeling strong, but I freely admit a bit slower. I made it most of the way around the second loop, but took a short cut that brought me back to the car in almost exactly three hours, which was my goal for the run. My legs were tired, but a comfortable tiredness resulting from a good training run.

On Saturday I spent half the day moving furniture, by the end of the day my legs were pretty shot. As I relaxed Saturday night I was a bit concerned about the status as my legs as I thought about the 10K race that I had the next morning. But that’s another entry, stay tuned.

Is My Body a Wreck??

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My racing has been off to a slow start this year, I just can’t seem to get up to last years standard. This is evidenced by my first marathon 3-1/2 weeks ago, which took me over 35 minutes longer than last year. I had also hoped that I would mental my way through to the finish at the 50K event that I attended last Sunday, but I just didn’t feel up to it.

This of course has left me searching for a reason why. I have been running less and slower mileage than last year, this probably has something to do with it. I also have had a couple colds lately which didn’t help either. A few friends have wondered out loud if I simply over did it last year and my body is a wreck.

In any case I have a relatively tough 50K race coming up on the first of May:
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I am going to give it my best shot, which means I will be picking up my training a notch. With this in mind I decided to run to the trailhead last night to meet my running club for a run. Including the 11K loop that I did with the club I ended up with a 20K/12.5M run for the night, at a roughly 9:35/mile (5:55/km) pace.

On Friday after work I want to go for at least a three hour run on my hilly route in Weingarten. On Sunday (12:00 a.m.) I have a 10K race in Blankenloch, which is the next town south of where we live. I don’t plan on pushing it too hard, I need to be fit for a couple high mileage weeks before the 50K race.

A Sunny 10-Miler

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It was a sunny 16C/61F when I got home from work last night. I wasted no time suiting up and heading out for a run. My legs felt good as I started out, with just a little stiffness left over from my 38K run on Sunday. I kept the pace around 9:30/mile and cruised around my normal 14K/8.7M loop. I met several joggers and walkers taking advantage of the spring weather. I was still feeling good as I made my way back to town, so decided to tack on an extra kilometer out and back. I ended with a total of 16K/10M at around a 5:43/K (9:11/mile) pace, not too bad.

My training this year seems to be much less effective as the two previous years. I have reduced the mileage somewhat as my job has been taking more time, but somehow my intensity has backed off with it. I may need to scale down my race plans for this year if I can’t focus more on my training. Sad but true .

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

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