August 2008 Archives

Some Runs are Just Special

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The day was long for me yesterday, I could not wait to pick my running partner up and head for the hilly trails in Weingarten. The weather was sunny and mild (24°C/75°C) and my running partner ready to run as we pulled up at the bottom of the hill. I explained the route that I had in mind and we set out.

First we trotted down a relatively flat kilometer out and back, dogging stinging nettle (Brennnessel) and tall grass, and finally heading up the hill. Our chatter quickly died down as we scrambled up the first steep climb, then resumed as it flattened out a bit. We wound our way slowly upwards eventually reaching the toughest portion of the climb. I could tell that my running partner was working hard, but not once did I hear a complaint.

We cruised over the top of the hill and began running over the rolling hills on top of the plateau. Through our conversation I caught that my running partner likes to run through the vineyards, so I made the suggestion that we head over to the next hill range, which has some vineyards.

I also warned her that we must first cross a valley, so down we went and up the next large hill. This climb I was more grueling then the first, but we cruised up at a pace that I normally would not attempt during one of my longer runs, but I let my running partner set the pace and cruise we did!

At the top we were rewarded with some great views of the vineyards (note to self, bring a camera next time). I found a couple pictures on the Internet:
weinberg_weingarten_grozingen.jpg

By this time we had been running for about 75 minutes and my running partner raised the question if would make it back under the two hour limit, which is about her limit as a half-marathon runner. I did a quick calculation and reassured her that we were right on schedule.

We a did short loop around the vineyards on top of the hill and were again rewarded with some fantastic views, including an overview of Weingarten and the surrounding region, awesome! We cruised along on the asphalt road past more vineyards, corn fields until we completed the loop and started heading back the way we came.

fields_weingarten_johlingen.jpg

As we went back down the mountain I offered three options for climbing back up the first mountain: the steep and winding way that we ran before, a shorter and steeper dirt trail, or a longer, but friendlier dirt road. My friend chose the latter and we headed up our last climb for the day.

As we climbed the last portion I could tell that my running partner was working hard, and honestly I was feeling it in my legs too, but that's normal for me. I reassured her that we were near the top and it was indeed the last hill climb, the rest of the way was flat or downhill. I'm not sure, but I think she was relieved as we head down the last hill. I mentioned that we would be 5-10 minutes short of her two hour goal and offered an optional hill climb that would have us back right around two hours, but she said that was all right, it was enough to head back to the car.

The last mile or so was pretty flat, on a soft dirt road and through dense forest, a truly beautiful trail. We reached the car after running just under two hours, with 18km (11 mi.) and 924 meters of elevation gain (871 loss) behind us (3030/2856 feet respectively). We walked it out for a couple minutes, cooled down a bit and finally headed home. My running partner certainly earned my respect, hills do not stop her! Now if I can only talk her into training for a marathon...

A possible Fix...

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The "Teufelslauf" half marathon in Bad Herrenalb, Germany on September 7th. Teufel translate to devil or hell, which has some significance as shown in the elevation profile.

grTeufelslaufProfil.jpg

The website for the race posts the warning that the "beer bellies" and "couch potatoes" should stay home on this one.

Sounds like fun to me!

Experiencing Marathon Withdraw

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I find myself thinking that I am addicted to running marathons, I mean five days after running the Koberstadaedt Marathon I find myself going through withdraw, scouring the race calendars looking for my next fix. Forget post-marathon depression, I'm on a post-marathon adrenaline kick! Actually that is depressing because my wife is pulling back hard on the reins, i.e. "Don't you think you've run enough this year?"...silly question really...sigh :-(

On Wednesday night I showed up early at my running club trailhead so I could run 5K before the group run. One of my group showed up at the same time so we ran the 5K out and back together. Afterward I ran a 9K loop, the first 5K with the mid-pack group and the last part a bit slower with one of the ladies who was not having a good day.

Last night I went for a swim on the way home from work, the first time since the winter. I struggled through 700 meters and decided that was enough. I did finally start to get my form back on the last few laps, but felt very much out of my element.

Tonight I am running with my running companion from a couple Sunday's ago. I'm going to introduce her to my hilly route in Weingarten, I hope she likes hills, I did warn her and she didn't seem to be concerned. Maybe she will end up running me ragged, stay-tuned :-)

What I do when I'm not running...

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...for example...container gardening:

A couple flower boxes that I built this summer:

garden_flower_boxes.jpg

Some new lettuce plants springing to life:

garden_lettuce.jpg

And some spinach (look really close):

garden_spinach.jpg

Do you see the butternut squash?

garden_squash.jpg

Last night I took the night off from training and tried to catch up on some odd jobs around the house. As I puttered around my workshop assembling a new display case for my John Deere collection I of course contemplated my race schedule for the rest of the year.

The next big race is the Baden Marathon in nearby Karlsruhe on September 21st. This is the big race for the year for most of the folks in my running club. Currently 23 people are signed up, the most for the half-marathon. We are all meeting at a local restaurant after the race, it should be fun.

I am also looking at several shorter races including a 10K and a half-marathon, I only have to decide which ones as there are several alternatives.

What I am really hungry for is another ultra, but the events remaining this year all require an overnight stay. I thought about trying to find one during my vacation in the USA in October, but my wife is less than understanding, so I am not pushing it.

I have a couple 10K and a half-marathon on the calendar for November and December, but these will be more spur-of-the-moment decisions. So it is looking like the Baden Marathon will be my last long race of the year, I am looking forward to it.

I have lots of ideas for next year, including my first 100K race, but I have to wait and see how busy work and life will be before I unravel these plans.

...maybe I ran too slow? Really, I have never felt so good for having run a marathon on Sunday. And the marathon was only about 1-1/2 minutes slower than my personal record!

Last night (Monday) I went for a recovery run, just over 5 miles, and felt good enough to walk around the local Home Depot equivalent for an hour afterward.

I am still going to do my legs a favor and relax a little this week, my next marathon is only 3-1/2 weeks away. My next run will be an easy run on Wednesday night with my running club, then probably a two hour run on the weekend.

Have a great week!

Race Report: The Koberstaedt Marathon

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Egelsbach, home of the Koberstaedt Marathon, is nestled between Darmstadt and Frankfurt, Germany. The area is highly developed, being only about 10 minutes away from one of the busiest airports in Germany, not your typical setting for a forest marathon.

The Koberstaedt Marathon started at 8:00 a.m on Sunday, so we were up at 4:30 a.m. in order to get ready and make the hour drive to Egelsbach. We arrived around an hour before the race and went about my business picking up the race packet while my wife looked for a cup of coffee. A school friend who lived in the area was going to meet her at 8:30 and give her a short tour of Frankfurt while I was running.

It was a bit chilly (15°C/59°F) as we sat around waiting for the start, but the sun was shining and I knew it would start warming up soon. I decided to run in shorts and short sleeve shirt, as it was supposed to warm up to around 22°C/72°F. There was a cool breeze blowing as I lined up at the start with around 200 other marathon runners. Around 1500 half-marathon runners would join us later on (10:00 a.m.).

The course consisted of a loop around a mostly dirt/gravel forest trail with approx. 150 meter (500 feet) elevation gain/loss with each loop. The half-marathoners ran one loop, the marathoners two.

I really didn't have any specific time goal for the race, I didn't taper at all so figured I would try to at least break 4 ½ hours if at all possible. The race was chip timed, so when the starting pistol went off I leisurely made my way over the starting line, letting the speedsters move on ahead. I then set into a comfortable pace and tried to warm up my legs.

We wound our way through town and into the woods, the sun was shining and the last of a misty fog was rising to meet the day - what a beautiful morning for a run!

It was fairly quiet the first part of the run, the two hundred marathoners were pretty spread out and I was pretty much running on my own. I passed the 10K marker in 56:22, faster then I expected, but definitely not a record breaking speed even for me.

I lost myself in my thoughts over the next hour, passing the 20K in 1:54:18 and the half-marathon point in 1:59:59. My pace was fairly stable, just over 9:00 minutes per mile, I was staying hydrated and taking in isotonic drink at every other aid station. The aid stations were around 4-5K apart, well-stocked, and run by some super friendly people, bravo Egelsbach!

On the first loop the marathoners branched off and took an extra short loop before rejoining the main loop. This left us in the forest rather than looping back to the stadium. Shortly after rejoining the main loop the half-marathoners merged with us, or rather the 200 marathoners merged with the 1500 half-marathoners. Suddenly I was jarred from my lonesome plodding and thrust into the midst of a stampede. My pace picked up as the mass carried me forward, I passed the 30K marker in 2:49:42, about 10 minutes ahead of what I had expected.

The tractor wide forest trail remained full as I fought to climb a wall that was trying to drain my energy. I passed a couple marathon runners, but was still being passed by the faster half-marathoners. I concentrated on making it as hard as possible for these runners to drop me, falling in their steps as long as I could.

With about 5 miles to go I started doing the math and figured out if I could keep the pace going I would be very close to a new PR. My legs were tired, but my energy was good and my spirit high, I plodded forward.

I passed the 40K (25 miles) marker in 3:47:11 and it was clear that I would have to run a 10K race pace if I wanted to break my record of 3:57:14. I did my best, but couldn't get my legs to churn over any faster. As I made my way over the last half-mile I still pushed hard, if I couldn't have a new PR, then at least a sub-4:00 race!

As I made my way through town and into the stadium my legs were screaming with protest. I tried to must some resemblance to a sprint as I made my way around the track and over the finish line, but I felt more like a lumbering elephant. Finally I stumbled over the finish line in 1:58:58, out of breath, out of power, but totally satisfied, thank you lord!

I caught my breath and wobbled my way over to get some coke, I knew I needed a sugar boost. I drank down three cups of coke and found a bench and sat for awhile, stretching my legs a bit. When I stood up an amazing thing happened, my legs didn't complain. I actually could walk comfortably, albeit slower than normal, but without the normal robotic motion normally associated with post-marathon movements.

I walked to the car grabbed my bag, showered and found some food. As I was eating my wife showed up and we sat for a bit, my wife was amazed how fit I was. I guess I was too. As we made our way home the sun was shining, the sky blue, what a beautiful day!

A Bit of Interval Training

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It was a beautiful 23C/74F when I got home from work last night. I relaxed a bit then got ready to run with my running club. I arrived at the trailhead about 20 minutes ahead of time, so warmed up with a couple kilometers. As I speeded up on the second kilometer I noticed a bit of discomfort in my left thigh, like an over streched or over worked muscle - not good.

I set off with the mid-pack group, but they were a bit slow, so after the first 6-7 minutes I took off with a couple faster runners. After about 10 minutes I started feeling the dull ache in my leg so let the other two run ahead and I trotted back and rejoined the mid-pack group. After a couple minutes this group started their interval training, i.e. took off and left me behind with a couple ladies who didn't want to speed up quite so fast.

Eventually we caught the group again after they finished their 800 meter sprint. We ran around 800-1000 meters, then the group took off again, my leg was feeling better so I hung with them, albeit barely. We continued this for another cycle or two, then jogged in the last couple kilometers.

I ended up with 14 km (8.7 mi.) for the night, at an average pace of about 5:30/km (8:51/mi.). After the run I enjoyed catching up on the news with the group, stretched, then headed home for some food. Later the muscle in my left thigh started tightening up and became quite sore, but I messaged it the best I could and it gradually felt better. This morning it feels almost back to normal. Tonight I want to take a rest night to get the body in shape for a race on Sunday.

On Sunday I am running my seventh marathon/ultra for the year, the Koberstaedt Forest Marathon in Egelsbach, between Frankfurt and Darmstadt, Germany. The marathon route consists of two loops around a mostly dirt/gravel forest trail with approx. 150 meter (500 feet) elevation gain/loss with each loop.

koberstaedt_profile.gif

This is generally the kind of race that I excel at, but I haven't trained for a fast race so will wait and see how I feel on race day. The weather is looking very favourable with sunshine and temperatures in the low 70's (°F) expected. I'll let you know how it goes!

I'm Still a Country Boy at Heart

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If you have been reading my blog for a longer time you might have read that I was raised on a dairy farm in Central New York. A bit of country remains in my blood, mostly the desire to live a simple, self-sufficient life. I still have a dream of a few acres in the country, big garden, chickens running around - stuff like that. I came across a blog from a young lady that is well on her way to doing just that. Jenna Woginrich has not only blogged about her journey from college to a small homestead in Idaho to the Green Mountains of Vermont, but has also written a book which should hit the stands by Christmas. If you are interested in gardening, animals, or country crafts be sure to check out her blog - it's a good read!

Busy, but still running

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Life has been quite busy this summer, I've reached a point where an hour after getting up in the morning I feel like laying down for a nap - not good! My job is taking a large chunk of my time. I work as a Technical Writer/Web Developer/Translator/Jack-of-all-Trades and in the moment am getting hit hard from all sides. To top it off we are evaluating Content Management Systems which requires an insane amount of time - which I don't get paid for .

I ran my 14km (8.7 mi) loop last night at a moderate pace, around 5:40/km (9:08/mi). My legs were heavy, but I managed to keep the pace going. My running is holding up well, I have cut the mileage back and so far have managed to maintain my speed. I am enjoying running with my running club and look forward to running with Iris again soon. In the moment my running is my therapy, offsetting the stress from work - I thank God for this outlet.

Running, Painting, Running, Working

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The weekend flew by it seems. On Friday I hurried home after work, changed, and drove to the neighboring town of Weingarten to run on my hilly route. It was a mild 20°C/68°F and I had a three hour plus run on my schedule.

I headed out over my normal route, warming up on a relatively flat stretch, then heading up the first major hill climb. When I reached the plateau on top I ran over the rolling hills and down the other side of the mountain. I then wound my way over an entirely new route which brought me over several steep hill climbs, pounding downhill's, very scenic vineyards, fields, woods, and finally back to my normal trail and my car.

I rolled in after around three hours and 20 minutes, covering 20 miles, with a total of about 1350 meters (4000 feet) of elevation gain. My legs were tired and sore, but in a good way.

On Saturday my legs were a bit stiff, but by the afternoon back to normal. I completed a long list of to-dos around the house, including varnishing the last flower boxes for our yard. Tonight I have to pick up some potting soil so we can plant the boxes - we decided to plant spinach instead of flowers, nothing like harvesting fresh spinach when the cold weather comes around.

On Sunday I met a member of my running club, Iris, for a run. She is training for a half-marathon in September and doesn't like to run alone. It was sunny, but cool (low 70's °F) as I ran by her house at 9:45 a.m. and we headed out over a bike path towards the next town, Blankenloch. Iris wanted to run about two hours at about a 6:00/km (9:40/mi) pace. We settled into roughly this pace and cruised over some beautiful field paths, forest ways, finally looping back to her house after two hours and several minutes.

Due to our chatter we actually were running faster than Iris wanted to, around 5:50/km (9:25/mi), and covered over 21.5 km. Iris looked totally fit after the run, she is totally ready to blow the half-marathon away in September - and she still has five weeks to train! We plan on running again at least once or twice before the race - if she keeps it up she will running a PR race for sure!

I spent the rest of the day trying to catch up on a project for work. I did manage to get in a nap in the afternoon, that felt great. I wish everyone a great week!

Tired...but still running strong!

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By the time I finished work yesterday I was so tired that I dozed off on the streetcar on the way home. Luckily I woke up in time to get off at the right stop and didn't take another loop around the city ;-)

The short nap did wonders, I was totally motivated as I left the house and made my way to the trailhead to run with my running club. I was a bit early, so warmed up with a 3 km (2 mile) run. It was a pleasant 26°C/79°F, the sun was shining, the birds were singing...perfect running weather.

When I got back to the trailhead I chatted with some friends for a few minutes as we waited for the rest to arrive. I took off with the mid-pack group and heard Lena, who was running behind me, ask if anyone wanted to run a faster pace. When no one responded positively I said "Lets go" and bolted ahead of the group before she had a chance to think about it.

As we pulled away from the group, Lena, who is training for the Dresden Marathon in October, said she wanted to try to run 10K at around a 5:25/km (8:45/mi) pace. So we cruised around the 11K loop and I kept track of our pace with my Forerunner. By kilometer seven a couple other runners had caught up to us and through their chatter Lena started slacking off with the pace. In an effort to help Lena meet her goal I said to new members of our little group that she wanted to maintain a steady pace and we were slacking off. This had the effect that I knew it would, the three of us pulled ahead and left Lena with the choice of catching up or running behind. Wisely she caught up to us and we were able to keep up the pace she had desired...well actually we speeded up to an 8:30/mi pace, but don't tell Lena ;-)

After the run I hurried home to shower and met the group at a local Greek restaurant for our monthly meeting (Stammtisch). It was a good time as always, but after 11 p.m. before I made it home - so much for catching up with my sleep.

Tonight is a rest night and Friday after work I want to run at least three hours on my hilly route. Running my long run on Friday night will allow me to sleep in on Saturday :-) On Sunday I am meeting a running club member, Iris, for a two hour run - should be fun!

Tired...

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exhausted.jpg

...that's how I have been feeling lately, much like the overtrained triathlete that used this picture on her blog.

It's one of the busier times of the year for me at work, and this year its even worse because we are evaluating the need for a content management system which equals lots of time required. Somehow this together with weird weather swings is causing me to lose out in the sleep department. I find myself laying awake at night thinking about everything imaginable.

I have been wanting to get back up to 50+ miles of running per week in preparation for a city marathon in September, but I know this is not going to happen. I ran a solid 50-mile race and my first sub-four hour marathon this year, which is very satisfying, so I have pretty much decided that I need to just stay in maintain mode and run the rest of my races this year "just for fun".

DSL, Rain, and Yet Another Marathon

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It was raining when I got home last night and I was anxious to get my run in. Unfortunately we have been having problems with our DSL so I had promised my wife that I wait long enough for her to call the German Telekom when she got home. I have no patience for such things, and even less in the German language, but my wife knows nothing about the DSL settings so I stuck.

I suited up for my run as my wife went through the array of recorded messages before she finally reached a real human on the phone. Luckily it was the same one she talked to in December when our DSL router failed, so she was able to avoid the 101 questions that they insist on putting you though before you talk about the real problem. To make a long story short the technician said our telephone line was fine, it was probably the router again - they'll send us a new one. This was the answer that I expected, so after complaining and being chastised by my wife for my impatience, I tied my running shoes and headed out into the rain.

I had planned on running about two hours, but I was already about 40 minutes late and needed to read some material for work later on, so headed out on my 14 km (8.7 mi) loop. There was a steady drizzling rain that soon had me soaked, but it was a warm 28°C (83°F) so I was comfortable in shorts and running shirt.

My run began rather sluggish, around 6:00/km (9:39/mi) but I gradually increased this, in steps, to around a 5:15/km (8:30/mi). I finally returned to the house looking like a wet cat and took a hot shower. After some hot food and conversation with my wife I went upstairs to get my reading out of the way.

If you notice my sidebar you will see that I have a marathon on the schedule for August 24th. As I have been really busy at work lately I have been seriously considering skipping the race, but my wife has a school friend that lives close by the race, so said I should run the race so she can visit her friend. So after letting her twist my arm, I broke down and signed up for my 7th marathon this year ;-)

I'm so easily amused...

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I'm still snickering from this one, thanks Kim!

A trucker came into a truck stop cafe and placed his order. He said, 'I want three flat tires, a pair of headlights and a pair of running boards.'

The brand new blonde waitress, not wanting to appear stupid, went to the kitchen and said to the cook, 'This guy out there just ordered three flat tires, a pair of headlights and a pair of running boards. What does he think this place is, an auto parts store?'

'No,' the cook said. 'Three flat tires mean three pancakes, a pair of headlights is two eggs sunny side up, and running boards are 2 slices of crisp bacon.

'Oh, OK!' said the blonde.
She thought about it for a moment and then spooned up a bowl of beans and gave it to the customer.

The trucker asked, 'What are the beans for Blondie?'

'She replied, 'I thought while you were waiting for the flat tires, headlights and running boards, you might as well gas up!

FOR ONCE THE BLONDE GETS EVEN!!!!!

It's a good feeling when...

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...you know this would not be a problem:
dilbert_tomorrow-a-marathon.jpg

When work flows into the weekend...

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...something has to give, and in my case I have had no time for blogging among other things. I did get my long run in on Saturday, actually going 30km (18.5 miles) instead of my scheduled 26km (16 miles). Today I spent the better part of the day working on a project for work, so reduced my scheduled 14km (8.6 miles) to 10K. This turned out to be beneficial as I turned it into a speed workout finishing the run in 51:32.

So I have to read another hour of reading then I can chill out an hour before calling it a night. I hope everyone had a nice weekend, I'll try to catch up reading your blogs soon.

An Easy Run with the Running Club

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When I got home from work yesterday I was totally exhausted, a result of many nights of restless sleep due to the heat and too much on my mind. I woke up at 4:00 a.m. yesterday morning and couldn't sleep anymore, so finally gave up and got ready for work - I was sitting at my desk at 5:30 a.m. trying to peck away at my pile of work.

Anyway I hit the couch for a quick nap when I got home, which revived me somewhat before I joined the ranks at my running club trailhead. It was a balmy 33°C/92°F, so I figured an easy run would be in order. Apparently I was not the only one with this thought, the mid-pack group was dragging their heels. I was in the front with Brigette trying to maintain an easy 6:00/km (9:39/mile) pace, but we kept losing the group. Finally out of shear frustation we trotted on ahead and left the them behind.

Tonight I have cross-training on the schedule, namely helping a friend clean out his cellar - lots of lifting, carrying and stair-climbing - and that at 90+ °F!

Drenched in Humidity

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I used this title before, but it just so fits to yesterday's weather. When I got on the train heading home from work it was raining and quite cool for August. But by the time I got home and suited up to run the sun was out and shining brightly. My plan was to run 1-1/2 to 2 hours on the asphalt bike path to Karlsruhe, race specific training for the Karlsruhe (Baden) marathon in September, which is a city marathon.

As I started out I felt the humidity right away, the combination of rain and now blinding sunshine made it feel like I was running through a swamp, you could see the moisure steaming up as I ran. It was only 23°C/74°F, but felt more like 90°F!

I kept up about a 9:00/mile pace, but bailed out early and returned home for a total of 15 km. I was totally drenched sweat as I walked in the door, I'm sure my wife was wondering if I got caught in a rain storm :-)

I have a workshop all day at work today, I am glad I quit early last night - maybe I can stay awake through the session.

A Year Older but Still Running Strong

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The weekend seems to fly by, I seem to find less and less time to write my blog. On Saturday morning I was up bright and early...well at least early...for my long run. I drove the 12 kilometers to Weingarten to run my hilly route. After a short warmup on a relatively flat stretch I headed up the first hill. Right away I noticed that I haven't run any hills for over a month, but I sucked it up and made my way up and over the rolling hills on top of the plateau.

I cruised around for about three hours, looping my way up and down the "mountain" on several occasions. My legs seemed to remember how to run hills and I had a good run. As I finished my legs were tired, but in a good way, i.e. feeling like they had a good workout but without being devastated.

On Saturday evening we met several friends at our local Greek restaurant and celebrated my birthday. My birthday was last Wednesday, but its easier for all of us to meet on the weekend. It was a good time with good food and good friends!

On Sunday afternoon I went for an unscheduled run to burn up some of the calories from the night before. It was a warm 32C/90F, but with a cooling breeze and almost no humidity. The trails were quiet and I thoroughly enjoyed my roughly 10K run.

This week is supposed to be a bit rainy and cooler, not a bad thing as I start to build up my mileage again to prepare for the Baden Marathon on September 21. I wish everyone a happy Monday!

Running on the Hottest Day of the Year

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Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far, 36°C/97°F and much to my wife’s dismay I was out in the midst of it. Actually I didn’t think it was so bad, the humidity that we have been having all week dissipated through the day so when I got home from work it was hot, but dry.

I was well hydrated as I set out around 4:30 p.m., the hottest time of the day by us. I kept the pace down for the first half of the run, around 9:45/mile, and tried to stay in the shady woods as much as possible. After about 5 miles I picked up the pace and held it until the last mile where I had to run over an unshaded asphalt bike path back to the house. I ended up with 15K and felt no discomfort from the heat.

On Saturday morning I have a hilly 2 ½ hour run on my training plan, but I plan on heading out at the break of dawn. This is not so much to beat the heat as it is to have time for all the other things I have to accomplish during the day. Have a great weekend!

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

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