November 2008 Archives

No Thanksgiving Day in Germany


That's right, for those who didn't know Thanksgiving Day is not a holiday in Germany. No turkey, turkey trots or football, and yes I had to work. However I did meditate on the things that I am thankful for in my life - my wife, family, friends, job etc., we should all take time to do this from time to time.

By late afternoon the sun was shining and the temperature was rising up to the mid-40's (F). I was getting really antsy, so finally bailed out from work a bit early and went home for a run. I suited up, grabbed a headlamp and headed out into the sunshine. I ran about 45 minutes before the sun dropped behind the horizon. I continued on through the woods to my running club trail and beyond. Soon it was so dark that I couldn't see the path any longer. I aimed between the rows of trees on each side and continued on in the dark. Whenever a bicycle came along, I turned on my light to avoid getting run over - you laugh, this happened to someone in my running club!

I continued on through the night, enjoying the solitude of a (by then) frosty evening run. It was a great opportunity to give thanks for the many blessings over the last year. After about two hours I broke through the darkness to the lighted path of the local research center, I glanced at my Garmin and noticed I had just over 21 kilometers, a half-marathon, and knew I had roughly 5K until I reached my house. I ran around part of the research center and turned on to a trail that would lead back to my town. The stars were out by now and the only sound was from my efforts.

It remained dark as I continued on through the dark, my legs were growing heavy, but I shook off this thought and concentrated on the lights from the town before me. Finally I broke out of the woods at the edge of town and wound my way to the house. I made an extra loop around the church ending my run with 26 km (16 mi.), my longest run since September! Later when I checked the splits on my Garmin I was amazed that I averaged 6:00/km (9:39/mi.), despite running in the dark for at least half of the run. Not bad!

Running and Swimming

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My running buddy is still recovering from a cold this week, so I decided to meet some other members of my running club on Monday night for a run. I arrived at the local research center 5 minutes late, so set off at a quick pace in the hopes of catching whoever might be there. After 10-15 minutes I still didn't come across anyone so relaxed my pace. As I neared completion of the first 6.6 km (4 mi.) loop I came across one of the women from my club coming from the other direction. She was hoping to run into any of us that were already running.

I turned around and ran with her, we figured the group must be behind me. After about 10 minutes we did indeed come across 5-6 others from our group. We joined the group and I completed the round with them. I ended up with a total of about 15 km (9.3 mi) for the night, at an average pace of 5:39/km (9:06/mi.).

On Tuesday night I intended on doing some weight training (or crossfit), but took over the household chores so my wife could work some homework for a course she is taking.

This morning (Wednesday) I decided to try something different, I drove to the swimming pool in Karlsruhe before work, arriving there shortly after they opened at 6:00 a.m. My intention was to swim around a 1000 meters, but as I started my laps it became clear that I hadn't done any swimming for a long time, my breathing was catastrophic and my form worse! After 500 meters I decided I had enough and headed off to work. I guess I need to start going to the pool more often...

More on 100K races in Germany

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I spent some time last night looking a little closer at some of the 100K races available in Germany (and Switzerland), I found four (so far) that are interesting in the next year or two. The figure below shows the profiles for these four. From top to bottom the races are as follows:

The 101K Boderfelder Hollenlauf, in Schmallenberg, Germany on May 9, 2009. Elevation difference (Höhenmeter): 2150 meters (7200 feet). 15 hour time limit

The Biel 100K in Switzerland on June 12, 2009. Elevation difference (Höhenmeter): 645 meters (2118 feet). 21 hour time limit.

The Thuringer 100K Ultra in Froettstaedt, Germany on July 4, 2009. Elevation difference (Höhenmeter): 2150 meters (7053 feet). 18 hour time limit.

The Chiemgauer 100K Mountain Ultra, in Ruhpolding, Germany on July 18, 2009. Elevation difference (Höhenmeter): 4400 meters (14,435 feet). 18 hour time limit.


I also found another 100K in Ulm, Germany on June 12 that sounds very promising. It has an 18 hour time limit and is only about half the distance away as the other races. The elevation difference is not listed on the website, but looks less threatening then some of the other races.


I found a couple other 100K races in Germany, but these are a days travel away, not ideal for a first race. There are also a few in France that may be close enough, I need to keep looking.

The weekend went by way to fast for me, I don't know where the time went. I sent my wife on a "wellness weekend" in the Black Forest, part of her birthday present from September. On Friday after work I spent a couple hours getting a start on the cleaning. Saturday I continued with this and did the wash...I didn't think I'd ever get done. Luckily I finished in time to run with my running club, boy did I need the break! After running with the club on Saturday I showered and met three of the group at our local Greek/Italian restaurant for dinner. I had a good time unwinding and enjoying their company!

My running partner is still down with a cold, so I decided to get up early and do my run before church. It was a cool 2°C/35°F and windy outside, with some gentle snowflakes in the air as I made my way around a 12K (7.5 mi.) loop. Once I got warmed up I really didn't notice the cold...until I came out the woods on the last 15 minute trot over open fields, it made the hot shower afterward extra enjoyable!

I spent some time looking over the 100K routes for next year. If you read my post from last week there are three possibilities that I am considering. I am putting together a list of pros and cons for each race, trying to decide which one to go with. Here is my thinking thus far:

Biel with it's generous 21 hour time limit and 700 meters (2300 feet) of elevation difference is by far the friendliest of the three 100K races. The downside is that it is tough to get a room in the city that weekend and it is expensive to stay overnight.

The Boederfelder Hollenlauf is the toughest with 2200 meters (7200 feet) of elevation difference and a 15 hour cut-off. It is also in early May when I am usually less than optimally trained.

The Thuringer 100K has around 2100 meters (6900 feet) of elevation difference, but has an 18-hour cut-off. The race takes place on July 4, so heat could be a problem, although it is typically cooler in the Thuringer Forest, than where I live. I am almost favouring this race at this point in time.

How do you train for a 100K race?


So, I have convinced myself that I will run my first 100K race in 2009, so how do I train for one?

My normal marathon training, plus some hill workouts, has been enough for the 50 mile race that I do each year, do I need to do more?

My thinking at this point is that I probably don't need to train too much more, only a little more event specific. The 100K events in May and July are much more hillier than I am used to, so I need to do some serious hill training the couple months leading up to the race. The 100K race in Biel is about the same as the 50-mile race that I run.

Any thoughts from your experience/knowledge?

A Solid 20K Run

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Yesterday was a crazy day somehow, I mean I reached a point by midday where my mind seemed to be in a whirl, trying to do ten things at once at work. Finally during my lunch break I turned off work for a bit and focused on something totally different for awhile. This helped restore balance and I could continue to work through the rest of the day.

My wife is gone for a long wellness weekend in the Black Forest with a girlfriend, so after work I headed over the local research center and ran three 6.6 km loops around the lighted complex. By the third loop my legs were no longer happy and the strong wind and rain did nothing for my mental state, so I called it quits after 20 kilometers. I ended up running at a pretty fair average pace for the three rounds, around 5:55/km. I completed the first two rounds at a very consistent 5:45/km pace (9:16/mi), which is a bit faster than I run my longer runs this time of year. All in all I think it was a good workout.

I think for the rest of the year I am going to continue to run four times a week, but limit my runs to a maximum of two hours or so. In January I will start training for next years races, hopefully peaking with a 100K race in the mid-year.

A 100K Race in 2009

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I have been working the better part of the day at work on a correction reading, which requires a lot of mental energy. It also stimulates my thinking in general for some reason and whenever I take a break my mind fills with thoughts about everything imaginable. Sometimes I have to get up and go talk to someone, write an e-mail or a blog entry, just to clear the mind.

I was thinking about my training for next year, it's kind of hard to draw an exact plan up yet because I don't know which events will fit to a potentially busy year at work. I am still leaning towards running my first 100K ultra, I'm hungry for the challenge!

There are three that I am considering at this point, which one I choose will depend on work:

May 9: The Boederfelder 101K Hollenlauf in Schmallenberg, Germany (15 hour time limit)
June 12: The Biel 100K in Biel, Switzerland (21 hour time limit)
July 4: The Thuringer 100K in Froettstaedt, Germany (18 hour time limit)

My initial trainings plan calls for at least two marathons at training pace before the 100K event. If I select the June or July event then I will add another marathon and/or 50K event to the training plan. It sounds good on paper, I anxious to see how it will pan out.

A Cool 15KM Run

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Last night I ran the two loops around the local Research Center on my own, as my running partner has a bad cold. I believe this was the first time since my vacation in October that I ran alone, it felt kind of strange...I have been really enjoying running with my friend - get well soon!

It was dark and brisk (9°C/48°F) as I set out on the first loop. I quickly picked up the pace, running about a half-minute per kilometer faster than when I run with my running partner. The time seemed to tick slowly by as I neared the completion of the first round. Near the last kilometer I passed a member of my running club coming from the other direction. He turned around and we ran about 10-12 minutes together before he headed home, this helped motivate me for the next round.

Halfway through the second loop my legs began to ache a bit, I'm sure as a result of the weight training from the past couple days - it's always that way when I start my training for the winter. I managed to keep the pace more or less to the completion of the second loop, then slowed down and ran 2 more kilometers, for a total of 15 km (9.5 mi.) at an average pace of 5:30/km (8:51/mi.).

This morning my legs are a little sore, but nothing out of the ordinary. This evening I need to bring my car to the auto dealer, the air bag light won't shut off when I turn the car on. I hope afterward I have enough time for a quick swim at the Blankenloch pool on the way home.

Cooking and Weight Training

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Last night my wife wanted to work on a project management class that she is taking, so I prepared dinner. By the time she got home I had dinner ready, nothing fancy, Spaghetti Carbonara and a simple green salad with lettuce, carrots and some strings of cheese. My wife was pleased!

Later I decided to do some weight training. The daily crossfit ( called for:

Three round for time:

Run 400 meters
21 Kettlebell swings
12 Pull-ups

I warmed up with:

Three rounds of:
20 Jumping Jacks
20 Push-ups
20 Air squats
20 Sit-ups

Then I did:

10 Pull-ups
15 Kettlebell swings
10 x 30kg push press
10 x 40kg dead lift
10 Pull-ups
50 reps. Rowing
15 Kettlebell swings

This took about 18-20 minutes, whereas I decided I should stop or I won't be able to run this evening. This turned out to be a good idea, because this morning my muscles are sore - this is the first week that I have started weight training since last Spring.

On Saturday morning I had an appointment for a haircut at 8:00 a.m. in the neighboring town of Linkenheim. Despite the 7°C/45°F temperatures I decided to ride by bicycle, it was only about 7+ km (4.5 mi.). After about 20 minutes I arrived at the barbershop half soaked with sweat rather than frozen as expected, I guess I was too warmly dressed after all. Luckily the young lady that cuts my hair was tolerant of my perspiration (her father is an ultra-runner).

Later on Saturday I met my running club at the trailhead for a run. We meet at 4 p.m. on Saturdays, which allows us almost an hour of light before darkness sets in. I started out with the mid-pack group that I usually run with, but after a couple minutes a few ran on ahead. I guess I got an adrenaline rush or something, cause I took off after them. I ended up with a good speed workout, completing the roughly 11 km (7 mi.) loop with an average pace of 5:06/km (8:15/mi.).

On Sunday I met my running partner and we drove to Rheinstetten, near where I work, and ran a 20K DVV/IVV "volkswalking" course. The route turned out to be closer to 19 km, but that was fine. The weather was a bit cool and windy, around 10°C (50°F). My friend wanted to keep the pace down, but I guess I was too motivated, we averaged around 6:06/km (9:45/mi.). I had a great time chatting away with my friend, I couldn't imagine a better way of spending a Sunday afternoon!

Later in the day I decided to do the daily Crossfit workout, which consisted of 5 rounds of 5 repetitions of the back squat (Rücken Hocke), whereas you try to build the weight up to you maximum.

Here is a list of my workout, which took about 30 minutes:

20- jumping jacks (Hampelmann)
20 - toe-touches (Zehen berühren)
3 rounds of 20 Push-ups (Liegestütz) and 20 sit-ups (Bauchmuskelübung)
10 - Pull-ups (Klimmzug)
10 - kettlebell swings (Kettlebell Swingen)
Crossfit workout: 5-5-5-5-5 Back squat @ 40kg/44kg/44kg/46kg/46kg
10 - pull-ups
10 - kettlebell swings
100 repetitions on rowing machine (Rudergerät)
6 minutes on the home (bicycle) trainer (Fahrrad Heimtrainer)

This workout left me pretty well whipped, especially considering the run I did earlier, but it was very satisfying - I feel pretty good this morning!

A Bit of Cross-Training

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This afternoon the sun was shining, so I decided to go home a half hour early and try to get in a bike ride before dark. When I got home I scrambled into my training clothes and headed out on the bike path towards Linkenheim. The sun was shining, but it was still a cool 11°C/52°C, but I was dressed for the occasion. I ended up with 22 km (13.7 mi.) in about 61 minutes (21.5 kilometers/hour), not bad considering it has been months since I road my bike for any distance.

Afterward I went upstairs in the shed and knocked out some Crossfit type exercises:

20 push-ups
20 squats
20 sit-ups
10 pull-ups
10 push-press
10 dead-lifts (40+ kg)
100 reps. rowing
20 sit-ups
20 push-ups
10 kettlebell swings
10 dead-lifts

As I finished that my wife came home so I quit and got ready for dinner, it was a good quick workout, at least I burned off a few calories. I want to start doing similar workouts at least once or twice a week for the rest of the year.

Going through the cupboards

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Last night when I got home from work I spent some time poring over some of the material that I brought back from the trade show last week. My wife didn't show up from work, so I figured she would be late, so took a quick trip around town on my new bicycle that I bought a couple months back. I rode by a friend's house just as he was getting out of his car, so stopped and chatted a few minutes, then rode by my running friend's apartment so I could show her my bike. The lights were off, so I kept going, arriving back at the house just as my wife drove in.

My wife asked if I wanted to go grocery shopping, which I know translates to her wanting me to go with her, so off we went. She was totally stressed out from work, so I let her wander around as much as she wanted, no sense wrestling with a tornado when I don't have to.

Later my wife sat in front of the PC and tried to chill out, I decided to try to earn some points with my wife and do something productive around the house. I sorted out some old clothes for the Red Cross, then decided to go through the cupboards in the kitchen. Once a year I like to go through and check the dates on the spices, baking stuff, etc. - I ended up throwing out quite a bit as neither one of us have baked much for quite a long time.

As I worked I also tried to sort out my thoughts that have been clogging my head. This morning I feel better, so I guess I was somewhat successful here too.

I also thought a little bit about my racing next year. I definitely want to run several marathons and a couple ultra's, but the intensity and distance remain open for now.

I am still hoping a friend will decide to run her first marathon in April and we can train together. I am totally convinced that she can run a marathon and probably much faster than she thinks is possible. In any case I am making myself available for her training. If she happens to be reading this, then let me just say I know you can do it, believe in yourself!

...for those tears I died...

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I'm having one of those "I miss you mom" mornings, where my emotions are being tried. I have been extremely busy at work since I came back from vacation and I have been feeling the strain. Running has helped, but not completely.

As I write I find several thoughts coming to mind. Since my mother passed away I have stayed really busy, helping my dad, travelling, working, running, etc. I sense inside what my mother would say to me if we were sitting again in her living room. She would probably say "You know Jesus wept (John 11:35). He mourned the loss of a loved one. Everyone needs to take some time and let the tears flow."

I had watery eyes at the funeral, but I haven't settled down long enough to do my weeping and mourning yet. I've read that often people go through some sort of denial phase after they lose someone they love. Am I doing that?

Maybe I need to take some time and concentrate on the memories of my mom, maybe the tears will come. My mom always believed that God feels every teardrop that trickles down our cheek and holds us in his arms and lets the healing begin.

And Jesus said,
"Come to the water, stand by my side
I know you are thirsty, you won't be denied
I felt every tear drop, when in darkness you cried
And I strove to remind you,
That for those tears I died"

My First Run in the Dark

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I was sitting in the train station on the way from work yesterday looking over my list of potential races for next year. I'm already signed up for a 50K race on January 31, but know this is very ambitious in the middle of the winter. I might try it anyway though, it is ten 5K rounds, so I can bail out if it gets too cold.

Last night I met my running club at 6 p.m. for an 11km (6.8 mi.) loop. It was the first time since my 50 mile (80 km) run in June that I had run in the dark, but we were blessed with a full moon and relatively clear skies. We were only about a dozen runners, but most of us ran together, so we had a good time. I hadn't seen several of the group since before my vacation, so it was nice to catch up with each other.

Later I met some of my club at our monthly meeting. My wife tagged along and met a friend of ours in the restaurant that is moving to Morocco at the beginning of December, the evening went by way too fast.

Tonight I want to try to do some cross-training, maybe I'll start the hundred push-up challenge. I have a couple 10K races on the calendar for December, but just as fun runs, it's off-season for me.

Anybody want to do some push-ups?


After work yesterday I picked up my favorite running friend and we drove over to the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe (Karlsruhe Research Centre) and ran a couple laps around the facility. The 6.6 km (4.1 mi.) asphalt road surrounding the facility is well lit and provides an excellent place to run in the dark winter. We encountered several runners and walkers on the way, I guess it is a popular place to run. The time flew by fast, as it always does when I run with friends. I found myself wishing we could have done another round or two...

Later, I was taking my turn at the ironing board and found myself trying to think about where I want to take my running and training over the next months and year. I have lots of ideas, some plans, but also lots of uncertainty. For example, I would like to run my first 100K race and add some more marathons to my success list. However life, in particularly work, may place hurdles in the way, we'll see what happens.

Anyone doing the 100 push-up challenge? Being old army, I do push-ups before and after most runs, so am seriously thinking about doing the challenge. I might had sit-ups to the list too, my stomach could use some work.

Actually I am doing really well at holding my weight in check. This year I managed to bring my weight down to 70 kg (155 lbs) and have pretty much maintained it, weighing in at about 71 kg (157 lbs) this morning.

I have also been over at getting ideas for some workouts. For me the winter time is the time for upper and total body training, and I'm way behind.

Ultra Training: How to cross a river

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I thought I knew it all until I read this excellent post on how to cross a river:

Be sure to check it out!

Running Against Time

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It seems like my life is in catch up mode in the moment. Three weeks vacation, followed by three days at a trade show have left me trying to view over a pile of work that needs to be done, both at my job and at home. My training is also taking a beating, I wanted to start up with swimming and other cross-training at the beginning of this month, but I haven't found the time yet. Oh well, I'll get everything sorted out soon and then I can settle down to some kind of routine.

My running was actually not too bad last week, despite being gone for three days. On Tuesday I ran 13.2 km (8.2 mi.) with a friend. On Saturday I ran the 11.8 km mountain race, then ran back down the mountain for a total of 23.3 km (14.5 mi.). Yesterday I ran the kilometer to my friend's house, whereas we ran 15.5 km, then I ran home again - for a total of 17.5 km (11 mi.). That gave me 54 km (33.5 mi.) with three days of running, not bad for the off-season.

Yesterday's run was kind of tough though, my legs were still tired from the mountain race on Saturday, so I struggled through the last several kilometers. My friend did a good job at keeping me moving, I am thankful for that. We still managed to maintain an average pace of 5:55/km (9:30/mi.), I was surprised, I thought we were moving much slower.

Tonight I think I will take a rest night and chill out. I need to spend some extra time catching up with work from my job anyway.

I have been planning on running a half-marathon on December 6, in nearby Bruchhausen, but may downgrade to a 10K race if I don't feel up to it. This is not the time of the year to push too hard, so I will probably decide at the last minute - in any case it will be a "fun" run.

Yesterday was the 35th Annual Neckargemund Mountain Run near Heidelberg, Germany. I ran this race in 2006 and just loved the beautiful trails that the race is run on. I also knew that this flatlander was in for a good workout, the 11.8K/7.3M race route starts at 118 meters above sea level and ended at 568 meters.

So at noon I drove to Neckargemund, about a 70 minutes drive, and quickly found the sports center next to the school. I picked up my start number, drank a cup of coffee and ate a delicious piece of carrot cake. There was not much going on - it was a small race.

The weather was almost perfect for a mountain race, 13°C (55°F) and the sun was shining. About 20 minutes before the race I returned to the car and made a final decision on the "outfit", deciding to stick with long running pants, a short sleeve short with a long sleeve running shirt over it.

I ran for about 10 minutes trying to warm up a little, the race was almost entirely uphill, so I would be working hard right away when the race started.

I took my place in the back of the other racers, I guessed there was around 300-350 people. I was in no hurry, my only goal was to run the whole distance, e.g. no walking. At promptly 2:15 p.m. the starting pistol sounded and we were off, first down a little asphalt road leading out of town, then quickly up the first hill. It was the last asphalt that I would see until the finish, and, with the exception of a tiny section at kilometer 8, the last downhill section too!

So up the mountain we went, the hill was fairly gradual, I kept a steady hill-climbing tempo and just concentrated on not wearing myself out too quickly. Almost the entire course was leaf and dirt (mud) covered logging trails, it was a pleasure to run these trails. Well, almost, if you think running most of the first four kilometers (2.5 miles) in one steady climb a pleasure ;-)

Just past kilometer 4 it appeared to level out a bit, I picked up the pace, this section continued on for maybe 5-600 meters then we started climbing again - for almost 3 kilometers more before the trail weaved down a slight decline at around kilometer 8.

As I began the last 3 kilometer climb to the finish line I could feel myself slowing down a bit. My breathing was good, but my legs were showing wear and tear. I had not done much training in the last 5-6 weeks and it showed. I slowly checked off the last couple kilometers until I finally heard the crowd of people at the finish line. I concentrated on trying to pass a few runners - I pushed ahead, encouraged by the ever increasing number of spectators, and crossed the finish line marking the end of a very satisfying run.

My time was 1:09:47, a new personal best for the course, besting my old time of 1:11:30 by a good margin. There were somewhere around 370 people who ran the race, and I left about 110 behind me, not bad. But as I said in my race report from 2006, this race wasn't about the clock, it was the Mountain vs. Jack and Jack won!

This year I elected to run the route back down to the start, as several people did. I did fine until about 5K from the bottom, my legs started protesting against the downhill pounding. I was just about to take a walk break when I passed a runner who had just stopped to walk. As I passed he started running again and asked if he could run with me. I decided not to mention that I was ready to walk and we managed to keep other moving through mutual discussions until we got back down to the start.

After a shower and some warm, dry clothes I wobbled back to the car and drove back to the house. After some hot food I collapsed in my chair for the rest of the night, I think I aged on the course this year ;-)

Heading for the Hills

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I want to run this little run this afternoon, quite a change from the normal flatland where I run, or?

At a Conference

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I have mostly sitting on my butt the last couple days, attending various technical communication workshops, seminars and such at the annual Tekom conference in Wiesbaden, Germany. I am at least doing a lot of walking in the evenings, Wiesbaden is a really beautiful city, even in the dark.

On Saturday I have an 11.8 kilometer mountain run in Neckargemuend, Germany. That's 11.8 km uphill!

Trying to Catch Up


I'm back...back in Germany, back to running and making an attempt to get back to normal life. It hasn't been easy, my mother's death has left a void in our lives, we will miss her.

We arrived Friday morning in Frankfurt, Germany and managed to make it home by 11:00 a.m. I was exhausted so had to lay down for awhile. My wife had managed to sleep on the airplane so caught up on the pile of mail and newspapers that a neighbor collected for us in our absence. After an hour or two I crawled out from under the covers, another one of our neighbors invited us for a late lunch.

Later in the day my wife took a nap and I went for a run. My muscles were sore and tight from the overnight flight and I could only manage a mediocre pace. The run at least made me feel better, along with a hot shower and some food.

We slept almost 13 hours on Friday night, waking up around noon on Saturday, it has been a long time since we slept so long. I puttered around the house for a few hours, then met my running club at 4:00 p.m. for a run. It was a German holiday so the group was small. I still wasn't fit, so ran a leisurely loop with some friends.

On Sunday after church I met my running partner and we went for a run on the hilly trails in Weingarten. The leaves are still on the trees and in full color so it was an incredibly run. The sun did it's best to peek between the clouds and I caught up with the latest news from my friend.

I spent the rest of the day reading e-mails, blogs and just chilling out with my wife. I slept very poorly last night, so ended up driving my car to work this morning. This allowed me to sleep an hour later to compensate for the sleeplessness of the first half of the night. I hope that I can settle down and get back on my routine by the end of the week.


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