Recently in Training Runs Category

Despite my obvious lack of blogging I have been diligently running and racing, completing the Hornisgrinde Marathon in the Black Forest, this past Sunday. Due to a busy year at work and renovating at home I have reduced my weekly mileage by at least a third this season. With this in mind I was quite pleased with my 4:28:37 marathon finish on a hilly marathon course.

The Hornisgrinde is one of the higher elevation points in the northern Black Forest area. The start of the marathon is in Hundseck, a ski lift and resort area. The marathon course is primarily forest, partially forest paths, but sprinkled with asphalt or concrete trails/roads throughout. The first 25 kilometers are for the most part flat or downhill, but any thoughts of an "easy" marathon course quickly evanesce as the course loops around back towards the finish line.

The beautiful trails through the Black Forest are very soothing as your quads and lungs struggle over the last third of the trail.

hornisgrinde_1.jpg

This year the very cool temperature (9°C), mixed with a little wind and light rain kept me from dabbling too long at the friendly aid stations. With short sleeves and shorts I was woefully underdressed for my plodding tempo. If I had properly trained for this event I would have taken advantage of the cool temperature and tried to run a course best time, but such was not the case.

This was the fourth year that I ran the full marathon, twice before that I ran the half-marathon. The race continues to be one of my favorites, the scenic course is one of the most beautiful that I have experienced in Germany. The organization and friendly volunteers are absolute tops, the crew definetly deserves special credit this year, they froze their butts off and still had a friendly smile and kind word for the runners.

For some great pictures of the course refer to the following links. The links also contain race reports in German if you feel up to it:

marathon4you.de (1)
marathon4you.de (2)
www.laufreport.de

A DNF and Running for Charity

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So I find myself trying to catch up again, life is busy, something has to give.

The Stromberg Extreme Run has come and gone, it started rather well, but my stomach went into a turmoil and I couldn't hold anything in, the sport drink being offered soured my stomach and I noticed it first when it was too late. With an unseasonably warm temperature (28°C/83°F) and an absence of shade from the blazing sun, I decided to drop at kilometer 38. If I was better trained this year I would normally tried to slug my way through the remaining 16 kilometers, but I had 2 major climbs in front of me and was dry-heaving every time I attempted to run. My friends Birgit and Andreas finished the race, barely finishing under the cut-off. They were quite a ways ahead of me by the time I dropped, so I had no chance of finishing under the cut-off.

In any case I was able to resume training, on June 5th I will be running the Metropol Marathon in Fürth, in Bavaria (Bayern). As I have reduced my training by almost 40% this year, I don't have high expectations for the race, I just want to run a solid race without falling on my face.

On Saturday afternoon RB and I ran a charity event with other members of our running club. Our group finished in 12th place, completing ninety-one 3.5 km rounds. The run took place in Bruchsal, with the course winding through the inner city, including part of the palace grounds. Due to the mass of participants it was slow going most of the time, the narrow streets forcing us to walk at times. But it was fun chatting with RB and other runners, and running for a good cause is a bonus.

Still Training Away

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I have been extremely busy at work lately, so something had to give, thus the lack of blog posts. I have managed to squeeze in 3-4 days training a week, with about 2/3 of the mileage on the weekend. This past Saturday I intended on running a 22 km run with two friends who are peaking with their marathon training, I felt good and decided to run the 20 miles with them, I made it through, was sore for a day, but am encouraged by the run.

I am signed up for a few races now, a 6-hour race in March, a 54 km run in May and a marathon in Fürth, Germany on June 5th. The 6-hour race is more of an opportunity run, we will in Fürth in Bayern on that weekend and there just happened to be a run a few streets away. The 54 km run in May will be a bigger challenge, the run has 1250 meters of elevation gain and a time limit of 6 hours and 45 minutes. In June its back to Bayern for hopefully a halfway decent marathon time. This coming weekend I will start my weekly long runs over the hills of nearby Weingarten, I will need to frequent these trails if I want to have any hope of completing the challenging run in May. I post more on that in the coming weeks.

My First Tempo Training in over a Year

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Today I had a hard day at work, by the time I got home I was ripe for some fresh air, especially considering outside was 11°C and the sun was shining. My legs were feeling fully recovered from the two longer runs on the weekend, and the pinched nerve in my back was not acting up, so I decided to try to at least run a few kilometers at a faster pace.

I strapped on my MP3 player, found a tune to warm up with, than headed out on a 13 km loop. I ran the first kilometer at roughly 5:40/km (9:10/mi.), than stretched out the legs a bit. Over the next couple kilometers I gradually increased the pace until I hit 5:10/km (8:19/mi.). As this was my first speed training is probably at least a year, I decided not to push any more, rather level the pace out and try to keep the legs pumping until I got home. The last few kilometers were hard, I could feel my speed declining, but stopped looking at my watch and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. I finally arrived in front of the house, pooped, but satisfied. I ended up with 13 km (8.1 mi.) at an average pace of 5:21/km (8:37/mi.), my fastest paced run since May 2010 when I ran the 8.8889 km Baden Mile race in Karlsruhe!

On Thursday after work I want to run a loop with RB, hopefully my legs will be recovered from my run tonight. On Saturday I want to run a hilly 2 ½ hour run, and on Sunday afternoon at least 1 ½ hours. If I get through these runs without any issues than I should be able to start increasing the training level a bit.

Starting from Scratch

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On Saturday I joined Gerd shortly before 3 p.m. for part of his 30 km long run. I arrived at our running club parking lot about 10 minutes early, Gerd was running the first 10 km loop with Birgit, my 100-mile running partner from last year. The weather was really beautiful outside, sunny and 14°C, only a cool wind kept it from being a perfect day.

After a few minutes Gerd and Birgit came into side, so I strapped on my Camelbak and got ready for a 21 km run. Gerd tanked quick from supplies in his car, than we headed out for a second loop. Birgit decided to run the first mile with us, so the three of us settled into a comfortable pace. Around the first mile Birgit headed home, she wanted to run a 20 km race on Sunday and Gerd and I continued on around loop 2. Gerd was in good form and I was fresh, so we kept up a good pace, arriving early back at the start. The running club was still assembling, so we decided to add another mile before running on with the club.

At the beginning of the third loop Uli joined Gerd and I decided to run on ahead with RB and a few others, they wanted to run a a slightly faster pace, just under 6:10 min./km. The first 5-6 kilometers went well for me, the warm weather was motivating, the company good. By kilometer 7-8 (17-18 km total) I was feeling the effects of a faster than normal pace, I was out front and my pace declined, the others adjusted to my pace and we kept going.

I continued to fight the urge to run slower, but only managed to slow the slowing down, the last kilometer was our slowest, but my run was still the fastest long run so far this year, 21 km in 2:11:05. As I chatted with RB and some other friends after the run, I noticed how tired I felt, quite a change from the last several years where I was already run 80-100 kilometers a week by this of year. After my 100 mile race last September I took a much longer break than normal, this year I am having to start at a much lower level of fitness, I have a lot of work ahead of me!

Missing in Action

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My department at work just received a new Content Management System to prepare our technical documentation and I have been super busy with the accompanying training and implementation. The long hours left much left time as normal, so I had to drop my blog posting just as I was getting started, but hopefully now I can continue with some consistency.

My current race plans for this year are three marathons, a vast reduction compared to the last several years where I ran 8-10 marathons or ultras a year! In anticipation of a busy work year, plus lingering problems with my back (pinched nerve) led to this decision. I think reducing my mileage for a year will also give my body a chance to recover fully and rebuild into a hopefully improved running machine, well we'll see. In any case my first marathon will probably be in May, I'm still looking around for a candidate.

On Wednesday I ran the kilometer to RB's house and we headed out for a 12km (7.5 mi) run. We left early enough to where it was still light enough outside to keep from stumbling around in the dark, the last 5k or so was over a smoothing logging path, so we were able to continue without a flashlight.

This weekend I want to run 20 km on Saturday with Gerd, who is training for a marathon in March, then probably a 12 km loop mit RB on Sunday afternoon. After a couple weeks of freezing or near freezing temperatures, the weekend is supposed to be warm and mild, around 14°C! When the sun peeks it's head out on Sunday, maybe I'll tack on a couple more miles, a little solar energy is the perfect motivation.

Starting up Slowly

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Birgit, my 100 Mile race companion from last year, has already started training for her first marathon of the year, the Bienwald (Bee Forest) Marathon in Kandel, Germany at the beginning of March. I have been running some of the shorter runs with her, but have not committed to any long runs yet. I did sign up for a marathon in June, but am in no hurry to start training, I have time still.

My plan for the year is to reduce my racing from 8-10 Marathon/Ultras a year to maybe 2 marathons and a 50K race. I also plan on running these with less training mileage and without any specific time goals. By taking it easy this year I hope that my body will recover enough so I can increase my performance in 2012 and perhaps a couple more years after this. In any case I noticed last year that the relatively high mileage that I have been running over the last several years is starting to wear me down, so I need to slow down, rest and refocus, so I can come back stronger.

I ran a couple 10 mile runs last week, plus a couple 5 mile runs with some 500 meter intervals mixed in. Since training for the 100 mile race last year my speed has been really reduced, it will take a lot of work to build it up again, but I have the whole year to work on it, I don't plan on running any longer, faster races until 2012.