A Marathon on the Weekend

My legs are still tired from the charity run last Saturday, I blame the asphalt streets, this was the first run on asphalt since last year, and then right away 27 km. In any case I think it will be a long night on Saturday.

The marathon starts at 8 p.m., the course consists of the last 42.2 km of the 80 km (50 mi.) Fidelitas Night Ultra. The 80 km starts in Ruppur, Germany and consists of a long loop around the region. The marathon starts in Mutschelbach at one of the relay exchange stations. A shuttle bus is available an hour before the race to transfer the marathon runners from Ruppur to the Start. I ran this marathon last year, the first part is hilly, and at my speed the second half in the dark, so it’s not a course to try to run a new personal best. My days of running personal bests are over anyway, so I just want to enjoy the night, I always liked this course, but the 80 km is a bit too much, I just don’t have the conditioning.

My training is rather inadequate for the race, my longest long run lately was the 27 km last Saturday and the marathon in May. Thus my goals are very conservative, first to finish, and second to finish in under 5:15. For comparison, last year I finished in 5:20:50. The days of a sub-4 hour marathon are long gone, the age adjusted goal these days is a sub-5 hour, perhaps in September. But one step at a time.

Running for Charity

My recovery from the marathon at the end of May has gone much slower than I have liked, I really notice the difference from previous years when I was training optimally. With my next marathon one week away (June 25th) there is really not much I can to prepare other than keeping the running machine from getting rusty.

On this past Saturday a lot of my running club met in Weingarten for the annual B.L.u.T Cancer Awareness and Charity Run. Our sponsor pledged 1.50 Euro per 1.3 km round, so we did our best to accumulate as many rounds as possible. I originally planned on run for an hour or two, but ended up running the entire three hours, completing 21 rounds, approximately 27 km. I have been running soft trails most of the year, so the 3 hours of asphalt and dogging kiddies (there were >1700 participants) really pounded the legs, my legs are still sore.

In any case I need to let the legs rest, the marathon next Saturday is just for fun, but I’m not well trained, so need to make sure that I am at least well rested.

The 3rd Salinenlauf (Salt Works Run) Bad Dürkheim

The weather proved to be much better than the reports had predicted as I lined up at the start of the 3rd Salinenlauf (Salt Works Run) last night. A couple hours earlier, as I was driving to the event, it had rained, but then the sky cleared and we had almost perfect weather, except for the very high humidity.

I started out at a conservative pace that would get me past the marathon distance mark in about 4:45 if I could maintain the pace. The 929 meter round went by fairly quickly for the first couple hours, I accumulated 21 km, a half-marathon, in 2:17:48, a bit too fast for my level of training.

I hit the wall on my 26th kilometer, way too early, I stopped for a few minutes to change my socks (there was standing water on two parts of the course) and to eat a little bit. This proved to be a mistake, my legs were stiff as I started out, I never did get back up to pace again.

With 10 kilometers to go my legs were toast, I had covered up to 32 kilometers several time during training, but on this night it was a problem. I started walking through the two points on the course where there was standing water, probably 50 meters together. The water was high enough to flood into the shoes, no one had dry feet on this night.

I was at least able to shuffle on in between the two point where there was standing water, they were roughly 400 meters apart, so allowed me to briefly rest as I waded through. I passed the marathon point (46 rounds) in around 5:14, much slower than I wanted, but that’s the way it went. I walked a couple rounds, trying to pull myself together, it didn’t help much. Through the walking I was getting really cold, my clothes were soaked from sweating, so I decided to take a break and change my clothes.

I went to my car, which was in the parking lot on one corner of the course, maybe 50 meters away. The weather had been changing the last hour or so, the star-filled sky was replaced by dark clouds with flashes of lightening. As I changed my clothes the first rain drops fell, I laid out my jacket, I knew I would be needing this. It continued to rain harder, then it poured, and kept pouring, with thunder and lightning.

As I had already reached my goal of running a marathon, I decided to take a nap, there was still 6 hours left in the 12 hour event, maybe later the rain would stop and I would do a few more rounds before heading home.
After an hour it was still raining, so I decided to go home, I achieved my goal of running a marathon, anything more at this point would only be a cause of more recovery time before I resume my training.

The rain poured down as I drove home, I could only think about how soft I’ve become, compared to the “old days”.

The official race results show me running 47 rounds, which is 43.663 km, but my Garmin shows around 44.592 km, 48 rounds, oh well whatever.Today my legs are in surprisingly good shape, even the stairs do not intimidate me.

The race definitely showed me that I have a lot of work to do if I want to run a faster marathon or an ultra. At almost 57 years old, the mind is still willing, but the body is not making it easy. I need to think about this for awhile.

Off to the races

My bags are packed, my running shoes and clothes laid out, in less than 9 hours I will be lining up for my first marathon in almost a year. I need about an hour to drive to Bad Durkheim, where the race will be held.

I am a bit nervous about the race, mostly because I don’t know what to expect after an eleven-month pause from racing. The event is a 12-hour race, if I was in peak condition I could easily complete 80 km (50 mi.). However, I am not in peak condition and this is not my goal, my goal is to complete the marathon distance in around 5 hours. If I am still feeling good after this I will decide how long I want to continue, but I need to get some sleep, I have to be fit Monday morning.

For the first two years this event we had bad weather, the first year (2012) was a bad storm which caused a power outage, whereas they had to cancel the event after around 4 ½ hours. The second year (2014) was similar, lots of rain, with standing water on the course. This year is not looking good either, the report is rain with storm conditions. As I write it is quite humid outside, a good sign that we are in for a thunderstorm.

In any case I have everything I need to run up to 12 hours, regardless of the weather. How far I run will depend on how well the first 4 hours go, if I am reduced to walking by that time, then I will finish the marathon distance and call it a night. If my “ultra memory” clicks in and I am running on autopilot, then we’ll see what happens.

Counting Down to Race Day

This past week I began tapering for my first marathon, I still ran five days, but reduced the mileage from around 80 km per week (~50 mi.) to 58 km (36 mi). This week I will probably run just 2 shorter runs, my legs have felt really heavy and tired lately, I think the rest will bring more than running.

On this coming Saturday at 10 p.m. is the 3rd Durkheimer Salinen Run, this will be the third time that I am participating. According to Wikipedia, Bad Durkheim is a spa town in the Rhine-Neckar urban agglomeration, and is the seat of the Bad Dürkheim district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. “Saline” translates to salt works, the salt is won through a graduation tower, known locally as Saline, and is part of Bad Dürkheim’s spa facilities. With a length of some 330 meters, it is one of the biggest of its kind in Germany. The course is run around the Saline, this year the course has been lengthened to 929 meters, so I only need to run 46 rounds for a marathon 😉

The event is run every two years, the first time I was still halfway fit, I was planning on running at least 100 kilometers, but a storm knocked out the power and they had to cancel, I only managed 38 km. For two years I ran with only limited training, after 55 km and a drenching thunderstorm I decided I had enough. This year I have even less training, and I haven’t run a race for almost a year. My only goal is to run at least the marathon distance, time unimportant, this will be a test run to determine how the rest of my running year should go.

This Weekend in Running

With two week to go (less as I write) until my first marathon event this year, I contemplated whether to run one last long run on the weekend. As primary goal for the event is just to finish, I decided in favor of this and suited up.

It was raining when I left work, but the sun came out by the time I was home, so I decided on shorts and a short-sleeve running shirt. Unfortunately after about 45 minutes into my run the weather changed for the worse, heavy rain and a cold wind. Two and a half hours into my run I was drenched and cold, so decided it would be far worst to catch a cold at this point than to get in a few more kilometers, so headed home, finishing with about 25 kilometers.

On Saturday I ran a loop with RB (my running buddy) at our running club, Elizabeth joined us for the first half. On Sunday after lunch I ran a faster 10 km and on Monday (a holiday in Germany), 12 km at roughly the pace I want to run my marathon. Today I have to work late, so will take a break.

I have been averaging around 70 kilometers (43-44 miles) per week since February, much less than a few years ago, but I think adequate for my first race this year. At almost 57 years old I have noticed that I lack the ambition that I had in the earlier years of running. I also have noticed that I need longer to recover, especially when I push the pace or increase training distances too quickly. With this in mind I want to taper a little before the race on May 28th.

The Present Condition of the Running Machinery

I have determined that getting back into a habit becomes more difficult as you get older. Yesterday I sat done wanting to write a blog entry and I didn’t know where to begin, so didn’t write. Today I am just letting it roll out.

In two weeks I am running my first marathon (or more) since June of 2015, so thought I would document some thoughts are my current state of readiness for said event.

For my one and only marathon last year I finished in 5:20:50, my slowest marathon ever, which prompted me to hang up my racing shoes for the rest of the year. I began my marathon training this January and it has progressed slowly, by conditioning was so poor that I had cancelled a marathon planned in March and didn’t sign up for one in April. At this point my parrot predictor is predicting a marathon finishing time of around 4:40 which would be okay at this point, but based on how I feel on my long runs, very optimistic.

In April I began looking for a marathon that would be a good candidate to launch my race season. Most races in the area just didn’t fit to my schedule or level of training, for example the Westerwald 50K with over 1400 Meter elevation gain, seemed like a bit too much. I ended up selecting the 12-Hour Salinen Run in Bad Dürkheim. The race fits well with my schedule, and will allow me to really test how far my legs can carry me. The disadvantage, some may say, is that the course is a 693 Meter loop, which most would probably say would the most boring run ever.

I have run this race twice in the past, the first time a power outage ended the race prematurely, the second time I quit early after running 55 km (35 mi.) due to a drenching thunderstorm that washed away my desire to continue. As far as boredom goes, I never experienced this, in the past I knew several of the participants, so it was pretty hard to get bored when you are running with a bunch of ultra runners with lots of time to talk.

I really can’t image holding out for the entire 12 hours, this is not even a goal, but I am hoping that I can at least match my 55 km that I completed 2 years ago, this should be doable even if I have to stop and take a nap in between (the race starts at 10 p.m. and goes until 10 a.m. the next day). A race-of-my-life goal would be 70-80 km, but I would really need to be having a good day to complete this, at least with my current conditioning.

In any case I have gotten older, slower, and have let my conditioning decline. Despite these obstacles I am looking forward to toeing the starting line, I have missed the race atmosphere, once you have been there you don’t forget it.

runningwithjack is back

After taking almost a year off from running races and blogging I decided to give both another try. It was actually a brother of mine who helped me make the decision to continue sharing my training and thoughts; he mentioned he enjoyed reading the blog to see what we were up to here in Germany.

My first hurdle was getting “runningwithjack” up and running, it seems my blog was a victim of a host server change, so first step was to contact Guru Jeff and get my site reactivated (thanks again Jeff!).
Jeff mentioned that most breakingthetape users have moved on to Facebook and other social media locales, so didn’t automatically reinstate the sites. Not being a big fan of these other social media (the word “trust” comes to mind), I decided to continue with BTT.

Since my marathon in June 2015, I have still been running, but had no real ambition to run another race. I hit kind of a runner’s mid-life crisis, if such a thing exists, where my declining speed and endurance led me to question what I am racing for. In the past the answer to this question was always “because I can”. But at the beginning of this year, this was very questionable.

My lack of a training plan led to other bad habits, like overeating, so at the beginning of 2016 I found myself at 84 kg (185 lbs.), the highest weight since 2004. I have managed to bring this down to 73 kg (160 lbs.), but the body fat content high and the muscle tone diminished.

I first planned on running a marathon in March, but my first couple months of attempting longer runs, led me to postpone this decision, in April also. Finally, I decided to take the dive and signed up for an event. So on the 28th of this month I will once more toe the line of a race.

Race Report: The Fidelitas Night Marathon

What do you do when you are poorly trained and your favorite Ultra is coming up on the weekend? With just two runs long runs up to 24 km (15 mi.) in the last month, and having just returned from a trip to the USA three weeks before, most people would not have the idea to run a long distance race. Rest assured I didn’t either, at least until a day or two before the race. But don’t worry, old age is catching up to me, so rather than run the 50-Mile (80 km) Ultra, I decided to downgrade and run the night marathon.

The Fidelitas Night Marathon begins at 8:00 p.m. at approximately the 38th km of the Ultra race route, and follows the same route to the finish line. Because I wasn’t signed up for the marathon, I had to arrive early in Rüppurr, where the Ultra begins, to guarantee a starting number. I ended up getting there shortly before the Ultra started at 5:00 p.m., so helped cheer them on as they started the race. It was a cool day, around 16 °C (61 °F) so I settled in my car with a book and waited for the bus that would transport us to the starting line.

I arrived at the start in Mutschelbach about an hour before the start, so found a place to sit out of the cold wind until shortly before the start. Shortly before 8:00 p.m. I lined up with the other 48 participants and soon after the starting gun sent us off into the night. I ended up tagging along with 4 other runners to first 10-15 minutes, and after a bit started chatting with the female runner in the group. It turned out she lives in the same town as I do, and we had the same time goals (just to finish), so we decided to run together as the other three runners began to outpace us.

The first half of the marathon contains the majority of hill climbs, nothing really long or steep, but due to my lack of training we walked the hill climbs to save energy. Lucky for me Linde wasn’t worried about the pace, she was happy she didn’t have to run alone when it got dark. Despite a couple short walking breaks on the hill climbs we finished the first 10K in around 1:07:00 and the first half of the marathon in about 2 ½ hours. When I consider my longest training run was the week before (24 km / 15 mi.), this was for me totally acceptable.

About two hours into the race we had to break out the flashlights, it was an overcast night and the forested sections of the course were dangerous without a light. After around 28 km (17-18 mi.) my pace started noticeably dropping, the lack of training taking its toll. I had warned Linde from the start that this would occur sooner or later, fortunately she was very patient and encouraging throughout the night.

The last 10K was mostly Galloway, with regular walking breaks every couple kilometers, but mostly just for a minute or two. Having run the Ultra 8 times previously, I knew the course like the back of my hand, so really never had any doubts about finishing, it was only a question of how long it would take. In any case I was happy to finally see the streetlights of Rüppurr as we wound our way out of the last forest section and headed toward the sports stadium and the finish. I did my best to keep running as we entered the stadium and circled around the running track to the finish line.
Linde and I exchanged congratulations and joined her friends who were waiting for her. I stood and chatted with them for a few minutes, but my legs were tired, so I excused myself, and headed home. We ended up finishing in 5:20:50, one of my slowest marathons ever, but without proper training I really didn’t expect anything different.

After an 8 month break from racing, it is good to know that I still have the mindset to keep going when it gets tough, now I only have to work on the speed and endurance. I also was able to enjoy at least part of my favorite race course, and made a new friend along the way.

As always the Fidelitas Ultra and Marathon were well organized, the helpers friendly and encouraging, and the route well marked. For anyone looking for a somewhat different run in Germany, both of these runs come with my highest recommendation.