This past week started out very optimistic, but by Monday night the scratchy throat provided the first warning of what was to follow, I ran an easy run with RB on Tuesday after work, hoping it would not get worse, but by Wednesday I was broadsided with a full blown cold. The rest of the week I didn’t run, most evenings electing to go to bed early as I had no real energy or desire to run. On Saturday I finally ventured out to run with the running club, doing an 8 km run with RB and a couple others, the slower pace still proved to be challenging. On Sunday I had a 20-miler scheduled, but elected to run just half of it, I felt much better, but with my first marathon coming up in 2 weeks thought it would be better to quit early and rest. This morning I feel better, my voice is almost normal and my runny nose has slowed to a trickle, I hope this is a sign that I have finally licked my cold and on the road to recovery.
After work yesterday I ran by RB’s house and we ran 8 km (5 mi.) together before dark. After dropping her off and chatting a couple minutes, I headed over the asphalted paths between the fields separating our town and the neighboring town of Spoeck. By this time it was quite dark out, but the paths are about 1 ½ car width wide and very smooth, perfect for a faster paced run in the dark. My legs were still tired from my long run on Sunday, but I decided to try to run a few kilometers at roughly a 5:30 min/km (8:51 min/mi.), which is my current “speed training” pace. As it was dark I didn’t worry about trying to look at my watch, but after the run I checked my times and noticed I was a bit slower than I thought, around 5:38/km for 5K…I guess it was too soon after my long run after all.
I was thinking about running again this evening, but last night I started feeling the first signs of a cold coming on, that uncomfortable dry, scratchy throat, and this morning is no better …just what I don’t need as I finally getting back into the training routine…but a possible explanation of why I thought I was running faster than I actually was last night.
Yesterday I took a night off from training and did some finishing work in our guest bathroom upstairs in the house. This is one of the four rooms that we remodeled in the shed that is attached to our house. Most of the remodeling is done, but there are dozens of little projects left to do, but these jobs can be spread out over the year, so I should be able to spend more time on my training.
From June to October I ran an average of 3 times a week, in November I increased this to four times a week, and started running my long runs again (i.e. over 12 miles). As my conditioning has been improving I have slowly added some faster mileage, using mixed in with my midweek run(s). I have to be very careful with speed workouts, I’ve noticed my pinched nerve in the back is easy aggravated when I do too much too soon. I have been slack on doing any core and upper body training, so want to slowly mix in some Crossfit/weight training and swimming.
For now I am going to try to continue to run about 50 miles a week for a while, slowly building up my training speed and endurance. On January 26 is my first race, a 50K race in Rodgau, Germany near Frankfurt. I finished the race last year in about 5 ½ hours, but was in slightly better condition, so this year it will be a good test of my fortitude.
…since at least 7 months, my first week of hopefully what will be “normal” training for this years race activities. On Tuesday (New Years Day) I ran 15 km, easy pace around 6:20 min./km, and on Thursday 17 km, at about the same tempo. On Saturday, I went to my running club an hour early and ran 10 km, then another 10 km with friends for a total of 20 km at a 6:05 min./km pace. Today I ran 5 miles, then stopped by my Running Buddy’s (RB) house and picked her up, she ran about 5 miles with me. After dropping her off I continued on until I completed my planned 30 km (about 18.5 miles). The run went pretty well, I felt good until about 25 km, then had to really strain to keep up the pace, I finished in 3 hours and 20 minutes, about average for my current condition, but at least 20 minutes slower than what I could achieve in say pre-2011.
If you have read my blog in the past you may remember that I ran my first (and only) 100 mile race in September, 2010 and also that I had back issues since the beginning of that year (pinched nerve). The latter problem I have learned to live with, trough gymnastic training and other exercises, but as it is connected to the nerves in my right leg I occasionally have pain and/or numbness in my lower leg and/or foot, especially when I run too much speed training.
The 100 mile race left me exhausted, it took me at least 6-9 months to bring my performance back to a halfway acceptable performance, but several other factors, including an increased workload and a major home renovation this past year have prevented me from trying to bring my level of condition up towards my pre-2011 level. Thus my main goal this year is to improve my endurance and eventually speed, adjusted naturally to my age (53). This blog will document this journey, hopefully it will be a success story, but in any case I have a lot of hard work ahead of me.
It has been over 6 months since I have lined up for a marathon or ultra, time to start getting serious about training so I can change this. I continued running the second half of 2012, but mostly to keep the weight down and maintain my sanity during over 6 months of home remodeling.
I started slowly building up my mileage about 7-8 weeks ago, I’m up to about 60 km a week, with my long run currently 28 km. The six months of easy running greatly reduced my speed, I estimate my current fitness level is equivalent to about 4-5 years ago, in other words I have a lot of work ahead of me.
My goals are rather vague for this year, I definetly want to run the 80 km (50 mile) ultra in my area in June, and may also run a 100 km if I feel I am ready. My best marathon time last year was 4:49 and in 2011 4:22, I would like to bring that back down to around 4 hours by the end of the summer.
Well let me know if anyone is still out there, I have been reading most blogs off and on, but generally haven’t taken the time to comment, I hope to change this as well, I’ve missed the “community”.
This title basically sums up the rest of this year. I have been juggling work, home remodeling and trying to train and race for most of the year and it’s not working, most days I feel much like the runner in the picture from my previous post.
On July 14th I tried a very difficult Bärenfels Ultra, a race in Neubruecke, Germany consisting of three 21.3 km rounds, each with around 750 meters of elevation gain/loss. Other than running three marathons from April to June, I did not run ANY long runs in preparation for this race, in other words I was as about as unprepared as one can be. The first round was hard, but Bastian from my running club and I made it through, despite a lot of rain and really muddy, slippery trail.
Around five kilometers into the second round we started up one of the longest, steepest hills and I suffered muscle cramps in the upper thigh of my right leg that left me hanging onto a trunk of a tree in considerable pain – I couldn’t walk, let alone run, and we were in the middle of nowhere. Now Bastian is a newcomer to ultra-running, so was a bit shocked as I tried to stretch out the painful cramps and decide what to do. We were around 5 km from the start in the downhill direction, and maybe 1 km from an aid station at the top of the hill. I decided to try to make it to the top…I started walking, but every few steps had to stop and suppress the pain, the steep slope was not allowing my muscles to recover. I covered about half the distance and decided that there was going to be no way that I would be able to continue once I reached the top, Bastian ran ahead to try to the aid station to inform them I need a ride back to the start. I slowly made my way the last few hundred meters up the hill to the aid station, pausing every few steps as new spasms of pain shot through the thigh.
At the aid station Bastian said he was going to drop as well, but after some debate he finally agreed to keep running, the race organizers were sending a Quad to pick me up, and I knew I would be fine once I work the cramps out of my leg. The ride on the Quad was quite painful as we jousted over the rough terrain back to the start, but I was happy that I didn’t have to walk. After 20-30 minutes of sitting and massaging my leg muscles the pain subsided and I would walk around again without getting cramps again. After about 2 hours Bastian completed his second round and I couldn’t talk him into a third round, so after he rested a bit we headed home. I ended up getting credit for the half-marathon, Bastian the marathon. We both agreed the course was very challenging, and that we definetly would return another year to complete the ultra-discipline.
Under lessons learned can I only say that I was perhaps foolish to try to run one of the toughest trail races in Germany without proper training, but sometimes you have to go for it even when the odds are not in your favor – sometimes you win, and sometimes you don’t.
I would highly recommend the Bärenfels Half-Marathon/Marathon/Ultra, the trail is tough, but very beautiful, and the organization and volunteers are first class.
For the rest of the year I don’t have any race plans, other than a half-marathon in nearby Karlsruhe, Germany in September. I will continue to run as time allows, but will commit most of my free time to bringing our home remodeling projects to an end so I can begin training in the new year. I will continue to read your posts, but will for the most part be missing in action until I return to regular training.
Good Luck Thomas!
Unfortunately my house remodeling is getting most of my free time lately, regular posting is pretty much on hold this summer. I did want to remark that I just completed my 30th marathon last Sunday, which brings my marathon/ultra race total to a golden 50!
My next event will be the 64.8 km Bärenfels Ultra in Neubruecke, Germany on July 14th, it will be especially challenging as I haven’t had any time to train for it. I actually let myself get talked into it (yeah, twist my arm) by Bastian from my running club, he just finished his first ultra, a 50-mile race, and has caught the ultra fever…and of course every ultra runner knows how to treat that…run another race! The Bärenfels is a trail race, 3 rounds, each with about 650 meters altitude difference, a good test to see what Bastian is made of, unfortunately I may not see it, I will probably be way behind the much younger man…
The Schefflenz is a small tributary of the Jagst River in the North of Baden-Württemberg. It crosses idyllic and hilly meadowed valleys flanked on both sides by forests on its 23.5-kilometer course. This picturesque scene is the site of the Schefflenzer ultra run offering a marathon, 50K and 100K disciplines.
After being disappointed with the premature closing of the 12-Hour Salinenlauf the month before due to a storm, I was looking for a good substitute for my 49th marathon. The Schefflenzer seem to offer everything I could look for in a race, scenery, good organization, hills, and due to my lack of training this year, a very generous cut-off time (16 hours). I first considered running “just” the marathon, but my ultra-blood spoke louder and I signed up for the 50K. I at least managed to maintain some of my sanity and reframed from signing up for the 100K…
It took me roughly an hour to drive the 100 kilometers to Billigheim-Allfeld where the race was held. The Saturday morning races began at 6:00 a.m. with the 100K, and 8:00 a.m. for the marathon and 50K. I reached the sport facilities around 7:00 and collected my starter packet. The event is small, with all together maybe 100 runners, walkers and Nordic-walkers. I picked up a cup of coffee and sat watching the other participants arrive. A couple people I recognized, one ran the same 100 Mile race that I ran back in 2010, I chatted with him for a few minutes before getting ready to run.
The start was uneventful, a short safety briefing, then we were off. My last regular training long run was at the beginning of April, I did run a marathon in April and ran 38 km by the 12-Hour run, but I wisely chose to keep the pace down. I was hoping for a 6 hour finish, but I knew that would be a best case option.
The course started out fairly easy, field paths, forest ways and a continuous series of rolling hills. Mixed in over the race course were some good hill climbs for flavor and many, many beautiful picturesque moments of beauty that left the runner wanting more.
The weather was fairly cooperative, it got fairly warm, reaching 26°C, but the sun mercifully chose to stay behind the clouds keeping conditions relatively bearable, especially in the forested sections. I plugged away running many of the gentler hills during the first 30+ kilometers, walking the steeper climbs, and pausing a bit at the aid stations to tank up. My lack of training began to be felt somewhere around the 32 km (20 mile) point, my speed declined, all the hills seemed to be steep and it took much more determination to keep from just walking.
I passed the marathon mark just under 5 hours, I pretty much figured that my 6 hour finish not going to happen, my legs were already trashed. I settled on plan B, which was to finish under 6:30.
I continued over the beautiful landscape, occasionally passing through or near small town, many filled with lovely old timber-framed houses and well-kept gardens. Several runners passed by during the last hour of my race, I was walking much more than I liked, but my legs were cramping a bit when I ran too long. In any case I kept moving, trying to distract my discomfort with the continuing scenic course. After a short eternity I finally saw the edge of town and doubled my efforts trying to beat the clock, I managed to run in just under 6:30, in 6:28:31, good enough considering my training.
I helped myself to the goodies being offered at the finish, tried to sit a bit, but kept getting leg cramps – the first time in a long time that this was so bad, I guess there is no substitute for quality training. After a while I managed to waddle to the showers, then sat and had a piece of cake and some coffee before heading home.
The course, organization, and warm friendly atmosphere left a very good impression; I definitely will be back again. Next year they are adding a 100 Mile race, hmmm I wonder I will have enough time to train for this over the winter and spring…
On April 30th I lined up with around 70 other runners for the first running of the Bad Dürkheimer Salinenlauf, a 12-Hour race run around a flat 776 meter loop in the middle of the town of Bad Dürkheim. I was on track for meeting my goal of 100 kilometers, but alas my plans were dashed as a storm came through and took out the power, flooded the finish area, and basically blew away anything not tied down. The organizer regrettably cancelled the race after 4 hours and 40 minutes. Most of the runners were storm-proof veterans who would have kept going, but without support (and official timing), all but two diehards packed up and went home.
In any case I was running much too slow, I finished with less than 38 kilometers (23 miles), less than a marathon, thus it did not qualify as my 49th marathon as planned. In any case I am already signed up for an alternative for my 49th marathon, the Schefflenzer 50K Ultra on June 2. The Ultra is a good mixture of field and forest trails, in a very beautiful part of Germany, just above Heilbronn – almost the exact opposite from the rather boring 776 meter round course that the 12-Hour race offered.