Some freezing weather, but still going

The cold weather continued this past week, but for the most part it remained dry outside and I was able to train without any setbacks. On Saturday morning I drove to nearby Weingarten and ran my hilly course. It was -13 °C (8 °F) as I plodded up the first hill, as I reached the plateau on top there was a biting wind that reminded me that sunshine alone does not make a spring day. After a couple hours of running up and down and all around my legs were really getting cold, but I stuck it out and ended my run with about 30 km (18.5 mi.), a mile or so shy of my goal, but I was freezing, it was still -9 °C as I ended my training for the day.

This week started out with some scattered snow flurries and this morning the sidewalks and side roads were wet and icy, but the temperature should reach above freezing today, I hope the trails will thaw out a bit before I run tonight.

My conditioning seems to be slowly improving, I have been adding a few faster kilometers to one of my runs each week to try to get the body used to running faster. With almost no speed training for the past two years the body is definitely not used to it, an 8 mile run with some intervals mixed in, takes more out of me than a 20 mile run. But I know I only need to be patient and diligent with my training, improvement will come, and I am really in no hurry, a gradual improvement is enough at my age.

My next race is about a month away, a 6-Hour benefit run for Down-Syndrome, hopefully I can improve on last year’s 51 kilometer finish.

Cold Weather Training

After a very mild January, winter is finally upon us here in Baden, Germany. This past week found temperatures stretching down to -15 °C (5 °F) during the night and only reaching about -4 °C (25 °F) during the day, warm by some standards, cold for us. Having been raised in a cold hamlet in Upstate New York, where it could easily dip to -30 °C (-22 °F) or more, the cold slowed me down but did not prevent me from training.

For all practical purposes this past week was a recovery week from the 50K race that I ran the Saturday before. After resting the day after the race, I headed out for a short (6 km/4 mi) recovery run on Monday evening, where I was surprised to find my legs in pretty good shape. Encouraged by this, I ran a loop with my friend RB (Running Buddy) on Tuesday, braving some rather icy stretches of trail around our running club trails.

I had every intention of going to the pool on Wednesday night for some swimming, but this was the first day that the temperature really dipped down, so I wimped out. On Thursday my legs felt surprising good so close to finishing a long race, so I completed a 10 mile run, whereas the only problem I had was motivational, due to a combination of -5 °C and a bitter cold wind.

By Saturday the wind had died down a bit, so I headed out at 8:30 a.m. for a long run. The temperature was still -11 °C (12 °F), but I was dressed for success and made my way around the forested sections surrounding my area. I really didn’t notice the cold that much, until I tried to take a drink from my CamelBak, the hose was frozen solid…but after tucking it down my shirt for a while it thawed out enough to drink. I completed 28 km (17.5 mi) in around 3 hours, an average training pace for me lately. My legs were bright red and ice cold as I showered after the run, afterward I sat on the couch under a blanket for a while till they warmed up again.

On Sunday I ran by RB’s house and we completed a 10K loop through some of the same forest that I had run the day before. It was still -7 °C (19 °F) outside, but the sun was shining brightly, the kilometers seemed to quickly melt away, it’s always a pleasure to run with RB. It’s nice to see that her training is starting to pay off, she seems to be running easier than the past few months.

So I ended my “recovery week” with 72 km (45 mi.), the second highest mileage week this year and the first time I ran 5 days. My legs are in good shape for having run 50 km the week before. I did restrain myself from running my hilly route on Saturday, no sense pushing my luck. My next major event will be a 6-hour benefit run in the middle of March, followed by a marathon in April, and if my conditioning continues to improve a 12-hour race on April 30-May 1.

Race Report: The Rodgau 50K 2012

On Saturday I finished my first race of the year, a 50K race in Rodgau, Germany, not far from Frankfurt. I believe this race is the first ultra of the year that takes place in Germany, so tends to be a meeting place for the Ultra scene as they begin a new year. As my wife and I arrived at the sport hall to collect my start number I passed several familiar faces. As I waited in line, Monica from the running club in Karlsruhe stopped for a quick chat, we run several of the same races each year, she ran her first 100-Miler last year, the same on that I ran the year before.

After I collected my start number, my wife left to meet an old school classmate that lives in the area, and I headed into the big gym to wait for an hour or so for the start of the race. I chatted with a couple people I knew, then found an empty chair on one wall and relaxed for a while. About 15 minutes before the race I walked the 850 meters to the start, arriving a couple minutes before the start, good timing, I didn’t have to wait too long in the near freezing temperature. I was surprised to see a light dusting of snow on the ground, and hoped the trail wasn’t icy.

My thoughts were interrupted by the last count down and the starting pistol. I was positioned near the back of the roughly 1000 runners, so patiently waited for the wave to move forward. After a minute or two I was able to walk, then run forward, we wore embedded chips in our start numbers, so our race started when we ran over the timing mat.

I flowed slowly forward with the crowd, it would take a few minutes before we had elbow room. The course consisted of a relatively flat 5K loop, starting in a forested section, with an aid station at 0.8K, roughly a 1 kilometer stretch of field, 1K of forest, another kilometer of field, then back in the forest to the start – 10 rounds for 50 kilometers. The weather was not bad, a slight wind, around 0°C at the start, warming up to around 3°C as the day progressed. The light dusting of snow was quickly beat away by the runners, and ground into mud in the forested sections, but still firm enough to run well.

I started out conservatively, running each of the first 6 rounds in a very consistent 31-32 minutes. I felt good, despite limited training, but on the 7th round I started to feel the mileage, I lost about 2 minutes. As I came to the aid station again I got a small snack to eat and sat down for about a minute to rest the legs, before running on. After a kilometer or so I felt better and was able to run through the round, but this would be my slowest round with 36:28 minutes. I repeated my little break as I swung by the aid station, again eating a little snack, but tried not to linger as long. I was again able to run the loop without pause, shaving off a minute from the round before.

As I passed the start again I drew strength from the fact it was my last round, stopped only briefly at the aid station and did my best to keep moving forward. The kilometers clicked slowly away, 46, 47, 48 – I wanted so much to stop and walk, 49, I could hear the crowd at the finish line. I dug in as I headed around the last curve and made my way over a straight-a-way that would carry me to the finish line. My steps grew lighter as I saw the red LED’s that displayed the time at the finish line and somehow found the strength to sprint ahead passing two runners in the last few meters, much to the approval of those supporting us at the finish line. Out of breath and happy I walked it out and did a damage assessment, I felt surprisingly good! I collected a coke to drink and sat for a couple minutes to regroup, then walked over to the sport hall to meet my wife. My 5:31:56 finish time was just about a minute slower than my personal best for this distance, not bad considering I wasn’t even sure if I would finish the race under the 6-hour time limit!

So time to rest up for a few days, then get back to training, in 6-7 weeks is my next race, a 6 hour Benefit Run for Down Syndrome, I look forward to breaking my 51.29 km record!

Off to the races

With my last workday of the week behind me I find myself thinking about my first race of the year (50K) tomorrow. Like every first race of the year I can only guess how it will turn out, I always need a race or two to adjust to “my pace”, as every year is different. Based on my experience I do know that I am not well prepared and should not be too ambitious. Despite 6 years of running marathons or longer, I still tend to start out too fast in the first race or two of the year, maybe I will remember this tomorrow. As I noted in my last entry, my last couple marathons last year were well below average, so I need to be especially conservative this year and really pay attention to those early warning signs that my body usually gives off (and I usually seem to ignore). In any case I am going to try to enjoy myself and just get through it the best I can, a good attitude is half the battle. Catch you on the other side!

Still Running A Way

On Saturday I went on a nice easy 5 mile run with members of my running club, the weather was mild, the company good. On Sunday I ran almost 20 miles, the first 1-1/2 hours alone, then an hour with my running buddy (RB), then the rest on my own. I was pretty worn out by the end of the run, but its only January, so I have a lot of leeway before the longer races begin. So far so good!

Happy Holdays

So my attempt to start blogging again have fallen along the wayside, much like the cross-training efforts that I also started a month or two ago. Life and job have been extremely busy and my discipline has wavered, but like an Ultra each bad mile is only a part of a collection of many good and bad, it’s the total that counts and in the end we get it together somehow.

I am currently training for a 6 –hour race in March, a benefit run for Downs Syndrome, a highly motivating race, just what I need to get me started next year.

For those of you that still read this I wish you the very best of holidays, enjoy the time with your families and friends, the food and the fun, there will be plenty of workouts waiting for you as the new year comes! God bless.

Slowly Increasing the Mileage

The autumn weather that we have been having is quickly changing to the first signs of winter, frosted windows on cars in the morning, near freezing temperatures and piles of leaves on the running trails. A great time of the year to run, really, and that is just what I have been doing, slowly picking up the mileage from a total of around 50 miles last month to 27 miles last week.

In comparison to a year ago my pace is very sluggish, probably a result of a still annoying pinched nerve in the back, a total lack of speed training for nearly two years and maybe even a bit of burn-out. I would like to try to bring my speed back up to what it used to be, but in the moment I not willing to put the work into it. I’m sure when the snow begins to melt after winter, the competitive juices will begin flowing like the sap in the trees, but for now I’m satisfied running with friends and enjoying the journey.

Time to dust off the keyboard

My, its been a long time hasn’t it. I enjoyed a three week vacation in Upstate New York at the end of September and early October, didn’t run much, did eat too much, planned too much and didn’t do everything we wanted to, but it was a great time.

When I got back in the middle of October I spent the first week fighting a bad cold, so missed another week of training, but not a bad thing, the body needs several weeks of rest after race season.

Last week I started running three times a week, a 10 mile run and a couple shorter ones. My next marathon will be a 6-hour race in March, so I still have a few weeks before I need to get serious about my training. Maybe I can work on losing those pounds that I gained on vacation…

Have a happy holiday season!

I haven’t posted for several weeks, I blame it on being extremely busy both at work and at home, and, as it is outside of my race season, generally having little to say.
I have been running 2-3 times a week since I wrote last, my efforts being challenged by an increasing amount of snow. My longest run lately was 10 miles, usually considered a warm-up during race season. I have been attempting to increase my gymnastic and weight training, but life is busy as I said and most evening have been more often spent in the living room rather than the fitness room. Alas, my waist line is showing the first signs of neglect.
Birgit and a couple others are already talking about an early marathon in March, I have been keeping my mouth shut, I promised my wife that I would reduce my races to just 2-3 marathons next year. I do know in the back of my mind that I could run one in March if I started adding a long run soon, but no need to stress my wife out. If the winter stays (turns) mild I may think about it, but a nice summer marathon sounds like more fun to me.
My wife’s aunt passed away two months ago and we have been spending weekends cleaning out her condo, getting ready to sell it. Actually the real estate agent has already been busy and we may have a buyer. This would be good, as the snow we have been having has added some travel time to the normally 3 hour drive to Fuerth (Nuremberg) where the condo is.
For those of you who are still around let me wish you the most blessed and joyful holidays, next year is just around the corner, we’ll catch each other on the other side!