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.

Running 2015

After almost 10 years of training for and running marathons and more, I have decided to take a break. This decision is based on several factors, but the most dominant is the performance decrease over the last couple years. This has further led to a decrease in motivation, which has led to an even further decrease in performance due to the lack of quality training. In an effort to break this cycle, I am stepping back for a while and catching up with other things in my life.

I am still running, but have started to do more cross-training and other sports. I am also working on a plan for the second half of the year that will hopefully prepare me for a new year of racing in 2016. I will attempt to document this progress once I sort it all out.

Where have I been

I just left the following text in a comment on one of my favorite bloggers, so might as well post it here. I think as we pass the “half time” of our life this thinking dominates our lives as we realize our time on earth is really only a vapor, and we begin to reorganize our priorities to allow more time for what really matters. I have been reorganizing my priorities over the last couple years, less marathons, less time doing sports (although my wife says it is still more than what “normal” people do) and blogging has pretty much dropped off the horizon, although I still enjoy reading some of my favorite blogs.

In 2014 I reduced my training, and still ran several marathons and ultras:

March: 6 Hour World Down Syndrome Benefits Run – only ran 5 hours (45K)
April: 12 Hour Salt Works (Saline) Run – quit early, ran 55K
May: Westerwald 50K Race – 6:37:30
June: Pfalz Train Run – 72K in 10:30:00
June: Fidelitas Night Run – 80K (50 Miles) 11:19:00
July: Hornisgrinde Trail Marathon – 4:56:38
September: Adirondack Marathon (NY) – 5:21:46

This year will probably be less, I am currently training for a 6 hour Benefits Run on March 15, but just for fun.

The Race that Wasn’t

I was really looking forward the first annual Wolff Sports 85K Trail Ultra on August 23rd, but sometimes life gets in the way and other things become more important than running a race. I won’t elaborate, but let’s just say it was more important that I stay home that weekend. In any case I am looking forward to running the event next year on August 15th.

I have been continuing my training, shifting from training for a long trail race to running a marathon, namely the Adirondack Marathon in Schroon Lake, New York on September 28th. The course should be quite beautiful, especially if the Adirondack region is in it’s Autumn splendor. I don’t have any specific goal for the race, I am flying over from Germany just two days before the race, so may have to deal with some jet lag, but its a course to enjoy, so I won’t be in any hurry anyway.

Countdown to the Wolff Sport Ultra Trail

For all practical purposes is my marathon training finished for the year, with less than two weeks until my (approx.) 85K (53 miles) Trail race in Feucht, near Nuremberg, there is nothing more I can do to prepare, other than normal tapering procedures.

I took a look at the starter list for the event, the maximum number of participants for the race was not met, there are 18 signed up for the entire distance, 9 others will be running 1 or more stages of the 5 stage race. It appears that I am the oldest participant, although 1 is only a few months younger, most have Ultra race experience and several have completed some tough trail races.

I am definitely back of the pack with this race, which translates into my needing to run my own pace and not be drawn out by the younger and probably stronger participants. The race has a 14 hour time limit, in years past no problem, but this year I will need to be fully concentrated, I don’t have the training base to run well, so I will have to run smart.

The race begins on Saturday, August 23rd at 6:00 a.m., a good thing, as it can get really hot in the summer days of August. The race course is a large loop on the Frankischer Duenenweg, a hiking trail through the forested sections east of Nuremberg. The course is split into 5 stages, 20.6K, 15K, 12.5K, 20.1K and 18K respectively. There are only 4 aid stations on the course, at the end of each of the first four stages, so we will need to carry food and drink.

The URL for the race (in German): http://wolff-sports.de/wordpress/
A Trailer for the run is available on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiuKFHxuUBE&feature=youtu.be

Race Report: Hornisgrinde Marathon 2014

The weekend of July 19-20 was a heat wave over Europe, with temperatures reaching 37°C (99°F) in our region of Germany. For many, the hot summer days is a difficult time, the danger of falling into physical lethargy increases with each degree on the thermometer. While many seek reprieve at the pool, in the shade or a Biergarten (beer garden), here’s my hot tip: The Hornisgrinde Marathon in the densest forest in Germany and at an altitude of 900 meters. Where else could you enjoy a marathon at Sahara temperatures?

I arrived at the forest parking area in Hundseck, located just below the Mehliskopfes, a popular ski slope in the winter months. The Black Forest was still groggy from sleep, the birds chirping, the smell of pine forest, a mist rising over the valley below. At 6:30 a.m. it is already 22°C (72°F), but the sky was overcast and rain threatening.

I strolled up a small hill, where a large tent is set up, I was one of the first to arrive, but at this event there is no frantic running around at the start number pick-up, no long lines at the port-a-potties. The day before, on Saturday, was the half-marathon, I read there were 174 finishers. On this day were the marathon at 8:00 a.m. and a 10K race shortly after this, these races drew 168 and 215 participants respectively. I collected my start number and found a cup of coffee, recognizing a few faces as other racers began to arrive. It began to rain as I waited, cleansing the air, but this was short lived and soon the humidity returned.

Promptly at 8:00 we headed out from the Start before the large tent, there were a few spectators, many waiting for the start of the 10K race. We headed over a comfortable mountain trail in the pine forest, the first half of the marathon is more or less flat or downhill, resulting in the pace increasing relentlessly. I planned an easy 6:30 min/km (10:28 min/mi) pace, but passed the 10K marker in around 60 minutes, and the 20K marker in 2:01:18, a bit too fast for my level of training.

Hornisgrinde Marathon - Start

Mosquitoes and fly were constant companions as we weaved our way through forest and meadow, occasionally we were rewarded with panoramic views over the dark forest covering, but mostly we had to be content with lofty pine and firs reaching towards the heavens. Shortly after the halfway point the trail ran along the Stausee, a lake that was a favorite goal for hikers, evidence by the large number that I passed as I made my way along the shoreline.

Hornisgrinde Marathon - The Stausee

Hornisgrinde Marathon - The Stausee

After the Stausee the course began to gradually climb, and would continue to do so, for most of the last 17 km of the race. As expected, my pace slowed with each gradual climb, my legs took the opportunity to remind me that I hadn’t put in enough training time in this year.

I chugged along up one uphill climb after the other, trying to stretch out the pace where the trail leveled out. The last 10K found me taking ever increasing walk breaks, common when running Ultras, but not necessarily during a marathon.

Hornisgrinde Marathon - km 37

Hornisgrinde Marathon - km 37

The last few kilometers were especially hard, I took a dive over a stone and my hands and one knee were bleeding, what a sight. Anyway I finally reached the last hill, a steep 1200 meter climb to the finish line. About 200-300 meters from the finish line the course turned up a steep bank and I jogged over the finish line. I noted my time 4:56:38, my slowest time ever for the course, but at least under 5 hours, which had been my goal for this training run.

Next up is an approx. 85 Kilometer Trail race on August 23, near Nuremberg, Germany. I guess I should do some hill training before then, at least to try to get my mind set, it’s too late to try to improve conditioning.

Back to Training

Over the weekend my running club sponsored our annual 5/10K race, so I volunteered much of my time helping to setup and working at the water point. Instead of running on Saturday I elected to carry the rest of building supplies left over from our house renovation, from the attic into the shed. This required 40-50 trips up and down two flights of stairs under heavy load.

On Monday I picked up the training again, running 18 km (11.2 mi) with a 6:23 min/km (10:17 min/mi) pace. It was incredibly humid when I ran, by the time I was done I felt like I had run twice as far.

Last night I ran 12 km (7.5 mi) at a slightly easier pace, enjoying a nice forested trail nearby. It was raining gently as I ran, a nice change to the hot, humid weather we have had lately.

My next big race is the Wolff Sports Ultra Trail in Feucht, Germany on August 23rd. This race is an approximately 85 km trail race through a mostly forested area, just south of Nuremberg. This will be the race debut, so details are sketchy, but did find a Trailer video on Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiuKFHxuUBE&feature=youtu.be

I have pretty much decided to run the Hornisgrinde Marathon on July 20th, instead of the Bretten Night52 Ultra the day before. Both are hilly courses, but I am concerned that the 52 km race will wear me down too much and I won’t be able to continue training.

Running in New York

Ever since my fateful attempt to complete the Canandaigua 50 in 2007 I have wanted a rematch, but it just hasn’t worked out, either my training was sufficient or the vacation timetable didn’t fit. This year is no exception, my condition is the worse than it was in 2007. This is unfortunate as this year I am flying alone to visit my family in Upstate New York, so time wise it would have worked out.

The good news is if you have the desire there is always a plan B! The Adirondack Marathon in Schroon Lake, NY is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful marathon courses in the state. On September 28, I will be there to make my own assessment. Of course Jack would not be Jack if there was not a catch to this adventure…apparently the course is supposed to be a bit hilly…

Course:
The race starts on Main Street (Route 9) in the town of Schroon and heads north. Runners will complete one full loop around Schroon Lake on paved roadways (except for one half-mile stretch of gravel road in mile 3). The first four miles are rolling or flat. Miles 4-12 feature short, but steep hills along a two-lane country road on the east side of the lake. Miles 13-18 are flat, along the east shore. Then, there are long, gentle hills on Route 9, leading north to the finish in the town of Schroon.

Adirondack Marathon Elevation Profile

Adirondack Marathon Elevation Profile

…maybe I should start doing some hill training after all.

Last Nights Training: 8K (5mi.) run easy recovery pace.