2013 in Review

The end of the year is upon us and I find myself thinking about where I have been this year with my running and fitness, and where I want to go next year.

After almost a 6 month race pause in 2012 I began the year with new hopes for a good race year, but we decided to renovate a couple more rooms in the house, so again my running took a backseat for a few months. Towards Spring I tried to pick up the training, but somehow never got up to speed, quite literally. I completed 7 marathons or more during the year, but almost all of them significantly slower than years past. This was really not a surprise, I only ran about half of the mileage that I usually do, and much of this was at an easy gait.

By September I seriously considered not running any more races, but the German 24 hour championships were being hosted by a local running club, so I decided to participate, non-competitively mind you. If you read my race report you know I ran 100 km in around 16 ½ hours and called it a night. Two weeks later I ran a marathon, my slowest ever, also no surprise considering my lack of training. After the September events I went on vacation and have spent the last few months resting and limiting my mileage.

After a very mediocre year I am looking at the upcoming year with mixed feelings. On the one side I would like to try to regain some of the fitness that I experienced a couple years ago, when I could run for hours with little thought. On the other side I know how hard I had to work to reach this level and maintain it. At almost 55 years old I wonder how much time and energy I want to commit, and more so, if my busy life will allow me to reach my goals.

I think each of us has to make similar decisions, for some it is easier than others, we each have to decide where to draw the line. For me I have to spend the next several months working on the core, including losing weight, building strength and endurance, and trying to run faster and farther.

As far as goals, I guess my goal for 2014 is to be able to look back over the year and feel satisfaction in knowing that I gave my best efforts to improve my fitness and to complete any races that I do.

I wish all of you a blessed New Year!

Coming Out of Hibernation

Actually I haven’t been sleeping, I have been looking at blogging languorously, having no particular inclination of putting my thoughts on the information highway. With race season slowly winding done I thought I would break the silence and do a short summary of the year to date.

I have been running and training, albeit with less enthusiasm and only about half the mileage as previous years.I haven’t run any marathons yet, rather I shuffled through several ultra-marathons:

March: Word Down Syndrome 6-Hour Benefit Run – 44.7 km (only ran 5 hours 15 minutes)
May: Westerwald 50K Ultra – 7:08:10
June: Schefflenzer 50K Ultra – 6:53:28
June: Fidelitas 80K Night Run (50 miles) 10:46:24
July: Bretten Night52 52K Ultra – 6:45:29

My finish times have suffered due to the lack of training, but as they say you get what you train for, I’m okay with this.

I’m signed up for the Baden Marathon in nearby Karlsruhe on September 22nd, the last marathon or more for this year. I had intended to race this race, but never started my 4 hour training plan, so a few weeks ago I started looking around for a new adventure, something a bit out of the ordinary, and something I can do within the limits of my slothful training.

He who seeks will find, in the form of the “25. Deutsche Meisterschaften der Deutsche Ultramarathon Vereinigung (DUV) im 24h-Lauf” which roughly translates to the German Ultramarathon Consortium 25th Annual 24 Hour German Championship Run. Although this is a run for the best 24 hour runners in Germany, it is also an open run, which means normal mortals can also run in 1.2 kilometer circles for up to 24 hours, I mean why should elite runners have all the fun.

Yes you read this right, the course is approximately 1.2 kilometers (0.75 miles), flat, asphalt, in a park, about as boring a run as you can imagine. So why on earth am I going to run this you may ask, especially when I will probably end up with about half the distance of the elite runners? The answer is: no good reason, and to be honest I try not to think about it too much or I may talk myself out of it by the weekend. Regardless of the sanity of this race, I am lining up at 10 a.m. on Saturday with 100+ other assorted crazies and we are going to see who submits to boredom first. I’m sure there will be a few, like myself, that will be wowed as we are lapped time and time again by runners attempting to set a new German record. And regardless how much mileage I accumulate, one thing is sure, I still get the same finisher shirt! I’ll let you know how it goes.

Another 50 Mile Week

This past weekend I continued with my two-a-day run on Saturday and long run on Sunday. I was a bit more sluggish on my run Saturday morning, I ran the same 16 km (10 mi.) loop as Wednesday and Thursday, but was 10 minutes slower than Wednesday and 20 minutes slower than Thursday. I attribute my decline in performance to my renovation efforts at the beginning of the week, this wreaked havoc on my recovery from last weekend’s running. My late Saturday afternoon 9k/5.5mi run was better, I ran an easy pace with RB at our running club meet.

On Sunday my legs were stiff but I made it through my planned 30 km (18.6 mi.) long run. My average pace was 15 seconds/km slower than the week before, but remained constant and I did not need to pause, except to pee. The 7:05 min/km average pace is much slower than I would like, I am definitely going to work on bettering this before I try to run a normal marathon. I finished the week with 87 km, around 52 miles, I believe my highest mileage week since 2011.

I have one more long run on this coming weekend before my 6-hour event on March 17, I hope to complete 32 km (20 mi). The weather is looking more favorable, we should finally get a couple days above freezing temperatures.

Running and Remodeling

Last week I had to mix in some home improvement in with my marathon training, which made it more difficult to keep up with my training plan. My Saturday early morning 10 mile run was especially hard, most of Friday night was spent running up and down a ladder as I installed ceiling panels in our new storage room. Most of the day Saturday was spent painting the walls in the storage room, but somehow I managed to complete the 9 km loop with RB and our running club at 4 p.m. RB also joined me for an hour of my 28 km run on Sunday. Surprisingly I felt better on this run than I did the previous morning, but still had to fight my way through the last few miles.

On Monday and Tuesday we had a plumber and floor-tiler finishing off our new guest bathroom, so I had to take a couple vacation days off. I spent the days building some storage shelves and other tasks, so took a break from running. Last night I went for a faster 10 mile (16 km) run, surprisingly I averaged 5:35 min/km (9:00 min/mile), one of my faster runs lately. I hope this is a result of my intensified training of late, I guess I will know next week when I try it again. Tonight I am repeating the same loop, but at a more relaxed pace. For the next two weekends I will try to repeat my two-a-day runs on Saturday and my long run on Sunday, hoping adding a mile or two on to the long run each weekend.

On March 17 is my first marathon or more, a 6-hour benefit run for Downs-syndrome. This will be a good test of my current conditioning and will provide some feedback as to how I need to tweak my training for the 80 km (50-mile) run in June.

My Weekend Training

Over the weekend I continued training according to my new training plan, Saturday morning around 8 a.m. I headed out for a 16 km (10 mi.) run, averaging 6:13 min/km, at 4 p.m. I ran a 9 km loop at our running club with RB, averaging 7:22 min/km. Yesterday I ran a 28 km long run at an average pace of 6:51 min/km. I think my body is slowly getting adjusted to the training; I was a few seconds faster on my long run than last weekend. That said, I was still pretty wiped out after the run, I still have a long ways to go before the long runs become “easy”.

Current Training Plan

I have been looking over my old training plans from years past and none of them fit to where I currently am with my conditioning and where I want to go with my training. Typically this time of year I have several months of core and muscle training behind me and am ready to really start building up the endurance, unfortunately after almost a year of home renovation it is an entirely different scenario.

Before I list my current outlook on training let me talk about my racing goal(s) for this year. My first goal is to complete the 80K (50-Mile) Fidelitas Night Run on June 22 in under 10 hours. I took a break from this run last year, so need to build up to this distance again. I was considering a 100K race 3 weeks before this run, but considering my current condition, I think it is too much too soon. From May to July I plan on completing at least four 50K races, most of them trail races. I hope my training and racing will leave me in shape to run a marathon under 4:15: (my best marathon last year was 4:49) at the end of August or September. These are fairly vague goals, but at almost 54 years old, I have to be careful about setting overzealous goals.

For the next two months I want to try the following training plan:

Monday: Cross training
Tuesday (or Wednesday): 16 km (10 mi) run, marathon pace or faster
Wednesday (or Tuesday): Cross training
Thursday: 16 km run, 1 minute slower than Tuesday
Friday: Rest or light cross training
Saturday (morning): 16-20 km, 1 minute faster than long run pace
Saturday (evening): 8-11 km, recovery pace
Sunday: 25-34 km, long run

To test this training I am running a 6-hour benefit race in March, last year I ran 46 hard kilometers, this year I am looking for an easier 50. I will reevaluate my training after this race, as my focus will turn to training for the 50-miler, which has a lot of hills.

Training is dragging

At the moment my training is dragging a bit, at least compared to previous years. I think the main problem is that am trying to train like I did when I was better conditioned and am trying to do too much in a short time. I am also a couple years older, so need to make adjustments for this as well. My next planned race is a 6-hour benefits run in March, which means I have around 7 weeks to train. I think the next couple weeks I am going to try concentrate on core training, than gradually increase the mileage up to the race. My goal for the 6-hour race is 50 km, but anything over the marathon distance is acceptable.

Still some snow, but the trails mostly clear

Yesterday the temperature slowly crawled above the freezing point and much of the remaining snow has melted, so I decided to try a run on the local forest trails. The roads and asphalt bike paths leading to the forest were pretty much free of ice and snow, except for a couple shady places. The forest paths still had snow and ice in the middle, but on each side of the path the snow was gone where hunters and forest workers had driven through. For the most part I was able to cruise through my run without hesitation, but as it got dark I did slow a bit because I couldn’t see if there was ice or not. I ended up with a 16 km (10 mi) run at an average pace of 6:06 min/km (9:49 min/mi).

Tonight I want to run again, RB may run part of the run with me if the weather stays nice. On Saturday I want to run with my running club, and on Sunday I want to try to get in 20 miles.

Easing back into Training after a Cold

My cold is slowly getting better, so I went for a run last night, 13 km at a 6:18 min/km (10:08 min/mi.) pace. There was a little bit of powder snow on the trails, but it was fresh and not too slippery. I pushed the pace a little harder after warming up, but noticed my breathing still isn’t back to normal due to my cold, so settled back to a comfortable pace. Over the next few days we are supposed to get more snow, and colder temperatures, the trails could start getting ugly by the weekend.

Slowed by the Common Cold

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.