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Going nuts training for endurance events ...

Updated: 2018-03-06T11:00:23.967+01:00


Running Hochbrückenlauf and Talking to a Doctor about my Knee


Last Sunday, I ran the Hochbrückenlauf in Kiel. It is one of my favorite races – it’s a great course, it’s a hard race that you can’t fake, and it’s usually right on the border between winter and spring.

This year did not disappoint. The weather turned nice the week before the race – at least during the day. It was still freezing during the night, so I still didn’t manage to run in my shorts during the week. But Sunday morning turned out nice and sunny, so I was finally able to ditch the long tights for the race.

As usual, I really enjoyed myself during the race. I was running a pretty solid, hard pace across the whole distance. As usual, I was worried if I could hold the pace all the way, but I managed to eat and drink in small portions without my stomach getting upset, so that was really encouraging. When  I hit the big hill at the bridge, I slowed down a bit on the uphills, but I recovered quickly and was able to run in strong. My average pace was around 4.45/k the whole way. I ended up with a 2.17 – which was a bit disappointing at first, as the last few k-markers seemed to indicate that I would be around 2.15. But they probably were a bit off (the Garmin pace kept steady), so all is well. If I was able to run that pace in my marathon, it would mean a 3.22 – a 7 minute PR, but I would like to be able to be another 3 minutes quicker and post at least a 3.19. I’ve got eight more weeks of training to get there!

My Knee acting up again

One of the things that may stop me in my training is my knee. I’ve felt another “twinge” Saturday morning, but it wasn’t any problem in my Sunday race. Afterwards however, it didn’t feel to good – some tightness, probably due to the swelling. Sitting at a desk on Monday didn’t help, so I quickly dashed in to the doctor. He was able to calm me down a lot. Here’s what he told me:

  • My knee has some instability due to the torn PCL from a few years ago.
  • Muscularly I’m fine, that’s why running is not a problem.
  • As long as my “episodes” are so far apart (and I can still complete an Ironman), I shouldn’t worry about it.
  • If it gets more frequent or I stop doing things because it hurts my knee, then we should think about some therapy and/or surgery.
  • In the meantime, when I feel a “twinge”, I should aggressively take some ibuprofen – not for the pain, but in order to keep the swelling to a minimum.

In other words – nothing to worry about for now. Again, he was able to make me feel a lot better …

Ready for my next race: Hochbrückenlauf 2011


Tomorrow, I’m going to run my next race: Hochbrückenlauf 2011, a 29.2k race through some beautiful countryside, and also a pretty hard test race.

Recovery after Husum Marathon

It is almost three weeks since I raced the Husum Marathon. I’m not really sure if I am properly recovered from this race, just this last Tuesday I didn’t feel like running at all (so I took the evening off). That may have had as much to do with stress at work, so I tried to take things a bit easier at work (or rather more focused on the important things and not be fazed by the little stuff). It helped, and I was able to do some decent training in the last few days and feel okay for tomorrow.

But you never know until you race, so I may be in for a rude surprise …

Goals for the Race

My best times in this race are a 2:19 and a 2:20, around a 4:45/k pace. Usually, this race is the last test race before my spring Marathon, and I try to run it at Marathon goal pace or a little bit quicker. My goal time for this year (a 3.20h) would be a 4:42/k, so my goal should be a decent PR for Hochbrückenlauf, possibly around 2.15.

However, this year (with my Marathon being at the end of May instead of April) I’m more toward the start of my focused Marathon prep than the end of it. So I’m not sure if that goal is reasonable, but I’m willing to give it a try to run a PR.

So I’m going to start at about a 4:45/k pace and see how that feels. If I manage to eat and drink at that pace, I’ll try to increase the pace a little bit after about 8k (when the course is going to flatten out). I’ll try to relax and eat until around 20k, as the 23k mark is under this bridge:


while 24k is on the bridge and there is a little hill in between ..

I hope I can keep things together in the seemingly never ending 5k after the bridge. As long as I’m not completely falling apart, I think I’ll be happy, and I should be able to post a decent time.

Also, this will probably be the first run for this year that I’ll be running in shorts .. this is what the weather report looks like:


Cold in the morning, but sunny and warmer during the day.

I just hope to make it to the start in time, this night we’re going to switch to daylight saving, and last time the iPhone alarms weren’t working for a few days. I guess I’ll need a backup alarm clock for tonight!

Husum Marathon – A great “long run”


The Husum “Winter Marathon” had a serious problem this year. Usually, you have to live with the harshest conditions you can get in Northern Germany: A lot of wind, cold temperatures, rain or snow, sometimes a lot of it. (In past years, participants had to run on uncleared bike paths through 10 inches of snow.) This year, conditions were very favorable: A cold, clear night with freezing temperatures had given way to a sunny day with blue skies and nice temperatures (at least for early March – about 5°C or about 40°F). Except for a stiff wind on the way out, you couldn’t have asked for nicer weather. Pre Race Goals I had signed up for this race in order to motivate me for some longer runs in the winter months. I had managed to get some solid training in, but not quite the volume I had in mind. I managed a few longer runs of up to 25k at a decent pace, but I was quite skeptic about my endurance. So my goals were clear: Run a decent paced long run, make sure I eat and drink enough not to run into too many problems in the second half, and arrive at 30k in shape to be able to run under 3:50 if possible. I was in for a big surprise! First Half After the start we got a pretty stiff headwind, so I made sure to run at the end of a larger group that was going at a decent pace. We were running along at about a 5:25/k pace which felt totally effortless. I had to remind myself to hold back and run steady until the 30k mark. I managed to eat and drink something every 15 to 20 minutes without any problems, and the run went along without anything happening except for maybe a short bio break after which I easily ran back to the group. Faster than anticipated we reached the half way mark – 1:53:23, a 5.22/k at an average heart rate of 133 – probably the easiest half marathon I had ever run. I was really surprised how well I was holding up, and in a great position to run around a 3:45. My goals started changing a bit … Second Half Slowly, I was giving myself a few extra beats of HR to increase my pace – to 5:15, to 5:10. The kilometers were flying by and when I hit the 30k mark, I was at 2:41 and I was still feeling really good. I could just continue, or I could try to speed up and see what was possible. It would require a clearly sub 5-minute-pace to get under 3:40 – clearly a stretch at this point of the season. Nonetheless, I wanted to give it a try but without detonating. It felt good to increase the pace some more, but whenever there was a slight hill, I struggled and it was clear that I was running close to the pace that was possible for me. That pace was hovering around 5:00/k – some k’s were a little bit faster, some were a bit slower. At the last aid station, I made sure to drink a few sips of Coke and hoped that would give me some extra boost – but all that was possible was just holding the pace The last k hurt (as usual in a marathon), and I ended up coming in at 3:42:00 on my watch and an official 3:42:53 (which includes some pit stops that the GPS watch took out). I’m really happy with that result, it was my third or fourth fastest marathon ever. Looking forward The Husum marathon is a really good sign for my A-race this season, the Hamburg Marathon at the end of May. My goal is to PR (currently 3:29), possibly dip under the Boston qualifier time of 3:20. That is still quite a bit faster than Husum. I could have run a bit quicker, but probably not more than a few minutes – so I still have to improve by 15 to 20 minutes – about 20 to 30 seconds per k quicker than in Husum. There will have to be some serious training to achieve this: long runs – my endurance already seems to be pretty good, but obviously endurance is the main thing for a marathon marathon pace tempo runs – the pace I ran in Husum felt comfortable, but running a 4:45/k to 4:30/k pace is a different story. I’ll have to do some more runs at that pace to be able to run this pace in a relaxed fashion weight – loosing a few more kgs will make things eas[...]

Kiel Halbmarathon: First 2011 Race


This Saturday, I ran my first 2011 race, the half marathon in Kiel.


The race

It was a nice sunny day, but it was still pretty cold and there was some westerly wind that made running into it a bit uncomfortable.


The first few k (with the wind) felt really easy. I briefly debated weather I should try to go a bit faster, but quickly managed to hold back a bit. For the first loop of 10.5k, I was running at the faster end of my goal pace of 4:30/k. If I managed to hold that pace, I’d be able to come in at under 1:35h.

However, during the second loop I was running into some issues and holding the pace was getting harder and harder. At the 15k mark, I decided to walk a few steps and get some Coke down for some extra energy. But that didn’t last too long, into the wind my pace dropped to around 4:45/k and I came in at just under 1:37 – a bit disappointed, still a pretty good result considering I was not willing to dig really deep for finish just a few seconds faster.

Looking forward

After all, my next race is just a scant week later, and it’s a full marathon! So this week is mainly easy sessions of 30 minute runs in order to recover and hopefully arrive at the start line rested and ready for a nice long run. My planned pace is about a full minute slower than for my half marathon, and I hope that this will enable me to run the full distance (save for a few steps at the aid stations). A 3:55 full marathon will be more than okay at this time of the year – if I manage that I’ll be getting more and more optimistic for my May marathon in Hamburg. For now, I’m feeling okay and hope that I manage to get some extra hours of sleep in during this week. It’ll be interesting to see how I’ll feel by Friday.

Upcoming Races: Kiel Halbmarathon and Husum Marathon


After almost two months of 2011, it is almost time for some more races.

The races I have lined up are:

  • Half Marathon in Kiel on February 26th
    The plan for this race is to have a good long tempo run, if possible a bit faster than the time I want to run my spring marathon. The dream goal for that would be a 3:15, which would require a 4:36/k average. A more reasonable but still ambitious goal is a 3:20 – a 4:44/k average. So I’ll see where I end up running, with a goal time of under 1:40, preferably under 1:37.
  • Marathon in Husum on March 5th
    This will be mainly a long run, around my new long run pace of 5:30, which would translate to a sub 4h marathon.

The tricky thing will be the recovery between the two races .. hopefully my half marathon effort will not be so high as to impede my ability to run a full marathon a week later. That is one reason why I’m not going to run Kiel all out – that would definitely take too much out of me.

Training in January and February

I’m quite happy with the way my training has turned out since X-mas. I’ve put in some decent volume at a good clip, and I’ve managed a few solid long runs. Having said that, I’m still short of any record levels and my longest run has been 25k – obviously too short for a really solid marathon race. But the marathon is just planned as a long run, and I should be in good shape if I manage to start easily and eat and drink decently. Still, it’ll be interesting to see how the race is going to turn out – there are quite a few things that might go wrong.

One thing that should be okay is the weather. Husum is quite famous for adverse weather conditions. Last year they’ve had quite a lot of fresh snow:


In some previous years they’ve had a big storm come through, but the predictions for this year look quite okay – cold, but not any snow. I’ll know better where I stand after the next two weeks! Hopefully I’ve got a good base to build on before starting my build-up for Hamburg at the end of May.

More on Triathlon Ratings


Just a quick note .. I've published the first results on my idea of a Triathlon Rating. In order to keep this separate from my training blog, I've set up a new blog at Please have a look there to find out who's the top rated athlete at the moment and which IMHawaii race was the slowest in the last years ...

Ending 2010 and Planning 2011


For me, a year ends well with a race .. so I had signed up for the 10.2k “Silvesterlauf” (New Years Eve Run) in Mölln. I had run there a few years ago (I think it was 2007), and it was a great way to end a year and start the new one. This year was no different, even if the weather was quite tricky. It had snowed a lot over Christmas (about 10 to 15 inches or 20 to 30 cm), so it was going to be a winter run. But it was getting a bit warmer towards race day, so the snow was getting soft and mushy – not exactly great running conditions. Nonetheless, the sun was out and I decided to make the best of it. Based on the conditions, it was clear that I couldn’t expect a great time, but I wanted to run a hard race and see what was possible. It turned out that not a lot was possible for me that day. As usually, I started a bit back and was overtaking some people after the start and in the first few k. When there was enough space to run, I tried to pick up the pace a bit, but with the bad footing I couldn’t get much faster without feeling really slippery. Towards the middle, I tried again to distance some people that I had overtaken earlier, but that backfired and I was even moving backwards in the field, not being able to hold the pace I was going. Also, the deep snow and slush was really getting to me. I finished in just under 49 minutes, probably the fastest that was possible for me on that day. Plans for 2011 I was going quite a bit back and forth to come up with a decent plan for 2011. An Ironman race is not in the cards right now. I was looking for a longer running race, but all potential races such as Rennsteig just didn’t work (Tina will only have a few open weekends, and we’ll leave on an early vacation this year). So I finally settled on the following: run Hamburg Marathon (end of May) From a logistics viewpoint, this is the simplest race for me to do: Pick up my race number after work on Thursday before the race, then take the train to Hamburg on Sunday morning. No need for a trip or a hotel. My goal for this year is to break my PR of 3:29 – possibly try to get a Boston qualifier time of sub 3:20 (which will be a stretch). I will have to do some decent training for this, but hopefully not quite as time consuming as training for an IM. run a fast half marathon in the training leading up to Hamburg I’ve been thinking for a while about a sub 1:30 half marathon, and if my training for Hamburg goes well, I should be able to get close to this barrier. Not sure which race fits best, I’m looking at a race in early April in Neumünster which may be a good fit. run another marathon earlier in the year (probably Kiel or Husum early March) In order to collect some more marathons and to make sure I’m focusing on longer training in the winter months, another marathon sounds like a good idea to me. Not even close to PR, just complete it under 4 hours and treat it as a really long training run. I should be able to recover relatively fast from it before the focused marathon training for Hamburg starts. loose weight and race light in Hamburg In the last years, I’ve always tried to get my weight down for my main race and haven’t had much success. My best was in 2007, when I raced at 85kg. The last years I was more around 88 to 89kg, which is where I am currently at. It would be good to get down to 85kg again, and I’m sure that this would make PR’ing a little easier. Also something to focus on until my first marathon for this season. Enough to do in the next few months .. hopefully I’ll manage to reach some goals – I’ll keep you posted! [...]

Triathlon Rating


Usually this blog is about my own training and races … this entry is a little bit different but still very much focused on trathlon. I’d be happy to receive feedback on my thoughts, please leave a comment!Macca’s IMTalk Interview I’m a few weeks back in listening to my podcasts, so it wasn’t until Friday that I listened to IMTalk’s podcast interview with IM Hawaii winner Chris McCormack. A great, long interview – if you haven’t listened to it yet, you can find it here. One of the things Macca mentioned started me thinking. I don’t have the exact words, but his point was that US races were easy to win but all the press was focusing on. Races in Europe (even the high profile ones) were much harder and also had a much bigger depth than the US races. One of his examples was Marino Vanhoenacker’s 7:52 in Austria – all this got in the US was a “Austria is a fast course” but not much more, so he wasn’t really on most people’s list for delivering a good performance in Hawaii. My idea at this point: There should be a way to rank the relative performances of athletes in different races. Rating in ChessWhen I was younger, I was quite a serious chess player. Chess has a great scoring system to compare the strengths of the different players, see this wikipedia article on the Elo Rating System (named after Prof. Arpard Elo, who developed the mathematical foundation). The score in chess in an artificial number, but it still was quite meaningful in comparing different players. Known Scoring Systems in Triathlon In triathlon, the only scoring systems I know are points based. In each race, there is a certain numbers of points to win, usually based on placing. Races are usually in a tiered system, i.e. better tiers dish out more points. The “official” systems I’m aware of is the Pro qualifying points race for IM Hawaii by WTC and the points system for determining the ITU olympic distance world champion. I’ve also found the site that does a scoring of long distance racers. I’m not aware of any official status of this site, it seems to be a portfolio site by Wim De Doncker, a relatively well known Belgian triathlete who’s now also working as a freelance web designer. It’s also not completely up to date. Problems with Points based systems A points based system is pretty easy to set up, but I see a number of drawbacks: Frequent racers have an advantage over athletes that start less often.A good example is Craig Alexander – his only IM race is Hawaii which does not give him a lot of chances to earn points. It is very hard for a point based system to "fairly” reflect the strength of the field.The points you get depend a lot on who also shows up on race day. A points system does not offer a way to compare different courses.An example for such a system would be golf’s course rating. Almost all golf courses have a “par” score of 72. A course rating of 71 shows that this course is two shots easier than a course with a rating of 73 (for more, see another wikipedia article). A point system is not predictive.Just because you have x points, it does not mean you should be able to race in y time. Ideas for a Triathlon Rating System Compared to chess, triathlon has a natural way of scoring: your finishing time! Therefore, a better ranking system would have to incorporate these main ideas: an athlete’s rating should be his finishing time – this would naturally lead to different ratings based on race distance (Olympic, Half IM, IM-distance) – also makes a rating automatically predictive courses should be rated as well – for example by comparing finishing times for the same athlete on different courses you could say that course x is by 15 minutes harder than course y comparing expected and actual results by the athlete’s in a specific race would also a[...]

Last under two hours .. or first over?


My winter race in Ratzeburg went really well. Depending on how you look at it, I just achieved my goal or missed it by just so much. But let’s start at the start … .. or the days before the race. I didn’t do much training in the week before the race. I was a bit worried that I’d be too rested, so I made sure to get in a little run on Saturday. I got all the little aches and niggles that are typical for a taper – a little cramping while swimming on Thursday, some weird aches in my knee, but nothing out of order. My wife and I took some time looking around for a new kitchen, so I didn’t have too much of a chance to chill out on Saturday. It had gotten really cold in the days, and there was a bit of snow on the ground. As there was not enough time for the ground to really freeze solid, there was a good chance for good racing conditions. In fact, the sun came out right before the 11am start, there was hardly any wind – perfect conditions for a winter race. I took my time to warm up and had to hurry a bit to make it to start in time. Towards the start line it was getting quite crowded, so I was a bit back and started my watch when I crossed the line. This difference would prove to be important later. As I wanted to run a fast race, I moved forward quickly and tried to get a decent position in the first wider section before the course enters the forest. There were still some slower people to overtake, but all in all I had open enough space to run the pace I wanted. I wanted to run around a 4:35 pace, and managed to hit that pretty well even in the hillier sections in the first 5k. However, I was running pretty hard, and my HR was a bit higher than what I thought would be possible for a 26k race. But I wanted to give it a try in order to have a shot at running under 2 hours. Once the first hills were over, I managed to run an even pace right where I wanted to run at. I even managed to get a few calories down, and it seemed to have a good effect on me. I was really worried that I would not be able to hold that pace until the end, but wanted to hold on as long as possible. Looking back, this is pretty much how you want to run a half marathon – run just another 1k at goal pace until you reach the finish line. My split at 13k was just a bit over 59 minutes, so if I managed to hold my pace 2 hours should be possible. But that was a big “if”. Around the 18k mark, I was running into problems. Some more calories helped for a bit, but the effect wore off pretty soon and I was moving backwards in the field. I had made some good time and hoped that I had a big enough buffer for the final hills. I fell a bit apart when I hit the hills and walked on the steeper sections to preserve my last energy. It was going to be really close. I knew the last k would be downhill and probably a good place to make up some more time, but I was running on fumes. Lots of grunting on the downhills (legs hurting!) and going as fast as possible – by my watch I would just make it under two hours. When I entered the finish chute and saw the official race clock, I knew I was right on the edge. The last seconds ticked down, and I still wasn’t home. When I finally made it, the official clock was at 2:00:03, but my own watch (remember I started it a bit later when crossing the start line?) said it was 1:59:55. So, depending on how you want to see things, I was either the last one under 2 hours – or the first one over it. Regardless, this is a very big PR for the course – around 10 minutes faster than my previous best. True, I put a much bigger focus on this race than in previous years when I was just getting back into training after my fall break in October. But the time was still much better than what I thought I might be able to do and I’m really pumped about it. I thought that running really fast requires more [...]

One week to go before my Winter Race in Ratzeburg


By now it is less than week before my big winter race, a 26k trail run around the lake at Ratzeburg (Infos at


My training has been going okay. I managed to do a few longer runs (20k, 29k) and a nice long tempo run (14k of marathon pace within a 20k run), but my overall training volume has not been that high, most of the weeks were around 35 to 40k. Overall, I think I made a lot of progress (and I haven’t been sick), but still not quite the training I wanted to do.


The big thing that has changed was my weight. After my wife’s birthday, we went on a pretty strict diet. I tried to cut back on carbs and eat as much fruit and veggies as possible. This worked really well, I lost a lot of weight – went down from almost 92kg to under 88kg within four weeks!. So now I am at the lowest I’ve probably been since late 2007 and I hope to get down even more within the next few weeks (tricky around Christmas) and months. I felt okay on my runs, and was really surprised with my first swim since more than a month which went really good even in the faster parts.


I’m not really sure of what is possible in Ratzeburg – basically, that is what makes racing fun. I was hoping to be able to go under 2 hours (which would be a 4:35/k average pace), but I’m not sure that that is a pace I’m able to run on the tough Ratzeburg course. I’m pretty sure that I can PR the course (2:09 something, just under 5 min/k pace), and I think I should be able to get at least under 2:05 (4:47 pace). I’m really looking forward to how fast I can go.

I just hope that the weather will not turn out to be a deciding factor. We’ve had pretty miserable weather with lots of rain and wind in the last days – in my nearby forest most trails are impassable. After my half marathon in Alstertal I’m looking forward to another muddy trail run (especially in the ups and downs in Ratzeburg). It’s supposed to get colder in the next days and usually this means it’ll get a bit dryer. I hope that this will help to have good racing conditions – but as this is one thing I don’t have any influence in, it’s not worthwhile to spend too much energy thinking about it. I just have to have the gloves available if it turns really cold.

Fall Races


I haven’t updated my blog for a while,so this will be an update on my training and races since Mid-September. Alstertal Half-Marathon (September 26th) I managed to get some regular training in, but did not do any long runs (longest run was about 1h 15min). So obviously, I could not expect that much from this race. I was hoping to get close to my best time on that pretty hilly course which was just under 1h40. The day of the race the weather was pretty horrible. It was raining hard and the course which is run on walking trails along the river Alster, was a muddy mess. It wasn’t too cold (so running in shorts was still okay), but you were drenched as soon as you went outside and your legs were muddy at the 1k mark. The race itself went okay. I was running around the pace required to run under 1h40, but in the second half of the race I just couldn’t find the extra 1% of pace that I would have needed. Still, I was happy with my 1:40:44. I made sure to get on warm clothes afterwards and got home quickly. Lübeck Citylauf (11.3k – October 10th) I was pretty spent after the race. I managed to do some easy training, but within a week I had a bit of a flu, felt horrible and spent some days in bed to recover. By Friday before the Citylauf I felt okay enough to go on a very easy 5k run which didn’t feel all too good. I also hurt my knee again – very lightly this time, but I still could feel it when walking. But as my cousin Kai was to run this race as a prep for his upcoming first half-marathon race, I wanted to go to the race and warm up with him. I felt okay then, so I decided to run the race but start easy and then see how the race progressed. I made sure to start at the back of the field and then make my way forward. I still felt my knee a little bit, but I wasn’t that bad and got better after a while. I managed to pick up my pace and was running really good considering that I spent a few days in bed not too long ago. Towards the end I was running 4:30 pace and was overtaking people all the time. I ran a whole lot slower than last year (about 4 minutes), but considering I was in bed just a few days ago, I was really happy with a solid run. Lübeck Half-Marathon (October 24th) After the Citylauf, it was two more weeks to the Half-Marathon. I wanted to do one longer tempo session with my cousin Kai to get him ready for his first Half. In order to allow him some recovery time before then, we had decided on Wednesday for the run. First, we did some easy 8k with his wife to warm up and get some k’s into the legs. Then, we did another 10k that also included 4k at his Half-Marathon pace, a little recovery and then another 1k at Half-Marathon and 500m at a little faster pace. I felt really good the whole time and Kai was happy that he was able to complete this session without too much trouble. I also did another 1h30 trail run, but that was an easier run just to be on my feet for a longer time and not trash myself before the race. The day of the race, we had some bad weather again. But as the race would be run on streets, it at least wouldn’t be muddy. We watched the start of the Marathon (30 minutes before us) in pouring rain. We then went on to take off our warm-up clothes, had a short discussion weather to run in short or not and dropped off our bags when the rain stopped. It started again right after we had finished our races, but during the race it was dry and great to run. The story of my race is pretty much the same as for Alstertal. I had an ambitious goal of running a similar time as last year, I was doing quite well for the first half, but when I would have had to step it up, I just couldn’t. I wanted to run close to 1:35, and ended up running a 1:37:58. Not off by a lot, not a catastrophic race – but still not what I was [...]

Getting back up to speed


Last Wednesday, I did my first interval session since a long time – must have been more than half a year or so.  Photo of a Roadrunner by Nick Chill from flickr It was not an all out session as I did the run with my cousin Kai who decided to try to run his first half marathon at the end of October and asked me for some advice. He had run the Stadtlauf in Bad Oldesloe a few weeks ago, so I had a recent 10k time to work with. He had run about 48 minutes for a pretty accurate course, so I looked up the corresponding half marathon (about 1:50) and marathon times (about 4 hours). Of course, these times would require a good, proper training for the events to be realistic. As this would be his first half marathon, it may be a bit aggressive, but he already indicated that he would be happy with a time of under 2 hours which should be totally realistic if he does some solid training the next few weeks. As his biggest problem is pace control (he ran a bit too fast for the first loop in Bad Oldesloe), I’ve put together a session for him to teach some pace control. We did a 13k run that included 3 time 3k (with some easy running in between). Each of these 3k blocks would consist of 1k at marathon pace (about 5:40/k), 1k at half marathon pace (5:10 to 5:15/k) and 1k at 10k pace (about 4:50 or a bit faster). In addition to be fairly long, if the paces are too quick, you will notice in the last repeat. Of course, this session is almost impossible to do without a GPS, but my Garmin 405 made it easy to hit the proper paces. For my own goals, these paces are about one step too low (i.e. the marathon pace would be my long run pace, his halfmarathon pace would be my marathon pace and the 10k pace would be my half marathon pace). Still, this would be the longest run for me since my IM, and also (apart from the 10k race) the first quicker session for ages. Everything went really well. It was a bit rainy during the day but when we ran we even had a bit of sunshine. It was warm enough to run in shorts, but a stiff wind required a long sleeve. When we started, we still managed to talk a bit, but only exchanged some grunts during the intervals. With some adjustments by the Garmin, we hit the paces almost perfectly. The second 10k section was quite hard, but that was mainly due to it being uphill and into a strong headwind. We even managed to run the last 10k in 4:38 without going all out. We were both really happy with the session. Kai has a much better understanding of what his half marathon pace feels like, and I didn’t have a problem hitting the paces and still having enough air to offer him some encouragement. I guess we’ll do this session again, and maybe also share a longer run before the half marathon. I’ve also lined up some races for the rest of the year. While my main goal remains to loose some weight, I’m registered for the Alstertal half marathon, Lübeck Citylauf and the Lübeck Half marathon – all races I managed to do last year (and also write some short blog posts about it). If all goes well, I’ll try to run a fast Adventslauf in Ratzeburg – a race I couldn’t do last year because I hurt my knee. Hopefully, my preparation will work better this year! [...]

Easing back into Racing


Now that I’m back from vacation and starting back into some more serious running, I’m also starting to get back into some C-races. My “comeback” race was the 10k Stadtlauf (city run) in Bad Oldesloe, the town I was born at and that I still live close-by.

Last year, I was running another race just a short drive away at about the same time after my vacation as this year [insert link]. But then I didn’t have a good idea of where I stood, so I ran into severe problems in the second half after running the first part a bit too hard.

As the race in Bad Oldesloe was a three-loop course, I was hoping to avoid overpacing. But as there would be some family and friends there, it would also be difficult to properly hold back. (Last year’s race was run pretty much in anonymity as the people I knew there would be way in front of me and no friends cheering on.) I was trying to get everyone’s expectations down so there would be no confusion. In fact, I was saying that running under 50 minutes would be okay – each loop at around 16:30 (but was thinking that I should be able to run under 48 minutes – each loop at around 16 minutes). My cousin was also going to run in the race, and he would be running in the same general time range. So there might be someone to help push in the last loop …

The weather on the day was quite good for running. It was overcast and windy, but the rain that we had the days before had stopped. Not too hot, not too cold – pretty ideal for a 10k race. As the race was on Saturday afternoon, I was able to sleep in and avoid the usual race morning breakfast and hurrying to get ready in time. I took my time to warm up a bit, say hello to friends and family and lined up at the very back of the pack.

After the start, I slowly started to overtake a few people and tried to find a comfortable rhythm. It’s a bit tricky to judge the pace as there is a bit of up and down on the course, but I settled into a sub 5 minutes per k pace which didn’t feel too bad. I completed the first loop in about 15:30 and thought that I could hold that pace for the rest of the race. I was still overtaking people, and in the middle of the second loop I was reeling in my cousin (who went out too fast – a common mistake for him). I completed the second lop in another rough 15:30 and still feeling quite okay.

In the third loop I was working quite hard, but all I managed was to hold my pace for another 15:30ish loop and a 10k time of 46:36. I tried to get my speed up in the last k and was overtaking some more people, but didn’t have enough power to increase my pace. I had run a pretty even race and managed to be almost two minutes quicker than my cousin – and basically within just a little more than one loop.

I am quite happy with my race. I ran an okay time with a pretty even race and didn’t hit any particularly rough spots. For a first race, it was all you can ask for. Now I have a few weeks to train before my next race, a half marathon. Time to do some longer sessions …

Back from vacation


My wife and I have just returned from our glorious summer vacation, having spent four weeks in California and Nevada:(image) goofing around near Lake Tahoe

We really enjoyed our time, but now it’s back to work!

For me, this is also the start of a new “season”. I’ll probably build up for the 26k Ratzeburg Adventslauf at the end of November. I tried that last year, but hurting my knee and thigh stopped that. Maybe this year I manage to get all the way through.

But six weeks after IM Germany and almost no training during that time, my goals are a bit more modest at the start:

  • get my weight under control again
    My weight was much too high for the last two to three years to achieve my goals, and a nice, relaxed vacation didn’t help either. I’m up to 92kg by now, and I’ve put up a goal of loosing 10% of my body weight until next summer (i.e. go down to 83kg). My wife and have already started our diet.
  • get back to regular training
    After six weeks of “off-season” (even if it was the middle of summer), I just want to get back to regularly working out again. Sport/intensity is not important right now, but I’m aiming to get to at least 5 times per week of at least 30 minutes of sports. Once I’m there (and lost some weight), I can then figure out some more performance oriented goals for the rest of the year.
  • figure out if my knee is okay
    My knee has continued to act up once in a while. There is a sharp pain, then some swelling which takes a couple of days to subside. Not much of a hindrance really, but if it happens again and again I will have to see a doctor to figure out what I can do about it. I’m pretty sure it’s not a muscle issue, probably more a little meniscus problem, so for now I’m confident I’m not putting myself at risk to just go on with my training.

For the rest of the year and also for next year, I’m not sure what A-race I’m going to pick. Initially, we thought we would have an exchange student for a year, but she bailed on us and picked another family to stay at. We may get someone else around October, but for now we don’t know. I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing Vätternrundan again (300k bike “race” in Sweden), but other than that there is nothing fixed on my schedule. But it’s probably already too late for an IM-distance race (Frankfurt and Roth have sold out in a few days), so maybe I’ll pick a running race (e.g. Hamburg marathon with a performance goal?) or just have an easier year and then figure something out for 2012. Still too early to make these decision, I’ll better get started with the second half of 2010!

Race Report IM Germany


On July 4th, 2010, I raced my fourth IM-distance race. Even if things did not quite go as hoped for, it was still a great experience. Race week For my last race, the week before the race was hectic and stressful, and I entered the race quite frazzled. Physically, I might have been a bit rested, but mentally I was exhausted. This time, I tried to take as much rest as possible. I had to finish some things for work, and I made sure to have enough time for that to finish on Wednesday. This allowed me to take Thursday and Friday off, sleep in, relax and pack my things. It would be getting really hot for the weekend, but I was able to put in a last long wetsuit swim on Thursday. As my wife had to teach on Friday, we wouldn’t be able to drive down to Frankfurt before Friday and I would miss the race briefing. I knew a friend of mine would also be racing, so I phoned him with some questions I still had about the race. We talked them over and I was able to firm up my plans. Also, on Friday morning I had a chance to make another phone-call with Mitch from Counterpart Coaching on how to race in the heat. I was anxious, but looking forward to the race. The five hour drive down to Frankfurt went well, even with all the weekend traffic. We were staying with some relatives of mine, and they went out of their way to help me get ready for the race. Day before the race We slept in until 8am, had some breakfast with the family and then went into the town to collect the race package. It was blazing hot, and just walking a bit around town and the exhibition was exhausting, so we made sure to have some extra water. We went back to the family and I packed my bags before lunch. The family had prepared a nice pasta lunch so my carbo-loading went really great. After that, I finished packing and we drove out to the bike check-in at the swim venue at Langener Waldsee, about a 30 minute drive. Again, the sun was out in full force and the temperature was in the mid-90s – very hot for a German summer. We had a 15 minute walk from the car to registration in the sun, and I had to wait another 15 minute in line at check-in. Tina got back to the car as soon as she could, but I had to endure for a bit longer. Check-in was uneventful – after all it was my fourth long-distance race and I had made sure to read all provided information. The swim would be a non-wetsuit swim (official water temperature on race day was 25.7 °C, about 80°F). We also had to drop off the run bag – I was a bit worried as I had some water in my FuelBelt in there and hoped it would not get too hot by the time I picked it up in T2 on the next day. After that, I hurried back to the car but still missed the start of the Soccer World Cup match Germany vs. Argentina and the first German goal. I was drinking water all the time, but I still felt the heat. We then went for a quick visit with an old friend, watched the second half of the World Cup match and a chance to drink a lot more water. However, by the time we went back home, I had a bit of a headache and had some Coke to fix it. A quick dinner, and I was in bed by 9:30pm. Race morning Tina and I slept quite well, some clouds had moved in and it had cooled down a bit. I got up at 3:30am. My relative Doris helped me prepare my big race breakfast (two rolls with nutella and almond butter, three egg omelette, coffee, orange juice and a lot more water). I mixed my bottles and was ready to leave by 5:20. My wife drove me out to the swim start and dropped me off. Logistically it is quite tricky to get back from Langener Waldsee to Frankfurt, so Tina decided to skip the swim, have a breakfast with our family and then head into Frankfurt[...]

Race Plan Frankfurt


A few days before the race, it is time to put my race plan into writing. Even though I have a pretty clear plan in my head, writing it down always helps. Photo taken from the finish line webcam at General I know that I do not have the fitness I would like to have. Therefore, any dreams of dramatic improvements can be put to rest (unless I want a spectacular detonation during the run). I will have to execute really well if I want to have a decent run. However, if I manage to do that, I believe that I can end up close to my current PR of 11h58. There are a number of things that lead to me to be a bit skeptic. I haven’t done enough long sessions, and my weight is about 6 pounds over were I want to be. Also, it’s probably going to be quite hot for the race which will make the race even harder for me. Swim I haven’t done much swimming, so I have no idea what my swim time is going to end up. As long as I focus on technique and swimming relaxed, I should end up okay even if my longest swim session was just about 2.5k. The wetsuit swim in Hannover felt pretty good, and I hope it’s not going to be too hot to swim in a wetsuit. [Update: It’s currently very hot and the water temperature is just short of not allowing wetsuits. By race day, we’ll probably be over it – so it looks like a non-wetsuit swim.] I’m guessing that I’ll swim around 1h15, and I’m fine as long as I swim under 1h20. But whatever, a few extra minutes on the swim won’t hurt me much. I’ll take transition pretty easy, too – just put on my helmet and then grab the bike with shoes and all the rest of my stuff (glasses, gloves and arm warmers if it is cold in the morning). I should be on the bike somewhere between 1h20 and 1h30. Bike The key for the bike will be to set up a good run – this requires an “easy” bike. It will be quite hard to keep this thought in mind for the 6h30 or so that the bike will take, especially with my flashy new bike and race wheels. This year, the bike course will be a bit longer than usual – some construction will add an extra 5k to the bike, about 10 minutes at my speed. At my current fitness, I think that I can manage an average speed between 28.5 and 29 km/h.- this would give a bike split of 6h30 to 6h22. When I told my friends about this goal time, they thought I was low-balling, but I think anything faster would be bad for my run split. The numbers to arrive at this time are HR under 120, and wattage about 125w. (I know that number is probably low, but my Ergomo is off – which doesn’t really matter, I want to ride as even as possible, and absolute numbers are not important for that.) I hope to be off the bike at under 8 hours – probably around the time that the first pros will have finished. As they start 15 minutes before the age groupers, it might be a goal of finishing the bike before the first pro finishes the race, but that would require a 7h45 and that’s probably a bit fast for me. As important as not spending too much energy on the bike is making sure I eat and drink enough. For eating, I’m aiming for 250 to 300 cal on the bike, which is about one bar per hour, the occasional banana and then some calories from the Powerbar electrolyte drink they’re handing out on the course. As it’s going to be really hot, it will be important to drink enough and cool myself down with water over the head. I hope I’ll be able to manage things better than at Hannover when I was overheated when I came off the bike and had a pretty bad run. Run Once I get off the bike, change and start the run, it’ll be interesting to see if I manage to keep [...]

Building confidence with some better training sessions


After my not-so-good race in Hannover, I’ve tried to do some confidence building sessions. So far, it has worked fine. (Picture found on Deadra’s blog.) The best session I have done in a long time was last weekend’s long brick session. As per Mitch’s suggestion, I did some pretty long sessions around my half-IM in Hannover – the week before I did a 3 hour run, and for the week after he suggested a long brick. As I am a bit time constrained, the instruction was to run for about 90 minutes after a bike ride – as long as my time allows. I was still a bit tired and spent after the Hannover race and I knew that my work week was going to be a bit hectic as well. So I capped my bike ride at 2 hours. I went a bit easier than IM intensity, but I still had some very solid sections in there. The weather was a bit cold so I had arm and leg warmers on and made sure I was eating and drinking enough. It’s funny how a 2 hour ride seems to be quite solid at the start of the season, but goes over in a flash when you’re almost ready for a race. Also, my mind was already on the run. I was hoping for a much better run than in my half-IM where every step was hard work. After a quick change of clothes, the first steps of the run felt strange as usual, but I quickly loosened up, had a good “bio-break” and really felt okay. I wasn’t hot at all (in fact, I had even put on a long shirt), I was able to eat and drink as planned and just felt great. My HR quickly got down to where I wanted it (under 125 beats per minute), and it even took some effort not to slow down and have the HR drop further. Time flew by, and I was feeling great the whole way. I didn’t manage to run for 90 minutes – my pace was so quick that I had run the planned course after 1h26m. In Hannover, I wasn’t able to run any quicker than a 6 min/k pace even when working hard, now I was running around 5:20/k without any effort at all. How is that possible? Well, here are some ideas: The bike before the run was quite easy compared to Hannover. I wasn’t overheated, so everything just clicked: HR, eating, drinking, being relaxed, pace. I was better rested than before the race – I had made sure to get some extra sleep during the week to recover from the race. For my IM in Frankfurt, this means that I have to make sure that I start the race well rested and have to manage to complete the bike race within myself – not too hard, and certainly avoid getting hot. This includes bike intensity, but also measures such as making sure to put on sun screen so I don’t get another sunburn, drink a little more than in Hannover (so I start peeing before the half-way mark) and relax a bit on the last bike section before T2. I also hope that it’s not going to be too hot in Frankfurt – but as I don’t have any influence on that it’s better to come up with a good plan if it ends up being hot. But at least I know now that I can have a decent run in Frankfurt if I manage to execute smartly. At least I can influence that … [...]

Hannover “Mitteldistanz” 1/2 IM Race


This Sunday, I was racing my first triathlon in a long time, the 1/2 Ironman distance race in Hannover (called Mitteldistanz or middle distance in Germany). I’m not quite sure what to make of my performance, but first let’s have a look at the race. Before the race Friday and Saturday I made sure that my bike was in working order. As I had taken the plunge and splurged on new race wheels (a pair of used but as good as new Zipp 404s), there was some scrambling around to make sure I had the right tubes with long enough valves. The week had been pretty stressful, and I was glad I had the chance for a little nap at noon on Saturday. Still, I was probably not very rested, even if my training volume was pretty low in the week leading up to the race. On Sunday, we drove for two hours to Hannover. It was pretty close to the end of the bike drop off, but I preferred to get some more sleep and a big breakfast in. Once I get settled in the big transition area, I had enough time to put on my race clothes and warm up a bit for the swim. It was going to be the first really hot day of the year, so I made sure I had enough water to drink. Swim Up to a week before the race, it was pretty cold and there were some worries that the swim would have to be canceled. The week of the race it was quite warm, though, and with a wetsuit it wasn’t cold at all. I got into the water maybe 10 minutes before the start of my wave, so I still had some time to hitch the wetsuit up after the initial contact with the water. I was ready and hoped for a good day! The swim itself was pretty uneventful. It was in a canal which meant that it would be 1k up the canal, turn around a buoy and then 1k back. The initial mayhem cleared up pretty fast, and I was swimming pretty much by myself. At the turnaround I had a quick look at my watch and was very happy to see a time of just over 17 minutes. I managed to stay focused on my stroke and and felt pretty good the whole time. The whole swim was over after 35 minutes. With about 5 minutes under my estimated time the swim must have been short. :-) An easy run up to the transition, put on the help and grab my bike. Bike Once on the bike, I had problems to get my HR down. I wanted to get under 120, but a combination of heat, mental lapse and people overtaking me prevented that. My wattage was in the goal range of 140, but the HR stayed just under 130. After a while, I just figured that the excitement of the race had increased my HR, and I decided to stick with the wattage. At the end of the first loop, I was quite happy – AP at 138w, NP at 147 (so I was riding quite even), but a speed of 31,3 and HR at 130. As had happened the last time I did this race two years ago, wattage and the other data didn’t quite match. I figure that the Ergomo has some problems with the heat we were having and giving me low numbers. But so far, I hadn’t really dug myself a hole, but it was clear that I shouldn’t really increase my effort in the second and third loop. By this time, I was pretty much riding with the same people – usually getting dropped on the uphills, and then catching people again on the downhills (even riding by wattage does that). On the second and third lap, I kept things pretty much the same. I still dropped wattage a bit towards the end (133AP/143NP for the whole ride), and it was getting really hot. I’m not sure if I was drinking enough, I didn’t pee at all this time during the ride. But I had eaten quite well and was hoping for a good run. Total ride time: 2 h 48 min 12 secs Run After dropping off my bike, I changed into run clo[...]

Packed for my first tri this season


Just a quick post after packing my stuff for tomorrow and being almost ready for bed …

Tomorrow, I’ll race my first tri this season. (In fact it is my first triathlon after the Ostseeman in 2008.) It is a half Ironman distance race in Hannover ( I’ve done this race a few times before, but they’ve changed things around a bit (different layout for the swim, new shorter bike loop, new longer run loop), so I don’t really know what to expect. Also, with my past training I know I won’t be able to rip the course like I did in 2007 when I went really fast and almost everything clicked. (If I remember correctly, I was a bit disappointed because I did not manage to run under 1h40. Not a chance tomorrow!)

I’ve tried to come up with some time plan for my wife, but I know it’s pretty much a shot in the dark. My main goal is to be able to have a decent run the last 10k. (I’ve struggled with my run the last time I did the race in 2008 and had to walk the second half of the run leg.) As it’s going to be a hot day tomorrow (the first summer days have just arrived) with temperatures in the 80s and the start of the race around noon, I know I have to be really careful on the bike. This has led to the following plan, mixing IM and faster speeds:

  • 2k Swim: 40 Minutes (no idea where I’ll end up ;-)
  • 90k Bike: 3 laps of 30k each (2h53, goal: sub 2h55, if everything goes great sub 2h50)
    • Lap 1: ~ IM (140W, <120HR, 29km/h): 1h02
    • Lap 2: a little faster (150W, <130HR, 31 km/h) 58 Minutes
    • Lap 3: ~ 1/2 IM (160W, < 140HR, 34 km/h) 53 Minutes
  • 21.1 Run: 2 laps of 10,6k each (1h53, goal: sub 1h55, if everything goes great sub 1h50)
    • Lap 1 to 5k: ~IM (<130HR, a little faster than 6 min/k) 30 minutes
    • Lap 1 rest: a little faster (<135HR, 5:30 min/k) 31 minutes
      (goal: first loop in under 1:00h)
    • Lap2 if feeling okay: ~ 1/2 IM (HR whatever ~ 5 min/k) 53 minutes

Adding the transitions in (5 minutes for T1 and T2?) gives a total of about 5h35, so I’ll try to get under 5h30. Even if I have a great race I don’t see me going any faster than a 5h20.

But whatever happens tomorrow, I have to keep my goal of a decent second half of the run in my mind. If I manage to pick up the pace then, this race will have been a success. Slowly starting to get nervous, hope I’ll be able to sleep …

Long Run around Ratzeburger See


One of the standard races in the winter in the 26k run around the Ratzeburger See (a large lake adjacent to the town of Ratzeburg), usually held on the first Sunday in December. I’ve posted about this race in the past [include link]. This winter, I was training to do the race, but then got an injury and had to pull out of the race. One thing that has been on my list since then was to do the run as a long training run. I finally got around to do it! After loading my FuelBelt with drink, food and my iPhone (for music and a camera), I did the short 25 min drive from my home to a parking lot at the North tip of the lake. (The race starts in Ratzeburg at the South tip, but it was easier to do the run from the North.) Here’s a Google Earth screenshot: After a short jog through the forest, I reached the lake near a little marina: On the Eastern side, the dirt trail runs pretty close to the lake, usually in a nice shade from some bushes. Even though it had rained a bit in the last days, the trail was not too muddy and great to run on. After about 9k the trail moves a bit away from the lake and into some hillier  terrain: For the race, this is the last harder section – you had better saved some power for this! But on my run, I had just warmed up and was able to cruise them quite comfortably. After 13k, you come to the old town of Ratzeburg that is sitting on a little dam between two lakes. After the short section through the town, there are some beautiful views on the lake and the dome: The eastern side of the lake was almost completely part of East Germany. Before 1989, it was impossible to run around the lake (in fact the race was started as a celebration of the border opening up). By now, you have to know where the border was to spot the location of the fences – pretty scary stuff back then. It never fails to be thankful for the peaceful events that took place in 1989 that allowed Germany to re-unify. Even if it’s tricky to pick the exact location of the borderline, you can still tell that you are in East Germany – the whole are is much more rural, and the villages just have a different feel to it, even though a lot of old houses have been beautifully rebuilt. Also, the eastern side of the lake is much hillier. Probably because of that the trail moves at times away from the lake but you are always running in almost no traffic except for the occasional biker or walker. I was going through my water and my ShotBlocks (have I mentioned that I hate gels?), and was making good progress. I was taking an occasional walk break on some steeper hills, but my legs felt okay. After 27k and almost exactly 2h30 of running, I was back at the parking place where I left my car: I was very happy with this run. It was very beautiful (the pictures can’t really capture it), and my legs felt good all the way. Now if only the race feels that good … [...]

First Key Bike Session


As preparation for my Ironman races, I like to do the following key session: Easy warm up for about 30 minutes, then 3*50k at increasing effort: - first one slightly easier than IM effort - second one at IM effort - third one slightly faster than IM effort then another easy 30 minutes back home and a little transition run Between the hard parts there is just a short break to pee and load up on nutrition. I usually bring a little backpack so I don’t have to carry everything with me – everything should be as close to racing as possible, so taking all the stuff that’s needed for such a long session would be quite bulky. The idea of this session (inspired by some of Gordo’s suggestions) is to dial in your IM effort. If you manage to do the third one faster than IM effort and still be able to have a decent T-Run, you should be fine. But if you go out too hard or not eat/drink enough, you’ll notice it pretty soon. I usually try to get two of these sessions in when preparing for an IM, but often something comes up (bad weather, scheduling conflicts, etc.) and I usually manage to make just one in preparing for an IM. Even with our new puppy, I cleared two days on my calendar for solely doing these sessions. When I get the sessions done, it builds a lot of confidence, and even if you notice that your pacing was too quick, at least you’ll learn a lot. First Loop I was shooting for 140/150/160w of average power, trying to ride pretty even (goal VI well under 1.1). HR should be 110/115/120 or so. I hoped that would result in average speeds of 28/29/30 km/h. Once I got going after my big breakfast (1000cal as I would on race morning!), I felt really good. I was going pretty relaxed, eating and drinking a lot, but still going pretty quick. Here are the numbers: average power 140w normalized power 152w VI 1.08 HR 113 average speed 29.1 km/h Apart from HR, this was going really well, and I hoped to build on that – but I started to get a bit anxious at going over 30 km/h for the last loop. But whatever, a quick reloading, then it was on to Second Loop I was continuing to eat, but it wasn’t that hot, so I wasn’t really thirsty, but I still had to stop for a quick pee in the middle of the loop. Managed to lift the effort, but got more anxious about the third loop – it was going to be hard!! The numbers look really great, right where I wanted them to be: average power 151w normalized power 161w VI 1.07 HR 120 average speed 30.1 km/h Everything was going well, and I had the “proper nervousness” for the third loop. But when I got back to where I left my backpack, some “friendly neighbor” had decided that a lone backpack in the forest was suspicious and tried to “save” it. Bummer – nothing more to eat and drink (plus some spare clothes were gone). All I had left was one clif bar and nothing to drink .. what to do? Third Loop So I rode five minutes back to a village where I had seen some kids playing near a house. I asked them for some water, so at least I had one full bottle and one bar for the third loop. Ready to give it a shot! I tried to go even harder than on the second loop, and managed to pick up the effort a bit. But it felt pretty strained, and after half the loop was done, I felt that my strength was gone. I tried to keep up the effort, but it was obvious that my power numbers were dropping rapidly. Here are the numbers (full loop and numbers for the two halves): [...]

Puppy and Training don’t mix very well


There’s been a big change in our household: We’ve added a new family member, a little Spaniel we’re calling Snoopy:(image) We got him on April 2nd, and our lives have never been the same. We’ve been dog-sitting when my in-laws were on vacation, but a puppy is a different story – the time demands are a lot higher than with a grown up dog.

So training has become more difficult and requires a bit more planning and understanding by my wife. There have been moments where I thought that it’s next to impossible to train for an Ironman while raising Snoopy. (And of course Snoopy is the first priority now! Both spending time with him and also making sure my wife has some time for herself.) But things have started to settle down a bit, and I’ve decided to do what I can and see where that leads me. Over the last few days I managed a longer run (19k at a reasonable pace) and a bit of cycling (although not nearly as much as I would have liked). The longer bike rides look really tricky for now, but again, I’ll just see what’s possible.

This last weekend it has gotten a bit colder and rainy again, which resulted in horrible riding conditions – muddy, wet streets (as the farmers were out working on their fields) resulted in a very dirty bike. So in addition to playing with Snoopy, I also have to clean my bike now! So I thin I’ll try to get another long run in this week (hopefully 24k or so) and see if my bike magically cleans itself …

Soso 10k race


On Sunday, I ran a shorter race, a 10k close to where I live, the Travelauf in Bad Oldesloe.


Originally I had planned to run the 29k Hochbrückenlauf (see my race report from last year), but family obligations didn’t give me enough time, and I had to re-plan. The way my legs felt after the training camp, it was probably better that way, I would have had to add some more running during my week in Mallorca in order to be in shape for a longer running race.

As this was also the weekend that daylight savings time started here in Germany, I had some trouble getting up in time and I was a bit late. After race number pick-up, a much needed toilet stop and a short warm-up run, I barely had enough time to make it to the start line in time.

I was hoping to run about 42 minutes which would have required a 4:15 or quicker pace. During the first three k’s I was seeing splits hovering just under 4:30/k, so it didn’t seem quite possible. At the turn-around I had a time of about 22:20, so my goal was impossible to make. Bummer – I was running hard, my HR was right around 155, and I didn’t feel I could run much quicker.

Nonetheless, I tried to pick up the pace, my HR moved into the 160s, and I started to pick up some people. Some fought back, but in the end I just passed a whole lot of people. I even managed to run up to some of the younger guys from my club, and ran by them with about one k to go. (“Where did you suddenly come from?” they asked after the race.) I didn’t have much left at this point, and the last steep downhill hurt a lot, but I managed to reach the finish in 43.37.

I certainly didn’t have the speed I would have liked, but that is not so important this year. I’m happy with the way I stayed mentally strong and pushed right to the finish. This is certainly something I’m happy with and that I can take with me to IM Germany. If I manage to hold the run together like this (even at the slower speed, but with the much longer duration), I’m going to have a great race.

Now I “only” have to put in the training for a long race …

Great training camp finished


I’m writing this as I’m sitting in the Airport waiting for my flight to leave (delayed, of course). I’m pretty cooked after an easier day and another two hard training days. I’m really looking forward to some rest (i.e. work and no big training) now! On Wednesday, the training camp had an official rest day. I took the chance to get a longer (but pretty easy) run to the light house in. Most of the run was along the beach and the waterfront, and then a bit up towards the cliffs and the lighthouse (which required about 10 minutes of pretty steep uphill running). Great views from up there along the coast line – too bad I didn’t bring my camera. But here’s a picture from Horacio I found on Flickr: After that it was just an easy 30 minute swim, some lying in the sun taking a nap, and more nice eating. Thursday morning I got another swim in. 60 minutes with some faster/longer sets, all in all not feeling too bad. I had signed up for a “shorter” training ride today as it included some hill repeats. It was an easy 45 minutes out towards a nice hill – some switchbacks (about 10 minutes of uphill) and again great views from the top. Then we went back down the other side towards the old monastery Betlem and back – repeat twice for four uphill intervals. The group then decided for a longer loop back, so I ended up with another 95k session. I thought of doing another core session, but I cancelled that in favor of a nap – as I had signed up for the big stage on the next day! Friday morning the weather promised to be great for the long ride. It started with a 7.15 meeting to put the bikes in a van and then a quick breakfast. At 7.45 we boarded the bus to be shipped across the island. After 90 minutes we were dumped in Port Andratx to start the 170k ride back to the hotel. A quick picture of the group before the start and then we left. Pretty soon the hills and mountains started and I had to work pretty hard. After a short stop to make sure everyone was still with the group after the initial tricky route through the town. The faster people split off the front. Unfortunately, after the next mountain we re-joined them after one of them crashed on the downhill (probably a broken collarbone). Again, some more delay in order to make sure that the rider would be brought to a hospital. Good thing that there were no more issues after that! After three hours of up and down riding we were at the base of the Puig Major, the biggest climb of the tour – almost 14k with an average grade of 7%, about 800m of climbing. Everyone was supposed to ride the climb at his or her own pace. Our guide made sure we were all okay and had enough to drink and eat, and then went on his own little training session. Here’s a view from about half way up back to Soller where the climb started: Except for this short photo stop, I went at a pretty constant heart rate and didn’t loose too much time on the rest of the group. In fact, towards the end of the climb I was even getting closer to the girls in front of me, so I was quite happy with it. It was probably the longest climb I ever rode, it took me 1h 5 minutes. The guide rode in about 45 minutes, and he said the record was 33 minutes. We caught our breath at the top of the climb, happy that almost all of the climbing was over. After riding through the dark tunnel at the top, there were some smaller uphills that didn’t feel too good, but we made good prog[...]

Heavy legs after three days in training camp


In order to prepare for this year’s IM, I decided to up my bike volume by going on a training camp with “Hannes Hawaii Tours” to Mallorca. So far, I’ve spent three great days of training.

Day 1 started with sleeping in which felt great after the last few hectic days at home. Then a nice big breakfast and the first outside ride of the year. I had registered for the “25-27” group (no nor the age, but the average speed in kph) and we hit the speed almost perfectly. From the start there were a few people to chat with, some hills to test my legs, and only one short break. When we came back after 75k of riding, I felt that I had done something, but not totally spent. Still had enough energy for a swim session (25m pool right in front of my room) and a short core and stretching session.


The next day saw a bit longer session in even hillier terrain. First we did a run drills session in the morning. After that, the bike ride had just one short stop in almost exactly 3:30 hours of riding for 95k. The steeper hills really tested me, and I had to let the group go a little bit on the last steep hill.


I caught back up soon on the downhills – guess I really have to work on my power to weight ratio. :-) A nice shower, and I still had enough energy for another core session.

The third day (Tuesday), we had an even longer ride with a T-run. The terrain was a bit less challenging and a well running group, so we sped through the 105k ride in under four hours. A short break and then a 40 min T-run along the coast left me exhausted for the evening. Good thing that today (Wednesday) is a “rest day” (read: only two hours of easy training).

There is another ride planned for Thursday, which I’ll probably shorten a bit because I’ve signed up for the “big stage ride” on Friday – 170k of riding and about 2000m of climbing – most of it in the first half. Hopefully my legs will still be up for the challenge by then.

I’m really enjoying myself. It feels great to be able to focus on training and be able to talk triathlon and sports the whole day. Already starting to think about what I have to do to achieve some more ambitious goals. Looking forward to the next few days, but already miss my wife …