Zugspitze Ultratrail – Basetrail XL

I signed up for this on a bit of a whim last year, when Alex said that he was doing the 69km Supertrail. I didn’t fancy that, but the basetrail XL at about 50km with 1660m of climbing sounded challenging enough. Originally it was on when I was planning on being in England, but it was postponed by 1 month due to the G7 meeting nearby, so I signed up.

Unfortunately on June 1st I got Corona, had symptoms and stuff but felt ok soon enough. Then I started noticing that I wasn’t breathing so well, or sleeping well. Training hasn’t been going well since then and I certainly haven’t been hitting my weight loss goals either! So I went to the start not expecting a lot, but thinking I’d be fine anyway.

So on the day I got to Garmisch and eventually found a parking space before getting on the shuttle bus to the start in Leutasch. The bus got in at 7:40 for a 9am start, I still needed to go to the toilet, check in my bag and have my rucksack checked for the mandatory equipment, but I had loads of time…

The toilet queue was 40 minutes long! I had a chat with some of the other queuers about training and stuff, but it was crazy that there were only 3 toilet stalls for nearly 600 guys. Anyway, job done and then the rest went quickly. At 9am I was ready to go and we started to the sound of Highway to Hell, just like in Mainz marathon.

The Start – Climbing
The start goes up a bit ass mountain, it’s around 950m uphill and we’d reach the peak after about 8km. The first km was flat, then the next and the next! Soon it started going uphill gently and I started to walk parts, I thought it was well worth saving energy now for later, I expected to be out for 5h30 altogether.

It started getting steep soon enough and everyone was walking. I was impressed with how fast some people go uphill, I guess they weigh less than me but anyway, impressive. The last 250m of climbing after the hutte started to bite a little and some people passed me, soon enough it was over though and I was ready to descend.

Part 2 – The descent

My shoes were a bit loose and I have been having problems with blisters when running downhill in the Speedgoat 5s, so I stopped to do up my left shoe a bit tighter. The downhill was steep and on loose gravel at the top, some people descent like mentalists! I almost fell once and others were way out of control on occasion. After the steepest part, it got a bit better but people were passing me right and left. I must have lost 25 places.

I was very happy when the more technical descent was finally over and it flipped almost immediately from me being passed constantly, to me passing others constantly! I took my time at the first aid station before setting off on the next section, which was pretty flat.

Part 3 – Flat

I was still catching people but trying to go easy, I was doing just under 5 minute per km, so not motoring. The sun and temperature was an issue though, and that I still had about 35km to go, so I was happy to just keep rolling.  It was nice running for a while, then soon there was another little climb which was runnable, before a really nice fast downhill.

There was a sign for the next aid station in 500m, but then it started going steeply uphill on a road, then in the forest, that 500m probably took over 7 minutes, bit of a shit sign really!  I drank some more but immediately started feeling not great. My stomach was hurting, I was hoping I’d be able to keep everything down.

Part 4 – The lows

The next while seemed to be steeper uphill which I walked pretty slowly. Some passed me but I didn’t care. When I reached the top, I was looking forward to a downhill, but that didn’t happen! It just kind of rolled up and down, but in a completely useless way for me. I couldn’t run up the steep hill or down the steep hill, so it was just slow going all round.

My stomach still wasn’t happy, but at the end of the rollers after about 31km came a beautiful lake, I was very impressed, especially that it wasn’t very busy there. We’ll be going to visit some time soon.

Apart from the lake, I hated all of this part. It felt like the uphills were often long and more gentle (6-10%) but I was in no state to run them, but the downhills were 20%+ also unrunnable for me, just shit, all shit!

Part 5 – Cola to the rescue!

The next aid station came after another fairly useless technical descent, there was about 13.5km to go, I knew there was a hill, but thought it was short, followed by a nice fast descent into Garmisch in the last 10k, I was wrong.

I took on lots of cola which really seemed to get me going again. There was a cheer point which was cool, someone sponged my head and lots of people were cheering, it was awesome. But then came the steep ass hill.

I was struggling to walk parts of it, but at least that meant it had to be short. Well the consistent climbing part was short, but the rolling useless terrain continued on for the next few km. At least I was feeling better so could run more of the slight uphills now.

Part 6 – Roll to the end

The last aid station came at the last little kick in the teeth roller and they told us it was all downhill from here. There was also only about 7km to go, so it could go quick if the path was nice and runnable.  Unfortunately large parts were very steep, like quads destroyingly steep. I felt like I was sloooow here, but no one passed me.

To start with though there was a little slat bit next to the ski lift exit where loads of women dressed in dirndls made a shoot where they cheered on the runners, it was also a nice morale lift.

On the downhill, Katja sent me a couple of messages asking me where I was and if I was ok. I took this opportunity to put in my headphones and send her a message, then listen to music for the last few km.

When it flattened out, my legs felt shockingly good. I kicked on feeling like I could finish strong, I was also quickly aware that it was warm and sunny again. I passed someone, the first person I had seen since the last aid station, he gave me a fist bump, then I headed into the last 2km, knowing the job was done.

In Garmisch the route is pretty shitty. It goes along a little path next to the train station, then under a long bridge, up some stairs, across to the other side, down some stairs and back under the long bridge! Anyway, there was a few hundred metres to go when I could finally get onto flat asphalt and enjoy the finish line run in. Off came the cap, hands in the air and celebrate that it was finally all over in 5h44!

The End

It was a very hard day for me, I am in no way trained for a near 50km mountain run at the moment. I had guessed that I would need about 5h30, but I had also hoped that more of the downhills would be good for some 4 minute Ks, they were not.  I felt like I had done a fairly poor job all in, but my result was 41st from just under 600 runners, so it wasn’t dreadful, just not as good as I’d hope for.

During parts 2 and 4 (the descent and the lows) I had decided that I wasn’t doing this sort of shit again, but already by the time I crossed the line I was thinking that I could try this again next year. I am too heavy to be great uphill (I could and should lose weight), I am also poor technically on the downhills. I think next year though, those 2 things could be improved upon. That along with some better training and better health leading into the race, I think 5h flat would be doable.

I’m not saying I will definitely do it again, I’m saying I might.

The messages I got hours later from a here unnamed Supertrail runner make me think that it might not be fun to go much longer than what I did here!

Next up:

My autumn plan is the Tegernsee Half marathon and the Munich Half marathon. Munich would be a solid attempt at a PB. I need to get myself fit and healthy again though. I ran a 17:29 km Parkrun shortly before getting corona, I seem to have lost at least a minute since then, it’s a bit depressing. Well long COVID isn’t eternal COVID, so hopefully I’ll be back on form again soon.

and when I am, I’ll see you again here!

Geretsried Stadtlauf 10km

It’s been 3 weeks since the marathon and I thought I’d give the Raffeisen Oberland Challenge a go this year. It starts off with a 10k in Geretsried, which should be a fast course.

On the Friday night before the race, Katja was out and I ended up eating lots of shit, including a full Ben & Jerrys, a big bag of doritos and M&Ms too. It wasn’t ideal, but I also didn’t know what to expect having not done much organised training since the marathon.

We went to Munich in the morning so that Katja could get her nose piercing swapped (or not) then we ate brunch in town, so I had 2 croissants and some bread. We then headed to Geretsried where it rained and we were there pretty early.

I had my alphaflys with me, even though my big toe nail is still black after the marathon. I saw Armin from Roche before the race and we ran a loop of the course beforehand as a warm up.

The race started at 3pm, and I set off and was in first place from the start. I looked around a bit worried and only after about 300m did others join me at the front. I felt pretty good but didn’t know what to expect when my GPS beeped for the first time, it showed 3:25, things were going well!

A group of 3 had got ahead of me and seemed a bit fast for me, but I had hoped that they might be running the 5k. I was with 2 other guys in a nice little group and we stayed together nicely. It was a 4 loop course and on the 2nd loop we lost one of the guys in the group, Wolfgang. He was the guy who ran with me and Alex in Fürstenried for quite a while before leaving us behind.

After 2 loops I was hoping to see some of the first 3 split off of the 5k, but none did, so I was in 5th place, but running with 4th. He started to get a few seconds on me, but the elastic never broke. I passed 5k in 17:49 and felt good, especially as I had passed a km marker and my GPS was spot on.

In the last loop, I brought the 4th place guy back and was feeling strong when someone overtook us like we were standing still! I ran into the stadium and had about 300m to go, but saw on my watch that sub36 wasn’t going to happen, despite every km split being on time for it.

I came in in 36:11, a good result for me, but 5th man, 4th in my age group and 6th overall.

I feel like I could have gone sub36 if I had done a little bit better prep for the race. I forgot my electrolyte drink and ate way too much the day before the race. Considering that my PB is only 25 seconds faster, I think I can go under that next time out.

Anyway, the race was good fun, it had set me back on course to get some training done and get those PBs that are there for the taking.

The next race in the series is a hilly half marathon. I’m not sure I’ll do that one as it’s on the same day as a work event and it’s pretty far away to run a guaranteed non-PB and leave me needing a good amount of recovery afterwards…

That means my next race might be on July 3rd, quite a while away. I might need to do some parkruns in the meantime to keep the juices flowing! A sub 17min 5k and sub 35min 10k would be so awesome!

Zurich Marathon – 2h47:56 PB!

I recently saw a flashback photo that was 4 years old, it was from the Paris Marathon, my PB is from Berlin in 2016, bloody hell that is ages ago! As you can see from my last few posts, things have been going well, my training has been more relaxed, I haven’t lost much weight, but I don’t feel overtrained and I feel ready.

That was until Tuesday, when I started feeling a bit ill. I went to the Roche run and had shortness of breath, not too bad but noticeable. I did my 5x1min intervals but they felt hard. On Wednesday it was a bit better and better again on Thursday, not great but ok. On Friday I had an easy 35 min run with 5 mins faster and I was flying! A slow jog was 4:20/km, so I was healthy again, all good!

I got the train to Zurich, checked into my hotel and went straight to get my start number, there were loads left to be picked up considering there was little time left. I brought food from home but probably overate a little.

The race starts at 8:15, really early, so I had alarms set for 5am, I was awake at 4:30 anyway! I ate my peanut butter and honey on baguette and sat, stood and walked around the room until just before 7am when I was ready to go to the start.

It’s 3.5km from the hotel to the finishing area, where you can hand over clothes bags, then it’s another 1.5km to the start. I felt that would be too much for before the race, so took an e-bike to the finish area. It was really cold, and that was with extra clothes on, that I would have to take off.

After the bag was gone, I was in arm warmers, a hat, gloves, a buff around the neck and my normal shorts with TCEC vest. It was pretty damn cold, but I still decided to bin the arm warmers just before the start. At 8:05 I had my last pee and went to the start block, but it was really full so I had to push forward. I could see the 3h pace group way ahead, so I wanted to start a good bit before that.

The race started and I found my stride pretty quickly, the first km was 4:05, which had me a little worried, but I was soon ticking off 3:55ish kilometres. I was noticing that I was constantly slightly faster than my goal 4:00/km pace, I didn’t want to do too much too soon, but it felt fairly comfortable so I continued on, passing 10km in about 39:20.

I found a great group for the long out and back into a very slight headwind. People kept shouting for someone called Nicola, including a “You’re a legend, Nicola” shout. There was a women running next to me, so I said, “wow, you must be famous”, she didn’t reply.

I soon thought, famous, Swiss Nicola who is running at sub 4 mins per km pace…. Nicola Spirig the Olympic Gold winner in the triathlon? Oh, yes, that was her, but it wasn’t the woman I had spoken to before! We even had a TV camera with us for quite a while.

The awesome group into the headwind

The group paced perfectly for me, it was 3:55 per km and we passed the 21.1km half marathon in 1:23:30. I shook my head, that is so far to fast it is unbelievable, I was working on an optimistic goal of 2:50, but here I am running 2:47 pace, this could end badly.

But the kilometres kept coming and going, every peep of the garmin started with a 3 and I felt fine. Spirig kicked on ahead and after the turn around our group disintegrated, which was a shame. I had the feeling that I was usually running downhill, though obviously I wasn’t as it was pretty much flat. With 27km done, I had more than 1h02 to run the last 15km, looking good!

I started to feel like I might need to stop for the toilet after about 28km. It wasn’t too bad, but I felt like I could go when I see a toilet, or I might be forced into the bushes later. I knew there was a drinks station at 36km, and they are about every 4-5km, so I was looking for one from 30km onwards. I eventually found it at 32km, it felt like it took ages (strava suggests 30 seconds) but I was done and good to go to the end.

I was playing everything very conservatively, I had about 2 minutes in hand and felt fine, but I took a planned little walk break at 36km to take my last gel and drink some water. I was off again and going to the finish line. After 37km, I had 23 mins to beat my goal time and I still felt fine. I couldn’t really judge my pace anymore, but the old garmin kept saying 3:57 or so, sometimes 4:02 or so, but that’s a rounding error at this stage.

After 2h31m, the groups are gone and it was a more solo battle

My mental maths was going into overdrive, if I don’t blow up, and I don’t feel like I’m going to, then with 2.2km to go, I’ll be able to average slower than 5:00/km and still do it… this is in the bag! I was overtaking more people than were passing me, which I don’t think had been the case for the last 10km. In the town the course is a bit more twisty, but there are more people cheering.

After about 41.5km, I could see the finish on the otherside and I knew I had done it. I was grinning but could feel the emotion coming too. It was a little further to the finish than I thought, and I realised that sub 2:48 was still on, so I kicked a little and finished in 2:47:56 – a dream!

Just missed having a good finish line photo

I couldn’t/can’t believe it! This is the time I wanted and deserved in 2016, I have been working for ages for this and it has finally happened. I cried a bit at the end, as I am prone to do. I was just so happy that I got the result that I think I deserve.

So, it’s over. I actually feel pretty much okay 1 day after the race. My feet are a bit of a mess, but I’m not destroyed. So where does that leave me now? Well I’m not going to do an Autumn marathon, too much stress. I do want to do the Raffeisen Oberland Challege series, which is a load of different races throughout the year. I have the feeling that I could maybe beat my best 10k time on a good day. My 5k time of 17:31 or whatever it is should be a sitting duck on a fast course, who knows, maybe my HM time could go too!

I would like to try another marathon some time. I weigh about 80kg now. I can get to 75kg, but I don’t think hard training and weight loss works for me. I need to start my training cycle at 75kg or less, then I think I can start to look towards 2:40 as a crazy goal time. I may well never beat my time from yesterday, but that wouldn’t be too bad. It fits with my other PBs well, it always annoyed me that I’d never run a good marathon before, but now I have 😀

Forstenrieder Half Marathon 2022

It’s only 15 days until my marathon now! The last week and a half of training has been tough, last weekend was a double long run weekend, followed by a 39 min 10k on Tuesday as a tempo run, I am feeling tired, not helped by the fact that Zak the Dog has started waking me up at 6am everyday -little shit!

Today I had a 26km marathon pace run in the plan, so I decided to run the Forstenrieder Half Marathon to keep things interesting. It also happened to be pretty warm, about 18°C and unbroken sunshine, though we’d be running in the forest, so should have plenty of shade (incorrect!).

I got to the start at 11:45 for a 1pm start, though I planned to run from 12:30 so I could do 2km warm up followed by 5km at race pace before the start. I was slightly worried about wearing my Alphaflys as the course was 1/3 on trail, but did it anyway…

Alex of the Roche Road Runners team said he would try to run with me at 4:00/km, until he couldn’t anymore, I thought he’d manage the whole thing at that pace after running a 2h53 marathon in Autumn last year.

I did the first 6.8km and it felt easy, my GPS was all over the place though, so I decided to manually monitor my pace by clicking whenever I passed a km marker in the race. I got back to the start with about 3 mins to spare and could start right at the front, all good.

So off we went and Alex was a bit fast, the 1st km was in 3:47, then a 3:50, well at least we banked some time! We soon settled to just below 4:00/km pace and started to see what the course had to offer. There was quite a lot of trail, it wasn’t technical, but often a bit off camber, I hate that. There were also plenty of stones, but that is nitpicking a bit.

I also had the feeling that we were going slightly uphill from km 5-12, then it started going slightly down again, which was good. I remember a 38:50 split at 10km, way too fast and it was starting to feel a little tougher than I’d like.

After 15km, we were back on asphalt and going downhill and I kind of drifted ahead of Alex and the other guy I was running with, I did consider slowing down, but I think my pace was fine, they were struggling. So I kicked on alone until the end, in the last 2-3km, there were the slower 10k runners on course, so I could see lots of other runners and try to cheer people on, but I get the idea people just feel offended when they get overtaken by someone clapping them on!

Soon enough I was on the home straight and crossed the line and stopped my watch in exactly 1h23:00, only to realise I had to run 25m more to the real finish line! After stopping I had a little dizziness, which was less than ideal, but it subsided in 30 seconds or so, I think it was an above marathon pace effort though.

Looking happy at the end!

I binned my warm down, leaving me with 28km with 26km at above marathon pace on the day, not bad. I could have gone faster, but 16km more at that pace would be very tough, luckily Zurich will be cooler (8:15am start), flatter and all on tarmac, I’ll also be running slower than 1h23 half marathon pace, I’ll do exactly 4:00/km pace.

Alex finished 50 seconds behind me, happy with his run having predicted he’d struggle to break 1h30. My Alphaflys seemed to take a bit of damage during the race, along with my feet. I had a very odd blister on the bottom of my foot and my big toe nails hurt, at least I have plenty of time to recover anyway.

So next weekend is the Tour of Flanders 144km sportive, then it’s go time, Zurich marathon in sub 2h50, I think I can do it! I know I can do it!

I might blog them both, unless they go very badly that is 🙂

Ottobeuren 10k 2022

I haven’t done a race since February 2020! How crazy is that? Well today was my only full effort race in the run up to Zurich marathon, so I was hoping that it’d be a goody.

I set off at 8:40 for the 100km drive to Ottobeuren, I had to get my number by 10, even though the race doesn’t start until 11:05. I’d weighed in at 79.5kg, weight loss hasn’t really happened for me this year, but nerves probably led to another couple of kg being gone before the start of the race 😀

I talked to a guy on the start line, he reckoned he would run 1:20 for the HM, but it is hilly so he wasn’t sure. I didn’t know it was supposed to be hilly! We set off and a lot of people were ahead of me from the get go, I looked at my watch on the back straight (it starts with 300m on the track) and it said 3:15/km, they were fast, I wasn’t slow.

So I settled into a pace and the first km beeped at 3:29, wow, crazy fast. The next km was in 3:31 but I felt very controlled and started overtaking a few people, the next couple of km went the same, just over 3:30/km, I started dreaming of a PB. I passed the guy who told me it was hilly after 3km of very flat (actually slight downhill) running and said – not very hilly so far!

I imagined an out and back course, so each flat km meant 2 flat km to me, until at the turnaround at 4.5km all was going great, I slightly missed the turn losing a few seconds but nothing serious. The turnaround being at 4.5km did make me think that something was wrong, but I didn’t know what exactly.

After about 5km there was a turn off the asphalt track, I thought it was for the HM runners, but it wasn’t, it was for all of us, I lost another couple of seconds. Then we started to climb. I’m not talking about crazy mountains here, but there were some fairly steep slopes, and the asphalt was gone and we were on a bit muddy trail instead.

I had been passed by 2 people on this part of the course and my next km was in 4:00, poo. The trail part was all fairly tough but soon we dropped back down to the asphalt and had 2km left to go.

This was when I realised that the first few km had been slightly downhill, so it wasn’t too easy on the way back, but I still was managing 3:45/km pace, so was doing okay. Soon enough the track was in view and I just had 300m or so to go. I could hear someone trying to pass me, but I think he was running the HM, so probably thought better of it when I started accelerating at the end.

So I crossed the line in 37:09 (official time). I had thought before the race that I would be between 36-38:00, with 37:00 being about par. On a flat asphalt course, I would have run 36:30 pretty certainly, that would give me a sub 2:49 marathon, and I really think I will run sub 2:50. I’m not at my fastest ever right now, but I feel more undertrained than overtrained, so should be getting fitter before the marathon, rather than burning out as I usually do.

I had a great time doing my first race for years. I drove home singing along loudly to music in the car, it was almost like COVID never happened!

So now I have a double long run weekend next weekend, then a 26km at marathon pace the weekend after (Forstenrieder HM – but not racing) then the Tour of Flanders, then Zurich. I’m looking forward to it all – well maybe not the double long run weekend!

2020 Britzer Garten Lauf – 9.912km

I’m still fairly new in town and thus am running races that I have never done before. The Britzer Garten Lauf is apparently pretty quick though but possibly short too. After some discussion, Lukas measured the course with a measuring wheel and came back with 9912m, so it was short, but only about 18 seconds short.

The start was at 10:20, so I could get up at a decent time, eat, walk the dog and set off. I put the start address into google and ran from the station to the start. Or so I thought! I arrived at the entrance to the park but no one was at the entrance to let me (+ another runner) in. So we went clockwise around the park through some allotments to the next entrance, only to find that unmanned too.

The other runner decided to jump the fence, but I decided to run back anti-clockwise to find the right entrance, I mean I had 35 minutes until the start, no problems. After finding a group of people looking for the entrance, I continued on anti-clockwise but kept hitting dead ends. I decided I had to go to the main road and around to the main entrance. I also posted in our WhatsApp group to ask where I needed to go.

I was told that I was on the north side, but the south-west side was right. I reached a manned entrance but wasn’t allowed in, then another, then another. Time was getting tight by the time I got to the start, I had also run 8.5km at an increasing pace, far from ideal. Christoph kindly picked me up at the entrance and showed me to the start, I threw my extra clothes on the floor, got ready and went to the start… what a shitshow!

So – to the race! It was actually fairly uneventful. I started a few rows back and had a little trouble getting away. I soon caught up with Christoph and Lukas and I looked to my right and noticed that Carsten was also there, the Winterserie team back together!

Carsten pushed ahead with Christoph, I was hanging back a bit, not really feeling it. After about 3km Carsten fell behind and Christoph pulled ahead, only about 10-20m but pretty clearly ahead.

I passed 5km with 18:13 on my watch, not great. I felt pretty strong still though and after maybe 7.5km I felt like I picked it up a bit and passed a few people. I thought I say Christopher, another British Parkrunner just ahead of me, it was him, he was having a great race, but was struggling over the last few minutes.

I also caught back up to Christoph and moved ahead of him. The last couple of km were decent, I didn’t want to push too much too early, but I was hoping to get close to 36 flat, which was my goal from the start. I was very disappointed to see 36:30 on my watch as I crossed the finish line.

With the race being slightly short, that gives me a 36:50 for a full 10km, way off my PB and off my goal time too. All I can really think is that my stressed 8.5km run to the start hurt me a bit, but I think my weight was also a big negative.

I need to get back on my diet and not overdo the training. I don’t think I am overcooked though. Generally, I feel good. This was my first 100km+ week for 2 years with a race as part of a long run and VO2 max intervals during the week, all good. Maybe it was just a bad day, I hope so…

BSV Winterlaufserie – Half Marathon

2 weeks after the 15k race, came the final event of the BSV Winterlaufserie, the half marathon. As I mentioned last time, it was tight in the Hasenheide 2nd team for 4-7th places. We all managed to get to the start line fit again, which is an acheivement in itself in January!

I went to the S-Bahn this morning to catch the 10am train to the race, but when I arrived I found out that all of the trains had been cancelled and I was in trouble! I checked the buses, nothing useful, so I booked an Uber to Treptower Park and jumped in a Ring bahn to the start. Seeing that I would only arrive at the station 800m from the start at 10:45 (the start was at 11:00) I needed to get changed as much as possible in the train. I ducked down to swap T-shirts and I changed socks too. I couldn’t bring myself to change out of my jeans in the train, it seemed inappropriate!

As after carriage jumping to get to the best exit, I arrived and ran to the start. I changed, had a toilet stop and checked my bag and still had 5 minutes spare when I got to the start line! I dropped off a bottle and took a gel with me, there wasn’t anything provided by the organiser.

I met the super fast Alex D for the first time on the start line, he wanted to couchsurf at my place in Mainz in 2016 or so, but I was in Mannheim at the time so couldn’t. Our paths have crossed a few times since then, without us actually meeting, so it was good to finally have a chance to chat with him, if only for 20 seconds before the start gun fired (luckily more after the race too).

So off we went and I felt pretty good. Carsten started off ahead of my and I was with Christoph from the start. After about 1km, we caught a group and tucked in, but they seemed a tick too slow, so I passed them and went to the front. They all stayed with me though, and that would be my group of the day.

Carsten, unfortunately, fell away in the 2nd lap but our group worked well together. In the 3rd lap (of 9!) I felt like Christoph pushed the pace a little and I worried a bit, but I bridged and the group came back together.

It was all a bit uneventful with us passing the gps 10km mark at 37:30. I took my drink after 5 laps and after 6 laps I was still feeling good and when a guy in the group pushed on, I went with him. The group disintegrated but Christoph was hanging tough a few metres behind. He got back to us and we all took turns at the front. After going up the hill for the 9th and final time, I tried to give it a final kick to get away.

The guy in black hung on and Christoph could react too. I knew I had 19 seconds on him and felt confident that I wouldn’t lose that much, but who would finish first between us was up for grabs still. With about 1.5km to go the guy in black really went and I struggled to keep pace. The last few minutes were my fastest but I was really disappointed as I entered the stadium to see 1:20:00 on the watch. With more than 300m to go, 1:21 wasn’t going to happen, I had thought it was in the bag!

As I ran down the ramp, I quickly realised, oh, it wasn’t 300m around to the end, just the shorter way around, 100m or so. I really sprinted (for me) but couldn’t catch the man in black, Christoph wasn’t going to catch me either though so with the faster Parkrunners already finished and cheering me on, I crossed the line in 1:20:37.

I was really happy with that, my VDOTs for the races in the series were 56.2, 56.8 and 57.9, a nice trend over 4 weeks and with 2 weeks until my marathon, I have to be looking at 2:48 for my marathon goal time really.

Everyone in the team brought something to eat to bridge the long pause between the end of our race and the prize giving. It was great, we were a group of about 10-12 and had a bit of a feast all told!

AK35 – Gray pipped me for 2nd by 12 minutes!

To cap it off, I was 3rd in my age group, lots of the others placed in the age groups too, with Gray (who won the half marathon in a PB time) was 3rd in the series. Hasenheide Parkrun was 1st and 3rd in the team competition too, domination!

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So that’s that for the series. I think it was my second best half marathon ever, but still 100 seconds off my best ever in Frankfurt. There are no points for being fast in January though, April is what will count. I need to lose more weight (I was 78.5km this morning) and get more longer endurance runs in without blowing myself up like last time. I don’t know if it will work out as I plan, but I am feeling pretty confident at the moment 🙂

BSV Winterlaufserien 15km

1 week after the first instalment came the 2nd instalment of the BSV Winterlaufserien. Last week was interesting and I was happy with my run, I was hoping for more of the same this week.

An equivalent run to my 10km time from last week over 15km would be 57:30, but I was aiming for sub 57 as I weighed in at 79.7kg instead of 81.1kg last week. My week of training was good, my Achilles feels a bit better and my only fear was that my 21min 5k Parkrun the day before might have been too fast and left my legs slightly tired.

Unfortunately, Lukas, who was faster of me last week, had a cold this week but started anyway. He didn’t seem too confident!! Everyone else who ran well last week was on the start line again.

We set off and I ran with Carsten from the get-go, our pace was good and were even with Gray for a while, who ran a sub35 last week, but it turned out he was doing a progression run this week.

I had worked out that the pace for 57:00 was 8:41 per lap, so that was my aim for the first laps. We passed the first lap in 8:36 and I was feeling good, but it was still early. After 2 laps me and Carsten were still dead on pace and I had seen that Christoph wasn’t too far behind us. (you can see him behind in the video below)

Slo-mo of me and Carsten – good form!

Nearing the end of the 3rd lap, I had the feeling that Carsten was fading and I was taking the lead, it was a shame, I wanted to run with people again this week, almost as soon as I had thought that, I heard someone catch us from behind – it was Christoph!

We went off together passing the halfway mark and soon enough the 10k (on my GPS) in 37:30. After another lap of pushing each other, Christoph started to open up a few metres gap on me, I didn’t feel like I could go with him.

I knew that after 6 laps my time should end with :06 seconds as it was 8:41 per lap for 57 minute pace, but I saw :18, so I was 12 seconds or so down with 1.25km to run.

I wasn’t dead yet though and I tried to pick up the pace for the last km. As I entered the stadium with 300m to go, I could give it another kick, even though I had convinced myself that sub57 was in the bag. It started getting a bit tight at the end and I needed a good sprint to finish with 56:58 on my watch, so I hit my goal time by the skin of my teeth!

Christoph was 15 seconds faster and Carsten ran about 58:00 and Lukas battled it round for a 58:15, that must have been tough with a cold! That means that the series standing must be pretty tight between us 4 still, I reckon I have 20 seconds on Christoph, 55 seconds on Carsten and 65 seconds on Lukas. Strangely our order of finish was the exact opposite this week to last week!

Team Hasenheide Parkrun – Konstantin, Carsten, Christoph, Me, Lukas and Andy – Gray was already gone

So next week is a rest week in the series, then comes the half marathon. I will be aiming for a 1:21 assuming that all goes well until then. Whatever I run, I’d like to be first from our little group if possible, but it’s still all to play for 🙂

BSV Winterlaufserie 2020 – 10k

Right, it is 2020, return of the comeback time! I haven’t been doing my race reports much recently, you may have noticed that my results over the last 18 months haven’t been great, really from Kandel 2018 onwards has been a shitshow! After a while, I started to lose the will to write up another bad race, so I missed my 39:30 10k run in Plänterwald and my 1:28 Mugglesee half marathon, both my worst times for the distance in the last 5 years I guess.

Anyway, there have been glimpses of light. My 17:46 parkrun 5km was a PB, I haven’t had one of those in a while! I have also ‘won’ 2 parkruns, including one where I wasn’t running at 100%! I have decided to concentrate on running in 2020 anyway, with me getting a puppy in November, time is a bit more limited and I won’t have the time to train for 3 sports to any decent level, so I will try to get a lot of miles in the old legs and get back on running track.

So to the Winterlaufserie. It’s in Wilmersdorf which is miles away, but pretty easy to get to from Adlershof. It’s a 10k, followed by a 15k a week later, then 2 weeks later a half marathon, pretty cool.

I weighed in at 81kg, so there is a lot of work to do there, and I ran 5 days in a row leading into the race. My calves are a bit sore and I am having a bit of an Achilles problem in my right heel, but nothing too bad. I was feeling a bit negative and thought I should run a 38:00 pretty easily, but 37:00 seemed unrealistic.

At the sign-in I met Lukas and Carsten, Lukas was aiming for a 37:30, I thought it would be a bit optimistic for me, but I could but try. Christoph was a bit less optimistic with 39 minutes.

The course is a bit shit, it was frosty and I was slipping on the uphill part every lap. The lap is about 2.25km, so it is 4 laps and change this week.

We set off and lots of people were ahead of me from the start, but I felt decent. I was with Lukas and Carsten was ahead of us, I hadn’t expected that as his PB was 38:30 or so. Lukas led the group for the first lap or so, then I took over and felt good. After 2 laps we caught Carsten and were keeping a good pace, I always saw 3:45 pace or so on the watch when I glanced at it.

Soon Lukas passed me again, and Carsten again, then near the end of the last lap I passed Carsten again, only for him to pass me again in the last couple of hundred metres! I got into the stadium after 36 mins and could run in a 37:22, which I was pretty pleased about! Carsten was just ahead in 37:16 and Lukas a few metres further ahead in 37:13.

The parkrun team

It was a pretty fun race, if the course were less slippy I fancy I could have run a few seconds faster, but I can test that hypothesis next week hopefully!

37:22 is still about 95 seconds off my PB, but given my weight and lack of training, I feel pretty good about it. There is a lot of room for growth and hopefully, over the next couple of months, I’ll grab that low hanging fruit and get back down to 36-minute shape.


So I haven’t exactly been keeping this blog up to date, maybe due to my string of bad races going back more than 18 months, and maybe because I have been very busy moving house and starting a new job.

Some of the things I didn’t write about include my worst half marathon for about 5 years. The Mugglesee Halfmarathon, I ran 14km the day before and had dead legs and ran a 1:28, dying from the start! I did a Tug-o-Run event, which was a 2 lap 6.2km run with weird short chicanes in the airport hanger where it was staged. It was a fun event with free entry, free food and free drinks!

Another thing I wanted to do was Parkrun. There is a Parkrun in Berlin so on my first weekend in Berlin, I got the train to the start and ran to set a benchmark time. It was the day before the Berlin marathon and there were 750 runners, I had lots of people to run with and ran 18:30.

I week later, I realised that the week of the marathon is a bit of a one off, as I finished first in a field of 110 in 18:40, having slowed down after about km as I thought that I was off course! I started knocking a few seconds off my time until I ran a 18:15 in my 4th week, not a big improvement, but something.

I met a few people at park run who are decent runners and found out that they were planning a paced sub18 group at the end of November, that sounded perfect to me, in a group and well paced, I thought I had a good chance, though it wasn’t guaranteed.

I’ve been running a bit more, generally with a session and a longer run each week, but I’m still not running lots due to work stress and the new dog. I did a proper prep for the sub18 attempt though, meaning a 6am alarm so I could eat breakfast and not cycling to the start (also as it was -2°C when I wanted to set off).

So after a little warm up, we set off. Andy was pacing in his 100th Parkrun, Lukas and Johannes were in the group as well as a few others that I didn’t know. At the start there were really lots of people in the group, I was surprised, usually it gets pretty lonely pretty quickly! Soon enough though the group fell apart and we were down to the 4 named before. I was tucking in as much as I could and felt good, but near the end of the first lap I did feel like I was breathing heavy and could fall off the pace.

I hung on though even though the little rise from km2- 3 wasn’t too easy. By the time we hit the hill, Johannes was gone and the group was down to 3. I passed Lukas for the first time on the hill and Andy was a few metres ahead of me, but after the peak I could catch him back up on the downhill.

Lukas started drifting off the back but I was starting to feel strong. After the downhill we were on pace and soon enough were at 4km. I saw 14:20 on the watch, so I had 3:40 for the last km, I was feeling very confident. After Andy told me that we had 500m left, I told him that it was in the bag, I could even raise the pace quite a lot at the end and finished in 17:46, much better than expected and my best ever 5km (I might have split a better 5km in a 10km, but probably not).

After a quick celebration, I saw Lukas cross the line, I reckoned it was close to 18 mins and it was, but unfortunately in the wrong direction – 18:01.

So after 7 Parkruns in 9 weeks, I improved my time from 18:30 to 17:46, about 9 seconds per kilometer. I had said that if I could run a 17:30, I would sign up for a marathon, well that still seems like a reasonable goal, even though the course is possibly a bit slowed than I had realised when I set the goal!