Trailrunning and the Schwarzeck

So not much has happened since my last race, I raced another 10k in March 2020, it wasn’t great but I had excuses, then everything got cancelled because of Corona. My marathon was off, Parkrun was and still is called off and every other race going was done too.

I decided to try to stay fit and get in shape for a 5k later in the year (wouldn’t have been possible, but whatever) then I injured my achilles. I’d been having issues with my achilles for a while, but this was something different, this was a real injury – a partial tear.

After a few days I could walk without limping, but it just didn’t get better. I could run, but only with extreme pain in the following night. I tried some short runs and even ran about 16k quite fast once while supporting Alex run a marathon in Tempelhof, but my running was basically over for 2020.

We moved to Bayern near the mountains in mid February 2021 and we did a few hikes and lots of walking. I decided after about 9 months of not being able to run, to give it another go. After a 6km run all was okay, but the real test was in the night afterwards. I woke up the day after – and everything was fine! I could run again! My achilles still feels a little sore to the touch, but it works for running.

So, with no races happening in 2021 either, I decided to try some trail running here in the mountains. I’m not very fit at the moment and a few kg heavier than I should be, but it’s been fun so far! I am getting used to walking up steep gradients, I basically have no other option most of the time around here, when the paths are uneven and 20% steep.

2nd from right is the Rabenkopf (Schwarzeck too)

So today I set out and wanted to run up the Rabenkopf. Its a 1550m high mountain (starting at about 600m in the valley) that starts 6km from where we are staying in Bichl. I ran to the start and hit the climb after a quick dixie break. Pretty damn quickly I was walking, but could jog sections. The climb is only 5.5km but with 900m climbing. The 1st km was done in 8 mins, all good I thought. The next part was also fine, I briefly took a wrong turn, I somehow missed the slightly trodden 20cm wide path that went off to the left!

Soon came an unexected flat section which I ran until I got to a hut. I looked to the right – fuck – did I have to go up there! I almost turned back immediately, it looked steep and getting progressively steeper, as well as being covered in snow at the top!

I set off anyway and apart from a few little slips and slides, it wals fine. I did lose my footing on a narrow section which gave me cause for thought, but nothing came of it. Soon I came to a cross and a plateau, I knew it wasn’t the top, but I thought it probably wan’t that much further to the top.

I asked someone coming down if that was the way to the Rabenkopf, they said yes, so off I went. There were plenty of sections where I had my hand down to help with getting up rocks or over roots. There were also at least two exposed parts where the wind hit and it was icy, I won’t lie, I was scared on those bits. I was overtaking a lot of people though and I felt calmed by the fact that some fairly old people were coming down the mountain, if they could do it…

I got to the top of the Schwarzeck and the view was great down into the valley, I mean I could see Roche off in the distance even thought it’s 20km away! The view to the Rabenkopf scared my though, I had to go down a little, then it looked very narrow and steep to the top. I hardly even considered it, I turned straight back the way I came (Mistake – I could have taken the easier other way down)

Going down steep, narrow exposed icy paths aren’t my speciality apparently. I fell on my arse at least 3 times, the rest of the time I was hanging onto trees and branches for dear life! Only after getting back to the hut was I back in the clear. I decided to take the MTB route back down so it would be runnable. After that it was all easy going, I mean it would have been if I wasn’t knackered, but I was safe, just tired.

MTB route down

I got home after 23.5km in 3h08. If you consider that I ran there and back (12.5k) in just over 1h, it means the other 11k on the mountain were done at 5.5km/h!

So – my conclusion – I like this kind of adventure running but should probably wait until the routes are free of snow. I think it would have been fine if there was no snow today. I have to get used to being underway longer than I normally would be. 3h08 is a long time, but I still ‘only’ did 950m of climbing. I fancy running up some bigger stuff or doing a few peaks some time in the future, so that’ll take a while longer!

I hadn’t blogged in over a year, and I am back to running and races aren’t coming back anytime soon, so I thought I’d check in. Actually it was that I read my old Liege Bastogne Liege repost a couple of day ago that made me want to blog again, so here I am. I am going to try to run the peaks of the Gipfel Cup in the coming months, I may blog my progress…

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!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is WhatsApp-Image-2020-01-26-at-15.59.57-768x1024.jpeg

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 🙂

Rhein-Ahr Triathlon 2018

The last league race of the season is usually in Remagen. Last season they cancelled it, but it was back on this year. We could swim even though the Rhein is really shallow at the moment.  TCEC decided to meet at 6:30am on Sunday, which meant that I was up at 5:15 (before my alarm) and out of the house and cycling in the dark by 6:05.

I had ridden my new road bike on Saturday and was pretty fast for little effort. Later in the day though I had some pretty dreadful diahorrea. No worries though, it should sort itself out.  On race morning I had slpet really badly then ate my bog standard breakfast of cornflakes and an omelette. I really didn’t feel great and couldn’t stomach the whole omelette, so I threw it away.

After losing a few more fluids, I was on my way to Mombach. We set off and were there in good time. I messed up a few things, such as forgetting a new pair of shorts for after the race, forgetting my towel and not putting my wetsuit bag in T1, meaning I couldn’t store it away as you are supposed to.

Anyway, we got the bus to the swim start this year and then got on the ferry to the middle of the Rhein. I remembered that last time I swam near the coast and took ages, this time pretty much my only goal was to swim in the middle and pick up the stream of the river as much as is possible.  We started and I worked my way to the middle. I breathe to the right and could see the kayak on my right the whole time. I didn’t swim well, I felt pretty weak, but I got out of the water after about 22:40 which was minutes faster than last time, I even saw Basti in T1, meaning I had done well.

After putting on socks, and hiding my wetsuit out of the way, I got onto the bike. I wasn’t gaining on anyone and a quick look at my power showed about 230w, pathetic.  I really just couldn’t get going, it was a fight from the start and people passed me a lot, which isn’t usually what happens. Near the end of the first loop Robert passed me and was out of sight pretty quickly!

I couldn’t hold aero position for more than a few minutes as my shoulders were aching, after finally getting to the top of the climb for a 2nd time, I was happy to be able to roll back down to T2. My average speed was 32km/h, really bad.  Not only that though, I felt like death, I really didn’t know how I would run 10k after that ride.

But 10k is what I had to run, so after a decent T2 I set off. I saw Michael coming to lap me almost immediately, I worked out that he was about 13 minutes ahead of me. Running is usually my strength, but this time I had nothing. I was being overtaken all the time and was just hoping to make it to the end.

Slowly, and I mean slowly, I ticked off the loops. I was so happy to be finished, but so disappointed with my day. It was without doubt my worst triathlon ever.  I kind of finished in a daze, light headed and feeling weak.

The others were chatting so after I had a bit to drink, I went over to them. They looked at me and I felt like it was pure pity, I had to go to the side to have a few minutes by myself to get myself together, rather than cry in the group!

I felt like shit for at least the next 45 minutes, then after having a coffee and a shower I started to feel better.  The day after as I write, I still have diahorrea and feel weak, so it seems that I was ill going into the race.

So that is the end of my 2018 triathlon season. There was the Hachenberg team sprint where I struggled on the bike and ran badly, there was Mußbach where I cycled badly, then Worms were I cycled dreadfully. There was Neuwied where I was a drop out due to health stuff and now my worst triathlon ever in Remagen. It’s been a helluva season!

Over Winter and Spring I plan to keep traithlon training, rather than just running. Actually I’d rather cycle more and run less, whilst ticking over on the swimming. I just need toget myself right though, I guess they will be planning me for the 2nd team next year, I need to get myself back fit, healthy and on form to get some points for the 1st team.

Mainz Marathon Staffel 2018

Marathon Staffel

In Autumn last year, I thought it’d be cool to make a TCEC staffel team for the Mainz Marathon.  I saw that the winning time in 2017 was 2:45, with some decent runners, we should be able to better that!  I asked around and got good answers. Heiko, Stephan and Michael would run with me. That would be a 2:3x team.

A little later Michael had to drop out as he would be away, but Sebi took his place so we didn’t lose any time.  A couple of weeks before the race, Sebi dropped out, but Basti stepped in, another good substitution.  The day before the race Heiko dropped out and I had used up my pool of sub 38min 10k runners, but luckily Uli would run for us. He is nearer to a 40min runner, but would help us out in a jam.

10km from 13km-23km

I have been having my troubles recently, as were well documented in my Paris Marathon blog. I was diagnosed with low ferritin (21 – much higher than expected) so I have been on iron and am feeling better but still not good. Unfortunately I got upgraded from the 3rd staffel leg that was 8km route, to the 10k route, as Uli would take the 8km.

So having signed on on Saturday, we were good to go on Sunday. We met for the TCEC team photo and Stephan took to the start line.  For some reason Basti didn’t have his TCEC gear on. He has been in TCEC for ages and we were a TCEC team, an odd decision.

I rented a bike and rode to my staffel change area area. The toilets were surprisingly full considering the race was already underway!  I watched the leaders come through, then Raoul shortly afterwards, then some guys I recognise from races, but Stephan wasn’t there yet.  A couple of minutes later than expected, he came into sight and I got ready for the change over.

Enjoying the start

I set off a bit worried, but didn’t know if I could run fast!  I settled into a 3:45 pace which I was happy about, and I supposed that as I was overtaking people, I must be running faster than Stephan had been.  It was fun with the crowd there and I slapped some hands and waved Helau so the kids.  I was soon through the old town and feeling good.  Then I saw the 16km sign, I had only run 3km!

Wormserstrasse (the out and back) isn’t so bad when you are fairly fresh. I saw lots of familiar faces. The TCEC family that cheer at the turn are there every year, I don’t know who they are, but they are perfectly positioned and make me smile every year.  I kept on overtaking people who were struggling near the end of the half marathon, but at least they were nearly finished after 20km. I had to pass the finish line and go 2km further, over the bridge to the staffel change point in Kastel.

Stephan ran next to me on the bridge for about 3m, the photographer caugh that moment well!

It got a bit quiet after the half marathoners were done.  I passed the half marathon line in 1:22:xx, slower than my time alone last year.  I saw Stephan on the bridge and asked what position we were in. 5th, bugger.  Over the bridge against the wind was tough, but it is short so done with fairly quickly. Soon enough I was over and found Uli at the change point. I had run 10.3km with an average of 3:51/km, not good, but not dreadful either.

Team Finish – 5th Place

I walked back to Stephan and Carola (his wife) to get my bag and watch Uli run by, before getting another bike and heading off to the 3rd staffel change area.  I only just caught up with Uli as he tagged Basti in.  We made our way back to the finish area.

Everything got a bit muddled, so we didn’t have a staffel team finish, but we did meet at the finish line.  I enjoyed my cake and alcohol free shandy and we sat around and enjoyed the sun.  Raoul won the Hochschulemeisterschaft again (this time for the marathon) and was the first German finisher, so we had to wait a while for his prize giving.

All in it was a fun day. I enjoy Mainz marathon weekend, even if I don’t run too well. I hope some time to run a good race there, 2019 would be ideal, though I don’t think I’ll ever do the full marathon in Mainz, it looks pretty lonely out there after km 21.

Rund um Frankfurt/Eschborn

Last week I was at home and saw a whatsapp message in the TCEC group, Marco had won a start place for the Skoda Rund um Frankfurt bike race, but he had already signed up. He was offering his place to whoever wanted it, I jumped at the chance!

So after signing up and signing on the day before in Eschborn, I was on the start line on May 1st, a bank holiday here in Germany.  The race was only 100km long and had 1 big hill and a few little ramps, but nothing crazy.  My cycling isn’t great at the moment, I still feel generally pretty crappy, but I have been getting some miles in, so I thought I’d do alright.

6am is no time to get up on a bank holiday, but to catch the train at 7:13 from Kastel, it was necessary.  I met up with Marco there, he’d accidently paced odd shoes (from different pairs) so was a bit bemused.  We got to the start and headed to the VIP area. Marco had also got us VIP entry, so we could park our bikes, leave our bags and eat/drink as much as we pleased, not bad!

The race started at 8:45. At 8:45 we had only just found out L block! We were in the slowest and last to start block as we were both first timers.  By about 9:20 or so we could actually set off.  I expected the roads to be packed and to be stuck in traffic, but actually the roads were wide as h*ck so traffic was rarely an issue.

I jumped into a few passing group, my average was up at about 40km/h but that was with the wind.  When we turned back into the wind the pace started to relent and the need to stay in a group was increased.  After a fairly uneventful first 45km, I hit the lower slopes of Feldberg.  It is an 11km climb, but not steep at 5% average.

I twiddles my way up the climb, passing people by the hundred.  I didn’t feel like I was redlining it and was comfortable. It gets a bit steeper at the top, but not for long and not too bad.  Then started the decent.

I am not a good descender, but I try!  Lots of people passed me on the way down, but I got down in decent order for me.  Almost before I knew that we were down, we hit a 2.2km climb. This was a bit steeper, but still fine. Someone in the crowd had a strange wind up whooping machine, it was hella annoying!  I was pleased to be just passing through.

The decent continued with only a brief restbite for a steep cobbled road with was a funny shock to the system!  I managed to get back into some groups and for a while we made good time.  After about 85km the tunr off came for the 90km race, or your could go on and do the full 100km version. I was amazed at how many people took the 90km way out!  It’s only 10km and 1 steep ass hill difference!

So to Mammolshain, home of the Mammolshainer Stich.  The total climb was about 2.5km, but the bad bit was only about 200m somewhere in the middle. I got out of the saddle, but decided to see if I could spin sitting down. I could, so I cruised to the top of the steepest bit being careful not to sprint, the climb didn’t end here!

When the climb actually did end, it was all downhill or flat to the end. The last few km clicked away in a decent group and except for there being no sign to say that we had to turn to the finish right at the end, it was all easy going.

I crossed the line in 3h15m with a 30.6km/h average.  Not great by anymeans, but okay.