Only a halfmarathon – but no walk in the park. I had hoped the rather cold weather would last one day longer – but no, right on halfmarathon Sunday (April 25th) the sun started blazing and temperatures started to go up right from the morning (over 20 °C around noon).
No reason to stop
And maybe it was not such a good idea to run almost the whole route 10 days before (into a cool evening) and two times 10 k over the next few days plus some biking. Plus too much coffee (acidity). So on half marathon day my legs felt like lead most of the time and with my body weight and the heat I was run-walking at an ultra-marathon pace, happy just to finish within the cut off under 3 hours (last year: 2:31). I had even played with the thought of only doing part of the half marathon and stop at my place at km 14, and run the last third by myself in the evening. But I was taking it easy and chatting to some other runners at the back of the pack every now and then – and there was no good reason to stop. People were just so nice – encouraging, cheering, offering food, water etc. even outside the aid stations – how could you drop out? I always love this feeling of togetherness in events like these. You don`t just run by yourself. You always run “together”.
Live saving showers
I had to walk more than usual, though, and took the time to get myself completely drenched by a couple of cold showers offered by people with their garden hoses, one on Philosophenweg and another one up on Schloss Wolfsbrunnenweg a mile or so before the Castle. They really helped me survive. Near the finish, a helper started to pace me on his bike, telling me we would make the cut off of 3 hours. I had not paid any attention to time, but was actually positively surprised. I finished just behind a 70 year old runner who I had overtaken when he had gotten cramps, but he outsprinted me in the end (my net time was still faster than his, however…).
Swimming definitely is easier….
At the same time, the 6 and 10 day Self-Transcendence Race in New York was still going on (this year the weather was extremely hard for the runners over there). Still I would really love to have the experience of a multi-day race one day. Longer distances have a totally different quality, but with running my physical was always too limited. That is why the Channel tempted me, 25 years ago. And now again. Who knows, maybe in a couple of years? My next humble goal is 80 km (my running distance for September) in Basel on May 8/9.
You might have thought I am training so hard I have no time to post – not quite.
Concentrating more on my new business this year I just don’t have as much time and energy for training as before – even though I love it as soon as I get into the water or out into nature. I enjoy arm- and leg-training using fins in the lake, backstroking (for safety reasons) in the Neckar when the pool is too crowded on a hot day, or the luxury of having a pool almost to myself on a Dover-weather day (quite frequent, lately, except that the pool closes on a complete rain day).
However, my best discipline right now is eating ice cream, and I have gained the weight that would have helped me last year – but I am not even sure I will need it right now. At the same time, the weight makes running more difficult. So I am thinking: last year too much training and too little ice cream, this year vice versa, and next year the middle path.
Realistically, my big triathlon will take place in 2010. (Some friends were right last year, but I didn’t want to accept it.) By then I will be able to train again with more one-pointedness, enthusiasm and intensity and not depend on others too much financially. It will be our team’s 25th Channel swimming anniversary, maybe a great way to celebrate. Still I want to keep up a good training level this year.
On the weekend of Pentecost (May 30th to June 1st) I did my first “long” swim this year: 3 hours in the outdoor pool – and I not only got a bad sunburn but most likely also a sunstroke, since I felt weak and almost fainted in the evening and was shivering in the pool the next day. It seems the sun is getting more aggressive, others felt the same. It was great to swim together with old Channel friends though, like in “olden days”. Speeds you up immediately.
Last year I did 12 hours indoors in February, 5 hours outdoors May 1st, and longer swims starting June. Looking back to 1985 when I only started training for the Channel beginning of May, I felt that now with more experience it may even be fine to start long swims only in June, but it may just be enough for a comfortable Zurich lake swim. The only thing is, the Zurich lake is booked out. Maybe a long training swim in Dover in August – just to keep it up? Or hope for last minute cancellations for Zurich.
My Swiss teammate Vedika, who has swum the Channel 5 times, once did it on the spur of the moment, because the weather was good and all swimmers had gone. She had been in Dover only to help – and then ended up doing her 4th crossing, with just the Zurich lake 2 weeks earlier as “preparation”. (So now she is afraid of going to Dover even as a helper – it might end up too costly!)
After 6 hours of running through the night - nicely showered and in fresh clothes
Basel 12/24 h race, May 9/10th
Last year my long distance events came naturally – 12 hours indoor swim in February in Zurich, 6 hour race in March in Nürnberg, Heidelberg halfmarathon in April, Mannheim marathon and 12 hours of Basel in May etc.
This year I just did the Heidelberg halfmarathon and Basel. But instead of 12 hours I only did 6 hours in Basel – the slowest six hours ever, I believe (don’t mention the distance, even if it was worth 3rd place for the ladies 50-60). How could I run the hilly and difficult Heidelberg halfmarathon in 2:33, but take over 3 hours for a flat halfmarathon 2 weeks later in Basel? My excuse to stop after 6 hours was that I was needed back in Heidelberg for translation in the evening and my ride was leaving early, but my feet hurt so much and I felt so heavy that I was grateful for that excuse. Plus it served as my first 6 hour run of the year. I did enjoy running slowly and steadily throught the night, but I was happy not having to run in the blazing sun later in the morning. When I look at the photos (click on the albums to see the photos) of the race, however, I am immediately inspired to do better or more next time! Another 12/24-hour-race in Berlin in July is beckoning – if I can only up my running discipline!