Wow! NO, not the 8 hours 4 mins i was running up over around up and down the Dolomites in Italy, but the 5 hours drive to get there from munich through both the mountain ranges of the Alps and Dolomities. Man thats was a tiring drive. We started (Mimi&Me) at 1.30 on friday afternoon with the race starting at 05.30 the next morning, so no time to acclimatise to the area. As soon as we arrived in the town of Foldo Di Zoldo at around 6.30 in the evening i had to go collect my number and basically arrange and set everything up for the really early start the next morning.
Waking up on the saturday morning at 3.50am i have a shower and begin to slowly, mentally prepare myself for the assult i will take to my body. I know its going to be around 8-9 hours on my calculations, and as i have not done enough training for this race i decide that its all about making it, not heroic, just a tactical controlled run.
We reach the start line around a half hour before (5am) and its a fantastic sight, with the backdrop of the dolomites right around us, i mean literally hanging all around like giants standing tall looking down at what must look like a colony of some of the fittest ants in the world, buzzing around in the half darkness half light valley.
i take up my position in the starting line around 3/4 the way back and meet two american guys, who i think are ex Marines: ' we are sticking together the whole race, hes a great down hiller and im a great up hill climber' Christ i thought these two must be good how they are talking. '8 hours we are looking to do it' says one of them after i asked. Cool i though i could hang around with these two then. But upon the siren to start the race i was off! lol wasnt fast but something told me at the split sound of the siren that with there being 3,800 vertical metres in the race, a postion at least in the middle is needed otherwise your stuck behind queues of people trying to make it up and eventually during the race everyone is going to run at the same pace. so i went slightly ahead and found myself in between 40-50 place( i found out on the race splits times later)
Immediately and ruthlessly we are faced with a 850 meter hill straight up. I sit right away in behind another runner ( my tactics today:) and i only have to watch his feet 30 cms in front of me saving me energy of looking where im going. This continues until the first checkpoint at 14kms. 1hour45mins for 14kms!! Quickly reloading at the station and refilling my already depleted 1 litre of fluids and make off again to face another 600meter climb and so the same story unfolds again sitting in behind another runner until he gets too slow and i switch to another up ahead or a passerby getting his second wind. I can honestly say upon reaching the halfway point at 27kms and at the very top of the mountain at 31kms and 2300meters i was feeling real good!:) i had controlled my water and salt levels excellently my food intake was being constantly looked after with energy bars i had in my backpack and small rations i could get from the fuel staions. All round my tactics where working briliantly, even my highest Heart rate was only 148 at it highest( also the highest it ever got:) Quickly after we reached the top at 31kms we had many super quick technical 3-4kms downhill sprints. The runners in this race( 95% Italian) were unreal downhillers! i would consider myself a decent downhiller but these guys were running down this very very technical rocky mountain at unbelievable speeds, it was to be respected, but only for a short time as i had to keep pace with these guys.
The dolomites are a very rocky terrained mountain range so the possibilty for injury was high and therfore 100% concentration was required at all times especially since the trails were only wide enough for 1 person and a quese of fast runner breathing down your neck behind,literally so close!
With every downhill of course came another climb and after that downhill spring i found myself at the bottom of a ski-lift station, to which i was to run direct under it to the top! heart breaking stuff after burning it very hot on the down hill. My quads were throbbing with the pain of that last downhill and now this 750 metre climb. Luckily i'm decent climber;) and preceded to drop in behind another climber and get my energy back an refuel which i always did on the climbs as its easier at the slower pace. This was coming up on 45kms and 3600 vertical meters done only 8kms left and i knew this was the last climb... as there was a sign at the bottom beside the ski lift station,nailed to a tree stating - this is the last accent of the Race, if you want to cry now is the time!' lol ill laugh now but i felt like crying at the time:) so 200 metres still to the top then an 8kms downhill sprint to the finish.I pull out my last reserve, a redbull packed in my backpack swig it down and feel the immediate effects as happens when one is so drained.
We reach the top and the climber before has really felt the climb and stops at the final water station at 2100metres (awesome view! i was tempted to take it in myself, but on seeing him stop i decided to run past the station and start my downhill sprint cruising at 3.40 mins a km .All was going super, but eventually even the redbull had had enough after 4kms and i really started to feel the hard hits my legs were taking from this downhill pace, but i knew the finish at this pace would only be around another 20 mins so i pushed on to the cheers of the super locals who had trekked up the mountain to cheers on the racers. at the last 3 kms the downhill turned to a swamp due to the torrential rain the days before and this made for really hard running(even harder than the many encounters on snow on the high mountains) Coming out of the swamp an absolute mess i come into a small village with tons of locals cheers and pointing which direction... only 1 kms on the tarmaced roads, a quick look behind.. noone there.. i cruise at a comfortable pace to the last 500metres to see another very steep uphill run to the finish 'you got to be shitting me' laughing i jogged up it and noticed My girlfriend near the finish line with a video on me:) what a great feeling, as i approach the finish line i notice the first female runner is just arriving in few seconds ahead of me.. i though about taking over and she sensed it, so i shouted in german' ill not take over you can go easy over the line' dont think its very sportsmanship take take over anyone on the last few hundred metres.
Over the line i walk casually warm applause and meet the event organiser who hugs me and gets a photo taken with me and him and the other organiser... Done 8hours 04mins
finisher prize? a new pair of trail running shoes! awesome! much more practical than a medal.
i decline a massage as i cant be bother waiting and we must drive immediately North to Germany for Mimis Tri-Athlon the next morning.
So after it all, here on the monday morning in starbucks again, no injuries little bit of cramps but not much, im pretty impressed how i conducted myself in the race. For having only 2 1/2 months training i only wanted to finish and get those finishers shoes:) but having not gave everything during the race and got in the top 30 places is an awesome achievement i think.
We got to germany again that evening and Mimi ran her Tri-Athlon the next morning. she was aiming for 2.00hours for the 750 metre swim,24kms bike ride and 5kms run, but came in 17 mins earlier than expected! she smashed it! was awesome really:)
So a really positive sporting and travelling weekend for us:)
Now my concentration has to come back to my German studies,with one eye on my next race as yet not decided, but sometime in july.
MAY 2013 1ST PLACE 4,8KMs NÜRNBURG
So my first race of the year, and i toke 1st Place!:)
I must Admit to being unbelievably nervous on the run-up to the race, but a mixture of yoga and meditation really helps bring back the balance of thought which is often lacking on the run up to such things as races, exams & interviews.
I was invited to run this race this year by a new running friend i met last year through my girlfriends mum. Harry Schmidt, a true gentleman in every way, and i dont say that too lightly. 'Harry the machine Schmidt' he is a 52 year old architect from a small city near nürnberg where my girlfriend comes from originally. Well harry ask me last year to run in this race to which i was not so keen, as i am more comfortable in the forest or sweating my way up the side of a mountain. But i accepted to do a stage of this 'landkreislauf' A race consisitng of 10 stages of which i was to run one for harrys marathon team MTP (Marathon Team Pignitz) I ran that last year and finished in 11th place. Respectable i thought considering i was in the 3rd team.
Coming back to this years race again. Harry emailed me again asking to do this years race, and then dropped it on me that he would be in the same stage as me! This made me as nervous as hell, as i consider Harry an idle of mine. On the morning of the race Harry picked me up to go to the race, and i could sense that he was exactly the same as me lol was really quite funny two grown men being so nervous sitting beside each other for the 30 mins drive to the race start:) Upon arriving there Harry told me this year i was in the teams 1st team,(and therefore there was a bit running on me) and he was in the 2nd (Harry had been out with an achilles tendon injury for three months before).
We start to warm up, Harry and me and and i can tell he is expecting something from me today, and the team as a whole. I was hoping for a top 5 finish, as i had a good five weeks training behind me. He had a piece of advice for me the none sprinter. ' Go out hard' he said. ' because when you get the lead its very difficult to over take anyone when we are running at sprint pace'
I really had no plan before other than to sit behind the front 3 or 4 and play it from there.
But Standing on the start line right at the front, (first time being in the elite section of a race start) all the other runners were telling each other how fast they normally run suchs distances, and me being in my semi mediative semi focused state paid no attention. Then one of the favorites asks me ;In German 'hey, how fast do you normally run this distance'? 'Ive no idea' i said honestly, to which they giggled:)
So waiting for the gun to go off 3,2,1 BANG! i'm off at the front with 4 others for 100 meters, not knowing what tempo i should go,until i notice a rather large guy beside me, im thinking, well if this guy is at my current tempo, then ive obviousy got to go faster!
So after around 300 metres there comes straight away a hill climb, this is my discipline, so i take off up that hill at a good clip, and dont look back, head down, concentrating on my form, only looking back half way through the race. When looking back i can see the 1st and 2nd favorites for the race are around 250 metres back, and they actually have pacers with them! it almost felt like they were cheating, but i didnt let it bother me, kicking on best i could. It was then though that, that early drive out of the start, started to take it's toll. 'Shit maybe ive went to hard here'!, 'ah its ok if them 2 behind catch me, i wanted top 5, ill slow the pace down a little get my breath back and have a charge again towards the end' I thought.
I kept going but with smaller steps, but what i didnt notice is the rolling hills on the course as uphill running is my forte i was soaring up them, like a surfer is when he sees a wave, attacking it like its second nature!
I have a quick glimpse on my watch and notice that there is only 1,1 km to go have a quick look back and surprisingly they are even a little further back! (Great to be a mountain runner i thought:) 1km now to go only 2 1/2 times round the 400metres track near my home 3mins30 max. i quicken and lengthen my stride, and my body responds 100% steaming down a hill to cheers from the fireservice who are controling the course. 'Which way left or straight ahead i point' assuming straight, LINKS! LINKS (Left in German) they yell sensing i was going straight. Danke! i yelled!
Turning this corner i see in the distance around 400 meters ahead the finish line lined left and right with noisy locals. I give it all for that 400 meters not noticing anyone, Bang! over the line and 1st place!! in 16.45.
From 11th place last year to 1st this year:) i lay on the ground catching my breath, and around 45 seconds later came the second place runner, the favorite and congratulated me, and said unbelieveable pace, how did i hold it the whole race!?!? Incidently, that second place for that guy meant that his team which dominates always, finished the day with 6 out 7 stage wins: Sorry Marathon team Lindelburg;) MTP MTP MTP! I was happy to learn that later at the prize giving:)
A fine day was had later that evening, never had to buy a beer and collected a glass trophy:)
Our team collectively finished 4th... 1 point beat us from 3rd place.. ah well.
Now is a little bit of recovery for few days then concentrating on my next race:) Hope yous will follow along:)
When i think back to saturdays race ( sitting in starbucks now on the following monday:) a quote 'springs' to mind....
'GO HARD OR GO HOME!'
Thanks for reading:) and till next time
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Steven done the last 30days
Running 24h33min - 185 kms
Cycling 09h18min - 140 kms
Swimming 01h0min- 1.5kms
Football 01h35mins- 3.5kms
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**Offical Training Partner.
Races this year-
4,8km Sprint HM unknown
54kms 3,800 HM/Vertical Metres
*Munich To the top of Germany.
123km, 2,600 HM/Vertical metres
Munich to the Top of Zugspitze
10pm -4th august
*pitztal iceberg marathon-Highest marathon in europe
42km 2,600 HM/Vertical metres
53kms 2,300 vertical metres
24th August, Austria
***Others to be included****