How I re-started running
Having been a sportman from the youngest age (I rowed from the age of 10), running always was some kind of parallel activity when weather did not allow going on the water. My father also regularly ran and I occasionally accompanied him and his fellows club. But I never really took this physical activity seriously. Running was something I totally abandonned from the moment I became a student and eventually started working. Not too much the best morphology I always told myself (I'm rather short in legs, and despite not fat I weight 78kgs for 174cm !), I'm an endurance guy but rather the biking/rowing type all in strenght.
Things changed recently. My timetable got so packed from the beginning of the 11/12 academic year that even finding biking time has become a pain. I got very fit at the end of the summer '11 but gradually lost my condition till the Christmas holidays.
Once by some kind of coincidence, on a gloomy January day, I had cycled to work with my old running Adidas. Time to get home, I sat on the bike and noticed the flat tire. I couldn't fix it and had to take the bus, to which I ran... and see it going without me for a story a couple of seconds too late. Next one in 40mn. What a day, everything had pissed me off. In a stroke of mood, I dropped everything I had near my office chair except keys, and ran home. It was (and still is) 10km far and I had not trained this distance since ages, but it felt so good.
I eventually felt pain in my legs for the entiere following week, but thought the experience was positive, so I decided to renew it the week after. Then the next, and the next. My training schoedule survived successfully the cold wave that struck central Europe in February. During these first running commutes, I was doing the ten kilometers in about one hour, minus the couple of traffic lights. Coping with the tight timetable, I sometimes even ran from work to the kindergarden where my son was, where I had previously parked the car ! But one of the main issues was cramps I regularly felt in the tibia muscle, which I managed to improve partially only by putting a newer softer inner sole.
The Half marathon
March came, and some neighbour fellows chatted about the half marathon taking place around the mountain Śleża in the end of the month. This event is the second in popularity in the area after the Wrocław marathon that takes place in the autumn. Trying a half marathon was challenge in a corner of my mind, as the distance - only the double - was "à priori" affordable, so I joined the unformal fellows team of "Los Bieganeros", without knowing if I would manage to complete it withing two hours, knowing there is also a 300m high pass half-way. As the post-training pain diminished I doubled the frequency of trainings from March till the big event. Perfect weather, record amount of participants (3000!), great party, and above all an unexpected time crowned this great day (1h53, but 5mn longer than my teammates).
After the half-marathon, and the biking season approaching, I decided it would be a big waste to stop training and loose all the benefit from it. I decided to keep running, and taking part in such occasional events. I ran during our Easter trip to Crete, as well as the May long week end near Austria.
Curiosity led me to searches on the internet about duathlons and triathlons involving my other pet activity, mountain biking, and de facto often trail-running. My brother in law also is into trail-running, and regularly hearing about his achievements combined to the fact I am myself a mountain-enthusiast, convinced me that finding a new pair of shoes suiting various types of surfaces could be worth. I tried some pairs of shoes on the speedwalk of some shop, who revealed my feet were slightly pronators, which considerably reduced the choice, and launched my quest of new shoes fitting overpronators. Researches converged to the Asics and I had to choose between the Gel 1170 and Gel Trabuco. My choice went into the Trabuco, a light trail shoe that also allows flat running.
The first running commutes were a real revelation, I saved more than 5mn on a 10k, felt much more efficient, and no pain at all in tibias, which allowed solicit more my legs with a longer and stronger stride. An interesting fact is that I always felt more comfortable breathing every three steps with the old Adidas, and moved into a more powerful 3-2 with the Asics. The weekly running commutes, that I sometimes felt like a duty, became a genuine pleasure. I kept running twice a week and sometimes more, seeing my average on a 10k constantly improving.
At the Races...
Other races came in May and June. Despite all my fellows withdrawed to an initially planned 10 miles race in the end of May, I decided to take part in it, the distance (16k) being in the same scale than a half marathon, to measure my improvement. The "race feeling" always boosts, and my final result beyond all my expectations ! Being under 74mn made me realize that running a half marathon such as Śleża under 1h40 would be a well feasible achievement.
June led me to another challenge, with two back-to-back 10k races in the same week-end. A charitative race on Saturday in my beloved Wrocław parks, and another one in the nearby Oława on Sunday, on the invitation of my Los Bieganeros teammates. They had heard of my 16k time, kind of jealous that a guy previously 5mn behind them was now able to perform supposedly so well. What's more challenging them the day after a previous 10k race was even more disturbing ! As for me, I had ran the 10k commutes in nearly 45mn some days before and my personal secret goal was to break this symbolic limit. Saturday's race, once more, went beyond all my expectations. Carried by a group with a steady pace which I managed to follow till the end, I broke the 44mn by one second ! Legs were heavier on Sunday. My fellows who had initially planned a 48mn run revised downwards the goals, seing in me the man to beat. I managed a 45mn run, feeling well only in the second half, but leaving my closest teammate 1mn behind !
I slowed down a bit the running, partly due to a slight pain in the right feet that appeared after the two races, partly due to the biking season. But I stuck the once-per-week basis, despite warm temperatures sometimes made it difficult. I started training on genuine trail-running terrain as well, focusing to the next goal, a cross-triathlon in August : Terratlon (1k/25k/12k), in the beautiful mountainous land of the Beskids. Since this event included mostly mountain biking, and the story was worth a long writing, it is available in the separate text whose link is above.
Again some new gear
The first were bought during a peak of "unactivity" during the summer. The auction on internet was too good to be true, a pair of new Asics Gel Trainer for an incomparable price.
Before that, I have been telling myself that using my trail Trabucos mostly on asphalt would be a bit a waste, and that if I decided to continue running, a proper pair for hard surfaces would be good. I had also popped into the Asics Gel Trainer by random once in the Decathlon sport shop, and felt in love at first sight. I mean, not for their color, which I find a bit too bright (however ideal for running safe at night), but their comfort, identical to the Trabuco, and their incredible light weight.
If I ran any marathon, these were the shoes. And indeed, while purchasing them, I already put a first finger into the gears...
The second is a Garmin watch. It is freshly purchased, I didn't have it yet for the marathon. But I also had this idea in a corner of my mind. So far I had a Nokia phone able to record GPX routes, but it was not very much up to the job concerning running. As I had to give it back changing my job, the need for such a watch took form. And again, an unbelievable auction made my dream true for less than hundred Euros...
The Wroclaw MarathonMy training schedule had started to revive as soon as the lazy summer break had ended: in two weeks was taking place the Terratlon cross-triathlon. Between daily bike-commutes ridden full speed, to regenerate my cycling power, occasional swimming sessions, I ran every two or three days, but mostly short distances, and focusing on rough terrain.
When the Terratlon duedate passed, after a little break, I synchronized my running schedule with the two team-mates who were eventually my marathon partners: Edward and Doman, living few streets away from my block. One evening, Edward drop me a mail : "Eric, there is already 3950 subscriptions and the official limit is 4000 ! Hurry up if you want to do this Wrocław marathon". So I registered. No step back was possible from now ! Suspense grew as every day of the remaining month was counted down: my friends were taking this challenge very seriously, and hooked me into the game.
We ran three times a week, once on Tuesdays, usually a fast 10k, once on Thursdays a more gentle 15k, and an even more gentle 20 or 25k during week-ends. Which, I must say, did not attend as faithfully as they did : I skipped the Sunday trainings in couple of occasions such as the Biały Kosciół MTB race, or the biking week end in the Beskids. "You're deviating from the target, Eric, they told me wisely. Sure your areobia is improving, but a preparing a marathon is all about hardening legs for a beginner, not endurance in which you're certainly ready."
Doman and Edward, who have a very similar fitness, started their marathonian odyssey a year before, with the 2011 marathon of Wrocław, done as an experiment. Since then, they have ran two other events in Poznan, where they broke the 4h limit, and in Cracow during the spring, where they improved again their individual performance, breaking the 3h50. Meantime, they acquired Garmin watches and various other running gear. Wrocław 2012, the return in the home city, was taken very seriously by them, and their tacit goal was to break the 3'45 limit, even if they did not claim it openly.
Since we often ran together from the moment we started to prepare this marathon, and consequently dedicated many hours discussing such topics, my fitness level and ability to run it along with them or not, was a recurring topic, raising a number of questions and arithmetic equations involving several factors related to our previous achievements.
I had been slower than them in the initial half-marathon with them in April, but it was the only time during the year. I still had the old shoes and still was a beginner then. But all my other results, on shorter distances, including the 10k in Oława where I directly competed with Edward, showed I had done far more than filling the gap. What's more, I was owning now a third pair of shoes, the light Asics Gel trainer, making me even more powerful on hard surfaces. The question was: How would I deal on a long distance with the fatigue factor.
Some say that a rough way to estimate a marathon time is to multiply a half-marathon achievement by two and add half an hour to it. Another more sophisticated way is to use this calculator, provided by a friend of mine:
Assuming I would run a half marathon in 1h40 (basing on my 16k from May), the first method returned 3h50, and the second 3h45 (Eventually, you'll see, these predictions turned to be quite realistic). The week before the event, we only ran a peaceful 10k on Tuesday, and another even quieter one on Thursday, to give time for our organisms to regenerate and be at an optimal level for the D-day. Saturday evening, we went to pick our numbers at the registration office, and got all formalities done.
We woke up at 6:am on Sunday, and abundantly ate. Well, we ate different things. It turned out for example that Doman ate spaghetti with tuna, but I would never do something like that in early morning. I ate lots of bread toasts with jam, a big bowl of milk with cacao as usual. I tool couple of cereal bars plus few isotonic drinks nearer before the start. I had bought also few of these gel tubes full of carbon, vitamins and sugar, which I heard so often about. Two of them were in my pocket, three others, along with plastic glasses of water, given to my wife and my mother, who by some chance had planned a holiday in Wrocław during this period.
The race route was going twice through the historical city centre of Wrocław in less than an hour of interval (km28 and km36, the worse part of a marathon). The prospect of being cheered up by my son, wife and mum was ideal to boost my motivation and present myself well at these key moments of the event ! At 8, we all met at the Wrocław Olympic stadium, where the start was given, and the finish line located. Besides Edward and Doman, our team (Los Bieganeros) counted three other members: Marcin, the brother of Doman, who lives in Poznan, Dominik, who ran with us the half-marathon in April, and Agnieszka, colleague of Doman who we failed to meet before the start. Edward, Doman and me were wearing the same sleeveless jersey, despite theirs was red and mine navy blue. This is a very good brand from and acquaintance of Edward, KWARK, 100% handmade in Poland.
Dominik and Agnieszka were focusing on breaking the 4h limit, and stood few sectors away behind us at the start. Marcin, whose plans were the most ambitious (he is tall and significantly fitter), stood with us. After a first start for the favorites, the signal was given for the rest of the almost 5000 competitors. We moved slowly out of the stadium and rushed onto the streets, under a grey sky, without wind and ideally fresh air for such event. Our strategy to position ourselves in a quite early sector, in order to avoid the traditional traffic jam of the ruck, paid out.
The first 15km passed quite quickly, and all factors on our watches showed we were well into the bracket to achieve the 3h45 plan. The run was feeling kind of unreal. Despite distance was indicated every kilometer, the itinerary was new and unknown. They had decided, for this jubilee 30th edition of the event, coinciding with the very mediatized soccer UEFA Euro 2012, a brand new route: the marathon was visiting a new piece of fresh motorway, then a diversion to run around the above mentioned soccer Stadium, then back to the city centre, a triangle to the south, again the centre, and the finish at the Olympic stadium.
Various things were dispatched along the way to make the run as less monotonous as possible. First, on the wide motorway portion, many bikes were seen accompanying runners and providing strategic advices to them. Near the stadium, rockbands, cheerleaders, and musicians of all sorts where seen here and there. We turned back while reaching 18km, and I found myself unusually fresh for a distance I rarely run. Edward and Doman, constantly monitoring their heart rate, were also feeling good. We passed the mid-distance ideally fresh, still smiling and posing funnily when pictured by cameras.
As we ran back to the centre, I kept constantly an eye on tram stops dispatched along the avenue: digital timetables displayed the time, and I was looking for the predicted moment, more exactly ten past twelve, when we would pass the Helios cinema in the centre, the first agreed place to meet my small crowd of supporters. As we ran past the corner, I saw them in delire: Dorota was cheering me up, my mum as well in french, like I have rarely seen, and Mikolaj, barely understanding what was going on, ran to me with two of the tubes of gel in his hands, screaming "Dad ! it's dad !".
Then came the long triangle-shaped diversion through the south of the city, during which sun appeared. The scenario of the day finally loomed when the first bounce of the race occurred near 2/3 of the distance. As we stopped to an umpteenth refreshments pit-stop, Edward spent more time than usually refreshing his face, and as we started back, it became more and more obvious he was struggling to follow the initially agreed tempo, and slowly faded out few meters behind us. Doman kept strong, and as I was wondering if we should wait for our friend to support him, he asked "How are you feeling Eric ? It's fine with me, let's go ahead !".
We abandoned Edward and ran as a duo towards the city centre again, both motivated by the apparition of our supporters (Doman's familly was also expected on the way). We met his wife and daughters a bit before the market place, which boosted him. Few minutes later, I noticed Dorota, my mother and Mikołaj for the second time, but due to the dense crowd and narrow width, it was very sudden, and kind of too brief. "Go Eric go !".
We left the market place on the north and started running the six last kilometers to the finish. Doman's cheerful face had given place to winces of pain. "Feeling OK Doman ?" I asked. "Not really. But I'll manage, we're almost there", he replied. The boost of the passage through the centre evidently left sequels. On my side, I was feeling better than ever, despite starting to feel some genuine fatigue in the legs. But our pace was significantly fading, which allowed me to rest somehow a bit. As we ran towards the large Sienkiewicz avenue, Doman ran really slow. I asked once more for news, and it became obvious the difference between our states ordered me to fly with my own wings till the finish.
The apparition of the KM39 sign seemed to coincide with a tacit agreement. I looked backwards to him, and he nodded down, seeming to say "don't wait". I literally took off for some kilometer, overtaking a mass of people, euphoric and telling myself I would do so till the end. However, I found KM40 particularly long to wait for. Km 41 even more, but the end was near. We tend to forget that a marathon is not forty kilometers, but forty two... this extra bit killed me. At 41.5, I suddenly felt a strong pain in the muscles of my thoracic cage, something I never experienced in my life before. "Calm down", I told myself. I stopped overtaking people and ran quietly into the stadium. The digital clock was showing 3h46.
Knowing we previously had abandoned a lot of advance on the initial 3h45 forecast, it was quite pleasant to see I had regained most of it during my final sprint.
I looked for Doman and Edward at the finish line. Doman seemed to have recovered quite quickly from his Km39 crisis, as he came less than a minute later. Edward five minutes more. Marcin was also freshly arrived three minutes before me. Dominik and Agnieszka both broke the four hours by few seconds. All six of us had achieved personal initial expectations, and those not running for the first time beaten their personal records. Edward and Doman were kind of shocked by the scenario of the end, I realized they did not expect me so much to hold their pace, and even less to sprint away as I did.
Thinking back, I think I could have ran this marathon significantly faster. I ran their pace as this first marathon was a kind of experiment, in which I could verify everything went well. My aerobia and heart rate had been absolutely quiet all way long. My muscular fatigue was average, but most of all the length of the effort within time had affected by feet, ankles and knees. I am tempted to argue that having ran a little faster would perhaps have better distributed my fatigue, soliciting more my endurance and stamina, but shortening de facto the total time length and then the toughness. I think I can fairly pretend that 3h45 was well within my possibilities, and maybe 3h40. But only hypothetical new marathons will tell.
As I sat to untie my shoes, I barely was able to stand again by myslef ! The plan of the rest of the day was to get back to the city centre where mum, wife and son were impatiently waiting for me, and eat with them. I waited for a hypothetical tram that never came, due to... circulation being blocked by police officers, the marathon not being finished despite most people were walking though their sixth hour of "race" ! So I walked back to the centre, some 5km on foot in the streets. First upset, this walk finally had re-healed effects in my legs. I ate with them, learning by the way that Mikołaj had been ill all day long, having diarrhea between my two passages in the centre during the race ! We all went home by bus.
I felt ok till the evening, but it was only the day after I could observe the real extent of the damages. My skin was burnt under my armpits, and terribly painful. I had also caught a fair sunburn on my neck and face, despite the cloudy sky. But most of all, I was almost unable to walk. Or rather, able to move myself only on flat terrain. Stairs, especially going down, was a real pain ! It lasted two or three days.
But the worst was not even this. Feeling pain in a place quite uncomfortable to explain, what was my horror to discover a vein had become abnormally prominent, which considerably complicated some daily tasks that you can imagine. A visit to the doctor concluded to a suppositories prescription, along with a forced break of at least two weeks. Fortunately, biking wasn't too affected by this issue and I could cycle while being on holidays in France during the couple of weeks after. Of all the sequels I had this was the scariest. I had no idea if and how it was related to the marathon, but here is another proof of how marathons are a special effort, more than just a race, but a genuine ordeal for the whole human organism.
Edward and Doman prepared to another marathon taking place only a month later. As they asked whether I would join or not, and while explaining the lack of training due to being in France, I teased them telling I would run the next one after they beat my time ! Doman and Edward kept training on the same training schedule till the Poznan marathon. I must believe having ran a previous marathon a month before is a major factor in the preparation, and that my cheeky sentence provided another source of motivation. In a race scenario which seemed to be a repeat of Wroclaw without their respective crisis, they not only they dusted my time, but also well below the initially sought 3h45 limit (3h43 exactly). I was fearing Doman would able to achieve it, but not do much Edward who had more than five minutes to get back. The lat argues being particularly sensible to the sun, which played against him in Wrocław.
So, when will I run my next marathon ?
Most of all I'm not so sure I want to be a regular marathon runner. While we all were suffering after the race, some acquaintance of my friends, tall and skinny, smelling ointment and sprays of all sorts, and evidently fresher, was chatting with them. "I know a very good medicine that helps for this and this. Yeah, really, it works, you guys should try it". Just listening to his preaching gave me nausea. For me, running marathons will never be a goal in itself. Marathon champions look awful, anorexic. I'm short legged and heavy, my running style is rather in strength. I'll run perhaps some more, but I will not focus on marathons. I have better achievements to do on shorter distances: half-marathons, trail running, duathlons, triathlons...
Assuming I will repeat the experience, I am not sure I want to run Wrocław a second time, even if I enjoyed it. Temperature in this year's edition was OK, but 2011 had 28'C ! In September, it's kind of too early before the end of the season, and monopolized a lot of time in training which I could have used for more seasonal activities like biking.
Cracow takes place in the spring, but paradoxically, despite taking place in Poland's cultural capital, the marathon (organization and popularity) is said to be so-so. Some say that one's organism needs a year to regenerate between each marathon, some say less time. I don't know in which category I am.
Poznan, despite smaller city, owns a more popular event, which gathered up to 6000 runners in 2012, with an even more festive atmosphere. It takes place in October, in a better moment. And, for sure my friends will have run all marathons before and I can make sure to measure myself to them in their optimal form, not risking to see my time dusted after-while ! We'll see in 2013...
- Since this is a portal dedicated to biking, I posted a limited amount of marathon photos, but the whole gallery (which I purchased) is here.
- Edward also wrote a very nice report of this event under his angle, but only in Polish
II Bieg Bystrzycki
After a long sabbatical post marathon break, I progressively felt the need to restart running again. There was a last small event before the end of the year, again in Kąty Wrocławskie (April's 10 miles race), rather a cross race, along the scenical banks of the river Bystrzyca. Autumnal atmosphere and slippery leaves for the II Bieg Bystrzycki. The preparation for this was a little chaotic with irregular running trainings, and I was a little disappointed with my time, but the terrain was a little excuse.
The winter 2012-2013 was the longest many people in Wrocław remember. For me it was for sure. No cold wave but countless snowy episodes, foggy/rainy weather, wet dirty snow remaining on walksides, mud in the parks. Not enticing conditions for running outside. That year was also the first, due to working in a new company, where I was given the Multisport card, which allows against a modest sum every month a free entrance in most indoor sport facilities (gym, squash, pools, climbing walls, etc).
And so I began, and soon abused, of indoor running. I found indoor running quite interesting and enriching at the beginning. Running at a constant pace helps managing the effort along the time, and improve the technique by constantly looking for the most energy-saving stride. Sometimes mirrors allow watching himself and correct few details.
Soon adopted the speed of 13km/h as my training standard, finding 12 too boring.
In December, feeling more and more bored, I decided to challenge all of my best times on the treadmill. I once ran a 10km at the speed of 14km/h, which made me achieve it in 43mn, one mn less than Bieg dla Macka in June. I finished soaked and out of breath, all my body in fire, but satisfied.
Later on I launched the assault on the 16km (10 miles), settled on 13.3km/h (4:30mn/km) which made me do it in 72mn, two less than Kąty Wrocławskie. Same state in the end.
Just before Christmas I went for the main meal, a treadmill half marathon. Speed 13km/h. Fortunately TVs were showing an exciting handball game with Poland playing. Because after one hour I started to feel extremely bored ! But I reached the distance in the last minutes before the closure of the gym under the eyes of the cashiers wondering what kind of weirdo I was. Time 1:37, but I felt kind of ridiculous...
Ironically, and by some coincidence next day was the beginning of a long cold that kept me away from running some ten days.
During the end-of-year holidays, another once-in-a-lifetime jogging in an exceptional place, on the Catalunyan Costa Brava.
Bieg dla WOŚP Żórawina
The trainings resumed just after I recovered from the cold, and I restarted to train intensively during the Christmas and Sylvester break. The new year was an occasion to watch the calendar for the events and elaborate a draft. With, as an opening of the season, a race in the snow: Bieg dla WOŚP Żórawina ! (charity race)
By some coincidence, the length, not a round number, was identical to the previous one, 11.80km. However the snow, especially when slippery, is obviously a more difficult surface to run on, and I couldn't run any faster than a tempo I usually keep for much longer distances. It took me two minutes more than the November autumn cross.
Another huge break occurred in the trainings again in January when a sinusitis kept me stuck with high temperature for more than a week..
Despite the recent illness I tried to make the most the remaining week I had before another event, Wrocławska Dycha (Wrocław's ten). I manage to get there in decent form, despite not optimal, but I felt immediately the harm of not having ran outdoors for a too long time. Freezing temperatures made breathing more difficult, and during the second half, which is usually the one I feel the best, I rather started to feel tiredness, and survived till the finish line without being able to accelerate. The illness probably has some responsibility in it. The distance also showed 300m longer than announced. Subtracting one and half minute, it gives almost the same time than Bieg Koguta in June, the second of my back-to-back races. Well, that's not so dramatic...
Z Biegiem Natury
Instead of coming with its true weather, spring came at least in the calendar. In the middle of February, I took part to the shortest race I ever started, 5km. This was the fourth edition of a five events grand-prix, and the only one I could join on a Saturday, my wife being on holidays. I had made a try just before on the threadmill, in order to see how long I was able to hold the 4mn/km rate, which I barely managed for this distance. But the day of the race, conditions were far from this. Slippery ice, cold temperature, and thick fog for what looked more like a cross. I never felt really in the right tempo and ran out of breath the whole distance, fighting with Irena, a nice female runner who introduced herself at the end and became a facebook friend (I had finished just ahead of her during Wrocławska Dycha too !).
Next weeks were 3 or 4 of such short races on 6km and 10km, but I skipped them for various reasons: weather (still snowy !), too short, too muddy, or too nice weather not to use it for something else ! Like biking: season is coming.
The disasterThe disaster occurred during my second biking training of the season, with Cesar, a Spanish friend. While chatting, I felt stupidly in a puddle of mud. Skin totally scratched on the hip, but it turned out during next days that the worse wasn't there. First time I ran after that, I felt an unusual pain growing in the left knee, but I didn't pay attention as it occurred just at the end of the 10km. I was satisfied I held the tempo despite of the bike fall. But the pain did not go away so quickly. Next Saturday, second training with Przemek, another friend, this time outdoors. We ran up and down a hillet in the park. The pain suddenly popped back, much starker than before, during the run down. Next days, I felt it every time I walked down the stairs. I waited a couple of days more and decided it was time for a gentle training indoors before the half-marathon, planned in one week. Since recently, I am training indoors measuring the heart rate with my Garmin watch (I found how !). This was one of the weirdest trainings indoors. I got tired unusually quicker and the heart rate rose surprisingly fast. I did not make it for the whole distance without diminishing the speed prematurely, wet of sweating. Perhaps I'm ill, I told myself. In the end, the pain came back, and I realized I was not running symmetrically, and this was perhaps the reason of it. I gave up and went home sad, telling myself there should not be any more training before the half-marathon, if I really could run it.
Pain was not the only detail that made me hesitate to run the half-marathon of Ślęża, weather forecast was showing increasingly cold temperatures, and showed as cold as -7'C for Saturday. Another reason to at least not attempt a record. Since I already paid the registration long ago, I waited till the last moment to take the decision to run it or not. Feeling the knee better than before, and feeling boosted by the race atmosphere, I finally decided to go...
Ślęża half marathon, 2013
And came finally the so awaited event that last year put me into the running orbit.
Not less than 8 members of the now enlarged team of "Los Bieganeros" were taking part, including Doman and Edek, my most faithful partners with who I ran most times, and most direct concurrents. Time to show them who is the boss on half marathons, after I showed on a full marathon ! (despite meantime they performed better in Poznan in October).
The cold temperatures were compensated by a bright full sun, and the fields were still covered by remains of snow from the last week, that multiplied the luminosity ten times, and paradoxically diminished the feeling of cold, partly also due to the absence of wind.
The attendance of the event was slightly smaller than last year but not less great, and the start was a memorable moment. I had dressed with a thick jacket with long sleeves and hood. As expected Doman, Edek and me took a fast start, slaloming between slower concurrent, quickly finding ourselves running on a speed that varied between 5mn/km and 4:30 depending on the slope. We kept chatting and joking but indeed all curious about the dramatic untying of our inside battle that would inevitably take place during the second half...
After the eighth kilometer began the long run up to the Tąpadła pass, highest point of the race and point famous for being the first milestone for changing race scenarios. Some say "if you ran well to the Tąpadła pass, you won your half-marathon", despite not even 50% of the distance is covered.
And so I told myself, thus despite Edward and Doman began a fast downhill. No time for recovering a bit ! Times when we were good friends and amatorship is over... They want to show me, I want to show them... So I began to ran fast with them. But not so fast. I decided to spare a bit my knee and myself for the rest of the distance, leaving them few meters of advance. At the half of the downhill, where there is a temporary flat portion, they had some 50m of advance. I'll catch them back, I told myself, the rest is flat, remembering the so many treadmill indoor trainings, which I once aligned like a running robot, barely tired by the average speed that was ours today.
But, during the second and final portion of downhill, the knee pain invited herself to the party. I slowed down a bit more. Edward and Doman had a fair advance, but I told myself the hardest was done, and if the knee from now spared me with worries, I would still make it. I'm a man of fast finishes ! But it wasn't so. Thunder-lights occurred more and more frequently in the left knee. I decided to stop and stretch, swearing myself this is the ultimate stop before the final fight. This short session had a healing effect, but not for long. After I ran 500m more meters, I was the same state. Since a little group of photographers, supporters and policemen were gathered at the junction of a secondary road, and realizing I would not make it, I took the hardest decision. Nonsense to make it worse. I sat in the police van till the "broom-car" came, and I sat in it watching the last runners moving slowly during the never-ending rest of the race. I had to step down just before the line, which I walked, limping on one leg. People applauded, some screamed to me to run till the end and not give up, which made me feel so ashamed and embarrassed. A woman gave me the medal and congratulated me for "making it till the end".
As I walked, frozen, to the sport hall, where most people were gathered, I met Edward and Doman, who surprisingly ignored all of my calvary. "Eric, did you pass us or did you slow down ? You so suddenly became out of sight !". They had both finished in 1:41, a very good time given the temperatures. Later, Przemek who succeeded to finish his first half-marathon in less than two hours, like myself last year, asked me, puzzled, when did I "slow down", as he did not recognized me at any moment. I replied I was in the car...
The pain was so strong that after the return by car, I felt my leg like paralyzed. It remained painful for few days. A visit to the doctor indicated it was from the cartilages. I will pass a radio on April 11th (from which I don't expect much), and probably after a visit to the physiotherapist.
This is the end of the running for an undetermined period of time. The Cracow full marathon, planned for end of April, is cancelled. Next year... And since I paid a quite consequent amount of money for taking part in the MTB Beskidy Trophy stage race in end of May, I decided to stop all running activity till this duedate. And for few weeks, to limit as much as possible any intense physical activity to put all chances on my side. I've done too many stupidities the few days before the race, including doing the race itself.
Future will tell when I can run. Hopefully in June. There is a brand new race, called the Wrocław night half-marathon, June 22th. No slopes, totally flat. Who knows, this could be my chance this time...
I had pain in the knee for a couple of weeks, during which a week-end at the spa with thermal waters helped a bit. During this time, I re-started walking normally but avoiding to load too much my left knee, in which I was feeling the tickle of forthcoming pain every time I walked steps down.
Later, I did not feel pain at all but I avoided running for another month. The initial idea was to go to the doctor, then do an ultrasonography and then appointment to the physiotherapist. But the reality of Polish health system caught me back when hearing the soonest ultrasonography appointment in the public sector was next year, and "only" next month in the private. Oh well.
Building on the initial conclusion of the generalist doctor who confirmed it was cartilages, and basing on commonly spread statements in running forums, I started to take glucosamine pills and instead of running, did more swimming and eventually biking. By some coincidence, in the end of April, during the week-end of the Cracow marathon which I initially planned to run, I met Doman's brother who plan to run with them and who is, by some coincidence... physiotherapist. He kindly examined my knee and his conclusion was "Eric, time to start re-running progressively" !
Which I did for a couple of times, first indoor, then for a quick 5km outdoors, a week before "Bieg Firmowy".
"Bieg Firmowy" (the Firms's race) was the first edition of a 4km relay-race for 4 people teams from companies. Before the knee issue, I had suggested my firm, Atos, that we could register one, since many of us run. Eventually, I turned into a sort of "not-running" captain because of the knee. But the withdrawal of few candidates combined with the physiotherapist's advice to get back to the run, led me to join back the team.
Subscriptions were paid by our company and jerseys were ordered. Arek, Joanna and Dorota were the happy team that was to run with me. Of course the girls were a bit slower, but we would do it for fun.
Knowing that I would attend the event boosted my motivation to restart training.
We decided our common strategy would be to put the fast relayers, Arek and me, at the start and in the end. Probably for rewarding me for having the idea, I had the honor to be chosen as the finisher.
Arek turned to be the fastest of us and ran in a bit more than 16mn. Joanna and Dorota ran in 21 and 23 mn. I completed the job in 16mn54s, not as fast as Arek but not too bad for a return. And most of all I won a tight finish sprint on the line !
Atos was ranked 85th over 238 teams, and 30th over 136 in the male-female category. A fair result !
4km is not a very significant distance but this run was definitely an important achievement to boost my moral. During the time I did not run I realized how sad I had been and was missing running a lot. And, definitely, this day with my colleagues was a good moment with a great fun.
Cross Duathlon Żyrowik
The two weeks between Bieg Firmowy and the final stage of the Beskidy Trophy was the busiest moment of the year when it comes about the density of starts. Not only because of the injury but also the long winter and late spring that lead to postponed races in the spring (Wrocław Bike Marathon between others), I felt more than ever boosted to catch back the time. The day after Bieg Firmowy took place the MTB marathon of Złoty Stok, and a week after (4 days before stage 1 of Trophy) I could not resist attending a very local cross-duathlon near Zdzieszowice (Żyrowa exactly). There are very few multi-sport events involving MTB in Poland so I really wanted to try out this one. The whole story can be found here. Once more the running (9km in total) went well, which really relieved me especially looking at the elevation difference and the steep downhills I managed without problems.
Wrocław night half marathon
Two months before, during the tragedy of the Ślęża half marathon, I picked few paper ads about forthcoming events, and one of them puzzled me as well as all my friends. There was going to be a half marathon in Wrocław from this year, and what's more a night one ! Keeping a nice memory of last year's full marathon, that was for sure enticing, and I registered during the first day the webpage of the event appeared. There had been a lot of facebook warming-up and everyone was excited about it, so we had to register fast. The organizers had to increase several times the limit amount of people due to the unexpected success.
My colleagues Edward and Doman did not want to take part in it, too busy by the preparation of their first mountain marathon, but Agnieszka, Przemek and Jarek from our team, followed me, as well as a lot of running acquaintances in my surrounding.
As for me I was more motivated than ever. Time had come to take a revenge on the failed previous half marathon and fate, and possibly achieve a good time.
My running shape was a big mystery. Three weeks before I finished Beskidy Trophy, hardest competition of my life, and from the middle of the week after I had ran every two days, mostly slowly, in order to get used again to the running feeling. I knew my level of fitness was high like it had never been before, due to these extreme biking 4 days, but that was on the bike. How would it translate in the running shoes ?
The start was to be given at 8. A thick crowd, harassed by mosquitoes, was waiting impatiently at Wrocław's Olympic stadium, theater of last year's marathon. But, as all Garmin watches were ready, the start did not occur. At 8:10, speakers announced the start was delayed till 8:30. Przemek and me went to buy a drink. At 8:30, everyone came back, still in good mood. 8:30, 8:35, 8:45... still nothing. Organizers were visibly embarrassed. Speakers again: "There are a couple of little things to fix, we're doing really our best. Start at 9pm". Oh well. Stretching and drinking again. We could start feeling irritation amongst the running population waiting patiently in the grass. 9pm. Again. 9:10. "The start won't be later than 9:30", said again the organizers. Everyone was booing. Some started to pack and go home. 9:30. 9:35...
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we're afraid to announce that...". I did not hear the end. Everyone, at least those who did not go home (1/3 of the crowd did...) rushed. I did not understand and quickly started the watch. The first part was a way-and-back through one large avenue, and at the point we passed the race leaders, I noticed there was no Kenyans neither some kind of champions, only yelling folks, some of them bust naked and shaking their event-shirt in the air. It was not an ordinary race, something was not going round.
As we reached the Grunwaldski bridge, instead of running on the main avenue, on which the usual car traffic was there, people ran between the rails of the tram for few hundred meters. There was an incredible amount of police cars all around. I understood the race was not going round. However, booted by the frustration of the postponed start, I ran with the energy of anger, without tactic, without watching my average speed. I knew I was far too fast for a start but I didn't care as I was not sure if the race was taking place normally.
People ran however the official itinerary of the race as it had to be. Some places were more or less secured with plastic tapes, some not and we ran on the walkside. On junctions, policemen were stopping the cars to let us go, visibly overtaken by events. But, worse of all, there was no water point at all. I knew I could run some 15km without water, but for more that would be a problem. It was a warm night and I ran really fast. On the 10km mark I was close to my 10km record, and on 16 I had nearly the same time than last year at the 10 miles of Kąty ! I surprised myself. Wow, is it really true that I'm so fit ? As the race was going and seemed that people would do it till the end, I told myself not to give up, I had a really good result starting to take shape.
The last 5km were tough. First I felt thirsty and I had not drank yet. By some coincidence, a runner next to me found an unopened bottle of mineral water lying down and he picked it. Without I asked anything, he gave me the other half, with I swallowed with delight. The last kilometers were long but I ran back into the stadium almost at the same pace as the rest of the race. The watch showed some 1:38:30 when I stopped it. I was given a medal, but the digital clock of the finish line was off, and I understood there would be no rankings nor official results. Dying of thirst, I walked straight to the first stall where I spotted bottles. I grabbed one and swallowed it immediately. The woman then shouted "it costs four Złotys !". "You must be kidding" was my only answer.
Przemek and Jarek crossed the line, but I did not see Agnieszka, who had gone home.
Reading newspapers the day after, I understood. The race had been cancelled, but the organizers did not think any second about the frustration of 4000 people, some of them coming from far in Poland. The crowd spontaneously took the start, without anyone could do anything. After the 3rd kilometer (after which we met the tramway rails) the police indeed had tried to stop the runners, with an army of vehicles, flashing lights, and men in uniform. Without more success. You just can't stop 4000 furious runners. The explanation of the cancellation has never been clear till today. Some reported the marking of the race was not matching the right streets, some wrote there were lacks of security concerning car traffic. And someone, in the Police, naively thought it would be easier to send back home several thousand of people than fixing a couple of plastic tapes.
The runners gave the answer. You didn't want to move your ass ? Well, you're going to move it anyway. We're running ! Barriers that had started to be removed at 9:30 had to be put back in the rush, same for water points, and more men in uniform were called hastily to secure manually the itinerary were some others showed too much zeal removing them quickly.
Wrocław's first night half marathon is commonly considered as the biggest shame of the running scene of the year in Poland, and perhaps for the city of Wrocław. All citizens, and not only sportsmen, got to know about it. Some important figures close to the city mayor had to resign, it had become a political story and the city mayor had to save his face... All runners were refunded and we were offered photos for free..
As for me I was delighted by my result, despite the frustration of it not being official, and inaccurate since measured by my watch.
But most of all this race taught two capital lessons :
- Running does not improve the cycling shape, but cycling definitely improves the running.
- The best results are always obtained where we run do without any stake and stress.
Garmin Iron triathlon Radków
Summer was in the air, and I did not think I would take much more starts before the holidays in France.
But, Błażej, a friend that had ran the night half-marathon, wrote me an email: he had an appendicitis attack following the event, and was going to be operated. He was trying to resell all the starts he had bought for the season. I decided to buy from him the Radków triathlon, an 1/4IM.
I am not going to paraphrase the whole story, which can be found here.
Running a 10km after a previous effort that would last two hours was an interesting experience that would tell me a lot concerning my ability of running fast on a long distance, already having in mind the marathon I would do in the Autumn.
On a route that accumulated some 120m of elevation, I kept a tempo of 5.09mn/km. Which I found quite good, since I was rather expecting to run slow, like 5:30 or even 6, thinking of it before the event. That was interesting, and feeling so fresh convinced me I would be able to do the half-ironman that took place later this year.
Wielka Pętla Izerska
The day before the plane, I finally surrendered to the temptation of taking an ultimate start before the holiday. My wife was more concerned about packing bags, but whatever. Wielka Pętla Izerska was too enticing, the weather too beautiful.
Another half-marathon, and in mountains, in the beautiful Izerskie mountains, whose beauty was revealed to me previously by bike and by skis !
The race had some 500m of elevation, all of them gained steadily during the 2/3 of the race, then the rest downhill.
My friends had kept joking about my supposedly good result of the night half, telling it was not official, and I was keen in running this one by doing a time rivaling of the Ślężanski, despite there was more difficulty here.
Wielka Pętla Izerska is not exactly a trail-running event, rather a kind of soft mountain-race, that can be done with normal shoes (I took my Trabucos however).
The race met an unexpected success, gathering more than 400 at the start in Szklarska Poreba. No Los Bieganeros that day (pity for them !) but many acquaintances, and a very nice day.
The start elevated slowly at outskirts of this mountain resort, and we reached the mountain level. Some parts were asphalt, some with gravels. A couple of steep climbs were met. At the start of the race, I had in mind to keep a pace that would enable me to threaten the time of Edek and Doman on the Ślężanski, which meant at least 5mn/km for all the climbing part, assuming I would go faster on the way down.
But as I ran up, I realized these plans were totally disconnected from the reality of the terrain. Wielka Pętla Izerska is not comparable to Ślężanski, it is significantly harder. I set my pace aroud 5:15 during all the 14km climbing up. After the tenth especially, I realized my tempo wasn't bad at all, I had caught a good pace, I felt power and I was constantly overtaking everyone suffering on the way up.
At the km 14th we reached the highest point of the race near 1000m, where was located the second buffet. I had not drank yet and grabbed a glass, but I wasn't able to drink a sip. My organism was so contracted by the effort of the climb that there was barely space for drinking water. In my opinion this buffet would have been better some 500m further on the way down.
The run down did not allow to catch back time as quickly as I expected. Instead of a constant gradient, there were portions of flat, on which I ran identically than on the way up, and steep descents on which I didn't perform so well than the many other runners that took me back. I spared also my knee from which I was still afraid of. However, I saw on my watch I was slowly getting under the 5mn/km average over the whole distance, which meant a time under 1:45.
I finished the race unusually knackered, with the same feeling of pain in the breasts than the Wroclaw marathon. But with what I consider after-while as a quite honorable time, in less than 1:44, and finishing in the first quarter of the rankings.
We were given beautiful hand-made glass medals (Szklarska Poręba is, since very ancient times a glass-making place), and the lunch voucher was an impressively nice meal in an old chic restaurant of Szklarska Poręba.
Running race of the year ! This one remains my favourite.
Holidays... sea and mountains.
August came and the holidays. Two weeks in France, then a week again at work in Poland before the long week-end of the 15th.
Running trainings kept taking place during this time, on a more irregular basis but still. And, most of the times, on beautiful places.
I ran once on the beach of the Atlantic ocean, some 12km with my brother in law (who had just ran the Barcelona marathon in ... 3:07 !). First training since Wielka Pętla Izerska and average speed below 5mn/km, on the sand. The shape is there !
Later, in my home town, I ran a 15km training on the shores of the Canal du Midi. I didn't really know what to expect as I had eaten unreasonable amounts of food and alcohol the day before. It all went smoothly on a 4:45 pace. Wow !
Back in Poland, a little later, in the Tatras, here I am for the most scenic training ever. The Bielovodská valley ! While hiking, this long and wide valley, the most majestuous of the whole range, and featured with a landrover path on a significant distance, left me the souvenir of a flat gradient. But running always offer another perspective, and I realized how much elevation difference there is between the start and the end of the path where it starts being a trail only, where I turned back. Nonetheless, the average was again below 5mn/km back to the car, after a 14km run. No doubts, I am really in a state of grace. I have never ran so easily before. Since Beskidy Trophy and the new start of the running activity, something has happened with my body, just like if I was featured with new batteries.
In the end of August had to take place my second triathlon of the year. It had to be originally Terratlon again, the same I did last year, but the event was cancelled. Jarek and Łukasz were going to Chodzież for a half ironman. In the last moment registration fees were the most expensive but I decided that going with friends had no price. What's more I had a revenge to take on Jarek since June ! So I went with them.
The story can be read here.
Just like my feelings during the last trainings, I must say I was amazed by my running time after hundred kilometers spent in the water and on the bike. I was rather expecting to see myself knackered and struggling with cramps, instead of that I found myself fresh as a fish and running on the battling tempo for at least 2/3 of the distance. At the finish line I expected more than 1:50 for this distance that corresponds to a half marathon, and with surprise I discovered I had done it in 1:48. Five minutes less than my first half marathon last year, but only ten more than the night marathon.
Thinking again about possible forthcoming 1/2 Ironman, I sometimes wonder if I will be able to improve the running part...
Time now to focus on the main running challenge of the year, taking place in one month and a half !
(Prior to that I skipped the Wrocław Marathon, in which most of my Los Bieganeros took part, too busy with biking)
The Poznań Marathon
Saturday 12th of October, my friends (Edward, Agnieszka, Doman) and I set off by car to Poznań, where the marathon of this city, fifth in Poland but second in size after the marathon of Warsaw ( 6500 people) was to take place the next day.
We slept in Marcin's house, Doman's brother who lives near Poznań, and ate delicious pasta with salmon and cream sauce (detail that will be important !) . This year we had printed "Los Bieganeros" jerseys with our names on them, to give a a more "concrete" look to our small team of amateurs.
Edward, Doman, Agnieszka and I have very similar levels, Marcin is a small step above , his tall size advantages him a little bit. But our strategies tend to differ in a bigger scale if we have a closer look. Agnieszka, not owning any watch neither strategy, enjoys to start full speed and "manage" the rest, Doman Edward and I who run at a constant pace, and Marcin who tends to speed up at the end. A month earlier, in Wroclaw (where I biked only to follow them), everyone finished within a range of less than 4 minutes, except for Marcin who did 3:35 and consequently set the Los Bieganeros record (earlier in the Spring, Agnieszka did almost the same time in Katowice !) .
Wet, cold and windy weather welcomed us that morning in Poznań, kind of uninviting for a marathon, but once we stood in the starting lane, adrenaline warmed up. Because of the inevitable toilet duty before the start, we all lost each other from sight, and I managed only to find Agnieszka with who we positioned a few meters behind the 3:30 pacemakers. My secret hope is to break that limit, which would delight me by both beating Marcin, gaining the title Los Bieganeros and be the first below this symbolic limit. I know I am able to run a the 5mn/km pace several hours after an effort, my two triathlons earlier this summer proved it, the thing was just to make it in a whole marathon, with the additional factors that races on foot implies (cramps , pain, repeatability , etc. )
The start was given. I ran few instants with Agnieszka, but chose to stay away from her fighting spirit and keep a little more constant tempo. A few kilometers later, however, we merged again, runing side by side with Marcin who was positioned a little higher and who we met. We ran the three of us together the first 10km. Marcin met some acquaintances and began to chat, which seemed to annoy Agnieszka, who turned on the turbo again. I had a look at my watch, so far we ran a perfect average of 5mn/km, so I stayed with Marcin.
Marcin who perfectly knows the geography of the suburbs of Poznań was explaining me everything about the city and the route, explanations kind of abstract to me: I've only been once in Poznań as a tourist, and only in the old historical center. Today, we do not go there, only via the large roads in the suburbs. "Eric, you aren't saying anything! are you okay?" he asked. Actually, no , I'm not feeling well. Not that I'm already tired, far from it, I feel as fresh as a roach, but internal turmoil periodically disturb me... I still have in mind the salmon sauce yesterday evening...
"Eric, just stop ! Here overthere is a park with bushes, you could...". I ignore the park, but when passing the buffet at the 20th kilometer, I cannot not stand it anymore and take advantage of the presence of toilet cabins to undertake a pit-stop. Super Fast ! We had about a minute of advance ahead of the pacemakers, and when I rejoin the race I am at the same level as them.
Thanks to this little break, and a gentle downhill, I am forcing the pace a little below 5mn/km to rebuild a bit my advance. I did not catch Marcin back, but Agnieszka at the half distance mark, 21km. Breathless, she seemed to pay cash her efforts during the first half of the race... Marcin was in sight some 200m ahead and thanks to his size I could spot easily his white cap, getting slowly but inexorably closer. I finally joined him at the 30th mark, just after having eaten my energy gel and drank my "magnez-shot " magic flask supposed to avoid cramps (I took it during Beskidy Trophy and the two triathlons, I guess they may work as I did not have any...).
"Marcin, what's up?". He turns his head in amazement. " Eric ! Gosh , I did not think to see you again. Feeling better ?". We ran again the following few kilometers, running in pair makes it easier mentally. Because time passes less and less quickly. Ten kilometers are left but they seem endless. Finally arrive the famous dishes of the end of this Poznań race, the slightly sloping portions feared by all. While passing the Km 35, I suddenly noticed that the 3:30 pacemakers with their balloons made it back to us, all our advance inexorably melted and they were swallowing one by one all runners running out of strength... Marcin seemed to suffer increasingly, and also began to sink into the dense crowd of people running around the pacemakers.
"Eric, do not take care anymore about me, keep going !" he told me. We were at km37. I have not raced all that distance ahead of these bloody balloons for giving up now, I told myself. Till the top of this sloping flat, I struggled with pacemakers, which I managed to follow somehow. My number paper torn itself, due to be soaked by sweat, and I ran the rest holding it in my hand.
At km 39, we entered the city center again, and it became flat again, the yelling crowd of supporters boosted me. I was two fingers close to my goal. Now or never! I cleared my mind, I lengthened my stride, keeping in mind only to breath as deeply as I could. I overtook dozens and dozens of tired people, others just like me were also starting their finish the strong way. Kilometers 40 and 41 seemed endless. The exhibition center appeared again, with the finish line. The counter showed 3:29:30, and I sprinted to arrive before the deadline, however I knew I had a small margin, since the clock was showing only the brutto time (the netto, my real final time, is to be counted from the moment I really crossed the start line).
Medals and space blankets were distributed upon arrival. I was completely knackered but euphoric. I never imagined at the beginning of this year to achieve it, even less during my knee injury ! Final time 3:29:06 ! Without the toilets I would have done even better in 3:28 !
Marcin appears after 3:32 : "Holy shit, Eric.", while asking me if I managed. My only face is sufficient to answer. Edward and Angieszka, freshly overtaken by him, appeared after 3:37. Doman came in sight much later after 3:49. Reason of this disappointing time? (Wroclaw 3:41). Two stops at the toilets ... the salmon sauce... the salmon sauce ... Edward and Angieszka also think that the salmon sauce was not very fresh ...
We went back to Wroclaw by train, since Doman stayed a couple of more days with his brother. Wise decision if we take into account the sequels that such deep effort can have on concentration while driving. Except that we had to run to catch the train, the overall fatigue was less present than during my first marathon a year ago. That this one lasted 17mn less, which is quite small within the whole duration of the marathon but a lot considering that the real fatigue occurs really only after 30km. Physically, I'm also a little better than last year, maybe more hardened thanks to all long distance events, running and cycling including, I did this year.
Outspider cross run
Just like last year's marathon, after which 6 days later I was riding the Pyrenees on the mountainbike with a 1700 elevation ride, there was no long recovery after Poznań.
A new 10km cross race was said to take place. It was first advertised by my company, then by some acquaintances of the mountaineering club, then my Spanish biking friends, who by some coincidence all decided to go.
Furthermore I had the unexpected opportunity to free myself on a Saturday. So I went.
Julen is the Spanish friend who runs the fastest, he easily holds a tempo close to 4mn per km on such distances. Surprisingly, I felt a lot of ease during the first half of this race, running alongside with him, like two old brothers. A look at the watch confirmed I was running near 4mn/km like him !
But then during the second half I started to feel again the same tiredness in the legs I had at the end of the marathon six days ago. In the end my average was exactly four and half per km.
We use to say that huge efforts generate an equally huge compensation during the next days. I think this was totally verified by the first half of this race, but on the other hand the marathon was also too recent to be totally fresh.
Nevermind, the route of this race, in a hilly forest in the outskirts of the city, colored by the coming autumn, under a blue sky, was very nice, without a singe repeated loop. The only "surprise" was that instead of the announced 10, the distance almost covered 11, but what a nice race. A second edition is said to take place in February. Perhaps in the snow ?
Bieg Doliną Bystrzycy
Initially announced as "III Bieg Bystrzycy", continuation of what I took part in last year, the event had to change its name for the simple reason the organizers weren't the same and the initial ones claimed the others "stole the race" !
That was only the first reproach of a long list we can make to the new organizers. Last year's race was on 12km, on two loops of 6km in the nicest of the natural park of the Bystrzyca river.
This year, the same distance was announced but on 3 loops of 4km. Oh well. Julen, who had just decided to join Los Bieganeros, Agnieszka and me decided to go anyway.
Once on the place, we found out the length and distance were changed again: four loops for 10km ! Eventually, at the finish line, all folks owning Garmin watches realized we barely ran 9 kilometers.
Instead of running in the natural park, most of the run, a way-and-back that de facto consisted in a 2.3km fragment, was just in the outskirts of the town of Kąty Wrocławskie, crossing the football field, some industrial wasteland, and a piece of the Bystrzyca forest (finally !). The only lure of this little fragment was the slight gradient that, repeated four times, made this race quite hilly.
To finish, organizers messed up the trophy ceremony. Agnieszka, who had done a good time, and had to go on the W30 podium, was called for the trophy for W20; she was "forgotten" in the general rankings podium.
That was, with the night marathon (however not equaling it), the worse race I attending speaking organization. Very far, with the same modest budget, than what the organizers of Outspider achieved few weeks before...
Since few months, I am again in a new company, which organizes an internal indoor sport challenge, charity event, that can be done in four disciplines, rowing, spinning, elliptical walking and running. Taking place the whole week, I did three of them (apart from elliptical). I rowed on Monday, cycled on Wednesday and ran on Friday. The goal was not the time but covering the most distance in 30mn. I covered 7.05km, settling the pace at 14km/h. Same as my indoor record, but with 3km less. Biking and rowing the previous days significantly tired me... :)
Running in the offices of his company is kind of funny. All week long folks we usually met nicely dressed in suits walked corridors soaked in sweat ! I like companies that not only promote this sporty spirit, but also put the words into practice.
Ultimate challenge of the year; the Santa Claus race ! Small event that gathered however more than 250. Organized by AWF, the athletics club of Wrocław, the idea was to have fun a last time during this year. Everyone was given a red Santa Claus hat to wear during the race !
Once more, the trio of Julen, Agnieszka and me attended this race, taking place on the north shore of the Odra in the north of the city, and the Olympic stadium, theater of the Marathon and Half-marathon of Wrocław. Two loops on a very straightforward fragement, made of the cycling track.
The distance was slightly more than 10km, but proper for fast running. Cold weather that morning, close to zero. All of us were far from expecting some extraordinary result, especially me with a little cold caught couple of days ago.
But, like it usually is with Agnieszka, not very keen in tactics, we took a fast start. Agnieszka and me ran together for the first 3km. Later, she told me to keep going, as she reduced a bit the speed. We had ran so far on an average of 4:15 per km. I could see during the turns that Julen wasn't that far ahead. I did not feel tired so I kept running at this pace. I "felt" to 4:20 during the middle, but surprisingly, as I ran nearer and nearer to the end, I felt still strong.
My time on the 10.2km was less than the 44mn, previous outdoors record, that was getting old (Bieg dla Macka 2012 !), and reducing this time to the round distance of 10km, I ran in less than 43mn, which means I also smashed my indoor record. Nice conclusion for a busy running year :)
The 2014 calendar is taking shape !
So far the winter 2013-2014, at least in his 2013 half, is the warmest I've seen since I live in this country. Apart from a couple of times when I had a cold, I have never used the treadmill yet. May it last !