Saturday, September 29, 2018

 

Crazy I like, ultra I ran

It’s been a crazy week, starting with the Wachau marathon last Sunday, the Vienna Night Run on Tuesday and two days at a conference in Berlin, returning last night. Today I participated in the Wienerwald Ultra Trail and finished the 55 km Diamant-WUT in 08:25 hours. So proud to join the ranks of ultrarunners!

The day started somewhat chaotic. After a short night’s sleep I managed to spill water all over my backpack and the kitchen floor while trying to fill the water reservoir, switched to bottles instead which are easier to handle, then rushed to Purkersdorf to pick up my starter bag just ten minutes before the starting time. Ready, set, go!

The course mostly runs through forest areas, with a mix of forest roads and single trails, and some six or seven ascents account for a total nominal elevation gain of 1,900 meters, although my tracking device recorded slightly less. Weather conditions were just perfect, with clear skies and low temperatures. After a while we were a group of three,  Francisco Javier from Argentina and Ulrike, going at more or less the same pace, having a good chat along the way, occasionally one of us dashing off only to be caught up at the next ascent or supply station.



At the 45 km mark I was already super-happy that I had gone beyond the marathon distance and still felt pretty good, and together we managed the remaining distance, the never-ending series of smaller ascents before finally going back down to Purkersdorf, where we all happily finished within a few minutes’ range.

Thus ends a crazy week with a total of over 100 km in running competitions; time for a break now.

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Sunday, July 8, 2018

 

Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon: Up to new heights!

Im Oberwallis im schönu Tal
Da löifunt alli widär Mal
Än Marathon mit Emotion
zZielband gseh, das isch diinä Lohn

(from the official Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon song “Alli gliich” by Sam Gruber)

Yeah, I did it! Seeing the finish line was the main goal for the Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon, my first full marathon this year. On Saturday I finished this fantastic alpine racing challenge from St. Niklaus at 1,116 m all the way up to Riffelberg at 2,585 m in an excruciating 7:22:13.5.

The weather forecast had started with rain and thunderstorms a week before the race and got better by the day, with only light rain on Friday when I arrived by train, and a perfectly clear sky and sunny weather on Saturday. An alphorn quartet, which welcomed the runners at the start in Sankt Niklaus, was the perfectly fit to the picturesque mountain landscape.  The first half of the run to Zermatt was quite easy, with plenty of shade along the track and only 500 m vertical height, and the headache that had plagued me for the first few kilometers magically disappeared.

The second half was more challenging, with steep inclines, mostly in the sun, and varying terrain from comfortable hike paths to rugged areas and single trails. The beautiful nature along the route and the absolutely stunning views on the king of mountains, the Matterhorn, make it well worth the effort and enjoyable. After all, this is not so much a race against the competition but against yourself – and the clock.

The small margin against the cut-off time was shrinking rapidly. With not enough energy or time left, I had to forgo the admittedly quite arrogant goal to take on the extra 3.4 km to the Gornergrat for an “insane ultra” (organizer Olivier Andenmatten) and happily settled for the marathon distance this time. What a relief when I crossed the finish line and received my marathon medal and the finisher pack!


Thank you to my wonderful wife for giving me this very special birthday gift and sending me off to Zermatt!

Also thank you to my running partners in crime for their support and encouragement. When I had mentioned the remote idea of going for the Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon a few weeks before the event to Egon Theiner, he suggested to give it a try: “Not sure about your current training level, but then, nothing ventured, nothing gained!” It was well worth it, and congratulations Egon on your successful ultra run.

Lastly, the organizing team and the many helpers deserve a big round of applause for making this an absolutely perfect event. With the many friendly and helpful people at the supply stations and along the course, everything just worked fine.

PS. Did I get to see the Gornergrat after all? Of course, I took the train up to the summit right after the run to enjoy the panoramic view.

Related links

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

 

Vienna City Marathon 2017: Slower than before, and happy about the result

Spoilt by the improvements in running in the first two years, I had to drop down a gear this year. After finishing the first few races in 2015, including two marathons and two halfs, and accumulating 1000 km running by year end, the following year was even better. The improvements over all distances brought me recognition and a nice collection of cups by the Running@IBM club.


This year was off to a slow start. Suffering from colds for several months, running was out of question. I reluctantly skipped a long-distance event only after luring a colleague to consider the event, and haven't been training much until recently.

With only two long jogs in the last quarter, going for the marathon distance seemed unreasonable, and I postponed the decision to the racing day. After a good first half I decided to go for the full distance anyway. The lack of training did show in the second half when I hit the wall around km 30 but eventually finished, slower than in previous years with 04:55:13 h.



Still an enjoyable run, happy that I made it through!

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Thursday, December 31, 2015

 

1000 km—Or: How I Became a Runner

When I started running some 15 months ago, my goal was to relax and live healthier.  If you know me, I haven’t been much of a runner before, aside from occasional runs through the Wiener Prater or along the beach a few times per year.




Today I completed my 1000th kilometer this year. I have run two full marathons and two halfs, competed in a trail run and some shorter races and finished ninth place in the local Running@IBM cup.

Why I started running

Like most nerds spending long hours in front of their computers, I had been sitting in my office chair for long hours, seeing my health parameters getting worse at every annual checkup, not to alarming levels but still, constantly gaining weight, and getting recommendations from my doctor to eat less and exercise more … and found tons of excuses why I had other things to do first and could never find the time.

Over the years I have admired sporty family members, friends and co-workers, including an Olympic walker, marathoners, ultra-runners and triathletes, and have drawn inspiration from their determination and their successes. But it was a newspaper ad from an insurance company that literally flipped the switch, a lonesome runner in the middle of the night explaining that some folks call him “Daddy” and he’d like to keep it that way for long.


Starting slow

And so I got my old sports shoes out and started running. Took the stairs instead of the elevator. Made an effort to eat healthier and intermittently switched to alternate day fasting (“weekday 10-in-2”).  Joined the Running@IBM club and made new friends there. Downloaded training plans and (here comes the nerdy part) wrote some scripts to ease importing them into my calendar. Bought a book on long-distance running.

The beginning was hard. I barely managed short distances non-stop. Soon I started seeing improvements, and in October last year I boldly decided to go for the full marathon distance in April and as an extra motivation join the #Run4CARE charity campaign. The initial response when I started telling people about my plans later on was usually along the lines of “You? Seriously?!”, usually followed by encouragement and support.

The first marathon

During winter I mostly followed my training plans, regardless of weather conditions. Facebook somewhat made up for the lack of a training buddy (finding someone nearby for midnight and early morning runs wouldn’t work out), the Likes and comments helped me staying on track. When I eventually finished the Wien Energie half marathon in March, I felt a great sense of accomplishment and pride, and even more so in April after doing the full distance at the Vienna City Marathon.

What was meant to be a once-in-a lifetime experience has turned into a bit of an addiction. I was hooked and just have to keep on running.

Happy New Year everyone, and Happy Running!


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Sunday, April 12, 2015

 

Vienna City Marathon 2015

Yes, I did it! Today I finished my first marathon race, the Vienna City Marathon 2015

More than 9,000 runners completed the marathon, of 42,742 athletes overall who participated in five disciplines.

We had a beautiful day, with sunshine in the morning and some light clouds and wind in the afternoon, and the volunteers, the co-runners and the spectators made  this a friendly and enjoyable event.

One of my favorite signs, displayed by a supporter towards the end of the track, read: “Going back now would be a bad idea.” So we kept running.

My finishing time was 04:54:15.

I dedicate my first marathon to my dad, an experienced long distance runner who ran the Vienna City Marathon before, in just over three hours.

Thank you everyone for your encouragement, support and advise, and also for the generous donations for the #Run4CARE charity run.

PS. One small suggestion for the organizers: Waste bins after the supply stations would be great to keep the track at least somewhat cleaner. Running on layers of crunching plastic cups and through seas of Powerade is no fun.

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

 

Wien Energie Halbmarathon 2015

Today I finished my first race ever, the Wien Energie half marathon 2015, in 2:06:26.

Weather conditions were fine, with 7°C, modest winds and no rain, and I had a nice run at almost constant speed throughout the race. I even ran right next to the unbeatable Lemawork Ketema, if only for a split second, as he was passing the field to start his third round. Thanks to the organizers, support staff, cheerleaders, drummers and spectators for making this a great event!

Now that I have completed the half marathon distance, I have even more respect for the challenge ahead of me.

Next month I will #Run4CARE at the Vienna City Marathon and raise funds for charity. CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty, providing disaster relief and supporting sustainable development projects.

Please help my quest and support the “Packages for Children in Need” campaign. Thank you kindly!

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

 

Running for charity: Vienna City Marathon

40,000 runners from around the world will participate in the Vienna City Marathon under the theme “We are Europe” on 12 April 2015. I plan to be one of them and have signed up for the challenge.

I have three goals for the Vienna City Marathon 2015:
  1. Running the full marathon distance and finishing the race in reasonable time.
    This will be my first marathon. In fact, unless I find a good practice race, it will be my first running competition ever. Running the marathon should be doable still. I have run half-marathon distances just for kicks without much training. Finishing the race in reasonable time will be tougher. A friend of mine was joking that she walked faster than I ran. I will do my best but expect no miracles, anything before the cut-off time counts!

  2. Raising funds for “CARE – Packages for Children in Need”.
    CARE is the charity of my choice for the Vienna City Marathon 2015. Whether you want to help a good cause or just motivate me to complete my first marathon, please donate now to keep those packages coming:


    Raising funds for CARE and supporting children in need is an extra motivation to finish, if not an obligation to the charity team and to you, my dear friends, whom I trust to generously contribute to the #Run4CARE charity run.

    All donations will go directly to CARE in support of the “Packages for Children in Need” campaign. CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty, providing disaster relief and supporting sustainable development projects. When crises or natural disasters force families to flee their homes, CARE is on site and provides emergency relief.

  3. Encouraging others to join in.
    Lastly, I hope that others will join in, too. Running is an excellent way to improve physical fitness and also to refresh your mind. There is nothing like an early morning round in the park to start the day. I can do this, and so can you!

Related information


CARE Österreich has been awarded the OSGS quality seal for charities. Donations can be made by credit card and bank transfer.

Update: The Wien Energie half marathon mid March turns out to be a good test race, so I will run there first before I attempt a full marathon next month.

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