Thursday, July 29, 2010

RUSS done

We made it to Karlshagen today with plenty of time to spare. We're now officially at the Baltic coast! 325km (200 odd miles) in 5 days - Claire's longest ever running week. And her longest single run - 45 miles. It was great supporting her through the final four days. Party tonight, then bus back to Berlin early tomorrow morning. The race organization was impeccable, as was Leah's tireless crewing by bike. We seriously would not have made it without them all.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

LEAH - After Stage 4

What a difference a good night's sleep makes. I'd had a bit of a down day yesterday due to what seemed like endless bike issues. But today was better even though I started out changing a flat and adjusting the gear shifting. The route was fantastic and I was so happy to meet Claire and Russ at the aid stations, though they needed very little from me. If you didn't know they were on the fourth ultra in so many days you'd have though they were taking an easy spin around Ladybird Lake. One of the highlights for me was going through the marshes and seeing the cormorants...a magical moment. Oh, and seeing the whole gaggle of German schoolkids, all out for a ride on the radweg. It was fantastic day, sure to be topped by tomorrow's finish. I'll be celebrating for not just Claire and Russ but all these folks I feel I've come to know along the way. Good times!

CLAIRE - After Stage 4

Four days done. Slightly shorter distance and not quite so hot today. Still having daily stomach problems at about 20 miles, but somehow seem to recover. The physio Annett has done a great job with my aches and pains, especially my sore Achilles tendon. Ran with Russ again - couldn't have done it without him. Today's highlight: I was interviewed by a local newspaper reporter - should be in Friday's edition.

RUSS - After Stage 4

I understand that there are some problems with the blog - not sure how to fix them remotely, but we'll keep going and fix them in Austin. We have better (i.e., some!) cell reception tonight in Usedom. Today was my third day of keeping Claire company. We finished a long 62km (39 miles) in just over 8.5 hours - not bad on tired legs. The weather was superb, the route was essentially flat, and with only one day left life is good! Leah provided us cold beer at the finish and had provided wonderful sherpa/roadie support. We have really enjoyed having her with us on this adventure.

RUSS - After Stage 3

A loooong 72km (45 miles) today. It was very hot (in the '80s), and Claire didn't thrive in the heat...but she persevered, and we made it to the finish line together for a second straight day. She's tough!

Monday, July 26, 2010

CLAIRE - After Stage 2

Today was very hot (almost Texas), very hilly and long (67km or 41 miles). I got my nutrition and sodium intake sorted out today, so my legs cramped less and I had less potty breaks. The best part of today was Russ keeping me company the whole way. I was worried about missing the cut-off (10 hours), but he managed to keep us on track for a 9 hr 8 min finish. Having Leah giving us mental and physical (in the form of copious quantities of Vaseline) support has been wonderful. Tomorrow is the longest mileage day. If I can make it through that, the rest should be smooth sailing.

RUSS - After Stage 2

Claire just picked up her first award of the race - third placed first-time woman - woohoo! Because of language dfficulties, she had no idea what it was for at first, but now she's suitably proud of her new certificate. I really enjoyed keeping her company through a tough day on the road today. Despite hot, hilly conditions and fatigue, we didn't argue once! I'm looking forward to repeating the experience tomorrow, even though it's 5k further.

LEAH - After Stage 2

Today was an absolute blast! Because the course was rolling and Sheba (that's my bike) is heavy and really gets moving on a downhill, it was hard for me to stay with the runners. So I zipped ahead. Some highlights: gorgeous field of sunflowers, cyclists of every shape and size, piney woods and sandy trails, blue skies, seeing Claire and Russ finish, hand in hand and looking like they had more miles in their legs.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

CLAIRE - After Stage 1

Had a great first day - beautiful course and weather. Old adductor / quad issue started to act up towards the end, but fortunately our friend Hans Drexler's girlfriend Annett is a physio, and was able to help me out. Great dinner in this wonderful hotel. We're spoilt, and not relishing going back to a gym tomorrow night!

LEAH - After Stage 1

Wow, what a day! We had everything from city scapes to pastures with windmills and ancient fortress walls. I was able to cycle with Claire through the first aid station, then catch up with Russ for the third and fourth, the halfway point, where I waited for Claire. We hung together until just before the 6th. She looked very strong and was closing the gap so I cycled up in time to see both Seckers finish. It was a lovely day. I'm having some gear shifting issues and hope to find a bike shop tomorrow. Everyone says the route is even nicer than today's. Go Claire and Russ!

RUSS - After Stage 1

Today's course started right in the center of Berlin. After 10km of downtown running, we found ourselves on the Berlin-Usedom bikepath. It's truly gorgeous. Tonight we're saying in "grande luxe" in a wonderful, modern hotel (tomorrow, it's back to gym life!). My legs hurt for much of the 65km, but I was able to keep up a reasonable pace by suffering in silence. After relaxing at the finish with Leah for a while, I was very happy to see Claire arrive with our Swiss friend Ursula. Tomorrow will be another day - hopefully OK after initial inevitable soreness.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

RUSS - At Frohnau

Our first race briefing and dinner is over. The race gets underway from the Lustgarten (in the center of Berlin) at 8am tomorrow. There are 67 competitors champing at the bit. Race organisers Jörg, Silke and Lutz seem very nice indeed. One of the German female competitors asked me at dinnertime tonight if Leah was my daughter. Much hilarity ensued, as we debated whether Leah looks super-young or I look super-old.

LEAH - At Frohnau

We're lying here in the gym in Frohnau waiting for dinner and the first race talk. The afternoon passed quickly with details: finding our spaces to sleep, putting together my bike. Thank goodness that is done - I was worried. Now to be excited for the racers! Russ is quite the social butterfly. Claire is puttering around. Tomorrow will be an adventure!

CLAIRE At Frohnau

Russ, Leah and I have arrived at the race start gym. We managed to get a nice corner spot to set up our sleeping bags. we've met lots of great people and very experienced runners. One of the first women I met has the 1000 mile award from having done 10 Western States 100-milers! Then I met a man that has run 1700 marathons! And of course Russ is no slouch. I am beginning to think I am in over my head. Dinner and race briefing at 7pm. Leah's bike has been assembled, but Russ's back will never be the same again.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Leaving Austin for Berlin just a few hours. The race starts on Sunday - we have a Thursday night layover in London along the way, in case of flight problems which seem to always happen these days.

The latest weather forecast is excellent after the recent German heatwave:
> Sunday Scattered Clouds. High: 69°F.
> Monday Scattered Clouds. High: 71°F.
> Tuesday Scattered Clouds. High: 75°F.
Sounds hopeful...but in my experience things often have a habit of deteriorating quickly. Raingear, gloves, hats and sunscreen are all packed.

Claire, Leah and I are all planning to post on this blog once we get underway. Here's the Baltic Run race website. Click the Ergebnisliste link for results once we get underway.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Baltic-Run 2010 - Two weeks 'til Berlin

Claire and I have another few days of humid, sweaty training in Austin before we begin a loosely defined "taper". On July 21, we fly to London for 24 hours, before flying on to Berlin. Hopefully hurricanes, British Airways strikes and volcanic ash will not conspire to mess up our plans too badly.

We will be running an average of 40 miles a day for 5 days in Germany, along with 64 other runners and 7 stage racers. The Baltic-Run race starts in the center of Berlin, and passes due north to the Baltic Sea, mainly along the course of the Berlin-Usedom Radweg (bike path). I know at least 10 of the other runners; I'm really looking forward to meeting up with them all again. We're very happy too that we will be accompanied by our good Texas friend Leah, who will be cycling much of the route and providing us with support along the way.

My right knee has been troubling me a lot during training recently. At times, it REALLY hurts, and it affects my hamstrings, sciatic nerve, glutes, SI joint and back. My informed self-diagnosis is osteoarthritis, as this is the surgically repaired knee I injured white water rafting 15 years ago. The Baltic-Run will be a test to see whether I will be able to continue running long distances, or instead have to hang it up in favor of something less load bearing like cycling. We'll see.