15th place isn’t that bad, or is it?

As usual the month of May saw me taking part in Europe’s biggest cross country race, the Rennsteiglauf. As the last two times as well, I took part in the half marathon. I was hoping to run in the top 20 and run a time around 1:17. I was especially hoping to defend my third place in the students ranking.

Although my preparation in the weeks leading up to the half marathon wasn’t to good, I believed to be fairly fit after having run a 34:10 over 9,8 kilometres only weeks before. As last year, I had a starting place in the elite field, ahead of the other 7800 participants. I had memorised the new stretch and all the ups and downs on the 21,095 kilometres, but I was still pretty nervous on Friday and Saturdays morning. After having arrived in Oberhof and walked to the baggage collecting areas, I couldn’t wait for the start…

Starting In the third row, we had the usual sing along of the Rennsteig Lied and the Schneewalzer. After the last 10 second countdown the race was on, slightly to warm with about 18 degrees and sunny but dry conditions meant nearly ideal conditions for the race.

I started of and quickly found my place among runners my age, under the top 20. Running down the first hill into Oberhof, I already noticed that my legs were closing up, which meant that I couldn’t run at full speed downhill. After the first 4 kilometres we finally headed on the actual Rennsteig and immediately encountered the first proper incline. On the hills I could mostly overtake a few runners but they overtook me on the downhill stretches which meant that I was mostly running with the same group of people all the time. Unfortunately I never really found someone running my pace, which meant that I was always running between two packs.

After 7 kilometres the stretch was different to the usual course, a rather rough path leading mainly uphill, making the incline to the highest point at the Schmücke after 11 kilometres thougher than usual. After that the profile changed, with the course leading downhill. This meant a disadvantage for me, since I couldn’t run fast enough down hill. Just before kilometre 15 I knew another hill was looming around the corner. Because of that, I decided that I had enough and that the time I wanted to run was impossible to reach, therefore I took the pace out a bit, running a pace of 3:50 instead of the planned 3:39 per kilometre. After having been in 10th place for quite some time, a few people then overtook me. After reaching the crest of the hill, I just wanted to stop running, but I carried on, especially because a fellow participant was cheering me on. After passing the 17 kilometre mark, I knew that it wasn’t that far, but still couldn’t push my usual pace. Already hearing the cheering of the crowd in the finish and the guns going of signalling the coming of the winner of the half marathon race I knew that it wasn’t that far to go. I still had to let a few people pass me, but soon enough I was in Schmiedefeld:

Cresting the last minor hill, I was heading down the finish line and seeing the clock tick down, seeing people among the crowd cheering me on (you know how you are if you read this :p) helped me get into the finish.

In the end, I ended up in 15th place from 8000 participants, with a time of 1:21:50 and 6th place in my age group. I even managed to maintain my third place in the students ranking, but unfortunately they forgot to put my name in the list…

Overall I am not to pleased with my time, my performance and my place. Considering the different stretch, everybody was 3 minutes slower than their best time, but having run a 1:16 last year, I was still 3 minutes slower than that, which probably is due to my lack of training. All in all, I managed to get into the finish with only minor blisters and bruises and hope to run better once again with more training in the next year…

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New York, New York – Springsteen on Broadway

A some of you might have figured or guessed by my many posts about Bruce Springsteen, I am an avid Bruce Springsteen fan, maybe even a bit on the crazy obsessive side…

Anyway, after hearing that Bruce would be playing multiple night shows over months on Broadway, and with chances being low of him doing the same in Europe I decided to try and see if I could get some tickets for one of his shows. In the first run I did not get any tickets since Ticketmaster thought I was not a “verified fan” (as if anyone can believe that…!). Luckily in October, during the second run of tickets I scored tickets for Dad and me. This meant I would be travelling to the United States during the third week of January.

So, since the US is not on my top priority list of countries I wanted to visit I was still a little sceptical if I really wanted to go to the States, but then again, you only get one chance to see Bruce Springsteen on Broadway, so I took my chances with the US.

On the 11.01 it finally was time to pack my suitcases, travel to Frankfurt and take the 6 hour flight to Newark. The flight alone already was a highlight for me, seeing all the space and weight wasted for the commodity of the travellers. Additionally the views of Wales and Ireland as well as Nova Scotia and frozen lakes and rivers, as well as Manhattan’s Skyline during the landing were spectacular.

After having to wait 2 hours at the border control we finally took the train into Penn Station and were immediately in the centre of New York, directly below Madison Square Garden. As a frequent concert goer I had already checked out events in New York that day, and Billy Joel was playing his monthly show in the Garden that night. With having about 1 hour until the concert started we got some last minute tickets and had a pizza across the road. We then encountered a problem: we had two big suitcases of luggage and 2 smaller ones with us and needed to get these into the venue. Even if people were looking at us out of their corner of the eye wondering what we were doing there with all our luggage and with two explosive sniffing dogs checking our baggage the local staff were really friendly and helpful and stored our baggage in an extra cloakroom. We were then ushered to our seats and as it turned out, the spare tickets we got were some of the best in the house. Directly opposite from the stage with sufficient legroom and our own personal steward. What a luxury!

After waiting a bit the concert started and what a concert it was. having so far only ever seen video of Bruce playing in the Garden it was great to finally be there ant then get to see Billy Joel performing in front of his home crowd. Starting the night of with Miami 2017 (Seen the lights go out on Broadway) already was spectacular. Hearing him sing of all the places just outside the venue doors. Each time he mentioned a local sight the crowd would cheer and it would pop up on the video screens in the background. After that the setlist was pretty much similar to the one I got to here in Frankfurt two years earlier. What I really liked was that he always told a little story about the next song and gave the audience a choice of two songs and the one which got the loudest cheer was the one he played next. Some of my favourite songs he played were The Entertainer, Allentown, New York State of Mind, obviously We didn’t start the Fire, Downeaster Alexa, Piano Man and Uptown Girl.

After the concert and with the time difference I was knackered but what a start to a week in New York that was. Our hotel was only a short walk away from Madison Square Garden and with a room on the 40th floor (it actually only was the 39th since they forgot number 13th… funnily enough they have got a platform 13…?) we had a great view of the Empire State building at night.

The next morning after having a lie in we explored New York on foot, looking at all the sites like Times Square, Central Park, the Rockefeller Centre and Grand Central. On the way we stopped by at the Walter Kerr theatre to take a scope of the venue and take some obligatory tour photos. At the theatre we spotted a few fellow Bruce fans how had obviously come to New York for the same reasons as we did.

What quite surprised me was that it was so cold that Central Park was covered with a thick layer of mist and that all the lakes were frozen. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side, and after having some spicy Indian food at Grand Central we got soaked walking back to the hotel. In the evening we then waited 3 hours in front of the theatre to get a chance of a photo with Bruce and an autograph. Dad was lucky enough to get to talk to Bruce and thank him for playing a song for us in Paris during the River Tour 2016 but I was unlucky again.

After being quite downcast about this we headed of into Chinatown and had a great meal. Did I mention that the portions everywhere were gigantic. Dad and I took the leftovers from the Chinese back home with us and had them for the next two years. How can people manage to eat these portions during one meal?!

Anyhow, after that we walked down to (…the River and into the River we dived – it was just slightly cold…) the East River and I took some great photos of Brooklyn and Manhattan bridge at night. After that we got slightly lost walking back through Chinatown.

The next day was a nice sunny but windy and cold day. So we walked to Ground Zero and had a look at the One World Trade Center. After that we walked along the Hudson River right down to the Battery Park were we boarded the Staten Island ferry and had some great views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty. We then took the tube up North to look at the Flat Iron building which I really wanted to see before we then headed to the Chrysler building and the United Nations headquarters. Here I just want to mention how negatively surprised I was about the local transport in New York, the tube system was chaotic and hard to understand, nothing was signposted and it was easy to get lost!

The next day we got a hire car and drove into the most important State in the United States: New Jersey, the birthplace of Bruce Springsteen! Our trip here included all the major sights of Bruce’s life and the places he sings about, like Asbury Park Convention Hall, the Boardwalk and Madam Maries. We had a short stop at the nearby hotel were there was a great exhibition of Bruce photos from Danny Clinch and were we met an entire bunch of Bruce fans from the UK all there for the Light of Day Festival. I then took some photos of the Stone Pony before we headed of to the famous street crossing of 10th Avenue and E-Street.

We then checked onto our nice little quaint hotel in Ocean Grove, before we had some pizza at Federici in Freehold. We then stopped by at the Light of Day Festival to an interesting array of bands in the Saint. The next morning we travelled back to Freehold to look at the houses Bruce had lived in on South Street and Randolph Street. We then tried to figure out were the Giant Maple tree had stood before we looked at Bruce’s old school and the small house at 39 1/2 on Institute street. Here again I tried to re-enact some of Bruce old photos. After that we stopped by at the textile mill factory Bruce sings about in My Hometown.

After that trip down memory line we decided to drive down to Philadelphia. Before we got there we had to continue our stalking trip so we checked out Bruce’s homes in Rumson and the Thrill Hill recording studios. Unfortunately we only got to see his body guards and not the man himself… It was incredible to see these huge ranches with all the pastures and miles between the next houses, with huge stables and extra ranches. What sheer wealth existed here as well as along the coast in towns such as Deal (which actually is the Hometown of Patty).

After finally having found Bruce’s home we then travelled down to Philadelphia were we got to see the Liberty Bell on Martin Luther King Day as well as the Independence hall were the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were singed. We then had a stroll through Philly and were surprised to remember that this was the town were Rocky prepared for his boxing matches against Apollo and co., so we just had to climb the famous steps and follow in Rockys footsteps.

We then travelled back to New York and searched ages for a restaurant that was open after midnight. Luckily enough we still found an Irish pub, with way to expensive beer, how can you pay 7 bucks for a bad beer?!

The next day was show-day, after walking along an old abandoned railway line in Manhattan (the Highline) with some great views of New Yorks streets and building sites from above I finally went for a run in the Central Park. Next to seeing Bruce and the Flat Iron building this was the thing I was most looking forward to New York and how great it was. Starting of in the middle of Manhattan I first had to navigate the New York traffic for 10 minutes before reaching Central Park, funnily enough, only the bikes next to me in the bike lane were faster then me since the cars had to wait at all the lights and got stuck in the traffic. After finally surviving the traffic I reached Central Park. In the midst of the giant pulsating city you could find quiet solitude in the gigantic park and take a stroll along the lakes and through the small winding paths and completely forget that you were in the middle of Manhattan. Another great running experience I had after my run in the Central park was scaling the 40 floors in our hotel. After reaching the top in 4minutes I was not just starting to feel dizzy from all the turns but my legs were also aching quite bad.

After freshening up I then tried once again to get an autograph in front of the Walter Kerr theatre and this time after waiting for about an hour I got lucky, I finally got an autograph on his vinyl Born to Run album. Finally after so many failed attempts over the years… now the next thing is a photo!

A few hours later it was time for the highlight of our trip, seeing Bruce play on Broadway. Upon entering the small theatre we were guided to our seats and advised not to take any pictures, so I haven’t got any of the actual show, but that was not necessary. After a short wait Bruce entered the stage and conjured pictures of his own. In his very own style he described his life story similar to his autobiography, mixing jokes and quotes from his songs in a humoristic way. Each stage of his life and about the people he met was accompanied with a short story, shedding new light on songs I thought I knew. Adding these insights to the places he was singing about that I had visited only days earlier opened my eyes and ears to a whole new level of intimacy in his songs. The theatre was a great venue for this kind of revelation, its peaceful, tranquil atmosphere and only 900 spectators meant that you could hear every chord that Bruce was playing and hear every slight change in his voice.

All in all the 2 1/2 hour show was unlike any I have ever seen and probably will ever see again. Its style was similar to the Devils and Dust tour back in 2005 but it was far more intense. During the show my mood and emotions were rapidly changing from happy to sadly crying, overjoyed and miserable, ecstatic and thoughtful. How one man can put so much  thought, effort, energy and devotion into one lyric, one song, one album and still think of the bigger picture and be hopeful about the outcome of our future is still a mystery to me, but it started to unravel itself to during that evening. That we, as the tiny observer in this endless flow of time,  are just stranded here for a short limited amount of time.

How lucky am I, to roam this place we call home at the same time as this man…

Returning back to our mostly boring live after a show like this is one of the most difficult challenges after every tour, but this time it was especially hard. Flying back home to Germany, university, deadlines and technical drawings still left to do left me thinking about the bigger picture and the part I play in this epic untold storyline ahead of us.

Thus, all this writing and listening to Bruce has got me way to pensive, thanks again for meeting so many old and new friends during my stay in the states!

Alas, it is time to say goodbye, so until we meet again further on up the road:

Stay hard,

Stay Hungry,

Stay Alive!!

PS: If you get the chance to score tickets for Bruce on Broadway, try and do everything you possibly can to get there. It is definitely worth it!

 

Annual year recap 2017

With 2017 nearing its end and 2018 looming up ahead of us, its time for my annual recapitulation of the year. As usual I´ll start of with summarizing my running highlights and then head on to some other great experiences I had this year.

2017 stood under the term of”ballern” which literally just means shooting of into the woods and running as you feel without thinking about training effects or split times. Its really fun and doesn’t get you worked up and looking at the watch to entire time and thinking that you are either to slow or to fast. With “ballern” you just go out enjoy yourself and mostly come back with faster split times then if you would have concentrated on running them on the spot. Ballering through 2017 left me running 1331,06 kilometres in 93 hours and 24 minutes. Even though a wheat intolerance left me weakened in the last third of the year I managed to go running at least once every week, maintaining my running streak from 2016!

Because my studies are quit time consuming I didn’t mange to run as many competitions  as I had planned, but still the 7 competitions I participated in went fairly well, with me coming in under the top 10 every time.

My personal highlights were the Rennsteiglauf, were I ran an amazing time of 1:16:36 over the half marathon distance and came in 10th from more than 6000, and the Rennsteiglauf Team relay race, were I improved my time over the 6th stretch and our team managed to improve its time from last year!

In the coming year, I hope to improve my half marathon time and my 10k time once again and would like to try a trail race in the Alps.

2017 also saw me continuing my studies of aerospace engineering which are quite tedious. Luckily enough I got the chance to recharge my batteries and get motivated for the coming year with an interesting excursion to Bremen where I visited the production sites of Airbus and OHB (a satellite company building the Galileo satellites). Another great highlight was the Global Students Engineering conference in London were I spent one week with students from all around the globe discussion the topic of sustainable cities.

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In March me and my dad had a great road trip through the Alps, seeing the snow covered mountain of the “Drei Zinnen” and the “Marmolada”. Continuing my spree of road trips I had another short trip through the Vosges mountains and to Strasbourg.

The little free time I had during the summer I spent at the Baltic sea, were I had fun running along the beach, visited Poland for the first time and got to see the production site of Hitlers vengeance “Wunderwaffe” V1 and V2.

2017 also saw me getting more engaged in our students union and work in our faculty, where I helped organize party’s and other minor events and helped out during our freshers week and especially our freshers weekend, where I had a really fun time in the middle of the black forest.

Coming to the last part here are some of my favourite photos I took this year:

So, enough of the writing, I wish all of you the best for 2018 and until we meet again further on up the road,

Stay hard, Stay hungry, stay alive!

Running on the Campus

Last Thursday saw the Campus run taking place nearly directly in front of my doorstep starting at the nearby running track. I decided to opt for the 12 kilometres, which consisted of running the 6k round two times. Initially I had hoped with a good time around 43 minutes and a placement under the top 3. The weather looked to be a nice cool, cloudy day, but you shouldn’t trust the forecast. As it turned out it was a sunny day with about 25 degrees, so not very suitable for me…

Anyway, I had memorised the stretch and was felling pretty fit. I started of together with another runner at the head of the field in a pace of 3:30. We headed out along the bendy and curvy course and after traversing the first flight of steps I was leading a group of two runners on the course. After grabbing a drink we struggled to find the official stretch while crossing the road and ended up on the wrong side of the barrier. After running through the woods I was in second place and we finished the first lap of the course. We then headed out on the second round, overtaking some stragglers whilst the front runner gained some distance on me.

I kept running my pace trying to keep up with him, and maybe, if I would have pushed myself a bit more I could have stayed with him?

In the end I finished in second place with a time of 45:51 meaning a pace of 3:40. I’m not to pleased about the time and the pace, even when considering the slower pace due to congestion on the course and slowing down due to all the sharp bends and steps.

Hopefully next year will be better…

Here is my GPS-Data

Running 172,8k in a team!

Better late than never! I finally got round to writing my recap of the Rennsteig relay race nearly 2 weeks ago. The relay team consists of 10 runners, running stretches of 14-20 kilometres on hilly, stony and muddy terrain. In total 172,8 kilometres of the old path in the thuringian forest are traversed. As usual I ran in the mixed youth team of my ski club and got the worst stretch of the entire race. Close to 20k with a tendency of going uphill. Luckily, in comparison with other runners that run the first stretches I could have a lie in. Therefore, I had to run in the sweltering midday heat. This really was a problem for me since I rather run in bad weather and the temperatures on Saturday were quite high. Anyway, my aim was to beat the 1:20 mark on my stretch, which I had closely missed 2 years ago.


After the nervous wait until I was handed over the baton from my teammate, it finally was my turn. I tried to head of slowly on the 20 kilometres ahead of me. Snaking my way through the woods, across roads and up hilly trails I was feeling pretty good, but lost my teammate accompanying me on his bike. Reaching the halfway mark and the highest point on the stretch, I was anticipating the aid station with a nice cool drink, since temperatures were exceeding my comfort zone. Unfortunately though, I incorrectly believed the drinks to come 4 kilometres earlier so from kilometre 11 onwards I was craving something to drink which didn’t come.

Finally, after a tricky descent down the other side of the “großer Beerberg” I reached the drinks station, greedily gulped down some water and had a short shower. The break cost me about 2 minutes, but my time was good and after some drinks I felt better, so the last 5 kilometres went really well. Running down into Oberhof, I had the last steep hill ahead of me. After going up way to fast two years ago I decided to go easy up the hill and try and run a quick pace down the other side. This worked pretty well and just as I reached the top of the hill, my teammate caught up with me again. This was a great relieve for me, since it meant that the following runner waiting at the end of my course would know when I would be coming.

I ended up running 1:18:28 in a pace of 3:57 which I am quite pleased with. After a bit of relaxing and travelling to the next changing point, I cycled the last two remaining stretches into the finish. In total our team reached the 13th place and was only 5 minutes slower than last year, so I’m satisfied with that result as well.

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Running against the heat

Due to the prevailing hot weather conditions, my motto for the race last Wednesday was the faster I go, the bigger the wind chill factor, the cooler I am. Of course, I forgot that at these high speeds friction also has to be taken into account…
Ok, back to the serious business: I must say that I’m no big fan of running in the heat but as it turned out during the half hour race in Ichtershausen, with a bit of wind on the home straight and drinking a lot on the way, I can cope quite well.

Starting with my usual surge ahead of the pack I maintained that position right until the end. Unfortunately though, my lap times were getting slower and slower, which was probably due to the heat taking its toll and me grabbing drinks at least every second round. That’s why I thought it actually wasn’t going to well and I was already counting down the laps needed to reach the 8000 metre barrier. I passed it with time to spare and maintained a steady pace during the last one and a quarter laps.

As the gun went of at the end, I managed a new personal best of 8676 metres, surpassing my old record by about 100 metres! Now it’s time to take it a bit more easy and get ready for the Rennsteig relay race next Saturday!

A different kind of concert

On Monday I treated myself to a Chris de Burgh concert. More or less by chance I found out that he was playing in Stuttgart 2 weeks earlier by some posters on the subway. I then got a great ticket on short notice, with a very good view of the stage.

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At 20:00 the show started with Chris de Burgh and his band entering the stage and getting the fans warmed up with some songs. He then played some of his old songs, which I knew and could sing along such as Ship to Shore and A Spaceman Came Traveling.
What then surprised me, was a break after 1 hour: Chris de Burgh left the stage and the lights came back on, whilst all the people started to leave. I was that confused that I had to ask my neighbor what was happening. At “these” kind of shows there is a break, so that all the people can go outside for a chat and spend their money on drinks…
After a short break the show then continued, with Chris de Burgh playing some songs from his new album Homeland in a cozy atmosphere with his band gathered round him. The songs from his new album seemed very powerful to me and had strong lyrics talking about today’s problems, especially the refugee crisis.
He then played a few songs on his own, with everybody singing along with his acoustic version of Sailing Away, before playing crowd favorites such as Lady in Red, Don’t pay the Ferryman, High on Emotion and Borderline.
His concert finished after about two and a half hours with the 30th song Go Where Your Heart believes, from his Moonfleet album.
I really enjoyed the show, especially his jokes about Stuttgart and him trying to speak German. He also really got the crowd going. I hadn’t expected that at the start of the concert, since all guests were seated and it didn’t really seem the type of venue and concert where you got up, sang along and danced. Except for the odd song or such during the first half of the show this was the case. But Chris de Burgh then beckoned for a Stage rush during the second part of the show and from then on the crowd really got going.
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Summing it all up, the concert was a totally  different experience than from the big stadium concerts I am used to, but was definitely worth it, since the atmosphere and acoustics were totally different.
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Here you can find some videos I took during the concert

Starting in the Elite section…

Yesterday it once again was time to run on the Rennsteig. I had put my name down for the hilly half marathon and had anticipated it eagerly these past weeks.
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After having run the “test” half marathon 4 weeks ago my goals were a place in the top 20, a time below my time 2 years ago, which was 1:19:12 and maybe a top 3 placement in the students category. Originally I had also planned on trying to end up under the top 3 in my age group, but then I noticed that I’m now in the main class male category where a top 3 placement for me is near to the impossible.
My preparation for the actual race hadn’t been too thorough, but therefore I had, as usual for most of my competitions meticulously memorized the course and had written down necessary split times.
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After a short nights sleep I got up early in the morning and got picked up at 5:45. We then drove to Oberhof and had the usual problem of finding a parking spot. After having found one, we then headed our separate ways and I joined the throng of people on the way to the start. Because my time and placement two years ago was very good, it enabled me to start in the elite section for the top 100 male and female athletes. This meant I could pass all the “slower” athletes and their starting sections, but beforehand there was the usual rush to hand in your bags of clothing, which are then transported to the finish in Schmiedefeld.
After finally getting to the front and having warmed up, I removed my state of the art thermal protection, aka a bin bag, and joined in during the traditional singing and dancing before the start. Luckily the sky had cleared up nicely after the thunderstorms the past few days, leaving behind cold 7 degrees and a sharp wind. As usual I was feeling pretty nervous before the start, wondering how on earth I would ever manage my time and placement since all the runners around me looked so good…
Anyway, shortly after 7:30 the gun went off and the race was on! I started of in the 5th row, hoping not to start to fast and that worked out well since I didn’t get to caught up in the moment and actually managed to run my goal pace quite quickly. Far more difficult was battling against the strong headwind and weaving my way through the runners in front of me. Luckily the course helped me along with this, since the first hill meant that all the runners where strung up like beads on a chord and I overtook a few.
We then headed into Oberhof under raucous applause from the spectators and me still piking of the odd runner in front of me but trying not to overpace myself since I knew the hills still to come really dug at your strength. After the first proper hill on the Rennsteig we headed to the first aid station, where I figured it might be a good idea to drink something. Unfortunately though, instead of getting cold water, what I expected, I got hot tea which, as runners tend to do when picking up drinks at great speeds, I managed to spill all over myself… You can guess that I wasn’t to pleased about that. Anyway, a good thing was, that they were also announcing the places of the runners, and, if they hadn’t forgotten anybody I was in the 14th place!
Crossing the road parallel to the course, heading up the hill I caught up with the group of runners in front of me. We now were quite high and there was fog everywhere. You couldn’t even see the runners in front of you. Earlier on during the start and the first few kilometers you could actually see the breath of all the runners around you… I managed to overtake the group of runners and was now running up the last hill before a long downhill stretch and was in 8th place. I would soon be arriving at the Schmücke waypoint, from where on, except for 2 hills it’s downhill.
All the while during these first 11 kilometers I was feeling terrible. The inside of my stomach didn’t really want to stay in the direction that gravity pulled it, but instead had the urge to go flying around. This made it quite hard for me running, especially since all the hills gave my stomach quite a hard battering. It was that bad, that I was seriously thinking of ending the race at the Schmücke, but then again how would I get from there to the finish?
In the end I decided to push on, but was weary of the content in my stomach. This meant that the group I had overtaken caught up with me again and overtook me, but I managed to keep up with them more or less. After the Schmücke then came the treacherous downhill part on small trails and my clock said I was running some of the kilometers in a pace of 3:10. Luckily for me the expected pounding of my body didn’t worsen the state of my predicament and I pushed on ignoring it from then on.
The group I was following consisted of 3 runners, which meant that I was back in 11th place. After two hairpin bends, which are tricky if you don’t know that they are there, you have to run up the last “murder hill”. Here I managed to catch up with the group ahead of me and overtook the last runner, meaning that I was now back in 10th place. This was at kilometer 17, meaning that for the last 4 kilometers I was constantly nervous that I might loose my place. These last kilometers, even though they were downhill we’re really hard, but the thought of being caught by the runner behind me and trying to stay close to the two runners ahead of me kept me going. Crossing the last mayor road and a muddy path it was up the last small hill marking kilometer 20 and into Schmiedefeld, the finish. Luckily I still remembered that two years ago this was the point where I thought the finish wasn’t far of, but because of lots of small bends in the outlying gardens it does take quite a bit of time. With that in mind I plowed downhill trying to run a good time and thinking I still had to run a bit. Then, all of a sudden I headed down the finishing straight amidst masses of people cheering and crossed the finish line as 10th over all with a time of 1:16:30!
Summing up the race I can say that I managed everything that I hoped to achieve. A great time sub 1:17:00 a top 20 placement and, as I found out later, second place in the student category. All in all I am pleased with my result, but I think if it hadn’t been for my stomach I might have even run a better time.
Anyway it was a great experience as usual and I immediately put my name down for next years race!  After that I had a relaxing massage, a nice warm shower and to top it all off, a stop in the mobile sauna. In the afternoon I was actually feeling pretty fit, so I then decided to go for a little post race run…
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Does it qualify as a PB?

On Sunday I had my first proper competition since more than half a year, the Half Marathon event during the  Solitudelauf. Saying that I was anxious and nervous the days leading up to the race would be an understatement. I had meticulously planned how to get to the race and memorized the layout of the course and it’s ups and downs. The only thing I couldn’t foresee was the weather. Luckily enough the rain and snow of the last days had abated leaving a sunny but crisp Sunday morning with ideal running weather but temperatures around 4 degrees.
On the actual day of the race, I managed to get there in plenty of time, grab my number and take the shuttle bus up to the start. After getting warmed up and the odd trip into the woods I was finally ready. I just had to remember the profile, not start to fast and reserve some energy for the hills at kilometers 7,10,15 and 17.
When the gun went of I was right on the line and surged ahead, following anther runners early lead. After about 500metres the field had alright dispersed a bit: the guy ahead of me was gaining more ground, whilst I was about 20 meters in front of the next guy. Passing along Schloss Solitude, which gives the race its name we ran into the woods on nice wide paths on a slight decent and a pace of 3:37 per kilometer.
After about 7 kilometers it was time to run down into the Valley and (into the River 🙂 have two steep hills climbing back up again. I passed the 10k mark in 36:40, slighter faster than my expected pace. The following few kilometers where a mixture of straight paths and a few hills in between. At about kilometer 13 I nearly got lost since a tree had a marker arrow on it, pointing of the main path. I couldn’t quite figure out which was the right way, turned of and then ran back again. Luckily it wasn’t a big mistake and only cost me about 10 seconds, but it’s still pretty annoying.
Heading up to kilometer 15 we reached the highest point and I started overtaking the slower 10k runners that had started 10minutes after us. From then on it was a steep decent down into the valley and one last, excruciating hill up again before the last 2km led along the bed of the Valley through fields and then the town. The last kilometer seemed far to long, since I was looking at my watch all the time and wondering what time I might be able to run. Mix that with a few slight inclines that do hurt after 21k when your running a 3:20 pace. I headed into the long home straight at 1:15:35 and was hoping that I could still stay under 1:16. Luckily enough it was slightly downhill and I got up to 30km/h, crossing the finish line in 1:15:57 in second place and first in my age group.
Summing the race up I am very pleased with my time and performance and am optimistic that this “test-race” before the Rennsteig in the middle of May is a good indication of my level of training.
Now back to the opening question: does it qualify as a PB? The things that speak against this, are that first of all it wasn’t exactly a half marathon but instead only 21k and the other reason is that the start was higher then the finish, meaning that we ran 264m up hill, and 406m down hill.
Foto 23-4-17 12 27 27IMG_5255
The reason that makes it plausible to call it a PB though, is that the time gained on the downhill part is more or less equivalent to the time lost on the steep hills, which on a flat round course don’t occur…
Here is my GPS of the run

Holidays and exams….

Since the new term has started I thought that its finally time to write up on my last 3 months.

After having my first exam in February I went back to Erfurt, where I did some training and also helped out at the ski training for younger kids. This was quite interesting since I hadn’t been skiing for 2 years but managed alright again after a few minutes.

Then, my proper ski trip began  with Dad and me driving down to Switzerland were we visited an old friend of his and I spent the day in Zurich. The city looked quite nice with lots of old quaint streets in the medieval town center and the river Limmat sneaking through the town. I also had time to take the tram up to one of the surrounding hills from which you had a great view of the Lake Zurich, the town and the alps. What shocked me though were the prices: around 9 euros for a simple doner kebap!

The following few days we spent in Kitzbühel skiing. Unfortunately the first two days had some bad weather in store for us with constant rain and fog making it difficult to distinguish between slopes, ditches and woods. Luckily though it cleared up the two final days which led to an increase in tourists clogging up the pistes. One of the major problems that causes this phenomena is that people always tend to over-judge their skills, skiing down steep black slopes and waiting behind a crest in the slope or going down in big serpentines. If you then come down at a faster pace, its quite a nuisance to have them in the way. Another problem is that in the ski arena there seemed to be a lot of slopes crossing each other which meant that at these dangerous crossings things got chaotic and accidents weren’t unlikely. The part I enjoyed most  was going down a slope called direttissima which enables one to get to speed of up to 90kmh, since it was more or less so steep that the only option to get down it in one piece was in a straight line. I also skied down the Streif which is a famous ski slope. Standing at the top, looking down each new section was incredible enough, but being able to ski it in one piece was even better. Unfortunately the lack of snow in the lower regions meant that here it rather was more of an hoping from white to white patch. The steepest part of the slope has a decline of 85% and when the professionals ski down those stretches they mostly jump the steep part which I had carefully maneuvered down. During one afternoon I went for a run up the mountain and along the slopes which was really fun. Starting of with some steep trails I was rewarded with a great view at the top and a difficult, snowy stretch downhill again.

Unfortunately though our trip was over far to quickly and it then was back to Erfurt to study for my next exam. Whilst in Erfurt I helped prepare an orienteering competition that my club organized, by marking the points in the woods that the participants had to pass, checking the updated map to spot any errors and after everybody had finished collecting everything that was still out in the woods.

After then having traveled to Stuttgart and written my exam I flew to Manchester to visit Grandma and Grandad. After boarding the flight I was lucky enough to get an upgrade to a seat with double the leg room then usual directly over the wing exits. Surprisingly enough, the weather in the Lake district, as usual, was quite bad, with heavy rains and even snow up on the peaks of the mountains, but as during my ski trip the weather got better each day. On the second day of my visit Princess Anne came to visit the local mountain rescue team to which granddad was invited and kindly took me along as well. It was really interesting seeing how such a royal visit is organized and being able to have as short conversation with her Royal Highness. Of course the obligatory fish and Chips, as well as a visit to the local Indian restaurant couldn’t go amiss… On my last day we had beautiful sunshine and traveled to England’s largest waterfall, which, due to all the melting snow was raging torrent. Whilst traveling there we passed some barren fell landscape which is really characteristic for the Lake District. Lush green fields and barren hills filled with bushes and brambles and lone stone walls. What better place can there be?

Unfortunately after only 5 days I had to travel back to Germany. Whilst on board the train back to Manchester I had my first encounter with British people who were not polite. They were listening too loud (in my opinion bad) music in the train whilst I was studying. After asking them repeatedly to maybe listen to it a little quieter or put it of they ignored me and then kept putting the music on every so often to annoy me, whilst saying what bad time management I had, to be having to learn on board a train… Why is it always that such people are the ones that foreigners encounter and force them to have completely wrong prejudice about British people?  Anyway, that couldn’t ruin my great trip!

After getting back to Erfurt I participated in a 1 hour team relay competition in which each team has to run a total of one hour around a track and see how far they get. Rosa and me became 3rd in the male/female category and 4th overall, running 17.975 meters. Next to studying for my last exam I finally met up with my old classmates, some of whom I hadn’t seen for more that 1 1/2 years and had a good chat about old times and what we are doing now.

The 7th of April saw my last exam and finally having 2 days off free time, not having to think about uni. I traveled to Munich, where Dad picked me up and we then had a great car journey through the alps. Starting in Bozen on Saturday we traveled around the famous Sella Mountains and on to the “Drei Zinnen” and spent the night in Cortina de Ampezzo. During the evening I went for a nice walk along the fields, trying to capture the fading sunlight glinting of the mountains and experimented with other settings on my camera. The next day was a sunny day which as usual got me sunburn since it was way to hot with 27 degrees. We started of on narrow road with no other cars but lots of serpentine’s which finally wound up to the Passo di Falzarego 2100 meters above sea level and a spectacular view. What I found very interesting was that most of the roads had only been built during the first World War because the area was scene to some major battles. Another thing that intrigued me was that in the valley it was 20 odd degrees or such and on the high mountains people were still doing ski tours, or actually skiing, what a difference. In the afternoon we then arrived at Lake Garda where people were out surfing and all the villages were crowded with people. From there we then traveled on to Florence and had a nice walk through the city at nighttime, visiting all the mayor tourist attractions but without tourists. The next day we visited them again and had a walk along some of the old streets. I must say though that people who think that the Ponte Veccio in Florence is beautiful and impressive haven´t seen the Krämerbrücke in my hometown. Erfurt definitely doesn’t have to hide its architecture and beautiful timbre-framed houses and definitely is worth a visit, even if it isn’t as famous! n the evening I then flew back to Stuttgart. During the flight I had an amazing view of the sunset and Frankfurt’s skyscrapers from above.

And thus ends my account of what I have been doing the last few months. Now its back to studying and trying to not miss to much sleep…