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.
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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…

 

Differences between living in Spain and Germany

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Annual year recap 2016

Another year has gone by so its time for my usual running sum up of the year. This year I decide to further add a few of my favorite experiences, so if you are only interested in the non-running business you’ll have to scroll down a bit…
Well then, 2016 saw me running a total of 1383 kilometers in 98 hours and 28 minutes, which makes an average pace of 4:16 per kilometer. I took part in 15 competitions, coming in as first place in my age group 7 times.
My personal running highlight this year was finally managing to get a new PB on the 10k back in Bremen in October and breaking the “sound barrier” of 35 minutes by running a 34:40!
Another great experience event though the time wasn’t to great was the Berlin Half Marathon in April, were I really just enjoyed it by running my negative split times. Furthermore I once again took part in the Thüringen Ultra relay race improving my time from last year by 12 minutes and once again winning the 4x25k team relay.

In December I then discovered 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.

So my aim for 2017 is to improve my Half marathon time on the Rennsteig in May and maybe shave a few seconds of my 10k time if possible. Other than that I just want to get in some speed work to last longer on the long runs.

So now to the Non running part 🙂 2016 saw quite a few changes for me, first of all with finishing my voluntary year abroad in Spain which was really a great experience for me, then going on tour with the Boss and then starting studying aerospace engineering in Stuttgart in October.

My favorite trip this year must definitely be Morocco back in February. It was jut incredible to see a different culture and landscape than in Europe.

The part I was most looking forward to this year was the upcoming Bruce Springsteen tour, and I wasn’t disappointed. I was lucky enough to see him 10 times on the European leg of the River Tour and really enjoyed myself at his concerts in Spain, England, Germany and France. The best though definitely was the UK part of the tour, organizing the the pit queues in Manchester, Coventry and London and just meeting so many great fellow Brucebuds. A special shout out to the Manchester gang, who endured the wind and the rain just to (…buy some shoes) get to the front center stage during the concert. Another great 2 nights were spent in Paris, with Bruce playing a song just for me and my dad which was really emotional and hearing the entire River album the second night.

Oh and before I forget, here´s my favorite picture of the year:

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

Stay hard, Stay hungry, stay alive!

Spending time studying…

Well I haven’t been writing that much lately and the reason for that is mainly that there hasn’t been that much interesting stuff going on and secondly that studying at university is quite stressful…

But now that it’s finally Christmas holidays I’m getting time to write up on some of the stuff I missed out on recently.
So first of all I have started to get used to studying and spending a lot of time revising. What I’m still not used to is that I’m investing time for uni more or less 24/7, thinking about nothing else and doing maths until the early hours. I’ve also already had a few exams, labs and homework’s to hand in, so it’s quite arduous, but there are interesting talks making up for it as well.
Recently a German astronaut, now working for the ESA gave a talk and the week after that the ESA and the DLR (German aeronautics and space centre) came to our university to explain how the become an intern in their company and how to eventually get a job there. That was really impressive and got me motivated again.

Last week we then had another interesting talk with 3 former German Astronauts which was very interesting as well!

Since today was the last day of uni this year, our physics professors had planned a special physics lecture. This has already become legendary with older students so the big auditorium filling 799 stundents was full to the brim, with some people even sitting on the stairs. Some people had even brought alcoholic beverages, Christmas hats, candles and waffles. Even the professors decided to have some whisky after each successful (or unsuccessful) experiment. It was a really funny lecture and ended in raucous applause for our professors. I’m definitely looking forward to that lecture next year!!


If I found free time during all the studying I spent it either running, taking photos or having a few drinks.
I found some really good courses in the woods and around the lakes next to my flat which are nice and hilly and also spent some time on the nearby track doing some fast repeats.


Furthermore I found some great spots for taking photos, such as a nearby “waterfall”, some lakes and the motorway.


Well, that’s it for now since I’ve got to get back to doing some homework…
PS: I forgot the obligatory picture of my cooking skills, so here it is!