Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Sports for Age

Would have been "no sports" the better advice for Mr Sarkozy? No, says Times online,
Middle-aged joggers like Nicolas Sarkozy have longer, happier lives.

Very kind, dear Times, I am especially grateful for the wording "middle aged".
Worth reading: Times online article

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Active recover week

stats of the week: run 37km, cycled 260km, 1 gym

On Friday I felt totally exhausted and had to slow down my flat running workout of 12km to a clocked time of 1hr17. Sunday already was much better and I now look forward to the next highlight: Helsinki Marathon on Aug 15. It's going to be a touristic run so I hope to be fine with 2 longish runs of around 25km to get fit for the day.

May I point out to you a Guardian portrait of Lizzy Hawker which is well worth reading. Lizzy is a pure amateur but to be regarded as one of the world's best athletes. She is certainly very well known within the hill running society but outside this small world she is being overlooked what is a pity. She is a real champion. A champion not only of sports but of life.

Guardian Portrait Lizzy Hawker: Queen of the mountains

(photo: Swiss Alpine)

PS. German speaking readers might enjoy my l'├ętape du tour race report.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Mt Ventoux Champion

Result L'etape du tour: 172km, 8:43:10, 4679th of 7396 finishers

Everybody's life has some days which one never will forget. Definately this was one of mines! Simply I regard this day as my life's best ever and most exciting sports performance.

My only option to survive was to keep most of my power along 150 km on the way to the foot of Mt Ventoux. However, there were almost 2,000 meters of height difference to overcome until Bedoin, the village in front of the mountain.

The organisers had published their first elimination point to be practised after 113 km where one should arrive at 1pm latest. I was happy to be there at 12.10pm after it took me 34min from the gun shot at 7am to reach the start line.

Second elimination was after 149 km at the village of Bedoin at 2.50pm. I showed up at 1.35pm and now was fairly sure that I would make it to the finish in time. Finish closure was intended to be 5.30pm. I had a few minutes of rest and made my way to the top.

The final 21km consist of a consecutive ascent of almost 8% on average, with long stretches of more than 10%. 1,600 meters of height difference without a chance to recover. Temperature at Bedoin culminated at 38°c when I started my climb.

I stopped 3 short times for drinking but managed to carry on all the time. I guess 5 of the 21km I cycled while standing on the pedals! I saw fellow bikers falling, sitting, lying, vomiting, walking. I carried on cycling and clocked 2:32 hrs for the stretch from Bedoin to the summit. Especially compared to Erik Zabel whom it took 1:59 I was more than happy to reach the summit in style at 4.16pm.

Now I think I can call myself to be a cyclist.

Please feel invited to have a look at my photo gallery and view the videos.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Personal doubts

stats of the week: run 34km, cycled 155km, gyms 1

In my desperate effort to prepare for the l'Etape du Tour I cycled another organised bike tour in the nearby Sauerland, a low mountain range rising to not more than 840 meters above sea level. The route covered 155km and climbed around 1,800 meters of height difference which sounds to be a proper training for Mt Ventoux.

After 140km I imagined myself to be at the foot of Mt Ventoux - which accords to next Monday's race. And I have to admit I don't believe that I will be able to finish this race. I took another view at the elimination rules: They are rather challenging. One has to stick to an average speed of more than 20km/h to beat the sweeping up bus. At the Maratona dles Dolomites I managed an average speed of 17.7km/h ...

First feeding station will be at 76km! It's not going to be a day for beginners... Anyway I won't have time for a comfy lunch. There are two nicely called "Elimination Zones". Zone 1 demands to have done 113km within 5:30 hrs, Zone 2 says 149km within 7:20 hrs. And there are some hills in between. Oh folks, it is going to be a tough day ...

Friday, 10 July 2009

Bike Fun Day

stats of the week: run 11Km, cycled 190Km

Result bike race Maratona dles Dolomites:
106K/3100hm, 6:21:38 hrs, 338th of 542 M50-57, 1725th overall of 2523

Last week I said I'd rather run a marathon than cycling through the Dolomites but viewing back I am totally excited about this great bike tour around the Sella mountain taking in 6 mountain passes. It was a great day, a gorgeous experience and I ever would do it again! As most of the participants do - most of them were not new to the race.

After viewing the route by car I forced myself to opt for the medium distance of 106km. One is allowed to decide during the race how far to go. There are choices of 55km, 106km and 138km. The longest route takes in a 7th pass which is the most strenuous one. I don't regret to abstain from the ultimate tour. Being a cycling beginner I am quite content with my performance, one more hill would have tested my very limits. I put this aside for July 20th.

The result shows that I was able to let one third of the field behind me. What you couldn't analyse from the figures: I could have done much better when I won't be so much afraid of downhill cycling. On my slow way down I lost a lot of the places I won uphill. Between the 4th and 6th pass I won 280 places, downhill to the finish I lost 80 of them. Anyway I regard cycling being my recovery sport and I do it for fun. Therefore this memorable day was a big success. It was GREAT FUN.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Tempting Alternative

We are still staying in the Matter valley of the Wallis Kanton in Switzerland and during our daily hill walks in the area we frequently come across the preparations for the 8th Zermatt Marathon which will take place next Saturday.

After the start in the village of St. Niklaus the route follows the ascending Matter valley and takes 20km to reach the village of Zermatt. Then the real story begins. The runners have to climb the viewing point of Sunnegga which most tourists head for by mountain rail.

After a detour far into a hidden high level valley runners head for Riffelalp at 2,200m above sea level just to start the final very steep climb to the top of Riffelberg at roughly 2,500m. The scenery is breathtaking with the famous Matterhorn close by.

I have to admit I would prefer to run this marathon instead of cycling the Dolomites Bike Marathon as this seems to be the more dangerous and incalcuable challenge for me. Well - I have just decided I will run the Zermatt Marathon to celebrate my 60th birthday. Not too long to go.

More at Zermatt Marathon