|I have a new recipe for ending a long hard week at work, set a new
PR! Yep that’s right, nothing better than to apply all that
built up stress for something constructive. To be honest I didn’t
wake up yesterday and say to myself “today I’m going to
try to set a new personal record”. No, it was more like how
am I going to get everything done today.
Luckily running fever is contagious. A couple dudes from my work,
one from my office, the other across the hall, were also signed
up for the race. Both of them had also done the Baden Mile (8.88889K)
run on the “company team” and they were all fired up
for this run. I mean for them this was “the race” of
the year, 10K! It’s kind of hard NOT to get motivated when
you heard their enthusiasm. Anyway by the time I headed home from
work I was ready to rock!
So let me stop for a moment and talk about the City of Ettlingen,
where the race was held. Ettlingen, a 1250 year old city with a
population of about 38,000 people, is often referred to as the door
of the Black Forest. Lots of old timber-frame houses, a small palace,
numerous site seeing objects, overall a great place for a city run!
Ettlingen is of special importance to me, I spent 3 ½ years
of my military career stationed on the edge of this city, I am very
familiar with the area where the race is held and look forward to
running up and down the same streets that I did as a soldier. If
nothing else I know how “hard” the streets are, lots
of cobblestones, holes, obstacles etc.
So the Altstadtlauf (old town race) was scheduled to start at 7:30
p.m., I got home about 4:00, my wife (who only works a half day
on Friday’s) had pasta on the table, so I ate a light meal,
laid out my running stuff, then tried to relax for a while on the
couch. We headed out for the town of Ettlingen about 6:00 p.m.,
realizing from having made the run last year that we should try
to get there an hour early because of rush hour traffic and because
parking is always a problem. As anticipated we got caught up in
a traffic jam, crawled through the town finally reaching a parking
lot about a 10 minute walk from the Start.
I left my wife to wander around the various vendors and food stands
at the Start and I went and collected my starter kit. At this race
this was a T-Shirt and a Start number with some type of barcode
embedded in the number. I found my wife gave her my T-Shirt and
warm-up jacket, and being as it was about 30 minutes before the
race, made a last pit stop at the toilets, then warmed up. When
I finished I headed to the Start line.
The start was actually on the way to the Finish, so the kid racers
who were participating in a 1000M or 3.3K race were still coming
in. They got a lot of support as the 900+ 10K racers were standing
around waiting for them to finish so we could start. The race actually
started 5 minutes late because the kids took a bit longer than anticipated.
But it was great watching the little pee-wee racers giving their
all on what was probably for most of them a first race. Awesome!
Note from Jack’s book of running tips: Cheering other racers
before starting your own race is a great way to get the adrenaline
flowing! Clapping, jumping up and down, and generally making a lot
of noise will get your blood pumping, and leave you totally primed
to DO IT, YEAH!
So about 7:35 the last of the pre-teen racers went by and we quickly
lined up on the street at the Start. After a relatively short time
the countdown was heard, …4, 3, 2, 1, pistol shot…then
nothing. Being in the middle of the pack of 925 racers, I think
I just stood there for an eternity before I could finally start
waddling forwards, but then all of a sudden everyone surged forward!
It was kind of like a wave that reaches it’s peak then slams
down on the beach, I mean you could almost hear some of the runner’s
burning rubber as they accelerated. I got caught up in the rush
for a minute or so, but caught myself and shifted back down a little,
I didn’t want to burn myself out in the beginning.
We ran down a straight road for about 500-600 meters, past a residential
section, past the swimming pool, past the soccer field, into the
industrial section of town. Just before the 1K point the track narrowed
as we switched from the street onto a wide sidewalk, then onto a
service road that eventually snaked between two factories. At the
beginning of this service road was the 1K marker, I checked my watch
5:20, not bad for the first kilometer (8:35/mile).
So on down the dirt-covered service road we went, for maybe 300
meters, then we turned left through a gate to a factory, over a
parking lot, out the gate on the other side, past a pretty lady
with a tambourine banging out enthusiasm and cheering at the top
of her lungs. Man if she can do that with such enthusiasm then I
can pour on the steam! I shifted up a notch trying to bring my pace
to under 5:00/K (8:03/M).
Back onto a street, left turn onto a highway. I know this street,
it connects to the main street in Ettlingen. Back past the factories
(on the other side), the soccer field. Aahh the 2K marker, 10:21,
a little faster, still not fast enough. System check, legs good,
heart still not overworked, breathing calm, pick up the speed just
We entered the residential section again, here was some major crowd
participation, the weather was good, lots of people out cheering.
Yep, come on Jack keep the head up, don’t forget to smile!
Another ½ kilometer, lots of timber-frame houses, we were
near the center of town. The street changed from asphalt to cobblestone,
we turned left again, across a small bridge, through the old city
gates into the old market area of Ettlingen, this is the part of
town that is supposed to be 1250+ years old, almost all timber-frame
building, all so beautifully maintained, shop on the bottom, apartments
on top, I love this town!
People everywhere, from the shops, the windows, the beer cafes,
lots of cheering, the fat Italian cook, complete with apron and
spaghetti sauce standing outside his restaurant giving support.
A couple trying to get him to run with us – he laughs with
his belly bouncing.
Another left turn, wow look at all the people, both sides of the
street are lined with cheering masses of all ages! I see the start
banner, people everywhere, I look for my wife, too many people!
I pass under the start, end of the first round (time 16:38) –
how far are we now?
So back down the straight road, past the residential section, the
swimming pool, the soccer field…the 4K marker, what’s
my time 20:06, oh yeah looking good, pace strong and comfortable,
Into the industrial section, onto the service road, left turn,
through the gate, across the parking lot, through the gate –
the tambourine lady has been joined by a dude with a drum, she is
still cheering at the top of her lungs – bless her heart.
Come on legs do your thing, we’re gonna do it!
Left onto the road, past the factories, soccer field, swimming
pool, houses – I missed the 5K marker somewhere. Keep pushing,
move those legs. I hooked onto a dude with a baseball cap that was
running just a bit faster than my pace and let him draw me along,
gosh he looks like he is out for a Sunday stroll, not even breathing
hard. I stuck to him like glue, sometimes running beside him, sometimes
dropping behind when he speeded up, but I stuck!
The cheering crowds again, ahh the 6K marker, 30:08, keep pushing,
move! Left run, over the bridge, through the gates, through the
crowded market square, the jolly cook is still out there, but looking
kind of tired. Run! Another left, more cheering, the Start banner
coming up again. Through it, totally focused now, I will break my
Just a short lap now, down the straight road, past the residential
section, the swimming pool, left right before the swimming pool,
down a small road, across a bridge, left, we’re heading back.
The dude with the baseball cap starts speeding up, we head back
onto the highway, I pass him, he passes me…past the swimming
pool, past the houses, the 8K marker – 39:59. Hold the pace,
keep the legs moving, my lungs start complaining, sending little
messages to my brain, “We need to talk about this!”
The brain wisely ignores this whining, sends a message to the legs,
“You need to pick up the pace, let’s do it!”
Push, push, push, run, run, run, my breathing is getting fast,
gosh I’m not used to running so fast. “Shut up, don’t
think about this, the legs are fine, what are you complaining about!”
Hey dude in the baseball cap, where are you going, I think he hit
the turbo – oh the 9K marker, time to do it. Concentrate,
don’t look at your watch, push, you are a machine, push, faster.
Left turn, over the bridge, through the gate, through the market
The baseball cap dude is way ahead, got to catch him, come on legs
you have GOT to move faster, left turn, okay this is it the last
500 meters. PUSH! The brain is just going nuts, sending signals
everywhere, “Remember this is it, it’s make or break
it time folks, we may never be this close to a PR again!”
I see the Start banner, my lungs feel like they are going to burst,
come on, just a couple hundred meters, push, under the banner, right
turn, there’s the finish – remember those kids you cheered
for, their determination, sprint dam it!
Done, hit the stop watch, air I need air, huff, puff, air, puff,
puff, wow, gosh, whew, air. Got to walk, puff, puff. Air, I need
a drink. Ahhh tea, drink, drink. Okay do I dare look at my watch,
I close my eyes, look, open one 49:53! ALL RIGHT, I DID IT. Oops
spilled my tea. Ahhh, here comes my wife, she said 49:51 official
time! She watched me finish, awesome, sweaty kiss for her.
OH YEAH a new 10K PR!! And what is even more sweet, I broke the
50 minute barrier! It took eleven 10K runs, but I finally did it.
WOW! I’m all choked up. WOW!
Anyway I grabbed some more tea and rejoined my wife watching the
runners come in. The dude from across the hall at my company finished
right behind me, 50:13 (last year he smoked me!). His wife ran too,
finished in 1:01:46, a new PR for her too – ALL RIGHT!
The dude from my office was slower this year, 59:45. It is noteworthy
to mention that he 7 years younger than I am and did not train “at
all” for the Baden Mile, and ran only once for twice to train
for this race. He is in good physical shape as he is renovating
his house from top to bottom, but has no time to train. Imagine
what he can do if he trained, an animal! I looked around for the
dude with the baseball cap, but didn't see him again, I wanted to
thank him for pulling me along!
We eventually headed over to the beer stand and had a couple rounds,
enjoying our victories and making plans for the next joint adventure.
Racing is great, sharing the finish with friends is even better!
Today my legs are tired, but no pain, no cramps. And my “under-50”
PR is a sweet victory. So how is your weekend going!