Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

4 Mijl results not so good

October 12th, 2009 by Reinder

29:37... 3/4 minute slower than last year. Then again, almost everyone in my team was considerably slower than last year, by a similar margin. Perhaps it was the damp, chilly weather, perhaps it was that everyone was dressed for even damper, chillier weather. Whatever the cause, it's a bit of a dampener on a great running season for me.

This year, I did 5 competitions in total, including one in May that I forgot to write up. Or if I did, it got lost in the blog's categorisation. That was a 7K in Groningen, the Nacht van Groningen and my time there was nothing to write home about: 32:40.7 net. I had to bail out of a competition in Manchester, Tennessee because Aggie's cat, Pyewacket, had to be taken to an emergency vet in Murfreesboro, and I couldn't get to the starting line on my own steam. I hope I have better luck this fall.

In all I trained less this year but compensated in competitive miles. That's more expensive to do but I do enjoy it a lot. Before this year's 4 Mijl, I was getting a little fed up with running, which may be another part of the reason I didn't do all that well. But I still got a big buzz out of taking part and in a month or so, I'll get the itch to do it again. For now though, it's time for a break.

Thesinge Run 2009 results

September 27th, 2009 by Reinder

53:38 according to my clock, but my official net time is even better: 53:21! That's 3 1/2 minutes off last year's results with better interim times on the 9 and 10 than I'd clocked during the events I was in in the past few months. It's still 14 minutes slower than the winner though; this year's field was larger and stronger than last year's.

I ran with a stopwatch, taking care not to go much faster or slower than 4:50 minutes a kilometer. This worked wonderfully well and made the race much easier for me, at least during the first 7 kilometers. The second round through the gravel got a great deal harder at that speed, but I still managed to stay close to that target speed. Also, I've been running the past few events without my elastic knee brace and that's going very well.

This is likely to have been my last Thesinge Run and I do hope to find something similar in the United States. It's so much more fun to run in that village atmosphere with everyone knowing one another. Though compared to last year, that aspect didn't seem to be that good. I didn't feel the urge to hang around and have a beer after the run, enjoying the mood and the crowds. Things were done more efficiently this year, with officials cleaning up the signage immediately after the last participant in the women's 11 K. By 18:30 the area was getting empty and most people seemed to be gone. Maybe it's because the event was on a Saturday this year, or maybe the local authorities asked them to get the whole event over with as quickly as possible. Whatever the reason, it didn't feel quite the same as last year. I still liked the brass band though, and there's something special about running past a stable where the cows moo at you in disapproval.

My parents were there and took some pictures. I'll add those later.

After the event, I got some extra free exercise: I sprung a leak on my bicycle halfway home and had to walk another 4 K pushing my bike. Looking at the results again, I did that about as well as the participants in the Thesinge Run's 4 K walking event, but I was pretty knackered and grumpy afterwards. It's exactly what you don't want if you've already beaten up your muscles and burned 1000+ calories. I needed to sit down and eat food!

Speaking of food: add € 0.50 to my grocery expenses as I couldn't resist buying stewable pears from a local garden (for people coming in here looking for running event reviews, I've been trying to live off € 15 a week for the past 4 weeks as an exercise in financial discipline). They'll be yummy with cinnamon and some wine if I can get that for free. You just don't get people selling pears at city runs!

Me crossing the finish at 7 K - I'm not checking my stopwatch because at that point I still have 4 K to go. || Me crossing the finish at 11 K

Run Winschoten 10 x 10K relay

September 12th, 2009 by Reinder

I ran 49:27 in the 10 x 10 K relay event of the Run Winschoten as a member of the second Loopgroep Astrea team. For some reason, that team got listed as a woman's team, even though none of the members would pass the sex test, as far as I know.

This was actually my first 10K; I'd run an 11K and a 9K event before, but never a 10. The result seems in line with those other events. I do feel like it's getting easier now; the prospect of running at a good clip for that many kilometers and over 45 minutes no longer seems so daunting. That's why I joined the team at the last minute after someone dropped out without having to think about it much.

I've got two more events lined up; another 11K and a 4M, which will probably be my last running competition in the Netherlands. I feel I'm on track to beat my personal best at that distance (28:34).

Spending was limited to the cost of a train ticket to Winschoten. Another runner and I could get a ride back after the event, and as I ran last in my team's schedule, there was no time for me to buy junk food and beer. I'm kinda happy with that too, though I would have liked a beer right after the run. Beer after a run is one of the best things in the world.

Guess I’m not that out of shape after all

August 28th, 2009 by Reinder

I clocked 43:47 at the 9K event of the Bommenberendloop today, which was about 10 minutes faster than my target time. I was going to take it easy but I figured out pretty soon that I could comfortable pace myself at under 5 minutes a kilometer, and did, even though the route had hardly any distance signs posted.

The weather changed from sunny to rainy during the run, and afterwards I was not pleased to find myself cycling home in my sweaty running clothes in a cold downpour with an outside temperature of 12° Centigrade (54F).

The run, incidentally, is part of the festivities to celebrate the end of the Siege of Groningen on August 17 (according to the Julian calendar; August 28 according to the Gregorian), 1672. The siege was initiated and led by Bernhard von Galen, nicknamed Bommen Berend —"Bommen" means bombs, which he liked to fire into the city with his cannons. Despite this, the city and surrounding villages of Groningen kicked his ass and he lost 12,000 men. As the year 1672 was one that the Dutch people would otherwise have preferred to have skipped, this was and is a big deal to the townspeople (The Dutch versions of the Wikipedia pages linked above are much more extensive if you can read them and are interested in the history of this historical event).

Running, exercise and joint pains

January 30th, 2009 by Reinder

Since my last physical peak in October, I've kept up with running but let other forms of exercise fall by the wayside a bit. I've not been to the gym since back then. As a result, I've lost a bit of muscle strength and gained a bit of belly fat. This is not the end of the world, except that I'm too cheap to buy a set of wider pants.

What has been bothering me, though, is that over the past two weeks, I've had to deal with joint pains that flare up a day or two after training with my running club, which are bad enough to make it hard for me to walk for a day to a day and a half. I don't think these are directly caused by running; rather, they're a seasonal, temperature-related inflammation. I've had to deal with these before though I've previously only had them in my hands. The pains, in different locations each time so far, do flare up after running and sometimes last long enough to make it impossible to go to the next training.

So instead of running last Wednesday, I went to the gym today for a light workout - cycling, elliptical trainer, some easy weight training, nothing that strains the joints. I've also made an appointment for next Tuesday at six o'clock to discuss how to train during a flare-up. I expect I know what the answer is going to be: short, easy and frequent workouts with low impact, maybe 45 minutes every day at a level that doesn't require recovery. But we'll see. To be continued...

Whoo! 4 mile run results

October 12th, 2008 by Reinder

Despite having grown 13 years older since last year's 4 Mijl van Groningen, according to my classification (fill in the number 6104), I have shaved a minute and a half off my previous record by net time, finishing in 28:52.4 this year. Or have I? This time around, the explanation of what gross vs. net finishing times mean is incomprehensible and self-contradictory, but considering that I passed the starting line something like half a minute after the signal, I think I should use the net. If not, I still ran 29:37.7, which is almost a minute off last year's result. And I beat my boss this year, even though he improved his personal record too.

As usual at the 4 Mijl van Groningen, I had all sorts of agues and pains at the start, needed to go to the bathroom when the signal was given, didn't feel my right shoe was tight enough after the first 500 meters, had to duck and weave past other runners, bumping into at least one (sorry!) and got another runner's hand in my face at about 5 km. But I still felt great once I was done with it. The weather was once again great and seeing all those other people run was very motivational. There's nothing like passing runners with a much lower start number than you, who started several minutes before you.

I did catch a glimpse of winner Eliud Kipchoge (start number 1), who was apparently born in 1900 according to the event's database, shoeing up with two other very skinny African guys. Kipchoge, who also won last year, is impressive to watch, making me look obese in comparison. He finished in 17:30, not improving his personal record - I don't think I'll ever bridge that gap though.

Thesinge run results

September 28th, 2008 by Reinder

I ran 56:44 net (56:49 gross) in the 11 km at this year's Thesinge Run on Saturday, finishing 18th out of 49. I'm very satisfied with this result. Prior to the event, I didn't feel ready for it - I'd come out of trainings feeling like I couldn't keep up with my training-mates and on the day itself, I had some mild asthma problems. I was also worried that I'd knock myself out in the first few kilometers, because I'd never run an 11K or even a 10K before.

In the end, the asthma concern actually helped me, because I had another motivation to slow down at the start. My breathing was irregular during the first half but stabilized during the second. I was able to talk throughout the event. At the 1K point, the guy running next to me clocked us at 4:50, at which I slowed down a bit more. I passed the 4 Mile mark (official length of the 4 Mijl van Groningen) at a little over 33 minutes, and could speed up a bit during the last 2 kilometers, catching up again with the guy with the stopwatch before finishing.

Wilma de Vries, winner of the women's 11K, told me she'd seen me finish and that I was looking pretty good at the finish line. In short, I ran the race by the book and finished with energy to spare. Good. Next year, if I'm still in the Netherlands, I'll knock a few minutes off that time.

I love the Thesinge Run. It's only in its second year, but it's well-organized, with many of the teething problems from last year dealt with. The start was earlier in the day so no one had to run in the dark, and there were real dressing/showering facilities and a pasta meal after the run this year (I didn't go to the pasta meal, preferring to drop by at my parents, who live nearby and hit them up for food instead). Because the community center had been renovated, partly with the takings from last year's run, there was a bar as well, so when I fancied a beer after the race, I could have one. That drew some comments from people in the audience as I was drinking beer while still in my running clothes. Also, this year's weather was fantastic.

What hadn't changed was the inclusive atmosphere, with the entire village turning out to help out, encourage runners, take photographs and have a good time with the event and make everyone feel a winner. The different categories were also set up to allow everyone to take part, with special kids' runs for the very youngest (though young children who felt up to it could also take part in the adult events and the women's 4K was in fact won by a nine-year-old girl) and generous time limits allowing people to walk the 4K and 4M. It's the camaraderie that makes the Thesinge Run so much fun - that and running on gravel and shell paths running through farmland. I didn't notice quite as many cowpats as last year, which I'm grateful for.

Me at about 2 km || Me at a hundred meters or so from the starting line, though I can't tell if it's the first or second time I passed that spot

Four-mile run results

October 14th, 2007 by Reinder

I ran the 4 Mijl van Groningen in 30minutes 32.9 seconds today, which was a whole 4 minutes off last year's result. It was also quite a bit faster than I expected to run on the basis of Wednesday's training or my result in the four-mile event at the Thaisner Dörpsrun two weeks ago, when I ran 34:05. On the other hand, that last run was done on a trajectory riddled with potholes and covered in cowpats, in windy, rainy, chilly conditions. And it was a couple hundred meters longer than 4 miles. On the third hand, today's summery heat wasn't exactly ideal for running either.

To be honest, the village event in Thesinge was more fun than the 4 Mijl van Groningen. Fewer people, and the village atmosphere was just too good to be true. The start/finish line ran between the school and the church, and pretty much the entire population turned up to cheer. The people guarding the route came out looking like absolute troopers, staying at their posts to guide everyone in the right direction in the cold rain. Oh, and there was even a guess-the-weight-of-the-pumpkin competition run by the schoolkids.

The 4 Mijl van Groningen is more of a real sporting event, with some top athletes on the roster running it in 18 minutes or thereabouts. Still, for the non-competitive part, it's also a celebration of running and of people's individual health and fitness goals.

One thing I did this year that I'm never going to do again is go to the starting area in my day clothes, change on location and hand over my stuff to the clothes trucks that the organisation provides. While all this is handled reasonably professionally, it's still a pain in the arse to have to deal with. My goal was to have a little more flexibility in picking out what outfit to wear, but as I arrived very late, I had to change in a hurry, then rush to the truck to hand my stuff over. So next year, I'm going back to paying attention to the satellite weather forecast, traveling to the start in my running clothes carrying my keys and maybe a few euros for emergencies, like I did last year. It's a lot less stressful.

30:33 is just a little slower than the last result accomplished by my boss at work, so I guess I'll never hear the end of it when I show up there tomorrow morning.

By the way, my start number was 17721, in case you want to check on my claim/look at embarrassing photographs when they're published.

See also: Jeroen's experiences. Seems he has the same problem that used to bugged me as late as last year (but which has since cleared up for me through careful training).

Quick life updates

July 25th, 2007 by Reinder

- The two best-match vacancies I wanted to apply for evaporated on closer inspection. One had expired in June, one was run through an intermediary who was under strict instruction not to pass on resumes from people who didn't have a University diploma in English/Dutch Translation. I might still send an open application to the first firm though.

- Lifestyle-wise, I'm still moving towards more of a normal worker's schedule. I'm working on my habitual procrastination. I found out that not having music on over breakfast gives me more of a desire to get out of the house - today, I managed to cut half an hour's worth of dawdling that way. Dawdling in the morning is my biggest time sink - all the other distractions during the day are minor compared to that.

- I'm also looking more closely at my own assumptions on how I go through the day. I've always thought of myself as "not a morning person" but this only really holds true for my writing and drawing. Anything else, from dentist appointments to swimming to photoshop work on my art can and should be scheduled early in the day. I think. Maybe. Possibly.

- I did a bit of teaching work today. Fun. Well-payed too, and the contact who got me this gig may be able to get me more.

- I still haven't read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and I really should get started on it as the spoiler policies in the various Livejournal communities are more laxly enforced by the day. Even the HMS_STFU community on Journalfen, which is run with an iron fist and sarcasm, had a partial spoiler above the cut in one post.

- After today's training, I think I may be able to run a half-marathon in not-embarrassing time and without arriving at the finish limping and puking. I'll see how my bad knee feels tomorrow and then, if it's not killing me, start looking for a suitable event in September or October to train towards.

Sweet endorphin rush

June 4th, 2007 by Reinder

Man, if anyone had told me fifteen years ago that even a mild runner's high was better than being drunk, I'd have come out of University a superhuman athlete, asthma or not. Recently I've been using short solo runs (I mean really short - 15 minutes will do the trick) as an anti-depressant and it's really making a difference to how I feel through the rest of the day after running and the day after.

Right now, I do have some performance problems. A month ago, I went on a cycling trip that did some damage to the calf muscles in both legs. It wasn't even a long cycling trip, but the conditions were pretty bad, with strong wind and some demanding uphill stretches putting too much strain on those muscles. The next time I went running, after skipping one group training, my legs didn't cooperate at all, and they're unreliable even now. Tonight's training wasn't too bad - my legs were sore but at least they worked, and I'm almost back to the level I was at before last year's foot problem.

Yes, you could say I break easily.

I am making more of an effort to pace myself, though. One thing that's turned out to be useful is that list I made a while ago of things that I do and don't like about running. When I posted it, I didn't mention two things that I added in the "dislike" column a week or so later: warming up and stretching. Hate them. Necessary evil, but evil nonetheless.

What I do with that list is use it to make sure I don't avoid those things or skimp on them. I need to warm up even though I just want to get some mileage behind me; I need to stretch afterwards. I need to do dynamic exercise and strength training, and I need to get used to running in hot weather.

Last weak, trainer Marzena mentioned that it's quite possible to be sweating from the outside temperature and not have warmed-up muscles, so I'm also paying more attention to that. I'm going to train in long trousers until it really becomes unbearable, just to make sure the legs are properly warm. I'll sweat more, but once I'm adjusted to it, it'll make more of a difference on those really hot summer days when I do switch to shorts.

I got a starting number for the 4 Mijl van Groningen. It's one of the very highest, meaning I won't be allowed to start until just before sunset, probably. My aim this year will be to keep myself from seriously hurting myself throughout the summer and run the distance in less than 30 minutes. I may take part in some other events in the run-up, but the 4 Mijl will be the year-to-year comparison event for me.