The weather has changed and the trees are attempting to spread their seeds. The garden outside of our window, separating our building from the neighboring building (which creates a wall between us and the rest of the City) is full with white tufts, seemingly lighter than air, whipping about. The goal is to ensure that the genetic code they carry survives another generation. A casualty of their war against nature is my immune system.

I haven’t had much of an allergy problem since moving to Florida from the Great Plains. However, it seems as though Graz is much more similar to the latter.

 
Regardless, I’ve managed to survive and remain healthy until now, just over a week before my second competitive marathon. I’m not sick, just agitated with an itchy throat.

On May 6th I’ll be toeing the line of the Salzburg Marathon. The workouts leading up to this event have gone very well, and my only worry is that I haven’t kept up enough with the core strength necessary to carry me over all 26.2 miles without a hard crash in the later stages. I won’t keep any secrets. I literally have nothing to lose, and therefore I will be running hard to 20 miles, and then seeing how well I can hold on.

The most recent, and last REAL training session took place earlier today, and I am proud of how it went. I ran right around 5 minute per mile pace over four tempo intervals, for a total of 30 minutes running. I ran it all relatively comfortably, and would have been completely comfortable had it not been for my FEET. It seems the racing flats I’ve been saving for this occasion, and have attempted to use in training the past few sessions, are just so fast that they burn and blister me. I’ve never had this problem with footwear, and I’m pretty frustrated. The shoes feel 100% amazing, aside from the minor detail of causing me massive discomfort after about 8-10 minutes of running.

It’s too late to chase down a new pair of racing flats, so I’ll be digging an older pair out of the closet for this one.
But hell, if this is the worst that goes wrong I’ll be in GREAT shape crossing the finish line!

 

Advertisements

Believe it or not I’ve written a couple of blog “articles” since my last, but failed to post them to wordpress. When I found the time, and reread the posts, they were out of date and irrelevant. 

Regardless, let’s do this Ultra style and move forward.

Graz has been home for nearly two months now, and Lisi and I are slowly finding the ability to settle our restless traveling legs. Living anywhere has felt temporary for nearly a year now, so it’s nice to be able to take a deep breath in a place that feels a little more like our own.

Lisi is working at a local Yoga Studio, and really enjoying it. Since Mary Fukushima came into her life, she’s been a complete Yoga Nut. Which is alright, because she’s back on the track and training full steam in hopes of a comeback from 2007’s ACL rupture, the two surgeries over the course of two years to repair it, a brief layoff to finish her Masters work, and the pain of bringing a body back to an Elite level of fitness–twice. Needless to say, I am one proud husband, friend, and supporter. Her commitment and attention are fierce and relentless.

I have been spending about 8 hours a day sitting in chairs in a Uni “prep” school for foreigners, studying German, Math, Physiks, and Chemi. For the most part, the professors are friendly, fun, and engaging. I’m really sad that I didn’t commit more energy to the sciences in high school and afterwards, as they are immensely interesting and ripe for thought and discussion. At the end of each day I’m mentally thrashed, which makes getting out the door difficult, but once I do running is a joyous reprieve.

About two weeks ago I tested out my german skills on a young gentleman I met running along the Mur (the river running through Graz), and out of it came 3 (three) running buddies. One of whom was the 2009 Austrian Mountain Running Champion (also 21st in Europe and 41st in the World!)! I’m pretty stoked about the possibility of having friends–especially those with similar interests.
I won a little bit of cash in a recent race, and fully intend to host a “picnic” or potluck of some description for the runner dudes and any lady friends which they might have in the hopes that Lisi can meet a few people as well.

My training has been up and down the past two months. Mainly up, but with a few rough downs mixed in. I assume that my low volume (70-80 miles per week) isn’t quite enough to support the intensity and speed my body is capable of running right now.
I’m running workouts right now that I literally would have thought impossible 6-12 months ago. However, I’m able to run them alone, relatively evenly split, and amazingly relaxed. My “down” weeks are pretty rough, yet I’m getting the training in, and I’m allowing my body to recover so that I’ll be back when it matters… I hope 🙂
That past two weeks were one of those “down” periods, and leading into a half-marathon I wasn’t extremely excited about my sluggish, unresponsive, tired body.
However, the race went something like this:

I woke up to a cold, rainy, windy day near Nußdorf, Austria. I went through my routine race morning, waking up at least 4 hours before the event to do a short “shake out” run and to eat. Then I tried to relax and drink drink drink. Warming up for the event I was collecting a lot of looks with my bright orange Marmot rain coat and a pair of lime green “wind” pants that Lisi’s dad bought sometime in the late 80’s or early 90’s. I wasn’t too worried about the amused looks on peoples faces, as it’s much more powerful when the other competitors realize late that you are to be taken seriously. 
When the gun blew, Robert Gruber, a local favorite, shot to the lead blocking the wind for the first two miles. The pace was decent off the start, and I wanted to make sure it stayed warm, so I took the pole. Shortly, I realized that my goal of running fast was to be scratched. The race turned relatively tactical, and since I was in the lead I only had two options. I could try to let someone else lead and hope we didn’t slow to a crawl, or… I had to try to keep a little pressure on the guys behind me. I looked back and there was only Robert Gruber. My decision was made for me, and I leaned into the wind.
The race course was made up of three 7+ km loops, with 6 hair pin turns and rolling hills. As I ran into the wind thoughts flooded my head. I wondered if I was making the right decision by leading and pressing the pace, but in an instant decided that I wanted to keep the race pace honest, and that if he beat me he should have to work as well. Occasionally I would up the pace for 5 to 10 meters to test his resolve, and each time he kept locked on my heels. Heading into the wind on the third lap I relaxed a hair, trying to recoil from the efforts of the first 9 or so miles. I wasn’t dressed appropriately for a cold wet wind, and my hamstrings began to tighten. Cramps were coming. I began to question whether or not I would be able to break him, and yet again, with a split second to commit, I decided that stretching out a long kick would be more effective then challenging Robert to a short foot race after having taken the full force of the wind all day. With 3.5 miles to go I shortened my stride, leaned forward, and increased the tempo. Slightly at first, just enough to stress the man behind me, and then gradually more and more until I heard a small gap opening between the slaps of his feet on the wet asphalt. With just under two miles to go Lisi’s dad let me know that I had a 3 meter lead heading into the hilliest section of the course, and at the crest of the first incline I dropped everything I had and ran like a scared child over the last 1.5 miles. 

The crowd lining the finish line was going wild, and I couldn’t believe that I was in some tiny village in the foothills of the Alps and not running through the streets of Vienna. I finished in 1 hour 10 minutes 29 seconds. A two minute course record.
Robert crossed the line 10 seconds later, and we shook hands and thanked one another for a great race before putting on dry, warm clothes and shoes to warm down in.

The awards ceremony was another joy. Never have I seen so many people remain for the victor’s ceremony, and never have I been awarded with such a roar from the crowd. The GINORMOUS trophy and the small bonus for setting a course record were nothing compared to the adoration and respect from those who had just stood for hours in the rain to support us! 
As I left the area I noticed a mentally handicapable boy who had been cheering and jogging out along the course. He had been given a small trophy and was playing with it near the podium. I let him hold my trophy as we chatted, and discussed how if he runs next year, maybe he can win a trophy as big as mine. 
I should have let him keep the thing, but after 13.1 miles of cold rainy running, enough selfishness had crowded my mind to keep me from thinking of this young man first. 

In the end, did I really win?

I’d like to thank my sponsors: Lloyd Clarke Sports and Hammer Nutrition, as well as Herbert and Elisabeth Maurer for supporting me through another race. I couldn’t have crossed the line first without you!

 

Time is constant; so is change.

With time and experience, our beliefs and outlooks can change.

That’s life.

A patch of super cold weather rolled into central Europe a little over a week ago. Many people have died (homeless and elderly mainly, not that it makes a difference), but the gears beneath the golden casing of the master clock of time keep on grinding, and so must we.

I slacked in my training at the end of last week, honestly due to fear of the cold. I ended up only missing last weeks long run in my delusion that somehow I was going to be found frozen to a bike path after not returning one frigid afternoon.
I snapped out of it.
That’s not to be interpreted as me “enjoying” the running that I’m doing right now. I can honestly say that I do not get a thrill out of walking out the door everyday in these literally freezing temperatures. However, the joy of light, air, and movement is often not realized until after the elements have been absorbed. That being said, time has reared it’s constant head and changed me once again. I can enjoy what I’m doing right now, everyday, when I walk back in the door and sit down near the oven. 

I’m not running fast, and I’m not getting a high volume of miles, but I’m running through cold in the snow, and that’s got to be worth something.

I love running.

I don’t do it with the crazy aspiration that I will win an Olympic gold medal or set a world record. I do it because I love it. I’m okay with that. That’s who I am.

The fact that I’m halfway decent at it is just a little motivation, and a thin layer of icing on my cake.;-)

I hope that you can all find some peace and happiness in a little physical activity, and that you can find the time to incorporate it into your everyday lives.
It’s part of being the change.

 

But what do I know?
That’s just what’s on my mind… 

 

31 degrees and raining, ice on the ground.
32 degrees and sunny, wind that will blow you over.
30 degrees and snowing, fresh soft powder on the ground.
39 degrees and sunny, not a trace of snow on the ground.

You would think that I was describing the weather in Oklahoma, but you would be wrong…

The past four days in the countryside surrounding Salzburg, Austria have been odd, but at the same time familiar. The only difference is that in Oklahoma you only see that much snow on spring break! 

I’m back in touch with my coach, and we’ve made it through our first week of training headed toward a May 6th date with the Salzburg Marathon. I’m extremely excited about this for a number of reasons:

1. I’m going to race a marathon
2. This marathon is the Austrian National Champs, so I should get to race some quick guys
3. One of those quick guys is Karl Aumayr, who I’ve had the opportunity to train with a few times

Each of these three reasons has me pretty excited, but none more so than the third. I’ve seen Karli’s name in headlines and in Austrian running magazines for the past couple of years, and I’ve always thought he would be the perfect man to train with. As it turns out, not only is he a great person to run with, but he’s also great company. 

This Saturday, for a couple of hours he took me for a tour across the border of the Bundeslands (kinda like US states) Salzburg and Oberösterreich, where we passed the home he grew up in (with a brief greeting from his Aunt as we passed!). I was also able to see the plot of land where he intends to build his new home beginning this summer!
Soon after a long run on which we ran in weather ranging from calm and cold, to windy with dump trucks of snow, we settled down for brunch in his kitchen in Lamprechtshausen. I hope I didn’t eat him out of grocery money 🙂 ! 
Lisi joined us, and I quietly listened, working on my German listening skills, while drifting in and out of partial post long run comatose. The banter was genial, sometimes serious, sometimes playful, and made me at one time both hungry for the comfort of good fit Gainesville friends, and joyful for the new friends that Lisi and I have had the opportunity to make.

You should all keep your eyes out for Karl Aumayr on May 6th as he strongly glides his way to a crazy fast finish in Salzburg. If you do, you may catch a glimpse of me near him 😉

Bis Bald!

Andy 

 

So, my last post was WAY BACK Thanksgiving time, and this post is a week after New Years… WoW, a lot has happened in a short amount of time!

Lisi and I left Oklahoma on December 13th, and we’ve slowly been adapting to our new environment here in Austria. We currently live 25km outside of Salzburg, but we will be settling in Graz in March, so it’s hard to get too comfortable. Right now we’re in kind of a Limbo, and we can’t relax because everything is going to change again very soon!

We celebrated a beautiful, simple, festive Christmas holiday, with a real tree lit with REAL candles and adorned with hand-made and home-made ornaments. There wasn’t a store bought ornament on the thing… that’s my style. Gifts were few, but thoughtful and appreciated. The house was filled with the smell of cakes and cookies, and our evening meal was a traditional Wurst with freshly ground horse radish, mustard,  and rolls. Mutti made her homemade holiday punch, and we all feasted like Kings (and Queens)! After our delicious meal and joyful banter, we moved to the Wintergarten, where we sang Christmas songs to the sound of a Button box. It was pleasant, and the mood lasted for two days (The 24th, 25th, and 26th are actual holidays in Austria).

For New Years we visited a friend of Lisi’s younger brother, where four couples ate Fondu, played board games, and laughed into the night. At a quarter to midnight we all  poured outside into the road and watched fireworks envelope us as they shot out into the winter night sky. At the stroke of 12 the Vienna Waltz promptly began and we all danced right there in the middle of the street.
We exchanged hugs and wishes that one another would have a wonderful New Year before filing back inside to play a little more!

Now it is the 7th of January, and the time has flown. I spend my days studying math and German, needing to take exams in each subject in a few short months in order to be able to begin my studies at the Technical University in Graz.
Tomorrow, we make the drive to Graz to look at a few apartments, inspect the school and see where the essentials are located, and hopefully to help Lisi land a job! She has already found a Yoga “school” where she will study for 3 years in order to receive her certifications, and she’s maybe overly excited to begin!

As for me, the training is going alright. I’m not having any standout workouts, but I’m not feeling bad and I’m out there everyday making progress. The mileage is low, but I’m slowly building back up and trying to get the most of those that I do get in.
I’ll be happy when I’m ripping off some quick stuff again, and I cannot wait for the next time I’ll compete!

It’s day 7, I hope you’re living your resolutions!

THANKSGIVING! started somewhere on I-70 in eastern Kansas, and I was thankful when we reached the west side of Denver, Colorado around the time that Baby Henry woke up for a morning snack. Lisi and I quickly unloaded our sleeping bags from the car, and I crawled into a nicely made bed that CRASHED to the ground the moment that my knee met it’s center… anyone in the O’Donoughue household who had not woken up upon our arrival had certainly been stirred!

After a few hours of sleep, we awoke to a day filled with running (or hiking for some) at Bear Creek, football, playing with The Henry Monster, and eating a beautiful meal of Lamb, squash, onions, salad, potatoes, and some delicious pumpkin pie!

The rest of the weekend passed similarly, full of good food, great friends, lungs full of crisp mountain air, and a load of dirty diapers 😉

Our little trip reminded me why Thanksgiving is my favorite of holidays. All it takes is a few simple people with great big hearts and open minds to calm the anxiety and fear in a young man’s eyes.
I am thankful for a wife who loves me beyond measure, for friends who put up with me despite my eccentricities, for family who forgive me for poor communication skills, and for my poor memory which allows me to forget my blunders and continue plowing ahead on the greatest run of all — life.

 

BE THANKFUL. BE MERRY. And for goodness sake, go for a RUN!

For the first time in my life I have welcomed and embraced the decreasing temperature lovingly. My body is responding well to temperatures ranging from 25 to 55 degrees, with only slight joint tightness on the colder of those days.

I’ve taken up yoga at least one day a week, trying to make the time to increase to two days a week, and the flexibility and core work are making an amazing difference in the way I feel while running. For a couple of years now I’ve felt increasing discomfort and tightness while running, yet those restrictive feelings have subsided now that I’m committing to a small bit of strength and flexibility.

While I have struggled to maintain a pace under 7:30 minutes per mile comfortably over the last six months, since picking up training about a month ago, I have been reeling off 6:30 to 7 mintues per mile extremely comfortably and with little effort on runs of up to 20 miles.

Now that my base training is going smoothly, and I am feeling strong and comfortable, I am ready to establish a definitive goal race for the fall, and choose some stepping stones on my way to that goal.

For now, I am enjoying running more than ever. As I watch the season change I cannot help but to continue building the fire burning inside.

This is the story of a Monday morning run. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Can’t sleep. Isn’t that a dream…

After two weeks off from running, I have been back at it for a solid two weeks now. I have run every day for 14 days straight, which is something I haven’t accomplished since my last big race on June 4th. My body feels much better after a long overdo down period, and my runs are becoming increasingly more easy and enjoyable.

I have built up slowly the past two weeks to get my body back in rhythm, and it has proven to be the right tactic. I will, however, up my volume a bit steeply in the coming week and begin stressing the body a little bit again. It’s time to incorporate some fartlek and putting some LONG in my long run. This weeks long run will be two hours–which is double last week.

In the time since I’ve last written an in-depth post, I have completely removed alcohol from my diet, and I am feeling much the better for it. I’m currently trying to work down the amount of ‘extra’ sugars, which hasn’t proven to be too difficult. Most good foods seem to have plenty of naturally occurring sweetness in them, so I don’t feel as though I’m missing out on much. I use a lot of honey, and eat a lot of nuts, fruits, and vegetables (organic of course).

I haven’t mapped out an exact spring racing plan yet, but I’ve set my eyes on the Vienna City Marathon in April, with some mountain and Ultra running in the summer. I hope to start working in some quality hill work after the first of the year, and since I may be in Austria, some cross country skiing to strengthen up the core a bit!

Speaking of core, brace yourself for this:

I touched my toes last week!
What’s more? I touched the ground a few days later!!!

I’ve been attending a hot yoga class on Wednesday nights and it’s really been opening up my hips and helping to lengthen (strengthen?) my hamstrings. I’ll keep at it and keep you posted!

Just to let my Stillwater friends and family know, there is a new Bike shop in town. District Bicycles should be opening in the next week or two. Bobby and Crystal moved down from Emporia, Kansas to give Stillwater something it really needs in a locally focused business and hub for cyclists in the area. Spread the good word and check them out when they get their doors swinging open!

My friends and countrypeople-

I would like to take a moment to apologize for absenteeism.
I have been attending a near full university load, as well as working 35-40 hours a week, all while trying to see family and get some running in.

Much has happened since my last update.

Lisi and I made a commitment to stay in Stillwater for a year.
We both took jobs, and Lisi got all of her personal training certifications.
I received a letter of acceptance to TU Graz in Graz, Austria.
Lisi and I decided to leave for Austria (one-way flights leaving December 13th).
We are stressed to the gills!!!

Aside from that, my training has been crap.
I ran the Do Wacka Do 50k Trail run in Erick, Oklahoma at the beginning of September, smashing the course record by over 2 hours and toying with heat stroke. It was a gorgeous course, and a fun race.

I decided that with my poor training, fitness, and lack of funding, I will not be racing anything big this fall, so I jumped in another 50k trail run called the Flatrock 50 in Kansas. I went in with a tired body, an arrogant mentality, and a poor game plan, and I basically paced the winner to a new course record. I drove the pace as long as possible trying to break a guy who looked to big to outrun me over 50k, and ended up driving cramps into my already beaten up body. I finished a minute shy of the previous course record in 2nd place.
I learned a valuable lesson.

I’ll try to post more in the near future. Sorry for the delays… I’m just busy, and already behind!!!

Current Training Gear

* Saucony Kinvara/Fasttwich/Type A5

* Race Ready LD Split Cut short

* Smartwool PhD Running socks and PhD Graduated Compression

* Nathan Quickdraw Plus Handheld Bottle

* Timex Ironman Triathlon watch

* Hammer Gel

* Hammer Endurolytes

* Hammer Endurolytes Fizz

* Hammer HEED

* Organic Chocolate Whole Milk

* Ibex (wool products)

Recent Race Results

* August 12th - 1st Place TEAM Kainach Berglauf 3:23 (44 km)

*July 7/8 - 1st Place TEAM 24 Hour Run (412 km)

* June 24th - 4th Place Steyt Stadtlauf 20:04 (6.2 km)

* June 9th - 1st Place Lippizannerheimatlauf 1:14 (half marathon - 1000 ft elevation)

* May 24th - 2nd Place Brück Businesslauf 13:45 (ca. 4.5 km)

* May 10th - 1st Place Graz Businesslauf 11:50 (ca. 4.2 km).

* May 6th - 8th Place 2:30 Salzburg Marathon

* April 15th - 1st Place 1:10:29 Grawe Oichtental Halbmarathon. Course Record!

* September 24th - 2nd Place 4:30 Flatrock 50km. One TOUGH course!

* September 10th - 1st Place 4:05 Do Wacka Do Trail Race 50km. Course Record!

* June 4th - 4th Place 6:17 (50 Miles) The North Face Endurance Challenge MidAtlantic Region in Washington, D.C.

*May 1st - 1st Place 1:07 (10 Miles) The Claw XTerra footrace in Alafia River State Park, Fl

* April 4th - DNF Mad City 100km USA Championships in Madison, Wi

* November 25th - 15th Place 6:42 JFK 50 Mile in Washington Co., Md

* October 1st - 1st Place 20:30 The Beer Run 4 Miler in Gainesville, Fl

Coach and Support Crew

* Howard Nippert - Coach
* Gary Wing - Physio
* Lisi Maurer - Personal water crew and moral support (A.K.A - wife)
* Dana Howard - Wardrobe Coordinator ;-)
* Mary Kirkendoll - Yoga Monster

* LTV Bawag PSK Köflach

Sponsors

* Hammer Nutrition

* Lloyd Clarke Sports Racing

* Saucony

Tweetie Tweets

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.