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Some adventures and special trips.

Review of 2016.

The beauty of each New Year to me is looking back and evaluating, maybe making new plans for the coming year. Last year, I hoped to have a better one than 2015 and looking at the charts, I can be proud of myself. I have improved. I might not have been hitting a lot of PRs but I have finally managed to incorporate sport into my mundane Mondays [1].

 

GENERAL

As I have mentioned before, I was able to train more regularly than last year. I have recorded 165 activities on strava.com. So you can say, I did something three days a week! If we compare 2015 and 2016 in terms of elapsed time, I have only trained for 86% amount from last year. Yet, it was spread into more units – 165 vs. 136 the year before. So, you can say, I did more shorter units this year, apprx. 40min each day..

The overall distance numbers are looking brighter as well, check out the charts below.

CYCLING

cycling

…cycling about 108% of last years distance. [2] It would be about 36.5k and 103min weekly. If I take the fact under consideration that I only bought a new bike in July, I was riding about 70k in 200min weekly during the time, I acctually had a bike. What is more, if I keep up the trend, I will be able to hit 5000k next year!

RUNNING

running …significant improvement in running, about 145% of last years distance! [2] In average it makes 14.4k and 127min weekly. The altitude is even more impressive, 19,920m! It might be not a lot for those guys who acctually live in mountains but I have to travel some distance to get to those parts and only during weekends and holidays. So, I think I did well.

MONTHLY REVIEW

Putting things into a monthly perspective and including all kind of excercise looks more interesting – at least to me.

 

These graphics clearly show that March and June were the laziest months of the year! March could be explained easily, I was finalising my master thesis and it got my undivided attention. Concearning June, I have no valid excuse. FYI, June 2015 was also very poor – the mystery continues. On the other hand, September was great even this year and what is more, I have been training regularly two days out of three since then.

The average number for time spent training (excluding months June and September from the statistics) would be 19.8 hours in a month. (19.4 hours in 2015). My optimal training plan would imply 35-40 hours, so I have completed only 50% of my plan, just like in 2015. Yet, I have acctually managed to fullfill the plan, even it was only in September and October, a big improvement to the last year (I only managed to do 70-80% during busiest months). Another positive thought is that I have managed to do more kilometers in less hours than last year – hopefully, I am getting faster :-). So, let´s step it up next year!

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2017!

 

[1] Yes, I am a big fan of waitbutwhy. If you do not know it yet, make sure to google it 🙂

[2] Graphics were exported from Strava.com, using StravistiX extention for Chrome. It adds plenty helpful information and it is free.

Ring of Steall SkyRace. 2016

For those who are folowing me on instagram (@runingarchitect) might have noticed my trip to Scottland at the end of September. It was a special one, as I took part in a skyrace [1].  I have acctually signed up at on the February 1st, which would have given me plenty of time to prepare if I only were thorough with training. Nevertheless, I have tried to make the best out of it and run a great race. If you are not familiar with skyrunning, you might check out the links attached below. [2]

If I talk about a competition, you have to know, it is not about competing for the first place in my case. However, it was one of the kind experience for me. Entering the race, I was fully aware of my poor shape and I have came up with a strategy to survive. My aim was not to get injured and finish the run before the time limit runs out. For an untrained person like me, 29km and 2500 vertical meters are quite a lot. Plus, this particular event is well known for its technical paths. I acctually used the second part to my advantage as I have grown up in the mountains and have been moving on rocks for some time now. The main struggle for me was lifting my bottocks up the hill. The down part was easy (fyi, there were no flat parts). Neglecting the long-term preparations evoked some panic few weeks before the event. Realising, I went tofar down the road, I decided to plan at least to plan the day. I have learnt the track, its technicalities, I maped out pace and splits I have to manage to make the cut (the time limit was 9 hours, running from 10am till 7pm). Additionally, I spent one week in altitude – better than nothing. I have been very excited to see Scottland, and see all those fast people I have only seen on screen.

We have arrived on Thursday and took a little roadtrip by car as Kinlochleven [3] is quite out of reach by plane. I was very enthusiastic watching those grassy hills behind the window and wanted to jump out of the car right away. It looked so idyllic untill I acctually got out the car and realised, everything was soaken wet. Bummer. At least, there was no way I will run out of water :-)). Thankfully, the weather was amazing. Thinking back, I barely remember rain – definitelly not on my race day! Some foggy clouds prowling over ridge made it look more dramatic and exciting.

I have to say, the organisation was excellent. I think the next race I will run will be a let down, no matter how hard they will try.. I absolutely loved the race tatoos! I was so proud afterwards to finish the race, I did not wash my forearm for a week so it won´t wash off :-)) Following the plan I have established before, I have finished the climb as the very last person. Somehow, I made my peace with that idea before the race. I think it was the most important lesson I have learnt that weekend. You have to assess your skills correctly. If you have unrealistic expectations, you will fail. You have know, how hard you have trained and do not count on any miracles happening on the race day. If your legs are lazy in general, there is no way you will suddenly hop around like a deer (it is a slovak expression).

Taking my chances, I have done a great job on that Saturday – mentally and physically as well. I think everyone with a mediocre fitness level would be able to finish it wihtin nine hours (it took me 8:45, yay. I made the cut!). The only trick was to survive those nine hours out there. Not to burn out in the first climb, not to twist ankle between the rocks, no to slip on the downhill and hurt yourself.. and last but not least, not to go mad and endure till the end. I think the mental part was the most important one and my biggest fear was the silence – you were not allowed to listen to the music. Sometimes, a good song can contribute so much to your run, especially it it is a long one like this.. Nevertheless, I made my peace with this rule and run in silence few trainings as well to get used to it.

All in all, it was one exceptional day fo me. I was so proud of myself to finish it. What is more, I was surprised by how competitive it got even at the tail! I have had a full race experience and yet somehow I managed to pass the finish line with a smile (and outrun some people as well!). The next day, I have got to spectace the main event – Glen Coe Skyline. Despite the hurting legs, I could enjoy so much. All my emotions were somehow hightened – probably due to pain. Nevertheless, the atmosphere was amazing. These guys, they are so fast. You have to see it with your own eyes to be able to imagine it. All in all, I loved the whole trip and on the airport, I have already started thinking which one I will run as the next.. I am still not sure, but till then I have put some pictures together from the whole adventure for you in the gallery below, check it out.

As an arcitectural highlight, I have got to see the GLENFINNAN VIADUCT [4], a pionieer work in mass concrete (from the era before the reinforced concrete) constructed in 1897-98. Afterall, I am an architect. I was very impressed as it is still in use and it did not deteriorate over time at all. I guess most of you have seen it in one of Harry Potter´s movie – I am not sure which one but it certainly attracts lots of people to go to visit it.. And there is still a steam engine passing by every now and then, if you are interested..

[1] the official web site of ring of steall skyrace 2016 here

[2] some nice videos by salomon on skyrunning at their youtube channel here and one of my favourite videos here.

[3] Kinlochleven. 56.713736, -4.962816

[4] read more at wikipedia here

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Sporty Saturday Vol.4 – autumn ride(s) .

I have some news, I have recently rediscovered the beauty of cycling. I know the page is called runningarchitect.com but I have spent the first seven months this year in running shoes and have been looking for a little twist lately. Living in Brandenburg you do not get very far by foot, so everybody rides a bike here..

After finishing the cycling adventure [1]  last September with my dad, I needed a little distance from my mountainbike – it is acctually just a hardtail, so some of you might not consider it to be a proper MTB 🙂 Anyway, spending the winter time in Slovakia and my behind needed some rest, I have focused on skiing and hiking, which has turned into occasional running and I did not miss it until the summer started and I have realised I have no means to get to the beach! I wanted to expand my playground and despite my trips to Saxon Switzerland [2], I felt like missing something.

Therefore, I have bought myself a new bike. After a heated discusion with my closest, we agreed a cyclo cross will be the right choice for me on these flats. It is basically a robust road bike with bigger tires, so you have no problem on gravel roads and can still be fast on proper roads as well. I would have never believed, how much extra speed can you gain by a good bike. Before, I would have rarely finished a ride with a faster average speed than 20 km/h, suddenly I could get up to 24 km/h without any further training.. Nevertheless, I have improved a bit and on good days, I can go 26 km/h – it is still working progress but it feels completely different. On that thought, I might do a separate post on the experience of riding a CX soon as I am quite enthuiastic about it these days. Till then, I have collect at least some pics from my latestest expeditions. The variety of landscape is so impressive here, I have only seen a fraction of the surrounding but there are such huge differences – you can check out the little gallery I have put together for you below. I think that is the main point I love about cycling – everything around you is constantly changing and it gives me a feeling of freedom.

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[1] Long ride: Cottbus-Brezno link for unfinished article here. And I promise, I will try to finish it in the near future 🙂 Anyway, pictures are already uploaded, so you can skim though..

[2] Two older posts and these are actually finished, enjoy reading.. link 1, link 2

Sporty Saturday Vol. 03 – Rocking the rocks, again.

If you are following me on instagram (for those who want to join me @runningarchitect) you would know, that I have returned to the Saxon Swizerland few more times. What is more, I have the feeling, I will be coming there more often as that place rocks – so let me show you what I am so crazy about.

Looking at the map, the area does not seem to be so huge. Do not let that fool you, because it is a very large and diverse place. You can go there for an easy family trip with your kids or you can power out and even work in some vertical meters as well. As I have learnt before, the map I have got [1] is not as accurate as it can get – some of the drawn paths are missing in the reality. What is worst, the german marking system sucks. If you have every been walking or hiking in Czech Republic of Slovakia, you would know what I am taking about. You must deliberately want to get lost to wander off a path there. So, to avoid confused looks into my map at each crossroad I would have pass, I have started planing the routes in advance [2] and it turned out to be a great time saver. It would send me to a strange places from time to time :-), but I was able to pick up pace a little bit and run wild. Yeah, I have got some strange and confused looks from people I was passing by as the trail running is a new thing here. However, I have met few guys on the train, who were (judging from their outfits and gear) definitely going for a run there – so I have got high hopes. And now to my favourite part of posts, I have put together few shots for you in the gallery below, please enjoy.

 

[1] Scale 1:25 000, by Kompass.

[2] Using the Suunto watch Ambit3Sport link here and movescount.com.

GPX-file 01 [26k]

GPX-file 02 [12k]

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Sporty Sunday Vol.02 – Saxon Switzerland

Moving to the southern Brandenburg (DE) has at least one great perk – I live closer to Saxon Swizerland [1]. So, I have finally packed a small backpack and went for a hike accompanied by a friend of mine (hence, there are also pictures of me in the gallery 🙂 ). I have already been in the southern part of the mountains before but I think the northern part (everything above the river Elbe) is even more impressive. Mountains never get old for me and to be honest, I haven not seen even half of those charming spots there yet. I am sure, I wil be returning there soon. If you are a fan of climbing on sandstone or you just love rocks, I would definitely recommend putting it on your list. I am sure, you will be able to find some recommendations on the Internet – there are plenty of routes, some are more challenging than others. You can check out our route in the file attached below. The best part is, the most of the paths are completely runnable if you can chatch a breath.. Enjoy.

GPX-file

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[1] You can read more about Saxon Swizerland at Wikipedia.

Sporty Saturday Vol.01 – Running flat and straight forward

I have mentioned in my recent post that I have moved back to Germany, and I happend to live in a small villiage (population of ca. 4.000 people) in Brandenburg. After a half year spent in the beautiful mountains of Slovakia, I am back on plains again. At the beginning, I have been enthusiastic about it as training in altitude for several months contributed to the increase the number of my red blood cells and therefore I found it easier to run down here. When I started running in the mountains (up to 2.000m altitude) in November, I was not able to climb a hill without taking multiple breaks on my way up. So, I have tried, tried and tried. At some point in January, I have noticed the improvement and was quite sad to move back to the flattest area in the Europe. I dare to say, even in Netherlands you would find more hills than here :). However, it has a certain advantages. If you are running flat with the extra strength from hills, it is so much easier. My PRs are stellar comparing to those from back home and I can feel the wind in my hair when running :-). If you are an amateur like I am, you probably know the excitement of discovering speed on your runs.  Unfortunatelly, it can get little boring from time to time. All pictures you take are in landscape mode and there is definitely no need for panorama shots anymore. On the other hand, it is always nice to be a new place – new great trails which need to be explored! So, I have been quite busy these past weeks and I have spent great deal of time on movescount.com planing my next move. I prefer to look at the map, plan ahead and then put my shoes on. It would be irresponsible to run out into woods without having a clue where you are and checking my phone for the curent location every few minutes is annoying. So, I just put the route into my watch and they show you the direction to the next point of interest etc. Very simple, I have grew very fond of this feature lately.

All in all, I have already run some kilometers and can already pick some favourites. I have to say, I used to love to run along the river before, when living in Cottbus. Now, I prefer the woods. I have tried to put in 10k along the river here but I have having hard time finishing them! It was like never ending story. On the other hand, when I run in the forest, the time flies! I have put together a small gallery of impressions, I have collected over past weeks. I have been going for a run mostly in the morning, before work. Yet, there are even some shots taken on the runs after work. Either way, the light was usually very soft :). I hope you will enjoy it!

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My review of 2015.

New Year is always a great opportunity to look back, close one chapter of a book, and then start fresh. Here goes my evaluation. (The purpose of this post is not to brag or impress you guys – even if I wanted to, the numbers are quite disappointing :-).) Thankfully, I did not have much troubles adding the numbers together as I have been uploading my sport activities on Strava.com. For your information, these do not include communting of any kind and no strolls.

CYCLING

It seems that I have biked 1.759 kilometers in 114 hours and 27 minutes while gaining 21.729 vertical meters. In other words, I have spent only about 2 hours a week sitting on my bike and have ridden poor 33.7km in average. It is very unsatisfying. Especially considering the fact that I have biked in 12 days from Germany to Slovakia which was about 900km. So it only leaves me with 850km of rides during the rest of the year and only 16.9km weekly. This means, I have only went on a proper ride once in a three weeks. However, I have include the winter time into this statistic and the fact that I have not ridden a bike since that great journey has not been embraced either. If I were to correct this statistic, I should only consider the period April – August (153 days). All in all, the weekly number would be somewhere around 39km during the cycling period. It is still only one ride a week, so I guess there is no way to make my cycling activities looking intense in any way. 😀

RUNNING

I have been running, hiking, and walking. Unfortunatelly, Strava.com included only those run kilometers into the following statistic. I have manage to run 496km in 75 hours and 36 minutes with overall altitude gain of 12.345m. The distance would cover on way from my hometown to Prag, and the altitude gain would cover conquering Mont Blanc for three times. Again, not very impressive. It is only about 9.5 km in a week – so it is againg only one training ina  week-time as my usual routes are about 8-11km.

 

 

MONTHLY REVIEW

Putting things into a monthly perspective and including all kind of excercise looks more interesting – at least to me. It covers rides, fast and slow runs, and hikes as well.

monthly time

This graphic clearly shows that September was the most active month for me – yeah, the famous ride home from Germany. On the other hand, the least active month seems to be June. It is quite surprising as it is summer time in Europe, days are the longest, and it is also quiet at school. My guess would be, I was moving out from my old apartment at the end of June so I was rather busy packing boxes.

The average number for time spent training (excluding months June and September from the statistics) would be 19.4 hours in a month. It is only 4.6 hours of training, weekly. My optimal training plan would imply 8-10 hours in a week, so I have completed only 50% of my plan in 2015.  If I were to consider only the months I have been attempting to train actively, the second half of the year 2015, I have manage to cover 28.5 hours in a month, so basically 6.6 hours in a  week. It is better than the yearly average, yet still not fullfilling my plan (meeting only 70-80%).

monthly distance

monthly vertical distance

Looking at the overall distance I have scraped last year, the results are similiar. I have been skipping trainings in June and was very active in September. The vertical distance I have covered was clearly influenced by the my current location – it was quite impossible to avoid altitude when being in Slovakia. On the other hand, I was having hard time putting in vertical meters moving around Cottbus which is the flattest place in Germany, in my opinion.

 

ALL IN ALL

I could honestly say, I have had period when I was consciously training and then times of skipping training this year as well. At the beginning of the year, I was at my laziest which is very surprising. It is usually that time of the year when the most people are starting their new chapters. Apparently, not me.  I am an exception. January is too depressing for me to start something exciting – days are too short, the weather is too cold, and the schoolwork starts to pile up on my desk. For what is worth, I have already started a new chapter this summer and will be happy with keeping the things the way they are right now, maybe improving thing or two. I have been living these past months in a belief, I am training a lot and could easily overtrain myself. Ehm, looking back, it is obviously not that case at all. I might have had the feeling, I am doing a lot – especially compared to the months before. Unfortunatelly, that was a very subjective observation. The numbers are tough and it is a little bit of let down for me. On the bright side, the coming year has twelve months – plenty of time for improvement, so let’s make them count!

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016!

Long ride: Cottbus – Brezno

In the second half of September (18th – 29th Sept. 2015 to be more precise), I have moved out of Cottbus for good. To make this last moving more special, I have suggested to make it on bicycle and my dad jumped on board immediatelly. Yes, it is not exactly a short trip, it has been around 920km. Yet, it was very rewarding and I would do it all over again. It is important for you to know, I have been enjoying cycling regularly and this was not my first longer trip. It all started when I was a child and dad would take us on such expeditions. Back then, I guess I was still in kindergarden and as I was the younger child, I have been privilaged to sit in child seat on the dad´s bicycle and my brother had to pedal upwards. But then, we would switch places for the downhill part! Later on, when I grew up a little, I was stripped down of this special treatment and had to ride my own bike. Nevertheless, I have been enjoying these trips ever since.

I have been fully aware of the challenge I wanted to undergo, so I have started with preperations two months in advance. I had to improve my fitness condition in order to be able to manage getting home in those two weeks. I would highly recommend it to anyone, who wants to do something similiar – unless you are a Pro :-). I also bought a new tent (Micra II by Salewa, for a personal review, please visit “My Gear”), as we planned on camping and I have packed my proper sleeping bag!


Day 0, Friday 18th September 2015

Cottbus, DE – Felixsee (35km)

To cope with complicated logistics of transporting bicycle by bus or tain, dad has decided to start the trip few days earlier and take a train from home to the west-northern part of Czech Republic, close to German borderline and bike to Cottbus. Then, we were supposed to meet for an official start of the trip around noon in front of university library in Cottbus.

..to be continued.


Day 1, Saturday 19th September 2015

Felixsee – Bautzen (91,7km)


Day 2, Sunday 20th September 2015

Bautzen, DE – Marenice, CZ (68,7km)


Day 3, Monday 21st September 2015

Marenice – Vysoka nad Jizerou (69,7km)


Day 4, Tuesday 22nd September 2015

Vysoka nad Jizerou – Adrspach (74,1km)


Day 5, Sunday 20th September 2015

Adrspach – Destne (72,4km)


Day 6, Sunday 20th September 2015

Destne – Kopriva (78,3km)


Day 7, Sunday 20th September 2015

Kopriva – Nove Techanovice (92,3km)


Day 8, Sunday 20th September 2015

Nove Techanovice – Studenka (51,6km)


Day 9, Sunday 20th September 2015

Studenka, CZ – Staskov, SK (80,1km)


Day 10, Sunday 20th September 2015

Staskov – Podbiel (100,7km)


Day 11, Sunday 20th September 2015

Podbiel –  Brezno, SK (101,7km)


MAPS

link: GPX-files

link: KMZ-file (can be opened only in Google Earth)

map02

Screenshot 01


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Running in Albano mountains

Participating in architectural surveys in Villa Domitian in Castel Gandolfo, I have had chance to spend a fair share of time running around there. We have been staying in Miralago Hotel [1]. The food there was amazing and so were the trails around as well. Working as surveyor is a challenging job – you have to be on your feet all day long, and in some cases you have to walk around a lot as well. I particularly enjoy the long walks/expeditions. I felt like a child again, searching for ancient remains – just like we used to look for hidden treasure. And the joy of each finding was the same as it was back then. If you switch on this Columbus-mode once, I find it impossible to switch it off again. So, I have kept my eyes open on all runs and it made my adventures more exciting.

The Albano mountains are a vulcanic mountain range, composed out of four/five large craters of which two are filled with water – Albano Lake and Nemi Lake. This area has been very popular as a recreational spot for Romans since ancient times when the emperors and senators used to build here their villas (like the one we have been working on). There are several paths, see the plan attached below, to go for a run or ride but be prepare, the marking system is poor – especially comparing it to the one in central Europe.  I will attach to each route a GPX-file.

plan of paths

Plan of paths in the Albano Mountains – plan found on the information panel.

I will pick the most interesting runs for you and attach some pictures to them as a little motivation of what to expect on your way. However, I find it very limiting to try and squeeze two months of experience into one post, so I hope to do my best.


1st – ONCE AROUND ALBANO LAKE (10km)

I believe this is a must. It is the easiest one so even with people of lower fitness level will have no problem managing it. I have been running this one in several variations, you can simply go once around the lake or park your car on the edge of caldera, e.g. in Castel Gandolgo or at Trattoria Le Fratte Ignoranti [2]. However, the vertical connection between lake and caldera edge is due to steep hills very rare. You can chose from two roads with traffic and one trail. There should be a second trail as well, yet I have lost it in woods and had to find my own way. I would not recommend to do so in all parts! You can easily find yourself standing of high crag.

The trail around lake runs halfway in woods, yet you would find several spots where you can enjoy the view over lake and Castel Gandolfo. It is quite popular with bikers as well. What is more, this spring they have been secured the flying rocks from the steep hills around the whole crater, so it should be safe. Unfortunatelly, a part of the route follows the street and the promenade along the coastline, so you would find yourself running on hard surface.

GPX-file (link)


2nd – AQUADUCTS and water (5-10km)

If you are passioante about antique ruins, you should definitely check this one out. The best starting point is the Trattoria Le Fratte Ignoranti. I would highly recommend this place as a great starting point for several routes, there are some parking lots (free of charge) and you can get a nice lunch afterwards as well. The pizza is so delicious! 🙂

..to be continued.

GPX-file (link)

3rd – MONTE CAVO (5-20km)

If you like great view, make sure you do not miss this one. Monte Cavo is the second largest hill in Albano mountains. I have made it up there several times, mostly for the sunset. You can run up there along the Via Sacra or you can bike on them modern road (cars are also not banned but I will not support this option 🙂 ).

GPX-file (link)

4th – NEMI LAKE

After discovering pathes around Albano Lake in September 2014, I was very excited to get to Nemi lake in spring 2015. I have to say, I was fitter and more enthusiastic about exploring on foot then. Nevertheless, if you will be longing for a nice stroll or run around the lake, you will be disappointed. Unfortunatelly, there is no path along the coastline. You can take a path descending from Nemi – either the steep one or along the modern road. They both lead to the Museum (Museo navi romane – exhibiting an acient boat which was found in Nemi lake and some more) but thats it. There is no beach and I was having hard time getting to the water in general, so no swimming either. The northern part of crater is blocked by agricultural activity and the few settlements. To be honest, I only liked this lake from caldera edge.

no separate GPX-file

5th ALL IN ONE (30+ km)

….

GPX-file (link)

[1] Hotel Miralago, Albano Laziale, Rome: http://www.miralago-hotel.it/

[2] Trattoria Le Fratte Ignoranti: http://www.lefratteignoranti.it/info__contatti.html

41.734046 N, 12.666277 E

GALLERY

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