2016 – My Athletic Review
What did I do and how did it go?
2016 has been quite a year. It will be memorable to many of us for a variety of reasons, which are, I fear, mostly not positive. The deaths of so many great people – Bowie, Prince, Lemmy, Cohen –, some alarming political turns – Putin, Erdogan, Brexit, Trump –, but in the end it’s all about what each individual has made of it.
Fortunately, I’ve had the chance to live out a very full 2016. A lot has happened, and almost all of it positive. My family and I are all healthy and were even lucky enough to welcome another daughter into our world in April. Emma is growing up quite fast and is loved a lot by her 2 big sisters and almost everyone whom she meets.
Also, it’s been a year of changes and experiments for me. In November of 2015 I’ve finally stopped being a smoker. After many years of on-again, off-again idiocy, I’ve come to my senses and got rid of this nuisance. I feel great about it and I’m as convinced as ever I’ll never go back.
I’ve adopted a healthier lifestyle too, by going vegetarian. I set the goal to not eat dead animal pieces for the whole of 2016, starting from January 1st and ending on December 31st. I’m going to write a separate blog post about this, because the experience was very interesting to me.
The combination of both, in addition to slightly more training than in previous years led to something remarkable:
I’ve Beat My Personal Bests on Every Single Distance Race I’ve Done in 2016
Those are as follows:
- 7.5k run
- 10k run
- 21.1k half marathon
- 42.2k full marathon
- Sprint Distance Triathlon
- Olympic Distance Triathlon
- Half Distance Triathlon
The other distances I just didn’t try this year. No full Ironman, and nothing shorter than a 7.5k run.
Because this has been a very good turn-out, for which I fully make responsible the vegetarian diet, by the way, I’ve decided to list all the races I’ve done in 2016 and comment a little bit on the what and how of those.
It all began with an ambitious 21.1k training run on the morning of January 1st, while I was bit out of shape.
So this is a testimony to those rare times when a new year’s resolution actually works out!
A few days later we went on holiday to ice-cold Oslo, Norway, then New York City, and finally Chicago. Everything within about 14 days. I ran on every other day and put in lots of long runs. Thus, I quickly built a strong foundation for the year in January already. When you have this river just 1k away from you, it’s hard not to run.
Finally, at the beginning of March, the races began.
March 6: Cyprus Marathon in Paphos
A great start into the year after lots of kilometers in January (225k) and February (265k). 3:47:08, not a best time, but a good start for me. Especially great: catching some much-needed Cyprus sun during the depressing European winter!
April 3: Paris Marathon
A huge race in a wonderful city – I met my friend Sidy and imitated him by running barefoot. Only for the last 2 kilometers, though. Turns out it’s not the best idea without any practice! Still, 3:51:57 on a great day.
April 17: Hamburg Marathon
Start of the Hamburg Triple, just a few days before the birth of our 3rd daughter, Emma. Despite the large belly, my dear Sophie came to cheer. 3:42:59, just a couple hours less than Emma’s birth took.
May 8: Prague Marathon
Emma’s first marathon trip ever, at just 3 weeks of age! My lovely in-laws came with us to help, and we had a nice weekend getaway. I was quite sick before and during the race and had to fight really hard to finish here. Still worth it. 3:55:33 in the end. Prague is beautiful.
May 29: St. Pauli Lauf gegen Rechts
A charity run by Hamburg’s arguably coolest football club. Run against right-wing extremism, counter-clockwise (left) around the Alster. 7.5k with a bunch of friends. Managed to put in a solid 33:23, finishing in the top 10 percent. By far my best time for the Alster lap thus far.
June 5: Cologne12
The only disappointment this year: It was supposed to be 12 kilometers of swimming, but after I had done 10k in roughly 4 hours, the race was called off due to an upcoming thunderstorm and I had to leave the water, as well as everybody else still in the race. Man, was I sad that day! I’m coming back some day and finish this race.
June 26: Hamburg Halfmarathon
My one and only goal: beating the personal bests of my 2 co-founders. And I did it! Finally, after 6 years of getting closer and closer. Very triumphant moment for me. 1:40:38 for the half marathon.
July 16: Hamburg Triathlon Sprint Distance
As Part 2 of Hamburg Triple, I did both Hamburg Triathlons. On Saturday the short distance took place. 1:22:12 for 500m swimming, 22k biking and 5k running. It was a blast.
July 17: Hamburg Triathlon Olympic Distance
A day later, the Olympic distance was on. 1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run. I also wanted to beat my best, as well as my co-founders’ bests. And it worked as well: 2:38:37 on a day that started really weak – flat tire and glass splinter in my foot – but turned out to be one to remember.
August 6: Challenge Fredericia, Half Distance Triathlon
Finally a long race! 5:27:18 hours for 1.9k swim, 90k bike, 21.1k run, in beautiful Denmark. We always love going to this country. The town is small and cozy, the people warm and welcoming. I struggled with headwinds on the bike, but crushed the run (1:40:57), even though it had some surprisingly hilly parts. Successful mini-vacation with the kids.
August 17: Hella Inselparklauf Hamburg-Wilhelmburg
Couldn’t get enough of running, so I spontaneously found this race in the vicinity. 4 laps of 3k each, around a newly built park/garden type of area at an average speed of 4:22 min/km. Biking 10k there and 10k back again rounded off that day’s impromptu duathlon.
August 21: Cyclassics Hamburg 100k
First time try at a bike-only race – no swimming or running. The crowd was definitely different (older), but the style of riding in a pack was appealing, because it made huge sustained speeds possible. Interesting experience! 2:49:25 hours, or an average of 35.59 km/h. Part 3, and therefore the whole of the Hamburg Triple completed!
August 28: Otterndorf Triathlon Sprint Distance
Family and in-laws came with me and we had another weekend break together. Otterndorf is a lovely small village, located where Elbe river meets North Sea. Nature. I placed 27th out of 189, or top 15 percent – not too shabby. 1:10:44 hours for a 300m swim, 20k bike, 5.5k run. That’s a minute more than my friend Krischi did some years ago – goal for 2017!
September 2: Mottenburger Meile
I found out about this race on that same day, on Instagram. Weird! That same morning, I had done a 27k long run, but when the start of a nice race is just 1k from your house, you have to participate. I had a good day and finished 11th out of 121, running at 14 km/h straight for 7.5 kilometers along the Elbe river. After 32:09 I reached the finish to meet just 10 other runners, which was very new to me. One of them, Rasmus, I met right there and now we meet up to run from time to time. He got in at 5th place.
September 3: Hannover Maschsee Triathlon Olympic Distance
Again, just one day later I opted for another triathlon, because I really like those. Hannover is not too far away, and it wasn’t sold out, so I went. Weather was perfect, too: 27 degrees, blue sky, no wind. After yesterday’s 27k long run and 7.5k evening race, the legs were a bit tired. But still, I put on a good fight and did the 1.5k swim in 32:33, biked for 41.4k in 1:14:35, and ran 10k in 47:19, finishing after 2:38:57. Shape of my life!
September 11: Vilnius Marathon
Finally, marathons again. I missed those. I went with wife and kids and we had a nice time in a surprisingly amazing city. I recommend visiting Vilnius. The race went alright, although I suddenly had to walk for a bit during the last 5 kilometers, which was strange. 3:43:46 in the end were still a result I’m very satisfied with.
September 18: PSD Hamburg Halbmarathon
After about 5k, a dude next to me and I realized we had the same exact pace. So Resa and I kept staying together and talked for the whole race. He was a bit faster than me and pulled me with him like that. After 18, I told him he should use up his remaining energy and see how far he can get now. He got below 1:35, whereas I finished in a new shattering personal best of 1:36:08 (99th out of 641) and was surprised to find a nearly empty finishers’ area. I’ve come a long way this year.
October 3: Köhlbrandbrückenlauf
On the national holiday of German Unity, we Hamburgers usually run across the Köhlbrand bridge, an iconic huge building shaping our skyline. Turning around afterwards and then crossing it again. 12 kilometers in total, with a bunch of meters to climb, of course. 57:21 was okay. The start is just 10 kilometers from my home, so I just ran there and back again after the race, totaling 32 kilometers that day. Eating kilometers!
October 9: Sofia Marathon
This short trip to Bulgaria I took alone. Turned out that this really improves my running, although it can be lonely at times. Without really planning to, I again improved another personal best. The marathon one. Roughly 10 minutes faster than ever before, finishing after 3:31:58 – that was amazing to me! I’d never have thought I could do that with my poor running physique. This really proves what the superior plant-based nutrition and a determined will can do.
October 30: Dublin Marathon
Dublin – what a city. Family trip again, extended family even: my sister and brother-in-law came with us. The race itself was wonderful, the crowds as noisy as jet-engines, the spirits high. I myself miscalculated a bit, though, and really had to fight in the end. So much so, that there even were some tears of relief involved. 3:37:20 – very happy about that.
November 5: Rauchwart Marathon
Just 6 days later, I did another marathon. My friend Jürgen organizes it, right in his little town of Rauchwart, located in south-eastern Austria. There is not much to see, but friendly running folks around. His daughters and our daughters know and like each other, which is another plus. 8 laps of 5.275 kilometers each were a bit repetitive, but it still has been fun down there. 3:54:17 hours in the end.
November 20: Bramfelder Winterlaufserie Part 1, 20k
Keeping fit during the cold months isn’t easy, which is why this running series exists. Motivation comes easy if you’re signed up with some friends! Every month, there is one event at which you can choose how many 5k laps to do. 4 is the top limit, which of course I’m aiming for. 1:36:43 was also about the time I was aiming for, so winter can come!
December 18: Bramfelder Winterlaufserie Part 2, 21,076k
Even though the days are short now here in the northern hemisphere and few people are running outside, this 2nd event still drew a crowd. I ran the first 2 laps with my friend Krischi, and finished up the last 2 laps alone after 1:49:01. It’s been a relaxed training run to finish off the year 2016.
Do you have any suggestions on where to run next? I’m always happy to get some tips.
It’s been a good year, fitness-wise, and it was interesting looking back on the improvements I’ve made over the course of the 12 months. I hope I can keep up the pace and become faster in 2017. All the cool events I have coming up require that.
The masterplan will be revealed soon, stay tuned!