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Transylvanian Bear Race update – 2 weeks to go

2 weeks to go until race day, so I wan’t to post a little update on how my preparations are going.

The race has a strict set of items that all participants are required to carry at all times during the event. A compass, a waterproof map pocket, a waterproof jacket, a head torch, etc… The only thing missing from my arsenal up to now was the waterproof jacket. I have a bunch of jackets for running, but they are either too heavy to carry the whole way or not really waterproof. So I asked
around on Twitter and decided to go for a Salomon BONATTI jacket. Expansive yes, but I’ve been through a couple of rainy runs in it by now and it’s pretty great: breathable, really waterproof and fit for running. Waterproof jacket: check.

Apart from that, I’m expecting one more package with some last bits and bods (a cap to wear during the race, some extra nutrition stuff, some socks) from Bike24(I get most of my gear here, their prices are ok, they ship fast and are very responsive to questions).

That’s it gear-wise. But how am I doing?

Somewhere last week I caught a nasty stomach bug that has kept me in bed for the better part of Friday and this weekend. Not seeing up improvement so probably not going back to work tomorrow. But I should be able to sleep this off and hopefully my stomach will be back to normal when it’s time to run. (I got sick during my Amsterdam marathon, around the 30km mark. Not cool.)

Running-wise, it’s all systems go. My knee has been ok for the last couple of weeks so that should be ok. Running wise I’m feeling good as well, I’ve been doing lost of uphill work and repeats this last month and my conditioning feels good.

With my stomach acting up and the 2 days I’ll be away for a conference next week, taper time will start right now 🙂

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Closing out with this semi-running related tidbit: while strolling around the local bookshop last week I came across “The Way of the Runner: A Journey into the Fabled World of Japanese Running” by Adharanand Finn. Only 80 pages in so far, I’ll post about it again if I think it’s worth it :).

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Where to invade next – Michael Moore

Docville, the yearly documentary film festival in Leuven, is coming up next month and the film closing the festival will be “Where to invade next” by American filmmaker Michael Moore. While I was in Rotterdam for a couple of days of downtime last week, I saw they already had the film in the theater and decided to go to the late showing of it at Cinerama.

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The film starts out a bit too tacky for my taste, with Moore’s “official” mission to “invade” these other countries. But once that’s out of the way, what follows is are a bunch of sincere stories from Italy, France, Norway, etc. Each perfectly contrasted against their counterpart in the United States, eg: payed holidays, food in public schools, the prison system, free education, … the list goes on. Moore takes the ideas from these places back to America, ideas that we consider basic rights and welfare.

The premise of the movie is quiet predictable but that doesn’t take away from it. The best part of the movie for me was the focus on education, on kids and on humanity. The film closes by asking the question “Knowing all this, would you want to move, live and work in the United States” – And the answer spells out loud and clear: “No”.

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Back to Crossfit

I’m not sure how it happened but around May of 2014, I stopped doing Crossfit. Not that I had lost interest in training, the methodology or the people at the gym. I guess I just needed a break and try some new things, and new things that turned out to be old things, like starting badminton again.

Over the past couple of months I’ve been struggling with some minor injuries and aches here and there, and training hasn’t been going the way I’d like it to. So I decided to add Crossfit back in, to make sure I have some strength work on the schedule too.

The box I used to go to relocated further from the city and going there wasn’t very practical for me. Meanwhile, a box had opened up right around the corner from our office (which is a 5 minute bike ride from home, so still very close by). I emailed the owner, jumped in on a class and enrolled right away.

So far, I’m really happy to be back at it. And it’ cool to see that I’ve still got some of the movements (squats and deadlifts for days) while other movements seem to be lost forever (medicine ball to the face, 4 times in a workout :)). Good times.

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Knee update – Are we out of the woods yet?

So how is my knee doing?

After resting for 2 weeks, I had a badminton match in the upcoming weekend (on Sunday). On Saturday morning I strapped on my running shoes and headed out for a short test run. I took 2 laps around the block and things felt fine. I also added some interval sprints at the end, since that’s what sparked up the pain in the first place. Things felt ok but I was still a bit apprehensive about getting too excited and giving myself the all-clear.

We played our badminton match on Sunday evening and the plan going into was that I’d test my knee in the 2 doubles I was playing and see if I could do my single. 3 hours later, all was good but I still was not very convinced. The matched were not up to our usually level of play and intensity, so who knew what would really happen when push came to shove.

A week later, we faced a much stronger opponent and let’s just say they pushed and we shoved back. 3,5 hours later, absolutly gased from having played some amazing machtes: zero troubles with the knee. All clear.

So, time go get my game face on and kick training back into gear.

 

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Baker’s cyst

About 3 weeks ago during a competition match the our badminton team, I started feeling a light pain and discomfort at the back of my left knee. It hurt a bit but the pain didn’t get worse so I kept on playing. After the matches my teammates said they didn’t notice any difference in my movement or game (we won the match with 8-0 that day).

Unsure what to do, I took it easy for a week, until we had our next match, and see what my knee did then. That Sunday evening, during warm up I already felt that this was going to be more than just a little ache: after a couple of sprints across the court, I immediately felt that same discomfort again. I finished the match, again without the pain affecting my gameplay, but I knew something was up.

There’s a difference between pain and injury and this sure looked to be the latter.

Last week I went to see my sports doctor about it and the cause of the pain is most likely a Baker’s cyst:

popliteal cyst, also called a Baker’s cyst, is a soft, often painless bump that develops on the back of the knee. A cyst is usually nothing more than a bag of fluid. These cysts occur most often when the knee is damaged due to arthritis, gout, injury, or inflammation in the lining of the knee joint. Surgical treatment may be successful when the actual cause of the cyst is addressed. Otherwise, the cyst can come back again.

So 2 things:

  • Given some rest, elevation and anti inflammatories, the pain should subside
  • We don’t know what’s causing the cyste to form.

So I have another full week of rest in front of me and then I’ll try a little run again to see how it feels. I’ll keep you posted!

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Programming sucks.

Remember that stuff about crazy people and bad code? The internet is that except it’s literally a billion times worse. Websites that are glorified shopping carts with maybe three dynamic pages are maintained by teams of people around the clock, because the truth is everything is breaking all the time, everywhere, for everyone. Right now someone who works for Facebook is getting tens of thousands of error messages and frantically trying to find the problem before the whole charade collapses. There’s a team at a Google office that hasn’t slept in three days. Somewhere there’s a database programmer surrounded by empty Mountain Dew bottles whose husband thinks she’s dead. And if these people stop, the world burns. 

From http://www.stilldrinking.org/programming-sucks

More than a bit dramatic, totally over the top but a fun read none the less. And quiet on the mark in some places too.

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Bertem Bos

Since I plan to run a few trail races in 2016, I started the year off with a training run in a forest nearby. It was a very foggy morning and it was much colder than the days and weeks before. Once I made it into the forest I followed the walking route and winged it from there. 90 minutes and about 15km later, my legs were shot, my head cleared and my heart happy. To more running and more trails this year 😊

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Trail training in Viscri

I spent last week in Viscri for a project we’re doing with SPC Leuven. The main group was driving up and would arrive on Sunday evening but since there wasn’t enough space on the bus, my sister and me flew in to Bucharest on Saturday and toke the train to Rupea/Viscri.  

With a spare day before the rest of the group arrived, I strapped on my running shoes (first test for my new Ascics trail shoes) and headed out of a run. Weather-wise we had -5 degrees C in the morning and at night, but in the afternoon the sun was out in full force and it felt quiet warm.

I started off on the mountain-bike single track from Viscri to Meșendorf, which is about 16km one way. Since I only had a limited amount of water with me and I had to be back in time for dinner, the plan was to run for about 90 minutes and then turn back on myself and run the same route back.

Once I found the start of the trail, I was on my way. The first part of the run went quiet smooth, transitioning between forests, fields and meadows, up & down. I quickly put on the extra  jacket I had with me because in the shade on the forest and sweating, it got quiet chilly fast.  The combination of running and navigating the trail was a bit harder than I had expected and I did my fair share of walking, both on the climbs and on the flats.

After about 12km, I felt tired and really cold all of a sudden so that seemed like a good point to turn back and run head home. Turning back and knowing how long I had to go before I got home gave me a big mental boost and the rest of the run went great. On the way back I also passed 2 mountain-bike riders, the only 2 other people I saw on the trail the entire afternoon.

I reached ‘home‘ with 24km in the books, in 2:45:41. That’s 6:54/km, which is much slower than my road pace, but all in all, I’m quiet happy with it. This puts me on track for a sub 6-hour trail marathon and that’s what I had in mind beforehand.

Back in Belgium now, planning my training for the coming weeks and looking around for a trail half-marathon somewhere in early 2016.

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Transylvanian Bear Race

From Viscri to Sighisoara, 950m of elevation over a 42km course, through forests and fields. That’s the Transylvanian Bear Race.

The courses will take you through Europe’s last unspoiled wilderness, combining the unique cultural heritage and landscape of Transylvania. Runners follow a pre-marked course through ancient Saxon villages, virgin forest, a ruined castle, open pasture land, meadows and rural village pathways. This culminates in the infamous ascent of the Sighisoara citadel, a UNESCO world heritage site and the birth place of Vlad Dracul.

I was a little tempted to enter in the ultra marathon (which is 80km here), but something tells me that for my first trail race, a regular marathon is going to be tough enough.

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For now my training I will be running 2/3 times every week, 10 to 15km each for now. Building up the distance in the new year, I hope get a ‘practice’ marathon (yes, that sounds kinda weird) on the books somewhere in march/early april of 2016. Trail-wise I plan on going off-road at least once every 2 weeks right away and  also a couple of races in early 2016. I’m also going try and write more about my training, the scheduling, the gear, the ups & downs, etc… Stay tuned!

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The node pole: inside Facebook’s Swedish hub near the Arctic Circle

From the outside, it looks like an enormous grey warehouse. Inside, there is a hint of the movie Bladerunner: long cavernous corridors, spinning computer servers with flashing blue lights and the hum of giant fans. There is also a long perimeter fence. Is its job to thwart corporate spies? No – it keeps out the moose.

Welcome to the Node Pole, a hi-tech hub in Luleå, northern Sweden, and the site of Facebook’s first datacentre outside the US. The warehouse opened in 2013 and is set amid a green pine forest, lakes and an archipelago. The Arctic Circle is just down the road. A second centre next door is due to be completed later this year.

Source: The node pole: inside Facebook’s Swedish hub near the Arctic Circle | Technology | The Guardian