Monday, February 27, 2006

Houston, I have a problem

It's still carnival in Cologne; today is Rose Monday, the day of the parades. The office is closed. If you work today in Cologne, you are either employed in a pub or you are mad.

I spent this morning on the treadmill (the gym closed at lunch time, because of carnival); 84 minutes or 10.2 km. So far, so good. But I have a problem with my schedule for the rest of the week. I have registered for a race on Sunday,
Rund um das Bayerkreuz. I asked my trainer to incorporate this race into my training schedule. But this morning, when I checked the schedule for this week and cast my eyes on Sunday, it said "170 minutes at a heart rate of 146". Next to it he had noted, "I would advise you to go for the long run instead of the race". Aaahhh! I have registered and paid! And I am in a competitive mood. I really WANT to race.

But ... I have a cunning plan (call me

I have taken a quick look at my Blackberry and there is only one appointment on Thursday afternoon. I think, I can reschedule that to next week. Then I could take Thursday afternoon off and go for the long run that was scheduled for Sunday. Thursday's training unit would be moved to Wednesday; Saturday's to Friday and Wednesday's to Sunday (aka Racing Day; Wednesday was 60 minutes / 8.4 km; the race is 10 km). Are you still with me? Oh, never mind. As long as I know when to run, it's ok.

Fingers crossed, I can take Thursday afternoon off!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Birds, birds, birds

Another Sunday morning spent running round the forest. The weather was undecided: "To drizzle or to snow? To drizzle or to snow?" Most of the time it snowed, but since the last couple of days have been somewhat warmer, it melted on touchdown.

This weeks stats (Well done! Good girl!) ...

Total running time this week: 7 hours 40 minutes (scheduled: 7 hours 40 minutes)

Total distance run: approx. 56.9 km (scheduled 54.4 km)

I have run a longer distance than I should have, because I do my long runs based on the scheduled time and heart rate only. The trainings plan for today said: 170 minutes at a heart rate of 146. This should have been 19.5 km based on the last
performance test. But I finished the 10 k track twice (it used to be an official track, so the 10 km are exact) and ran an additional loop of approx. 2 km. I guess, this means I am getting faster...

I took my camera with me again. But I took so many pictures at the
carnival party on Thursday, that the battery was low. And I had completely forgotten to recharge it, so I only managed to make few pictures today. With few exceptions they are of birds.

I thought, this was just a big stone, but closer inspection revealed that it is a volvox made of stone...

Either this is proof to Karen, that people ARE polluters all over the world and not just in rural Alabama, or the forest wardens of Cologne have managed to grow a strange tree in the official colours of Cologne, red and white...

And now... the birds. Swan lake is no longer frozen...

This is an Ardea cinerea or Grey Heron or Graureiher. It didn't feel like posing for the camera and flew away at first.

But it didn't fly far and I managed to get a little closer. Alas, not close enough to make really good pictures.

At the little lake I came across this little guy.

I believe, he answers to the name of Phalacrocorax carbo or Cormorant or Kormoran.

I enlarged part of the last picture, so you can see him a little better:

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Kölle Alaaf!

It's carnival in Cologne, the fifth season of the year. It's one big fancy dress party that starts on November 11th (at 11:11 am) and ends on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Well, actually it ends Tuesday night by burning an effigy called "Nubbel". Street carnival starts the Thursday before Ash Wednesday.

Every year we take the day off work and celebrate. Some of us chose a fancy dress according to a common theme. This year we went as a
set of playing cards; I chose the seven of spades. In skat the seven of spades means loss, conflict, trouble...

"To protect the innocent" (as
Karen recently put it), I have put black bars over their eyes. If you are in it and still feel, I shouldn't have used your picture, sue me!

So, people dress up in fancy dress. This man, for example, was very cunningly dressed as my boss, without a tie. But he didn't fool us...

Very important in carnival are the traditional corps. There are several of them; you can tell them apart by their uniform. Every corps has a "Tanzmariechen":

and this is her "in action":

Say "cheese" (proof that I don't mind making an utter fool of myself)...

I hope, I don't have a huge lower jaw like that in real life. Please God, let me be just unphotogenic!

Yes, I look drunk in this picture. But I swear, the only thing I drank all day long was mineral water! I am training for a marathon, remember?

Trust me, carnival songs are unbearable when you aren't under the influence. You can only survive without permanent damage, if you sing along.

Another very aptly chosen costume!

And this is the fastest sailor I know. Recently ran 10.5km in 46:09 minutes!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Relay marathon results

The results of the relay marathon have been published and our total time was 3:59:59!

Individual times run were

Susanne 58:28
Anna 57:03
Ute 01:06:47
Sabine 57:41

One of us took a wrong turn and ran an extra 600 meters. If you look at the times, it is not too difficult to tell who that was. :-) In her defence I have to say that the track was not very clearly mark at that point and I am sure, she wasn't the only one who got confused.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Uli's London marathon training blogs...

...and other useful information can be found here:

Uli's London marathon 2006 diary - German version

Uli's London marathon 2006 diary - English version

Uli's main website

He has a fantastic free Excel runner's diary download to monitor training schedules and the actual training done. And there is much more useful information, training tips and links to be found! Check it out!

Stats of the week

Total running time this week: 5 hours (scheduled: 5 hours 45 minutes)

Total distance run: 32.4 km (scheduled 36.8 km)

I didn't do a 40 minutes run that was scheduled on Saturday, simply because I didn't have the time.

Today I should have run the 10.5485 km in about 60 minutes. I know I was faster. But just how much faster still remains to be seen.

Marathon relay

Today we ran a marathon relay in Zons. The teams consisted of four runners, who had to run 10.5485 km each. They could be all men, all women or mixed teams. Ours was all women.

The track was a bit disappointing, because I thought that we would run through the old part of the city, the Feste, which is very pretty. Instead each runner had to run around a field three times.

Before the race started, we met in here:

Along the track some spectators shouted encouragement:

See them run...

I was the last in our team...

...and I set off smiling, listening to Stephen Duffy's I love my friends,...

...and arrived 57 minutes and 41seconds later (at least according to my watch), still smiling (well, sort of) and still listening to I love my friends...

I think we did pretty well and managed to stay under four hours. But official results are not available yet.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

They hurry when the voice of football calls

That's a line from the best football song ever, Holte End Hotel, to be found on Stephen Duffy's album Music in Colors (yes, American spelling).

Well, the voice of football called and we hurried to see our team
1. FC Köln play away from home against VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach. I took my camera, figured out how the zoom works and made pictures until the battery went flat.

We arrived a couple of minutes too late, because the lady who lives in the navigation system and I didn't get on. My passenger was slightly more helpful, so we did finally make it to the stadium, which is in the middle of nowhere.

So, here they are: the teams (we are the ones in black, Borussia is wearing white, the referee is wearing a stylish yellow shirt) ...

... their fans ...

... the professional photographers ...

... and Jünter, the mascot of (use your imagination - it is meant to be a colt) ...

The game itself wasn't too exciting, until this happened:

Our man saw the red card and got sent off, he other one was back on his feet only seconds later...

The inevitable happened ...

Our manager wasn't a happy man ...

... and I wasn't a happy woman (no picture proof; you will have to take my word for it).

In the end we lost 2:0.

It was raining heavily when we left. I think the sky was crying. I fear we will be relegated yet again.

Monday, February 13, 2006

My new orchid

I got a new phalaenopsis for my birthday. It's beautiful. Orchids a perfect for me, because they don't mind if you neglect them for weeks.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Fungi quiz

Total running time this week: 7 hours, 34 minutes
Total distance run: approx. 54.6 km

Today I ran the 10km round in the forest twice and added another loop around the little lake. All of this took 160 minutes. I started early in the morning, because this afternoon the 1. FC Köln has a home game. The forest is just behind the stadium; normally parking is for free here, but not when there is a football match. So, I wanted to be gone before they start charging the parking fee and before the spectators' cars clog up the roads.

I liked the ivy ornament on this tree. I bet, in a short while it will cover the whole trunk.

Temperatures have increased a bit over the last couple of days (this morning it was +4°C) and it has rained a lot. So unsurprisingly there were a lot of fungi to be seen in the forest today. Unfortunately I am not very good at telling them appart. I found a couple of entries on Fungi images on the net, which look similar, but it is hard to tell if you just compare pictures.

So, here is a little fungi quiz for you: Are these all the same kind of fungus, only on different logs?

The first three pictures are of the same log, so presumably it is the same fungus:

This one I found somewhere else in the forest. It was big!

And this is yet another one:

If you have any idea, what it is I have photographed, please leave a comment!

The bark of this tree looks a bit like crocodile, don't you think?

OK, let's sneak a little closer. Can you see it now?

There was also a quite impressive storm last week, which is probably the reason for this road block:

It wasn't here last week!

Friday, February 10, 2006

I am glad, this day is almost over!

What a $*&# day!

At work nothing seems to be going right and on top of it one of my collegues thinks he can treat me like a child. The first time it happened I took note of it, but put it down to the stressful situation we were in. Today, there was no stress. Everybody else in the room looked uncomfortable, but I didn't feel like going into a confrontation with him then and there. I guess, I will have to talk to him about it next week. This is no basis for a working relationship like we are supposed to have it.

Monday is my birthday and I was hoping to be home early in the afternoon. Today a number of VERY important meetings were scheduled for Monday; so I won't be home until late in the afternoon. That sucks!

Running was difficult tonight; 100 minutes at changing speed; time just wouldn't go by. Maybe I shouldn't have listen to

The Devils - Dark Circles (Tape Modern TPCD001, 2002)

Not exactly chirpy, upbeat music, but I love it.

Please excuse me now. I will go and wallow in self-pity for the rest of the evening.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The loneliness of the long distance runner

Total running time this week: 6 hours, 55 minutes
Total distance run: 50 km

This morning, I ran around the forest for 2h 30min and circled the lakes twice. It was a grey and cloudy morning, not quite as cold as last weekend.

For a couple of minutes I traced the footballers of 1. FC Köln, but they were going too fast. I saw them again later at the clubhouse, where they were stretching. I am a fan and a member of the club; they haven't played very well lately. Yesterday was ok; at least the didn't lose.

Along the way I saw some beautiful trees:

What kind of fungus is this?

There are a number of large rocks throughout the forest and I wonder, where they have come from. Unfortunately there is a white spot at the bottom of this picture, but I post it nevertheless, because I like it.

After I had run for about an hour it started to snow again:

The ducks were back again, too. The one in the middle must be the black sheep of the family:

And this little fellow makes some interesting noises! I think it's a coot (fulica atra).