Sunday, August 30, 2009

Jornet runs fastest around Mont Blanc again

American Kristin Moehl (11th overall in 24:56) beat British Lizzy Hawker in womens race category.

The most famous participant Scott Jurek was finally able to finish this gruelling course in 26:07 (19th place overall).

The 165.8 km (102.5 miles) trail goes around Mont Blanc visiting France, Italy and Switzerland with 9,404 meters (30,853 ft) of climbing/descending. The start/finish is in Chamonix.

There are videos of the race at

Friday, August 28, 2009

Refine your running with Snow Leopard

Now that we Mac addicts have Snow Leopard, a leaner and faster version of the OS X, it could be used as an excuse to refine our running as well.

To achieve a new PR it may not be necessary to reinvent anything, if we make a few key refinements:
  • get a bit leaner by losing fat - aim for a BMI around 21 (done!)
  • get a bit faster by improving leg turnover - aim for about 95 steps/min/leg (almost there, but it's not yet happening when I'm tired...)
  • get a bit stronger by using your core muscles more efficiently - aim for daily strength workouts (no time to visit a gym every day, but situps/pushups etc at home will do)
  • make it a bit easier by getting racing flats (just got the new black Adidas Adizero Adios, they are light and make me run faster)
  • improve parallel processing - for example think about your running technique and leg turnover while doing track or hill repeats, and so on to get more results in less time
  • streamline your training efforts - focus on results and stop wasting your time.
Restarting in 10 seconds!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Finland's passion for crazy contests

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lance wins Leadville 100

Lance Armstrong crushed Leadville 100 mile mountain bike race course record. The record was 6:45:45. The new record stands at 6:28:50.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Helsinki City Marathon

Today I had scheduled my 10th Helsinki City Marathon. I thought it would be fantastic if I could improve my course record here.

I've run this race more often than any other, because it
  • is my home town marathon,
  • is the second largest marathon (6 thousand runners) in Scandinavia after Stockholm (18 thousand runners),
  • has enough aid stations with water and Gatorade every 2-3 km
  • great audience support most of the way (considering we are in Finland)

Still, it isn't my favourite marathon (I'm not sure what is, but it ain't this one) for the following reasons:
  • late (3PM) start time - I'd rather run in the morning than wait all day just to run in the afternoon,
  • part of the course runs beside traffic and crosse - this is not called a city marathon for nothing,
  • cobblestone streets around 25K,
  • lots of little hills.
The weather forecast for the afternoon looked pretty good. I welcomed the chance of rain showers, as those would serve to cool me down. The august heat and humidity has almost always been a problem for me.

It never rained, although we saw big clouds. Mostly it was sunny and warm though.

The out and back seaside course with many nice park-like views is not particularly fast. It's a combination of many little things that tend to slow the runners down. Like sea breeze and twists and turns that break the rhythm. It's easy to find yourself slowing down in Helsinki.

Only three weeks after the Swiss Alpine K78, my goal today was simply to break my HCM PR time of 3 hours and 17 minutes. My nine previous Helsinki City Marathon finishes sorted by finish time are as follows:
  • 3:17:06 (1994)
  • 3:19:58 (2006)
  • 3:23:11 (2001)
  • 3:23:24 (2002)
  • 3:24:01 (1985 - my first marathon)
  • 3:26:58 (2000)
  • 3:28:48 (2003)
  • 3:47:31 (2007 - failed to fully recover from Swiss Alpine K78)
  • 3:52:56 (2005 - running with Nike Free shoes)
I started a bit fast to make sure I'd make it. My 10K split was 43:21, which erred a bit on the slow side.

The half marathon split was 1:33:35 - not great, but still on schedule and feeling ok.

A buddy who was aiming for a similar finish time as me catched me right after 25K. We talked for a while and I tried my best to stay with him but he dropped me (see photo below). Then I knew I was in big trouble. Apparently my legs had not recovered well enough from the Alps, and I hit the infamous wall.

My 30K time sucked big time already, 2:17:14, and I knew a new personal course record was not on the cards today. My pace felt ridiculously slow, but there was nothing I could do except keep shuffling forward. My legs were dead.

The last 12K was tough and painful. It always is of course, but not like this. I have never been so tired and felt so bad during any normal marathon. 5K before the finish someone shouted that I'm about 300th runner at that point, but I just didn't care anymore because there was no chance to reach my goal anymore. Runners were passing me left and right all the time.

I even failed to sprint at the very end - something that I've always been able to perform, every time. My final time was 3:26:11. I lost over 10 minutes to my buddy, who ran his marathon PR 3:15:17. With only a ten minutes faster time I would have reached my goal and probably been very happy too.

To end on a positive note, this was my sixth fastest time in Helsinki out of ten finishes. So it could have been worse, I guess. I placed 41st in M45 (446 finishers), and 360. overall (over 6,000 starters).

Friday, August 14, 2009

Lifesaver ultra filtration water bottle

An interesting idea, although the 635-gram 750 ml bottle might be a bit too heavy and big for runners. Perhaps the innovative technology could be applied to lighter and smaller versions in the future.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

City2Surf - world's biggest running event

This year a record 76,254 runners entered City2Surf, a 14 km race from Sydney city to Bondi beach.

Michael Shelley crossed the finish line first in 41:02, followed by 62,643 competitors with an average time of 2:19:15.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Boost your aerobic fitness with vegetarian nitrate

Everyone knows vegetables are good for us in many ways: health, looks, weight-control, even strength. But wait, there's more: latest scientific studies show vegetarian nitrate can boost our aerobic fitness too.

According to a new study, dietary nitrate reduces oxygen cost of sub-maximal exercise and enhances the tolerance for high-intensity exercise. In this case, half a liter of beetroot juice was taken daily.

There is another study published in 2007 that concludes: "Dietary nitrate supplementation, in an amount achievable through a diet rich in vegetables, results in a lower oxygen demand during submaximal work. This highly surprising effect occurred without an accompanying increase in lactate concentration, indicating that the energy production had become more efficient."

Previously nitrate was usually regarded as an inevitable price for all the good stuff. This new surprising information certainly encourages fitness enthusiasts to eat their vegetables - and nitrates too!

Finally, I'd like to add a few points:
  • Best natural nitrate sources include lettuce, celery, fennel, spinach, radish, chinese cabbage, kohlrabi, pumpkin, rucola, basil, parsley and beetroot.
  • Also courgette, celeriac, carrot, leek, broccoli and other cabbages may contain a high amount of nitrate.
  • Cooking vegetables will reduce their nitrate levels, so it would be more effective to eat them raw.
  • The toxicity of nitrate is low. Nitrites are much more toxic and may cause various adverse effects. Some of the dietary nitrate will be reduced to nitrite. However normal intake of nitrate from vegetables is unlikely to cause health problems (except for infants possibly).
  • Meat products account for most of the nitrite consumed.
  • Fruit, grains and dairy products don't contribute to dietary nitrate (or nitrite).

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Clas Björling wins Kalmar Triathlon 2009

Great to see Clas Björling win Kalmar Triathlon 2009. Now he is running strong again - a 2:47:40 marathon (his PR is 2:42 within ironman, and 2:29 without) after swimming 4K in 1:01:13 and biking 180 km 4:34:02. The total result is a new Kalmar course record 8:26:24.

Let's keep in mind that Clas set 8:15:59 as the Swedish record for ironman-distance in Roth in 2006.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


If running 818 km across the Alps from Salzburg to Monaco seems impossible, you can always take the easy way out and paraglide: Red Bull X-Alps.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Lance the sprint triathlete 1989

20 years ago, before Lance Armstrong decided to become the next Greg LeMond of cycling, he was a serious short-distance triathlete, winning the Family Fitness Weekend sprint triathlon in 1989.

Friday, August 7, 2009


During the second week of August 26 years ago I happened to see a dude coming out from a hotel in Helsinki, crossing the busy main road with a few kangaroo-like leaps and vanishing into the park by the sea.

I remember clearly how relaxed he was, but strangely his pace seemed extremely fast compared to joggers like me. I didn't know who he was, but I knew he had to be a top athlete.

Then on next Sunday I saw this guy winning the marathon of the World Championships on TV. They called him Deek. I said hey I've seen this champ on a recent training run.

The following video compilation of great marathon finishes by Robert de Castella includes Helsinki World Championships 1983 marathon (1:12-1:52).

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Jenson's wishes come true in London Triathlon

F1 driver Jenson Button set his PR 2:07:02 in the London Triathlon 2009, the biggest triathlon in the world. "It's been my best ever Sunday morning", he commented.

Jenson's splits were:
  • swim 1.5 km - 24:01
  • T1 - 2:49
  • bike 40 km - 1:02:55
  • T2 - 1:37
  • run 10 km - 35:42
"F1 drivers are pretty fit anyway but triathlon requires a lot of specialist training. I pushed myself to the limit and it's so different to driving a car because my heart beat is a lot higher."

The current Formula One Championship leader competed during his summer break to raise money for Make-A-Wish Foundation. "Raising so much money for the charity which I am a Patron of, makes me incredibly proud and I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who sponsored me. Your money really will make a difference to so many children."

Well done Jenson! You can still sponsor him at

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Swiss Alpine K78 video awards 2009

Reiner has produced the winner here while finishing the race succesfully. A high quality video from the heights of Swiss Alpine K78 in Davos 2009.

By the way, check out the dude with big cow bell in Spina (1:49) - he's there every year, and cracks me up every time!

The following video by Artur has captured my wunderschön climbing speed (6:51). It's real TV - no slow motion effects used while filming.

What I don't get is how he managed to shoot all this, running up and down the Alps while laughing like it's no big deal, and still beat me to the finish line by over four minutes.

Technical quality sucks a bit, but thanks for an interesting 2nd best video.

Our third place video lacks visual for the first 90 seconds, but the constant German narration is there.