100m race at Nocturne N°2 (Saint-Mard, Belgium)

Running, Track

In perfect sunshine and temperatures of around 24°C, I drove 50km to Belgium to compete at a 100m in Saint-Mard (near Virton).

I arrived with a bit of time to spare and filled out one of those small cards to sign up that they probably already had in 1999 when I last ran there.  The cost was hard to beat: zero.

I did the same warmup distance than for my normal trainings, around 2km. This was easy since there was a 1km lap that snakes around the track and a few other buildings, composed of fairly soft surface (a mixture of wood chips and gravel). I wish more tracks had this.

I felt quite warm, and there was only a bit of wind. After the 2km jogging I did about 15 minutes of the usual stretching and then various skips and strides. My left achilles tendon made it quite clear that it didn’t quite appreciate being asked to perform, but the pain was still quite low (maybe 3-4 on a scale of 10).

Already when I arrived, it was clear that there would be quite a few people in attendance, but I was still able to do three starts out of the starting block before the first heat was called out.

I ended up in lane 6 on the third heat (out of 5). It seems like I was mostly competing with much younger athletes, although other heats had a higher age average.

The starter was doing a good job (I don’t have anything negative to say about the start) and even though I wasn’t the quickest out of the blocks I didn’t lose that much ground. There’s still room for some improvement, though – I still think that the majority of my training starts are better than my race starts.

It took me around 60 meters to catch up and pass my main competitor, who was running in lane 5. By that time I was fighting against myself and my ongoing inability to sprint full out for the entire 100m. I still managed to cross the finish line in first place (in my heat – there were faster runners in some other heats).

The official time  was 11″65, with a very negligible wind of +0.1m/s. This translates into a new personal best for the 2014 season, but it’s also a whopping 80 hundreds of a second slower than my 10″85 1998 all-time personal best. But I’m not complaining – I’m glad to still be able to compete at this level at this point in my life.


National Relay Championships


Yesterday evening, I was part of a 4x100m relay with my club (CSL) at the National Relay Championships. With a team that was slightly slower on paper than two weeks ago we nevertheless managed to run almost the same time, 44″75. While that is much slower than some relays I’ve run 10 or 20 years ago, it is what it is. I’m happy to still be able to compete as a sprinter at 36 years of age. Also, last year my club didn’t even have a senior 4x100m team at the starting line, so third place this year is OK I guess.

As for my part of the race, I was running in 4th position; with Claude Godart as experienced runner on the third leg. Consequently, our relay change was solid. We were at third place at that moment, and I managed to hold on to that spot until after the finish line. It seemed like I didn’t lose much to Pol Bidaine (CAB) at #2 who was half a second faster than me on the 100m two weeks ago. Festus Geraldo (CELTIC), who has a season best that’s 8/10 of a second faster than me, came in fourth. I was joking later on that this was probably the only time this year that he saw the finish line behind me.


Month in review: May 2014

Month in review

After a lackluster spring as far as training was concerned, I finally got back into the groove in May.

Walking: 87.6km (1140m vert.) – not entirely accurate, since I don’t record every single quick walk with a GPS watch

Road&Trail Running: 10 runs, 82.2km total (1475 vert.)

Track Trainings: 6 track trainings, 1 competition

Indoor cycling: 1 session of 30min (19.16km)

Average body weight: 82.6kg (15% body fat)

There’s a lot of potential for improvement, of course; but at least I stopped the downward spiral.

Championnats Interclub, Day 2

Running, Track

With March and April being less than optimal as far as training and just my health in general were concerned, I wasn’t too keen on competing this spring because I felt like I was pretty far away from what I’d consider prime shape.

In early May however, my club asked me if I could compete at the first day of the Interclub championships on May 11th. I couldn’t due to photo assignments, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise because the weather that day was particularly bad and I certainly wasn’t in any shape for a 200m sprint. For the second day on May 17th, I had no photo shoots scheduled in advance, so after looking at who else would be competing from my club (I felt that I had a shot at doing just as well, if not better) and taking time off from the newspaper, I was subsequently signed up for the 100m and 4x100m relay.

I arrived at the track in Schifflange to sunshine and temperatures that were pretty much optimal, hovering just above 20°C. I warmed up for the 100m, and was a bit surprised that I ended up being in the first heat. Our club’s number #1 seed had to stay at home ill, so I suddenly found myself in his position.

“Don’t do a false start” was the motto, and memories from my last indoor 60m where I ended up DSQ were still fresh, so when the shot was fired I did… nothing. After a leisurely moment of still doing nothing, I finally got out of the block, trailing the lead pack (Olivier Boussong, 11″08, Lionel Evora Delgado 11″09 and Pol Bidaine 11″22) by a few meters right from the start. By the time 60m came around I had expended my energy and had to force myself over the remaining distance to the finish line… not a pretty sight, I’m sure. I crossed it in 11″72, 4th place out of 8 in heat 1.


On the final tally, the three above-mentioned athletes beat me quite easily, and were joined by Yoann Bebon (10″86) and Tom Hutmacher (11″09) who won their respective series. In total, I was thus the 5th-fastest runner out of 22; although considering that I trailed Pol by half a second that’s not something for the record books. We had a 2.8m/s tailwind, too. But still, I confirmed my club’s #1 position, even if only by 3 hundreds of a second; and I didn’t injure myself, which is always a top priority these days.

I could have rested for an hour and then warmed up for the relay, but since there was an open spot on the shot put I thought “why not”. Last time I tried that was possibly fifteen years ago, and the results weren’t impressive back then.

Turns out results in 2014 are still not impressive. My first attempt was on the line to the left – unlike in other sports that means you’re “out”. The second attempt was 7.20m, I think. Third attempt I touched the wooden board up front according to the judges, so that didn’t count even though I think it would have been my best performance. Attempt 4 was my best for the day, 7.66m. Attempt 5, I had to skip because of the relay, and attempt 6 just after the relay was just a bit over 7m again. So 7.66m, and a disappointing 16th position out of 18. At least I left someone behind me. 10m is still something I think I could do at some point with a little training (or maybe a lot).


Inbetween the shot put attempts I continued warming up for the 4x100m relay. Due to the way lanes are shuffled around between clubs on the various distances, we ended up in heat #2, lane 4.

The first series was run, and I was a bit annoyed because for a while it looked like our second team was not going to run in heat #3 because they were not on the starting list. This would have been less than optimal, because it would have meant that we had to make rock-solid relay changes with no backup team. In the end, the administrative issues were resolved just in time for our heat.

I watched the first two runners (Stefano Giudice and Gavin Dune) do their thing (and they did quite well), and then Claude Godart already approached for the final relay change. We had agreed to slightly reduce our reaction zone (to a distance of 23 feet) but I think I ended up starting just a bit to early. Claude hesitated a bit with the handover and I lowered my speed a little. Finally, I received the relay with a good safe margin still, and was off. In the background, I could hear swearing because apparently the guys from CAD hadn’t been so lucky and had messed up their change. I was in first position at the beginning, but didn’t have it in me to resist against Lionel Evora Delgado (who had beaten me on the 100m by over 6/10 of a second). We therefore ended up second in our heat, and third position overall. FOLA1 won in 44″47, followed by CAS1 in 44″63 and then CSL in 44″79. Not a large margin to #2, or the winning team for that matter.

In the end, my club won the Interclub Championships, and I guess while I did my part there were other athletes who contributed more decisively and scored higher points. Still, it was nice to be back and to be a member of the club’s #1 relay team.

Combining a photo assignment with a walk (1/May/2014)

Hiking, Photography

The newspaper had assigned me to cover a cycle race on May 1st, which is a legal holiday in Luxembourg. The 27e Grand Prix OST Manufaktur was scheduled to start at 14:30 and the first riders were supposed to cross the finish line around 17:40. In between, they were to cover 13 laps of 9.3km each. Over three hours  from start to finish is quite a long time from a photography perspective, knowing that these races tend to be quite unspectacular when only viewed from the finish line where there’s only a brief moment of action and then fifteen minutes of waiting for the next loop to be completed.

But 9.3km is quite doable on foot in three hours, even when taking into account some photography; so instead of hanging around the finish line or driving out to a few interesting spots I decided to hike one loop and hit all of the interesting spots along the way.

Month in review: April 2014

Month in review

April was marked by lingering illness in the first half, and back pain in the second. Consequently, I did not manage to find the motivation to go running or head to the track with any kind of regularity. About the only area where I did comparatively well in April was hiking (which I suppose is less demanding).

Walking: 98.4km (1662m vert.)

Road&Trail Running: 3 runs, 25.6km total (524m vert.)

Track Trainings: 2 track trainings

Average weight: 82.5kg (body fat: 15%)


Today’s run (28/Apr/2014)

Running, Trail

I went for an 1-hour run during my lunch break today. I only managed to cover 8.73km in 1:01:38 (7:04 min/km). I’d like to think it’s because the trail that I followed is twisting and turning and going up and down quite a bit (182 m elevation gain); but in reality it’s far more likely that I’m just slow and whatever base that I built in February is long gone again. It’s no fun being ill and burned out, especially not if it’s going on for almost six weeks (starting in mid-March and going on for most of April).

So here I am again, starting to build a base again. Again. Again. I still have lessons to learn about habit-building and exponential growth (hint: six weeks “on” followed by six weeks “off” doesn’t work).

200m & 4x200m races, Meeting Régional 2, Coque

Running, Track

On Saturday, I ran a 200m and then later on participated in a 4x200m relay.


Unlike the week before, I had signed up for the competition in advance; which was a good thing since they were not accepting any late signups this time around. Even then, there were 47 competitors in 9 heats; which took a considerable time and probably contributed to the 4x200m being later than scheduled.

As soon as I started warming up, I was already feeling dehydrated. Funny how no other indoor track I ever competed in had this problem. I did about 10 to 11 minutes of slow jogging upstairs, and then retreated to the lower entrance area for stretching and running drills.

I was in heat #4, so unlike last week I felt that my warm-up was pretty much spot-on timing-wise. The only thing that was lacking was my motivation – I just couldn’t get in the right mindset of competing or building up aggressiveness for an explosive start and a powerful exit out of the first curve.


Photo by Julien Garroy

In the starting blocks things didn’t go smoothly. One competitor seemingly had his fingers on the line, or something; so instead of a normal start there was a long phase of uncertainty where you don’t know if the start is imminent or if the athlete at fault is still busy correcting his starting position. Unsurprisingly, when the gun went off I was still not in that right mindset.

I had Maxime Allard from my club ahead of me in lane 5. While I didn’t feel like I was losing ground in the first turn, I wasn’t gaining any either. At some point in the second turn I thought I was finally making up ground to the other runners… and then I just ran out of steam entirely. Never mind all those grandiose thoughts of ideal running form that you may harbor while at rest; when you’re sprinting at full speed and losing ground you’re not thinking about arm movement, leg lift or stride frequency. All I could think of at that point was something like “you’re not doing well. this is not working. damn it.”


Photo by Julien Garroy

I finished a disappointing 5th in my heat, in 23″83. I guess that counts as a slice of humble pie. Eleven years ago I was almost two seconds faster (21″93).

I’m not sure if my heart rate monitor can be trusted to be perfectly reliable for short sprints, but it seems that I maxed out on 174 beats per minute on that 200m; which seems quite low.

Overall, my 23″83 finish time meant I finished 27th out of 46 finishers. From a strictly national point of view, I still had 12 runners in front of me.

I retired to the stands for a long wait until the 4x200m races; which were counting as national championships (the individual races will take place next week).

Since my 200m time had been quite bad, I wasn’t chosen for the first team, but instead (like in the past two years) ran in a second team. Our team consisted of Martti Snäll, Gavin Dunne, Stefano Giudice and me (also running in that order). We were in heat #2. Obviously the top teams in heat #1 had already decided the podium; so we were just competing for the sake of competition.

We handily beat the other teams in our heat, and despite getting the relay well ahead of the other teams I still pushed quite hard on my leg; so that we easily won our heat. At the same time, we were well behind the podium, clocking in a 1’38″61 to the 1’31″22, 1’32″35 and 1’32″93 done by CSL1, CAB1 and CAD1 in the first heat. Overall, we finished the 4x200m championship on 5th position (out of 13 teams), since CELTIC3 with Festus Geraldo won the third heat in 1’34″33.

I felt better on the relay than I had done on the individual 200m; despite feeling quite a bit of pain in my left Achilles tendon and right hip area.

The next morning I weighed in at over 2kg less than the morning before the race, which is further evidence that I wasn’t hydrating well enough on Saturday.

60m race, Meeting Régional, Coque


Yesterday was my first competition for 2014. I did a 60m at the Meeting Régional in Luxembourg.

Until the day before, I was undecided whether I should compete or not because my achilles tendon still wasn’t happy. While I’ve tried to do a better job with injury prevention in 2014, especially by reducing inflammation in my left Achilles tendon, there’s still potential for improvement.

I arrived at the Coque indoor track with some time to spare, paid my 4€ for a late signup, then sat in the stands until it was 1 hour to go before the race.

For warming up, there’s even more annoyances than last year: in the downstairs entrance area, part of the surface was taken up by plastic tables and chairs; and in the area around the stands up on top a whole side was closed off because they’ve finally realized that having unrestricted access to a climbing wall might be dangerous. Of course for athletes that means you can’t run a big loop around the stands anymore. The air was stuffy, as usual, and it was entirely too hot (although still better than on the volleyball court next door).

After doing about 15 minutes of running, and then stretching for 15 more, I did various skips (“technique course”) before attempting a few strides and short sprints on the short and narrow track adjacent to the competition area. As the competitions in Luxembourg get more popular, it’s starting to be harder and harder to get a decent warm-up done because there’s no place where you can even do a full sprint, especially not when wearing spikes.

At one point there was around 15 to 20 minutes of delay in the schedule, so I wasn’t quite ready with my warm-up when my name was called to walk out into the competition area and to run in heat 1. Turns out the women’s 60m were not all that popular – only 3 heats compared to 7 for the men – so they made up some time.

I put on my spikes and walked to the starting block. I was in lane 3, so I set up the block and did a test start.

Pretty soon we were in the blocks and the gun went off. I was expecting the 3 guys on my ride side to be faster than me, and they were ahead almost straight away. My start wasn’t great, but didn’t feel horrible either. The rest of the race, I just tried to stay as close as possible to the guys in front of me, but I guess I was just running within the limits of my less than stellar preparation.

I crossed the finish line in fourth place after 7″43. The heat was won in 6″80 by Berenger Bosse from Reims, who later also won the final in 6″76. In the old days, I could have finished second but #2 (7″24) and #3 (7″31) went to athletes from Belgium and again Reims (France) instead.

I wasn’t that disappointed with my performance – I worked until 10pm on Friday on a photography assignment and again for almost 6 hours on Saturday; I had had a headache throughout the entire night before the race; and on top of that I had done almost no specific 60m preparation this winter (a total of two short sprint sessions in December, followed by no track trainings whatsoever over the holiday break). Mostly, I was glad that both the left Achilles tendon and my right-side hip area didn’t give me any signals of major pain after the race.

Overall, there were 50 competitors signed up in 7 heats.  Every heat had one DNS (“did not start”) so that 43 athletes crossed the finish line. Of these 43 (if my counting is correct) I was in 22nd position , or right in the middle.  There was a sizable amount of foreign competitors, I placed #5 among Luxembourgish athletes; behind Festus Geraldo (7″05, 7″06 in the final), Lionel Evora Delgado (7″13, 7″10 in the final), Pol Bidaine (7″14) and Olivier Boussong (7″15, 7″11 in the final).

2013 track races in review

Running, Track

Indoor races

12/Jan/2013 – Meeting Régional 2 (Coque)

In my first race for the year, I ran a 200m in 23″41. I finished first in the fifth heat, and overall 16th out of 39. Later that day, I participated in the 4x200m relay, where I was part of my club’s second team. We ran 1’38″95.

19/Jan/2013 – Championnats Indoor (Coque)

The indoor championships were a challenging day, with four races. I first ran a 60m, where I qualified for the finals by winning heat 4 out of 5 in 7″36. There were 39 competitors in total. In the 60m final I finished 5th and last, in 7″32.

On the 200m with 23 competitors in 4 heats, if I wanted to qualify for the final I couldn’t hold back all. I was seeded in the first heat with Tom Hutmacher who would later win the finals. I ran all out, and finished second in 22″97. I advanced to the final as fastest time-based qualifier (the 4 first sports already filled by the winners of their respective heats).  As this was my fourth race for the day, I was already quite tired and although I had a podium finish in sight (third place was within reach) I was bumped to fourth place by Wesley Charlet on the final meters. I still managed to do 23″01.

Outdoor races

13/Apr/2013 – Meeting TC (Arlon, Belgium)

I wasn’t sure how well my training had prepared me for the outdoor season – my sessions had been a little over the place with a mixture of sprints and long distance runs. I expected this competition in Arlon to be a low-key event, and it was. Warming up almost on my own should have been a tell-tale sign, but in the end only three people lined up for the 100m. I won quite easily in 11″62, with a tailwind of 0.7m/s.


14/Apr/2013 – Meeting Ouvert (Soleuvre)

One day after the 100m in Arlon, I thought I would see more competition in the first outdoor track meeting in my own country.

Most local guys elected not to run, however, and I should probably have skipped this race as well. The track is only 200m, which means the 100m end rather abruptly in gym mats rather than giving you plenty of time to slow down after the finish line.

I had an OK start and won with a narrow lead over Pol Bidaine. Our times were 11″56 and 11″67, respectively. Unfortunately, the abrupt braking phase into the gym mats somehow affected my hip placement, and even eight months later I can still feel some of the repercussions of that impact.


01/Sep/2013 – Meeting Ouvert International (Dudelange)

After not being able to sprint all out for a few months, I still went back to the track in September. I was still hoping to finish the season on a positive note, and while I hadn’t done much sprinting I’d done quite a bit of strength training and some longer runs to at least maintain a modicum of shape.

In the race, I had a pretty bad start and didn’t recover from that at all, finishing last in the first heat in 11″64 (with a tailwind of 0.9m/s, to boot). The race was won by Festus Geraldo in 10″98, which meant the gap was considerable.

22/Sep/2013 – Coupe du Prince (Luxembourg)

My hip was still bothering me, and as such I was happy to hear that my club had enough other athletes to cover the individual competitions at the Coupe du Prince. However, they asked me to participate in the second 4x100m team, whose goal was to save some points in case the first team didn’t finish or was disqualified. I thought I could manage that, so I taped up my various injuries, and ran 4th position on the relay which we finished in 48″33. While I would have considered this a very bad result in my competitive years, it needs to be taken in context of a club competition; plus we did leave three other teams behind us.