Sunday, 19 October 2008


Greetings from Amsterdam. The time above shows that while things didn't go to plan I finished and am happy to have done so. In summary my calf held out until just before mile 18 (although the first sign of trouble was at mile 5 - so glad that it let me get as far as I did because if it happened at mile 5 I surely would have had a big DNF. Bottom line is I was determined to finish and started walking. On the plus side the watering stations were like a treasure trove of goodies...I'll have another banana and sports drink, thank you very much". After a mile or so I got bored and decided, from the 20m mile mark, to set a sub 4 hour target which required a 12:30 mile pace. My best walk would only give me a 13:30 mile so I started a slow jog. A pervious attempt at this had failed, but this time it was manageable and my pace improved to 11:30 or so - great, I could still stop at the watering stations and do a bit of food shopping and make up the lost time when I resumed jogging. With about 4 miles to go I tagged on to the coattails of another runner who was slightly faster in the hope that I would be pulled along. And sure enough it appeared to work. I carried on like this for a while, being very careful with my right leg. Then the 03:45 pacer passed us by. I ditched my pacer and followed the guy with the red baloon, now with the intention of beating my slowest marathon time (03:47). I found the effort hard going despite the long walking break and any notion that my calf was ok was quickly dispelled when a sharp pain shot through it going over a ramp. It appeareed that the closer I landed to the front of my foot the more intense the pain and so I made a conscious effort to land far back on my heel as I could, which made for a funny stride. With 2k to go I left the baloon man behind, remenber he started behind me and would probably bring me in closer to 3:46/47. One benefit of having an easy race number (4,000) is that it attarcted the attention of the organisers and just before I entered the Oylmpic stadium the crowd were addressed over the public address with "here come number 4,000, a big cheer for Grellan McGrath from Ireland" what a buzz it gave me as I entered the stadium and sprinted for the line. Great finish despite my tale of woe. To be honest my early pace was going to get me nowhere near 3:00 or even 3:10. I was suffering before I stopped and walked (came through the half in something like 1:38). I think my peak came 4 weeks ago in the Blarney half and mostly stayed for the 15 mile Cork to Cobh. I've come to the conclusion that the Brain Training programme I was following has too much speedwork over a long period of time and is probably more suited to shorter distances. Time for some beers now!


  1. Nice report Grellan. Glad to hear you're having a good time of it despite the calf. Time to enjoy yourself now! You've certainly earned it w/ all the hard work over the past several months.

    I'm sure once you rest and heal up, you'll be out there training away towards another set of PRs.

  2. Well done at sticking it out and at the very least enjoying the event (sorry to hear about the calf)... next time. Recover well.

  3. Congratulations on hanging in there and making the finish. We'll make an ultra runner out of you yet!!

    Recoery well and make sure you make a note of lessons learned for next time.


  4. Sorry that it didn't quite go to plan, but the cool race number alone made the trip worthwhile.

    I could see from your early splits that you weren't on PR pace at any stage of the race, so I guess you didn't miss our on anything, really. Toughing it out when it's getting tough at mile 18 is a good experience anyway (happened to me in Dublin 2004).

    I agree about the Brain Training having too much speedwork, btw. I've come to the same conclusion a while ago.

    Now let that calf recover properly. After you've finished the beers, that is. Enjoy!

  5. well done for making it (still faster than your first Dublin even injured!!) ....enjoy the weekend. must have been great coming into the stadium and being a celebrity for a minute!!! Congrat to Adrian too - nice run..

  6. Grellan,

    The strength of will and determination to finish are the key things to take away from this experience. It will make you stronger and realise what it is like back at that part of the pack for the rest of us!!!! Enjoy the Amstels

  7. Good on you! While all indicators earlier on predicted a better result, it was still a gutsy effort. Congratulations and enjoy those beers!

  8. While you're at it, have a beer for me too. Very glad you made it to the finish line Grellan, even if not in one piece.

    Interesting conclusion about the speedwork - perhaps the plan needs tweaking for marathoners.

    Enjoy the rest of the holiday.

  9. Well done at toughing it out, Grellan! I know it's frustrating to not perform to your abilities, but pushing through obstacles like you did speaks volumes of your character. Way to go man. Rest well.

  10. Grellan - Well done with the race. A very good show considering what you had to put up with! Rest up, enjoy the beer, and look forward to the next one.

  11. Sorry to hear about the calf issue. Good job getting yourself to the finish line.

  12. It's all been said above. Good job toughing it out on a bum leg and now you can rest, reload and get back at it soon enough. Enjoy those beers!

  13. Great positive attitude and good to see you made the best of a bad situation1
    about the brain training,
    I myself followed lydiards base training last winter and ran some amazing races inc a p.b. while still only doing aerobic work, i then moved into anaerobic training and after 5 weeks ran my fastest 3x 1 mile workout. i then made the mistake of not listening to lydiards advise and carried on doing the 2 club interval session per week throughout the summer, result i burned out and my race performances went backwards.
    Lydiard might be old school, but his training works... brain training like you say will lead to an early peak then burnout.. hopefully all that base miles thomas did before he started the brain training will help him!
    my advise to you is follow a lydiard type program, big improvements are bound to follow!
    well done grellan for not quitting

  14. p.s. as lydiard says you can keep on improving your aerobic ability for many years, anaerobic work needs to be treated with a lot of respect,
    matt fitzgeralds calls lydiard old school and almost laughs at him for being out of date! the truth is lydiard was trying to steer athletes away from this over anaerobic biased type of training fitzgerald recommends way back in the 50s 60s and 70s etc.

  15. p.p.s. Matt makes his book sound very scientific with an amazing new discovery that had help us run faster, and what do we have to do to run faster, basically he tells us we have to suffer more!!!!! wow, awesome matt! can i have my refund on my brain training book now, please matt

  16. Hi Grellan

    Great race report for what was an unfortunate result. I could feel your disappointment, but on the other hand you have the strength to make it a positive experience. You knew you weren't 100% going in and you beat the marathon anyway. 26.2 miles on your best day with perfect weather and feeling 100% and tailwinds and all downhills.. is still probably the hardest thing you will ever do physically in your life.

    Best of luck my friend as you train for your next race. I have been able to witness through your blog how far you have come and next time it will be your day.

  17. Great report, Grellan!

    When I saw the time, I was really surprised, especially after reading about your Cork run. I think you're "peaked" a bit early. Ah well, though, it's still a marathon and you still got to drink beer!

    On to the next challenge...tackle it!

  18. Congrats on toughing through it. When my marathon went pair shaped a year and a half back I only stuck in to the finish as I didn't know how to drop out in the middle of a foreign country. Actually battling it to try beat a time while struggling is commendable.

    Enjoy your recovery drinks, dust yourself down, let the leg recover and get back on the horse... There's a PB that will be broken next time out.