I woke up at 5.30 a.m. on Saturday morning to the sound of Abina rising, an hour later than planned, to set off for the "Next" sale. As she has risen early in the past to support my triathlon endeavors I decided to support her in her shopping endurance challenge and to see what all the fuss was about. So shortly before 6 we set off together on a cold (-2C) and frosty morning for the short trip across town. Just over 2 hours later we returned home with our purchases, having spent over 1 of those hours just queuing to pay. I don't think i'll be repeating the experience anytime soon - I just hadn't put in the training and it showed. As I browsed the aisles at a leisurely pace all around me shoppers moved at a blistering pace laying the shop bare before me - you couldn't help but be impressed.
After a quick cup of coffee Abina went back to bed to get a bit of shut eye before the rest of the house woke and I headed out for my scheduled long run. If only I had headed out at six I would be home by now. It was a beautiful morning for a run though - cold, crisp and sunny with firm footing underneath. My plan was to run for 2.25 hours so I headed into town along the Model Farm Road/College Road - along the south quays - across the river and up the north quays, through Sunday's Well and back out the Straight Road. A few loops around Ballincollig and I was back home for 11 with 17 miles in the bag. Not a bad mornings work.
I followed the run up with breakfast and an hour later I was back on the road with Adrian for a 22.5 mile cycle. As he was feeling energetic he took me over a hilly loop to Crossbarry. Needless to say I slept well on Saturday night.
Not the best preparation for Sunday's "Donough Coughlan Memorial" 5 mile road race in Bandon. My 5 mile PB of 32:06 was set at this race last year and my aim was to beat it and get under 32 minutes. I wasn't quite sure how the race would go as all my running since Amsterdam in October has been at a relatively "slow" aerobic pace with not one interval, fartlek or hill session behind me. Still it would be a good test to see where my current fitness lies. I had a slight concern going into the race as my left calf had begun to tighten up a little at the end of Saturday's 17 miler.
I headed to Bandon with Pat (next door neighbour) and signed up for the race with about 10 minutes to go. My warmup, which consisted of running the 0.5 miles to the start line and a few sprints, was less that perfect. I met up with Diarmuid (aka Miley) shortly before the start. He'd be the one to keep an eye on if I was at the top of my game - we were neck and neck after the first five miles (30:59) of a 10K race last April. I was no where near that level though. The course consisted of a fast downhill/flat first mile, a flat second mile, an uphill third mile and 2 downhill/flat miles to the finish. So my plan was to take it relatively easy until the end of the third uphill mile and see what was left in the tank after that. Once the gun sounded I headed off at a steady pace down the hill against a cold easterly wind over the first 0.5 miles. Diarmuid was already well out in front of me which I would have expected - being a master of the short distances he's never one for the slow start. At the bottom of the hill we turned west with the wind at our backs up through the town past the 1 mile mark in about 6 minutes even. Mile 2 was through the town and out the Clonakilty Road. One or two went past me at this point but I kept my pace even and comfortable, tagging onto one or two runners in front of me before turning south out the Kilbrittain Road past the 2 mile mark. 06:35 was the split - which I only saw post race (I thought I had been faster). We were now running up the only hill which went on for about a mile and while my pace slowed I began to pass other runners while I maintained a comfortable pace. Left again in a easterly direction to the crest of the hill and down to the 3 mile mark (7:10 was the split). I knew I would have to work hard but I was sure I was on target for the sub-32. I don't know why as I had not been keeping a proper track of the time and did not know what pace was required for the final 2 miles. Miles 4 and 5 were very comfortable compared to the uphill mile 3 but I did not take full advantage. With a mile and a half to go I felt a cramp coming on my right calf so I became conscious of not pushing the pace too much and making sure I got to the finish line without suffering the humility of stopping and having to limp home. I passed two runners over the last mile, one being the 2nd female, and felt very comfortable without experiencing any lung bursting pain at all. The last guy I passed came back at me strong over the last 100 yards, timing his strike to perfection and eventhough I sprinted for the finish he managed to pass me before the line. There was no clock at the finish and I forgot to stop my watch so I had to wait an hour for the results. I stopped the Garmin at 33:17 and when I looked at my splits it showed 26:03 for mile 4 and 32:25 for mile 5. However some of that 5th mile was spend catching my breath at the finish. It was looking doubtful though that I would break 32 minutes or even beat my 32:06 PB which would require a 5:57 or 6:03 final mile. As it turned out my official time was 32:03 - a 3 second PB which is not bad considering my lack of speedwork, less than perfect preparation the day before and that fact that I did not (could not) push hard during the last mile(s). My problem was that I had plenty of endurance but no speed. I could have run all day but ask me to up the pace and i wouldn't have known how to. That'll come in time. My warmdown consisted of a 0.7 mile hobble with Diarmuid - my right calf had begun to cease up. It's feeling a bit better today but I think I'll let the recovery run go for another day. Diarmuid ran a very respectable 30:50 - not long now before he breaks the 30 minutes barrier. That's it folks my last PB of the year and conditioning week 6 complete (Run 62.99 miles, Swim Nil, Bike 22.5 miles) Sat 27th Dec 17.09 miles in 02:15:00 (07:54 pace @ 140HR) Sleep: 4.5 hrs 5/10 Legs: 7.5/10 Sun 28th Dec 7 miles with 5 miles in 32:03 (06:24 pace @ 166HR) Sleep: 8.5 hrs 8/10 Legs: 8/10 (before the cramp set in)