Sunday, 3 May 2009

Plugging Away and a great PW.

With only 2 miles of running last week I decided to ignore the 10% rule when increasing this weeks mileage (otherwise it would take a few years to get up to marathon distance). In fact Monday's 3 miles was already an increase of 50%. I braved a further 2.5 miles on the treadmill on Thursday lunchtime increasing the pace gradually from 8.5 to 13.5 kph (07:09 per mile) and was delighted that it remained pain free (first sign that my calf was on the mend).
To ensure that I wasn't dreaming I headed out on a 5 mile run after work, delighted to be able to hit the roads again. The first downhill mile went reasonably well and under 8 minutes and all. Following a stretch it was into the second mile on a slight uphill drag and I don't know whether it was the stretching or the uphill but the discomfort in my calf returned and remained with me for the remainder of the run as I altered my gait to protect the calf especially on the uphill sections where my normal gait would tend to stretch the calf muscles that bit further on pushoff. "F*#k, when is this going to end!" was all I could think. Still I was philosophical enough about it, what else could I do, no amount of angst was going to speed up recovery.
I took a rest day Friday and hit the roads (well the park) again yesterday morning on a run with Puds. I had warned Puds that I may have to bail if my calf acted up. He was taking it nice and easy after running the Pfizers 6 miler on Wednesday. We eased into the run at about 9 minute pace and I felt fine. We did three laps of the outer loop giving just over 7 miles and ended up at 8 minute pace for the last mile and i'm glad to say my calf behaved and gave me no trouble. The fact that the pace was easy and the terrain flat may have helped.
This was all the encouragement I needed to keep my date with the Bayrun half marathon this morning as I headed off to west cork shortly after 7. (I had paid for it and there was free physio afterwards) I bumped into my neighbour Pat in Bantry (finish line) and gave him a lift to Glengariff where the race was starting. As the first 4 miles of the race (and the worst hill) were within a mile of the start (the first 2.75 miles is an out and back loop) I figured that if things got rough I would be close to the car if I needed an exit strategy. My plan was to run relatively comfortably and protect my calf by taking it easy on the uphills. I thought I would be able to manage 8 minute pace (or close to it). After picking up our race numbers we went on a 2 mile warmup - 1 mile uphill at 9 minute pace and back down at 07:30 pace. Legs holding out - so far so good.
Catherina McKiernan was starting the race (and running in it) - (Catherina was just over a minute outside the then world record when she won the Amsterdam marathon in 1998 in 2:22:23).
Once the gun went off I eased into my stride as those around me raced off. A quick glance at the garmin showed a comfortable 08:30 pace. Half a mile later it was averaging 07:45 but still comfortable so I kept plugging away. Pat and I ran together over the first three miles as we looped back towards the start line and headed up the hill out of Glengariff towards Bantry.
Miles 1 to 3 in 07:37/38/26.
Then came the hill up out of Glengariff (I took a gel at the bottom). My pace eased back a little as I shortened my stride. Over the next mile and a half the upward gradient continued and surprisingly I left Pat behind me and passed a steady stream of runners. My calf held up pretty well but I didn't expect the level of general aches and pains I was feeling - probably due to the lack of any significant running over the last 2 weeks. Still it wasn't a big deal.
Mile 4 in 08:05.
At the top of the hill I passed a girl who had passed me just after the 1 mile mark. On the downhill section to Mile 5 she passed me back but I kept a few yards behind her without altering my pace.
Mile 5 in 07:27.
I passed her again as we approached the timing mat at mile 5.5. We exchanged places a few more times before she increased the gap between us to 10 yards. I maintained my pace which rose and fell with the gradient as if I was locked into a preset effort level (calf protection mode - still a long way to the finish).
Downhill Miles 6 and 7 in 07:10/04.
We came up on the back of a group of runners strung out over 20 yards after the 7 mile mark and slowly reeled them in. It was nice to run in a group for a change. The gradient continued downhill and for some unexplained reason I decided to up my pace and surged forward out of the group down to the 8 mile mark where I came alongside Denis Looney of Eagle AC. We briefly exchanged pleasantries before returning to our silent efforts.
Mile 8 in 06:45. (took my second gel)
I was feeling strong at this stage and maintained my new found effort as the route followed the coast at sea level. I continued to reel in and pass others although I was worried that while the effort was relatively comfortable my left leg may not be up to the challenge.
Mile 9 in 06:53.
We rounded the headland into Ballylickey on towards the 10 mile mark up an incline.
Mile 10 in 07:10 - I knew the Garmin miles were shorter that the actual miles and noticed that it was 50 seconds after the garmin beeped that I passed the 10 mile marker. (average of 5 seconds to be added to the mile splits)
Legs holding out pretty well although the general achy feeling that I felt during the early miles persisted. The road rose and fell again over the next few miles and I noticed that the camber was having an impact on my calf as I jumped to and from the footpath looking for the most comfortable surface. One guy passed me shortly after the 10 mile mark at a relatively strong pace despite the fact that I was still passing those in front of me.
Mile 11 in 07:29 (Hilly)
Shortly after the 11 mile mark I could feel a dull ache coming on my calf. "Please God don't give up on me now just hold out for another 10 or 12 minutes". I continued on as the discomfort increased slightly. Downhill past the last watering station and the last uphill past the 12 mile mark.
Mile 12 in 07:05.
I passed 3 guys shortly after the 12 mile mark and as it was 100+ yards to the next guy thought that I was finished exchanging places for the day. Now all that was left was the downhill into Bantry, make sure that no one passed me. The discomfort in my calf increased as I reached the bottom of the hill - through the narrow streets of Bantry - the guy in front was getting closer. Still not sure if my calf would sustain the increase in effort necessary for overtaking. I passed him just before the 13 mile mark and upped the pace towards the finish line just to make sure I was well past him.
Mile 13 in 06:54.
I thought I crossed under the finish line in 01:35:xx - I wasn't really concentrating and I did not stop the garmin either. However my official time is 01:36:08 which is a personal worst by 16 seconds (a record which stood since September 2007 when I also ran a conservative race due to a calf injury!). I've never been so happy with a personal worst. An enjoyable run on a beautiful sunny morning and hopefully I am back on the road and can get some solid training in over the next few weeks before tapering for Cork. I'm not out of the woods yet though, the stiffness in my left calf this afternoon is sufficient to remind me of that. A running rest day tomorrow and an easy recovery/evaluation run on Tuesday should inform me on my recovery progress. The "Go" Gels I used today appear to be agreeable so I will use them for Cork.
The timing mat at mile 5.5 showed that my pace up to that point was 07:32 increasing to 07:11 for the last 7.6 miles giving an overall average of 07:20. It also showed that I passed 44 runners during those faster 7.6 miles and that I was passed by 1.
This is my third time running this race and I have yet to go sub-90 - Next Year perhaps!
2007 - 01:32:29
2008 - 01:30:00
2009 - 01:36:08
I availed of the free physio session after the race and my left calf got a good going over. A hop on the courtesy bus back to Glengariff and a walk down the slipway and into the cold Atlantic water to begin the muscle repair process. I was joined by Laura Buckley of Eagle AC. We must have looked a bit odd standing there up to our waist chatting about running and triathlon.
Mon 27th Apr
3.05 miles in 27:37 (09:04 pace @ 126 HR)
Thur 30th Apr
2.5 miles in 20:50 (08:20 pace - treamill)
5.29 miles in 42:32 (08:02 pace @ 144 HR)
April 2009 (Run 210.2 miles, Bike 49.3 miles, Swim 11,000m)
Sat 2nd May
7.13 miles in 59:46 (08:23 pace @ 137 HR)
Sun 3rd May
15.12 miles with 13.11 miles in 01:36:08 (07:20 pace @ 157 HR)
Marathon Peak Week #5 (Run 33.1 miles, Bike 16.5 miles, Swim 3,000m)


  1. I was keeping my fingers and toes crossed as I read your report hoping and preying your old calf would hold together for the duration!
    A p.w. is far better than a DNF!!!


  3. Nice to have the calf hang in there for a 13-miler. Hopefully that thing is starting to turn the corner.

    BTW - since you're doing some swimming, is it possible for you to do some pool running to keep fit until the calf is better? I know a lot of people find pool running to be the best x-training you can do - it's the closest thing to actually running w/o putting the impact strain on the muscles. Just a thought.

  4. When I read PW I thought you had done a lot worse than that. I'm sorry I missed it this year, but it would have been a really bad idea.

    I hope your calf is finally starting to behave again.

  5. nice run. Good to see that things are on the way back. You never know the rest may even have been a blessing in disguise...

  6. You're right - that's a good personal worst. Racing a half, no matter how easy, is a very tough injury tester.

    Running on the flat in training would be my tip - and backing off the pace a bit until there are no more niggles.