Sunday, 31 January 2010

Firing on all cylinders

To be honest I though after 4 years on the road I was close to the limit of my genetic ability and that any improvements (in my running) from here on in will be both painful and minuscule. The days of the breakthrough race were well and truly gone. A good 4 mile race last Sunday yielded an 11 second PB and still not a best performance by McMillan standards (that still remains my HM PB set in September 2008 - Christ that's a long time ago!). My equivalent 4 mile best should be 23:55 and likewise if I was on best form I should be capable of a 63:38 10 miler. When I hit the 5 mile mark in 31:23 today I knew I was on better than best form. I had just hit my 5 mile PB set last August - although McMillan would have me running 30:18 (~u*k McMillan - a PB's a PB). The question was how would the 2nd 5 miles turn out - there's no point feeling on best form halfway through a race. It's always the second half where races are won or lost. Six of us (3 Pats, Kevin, John and myself) from Eagle AC started out on a beautiful cold sunny afternoon at the preplanned opening pace of 6:20 or thereabouts which meant, all things going well, we'd cross the finish line in 63:20. Unlike last week I shed the tights and long sleeves for a singlet and shorts and wore gloves - got it right this time as it wasn't too cold. When we passed the first mile marker we had been on 6:18 pace (Garmin) but the timekeeper called out 6:24 as we passed. "Looks like we'll have to run a Garmin pace of 6:15 if we want to hit 6:20's in the real world" - I thought. At this stage the 6 of us were within 10 yards of each other (I was somewhere towards the rear). We pushed on out the main Cork road to the 2 mile mark, where there was another timekeeper calling out 12:30 something. So we were just under 6:20 pace. Turns out there were timekeepers at all the mile markers (except 7 I think) I was feeling strong at this stage and kept pushing at the same pace going to the front of the eagle group as we turned right off the main road. I was surprised at how many I was passing right up to the 5 mile mark. Mile 3 in 18:50 - 10 seconds under 6:20 pace Mile 4 in 25:05 - 15 seconds under Mile 5 in 31:23 - 17 seconds under There was a nice drag up to mile 4 and 5 so I was happy to be keeping pace. I continued to pass a few runners through miles 6 and 7 both around 6:15 pace. I was passed by a West Waterford AC guy before the 6 mile mark. We exchanges a few words. He said he was trying to keep his brother behind him. "Nothing like a bit of competition to spur you on" I said as he moved ahead. I could feel the fatigue creeping up my legs at this stage so I took advantage of the hill down towards the 7 mile mark to pull the gel from the back of my shorts (nearly gave myself a wedgie in the process of trying to tug it out - apologies to those behind me) and swallow it before I hit the flat section along the side of the marsh leading to mile 8. I was still only 20 yards or so behind West Waterford "Michael" his supporters were calling him. I had changed the Garmin display at this stage to read total time only as I did not want to be distracted with lap pace/average pace/HR etc. I gained on Michael as we passed Mile 8 - 50:05 on the Garmin. I knew that I was well under the 50:40 that 6:20 pace would give me. "I have just under 13 minutes to get a sub 63" I thought and that was my target for the rest of the race. I wanted to give myself a 6:30 closing mile as a bit of insurance so I reckoned I needed to pass the 9 mile mark at 56:30 or less. I passed Michael on the short incline back on the the Cork Road as we turned left for the long straight to the finish. Michael came back on my shoulder and we ran together for about half a mile. I knew that the longer I kept with him we'd pull each other home. After a while I knew I couldn't keep pace with him and he pulled slowly ahead. the 9 mile marker was near - keep pushing at the same effort/pace - Mile 9 in 56:23 - "On target just need to keep it together for another 6.5 minutes. I followed in the wake of Michael as he gained and passed a woman in front. I was gaining for a while but never got near her. I did pass one guy on the roundabout about 400m from the finish and then got passed by a guy I had passed around mile 8. He was going very strong and I had nothing in the tank to give chase. All I could manage was to push at the effort I was running at - no kick - not even when I turned into the finishing straight when the mind took over and gave the body permission to go all out for the line - this time the body was unable to respond, which was probably a good thing in that I must have used up all my fuel - no point in having something in the tank after you cross the finish line. I crossed the line in 62:38 - 6:15 for the last mile, just shows the even paced nature of my race (6:16 average). 62:38 is a breakthrough race, no doubt about it - The31:15 for the last 5 miles is better than my 5 mile PB. My first sub-65 minute 10 miler. It'll be hard to top that. The rest of the Eagle group came in more or less on target @ 63:xx. Collect goodie bag, a quick warmdown over 1.5 miles, shower and a feed of tea, coffee, sandwiches, cakes, biscuits laid on by West Waterford AC. I have to say a big thank you and well done to West Waterford AC for putting on a great race, very well organised given the 1,000 entrants - everything appeared perfect from where I was looking. It was nice to chat to a few budding runners over tea/coffee after the race as we exchange news/stories of our upcoming exploits. Hope to see Der and Martin on some of our weekend runs and all the best to Frank and the boys of East Cork AC (there seems to be something in the genes in east Cork that yields so many fast sub-60 minute 10 milers) Thanks to Denis Looney for giving Pat and myself a lift to Dungarvan and for providing some lively chat along with Kate and Marian. The results have me 85th out of 987 finishers which puts me within the top 10%. McMillan now gives me a 2:55:25 Marathon - don't you just love that guy. Thur 28th Jan 5.26 miles in 42:05 (8:00 pace @ 121 HR) Vibrams Fri 29th Jan 2.5 miles in 19:49 (7:56 pace - Treadmill) Sat 30th Jan 5 miles in 38:49 (7:46 pace @ 126 HR) Sun 31st Jan 13.64 miles in 1:34:46 (6:57 pace @ 147 HR) with 10 miles in 62:38 (6:16 pace @ 161 HR) Training Week # 10 - 67.1 miles January - (Run 296.9 miles, Bike 14.6 miles, Swim 5,750m)


  1. Fantastic Grellan,

    I'm really pleased for you. Don't think the Party's over just yet, you can continue the break throughs for the next 5 years I reckon.

    Go back and try to find out if there is anything that stands out as a reason for the great result you got and then you will be able to do it again. I know it is hard to do but if you can it let us know.

    Are you going to go for that sub 3 now?

  2. great running Grellan, I tried to stay with ya during 3rd mile, but the pace was too hot!

    Def time to move up to 6:00 mile repeats.

  3. Some running! Whatever changes you've made to your training in the past 9 months they are paying dividends now. Well done.

  4. Great PB Grellan - top 10%
    fair play to ya.

  5. You just got me into trouble!

    I was looking at the results here on the office computer and shouting out "f*cking hell" isn't the usual behaviour when looking at the database. Gotta find an excuse for that one.

    Wow, that's one stonking time, and what an improvement! Sub-65 was always a given, but that is rather astounding. Let's see what you can do in Ballycotton!

  6. told ya!!!

    beating McMillan by one minute.... great stuff. Things are coming good just at the right time.

  7. Nice meeting you Grellan, always nice to match a face to a blog! Great running, I didn't realise you had set such a big pb, Well done!!

  8. Great report and a great race. That’s a great PB. Is the ultra training helping you??? You passed me around the 1.5 mile mark and looked very strong. Well done and onwards to the mallow 10.


  9. Brilliant race Grellan. Beautifully judged pace from the start.

    Much as I hate to, I'm agreeing with Scott Brown. More break-throughs for you in the coming years - don't set any limits.

  10. Nice one, if you train right you should see improvements for up to 10 years from when you first started sub hour could be on your horizon :}
    it took me 5 years to break the hour, then reached my best after 10 years with 57.37, so who knows how far you can go.

  11. Geez Grellan

    You're really on a lucky streak. Not only are you PBing but your comment on my blog won you the grand prize of a fridge magnet. Very witty! Just send me your snail mail address at

    and I'll get it off to you.

    Thanks again

    By the way Ewen would have won it but his comments weren't funny and he doesn't agree with me near enough ;)

  12. Cheers Scott - The old sub 3 hr is certainly looking more promising this year. Don't know about Barcelona though as us pale skins perform poorly when we see the sun.

    Kevin, you weren't too far behind and were bang on target pace.

    Cheers Richard/Diarmaid/Brendan/Catherine.

    Thomas Ballycotton is 2 weeks after barcelona so I'll loiok forward to a repeat of last year.

    Cheers Frank, I'll know I have arrived when I join the ranks of the sub 60 set.

    Paudie, don't know if the ultra training is helping as, apart from my 33 mile run a month ago, i'm not following an ultra programme, or any programme for that matter. I suppose the answer will come in Connemara.

    Cheers Ewen/Rick, hopefully the breakthroughs will continue for a few years yet.