Sunday, 30 December 2007

Last PB of the Year

Strayed away from the programme slightly today by competing in a 5 mile road Race in Bandon. We were visiting friends in Bandon so it seemed (to me) the logical thing to do. I was scheduled to do my long run (programme only called for 8 miles - with optional recovery run) so I had decided to run from Bandon to our friends house (about 4.5 miles) after the race so as to get the mileage up.
The race started on a nice downhill with a fast pace set from the beginning. The first and most of the second mile was through the town along a flat course. I ran relatively conservatively along this section keeping an eye on Seamus ahead (a guy from the club who told me beforehand he was aiming for about 32:30 - over a minute faster than my PB).
The third mile was a long uphill drag out the Kilbrittain Road - I kept the pace steady and managed to pass a few runners along this section, including Seamus -
"If I'm passing him he won't make 32:30" I thought.
While I had not been keeping track of my mile splits I certainly though I was over 7 minute pace going up the hill. As the field was strung out in single file it was not too difficult to reel runners in before overtaking them
Cresting the hill near the 3 mile mark the field in front of me was well strung out with a group of four runners (3 guys and a girl) about 80 yards on from of me, the only other competitors visible. The road was now falling away from me so the pace quickened. One of the guys fell out the back of the group and I managed to catch him up at about mile 3.25. The remaining 3 runners appeared to keep their distance from me. At Mile 3.5, however they began to unravel with one of the guys pulling ahead followed by the girl. The last guy fell back slightly and I managed to pull alongside him and pass him.
For the next half a mile or so the gap (10 to 20 yards) between me and the girl in front began to close very slowly - She wasn't giving up without a fight. I managed to pass her shortly after the 4 mile mark. Up to that point I was reasonably comfortable but now the strain of keeping the pace was making itself felt. The next guy in front (10 yards) was running strong. I also heard someone coming up behind me fairly fast so I pushed my pace just a little more. I passed the guy in front just after the "800 yards to go" sign but the other guy chasing me pulled up alongside me - it was Seamus - he had obviously conserved energy on the hill and was now reaping the dividend. I told him to push on ahead as I was pretty much spent. But he was having none of it "come on keep with me" he said " not far to go now" and he pulled me home. Once the finish line was in sight he was off and finished strongly 3 second ahead of me.
32:14 was on the clock as I passed it - that was a good run. This was subsequently revised to 32:06 as the clock was a little fast. That's a 90 second PB on my only other 5 miler (last July). Today's course was easier though being a net downhill course. In addition my recent form in other races suggest (McMillan) that a 32 minute 5 miler is within my capability.
I jogged back to the GAA Club (Race HQ) and did 5 laps of the pitches before having tea and sandwiches while waiting for the results (I came 32nd out of a field of 137) - the winning time was 26:02, I thought it would be faster).
After the refreshments I completed the final 4.5 hilly recovery miles of the day to our friends house where I was fed and watered for the evening. Overall between the warm-up, race and cooldown(s) I completed 14.1 miles bringing the total for the week to a modest 52.7 Miles.
Fri 28th Dec - 11.4 Miles in 01:29:23 (07:50 pace - No HR Monitor)
Sat 29th Dec - 6.7 "Barefoot" miles in 54:03 (08:04 pace @ 123HR) HR seems a bit low for
pace achieved - although run did feel easy. No niggles - everything going fine.
Sun 30th Dec - 14.1 miles incluiding 5 mile race in 32:06 (06:25 pace)
As tomorrow is a rest day, that's it for the year.
I have recorded 2,467 miles in 2007 over 335 hours (08:09 pace average) - my 2nd year running (well almost - started on 8th January 2006)

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Back on the straight and narrow - or closer at least.

Week #2 of my 24 week marathon training programme is a little closer to the book than last week. I'll have to watch myself as the commander across the ocean is keeping a close eye on proceedings (I could always fake it). I went out yesterday knowing I had to cover at least six miles with some 30 second hill sprints thrown in. I completed 6.7 miles with 2 x 30 second hill sprints with a 2 min jog in between (2 was on the cards last week so I assumed 2 was the number for this week - you know yourself - 24 week programme - plenty of time to ease into the hard work). I checked the programme on my return and if i'll be damned I should have done 6 x 30 second hill sprints. First of all I figured that I would do the remaining 4 today and then thought the better of it and reasoned that the 1 x 1 mile @ mile pace on Christmas day would cover it - so to speak. Anyway todays run could not be a hard session if the universal wisdom of hard day, easy day, hard day, easy day is to be adopted. I know some crazies do back to back hard days (and all sorts of death defying stunts - I think i'll be joining them soon), but I didn't want to deviate from the programme more than I had to and upset the commander even more. So todays scheduled 6 mile run at base pace was 8.6 miles at base pace (07:53). If the Commander will forgive me for adding on the extra mileage - think of them as the optional recovery runs - fodder miles if you will. I bought myself a little treat for my birthday - "Ultra Marathon Man" by Dean Karnazes - Now there is a crazy Guy that I'd like to be (crazy is a relative term - e.g. you'd want to be crazy to live a life without running). As he says all the trappings of the modern world won't give you the feeling of fulfillment/contentment/self realisation (call it what you will) that pushing your body to the limits of physical endurance will give you. If you want to know who you are then run 100 miles non-stop.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

A PB on Christmas Day

On Christmas eve I took a rest day. It wasn't very restful though as it was my one and only day christmas shopping. At least I got it over with in a few hours. Abina got me a Garmin Sat Nav for my birthday so I found my way into town and back again without getting lost - apparently I can use it on my runs as it give speed and distance as well as telling me where I am going. Perhaps I could plot in a road running route - "at the next roundabout take the third exit on the R608". I can already hear the instruction. I think not!

On Christmass morning, after all of Santa's presents were unwrapped and the turkey was stuffed and put in the oven we (Abina, Safan the dog and I) headed for the CIT track for the Christmas morning Goal Mile where, following a contribution towards charity, everyone and their dog can run, jog, walk, crawl or trot the 4 and & bit laps (1609.3m to be exact) of the track. The miles started at approximately 15 to 20 minute intervals with the MC at the start/finish line calling out the time over a PA system. Those jogging/walking usually kept out of lanes 1 and 2.
I warmed up over 6 laps in the outside lanes. As there was a cold snap overnight some ice had formed in lane 1 on the third bend and two traffic cones were placed around it forcing runners out into lane 2/3 - less than ideal.
My target pace was 85 second laps (42/43 seconds every 200m) which should bring me in at around 5:40 for the mile. The mile before my race was won in 05:08.
We all lined up at the start line (not too crowded) and we were off. Surprisingly I took the lead from the start, a position I have never been in and that I did not feel confortable with as I knew at least 1 or 2 runners in the pack who were certainly faster than me. 200m in 38 seconds told me that I had set out too fast. I was still in the lead after the first lap (01:15).

I knew that I would have to slow down, if I didn't want to blow up before the finish and that it was only a matter of time before someone would pass me. Lap 2 in 02:45 (1:30 for the lap - on for 05:30 pace). Coming down the back straight of lap 3 I was overtaken by three guys in quick succession, one of whom I knew ( He had run the mile in 05:25 last year). My pace, while nowhere near that of the first lap, was still steady (around 1;30 per lap) and reasonably maneagable. Approaching the end of lap 3 the MC was calling out 4:09/4:10. I was passed out by one more runner in lap 4. Nothing I could do about it - while my pace was steady, I could not increase it, it's a brain thing (central govenor holding back until the finish line was in sight). Coming down the home straight I could hear a guy bearing down on me and I managed to find the strength from somewhere to dig in and sprint for the finish line ahead of him. He gave me a clap on the back after we had crossed the line. 05:40 the MC called out as I crossed the line - bang on target - even if the pace had been a bit up and down.
I certainly felt comfortable going out at the pace I started at and the first lap did not feel as hard as the split time suggested. So there is certainly room for improvement. I did a 2.1 mile warmdown when I got home giving me approximately 5 miles for the day.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Need some easy running

I just finished my 15.3 mile long run this evening (had to wait for Abina to come home from Christmas shopping with the eldest two - always goes on longer than planned) I was left entertaining 6 kids between the ages of 4 and 8 (the 4 and 8 year old were mine). I usually do my long run on Saturday morning but I didn't get up on time. I'll have to kick my drinking habit. Instead I managed a 6.4 mile "barefoot" run to the park - running on grass/mud and gravel paths has it's own challenges. Still, everything went fine and my feet all the better for it. My legs certainly felt heavy today, especially towards the end of the run. I dressed warmly with 2 tops, tights and a woolly hat and was overheating by mile 2 - it got better later when the headwind cooled me down. I was aiming for 15 miles over about 2 hours (8 minute pace or slightly under). However I overshot the distance slightly and undershot the time to give 15.3 Miles in 01:57:17 (07:40 pace). While 7:40 pace is within my base pace range it is on the lower side and today I certainly could have done with taking it easy and letting the pace go over 8 minute miles. 61.5 Miles this week. First week over 60 miles since tapering for Dublin City Marathon. Tomorrow calls for a rest day on my programme, and I think I'll take it as I intend to run the goal mile on Christmas morning and see how far I can get under 6 minutes (if at all). Also I turn 42 tomorrow and will certainly get a lie-in if I want one. I don't know how I missed out on being called Noel. Happy Christmas to all.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Marathon Training Week # 1

This week I started my 24 week ( I know it's a bit long - but I'll do other races in between) training programme for the Cork City marathon on 2nd June 2008. The programme is from Matt Fitzgerald's "Brain Training for Runners" (I'll try anything once). The programme I am "intending" to follow calls for 6 runs a week with the option of up to 4 other recovery runs or x-training sessions lasting 20 mins to 1 hour. As most of the runs, especially in the early weeks, are single digit miles I "intend" to add the optional runs to the end of them as I haven't time to tog out twice a day. On Monday I took a rest day (story of my life this weather) and lo and behold the training programme said "day off" when I checked it in the evening. - so far so good. The rest of the week went like this:- Tuesday Programme said...... 6 mile run with 2 x 30 seconds hill repeats at sprint pace Grellan did............... a.m. 6.7 easy miles @ 08:12 pace & 129 HR. p.m. 6.4 miles at the track (no hills) with 8 x 400m repeats (actually lane 5 or 6) in 89 to 94 secs. Legs felt tired. Wednesday Programme said......6 miles @ base pace (for me 07:40 to 08:30 pace) Grellan did..............6.7 miles "barefoot" miles @ 08:31 & 112 HR (HR must be wrong) No niggles with extending barefoot distance. Thursday Programme said.....6 mile fartlek run with 2 x 30 secs @ mile pace. Grellan did.............. 8.6 mile fartlek run with 5 x 30 secs @ mile pace ( I did this route with 5 x 2 to 2.5 mins @ mile pace two weeks ago) 07:33 pace @ 102 HR (HR wrong) Friday Programme said....... 6 miles @ base pace. Grellan did................ 11.4 miles @ 07:33 pace & 137 HR (real HR in 140's). I'm less than 1 week in and already I'm deviating from the programme Friday

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Party Season

Only completed 34.5 miles this week as some of my usual morning running slots were taken up with recovery sleeping after some late nights or early morning Christmas pudding making. Following Tuesdays intervals I did an easy 5.2 "barefoot" run on wednesday morning - no niggles at all (so far so good) - 08:28 pace (No HR monitor) Thursday - rest day. feeling tired. Abina got a 5 a.m. to make Christmas puddings before she went to work so I got up to give some assistance/encouragement. Friday - 11.4 mile easy run @ 07:57 pace & 140 HR. Felt tired. Saturday - 2.5 miles on the threadmill while I watched Ani & Saran @ their swimming lessons. Out until 3 a.m. at work party. Sunday - 6.7 miles steady 07:20 pace @ 144 HR. - out until 2 a.m. at friends house party.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

"Walking on Water"

This is the proprioceptive (hope I spelt it right) cue I am following this week to improve my stride/efficiency. basically I have to imagine I am skimming over water without sinking into it - i.e. get those feet off the ground as soon as they land. I tried this on an 11.4 mile loop on Monday morning (same loop as Saturdays run). I was fully expecting my cadence to increase and my stride length to reduce accordingly to give me more or less the same pace as Saturday. Imagine my surprise when I finished the loop in two and a half minutes less than Saturdays run and with a lower heart rate also. My stride length had remained the same and my cadence increased to the recommended 90/minute. Drive on. This evening I returned to the track and more or less repeated the 6 x 400m intervals (lane 3 - 416m) with Eagle AC that I did 2 weeks ago. After a 3.6 mile warmup on the road I didn't feel great and was expecting to be dragged around the track. 85 second laps were on the menu with plenty of recovery on an easy walk/jog for a lap. The first lap was the slowest but I got into my stride after a while, giving an all out effort for the last. Here's how they went:- 1:27 @ 144 HR 1:26 @ 154 HR 1:25 @ 159 HR 1:22 @ 158 HR 1:23 @ 162 HR 1:16 @ 162 HR (All out effort - HR Max of 173) The average heart rates were low as I was fully recovered at the end of each recovery (some last over 5 minutes). Mon 11.4 Miles in 01:27:20 (07:40 pace @ 139 HR) Tue 7.3 miles incl 6 x 400m Intervals. .

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Cork Simon Christmas Run

I completed the last of the three 4 milers in the run up to Christmas today. This was a race with a difference - no watches allowed, you had to predict your finishing time beforehand and the only prizes were for those who finished closest to their predicted finishing time (6 prizewinners in all).
The weather was a bit wet and windy to say the least but not as bad as the gale force winds forecast. The run was an out and back from the Marina along the disused Monkstown/Passage railway line (now a walking path) with a bit of a road (footpath really) loop thrown in, between miles 1.8 and 3.
I arrived late as I was dropping my brother to Fermoy to pick up a car so I only managed a rushed 1 mile warmup. I predicted my finish as 26:00 (a PB of 45 seconds - should be achievable as my PB, 2 weeks ago, was on a hilly course)
We all (about 150 of us) lined up on the footpath and grass embankment along the Marina (quite tight really) and we were off 1 minute after Gerry Forde's wheelchair. As I started on the path, I did not experience too much pushing and shoving in the opening half mile. We ran along the level railway line with the wind at our backs for the first 1.8 miles. I maintained pace with a group of 5 or 6 runners for the first mile but began to fall off the back of the group, first 10 yards, then 20 and 30 - still no one coming up behind me though. At about 1.8 miles (I know this from the route posted on John's Blog) we took a left and headed along the side of the slip road up to Mahon Point shopping centre. This is where the wind took on a significant role in pace setting. I passed a guy who had also fallen out of the group in front (now 50 yards ahead).
As we turned left past Mahon Point and up towards the Skehard Road the heavens opened up. This is where I began to slow noticeably as the road was rising and I was running into a strong headwind with horizontal rain (I had to take off my glasses and hold them - no wipers). I passed a guy who had stopped and was walking - obviously I wasn't the only one suffering (that's always nice to know) still no one passed me.
After the left turn onto the Skehard Road it was down a steep embankment and back onto the relatively sheltered railway line for the last mile. I could here runners close behind. 2 guys passed me in quick succession. I decided to see if I could keep pace with these guys for as long as possible as there was some benefit in drafting off them as the headwind was still noticeable. I didn't think they would hang around for long - I managed 100/150 yards and they began to pull away - 5 yards ahead. However the gap did not increase so I kicked just a bit to keep on the heels of the 2nd guy (these guys were at least 50). He must have heard my heavy breathing as he turned slightly - a bit surprised to see that I was still there. I certainly would not have kept this pace on my own (I had been running in no-mans-land for the best part of 2.5 miles - I wasn't going to loose these guys). While the effort felt tough the fact that I could keep pace with these guys kept me going.
The second guy turned to me with a half mile to go and said something like "fair play to you keep it up. Shoot ahead there, the finish is not far". I replied that it was he who was carrying me home. He may not have heard through the heavy breathing. The other guy was 5 yards ahead at this stage. The two of us ran side by side for the closing stages with me pulling ahead by a couple of yards as we passed the finish line. I think he pulled back a bit and let me, to be quite honest.
There was a clock on the finish that said 02:40:55 as I passed it. I stopped to chat with my finishing partner (Maurice Tobin - M55) afterwards and thanked him for guiding me home. We both thought that we had come in just under 25 minutes (if we ignore the zero on the clock - wishful thinking) He said he had been running 24 years and while his latest marathon was 03:22 (same as my PB) he managed 02:47 in his prime.
I spoke with the time keepers later and was told that the finishing clock was not recording the correct time as finishers would speed up or slow down along the home straight to get as close as they could to their predicted time.
At the prize giving afterwards my work colleague, Tony, came second having come in at 30:29 compared to his prediction of 30:30. Unfortunately for the rest of us we will have to wait until the results are posted on the website (Should be sometime Tuesday afternoon - I'll have to wait that long to see what my 4 mile PB is). I did manage to win a large box of chocolates in the raffle afterwards and picked up a company team prize for the 4 miler two weeks ago - 2nd in class B, whatever that means (my running career is beginning to reap rewards - who'd have thought).
A relatively easy but tiring 11.4 miles in the wind and rain yesterday gave me just under 55 miles for the week (54.8 to be exact)

Sat - 11.4 miles in 01:30:50 (07:53 pace @ 142 HR) Sun 6.5 Miles including 4 mile race (no time, HR or anything)

Postscript:- The results are out - I finished in 25:32 (06:23 Pace) and a new 4 Mile PB.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Some Barefoot Running

I took delivery of these yesterday morning. I ordered them from this website. They cost about €67 ($100 - exchange rate is very good at the moment) including delivery from Utah - although they are made in China.
Apparently they are the nearest you can get to barefoot without wearing nothing. They were recommended by Matt Fitzpatrick in "Brain Training for Runners" - makes sense really - with cushioning on shoes we are not walking or running the way god or 100,000 years of evolution intended.
I though I'd give them a go to see what changes they would impose on my running stride. The only protection they offer is to numb the feeling from sharp objects (stones, twigs, etc.) - you still feel everything.-I tried them on the threadmill yesterday lunchtime (I was that keen) with no ill effects but gave them the acid test this morning over a 5.2 mile recovery type run. I intended to turn back after 1 mile if I felt the slightest hint of a niggle - after all I had never run barefoot on asphalt or concrete (wouldn't dream of it normally).
While it required a bit of skill to match up the toes to their respective "holders" (particularly towards the smaller end of the range) it was worth the wait. It certainly felt a bit strange at first, but as each footfall did not yield pain I soon got into a stride at about 08:30 pace. I certainly could feel every variation/texture change in the road/path surface through the soles. While strange at first I certainly felt closer to my environment. After stretching following the first mile I continued on for a 5.2 mile circuit and even felt I could go longer (20 minutes is initially recommended - actually Matt Fitzgerald recommends to only consider using minimalist shoes when injury is a common problem with normal running shoes).
You will certainly never heel strike in these shoes and survive for long. I did have some tenderness in the ball of my left foot, particularly during the last mile when I upped to pace to about 07:30 mins/mile (I had to find the boundary) however the overall experience was very positive - great to feel the texture of the running surface, splashing through puddles as if I had no shoes on but without the expected discomfort.
My cadence was slightly higher than for my normal runs (88 versus 86 approx) with shorter stride lengths, which I would expect as the tendency would be away from over striding (heel striking). I will include a "barefoot" recovery type run in my weekly schedule and see how it goes.
Yesterday morning I went for a tempo run as part of an 8.6 mile circuit. After a warmup mile I upped to pace to between 06:45 & 07:00 mins/mile for about 4 miles, only stopping as I noticed I had lost my glasses from the pocket in my reflective bib, which was also held my headlamp. I put the glasses in when it began to rain and pulled the headlamp out 3 miles later to cover the dark mile on the straight road - glasses must have popped out when I pulled the headlamp out and i didn't notice due to the relatively hard effort I was maintaining. I doubled back to look for them but after a half an hour walking back and forth with the lamp I could not find them and ran for home covering 9.2 miles on the extended run (a further search in daylight was equally unsuccessful - I wouldn't mind but I only got them a month ago - lucky I got a second pair - my old abandoned pair will come out for my early morning runs in future)
Wed 9.2 Miles in 01:09:33 (07:34 pace @ 143 HR) with 4 miles @ 06:51 pace & 160 HR
Thu 5.2 Miles in 00:42:15 (08:07 pace @ 131HR - Barefoot

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

"Are You F***ing Well"

This was a comment made to me at 0700hrs yesterday as I passed 2 guys at an ATM machine on their way to work and slightly the worst for wear from the night before (from the smell of beer in the air as I passed). They had obviously seen me on previous mornings and though I was mad! Running obviously didn't feature on their list of "things to do before I die". I replied in the affirmative. I was tempted to say a few more words but I would have had to slow my pace. I must say that I gave this some thought as I rose again this morning shortly after 0530 to do a fartlek run - "what am I doing" , "is this it, - squeezing runs into the early hours - is there any time for rest". I was tired so this was my central governor saying let's quit for today (the slippery slope). The fact that Abina went on a short 2 day hop to London yesterday leaving me to manage the household may have contributed to my tiredness, but not a lot. In any event I persevered and went out for an 8.6 mile run in the wind - the same fartlek run as last Thursday - while the sprints felt slower (and they certainly were for the return leg into a headwind) than last week the overall session was only 12 seconds slower - not bad for a tired old body on a windy morning. Another 2.5 miles on the threadmill at lunchtime gave 10.1 miles for the day. Yesterday morning I rose with Abina as she was leaving at 0530 for her flight to London and headed out shortly afterwards for a relatively easy 11.4 mile circuit in towards Cork along the Model Farm Road and out the Straight Road. The unlit section of the straight road caused me some grief as, for some reason, I could not make out the 2' footpath in the darkness as cars approached and I wobbled like a drunk between the kerb and the ditch until headlights briefly illuminated my world before plunging me back into darkness and forcing me to slow my pace. Sun 2.5 Miles - Threadmill (got up too late for longer run) - total of 54.5 Miles for the week. Mon 11.4 Miles in 01:33:16 (08:11 pace @ 132 HR) Tue 8.6 Miles in 01:07:14 (07:49 pace @ 140 HR) & 2.5 Miles @ 08:14 pace & 135 HR

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Here Comes the Rain Again

The Weather Rain is the subject of my post today. Not that I've seen too much of it but it has come back into my runs after an absence of a month or two - which is strange for Ireland in November. Despite what Thomas is experiencing in Kerry (where most of the country's rains falls as the south westerlies coming in off the Atlantic unburden their load on the first landmass they meet) the country has been pretty dry over the last number of months with river and lake levels much lower than usual for this time of the year. The winter rains normally start in early October and aquifers begin to recharge for the winter. Apart from the odd day of frost the temperature has also been fairly mild. Ireland has the quintessential temperate climate - one long season of overcast days with showers and sunny spells. If it's sunny and above 25C for more than two days we call it a heat wave and if it's cold, wet and windy (above 50mph) we have a storm. And we love nothing better than to talk, and generally moan, about the weather. The un-seasonal weather could be put down to “global warming” but experts are divided as to what exactly is happening to the earth’s weather systems and what the likely outcome will be. Our ancestors didn’t have the forewarning of meteorologists & Climatologists afforded to them when the ice age hit some 10,000 years ago. They just said it’s a bit cold around here let’s move south for a few millennia. I can see history beginning to repeat itself with more and more people buying that “house in the sun” and our old and infirm heading to the south of Spain (or Florida) to live out their final days. Sorry didn’t mean to rabbit on for so long about the weather………… Running…………. After Tuesday’s intervals I did an easy 5.2 miles in the rain on Wednesday morning. The rain was light and the temperature mild. While my legs felt fine I had a general overall tiredness as I didn’t get to bed until 0030hrs (I’ll have to stop this blogging lark). Thursday morning saw me heading out for another speedwork session – this time on the roads in the form of a fartlek run. I had intended doing an 11.4 mile loop from the house but I got up too late to get back by the 0700hr curfew and so headed out on a shorter 8.6 mile loop with 5 hard efforts at about 06:00 pace lasting between 2 and 21/2 minutes. While I managed to complete them all (the last one was the shortest and on a downhill) I was glad they were over – still not used to putting that much effort into anything so early in the morning. When I got home at 0700hrs I went to wake Keevsa and Safan for school – a little surprisingly they were both less than responsive - when I went back downstairs I noticed that the time was in fact 0600hrs. Somehow I had risen an hour earlier than I thought – the watch I use for running is still on summer time which I had neglected to notice in my half groggy state when rising. No harm done except that I could have made that 11.4 mile loop with plenty of time to spare. Starting at 0445hrs, this was my earliest run ever (so a new PB of sorts). Friday was another recovery day with 6.7 easy miles in the morning with a bit of rain thrown in. I also threw in a 2.5 mile (4km) threadmill run in the gym after work with 1 km each at 11.5, 12, 12.5 and 13 kph. I recorded the following stats for each km using Adrians super duper watch (still borrowed):- 11.5 kph: 126HR, Cadence 87, Stride length 3'7" 12.0 kph; 137HR, Cadence 89, Stride length 3'9" 12.5 kph: 145HR, Cadence 89, Stride length 3'10" 13.0 kph: 152HR, Cadence 89, Stride length 4'00" While my cadence was steady at 89 for the last 3 km my stride length is what changed to keep with the faster paces. Don’t know what this means but it may have more to do with running on a threadmill than anything else. I notice that both my cadence (99/100) and stride length (4’10”) increased during my interval session on Tuesday. For this mornings long run I was expecting wind and rain as the weather forecast predicted storm conditions coming in from the west as 14m waves were predicted to hit our western shores. So heading out at 0830hrs I was surprised to find calm dry conditions with a little chill in the air. While I felt some drops of rain after mile 1, which prompted the title of this post, it cleared up and the sun even came out for a few miles. I ran into Cork along my usual route (straight road) and along the north quays heading down Patrick Street at 0930hrs (main shopping street) – glad I wasn’t caught up in the Christmas shopping frenzy that was just beginning - before heading out past the University and the Model Farm Road. My pace was fairly even and comfortable throughout and everything felt in working order. I did begin to feel some fatigue towards the end but nothing out of the ordinary. I finished 15.3 miles just under the 2 hours. My average HR of 138 was quite low for the 07:47 pace sending a clear signal that I am at or near pre-marathon fitness or my HR monitor is malfunctioning. I may go for an easy run in the morning to get the weekly mileage up but if the predicted “storm” conditions arrive I may give it a miss – no pressure. Wed...5.2 Miles in 00:43:53 (08:26 Pace @ 132 HR) Thu... 8.6 Miles in 01:07:02 (07:48 pace @ 144 HR) with 5 x 6:00 pace fartleks Fri..... 6.7 Miles in 00:56:29 (08:26 pace @ 132 HR) & 2.5 Miles in 00:19:31 (07:50 pace @ 140 HR) Sat.... 15.3 Miles in )1:59:12 (07:47 pace @ 138 HR)

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Nothing Like a bit of Speed

The results of the 4 miler on Sunday were posted today. My actual time was 26:45 (64th Place). The girl I pipped at the post (4th lady) was not the girl I passed in the 15 mile Cork to Cobh race – she actually came in at 25:34 – first lady home. Yesterday mornings run was an easy recovery run of 6.7 miles following sunday's race. The moon was full and the stars were out on a very mild morning - perfect running weather. 6.7 Miles in 58:03 (08:40 pace @ 125 HR - slowest run in a while) This evening I felt like running intervals as I felt I could have done with some speedwork for Sundays Race and I want to improve my speedwork for other local races coming up over the next month and a half. I also want to run the "Goal Mile" on Christmas Morning and get under 6:00 minutes (I did 06:15 last year). I went to the Eagle AC track session for the first time in a month or two with the intention of doing 800m repeats. I warmed up over a 2 mile loop from the CIT track and when I returned I fell in with a group doing 6 x 1 lap intervals inlane 3 (lane 1/2 closed). Their target pace was 84 seconds per lap (417m - 05:24 pace). During the first lap I felt reasonably comfortable at the pace so I moved out to lane 4 ( one guy was using lane 5 or 6). The recovery between laps was a full lap at a slow jog/walk (3 minutes approx) which got my heart rate down to 120 or below before the next fast lap. The 6 laps went as follows:- 1:23 @ 154 HR 1:24 @ 160 HR 1:23 @ 159 HR 1:23 @ 162 HR 1:24 @ 161 HR 1:22 @ 166 HR (gave a little more effort with guy in Lane 5 - thought I'd be a little faster) While the effort was hard I was reasonably comfortable always with a little left in the tank to maintain speed and form over the last 50m. I cooled down over 2.1 miles to give a total of 6.95 miles for the session (speed varied from about 05:20 to 15:00 minutes/mile). If I could maintain 05:40 pace over 4 laps on Christmas morning I would be very happy (It all depends on when Santa Clause comes and more importantly when his presence is discovered!!! - or should that be presents.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Inniscarra 4 Mile Road Race

I started this post on saturday 24th November but completed it today (25th) - hence the post date of 24th.

I ended the week with a four mile road race this morning over a hilly course not far from my home. I had no watch or HR monitor so it was going to be very much by feel.

From the course description I got from John's blog below, and the fact that most of my running over the last few months has been of the long endurance type, I knew it was not going to be easy -

This is a hilly 4 mile course. You can forget about fast times, there are too many hills for that. However, despite the hills, the course is run on nice quiet country roads and it's a nice spot for a race.
The race itself starts down the road from the GAA grounds. Initially, you run downhill but soon, you turn off left and then there is a nasty drag uphill. Soon it eases off and then you are running on nice quiet roads.
Around the 2 mile mark, you come to the small village of Berrings. You turn left here at the church and you have another uphill section. It's not so severe but enough to put you into oxygen debt if you push too hard. After that, you're on flat or downhill sections.
Just in case you thought you were getting off lightly, the 3rd hill of note comes at the finish. In the last few hundred metres, you drop downhill and then you have to run about 200m up to the finish line which is just outside the GAA grounds.
As I said, forget about fast times but don't let the hills put you off

I met with Brendan from work before the race and ran a 2 mile warmup with him. There were about 150 to 200 runners lined up at the downhill start with everyone taking off at a good pace - that’s the last time I saw Brendan until after the race. A left turn after a quarter of a mile saw the road rise in front of us. Over this section a lot of the enthuastic starters began to drag their feet a little as they huffed and puffed their way up the hill, me included, even though I passed quite a few. As the road leveled out everyone settled into their own pace.
I spotted a girl in a red top about 10 yards in front. I was certain I passed the same girl at the 13 mile mark in the 15 mile Cork to Cobh race at the end of September. I thought that if I kept on her back I wouldn't go far wrong. Unfortunately as the first mile settled into the second she appeared to be pulling further away and I didn't have the energy to give chase - my brain had already decided to give up the ghost in relation to that particular goal. I knew I had over half the race left with more hills to come - better ensure I finish without fading - anyway she may be a fast starter and fade towards the end. I was passed by four or five runners between mile one and two as I maintained a fairly even pace - I didn't feel particularly strong over this section.
After mile 2 there was a left turn that took us up a short steepish hill and reduced me to a slow pace- I kept the leg turnover the same with little baby steps - I still managed to pass one guy on this section. The downhill/flat section to mile 3.5 felt reasonably good and for the first time I felt that my pace had increased and I felt a bit stronger. As the road had straightened out a bit I saw the girl in the red top about 100 yards ahead. "Still too much effort to give chase" although I was keeping pace with those in front of me.
We took a left turn at mile 3.5 (approx) along a slight incline/flat section and I noticed that the gap to the "red top girl" had reduced to 50 or 60 yards as runners in front of me gained on her and passed her out. "her pace must have slowed - she's fading". I knew then that I would catch her before the finish. As I slowly gained on her (she hadn't faded as much as I thought - or else I was also fading) I could hear the slap-slap of shoes hitting tarmac behind me and pretty soon I was overtaken by a guy - he looked like he knew what he was doing i.e. he was wearing real running gear so I was not too upset - anyway my mind was focused on catching the girl and the pace I was at was enough for me until I could see the finish line.
With 500 yards to go the road dipped down before rising steeply over a short section and then the run into the finish. At the bottom of the dip I came level with the girl and saw the finish line,
which spurred me on as I surged up the hill past her and crossed the line in about 26:48 (06:42 pace) just behind the guy who had passed me. Over the last 20 yards there were loud cheers as the announcer said " lets give a hand for the fifth woman home".
As I walked along the finishing chute the woman's husband came up with baby in hand saying
"here's mummy didn't she do great - well done mummy". For some reason my victory felt hollow as if I had deprived this child’s mother of her rightful place.
All in all I was happy with my time given the hilly course - I had just knocked over 4 minutes off my 4 mile PB of 31:09 set three weeks ago. (I know it was a very soft target). There is a 4 mile turkey trot on 9th December over a flat course so I hope to improve on this again - maybe get under 26 minutes if things go my way.
Brendan came in in 25:05 (23rd overall - I think I was in 41st Position), which is a very good time. Another colleaghue, Tony, came home in 30:something which means we would score in the team results. A two mile warm down with Brendan gave me 8 miles for the day.
Yesterdays run of 13.75 Miles was my longest since Dublin. While the start of the run felt sluggish I perked up after 5 miles. Running out the Model Farm Road (mile 9) I noticed how very comfortable I had become, gliding along effortlessly at about 8 minute mile pace, I couldn't feel the remotest sign of stress anywhere on my body, nothing. I could have been sitting on a chair at home, I felt so comfortable. By mile 11 or 12 this feeling began to dissipate as I began to feel the usual stiffness in my legs, still nothing out of the ordinary but that effortless feeling was gone. I finished in just under 1hr & 50 minutes (8 minute pace).

This week saw me top the 50 miles mark for the first time since the marathon (53.75 Miles), The only day I took off was Thursday (went for a swim instead). My heart rates are still higher than I would expect so marathon recovery is still ongoing.

Mon 6.7 Miles in 00:54:30 (08:08 Pace no HR) + 2.5 Miles in 19:46 (07:57 pace no HR)
Tue 7.7 Miles in 00:56:57 (07:24 Pace @ 157 HR)
Wed 5.9 Miles in 00:45:57 (07:47 Pace @ 147 HR)
Fri 6.7 Miles in 00:51:33 (07:42 Pace @ 146HR) + 2.5 Miles in 19:57 (07:59 Pace @ 137 HR)
Sat 13.8 Miles in 01:49:44 (07:59 Pace @ 141 HR)
Sun 8.0 Miles approx with 4 Miles in 26:48 (06:42 Pace)

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Harder Effort

I read and heard somewhere before that leaning forward when you run, especially for heel strikers, improves your stride and essentially makes you faster. I tried it before, a few strides at a time but found it uncomfortable. I tried it this evening on a 7.7 mile run as it is a technique (falling forward) for improving stride advocated in the book I am currently reading. The run was essentially the same 6.7 mile loop I ran most days last week with a 1 mile diversion on the return leg. I wore tights, long sleeved top, woolly hat and gloves as it was colder than usual - this warmed me up more than usual. While leaning/falling forward certainly increased my pace I wasn't all that sure it was improving my stride and it certainly wasn't improving my economy as my heart rate had risen to match the pace. At times it felt uncomfortable, like the pace was controlling me - I felt like a runaway train. Perhaps it is something I could get used to. While I had no specific reason to run at a faster pace I maintained a steady effort throughout finishing in 56:57 (07:24 Pace @ 157 HR) HR still higher than it would have been a month ago before the marathon.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Another week down

Its been 8 days since I last posted, which is unusual for me. This is primarily due to the fact that nothing much has happened in the intervening period, I have had to compete with my daughters in the evening for internet time, been busy at work and our broadband connection has let me down on a number of occasions.
The week before last I went a bit wild on Amazon and ordered no less than three running related books. The first one to arrive was "Lore of Running" by Tim Noakes which appears to be the bible for running (nearly 1,000 pages). This will keep me going for quite a while I thought as I got stuck in.
Book 2 arrived a few days later "Brain Training for Runners" by Matt Fitzgerald which I first saw mention of on Mikes blog at the start of the month. As the forward was by Tim Noakes I couldn't help myself and got stuck in and have now temporarily dropped book 1 (until I finish book 2). Book 2 appears to advocate a totally different approach to training than anything I have seen previously. It is based on the premise that the Brain essentially controls everything related to running. From what I can gather so far the general training principle is to move your weekly quality training runs towards your target race pace and distance - if you want to run x miles at y pace there is nothing better than getting the body used to it. The training programmes start out with shorter and faster weekly quality speed sessions gradually easing the pace and increasing the distance towards race pace & distance and likewise starting the long runs at a slower pace and longer distance and gradually increasing the pace and reducing the distance towards race pace (except for marathons I would imagine). The 24 week marathon schedule has tune-up races scheduled for week 12 (5k), 16 (10k) and 20 (21.1k) gradually building towards the marathon - This would fit in very nicely with my build up to the Cork Marathon in early June 2008. as there should be a local half marathon in early May and a 10k in early April (as for 2007) All I have to do is find a 5k in early March.
I was so engrossed in Book 2 that I forgot the title of the third book I ordered until it came in today "Chi Running" by Danny Dreyer. Don't know when I will get around to reading it.
All this reading will do nothing for my running unless I get out and hit the road. My third week of recovery saw me complete just under 36 miles for no particular reason other than I didn't get around to running more. No rush. All my runs were relatively short with 6.6/6.7/6.7 mile runs on monday, tuesday and wednesday. Thursday I took a break and went for a lunchtime swim - 1,500m and no fatigue which I would have expected as I have not covered 60 lengths for 3 or 4 months. Friday was also running free, even missed the scheduled lunchtime cycle with Adrian. You can see where this is going - Triathalon around the corner somewhere.
My "long" run on saturday was cut short to 9.05 miles in the park so that I could get a 23 mile cycle in with Arian after without upsetting the domestic harmony that is my house on a saturday (shopping, kids swimming/horse riding lessons, even took in a cultural night at the theater with a drink after). Running in the park was a welcome diversion from the hard impact of the road and associated traffic. Yesterdays run was a return to the 6.7 mile circuit of earlier in the week due to time constraints. My legs are fully recovered at this stage and I could afford to break the mould and get in a decent medium long run - if I had the time.
Mon 6.6 miles in 00:51:15 (07:46 pace @ 144 HR)
Tue 6.7 Miles in 00:56:30 (08:26 pace @ 136 HR)
Wed 6.7 Miles in 00:51:30 (07:41 pace @ 149 HR)
Sat 9.05 Miles in 01:09:39 (07:42 pace @ 150 HR)
Sun 6.7 miles in 00:53:30 (07:59 pace no watch or HR - time approx)
I complete the same 6.7 mile loop this morning in 00:54:30 (08:08 pace no watch or HR - time approx) and a further 2.5 miles in the gym after work to give a total of 9.2 miles for the day.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Recovery Week

I completed 29.1 recovery miles this week and all the signs are good so far.
  • Tue: 5.0 miles in 00:44:36 - 08:55 pace @ 129 HR
  • Thu: 6.7 miles in 00:56:26 - 08:25 pace @ 142 HR
  • Fri: 6.0 miles in 00:48:58 - 08:10 pace @ 132 HR
  • Sat:11.4 miles in 01:27:44 - 07:42 pace @ 149 HR

Tuesdays run was with Adrian who hadn't run since the Cork Marathon in June - pace suited me fine as my right calf was still tender.

Fridays run was in the park at lunchtime with with Brendan at work. It felt good to run on grass for a change. It is too dark in the morning and evening to head to the park.

This mornings run felt good. While I can't say it was easy it certainly was comfortable and there were no aches and pains in my legs - the first real sign of recovery.

This is the 2nd of 4 recovery weeks that will get me back to a base of at least 50 miles per week before I decide on my next medium term target.

I had thought of going back to the Barcelona marathon in March, with the whole family this time but Abina is lukewarm about the idea. Apparently it is a dangerous place - Adrian and I are the only people she knows that went to Barcelona and didn't get robbed or pick pocketed. My experience last year was totally different - irrational fears are the most difficult to dispel.

Alternatively I thought about leaving the Marathon until Cork in June and going for the Edinburgh half marathon in early March as there appears to be a group travelling to it from Cork and I may join them. Or I may do something completely different. Decisions, Decisions - plenty of time to make them.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

2nd PB in less than a week

Not only did I get 2 PB's within a week but also on consecutive runs. Sounds great until I say that I ran my first 4 mile race today - so as long as I finished I was guaranteed a PB. This was my first run after the Dublin Marathon so I took it fairly easy. I just thought it would be easier to run in the company of others - and so it was.
I cycled the 8 miles to the race start with Adrian (who continued on cycling - his new passion) and signed up for the first of 3 local Business Houses Athletic Association 4 mile road races. As the company I work for had recently signed up and this was the first time we were fielding a full team (3 in all - Brendan, Tony and I) I was kinda under very slight pressure to turn up (Tony had told me that it wouldn't be very difficult to get on the bottom rungs of the team ladder - had to start somewhere)
I started at the back of the pack of about 300 runners as my only aim was to finish without pulling one of a number of tight leg muscles. I soon found a rhythm at about 8 minute pace and ran alongside John Quigley whom I know from Eagle AC (founder I think). He had competed in a cross-country masters championship the day before and was running easy - suited me perfectly. The first mile split was 08:00 - legs felt ok but I knew not to push the pace.
John had been supporting in Dublin and commented that I had probably not seen him at the 24 mile mark as I appeared to be suffering a bit - I said that, while I had spotted him at 10 miles by mile 24 I wouldn't have spotted an elephant in front of me.
Mile 2 in 07:52 - pace still ok. Although I could feel tenderness in various places it was not uncomfortable. We passed a few runners who had started out a bit more enthusiastic than their 4 mile capability, but we remained closer to the back of the pack.
Mile 3 in 07:56 - heading for under 32 minutes for a soft 4 mile PB. Over the last mile the pace increased slightly and as we came to within 400m of the line John said I could "go for it" if I wanted to - I declined - this would be just the sort of stunt that could cause a serious injury and would lay me up for weeks and for what? - there was no glory to be had in beating 31 minutes. We came in under the clock in 31:09 (07:47 pace) well behind our best but an enjoyable run all the same. While I completed the run without too much drama it did highlight a number of tender areas that are not 100% after Dublin (left hamstring and right calf in particular). I will take it easy over the coming week and ease back gradually.
My 4 mile PB pace is slightly slower that my marathon PB pace of 07:43 - with 2 further 4 milers over the next 6 weeks I should have that anomaly resolved by Christmas .
Brendan finished in a very good time of 24:30 (06:07 pace) and Tony came in under 30:00 (sub-07:30 pace). I hope my third place finish gets us on the team results (we'll see)
John had told me about the death of Ryan Shay at the US Marathon trails in New York yesterday - we both couldn't believe that this could happen to an elite runner especially so early in the race (5.5 miles). We were stunned - don't know what to say other than our hearts go out to his wife and family.
On a positive note I sat back and watched the NYC Marathon in the afternoon. It was thoroughly enjoyable and nail biting to watch Paula Radcliffe battle it out with Geta Wami for the women's title and Martin Lel take the Men's title in similar fashion. I have been reading Paula's autobiography over the last few days (full of highs and lows - as with most of our own modest running careers) The title is "My Story So Far". Obviously the story is far from over as she heads into the Beijing Olympics as one of the best women's marathoners of all time.
Sun - 4 miles in 31:09 (HR @ 148)
Mile 1 in 08:00 (139 HR)
Mile 2 in 07:52 (144 HR)
Mile 3 in 07:56 (151 HR)
Mile 4 in 07:21 (161 HR)
The higher than normal HR shows recovery is ongoing. RHR this morning was 43, down from 46 on wednesday.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Last Marathon Post

The photos are finally out. I wore a bandanna as a sweat band but took it off after 2 miles. I put it on again at mile 16 as the sun came out - I probably should have left it off as it may have contributed to overheating towards the end. I was not kidding when I said that I stopped dead in front of the finish line, that is why there is so many finishing shots of me. It looks like I was reluctant to cross the line. What you can't see is the total body trauma going on underneath.

My final thought on my total breakdown at the end is that it may have been partly be due to lack of fuel (carbs) as opposed to dehydration because after crossing the finish line I had a huge craving for sugary and salty foods, sending Adrian to the shop for snickers, mars bars and potato chips - I had no real thirst. I certainly would have taken on more carbs during the run had Adrian not lost me between miles 8 and 21. By the time he gave me my second drink it was probably too late in terms of fueling for the race as I was 45 minutes from the finish and already beginning to suffer.
While I had a positive split of about 8 minutes I was not the only one to fade in the second half. A guy dressed as superman, who passed me at the start line, was reduced to walking when I passed him just after the 20 mile mark. Being beaten by superman would have been the final insult. My fellow club runner, Laurence Courtney, who was 4 seconds behind me at the half way mark came in in 3:37:12 (clock time) - 15 minutes after me. However there also were those that improved their time over the second half. One guy in particular, who crossed the halfway mark 17 seconds after me finished in a time of 3:09:02 (beating me by 13 minutes) - I want to be that guy. Certainly if I had headed out at a more conservative pace I would have felt better in the last few miles and would have had a better chance of coming in under 3:20.
Finally I would like to thank all those of you out there who offered me words of encouragement and advice throughout my training and who's running blogs offered an insight into your training/running lives giving me food for thought as to how things should (and should not) be done when it comes to training for a marathon or indeed any other distance. I certainly have been encouraged by the warmth and generosity I have seen out there in the running blogsphere since I began posting in July and despite the misgivings some may have as to the perils of the Internet I believe that ,on balance, it is a very powerful communication tool that promotes peace, harmony and tolerance among the various communities and cultures that share this planet.

My aches and pains have given way to general aches and pains as a cold has taken hold of me over the last few days. I felt something coming on Sunday night with a sandpaper feeling in the back of my throat - glad it didn't affect me on Monday. With the cold it is difficult to gauge how well my recovery is going. However my resting heart rate was 146 on Wednesday morning and 144 yesterday morning - so at least it is coming down towards normal levels (low 140's/high 130's). My first recovery run will be delayed as I battle with this cold - i'm not complaining. There is a 4 mile race on Sunday that I may run in recovery mode.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007


My clock and chip time for the Dublin City Marathon were posted as the same at 03:22:08. While I was close to the start line this suggests that I was alongside the elites when in fact it took me at least 10 to 15 seconds to cross the line after the gun went off. The winner, Aleksey Solokov of Russia (course record of 02:09:07), even had a 1 second gap between gun time and chip time - I don't remember him passing me out at the start.
As I was so "out of it" at the finish I did not stop my watch until it read 03:32:26. The lap button was also pressed at 03:23:15 for some strange reason, over a minute after I had finished. So, while I probably beat 03:22 by a few seconds my new Marathon PB stands at 03:22:08 - 03:31 minutes off my PB of four months ago. My watch time for the halfway mark of 01:36:45 compared to a gun time of 01:37:00 suggests a chip time 15 seconds less than clock time (i.e. 03:21:53)
While I may have some explanations as to why my performance was below expectations (injury over last three weeks, no real speedwork completed as a result etc.) I cannot explain why I blew up in such a spectacular way over the last few miles - I certainly should have seen it coming with the steady rise in my heart rate and should have slowed down to compensate.
Of my three previous marathons, my first in Dublin last year was the only other marathon in which I faded towards the end of the race - but this was more as a result of glycogen depletion and build up of lactic acid in my muscles, hitting the wall so to speak, as opposed to what happened to me yesterday. In addition last year, while my HR went into the low 170's in the middle of the race it was 164/165 over the last few miles (when my legs as opposed to my heart was dictating pace). Certainly my heart was dictating pace yesterday.
My last marathon in Cork in June was the most evenly paced with the second half run 17 seconds faster that the first half - therefore the 07:51 average pace was manageable for 26.22 miles, albeit more difficult to maintain towards the end. So given my training for Dublin the first half pace of 07:24 should have been reasonably manageable to maintain throughout with my endurance training carrying me through. My lack of specific speedwork training resulting from my calf strain may certainly explain some of the drop off in pace towards the end but I'm still at a loss as to why I felt so bad. Ewen suggested that I may have been dehydrated although I took on plenty of fluids throughout the race - maybe I didn't take on enough - I don't know. I certainly took on more fluids than I did in my last marathon in Cork when it was much warmer (water stop organisation was a bit of a disaster).
After yesterday I began questioning whether I should stick to shorter races and not put myself through that again, I obviously did not have the sense to slow down and keep my HR below 170. I shudder to think what would have happened if I was further from the finish line when I began to blow up - I'd have probably collapsed. People collapse every year on marathon courses but I always thought that was due to lack of sufficient training for the pace they were running at. My recent result in the Cork to Cobh 15 mile race suggested a 03:07:31 marathon when entered in the McMillian Running Calculator so running at 03:14 pace for the first half of the marathon should not have unduly stressed me. Even allowing for some drop off in pace in the second half I should have come in comfortably under 03:20. If I had maintained 8 minute mile pace from mile 20 I would have come in @ 03:19:10. I was still on target at mile 24 - therefore I conclude my blow up cost me about 3 minutes and the reason I didn't get closer to 03:15 was due to lack of training over the last month, particularly on speedwork, which would help me maintain pace towards the end by converting those fast twitch muscle fibres to the slow twitch variety.
Enough said. Time for recovery. My legs were quite stiff today, all the usual expected aches and pains but noting unusual and no sign of my calf strain. I probably won't attempt a recovery run for a few more days.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Dublin City Marathon - very mixed feelings

11,000 turned out on a fine sunny (and windy - as I later found out) Dublin morning to take part in the Dublin City Marathon. Over half the field came from overseas with over 2,000 form the UK, 1,000+ from Canada and the US and another few thousand from various European countries (France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Russia etc).

Adrian (my cycling support and replacement drink holder) and I stayed with my brother in Dunlaoighre (7 miles form the city centre) the night before and arrived at the start area in plenty of time. I left Adrian a map and a range of expected times (varied from 07:20 to 08:00 paces) I would be at various locations on the course.

I headed for the start-line early to make sure I got a reasonably good position. Race numbers were coloured green (4 hrs plus) and white (sub-4 hrs). An error in booking on-line saw me with a green number. As I wore an old sweater to keep me warm before the race it obscured my number and as I approached the gates I kept my head down and made my way towards the (sub- 4hrs pen) The marshals were calling "white numbers to the left and green numbers to the right" and were inspecting as many numbers as they could - but I managed to give them the slip - first hurdle over with. As I was early (50 minutes before mens start) I was quite close to the front and managed to see the elite women head off at 0845, the trikes (2 in all) at 0850 and the wheelchairs at 0855. The elite men and the rest of the field headed off at 0910.

I crossed the start line and while there was a bit of jostling for position I couldn't have asked for a better start give the size of the field. The start area was moved to Fitzwilliam Square from last years position to accomodate the larger field.

We headed off along Fitzwillian Sq, Merrion Sq, Holles St and Prease St and crossed the River Liffey onto O'Connel St past the Spire. I missed the first mile marker but clocked 15:37 when passing the second mile at Dorset Street Upper

"so far so good marginally over 07:30 pace. The first mile was probably closer to 08:00".

We headed along the North Circular Road towards the Phoenix Park. The 3rd and 4th miles came in 07:31 and 07:15. My legs felt fine and no sign of a problem with my left calf which I strained 2 weeks ago.

We headed into the Phoenix Park past Dublin Zoo. My pace was steady and the effort was manageable (Average HR for the first five miles was (152, 152, 164, 165, 164). Miles 5 and 6 through the park went by in 07:11 and 07:30. I met Adrian at Mile 5 and he cycled along beside me for a mile before the road narrowed. He turned up again at Mile 8 as I exited the park. Miles 7 and 8 in 07:07 and 06:45 (downhill) - I certainly paid for these fast miles later. I was running alongside three girls through the park but they surged ahead during the 8th downhill mile - I wasn't going with them as I was saving my energy for later - the 06:45 mile said differently.

I didn't generally run with anyone for long periods happy to run at my own pace which I was used to in training. As I was not heading for a podium finish I saw no benefit in racing those around me and concentrated on my target pace. However I tried to get in with a group of runners when battling headwinds. The course took us through the suburbs of Chapelizod, Inchicore and Dolphins Barn where there was plenty of support and cheering. Miles 9, 10 and 11 went by in 07:37 (steep uphill on a road underpass), 07:19 and 07:15. My legs still felt reasonably fresh and no niggles were evident - I was enjoying the run. No sign of Adrian though - maybe I didn't spot him although he had planned on cycling alongside me from about mile 11 until as close to the finish as possible.

At the 10 mile make I came alongside a fellow runner from Eagle AC, Laurence Courtney. I had seen him 100 yards ahead of me from mile 5 - took me 5 miles in chase him down (well not really as I was running to my pace). We chatted for awhile about our targets (Mine sub 3:20 his "as good a time as he can" - not revealing much) and ran together for a mile or two. I went ahead of him just before the halfway mark and didn't see him again.

Mile 11, 12 and 13 are out along the Crumlin Road which, like last year, had a strong headwind blowing. I took every opportunity to draft off other runners as the wind was quite strong at times.

The course turned off the Crumlin Road onto Walkinstown Avenue past the half-way mark. The clock struck 01:37 even as I crossed over the timing mat.
"On target for 03:14 If I have even splits" I doubted, even at this stage, if 03:14 was a realistic target. Maybe 3:15 (my "best" target) but certainly sub 3:20 which is my primary target (BQ).
All my systems were still working well although I was beginning to feel some fatigue.
Miles 14 to 18 took me along the southern suburbs of Kimmage, Templeogue, Terenure, Rathgar and Milltown. The sun was shining strongly now and I kept to shade where possible. No sign of Adrian -
"Where has he gone, did he get a puncture, he has my spare carb drink - I better take on more water at the drink stations"
Some runners were passing me along this section as my pace dropped slightly. Miles 14 to 18 went by in 07:37, 07:28, 22:30 (07:30 avg for miles 16 to 18).
"While above 03:14 target (07:24 pace) they were all within 03:20 range (07:38 pace)

From Milltown we turned onto the Clonskeagh Road and Roebuck Road which saw a slight incline give way to a shorter but steeper incline towards Mile 20 at Fosters Avenue. Along this section I began to noticeably fade recording 15:54 for the 2 miles (07:57 average with an average HR of 171 BPM). My HR was above what I wanted it to be - I was trying to keep it below 170. The clock at the 20 miles mark was about half a minute under 2:30 when I passed under it.

"10 minutes+ under the 08:00 minute pace of 2:40 for 20 miles - which means if I average 08:00 pace to the finish I will come in just under 03:20 - 10 minutes below the 08:00 minute pace of 3:30"

Once the inclines were out of the way it was downhill or flat to the finish so I had anticipated faster paces. However I passed the 21 mile mark on the Stillorgan Road in 08:06 (168 avg HR) - At least I met Adrian with my drinks bottle he had lost me and initially thought I was nearer the finish - I don't know how we missed each other as he stayed at the halfway mark from 01:30 to 01:40.

The effort to keep the pace was now very hard to maintain - however the 22nd mile passed in 07:39 (170 avg HR) dividends from Adrian's reappearance perhaps - maybe I could keep it together until the end. Mile 23 on the Merrion Road passed in 07:58 - strong headwinds from mile 22.5 to 25 were not helping my exhausted body. I wasn't speaking to Adrian much and any words of encouragement were falling on deaf ears. I kept telling him to slow down as my HR was too high and I needed to get it under 170. Mile 24 on the Shelbourne Road came in 08:16 (175 avg HR) the stress was becoming unsustainable.

At the humped back bridge over the Grand Canal before the 25 mile mark I stopped - the effort of going over the hump was too much and my body took over and stopped dead - I called after Adrian to stop and proceeded to walk over the bridge. Somehow I managed to recommence running - my legs weren't actually that bad. I missed the split at the 25 mile mark but I could see the finish line tantalising close (about 400m away to the left) but the course took you away from it for another mile and a bit around Trinity College - the final kick in the teeth.

The crowds cheering were unbelievable, but I didn't care - it was one foot in front of the other as I made my way down Pearse Street in front of Trinity College Gates and back up Nassau Street towards the finish line at Merrion Square - I was progressively slowing down as numerous runners passed me by - "you're nearly there" spectators shouted but no words of encouragement could spur me on. In fact I was slowing further and even beginning to wobble a bit. I took the clock at the end of Nassau Street to be the 26 miles mark - it read 3;20:something as I passed it - The split for miles 25 & 26 read 18:52 (09:26 average & 177 HR) I turned the corner and saw the finish line - I still could only manage a wobble as it took me nearly another 2 minutes to cross the finish line. My body actually stopped a few feet short as the clock past 03:22 - given up the ghost - and it took some effort to walk over the line and lean on a barrier - I could go no further - my hands were tingling and I felt light headed - scary stuff.

It took me another 20 minutes to collect my medal, goodie bag and rest up until I could make my way to the Physio tent. Those Physio's are a godsend. I have to go now as my daughter Safan is fighting to get on the computer. My thoughts on my run and why it went so horribly wrong will have to wait. While the time was disappointing the disastrous finish is very worrying and cause for concern. Adrian told me afterwards my face was snow white and my lips purple - seems like my body was beginning to shut down.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Final Countdown

Less than two days remaining to the Dublin City Marathon. Nothing to do now except wait. I went back to the Physio yesterday for a final session. The tenderness in my Soleus had certainly subsided since Tuesdays visit, a few muscle fibres at the core were still sore when the physio worked over them - overall though the improvement was noticeable. The alternate hot bath and ice pack certainly helped. I went to the gym for an easy run after work with the intention of covering about 4 miles to test drive my legs after the long rest - I was beginning to think that I had never run and it was all a dream. I warmed up for a mile @ 11.5 kph (08:24 pace) stretched and continued on @ 12 kph (08:03 pace). While my legs felt fine I noticed that my heart rate was 154/155 which is waaaay too high for that pace. I put it down to the higher temperature in the gym and decided to cut the run short at 3 miles - no point in taking a risk. I ran a 5.2 mile loop this morning just to get some outside air in my lungs and real road under my feet. I took it reasonably easy - about 8 minute pace, which I increased towards 07:30 pace over the final two miles. I can't say the run felt easy though and again noticed my heart rate about 10 beats higher than expected with a finishing HR of 158. On the plus side my calf didn't trouble me at all. My elevated heart rate is a concern heading into Mondays race - I'll certainly want to take it easy over the opening miles and ensure I don't head into the anaerobic zone. I think this is what happened to me last year when I began to tire before the half-way stage, struggle at 20 miles and endure the last four miles with terrible pain (lactic acid) building in my calves - those were the worst four miles I have ever run and ever want to run. I was so out of it I didn't notice anything going on around me. It was a relief to get over the finish line - it was only 20 minutes after I finished (my first marathon) that I took any joy out of my achievement - not the way I wanted to finish my first marathon.
I did the opposite of this in my second marathon in Barcelona on the 4th March this year where I headed out at a relatively conservative pace and enjoyed every minute of the the 26.22 miles, taking in all the sights on a beautiful sunny day and managed to cut 13 minutes off my Dublin time. I only felt some pain about 2 km from the end. I crossed the finish line on a high and felt like kissing the ground and crying - running brings out some strange emotions. This was the best run I have ever had - I wouldn't mind experiencing this "runners high" on Monday. Unfortunately I haven't yet found the key to providing it on demand.
I'll travel to Dublin tomorrow, pick up my race bib at the expo and stay with my brother in Dun-Laoighre tomorrow night. Adrian, my ex running partner has decided to provide support by cycling some of the course with me and providing drinks as required. The jury's still out as to whether this will be of benefit or not - as long as he doesn't expect me to be chatting away we should get on ok. Todays run saw a new weekly record of 8.2 miles as follows:- Fri 3.0 Miles in 24:27 (08:09 pace @ 145 HR) Sat 5.2 Miles in 40:41 (07:49 pace @ 146 HR)

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Calf Strain

....or Soleus muscle strain to be exact.
My injury a few weeks least I now know it is an injury...was a strain on my Soleus muscle. I checked it out on the web and understand that there are three types or severity of strain, ranging from grade 1 (minor) to grade 3 (rupture). I have got a grade 1 strain as there are no apparent tears in the musccle, or so my physio says and I have/had no difficulty walking. Grade 1 strain usually requires 2 weeks it all depends on when I started recovery as opposed to when the injury first manifested itself.
Needless to say I have not run since my "reckless" interval session last Thursday (recklessness appears to be the order of the day recently in running blogland) other than a brief 10 minute session on the threadmill this morning in order to get some feedback before physio - the feedback is that I can still feel tenderness in the muscle, My physio gave it a good going over....warming, stretching, kneading, hurting all to increase the bloodflow and accelerate recovery. The obvious advice for the Marathon next Monday is that if it begins to hurt stop and pull out... I have only 1 pair of legs as opposed to plenty of races to run.
I am still optimistic about running on Monday. However no matter how good I feel at the start I feel I might be playing the waiting game.....will it be Mile 7 or mile 12 or will I last until mile 19 or 22 before my Soleus tell commands me!!!. Hopefully it will be the extrapolated mile 28.
Stretching, strengthening and a bit of hot/cold therapy is the order of the day. I have another Physio session on Friday which will inform me more. Until then..............

Thursday, 18 October 2007

The Hard Way

My dad used always tell me when I was young that there was and easy and hard way to do things - the lesson being that I tended to choose the hard way. This attitude appears to have transferred to my running - I'd rather test myself to near destruction to get feedback on my fitness as opposed to waiting until race day when I really need to pull out all the stops. After Sunday's poor run I took things easy. My calves felt fine Monday and Tuesday. I went to the track on Tuesday evening with the intention of doing an easy warmup and if that went ok to ease up the pace - if there was any sign of tightness I would ease off the gas and revert to gentle running. The warmup mile went fine, no niggles - so I eased up the pace and went for interval pace (06:00 to 06:10 min/mile) I completed 1 lap in lane 3 (416m in 1;32 = 05:56 pace) but eased off as I felt the onset of tightness in my left calf - certainly an improvement since Sunday but more to go. I eased back into an easy pace and completed 5 miles in total. The most discomfort I had came from heartburn ( I had a large lunch and big dessert in the middle of the day, something I'm not used to - I'd want to get my diet sorted in the run up to the marathon) This evening I decided to give one final go at an interval session, if the legs were up to it, still 11 days out from the marathon so recovery should not be an issue. I decided to stay away from the track because if I had to revert to easy running i'd prefer to run on the road. I intended to run a loop of 11.4 miles with some fast intervals/fartleks, calves permitting. I wouldn't have the track to guide my pace but I didn't mind. I warmed up over a mile and stretched, no problems. I continued at a reasonably brisk pace covering another 2 plus miles before reaching the straight road where I would commence the fast legs. I felt like one of those energetic puppies released from its lead - full of energy and rearing to go - my pace was certainly under 08:00 mins/mile. Unfortunately I was soon to discover that I shared some other traits prevalent in young canines - no sense. I eased up the pace to interval speed over a set distance (measured on Google Earth later). The pace was hard but comfortable and there was no trouble with my calves - I did fell a slight tightness when I eased up towards the end and thought of completing the remainder of the run at an easy pace - the interval measured 1,320m in 05:03 (6:10 pace - right on target). I jogged on for another 500m or so, until the lure of speed came back to me and I went for another shorter interval - again the pace was hard but comfortable and I was aware of a slight tightness in my right calf - "better not risk it - this is my last interval". As I approached the end - 20 m to go - the tightness got worst and I eased up and stretched. The second interval measured 920m in 03:32 (06:12 pace). The tightness in my left calf did not ease so I did a u-turn and headed for home - "Should have went to the track - at least I could have stopped and went home". The pace certainly was much slower on the return leg and my left calf is fairly stiff as I write this post. In a weird sort of way I am happy I did the run as I got my need for feedback on my performance out of the way and I can now recover over the next 11 days - no more recklessness, I promise. Tue - 5.05 Miles in 41:36 (08:14 pace @ 131 HR) with 0.26 miles @ 05:56 Thur - 10.4 Miles in 1:22:19 (07:55 pace @ 144 HR) Out in 07:11 pace & back in 08:38 pace)