Sunday, 30 September 2007

Cork to Cobh 15 Miler - PB's All Over the Place.

I rose at 0720 this morning to get some breakfast in and digested before the 0930 start of the Cork to Cobh 15 miler. I felt a tad tired as I was at a neighbour's 40th birthday party last night - although I got home reasonably early (0030 hrs) compared to Abina, who toddled in the door close to 0500hrs. Coincidence or what, but this guy's next door neighbour celebrated her 40th this time last year, the night before my first Cork to Cobh. I'm beginning to feel like Cinderella leaving the ball just when it's hotting up. A well meaning neighbour asked me last night would I not have another drink..."do you have to run tomorrow". I replied that I had done more training for the run than for drinking and would celebrate the art of drinking another time. After dressing in my "go fast" running gear, preparing my carb drink, runningbelt, HR monitor, watch etc.etc.; I got out the door at 0810. It took me only 15 minutes to reach the race start area where I parked the car and proceeded to register for the race. I met my friend "Puds" (Don't know why he's called that - his name is Liam) whose wife Helena was also running. Puds, a semi-elite cyclist, is also a sub-3 hour marathoner (achieved on his 2nd attempt in Dublin last year). I left my gear bag with Puds as he would be picking me up in Cobh and giving me a lift back to Cork after the race. I did a 2 mile warmup along the river quays before stretching for 5 minures before the race start. There were about 600 runners lined up at the start. The weather was perfect for running - dry, cool and overcast with a light easterly breeze - although we were going to be running against it. The breeze was very light and proved to have a cooling effect, on me at least. I took my place a couple of rows back from the start as the lone wheelchair guy was sent on his way amid loud cheers and applause. and then we were off - the first half mile involved quite a bit of jostling in order to get going at a reasonable pace. This did not bother me too much as I normally use the first half mile to mile to get into my stride. Mile 1 passed in 7:18 "Not too bad given the 08:00 plus pace at the start" My Polar running watch was also spot on with the distance. The field began to spread out a little as we made our way along the Glanmire Dual Carriageway. Mile 2 came in 6:56 "I'm going a little fast....hang on a second this is not a marathon if I want to break 1:45 I have to be sub-7 minute AVERAGE... God you're right lets keep going at this pace so" How many voices would there be by mile 14. I was passed by a number of runners between mile 2 & 3 and though "Where are these guys going.....hang on stick to your pace this is your race there are alot of miles to go yet" Sure enough I passed most of them by mile 8. One guy, in particular, was playing cat and mouse with me for 4 or 5 miles and I resolved that, come what may, I was going to beat this guy. I saw no more of him after the water station at mile 8 - nothing to focus on from there on in. Miles 3 to 7 passed by in 6:48, 7:00, 6:50, 7:10, 7:02. Some of the 7 plus paces appeared a bit off. I check the watch as I passed the halfway mark - 52:08. "52:30 is 1:45 pace so I'm 22 seconds ahead of have only 22 seconds in the bag for the hilly rise into Cobh.......this is going to be tough.........on the other hand if I double that 22 seconds I could come in closer to 1:44... lets keep going and see what the road throws at me." I ran taking the "racing line" running in the middle of the road where I could - eventhough the road was open to traffic. I was passing 1 or 2 runners every half mile or so. A guy who I had last seen at mile 8 came up on my shoulder at mile 10 and we ran together for about a mile with another 2 guys. My watch started acting up about then, the times for miles 8 to 10 were:- 6:52, 6:46, (ok), 7:58 (what the f***) "I can't rely on my watch for distance better turn over to the stopwatch for feedback on my performance" At least I was back to having only one voice in my head. I passed the ten mile mark in 1:08:55 (a PB - never done a 10 miler before) It was around this time when I was distracted fiddling with my watch that I noticed that I had drifted back from the guy who had come up on my shoulder at mile 10. He had gone ahead with one of the 2 other guys. It was at this point (mile 11) that I began to feel the effort as we crawled (well it felt like it - nothing worse than being 20 yards behind someone and busting a gut just to keep the gap from widening) up a gradual incline. Further on I saw them pass a "chick" about 100 yards ahead and I set her as my next target to focus on. As I could no longer rely on my watch for distance I was checking my time at each of the mile markers ....Mile 12 in 1:twenty one or two something - I can't remember - I just knew I was still on target for the 1:45 or less. Mile 13 in 1:28:55 - "surely that equates to a sub 1:30 half marathon (2nd PB of the day) ...........just another 2 miles to go" I tailed the "chick" from mile 12.5 to mile 13 hoping to be pulled along.......... "enough with distractions pleasant and all as they may be....time to move on" I passed her and another guy shortly after the 13 mile mark. The next 2 miles were fairly lonely. I was now about 100 yards behind the guy who had left me at mile 11 and was slowly pulling away from those behind me (about a ten second gap in applause from bystanders after I had passed - no need to look back). Mile 14 was a tough gradual climb which showed ....I passed the 14 mile mark at 1:36:06 (7:11 for the mile 14) "Just a mile to go now....keep it'll hardly change position now....still 100 yards behind the next guy............why do I/you do this always brings has to be better than this.....shut up"......the feckers are back. That 100 yard gap to the guy in front reduced to about 60 over the last mile as I put in a strong effort ...the last rise was now behind me as I started the steep drop into Cobh and sprinted the last 150 yards to the finish line 1:42:32 the clock said at I passed under it........Great run...glad to be finished though. 06:26 for the last mile "that can't be right". Puds was on the finish line to take the finish snap. Helena came in at about 2:10, five minutes ahead of her 2:15 target...well done to her....her longest race to-date. I must say I'm delighted with my run. I essentially completed the 2nd half faster than the first (50:24 compared to 52:08) I didn't know I had it in me. The overall pace was 06:50 minutes per mile which is faster than my current 10k and half marathon PB pace. No results yet ....I'll see where I came later...Now I have to take Saran and Ani swimming... looking forward to the jacuzzi already................ Postscript 1 At the average 06:50 pace I would have completed a 10k in 42:29 (23 second PB) 10mile in 01:08:21 Half marathon in 01:29:37 (a 2:51 minute PB & the elusive sub 1:30 HM) Marathon in 02:59:13 (Dream on) Mileage for the week totalled 62.6 with 4.4 easy miles yesterday and 17 miles today (Including the 15 mile Cork to Cobh).

Friday, 28 September 2007

Mini Taper

Everyone else in the running blogsphere appears to be tapering for a marathon and things are very quite. No hard efforts or long endurance runs to read about. That will all change over the coming weeks as we'll read about heroic feats, personal triumphs, feelings ranging from ephoric to despair...........the good, the bad and the ugly.
While my Marathon is still 4 weeks away (God is that all!!.. sounds closer now that I have typed it) I am in a mini taper of my own ahead of Sunday's 15 Mile run from Cork to Cobh. I am looking forward to the run as it was this time last year that I competed in my very first race, ever!!! along this route. I am getting excellent updates on the weather forecast for sunday from John's Blog . It looks like it will be close to perfect running weather which should help me get a PB. To be quite honest if I don't PB by more that 10 minutes I will be dissappointed (PB of 01:58:29). There I've nailed my colours to the that wise? After tuesday evenings interval session I ran a medium long run of 14.9 miles on wednesday morning as there would be no long run on saturday. I intended to run into Cork on a long loop until I discovered at mile 5 or so that I had forgotten to put out the rubbish bin (bin collection can start as early as 0630hrs) so I doubled back to the house, put out the bin and added a 5 mile loop anound Ballincollig. My legs felt reasonably fresh, which was good given that it was less than 12 hours since my interval session.

I followed that up with relatively short runs on thursday (5.3 miles) and friday (5.84 miles).

On thursday I upped the pace for the middle 3 miles to marathon pace as opposed to the scheduled tempo pace (taper tactics).
Today I ran with Brendan a colleague from work who is heading off the Newcastle tomorrow to run in the BUPA Great North Run, a half Marathon with about 50,000 participants. While Brendan is aiming for 01:30 he has been placed well back in the starting pens (expected to cross the starting line 50 minutes after the elites) as he has no previous form in this race. He fears he may be running with teddy bears, superman and a few lifesize bottles of newcastle ale. We both ran easy, discussed strategy for our respective races and wished each other well.
Wed 14.9 Miles in 02:01:01 (08:07 pace @ 130 HR)
Thu 5.3 Miles in 00:40:08 (07:35 pace @ 134 HR - with 3 miles @ 07:21 pace & 136HR)
Fri 5.84 Miles in 00:49:53 (08:32 pace - No HR Monitor)

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

I Do Like The Interval..........between hard efforts

On Monday morning I woke late at 0630 hrs and decided to lie-in and take a rest - after all I needed to lower my mileage this week if I am to compete in the 15 miler next Sunday. As the day wore on I decided that if I was to get any mileage in this week it would be better at the start so that I could rest up a little towards the weekend. Therefore I headed to the park after work and did 8.15 miles at a relatively easy pace around the level gravel paths and grass pitches. I covered the distance in 01:04:19 (07:53 pace @ 128HR)... certainly looks like I have recovered from the weekend long run. This evening I decided to start my first interval session intending to cover 5 or 6 x 800m at the track at about 3.00 minute/800m. Since I can only run in lane 3 (832m) this equates to about 3:08 per 2 laps, the half lap splits being - 0:47 - 1:34 - 2:21 & 3:08. I intended to run an easy lap in the outer lanes between the hard efforts in a time less than 3:08 (the general rule being that the recovery should not last as long as the hard effort so as to maximise the amount of time in each hard effort spent in the anaerobic zone) I started with a 1 mile warmup and stretching and launched into the first 800m. I forgot to check the 200m split and as I completed the first lap 1:26 showed on my watch - "too fast better ease up a little or i'll bomb the later 800's". I eased up a little and completed the first 800 in 3:02. There was a headwind on the home straight that did not help. I jogged the next lap in the 5th or 6th lane at about 08:30 pace in 2:27 and launched into the next 800 and repeated for a total of 6 hard efforts as follows:- 1. 03:02 (avg 159HR, Max 160HR) - 1 lap recovery in 02:27 2. 03:03 (avg 162HR, Max 168HR) - 1 lap recovery in 02:28 3. 03:04 (avg 163HR, Max 170HR) - 1 lap recovery in 02:31 4. 03:02 (avg 165HR, Max 173HR) - 1 lap recovery in 02:37 5. 03:06 (avg 164HR, Max 173HR) - 1 lap recovery in 02:33 6. 03:04 (avg 165HR, Max 172HR) - 1.6 Miles recovery @ 08:43 pace. For the last hard effort I was pulled along by another group of runners going at about the same pace but over a longer distance. Certainly checking the 200, 400 and 600m splits helped keep me on time. A bigger effort was required on the home straight against the breeze but at least it finished with a break...until the next hard effort. I thought about doing another repeat but decided against it - i was beginning to feel the build up of lactic acid in my calves and opted for a cooldown instead. While my heart rate at the end of each recovery lap was surprisingly consistent (134 to 136bpm) I progressively felt that I may not be ready for hard effort ahead. But as I got into each repeat the effort felt comfortably hard but not exhausting. I might increase to 1000's next week and 1200's the week after - max recommended interval is about 5 minutes. I covered 7.05 miles in all (07:35 pace @ 145 HR)

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Van Morrison - 'Days Like This'

Days Like This

On Friday I left the house at 0520 hrs to complete an easy 11.4 miles loop. I took a headlamp for the unlit sections of the route. Throughout the run my legs felt heavy and tired so I kept the pace reasonably easy. When I reached the dark section of the straight road on the way home (mile 7) I duly pulled my headlamp from the pocket of my high viz vest. The lamp worked well except when cars were coming against me and I couldn't see the footpath clearly - the headlamp didn't identify dips in the pavement either, but I managed. With about 3.5 miles to go it poured out of the heavens and I had to take off my glasses. I must have looked a sorry sight to passing motorists. In fact I felt better during these last miles as the rain kept coming down. I stepped into an 8" puddle with over a mile to go and soaked my shoes and socks through but still I felt good. I finished the 11.4 miles in 01:34:50 (08:19 pace @ 133 HR) .


For Saturday I had planned a fast finish long run. I completed one of these a number of weeks ago and it didn't go as well as expected ( I completed 8 faster miles instead of the planned 10). This time I had planned to do 21 to 22 miles with mile 10 to 20 at Marathon Pace (07:30 to 07:40). To make it easier I ran my usual loop in reverse dealing with all the hills during the first 10 easy miles. I also ran the 10 easy miles at a slower pace than before (aiming for around 08:20 to 08:30) so as to be fresher for the harder effort.


The first 10 mile were pretty uneventful, neither too easy nor hard but I was concerned as to how I would last with the increased pace after mile 10. I began increasing the pace 8.5 miles in so that there would be no sudden change in effort. I completed mile 10 in 07:44 and eased up the pace. Mile 11 included a downhill section and the watch beeped 07:30, so far so good. Mile 12 went by in 07:20, a bit fast but I felt great. I didn't want to disturb the rhythm so I kept the same effort. Mile 13 in 07:14 - couldn't feel better. Van Morrison's "Days Like This" started playing in my head. Is this my body or have I borrowed someone elses for the day - I'll probably feel it by mile 15 or 16. No, the miles just kept rolling by, all between 07:15 and 07:25.

McMillian in his version of the fast finish long run calls for the last few miles at 10k pace. While I wasn't going to follow this recommendation I decided to up the effort over the last mile to make it the fastest of the run. As 1 or 2 miles had gone by in 07:05 this meant a sub-7 minute final mile. I felt reasonably fresh so I eased up the pace "so far so good"...."not too bad". As I got close to home I even managed a sprint finish to the end......06:40 on the watch......."wow what a run"...Now I was out of breath but I was on top of the world. "Why can't my marathons go like this"..."I saw no sign of this run coming - my running of late has been less than inspiring - what did I do differently - the easier initial pace and lack of hills during the fast 11.9 miles certainly helped"


10 miles in 01:24:03 (08:24 pace @ 123 HR) followed by

11.9 miles in 01:26:37 (07:17 pace @ 150 HR, last mile @ 165HR)

Overall 21.9 Miles in 02:50:40 (07:48 pace @ 137 HR)

I did all sorts of calculations afterwards to see how the run compared to race performance. If I continued the 07:20 average pace from mile 11 to 20.9 onto mile 26.2 (I felt I could have) I would have run a marathon in 03:23:01 (a PB). The only thing is I don't know where this run came from and how I can get it back on demand.

Today I completed an 11.4 miles recovery run to give a total of 82.6 miles for the week. 11.4 miles in 01:40:46 (08:50 pace @ 121 HR)

I volunteered as a steward for the Women's Mini Marathon in Cork this afternoon - a 4 mile run/walk with about 8,000 participants. I was manning a junction at mile 3 with my daughter Safan. The business end of the race saw the first runner pass us at 16:xx followed closely by two more. After that they came in dribs and drabs until the road was a sea of people running/jogging and finally walking (some men in drag - good laugh). When we got back to the finish line the clock was reading 01:49:xx. The leg were a bit stiff from standing around for a few hours.

I hope yesterdays performance can be repeated for the 15 mile Cork to Cobh race next Sunday. This was the first race I ever competed in - I should get a PB.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Ease Into Speed

On Wednesday I went for an 8.6 mile easy run along a similar route to Monday's run except that I cut across Inchagaggin Lane between the Straight Road and the Model Farm Road to take 2.8 miles off the loop. I felt comfortable throughout the run finishing in 01:07:37 (07:52 pace @ 139 HR) My average HR was high because the HR monitor did not record over the warmup mile (no sweat) This morning I had planned a Tempo run, however I was undecided on how fast and how far to run. Mcmillian indicates a Tempo pace for me of between 06;46 to 07:04. It also gives paces of 06:41 to 06:55 for tempo intervals (not sure how long these should last for). The last time I did tempo runs the pace was 07:00 to 07:10 for 20 minutes. Jack Daniels Running Formula recommends reduced tempo paces as duration exceeds 20 minutes. I thought I might cover 4 miles at an average pace of 06;50 and see how that goes. I woke later than planned (I still don't want to use an alarm clock) at 0625 and so it was a bit of a rush to get out the door. I was unsure whether I could go from groggy to tempo run mode after two warmup miles. I started off covering the 2 warmup mile in 08:23 and 07:46. I increased the pace to sub-7 minutes after the second mile constantly checking the pace on my watch . At the end of the first mile was the only real hill in the tempo section (about 100 to 120 m long - but steep) The pace slowed down to 07:55 as I neared the top - first mile in 06:52 (so far so good). The second fast mile was a long gradual downhill/flat section which I covered in 06:37 (a bit fast but ok). At this stage I was feeling the effort:- "This is faster than my 5 mile PB pace of 06:43 and it is only a training run. I'm not going to get to 4 miles at this pace without feeling it afterwards". I decided that I would cover 1 more mile at this pace before easing up on the pace. The 3rd mile was along the straight road which is flat. I covered this mile in 06:36. I decided to run on to a landmark that I could pick up on Google Earth ("I'll measure the distance afterwards" - I had a suspicion that I covered more distance than the watch recorded, based on the fact that it tends to under record when the pace increases). I eased off the pace and completed the remaining miles at between 07:50 and 08:00 pace covering 8.6 miles in total (same loop as yesterday's run except in reverse) in 01;04:27 (07:30 pace @ 144 HR) The recorded distance was low by 0.1 mile when I finally stopped (not alot, but enough). The 3.07 recorded fast miles turned out to be 3.12 miles on Google Earth, which I covered in 20:40 (06:37 pace @ avg HR of 159). The avg HR for the last fast mile was 164 indicating that the effort was getting more difficult to maintain. This is equivalent to 20:35 for 5k -while over a minute over my PB it's enough for a training run. If I kept this pace up for 5 miles I would have got a PB (33:05). Methinks I went a bit too fast for a tempo run.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

HADD Revisited

Monday morning saw me out at 0600hrs to get 11.4 miles in before the morning chaos began. This was a steady run at a reasonably easy pace throughout. I brought a headlamp to guide the way through the dark unlit mile on the straight road - the sky was brighter than usual at this time of the morning so there was no need for the lamp. I tried it on for good measure and it appeared to work quite well. No bobbing head of Paula Radcliffe although I wish I had her pace.

I completed the run in 1:30:49 (07:58 pace @ 133 HR)

This evening I completed my third and final HADD test before the marathon. I had been wary of completing it as my legs felt tired, heavy and ever so slightly achy all day. I decided early on that I would not complete the 6 laps of the track at the highest heart rate (170 bpm) as I did not want to tempt injury so close the the marathon, especially given my recent injuries and I wanted to be reasonably fresh for my run tomorrow morning (less than a 12 hour gap). Instead I did an all-out effortv over 1 lap following the 2,4k at 160 HR. The results compared to the other 2 tests went something like this:- (Click on image)

While the results show a marginal improvement over the last 5 weeks (3 to 6 seconds per mile) it is improvement nonetheless. In addition for some of those tests the average heart rate was lower this time round (the 2nd test was less than perfect). The real proof of the pudding is in the overall improvement in the 10 weeks since the first test where I am now "nearly" running the same pace at 10 bpm slower than I was. I am certainly pleased with the overall result.

Overall between warmup and warmdown I completed 9.3 Miles @07:27 pace albeit with some rest periods in between (1:30 between 6 lap sessions)

Sunday, 16 September 2007

The Weird and the Wonderful

I seem to see more of Cork during my long runs than at any other time - if only I took a camera with me. Yesterday morning I headed out in the sunshine for a leisurely 20 miles. While running along the Lee Fields in towards the City (Mile 5 or so) I spotted a lone fisherman standing on the weir (invisible from behind) in the middle of the river - the mist rising off the clear glass surface of the river shrouding him. He could have been standing in the middle of a road, the water was so still - the wonderful. . A hundred yards further on, along the boardwalk in front of the Kingsley Hotel I spotted a group of 5 or 6 young men stripping off and entering the river in their underwear (this was 8 in the morning - no alcohol involved here). They bade me good morning as I passed - I said "fair play to ye". Maybe they were partaking in some sort of baptismal rite or they were visiting tourists from Iceland mistaking the rising mist off the river as signs of some sort of hot spring - weird eh!. . The rest of the run was pretty uneventful and stress free. I maintained an even pace throughout resisting the temptation to up the pace in the latter miles. I completed the 20 miles in 02:39:58 (08:00 pace @ 134 HR) . This morning I completed a 13.2 mile recovery run at a very easy pace. However the legs felt tired throughout and I felt like cutting the run short (In hindsight I should have to make sure I was fresh for the week ahead). . Sun - 13.2 Miles in 01:59:43 (09:04 pace @ 116 HR) At least my heart is fine - RHR of 40- this morning. While 4 months ago it measured 37 it has averaged at 41 during the summer months. . A few new aches and pains crept in during the run - primarily due to wear and tear on my shoes. I even bought a new pair yesterday but was keeping them for Monday. I have about 577 miles up on my current pair which I have for 8 weeks (average of 72 miles a week). . When buying my shoes I was served by the store owner, Mr John Buckley (well known in running circles in the south) so I took the opportunity to ask him about the relative merit of using racing shoes as opposed to the more comfortable training shoes for a marathon. He said that it is debatable whether there is any benefit to be gained in using them for a marathon but certainly for shorter distances, particularly 5k and 10k. He showed me a pair and said that wearing them would make you feel like running faster - they certainly looked the biz and were lighter than a feather - maybe next year! . Today less than reassuring run saw me complete just under 74 miles for the week.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Need For Speed

I think it's time in my training cycle for a bit more structured speedwork. I have a marathon in just over 6 weeks and the only speedwork, apart from the odd race or 2, has been long tempo type runs a la HADD.
I know I started my speedwork too early for the Cork Marathon in June and peaked about a month early. After a two week recovery from the Barcelona Marathon in March I started straight into the "race sharpening" cycle I had left before tapering for Barcelona with a bit more mileage thrown in for good measure. I think I'll put the question of peaking at the right time to "Mystery Coach" for discussion next Monday.
I am finding it hard to get up and out the door before 0630 hrs these mornings and since I have to get back by 0730 hrs to assist or in the chaos that is multiple school runs I am only getting relatively short runs in. On Wednesday to Friday Abina is out the door at 0730 hrs to work leaving me to co-ordinate the whole affair. It's not that bad it's just that my running time is getting squeezed.
On Wednesday I completed another recovery type 5.25 Miles run to the Park - legs still tired and achy.
Thursday saw me doing a double run of 6.7 steady miles in the morning and a further tempo style run of 5.4 miles from the office at lunch time. I set off on this run with the intention of doing a 20 minute tempo run at about 06:40 to 06:50 pace in the middle (10k pace). After warming up at a reasonably brisk pace I headed into my tempo run, however the effort felt too hard to maintain for 20 minutes under the heat of the midday sun (22 degrees - all relative I know) so I bailed after about 7.5 minutes and eased the pace for the remainder of the run. On completion I found that the average pace for the run was 07:20 with the faster mile (actually 1.2 miles) at 06:15 - no wonder I bailed.
This mornings run of 6.7 miles (repeat of Thursdays loop) was towards the recovery end of the spectrum given my harder than anticipated effort yesterday. This gave a total of 24 miles over the last 3 days. Tomorrow morning sees the return on my long run - 20 miles or so. I haven't completed one of these since Wednesday 29th August (I hope I remember how it's done).
  • Wed - 5.25 Miles in 44:57 (08:32 pace @ 130 HR)
  • Thu - 6.7 Miles in 52:09 (07:47 pace @ 139 HR) & 5.4 Miles in 39:35 (07:20 pace @ 153 HR with 1.2 Miles @ 06:15 pace & 162 HR
  • Fri - 6.7 Miles in 58:34 (08:27 pace @ 128 HR)

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Aches and Pains

The last two days have been dominated by aches and pains in my legs, more as a result of recent injuries as opposed to Sunday's race ( although the race would not have helped). Suffice it to say that I need to stretch when I get out of bed (or after sitting for any length of time) just in order to walk without looking like John Wayne after a long stint in the saddle. However on Sunday evening the most pressing discomfort was a bad case of nappy rash on the upper thighs which I felt developing during mile two of the race - where was the Vaseline when I needed it?. My mileage for the last eight weeks looks something like a roller coaster ride :- 67-75-80-67-74-88-67-53 I hope I am at the end of the vertical drop and start to climb up again (before hitting the ground) as I feel I have dropped the ball over the last two weeks. I know its all down to injury but I feel the gains I have made have been lost. I feel that I will be back in my comfort zone when I get some higher mileage weeks with some harder effort runs behind me. However most of this week will be relatively easy runs until the aches and pains subside somewhat. I took a rest day on Monday primarily because I needed to be in work early to meet a deadline (I had already spent 4 hours on Sunday working on it after the race) This morning I went for a run on a 8.7 mile loop from the gym into Cork. It was still dark and I forgot that a mile of the straight road is unlit. While there was a footpath it was difficult to see overhanging foliage and I found myself ducking at the last minute to avoid getting a smack in the face. Every 30 seconds or so a cars headlight would illuminate the way before plunging me into total darkness again. I don't know how Thomas manages to run in total darkness (or moonlight when available) around the boreens of south Kerry - he must have cats eyes. The remainder of the run was uneventful as the sky was bright on the return leg out the Model Farm Road. In the spirit of getting the mileage up and to make up for Mondays rest day I covered another 7.9 easy miles this evening from the CIT Track (Where Eagle AC meet - I haven't shown my face for a while). I warmed up on the track and did a 5 mile loop through Bishopstown-Victoria Cross-Inchagaggin Lane & CIT. I warmed down on the track with a few of the Eagle AC crew, where all the talk was on Sunday's Race. One of the Guys had come third in the M55 Category (but 5 minutes down on his time last year). Of course the overall winner in 1:11:32, Wieslaw Sosnowski (A grand Cork name) is a member of Eagle AC. Wieslaw also won the recent Longford marathon setting a course record of 2:26:55 or thereabouts (apparently he could have run faster if he had some company- second was something like 2:40:xx. Anyway I digress. Tuesday 11th Sept Runs a.m. 8.7 Miles in 01:15:10 (08:38 @ 130 HR) p.m. 7.9 miles in 01:08:54 (08:43 @119 HR)

Sunday, 9 September 2007

A Race Of Two Halves

This morning turned out to be a bright sunny morning for the Cork Half Marathon. Following registration I went for a 2 mile warmup run with 35 minutes to go. I could feel the heat of the sun bearing down on me and knew that this was not a day for a Personal Best. Hydration was the name of the game today particularly if I was to avoid a repeat of last thursdays cramp. . Speaking to one of the other runners before the race I was informed of the 2 mile rise into Grenagh Village after mile 4. Given the uncertainty with my right calf I opted for an easy pace strategy, particularly over the first half of the course - a training run of sorts. . I kept an eye out for Thomas before the race but could not find him. At one stage I thought I spotted him warming up but when I gave chase he had disappeared. Either his warmup pace was too fast for me of he ducked behind a bush. . I got in line mid-way through the group of starters (no point in getting carried away) and the flag went down to cheers of "Up the Rebels" (Cork being the Rebel County facing Kerry in next sunday's all-Ireland football Final). . I started off at a relatively comfortable pace with quite a few runners passing me out over the first two miles or so. I did not mind as I was following my plan. If I needed reminding the tightness in my calf was enough. My heart rate was 148 to 150 so I was quite comfortable. It felt strange, like I was being held back - in third gear when five are available. I was like a dog pulling on an invisible leash but still I held to my pace. A clock at the 4 mile mark showed 30:30 as I passed (07:37 pace). A number of runners that had passed me out were now coming back to me - like a game of cat and mouse. . The rise to Grenagh Village was before me, however I held my pace as it was not too challenging - My HR began to rise into the 160's where it should be for racing mode. This is where I began to pass quite a number of runners who had slowed down for the rise. The final rise into Grenagh was the steepest part of the course. Coming out of the village there was a steady drop over half a mile. I was running alongside two other guys and stated that "we were on the home straight" (meaning the return leg). One guy responded that we still had half the race before us. However I never felt better, the tightness in my calf was receding, the heat had not got to me yet as I was still in relatively comfortable running mode. . The three of us stayed more or less together for the next mile to the 8 mile mark with me taking up the rear. After mile 8 I surged ahead and left the other two behind. I was hoping I could maintain the pace for the next 5 miles to the finish line. The route was relatively flat now and I began picking off one or two runners every half mile. The conservative race strategy, while not going to give me a PB, was certainly paying off in term of psychological benefit. . With about 3 miles to go I was finally feeling the strain (not on my calf) and was looking forward to the end. I passed a guy and a girl at mile 10 but the girl came back and we continued to play cat and mouse for the next 2.5 miles before she surged ahead to finish two place (and about 20 seconds) in front of me. I came in under the clock in 01:35;50 which was well outside my PB of 01:32:29. However I was satisfied with the run given my condition going into it and the heat on the day. The overall pace was 07:19 @ 161 average HR. (first half pace of 07:37 approx and second half at 07:11 approx - I did not take splits) I was glad I had carried a sports drink around the course as drinking out of plastic cups at the water stations proved difficult unless you were willing to stop. I preferred to throw the water over my head as a mean of cooling down. . When I had finished and started to stretch the tightness in my right calf returned tenfold. It was painful to walk for awhile afterwards. I returned to the clubhouse showered and had complimentary tea and sandwiches all the while keeping an eye out for Thomas - but to no avail. I should have arranged something more concrete with him instead of trying to idenfity him from his blog picture. He was propably over the county bounds and back in Kerry by the time I crossed the finish line. I can't wait to see his race report and see if he got his PB. Post Script I completed 52.7 miles for the week. My posted paces were wrong while my first half averaged at 07:37 pace the second half was at 07:00 pace to give an overall average of 07:19.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Decision Time

I went to Letti for a sports massage yesterday morning to sort out my left hamstring/groin strain and right calf cramp. Letti told me that there was bruising at the back of my left leg (consistent with where I felt the pain when attempting to waterski last week) but that the damage was more than likely surface tears in the muscle (not the hamstring - can't remember the name but it connects the groin to the thigh) as opposed to anything more serious, especially since I was able to run without much discomfort.
My right calf on the other hand was rock solid and required a lot of uncomfortable manipulation to loosen it out. She recommended using "winter green" as opposed to "deep heat" as it penetrates the muscle more.
I know the massage will work but it does take a couple of days. Letti said that if I was running that evening to make sure to stretch well - this should have been a hint to me to lay off running for the day. Not for me - I went the the gym after work with the intention of doing 30 or 40 minutes on the threadmill and stopping if I felt any discomfort. I did a warmup mile at about 9 minute pace and stopped and stretched (not too bad) I went back on the threadmill at 8 minute pace but after half a mile I felt the tension building up in my calf and called it a day. When I went home I had a hot bath to loosen out the muscle and boy did it feel hot - I lasted 10 minutes and crawled out of the bath exhausted.
This morning I drove to the park to cover about 5 miles at an easy pace to see if there was any improvement. I ended up covering 5 .75 miles at an easy pace. I could always feel a tightness in my left calf but it didn't get any worse. I was conscious of the fact that a faster pace, hills or a harder surface would be a better barometer of my recovery from the cramp. With this in mind I increased the pace for the last 0.75 miles covering it in 07:24 pace. While my calf didn't feel too bad the pace felt tougher than expected - I had wanted to push closer to or even under 7 minute pace which is my HM target pace. After stretching the tightness returned to my calf when walking, however as the morning has gone on this has eased. Lets hope the next 24 hours see more significant improvement. I have a number of options for tomorrows half marathon as follows:-
1) Give it a go and see how I do - and drop out if necessary (oh the shame)
2) Run it as a fun run enjoy the event without going for a PB
3) Turn up and support Thomas in his PB attempt (He is certainly race ready)
4) Turn up and pace Thomas for the first mile, 5 miles, 13.1 miles (oh I wish - option 1 without the shame)
5) Give the whole thing a miss and concentrate on recovery and the Cork to Cobh 15 mile race at the end of the month.
Too early to decide. If tomorrow morning is as sunny as this morning a PB would be a tall order even in full fitness.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Mixed Results

Have just returned from a round Ireland trip. Spent 7 hours in the car yesterday travelling from Cork to Waterford for a meeting and then onto Sligo for a conference today. Spent another 5 hours in the car this evening getting home. I still managed to get a total of 19.5 miles running in as well (some good and some bad miles). Before I left yesterday morning I did a short easy run in the park covering 5.3 miles at 08:25 pace (127 HR). When I arrived in Sligo yesterday evening I covered another 5.4 miles at a steady pace (07:38 pace @ 145 HR). While the run wasn't intentionally faster I felt comfortable throughout. This morning (Thursday) I set out around Sligo town with the intention of being out for about an hour or so. At 7 in the morning Sligo is like a ghost town - one or two cars about and a few street cleaners. I had tried to check out running routes in Sligo on "mapmyrun" in the hotel the night before but the internet connection was down (checked it out this evening - not much on offer). After 4 miles I ended running along the river bank and found a river side gravel walk that took me off the road for about 3 miles (out and back towards Lough Gill - very scenic) The pace was about 08:30 or slower, however the effort felt harder than it should have. As I returned along the river bank a tightness in my right calf developed into a cramp which forced me to stop and stretch for a bit before carrying on at a reduced pace and an altered stride to ease the tension (felt as if I was limping). This was the last thing I expected as I have only once had a cramp during a run (17 months ago). I took the shortest route back to the hotel and called it a day. I had been out longer than I had intended and covered 8.8 miles in 01:16:29 (08:41 pace @ 130bpm) - certainly a poor performance for the effort. The tightness in my calf remained all day which is worrying especially as I intend racing on Sunday. I have some physio scheduled for tomorrow morning which should help. I had physio a few weeks ago which seems to have got rid of the niggling tightness in my left quad that I had since the beginning of July.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Cross Training

I started the week with an 11 mile loop from the gym into Cork. During the warmup mile I felt the tenderness in my left hamstring. While stretching I also felt discomfort and could not stretch the muscle across the usual range. Instead of sticking to hard and fast rules I decided to run on feel . I ran at a fairly even and steady pace throughout the run (HR in the low 140's) only easing up over the last half a mile.
11.1 Miles in 01:23:44 (07:33 pace @ 143 HR)
The "temporary" loss of flexibility in the left hamstring will certainly affect my stride in the short term. Because of this, the fact that I intend competing in the Blarney Half Marathon this Sunday and the fact that I could lie in until at least 0700hrs this morning I decided to give my Tuesday morning run a miss and go for a swim at lunchtime instead. I covered the 1 km in about 20 minutes (not timed) with 750m at an easy pace followed by 250m at maximum effort.
I may not do much running over the next few days as I am travelling around the country (work related) and will not be back until late on thursday night - rest and recovery being the first prioroty and getting in a few easy runs coming in second.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Still Recovering

I completed an easy 14.35 mile run this morning bringing the total for the week to 66.7 miles - not bad given that I did not run on Thursday and Saturday. I felt the strain in my hamstring/groin throughout the run, particularly over the first few miles. While I have no problem running easy I am inclined to think that speedwork could aggravate the strain. I may have to give the 5k race on Wednesday evening a miss if I want to "compete" in the half marathon on Sunday next.
I completed the 14.35 mile run in 01:58:32 (08:16 pace @ 139 HR). While the pace was easy the effort (HR) was higher than it should have been - could be a result of a late night socialising on Friday (bed at 0320hrs) followed by an early rise (0710 hrs).
Mon - 12.4 Miles (07:19 pace @ 143 HR with 8 miles @ 06:55 pace & 150 HR - Park)
Tue - 10 Miles (08:04 pace @ 131 HR - Park)
Wed - 19.8 Miles (08:08 pace @ 128 HR)
Fri - 10.2 Miles (08:00 pace @ 137 HR)
Sun - 14.3 Miles (08:16 pace @ 139 HR)

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Back Running

My hamstring injury appears to be more of a strain - a groin strain at that. Don't get me wrong, it is tender especially when going down on my haunches. The application of deep heat on Thursday night appears to have eased the pain somewhat. I was In Waterford (Faithlegg House Hotel) on a training course over the last two days and decided to go on a run on Friday evening with Brendan, a colleague on the course, who is training for the Great North Run. The main aim of the run was (i) to see if I could run and (ii) if I could run - what was the impact of the strain. We set off at a reasonable pace from the hotel towards Waterford City - while I could feel the strain the running did not increase the pain. In fact as I warmed up I noticed it less. The route was quite undulating with few enough level sections. We ran five miles in towards the City in about 08:30 pace and turned back with the intention of equaling or bettering the time on the return leg. In fact we ran the return leg at just over 07:30 pace. I certainly felt the effort on the return leg especially on one relatively steep hill section. However my groin strain became less noticeable as other "temporary" tensions in my calves took over the number one spot on the discomfort stakes. All in all a pretty good run given my last doom and gloom post - however I'm still not out of the woods. 10.18 Miles in 01:21:36 (08:00 pace @ 137 HR)