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.