Saturday, 31 May 2008


I started the week with aches and pains (left IT band and Quad) after Sundays 15 miler - similar to typical post marathon aches. My scheduled runs this week included some short intervals on the track and a 2 mile tempo run. I gave the track a miss and instead rolled out 6.7 miles on Tuesday around the roads near home and felt reasonably comfortable. Following my final trip to the physio on Thursday for some last painful work on my IT Band I left the 2nd run of the week until Friday evening intending to get maybe 1 mile at tempo pace (06:30) in just to wake up my legs a bit. All-in all I completed 5.2 miles with 1 tempo mile and gradually eased back the pace:- 07:23 (fast warmup) 06:33 (tempo - good) 06:49 (easing back) 07:24 (MP ish) 07:45 (warmdown) 07:47 pace for final .25 miles. Overall the run felt quite good. Today my legs felt tired with a few mild aches but i'm putting that down to pre-race jitters. Picked up my number today (1551) and spend the last 2 hours assembling a basketball net and stand for Ani - don't think I pulled anything. My plan for Monday is to go out at 07:25-07:30 pace as my primary target is to get sub 3:20 and a BQ. Anything after that is a bonus. While I feel my legs should not cause me any trouble (well no more than normal for a 26.2 mile run) my lack of quality training (long and tempo runs) over the lask 6 weeks is likely to have the biggest impact. Thanks to everyone for wishing me well, I really appreciate it and I look forward to seeing some of you out on the course on Monday. Best of luck to Thomas, Richard & Pat (nextdoor) - may you all pull off PB's............And may the sun come out only after we all finish. Marathon Week 24/24 (12 miles so far) Tue 27th May 6.78 Miles in 51:32 (07:36 pace @ 140 HR) Fri 30th May 5.24 Miles in 37:48 (07:13 pace @ 152 HR)

Sunday, 25 May 2008

I can run but I can't hide.............

................ from the fact that I am not in the best shape for a marathon in 8 days time. I finally got back on my marathon training programme today. Believe it or not, with 1 week to go the programme called for 15 miles at base pace (07:20 to 08:00 - now my marathon pace range). A late night last night (communion house party - modest amounts of Guinness) and an early rise (as Safan has returned to Sunday morning swimming lessons & I'm the chauffeur) may not have been the best preparation but I managed to run 15 miles relatively niggle free. My right calf was still a bit tight (dull ache) and some mild discomfort developed in my IT Band during mile 13. After the run I had some aches and pains (primarily right calf, left IT Band & left glute) as I would expect after a moderate long run but I would have preferred to have had less. The truth is I don't know how I would fare adding another 11 miles on to this mornings run as I welcomed the finish when it came. Mon 19th & Wed 21st 2 x 18 mile cycle Tue 20th & Thur 22nd 2 x 1,500m swim Fri 23rd 2.5 Miles in 19:44 (Treadmill) Sun 25th 15 Miles in 01:54:07 (07:37 pace @ 141 HR) Marahon Training Week 23/24 - 17.5 Miles (ouch)

Sunday, 18 May 2008

The Long Taper

Week 4 of my 6 week taper for Cork is now complete and if I continue the way I am going I might just be able to walk unassisted to the start line on June 2nd. Two 6 mile runs on Tuesday and Wednesday went quite well with the tenderness in my left calf slowly disappearing. A further 2 mile on the treadmill on Thursday and I was ready for a tempo run on Friday morning. I was planning on 2 x 3 to 3.5 miles @ 06:30 pace (programme called for 2 x 4.25 miles - but I would be happy to get some fast running under my belt) unfortunately I only managed 3 fast miles (06:34, 06:31 & 06:24) before my left calf began to feel tight and I eased up on the pace and dropped the 2nd fast leg. 1,500m in the pool on Saturday and I was ready for my MP run this morning (2 miles warmup & cooldown with 13 miles @ MP). I decided that, for this run, MP would be 07:20 per mile (still well under 3:20 time) and depending on how I felt I would extend the run beyond the scheduled 17 miles. I set out with Pat, next door, who was planning on 07:40 per mile for his MP. During the early miles I felt good but both my calves felt tight and I had to stop and stretch my right calf at mile 3.5 (never had this problem before) - unfortunately I only lasted another 1.5 miles before I had to pull up with a cramp in my right calf and couldn't continue. I handed Pat my Garmin so he could record his pace/distance and for the 2nd time in the last month had to phone for a lift home. While my ITBS is still around it has now been relegated to third place as far as running injuries are concerned. Here I am peaking for a marathon and unable to do speed or endurance workouts - I think my body is telling me something - so i've no choice but to take it easy for the next two weeks and see what comes my way. To be quite honest my focus is beyond Cork at this stage and taking a month off running to recover while maintaining fitness through cycling and swimming - I think my first Tri beckons - the Little Bo Peep Olympic distance triathlon on 27th July is supposed to be easy to gain entry to. After that it's back to the next Marathon - Berlin or Dublin? Training week 22/24 - 28 Miles.

Sunday, 11 May 2008


Every old man I see
In October-coloured weather
Seems to say to me:
"I was once your father"
(Patrick Kavanagh - MEMORY OF MY FATHER)
My dad passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of Monday morning after a long illness, so my week has been pretty hectic and tiring. On the running front my first run of the week was 11.5 miles on Wednesday morning where my ITBS decided to tell me it had not gone away and although I completed my run without pain I could feel tenderness on the outside of my knee. I kept my scheduled appointment with the new Physio on Thursday morning. Much better that the last Physio. He advised against long runs (24 miles scheduled this weekend) but said that tempo runs and speedwork (except on the track) should not be a problem. With this in mind I headed out for 2 x 3.5 miles @ 06:30 pace on Friday morning but only got 2.5 miles into the first leg when I got a cramp in my left calf and had to stop and walk the 3.5 miles home (no amount of stretching allowed me to run comfortably).
On Saturday morning I headed out with other members of Eagle AC who were incorporating the second half of the Cork Marathon route into their long run, starting on the Marina near Páirc Ui Caoimhe. The minimum run on offer was about 15.5 miles with some opting for extending it to 20 miles and beyond. The run started off at an easy pace well over 8 minute miles but after a while the pace increased, for some at least, (don't quite know who was in the driving seat) until we were motoring in the straight road at 07:30 pace after 10 miles with no sign of slowing down. Mile 13 through town was close to 7 minute pace and by the time the loop to Pairc Ui Caoimhe was complete any thoughts of extending the run were long gone. While it was a good progression run and my ITBS did not flare up I didn't feel great and the dull ache in my left calf at mile 1 remained with me throughout the run - I was glad to finish. 15.5 miles is a long way off 24 when it comes to endurance training.
Plenty of calf stretching on Saturday saw me heading out this morning to see if I could get another run in the double digits on tired legs and at least get some long run endurance memory into my legs ahead of Cork. I did not feel great from the first mile (stretching at mile 1 and 3.5 did help somewhat) as my left calf continued to niggle. To compound the discomfort my ITBS reared its ugly head after mile 3 which forced me to concentrate on my gait - I increased my leg turnover and shortened my stride and the ITBS subsided (less heel striking) and the run became more manageable. I eventually finished after 15.3 miles but felt washed out and exhausted. I'll take a day off tomorrow and look after my left calf. The closer I get to Cork the more crocked I begin to feel. Next weekends MP long run will tell a lot about how prepared I am to run 26.2 miles in 3 weeks time.
The official results of the Half Marathon last Sunday have me finishing in 01:30:00 exactly, which means I didn't miss the mark - although I am not yet a sub 01:30 half marathoner either (A kind of Limbo). Still a PB by 02:29 though, despite what others may have thought (although my 10k improvement of 04:37 over the same yearly interval is far more impressive)
Wed 7th May 11.48 Miles in 01:27:36 (07:38 pace @ 148 HR) Fri 9th May 4.51 Miles in 31:48 (07:03 pace @ 145 HR) with 2.51 Miles in 06:34, 06:25 & 03:16 (06:26 pace) Sat 10th May 15.57 Miles in 02:04:00 (07:57 @ 141 HR) 09:01, 08:31, 08:18, 08:25, 08:30, 08:26, 08:10, 07:51, 08:06, 07:32, 07:10, 07:14, 07:02, 07:14 & 04:15 (07:23 pace) Sun 11th May 15.32 Miles in 02:02:35 (08:00 pace @ 137 HR) Marathon Training Week 21/24 - 46.88 Miles. Third consecutive injury induced low mileage week. Revised target for Cork I'd say.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Better But Blunter

Todays Half marathon in Bantry, on the whole, was a very good run for me in that the expected ITBS pain did not materialise at all and despite some minor stiffness hours after the race I had more aches and pains in my claves than anywhere else. Therefore it would appear that I should be able to ramp up my training for Cork (and more importantly sign up for it) - only 2 weeks to taper. Given my apprehension about injury in todays race my plan was somewhat different than usual:-
  • Short warmup to save wear and tear on the IT band.
  • Start out conservatively.
  • Wear running tights and carry drink in my hand.

I met Thomas at the start line and wished him luck as I wouldn't be going out at target race pace. I met up with Pat, my next door neighbour who was targeting a 01:35 time (07:15 pace) and said I would pace off him at the start and see how my knee held up.

The gun went off and the speedesters tore off down the road at a rate of knots. Thomas must have been among them as I never saw him, and he's not the type of guy to take up the rear. I headed out with Pat at just over 7 minute pace and felt very relaxed, taking it relatively easy.

Mile 1 passed in 06:56 (a bit faster than target but no problem)

Mile 2 and 3 were similar in 07:05 & 06:55 respectively. Then the big hill outside Glengarrif hit during mile 4 and the pace slowed somewhat - although this is whre I left Pat. The Garmin was set to average overall pace, current pace and distance - overall was showing about 07:11 halfway up the hill. Initially I misunderstood this to mean current mile pace and though I was cruising up the hill, especially as I was passing others - that was until the 4 mile autolap beeped at 07:46 (holy shit - I did this in 07:42 last year).

This guy passed me at the 3.5 mile mark and I tailed him up the hill and was more or less on his shoudler by the time we got to the top, close to mile 5. I was feeling quite good at this stage (no sign of knee pain) and though I was well behind the 06:52 average pace required for a 1:30 time I began hatching a plan to get back on pace. I offered the guy I had been shadowing a drink and we got talking. This was his first run in the 4 weeks since he completed the Paris Marathon in 03:20. He said that he was aiming for "about the hour and a half". When I said that my target was the same he said "Stick with me so and we'll get there together".

Mie 5 in 06:56. We knew we would have to speed up to get on pace for 1:30. The next 3 downhill miles helped us in this regard and we moved along at a good pace which, although maneagable, felt a bit faster than I would have run had I been on my own. We picked off quite a few runners along this section. I always had it in the back of my mind when passing guys at a pace that I think is a bit fast that i'll get picked off by them half a mile down the road when I am forced to cut back, but we maintained pace and didn't get overtaken.

Miles 6, 7 & 8 in 06:42, 06:23 & 06:19. (average pace was now down to 06:53 - on target more or less). One thing that told me this guy was made of stronger stuff was when he pulled out a bannana at around 6.5 miles, peeled it and offered some to me and then turned around and offered it to a guy we had just passed - anyone who can do that at 06:30 pace has my complete admiration.

The next few miles were undulating and while my knee was not bothering me the effort and feeling of fatigue in my legs was beginning to take its toll. Still miles 9 & 10 churned out in 06:39 & 06:45.

And then the punishing series of never ending hills to the finish line commenced (I don't remember the down bits as much as the muscle aching long uphill drags). I still managed to keep up with my guy as we managed to pass others who had slowed down and any attempts at telling him to go on ahead were met with "come on you can do it". One guy did pass us along this section (the first guy, and only as it turned out, since about mile 2 or 3)

Mile 11 in 07:01. 2.1 miles to go. Hanging in there felt very tough. I had an overwhelming urge to stop and walk "just fo a few seconds" - I knew that if I did that would be the end of my race. Every 10 seconds my thought changed from "I'm never going to make 1:30" to "I can do this" .

Mile 12 in 06:50 - nearly there ...... but hey wait a minute Garmin read 12.08 miles as I passed the actual 12 mile marker "shit this throws my times and paces off - my Garmin recorded 06:52 average pace to-date is not the real deal at all.

With the last hill gone at mile 12.4 it was downhill and then level all the way to the finish. It felt like an age, still about 5 meters behind my pacer - running through the narrow streets with warning tape tied between cones - waiting, hoping to see the 13 mile mark around the next corner, my guy in front was now shouting back to me "come on get a move on" my legs were like jelly and my heart pounding - at last the 13 mile mark. my pacer was pulling away in one last efffort......... around the last corner............"is that a 28 or 29 I see - shit 01:29:50"- I shift my legs into another gear nearly tripping myself up -running on fumes, tank empty. My pacer got through with 2 or 3 seconds to spare with me about 2 seconds on the wrong side - utterly exhausted. I certainly would have finished slower if it hadn't been for this guy (Sean from Milstreet - he was using this race to test his form and decide whether he should sign up for the Cork marathon next month).

While I had not prepared for racing (no racing shoes, warm running tights, no real warmup), the course was hilly and the day warm - a 01:25 to 01:27 half marathon was never on the cards today and while I half joked in my last post about cruising along at 01:30 pace - achieving that pace was the best that I could do and took alot of effort (My HR averaged 184 during the last mile - dangerosly high). My hat goes off to Thomas for getting under 01:28 and although he was dissappointed at getting so close to his PB and not beating it his time, given the terrain and conditions, was very impressive. Well done.

Friday, 2 May 2008


Looks like I am registered for the half in Bantry after all. I found an e-mail confirming my bib no. (444). It would appear that the dog may have eaten my race pack (or it got lost in the post) - so all I am waiting for is confirmation as to whether I can pick up a new race pack on Sunday morning or whether I'll have to travel to Bantry on Saturday night. As it's paid for and given that I was considering going down on Sunday and spectating from my bike I may just run the bloody thing (as opposed to race) - you know the sort of thing - warmup over 2 miles, stretch a little and wait for Thomas and help him to the finish - kidding. So ITB permitting my test run on Sunday may just be somewhere between Glengarriff and Bantry (length unknown) - maybe I could coast along at 01:30 pace.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

15 Miles

The last three day's training consisted of trips to the gym at lunchtime for strengthening and stretching, a few lengths in the pool and into the steam room for some more heat and stretching.
I set out this morning to see if I could run the half marathon distance before deciding to run on Sunday and did indeed manage to complete 15 miles without experiencing and pain in or around my left knee (or anywhere else for that matter). However the presence of every muscle, tendon and ligament on the outside of my knee was the only sensory information coming back to my brain for most of the run (it felt like the only muscle group in my body) and I did experience the onset of some discomfort as early as mile 3 and mile 4 to 6 but it did not develop and went again. Miles 8 and 9 passed without incident and I felt very comfortable (knee wise) from mile 10 through to 13.11 (in 01:36:50) to 14. During the last mile I did experience the onset of discomfort again and reduced the pace to compensate. So while I finished the run without the ITBS pain I can't say it was a typical run - I can't help but feel that I probably altered my gait in some way as a subconscious preventative measure.
While I had no pain during or after the run. As the morning wore on at work (sedentary desk job) my knee got stiff and achy so much so that it hurt when I got up to walk and especially going down stairs (classic ITBS pain). Once warmed up it returned to normal. I went to Letti, my usual sports masseur, this evening (should have taken Michael's and Ewen's advice earlier) and got a overall rub down with particular attention paid to the ITB on the outside of the knee where she found some damaged/knobbly fibres at the joint between the tibia and fibula and worked them over (suggested that I manipulate them with an ice cube at home and apply heat to bring fresh blood to the area and repeat as necessary) . She also noticed bruising further up my leg - legacy of the physio on Monday (I cancelled Friday's repeat visit when I finished with Letti). Letti advised no running tomorrow and said I could run Sunday if I wanted to as it would give some feedback as to whether treatment is working (although I am less inclined to race) In any event it would appear that, while I applied on-line, I do not appear to be registered for the race in Bantry and therefore I don't think it is worth €55 to run 13.1 miles as opposed to race it and give Thomas the opportunity to legitimately win as well. As it is I am losing valuable peak training time for Cork and may not be in shape to run it well (am already thinking of a Plan B - perhaps Berlin in September, although I don't know if entry is straightforward given the high numbers).

Letti gave me the name of a good physio she has used in the past, whose name I also came across on an ITBS forum on the Eagle AC website (cured a girl of ITBS in 2 visits using acupunture). He's a triathlete and so may understand the issue better than a general sports injury physio.

Thur 1st May 15 Miles in 01:51:16 (07:25 pace @ 146 HR) Thomas - the stretch (left leg is the affected leg) 1. Cross the left leg behind the right leg, keeping it straight/rigid and extend it as far to the right as you can go with your left foot resting on its side on the floor . The right leg will be bent at the knee (crouching position). You will probably need to hold onto something. 2. While keeping the left leg straight lower your bum vertically towards the floor and tilt your torso to the right and you should feel a stetch come on the outside of your left leg from your hip down. I hope I've described it right. Otherwise you may have trouble explaining yourself to anyone watching you.