Sunday, 29 June 2008

103.8 Miles.

Swim - 2.1 Miles. Getting better with taking off the wet suit - learnt a few tricks like letting more water in through the neck before finishing, kicking harder before getting out of the water to bring blood back into the legs to avoid that jelly leg feeling when switching from horizontal to vertical. Did my longest session in the sea at Inchydoney today - froze my head off again before acclimatising, i'll have to getting a woolly hat (toque to those in the know) I swam for about 32 minutes (i'll give myself 1,600m for that - left Mr Garmin on dry land).

Bike - 67.5 Miles. 3 x 21.5 mile outings on Monday, Thursday and Saturday varying in time from 01:10:22 to 01:14:08 and 4 miles in the gym on Tuesday. The wind certainly is a cyclists enemy- can really slow you down. Apart for spending time in the saddle the 3 other core skills required for cycling are:-

(i) uphills - just a matter of getting used to it've guessed it cycling hills repeatedly. The 21.5 mile route i've been doing for the last number of weeks has 2 hills varying from 1.4 to 1.9 miles in length with grades varying from 3% to 6% (average closer to 4%). I may do a reconnaissance mission during the week to see/cycle the actual route i'll be doing next Saturday.

(ii) downhills - in other words speed. This is where the chicken in me comes out. On Monday's outing with Adrian the downhill after the 2nd hill had the wind behind me and I got up to about 33.5 MPH before braking. Adrian got to about 37 MPH before his inner chicken came out. I assume it's something you get used to.

(iii) cornering - I'm assuming downhill cornering - again chicken territory. Leaning over to one side on a thin strip of rubber at 25+ MPH on uneven surfaces is not where I go for kicks but for some reason I have even less confidence when cornering to the left (even in a car) - must be deep routed in my subconscious (trauma of birth maybe - don't go left!!!! I said don't go left). I understand that the route for the tri has a couple of hair pin bends - better check those brakes.

Run 34.2 Miles. All runs less than 10 miles. Still haven't gone into double digits since Cork.
Mon 23rd - am 5.34 Miles in 41:22 (07:45 pace @ 135 HR)
Tue 24th - Gym 10 min on the treadmill after the Bike (1.2 miles)
Wed 25th - 8.61 Miles in 01:07:35 (07:51 pace @ 134 HR)
Thu 26th - 1.9 miles after the cycle in 15:47 (08:16 pace @ 130 HR)
Fri 27th - 8.84 miles in 01:04:23 (07:17 pace @ 148 HR)
Sun 29th - 8.33 Miles in 01:03:57 (07:41 pace @ No HRM)

That's it folks, next stop Baltimore

Marathon Plan

With only 16 weeks to Amsterdam I will be starting my programme this week starting on week 9 of my previous 24 week "Brain Training" programme. That's good - i've just cut out 8 weeks of hills and start my speed sessions on the track on Tuesday. Who needs hills anyway - not required for Amsterdam. I'll have to change that tactic for the build up to Boston though (hear I am talking myself into it - Conservation between Abina, my mom and I earlier today goes something like this:-

Grellan: "Mom when are you going to Greece"
Mom: "September"
Grellan (daydreaming) "I wouldn't mind going"
Abina "What are you on about you're already going to Amsterdam and Boston, that should be enough"

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Less Is More.........

Less training this week as I couldn't fit in what I had intended to do.
An unexpected late night on Thursday saw me get in the door at 0620 on Friday morning (I met a guy walking his dog that I usually meet on my early morning runs).
My mother stayed on Saturday night after I collected her from a flight from London where she spent a few days with my brother.
After dropping my mother home today I picked up Stephanie, our French Au-pair for the summer, from the Paris flight. The only other Au-pair we had was over 10 years ago - Jennifer from upstate New York - now a family friend living in Boston (now there's a thought). I guess that answers Bill and Marc's recent question - the only problem is the whole family would like to go, which is more of a logistic (middle of school term etc.) and financial (6 versus 1) challenge. Anyway, where was I......
I still got a few good sessions in though - in preparation of my upcoming Tri (only 2 weeks away)
Run 21.6 Miles (still low but I'll ramp up soon enough - getting a bit itchy as Thomas has one week down already and his marathon is 2 weeks after mine.
Bike 46.5 miles - Meant to get more in but am getting more comfortable. A double puncture on Thursday evening cut my scheduled 21.5 mile run short by about 5 miles.
Swim 1.1 miles - (1,300m approx in the lake with Jim on Friday evening - good swim despite the 2 hours sleep I got the morning before and 500m in the pool on Saturday afternoon in between teaching Safan tumble turns) Open water swimming in a wet suit appears to be faster, and is certainly more enjoyable, than lane swimming in the pool - although a lake swim with one other person is totally different from a sea swim with 200 others vying for the same spot while you try to look over the swell to spot where you have to go.
My one brick workout was on Saturday morning (light rain throughout) where I covered 21.46 miles on the bike in 01:08:23 (18.8 MPH @ 143 HR) followed by a 5.25 mile run in 37:21 (07:05 pace @ 153 HR) - I was completely knackered afterwards - despite the feeling of jelly legs after the cycle my first mile was marginally under 7 minute pace - I still felt like I was running in slow motion at the start though (may have something to do with the high cadence on the bike). I kept the pace up pretty much for the rest of the run but got progressively weaker as I neared the finish. The 07:05 pace average would just about give me a 44 minute 10k. I would like to get 42:xx if I could (may be a pipe dream as the course is hilly).
Early prediction is in the range 02:45 to 03:00 finish. 02:45 would be great but I would be happy with under the 3 hours (I won't give the splits as I may find it hard to justify them afterwards)

Monday, 16 June 2008

Weekly Update

Now that I'm training for three sports I haven't much time left for anything else - like blogging. Well not quite, just busy at home and work. The weekly training included about 2 miles of swimming, 15.78 miles of running and 69.7 miles of cycling as follows:- Mon 9th June Day Off Tue 10th June Run 5.25 Miles in 41:42 (7:57 Pace @ No HRM) Wed 11th June Swim 2km in the pool - 80 lengths I haven't done one of those in a couple of years and probably just once. I passed 1,500m in 30:30 and upped the pace slightly over the last 500m to come in at 40:05 for the 2km (32:15 per mile or 20:03 per Km). Thur 12th June Cycle & Run brick Cycle 11.7 Miles in 37:55 (18.5 MPH @ 132 HR) Run 5.24 Miles in 41:54 (07:49 @ 141 HR) - legs a bit like jelly at the start - felt like I was running in slow motion despite the fact that it was sub-8 minute pace. Fri 13th June Cycle 35.5 Miles in 01:51:00 (19.2 MPH @ No HRM) hard effort with Adrian and Robert from work. Overall time was actually 01:56:55 but we took a 5 minute break after 18 odd miles. It's easier to push the pace when cycling with others. Sat 14th June am 5.29 Mile run in the park in 41:59 (07:56 Pace @ 131 HR) Took the kids to Inchydoney (where I grew up) for the day (my Dad's month's mind) and went for a swim in the afternoon to try out my new wetsuit. Never swam in one before (dived alright though - years ago). The water was fairly cold at the start as I could only keep my head down for a few seconds before my brain began to freeze but after a while I acclimatised and covered about 500m in all before returning to the kids. My biggest difficulty was removing the damn suit afterwards. Sun 15th June am - cycle 22.5 miles with Adrian with some reasonable hills thrown in - 01:21:49 (16.5 MPH & 137 HR) pm - swim in Inniscarra lake with tri-athlete neighbours James and Eamon - much warmer that the sea and perfectly calm - covered about 700m across and back the lake - beautiful evening and leisurely swim - no timing. I'd want to practice taking off the suit though - the lads were dressed by the time I got the suit off (could lose serious time in T1) I started this week with a more traditional early moring run

Mon 16th June

Run 8.59 Miles in 01:06:48 (07:47 pace @ 140HR)

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

I'll Tri Anything Once

Not much to report on the running front as I promised myself a months rest after the Cork Marathon to recover from recent injuries. Well a month is a bit long - maybe 2 weeks.
I did run 5 miles on Monday (imagine, no run for 7 days - longest interval since I started running) and while I felt good throughout, my calves were tight afterwards and I had an ache in my left IT Band about two hours after while sitting at my desk (A quick walk around soon sorted it out though).
While I haven't been running, I have managed to cycle about 70 miles in 3 outings over the last week. I was (un)fortunate enough to celebrate my post Marathon recovery beers with some tri-athletes who had taken part in the Marathon relay and who told me of an upcoming triathalon they were participating in with some places still left. I was carried away with the enthusiasm and since I can swim and cycle - like riding a bicycle :) - the following morning the application was sent off and as a result on July 5th I have to swim 1,500m, cycle 45k and run 10k. I had considered entering a Tri at the end of July but "You just couldn't wait could you".
Perhaps I should have read some on the course description first -
"Not one for the faint hearted and definitely one to test the strongest tri-althlete".
To add to the anxiety I got an e-mail from the race orgainsers confirming my entry and stating that:
"Hope you are all training hard cos this course will hurt!"
There's no time for a training programme other that a quick prayer before the start - so I am just doing some base training on the bike and I bought a wetsuit as it is compulsory for the swim (no one can tell me why). There's all sorts of rules relating to drafting, nudity etc that can cost you penalty minutes - somehow running appears far less complicated.
Mon 9th June
5.25 Miles in 41:44 (07:57 pace, no HRM)

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Cork City Marathon

The long version.

I Lined up with Pat and Thomas at the start line with 10 minutes to go. Thomas and I had completed a dynamic stretching warm up taken from Matt Fitzgerald's "Brain Training for Runners" to the amusement of those around us. The buzz was good and the cloud cover kept us cool. We were a few rows back from the front and well positioned for the start (No weaving in and out over the first few miles like last year).

Soon enough the gun went off and we all charged down Patrick Street, Pat and I trying to keep the pace - Over the first mile and a half I kept pointing out to Pat that the pace was a bit fast as Thomas was only a few steps ahead on his 07:10 target pace. I must admit the pace did feel very comfortable. The first mile was a lap of the city centre before running west along the south quays across the north gate bridge and back east along the north quays (we could see the leaders across the river) The first five miles were flat and were churned out without any difficulty.

36:57 in 07:25, 07:13, 07:20, 07:24 & 07:35 with the HR remaining below 154.

Past the first relay changeover at Mile 5.2. New batch of fresh runners running past eager to be on their way. Brendan from work flew past at sub- 6 minute pace. I met up with a guy who had run the Belfast Marathon 4 weeks earlier in 03:30 and was now aiming for 3:20 - so we chatted for a few miles - good to pass the time away. I eventually lost him around mile 9. Miles 5 to 10 saw us run along the Glanmire road and through the Jack Lynch Tunnel under the river Lee. This is where my Garmin appeared to lose about 02:30 off the stopwatch as mile 8 registered as 04:50 (not the 03:38 in my previous post). Still feeling good as we rose out of the tunnel (first real incline) and along the south ring road to Mahon (another incline up the slip road). I was passed at this stage by Seanie Barrett (the guy who pulled me home to get the 1:30 in the Bantry half marathon 4 weeks ago) we chatted for a while and he was on his way (although I could still see him ahead of me up to mile 17.5). This was turning out to be a very sociable marathon. Perhaps I may have done better if I had socialised less and concentrated more on running. Approaching the 2nd relay change over at mile 10.5 Pat was struggling to keep pace.

Miles 6 to 10

36:52 in 07:10, 07:31, 07:36, 07:28 & 07:07 with HR rising gradually from 151 to 160.

Shortly after the 2nd relay changeover I met up with Adrian and "Puds" who were cycling the course encouraging friends and offering support. Puds offered me his cap to keep the sun off my head as I had forgotten to bring mine. They also provided assistance to Pat in the form of "deepheat".

Mile 12 and 13 brought us past Blackrock Castle and along the Marina where I got chatting with this guy who said it was his first marathon and he'd be happy to get under 4 hours. I told him he was doing very well as I was on sub 3:20 pace but he reassured me that he was unlikely to maintain that pace for the entire run. He did manage to keep 10 to 20 yards ahead of me until about mile 17.5 (don't know where he finished).
I crossed under the halfway clock at 01:36:42 (01:36:36 chip) nearly a minute ahead of 07:30 pace and, even split permitting, heading for sub 03:14.
Past the third relay changeover at mile 13.9. I really felt uplifted running through the changeover points (especially the later ones) as the applause from those waiting for their team member to arrive felt great. The next mile took us past City Hall and out the south link road past mile 15 and on to Turners Cross. I continued to run well with no niggles in the legs although the course was now proving to be slightly more challenging - at little undulating on less than fresh legs (although no sign of calf cramps or IT band pain).
Miles 11 to 15
36:44 in 07:09, 07:25, 07:30 & 14:40 (07:20/mile) missed the 14 mile split as still euphoric after passing relay changeover @ 13.9 miles - HR 160 to 162 (well in control)
Miles 16 to 20 were the most undulating, taking us past the Lough to the Model Farm Road (Familiar training run territory). My pace did drop over these miles pushing marginally above 07:30 per mile. Just after Mile 18 I came across John Meade, one half of a three legged ensemble (legs connected by about a foot of nylon rope and arms locked together). I came alongside John and told him I always though he was a mad Bas*ard and wished him luck. It's hard enough to keep the head and legs on pace for 26.2 miles, but to be locked to someone else's head and legs for over 3 hours must be torture. I think all prospective couples should do it before they get married. Just before the 20 mile mark we passed the last relay changeover point and again I was lifted by the crowd applauding. The 20 mile clock showed 02:28:33 (02:28:27 watch) as I passed it. 1.5 minutes ahead of 07:30 target - this margin was slowly whittled away over the last 10k.
Miles 16 to 20
37:54 in 07:34, 07:34, 07:32 & 15:14 (07:37/mile) missed 19 mile split - HR 164 to 167 (rising but manageable)
The last 10k - I had thought before the marathon that if I got to the 20 mile mark in 02:30 I could do the last 10k in 45:00 to get me home in 03:15. I obviously hadn't done the math to check it out as it would require 07:15 miles. Now that I was on the final 10k I was revising the time towards 48:00 and beyond but still reasonably confident that I would make my sub-3:20. I was taking nothing for granted though remembering my last marathon in Dublin where a 2:29:30 at 20 miles gave me a 3:22 finish (blew up over the last 4 mile finishing on over 9 minute pace). So I was not inclined to up my pace just to squeeze out a few more minutes and risk blowing a BQ opportunity.
Mile 21 was a gradual climb out the Model Farm Road. I was passed by two ladies along this section - both of whom finished over 3 minutes ahead of me. I was grateful to the guy with the garden hose and sprinkler along this section and Just before the 21 mile mark at the top of the last hill on the course Safan, my daughter was waiting to cheer me on. She had cycled the 3 miles from home waited for a hour just so that she could high five me for a split second and then I was gone. What a girl.
While the remainder of the course was downhill and flat it was the most challenging as fatigue began to set in and the mind games began. Poor Adrian cycling beside me couldn't say anything that would help and anytime he spoke I felt compelled to reply. I think i'm the type that likes to retreat into my mind at time like this and cease communication with the outside world. Miles 23 and 24 were along the Straight (never ending) Road. I just wanted it over. However the pain and anguish was not as bad as it could have been given my poor preparation (Last 20+ mile long run was a 21 miler 8 weeks before). Finally I was turning onto the Western Road with 2 miles left still maintaining form and keeping reasonable pace. I don't remember much about these last miles expect that when I finally turned onto the North Mall at Mile 25.5 I could smell the finish line. I was passed by one or two relay and marathon runners over this last mile but did not care. I was delighted turning on to Patricks Street for the last 200 yards amid cheering crowds and when I saw the clock at 03:17:xx I knew my mission was accomplished and unlike previous marathons I was already looking forward to my next build-up and new marathon PB. The attached photo was taken with half a mile to go (chewing wine gums and utterly knackered - a perfect weekend) The other photo captures the three legged marathon world record holders at the same spot.
Mile 21 to 26.22 (10k)

48:38 in 07:50, 07:39, 07:56, 07:32 & 17:41 for 2.2 Miles (07:58 pace) - HR 167 to 171.

Pat came in in a very impressive 03:21:42 for a 19 minute PB, although he must have pushed himself to the limit as he had to be wheelchaired off (just a precaution as he was very weak crossing the line and had to lean on a steward).
Richard likewise PB'd by almost 25 minutes in 03:35:14 - well done. Looks like there'll be more PB's there.
While I had a positive split of 03:53 (01:36:36 to 01:40:29) the half marathon splits in the results shown that I was passed by 3 and passed 35 between the halfway mark and the finish line (although some runners I passed passed me back towards the finish - e.g the guy who came in in front of me passed me out in the last mile but had a half marathon split of 01:27:24 - he must have stopped for a pint).


While my calves were very stiff after the race and still remain a little stiff I have no issues walking down the stairs. However I will resist running for a week instead opting for the bike completing 18 miles after work today to loosen out the legs. I think my ITBS must be on the mend as I did not feel a thing on monday and if a 26.2 mile run does not flush out injuries I don't know what does.

On a final note my chances of running in Berlin in September have been quashed as registration is closed (they reached the limit - he who hesitates and all that) S0..... I think my sights are setting on the ING Amsterdam Marathon on 19th October.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Boston Bound

03:17:05 is my chip time from todays Cork City Marathon which finally gets me past the post for Boston Qualification - so my primary target was achieved. To be quite honest I had no more ambitious target in mind although when I could still see Thomas 100m ahead at mile 5 Hmm! - glad I didn't pursue ---- better off in the long run ('scuse the pun). Although I did have in mind beating my first marathon time of 03:47:08 by half and hour ( the ultimate would be to better it by a full hour - i'm half way there although the other half could be 10 time tougher to achieve) If i'd pushed a bit harder over the last 10k I may have got under 03:15 but a least I am thankful that my lack of endurance and tempo training over the last six weeks did not make for an unbearable final 10k (that's not to say it was a walk in the park either I certainly slowed down and no amount of motivation could get me to change the pace - I knew I was heading for sub 3:20 and that was enough for me). Briefly (don't have much time) Thomas stayed over last night (good to keep an eye on the competition) and Abina gave us a big feed of salad, potatoes, rice and the traditional pasta. When she heard of Thomas's finish time today she claimed that it was her pasta that did it for him. The race started in ideal conditions as the sun managed to hold off for the first hour. While I was expecting to lose satellite contact for the Garmin in the 600m road tunnel at mile 7 my stopwatch also paused so much so that when I exited the tunnel the satellites kicked in to give me a 3:38 mile (world record pace - and in a marathon an all). I was very comfortable over the first half (01:36:5x - 03:14 pace) and generally maintained pace as far as mile 20 (02:28:4x - 03:15 pace) slowed for the long drag to mile 21 and progressively tired over the last 4 miles but kept the pace below 08:00 to give an overall pace of 07:31 (not far off my target opening pace of 07:25 to 07:30). Results put me 110th overall out of a field of 1336 finishers approx. Well done to Thomas, Pat and Richard who all Pb'd on the day. Well done also to Brendan, a colleague at work, who finished in the 6th fastest relay team in 02:48:13. One final note is that the world record for a three legged marathon was supposedly achieved today in a time of 03:25:20. One and a half of those legs belonged to an ex colleague of mine, John Meade.