Wednesday, 31 December 2008

2,440 Miles

I ran 27 miles less in 2008 than in 2007 (2,440 versus 2,467) but some of those miles were of a better quality particularly over the middle distance races. My 3 best results for the year were the HM in September, 10k in April and 10 miles in March. It easy to see from my yearly mileage breakdown that these races coincided with the high mileage months. My year was also beset with injury before my 2 marathons in June and October where I lost a total of 6 weeks training at a crucial time - all due to peaking too early. No regrets though I'll take PB's no matter what distance they are over. Happy New Year to All!!!

Monday, 29 December 2008

A bit of everything and a last minute PB

I woke up at 5.30 a.m. on Saturday morning to the sound of Abina rising, an hour later than planned, to set off for the "Next" sale. As she has risen early in the past to support my triathlon endeavors I decided to support her in her shopping endurance challenge and to see what all the fuss was about. So shortly before 6 we set off together on a cold (-2C) and frosty morning for the short trip across town. Just over 2 hours later we returned home with our purchases, having spent over 1 of those hours just queuing to pay. I don't think i'll be repeating the experience anytime soon - I just hadn't put in the training and it showed. As I browsed the aisles at a leisurely pace all around me shoppers moved at a blistering pace laying the shop bare before me - you couldn't help but be impressed.
After a quick cup of coffee Abina went back to bed to get a bit of shut eye before the rest of the house woke and I headed out for my scheduled long run. If only I had headed out at six I would be home by now. It was a beautiful morning for a run though - cold, crisp and sunny with firm footing underneath. My plan was to run for 2.25 hours so I headed into town along the Model Farm Road/College Road - along the south quays - across the river and up the north quays, through Sunday's Well and back out the Straight Road. A few loops around Ballincollig and I was back home for 11 with 17 miles in the bag. Not a bad mornings work.
I followed the run up with breakfast and an hour later I was back on the road with Adrian for a 22.5 mile cycle. As he was feeling energetic he took me over a hilly loop to Crossbarry. Needless to say I slept well on Saturday night.
Not the best preparation for Sunday's "Donough Coughlan Memorial" 5 mile road race in Bandon. My 5 mile PB of 32:06 was set at this race last year and my aim was to beat it and get under 32 minutes. I wasn't quite sure how the race would go as all my running since Amsterdam in October has been at a relatively "slow" aerobic pace with not one interval, fartlek or hill session behind me. Still it would be a good test to see where my current fitness lies. I had a slight concern going into the race as my left calf had begun to tighten up a little at the end of Saturday's 17 miler.
I headed to Bandon with Pat (next door neighbour) and signed up for the race with about 10 minutes to go. My warmup, which consisted of running the 0.5 miles to the start line and a few sprints, was less that perfect. I met up with Diarmuid (aka Miley) shortly before the start. He'd be the one to keep an eye on if I was at the top of my game - we were neck and neck after the first five miles (30:59) of a 10K race last April. I was no where near that level though. The course consisted of a fast downhill/flat first mile, a flat second mile, an uphill third mile and 2 downhill/flat miles to the finish. So my plan was to take it relatively easy until the end of the third uphill mile and see what was left in the tank after that. Once the gun sounded I headed off at a steady pace down the hill against a cold easterly wind over the first 0.5 miles. Diarmuid was already well out in front of me which I would have expected - being a master of the short distances he's never one for the slow start. At the bottom of the hill we turned west with the wind at our backs up through the town past the 1 mile mark in about 6 minutes even. Mile 2 was through the town and out the Clonakilty Road. One or two went past me at this point but I kept my pace even and comfortable, tagging onto one or two runners in front of me before turning south out the Kilbrittain Road past the 2 mile mark. 06:35 was the split - which I only saw post race (I thought I had been faster). We were now running up the only hill which went on for about a mile and while my pace slowed I began to pass other runners while I maintained a comfortable pace. Left again in a easterly direction to the crest of the hill and down to the 3 mile mark (7:10 was the split). I knew I would have to work hard but I was sure I was on target for the sub-32. I don't know why as I had not been keeping a proper track of the time and did not know what pace was required for the final 2 miles. Miles 4 and 5 were very comfortable compared to the uphill mile 3 but I did not take full advantage. With a mile and a half to go I felt a cramp coming on my right calf so I became conscious of not pushing the pace too much and making sure I got to the finish line without suffering the humility of stopping and having to limp home. I passed two runners over the last mile, one being the 2nd female, and felt very comfortable without experiencing any lung bursting pain at all. The last guy I passed came back at me strong over the last 100 yards, timing his strike to perfection and eventhough I sprinted for the finish he managed to pass me before the line. There was no clock at the finish and I forgot to stop my watch so I had to wait an hour for the results. I stopped the Garmin at 33:17 and when I looked at my splits it showed 26:03 for mile 4 and 32:25 for mile 5. However some of that 5th mile was spend catching my breath at the finish. It was looking doubtful though that I would break 32 minutes or even beat my 32:06 PB which would require a 5:57 or 6:03 final mile. As it turned out my official time was 32:03 - a 3 second PB which is not bad considering my lack of speedwork, less than perfect preparation the day before and that fact that I did not (could not) push hard during the last mile(s). My problem was that I had plenty of endurance but no speed. I could have run all day but ask me to up the pace and i wouldn't have known how to. That'll come in time. My warmdown consisted of a 0.7 mile hobble with Diarmuid - my right calf had begun to cease up. It's feeling a bit better today but I think I'll let the recovery run go for another day. Diarmuid ran a very respectable 30:50 - not long now before he breaks the 30 minutes barrier. That's it folks my last PB of the year and conditioning week 6 complete (Run 62.99 miles, Swim Nil, Bike 22.5 miles) Sat 27th Dec 17.09 miles in 02:15:00 (07:54 pace @ 140HR) Sleep: 4.5 hrs 5/10 Legs: 7.5/10 Sun 28th Dec 7 miles with 5 miles in 32:03 (06:24 pace @ 166HR) Sleep: 8.5 hrs 8/10 Legs: 8/10 (before the cramp set in)

Friday, 26 December 2008

I Will Do This

.............. maybe not this next year but soon.
Irelands first long distance triathlon is happening on 23rd August 2009 and while it’s not bestowed with the M Dot (Ironman) prestige it does cover the same 140.6 mile distance and comes with the distinguished title of √Čireman, but only for the winner. Not quite as sexy as Ironman perhaps, but then again sex should be the last thing on your mind as you crawl over the finish line. What’s attractive about the event is that the course is reasonably flat compared other courses in Ireland and the event also hosts a middle distance (70.3 miles) triathlon, which I could do in 2009. I just wouldn’t have the time to train for the full distance. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The weeks running is going pretty well with 10 miles on Monday , 5 on Tuesday and another 10 on the Eagle AC Christmas Eve run over the hilly Viaduct loop. I even managed to get out for a steady 10 mile run yesterday between stuffing the turkey, assembling a mario kart racing track, playing guitar hero on the Wii and driving zero gravity cars and my poor wife up the walls. The run was at a steady ("easy" for Brendan) pace of 07:30 which felt very comfortable throughout - best christmas present I could ask for. I intended getting in my long run (2.25 hrs) in today as I wanted an easy day tomorrow ahead of a 5 mile road race I want to run in Bandon on Sunday but as I got up a little late the run got postponed to later in the day and eventually it was cancelled due to lack of interest. I've now put it back until tomorrow when I have also committed to a 2hr plus cycle with Adrian. I just got interrupted by my good lady wife who informed me that she is getting up at 04:30 a.m. to go to the "Next" sale at 5:00. "Do you want to come?" she says. "Why" I ask "what do we need". "You can get things for €3" was the only response. I may just get up with her and go for that long run afterwards instead. Hope everyone is having a good holiday. Mon 22nd Dec 10.43 miles in 01:21:15 (07:48 pace no HRM) Sleep: 7hrs 7/10 Legs: 7/10 Tue 23rd Dec 5.25 miles in 45:53 (08:44 pace - no HRM) Sleep: 6.5 hrs 7/10 Legs: 6/10 (heavy) Wed 24th Dec 10.68 miles in 01:30:38 (08:29 pace - no HR) - hilly Sleep: 7hrs 7/10 Legs: 7.5/10 Thur 25th Dec 10.04 miles in 01:15:17 (07:30 pace @ 136HR) Sleep: 6/hrs 6.5/10 (Abinas phone alarm at 7 a.m. was the start of thr domino effect that is christmas morning) Legs: 8.5/10 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sunday, 21 December 2008

A feed of pints, barefooting & other stuff

I don't know what stage of the evolutionary ladder I was on when I rose shortly after 8 on Saturday morning after a few pints of the black stuff at the annual Christmas bash and 5 hours sleep. Although thanks to Abina and some plink, plink fizz before I went to bed at 3 a.m. I could have felt an awful lot worse.
9 a.m. was the time for the Eagle AC Christmas run from the Lee rowing club on the Marina. As I was legally unable to drive (probably) I decided to cycle into town with my fivefingers strapped to the crossbar (I don't know where the law stands on blood/alcohol levels and cycling - getting banned would certainly be the end of my triathlon career). Anyway the cycle into town with the wind at my back went off without a hitch.
A group of about 20 had made the journey to the marina and after slipping (struggling) into the fivefingers and a few group photographs we were off on a 6 mile loop along the estuary/old passage railway walk. I decided to run barefoot as I knew the pace would be relatively easy (9 minute pace) and it would either provide a topic of conversation or provoke some funny stares (who's the langer in the poncy shoes). I ran most of the 6 miles with Jane and Donal McGrath. Jane is a prolific marathoner and triathlete and has just completed her second ironman in Florida (under 12 hours and all). It was very interesting talking to her about her training. She's off to Valencia for a marathon in 8 weeks and after that she has targeted the two oceans marathon (56k) in her native South Africa.
My feet felt reasonably comfortable over the 6 miles which averaged at about 08:45 pace. A few runners, led by John Desmond, were heading out on another loop to get 12+ miles for the day. I had the option of changing into my runners before setting out but I decided to keep going as I felt fine - this was going to be my longest barefoot run (my longest to-date was a 10 miler on Wednesday).
6 in all headed out on the second loop which took us out through Ballinlough to the Skehard Road before turning onto a gravel/stone trail for about 0.25 miles at the 10 mile mark. My stride up to that point had been quite good and while I may have felt some discomfort on the balls of my feet it was easily bearable. Now I was hopping all over the place as if running on hot coals as sharp stones pushed up through the thin rubber soles. I was glad when we returned to the macadam path at the mahon footbrigde although for the last 2 miles the ball of my left foot was sore. There was 4 of us left at this stage - John D and Pat Twomey setting the pace at the front and Denis Looney and I taking up the rear. The last mile was just over 07:30 pace. A quick stretch and change of shoes and I was on my bike for the 9+ mile cycle home. I dumped the bike at home and ran the 1.3 miles to collect my car from the Oriel Hotel, where I had left it the night before. Not a bad day considering.
All in all I covered about 14 miles in the 2 runs (12.69 + 1.38) not quite getting the 2.25 hour planned "long run" in. All my runs this week have been a bit jumbled. The long runs were short and the short runs long. Monday to Saturday went something like 10, 10, 10, 11.5, 2.5 and 14 - the only thing varying the monotony from day to day was the pace. What's more significant is that 22.6 of those miles were run barefoot - certainly a record. "Would you run a marathon in them" I was asked by John D yesterday and funnily enough this very question had been on my mind during the week. My ten miler on Wednesday was at a very comfortable 09:01 pace which I felt I could have maintained forever (famous last words of a first time marathoner I know) so while I probably could run a barefoot marathon I don't know if I would as I am more results driven at the moment and I don't think running barefoot would give me my best marathon (yet!).
The two main reasons for barefoot running are that I enjoy it and I feel it helps somewhat in improving my stride by preventing heel striking. The pain I felt yesterday is largely gone and should be expected as my feet are not used to getting a full workout as they have relied on the protection and help of heavily cushioned shoes to do the work for them heretofore. I have read a few articles on barefoot running and while interesting barefoot runners are considered as bit "out there" - one of the barefoot running links I clicked on was blocked by my internet service provider which asked me did I want to proceed as it came under the heading "occult". Funny the things that are preceived as inappropriate on the net.
It's been a busy week on the homefront with 2 school concerts to attend and my eldest, Keevsa, turning 16 on Wednesday - seems like only yesterday and all that. She's been very industrious now that she has reached the legal working age and started a part-time Christmas job on Thursday which is a feat in itself given the recession we're in.
Hope everyone has a pleasant Christmas.
Mon 15th Dec
a.m. 10.04 miles in 01:25:00 (08:28 pace @ 127HR)
p.m. 2.5 miles in 19:50 (08:25 pace - treadmill)
Sleep; 7hrs 7/10
Legs: 7/10
Tue 16th Dec
p.m. 10.01 miles in 01:18:02 (07:48 pace @ 139HR)
Sleep: 8hrs 8/10
Legs: 7/10
Wed 17th Dec
10.05 miles in 01:30:35 (09:01 pace @ 121HR) Barefoot
Sleep:6.5hrs 7/10
Legs 8/10
Thur 18th Dec
11.49 miles in 01:33:20 (08:07 pace @ 136HR)
Sleep: 6hrs 6.5/10
Legs: 7/10
Fri 19th Dec
2.5 miles in 19:50 (07:56 pace - treadmill)
Sleep: 8hrs 8/10
Legs: 7.5/10
Sat 20th Dec
12.69 miles in 01:47:38 (08:29 pace @ 128HR)
1.38 miles in 10:54 (07:53 pace @ 140HR)
Sleep: 5hrs 6/10
Legs; 7/10
Sun 21st Dec
Complete rest day
Conditioning week 5 - Run 60.6 miles, Bike 18.3 miles, Swim 1.5k.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

The Joker

.............. in the family on spotting my blog has set up an alternative site to chart his comedy career and has promised to post every time that I do - so it should be fun.
While all the indications from Tuesdays MAF test are very positive it really only indicates how low my normal aerobic pace had fallen to after the marathon and how long it took to get back on track - I obviously needed the rest and recuperation and as long as I was patient my body would tell me when it was ready for a more challenging pace.
Another "barefoot" run on Wednesday over 8.5+ miles went without a hitch and while the pace was easy the average HR at 126 was a welcome surprise. With the week that was in it (well really I was too lazy to get up early enough) I only managed another 8.5 miles (with full cushioning this time) before Saturday mornings long run over 02:15. I've still a long way to go to get my endurance back as my legs felt heavy and achy over the last few miles - plenty of time.
Another rest day today saw me complete conditioning week 4 with 54.55 miles in the bag (swim - 1,500 sluggish meters this morning, bike - zero)
Wed 10th Dec
8.72 miles in 01:13:05 (08:23 pace @ 126HR) - barefoot
Sleep: 7 hrs 7/10
Legs: 7.5/10
Fri 12th Dec
8.58 miles in 01:08:50 (08:01 pace @ 135 HR)
Sleep: 8 hrs 7.5/10
Legs 7.5/10
Sat 13th Dec
16.58 miles in 02:15:00 (08:09 pace @ 139 HR)
Sleep: 7.5hrs 7/10
Legs: 6.5/10

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

MAF Test #2 - Expected improvement

My 10.5 mile run yesterday was the first clear indication that I was turning the corner in relation to recovery from Amsterdam. While the effort felt a bit strenuous at the start despite the relatively low heart rate it became more comfortable as the miles went by and I maintained a comfortable sub 8-minute pace for a sub-143 HR. All in all a 07:36 pace for a 139 average HR. Therefore I knew to expect a big improvement heading into this evenings MAF test which compares to the one 3 weeks ago as follows:- The only negative thing about my running this week was the embarrassment of falling off the treadmill yesterday morning at the gym. I'm not used to treadmill running so early in the morning and a lapse in concentration saw me stumble and while this would not have resulted in a fall had I been on the road in this case the road kept moving at the same pace under me and I ended up on my knees at the back of the machine with my hands instinctively stretched out before me trying to hang on to something. The words "thou shalt not have false gods before thee" came to mind as I knelt in reverence before the treadmill (there may be some truth to that ). The skin burns around my knees and a slight twinge in my back (nothing serious) were the only reminders today (A new injury to add to my list) Mon 8th Dec a.m. 2.5 miles in 20:30 (08:12 pace) treadmill pm. 10.57 miles in 01:20:25 (07:36 pace @ 139 HR) Legs: 7/10 Sleep: 7 hrs 7.5/10 Tue 9th Dec 7.59 miles in 58:20 (07:41 pace @ 138 HR) with 5 evaluation miles @ 143HR 07:12 to 07:33 pace. Legs: 8/10 Sleep: 8.5 hrs 8/10

Sunday, 7 December 2008

I should have cut my toenails.....

.........Before I headed out on Friday mornings run in these. I haven't used them since January and I don't know why as the 5 mile run on roads and footpaths went very well. In fact it felt great to run without the feeling of having my feet cocooned - the only niggle being the throb in the big toe of my right foot after the run - a nail clippers will sort that out in the future. While I know that barefoot running leads to a more compact (not necessarily shorter) stride which reduces injury risk associated with heel striking I still heel strike when racing as do most people as private has recently noted. However while not concerned i'll continue to keep heel striking to a minimum during training, if only to reduce injury risk. You cannot heel strike when running barefoot (without incurring immediate pain) and therefore heel striking is not part of our natural stride but only a product of cushioned shoes (like the beer gut is the product of a modern diet). Saturdays long run was over the hilly Viaduct loop with Eagle AC. Seven in all braved the freezing fog for the 0750 start from the Farm although I found out later that we were shadowed by a group of six who started out 10 minutes later (mix-up as to the exact location of the starting point - wouldn't normally be a problem except for the fog). I was the only one dressed for summer with bare legs and arms, brrr! - I shouldn't have closed the front door behind me without checking the air temperature first and making sure I could get back in. Better to grin and bear it that face the wrath of the wakened dead. It didn't turn out too bad once I warmed up. The run went quite well and the time passed quite quickly. I allowed my HR to go above the self imposed aerobic limit of 143 so as to get up the hill without falling behind (max HR of 153). A 10.3 mile loop brought us back to the Farm for about 0915. However I stayed on with John Desmond who was leading another group on a 6 miler at 0930. I wanted to get 2hrs 15 mins in and stayed with the 2nd group for a few miles before heading back. I covered 16.2 miles in all at an average 08:25 pace and 134HR. A running rest day today left me with 58.5 miles for conditioning week 3 (swim 1,500m cycle 23 miles today @ 17.2 MPH avg) Fri 5th Dec a.m. 5.3 miles in 43:28 (08:12 pace @ 142HR) HR 158 & 154 for 1st 2 miles before reducing to 132 for 3rd mile - only a problem on some runs) p.m. 2.5 miles in 20:27 (08:11 pace) treadmill Sleep: 6.5 hrs 7/10 Legs: 8/10 if you include the feet. Sat 6th Dec 16.26 Miles in 02:17:00 (08:26 pace @ 134 HR) Sleep: 7 hrs 7/10 Legs: 7/10

Thursday, 4 December 2008


My brother Donogh sent me an e-mail this week:-
Subject: Solo Run You've been busy. He was back from the UK today for a few days. "You're an awful blogger" he said. He neither meant "dreadful" or "awe inspiring" (I hope) but the less common known meaning of "prolific" as in definition number 4. here Apparently his friend Diarmaid aka Miley, who ran a few races with me, had spotted my blog ..."he's even writing about me and how I got "chicked" in a race n all"......."he's getting very technical".........." was thinking of joining Eagle AC myself" etc. etc. Well Miley I hope the wedding plans are going well and that you are getting some good quality runs in for the 2009 racing season in Cork. If you want to inquire informally about joining Eagle just turn up at the CIT track at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays or Thursdays or send me an e-mail. This week..... I've managed to get a few decent mid-distance runs in this week. On Tuesday evening I had to pick Keevsa up from the Dublin train at 8:30 (school tour) and as it was raining I gave the track a miss and headed into town early instead, parking by the train station and got a decent run in - heading out to the Marina along the old unlit Monkstown/Passage rail line before turning back at the Skehard Road underpass as there was a bonfire set in the middle of it - well it was a wet old night and the local inhabitants needed a bit of warmth. However I wasn't feeling the best as my left hamstring and Achilles were quite tight and my right ankle was paining slightly (nothing serious just enough to take some of the enjoyment out of the run). Still I got just over 11.5 miles in before the train arrived. A work enforced day off on Wednesday and a good nights sleep left me feeling much better for todays early morning run over more or less the same distance. Rest is the key to recovery.
Monday 1st Dec a.m. 8.62 Miles in 01:10:25 (08:10 pace @ 133 HR) p.m. 2.5 Miles in 20:27 (08:11 pace) Treadmill Legs: 7/10 Sleep: 7 hrs 7/10 Tuesday 2nd Dec p.m. 11.63 Miles in 01:39:08 (08:31 pace @ 137 HR) Legs: 6/10 Sleep 7 hrs 7/10 Thur 4th Dec 11.69 miles in 01:37:02 (08:17 pace @ 137 HR) Legs 7/10 Sleep: 7 Hrs 7.5/10