Tuesday, 31 March 2009

The Best Time of the Week is......................

....................when I am driving home from Tuesday's track session with my legs pleasantly knackered and knowing that it's all over for another week. Don't get me wrong I love the track - there's nothing like hard work to give you a feeling of achievement (although I prefer the feeling to the hard work bit). This evening I was repeating the 1000's I did last week. I had thought briefly of increasing the number from 6 to 7 but decided to see how the first rep would go and if I was closer to 3:45 (as opposed to last weeks 3:50+) I would sacrifice number for speed. The first 1000 came in at 3:42 - "A bit fast - I hope I don't blow the remaining 1000s but if I can maintain this pace I won't do more than 6 reps". The next 2 were marginally slower in 3:43 & 3:44 as I began to feel the effort. With one eye on tomorrow's long run and not wanting to sacrifice speed for distance I decided to cap the intervals at 5 and brought in the remaining 2 in 3:44 & 3:43, which I was happy with as I had kept below 3:45 which was the target pace for my 800's (3:00) a few weeks ago. 5 km is enough speedwork for me at this stage of my Marathon buildup - I remember this time last year I peaked at the UCC 10k (on next Sunday) before picking up an injury a few weeks later. With an view to keeping the easy days "easy" yesterdays run was at a very comfortable 8:29 pace with an average HR of 119 - no point in pushing pace for the sake of it. I'll try to stick to this "easy" running for 2 days a week, 2 reserved for speedwork, 2 for endurance and the remaining day for rest/x training. Best of Luck to Richard running in Rotterdam this weekend - All things going well I predict a PB by 6 minutes (No pressure Richard - enjoy). Also best of Luck to Peter in the Paris Marathon - Peter, whom I know through work, called me out of the blue last week to meet and get some advice on tactics for running a marathon. "Is this a once off or will you do the distance again" I asked him when we met up. "oh I'll keep going" he said "I used to run when I was young. I'm a 4:01 1500m man. Just short of scholarship to the US material". I sat there in shock for a second "Christ and this guy is asking ME for advice" I thought. Then again a marathon requires different skills I suppose. Mon 30th March a.m. 11.09 miles in 01:33:54 (08:29 pace @ 119 HR)
p.m. 2.5 miles in 19:50 (07:56 pace) Treadmill Tue 31st March 6.42 miles in 50:24 (07:51 pace @ 136 HR) with 5 x 1000m in 3:42/43/44/44/43. March 2009 (Run 241.3 miles, Bike 138.1 miles, Swim 9,000m)

Sunday, 29 March 2009


I finished the week with over 70 miles in the bag - the highest weekly total this year. I had an easy 10 miler on Friday and a lie in until 06:30 on Saturday morning when I rose to join the Eagle AC scheduled long run from Atlantic Pond out to Passage and Monkstown and back over the hill to Rochestown and the estuary walk to Blackrock Castle before returning to the car. I wasn't sure of the start time - it was either 15 minutes before or after 7. I aimed for the middle and when I arrived at 7 and saw no cars I went for a 2 mile warmup. Sure enough when I got back the run was about to get underway. There was a small enough crowd (6 in all). The route is almost flat except for the single hill in the middle that rises about 400 feet over a mile and a half or so. My aim was to push this at a "comfortably hard" effort - I had no problem with the hard bit but the comfortable feeling began to fade after the first 100 yards - oh well isn't it supposed to be all about embracing the pain. I had a much needed rest at the top while waiting for those that hadn't scheduled in the "hard hill" bit. I suppose I should have told them of my intentions before blasting off. Two of the group had run the Connemara marathon and Half marathon last weekend and appeared to be fully recovered, as they were flying along. The return leg along the estuary walk to Blackrock Castle was against a very strong headwind, which made the last few miles tough. Today was a running rest day, although I got 2 hours on the bike before heading with the 2 youngest to Carrignavar for the County Novice and Masters Road Championships - great to watch for a change. We arrived about 10 minutes into the mens race (4miles) walked up the hill from the finish line through the village and watched the runners come in. Brendan obviously got over his "potential disaster" as he past us flying - although the look on his face showed that he was far from comfortable. John, who ran 16 miles with me yesterday was flying, finishing in 23:3x. Who knows what time he would have pulled off if he had rested yesterday. On an aside, he suggested during yesterday's run that the Dingle Marathon on September 12th would be a great training long run for the build-up to Dublin on October 26th, provided we took it easy and enjoyed the spectacular scenery of the Dingle peninsula (roads closed) - sounds like the sort of crazy plan that I would go for!
Fri 27th March
10 miles in 01:19:51 (07:59 pace @ 130 HR)
Sat 28th March
18 miles in 02:21:03 (07:50 pace @ 135 HR)
Transition week 8 (Run 75.1 miles, Bike 34.8 miles, Swim 3000m)

Thursday, 26 March 2009

I've Got It Bad!

After last Sunday's race Abina was chatting to the man in the car parked next to ours.
"How much running does your husband do, 1 or 2 days a week?" he asked.
"Most days he's up at half past five for a run and goes for a swim at lunchtime" was the response.
"He''s got it bad alright" The guy replied. I could picture them both discussing my affliction as if my condition was so far advanced that there was no hope for me.
There have been a a few moments during the week where I have thought that i'm not a rational human being and I wish someone would put a stop to my madness. But then I read of those that appear to be more afflicted than me and I somehow rationalise that maybe I am normal after all.
Sunday's results put me 50th out of 80 runners - I did say the field was fast. However despite my efforts Eagle managed to get the third team spot with the 4 club mates that came in in front of me. The pictures below show the clam before the storm and the tempest within with 400m to go ( The pain I was feeling is well hidden).
"Dad, how come you were so exhausted after running 4 miles and yet you run 20 miles at home, stretch a little and then eat your breakfast as if it's just another day?" Keevsa asked me afterwards. Pacing is a difficult concept to explain because 20 is still much greater than 4 no matter what way you look at it.
Some good advice on marathon running was dispelled from some of the veteran Eagle runners:-
  • To race a good marathon you should have 10,000 miles in your legs (i've some way to go)
  • A mid-week long run in addition to the weekend long run will improve endurance
  • Don't race Cork to Cobh (15mile) 2 or even 3 weeks before a marathon
Despite my stiff legs on Sunday evening my recovery run on Monday morning went quite well especially during the later miles.
Tuesday evening was track day and as I arrived I planned 6 x 1000m as I should be moving to longer intervals for the marathon buildup (i'm still making it up as I go along - may be better than religiously following someone else's schedule provided I follow a few basic rules wrt speedwork, recovery etc.)
. I had planned on extending the 3 minute 800m pace I did last time to 3:45 for the 1000's but I knew this was not going to happen after my first lap and I revised my expectation downwards to 3:50+ (I would bail if I couldn't keep under 4 minutes as it would indicate I needed more recovery from Sunday).
During the early reps I though finishing 6 would be a tough task but it got .easier as the session progressed, although the times got progressively slower - 3:50/51/52/53/55/52- endurance but no speed. I warmed down over another 3+ miles around Bishopstown after the track.
With it in the back of my head that a mid week long run would help my endurance during the latter stages of the marathon I headed out at 5 on Wednesday morning for a 2 hour run, scarcely 8.5 hours after I had finished my warmdown from Tuesday evening's track session (call the men in white coats). During the run my conscious mind that existed before my life of running rose from the depths and shouted incredulously "what the f~c# are you doing running the roads at this ungodly hour, have you gone completely mad" as if it had just returned from an extended trip to find that the caretaker mind had completely lost the run of itself. This feeling lasted for a short while before it returned to the depths from whench it came. Some day I expect it to return for good - until then?
I completed 15 miles in all in a time that I noted was 1 second under the time for my first race ever (Cork to Cobh 2006) - 01:58:27.
Thursday is usually my second speedwork day of the week although when I rose just before 6 this morning my first thought was "I'd like to lie down again". Again my hastily drawn together plan was to do a 2 x 2 mile tempo run (06:30 pace at best) although the way I felt during the first warmup mile I wasn't sure I could get below 8 minute mile pace. However there appeared to be some jip in my legs when I upped the pace after the 2nd warmup mile - my safety valve for calling it all off was if I couldn't keep under 7 minute pace. Mile 1 in 06:55 was close to the mark as it ended on a hill - Mile 2 at 06:37 was better giving an average of 06:46 for the first segment. After a half mile recovery I launched into the second leg and ran reasonably controlled for a 06:42 and 06:38 3rd and 4th mile (average 06:40). I was reasonably pleased with this given my overall fatigue level and it's training effect and not time that i'm looking for.
Mon 23rd March
a.m. 11.07 Miles in 01:28:27 (07:59 pace @ 125HR) Recovery
p.m. 2.5 miles in 19:50 (07:56 pace - treadmill)
Tue 24th March
10.7 miles in 01:21:49 (07:39 pace @ 139HR) with 6 x 1000m in 03:50 - 03:55.
Wed 25th March
15 miles in 01:58:26 (07:54 pace @ 137HR)
Thur 26th March
7.8 miles in 57:52 (07:25 pace @ 142HR) with 2 x 2 miles in 13:32 & 13:20.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Grand Slam and a Bang

Grand Slam - What can I say only that it's great to be Irish today. "De Paper" on Saturday said the last and only time Ireland won the grand slam the country had just left the commonwealth, Pat Kenny was a two month old baby ( I didn't know he was that old) and gas rationing had just ended after WWII. So you can imagine the emotion when O'Gara put the final score on the board!!!

Bang - On a more personal note I had my own version of the grand slam this afternoon in Beaufort at the Munster Masters 4 Miler where I very nearly hit the wall over the last mile on what was a very tough run for me - although it was worth it in the end (I think) as I shaved another few seconds off last Tuesday's time coming in at 24:37 - although the Garmin put the distance at 3.98 miles so the course may not have been accurately measured. The route was by no means easy with a few challenging hills thrown in and the field was much smaller and faster than I'm used to.

This was my first club race and while I was warming up with a few of the experienced Eagle lads before the race I asked was there much rivalry between the clubs as we ran behind lads from St Finbarrs AC.

"ahh no, not really, it's just that we hate to be beaten by those F*&kers that's all"

said a certain mustachioed veteran runner who shall remain nameless (not the legend who fell at the start of the Dublin marathon some years back - blood everywhere - and went on to finish in 2:46 - he had been aiming for sub-2:40). I digress............

It was a beautiful warm sunny day at the foothills of the MacGillycuddy Reeks and Abina, Keevsa, Ani and Saran made the trip with me, but unfortunately the stunning scenery was far from my mind. I knew during the first half mile that it was not going to be fun and thought even then of packing it in. Despite this, mile 1 came in a relatively fast 5:54.

I remember hearing birdsong during mile 2 and thinking of Ewen's last post on the bellbirds he heard on the 45k "Six Foot" Trail race. I tried to concentrate on natures music in a effort to distract myself from the pain.....

"How the f#&k could he enjoy birdsong during a race" is all I thought as the pain quickly came back into focus - until I realised Ewen's race had a somewhat slower less painful pace as you would expect with a 45k event, still this was poor comfort for me.

Despite the pain Mile 2 was a respectable 6:10 (12:04 total) although I passed the 2 miles to go mark at 11:58.

The first half of mile 3 was a tough uphill and once I had reached the crest I knew it was a matter of just hanging in until the finish as a new wave of fatigue hit me and the lactic acid build up in my legs turned them to jelly. Despite this I was generally keeping pace with those around me. Mile 3 came in 06:22 - 18:25 total (a real sign of the fatigue and stress I was feeling). The urge to stop was all consuming as I began counting down the minutes. A glance at the garmin showed my HR moving from the 170's to the 180's - a supreme effort for my heart. Into the last 400m and I could see the finsh line - a shout of encouragement from a clubmate - "c'mon don't lose position" (losing a place could mean the difference between a medal and none - although I was certain that the requisite 4 clubmates required to make a team had already crossed the finish line) - still I sprinted for the line giving it everything I had, with just enough energy to guide my shattered body to the nearest wall to sit on. I had to ask Keevsa to get me a cup of water as I tried to catch my breath.

A nice warm shower and a cup of tea and a great walk in Killarney National Park (photo's to follow) and the pain was long forgotten - although my legs are fairly stiff.

Have a good week.

Sun 22nd Mar - 8.65 Miles with 4 miles in 24:36 (06:10 pace @ 169 HR - Max HR of 184!!!)

Transition Week 7 (Run 61.0 miles, Bike 34.8 miles, Swim 2,500m)

Friday, 20 March 2009

Spring is in the air

The sunrise this morning illuminated the entrance to the passage grave at Loughcrew near Oldcastle in County Meath. The 5,000 year old passage grave is constructed in a such a way that the suns rays forms a narrow shaft of light that highlights the rock art on the backstone. During the time of spring equinox, 21st March, this rectangle of light highlights the solar symbol on the top left of the backstone slowly descending to the solar symbol at the bottom of the stone as the sun rises. Although less spectacular the same sunlight enabled me to see the face of my watch shortly after 6 this morning as running in the dark get consigned to the memory of winter past (or at least until the clocks jump forward an hour in a weeks time). My running has been fairly consistent as I try to build up the weekly mileage from the low 40's of the last few weeks. A five mile recovery run was all I could manage on Wednesday morning as sleep and a tired body won out to will power. I tried to make up for it yesterday morning by planning a long run as I would be racing this weekend and unable to get in the usual Saturday morning long run - but again the fog of sleep prevented me from getting up early enough - I still managed a relatively fast 12 miler - It had to be fast if I wanted to get 12 miles in. Another 10 miler this morning and a few short treadmill sessions have me just over the 52 mile mark for the week so far with a few more miles to come on Sunday at the Munster Master's Road Championships in Beaufort - God knows what I'm doing at a club championship, then again there always has to be a first time and I couldn't resist the call to arms sent out by the Club last week. Wed 18th Mar a.m. 5.28 miles in 43:13 (08:11 pace @ 131 HR) p.m. 2.5 miles in 19:50 (07:56 pace - treadmill) Thur 19th Mar 12.06 miles in 01:27:45 (07:16 pace @ 142 HR) Fri 20th Mar a.m. 10.01 miles in 01:16:53 (07:40 pace @ 137 HR) p.m. 2.5 miles in 19:50 (07:56 pace - treadmill) Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

A PB on Paddy's Day

As the track is closed this evening I decided to join Brendan for a tempo run this morning to make sure I got some speedwork in. We were joined by about 200 more on a beautiful sunny morning for a 4 miler in Ballinhassig organised by Rising Sun AC ( the "5th Annual Paddy Desmond Memorial Ballinhassing 4" to give it it's proper title).
Brendan ran it last year and warned about the hill start - the start line in on a slope and the course rises over the first half mile or so, the next mile and a half is predominately downhill passing through "Halfway" village before turing left and back along the main Cork-Bandon road to Ballinhassig - mile 3 being flat and mile 4 giving way to a nasty incline before dropping down over the last quarter of a mile to the finish line.
We warmed up by running the first mile of the course - the hill start will certainly be a challenge - Brendan said that he was right up with the leaders at the start last year with the pace scacely under 7 minutes per mile. Not the recommended course for a PB. Then again my year old PB of 25:19 should be a relatively soft target - I equalled it a week after running Amsterdam in October on a flat course, but this hill start today would be no walkover. It was either going to be today or Sunday's Munster Master's 4 miler in Beaufort in which I would dip below the 25 minuter barrier for the first time.
There was quite a few from the Club at the start line (Pat Murphy, Denis Looney, Pat Twomey, Austin Brown, Siobhan Murphy, Denis Carrol, John Desmond and Seamus Cahill to name a few) so there were plenty of black Eagle AC singlets to keep an eye on. The start was a bit of a low key affair - we were all standing around and someone shouted "go". I had scarcely time to start my watch. The run up the hill was steady and I ran well within myself so that when we crested the top I was not winded. It was surprising though to see the leader ahead (about 150 yards) with 30 yards on the chasing group. The downhill to the first mile mark saw 2 or 3 pass me at a quick pace and stay about 10 yards ahead. I was then passed by a group of 3 (a woman and two men). They were about 5 yards ahead when I decided to reel them in and tuck in behind them. I did this as we passed the first mile mark -
Mile 1 in 06:15 - that was a surprisingly fast first mile "bang on 25 minute pace, I should be able to maintain this pace to the end............hang on I have the wind at my back at the moment, I'm bound to lose time heading into the wind from the 2 mile mark".
I maintained a steady pace over the downhill second mile keeping in with the little group I had joined. By the time we hit the 2 mile mark we had reeled in the 3 who had passed me before the first mile mark. Mile 2 in 06:00. We were now facing into the wind along the hardshoulder of the main road. There was no benefit in drafting as we were being hit sideways by the wind. This was a tough mile but I managed to keep the pace steady close to the front of the group as we reeled in one or two more. I thought I was doing reasonably well until I looked at the 06:22 mile pace on the Garmin. The sub-25 would not be achieved with this pace. Some passed me out and went ahead by a few yards but then got pulled back into the group. I was keeping pace with 2 guys in front of me by concentrating on their leg turnover. We passed the 3 mile mark
Mile 3 in 06:19 - That was a tough mile. "Last mile - only 6 minutes more of this stress, although the incline is still to come".
I continued churning out the same leg turnover, not sure what finish pace I was on. The incline came and I kept my leg turnover steady making sure to keep pace with the 2 guys in front but to my surprise my pace took me past them up the hill (Uphills certainly suit me compared to others). I was passed by one guy though, lest I get cocky about my uphill ability. There was another guy about 10 yards ahead of me who I recognised as one of the "fast guys" from the track - surely I wouldn't pass him, but I did. I was now praying for the top of the incline to come as I was feeling very fatigued. It came just as I arrived on the shoulder of the next guy as we both quickened the pace down a steep slip road (my watch showed me that I had about 2 minutes left to run) - however I didn't have the speed/energy to overtake him and with about a minute to go he began to edge slightly more in front and I had no answer when the "fast guy" sprinted past me on the downhill to the finish - I was now counting down strides over the last minute - 100 ought to do it and then I saw the finish line as I rounded a row of horse boxes parked along the side of the road (there were "hunter trials" on in the lands adjacent to the finish line) I crossed the line and stopped the Garmin - which showed 24:47 as my finish time - YES finally under the 25 minute mark Mile 4 in 06:13.
There was no clock at the finish and nor were the results available before I left - so i'll leave the sidebar alone until I get official confirmation (I may lose a second or 2 but I'm certain of the sub-25). I certainly am happy with that result given the hilly start - which only means that there is room for improvement on a flatter course.
I warmed down with Bendan over 2 miles on the nearby pitch (I think he got 23:15 or thereabouts, which he thinks gives him 12th spot - not a bad result at all).
When I got home Abina and the Children had already left for the Patricks Day Parade and when I rang her they were already in town and said that traffic was chaotic - so I used the opportunity to get some x-training in and hopped on the bike and cycled the 8 miles into town (took the long route). I was glad that the bike carriers were on the roof of her car though and she graciously offered me a lift home. The weather has been absolutely fantastic - as good as a summers day.
I'm hoping to get back into higer mileage weeks for the Cork marthon in 11 weeks time but have to be careful in getting the right mix of speedwork and long runs so that I don't either overtrain or peak too early.
Mon 16th Mar
11.47 miles in 01:24:47 (07:21 pace @ 141 HR) - Sort of progression run as I ended up with 7:00 and 06:51 for the last 2 miles.
Tue 17th Mar
8.54 miles with 4 miles in 24:47 (06:12 pace @ 164HR)
Happy Paddys Day.
Postscript: My official time is 24:48 (32 out of 194 finishers)

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Recovery Week Over

I finished this low mileage week with a very enjoyable 12.6 mile hilly run with Eagle AC on Saturday morning. We headed off from the entrance to the dog track shortly after 7:30 west out the Currheen Road to Maglin and then along a hilly route via minor (no traffic) roads to Balinora and Waterfall and back towards the City to complete the loop in just over ninety five minutes. The run was billed as a alternative to the hilly viaduct loop with "some hills" - that was a bit of an understatement as it was all up and down except for the start/finish. However after getting over the initial effort of the first few miles I felt quite strong on the uphills and ended up running with 3 others at well under the anticipated 8 minute mile pace - well that's what you get when running with Pat Twomey. Some extended the run with a few laps of UCC farm but I called it a day as I could feel a blister forming on my left foot - not a good start to my 500+ mile relationship with my new Nike Zoom Vomero's - hopefully it's a "breaking in" thing. Today was a day off running with a bit of cross training - a 26 mile bike ride in the morning and a dusting off of the rollerblades in the afternoon on a short outing with my 10 year old daughter - the prospect of toppling over certainly concentrates the mind - no falling asleep on the job here. Sat 14th Mar 12.58 Miles in 01:35:37 (07:36 pace @ 146 HR) Hilly. Transition week 6 (Run 40.1 miles, Bike 25.95 miles, Swim 1,000m.)

Friday, 13 March 2009

Feeling the strain

I don't feel fully recovered from Sunday's race. Although the general level of fatigiue I am feeling is not down to the race alone but has probably been building up for a while. My resting HR last Saturday was 42 (should be sub-40 if I am firing on all cyclinders) and this morning was 43. While it is only a marginal increase it's enough to tell me that I might be over-reaching a little. My body certainly has demanded more sleep this week - twice I failed to respond to the 5:20 alarm preferring to turn over and go back to sleep until the rest of the house rose shorly after 7. However on those two days I still managed to punish myself by running with Brendan at lunchtime, sqeezing 8 miles into an hour on Wednesday and just under 6 today. While I thought the average 7:27 pace felt tough on Wednesday the shock and awe of the progression run today was enough to force me to bail out early. The first five miles went 07:31 - net downhill 07:17 - flat 06:55 - net uphill 06:40 - net uphill 06:34 - net downhill after that Brendan upped the pace towards 06:20 and beyond for a 7 mile total run whereas I warmed down at just over 7 minute pace for 5.6 miles. With runs like this twice a week I can certainly see why Brendan is performing so well. Certainly Speed/Endurance runs are what has been missing from my training so far this year. Those 2 x 3 mile tempo runs @ 06:35/50 pace last year certainly helped me to a PB or two at the mid-distance races. I tested my new Nike Zoom Vomero 3 shoes today for the first time and all appears well so far. Although the inch of cushioning felt strange at first. Halfway through the run Brendan asked me how they felt - between gasps I managed to mutter "they're fine - it's the rest of me that's fu#k*d". I'll give them a good test tomorrow morning at Eagle AC's hilly long run (at least an 8 minute pace is on the menu - unless Pat Twomey shows up!) Wed 11th Mar 8.05 miles in 59:57 (07:27 pace @ 144HR) Thur 12th Mar 8.61 miles in 01:08:24 (07:57 pace @ 134 HR) Fri 13th Mar 5.67 miles in 39:39 (07:00 pace @ 146 HR) with 5 mile progression run 7:31/7:17/6:55/6:40/6:34

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Taking It Easy

Unlike Thomas I did not feel that natural instinct to get up early on Monday morning to go for a run. I was too tired from blogging the night before. Race reports can take a lot out of you.
The final race results have me at 217 out of 2,402 finishers with 5 mile splits of 32:50 and 32:10 - which is to be expected given the slow start and the fact that the wind was at my back for the second half. You'd think my 5 mile PB should be less than 32:03 at this stage. My best 10 miles remain the 64:44 I clocked on my way to the half marathon PB of 84:30 last September. Similarly my best 5 miler is the 30:59 I clocked on the way to my 10k PB of 38:15 last April - I don't think I'll be repeating that time this April.
As the track this evening was my first outing since Sunday's race I was in two minds as to whether or not I should leave Saran with the Junior club and go on an easy run around the roads surrounding CIT. In the end I decided to run a few 800s (4 max) with 400 recoveries. I finished 3 in all before easing off as my legs were beginning to feel heavy and the time for my HR to reduce below 130 after each rep was increasing (36, 54, 60 seconds). Still no lingering niggles from Sunday (apart form a bit of chafing) with just the expected leg fatigue.
. Tue 10th Mar 5.19 miles in 42:13 (08:08 pace @ 136 HR) w/ 3 x 800 in 02:59/02:59/02:57

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Scraping under the bar

As I start this post I think I scraped a PB at today's Ballycotton 10. I can't be certain as, for some foolish reason, someone pressed the stop button on my Garmin at the 10k mark. I rashly decided it would be nice to record my 10k split and pressed the stop instead of lap button. It wasn't long after that that the only nice thing I could think of was for the race to be over. But enough of the negativity.
The day was very similar to last year - it had all the necessary ingredients - wind, rain, cold, 3,000 plus runners converging on the small streets of Ballycotton to push as hard as they could along the rural roads of East Cork until they had 10 miles under their feet - all conducted in a great spirit of camaraderie ("we're all in this together" - as they say in "High School the Musical")
Thomas landed on my doorstep shortly after 10 and after calling on my neighbour Pat, all three of us were piled into the car and heading for Ballycotton. I wasn't feeling particularly energetic as I didn't get to bed until 2 a.m. (that's another story)
We parked up in a field about a mile from the village and strolled down to the race HQ. A quick look around and we were off to the male changing tent. The wind was picking up outside and the rain coming down in intermittent showers. With about 40 minutes to go Thomas and I headed off for a 2 mile warmup along the coastal path - the wind was bracingly cold at times but we acclimatised.
Then it was back to the start and a push through the crowds to get a decent position near the front. I lost Thomas along the way but met up with Derek O'Keeffe of Eagle and Brendan just ahead of the sub 65 minute sign. Both of them were heading for 62 minute territory with me hanging back for 65 minute pace. I had been hoping of getting a little closer to the start line as I remember last years push to get past slower runners over the first mile - but the way was blocked solid.
Sure enough when the gun went off it the was a case of slow slow quick quick (a term borrowed from "quick step" lessons in the dim and distant past) trying to squeeze into gaps between the runners around us as we danced our way through the first mile. Brendan was out in front and disappeared through the crowd in no time at all. Mile 1 in 06:46 as the timekeeper called out 7:02, 04. deja-vu from last year - on PB pace. Thomas was on my shoulder at this stage - he had started 10+ seconds behind me. Well if he made that time up during the first mile I wasn't going to hold him back and wished him well.
During the second mile the crowed thinned out and we moved steadily along a net downhill section. Mile 2 in 06:23. Thomas was gone at this stage. The pace felt hard but sustainable - I had the Garmin on mile laps showing lap time, HR and lap pace. Checking my pace over these early miles showed each mile starting at low 06:20's but steadily creeping towards 6:30. Mile 3 in 06:33 - the sub 65 (06:30 avg)was looking like a tough ask. I kept pushing as we ran along a slight incline and turned left into the wind towards the 4 mile mark - Mile 4 in 06:33 (the wind and slight uphill cost me a few seconds).
Mile 5 was along a twisting road with the wind against us. My pace remained fairly steady as I crept forward and passed a few runners every 100 yards or so. I was surprised to see Thomas ahead sheltering in the middle of a group of runners with Mary Sweeney of St Finbarrs providing the shelter at the front. The clock at the 5 mile mark struck 33:00 as I passed - "christ - I'm closer to 66 minute pace - if Thomas is here at least i'm in good company" and then I realised that Thomas was only waiting until we turned away from the wind after the halfway point to make his move (which he confirmed after the race) and sure enough he broke cover as we turned the corner and he forged ahead. The Garmin gave me 06:30 for Mile 5 (32:37 for the half, which I didn't see at the time) although it beeped a few yards ahead of the mile marker.
For the next 3 miles as we ran with the wind behind us the gap between Thomas and I varied from 20 to 50 yards as he see-sawed back an forth in front of me (pulling away in the downhills and drawing closer on the uphills - I thought that if I could keep close until mile 8.5 that the "mainly uphill" last mile and a half would suit me better.
Mile 6 in 06:29.
Mile 7 in 06:xx (watch stopped for undefined period of time - turned it back on before the 7 mile mark and pressed the lap button at mile 7 - 02:49
Mile 8 in 06:19 I felt reasonably strong during mile 8 as I put in a surge on a gentle uphill and pulled within 5 yards of Thomas - but the rise gave way to a fall and the gap widened again. That the only move I had - as we approached the 8 mile mark my tank was empty and I was hoping the reserve would carry me the last 2 miles homes. It's not that I slowed down, it's just that all I could do was maintain pace - no push. Thomas crept forward as we rounded the corner for the rise to the 9 mile mark - Mile 9 in 06:32 - not bad considering. The time keeper was calling out 58:52 as I passed. "I'm sure it was 59 minutes even last year. I certainly thought I had a real chance of hitting 65 minutes as I had 6 minutes in the bag plus the time it took me to cross the line (must have been at least as much as the 15 seconds it took last year).
The last mile was a matter or perseverance - counting down the lap time on the Garmin as to how much pain was left. And finally I could see the finishing clock in the distance and pushed the final few yards - I approached a timing mat about 30 yards ahead of the clock and slowed down after I had crossed it, thinking it was the finish and suddenly I realised that there was another mat under the clock but as my legs were in slowdown mode all I could do was freewheel to the "real finish". I neglected to stop the watch at the finish but the mile lap showed 06:19 for that last mile.
I had thought the clock said 65:04 as I passed under it but that could have been wishful thinking (maybe it was the first view of the clock from my myopic eyes) as now that the official results are out my official finishing time is 65:18 with a chip time of 65 minutes even - a PB by 4 seconds!!!. (216 out of 2398 finishers)
Thomas had a much stronger finish and finished closer to 64 minutes, while Brendan was already back at home writing up his blog. We met up with Richard afterwards, who provided the camera for a Ballycotton photo shoot. Richards 37:38 should give him great confidence for his sub 3:20 target in Rotterdam next month. Pat also did very well with his first sub-70 (69:15)
A two mile warmdown with Thomas completed my running week. On a final note my resting heart rate yesterday morning was 42. On a good week this has been 37/38. My standing around HR at the start line was high 80's compared to 60's last year - I think I should scale back a bit before ramping up for Cork in 12 weeks.
Eagle AC's Rhona Lynch got third Female in 60:28 - well done Rhona that's a fantastic time.
Well done to all runners who braved the elements today and a special thanks to Ballycotton Running Promotions and all the volunteers for putting on a great race.
Richard and the three bloggers.
Wed 4th Mar
11.11 miles in 01:27:34 (07:53 pace @ 137 HR). Cold and snowing for 3 miles.
Fri 6th Mar
6.83 miles in 53:16 (07:48 pace @ 148HR???)
Sun 8th Mar
14 miles with 10 miles in 01:05:00 (06:30 pace @ 164 HR)
Transition Week 5 (Run 46.3 miles, Bike 21.3 miles, Swim 1,000m)

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Forward Planning

I signed up for my first summer triathlon yesterday. Registration opened on 4th March and by yesterday evening over 80 of the 220 places were taken. Last year I signed up for this August tri three weeks beforehand (116 completed the course). It certainly is one of the fastest growing sports participation events. One of the more popular sprint tris, the Schull/Fastnet triathlon was sold out within a hour or two of opening for registration. I notice there is a duathlon in Killorglin next month that might be worth a look at (a 15k bike ride sandwiched between 2 x 5k runs). Signing up for the triathlon last night was all the incentive I needed to get out on the bike this morning for a repeat of the 21.5 mile hilly bike ride I did last Sunday. I think I may have pushed the first hill a little hard as I dropped a few gears and stood up on the pedals for the steepest section, pushing my HR to 170. A strong westerly wind was blowing which hit me on the final 4 miles out the Ballincollig Bypass. That westerly wind has intensified during the day and brought rain with it, which is to intensify overnight which will be ideal for tomorrows Ballycotton 10. In addition a cold spell is also forecast. So I'm looking forward to freezing my ba#*s off for the hour before the start and pushing my heart to the limit for the hour+ after. Someone told me it was all good fun! I checked my last years log for the week before Ballycotton to see if I am as prepared this year. Last year I did 20 milers back to back on the preceding Saturday and Sunday, 9 x 400s on the Tuesday and 3 x mile repeats (06:08 to 06:18 pace) on the Thursday. This time round I did a 17.5 miler last Saturday, 4 x 800s on Tuesday and a big fat zero on Thursday (I did an easy 6.8 miler yesterday though) Am I better prepared? I think not. Will I beat last years time, I think (hope) so. The wind, rain and cold may play a bigger part than I want. Good luck to all running tomorrow.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

1,000+ Miles

I put on my DS Racers as opposed to the Gel Nimbus this evening heading for the track to see how they would feel for Ballycotton on Sunday. I was a little surprised to feel a bit more support under my arches than usual (a bit lumpy if truth be told) and then it dawned on me - my training shoes are well worn. I bought them the month before the Amsterdam marathon in October and they must have at least 1,000 miles on them. This brought up the question that's been going around my head recently - do I need expensive cushioned shoes, will I suffer in the long run if I do not replace them or am I gradually weaning myself off cushions. I know if I buy a new pair they'll feel like cotton wool under my feet but do I need that feeling, should I have more contact with the surface I run on, be in touch with my environment and all that jazz. I don't know. Anyway I managed to churn out 4 x 800s in the DS racers with no ill effect other than the gasping bit at the end of each 800 (well 2 laps in lane 3 = 832m lets call them Irish 800s). Each rep was just 1 or 2 seconds under the 3 minutes with an equal time for recovery - very similar to the 30/30s or 60/60s that Thomas does except these were 180/180s. Thomas might know if 4 x 180/180 is equivalent to 24 x 30/30s. I managed to get all the key workouts in last week with 6 x 800s at the track on Tuesday (I was originally going to up the 10x 400s the previous week to 12 x 400 but time wasn't on my side so I doubled up on the 400s), 8 x 30 second hills on Thursday (preceded by a 20 min tempo run at about 06:29 pace but assisted by some downhills) and a 17.5 mile long run on Saturday. I even managed to get out on the bike on Sunday morning for a 21.5 mile loop taking in Ballincollig, Crossbarry, Halfway, Viaduct, Ballincollig - two nice hills there to get the lactic acid going. I shared some of the route with a group of three who came up behind me near the top of the first hill to Begleys Forge until we went our separate ways at Ballinhassig - apparently they were out for a short 3.5 hour cycle. Something tells me that I need more time on the bike if I want to be a bit more competitive in the triathlons. As for Sunday next I don't know how i'll do as I'm a little behind on the speedwork compared to where I was this time last year, which is not an oversight but more of a more gradual build up to the marathon in June. If I better last years time by getting under 65 minutes i'll be happy (I need a 2009 PB to steady the nerves). Mon 23rd Feb 8.62 miles in 01:09:07 (08:01 pace @ 131HR) p.m. 2.5 miles in 19:50 (07:56 pace @ no HRM) - treadmill Tue 24th Feb 6.97 miles in 55:47 (08:00 pace @ 137 HR) with 6 x 832m in 02:58/02:59 Wed 25th Feb 10.24 miles in 01;22:02 (08:00 pace @ 136 HR) - recovery p.m. 2.5 miles in 19:50 (07:56 pace @ no HRM) - treadmill Thur 26th Feb 9.85 miles in 01:18:04 (07:55 pace @ no HRM) with 3.1 mile tempo @ 06:29 pace & 8 x 30 second hills. I might have done better if I had had that second Guinness with Thomas the night before. Fri 27th Feb NIL - recovery from late night Thursday night - I did manage an exhausting 1,000m in the pool. Sat 28th Feb 17.5 miles in 02:15:00 (07:43 pace @ 137 HR) Transition Week 4 (Run 58.18 miles, Bike 21.31 miles, Swim 2,500m)
Don't know why I call it transition but I am a changing. February Total (Run 248.2 miles, Bike 21.31 miles, Swim - 6,500m) Mon 2nd Mar a.m. 6.84 miles in 52;39 (07:42 pace @ 138HR) p.m. 2.5 miles in 19:50 (07:56 pace @ no HRM) - treadmill Tue 3rd Mar 5.01 miles in 42:46 (08:31 pace @ 145 HR) with 4 x 832m in 02:57-02:59