Thursday, 30 July 2009

Another Brick in the wall

As it was too wet on Tuesday evening for my scheduled outing on the bike with Puds I headed out in yesterday morning's sunshine for a 24 mile cycle combining slow hill work with a bit of speed and finished it off with a 2 mile run at a comfortably hard pace. I was aiming for about 7 minute pace but surprised myself when the first mile passed in 6:38 and even more surpirsed that I managed to continue at that pace for the remainder of the run, therefore managing to get a 2 mile tempo run into a brick session.
Wednesday's scheduled 10 mile run was put off until this morning (I don't want to increase my weekly mileage too much over last weeks 41 miles). I was planning on a moderate progression whereby i'd increase the pace at a moderate effort over the last 10 minutes. Instead I decided to gradually increase the pace over the second 5 miles from 7:50 to 7:10 pace, shouldn't be too taxing. Surprisingly it was trying to keep pace for the first 1 or 2 of those miles that was challenging. Once the legs got used to the pace increasing it gradually from mile to mile was easirr although pushing the last mile (partly uphill) was more than a "moderate effort" and a bit below target - 6:52.

Wednesday 29th July Bike 24.46 miles in 01:20:03 (18.3 MPH @ 128 HR) Run 2.11 miles in 14:00 (06:38 pace @148 HR) Thursday 30th July 10 miles in 01:16:21 (07:38 pace @ 132 HR)

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Tired Legs

My legs have been tired and achy since Sunday's long run. I could hardly call 12 miles a long run as it wasn't that long ago that I was exceeding that distance at least twice a week and I know some people wouldn't get out of bed for anything less than 15 miles. My aerobic system appears to be fine as the swimming and cycling has kept that going. It the old muscular/skeletal system that is creaking a bit as it gets used to running on consecutive days again. I trust that it will get better over the coming weeks. A easy recovery run on Monday morning was followed by a similar run today with 6 x 30 second hill sprints thrown in. It began to pour out of the heavens as I commenced the sprints which made the whole experience all the better as it took the edge off the effort. 30 seconds is long enough to get some decent fatigue into the legs but short enough to make it easily bearable, dare I say enjoyable. I concentrated on lifting the knees as I powered up the hill managing to keep good form for the 30 seconds - paces varied from 05:43 to 06:03 which is an improvement on last time. Just need to work on my endurance and i'll be as right as rain. Mon 27th July 6.8 miles in 59:19 (08:43 pace @ 119 HR) Tue 28th July a.m. 7.55 miles in 01:02:56 (08:20 pace @ 133HR) - w/ 6 x 30 sec hills p.m. 2.5 miles in 19:48 (07:55 pace - treadmill)

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Always in Training,........

...never in racing.
Some of my best runs have been in training, 6 mile tempo runs @ 06:30 pace, 24 mile long runs @ 07:33 pace giving all the indications that great things lay ahead. However very often these training runs were my premature peak before the important race (usually a marathon). Granted I've had some good races too but the best were run during the build up to a bigger event:- - the 38:15 10k 8 weeks out from the Cork Marathon in 2008 - the 1:24:30 HM 6 weeks before Amsterdam 2008 Hopefully i'll get this peaking thing right some day. With only 12 weeks to Dublin and a longest run of only 12 miles i'm aiming to peak about 6 to 8 weeks after the event so that I will run a decent marathon (i'll need an 18-20 week programme with a tune-up marathon race at week 12 - one of those ultra programmes ought to do) I spent the last week in Inchydoney looking after my mum. Safan, Ani and Saran came with me for a mini holiday spending the mornings in bed/playing on the DS and the afternoons on the beach having fun in the surf (wetsuits a necessity). Conditions were more favourable to surfing than swimming as my only attempt at training was a disaster (good fun though). On Sunday afternoon I cycled the 30 miles down (Abina drove the kids & provisions). I decided to pop my aero-bars on the bike for good measure (Rick must have been reading my mind) and although I was cycling into a westerly breeze I managed a respectable 19.2 MPH avg (30.9 kph Ewen) compared to my Lough Ine bike speed of about 18 MPH (29kph). I returned on Tuesday with the wind at my back @ 20.8 MPH avg (33.4 kph) - As I said "Always in Training". Although the aero-bars will remain on for the Kenmare Tri in 2 weeks. I didn't get much running in early in the week which had the beneficial side effect of killing off the PF issue I had. On Monday I tried using the treadmill my father had used for his stroke rehab but the maximum speed was 6 MPH and I managed to burn out the motor after 2 miles (the poor thing hadn't seen action in a couple of years). I got another 2 mile hilly run in on Wednesday evening following 30 minutes on the turbo trainer (bike treadmill). I fared better on Thursday with an 8 mile run in the morning w/ 10 x 30 seconds fast and a barefoot 4 miler on the beach in the afternoon with 3 x 600m @ 06:20 pace. The beach run was tough, particularly as the surface alternated between firm and soft sand without warning - there's nothing like trying to run fast while your feet are sinking deeper the harder you push. Friday's run was an easy10 miler with a few hills thrown in to add a bit of a challenge. I drove my mam to my brother in Dublin yesterday, where she is staying for the week. I managed to get a hilly 12 miler in before returning today. I did a 6 mile out and back route from Cabinteely heading in the general direction of the Dublin mountains - luckily it was time to turn back by the time I reached the really challenging hills. This is the first week I have exceeded 40 miles since early May. I'm certainly taking my time in returning to marathon training. I'd better get my ass in gear. I had intended spending the week off doing up the plan for Dublin but I'm still working on it. No rush, the fun is in the planning. 13th - 19th July (Run 20.6 miles, Bike 103.1 miles, Swim 700m) 20th - 26th July (Run 41.3 miles, Bike 60.2 miles, Swim about 250m)

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Work on my weaknesses

The results of last Sunday's Tri clearly show where most improvement can be made:-
Swim 23:38 - 43rd
Bike 1:33:05 - 78th
Run 41:54 - 55th
While I have put least effort/time into swimming (1 hour a week max), I appear to be more genetically predisposed towards it compared to running and cycling. However I only spent 14.9% of the time in the water compared to 58.7% of the time on the bike and 25.3% on the run (typical splits are 15%, 54% & 31%). So my genetic predisposition does me no favours in triathlons. So in the absence of any equilateral triathlons I gotta work on my bike, in particular, if I want to knock more minutes off my time. Interestingly the bike and run times for the 43rd positions were:-
43rd Runner @ 40:44 (just 1:10 faster , this should be achievable)
43rd Cyclist @ 1:26:52 (6:13 faster, more work to be done and greatest gains to be made)
Unfortunately not only am I up against it in training but if I want to improve my chances and compete on level terms a time trial bike is essential. However as Triathlon is still a passing hobby I'll stick to my road bike (for this year anyway).
I took Monday off for no particular reason other than I did not rise early enough to get a run in.
Tuesday's run was a 2.5 miler on the treadmill at lunchtime. After work I went out on the bike with Pat and Puds who put me through my paces, first on a high gear/low cadence hill workout and on the way home a 20 minute tempo session - legs certainly got a good trashing. Hopefully this will be a regular Tuesday evening jaunt.
It was only after the 10 miler in the park on Wednesday morning when I felt the effects of Sunday's race and Tuesday's cycle. In addition my Plantar Fascia started acting up during the run but the discomfort was manageable. I was not unduly worried as I've had a touch of mild PF before and it did not last long.
On Thursday, despite feeling tired all day, I headed to the track for the first time in months - I need to get used to the feel of energy sapping speedwork. I decided to cycle to and from the track over a circuitous route to get some extra bike miles in. I warmed up as usual stretched and joined Paul from Eagle AC who was on his last of 5 x 800m reps (he was aiming for 3:10ish). I was interested to see how this would feel. However shortly into the rep my PF raised it's ugly head and while I finished the 800 in 3:08 I decided to leave it at that and run the remainder of the session at an easy pace - no point in pushing it. I must say I miss the track.
Friday's outing was another 2.5 mile treadmill run (HR's slowly coming down)
This morning it was back on the bike for a brick session with Jim, my neighbour, out to Coachford south across the lake, up the long drag to the "windy gap", down to Farran and in the main road (about 24.5 miles) this was followed by a 2.9 mile run to/from the park.
Finally some photo's of last Sunday's tri are here which I have sorted through

Coming out of the water. I lost my yellow hat in the melee - luckily my goggles were strapped on underneath.

No. 200 - Heading up the hill out of Lough Ine with Connie in front.

Top of the hill - Victory

Sunday, 12 July 2009

56.3k and two pit stops in 2:41:12

Mixed weather - rain and wind all day Saturday, clearing on Sunday although the wind caused a few ripples on the water and a few challenges on the bike.

Stronger field - the winner last year was 6th this year despite being 2 minutes down on last years time. I was 59th out of 190 & 11th M40 (56th last year & 5th M40 despite being over 11 minutes slower than this year).

Preparation - I stayed the night before in Baltimore with Pat who has a holiday home there. Ani and Saran came along for support. Pat gave me a beer on arrival while he opted for a Berocca (I think he was trying to even things up a bit). We registered at 7:30 and returned to the house for a feed of chicken noodles followed by pasta. An early rise was required in order to get some calories down before the race start at 08:30. The forecast was for clear weather with strong winds. The sea, which was quite choppy the night before had calmed down a bit.

The Swim (1.5k ish) - The start was the a mad dash with arms and legs everywhere coming from all sides - I shouldn't have started in the middle - there was no escape all I could do was fight a path forward through the mass of flailing limbs, swimmers landing on my legs slowing me down - this continued for the first 300m+ before it began to ease a little. Sighting the buoys was more challenging in the swell. However once we changed direction after the 2nd buoy the swell was worse and on quite a few occasions I took in water instead of air. It was also difficult to spot other swimmers and the next buoy without stopping and looking around. Finally I was around the 3rd buoy and heading for shore although I zig-zagged all over the place constantly crossing the path of other swimmers. Coming into the steps up to transition however I was on my own thankfully - so no pushing or shoving to get a foothold on the bottom step. Swim time 23:38. (25:16 last year, where I took a more scenic route)

T1 - Up the steps and run to the bike except - "where the fu#k is my bike" - the space was empty - someone's stolen my bike _ I look up expecting someone to tell me where my bike is but no one gives me a clue. Then I spot it in the row behind - "You idiot" - Wet suit comes off easily enough on with the glasses, helmet, bike shoes unrack the bike and I'm ready for road. T1 in 1:43 (2:00 last year)

Bike (45k ish) - Despite taking a gel during the first mile my legs felt heavy and I did not get any rhythm going until 10k had passed. During this time I was passed by 5 or 6. I could hear the "whoosh... whoosh" of the special wheels on the carbon tri bikes behind me before they whizzed by. With my gear levers on the down tube I must have looked so amateurish. I finally got my legs as we headed into Skibbereen and out the Castletownsend Road and I began to pass one or two in front of me. However the left turn at Castlehaven Creamery and into the westerly wind hit me hard, making progress was slow as I constantly changed through the gears to find a sustainably fast pace (no such luck). However those in front were not pulling away so I wasn't the only one struggling. Overall my legs felt far more tired that they should have and the level of discomfort was not compatible with the level of progress. I was wondering when Connie and Peter would catch up (Both were quite strong on the dummy run last weekend, Connie in particular pushing very strong on the hills). I ploughed on and got into a rhythm again from Tragumna into Skibbereen with the wind at my back for a change. Shortly after leaving Sbibb (12k to go) I got a pat on the back from Peter as he passed by. I tracked him for the next couple of km but lost him before reaching Lough Ine and the dreaded hill (5k to go). I dropped into the lowest gear and stood up on the bike - however the chain started slipping to the 2nd lowest gear as the hill steepened - the mind games began - "How can I get up this hill if I can't get the easiest gear. Then I heard the familiar voice of Connie behind me - "use your cassette Grellan he was shouting". " I am, but the chain is slipping" I replied as he passed me out, he sitting on his saddle and me standing on the pedals. "Peter's not far ahead" I said "you should catch him".

The final steep section, where I dismounted last week during the dry run, was before me and knowing that the pain would be brief I pushed hard (I was now stuck in the same gear) and managed to reach the top without even weaving. And then the final long descent into Baltimore and T2. 4km out the leaders were coming against me on the run. Bike in 1:33:06 (1:42:47 last year - although 6 or 7 minutes of that was spent putting my saddle back on after it "came" off")

T2 - Run in with the bike off with the helmet and shoes, I decided to sit and put on socks (previous attempts at running with no socks yielded blisters on my middle toes - after the run I realised that I had only put a sock on my left foot - what must I have been thinking of). back out on the run the announcer calling out the numbers & names "Number 200 now heading out on the run....................." he hesitated and paused for 5 seconds "Greeelan McGrath". T2 in 0:55 (1:01 last year)

Run (9.8k ish) - Running up the hill out of town felt slow and both my feet were numb for the first half mile. I saw two guys in front who looked familiar - Connie & Peter. As I drew alongside them they both said that they had noting left in the tank after the cycle and while my body felt fatigued my legs were able to turnover on autopilot (familiar territory). This autopilot carried me up the hill into the surrounding countryside past the 2 and 3k marks and a few other runners in the process. I could feel the strain as the sun came out and I sought the shade where available. The route continued to climb (some dips), right past the 4k mark and another uphill drag past another bunch of runners and finally the decent back towards Baltimore. I passed a guy at the water station at the 6k mark and then it was into no mans land for the next 2k. My effort was pretty consistent with no energy or inclination to up the pace. I finally closed in on another target at 8k and the last uphill push before the drop into town. I was passed by a guy at 8.5k and had no response, his pace was in another world as far as I was concerned. And finally the steep descent and straight to the finish, once I saw the line I had enough to push the last 20 yards and finish strong Run in 41:54 (41:33 last year - no much in it but slower as predicted.

Overall 2:41:12 which I am pleased with as my target/predictions were fairly accurate.

Target sub 2:45 (although a sub 2:40 was the Plan A and may have materialised had I had a better day on the bike).

Predictions faster swim, bike & transitions than last year and a slower run (check)

Thursday, 9 July 2009

A touch of speed

I had hoped to run the EMC 5k last night at a tempo pace just to see what sort of speed, if any, was in my legs ahead of next Sundays Tri. However I was on cooking duty at home and only managed to make the finish line to cheer on the runners coming in. The leader, the only finisher under 16 minutes, was well ahead of the chasing bunch. I had to settle instead for a tempo run this morning. I planned on 2 fast miles but didn't know what sort of pace I could churn out as the last time I ran anything resembling a tempo run was on 13th May when I finished the last 5 miles of a 10 miler @ 6:52 pace - which I'm now convinced is responsible for re aggravating my calf injury leading to my DNF in Cork on 1st June. So after my 2 mile warmup this morning I was at the head of the straight road (dead flat) ready for a 13 minute push (assuming i'd be close to 6:30 pace). I settled into a confortably hard pace and was surprised to see the pace hovering below 6:20 over the first 1/4 mile and I kept going expecting to see it drop towards 6:30 and beyond (It's easy to start a speed session hard - it's keeping the pace is the problem). But I was pleasantly surprised when I hit the end of the first mile at 06:20 and turned around to repeat the process. This was going to be the tough bit - had I the endurance to keep the pace for the return mile? - the effort certainly felt harder but I pushed on through the unfamiliar stress, periodically checking the distance on the Garmin to see how much pain was left - 06:22 - not a bad days work for my return to tempo pace although I was glad it was over and another mile would have been out of the question. Still, there's plenty of time to work on pushing out the distance on these type of runs and embracing the pain. The remainder of my running has been relatively easy with the exception of the twice weekly hill sprints. My weekly mileage reached the dizzying heights of 36 miles last week. After Sunday's Tri I'll write up a proper programme for Dublin. The key workout on the Tri front included a reconnaissance of the Lough Ine bike route last Saturday morning where six of us in all (one brave guy on a hybrid bike - who did pretty well) headed out shortly after 8 in the morning on the 45 km route. The pace was on the steady/hard side, at least for me and on the steep hill out of Lough Ine (39 km in) I had to dismount just before the crest as I'd run out of steam. I'd managed to get up during the race last year (race day adrenaline may have had something to do with it). However Connie, the fastest guy on the day, had had the same problem when he cycled the route the week before and he had changed the back cassette on his bike to compensate. So this week I changed my 8 speed 12-21 cassette for a 12-24 cassette (numbers refer to the number of teeth on smallest to largest sprocket) which should make the steep hill climbing that bit easier. After all Puds, the guy who I got the bike from, was semi-professional and said that the cassette was a man's (racing) cassette. That's it now, time to taper for Sunday. 29th June - 5th July (Run 36.8 miles, Bike 52.1 miles, Swim 4,500m) Mon 6th July 7.04 miles in 58:37 (08:19 pace @ 136 HR) with 6 x 30 second hill sprints Tue 7th July 25 mile cycle with Puds with some hill work and speed. Thur 9th July a.m. 6 miles in 44:34 (07:23 pace @ 144HR) with 2 miles in 12:42 (06:21 pace ) p.m. 2.1 miles in 16:15 following 800m swim in Inniscarra Lake