Sunday, 30 August 2009

Running Long

Two recovery/easy 5 milers on Friday and Saturday and a 20 miler today got me over 70 miles for the week for the first time since mid-April. There's no need to go much higher than that once I manage to get a decent mid-week run (13 - 15 miles) and weekend long run (18 - 22 miles - 3 hrs max) and one or two weekly speed sessions (long hill reps, tempo). There was a poorer turnout for this morning's long run with 6 in all showing up for the 8 a.m. start from Pairc Ui Caoimhe (maybe Sunday is less popular than Saturday). The run, targeted at 8 minute mile pace, was out along the Passage/Monkstown line, up over the hill at Raffeen and returning along the estuary loop past Blackrock Castle. A few (3) of us added 2 loops of the Centre Park Road/Monaghan Road loop to get to 20 miles. The pace dropped towards 8:20 minute miles after 15 miles as group fatigue set in. The programme I'm using asked for a moderate effort for the last 30 minutes which I interpreted as upping the pace below 7:30 minute miles after I hit 18 miles (2.5 miles approx remaining). Surprisingly the increase in pace shook some of the fatigue off and the next mile went by in 7:21. I kept pushing for mile 20 which improved to 7:01 and with less than a mile to go I decided to push under 7:00 pace finishing the last .7 miles @ 6:47 pace and while my HR was a manageable 162 my legs were pretty much done.
400m to go in Ballycotton - I managed to keep all these guys behind me to the finish line except for David O'Mahony (No 891 at th back) - Looks like I am a heel striker when push comes to shove.
Fri 28th Aug 5.12 miles in 42:42 (08:21 pace @ 125HR) - Recovery. Sat 29th Aug 5.24 miles in 40:34 (07:44 pace @ 130HR) - Easy Run. Sun 30th Aug 20.72 in 2:44:50 (07:58 pace @ 130HR) - Long Run. Marathon Training Week # 5/13 - 72.67 miles

Friday, 28 August 2009

I'll take It

A year ago I reported narrowly missing my 5 mile PB of 32:06 in Ballycotton where I posted 32:14. Since then I shaved 3 seconds off it in Bandon at the end of December with 32:03, which is still a soft target compared to my other PB's. So yesterday evening I headed off to Ballycotton to see if I could break the 32 minute barrier and get a real indication of where I am and what my training paces should be. I headed down with Eamon Fitzgerald, a neighbour who had done the previous three races in the series (this was my one and only) and was looking for the coveted plaque given out to those who completed all four (which also guarantees entry to the Ballycotton 10 next March). Traffic was a bit heavy which meant that I had little time for a warmup before the race, getting in less than a mile (not ideal, but that's life). We met up with another neighbour, Pat, who was also in contention for a plaque. The weather was perfect - a beautiful sunny evening. I met David O'Mahony (who also dabbles in Tri) before the race, who indicated that he was heading for 32 minutes so I thought it would be good to start with him - I knew he was capable of faster as he is generally in front of me at the finish line. We stood back about 5 yards from the front runners and when the gun went off there was a slow shuffle for a few seconds before the pace gradually picked up. The pace remained relatively slow over the first quarter of a mile as the congestion was worse than anticipated. As Dave is smaller he managed to squeeze into spaces that I could not and within a matter of a minute he was gone from view. To be honest I probably needed the first half mile to complete my warmup and gradually increase the pace. This half mile was against the wind and the protection of the throng in front of me was welcome. The first mile is primarily downhill and it was relatively easy to pick up the pace towards 6:20 (sub-conscious target pace) - which is the exact time called out at the 1 mile mark. I was on Pat's shoulder at this stage - he was looking strong and came with me for a short while as we continued to pass runners. Left at 1.6 miles and into the wind again. I eased into a comfortable pace drafting off 2 runners in front, knowing that I could go faster but taking advantage to shelter from the worst of the wind. After a short while others began to bunch behind us until one or two pushed ahead - I followed but tucked in behind the front guy. The timekeeper at mile 2, while looking at his watch, did not call out times. (Garmin beeped a 6:22 mile about 20 yards ahead of the marker). Left again away from the wind at 2.5 miles and the first hill of the evening with a gradual rise and a short steep section to the 3 mile mark. At the bottom of the rise I came on the shoulder of Dave, who was "chatting" to another guy. "I must be doing good" I thought "although he can't be suffering as much as I am if he's chatting". Dave came with me as I passed him by, still behind the guy I had been drafting off - although now I was tracking him. Up the short steep hill and left past the 3 mile mark. "19:20" the timekeeper called out as we passed. While I didn't have the computational skills to extrapolate a result from that time (something to do with the exertion of the preceding hill), I did think that I hadn't even covered 5k in 19:20. The 4th mile was undulating which for some strange reason I enjoyed and continued to pass others, with Dave on my shoulder. I'd pull away from him on the downhills and he'd catch up on the uphill noting that I made better use of gravity. "Yeah but i'm fu@k*d on the uphills" was all I could reply. While I wished the race to be over I maintained a solid pace and even passed the guy I had been tracking. "25:25" was the time called out as we passed the 4 mile mark. I knew that I had over 6 and a half minutes to make my sub-32 target and so continued to push, reminding myself that the effort would be worth it and that there was a short distance left. I had left Dave behind me at this stage, how far I didn't know. There were 2 runners about 20 yards in front with half a mile to go. Previously I would have settled for keeping my position behind these 2 (if I was lucky enough not to fade) but I was running at a pace that I wanted to maintain at all cost, despite the discomfort and gradually reeled them in and passed them out just before the 400m to go sign. I was now running scared, close to empty but managed to inject a little extra pace whenever I heard footfalls behind me, which appeared to work until the last 100m when I heard a steam train approaching from behind and while I kicked as hard as I could (i'm not a sprint finisher) I was no match for the guy blasting past me for the finish line. Dave wasn't that far behind me after all. I couldn't have lost to a nicer guy. When I told him afterwards my dismay at being passed so close to the finish he apologised. There was no clock at the finish so I had to check the Garmin, which gave me a 31:21 finish - My official result is 31:22. My mile splits (from a combination of the course timekeepers and the Garmin) were:- 6:20 6:27 (drafting) 6:33 (hill) 6:05 5:57 my splits last year were:- 6:24 6:32 6:44 6:22 6:10 This is my third PB this year, and while the other 2 (10 & 4 miles) rate better using the McMillan running calculator I am pleased with the result as everything is going in the right direction and I have little speedwork under my belt - to be quite honest I don't need a lot of speedwork as my race distances will be increasing over the coming months - HM in 2 weeks, 15 miler in 5 weeks and M in 8 weeks. Mon 24th Aug 8.59 miles in 1:10:42 (08:14 @ 132HR) - with 10 x 15 sec hill sprints Tue 25th Aug 15 miles in 1:52:35 (07:30 pace @ 140HR) - combined 3 mile mixed tempo run (avg 6:39 pace) with a mid week long run so that I could have an easier day before the Ballycotton 5. Wed 26th Aug 9 miles in 1:15:37 (08:24 pace @ 132HR) - barefoot run (6.5 miles on road and 2.5 miles on the beach) Thur 27th Aug a.m. 2.17 miles in 18:15 (8:24 pace @ 126HR) - following 20 mile bike ride in wind and rain p.m. 6.83 miles with 5 miles in 31:22 (6:16 pace @ 160HR) .............and finally Jim Moriarity, who was unable to complete the Bo Peep Traithlon due to injury, was on hand to take a few finishing shots of me approaching/crossing the line.


The final results show my time as 31:23. We all got pushed back one place.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Silver Medal

To-date in my "running career" I have picked up medals for completing 6 marathons, 2 half marathons and a 10k. However the only running medal that I actually won through my blood sweat and tears was a second place masters team medal with Eagle AC in the AAI Munster half marathon championships last September, which I finally received from Pat Murphy, the club secretary, just before we set off on the clubs long run yesterday morning. I think the long wait had something to do with dope testing! You can't be too careful at the elite end of Munster old guys in running vests.
Yesterday's long run felt better than last weeks, as the head and legs had grown more accustomed to the monotony/fatigue and running with others tends to pass the time away quicker. 10 in all started the run with 4 remaining for the full distance, all of whom are training for Dublin (Denis, Paul, Derek and myself). The run, on mainly rural roads around Glounthane and Carrigtwohill, was quite hilly which offered some great views of Cork harbour on a beautiful sunny morning (the only sun we had all weekend). I headed into town with Safan this afternoon to see the final stage of the Tour Of Ireland. We headed for Bakers Road with it's 23% gradient so that we could see how the pro's defy gravity. Conditions were woeful with torrential rain and strong winds with a small river flowing down the hill against the cyclists. Still they powered up the hill as if they were on a Sunday stroll, some of the stronger climbers even using the opportunity to break away.We were soaked through and only stayed to watch 2 of the 3 City laps. I headed to the park for a short run in the evening and as it was an easy/recovery day I decided to run barefoot in the hope of slowly reactivating some of the under-utilised muscles in my lower legs and feet that should provide natural cushioning and take the strain off other muscle groups that have been forced to adapt to cushioned shoes. I ran 6 miles in all, 2 on pavement and 4 on grass, and it felt great. The recent rain had made for wet and muddy conditions in the park. I initially had been avoiding the wettest areas but soon was seeking them out and splashing straight through without a care in the world. It also kept my feet cool (they tend to heat up more being closer to the action). At least I made the most out of the wet weather. The pace in the park was a little faster than my normal "easy" pace as I covered the first 2 miles in 7:30 pace. However it felt very comfortable and so I ended up with a small progression run covering miles 3 and 4 in 7:16 and 6:55 before warming down on the homeward mile.
Friday 21st Aug 5.26 miles in 40:44 (07:45 pace @ 126 HR) Sat 22nd Aug 19 miles in 2:30:11 (07:54 pace @ 129HR) Sun 23rd Aug 6.19 miles in 46:28 (07:31 pace @ 130HR) - barefoot Marathon Training Week 4/13 - 68.55 miles

Thursday, 20 August 2009


All my runs lately appear to average 10 seconds either side of 7:42 pace despite the fact that they all have a different focus - Long, MP, hill reps, hill sprints. My recovery run on Monday was the only one that bucked the trend. My legs were still fatigued from Sunday's long run and the 8:33 pace was all I could muster.


The 20 week programme I am looking at ("Run faster from the 5k to the Marathon" by Brad Higgins & Matt Fitzgerald) calls for a Tuesday run of 3 x 15 minutes @ MP, MP/HMP and HMP/10k Pace. Since I am jumping into the middle of the programme and I haven't done much speedwork I adapted (The main thrust of the book is towards adaptive running) the run to 2 x 2 miles @ MP with 10 x 15 second hills sprints (which I should have done on Monday). For MP I decided on 07:00 to 07:05 pace. The first 2 MP miles were a shade faster at 6:59 & 6:52 - a minute and a half later I was into the hill sprints which went reasonably well. They're sufficiently short to allow for a quick burst of speed (5:14 to 5:48 pace) and recovery. The return MP miles were a little faster than the outbound, particularly as I pushed hard for the last 200 yards of the 2nd mile ( trying to simulate race finish) 06:50/06:31. The start of the 2 warmdown miles was a struggle as my legs recovered from the fast finish but they soon came back to life.
Wednesday I was in Inchydoney visiting my sister and mum. In the evening I managed to get out for a run through the light rain to Ardfield - towards Red Strand and back. There's a nice steady climb from mile 2 for about a mile and a half (08:30 pace outbound and 06:30 inbound) and a nice undulating road to the turnaround at 5.5 miles. It started to pour out of the heavens for the last mile so I continuted past the house to the beach and cooled down in the surf with a few surfers for company.
Today I went looking for a new hill to run on. The programme called for 5 x 3 minutes uphill @ 5k effort. (I swapped Friday's for Thursday's run as I intend to run long on Saturday) Uphill speedwork longer than about 90 seconds efforts is alien to me so I was looking forward to it!!!. However as I had little speedwork in my legs I wasn't going to hold myself to the 5 reps. I warmed up towards the Regional Park and along the Wood Road and turned right over the Bride River to the base of the hill. I decided to run easy to the top of the hill to see how long it was. 16 minutes later I reached the highest point, although after the first mile the gradient eased. I ran at a steady pace back down to the start (a 6:40 mile at 130HR never felt so easy). Turning at the bottom I decided I had time/energy for 3 x 3 minute reps. I set out too fast at the start of the first rep and paid for it towards the end as my legs turned to jelly. For the next 2 the pace was more steady (07:09/07:13) - although both reps fell about 10 yards short of the first (06:54 pace). Still a good workout though.

Mon 17th Aug 7.45 miles in 1:03:47 (08:33 pace @ 118HR)

. Tue 18th Aug 9.64 miles in 1:14:35 (07:44 pace @ 142HR) with 2 x 2 miles @ MP- and 10 x 15sec hill sprints. . Wed 19th Aug 11:28 miles in 1:25:23 (07:34 pace @ 133HR) .

Thur 20th Aug 9.73 miles in 1:15:23 (07:45 pace @ 135HR) with 3 x 3 min hills @ 5k effort.


Sunday, 16 August 2009

Familiar territory & 7 frogs

A late night at the work BBQ, fuelled by a few pints of the black stuff, prevented me from rising for the Eagle AC long run on Saturday morning. I opted for an evening run in the park instead leaving the long run until today. This was the first "real" long run (> 15 miles) for my marathon build, the first in quite a long time. I had nearly forgotten the feeling of long run fatigue where the pace tends to naturally slow to a crawl (if you let it) as your body looses interest in all things involving effort, motivation drops and stopping becomes the sweetest pleasure of all. That is why the long run is so important, you've got to become so familiar with it that you become desensitised to the discomfort over time and it becomes a part of who you are.
I ran the old familiar route into town along the quays and back out Sunday's Well and the Lee Road (Straight Road closed) getting 17.5 miles in over 2:15, with a few jelly beans and a bottle of water for company. I'm sure it'll feel more familiar next week.
Given that i'll continue to train on the bike over the coming months I thought i'd give the triathlon one more lash this year, targeting the 7 frogs triathlon in Castlegregory on 26th September. It's primarily a fun event, sprint and olympic distance, with all proceeds going to the Children's Hospital in Crumlin. As i'm primarily training for endurance, i'll go for the olympic.
Wed 12th Aug
10 miles in 1:17:09 (07:43 pace @ 138 HR) - HR higher that last weeks faster 10 miles. Last 2 miles @ MP (sub 7:10)
Thur 13th Aug
2.5 miles in 19:49 (07:56 pace - treadmill)
Fri 14th Aug
a.m. - 8.86 miles in 1:07:43 (7:39 pace @ 143 HR) with 2 miles @ 06:20 pace & 8 x 15 sec hill sprints (short hill sprints for strength/injury prevention & couldn't go longer after 2 mile tempo)
p.m. 2.5 miles in 19:49 (07:56 pace - treadmill)
Sat 15th Aug
9.14 miles in 1:10:20 (07:42 @ 134 HR) - park.
Sun 16th Aug
17.55 miles in 2:15:00 (7:42 pace @ 132 HR)
Marathon Week # 3/13 - 60.77 miles

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Hard Recovery Day

A 15 mile easy bike ride with Adrian on Sunday morning was sufficient to loosen out my legs after Saturday's triathlon. In the afternoon we all headed to west Cork stopping off in Inchydoney to see my mother before making our way to Goleen for 6 p.m. to sign up for the Route to Crook 5 mile road race. Ani was keen to run the U16's race which was over the last 2.5 miles of the course as her friends, Daire and Eimear (and their 4 other siblings), from home, who were in Goleen for the summer were running it. It was very much a family race as her friends parents, Denis and Shelia were running the 5 miler as was Pat next door, whose son was also running the 2.5 miler. In fact Shelia's family, 7 in all, were also running the race. The only damper was the incessant rain. I met up with Pat Murphy and Niamh Roe from Eagle AC before the race. "Are you running it hard?" Pat asked me. When I replied that I was not racing it we agreed to head out at a comfortably hard sub-7 minute pace. We were soaked through before the start but my short warmup was enough to keep me warm. The course was quite undulating but the rises and falls were sufficiently short to make it manageable. We headed out at a steady pace covering the first mile in 6:30, passing out those who had set off too fast. We settled into a steady pace and continued to pass runners who by now had thinned out. The pace slowed to 6:40 over the 2nd mile as the undulations took their toll, still passing one or two in front until about the 2.5 mile mark where we settled into what would be our final position. Certainly the pace was more manageable with Pat next to me, like a metronome keeping time. Pat indicated across the cloud laden bay to Crookhaven saying "That's where we're going" - too much for me to take on board - it looked miles away and all I could think of was the next 100 yards. We finally turned away from the wind before the 4 mile mark keeping pace about the 6:40 to 6:45 mark. The lone guy in green 100 yards in front was getting no closer as was the guy in black 100 yards in front of him. Finally the village was in sight and we upped the pace slightly in anticipation of the finish line but still kept together to the finish line - although I was given 20th place and Pat 21st (33:09 - 06:38 pace). Niamh finished in 7th taking first female place (30:50). Ani was there to greet me after having finished her 2.5 mile run/jog/walk. Her friend Eimear was first girl U16, which is very good considering she is 10 (no times were recorded). I think they enjoyed jumping off the pier in Crookhaven more than the race though. The results gave me 2nd M40, with Pat getting 3rd M50 - it's a case of being at the right age at the right race - there were 5 x M45's ahead of me. After a quick shower Abina, Ani, Saran and I headed to Denis and Shelia's house in Goleen for a nightcap before heading home in the wee hours. Needless to say there was no early morning recovery run on Monday - although I did manage an easy run in the park after work. This evening was bike time with Puds (close on 28 miles with a 20 minute tempo at 25 MPH - wind assisted and drafting). Although I have no triathlon on the horizon i'll continue with the bike training as it appears to benefit my running with less impact. Sun 9th Aug 5.89 miles with 5 miles in 33:09 (06:38 pace @ 159 HR) Marathon Training week 2/12 - 42.6 miles. Mon 10th Aug 7.72 miles in 01:04:39 (08:22 pace @ 120 HR) Tue 11th Aug 2.5 miles in 19:49 (07:56 pace - treadmill) My training heart rates continue to come down which is a sign that my fitness has come back - sitting on the bike before my workout this evening my HR was in the low 40's, which surprised me. The treadmill test today shows than my HR has recovered to pre-injury levels at last.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Improvements all round

My splits for each segment of this mornings Little Bo Peep Tri were better that last years (including transitions) to give me an overall improvement of 3:49 coming in at 2:18:12 (official time). Ok the first 5k of the 10k run was 3 seconds down. But I made it up on the second 5k. Swim (1.5k) - Sea conditions were excellent - much better that last month at Baltimore. Despite the very good time I didn't feel comfortable at the start as we weren't given room to warmup (blocked off by canoeists) and it took a while to get into my stride. Also did a bit of zig-zagging over the last 500m. T1 - very smooth - although it had rained and the talcum power in my bike & run shoes (in lieu of socks) had turned to mush. Bike (37k) - The usual, passed by lots. First time using my aerobars so I felt more comfortable. Lapse in concentration appears to be my problem on the bike as I find it difficult to "race" the bike leg. Although I put in a good effort over the last 10k, exchanging places with another guy - he beat me into T2 though. T2 - No issues. Run (10k) - Ran out of T2 with the guy who had come in on the bike before me. He was better on the bike but half a mile down the road he was behind me. Caught up with Pete at the mile mark (he had passed me about 20k into the cycle - going strong, but in a bunch of 6, which is technically drafting and could get you a 2 minute penalty if caught). His quads/calves were acting up. Got passed by a relay runner going up the hill after the 2k mark. Eric Wolfe, the eventual winner in 1:58:xx, came against me at about 2.5k. I was passed by a guy at about 4k, but I was faster on the downhill (gravity is great if you know how to use it) and passed him out before the 5k turnaround. Counting those coming against me put me in 40th position overall (37th male/relay). Apart from the guy I had passed out I was clear of the remaining field. It wasn't long before I was passed again by this guy and he put a bit of distance between us on the uphill/flat section to 7.5k. I closed the gap on the downhill to the 8k mark but the gap remained until I crossed the line (36th overall (34th male/relay). Although I felt strong throughout the run I only managed an 8 second improvement on last year. That doesn't worry me though as last year I was further into my Marathon training programme and was heading for an early peak. It's all about pacing - nice and easy. Overall I am very pleased with my result as my primary target was to beat last years time and get under 2:20.
Well done to Derek O'Keeffe of Eagle AC who came in 10th overall in 2:10 (39 minute 10k - very impressive).
Training this week was completly devoid of swimming and cycling as I concentrated on getting a few decent runs in early in the week so as to maintain some sort of volume.

Tue 4th August

7.79 miles in 01:02:23 (08:00 pace @ 136 HR) with 1 x 1 mile @ 6:18 and 6 x 30sec hill sprints.

Wed 5th August

10 miles in 1:13:51 (07:23 pace @ 134 HR) progression run - last mile in 6:40.

Thur 6th August

5 miles in 38:48 (07:45 pace @ 129 HR) easy run.

More later.

Monday, 3 August 2009

More Focus

I finished out this week with 50 miles in the bag as I gradually build up towards Dublin in October (week 1/12). Certainly training for triathlon makes it difficult to focus on marathon specific training programmes, not that i'm complaining. Luckily with school holidays things are more relaxed at home with no rushing in the morning and organising (homework/lunches/bed) at night. My long run on Saturday morning was a 15 miler with Eagle AC on the loop out along the old Passage/Monsktown railway line and up over Rochestown Hill (steady 1.5 mile climb). I added a few miles at the start to get the 15 miles in. Running with others certainly makes it a more social activity and the time flies by. When I got back to my car the key wouldn't work as it had taken on moisture during the run. After sitting around for over a hour waiting for it to "dry out" I decided to run the 2 miles into Town and get a Cab home. I had though about running the extra 7 miles home but it was too early in my schedule for a 20+ mile run and my legs weren't up to the task. A couple of return visits to the car since Saturday and it still won't start so it's a trip to the garage tomorrow to see if I can get it sorted out (running from home does have some advantages I suppose). Sunday was bike time as I headed out on a wet and windy afternoon to cover a 34.8 mile loop to Coachford, Macroom and back home via. the main Cork/Killarney Road. The wind appeared to be against me no matter what direction I was travelling in and I was soaked through. This did not deter me from donning the runners when I got home for a quick 2 mile loop around the block at 7 minute pace to get used to the transition from bike to run. I find that a higher cadence for the first half mile of the run tends to thaw out my feet quicker and gradually increasing my stride length helps ease me into a faster pace. Whether I can maintain that pace for 6.22 miles next Saturday remains to be seen. The field next Saturday may not be as strong as that in Baltimore as Little Bo Peep is not on the National Championship Circuit.
Thur 30th July p.m. Bike 21.3 miles in 01:06:04 (19.4 MPH @ 136 HR) Hilly loop to Crossbarry, Halfway and Bandon Road via the Viaduct. Fri 31st July
Run 2.5 miles in 19:48 (0756 pace - Treadmill) - Easy Day
July (Run 144 miles, Bike 301 miles, Swim 7,500m)
Sat 1st August
15 miles in 01:59:38 (07:57 pace @ 131 HR)
2.13 miles in 17:36 (08:16 pace @ 135 HR)
Sun 2nd August
Bike 34.8 miles in 01:47:30 (19.4 MPH @ 136 HR)
Run 2.12 miles in 14:46 (06:57 pace @ 140 HR)
25th July - 2nd August (Run 50.75 miles, Bike 80.53 miles, Swim 2,900m)
Mon 3rd August
Run 7.74 miles in 01:03:24 (08:12 pace @ 126 HR) Recovery run