Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Dublin...The Story

In the few days before Dublin I read the Pfitz-Douglas advice on "Race-Day Strategy" (Chapter 7). They split the race into three sections:- The first half in which the opening pace should be a little less than race pace and the job is to cruise to 13.1 miles without expending too much mental energy. If you're not cruising over this section then you're in trouble for the second half. On to 20 miles - the no-man's-land of the marathon where mental discipline & focus is required to maintain pace which tends to drift due to lapses in concentration more than anything else. Bad patches can be expected but they should pass. The final 6 miles and 385 yards - The key is to push as hard as you can without having disaster strike in the form of cramps. This assumes that you have something left in the tank. If not then it can be a very painful experience. My race experience in Dublin fits nicely into these three sections but not necessarily for the reasons outlined above. But first things first.................... Preparation Pat and I rose about six and after a hearty breakfast (porridge, muesli, bagels/peanut/banana) we loaded up with every conceivable thing we could possibly think we might need (in duplicate) and after numerous trips to the toilet left for the 10 mile+ drive into town shortly before 0730. On arrival we hung around the toilets on Merrion Square for a half an hour, resting on the steps of one of the georgian buildings fronting the square as we did our pre-race preparation - greasing, plastering nipples, loading up gels, stretching ........until we handed in our bags and headed for the start line with about 40 minutes to go. We met up with Pat Twomey and Tadhg Og Lynch and were joined by Derek O'Keeffe, Denis Looney, Denis Carroll and Thomas. No sign of John Desmond and Paul Daly who also had arranged to meet us. Conditions were perfect - mild, no wind and sunny. We were about 30 yards back from the front. This was the first time that pacers were being used in Dublin with pacing balloons for 3:00, 3:30, 4:00 and 4:30 I think. There was a big cheer when one of the two yellow 3:30 balloons escaped from its minder and floated skywards. "How do they expect us to follow that". I took a Go gel 5 minutes before the start. My belt was loaded with 8 gels and 3 Salt Caps and I still had a further gel in my pocket. My number was hanging from my belt also - which turned out to be a bad idea as I found out in the opening 100 yards. The First Half Finally the gun went off and we trotted for a 100 yards before the pace gradually picked up. It was evident early on that the first mile would not be at target race pace, due to the congestion. The first thing I noticed was the weight of my gel belt when running felt far more uncomfortable (particularly as over half my gels were the large 60ml Go gels) that I would have expected. While I thought the belt was tight when stationary it now felt loose and started rising and falling with every step and rotating around my waist. My number folded up and was no longer visible but as long as it stayed on my belt and the belt stayed on me I was ok (the timing chip was on the number). So the first half mile was spent transferring the heavy gels from my belt to my pockets as I tried to redistribute my payload. Thomas's reference to being like a pack mule certainly rang true.
I lost Thomas momentarily during the first mile and the two Pats had gone out in front - repeat of Cork to Cobh. Mile 1 went by in 7:33 (139 HR) (although we passed a 1 mile sign at 7:03 - The Garmin was set to manual laps). We caught up with the two Pats halfway up O'Connell Street and for a spell we were all together. Mile 2 in 7:04 and Mile 3 in 7:08 (152 & 157 HR) - we were on target pace or thereabouts but my HR's were higher than expected). I'm not too sure who was with me at this stage other than Pat Twomey who exchanged the lead with me from time to time up to about mile 5 or 6 in the Phoenix Park. I hadn't seen Thomas or Pat for some time and while I had assumed they were close behind this assumption faded the longer I couldn't see them. Pat told me later that, as he was pacing off Pat Twomey, he stopped to use the loo in the Phoenix Park when Pat Twomey did, but when he emerged he was on his own and ran on his own until the 8 mile mark when he was joined by Paul Daly, who paced him most of the way to the finish. I missed the split for the 4 mile mark. Shortly before the 5 mile mark I bumped into Paudie Birmingham as I rounded the corner onto Chesterfield Avenue. I don't know how he spotted me as I came from behind - He introduced himself by saying "Solo Run?" - I guessed who he was from his Mallow AC singlet. He certainly looked comfortable. We wished each other well as I went on my way chasing Pat Twomey through the Phoenix Park. Miles 4 & 5 in 14:06 (07:03 average @ 157 HR). Miles 1 to 5 in 35:51 (51 seconds off 7:00 target pace). For most of the race I only ever concentrated on current mile pace (which is what the Garmin was set to - that and heart rate) as opposed to overall pace. If you look after each mile the race will take care of itself. Pat and I were running on the shoulder of another well known Cork runner, Mary Sweeney, between miles 4 and 6. It was at the 6 mile mark that I lost contact with Pat and was largely on my own for the rest of the race. Mile 6 in 7:10 (160 HR) - 43:01 total I passed over the 10k timing mat in 44:52 clock time (44:28 chip time) . Mile 7 and 8 went by in 14:04 (07:02 pace @ 163HR - 57:05 total) despite being a net downhill (two years ago I recorded a 6:45 pace for mile 8 and had anticipated a faster pace this time out). This was the first period in the race where I felt things might be getting a bit tough and my HR was already above 160. My fueling strategy of taking a gel every 3 miles or so was working so far.
The 9th mile took us out of the Phoenix Park to Chapelizod. While I thought I was under a bit of pressure my time for miles 9 to 11 of 20:51 (06:57 pace @ 162 HR - 1:17:56) suggested I was doing fine. Miles 6 to 10 in 35:08 approx (8 seconds off target 7:00 pace - 59 seconds off target in total) As I was concentrating on mile splits i was neither aware of or concerned about the overall time deficit.
The long drag out the Crumlin Road, while easier that previous years as there was no headwind, still slowed my pace giving Mile 12 in 7:14 (159 HR) The reduced HR suggests I was slacking or taking a mid-race breather. From about mile 11 to the halfway mark I was tracking 3 guys from Slaney Olympic running club with their distinctive Wexford Colours. They helped drag me up the Crumlin Road and after the 12th mile rest Mile 13 came in at 7:03 (still 159 HR though). As I crossed the halfway timing mat with 1:33:35 on the clock (1:33:11 chip time) I heard the 3 guys checking with each other that they were ok for what I thought was an increase in pace and that they should make it under 3:10. I said that 3:10 and under was certainly achievable. On to 20 miles Once the halfway point was crossed I felt I had crossed a threshold as there was less left to run that I had run. Over the next few miles I felt very comfortable in my pace. I had passed the three guys from Slaney Olympic and there was no one to pace off as no one was running at my pace. I was picking off runners in front and passing them out - certainly a new experience for me at this stage in the race. Miles 14 & 15 came in at 14:08 (07:04 pace @ 160HR) - 15 miles in 1:46:21 (81 seconds off 7:00 pace avg) Miles 11 to 15 in 35:22 approx (22 seconds off target pace) This section of the race was my most comfortable. I began engaging with the crowds of spectators at each junction encouraging them to cheer which gave me a great boost - for about 100 yards after which my pace fell back to normal. I continued to pour gels into me every 3 miles and had taken an S-cap at mile 9 (another due at mile 18) and while I was less inclined to take them as the race wore on I took them "whether I liked them or not" and suffered no ill effect (other than my pace dropped while taking them which was more noticeable towards the end). I only took water at the stations refusing offers of gels and sports drinks - and water was all I wanted. Mile 16 in 7:01 (160 HR) and 17 in 7:08 (162HR) went by uneventfully but all the time dropping seconds off my original 7:00 target. My primary goal, however, was to keep going at the same effort level and get over the rise up to Fosters Avenue and the 20 mile mark fairly intact - no heroics. From mile 16 I was counting down the final 10 miles. Mile 18 and 19 came in at 14:24 (07:12 avg @ 161 HR) as the long drag from Clonskeagh to the Roebuck Road commenced. This is usually the section where you begin to see a noticeable increase in the number of runners reduced to run/walking. Shortly before the 20 mile mark I heard a scream from a runner lying at the side of the road as an elderly lady tried to stretch his hamstring. My pace had reduced to 7:30 - 7:40 pace along this section as the road rose to Fosters Avenue and fell again towards the Stillorgan Road. I missed the 20 miles mark but recorded a slow 14:56 for Miles 20 & 21 (07:28 pace @ 163 HR)
Miles 16 to 20 in 36:01 approx (61 seconds off target pace - 142 seconds in total) The final 6 miles and 385 yards From about mile 18 my left glute and hip was giving pain and my right calf was tightening up. While I felt reasonably comfortable at mile 20 I was not willing to push myself too much particularly as I was not chasing a specific time goal and the risk of disaster if my right calf began to cramp was too much. Having said that Mile 22 came in at 7:03 (161 HR) but that was my last sub 7:10 mile. Shortly after the 22 mile mark I came up on Denis Carroll, which surprised me as he is a consistently even paced runner who finishes ahead of me in local races in Cork. I suspected that he must have went out at a pace that he could not maintain and had suffered as a result (on checking the results later he passed the halfway mark close to 1:30 suggesting that he was chasing the elusive 3 hour barrier - i'm glad I wasn't chasing the same goal as I would have suffered more than Denis).
Mile 23 in 7:14 was respectable (162HR) but Mile 24 slowed to 7:41 (164HR) while the effort felt the same. Still I felt reasonably comfortable compared to my typical mile 24 of previous marathons. John Quigley from Eagle was taking photos at mile 24.5 but somehow managed to miss me despite my Eagle singlet. The last 2 miles were more of a struggle as the effort level increased just to keep the pace from dropping. Still it was quite manageable and I was still able to raise my arms to the crowds lining the streets encouraging cheers, although it was much more of a chore than it had been at mile 16. Mile 25 in 7:40 (163HR) Mile 21 to 25 in 37:06 approx (126 seconds off target pace, 266 seconds in total) My finishing pace over the last 1.2 miles around Trinity College and down Nassau Street remained below 8 minute pace and raising my arms approaching the finish line cost me another few seconds as I was passed with 10 yards to go. The first time I was aware of the overall time was the 3:08:xx on the clock about 200 yards before the finish - I suspect this clock is there to spur on runners that may be tight for a specific time goal - I might have put in a supreme effort if the clock had showed 2:59:09 - but 3:08:xx didn't inspire the same urgency. I crossed the line with 3:09:22 on the clock and a chip time of 3:08:58 which will do me nicely. 472nd overall and 77th M40. So a top 500 position in Dublin for the first time out of 10,413 finishers and a PB by 8 minutes & 7 seconds. Pat came in just over a minute later to record an 11 minute PB of 1:10:15 and Paul Daly a minute later again to record a 22+ minute PB of 3:11:11. We limped our away around Merrion Square to the physio tent and met John Desmond and Derek O'Keeffe who both had beaten the 3 hour barrier by a minute or 2, Derek in his first marathon, which is a fantastic achievement.
Recovery The post race physio was the best I ever got after a marathon and no one touched my legs. Instead we were taken through our paces as we did a series of whole body stretches from the neck down and warmdown exercises under the guidance of a nice looking girl with a headset all to the sound of music. You can imagine it is the last thing someone would want after running 26.2 miles but I walked out of there with my legs relatively intact and in working order and while I expected to cease up during the 3 hour plus drive back to Cork later in the day I was no worse and Pat an I headed for a pint of the black stuff at the local before heading home. Following a thrall through hundreds of photos on line at (thanks Darren) This was the only photo I could find... coming in with just under a mile to the finish line and 1 gel still hanging from my belt and another in the zipped pouch.
My recovery continues and while my legs have never felt better after a marathon ( some tenderness in my quads) I will not run for a few more days. An easy 500m swim today and a bike ride before the weekend will do me for now.

Monday, 26 October 2009


My 2 previous Dublin marathons left me wasted well before the finish line. Today was time for revenge. 1) I was going to beat the course and 2) I was going to enjoy doing it. Conditions were perfect for running, mild with sunny spells and little wind. While my 7:00 opening pace did not materialise I wasn't too far off the mark and from the few clocks around the course my splits were approximately:- 10k - 44:xx 21.1k - 1:33:3x (Halfway) 30k - 2:12:xx Finish - 3:09:23 (3:08:58 on the Garmin - 7:12 pace) My fueling strategy went to plan as I loaded up with sugar right to the 24 mile mark. It was only the last 2 miles that felt tough as my pace slackened to 7:40 minute miles. My average HR of 160 (despite it rising above this earlier than expected) suggests that my heart is stronger than my legs - so there may be room for improvement. Time for a shower and the drive back to Cork...........I hope my legs survive the journey! More later..................... Mon 26th October 26.2 miles in 3:08:58 (07:12 PACE @ 160hr) - Provisional result of Dublin City Marathon - beat my PB by 8 minutes.

Sunday, 25 October 2009


My last run in my build up to Dublin was an easy 4 miler in the park yesterday on a beautiful sunny afternoon. My legs felt fine and I can't say I have any niggles - no excuses.
Today I travelled to Dublin with Pat next door picked up our bits and bobs at the RDS and made a few purchases. I bought a gel belt as I could not find my belt at home when packing. This belt can hold 6 gels with a further 2 in a zipped pocket - so there may be no need to carry any in my shorts. The belt also holds a small plastic container (not unlike that used for camera film) which I have assumed is for carrying tablets - it could be handy for the salt tablets I bought in "The Edge" shop yesterday in my futile quest for a replacement fuel belt.
We met a few more Eagles in the RDS, runners and supporters alike. We agreed to meet about 30 yards behind the start line (on the right hand side) in the morning about 30 minutes before the start. Pat and I stopped in Blackrock for some pasta (with a side order of spaghetti) before heading to my brother's home in Cabinteely for the night. Just loading up the belts, reading some last minute advice picked up at the expo and keeping blogs up to date.
Wish us luck!
Sat 24th Oct
4 miles in 32:24 (08:06 pace @ 126HR)
Marathon Week 13/13 - 22.44 miles.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Dodging Bullets

Having got through my marathon build without an injury I thought I was on the home straight. Then illness hit my family with all four children out sick from school on Monday with varying complaints from colds, headaches & nausea - you name it they got it. To add to my worries I was feeling mild aches, pains and shivers which is a normal indication of worse to come, but I was hoping that it was a mild reaction to the flu jab I got at work last Thursday. As the week went on the feeling subsided and the kids began to drift back to school (not all there yet) so hopefully I have avoided catching anything.
I continued with my taper getting 43 miles in last week culminating in a 12.7 mile run with Eagle AC on Sunday (8 in all with 7 of us running Dublin - 5 of us with targets of between 7:00 and 7:15 pace - interesting!). This is the first year that there will be pacers in the marathon (I assume from 3hr pace and up @ 15 minute intervals) We had a bit of a laugh when someone (who shall remain nameless) concluded that the pacers will guarantee that you come in at a certain time - it'll be hard enough for the pacers to guarantee their own time not to mind yours.
Tuesdays track session was 3 x 1,600m at MP with no recoveries. A further discussion with Pat and Paul after the session on what pace we'll run on Sunday was inconclusive. They'll be heading out at 7:10 to 7:20 pace and perhaps ramp up to 7:00 pace after 2 miles. The advice from the coach (Liam - Laurence to some ;) was to certainly to go out slower than MP so as to avoid the early build up of lactic acid - 5 or 10 seconds per mile too fast could be enough to tip the balance in favour of hitting the wall early and often, and it is easy to make up 20 or 30 seconds from mile 3 to 20 compared to what could be lost later in the race if you head out too fast. Pace should be conversational (but without the conversation).
Wednesday's lunchtime run was an easy recovery run (needless to say Brendan was absent) just to keep my legs ticking over.
This evening was the dress rehearsal with 2 MP miles built into a 7 mile run. I even loaded 6 gels into the pockets of my shorts (3 more could fit on my running belt) for a more realistic simulation. The run went reasonably smoothly - the 2 warmup miles @ 7:30 pace went very smoothly, the 2nd MP mile felt a little tougher than the first although the HR's were similar (144/146) and the 3 warmdown miles felt a little tougher than the 7:5x pace @ 139/144/144 HR. Still I'm not worried as long as I can remain illness free for the next few days. All that's left now is 1 or 2 easy runs before heading to Dublin on Sunday.
Sat 17th Oct
5 miles in 40:20 (08:04 pace - treadmill)
Sun 18th Oct
12.66 miles in 1:43:50 (8:12 pace @ 128 HR)
Marathon Training Week #12/13 - 43.69 miles
Tue 20th Oct
6.39 miles in 48:54 (7:39 pace @ 136 HR) with 4,800m @ MP (07:00)
Wed 21st Oct
5.02 miles in 41:40 (8:18 pace @ 124 HR)
Thur 22nd Oct
7.03 miles in 52:53 (7:32 @ 139 HR) with 2 miles @ MP (7:01 pace)

Friday, 16 October 2009

Walking the walk

While this week sees a cut in running volume, running quality has taken a front seat with an emphasis on race pace - I have to get used to the feel of 7 minute miles. All runs have been in the evening, which is unusual for me. I'm not complaining as it gave me extra rest in the morning.
Tuesday at the track was the first session of the week where I teamed up with John D for what I though would be 1k sets. John suggested we ease up on the speed with 95 second laps (90 seconds in previous weeks) but somehow we ended up doing 2k repeats, 3 in all (the most track speedwork I have done this build). The extra 5 seconds per lap made all the difference and the repeats felt smooth, coming in 5 or 6 seconds under the 7:55 target. Wednesdays run was relatively short at 5 miles so I had decided to test out my marathon pace after the mile warmup - initially intending to run 3 x 7 minute miles but I kept the effort up over the last mile coming in at 28:07 for the 4 miles (07:01 pace) with my HR maxing at 150. Todays run was a 10 miler again with the bulk of it at MP. I figured that this would be my last hard session with plenty of time to recover as I'm still 10 days out from Dublin. I had initiallly planned for 8 MP miles, cut it back to 5 or 6 early in the run and ultimately extended it out to 9 miles as I wanted to see how my HR would vary. Once I got into the 7 minute groove my pace felt comfortable and steady for the bulk of the run with very little deviation except for the few undulations where I kept the effort reasonably even and the pluses and minuses balanced each other out. I didn't want to push the inclines too much just to maintain pace as the price would be too much in a marathon - I knew the average pace would drop again as the rise gave way to a fall. There were a couple of spots where my pace drifted off and I had to concentrate on gradually upping it to get back on track. I covered the 9 miles in 63:02 (07:00 pace) with splits varying with the undulations from 6:53 to 7:07. My avg HR for each mile rose from 136 (low following stretching after warmup mile) to 156, with a max of 161 - similar to the first 9 miles of Cork to Cobh. I would hope to keep my average HR for each mile below 160 for the first half of Dublin which should leave me enough in the tank for the more demanding second half. Tue 13th Oct 2.5 miles in 19:49 (07:56 pace - Treadmill) 8 miles @ about 7:56 pace with 3 x 2k in 07:48/50 (06:17/18 pace) Wed 14th Oct 5.28 miles in 37:37 (7:07 @ 139 HR) with 4 miles in 28:07 (07:01 pace) Fri 16th Oct 10.25 miles in 01:12:31 (07:04 pace @ 147 HR) with 9 miles in 63:02 (07:00 pace)

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Let the waiting game begin

At last - the work is done, last long run under my belt, time to sit back and pile on the lbs as I fill myself with carbs and water, storing them like a camel for the long journey ahead. 7 of us in all headed out from UCC farm this morning for a hilly run through the countryside with John, the route selector, like the conductor of an orchestra pointing this way and that whenever we came to a crossroads and turned to him for guidance. 6 of us (John, Derek, Pat, Paul, Denis and I) are heading to Dublin in 2 weeks time and Phil to New York the week after. The last and only time I completed this hilly run I had a calf tear on the last climb so when I got to the top of said climb today I dropped to my knees and kissed the road. Injury free and only 2 weeks to go, now is the time for even more caution! Looks like I will have some company in Dublin as Paul, Pat and I ,who finished within a minute of each other in Cork to Cobh, agreed to head out at 7:00 pace and at least stay together through the first 15 to 20 miles. After that it's a 10k sprint to the finish ;) A few laps of the 2.3 mile circuit around UCC farm after the run got me to 20.9 miles for the day and just over the 70 mile mark for the week - only the second 70+ mile week during this marathon build. Lets see if quality beats quantity in 2 weeks time. Sat 10th Oct 10.72 miles in 1:25:00 (07:56 pace @ 133 HR) with 9 x 15 second hill sprints - went longer than planned but it was a lovely sunny morning. Sun 11th Oct 20.9 miles in 2:52:17 (08:15 @ 140 HR) - Hilly Run Marathon Training Week #11/13 - 70.76 miles.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Exercising Caution

Mondays run was a recovery run with Brendan at lunchtime. The effort certainly felt harder than the pace/HR displayed on the Garmin and my legs were pretty stiff after Sundays run. The 138 HR for the 8 minute pace was certainly higher than normal for me which showed that I was recovering despite the fact that I had not run hard on Sunday. Still I suppose 15 miles at MP should have some impact if 26.2 miles at the same pace makes walking downstairs a chore. Brendan on the other had appeared very energetic after his 1:38 Cork to Cobh. As I was unable to get to the track on Tuesday evening I opted for an easy 7 miler in the park which was all I needed as there was still some residual tightness in my calves from Sunday. I was also conscious of the fact that following Cork to Cobh last year I had a track session on the Tuesday and suffered a calf strain during a 2 mile tempo run on the Thursday which upset the rest of my training plan for Amsterdam. Obviously I had not recovered fully following Cork to Cobh. Wednesday was mid-week long run day although the (half ) planned 15 miles was cut to under 14 as I was a bit tardy in getting up and out the door (one foot in the bed syndrome). With a work induced day off on Thursday I was ready for a bit of speedwork this morning - I can't avoid it altogether. Despite the early rise on Wednesday and again for work on Thursday I was reasonably refreshed this morning with all the residual tightness in my legs gone. I had enough time for 2 x 3 miles @ HM pace (the slower end of Tempo pace). The first 3 miles went by reasonably well in 6:38/35/32 (6:35 avg). On the return leg along Inchagaggin Lane and back out the Straight Road through Ballincollig I kept pace behind a guy on a bike for about a mile and a half (his flashing red tail-light was all I could see). He pulled away on the flat but came back to me on the rise past Carrigrohane Post Office. I must have spooked him a little - a bit disconcerting hearing footfalls and heavy breathing behind you in the pre-dawn darkness. My pace suffered over the second mile (net rise) but recovered to give a 6:39 average pace (6:38/46/33). The good news is that my calves held up to run another day. I've been thinking about my race day nutrition strategy as it is the single most important factor when it come to maintaining race pace, particularly over the last 6 miles, if I am lucky enough to get that far without bonking. What got me thinking about it was Nics experience in the Fox Cities Marathon, (where he missed a sub-3 hour time by 8 seconds) and how a lack of fuel can lead to a serious bonk, despite feeling on top of the world beforehand. Although I think Nics problem on the day was his body's inability/refusal to take on fuel. I have read that about 300 calories per hour is the optimum requirement. This site recommends 0.5g of carbs per lb of body weight per hour which for me (about 180lbs) equates to about 90g of carbs per hour. The GO gels I use have 22g of carbs & 87 calories - so i'd need to take 4 per hour which appears a bit excessive. This other site reckons that, for my body weight and race pace, I will burn 972 calories per hour and that as "Research shows runners can physically absorb about 30 percent of what they expend" I should be replacing 292 calories per hour, but only after 60 to 90 minutes of racing (I assume when glycogen stores diminish) They all point towards taking 3 to 4 gels per hour (assuming water is the only fluid intake) but I would be a bit reluctant to wait 60 to 90 minutes before taking on carbs. My own thoughts are that if I can keep it down the more the merrier. Comments/advice welcome.............. especially on how to carry that many gels.
Have a good weekend Mon 5th Oct 5.67 miles in 45:12 (7:59 pace @ 138 HR) Tue 6th Oct 2.5 miles in 19:49 (07:56 pace - treadmill) 7.26 miles in 56:12 (7:44 pace @ 131 HR) Wed 7th Oct 13.71 miles in 1:45:24 (7:42 pace @ 135HR) Fri 9th Oct 10 miles in 1:11:54 (7:11 pace @ 147HR) with 2 x 3 miles in19:45 & 19:57 (39:42 - 6:37 avg)

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Resisting the urge

There were a couple of times during todays Cork to Cobh 15 miler that the urge came on me to break out of the 7 minute miles I was running and chase after a few "hares". I resisted until about the last mile and a half which was too late to do any real damage to my plans for a trial marathon paced (fingers crossed) run. I headed into town with Pat O'Connor, my next door neighbour, with plenty of time to get in 5 miles before the race, but ended up warming up over 2.5 miles. Pat was planning on heading out at 7:00 pace also. I was a few rows behind him and Pat Twomey at the start. Pat Twomey was aiming for 7:10 pace, so I thought I would see them both once we settled into our paces. Some of the other Eagles were heading out at 6:45 pace (the sub-3 club) and others at 7:30 pace. I settled into a comfortable pace from the start covering the first mile in 7:03. No sign of the 2 Pats. They must have headed out at a faster pace, which should not have surprised me. I tried to mimic my plan for Dublin by taking on plenty of gels to see if I could stomach them - no issue there - I took 4 in all. For the first 8 miles I settled into a small group of runners that appeared to be yo-yoing back and forth against my steady pace. I passed halfway in 52:18 (06:58 pace - 12 seconds ahead of target) and the half marathon point in 1:31:12 (06:57 pace - 34 seconds ahead of target).
My pace upped slightly after 13.5 miles as I heard a few runners on my heels and basic instinct kicked in. Shortly before the 14 mile mark I caught up with Pat Twomey and could see Pat O'Connor ahead. As my legs were relatively fresh I decided to go for it over the last mile - "can't hurt me that much". I don't think Pat was too happy as I came up behind him with half a mile to go. I pushed on passing a few more and down the hill for a sprint finish to the line stopping my watch at 1:43:15 - 6:01 for the last mile and 105 seconds ahead of target. A slow 2.5 mile warmdown with Pat gave us 20 miles for the day. Well done to Brendan who had a "Cork to Cobh" to remember! Can I hold 7 minute pace for a marathon - I don't know but i'll give it a good shot if the first 15 miles feel anything like today.
Splits as follows:-
Mile Pace Time HR
1 00:07:03 00:07:03 132
2 00:06:54 00:13:57 143
3 00:06:57 00:20:54 142
4 00:06:59 00:27:53 144
5 00:06:54 00:34:47 148
6 00:06:57 00:41:44 154
7 00:07:02 00:48:46 155
8 00:06:57 00:55:43 156
9 00:06:57 01:02:40 152
10 00:06:55 01:09:35 153
11 00:07:01 01:16:36 158
12 00:06:47 01:23:23 159
13 00:07:04 01:30:27 165
14 00:06:47 01:37:14 165
15 00:06:01 01:43:15 169
Sun 4th Oct 20.12 miles in 2:25:46 (07:15 pace @ 147 HR) with 15 miles in 1:43:15 (06:53 pace @ 153 HR) Marathon Training Week 10/13 - 67.08 miles. Postscript:- Photos at 100m to go. .

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Tough Tempo

Of all speedwork sessions I do I find the tempo run the toughest of them all. Fartleks are fast, brief and "fun" (well it does translate as speedplay). Intervals are short, controlled and measured - especially on the track. Hill sprints are likewise relatively short, although muscle zapping. Tempo runs and long ones in particular are all about the mental game of hanging on and toughing it out, fighting the desire to quit - which is some of the best race training you can get - but certainly not fun, especially before 7 in the morning. As I am close to my peak training week I reckoned Friday's tempo run should be long so I decided on 2 x 4 miles @ HM pace, which based on my last race is about 6:40 miles. When I rose shortly after 5 however I was already settling for any pace between 6:40 and 7:00, with my priority running the overall distance at a comfortably hard effort. After a mile and a half warmup I set off on the first 4 miles starting out relatively slow. Running hard early in the morning is still a bit of a shock to the system and takes a bit of time to adjust to. The first mile was the slowest at 6:48 and I got progressively faster - 6:41, 6:38 and 6:26 giving 26:35 in all (6:39 pace - on target). After a half mile recovery I was less than confident going into the return 4 miles and had thought about cutting it short or at least splitting it up especially as the pace was suffering - 6:46 & 6:50 for the first 2 miles. I half expected this due to an overall lack of tempo/endurance training. However I pushed on for mile 3 and improved to 6:38. "Only one mile to go, no point in splitting the run it's all about pushing the barrier and recruiting those hard to mobilise muscle fibres that only come out in an emergency such as miles 20 to 26.2 at the end of the month - stopping for a temporary recovery will be counter productive". The pace over that last mile got faster the closer I got to the end - in anticipation of that imaginary finish line - 6:24. 26:38 for the return 4 miles (06:40 pace - done and dusted) 3 seconds slower that the first 4. All in all a good specific endurance run and glad that I didn't bail. Todays run in the park was a relatively easy 5 miler as my calves continue to loosen up. Hopefully they will be loose enough to churn out some decent MP miles tomorrow. Friday 2nd Oct 11.86 miles in 1:23:49 (7:04 pace @ 151 HR) with 2 x 4 miles in 26:35 & 26:38 (53:13 - avg 6:39 pace) Sat 3rd Oct 5.24 miles in 41:13 (07:52 pace @ 125 HR) .

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Time to move on

It's about time I concentrated on my training for Dublin. With a little over 4 weeks to go I have another 2 weeks of solid training before tapering. The first test of my marathon legs will be on Sunday morning in the 15 miles between Cork & Cobh. Unlike last year I won't be looking for a PB but a solid performance with at least 10 of the 15 miles at marathon pace, which I have optomistically set at 7 minute mile pace. If I finish in 1:45 feeling "relatively" fresh i'll have a better idea of my capability come October 26th. My plan is to get in an additional 5 miles between the warmup and cooldown to get 20 in total. I stand corrected in my last post in relation to the wait for the results of last weekends Tri (apologies Nuala) as the results were e-mailed to me on Monday. my splits were:- Swim - 00:28:07 (7th - closer to 1800m) T1 - 00:2:26 (including 200m run) Bike - 1:27:00 (including 2 saddle fittings) T2 - 00:00:59 Run - 00:35.23 (4th - about 8.6k = 6:39 mile pace) Overall - 2:33:55 I reckon I lost about 13 minutes on the bike and would have come in around 2:21 if my saddle had stayed on. Ah well there's always next time. This week got off to a poor start on the running front as a long day on the work front (0625 - 1900) put paid to any notions of hitting the road on Monday. Tuesday was track day with another 5 x 1,000m in 3:45 (6 minute mile pace) in the bag. I know I probably should be upping the number or reps or the distance as I get closer to peak week but I was happy to do the 5. I ran with John and Paud from the club, who are both faster that I am, which showed during the last rep when they sprinted off with 200m to go and put 60m on me coming in at 3:22 to my 3:31. All in all a good workout. The early rise on Wednesday morning to get my mid-week medium-long run in before 7 was tough particularly as I left it a bit late and pushed the pre-dawn pace a little more that i'm used to in order to make sure I got the 15 miles in (last weeks late rise cost me 3.5 miles). What can I say I need the endurance. I'm still waiting for the day i'll get sense and pack it all in. Todays run was consigned to a 4.5 mile run around Bishopstown during a late lunchbreak before collecting Ani from school. I don't think she appreciated the fact that her Dad collected her from school by "running up the road past the school gate looking all sweaty". While stretching against the front of the car one of the mums asked whether I had trouble with the car or my calf and did I need any help. Tue 29th Sept 2.5 miles in 19:49 (07:56 pace - Treadmill) 7.83 miles in 1:06:49 (8:32 pace @ 131HR) with 5 x 1k in 3:41/43/40/42/31 Wed 30th Sept 15 miles in 1:54:06 (07:36 pace @ 138HR) September (Run 198 miles, Bike 250 miles, Swim 6.8km) Thur 1st Oct 4.54 miles in 33:35 (07:24 pace @ 138HR) September