Thursday, 26 November 2009

Plugging Away

I finished off my 4th marathon recovery week with back to back 14 mile runs. The first on Saturday was a very hilly solo run through strong winds and intermittent rain. After the heavy rains and recent flooding there was a lot of runoff from the land and the road was more like a river in places. Sunday's club run, by comparison was a relatively flat run through the city to inspect flood damage. At least some people were having fun. The track was closed on Tuesday due to a public sector strike over impending wage cuts so I managed to get out this evening instead to get some more of those 2km intervals in, this time 4 no. with a target 6:40 pace (08:20 overall). I didn't want to push the normal 6:20 pace after my MP run yesterday although I came pretty close during the last rep.
With the marathon four week behind me I should be able to push a little harder over the coming weeks with my distant targets likely to be the Barcelona Marathon on 7th March and the Connemara Ultra 5 weeks later (which I signed up for last night). I know the advice from those who have gone before is to pick one or the other but not both. So I run the risk of hearing the words "I told you so" from a certain Kerry runner on April 11th. What can I say I like the odds. Thur 19th Nov 2.5 miles in 19:49 (07:56 pace - Treadmill) Fri 20th Nov 5.22 miles in 37:02 (07:06 pace @ 142HR) Progression run - 7:55/7:18/6:41/6:26/7:06 Sat 21st Nov 14.23 miles in 1:57:54 (08:17 @ 140HR) Hilly run Sun 22nd Nov 14.82 miles in 2:08:05 (08:39 @ 125 HR) Club Run Recovery Week #4 - 45.28 miles Tue 24th Nov
2.5 miles in 19:49 (07:56 pace - Treadmill) 7.29 miles in 59:49 (08:17 pace @ No HR Monitor) with 5 x 15 sec hill sprints Wed 25th Nov 5.99 miles in 41:59 (07:01 pace @ 146 HR) Steady (MP) Run Thur 26th Nov 8.3 miles in 1:04:45 (07:48 pace @ 134 HR) with 4 x 2 km in 8:11/17/07/7:57 w/2 min recoveries

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Cross Country

My cross country baptism went quite well considering! It's hard to know how hard I raced as pace comparison with road racing goes out the window when you have to deal with shin deep mud, cratered surfaces and bog holes. At least I headed off the biggest potential problem by buying a cheap pair of spikes the day before. The 7km mens course was three and a half laps of undulating terrain around a farm just south of Bandon GAA Club. As it was a club only event the various clans congregated together at the start line, each group noticeable by their club colours (a charged atmosphere). My warmup consisted of a half mile run to break in my new shoes and saturate my feet and socks to acclimatise them to the task at hand. I forgot how much animal compacted clay has the capacity to hold water, even on hills. My strategy was to start conservative and take it out at a steady sustainable pace, which worked out pretty well and gave me confidence as the race progressed. The first half lap was all about getting used to the terrain - letting go on the down hills and plugging away at an even effort on the uphills. I settled into an even pace/effort and appeared to find my placing ,which when looking back after half a mile was certainly closer to the back than the front. However I plugged away and didn't really mind the energy sapping nature of the surface. While the hills were tough I appeared to be steadily gaining places - one or two runners would surge forward when I came on their shoulder but slow down later as my steady pace caught up and passed them. There was no point in tactics that early in the race. The first mile passed in just under 7:30 pace as we approached the end of the first lap. My biggest worry was my ankles which were working hard as they flexed to support me on the uneven surface. My legs felt great and my heart only came under pressure on the tough uphill sections. Mile 2 also came in at about 7:30 pace - so at least I was maintaining my pace. Halfway through the second lap there was a gap of about 60 yards to the few runners in front and I thought that unless they were going to fade (which I doubted) I was not going to reel them in. However they got closer as the lap progressed and I recognised one of them as Paud from the club. I eventually drew alongside him with just over a lap remaining, encouraging him to come with me. Mile 3 just under 7:30 pace again. I pulled ahead of Paud heading into the final lap. There were 2 guys about 30 yards ahead but I was not gaining despite the fact that one would reduce to a walk on parts of the uphills but start up and pass out the other guy on the downhills and that is how they finished. While I was gaining on the 2nd guy I was not going to catch him by the finish line. Mile 4 had gone by in a little over 7:30 and I was comfortably ahead of the next guy. However with about 200 yards to go I heard the spectators cheer for the guy behind not long after I had passed them and Denis Looney from the Club, who came to support, told me to "watch my back". That was all I needed to put in a strong surge over the last 100 yards to keep my position - if only I had surged earlier and been prepared to embrace a bit more pain I might have caught the guy in front. I crossed over the line in 33:03 for the 4.46 miles the Garmin measured (07:25 pace average with the last half mile at 06:53 pace). A few Eagles were waiting for me at the finish line so I don't think my contribution was enough to make the team results (first 4 in each category - Intermediate, M35 & M50) if one or two were under 35 I may be in the M35 results, in which I think Eagles were third so maybe.......... The M50 team came in second and the Eagle women's team did very well taking first and third individual spots ( I think there were 4 in the top 6 or 7) and winning the team event. Thanks to Denis, Andy and Liam (Coach) who came to offer support and encouragement, much appreciated. One benefit of racing on Sunday was that we were told to ease back on Tuesday's track session covering 3 x 2k with the 7:00 pace group as opposed to the 6:20 group while everyone who didn't race had to do 4 x 2k. - I'm beginning to see the benefits of coaching, certainly a more objective view on training. Wed 11th Nov 2.5 miles in 19:49 (7:56 pace - Treadmill) Fri 13th Nov 7.29 miles in 59:40 (8:11 pace @ 137 HR) with 5 x 1 min Fartlek & 5 x 15 sec hill sprints. Sat 14th Nov 11.73 in 1:36:10 (8:12 pace @ 138 HR) Sun 15th Nov 6.05 miles in 49:34 908:12 pace @ 156 HR) with 4.46 miles in 33:03 (07:25 pace @ 164 HR)
Recovery Week #3 - 36 miles Tue 17th Nov a.m. 2.5 miles in 19:49 (07:56 pace treadmill) p.m. 6.04 miles in 50:15 (8:19 pace @ 139 HR) with 3 x 2k in 8:36/42/28

Tuesday, 10 November 2009


I finished off recovery week no. 2 with a 12 mile hilly run along the viaduct loop with Eagle AC on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning. The overall pace was a relatively leisurely 8:30 minute miles which suited me fine - although the hills were still challenging. Today was the day for intervals.......... 6 x 100m in the pool at lunchtime (1,250m total) and 3 x 2,000m at the track in the evening. There was a big group of us on the 5 x 95 second laps (7:55 target). The first, like last week, was a slow 8:01 (that's the last time i'll act as pacemaker). The second swung in the opposite direction - 7:48. The girls paced the final rep and despite a 90 second opening lap kept the pace pretty even until the last 200m where a few of us stretched our legs -7:48. I put my name in the hat for next Sunday's Intermediate/Masters Cross Country in Bandon. I've heard Cross Country is tough particularly if the ground is wet which is guaranteed given recent weather and as I'm not planning on splashing out on a set of spikes i'm expecting one step back for every 2 steps forward - maybe a barefoot run is called for! I think i'll start at the back as some of the more experienced do, except in my case that is where I expect to remain for the duration. Sun 8th Nov 12.11 miles in 1:42:16 (08:27 pace @ 132 HR) Recovery week #2: 27.0 miles Mon 9th Nov 2.5 miles in 19:49 (07:56 pace - treadmill) Tue 10th Nov 5.92 miles in 47:50 (08:04 pace @ 144HR) with 3 x 2k in 7:63/48/48. (3 x 2 minutes at a slow walk)

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Vermillion Border

My new word(s) for the week is Vermillion Border. I never knew I had one until I needed to get it stitched up after a head on collision with the back of the car on Wednesday during my first bike ride in over a month. Why the guys (Connie & Pete of the tri fraternity) decided to head into town and all it's traffic for the lunchtime cycle i'll never know - hindsight is a great thing. In summary I misjudged the car in front which had momentarily stopped to let oncoming traffic past at the bottom of Sundays Well Hill and on taking off I looked down briefly to change gear only to look up and see that the car had stopped again (careful driver) and there wasn't enough time /room to brake in the 2 yard gap between us - so instead the first brake, of wheel against car, slowed forward momentum but not enough to stop me from going head first over the bike and connecting with the back of the car (second brake). My instinctive hand up to my mouth to check for damage revealed quite a bit of blood - so I guessed my upper lip was cut - quite bad I feared by the amount of blood, although I couldn't tell as the whole area was numb. No damage to car or bike. The guy I bumped into turned out to be a cardiologist - can't get one when you need one and I bump into the only one in Munster. He kindly drove me to the A&E of Cork University Hospital where I got assessed and told that it was important to match up the Vermillion Border on both sides of the cut, where the first suture would have to be ( I assume so that my family would recognise me afterwards) and so after 4 hours, 8 external and 5 internal stitches I was discharged into the loving care of my wife. To be quite honest it's more of a hindrance/embarrassment than anything else. The worst pain was the €55 for the antibiotics that the Doctor prescribed and the €100 A&E bill (yet to come). I must say that the care I received was excellent. I couldn't fault the A&E staff, who sometimes have to work in very stressful situations and I had no problem putting up with the wait (wasn't too bad in this case). On the running front my body has all but forgotten that I ran a marathon less than 2 weeks ago. On the Saturday before the marathon my resting heart rate was 38 and this morning it was 37. It shows that I'm in as good a shape as I have ever been - well since I started recording my RHR 3 years ago! Tuesday's track session was 3 x 2km @ 7:55 (6:20 miles) w/ 2min recoveries and while we didn't hit it for the first 2k we got there or thereabouts for the last 2 - 8:03/7:56/7:56. My mid-week accident left me a bit drained so I refrained from running until this morning when I headed out for an easy 5 miler in the rain. In terms of plans for next year, Adrian (my original running partner) and I have tentatively set our eyes on the Barcelona Marathon on 7th March, which we both ran in 2007. Other options include the Rome Marathon on 20th March and Paris on 11th April. Or there's the Connemara Ultra, also on 11th April, for which Barcelona would be a nice training run!!! Decisions Decisions. Monday 2nd Nov
2.5 miles in 19:50 907:56 pace - Treadmill) Tue 3rd Nov 7.13 miles in 58:16 (8:10 pace) with 2 x 2k in 8:04/7:57/7:56 Sat 7th Nov 5.26 miles in 43:59 (08:21 pace @ 126 HR) Paul and I chasing hares at the HSE 4 Miler on 1st November (Photos Courtesy of Richard Cronin)

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Breaking All The Rules

Abina told me yesterday on good advice from a friend, who heard it on the radio from a well respected physio that you should not run for 26 days after a marathon ( 1 day for every mile of racing). I told her that I had heard that alright.
Then she asked did I go out on the bike in the morning. "No" I replied "I went on a 5 mile run". "You're not supposed to do that!" she replied.
Actually the 5 miles went quite well and there were no latent niggles from the marathon. My left hip and right calf were a bit tender later in the run but noting to write home about.
Later in the afternoon I got a text from Paul saying that he was thinking of running the HSE 4 miler in the Marina this morning and what did I think. I replied that I planned on running it at an easy pace. Two years ago I had run it at 8 minute pace a week after Dublin and last year I equalled my then PB of 25:19 two weeks after Amsterdam. This morning with Paul as hare I hit a time in between these 2.
I had planned running at 7 minute pace, but a chat with Joe Murphy beforehand had convinced us (well Paul really) to go out at about 6:50 pace. So the miles went something like this:-
Mile 1 - 6:42 - steady pace, Paul leading the way, could make it under 27 minutes at this rate.
Mile 2 - 6:29 - christ we're now close to 26 minute pace - this is not going to be the easy run I had expected.
Mile 3 - 6:35 - still on pace and my legs are fine. Keep following Paul because he's not slowing down.
In fact with about half a mile to go he surges past 2 guys in front. "that's it" I thought "leave him off - I can only manage the steady pace i'm at and my HR is in the 170's" (Joe Murphy had advised me earlier to leave the HR monitor at home for races and run on feel - I think he's right) - I didn't feel great either though as general fatigue set in.
However Paul didn' go too far ahead and now there was a bunch of four of us with me taking up the rear as we took the last left turn with about 400m to go. One of the guys who Paul had overtaken came back at him and went out in front - I was reasonably content to hang on the back and coast home. However with about 40 m to go I was on the shoulder of Paul and no. 3 and saw no reason why I shouldn't make a break for the line as no one else was taking it out and that's what I did and came in under the clock at 26:12 - Mile 4 in 6:26.
I felt a bit guilty as Paul had led and paced me for most of the race - there were times that I thought I'd leave him go but decided to hang on for as long as I could. Good race practice I thought afterwards, "but for what, you're just after a marathon!".
My final thoughts on Dublin are that I could have pushed the pace a little over the last 6 miles. I had a positive split of 2:36 (1:33:11/1:35:47). At mile 11 and again at mile 16 my cumulative pace predicted a 3:05:46 finish (had I maintained that pace to the end) - so at best I could have eeked out another 3 minutes - although I don't think it would have been possible to maintain 7:05 pace to the end - I might have had a slightly better chance if I had managed to average 7 minute pace for the first half/15 miles and average 7:10/15 for the second half.
Sat 30th Oct
5.28 miles in 41:43 (07:54 pace @ 133HR)
October (Run 205 miles, Bike NIL, Swim 4,000m) - Never did get that post marathon recovery bike ride in.
Sun 1st Nov
6.95 miles in 52:42 (07:35 pace @ 147 HR) with 4 miles in 26:12 (06:33 pace @ 163 HR)