Sunday, 29 August 2010

From 41 to 182

In the end I made 41 out of the top 50 of the Ballycotton Summer Series with a margin of 2:19 over the number 50 spot. However my 31:19 result was hard earned with a tough battle especially during the 2nd and 3rd miles. While the 4th and 5th didn't feel as rough that was primarily because they were slower than I'm capable of. I was 3 seconds slower on this course last year (my PB coming into this year) but I had a much better finish over the last 2 miles with split comparing as follows:- Mile.2009...2010 1...6:20....5:57 (net downhill) 2...6:27....6:17 3...6:33....6:31 (net uphill) 4..6:05....6:15 (up and down) 5....5:57....6:19 (up and down) ...31:22..31:19
I'd much prefer the 2009 race strategy of finishing strong - the last 2 miles were 32 seconds faster than this year. Still I did what I had to do - the only reason I crept up 6 places is that 6 people in the top 46 didn't show up on the night.
Since the race I have reverted to the more enjoyable endurance end of the spectrum - heading to Kenmare on Friday evening with Adrian for one more jaunt around the 49 mile hilly bike route of the Lost Sheep Tri, this time in glorious sunshine and spectacular views. While the bike leg of middle distance triathlons is typically 56 miles (90k) I think the reduced distance in the Lost Sheep is there to compensate for the hills. While I was pleased with my overall time of 2:50, conditions were ideal and I did stop at the top of each climb to take in the views (The garmin was set to auto pause when stopped) - While my Plan A & B targets are 5:15 and 5:30 I almost harboured a notion of getting under 5 hours (It's great what a sunny day will do for your confidence).

I followed up the cycle with a fast 2 mile run on the half marathon course - I don't think the 6:40 pace will be replicated on race day though, more like 7:10/15 if i'm feeling good (i.e. 1:35 for the half). With a swim target of 35 minutes and 2:50 for the cycle (again on a good day) that leaves 5 hours on the dot - now if I could squeeze in a few minutes more i'd have enough for the transitions. At least it puts the race in perspective and makes my plan A target of 5:15 appear realistic.

Less that 13 hours later I was out the door on the Club long run over a 12 mile hilly route west of the City and boy did it feel tough, especially over the first few miles. Downhills were grand but I was left standing on the uphills. Still I managed to hang on with a few others to extend my run on the grass of UCC farm to 18.5 miles in all (about 7:54 pace).

I though I might get a sleep in on Sunday morning but an invitation to join Martin Leahy for a swim around Sandycove Island at 8 was too tempting, as my swimming has been non-existent over the last week. It was also an opportunity to test the impact of the tear in the back of my wetsuit. The water was beautifully calm in the morning sunshine and the swim went by without a hitch, although an attempt to put a gap between myself and Martin over the latter half of the 1.8k route was unsuccessful. I was out of the water a few minutes before him in Bo Peep and so thought it should not be a problem. Maybe I need to be in a race to swim faster. After the swim we headed on the bikes along the coast to Timoleague and Courtmacsherry and back covering 37 miles. I thought my lack of rest since the Ballycotton 5 would make for an uncomfortable ride but I felt surprisingly good.

Monday was a well earned rest day with a trip to Joe for a well overdue rub down.While there were the inevitable tight spots (I'm not the best at doing the ancillary stuff like stretching/foam rolling etc.) there was nothing to worry about.

Looks like Tuesday will be a rest day also as I will be in Dublin taking Keevsa and Safan to see Blink 182 at the O2 Arena. They'll be with their buddies up front while i'll hang at the back so as not to cramp their style. It sounded like a good idea when booking the tickets a few months ago (I had heard them quite often on my longs runs over the last few years when borrowing their iPods) but somehow I think I'll be the oldest fan at the gig. Here's a taste of what's in store ... at least it's running related.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Number 47

That’s my race number heading into the last of the Ballycotton 5 mile summer series tonight. With an aggregate time of 1:34:22 for the first three races (32:32, 31:26 & 30:24) I have a one minute advantage over number 50, the cut off point for the all important series T-Shirt. While normally I should have no problem staying in the top 50 with a cushion like that my training since the last race has been less than ideal. Run For the moment I have reverted to running in an old pair of Asics Gel Nimbus as they don't flex as much as the racing/minimalist shoes, which only aggravates my injured toe more.
After a gap of a week my first run following the Bo Peep triathlon was a 5 miler on part of the lost sheep triathlon run route following a full recce of the hilly bike course. While I could run comfortably, despite the fact that my toe was still tender, my lack of fueling coming off the bike made for a very tough 5 miles. Martin, my running partner, who had a better fueling strategy, felt very comfortable at the 7:16 pace.
Last week was a bit better with 5 runs totalling 42 miles, although I noticed a distinct lack of sharpness when it came to my 2 speed sessions. The first on Wednesday consisted of 6 x 800m approx (on road) at a target I-Pace of 5:48 and all I could manage was 6:00 to 6:10 pace. The second on Friday was 6 miles at T-Pace (target 6:20) originally planned at 3 x 2 miles but changed to 2 x 3 miles with 0.5 mile recovery. Again I struggled to get anywhere near target pace and was happy that I managed to maintain the 6:33 pace average achieved for the first 3 miles during the second 3. It could have something to do with the fact that I was on holiday in West Cork - all that extra rest could be playing havoc with my routine - that and the fact that speed is the first thing that suffers when you take any time off running.
Having missed a weeks running I have essentially abandoned the 3-week peaking phase of my 5 to 15k programme leading up to today’s race and therefore do not expect to be in peak 5 mile race shape. My primary target is to remain in the top 50, which should be achievable – I reckon a time under 32 minutes should do, although I won’t be complacent. Bike The reduced running was matched by a corresponding increase in time on the bike, covering 243 miles over the last 2 weeks. A week after the Bo Peep Tri I was back down in Kerry to cycle the 53 mile Lost Sheep course with Martin (also doing the lost sheep) Adrian and Steven. While the course consisted of two category 1 climbs the most challenging part of the course was the switchback descent from the Healy Pass, which was particularly precarious in the wet conditions. Bob had asked recently why it is called the “Lost Sheep Tri” and while I don’t know the official answer I would imagine that the presence of sheep wandering along/across the road on the barren Healy Pass landscape may have something to do with it.
Swim Swimming has always been the poor relation of running and cycling only getting a look in when the opportunity arises. Over the last two weeks this opportunity was Inchydoney beach where I got in about 4 to 5k, even venturing out twice without the wet-suit - I soon learned that comfort is higher up my priority list than pride and returned to the wetsuit. Anyway spending the first 10 minutes of a swim slowly acclimatising yourself to the cold water is a waste of training time.
I think my wet-suit is at the end of it's useful life though as it tears easily and while putting my foot through the neoprene could be solved by cutting a piece off the bottom of the leg the tear across the back of the suit following an aggressive tug on the zip may be more difficult to sort out - I can swim in it but may be taking on more water than I need to.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Old before my time

I got first prize in the M45-49 age group at the Bo Peep Tri yesterday although I won't be 45 until December - it must have been based on year of birth as opposed to date of birth. (if not I would have been 2nd M40-44, for which there was no prize). My splits compared to previous years were:- Swim
The swim course was a triangular loop from the slipway at the Star sailing centre 2 miles out of Kenmare. 600m to the first buoy, 300m to the next and 600m back to the slipway. The distance between buoy 1 & 2 certainly looked longer than 300m. My swim went well keeping pretty much to a straight line course between buoys while having to navigate my way over or around those around me. I got (and gave) the usual kicks and punches as I competed for the same space with other swimmers - apologies to those I hit but it was not intentional. I did zig-zag a little on the 3rd leg as every time I sighted the finish buoy I had to adjust my course to line up with it - first left, then right, then left. Finally I was out of the water and up the slipway - I was surprised to see 25:4x on the clock as I passed it into T1 (about 3 minutes down on last years time - certainly was longer this year)
Uneventful thankfully. Wet suit came off pretty easily, although I was unsteady on my feet and leaning on a swaying bike for support only adds to the unsteadiness.
Ran out of T1 with my bike shoes on - never bothered to practice mounting the bike with the shoes clipped in - maybe next year. It took what seemed like an age to get my shoes clipped in once I had crossed the mount line as others flew passed me. I got into my stride pretty quickly though and chased down one or two over the first few hundred yards. Then I heard something fall from the bike and when I looked down I noticed my pump was gone (I had meant to tape it to the bike beforehand as the mounting was loose). I was abruptly shaken from my self absorbed world when I ploughed into the back of the guy in front of me, nearly knocking both of us off our bikes - I apologised profusely explaining that I had taken my eye off the ball after loosing my pump - "no harm" done he said and off I went.
The one and only hill came after about 10km and I ignored the conventional wisdom of using a low gear and high cadence for getting up hills economically and selected a higher gear and got out of the saddle quite a bit. While I didn't necessarily go faster it did take the pressure off my quads. I was conscious of the fact that my run could be a disaster if I trashed my legs on the bike. I got passed by a few on the descent as I tend to chicken out of getting down on the tri-bars - something to do with my hands being too far away from the brakes when corners loom perhaps. I had the Garmin on the bike so that I could keep focused, using average speed to motivate me. The average speed of 17.2 mph at the top of the hill increased to 18 at the bottom and I gradually pushed it to 19 with about 10k to go. The pace picked up further on the main road back to the Sailing Centre, reaching an average of 19.7 by the time I entered T2. I had exchanged places on the bike with a few guys over the last few k as the pace picked up and I followed a guy on a TT Bike from Waterford Tri Club into T2.
No issues - even sat down to put on my shoes and still shaved a few seconds off last years T2 time.
Waterford tri guy was 50 yards ahead of me heading out of T2 but the gap closed over the first half mile. It took the first mile to get comfortable in my run and then the hill loomed in front of me at the 2k mark. Two guys in front stopped and walked, the first motivating the second - I resisted the urge just about, although my pace was just above a shuffle. Once up the hill and onto level ground I began to feel comfortable, taking a drink at the 3/7k watering station as the leader (Eric Wolfe) came past in the opposite direction (4k behind). I continued to the half-way turnaround timing mat, passing one more guy before turning for home. Counting those coming against me put me in 23rd place overall. The hills between 5k and 7k were tough but I still managed to pass one guy (now 22nd). Back down the steep hill to the 8k mark - the toe on my right foot that I broke/sprained a few weeks ago had been giving pain since about 4k and was particularly sore on the downhills. I came on the shoulder of another guy with about a mile to go - he was struggling with intermittent stomach issues - we ran together for a while with him pushing back in front until he fell behind with 1k to go. The next guy was 50 yards in front but was coming back to me - I felt surprisingly strong and my pace took me past him with about 800m to go, now in 20th position. As I approached the line one of the spectators said that there were a few guys on my tail so I put in a last minute sprint and crossed the line in 2:17:51 - 20th overall and 18th individual.
While I was delighted to beat last years time, the margin was only 20 seconds. However with my swim time down nearly 3 minutes on last year I was very please with my bike/run improvement.
Gotta go now as we are heading to Goleen for the Route to Crook 5 miler , but I won't be running as my toe has acted up and I can barely walk. I think my running will be non-existent over the coming weeks.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Tight Calves and Lost Sheep

My track session this week consisted of a mixture of distance and speed starting with 2 x 1 mile @ 6:20 T-Pace with 2 min recoveries (programme said 2 x 2 miles Doh!) followed by 3 x 800m @ 5:48 I-Pace with 2 min recoveries and 3 x 400m @ 5:20 R-Pace with 400m recoveries. I donned the vibrams for the session to get the barefoot feel without skinning my toes and everything went to plan, although I had to concentrate to stay on pace for the 400's - you can let the mind wander a bit for the slower paces but you have to be fully alert for the 400's.
A recovery 5 miler the following morning (Wednesday) revealed very tight calf muscles, no more than I should have expected after diving into barefoot speedwork. They were still tight yesterday, so when the option came up to go out on the bike instead of a run I took it, knowing that my second quality session of the week will be a tempo run on the hilly 10k section of the Bo Peep Tri tomorrow. I did take Ani out for a 2 mile run/walk around the block after dinner as her first (and possibly only) training session for the 2.5 mile kids run on the Route to Crook this Sunday. She covered the first mile in 10 minutes and walked most of the second after developing a side stitch (not bad for an 11 year old who's normally too tired to walk the dogs). I'll probably use the 5 mile adults race for a marathon pace run on the back of a 10 mile warmup as part of my weekend long run.
After putting my name down for a cancellation slot I finally got a place on the Lost Sheep Half Ironman on 11th September which will rival the Connemara Ultra for the pride of place as my longest endurance event. Although I would hope to come in below the 5:30 I got in Connemara, despite the 2 category 1 climbs on the bike leg. So more time on the bike is certainly needed.
Have a good weekend.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Quite Week

This week has been fairly quite on the running front. Saturdays long run of 17 miles was followed by no less that 3 run free days. Monday was a rest day and I ended up on the bike on Sunday and Tuesday (a late day at work on Tuesday saw me miss the track and head out on the bike with neighbour Jim, who is also doing the Bo Peep Tri next Saturday).
My first run of the week was a speed session in the park at lunchtime on Wednesday with sets of 2min, 1min and 30sec at Interval Pace with 1min, 30sec & 30sec recoveries. I was aiming for 5:48 pace on the Garmin as a guide. While the pace should have been manageable I found running on the grass in the sun much tougher than the track and instead of the 30 sec recovery between sets I took closer to 2 minutes as my legs felt like lead. I completed 5 sets in all at paces between 5:40 and 6:00, although the Garmin isn't that accurate at measuring average pace over 30 seconds.
Thursday was another running free day as I opted for the bike again. Friday was an easy 5 miler in the morning and while I was hoping to run my second speed session of the week at the Kinsale 5 in the evening, a late return from work killed that one.
So I was reasonably fresh on Saturday morning to try something new. I joined up with Paul Daly (who had run the Kinsale 5 the previous evening) and headed for Ballyhoura in Limerick for a short mountain run. The route was a mixture of forest roads, mountain bike trails, rocky fire breaks and bog. While the uphill first half was challenging on the heart and legs it was the downhill section that really concentrated the mind as finding the correct spot to plant your foot on the undulating rocky/boggy terrain could mean the difference between getting down safely or falling flat on your face and at a cadence of 90 that's 3 footfalls you have to plan every second - much better than Nintendo Brain Training. Needless to say I was trailing behind Paul who had some previous experience, the latest being a 25km trail race in Vancouver. Great fun, although I can feel those downhills in my quads today.
Today's session was a long brick requiring me get out the door and on the bike shortly after 7 to cover the 21.3 mile hilly loop via Crossbarry and the Viaduct to get back and run the mile to the start of the club run schedule for 8:30. I pushed at a steady pace on the bike and was home for about 8:20 - enough time to change the shoes, take the bike indoors have a quick drink and head back out. I kept a strong pace (6:36) for the mile to the start of the club run - a bit of race day practice before settling into the easier 8 minute pace. The club run was over undulating terrain west of Ballincollig and while my energy dipped on occasions I held it together to cover 15.5 miles in just over 2 hours. Coupled with the hour+ on the bike I was glad to be finished - time to refuel, the best part of endurance training.