This pacing job gets you to meet all sorts of interesting people -
Tom, who organised the pacers, was hoping to break 3:30 with my assistance the following day. Tom's medium terms goal is to get 100 marathons under his belt by the end of 2012, after which he will concentrate on the shorter distances (he has 30 something done already). He's taking the patient route to a fast 5k ;). He's one of those crazy guys who ran the route of the Connematathon (Director's invitational) the day before he completed the ultra with the rest of us. He's also organising 5 marathons in 5 days in Sixmilebridge this July - well he's got to feed his insatiable appetite somehow. I shared a room with David, who was pacing the 1:40 group in the half marathon. However he got to sleep in as his race wasn't starting until 11:30 compared to my 9 a.m. start. No snoring this time out.
Muzan - sharing 2nd place with Sergiu Ciobanu at mile 21.7
I got a lift back to the hotel with Chris and Tony, used the pool to loosen out the legs a little before heading back to Cork with John D (3:45 pacer), stopping off in Charleville for the obligatory burger and chips.
With my eye on a 100k ultra in June I though it would be a great opportunity to used the 26.2 miles in my legs for some 100k race training and so the following morning I hit the grass of UCC farm shortly after 8 - opting for the 2.2 mile circuit so that (i) I wouldn't be too far from the end (ii) I didn't have to carry fuel, placing my High 5 drink at the start of the loop and (iii) emulating race day monotony - 20 x 5k loops. My plan was 3 hours at an easy pace between 8:30 and 8:50 (straddling my 9 hour target pace of 8:42 - don't know where it came from and I could be out by an hour or two). The light rain that was falling was in stark contrast to the sun of the day before. The first 2 hours went pretty well with an average pace of 8:38 and my legs holding up pretty well. As I felt relatively comfortable (it's all relative) I decided to up the pace for the last hour, trying to get the feel of negative splitting on race day and surprised myself by averaging 7:47 pace for the hour - glad to be finished though.
As ultra training is all about back to back weekend long runs I took it relatively easy during the week, getting two 5 milers in, the first on Wednesday at a recovery pace (100k race pace ;) and the second on Thursday with a 5k tempo thrown into the middle of it - my attempt to introduce some speedwork into my training after a long absence. The 5k at 6:42 pace (20:53) was tough but manageable - i'm a long way off a 3 hour marathon at the moment (a 1:30 half is even out of the question - unless it's downhill)
A rest day on Friday and I was ready for my long weekend, getting out the door shortly before 6:30 yesterday morning for a 3:30 run in the regional park - more mind numbing loops. I did mix it up a bit by taking different trails, which slowed me down a bit as I negotiated my way around tree roots and puddles. From the start I did not feel great - maybe last weekend was finally catching up with me. I averaged 8:41 pace for the first hour and 8:26 for the second hour. I decided to change tactics for the third hour by introducing fartleks starting with 7 mins fast followed by 7 mins slow and down to 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 minute. I had read somewhere that introducing faster running in an ultra can help with the fatigue and monotony of a constant pace (a bit like an interval session at the track) It started off reasonably well getting down to 7:35 on the "fast" sections and about 8:25 on the recoveries! averaging 8 minute pace overall - but I was toast for the last half hour struggling to maintain 8:30 pace, delighted to finish and wondering how the fuck I was going to run for 9 hours or (much) more, having visions of being on my knees before I am halfway through the race. I thought I might have entered the realm of "overtraining" but my resting heart rate this morning was 38, down from 39 when last measured on 20th March. An elevated resting HR is a typical indicator of overtraining.
My original plan for the weekend was 3:30 on Saturday and 4 hours on Sunday. The way I felt after Saturday's run had me thinking that running on Sunday would be both painfully slow and short. Still with an air of optimism and reasonably recovered legs, I headed out this morning on a Club run of about 15 miles over relatively flat terrain from Mahon to Passage West, Monkstown up over the 1.5 mile hill to Rochestown and back to Mahon, picking up the two Pauls at Pairc Ui Caoimhe en route. I refuelled with 500ml of High 5 and half a bag of cheese and onion crisps, the Kids had left in the car, before heading back out around the estuary loop to Blackrock Castle to meet up with Paul Cotter who had headed back to his car for refuelling (only to find he left his gels at home) and was coming in the opposite direction. The wind along this section of the Cork Marathon route reminded me of last years marathon where horizontal rain was added to the mix to make for a tough run. We also met up with Paul Daly, who had finished his run early (faster pace) to pick up Amanda, a visually impaired paralympic runner who he is guiding - if you thought pacing was difficult try guide running along a busy walkway on a Sunday morning with other runners, walkers, cyclists, dogs, all preoccupied in their own conversations/activities - you get the picture.
I dropped Paul Cotter to his car with 3:10 on my watch and headed out for another loop towards Blackrock Castle with Paul and Amanda, eventually pulling ahead of them for the final solo leg of my run. My legs still felt reasonably good although as I entered the last 15 minutes of my run I was beginning to feel the effects, primarily due to lack of fuel - Paul had teased earlier about what we would have for breakfast - "butter melting on a hot scone", which was nearly enough to send me back to the car early. I replied that the best thing about 4 hour long runs is that by the time you have breakfast it is lunchtime and you can double up. I stopped with less than a quarter of a mile to the car as I hit the 4 hour mark and walked in - tank empty. I took a chocolate/orange GU thick gel with water once I got to the car to give me enough fuel to drive home - Heaven!
25.1 miles on Saturday and 27.8 miles on Sunday gave me 52.9 (85km) for the weekend (still 15km short).
Lest you think I did nothing else for the weekend apart from seven and a half hour of running and put my feet up to recover for the rest of the day think again. With Abina working I was on duty to ferry Saran and his buddy to GAA (hence my pre-6:30 start yesterday) and on to McDonalds, organise a sleepover for Ani's friend and drop her home, drop Safan to town and Keevsa to her friends birthday party and today to meet her boyfriend for their six month anniversary and decide on such issues as whether self-raising flour would make any difference to the roux for the meatball sauce for todays dinner - thankfully I found the plain flour. In fairness they're nice meatball. If you don't believe me ask Abina. She took them to work a few months back, openend her lunch box in front of her colleagues and said "These are Grellan's balls and they're lovely"
Recovery week #3 (Run 47 miles, Bike NIL, Swim 3.8km)
Build Week #1 (Run 85 miles, Bike NIL, Swim NIL)
ps: I can't seem to control the line spacing in my posts - I close the gaps while editing but it appears to do it's own thing - any advice in this regard would be greatly appreciated.