Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Forward to the Past

The only good thing about this evenings MAFF Test was that the drift from the first to last mile was less than in previous weeks. Other than that there's not much to say. Maybe i'm not fully recovered from the back to backs. It took nearly 2 miles of a warmup to get my heart monitor to behave - perhaps it was a bit too cold to build up a sweat to get the contacts working. Either way i'm not bothered as one result doesn't make a trend and I have plenty of time before I need to step out of aerobic training.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Clonakilty B2B - Part 2

My resting Hr this morning was 45 bpm, up 9 from the 36 bpm I measured on Friday morning. Obviously my heart was working overtime overnight to provide the extra energy required to repair all the damage caused by yesterday's marathon. I could feel the energy too, in the form of additional heat coming off my body. My sleep, at best could be described as restless - that was until about half an hour before the alarm went at 6:40. I lay there for about 20 minutes staring at the ceiling, listening to the wind outside, wondering (not for the first time since I started running) why the hell I was putting myself through all this pain and discomfort. Why did I have to pick such a masochistic pursuit.

While my legs felt fine - in that I could walk without any noticeable discomfort (even downstairs) - the memory of yesterday's 26.2 was firmly etched in every fibre of my body. After a quick bowl of porridge and a take-out coffee I was on the road by 7:45 for the 45 minute drive to Inchydoney - taking most of the journey to down the coffee, listening to the radio forecast of strong south-easterly winds with intermittent showers. While the showers were absent there was no shelter from the wind blowing in off the sea. John stayed overnight in the house, where we remained until 5 minutes before the start, taking 2 minutes to jog down the hill. The wind would be at our backs for the opening miles - we wouldn't experience it head-on until we turned east towards the Long Strand at Mile 8.

I met up with Richard and Pat & Ger from the 100 marathon club and we wished each other well before the gun went off. The opening half a mile suggested that there were quite a few well seasoned endurance runners out there, who all streamed off in front of me, John included. I was more conservative in my opening miles, drawing level with John after 4+ miles. We were slightly over 3:30 pace at Mile 5 (40:04) but covered the next 2 mile drop past Rathbarry in 15:02, giving us a 54 second cushion by mile 7. Turning left for the first real climb of the day, into a headwind towards the 8 mile mark saw us catch and pass the leading lady from yesterday (Sharon Woods of Mallow AC), who was just home ahead of us in 3:28:10. While my legs felt ok the effort was always challenging and at times tough, especially over the next few miles against the wind. The support and encouragement from marshals and guys from the local cycling/tri club was fantastic.

Somehow we managed to keep fatigue at bay and maintain a pretty consistent pace, keeping a cushion on our 3:30 finish of between 50 and 90 seconds, depending on whether or not we were on an uphill or downhill. We exchanged places from time to time moving up to 50 yards ahead of each other, depending on who felt stronger, but always coming back together after half a mile or so. Wherever we got the chance (and had the energy) we opened up the pace to increase our cushion as we were under no illusion that a 3:30 finish was a "gimme" - not with the mile long hill to Mile 20.2, the headwind that would face us during the closing miles and the inevitable fade/bonk. By the time we hit Mile 19 (2:29:44) our cushion was over 2 minutes, with another runner hot on our heels.

I lost John on the hill up past Mile 20 (2:38:36) and thought he was gone. I picked up the pace down the hill to Mile 21 (2:46:16) knowing it was my best chance of adding a few more seconds to the cushion - 5.22 miles remaining. My pace was pretty consistent over the next mile and a half until  John and another guy are on my shoulder and passing me out. My turn to suffer - I reach in my pocket for my remaining GU gel to see if I can do something for my rapidly flagging energy. The two pull further ahead and gain on another runner as we turn right towards Mile 23 (3:02:15). I manage to hold the gap to the guys in front as we round Whites Marsh past the 24 mile mark and onto the Road to Inchydoney and the finish line. One of the guys has surged ahead as I slowly reel in John and the other guy - more due to their pace slowing than any surge from me. As we round the Island for the last 1.2 miles we are met with a strong headwind that requires a considerable increase in effort to maintain pace. While I am reasonably confident of a sub-3:30 finish at this stage I cannot let up on the effort. As I hit the last short climb my legs are so fatigued that it's all I can do to keep running (albeit slower than walking pace) - the pain easing as the road levels out for the drop down towards the beach and the finish line, keeping the pressure on to equal or beat yesterday's 3:28:28 time - crossing the line in 3:28:19 into the arms of Race Director Bob - delighted that someone else could take the weight off my legs even for a brief moment (it felt so good) and thrilled that I achieved my target of a second sub 3:30 finish despite my reservations this morning.

Hats off to Bob, Killian and the Clon B2B team for an excellently run weekend. The attention received at the finish line to ensure my comfort was top class - easier perhaps to achieve with a relatively manageable field of 150.

My 18th place finish yesterday and 12th place today got me 13th overall out of 112 that ran (and walked) on both days. My splits below shows that I was always within a minute of yesterday's time. My average Hr for today's run of 144 was only 2 bpm higher than yesterdays 142. (711 versus 702 heartbeats per km)

Two blog posts and two marathons in the one weekend................exhausting!!!

Mile Split Comparison - Not much in it!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Clonakilty B2B - Part 1

The weather this morning was in marked contrast to the glorious sunshine that greeted us in Inchydoney two weeks ago. On the plus side I wasn't relying on solar power to get me around the course and the morning drizzle had given way to a dull and overcast sky for the start of the Clonakilty Back2Back Marathons. There were about 150 at the start line for 9:00 this morning - not sure how many were were signed up for both, but everyone I met out on the course today (all three of them) were coming back for more punishment tomorrow morning. I travelled down with Clubmates Denis and Neil, who were sane enough to consider one marathon in a weekend enough. The club representation was completed by Ann and John D (the other B2B'er).

Neil, having run 3:13 on the course in December, was the first out of the blocks, followed closely by Ann and John, with Denis and I taking up the rear. I wore my Clonakilty 2012 3:30 pacing top to put me under a bit of pressure to at least get a sub-3:30 on the first day. There were about 20 to 25 runners in front of me as I settled into a steady pace a few seconds under 8 minute miles, leaving Denis (who was aiming for 8:20 miles) after the first mile, with Anna and John and few 100 yards ahead. As I was on track I was in no hurry to catch up - even stopping for a leak before Mile 3 (23:39 - 21 seconds ahead). It took me another 5 miles to catch up to them, as we hit the Long Strand (Mile 8 in 1:02:51 - 1:09 ahead). I spent most of those  miles chatting with Jim Mullen, a seasoned endurance athlete, with 80 marathons under his belt (including  MDS & Jungfrau ). Jim pulled ahead shortly after, leaving Ann, John and I on our own, with not another runner in sight.

The field was well strung out and apart from a few exchanges of place over the opening miles we did not see or pass another runner until after Mile 13 (1:42:36 - 1:24 ahead) when we passed the 2nd Female. The lack of slower runners ahead suggested that the field was pretty experienced and had not headed out too fast. We kept pretty much together over the hills to the 20 Mile mark (2:39:07 - 53 seconds ahead, sacrificing some of our cushion to the hills). We could see the leading Female ahead (maybe 30 seconds), with 2 male companions and judging by the relative paces we were on course to catch up. However on reaching the top of the last hill at mile 20.2 she opened up the throttle and left one of her male companions behind - more than likely after spotting Ann behind her. The gap quickly opened up again as we turned left at the bottom of the hill along a few circuitous country boreens for the long route back to the finish line. I always find this stretch (mile 21 to 24) tough mentally as we are nearly there but have to work hard to keep pace. Ann begins to fall behind, with John staying with her for a while before deciding to sacrifice honour for a sub-3:30 finish (I had no honour at all).

We hit Mile 24 in 3:10:41 (1:19 ahead) and kept a steady pace over the closing miles around Inchydoney, coming in behind the leading female, a few seconds over 3:28:30 (Chip 3:28:28). Day 1 done and dusted and suitably fucked fatigued that even the though of having to do it all again in the morning didn't bear thinking about. This endurance stuff is beginning to wear me down. I'm sure a good nights sleep will change my perspective. The plan for tomorrow, as for two weeks ago, is to make it to the start line. Good night!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Long Weekend

I pushed out the boundaries a bit last weekend by doing back to back Marathons. I say "a bit" because I am not new to back to back weekend long runs, having covered 53, 60 and 64 miles on consecutive back to back runs over 3 weekends in May 2011, when training for the Portumna 100k. Although last weekend was different in that the marathons were organised by the Director of the Clonakilty Back 2 Back Marathons as a bit of a taster for the real event, next weekend. The main reason for running the Back 2 Back(s) is to see how my body copes with running a marathon on tired, fatigued  legs, while attempting to keep a relatively even pace across the 52+ miles - trying to find my "Forrest Gump" pace perhaps. The target last weekend  (set by my running partner, John D) was to run 2 x 3:45 marathons, with the intention of pushing that up to 2 x 3:30 marathons next weekend, assuming the 3:45's were achieved.

The short story is that we acheived our target on both days, managing a 6+ minute improvement  on Day 2 to push under 3:40. Strangely enough Day 1 felt tougher for me, with my breathing heavier than normal from the first mile but not getting any worse, managing to build up a cushion and keep it until the finish despite the rising fatigue over the last 4 or 5 miles. We eased up a little over the last mile as we were well within target and were already thinking about recovering for the following day. The weather was perfect for running, with clear blue skies and the warmth of the sun taking the sting out of the morning chill. The physio on hand at the finish line was great for keeping my legs in shape for Day 2, particularly as the queue was short ;-) - Thanks Meadbh.

The opening miles on Day 2 were slower than the day before as I expected my legs to be stiff and achy, requiring a few "warm-up" miles to get into any sort of rhythm. John was talking away about keeping on pace for another 3:45 finish - although I wasn't as confident, giving myself a 50:50 chance of hitting the target - my main motivation being that I have never run a marathon slower than my first marathon (3:47:08.) By mile 5 we were behind target, especially given that all the hills were still in front of us. Over the next 5 miles we picked up the pace and were back on track by mile 10 and running at a comfortable steady pace - making hay "while the sun shone", half expecting the wheels to fall off at any time. Thankfully the wheels stayed on long enough to get us to the top of the last hill at mile 20 and heading for a sub 3:40 finish. John wasn't the complacent sort of guy though and kept pushing the same steady pace until I told him that we had less than a mile to go with 3:28 on the watch. Those last few miles were tough going but at least we didn't have to worry about saving our legs for the following day and pushed on for a 3:36 finish. Thanks to Bob for organising the weekend and his Wife Ia (and Killian's mum)  for the support out on the road and at the finish line.

Splits Comparison between Day 1 and Day 2

Official Results
Day 1 - 12 Starters

Day 1 Finish


Day 2 Finish

With Ia - Official Starter, Timekeeper, Mobile Water Station & Race Marshal

Post Race Picnic with the Marathon Moms