Thursday, September 30, 2010

8 mile tempo.

On my way out the Seanadh Phéistín road, a strange looking gull held up the car with an arrogant, imperious, mid-road walk!  I was kicking myself that I didn't bring my digital camera - for this was a moment to catch!  Another moment occurred at the end of the run - having returned to the car there were four beautiful Connemara ponies standing elegantly on the bog (I'm sure they were the same horses pictured above, a few months ago).  One of them approached the car after I had sat in, so I rolled down the driver's window and fed him two pears - he was actually poking his lovely white head in through the window!  In between all this there was the run:  I started off downhill, and at a pace that I just couldn't maintain.  Still, the pace throughout was brisk enough, with the exception of a stretch between miles 3-4 when I developed a slight stitch after my ridiculously quick start!  I recovered from this though and finished the run well enough.  Next up, an intimidating 20 miler!
Distance:  8 miles
Pace:  Tempo, sometimes low 8s, sometimes low 9s...
Satisfaction:  6/10

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Salthill Intervals.

Given the hardship (some brought on by myself) of the past few runs, I can honestly say that today's interval session was a breeze.  It called for a 10 min warm up, followed by 2mins fast by 5 times, with 2 mins easy in between.  I decided to run this on the famous Salthill promenade, amid all the walkers, skaters, strollers and of course, fellow runners!  
The day was autumn at it's finest - crisp and clear, and with the promise of mince pie weather when all the work of the busy season finishes.  I am close now to the peak of my marathon training programme... there's the small matter of a nine miler on Thursday, followed by a 20 miler this weekend.  Then, it's taper down all the way...
Distance:  Intervals, 40 minutes fast and slow
Route:  Beautiful Salthill
Satisfaction:  9/10

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Difference in a Week.

After my run D and I brought Conall and Andrew to the lovely Knockabbey Gardens.
During last week's 18 miler I felt tired every time I ran a hill, struggled for most of my run and walked a lot of the last four miles.  I was on a 'carb free' diet for two weeks, which was pure stupidity for long distance running (as pointed out by my fellow bloggers).  Following this traumatic day I took the rest of the week off from running (which is also pure stupidity for anyone who is supposed to be training for a marathon at the end of October, but there you go, I'm pure stupid).  This Friday Deirdre and I traveled up to Louth and I decided to break from this carb free programme.  Well be the hokey, the minute I did my body went wild for all kinds of chocolates, fig rolls, biscuits of any description, chips, chinese take away - you name it!  I had to eventually settle myself down on Saturday evening and say 'right lad, drink water, eat healthy and cop on to yourself'!  I woke up early this morning, had a good breakfast, went to mass in Stabannon, and then out for a run.  T'was a gorgeous day.  I set no targets for myself, no barriers either - it could be four miles or seven, fast or slow, all depending on how I felt.  And, believe or not, I felt great!  The carbo-loading of the previous two days worked wonders as I trotted along at a decent pace, without any strain! I ended up running 13 miles - which was bang on my furman programme, and felt great afterwards.  From now on I'm on the straight and narrow when it comes to training and nutrition - no funny stuff, plenty of carbs and follow through with all my training runs.  It can be done!
Distance:  13miles
Route:  Stabannon
Satisfaction:  10/10

Thursday, September 23, 2010

New Book Review

It's been a while since I've reviewed any books, and seeing as I've read  a few over the past month or two then I'd better get jotting...To read my review of 'Human Nature in Politics', by Graham Wallas, scroll down the column on right side of this site, to the reviews section...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

18 miles, running and walking.

Even my magic juice couldn't help me...
The one plus I can take from yesterday's 18 miler is that I finished it, somehow.  First the background story:  a number of months ago I went to a nutritionist in order to get back running and to get rid of a constant feeling of fatigue.  Since then I have been following a programme of cleanses (which have been excellent) that has culminated with a carb free few weeks - the theory here being that I was training the body to get the maximum nutrients from protein.  It is not advisable to run long distance on such a programme, but with the Dublin marathon coming up I knew that I just had to get on with it... Once again the route was Seanadh Phéistín (correct spelling!).  I parked the car at the midway point so that I could run 4.5 miles in one direction, then run back to the car, and then run 4.5miles in the other direction - and back to the car again!  I had left my magic drink at various stages (drink contained chia seeds, synergy powder and Pink Himalayan salt).  The first three miles were okay and then I hit a stretch of 1.5 miles uphill.  I ran this steadily but had to stop briefly at the turn while I drank my magic.  The next two miles were all down hill, I felt I was doing fine but the minute I hit an uphill stretch I had to stop and walk again!  The week of no carbs or sugar had totally taken it's toll and left me without any energy to run the hills.  However, I wasn't too concerned at this point - thinking that a 'run/walk' technique was good in the circumstances!  The second half of the run turned nasty however.  I had to stop to walk at miles 10 and 12 and then faced a 4.5 mile run to the finish that was mainly UPHILL!  This stretch took an eternity to finish and I walked most of it.  My legs were shot from all the stopping and starting and my head felt light whenever I tried the mildest trot.  Logically I know that you can't run long distances and stay away from carbohydrates for a long period of time, however, I have very little time left until the Dublin marathon and one long run has been sacrificed.  Also, the trauma of Monday puts me off going out again this week.  Yikes.
Distance:  18 miles
Route:  Seanadh Phéistín
Pace:  10minutes running, 12.30 walking
Satisfaction:  0/10

Friday, September 17, 2010

Six Mile Tempo.

Fionnán bog, near Seanaphéistín
I decided, following my weak efforts last week, to take a few days off running this week.  To be honest, I felt a bit 'run-downiness' so I thought the break might do me good.  So I missed the intervals(repeats) part of my furman week, but picked up with a tempo session yesterday evening.  The session called for six miles (1 mile easy, 4 miles pace and 1 mile easy).  I definitely felt the same old tiredness at the start of the run, but thankfully I could trot along for a mile before picking up the pace.  The first mile of tempo was all up hill and grand until I reached close to the top - at which point it was tough but still manageable.  The next mile was a mix of downhill and flat so that was fine HOWEVER, just as I was about to hit the seriously hilly fourth tempo mile I got a very bad stitch down the right side of my body.  At first I really wanted to run through this pain, for fear of making a habit of these stops (I had to stop twice last week), however, the stitch was so bad that it had slowed me down considerably so the 'tempo' was not really working out to well at this point!  I took the decision to stop and walk for a short time to get rid of this stitch prior to taking on the hill at some pace.  This worked out pretty well for me - I was up and running again well within a minute, stitch gone, and pace back.  I had no problem from there to the end and actually made good time for the entire run.  Things are still not ideal for me, and with an 18 miler up next the confidence needs a boost soon.  It doesn't help that I'm on a carb free diet for the next few weeks due to this nutritional programme I'm following.  On the plus side - I am only two savagely long runs away from beginning the taper for the Dublin Marathon - I can almost see the light!
Distance:  6 miles tempo
Route:  Seanféistín
Pace:  7.45 at peak, average 8.50
Satisfaction:  4/10

Sunday, September 12, 2010

13 Miles of Pure Slog.

An old ruin in Seanféistín that marked the start of my woeful 13mile run today.
After Friday's set back I'm happy just to have completed today's 13 miler, but I completed it only just.  This was definitely a tough week for me running wise - I suffered through the intervals on Wednesday, failed my nine miler on Friday and only just got over the line today.  I'm confused as to why I've stuttered this week - perhaps it's to do with being back to work and up earlier than ever (6.30am rises, not an ungodly hour)?  Next week calls for an 18 mile run on Sunday, so I need a rapid recovery!
Distance:  13miles
Pace:  Plodding along with jelly legs.
Satisfaction:  3/10 - purely for the fact that I didn't give in this time.
Route:  Seanféistín.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A bit of a set back...

I'm not going to be too tough on myself but this evening was a definite set back... I had to run 9 miles at tempo pace according to the furman programme, but ended up only running 5 (and actually walking a small bit of that).  No real excuses, simply that the body sent out a strong message that I should cut it some slack and take a bit of a rest.  Hope to be hopping fit again for Sunday's long run, after all, there's only four weeks left before the taper starts for the Dublin marathon...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Intervals in the Claddagh.

View of the Long Walk from The Claddagh.
The Claddagh is the most famous old spot in Galway City.  It stood for centuries as a community of thatched houses facing out over Galway Bay and the wild Atlantic ocean, just outside the medieval walls of Galway.  This was a native Gaelic fishing village beside an Anglo Norman merchant town.  The thatched houses are long gone, but Galway Bay and the Atlantic ocean are still there! The football pitches at South Park were the perfect spot to get back to my interval training...  
Hardy old daisies standing up to the might Atlantic!

Today called for: 1k, 2k, 1k, 1k - at tempo pace, with 400m rest interval in between.  This was my first interval run for some time so I felt it tough enough.  I decided to face it down bit by bit, telling myself that 'If I get through the next 1k I'll think about stopping', and then 'If I can managed to do two more laps, I'll have earned the right to stop'... but knowing deep down that I woudn't quit.  It was tough for sure, but I got through it and I'm still alive!  Next up is my 9 mile tempo run on Friday.  Looking forward to it...!
Distance:  Intervals, 5k
Route:  South Park, Claddagh
Satisfaction:  5/10

Monday, September 6, 2010

16 Mile Run

I forgot to bring my camera with me today, so this pic is from last Friday's hillwalk but the emotion after finishing today's long run was the exact same.  And 16 miles is one hell of a lllllllllllllooooooooooonnnnnnng run!  Steppidy, steppidy, breathidy, breathidy, hum a tune in my head, count and spell, daydream a bit, listen to the stream running, a bit of pain and easy again... it's all in a long run!  Long distance running is definitely a metaphor for life; you will encounter some pain, but if you just keep on going, one foot ahead of the other, it will eventually pass.  I'm going back to work tomorrow, after a month-long break, and I'm just glad to have kept the furman programme, more or less, on schedule.  Once again my long run was in Seanféistín.  I measured the distance in advance by driving eight miles from the cross at Ros a'Mhil, parking the car at that point, then running out towards the cross and back again.  I could definitely feel Friday's hills in my legs for the first three or four miles but eventually settled down.  To be honest, I was glad enough with the way I felt throughout.  I wasn't expecting the last mile to be so uphilly, (even though I had run down that way on the journey out to the cross) so I found this tough, but adrenaline brought me home!  The other big plus is that I felt fine after the run - no huge fatigue and no bad stiffness.  Some days just go for you...
Distance:  16 miles
Route:  Seanféistín
Satisfaction:  8/10

Saturday, September 4, 2010

18th pint after 6 out of 12 pens.

The spine of Binn Choirr as it turns on to Binn Dhubh, in the Twelve Pens Mountain Range.
For the last hurrah of my holidays I climbed six of the twelve pens (Connemara's main mountain range) on a fine day yesterday, with Brendan McGowan.  We set off early - meeting at Peacock's Pub in Maam Cross at 9.15am, and then drove the two cars past Recess village until we came to the Youth Hostel at the bottom of Ben Lettery Mountain.  This would be the finishing point, so we dropped one car here and drove back 4 kms to where the climb would start.  The plan then was to walk the Gleann Chócháin loop, which takes in the six 'pens' (peaks) called: Binn Dhoire Chláir,  Binn Choirr, Binn Dhubh, Binn Bhrian, Binn Ghabhair and Binn Lettery.  'Binn', the Irish for 'Ben', is the old Irish word for 'Peak'.  The day was perfect for walking - with the most important thing being that the underfoot conditions were perfectly dry.  
A pool of water at the top of Binn Choirr, in the distance you can see the last two peaks of the loop, Binn Ghabhair and Binn Leitrí.

The first climb, up to Binn Dhoire Chláir (or Derryclare), was nearly the most difficult part - after this it was a series of shorter ups and downs, with the exception of one or two steeper climbs, and sharp descents.  The sun was shining on us through Derryclare and Binn Choirr and we began falling into the shadow when we hit the aptly named Binn Dhubh (dubh being the Irish for 'black').  From time to time there were gusts of wind as it would funnel up through the valley below.  At every turn we were amazed by the beauty of the scenery all around.  Brendan was carrying a copy of Rough Guide's 'Walking Ireland' and the estimation there was that this loop could be done in 7.30hours - we were doubting it would take that long!  

We stopped three times for a bite and a drink - short breaks, no more than ten minutes.  Tea does not taste as good anywhere else as it does out in the wilderness like this!  The ascent up Binn Bhriain and the descent that followed was both the most enjoyable and the most difficult part of the day - the difficulty being the descent.   We reached the end in about 8 hours - so Rough Guide were actually low in their estimation, because we certainly weren't slow and our breaks were brief.  On the way down Ben Lettery, making our way to the car, Brendan realised that he had left his keys back in my car!  This meant a 4km walk would be added to our journey!  It only made the pint in Peacock's that bit sweeter... it being my 18th of the year.  Overall, this was a great day, and a heck of an achievement - these being amongst Ireland's most impressive mountain ranges.  Fair play to Brendan for suggesting this loop - and spending 9hours in the man's company was entertaining throughout.

Back to work on Tuesday - a fully fledged hillwalker now!  Also, there is a matter of a 16 mile long run which must be completed tomorrow or Monday.  Yikes!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

7 miles and turf home.

There they are - bags of peat, brought home from the bogs of Fionnán.  There is still one or two day's work left to get the rest home, but the bulk of the bog work is done.  It was tough, but nice to be out there in this weather.  Afterwards, I did my scheduled 7 mile tempo - up the village.  The run was:  2 miles easy, 3 miles fast, 2 miles easy.  I was surprised at how good I felt, given all the hard labour over the past few days!  It was pretty dark by the time I had finished, so 8pm runs are probably not a great idea from now on...I had to ditch the interval training this week, but from now on I should have a clear run at the marathon programme.
Distance:  7 miles
Route:  Village
Satisfaction:  8/10