Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Dublin City Marathon.

The day's champ, Rónán, who ran the marathon in  3.15

I stood with 13,000 other demented souls on a cold October morning in Dublin and waited for Loudspeaker Man to call us off.  Marathon morning is full of anxiety - when to get up, what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat!  Hardly anyone does the same thing - in our hotel there were runners eating eggs, some eating cereal, some porridge, some drinking tons of water and others downing coffee.  Viv was up at 5am - couldn't sleep so he got up and ate his breakfast at an ungodly hour.  I spent the night tossing and turning - I didn't think I was anxious, but I clearly was!  At the start line, however, with the 13,000 others, I felt ready for the challenge.  Loudspeaker Man did the honours and away we went like hens released from a coup!  My plan was to start off nice and slowly, find a rhythm, and break the run into segments of three miles.  Rónán was tagging the 3.15 group and Viv was going to play it by ear - having only begun his training 12 weeks ago.  Conor, the marathon giant among us, was adding another to his relentless march towards 100.  I had trained without a watch, so I was not quite sure of what time to expect, but I hoped to be under four hours- slightly! 
After three miles I had established a comfortable pace, taking advice from wise owls like the great running fox and Conor, I took it nice and easy at the start.  I noticed that I was within about 800 metres of the 3.45 pace group (they were carrying a big purple balloon, so - hard to miss!) so I decided to keep this group within my site for a while.  Miles 6-9 were fine, with the first real hill coming at the nine mile mark.  All the training I had done on Seanadh Phéistín's hills came in handy here as I tore up this incline, passing a heap of runners and feeling great.  At this stage I was sure I could keep that purple balloon in my site and set a good time.  Miles 9-12 dragged a bit, but the purple balloon didn't get too far ahead yet!  I somehow felt the next three-mile segment, between 12-15 would be the toughest and, for me, it proved to be just that. The crowds along the way were great -handing out all kinds of jellies and treats and pushing us all on.  With their help and a bit of inner dog I got through this rough period and came out at mile 15 feeling a bit weary, but encouraged that I was beginning to improve again.  Miles 15-18 were significant for me, in that they contained another few inclines where I could push on up.  I reached mile 18 in good nick, with the purple balloon the same distance ahead of me as it had been since the start of the race.  Now I had a cunning plan!  The first part of the plan was to spend miles 18-21 very slowly reeling in the 3.45 pace group and their purple balloon!  I was aided by the marathon's toughest incline at mile 19, where once again I felt the benefit of Seanadh Phéistín.  I actually caught the purple balloon group at the midway point of mile 20 but decided to stay with them until we came to the 21 mark.  At that point came part two of my plan!  I was determined now to exert myself as much as I could between miles 21-24, knowing that I could open a gap on the purple balloon group in order to ensure that, even if I crawled the last two miles I would still make the line under 3.45 (an astonishing time for me!).  I opened a good gap for sure, and may have started to fade at around the 23 mile mark, but still kept a fair pace going.  The last mile of the marathon was especially difficult - having nearly emptied the tank earlier.  As we came by Trinity College the crowd were yelling 'just around the corner now'!  However, turning the corner didn't reveal the finish line so my heart sank for a few moments... and then.... THERE IT WAS AFTER TWENTY SIX MILES - THE FINISH!!!  I hobbled towards the end, spotted my lovely wife cheering in the crowd and saw that the clock said 3.44.  As it turns out, I ran an official time of 3.43.57 (taking chip time into account).  I was absolutely delighted - I never thought I would get near this time!  Rónán crossed the line in an astonishing 3 hours and 15 minutes, Conor chalked up his gazillionth marathon in 3.28 and Viv pushed his Banner snout over the line in 3.59. Later that night I drank my 19th and 20th pints of the year and the previous evening I celebrated my 36th birthday.  

Thursday, October 21, 2010

3 Miles, Contemplating Marathon Strategy.

The sun going down on Galway Bay!  This pic may be the last taken by my Nikon camera, for she did start playing up afterwards (lens not opening). 
Four days to go.
This evening I ran three miles of prime October chill.  It was so cold that I noticed a flock of seagulls doing star jumps on Blackrock pier, just to stay warm.  And truthfully it was so cold that I wore a thermal vest for the first time ever (and will consider running in Long Johns if these arctic conditions continue).  However, the weather may be cold, but it's also strangely glorious - and bright as Summer.  What preoccupied my mind during tonight's trot was: what will my marathon strategy be?  I would love to come in under four hours, but I fluctuate between being confident of doing that, and being doubtful that I can actually finish the distance.  The doubts creep in whenever I consider the following scenario:  I go out too fast in an attempt to stick with the 3.45hr group and fall apart at mile 16.  However, the alternative is that I go out too slowly and thus underachieve!  Anyway, my latest thought is that I will do as I've done throughout my training regime: run as I feel, care not at all about finishing times, start easy and see how it goes.  After all, I would be happier to finish the marathon well rather than have it finish me!
Distance:  3 miles
Route:  Salthill prom
Satisfaction:  8/10

Sunday, October 17, 2010

6 on Friday, 8 Today.

On my way out to Salthill for Friday's six mile tempo run I snapped this tree on the Claddagh basin.
The Dublin Marathon is but a week away and I'm well on my taper down now.  D and I were away yesterday, so a bad diet of cake, coffee and a late night, coupled with a fair drive home, left me struggling with my eight mile run back at home this evening, but it went well enough, all considering.  On Friday I ran my tempo six miler on the prom in Salthill - a lovely evening for running.  So, I'm nearly there - hope to follow a schedule of good eating, drinking and sleeping this week, for I face a big, big run on Monday next.
Route:  Salthill on Friday, An Cheathrú Rua today
Pace:  Tempo Friday, 9.15ish today
Satisfaction:  Both days 7/10

Monday, October 11, 2010

So Good we did it Twice...

A view from the start of our Rosmuc run... unfortunately this is the best snap I could take before my camera batteries ran out!
We gathered at a lay-by three miles east of Camus, pulling up our cars and warming up.  There weren't many of us but this was a legitimately organised race, fair play to Róisín Ní Mhainín, who is collecting for Cancer Care West.  The race itself was to head west towards Rosmuc (a six mile, flat run).  The problem for both Rónán and I was that our schedule called for a 13mile training run, so we decided to run the race, then turn around at the finish line and head back towards our car (adding a further mile when we got there)!  The pace was waaaaaaaay too fast for my marathon run - I would say that a good portion of the first six miles was run under 8 minutes!  We did slow down on the way back though, and it was very nice to get a training run in with Rónán, prior to our big day in a few weeks time.  By the way, Big Ron should be tested for drugs because he ran those first six miles at a sub 7 pace!
Distance:  13 miles
Route:  Rosmuc
Satisfaction:  10/10 (very nice to get a race in)

Friday, October 8, 2010

6 Mile Tempo.

The Salthill Prom.
To Salthill tonight and a good six miler.  Strangely for this time of year there was a stiff but warm easterly wind, and the tide was very high.  It was a great evening to be out walking or running and so signs on it as that is just what the people of Galway did, in their hundreds and thousands!  I was pleased enough with the run - kept a strong tempo throughout.  Following the run I went across to Maud's Ice Cream shop, to treat myself (I am feeling ridiculously smug these days, now that the bulk of my marathon training has been completed), however, Maud's was just closing so I had to make do with a Magnum from the Petrol Station!  There's 13 miler coming up on Sunday, though Rónán has mentioned a 6 mile race in Ros Muc that I would do, if I could somehow also manage to fit in the other 7 miles before or after?  That will be the last of the big training runs before the Marathon.  I'm not feeling too bad at this point...
Distance: 6 miles, tempo
Route:  Salthill
Satisfaction: 8/10

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Boring Treadmill After Months of Open Air...

For the first time since the depths of last winter I returned to the treadmill this evening to do my interval training.  What a drag the treadmill is after months of open road!  I wouldn't have gone near it had it not been for the darkness that descends on this area in the evenings, and due to my granduncle's funeral we were all late returning home.  Still, the important thing is that the intervals are done:  10 minutes slow, 6 by 800mtrs, and 10 minutes warm down.  Another step closer.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

20 Miles.

Destination : An Spidéal - a lovely little village/town by the sea in Conamara which was the peak of my 20 mile run.
I dreaded this run.  It was a monster in my mind for the past week - every time I thought of it I pictured myself being stranded miles from the car with both legs shot to pieces, gasping for water and praying for someone I knew to pass and give me a lift back!  Therefore, it was more than fantastic that it turned out to be a strong, confidence-building run.  I decided to run the coast road to An Spidéal instead of my usual Seanadh Phéistín route.  This is a busy, but extremely flat road, with only one or two slight inclines.  I parked the car at the midway point and ran five miles west, returning to the car, then five miles east and back home!  The first five were fine - I left a bottle of water at the turn but only took two small gulps. 
Here was my first turn, after five miles.  I left a bottle of water here, another at the ten mile mark, and another at the 13 and 18 mile marks.  I was happy enough with my water management - only took a few gulps each time, rather than my old style of carrying the bottles for ages!

The next five weren't too bad either - actually it was going so well for me that I almost invented a problem of 'heavy-leggedness' just to offset my surprise at how good I felt!  The five miles to Spiddal were the quickest of all - at this point I was well in the rhythm.  On the turn from Spiddal I was buoyed by the fact that I was only five miles from home and feeling strong - there would be no shameful end to this day!  At this point I considered my pace and felt it was strong enough (I don't wear a watch so had no idea what time I was registering).  On returning to the car and checking the time I discovered that I had run the twenty miles in three hours - which is 9 minute miles on the nose.  If I can manage this for the full marathon then the sub four is a definite possibility.  However, there is a long way to go yet, and much can happen between now and October 25.  BUT, for once I feel confident - I've reached the peak of the training programme, and if the taper goes well then there is no reason not to be upbeat...  Also, my granduncle died last night - aged 92.  He was a great old spirit, always happy despite living through hard enough times.  A lot to learn from his likes, RIP.
Distance:  20 miles
Route:  Bóthar Chois Fharraige
Pace:  9min miles
Satisfaction:  10/10