Monday, January 31, 2011

Not Dead, Just Not Running.

I've been busy, or lazy, or just in need of a short break from running.  This break should end on Wednesday...or rather it will end on Wednesday.  The 'Monthly Brothers' have but one notice this week - our next race will take place in the lovely town of Birr on the 26th February, and not in Wicklow on the 12th of Feb as was the plan.  Now, back to temporary hibernation....

Monday, January 24, 2011

3 Miles of Treadmill. Yuck.

Three miles of treadmill bliss this evening.  I'm tempted to sell the bloody thing - it's a pale substitute for the open air.  You need to work twice as hard for half the fun on a treadmill.  That boring thud, staring onto a spot on the white wall in front and then glancing down at the time every twenty seconds in the hope that a minute has passed.  Give me a mountain any day.  Anyone want to purchase a boring treadmill?!  Didn't think so...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

10 Miles on the Old Ardee Road.

Knockabbey Gardens last Summer (not far from my running route today).

Little did I know as I set off for my run today that I would be returning to much political excitement, as the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) finally pulled the plug on his turbulent time as leader of Fianna Fáil (he is remaining on as Taoiseach until after the General Election next March).  Little did I know either that I would run ten miles (or close to), I figured I would run 6, hoped I would be up for 8, but when I got out there I just kept on keeping on.  The day was foggy and cold as I set off from Pollbrock, up the back lane to Stabannon Church and then out towards the graveyard, past the Norman castle and out the old Ardee road.  There were sheets of ice along the back lane towards the church and this segment of the run includes one or two steep but short climbs - which got the run off to a fresh start.  From then on I was well warmed up and though I dropped the pace a wee bit on the old Ardee road, I reckon I was still hitting the 8.20 mark.  The mind can drift on long runs like these and when you're thinking of life matters you are usually doing fine running-wise.  When the body begins to hurt a bit the mind focuses firmly on the RUN:  'God this hurts, Cripes this is a steep incline, bloody stitch' - every runner knows this I'm sure!  What I do in these instances mostly is to focus on my form and on my breathing and the hurt usually passes soon enough and I can get back to thinking about that weird looking tree, or that funny looking man peering at me from his gate or those things I have to do tomorrow.  With two miles to go for home today I felt pretty strong, and happy enough with training so far this year.  It may be unplanned, but training has a strong purpose now:  build a good base fitness for when the real training starts later in the year.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Step Up in Pace...

The famous prom, on a cold but clear evening.

An after-work run on the Galway prom this evening, and for the first time this year I decided to up the pace, for a mile or two. I ran the first mile easy, the next two at pace (circa 7min) and the last mile I hobbled home!  Conditions were perfect - a bit chilly for the poor walkers but grand for us runners.  I felt the middle miles to be very tough, but hopefully this will stand to me for the next big race.  I need to do a fairly long run this weekend up in the Wee County.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tuam 2011 8K.

The band of brothers with Big Ron and wee Marcus to the fore.  From left:  Cormac, Kevin, myself and Rónán.

There is a man in Wexford, a fair haired warrior, and he lives for the thrill of a yearly mountain run and a calendar that brings some road races his way.  Tonight, he sleeps with both eyes open, tosses and turns in his bed, jolts up straight at 4am screaming:
'Oh God no, they're off and running, they're off and running."
Yes, he has cause for concern, for off and running they certainly are and they'll be gunning for the fair haired scalp whenever the time comes.  Brothers Cormac and Kevin can content themselves with the knowledge that they made a great start in what was a very enjoyable 8k in Tuam.  Cormac came in at 44mins with Kevin crossing the line in the 45minute bracket.  
Cormac looking comfortable as he strides home in 44mins.

Us brothers are committed to a run a month this year, so this should lead to a bit of crack (fun, not drugs!) for 2011.  For me, this was also a good start to 2011 - I clocked the 8k at 38.16mins, which is a PB and a good two minutes faster than what I ran the same course in last year.  Rónán continues to post fantastic times and ran today's race in 31.29mins.  
Kevin, heading for an impressive finish in Tuam.
The Tuam run is fairly flat, but I feel it's pretty tough.  It is run over two uneven loops - something that can play with the mind a bit!  I felt pretty good throughout, but had to slow down for awhile around the 6k mark with a bit of a stitch.  This cost me the guts of a minute but I had recovered before I hit the 7k point.  The race was organised by Tuam AC, and once again they put on a great spread of tea and cake for afters... Next on the list is a run down Richie's side of the world - so he'd better get something for those sleepless nights...
A good start to 2011 for Cormac and Kevin.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Prom on a Clear Still Night and Looking Forward to Tuam

Last year's Tuam 8K brought Teresa and Enda down from the Wee County to participate with Big Ron and myself.  They won't be with us this year, but two other hares are coming...

I bought a treadmill two years ago for dark evenings such as these.  I live 30 miles west of my place of work in Galway City and by the time I arrive home every winter evening, 'tis as dark as the ace of spades.  However, it's hard to adjust to a treadmill after a few seasons outdoors.  So, I've begun to trot the Galway prom these evenings after work, where street lamps light the way and walkers, strollers and runners are plentiful.  This evening I ran a good and strong four miler - my first run since the outing with Rónán on Sunday last.  D and I are heading for Louth tomorrow, but unfortunately we'll be going in separate cars as I've got an early Sunday morning date with the Tuam 8k!  Kevin, Cormac and Rónán will also come to Tuam.  Each man dreaming of a fit year ahead!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

7.5 with Big Ron, and a Brand New Running Trail...

This heroic pose shouldn't deceive anyone:  Big R had just run a mile more than me, and still finished sufficiently far ahead to take a photo!

And there is Burgundy himself, minutes before we set off on that windy wonderland behind him.
We set off for Leitir Mucu, neither of us having ever run this route before.  To discover a new run on one's own doorstep is always a joy, but this was a real eye opener.  Big Ron at least was familiar with the area, he had driven his car up the narrow little road once before.  To me, it was like fallling down a hole in the ground and ending up in Wonderland.  We parked the car at the starting point - a right-hand turn, up a windy, bogland road.  The 'main' Leitir Mucu road is pretty isolated in it's own right, but this trek led us to completely uninhabited country, where the road prodded it's way through bog, marsh and lake.   The day was perfect for running - crisp air and not a cloud above.  Somehow though I wasn't quite 'with it' running-wise today and even stopped for a slight walk at the 3.5mile mark. I did recover though, and trotted most of the remainder at about an 8.40 pace.  

Big Ron, though, is on another fitness planet.  I turned for home with a little over 3 miles to run but Ron continued for another half mile - yet he still caught up with me right before the finish!   My first race of the year will be the Tuam 8k next Sunday.  Last year I posted a time of 40mins for this particular race...on today's form, beating that time will be no foregone conclusion.

Friday, January 7, 2011

2011 is Finally Off to a Five Miler.

Cold evening on the Salthill Prom...

Against an arctic wind on the Salthill Prom, I finally got running in 2011 this evening.  Five miles, fresh and fair, with a brisk and steady pace.  It took me a while to get warmed up, but once warm it was a very enjoyable run.  One middle aged woman, clad in a red bikini, sprinted towards the tide on the Ladies Beach, then slowed to a fearful plod before breaking the icy water.  Elsewhere two dogs danced along the edge of the sea as they followed the forward and backward flight of a flock of small birds that flew a few feet above the tide.  There was a strange feeling of freezing solidarity amongst runners and walkers as we nodded at each other in that smug way that element-bravers do.  And when it was all done, I wondered where the cold had gone as I sat into my car wearing a pair of shorts and a long sleeve top - as warm as I would be on a summer's day.

And now that 2010 has passed and 11 is with us, it's time for me to list my goals and plans for the year ahead... 
1.  Run More Races than Last Year and Improve Times.
2.  Eat Healthy Food, Cut out Slop.
3.  Check out Meditation.

And as regards the 24 pint rule:
This rule applied to 2010 only, but I've opted to keep the blog title the same for continuity reasons and will keep a track of pints this year and have a limit in my mind that I'll keep to myself for now!