Monday, October 31, 2005

Weekend Warrior

I never have problems getting up early. From childhood on I was out of bed at first light, and, while I have kicked that particular habit (now unfortunately inherited by my two boys), I still have no problems getting out of bed early for a run, be it at 6.20, 6 or even, as I did twice, at 5.20 am.
Unless it’s the weekend. Somehow I always think, there’s still plenty of time left in the day and I can always go running later. As anyone who has been in the same situation knows, the longer you wait for your run, the more likely it is that something else will crop up and scupper your plans. So, for reasons too plentiful to mention here, I did not run on Sunday. Fortunately, Monday is a bank holiday, and I could make up for it today. Normally, Monday is a rest day for me, so I effectively just swapped the two days around and didn’t miss anything.
My timing was almost comically bad though. After a rainy night, the sun was shining in the morning, and I got ready for my run. As soon as I left home, the rain started. Just a drizzle at first, then more and more and all of a sudden a deluge started, and when the hailstones started to come down, I turned around and sprinted back home, as I had only covered half a mile by then. After a break of about 20 minutes the sun was out again, and I started off again, with a new shirt and slightly wet shoes. It all went ok at first, then, after about 2.5 miles, the same deluge came back and I got soaking wet. However, this time I kept going and completed a 10-mile run, my first double figures since the marathon 4 weeks ago. It somehow reminded me of the marathon, because I was soaking wet during that effort, too.

10 miles, 1h20mins, exactly 8:00 minutes per mile. I don’t count the first mile.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Moon child

My stomach still isn’t quite back to normal, but I decided to give it a try anyway. I got up at 6.20 and had a peek out of the window. It was raining, but that didn’t put me off. And a good thing too, because by the time I left the house the rain had stopped and I was running under the stars and the moon. The moonlight especially was stunning. Running in the wood wasn’t an option; it was much too dark, but even out in the open the wind wasn’t too bad, and running along the shore of Caragh Lake in such a light was great.
I ran 7 miles at 56:42, that’s 8:06 per mile. I had a weird experience, too. From half-way point until about half a mile from home I ran totally on auto-pilot, I can hardly remember anything about it. It was a kind of outer-body experience, except that my mind wasn’t floating along but was somewhere far away in La-La-Land. Weird.
When I got back, the wife gave me her you-did-something-wrong look (I know it well ;-) ), chiding me for going running when my stomach was still upset.

Her: And while you were out, there was a program about running on the radio. The woman spoke about the dark side of running.

Me: What dark side of running?

Her: It can be addictive

You don’t say!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Still no go

The stomach bug is slowly retreating from my body (and into the bodies of other bloggers it seems), and I’m slowly coming round to the idea of physical exercise again. I did Yoga again last night, which already felt easier than last week. I think I’m starting to understand a few of the poses.
I was also planning to start running again this morning, but the wind was howling all night and discouraged me from doing so. I have the option of either running in the woods where it is sheltered but nearly pitch dark at my time in the morning, or out in the open where the wind blows in straight from the Atlantic, and neither option was particularly appealing.

P.S.: It was so windy last night that a friend’s shed’s roof was blown off! Running in this weather might not just be unpleasant, but also a bit dangerous. I feel better now about not running.

Monday, October 24, 2005

My turn

After reading in Susan’s and Yvonne’s blog about them feeling like poop, it was obviously my turn (you can’t catch an illness from reading someone else’s blog, can you?). I had stomach cramps and various unpleasant side-effects (I’ll spare you the details) over the weekend. I think it's a spell of gastroenteritis. Today I’m feeling better, but I’m staying home from work because I’m still far from ok. Needless to say, I didn’t do any running. I won’t be doing any over the next few days either until I feel up to it again.
Sorry about this entry devoid of any running activity in a running blog, sometime the Real World interferes, and it really sucks.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Darkness Falls

Tomorrow there is a 10k in Killarney, just 20 minutes drive from home. I was undecided if I should run, seeing as it is only 20 days after the marathon, and you’re supposed to recover for 4 weeks. I was just about to decide to run, when I realised that I would have to drive to Shannon airport that day because by mum is coming for a visit and I have to collect her. That settles that then.
I did a 7 mile run with 7x100m strides in the morning, and when I left the house it was so dark that I had to kind of guess where the road was, until I got out of the woods that surround our house. I really need to buy some kind of headlamp. I’ve seen one in a cyclist shop a few months ago, but wasn’t sure if it would be suitable for running. But I’ll have to find a solution soon, that’s for sure.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Cross Training

I started a new kind of cross training yesterday: Yoga. Yoga uses the weight of your own body in a very clever way to make the muscles work, and there is a lot of stretching involved. My wife has been an avid practitioner for years, and she finally managed to get me round to it. I think it will help me with my flexibility, which always tends to be low for long distance runners, and it does work some muscles that I usually don’t use.
It was surprisingly tough, and at one stage I got a cramp in my left calf! I haven’t had one of those since halfway through the Belfast marathon in May. It’s only once a week, so I’m supposed to do some practise at home as well. As I am really bad when it comes to stretching (i.e. I usually don’t do it), it might not be a bad idea at all.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Jack tagged me, here are the rules:

Find your 23rd post.
Find and display the 5th sentence.
Tag five more unsuspecting bloggers.

My 5th sentence from 27 July 2005 was:

The run was not too bad, but I could definitely still feel the effects of Sunday in my legs, and the longer the run went on the more my hamstrings were hurting.

That was a 14 miles run, three days after a 20 miler. I remember it well, I had to get up at 5:20 in the morning for it!

And now I have to tag 5 more victims, and hope they haven't been tagged yet:
Yvonne, Zeke, Mike, Chelle and the other Thomas.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Decision Made!

Each time my wide gave birth to a baby, her first words were “never again”. Each time she had changed her mind within 24 hours (the present baby count is 3). It is similar with me and marathons. While I never said “never again”, I always said “not for a long while”, but fact is that I ran my 3 marathons to date all within 11 months. It’s no different this time: after the marathon 2 weeks ago, I decided to take a one year’s break from marathoning and run a few shorter races that don’t require such a long training. Well, I’ve changed my mind, I’ll train for the Connemara marathon on Mar 26th 2006. And now that I have published that decision on my blog for everyone to see, I can’t chicken out so easily.
The 18 weeks training starts on Nov 14 (if I've managed to count up to 18 correctly, that is :-) ), until then I'll take it easy to allow my body to recover from the last effort.

Friday, October 14, 2005


I did indeed run 7 miles as planned this morning, and boy, was it rewarding! It was 6:45 when I left our house, it was still dark outside and I was running under the most stunningly beautiful starry sky you can imagine, Orion straight ahead of me. When I ran along the shores of Caragh Lake, the first light of day somehow managed to illuminate the surrounding hills in a light that was – pure magic. I’m half tempted to take a camera with me one morning to take a picture, but I know that a photo could never capture the magic of that scene.
Wow, I’m really lucky to live in such a gorgeous place!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

When I started my blog back in May, I didn’t know about any other running blogs, and I didn’t know if anyone apart from myself was ever going to read it.
I’ve recently started looking at loads of other running blogs, and I find reading them really addictive (which means I shouldn’t really do it while at work!). There are blogs from people with all kinds of running abilities, from runners with marathon PRs of 2:45 or so to others with a PR twice that, and some who wouldn’t dream of attempting such a distance.
I’m awestruck by guys who can run under 3 hours, and their training routine is so far ahead from what I’m doing it’s like a different sport altogether. But I also find other blogs interesting, and you certainly don’t have to be an Olympic champion to write down interesting thoughts about running.
My own running is pretty low key at the moment, I did 5 miles yesterday, and an hour of soccer again tonight (which isn’t really running training, I know), and I’m planning 7 miles for tomorrow because I’m itching to up my distance a little bit. I’m not training for any run at the moment, I just want to keep in shape. If that’s good enough motivation to keep going, I’ll find out soon enough.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Competitive, me?

I’m taking it easy at the moment. I did a 5 mile run on Saturday, just 6 days after the marathon, and ended up running too fast. My quads hurt for several days after that, and I took it as a sign to rest more. I played a 5-a-side soccer game last night, which turned into 4 vs. 5 after one of my team mates got injured – and the amount of running I did afterwards was probably not good for me either. I might run an easy 5 miler tomorrow morning just to get back into recovery running, but only if it’s not raining. There’s no point in pushing yourself too hard at this time of the year.

A few weeks ago my wife asked me why I was so competitive when it comes to running. I didn’t agree with that statement at all. When running at my level, you’re not trying to beat anyone else, you’re just running against yourself. She still insisted that this was competitive. I’m not denying that I can be competitive (as anyone who came up against me at soccer can testify), I just don’t agree that trying to beat your own best time in a long-distance run is competitive.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

3-Country Marathon, Lake Constance, 2 October 2005

I'm better prepared than ever before for a marathon, though that is not saying an awful lot. My preparation was hampered by shin splints about 2 months before the marathon, and I subsequently missed a significant amount of training because of that.

We fly to Zürich on Thursday, 3 days before the marathon. I check the weather forecast and they say 13 degrees, cloudy, with occasional showers. That’s a bit chilly maybe, but not too bad running weather. By Saturday they’ve changed their mind: 10 degrees, rain, lots of it. Unfortunately, the latter prognosis is the correct one.

The start is in Lindau, Germany, a place with limited parking facilities, so the organisers urge everyone to park in Bregenz, Austria, near the finishing line and catch a boat from there to the start. I follow that advice, but completely fail to anticipate that the majority of the 5000 other starters (just over 1300 for the marathon, the rest for the half-marathon) had the same idea, and the queue is enormous. I manage to scramble onto the last boat, and get changed there. I haven’t got a watch on me, which is good, because we get to Lindau only 10 minutes before the start, we just have time to put our clothes onto the lorry and go into the starting area. The Good Thing about this is that we don’t have to wait in the freezing rain. The Bad Thing is that we are right at the back of the field.

Start: It takes a bit to get going, and then the pace is slower than I have planned. I intended to run roughly 5 minutes per km (8 minutes per mile) for as long as I can hang on to, but the pace for the first 10 km is more like 5:20 per km, about 8:30 per mile. The race is not run on the Bundesstraße (main road) but on smaller pathways and dirt roads along the lake. That makes for nicer scenery, but considering the number of runners, it is not sufficient. The worst point comes at about km 6, where I overtake a very slow trio of middle-aged fat slow bitches [insults definitely intended] who complain about being overtaken by so many people, because if people want to run faster, why don’t they start ahead of them in the first place. I just about manage to avoid the temptation to kick all kinds of **** out of them and keep going.

I miss most of the early km signs due to the congestion, but with my heart rate monitor (and the included stop watch functionality) I can always tell exactly where I am. It is frustrating to be stuck in the crowds, but I tell myself that at least I am prevented from starting too fast, and that is definitely a Good Thing.

The congestion continues all the way until about km 16 (10 miles) when the marathon and half-marathon courses finally split. From then on it’s more like being lonely rather than too busy.

I feel fine, not tired at all at that stage, and the water stations are every 2.5 km, which is great because it is never far to the next one. I have three carbo-hydrate gels with me. I initially attached them to my shorts, but that doesn’t work properly, so I carry them in my hands for most of the run. It doesn’t really bother me, but maybe for the next marathon I’ll get a belt for that kind of thing.

At km 20 (mile 12.5) I start to feel really good, without a trace of fatigue. Maybe the second gel I had just taken had something to do with it. The high doesn’t last for too long though, and by km 25 (mile 16) I start to feel low. Really low. Totally tired, knackered and out-of-it-low. I feel the overwhelming urge to do anything but continue running, but I somehow manage to find the energy to keep going, step by step by step, and finally, by km 30 (mile 19) I start to feel better again. I also realise that this is the farthest I have ever run in a marathon without getting cramps (I’ve had longer training runs without cramps, but then I never get cramps in training, ever). My pace is slower now, I just can’t keep the original pace any more, and I just manage to keep running by concentrating on my breathing. Left – right – inhale – left – right – exhale, and again, and again, and again. It’s not as boring as it sounds though.

The km markers keep coming, and there are plenty of people along the course cheering on the runners despite the weather. Oh yes, the weather. When they said rain, they really meant it. It is lashing for all of the 42 kilometers. It’s not just raining, it’s pouring, and without any break whatsoever. I’m running in a sleeveless top (thank god I’m not wearing a cotton t-shirt, it would drag me to the ground my now), and I’m grateful that it’s not windy, or I would be freezing despite the running effort.

It seems to be easier to run 42 km rather than 26 miles, because it is less distance from one marker to the next one. It really does seem to make a difference.

I manage to keep going, and finally the beautiful number 42 does appear on a sweet orange background, and me and everyone around me manages a surprisingly fast sprint into the stadium, around the track and over the finishing line.

My finishing time is 3:55:57, which means of course that I have finally, finally managed to beat that blasted 4 hours barrier, but considering all the hard work I’ve put in over the last 4 months, I am a bit disappointed. The weather was dreadful, but then again a cold day is better than a hot day. The congestion over the first 10 miles was brutal, but if that hadn’t been the case I would probably have started too fast (again) and my finishing time might have been slower, who knows. I have also finally managed to run a marathon without any cramps, and I have actually managed to run the whole distance without walking break.

I have originally had an eye on the Connemara marathon in March for my next effort, but maybe I’ll take some time off marathon running, concentrate on a few shorter races (after all, in my life I have run exactly 4 distance races, 3 marathons and one 5km run that I didn’t take very seriously) that don’t take so much effort, and maybe do another autumn marathon in 2006, after my body has had some rest.