Wednesday, November 30, 2005

What's the Time?

I had planned another 10 miler in the morning. The timing is easy: get up at 6, out of the door at 6:20, and back around 7:40. You would think that shouldn’t be a problem, wouldn’t you? So why did I set my alarm clock for 6:20? Even more annoyingly, I was actually up at 6, fixing breakfast for my sons, who are early risers (regular readers know that). I ended up realising my mistake only when I was about to leave, and had to settle for 8 miles instead.
The run was fine, but I did miss my favourite light source, the Moon, and had to rely on my headlamp instead.
I’m really annoyed with myself now. It doesn’t really matter as far as my training is concerned, because I can do 10 miles tomorrow or on Friday, so I’m not dropping any miles, it’s just my sheer stupidity that’s buggering me.

30 Nov: 8 miles, 1:05, 8:07 pace

Monday, November 28, 2005

A Day in My Life

I got up at 5:40am and got ready for my run – 13 miles, basically a half-marathon before breakfast. I was looking forward to wearing my brand new pair of adidas Supernova Cushion for the first time. The morning seemed bitterly cold, but after 3 miles I felt overdressed, despite wearing only two layers. The air seemed to get chillier as the run went on though, and by the end of it I felt a tad cold. I didn’t run as fast as anticipated, therefore I ended up being a few minutes late by the time I got to the office. Work was quite stressful, and in the evening I played soccer for an hour (and got beaten heavily). When I got home I just had time to hastily eat my dinner, then I had to bath my eldest son (age 4). Then mummy had to leave and it was down to daddy to make sure all 3 kids did their teeth and wee wee, and then it took 3 bed time stories plus a bottle for the youngest one to finally get them all to bed. By this time it was after 9 o’clock. You think I’m tired? Too right I am.

Tomorrow is a rest day. And if it weren’t planned as a rest day, it still would be a rest day, because I’m ready to drop.

27 Nov: 4 miles recovery run, 35:12, 8:48 pace
28 Nov: 13 miles, 1:51. 8:32 pace

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Sleet and Hailstones

It is really cold out there (though Zeke would probably disagree), and I’m glad today is an off day. Unfortunately, the present arctic conditions are apparently going to last for a few days, which means Monday’s 13 miles are most likely going to be a challenge.
I did 7 miles on Friday, as planned. I had another strained night due to those wonderful kids of mine. At some stage I had to get up and fetch some apple juice for the baby, and it was hail stoning outside. I thought if the weather would be like this at 6:20, I would just turn around and try and get some more sleep. Well, when the alarm went off the weather seemed fine and I got up. During my short breakfast, it started hail stoning again, so I decided to wear a wind jacket on top of the two layers I already wore. Dawn will probably find this very funny, but I was overdressed and got quite hot underneath all those layers. But when I got caught by a very hefty shower of sleet and hail stones, I was very glad for the extra protection. It was almost bearable, except when I went around a corner and had the wind blowing the hailstones directly into my face. Ouch!
I also felt very sluggish, my hamstrings felt not quite up to it. I presume it’s because I played soccer just 12 hours earlier. The plan actually called for 7 miles with 10x100 stride outs, but my legs were not up to the speed, so I just did 7 plain miles. I figured I had done more than enough sprints during the soccer anyway.

25 Nov: 7 miles, 58:12, 8:18 pace

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Funny That

Isn’t it funny? Only last week the good lady wife called me completely mad for running 10 miles to deliver a letter, and what did she tell me yesterday? “Thomas, I’ve got this urgent letter, and this less urgent one too, would you like to run to Killorglin and post it in the morning?” How quickly attitudes change!
Well, I declined because the schedule called for only 7 miles today, and anyway, I’m not her personal delivery boy.
Unfortunately, the baby (well, he’s nearly 2) came to our bed at 3 am and kept kicking me awake for the rest of the night, then at 4:30 the 4 year old came, kept me awake, too, and at 5 am he actually demanded some breakfast. I went back to bed afterwards but try as I might, I could not get back to sleep, so, at 5:50 I gave up and decided to do the 10 mile post run after all.
I made two more concessions to the cold, namely long sleeves and gloves, and boy was I glad about that. It was cold. It was freezing. It was …. , well, really cold. (No, I’m not a poet). When I got back, I had little bits of ice sticking to my hair. But I got my workout done, and delivering the letters should make for some marital brownie points.

23 Nov: 10 miles, 1:20, 8:00 pace

Monday, November 21, 2005

A New Beginning

I went shopping to Tralee yesterday and bought myself some track-suit bottoms. I figured with the temperatures dropping below freezing point, I should review my dressing policy of shorts and t-shirt. I also had a look some new pairs of runners. There was a pair of adidas runners that looked very cushioning, but I decided not to buy a new pair of runners without first trying to read some reviews of them. I’m already kind of regretting that decision. I’ve covered nearly 300 miles in my only present pair of runners (the other one was retired after the marathon) and it is very much time to phase in a new one.

Today I’ve officially started training for the Connemarathon. I’ve provisionally decided to run the long ones on Monday morning rather than Sunday for two reasons. Firstly, it means my wife won’t be a running widow every Sunday morning, which should increase her acceptance of my hobby, and secondly it means I won’t have the daunting prospect of a long run ahead of me all week (I got that idea from Mike). Once my long runs go over 17 or 18 miles, I might review that decision again.

The alarm went off at 5:40am and by 6:00 I was out on the road. I had my headlight, but I actually switched it off once I got out of the wood because the moon was easily bright enough, and I just love running under the moon and the stars. Caragh Lake was covered by a blanket of fog into which I was dipping in and out as I was running over the rolling hills alongside the lake. Fantastic! As a plus I ran negative splits without even trying.

19 Nov: 6 miles, 48:28, 8:04 pace
21 Nov: 12 miles, 1:36, 8:00 pace

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Combining a workout with something practical

The Yoga teacher last night made me work my abs muscles, I can really feel them today. It’s unbelievable how taxing a few funny postures can be.
I had planned a 9 mile run today, but when I was about to leave, I saw an urgent letter on the mantelpiece and thought I could combine the run with doing something useful, and took the envelope and ran the 5 miles into Killorglin to the post box, before doing another 5 miles on a different route on the way back.
The wife wasn’t quite as grateful as she could have been, and called me completely mad. Never mind.

17 Nov: 10 miles, 1:21, 8:06 pace

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Concerned Father

I finally managed a decent recovery run. My main problem on those runs is that I haven’t got any flat sections of road, so the best I can do is “reasonably flat”. I usually get the heart rate up too high on the climbs, and then struggle to get it down again. Well, today I finally managed to consistently keep the heart rate down. I don’t know quite what was different, I didn’t run any slower than on previous recovery runs (even faster than on some), but I felt very relaxed all the way.
The only hitch was a U-turn after 3 minutes. When I leave the house in the morning, I always lock the door, because our youngest son (who will be 2 in 3 week’s time) has a habit of running outside, and I definitely don’t want that to happen on a chilly dark morning at 7am. 3 minutes into the run the doubts started. “Is the door locked?”. I couldn’t risk leaving it open, so I turned back. Of course it was locked, no need to worry. Why did the brain not register that when I get out of the house? No, you don’t have to answer that.
As a result of that, the distance (and therefore pace) of today’s run is just a rough guess.

14 Nov: 8.5 miles, very hilly, 1:11, 8:21 pace
15 Nov: 5 miles(?) recovery run, 43:59, 8:47(?) pace

Monday, November 14, 2005

Permission Granted

I did another hill run today (we're talking about 150m elevation here). When I was huffing and puffing up the hill in a slight drizzle at 7am in very cold temperatures, I was starting to wonder what the hell I was doing. Then I reached the crest, and on the downhill it suddenly hit me. I ran full out, and really enjoyed it. I felt absolutely fantastic. Is that what they mean when they’re talking about runner’s high?

Yesterday evening the good Lady wife suddenly asked out of the blue: “When’s the Connemara marathon?”
Me: On March 26th
Her: So, in about 4 months?
Me: 19 weeks from now, to the day
Her: Oh really? You’re training for this already, aren’t you?
Me: No, actually, training starts a week from now
Her: I think I’d quite like to see Connemara in March

That’s it folks. Looks like I have permission from the High Council. Wahey!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Spot the difference

I think I should explain some of the things I said in my last entry. Firstly, allright, 8:23 pace isn’t that bad, and maybe I shouldn’t have felt like I had completely stunk up the place. It was just that I had intended to do a brisk 5 miler, and as soon as I hit the first slight uphill section I had to slow down a lot and never managed to increase the pace afterwards. Secondly, the perceived effort for that pace was way too high. If I run 8:23, I should be comfortable with that for a long while. Instead I felt like I was breaking a new speed record, I was completely knackered and exhausted by the time I got back home. That’s why I thought of it as a bad day,
It’s funny how differently you can feel just two days later though. I did my planned 12 miles this morning, and ran them on cruise-control, neither speeding a lot nor running particularly slow, and when I got home, I checked my time and was very pleasantly surprised to see that only 1:35 hrs had passed. That’s really fast for me. Just half a year ago, a cruise-control run would have been at around 8:30 pace, and if I wanted to do 8:00 I would really have to push myself. Now apparently I can cruise along at sub 8:00 (at least when I’m not having on off day). Maybe it was the rest day yesterday that made the difference, or maybe it’s just one of those things that you can’t really control, some days are good and some days are bad. For what it’s worth, I feel quite stiff now, though.
The weather yesterday was brutal btw, they didn’t exaggerate when they announced gale force winds, and running would have been completely out of question. Today was much nicer, a bit chilly (5 degrees – that’s Celsius of course, about 41 Fahrenheit), but little wind and I nearly managed to squeeze my run between two bouts of rain. I got a bit wet after 2 miles, but the last 8 miles were run in glorious sunshine. Now it’s raining again – that’s Irish weather for you, I suppose.

12 Nov, 12 miles, 1:35, 7:55 pace

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I stunk

The weather forecast predicts gale force winds and heavy rain for tomorrow, so, understandably, I decided to go running today and have a rest day tomorrow. I only did 5 miles, and boy, did I stink. I started at a relatively brisk pace, but not too fast. However, at the first gradient I slowed down and never recovered my pace from then. Maybe it was the Yoga from last night or maybe I was just having an off day, who knows. I’m planning to do a 12 miler at the weekend, weather permitting. I hope my legs will be more cooperative by then.

10 Nov: 5 miles, 41:59, 8:23 pace

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

You asked for it

A few people asked me about my headlamp, so here are some details: it’s called “Petzl Tikka Plus”. You can google for it, and have some reviews of it (all 5 stars). I bought it in the cycling shop in Killarney for 49 Euros, but Amazon have it for only $38. Oh well.
They had other models for 20 Euros, but I decided on the more expensive for two reasons. Firstly, it’s lighter; it weighs only 79 grams including batteries. The cheap model was twice that. Secondly, the batteries apparently last up to 120 hours on the economy setting (80 on optimal, 60 on bright), while in the cheap model they only last for 9 hours. I don’t want to end up in the middle of the night 5 miles away from home with dead batteries, and that’s much less likely to happen with the Petzl.
I’ve worn it twice now, and so far I can recommend it. It still feels weird to have some weight strapped to your head though.

Today: 5 miles recovery run, 45:30, 9:06 pace

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Let there be Light

I got the chance to try out my new headlamp for the first time this morning. It took a bit of getting used to. At first it felt weird to have a weight strapped to my head, and it was spooky to run in the rain in the darkness, but the main thing is it worked, I could see where I was going, and, even more importantly, any cars coming along could see me.
I did 8 miles, but for some reason I feel quite tired now. I did play soccer for an hour only 12 hours earlier, but I do that twice a week every week, and usually it doesn’t bother me. I’ll do a slow recovery run tomorrow, and maybe the day after that as well.

8 miles, 1:04, 8:00 pace

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The hill bites back

Well, I was quite pleased with myself on how I had conquered the hilly loop on Thursday, and then on the following days the hills fought back. My quads were very sore, I didn’t run on Friday, and then did a slow recovery run on Saturday, but still felt some soreness, especially in my left quad, on Sunday. I ran a lot faster today (Sunday), just to see if my legs could get me around 10 miles in under 8 minutes per mile. I succeeded in that trial, but I realise that it’s silly to do a tempo run at this stage of the season, when I am about to start a new marathon training program in a fortnight.
I also finally managed to get a headlamp, I went for the super-luxurious model in the shop because it was the lightest one, and the package claims that the batteries can last for up to 120 hours. I’m a bit sceptical about that claim, I guess we shall find out.

5/11: 5 miles recovery run, 43:56, 8:47 pace
6/11: 10 miles, 1:18, 7:48 pace

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Crash Boom Bang

You know those funny scenes in comedy films when someone walks in the attic and then breaks through the ceiling? Well, that was me last night, minus the fun factor. Our roof was leaking, and when Her-Indoors ordered me up to check it out, I banged my head against a beam, stumbled, and, before I had fully recovered, crashed with my right leg straight up to the hip through the ceiling. My leg is scratched, swollen and it hurts!

Did it stop my from running this morning? Of course not!

I left home at 6.35 and was surprised how dark it was, despite the fact that the clocks have just gone backwards. I’ll have to get that headlamp soon, but haven’t managed to get to Killarney yet. I did a very hilly 8.7 miles course, or at least I used to think it was 8.7 miles, but it might me shorter than that, because it only took me 70 minutes and I don’t think I ran particularly fast.

1/11: 5 miles recovery run, 48:17, 9:38 pace
3/11: 8.7 miles, very hilly, 1:10:00, 8:02 pace (distance [and therefore pace] could be wrong)