Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I hear you

Ok, ok, guys and girls, I get the hint. You want photos. You will get photos, I promise. But I’m in Dublin at the moment, and haven’t got access to my photo albums at the moment. I’ll try and scan some as soon as I get home in the New Year. Let that be my New Year resolution.
Now, the running. I did 4 easy miles yesterday, and a long run today. Well, when I said Long Run, I really meant Medium Run. It was supposed to be 12 miles, but, to be honest, it was probably less than that, so let’s call it 11 miles, and it will make up for the fact that Monday’s 8 miler was probably more like 7.5. I don’t really care about the exact distance, because this is a recovery week anyway, and I’ll try and do the prescribed 37 miles, and if it ends up as 36 miles, that won’t kill my chances of a decent marathon in March. I’ll try and do the 5k race on Sunday, but I won’t run full steam because I have an 18 mile run planned for Tuesday, and don’t forget, we have to drive all the way back from Dublin to Kerry on Monday, and that will take about 5 hours. (It’s 4 hours if I drive on my own, 4.5 with Niamh beside me nagging me to slow down ;-), and 5 with the kids).
The run today felt much easier than Monday’s 8 miler. I seem to have these off days followed by better days a lot recently. I’m not sure why. Running last summer felt much more, well, even. The temperature has dropped again, and the sidewalks were very treacherously covered with a thin sheet of ice – very tricky to run on, but I managed to do it without losing my footing. Tomorrow is supposed to be even colder, but I guess we’ll see. I’ll do roughly 8 miles again tomorrow, and then I’ll rest for two days for the race. That should be sufficient, I won’t try and brake any records (apart from my own).

27 Dec: 4 miles recovery run
28 Dec: 11 miles, very hilly

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas Run

Christmas seems to be a very quiet place in blog-land. Nobody is updating their blogs, and I’m not sure how good everyone is when it comes to running.

We had a long drive to Dublin (which is made longer by 3 kids in the car), and a succession of Christmas parties – one every evening so far. I have mostly managed to withstand the temptations throws my way, and just had a glass of wine or two per party. Niamh’s family probably think I am the most boring person in history.

I finished off last week with a 5 mile recovery run on Sunday, and managed 8 miles today. A look at the map revealed a park called Cabinteely about 2.5 miles from here, maybe a little bit further. A round in the park is just over one mile, and that’s where I am going to spend my running week. The run is very hilly, there’s one bigish hill between here and the park, and the park itself as quite hilly as well. There were plenty of other runners in the park today, which is a completely new experience for me. Unfortunately it looked like most people are able to run faster than me. Either that, or I was very slow today – which is a possibility, because I felt quite sluggish.

I don’t know the exact distances of the runs here, so I am running by time only, and don’t know my pace. I’ll just try and run by time and effort for this week.

25 Dec: 5 miles recovery run
26 Dec: 8 miles

Friday, December 23, 2005

A Marathon Day

Wednesday turned out to be a bit of a marathon day, though it was the wrong kind of marathon. After getting up at 4:45 and running 17 miles, I was bound to be a bit tired for the rest of the day. What I hadn’t really factored in was that I was invited to a children’s Christmas party after work and then a card night at a friend’s house. I expected the cards to be finished by midnight (which would have been very late anyway), but for various reasons it didn’t stop until 3:30 in the morning. Well, we had to finish the game, didn’t we? I felt like going home at midnight, but didn’t want to be a spoilsport, though if I had known just how long it would take, I definitely would have left there and then. I finally got to bed at 3:45, which made it a 23 hours day.

No, I didn’t do any running yesterday morning ;-). Thursday is a rest day anyway. I went to bed early (ish) last night and as soon as the head hit the pillow, I was zonked. When the alarm went off at 6, I originally thought I had set it by mistake, until it dawned on me that I was due another 10 miler. Getting up was a challenge, but I rose to it.

The 10 miler was very pleasant though, under a slightly cloudy sky with plenty of moon light, which looked very romantic. My hamstring produced just a tiny little twinge, not really a pain, just a reminder to be careful. For once I didn’t get hit by the rain, it was just a bit windy along the exposed parts of Caragh Lake, but nothing I couldn’t handle. The temperature has climbed as well. At 9 o’clock it was 10C/50F, and it didn’t feel much colder when I did my run. Maybe winter is already over here?

We will drive to Dublin today to spend Christmas with Niamh’s family. The kids are very excited to see Nana and Gaga and all the Aunties and Uncles again. I don’t like running in Dublin, because last year all I could find was concrete sidewalks (there aren’t any parks suitable for running close enough to Stillorgan that I know about). I’ll have another look, because I’m sure the week of running on concrete substantially contributed to my shin splints, and I don’t want to get injured again, especially since my hamstring is dodgy already. Whatever, it will be a cutback week. The schedule calls for just 37 miles, with a long run of no more 12 miles. I’m sure I’ll manage that. There is also a 5k race on New Year’s Day in Phoenix Park, which sounds nice as long as I don’t celebrate New Year too enthusiastically.

23 Dec: 10 miles, 1:22, 8:12 pace

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Long Run at Long Last

According to Pete Pfitzinger, long runs are at least 17 miles. Therefore I did my first long run of the marathon training today. I had to get up at a ridiculously early hour. I set the alarm for 5am, but at 4:45 Lola cried that her bed covers had come off. That’s the third night in a row, and it’s the same issue at exactly the same time of night. I tried to tell her that at 4-and-a-half she is big enough to pull up the covers herself, but no luck so far. Anyway, against better judgment I did go back to bed, but only dozed there for 5 minutes and got up again. Mindful of the long run ahead of me, I had half a banana as well as my usual wheat cereal, and left out a gel with some water on the driveway for later on.
Last night had been very stormy, in fact the wind kept me from falling asleep for an hour (which isn’t good, when you’re only hoping for less than 7-and-a-half hours anyway), and I was worried if I would be able to do my run in those conditions. Luckily, by 5 o’clock the storm had calmed down, though it was still quite windy. I decided to do some laps in the woods, where the road is more sheltered from the elements. I planned on a 6 mile loop along a hill called the Devil’s elbow, then a 5 mile loop to Ard na Sidhe, and another 6 mile loop to make it 17 altogether. It turns out that the 5 mile loop is a tad longer than 5 miles (either that, or I ran the middle loop a good bit slower than the other two, but I don’t think so), so I called it 17.2 miles all in all. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a bit more or less – it’s only a training run.
My left hamstring started acting up at mile 6 and was hurting for 3 or 4 miles after that. I’m still not sure what it is. It’s not a cramp, and it gets better if I shorten my stride. It’s just a little bit worrying, but not enough to stop me from running. At mile 16 I got a coughing fit – not nice at all, and for the next 2 or 3 minutes after that I felt like my chest was restricted. That went away as well though, and I finished the run still feeling very strong.
All in all, I’m pleased with today’s workout.

21 Dec: 17.2 miles, 2:30, 8:43 pace

Monday, December 19, 2005

Weekend Drama

My department’s Christmas party was on Friday – the main difference to the company’s do being that there are no partners invited. In other words, it is generally a very heavy drinking session. I also had to attend out twins’ Christmas play in their school (which turned out to be much more entertaining that I had expected), so I was a bit rushed to get to the dinner in time. I didn’t feel like drinking much, and left at half past twelve – one of the first to leave. Because I was on water during dinner I was even sober – which will probably make me a pariah amongst my colleagues in days to come ;-).
Saturday was a day of drama. Cian had coughed during the night again and we struggled for 10 minutes to get a little spoon of medicine down his throat. Niamh, my wife, left the bottle on her bedside table. So what do I discover the next morning after breakfast? Only Cian with the open bottle in his hand, a big portion spilled on the floor and we have no idea how much he had himself. Niamh brought him to the hospital, where he was being seen by two nurses and three doctors in succession. None of them could find anything wrong with him, but all wanted yet another opinion. Eventually they sent them back home. Cian is absolutely fine – though, of course, he is still coughing, and by now has passed it on to me as well.
Oh yes, the running. I did 4 easy recovery miles on Sunday to conclude the week on a mileage of 42. Today I did a 9 mile tempo run, the first in ages with plenty of moon light. Unfortunately, the weather changed towards the end and I was caught by the wind, the cold and my old buddy, the rain, again. I also lost my concentration towards the last 3 or so miles because I slowed down from a tempo run to a “normal” pace run. I didn’t feel tired or unable to keep up the speed effort. I just lost my concentration and slowed down a bit. Ah well, it’s still 14 weeks until the marathon, and a slightly slower than optimal tempo run won’t have any real effect.

18 Dec: 4 miles recovery run, 36:42, 9:10 pace
19 Dec: 9 miles, 1:12m 8:00 pace

Friday, December 16, 2005

Wind, Rain and ... Tags Again

I went to bed too late and did not fall asleep until 11pm, so getting up at 6 was never that easy. To add to the troubles, Cian came into our bed around 2:30 and kept us awake with some heavy coughing. We struggled to get some medicine down his throat, and eventually succeeded, but it was probably nearly 3:30 by the time I got back to sleep.

I got up at 6:00, feeling less than refreshed. I had also played an hour of football 12 hours previously, which didn’t help my legs. It was Full Moon, and last night was fantastic with hardly any clouds, and I was looking forward to a great run in the moonlight. I felt cheated when I saw that it was totally cloudy. It was even worse when I stepped out of the house and realised that it was actually raining, with the wind blowing to compound the misery. I decided to change my route. Rather than do 10 miles along Caragh Lake, which can be wind-swept, I did 2 laps of 5 miles from our house to Ard-na-Sidhe and back. That run is through the woods, and therefore more sheltered from the wind. The run was ok-ish, but I felt a bit sluggish. I noticed that my pace increased with each 2.5 mile section though, which is good.

There is yet another game of tag going on, and Jack tagged me. There’s the rules:
”Write 5 random facts about yourself, and then list the names of 5 people whom you in turn infect. Also, leave a post to these people letting them know they have been infected”. I won’t write them any comments, because that reminds me too much of spam, if they read my blog they will know.

So, 5 facts:

1. I once spent 2 years in Vienna while my girl friend was in Dublin. We wrote each other a letter every single day. After that we knew we were meant to be together.
2. Even more astounding, we had only been together for 2 months before that. I never really expected it to last the 2 years, but it did.
3. We have been married for 8 happy years now, with 3 kids
4. The oldest two are twins, a girl called Lola and a boy called Shea.
5. I am a soccer nut; my favourite team are Manchester City. As a result of this, I hate Manchester United with a passion.

There it goes. My five victims are DGC, psbowe, Cliff, Marc and NYFlyGirl.

16 Dec: 10 miles, 1:24, 8:24 pace

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Early Morning

For some perverse reason that only runners can understand, I was looking forward to today’s 15 miler. Now that my miles are slowly reaching the proper long-run stage, they somehow seem more worthwhile.

Getting up for that run was easy. I set my alarm for 5:20am, but by 5am I was up anyway, changing the baby and re-arranging the bed covers for my daughter, because “the blanket has come off the dollies and the teddy” (obviously, a grave concern!). After that there was no point in going back to bed, but I felt wide awake anyway.

Yesterday had been rather cold, -3C/26F, and the short sleeves had not been the ideal choice, so I went for the long sleeves today. Alas, today was a lot warmer, 3C/37F, and initially I felt quite overdressed and actually pulled up my long sleeves. It was very cloudy, but very tranquil initially. Then, by mile 5.5, the wind started blowing strongly, and by mile 6.5 I was running in the rain again. At that stage I was grateful for the long sleeves and pulled them down again. It finally stopped raining by mile 11, and the rest of the run was more pleasant.

I felt a sharp-ish pain in my left hamstring with half a mile to go, the same hamstring that has given my troubles before. So late in the run it was no problem to get home, and a few hundred yards on the pain seemed to have gone anyway, but I am a bit worried about this. So far I have no idea what’s causing the pain, but it is re-occurring fairly frequently.

Last week I got quite hungry around mile 11, so this time I left out a gel at our driveway, went on a 10 mile loop along Caragh Lake, came back, had the gel and some water, and then finished the run with a 5 mile loop through the wood. I had developed that routine when training for my last marathon, and it worked very well. The only drawback is a slight temptation to go home after the first loop rather than go out again, but so far I have always managed to resist.

13 Dec: 5 miles recovery run, 48:08, 9:37 pace
14 Dec: 15 miles, 2:12, 8:48 pace

Monday, December 12, 2005

Socials and Changes

I managed to get through the weekend without any mishaps. Friday’s social was ice-skating, which I enjoyed from the sidelines. Saturday’s was a mum’s outing, which meant that the daddies stayed at home baby-sitting while the mummies got drunk (how times have changed, eh) and Sunday was a trip for the kids to nearby Crag Cave to visit Santa, which they enjoyed immensely.

I got my 4 miles recovery done to conclude my 40 miles week, and decided to make some small changes to my schedule. Long runs on Monday weren’t ideal because it meant cutting short Sunday evening, one of the few evenings my wife and me get to spend together these days (times are busy), and I wasn’t sure how long I would manage to run long in the morning and then play an hour of soccer in the evening. Therefore I decided to switch the long runs to Wednesday, which should fit easier into the rest of my life. This week’s plan calls for a modest increase of the mileage to 42 miles. I started with a brisk (for me) 8 miler this morning under a starry sky and a spectacular display of the Belt of Venus towards the end of it. It got a bit chilly again, but I finally got through a run without any rain. The left hamstring was fine, and my right foot, which had some aches and pains occasionally over the last few weeks, wasn’t acting up either. Woo-hoo, my luck is changing!

11 Dec: 4 miles recovery run, 8:54 pace
12 Dec: 8 miles, 1:04, 8:00 pace

Friday, December 09, 2005

Slow Coach

After the 10 miles this morning, this week’s mileage stands at 36 – a short run on Sunday will bring it up to 40. That might not impress some of you, but the way I’ve been feeling lately I’m pleased. Something I have noted is a distinct loss of pace. Today’s run was by far the slowest run I’ve had in ages (apart from recovery runs of course). I’m not bothered about that though. It’s always better to slow down when you’re increasing your mileage. Plus, last night’s soccer was rather strenuous, and running 10 miles 12 hours later is asking for stiff legs. It’s a lot warmer now, it was about 6C/43F in the morning, and originally I hoped to go through a whole run without rain, but my hopes were drowned by mile 3.5. Ah well.

The stomach seems to be nearly back to normal, and the kids have stopped vomiting – hurray! Our youngest son, Cian (I’ve decided not to be so coy about my family’s names from now on), celebrated his second birthday yesterday, and he really enjoyed being at the centre of attention. He also adores his new tricycle. I might post some photos if we get them developed any time soon.

The weekend is going to be strenuous – there are three Christmas parties, two for the parents and one for the kids. I’ll abstain from alcohol – I think.

8 Dec: 4 miles recovery run, 36:36, 9:09 pace
9 Dec: 10 miles, 1:29, 8:54 pace

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

After a Good Run comes a ... yes, you guessed it

Some of you guys and gals might be getting a kick out of running in adverse weather conditions, but I can tell you I am getting thoroughly sick of the Irish winter weather. Today was probably a little bit warmer than on previous mornings, but you couldn’t really tell because it was lashing, and to compound the misery the wind was blowing really strong in places – just what you need when you’re not feeling too well anyway.

The kids all had a stomach bug over the last week. It could have been worse, because between throwing up violently they were totally chirpy. For the last two days I could feel it myself, I haven’t thrown up (yet), but there is a certain uneasy feeling around my stomach area. Additionally, due to late work commitments I didn’t get to bed until 0:40 last night. I got up at 6:20, and that’s not even nearly enough sleep. The schedule called for an 8-mile tempo run, but somehow I wasn’t quite up for it. I certainly put in the effort, but the pace wasn’t forthcoming, and I hardly ran faster than on Monday, when I seemed to glide along effortlessly. My left hamstring made itself known again as well. It’s just a little twinge at the moment, not enough to stop me from running, but enough to have me a little bit worried.

I need to rest – I’ll go to bed early tonight and hope the kids will cooperate. Tomorrow is just a 4 mile recovery run, and if I manage 2 or 3 nights of 8 hours sleep, I’ll be fine again.

7 Dec: 8 miles, 1:06, 8:15 pace, faster during the middle 4 miles, quite slow warm-up and cool-down

Monday, December 05, 2005

A Bad Night and a Good Run

Sunday was a bad day. I didn’t feel hung over, but not entirely up to it either. The fact that I hadn’t slept an awful lot didn’t help. The kids were becoming progressively worse, and by bedtime they were complete nightmares. It was well after 9 o’clock when we finally managed to put them down, and then the troubles were not over. I can’t quite remember all incidences from the night, but it involved a succession of children climbing into our bed, a nappy change on a very uncooperative baby some time around maybe 2 or 3, and never more than an hour of uninterrupted sleep. I had set my alarm for 5:30, but at 5:20 I was filling up hot water bottles for the elder two, and there was no point in going back to bed.
Considering all that, it was a miracle how well the run went. I did 14 miles, about 4 or 5 of which were in rain, the wind was blowing for some time, too, and of course it was pitch dark, with temperatures around freezing point. However, I felt fine for the whole run, except at around mile 11 when I could clearly feel my hamstring tighten on a climb. I shortened my stride, which seemed to help. I also started to feel hungry around this point, so I guess my stomach was running out of wheat cereal by then. However, I made it home without problems, and with negative splits as well. I was very surprised when I looked at my heart rate monitor at the end of the run; the average heart rate had only been 151, which was less than on my so-called recovery run the day before. I know Chelle had some funny readings from her hr monitor, and maybe mine isn’t entirely accurate either, but my readings were always believable, so I tend to think that they are correct.

5 Dec: 14 miles, 1:56, 8:17 pace

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Redemption Run

One of the problems of training during the winter is the Christmas season with all its parties and office functions. Last night was my company’s do, with about 200 people in attendance and enough alcohol to drown everyone in sight.
I did reasonably well, despite not sticking to my resolve not to drink anything apart from some wine during dinner. I went home after a couple of pints of beer and a few shots of tequila in a not-entirely-sober state.
Today’s 5 mile recovery run was for both recovery and redemption. I didn’t really have a hangover, just a little queasy feeling in my stomach that eventually subsided.
There will be more temptations thrown my way over the next few week.

4 Dec: 5 miles recovery run, 43:29, 8:41 pace

Friday, December 02, 2005

Dark, Cold and Wet

The cold snap seems to have ended, the forecast for today is a balmy 7C/45F, but it’s still quite cold at 6 o’clock in the morning. Unfortunately, the clear sky has gone too and has been replaced by a blanket cover of clouds bringing heavy rain.
I got up just before 6 this morning (managing the intellectual feat of setting the alarm for the correct time for once) and, after one look out of the door, decided to ditch the long sleeves and wear a t-shirt with a rain cover on top, plus shorts rather than long tracksuit bottoms. For once I got that right, I was neither too hot nor too cold, just too wet.
I managed the 10 miles that I didn’t do 2 days ago. After 3 miles the legs were very heavy, as always after an hour of draining soccer the night before, but they felt better as the run wore on. I was a bit anxious about my headlamp because the light seemed to get dimmer and dimmer, but I think it was just the fact that the rain got heavier, because towards the end, when the rain eased a little, the lamp seemed to become brighter again.
I finally realised why there are no running clubs here in the vicinity of Killorglin, and why I always have to run on my own. I’m clearly the only idiot around who is stupid enough to do 10 miles in conditions like this at 6 o’clock in the morning.

Fair enough.

2 Dec: 10 miles, 1:23, 8:18 pace