Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Long and Rewarding

To be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to today’s run. 20 miles seems an awfully long way to run, and if you have to get up at 4:30 in the morning, it's even worse.

The original plan was to be in bed by 9. Unfortunately, I had troubles with my computer, and instead of leaving it until another day, I spent all evening fixing things. By the time I finally stopped and went to bed it as 10:30, and I had only 6 hours of sleep until I had to get up again. This is not taking into account my 2 sons who have an unerring knack of being difficult sleepers on the most inconvenient nights. Cian had fallen asleep at 7pm, and by 3:30 he was wide awake and demanding attention. Shea had got cold in his bed (no wonder, he keeps kicking off his blanket), and joined us, too. I tried a lot of things, but the unchangeable fact is that I didn’t manage a single second of sleep after that. When I got up, apart from getting ready myself, I had to get Shea some cereal, convince him to go back into his own bed, do it again 2 minutes later when he said he’d had a bad dream, make a bottle for Cian and find Lola’s teddy who had fallen out of bed.

It was well after 5am by the time I finally left. The sky was spectacular though. There was not a cloud in sight, and a million stars were visible above. It was very cold, but I could manage that – two layers at the top and running pants made for ideal running apparel. The night was totally quiet, and I really loved it. I ran slower than usual. Mindful of the niggling injuries I’m still nursing and aware of the awfully long road ahead of me, I ran at a very conservative tempo. I usually run my long runs at a slightly faster pace than recommended by most coaches. That may well be a contributing factor to my ever-growing injury list. Therefore I kept on the brakes and tried to run the entire distance at 9:00 pace. This worked a treat, my times for each 5 mile segment were 44-45-46-45, a nearly perfectly balanced pace. I had a gel after 10 miles, and another at 15, and felt fine all along. The left quad hurt a bit, but got better as the run went on, the right achilles was much better, though still not entirely recovered.

It may sound preposterous, but I really enjoyed the run. Niamh didn’t believe me (“how can anyone enjoy getting up at 4:30 and running 20 miles in the cold and dark!”), but I swear it was great. To be honest, I’m also proud of the fact that I’m capable of running 20 miles before breakfast, and still put in a normal work day afterwards.

I’ll catch up on some sleep tonight. I might do a short recovery run tomorrow, I’ll decide in the morning.

31 Jan; 20 miles, 3:00, 9:00 pace

Sunday, January 29, 2006

New Shoes make Hard Work

I finally had the chance to try out my new pair of runners. At first I thought they were too big. After half a mile I thought they were too small. Then the right one seemed to fit, but the left one felt totally wrong. Then the toes on my left foot went numb (well, it was a very cold day). Then the toes on my right foot followed suit. Eventually, I felt better, but the shoes were never comfortable. I’m sure they will feel better after a while, but I guess my quest for the perfect pair of shoes has not yet come to an end.

I did 8 miles, and initially I felt I was crawling along at snail’s pace. When I reach the turnaround point and checked my time I realised that I was nearly doing 8-minute miles. Funny, I have no idea why I felt I was so slow. Maybe it was the shoes, who knows.

The achilles didn’t bother me, but I have a new pain, this time in my left quads. It’s definitely not the same problem I had a few weeks ago with my hamstring. It is a nagging pain in the front of my left upper leg, about 5 inches above the knee. It is quite painful when I start my run, but seems to get better after a while. I’ve felt some pain in that area for two weeks or so, and it seems to be getting worse rather than better. I can still feel it now, 10 hours after the run. I seem to collect running injuries at a rather alarming rate. This one is definitely not going to stop me from running. Injuries like that disappear after a while. Right? Right?

Anyway, this week I’ll have another go at 20 miles, most likely on Tuesday because the weather forecast for the second part of the week is pretty bad, and I have already covered more miles in rain than I care to even think about.

29 Jan: 8 miles, 1:05, 8:07 pace

Friday, January 27, 2006


I’m 36 today, and what better way to celebrate your birthday than to get up at 5:15am and run 15 miles? Actually, I was woken up at 4:45 by Lola. She’d had a “bad dream” and wanted to sleep in our bed. For the next 30 minutes she was tossing and turning, kicking and hugging me, shoving Teddy into my face, telling me about the toys her friend Molly had in her room, and generally making it absolutely impossible for me to get back to sleep. I was actually relieved when the clock showed 5:15, because it meant I had a reason to get up rather than fruitlessly trying to get some more sleep. I had gone to bed at 9:15 in the evening, so I was well rested by that time anyway.

The rest of Europe is shaken by a very nasty cold snap at the moment, but in Ireland we’re getting off lightly. It is a good bit colder than usual, alright, but no worse than –3C/26F or so. Still, I was glad for the long sleeves and gloves. I was in my shorts, but long pants might have been acceptable today. When I stopped at our driveway after 10 miles for a drink and a gel, I was steaming like an old steam engine - it looked quite funny in my headlamp. Never mind, the 15 miles went by fine. I was a bit more tired than I should have been, whether I was still tired from the intervals two days ago or from the fact that I have cut down my mileage over the last two weeks, I can’t tell. The achilles tendon is not as well recovered as I had hoped, because it is quite sore again. I’m still convinced that I’m on the mend, just not as well recovered as I had thought I am. There is yet another 20 miler on next week’s schedule, which sounds a bit taunting at the moment, but I’m sure I will be fine by the time it comes by (Tuesday or Thursday, I’m not yet sure).

I’ve just realised that it is less than two months to the marathon, and I’m starting to get those butterflies in my stomach whenever I think about it. I haven’t decided what time to aim for. It is a tough course, much more demanding than the 3-country-marathon I did in October, and a PR would be a great achievement. I guess I will have to wait and see how the training goes. If I can stay relatively injury free from now until March, I should be in good shape. Otherwise, well, I’ll still run it and hope for the best.

Jan 27: 15 miles, 2:07, 8:28 pace

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Healing Powers

I thought I did something very stupid on Monday. Not only did I go out for a 5 mile run in the morning, I also played soccer for an hour in the evening. I wanted to know if my Achilles would be able to withstand the twist and turns of an indoor soccer game. The answer was: yes, but it hurt! To add to the pain, I got a nasty whack on my right ankle, and now have a gash on my leg to prove it, and on Tuesday I found it impossible to tell where one pain ended and the next one started. Then, in the evening, I suddenly felt much better. Not only did the ankle feel better, my Achilles was basically pain free as well. I can’t tell what brought on that improvement: time, the strengthening exercises I found on this website, or the magical healing powers of soccer.

To celebrate my new fit state, I went out for a speed session this morning (well, it was in the schedule anyway). The plan was 5x600 intervals with 90 seconds of recovery in-between. Since I don’t have access to a track, I had to improvise. My 5k-time is 21:22, so it should take me about 2:30 mins to cover 600 meters at that pace. I ran along a reasonable flat piece of road, along the Devil’s elbow, and did 2:30 minutes of hard running interlaced with 90 seconds of jogging. The temperatures have plummeted again and it was about –3C/26F in the morning, and I stupidly left my gloves behind. Despite this, the workout went well, and my Achilles stood up to it just fine. I could feel it, but it didn’t actually hurt. More importantly, it’s still not hurting 2 hours later, because in the last two or three weeks I could usually do a workout but would feel the pain later.

I’m now convinced that I’m on the mend, but will still take it easy for a week or so. I will do my key workouts, but have a full rest day after each one, which means I’ll only do 3 or 4 days of running per week, until I feel completely healed.

23 Jan: 5 easy miles, 45:23, 9:04 pace, and an hour of soccer for my sins
25 Jan: 6 miles, 51:03, with 5x600 intervals

Sunday, January 22, 2006

What to do?

I’m still struggling with my achilles tendon at the moment. It doesn’t actually hurt, but I can certainly feel that something is not quite right, and I’m really unsure on the best way to proceed. I have only run 27 miles this week, which isn’t enough as far as marathon preparation goes, but of course I don’t want to risk a ruptured tendon – that might put me out for the rest of the year, and might never heal completely. I’m icing it a lot these days, and I’m stretching after each run (then again, there are people who advice against those things), and if the pain returns, I will rest again. It is still a bit swollen.

It’s only the right achilles that’s causing me troubles. That doesn’t come as a surprise to me. When I had shin splints last year, they were on my right leg. I got some mild heel spurs (plantar fasciitis) a few months ago, on my right foot. When my legs started cramping during my first marathon, Dublin 2004, it was in the right calf. Several years ago a doctor found some imbalance in my spine, and I had some bone-crunching session with a chiropractor to deal with them. Either those problems are back, or there is something wrong with my running form, or a bit of both. A good doctor might even find a solution to my ongoing troubles, but that’s one of the problems of living in remote Kerry far away from any city centre. Such specialists are very hard to come by – I for one don’t know any, and driving to Dublin on a regular basis is not a realistic option.

This week and the next are cutback weeks in the schedule anyway, so I don’t feel I’ll miss out on much if I drop a few miles of those, as long as I can still get in my key workouts. Thursday’s run was a special one, 15 miles with 12 miles at marathon pace. I’m not sure what my marathon pace should be, and anyway, I couldn’t read the figures on my HR monitor in the dark, so I just went by effort, and tried to keep the pace steady. I was quite pleased at the end to have run the 15 miles in exactly 2 hours, and that includes a drink stop after 9 miles and three time re-tying my shoes in the first 2 miles (I should have paid more attention on how to tie your laces in kindergarten 32 years ago). The fact that I had rested for 3 days before that run probably helped my pace. I still think it’s preposterous to assume that I might be able to keep an 8:00 pace for a whole marathon though, and I still don’t know what time I should be aiming for. 3:30 is 27 minutes off my PR, and definitely looks out of my reach for the time being. Anyway, the achilles didn’t trouble me unduly during the run, but was sore for the rest of the day, which is why I took Saturday off and only ran 6 miles on Sunday.

That on-off schedule will stay with me for at least one more week, I expect.

20 Jan: 15 miles, 2:00, 8:00 pace
22 Jan: 6 miles, 48:53, 8:08 pace

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Back on Track

I’ve not written a blog entry for the week because I haven’t been running. I decided to give my achilles a bit of a break, because I don’t want to aggravate it, and a ruptured tendon is just too nasty to risk.

I had three days without running. Unfortunately this didn’t translate into more sleep, as the boys were up at 6 am every single morning, and with fixing them breakfast, turning on the telly or putting on a video, changing a nappy or just generally looking after them, I didn’t get an ounce of sleep after that. Unfortunately, mummy is not a morning person, and the kids have learnt that lesson very early in their lives – they always come straight to daddy.

I iced my achilles tendon on Monday, and it seemed to swell up like a balloon – I could hardly make out my ankle any more. That said, the pain has gone away, and I decided to test the waters this morning and ran 6 miles at a relaxed tempo. It was a bit too fast to be called a recovery run, but it was at a relaxed and easy pace. The achilles was fine (I felt it, but it didn’t actually hurt), but at mile 5.5 I felt a sharp pain in my right knee. I had to stop running and walked for a minute, then it was gone and I could continue all the way back home without trouble. I don't know what it was, but I sure hope it’s not the first sign of yet another injury.

I had another Yoga class on Wednesday, and that was when I was sure my achilles was better. Last week it was very sore on some of the stretches, but yesterday I was fine all the way through. That said, I will be careful and might cut back on some of the runs if I think there’s something wrong with me.

I will also apply my usual cure for niggling injuries: a new pair of runners. My two active pairs have 260 and 360 miles on them. That’s not excessive, but it’s time for a new pair. In the past, this has usually cured any small problems I might have had with my legs.

19 Jan: 6 easy miles, 53:27, 8:54 pace

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Wounded Knee

First of all, I’ll try and keep my running report short. I’ve noticed that recently I’ve been rambling on in far too much detail about my training runs.

I have been contemplating one thing since my 5k race two weeks ago. If I enter my 5k-race time into one of those race predictor calculators, my marathon time should be between 3:24 and 3:27, depending on which calculator you’re using. That is more than 30 minutes better than my actual marathon PR. I certainly cannot imagine running faster than 8:00 pace for a whole marathon. I guess I’ll have to work more on my endurance.

I had planned an 11 miler with 6 miles at LT tempo for Saturday, but on Friday evening I happened to feel both my achilles heels and noticed that the right one was much thicker than the left one. I didn’t feel any pain, but the swelling was obvious, so I decided to swap Saturday and Sunday around and do the tempo run on Sunday instead. I did follow that revised plan, and ran the 11 miles at good pace, though somehow I felt really slow at times. The strong headwind for the first 5.5 miles didn’t help – and when I had the wind in my back for the back section of the run, I started to feel really cold. I was shivering when I got home, and even a long hot shower didn’t quite revive me. I was worried about coming down with a cold, but I didn’t develop a temperature, just a headache that doesn’t want to go away.

Just to gross you out, this is a cut I received on mile 2, from some plant at the side of the road. I didn’t even notice it until I got home. Don't worry, it's only superficial.

This has been a very long week, 54 miles, which means I’ve equalled my previous highest mileage (not quite coincidentally, as I’m following the same plan as last time round). I got caught by wind and rain on every single run, which probably didn’t help.

I had planned a 6 miles recovery run for tomorrow, but as my achilles is swollen again (it hurt after the run, but gradually got better as the day wore on) and the head ache is not going away, I’ll pass and have a rest day instead. If I feel better later this week, I’ll make up for it, if I don’t, I won’t.

15 Jan: 11 miles, 1:27, 7:54 pace

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Blowing in the Wind

Thanks for all your comments, folks. The majority seems to think that I’m not completely bonkers but about as sane as the rest of you. Hmm. Ok.

I keep having issues with my legs. My left hamstring seems to have finally recovered, but now my right achilles is acting up. I spent all day Tuesday and Wednesday worrying about it, because it was really sore, I could hardly walk. I didn’t know if I should have some rest, because tendonitis is just about the last thing I want to get. Luckily, when I got up this morning I immediately noticed a big improvement. Running today made it slightly worse again, but the pain is much less then yesterday, and I’m coming round to the idea that it was only a passing problem.

I’m not having much luck with the weather at the moment. Tuesday’s 20-miler was run in rather wet and windy conditions, yesterday’s rest day was a beautifully sunny day, and for today’s 12 miler the gale force winds predicted for Tuesday finally arrived. I ran most of it at the foot of a hill called the Devil’s elbow, as well as in the wood towards Ard na Sidhe, where it was somewhat sheltered, but it was still bad enough. To make things worse, the blister that I thought I had avoided on Tuesday came back with a vengeance. I already felt it after one mile, and at the end of the run it was huge. I can’t really complain too much about my feet. This is only my second blister in a year, and I have covered a lot of miles with soggy feet.

All in all, today’s run went fine, considering the conditions and the fact that I’m still a bit fatigued from Tuesday. The heart rate was a bit higher than normal, which I presume is because I’m still recovering. The calves and hamstrings felt fine.

I’ve also got another Caragh Lake photo for you. This is me with the twins in the garden of the plush Ard na Sidhe hotel. We never stayed there (couldn’t afford to), but they don’t mind us strolling around in their vast and stunningly beautiful garden along the lake. Unfortunately, it didn’t look quite as inviting today at 6am in the morning.

12 Jan: 12 miles, 1:41, 8:25 pace

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Why do I do it?

It’s on days like this that I have to question my sanity. I got up at 4:30 am (that wasn’t too difficult, I went to bed shortly after 9 and therefore still managed over 7 hours of sleep). The weather forecast had predicted rain and, starting early morning, gale force winds. Luckily, they wind wasn’t quite as bad as predicted, but it didn’t exactly make for ideal conditions. My left hamstring was still a bit sore, but it is definitely getting better. As soon as I started out, my right Achilles was rather painful. I hoped it would be just one of those niggly things that go away after 10 minutes, but that turned out not to be the case.
The strong wind made the Caragh Lake road a no-go area, so I settled on four 5-mile loops to Ard na Sidhe and back. I hoped the elves might help me if I broke down on the run (Ard na Sidhe is Gaelic for “Circle of Elves”). I left out 2 gels at the end of our driveway, together with some water and an energy bar, should I need it. My feet got totally wet, especially as I managed to step right into a puddle early on. At 8 miles I thought I felt a blister developing on my right foot, so I went back home after the second loop to change into dry socks, and also put on a new t-shirt, because the other one was already soaked through, despite me wearing a wind jacket, which, by the way, made me uncomfortably hot. I took the second gel after 15 miles, and headed out again for my last loop. To be honest, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but I sure was glad when I finally made it back home.
As I lay on the kitchen floor, Niamh went by and started “well, …” I went “don’t say it!”. “Ok”.
To recapitulate: I got up in the middle of the night; ran 20 miles in complete darkness; two days after a tempo run; five days after an 18-miler; in the rain; in the wind; feeling too hot under the wind jacket; with a dodgy hamstring; with a painful Achilles, that hurt more and more as the run went on; with what could have been a blister.

Yes, it’s on days like this that I have to question my sanity.

9 Jan: 5 miles recovery run, 46:41, 9:20 pace
10 Jan: 20 miles, 2:56, 8:42 pace

Sunday, January 08, 2006

No Show

I had intended to run a 10-mile race in Mallow today. However, when I got up in the morning, all kinds of doubts came into my head. I didn’t want to abandon Niamh for half the day with three unruly children; I had run a 5k race only 7 days ago; my hamstring was still hurting and I didn’t want to aggravate it; I didn’t fancy the drive; I intended not to run all-out, but didn’t trust myself to stick to that. In short, I decided not to go, but do a proper tempo run along Caragh Lake instead.

It was quite late when I finally managed to get out of the door. First I waited until Niamh got up (and cleaned the kitchen in the meantime), then she wanted to take a long bath (I did the washing in the meantime), then the kids needed my attention … by then it was 11:30, and I knew if I wouldn’t leave right away, I wouldn’t go at all, so out I went. I ran 2 easy warm-up miles, and then did a 5-mile run at LT pace. It was hard going at first, but as always became a bit easier once I got into it. I had to push it again in the last mile, but managed to hold on. My 5 mile time was 36:30, which is almost definitely the fastest I have ever run over that distance, but as I have never raced 5 miles, I won’t call it a PR. At that stage I was 5 miles away from our house and decided to do the last 5 miles home at a more relaxed pace.

I’m glad I didn’t run the race now, because if I had tried to keep my 5 miles pace for another 5 miles, I would definitely have been extremely knackered, and seeing as I have a 54 miles week ahead of me, with a 20 miler on Tuesday, it probably is better that way.

8 Jan, 12 miles, 1:36, 8:00 pace, with 5 miles tempo run at 7:18 pace

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Spark in the Dark

I did the 18 miler that I had originally scheduled for Tuesday, and it went pretty well. My hamstring felt a lot better, though I still had the odd twinge, and the feeling that “something” wasn’t 100% right was always there, but it didn’t really trouble me. I take that as confirmation that the pains I felt on Tuesday were indeed caused by sitting in the car for 5 hours on Monday.
Getting up was easy, because Shea woke me at 4:38 because he was scared in his bed. That’s the same issue at the same time of night every single morning since we have come back from Dublin.

I originally intended to run 11 miles along Caragh Lake and then a 7 mile loop towards Killorglin, but it was very windy, and to make things worse, the wind came in from the East, which means that I, on the exposed western shore of the lake, felt the full force. After struggling against the elements for 4 miles I gave up and turned back. After I passed my driveway, I did two 5-mile loops from our house to Ard na Sidhe and back, which is running through a little wood and therefore much more sheltered from the wind. It was indeed much more pleasant to run there than along the lake, but the fact that by now it had stopped raining certainly helped. It was very tranquil, apart from an animal making some sudden noises as I ran past on a few occasions, but I presume they got more of a fright than I did. It can be quite spooky to run in a forest in the middle of the night with just a little bit of light from a headlamp. It looks a bit like those scenes in a horror movie when a doomed character is running away from the monster, just before they are caught. (not that I want to scare you ;-) )

The hamstring is a little sore now, and I will take it easy over the next days. There is a 10 mile race in Mallow on Sunday, about an hours drive from here. I’ve been uncertain if I should run it, so close after the 5k last week, but I think I might do it. I will not race but will treat it as a 10 mile tempo run.

5 Jan: 18 miles, 2:33, 8:30 pace

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Back Home

The most important thing first: Shea is absolutely fine. He now proudly tells everyone how he fell down the stairs, and Lola points out every time that it was she who saved him. I guess the story alone will keep them happy for a while.

As for my running, we are back in Kerry, and I’ve managed to run every day of the New Year so far – no, that’s not really impressive on 3 Jan, I know. I did 8 miles yesterday in Dublin before we left. I expected to be a bit sore from the race, but no, I didn’t feel any soreness at all. The problem started later during the day, when my left hamstring started hurting while sitting in the car. 5 people in one car make for cramped conditions, and I could feel the hamstring getting more and more uncomfortable. I had toyed with the idea of running 18 miles this morning, but decided against it. I regretted this decision early today, because the boys woke me at 4:45, the time I would have gotten up for that run, and kept me from falling asleep for the next hour (our boys are impossible to sleep beside, they constantly wriggle around), and putting them back into their own beds didn’t work either. I eventually got up at 5:50 and went for an 11-mile run, finally back alongside Caragh Lake. My hamstring hurt all the way, never enough to stop me from running, but there was a pain there for the whole way. I’m sure it’s the car journey that made it worse, and I hope it will get better over the next days and weeks again. Anyway, I was glad that I hadn’t gone for the 18-miler, because I certainly would not have fancied another 7 miles on my dodgy hamstring.

Oh, and I found a decent photo of Caragh Lake on the internet. The road you can see on the right hand side is the one I was running on this morning, though it was a lot darker at 6 am, obviously. That part is about 2.5 miles away from our house. The photo is taken from a helicopter over the northern side looking southwards, on what must have been a quite windy day.

2 Jan: 8 miles, 1:07, 8:22 pace
3 Jan: 11 miles, 1:33, 8:27 pace

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Race and Accident Report

I had an eventful morning when preparing for the race. I had to stop Cian, our 2 year old, from playing with his toothpaste in the downstairs bathroom, then with the adult toothpaste upstairs, the I just about managed to stop him from raiding Nana’s jam jars, and when he nearly fell off a table, I asked Niamh to get up and help me with that unruly toddler. All that happened between 9 and 10 am, which was when I tried to eat my breakfast and gather all the things I needed for the race. As a result of this I left the house a little bit later than planned, but still in good time. I managed to find the start in Phoenix Park, which wasn’t entirely straightforward, because I am quite unfamiliar with that part of Dublin.

The conditions for the race weren’t too bad, but a bit windy. The course is nearly totally flat, and we had to run 2 laps, the second lap being a bit shorter than the first one. There was one final insult at the registration: at the obviously well advanced age of 35, I am no longer classed as a Senior, but a Veteran. Who would have thought.

I started out at what I guessed was my 5k speed, and immediately noticed that it was faster than everyone around me. I guess that means that I should have started further ahead, but it wasn’t crowded and I didn’t have to weave in and out of the crowds to overtake. At the 1-mile marker I checked my time and heart rate, 6:53 and 179 respectively. I was pleased with both. On the second mile I started to feel tired, but I tried to keep going at the same speed, and I was still overtaking quite a few of the other runners. There was an older runner, maybe in his 50s or early 60s, lets call him Pop, which I managed to pass at that stage. I definitely thought I slowed down towards the end of that mile, but when the 2-mile marker came, my time was now 13:30, or a 6:37 split for the second mile. I cannot rule out that the mile markers were a bit off, of course. At that stage, a group of 4 runners which I had passed half a mile earlier, overtook me, but I did manage to keep right behind them. I was definitely knackered by now, my heart rate was 186 which is my max HR, and I knew I had to fight to keep up the speed for a decent finish. Then, with what I thought was a quarter mile before the finish, I started a surge (Bob Glover would have been proud of me), overtook that group again, and put a fairly big gap between them and myself. I got a surprise when I checked my heart rate, 187. In all my big training efforts on the hills I never managed to go over 186, so I really must have given everything I had. I also realised that I had badly underestimated the distance to the finish when I started my surge, because it must have been at least half a mile before the end. Then I heard footsteps behind me coming closer, turned around and was surprised to see Pop coming closer and closer and actually trying to overtake me. Well, I was about to find out if I had one more push in me and accelerated again. My heart rate was now 188, which I really had not thought possible. I was breathing so loudly that some people on the side were giving me funny looks, not that I cared. I just gave it all I got and passed the finishing line in 21:22, which is a personal best by 38 seconds, but then I had never run an all-out 5k race before, so a new PR was always on the cards. When I was able to breath again, I turned to Pop and told him, “that was your fault, you made me run so fast”, to which he replied, “well, you dragged me along”, and we shook hands.

I was quite pleased with myself and my effort, I couldn’t possibly have run any faster. My average heart rate on the race was 181. I hadn’t done any real speedwork in the last few months and I had always assumed my max HR was 186, which I now know was wrong.

However, when I rang home to tell Niamh about everything, she told me that Shea, our 4-year old son, had tumbled head over heels all the way down the stairs, and had only been prevented from smacking into the wall by the fact that Lola, his twin sister, just happened to stand right there. He smashed into her instead, which broke his fall, and which may have prevented any serious injury, though Lola was extremely offended by the fact that everyone fussed over Shea and nearly ignored her.

Now, six hours later, Shea seems to be ok again. We are keeping a close eye on him, if he starts vomiting or gets dizzy, we have to bring him straight into A&E, but he is enjoying all his latest videos, had lunch, and seems to be in good form.

Thank Goodness for that, and it certainly puts the race into perspective.

29 Dec: 8 miles, very hilly
1 Jan: 6 miles, including 5k race at 21:22, 6:53 pace