Thursday, March 30, 2006


I found some photos from my finish at Connemara. They’re not the most flattering photos ever, and I had no idea I was looking so knackered. I couldn’t find any pictures showing me during the race, so those two will in all likelihood have to do.

The time on display is slightly off, most likely due to the way they start the marathon not at a fixed time but after the top ultra guys pass the marathon start. Not that a few seconds matter, especially as it's nowhere near my PR anyway.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


It is a wonderful feeling when the pain starts to get bearable.

On Monday, I was in pain.
On Tuesday, I was able to get in and out of a chair without groaning audibly.
Today, Wednesday, I am still a little bit stiff, but well recovered.

So far I’ve kept my resolve and haven’t been running. The fact that we had gale force winds and lots of rain, helped. We’ll see how long I can resist the twitching, but I guess I’ll hold out a bit longer. The weather forecast is ok for Friday. Maybe the weekend will see me back on the road.

Tragic News

I’ve heard that one runner called Frank Haines, from London, died in Connemara on Sunday. He was only 31. He was running the half, and collapsed on top of the Hell, 11 miles in. The medical services were there immediately and tried to revive him, but their efforts were in vain. I’m shocked about those news, and of course they put a dampener on the positive recollections I had from the weekend. I can’t understand how a (presumably) healthy person can die after only 11 miles. My condolences go to his friends and family (who were in Connemara at the time).

Monday, March 27, 2006

A Cold Day in Hell

First of all, apologies for the insanely long report. I had a lot to say.

I trained a lot for this marathon, more than ever before, and with 10 days to go I was very optimistic I was going to do really well. Unfortunately, disaster struck in form of a cold that I most likely picked up from Shea. I was feeling rather low for several days, and kind of recovered by Thursday – just 3 days before the marathon.
We (that’s me, Niamh and the kids) drove up to Galway on Friday evening. The drive took much longer than expected (the roads are crap – and busy) and didn’t get to our B&B until 10 pm, and then had a hard time putting the kids to sleep. I tried to take it easy on Saturday, and it worked out ok, but taking it easy has a rather relative meaning when you’re looking after 3 children all under the age of 5.

I got up early on Sunday, got ready and left for the bus. The transfer to Maam Cross (the hub of the marathon) was smooth, but as soon as I got off there and was looking forward to some breakfast, an announcement came that everyone participating in the Full marathon had to proceed to the busses and take a bus to the starting line. There are 3 different races, an ultra-marathon of 39.3 miles that goes in a big loop, a full marathon, where you are dropped off 13.1 miles into the ultra course, and a half, obviously starting another 13.1 miles later. The start time for the marathon isn’t exact, the field leaves as soon as the top ultra guys have passed. The same goes for the half, the start for that is as soon as the elite marathoners pass that point.
Well, the leading ultra guy soon passes our way (running 6:10 per mile average!!!) and off we go. I had been rather cold at the start line, and was deliberating what to wear. Eventually I settle on shorts and a t-shirt with a wind/rain jacket on top.

Half a mile into the race I know that this was not my day. I still feel the effects of the cold, I feel a bit light-headed and rather unsteady on my feet. Any ideas of doing 8:20 miles immediately go out of the window and I run in what is closer to recovery pace, about 8:50 to begin with. I keep that going until the first water stop, about 3 miles in, where I think about bailing out. If this were a training day, I would definitely bail, but it isn’t and I decide to plod on. I get a shock when I look at my heart rate monitor. Despite running so slowly, my heart rate is all the way up at 175. I cannot possibly run a marathon like this and decide to abandon any idea of running the course and start walking until the heart rate is back around a more bearable 155 before running again. This keeps happening a few times over the first 10 miles. I think of Rob, and how he once said an ultra is always run in the mind. I’m not running an ultra but decide to follow the advice – just put your mind to it, ignore the time, just keep going until the end. The course is gradually making its way past Connemara National Park, of which we don’t see much because of the very low clouds. I feel very hot under my jacket and curse myself for not running in a t-shirt. The course steadily climbs uphill, and from mile 7 to 8 it’s a much steeper climb (well, not that steep). At mile 10 we suddenly descend rather abruptly into what is Ireland’s only fjord. I start to feel a bit better at that point, and manage to run several miles without stopping, I also start overtaking people from this point on – until mile 10 I felt like running at the very back of the pack (though looking back a few times I see plenty of people behind me).

We pass the half way mark in a village called Leenane (my time so far is about 2:05 – by far the slowest I’ve ever passed the half way mark), and the course immediately begins a rather brutal climb of about one mile and a half, gaining over 70 meters of elevation in the process. This is where my training comes in handy. While just about everyone around me is walking, I manage to run the entire climb. At one stage, about half way through the climb, a painful spasm shoots through my left hamstring. I just about manage to avoid a cramp, and continue running. I fact, I speed up a little, to use the muscles in a different way (Bob Glover recommends that in his book). The other problem is the wind. From here on, for all the 12 miles until the finish we are running into a rather strong head wind. There is no cover anywhere, and all we can do is battle against it. From the highest point then the course gradually falls a few meters over the next few miles, and then there are rolling hills until mile 22 – but more of that later. I feel much better at this point. It feels like I had to suffer the first 10 miles by running that cold out of my system. Once I reached a certain point, the proper running could finally begin. I constantly overtake other runners. It’s not that I’m speeding up – I just manage to keep my pace constant while everyone around me is slowing down. The only people overtaking me along that stretch are about 5 or 6 ultra runners – that’s 2 women and a few guys, all of whom are going to finish in the top 10. I’m feeling good at that stage; it is by far the best stretch of the course for me. I have a few short conversations with a few runners as I pass them. “How’s it going?” “This is the life, eh” (this one nearly makes me laugh). I get a few compliments on how relaxed I’m looking, while everyone else seems dead on their feet. I don’t feel overly relaxed – the quads and calves are gradually getting heavier and heavier, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. I am doing really well until mile 22. If this were a normal marathon, I could try and match my time from Dublin 18 months ago, and make it my second best finish, but unfortunately, this is not a normal marathon. At mile 22, I reach the point everyone has been dreading all along. Welcome to the Hell of the West.

The Hell is a continuous climb of 1.8 miles. It is not particularly steep, and if it were at mile 1, everyone would say it’s tough but manageable. It’s not at mile 1 though. It’s after the 22-mile point. What makes it worse is that EVERYONE is walking it. I start running it, but looking up I hardly make any headway to the walkers in front of me. It’s soul-destroying work, and eventually, after what seems like running forever, I start walking too. I run/walk up the hill, still overtaking plenty of other people (that now also include the slow coaches from the half). After what seems an eternity, I finally reach the summit. It even provides a very nice view, though neither me nor anyone around me is in any way inclined to enjoy the moment – the climb took too much out of everyone. It’s also freezing cold. I estimate that on that Hell climb alone I lost about 7 minutes compared to what I would have run on a flat course. The next mile is downhill, but of course my quads are shot to bits at that stage and I can hardly pick up my knees – I don’t think I gain much time compared to what I would have done on the flat. Once we reach the valley it’s another mile of winding road towards the finish – it’s around the 25-mile marker that I get overtaken by the only two marathon runners since mile 10. Those guys have plenty of pace left – I wonder why they didn’t run faster on the first 25 miles. Never mind, I plod on and even have a little bit of a kick left in me for the last 0.2 miles after the 26 marker.

I reach the finishing line in 4:11:45. It’s nowhere near my personal best, and nowhere near what I know I can do, but on the day it was the best effort I could possibly do. I still had the effects of my illness in me, and it just wasn’t my day. But I know I am (relatively) strong. I ran the second half only two minutes slower than the first, despite the fact that it’s a much more demanding part of the course. I must have overtaken 100 people on the last 16 miles, and only got passed by 2 (plus the top ultra ones). I’m convinced that on a flat course I would have broken the 4-hour mark, despite the slow first 10 miles. I’m not disappointed, I feel rather pleased with the effort and the fact that I kept going despite feeling slightly ill. I always regarded this marathon not just as a race on its own, but as a further step in my development as a runner. If my HR monitor was correct, then my average heart rate was 167 – 88% of my max – that’s insane, and I don’t know if I can trust this reading. But even if it’s not correct, with the course and my after-effects, I rate this effort higher than the 3:55 I ran last October.

I’ll rest for at least one week – anyone who sees me on the road for the next 7 days had my permission to shoot me. I might even rest for another week after that. Then the preparations for Dublin 2006 start. No rest for the wicked, and Dublin doesn’t have the Hell.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Definitely Maybe

My self-imposed deadline of 72 hours before race start has expired, and am I feeling better and ready to run on Sunday? Err, probably. I’m definitely feeling better, the headache is gone, the coughing has mostly disappeared and the general feeling is much better. I did break my long period of non-activity last night to attend my usual Yoga class. We did a lot of standing asanas, and about half an hour into the class I started to feel dizzy, then the breathing when hay-wire, and when I started to see black spots in front of my eyes, I knew I was about 5 seconds away from fainting. I stopped whatever I was doing, drank a sip of water, calmed my breathing an immediately felt better. I was fine for the rest of the class.

Today I feel a distinct lack of energy, and I’m tired as hell, despite sleeping ok(ish) last night. Thanks a lot for all your well wishes and prayers, they are all gratefully received. We are definitely going to leave for Galway tomorrow, no matter if I feel ready for the marathon or not. I’ll take it easy on Saturday, and if I feel up to it on Sunday, I will run the marathon. But, to be honest, I’m pretty sure I will. Yvonne’s tale of how crap she felt before Chicago and then ran 3:30:15, is encouraging, and I found one story on RW where a guy ran a marathon with 101-degree fever (yes, he got seriously sick. But hey, he ran the whole thing). I haven’t got a temperature, so should be ok from a doctor’s point of view.

Today I’m stuffing myself with carbohydrates, both to counteract the lack of energy I’m experiencing, and to try and do some carbo-loading. I’m not very picky. So far I’ve had jam on toast (twice), some grapes, wheat cereal, a big lunch (including a scone packed with jam), an energy bar, a banana, and I’m about to attack another energy bar. And it’s only 3 o’clock. Plus plenty of sports drink. I don’t think a lack of carbs will be my problem.

I haven’t run a single step since last Friday. I hope that won’t affect my fitness.

The route in Connemara is full of hills. One guy in the forum reckons they add 10-20 minutes to your time. That seems a bit much, but judging from the profile, I would regard any time less than 4 hours as an achievement. I’ll try and shoot for something more ambitious, as long as I feel well enough. The first 9.5 miles are gradually uphill, then there’s a big downhill, a big climb, another down section, a few small ups and downs until mile 22 and then there’s the Hell of the West, more than 1.5 mile of climbing towards the highest point of the course. From then on you can roll towards the finishing line. I’ve run plenty of hills, but never on mile 23. I’ll let you know how it went.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Premature Celebrations

Thanks for all your well wishes, but when I said I was feeling better, I meant I was feeling a little bit better – but still not very well. I went to work on Monday, but that might have been a mistake, because in the evening I felt like poop, and went pretty much straight to bed. I got up at 8 to watch Manchester City in the FA Cup quarter final. I had high hopes for this game. We had been waiting 15 years to reach that stage in the competition, and it was clearly our special year. Well, 90 minutes later we lost 2:1, the cup is over for yet another year, it will probably take another 15 years to get that far and I was feeling suicidal.

Niamh slept with Cian in the guestroom, and I had the first uninterrupted night of sleep since, well, I can’t remember, and slept for 9 hours solid. I felt better (still not recovered), and decided to take the day off work. By now I’m worried. It’s only 5 days to the race, and if I’m not better with 48 hours, the marathon will be going ahead without me.

In the last 12 months, I've been sick three times: the week before I ran the Belfast marathon, one week after the 3-country marathon, and now one week before the Connemara marathon. Niamh says it's psychosomatic. I say it just sucks.

Two ibuprofens just made me feel a lot better, but that’s just covering up the symptoms, not curing it. Send good vibes into my general direction, maybe it will help.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Sickbay Update

Well, the good news is that I’m better. I’m still a bit unwell and there was never any doubt that today’s planned 7-mile run was going to be cancelled. However, I’m fine enough to go to work tomorrow, and I’m confident there won’t be any ill-effects for Sunday’s marathon.

The last week before the marathon was the one week where I had already planned to deviate from Pfitzinger’s schedule. If you have a look at the programme, he suggests running on four out of five days before the marathon, with a total of 22 miles. I did that before the Three-Country marathon in October, though I did cut the last two runs from 9 miles combined down to 5. Afterwards I felt that they were taking valuable energy away from me, without me gaining anything from them. I think that those runs were responsible for feeling like crap at mile 16. (was I hitting the wall? Probably.) As a result of that experience, I always planned to rest the final two days before the marathon, and have two short runs on the two days before that. Since my present state means a re-jiggling of plans, I’ll play it by ear. If I feel really well on Monday, I’ll have a short run on Tuesday, but more likely I’ll postpone that. I promise, I won’t even attempt a run if I’m not entirely well. I know that there is not much to gain from any run now, apart from fulfilling the urge to get out and run, and I won’t do anything stupid.

Oh, and Ireland beat the English at rugby on Sunday. In England. With a try just two minutes from the end. Sweet.

Friday, March 17, 2006

It's Official

I’m unwell. I don’t want to use the term sick, because I don’t feel that bad, but I’m certainly not in any condition to run a marathon at the moment. It’s a very good thing indeed that it’s still 9 days to go, that should leave me plenty of time to recover.

The day didn’t start too badly. It’s St. Patrick’s Day, which means I’m off work of course. Nana and Gaga are here, and provide some help with the children, leaving me with the possibility to take it easy during the day. I went for what was supposed to be a recovery run, but it didn’t work out that way. I was running way too fast. Every time I tried to put on the breaks and consciously slowed down to an acceptably low pace, the body took over once I let my mind wander again and speeded up again. I presume it’s down to me being full of energy from the taper.

However, once I got back home, I soon started to feel unwell. By lunchtime I felt really cold, and it stayed like that all day. I didn’t develop a temperature, but it sure felt like that was only a matter of time. I used the opportunity to lie in bed most day and read Run Strong, nearly from cover to cover, plus I had some peeks into Pfitzinger’s and Lydiard’s books. An hour ago I took some ibuprofen, and I feel much better now, which once again confirms this as my drug of choice (not entirely unusual for a runner, I presume). I don’ know how I’ll feel once the drugs wear off, of course. I’m hopeful a decent night’s sleep would cure me, but those are few and far between for me, thanks to my boys.

I’m very confident that I’ll be ok for the marathon, though, so don’t you all worry too much about me.

Good Luck to Rob in his insane quest.

17 Mar: 5 miles, 41:50, 8:22 pace

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The last interval workout

I did my last interval training before the marathon, and it was a tough one, 3x1600 with 2 minutes in-between. The beautiful spring weather we’ve had over the last two days had me completely fooled, and I didn’t even check the weather before leaving our house.

It was drizzling slightly, and it was quite cold. I kept going, but thought that I should have worn long sleeves instead of a t-shirt. I was right. The wind and the rain got stronger, and soon I felt pretty cold. However, once the intervals started, I forgot all about that. It was really tough. In fact, I seriously contemplated bailing out and going home towards the end of the first interval. Somehow I managed to get going, hoping that the other runs would feel easier. Well, the second one did, but it was my fault. When I checked my heart rate monitor about half the way, I realized that I was running too slowly, the HR was around 170 instead of 180 where it should have been. I upped the tempo, and eventually managed to finish the workout. This time there was no extra interval though; I was knackered.

I’m not feeling 100%; Shea had a temperature earlier this week, and I might have picked up something from him. I don’t have a temperature myself, but I don’t feel entirely on top. I get this every time before a marathon, the last 2 weeks before the race I am totally paranoid about any coughs and sneezes. In fact, before Belfast last year I actually spent two days in bed, just 5 days before the race, unable to eat and hardly able to sleep (no, I wasn’t at my best for the marathon). Understandably, after all that training I don’t want to get sick at the last minute.

But I’m just paranoid here. In 10 days I’ll be there at the starting line, healthy as a fish in water. Honestly.

16 Mar: 7 miles, 56:29, 8:04 pace (including 3x1600 [approx] intervals)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Getting Ready

Only 12 days to go and I’m already in the middle of the taper. When I went to bed early last night, Niamh and I had the following dialog:

Niamh: I thought you wouldn’t do any more long runs
Me: I don’t, it’s only 12 miles, and long runs are anything over 17 miles
Niamh: *roles eyes*
Me: You should listen to some of those ultra guys, they say long runs are anything above marathon distance
Me: But they’re nuts
Niamh: Yeah. Like you’re not.

Don’t worry; I know she loves me.

I had a lot of troubles with my shoelaces coming undone recently (I like to think it’s down to the laces material, not my lack of tie-lacing skills). I searched on the Internet, and while most people suggested a double knot, this guy suggests a completely new knot. I liked it and decided to give it a go. It’s like learning how to tie your laces all over again, and it was a bit weird the first time I tried it, but with a little bit of practise I got there, and I think this is the way I’ll tie my running shoes from now on.

The run today was excellent; I feel full of energy, which I presume is a result of the additional rest the taper so far has provided. I was really frustrated that yesterday was a rest day. On Sunday I was very much looking forward to the next run, and was slightly shocked when I realised that this week incorporates an extra rest day, but decided to stick to the program. Today I felt really good, and despite the fact that I didn’t particularly push the pace, I came back with a sub-8 mins/mile average time, which is quite unusual. I am well able to run under 8 mins/mile, but usually I have to push the pace. Today I was just cruising along at some decent speed, and was surprised at the end that I had been so fast. Not that I’m complaining. I just feel more confident about the marathon – better be careful, I don’t want to get cocky ;-)

14 Mar: 12 miles, 1:34, 7:50 pace

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Not a Racer

There was a 10k in Adare today, about 90 minutes drive from here. I was thinking about going, but decided yesterday not to bother. That’s the third race in a row I have missed voluntarily. There was a 10 miler in Mallow (90 mins drive) in January, a 5 miler near Cork (2 hrs drive) three weeks ago, and now the 10k today. I thought about this during my run today, and came to the decision that I simply don’t particularly like racing. Now that probably sounds strange, I am doing all this running and then I don’t want to race? Well, think about it that way. I ran for a good hour today, directly from home, which means that I was home again after that hour. If I had gone to the race, I would have had to drive 90 minutes each way, spend a good time there before and after the race, and with the race itself we are talking about 5 hours absence from home. That’s an additional 4 hours away from my family, and family time is very precious to me, especially on weekends. The only race I did this year was a 5k in Dublin, where we happened to be at the time, and I didn’t have to drive far. Bringing the family to the race isn’t an option as Niamh refuses to have three kids running around and with nobody to help her looking after them.

So, it looks like I won’t be doing much racing for the foreseeable future. I’m fine with that. The runs I have enjoyed the most this year so far were the two twenty milers in nice conditions, with the moon shining on the first one and the stars being so brilliant for the second one. Compare that with the race that I could have run today, a 10k after a lot of time in the car, and where I would have been lucky to finish something like 112th out of 250 racers.

Having said all that, I am still looking forward to the marathon. Marathons are different; they are the focus of my training, not some afterthought. Plus, Niamh and the kids are coming to Connemara with me and we’re making it a family weekend away.

Oh, and the run today was fine. I decided to run all the way up to the summit of the Devil’s Elbow. That’s a climb of about 200 meters and definitely counts as a tough hill workout. The last 2 minutes until the summit were not runnable, due to it being a very steep, stony and muddy trail. The view up there was breathtaking (it’s the one you can see in my header, but it looks much better in 3D), but the wind was rather cold and I didn’t stay there but turned back immediately to run back home. I felt full of energy when I rejoined the road and decided to run the last 2 miles at speed, probably close to 7 mins/mile. I don’t know how long the distance overall was, my guess would be 7.5 miles.

Finally, Good Luck to Jack, who is running his marathon as I write these words.

12 Mar: 7.5 miles (est.), 1:05, 8:40 pace (est.)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Eye of the Storm

My, doesn’t time fly. I can’t believe today was Intervals again! Actually, they have grown on me. The main reason for this is probably the fact that they are over so quickly, thus enabling me to get some much-needed sleep.

I woke at 5:50 (after only one interruption in the night – wahey!), and the weather out there was rather wild – I could hear the wind and the rain, and thought about skipping today’s workout. Then I remembered that I had already had a rest day yesterday, and I won’t be able to make up for it because I might run a race on Sunday, and I would feel guilty, and … and before I could think any more, I got up.

I actually got very lucky. When I left home it had nearly stopped raining and the wind had calmed down considerably, and I got my workout done in decent conditions. I was planning on 5x600s, which for me means running hard for 2:30 mins, and 90 seconds of recovery. When I ran the first interval, I checked the watch – oh dear, 2:40 gone already, I have done too much. Never mind. Then I did the second interval, eventually checked my watch and – 2:50 gone. Oops. I managed to do the third one to the correct time, but believe it or not, I again overshot my target on the fourth interval. After the fifth, and supposedly final one I once again didn’t feel tired enough and added a sixth one. You could argue that maybe I didn’t run the 5 planned intervals hard enough, but my heart rate was up there at 182, which is 96% of my max HR, so I’d say I ran them pretty hard. Maybe all the training has made me stronger - well, that’s ok by me.

I got back home, and by the time I left again for work the rain and the storm were back, and it’s been a miserable day all day. I really must have managed to get the only calm hour of the day to get my workout done. This should make up for Tuesday’s atrocious timing.

9 Mar: 6.5 miles, 55:23, 8:31 pace, including 6x600 (roughly) intervals

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

You spoke, I listened

I took your comments to heart and decided that sleep is more important than two extra miles at this time. Unfortunately they say that only fools make the same mistake twice, and I must be the biggest fool around, because I’ve now made the same mistake so often I’ve lost count. It should be easy enough to remember: If you want to get up early, go to be early. So why did I stay up until 10:30pm? I really don’t know.

It would have been ok if I didn’t have any kids. Unfortunately, they once more impeccably timed their non-sleeping habits to maximum effect. Cian came in at about 2 o’clock, Shea at about 3, and when Lola turned up 3:50, I carried Shea back into his own bed and let Lola in. Unfortunately, she kept me from sleeping, and I eventually tried to put her back into her own bed. After I had turned on her night-light, found a suitable giraffe to cuddle and made her a hot water bottle, the little princess graciously accepted her own bed. Alas, I couldn’t sleep after that, it took me until 4:50 to fall asleep again, and the alarm went of 15 minutes later.


To make matters worse, it was raining again. Met Eireann had forecast a wet night with the rain drying up towards the morning, but unfortunately the drying up hadn’t happened yet by the time I left for my run. I didn’t feel well, the legs felt heavy, and I felt like I was trundling along at snails-pace. It wasn’t until I got back to our driveway after 10 miles to get some water and a gel that I realised that I was actually going at a decent pace, about 8:20. I laboured on for the second part, and at 12 miles something funny happened, all of a sudden I clicked and started to run with a proper rhythm and without troubles. It was bit like Johnny describes it in his run, except that I didn’t have to run 25 miles to feel good, just half that distance. The rest of the run went well, and I got back home after 16 miles. As I was walking up our driveway to our house, it stopped raining. I kid you not.


On a completely unrelated note, last Friday a work colleague asked me when I would be doing my next marathon. “In 3 weeks”. “Oh, are you training yet?”.


6 Mar: 5 easy miles, 45:34, 9:06 pace
7 Mar: 16 miles, 2:13, 8:18 pace

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Run to the Hills

Three weeks to go until the marathon, and the taper is about to start. I’m pondering how long I should run on Tuesday. The schedule says 16 miles, but that was meant to be for a long run on Sunday, just 14 days before the marathon. As I do my long runs on Tuesdays, it means I have an extra 5 days from the workout to the race. I might therefore do 18 miles instead, but I’ll decide on Monday. Unfortunately I can’t decide during the run, because I have to know in advance how long I’m going to run, otherwise I won’t return back home in time to go to work. I guess that’s the disadvantage of running your runs in the morning, but I can take that.

The snow didn't last the day. It was still cold yesterday morning, but it meant we were left with the icy road conditions, and sans snow. Today it's warmer again.

I did a hill run today; there is a road around the peak of the Devil’s Elbow, which includes a climb from 15m to about 150m elevation in about one (brutal) mile. It is a challenge to run it all without a walking break, but I managed it today, tempted as I was to stop running at the steepest parts. The heart rate shot up to 181, which is in my VO2max zone, though I didn’t really look to have such a workout. On the road back home, at about 6.5 miles, I went up another hill, just as steep but about half as high. This one isn’t ideal, because it leads to a dead-end and I had to run down the same road again, and it’s too steep to run down comfortably.

I got caught in the rain again and got competely soaked on the last 3 miles. I felt a bit of hail as well, but that didn't last more than a minute.

I guess the whole run was just over 9 miles. The road around the Devil’s Elbow is 8.7 miles, and let’s say the second climb, including the way back down, added another half mile for a 9.2 miles workout. The exact distance doesn’t really matter, it’s the effort that counts.

3 March: 6 easy miles, 55:02, 9:10 pace
5 March: 9.2 hilly miles, 1:17, 8:22 pace

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Intervals in a Winter Wonderland

Plenty of people here in Ireland insist that spring begins on 1 March. Unfortunately, nobody told the weather God, and she dumped a load of snow onto us in the last two days. Well, when I said a load, I meant enough to cover the area in white. This might not impress the majority of you, but it is a reasonably rare event in Kerry. Usually when it’s cold enough for snow the sky is clear, and when the clouds appear, it warms up enough for the would-be snow to turn into rain (and haven’t I experienced it often enough!). The kids loved the winter scene, of course, but it made for treacherous running conditions, especially this morning when I was running over a lot of icy patches. There was one short-but-steep climb, which I took three times, and each time started slipping, but never enough to knock me off balance. It was also cold enough to put on two layers, and in contrast to Tuesday today I was happy enough with that.

It was interval time again, 4x1200, which I translated into 5:10 minutes of hard running and 2 minutes recovery in-between. I could have shortened the running to 5 minutes, which would have made figuring out the breaks a tad easier, but that would have felt like cheating.

Unfortunately, my legs felt dead. This could be a result of Tuesday’s 20-miler, or of last night’s Yoga session, where I once more got a cramp in my right calf. This is happening far too often, and I don’t know why.

Whatever the cause, after finishing my fourth repetition I was close to collapsing, and could not wait to get home again. Now, a few hours later, I have a nagging feeling that I should have run them a bit faster, because my heart rate didn’t go as high as I would have expected during the first two runs.

Well, it’s too late to change now, and I can vouch for the fact that I ran hard enough to feel very tired immediately after the effort.

The weather is supposed to remain cold for a few more days. Let’s hope the roads will be less treacherous though.

2 Mar: 7.5 miles, 1:06, 8:48 pace, including 4x1200 intervals