Sunday, July 30, 2006

Slow Down!

Maybe it would have been all different if I had read Mike’s advice before Friday’s long run. Run as slowly as you want, he said, and reward yourself with a few relaxed miles. Unfortunately, I didn’t read those wise words until after I had already completed my 20 miles. My 5-mile splits were (roughly) 40-41-40-45. If you got the impression that I had a hard time on the last loop, you’d be absolutely correct. On the positive side, the temperatures were very moderate and well suited to running. On the negative side, it was raining for all of the 20 miles, just slightly at the beginning, heavily in the middle, and easing up but never stopping towards the end. I was tempted to change socks and shoes half way through, but decided there was no point to it. Within 10 minutes I would have been just as soaked again. After 16 miles, a little devil appeared on my shoulder and whispered into my ear “you’re just 1 mile away from home, if you turn around now, you’ve still got 17 miles, and that’s a lot, isn’t it?” Luckily, a little angel sat on the other shoulder and said “you got up at 4:40 in the morning. If you cut your run short, you have sacrificed an extra 25 minutes of sleep for nothing” That was the clinching argument, and I continued on, as weary as I felt. Was I glad when I finally made it home!

Saturday was rest day, and normally I spend my rest days working in the garden, which usually ends up with me collapsing into bed in the evening due to exhaustion. Luckily it was a rainy day (hurray for rainy weekends!), which meant I spent all day reading and watching telly, as well as having a nap in the afternoon. As a result, I was well rested for today’s tempo run. 2.5 miles warm-up, 5 miles at tempo pace, and 2.5 miles cool-down went all very well, considering the mileage I did during the week. 5 miles of tempo is quite long and I was hanging on towards the end, but managed to finish in decent shape. I also saw another runner on the road, always a welcome sign, but all too rare. I don’t think it was a local though, most likely a tourist on vacation (he certainly chose a nice spot for his run). I wore my pair of Nimbus runners again, and I think we’re slowly getting used to each other.

The kids have been reasonably well behaved recently, so it was only a matter of time until the next …. incident. The boys were having a “tea-party”, which, for some reason, seemed to require a huge amount of water being poured all over their bedroom floor. Thank goodness Lola snitched on them before they could cause any lasting damage, but we still weren’t too pleased. Shea ended up on the naughty spot, but I suspect the ringleader was a certain 2-year old.

Weekly mileage: 68 miles.

28 Jul: 20 miles, 2:46, 8:18 pace
30 Jul: 10 miles, 1:17, 7:42 pace with 5 miles at 7:07 pace

Thursday, July 27, 2006

That feeling again

It’s Thursday evening, and I’ve got the usual Thursday evening feeling of dread coming up. Somehow I’m not looking forward to tomorrow’s 20-miler. 20 miles just seems such a long distance, and after running 38 miles in the last 4 days, the legs are a bit weary before I’ve even started my long run.

Jeez, would everyone, including me, stop whinging please. Half of the running blogs I’m reading seem to be full of whinging these days: no mojo, no motivation, too hot, too much pain, too many pounds … Let’s try and remember that we’re in this mostly for fun, and stop all that complaining. I’ll try and fall in line, too.

As for the ultra, I won’t be wasting too much thought on that just yet. No, I don’t know how to train for this. Hal Higdon has a training schedule for a 54-mile ultra, and I’ll get some pointers from that, but I won’t be following the schedule as such. Anyway, I’ve got to run the Dublin marathon first, where I intend to cut a significant chunk off my PR; thus I’m still focusing on the marathon training, and any thoughts of more will be put to the back of my mind for the next 3 months.

Wednesday’s 12 miles went without a hitch, so much so that I haven’t got anything to write about them. All I put into my log was “fine”. Today’s run was a sign that the training is stepping up yet another notch in intensity. Thursdays were always days for a recovery run, together with Tuesday. Not so this week, the easy recovery run has been replaced by an 8-miler with 10x100 strides. I duly followed the schedule, but for some reason I also went out without breakfast, which I’ve never done before for a run longer than 5 miles. I duly felt rather low on energy all the way, though I did manage just fine. After the turnaround point at 4 miles it was time to start the strides. Did I feel like doing them? No, definitely not. Did I do them anyway? Of course I did, and guess what: they weren’t as bad as feared, once I got underway, just like always.

I forgot to mention in my last post, I did wear the disgraced Nimbuses again on Tuesday for the 5 mile recovery run, and this time they felt ok, and my blister from Sunday/Monday is already gone. Maybe we’ll get to love each other after all, eventually.

26 Jul: 12 miles, 1:36, 8:00 pace
27 Jul: 8 miles, 1:06, 8:15 pace, including 10x100 strides

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Various Ups and Downs

Andrew tagged me, but I’ve been tagged before. If you still want to know what rocks my world, you can look it up here.

I got a slight shock when I checked my blog this morning and it was turned into gibberish. After regaining my composure I saw that my template was basically gone. I had tried to edit it yesterday, but when I pressed the save button, blogger disconnected on me. I didn’t think much of it, and certainly didn’t expect my blog to be shot to pieces. With an old version of my template on my hard drive and some help of my Firefox cache, I managed to restore it within a few minutes, and I don’t think I lost anything. I wouldn’t think too much about it, but the same thing happened to Robb just a few days ago. I hope it won’t be a recurring event now.

As for running, the training is revving up again after last week’s 55-mile slackerdom. On Monday I managed to crawl out of bed at 5:40 for a quick 13 miles, and today I slept for 8 glorious hours, topped up by a 5-mile recovery run. Not much else to report I’m afraid, apart from the fact that I expected to feel well rested after that sleep, but instead still feel tired. According to Rob, that’s what I’m supposed to feel, so I better stop whining.

I signed up for two races over the weekend. The first one is a half marathon in Blarney, Co. Cork, on September 10. That’s 7 weeks before the Dublin marathon. Ideally I’d prefer a half a bit closer to the marathon, but what can you do. It will still do as race preparation. The second race is next year’s Connemara. It’s not until April 2007, but they expect it to sell out early, and I thought I’d better registrate while there's still time. Thing is, I didn’t sign up for the marathon. No, I didn’t sign up for the half either. I’ll probably bitterly regret this 8 months from now, but I signed up for the 39.3 miles ultra. I didn’t decide on the spur of the moment, I had decided to do this the second I crossed the finish line of the Connemara marathon in March. I just didn’t tell anyone about it, and now it’s too late to turn back. But I still reserve the right to bitterly curse Rob, Olga and Jack from mile 30 onwards.

24 Jul: 13 miles, 1:45, 8:04 pace
25 Jul: 5 miles, 45:58, 9:11 pace

Sunday, July 23, 2006

What Did I Do Now?

I don’t know what made me do it, but what’s done is done. Once again I turned what should have been a nice and easy training run into some race against myself, and I didn’t even plan it.

Friday didn’t start too well. I had gone to bed quite early, but woke at 3 am and spent the best part of the next two hours trying to go back to sleep again. When the alarm when off at 5:40, I was less than rested. I fact I was sorely tempted to turn around and go back to sleep, but managed to heave myself out of bed. Once I was out on the road, I felt better and quickly got into the groove. I checked my time after 3.5 miles and was surprised to see that I was doing nearly 8:00 pace. I did slow down for a bit, but my internal pace control unit must have shut down, because within two minutes I was running just as fast again. In fact, I must have gotten faster with each mile, because the next time I checked my watch was at mile 9, and by now it was clear that I was going well below 8:00 pace. I passed our driveway where I had deposited a water bottle, but mindful of what happened two weeks ago, I decided to go on without drinking. Since the legs seemed incapable of going at easy pace, I decided to turn it into a progression run and run the last 5 miles at fairly hard pace. This worked ok until about mile 12, when fatigue finally caught up with me, and from then on I had to push myself to keep the pace going. When I passed the half-marathon mark I checked my time again. The watch said 1:40, which is actually faster than my best racing time, not that I count training runs as an official PR. When I got home one mile later I felt both great for having done such a great run and bad about pushing myself hard when I should have been cruising at an easy aerobic level instead.

Saturday was a rest day, and I finished the week on Sunday with 9 miles, including 10x100 strides. For the first two or three miles my calf muscles felt rather stiff, but they loosened up as the run progressed. The sky was very cloudy, and I felt a few raindrops initially, but half an hour later the sun was blazing down once again and I felt uncomfortably hot. I took off my t-shirt for the last two miles because I felt like I was baking underneath a layer of cotton. I hope none of the neighbours minded. It was also my first run in my new pair of Asics Nimbus. They had felt incredibly comfortable in the shop, so why did they feel like I was accidentally wearing somebody else’s pair as soon as I hit the road? In fact, I felt a blister developing on my right heel towards the end of the run. I might just about have gotten away with it, but it might still come out tomorrow. For the time being, the shoes are in disgrace at the back of the cabinet. I’ll probably use them again for a shorter run next week and hope that they magically start fitting my feet.

Weekly mileage: 55 miles (not 56 as mistakenly stated two posts ago)

21 Jul: 14 miles, 1:47, 7:38 pace
23 Jul: 9 miles, 1:12, 8:00 pace

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Beach Bums

The kids certainly enjoyed the fine weather of the last two weeks. Going to the beach every day is not a treat that is too common here in Ireland. You can see them looking across Dingle bay towards the Dingle peninsula.

We’re nearing the end of this particular “heat wave” though. I felt a few raindrops on both of my last two runs, even though it was still warm and sunny on both days. Wednesday started with the usual far-too-early wake-up call at 4:50 am, this time from Cian. He had fallen out of bed, and his crying woke me up. By the time I had walked into his room, he had fallen asleep again, beside his bed. I still picked him up and brought him to our bed. 10 minutes later Lola cried for mummy (she should know by now that crying for mummy at 5 am in the morning isn’t much use). Her problem? The blanket had fallen off. I told her that at the age of 5-and-a-half she really is old enough to pull up the blanket herself, not that she cared. I was just about to fall back asleep when Shea stormed into our room and wanted breakfast. I think I managed about 3 minutes of sleep before the alarm went off and I had to get up for my 11-miler. The run went well enough, even with the lack of sleep I felt less tired than on Monday.

I finally got a full complement of sleep on Thursday. I slept for nearly 8 hours, and the kids were all still asleep by the time I left. The 5-mile recovery run shouldn’t have been too tiring either, so I don’t quite understand why I’m completely knackered today. It might be the accumulated lack of sleep from the last few days, or the humidity, or maybe I’m just having an off day. Whatever the cause, I sure could use some more sleep. Keep your fingers crossed that the kids will be cooperating tonight.

19 Jul: 11 miles, 1:30, 8:10 pace
20 Jul: 5 miles, 46:30, 9:18 pace

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Déjà Vu

Picture the scene. Monday morning, 5am. Shea storms into our bedroom. “Daddy. I can’t dream!” “Well, go back to bed then” “No, I don’t dream when I sleep, and I want to see the world!” This might sound weird to you, but we’re used to that kind of thing by now. Unfortunately he didn’t go back to bed, and didn’t shut up until I let him watch a DVD. Obviously this cut my sleep short, and once more I didn’t get the required amount of sleep. I went out for 11 miles, and once again decided to run in the shade. It’s just to hot to run beside Caragh Lake, even at 6 am in the morning the sun seems to be blazing down. The run was ok, but my legs are quite weary, which isn’t particularly surprising after the biggest mileage of my life, and after 12 fairly fast miles on Sunday.

Picture the scene. Tuesday morning, 5am. Shea storms into our bedroom. “Daddy, I …” “Shut up!!!!!” (that was Niamh). Miraculously he did indeed go back to bed this time – for another 30 minutes, then it was once more time for another DVD. Obviously this cut my sleep short, and once more I didn’t get the required amount of sleep. Does that seem like a recurring event? Anyway, I managed to get some more sleep after that, and got up just before 7am to head out for a 5-mile recovery run. This week is a cut-down week of a mere 56 miles, but if I don’t get my sleep I’m afraid it won’t have the desired recovery effect.

The weather is gorgeous at the moment, my mother-in-law would say the sun is splitting the stones, though in Kerry terms that only means temperatures up to 27C/80F. Unfortunately this isn’t going to last, and the forecast for the weekend is rain. Isn’t that great? You’re sweating in the office all day long, and by the time you get the chance to enjoy the sunshine it will be gone!

Ah well.

17 Jul: 11 miles, 1:30, 8:11 pace
18 Jul: 5 miles, 47:15, 9:27 pace

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Back home

Things that broke in Nana and Gaga’s house while we were there:
  • An old rosary that used to belong to Nana’s granddad (but got fixed again) (culprit: Cian)
  • A bedside lamp (culprit: me)
  • A branch of an apple tree (culprit: Uncle Michael)
  • A door of a kitchen cabinet (culprit: Lola)
  • A curtain (culprit: unknown)
  • One bottle of foundation cream poured over a carpet (cleaned again) (culprit: Cian)
  • One set of scribbles on the wall (mostly cleaned) (culprit: Cian)

Nana said we were allowed to come again, but I think she said that only to get rid of us without fuss.

I managed to run 10 miles on Friday morning before we went back to Kerry. I ran the by now familiar route towards Ballybrack, and even found an old track where I did 4 laps. The middle 5 miles of this run were at tempo pace, about 7:20 – 7:30. Normally this kind of run tends to get easier after two miles, but not this time. I guess this had a lot to do with the 20 or 21 miles just two days earlier. It’s not easy to move the legs at the required speed when they’re as heavy as lead, and I really had to push myself. The fact that there was the usual 1-mile climb towards Stillorgan at the end didn’t help either. I also got the distance slightly wrong again; it was more like 10.5 miles.

After spending some 5 or 6 hours in the car on the journey back, I deserved a rest day on Saturday. Well, rest days on sunny weekends aren’t really rest days. They are gardening days, and usually make me just as tired as a hard run. For some reason I still felt guilty this morning because I felt like I hadn’t run in ages, silly me. Niamh had to go to Killarney with the kids, and I had to help her get them ready, so it wasn’t until 10:30 when I finally managed to start my 12 miles. That wasn’t the best move, considering it was the hottest day of the year so far. I originally planned to run alongside Caragh Lake, but that would have meant 12 miles in the sun, so I decided to run two loops instead, one 7-miles loop towards Killorglin and a 5-mile one to Ard-na-sidhe, where the trees provided plenty of shade. It went rather well, and this run finished my week on 68 miles. Woohoo!

14 Jul: approx. 10.5 miles, 1:21
16 Jul: 12 miles, 1:36, 8:00 pace

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Guess what the following sequence means: 5:50, 7:00, 5:50, 7:30. No, it’s not the pace of my most recent intervals. It’s the times in the morning when Shea or Cian woke me up this week. So much for sleeping in during your holiday. Each night I’m dead tired at 10 o’clock, but don’t go to bed because I don’t want to be unsociable. I eventually go to bed around midnight (still the first adult to go to sleep) and pray for a lie-in that never materialises. Twice I managed a bit of a snooze during the afternoon, but usually I’m just tired. Which isn’t optimal when you’re still expected to look after your children as well as running the highest mileage of your life.

I was a bit worried about yesterday’s 20 miler. I had, however, a cunning plan on how I would get water during the run. “Honey, why don’t you take the children to Cabinteely Park at around 12 o’clock? Oh, and while you’re at it, can you bring my water bottle along, please?” This worked a treat. After leaving the house at around 10 o’clock (later than planned) I first ran a few miles towards Ballybrack and Killiney, then turned around and got to Cabinteely at the 8 mile point, where I started doing laps around the park. It’s a nice park with a big playground in the middle, and a lap is a bit more than one mile (and it’s quite hilly). I did about 5 or 6 laps until I saw Niamh, Nana and the kids, grabbed my water bottle off them, did two more laps and then headed home to Stillorgan. One thing I hadn’t quite thought through was the mile long climb from Cabinteely to Foxrock, which isn’t very steep, but challenging enough if you already have 18 or 19 miles in your legs. I surprised myself on how strong I still felt and eventually got home after running for nearly 3 hours. I’m quite sure that the distance was closer to 21 miles than 20, let’s call it 20.5 miles. As Zeke said in his last entry, it doesn’t make a difference to the body how many miles you write down in your log.

I felt a bit stiff today but managed some relaxed 5 miles in the morning while all the other adults were still asleep (after being woken by Shea, as usual). Niamh got up when I came home and remarked that I looked like a man who had barely broken sweat. It’s amazing how well I feel after a recovery run these days – I guess it has a lot to do with the fact that I’m much more conscious to keep the effort down to the easy level than I used to be.

I finally managed to sneak off to Mick Dowling's sports shop in Terenure that Liam had recommended, and bought a new pair of shoes (Asics Nimbus, bloody expensive but they felt really comfy), shorts, socks, dumbbells and some recovery drink powder. At that stage I had to leave before I completely bankrupted myself. Niamh now demands to be allowed into a clothes shop. I guess I’m not really in a position to argue against.

We’re driving back to Kerry tomorrow. I hope to be able to run before we leave; I’ve still got to do two runs of double figures before the week is out, and don’t want to do them on Saturday and Sunday.

12 Jul: approx. 20.5 miles, 2:55
13 Jul: approx. 5 miles, 48 mins

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Struggling Already

It’s only Tuesday, but I can already see that this is not going to be an easy week. 67 miles in singles on unfamiliar routes is going to be a challenge. And the fact that I’ll spend several hours on Friday in a car on the journey back to Kerry is definitely not going to help.
Monday’s 14 miles left me completely exhausted. I guess I still had some fatigue from Sunday’s 12 miles (and the race on Friday) in my legs, and after 10 miles I started to feel really knackered. I guess the change in diet doesn’t help. Niamh is a vegetarian, and every time I come here my mother-in-law decides to feed her poor suffering husband as much meat as possible. I managed to struggle back home, and just about the first thing I said once I had regained enough breath to speak was to demand a carbohydrate dinner.
Thinking about it, the fact that I run later in the day won’t help either. I’m used to running at 6 am in the morning, and at 9 o’clock it is a lot warmer. Running along busy roads and inhaling tons of car exhaust fumes, at least until I reach the cycling path, isn’t exactly the ideal running environment either. I guess I’m spoilt in Kerry.

I did 6 easy miles today, and felt much better (and the pasta last night went down a treat). Running 20 miles tomorrow will be a challenge. I’ll have to work out a way to get some water along the way, and I’m undecided on the route. I could run from Stillorgan towards Dalkey and Killiney, or I could do a few laps inside Cabinteely Park, or I could combine those routes. As I’m running for time, the exact distance won’t matter that much; I know my pace and it should be reasonably accurate – as long as I manage to stay on my feet for the required time.

And now for something completely different. Am I the only one who was distinctly underwhelmed by the football on display during the World Cup? The fact that Italy won it despite a rather unconvincing and uninspiring display in the final was rather fitting, I suppose. When Germany are playing the most attractive football it doesn’t speak much for the other teams’ approaches. Argentina were sublime for the first 2 games, but completely lost their nerve once the knock-out stages started, and Brazil were at their worst in living memory. The fact that the supposedly best player in the world, Ronaldinho, had a tournament to forget, and the actual best player, Zidane, was sent off for an ugly foul in the final just underlined the disappointment. Now I’ll have to wait another 4 years to see some decent football – it better be worth the wait.

10 Jul: approx. 14 miles, 1:56
11 Jul: approx. 6 miles, 55 mins

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Back in the Big Smoke

The basking in glory after Friday’s race didn’t last too long. Saturday morning I had to sneak out early to get 5 miles of recovery run under my belt, because as soon as I came back I had to pack my bags and we drove to Dublin. The roads very extremely busy and it took us an hour longer than expected. Long hours in the car always play havoc with my legs, and I felt stiff as a plank by the time we got to Nana’s and Gaga’s house. The fact that it was the day after a race didn’t help matters. Nana and Gaga had spent a few hours trying to make their house Cian-proof, but were only partially successful. Ever since Cian scratched one of Nana’s DVDs on their last visit to Kerry, they are more aware of his destructive streak. He still managed to grab a few beauty products and smear them all over the bathroom mirror when everyone thought he was asleep, but so far that’s the only time he managed to escape the watchful eyes.

I managed to get in a decent run today. Running in Dublin always means running by time rather than miles for me, because I don’t really know the distances here, and I’m too skint to waste my money on toys like a Garmin or a new Polar pod. I was planning on 12 miles, but probably did a bit more than that, and was hampered by the very windy conditions. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the scene. You head out, and for a few miles running seems very easy and you think you’re feeling really good. Then you reach the turnaround point and realise that the second leg of the journey will be against the blustering headwind. I managed to push through that, and I managed to do 10x100 strides as well, to finish the week on about 64 miles. I had sacrificed a rest day for an extra recovery run after Wednesday’s 19 miler, and accordingly cut one 10 mile run down to 5 to keep the mileage in line with the plan. This week calls for 67, which will be a bit awkward with the unfamiliar routes and with us travelling back to Kerry on Friday, but at least I don’t have to get up at 4:30 in the morning to run 20 miles before heading to work. I’ve still got some slight pain in my right side, but it’s definitely receding and – most importantly - it doesn’t stop me from running.

8 Jul: 5 miles, 48:10, 9:38 pace
9 Jul: 1:44, approx. 12.5 miles

Friday, July 07, 2006

Killarney 5k

First of all, please accept my apologies for the last entry. I know it wasn’t a pleasant read; thing is, it wasn’t a pleasant run either. I hope there won’t be a repeat performance, but you can’t say I didn’t warn you.

Luckily, my stomach calmed down eventually and I dithered if I should run 5 miles on Thursday or not. I eventually decided to run, because my legs usually feel better after a recovery run than after a rest day. This meant that I wouldn’t have any rest before today’s race, but that was ok by me. I’m not focusing on the 5k, and the ongoing marathon training is more important to me.

The race start was at 7:30 pm, and I drove the 20 miles to Killarney after work. When I collected my number the woman asked me what category I’d be in, fun run or competitive. I said something like “well, I’ll run as fast as I can”, after which she put me into the fun run category. Whatever. I saw plenty of people warming up with 40 minutes to go. I didn’t copy them, just did about 10 minutes of warm-up and got to the starting line with about 2 minutes to go.

As soon as the race started, I got into a nice steady rhythm that seemed appropriate. I don’t know really how to run short races. Mike advised me to start slowly and finish strongly, Rob on the other hand just ran a 4-mile race and his strategy was to bust your lungs early on and then hold on for dear life. I settled for something in-between, a pace that I felt I would be able to hold for the next 22 or so minutes. The markers were in km, and I missed the first one. At 2km I checked my time, and it was 8:15. I didn’t have the necessary oxygen supply to my brain to convert that into minutes/mile pace (6:36, maybe I should bring a calculator along for my next race), but I figured that I was doing pretty well. More importantly, I felt good. I also did my usual trick of playing “catch the runner” once the field had settled, and once again I managed to overtake quite a number of them without being overtaken myself. Which is nice. I forgot to check my time at 3km, and at 4km it was around 17:15, which of course meant that I had slowed down a bit. I pushed on again for the last km. The last km was actually the most difficult because the finish is on top of a hill, and any strong finishing kick has to done while running uphill. I like hills, and managed a decent kick to finish in 21:03, which is a PR by 19 seconds. This was totally unexpected. I hadn’t done any speedwork, and I still felt Wednesday’s 19 miles in my legs.

As a result, I’m feeling very pleased and smug right now. Who knows, maybe I would be able to do a sub-20 minutes 5k if I trained for this distance and tapered for races like this. But I won’t, because I don’t fancy doing intervals, and anyway, according to Lydiard, marathon training is the best training for all kinds of shorter distances anyway. Oh, and one more strange thing. I used to think my max HR is 186. After my last 5k, on New Year’s Day, I thought it was 188. Today when I crossed the finish line, the HR monitor said 193! Figure that one out.

There is just one thing bugging me. If I put my 5k time into one of those race calculators, I should be able to run something like 3:24 for a marathon, yet my PR is more than 30 minutes slower than that. That’s annoying for someone who considers himself a marathon runner, even if it’s a rubbish one. Ah well, I guess I’ll have to bust a gut in Dublin 16 weeks from now.

6 Jul: 5 miles, 47:48, 9:33 pace
7 Jul: approx. 5 miles including warm-up and cool down. 5k race in 21:02, 6:47 pace

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Read With Caution

How detailed should I describe today’s events? It depends how much I want to gross you out, I suppose.

After feeling very tired on Monday I made sure to run Tuesday’s recovery run extra easy, and was rewarded with another “lowest heart rate ever” run. This keeps happening, and is a reassurance that I’m not over-training. The legs felt better, and I wasn’t as tired any more. Oh, and I ran without eating breakfast before. I didn’t attempt to copy Mike with his depletion thing, but when the alarm went off at 6:40 I thought “breakfast or another 10 minutes of sleep?” and sleep won hands down.

Since I’m still planning on running the 5k in Killarney on Friday, I moved this week’s long run from Friday to Wednesday. 19 miles is quite long, but it didn’t look too daunting; all my recent long runs have gone very well, and the legs always held up to the end, so I wasn’t too worried.

Things started to fall apart after last night’s dinner. Niamh made some Mexican dish, and the problems are 1) it’s too delicious and I always end up eating too much and 2) the beans. Plus, it’s quite hot in the evenings these days (hot for Ireland that is. The guys and gals from Arizona would be freezing, I suppose), and sleeping at 21C/70F isn’t something I do easily, and I kept waking up. The alarm went off at 4:50, and despite being tempted to stay in bed I got up and got ready to go out. The stomach immediately gave notice that it wasn’t happy (which I blame on the beans), and I had to force the weetabix down my throat. I had to go to the toilet three times (I did warn you, remember?) before I felt brave enough to head out. The first two or three miles were awful, I battled my intestines and was constantly worried about losing it at both ends. Eventually my digestive system settled down and the rest of the initial 10 miles loop was ok, though I was running a tad slower than usual. I was rewarded with a stunning sunrise; the sun appeared to be bright red and illuminated the few clouds in amazing orange/pink/red shades. Anyway, I passed our driveway and picked up a water bottle that I had deposited there. As soon as I took a few swigs of water, my stomach woke up again, and this time it was worse. I tried to keep going, but two miles later I had to compromise and squat beside the road to get rid of the dead weight inside (you had been warned). After that I felt better for a few more miles, and until the 17.5 miles point it was ok. Then the stomach cramps returned with a vengeance, I nearly threw up once or twice, and the legs felt like lead all of a sudden. Of course at that stage I was on my return leg anyway, and all I could do was keep going, but it was a rather ugly death trot, until I finally made my way back home. Ugh.

I guess this happens to every runner at some stage, and the way I see it, it’s part of the initiation rites. Now all I need to do is lose a toenail, then I’ll finally be a fully paid member of the “real runners” club.

4 Jul: 5 miles, 49:17, 9:51 pace
5 Jul: 19 miles, 2:43, 8:34 pace

Monday, July 03, 2006


  • Runners always tell other runners to take a break
  • They never take breaks themselves when advised to do so
  • I seamlessly manage to fit into that category
  • All the well-meant advice is gratefully received and ungracefully ignored
  • When the inevitable injury strikes, we’ve all seen it coming from miles away.

Anyway, thanks for all your comments. The fact that I’m not taking a break isn’t meant to be disrespectful. It’s just what you guys and gals are doing as well. The chest pains have subsided by now, the pain in my side is still there but getting better as well. Mike warned me that those pains could have been caused by the extra mileage. I will keep that possibility in mind, but presently I don’t think that is the case.

I finished last week with 10 miles on Sunday (weeks begin on Monday in civilised countries). It was after 9:30 by the time I left the house, and it was already quite hot. As a result I felt a little bit sluggish all the way. However, after about two miles I passed a dirt road going up a hill that I had meant to explore for quite some time. I followed it until it turned into a grass track, and then ended in the middle of a field. I didn’t want to turn around, so I decided to run downhill until I would come back to the road. That was easy enough, but the road access was blocked by a barbed wire fence, and some wobbly stones on the other side. I did manage to climb over the fence and the stones without mishaps, but the last step fooled me. Instead of a small step, it was a drop of a bit more than a meter, and since I always run without specs, I didn’t notice it; well, not until I was unexpectedly airborne, that is. I landed in a heap on the road, both hands bloodied, the right one more so than the left one. Since I’m not running on my hands I decided to continue my run. A driver who had seen my tumble (oh, the embarrassment) inquired if I was ok and commented that it looked like a nasty fall, but I thanked him and assured him I was ok. The best thing about that episode was that I didn’t feel the pain in my right side any more, my new wounds hurt a lot more.

When I got home, the kids were very concerned about me, and when I went running today, Lola dutifully reminded me not to climb over any fences. I will hear this for a few months to come.

Those 10 miles brought my weekly mileage up to 62, my first ever mileage in the 60s. This didn’t lead up to well-deserved rest day, because I started this week with 13 miles today. I felt quite tired to be honest, but I attribute this to the several hours in the garden doing yard work on Sunday. The legs were sluggish, but I didn’t feel particularly exhausted towards the end. There is one concern though; I can feel a bit of a twinge in my left hamstring now. This time I believe you when you say that this pain is running related. I’m running 5 miles recovery tomorrow and will monitor the situation. If it gets worse, I’ll put in an extra rest day. I promise.

2 Jul: 10 miles, 1:29, 8:54 pace (including at least one mile of very hilly cross-country, plus one meter very cleverly gained for free due to gravity assistance. Ahem.)
3 Jul: 13 miles, 1:49, 8:23 pace

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Confession Time

Like most runners out there, I didn’t listen to all the well-meant advice of taking it easy and taking a few days off running. I did listen to my body and it said “there’s a pain, but it’s not running-related”, and as a result I decided to resume my normal running schedule.

After taking Thursday off due to continued chest pains, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to handle 18 miles on Friday morning. The distance itself did not worry me; it was the effect it might have on the already aching muscles in my upper body. I ran a few laps around the house on Thursday evening, just to gauge if running would hurt; it didn’t, and I decided to go ahead as planned.

Friday didn’t start very well; I awoke at 4:45 because of a cramp in my right calf. That is a problem I’ve had since my teenage years. I used to wake up with a cramp at least once a month, and more often when it was summer. Taking magnesium tablets has made a big difference, and now I get those cramps maybe twice a year. Unfortunately, Friday morning was one of those. I already know from experience that this doesn’t have any real effect on my run. I can manage even long runs straight after those cramps. It means I will feel some after-effect in my calf muscle, but it doesn’t worsen even after a lot of miles.

When I did start running, I once again felt that pain in my left chest, but nowhere near as bad as on Wednesday. Additionally, there was a pain in my left side. At first I though it was a side-stitch, but it didn’t go away even after slowing down and exhaling consciously, and eventually I decided it must be a muscle pain, most likely caused by some change in my running form on Wednesday. To top it up, my right foot hurt as well. This may or may not be plantar fasciitis, and it’s something that I’ve had on and off over the last year. A new pair of shoes has always solved the problem, and since I’ve just started on a new pair, I’m optimistic that this will solve the problem once again.

After all the drama two days earlier, the long run on Friday itself was rather unremarkable. I ran at a slightly more leisurely pace than the one I’ve done most of my recent long runs at, and the distance itself was not a problem. I really must be in decent shape at the moment, because I didn’t really feel fatigued at all, not even towards the end. Is that the “pleasantly tired” state that you’re supposed to feel once you’re getting very fit? Whatever it is, I’m very happy with the way the run went. In fact, it felt so good that I decided to head out for 6 miles on Saturday morning to make up for the lost day on Thursday. I know that you should never try to catch up on missed workouts, but in effect I just swapped around one rest and one recovery day. Once again, my left chest, right side and right foot all hurt a bit, but not enough to be concerned about it. It made it a bit difficult to get into a relaxed stride, but after three miles I felt ok, and that’s when my heart rate dropped into the normal recovery zone as well.

I’m now quite certain that I can continue my normal running schedule as planned. I had done some core strengthening exercises in the last few weeks, and I might have overdone them, thus causing the muscles in my chest to overreact. I’ll stop the core strengthening for a week or two, and then take them up again, but less rigorously.

Oh, and my mileage for June was 248. I don’t even have to check any other months; I know that it’s a new personal record.

Jun 30: 18 miles, 2:29, 8:17 pace
Jul 1: 6 miles, 54:16, 9:02 pace