Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Reaching the end of the road

After being slightly held back last week, I finally managed to run my last 20 miler this Monday. Despite this being three days later than originally planned, I ran it exactly 3 weeks before the marathon, which happens to be the recommended time for the last long run. As an additional challenge I wore the DS trainers for this run, as a test for the marathon.

It all went pretty well. I got up at 4:40 and left at about 5am. I got my headlamp out of the cupboard, but it was nearly Full Moon, and it was so bright that I decided to run without artificial light source (but I did wear a sash of reflective material for obvious safety reasons). It had been raining heavily earlier in the night, because the first thing I did outside our gate was to step right into a puddle. Great start. The sky was brilliant though, apart from one dark cloud far away, which I didn’t really register. I did notice it 4 miles later though, because that’s when it unloaded its load right on top of me. Soaked through I continued on, and reached the 5 mile point in about 42:30, a bit faster than intended, but I did run very relaxed, not pushing the pace at all. I wasn’t able to read my time at the 10-mile point, because that was in the woods, and the moonlight wasn’t bright enough through the trees to make out the numbers on my HRM display. As usual for such a run, the second part consisted of two loops to Ard-na-Sidhe and back, which includes a visit to the local elven population. During the first loop I had to concentrate to make out the road, because the light was fairly dim amongst the trees, but I managed it fine. During the final loop it finally started to get bright. I hardly met a soul on the way, I think saw about 3 cars in all. At mile 18 my right calf started to feel tighter and tighter, and I was worried about cramping. The problem was much more noticeable on climbs, but after a mile or so it seemed to ease again, and I could finish the run without further problems. The shoes held up fine, and they are hereby pencilled in for the marathon, despite Mike’s reservations. The calf issues may have been caused by the lesser heel support in those shoes, but then again I did run 31 miles in 22 hours, which I won’t be repeating on marathon day.

I came home feeling really happy about this run and my level of fitness, but as soon as I got home I encountered Niamh in a seriously pissed off state. “They woke up at 6am, fought for half an hour, and have been complete nightmares ever since”. She didn’t elaborate any details, but I found it prudent to take over child minding duties for the rest of the morning until it was time for school. It’s a good thing I didn’t feel exhausted after the run.

All that was in store for today was a much-needed recovery run. I ran it slowly and very relaxed, and was rewarded with a new low record for the heart rate. Each time my HR seems to drop to a new level I do question the accuracy of my HR monitor, but it has never let me down before, and I tend to believe its readings eventually. Whether it was the twice-weekly speedwork over the last few weeks or the three 20-milers in three weeks, I seem to have gained one last level of fitness, just in time for the taper. Let’s hope I can manage to stay sane for the next 20 days. The other noteworthy occurrence today was an obviously insane driver in an SUV coming round a bend much too fast for such a narrow road. I heard it coming just in time and managed to jump out of the way into the bushes. Had I been on a bike, or reacted slightly slower, this could have ended very badly.

9 Oct: 20 miles, 2:45, 8:15 pace
10 Oct: 5 miles, 45:44, 9:08 pace


  1. Wow - Thomas - a nice relaxed run at that pace! Nice job. I love it when I see the HR dropping, which is a great indication of an improving fitness level. Take it easy during your taper (easy for me to say - difficult for me to follow.)

  2. I knew the shoes would hold up, as I use them myself. I was worried about your calves and achilles holding up!

    Great long run to end the build up, you should have some confidence going in to this one. I am glad you tried the shoes for at least one long one though.

  3. Well done on the long run Thomas. Also very nice work on the 11 miler with the 10K.

    Taper well and have confidence in your training.

  4. Great job on the long run. Excellent pace. Now it's time to cruise alittle and wait for the big day.

  5. Your described the morning so perfectly - made me feel like I was running right with you. I went out without a light today too (actually, I do that almost everyday). I love running through the dark.

  6. Great pace for 20 miles Thomas. Your general level of fitness is excellent. I can only imagine how cold it got once you were soaked through with rain ... but you kept going.

    Have a great taper. You deserve it.

  7. Well done Thomas, I'm glad you felt better in time for your last 20 miler. Now you can take a well earned break!
    From the first time I read your Blogs up until now, you've consistantly worked hard, from having the motivation to get out of bed, go for a run & get back home by a time most are still drooling on their pillows, to putting as many miles into your legs as you have, even during the tale end of hurricanes!
    I look forward to reading your Blog on the 31st of this month to see how you got on.
    From reading your last blog though I do think you have it bad..... bunking off work & getting in a babysitter to go for runs?! You are definately running crazy :o)

  8. Nice job--I'm looking forward to reading about the marathon.

  9. way to go! good luck in your upcomeing marathon

  10. Ready for the Taper, you are gonna do well. I can just feel it in your posting!


  11. What a great run, pace, enjoyement, all!!!

    Don't even talk about it. You will be fine during the taper!!

  12. Wow that was a great 20 miler.

    Now enjoy the taper and have a great race!!!

  13. Thomas,

    THanks for your encouraging words.

    Look like u are ready to smoke that marathon.

  14. Amazing pace for a relaxed long run, geez! Have a great taper, sounds like you have a good shot at sub-3:30.

  15. Your running so well!
    Looks like a few of us like to run in the dark. Sure glad you reacted fast and missed a head on with that SUV!
    Your going to rock your marathon!!