Wednesday, November 29, 2006


I guess I have to apologise to Niamh. I always used to think she was wasting most of our money on things we really didn’t need, like yet another pair of shoes. Then I heard on the radio today that the average woman in Ireland owns 30 pairs of shoes. Average, they said, not obsessed. Wow. Niamh has about 10, and apparently she’s incredibly restrained. And anyway, one look into our shoe rack would make you think I’m the one with the shoe obsession. It’s not as bad as it looks though; three of these pairs are actually worn out, I just can’t bring myself to throw them out after all we’ve been through together.

On the running front things are going well. I listened to the wise words of Mike and Mike, and didn’t try to run any more tempo efforts with an eye on Sunday’s race. Instead I inserted 8x100 strides into yesterdays run, which explains the rather high heart rate for what was not a particularly fast run. That, and the fact that two of those miles were against a rather strong headwind, which made the strides feel like hard work. I thought about doing a 50-50 mile, but decided against it. I’ve never attempted a workout like that before, and might leave it for the next 5k (possibly on New Year’s Day).

Today I just seemed to click, and running became a joy again. Maybe it was due to the improved weather with only a little bit of rain, and much-reduced wind speeds. For the first time since the marathon I attempted double figures, and while I knew that I would be able to handle it, I didn’t expect it to go so well. Getting up at 6 am was the only real hurdle, the run itself seemed effortless and I managed to zen out for most of it. I didn’t once look at my heart rate monitor or check my time, and was pleasantly surprised at both readings at the end. It went so well that I am tempted to put in another “long” run as soon as I can, but I won’t. I’ve only just started building my mileage, and I’m going to reach 50 this week, which is already 7 more than last week. All the books I’ve read warn against bigger increases, so I won’t. I’ll leave the big mileage jumps to other people (Funny, they're the ones who are running the fastest marathons).

28 Nov: 7 miles, 1:01, 8:42 pace, avg. HR 157, incl. 8x100 strides
29 Nov: 11 miles, 1:32, 8:21 pace, avg. HR 152

Consecutive days in the rain: 16

Monday, November 27, 2006


I didn’t mention one thing about Saturday’s run; for the last half mile two dogs joined in on the fun. One is our next-door neighbour’s little puppy called Puppsy, the other one is a big black dog that nobody seems to know who he belongs to, but he’s very friendly, well behaved and well fed, so someone must be looking after him. Anyway, shortly after I left for Sunday’s easy 5-miler they showed up again. They must have caught the running bug. The bigger one gave up after a mile or so, but Puppsy kept going on his (or her?) tiny legs for the whole duration. I didn’t mind company, but would have preferred someone without the tendency to run right in front or right behind me. I nearly tripped once or twice, but we both got home in one piece. I don’t expect the same entourage for the many winter runs in total darkness that are just around the corner though.

The weather was quite nice on Saturday, I just got caught by a few raindrops that didn’t really bother me, but I guess they kept my sequence going. But two or three hours after my run the weather turned seriously nasty again, and it still hasn’t stopped raining in buckets by now, about 30 hours later. I had opted for the water witch loop again, but this time without the shortcut through the mud track. Have you ever tried running up a steep slope with the wind howling straight into your face? It’s like one of those nightmares where you run and run and don’t make any progress. When I finally managed to crest the hill the road became a bit more sheltered, which stopped the wind from blowing me down the slopes. I managed to get home in one piece and soaked to the bones, which prompted Niamh to greet me with “I think you’re completely mad to go running in this weather”. “So do I”. But you know what? I love it really.

Nov 26: 5 miles, 45:03, 9:00 pace, avg. HR 149
Nov 27: 6.8 miles, 57:14, 8:25 pace, vg. HR 157

Weekly mileage: 43

Consecutive days in the rain: 14

Saturday, November 25, 2006


On Thursday I had decided to run a little bit faster, just for one run, to get rid of the boredom of 9-minutes-plus recovery run after recovery run. So what do I do for the two following runs? I speed up even more. Sometimes I really don’t know what I’m doing.

It started with Friday’s effort. After the hills on Thursday I thought a tempo run would make a nice change. I also got a bit worried about that 5k on the first December weekend. My legs seem totally incapable of going faster than snails pace at the moment, and I wanted to manage at least one run at under 8:00 pace to get a bit more zip. It was pretty hard work though. Of course I tried to stay on the aerobic side of the equation, but it clearly showed that I have plenty of work to do in that department. I just about managed to get under 8:00 pace, but it really required some effort. And looking at my heart rate monitor wasn’t pretty, so I avoided that.

Today I set out later than during the week, which meant running in bright daylight for a change. After the customary initial shower the sun came out, what a nice surprise. But I didn’t really appreciate it at the time. I was pondering about yesterday’s run. I couldn’t quite get to grips with the fact that I really had to push myself for a mere 5 miles, and not even reach the pace I ran for 20 miles of the Dublin marathon 4 weeks ago. As a result of that, I didn’t get into a relaxed stride for the whole outbound leg of the course; it was a rather laboured effort. I checked my time at the turnaround point, and was surprised to see it at 32:30, which was just under 8:00 pace. Oops. I had planned to run slowly after the two previous “speedy” workouts. However, on the way home I suddenly felt a lot better, I finally managed to get into a relaxed stride, and when I came back home I realised that I had actually managed to speed up rather than slow down, even though it felt much easier. How do you explain that? Maybe a few of the faster fibers in my legs have finally woken up from a 4-weeks slumber, and decided to help out? Whatever the cause, I’m much happier with this effort than Friday's.

Even with that improvement, next week’s 5k comes much too early for me. I still intend to run it, not least because it might give me the chance to finally meet Sarah, Philip and Liam, after I managed to miss all three of them at the marathon. It might even give Niamh the chance to see me at the finishing line of a race, though I would prefer that to be in a race that I’m better prepared for.

As for bloglines: I know that my blog has stopped updating the bloglines feed, but have no idea why. I also noticed that one or two other blogs I read have the same problem. I contacted bloglines, but haven’t got an answer yet. I’ll keep you posted.

24 Nov: 5 miles, 39:37, 7:55 pace, avg. HR 166
25 Nov: 8.25 miles, 1:04, 7:49 pace, avg. HR 162

Consecutive Days of Rainy Workouts: 12

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Irish lesson

Ok, I dug out the map, as promised, and the Irish name of the water witch is Callahaniska, though I strongly suspect that’s actually an anglisation of the original spelling. The second part of the name comes from the Irish word for water, uisce. You all know it; it still lives on to this day as … Whiskey.

After the hills on Tuesday I took it easy again on Wednesday, and got my heart rate down another notch. I managed to get into a very relaxed, if slow, stride, despite a few twinges in my left hamstring. That’s definitely getting better though, despite me forgetting to ice it in Tuesday. The weather was quite benign; it’s very warm for the end of November, even in the morning the temperatures go up to 10C/50F. Mind, I still got caught up in the rain.

Today I upped both the mileage and the pace a little bit. I visited yet another hill, opposite the water witch, called the Devil’s elbow. If it’s by chance that the water witch and the devil are staring at each other across the lake I don’t know, but my guess is that there’s a local myth involved. I haven’t been able to find anything written as of yet, though. Anyway, the loop around the devil is 8.5 miles long and included a wicked climb of about 130 meters/425 feet in less than a mile. I used to take this as a fitness test; if I managed to run all the way I was fit enough. I must be getting stronger, because running all the way up to the crest was not a problem today. The downhill part is less steep, and it’s really easy to get into a very fast stride without much effort. Of course one could run the loop the other way round, but then the downhill section would be too steep for comfortable running. I ran most of the loop at what used to be 8:00 effort, and ended up a bit slower than that. Even taking the hill into account, it still shows that I’ve got plenty of work to do. And the weather was worse than the day before, with high winds, apparently up to 50 mph during the night. The strap of my reflective sash got thrown about by the wind, and at least twice gave me a rather painful slap across the face. Ouch. Of course it rained as well.

And about 2 miles away from home a very, very big dog came barking towards me. It was still dark and I’m not sure what breed it was, maybe a Doberman, and boy did it frighten me. Luckily barking was all it did, a bite would have been truly nasty. Maybe I should take that into account when looking at my heart rate for today’s run.

22 Nov: 5 miles, 47:11, 9:26 pace, avg. HR 145
23 Nov: 8.5 miles, 1:10, 8:14 pace, avg. HR 161

Consecutive days in the rain: 10 (but the weather forecast says this will end soon)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Monday morning I finally got tired of the same 5-mile route to Ard-na-Sidhe and went on a different loop. I decided to circle one of the local hills beside Caragh Lake called the water-witch (the actual name is in Irish, of course, but I can’t remember it now. I might look it up, if someone’s interested). The road climbs quite a bit and passes between the water-witch and another, higher, mountain called Seefin. I guess the elevation gain is a bit more than 100 meters in just over a mile. Running uphill felt much easier than expected, and I tried to relax on the way down. Halfway down the mountain I came across a dirt road that I had planned to scout out, and headed that way. What had not taken into account was the fact that it had been raining for several days, and the dirt track had turned into a muddy mess; at 7 o’clock in the morning the light wasn’t exactly ideal, especially for someone as short-sighted as me. I originally tried to avoid the deepest puddles and gingerly found my around them, but of course I managed to step right into one eventually, and from then on I just ploughed my way through the ankle-deep mess. Once I nearly lost my shoe, but apart from that I didn’t encounter any problems. Eventually I ended up back on the road, right beside Caragh Lake, exactly 3 miles from home. That’s when the rain returned with a vengeance, but I guess coming off a muddy path a premature shower isn’t such a bad idea.

Today I nearly broke my sequence. No, not the one about running every day, the one about running in the rain every day. It had been raining all night, and when I initially woke at 6 I could still hear the wind and rain against the window. I got up about half an hour later. The boys woke as well, and after preparing some breakfast for them and getting ready myself I went out and was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the rain had stopped. It was time for another mundane Ard-na-Sidhe loop, but after about 3 miles my left hamstring started to tighten quite badly. I’m not sure what caused it, but I kept feeling “something” all day. I can’t tell for sure if it’s an early sign of an injury or just another twinge, but I’ll do the same as always – I keep on running and if it gets worse, I’ll think of something else. And I’ll ice it. Anyway, about a quarter-mile away from home the rain returned, thus keeping my sequence going. That makes eight rainy runs in a row. Let’s see how long I can stretch this one. Oh, I’m counting the hail as a rainy run as well; frozen water is still water.

20 Nov: 6.25 miles, 54:52, 8:46 pace, avg. HR 154, one big climb
21 Nov: 5 miles, 43:49, 8:45 pace, avg. HR 153

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Weather Beaten

I do remember last winter’s training cycle. How could I forget it? I’ve experienced more rain than ever before in my life, and most of it through the shiny cone thrown by my headlamp. It looks like this winter won’t be different; the early signs are ominous. I’ve run 5 times this week, and got wet on 4 of these. It will take some willpower to stay consistent.

Friday night was very stormy, I kept waking up and on more than one occasion heard what was either very heavy rain or hail against the window. The kids must have heard it too, because by 6 am they all were out of bed, and despite several attempts this signalled the end of my night. After 2 hours of being called every 5 minutes or so I gave up on sleeping and went out running. The sky looked nice enough at the time, but forgetting the gloves was a very stupid thing to do. After 1.5 miles I saw a big dark cloud ahead of me. I expected the rain to be with me in 5 minutes, but I was wrong. Just one minute later the hail started, and it wasn’t pleasant. I'd got caught by hail once before, but I had been wearing a wind jacket. This time I was in shorts and t-shirt, and each and every bit of bombardment hurt. It went on for the next 2 miles and then finally ceased. The advantage of hail is that you’re not getting soaked, and as soon as the weather turned nice again I was kind of glad that it hadn’t been raining. What didn’t work was running slowly – when you’re dodging a million ice balls, a relaxed stride isn’t the first thing on your mind.

Today I had the opportunity to compare heavy rain and hail, and the conclusion is that neither is particularly pleasant. Again the weather had turned nasty overnight, and in the morning I doubted that I would be silly enough to run in this weather. Around 9 o’clock it brightened up, and I couldn’t resist temptation. Lola was incredulous when I told her that I was going running. “But it’s raining, Daddy!”. She’s definitely her mother’s daughter. Or maybe she’s just got more sense than me at the ripe old age of 5-and-a-half. The run was ok until the halfway point, when the wind and rain returned with a vengeance. Getting rain blown straight into your face by a stormy wind isn’t much better than hail stones, and the further disadvantage was that this time I was indeed getting soaked. But despite this, I actually managed to catch the one window in the storm where running was an option. The weather has since turned into a mini-hurricane; an hour ago we could see the kids' outdoor playhouse flying past the window (I managed to retrieve it. The roof has blown off, but I can fix it).

How do you keep the kids entertained in such weather? Face painting!

I’ve now run 7 times in 7 days since my break. I didn’t plan on running every day, but I felt ok, and I really don’t think 5 miles per day are more than my body can handle. The heart rate kept dropping with every run initially, but has now gone back up, although that was because I ran faster. That’s the weather’s fault, I can’t run relaxed in those circumstances. Still, I would have expected a lower HR, and it’s a clear sign that I’m not recovered from the marathon. I will continue taking it easy for a while.

18 Nov: 5 miles, 43:51, 8:46 pace, avg. HR 155
19 Nov: 5 miles, 41:55, 8:21 pace, avg. HR 162

Weekly mileage: 35

Friday, November 17, 2006

Progress Report

The good news first, the running is getting better each and every day. I’ve managed 5 runs in a row so farm, all of them 5 miles and on the same route. I thought about a change of scenery but decided against it to be able to compare each run with the previous ones. My heart rate had dropped every day, and while it still isn’t at the level it used to be before the marathon, it has already reached the level I typically ran in before starting training for Dublin. The pace has unfailingly slowed from day to day as well, which I take as a good sign, because at the very least it tells me that I can run my recovery runs without feeling that I have to match yesterday’s performance. At some stage today I did think “that feels a bit slow”, and this was confirmed when I got home and checked my time, but I never felt the need to accelerate. Oh, and on both days it was cold and raining. Today it was only 4C/40F degrees, and if it drops any further I’ll have to swap the t-shirts for something with long sleeves. The short can stay on for a bit longer.

The bad news is a bit of a twinge in the left Achilles. On Thursday’s run twice I felt like someone was poking my Achilles with a needle, not overly painful, but not particularly pleasant either. I made my long-awaiting comeback in the soccer circuit as well, and again could feel that something wasn’t quite right. Today again, over the first one or two miles I had a bit of a twinge in the same area again, but it disappeared after a while, and in fact it felt better than the day before. I don’t think it’s serious, but it’s something I will keep an eye on.

After becoming more and more frustrated with the hopeless state of Google Maps in Ireland (anywhere outside Dublin it’s utterly useless, only the major roads are in the database), I found a much better database on I started playing around with it and put the loop around Caragh Lake into the system. I once measured the distance in my car, and it was 15.5 miles, but says it’s only 15 miles. Interesting, and I don’t know who’s right. Funnily enough, the 5-miles-out-and-5-miles-back route that I usually use for a 10-miler seems to be accurate both according to my car and that map.

I do have to admit that google maps are the only ones that have a picture of my house. I guess that counts for something. But as long as your database is so hopelessly outdated, guys, your product is unusable.

16 Nov: 5 miles, 46:13, 9:14 pace, avg. HR 149
17 Nov: 5 miles, 48:20, 9:40 pace, avg. HR 145

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Getting there

The runs on Tuesday and Wednesday both started in the same fashion. I got up before the alarm, got ready, opened the door, noticed the rain, wondered for a second if I should wear a long-sleeved shirt or a rain jacket, and headed off. Tuesday wasn’t too bad; it stopped after a mile or two. The main problem were my calves, both of them felt very tight within a minute from the start. The right one settled down eventually, but the left one never improved. On the positive side the HR was 5 beats lower than on Monday, even though my pace was only slower by a few seconds. I tried to slow down, especially on the (gentle) uphill sections, but was only partially successful.

The weather was worse today, it was raining again, and heavily at that. I guess I'd better get used to it, last year thought me that it does indeed rain a lot on the Irish West coast. Who would have thought! However, I didn’t mind the rain at all, I was happy enough with the way the run went. The calves were both absolutely fine, which was a massive improvement to the day before. And the heart rate is coming under control as well. I did get on the other side of 9:00 pace, but I finally managed to find my relaxed stride again, and coasted all the way out and back home. The reward was an average HR of 150, still 10 beats higher than it used to be, but also 10 beats lower than only 2 days ago. I reckon I’ll settle back very quickly, and I’m really looking forward to some faster runs. All that recovery pace is rather boring, but I realise it’s also necessary.

Looking forward, I’m now leaning more towards a Lydiard-inspired training. Marc was very kind to respond to my queries, and in doing so gave a glowing assessment of his current training regime. I know perfectly well that everyone is different, and I also know that it’s still early days, even for Marc’s training cycle, but the more I think about it the more I like that kind of training. I hope I’ll manage to stay on the good side of the intensity/injury fence. Six months ago I decided to up my training from 55 miles to 70 miles per week, and was pondering exactly the same questions. Will I be able to handle it? Will the increase be too much? Will I get injured? In addition to that, I have to ask myself, is it wise to increase the intensity yet again, just after getting used to the new level? I guess, there’s only one way to find out for sure, but I’m definitely open to suggestions from more experienced and wiser runners out there.

14 Nov: 5 miles, 44:17, 8:51 pace, avg. HR 156
15 Nov: 5 miles, 45:38, 9:07 pace, avg. HR 150

Monday, November 13, 2006

I’m back

After a rainy weekend, we all managed to get out of the house Sunday afternoon. Niamh chose the Kerry Way as location for our sojourn, the very bit that I’m looking forward to running again. The photos don’t really capture the spectacular scenery. You have to experience it in 3D.

Finally, after two weeks of leisure I’m a runner again. I was surprised how quickly I fell out of the marathon mindset and I was totally content in being a complete couch potato. I did two weeks of complete rest, I didn’t even go cycling or swimming, or do any other form of cross training. As a result, not only did I very quickly regain the 6 pounds or so I lost during the marathon, I stacked on 4 additional pound on top of that. When I reported that to Niamh she said “what do you expect, you’re not running 70 miles per week any more, but you’re still eating like you did”. Hmm. She makes it sound so logical; intelligent as well as beautiful. How lucky am I.

The other thing she said yesterday was “are you looking forward to running again?” “Yes, very much so” “So am I”. So much for her being incredibly understanding – she’s actually dying to get me out of the house again.

Yes, today’s run. After 1 mile of what I thought was a relaxed easy pace I glanced at my HRM and was shocked to see it at 158. I tried to slow down, but never got into a relaxed stride. I didn’t expect my first run back to be a walk in the park, so to speak, but I definitely didn’t think the HR would be 15 or 20 beats higher than it used to be. It didn’t get any better, and even though I felt ok for the whole duration, the average heart rate at the end was 161. I think I’ve had tempo runs at less than that. I did run a bit faster than anticipated, but still.

I’ll do the same again tomorrow, just a bit slower. I’m already looking forward to it. I can’t wait to be a proper runner again.

13 Nov: 5 miles, 44:03, 8:48 pace, avg. HR 161

Saturday, November 11, 2006

More Thoughts

I did expect a few comments on my training plans, and it’s pretty much what I expected, with one exception. The one item that worries me the most is the hill running, yet nobody even mentioned that. Funny.

I want to try out 7 days of running because I always felt better after an easy recovery day than after a day of complete rest. Besides, if I wanted to increase my mileage, the easiest way to do so was to run a few miles that used to be a big fat zero. I’ve also got an eye on future training cycles. I want to try Lydiard’s schedules one day, and despite Mike’s assurances that anyone can do it, I want to gradually ease into that kind of intensity. Upping my days from 6 to 7 seemed a logical step.

The no-breakfast rule attracted the most comments, which was predictable. The benefits are outlined in articles here and (to some extend) here. Mike wrote a thoughtful entry about this before he started on that course; though if you read it please ignore his awful mushroom analogy. Basically the idea is to train the body to run in a glycogen-depleted state. This will benefit anyone in the later stages of a marathon, and it’s of even greater benefits in an ultra. There is no way your glycogen will last, and you simply have to get used to running on empty. The biggest disadvantage is a higher risk of injury, and if I feel it doesn’t work for me, I’ll reconsider. But it did work ok during the last training cycle; I could finish 8 or 9 miles without feeling any worse than usual.

The other Mike mentioned the fact that many ultra schedules often contain 2 long runs on consecutive days. I’m aware of that, and I will consider doing that towards the end of the training cycle, closer to the race. I want to see how the other changes in my training work out before turning the screw even tighter.

Those were my plans, until yesterday that is, when I happened to read an entry by Mike’s Mystery Coach, which confused the hell out of me regarding the principles of Lydiard training. There was some discussion on the comments page afterwards, with my main contribution being “I don’t get it”. I’ll have to think about that more. I also remembered the “reduced schedule” from “Running with Lydiard”, a 7-day cycle of 60-90-60-120-60-120/180-90 minutes, which contains quite a few things I was planning anyway, like at least 2 long runs of 2 hours or more, with 3 shorter days. The one thing that stops me from latching onto that schedule is that you run the shorter runs faster than the longer runs, meaning you never get what I consider a recovery day (which to me means 5-7 miles at 9:00-ish pace or slower). That’s the opposite of what I’m used to, and it seems like a fundamental change. I think Marc is following a comparable schedule at the moment. I'll have to try and prod him for his opinion.

I’ve still got plenty of time to think about all that. I’ll start running on Monday and will gradually increase my mileage over the next few weeks. I should be reaching 75 or 80 miles around Christmas, and by then I hope to have made up my mind.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What's next

A few of you have asked what’s next. Well, I’ve actually already mentioned this once before, but I didn’t dwell on it back then because I didn’t want to lose my focus on the Dublin marathon. My next race will be the Connemara Ultra on 1st April 2007. There will be one or two smaller races between now and then, but the ultra will be the one I’m training for. At 39.3 miles it’s not much of an ultra, and unlike most ultras in America it’s a road race, not a trail one. I decided to run this a long time ago, namely when running the marathon there this spring. My thinking was along the line: it’s a very tough course, it’s impossible to PR in the marathon here, so I might as well try the ultra. I still see myself primarily as a marathon runner, and for the time being have no intentions of following in the footsteps of hardcore ultra runners like Rob or Olga. But it’s a new challenge, and one I’m looking forward to.

I’ve been following Pfitzinger’s schedule for my previous three marathons, and that worked very well for me. Unfortunately he never wrote a training schedule for an ultra. I’ve found one by Hal Higdon, but, as Rob himself commented, that’s a bit hardcore, and as preparation for a 50-miler, not really what I’m looking for. So I decided to try and create my own schedule for a change. I haven’t got anything written down, and I haven’t got any fixed plans as of yet, but I do have a few ideas I want to implement. Basically, I want to increase the intensity of my training. Not by too much, but still noticeable. Let’s see, my ideas include:

  • -Running 7 days a week. I’ve been doing 6 days most weeks in the last cycle, with two or three 7-day weeks thrown in
  • -Those 7 days should be 3 long-ish runs, 3 recovery runs, 1 fast day
  • -The fast day is either a tempo run as recommended by Pfitz, or mile repeats so beloved by Duncan
  • -At least two of the long runs should be 2 hours or more
  • -Hills. More hills than last time. Especially on the long run. Ever since I discovered the Kerry Way with its 250 meters elevation a few weeks ago I’ve been gagging to get back there. Lydiard’s boys had the Waiatarua route, I’ll have the Kerry Way.
  • -Maybe a hill phase, as prescribed by Lydiard. Maybe.
  • -Increased mileage, to maybe 80 miles.
  • -No breakfast before running. I’ve already been doing that on all runs under 10 miles (I know, I never mentioned that), now I want to try it on longer runs as well.

Before you think I’ve gone completely bonkers, rest easily. I won’t jump straight into a 7 days-80 miles-hilly-breakfast free-tempo runs week. I thought my weekly progression, once I start on Monday, will be something in the order of 30-40-50-55-60 miles, and I’ll take it from there.

I know most ultra runners do a run/walk routine. I’m obviously looking at this with wide-eyed naivety, but I think I want to try and run as much as possible of the race. It’s all on the road, as mentioned, and most of it is rolling hills. There are two major climbs, one at mile 26 and on at mile 35, both of them nearly 2 miles long. I’ll most likely end up walking those, but if at all possible I’d like to run as much of the rest as I can. Therefore I haven’t got any immediate plans on doing any walking on my long runs, but I’m open to suggestions. But remember, I still see myself as a marathon runner, and will be going back to trying to lower my PR a year from now, most likely at the next Dublin marathon. As I see this, I’m more interested in developing as a marathon runner in the longer term, rather than just focusing on one single race. If training for this will boost my endurance for any future marathons, then great.

Yesterday evening Niamh asked me when I would start running again. I haven't noticed it myself, but she thinks the cabin fever is returning. Or maybe she just wants more room in the bed in the mornings (we tend to have at least one little visitor each morning these days, usually arriving at 5:30 or so).

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Analyse This

How time flies. It’s already 8 days since Dublin, and I still haven’t got round to do an analysis of my race. Truth to be told, there isn’t much to say that I haven’t mentioned in the race report already, but let’s look at some figures more closely, shall we?

I got my times from the official results. They have split times for 10k, and the halfway mark; both of these are gun time, but if I subtract 88 seconds of each, I get my chip splits (if such a term exists). There was a timing mat at 20 miles as well, but unfortunately that time is not included in the results page. That’s a shame, because I would have been interested to calculate my pace over the last 6 miles.

The half splits are the easiest to calculate, I ran the first half in 1:46:08, and the second half in 1:42:34, giving me a negative split of about 3-and-a-half minutes, and paces of 8:06 and 7:49 respectively. I’m definitely happy with my second half of the race, going any faster simply wasn’t possible. I was right at the edge of my abilities. The chip time for the first 10k was 51:55, which gives me an average pace of 8:21. I knew that already, and it was at that point that I decided to speed up. If I calculated correctly, the pace for the next segment from 10k to 13.1 miles was 7:51, which is basically exactly the pace I had planned to go in (so much for needing a better watch, guys. Ha!). As I’ve said, I haven’t got any official time splits for smaller segments of the second half, but I remember passing the 22-mile marker at 2:55. Of course this could be anything from 2:55:00 to 2:55:59. For ease of calculation let’s assume it was 2:55:42, which would mean that I ran the last 4.2 miles in exactly 33 minutes, or 7:51 pace. From all that I can conclude that I ran the first quarter of the race at 8:21 and the rest of it quite consistently at around 7:50. Would my time have been better with a faster start? Probably, but you can never tell. Who knows, I might have run out of steam before the end. But I have learned from the race, and maybe next time I can do it without all the doubts and negativity during the first part.

Oh, and my average heart rate was 164, which equates to nearly 85% of my max (which I THINK is 193). Blimey!

I can’t quite remember where I read about it, possibly in Mike’s blog, but I definitely remember reading an article about hitting the wall. In contrast to most people’s understanding, you are not out of glycogen when you hit the wall. Instead the brain just tells you that you’re out, despite the fact that you’ve still got some reserves left. The brain doesn’t know that you might be only 2 miles from the finish line; it prematurely sends out an empty signal when the levels start running low. That means that it is still possible to keep your pace going for a while, even if you feel you can’t. I think that’s what happened to me at mile 22.5, I felt pretty bad but I still managed to keep up the pace for another 3.5 miles. That’s the part I’m most satisfied with, and it probably saved my sub-3:30 time.

I think that’s about it. I’m still not running, my blood blister still looks the same and the pain in the quads might be getting better, but I don’t want to jinx it. I was tempted to resume soccer this week, but the head won out over the heart and I’ll wait some more. I found out that there’s a 5k in Dublin on the “Sound of Music” weekend in December, so I guess that means Niamh won and I’ll criss-cross the country once more about 4 weeks from now. I won’t be able to train much for it, and some people might frown upon the idea of running a 5k just weeks into base training, but I want to take the opportunity for a race when I get one. I wished someone would organise a few races in Kerry for a change (and no, don’t start looking at me now).

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Photos Again

I had another look at that photo web site. If you click on zoom, you get a bigger image. Who would have thought it?

I feel fully recovered from the marathon, but won’t run another step for one more week, as promised. Most people recommend a break once every year, and it suits me fine to have it right now. I don’t even have that old twinge in the hamstring any more. It looks like the shock of running a marathon has cured it, but I don’t think I’ll be able to patent that particular therapy. The pain in my right quads has returned as bad as ever. Well, yesterday it was really bad in the evening; today I can hardly feel a thing, but I doubt this is the last you’ll hear about it.

Every morning I get up and see the frost outside the window, and I’m glad I don’t have to be out there in the cold. I guess in one week’s time my desire to run will be stronger than the cold outside, but until then I’ll sit snuck beside the warm radiator.

I did have to do some running for the train on Friday. The train station's car park was full and I had to park at a supermarket across town and run back towards the train station. I hadn’t intended to break my running-fast this way, but I made the train just in time.

After a mad week of travelling, we’re all safe and sound back in Caragh Lake. I have no intentions of leaving for Dublin again any time soon, except that my precious lady-wife has already agreed to drive back up four weeks from now for an evening of Sound of Music, which her mum is producing as a theatre play in her school at the moment. I allegedly agreed to come with her at some stage, which I very much doubt, because I despise that particular play/film/musical with a passion. Knowing Niamh and me, I’ll lose out again.

And as for the last two images, that’s my left foot and its glorious blood blister five days after the marathon. If it puts you off your breakfast cereal, I apologise. Blame Michelle. She asked for it. Literally. Twice.

Friday, November 03, 2006


After checking the site about 500 times in two days, they publish the photos while I'm asleep. Typical. And then the images are so minuscule you can hardly make out the person in the picture. You might think they do that on purpose to make you buy the overpriced prints instead. Oh ...

And Michelle, be careful what you ask for, or you might just get it.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Work? Me? I Don’t Think So!

You know what? You should automatically get a week off work after a marathon. It’s not is if you’d able to concentrate on work anyway, so why even pretend? I have a warning to all potential first-time marathoners out there. Some people say a marathon is a life-changing experience. Trust me, it isn’t. One or two days after you cross the line you’re back in the office, and your working day is as mundane as ever.

The last paragraph sounds much more negative than intended. As a matter of fact I’m still floating high above the ground on my 3:28-induced high, enjoying the view, and have absolutely no intentions of rejoining the Real World anytime soon. It’s just that I’m slightly distracted. I keep checking every five minutes if there are any photos posted yet (nope ... wait, let me check again … nope, still no joy) and even though some managers around here might expect the “Unprocessed Batch Report” or the “Merchant Overview Report” to be updated soon, they’ll have to be patient this week.

As for all your comments – wow! I’m overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who have been here offering their congratulations and support. Thanks go out to every single one of you. I had no idea there are so many of you out there following my adventures. It looks like you all liked the report (or, if you didn’t, you kept quiet about it). I felt it was too long and thought about publishing it in 2 stages, but decided against it (cutting in down in size was out of the question!), and, what the heck, I enjoy reading other people’s reports, so maybe some of you like reading mine.

I haven’t been running, and I won’t be doing any for a while longer. After my previous marathons I usually decided to rest for one or two weeks before starting again, and invariably it ended being one week. This time I’m committed on resting for two full weeks, no excuses, and then I’ll start again, but gradually. I deserve a bit of a break after 24 weeks of solid marathon training. I’m actually recovering pretty well, 3 days after the event I can get in and out of a chair without groaning audibly, and the only bits that are still hurting are my right quads and a massive blood blister on my left instep, and both of them are getting better by the hour. The worst bit was travelling from Dublin to Kerry by train on Tuesday. I had to cross from one platform to another in Mallow via a footbridge, and climbing down the stairs with a suitcase in hand was a challenge. It was easy to spot two other guys who had done the marathon as well, they had the same funny walk as me, and we got chatting for a bit.

Niamh and the kids are still in Nana’s and Gaga’s house in Dublin, and I will go back there on Friday. I have no idea how Niamh managed to talk me into all that travelling just after completing a marathon (Monday marathon, Tuesday train to Kerry, Friday train to Dublin, Sunday car to Kerry), but apparently I agreed at some stage (maybe I just didn’t protest loudly enough).

I’m just rambling now, so I better stop. I’ve got a few more thoughts on the marathon and my next plans, but that will have to wait for the next post. And I’ll post photos as soon as I can get my hands on them. Let me check that website again … no, still nothing. Sorry.