Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Best Laid Plans

Sometimes things just don’t go the way you planned. Sunday had, against all forecasts, turned into a stunningly beautiful day with plenty of sunshine. I had proudly taken my new bike for a spin (ok, not so proudly. It had been one of the cheapest bikes in the shop), and grandly announced that from Monday I’d be cycling to work again. Instead the weather turned decidedly nasty overnight, and on Monday morning I was once again battling gale force winds on my run. It meant shelving the Caragh Lake loop yet another time and settling for the Devil’s Elbow, but I guess those climbs will be good for me in the long term. It was rather hard going, and after 12 miles I definitely felt the effort in my legs. That was the low point though; somehow I started feeling better for the rest of the way. Since I had asked Niamh to once again drive me into work (it was much too windy for cycling), I ran home again in the evening, all 5 miles against a nasty headwind.

The conditions weren’t much better today, and my legs felt decidedly heavy. Initially I had left myself enough time for 13 miles, but with the sluggish pace I had to shorten the distance if I wanted to be home in time, and I eventually decided to cut it earlier than strictly necessary after 11 miles, because by then I had enough of the torture. Bad days are part of running, and I’m bound to feel the effect of all those recent miles in my legs. The main reason why I had wanted to do 13 miles today is that tomorrow is an enforced easy day. I have a doctor’s appointment to check my blood, and I’m not allowed to eat after midnight. Since running a lot of miles is not advisable if you can’t fuel up again afterwards, I’ll probably settle for something like 6 miles, which I think I’ll be able to survive. Niamh suggested not running at all, and when I mentioned my desire for 5 or 6 miles, she wryly suggested that I’ve got an addiction problem. Still, I reckon it’s not a bad addiction to have.

Coming Sunday there would be a nice race, the 10k in Adare where I broke sub-40 last year. I would have loved to go there again, but I realised that it coincides with Mother’s Day. Back in December I struck a deal with Niamh, if she lets me go she can have a night out with her friends in return. I subsequently got a bad conscience about leaving Niamh alone with 4 children on Mother’s Day when she should be pampered instead, and I told her I’d forget about the race. She’s still allowed to have her night out. Yes, I’m a lousy negotiator. Of course, this all happened before I got sick, and now the race would come too early for me anyway. I don’t think I have run faster than 7:00 pace at all this year, at least not on even grounds.

But at least the postman delivered my race number for the 10 miler in Ballycotton, which is on the Sunday after that. It’s still too early to run a fast race, but it might provide an excellent training stimulus to my rusted legs. I’ve been thinking about cutting the mileage before the race, but decided against it. It would be silly to compromise the ultra training for a preparation race.

Since I had been feeling much more optimistic over the last few days, I’ve signed up for 2 more races. One is the Bantry Bay half marathon, 4 weeks after the ultra, and the other one is the Cork City marathon, another 4 weeks later. I have no idea how the legs will take the punishment of running a marathon just 8 weeks after an ultra, but I’m keen to find out. I know at least one runner who has run his marathon PR shortly after an ultra, and while this might not happen to me, I think it’s worth a try.
25 Feb
am:15 miles, 2:03:54, 8:15 pace, HR 148
pm: 5 miles, 42:06, 8:25 pace, HR 146
26 Feb
11.1 miles, 1:36:30, 8:41 pace, HR 143 incl. 10x100 strides


  1. The ultra could set you up for a good marathon if it goes well, and you have a good recovery.

    The 10k PB will have to wait - you should keep in the good books with Niamh. I noticed your weekly mileage is back up there - 93!

  2. Last summer I ran my fastest marathon to date just 30 days after setting a new 80K PB. I think with your training you will have no problem in Cork.

  3. Looks like we'll be seeing a lot of each other this season, starting with Ballycotton.

    Connemara is the only one on your list that I will not be running.
    Certainly the endurance training that the ultra will give you will be of great benefit in Cork.