Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Killorglin On Ice

Killorglin made it into the news both yesterday and today by being unable to reach via public transport. The bus services to Killarney, Tralee and Cahersiveen have all been cancelled due to the road conditions and we are somewhat cut off from the rest of the world. Most people still manage to drive, though.

It is Wednesday now, and the local roads have been icy and untreated for 5 days in a row. I know for sure that I’m not the only one who is really pissed off with the council at the moment; a colleague rang them yesterday to complain. She got two excuses: 1) they have run out of salt and waiting for delivery from Cork (that’s a classic Irish one) and 2) they cannot send out the road crews early in the morning due to Health and Safety issues. What kind of Kafkaesque madhouse have I inadvertently landed in?

Since I binned the long run on Monday I set the alarm very early on Tuesday. I didn’t even need it. Apparently I was worried enough about the state of the roads in the early morning that I lay awake in bed, worrying if I would be able to run 20 miles in the darkness. Shortly after 4am I got up, got dressed and headed outside, because I decided that rather than stressing out about running I’d rather do some actual running.

I was partially right because the road was very icy, and in places it was extremely icy. As I was doing my miles it occurred to me that cycling into work was not an option today, and driving was out as well. Accordingly I decided to run into work – but running in and out of work after 20 miles of training would have been madness even by my standards, and I decided to cut the training run short. One loop around the Devil’s Elbow was 5.5 miles, if I ran a second one and added to bit from and to my house it would give me about 14.5 miles, which would still enable me to commute into town (and would deliver an awesome daily mileage figure). That was the new plan, but an urgent call of nature intervened just after starting my second loop. I don’t want to get too graphic – but I turned around and ran the 2 miles towards our house in increasing desperation and just about managed it. By now I had covered slightly over 9 miles and it was 6 o’clock in the morning. As I headed out for a second time for 5 additional miles, even though I still had the commute ahead of me, it occurred to me that what I was doing right now might not be training but OCD.

One bit of the road is worth mentioning, namely the last 50-or-so meters of descent from the Devil’s Elbow road. It is very steep (easily over 10% gradient) and the S-shaped bend makes it a tricky road at the best of times. That morning it was so icy that I stopped running but kept sliding down the entire distance on my two feet. How I managed to stay upright I don’t know, and how the cars managed to negotiate that corner later that morning I really don’t know.

In contrast, the commute in and out of work is hardly worth mentioning, even though I had to be really careful with every step. As I got into town I got some comments from 2 people who struggled to stay upright themselves, but maybe running was easier than walking in those conditions. Due to the lack of showers I never really anticipated running into work and a set of wipes had to do. Out of consideration for others it won’t become my normal way of commuting, but I didn’t even get a comment. Either people are too polite to comment on one’s odour or the wipes worked better than I would have thought.

Anyway, the runs added up to 25.2 miles of running in one single day. I’m surprised by the complete absence of soreness as well as the pace of those runs. Considering that the first run was over very hilly terrain, that I not once pushed the pace and that I had to slow down considerably at times due to the roads I would not have expected to hit anywhere near 8:00 pace, but that’s what I ended up with.

I considered driving into work today, Wednesday, but Niamh categorically vetoed the idea. That’s fair enough, I had told her not to drive anywhere unless absolutely necessary, and she merely applied the same rule to me. So, running it was again, and since today had to be a recovery day after yesterday’s big mileage I binned my usual early morning training run altogether and just ran into work. I gave me a much-needed lie-in as well, and for once even the kids cooperated. They are on the Christmas holidays by now and increasingly excited. Santa’s just around the corner. I wonder what he’s got in store for me!

Merry Christmas everyone!

22 Dec
1st run: 14.25 miles, 1:54:29, 8:01 pace, HR 146
2nd run: 5.9 miles, 47:17, 8:01 pace, HR 151
3rd run: 5 miles, 40:02, 8:00 pace, HR 148
23 Dec
am: 5.1 miles, 41:48, 8:14 pace, HR 152
pm: 5 miles, 38:53, 7:46 pace, HR 154


  1. Merry Christmas to you and yours Thomas. Take care on the ice!

  2. Thomas - merry christmas you psycho!

  3. Your ability to get out there and do the mileage no matter what is incredible!

    Have a merry Christmas!

  4. Crazy stuff. I see your journey home is shorter - only in Kerry. Happy Christmas Will we be seeing you in Mallow in a few weeks?

  5. Great couple of days training in some nasty conditions.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family.