Sunday, January 10, 2010

Caragh Lake is a Winter Wonderland

As I was running along the icy roads yesterday morning I decided I like the present conditions after all. Sure, you have to watch your step like a hawk, but give me clear cold days like this anytime compared to the constant dreary rain we got over the last few winters. The country might have come to a standstill, they have run out of grit and salt (which makes no difference to us anyway – our road never got treated), the schools are closed for an extra week because the roads are too dangerous, but we all manage and the kids just love it. So, I decided to snap out of the misery and enjoy running at –4C/25F degrees in the sunshine instead.

On Thursday’s run I had noticed that the road along the western side of the lake was in better condition than most, so I used it for my run on Friday. Hill sprints are out at the moment because I can’t think of an ice-free hill, but a fartlek session was possible. I timed the accelerations so that I would be taking it easy on the icy spots (the locations of which I knew in advance) and it went pretty well – I didn’t slip once. The road was even more quiet than usual – just like on Thursday I only saw one single car during the entire workout.

In contrast, Saturday’s run was in broad daylight and for once I could actually see the surface I was running on. I brought my old camera with me, Mike style, and took a few photos. The frequent stops whenever I saw a pretty scene meant the run was rather disrupted, but it was only a short, easy recovery run anyway. I turned around at the first really icy spot, three miles away from home, and wondered how I had managed to cross it yesterday twice in the darkness without breaking my neck. I also saw ice floating on Caragh Lake (third last photo), which surprised me.

Since the forecast for Sunday was ominous we took the opportunity to drive the kids to Killarney where the ice rink was open for the final weekend. We had promised Lola to go there (like every year) and I knew she would be very disappointed if we broke that. Niamh was slightly hesitant at first but eventually agreed, because they had been housebound all week and needed a change of scenery. I used the hour while they were skating to make myself sparse and went to the pool instead (“I knew you were going to suggest that!” – Niamh) for 45 minutes of immersion.

The overnight snowstorm did not happen in Kerry, but we awoke to a landscape thickly covered in frost. As soon as the kids were fed I put on my trainers and headed out, anxious to get in a few miles while the roads were still usable. For some reason I felt very well and the miles just flew by. Last summer I frequently ran the Cromane loop on Sundays, trying to get the pace below 6:52, the pace required for a sub-3 marathon, but never quite got there. Today I made that without even trying particularly hard. I guess the lower mileage has left my legs in fresher condition, but considering I’m training for an Ultra, this may end up costly. I guess I’ll find out 13 weeks from now.

Today would have been the Mallow race, but considering that it has started snowing heavily and the roads are a death trap, I’m rather glad I did not try getting there. You can’t change the weather, and the hour I just spent outside with the kids in the snow was way more valuable. It has been snowing for a couple of hours by now and there is no sign of it stopping. We’ll have another hour outside before the end of the day, I'm sure, but how I’ll get to work tomorrow morning (or if I’ll be able to run) is anyone’s guess. Well, I’m just enjoying the time right now, and won’t worry about the rest until I’m faced with it.
8 Jan
10+ miles, 1:17:03, 7:41 pace, HR 149
including 8x120 sec accelerations
9 Jan
am: 6+ miles, 48:34, 8:03 pace, HR 138
pm: 45 minutes swimming
10 Jan
10.5 miles, 1:12:08, 6:52 pace. HR 160

Weekly Mileage: 55+ (5 runs), 2 x bike, 1 x swim


  1. Gorgeous, Thomas! It's kind of nice to give in and enjoy what winter has to offer. Your kids will remember it all as a grand adventure. If you have to run in to work tomorrow, remember the screws in the shoes idea! Of course, that means you've got to have the right type on hand since you can't zip out to the store to get them. Yak trax are good too - I got some last year at the end of our two week snow and have not had a chance to use them since!

  2. It's not 'Mike style' unless there's a video with jokes ;)

    Amazing how a little snow turns a bleak landscape into a wondrous one.

  3. Perhaps not racing was a blessing, it'll give you extra time to build up some easy miles with taxing your body. How's that for a silver lining?

    Nice photos, happy trails...