Monday, August 02, 2010

The Mountain And Me

According to the schedule, Friday was a rest day. I had changed things just a bit by running a race in the evening, so I was a bit nervous how my legs would hold up during the weekend. On the other hand, this was an easy weekend and I was reasonably sure I'd survive, even without a rest day.

The legs were not exactly springy when I left the house Saturday morning, but they were not too bad either, especially considering that they had been so sore 24 hours earlier. The run was only for 2.5 hours, so I ran it the old-fashioned way sans water, which saved me from carrying a bottle around with me for hours; instead I drank as much as I could stomach beforehand. I did bring a gel with me for emergencies, but brought that home untouched. I started out slowly enough to ensure that the run was always going to be easily manageable, but caught myself speeding up to 7:30 pace towards the end without even noticing. One extended lap around Caragh Lake later I was back on our driveway after 140 minute and did another short out-and-back segment to reach the time quota, which also brought up the mileage to 17.5.

Sunday started in very similar fashion, except that this time I carried a bottle of Amino drink with me and had a gel as well as a Granola bar in my short pockets. This was the first time I wore my new LD-shorts, designed for ultra runners, and testing out the gear was as much on the agenda as training my legs. The first thing I learned was that putting both the gel and the bar into the same back pocket didn't work very well, but separating them into smaller pockets was fine and within a couple of steps I had gotten used to them.

My original plan was to head over Windy Gap into Glenbeigh and turn around after 90 minutes, but as soon as I got to the first climb I saw a dirt road heading up towards Seefin mountain that I had never been on before, and curiosity won out. Two weeks ago the mountain part run of the Cappanalea Adventure Race must have gone along that route, so I figured it should be safe enough for me, even though I was not equipped for mountains, had no map and the visibility was sketchy at times. The road ended at some stage and I was left following a vague trail through boggy area. Because of the low clouds I was not able to see the mountain itself and ended going up towards my left, heading upwards. This was fine early on, but all of a sudden I realised that the territory had changed and the drop was almost vertical. Then whatever was left of the trail turned straight upwards and I decided to leave it at that, at an elevation of about 1200 feet. With my lack of equipment and my lack of knowledge of the terrain this was dangerous and I turned back before I would become a statistic. Later on, when I uploaded my data into Google Earth, I found that I had been going the wrong way anyway. On the bog, Seefin had been towards my right, not the left, and I was on the slopes of a secondary peak.

After eventually coming down the mountain, I saw that my average pace was slower than 13-minute miles. I guess crawling around a mountain side isn't the same as running on a road.

I followed my initial route and ran on the Kerry Way towards Windy Gap, depositing my bottle along the way so that I would not have to carry it all day. Pondering the fact that I was training for a 50-mile road race I decided that for the rest of my training I would stick to runnable terrain. It's one thing to get as much vertical into the training to steel the quads, it's a different matter if the footing does not allow running. While these training runs were all about time on feet, at least I wanted to spend that time running, not crawling on all fours at times.

Anyway, when I reached the pass between the mountains at Windy Gap, I saw another trail on my right, leading onto the ridge towards Seefin again and in spite of what I had decided 20 minutes earlier went up there, exploring again. The territory here was much easier, as witnessed by plenty of sheep eying me nervously, and almost runnable. Eventually, at about 1400 feet, I came across a fence blocking my way, though I could have gone across had a look at the watch not convinced me to turn back. I got one more lesson, namely that it's easy to find your way uphill but much more difficult to track back downhill, but the navigational functions of the Garmin, rudimentary as they might be, turned out be be a great help.

I picked up my bottle on the way back, only to be stopped in my tracks as I looked at the empty container, stunned. It was tightly closed and could not possibly have leaked, so someone must have taken it, either drunk the content or simply spilled it, then closed it again and put it back. Whoever the malicious wanker was, I hope next time on the trail you break your leg, arsehole. Luckily I wasn't particularly thirsty and made it back home without problems. I found it quite funny that I had covered fewer miles than the day before, despite being out there for an extra half an hour. I'll stay off the mountain for the rest of my long runs, but me and Seefin aren't finished yet with each other.

As you are probably aware, I don't get a lot of lie-ins, and I was really looking forward to one on Bank Holiday Monday. How Niamh managed not to get strangled by me after accidentally setting her alarm clock for 7:30 I'll never know, she would have deserved it no doubt. I did not manage to fall back asleep and I can't cope with staring at the ceiling for long, so I went out into the rain for a 5-mile recovery run instead. The decent feeling in my legs and the low HR told me that I didn't really need a full rest day anyway.

That was an easy weekend. The next two won't be. I'm a bit apprehensive, truth to be told.

Congratulations to Gerry and Ken for completing the 32-marathon challenge today. There are no words to do justice to their achievement.
31 Jul
17.5 miles, 2:30:40, 8:36 pace, HR 142
1 Aug
16.7 miles, 3:02:04, 10:54 pace, HR 134
2 Aug
5 miles, 43:43, 8:44 pace, HR 129


  1. Sounds like your turning into a bit of a Trail/mountain runner!
    Think one of the sheep got hold of your water bottle and had a slurp :]

  2. p.s. good job it didn't piss in it!!!

  3. You'll have to hide your bottle very well next time, either that or run with a hand-held (when I was training for ultra's that's what I used).

    As for running on the road, I wouldn't rush into it. Perhaps 4-6 weeks out I'd spend more time on the roads, but recognize that thsi will also a) slow your recovery and b) make your legs take a pounding.

    ... my 2 cents.

    As always, keep it up.

  4. Now Niamh owes you a couple of races after the alarm episode ;) Glad the shorts worked out OK.