Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Remarkably Accurate Song Title

T: “Niamh, you know the song by the Beautiful South? [starts singing (badly)] It could be Rotterdam or anywhere, Liverpool or Rome?”
N: “Yes ….”
T: “Well, which one would you choose?” [she’s gonna love this]
N: “…”
T: “except for Liverpool, say Barcelona” [she’s gonna melt any second now]
N: [rolls eyes] “I can see a marathon coming on …”
T: *sigh* [I guess she knows me by now]

The reason for this scene was a talk I had with Catriona from Feet First in Killarney about the local marathon that I had been hearing about, but not for quite a while. She said she would not do it unless it can be done really well, and due to lack of support it looks like it won’t be held until 2012. It’s a view I totally agree with, and in a way I’m relieved because it really sounds like the potential marathon is in very capable hands, and once it comes round it will be well worth participating.

The non-event for 2011 had not come entirely unexpected, and I had already scouted out some suitable replacements, hence my list for Niamh. For a minute I considered just giving her a destination rather than letting her choose, because I figured given the alternative options Rotterdam might not make the cut, and that’s supposed to be the fastest course. Then the family instincts won out. Apparently she's already checked flights for Barcelona, but she’s also mentioned Rome more than once. I’ll give her a week to decide. Rome is on the same weekend Killarney would have been, 20 March, while Barcelona is a fortnight earlier, which means the next training phases would have to be pushed forward by the same amount. For the time being base training is unaffected.

The reason I had the opportunity to talk to Catriona was the second race of the Killarney 5k series. I had cut it extremely fine. After dropping off the twins in Tralee for their course, Niamh and the two younger ones went to a play centre. This would have been fine, but Niamh insisted on getting a newspaper, which for some unfathomable reason took 15 minutes, which meant I left for Killarney 15 minutes later than I should have. I parked the car at the first reasonably suitable spot, ran to the race HQ to pick up the number (I’m pretty sure I was the last person to get a number), ran back to the car to get dressed and then ran to the start, all at a rather frantic pace, to arrive there at 10:59 for a 11:00 start, but it wasn’t quite as close as it sounds because this is Kerry and the race started the obligatory 5 minutes late.

The start was a bit confusing because cars kept coming down the road where we were supposed to be running. Normally a Garda car stops these from coming, but while there was indeed a Garda car there, it was stationed behind us rather than in front, which did not make much sense to me. Never mind, we went off, even if half of us seemed to be taken by surprise by the start.

My orders from the coach are to race no faster than 6:10 – 6:15 pace (or slower), which will allow my peak to be higher during the peaking phase, when it actually counts. Therefore I took it easy right from the start, and when I thought I was still going a little bit fast I relaxed even more. So what did I see on the Garmin when I checked it after the first quarter mile? 5:30. Oops! Time to relax a lot more.

A few people did go past me, but before the first mile was up I had started overtaking people myself, and that would continue all the way to the end as I kept my pace while everyone else slowed down. I could not resist a bit of trash talk when I caught up to Seamus (“come on you lazy b*st*rd, this is supposed to be a race”), for which he would have been entitled to give me a good kick up the arse, but either he managed to resist or he missed. Three weeks ago, at the first race of the series I had slowed down far too much in the second mile, this time I managed to hold my pace very well as I ran past runner after runner. I even had the strength for a good finishing kick, which isn’t easy on that wicked uphill finish. Normally I am already toast by the time I get there, this time I managed to tune into a whole new gear as I started hearing steps coming up from behind and instead of losing a place I gained one as I seemed to be flying up the hill.

My Garmin always used to show a slightly short course, but we were always told that it had been measured plenty of times. I (and a few others) noticed that for this race series the start had been moved back a bit. John Walshe told me that Catriona had re-measured the course, and the results speak for themselves. This means that my true 5k PB is probably about 15 seconds slower than what it says on the right-hand side of my web site, but since it’s been there for 2 years already I’m not going to change it. Instead I’ll just have to try and beat it one day.

Doing 15 miles today felt really good. I was a bit apprehensive beforehand, but as soon as I was on my way I felt great. Long runs are a great form of meditation. I can literally run for hours with hardly a conscious thought. It felt good to be back in that groove again, and the loop around Caragh Lake is just as scenic as ever.

13 Nov
10 miles, including:
Killarney 5k, race 2. 19:13, 6:11 pace, HR 175, 25th place
14 Nov
15 miles, 1:58:10, 7:52 pace, HR 148

Weekly Mileage: 75+


  1. Barca is a great marathon, better than Rome as it is all within the city and passes all the landmarks whereas Rome goes out of the city and then back in. Rome also finishes on the cobbles (which hurt).

  2. a few people i know who ran rome all say the cobbles were a big issue (painfully so for some) but otherwise they say it's a good marathon. shame you can't run pisa instead on dec 19 (which is the same week as juve v city). of course that had nothing whatsoever to do with my signing-up:)

  3. I should have a coach that tells me to run no faster than ..... and ..... Listening to myself just leads to disappointment!

    If I had a vote I'd go with Barcelona too as am a bit partial to tapas!

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  5. I can never ease off during a race no matter how much I tell myself beforehand that it is for the best. Adrenaline, baby, adrenaline!

  6. Does coach think a 5k PB this early in your training could throw out a training plan (even if you weren't targeting that particular race and you were just running as hard as you could that day). I'm interested because I understood that a hard 5k was good for pushing out your lactic threshold regardless of a particular period in your training schedule.