Saturday, July 31, 2010

Too Fast For Me

The main reason why I had done quarter-mile repeats on Wednesday was Friday’s race. I didn’t want to completely disgrace myself on home ground and did not want to show up completely unprepared, and Wednesday’s workout was a last-minute attempt to get the legs used to running at that speed again after weeks of 9-minute miles.

On Thursday morning I figured it might not have been such a great idea because my quads were very sore. How one can run 48+ extremely hilly miles over the weekend without problems and then suffer from 2+ miles of speedwork is beyond me, but apparently that can happen. Things had improved a bit, but not much, by Friday morning when I did a 4-miles wake-up run, by now rather worried what a race in that state might do to my legs.

Kilgobnet lies well off the main road between Killorglin and Beaufort and even some locals would have slight troubles finding it on a map. Nevertheless, it has hosted a 4-mile race for many years. The turn-out was in line with previous years, I guess about 60 runners, with maybe a dozen walkers. It was also hosted by “my” club, Star of the Laune, though in all honesty I do nothing more for them but wear the singlet from time to time and pay my fee once a year. Still, Anthony, Michael and me looked splendid together in out bright orange shirts.

The race might be small but it is fiercely competitive and the standard is very good. A decent sized group sped off from the start, and even though I remarked to John that we would catch some of them before the end, I knew that the majority would be out of reach. Phil caught up with us and he and John eventually and slowly pulled away from me, just as I caught up with Anthony. Then Michael came along, and for a few strides I was the last of the club’s runners, but I managed to pull ahead of Anthony. Michael, on the other hand, ran like a man possessed and it came as a major surprise that I had no chance whatsoever of keeping up. A glance at my Garmin told me I was doing 5:40 pace, suicidal pace as it was and speeding up even more was definitely not on the cards. All I could do was watching his bright shirt slowly but surely disappear into the distance.

After about a mile I caught up with Seamus, which is what tends to happen in all short races – he pulls away at the start and eventually I catch him. I lost my place again when a yellow singlet went past me, but after about 1.5 miles I got one place back going down the only real incline of the course where I managed to pass Humphrey. After all that jostling, we finally had a settled field.

About 1.7 miles into the race, just before the spanking new bridge that reminds us of the heady days of the Celtic Tiger when the government thought nothing of spending 1.5 million Euro on a bridge over a miniscule river that gets used by a mere handful of people (but it’s a very nice bridge indeed, that’s for sure), the race turns left again, and oh sh*t, I was heading straight into the wind without another runner that might have served as a shield anywhere near. Actually, the wind was not strong at all but it was definitely noticeable and all we could do was push on regardless.

I managed to avoid looking at the pace or HR field of the Garmin, figuring (correctly) that I would not like to see the numbers, but I could not resist temptation to sneak at the distance field every now and again. When I thought we must be about halfway through, it said 1.8 miles. When I thought it must be close to 3 miles, it said 2.5. None of that was good news, and the fact that I kept looking at it was a bad sign of my increasing desperation. A blue shirt caught up with me and for a moment I thought it was Seamus again but it was a young lad, passing me like I was standing still. For a bit I tried to hitch a ride but he was going much too fast and there was no way I could have matched his pace. 2.6 miles into the race I thought that if this were a 5k, this is where I would have to start my drive for the finish and was glad that I could stay at the present pace instead, but of course I was well aware that this was a rather short-sighted view of things. Shortly before the 3 mile mark we turned left again and things got even worse because the road went uphill now, only very gradually but enough to multiply the torture. Twice I could hear footsteps closing in one me and twice I managed to pull away again, even though even a miniscule increase in pace multiplied the perceived effort. The third time the footsteps came close I heard two different rhythms. Just great, being passed in the last mile is bad enough; having two runners catch up is even worse! A runner in a green shirt (the eventual winner of the M45 category) went passed but the other runner (Humphrey, as it turned out) faded again and I ended up in the middle between the two of them as we slowly got pulled apart again. As we got closer to Kilgobnet the yellow singlet seemed to fade ahead of me as I started my kick for the line. Unfortunately I had been in the red zone for so long that there was nothing left in the tank to increase pace by much, and even though I managed to maybe halve the gap there was no way I could have caught him, and I crossed the line in 24:27. That was 15 seconds slower than my PB, but that had been set 2 years ago during a summer of speed work, and with my present Ultra training this was better than I could have hoped for. The average HR had been 180 and for the last mile it had gotten stuck at 185 for long, uncomfortable spells, so it definitely was not for lack of trying.

Did I enjoy it? To be brutally honest …. no, not really. I loved the socialising and banter both before and after the race, but the 4 miles of the race itself felt too much like hard work and I’m not used to running at almost 6-minute pace any more. My mile splits tell a story of a less-than-ideal pacing strategy, fading with each mile, 5:47, 6:07, 6:14 and 6:16, as I clearly paid the price for trying to keep up with some faster runners early on.

Michael had finished in about 23:30, easily winning the M50 price, an absolutely astonishing performance and he was rightly pleased with it. I missed out on the M40 price to Phil (just as well, seeing as I had been passed by both the winners of the M45 and M50 categories), but managed to win a spot price in form of a pink rain suit which just happened to fit Lola very well, so the rest of the family were more than happy with my evening. After the race I stood there and chatted for a long while, including today’s winner who was very nice and modest about his abilities, pretending to be impressed by my training for the Ultra. As much as I enjoyed the running scene, I think for the actual race itself I feel more at home at Dingle.

29 Jul
5 miles, 41:40, 8:20 pace, HR 134
30 Jul
am: 4 miles, 36:20, 9:03 pace, HR 129
pm: 7 miles, including:
   Kilgobnet 4-mile race, 24:27, 6:07 pace, HR 180, ~15th place

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thank God I Did Not Forget

For some reason, 13 years ago to the day, Niamh lowered herself to my level by agreeing to be my wife for the rest of our lives. Amazingly, she still claims not to regret a thing. 13 years. It can’t be unlucky, can it?

Almost as amazing as her lack in taste (or is it sense?) is the difference in my legs compared to last week. Although I inflicted pretty much the same punishment during the weekend, the quads, which were in a sea of pain 7 days ago, are perfectly fine. Can they really have adapted so quickly? I’m a bit weary of this – after the Killarney marathon 2 weeks ago I thought my legs were super strong, only to be taught a humbling lesson one week later, and I know there is still work to do before I can confidently say that I’m prepared for 50 miles, but the signs so far are good.

My shin was still a bit sore on Monday and so I checked the mileage on the shoes I had worn on Saturday. Niggles like that are usually a sign that I need to take a pair of shoes out of rotation and indeed, there were 600 miles on those runners and the reward for several months of faithful service was a one-way trip to the bin. Luckily, I already had a replacement pair waiting in the cupboard.

6 very easy miles on Tuesday left me feeling fresh enough to attempt a speed workout this morning and I chose a set of 400s to get some proper leg speed. Since I had not run fast for a very long time and my legs were still bound to be affected from this weekend’s double workout (as well as the one from the week before, and probably the marathon from the week before that as well) I would have been perfectly happy with 90-second-repeats, but I got a nice surprise by consistently being a good bit faster than that. I did not run back-and-forwards like I normally do for short repeats, but ran along the lake instead, which meant some of the repeats were net-downhill while I had to pay back on others, which explains most of the time differences between the repeats.

91, 88, 84, 81, 85, 87, 87, 89, 84 (avg. 86.6)

I’m very happy with those numbers. I thought my fast-twitch fibres would have atrophied my now.

I also got 2 new shorts, which will hopefully go some way of solving my problem of bringing stuff along for long runs because they have no less than 5 pockets each. I haven’t tried them out on a long run yet, that will come on the weekend, but I was definitely impressed by the prompt delivery from the states. Some companies are good like that and if their shorts are as good as their service, I will be delighted.
27 Jul
6.1 miles, 54:26, 8:55 pace, HR 127
28 Jul
8 miles, 1:00:08. 7:31 pace, HR 151
incl. 9x400 repeats (400 rest)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The End of Solitude

I had no idea I would miss them so much, but I was counting down the hours until my loved ones' return to Kerry. Though, after dealing with the boys' non-stop fighting for the rest of the day, I was wondering what exactly I had been missing. Reality has returned very quickly.

I had gotten up reasonably early on Saturday to give myself the chance to have some porridge for breakfast and 90 minutes time to digest it before hitting the road and still be home before the rest of the family. The initial weekend weather forecast had been pretty good but the closer we got to Saturday the worse the predictions became and it was indeed a dreary and drizzly morning. At about 9:30 I left home to the last of the raindrops but the low cloud cover remained. I could see the hills I was heading for covered in white fluff but every time I got there the clouds had lifted just high enough to avoid my presence. The road went up and down a few times until I arrived at Loch Acoose, about 8 miles from home, on the Kerry Way, going the other direction to last week. This was right at the foot of the highest peaks of the Reeks, which contain 9 of the 10 highest mountains in Ireland (with the missing one, Mount Brandon, not far away in Dingle), but unfortunately due to the low clouds the views were nowhere near as good as they could have been.

Since I had run out of water last week, I carried a little pack with a water bladder on my back. I had gotten that 2 or 3 years ago very cheaply in one those German discount stores and it had resided unused in the back of my cupboard ever since. You get what you pay for, the pack kept rubbing against my back, I was sweating madly and I was worried about it chafing, but it was still better than running out of water halfway through a 4-hours run.

I initially missed the turn-off from the main road, but from reading the map I had a pretty good idea where it should be, so I turned around and went down the road that I thought was the right one, even though I still could not find a signpost, no matter how hard I looked. As it turned out, the road was indeed the right one and I did spot the marker on my way back. It felt like running into the wildest and most remote part of the country but I was surprised to find not just one but two farms along the way. As stunning as the surroundings are, I could not imagine living up there, taking self-reliance pretty much to its reasonable limits. Running further upstream the little Gearhanagour Stream, the road turned into a trail, the trail turned into a bog and then I was surrounded on all sides by a massive cliff, hundreds of feet high and no visible way out. Luckily this was the one section of the Kerry Way that was well signposted and I followed a series of markers, scrambling up the almost vertical face, on all fours at times. Progress was so slow that several times the Garmin's autopause feature kicked in even though I was genuinely pressing on. Eventually, and almost exactly 2 hours into the run, I finally emerged at the top of a saddle, looking down the other way into the breathtakingly beautiful Bridia valley, though in all honesty I would not fancy living there. Right at the foot of Carrauntoohill, this really is wild countryside. I took plenty of photos, but be it the low light, the crappy camera or lack of skill of its operator, not one of the photos came out the way I hoped.

Last week, 40 miles down the other direction of the Kerry Way, I had turned around at a sign. To my surprise, I found an equivalent one here. Had I carried some money with me, I would have gone down to sample the delights of the Cookie Monster's Cafe (come on, how could you possibly resist that in the middle of nowhere), put as I was literally penniless I turned around and scrambled down the rock face towards Loch Acoose again.


I felt reasonably good, but my right shin was hurting, and the longer I got on the more it hurt until I was in agony, especially on the downhill stretches. Since I had 1200 feet of elevation to lose from the turnaround point to my home, there were a slot of downhills to do, and it was not the most fun I've ever had, truth to be told. I also was getting hungry, the bowl of porridge had been a long time ago, and eventually I gave in and ate the Powerbar that I had brought along. The last time I had one of those, probably 5 years ago, they had tasted awful and were really hard to chew, but it seems like things have improved; that one was really yummy and easy to eat. I still would not dream of actually buying that kind of artificial stuff. I had gotten it in a goody bag of one of my races. I tried to remember where, and it might even have been last year's Boston marathon, over 17 months ago! In that case it would almost certainly been out of date, but it sat well in my stomach and sustained me for the rest of my run. I didn't touch the gels I had brought along with me.

Eventually it dawned on me that running downhill was faster than uphill, so I would be home in less than 4 hours, so I took a slightly longer route coming down the last mountain, which also avoided the steepest part of the road, for which my shin was thankful for, and I was back home a couple of minutes past the 4 hours mark. This would have been sufficient, but the Garmin showed 25.17 miles and I decided, having run so far I might as well turn this into a marathon and headed out for a few more minutes until I had 26.41 miles on the clock.

Sunday morning was similar to Saturday, except that I also had to prepare breakfast for the kids, and again I was out of the house at 9:30, 90 minutes after a bowl of porridge. Thankfully the legs felt much better than they had a week ago, but that's not to say it was an easy run. It was hard enough going, but at least this time I did not have to stop myself from moaning in pain on the downhill stretches. The quads were in much better shape than 7 days ago. If that was due to the slightly lower Saturday mileage, the fact that I had gotten a break from running while climbing up and down the cliff at the halfway point, the slower pace, because my legs were already stronger than before, or if it was a combination of some or all of these points I don't know, but I appreciated the difference. I headed around Caragh Lake again but as I neared the 10 miles mark decided to up the ante slightly and headed on the Kerry Way on a punishing climb up towards the slopes of Seefin Mountain, following the tracks until I got closer to home rather than using the usual route of the road alongside the lake. I was rewarded with beautiful views but also screaming hamstrings. Last week it had been the quads that were giving out, this time it was definitely the back of the legs that complained vociferously. I took one gel at that point, but shortly afterwards I passed some blackberry bushes with almost ripe fruits, the first ones of the year. That was good enough for me and I interrupted my run and greedily ate about 2 dozen of them. Following the road down the other side of the mountain I reached our driveway after about 2 hours 25 minutes. After a quick top-up of the bottle with some water I was ready for more and headed towards Ard-na-Sidhe. I was unsure which way to go but must have decided that I had not punished myself sufficiently yet and ran up the road on the side of Devil's Elbow that I occasionally use for hill sprints. There were more views to be gotten from the picnic spot, but eventually I had enough and headed for home, which I reached once more after 3 hours 20 minutes. That was still 10 minutes short of the original target, but since I had done 15 minutes extra on Saturday I could not muster the energy to add another mile and stumbled through the door, by now completely exhausted. This was slightly shorter than last week but with a lot more vertical gain and loss, and at least as tiring.

Niamh, in her immaculate timing, had pancakes waiting for me. Has any runner ever had a better wife? Now I definitely remember what I had been missing all week. Welcome back, honey! Don't ever leave me behind again!

Nutrition:
Saturday: 1 Amino + 1 Powerbar = 386 cal,
weight pre-run 151.2, post-run 149.4 (minus 1.8 lbs)

Sunday: 1 Amino + 1 gel + blackberries = 263 cal,
weight pre-run 150.6, post-run 146.2 (minus 4.4 lbs, oops)
24 Jul
26.41 miles, 4:20:36, 9:53 pace, HR 135
25 Jul
21.88 miles, 3:21:37, 9:13 pace, HR 139

Friday, July 23, 2010

Home Alone

I had been racking my brain who the person from the Rás na Ríochta had been who had recognised me last Saturday near Windy Gap, until I looked up the results from said race to find the name Peter Walsh – of course, the guy I had run with for most of the final 13 miles in Connemara, back in April! Thank God that’s solved, it has really been bothering me.

This blog entry should be as short as my recent runs, so Ewen will rejoice. The legs were still a bit on the sore side on Thursday, but I decided to at least try and get some faster miles under my belt for this week. It was really windy and initially I decided to do the Ard-na-Sidhe road because of it, but then changed my mind and took on the elements on the Caragh Lake road. The faster part came in the middle of my 8-mile run in the form of 2x1.5 miles. The first part seemed ok with a pace of 6:36, which wasn’t exactly brilliant but as good as it would ever get with my weary legs. However, this was with the wind on my back and also slightly downhill. Obviously I had to pay for that on the return journey and the corresponding stretch only yielded 6:56 pace, fighting against the blustery wind.

It turned into a beautiful day and I could not resist another run after work in the bright sunshine. Since the family were still absent, I kinda felt obligated to do at least one double workout during the week, so I ran for 5 miles, just because I could. It’s not often that I have the opportunity. It did strike me that it would have made more sense to run easy in the morning and do the workout in the evening, but by that time it was too late. I checked the Garmin after 2 miles and even though I could have sworn I had run about 9-minute-miles up to then, the display begged to differ and I was close to 8-minute pace. I did slow down a bit for the rest of the run.

I was quite surprised to feel some fatigue in the legs this morning. I blame the evening run, with the halved rest period, rather than the tempo miles. This was not really a problem today, but could come back to bite me tomorrow for my next long run. I admit to being a bit apprehensive about it. My legs don’t feel recovered from the last weekend, and to put some more punishment on them feels risky. But I will try and stay close to the schedule and that means 4 hours tomorrow and 3.5 hours on Sunday.

The family will be back tomorrow. The house has started to feel really quiet without them. It's too big for one person. I guess it's a sign that I really miss them.

Talking about missing, I will miss tomorrow's 5k in Killarney that is run annually as part of the Killarney Summerfest. That's the first time in 5 year that I won't be there, and I'm sorry I won't see a few friends that are bound to be on the start line. It just does not fit into my training. The long runs don't leave room for a 5k race in-between.
22 Jul
am: 8 miles, 59:46, 7:28 pace, HR 154
      incl. 2x1.5 miles @ 6:36, 6:56 pace
pm: 5 miles, 41:22, 8:14 pace, HR 136
23 Jul
5 miles, 43:12, 8:38 pace, HR 134

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pain Killers

After finishing my run on Sunday, my back was really sore, and every time I made the wrong movement I was almost wincing in pain. It must have been caused by running in a tired state so that my form had badly deteriorated, hunched over like a octogenarian. It really had me worried for a while, but on Monday that had already gone away, after just one night’s sleep.

Unsurprisingly, that was not the end of pain; for the last 3 days I have paid for my long weekend with a pair of very sore legs. At least the pain is completely symmetrical, both legs sending identical symptoms from the same muscles. Looking at a that picture, the Vastus Medialis is the worst affected, with the Vastus Lateralis coming a fairly close second. The Stick has seen a lot of action again, but my quads were so sore initially that I was wincing almost before it even touched my legs.

My usual test for leg soreness is walking down the staircase at work. On Monday, I had to hold on to the handrails for support. At first I was wondering why I was as sore as after a marathon, then I remembered that not only had I done more than a marathon on Saturday, it also included 3 mountain passes, followed by more of the same on Sunday. Of course I was sore!

By Tuesday I managed to walk down without holding on, though it still hurt a lot. Today, Wednesday, there is just some residue of soreness left, so recovery is going well. Which is good, because I intend to do more of the same the following weekend. Eventually, or so I hope, my quads will be rebuilt with sufficient strength to sustain long, steep downhill miles during the first third of an Ultra, which is exactly what lies in wait in Dingle.

Unsurprisingly, the training schedule went out of the window over the last 3 days. I took Monday off completely (actually, that was according to schedule) and only did 5 miles on Tuesday, starting out on my tippitoes initially and then waiting for the endorphins to kick in, which took 3 miles. Wednesday morning was similar, but already a good bit easier. It’s a wonderful feeling when the body-internal drugs kick in and take the pain away. I could get hooked on that. Oh, hang on …
20 Jul
5 miles, 43:36, 8:43 pace, HR 131
21 Jul
6.1 miles, 53:31, 8:46 pace, HR 130

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Training Camp

It was Saturday morning, exactly 10 o’clock that I waved Niamh and the kids good-bye. They were on their way to Dublin for an entire week, leaving me to fend on my own for 9 days. Freed from the shackles of family life, I fully intend on doing what every other married man with children would do in the same situation: I will run a lot!*

This week will be my Dingle Ultra training camp, but unfortunately and highly inconveniently I still have to go to work from Monday to Friday. I still have one wife, four children, one mortgage and one racing habit to maintain, and neither of those comes cheap.

As Maia very rightly pointed out, “Daddy has to stay home to do running and working.” She might only be 2, but she’s clearly clued up.

Anyway, 5 minutes after the car had gone down the driveway I followed along the same route myself. I was keen to get going because the weather forecast was not promising and as I was heading into the mountains I intended to make the best of the last few dry hours. I headed up to the Kerry Way, the closest point of which is just over 2 miles from home, and headed towards Windy Gap. I was completely caught by surprise by the fact that the Rás na Ríochta adventure race was on at the same time and I encountered a few dozen mountain bikers over the next 4 miles, first the ones from the mini-version, but shortly after crossing my first mountain pass** of the day at Windy Gap the leaders of the real race came along. I was completely taken by surprise by the fact that the second rider greeted me with “hello Thomas, marathon man”, and he was gone before I had recovered from the shock of being recognised. I had only barely been aware that the race would be on that day and since I never looked at the race map I did not know that I would be running along the course. I would have chosen a different route had I known. In the end it didn’t really matter and I didn’t interfere with anyone’s race.

Anyway, after Windy Gap the road dropped all the way down to sea level, first on a very stony trail, then on a small road. After Glenbeigh and Rosbeigh there was a mile of single track before another couple of miles on the road uphill to Mountain Stage and then the best part of the day, a few miles along the slopes of Drung Hill, 800 feet above the sea (and 700 feet above the main road) with views to die for, along the Iveragh peninsula and across the bay towards Dingle. The photos really don’t do it more than 1% justice. Oh yes, I did carry a camera in my waist pack. After last Saturday I decided not to pile too much stuff into my short pockets any more and brought a little waist pack, and since there was some extra space I brought the camera along with me. Don’t expect it to be a regular occurrence, though. I even had my mobile with me and sent a few pictures to Niamh while she was on her journey.

Anyway, after crossing another mountain pass beyond Drung and about 15 miles and 2:18 into the run I reached a little sign that I took as the turnaround point. I intended to cut out Windy Gap on my way home, and the shorter return journey should give me roughly 4 hours of running, or so I thought. My main problem was that despite rationing my drink, my only bottle was now empty. Unless I took a detour I was at least 5 miles from the next house and I was getting rather thirsty, so eventually I re-filled my bottle from a stream. I had encountered plenty of water, but with loads of sheep within the vicinity I did not trust the water. This little stream came out of a forest straight down the mountain and I decided to take the risk. The yellow-brownish colour was not too appealing, but the peat surface meant this in itself was not a bad sign. I retraced my footsteps back towards Mountain Stage and then towards Glenbeigh. I was getting really tired now. It probably was not just the miles but the vertical gains and drops that killed my quads and I was really struggling. A gel revived me sufficiently to make it to Glenbeigh, but I had to fight some serious nausea; I wondered if the water was responsible for that. When I finally made it into Glenbeigh itself I stopped by the Tower Hotel where they graciously re-filled my (empty again) bottle. I was so thirsty that I finished two-thirds of it before I had even left the premises, but decided that I would make the last 4 miles home without another top-up. I surprisingly managed to tune into The Zone for the rest of the run and made it home after 27.5 miles in 4:17:08, about 20 of them off-road, completely and utterly exhausted and aching just about everywhere. I stepped on the scales to find that my weight had dropped from 152.8 pounds pre-run to 148, a loss of just under 5 pounds. Considering that you can expect to lose 4 pounds from depleted glycogen stores alone, this was better than expected, about 3% weight loss. After feeling so dehydrated I had expected a much greater loss. I was no good for anything for the rest of the day, just slumped on the sofa watching the Tour de France. These guys are spending 4+ hours on the bike day after day, but at least their sport is not weight bearing. I did wonder how I was supposed to run again tomorrow, aching as I was all over. In hindsight I had started out too fast, but what’s done is done.

I slept less than expected and was up well before 8 o’clock, only to find that the weather forecast had been wrong and the rain had not moved on overnight. I did plenty of housework (yes, I’m a domesticated man, me) despite my sore legs, and by 10:30 got fed up with waiting for better conditions and got ready to head out again. The plan for the weekend had been 4 hours on Saturday and 3:30 on Sunday, but my legs were so sore I decided to cut it short. However, to ensure that I would not take it too easy I did the loop around Caragh Lake, which would give me 16.5 miles without the opportunity of bailing out early, which I guessed would be a good thing. I briefly wondered if it was really such a good idea heading out with already weary legs, but of course that was pretty much the entire point of today’s run. I took it very slowly, not even doing 9-minute miles. By mile 3 I reached the base of the first hill and surprisingly it got easier from then on as I tuned into The Zone again, where I have spent a surprising amount of time recently. The weather didn’t help, the wind blew the rain straight into my face but I hardly noticed. The uphills were fine, but the legs were on fire on the downhills and I really had to stop myself from moaning loudly. A flatter route would have been much easier today, but again, putting myself through the wringer was the entire point of that run. I felt really bad after about 11 miles, but a gel at that point had amazing effects and revived me so much that I didn’t even mind running out of drink again a few miles short of home.

As soon as I got home I emptied an entire bottle of sports drink in one go. Then I got into the house, refilled my water bottle … and headed out for another 6 miles. I’m not sure what possessed me at that point, but I thought it would be neat to cover 50 miles over the weekend and I was 6 miles short. On the way to the turnaround point I was surprised to see that my pace had declined all the way to 10-minute miles, but I guess for an Ultra runner that’s not a bad pace to train in. After turning around 3 miles later I decided to end my dead man’s shuffle and stride out a bit more, which immediately dropped the pace to about 8:30, very slowly accelerating further. I was still hurting, but it felt good to feel like a runner again. I had noticed that my form had deteriorated badly whenever I was not concentrating; I was running hunched over, taking short steps, looking like an old man. It took conscious effort to straighten up, but over the last few miles I could feel the form improving again. The last mile was much faster again as I could smell the barn, and even the downhills hurt a lot less that way. The schedule had suggested running the last hour at marathon pace, but that was cloud cuckoo land nonsense and never going to happen. I surprised myself by managing the last mile at that pace, but that was it.

These were by far the hardest back-to-back training runs I’ve ever done but surprisingly I felt much better than the day before. A week ago I had gotten cocky by running almost 30 miles feeling really good and this weekend has brought me back down to earth. Ultra running is tough, after all it’s supposed to be hard, and a lesson in humility was well needed. Somehow I don’t think the mile repeats are going to happen next week. Instead I’ll try and recover over the next 5 days to do it all over again. Eventually I hope to get the hang of it.

Btw, in case someone is interested, I deliberately kept the nutrition on the low side to get my body used to running in a depleted state. On Saturday I took 500 ml of Amino, about 800 ml of water and 2 gels (318 calories). On Sunday I took 500 ml of Amino, 500 ml of sports drink, 500 ml of water and one gel (373 calories).

Weight: Saturday: pre-run 152.8, post-run 148
Sunday: pre-run 150, post-run 148.2

* no, there’s no need to comment on that particular point
** yes, I use the term rather loosely. Anything over 1000 feet is a mountain pass here.

17 Jul
27.5 miles, 4:17:08, 9:21 pace, HR 147
18 Jul
22.67 miles, 3:31:30, 9:19 pace, HR 140

Friday, July 16, 2010

Another Short One for Ewen’s Benefit

One thing I learnt on Saturday was that I like running long more than running fast. I guess that’s why I’m drawn to Ultras. Cruising along at 8:30 pace I felt like I could continue doing so all day. That’s obviously not the case, but I did cover almost 30 miles without even feeling particularly tired. It bodes well for Dingle, but there’s more to it. I wonder if I have lost my competitive edge as far as races up to the marathon are concerned. That does seem to happen to most runners as they get older, but I was not aware that I might have reached the stage already. I still want to chase a better marathon time, but will I have the willpower to do all those tempo runs and intervals week after week, when my first thought of each and every one of these days will be “oh no, speedwork!”?

I only did one run over the last 2 days, namely a set of mile repeats on Thursday. I did the 10-mile pace runs I had missed out on Tuesday. It was very windy, so I changed my original plan of running alongside my usual route and went towards Ard-na-Sidhe instead. The trees there don’t provide much shelter, but enough to take the worst out of it. The repeats were a bit uneven; against the wind was s good bit slower than the other way, unsurprisingly. Running back and forwards on the same stretch of road I met a couple walking in the rain 4 times and another fella 3 times. It was starting to get embarrassing, but thankfully I was done before I our roads crossed yet another time.

I didn’t set the alarm for today, just resolved to go running if I woke up in time, which I expected to do. I didn’t. The rest day, as stated in the schedule, did indeed happen.

Yesterday evening when cycling home from work, my rear tire exploded. Thankfully it happened close to home and on an uphill stretch. I don’t want to think how it might have ended had it happened 30 seconds earlier on the opposing downhill stretch, so I guess I was lucky. I even had all the needed replacement parts at home and I managed to fix it without swearing loudly (Niamh usually insists I fix the bike out of earshot of the children). My mechanic skills must be improving.

After a dry and sunny first half of the year, the wind and rain have returned, and everyone is resigned to it already. It feels like business as usual, after the last 3 horrible, rainy summers we’ve had. Just a bit of sunshine every now and again makes such a difference. I really hope the present set of rain fronts is just temporary. Ironically, the rest of Europe is experiencing a massive heat wave. It’s just here that we seem to be in a different world altogether.
15 Jul
8 miles, 58:32, 7:18 pace, HR 160
4x1 mile @ 6:39, 6:29, 6:29, 6:26

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Moving Swiftly On

Running a marathon at 8:21 pace has the distinctive advantage of not requiring any real time for recovery. I went out for 5 miles on Sunday feeling perfectly fine, but I did spare a thought for Gerry and Ken; running another marathon would not have been at the top of my wish list that day; it reinforced the magnitude of their undertaking and I am even more in awe of the lads now. I’m glad to read that things are improving for Ken; after Saturday I had great doubts if he would be able to continue, but it looks like he’s pulling through.

I followed the weekend with another easy run on Monday, and then I started thinking about my training. Ever since Connemara in April I have not been training but recovering, first from that Ultra and then from the Cork marathon. With less than 8 weeks until Dingle, it is high time to get serious again. I found a training schedule on Runner’s World, possibly the first ever piece of information from that source that I have looked at (not true, I liked the core workout videos as well). I printed it out and hung it on my wall, though of course I’m jumping in halfway through the program. But since I have just managed to run a marathon without feeling tired I think I should be fit enough to keep up.

Niamh took one look at the schedule and said “I’m going to be a running widow!”. That’s true to some part; for the first time since taking up running 6 years ago I intend to do my long runs on the weekend. Running 5-hour long runs before work just isn’t feasible, not even for me. But Niamh and the kids will be in Dublin for the next 2 weekends and there will be a taper later on, so the really long family-abandoning runs will be limited to about 4 weekends, which I can justify, both to Niamh and to myself.

Then she took a second look and theatrically proclaimed “What’s this? Do my eyes deceive me? What’s the meaning of the word ‘rest’?”, at which point I obviously pointed out that this schedule would be only a rough guideline, not to be followed slavishly. Actually, now looking at it in a bit more detail, it isn’t all that impressive. The weekdays are pretty much the same all the way through. Instead of following to the letter I will try and listen to my body and adapt training accordingly.

Tuesday called for a set of repeats, and since I had not looked at the program properly I thought it would be miles at marathon pace when they should have been at 10-mile pace. Never mind, 3 days after a marathon this felt fast enough as it was. I did 7 repeats, and the target was my (Garmin-adjusted) pace from the Cork marathon of 7:15. What I did was 7:04, 7:07, 7:00, 7:07, 7:20, 7:20, 6:58, which was just a tad fast, but the differences between each repeat closely match the elevation profile and the effort was very constant. I might do a few faster miles tomorrow to make up for the mix-up but will see how the legs feel first.

I followed this up with another easy run this morning. The thought of a couple of long runs on the weekend ensured that I kept the effort very, very easy. That’s a good thing, and I hope I can keep this going for all of my recovery runs. I suspect they have often been too fast in the past, leading to less than ideal workouts. Then again, I also suspect this is a very common mistake amongst runners.

My resting HR was 43 this morning, a good bit higher than the 39 I measured 2 weeks ago, but then again I DID run a marathon at the weekend. With that in mind, I think this is a pretty good reading.
12 Jul
6.1 miles, 51:18, 8:25 pace, HR 134
13 Jul
10 miles, 1:15:05, 7:30 pace, HR 153
incl. 7 miles @ 7:04,7:07,7:00,7:07,7:20,7:20,6:58
14 Jul
5 miles, 43:04, 8:37 pace, HR 133

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Almost A Walk In The Park

Marathon Day started in highly unusual fashion – by waking up in my own bed. I had set the alarm, but of course I did not need it. By 6:30 I was wide awake, by 7 I had my breakfast, by 8 I was out on the bike, cycling the 5 miles to Killorglin from where I would catch the bus to Killarney. The fact that there was a public transport option available at just the right time was nothing short of a miracle and an opportunity too good to miss, which saved Niamh from putting our entire brood into the car early in the morning and hanging around Killarney for 5 hours with 4 increasingly cranky children.

It had been dry early on but it started raining just as I got to Killarney. Oh dear. I signed up at the Brehon hotel and then the 32-marathon guys themselves, Ken and Gerry, made an appearance and had a chat with every one of us. Gerry even recognised me (“you are that guy with that web site!”), which was a nice start. Just as we were leaving the hotel to get to the start line, who would show up to start the race but Colm “Gooch” Cooper, holder of 4 All-Ireland medals and 5 All Stars, at which point I turned into drooling fanboi and had my picture taken with him. The day was alway going to be great after that. The only disappointment was the low turn-out. There were only 6 marathon runners, including Ken and Gerry, and maybe 10 for the half, though that included the Boston Rose for next month's Rose of Tralee festival, so at least we definitely had our fair share of celebrities.


The course was to be 6 loops in Killarney National Park with on out-and-back spur at the start to make up the miles, 3 loops for the half marathon. One guy took off at sub-7 minute mile pace and I was rather surprised to see him wearing a full marathon number. I followed behind, jogging easily, or so it seemed, but when I checked my Garmin it said 7:15, so I put the breaks on. I knew I was in for the wrath of Mike if I would finish below 3:30 and settled into 8:00 pace. For the first 3 or 4 miles I struggled to find my pace. Every time I checked the Garmin it was way out of whack, either too slow or (usually) too fast. Eventually I figured that the present pace displayed seemed to be a bit off. While the distance and the average pace seemed to be spot on as far as I could tell, the present pace seemed to fluctuate half a minute per mile in either direction. Maybe the trees or the thick clouds interfered with the GPS signal, because I felt I was running far more evenly than the figures on the Garmin suggested. Eventually I managed to wean myself off the display and tuned into The Zone. Running became a lot easier from that point.

I was not sure what it would feel like to run 6 loops. Before the start I had chatted to Nora, who had come up with the course, and she told me she had gotten the idea from the Portumna marathon and Ultra two weeks ago. While it would obviously not be suited for a race with loads of runners, for a small crowd like today it was perfect. Running short loops of just over 4 miles meant you always had a mini-target shortly ahead of you and it helped cutting the marathon distance into smaller, much more manageable chunks. The main problem, as far as writing a race report is concerned, is that everything tends to melt together and it's difficult to remember on which loop any particular occurrence happened.

Most of the lap was completely flat but there was a hill towards the end where we had to climb about 150 feet over half a mile. Easy enough to do once, but after 6 loops this would be tiring.

I was wearing my glasses because I had been worried about missing a turn but it was easy enough, especially since I'm familiar with Killarney National Park. In the heavy rain they were a complete pain so I took them off and put them into my bag after the first lap, losing maybe a minute in the process.

I was carrying two gels and one container with salt tablets in my shorts pocket, and it was rather cramped in there. When I picked up my first salt tablet I had real troubles putting everything back into place. It was impossible while running and I had to walk for a while trying to sort things out. It didn't feel quite right, but everything seemed to be back in place.

After each lap I pressed the lap button on my Garmin, but shortly after starting the third lap I realised I had just hit the stop button rather than the lap one. Luckily I had noticed it in time – I had covered less than 0.1 miles without recording, about half a minute, and the distance displayed was still reasonably accurate.

I noticed that my cruising speed that I had fallen into was close to 8:30 pace. This was a bit surprising, I had expected it to be closer to 8:00, considering how slow that pace had felt in Connemara early on. But I was happy enough cruising along at that pace. This was a training run for me with Dingle the target and I sure was not going to jeopardise that by running too fast today.

With so few of us on the course, I was running completely on my own and after completing the first lap I could not see anyone either in front or the back of me. This re-enforced the feeling of this as a training run. It sure did not feel like a race, comfortably jogging through the park on my own as I was.

Halfway through the third lap I tried to take my second salt tablet but noticed that the cover of my container had come off and my salt tablets had pretty much dissolved in the rain. I took whatever was left, but sorting out the mess took a while; I even had to stop for a while. When I resumed running I noticed that the average pace for that lap had dropped to all the way to 9:10. I must have messed around for well over a minute when I should have been running. It's a lesson I'll definitely take on-board: either get shorts with two pockets, carry a waist pack, or take less stuff with me on my run, but stop cramping stuff into too small a space. By the end of the lap the pace had gone back to 8:53, but it was to be by far the slowest lap of the day.

For the rest of the day I resolved to run and forget about anything else. This worked remarkably well and I spent the next few hours tuned into The Zone running like a machine.

The fourth lap went by in a flash. I was a bit worried about getting tired. The last 2 weeks I had done 2 runs of 15 miles and both times I had gotten really tired after about 13 and then was really glad to be done after 15. Today this would not do. But I passed 13 miles feeling perfectly fresh, 15 miles came and went, and by the end of the fourth lap I was on 17 miles already and still no real sign of fatigue. Someone else must have felt just that though, because as soon as I started lap 5 I saw the runner that had stormed off at the start right on front of me. Within a quarter mile we were level and started chatting. His story was quite remarkable. Cork, 5 weeks ago had been his first marathon. One week ago he had run in Longford, the first marathon of the 32-marathon series, and now was his third ever marathon, just 5 weeks after the first one (and he was planning two more over the next 2 weeks). I told him he would make life a lot easier on himself by starting slower rather than taking off at sub-3 pace, but he insisted he liked putting time into the bank early on so that he would be able to slow down at mile 20. Ok then. Anyway, we shared the road for the next 3 miles, doing about 8:25 pace, which was probably a good bit faster than what he had been doing in the miles before, otherwise I would not have caught up. I did notice that he was breathing a lot harder than I was, though. When we reached the hill towards the end of the loop he told me to go ahead, and I was on my own again.

I could hardly believe I was on my last lap already and I was marveling how well I felt. It also helped that I caught up with two other runners, who of course were still on their fifth lap and they both looked to be suffering a bit, having covered more than 20 miles at that stage. Welcome to the marathon, I suppose.

I should mention a bit about Gerry and Ken, the two real heroes who were on their mission to run 32 consecutive marathons, completing the 9th one that day. Gerry was looking good and fit, but Ken had developed knee pains halfway through the seventh day and had to walk the second half. Yesterday had been worse and he had to walk basically all of the Cork stage. Today, in Kerry, he had hoped for better things but sadly that turned out not to be the case. I first lapped him walking towards the end of my second lap, then again at the fourth and once more not even halfway through my last lap, at which stage he was not even halfway through. What was amazing was that he still had a big smile on his face each time we met, even though he must have been going through a very tough patch. It got worse, he required a physio session after his third lap and he later soldiered on, taking over nine hours to slowly hobble his way through the entire course. He certainly was very determined to keep going.

As for myself, I must have accelerated on my last lap because the pace dropped under 8:00 all of a sudden. I was not even aware I was doing this; I guess I could smell the barn. But there was one thing on my mind. If the half marathon distance had required 3 laps and one extra spur, who come the full marathon would be 6 laps and one spur? This did not make sense, and one look at the Garmin plus a small calculation made it clear that a second spur was needed for the whole distance. Indeed, when I finished the last lap the Garmin showed 25.22 miles and even though I had missed out a short bit when I had inadvertently stopped the watch after 2 laps, this was well short. I had a short discussion with two guys helping out with the organisation, and eventually we all agreed that one extra mile was required, so I did exactly that. By the time I was back again I had done 26.35 miles in 3:39:43. The exact time isn't important; I had run about half a minute with the clock turned off earlier on, but then again I had spent at least as much talking to the guys after lap 6, when the clock kept ticking, so we called that my final time. The official timing device had sadly given up its ghost a long time ago, apparently recharging the battery last night had not worked properly.

Lap 1: 8:08 pace
Lap 2: 8:34 pace
Lap 3: 8:53 pace
Lap 4: 8:31 pace
Lap 5: 8:27 pace
Lap 6: 7:50 pace
Extra: 7:38 pace

I changed my top, and then informed the next runner, Tomas, that he should complete the spur for a second time to cover the whole marathon distance, which he agreed because it had been playing on his mind as well. Then I headed out back on the loop until I came across Gerry and we finished his marathon running in together. He also had spent the last hour thinking about how the distance could not be right after only 6 laps (funny how we all had the same thing on our minds when there was not much else to think about for hours), and he had his own Garmin to confirm that, so he did the final out-and-back section as well. We had a good chat; I told him my backstory on how I had come to live in Ireland and about the upcoming Dingle race, which he might do as well. After all, he will be well trained for an Ultra after all that. I also told him about my cousin who is autistic, which obviously was close to our hearts, the whole 32-marathon trip being a fund raiser for Irish Autism Action. When I mentioned Ken's troubles he told me how they had spent an entire year preparing for this project; after all that work neither of them were going to give up without a really good fight.

video

Eventually we were done and Niamh and the kids just happened to be there. I told the kids that I had come first; Lola was delighted, the boys were more like “finally he's won a marathon, it has taken more than enough attempts”. I didn't tell them that it might have been the slowest winning time for a marathon in history. Some things are better left untold.

It was a true honour to share one marathon with those amazing guys attempting a great feat. They even had a goody bag with a medal, t-shirt and certificate, showing how much thought they had put into this, trying to have every one of the 32 marathons just like a real race. I had not expected any of this and it was a really nice touch. Then they went far beyond what you could expect at your average marathon by organising a massage as well as a shower. Sadly I did not have time for the first because family duty called but the latter was gratefully received, and I was fresh for the rest of the day, which was very much a family affair and included cinema and Fun Fair, and a much lighter wallet on the way home.

With the marathon and my subsequent miles together with Gerry I had covered just over 29.5 miles today, and very much enjoyed every single one of them. This was the easiest and most enjoyable marathon I have ever run, and I am now looking forward to Dingle more than ever.
9 Jul
5 miles, 41:48, 8:21 pace, HR 137
10 Jul
29.5+ miles, including:
Kerry section of the 32-marathons challenge 3:39:43, 8:21 pace, HR 149
11 Jul
5 miles, 41:46, 8:21 pace, HR 137

Thursday, July 08, 2010

No Taper

Even though I have done 26+ mile training runs before, at the beginning of the week I was getting worried about the state of my legs. My right achilles hurt. My left hamstring hurt a lot. Then my left shins gave an acute pain. Niamh suggested it might be shin splints (where the heck did she pick up that term?), but I didn’t think so, it was too close to the ankle. I wore ankle straps for Tuesday’s run, but they probably were not necessary, and the problem has not re-occurred. But my left calf muscle is very, very sore in one particular spot, and if I make the wrong movement, it starts cramping.

All of these problems do not really bother me when I’m running, only in the intervening times (maybe I should run for 24 hours a day then. Ok, maybe not). Actually, the achilles tends to be a bit sore for the first mile of each run, and then I completely forget about it.

Anyway, time is the best healer, and with 36 hours to go until the marathon, I’m feeling better. All of the issues are still there, but they all seem to be receding. There is nothing magic about the marathon distance, and if you run it slowly enough you make it through even if you’re not rested and tapered. Nobody knows that better than the guys from the 32-marathon challenge, who have just completed their 7th marathon in a row, and yet they’re still only at the beginning.

The weather forecast is getting worse by the minute, a few days ago it didn’t seem too bad but now they are all predicting various amounts of rain. Then again, it won’t be any worse than the Cork marathon a month ago. Right now I’m really looking forward to this, despite all the niggles and tiredness.

As for my most recent training, I ran 15 miles on Tuesday around Caragh Lake. The legs were incredibly stiff and tired early on, so I ran a few fast strides to loosen them up, which seemed to work. I was quite tired over the last 2 miles, which is not a great sign for Saturday, but I’ll manage.

6 very slow miles followed on Wednesday, but the HR was a good bit higher than what I would have expected for such a slow run. It had me worried, but today’s (Thursday) run was a tad faster but with a lower HR, so things are moving in the right direction. My guess is I was tired from Tuesday's run (as well as last week's mileage). I know this is not a taper, but I always intended to train through that marathon.

I will take Saturday as a marker how I’m coping with long distance training runs. There will have to be a lot more of them before Dingle, and the feedback from Saturday will serve as a good indicator how I can handle the long miles.
6 Jul
15 miles, 1:58:47, 7:55 pace, HR 149
7 Jul
6.1 miles, 52:02, 8:32 pace, HR 140
8 Jul
8 miles, 1:06:09, 8:16 pace, HR 139

Monday, July 05, 2010

Back Home

Scott published a great picture a few weeks ago, and at the moment I can really empathise. I don’t have his excuse of running 200+ km per week, but I did have a rather active week of running and holidays, and I’m now catching up on recovery. I’m already starting back on my iron supplements. They always have a positive effect when I feel tired. Low iron levels have been an issue ever since I was a kid. I guess, being on Niamh’s vegetarian diet does not make it easier either.

Saturday and Sunday had been relatively easy days and I had planned a longer run this morning but felt much too tired last night; I re-set the alarm for another short and easy run, the third in a row. Considering that I’m going to run a marathon 5 days from now, a longer outing was probably pushing my luck more than required anyway, even if it’s a training marathon.

It did question why I ran the Cork marathon, but looking at it now it was definitely a good idea. If next week had been my only marathon of the year I most likely would not have been able to resist the temptation of racing it, and 8 weeks before Dingle this would almost certainly have been disastrous. Instead, with the racing fever well and truly out of my system, I am now looking forward to a comfortable training run with aid stations. Oh the luxury!

Having said that, I am well short of my target on the charity front, so if you had planned on donating a few Euro to the cause but had accidentally forgotten about it in the meantime, now is your chance to do so. Oh, and thanks to all the great guys and gals who did get out their credit card, this is all highly appreciated. That reminds me, the 32-marathon challenge has started already, you can check out the website for a progress report so far.

As this marathon will be a training run, I am not really tapering but will take it easy the last few days beforehand anyway. The weather seems on the verge of changing. We had a great summer so far, at least by Irish standards, but after the last 3 years we were more than due a few sunny weeks. Let’s hope that was not it as far as the summer was concerned, though. The kids are turning into lunatics when they’re house bound.

3 Jul
6.5 miles, 53:05, 8:10 pace, HR 141
4 Jul
8 miles, 1:02:28, 7:48 pace, HR 144
5 Jul
6.1 miles, 49:00, 8:02 pace, HR 142
incl. 8x100 strides

Friday, July 02, 2010

Offline

Did you even notice that this blog had not been updated for a few days?


You'll never find me on a beach holiday. That's my idea of hell, even if the alternative includes a few hours in a car filled with a bunch of children who don't even need an excuse to start a fight and a toilet-training, accident-prone toddler.


Since the present state of my finances does not allow me to load all 6 family members onto a plane, we had no choice but to stay on our own island. Despite Niamh's sister's misgivings, who seemed convinced that we were going to be shot at any moment, we crossed the border into The North.


Now that its citizens have mostly stopped blowing each other to smithereens over minor differences in the interpretation of an otherwise identical Faith, the place is well worthy visiting. We rented a house sans Internet connection for 5 days just outside Carrickfergus, less than 10 miles outside Belfast. This served as a useful base for excursions all over the place; we went as far North as Giant's Causeway, which was spectacular, though Maia was disappointed that the Giant himself was not there, and as far South as Castlewellan Forest Park, where I was disappointed that the other giants (Redwood Trees) were not as big as I had imagined. It looks like I'll have to go all the way to California to see them properly after all (what's the date for Big Sur again?).


Of course I brought my running gear. I visited Knockagh Monument on Monday, which was only a 10+ mile round trip, and the few hundred feet elevation gain were well worth the stunning view. I brought the family up there a couple of days later, this time by car. On Tuesday I ran towards Woodburn Forest, which was only logged rather than burned, despite the name. Apparently there are 13 kilometres of forest walks in there and of course I got hopelessly lost trying to follow some trails which then disappeared and left me bushwhacking for a while. I re-visited the place the following day but stayed on the forests road to get more of a run rather than a cross-country adventure. Both of these runs were a bit over 10 miles; a long run was not on the cards. I did not want to get up at silly o'clock during my holidays and could not stay out too long with the rest of the family waiting for me to get on with the rest of the day. Having said that, I did walk at least 5 miles on both days in addition to these runs in various parts of the country. Natural, rural, tourist attractions tend to require the use of your own legs, which of course suits me just fine and the kids, after they got over their initial moaning, enjoyed it too – no need to deny it. A 15 mile run on Friday morning to Whitehead was my final excursion. This was flatter than the other ones but right along an at times very busy road.

On Tuesday evening, Niamh asked me if I had had still gone running for 10 miles had I known how much walking I would do, which of course I confirmed. She seemed surprised.

We were only here for 5 days, but we have seen so many spectacular sights that I can't pick a favourite. Giant's Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede suspension bridge had been on my to-do list for years. Glenariff is so beautiful I cannot understand how it is not world famous. Castlewellan and Tollymore Forest parks are perfect places for a family trip. Carrickfergus Castle would have been the kids' favourite had it not been for Belfast's W5 museum, which kept us occupied for over 5 hours. Armagh's Planetarium got favourable reviews as well. We also saw Newgrange and a few other things I must have forgotten to mention.

The major downside was driving through Belfast, which we found very stressful. They manage to combine the inept Irish signposting with the aggressive British driving style. However, once we found that me navigating and Niamh driving works a lot better than the other way round, things improved even on that front. Oh, and supermarket prices are so much cheaper in the North, it pisses me off just how much we are getting ripped off by the same major chain down South. Petrol prices, on the other hand, are eye watering on the Northern side of the border, so I guess we all have valid reasons for complaints.

It was a great holiday, and we're in Dublin now, which serves as a useful stop to break the long journey into 2 parts. Now I need some rest and recovery. That's what the office is for, isn't it?
28 Jun
10.3 miles, 1:22:17, 7:59 pace, HR 148
29 Jun
11 miles, 1:32:35, 8:25 pace, HR 147
30 Jun
13 miles, 1:44:16, 8:01 pace, HR 152
1 Jul
6.2 miles, 51:38, 8:20 pace, HR 139
2 Jul
15 miles, 1:58:41, 7:54 pace, HR 147