Saturday, December 28, 2013

This Was My Year

2013 had started in rather spectacular fashion on New Year's Day by breaking 18 minutes for the 5k for the first time ever. While I don't particularly care about my 5k time, I was rather chuffed to be breaking into 17 territory and subsequently managed to lower that time twice more over the next few weeks, picking up a nice prize from the Gneeveguilla  race series in the process. Another big PB followed in the Ballycotton 10 miler, incidentally also lowering my 5 miles and 10k PBs, though that was overshadowed by missing out on a top-100 finisher t-shirts by 5 seconds/3 places. However, the big prize for Spring 2013 had always been the Tralee marathon where I more than made up for the missing t-shirt by not only setting a new marathon PB but also winning the M40 trophy, which has taken pride of place on the shelf ever since.

Focus shifted immediately to the Connemara 100, but I managed to place 3rd in Killarney and Portumna, run 10 marathons in 10 days and a new 4-mile PB during that training, the latter one especially coming as a complete surprise because I thought my legs would be sluggish as hell after all those marathons and no speed work. Connemara went very well, reaching my dream time of sub-17, but coming second once more. With that the running year was basically done, it took a few months to recover from running 100 miles on the road and a couple of marathons in Dublin (running as a pacer) and Clonakilty (running as an idiot) sandwiched yet another second place in Sixmilebridge.

I ran new PBs over 5k, 4 miles, 10 miles, marathon, 50k and 100 miles (plus unofficial PB split times over 5 miles and 10k), which at the age of 43 and after 9 years of running is a rather spectacular return. Things could only have been topped if one or two of those second or third places had turned into victories, but you can't have everything I suppose.

One particular highlight was running my 50th marathon, with the chairman of the Marathon Club handing me my medal. I was chuffed to bits by that one.


Since Christmas I have run 10 easy miles on St. Stephens Day, giving the Farranfore race a miss as I did not think a sudden load of anaerobic miles would do much for my only just emerging conditioning. Then the weather turned very nasty indeed. We've had an unprecedented series of storms hitting us, but all others hit land further up North. For this one Kerry took the brunt. Apart from a very interrupted night of sleep we actually got away lightly in Caragh Lake, there was no real damage when half the county was without power, but running in the morning was still out, it was too dangerous. I did manage to catch up at lunchtime and do another 10 miles, but the pace and HR were a bit too high without me noticing. I think running later in the day had something to do with it, it always throws out my gauge.

That might have had some impact on Saturday's run where I tried to do 8 miles at a higher effort, my one faster run of the week. The legs were a little bit sluggish at first but I thought I had the effort very much under control. When I checked the Garmin afterwards I found that once again I had run a little bit too hard, something I tend to do when not paying attention (or, in that case, only running by feel without paying attention to the watch). I'll get it right one day.

26 Dec
10 miles, 1:17:10, 7:43 pace, HR 144
27 Dec
10 miles, 1:13:21, 7:20 pace, HR 151
28 Dec
10 miles, 1:11:09, 7:06 pace, HR 157
   incl. 8 miles @ 6:56 pace (HR 160)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Stormy Christmas

It's been a stormy few days, but so far I have managed to get a run in every day.

Sunday was reasonably okay, but I preferred the somewhat sheltered road past Ard-na-Sidhe to the totally exposed Caragh Lake one. Then I had the brain wave that I could a full loop on the Devil's Elbow, which might be as exposed as it gets up in the hills but the wind would be mainly at my back. I managed the steep climb well enough but then I heard a loud thunder coming from somewhere behind me and got a bit scared as I was far away from any shelter and being caught in a thunderstorm out in the hills isn't a good position to be in. Luckily, this one single thunder turned out to be the only one of its kind and all I had to deal with was a hail storm, which was painful but not dangerous. I was very pleased by how well the legs felt and how easily they had managed the long steep climb.

Monday morning was very dark but the wind was manageable once more, at least in Ard-na-Sidhe. I ran the out-and-back route twice, which added up to 10 miles. Conditions changed every five minutes, from calm, to very gusty, with rain, hail and even sleet all making a few appearances. Once again, the feeling in the legs was by far the best part of the run.

When I put out my running gear on Monday evening I somewhat doubted that I would be able to run the following morning as the weather forecast was quite frightening with the weather already rather wild and a bad storm on its way. However, things were much brighter in the morning - well, it was pitch dark, but the wind was definitely a lot calmer than what I had feared and running was never in doubt. I did the same route as the day before, and once more, even though I'm sounding like a broken record (wait, do people still know what a broken record actually is/was??),  the best part was the feeling in the legs as the entire run was completely effortless. The HR was a bit high (I eventually remembered my ancient hard plastic Garmin HR strap and dug it out, it seems to work), though that was not really reflected in subjective effort which was entirely comfortable and, you know, just ... right.

I guess I have reached that point in training when it doesn't feel like training any more because running is becoming so easy.

The contrast to Wednesday, Christmas, could not have been greater, with a lovely crisp blue sky greeting us all. I ran later than usual because obviously Santa took precedence, and I was astonished by the amount of presents on display; the kids must have been much better behaved throughout the year than I had realised! Anyway, around 12 o'clock I managed to get an hour for myself that I used for some hill repeats. It was my first workout of that kind for a long time and I decided to err on the side of caution. You should always leave it be with at least 1 or 2 more repeats in you, and I followed that advice. Besides, I am still concerned about my Achilles, while it has been fine for a good while now I really do not want to aggravate it again, so the rather modest number of 9 repeats, 1 minute each, was all that was on the menu. Obviously, this is going to increase in the coming weeks.

Happy Christmas everyone. I hope Santa has been good for you.
22 Dec
13+ miles, 1:38:12, 7:30 pace, HR 152 (est)
23 Dec
10 miles, 1:15:33, 7:33 pace, HR 147
24 Dec
10 miles, 1:14:16, 7:26 pace, HR 148
25 Dec
6.59ish miles, 54:51, 8:22 pace, HR 150
   incl. 9 x 60 sec hill repeats

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy Solstice

Make no mistake, I am not complaining about the weather. We had a great summer followed by a nice autumn and we have had nothing to moan about (not that that would stop some people, of course). The last few days, however, have been rather wild and it's almost as if nature had decided to throw all the usual autumn/winter storms at us at once.

Right now it really seems to pay off that I always run in the morning. Two out of the last three days were mostly fine in the morning but running would have been too dangerous in the evenings. I know from experience that when the weather chart says "gale", I can handle it. "Strong gale" is rather uncomfortable but still doable, but "storm" means it's better to stay at home. Thankfully the latter is usually rare but has been seen all too often the last few days. One saving grace is that Kerry is in the South of Ireland - the North got hit a lot worse.

Thursday night did not sound promising but the storm abated just in time for my run and I got away lightly, apart from a hail shower over the last half mile, which inadvertently made a good training opportunity for a sprint finish; you never know when the need for that should arise again. As I laid out my clothes for Friday I doubted if I would be able to use them but once again the conditions in the morning were better than forecast and I made full use of it. For the first time in a few weeks I added a few faster miles to the mix. The windy conditions and the lack of an HRM made pacing a tricky affair. I did end up running just a little bit harder than would have been optimal, but the legs felt very good.

It was pretty much the same on Saturday with the conditions once more windy but definitely manageable, something that would not have been the case a couple of hours later. I half expected the legs to be sluggish after Friday's faster miles but instead they felt fantastic and I got that "effortlessly gliding over the tarmac" feeling.

It was really dark this morning; of course, it was the shortest day of the year. It will get brighter soon enough, and with the Christmas holidays just ahead, things will get easier again.

I'm not feeling 100 percent at the moment, I had a sore throat on a few occasions and am lacking just a little bit of energy during the day, but it does not seem to have any noticeable effect on my running. With half the office coughing all day and the kids bringing home all kinds of germs from school, the situation is not entirely surprising. As long as it doesn't get any worse I'll be able to handle it (just like the weather, then).

The HRM is worse than ever before, it really seems to be beyond help and the HR graphs are all over the place. I have ordered a new unit and am awaiting its arrival with bated breath, though I don't think I'll get my hands on it before Christmas.

I haven't decided yet if I'll do any races over the Christmas/New Year period. Even if I do, I have no expectations after not doing any speed work, so that would all be mostly for fun.

19 Dec
8 miles, 1:01:16, 7:39 pace, HR 142 (est)
20 Dec
10 miles, 1:10:55, 7:05 pace, HR 158 (est)
   incl. 8 miles @ 6:59 pace
21 Dec
10 miles, 1:15:53, 7:35 pace, HR 146 (est)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


My lower back started hurting on Sunday after sleeping in an awkward position (blame that damn cat of ours). It got really bad on Monday after sitting in the office chair for too many hours, which just goes to show how bad and unnatural the sitting position is. Luckily, things got gradually better and today I'm able to bend down again. Even more luckily, running was not affected. In fact, exercise was the one thing that helped the most, both running and cycling provided some much needed relief. Maybe that's the universe's punishment for never getting injured while running (yeah I know, that's just asking for trouble).

The weather has been very changeable this week, but so far I have managed to escape the worst. I did fear for today's run after watching the weather forecast but in fact I managed to run right between two major storm fronts during the night and around lunch time. Things might still get awkward later this week and the weekend.

I thought I might have been able to fix the HRM on my own after spending some considerable time cleaning up the rusty bits on the transmitter unit and getting some believable data on Monday and Tuesday, but unfortunately it all went wonky again on Wednesday and I am back to square one. The HR values this week are all more or less educated guesses, and any values since the Clonakilty marathon are suspect. Like I said, it does not really impact training at the moment, but I'm lacking a little bit of feedback that I would prefer to have. Silly technology. Why don't things just work?

Meanwhile I have been busy planning for next year. I have signed up for several races for 2014, ranging from 10 miles to 24 hours, the latter being the big A goal for next year of course. My running schedule is mostly decided but I am still undecided if I should do one or two other things as well like the Dingle Adventure Race, which I think was a very good training effort before the Bangor 24 hours race in 2012. I still have plenty of time to make up my mind. I'll be busy, that's for sure.
16 Dec
8 miles, 1:01:15, 7:39 pace, HR 144
17 Dec
8+ miles, 1:01:11, 7:35 pace, HR 146
18 Dec
10 miles, 1:17:45, 7:46 pace, HR 144

Sunday, December 15, 2013

No Heart (Rate)

It has to be said, we've had some very good weather here in Ireland over the last few months. Not only did we have an actual summer with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees (it wasn't the weather's fault that I had to run 10 marathons during that time), we also had a very good autumn which was cold but dry earlier on and warm but dry later. Even the one storm we had blew itself out overnight just for the Dublin marathon to go ahead unhindered.

It was never going to last forever, so I won't be complaining too much about the present conditions, challenging and not entirely without danger as they may be. It was pretty wild out there yesterday, the combination of very heavy gale force winds with pouring rain always makes for interesting runs. I managed to go half a mile down the road towards Caragh Lake before admitting temporary defeat; the gale whipping the wind straight into my face actually hurt and I didn't fancy spending an entire hour like this. So I turned around and headed for Ard-na-Sidhe, where the trees provide a decent amount of shelter, though the amount of wooden debris on the road showed that things could potentially go very wrong here if you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, though I think the actual chance of being hit by a falling branch is quite small.

Anyway, Niamh wasn't too happy with me going out and let me know so on my return. "Not many runners would go out into weather like this". "No, and they won't be running 220 km in July as a result". Good comeback you have to admit, though I am not sure the case is closed to be honest.

I'm fine and unhurt, but the same cannot be said about my HRM, which is well and truly banjaxed. It has been acting up ever since the Clonakilty marathon. On previous occasions a change of battery has always fixed similar problems, but no such luck this time. I have a sneaking suspicion that the problem is with the transmitter rather than the HR strap as I found some rust on the unit, but will have to confirm that first. While it does not affect my training right now, I do use HR data to gauge my state of recovery, so I want that fixed sooner rather than later. And I can't do an evaluation without a working HRM, so that's on hold at the moment.

Yesterday I looked up the cross country results from 2 weeks ago and I finished in a rather modest 77th position out of 127 finishers. I can't remember the last time I finished in the bottom half of a field, but I guess it might have been the one other time I tried my hand at cross country, which confirms the fish out of water feeling that comes with me running through mud. Mind, despite the poor finishing position I still managed to be one of the points scorers for Kerry, which strikes me as slightly bizarre.

12 Dec
5+ miles, 40:27, 7:55 pace, HR 137
13 Dec
8 miles, 1:02:44, 7:50 pace, HR 141
14 Dec
8 miles, 1:02:31, 7:48 pace
15 Dec
10 miles, 1:18:11, 7:49 pace, HR 147
Weekly Mileage: 46+

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Blame It On Killarney

It’s always good for a distance runner to be confident. In fact, it is absolutely crucial. However, there is a fine line between being confident and delusional.

It’s all Killarney’s fault. Of course. When I ran 2:56 there in May I learned that I was now able to easily run a sub-3 marathon in a training run without having to do the usual marathony things like race pace runs or tapering or any such like.

When I saw that last year’s first M40 runner in Clonakilty had run 3:05 I figured I had an excellent chance of taking that position myself. There was no prize money for age groups, which meant I wasn’t going to win any prizes, but that’s not the point anyway.

What I had not considered was the fact that I had been in excellent shape following the Tralee marathon in March, and it was that fitness that got me the 2:56 in Killarney. I’m not in the same shape right now – even literally, seeing as I weigh 8 pounds more now (the diet begins after New Year). In the meantime I have run things like 10 marathons in 10 days and a 100 mile run, which means that I can now easily run a marathon whenever I want to, even in 20 day intervals, but not particularly fast ones.

The marathon distance needs to be respected, and if you start the first half in a delusional state you will learn a lesson or two in the second half. Smart people learn that lesson and benefit from it. Others repeat the same mistake another 20 days later. Doh!

The other lesson, also one I have encountered before, is that I cannot trust myself when I have a race number pinned onto my chest. I was well aware that I was running faster than I should during the first few miles, but there is an obvious difference between rationally knowing what one should do, and what one actually does when the adrenaline is flowing. I know I can run easy marathons – if I carry a pacer’s balloon. If I run entirely for myself, things are obviously different. How that will work out next March in Tralee might be interesting.

So, right now I see myself as a runner who can knock out a 3:10 marathon whenever he likes, but it’s probably not a good idea to test how long that theory would hold. I’ll skip any longer races for the next 10 weeks.

First things first, and in this case that obviously means recovery, even I managed to work that out. I have run 5 very easy miles every morning since the marathon and it took until Wednesday for the soreness in the quads to go away. Until Thursday I’m a single dad with 2 kids at home, so training would have taken a back seat anyway.

9 Dec
5 miles, 43:02, 8:36 pace, HR 131
10 Dec
5 miles, 42:04, 8:25 pace, HR 135
11 Dec
5 miles, 41:22, 8:16 pace, HR 148

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Run Like An Idiot

The weekend was always going to be a tough one. Work Christmas party on Friday, a marathon on Saturday and Cian's 10th birthday on Sunday were never going to be a piece of cake. But of course I could make things easier for myself by being clever and running the marathon in a sensible way that would not endanger all those recent training gains. So did I do that? Did I ****!

My first problem on Saturday morning, apart from having to get up at 5:30 am that is, was finding the place, because as it turns out the signposting between Macroom and Clonakilty is non-existent and driving on an unfamiliar road in the dark and through heavy fog doesn't help navigation. Nevertheless, I arrived in good time, very much looking forward to the race.

I started near the front, and for the first mile or so found myself running beside Keith Whyte yet again, just like in Sixmilebridge three weeks ago, but this time surrounded by plenty of other runners. A quick count gave me well over 30 runners ahead of me and I wondered if the field had increased in quality since last year or if some people were going to pay a price later on (oh how little did I know!).

Happy at the start, running alongside Keith once more. Photo by Kieran Minihane.

There was a group right ahead of me and I decided to join them; running in a group is always easier than running on your own. Angela McCann was part of it, which should have set off my alarm bells but did not. There were close to 10 runners in that group, including a second lady, Maura Regan. The atmosphere was very relaxed, Angela and Maura were chatting for a while ("aren't you supposed to race each other rather than having a friendly chat") and I was discussing everything from teenage daughters to Manchester City with Conor. At one point Angela asked us to stop making jokes as she couldn't stop laughing and it cost her energy - ever the consummate professional.

Conor remarked at mile 7 how chatty and relaxed we all were and in 10 miles it would all be so different. He was wrong. Within a mile we were labouring hard on the first of a series of brutal climbs (there had been several non-brutal climbs already by that point) and the group disintegrated rapidly, with Angela going off the front, obviously. I hung back a bit, trying not to kill myself on the uphill and being reasonably confident that I would catch up on the downhill again, which was only partially the case. Within a mile or two I started feeling the effort and had to labour rather hard, certainly harder than I would have liked, and wondering how it all had fallen apart so rapidly after feeling so relaxed only 15 minutes earlier.

I fought on for about another mile before deciding that I had indeed been an idiot, especially so as I had made exactly the same mistake 3 weeks earlier in Sixmilebridge, and that by far the best option was to relax a bit, and, reluctantly, let all the other runners in the group go (except one runner, John, who was suffering even more). I started cruising at a slightly more relaxed pace but I felt very rough.

I think taking a caffeine tablet at that point turned out to be a rather inspired move. I reached the halfway point in slightly over 91 minutes but knew I wasn't going to be able to keep the pace and not exactly looking forward to the second half. However, I was right behind Maura and Emmet again all of a sudden, which came very much as a surprise, seeing as I had resigned myself to never seeing them again until the finish. Had I sped up or did they slow down? I did not say it out loud, but a look at the Garmin indicated that it was the latter. Shortly after halfway the course turned decidedly brutal with a series of very tough climbs, one tougher than the other and all of them adding another layer of fatigue on already overworked legs. Conor and a couple of other runners from our group were clearly feeling the effort as well and we kept leapfrogging each other, depending on who was feeling low at the time or who was better at climbing or descending. Two runners from behind caught up with us in quick succession somewhere around mile 16, but rather surprisingly they were the only ones.

There was a very steep drop at around mile 18 and it kept going for a mile, losing all the elevation that we had worked so hard for. My way to run these steep drops is to visualise my body being perpendicular to the road, which causes me to lean forward and the effect of gravity keeps pulling me down the hill very quickly and with little effort; all I have to do is keep spinning the legs enough to not fall on my face. It worked very well, I was doing sub-6 pace at times and gained 5 places or so with no real effort. Unfortunately, running on the flat, and the next climb, felt all the harder. I gained another place, with the caught runner clearly suffering badly, and then hit the worst climb of them all at mile 20.

This really was brutal, steep and well over a mile long, and the fact that we had over 20 miles in our legs made it feel twice as steep and at least twice as long. There was nothing to do but keep working hard, trying to ignore the screaming quads and hamstrings and just get on with it. I made up a good bit of distance to the runner ahead but could not quite catch up, and when I finally reached the top there was a sharp right turn and I caught a quick glimpse of the runners behind me. Maura had overtaken all the boys and was about half a minute behind, with all the guys strung out behind.

The descent was brutally steep once more, which was very hard on our suffering quads, but I got on alright. I was suffering and counting down the miles and got completely paranoid about getting caught from behind. I had taken a coke from the aid station at mile 20 and did the same again at mile 23. To my surprise the runner ahead of me got closer and I managed to overtake him and started chasing the next one. At that point something started to work again. Maybe it was the second coke, but all of a sudden I was flying again and the pace increased remarkably. At one point I caught a glimpse of my Garmin and saw sub-7 pace, which I had not managed for the last 15 miles on the flat (wait, what flat?). I got right behind the next runner, Joe Walsh I think, who had been in our big group earlier on, but then disaster struck.

Getting there. Photo by Kieran Minihane
My calves had sent the odd spasm before, but all of a sudden the cramping got really bad at mile 24. It happened in both legs, which brought back unwelcome memories of the first Dingle marathon when I had hit the deck after both legs started cramping simultaneously and could not support my weight any more, but thankfully I was spared a full repeat. It still was bad enough, very very painful, and at one point I started screaming out in pain, which alerted Joe to my presence and I think he sped up after that. I was tempted to stop and try to stretch out the cramps which were really taking hold of both calf muscles, but that would have cost me some places and I kept going, desperately trying to get things back under control. The right calf was worse and at one point it felt like my toes were turning outwards with each stride (or the heel was turning inwards) and I could feel the leg shaking and struggling to support my weight with each stride, which really did not feel good at all. Even trying to run as relaxed as possible did not help, in fact that seemed to bring on more cramps. For at least a mile I was fighting wave after wave of cramps, all the while desperately trying to keep the pace at a reasonable level. I could see two more runners just ahead of me who a mile earlier had been completely out of reach. This was immensely frustrating, I had the energy levels to run much faster and would have caught them easily but the calves just would not cooperate and forced a much slower pace on me. It was was clearly a case of the chain being only as strong as the weakest link, and the high energy levels were to remain untapped.

Clearly showing the effort at the end. Photo by Peter Mooney.

We got back into Clonakilty and the finish line came all too early (as in trying to catch the runners ahead of me) or all too late (as in dealing with the cramps), but once I crossed it I was happy again once more. My time was 3:09:21, only marginally faster than the pacing effort in Dublin but requiring far more effort due to me being a complete idiot by running much too fast in the first half. Admittedly, it was a much tougher course than Dublin, one of the toughest in Ireland, ranking only just behind Dingle in my view (and almost as scenic and beautiful as that one). I ran 98 minutes for the second half, not a good split, though the second half contained the majority of the increasingly brutal climbs. I also made up about 5 place in the second half, so others had paced themselves even worse, not that that is any excuse for my own stupidity. I came in 18th and the cramps had cost me 3 places, but in the end it does not matter one bit if you come 15th or 18th in a race like that.

Within seconds of crossing the line I was whisked away to a video interview with Frank Greally, the editor of the Irish Runner magazine, and then Pat O'Keeffe, the chairman of the marathon club presented me with my 50 marathons medal, which was a great honour and I am ever so grateful for Pat to come down all the way to Clonakilty even though he was not running himself. Clonakilty RD Bob Hilliard could not have been more welcoming and supporting, but eventually I felt cold and started shivering so I headed for the shower (yes, they even provided shower facilities for the runners!)

Halfway there ;-)

I have plenty of thoughts regarding that run but will leave them for the next post. Stay tuned.

5 Dec
8 miles, 1:01:05, 7:38 pace, HR 143
6 Dec
8 miles, 1:04:50, 8:06 pace, HR 137
7 Dec
Clonakilty Marathon
   3:09:21, 18th place
8 Dec
5 miles, 42:37, 8:31 pace, HR 144

Wednesday, December 04, 2013


I did not expect any great insights from today's evaluation. In fact, any deviation from the last evaluation would have come as quite a surprise. Well, that's why I do these things. It's always to easy to guess wrongly.

The conditions were much better than expected, the heavy overnight rain and the wind had both ceased, leaving me with almost perfect running weather.

For some reason I found it tougher to maintain an even HR than usual. I have done dozens of these evaluations by now and am quite tuned to the required effort, but I just could not get it right this morning. The HR alarm kept beeping at me almost incessantly, to the point where I was highly tempted to chuck the thing over the nearest fence and go home. However, the average HR happened to be just about right, even if the effort was a bit uneven.

        Mile 1    6:36   HR 161
        Mile 2    6:34   HR 160
        Mile 3    6:35   HR 161
        Mile 4    6:39   HR 161
        Recovery to HR 130: 36 seconds

The pace figures are slightly falsified by a sharpening effect from Sunday's cross country race, so they don't entirely reflect my present aerobic conditioning. However, I am pleased by the fact that the pace was remarkably stable, but much more so by the recovery time which is significantly shorter than last time round. Back then I had seen that I had clearly not recovered from Dublin; I seem to have a much easier time in my recovery from Sixmilebridge, something I had already felt before, but this time I have some numbers to prove it.

Well, with yet another marathon just round the corner I hope that I'm not destroying whatever gains I managed to achieve over the last few weeks. After that it will get a little bit saner without any marathons or ultras for about 10 weeks, by which time I hope to get to some mini-peak in early spring for a couple of races, before the big push towards the summer.

2 Dec
8 miles, 1:04:19, 8:02 pace, HR 138
3 Dec
8 miles, 1:02:21, 7:47 pace, HR 141
4 Dec
11.75 miles, 1:25:00, 7:14 pace, HR 149
   incl. 4 mile eval: 6:36, 6:34, 6:35, 6:39, 36 sec recovery

Sunday, December 01, 2013


When I arrived at that field in Beaufort, I immediately noticed two things: the scenery was absolutely stunning with the Reeks in the background, and Michael and Sean both had a seriously worried look on their faces when I approached them. They had obviously been reading my blog. I did assure them that I might have exaggerated my feelings a little bit and was happy enough to run.

Well, happy probably still isn't the right word. Truth to be told, I wasn't all that keen on it. I am very much a road runner, and every time I have tried something else (triathlon, mountain running, adventure racing) I very quickly came to the conclusion that these things are fun but not nearly as much fun as road running. Nevertheless, this was a team event and I was fully prepared to put the required effort into it. Admittedly, I would not have run 10 miles the day before a road race, but that's the way it goes.

Last year I had gotten my backside firmly handed to me in the Kerry novices race, so I was under no illusion how the Munster race would go. The field for the men's master race was gargantuan in comparison to the juvenile and women's races that had preceded it. And since this was cross county, everyone shot out of the blocks at breakneck speed, which seems to be the traditional way to run these things.

I immediately was working harder than I would have liked but was still way behind the faster guys. Over the next 2 or 3 laps I gradually made some limited progress through the field catching the guys who were clearly paying the price for some early kamikaze pacing. At one point I used Pat O'Shea as a pacer but eventually was unable to keep up any more and he inched away from me.

I still made up 1 or 2 places on the next laps; I generally caught people on the downhill section and tried to hold them off on the uphill. The section at the bottom was very muddy and completely churned up after countless foot strikes from all the previous races and I found that a wider line was faster, I caught at least one runner there on every lap.

With half a mile to go I felt a few guys catching up on me and put in some extra effort to stop them breathing down my neck, as hard as that came. I caught up with the runner in front of me and we both overtook one other runner but I never quite managed to get my nose in front of the other guy and 50 meters from the finish line the one runner we had overtaken a minute ago went past me at a tremendous pace as if I were standing still, so I ended up without a net gain, but definitely relieved that I had survived the torture.

In the end we did not even get a team result because we did not have the required four finishers due to some misunderstanding of the rules. Ah well. Better luck next time (wait - what next time?!?).

30 Nov
10 miles, 1:16:16, 7:35 pace, HR 142
1 Dec
7 miles, including:
   Munster master cross country 7k, 28:40, 6:28 pace, HR 177