Sunday, January 03, 2016

Happy New Year

While everyone else was busy nursing their hangover, I did what I enjoy the most - running! It might make me odd in the eyes of many people, especially here in Ireland, but I've long ago stopped giving a damn what anyone else thinks of me, and I just happen to prefer running to drinking.

Anyway, I finished 2015 with a double workout, hill sprints in the morning and a recovery run on the treadmill in the evening. The hill sprints are what I want to do this training cycle instead of a hill phase doing drills, because it was doing those drills that got me injured last summer. I know it was down to me making a silly mistake but I really don't feel like doing another set of the same drills this time round.

If the treadmill run helped or hindered my race the following day I cannot say but after last week's surprisingly fast 5k I was fairly optimistic of a good race on New Year's Day. The race itself was in slight doubt as storm Gerturde was to hit us at the exact same time but thankfully it mostly steered south of Ireland and all we had to deal with was heavy rain and gale force winds - I've run in worse but it sure wasn't ideal race weather.

Me in the customary orange club colours
Once more I was left in the dust by a lot of runners at the start. My ageing diesel engine just needs a bit longer to revv up, but then again I did start with a sub-6 mile, albeit aided by a strong tailwind. I gradually made my customary way through a sizeable crowd of fast starters in the first mile, caught up to a group of 3 ladies again, same as in Farranfore, and when I went past them without much trouble I figured I was having a good race today. Eventually I was left on my own with another group quite some distance in front. Things got a lot worse after 4k when we turned into the wind and the stretch from km 5 to 7 was particularly tough against a gale force wind, uphill and on tiring legs. One runner in the group ahead started to struggle, was dropped and I eventually caught him before km 7. I was tempted to stay behind him and use him as a wind shield but he was going a bit too slowly and I went past - of course he immediately hung on to me and used me as a wind breaker. Perfectly understandable, I would have done the same. His footsteps seemed to fade away eventually and I thought I had shaken him. With about a mile to go there was a junction without a marshall, and if there was a sign then I did not see it without my glasses. I was reasonably sure I had to go left but hesitated for a moment until the runner behind me shouted "left". I was slightly startled because I had not realised he was still right behind me, and after my short hesitation he was now in front of me and obviously recovered because I had to work hard just to hang on to him. Due to a complete lack of finishing speed my only chance of beating guys to the line is to take off hell for leather with a fair amount of distance still to go and hope I can hang on and push through the red mist. This worked surprisingly well and I regained my place and kept it until the finish. Unfortunately one look at the watch told me that this had been a good bit slower than expected. I pressed the button a bit after the finish and estimate my time to be about 39:10 when I sure expected a better time. Without a doubt the conditions played their part but I was still a bit disappointed. Due to a technical breakdown the chip timing did not work and results still have not been published - I still hope that will happen soon. Things improved when I received a prize for second M45, so I actually brought home some loot today, hurray!

No rest for the wicked! The weekend training is always a set of 3 days, fast-long-medium, and I did 20 miles on Saturday. The legs felt better than expected but not exactly fresh. 20 miles were perfectly doable and I kept the effort at a reasonable level but the course was slightly unreasonably hilly, doing the Devil's Elbow loop with its nasty steep 500 feet climb three times. I very strongly believe that running up steep hills makes you a better runner. My usual climbing spot is Windy Gap on the Kerry Way but at the moment I don't think that is safe after all the rain we had the last few weeks and I prefer to stay on the road instead. Roads aren't as steep as that trail but the Devil's Elbow climb sure does its best to ape a mountain run. I felt okay while running but was knackered once I had finished. I even had a bath instead of a shower afterwards, for the sole reason so that I could lie down instead of having to stand up!

I closed off the week with 15 miles on a flatter course on Sunday. Once more the legs felt better than I could have expected but it wasn't exactly like floating on fluffy clouds. I kept a reasonable effort, similar to the day before, and was pleasantly surprised by the pace when I thought I'd be lucky to average 8-minute miles.

I'm in pretty good shape. Not race shape, but the base training has worked very well indeed and I couldn't be happier so far. There are still 6 weeks to go until the race specific training starts. I do hope I'll be able to convert the good work I've done so far into a good race, something I have not always managed entirely in the past.

I'll speak about my racing plans for 2016 in my next post. It took me a while but I think I've got it all worked out now.

The mileage this week is slightly misleading because the race on Friday meant the week got compressed by one day and I ended up doing the 15 miler on Sunday when it would normally have been on the following Monday. Next week goes back to normal and in all likelihood the mileage will therefore be lower again by the same amount.

Late update: 20th place, official time 39:13
31 Dec
am: 6 miles, 52:01, 8:40 pace, HR 137, hill sprints
pm: 5 miles, 39:52, 7:58 pace, HR 140, treadmill
1 Jan
11+ miles, including Beaufort 10k New Year's Day race
   39:10, 6:17 pace, HR 167, 2nd M45
2 Jan
20 miles, 2:37:05, 7:51 pace, HR 146
3 Jan
15 miles, 1:55:21, 7:41 pace, HR 142
Weekly Mileage: 97+


  1. Great job in awful conditions, congrats!

  2. Wow, that's a solid 10k in amongst that mileage. Well done.