It had all started so well with me ticking off 6:50 miles while feeling exceptionally relaxed, until I turned sharply left twice and now had that wind right in my face! To make matters worse, the way the loop was shaped meant I had the wind at my back for about 2 miles and against my face closer to 4, which didn't do the average much good. Once I turned into the wind I found it next to impossible to get the HR down. I felt like I was crawling and I still had the HR alarm beeping relentlessly. I was doing about 7:20, which wasn't all that slow into a headwind but after the 6:50 miles it felt like almost standing still.
Ah well, so the numbers are worse than last week. How much that is due to the wind and how much to latent fatigue from the weekend or the Windy Gap I'm not entirely sure. What I do know is that I did something COMPLETELY different on Saturday.
You see, I have been living here for 13 year and I can see Carauntoohil right from my front door. However, to my eternal shame, I have never climbed it. I must have said something to Niamh because she bought me a voucher for a guided tour, which meant now I had to quit talking about it and go and do it instead. I guess that was the main reason why I had never gone up there before: having grown up in the mountains (different mountains altogether) I have way too much respect for them to go up there on my own on a first attempt, so it was always going to be a guided tour and it took Niamh to break the inertia and just go ahead and book something.
Originally I was planning on going on Friday but one look at the weather forecast earlier this week made me change it to Saturday. That made it worse for Niamh as she had to taxi the kids on a busy day all on her own but it was definitely the right choice. Friday was a miserable wet day without any views and Saturday turned out much better than I could have hoped for. We had some non-athletes in our group, so we took our sweet time. It meant 7 hours on my legs, which should actually be surprisingly good ultra training - a way of training that is definitely under-utilised, not just by me but most runners. Last year I spent a weekend in Wicklow soaking up Barry Murray's wisdom and I know he would have enthusiastically recommended it. MC was all for it as well. Anyway, the clouds all lifted when we got to the top and the views are just to die for (Caher, btw, looking by far the best) and I even had a good view at our house but just couldn't see them waving back.
It's definitely something I can warmly recommend and going with an extremely knowledgeable tour guide was great too. Not only did he point out all kinds of landmarks that I would have missed otherwise, he also told us plenty of stories from the mountains and we got a lot of education about how to treat the mountain with respect and how to minimise our impact, all delivered by a man who lives and breaths the mountains.
Anyway, Sunday's easy run was rather mundane in comparison, yet another easy 7 miler like I have done so many times before. The legs were definitely feeling the mountain and I would have sworn I was plodding ahead at a very slow pace. The numbers on the watch did surprise me when I got back home.
- 13 Apr
- 7 miles, 55:52, 7:59 pace, HR 136
- 14 Apr
- 10 miles, 1:13:08, 7:18 pace, HR 154
- incl 7 @ 7:06 (HR 159)
- 15 Apr
- Carauntoohil, 7:30, 9.5 miles
- 16 Apr
- 7 miles, 53:48, 7:41 pace, HR 143