Thursday, August 31, 2017

Unkraut Vergeht Nicht

I did not run on Sunday. I was too tired after the mostly sleepless night in A&E, and I wanted to spend what was left of the weekend with my family rather than head off on my own.

So I was back again on Monday. They told me to take it easy. I did, though I suspect they meant to take it easy on the mileage while I meant effort level. My commute is a bit over 9 miles. If that's too long then the only option is to do a shorter run before heading off for work but that would also mean getting up very early and sacrificing sleep - I can do that, have done it plenty of times before, but did not see the need this time round, so a slow jog into the office it was on Monday morning.

That one went very well, actually. The legs were a bit sore, from Saturday's hilly parkrun no doubt, but the rest of me felt perfectly fine and I got a pleasant surprise when I checked the heart rate, which had jumped down a level - again, another thing caused by that parkrun. However, that one was a nice one to have.

For the rest for the week I just continued the pattern of running into work and cycling home, or the other way round. I could still feel some pressure on my chest, and I was not just imagining that, it definitely was there. However, it did not bother me as long as I kept the effort under a certain threshold. It's not that slow either- doing 7:30 pace was still okay but anything faster than that and my breathing would start to get affected, so I'll stay away from faster efforts for the time being.

Thursday evening was the first run this week without any chest pressure whatsoever. I know this hasn't gone away but it is clearly improving.

It has been suggested that the whole problem might have been caused by some viral infection, which I think is very much a possibility. I also think I've had this for several weeks already. I remember one run a few weeks ago that felt like I only half of my lung capacity available - I'm sure it was the same issue that affected me on Saturday.

If I weren't a runner I probably would not even notice anything was wrong at all because it does not affect me apart from when I'm exercising. So, I will continue running, but will stay away from any fast efforts until I feel I can handle them again. That also means no more parkruns for a while, which is a shame. Ah well.
28 Aug
9.15 miles, 1:17:17, 8:27 pace, HR 137
29 Aug
9.25 miles, 1:12:40, 7:51 pace, HR 148
30 Aug
9.2 miles, 1:16:38, 8:20 pace, HR 142
31 Aug
9.2 Miles, 1:13:02, 7:56 pace, HR 146

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Night From Hell

I was wondering if I should even write about last night but I guess I should.

After some deliberation I decided to do a parkrun on Saturday. I ran my 3 miles towards Cabinteely as a warm up and got there in good time. I had a chat with Niall, whom I had not seen in ages and who was helping out as a volunteer, and then it was time for the start.

The legs did not feel great, to be honest, but that can change when the gun goes off. However, within a few seconds I knew immediately that today would not be a day fro racing for me. Despite the run featuring a downhill start and me taking it reasonably easy (certainly not 5k race effort), my breathing immediately got out of whack, so I decided to take it easy. I won't say I was jogging it because that would be disrespectful to the other runners, but I ran it as a short 3-mile tempo effort.
very bored

It's a damn hilly parkrun and you have to climb that hill 3 times, which can be hell. However, with me taking it relatively easy I never felt that acid burn in the legs and there was no suffering to be had - however, my breathing was very, very laboured. One cheeky chap overtook me right at the finish line with a sustained finishing sprint which left me in 15th place in a very, very modest 21:45, the slowest 5k I have run in over 10 years by quite some margin, but hey.

I jogged home, had a shower, and went to spend the rest of the weekend with my family who had come up from Kerry. Or so I thought. What did actually happen was that I still felt a pressure on my chest 3 hours later, which had me worried enough to go and seek medical advice. As Niamh had predicted, if you turn up and complain of chest pains they immediately send you to hospital, which is what they did, after taking 2 ECGs and giving me some medication that miraculously lifted the pressure within 2 seconds - it felt like a balloon stuck inside my chest was deflating rapidly.

extremely bored
After a fun ride in the ambulance to St. Vincent's it was time to wait. And wait. More ECG. Blood tests. Chest X-ray. And waiting. 6 hours after the first tests, another round of ECG and bloods. And the refusal to let me go home despite feeling perfectly fine, ever since that medication hours earlier (stating that the rapid relief of symptoms actually indicated heart troubles). I had to stay overnight in A&E, which meant I heard the old confused guy screaming at the nurses having to go to the toiled but refusing to go to where the were trying to get him, I saw some guy clearly under influence of various substances falling about, I heard an old lady with a broken hip screaming in pain (that one was particularly distressing) and of course some guy throwing up violently, this was A&E on a Saturday after all.

Every time I saw a new nurse or doctor I had to explain that my HR was so low because I was an endurance athlete. That happened a lot.

the things you do when you're bored
What I did not get was sleep, especially since I was hooked up on a cardiac monitor that sounded an alarm every time my HR dropped under 45, which happens to be higher than my resting HR, so every time I did manage to drop off I was immediately woken by an alarm, until I figured out at 2 or 3 am on how to re-program the alarm, which I'm sure the doctors and nurses would not have approved of. Oh, and they woke us at 3:30 to move us from trolleys into beds, surely only in order to massage their statistics on trolley use by patients.

Oh, and no dinner. I had Niamh smuggle in some food for me or I would have starved!

I'm not making any of this up.

In the morning I eventually was met by the cardiologist who said my tests came all back perfect, I had zero risk indicators and whatever happened the day before could not have been heart related. He suspected Exercise Induced Asthma (which was what I thought it was back in Cabinteely), though explained that it was actually a misnomer as it's not asthma. Oh, and he cleared me for running, without restrictions.

So basically, according to the doctor there is nothing wrong with me. That's the second cardiologist I've ever seen to tell me that.

Except that I need some sleep now!

I'm tempted to say that the lesson learned was not to go to a doctor with chest pains but - yeah, there is a fairly obvious problem with that approach.
24 Aug
8.3 miles, 1:12:19,8:37 pace,  HR 148
   incl 6 x 8 sec hill sprints
25 Aug
9.15 miles, 1:15:28, 8:15 pace, HR 146
26 Aug
9 miles, incl Cabinteely parkrun in 21:45, 7:00

pace, HR 166

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Lessons. Learned?

Things are progressing nicely so far. Having said that, I'm only 3 weeks into training so it's still very early days, obviously.

I was slightly nervous about doing back-to-back 10 milers at home, though I shouldn't have been - it's only a tiny bit further than my commute and not much more hilly.

The commute itself has added an interesting training component. It's basically a back-to-back workout followed by a longer recovery. If I cycle in on Monday morning then I run back on Monday evening. Less than 12 hours later I am running back into the office on Tuesday morning but then I have almost 36 hours of rest before Wednesday's evening run.

As with all back-to-back workouts, much depends on how you run the first one. It's a lesson I learned (yet again) today. Last night's run was a tad too fast, especially as it was against a steady headwind as well as (slightly) uphill. As a result, I did suffer a bit this morning, clearly not yet fully recovered. The last 3 or 4 miles were definitely dragging, and I ran over 15 seconds a mile slower than the day before, at the same HR, despite this being the downhill leg. Lesson learned? We'll see!

I might do a parkrun this weekend. I probably should take care with faster efforts as it's still so early, but a parkrun is never a full-out race. Hopefully. Anyway, it's such a great institution that it should be supported, and with so many parkruns in Dublin I am keen to visit a few of them over the following months - depending on how many weekends I'm spending in Dublin rather than Kerry, of course.
20 Aug
10 miles, 1:21:36, 8:09 pace, HR 146
21 Aug
9.15 miles, 1:13:57, 8:04 pace
22 Aug
9.15 miles, 1:13:00, 7:58 pace, HR 148
23 Aug
9.2 miles, 1:15:55, 8:13 pace, HR 148

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Homeward Bound

Thursday's run into work was the last run commute of the week. The legs felt somewhere between tired and okay. I took it easy until I got to Sandymount promenade when a runner got onto my tail. As much as I tried NOT to get into a silly little race, I could not help accelerating a bit. He stayed right there on my tail - I think he used me as a pacemaker for a mile or 2 of tempo effort. Mind, it still was only 7:40-ish pace, so neither of us was going as fast as we thought we were, I suppose. On the plus side, the legs felt all the better for it!

Since I'm driving to Kerry on Fridays, that day of the week I'm running early, before setting off to work. I did a slightly short run but ended it with a couple of hill sprints. That was just for testing out things - see how the legs would respond when suddenly being asked to work at full power (they seemed fine) and if that steep little rise near home was suitable (just about long enough for 8 seconds). This time round it was only 2 sprints - I'll do more next time, and certainly not after 6 miles of running. You want you legs to be somewhat fresh when sprinting.

I was back home on Saturday so I went out for a 10 mile run along Caragh Lake. According to strava this was my first 10 mile run on that road for almost 1 months! Seriously? It used to be my bread and butter run, several times a week before work! Anyway, I really enjoyed being back on that road, so familiar that I know all of the stone chippings by name. The legs seemed to enjoy it as well, they felt pretty good and didn't even mind the stiff headwind.

After complaining last week that my numbers had stagnated, this week has seen another massive jump in the numbers. I've been astounded by seeing the HR in the mid 140 already and the HR alarm, which used to go on incessantly even on easy efforts, has more or less remained silent. I haven't even been back running for 3 weeks yet; what's it going to be like in 10 months?
16 Aug
9.2 miles, 1:16:34, 8:19 pace, HR 151
17 Aug
9.15 miles, 1:13:42, 8:03 pace, HR 150
18 Aug
6.5 miles, 53:21, 8:12 pace, HR 146
   2 hill sprints
19 Aug
10 miles, 1:21:35, 8:09 pace, HR 145

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


I don't exactly have a lot of experience with 5 star hotels, but out of the 4 I have stayed in the Cliff Hotel in Ardmore, Waterford, reigns supreme. The location, the room, the service, the meals ... bloody hell. Incidentally, that's also what my bank manager will say in a couple of weeks when he sees the bill as this was my first stay in said establishments where I had to foot the bill myself. Ah well, it's the least the lady deserved after 20 years with me!

Oh, you wanted to hear about running? Actually, Ardmore is a great spot for running as well. On Saturday I did a run a on stony trail along the cliffs, the major drawback being that the stunning views and the stony grounds had me stumble a few times and while I managed to avoid a face plant, or falling off the cliff, grabbing a gorse bush for hold wasn't the smartest thing ever and my hand is still sore, a few days later.

It's a great place to build up your hill running fitness - the one thing missing being flat roads. But the roads were so quiet, there was even less traffic than in Caragh lake - I never once encountered a car outside Ardmore itself.

Alas, by Monday morning reality had caught up again and I was back in Dublin. This week I started my new commute routine. Monday, cycling into work, running home. Tuesday, running into work, cycling home. Same again on Wednesday - Thursday, and then the car on Friday to enable a quick exit back to Kerry. It's just over 9 miles each way, which is a good bit longer than the runs I had done up to now. Thankfully, my legs had appreciated the weekend in Ardmore and rebounded well, so even though the run back home was longer than usual, uphill and against the wind, never mind the pouring rain, I got home just fine and still feeling pretty good. However, doing the same in return just 12 hours was just a bit much and the last 3 miles were definitely dragging. I'll see how that goes but I'm sure things will pick up quickly again.
12 Aug
6 miles, 51:45, 8:38 pace, HR 147
   partially on trail
13 Aug
6.4 miles, 52:56, 8:16 pace, HR 146
14 Aug
9.15 miles, 1:15:09, 8:13 pace, HR 148
15 Aug
9.15 miles, 1:16:33, 8:22 pace, HR 150

Friday, August 11, 2017

Patience? Adjustments?

Surely it is a bit early to be getting impatient already? I've been back on the road for less than 2 weeks now and I'm already starting to wish this would go a bit quicker! I know that's a bit silly, especially since I mentioned a 13 seconds per mile improvement over 4 days in my last post, which is hardly lack of progress. The thing is, the legs have felt rather heavy the last couple of days. I think it's the combined load of running 6 miles and cycling 18 (my commute) that's responsible for that. However, since I'm not cycling on Fridays (because I'm heading out of town straight after work) and the weekend I figured I keep going as it is and see if I feel better by Monday. If not then I will have to cut back a bit - which feels ridiculous, as I'm not even running 45 miles this week!

But yes, there was a distinct lack of progress all of a sudden, the last few days, and if it staus that way I need to ease up.

Yesterday morning my chest felt a bit restricted, which was not a nice feeling at all. It was like I had only 75% of lung capacity available - thankfully I didn't need any more at my slow pace, and after a few miles that restriction went away. I'm not sure what it was - I don't have hay fever at this time of year, and I'm not asthmatic.

I've been experimenting with a couple of routes for my cycle commute and the one I prefer happens to be the same path I'm doing most of my running on at the moment. I'm actually surprised that it is so quiet - I would have thought it would be much, much busier. I prefer a few miles of cycle paths away from roads and away from traffic lights. Why don't the rest of you?

Anyway, I'm looking forward to my weekend now. If you're looking for me, I'll be the one in the posh and expensive hotel.
8 Aug
6.3 miles, 51:14, 8:08 pace, HR 149
9 Aug
6.3 miles, 51:30, 8:10 pace, HR 149
10 Aug
6.3 miles, 50:57, 8:05 pace, HR 151
11 Aug
6.3 miles, 51:24, 8:10 pace, HR 151

Monday, August 07, 2017

A New Beginning

I'm only having sporadic access to a computer at the moment, so there is the possibility of longer breaks between posts at the moment. The reason for that is that I figured I'm spending way too much time in front of a screen - 8-9 hours a day at work and then another 2 or more at home. So I decided not to get a computer in my new apartment. I might change my mind after a while - but not yet. Right now I'm tempted to throw away my phone as well. I'm wasting far too much time being plugged in when I should just go out and enjoy a walk in the fresh air or something like that.

Maybe I'm just getting old.

At least my running is taking off again. I've slowly upped the mileage this week, though it's still rather modest. As in previous training cycles, the HR at the moment is sky high but I'm not taking any notice of that. It will come down quickly over the next few weeks into more "acceptable" territory. I've been through that often enough by now. Today already was 13 seconds quicker per mile than 4 days ago, despite running further. If only progress kept going at that rate!

I've moved into a new flat. It's good to have a place of my own again. It's further away from work, not quite 9 miles, which, unlike most, I actually see as a positive. I'm already looking forward to cycling and running in and out of work on my new route. Today is a bank holiday, so tomorrow will be the first day of my new commute.

When looking at running options at my new abode via google maps I realised that I had been running close to that area for years every time I had been in Dublin. I just had not noticed that the paths from Dean's Grange through Kilbogget on onwards were less than a mile from here. It also means that for the first time in my running life I'm just a warm-up jog away from a track, albeit a dirt track. Still, it will undoubtedly see some use over the next few months.

I'm now up to 6.5 miles in my daily runs, which I'm adapting to reasonably quickly, so I'll soon feel up to running either in our out of work. And then, after a little more time, real training can begin.
3 Aug
4 miles, 33:21, 8:20 pace, HR 153
4 Aug
4 miles, 32:00, 8:00 pace, HR 158
5 Aug
5 miles, 42:07, 8:25 pace, HR 151
6 Aug
6.5 miles, 53:22, 8:12 pace, HR 148
7 Aug
6.25 miles, 50:46, 8:07 pace, HR 153

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Ultra Begins - The Reboot!

It feels good to be back!

Well. Ok. Actually, it doesn't feel all the great. Physically, that is. Mentally I'm happy like a pig in the proverbial.

I set out on a glorious Monday morning, the first run after a break of 4 weeks. My watch must have lost something during that break because it first took ages to pick up the satellite and then overestimated the distance by at least 10% during the first mile. Never mind, forget the watch, it's teh legs that matter. I expected this to be a slow 10-minute mile slog and me being exhausted after 2 miles. Instead I felt much better than I could have hoped for and after the 2 miles were over decided to tack on some extra. I actually sped up with each lap and was cruising close to 7:30 pace at the end. After 3 miles I, slightly reluctantly, went home. This was the first run after a long break and I did not want to overdo it. The last thing I want to do is to out myself out of commission by ramping up too quickly and getting injured before training has even started.

Oh, and it may have been just a tad under 3 miles, owing to the GPS hickup. Let's call it 2.9 miles. Yes, I'm a numbers geek.

I guess I had overdone it anyway. The hamstrings were sore on Tuesday. I ran 2.5 miles, a bit slower. The HR alarm on my watch starts beeping at 150. It beeped again after a mile.

On Wednesday the hamstrings were better but the calves were complaining. Ah, the joys of running. I slogged through the first mile, kind of wishing to be back in bed.

Then I thought of 2 friends (Klemens was a team mate in Turin 2015, Angelika is the team's physio) who are presently running the Deutschlandlauf, a 19-stage race across the entire length of Germany, average stage length 43 miles(!!!), which stopped the inner whining voice for good. I did 3 miles in the rain, this time slowing down a little when the HR alarm but still already faster than the first couple of days.

Right now it's all about getting used to running again. This is very early days, literally.
31 Jul
2.9 miles, 24:07, 8:19 pace, HR 151
1 Aug
2.5 miles, 21:20, 8:31 pace, HR 148
2 Aug
3 miles, 24:10, 8:03 pace, HR 150