Tuesday, November 27, 2018

River Deep Mountain High

Once more, it was time for something different. last Saturday I had met Gary at the parkrun, and afterwards he asked me if I wanted to join him on a trail run the following weekend where he could show me round the local trail options.

Of course I said yes immediately.

The only slight problem is, Gary is a 2:30 marathon runner. In fact, if you search for the Top Irish marathon performances for 2017 at the AAI website, you will see his name there as the 19th fastest Irish marathon runner that year. Which means that he would have to slow down for me to keep up - and even so, his easy pace is probably closer to my tempo pace, and at times I'm sure he wasn't even aware that I had to work to keep up with him when he was just jogging along.

Anyway, we met a 9:30 in Shankill and immediately went uphill, and uphill, and uphill, and the up a bit further. On the plus side, teh views were amazing. On the downside I was fairly quickly wondering how long I'd be able to keep going. My climbing legs have completely gone awol this year, undoubted related to a distinct lack of climbing after I moved away from the Windy Gap, which did not help.

However, eventually I managed to settle into the effort and we made decent progress, though I'm not sure how Gary would have seen it. Going through a wood past Enniskerry the footing became very tricky and we had to climb under-over fallen logs, cross a couple of streams and not mind too much the drop to our right on a tiny trail. All that was fine. The horror came on the road in form of teh climb up to Glencullen. I know a few cars that wouldn't make it up that hill, and for a while I wasn't sure if I would either.

Well, I did make it up there, but form then on my legs were gone, and on each following climb Gary ran away on his own and had to circle back at the top waiting for me to catch up. Also, his repeated announcements of "yet another lovely climb" started to sound a bit less lovely with each repeat. And as for the "all downhill from here ..."

Anyway, I survived the run, but was grateful for the lift home because I didn't particularly care for the additional 4 miles run home. I guess we'll do it again. I've always been a sucker for punishment.

20 Nov
4.67 miles, 37:52, 8:06 pace, HR 145
21 Nov
10.21 miles, 1:28:32, 8:40 pace, HR 142
22 Nov
7.2 miles, 1:05:07, 9:02 pace, HR 134
23 Nov
10.2 miles, 1:27:03, 8:32 pace, HR 144
24 Nov
8.5 miles, 1:13:20, 8:37 pace, HR 141
25 Nov
15.87 miles, 2:33:39, 9:40 pace, HR 143
   mountain run with Gary
26 Nov
6.33 miles, 59:37, 9:25 pace, HR 128
   VERY easy recovery run

Monday, November 19, 2018

Not Up To Speed Quite Yet

Well, I said I'd run a few shorter races, especially 5Ks, and when I got an invitation from Dom to join him for a 20-minute parkrun he was pacing I said yes, especially since it happened to be at my local parkrun.

I was fairly sure I wouldn't be able to stick with him. That in itself is a fairly shocking state of affairs - even half a year ago I ran in the low 19s on a hilly course, so to not be able to break 20 now on a totally flat course isn't great. I guess that's exactly why I want to run a few shorter ones. Old age doesn't cut it as an excuse for that one, so all I need to do is get my speed back.

I didn't exactly help myself by running the 3.5 miles to Shanganagh park from our house. It's way too long for an ideal warm up, but it's the easiest way to get there. Plus, that way I wouldn't have to worry about my daily mileage.

Actually, once we got going the first k was so comfortable I was almost dumbfounded. At the same time I knew fully well that this was not going to last. There was a sizeable group with Dom, easily over half a dozen pacees, but one by one they started to drop off after the first k was done, and each time I had to make sure not to stick with the shirt in front of me but instead go past him and stick to Dom. That was fine all the way to the halfway mark when we got to the "incline" for the second time.

When I say incline, it's probably not even 2 feet of elevation gain, and it really is barely noticeable, expect when running a 5K a bit close to your limit, and with weak hamstrings to start with. I lost a couple of steps, and immediately there was a gap. Obviously, what I should have done is once more to pass the runner in front of me and get back onto Dom's tail, but I didn't have the gumption to properly turn on the pain and stuck with the shirt in front of me until it was too late and all of a sudden Dom was way, way off in the distance, and so was my sub-20.

I could claim that the final lap was a struggle but in fact, undoubtedly due to the more measured first K, it wasn't the same sufferfest as my usual 5Ks, and while I didn't manage to get close to Dom again, at least I passed a few runners (too late) but the time was a rather modest 20:24. Ah well. At some point I'll re-learn how to a) to activate my fast fibres again and b) to put myself into the pain cave for a bit.

I did a bit of a cool down with Dom and Gary (who had run an easy 17:xx, despite still being hobbled by a groin/hip issue), and wasn't too surprised that their easy pace was a not-quite-so-easy pace for me, and then headed for home, feeling surprisingly good.

Turns out a 5K isn't anywhere near as painful when you try and run it at a reasonably even effort instead of heading off like a complete eejit and then hang on for dear life for the other 4K. Who would have thunk it! Two days later my legs still haven't shown any signs of tiredness, though admittedly today's run was very slow, though I put that down to still being half asleep rather than having heavy legs.

12 Nov
6.33 miles, 56:08, 8:52 pace, HR 134
13 Nov
7.22 miles, 1:03:02, 8:43 pace, HR 140
14 Nov
10.18 miles, 1:25:26, 8:23 pace, HR 145
15 Nov
6.33 miles, 56:42, 8:57 pace, HR 135
16 Nov
10.18 miles, 1:26:40, 8:30 pace, HR 143
17 Nov
7.4 miles, 1:03:08, 8:31 pace, HR 140
Shanganagh parkrun, 20:24, 6:33 pace, HR 163
18 Nov
10 miles, 1:24:03, 8:24 pace, HR 145
19 Nov
5.15 miles, 47:22, 9:11 pace, HR 132

Sunday, November 11, 2018

A Little Bit Different

Like almost every other runner, I usually do my long run on Sunday, though with DCM only 2 weeks ago that's not of utmost importance right now, so when I got a message from Anto to be at St. Stephens Green at 10 o'clock, I had no hesitation to agree.

He is starting a new venture, organising running tours through Dublin, and this was a dummy run, with a few foreigners like myself as mock tourists.

If you've ever been at one of Anto's races, the
most famous of them all being the Donadea 50k, you know that he knows how to talk to a crowd; in fact, his race briefings are legendary. With this being not yet an official tour we got the non-PC version including some if his own TMI personal history. Great stuff. And we saw plenty of Dublin City centre, with plenty of local history, both old and more recent. I know the area pretty well, especially since working there for a couple of months at the start of the year, but plenty of the stuff was new to me.

Obviously it wasn't a training run, with a fairly slow pace and plenty of stop/start running. In the end I had accumulated 4 miles, and Anto had 4.8 miles, the difference being he kept his watch running and kept stopping it at each walking break.

All photos by Anthony Lee
This was great fun, and if you're visiting Dublin you should do yourself a favour and do something like that yourself (they are planning a Phoenix Park and a pub option as well). We also go treated to coffee and donuts, which I can't promise to all future visitors, but it prompted me to run another couple of miles afterwards.

Apart from that group run, I didn't do much noteworthy this week. But it was so wet on Wednesday that apparently it was enough to kill my headlamp, because when I tried to use it the next time on Friday morning, it would not turn on. It's the fancy, expensive headlamp that I bought three years ago for the Spartathlon, which cost about 15 times as much as the Lidl/Aldi headlamps that I had used up to then, and as it turns out it didn't last any longer than the cheap ones had. What a waste of money! Okay, it was significantly brighter at the highest setting, but at the price of burning through your batteries in 3 hours, which had almost cost me that very Spartathlon race I had bought it for. Ah well. Back to the cheap ones when I see them next time, I guess.

But anyway, if you want to see Dublin City Centre and hear some great stories and have fun all at the same time, have a look at Running Tours Dublin. Don't wear compression socks while doing so, and Anne and Anto will look after you.
6 Nov
4.46 miles, 38:00, no watch
7 Nov
6.71 miles, 57:24, 8:33 pace, HR 142
8 Nov
10.16 miles, 1:26:30, 8:30 pace, HR 144
9 Nov
6.32 miles, 53:19, 8:26 pace, HR 142
10 Nov
9.68 miles, 1:22:11, 8:29 pace, HR 142
11 Nov
4 miles, 38:56, 9:43 pace, Running Tours Ireland
2 miles, 16:57, 8:20 pace, Donut Burn

Monday, November 05, 2018


Looking WAY too comfortable
for the end of a marathon
I know I said I wasn't really racing Dublin, I was more doing it as yet another run, one with 20000 of my closest friends. I can prove that. Never mind the fact that I was able to sprint for the bus straight afterwards, that picture is the final and conclusive proof. To be honest, nobody should look so relaxed when they're crossing a finish line, no matter how long a race it had been.

Despite all that, recovery is a slow process. This one I think I can blame on age, even though I promised not to mention the "A" word again for a while.

I went straight out the day after the marathon, which is my usual recovery protocol after a marathon, and which has worked exceptionally well for most of the 105 previous times, so I'm not going to radically change it now. Initially the legs were slow and stiff , just as expected, but after a couple of days they started to improve. The trouble is that in the last two or three days they seem to have gone backwards again, which is starting to feel all too familiar recently.

No need to panic, I'll keep going as is, it worked after the crash that was Berlin and I'm sure it will work again. Once I have me legs back to some extend I think I'll try and do a few parkruns, mostly for fun (yes I know, I keep remembering how much I hate 5ks halfway through each one) but also because I think I have done excessive amounts of slow running in the last 12 months and nowhere near as much faster running as I should have, so I'll try and blow away some of the cobwebs.

On Friday I did something I don't think I have ever done before: I totally forgot to press the "start" button on the watch. And since I never look at the watch while running I only noticed at the end when staring at a set of zeros. Oops! Dementia setting in already?

I do have one area of concern, namely my right knee. It has been bothering me on and off for a few months already but has gotten worse the last few weeks. However, I'm pretty sure it's not a running-related injury, for the simple reason that it's not hurting at all when running. Instead it hurts when I twist the knee, usually when getting in or out of the car, or when I somehow make the wrong movement, and for a split second it can feel like I've been stabbed. What am I going to do about it? Not much, to be honest. I might try and avoid twisting the knee as I step out of the car but that's about it. I won't be stopping running, that much I can tell you for sure.
30 Oct
4+ miles, 39:13, 9:40 pace, HR 132
31 Oct
4+ miles, 37:18, 9:12 pace, HR 132
1 Nov
5+ miles, 44:51, 8:40 pace, HR 137
2 Nov
5+ miles, 45:00, no watch
3 Nov
5+ miles, 46:08, 8:55 pace, HR 140
4 Nov
6.7 miles, 57:31, 8:35 pace, HR 147
5 Nov
6.7 miles, 58:05, 8:40 pace, HR 143