Sunday, July 28, 2019

Twenty Two Years!

Can you imagine being shackled to a complete idiot for 22 years, having to endure all his stupid ideas ("I'm going to run in circles for 24 hours!" "I'm going to run for 153 miles in the heat in Greece!" "I'm going to run in circles for 24 hours again because it didn't hurt THAT much last time"), sometimes even being roped into his games and forced to help out and watch him suffer, and yet somehow still being able to smile? I can't, and yet that's exactly what Niamh had to endure for the last few decades, and for some reason she's still here (she's seriously trying to put an end to that 24 hours running, though). Happy Anniversary!

The blog has taken a little break, mostly because my running has taken a little break as well. I didn't exactly feel super fresh in Vienna, and I didn't exactly feel super fresh on my return. I actually tried to shift training into a new phase, doing hill workouts, a little bit in the old school Lydiard way with bounding up a very steep road and coming down on a more gentle gradient, not least because I realised that I have exactly that setup not even a mile from my front door. I seemed to remember that hill workouts usually brought me along, really strengthening my legs without taking too much out of me, but it turns out I must either have misremembered it all or I've gotten old and things have changed. By last Sunday I was totally knackered after not even 10 miles of hilly running at an easy effort, so I pulled the emergency break and didn't run at all for 3 days. Gasp!

Well, actually it kind of happened because work was so full on that I would have found it hard to find some extra time for a run. Having said that, I know full and perfectly well that if I really want to go for a run I always find a way. But the timing for a break suited me well. Having said all that, I took some time off running but I was still cycling into work each day (which adds up to almost 100 miles a week), I did the training spin with the group from work on Tuesday and I did a charity thing on Saturday in Stillorgan which added up to almost 3 hours on a bike, including cycling to and from Stillorgan, so that must have been about 160 miles of cycling, so it wasn't all that easy a week, really.

Nevertheless, I was working off the theory that cycling uses different muscles and therefore my running muscles should still be fresh. Let's just say, results haven't been exactly in favour of that theory, and my easy long-ish run today on the Cliff Walk via Greystones ended in a bit of misery, though the heat and the fact that I was absolutely parched and had lost about 4 pounds despite drinking a lot before setting off had something to do with it as well.

I tend to feel really thirsty for hours after these runs, even though I'm drinking by the bucket, mostly tea as that is far more appealing than water. A cold beer sounds like absolute heaven right now but unfortunately I am the designated driver to collect wife and children from the Bray Air show, so that is out at the moment.

With all that cycling I am doing in addition to my running I can't help wondering if I should add some swimming as well and have a look at the appeal of the Dark Side again. After all, that big M with a dot on top is still on my bucket list, and I have been putting it off for about 10 years now.

Or is that the idiot in me talking again?

Wednesday, July 17, 2019


There's a quirk in the German language that allows you to create new composite words out of existing ones. That's why there exist words like Schadenfreude. It also means you occasionally come across a new word that you haven't heard before even if it's your native tongue, so when Martin asked me if I was a "Rotlichtläufer" ("red light runner") it took me a bit to process that. Not only was the word new, after 16 years in Ireland the entire concept was alien - are you the kind of runner that crosses a road despite the traffic light being red? Well, duh, obviously. Everyone in Ireland is!

I've obviously been away for long enough to lose the Austrian rigidity when it comes to committing minor offences.

Anyway, there are a few things in Austria that are different to Ireland.

Summer is a lot warmer. We actually missed the brutal heatwave and even had a couple of days of intermittent rain but it still got to 28 degrees.

There are quite a few public water spots, though they can be hidden away, a few meters off the road, and if you don't know them you don't see them. When the temperatures are getting close to 30 degrees, you do need them! I got to use one during my long-ish run on Sunday but I still suffered by the end.

The infrastructure is just so much better than in Dublin, from public transport to cycle paths to running paths, to higher quality housing (at a much more affordable price too), to better roads, even significantly better restaurants and I could go on. I can't actually explain why that is, the local politicians are just as inept, corrupt and self-serving as they are here, so I have no idea why the whole government stuff just works better. Oh, the train ticket from the airport to the city centre cost 11 Euro. For the 6 of us! And almost all the museums were free for the kids, up to the age of 18.

There are a lot more cyclists, and since the cycle paths I saw were actually separated from the road, as opposed to someone painting a white line and calling it a cycle path, there is much less animosity between drivers and cyclists. Which is the way it should be, obviously.

There are also a lot more runners. The Prater especially was full of them.

Shop assistants are just as unfriendly ad they used to be. Which is just baffling, even more so now that I work in sales myself, and I do wonder how on Earth they get away with their behavior.

Viennese drivers are dicks. Probably even more so than Dublin ones.

People complain like mad about anything and everything. Wait! That's the same here!

I got to run about 70 miles, same as I would have done in Ireland, though on nicer paths but in sweltering conditions at times. I was completely exhausted after a couple of runs but I attribute that more to the condition there, plus me being on my feet much more during the day, than to a problem with my running. I guess I'll quickly see how thing go now that I'm back home.

Thanks to Martin for showing me some of South-Eastern Vienna on Monday, the one part I am much less familiar with than the rest. I was tempted to explore a bit more on Tuesday on my own but did not want to get hopelessly lost on my last day.

The general agreement was that it was one of our best family holidays ever. The fact that it was only for one week may have helped!


The Halo Third Man Riesenrad

The road to infinity. Especially at mile 20 in the marathon!





Belvedere Gardens

Neufelder See

The kept the gay traffic lights that were installed as a show of tolerance! Too bad the conservatives are blocking any law reforms that would actually put that into reality. Utterly disgraceful!

Monday, July 08, 2019


Just Imagine. You're running up that random road at a random time in Birmingham, actually heading in the wrong direction but you don't know that yet, when that woman comes running the other way and you are thinking "that's funny, she has the exact same running style as Olwyn", when she shouts out "Thomas!!!" - IT IS OLWYN!!!! What are the chances! Olwyn quipped we should have bought a lottery ticket instead of going for run.

The reason I was in Birmingham in the first place was a work trip. Just last week I'd told my new manager if I ever needed to go visit a customer in Barcelona or Paris I'm all for it. The message must have gotten garbled somewhere because last Thursday I found myself in an industrial estate in the outskirts of Burton-upon-Trent, which just doesn't have quite the same glamour. And flying into the UK early in the morning and back again in the evening is stressful enough on its own, never mind presenting to a group of C-level execs while there, and I was glad I was able to squeeze in a few miles, as a pure stress reliever more than anything else.

In general, though, it was another easy week. After that 20 miler had me knocked out 2 weeks ago I decided to dial it back a bit. I have a history of overtraining and would rather avoid another one of those episodes. One easy week later I was still not feeling new so I added a second easy week. That said, easy is a relative term. I'm still doing about 70 miles per week but without workouts and without a long run. If the lack of long runs will come back to bite me I shall see, though they always say it's better to be 10% undertrained than 1% overtrained and I'd prefer to see that scenario from the other side for once.

Tuesday was again the biggest day of the week, with the run into work followed by a group jog at lunchtime (very, very easy) and then a cycle in the evening. I generally do enjoy the cycling, though I very much prefer the actual cycling to the standing around that seems to be an inevitable part of those group rides. We had three stops and one of them was for over 16 minutes, after which I was actually frozen stiff and very uncomfortable, so when we reached Enniskerry I actually peeled off the group and went home instead of completing the loop because I was really uncomfortable, and not because of the miles or the pace, those were easily manageable. Maybe I should dress with the standing around in mind rather than the cycling.

As for the running, I couldn't tell if I went by feel alone but the watch and the HR are telling me that I'm getting into better and better shape. The pace on my easy runs is still nothing to write home about, about 8:20-8:40 seems to be where I always end up on my easy days, but even on hilly runs I average a HR in the low 130s, which I only ever get to when I'm in really good condition. You might argue that of course that the HR is low when I'm running so slowly, but also take into account the very high humidity (I'm invariably soaked through after a couple of miles). Also, on tough, steep climbs like the Quarry Road or Bray Head I'm running 20, 30 seconds per mile faster than a month or two ago, even though this is at an easy effort, at least as easy as such a steep hill allows.

Things are definitely heading into the right direction. Now if I could make use of that instead of messing it up, as as my wont, that would actually be great for a change.