Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Long and Rewarding

To be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to today’s run. 20 miles seems an awfully long way to run, and if you have to get up at 4:30 in the morning, it's even worse.

The original plan was to be in bed by 9. Unfortunately, I had troubles with my computer, and instead of leaving it until another day, I spent all evening fixing things. By the time I finally stopped and went to bed it as 10:30, and I had only 6 hours of sleep until I had to get up again. This is not taking into account my 2 sons who have an unerring knack of being difficult sleepers on the most inconvenient nights. Cian had fallen asleep at 7pm, and by 3:30 he was wide awake and demanding attention. Shea had got cold in his bed (no wonder, he keeps kicking off his blanket), and joined us, too. I tried a lot of things, but the unchangeable fact is that I didn’t manage a single second of sleep after that. When I got up, apart from getting ready myself, I had to get Shea some cereal, convince him to go back into his own bed, do it again 2 minutes later when he said he’d had a bad dream, make a bottle for Cian and find Lola’s teddy who had fallen out of bed.

It was well after 5am by the time I finally left. The sky was spectacular though. There was not a cloud in sight, and a million stars were visible above. It was very cold, but I could manage that – two layers at the top and running pants made for ideal running apparel. The night was totally quiet, and I really loved it. I ran slower than usual. Mindful of the niggling injuries I’m still nursing and aware of the awfully long road ahead of me, I ran at a very conservative tempo. I usually run my long runs at a slightly faster pace than recommended by most coaches. That may well be a contributing factor to my ever-growing injury list. Therefore I kept on the brakes and tried to run the entire distance at 9:00 pace. This worked a treat, my times for each 5 mile segment were 44-45-46-45, a nearly perfectly balanced pace. I had a gel after 10 miles, and another at 15, and felt fine all along. The left quad hurt a bit, but got better as the run went on, the right achilles was much better, though still not entirely recovered.

It may sound preposterous, but I really enjoyed the run. Niamh didn’t believe me (“how can anyone enjoy getting up at 4:30 and running 20 miles in the cold and dark!”), but I swear it was great. To be honest, I’m also proud of the fact that I’m capable of running 20 miles before breakfast, and still put in a normal work day afterwards.

I’ll catch up on some sleep tonight. I might do a short recovery run tomorrow, I’ll decide in the morning.

31 Jan; 20 miles, 3:00, 9:00 pace


  1. Oh, this post was exactly the kind of inspiration I needed today. Thank you for sharing it!

  2. For the rest of the people it is strange, but for a runner, -even in pain-, is the best time.
    Well, for me, the hour... the darkness, are tough.
    Fantastic, to be able to run 20 miles, keep enjoying!!

  3. great motivation! glad you enjoyed it.

  4. Excellent splits on the 20 miler. I am amazed that you wake up that early, run, and then go to work. I think you deserve to sleep in tomorrow.

  5. Thomas, I've decided you are some kind of superman. And I'm not being facetious. Yes, a 20 mile run is an acheivement. But I'm a marathon runner too, so that doesn't necessarily impress me. Looking after 3 demanding kids on very little sleep - now that impresses me.

    But lLooking after 3 demanding kids + running 20 miles + working a full day????????!!!!!

    Holy cow.

  6. and I totally identify with loving those early morning extra-long training runs. Of all my runs ever, including races and marathons - I think I love and remember most my alone-20+ milers. Doing that before anyone else around you has accomplished anything with their day is the most amazing feeling.

  7. I typically get up at 4:45 every weekday morning to get to work by 6:30. I usually get up at 5:30 for my long runs on Saturday and can relate to the peace and serenity of wee hours of the morning. As Yvonne implied your ability to look after 3 demanding kids + run 20 miles + work a full day is really awesome. And you're doing the long run at a pace that is fast approaching my half-marathon race pace! Oh to be your age again and have so much energy ;-)

  8. 20 miles at that pace, I think you are ready now for a fast marathon.

  9. Athens MarathonerWed Feb 01, 04:44:00 pm

    Hello from Athens Greece.

    I'm a long slow distance runner. I've ran the Athens marathon twice (1992, and 1993), as well as San Francisco (1993), Rhodes Greece (1992), and Thessaloniki Greece (1997).

    Now some 9 years later after nothing but 30-45 minute runs for as long as I can remember, I'm ready again for a Marathon.

    What marathon better than the Athens Marathon to get me back into life again.

    I look forward to following your blog.

  10. Thomas,

    You should have reply "You are right. How can someone get up to run at 4:30 when they can do so at 3:30...."

    wait and see their reaction...

  11. Oh I do know exactly how you feel. Change the names in your post and I am living your life! I must agree that there is something magical about the 3:30-4:30 am hour when running. I think that the lack of sleep sometimes opens us up to the experience more fully. Anyhow, thanks for the post.
    Vaya con Dios

  12. Nice job Thomas. To get your 20 miler out of the way BEFORE work is impressive!

  13. Great run - and all before breakfast! That is most definitely impressive!

  14. Fantastic job!! How do you manage long runs DURING the week?? Very impressive! and i'm curious; you mentioned you are following someone's schedule--"a more experienced runner"--did someone draw up a schedule for you, or is this something publicly available?
    I'm all over schedules.

    p.s. i think you're a great dad.