Saturday, January 13, 2007

It's Raining, it's Pouring

For once the weather didn’t change – it stayed as bad as it was for two more mornings. Now, Saturday afternoon, it has brightened up, and tomorrow is supposed to be a nice day - with scattered showers; they obviously don’t want us to be spoilt. The next storm front is predicted for Wednesday. Is there no end to it? Michelle asked if I think the weather is related to global warming. Yes, I definitely do. I don’t buy that bullshit about cyclical weather developments, there’s nothing cyclical about the amount of greenhouse gases we’re pumping into the atmosphere.

But this is a running blog, and I’ll refrain from voicing political views. As planned, I did my 20-mile run on Friday. I initially set my alarm for 4:30, and just as I was about to fall asleep I decided it wouldn’t take me that long to run 20 miles, so I reset it to 4:40. The weather was just as bad as on Thursday, or maybe just a tick less so if you believe the weathermen. Nevertheless I felt good as I set off. Last time I ran this route I started the first 3 miles in a very pedestrian 9:20 pace, this time I still wasn’t exactly flying out of the blocks, but 8:45 was a good bit faster. But it was at that point that the road turned into the wind, and up the major climbs. I struggled against the forces of nature, and it was hard work. For the next 45 or so minutes I followed the road up and down, but with a net elevation gain of about 200 meters, and all of it right against the storm. I was mightily relieved when I finally reached the woods of Ahane, the previous 5 miles had been pure evil, but from there on it was much easier. For the next 5 miles the road was reasonably sheltered, and when I got out into the open again the wind was mainly at my back. At about the 10 miles point I suddenly started to feel rather weak, my legs turned into jelly and my stomach complained about the lack of food. I had been a bit nervous about running 20 miles on an empty stomach, but cranking up the music to maximum level distracted me sufficiently for the hunger to go away. The rest of the run went very well indeed. I’m not entirely sure about my pace for the last 8 miles, but it was definitely sub-8 pace, and I felt very good all the way home. Andrew and Mike have reported similar pace increases on their long runs, but they usually accuse each other of cranking up the effort. I have but myself to blame; but I felt really good. My achilles did start hurting after about 18.5 miles; that’s the first time it started hurting while out on the road, which is a bit worrying, but funnily enough by the time I got back home the pain had gone away, and I haven’t felt anything since.

I was mightily pleased with that effort, and surprised how easy it felt. I had expected a struggle over the last 2 or 3 miles, but the fatigue never struck. For my next long run I’ll probably go for something like 22 miles, which would take me about 3 hours. I’ll decide later in the week.

It was still wet and stormy outside this morning, which made me change my plans for today’s “recovery”. I had planned an out-and-back run along Caragh Lake, but after fighting 5 miles against the wind on Friday I didn’t fancy a repeat effort and headed for the devil’s elbow loop instead. When running counter-clockwise the trees will shelter you against the headwind on the first part, and when you leave the forest behind you the wind will be mostly at your back. The drawback of that route was that it included the steepest climb of all my usual running routes, but I was willing to accept that if it meant not having to run against the storm. For a recovery effort I probably ran a bit too fast, and my heart rate was a bit higher than I would have planned, but I blame the elements on that. On a nice day a stroll along the side of Caragh Lake would have been more of a recovery run. I also encountered the pack of dogs that had attacked me twice before, but I did notice that the biggest one wore a muzzle – that’s already better than back in August. Back then D had commented that she loudly shouts “no” when a dog charges towards her. I did follow the advice and guess what? It worked. Thanks D, you most likely saved me from another bite.

Shortly after coming back home Niamh plundered my wallet and set off towards Killarney with Lola for a girls’ day out in the shops, leaving Daddy behind to look after the boys. Which would be easier if that didn’t include a toddler who hasn’t quite got the hang of the toilet yet. I guess the challenges aren’t just confined to the road.

12 Jan: 20 miles, 2:45, 8:15 pace, avg. HR 149
13 Jan: 11 miles, 1:31, 8:16 pace, avg. HR 147


  1. Good effort! You're a braver man than I to venture out in the awful weather we're having at the moment, especially for 20 miles.

  2. Yeah, I imagine a day of potty training will try you more than that 20 miler! I can't believe you could do 20 on empty. I'm also jealous to think your 22 miler will take you about three hours. Three hours gives me a 15 miler. Sheesh!

  3. Music always distracts me, too. But I can't run on an empty stomach...good for you for lasting that long.

  4. You're doing remarkably well increasing your pace over this distance in under less than perfect conditions. I thought you were in good shape during your run up to the Dublin Marathon. It would appear that are just continuing to excel. Great run.

  5. Good advice from D. I'll have to remember it.

    You're tagged--

    This is how it goes:1. Find the nearest book.2. Name the book & the author.3. Turn to page 123.4. Go to the fifth sentence on the page. Copy out the next three sentences and post to your blog.5. Tag three more folks.

  6. My son wasn't "trained" completley until he was 5 years old :(
    That's a lot of clean ups..
    Good news is, your youngest will figure it out eventually.
    Your running in all weather amazes me Thomas, well done.

  7. I wish I had your determination to get out the door in the morning. I have been having trouble being consistent with setting my alarm to run in the a.m. and actually getting out of bed to run. You make the 20 sound easy.

    Good luck with the potty training.

  8. Rain, wind, dogs, darkness, no matter, good work. I'm impressed with pushing the pace at the end all alone. This takes alot more mental energy than just trying to keep up with A.

  9. Well that warming concerns to all of us. Specially runners, I think we enjoy life in such a better way than the others and watching this is like watching that the end of the word is happening day by day becuase of our fault. Sad.

    For great runners like you, there are no boundaries for progress, it is always great to hear about it!

  10. I agree with your views on global warming, enough said.

    Great job fighting the elements, your pace makes me feel older all the time.