Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A New Life

The entire family were out hiking on Sunday afternoon when the long awaited news finally arrived: Niamh’s sister had given birth to a baby girl, and everyone was delighted, especially Lola. As a result Niamh is going to fly to Dublin on Friday with Cian and Maia, and I’m going to follow them on Saturday with the twins after their classes in Cork. This obviously means that I’m not going to run Sunday’s race in Adare, which is a shame. Racing myself into shape has worked very well in past training cycles, but this time pure training alone will have to do the trick, because I think Ballycotton might be the only race between now and Boston.

I re-checked the schedules, and to be fair Ron Daws is not calling the present phase anaerobic, but aerobic-anaerobic. The aerobic part is well taken care of by two long runs, and the anaerobic part consists of a fast day on the weekend and either a time trial or a hill workout in midweek. In short, this isn’t too different from the previous phase, but the hard days are getting a bit harder and the easy days a bit easier.

Monday’s 20 miler came as a shock to the system. Not only was it the longest run of the entire calendar year so far, I have only once run over 15 miles in 2009, and that was a mere 18 miles at the beginning of January. I thought about building the mileage gradually and only do 18 yesterday, but decided that since this wasn’t exactly the first time I have been training for a marathon I would jump straight into it and quit making excuses. It required a very early rise on Monday. When the hour of the alarm clock is still at 4 by the time I get up it drives home the message that, yes, this is early. Then, still very early in the run my headlamp started to fail, I think the batteries had run out. I had to negotiate the road into Ard-na-Sidhe in near darkness, I could barely make out the road, it was more sensing it rather than seeing it. It was only possible because I am so familiar with that stretch, but I managed to get through without bumping into anything, and once I got out of the wood things became a lot clearer.

Not only was Sunday’s 60/60 workout in my legs, the aforementioned hike must have left a mark as well, because by mile 12 I was getting increasingly weary. I took an emergency gel, but that seemed to vaporise in my stomach and didn’t give me the boost I was hoping for. I was tempted to call it a day when I passed our driveway at mile 15, but only stopped for a second to deposit the useless headlamp and headed off for an out-and-back stretch, again to Ard-na-Sidhe, but in brighter conditions this time. I kept telling myself that I can always run the meagre 2.5 miles to the turnaround point, no matter how tired. Any thoughts of a strong finish went out of the window, and I was glad to have enough fumes onboard to get me back home eventually. Hard work it was, but it was eminently satisfying to note down a big fat 20 into the training log.

With the easy days getting easier only 8 miles were on the program today, and they were always going to be slow. Keeping Saturday’s lesson in mind I kept checking the Garmin to ensure that I was going slow at all times, but this wasn’t really necessary. My weary legs never had the slightest inclination of speeding up, and the heart rate subsequently was the lowest since a run early September.

Things are going to be disrupted for a few days; apart from going to Dublin for the weekend, I’ll be in Cork for the next two days for a training course. However, they do have roads to run on in Cork as well, and my gear is packed. I just have to make sure to be on my guard if Grellan wants to prime me with Guinness.
23 Feb
20 miles, 2:42:15, 8:07 pace, HR 147
24 Feb
8 miles, 1:07:09, 8:24 pace, HR 133


  1. Congrats on the new niece! And good one on the 20 miler.

  2. It is great that you have recovered from your flu-like illness. The way your persevered through the rough patch was inspiring.

  3. Well done on the long run, I can't believe you are up at 4:XX, crazy, but inspiring all the same. I'm glad to see that you're holding your own, and congratulations on the niece.

  4. Great news about the new niece. That sounds funny!

    Knowing every dip and rock on the road comes in handy on those occasions - are there runs longer than 20 miles in the Ron Daws program?

  5. I can do all of that (except more slowly) except the getting up at times before 07:00hrs. I'd rather do my long runs after 22:00hrs if I had to!

  6. A big fat 20, hard earned or otherwise, always looks and feels good.

    Well done.