Tuesday, June 02, 2009

An Actual Irish Summer

With Niamh back home, life has returned to the state of manic chaos that that defines life with four young children. What's new are the cloudless blue skies that we've had above our heads for the last few days, something that's even supposed to last for a bit longer. Yesterday was warmer than any day in 2008, and I'm pretty sure 2007 would fall into this category as well. Everyone loved it - except the runners of the Cork City marathon. How the organisers managed to have their marathon on one of the hottest days of the year for the third time in a row is a mystery to me. Last year was hot but I found it manageable. Yesterday seems to have been on another level though, and the runners I know personally ended up with a DNF. Talks of carnage have reached me, but that's to be expected if temperatures are jumping stratospheric all of a sudden. This is Ireland - nobody in Cork would have been heat acclimatised.

From a selfish point of view I loved the fact that yesterday was a bank holiday, which enabled me to sleep in and still get a long run under the belt. First thing in the morning I managed to pull the boys apart who were about to tear lumps out of each other (again!) and was out of the house just before 8 o'clock. By some miracle Niamh managed to sleep for another hour after that, by which time I was almost halfway around the lake. It was around that time that the temperatures started to become noticeable, but thankfully I was able to get back home before it became unbearable. I did spare a thought for all the marathon runners who were well on their way at that stage. Personally, I was more than happy to leave it at 16.5 miles. Another 10 would have been a challenge.

As it turned out, this was just about the easiest part of the day, because for the next 6 hours I was busy in the garden, something that has dominated my weekend. Saturday ended dramatically when a cloud of midges descended onto me - I ran into the house, and counted no less than 50 inspect bites on my left arm alone. All in all I must have had close to 200. I took an antihistamine because I was worried about getting a reaction. Sunday and Monday were not quite as spectacular, but parts of my skin look like an inverted cratered moon surface. Add to that the fact that my hay fever is at its worst presently and you get a picture of my present state.

Today is a normal office day, which meant getting up early just after 6 o'clock. The training program had a tempo day on the schedule, but with my aching legs (as well as shoulders and back) I was less than sure that this would be a good idea. I set out anyway, and did a set of strides during the warm-up to get the legs working. I decided to go ahead with the planned 3x2 miles; I doubted that I would be able to get under 7:00 pace, but surprised myself. What was most noticeable was the fact that I could not get my HR up to the usual rate. It seemed to be stuck in the 150s, only when the road was climbing did I reach 160 and I never went past that mark. On a normal day I would expect it to be 10 beats higher. Assuming that the HRM was working correctly, this was quite extraordinary. A low HR is not necessarily a good sign. It can be a signal that you're overtrained - there simply are not enough muscle fibres available for work. This may well have been the case today, but since the main reason for my exhaustion was the gardening work I'm pretty sure this will right itself soon enough. As it was, I was quite happy with all three 2-mile segments. The second one was a tad faster than the first (a rarity for me), and the third was just a bit slower because it was over the most challenging terrain. All in all a good workout taking the state of my legs into account.
1 Jun
16.5 miles, 2:11:13, 7:57 pace, HR 152
2 Jun
10 miles, 1:16:18, 7:38 pace, HR 145
incl. 5x100 strides, 3x2 miles@ 6:56, 6:55, 6:59


  1. Bug bites? Yuck! I've got two from my run through the woods and can hardly stand the itching. I don't know how you could stand 200!!

    The weather is pretty warm here too - and you're right, lovely as long as you are not trying to run a race. Enjoy it while it lasts - think of it next winter when the gale force wind and rain strike!

  2. We only have to contend with giant mozzies and blow flies down here ;)

    Your pace on the miles was consistent. I tend to agree with the tiredness (from gardening) theory about why you couldn't get the HR up. It's usually never a problem when one is fresh.

  3. Nothing wrong with a bank holiday to get the long run in.

    In my third marathon the temps hit 95 on a March day. Very unusual, even for the desert. I ended up walking from the 15 mile mark to the finish. I think it was a smart thing to do. I finished but I avoided the carnage in the medical tent.

  4. Bug bites suck. But I think they suck even more if you have no recollection of getting bitten, nor any idea on what exactly bit you.

    Nicely done on the runs!