Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Mind Over Mattress

It was a busy weekend. My mom arrived on Saturday, and on Sunday we went to see Lola’s ballet performance in Tralee. It’s her third time on stage; Niamh had originally suggested I could skip it this year, but changed her mind and we all went. 2 hours of ballet (and not of the highest quality, let’s face it) isn’t exactly my idea of great entertainment, but Lola was thrilled, we saw her twice on stage, and the show was over before I had lost the will to live (Cian just about managed that, too). Duty fulfilled.

On Sunday night my mom asked what time we would get up the next morning. She immediately dismissed my answer of 5 am and kept talking to Niamh. See how we runners are getting sidelined?

Anyway, 5 am it was and while I didn’t need the alarm I was highly tempted to stay in bed. As mentioned, I’m fighting off some bug at the moment. My throat was sore and I felt a slight constriction of the chest. Not only would that provide a perfectly valid excuse to sleep in, plenty of people call it a lack of common sense to go running in that state. However, running I did and it went surprisingly well. The long run has slowly been building up over the last few weeks and it’s now in bona fide long run territory with 18+ miles. I was surprised to feel better than last week. The chest opened up after a mile, the climbs up those hills seemed to pass reasonably well, and I got some stretches of good pace in-between. Just after mile 13 I could feel my strength wavering, which it could have been a sign of the coming struggle, but then I remembered the gel I carried in my pocket for emergencies. It must have been purely psychological because I felt a boost within seconds and the last 5 miles went much better than expected. I didn’t push the effort, but I managed 7:36 pace on that final stretch all the same, a decent enough result. I slightly misjudged the distance and ended up doing a bit extra, but the legs were in good shape and could have gone further.

Long runs are one thing, tempo efforts are a different kettle, and I did wonder if my slightly compromised state would allow me to finish today’s run. Last week I had done 3x2 miles, today I swapped it round for 2x3 miles, which obviously amounts to the same distance covered at effort. There’s not much to say, it went by reasonably well. After the first warm-up mile I could breathe freely, a few strides added some zip to the legs, and then I was off at roughly marathon pace, but probably with an effort that was a bit higher than what I could sustain for 26 miles, in all honesty. What pleases me this year is that I seem to be able to run the later parts of these runs at pretty much the same speed as the start. Last year I was constantly moaning about the fact that I always finished slower than I had begun. I’m not quite there yet, but the terrain over the second part was net uphill, even if the wind, for once coming the other way, did do its part to even out the effort required. A few strides during the cool down mile rounded up the run. I was quite pleased with the way it had gone. Running 3 miles fast in one go can sound a bit daunting at first, but I held on without undue stress.

I had one more small victory when I stepped on the scales afterwards. For the first time since April my weight has dipped under 150 pounds. Things in that department are moving rather slowly, mostly because I regard restricting calories while doing high mileage training as madness, but they are moving in the right direction for once. And all I had to do was to run over 90 miles a week. Who’d have thought! Let’s have some chocolate cake to celebrate!
8 Jun
18.2 miles, 2:23:54, 7:54 pace, HR 146
last 5 miles @ 7:36
9 Jun
10 miles, 1:12:33. 7:15 pace, HR 155
incl. 2x3 miles @ 6:53, 6:56; strides


  1. Jeez... 2 hours of ballet dancing!
    Most have felt like the last 6 miles of a marathon after hitting the wall!
    If you can withstand that a sub 3 should be a piece of cake!

  2. What? You don't appreciate the finer points of ballet? You know, then they do that thing... and the other thing... and the twerly thing...

    Anyway, nice job with the long run and the speed work. It sounds like whatever constriction you are feeling isn't preventing you from getting in some good workouts. I'm hoping I can reach those kinds of paces at some point.

  3. I feel your pain. I had a similar ballet experience with my two a few weeks ago. well done for pulling through!!

  4. I'd prefer 2 hours running any day. That said the best ballet I even saw was the day my third daughter was born on 25th May 1999 and her two sisters performed in a school production - I was in hysterics, so funny.

    If in doubt you always tend to err on the side of running and when running on the side of more is better - the addiction is all consuming.

    I'm afraid to step on a scales at the momenent as my 90 miles at week is in the car.

  5. 5k repeat is a classic marathoner's workout. I plan on a bunch of those this time around too.

  6. Nice long run, welcome back to marathon training.

  7. That sounded like a tough session - I'm not talking about the 2 x 3 miles, I'm talking about the 2 hours of ballet!

    I hope the bug is nothing to worry about and the rest of the week goes just as well.