Thursday, July 23, 2009

Finally a long run

Despite the mileage I’m doing, my long runs haven’t actually been very long so far. I had only managed two 20-milers, one before our holiday in London and one afterwards. With the memory of me blowing up at mile 19 in Dublin last year still being very vivid (I doubt that will ever go away), I was anxious to run at least 2 longer runs in this training cycle.

It necessitated an early rise, of course, but because I’m in Caragh Lake rather than Valentia, and because there wouldn’t be any kids to feed in the morning I gave myself a bit of leeway, enough to sleep in a few minutes longer than for last week’s 18-mile run. But it was still dark when I got up. The heavy clouds and the New Moon didn’t help, of course, but I was relieved to see that the weather forecast had once more been wrong. 22 miles sounded intimidating enough as it was, and I didn’t need heavy rain to add to the challenge.

Because the marathon is less than 8 weeks away I decided not to run the very hilly Caragh Lake loop and opted for a flatter route through Killorglin and Cromane in the hope that I would be able to run a bit faster. It was the same 16-mile loop I had done 10 days earlier for my JD workout. That, and a 6-mile out-and-back spur would give me the required distance. It also sounded much less daunting that way. I can always run a 16-mile loop; the following 3 miles to the turn-around point are short enough, as are the same 3 miles back home.

After 2 very slow miles at the start that bore more resemblance to sleepwalking than running I got down to business. The next few miles saw me doing 7:30-7:40 pace, and it felt easy enough. It was not until I reached a big corner just past Killorglin when I realised why. The wind was quite wild, the trees were swaying a lot, and so far I had been pushed along. No wonder it had felt easy. The problem was, the next 7 miles towards Cromane would be right against the headwind, and I knew immediately that it would be brutal.

I counted down the miles, and grew wearier with each step. It felt like running up a never-ending incline. After fighting the elements for almost an hour I finally reached the corner of Dooks golf club at the end of that horrible stretch. By now I was utterly exhausted. I didn’t just have the previous 7 miles in my legs; the accumulated fatigue from the 3 previous days, including a race, was very noticeable. I struggled homewards, having long ago given up any plans of running fast. I no longer cared about the pace and just wanted to get this run over and done with. A gel at mile 16 revived my spirits sufficiently to feel able to continue past our driveway, and after surviving the final out-and-back section I was done in just under 3 hours. I realised that I had run over 68 miles in the last 4 days – more than 17 miles per day on average. Ok, I admit it. I’m prone to overdoing things at times.

I drove down to Valentia in the evening to visit Cian, who is having the time of his life being spoilt rotten by his grandparents in the absence of his brother, sisters and parents. He actually seemed happy to see me.

And since the mountain of Geokaun with its stupidly steep road was within reach, I used it again for hill repeats this morning. It seemed much harder work than last week though. After 4 repeats I had to pause for a few seconds, hands on knees, in order to get sufficient oxygen into my body to stop me from keeling over. Then I noticed that the following 2 repeats didn’t push the HR to the same level; I must have taken it easier. I gave myself a stern talking-to and had to promise myself to stop being such a wimp. The next repeat was full-out effort again, followed by another spell in HOK position. I only did the eighth one because I knew it would be the last one. I hope those hill repeats really do give some benefits. I’d hate the idea of all that pain being for nothing!

With Niamh still in Dublin, my training for the weekend is in doubt. Nana and Gaga will pass by on Friday, delivering Cian back home. I hope they will stay long enough on Saturday to enable me to run. Then I’ll be a single dad, unable to run, until Niamh comes back on Sunday afternoon. I’ll see how that will turn out.
22 Jul
22 miles, 2:56:16, 8:01 pace, HR 142
23 Jul
9 miles, 1:20:21, 8:56 pace, HR 142
incl. 8x45 secs steep hill sprints


  1. a hill session the day after a 22miler - do you every take it easy and recover??

  2. Sounds like you pushed it about as hard as you should have. Headwinds like that can really tear you up. I am a frequent drafter of large fast runners in marathons where I encounter such winds.

    Have fun with the kids and enjoy a break from running this weekend. Time to work on speed and maintain fitness into the race.

    Stay strong!


  3. You've got determination! That's a pretty good pace into the wind. I don't like the HOK position at all. I am very afraid of it.

  4. Great long run, well done. I'm going to do something similar this time around... 2:30, 2:45 and 3:00. Hope it works!

  5. Good long run Thomas. How many more 3 hour runs before the taper?

  6. One thing about you Thomas, you are an inspiration, HOK is a perfect example of giving it your all. Keep it up!

  7. The hard work will pay off soon enough with that 1st sub-3. Not experimenting with new energy drinks this year I hope?

  8. Just give yourself a rest day - it sounds like you might need it! I know it's hard to skip a planned day, believe me I do, but sometimes it pays off to do so. Enjoy your alone time with Cian!

  9. Totally empathise running in the wind as i have been doing the same in Blackpool for the last 2 weeks with stiff winds off the Irish Sea. Can't believe you did hill repeats after a 22 miler. Don't know about HOK, reckon i'd be OMA (on my arse) after that :)