Sunday, July 12, 2009

Gender-Related Shortcomings

On Friday Niamh casually informed me that we would be going to Valentia on Sunday, rather than Saturday. I was fine with that, but it wasn’t until yesterday that she mentioned that we would actually be staying there for a week, rather than for a day trip as I had assumed. Apparently I should have been able to work that out for myself, but my telepathic skills are sadly lacking; something I seem to have in common with most married men, if general talk is to be believed.

Anyway, the weekend weather has been pretty abysmal, but somehow I managed to avoid the worst of it. I slept for over 9 hours on Saturday, something I have not managed in a very long time. I gave breakfast to Shea and then left him on front of the television, which meant the rest of the family got even more of a lie-in, before I headed out for 10 easy miles. I could still sense some after-effects of Thursday’s hill repeats in the glutes, but that was gone before the second mile. Despite trying to keep the effort as easy as possible, the pace dropped well below 8-minute-miles, but the heart rate was low all the way through. Most importantly, I felt well recovered afterwards.

I had something new planned for today’s workout. The idea had come from Jack Daniels. Basically, I tried to run 16 miles in 4 segments, which each section one level faster on the VDOT scale. I had memorised the paces the night before, 7:17, 7:09, 7:02 and 6:56 respectively. As it turns out, I need not have bothered.

I had chosen a loop of 16 miles that would bring me via Cromane, Ballykissane and Killorglin back to Caragh Lake. It is reasonably flat, certainly as flat as you find around here. Unfortunately the weather was pretty wild, it was raining heavily every 30 minutes, and the wind was howling at 20 mph with gusts of over 30 mph. It would be on my back for the first half, and I would be fighting it on the way back home, when I was supposed to run the fastest times. Not ideal, but I set out just after 8 o’clock anyway. Somehow I managed to pick the only 2-hours window of the day without rain, but the sun, when it shone, made me feel uncomfortably hot. The first segment was net downhill, and I found it very hard to tune into the right pace. I was a good bit faster, and every time I tried to reign myself in, I found myself at the old, fast, pace again after a minute or two. I knew I would be paying the price for that later on. After 4 miles I could actually slow down for the second quarter. This was the flattest segment, and with the wind mostly at my back I found it very easy. It was slightly weird to have the HR around 155 when this was supposed to be a tough workout, but I knew the real work was yet to come. After 4 more miles I had to accelerate a little bit, which I found hard psychologically after the easy segment. When I checked the Garmin half a mile later, I could see why it was so hard – I was doing 6:30 pace rather than 7:02. Thomas you idiot! I slowed down a bit, which made the next 2 miles go fairly easy again, but then I turned into the wind, and it was brutal! I made the mistake of working much too hard in order to stay under the pace threshold, even though the road was climbing and the wind was threatening to blow me back at times. Accordingly I was already knackered by the time the fourth and final segment started. I had all kinds of excuses: I had started too fast, the wind made the running much tougher than it should have been, and I was about to finish 100 miles this week. I toyed with the idea of running 2 miles at that harder effort and then jogging home, but at that point I passed the apex of the entire course, and the rest would be slightly downhill. Jogging downhill felt like a waste and I kept the effort going. For the last mile I imagined myself to be at the end of the Dingle marathon, which made me push harder for the way home. I was still surprised to see the pace for the last segment at 6:56, exactly on target. I’ll gladly take that. But tomorrow’s 20 miler is off the agenda. I need some rest.
11 Jul
10 miles, 1:18:05, 7:48 pace, HR 142
12 Jul
16 miles, 1:52:05, 7:00 pace, HR 159
4x4 miles @ 7:00 (HR 154), 7:05 (155), 6:59 (161), 6:56 (169)

Weekly Mileage: 100


  1. That was an awesome workout! It must feel great to be able to do that. It shows you are getting fitter and attaining a new level of stamina.

    Good call on the 20 miler. We can't do everything.

  2. Tough workout indeed. Although I suspect the effect Daniels was looking for was somewhat different.

  3. You really should give yourself a break sometimes Thomas and allow the elements to help instead of hinder. But then would be using the wind and downhills be cheating in your books? But with 100 mile weeks I's say not. Nice work.

  4. Great week and an epic w/o... that sort of thing will do you wonders! I'm looking ofrward to seeing how you do. Keep it up!

  5. That was a good 16 miler (in spite of the 'idiot' pacing ;) You're marathon fit, that's for sure. Just have to edge it up a bit and then get to the line raring to go!