Saturday, July 04, 2009


I was a bit unsure how much I should rest before today's race. I didn't want to take too much time off the hard training, but I had been feeling so fatigued at the start of the week that some downtime was required anyway. On the other hand, I already started feeling better on Tuesday.

So, after consulting Jack Daniels' oeuvre, I decided to run hill repeats on Wednesday, which made it 2 workout days in a row after Tuesday's 3-mile repeats. But I always recover very quickly from hill repeats, and so it proved again. Then it was time to take it really easy on Thursday. I even cut down the planned 8 miles to 7 because of a mishap; but I was really pleased to see the low HR during the run. The humidity has receded somewhat, and I can tell the difference.

Today, Friday, was the day of the race. I have done this 5K 4 times in a row now, which makes this my most frequently participated race of all. After last week's disaster I was rather apprehensive. Another bad performance would pretty much confirm that I am out of shape, and with 10 weeks until Dingle there would not really be time to make major changes.

The start was supposed to be at 7 pm, which made for a rather tight time frame to get there after work. But the queue at the signup told me that the start would be delayed by even more than the usual amount. I took my time with the warm-up, and had to opportunity to chat to some guys I had known only “virtually” up to now. It's always fun to meet up in real life and put a face to the name (or nick). I was also asked two or three times if I'm the guy “with the website”.

Anyway, more than 20 minutes late we finally gathered at the start line, and we were off. I quickly settled into a pace that felt slightly aggressive but manageable. I was surprised to find myself behind a group of no less than 5 female runners, but that group broke up soon enough. One, the leading lady, pushed ahead, then there were 2 more right in front of me, and the rest fell behind. I knew one of the pair in front of me, Ann-Marie, from last year. She tends to start fast, but I know that if I can keep up initially and then manage to overtake her, I'm running a decent race. History repeated itself, somewhere between km 1 and 2 I went past her, and settled behind lady no. 2. She managed to pull away slightly at one point, we both passed 2 runners who obviously had started too fast, and on a slight uphill segment I managed to draw up to her. That's rather unusual, normally I tend to lose time on the uphill and gain it back on the downhill; maybe the weekly hill repeat sessions are starting to pay off. Anyway, on the next uphill segment I managed to pass her and she soon fell behind.

We had already passed the 3 km marker, my calves were hurting, but I knew this would be over soon. I imagined a bungee rope pulling me towards the next runner in front of me, maybe 10 meters ahead. It seemed to work, I slowly managed to draw closer, and just before the 4 km marker I went past. The next guy was a good bit further ahead, and I knew that I would be unlikely to close the gap, but I tried anyway. I concentrated on keeping a quick turnover, lifting the knees and pumping the arms, but by now I was redlining and didn't have much more to give. The finish is the only cruel part of an otherwise easy course, it's a drawn-out uphill that really saps the strength out of your legs. I got closer to my runner ahead, but I did not have the required finishing speed to draw level, and we crossed the line in quick succession.

I had managed not to look at the Garmin for the entire race, and only now got an indication of how I had been doing. The time was 18:38, a whopping 46 seconds faster than last week, and virtually the same pace as during the Kerry RR championship back in April, before Boston. Before the race I had stated that I would be happy to beat 19 minutes, so obviously I was really happy about this. I was on a real high afterwards.

The HR data on the chart is remarkably smooth. I don't think I have ever seen a HR line rising steadily all the way to the finish like this, at least not one that had been produced by myself. I take this a sign of a well executed race. The other thing of note is that I didn't start wheezing at all, in marked contrast to the race in Ardfert 2 months ago, when I had been wheezing like a steam engine for virtually the entire race. I presume it means that my aerobic engine is in remarkable shape, which would be great news as far as my marathon training is concerned.

This is what you race for, the feeling of satisfaction after pushing hard during a race is something most people won't ever appreciate. Even better, now I know that I'm indeed getting into decent shape. The recent hard training wasn't wasted time and effort after all.

1 Jul
10.5 miles, 1:24:54, 8:05 pace, HR 146
incl. 3 miles @ 6:48, 8x45 secs hill sprints
2 Jul
7 miles, 57:54, 8:16 pace, HR 133
3 Jul
11 miles, including:
Killarney Summerfest 5K, 18:38, 6:01 pace, HR 176


  1. Wonderful! You're right about that satisfaction. Sounds like you were in control the entire time. Great job.

  2. Impressive time. Hell man - you should be running down the wing for City at that pace.

  3. Nice race time-good for you!

  4. Alright!! That's a great time and glad your encouraged!

  5. It just shows what a little rest before a race can do. Well done!

  6. nice job - your back on course. It helps not going sightseeing before a race!!

  7. Congratulations Thomas! I can only Dream about flying that fast as you did.

  8. Congratulations on a great run. Racing other runners is usually a better strategy than racing the clock. And moderate speed sessions are usually better than long runs in the week before a race.
    It is good to hear that you were not troubled by wheezing, though I am not sure wheezing is simply a matter of greater aerobic fitness. Was the air temperature higher than it has been at Ardfert?

  9. More and more people are telling me they've found my website - I have to admit, I don't like it.

    Well raced - shame I didn't know it was running late. The barriers were still up when we arrived. I'd have jumped from the car if I'd known the race had only just started. Dammit!!

  10. Great comeback Thomas. Tiredness was the problem last time. Shows you're on track for a fast marathon.

    Agree about the HR graph - that's what you want it to look like.