Monday, October 19, 2009

Slightly Jaded

The Dublin marathon is exactly 7 days from now and I have never been so lukewarm about a race as this one. I do read a busy online forum and some people are downright giddy with excitement; all I can think is “oh calm down, it’s only a marathon”.

The legs have never really gotten that spring back after the Dingle marathon, but the biggest issue is the cold that had me down last week. While I feel perfectly fine now, the effects are still in my system and they are clearly measurable. My resting HR yesterday was still 45, and I don’t think it will come down by any meaningful amount until next Monday. I always knew that running two marathons within 6 weeks was a risk, of course, but right now can’t help but wonder what I let myself in for.

We all drove to Cork early on Saturday, and I originally planned to bin my run. There’s no need to get up at 6 am on the weekend for a recovery run. However, I was wide awake at 5:30, and when I was still wide awake at 6:10 I got up, threw on some shorts and shoes and went for a quick 5 miler. I was actually pleased to see the HR down in comparison to Thursday. Maybe some progress is being made after all?

Cork was great fun, the rest of us went swimming while Lola had her course, and since the boys are slowly getting the hang of the water, Niamh and me took turns holding the baby and doing some actual swimming, something that wasn’t on the cards for years when we had to look after 2/3/4 young children at all times in the pool. We then went to Blackrock Castle, the outside of which was familiar to me from the Cork marathon. The kids loved the interactive observatory stuff, we spent well over an hour in there, and I can heartily recommend it for a family outing.

Maybe it was the drive, or the swimming, or just one of those days, but I was much more sluggish on Sunday. I did 6 miles with a set of strides. It was supposed to be a slow run and I ran the first half slightly slower than 8:00 pace. Somehow I must have speeded up on the way home, not just for the strides but also for the supposed jogs in-between, and I felt surprisingly tired at the end.

With 7 days to go I went for 13 miles this morning, my last run of any sort of distance. It was pitch dark outside and the headlamp saw another outing. I ran the reasonably flat route through Cromane and added a couple of miles afterwards to get the required miles. However, the wind was quite blustery at times and for some reason I was really feeling some soreness in various parts of my body. This was not a good run.

There are some pace groups in this year’s Dublin marathon and the 3-hours one obviously caught my interest. And Grellan seems to have found a set of mates who intend on going out at 7:00 pace. Both groups are very tempting for tagging along and I was wavering which one would be better. Of course I want to break 3 hours, but if you can’t keep that pace it would be a big mistake in going out that fast. After all, even 7:00 pace would get me a new PR. However, coming home this morning feeling exhausted after 13 miles at 7:40 pace I was wondering who I’m trying to kid, I can’t keep either pace for 26 miles! While Grellan is doing his marathon pace runs I’m slugging along a minute per mile slower and end up exhausted just the same.

There’s still hope that another week of rest will miraculously transform me back into a marathon runner, but I won’t be holding my breath. I’ll definitely run the race, there’s no chickening out, but right now my expectations aren’t exactly high. At the moment I just want the whole thing to be over with.
17 Oct
5 miles, 40:28, 8:06 pace, HR 140
18 Oct
6 miles, 46:53, 7:49 pace, HR 152
incl. 8x100 strides
19 Oct
13 miles, 1:39:49, 7:41 pace, HR 153


  1. You should have told me you were coming to Cork. I run past Blackrock Castle every day (that I run)as I only live about a mile away. There's a nice 10k or 8 mile loop from there and it's all flat.

    I had the same feeling between Rotterdam and Cork and the warm weather in Cork and a poor time was enough to de-motivate me to stop at half way. Only as I ran it did I realise that my mental determination was low.

    If you slow down by another 5 - 10 seconds a mile I'll keep you company for next monday!

  2. Ideally you'd be bouncing off the walls a week out from a marathon. It's definitely an indication you've maybe tried to squeeze this one in too soon after the last one. But on the other hand, sometimes going in with tired legs/mind can actually work to your advantage. You've put in a whole lot of training, and the body is ready to push it into a new gear. Don't let the anxious mind ruin your day. I say give it supreme effort near the 7min pace group. Your heart rate is up because of the cold, which explains your exhaustion at 7:30 pace. Throw all of that out the window: you are ready to groove one. I would be much more worried if you felt all hunky-dory blissful this week. You are right where you want to be, have faith!

  3. Thomas, look up 'taper' and next time see if you can do one. You have done great training and really inspire me when I am feeling a bit lazy - if you can get up at 5.30 etc... rain then I gan do my required run before or after work too, so you helped me a few times unknown to you. But I think you perhaps (just me opinion and I am no expert) push yourself too hard for too long, a decent 3 week taper with a final week break might give you the feeling of elation before the race. Check out Hal Higdons marathon plans on the web - even his advanced 2 schedule has a decent taper and is good for a 3hr race. Best of luck with your attempt at 3hrs - I'd love to see you do it this time!

  4. Hi Thomas,
    Still enough time to rest up and feel ready for next week. I wouldn't panic just yet. I hope you're feeling better by the weekend. I experienced a similar lack of excitement between Connemarathon and Cork.

  5. With your tremendous base and stength I'm sure you'll race well. Good luck!

  6. Have faith, and a good race. Relax, and I wish you all the best.

  7. Thomas your best bet is to go into the race with no expectations, no point in putting pressure on yourself. Start out at a reasonable pace and you'll know within the first few miles whether it's right for you and you can adjust accordingly.

    While I have my 7 minute pace I don't know how i'll do on the day and certainly maintaining pace beyond 15 to 20 miles is always the great unknown. I'm not really setting a time objective for myself, just a pacing strategy, that I may well have to adjust depending on conditions on the day - a strategy that should give me plenty of cushion for a PB, which remains my primary target.

    I have the sense to know that the sub 3 hour is not in me yet and a 3:03 or a 3:08 doesn't have the same ring to it as a 2:59 - so there's less pressure on achieving a specific time, which will hopefully ensure less headwrecking mind games on the day.

  8. agree with grellan and lots of other good advice here.. in your situation i'd take the pressure off myself. go and run the the marathon and see how you feel. we all do it, but no point putting pressure on yourself now - that won't help you or your race on saturday.. you have the fitness...i suspect on the day you will feel much better and may even enjoy it.

  9. There's still time for things to come around. Feeling good on the day is the main thing and the taper should give you that.

    I suggest starting with no groups and just run to what the beginning of a marathon should feel like (very easy) - then hook up with a group after 5 or 10k. Anyway, enjoy the rest of the week!

  10. Hi Thomas

    All the best for your next Marathon.

    I haven't got any advice as you are the one who knows best how you feel and what you can do.

    I just hope you have a great run and finish feeling satisfied that you did your best on the day.

    Look forward to reading all about it.


  11. Thomas,

    Best of luck next Monday.

    I will be there also hoping to get under 3.30 which would qualify me for Boston next April.