Sunday, December 06, 2009

No Secrets

Having just re-started my training after a very long period of relative rest, I was not really in the mood for racing. I knew I would not be able to get anywhere near my personal best, and the pain of racing didn’t feel overly appealing either. Maybe that’s why I decided to deliberately sabotage my race today by going swimming for an hour beforehand. A swimming workout was necessary to practise my kick after Wednesday’s lesson, but I could have done it after the race. Nevertheless I decided to do it beforehand.

I left a bit late and didn’t quite manage an hour, but I was suitably tired when I heaved myself out of the swimming pool about 50 minutes before race start. But the heavy feeling did leave my legs eventually, and it is impossible to say if it had any influence on my race performance. Funnily enough, I met my swimming instructor at the start line – a minute later he would leave in the dust (or muck, as it were).

Due to flooding in the park we raced over a different course than the usual one, and I had heard from runners who had attended the race 4 weeks ago that it was a tough one. The start was at the same point, and I proceeded at what seemed appropriate pace, but I did notice that a fair amount of the field was ahead of me. I kept tracking a few runners that tend to be in my general vicinity in races and I thought I was going a bit slower than usual, but if so then not by much.

The big one came shortly after the 2km mark. For the last few minutes I had stayed tucked behind a white-haired runner from Eagles AC, trying to find some shelter from the rather strong wind. Then we turned and went up a hill, not steep but long. And up. And up. And up. It took all the way to the 3km marker to finally reach the top, by which I had lost a couple of places – I have never been the best of uphill runners. I did manage to make up a place or 2 at the following downhill section, and then things got a bit confusing. As we proceeded along the race course, a few runners came from the right. They must have cut off a part of the course, but I recognised 2 of them and they tend to be way ahead of me at all times; I have no idea how they ended up on that stretch. Anyway, the last mile mostly followed most of the early part of the racecourse, except that we didn’t make a sharp left turn at the end but had to race up the hill that always marks the end of races in Killarney National Park. I half-heartedly tried to close the gap to the old geezer in front (I’ll join that status soon) but was left floundering. When I saw the timer at the finish line it showed 18:50; I tried to come home under 19:00 but failed. My watch showed 19:00 exactly at the end, and they might add a second for the final result.

Considering that I’m at the very start of a training cycle and have forgotten how to hurt in a race I was reasonably happy with the time, if not with my lack of racing enthusiasm. But if 19:00 is the marker of my basic fitness on a tough course in less-than-ideal conditions, then I’m happy enough with that. I can build on that over the next few weeks. There are plenty of races over the holiday period, and I’ll use them as speed workouts. That seemed to work well during the summer and I’m hoping for more of the same. There is one more race of the same 5k race series in one week’s time, to make up for the race that had been cancelled a fortnight ago. Maybe I can improve on today's time if I won’t wear myself out by swimming to exhaustion beforehand. What did surprise me was my average heart rate of 177. I must have been working harder than I’d thought.

I chatted to several people after the race, including John Walshe from Ballycotton who confirmed that I have made it into next year’s race (that’s never a given due to its popularity), so that’s a bonus. But I noticed that every single time I tried to tell something to one of the guys I was chatting with, they responded with “I know, I’ve read that on your blog”. It looks like I’m man without secrets these days.

Shortly after coming home, Cian wore himself out racing up and down the house. Then he came to us, out of breath, and said: "I feel like a rubbish runner!" I know how that feels!

5 Dec
5 miles, 41:42, 8:18 pace, HR 140
6 Dec
45 minutes swim, 5 miles run including:
  Killarney 5K, 19:00, HR 177, ~20th position probably

Weekly Mileage: 46


  1. Yes Thomas, there are no secrets in bloggsville (I even know Mike ran 2:47 at CIM without looking up the results).

    19-flat isn't too shabby really - especially as you're putting a lot of energy into the swim training.

  2. 19:00 for a low-key 5k is bloody good going.

    The swim after the race would have been ideal for recovery.

  3. Couldn't catch the old geezer, eh? I saw Ed Whitlock at the Cabot Trail relay flying by a ton of youngsters so don't worry about it. You've got a good base of speed and endurance to work with (I think).

  4. swimming! i've obviously missed a few things!