Saturday, July 14, 2012


Turns out I can't afford a 46 inch plasma telly, so I guess I'm stuck with running for the time being. In addition to that, Niamh has been asking since Wednesday when I would go running again and I thought I'd better go before she throws me out of the house. This morning I caved in and did 5 slow, relaxed, easy miles. I was only halfway down our driveway when my left knee started hurting again, the same pain that was with me for the last hour in Bangor. However, it was manageable, especially once the endorphins kicked in. My general experience is that niggles heal quicker if you do some easy running than from complete rest, and that's what I intend on doing anyway.

I spent most of the week recovering from and thinking about the race, of course. I am immensely grateful for everything the RD and his team did. There can't possibly be any money in this type of event; they are doing it purely for the love of it. If there was one criticism, it would be that they should reserve the seats at the prize ceremony for the athletes. I was standing at the back initially and got dizzy. I suspected low blood sugar and drank a can of coke, but that did not help. I literally held on to the wall or I would have collapsed there and then, until I managed to grab a seat. I am not exaggerating. 90 minutes after the race, just as I was about to enter our apartment, I fainted. Niamh had seen me wobble in the lift and tried to help but I brushed her off, apparently, passing out a second later. After coming round I managed to crawl into our bedroom and into bed with my last ounce of strength; it took a while for me to move again. It wasn't low blood sugar, just complete exhaustion. I had felt fine during the race, but as soon as the adrenaline wore off I was spent.

I spent a significant part of the next 36 hours asleep, uncomfortable during the first night but better the second one. Usually I am ravenous after a race but this time my stomach seemed to have shrunk. I could only eat very little at a time, but made up for it by eating at least 10 times a day.

My knee was quite painful for a day or two but settled down eventually. My right foot was badly swollen. For 3 or 4 days I did not have an ankle. This has mostly gone away now, but there is still some swelling left, I still can't see my metatarsals. I have big chafing marks on my stomach from the pins and near both elbows where the end of the t-shirt must have rubbed against my skin, something I hadn't even noticed during the race.

I cannot go without writing a special thank you to my crew, Jo Fearon. I really think I had the best crew of the entire field, including the elites. Plenty of times during the race I saw Eddie and John standing next to their table. In contrast I never had to stop, and that kind of thing does add up over 24 hours. While it is perfectly possible to run this race without a crew, it is not possible to run your best race that way. Jo was worth a minimum of 10 miles, probably more.

I keep looking at the official race report and it still hasn't quite sunk in. "Eddie Gallen tried to go with the Austrian but had to settle for third." That's an international runner they're talking about, and little old me! To his full credit, Eddie always remained nice and friendly on and off the track even though I'm sure he wasn't too happy with the result. He is a true sportsman.

I'm sure the miserable conditions worked in my favour. I overheard John saying "who would train in weather like that". Well, actually, I do. I always run before work, no matter the weather and I have run in heavy rain and wind more often than I care to think about. This is Kerry after all. Last weekend I got the rewards for that.

Eoin Keith was particularly complimentary. He told me how impressed he was with my d├ębut, and later stated that he thinks I have found my natural distance and that it would be interesting how I can build on that. The one problem I have with that is that they seem to expect me to do it again! And why does my natural distance have to be something that hurts quite so much!

Frank Shorter once said you cannot run a marathon until you have forgotten the last one. For me, that applies to last week's race. As long as the struggle is still as vivid in my memory as it is right now, I cannot see myself do that again. I am very much aware how quickly we forget, but I'm not there just yet.

14 Jul
5 miles, 44:34, 8:54 pace


  1. Thomas,
    Again, congratulations for your result. About the dizziness, check your iron (Ferritin). AC

  2. Thomas, amazing performance again. The near even splitting for each 12 hour half is by far the most impressive and unbelievable achievement.

    "Little old Me"!!! You can't hide under the "rubbishrunner" title any more. Coming second in the National 24-hour, ahead of "elites" means that you are one of the very elites you write about and you better get used to it. The only thing with elites is that we always expect a great performance from them - you are a marked man form now on.

  3. Once you've completed the '1 easy recovery day for each mile of the race' rule I'm sure your memory will be dim enough to start planning the next one.

    Besides, as Grellan said, you're no longer a rubbish runner. Well, like Martin Fryer, you're a rubbish marathoner but an elite 24-hour racer.

  4. Massive congrats on your achievement. I have to say it's was no surprise that were able to post a distance over 120 miles, your previous performances and training all pointed to putting away a great performance. Getting it all right on the day is something else all together, and on such a day too, man that weather sounded awful.

    Fainting after an big ultra is not at all unusual, continuously moving for 24 hours taxes and fatigues the heart, and while you are moving your legs will be helping pump blood around your body, but when you stop moving your legs their blood pumping action disappears and your poor fatigued heart has to take all the strain, it can't so blood pressure goes down and you... faint. Getting your head down at the same level or below your heart will get the blood pressure back up for your brain to keep functioning.

    Take it easy with recovery, if your knee heats just keep your runs short and easy. Consider doings some recovery runs bearfoot or in minimal shoes as this will ease you towards a mid-foot strike which will be easier on the knees. Also swimming is a great way to take the load off but get the blood flowing.

  5. Thomas,
    Without taking away from your race I feel I need to respond to some points of your race analysis which are partly in defense of my support crew. I stopped because I chose to stop and not because of any crewing issues. I always knew my position in the race thanks to my crew and they helped me to do enough while minimising any unnecessary discomfort caused by a problem I was having.
    Eddie didn't have a support crew and even if he did he would always stop as he prefers not to eat while moving.


    1. John, I only reflected my subjective perceptions in this post. It was never my intention to criticise your support crew, who were always friendly and supportive to me as well. I just thought my own crew was exceptionally good. If you stopped by choice, that's fair enough, and I was under the impression that the guys looked after Eddie as well.

      If I gave the impression that I was criticising your crew then I apologise, this was not what I meant to say.

  6. We won't be falling out over it:)

    1. Aww, a bit of smack talk to get him rilled up and ready to 'do it again' could be just the thing ;)