Sunday, February 10, 2013

Only One Hill

South Kerry isn't exactly blessed with a lot of road races, so a 10k in Kenmare came as a nice change of scenery. After running 3 times under 18 minutes for a 5k (even if one of them was rounded up to 18), I expected a pretty good time for Saturday's 10k run. I regard my present 10k PB as rather soft at this stage and was quite confident yet another PB was winging its way to me. I had been doing nothing but short and easy runs all week, a combination of Disneyland and recovery from last week's mega sessions, so in theory I should have been well rested and raring to go. In reality I felt as sluggish on Saturday as I had on Friday, something I could not quite explain, but I was still highly confident. Some of my best races had come after feeling sluggish during the warm up.

Four guys went off at the front and I was right behind. I was unsure how to pace myself for a 10k, so I guessed I'd better back off a little because following right behind Ed and Arthur isn't generally a good idea for me. The downside of it all was that I had a group disappearing up front and another group well behind me, and I was left running entirely on my own in fifth place for much of the race; this had become a glorified tempo run all of a sudden.

After two miles it became something else entirely because now we were climbing the hill. I had run a 10k with a monster hill in Kenmare two years ago and was wondering if the course was the same. Turns out - it was, at least for the first 7k, and yes, that included the entire hill. With nobody around me I found it very tricky to find the right effort, so I just kept going at a level that felt tough but just about sustainable. Twice I heard something/somebody behind me and it sure felt like somebody was closing in, but I resisted temptation of turning back and just sped up instead. After finally reaching the top, well over 200 feet higher, the downhill run was very, very steep with plenty of loose gravel around, so you had to mind your step if you wanted to avoid a face plant, though that's all relative when running at sub-5 pace (not something I can say very often!).

At 7k I saw another runner ahead of me, a rather surprising development. I closed in very quickly and saw that it was Ed. There was something not quite right, Ed is one of the top road racers in the county and should have been about 4 minutes ahead of me at that time. "Ed, what's wrong?" "I don't know!" "You're not overtrained, are you?" "Don't think so". I had caught up very quickly but he must have matched my pace once I had drawn level because we were running side by side for the rest of the race. Right at the end I sped up for the finish. I am sure he could have beaten me easily if he had wanted to but he clearly was no longer in race mode and so I crossed the the line in fourth place. That was mightily pleasing, but then I got a shock when I looked at my watch and saw a time of 38:54 (rounded up already, to safe them from doing so. Hmpf!)  That was a whole minute slower than what I would have expected! So much for a new PB. I blame the hill, though I did run the other 10k on almost the same course faster, two years ago. Maybe the difference is that back then I was fighting tooth and nail with another guy for much of the race, quite in contrast to today's lonely run. An average HR of 179 indicates that I had run very hard indeed - it was higher than for my 5ks the previous weeks!

At the prize giving ceremony they gave out prizes to the top 3 men and women, and then gave the first F40 prize to the second F40 because the fastest F40 had already received a prize, but gave the first M40 prize to the runner who had already received a prize for 3rd overall. I was rather miffed to be honest, and at first did not say anything, but eventually decided that I am not Irish enough yet for grumbling in silence and made an inquiry. Turns out that they seemed to have missed me from the results sheet altogether (I was wearing a bright orange top. Nobody could have missed me on the road!), and she apologised and gave me a prize after all. Much happier, I made my way back home.

I expected my quads to be very sore on Sunday after that monster hill, but in actual fact it was my hamstrings that were a bit sore, the quads were fine. The run was more like hard work than fun, and after the first loop through Killorglin I was tempted to turn right for home rather than left for a second loop but went left after all. There were no sub-7 miles today, just the pace that came naturally, which was 7:30 at the beginning and close to 7:00 for much of the rest. The HR was very high, as it had already been on Friday, as well as for the race, but right now I'm not sure if it's my HR monitor acting up or something "real". I'll probably replace the battery in the HR strap and if tomorrow's reading is as high it's time to re-assess the situation.
8 Feb
8 miles, 59:57, 7:29 pace, HR 149
9 Feb
~10 miles, including:
   Kenmare 3-Bridges-Run 10k, 38:54, 4th place, 2nd M40
10 Feb
15 miles, 1:47:37, 7:10 pace. HR 152
Weekly Mileage: 59-


  1. I know that route well. I often run it when in Kenmare. I don't like the descent (gravelly as you say) but how I manage the ascent on a given day has become something of an unscientific gauge of fitness for me. Another great race, Thomas, no matter what you say. Congrats!

  2. Well done Thomas. 2 more high mileage weeks and then taper city.


  3. Well done!! Every race is not a PR, but I am sure you will crush that 10k PR!!!

  4. still a great time given that elevation and the fact you were alone for lengthy spells probably cost you the extra minute. the vital signs for tralee are looking pretty good.

  5. Hello thomas.. to be honest .. the time came as a shock!!.. i would have been expecting a sub 37 at least.. maybe the legs are tired.. you dont want to over cook the fitness before your taper.. hard to get it right.. p

  6. Might have been different had you gone with the faster group... but then again, very high ave HR. Strange one. But you can have a higher HR in a 10k than a 5 because there are more ks run at maximum effort. Reckon on a fast course with good competition you'd be running 37-flat, if not faster.

  7. It sounds like you body detuned while you were on holiday and went into sedentary mode. Treat it as a great lesson in how not to taper :-)

    I believe you'd have seen better results if you reduced your mileage but kept in some faster, race paced miles in to keep the muscles tuned up and ready to race.

    From my own experience I feel that both my blood volume and muscle tuning are effected by too many days off or simply too many easy days. My best races have been off the back of a weeks of low mileage but maintaining a reasonable amount of high intensity. There has been studies into tapering than suggest that this approach is best.

    Even when not racing I see this happen - over the last four days I've tried to fix a niggle in my left calf by doing just two 4 milers at recover pace (9 min/mile pace) and yesterday have a day off where I did just a gently walk with the family. Today I did a moderate paced 6 miler to see if my calf had improved I felt more sluggish than I've done for a month, simply had no pop in my legs, and my HR for a given pace was higher too. Calf isn't any better either...

    I'm guessing the basic fitness is still there, my body has just detuned a bit, and will hopefully just snap back into place once I re-established proper training.