Monday, 29 December 2014

Christmas running........the story so far!

I'm heading out in about an hour for my first post Christmas run back in Co. Kildare. It was lovely to spend Christmas with my family in Galway but it's good to be back!

I had a few days break from running before the big day, more by accident than design. Monday was our work meal out and Tuesday was last minute shopping day. Wednesday I worked until lunch and then drove down to Galway so didn't run then either. Anyway I'm calling this brief break a gift to my joints and muscles!

On Christmas morning I waited for the kiddos and my parents to get up (how times have changed!) and we took turns opening our gifts. It was lovely and we were all very satisfied with our presents but (and I know this sounds cheesy) it was one of the many times in the house I grew up in where I thought about how lucky we all are to have each other. I'm very lucky with my family even if we drive each other nuts the odd time. 

Me with some much appreciated new running gear - pardon the bedhead and glazed eyes! 

After a light breakfast I headed out for an easy 8-9 miles......not sure of the distance as I didn't bring a watch. It felt nice after the break but didn't have any desire to go faster!

St. Stephens Day dawned grey, cold, windy and wet all at once. I had committed to doing a local 5k fun run but was kind of regretting it now! However I knew I had to get some kind of decent tempo run in so I decided to do it despite the weather.
A three mile warm up succeeded in getting me soaked to my skin so that was fun. This was good in one way as I didn't mind taking off my soaking top layer for the run itself. I did get a few funny looks in my shorts and a thin training top in the freezing cold!
There was no proper startline as such so we set off together at the crossroads. One guy went off into the distance and a few girls kept pace with me on the first half a mile. I felt good so kept pushing up the first real hill and ended up out on my own. The first guy was a good way off at this stage so there was no interaction there. I kept expecting to hear footsteps behind me from some of the other men I had seen warming up, but none came.
The second mile was mostly uphill but I was feeling ok so I just tried to keep the pace even.

Mile three I suffered a bit, especially with nobody that close to follow and I had some silly thoughts about it not being a race as it wasn't timed so why make myself suffer and that sort of thing. The kind of thoughts you only have when you are pushing a bit and want the hurt to stop! I didn't slow down here but I didn't really speed up either which I should have.

I finished in 22:28 so was very happy with that for a tempo. It might not be a real race but I'll take second overall anytime I can get it! (i.e. probably never again!)

A brief pause for some water and two small cups of mulled wine and I was back on the road for my cooldown run home for a total of 8.5 miles for the day.

The next day I had meant to go for an easy recovery run of 6-7 miles. Unfortunately as I'm an idiot and have no sense of direction this turned into being on the road for 2.5hours!!! Who gets this lost in their own locality??
Also nobody even came looking for me so I take back all the nice things I said about my family but that's fine! All well that ends well!

I took yesterday off running and travelled back from the West. Ten easy miles today with the AC girls to get the week off to a good start. Roll on 2015!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Race recap - Naas Parkrun

And yes I know it's a timed run rather than a race but for the sake of consistancy I'm calling it a race recap. I had asked E from the club to give me a call some weekend if she was going to do Parkrun. This Wednesday at the track after she kicked my ass again she said she might be up for it this Saturday. She is much faster than me but coming back from having a baby so temporarily more my speed! She had run a good bit faster than me at the cross country over a shorter distance so I knew she would be a great pacer for me to push myself a bit over the 5k. Oh and she is also a sweetheart and it's nice to catch up with friends first thing on a Saturday so there is that too! Another lovely running friend O came along too but was just hoping to get around as she hasn't been training much due to some family stuff. It was so nice to catch up with her too. Have I mentioned I love my running friends? Probably many times, but I do!

So anyway Saturday dawned clear and not too cold (unlike last Saturday) and we arrived at Naas racecourse with about 15 minutes to spare. Not ideal for warming up but nothing I could do about it. I got to it straight out of the car while the others went looking for the loo and then we jogged up to the course together and around the long way to the start line. The warm up exercises were almost done by the time we got there so there was just enough time to shed layers and we were off!

I didn't get caught up too much at the start and settled in about 10 meters back from E and hoped I could hang on for as long as possible. The first mile was uneventful but I felt like I was breathing very hard already. Would I be able to keep this up or was I going to die in the second half? 7:14 on the garmin. Not too bad!
The next mile was a bit of a slog but I always find this middle one hard mentally. E seemed to be further away from me and I had to fight to keep the pace going especially on the parts of the course where we had a headwind. Mile 2 7:17. Was this a sign of things to come? Was I going to be slower again for the next mile?

At this point I started to really feel like I might have a bit more in the tank so I let myself push a bit more as I knew there was only a mile to go. How does that happen when you swear you don't have anything previously? Anyway I started to bridge the gap with E and was right on her shoulder for a while. She told me after she knew it was me as she recognised my breathing from the track! Anyway she gave me a "go on!" gesture with her hand and I thought she had lost it. There was no way I was going to be able to go past her was there? But her faith in me gave me a bit of a lift and I looked up and saw we were on the last bend before the long stretch to the finish. I might as well give it a try anyway.
I tried to relax and push hard at the same time if that makes any sense and my legs kind of took over. I used all my mental games to keep it going all the way to the finish line.........counting, swearing I could stop at the next fence post, promising myself I never had to run again after this. The usual! I didn't look at my watch here but according to garmin the third mile was 6:57 pace and the final segment was at 6:07 pace. I'll take that!

The time on my garmin at the finish was 22:06 so a PB by over a minute and on the same course too. The time Parkrun gave me was 22:02 but I don't think that can be right so I'll go by the higher one to be safe. E was a few seconds behind me for a post baby PB and O was about a minute after. Not bad for a bunch of old(er) birds!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Another DNS!

I should have known when my number didn't arrive in the post as promised that I should just give up on the Aware 10k in the Phoenix Park. Stubbornly I e-mailed the organisers on Friday and was assured I could turn up at the start line and collect a new number. So far so good! Right?

Saturday morning came too quickly and I reluctantly dragged myself out of my warm bed. I'm not one for lie in's but even a toe out of the covers confirmed it was a cold one. I pulled the curtains to see the surrounding countryside liberally dusted in white. Not snow but a hard frost. "At least it's dry and bright and still." I thought, trying to look on the bright side. Perfect morning for a race once I'm warmed up.

An hour later I was wrapped up and ready to go. Or would be once I got the windscreen defrosted. An impatient phone call from a friend J I was giving a lift to got me moving while trying to see out of one portion of my frozen windscreen. "Oh well! It's always a few degrees warmer in Dublin." I thought. Hmmm.

We arrived in Dublin relatively quickly and it wasn't until I went to park the car and it skidded a couple of feet that I realised how frosty it was on Chesterfield Avenue, the main thoroughfare of the park and the road a lot of the race was going to be on. I looked at J and got very worried for the first time that this race wasn't going to go ahead. My confidence wasn't helped by trying to get out of the car on the slippery roads.

Long story short, the race did go ahead but not with me in it. After a number of delays of the start to allow the course to defrost and warnings that the conditions were "very, very, very, very dangerous" (there may even have been another very) I knew this wasn't going to be a PB day for me. Considering that I'm mortally terrified of falling on ice I decided early on I wasn't going to run and encouraged anyone who would listen to do the same. We had already made the donation to charity. Why risk life and limb?

As we were there and dressed a run of some sort was in order so I let the much faster J drag me around on the grass of the Phonix Park for a bit of a cross country jaunt. It was heavy going and my hardish effort is a bit of a jog for him so it was a relief for both of us to get back on the now much safer paths later on for a faster final couple of miles. At least the morning wasn't a total write-off from a training point of view!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Race recap - Kildare Senior Cross Country

How can two races be so different? If last weeks 10k was a dream then today was a bit of a nightmare. Well I suppose you can't compare cross country and roads anyway but I think I could have paced this better.
It was a perfect morning. Dry. Not too cold. No wind. After a last minute bathroom (furze bushes) break we lined up at the start just on time for the off. And I decided I'd see what it was like to go out fast. Good idea right?

Wrong! It was going quite well until about 1k in at which point I started to really suffer. This was going to be a long 4k! I managed to hold on to some kind of pace for the next 2k but after that I was holding on for dear life and not really caring if I made a holy show of myself. Tragic! I heard one of the other girls on the team approach from behind and then pass me at 3k and desperately wanted to encourage her but I just couldn't get words out.

I had nothing for a fast finish despite loads of great support coming towards the end.
The finishing chute was a blur with my vision greying out at the edges. I begged the girl in front of me to move on so I could fall onto the grass but that didn't work......or most probably I didn't actually say anything at all out loud, I just thought I did. What a wuss!

Once out of the chute I tried to lie on the grass but some club members were having none of it. Luckily for them I was too tired and sick to go for them! They definitely know better but I still think a little lie down on the cold wet muck would have done me the world of good. Or made me really sick. One of those.

In the end we got second team so pretty happy with that. I know I didn't have anything else in me but would love to be stronger for the team. Maybe next year!

The men had to do 10k which I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, especially as we had probably churned the course up nicely for them. They did amazing and also got second team and I must say it was a lot more enjoyable to stand watching and cheering with a cuppa and some baked goods than to run the damn thing. Post race drinks and a dissection of the whole thing later tonight in the pub! Yay!

In summary: Cross country sucks really really bad but being part of a club and part of a team is great!

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Race recap - Clarinbridge 10k

So November has been eventful in my life outside of running. Lots happening on the personal and professional front, mostly good. All this has meant that I seem to be always in motion, going from pillar to post and rarely getting time to sit down and take a breath.
Most of this is through my own choice so I'm not exactly complaining (well only as much as any Irish person can not be complaining) but still, I'm looking forward to Christmas for a chance to slow down and take stock.

What I have been doing is lots and lots of running. My mojo seems to have survived the marathon and I'm feeling really strong. Fingers crossed this continues! Well at least until after the cross country tomorrow anyway.

Two weeks ago I set a new parkrun PB of 23.10 without breaking too much of a sweat. Last weekend I got to do my new favourite 10k in Clarinbridge and set a new PB there too. In fairness I haven't managed a 10k all year so the target was not that ambitious.

I was at home in Galway for the weekend to celebrate my cousins engagement. Catching up with friends and family was the priority not a race and to prove that I consumed plenty of wine and stole most of the naan bread while heads were turned. Runners need carbs right?

The day dawned frosty and bright and I wasn't hungover so I packed the kiddos into the car and headed off towards Clarinbridge in plenty of time (I thought!)
Unfortunately due to being stuck behind a van being towed and every Sunday driver in County Galway it was 12:10 before I arrived in Clarinbridge and the race was starting at 12:30! I darted in and registered, pinning my number on with trembling hands. I hate being late......and being late for me includes not being very early.

After a very brief warm-up I lined up well back in the bunch. It seemed to be almost all club runners and I hadn't a clue where I belonged so I didn't want to get in anyones way. We set off right on schedule and I held a comfortable 7:28 pace for the first mile. This felt easy but then it should do in mile one!
 We then moved briefly onto a forest path which was narrow in places and quite rough underfoot. I was fairly happy here as I'm used to rough ground and wanted to move on a bit faster but I was caught up in a bit of traffic. I wasn't confident enough to be aggressive here.
What if I pushed past someone aggressively and then then cruised past me a mile later? I'd feel like a total tool! Anyway this mile ended up at 7.45.....not too bad but would have like it to be faster. Thats me in the pic below in the background. I'm in my green singlet tucked in behind the lady in black and the lady in orange. Lovely running form as always! Photo stolen from Amphibian King West.



After this we moved back onto a wider path and onto the main road. It was good to have more space but it was mostly uphill. I remembered this section from the 5k series and knew there would be more hills whenever I thought it was over so I didn't let myself get psyched out. I started to push a bit to pick up the pace. This mile was 7.33. Still feeling grand at this point and was actually having fun!

The next two miles were more up and down but I was starting to believe I wasn't about to crash and burn plus I was loving overtaking people. Is that bad? It's a really nice mental boost. I couldn't believe how well I felt at this stage of the race. These two miles came in at 7:19 and 7:24.

At this point we re-entered the park we had started in and I knew it was mostly downhill from here. I seemed to still have loads in my legs and was having a ball! Mile 6 was 6.54 and I sprinted it in to finish in 46:11 almost 2 minutes off my previous 10k PB (which I have always had a sneaking suspicion was on a short course anyway)
My kiddos were waiting for me just after the line and I was able for a hug and a chat almost straight away.

So what do I take away from this race?
Well, I'm fitter than I've ever been right now. This marathon training cycle has left me in shape to PB at every distance and I feel like I'm getting faster and stronger every week.
I'm too easy on myself. I already knew my 5k PB was soft but this sort of made a mockery of it altogether. I'm not trying hard enough early enough as I'm so scared of blowing up.

In a 5 or 10k would it really be the end of the world to see how fast I can go? Someone with a lot more experience than I have pointed that out to me this week and I have taken it to heart. I need to stop looking at my watch and being scared of the paces I'm running at. I'm stronger than I think.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

The recovery and the (non)plan

I have found the recovery from this marathon a lot more difficult than the last. Perhaps it's that I was able to give everything on the day and that's why I felt so bad after. Or maybe it was drinking shots on an empty stomach and being unable to eat anything but beige food for the next week? Lesson learned (you know I don't mean this!)

Either way I felt like dirt up until early this week and didn't even consider going out for a run. I had done a marathon shuffle around the block a couple of days after the race but that was it. Wednesday I decided with a bit of encouragement to return to the track. Not for a full session but for the company while running around the track very slowly 20 times. Beforehand I was sooo nervous. I honestly wasn't sure if I'd be able to run! Maybe I'd forgotten how to?
Luckily some friends were already there when I arrived so I had a little chat, explained what I was going to be doing and bit the bullet! Of course it was fine and I had a big grin on my face most of the time. So happy to be back!
The rest of the week was a bit up and down. I went out and did 8 miles on Thursday but felt like all the energy drained out of me 3 miles in and I immediately reverted to marathon shuffle. Friday I had planned to take off but it was such a nice day I jogged down to the bank and back, a grand total of two miles.

Saturday was a bit of a drama!
Hiking in Wicklow had been planned for but with the weather being so changeable we decided to take a safe option and meet in Dun Laoighaire and walk from there to the top of Killiney and back. If I had been heading for Wicklow I'd have brought a backpack with lunch, water and many many layers. I thought I was being sensible travelling light with my waterproof and a change of socks. Unfortunately we picked exactly the time when it was bucketing with rain to be in the most exposed areas and got completely drenched to the skin. We sheltered in a coffee house to dry off a bit but when the rain failed to ease off we had no choice but to head out into the pouring rain again. It's so hard to get warm again once your clothes are wet!

The rain did begin to ease on the way back and we were rewarded with this glorious sight.
Double rainbow!!!
I was ridiculously happy about this but then I'm easily pleased.

It probably sounds like this was a miserable excursion but it really wasn't. My friend G is wonderful company and we laughed all the way around.

When we got back to our start point it was time for us to go our own ways so I got on the next Dart to Pearse Street Station to change for my destination. I was cold on this but relieved to be on the way home. Unfortunately when I got to Pearse I found out it was going to be 45 minutes for my train. Noooo! I tried to make the best of this by getting a hot sandwich and coffee to warm me up (and did I mention I hadn't eaten lunch and it was now 4:30? Eejit!) but I must have been a sight in my wet clothes shivering in the station. I'm not sure if the train was just as cold or if I'd now passed the point of being able to warm up by myself but I thought the journey would never end. When I got in my car to make the 40 minute journey home I put the heat on full blast and it took me over half of the journey before I stopped shaking.
Question: So what's the point of this whole story?
Answer: To document the ridiculous things I do so that I don't do them again. What an idiot!!

Got lashed on today too during my 8 miler so that's three soakings this week. It did add up to a fast finish so I can't complain too much.

I'm in the middle of writing my own new training plan to see me through the winter at the moment so I'll get back to that now. Something very satisfying about a new training plan with runs all ready to be ticked off!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

SSE Airtricity Dublin City Marathon 2014 - Race Recap

So as I mentioned before the last few days before the marathon were not ideal. Our flight was cancelled and we spent Sunday morning trying to get through to the airline. Thank god for the youngest and her twitter account as we wouldn't have gotten to talk to anyone until the lines opened at 1pm if it wasn't for her! Anyway our rebooked flight wasn't going to leave London until 6 so I tried to rest up, hydrate and basically make up for spending the whole of Saturday on my feet.

The flight itself went fine and we were in the car within about 15 minutes of landing. From there I drove straight into the city to pick up my race number from my friend and then back on the M7 to be home for about 9pm. Not great but could have been a lot worse. Ominously it was still quite warm and very breezy at this stage but I tried to forget about this and concentrated on getting my race number pinned on and laid out the rest of my gear for the morning. I was so wrecked at this stage that I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

I woke at about 5am and knew there was no point trying to get back to sleep at that stage. It was marathon day finally! Despite a total lack of interest in food I managed to force down two cinnimon raisin bagels with butter and honey along with a couple of pints of water and a strong black coffee. I felt ok. Not buzzing but fine. At this point I was still mad early so decided to throw on some BB cream, some blusher and a bit of mascara which is more than I usually manage on a work morning but what can I say......I was bored! Anyway it was worthwhile as my "glamorous" look was commented on by some club members who were out supporting. This possibly has more to do with the state they usually see me in than anything else!

Leaving the house was a bit of a drama as my parents had stayed the previous night to be close to the airport as they were heading off to the USA for 5 weeks. I did have to pretend I wasn't totally focussed on hustling out the door asap. I'm not positive I fooled anyone! As soon as I started my car I noticed the temperature gauge was reading 15 degrees and the sun wasn't even up yet. It was also quite blustery. Oh no!! The two things I had specifically said I would hate!

The trip up to Stillorgan Park-and-Ride was uneventful, as was the Luas journey in. Although I did feel for the poor souls who normally have the tram to themselves in the morning and were now cheek to jowl with a load of runners. At least we were clean and fresh smelling at that stage!

As soon as I arrived at the bag drop I knew that a final loo stop wasn't going to happen at the portaloos. The lines in the baggage area were huge and I remembered from last year that the lines in the wave holding areas were even worse so I hadn't a chance of getting there on time. Luckily I have a friend G who lives on Upper Mount Street which meant I was able to pop into her place for a proper loo. Heaven! I chilled out there until about 15 minutes before the start time and then made my way to the start area. A bit of bobbing and weaving later and I was up near the 3:50 pacers and just as I got there the gun went for the start of the first wave so I knew we only had ten minutes to go. I had my first gel and tried to relax.

The early miles - Start to the PP
The advantage of being in the first pace group at the start of a wave is that there doesn't seem to be a lot of congestion in the first few miles. I'm not the best at running in groups but I never felt boxed in at the start. I did feel that the pace was a bit fast right from the off and I was conscious that this should feel really easy at this stage and it never did.
In fact I was quite relieved anytime there was a bit of congestion and I got to back off the pace a bit. I didn't have the urge to chat to anyone around me either and usually I'd be quite talkative in the first few miles. It does usually take me a while to settle into a run and start to feel comfortable though so I decided to be conservative and see if my legs felt a bit springier later.
Most of this section was around the city on the way to the park gates so there was plenty to look at to keep the mind occupied and I tried to do this and let myself relax a bit. I was keeping the same distance from the pacers at this stage but was being passed constantly.

The PP to Chapelizod
Between the wind and the long incline I had decided before the race to take the park very easy. I tried to not expend any extra energy going up the hills and allowed my pace to slow fractionally here. I did try to find a group to block the wind for me a bit but as I mentioned earlier it wasn't that congested. Maybe if I had been right up beside the pacers I could have done that but I certainly wasn't wasting energy trying to catch them. At this point I was getting a bit concerned that the pace still felt quite challenging. During training runs I had had to hold myself back or my pace would drift towards 8 minute miles. I don't think I could have run an 8 minute mile yesterday at any time! I took my first gel on schedule at 5 miles. At this stage I had been through two water stations and was already starting to douse myself with water to cool down. This would continue all the way to the end!
Halfway through the park I was spotted by a group of supporters from the AC included the two girls I did my long runs with until they got injured. It was great to see them and they made me feel like a total rockstar shouting my name and generally making a spectacle of themselves. It was great!
The section where we exited the park briefly was downhill and I let myself speed up on these sections. I wasn't particularly worried about frying my quads on the downhills as I train on hills so I should be used to them by now. The crowds around the hills at Chapelizod really took the sting out of them although again I was being passed like mad on the uphills. Every time I felt like pushing on a hill I kept repeating to myself "Think of mile 22!"

The long stretch of death (Crumlin Road)
I hated the next section of the race last year when it came earlier in the race so I didn't have any illusions about the area from the park out the Crumlin road and up to Fortfield. I knew it was going to hurt so I just tried to do damage limitation. The wind was straight into our faces for most of this stage. The pacers were still in sight but I hadn't seen any signs from my legs so far that there was going to be any picking up of the tempo so I just concentrated on not messing up. The marathon tide was starting to come back the other way here so even though I wasn't speeding up I was passing people constantly which was encouraging for me but probably a sign that it was a hard day out there! I was delighted to see a club member with her 3 month old at mile 17. It gave me a real boost and at least made me try to look up instead of at my feet!

Regroup at Bushy Park
The section from Bushy Park to Milltown is a lovely part of the course. If only I hadn't been running a marathon I could have really enjoyed it! This bit was all about making sure I had enough energy for the hills. The legs were really starting to ache now but a respectable finish was starting to feel doable despite my lack of energy. I had let go of the pacers and was concentrating on running my own race with the legs I had on the day.

Milltown and UCD
I think I spent so long dreading the hills and the flyover that when they did arrive it was a bit of an anticlimax. What did I think was going to happen? Big boulders being rolled down the hill to crush me?
I used the same strategy of slowing down to conserve energy but it felt like I was flat out sprinting on both of these due to the amount of people walking. I honestly think it was about 4:1 ratio of walkers to runners. Walking was not the problem..........walking in a long line of five abreast is a problem if nobody can get past you! Got a great cheer from club members again here and T jumped in and ran with me for a bit although I don't think I was very good company. I apologised later!
I was so relieved to get past UCD I thought I was going to cry!

The last bit
The last part of the course is lovely and would be a delight if your body wasn't screaming at you to stop and walk. This was where the real countdown started and I had to use every trick in the book to convince my body to keep going. Again I can see by my splits that I slowed a bit here but runners were few and far between at this stage. I've never seen anything like it......but then again I was practically an extra on The Walking Dead last year so I can't remember much! When I got to 25 I was surprised by our AC coach out on the road shouting for me so that was a nice boost, although I was incapable of giddying up even for him. I must say I love the new finish. I loved being able to see it from quite a way out. The roar of the crowd really lifted me up in that last mile and I managed to get my head up and pick up my stride a bit. And after the longest 400m of my life I was finally on the finishing stretch, capable of soaking it all in and look around and together enough to put my arms up in victory crossing the finish line. A year later I finally got the marathon finish line I wanted!

Chip time 3:54:19
A 15 minute PB and quite honestly all that was in my legs yesterday. There is nowhere when I look back through my splits where I feel I could have gone any faster so this is absolutely the best I could do. It's not what I aimed for but there will be other days and I'm happier with this time than I thought possible. For now!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Ideal marathon preparation....

Would not involve still being in London City Airport right now. Boo Cityjet and your flight cancellations!

Yay paranoia and leaving a copy of all registration stuff with a friend! So at least I have a number. Thank goodness for good friends, I'm very lucky.

The chances are I will get to the start line and I'm trying not to stress out too much about my less than perfect day of prep. One way to look at it is that I'm going to be super grateful to be there and start running tomorrow!! Now for some more airport carb loading.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Pre-marathon sports massage

I had meant to go for a deep tissue massage before now but what with all the running and everything I didn't got round to it until today. A friend from the club gave me the number of a therapist she recommended who is really reasonably priced so I thought I'd give her a try.
Early indications are, I'll be going back!

Last night was a tough track workout that left me in bits and I felt like an old lady getting out of my bed. Luckily a 6 mile recovery run this morning eased that a bit so by the time I arrived for my massage I was feeling quite limber.

While I didn't feel like I had any obvious hotspots it became obvious during the treatment that the upper part of both calf muscles were quite knotted and required a good bit of work. Ditto for the upper parts of my shins on the lateral side of my knee.

My right side in general was a lot tighter than the left and needed a lot more knots worked out, although the left lateral thigh area (part of the ITB) was unexpectedly a problem area whereas the right was fine. I'm sure this is all a function of my drastically uneven hips and lower spine but I hope some more focussed strength work over the winter will help even this out. Unfortunately nothing but a new skeleton is going to help the underlying issues.

All in all there was more there to work on than I thought there would be and probably less there than she had been expecting! I've been told to keep up the foam rolling, stretching and self-massage as I'm obviously doing a reasonable job so far so that's encouraging.

A productive morning but I'm wrecked now and have a parent teacher meeting to go to. Fingers crossed it goes well and I'm home in my jammies by six!


Saturday, 11 October 2014

Dublin City Marathon Training: Taper week 1

I was quite relieved to hit the taper last weekend.........and so was understandably on the back foot when I figured out this week still had more than 50 miles in it. Feck! 
Oh well! I haven't followed the plan thus far just to throw it out the window when I'm near the end. 

The week went well after the initial shock and I must say even the small step down in miles has given me a fair bit of extra pep in my step. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, as I'm so accustomed to being on the go all the time I've used this extra energy to do pointless stuff like cleaning. I did all the usual bits and pieces but with a few added extras. 
I ironed. (Not a regular occurrence.) My freezer was even defrosted. I think this is the first time I've done this on purpose ever. Any other time it's been a consequence of either the door being left open overnight or an electrical outage. Both scenarios resulting in me throwing away large amounts of frozen food. This time I planned it and virtually no throwing away ensued (apart from the breaded calamari I was never going to eat.) I feel very grown up. Maybe I'll start making jam or something next? 

Today I had a grand total of 4 miles on my schedule. I can't remember the last time I ran that few miles. It was a glorious day too so I decided to go on a bit of an excursion with younger child to make the best of the good weather. 

Howth was the destination and it was glorious once we got out of the car. Next time I'll be getting the train as parking was an absolute nightmare. 

As I'm a tad on the financially embarrassed side just at the moment due to the glories of paying both a mortgage and rent (thanks Celtic Tiger!) and various school related expenses, we packed a lunch and had that on a bench in the lovely sunshine right beside three of the most gorgeous huskies I've ever seen. I wish I could have gotten a picture but they were with their humans so it probably would have looked strange!

After that we had a walk out to the lighthouse where younger did her best teenager impression hiding behind her hair as you can see. 


Then we had a rummage around a second-hand book place and went to the weekend market where we spent a combined total of about ten euro and that includes veggies for the week. Pretty happy with that! Nice to know you can have a day out in Dublin without spending a fortune. 

Tomorrow I have 12 miles at PMP planned so I hope to get that done relatively early. I hope the weather is like today, it's absolutely glorious running weather. Fingers crossed for this at the end of the month! 

The rest of tomorrow involves replenishing the aforementioned freezer and then babysitting for a friend. What I'm going to do with my time when the miles really drop I don't know!



Sunday, 5 October 2014

Dublin Marathon Training: Taper time!!!

I'm sooooo excited to be tapering! This was the first week of training when I just felt "I'm ready to be done."
Despite that I had a solid rest of week's training.

Thursday was a 7 miler with a friend a bit faster than it should have been (8:30 average) but happened by accident as we were chatting away nineteen to the dozen. Friday was a rest day which was good as I had a million real-life things to catch up on and then my parents paid us a surprise visit.
Which was lovely but I had planned on staying off the vino and the dinner out put paid to that. (They forced my mouth open and poured wine down my throat obviously. Those assholes!!)

The ensuing mild hangover and the fact that they didn't leave until after lunch on Saturday meant my 10 miler at PMP was later than planned but I'm guessing this just enhanced the handicapping effect it's supposed to have on my 21 miler today. Which is the point really so extra bonus points...I win at making things harder for myself! A fact that everyone who knows me well is already very aware of.

The 21 miler went amazing. I had planned 10 easy pace and then the rest at a comfortable cruising pace that felt like I could still have chatted at and I could eat and drink at. I wore the same shorts, socks and shoes I intend to wear on race day and took 3 gels. One as I was leaving the house, one at 5-6 miles (takes me ages to drink the buggers!) and one from 12-15(seriously...ages!)

I also took two of these guys as GI issues have caused me to avoid gels in the past. I still brought TP just in case.
God bless modern medicine!

Anyway all was well on the gut front so will be repeating that on race day and bringing a couple of extra for good measure.

Splits were:
9:49
9:46
9:46
9:03
9:12
9:20
9:00
9:23
9:13
8:47
8:30
8:38
8:32
8:26
8:39
8:19
8:25
8:21
8:24
8:22
8:16

I felt really good throughout and was quite impressed with myself that I ran around the car park a few times at the end to make it 21. If I had felt tired I would certainly have called 20.7 good enough and dodged inside to tackle the three flights of stairs to the apartment. I could definitely have done another 5.2 miles. Could I have done them if my first few miles weren't easy? I don't know.

For that reason and from information I've gotten on boards.ie I'm planning on going out with the 3:50 pacers and sticking with them the first 10 miles.....so that's 8.47 pace (but I'd say they will be more like 8:40 to allow a bit of a cushion for extra distance etc.)

Then I'm hoping to get onto 8:30 pace if all is well and push that in to mile 22. After 22 most of the hills are over and I can try to take advantage of the downhills to maintain/increase my speed.

Well that's the plan anyway. Today. Ask me again tomorrow!


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

I'm going to miss mile repeats.....

Not really. But I was enjoying them up until today but I'm done with mentally for a bit. Brain fried!

It was a beautiful evening but I mostly wanted to get home and watch the Great British Bake Off with my daughter so I chose quality over quantity tonight. Which is a bit of a laugh as my times were all over the place. Inconsistancy seems to be the name of the game at the moment for me. 
I started with 2 warm up miles at 8:50min/mile and then 7:10, 6:45, 6:54 followed by 2 cool down miles. I'm happy with the actual paces I just wish they were a bit closer together. It's like I have a disconnect at the moment between how fast my legs will take me and what my brain is telling me. I suppose it was only the week before Athlone that I first saw a mile with a 6 on the beginning of it so I should give my poor old brain a chance to catch up. Slow learner!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Eureka moment with shoes



A few weeks ago I learned to tie my shoelaces. Well not exactly but I did learn to tie the laces on my runners properly so my foot is secure in the shoe and I don't get random blisters on the top of my toes (or not as many anyway)

For some reason I just hadn't really thought about how I tighten my laces and whether that would have an impact on how my shoes feel on my feet. I had noticed recently though that regardless of how comfortable shoes were on me I still seemed to get blisters. Not bad ones but blisters all the same.

As I was waiting for the fog to clear a couple of weekends ago...all dressed up with nowhere to go...I started to experiment with the tension in my laces. I like my toes to feel quite free so when I drew the laces tight on the front part of my shoe and continued that tension all the way up, I disliked how that felt on my toes, especially on the lateral aspect of my foot (little toe side in plain speak)
However when I released the tension there and tightened the upper parts of the laces in isolation that kind of held my foot away from the front of the shoe and allowed more room for the toes to expand. My heel felt more secure in the back of the shoe also and less likely to move.

So you see after three years of running I finally seem to have figured out how to put my shoes on properly. What can I say? I'm a slow learner!

Oh god...I bet everyone else in the whole world already does this and I've just outed myself. Nooooooo!!!

The left is tied correctly for me whereas the one on the right is wrong...ie the way I have been tying them forever! Dingbat

Dublin Marathon Training - Last high mileage week!!

I can't believe I'm on the last week of my training before the taper starts. I'm rationing episodes of catch-up tv so I have something to do for the next three weeks when the amount of time on my feet drops. Eating large amounts of food won't be an option either or I'll be hauling lots of extra ass around the streets of Dublin. No thanks!
Luckily the next few weeks should be busy from a work and family point of view so that should keep me distracted to a degree.

Training itself is going fine. I'm hitting all my paces and exceeding most. The only problem is marathon pace. I'm not sure if my pace is so variable because I'm just not physically tuned into that effort level yet or if I need to tie myself down to a more specific goal pace......instead of "vaguely somewhere between 8:25-8-40 (but definitely not your actual supposed pace of 8:47!) depending on how you feel....and sure throw in the odd 8:00 for the craic just to mess with the average." I need to pick a pace and then get used to sticking to it during this next few weeks and stop myself running it like a tempo.

I don't have that many harder sessions left now. One bigger interval session tomorrow, two medium distance marathon pace sessions later in the week and the final 20 miler on Sunday. If I remember from last year though, mentally this is where the hard work starts and the temptation to second guess yourself takes over!

I've decided I'll most likely start with the second wave on race day.
For some reason when I put in that I would like to finish under 3:50 I got put in wave 1. Which is fine....except the 3:50 pacers start with wave 2 according to the website. So not fine!

Going out at a nice manageable pace is really important to my state of mind so I need to start with those 3:50 guys. Anyway I'm sure it'll be grand (famous last Irish person words)
Seriously though it will....going down a wave is not usually a problem. It's only if you want to move up one they think you are a chancer. And they would usually be correct so more power to them.

I feel like I need two things right now (i) a good painful sports massage (ii) a good talking to by someone who has run a lot of marathons to put me in my place (or pace)
 


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Big mileage weekend. Warning - This post is unnecessarily long!

The way I was feeling Friday night I was very tempted to do absolutely nothing this weekend. And I would have justified it to myself too as resting to get rid of this damn cold.
It didn't help when I awoke Saturday morning to a dull, rainy morning. Why would I want to go out in that?

Luckily by an hour before we we due to catch our train the sky was beginning to brighten a bit so the younger and I got ourselves ready and hit the road...or to be accurate, walked across the road to the train station. Very convenient!
Less than half an hour later we were at Heuston station and ten minutes after that we were at the gates of the park armed with hot beverages. At that point the sun came out and we started down Chesterfield avenue to find a good spot to see the runners come past.
We settled ourselves around the 9 mile mark just on time to see Gary O'Hanlon fly past looking very comfortable. Once the drinks were drank we got down to the serious business of clapping and shouting encouraging words. Much like running, it's easier just to keep on clapping as your hands tend to get into a rhythm, whereas stopping reminds you that your hands are sore. So clap on we did!

We remained here until about twenty minutes after the 2hr pacer had come through and then had to hurry on to drop the younger off with her Dad.

I was feeling quite anxious about my plan of running on the marathon course.
Would I wander around like a tit? Would I get mugged? Was I even able to run the proposed ten miles at marathon pace in the condition I was in and after standing around all morning...oh and not eating also. One must never do things by halves!

Anyway I got the Luas out towards Drimnagh and made my way easily enough to the middle of the Crumlin Road. I felt like a bit of an eejit with my map and I appeared to be the only runner around but I got on with it and eventually got a bit more confident in my map reading abilities. In fairness, it's not a difficult course to find your way around so three or four stops to check I was on the right track and one water stop at a garage were all the breaks necessary.

The course felt as tough as I expected it to given my lack of preparation and physical state but PMP wasn't a struggle. My stomach felt fine and I enjoyed the hills if anything as a break from the monotony of the flatter straighter bits. The condition of the pavement wasn't great in areas but we will be mostly on the roads on the day so that shouldn't make a difference. Oh and I much prefer where the hard parts come now (miles 22-24) as opposed to previously. Psychologically I'm much more able to handle a hill if I know I can expend most of my energy on it. If you are hitting Fosters Avenue at around 20 miles when you know you have 6 miles to go it's very hard on your head.

Anyway the proof will be in the pudding as they say. We shall see on the day.

I had only planned to do about 10 miles but couldn't help myself in the end doing all the way to 25 where I was meeting a friend. My average pace was around 8:30 for the duration which I was happy with and I finished at about 4:30.

Obviously this put me on target to have very tired legs for my long run this morning! The fog kept me in until about 10:30 so at least I did get a few extra hours of rest. I can't say my 20 miles were the most pleasant but I didn't walk any of them, my stomach was fine and my average pace was in the low 9's.
I was tired finishing but I did have enough in the tank to do an 8 minute final mile and I feel I could have continued if I had to. Happy with that and I feel that I really managed to get my legs properly battered over this key weekend of training. I was a bit worried with not feeling 100% that I would have had to postpone this big week until later in the cycle and I don't think it would have benefited me as much then with less time to recover.

One more loaded-up long run the weekend after next and then I'm done! Cooked and ready to rest at room temperature.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Timing is everything

I appear to have some kind of cold with a (prepare for TMI) productive cough. Can't remember the last time I had a chest cold so perhaps I was due one.

I think if it was a couple of weeks earlier or later I'd be in a state but I don't feel like this week after racing the half is the time for making major fitness gains. I took today and yesterday off to give my system a chance to fight whatever this is. I'm not really feeling any better or worse for it so I'm going to go ahead and get my miles in this weekend but at easy pace as long as I feel ok. Sometimes you just need to sweat it out!

Tomorrow should be fun. I'm planning to run ten miles of the marathon course (miles 14 to 24 approx) If this blog isn't updated again it's because I'm still wandering Dublin with a map!


Monday, 15 September 2014

Birthday blues

Wednesday is my birthday. I don't ever make a big deal about it but I don't have an issue about my age either and like to mark the occasion. This year is my first year being single for a while and whilst I'm very content with that, my impending special day does make me feel a bit lonely. I think it's probably the combination of that and having my mother out of the country for the week plus both of my siblings living in the states that has me uncharacteristically meloncholy today. 

Anyway it's not all doom and gloom. There are a group of us September birthday girls getting together in Galway at the end of the month for a night of mutual celebration. And most importantly I have my (taller than me) babies to give me endless hugs and hopefully provide me with some form of iced confectionary. Time to put on my big girl pants and get over myself!

Seven miles easy today. The legs felt fine if a bit empty at the end. I'm going to take an extra easy day tomorrow and then do a harder session Wednesday to get back in the swing of things.
It's funny but I haven't even looked at the training plan for the week. I suppose I know what I have to do at this stage....some speedier sessions if I continue to tolerate it well, lots of easy and marathon pace miles, long run at the weekend. Repeat!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Athlone Flatline Half Marathon

So it was warm! 
I don't think I've spent a week more focused on praying for rain in my life.  For an Irish person this is practically treason. I think it may actually be in the citizenship exam.

I decided to bring my kiddos to say with my parents for the weekend so left kildare late Friday so I could pick up race numbers etc in athlone on the way down. Unfortunately this meant 9pm dinner the night before a race..... Not ideal!

Anyway despite eating late I had a good sleep and felt refreshed and ready to race Saturday morning.
I met up with some friends as soon as i arrived who were doing their first half and also the rest of the AC doing the race. Plenty of portaloos meant five minutes max queues so that was appreciated, as was a well timed race briefing which sent all groups out to the start line with their chosen pacer. This seemed to work as I didn't have to spend the first mile weaving around walkers!

We set off on time with me virtually glued to the pink t-shirted 1:45 pacer. I might not be able to stay with him for the duration but I wasn't going to have to chase him in the first mile or two.... Been there, done that!

Miles 1-6 were fine and I felt as i could go faster but held back. This was lucky as the heat really starting getting to me by the halfway point. Every bottle of water I got went straight over my head in an effort to cool off. The bog roads we were on didn't help as any Irish runner will tell you that the warmest place on a hot day is a bog! Also the surface wasn't great and the congestion of the pace group was starting to get to me. All aboard the pain train!!

So from 7 on I was counting down the miles and using mental games to keep me going. I was joined around 10 by L from the club who I've done my long runs with... A super fast girl who is injured right now and was basically running on sheer will alone. Seeing her and hearing her urge me on at that point was amazing and gave me no excuse not to finish strong. We were also joined by her SIL who was running her first half!! What a legend!
Anyway me and the SIL pushed on to stay with the pacer and kept each other going in the last mile where we both had moments where we would have slowed down alone. We ran across the line at 1:44:58 on the clock and a chip time of 1:44:28. Absolutely delighted with that in those conditions.
So now the marathon target is officially being changed or L will kill me :)

What a great race for 20 euro. Not mad about the bog roads but no traffic to contend with so that's a plus. Really well organised and the cold (alcohol free) beer at the finish line was amazing :)  They also had water (obviously,) coke, bananas, orange segments and muffins so a pretty good selection. And the long sleeved technical t will be great for winter training.  This race sold out in its second year and I can see why. Sort out the weather though next year lads!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

I'm in love!


Yup! In love with my new shoes. I took a slight risk trying a different type of shoe but stuck to the same company (Saucony) as they have never let me down yet.

I tried the Saucony Cortana 2 (last years model as I'm brokedy broke right now) which is a neutral cushioned shoe as opposed to the Omni that I have been running in. I'm a suppinator rather than an overpronator so I should be able to get away with this and if I can't then it's on my own head.

From the minute I put these on they felt so fitted to my foot but light at the same time. I did an easy run yesterday just to check them out and they felt lovely but I wasn't sure if it was just because it was a gorgeous evening and I was just coming off a rest day. So today I brought them out for a shortened interval session (I have the HM Saturday and also was celebrating my daughters exam success so didn't want to keep everyone waiting.)

The plan was to do 4 miles total with 1 warm-up, 2 hard and then 1 cool-down. Was on my own too so wasn't sure if I would be able to push myself fully.

I needn't have worried.  The first hard mile came in at 7:10 and the second at 6:47! My first every sub 7 minute mile! Very very happy with that :)

Back home with a big smile on my face to celebrate....the Junior Cert results rather than my sub 7 minute mile which I didn't bother mentioning at home as nobody cares except me :)
My daughter did amazing by the way and I'm a very proud mammy. 



Sunday, 7 September 2014

Dublin City Marathon Training: 7 weeks to go!

This was a big week of training. Probably one of the toughest before the marathon itself as from now on a lot of the faster miles disappear in favour of marathon pace miles.

Mondays tempo was followed by easy miles Tuesday and then a killer but very enjoyable (yes that is possible) session on Wednesday of 1 mile warm-up+2miles @10k pace+1mile@5k pace x 2+2miles 5k pace+1 mile cool-down. I looooovvved this for some reason and am secretly hoping we do it again this week.....when it will probably kick my ass all over town.
My day was made by one of the guys turning to me after a repeat and saying "Did you just improve a lot all of a sudden?" My little wannabe runners heart skipped a beat!

Thursday and Friday were mostly easy miles as knew I was about to trash my legs this weekend and didn't want to end up sidelined in these big weeks.

I did my long run Saturday - 19 miles @ 9:05 average. Felt ok. Not great but they can't all be.
It seemed longer by myself but luckily I met up with a friend between 13 and 16 when I really needed it and she dragged me along. Fueling went ok. My strategy is very high tech as gels etc don't seem to agree with me. What I'm doing is taking packs of jelly sweets (I recommend sour patch kids) which I know I can stomach as I've used them before, and turning them into runner fuel by emptying in one of those tiny sachets of salt you get at deli counters. Don't knock it until you have tried it! You barely taste the salt as only some of it sticks to the sweets anyway and you don't feel as if you have been beaten and robbed by a running shop for something that once again sends you running to the portaloo (I'm talking to you Gu, Honeystinger, Hammer and don't even get me started on sports drinks!)

So what does one do on the final day of a week that included no rest days and the day after a tough long run?
Climb the highest peak in Leinster you say? Don't mind if I do!

Had a beautiful day for a jaunt up Lugnaquilla so set off with my friend G and made good time completeing the return trip in 3 hours including the sandwich but not including the pint of Guinness each at the bottom. Yum! An auspicious end to a 66 mile week......my highest mileage ever.




Monday, 1 September 2014

Scandal!

No not with me. Life is wonderfully uneventful at the moment and that is fine by me. The Scandal I'm referring to is the TV show. I have managed to binge watch the first two seasons of this in the last few days. I'm not really a TV person but something about marathon training makes me want to put my feet up more in my free time (when I'm not running of course.) Also a distraction is handy during foam rolling and donkey kicks etc. to make it less head wrecking.
Anyway....Scandal. Love it. Love Olivia Pope. Love her wardrobe. But how how how does she wear so much white and still drink red wine? I would end up with an array of slightly speckled off white clothing.
I suppose this is what makes it not real.
Get a grip girl!

Starting to focus on the Athlone Flatline Half Marathon on September 13th now.  Haven't done specific training for it...just sticking to my training for DCM. Next week is a step back week with mileage anyway so it fits in nicely.

Tempo this evening. Only girl at training so ran with the guys and felt very comfortable on the whole, and held 8 minute/mile average for the six miles. That course is on grass and on very rolling hills so hopefully that kind off pace is realistic for the very flat half on roads with a pacer. Or maybe I'm deluding myself but hey-ho...I'll find out soon enough!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Dublin City Marathon Training: First 18 miler!

Amazing long run again this morning.  Evil thoughts of changing my marathon target time entering my head.

This was a big mileage week but not much intensity so everything but my interval session were at a fairly easy pace this week up to today.
The interval session happened on the treadmill due to work and family constraints which made it very easy to dial in the paces but not any easier to actually execute.
This was 1 mile warm-up + 1 mile at 5k pace + 2 miles at 10k pace (this sucked!!!) + 1 mile at 3k pace + 1 mile cool-down. There was sweat everywhere after this!

Did two extremely easy 10 milers Thursday and Friday.  Didn't even bring the watch and just enjoyed being out there and refused to get intimidated by people passing me.

Which brings us up to todays 18 miler.
Splits were:
8:50
8:35
8:17
8:23
8:30
8:36
8:26
8:06
8:19
8:34
9:50
9:21
8:23
8:11
7:56
8:13
8:20
8:19

The 9+ miles in the middle were where C had to stop with her knee and jog back to the car which is really bothering her.  Hope she feels better soon!  Also I forgot to stop the watch while we refueled at the cars at that point.

Sooooo! What to do.  I'm going to do a slower long run by myself next week and then see how I get on at the half marathon.  I am aiming for sub 1:45 which I had thought was a bit unrealistic but....maybe not!

Monday, 25 August 2014

High mileage week!

Well high mileage for me anyway! I'll top out at about 55 miles this week with quite a few of those being marathon pace miles. There isn't that much speed-work on the schedule this week to temper the mileage increase so I'm going to try to do what is there exactly as prescribed. I'm trying out the treadmill at work tomorrow after everyone else has left.  This lets me dial in the session and hopefully just keep the legs turning until it's over. I'm quite looking forward to it in masochistic sort of way.

Conveniently this also fits quite nicely with the real world outside running in that I have to go to meetings in two different schools tomorrow night. Maybe you can see why I'm looking forward to a treadmill interval session now? Anyway getting the run in immediately after work is probably the only way it's going to happen and I hate missing sessions so that is the plan!

Legs feeling good. Fingers crossed, touch wood etc. that I will stay injury free.  Might book a sports massage for later in the week to fend off the evil eye/niggles.  

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Cheeky!

Got an unsolicited text message today advertising a singles mixer in a nearby town. I thought that was really not on! Firstly how did they get my phone number? Is it someone I know as a joke? Or worse.....the ex?

If it was an e-mail or some kind of facebook ad thing I'd be less freaked out as you almost expect this kind of rubbish online but it's not as if I've even tried to re-enter the dating pool so what the hell is this all about?? Or am I overreacting just a tad? Perhaps :)

8 mile tempo Monday felt strong. 5 miles easy today did not....but not overly worried about that the day after a hard session. It's a step back week this week so track tomorrow is my last really hard workout of the week with just a 9 mile marathon pace run Saturday and 12 miles easy on Sunday. In fact the hardest part about Sunday is going to be entertaining my friends adorable but energetic twins while she cruises through the Jog for Jockeys 10k in well under 40 minutes!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Sooooooo

Almost a month has passed since my last post...how did that happen? It's been so long I had to go back and have a read over my previous posts just to see what had been happening at the time. I'm a bit disappointed in myself to be honest as I really wanted to document this training cycle and see what has worked and not worked when I look back after the marathon. Back to it then!

Training has been going well. The long runs are starting to get longer (obviously) and I'm up to sixteen miles (more on that later)  The mileage is in the high 40's the last couple of weeks and I'm tolerating it well which I attribute to maintaining a fairly good base all summer.  Not starving (any more than usual) and not really feeling it in the legs so far.  Fingers crossed this will continue!

I can't even remember if I'd mentioned my target time here. It's 3:50 so a pace of 8:47 minutes/mile.  Now this had been intimidating me a bit and I was wondering if this was a realistic target. I didn't really have any good reason to doubt myself but that has never stopped me failing to believe in myself before so why break the habit of a lifetime!

This week of training has been a bit of an eyeopener though! Firstly I did a longer session at the track of 6x1200m at 5k pace. To say I was scared beforehand is an understatement but I hit every interval at or under my target pace of 7:30. Happy happy!

The second key workout happened almost by chance. An athletics club night out last night meant that I was contacted by some of the other girls doing long runs to see if I wanted to run with them yesterday morning instead of doing our long runs alone on Sunday. This was lovely of them to offer and I accepted but was really nervous. They are both 3:30ish marathoners so I was worried I wouldn't be able to keep up. Faster than my long run pace anyway! They assured me they wanted to take it nice and easy. Conditions yesterday were perfect and to cut a long story short we ended up doing the entire thing at 8:39 minutes/mile. Easily. On a hilly route. While chatting. To be honest I felt like I could have done a few more at the same pace or faster.

This of course was a massive confidence boost and I'm delighted.  But also it now begs the question....is my target too soft? In my opinion it's too soon to tell. I'm edging towards making a decision once I do the twenty milers. Today my legs are fine and I'm enjoying a lovely rest day which I'm taking very seriously here on the couch. The foam roller beckons!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Sweatfest

Is everyone else melting or is it just me?  It's not even that hot out but the air appears to be full of liquid and on the edge of a thunderstorm at any moment.
Anyways as someone who struggles to break a sweat most of the time I am soaked coming back from my runs this week. This from someone who will usually puke from exertion long before a bead of sweat forms on my forehead (I'm a freak!)

Training has been going really well despite the heat and I'm hitting all my paces. I keep trying to convince myself to dial it back because of the heat but then the other voice in my head tells me it must be great training if I'm still hitting the paces in adverse conditions. Or maybe I'm on crack and heading for burnout....who knows!

I did my track session (5x1000m) today instead of tomorrow as I'm going for tapas with the girls from the athletic club tomorrow night and didn't want to have to suffer through that nightmare session first.  Of course now I'm high as a kite on endorphins and will probably be up way past my bedtime. Oh well!

Tapas, vino and a good laugh to look forward to tomorrow.  Happy happy!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Lady of the flies

The back end of this week has been a bit of a slogfest.  Thursdays tempo run was a partial disaster. The first 5 miles I hit my pace target or was under. This was probably a mistake as it was really hot and humid out there and I should have slowed down to compensate. At mile 6 I died. Or my legs did anyway. I came into this really sheltered valley area and was attacked by flies and slowed down to what felt like a walk. It was the closest I've felt to marathon death shuffle in a while so I'll call it really good training!

Flies were on the menu again quite literally today in the form of those little ones that keep flying into your mouth and eyes. It was really hot and humid out and I had to change my run route as I saw forked lightning right in front of me about 2 miles into my run.  The way I intended to go is really open and I would certainly have been the tallest thing out there so I decided to divert to somewhere a bit more populated.  
Some of the lightning must have hit a transformer or something as when I went to call into Tesco after I was done the doors were closed as they were running on the backup generator. There were still people in the shop and the tills were working so I managed to talk my way in as I was only grabbing one thing.  

I deserved every unpleasant moment of today's run. It should have been easy but a coffee with a friend yesterday turned into sharing 2.5 bottles of wine and sleeping on her couch. Sometimes catching up with a friend is more important than training.  I don't know if I can justify that much wine though! 


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Time flies!

I can't believe it's been almost a week since I updated this! Lots has been happening and I think it's safe to say that I need to go to the track on a Wednesday night whether I feel like it or not as my mood is so much better after. I was doom and gloom central this day last week!

Thursday was an interesting running day. I turned up on the curragh plains and a couple of the other girls were doing "easy" runs as they had done the track session or tempos the day before. Meanwhile I had a tempo on my training plan.
I decided to use my frequently bemoaned lack of speed to my advantage and let them drag me around in their wake.  Surprisingly this actually worked really well!

We started off with a 9 minute mile but quickly dropped to 8 min/miles for the rest (bar the last one where it was requested that we slow down. Newsflash....that was not me asking!) There were definitely a few segments where I looked down and saw my 5k pace on the watch and freaked out a bit. I stopped checking it and that resolved the problem. What? Is that not how all news you don't want to know should be treated?The takeaway from it was that I was fine and I nailed my first really challenging tempo run.  Yay me!

Friday was a bit of a disaster. I was driving down to Kerry with my kiddos to meet up with friends and climb Carrauntoohil early Saturday morning.  After a refuel I hit the motorway and within about ten minutes knew I was in trouble. You are not meant to be able to actually see the fuel gauge drop. Not while you are looking at it. Not on a tiny diesel anyway! Thank god for breakdown cover is all I can say.

So we spent the night in a hotel and needless to say didn't manage to get the car repaired on time to join the climb.  We did however make it to the evening refreshments though so all was not lost.
I did get to do a 1.5 hour hike with the kids while we waited for the others to get back so that sufficed instead of a run on Saturday.

Sunday morning was difficult due to an amazing self-filling wineglass the night before. Must make sure to never get one of those.
A long walk on Banna beach blew the cobwebs away and was followed by some seafood chowder and my very first raw oyster! The verdict? Not too bad actually.

I hummed and hawed over my longish run all day and pretty much had an excuse made up for myself but then I couldn't think of anything else I wanted to do either so I just got out and did it!. It was a slow burner this one. The legs felt fairly crappy for the first couple of miles and I was having problems hitting 10 minute miles. It was fairly hilly but that's no excuse! And then I just started feeling better. I finished really strongly and felt a kind of power in my legs I haven't felt in quite some time. Due to my total lack of navigation skills this run ended up being 9.5 miles instead of the intended 8, but who's counting? (Me)

I rested on Monday and went for a pretty good 6 miler yesterday and then today I had track. I didn't bring my watch but I felt like I was in a different gear this week. Maybe it's just the day that was in it? Maybe I've just strung together some strong training sessions and it's a coincidence and doesn't mean anything? Perhaps though I have finally gotten off this damn plateau I've been on? A girl can dream can't she?

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

No unicorns. Out of rainbows and fairy dust.

Sometimes I allow myself to get upset about my slow progress with this whole running lark. There is always that temptation to compare myself with others and fall short.

Sometimes I'm ridiculously frustrated when I talk to people at races who train casually or very sporadically and who are so much faster than me. In that situation I tend to feel quite angry that they appear to be wasting god given talent. But then who am I to judge that? It's obviously just not a priority for them.

I'm aware that I don't have very much speed or natural running talent. My body type and weight are not ideally suited to running either. What I do have in enthusiasm, a strong work ethic and a stubborn streak.
So how far can you get with only those attributes? Hopefully an autumn full of PB's.

It may not feel like I'm getting anywhere right now but perhaps I just need to trust in my training and ignore these down days where I feel like I'm standing still?  These days have to happen too I suppose.


Truckin' along

An uneventful 5 miler yesterday followed by 3 unscheduled miles with my son got the week off to a good start.  Week three of my plan is supposed to be a slight step-back week with the longest run being an 8 miler on Sunday. This suits me as I'm climbing Carrauntoohil this Saturday weather permitting and the legs will appreciate the lighter mileage.  I'm not sure if hiking gives any marathon specific benefits but it probably better than a weekend on the couch?  Or maybe not.  We will see I presume.

I got my bike back from the ex today so that's good.  If nothing else it will be another way to avoid strength training!  Although I did do about ten squats yesterday and some lunges.  Needless to say my thighs are aching today.


Sunday, 6 July 2014

Yuck and yum

It's been a mixed bag the last few days. Some uplifting moments interspersed with some real discomfort both in running and my personal life.

Thursday brought a tough 8 miler on already tired legs. It probably should have been done at 9:30 pace but as I was running with someone else it ended up being 8-8:30 instead. Yay ego!  Anyway it was uncomfortable but good threshold training so I'll take it!

I took Friday off as I planned to do Naas Parkrun on Saturday morning. Arrived in plenty of time to warm up and was giving the girls there a hand assembling the tables when who arrives as a volunteer only the ex. Awkward!
So began my longest ever warmup for a 5k. Mentally I didn't really have my head in the game after that but finished in a respectable 23:50.  A good effort for a Saturday morning.

The emotional toll caught up with me a bit and I had to take a nap once I got home. Luckily the rest of the day and evening were taken up with a bbq at my friend T's house. It's a bit of a trek there so we stayed over. T has a teen boy close in age to my kiddos and there was another girl there too so they got on like a house on fire after the initial awkwardness. They raved about the night and their newfound friends on the drive home and nothing makes me happier than seeing my kids animated and positive like that. Does my heart good!

After the night of indulgence and little sleep I was sure today's 11 miler was going to be a disaster. Well that just goes to show you can't always tell with these things.

I enjoyed every mile of my run. I had allowed myself to do it as slow as I wanted but ended up nailing my 9:30 average pace with a massive negative split. I felt like I could have comfortably done 5-6 more today without it being a big issue. More of this please!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

A lovely rest day

Tuesday was a day off running and as the weather was gorgeous I decided bring the teens out or they would stay inside and gradually turn grey.
We headed off to Emo Court near Portlaoise which was lovely.  We shared a massive slice of chocolate fudge cake from the impressive selection in the coffee shop and then headed off for over an hour of walking in penance.  It was a gorgeous day to be outside in the sun.
After this we drove the short distance to the Rock of Dunamaise.  This ruined castle on a hill was the perfect spot for our picnic and I was left to read my kindle on the blanket while the teens rambled around climbing in an out of windows and generally using their imagination.  All good stuff and a joy to see.  It was one of those lovely moments when all seems well in the world!



I woke up feeling bleugh today for no particularly good reason.  We did a pyramid session at the track which I completed all of so that's four Wednesdays in a row now.  Don't know if I'm getting any faster though.
I suppose a race will tell that? Unfortunately the track is closed for the next few weeks for resurfacing so we will be doing our session at a local football pitch.  Oh well!


Monday, 30 June 2014

Hot hot hot!

There appears to be a notable lack of races in my calendar for the moment and I feel like I'm missing that a bit at the moment.  Still, there is a lot of training going on!

I was back at the track again on Wednesday for 800's this time.  Only girl doing this workout so proud of myself for sticking with it.  The coach did make me stay back on the 4th one and only do 400 for that as I wasn't getting a full recovery.  Apart from that I completed the session.  So that's three track workouts in a row.  Yay!

Thursday I did 8 rainy miles.  It actually wasn't a bad evening at all once you were already wet.

Friday I met up with my lovely friend N in Galway for a long awaited night on the town.  We had a blast and were proper social butterflies (well we thought so anyway!) For this reason the only exercise done on Saturday was a walk to Sheridans Bar in Knocknacarra for a late breakfast (they serve until 1pm) and much rehashing of our night over sparkling waters.

Sunday I had a long drive to pick up my baby boy in Achill.  So good to have him home!
By the time I got back it was nice and warm and I realised I had forgotten my headphones.  I headed off anyway for a very uncomfortable 10 miles but it's done and they can't all be nice I suppose!

I followed that up with another fairly crappy 5.5 miles in the heat today.  My legs were tired and my lungs were hating the pace.  Probably should have slowed it down a bit due to the heat but never mind. I'm going to run by myself Thursday to keep my pace comfortable after track Wednesday.

Rest day tomorrow and perhaps a picnic somewhere nice.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

So where was I??

Oh yes! I was injured, or pre-injured rather.  That rest seemed to work quite well and I got back to running again last week. I was probably well enough to run by Monday but I had an exam that day and was wiped. (Passed.  Phew!  I get to put AVS after my name on LinkedIn. Something about which nobody cares except me!) and then belatedly brought my daughter to Dublin for the night to celebrate finishing both of our sets of exams. Tuesday I was predictably still wrecked after a busy few days so got back to it properly at the track on Wednesday.

It was the hottest night I've been there so far and I'm proud to say I did the whole set session of 4x400 warm-up/10x90seconds/4x400 cool-down.  For most people it's 10x400 but the whistle always goes before I get all the way round so that's me done at about 330m. I could probably get all the way round maybe three times (and then get sick after) but it's not worth it if I want to do the full 10. When I started in November I was getting to maybe 250-280m and could only do 6 so I'll take it. Hopefully with consistency I'll get all the way round for the full set of 10. And on that night I will buy myself a lone beer in celebration!

Thursday was dinner out with the athletics club girls at a local restaurant that does two courses and a glass of wine for 20 euro. Stuck with that and went home hoarse from talking and sore in the belly from laughing so a good night was had. What a great bunch they are!  I've fallen on my feet there. Oh and I snuck in 5 flat miles by the canal after work before I headed out. Uneventful but a bit on the warm side.

I was lucky enough to spend the weekend in Achill as the guest of a friend and her grandparents. Again, I must say I have absolutely lucked out with the people I have met recently. Everyone has been so positive and generous with their time and seem to want to be out in the fresh air as much as I do. Very good influences all!

Anyway we squeezed in about as much activity as it's possible to while still getting some sleep.
Saturday started with a 5 mile run on the beach.  I followed this up with a cycle from Achill to Mulranny and back with my number 1 son. This was garnished with a side of 3 hours of hiking from Keem beach up to the Shepherds Hut?/Lookout? and along the sea cliffs to the megalithic tombs. This took 3 hours as we took a boggy route back that required quite a bit of zig-zagging.




Oh and we also cycled to the pub and back (only a mile mind!)


Sunday was more of the same only we had to head back early afternoon so we only managed a run to Keem from Keel and a 1.5 hour cycle around the island. Lazy wagons we were.

And then on Monday I ran 8 easy miles and my legs fell off. The end.
Well almost!


Sunday, 15 June 2014

A niggle and some enforced rest

So it was all going a bit too smoothly obviously!
After my easy miles Tuesday I hit the track on Wednesday for a hot, sweaty pyramid interval session. I'm glad to say I completed the whole thing which is not always the case. Felt good after it too... No issues.
I should have run easy Thursday and warmed up properly but due to leaving my wallet at work and not realising this until I should have been doing my warm up myrtls I ended up arriving just as the group was about to set off. My calf felt uncomfortable from a mile in and we were running much faster than i was comfortable at. Did I complain or slow down?  Nooo!  I just let my ego take over and kept on running.
On Friday my calf was painful at rest but by yesterday it was only uncomfortable if I tried to run. I had been registered for a local charity 10k "The Run for Ollie" and didn't want to miss it as it's a lovely day.
So I walked it and it was absolutely the right decision.
I feel much better today and will try some easy miles on Tuesday (I'm all over the country by car over the next couple of days so Tuesday may be the first chance I get!)
Maybe the enforced rest will do me good before marathon training starts on June 24th!!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Study and a rest

I awoke yesterday with the full intention of doing some form of recovery run at some point.  It was apparent by the time I walked down the hall to the kitchen that my body disagreed.  Maybe I had overcooked last week with all that mileage? (Relatively speaking....it's high for me!) What to do?  

I've been getting better recently at discerning when I need to listen to my body and rest, and when I'm just being a lazy old sow and get out the door.  My hip flexors were sore, especially on the right, my glutes ached and most worryingly I had no interest in running despite it being quite a nice day.  Also my stomach was upset and didn't want me to stray too far from my apartment.  So I didn't!

I foam rolled and tidied, and foam rolled and ate, and foam rolled and studied for an exam.  Then I ate some more.  Then I cooked for my daughter so she had something delicious waiting for her when she came back from doing exams.  Then I ate again!  I ate a ridiculous amount actually so that needs to stop.  Mostly salad and veggies with hummus (and quite a few spoons of peanut butter.  And a granola bar)  Maybe it's my body getting used to the higher mileage but it's the other direction I need to be heading on the scales so I need to cop on.  I easily have the highest BMI in my running club which is not something I'm about to go off the deep end about but I do know that the fastest way for me to improve my speed would be to lose a couple of stone.  With my history with food I'm unwilling to start counting calories or cutting out food groups but I do have to stop taking the mickey completely too!  Anyway back to work tomorrow so that kind of takes care of itself there as I can only eat what I bring with me.

Anyway I felt much better today and did a lovely easy 7 miler with not too many hills for a change.  Felt brilliant after it (but hungry again FFS!!)



Still miss this place :(

Sunday, 8 June 2014

A lovely Irish morning

Last night I slept well and was greeted with blue skies when I awoke at 7 (early bird...nothing I can do about it.) I was itching to get out for my promised 10 miler and was contemplating sunscreen, visors v's shades, my warm weather gear.  By 8:30 when I was due to leave to meet the running club it was overcast, blustery and ominously dark.   By the time I arrived at the parking spot, chatted and waited for any latecomers it was properly raining and chilly....what was I letting myself in for.  Also there were only 7 minute milers and under so I resigned myself to a long lonely run.  

To be honest I was on my own but I had a good run and it was certainly faster than if I had set out alone. Although I had already decided there wasn't any point in trying to keep up with the others I had decided to try to keep the others in sight as much as possible as I didn't want to be completely on my own and I wasn't sure of the last part of the loop.  I usually do the 8 miler on that loop so the route out past 6 miles I wasn't 100% certain of.  

Once we set off the rain stopped for the moment which was a relief as this part is on grass.....no fun to have wet shoes that early in the game!  It takes me a while to get going so I found the first couple of miles difficult but by 4 miles I was settled and in the zone.  This was good as it then proceeded to lash rain for the next couple of miles.   At this point I was hot so I was getting strange looks from drivers as I grinned like a crazy person into the wind and rain.  What can I say?  I love a rain shower once I'm warmed up! 
I was really pushing it on the hills between 6 and 8, struggling to keep the last of the faster group in view. Luckily I seemed to always just get them back in sight as they were about to round a corner so that kept me moving knowing I was on the right track.  

I got back in 1:30 approx giving me about an 8:30-8:40min/mile pace which I was really happy with considering the wind and how hilly the route is.  I don't fancy doing all my long runs at that pace but nice to know I can manage it without being absolutely wrecked.  When I got back one of the other girls asked me how far I had gone.  I told her 10 miles and she couldn't believe it.  Only the guys and eejit here continued on in the bad weather and did the full 10!  The other two girls had turned off at 6 miles to do 8 instead. Oh well! 

Afterwards I was glad I didn't know as I think it would have made it harder if I knew there was an easy way out.  Need to work on my mental toughness next obviously.  And also not also being last so I know what's going on would probably help too.  

Saturday, 7 June 2014

A good week of training

This week has been really good in general and with a view to training.

I had that 8 miler on tired legs on Monday and some solid strength training on Tuesday.  This was followed with the club 4 mile handicap on Wednesday night so with warm-up and cool-down that makes at least 6 miles.  Thursday was 4 recovery miles catching up on a friends holiday and then Friday I did another 8 miles on the Curragh pushing myself on hills and into a strong headwind on the flats.  I rewarded myself with pizza and wine!

Today was a leisurely hike with a friend from Ticknock to Johnnie Foxs pub (I was a JF virgin up to this point) and back.  One pint of the black stuff each was purchased to punctuate our journey and the conversation flowed from the first step to the very last.  Oh and the sun shone unexpectedly.  Can't ask much more than that of a Saturday afternoon!


I'm hoping to get 10 miles in tomorrow morning with some of the running club......hopefully someone slow will show up or it will be lonely out there!  I had better bring my headphones just in case I'm on my own.

If I include the hike that will put my mileage for the week well into the mid 40's which is exactly where I want to be right now.  Feeling very happy with my lot in life right now!

Oh and I may have the beginnings of a team for the Sionnach Relay (same as Ragnar in the USA) which is something I wanted to do since it was first announced but I couldn't find anyone to do it with me.  We have four now so four to go and we are all set.  Yay!