Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Running to the background for a while

Right so, I'm leaving you for a week. My holiday starts in a few hours and I can't wait. Work is being left behind so I'm not even going to look at a computer while I'm away - when you're on a tropical island who looks for internet access??

Likewise, I've been told by my coach to forget about running. I'm not allowed to even think about it. If someone brings up running in conversation I'll just have to change the topic quick smart. To make things easier I'm not going to even tell anyone new that I meet that I dabble in the odd bit of running!

This is my break from it all so I'm sure as hell going to enjoy every last minute of it. On that note I'll say goodbye to the blog for a week and will update it with tales of cocktails in a hammock when I return.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Race Report #5 - 10km in the middle of nowhere (35m 43s)

I have to say going into this race I wasn't overly confident of performing. I'd been a bit sluggish during the week and wasn't feeling like a race. But it was on the calendar so it had to be done. I finished up the weeks training as I'd planned, my weekly routine was the same for Wednesday and Thursday. With Friday being two days before the race I simply did a 4 mile jog with about 4 or 5 bursts of around 250m. I'd a lot on on Saturday so there was nothing done then.

The race was a 10km road race in the middle of nowhere. I reckon if I was still living in Dublin I'd never have gone to a race that far away but with the transport network in London it was fierce easy to get to. A tube from the end of my road took me to the train station where I got a train that left me 100m from the race HQ. God knows how many buses I'd have needed to get in Dublin just to get to and from the various train stations.

The race itself went fairly smoothly. The course was undulating, none of the hills were massive by any stretch but we were constantly going up and down. We were very much in the country side, running along country roads with farm land to the left and right.

I set out with the main group for the first few kilometres, after which they started to get away from me as I found my rhythm. From then on in I was racing strong, no one passed me and I didn't pass anyone. I stayed focused on one guy who was about 10 metres ahead of me the whole time. I constantly pushed to catch him but somehow I could never close that 10 metre gap, it was if he started to push every time I got close to him. Bizarre. I was quite happy at how the hills didn't seem to be any problem to me but then again none of them would come close to anything I was racing up and down in France last year!

Oddly enough at the half way stage I felt fine, 7km, 8km, 9km still fine. There wasn't an extra gear I could go but I wasn't uncomfortable at all. I turned the final corner to see the clock reading out just over 35 minutes so I gave a final sprint to the line where I finished about 10 metres behind the guy in front of me...

Looking back on it I was a bit disappointed as I never felt like I really pushed myself. The feeling at the finish line was as if I could have gone on at that pace for another few miles. I was strong through out but I couldn't go any faster than I was going. The uncomfortable feeling you generally have at half way was never there which annoyed me somewhat. Was I holding back or was that as fast as I could have gone? Did the fact that I wasn't happy with the weeks training make me feel unready and I wouldn't let myself go all out? My coach simply asked me what he said to me last week which was that I'd be strong and not fast which is exactly what happened. But that comfortable still surprised me. He pointed out that if it was a 10 mile race I'd have hit one hell of a PB and that we haven't trained to go fast so yet so I obviously can't race fast yet. I've got to admit, he makes a fair point there!

Speed training starts in May, next race sees me hit the track for a 5000m... there's going to be a busy summer ahead I think...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

They can't all be perfect

Here I was hoping that the 14 x 1 minute session would go swimmingly well after last Friday's flying session. I'm afraid not, there was constantly glances at the watch to see when the hell the minute would be up! That's not a good sign in my book... I much prefer the watch beeping to tell me I'm done before I'm so tired I have to look.

Today and tomorrow will follow the same schedule as I do every week and then Friday's will be cut back slightly because of the race on Sunday. It'll more than likely be a 5/6 mile jog with a few strides thrown in in the middle. On Saturday I may or may not go out for a couple of miles depending on whether or not I have the time but it's not essential and no harm either way.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"The marathon is that way!"

Wouldn't you know that some cheeky scamp would shout that at me as I was doing my long run on Sunday after I finished watching the London marathon on TV? I was actually surprised that he was the only one to shout it.

It was a great marathon to watch and I was super impressed with Ryan Hall's efforts, especially when he was dropped by the lead pack at around 14/15 miles to dig in and rejoin them later in the race. Granted he may not have won but a 2 minute PR is really impressive.

The marathon started off like a beautiful sunny day before getting hit with huge rain showers by the end of it. That kind of summed up the weekend here and my long run on Sunday. One minute it was blue skies, then pissing rain, then sunny, then hail and so on for two bloody days! At one stage on my long run I was too warm on with the Under Armour gear on before I was drenched to the skin with 5 miles to home. By the time I got home my hands had frozen and I struggled with the keys to the house for a while. To think that when I was watching the marathon at 9am I thought to myself that I'd be able to go out in a vest!

I missed yesterdays training with some dodgy stomach cramps that lasted 8 hours. From midday to 8pm I was doubled over, but at 8 I was back to 100%. Fairly odd altogether. At first I was freaked that it was some kind of virus that was going to prevent me from being able to eat for the day. I knew that if that was the case racing this weekend would be out the window. By the time I started to feel better I'd already decided that I was missing training. I was just thankful that I managed to eat a full dinner without a reoccurrence of the pain.

This evening I should be doing some speedwork to get prepared for the race. Something along the lines of 14 x 1 minute intervals with a 90 second jog in between. It's the same session I did last Friday, and on Friday it went shockingly well. Some of the intervals blew me away at how fast I was actually going. Here's hoping today's will be just as good.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Getting a break

Coming into this week I had a 10k pencilled in for Sunday week and then two weeks after that I was going to attempt my first track race.

Then on Wednesday the chance of a holiday away came about and I thought this was going to throw the plans into disarray. On Wednesday week I'm off on holiday for a week... and I'm going far, far away... I'm actually going to leave the northern hemisphere. Two friends of mine are getting married in Mauritius and I've decided, pretty much last minute, to go along. It's a once in a life time oppertunity how could I say no?? I mulled this question over in my head the whole way around my Wednesday run. What are the pros and cons of going, training, work, finances... all covered in the hour I was out. In the end I thought, "fuck it, why not?!" and this morning I booked the flights, wahey!

Why I said I thought this was going to throw my races into disarray is because I'd be leaving three days after the 10km and arriving back three days before the 5,000m. Taking on my first track race without any track sessions seemed a bit odd to me but my coach said it doesn't bother him at all. In fact he went further, and told me to switch off completely while I'm away. He's said I've to take four days off over there... and the four days have to be in a row! when's the last time I didn't run for four days?? November, after the marathon I'd guess.

My coach puts never taking a break when he was younger as one of his biggest mistakes and he's not going to let me do the same. He used to run twice a day, regardless of how he was feeling. Looking back on it now that he's a qualifed coach is one of his regrets. As much as I'll want to run during them four days, as there's no reason why I wouldn't, I haven't done anything to deserve this break, I'm going to listen to him. The safest bet is to only bring two pairs of running socks and vests with me so I'll only have enough for the two days I'll have to run.

I'm not going to know myself... beaching it up on a tropical island with a cocktail in my hand. Heaven!!

Now, if only the 23rd would come along faster.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Time to play sleep catch up

As this week has started out so hectically I feel like I'm now in a taper mode. Tonight is going to be a night in with Champions League football on the box. A simple but effective evening.

The week so far. I felt grand on Monday after the slightly faster than slow long run on Sunday, which was a nice! I finished work a tad early to get a run in before heading out to the Silver Mount Zion gig. I was surprisingly light footed on the run around the park. I had been expecting to have to slog around after the long run the previous day, but no, it was fairly handy. The gig went on quite late but it was definitely worth the trip out. First time seeing them live, they're the kind of band whose live performance is miles ahead of their recordings. That said, I love the albums, so it says a lot about their performance.

Monday was kind of like a warm up to what I had in store for myself Tuesday; both training and gig wise.

As everyone around here seems to be tapering for the London marathon on Sunday I was left sans training buddies for my tough Tuesday sessions. I decided to take on a session that I hadn't done this far, that had me kind of nervous but also excited about doing. The session...
5 miles HARD!

Running this training session solo was not going to be nice; there'd be no one to make sure I'd finish it, no one to pace it, it wasn't like a race where it's hurting but you have to finish, this was training, of course I could stop.
Race shoes on, watch left behind, I left the house ready and jogged about for 2 miles. Using the course from my last race was ideal as it's a traffic free, measured 5 mile loop. It was everything I thought it would be... Hell! I started fast (too fast?!) and struggled to stay with it. I don't think I was comfortable for any stage of it and when I finished (I didn't quit, even though my head said to... repeatedly) I was completely shattered.

But it didn't stop there... a 2 mile jog home, followed by me putting the oven on to preheat while I stretched. Pizza in the oven while I showered and then out the door to another gig. This time Holy Fuck. I swear if I'd sat down for a minute I'd have gone to sleep so the best thing was to keep moving!

This gig was absolutely amazing. First off the support act were great (Free Blood) and had me swaying and bopping a bit. By the time they finished I'd already felt like I got my monies worth. I'd never heard of them or anything by them before last night but their live act was great fun.

Then Holy Fuck... if I could run to music, this is the music I'd run to! Quite un-me like I was dancing from start to finish of their set. This was probably aided by the few pints I had to make sure I didn't get too tired too early.

So aye, after two gigs, two late nights, a heavy training session and no chance of a lie in because of work I'm relieved that tonight is an easy night (both socially and training)...

Monday, April 7, 2008

What a difference a few days make

On Friday evening I was in the park, running around the football pitches, wearing vest and shorts, banging out the intervals. Great session, great day, the start of glorious summer evenings. Saturday night I go to bed and wake up 3 months ago!! There was a sheet of snow across London... We escaped this in December, January and February, but now with the heating turned off in the house, we get snow!! Take me back to the south of France....

Anyway on a training note. Last week as the clocks had gone forward I decided to make the most of the longer evenings by running after work and increasing the mileage slowly. I do mean slowly, I simply added a single mile to a few of my easy runs. There's no great necessity to increase the mileage that much at the moment so I'm not going to force myself to do any extra, if I feel fresh after 8 miles then I'll throw in another one, if I feel done after 8 I'll head on home.

As I said on Friday it was an interval session again. I jogged out a few miles warm up first off and then went into 12 x 1 minute burst with 90 seconds jog in between and then a few miles warm down. My whole summer last year was based on this session so it was nice to get back into it. The aim now is to build that up to around 16 x 1 minute.

Yesterday, snow or not I had to get the long run in. I'd been told by my coach that this week he wanted me to go up a gear from the usual easy long run. I've been doing these runs religiously since December at a slow pace. This weekend however I had to find that gear somewhere in between easy and steady. I think I found it! I wasn't too tired when I finished... actually that's a lie, my legs were fine but after I got out of the shower jumping into bed was the easier option than getting dressed.

This week should be fun trying to juggle training and gig going. The gigs start tonight with Thee Silver Mount Zion. I've finally figured out how to juggle work and training so it seems about right that I throw something else into that mix!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Moving to the track

After a very long conversation with my coach yesterday I realised this morning...

Shit, I'm going to need more runners!

Fairly lively I'll be starting into training for track races. I haven't raced track before but apparently I'll be taking part in 1500m, 3000m and 5000m over the coming months. It all starts in May. I've been told not to worry about anything, to leave all that to the coach. I can deal with that.

Before that all starts I've a 10km road race scheduled for three Sundays time. I may get one or two sessions in on the track before that but more than likely it won't be until nearer the end of this month before the real burn my ass of track training starts.

Something new and different to look forward to I suppose. The times my coach is predicting for my 5000m is a fair chunk faster than where I'm at now. As he always says, a fast 5k means you can run a fast 10k, and if you can run a fast 10k, you can run a fast 10 miles.... and so on...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Another quote

"The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses—behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights. "
- Muhammad Ali

I read this quote yesterday and I have to say it really sums up marathon running for me. Before the last marathon I knew on the morning that the work had been put in and the I'd get the right result. Hopefully I'll be saying the same thing the day of my next marathon... which is months away at this stage