Monday, April 27, 2009

Just Another Race

18 months ago before the Dublin City marathon CR told me to relax about the race, treat it like any other race, and it'd work out fine. How the hell could I treat it as any other race? It was do or bust as far as I was concerned. I don't think I'd have been able to continue on marathon training if I'd crashed and burned like the last two. All the training I'd done was for the marathon - nothing else mattered.

Fast forward to today and what do I think about Sunday's race? Quite simply, that it's just another race. One difference between now and then is how much I race. Before the last marathon I'd probably been in 15 or so races... 6 of them marathons! Now? In the past 18 months I've been in 22 races, ranging from 3000m on the track, 5 miles in muddy fields to a half marathon on the road. The last few weeks have flown by - usually with 2 weeks to go I'd start getting anxious, counting down the number of runs I'd left to the marathon and then get excited when I could count on two hands. After today's five miler it was the first time it dawned on me that I only have a few more runs to go - maybe 4, maybe 3.

I'm even looking past the marathon already - not worrying about the outcome. What I'm thinking is what a great base I'm going to have going into my track season come the middle of June. I'm actually looking forward to the track this year. Have I forgotten last year already? I was crap on the track. I hated the damn track. Yet now I'm thinking I could be alright on it this year.

Come 12.30 this Sunday I can say one thing for certain, I won't be depressed if things don't go my way. There'll be other races and other marathons (albeit probably not for another 12-18 months). This one race will not make me any better than I am now. All it'll do is tell me what type of time I'm capable of. Once it's done, good or bad, I'll do the same thing - pub, pint and food. I'll forget about running for a few weeks and then I'll be back getting ready to race again.

I've put a lot of work into training over the past 3 months, hell the past year, and I fully expect a decent performance. As my old boxing coach used to say to us "You only get out what you put in"... and I've put a bloody lot in!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Today is a day for someone else

This morning the odd thirty six thousand or so people decided to take on the London marathon - yes, it's definitely that time of year - Boston last weekend, Hamburg, London, Madrid all today, and then there's me next week.

I said I wouldn't spy on the runners I knew racing but then that's where all the fun is. Who cares if people are out trying to break world records? the joy is pressing F5 over and over again to see if the next split of someone you know has been recorded.

As my old club is all about marathons there were a couple of hundred of them running, many of who I knew and many, many more I didn't. Then there was theRoadRunner, who I'd been on a few training runs with, who was running as well. No one had finished (except the winners) by the time I ventured out on my long run. TheRoadRunner, who'd been hitting consistent 5ks in 20 minutes just recorded his first 19 minute 5k after around 30km. With everyone doing so well I went out, took on my own 15 miler in good spirits.

When I came back I had a message from RR telling me that he had kicked on after 20 miles and was flying past people at 6 minute pace for the last 6 miles - coming in in 2:47. A great run and by my reckoning he'd have passed almost 50 people in them last 6 miles. While RR posted a stunning negative split the wheels were coming off for my ex-club mates, all posting positive splits. All of them ran highly respectable times but I feel that if you hit half way in 1:15 then your target must be the 2:30 mark, so if there's going to be a twinge of regret if you hit a 1:20 second half. The 4 lads in the club that I knew from training ran 1:15/1:20, 1:18/1:26, 1:16/1:30 and 1:20/1:26. There's definitely a lesson to be learned there in pacing judgement.

One thing is for certain after today... I'm starting to get excited...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Best. Thing. Ever.

Portable Fricken Porridge! Genius. The worry of being able to get the right thing to eat on the morning of the marathon in Germany has now been removed from my mind. Add boiling water, leave stand for 2 minutes and you're done - no microwave needed. Genius!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

This time last time: 2 weeks to go

There's a bit of a variation for the first time in a while between what I did last time and what's on the agenda this time round. The reason for the difference between the training for the first two days would be down to the fact that last time I raced on the Saturday before, this time I raced on the Sunday before. Other than that the reason may be because my taper ain't really starting just yet.

Last time both Monday and Tuesday were 8 mile easy runs. On the Tuesday I injected some pace for one minute every mile, while the rest of the run was just your run of the mill handy jog. Wednesday was an easy 10 miler, followed by a drop to 5 miles on the Thursday. Friday's workout mirrored Tuesday's - a one minute pick up every mile. The long run for the week dropped to 14 miles. All in all I think it was a quite unremarkable week that doesn't need much more to be said on it.

Real time 2 weeks to go has had more of a recovery from the 10k race feel to the start of the week than any real taper. From today on it's back to a normal week of training - medium long run today, 10 tomorrow, speedwork Friday, with the long run dropping back from the dizzying heights of 20 miles to a normal 15 miles. This time out having a year of 55 mile weeks behind me compared to the last time when I didn't have near that kind of base in the legs is probably why there's no real taper starting just yet. This week is really just back to normal training for me.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Private Runs Armagh

The brother thought this picture was hilarious - All the women in the picture have their eyes on me... You can't really blame them though. I do have great legs!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Race Report #22 - The final build up race

"We have a great route planned, starting off in the City, making its way into the beautiful apple orchard countryside and returning back into the City to finish on The Mall in the centre of town. The course is primarily flat, so quick times can be achieved for those pace setters"

Having never been to Armagh before I took these words at face value. How they can say "primarily flat" is beyond me - unless of course they worked out that 5.1km of the course was flat and 4.9km was on rolling hills. If that's the case this course was primarily flat, but there was no chance of a quick time here.

To be honest it doesn't bother me so much. You're not always going to beat your previous times and I'm quite happy with my strength more than anything else. Come the end of the race I could have gone on and on and on like some sort of duracell bunny. As I looked around to shake hands with the lad I'd had a proper ding dong with for the last 5km I spotted him on all fours just over the finish line - on the other hand I'd already got my breath back and was bouncing on the balls of my feet. The time of 35.00 is nothing to write home about so I have to compare myself to the other lads around me and see how they got on. Thankfully there was a good number who'd raced in the half marathon in Larne a few weeks ago that I recognised. The winner of this race ran 32.40 - he came second in the half in 1:09. That right there shows how tough the course was yesterday because a 69 minute half marathoner should be getting under 32 minutes for 10km. I crossed the line with someone who ran 1 minute 20 faster than me in the last race and I finished about a minute ahead of another lad who beat me in Larne by 40 seconds. Going by all that rather than my time suggests I'm going in the right direction. Leaves me no closer to guaging what time I'm going for in the marathon but sure it'll be great craic finding out!

The race itself was run in absolutely perfect conditions. Blue sky, sun beating down, very gentle cool breeze - for the first time ever I actually wore shades for a race! I'd been chatting to a few lads beforehand and they said they'd heard there were a couple of hills at the start and then it turned off onto a flat course. After the first few hills I kept thinking we'd seen the last of them. No such luck. For the opening 3km I sat in behind the lad who beat me in Larne by 40 seconds (I thought he'd be a good marker to go with). We were just 10 metres or so off a group of three comprising of third, forth and fifth place. At 3km, when I could see no more hills, I kicked on and tried to catch the three ahead. While I dropped my Larne friend I couldn't catch the other three, leaving me out on my own somewhat, facing yet more hills. I wondered if I'd kicked on too soon because I was struggling out on my own after a couple of kilometres, but looking back it was the right move.

At about 5km I could hear someone behind me. Fearing it was the guy I dropped 2km back I dug in. I was definitely beginning to feel the pace at this stage and was struggling. He eventually came onto my shoulder and I realised it was someone else so I was somewhat relieved. I decided to drop in behind him for a bit and work off him. After a kilometre or so I was feeling quite comfortable again and kept pushing onto his shoulder to pick the pace up and dropping back. These few kilometres are the only ones that leave me wondering if I did enough. While I was out on my own I was concentrating on staying in touch with the three ahead and doing a good job of it I must add. Now that I'd company I focused on staying with company and I forgot about the other three. I think once the other lad joined me his pace deteriorated and I stuck with him allowing the group to get away from us. This is why I went from struggling out on my own to feeling nice and comfortable in the space of a couple of kilometres. In the end the group of three finished 45 seconds a head of me.

Coming to the end of the race, no matter how comfortable I was feeling I just didn't have it in me to kick on. Although talking to CR last night I said that I wished I'd had someone give me a kick up the arse to kick on rather than fearing that I couldn't. I think somwhere deep down in me there was the ability for a bit of kick, I just need to be a bit more confident in dealing with the pain. A summer of track sessions will bring that back out I'm sure. There was an injection of pace over the last 400 or so metres that I felt quite strong over and as I said, when I crossd that line I could've kept on going. Strong not fast is what this race gets filed under, seems to be where most of them go these days!

Friday, April 17, 2009

This time last time: 3 weeks to go

The schedule the week before a race always looks fairly similar in my training logs: Monday to Wednesday I train as normal. If the race is on a Saturday then Thursday and Friday are very easy. If it's on a Sunday then Thursday will be the same as a normal week, with the Friday very easy and Saturday off.

October 2007, 3 weeks before the Dublin marathon was no different. My schedule then, like this weekend, had my final warm up race, a 5 miler in the Phoenix Park on the Saturday. That week started with an easy 4 miles on the Monday. This was shorter than my standard Monday because my standard Mondays didn't follow a 19 mile Sunday run. Tuesday's workout was also fairly easy - 8 miles with 1 minute bursts at the end of every mile. Wednesday was an 8 miler, then two 4 mile runs on the Thursday and Friday before the race on Saturday.

The race is one I don't really recall too well. Cold and grey is what I remember about it, with a bit of a wind. I wasn't as familiar with the Phoenix Park routes as I am now from running around it day in day out for the past 6 months, so I'm struggling to remember how the route went. For the last couple of miles we definitely went up the S bends coming from the Chapelizod gate. That means that we'd have had to run up the Kyber, but I didn't think there were any hills of note on the route. That just goes to show that if I didn't register that as a hill, and I certainly would now, how hilly the races I used do in France were. I finished the race in 28m 48s either just outside or just inside the top 10. The week was rounded off with an easy 6 miles to recover on the Sunday.

Mileage for that week would have been circa 40 miles.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Last Race

The final long, long run is in the bag. From here on in it should be all fairly handy. Three weeks out, but I wouldn't really call this a three week taper. 8 x 2 minutes intervals last miles, followed by 14 miles easy this evening means that there's still a fair bit of running to be done in the next couple of weeks. After the 14 miler though there's a taper for this weekends race. By the time recovery from the race is completed it'll be about 10 days to go. In them ten days I'd guess there's another 15 miles, a 13 mile will be stuck on somewhere and if there's time, another 13 miles for good measure.

CR joked about hoping there'd be no storm this weekend. Too fricken right. After Ballycotton and Larne I'm sick to death of this wind lark. To think that the last 10k race, at the start of February, was the last race I ran in perfect conditions and that was run on 3 weeks training sans speedwork, just miles building weeks. The weather may be absolute crap out my window at the minute but come Sunday it'd be a bonus if it just wasn't something I had to think about.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

This time last time: 4 weeks to go

Wahey! I'm finally writing one of these reports on the right week - only just mind, tomorrow is "3 weeks to go". Even better news is that this is only going to take a minute, not because the week was easy, far from it. but simply because it went like clockwork. The 2007 schedule and 2009 schedule have a few things in common. Notably they were both the weeks where I ran my highest mileage ever, the long runs in each week were the longest of the build up to the marathon (I'm assuming that with 2009 - it's a good bet though) and the corresponding workouts were eerily similar.

The various sessions are below and pretty self explanatory. In other words I'm too tired to go into details, my coffees just brewed, there's a DVD in the player ready to watch and I plan on stopping thinking until tomorrow.

Last TimeThis Time
Monday8 mile easy
8 mile easy
Tuesday5 x 3 minutes w / 2min recovery6 x 3 minutes w / 2min recovery
Wednesday13 mile easy14 mile easy
ThursdayOFF10 mile easy
Friday14 x 1 minute w/ 90s recovery
16 x 1 minute w/ 60s recovery
Saturday5 mile easy
Sunday19 miles
20 miles
Total Miles
64 miles
69 miles

Friday, April 10, 2009

How do you sleep

What a perfect time for a long weekend. My body was really starting to get tired for this weeks training load and a bit of a lie in was in order. Last night I could feel myself dozing off on the couch fairly early so I headed to bed at 10.30pm. No alarms set. I rose after 9.30am this morning. 11 hours straight sleeping - I think my body was trying to tell me something. Thankfully no alarms will be set chez moi until Tuesday morning so I should be well rested coming into the final stretch.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I'm not afraid of you and I will beat your ass

It dawned on me the last day that at the moment, for the first time in an age, I'm absolutely loving my running. I can't remember the last time I've come in from a long run and thought "thank god that's over - I couldn't have lasted another minute". There's no worry about this Sunday's 20 miles - the first time I'll have covered that distance while not running in an actual marathon since... uhm... 3 years, maybe 4? Hell, I'm within 4 weeks of the marathon and I haven't really started thinking about the race itself - it's as if it's a formality to round off 12 weeks of training. To be honest I'm probably more nervous about next weeks 10k then I am about the marathon.

It's got to a stage where I'm so relaxed about it all that I don't really have a goal for the marathon. All I'm looking for out of it is to run well and I know that if I run well, as well as I'm capable of, I'll get the time I deserve. Obviously at the back of my mind I know there's a time I'd like to get - I believe I'm capable of running under 2:40 this time out. How far under 2:40 is a whole other question which I'll let the running gods decide on! At the end of the day if I finish the race with 2:41 but know that I gave it everything then I really won't care. For the first time I think I'm seeing the marathon as just another race. If it goes well - sweet. If it doesn't go well then what's actually changed? I'll have banked some solid miles in training that'll act as a solid base. Sure there'll be plenty of races over the summer and autumn. This marathon is not the be all and end all.

This is a feeling I'd love to bottle up for them low moments of running. Maybe it's just the changes in the clocks and getting to run in day light that's seen my attitude change. Although last summer I don't remember enjoying my running. In fact it was quite the opposite - Track racing didn't agree with me at all. It was my first time racing 3000m and 5000m and I hated it. Saying that, I'll be back in the summer for my revenge - That damn track owes me some times! There was that fleeting thought back then as to whether or not I could be arsed to continue putting in the training. Thankfully the first road race after the track saw me take a healthy chunk from my 10k time and them thoughts disappeared quick smart.

Whether it's the brighter evenings, the fact that I'm so happy with my training that weeks are flying by without me noticing, or a combination of both, I'm just glad to be enjoying this running lark more than I ever have. CR always says to me "Let me worry about the thinking, you just keep running" - never have I been happier to have someone else do the thinking for me.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

This time last time: 5 weeks to go

Hmmmmm. I still seem to be a week behind on this "that was then.." posting thing. Quite busy with a new site launching for work last week and then my weekend was taken over by taking pictures at races on both Saturday and Sunday. In reality I'm now sitting with 4 weeks to go rather than 5 as the title suggests.

Thankfully 5 weeks to go in 2007 seems to be a fairly standard training affair, so this shouldn't take long. No missed sessions because of being drunk, beaten up or sick; Everything went according to plan. All quite mundane to be honest! Continuing on from last week I had the Monday scheduled off because of a tired performance in the half marathon. CR's decision was 2 days completely off, start back as normal on the Tuesday. My two speedwork sessions that week were very similar. Tuesday 14 x 1 minute with 90s jog recovery and Friday 16 x 1 minute with 90s jog recovery. Throw in a 13 mile easy paced long run on Wednesday, another 10 miles on Thursday and my longest run in the build up to the marathon of 19 miles, and you have my week. The long run that week and the 16 x 1 minute were the real confidence boosting sessions. I'd never gone above 14 x 1 minute in a fartlek session, so 16 was a new milestone. I'm yet to go above 16 - some day it'll be 20. That's the goal.

Likewise last week, in Private's real world, I had a real confidence boosting session on Sunday morning. 18 miles around the park, early in the morning and I finished with a spring in my step. The last mile I even managed to pick the pace up somewhat. I wouldn't call the pace fast or marathon paced at the end, it was simply a strong, controlled effort. This week sees me bumping that up to 20 miles. Don't know if I'll be posting this time next week saying how great I felt at the end of it!

Last TimeThis Time
6 mile easy
Tuesday14 x 1 minute w/ 90s recovery
6 mile easy
Wednesday13 mile easy10 mile easy
Thursday10 mile easy10 mile easy
Friday16 x 1 minute w/ 90s recovery
16 x 1 minute w/ 60s recovery
Sunday19 miles
18 miles
Total Miles
61 miles
59 miles

Great Ireland Run 2009 Photos

Yesterday saw me running around the Phoenix Park, less than an hour after finishing my 18 mile long run around the same park, to get as many photos from the Great Irish Run as possible. Great to see the likes of Martin Fagan and Mary Cullen running in the flesh. Although I wasn't quick enough to catch them on the home straight after seeing them fly by me at 4km. All 400+ of my photos are up on, searchable by bib number. Other photographers still have photographs to upload so don't forget to check back.