Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Calling All Cork City Marathon Supporters!!!

This Monday, 1st June, is the running of the Cork City Marathon. I'd love to head down to it for the day (it's a bank holiday so there's a good reason for heading down) but alas I've a holiday booked for that week. Sun and beach wins out over sun in Cork (the June bank holiday weekend is always sunny, an unwritten rule). Anyone who is out at the sidelines in Cork on Monday I ask a favour of you... get your camera out and take some pictures.

Just before the Dublin Marathon in October I launched a race photo search engine - The idea of the site is that it will be a one stop site for people who raced in various races around Ireland to find photos of themselves. For the photographer it increases the likelihood that the photo you've taken will arrive in the hands of the person who will value it the most. Since it's launch RacePix365 has featured over 40 races around Ireland and 10,000 pictures. These races have predominately been in the Dublin area, but in recent months a few photographers have uploaded pictures from races in Northern Ireland, Kildare and most recently the John Treacy Classic 10 miler in Waterford.

More than likely after the marathon on Monday people will be uploading their photos to various photo galleries that are out there. After Dublin I remember seeing links to upwards of 20 different galleries on the web. To find all these galleries and then go through each photo one by one to find that elusive picture of yourself is an arduous task. RacePix365 does the hard work for you and will allow you to view all these galleries from one spot. Nicer still it will allow them to be searched by bib numbers making the chances of finding them pictures of you all the easier.

So, if you're out and about watching on Monday, take your camera, grab a few shots and upload them to the web. Rope friends and family into it if you can't take any yourself! Don't worry about your capabilities as a photographer - all photos are welcome onto the site. The "how it works" section on the site explains what to do with your photos once you've uploaded them. Please drop me a line as well to let me know if you have pictures so that I can give credit to everyone that took some pictures on the day.

Last and by no means least, best of luck to all those that are taking part on the day!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Pubs and running don't mix

Running marathons is far easier than training runs like yesterday afternoon...

After getting a little carried away with celebrating Leinster's Heineken Cup victory on Saturday, my head and stomach were in tatters when I woke up. I'd remembered tip toeing around the apartment when I got in so as not to wake my brother and his girlfriend. Talking to him the next morning it turns out I wasn't that quiet. Evidently while I may have trying to stay quiet walking around I was singing along to my mp3 player at the top of my voice!

Once I got some food on board (something that was neglected from my pub diet on Saturday), took some pain killers for my head, and vegged in front of the TV for a while, I embarked on the run. As I was a bit ropey I set no target when heading out besides "try to run". No watch, no target, no route planned, just pure running freedom. It was by far and away the nicest day of the year so far which meant the park was jammed with people sun bathing, bbq-ing, playing football, frisbee, and flying kites. Besides my head and stomach being as they were it was the best day for running ever. A great vibe in the air and with no goal in mind I was able to run where I pleased. No pace worries meant I could just enjoy every minute of it (well apart from the first few miles which were just awful!). The pain killers didn't do too much for the stomach but targeted the headache and rib quite well. For the first time in weeks there was no rib pain when running around - I was aware of it the whole time but the feeling of running every step with a stitch like pain was no where to be found - thank you pain killers. Granted I've no plans of taking them again but it's good to know that if I need to do some speed sessions in the coming weeks they may help somewhat.

Next week is holiday time - there won't be a step of running in that week. Ideally by the time I get back I'll be almost fully healed and ready to go. It'll have been over 4 weeks by that stage and from what I've been told it should take 4-6 weeks for the bone to mend if you don't do anything stupid like... I don't know, run?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Two steps forward, one step backwards

Today, for the first time since the marathon, I felt like a runner again. OK, apart from the pain coming from my ribs that is. But the rib pain disappeared back to where it came within an hour of finishing. My legs felt refreshed which is the main thing.

At the moment to prevent my legs from forgetting how to run I'm pretty much going out every second or third day for a few easy miles on the grass. The days inbetween are complete rest days - no cross training, nothing. Running on the road is a no go with the rib. I tried it on Sunday and I wasn't thanked for trying it. The grass is throwing up its own problems mind. It just hasn't stopped raining which has made running on grass/mud a tough slog. A tough slog was not on my apres marathon agenda.

The rib. It's been two weeks now since the stumble. Early last week was quite painful and I had to will myself away from the pain killers. Most movements were quite sore then, while once I sat still I was grand. Now I only really feel it if I move suddenly, unfortunately when I run (but this is a dull pain, rather than the sharp pain I get on a sudden move), and getting into and out of bed. Running probably isn't the smartest thing to be doing with it. If it was a fractured foot I'd obviously stay off it completely, but it's a rib... who uses a rib for running? It's non-weight bearing! The way I'm looking at it is that I'm probably slowing full recovery down doing this but I'm not going backwards. The real pain of last week is no longer there, it's obviously getting better, so I'm not doing any real damage. If at any stage I feel things are getting worse I will obviously stop immediately. Hell, on Monday I stopped my run after 20 minutes because I wasn't feeling comfortable - legs or rib - and didn't run until today (Thursday). I do listen to my body... sometimes!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Can't really say I wish I was out running...

Factor in some 20+ mph winds and I'm kind of glad I'm banged up!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The curse of the marathon strikes again

Last week I was delighted - not just with the marathon time but with the fact that my legs got through the marathon with no ill effects. After 4 days they were getting back to normal and I was convinced I'd be back to my usual training routine within 2 weeks. Happy days... then my curse took over, or stupidity.

Marathon 1:
Injury - Pulled groin
Cause - It happened during the marathon. I probably took the problem into the marathon but I was a complete running novice so didn't know any better - how to stretch properly, etc
Duration - A few weeks of no running took place afterwards.

Marathon 2:
Injury - technical term is banjaxed my ankle ligaments
Cause - Again being a running novice and not knowing when to stop. Eventually my ligaments gave up on me on a warm up run and I couldn't run more than 2 steps.
Duration - I had a nice limp for a few months. All in all it was 5 months before I was running again.

Marathon 3:
Injury - I strained the posterior knee ligaments
Cause - The injury happened during a game of football for the local pub team. I was in goal, made a save (a great save I must add) and my knee seemed not to go the same direction as my body. The initial cause of this was probably from diving around a bar on a drunken night out - don't ask!
Duration - I had a full leg brace for about 2 weeks and it was about a month or two before I was running consistently again

Marathon 4:
Injury - Quad strain
Cause - My quad remained very weak for about 2 years after the last injury. It used to just give up at times, and did so during the marathon.
Duration - Not too long. I just had to start into a strengthening program

Marathon 5:
Injury - Strained Glut
Cause - The marathon itself
Duration - This didn't really keep me off running for too long, no longer than the after marathon rest. It did, however, take about 3 months before I could comfortably cover a run of any distance without feeling a twinge

Marathon 6:
Injury - Fractured rib
Cause - Being a prat
Duration - Not too sure really. I've found out that taking pain killers slows the recovery time. Diagnosing by google, it's going to put doctors out of business soon! Pain killers prevent the body from absorbing Vitamin D efficiently which is needed to absorb calcium. Hopefully by not taking them and dealing with a bit of extra pain gets me back running normally sooner.

I'm not going to dwell on this. I try to stay clear from injury talk as much as possible - there's generally always a twinge here or a twinge there with everyone. You can't put your body through this much running without a few niggles. My physio deals with that talk, no need to put everyone else through it as well!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Why Private shouldn't drink....

Or why you should unpack your bags rather than leaving them strewn across the bedroom floor for 5 days after a holiday.

Quite simply... Bruised or fractured ribs... but definitely painful!

Great feckin' eejit!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Race Report #23 - The mother of all reports!!

The day didn’t start perfect. The legs were great, probably the best they’d felt in months, the blue sky and 20C temperatures of Saturday were replaced with clouds and cool temperatures, but the 4 hours sleep the night before had me like a zombie at the breakfast table. While initially nerves for the day may have had me anxious and possibly affected my sleep, the real problem was the heat in the room. On the Friday night I’d also struggled to get to sleep there, but luckily on the Saturday morning I didn’t have to wake at 6.30 so got a few extra hours sleep in then. Once I woke on Saturday at 8.30 though that was me up for the day.

At the finish area, before the race, as I was stripping off and getting ready to head down to the start, instead of feeling excited that the day was finally here, nervous or anxious about the race itself, I felt nothing. There was no buzz in me – the day just didn’t feel right. I strolled down to the starting area and checked out where the red zone was - my starting zone. There was some uni-cycle race starting 15 minutes before our race so there was no early queuing going on. I went into a small park beside the start and jogged lightly for a few minutes until around 10 minutes to go.

In the red zone with only a few minutes to kick off I was surprised at how few people there were – 50 maybe 60 of us at the very back of the zone while the elites were being introduced to the crowd. Still no nerves. 1 minute to the start. Everyone moving up. This should be the time… Heart should start racing any second, but still nothing. This wasn’t me being ultra relaxed and confident that everything was going right – quite the opposite. The tiredness seemed to have shut all thoughts from my brain. Positive and negative feelings gone, I was now in “do not care” mode. The very last thing I’d expect to be feeling in the final seconds before a marathon. The countdown started, I realised I don’t know any numbers in German, did they start at 5? 10? What number is it now? BANG! Run

Before the race the low end race pace in my mind was around 19:00 per 5km. I started out conservatively, flat roads, no wind, a nice easy pace….
Kilometre one – 4:00 too slow… I picked off a few runners and moved up the places a bit
Kilometre two – 8:01 Son of a… I picked out someone in the distance and decided to try and catch them by kilometre three. This had to be done very gradually because there’s no point upping the pace ridiculously too early in the race.
Kilometre three – 11:53 Getting there… I hadn’t caught him at this stage but he was close. Before 4km I’d caught up with him but still felt I was going too easy and went past him bringing a couple of others with me.
Kilometre four - No need to watch check because I was happy with the pace.
Kilometre five – 19:33 A bit off the low end target pace but moving along comfortably and I’d a small guy beside me for company. I threw my watch in bushes and got a puzzled German question from the puzzled small German runner. I manage to confuse the small German runner more so by answering him in French!

While throwing the watch away was never part of the pre-race plan, stopping it was. I’d decided that once I got to 5km I’d know what my pace was and nothing that the watch could say would make me run faster or slower. On the morning when I woke up the strap on my watch had broken. It had served me well, a trusty Casio from Argos which I’d bought 7 years ago for about a tenner, but this was to be its last day. The running Gods clearly didn’t want me even checking my 5km time.

Myself and the puzzled German continued on at this pace. Nothing exceptional happened for the next while. I’d tuck in behind him when it got a bit breezy and then come out onto his shoulder every now and again. The roads were flat, very flat, until just before 10k when there was a gradual climb onto a bridge – this was the biggest hill we’d to deal with – I think we dealt with something like it three times over the course of the race and I feel embarrassed even referring to it as a hill. All it was was a couple of hundred metres with a very gradual incline. We passed the 10km point on the bridge – 38:51 – a good bit outside my hoped for pace but it was early days yet and I wasn’t a bit bothered.

Into the second 10km and our two became three. A new runner equipped with headphones, playing fairly loud music, joined us. We were going at quite a nice pace. For the most part I stayed on the shoulders of the other two, but from time to time took a step back and tucked in behind them for a free ride. The nearest runner ahead of us was probably 200m or 300m in front and we weren’t closing that gap any time soon. At 14km we passed by one of the Elite females, with her 3 pace makers, who had pulled up. Every time she started to jog the three pacemakers broke into a jog beside her and then started walking when she’d stop. Quite a bizarre sight…

Come the 16km mark and I was to the front of our group and thought that I was maybe going too fast (stupid conservative Private!). My initial thought was to keep going until the 20km mark and gauge my time from there. Then I copped myself on and remembered that if I was going too fast to slow immediately rather than after a further 2 miles. I took my foot off the gas and just jumped in behind the other two again. Somewhere between 19 and 20 kilometres Headphones decided to up the pace and left myself and Puzzled behind. I’d have liked to have gone with Headphones but his pace seemed to accelerate that bit too quickly to go with. Up and down the bridge again, this time coming the other way, completed the second 10km in 38:09 bringing the time to 1:17:00. Half way across the bridge there was an announcer telling the crowd who was passing. “*Random German words* Private from Dublin, representing Ireland”. Yep, that’s right, representing Ireland! Heheh!

No clock at the half way point (well there was but it had the wrong time on it) so I wasn’t too sure what splits were at the time, not that it mattered really. I’ve since learned that it was 1:21:19. We just kept clipping away for the next while. I’d said to myself that I’d up the pace with around 9 miles to go if I was feeling good. Even though with every mile I was feeling stronger I sat off upping the pace. Eventually after kilometre 28 we caught up the guy in front and from there there was no looking back – I went for home. After all my sitting easy, scared to up the pace a little, ultra conservativeness for the first 17 or so miles, this was kind of stupid! My do or die move… why I didn’t just use the approach I used for the first five kilometres is beyond me now. Pick the next person, give yourself a few kilometres and catch them, rather than the headless chicken run, run, run approach.

I felt great though so more than likely I’d do the exact same thing again. I didn’t go flat out, I went at a pace I realistically thought could get me to the finish at that time. The 30km mark came and went in 1:55:14 (38:14 for that 10km split). By mile 20 I was flying, there would be no stopping me, my breathing was comfortable and I felt strong. This is the problem with a sparsely populated field though, every time I caught someone it was because they were going backwards, meaning I couldn’t just sit in behind them and work off them for a bit. I’d catch and pass people, and then be gone metres a head within seconds. But each time I passed someone there was probably a distance of about 200m to 400m to the next person – a fairly large gap. For the final 9 miles it was all solo running and for good measure, the wind that had been barely existent for most of the race, started to pick up and naturally was a head wind!

With just under 5km to go I felt myself slowing for the first time. I’d got a good 5 or so miles out of upping my pace. I refused to let myself believe that I was out of energy, telling myself that there was plenty more there – I just had to dig deep. I started to think thoughts to make me stronger, sing songs in my head, anything to keep going. I was still keeping a good pace and nowhere was hurting – energy was just getting a tad low. Right as I crossed the 40km mark I thought I was gone. It just came ever so suddenly, the feeling that I had no energy at all left. The feeling came and went over the space of 10 seconds – I slowed down a bit and thought I’d have to jog it home. The two lads ahead of me looked like they were struggling. I upped it a bit and caught one of them. I had to remind myself that what was left was only a mile, just like the lap of Trinity College at the end of the Dublin marathon… that was nothing. The next person in front of me was Headphones, I gave it what I had left and passed him just before 42km. The final home stretch was easy, down a little hill, straight along the river, long, comfortable strides and I was done. Why had that last 5k been so hard when the final 195 metres was so easy?!

The strange thing about my weak final 5k is that no one went by me. Looking at the results I’d have gone by 11 people from the moment I took off at 28km. Not one of them stuck with me and not one of them managed to capitalise on me when I started to slow down. Puzzled told me afterwards that I went way into the distance ahead of him, but during them last 5km he closed me right back down, finishing about 10 seconds behind me. It’s mad to think that if I’d stayed at the same pace as him, which I found easy going, for the last 9 miles I’d have finished in an almost identical time! My final position of 23rd will more than likely remain my highest ever marathon finishing position for many years to come.

I’ll take my result on the day. Can I go faster? Too right I can – there’s a high 2:3x in there somewhere, I just have to bring it out. The next question is When? At the moment I have no idea. My club will be super pissed off if I do the Dublin marathon and miss out on a load of Cross Country races in the autumn. For the moment it’s marathoning to the back of the mind for a while, take a breather for a week, slowly start back to regular running again and get some track races in during June and July. After the track is finished I’ll start to think what the next step is then.

0-10km – 38m 51s (6:15 avg pace)
10-20km – 38m 09s (6:08 avg pace)
20-30km – 38m 14s (6:09 avg pace)
30-40km – 38m 59s (6:16 avg pace)
40km – 42.195 – 8m 36s (6:18 avg pace)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dusseldorf - In Pictures

A quick thanks to everyone for the comments pre and post marathon. They're much appreciated. Day 3 and the legs are beginning to feel like normal again. Fingers crossed that this will be the first marathon that doesn't result in an injury within weeks of finishing. The race report is far longer than I thought it would be - it appears I can talk plenty of crap when I want to. I'll have it finished sometime soon....

It's mad to think when you see this picture that I came 23rd!!

20 miles gone and still smiling

100m to go and no longer smiling!

uhm... how first aid treated a blister... no bursting, just a fuck off bandage that prevented me from being able to wear a shoe home!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Coming soon to a bar in Dusseldorf...


I'll keep this short and sweet. Full update to come when I'm back home. I finished in 2:42, a four minute PB. Overall I'm delighted with how the race went. I may have kicked for home too early and saw a 2:40/41 disappear but I went with what I felt was right at the time. If I'd kicked later I may well have finished fresher but in the same time! The half splits are 1:21/1:21 I think - there was no clock at half way so I haven't seen that split yet.

The one thing that went against me was sleep. I just couldn't get to sleep in the hotel room. 6 hours on Friday night and 4 last night, even though I was knackered both nights, wasn't the best preparation. In the end last night, at 2am, I stripped the duvet and tried sleeping with just the sheets. That didn't work. I went for the duvet sans sheets and immediately knew I would sleep then... and I did, fairly lively.

Enough of that gloom part - I've already had 3 pints and a burger and chips and there shall be many, many more in the coming hours.

Friday, May 1, 2009


"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go."
T.S. Eliot

Just back in from the last run before the big one. The next time I lace up these runners it'll be in advance of 26.2 miles. Nice. Bags are packed, information for everything I could think of has been printed and it's almost time to go.

Surprisingly the nerves haven't really hit yet but I'm sure tomorrow when I'm at the expo and moaning about wasting energy by walking it'll kick in! It's quite nice that my biggest dilemma at the moment is what to listen to on my mp3 player on the morning of the race...

The plan for the race is quite simple. As CR said to me on Tuesday evening. "It's no different to any other race. Vest, shorts, shoes, pin on a few gels, take a slug of water and run". When it's put like that you can't help but relax about the whole thing.

It's been a nice ride getting here - now just to finish it off.