Thursday, July 30, 2009

Will you carry me when my legs are gone?

I swear I saw some tumbleweed blow by as I ventured in here today...

The roller coaster that has been my training over the past few weeks seems to have come to an end. What's this then "the return of the comeback part ten"?! Work, life and just the simple fact that I wasn't enjoying my running kept me away from wanting to talk about running. Hell, I was even ducking and diving to avoid CR so I wouldn't have to talk about my training. I still got out there most days and got a bit done, although as I mentioned before, no day felt easy, everything was a slog and it just started to wear me down.

The last ten days or so have seen me back to my old self again. I'm beginning to feel like a runner again. Easy runs have been easy, I cruised through last Sunday's long run at a decent clip, and Tuesday's workout of 8 x 1km felt so easy for the first six that I managed to hit the last two at around 5:06 min/mile pace. One last track race remains before I make my first venture onto the road since the marathon at the start of May. The track races may not have been going to plan this far but all the work over the last few months has been banked and will be withdrawn at future races.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Race Report #26: Still searching for that extra gear

*It was just pointed out to me that I've been gone for a while - I just had a quick glance and spotted that my last two posts (this being one of them) had been saved as drafts and not posted - apologies *

For the past few days my right calf has been in ribbons (or knots) following the 400s on Friday in spikes and a Sunday long run at a decent clip. I'd been stretching it a few times a day but the tight feeling remained while I was walking around. I said to myself before the race that if I ran well with my calf like this it'd mean I could run better still, and if I ran shite then I could just blame the calf. Win win! In the end I didn't feel the calf once I got going so that excuse has to be thrown - I have a list of other excuses though...

I got out to Santry early enough to take in a few of the Development races and the Morton mile. I grabbed a some photos of the meet from my seat before heading off on my warm up. Due to the fact that there was an endless list of 800m races going on the timetable got pushed back which meant my already late race of 9.20pm was going to be run later still, nearer to 9.40pm. I was going to be fit for my bed by the end of it.

The race started and I went through 200m in about 38 seconds - kind of where I wanted to be. As we approached 400m 79 seconds was called out. How the hell did the second 200m take 41 seconds? I decided to try up the pace but the next lap came out at around 80 again. During the next laps I kept looking for that extra surge but there was nothing there - these 80 second laps were easy but I couldn't go faster. That's how the race continued, 80 second lap after 80 second lap. For the first time ever I had the gas for a "sprint" to the line and I ran through the line rather than the usual slowing up a couple of metres short.

The late race meant there was no time for a warm down or even stretching. I just got changed and headed for the bus to arrive home chez moi at 11.15pm. I had a quick chat with CR about the whole thing - I seriously reckon I could have held that pace for another 5 laps if it had been a 5km race. Then I'd be looking at a tidy 5k time of 16.40 and I'd be thinking everything was getting back to normal. But alas this was a 3000m and not a 5000m race and the time is not reflecting what I'm getting done in training. I've three weeks before the next track race and I'm certain of one thing - I will get my time in that race.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Where's my mojo?

I'm not enjoying my running these days. There, I've said it. It's pissing me off. Easy runs no longer feel easy. Gone are the days of spring when I'd stroll back into the apartment after a run looking like I hadn't even stepped out the door. Instead I'm now coming in dripping sweat and heavy legged regardless of if I've run four miles or fifteen. How I wish that feeling in the weeks leading up to the marathon was back, the feeling that I was simply gliding along. Add in the two slowest 3000m races I've ever raced and you can sort of see why it's bugging me.

Maybe summer, or July specifically, isn't for me. Last year in July I ran 36:40 for a 10k race in London, over a minute slower than I raced in the spring. That race was the deciding factor in not running the Dublin marathon. Less than 6 weeks later I ran a 1 minute 20 seconds 10k PB of 34:20. Likewise the summer before that, also in July, I ran 40:20 for 10km before racing a 6.6 km race in 22:10 (5:24 minute mile pace), about 7 weeks later. The way I've to look at this now is that even if it's all going shit at the minute history tells me that it can all turn around very quickly.

Saying all that, I did have a great session today. But as they say one swallow doesn't make a summer. When chatting with CR after Tuesday's workout he told me that I'd run today's 400s less than 70s a rep. The workout was a 3 mile warm up, followed by 10 x 400m, and a 2 mile warm down. What I learnt is that CR knows my body better than me! Two weeks back I only managed 9 reps. I trudged off the track after the times had stretched from 72s to 74s and I knew that the next one would be over 75 seconds. Then I had no idea how I was running 67 seconds for these sessions last year. Where was I getting 5 seconds a lap from? This time, as CR said, I hit the first one in 69 seconds, BANG the second in 68, BANG another 69. The recovery was long between each one, circa 75 seconds and got longer as the workout went on, with the last one getting a 90 seconds rest. Bit by bit the speed is coming back into my legs. Now just to transfer it to a race.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Comeback #2

After last week's race made it two in a row that didn't go to plan CR decided there were two choices: push it harder in training or take a few days off. A few days off was the chosen option, which meant I got to head to Killarney with my mates sans running gear. Unbelievable how light you can travel when you don't need runners, shorts, vests or extra socks to come with you. I debated whether or not to drink but the sober approach got hit on the head the minute we walked into the first bar - I moved the goal posts to "no drinking during the day" after that. The mates all took on the Ring of Kerry cycling lark on Saturday while I sat around reading books and drinking coffee before practicing some photography - I like to think I'm getting less shite at it. When they got back we engaged in eating, drinking and dancing.

Come Monday and my latest comeback started with an easy 7 mile jog around the Phoenix Park. My right calf was a bit tight after all the dancing on Saturday night. Typical, I rest up on the running but manage to tire myself out dancing. Tuesday's hard effort was exactly that. I jumped in on a session with a lad who's starting his Berlin marathon training and was doing tempo run around a 2km circuit - approximately 14km. Now I wasn't doing that, no chance, that'd have me in a body bag. I jumped in on a little over a kilometre of each lap and then cut across to the beginning where I'd meet him for the start of his next lap. After the third one it was decided that I was getting too long a recovery so I had to run a bit further and join up before the starting point - this time I got shag all recovery and started to feel it on the forth. All in all I did 6 reps with him which was more than enough for this guy at the moment.

The rest of the week involves a few days of easy running, a track session (10 x 400m faster than I've run this year) and the long run. Fingers crossed that if all things go to plan I'll be buzzing come next Wednesday's 3000m.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Race Report #25: How the hell am I going backwards?!

It was a perfect evening for racing in Irishtown yesterday, not too warm with a slight breeze. I arrived early enough to the track so I got to flake out on the grass and watch some of the earlier races before heading off on my warm up. I have to say on the warm up I felt very good - relaxed with a bit of zip in the legs. With 10 minutes to kick off I changed into my spikes, did a few strides before going back to my flaked out position on the grass.

The race itself went out just as I hoped. I tucked in right behind the leader within the first 50 metres. During the opening laps I felt so comfortable, it didn't feel like I was racing - 75 seconds for the first two laps - just what I wanted to see. Even on the third lap it felt easy, my breathing was a little laboured but I could sense that while the leader was still running strong the guy on my shoulder was struggling.

Unfortunately it turned out that it was a race of two halves. The second saw the wheels come off completely - while I knew I was struggling out there I didn't realise how badly until I heard my time at the end. I came off the track tired but happy that I was at least moving in the right direction. Then on my warm down I heard my time - 2 seconds slower than 10 days ago. How did that happen? I was convinced it was faster. I ended up 30 seconds off the winner and considering I was right behind him for the first half it really sums up how badly the second half went. He didn't run any faster at the end, he was just able to hold the pace better than I could.

Surprisingly I'm taking more positives out of this than the last time. Next time out I know I'll hold that pace for a lap or two longer and hopefully when it really starts to hurt I can go with it. If not I will the time after that. There's only a few of these track races left and one things for certain, I'm going to get a PB from at least one of them.