Monday, November 23, 2009

Please Stay Off The Grass

"The next time you're to step foot on grass is at the race on Sunday"

I didn't have to be told this twice. 24 hours before hearing those words, while arranging my Sunday long run, I had included in a text that I'd rather steer clear of the grass and do the whole run on roads. The recent weather has made the grass fairly heavy these days and after two savage sessions this week my legs were feeling the affects on Saturday afternoon. On Tuesday I hit a tempo run - splashing and sliding around a flat(ish) route - and then Friday was the now regular hill session in the Phoenix Park.

Following the tempo run I could feel it in my legs the next day, but that paled in comparison to how I felt on Saturday after the hills. These are the exact hills that left me beat up after going over them a few times in the first cross country race of the year. A lap that Eamonn Coughlan recently described as a lap that lets the runner know what it's like to hurt in the gut. Now I'm running up and down them about 10 times a week. Finishing up as I changed back into my flats for a jog around the park the realisation hit me that as I'd be racing the following week it'd mean no hills for two weeks. Instant spring in my step. Hell, I'm racing back to back races over the next two weeks, and then the week after I'm off on holiday. I mightn't see this training session until Christmas... or the New Year! I swear, I could have skipped the whole way home.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Why do we do it?

Sitting in Burger King at 3am on Sunday morning, the long run should have been the furthest thing from my mind. Even after 9 pints of Guinness it must have been nagging away at me because I ordered a bottle of water to go with the Whooper Meal. The healthy option!

The morning of a hangover is not the morning you want to have 15 miles marked down. After 6 hours of drunken sleep I had to spend the first 10 minutes of the morning with a heart rate circa 160bpm as the alarm clock managed to freak me out no end. Then after breakfast it was 2 hours of drifting in and out of consciousness on the couch, while really wishing that bowl of porridge was replaced with something that little bit greasier. To make this morning complete add in the jealousy as my hungover sibling is getting out of bed while I'm doing my stretches. I know that for the two hours while I'll be out running around like an eejit, he'll be sitting in front of the TV, and the most he'll have to exert himself is going as far as the kitchen to cook a fry. One thing that was missing from all this was the headache. However, within 10 footfalls outside it reared it's unwelcome head.

The longest 15 miles I've had to do in a long time followed. Not something I want to repeat anytime soon. Saying that, I am well aware that it's only a matter of weeks until Christmas party drinks are going to start... God help me...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Gloves last worn on Monday? Wet.
Monday's Hat? Wet.
Tuesday's Hat? Wet.
Runners from Monday? Wet.
Tuesday's? Wet.
Outside? Wet. Cold. Dark.

*grumble grumble* stupid weather *grumble* dark days *grumble* deer *grumble*

Monday, November 2, 2009

Race Report #32: Stuck in the mud

Have I ever had two posts in a row that have been race reports? I seriously doubt it, especially considering this was the first time I'd ever run two races in the space of a week. Cross country is a tough one to decide if you had a good race or not - time is out the window, hills, mud and wind combine to break up your natural rhythm and you just feel like you're plodding around. So everything is based on position related to others of the same standard. But what if they had a shit race? Does that mean I had a good one? Give me a road and a time to beat any day.

Yesterday's start line was nose bleed territory. Toeing the line in the Dublin Seniors, alongside guys who want to see their names in the squad for the Euro XC Championships next month was not where I belonged. Probably only 70 people started the race and all of them could move. Only one thing for it - a la last week, start at the back and start moving through the field. 6 laps, 10km, rain soaked turf and blustery wind... there were many, many other places I wanted to be.

As the first lap went around I tried to find that happy medium of working but not killing it. When we were only 3/4 of the way through the first lap I was thinking there was no hope I could keep going for 6 laps. I remembered the slog the final 4km of the 6km race was only three weeks ago. What the hell would happen if I was spent after 2km this week and still had 8km left? Then from nowhere I got passed by a runner I recognised from that race. That time he flew by me like I was standing still. This time he went by and I knew I had to stick with him - his plan had obviously been to start from the back and work through, like mine. All thoughts besides "stick with him" were out the window. Over the next two laps I couldn't tell you how many people we went by as I just stuck to his side and followed every surge he made.

Eventually he dropped me and I plugged on on my own. I felt sluggish at half way and again evil thoughts crept in. I've never run this far in cross country before... The last two races I've been shagged after 6km... Only half way... Then the second wind kicked in. Besides the sections of the course into the wind the rest of the forth and fifth lap felt effortless. As hard as I tried to close the gap on the guys a head of me I couldn't up the pace at all. This was all the pace I had and I had to stick with it. The last lap was fairly uneventful, the spectators had all made their way to the finish for the climax of the race (you know the part with the top guys, not this guy), and it was all a bit quiet out there. I spent the lap trying to fend off the attentions of the lad right behind me and I'm pleased to say that for the third race running I was successful in this endeavour...

The scariest thing was that crossing the line I felt like I could have gone another lap at the same pace. All the mid race fears of blowing up, not making the distance were for nothing. My endurance is top notch at the minute. Time to add some speed, and possibly some mental strength (where does one get that?) to the training...