Saturday, March 27, 2010

Photo on Running #4 - Cross Country 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

I went for the T-Shirt...

... and left with some photos!

Not being one to waste my €5 flight to Cork or lose my deposit on a hotel room I made the trip to Cork on Saturday evening, got suitably hammered in Cork on Saturday evening and was then the only hungover person on the bus to Ballycotton on Sunday morning.

Getting ready to rock at the start...

The locals getting ready to offer their support.

Lead men through 400m

Followed by a few others!

First home...

First lady - left! (who you can see from above didn't even start in the elite pen)

The last kick for the finish.

A certain blogger making sure his watch agrees that there is 400m to go...

Happy to be finishing.

More photos from the Ballycotton '10' 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

L'esprit de l'escalier

For the past few weeks I'd been saying that I thought I had just done that one race too many at the end of the cross country season and that I'd a feeling that I'd take part in my goal race of the spring, the Ballycotton 10, with tired legs. Well I was wrong, I won't be racing with tired legs on Sunday, I quite simply won't be racing.

After my second last XC race it took the full two weeks to the next race for my legs to lose the stiffness from the race. Then it was straight back to my legs being stiff, taking two days off and hoping I could get sharp in time for Ballycotton two weeks later. Deep down I knew I was doing too much but I also kept reminding myself that after Ballycotton it was time for a break. In an ideal world I'd have stopped racing after the second last race, taken a break then for week or 10 days and then started into training for an assault at Ballycotton. Hindsight's a great thing though.

This week I've been doing easy runs, progressively shorter, while every evening my leg was getting sorer and sorer. Yesterday I was scheduled to do a sharpening up session before the race but I knew at mid day that there was no way that I could go out and say that there was no risk in seriously damaging something. So for the first time in an age I missed a scheduled workout. With that I threw in the towel on any hope of lining up this weekend.

I'm fairly gutted as I'd got a few good results in the cross country, taking some scalps on the way, and I thought I was in a good position to take a chunk off last year's 10 mile PB. What now? Now I take a break. I look after the leg and I get it back to normal. The break could be a week, it could be two, it all depends on how I recover. I'm not too worried about taking time off. It's needed, especially if I want to have a strong road running spring.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Race Report #39: Thank Fuck That's Over For Another Year

How fitting that six months after the start of my first full cross country season I should return to the same venue for the last race of the season. Back in October, under blue skies and a bone dry course, I had a nightmare day taking on a 6 x 1km lap in the Phoenix Park. The one difference between this race and October was that the course lap was 2km this time rather than 1km, but we still had to do it six times...

You'd think that after three cross country races that I'd performed well in in a row that I'd got things together, maybe knew my body somewhat and wouldn't do anything stupid or different. The plan was the exact same as the last few races: Relax into the first half a lap before really starting to work. There'd still be 7 miles to race after half a lap was covered, plenty of time to work through the field. Why then, 400 metres into the race, did I spot one of the lads I occasionally train with, who can run 68 minutes for the half, just a couple of metres in front of me? You'd think this would be the sign to ease off the pace and take a back seat for a bit. While I didn't try to stick with that group I didn't ease off considerably and instead just tried to essentially work from the gun.

In the past few races I've gone from lowly positions in the race to higher ones by passing anywhere between 10 and 30 people after the first lap. This time I don't think I went by a single person after the first lap ended and instead I was losing one or two places a lap after half way. At the end of the second lap I was convinced I was coming up on half way, seeing 4 laps to go didn't help my mindset at all. I started to have thoughts of dropping out. If I felt this bad at 4km, how was I meant to keep going until 12km? The first 3 laps were probably the worst I've felt in a race in a long time. Once we got into the last few laps I felt like I was at least moving, which was something. Granted a few people were getting by me but I tried to stick with everyone of them. Some got away from me, but others I succeeded in staying with and never let them by.

The nicest part of the whole race was taking a glance behind as I turned the last corner... there was no one within 15 or 20 metres of me. All I had to do was work hard for the last 600m and there would be no chance of anyone catching me and no need for a blasted sprint finish!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Once more with feeling

The things some people will do to make it to the start line of a race...
  • use a foam roller every evening
  • jog ridiculously easy
  • essentially live in skins recovery tights
  • take three baths with salts like some sort of girlie girl
  • visit the magic physio to untie the knots

Monday, March 1, 2010

One Last Big Effort

This time last year I turned up at Santry to watch the National Senior Championships take place. A tiny field of about 80 took part and the standard was unbelievable. Keith Kelly stormed to victory, defeating Clonliffe's Mark Kenneally on his home patch, with most of the crowd there surprisingly behind Kelly. I swore that day that there was no way I would take part in that race any time soon - it was just a cut or two (maybe three) above my level.

A year has passed since that day and I'm now a mere seven days out from running in the damn race. What has changed since then? Absolutely nothing, zero, rien, nada, zilch, sweet fa. This Sunday the last place I want to be is on that start line. Four of the Irish team that took part in the European Cross Country will more than likely be there, including the aforementioned Mark Kenneally who finished 7th that day. Sean Connelly, the Dublin Senior Champion, Mark Christie (14.01 5km a few days ago), Olympian Thomas Chamney, Inter County Champion Andrew Ledwidth, Northern Ireland champion Garry Murray and every other top runner from about the country will be toeing the line. You can see why this guy doesn't belong there. Unfortunately that seems to be the logic around the country and probably one of the reasons why the race gets a ridiculously low turnout.

I've no idea what I could realistically aim at for this race. Looking through last years results there's no one in the top 50 that I've finished ahead of before. Do I aim for a top 50? Top half? Try not to get lapped? I wish I could just watch the real race unfold from the sidelines like last year...