Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Yearly Review

No running today - rest day.

I threw a few darts and managed to chalk up my 180th 180 of the year. MVG probably hits that many in one practice session:



The 2012 year in review is to follow. Here is a quick summary of my races:



In summary I'd have to say 2012 has been a bit of a disappointing year. Despite putting in my biggest annual training volume (4,649kms), I didn't nail the big 2 races of the year - the London Marathon back in April and the National Half Marathon in August. The longer stuff certainly took it out of me and my speed has suffered in the shorter races as a result. That said I did run my 2 quickest ever 10km races this year - a new 10km PB out at Colemanstown running solo where I clocked 32:22. Then a 32:38 in Annaghdown in June on the longest day of the year.

So 28 road races for the year. I chalked up 13 wins, 5 seconds and a couple of thirds. I certainly cut back on racing this year compared to 2011 and I hope to buck that trend next year by getting out there a bit more.

If I had to pick my top 5 performances of the year I'd have to go with:

1) London Marathon - despite not breaking my goal of sub 2:30, I still had a solid race but faded in the last few miles. Still a great experiecne and you just cannot beat this race for atmosphere.

2) Round Norfolk Relay - my first experience of this race. Running a 20 miler at 2am in the morning was certainly unique. Conditions were perfect and I surprised myself by running at 2:28 marathon pace. A great day made all the more special by our team winning the event outright.

3) Colemanstown 10km - I was certainly in good shape leading up to London. Two weeks before I ran a solid PB of 32:22 solo running the whole way. A great flat course and one of those races where it just felt oh so easy.

4) Claregalway 5km - a couple of weeks after London I ran my local 5km on a very hilly course. I was pushed all the way by Peter O'Sullivan and I ran a very quick last 500m to take out the race. The marathon certainly gives you plenty of strength (as does the Guinness).

5) Annaghdown 10km - I had a number of good races with John Byrne this year. On this occasion I came out on top after 6kms of constant surges and lead changes. I'd have to say I'd easily swap this performance for the National Half where John had a super run of 1:11 easily beating me in the process.

Happy New Year to one and all. May you all realise your goals in 2013, be it running or otherwise. I'm going to focus on the shorter stuff in 2013 so back to the 5kms and 10kms. Plenty of track sessions in the new year to get the speed back and then see what happens...

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Incredible

Really poor weather today so took the easy option and decided to run on the treadmill. A steady 9km in 38:20 (4:16's). That's it now until the 5km on Jan 1st.

The semi-finals of the darts are now over and what can you say about Michael Van Gerwen. The man is a genius. He was only one dart away from hitting back-to-back 9 dart legs. I've never seen anything like it. Should be a great final on New Years Day and on current form I have to go with the green machine after previously tipping Taylor.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

12 x 400m off 60 secs

With a 5km race on Jan 1st fast approaching, I thought I'd try a few 400's to get the legs moving. After a warm-up of 3.7km I stepped onto the track only to be greeted with a heavy hail storm, followed by a complete soaking. I considered pulling the pin but after about 15 minutes of hanging around it had at least stopped raining so I decided to give it a go. Needless to say I had the whole track to myself...

Initially I was going to do 10 but the first couple were so poor that I upped it to 12. The track was slippery and wet and the times were slow. Bloody hard doing this on your lonesome:

78/77/74/74/74/74/73/74/73/73/71/71

I finished up with another 3.7km. All up 12.2kms for the day. Strange sort of session - I didn't feel like I was red-lining and the recovery time was ample but at the same time I had no pace. Perhaps still a hangover from the 10km on Wednesday.

A game of snooker in the evening. I rolled back the years in the 4th frame hitting a 50 break - my first 50 in at least 10 years I'd say. Returned to being crap straight after that...

Friday, December 28, 2012

Similar

De ja vu - another hour run with Fintan. This time the route was a little different and the conditions were a little testier - especially the first 4km into a very strong wind. The rain just about held off so we were lucky really. All up 14.8kms in 1:05:09 (4:22's).

Out in the evening for a game of darts with the darts team. We played a round robin comp which I managed to win. The darts are going alright at the moment - must be the world champs that have inspired me.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Plugging on

Out early afternoon with Fintan who is getting back into it after a frustrating shin injury. We ran a total of 15.9kms in 1:08:16 (4:18's). Legs felt fine at the start - no indication that I'd raced the previous day but at the end I was done for.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fields of Athenry 10km

Arrived a little too late for comfort after getting carried away playing with the Lego. On the short drive to Athenry it was raining very heavily and it didn't look like letting up. Well it didn't - at least not until the race was over...

A quick dash to collect my number and get changed. Ten minutes before the off I jogged round to the start area - I reckon about 500m and that was my warm-up done. It was still hammering down and the roads were covered in puddles. I don't recall ever racing in such wet conditions.

The gun sounded and close to 1,100 people were underway. The race was packed full of quality and a lead group of half a dozen or so quickly broke away leaving me in a chasing group. After a couple of kms things had settled down - the lead group were working away and I was left in a group of 5. This section of the course is pretty flat and not much happened until we took a left hand turn around the 4km mark.

At this point one of the group fell off the back (Peter O'Sullivan), leaving 4 of us to battle it out. The group included Steve McKeigue who I last met in Carnmore a few weeks back, plus a couple more faces that I didn't recognise. This section of the course was a bit tougher. The road is much narrower and I occasionally clipped arms with the others whilst trying to find a dry line on the roads.

Through 5km in 16:44 and I couldn't believe the time - it felt at least 20 seconds quicker. At this point one of the runners had made a slight break off the front which I couldn't respond to - I still had company though so kept plugging away. Another left turn and it was the long run for home.

I think it was between 6km and 7km that the water on the road was incredible. A few sections of 30m+ where the road was completely covered in water and there was no option but to race straight through the middle. In places it was at least ankle deep so you can imagine how much I enjoyed wading through that...

By about 8km I was racing with one other guy as Steve had fallen back a little. We gradually reeled in the runner who had previously made a break so it was going to be a three way shoot-out to the finish.

At 9km we were all in a line and the same guy made another break for home. I tried to go with him but was starting to feel the pinch. The last km has a lovely downhill section but despite running well I was still some 3 or 4 seconds behind. I had one final throw of the dice after crossing the railway but it was not to be and I had to settle for my position (9th) after gapping the other runner in our group by a few seconds. The time was 33:21 which despite being 20 to 30 seconds off where I'd like to be, was probably explainable given the constant deluge.

Some real quality at the front with Mick Clohisey taking out the race in 30:57, Emmet Dunleavy in 2nd in 31:36 and Michael Shannon 3rd in 31:40. Brilliant running.

Straight to the hall to get changed (no warm-down). A quick coffee and off home for a long hot shower. I have to say that despite the weather, I really enjoyed the race. Great to be out there having a few battles - which you seldom get in the smaller races. It has certainly given me a renewed appetite for racing in the New Year. Finally, hats off to Athenry AC in putting on another fantastic event.

Here's a photo (thanks to Peter Mooney):



Splits:

1km 3:18
2km 3:15
3km 3:19
4km 3:25
5km 3:27 (16:44)
6km 3:16
7km 3:23
8km 3:26
9km 3:25
10km 3:07 (16:37)

Total 33:21

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Day

Merry Christmas to one and all.

A day of Lego, darts (my son got a new soft tip dartboard), eating, plus a few beers. A very tame day on the beer - not for the want of trying but I was absolutely stuffed after the turkey and ham.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

A short 9.5km loop today. Time 38:20 (4:02's). That's it now until the 10km on St Stephen's/Boxing Day.

A few beers in the evening and the home to cook supper for 10+. All went well.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Nervous Nineties

The best intention of running close to 2 hours but gave up after 76 minutes exactly. Distance 17.7km (4:18's).

A good week of volume for me - a total of 98.2kms. The third week on the trot now where I've only done one speed session. Be interesting to see how that translates into race form next week...

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hour

An easy hour. 14.9kms in 1:02:22 (4:11's). Pace improving.

Out later in the evening for a few pints and some darts. I couldn't miss double top - never finished like that before. Scoring was a bit hit and miss though...

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Long Run

Out in the afternoon for a solo long run. My local half marathon course which I covered off in 1:30:32 (4:17's). A bit better than yesterday's pathetic effort...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Slow

10km in 44:25 (4:26's). Knackered after too little sleep. Unless I get 8 hours the running suffers...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Snooker it wasn't

10kms 41:21 (4:08's). Legs sore after the track session.

Out later in the evening for a game of snooker. I was awful. Excuse list as long as your arm. Not being able to see with or without my glasses certainly doesn't help. Maybe time to try some contact lenses.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

4 x 400, 3 x 1600, 4 x 400

Track night - surface quite wet but not a bad night being quite still and not as cold as the previous couple of weeks.

A short 3km warm-up and the session was as above. The recoveries were 1 minute between each effort and 2 minutes between the sets. I'd told everyone I was going to take it easy and that's how it started out.....here are the times:

79/74/72/71
5:06/5:07/5:04
72/69/67/66

The first 400 was disgraceful - it felt like a 69 as I was blowing like a you know what. From there on it got a bit easier. I sat in with Keith for the 1600's and took turns rolling out each lap - he looked to be cruising and I was having to work. The last set of 400's were pleasing - I tried to stick with Keith but he was at least a couple of seconds in front of me each lap - and still looked like he was jogging. I guess you'd expect that from a low 1:50 800m runner...

My last 400m was a pleasing 65.50. I guess I still have some speed and probably need to do lots more 400's so I can run sub 70 second laps and feel comfortable. The wet track didn't help tonight so again the times were okay.

I finished up with a 3.5km warm-down. All up 14.5kms. This could be my last speed session of the year - though I may decide to do something on the weekend. Decisions, decisions...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Same old

Another night run. Getting bored of the route now but not many options at the moment until I can get out during the day.

Total 10kms in 41:40 (4:10's).

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Struggle

A half arsed attempt at a long-run. Had no energy and the legs felt tired so I pulled the pin and cut short at 17.1kms. Time 1:14:36 (4:22's). Not very happy with that pace - very poor...

That's 82.7kms for the week.

Watched the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award in the evening. Couldn't believe Mo didn't make the top 3 but in saying that I think Wiggo was a worthy winner.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Spinning

Not feeling great today. Out at lunchtime to take the kids into town for Santa. They spotted the merry-go-round at the Christmas markets and before I knew it I was riding one of the horses. Not a great idea and I nearly added some of my own Christmas decorations to the square...

Managed a 9.5km wobble when I got home. Time 38:59 (4:06's).

Out in the evening for some darts and pool in the local. Forgot to mention the darts world champs started yesterday. Taylor all the way for me.

Friday, December 14, 2012

New Garmin

A lunchtime run. I was trying out my new Garmin FR10 which is the most basic Garmin on the market. Gives you speed, distance and time. Perfect for what I need.

Felt really good from the off. Decided on a long one and after returning home I decided to notch up an extra 200m to give me the half marathon. Time 1:25:43 for 21.1kms (4:04/km pace).

Used Garmin connect for the first time to upload my data. Really impressed so far.

Out in the evening with a few running buddies for a quiet beer. It turned into quite a loud beer as I didn't roll in until 3 in the morning. Even managed a game of darts in our 7th pub and after telling everyone how good I was, I proceeded to play crap. Got beaten by Barry who took out a brilliant 119 with triple 19, double 12, double 19. A good night with a pizza for company in the taxi home.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

More of the same

Another nighttime 10km. A cross-wind tonight which is unusual running up and down the N17. Time 41:39 (4:10's).

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

5km Progression

No running today - planned rest day.

I was asked about my 5km progression recently. So here goes:



Not really a distance I raced much until moving to Ireland in 2010. Note these are all road race performances and do not include track races,

My first 5km was a very tough hilly course in Lindfield. I think I finished top 5 but this race was very much an undercard for the main 10km held on the same day. I started quick and died in the arse and it was a real struggle home.

The next couple of races in Forster, NSW, were 5km races that were held on the weekend of the Ironman (which I used to go up and watch). I don't recall much about the first race in 2004, but the race in 2005 was a real breakthrough run. It was a 2 lap course and I ran much quicker (30 seconds plus) than expected beating the sponsored Asics female athlete home (whose name escapes me). I was convinced the course was short and remember driving it afterwards in the car. It seemed okay. Punching well above my weight in that race which goes to show it can happen if everything clicks on the day.

The rest of the races are documented on the blog. The races in Tuam and Craughwell were on consecutive weeks as part of the Galway 5km series that year. The second one wasn't really a PB as I only equalled the time from the previous week.

The last race in Maree was a cracker. I ran down Michael Shannon in the last couple of kms and I finished less than 20 seconds behind the legend that is Gerry Ryan. To this day that's as close as I've ever got to him in a race (and I can't see it getting any better going forwards!).

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

8 x 3 minutes

Out to track tonight to find that the gates were locked. Instead we were running around the hockey pitches on the gravel which was a bit easier on the knees.

A longer warm-up tonight of 3.7kms. The session was 8 x 3 minutes originally off 90 seconds but this was revised down to 75 seconds "so people didn't get too cold". Ah yes, it was quite chilly - probably around 2 degrees. Similar to yesterday really - cold but no wind or rain.

A big enough group and the 3 minutes would allow us all do to around 2 full laps. Then we could all re-group in time for the start of the next rep. I started conservatively and gradually wound up the pace. The last few were starting to hurt and I really pushed the last one. I could tell I was running that bit quicker each time as I was getting further into the 3rd lap...

No idea of pace. I'd imagine it was close to 3:18/km pace at the start working down to around 3:05/km pace to finish. Owen and Christy both running well right on my heels.

Same warm-down of 3.7kms to finish with. That's about 15.0kms for the day.

Monday, December 10, 2012

V Cold

This goes down as the coldest run of the winter so far. Probably close to freezing. The pavements were good though with no icy patches and I rattled out 10kms in 42:29 (4:15's). Lovely weather for running once you get warmed up.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Triple header

Same run as yesterday. A little quicker today covering off the 14.9kms in 1:02:40 (4:12's). Quite nice just doing the easy running at the moment. I certainly don't miss knowing that you have a tough session ahead of you every few days.

Out again in the evening for more darts. Played okay but just not hitting enough big scores at the moment.

Got home to watch the end of the snooker. Mark Selby winning 10-6 against Shaun Murphy. A great win for the Jester and he is rewarded by regaining his world number 1 spot. Great viewing all week.

A total of 89.1kms for the week.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Backing up

A late finish last night - 3:30am. I decided to head out in the afternoon to blow out a few cobwebs and I did a similar run to yesterday. All up 14.9kms in 1:03:22 (4:15's). Felt pretty good all things considered...

Out again in the evening for a few games of darts. A few beers later and I was playing okay. I missed a bull finish for a 12 dart leg which would have been nice. Home by 1:30am...

Friday, December 07, 2012

Morning Bill

Morning run and a glorious one at that. Ran some part local loops clocking up 15.9kms in 1:05:35.(4:07's). Ticking along very nicely without a care in the world.

Okay so I clearly can't tip anyone in the snooker. I'll just shut up from now on...

Out in the evening for the first party of the silly season. My wife's Christmas do. Should be fun and will decide to play it safe and avoid the wine and stick to the Black Stuff.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Tights

Afternoon run today - local loop of 11.1kms in 46:39 (4:12's). Very poor weather - wore my running tights for the first time this winter. I looked as gay as a handbag full of rainbows...

Really enjoying the snooker this week. Lots of late nights watching some very close finishes. A fantastic match tonight with Neil Robertson racing to a 4-0 lead against Mark Selby. Then after the interval Robertson lost the plot and lost 6 frames on the spin. A great win for the Jester who is know in the semis and by his own admission has been very patchy...

So my second tip has gone down. Of the 4 left I'd favour Ali Carter...

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Tin tin

Another 10km night run. Legs a bit sore after track. Much slower today - not helped by skating rink conditions during the last km. Time 43:22 (4:20's).

The snooker this week has thrown up many surprises. None more so than the young Belgian sensation Luca Brecel who has only just turned 17 years of age and has now found himself in the quarter finals. Incredible.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

5 x (400m/500m/600m)

Track night. As mentioned my plan for the month was easy running - but track night is my one time where I meet up for some group training so I thought I'd toddle along for a catch-up...

Conditions were cold. The track was damp with some icy patches along the home straight. Not much breeze though. The session was sets of 400m/500m/600m with 60 seconds recovery between efforts and 90 seconds between sets.

I started off really conservatively - but couldn't help myself in winding up the pace as we went through each set. Here are the times:

1:19/1:39/2:00
1:18/1:38/1:57
1:14/1:33/1:54
1:13/1:32/1:52
1:12/1:31/1:47

I felt good throughout - even after the the last couple of sets. To be expected I suppose as the recovery time was quite generous - plus I wasn't red-lining. By the last couple of sets I had managed to find a line down the home straight which didn't involve ice skating....good fun and a great group at the front.

All up 12.3kms with warm-up and down.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Nighttime 10km

My new 10km night route as run last week. Time 41:19 (4:08's). Felt really comfortable.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Carnmore 5km Turkey Trot

Lots of rain around and also very cold. The positive was that there was very little breeze. Not too bad once you got going but the course was very damp. This picture is taken off the Athenry AC website gives you an idea of the conditions:



A shortish warm-up of around a mile running down to the start if you include the strides. The race started and I hit the front with a couple of other runners for company. By the time we hit the first km there was still 3 of us together but shortly after that reduced to two leaving me and Steve McKeigue together. After a left turn we started the lollipop section of the course. Through 2km and still together and after taking a right turn we were greeted by a long uphill drag. I took this opportunity to push on and within reaching the top of the climb I had opened up a small gap.

From there on it was a case of holding on. Passed the 3km marker and then continuing around the loop before the long descent back down to 4km. By this stage I was starting to struggle a little but I'd opened up enough of a gap not to let it slip. Disappointed not to find another gear to finish off the race with a quick last km but a pleasing win in a time of 16:01. Here are the splits:

1km 3:01
2km 3:13
3km 3:15
4km 3:15
5km 3:17

Total 16:01

The clock on the finish line wasn't working and if you'd have asked me to guess the time I would have said around 16:15 to 16:20 so the actual time was a pleasant surprise. Looking back to last year I actually ran 3 seconds quicker this time around although the splits are completely different (last year was a quick last km of 3:05 where I came off second best in a sprint finish).

A great event and lots of turkeys given out as prizes. That's Christmas dinner sorted. I really like this course and I'd like to have a dig at it when I'm in better 5km shape as I reckon it's a quick one. It certainly wouldn't be out of place as part of the Galway 5km series.

I ran the loop again as a warm-down with Brian Furey and then we ran back to the hall for the presentation. All up 14.2kms for the day and a mighty 56.0kms for the week. A pleasing end to the week and nice to run a race on fresh legs (no sessions all week makes a big difference).

I notice I gave Judd the kiss of death in the snooker. Okay, my new tip is Neil Robertson...plus a great finish to the darts with the Power adding another major to his collection. Peaking nicely for his 16th world title?

Saturday, December 01, 2012

More sport

9.5kms in 39:16 (4:08's). Cruising pace getting quicker.

The snooker started today - the UK championship. Still no Ronnie who has decided to take a year out. I'd say Judd is favourite to defend his title.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Toy Show

Squeezed in a local loop just as it was getting dark (read pitch black). 9.5kms in 39:45 (4:11's).

Darts match in the evening. A top of the table clash and which we managed to win 6-3. I won both my singles and pairs but didn't play that well. Home at 2am.

And another dart tournament started today - the Players Championship at Minehead. It's being shown on ITV4 if you're that way inclined.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

More of the same

Same conditions as yesterday. Almost the same run. This time 10.0kms in 42:16 (4:13's).

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Frost

A bit of a cold snap here in Galway. I ran around 6pm and the pavement at the start of the run was already a little icy. I finished up running up and down the N17 to give me 12.6kms in 54:26 (4:19's).

Thought it would be easy after a nice break but didn't feel that way. Oh well, it least it's a start.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Back to Galway

The long journey back to Galway today.

No running (again). Seems to be a bit of a habit lately. Only 1 run in 5 days...

Nothing really planned for the rest of the year. I'm sure I'll pop up for the odd race here and there but nothing I'm targeting. Perhaps I'll focus on the darts for a while...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Splits

A few beers last night with the old man. More darts and I lost 8-7. Crap.

Here are the mile splits from yesterday's race.

1 - 5:33
2 - 5:42
3 - 6:04
4 - 5:30
5 - 5:19
6 - 5:31
7 - 6:00
8 - 5:52
9 - 6:37
10 - 5:52
11 - 5:31
12 - 5:49
13.1 - 6:41

Total 1:16:01

No running today - no clean gear with me. That was my excuse anyway...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Norwich Half Marathon 2012

It was cold and dry but the wind was blowing a gale. During the warm-up (2.4kms) it was obvious that times were out of the window - it was going to be bloody tough run.

The gun sounded and I settled into the lead group. We ran a small loop around the showground before hitting the main road running directly into the wind. Four runners broke away leaving 4 of us chasing. The mile splits were pretty ugly and the lead group were about 10 seconds up the road by the time we finally got some respite from the wind after 3 miles or so.

With the wind on the back it felt a lot easier. Strangely we started to reduce the gap on the lead group. By the time we were climbing back into the showground at the conclusion of the first lap we had caught them and there was now a group of 6 of us taking turns leading out the race. I wasn't feeling comfortable and I had the feeling that others in the group had plenty in reserve.

As we ran through the showground the group remained together but as soon as we hit the road for the start of the second lap four runners again went off the front leaving me and another City of Norwich runner in pursuit. This section was now very tough. The wind was blowing so hard that at times it felt like you weren't even moving - made all the tougher now as I had nobody to share the workload as I was running clear in 5th place.

I recall one point where the wind was coming across me and even though I was trying to run down the centre of the road, I kept getting blown into the ditch. A split of 6:37 for that mile shows just how tough it was. The second half of the lap was a lot easier but I was by now going through the motions. I tried to keep it going the last 3 miles but with nobody around me I had let the pace slide. Back into the showground for the last time and one final short grind in the win and I jog/walked the last 100m down the finish completing the race in 1:16:04 for 5th place (first O40).

Obviously not happy with the time but quick times were not going to happen today. I can't recall ever running a race where conditions were so difficult. I still enjoyed it though and it was nice mixing it with the leaders for a few miles even if that was short-lived.

All up 23.5kms for the day. Here's a photo at the start of the first lap:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Double rest

No running again today - I couldn't see the point.

A good look around the city centre during the day and an early night.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Travel

The long trip to Norwich today. Car/plane/train/taxi. No running. A few pints.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Won

9.5kms in 39:39 (4:10's).

Another trip to the boozer for more darts. This time I won 12-10...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lost

11.1kms in 47:16 (4:15's).

Pub in the evening for a game of darts with the old man. I lost 16-15...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bottled it

Weather not good so took the decision to run on the treadmill instead of my normal track session.

I ran some mile reps off 90 seconds. The 90 seconds included the speeding up and slowing down of the treadmill to and from 13kms/hour. So the recovery was still at a fair pace...

I ran the first 2 miles at 3:10/km pace and the last 2 at 3:09/km pace. That works out around 5:05 for the miles. I worked up a very good sweat in the process.

With warm-up and warm-down I totalled 14kms for the day. No more quick stuff now before the half on Sunday.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Race week

9.5kms in 40:50 (4:18's).

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Muddy puddles

With the half marathon only a week away I decided that 75 minutes was sufficient for today. I met a few lads at the Cathedral in town and ran to Dangan where we did multiple loops of the pitches and trails. Pace was slow but that didn't matter - good to give the legs a rest from the roads. Covered in mud by the end.

All up 16.7kms in 1:14:00 (4:26's). I'll take it easy next week - I'll do a track session on Tuesday and then easy running/rest before the race on Sunday.

That's 100.2kms for the week. First time I've cracked 3 figures in about 3 months.

I watched the darts in the evening. Raymond Van Barneveld beating Michael Van Gerwen 16-14 in a very entertaining final. Great to see Barney back to his best winning his first major final in over 5 years. Then a quick trip to the pub with the old man to try and replicate what we had just seen. No chance. Still played alright and missed double 8 for a 13 dart leg (ended up 15 darts). Three more 180's to the yearly tally (now stands at 160).

Saturday, November 17, 2012

4 x 5km

I got the call from my international training wingman (Fintan) and he was planning on running 4 x 5kms. Sounded manageable so that's what I did.

Warm-up of 2.5kms. Then 20km continuous - with target paces per km of 3:54/3:36/3:54/3:36 for each 5km block. Today it felt pretty comfortable - the start of the last 5km was tough as we were running into the wind into an icy shower but when that passed it became a lot easier. Actual paces were 3:52/3:34/3:53/3:34 so pretty much spot on (albeit a tiny bit quicker than target).

Finished up with a warm-down of 1.2kms to give me 23.7kms for the day. A good run - enjoyed that one.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Running and darts

11.1kms today in 45:13 (4:04's). Easy going.

Darts match in the evening. We won 9-0. I practised for half an hour during the day and hit 5 x 180's. I didn't play like that in the match though...but still won both my games.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

2 x 12 minutes

Some more speed work. A repeat of the session I did 4 weeks ago - this time with 2.5 minutes recovery.

Warm-up of 2.2kms and the usual local road for this type of stuff. I felt out of sorts during the first 12 minute effort and without realising it I had the benefit of the breeze and was disappointed to cover 3.61kms (3:20/km pace). The return leg felt even harder and I was really struggling. Lack of sleep might be a factor - lots of thoughts of pulling the pin mid effort but I finished covering 3.65kms (3:17/km pace). I should be able to run 3:15/km pace but that was never going to happen today.

Probably being a little hard on myself. I don't suppose it was too bad considering I wasn't feeling right (especially as the second effort was better feeling shite). All up 14.4kms with warm-down.

A brilliant game of darts in the evening at the Grand Slam of Darts. Michael Van Gerwen turning off the Power (Phil Taylor) defeating him 10-5. Both averaging over 105....incredible.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Drizzle

More local running today. A total of 13.6kms in 56:23 (4:09's). Very drizzly conditions for running but not too bad once (if?) you warm up...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

8 x 800 off 75 seconds

Track night - very damp underfoot but it had just about stopped raining and the wind wasn't really a factor. A 2.8km 7 lap warm-up so get things rolling.

The session was 800's off 90 seconds - until we were just about to start and it was revised down to 75 seconds. My usual sparring partners were not in attendance so it was just me against the clock. I decided I'd try and keep them around 2:30 and was pleasantly surprised to run them a little quicker than that. Here are the times:

2:29/2:28/2:29/2:27/2:28/2:28/2:31/2:27

I tried running the penultimate one running really relaxed as I tend to tense up too much in the upper body and judging by the time that experiment failed. I had a slower group to target on the last rep and that helped get me back on track.

Happy enough with that. All my track sessions of late seem to suggest I'm in decent form so I just need to transfer that form to a race (not drinking heavily beforehand will definitely be a good start).

A quick 2km warm-down to give me 11.2kms for the day.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lets try for a better week

An easy run today to shake out the legs after the race yesterday. Despite being wet and miserable I felt great knocking out 9.5kms in 38:15 (4:02's).

I think I'm still benefiting from the 3 day rest I had last week. I've probably neglected to have these easy weeks in the past but after last week I can really feel the benefit. Hopefully a decent week's training ahead and then wind back for the half the following week. I'd still love to run a sub 72 half this year and this will probably be my last opportunity.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hollymount 10km

Not your textbook preparation for this race. It was a case of turning up, hitting a pace that felt hard but not red-line, and hanging on for 10kms in around 35 minutes. That should be more than enough to secure the Mayo league and defend my title from last year.

It was a short enough drive to Hollymount of around 45 minutes. Conditions looked to be very good - cold and only a light breeze. I ran a couple of kms warm-up with John Byrne and Gerry Carty and it was time to line up at the start. Again a very poor turn-out for the race - looking round Gerry Ryan was the stand-out runner making his umpteenth comeback. Great to see. Then the rest of the podium looked to be there for the taking.

The race started and Gerry Ryan hit the lead. I decided not to even bother to try and go with him and stick to my race plan. Surprisingly I felt quite good - by the time we hit the first km I was in second position and the legs felt great. That pretty much set the tone for the race. Gerry gradually worked his way up the road, I seemed to have consolidated second place, and took the opportunity to enjoy the race as much as I could. The course itself is a 3 lap affair - not to everyones liking but it didn't really bother me today. We basically ran up the main street 4 times and that gave you a good boost every time you ran through the town with the small crowd that had gathered (including my old man and my son).

Not much to report. I kept the pace even and it felt more like a tempo run than a race. Soon I was completing the last lap and having a few back markers to overtake again added a bit more motivation to keep the legs ticking over. I crossed the line finishing second in a time of 33:23 and it was job done.



Congratulation to Gerry who had a fine run of 32:07 on his comeback. This is a man who I think I'm right in saying is now 49 years of age. He will be well under 32 minutes in is next 10km for sure. Super stuff.

Another lap of the course as a warm-down to give me around 14.6kms for the day.

Here are the splits using the km markers. Clearly they were a bit dodgy as my speed felt constant throughout:

1km 3:32
2km 3:00
3km 3:38
4km 3:07
5km 3:24 (16:41)
6km 3:21
7km 3:19
8km 3:17
9km 3:16
10km 3:29 (16:42)

Total 33:23

Only 45.2kms this week. A very good week for beer consumption though which continued today with another visit to the pub in the evening for some more darts...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

And there's more

Back to Galway at lunchtime and straight out for a run. My usual bog standard loop and despite feeling like shite I ran okay running the 9.5kms in 39:03 (4:07's).

The wedding celebrations continued at the in-laws in the evening. I pulled the pin around 11pm after 8 cans of Guinness and took the kids home to bed.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Wedding

Today was my first experience of an Irish wedding. The wedding was early afternoon then on to the reception where the alcohol started to flow. By 5am the next morning the bar had shut so it was time to hit the sack...

A great day and a big congratulations to Johnny and Aine. Obviously no time for running so that's now 3 complete rest days on the bounce...

Here's my caricature from the wedding:

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Tempted

Toe already feeling a good bit better. I was tempted to have a run but best listen to the doctor...

I can't recall the last time I had 2 complete rest days (just checked - it was mid-September just before the Round Norfolk Relay).

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Doctor Shuffhausen

Infection in big toe. No running for a few days whilst it settles down. I have anti-biotics to take and my first question was "I have a wedding on Friday and will I be able to drink?". Thankfully I'm okay to blow the froth off a couple...

So a good opportunity to freshen up a bit. Not ideal but in the grand scheme of things I have been very lucky with injuries for the last few years and this is only a minor thing.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

12 x 400 off 35 seconds

A quick track session tonight. An 8 lap warm-up, then straight into it. Conditions were pretty good - dry with a touch of a breeze but nothing to worry about.

An unusual recovery time of 35 seconds and the goal was to run them a couple of seconds slower than the 400's from the previous week. I thought 72 second laps would be a nice target so that's what I aimed for. The session called for 16 reps but as I was racing on Sunday I decided to cut it short at 12. Here are the times:

75/72/72/72/72/72/72/72/72/72/71/71

I was taking turns leading out the laps with Fintan. After a sluggish start the times were very consistent. Despite the short recovery I felt in complete control and could have continued on no problem.

A 3.5km warm-down around the block to give me 11.5kms for the day.

The Old Man is back in town as of today. That gives me more time to train but any benefit is cancelled out by extra visits to the pub. That has already started with me winning comfortably at our first game of darts in the local. That's despite a big toe which I could hardly walk on after tonight's reps. Time to visit the doctor...

Monday, November 05, 2012

Night Run

First night run of the winter. Up and down the N17. Ended up with 9.6kms in 41:31 (4:20's). Pace a lot slower than yesterday's longer run for the same effort. Strange how it can fluctuate so much.

Left big toe sore after a mosh injury on Friday night. It seems to be getting progressively worse...

Sunday, November 04, 2012

The Wedding Present - Cork

Well I failed to complete the hat-trick in Cork. Next time, next time...

I ran just after lunch. Conditions were a lot better today - very little breeze and nice and cool. You tend to know how a run is going to go early doors and when I clocked 4:05 for the first km feeling very good, I knew it was going to be a good 'un. I ended up running 20.9kms in 1:24:34 (4:02/km) feeling very comfortable the whole way. Strange how 2 late 2am nights and numerous beers results in you having a good run...

That's 87.1kms for the week. Only 2 speed sessions this week but still feel like I'm moving in the right direction. Race next Sunday at Hollymount.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

The Wedding Present - Galway

I managed to squeeze in a run in the afternoon. I wanted to do some quicker stuff so decided to run a 10km tempo effort. Conditions were horrendous - running in hail and rain with a strong wind to boot. It was a weird sort of run as with the wind behind I was running at 3:22/km pace feeling very comfortable; then into the wind it was 3:40/km flat stick. I completed the 10km in 34:28 which I was extremely happy with. All up 15.9kms with warm-up/down.

Out to the Roisin Dubh in the evening for TWP take #2. Basically the same set as the night before with 3 or 4 different songs. A much better venue being much smaller and more intimate than the Button Factory. I was pretty much front and centre for the entire gig and there was even a bit of moshing during the quicker songs. Absolutely brilliant.

Friday, November 02, 2012

The Wedding Present - Dublin

Rest day today - long overdue after 19 consecutive running days.

Out to Dublin the in the evening for the first instalment of watching The Wedding Present. It was at the Button Factory which is right in the heart of Temple Bar. A fantastic night and it was wedged full of middle aged balding men. I felt right at home. They played the iconic Seamonsters album in its entirety in the middle of the set. Superb stuff.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Claregalway Group Training

An early start today at 7:15am with Fintan and Gearoid (3 makes a group right?). I wasn't sure what the session was to be but when Fintan called an easy hour that was a welcome relief.

The same route as Monday. This time the 14.8kms took 1:03:14 (4:16's). I think we started pretty slow and gradually worked the pace up.

A lovely morning for running. Bloody cold but dry and hardly a breath of wind.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween

9.5kms in 39:29 (4:09's)

Managed to squeeze this run in at lunchtime to avoid running in the dark. Very cold but good for running. Legs/hammies a bit sore after those quick 400s...

"Only" 20 knocks on the door for trick and treat....

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

400's and 1600's

Cold and wet at the track tonight. I didn't want to be there as I ran my 7 lap warm-up. The session was to be 4 x 400, 2 x 1600 and 4 x 400 to finish with. These were all off 60 seconds recovery except for 2 minutes before and after the 1600's.

I was changing into my racing flats when I missed the first 400m...I jumped in on the second one and that wasn't great but from that point on I gave it my all and it ended up being a very good hit-out. I was working in a nice group with Keith and Fintan and the times were very respectable considering the squelchy conditions. Here are the times:

75/72/69

5:04/5:03

72/69/68/66

The second 1600 was tough off only 1 minute but we took turns leading out the laps which helped a lot. The last set of 400's were very manageable once the longer reps were out of the way. Fintan looks in red hot form which is great to see. He's a tough man running this session in a vest whilst most people had donned duffle coats and balaclavas...

A 2.4km warm-down to give me 11.2kms for the day.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Dublin Marathon

I ran with Fintan and we knocked out 14.8kms in 1:01:51 (4:11's). I felt tired but the pace was still quite quick which is good to see.

A lot of chat about the results from the Dublin Marathon that was run today. There were some cracking performances today in very good conditions for marathon running. Seah Hehir ran a blinder clocking 2:17 in his debut for the distance. Maria McCambridge ran a brilliant 2:35 PB after her disappointment of missing out on the Olympics. That should send a clear message to the selectors...

Here are some other great performances from people I know:

Martin Conroy 2:32:15
Roger Barrett 2:32:47
Brian Furey 2:33:06
Rob Staunton 2:34:29
John Byrne 2:37:23 (one week after his 50km!)
Paddy O'Toole 2:41:20

I bet there were a few pints consumed post race...and why not...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Clocks

Another late afternoon run. Out at 4pm in miserable wet and windy conditions. Running solo and the time seemed to drag. I ran locally and manged to run sections of 4 different loops that I use for training. All up 21.0kms in 1:29:29 (4:16's).

It was getting dark as I finished the run. No more light for evening runs around the country lanes with the clocks changing so I fear I'll have to resort to the N17 or the treadmill in the coming months...

That's 91.9kms for the week. I squeezed in 3 good sessions and feel like the speed is starting to come back. No races now for 2 weeks. That's not like Matt...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

6 x 1.53km off 90 seconds

A late afternoon run. I decided to run some efforts on my local 1.53km course. A 2.2km warm-up and then straight into it. Conditions were cold with only a slight breeze.

Here are the times:

5:02/4:56/4:52/4:54/4:50/4:52 (ave 4:54 = 3:12/km pace)

The odd ones are slightly uphill but for some reason I always seem to run these better. I've had a look through my training log and I can't see where I've run a better set of these. I felt in complete control - breathing was relaxed and the legs felt very responsive. Encouraging. I should mention these were done with 90 seconds recovery (which felt more than adequate).

The same 2.2km jog back home to give me 13.6kms for the day.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Darts night

A longer local loop today of 11.1kms in 45:17 (4:05's). Felt easy.

The local dart team have entered a newly formed darts league which started tonight. Friday being a much better night to play darts compared to Tuesday last year. I haven't practised much at all lately but still managed to win my singles game 2-0. Lost my pairs though. A bit rusty so time to start hitting the practise board a bit more...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

5km tempo

A short sharp session this morning. A 15 minute warm-up, then a 5km tempo, then a 15 minute warm-down. I was out the door by 7:30am and it was still dark. By the time I had warmed up the light still wasn't great. The first couple of kms were tough as it was into a fairly stiff breeze, plus there were a few cars to dodge, but after a couple of left-hand turns the last 3km were a lot easier. Here are the splits:

3:27/3:23/3:20/3:18/3:17

Total 16:45 (3:21 average)

All up 12.2kms for the day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Race?

Same route as Monday - this time a good bit quicker covering the 9.5kms in 39:19 (4:08's). Having said I won't race until Hollymount I quite fancy a hit-out this coming weekend. Not sure if there is anything on locally?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

8 x 1km off 200m jog

Arrived a little late at track and managed to squeeze in a 7 lap warm-up as the main group were doing their stretches and drills. The session was to be km reps - same as last week for me but I was keen to jump in with the group. A really big group at the moment - I think our group has joined forces with the University and it's great to see so many people out running.

A staggered start to keep the traffic even around the track. I hit the front and led out all the efforts. The session called for 8 but I'd decided that 6 would be plenty for me...but having completed 6 I decided to run a couple more cruise kms at the end to get the distance up. Here are the times:

3:08/3:09/3:08/3:10/3:10/3:05 and 3:19/3:19

Jog recovery for the 200m ranged between 80 and 90 seconds. I would walk for 50m or so after completing the 2.5laps, and then jog the next 150m before starting out again. Conditions again were perfect and couldn't have asked for better.

Happy with that - the times weren't as quick as last week but there was a fair bit of running wide, plus I think the jog recovery makes it a little tougher than 90 seconds recovery doing very little.

I'm not sure if there is a rule of thumb on converting your km rep times into a 10km time but I'd say based on that tonight I'm getting back towards sub 33 10km shape.

I finished up with another 7 laps warm-down to give me 13.6kms for the day.

Monday, October 22, 2012

News from Dublin

Same old, same old. Usual 9.5kms in a slow 41:08 (4:20's). Felt really tired today.

Yesterday was the Gerry Farnan Cross Country meet in Dublin. Irish vests were up for grabs for both seniors and all age group categories. I'm delighted to say that my training buddy Fintan was 3rd in the over 40 category and that guarantees him a place on the Irish team for the upcoming British and Irish Masters in Belfast in a couple of weeks time. Here's my favourite photo of Fintan in action:



I was asked why I didn't run this to try and make the team. I think the simple fact is that I'm not good enough! Me and XC don't mix - I just can't get the levers moving like I can on the road. Anyway, well done mate and well deserved!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

News from Italy

Finished off the week with a longish run of 21 clicks. Again local, late afternoon and the weather still as good as you could hope for at this time of year. Time 1:30:53 (4:20's). Pace was slow enough but the hammies were a little sore - perhaps I overdid that last sprint yesterday...

Congratulations to John Byrne who ran in the 50km world trophy yesterday. In poor hairdryer like conditions (hot and windy) where people were dropping like flies he posted a time of 3hr10 to finish 5th overall (marathon in 2hr38). Fantastic running in the Irish vest!

88.8kms for the week. That's where I need to be for the next month or so.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pyramid session

A late call today to run the session. It was getting dark and I was in 2 minds as to what to do but decided to run the Harriers session that had been prescribed. Nice and straight forward - 1/2/3/4/5/4/3/2/1 minutes with a standard 60 seconds recovery between all efforts.

Again back to the stretch of road I used on Thursday. Almost dark by the time I started but no traffic to worry about. I forgot to charge the Garmin so I have no idea of pace but I think the goal of the session was to run the 5 minute effort at tempo pace, and as the reps decreased in time then the effort level should be pushed up a notch.

I was running well tonight - wish I had the data to back that up (estimate at least average pace of 3:15/km pace). Nice coming back down the pyramid once you have the 5 minute effort out of the way. The last 1 minute effort I was giving it everything. Pitch black by the end and then jogged back home.

Total distance of 12.1kms (a bit of guesswork). Madness really doing the session in the dark but I wouldn't have it any other way. That's 3 speed sessions this week - much more like it.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A good run

Great weather for running at the moment. Hardly any wind and nice and dry. I didn't push it today but the pace felt very easy. A total of 11.1kms in 44:04 (3:58's). Be nice if all days felt this good.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

2 x 12 minutes

Making my sessions up as I go along at the moment. Thought I'd do some longer 12 minute efforts today with 3 minutes recovery. Ran to the start of my local route which I normally use (out 12 minutes then turn and run back 12 minutes).

The first effort was tough as I was running into the breeze and it's predominantly uphill. I got to my "running okay" finishing point (a gate) just as the 12 minutes was up (approx 3.6km). Thought the return leg would be a lot easier but couldn't settle into any sort of decent rhythm. I did get back to the start point in 11:39 and I continued on for the full 12 minutes (approx 3.7km).

A slightly longer run home of 3.8km to give me 13.6kms for the day. Didn't nail it today but not to worry...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Back to rain

Same run as Monday. This time 38:38 for 9.5kms (4:04's). Normally my pace slows on Wednesday compared to Monday and I'd put that down to the track session the previous day. But not this week. Perhaps I didn't push myself hard enough yesterday and I should have done that 6th rep after all...

Forgot to mention it was raining. Quite a lot.

My next race will be the final run in the Mayo league on Nov 11th (a 10km in Hollymount). Then the Norwich half two weeks after that (Nov 25th). Unless something else takes my fancy in the meantime...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

5 x 1km off 90

Another track session. Really lucky with the weather being cool, dry and still. I ran my usual warm-up loop of 3.5kms and then ran a few strides. I'd decided on 5 x 1km off 90 seconds. A couple of points on this. Firstly, 90 seconds is a little soft - maybe I should have stuck to the bog standard minute...but in my defence I don't think I'm quite ready for the minute and I didn't want to destroy myself. Secondly, I went into the session thinking I'd do 6 reps (an extra one) - "If I felt good". That was never going to happen. I think you have to commit to doing the number of reps before the start of the session and then stick to it...

Times were as follows:

3:06/3:00/3:06/3:05/3:05

There were some traffic issues on the second rep as the main group returned to the track to do their warm-down - with several people favouring lane 1. It didn't slow me down - in fact the opposite. Perhaps I need to get a little riled more often? Legs went a bit wobbly on the end of the 4th rep so pleased to maintain the pace for the last one.

That will do nicely - I though that if I could keep them under 3:10 then I'd be happy. Having said that I was left thinking how on earth did I run 5kms straight on the track some 8 seconds quicker...

Warm-down 3.5kms to give me 14.0kms for the day.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rough old night

Rugged up for this run. Cold and wet. Local loop of 9.5kms in 38:59 (4:06's). To be honest it wasn't too bad once warmed up and by the end of the run it had stopped raining.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Ballina 4 miler

Another longish drive to Ballina (1hr 30) picking up Colm en route. We arrvied in Ballina about 40 minutes before the race start of 3pm which allowed plenty of time to get ready. I ran a couple of kms warm-up and then lined up at the start.

There was a very poor turn-out. Quite disappointing as this was a Mayo league race and I estimated around 50 runners at the start. It turns out there were only 48 finishers...a real shame as this race also doubled up as a fund raiser for the Cancer Council.

I hit the front with a younger runner staying with me. The first mile had us initially climbing, then descending, before things flattened out a little. We ran through town and I was paranoid I was going to take a wrong turn. Thankfully that didn't transpire. By the time we had reached the 1st mile I had opened up a lead. I just had to remain focussed and the race was there for the taking.

The second mile was tough - it seemed to be all slightly uphill running into a stiff breeze along the main road. After a right-hand turn things became a lot easier running down a small country road which I was familiar with as it was also used for the Ballina 10km course. Through 3 miles and it was a case of relaxing and enjoying the run in to the finish.

I tried to push the last mile a bit. That felt like hard work but I'd still say it was my quickest mile. The splits don't suggest this and I'd be fairly confident in saying that the mile markers were not accurate. Someone had mentioned at the start that the actual course was 4.1 miles. I'm not sure if that was true or not but I guess it's best to keep the course the same as what they have been using for the previous 20 years.

I crossed the line in first place in 21:52. The second and third place runners were in the low 23 minutes so I won comfortably enough. My time was disappointing but I didn't have anyone to race, plus I still wasn't feeling particularly great. Can't think why...

I finished up by running the course again as a warm-down (just over 28 minutes this time). All up 14.8kms for the day. Handy points in the bag for the Mayo league which means I now have a very good chance of retaining my title from last year.

That's 70.3kms for the week. I hope to improve on that for the next few weeks.

Here are the splits:

1m 4:58
2m 5:40
3m 5:00
4m 6:14

Total 21:52

As you can see they are up and down like a fiddlers elbow....

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Struggle Street

Up just before 10am for breakfast. Then left Killarney around 11am for the long drive back to Galway. I wasn't feeling great but survived the journey.

No run today - to be honest it would have helped as I could have sweated out some of the night before. But I plan to race tomorrow and I want to be as "fresh" as possible for the trip to Ballina...

A long afternoon spent with the kids before a few beers in the evening to help feel half normal again...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Killarney

Today was an overnight stay in Killarney for a stag doo...the drive from Galway took around 3 hours and with an hour to spare before beer o'clock I took the opportunity to stretch out the legs with a quick run. I was staying right in the centre of town and after running for only a couple of minutes I was in the National Park.

A fantastic run, a beautiful trail that firstly took me along a river, then down by the water, before eventually reaching Ross Castle. I took a few minutes to admire the fabulous views then doubled back to the hotel. All up 9.8kms in 41:10 (4:12's).

The evening was basically 7 hours of drinking. I called it a day at 2:30am and thankfully missed the option of another couple of hours in the residents bar....all in all a great day.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Early/dark/damp

A 7:15am start in Claregalway with Fintan and Owen. Still pitch black and drizzling rain. Not that cold though - I had overcompensated by wearing too many layers.

Same route as last Thursday - I'll put it down as 14.9kms but could be longer as we had to double back a few times as my wingmen have the weakest bladders in Ireland. These Irish boys must drink far too much tea. Time 1:05:40 which works out at 4:24/km.

Turned into a very pleasant run - the rain had stopped by the end all was good with the world.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Power cut

The same run as Monday - legs a bit sore after the 800's and I think that accounted for my slower time of 39:59 for the 9.5kms (4:13's).

A great game of darts tonight with Phil "the Power" Taylor losing to Robert Thornton in a deciding leg thriller. Taylor had basically fended off everything that Thornton threw at him and then when he had the match for the taking he missed 3 match darts at double 16. One of the best games of darts I have seen - an incredible standard with both players averaging close to 100. That is exceptional darts for the double in format.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

6 x 800 off a minute

The legs were still a little heavy after the half but I wanted to get straight back into it with a speed session. Usual warm-up of 3.5kms then a few strides and it was time to go. Conditions were absolutely perfect - cold and as still as you could hope for (plus floodlights this week which was a bonus).

I'd set myself a target of running the 800's at 2:30. Here's how it panned out:

2:28/2:26/2:27/2:27/2:27/2:26

I ran the first 4 solo and then Conor Dolan jumped in with me for the final 2. They felt comfortable enough but at the same time I couldn't have gone much quicker. Happy to run them quicker than I was targeting.

Warm-down of 3.5kms to give me 11.8kms for the day.

Forgot to mention, earlier in the day I was out at the docs for a full check-up. You are advised to do these sort of things once you get to my age. Blood tests, weight (82 kgs fully clothed), height (6ft2), blood pressure, heart rate (resting 43), etc. Await the results of the blood tests (I suspect my cholestorol may be high).

Monday, October 08, 2012

World Grand Prix of Darts

Another easy run today - 9.5kms in 38:37 (4:04's). Feeling good.

More darts on the tele starting today - the unique double in and double out format. It's on in Dublin - I should have got some tickets to go...

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Recovery run

Out today for a very relaxed recovery run. My new racing flats which I had worn for the half yesterday had left their mark on a few of my toes - they are the same size that I always have so not sure what happened. I think I may lose a few toenails as a result.

Anyway, apart from the toes I was feeling fine. All up 11.1kms in 47:30 (4:17's).

That's 82.3kms for the week. Speed sessions will be the focus for the rest of the year.

Here's a photo from the half. I was just completing my first lap and the pigeons had to take evasive action...

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Galway Bay Half Marathon

Conditions looked spot on for this race. Nice and cool with very little wind - as good as you could possibly ask for down on the Bay. I met up with Paddy O'Toole from Mayo AC and we ran a couple of clicks warm-up before lining up at the start.

My race plan was to push the pace early on. If I felt good I would try and maintain it, if not I would settle in around 3:30/km pace and try and cruise to the finish. The start line was full of big hitters - no chance of a podium finish today with a very strong line-up. Great to see this for a race in Galway.

The race was soon underway. A lead group of 4 or 5 formed and I settled in just behind them along with one more runner. The lead group weren't hanging around and by the time we had reached the first mile they had already opened up a decent gap. I was left running with my companion and by the time we had reached the second mile I wasn't feeling comfortable. I let the other runner slowly work away from me and I was left running by myself. That's how it remained for the rest of the race.

The course is 2 loops - good running on the outward section of the loop but on the return to the start/finish area you have 2 awkward sections - one being a twisty gravel path around a small park, the other being an out and back section along a concrete jetty. I'd already slowed and was trying to keep the pace ticking over but it was difficult to stay focused running by yourself. The path on the prom was a bit manic also - running on the path and having to dodge bikes, pedestrians and a couple of dogs. I suppose it's the same for everyone but it just makes it that bit harder.

I'd completed the first lap and I could see nobody up front and I knew from the jetty section that I had a decent gap on the chasers. The second lap was all about getting it over with. I was starting to struggle and the pace still didn't feel easy even though I had slowed. I was getting some great support on the course which helped to lift my spirits and I was determined to get to the finish without being overtaken.

Not much else to report. I did what I had to do, judged that I still had a decent gap as I ran the jetty then eased off a bit as I approached the finish line. There was a great atmosphere at the finish area and I even treated the crowd to a bit of the aeroplane. Not sure why as to be honest as it was a poor performance and there was no reason to celebrate. My time was 1:13:44 for 6th place overall.

There were 4 guys under 70 minutes. The winner Sergiu Ciobanu ran 67 minutes with Michael Shannon a minute back running high 68. Clearly they were not struggling like I was!

Plenty of food and drinks at the end and good to catch-up and exchange stories with lots of familiar faces in the marquee. This event is one I really enjoy but I think it could be that much better with a few adjustments to the course layout.

No excuses for my own performance. It just didn't happen. I know that my training hasn't been what it should be the last month. You seldom get pleasant surprises when racing and today was definitely a case of you get out what you put in. Not to worry, get back into to and move on.

A few mentions to my fellow Harriers who had great runs. Good to see Barry D back with a quick 1:16. Damien R ran really strongly with 1:19 and John C also had a massive 15 minute PB running 1:20!

Here are the splits. I missed quite a few mile markers as I had the head down...

1m 5:22
2m 5:12
3m 5:47
4m 5:33
5m 5:40
7m 11:15
10m 17:01 (55:50)
11m 5:43
12m 5:46
13.1m 6:25

Total 1:13:44

Hopefully a few photos to follow...

Friday, October 05, 2012

Gemma

No running today. Instead it was out with the other half to celebrate another year. A meal in town and then on to the Roisin Dubh to see Gemma Hayes. A very poor turn out with maybe less than 100 people watching. We got seats right next to the stage and she was very good - despite playing almost an identical set to when we last watched her play (and telling the same stories)...

Being in the Roisin made me realise that it's only 4 weeks until the Wedding Present play there. I'm planning a triple header weekend watching them in Dublin on the Friday, Galway on Saturday and then Cork on Sunday. Yes I'm a big fan. I may post some photos of my Wedding Present record and CD collection at some point. Not that anyone will be remotely interested...

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Early run

Up bright and early this morning with Fintan and Owen for a run around Claregalway. I'd planned an hour but I overcooked it slightly and we ended up running 14.9kms in 1:05:12 (4:23's).

It was gloves and hat this morning for the first time since last winter. Very cold to start with but a lovely morning once warmed up. Nice to get the run out of the way by 8:30am. That's it now, no more running until the half on Saturday.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

That is all

Another easy paced run. Usual 9.5kms in 39:48 (4:11's).

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

1,000th post

Who would have thought it? This drivel has now been going on for 1,000 posts spanning back 3 years or so....

Today was another track session. Again I couldn't make the group session but I was determined to put in a decent session using the track. I bumped into the coach and the session I had missed was run around the pitches. It was 5 x 1 minute off 60 seconds, then 12 minutes, then a further 5 x 1 minutes off 60 - with 2 and a half minutes between sets.

I liked the sound of that so I tweaked it a bit for the track. I settled on 400's instead of the minutes (slightly longer), and 1 x 2 miles (8 laps) instead of the 12 minutes (slightly shorter).

Usual warm-up of 3.5kms. Just as I was about to start the session the floodlights on the track were turned out. This was okay to start with but by the end of the session I was running under the moonlight. Quite nice really - especially as I was the only person on the track. Here's how the session went:

75/73/72/71/72

10:26 (3:16/km pace)

73/72/70/70/69

It was a lovely cool evening and the breeze wasn't too bad. The track however was very wet as we had several huge downpours during the day. That must have cost me at least 5 seconds per lap...

Happy enough with that. I'll probably just run easy for the remainder of the week in preparation for the half on Saturday.

Another 3.5km warm-down to give me 14.2kms all up.

Monday, October 01, 2012

One half and then another one

Easy run today - usual 9.5km loop in 38:20 (4:02's).

Well I still have a couple more half marathons planned for this year. On Saturday I will be running the Galway Bay Half Marathon and on November 25th I will be once again heading back to my birth town for the Norwich Half Marathon.

I'll focus on 10km type training where I can as I've been doing the longer stuff all year. I think I have the stamina in the legs for the half so will just try and improve my speed in the time I have left. Seems like sensible logic to me.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Go Europe!

A late Sunday run with Fintan around Claregalway. Another windy day and it was really tough going into the wind even considering we were only running at a nice and relaxed pace. Lots of chat which helped to pass the time and we had soon notched up 17.0kms in 1:12:50 (4:17's).

Legs a little sore after yesterday's race. That wouldn't be the case if I was on top of my training.

On the sporting front there are a few things that warrant a mention. Firstly, Galway got soundly beaten in the replay of the hurling final to Kilkenny. Secondly, the mighty Spurs finally notched up a win at Old Trafford! And finally, the Ryder Cup. This was sporting theatre at its finest. I was glued to it Saturday and Sunday evening. Ian Poulter sparked the revival late Saturday night with some brilliant putting on the final 5 greens. Then on Sunday Europe got off to a great start. The big turning point for me was when Justin Rose beat Phil Mickleson by winning the last 2 holes. From that point on the Yanks looked really scared. Europe ended up winning 14.5 to 13.5 and it was some of the best sport I have seen in a very long time. Incredible scenes.

Oh yeah, 74.0kms for the week...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ballyhaunis 8km

Race number 7 in the Mayo League out at Ballyhaunis - about a 50 minute drive from Galway. I hadn't run the course before and I was looking forward to some kind of hit-out to get back into race-mode and hopefully give me the kick up the backside to get back into proper training.

Arrived in time to register and do a short couple of kms warm-up (I was using my new racing flats straight out of the box). It was a very windy day which wasn't going to help things and I had been pre-warned that there were some nasty hills in the 4th and 5th kms. A poor turnout with only about 100 runners fronting up - can't really explain why as there didn't look to be too many other races on the calendar.

The start was a strange one - I thought the countdown to the start was a dress rehearsal but it turned out it was the real thing and I was left a few rows back before I started my run. I quickly moved through the field to get in second position behind a smaller runner. As we ran through the town it was very quick as the course was steep downhill. After about 400m we took a right turn and it immediately become tougher as we were now running directly into a very strong wind. At around the 1km mark I took the lead with the smaller guy doing the sensible thing and tucking in behind me.

The next couple of kms were tough - the road was dead flat but the wind was a real strength sapper. I was gradually slowing and just before the turn at 3km the guy behind me had moved back into the lead and was pushing on. Another right turn and it was time to get stuck into the hills. I was moving okay but I was losing a little ground on the leader. I kept telling myself to stick with it as I knew the last few kms would be quick. The fifth km was really tough. I felt like walking up (what I hoped) would be the final climb and I kept expecting someone to come up behind me but surprisingly that never happened.

Through 5km and finally some quicker terrain. I was only about 10 seconds down on the leader and I was still confident I could get close. One final right turn and we had a nice flat/downhill stretch back into town with the wind on the back. I ran as hard as I could but didn't seem to be making any inroads into the leader. At the 7km marker I knew the win looked unlikely and I upped the pace as best I could but with no joy. With about 500m remaining we made a left-turn and there was a nice flat stretch up to the finish line. I crossed the line in 26:22 for second place some 11 seconds behind the winner.

Happy enough with that - a strange race as the first km, and the last 3kms felt really comfortable. The 4kms in between though were really tough. There was no in between. Probably a better run that I was expecting given my piss poor preparation. Well done to the winner - Con Doherty. It turns out he is one of the top junior triathletes in the country and with a 5km PB of 15:10 he is no mug at running! Great to be mixing it with a guy over 20 years your junior!

Here are the splits:

1km 3:02
2km 3:21
3km 3:35
4km 3:13 (13:11)
5km 3:40
6km 3:13
7km 3:12
8km 3:06 (13:11)

Total 26:22

I though the 4th km was hilly but the split doesn't suggest that. Perhaps there was some downhill in there that I forgot about? Or perhaps it was the relief of getting out of that headwind? Dunno. A nice finish running the last 3kms in 9:31 and funnily enough even splits...

I finished up with a 4km warm-down. All up 14kms for the day. I couldn't stay for the presentation as I had to be back in Galway by 6pm but there looked to be a very good spread in place for the runners in the clubhouse. A good afternoon out and well worth the trip.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Going off the rails

Today was another struggle. That's it now, I'm going to take it easy on the falling down water for the next few weeks....

A late afternoon run of 9.5kms in 40:47.(4:18's). That's over 3 minutes slower than the same run on Monday!

Racing tomorrow in the Mayo League. Expectation levels are very low...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

To Arthur

Nice easy run this morning with my mate to blow away some of the cobwebs. Total distance 12.2kms in 57:24 (4:42's).

A cold morning, and my mate has obviously spent too long living in Australia as he rugged up like he was running around the North Pole...

More socialising in the evening. Out around Galway visiting some of the city pubs. Lets just say I felt very old...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Then and now

An old mate from Australia and his family were in Galway for a few days so I decided to take a day off and instead eat and drink too much. Good fun. This very person was the reason I started running when I moved to Sydney in 1999.  Weighing in at 15 and a half stone I was in shocking nick and I remember our first run around Lane Cove. I didn't even have proper runners and I did my "run" in a pair of Adidas casual trainers. I managed about 5 minutes of shuffling before I had to start walking...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

12 x 400 off 1 minute

My first quick session since the relay. I am lacking speed so I though I'd try some 400's to see where I'm at. Usual warm-up and down of 3.5kms. I was running solo as the main group now start an hour earlier and I couldn't make the new start time.

A very windy evening. Running down the back straight of the track was like running into a brick wall. Then the last 100m felt like you were being pushed along. Here are the times:

75/72/73/73/72/71/72//70/70/70/71/70

Umm, what can I say. Bloody tough going. The first one was awful, then had to grit the teeth to try and improve. I suppose the last 5 weren't too bad. Difficult to gauge what those times indicate as the conditions made quick running very tough. I could feel the burn in the lungs and I think that's a sign that I've lost a fair bit of fitness.

All up 11.8kms.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Chugging along

Easy run of 9.5kms in 37:46 (3:59's). Felt really comfortable. Training will be interrupted this week as we have 2 sets of overseas visitors. Which is nice.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Licking my wounds

I was on struggle street today. There was a 10km race out at Loughrea that I planned to run if feeling okay but I was far from that. Made the call not to run at midday and instead polished off 4 rounds of bacon sandwiches. Lovely.

I did manage a local wobble later in the afternoon. I ran 11.1kms in 45:53 (4:08's). Not too bad all things considered.

Well done to Donegal who Donegood winning the final of the footy. More heartbreak for Mayo...and Simon Whitlock won the darts capturing his first major title beating Wes Newton 11-5 in the final. I should also mention the snooker (Shanghai Masters). Judd Trump against John Higgins in the final with Judd 7-2 up after the first session (Higgins had hit a 147 break in that session!). Anyway the wizard from Wishaw levelled at 7-7 and went on to win a last frame decider (10-9). An incredible turnaround in form as I watched John play in the Premier league recently and he looked all out at sea...just goes to show that class is permanent...

Back to the running. That's a massive 52.3kms for the week. A much deserved easy week. I'll start back into some proper training starting next week. The week before last was 74.6kms - I think I forgot to mention that at the time.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

41

Happy birthday to me. Where has the last year gone? I followed the advice of Master Sweeney and had a guilt-free day off from running.

A spot of shopping during the day and out in the evening for a meal followed by far too many pints with mates. Home at 2am.

Friday, September 21, 2012

More boring stuff

Pretty easy running week for me. Still in recovery mode so no fast stuff just yet. Same loop as yesterday but I managed to knock a minute off the time for 44:15 for the 11.1kms (3:59's). I think I upped the pace on the faster sections without even realising it.

Bought some new racing flats today - I've had my last ones since February so I was long over-due (I use these for all my races up to the marathon distance, plus all speedwork including track sessions). I got the new Asics DS racers which look to have got a bit of a face-lift. I was left a bit gob-smacked in the shop when another customer mentioned that he had dropped 5 stone in the last year by regular running and healthy eating. Goes to show what incredible results you can achieve in a relatively short space of time.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bit extra

More easy running. Feeling good at the moment - calves a bit sore still but apart from that it's all good. Longer loop today of 11.1kms in 45:23 (4:05's).

Darts on the tele for the weekend (ESPN). Sorted.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ditto

Same run as yesterday - getting quicker though. This time 38:48 (4:05's). The temperature has dropped and my cruising speed improves by at least 10 seconds per km. Coincidence?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dipping the toe in

I tried an easy run today. I felt surprisingly okay - calves still sore but in general I think I've recovered pretty well. I think it just goes to show that the damage sustained to the body during a marathon is all on the last 10km (post "the wall" - which I avoided). After London I didn't feel right for several weeks...

Time 39:12 for 9.5kms (4:08's).

Monday, September 17, 2012

RNR Splits

No running today. Calves very sore so I'll give it another day.

Another night with little sleep - only 6 hours and then up at 3am for the big trip back to Galway.

I've pieced together my splits from the Round Norfolk Relay. Here goes:

5km 17:13
10km 17:55 (1st 10km 35:08)
15km 17:42
20 km 17:47 (2nd 10km 35:29)
25km 17:51
30km 17:37 (3rd 10km 35:28)
31.6km 5:47

Total 1:51:52 (average 3:32/km)

Intresting that although I felt I was slowing towards the end, my 3rd 10km split was slightly quicker than my 2nd 10km block (albeit by only 1 second).

A question I've been asked a lot is what time would I have run if I'd have continued on to the full marathon distance. Impossible to answer really as I never had any intention of doing so. I would say I felt much better at this point than I did in London @ 20 miles. Who knows. It would have been 2hr29 if I could have maintained the pace but there was very little chance of that happening. I think you'd have to add a couple of minutes (at the very least).

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Round Norfolk Relay

I received the baton, exchanged a few pleasantries, started my Garmin, and then raced off up the road. I had my cyclist to the right of me, the support vehicle behind, and despite the road being well lit by the headlights of the car, it felt very lonely as I started the 31.6km journey from Scole to Thetford.

Conditions were absolutely perfect. Very little breeze, a nice cool evening and the feedback I had on the course was that it was very runner friendly. No excuses at hand. I settled into my running and my immediate concern was that I had no idea what pace I was running. There were no distance markers on the course, and I couldn't see the screen of the Garmin, but luckily I'd set the watch to auto-lap so I had the beep to listen out for after I had passed each km. I could then consult my cyclist after each beep and I he would give me the cumulative time split from his watch that he had set at the start of the stage.

I was ticking along nicely and I checked my split for the first time at 4km. I was just under 14 minutes and that indicated sub 3:30/km pace which felt comfortable. There was nothing to see up-front but it felt surprisingly easy to stay focused - and the fact that it was so early in the morning didn't seem to be bothering me. In fact I was quite enjoying it.

Not much to report. The beep of the watch, check the time, maybe a few mouthfuls of water, a gel on the half hour, and then just as we were approaching 10km I could see my first flashing light up front. Slowly but surely I was getting closer. This seemed to really get me fired up and I think I upped the pace without even realising it. The protocol on overtaking was that the vehicle up front would move to the right allowing me and my cyclist through on the inside. I caught the runner, went straight past, and simple as that I had overtaken our main rivals - the Norwich Road Runners.

Through 10km in just over 35 minutes, and feeling good I pressed on. The course wasn't pancake flat, there were certainly long uphill drags, and some nice downhill stretches. I don't recall any short sharp hills and one thing I noticed was that it was very difficult to judge the gradient of the road in the dark. I'm note sure if that was good or not.

By 15km I was still running strongly. My splits were consistent. I think I passed another runner. I should just fill in a few details about the concept of the race. The start times for each team are staggered based on the team's estimate of the total time to complete the entire relay. In simple terms, the slow teams start first and the quick teams start last (we started some 5 hours after the early teams). In theory if the estimated times are accurate, all the teams should complete the race within a short space of time.

Through 16km and I had passed the halfway point of the stage. Detail is a bit lacking, very little chat between myself and the cyclist, another gel on the hour and just trying to keep it going. The kms were still ticking by nicely and at 20km I was still on track (low 70 minutes). I was confident I would run well up to the half marathon point but there was the doubt about the remaining 10km or so.

Around this point my cyclist was swapped. This was a bit eerie as he had to stop, as did the support vehicle. I was left running up the road by myself in the fading light of the headlights as someone else jumped on the bike, got their instructions, and then had to cycle hard to catch me again. It probably only took a couple of minutes but by the end of this I was almost running in total darkness. And then the light was restored when my support vehicle caught me again.

At 21km I was just under 1hr14 so I probably ran the half in 1:14:15 or so. I was planning on 1:15 so I'd put a little bit of time in the bank. I was still feeling okay, and knew I had more quick kms in the legs. Round numbers I had 10km to go and I was on the countdown.

The course at this point seemed tougher. This could be explained by tiredness but it just felt that long sections were all slightly uphill. I knew I'd probably slowed a little, but if I ran a poor km I'd try and bounce back with a quicker next km. I was lucky as just as it felt like I was hitting a bad patch, a flashing light would appear in the distance and that was the motivation to keep things going to run past another team.

At 25km I was still running well but it was getting tougher. The splits were slowing a little which I was expecting, but I had the encouragement of my cyclist who helped spur me on. The lights up front were becoming more frequent which was great to focus on and I knew by how easily I was passing out some runners that I was still running quickly.

I made a call on around 1hr 30 not to take my final gel as my stomach felt a little dodgy. I only had to keep this going for 20 minutes or so and I'd be done. Around this point I missed one of my beeps and that threw me a little as the km seemed to be taking an eternity. But that error was soon realised and almost without warning I had the shout from the car behind that I only had one mile to go.

I really tried to lift the pace at this point. There were some nasty drags in the last mile but was we approached a large roundabout I again caught 2 more teams and then ran as hard as I could up to the changeover area where I handed over the baton to our next runner.

Upon finishing I had to lay down on the grass for several minutes. I checked my watch and I had broken 1hr 52. My official time was 1:51:52 which worked out at 3:32/km pace. My Garmin had my pace a second a km quicker than that but it had measured the course slightly long.

I was escorted to another support vehicle where I put on some clothes and drank plenty of water. I then spent the remainder of the race in the car, leap-frogging to various points of the remaining stages (usually stage changeovers) to support the other runners. I should add that upon getting to the changeover area for stage 14 I was feeling very ill. I think the gels were sitting in my stomach and it wasn't long before I was having a good heave. Straight away I felt a good bit better and after drinking some coke I felt okay - I suppose as well as can be expected on a night with no sleep having run the guts of 20 miles.

Our team finished at 8:22am. It had taken our 17 runners 20h 22 to complete the 197.2 miles (average pace 3:51/km). We had a big group breakfast at 9am (full English) then it was time for the presentation at 11am.

Awards were made to the winners of each stage. I had posted the quickest time on stage 12 so it was nice to pick up a stage win (in total there were 58 teams competing). I had also broken the masters course record for that stage by almost 8 minutes (the senior record for the stage is 1:48:49 so I was way off that). Additional awards were made for the best junior, senior and masters performances of the day (based on age gradings). No joy for me but City of Norwich were certainly scooping lots of trophies (my run rated 8th out of of the 986 runners who took part in the RNR based on age grading).

Then on to the final awards - the winning teams. Our team was entered into the club class which was seen as the premier award within the RNR. A club team had to comprise of a mixture of female, male and masters runners (a minimum of 5 females and 5 masters out of 17 team members). This award was kept to the very end and our brilliant team performance was rewarded by winning this class - made all the more special by me being nominated to collect the trophy on stage on behalf of all of our team-mates. A little nerve racking as the trophy stood about 3 foot tall and I wasn't sure I would be able to lift it!

It turns out our team had posted the quickest time of the day by over 50 minutes beating all of the other race categories (open, masters and female). To beat the open teams was quite an achievement as these teams would be predominantly made up of senior males.

All in all a great experience. A truly unique event which I really enjoyed and I have to thank CoNAC for giving me the opportunity to run. I'm glad I ran well to warrant my selection and hopefully it won't be the last time! Thanks also to the support crew. The logistics behind this race are amazing - to get 17 team runners together is quite an achievement. Making sure they are at the start of their respective stages when the start time is fluid takes some doing. Well done RP and the crew, you did a great job. I think the runners have it easy - all they have to do is turn up and run!

The finish of the day went something like this. Home by 1:30pm. Lunch at 2pm. In pub by 3pm. Back from pub by 8pm and in bed by 9pm (still no sleep by this point). Job done.

I'll no doubt add bits and pieces to this post as I think of them over the next few days. I need to add my splits for a start. But for now that can wait...

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Travel, eat, rest, eat, travel

Up at 6am. A car journey, a flight and 2 trains later and I was in Norwich - all up just over 6 hours. Straight into the city for a pasta lunch, then I found a bed to try and get some sleep on in the afternoon whilst listening to Five Live on the radio.

Porridge around 6pm (2 bowls of), and then I got all my gear packed. I was picked from the city centre just after 10pm for the 20 minute drive out to Bungay which was the start of stage 11 of the Round Norfolk Relay.

Upon arrival you immediately got a feel for the event. The sight of runners entering the changeover point accompanied by a cyclist and the flashing light of their support vehicle. Surprisingly when we got there we watched about 12 teams coming through in quick succession. This bunching I was told was quite unusual as the teams are normally much more spread out.

I was starting to get quite nervous which was unusual for me. I think the team factor played a big part of this, plus it being pitch dark when there were no runners or cars on the road. I was asking a few questions to the support crew but this just seemed to make me more nervous so I decided it was best to stay quiet and try and stay calm.

Another lift from a support vehicle from stage 11 to stage 12 which was the start of the stage that I was to run. I was expecting to start some time after 1:30am so there was a fair bit of waiting around which I did in the warmth of the car. Tension levels were continuing to rise. Then shortly after 1:30am I got the call that our runner was about a mile a way so I stripped off and made my way down to the changeover zone waiting for the baton to appear...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Turning the legs over

I did 30 minutes on the mountain bike in the evening to loosen off the legs.

A few beers and an early night as I'm travelling to Norwich early in the morning.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Three-peat

Same run for the 3rd time this week. Getting slower each time - this time knocking off the 9.5kms in 41:26 (4:22's).

That's it - no more running until the race Sunday morning.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A cunning plan

The same run as Monday. Perfect conditions again and this time I was a little slower covering the 9.5kms in 39:11 (4:07's).

Lots of time to think about the run on the weekend and what to do pacing-wise. I'm now thinking of trying to cover the first 13.1 miles in around 1:15. Then at this point I'll no doubt be feeling like shite, will collect a piano to carry on the back, then limp home. Sounds perfect.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

6 x 4 minutes off 1 minute

One last session of quicker stuff before the big race. A lap of the pitches for warm-up and then for a change we were to also use the pitches for the main session (instead of the track).

A good group in attendance with lots of new faces. I didn't want to push it tonight and was content to cruise around. The route we had marked out would have us passing the start well within the 4 minutes and the instruction was to start a second lap until the 4 minutes was up.

Gearoid, Fintan and myself took turns leading out each 4 minute effort and I was feeling really good. Again another cool evening with very little wind which suited me down to the ground. The back half of the course had us running along a very stony path down by the river which wasn't great wearing racing flats. Then there was a nasty 30 second climb up to the final turn which marked the completion of the lap. I was generally lapping in about 3:30 which meant a further 30 seconds running before the 4 minutes was up. Then a short jog back to the start in the 60 seconds recovery to do it all again.

I had no idea of pace at the time but I would have said around 3:20/km pace. It turns out I was averaging around 3:12 to 3:13/km pace. Very happy with that as I wasn't giving it my all, plus the session is quite a tricky one off a short recovery.

I did my warm-down also on the pitches. A bit of a guess-timate but I reckon it was around 14.5kms for the day.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Chimneys

The temperature seems to have dropped today. Much colder. Whatever summer we may have had seems to now be over. I could smell the open fires burning on my run for the first time since the winter months...

Being cooler I automatically felt a lot more comfortable today. I covered 9.5km in 38:39 (4:04's) and it felt very easy.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Gallimh Abu

I have one final race pencilled in the calendar and that race is next weekend (Sep 15th/16th). I've been asked by my UK club (City of Norwich AC) to run in a quite unique relay event. Details can be found here.

For my troubles I'm down to run stage 12 from Scole to Thetford. Just the 19.67 miles! And I'm likely to be running at around 1am Sunday morning with only a couple of cyclists and a 4 wheel drive for company! Not forgetting that as this is a relay event you have to carry a baton the whole way round!

With this race in mind I decided I should at least get one decent long run in. Out the door just gone 1pm and I was immediately greeted with a nice heavy rain shower. I ran an out-an-back course up to Oranmore, then on to Renville running most of the Boston Scientific 5km loop before turning for home. I was running into the wind for most of the first hour but it was a little easier the second half with the wind (and rain) on the back.

I had to add on an extra loop as I approached Claregalway and I did so by running the majority of the Claregalway 5km course. I arrived home tired and wet after clocking up 28.4kms in 2:00:37 (4:15/km pace).

Job done. That's about all the preparation I can muster for next weekend. I'd still like to think I'm in decent half marathon shape and the extra 6 or so miles I'll just have to pull out of the bag on the day.

A total of 90.3kms for the week.

The title of this post refers to the Galway/Kilkenny hurling final that took place today. It finished in a draw (19-19). Exciting to watch and a replay now scheduled in 3 weeks time...

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Irishtown 8km

I decided on another race today. Originally I had planned to run the 10km in Manorhamilton but the 5 hour round trip was a bit too much. Instead I settled on a new 8km race in Irishtown which is just on the Galway/Mayo border and only 40 minutes up the road for me.

Preparation wasn't text book. See yesterday's post. Upon arrival and registration I had about 10 minutes for a warm-up which I did with John Byrne. Then it was time to get started.

Going back a bit, the road leading into Irishtown gave me a good clue as to what the course was to be like. I had driven the last couple of kms of the course and it was constant ups and downs. It was quite warm and I was just looking to blow out the cobwebs after last week's half and at the same time sweat out the night before.

I hit the front and started to push on. I was in the lead and despite running quickly and I felt like I had another gear if required. By 1km I had worked away from John and decided to keep pushing on. The kms seemed to tick along nicely and the course didn't seem too taxing. That said you don't tend to notice the drags when running well. By halfway I must have opened up a good lead and without warning I started to struggle.

The next couple of kms were a real grind. I think there were a few hills but that was only part of the problem, the body didn't seem willing. Slowly but surely I could hear John getting closer to me and by 5km he had caught me. No messing from John, he went straight past and by 6km I'd say he already had a 10 second lead.

Around this point we had made the last turn for home and I knew from the drive in there were some nasty hills. I had one final throw of the dice to see if I could close the gap on the first hill but with no joy. So I pushed on as best I could crossing the finish line in second place in a time of 26:22 (John ran 26:04).

Overall I was quite pleased with my performance today. I was happy with the time on a tough course and the second half slowdown was probably due to my poor preparation. Well done to John who looks to be going from strength to strength - great to see.

I finished up by running the course again with a few of the Mayo runners. Not at a sluggish pace either. That gives me around 17kms for the day.

All in all a really enjoyable day. The whole town seemed to be behind the race and there was a really nice feel to the event. Lots of credit must go to the organisers and with over 200 runners taking part lots of money was raised for the local hospice.

Here are the splits:

1km 3:13
2km 3:13
3km 3:13
4km 3:18 (12:57)
5km 3:19
6km 3:25
7km 3:24
8km 3:17 (13:25)

Total 26:22

Friday, September 07, 2012

Darts Match

Another easy run of 9.5kms in 39:18 (4:08's).

We played a challenge darts match tonight with another local team. I won both my pairs and singles but it was more of a piss-up with the darts playing second fiddle. Home at 3am with a belly full of Guinness.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Claremorris Double

I had to drive to Claremorris today to take the car in for a service. I had 2 hours to kill so that was my window for the daily run. Not knowing the area I decided to run the Claremorris 5 mile course used in the Mayo League. I started from the lights cutting the distance down to 7.4kms. I completed the first "lap" in 32:49 and then completed it a second time in 32:31. Total 1:05:20 for 14.8kms (4:25's).

A really tough course. Probably made a bit worse today by a strong wind.