Monday, April 30, 2012

New start

An evening local loop to sweat out yesterday's excess. I felt surprisingly good today - the legs almost felt normal and I seemed to be travelling well. Time 46:18 for 11.1kms (4:10's).

No speed sessions for at least another week - just easy running to keep me ticking over.

The Galway 5km series starts tomorrow night. I have a spot but will only race a couple of these this year (one quick one - maybe Craughwell, plus my local one in Claregalway). I may head out and watch tomorrow to cheer on the lads. There should be some good battles at the pointy end. Good luck to all taking part!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Darts finals

We met in the local pub at 3pm for an hours practise before heading into town. Our cup semi started about 5ish. In the pairs I should have won but couldn't hit the winning double. In the singles I won but should have lost. Swings and roundabouts. We ended up losing 5-3 overall and it was a case of what could have been. Next year!

Back to the local and finished drinking at 11pm. That's 3 huge Sunday sessions now in the last 3 weeks. I'm getting too old for all this. Time for a new challenge!

No running today. Only 20.6kms for the week...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Back on the horse

No running all week. You seem to have much more time when you don't train and needless to say that time is spent eating and drinking too much. I'm not feeling guilty though as I feel I deserve a bit of a blow-out.

Today I met up with Fintan for an easy run. I felt fine for about 20 minutes then the legs became progressively more sore. By the end I was back in the closing stages of the marathon. A total of 20.6kms in 1:30:23 (4:23/km pace). Clearly I'm by no way recovered from the marathon and will take another day off tomorrow and see how I feel.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


A few thank yous. Here goes:

-The good wife for putting up with my daily training
- The in-laws for the baby-sitting whilst doing my lunchtime runs
- Owen, Barry and Fintan who were my training partners for the last few months
- Matt from the Harriers for the training schedule
- Conor for the massages
- Plus all the support I've had via text, email, Facebook and through this blog. Very humbling.

No running until at least Saturday then I'll see how I feel.

I played in the darts singles finals tonight. I wasn't expecting much as I hadn't played for 2 weeks, plus I was knackered. To make matters worse I didn't get to play my game until around midnight by which time I could barely keep my eyes open. Needless to say I lost 3-1. Home at 2am...

More darts on Sunday - the semi-final and final of the team cup.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Some Stats

Here is a summary of the mile splits:

Mile 1 - 5:37
Mile 2 - 5:38
Mile 3 - 5:25
Mile 4 - 5:44
Mile 5 - 5:34 (27:58)
Mile 7 - 11:35
Mile 8 - 5:37
Mile 9 - 5:35
Mile 10 - 5:42 (28:29)
Mile 11 - 5:36
Mile 12 - 5:49
Mile 13 - 5:42
Mile 14 - 5:32
Mile 15 - 5:35 (28:14)
Mile 16 - 5:55
Mile 17 - 5:49
Mile 18 - 5:46
Mile 20 - 11:33 (29:03)
Mile 22 - 11:52
Mile 23 - 5:57
Mile 24 - 5:50
Mile 25 - 6:13 (29:52)
Mile 26 - 6:02
Mile 26.2 - 1:17

Total 2:30:55

These are the official splits from the results in metric:

5km 17:16
10km 17:48
15km 17:36
20km 17:43
25km 17:31
30km 17:57
35km 18:16
40km 18:36
42.2km 8:12

Total 2:30:55

Here is the training volume in the 12 weeks up to and including the marathon:

Week 1 - 85.8kms
Week 2 - 119.6kms
Week 3 - 126.1kms
Week 4 - 112.3kms
Week 5 - 124.7kms
Week 6 - 109.3kms
Week 7 - 84.0kms
Week 8 - 115.9kms
Week 9 - 104.1kms
Week 10 - 103.0kms
Week 11 - 98.5kms
Week 12 - 67.9kms

Total - 1,251.2kms (average 104.3kms per week)

As a comparative, for the same period in the build-up to Dublin 2010 I averaged 90.9kms so a big increase in volume for me. The result sort of blows the theory that more is less but I believe there are reasons behind this. Umm.

Here is one photo I found of me being chased by a big blue bus. This must have been in the second half of the race as I'm running solo:

Sunday, April 22, 2012

London Marathon 2012

Up early for breakfast. Two portions of rice pudding, a bagel and a couple of cups of coffee. We had a 10 minute walk to the train station at Nunhead but upon arrival we discovered the line was closed for engineering works! A momentary increase in stress levels but thankfully we quickly found a cabbie who dropped us off as close as we could get to Blackheath.

The walk up to the Blue start area was a little daunting. The temperature seemed much hotter than advertised (max 14 degrees), and when we got closer to the start it was like being at an outdoor music festival. Thousands of people everywhere milling around whilst waiting for the main act.

Over to the Championship enclosure where we had the luxury of our own changing area and place to warm-up. The usual last minute checks - putting on Vaseline, a quick energy gel, a few mouthfuls of water, a final visit to the toilet, then time to get rid of the bag and do a quick warm-up.

I ran a very slow 800m or so. I've never been one for doing a long warm-up for a marathon - it's hard enough without handicapping yourself further. The short out-and-back warm-up was great - but there was a noticeable breeze on the course. Not perfect conditions but you'd take them pretty much every time.

Soon we were being called towards the start. Slowly we edged forwards until we were directly behind the elites. As it happened I was on the far left of the start and I found myself directly behind Marty Dent and Scott Westcott - 2 elite Aussies. I wished Marty well and then we were underway.

A little bit of congestion as you found your racing line but basically straight into your running. I was wearing a stopwatch (no Garmin) so there was the usual apprehension of receiving the feedback from the first mile marker and I settled into a pace that felt fast but comfortable.

Through the first mile in 5:37. Happy with that and a big sigh of relief. Target pace or thereabouts and there were signs that a nice group was forming. The magnitude of this race is like no other I have been involved in. The crowds were huge - and you find yourself running through constant waves of sound. It's hard not to get carried away but I didn't want to repeat my mistake of 2009 so I was trying to keep a lid on things.

The next few miles passed without incident (mile 2 in 5:38 and a quicker downhill 3rd mile in 5:25). Perhaps a little too fast but I was in a massive group of around 25 runners. Perhaps too big as you found yourself jockeying for position every now and then - especially when running through the water stations. Talking of which, my strategy was to take on a little water at every stop, and due to the heat I was also throwing water over the body to cool down.

I don't really recall any detail from the course at this stage - I was tucked into the group and we knocked out the next couple of miles in 5:44 and 5:34 respectively. Still inside target pace and feeling very comfortable. I had a brief conversation with a guy next to me who was running in an RAF vest. He mentioned his target time was 2:28 to 2:30 (as was mine) - perfect. To my surprise a few guys went off the front of the group and were then left running by themselves. To me that didn't seem like a very good idea and I remained in group company. Another gel at 5 miles and I was to repeat this every 5 miles at 10, 15 and 20.

I somehow managed to miss the 6th mile - not easy to do as they were very clearly marked. So a bit more of a wait until mile 7 but the split of 11:35 for the previous 2 miles was again about right. Continued jostling through the water stations but if anyone missed a drink there were always runners willing to pass on their bottles. Again detail is lacking but I continued to run well through miles 8 (5:37), 9 (5:35) and 10 (5:42) which had me at 56:27 for 10 miles.

The group had been whittled down a bit which wasn't a bad thing; I was still feeling good but it was still early days. I went into blinker mode and decided to re-evaluate the race at halfway. The next 3 miles were again notched off at target pace going through mile 11 in 5:36, mile 12 in 5:49 and then mile 13 in 5:42. It was during the 13th mile that you get to cross Tower Bridge - an incredible experience with the deafening crowd cheering you on. Then a right turn to head towards Canary Wharf and then the feedback of the half marathon split of 1:14:10. Absolutely spot on.

At this point it seemed like the group evaporated around me. A few guys went off the front, I felt like I was still running well but I was left in no mans land. The next couple of mile splits confirmed I was still running well reaching mile 14 in 5:32 and mile 15 in 5:35. Too quick if anything and I was left a little rattled.

Then time for a bad patch. The next couple of miles I continued to run solo and I was starting to do it tough. I knew I'd hit trouble but didn't expect it to be this early. I was really having to grit it out and I knew I was slowing. Sure enough the times confirmed this with mile 16 reached in 5:55 and mile 17 in 5:49. It was make or break time.

To my surprise I started to feel a little better. I knew I'd slowed but I was starting to overtake people. This was a good feeling and helped to spur me on. I wanted to run another mile at target pace and take it from there and I was moving in the right direction at mile 18 with a split of 5:46. Come on, get to 20 miles and see what you can do...

I was still running well. The effort level was up there but you expect that in the last third of the marathon. I glanced down at my watch and realised I'd missed another mile marker - not sure if that was a good thing or not but soon I was running through the 20 mile marker with a split of 11:33 for the previous 2 miles. A little slow but still within sub 2:30 pace.

The cumulative time at 20 miles read 1:53:44. I still felt that sub 2:30 was there for the taking. If I could run sub 6 minute miles from here I was in with a shout. The legs were very heavy and I was over-heating but the breathing felt good and the mind was still strong. This is what I'd trained for in the last 3 months and I was in my element.

Another missed mile marker. Just keep this going - still running solo but I must have overtaken at least 10 runners between miles 15 and 22 without being overtaken myself. That was great but the time was ebbing away. At mile 22 I had run 11:52 for the last couple of miles and I was really hanging on. I tried a final throw of the dice through the next couple of miles and managed to chalk up 2 more sub 6 minute miles: 5:57 and 5:50 respectively. Still there or thereabouts but any time in the bank was disappearing very quickly.

The last couple of miles down the Embankment were very tough. I felt like I was maintaining the same pace of the previous few miles but a couple of runners passed me with ease timing their run for home perfectly. I passed the 40km clock and knew straight away that I wasn't capable of running close to 7 minutes for the last 2.2kms to give me the sub 2:30 and that seemed to give me the excuse to back off slightly. Mile 25 with my slowest mile of the race of 6:13, with a little improvement as I hit mile 26 in 6:02. I was going to enjoy the finish and I brought out the now standard aeroplane as I weaved down the finishing chute to cross the line in 2:30:55.

After crossing the line I was in bits. I made my way over to one of the metal railings and spent the next 5 minutes doubled over dry-retching. I eventually forced down some water and hobbled over to have my photo taken and gather my bag.

I've had a bit of time now to reflect on the race and whilst I was obviously disappointed to miss out on the sub 2:30 by only a small margin, I had a great overall placing of 61st and I also managed 4th in the 40-44 age group (3rd Brit). The race itself was an incredible experience but I just couldn't nail the latter half of the race as I did in Dublin in 2010. My theory on that was the heat - as mentioned earlier the conditions were generally good but perhaps a little too hot to suit me personally. Nit picking really and when you hear of the tragedy that happened to the young girl at mile 25 it really puts things into context. Claire Squires - may you Rest In Peace.

My wingman Owen had a super run of 2:39:20 for a 3 minute PB. Similar to me he struggled from 20 miles in whilst being on 2:37 pace. Still a fantastic effort and much deserved. Well done in spades!

More stats, photos and thank yous to follow. I'll leave you with a sampler of a photo I found on the BBC website of me crossing Tower Bridge. I'm the one wearing the bright red and yellow stripes of my UK club City of Norwich:

Saturday, April 21, 2012


We travelled from Shannon to Heathrow. Then got the tube to the house we had rented for the weekend (in Brockley). Then straight to the race expo to pick up our race numbers.

Lots of eating all day. Snacking constantly and a big pasta meal in the evening. In bed by 9:30pm ready for the big day.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Early Night

My last training run. I trotted out a very easy run of 7.7kms in 32:55. Feeling good.

An early night in preparation for travel to London in the morning.

Barry who has been struggling with an injury the last couple of weeks today made the difficult call that he would not be fit to race on the weekend. An extreme case of bad luck. Myself, Owen and Barry have done the bulk of our training together in the last 3 months and sadly no reward for Barry for all the hard work and effort he has put in. Next time mate, next time...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Race Strategy

Rest day today. No running and no beer..

My best chance to duck under 2hr30 will be to replicate my plan in Dublin. Try and get to half-way in good shape somewhere around 1:14 low and then hang on. The big thing, and I'd say this is where luck comes into the race is to get in a group. I can't stress how important that is - it makes the execution of the race so much easier if you have others around you to work with. London gets big numbers so I'm hoping there will be a few like minded people shooting for sub 2hr30.

Pacing required - 3:33/km or 5:43/mile.

The big lesson learnt from last time I raced London is to not get too carried away at the start. Easily done as it's like being at the Olympics. Crowd everywhere cheering you on. Don't run your race in the first 10km...slow and up the throttle at 20 miles if you have anything left.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Very short long run. A total of 7.8kms in 33:18 (4:16's). It served no purpose other than to turn the legs over and stop you going stir crazy.

Doubt and paranoia at the moment. The doubt isn't troubling me as I know I've trained more than any of my previous races. The paranoia is controllable - you know what I'm talking about: "I coughed, I must be getting sick" or "I'm going to take these stairs very easy so as to avoid tripping up and breaking my leg". Madness.

Race strategy tomorrow. It's looking like another Dublin job...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bad weather

Very cold, windy and wet. That put pay to track as I didn't want to risk getting a cold - instead favouring the treadmill. The session was 3 x 1 mile off 90 seconds recovery. I did 2km warm-up/down and knocked out the miles at 10km pace (3:15/km pace). Sweating buckets as per the norm indoors. All up 9.4km. No niggles which is really pleasing.

I pulled the pin on darts favouring an early night. Me and the pub have parted company until Sunday afternoon...

Starting to think a lot about the race now. Where has the last 3 months gone? My race strategy will be revealed in the next few days. What to do?

Monday, April 16, 2012

I like these easy weeks

Nothing today. Just trying to recover after yesterday and the 5 hour session in the pub. I considered going for a gentle jog but that's about as close as I got.

This week I'll take it really easy. A few intervals tomorrow, easy running Wednesday and Friday with rest days in between. Similar to my last week before Dublin 2010 which seemed to work.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Winding Down

Out very early this morning. A very cold start to the day, but a beautiful morning nonetheless. Ran with Fintan and Owen and we knocked off 22.2kms in 1:40:20 (4:31's). I can't say I was feeling great but at least it's done.

Then home for a quick shower and back into town to watch the Rotterdam marathon. A good crowd in the Kings Head and the leaders were setting a cracking pace going through halfway in under WR pace. The inevitable slow-down happened in the second half of the race - hampered by blustery and cold conditions. The first 2 runners still clocked sub 2:05, with Gary just missing out on Olympic qualification running 2:17. An excellent run in the circumstances which he should be very proud of.

Then in the evening I went out to see the Spurs get hammered. Not good. So I got hammered also. Great preparation only one week out from the marathon...

A total of 98.5kms for the week.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Varying the pace

Today was a total of 12 miles broken up as follows:

2 warm-up
2 @ marathon pace
1 @ 10km pace
2 relaxed
2 @ marathon pace
1 @ 10km pace
2 warm-down

It was very sunny and bright but was also windy. I ran local and cheated so that I had the wind directly behind for both the miles at 10km pace. That was fine though it meant I had 2 nasty efforts into the wind running at marathon pace. Robbing Peter to pay Paul and all that.

The run was continuous (no breaks). The times for the quicker miles were:



All up 19.3km in 1:17:40 (average 4:01/km pace). Still not on top form though I feel better than I did yesterday. A few beers tonight and I'll be flying again.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lesson learnt

A rest day today. Still not feeling the greatest - that's what happens if you go 3 days without booze...

A tough enough session tomorrow then time to really take the foot off the gas.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Out of petrol

Another run at marathon pace. This time only 4 miles. Similar to last time I handicapped myself by running into the wind with the hills in all the wrong places. I never felt good at any point in this run and I feel like I'm still carrying a bit of a bug or something. Better to have this now than in a weeks time.

Times for the miles were:


I was working as if running at 10km pace and no way I could maintain it today.

A total of 13.8kms in 54:53 (average pace 3:59/km).

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sunset Run

The title makes it sound better than it was. You couldn't actually see the sun as it was covered by all the clouds. It just slowly got dark. I finished along the N17 with the street lights for company.

All up 16.8km in 1:12:18 (4:18's).

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Another track session. It didn't sound too bad - 4 x 400, 18 minutes tempo, 4 x 400. One minute recovery between the 400's, then 2 minutes recovery before the tempo; 3 minutes after the tempo.

Conditions were good enough. A bit of breeze around and nice and dry. I rattled out the session as follows:

18:39 for 5.6km (I went through 5km in 16:36)

With warm-up (3.7km) and warm-down (2.0km) it's another 14.5km for the week. I didn't feel particularly great but it's another session in the bank. Tick it off and move on...

I bumped into Gary who is running the Rotterdam marathon on Sunday and wished him the best of luck. The target is sub 2hr15 which will get him the Olympic qualifying standard. To put that time into context you need to be running at sub 3:12/km pace which is quicker than my 10km pace! Come on Gary!

League darts was cancelled but we still got together for a game. I had to play in a mini-round robin to decide what players from the pub go forward for the end of season singles competition. I played 3 games, won 3 games and easily progressed. I played well considering I haven't practiced recently. The taper must have done me good...

Monday, April 09, 2012

Easter Monday

I wasn't feeling great today. One of those days where you feel like you are on the verge of coming down with something. Some people would take the day off, however my way of thinking is go for a run and sweat it out (no it wasn't a hangover - perhaps too much chocolate!).

That seemed to work - an easy 11.1kms in 46:13 (4:10's). Felt much better afterwards.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Only 2 weeks to go

Starting to scale back the longer runs now. Today we were down for an easy 2 hours and ran from Dangan, out to Fervo, then back to Dangan cutting short near the end as we didn't want to over-do it. All up 28.4kms in 2:06:11 (4:27's).

A good crowd today which really helps pass the time. I felt pretty good throughout after yesterday's race and even tried some of the gel I intend to use on race day.

That's 103.0kms for the week. I've been averaging over 100kms per week for the last 13 weeks now so it has been metronome like consistency. Starting to think a bit about the race now. Really looking forward to it.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Colemanstown 10km

The race in Galway was selected purely on the grounds that it would be less time away from home. The course was advertised as being fast and flat and I wanted to test myself to see what shape I was in. I had no idea what time to expect/target but in speaking to Owen I decided I'd be very happy if I could dip under 33 minutes.

A field of around 175 runners lined up for the start. I'd done a 1.6km warm-up and no strides, and with the start slightly delayed it allowed a bit of time to relax and chat to the other runners. Conditions looked good enough - we were going to cop a bit of wind in places and to me it felt a little muggy but all in all pretty good.

The race was underway and I went straight into the lead. I wanted to push the start and I was a little surprised as I took note of my split for the first km - a 3:07 - and I was feeling good. I concentrated on keeping the legs motoring and unusually there was nobody for company - no lead car, bike or motorcycle - just me in time trial mode with empty road ahead. The second km was again quick (3:12) but the wind was probably assisting at this stage. The road remained very flat and the km markers were appearing quickly - the 3rd km covered in 3:14. I recall the 4th km was a bit tougher - I think we were slowly turning more into the wind, plus it seemed to be a very gradual uphill gradient. I knew I'd slowed a bit and after taking the first left hand turn off the main road I had reached the 4th km with a split of 3:20.

My thinking was that I'd probably paid for the quick start and it was going to be a tough run home. However I managed to pick the pace up again to reach the halfway point with a split of 3:15. With those splits I realised I was in with a shout of a PB. Just keep this going. The next km was the toughest of the race. Very exposed, slight uphill and running into the wind. Again I knew I'd slowed and sure enough I'd run the slowest km yet (a 3:22). Like before though I'd bounced straight back with another turn of speed to record a time of 3:15 for the 7th km. I'd decided to take note of my cumulative time at 8km then decide if a PB was possible. I think it was midway through the 8th km that we took another left turn and suddenly I felt a lot more comfortable as the wind was on the back.

At 8km I had run a 3:19 km and I was left fumbling with my watch to get the display to show me my total race time. I quickly calculated that I was in with a good PB shout and decided to really push for home. Thankfully this seemed like the quickest section of the course and I quickly reached 9km with a split of 3:09. I felt strong and kicked on as best I could. The last km was a bit tougher as there were a couple of turns, plus a slight uphill as we approached the finish. But nothing was going to upset my rhythm today and I managed to cross the finish line in a time of 32:22 recording a final km split of 3:09.

Very pleased with that. Finally I've broken out of the 32:40's! A 19 second PB and I'd also broken the course record in the process. Plus another win! Good to see that all the training is paying dividends and this has given me lots of confidence for the marathon in 2 weeks time.

I finished up with a 3.2km warm-down and that gives me 14.8kms for the day. I guess I'll have to have a few beers tonight to celebrate. Still getting quicker at the ripe old age of forty!

A quick thank you to the organisers. These country races are superb - a very friendly atmosphere and again well organised. The course is super quick and I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to target a quick 10km time. I don't think there would be a quicker 10km option in Galway. But then I'd have to say that after today!

Friday, April 06, 2012

More rest

It's important to have these rest days to give the body a chance to absorb all the training and recuperate. I'll probably have 2 rest days next week, and maybe 3 in the final week before the marathon.

So today I did very little except chase the kids around the garden. A few beers in the evening along with chocolate Angel Delight and a family size bag of crisps. Nice. I'm often asked about drinking and training. I've tried tee-total training, and having a few beers and I'm of the firm belief that the latter does you no harm. If anything I find it helps you to relax and is a good reward after a tough session. More often than not I will have a few beers the night before a race. Low and behold you sleep better and wake up refreshed and ready to go. Works for me but probably wouldn't recommend it for everyone. Sports scientists and nutritionists will no doubt give you a million reasons why you shouldn't follow my lead. Oh well...

I'm keen to race on the weekend as a final tune-up. There are two 10km options tomorrow - one in Galway and one one in Mayo. The Mayo race would be a better standard (which I would favour) but would involve a 2 hour round trip. What to do...

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Marathon pace not comforable...

A 10 miler today with 5 miles at marathon pace in the middle. Still quite windy and foolishly I started the 5 quicker miles running into the wind. I never felt comfortable and was having to push hard just to get inside my target time of 5:40's. The penultimate mile contained a good 600m climb (still into the wind), then the last mile I was assisted by a nice downhill stretch. Here are the mile times:

5:32/5:37/5:37/5:50/5:26 (total 28:02)

There are reasons why it doesn't feel comfortable running at MP at the moment. I recall feeling the same in the build up to Dublin. Magically on the day it will all click into place - at least that's what I keep telling myself.

All up 16.0kms in 1:02:40 (ave 3:55's).

In the evening I had a good massage which lasted well over an hour. Each massage seems to be less painful than the last - a good sign (caveat - except my calves which were screaming). Rest tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012


Still feeling tired. Probably still a hangover from the half. I rattled out 17.4kms in 1:15:32 (4:20/km). Again very windy and a sense of going through the motions. One more session to survive tomorrow, then a much needed massage, with a rest day planned for Friday.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Windy at track

The temperatures have really dropped again. It was well below 10 degrees and the wind had picked up considerably. It was going to be a tough one.

The session was 3 x 2 miles. Sounds easy enough but that's still 24 laps of running around the track. But at least we had the luxury of 90 seconds recovery!

After a 3.7km warm-up myself and Owen lined up for the session. The goal was to run it at 10km pace so that's around 3:15-3:18/km pace which equates to 5:14-5:19/mile. That target went out of the window after the first few laps - a very strong headwind on the back straight (complete opposite to the normal wind direction) and whilst you did get some tail-wind on the home straight, the sheltered nature of that part of the track by no means made up for the time lost running into the wind.

I gritted out the session as best I could but the legs felt dead (breathing was fine). Times were as follows:


Not too bad and I'd say the wind accounted for a few seconds each lap. Bloody tough mentally the 8 lappers it has to be said.

Finishing up with 2.0km warm-down for 15.3kms all up.

Darts in the evening. A win in the doubles and a loss in the singles. Both games went to a deciding leg and both times I was throwing second. I played well enough in the pairs and hit the winning double; the singles was a very close game. The standard of darts was very good in the decider. I had hit 140, 125, 94 and a few lower scores and I had set myself up nicely leaving double 12. My opponent then took out 120 to win the match. Close but no cigar. And to make matters worse we lost 5-4 overall! Alcohol was the winner...

Monday, April 02, 2012

Recovery Run

An easy run around my local loop. The legs were not feeling great but the time wasn't too bad covering 11.1kms in 45:47 (4:07's). One more decent week then it's taper time...

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Connemara Half Marathon 2012

Disappointing. I couldn't even manage one pre-race night of no beer...perhaps it helped?

Anyway I was up early to get the bus from Galway out to Leenane which was the starting point for the half. The journey of around an hour soon passed and it gave you a good idea to assess the terrain as we drove some of the course. Rolling hills and warm sunshine were the order of the day.

Upon arrival I was to get an appreciation of the magnitude of this event. There were runners and walkers everywhere waiting patiently for the 12pm start. I took the chance to get ready - sort out race number, timing chip, get changed, put my bag in the truck and then after a slow 2 mile warm-up it was time to make my way to the start.

A few familiar faces at the start and after a bit of chat we were all underway. I went straight into the lead and after crossing the bridge in town, then taking a left turn, it was time to tackle the first hill. I'd decided to take the hills easy enough, and then run the flatter sections of the course at marathon pace (around 5:40 per mile).

The first hill was a tough one and must have lasted well over a mile. I had already opened up a decent gap on the chasing runners and upon reaching the summit I settled into a nice rhythm which felt very comfortable. The course itself was point-to-point finishing out at Maam Cross which meant that most of the running today was directly into a breeze. To make matters worse, the temperatures were hot and you could really feel the heat of the sunshine as most of the course was very exposed.

The scenery was pretty spectacular - hills, valleys and water views and as picturesque a race as I can recall. The terrain was undulating with constant slight uphills and downhills. At the 3 mile mark I took on some water which I would never normally do for a half - that was a measure of how hot it was. I concentrated on following the lead bike and at around 5 miles there was a nasty climb, followed by a steep descent which really had you working.

At 6 miles I took on more water. My splits seemed consistent and I tried to stay as relaxed as possible and enjoy the race. I was overtaking walkers who had started an hour earlier, plus a few of the marathon runners who were on sub 3 hour pace who were running the same route. This at least gave you something to focus on. More water at 9 miles and barring any disaster I had the race in the bag. After taking a right turn it was time to tackle the last hill and it was a beauty lasting the guts of 2 miles. I decided not to push too hard, and upon reaching the summit it was then a very nice descent of around a mile, followed by a fairly flat last mile to the finish line.

I really enjoyed the last section as there were lots of spectators and a good atmosphere down at the finishing chute. I crossed the line in a gun time of 1:14:30 to give me a comfortable victory. A good win when you consider there were over 2,000 runners in the race.

So today I managed to tick all the boxes. I ran exactly the time I was after and also won the race in the process. I finished up with a slow 3 mile warm-down with Enda who had a great run to secure second place.

A great event which is superbly organised and is very unique in its nature. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for something different but it's not a course to go for a time on!

Just a quick mention to the guy who won the ultra event (39 miles or 1.5 marathons). His name is Georgio Calcaterra and he is the current 100km World Champion. He seemed to be doing it easy knocking off the 39 miles in 3:56:56. That's 3 by 1:19 half marathons back-to-back. Incredible.

All up 29.1 kms for the day and 104.1kms for the week. A few beers to be had now.

Here's the first photo (thanks to Jane Walsh). The scenery looks much nicer than me:

Here are the mile splits from the Garmin which measured the course at 13.22 miles:

Mile 1 5:46
Mile 2 5:51
Mile 3 5:13
Mile 4 5:26
Mile 5 5:33
Mile 6 5:42
Mile 7 5:41
Mile 8 5:33
Mile 9 5:32
Mile 10 5:53
Mile 11 6:23
Mile 12 5:16
Mile 13 5:30
Mile 13.22 1:11

Total 1:14:30