Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Yearly Review 2013

I managed to squeeze in a bit of a session today - a 20 minute tempo run on the treadmill at 3:24/km pace. A minimal warm-up or down and a total of only 8.5kms. Felt awful. Moving on, here's a quick summary of my races from this year:

 
Nothing to write home about in there. Only one PB and that was my 3,000m on the indoor track in a distance I'd rarely race.

I made a decent start to the year on the road clocking a sub 16 minute 5km and a sub 26 minute 8km in January. But I didn't really build on that and never really got on a good roll. I ran a few decent 10km times in Kinvara, Annaghdown and Ballinderreen where I clocked sub 33's, and I guess my most enjoyable run of the year was my 2nd placing in the Norwich half, plus my win in Connemara on a very windy day.

I put a lot of focus into the track 10,000m in July, but a bout of tonsillitis put pay to a decent performance there, plus my left knee has been troubling me for most of the year and that has taken away some of the enjoyment from training. Hopefully I get on  decent roll in the New Year and can get back running well and injury/pain free.

Happy New Year to everyone. Here's wishing to health and happiness and a few PB's in 2014!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Burning the candle both ends

A long morning run with Fintan. Not feeling the Mae West it was always going to be a tough one. The first hour wasn't too bad, but from then on it was a tough slog. The legs were heavy and I was counting down the last few kms. All up 21.0kms in 1:28:37 (4:13's). That pace wasn't too bad as it felt like I'd been running 4:30's.

I doubled up with another trip to the pub in the evening with my snooker partner. Another 1:30am finish, and when I got home the wife was having an impromptu party with a few friends so it was more boozing. Not my greatest move as I woke up the next day feeling like a house beginning with S!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Game of jam tarts

Another solo run - this time my route was the Thursday morning one. A total of 14.8kms in 1:03:48 (4:19's). I didn't feel as good as yesterday but when you get to my age you generally don't get 2 good runs on the trot!

A total of 71.7kms for the week.

Feeling a bit better I made the call to visit the pub with the next door neighbour. Lots of beer and darts and home by 1:30am. My darts was generally pretty poor but my double 10 hitting was James Wade-like.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A bit better

A longer run today. I was feeling a good bit better and I seemed to have a bit more bounce in my step. All up 15.2kms in 1:01:22 (4:02's). Progress.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Soldiering on

A recovery run - 11.1kms in 47:15 (4:15's). Wet and blustery and I was coughing up all sorts of nasties. I'll keep battling on as it can only get easier.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Fields of Athenry 10km

This is one of the big 3 races in Galway and is one not to be missed. Conditions looked spot on - cold and still, and the race organisers got their decision to delay the start of the race spot on to allow a few patches of ice on the course to clear.

I wasn't feeling great - I'd picked up a cold and I was coughing and spluttering but I'd made the call to give it a go (I would have always been wondering if I'd stayed at home). I ran a very short 500m warm-up and then lined up at the start for the off.

The siren sounded and I made a poor start. The first 100m I was dodging and weaving trying to get into my running and when I finally found a clean line, Mick Clohisey and Kenny Rogers had already made a considerable break on the chasers.

A guy made a move for third spot, and I tried to go with him but I had nothing. The breathing was very laboured (40 a day smoker-like), and the legs were heavy. By the time we hit the first km marker he had gotten away from me, leaving me alone in 4th. The next couple of kms were getting tougher and I was ready to step off the course. As we approached 4km another runner went straight past me and I was now down to 5th.

I wouldn't say I backed off at all, I just kept plugging away - but there was no speed or rhythm to my running. Through 5km and I was still considering the easy option of stopping but I could still see 3rd and 4th ahead so that at least kept me focused. The next 5km was a real struggle and I was aware of another runner closing in on me. The km markers were slowly ticking by and by the time I reached 9km marker I knew that I'd hold on to 5th place. That's how it remained and with a friendly finish I eventually crossed the line in 34:02.

I spent the next few minutes coughing up some really nasty stuff and then went over to congratulate the podium getters - Mick running 30:48 for the win, Kenny in 2nd in 31:50 and Declan Fahey 3rd in 32:48.

No warm-down - I just went back and grabbed my top, got a quick cup of hot drink, and then it was off home for a hot shower. All up 10.5kms for the day. Well done to all the organisers for putting this race on. Everything was spot on and the good conditions made for lots of PB's. Well done if you were one of these!

More eating and drinking in the evening. Not my greatest day on the roads but at least there was a reason. Next year!

Here are the splits:

1km 3:16
2km 3:13
3km 3:20
4km 3:27
5km 3:34 (16:50)
6km 3:23
7km 3:26
8km 3:28
9km 3:31
10km 3:24 (17:12)

Total 34:02

Here is a photo of me approaching the finish (thanks to Eirefoto):


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Xmas Day

Happy Christmas to one and all!

No running today - instead it was a day of building Lego, drinking and eating. My kind of day really. The bad news is that I've picked up a cold. For someone who never gets sick, it seems to be one thing after another lately. I'll still run tomorrow, and to give myself a fighting chance I've laid off the booze for the evening...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Xmas Eve

A 10.0km run on the treadmill in 42:48 (4:17's). Left quad still really tender after the rub. I'll rest up now until St Stephen's day and I'm sure it will come good.

Family around in the evening - but not before a quick visit to the pub for a few pints.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Massage and session

A massage at lunchtime. The whole rub was spent on the inside of my quad muscle on my left leg. It was a real mess but felt a lot better afterwards. It's going to be tender now for a few days so what better way to aid the recovery than to do a session....

Yes a 20 minute tempo run on the treadmill in the evening. A 2.1kms warm-up, then 20 minutes continuous at 3:24/km pace, then a 2.1km warm-down. All up 10.1kms. It didn't feel at all comfortable running at the tempo pace - probably due to the earlier rub. Still I wanted to get at least one session in before the Fields 10km on December 26th and after last week's write-off, it had to be today...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

69

A long run to finish the week off. I ran from home up to Carnmore - Ballybrit - Doughiska - Oranmore and then back to Claregalway. The weather was miserable - hail, sleet, snow, rain - it had the lot. I was running along the Coast Road in Oranmore and it started laying which was quite dangerous as it was bloody slippery. I survived and ended up covering 22.2kms in 1:34:45 (4:16's). Glorious weather by the time I'd finished...

That's 69.3kms for the week. A week to forget to be honest. I have a massage booked in tomorrow to try and get this bloody knee sorted. It would be lovely to start the new year running pain free.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Holiday time

An early morning run before work. The weather was not great, and neither was I. A total of 11.1kms in 48:20 (4:21's). Left knee back to being painful.

A few beers in the evening as I'm now on holiday for the next couple of weeks. Getting into the Christmas spirit and all that.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Power Cut

No running today. Feeling generally much better and the throat is just about back to normal. Okay I've missed a few days training but the big concern is no alcohol in 5 whole days. I dare say I'll work on that over Christmas.

Watched the darts in the evening. A great match between the Power and Michael Smith (the World Youth Champion). Taylor didn't look right all match and was offering up chances which Smith was gladly taking. In the deciding set Smith took out a brilliant 128 bull finish to win the match. So that opens things up a bit with MVG now the stand-out favourite. I'm still looking elsewhere - but not sure where yet!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Luckly lull

Early morning run with Owen and Sean. The horrific stormy conditions overnight had just about cleared and despite a bit of wind it was very pleasant to run in. Lots of chat and the run was soon over before sunrise. A total of 15kms in around 65 minutes. Just as we finished the heavens opened and it was hailing and raining. A close shave.

Still feeling a bit under the weather but the fresh air certainly did me good. Not happy with my left knee again so I'll get a rub before Christmas.

My Dad's 65th today so bought him some Lego. It's the gift that keeps on giving.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Missing sitters

Throat still no good so another rest day. I still had a game of snooker in the evening and was feeling a little better afterwards - helped by the fact that I hit breaks of 44 and 45. Two good chances to go beyond 50 but missed a couple of sitters....

Who's your money on in the darts?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Throat

Sore throat time. Lots of drugs to try and get on top of it. Hope it's not another bout of tonsillitis...

I'd planned a rest day today so no damage done.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Recovery Run

A long recovery run with Fintan. The plan was to take it fairly easy so was surprised to look down at the watch at the halfway stage and see that we were tipping along at around 4:12/km pace. Finished up doing the same run as the previous week - a total of 21.0kms in 1:27:49 (4:11's). The legs were quite sore and you'd certainly know you had raced the previous day so was looking forward to getting this over with.

Developed a bit of a sore throat later in the day so that's not good...

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ballinderreen 10km

By some miracle the weather was great. The strong winds had died down and the heavy rain stopped just as I arrived for registration. I bumped into Fintan and after the usual stuff it was time for a few kms warm-up. The field today looked to be very strong - the stand-out was Gary Thornton who has run 29 flat for 10km, plus the likes of Mike O'Connor (30 flat), Peter O'Sullivan, Fintan, Julio Castro and some old soak from Norwich who were all sure to feature. I often get comments that it must be great to win the races but my response is always that you'd prefer a good race pitching yourself against the best, rather than having a solo time trial. Well today promised to be a cracker and was one of the best local line-ups in a long time.

The race started and Gary hit the lead with a group of us chasing. Nobody was going to stick with Gary and so we settled into a nice group of 5 chasers. We were running at a good clip and through the first km in 3:10 feeling pretty good. Gary was working up a nice lead and no moves in our group as we went through the second km. Around this point Mike pulled back leaving the 4 of us to fight it out.

Not much was happening. I think Julio took up the running at one point, but we remained in touch and as the km markers ticked by it was starting to look like it could be a last km shoot-out. Through 4km and then shortly after we started running on the main road. I took up the running on the newly re-surfaced tarmac and was feeling good. It was only a surge of about 500m but it seemed to string us all out a little. As we turned off the main road and went through half-way, it looked like Peter and Fintan had lost touch leaving me and Julio. The pattern of the race for the next few kms was me running at the front, I would be closed down on the uphill drags, and then I would get away again on the flatter sections. More on the course, I have to say it was very friendly, some slight ups and downs but it was predominantly flat, and with good conditions it made for good running. I suppose the only downside was that there were lots of puddles to avoid but considering what the conditions could have been like you'd have taken it every time.

I glanced at my watch at 7km and it was 23:09 so I knew I had a good chance of sub 33. But first I had to shake off Julio. I think it was around this part of the course that there was a long straight road and I could still just about see Gary a long way ahead I pushed as hard as I could and by the time I hit 8km I had opened up a little bit of a gap.

The last couple of kms and it was all about remaining focused. There were a few small climbs but I still felt strong and by the time I hit the 9km marker I upped the pace for the run home. I eventually crossed the line in 32:54 for 2nd place which I was very happy with. Gary ran an incredible 30:29 for the win, with Julio 3rd in 33:05 and Mike somehow finding something in the last 5km to finish 4th in 33:11.

A few kms warm-down with Fintan and Sean who both had great runs. That's around 16kms for the day. I have to say that's one of the most enjoyable races I've had in a long time. A great course, good organistion and plenty of hot drinks after. It was a real gem of an event so much kudos goes to South Galway AC for putting on this great event.

Here are the splits:

3:10, 3:19, 3:15, 3:25, 3:18 (16:27), 3:23, 3:19, 3:20, 3:20, 3:05 (16:27). Total 32:54

I think that's my quickest 10km this year - so I must be doing something right. And I'm only running 5 days per week at the moment so just goes to show what you can achieve if you get your quality sessions in.

A total of 81.9kms for the week. I'll try and keep it around that level for the rest of the year and perhaps increase the pace of my tempo runs slightly. A man with a plan!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

2 Nine Darters

Another rest day. Busy at work and then home for a takeaway curry and 4 pints of Guinness. That's how I roll on the night before a 10km race. The weather is pretty horrendous so it looks like it could be a tough one tomorrow.

Two 9 darters at the world champs today - by Terry Jenkins and Kyle Anderson. Great viewing.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Ally Pally

13.8km in 58:39 (4:14's). Windy out there - I need the wind to settle down before Sunday if I'm going to race. Plus my left knee needs to improve...

Cricket was crap with England letting the Aussies of the hook.

And in better news the world championship darts starts tonight. That's my Christmas TV sorted out right there.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Too hot in winter

Early Thursday morning run with Fintan and Owen. I had double layered with beanie and gloves but that was a big mistake as it was an unbelievably mild 14 degrees at 6:35am! Didn't feel great today - I  must have aggravated my left knee on the treadmill yesterday as it was sore all run. Another massage required...

All up 15.1kms in 1:07:03 (4:26's).

I was planing to stay up and watch the cricket tonight until I realised that it wasn't starting until 2:30am. The best case scenario would be England somehow scraping a draw but can't see it the way they are playing...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

6 x 5 mins off 60 secs

I planned to do this outside but the wind was up so it was down to the gym. A 3.5km warm-up and then the 5 minute efforts. I ran the first 2 at 3:22/km pace, the next 2 at 3:21's, and the final 2 at 3:20's. All up 16.0kms with another 3.5km warm-down.

David Gray in the evening at the Seapoint in Salthill. Brilliant stuff - a small venue and David in top form.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nowt

Usual rest day for Tuesday. I'm considering a 10km race on Sunday - you know me and racing so I dare say I'll do it!

Monday, December 09, 2013

Computer says no

Computer at the menders so updates will have to be short and sweet for a while. Today it was a long run with Fintan. Total 21.0kms in 1:25:39 (4:05's). Felt good and lots of chat to pass the time.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Turkey Trot 5km

I woke up to a very windy day. I also felt like I had a hangover and this was one of the rare Sunday mornings where I'd only had a couple of beers the night before. So perhaps I wasn't in the best frame of mind for the race but I had to run as I'd promised the mother-in-law a turkey for Christmas Day...

Arrived and did all the usual pre-race stuff. I ran a 2km warm-up - one km with the wind on the back (what wind?), then turned to run back and was struggling to move forward. A quick change into the racing flats then another km down to the start.

I like this course - it's a lollipop shape - and relatively flat with only one long drag as you start the main guts of the loop. The direction of the wind today meant that it was more-or-less always a cross-wind, with the exception of 500m between 1.5km and 2.0km (running into it head-on), and then 500m with the wind on the back (somewhere between 2km and 3km).

The race started and myself and Paul Buckley lead out a large group of around 6 or 7. There are a few turns in the first km, and with nobody willing to really push on, the group remained relatively close together as we went through the first km in 3:11. Halfway through the second km and we made a left-hand turn into the wind. Paul was slightly ahead at this stage and everyone slowed as the strong wind pushed us back. Through 2km with a split of 3:18 and then shortly after that we made a right-hand turn to be greeted with a long uphill drag. At this stage I wasn't feeling great at all and I think I slipped back into 4th or 5th place before re-focusing and gradually working back up to the leaders. By the time we reached the top of the climb we were starting to curve to the right and this gave us some welcome benefit from the wind. Through 3km with a split of 3:17 and then it was time to hammer a nice 500m downhill section. Myself and Paul were still side-by-side and then Donal came flying past us. At the foot of the hill we turned right and I seized the opportunity to take up the running.

I quickly opened up a few seconds gap on the group and started to string them out. That was great but the surge had taken a lot out of me and as I hit a few little drags at the end of the 4th km, I could hear someone closing me down. Through 4km in 3:10 and sure enough Paul had caught me. It was going to go down to the wire and I wasn't sure I had much left to offer.

About 1 minute into the last km and I was hanging on to Paul - I kept thinking "let him go and settle for 2nd" but being a stubborn so-and-so I came up with a plan. Try and stick with him until 2 minutes and then make a break for the line. Well that's what I did, 2 minutes passed, and I kicked for home. I say kicked, but it was nothing more than a slight increase on the speed we were running. Thankfully that was enough and as the finish line came into view I knew I could hang on for the final 100m. I crossed the line in 16:06 (a 3:10 last km) with Paul in second right behind me.

Very happy with the win - especially so having not felt at all right today. I'm not sure what was wrong - just one of those days where I felt very flat. The time wasn't bad considering the conditions - everyone ran slower than target so I'd say that was the equivalent of around 15:50 on a still day. It's funny that when you're running well you don't even notice the small inclines - well today was one of those days where I felt every little bump on the course.

Still not feeling great I decided to walk for about 5 minutes to reclaim my long-sleeve, and then finally I summoned up the energy to run 3kms as a warm-down. All up 11kms for the day and 72.4kms for the week.

Back to the hall for hot tea and the presentation. A great event and a really nice vibe with lots of chat and piss-taking with a few of the GCH crew. Loads of prizes and I think they gave just about everyone a free turkey - except to Donal who finished in 4th place (nobody remembers 4th place!). Well done to all involved - runners, volunteers and organisers. It's a great little event which seems to go from strength-to-strength each year and long may that continue.

A few beers in the evening. I only caught bits and pieces of the snooker - with Selby leading 6-3, Robertson started playing some brilliant snooker winning 5 frames on the spin. Selby got a frame back, and then jawed a black to make it 8-8. Well that was the impetus Robertson needed to go on and finish the match eventually running out a 10-7 winner. On that from he is going to take some beating in 2014 but I wouldn't be writing off the Rocket just yet!

Saturday, December 07, 2013

100th tournament maximum

No running today.

I stayed up late to watch a bit of the cricket but that was enough to turn you to the drink. Awful.

I've enjoyed watching the snooker this week. Mark Selby made a majestic 147 today - the last 4 balls were all tricky and it's certainly the best finish to a maximum I've seen. The black was a real gem - potting it from the black spot into the left middle. Rolled it in pretty much dead weight much to the joy of the crowd and Selby (who had previously missed a black for a 147 in China last year). A nice cheque for 59 large ones (sterling) as a result. Great stuff.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Solo repeat

The same run as yesterday. The difference being it was daylight hours, I was by myself, and there were no double-backs. Total 14.8kms in 1:01:45 (4:10's).

I gave my new Mizuno Inspire 10's a run out. A very comfortable relaxed fit on the foot, and nice and light. Compared to my usual Asics GT2000 they didn't feel as cushioned, and my left knee was slightly sore as a result. That said, a nice shoe and I'll give them another hit-out when the left knee makes a full recovery - probably some time in the New Year.

That's it now until the 5km on Sunday. Hopefully a sub 16 is on the cards.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Very windy

Myself, Fintan and Owen for the early morning run. Bloody hell it was windy, the mile stretch as we turned right at Carnmore Cross and we were barely moving. The pace felt really slow all the way round so I was a bit surprised that we managed to creep under 4:30/km pace. Total 15.0kms in 1:07:08 (4:29's).

Ronnie got knocked out of the UK Champs. Very surprised by that as I thought he was a shoe-in to win it. Not sure who will win now - I'd like to see a Robertson V Selby final.

The less said about the cricket the better. England are very ordinary and if they don't buck their ideas up they will soon be 2-0 down.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

8 x 800's off 66 seconds

A treadmill based session. A 4.0km warm-up and then I cranked up the treadmill to 20kms/hour and ran my 800's. I was doing them on a rolling 3 and a half minutes so 2:24 for each 800 followed by 66 seconds recovery. For the first time in a while I felt like I was way out of my comfort zone so I'm thinking that must be a good thing. A warm-down of 3.6km to give me 14.0kms for the day.

Snooker in the evening. Nothing over 40 to report - but the big break is coming, I can feel it.....

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Rest Day

No running. Work and other stuff got in the way!

I'm planning to run the Turkey Trot 5km on Sunday so I'll do a session tomorrow and then take it easy for the remainder of the week. 

Monday, December 02, 2013

Bullied

I was planning a long-run but my training wingman bullied me into doing a tempo run. In his words "I've become a bit of a tempo junkie". I agreed on a 10km effort but I suspected it could be more...

Perfect conditions again and the target was 3:30/km pace. After a longish 3.5km warm-up it was game on. The first few kms felt easy enough and then I started to struggle during the middle section. Then I seemed to come good again at the end. As we were approaching the end of 10km I offered Fintan an extra km which was quickly turned down. We ended up running the 10km in 34:39 (3:28/km pace). Needless to say I was very happy with that.

Fintan going very well at the moment. Some decent mileage topped up with some proper sessions the last couple of weeks and he's now coming into top form. Good to see.

A 4.1km warm-down for 17.6kms for the day. I suppose that also doubles up as a long run of sorts!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

End of a recovery

Out in the morning for an hours run to blow away the cobwebs. Again the conditions were superb for running - nice cool and dry and hardly a breath of wind. A total of 15.1kms in 1:04:16 (4:15's).

The knee was great today - hardly any discomfort. It's been a tricky few months but hopefully it will be as good as new come the new year.

Took the kids to see Santa in the afternoon at a local fundraiser. A great turn-out and hopefully lots of money raised for 2 very important causes.

Another photo collection from the Norwich Half (courtesy of the CoNAC Facebook page). I'm the one doing the front-running!


Only 59.0kms this week. Time to ramp it up again.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dela

Rest day today.

Work and then out in Galway for the evening for a nice meal and a few beers.

Friday, November 29, 2013

I see your 6 and raise you to 8

My training wingman arrived bang on time for this threshold session. I'd geared myself up for 6 x 5 mins but in mentioning that to Fintan it was quickly raised to 8 x 5 mins (by him not me). Bugger. A 2.2km warm-up and then straight into it off the bog standard 60 seconds recovery. The first one felt okay, but the next 3 I was feeling very flat and was hanging on. Then we turned to run the course in reverse and I started to feel much better. I'm not sure how that can happen - I must have started burning some good petrol or something. Anyway, I was running like a changed man and instead of hanging on, I was now holding back. Here are the paces per km for each of the 5 minute efforts:

3:22 / 3:23 / 3:21 / 3:23 / 3:20 / 3:20 / 3:18 / 3:20

All up 18.3kms with a 3.6km warm-down. I have to say I love this session - I really think it's starting to bring on my running and it's a session that's tough but manageable.

Later in the day and my legs were in bits - both calves were screaming. I clearly haven't recovered from the half. A few Guinness in the evening should loosen them off a bit...

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The 6:35 from Claregalway

Another early start of 6:35am with Fintan, Sean and Gearoid for company. Lovely conditions for running but very dark and to be honest it still wasn't that light when the run was over. The biggest shock of the day was that there were no pitstops. All up 14.8kms in 1:06:46 (4:31's).

I've agreed to run some 5 minute reps tomorrow with Fintan. The legs still don't feel right after the half so not sure if that was the best of ideas.

Talking of the half, here's a photo of me finishing the race - I think I was quite happy!


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Gone to pot

I was planning to meet John at the track for a session but thankfully he had already done his session so I took the easy option to run locally with a 10.8km trot at 4:25/km pace. The knee feels really good at the moment - the knee behaved during the half and the 2 rest days either side of that have helped with recovery no end.

A game of snooker after that. Played well and hit lots of 20 odd breaks but couldn't string together a biggie. In the last frame I hit a 40, then missed a tricky black, before returning for a 30 break and then missing a sitter in the middle...

Early run with the lads planned tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Chu Beers

Another rest day - that's 4 in 5 days now. I'll try and get back into it starting tomorrow.

Instead it was work, then home, then some catch-up TV, then bed. There were 2 beers in there somewhere also (just to ensure a good nights sleep).

Monday, November 25, 2013

Barry

Legs quite sore today - no running!

A bit of pottering around today. Back to the snooker hall in the afternoon for more fun with the youngster. On the table next to us was the local Norwich snooker professional Barry Pinches. I had a brief chat with him but Conor was too shy to have his picture taken. Talking of snooker, as I suspected ROS won the Champion of Champions tournament yesterday evening. He didn't have it all his own way - beating both Ding and Neil Robertson in the deciding frame in the quarters and semis, before overturning a 5-3 deficit against Stuart Bingham to go on to win 10-8. That said, I reckon Ronnie was only at about 80% of his game so watch out if he hits full form.

A bit more shopping and then the long journey back to Galway in the evening. Home by 1:30am and in bed by 2. Knackered.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

City of Norwich Half Marathon

I arrived at the venue with just over 30 minutes to the start of the race. A big crowd in attendance having been sold out of the maximum 3,000 entrants 6 weeks before the race. The conditions were okay - wet and quite breezy - but compared to the 2 previous years you'd take them. I did a few kms warm-up and bumped into Piers Arnold a fellow CoNACer and as we were both targeting similar times we decided to try and stick together in the race.

With a few minutes to go I lined up having shed my extra layers. A guy called Ben Russell was the stand-out runner, with a few others that I recognised that would be there or thereabouts. At 11am on the knocker we were underway.

Ben immediately took up the running leaving me in a group of 3 that included Wayne Lincoln and Piers who were all in the red and yellow vests. We were a bit undecided as to whether we should go with Ben, or stick to our own pace and the latter was decided upon until we had the feedback of the first mile. Upon exiting the showground we passed the first marker in 5:29 and that being target pace it seemed sensible for Ben to run his own race and for us to settle into the group.

The 2 lap course today was definitely easier on the first half of each loop. We had the benefit of the wind and the profile of the course means that there is more downhill and flat sections compared to the second half of the loop where you gradually climb back up to the showground. Race-wise not much was happening - I was doing most of the front-running with Piers and Wayne behind me. The next few miles were all around 5:20 and Ben was slowly disappearing up the road in front of us.

The pace certainly slowed when we hit the drags and wind. We were now running 6 minute miles - some of that might have been tactical as none of us wanted to push this part of the course. As we ran through the showground we were getting some great support and at one point I almost took a wrong turn before adjusting my line. I was enjoying this and knew that I still had plenty of running in my legs.

Upon exiting the showground I was quite surprised to find that another runner had latched on to our group - Dominic Blake from Reepham Road Runners. So now there was 4 of us - with me still leading them out. My plan was a simple one - I was going to push the first half of the loop and see what happened. Sure enough I tried a few surges but Piers was sticking with me - but I had at least opened up a small gap on Dominic and Wayne.

Through Easton and the left-hand turn to be greeted with a long gradual climb. I again pushed hard and decided to surge up the hill. Sure enough this time I got away from Piers and I ran hard for the next mile. That move was all well and good but I still had the guts of over 4 miles to run for home. I was sensible and would attack the quick parts of the course, and then sit back and cruise for a while. I knew from the gaps in the crowd support that I probably had a 15 to 20 second break and I maintained that through to 11 miles where I suddenly started to struggle.

I suppose it was inevitable as I hadn't done the proper training - the legs were feeling heavy and it was on the toughest part of the course at the business end of the race. It was a case of gritting it out. By this stage I was lapping a few back markers so there support helped me to remain focused and I was breaking the remaining run down into segments of 1 minute - I knew that with around 12 x 1 minutes of discomfort and I was home.

Again good support on entering the showground. I knew from the first lap that the last 800m were going to be course and wind friendly so if I could keep second spot until that point I was fairly confident that I could hold my position. I was all over the place and was looking round at every opportunity to see the gap behind me. Basically it was bloody obvious that I was struggling. Through the grassy/muddy 50m section for the third time and then into the wind. Somehow I managed to hold on and when I took a left hand turn for the final 800m I knew I was okay. I ran as hard as I could and tried to lap up the finishing line atmosphere as much as I could. Another left hand turn, another glance behind, then the final run in down the finishing chute. I eased up approaching the line and threw the arms in the air like I had won the race. In my mind I had!

The time was 1:13:11 so okay. I'd say the conditions were worth a minute plus so that makes it look a little more respectable. Delighted with the position - my previous placings in the last 3 years were 5th, 3rd and 5th. Great to run well in front of family and friends, plus all the support from the CoNAC club around the course. Couldn't have been happier. The standard was a little soft this year - but you can only race against the ones that show up...

All up 25.1kms with warm-up and down. Here are the splits:

1m 5:29
2m 5:23
3m 5:30
4m 5:22
5m 5:41 (27:25)
6m 5:52
7m 5:54
8m 5:30
9m 5:19
10m 5:23 (27:58 / 55:23)
11m 5:34
12m 5:56
13.1m 6:18

Total 1:13:11

A few thank yous - firstly to CoNAC and RP for the invite to run. I dare say I'll be back again next year. Thanks for all the support on the course. Thanks to Jason and Ian for the massages that have kept me on the road. Thanks to AK for the new racing flats. Thanks to the wife for letting me disappear for the weekend. Thanks to my training partners - plus to anyone else I've forgotten.

That's just over 70kms for the week - not bad with 3 rest days!

Out in the evening for a few more real ales. Finishing on the 6 per cent stuff this time. My mate went to the bar and said he wanted something strong and cheap and came back with something you could fuel industrial machines on. Which was nice. Plus a pork pie for the cab ride home.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

That's how it starts

Another day of passing time. Couldn't see the point in running for 30 minutes so that's 2 complete rest days before the race tomorrow.

I took the young lad up the city with the old man and he had his first experience of a proper snooker hall (where I used to cut my teeth). Being only 5 he isn't quite ready for the full size tables but we spent an hour on the pool table. He's got a fair bit of talent for it - must have got that from his mother.

A meal in town and a bit of shopping and that was that. I declined the invite to go drinking in the evening and instead stayed in to watch the snooker. I've turned sensible in my old age.

Cricket is now a disaster. England will lose this test and now have to fight back in the city of churches. Talking of Adelaide, I could murder a few Coopers...

Friday, November 22, 2013

Travel and pub crawl

Up at 4am for the trek to Norwich. Just over 6 hours later and I had arrived A bit of catching up with the family in the afternoon and then a pub crawl in the evening. The real ale scene in Norwich is brilliant and after sampling a few 3% ales, I then moved up on to the 4% stuff, and then finished on the head wrecking 5% plus stuff. Woke up with a bit of a sore head the next day...

Ronnie playing well in the Champion of Champions tournament. I can't see anyone touching him.

The cricket has turned ugly...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Brisbane

Early morning run with Fintan and Owen. All good and ran our usual course in mostly darkness. All up 15.0kms in 1:06:56 (4:27's).

That's it now until the race on Sunday. I'm targeting 1hr 12 or thereabouts and for once the weather forecast doesn't look too bad.

England made an okay start to the Ashes...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Final speed session

Mid-morning session on the treadmill. Having done 10 x 800 last week I thought I'd do something similar so decided on 800's again but with a tapered down number of reps of 6. After a 4km warm-up and some stretching I went straight into it. Felt comfortable throughout - perhaps not as good as last week but I think the treadmill I was on was performing at more honest levels. I was running at 3:04/km pace so around 2:27ish for each 800 then repeating the effort off a rolling 3.5 minutes (so 63 seconds rest to be exact). A warm-down of 4.0kms to give me 12.8kms.

After changing I then head to walk home as the car was being serviced. Well the walk turned into a bit of a run as I had to pick up the daughter and I probably slow jogged at least another 3kms. Not a good luck fully clothed and was ready for another shower when I got home.

Cricket starts tonight but I won't be watching much as I have a 6:35am run booked in the morning. I may get up a bit earlier and watch a few overs before the run - we'll see. My prediction for the series is a 3-0 England win (the same as the last series in England). Barmy Army!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Random thoughts

No running today - rest day and all that.

As I suspected, Taylor won the darts on the weekend. He was in simply sensational from and not even Lewis averaging 110.9 in the semis could challenge him. On this form he's looking odds on for another world title.

In snooker news Selby beat O'Sullivan in the final of the Antwerp Open. The Rocket was 3-1 up in the final but lost the deciding frame to go down 4-3 to the Jester. Ronnie didn't even look like he was trying and was playing it more like an exhibition match so when he clicks into matchplay mode, there isn't going to be anyway who can touch him. I certainly wouldn't bet against him getting his 6th world title.

And the cricket starts tomorrow evening. I can only see one winner - the Aussies seem to have put all their energy in hyping up the series and I dare say they'll flop come the first test at the Gabba. They certainly talk a good game, especially their retired pundits, but they don't seem to be able to do it on the field of play. I can't wait for it and to think it was 6 years ago when I did 4 of the 5 test matches in Australia. Now let me tell you there was some proper drinking done on that tour...my liver is twitching just thinking about it.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Start of an easy week

The plan was to run for an hour at 4 minute/km pace but quickly realised that the legs weren't up to much after the race yesterday so that wasn't going to happen. Instead settled into a slightly slower pace and ran for 70 minutes. Total 16.5kms at 4:15/km.

A few pictures from the race yesterday thanks to the excellent 77edenhill. I have to share some of these beauties - they capture me at my absolute best....

Here's me dribbling just after the finish:


The pain etched on my face approaching the finish line (note several chins):


And here's one of me looking almost normal as I aquaplane along:


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Abbeyknockmoy 4 Miler

A classic soft day - in other words very, very, wet. After the 20 minute drive to Abbeyknockmoy, I did the pre-race stuff and headed out for a warm-up with Jason Broderick. Back to the club-house to change into my racing flats and with about 10 minutes to go we worked our way up to the start still donning numerous layers. As we were called to the start I dumped my jacket and long-sleeve top and was lining up ready for the off.

The race started and I settled into my running quickly leading out a group of 5. I had been pre-warned that this was to be a race of 2 halves - lots of drags in the first half including what was described as a mile long hill, then some lovely downhills and flat sections to finish with. That proved to be pretty accurate - but the tough start of the race was made worse by the fact that we were also running into the breeze, plus the road was quite narrow, especially after the first right-hand turn where there was the grass median strip, and lots of puddles either side. Anyway, back to the race...

We took the first turn right and I was still leading. Through the first mile in 5:32 and shortly after the group of 5 had been whittled down to 3. Myself, Jason and John took various turns at the front, but nobody was prepared to make any moves on the long uphill mile. To be honest I wasn't feeling great at this point, made worse when John decided to try a surge about halfway up the hill. We all stuck together and normal cat and mouse service was resumed.

Upon reaching the top of the hill we were greeted with the next mile marker (a 6:00 split!). Then another turn right and as soon as we hit the main road the pace was on. Jason took up the running with me in quick pursuit and John fell off the back. I suddenly felt great - I tried a surge which Jason responded to, then another surge with the same result. This was the first time in a long time that it felt like I had a few gears to play with and with another surge I hit the lead and I seized the opportunity to really put the foot down. There followed a lovely downhill section that seemed to go on and on and I continued to run strongly. Through the third mile in 4:57 and still using the hill I was running full tilt. As the hill ended I had a moment of panic as I still probably had the guts of a km to run but luckily the remaining terrain was as flat as you could hope for. I really pushed for home and after a few more turns I could see the finish and with a final mile split of 4:42 I had crossed the line in 21:11 for the win. Jason was back in 2nd about 10 seconds behind with John snatching 3rd.

I'm taking a lot of positives out of this race. Firstly, the quick finish - a 4:42 last mile is sub 3:00/km pace and my Garmin recorded my quickest ever km of 2:54 as part of that mile. Okay it was course and wind assisted but still a nice way to finish. Secondly, the fact that I felt like I had more - I was cruising at the end and would have gone quicker if pushed. Okay the overall time wasn't great but it was a very tough first 2 miles and when the race did spark into life, I had plenty in the tank.

A warm-down of 3.3kms to give me 11.7kms for the day. Absolutely piss wet through by this stage, and then the long wait at the presentation for prizes which I eventually gave up on. Not to worry, a long hot shower when I got home and all was well in the world.

That's 89.4kms for the week. A couple of decent sessions in there plus a good race hit-out so I'm now ready for the half. I'm going to give it a real dig and probably regret that at around the 15km mark but at least I won't die wondering.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Race Prep

I stretched out the legs with a run after work. The knee was at me again - nightmare - not sure how I've gone backwards as I thought I was over the worst of it. Anyway, a total of 8.0kms in 35:31 (4:26's).

Feeling sorry for myself I headed to the local to throw some darts. It wasn't that pretty, it's one of those games that you need to practice regularly at if not you soon lose your touch. Four pints later I was feeling a bit better so headed home for bed.

A bit of poking and prodding at the left quad also - I'll be okay to race buy not nice to be running in discomfort. Time for another proper massage.

Friday, November 15, 2013

8 x 5 mins off 60 secs

A repeat of the session from last week. This week I managed to recruit Fintan for company who was doing his first speed session in many months. Before we started Fintan had the fore-thought to use the toilet and hey presto, no problems during the session!

A 2.2km warm-up and straight into it. Four efforts going one way, then turned and ran the next 4 in the opposite direction finishing up back at the start. Conditions were very good and I was cruising along nicely running low 3:20/km pace without ever feeling the pinch. I could have run a good bit quicker but I resisted the temptation and stayed at my threshold pace. Here are the paces per km for each 5 minute effort:

3:23/3:21/3:23/3:22/3:22/3:23/3:22/3:20

I really feel like I'm progressing nicely at the moment and I certainly feel like I'm coming into some form. A good way to put that to the test will be to race on Sunday so we shall see. Fintan ran a very solid session and good to see him back.

All up 18.2kms with warm-down. Fintan can't understand how I can do these sessions by myself but I guess I've just got used to it over the years. Don't get me wrong it's much easier when you have company, but I don't have any problem doing the sessions solo.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

And then there were 4

Early run with Fintan, Owen and new recruit Sean. We had only just got out of the close and Fintan had to take his first comfort break (new PB - must have been less than 2 minutes running by this stage). Lots of chat and after about 30 minutes the darkness had just about cleared. More double-backs later in the run to cater for the incontinent runners - not mentioning names but myself and Sean were in the clear. All up 15.0kms in 1:05:07 (4:20's). Enjoyable stuff.

Our group seems to be swelling and if we can get Gearoid and Conor back then we may yet get the numbers up to 6.

Nothing else to report - had a few beers in the evening whilst watching the darts. Wade gave Nicholson a real towelling beating him 10-1 finishing with a brilliant 125 checkout (bull/semi-bull/bull). Good to see Lewis beat MVG with the sort of scoring that could yet win him more world titles.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

10 x 800 off 60 secs

I had to cancel my planned track session (apologies John) and instead it was a quick dash to the local gym. I initially wanted to run 8 x 800 but I ended up doing 10 as the session didn't seem to be taking anything out of me. I had the treadmill set at 3:05/km pace so the 800's were taking 2:28, and after the first couple it felt way too easy so I moved to another treadmill and that still felt the same. So hence I went from 8 to 10 efforts. Sweating like you wouldn't believe but the breathing and legs felt great. Certainly getting a few strange looks humming along at that pace in a packed gym. Thud, thud, thud, thud - like an elephant.

So either I'm in the shape of my life, or the treadmill isn't to be trusted. I think I know the answer to that. All up 14.0kms with warm-up and down.

Snooker in the evening. Played okay in patches but kept missing the key balls to go on and make the big breaks. Frustrating. Mike played well and hit his highest break of 30.

Spotify is great for anyone who hasn't tried it. I've been listening to some decent new albums from the likes of Arcade Fire, The National, Moby and Gary Numan (of course). And the basic version is free which is great if you're a tight-arse like me. Talking of music, I head back to Norwich the weekend after next and The Wedding Present are playing on the Thursday night. All being well I may just be able to wangle that...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A nowt day

No run. Work, home, fry-up. That's about all.

Monday, November 11, 2013

90 minutes

A solo long run today. Perfect conditions for running and my plan was to run for 90 minutes and get that pace up towards my easy run pace of 4 minute clicks. Felt great from the off and I was ticking over very nicely going through 10km in 40:18, then 39:50 for the next 10km. Then added a bit extra on at the end to give me 22.5kms all up in 1:30:01 (4:00/km). Felt fresh which is to be expected when I've being doing bugger all volume.

The knee is still behaving - probably around a 2 out of 10 on the pain scale which is way down on where I was at only a week and a half ago. Gotta be happy with that.

The plan is to run my track session on Wednesday this week (due to a change in work hours). Then I'll have a look to see if there are any races about on Sunday. Hopefully I can find something and have a bit of a blow-out before the Norwich half.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mileage Down

An easy run of an hour today. I was going to go longer but I plan a long run tomorrow so no point doubling up. Total 14.3kms in 1:00:01 (4:12's). Ticking over nicely and the knee is still as good as it has been lately.

Only 69.6kms to report this week. That's fairly pathetic to be honest. I haven't got above 75kms in the last 3 weeks. Be interesting to see what time I can run in the half off such low mileage...

Saturday, November 09, 2013

GSoD

Another day of no running - I'm in the habit of taking 2 rest days per week at the moment. That's not a bad thing, especially as I have more time to eat and drink...

No races on the local calendar tomorrow so I'll give it a miss this week. It would be nice if I could squeeze in one more race before the half in a couple of weeks time.

Darts on the TV to watch. The Grand Slam of Darts. I can't see anybody beating Taylor at the moment.

Friday, November 08, 2013

8 x 5 mins off 60 secs

I had every intention of doing this session on the treadmill - but awoke to a crisp clear day so decided to run the session on the road. A warm-up of 2.2kms, then straight into it. I was cruising quite nicely running 3:23/km pace for most of the efforts - and I think it was during the third one that I was run off the road by a guy driving a car who clearly wasn't paying any attention to the road. I clipped his wing mirror and had to jump into the hedgerow to avoid being completely swiped. The guy didn't even realise what had happened until he was a bit further down the road then he stopped to see if I was alright. What followed was a short conversation containing lots of expletives. Luckily I was okay and I resumed the session with the heart rate going through the roof...

I only started to feel a little tired during the last couple of 5 minutes, and I had to work hard to bring the last rep in on target pace (even though it was downhill). A warm-down of 3.6kms to give me 18.4kms for the day. I'll do this session again next week and that will be my 2 specific half marathon sessions done! I certainly enjoy these tempo sessions and will stick with them for the remainder of the year to see what impact it has on my running.

Later in the evening I was in Dublin to see Gary Numan at the Button Factory. A cracking gig - only a small venue but was wedged full and the stage was overflowing with equipment and instruments. There were 6 people in the band, plus 2 technicians on stage, and Gary and the band put on a great show. Super stuff.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

I used to run a bit...

Early morning run with Fintan and Owen. Total 15.0kms in 1:06:54 (4:28's). Felt quicker than that but must have been early morning syndrome again.

Had a good conversation with one of the reps in the shop today. He mentioned he used to do a bit of running and I nearly fell over when he mentioned he'd ran a 2:15 London marathon. Said he'd no talent, but just had to work hard at it (120 mile weeks...). He was stuck running 32 minutes for 10km and his big breakthrough was starting a weekly tempo session of 45 minutes on the treadmill. From then on all his times improved and he went on to break 29 for 10km, 64 for the half and 2:15 for the full. Perhaps there's hope for us all!

More on the 50 races, looking through the list I may have to discount one of them as it was a relay stage of a longer race...

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Fifty

My mid-week rest day from running.

Instead it was down the snooker hall still searching for that elusive big break. I managed to get my contacts in properly tonight which was a good start. The first few frames were hit and miss, but in the last frame I had a gilt-edged chance for a biggie. It all comes down to bottle and I missed on 40 attempting a long pink which goes to prove I have none. Definitely improving though and it won't be long before something goes my way.

And in other news. just checked through my road race/fun race/call them what you want races and Sunday's win in Corofin was my 50th win since moving to Ireland. So I'll raise my bat to the pavilion and keep plodding away in the attempt to bring up the ton. To put that into context, in 10 years racing in Oz I never won a single race. In fact, I think I only ever made the podium once. Different size pond and all that...

Here are the 50 races:

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

12 x 400 off 30 secs

The weather is starting to get a bit grim but I didn't want to miss out on another track session so off to Dangan I did travel. After a 3.8km warm-up around the roads I went down to the track for the 400's off a short/sharp 30 second recovery. A good group at the front with myself leading, Cian, Donal, John and a few other guys from the University. My plan was not to try and run them eyeballs out, but instead to feel nice and comfortable with the words ringing in my ears from Paul McNamara about distance runners trying to run their speed sessions too quick. I thought 72ish would be fair game so that was my target.

The first one felt grand, and from there on in I was feeling pretty good. About halfway through I increased my recovery to 33 seconds to allow the other runners to fully regroup. The weather was getting worse and it was juicing down for the remaining few laps but by then the countdown was on. Here are the times:

71/72/72/71/72/72/71/71/71/71/71/70

A warm-down with Sean - good to see him back after a 5 month lay-off through injury. My knee behaved nicely and I'm certainly heading in the right direction now. All up 12.4kms.

It felt good tonight - perhaps it was the Argi that young Timmie has me trying - tonight being the first use. Apparently a few of the top tri-guys use it so worth giving it a shot. Mix a spoon with 240ml of water and off you go. And it's legal!

Monday, November 04, 2013

Progress

No long run today as I was called in to work. Instead it was a shuffle in the evening to see how the knee was. I knew it had improved as I wasn't getting the pain climbing in and out of the car, getting out of the bath, picking something up off the floor,etc. But the real test is to try a run - I started off tentatively and the discomfort level was way down - not pain free by any stretch of the imagination, but a huge improvement. I gradually ratcheted up the pace and I was soon ticking over nicely. Despite the typical Irish conditions, you couldn't wipe the smile off my face. Finally! Total 9.5kms in 40:27 (4:15's).

So assuming I can keep on top of this, I plan to run the Norwich Half Marathon on Nov 24th. The last couple of years the conditions have been absolutely horrendous, so I'm hoping it will be third time lucky. I won't be in great half shape, but should still be able to run sub 1:14 and in the process try and keep some of the younger lads honest.

I forgot to mention my weekly kms for last week - a whopping 73.5. I know that's low but I've always been able to run some decent times for 5km and 10km off that volume of training. My plan is to try and be a little healthier in the lead up to the half and I may even try to drop a few kgs.

Here were my splits from Corofin:

1km 3:12
2km 3:14
3km 3:21
4km 3:19 (13:06)
5km 3:14
6km 3:19
7km 3:23
8km 3:09 (13:05)

Total 26:11

And here's a photo of me approaching the finish line (courtesy of Edenhill):


Sunday, November 03, 2013

Corofin 8km

Arrived in time to quickly register and run a mile as warm-up. Conditions were as good as you could wish for - hardly and breeze and a nice, fresh, crisp day. Shared a few jokes at the start line and soon we were off and running. I immediately hit the lead as we ran in a straight line for the first 3km. There were a few ups and downs, but the course was predominantly flat and I was ticking along nicely at well under sub 3:20/km pace.

The knee felt good which was odd as I'm definitely limping a tiny bit walking on it. It must be the adrenaline rush of racing at full whack. I had nobody for company and by the time I made the first left-hand turn just through 3km I could see the lead car just up the road waiting for me so that gave me something to focus on.

At halfway I was still running well and I even entertained the fact of breaking 26 minutes with a strong run home. I had been pre-warned that the section from 4 to 5kms was the toughest, but my split of 3:14 indicated that I can actually run the long drags when I put my mind to it. After rounding the next left-hand turn it was all about remaining focused for the last 3km.

Sure enough at 6km I started to wobble. The legs were feeling a little heavier and a disappointing split of 3:22 through to 7km meant that the sub 26 was gone. The last km is a real gem and as I ran back into the village, there is a slight right-hand turn, followed by a lovely downhill run home.I really pushed the last 600m and I was a little perplexed when a supporter mentioned that I should just dip under 27. Sure enough I crossed the line with 26:48 showing on the clock Vs my watch time of 26:11. I know which one I prefer so I'm not sure what happened there!

A good solid run, especially with nobody for company. As mentioned conditions were perfect so there were pros and cons. I think that at least indicates I'm back in sub 33 10km shape which is where I want to be. After the race I did a warm-down with Ian who had to listen to my knee woes. A total of 4.4km later I was done - 14.0kms for the day.

More on the knee - I convinced Ian to call into my house on the way back to Claregalway to have a look at the you know what (Ian is a qualified deep tissue massager). My exact words were "Go as hard as you can (fnarr, fnarr....)". Anyway, after putting a minuscule amount of pressure on the inside of my left quad I was already on the ceiling crying like a baby. Man, that pain was something else. Anyway, after 15 minutes of rubbing and pressing the muscle had let off a good bit. It was almost like letting off a pressure valve and I could notice an immediate improvement on the knee. I have a few things to do now to try and keep on top of it - foam rolling, ice rolling, self-massage on the sore spots, anti-inflamms, etc. Hopefully I can get back to running in less pain in the coming weeks. Thanks Ian - the beers are waiting for you when you return from the volcano marathon!

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Beer and curry

I took another rest day today. Just didn't have it in me to go for a run. Instead it was a takeaway curry and 5 beers. Now you won't find that race preparation in many copybooks as I'm planning to give the 8km out at Corofin a go tomorrow. No idea how I'll go and it's sure to give the knee a real test...

Just looking through a few photos from the terrific Edenhill this evening. Here's one from the recent 10km in Loughrea with Freya Murray in the background:


Friday, November 01, 2013

Gyp

Squeezed in a few kms after work in the dark. A total of 8.4kms in 36:50 (4:23's). Left knee giving me a fair bit of pain - I haven't run pain-free now in several months. Something has to give...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Inspire

Early morning run with Fintan and Owen. A bit lighter this week due to the change in the clocks but still quite dark to start with. A few showers to deal with in the first 10 minutes then it wasn't too bad. All up 15.0kms in 1:06:02 (4:24's). Pace is always a bit down on these early morning jaunts - must be the body in shock at being up at such an ungodly hour.

Thanks to Mizuno I took delivery of a new pair of Inspire running shoes today. I've never run in any Mizuno shoes before so will be interested to see how they go. They certainly have a completely different feel to them - very roomy with plenty of space around the toes and very light and flexible. Certainly comfy wearing them around today.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Blind snooker

A rest day from running. A game of snooker in the evening. I never really got going in the snooker - my contact lens in my left eye was playing up and I had drunken vision. Highest break 30. I got home and it took me 15 minutes of prodding at the eye to find and remove said lens. Not pleasant. Matt and his excuses strike again.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Glen Hansard

No track session tonight as I was at the Glen Hansard gig in the Town Hall. Instead I did my own thing in the afternoon doing my new bread and butter 6 x 5 mins tempo run off a minute. I'm beginning to like this session - it's not too bad as you feel fairly comfortable throughout. Paces today were again around the 3:23 to 3:25/km pace and you aren't having to go to the well. I may up the number of reps to 8 in the next few weeks to improve endurance. All up 15.1kms with warm-up and down.

Okay, back to the gig. It was a solo tour so no Frames as backing band. Glen started at 9:05pm and played until around 10:30 before returning to the stage for an encore. He ended up playing through until a few minutes before midnight. It was mesmerising stuff - I've said it before on the blog, I don't think there is a better singer-songwriter going around. If I could play guitar and sing like that I'd stay indoors...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sean Hehir 1st, Joe Sweeney 2nd, Sergiu Ciobanu 3rd

Long run with Fintan starting at 10am. Was travelling at a nice healthy clip all run and it felt very comfortable. Ended up with 21kms on the clock in 1:25:36 (4:04's). If only all runs felt that easy.

We were discussing the Dublin marathon during our run so I was delighted to check the results upon our return to find that Sean Hehir had won the race. Take a bow Sean - that's something to tell the grand-children about! Enjoy the celebrations!

Forgot to mention (perhaps deliberately) that the new darts season started last Friday. After going unbeaten all of last season in the singles I lost the first game of the new season 2-1. I have a list of excuses as long as your arm but that's not taking anything away from the guy who beat me who was a class thrower.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Back to the gym

Very wet and windy outside so took the soft option and headed to the gym. I'd won a 6 month membership to the gym in Oranmore recently so I thought I'd give that a look. A speed session on the treadmill awaited and I settled on running 8 x 800m off a rolling 4 minutes (just to keep the timing simple).

After a 3.5km warm-up, I set the treadmill to 18.9km/hour (3:10/km) and off we went. The first couple of efforts felt really comfortable so I then set the incline to 0.5 for the next couple. Still not happy I then set it to 1.0 for the final 4 efforts. I was jumping off and on the belt whilst leaving it running which was easy enough. I was taking my heart rate at the end of each effort and it was in the range of 145 to 150 so a little on the low side. It would fall to between 65 and 70 before the start of the next effort. A decent enough session but not the same as running outside...

But on a positive note, the knee behaved nicely. Maybe the road isn't the best idea at the moment and I need to do a bit more on the treadmill or on the grass. Yuk.

All up 74.6kms for the week. Nothing special - just ticking over really.

Best of luck to all the Dublin marathoners tomorrow. The forecast looks pretty ordinary, but it should be a good race with a very strong Irish field. I'd like to see Sean Hehir win it - he is in cracking form and would certainly be targeting sub 2:15 if the conditions were good. He'll have good company with the likes of Sergiu Ciobanu and Joe Sweeney running. One thing's is for sure, with no international elites this year it's a very open race.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Lab Results - interpretation and follow-up questions answered

No running today - another rest day!

As promised, here are my notes that I took following my recent VO2 and lactate threshold testing. Many thanks to Paul McNamara for his time in conducting the tests, plus the follow-up interpretation of my results. I also asked a few questions to Paul and his answers are noted below.

Basic Results

There are two lactate threshold readings which are key in measuring running economy. These are LT1 and LT2:

LT1 – 15.2km/hr (3:57/km) @ HR of 140 - a lactate level just above baseline. In other words, to train above this intensity then lactic acid in the blood will start to rise. This results shows I have a high percentage of type 1 fibres (slow twitch). This is my easy run pace. A good idea to run an hour at this pace every few weeks as a session during training.

LT2 – 17.6km/hr (3:25/km) @ HR 161 – my tempo run pace. The pace I could maintain for 1 hour. Above this pace lactic acid is produced at a markedly quicker rate than the body can clear it.

VO2 max (ml/kg/min) – 64.4 (VO2 max pace of 3:06/km @ HR of 169) – this reading is more relative for comparison purposes as it factors in body weight.

VO2 max (L/min) – 5.043 – the maximum amount of oxygen my body can process per minute.

Interpretation

Basic training principle - to improve LT1 and LT2 (your running economy - to shift your lactate curve to the right) I need to focus on running at LT1 pace for my easy runs, and at or below LT2 pace for my tempo sessions. Typical tempo sessions would be:

- 20 minutes continuous effort at 3:25/km pace @ HR 161
- 6 to 8 x 5 minutes off 1 minute at 3:25/km pace @ HR 161
- 6 x mile off 60 seconds at 3:25/km pace @ HR 161 (equivalent to 5:29 per mile)

Over time you should be able to increase the pace of these runs but still be running at the same heart rate. So the objective for me would be to say improve my tempo run pace to 18km/hour or 3:20/km pace at the same heart rate of 161.

It's key to decide on an objective for each speed session. If it’s a threshold session, then maybe select one of the above. If it’s a VO2 type session (quicker running), then maybe cut down the duration of the efforts to say a maximum of 1km, but run them at a quicker pace. More on this in my questions below.

Questions:

1) If you decided to run a longer continuous tempo effort, say 30 mins or 40 mins, what pace/HR should that session be at?

Good question – as a good rule of thumb, allow 2/3 secs per mile for every 5 min of running beyond 20 min. E.g. if you’re running 5:30 per mile (3:25/km) for 20 min of tempo, I would do a 40 min tempo at approx. 5:40 per mile (3:31/km). Even though the pace is reduced your HR and blood lactate will both slowly rise to that expected at LT. If you were to maintain 5:30 miles for the entire 40 min then HR and Blood lactate would likely climb well beyond true LT intensity, and the training load might be too great.

2) What pace should you run for shorter intervals – say 400/600/800 for both 5km and 10km training?

Again, this depends on the objective of the session. If the purpose of the session is to enhance VO2max, or to improve running velocity at VO2max (which is more beneficial) than any pace between 3k and 10k pace would suffice, but 5k pace is optimal. Along with pace you can manipulate the volume of the session and the duration of the recovery for the desired effect. E.g. a classic session might be 16x400 at 97% VO2max (approx. 5k pace) with 200m jog recovery in the same time. Many athletes do this session too fast, with too generous a recovery, which serves to emphasize anaerobic capacity and results in too high a training load. With classic interval training the objective is to improve the rate of recovery.

However if the objective of the session is to become accustomed to running at race pace, than a repetition session might be more appropriate, E.g. 6 x 1k at 5k pace with 3 min recovery, or 6 x 1 mile at 10k pace with 2 min recovery. The emphasis here is on the work-out, rather than on the speed of recovery, so more generous recovery periods are allowed.

On the other hand if you want to work on speed, you might do short repeats at 1500m pace or faster, but with generous recovery. In fact if the focus of the session is on running fast than you should probably allow full recovery. E.g. 10x300 in 45 sec with jog 300m recovery. HR is only relevant in this type of session to gauge how quickly you’re recovering.

If you want to develop anaerobic capacity, or lactate tolerance, than fast efforts with much reduced recovery would be appropriate. You could do this in sets in order to manage the training load, and to accomplish greater volume at this higher intensity. E.g. - 4/5 x (600m @ 1500m pace, 30 sec recovery, 200m fast), 3 min between sets.

3) What are the benefits for me training at a pace above my VO2 max pace of 19.4km/hour (3:06/km)?

Again – we have to ask what the purpose of the session. Both speed and lactate tolerance are relevant for all endurance events and have a place in the training programme - but they become less of a priority as race distance increases. These are critical for 800/1500 athletes, but priority for 10km to Marathon should be a high lactate threshold. For 3k/5k a high running velocity at VO2max is critical. All of these sessions are relevant for all distances, but each will receive a different priority weighting based on the athletes target distance. For you, I would include this type of work – but I would be cautious with it. If doing interval work to boost aerobic capacity than I would avoid exceeding the intensities associated with VO2max.

4) Over what time period can you improve your lactate threshold?

Surprisingly quickly. Although the best progress is slow progress, you could see a marked improvement within 6 weeks off just one LT session per week

5) My current LT2 is at 88% of my VO2 max. What can I realistically improve this too? Is there a rule of thumb?

Efficient athletes can bring this up beyond 92%. I was once measured as having an LT 95% of my VO2max

6) What pace should long runs be at?

LT1 (HR or velocity) is a useful ceiling for long runs. However, as with above, long runs can serve many different purposes, particularly if training for a marathon. For your classic long, slow distance, than any pace at or below LT1 will serve to recruit exclusively type I muscle fibres and enhance their efficiency.

7) Would you incorporate one LT session and one VO2 session into weekly training?

Depends to a large degree on the training phase, target race, etc. But for the most part these 2 sessions are the bread and butter of most long distance runners training week. I would generally do a VO2 session on a Mon, LT session on a Thurs, and a long run on Saturday.

So there you have it. Time for me to buy myself a heart rate monitor - though I might wait until the new Garmins are released in the next few weeks! If anybody has any questions or feedback then I'd be very happy to follow-up on any points raised.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Up and down

Squeezed in a run after work in the fading light. Clocks change on the weekend so it's going to be night runs on the N17 for the foreseeable future. All up 9.2kms in 39:55 (4:20's).

The knee had been really good since Thursday's run and I thought I'd turned the corner. But not so good after this run. Very frustrating.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Wet and dark

Myself, Fintan and Owen for the 6:35am start. Very dark at that time of day and some horrible wet weather to contend with also. Still nice to get it out of the way early doors and ended up with 15.0kms in 1:04:00 (4:16's).

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The 50 break that wasn't

Rest today from the running.

I played snooker in the evening. The first frame was dreadful and I ended up losing on the final black. Then I started to play some decent stuff and I hit a break of high 20s, low 30s in each of the next 3 frames (missing some good chances for more). Then in the last frame I got to 39 before running out of position. I doubled a red for 40, the potted a good pink for 46 leaving myself a tricky red along the cushion which I rolled in for 47. I had a cut back black off the spot for the 50 and I decided to play it with pace and go round the table to try and get on one of the remaining 2 reds. I potted the black cleanly, and the white went in and out of baulk missing all the colours before dropping in the middle pocket to go in-off. So my 54 break was short lived....still nice to hit a bit of form for a change.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Didn't make track

I jumped into the car for the drive to track but hit a traffic jam - it was going to take me at least an hour to get across town so I turned round and decided on doing my own thing in Claregalway.

I settled upon 6 x 5 minutes at my tempo run pace of 3:25/km off a minute. After a 2km warm-up I went straight into it. As it was getting dark it was quite awkward to keep an eye on the watch to see my pace, so I was running more on feel and looking at my results I was a little bit off target. My actual paces for the 5 minutes were:

3:24 / 3:22 / 3:23 / 3:26 / 3:28 / 3:21

Happy enough with that. I got completely soaked for the second time running, but there was again very little wind which is unusual for Galway. I finished up with a 4.4km warm-down to give me 15.8kms for the day.

The knee was okay. I'll rest tomorrow and have a game of snooker instead. Time to start hitting some 50 breaks...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Puddle jumping

After prodding the sore spots on the inside of my left quad close to the knee, I managed to get myself out the door for another long run. My massage technique wouldn't be in any textbook, just find a sore spot and then press it as hard as I can with my thumb, or preferably my elbow, for say 30 seconds. Then repeat in other places...

Met with Fintan and it was lashing down. We were planing on 21kms and after 5 minutes we were both soaked through. It wasn't cold though, and you soon got used to it. The rain did ease off in places, but never quite stopped. I suppose we've been very lucky with the weather from the summer onwards so I have no reason to complain.

Enjoyed the run and finished up with the planned distance in a time of 1:28:35 (4:13's). About a minute slower than last week but it was really wet and we spent most of the run trying to avoid the puddles.

Later that day I went through my VO2 results in details. Very interesting stuff. A full write-up to follow by the end of the week. Gasp, shock, horror - finally some useful material on Matt's blog...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday tempo run

I woke up feeling pretty ordinary. But the knee seemed good - I just don't understand this, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to how it reacts each day. So I was going to go out and try a session of the non-drinking variety.

Wasn't sure what to do as I headed out the door. It was a lovely day with a light breeze, and after a couple of kms warm-up, I decided on running the Claregalway 10km course as a tempo run. Despite the good conditions I wasn't running well - the legs felt very heavy and after going through 5km in 17:59 I wanted to stop. Being a stubborn so-and-so I soldiered on, and as I ran back into the village along the N17, I had the fright of my life as 2 cyclists shouted my name as they rode past me and I nearly jumped up into the ditch! Thank you Jane and Barbara! Running on I was very glad to see the finish running the second 5km in 18:13 for a 10km total of 36:12. Pathetic with another word before that springs to mind.

All up 13.8kms with warm-down. That's 83.0kms for the week. Going nowhere at the moment.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Numbing the pain

A run home from work. Only 8.4kms and nearly pulled the pin after 5 minutes as I was in a fair bit of pain. Soldiered on, got home, shower, tea, down the pub, lots of beer, home after 1am.

The 8.4kms took me 35:58 (4:17's). A lovely evening for running but didn't enjoy it one bit. I did enjoy the pub mind...

Friday, October 18, 2013

Late 10

A late run after work. Stayed local and ran up and down the N17 to give me 10.1kms in 44:48 (4:27's). Some bad news on the thing I'm not allowed to mention - not good. A few beers in the evening whilst sitting in front of the fire watching the tele.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mostly dark

Just myself and Fintan today for the 6:35am start. Very dark at that time of day and started off very tentatively running up towards Carnmore. Lots of chat and the knee seemed okay and after about 45 minutes the sun started to rise so we could at least see where we were running. All up 14.8kms in 1:05:04 (4:24's).

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Massage

No running today. Instead a massage with Brodders. Bloody hell, quads were tight, calves were tight, basically everything was tight. Some really painful spots and spent a few times up on the ceiling. It certainly freed things up and we'll see how the knee is when I run again tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

6 x 800 off 75 second/200m jog recovery

First track session in an age. Again perfect conditions, and after a 5.4km warm-up it was time to split into groups and line up at the start. I was running with Cian and I lead out all the laps. The first one was a really poor effort, then after that I tried to keep them around the 2:30 mark. It's fair to say I was having to work hard enough to get them around that time - clearly I've lost a bit of speed over the last couple of months which I need to work on.

The times were:

2:33 / 2:31 / 2:29 / 2:30 / 2:29 / 2:29

Lots of running wide which I love! The 200m recovery was a very slow jog in 75 seconds.

A warm-down around the roads (3.7km) to give me 14.9kms for the day. Good to be back on the track but clearly work is needed. Rest day tomorrow and a massage.

Monday, October 14, 2013

21 of the best

Long run this morning with Fintan. Another corking day and off we trotted on my local half marathon route. The pace was good from the off - around 4:10's and that's how it stayed for the entire run. All up 21.0kms in 1:27:32.

Knee pulled up a little sore. I think the quad has tightened up again - hopefully a longer run on all the muscle groups will help fix things up and get the knee tracking again nicely.

Track tomorrow. 800's I think...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Magic Run

The plan was to turn the legs over after yesterday's race. Twas planning on an hour - being another glorious day for running. I felt great from the get-go, and the left knee felt as good as it has for several weeks - in fact I could feel the quad more than the knee after yesterday's rub. That has to be a good sign.

I set off running what felt like 4:30/km pace. After about 20 minutes I checked my watch and I was running at 4:08/km pace. Well that sort of pace mis-calculation doesn't happen too often, and if it does, it's normally the other way round. Anyway, I trotted on eventually covering 13.8kms in 56:50 (4:07's). Job done.

That's 82.5kms for the week. Not too bad considering I had a couple of rest days.

I watched the final of the darts in the evening. The Power destroyed Chizzie 6-0 in one of the most one-sided games I've seen in a long time.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

NUIG 8km

Another perfect day for running. Registration was busy and after collecting my number I bumped into the Galway XC champion who coincidentally was attending a massage course at the gym. Well that was my perfect opportunity to get the big man to have a look at my dodgy knee and he spent 10 minutes working on my left quad which was as tight as a nuns nasty. Thank you Jason.

A quick 3km warm-up and then on to the start. I had a bit of a panic as I thought I'd left my timing chip in the car but then realised it was part of the race number. What a muppet. The course looked to be a flattish one, though it was a very twisty affair, with a mixture of terrain that included road, gravel paths and grass. The race started and I took the lead as we started a mini-lap around the university car-park whilst following the lead cyclist.

After completing the lap we were already running into the back-markers but the cyclist had done a good job moving everyone over to let us pass. It was then onto clean road and the lead group included myself, Andrew Annett and John Greaney, We proceeded to run through the Corrib village and then onto Dangan. I was still leading but as soon as we hit the paths around Dangan Andrew took the lead leaving me chasing. I wasn't feeling great and struggled a bit around this section and sure enough Andrew started to pull away.

At around the 4km mark I was still in second place, with John a bit further back. I'd say Andrew had about 10 seconds on me so I thought the race had gone. Some great support running around Dangan with the likes of Gary Thornton and the 2 Brian's cheering me on. The river path on the run back to the Corrib village has been improved and by the time we reached the boat shed at 6km I got the feeling that Andrew was starting to slow. Sure enough I started to reduce the gap and by the time we stepped off the gravel with about 1200m to go I hit the lead.

With tarmac underfoot I immediately felt a lot stronger. I felt in control and knew I could run a decent last km to hopefully close out the race. The last km was full of twists and turns and I was of the mindset that it was 3 minutes of hurt and then it will all be over. With about 600m to go we could see the finish line to the left but there was another loop to run around the quad before crossing the finish line for the win in a time of 26:30. Andrew was a few seconds back in second with a hungover John finishing in third in a shade over 28 minutes.

Happy with that. It's a nice feeling winning a race by catching someone at the death but to be fair to Andrew he is in a different class to me and will only improve from here on in if he can remain injury free. The presentation followed the finish and then a quick 3km warm-down before heading to the gym for a quick shower then off to work. All up 14.0kms for the day.

A huge well done to the organisers and volunteers of the race. With over 400 in the race a huge amount of money will be raised for Jigsaw. Here's a photo of the start:


Here are my splits:

1km 3:17
2km 3:19
3km 3:21
4km 3:22 (13:19)
5km 3:22
6km 3:17
7km 3:19
8km 3:13 (13:11)

Total 26:30

Friday, October 11, 2013

Another rest

I've decided to give the new 8km race out at the NUIG a lash tomorrow morning so with that in mind I decided to rest up today. A couple of beers in the evening and some darts watching. I haven't played darts now in an age...I need to get back on the board to see if I've still got it.

I have all my data back from my VO2 tests that I took recently. I'll be going through the results with the coach next week and once I have that interpretation, I'll post everything up on the blog.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Kinvara

6:45am start in the dark. Myself, Fintan, Gearoid and Owen. A lovely morning for a run and the usual double backs to accommodate the weaker bladder runners. All up 15.0kms in 1:06:32 (4:26's).

Out in the morning to Kinvara to pick up some bits for the stove - yes the weather has turned a lot colder and I'd say we'll be firing up the stove on the weekend. It's still great running weather - nice and cool, plus dry and hardly any wind.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Darts Grand Prix

With 40kms in the legs over the last couple of days I decided to take a rest day.

Been watching the darts this week - the Grand Prix at Dublin. Love the double in double out format. It wouldn't suit my game though as I struggle to hit one double. Taylor is still the man to beat.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

39 minutes

Another beaut of an evening out at Dangan. Due to fading light this was to be the last of the sessions around the pitches - back to the track next week - hurrah!

After a 4.8km warm-up, we were ready to start. The session was 3 x 13 minutes and each 13 minute block was split into 3 zones: 5 minutes at MP (threshold), 5 minutes at quicker than MP (say 15 seconds per km), then 3 minutes easy running (say 4:15/km). I went in with the attitude that I was going to take it fairly handy, so that's what I did.

A long session being 39 minutes in total. I used the first lap of the 2 Gaelic pitches to plot a line that avoided slippery patches, and then tried to keep the run nice and steady without going to the well. By the third set we were running in the dark and I nearly went A over T at one point. At the end of the session the Garmin reported 11.1kms for the 39 minutes and to my amazement it recorded that within that run I had set a new watch 10km PB of 34:53. That must have included 6 minutes of easy paced running which I'm still a little perplexed at - perhaps the data is not to be trusted on the Garmin when running multiple laps (it was close to a 1km loop that we were running). Here is the breakdown:

5:00 - 1.43km - 3:30/km pace
5:00 - 1.53km - 3:17/km
3:00 - 0.70km - 4:18/km

5:03 - 1.45km - 3:29/km
4:57 - 1.54km - 3:13/km
3:00 - 0.67km - 4:27/km

5:01 - 1.45km - 3:27/km
5:00 - 1.57km - 3:12/km
3:01 - 0.71km - 4:15/km

All up 18.5kms with warm-up and down. A pleasing session though I don't trust the data!

Monday, October 07, 2013

Arthur

I decided to do my long run today. The route was using the various local loops around Claregalway. The left knee felt very good after the XC yesterday but I knew that a long run on the roads would be a much tougher test. I started off running at 4:20/km pace but gradually picked up the pace throughout the run eventually clocking 21.1kms in 1:29:48 (4:15's). That's Arthur marathon...

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Galway XC Championships

A day best suited for ark building and was dreading the run on the drive out to Loughrea. By some miracle as I arrived the rain stopped and to be fair it was quite a pleasant afternoon. We were told that all the races were running early so after changing and having a quick warm-up on the course, it soon became apparent that the races were actually running late so some hanging around watching some of the junior races, followed by the women's race, before being called to that start line.

The siren sounded and we were off. As I suspected loads of the juniors started quickly and I deliberately sat back using the first lap as a recce. The course itself was superb - despite all the rain the ground was very firm underfoot and the 1 mile loop had it's fair share of twists, turns, ups and downs. By the end of the first lap I was probably in 7th or 8th position and I took the opportunity to start working my way through the field. All was going well and upon completing the second lap I found myself in 3rd position.

The 2 leaders were a good way up the course and as I started the 3rd lap I knew that 3rd would be as good as it gets. But I was definitely making inroads on 2nd place and as we got about halfway round the lap, the 2nd placed guy stepped off the course promoting me up one position. That gave me a bit of a lift but there was nothing I could do to close down the leader who was flying. As we started the last lap I started to flag. My team-mate Keith went straight past me and I shouted at him to try and close down the leader. From then on I was hanging out for the finish. I almost took a wrong turn as we approached the finish area and after realising I had a decent gap on the runner behind me, I took the opportunity to coast over the line for 3rd position.

Delighted with the run and I certainly performed better than I expected. Very difficult to get into any sort of rhythm and even though the ground was good, you are still being thrown off at different angles each time you land so there is lots of lateral movement. My Garmin measured the run at 6.37kms at an average pace of 3:27/km pace. Not super-quick by any stretch of the imagination but I certainly didn't leave much out there.

Congratulations to Jason who won the race easily. Really pleased to see the big man running well after a long spell of injuries and illness. Certainly nobody could begrudge him that win today. GCH won the team gold in a very tight contest - despite finishing on equal points with Craughwell we won by virtue of our 4th scorer finishing one place ahead of their 4th scorer. So a bronze senior individual medal and a team gold medal - not a bad days work.

All up 12.4kms for the day. And that's 75.0kms for the week.

Got home to watch the end of the football. Tottenham conceded 3 goals in 15 minutes and being somewhat upset by that I had consumed 3 beers in the same time period. Oh well, you can't have it all...

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Celebrating

Work, no run, then out in town for the wife's birthday. A lovely meal, then a few beers which ended up with us catching a short-set by Paddy Casey in Monroe's Live. Not ideal preparation for the XC but I'm only using it as a blow-out and hopefully it will give me the kick up the arse to knuckle down and put in some proper training.

The format of the XC is an interesting one (it's the Galway County Championships). The masters, seniors, intermediates, novices and juniors all start together. Some of the young guns will take it out at a suicidal pace so for me it will be all about timing - start steady and try and peg a few people back at the business end. I've entered as a senior as I can't risk upsetting Gerry and potentially robbing him of a masters county title. The chances of me winning a medal in the seniors - zero - and I'm taking this positive attitude into the race!

Friday, October 04, 2013

Filane

Another late one - using the footpaths on the N17. All up 9.2kms in 39:45 (4:19's). A few beers after that.

Forgot to mention that I watched the last episode of Breaking Bad this week. A very satisfactory ending to a brilliant show. Well worth a watch if you haven't been following it. I've never watched any of the Sopranos and I have the entire box-set here which I got for my birthday. I guess I'll work my way through that over the next year (all 86 episodes on 28 discs)!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Foursome

Myself, Fintan, Owen and Gearoid for the 6:45am run starting and finishing in Claregalway. I didn't have much energy today, but still it's my favourite run of the week. It rained a bit at the start as we were running in the dark but that soon cleared. All up 15.0kms in 1:06:36 (4:26's).

Good to have Owen back amongst the ranks. He has been struggling with injury and illness, and a tendency to eat and drink too much (as we all do). I'm sure he'll be back in flying form soon. Gearoid looks to be in good nick as he starts to wind it back for the Dublin Marathon on October 28th. I'm expecting big things from the slipper wearer.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

XC

A late-ish run after work. It was dark so I was using the footpaths mainly - a lap of the industrial estate, a lap of the housing estate opposite, then an out-and-back along the N17. All up 8.1kms in 34:06 (4:13's).

Please do not adjust your screens - I'm running Cross Country on Sunday. It's only 6km and I'm promised it's not going to be ankle deep mud, but a nice grassy surface. Hopefully I can get the old levers fired up and put in a decent performance... 

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

5 x 1 min, 1 x 12 min, 5 x 1 min

Dangan time. The session was again on the pitches whilst the light remains good and then it will revert back to the track. Roll on that time!

The session was as per the title. We were to get 60 seconds recovery each time, with 90 seconds either side of the longer 12 minute effort. The 60 second efforts were around a single pitch and whilst I felt great running in a straight line, each corner was painfully slow as I'd virtually come to a standstill to turn direction!

I felt a lot more comfortable during the 12 minutes running at my tempo pace. Then straight back into the minutes to finish with.

Looking at the stats, I was averaging around 3:05/km pace for the 1 minute efforts. For the longer 12 minute effort I was running at 3:24/km pace. Happy enough with that as I'm never going to break any records on the grass and paths. A good workout and the shirt completely drenched with sweat at the end - showing that it is still very warm for this time of year.

All up 15.5kms with warm-up and down.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Longer Monday

A bit of a longer run today - 14.8kms in 1:04:10 (4:20's). The same route as used on Thursday. I think I may start doing my longer run on a Monday - that should work better with my weekly scheduling.

The knee still isn't great. Rather than bore you all with any more details I will only comment on the knee if it gets any worse (or better!).

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Grey Lake 10km

I was looking forward to this race - I'd not run the course before so it was something different and the fact that it was the County Championship added a bit more spice to the event. I warmed up with Gerry and Brian and we were commenting on the lovely conditions - that was until we switched direction and realised we had a stiff breeze to deal with.

The course itself was to be a tough one. Lots of hills in the first 5km, then it flattens out with only one notable hill in the second half. That turned out to be pretty accurate. The race started and Gary and Noel hit the front, leaving me chasing. Freya Ross (nee Murray) wasn't far behind as we ran the flat and friendly first km with the wind on the back. As I passed the 1km marker I had a quick look at my watch and the split of 2:55 suggested that the km markers were a little dodgy. Even so, the 2 leaders were already way up the road with me on my lonesome chasing.

The next 4km were much tougher. The pattern was a climb followed by a descent. It was never flat - just up then down. Very difficult to get into any sort of rhythm and I ran as strongly as the legs allowed. By 5km I had reached a church and we made a left turn to be greeted with a long downhill stretch. This was very welcome but I didn't have the change of speed to really attack and I simply coasted down the hill whilst taking a breather.

With the terrain now nice and flat the pace started to pick up and I felt more at home. Sure enough there was only one climb in the final 5km which was as we approached another left hand turn with the run back into Loughrea. By now the wind was on the back and I really tried to press for home. But the damage had been done on the hills and I was struggling for speed.

I crossed the line in 33:55 for 3rd place. Gary won the race in a super 31:00, with Noel Berkeley 2nd in 32:19 and Freya Moss in 4th in 34:36. So I ended up being sandwiched between 2 Olympians!

Pretty disappointed with the time. The course itself was tough and was worth maybe 30 seconds but that still doesn't get me under 33. The rest I would attribute to lack of training. The fact I ran the whole race by myself didn't help either. Excuses, excuses. Basically I haven't been knuckling down with the speed sessions and I think that was apparent today.

A couple of kms warm-down to give me 14kms for the day and 61.2kms for the week. I entered the County Champs as an over 40 and I won that category. With hindsight I should have entered as a senior as I would have picked up a silver medal..,

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Rolling

No running today - resting up before the 10km tomorrow. I missed the Galway Bay 10km and Half Marathon for the first time and the conditions looked good. Hopefully there were some decent race performances to report.

A bit of foam rolling on the left calf. It seems to help the knee so I'll stick with it.

Good luck with anyone competing in the Berlin Marathon tomorrow. I know there is a big contingent of Aussies coming over who I used to race with during my days in Sydney. Good luck to them and hopefully some new PB's to report. I dare say the post race beers will be something else...

Friday, September 27, 2013

Planning

9.5kms in 39:02 (4:07's). I was feeling good even though the knee was giving me the occasional reminder. Great weather for running at the moment - lovely warm conditions and hardly any breeze.

The plan is to race the Loughrea Grey Lake 10km on Sunday. No idea of how I'll go as I haven't done much speedwork lately. But I went through a similar period at the start of the year and ran some decent times on the back of easy running. We shall see. It's a tough hilly course I hear, but there will be a few Olympians running to keep everyone honest. Freya Murray from Great Britain who ran in the London Olympics and with a marathon PB of 2:28 she might be someone to try and latch on to. Plus we have Noel Berkeley running who went to the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. Still a very handy runner recently clocking a low 32 minute 10km. Too quick for me!