Saturday, 6 December 2008

Aware 10K

Today I competed in the Aware 10K in the Phoenix Park. I made it out there at about 9.00am. The sun was just coming up over the Dublin skyline off to the east and combined with the frost laden ground was a very picturesque scenario.
Unfortunately, with this came ice on the park's roads. This was a major concern for the organisers as the start approached. I jostled my way to the front and as we set off I decided to follow those who had ran over ground in front of me and not come a cropper. Conditions were fairly treacherous underfoot but I did not see anyone take a tumble thankfully. My first mile went well elapsing in 06:29; mile two in 06:16 and mile three in 06:11. A sub forty minute 10k was looking possible. Mile four, which was primarily downhill elapsed in 06:14. Mile five passed in 06:33; during this mile we began an uphill section and mile five was a series of undulating hills that I found very tough and my heart rate went into the 180s. Mile six I slowed considerably and this is where I lost the possibility of achieving a sub forty, completing it in 06:58. On a positive I responded well in the last kilometre, which was a gentle negative gradient, completing it in less than four minutes. I crossed the line in 40:21, which beat my previous PB by twenty-eight seconds so I was very pleased with the morning's work!
The picture is of the Waterloo Obelisk, commemorating the Irish General, Arthur Wellesley's, AKA the Duke of Wellington, victory over Napoleon in June 1815.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008


I signed up for the Connemarathon yesterday. It takes place on 22 March next year near Maam cross in Co. Galway. Anyone who has competed in this event always has great things to say about it. The website is a pretty slick affair with video footage of previous events and a detailed history. It's a tough course, lots of undulating hills and if I get near 3hr 15mins there I will be doing very well indeed. The scenery and unique location of this event are what appear to make it such a great event.
I will need to alot more speed and hill work for this event. I am making my way through Daniels' running formula and will use it to develop a more structured training schedule for myself, which I hope will pay dividends after Christmas.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Dublin marathon 2008

It was a cold but bright morning as I set off for the start this morning. I made it into work at 07:35, which is about a ten minute walk from the start line. It was a perfect place to get myself sorted and hang out in the office nice and warm before making my way to the start line.

Rather surprisingly we started bang on nine o' clock. I had delayed acquiring satellites on my Garmin until about 08:52 and it was having a little trouble acquiring the sats. I was almost taken by surprise at the start and as I shuffled my way to the start line it still had not acquired sats. By a great stroke of luck it acquired the sat about two seconds before I reached the start line.

I had not pushed my way as close to the start line as I usually do. As this was my first 26.2 I thought if I hung back a little the necessity of pushing through the crowd in the first mile would stop me going off too quickly. It was extremely congested and it worked, perhaps too well; a first mile split of 08:56. I believe this is the slowest recorded mile I have ever done since I took up running semi-seriously in June 2007.
Mile two was 07:41 and mile three 07:26. This brought me back nicely to approaching an aimed for first half average mile split of 07:35. Mile four 07:22, mile five 07:23. We were now in Phoenix park and it was a glorious morning to run in that location. The field had nicely spread out. Mile six, 07:36. I was now feeling very comfortable and finding it hard to discipline myself into not increasing the pace closer to my half marathon pace. Mile seven, 07:35, mile eight 07:17. Mile seven and eight were the reverse of the toughest part of the half marathon the previous month and I had to really hold myself back from going too quick here. Still sixteen miles to go.
Mile nine 07:12; mile ten 07:24, mile eleven 07:15, mile twelve 07:23, mile thirteen 07:31. As I approached the first half point my average split was 07:31, four seconds faster than target and I was feeling very comfortable. At this point I was wondering if I was under racing and resolved to pick up the pace a little and see how I went over the next three miles.
Mile fourteen, 07:17, mile fifteen, 07:11, mile sixteen, 07:15, mile seventeen 07:13. At this point I attached myself to two blokes with Connemarathon t-shirts and drafted behind one of them. Mile eighteen 07:07, mile nineteen, 07:04. I was getting faster as the race went on and was delighted with how I had approached it and a sub 3:15 was looking good.
At this point we went up a long steady hill along Clonskeagh road, and Roebuck road. I had heard this was the toughest point in the race. It was tough but not as bad as people think. Mile twenty passed in 07:22. I have recently, improved on hills and am delighted that at the half and today's race I always managed to pass many people on hills. I owe this ability to hill intervals on the treadie once a week and a US Runner's World article that advises you to maintain effort not pace on hills and slow down a little before you actually reach the hill. Then with about eighty per cent of the hill completed increase your turnover and power up over the crest of the hill, using momentum to allow you to get back into your pre-hill stride as quick as possible; it works a treat.
We now turned left onto the Stillorgan road and I was glad to see a very familiar sight of almost all my training runs-the Poolbeg powerstation towers; this brought out a little smile. However, the smile was wiped off my face when I realised we were running straight into a stiff enough headwind. Mile twenty-one, 07:19. I was dealing with the headwind pretty well.

During mile twenty-one we turned right onto Nutley Lane. It was when I strode onto the first speedbump without anticipating it that I realised things were taking a turn for the worse. My muscles did not react too well to this suddenly uneven surface and my left calf and hamstring gave out a little. Mile twenty-two 07:11, I was finding it sudddenly not as comfortable anymore but was maintaining pace very well. Mile twenty-three, 07:25, mile twenty-four 07:29. I was definitely slowing down and the miles I am quoting are 'Garmin' miles. In any race you do not take the most efficient 'line' and the weaving in and out between people and not going around the inside of some corners obviously adds to the distance. You will always run about 26.3.-26.5 in a marathon, rather than exactly 26.2. The time that was elapsing between when the Garmin bleeped and when I passed the mile marker was growing.

Mile twenty-five, 07:38. My hamstrings were getting increasing sore now and as we approached Fenian street I knew I did not have it in me to increase my speed again. I did however, use runners around me to insert a number of surges as they tried to pass me and I was delighted that I was able to fend off almost all challenges with the exception of three. Mile twenty-six 07:28, the surges had worked and as I came down Nassau street and turned right onto Merrion Square East I sprinted the last 0.2 and passed two of the three runners who passed me at about mile twenty-five.
I came home in a chip time of 03:15:53. I am very pleased with this and would have been very happy with anything sub 03:20. Not too bad for a first marathon; however, I have done five halves in the last year so while I it was my first marathon I was more race prepped than most first timers.
If I do Connemarathon next March I do not expect to do as well on a much tougher course. March weather does not appeal too much to me either. However, I will probably sign up for it despite reason saying otherwise! Then again, what has Marathon running and reason got to do with each other!

Friday, 24 October 2008

Dublin half marathon

This took place in the Phoenix Park on 20 September. It was unusually warm. I believe it was about 20 celsius. The sky was pretty clear. Consequently, it was better than almost any day this 'summer'. I saw a few familiar faces from last year, especially the Tamar runners from Cornwall.

The first five and a half miles of this race are quite fast and the elevation is actually negative. Then it is two laps of three hills. Last year I did okay on the first lap of three hills but hit the wall on the second lap.

This year I decided not to hold back as much on the first five and a half miles. I calculated that you don't make it back from mile six on so I decided to put the hammer down a bit more than I did the previous week in Bristol.

First mile split in 06:38, second mile in 06:42. Mile three on 06:43 and at this point my heart rate was 175bpm. I little high at the time I thought but as it happened this was close to my average HR for the entire race. Mile four split was 06:35. I was beginning to wonder at this point if I was overdoing it. Mile five 06:36; then we hit the first of the hills at about 5.50miles into the race. That week I had read an article in the US version of Runner's World that advised slowing down at the bottom of a hill and maintaining effort rather than pace until you approached the crest of the hill, at which point it advised speeding up to build up momentum as you go over the crest of the hill. This also allows you to hit the flat again at a good pace rather than trying to build you pace back up again on the flat. This worked a treat and was the opposite of how I approached the hills last year. I also found that I passed runners before the crest of a hill that had passed me at the bottom. Additionally, once I passed them at the crest of the hill I never saw them again for the remainder of the race; a great vindication of this approach!

Mile seven split 07:06; mile eight 06:55, the second half of this mile flattening out again. Mile nine, 06:41 and mile ten 06:36. These two mile were the 'break' before the last three undulating miles of hills and a great confidence booster as it proved I has enough in the tank to take the first set of hills and respond with two fast splits, including my second fastest split of the race.

Mile eleven 07:02, which was the second 'lap' of mile seven and four seconds faster than the first 'lap'; another confidence booster. I was getting fast as the race went on. Mile twelve split of 07:02, seven seconds slower than the first 'lap' at mile eight. New PB not guaranteed yet! Mile thirteen 06:58.

At this point I had 0.1 of a mile to go but could not see the finish! It was a deceptive finish as it took a 100 degree left hand turn right at the end, you almost come through the finish leaning to your left and you do not see the clock until about 100 metres to go and it read 1:29:28 so I put the hammer down and went through the line in 1:29:52 with a chip adjusted time of 1:29:45.

Delighted with a new PB and I broke the elusive 1:30:00 barrier on a tough course. Interesting to know how I would have done at Bristol if I had not had the traumatic twenty-four hours before it that I had; especially so as Dublin is a tougher course. If, buts and maybes; I'll not worry too much on a day I got a PB!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Bristol half

The twenty-four hours before this race was more eventful than the race itself. I came into this race with a fairly serious niggle in my left calf and my right calf was not feeling too clever either. The night before the race I took an anti-inflammatory. Unfortunately, it transpires that it contained aspirin, which I am allergic to. My eyes swelled up, such that I was doing a pretty good impression of the Elephant man. Additionally, it induced an asthma attack. Not surprisingly I did not have a great night's sleep, getting less than six hours. The following morning the swelling had gone down considerably and my asthma abated. Consequently, I decided to do the race. Kim, my better half, was not impressed but I was more worried about the aforementioned calf than the allergic reaction.
Before the race began I availed of the on-site physio. He was excellent and informed my that my soleus was 90 per cent strained. The massage was excellent and I proceeded to the start with a little less trepidation. We got off a little after nine-thirty. I was hoping to break the ninety minutes barrier in this race. First mile was a 06:51 split so spot on for a sub ninety minute run, a little fast if anything. Mile two 06:47, mile three 06:52, mile four 06:49. At this point I was confident of my race plan and how things were going. At this point we had passed under Brunel's famous Clifton suspension bridge. Mile five, 06:42, a little fast so decided I better ease off a little as I was not half way yet. Mile six 06:49, mile seven 06:48, mile eight 06:45, mile nine, 06:54. It was mile nine that things suddenly got very tough for me. I could feel my face was swelling up again and I did not feel great. The lack of sleep was also beginning to take its toll. The picture associated with this blog was taken by Kim at about mile nine and a half. Not a pretty sight! Mile ten, 06:50, it was grit your teeth time at this stage. Mile eleven, 06:49. Mile twelve, 06:54. I was suffering at this point and my running economy had gone to hell. The cobbles at this point made that pretty clear! Mile thirteen, 06:53.
I crossed the line in 1:30:33. My average mile splits read at 06:49, which should had me finishing under the ninety minute mark but as often with large events and courses you travel more than the 13.1. This is a result of weaving in and out between people and overtaking groups on the outside of a corner, thereby not taking the most distance efficient line. My Garmin 405 registered my run as 13.29 miles.
Needless, to say, I was just delighted to have completed the race and in still a pretty good time considering the preceding twenty-four hours!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

First post

Lately I have noticed the plethora of excellent running blogs . I had a general blog but could never find the motivation to maintain it. So, why not create a blog on a subject you are interested in and might actually maintain? So here is the beginning of my contribution to running blogs out there.

The standard of writing in these blogs is surprisingly good and I hope mine might prove vaguely interesting. I recently completed a half marathon in Bristol and the Dublin half. I will write a report on each of these soon. In the meantime my first photo contribution is a picture of me participating in the Sheffield half marathon this year. I completed in a time of 1:30:13 a PB at the time.