Thursday, 28 October 2010

Dublin Marathon 2010

The conditions could not have been more perfect. Cool, bright sunshine and practically no wind. I got to the start line with plenty of time to spare and got much closer to the front that I have traditionally. The race began a few minutes late and we were off down Fitzwilliam Street and over O'Connell bridge in no time. Congestion this near the front was relatively minimal. On North Circular road, about four miles in, I took my second gel; I took one fifteen minutes before gun time.
Shortly afterwards we were in the Phoenix park, which initially involves running up Chesterfield Avenue. This is a gentle uphill gradient. A left turn onto Furze road and I was soon past the 10k mark in a little over forty-two minutes and right on schedule.
Anticipating the hill towards Ballyfermot from Chapelizod it always pays to allow your pace to increase for the next two miles through the park down the Glen road and out the Chapelizod road. These two miles elapsed in 06:34 and 06:38.
By now I was also convinced the mile markers were not very accurate. While a 'Garmin mile' is never the same as a statute mile, the Garmin was bleeping ten to fifteen seconds before I actually passed the marker - either that or the Garmin was on the blink. I put this thought to the back of my mind and kept going.
By now the sub three hour pacers, who had gone out rather fast were just ahead of a group of us and as we approached the half-way point we passed them. At mile fifteen I took another gel, the fifth of the morning and encountered a little bad patch. I resolved to suppress any negative thoughts and knuckled down. The next few miles were very uneventful and I spent much of it concentrating on the sub three pacer sign appendaged to the signlet of the pacer and his little group that joined the few people running around me. This is probably the toughest part of the course and is quite undulating with a small hill and then a larger hill on Roebuck road on the south side of the University College Dublin campus. I negotiated this part of the course better than I have done before and ran an even effort, evidenced by 06:40, and 06:39 mile splits sandwiched between 06:49, 06:46 and 06:53 mile splits, taking me into the last 10K.
As we crossed the UCD flyover I began to dare to believe that my goal was achievable. At this point last year I had to stop and stretch out my cramping hamstrings and I felt pretty terrible. This year I felt strong and confident I could knock out another 06:3x mile if necessary. However, I elected to keep knocking out 06:4xs and hope the wheels didn't suddenly fall off.
Coming up Merrion road and beginning the final 5K, things got a little tougher but not significantly so and was what you would expect to experience in the last three miles of a marathon. I was pleased to knock out three consecutive 06:50 splits to take me towards the finish line.

Photo by Crossing the bridge at Upper Grand Canal street just short of the twenty-five mile mark. No. 2506

Barring a disaster, or my paranoia about the Garmin being correct, I knew I was on for achieving my goal. As we rounded the corner onto College Green I felt a couple of mild cramp spasms and was unable to increase my pace. However, otherwise the final 06:50 mile did not feel any more difficult than the previous identical splits.

Throughout the race I had my Garmin set to display current mile split projection and split average HR. I always display these two pieces of data, reasoning that if you look after the mile splits the overall time looks after itself and I never know exactly how long I have been on a course until I cross the line. Consequently, I was surprised and delighted to see 02:57:xx on the finish line clock as I approached. My Garmin paranoia was unfounded!

Photo by Kim Forsythe: Quarter of a mile remaining and delighted!

I crossed the line in 02:58:05. Absolutely delighted!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

The test

This week, the second week of the three weeks between Koln and Dublin, totalled fifty miles. The main test this week was the ten miles on Saturday with five miles at tempo pace.
I approached this workout with a little trepidation, but if you are not a little apprehensive about a tempo workout then you are not doing then fast enough. It went surprisingly well and the tempo splits were as follows 6:10, 6:23, 6:24, 6:25, 6:11. The first was a bit fast, especially as it was slightly uphill. Normally the first tempo mile is the toughest and slowest, which conditions my willingness to hurt a little more in the first mile as I settled into the pace. Usually this results in a 06:3X split. The later than normal start for this workout might explain the fast time; I usually do this session on Friday morning at 06:30, rather than 10:00am on Saturday.
So far so good, but five miles at tempo is one thing but sixteen miles into a marathon might be a little different!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Hail Mary

Having registered for Dublin in another attempt to go sub three I needed to determine how I would approach the three weeks between Koln and Dublin. I have settle on the following.

Week 1 now complete
Thursday four miles easy, Saturday six miles easy and Sunday ten miles easy. This week went pretty well and feel good but I think anything south of eight minute miles might be a different story!

Week 2
Tuesday eight miles with 100m x 8. Wednesday twelve miles easy. Thursday 6 miles easy. Friday ten miles with five at tempo pace. I will feel my way through this workout and bail if needed. Sunday fourteen miles, giving a weekly total of fifty-two miles.

Week 3
Tuesday six miles easy. Wednesday six miles with two miles at marathon pace. Friday six miles easy.

I am unsure if this will provide the balance between recovery and maintenance of sharpness. Hoping to get under three at Dublin is a bit of a hail Mary pass but worth a shot.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Koln 2010...a tough day at the office

We arrived into Dusselforf airport at midday, following an hour delay at Dublin airport. The same day we went to the expo to collect my number. This was an impressive expo on two large floors. It was not much smaller than Boston.
On Sunday, race day, the race began at 11.30. This is the latest I have ever started a marathon and the heat was beginning to build. The forecast said a high of 23C. A bit warm but I still felt confident. Waiting on the sidelines for the handle bike race to begin and enter the 'red zone' for those intending to run the race in under 03:30 I spotted an Irish running celebrity in the form of Johnny Donnelly of fame. I thought he had almost finished his objective of running a marathon a month for four years for the Seachange charity, which provides microloans for communities in developing countries.
Uncharacteristically the race began ten minutes late but it was not too crowded at the start; the Germnans actually police the pace pens - fancy that! Consequently there was no one flying off at two minutes per mile pace faster than they could sustain over 5km nevermind over a marathon. Within no time we were crossing the Rhine and the first few miles went pretty well and right on target. Things were pretty uneventful for the first ten miles and I was changing places with the same five or six runners. Approaching the halfway mark took us back into the heart of the city centre and the support was excellent with people lined along each side of the street. The street was only about three or four runners wide and it was like running through a tunnel of noise. During the thirteenth mile I looked at my Garmin that registered a split pace of 06:11 but the HR remained fine. However, I backed right off and this mile, the fastest of the race at 06:40 also felt the easiest. I passed halfway in about 01:29:35.
A significant challenge at this time in the race was trying to take on water. It was quite warm now and the race organisers were providing water in plastic cups that split when you try and make a spout so you can drink while moving forward and avoiding pouring the water all over your face and up your nose. Perhaps this problem was what caused what was to happen a few miles later as I felt a few spasms in my right hamstring and then my left. I maintained pace until the nineteenth mile but then the wheels came off and my legs turned to lead. I am unsure if the cramps were related to my legs feeling increasingly heavy over the course of half a mile during mile nineteen. It was amazing how quickly I went from marathon pace to toast.

Photo by K Forsythe: All went south from here.

Suffice to say I knew there and then before I reached mile twenty that sub three was no longer possible. The final seven miles were something of a death march and felt longer than the previous nineteen. The crowd came into its own here and they provided great encouragement.

Photo by Approaching the end

Photo by K Forsythe: About a mile and a quarter to go.

Rather surreally, as we crossed the Rhine again to approach the finish a guy dressed in a Devil outfit, complete with novelty rubber hand beckoned me to high five him. What crossed my mind was how appropriate as I felt like Hell at this point. Over the crest of the bridge, across the Rhine, a left turn and I was done. I finished in 03:12:17. Not a happy camper and my second slowest marathon. However, Koln is an interesting city and the race is one I would recommend. Well organised, fast, reasonably aesthetic route and very good support from the locals. You cannot beat the post race food either; black pudding, bread, coke and non-alcoholic beer!

Photo by Cannot say I remember posing for this. Obviously delirious after the finish.

I choked down some of the black pudding and bread, coke and beer and thought to myself I better stop if I don't want to blow chunks all over the pavement, whereupon I almost stepped in the mess that someone else made making that very mistake. Oh, and post race shower facilites, which was great, so a quick shower and off to get an ice-cream and take a cable car ride.

Photo by K Forsythe: Cable car view of Koln

Well, I was pretty disappointed with my time so actually signed up to do Dublin in three weeks to have another shot at sub three. A long shot and not one everyone would recommend but worth a go considering the start line is less than two miles from my door. Now off to consult with Tim Noakes and Pfitziner & Douglas on how to run two marathons in proximity.

1) - 1m - 6:45(6:45/m) - 167bpm avge
2) - 1m - 6:49(6:49/m) - 171bpm avge
3) - 1m - 6:48(6:48/m) - 166bpm avge
4) - 1m - 6:46(6:46/m) - 169bpm avge
5) - 1m - 6:45(6:45/m) - 171bpm avge
6) - 1m - 6:47(6:47/m) - 171bpm avge
7) - 1m - 6:48(6:48/m) - 171bpm avge
8) - 1m - 6:48(6:48/m) - 172bpm avge
9) - 1m - 6:44(6:44/m) - 170bpm avge
10) - 1m - 6:47(6:47/m) - 171bpm avge
11) - 1m - 6:44(6:44/m) - 171bpm avge
12) - 1m - 6:49(6:49/m) - 170bpm avge
13) - 1m - 6:40(6:40/m) - 169bpm avge
14) - 1m - 6:45(6:45/m) - 171bpm avge
15) - 1m - 6:47(6:47/m) - 170bpm avge
16) - 1m - 6:49(6:49/m) - 170bpm avge
17) - 1m - 6:53(6:53/m) - 170bpm avge
18) - 1m - 6:54(6:54/m) - 171bpm avge
19) - 1m - 7:19(7:19/m) - 169bpm avge
20) - 1m - 7:48(7:48/m) - 163bpm avge
21) - 1m - 8:15(8:15/m) - 160bpm avge
22) - 1m - 8:30(8:30/m) - 158bpm avge
23) - 1m - 8:19(8:19/m) - 159bpm avge
24) - 1m - 8:15(8:15/m) - 159bpm avge
25) - 1m - 8:51(8:51/m) - 158bpm avge
26) - 1m - 8:37(8:37/m) - 158bpm avge
27) - 0.5m - 4:16(8:32/m) - 158bpm avge

Dublin half marathon

I had contemplated racing this race but sanity prevailed and I reverted to the original plan of running it at projected marathon race pace. It was a pretty horrid day and was wet and cool.
I planned to run this as a negative split and took the first eight miles quite comfortably. The second half of this race is somewhat uphill but I felt comfortable increasing the pace and it was a great feeling to overtake dozens of runners on the hills. For the last mile I decided to increase the pace to half marathon pace and I must have overtaken seventy or eighty runners over the last mile and a half. A great confidence booster and I crossed the line on 01:28:16.

Split Summary
1) - 1m - 6:42(6:42/m) - 164bpm avge
2) - 1m - 6:46(6:46/m) - 167bpm avge
3) - 1m - 6:48(6:48/m) - 166bpm avge
4) - 1m - 6:47(6:47/m) - 167bpm avge
5) - 1m - 6:44(6:44/m) - 163bpm avge
6) - 1m - 6:45(6:45/m) - 162bpm avge
7) - 1m - 6:40(6:40/m) - 163bpm avge
8) - 1m - 6:47(6:47/m) - 168bpm avge
9) - 1m - 6:34(6:34/m) - 169bpm avge
10) - 1m - 6:41(6:41/m) - 166bpm avge
11) - 1m - 6:43(6:43/m) - 168bpm avge
12) - 1m - 6:37(6:37/m) - 171bpm avge
13) - 1m - 6:25(6:25/m) - 173bpm avge
14) - 0.23m - 1:19(5:43/m) - 172bpm avge