Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Waterford A/C Half Marathon

After last years PB of 1:37 in Waterford I was aiming to bring it under 1:35 this year and with the better time set in Dublin and the Stook 10mile race a few weeks back I figured I was in decent shape for it. 

So race day arrived and I made the a pretty big mistake, I thought the race started at 12pm so I had planned to arrive down at 11.30am, however I only realized at 9:50 that the race started at 11am so it was a mad rush to get out the door and drive down to Waterford.

I arrived around 11:45 so made very good time thanks to the motorway, I had a good idea of the course this year compared to last years course as I'd already ran some of these routes in Waterford or cycled them over the years.

I was pretty hopeful that I'd get sub 1:35 so I put myself in between the 1:30 and 1:40 pacers and could see the 1:30 pacers up until maybe mile 2-3 so started off at a much faster pace then expected. Legs felt very stiff for the first 4miles or so which was likely due to the lack of warm up and it took awhile for them to relax, once that happened I felt pretty good until around mile 11 when I started to struggle abit...but I kept going as best as I could.

Finished with official chip time of 1:34:43 so thrilled with the improvement over last years PB. now upwards and onwards to sub 1:30 :)

Paces for each mile
Finish time: 1:34:43
Garmin log of the run.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Stook 10mile

After Dublin I figured I was in pretty good shape and since I hadn't ever ran a 10mile race I signed up for the Stook 10mile in Co Kilkenny.

I meant to sign up for this race last year but never got around to it,

I had hoped on hitting a personal best during this run and beating the 1:13 I set in training for running a 10mile, however I was wary that this may not be do-able considering the Stook 10mile had a number of hills including one big hill to climb before mile 8 but I figured I "might" be able to make up for this on the flying mile.

What is the flying mile I hear you ask?

Well, the flying mile is mile 8 - mile 9 during the race that's all down a very steep hill. It even has timing mats at the start and end of the mile so its great fun to see if you can set a fast pace.

Elevation showing climb & flying mile
The only downside about the flying mile is you can't give it everything you got because you still have another mile of running to do to get to the finish line and this includes a slight climb,

Seriously enjoyed 8-9 as I managed a 6min mile (63rd Rank) even with the hill climbing still in the legs. Very well organized and supported race. Not the PB of 1:10 or under I had hoped for but really enjoyed it.

Finish time: 1:13:12 (69th Place)
Garmin log of the run.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dublin City Marathon..Take 3

So another year and another Dublin Marathon, this being my third Dublin Marathon I was determined to get sub 3:30 and I felt reasonably confident i could pull things off this year.

I was queuing for the loo for ages and this made things a bit awkward for getting to the start line on time, I did just about make it and push in to the 3:30 area but I was at least 2-3min behind where the 3:30 pacers would actually be.

So until just before the Phoenix Park I was playing catchup with the pacers, as the miles went on I figured I could comfortably hit 3:28.

However, I got too confident and I ended up ahead of the pacers until almost mile 20. Started to struggle after 20 and ended up walking for the first time at mile 23. 

Finish time of 3:33:33 in the end so abit disappointed but not as bad as I thought it would be as the finish clock was showing nearer to 3:36

Atleast this time around I ran into issues at mile 23 instead of mile 18 so my endurance is improving when it comes to running a marathon at a faster place.   I'll defiantly get under 3:30 in 2014 and maybe even closer to 3:20! 

Finish time: 3:33:33
Garmin log of the run.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Carlow/Kilkenny Marathon

Its been awhile since I ran a marathon so I decided to take this one nice and easy and purely use it as a long slow run towards training for Dublin, this time around I wanted a sub 3:30 in Dublin!

So with that in mind I signed up to the Carlow/Kilkenny Marathon.

Its a route I ran loads of times of during my training for Connemara Ultra earlier in the year so I was looking forward to getting back on it as I hadn't been on it for months.

For once it was nice to have to only travel around 10miles, so with that in mind I didn't have to get up nearly as early as many other marathons I've traveled to.

Nice crisp morning to start with and everyone met up outside Kilkenny Castle and we all got the bus to Carlow to the start line.

Didn't push the pace too much and kept things comfortable for the vast majority of the run.
However I did experienced some muscle pain (left leg again!) and a blister at mile 24 and walked a little on and off due to this.

I did manage to finished in under 4hours but the course was measured long so the official time is over 4hours as once I hit 26.2miles I walked the last bit so this is why the time is over.

Joined Marathon Club Ireland earlier in September so had a chat to a good few people from the club after the finish, most of the people taking part seemed to be MCI members.

Finish time: 4:03:25
Garmin log of the run.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

10 Marathons in 10 Days - Day Three...the aftermath

So early start for the day of the marathon and had a 2hour+ drive ahead of me to get to Sixmilebridge....this perhaps was not the best preparation before such a run.

Arrived much earlier then I had planned and in-line with recent weather you could tell it was going to be a hot hot day and this was going to be an issue for me later in the day.

Although it was a very hot day I figured I'd try to get into the 3:40's and hope for the best. The heat was a big worry for me as 1. I burn like crazy and 2. No matter how many times I've run in any sort of heat I always fall apart very quickly.

Things however surprised me and the first half actually went pretty well,
First Half

However, as you can see from the miles things went quickly down hill on the second half of the marathon to the point where I ended up walking a number of times and was still experiencing muscle pain in my left leg.
Second Half
While not as bad as Portumna its clear the damage I did to my muscle during the Cabot Relay is very much still a factor.

I was glad as hell to get to the finish line and the plastic tub full of water was very much welcome to try cool down and relax the muscle's abit.

Finish time: 4:08:00
Garmin log of the run.

Friday, July 5, 2013

10 Marathons in 10 Days - Day Three

So after the disaster that was Portumna I'm still going ahead with 10-in-10 Day Three Marathon event in Co Claire tomorrow, although the event is for 10 marathons I could only manage to fit in one this week.

My original aim was to aim for 3hrs 30min during the event in order to set a new PB, but due to the issues in Portumna and lack of training I'd say I'll be lucky to hit even near Dublin 2012's time of 3hrs 41min.

Not what I had hoped for when I signed up to the event a few months back but I'm still going to enjoy it as best I can.   My aim is to try keep a average pace of perhaps 8:40min/mile and see how things progress.

The fun starts at 2pm tomorrow,

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The return to Portumna 50km

This was my second attempt at the Portumna 50km and I have to say back in February or April I was  hopefully of knocking maybe 20min+ off of last years time,

However, that was not to be.

I suppose first thing's first, the last long run of 20mile+ I did was at the start of May when I paced 5hrs at the Limerick marathon, add to this that I really didn't fully properly get back into training after either the Connemara Ultra or Limerick and finally I really did a number on my legs on the Calbot Trail.

I knew my legs weren't right going into this but figured I'll give it a shot, see if i can shave anytime of last years time and worst come to worst I'll put it down as a sort of training run.

A slightly later start then last year as the 50km started at 10am this time around, made the journey on my own this year as well as my wife had other commitments so was unable to be my fan base.

Courtesy of Peter Mooney
Started off aiming for something under 9:00min/mile, all was going reasonable well until mile 10 when I started to just feel awful in general. In an attempt to feel better I slowed down and actually ended up walking for a short while.

Very much feeling the pain!,
Courtesy of Peter Mooney
Mile 16 onwards turned into a slog and it was effectively run/walk all the way to the finish after that.

I'm a stubbern fecker when I want to be so I refused to drop out and give myself a DNF even though my muscles in my legs (particularly my left leg) were absolutely killing me

Was this a smart idea? Of course it wasn't. But that didn't stop me from being an idiot at the time.

Finish Time: 5:23:24
Garmin log of the event.

On a side note, I will say that my Garmin Forerunner 305 battery has really degraded alot lately, in April I just barely got 6hrs 30min out of it for the Connemara Ultra.   During Portumna it died at 4hours 50min and since then I've started to get battery warnings more often.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cabot Trail Relay, Nova Scotia Completed!

Team Logo
During the weekend I made the trip over to Nova Scotia in Canada to run two stages of the Cabot Trail Relay as part of the team "Seventeen Runners",  couldn't ask for a nicer invitation.

First thing is first, I've learned two things from the weekend.
1. When they say gentle slopping hills, they actually mean hills worst then the hell of the west in Connemara.
2. The atmosphere during the Cabot Trail Relay is great, its basically a constantly moving party!

So early start and although I missed the start of stage one we started off around 9am, the plan was basically to leap frog the entire trail throughout the next 25hours or so to support our team with water etc.

We weren't on our own however as we had three other cars on the road leapfrogging to make sure people got picked up from finishes and people were ready for the start of their stage.  In total we had 17 stages to complete and 14 runners to do it.

My first sight of the really big hills on the course was stage 4 (see photo below) which one of my cousins took on, this stage included a climb of around 320metres over 2.1km which as we drove up to it started to make my wounder to myself about agreeing to do stage 9 and if it really such a smart idea after all, too late to back out now though!
Scary ain't it, note the steep roadway on the mountain
My next encounter with insane hills was stage 9 which another one of my cousins was taking on, this included a 385metre climb and then approx a 385metre decent on the other side, total of 17.5km.  Even though it was around 17c most of the day there was snow on the top of this hill. This was the highest climb on the course and it was pretty serious.

So during the day we continued leap frogging and supporting our team and others with stereo speakers tapped to the roof of the car and a large LED scrolling screen with different messages :)

Stage 11: - Garmin Link
My first stage started at 11.03pm on Saturday night, this initially started off with a climb for the first 5.8km. It then involved a decent of 460metres to bring me back to sea level, but after descending I first had to climb two more hills before the finish.

Elevation profile for Stage 11

My initial perhaps slightly ambitious idea was to complete the 14km in 1hr or less using the descent to gain as much speed as I could and then take it easier for the stage 13 which I'd then be starting at 2am on Sunday morning.

I started off pretty fast but I did suffer with muscle pain during the decent, in fairness I'm not used to hills. My mile laps broke down as follows:
1mile splits for Stage 11

As you can see from my laps and pace (below) I faltered on the last two laps and actually ended up walking as the two climbs with such a large decent basically thrashed my legs.
Pace throughout Stage 11

However, even with the walking on the last two laps I still managed a respectable 18th place out of 71 so I was thrilled with that.

Oh and talking of the large LED scrolling screen, here's what the guys had written on it for my stage 11 :)

Stage 13: - Garmin Link
So with my legs thrashed I got to change socks, get a very small amount of food, some water and a rest of about 1hr before I had to run stage 13.  Stage 13 as you can see from my previous blog post is described as gentle slopping hills.....yeah right!

It did include some relatively flat parts but it just seemed to me to be endless drags during which I was climbing, But yet looking at the elevation on the garmin I guess the effect was down to my legs being thrashed as it wasn't all that hilly.

My original aim was to run stage 13 at a much slower 8:30min pace but this went out the window for me at mile 3 as I knew I couldn't keep that pace for the rest of the stage as my muscles started tightening alot and I had to stop and stretch.

Near mile 7 this happened again but this time when I went to stretch my muscles started to spasm so I knew the rest of the stage wasn't going to go to very enjoyable, after this I took on a run/walk strategy which worked reasonably well as I also had hills to content with.

I stayed with two people from different teams for perhaps 1mile at one stage but eventually I had to stop and walk again as I was in agony, however I then started picking up the pace alot more anytime i started running after walking. 

This allowed me to pass one of the two people just before the finish line dispite the fact they had been perhaps 500-600metres ahead of me at one stage.   I finished 48th out of 71.

Overall a seriously enjoyable event and I'd do it again in a heartbeat, the only difference I'd make is to space out the stages more so instead of doing one stage and then having approx 90min before the next I'd like maybe 7-8hours.

The obligatory team photo - Go Team!

So what is my conclusion to the event?
Without a doubt I really need to work on hill work, that is a problem as where I live isn't particularly hilly but its something I'm certainly going to have to work on and its worth improving on as it will benefit me over all.

Oh, one last thing I forgot to mention, the teams can volunteer to cover water stops so with this in mind the teams tend to choose a theme for them, themes I saw included Superhero's, Christmas, Starwars (stage 13....nothing makes you chuckle more when you're banjaxed going up a hill then a stormtropper handing you water) and the village people (see video/photo below)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ready to go!

So, what exactly do I need for a two legs of a relay in another country that's far far away?

The answer, not alot in my case!

I'm keeping packing to a absolute minimum as I want to carry everything hand luggage for ease of on/off planes and more importantly my running gear has to be with me as I'm not taking any chances that it'll go missing!

So off I go this evening, over 15hrs of traveling and I'm back in a few days. I'm going to be so jet lagged :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cabot Trail Relay Race 2013 (Nova Scotia)

So I got a pretty big surprise the other day when I was asked to take part in the Cabot Trail Relay Race in Nova Scotia, Canada.

The race is 185 mile/276.33 km 17 stage event beginning in Baddeck, Cape Breton, over steep mountains in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, through many small communities around the famous Cabot Trail.

The race is on the weekend of the 25th - 26th May and I'll be running two of the stages, the first of which includes over a 400m drop and the second which is relateively flat, both will be at night so sadly I'll miss the views.

The elevation profile for the race can be seen below, some serious climbs that make the hell of the west in Connemara look easy in comparison: (click to view larger image)

My two stages are 11 & 13, as you can see the initial climb and drop in stage 11 is impressive. By comparison stage 13 is a handy number. More details on both of these are below:
This interrupts my training somewhat for Portumna 50km but I couldn't pass up the chance and it looks to be a seriously enjoyable event. So here's looking forward to it! :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

So what are the plans now?

So the Connemara Ultra is over and I completed it without any major issues, over the past two weeks I've been trying to work out what I want to aim for before the years end and my ultimate aim will be without a doubt a sub 3:30 but ideally a sub 3:20 Dublin Marathon this year.

Although I'm not sure about sub 3:20 I know I can pull off sub 3:30 as I was on track for this last year until mile 18 when I experience some awful muscle pain which put that dream out the window.

I have the endurance built from doing the likes of Donadea and Connemara so I'm going to work on keeping that but I just now need to work on speed. I'm also going to keep the training consistent rather then dropping weekly miles during the summer month.

So with that in mind part of my training and race plans are:

- May: Limerick Marathon (pacing 5hours)
- June: Portumna 50km
- July: 10 in 10 Marathons: Day Three

I've not yet picked any event for August but my aim for Limerick will be purely to use it as part of my training for Portumna, for Portumna I'd like to hit the 4:20-4:30 target which I initially aimed for in February with Donadea.

In July I'm going to aim for sub 3:40 depending on what state I'm in after Portumna, sub 3:40 will beat last years PB set in Dublin of 3:41:44.

In some ways I'm disappointed as last year I figured I'd aim for the Portumna 100km this year, I think at this stage this would be a foolish move and whilst I "may" complete it I think it may do more harm then good.  Its still disappointing though to not go ahead with my initial plan.

I think for now I'm going to stick to marathons and the shorter ultra marathon distances and work on improving my times,

Doing Connemara Ultra has somewhat changed my outlook on marathons, whilst I may not do them in very sort times I look at them as less of a crazy distance then I once did.     A few days ago I mentioned to my wife I wanted to sign up to one of the days of 10 in 10 in July and when she asked how far it was I replied I  "don't worry, sure its only a marathon" :)

Finally, on a more serious note, my heart goes out to anyone affected by the events at the Boston marathon yesterday evening.  Due to the three deaths so far and likely a large amount of people receiving amputations (based on the news) its likely so many people's lives will never be the same again.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Connemara Ultra Marathon 2013

As time got closer to this run I really started to doubt myself, after last years marathon in Connemara of 4:14 and being in bits afterwards I started to doubt if it was a good idea to expect my body to run that marathon and then 13.1miles on top of it.

Unlike last year where I wanted a sub4 marathon; for the Ultra I just wanted to finish, if that took me 6hours or 8hours I wasn't going to be annoyed. I just wanted to put in the miles.

So on the basis of me perhaps not being in a very fit state to drive back to Kilkenny after the race I opted to stay in B&B near Oughterard just outside of Galway for the night before and after the race.

On the way to Oughterard I collected my race pack in Elvery Sport and that went off without any problems. In fact I found it much better organized then the collection point setup last year.

So early start on race day, when I got up and looked at the race numbers the nerves really started to hit home and I started to doubt if the trying to run 39.3miles was really that good of an idea. It was too late now....

Before the race all the ultra runners had to attend a pre-race brefing, during the race briefing the race director mentioned that back in 2010 Hannah Shiels who was the first Irish women to climb Everest commented to him that it was harder than climbing Mount Everest.  I'm still not sure if this was a do-motivation or a motivational comment to make but I'm sure it also made some others doubt what they were about doing.

So everyone was bussed out to the ultra start line which was around 1mile from what would be the finish line later in the day.      Off we went and straight away I kept an eye on my pace, previously in Donadea I started off much too fast at the start so I was determinated not to make such a idiotic and costly mistake during Connemara.   My aim was mintain a min of a 9.00min/mile pace throughout but ideally slower at around the 9.15 mark.

My only other concern at this stage was that for the first mile of the race we were running into a strong enough wind, knowning the layout of the course I hoped that this wind would be gone later in the day or the last 10miles+ would not be fun later in the day. I was wrong....

So I kept pretty much a steady avg 9.08 pace for the first 5miles or so on my own and then around 5miles I got talking to a chap called Troy.  I have to say this made the time fly and before we knew it we had reached the 13mile mark.

Unfortunately I really wasn't paying as much attention as I should have and I completely forgot about my 13mile drop bag, this will of course teach me for not writing it on my arm like somebody on suggested.   Not the end of the world though as I had enough gels and stuff with me. My important bag drop was at the 26mile mark.

Myself and Troy, met up with another chap at around the 19mile mark (I think his name was Steven) and we paced together all the way to near Leenane where the half marathon started, this is also the point where we started running into the wind and it was hard going.

I've had a a very painful muscle problem in my left leg since after I did a 28mile training run around 4 weeks ago and I had hoped it wouldn't be much of an issue but coming into Leenane at the 25mile mark it started to flare up and I dropped off the pace and started run, walking.  

At this stage I took on two painkillers and kept run, walking to the bag drop point at mile 26mile.

At mile 26 I took maybe 2-3min to just try and refresh myself and took on some crackers and some flat coke, my strategy was then to run-walk up the hills out of Leenane. This worked fine and I met up with one of the lads who I was previously running with that I had dropped off at mile 25 from.

By about the mile 27-28mile mark the pain killers had kicked in and the flat coke had given me the boost I really needed, I took on abit more flat coke at the 32mile bag drop.

The two of us then run-walked (mainly ran) until the beginning of the climb to the hell of the west, at that stage we met up with Troy so the three of us started the climb of the hell of the west aiming for run the lengths of three electrical poles and then perhaps walking one or two lengths.  

This strategy worked well and we made good progress passing a good few people who were doing the marathon and ultra, this gave me a good mental boost.

At the top of the hell of the west there was basically a group of around five ultra runners so we started the decent towards the finish at a pace I knew the legs wouldn't be able for this as the group had picked a v fast pace compared to my pace throughout the rest of the race. Mile 39 for example was at a 8.08mile/pace even with me walking some of it!

I just couldn't keep at this pace so eventually I fell off the group of 5 and I ended up walking towards the finish, as I got closer I saw my garmin was at 6.28 so started running again as I wanted to get across the line in under 6.30.

So I finished with an official chip time of 6hours 29min 21seconds, this puts me in 83rd place out of 190 finishers. Link to my garmin for the race.

Overall I really enjoyed the race and infact after I crossed the line I felt in decent shape compared to say when I finished Portumna or Donadea 50km's. I only needed a short few seconds to get myself together to head to the ultra runner finish area at which stage I was glad to get a chair.  I even said to somebody in the finish area that I enjoyed it and I'd def do it again.

One thing that was very refreshing is at no stage during the race did I kind of say to myself "what the hell are you doing?", instead despite the muscle pain and miles I was in good form and actually felt i had the finish in the bag from mile 28-29 onwards.

I have no doubt that had the wind not been an issue from around mile 22 onwards that I likely would have managed to finish in perhaps 6hrs 20min as it really knocked alot out of me, but who knows?

Its my third ultra and I have to say given it knocked so much out of me last year doing the marathon I'm happy with the outcome, who knows....I may do it again next year :)

Whats next?  Well I'm pacing 5hours for the Limerick Marathon so looking forward to that.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Countdown to Connemara

So this date next month I'll be taking part in the Connemara Ultra Marathon, it'll be my first time ever running a distance of 39.3miles and I'm expecting it to be hard going.   My aim is just to finish it and hopefully be in a somewhat decent state afterwards.

Last year I ran the marathon so I know the course is hard..especially the last 13miles of it and just when you think that was hard the last 2miles really knock the stuffing out of you! (see the course profile below)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Donadea 50km

Very late with the race report but here goes anyway......

This was my second venture into the realms of Ultra running and I went in feeling abit more hopeful then the first one back in June 2012.

My aim was to improve on my last time in Portumna by in the region of 20-30min, having just previously run a 8:14min pace 22mile run three weeks before I figured I was in good shape and I'd be able to keep a decent pace to hit my target.

So the morning of the race arrived and I was feeling so so about my chances, got set for the start and off we went. Got chatting to a South African chap for the first while, he was using Donadea for training for a much longer event (pretty much the same as many at the event).

I made the foolish mistake of starting off quicker then I had planned for the first 6miles which was a very silly mistake but I slowed the pace and kept things going pretty decent until around the 16mile. This is when the wheels started to come off and I started to struggle abit.

But things really started to go down hill after mile 19 as my pace had slowed a good bit and I was now doing 10-11min miles which I kept doing until the 27mile mark. For me I believe the big factor in taking alot out of me was the mud, I'm not used to it at all and I didn't expect it.

I'm far more used to road running but in the mud on the forest trail meant I was using more energy and not getting as much back compared to running on a road, it just seemed to take alot out of me.

Eventually with the end in sight I upped the pace to what I could manage for the last few miles and finished in a new personal best of 4:49:33.  Although it is a new personal best for a 50km it was still  disappointing as I had hoped for a much better time.

This does of course have me somewhat worried about Connemara as I though I'd perform better for Donadea. On the other hand Connemara is 100% on roads so I won't in anyway have to contend with mud! :)

I will say, Donadea handed out a nice tech-top and medal for the event.

Garmin Log - Donadea 50km
4:49:35, 9:18min pace