Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Galtee Mountain Trail Running

After a week of feeling aches and pains after the Dublin Marathon I slowly returned to running again, the aches and pains clearly were the result of the total lack of training before the effort I put in for the Dublin marathon.

Since Dublin I've thrown in some long runs of 16-17miles and about three weeks ago I did my first trail run in months!      Rather then my usual playground of Slievenamon and headed off with South Leinster Trailer Runners members Jaime and Paul to the Galtees for what was a short run of 10miles but it took in some very steep climbs.

I've never been to the Galtee's before so it was great to see a new area, though getting up both Galteebeg and Galteemore was certainly a challenge as the two summits had steeper sides then what Slievenamon would have to offer.

The view from Galteemore
Conditions were great, although there was lots of snow it wasn't actually that cold which was also great as I was mad or stupid enough to do the run in shorts! I guess I don't like ruining my streak of  NOT wearing running tights for the past few years, to be honest I've always found tights far too warn as I generally getting pretty warm when running.

Only once or twice did I feel the cold and those times were when I stopped for a prolonged period, I was however lucky that the conditions didn't drastically change as I managed to loose my jacket as it fell through the netting on my Ultimate Direction pack which is an awful shame as that jacket got me through the Thames Path 100, Vartry 50 and Connemara 100 in the rain :(

Really felt it in the legs for a good 4-5 days after the trail run but it was seriously good fun and the views were great. Here's a Garmin log of the trial run.

As part of the run I brought alone my GoPro Session and put together a quick video which can be viewed here in 720p of by checking it out below.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Dublin Marathon 2016 Race Report

Another year and another Dublin Marathon race report, as your all aware I've been doing next to no running since Connemara 100 due to injury and although I did manage 1-2 20mile runs I managed next to no other runs and this wasn't a very good base to run a marathon. But none the less I had signed up and paid anyway so I decided I'd give it a go anyway and take it easy.

At least that's what I initially told myself....who was I kidding right??

What started as me thinking to myself that I'd do it and take it easy eventually evolved into me planning to head out with the sub 3.30 pacers and see if I could beat the 3:33:33 PB I set 3 years ago, even beating it by 1second would be an improvement after all.

My last two previous attempts to beat this PB have been a washout, back in 2014 I fell on Slievenamon about 3 weeks before the marathon and I bruised my ribs.     The day after the fall it hurt enormously to just breath so I went to the doctors and ended up getting an x-ray to rule out a fracture.

Thankfully I didn't have a fracture but by the time Dublin rolled around I still wasn't 100% and 10miles into the race I was in a fair bit of pain so I could no longer maintain the faster pace so I resolved myself to use the marathon as a training run.  My goal of a new PB died with this decision.

Last year I actively trained for Dublin from the end of the July after I had recovered from the 100mile in May, things started well by me setting my first sub 1:30 half marathon in September which gave me a good boost and made me think I could pull off a sub 3:20 time at Dublin but once again things were not meant to be.

By the time the marathon rolled around I wasn't feeling the best that weekend but I still went ahead with my plan and ran anyway.  I got as far as mile 21 and the wheels feel off, I could only describe that the rest of the race was a utter slog to the finish.  In hindsight I hadn't respected the amount of time I needed to recover from the 100mile in May and I should never started my training for Dublin.

So this time around I decided I'd go for a more conservative sub 3:30 by heading out with the sub 3:30 group and see how things went, I figured there was a good chance I'd pull it off and if things didn't feel right I'd drop the pace right down and convert the race into a training run.

Before the start I could tell my mind wasn't really in it as I first left my gels in bag which I dropped at the baggage area and after I went back and got them I then left my gels in the toilet...thankfully I managed to get them back though.

Eventually I was ready to start and I headed off to the sub 3:30 pacing area where I got chatting to the pacers.    The start I found was very different to previous years as I found that the field was much more spread out crossing the starting line, this was no bad thing as in previous years it made the first few miles a pain to navigate around slower runners and road obstacles.

From about the 3mile mark I had spotted the very familiar looking colours of the Saturday Road Runners from Waterford who happen to have the same club strip as Callan AC, they were just ahead of the 3:30 and they were staying together as a group so for the next 15miles or so I kept in with them on and off.

About 6miles in I met fellow Kilkenny man Ger who's also part of the same trail running group I'm part of in South Leinster, he looked a lot more comfortable with the pace he was doing then I felt I must say. We chatted for a bit about this and that.

For the most part I preferred to stay away from the main sub 3:30 pacing group for two reason, the first being that the very large group of people around them really annoyed me and the second is I used the pacing group behind me to spur me on so I wouldn't as easily be passed by the group.  Eventually I created so much of a gap between me and the pacers that anytime I looked back I couldn't see the balloons.

At the half way mark it was a 1:44 half marathon and I was still feeling pretty comfortable, by the time I got to heartbreak hill however I was beginning to suffer and I eventually lost the Saturday Road Runner group, but I was no where near as bad as I suffered last year where shortly afterwards I was forced to basically walk to the finish.

By about the 23mile mark to maintain the pace was starting to be a problem but I looked around and I could see the 3:30 pacing group around 100metres back so this spurred me on to keep on moving, I knew I could afford to loose a few seconds and still be 3:29:xx but I ideally didn't want the pacers to pass me anyway.

On the last mile coming upto the finish Ger met me again and despite his encouragement I couldn't keep up with him, approaching the finish I did the silly error of also upped the pace at around the 800metre mark from the finish line which was much too early and so I finished across the line much slower then I would have liked.

All in all however I finished with a new personal best of 3:29:06, this beats my previous marathon PB set back in 2013 of 3:33:33 which I've failed to beat the past two years when specifically aiming for a sub 3:20 marathon. It felt great to finally get a new PB for the marathon! :)

My Garmin profile for the race can be found here.

Given the sheer lack of training I'm very happy with the end result as I only really managed a hand full of short runs and 2x 20mile runs since August.   However, I will say that the lack of training is seriously noticeable after the race as my legs are aching a lot more then they usually would. They felt better after the Vartry 50mile back in March by comparison!

Dublin had over 19,500 runners taking part this years which makes it I believe the 4th largest marathon in Europe and this increase in runners I felt was also reflected in the support from people on the race route. The good weather conditions also likely helped but there seemed to be much bigger crowds this year compared to previous years I've run.  All in all it was certainly a good day and I've no doubt I'll be back again.

So thats it, next race after this should be Stook 10mile Roadrace in Co Kilkenny in the middle of November.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Chancing a new PB...?

So I've been taking it pretty easy this past week, some easy 3-4 mile runs but nothing much else especially as I just started a new job this week as well.

Tomorrow I'm up bright and early to go to the RDS ahead of the Dublin Marathon on Sunday, I'm thinking that I might put myself in with the sub 3:30 pacers and try beat my PB of 3:33:33 set back in 2013. It's not too ambitious and I'm pretty confident I'll pull off the new PB.

Here goes nothing.....

Friday, October 21, 2016

Things are on the up!

First off, its been ages since I've posted an update!
Nice clear day for a 16mile run

But at least this time its good news as after several dry needling sessions with my local sports physio (Bodymend) and some shorter runs and also cycling now and then I feel I'm finally coming back to form!

So much so that I even did a 20mile run last Friday morning and I managed a 16mile run yesterday morning, the 20mile last week was my longest distance I've done since doing the Connemara 100 at the start of August.

For anyone that has previously read my previous posts you might be aware that I did sign up to Dublin Marathon this year, however unlike last year where I aimed to knock 13min off my PB by aiming for sub 3:20 this year I'm not trying to do anything like that. Especially considering the injury issues I experienced after last year!

I've learned a very hard lesson after last years100mile, althoughI did do a cracking PB on a half-marathon in September  I ended up off the road after the Dublin Marathon because I didn't respect just how much recovery time I might need after the 100mile.

So this year with the 100mile being 2 months closer to Dublin then last year I really need to not fall into the same trap or I risk being off during through November, December and into January like last year due to injury.

So I'm taking it easy next weekend :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Dry needling fun

Still not a whole lot of running these days as I'm still experiencing a fair bit of muscle problems, however after two sessions of dry needling by my local sports physio and my legs are starting to feel like normal again.

Still, I'm not going to get carried away, I'm starting off slow with only 1mile yesterday and 3miles today until things start to feel right again. After both runs I do a lot of stretching and rolling with a tennis ball which helped enormously.

In hindsight I should have had some sessions with the sports physio after Connemara 100, I also should have known that suddenly stopping for almost two weeks after such a big event was not a very good idea as historically my leg muscle don't like this as they tend to seize up somewhat and it would have been better for me to keep doing a small amount of running.  

It is however a catch 22 situation as I need to allow blisters to heal and running after the 100mile wouldn't have helped them heal.

Luckily i know that the dry needling does work for me even though its not the most pleasant sensation getting it done, I hope to be back to daily running in the next week or so.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Still recovering

Kells Priory, Co Kilkenny
Two weeks I decided I'd do a long run of around 13miles, so I headed off to run to Kells, Co Kilkenny and back making sure to run through the grounds of Kells Priory as I went.

Afterwards however I was finding my calf muscle got very right and uncomfortable so it really was a case of too much, too soon. You'd think I'd learn eh?

So rather then leave things I decided to head to my local physio and get some work done on the legs, something I had originally intended to do the week after the race anyway.

Things however are still not right and I've been doing very little running lately because of it, to help maintain fitness however I have gone out on the road bike a few times doing an hour here and there. I don't find it as enjoyable as running but it gets me out and about atleast!.

On a non-running related topic I've been toying with the idea of getting myself a Kayak, the idea is I'd use it for rivers (non-white water really) and when we go camping to different sites around the country I could throw it on the roof of the car and bring it with.   Just have to find the right kayak for the job :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Its been just over a week since the Connemara 100 and despite the problems I experienced during the race I'm feeling pretty good, initially my feet were a little tender but I've had no cramps or anything like that.    

Overall I feel good, but I'm not going to let that fool me as I know after such a race I need to allow time for recovery, with that in mind although I registered for the Dublin Marathon in October at the very last minute before it closed (the first time) I'm not aiming for a sub 3:20 like I tried last year as I'm not willing to risk a repeat of the problems I experienced after last years Dublin Marathon.

Dublin is however the yearly race I just love to do and my aim is to just run it in a comfortable time.

Over the past week or so I've not been doing much running, although I did do a fast'ish 44min 10km lastnight with the local club. I'm planning on increasing the running now and doing some nice easy 10-14mile runs over the next week.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Connemara 100 Mile 2016 Race Report

I've had a few days to reflect since I finished the Connemara 100 Road Race at the weekend and I decided it was time to put my race report together. Before, during and after the race I've had some mixed feelings about the race however overall I'm taking away a positive viewpoint on the race rather then the negative.

As I'm living in Kilkenny it about a 4hr drive to Clifden so the crew and I headed off around Midday on Friday to ensure we had time to check-in to our hotel before heading to the race briefing in the Station House Hotel at 7pm.   We knew we didn't have time to drive the course before the race, which is a shame and I would recommend doing so to others.

On the way up I must say that I was a little worried about the Galway/Clifden road as it seemed very very busy and I knew I'd be running the road the next day, while I had previously run this section of Connemara twice before I'd only ever ran it at 7am as part of the Connemara Ultra a few years back I'd never experienced some much traffic on it.  

The race briefing took about 40min as Ray went through various aspects of the course and handed out race packs, hoodies and the crew were able to get signage for cars to warn of a race in progress. After that it was a quick meal and off to bed to get as much sleep as possible before the race as I wasn't planning on taking sleep breaks.

Start - Lough Inagh Lodge Hotel (Check Point 1: Mile 28):
Despite the fact that I've ran countless races at this stage ranging from 5km to 100mile distances each and every-time I feel pretty nervous before I start, and this race was no different. I woke up at 4am to prep before the race and eat my normal bowl of porridge porridge.

Soon it was 5:15am and myself and the first half of my crew needed to head to the pre-start briefing.    After some issues organising a crew for the event as the race drew closer my final crew was made up of my wife Grace, my sisters Sinead and Anne and my dad Neil.  

Myself, Grace and Sinead arrived at the Station House Hotel, Ray had a few words for both runners and crew before we headed to the start line.  As always the obligatory starting line photo was taken, this year it featured 19 brave or foolish people at the starting line.

The starting line

Sinead & Grace
Passing through Tullycross
This year the race start was going to be different, instead of starting at 6am the race was due to start at 6.01am as a minute's silence was being held in memory of Michael Corcoran who was former a participant of the Connemara 100mile.  At the end of the minute silence Ray simply counted 3, 2, 1 and we were off to start the race by doing one loop of Clifden Town before heading to Letterfrack and beyond.

The aim at the start of the race was for me to head out and spend the first 45min or so without my crew, however due to a slight miscommunication there was no sign of my crew at the 1hour mark.  

I was starting to get somewhat worried as I appeared to be sweating a fair bit even though it was so early in the morning and eventually when it hit 1hr 15min into the race I happened to be passing Don Hannon who was crewing for another runner and asked could I call my crew.   Fortunately my crew wasn't too far behind and around 5minutes later they showed up.

Once my crew showed up it was simply a case of meeting them every few miles so I could top up fluids and take in any other fuel as the race went on. As we arrived into Letterfrack we could hear thunder and it started to rain and this continued on and off until just after Tullycross.  

I must say that the views on this section of the course were stunning as I'd never been to this part of Connemara before.

After Tullycross it was the countdown in miles until Lough Inagh Lodge at mile 28, after mile 20 the roads started to look more familiar as this section of the course makes up the Connemara Ultra 39.3 race that I raced a few years back. I passed the famous Stop & Pray church for the first time and turned right towards
Lough Inagh Lodge. 

During this section it was great to pass the time
Myself & Anto at Tullycross
chatting to other runners, including Anto Lee who was using the race for training for Spartathlon in September, John Boyle who has run the Connemara 100 a number of times and also Jason (JJ) who was running a 100mile ultra for the first time.

I arrived into checkpoint 1 at mile 28 at 11am (5hours of running), at this stage of the race I felt good and opted to wait until near Maam Cross before changing socks.

Lough Inagh Lodge Hotel Check Point 1: Mile 28 - Leenaun (Checkpoint 2: Mile 55):
I must admit I was worried about this section, while the first 3-4miles were fine after that I turned left onto the Galway to Clifden road which was particularly busy as there was a Mart on.   As Ray mentioned during our briefing, a farmer with a trailer full of unsold sheep isn't going to care too much about a bunch of runners when they are on their way home.

While initially I choose to face incoming traffic after much deliberation I opted to switch to the left side of the road and to have the main traffic coming up behind me. This however was safe as Grace & Sinead and other crew cars were forcing traffic to slow down behind us.  

For most of this section I was still running with John & Jason and we'd run the relatively flat sections and walk any of the hills. Traffic wise there were only a few instances of idiot motorists trying to overtake my crew car and the three of us running....including one idiot who tried to overtake on a turn while towing a trailer with a boat on it! (he had to stop half way and pull back in behind the crew car).
Eventually I saw the familiar sight of the tower from the Peacock Hotel at Maam Cross and as we turned left onto the familiar course I've run so many times before (but this time backwards) I knew that the section from here to Leenaun would involve a lot of walking.    So first off I walked much of this section including the Hell Of The West, this was also the first time my crew walked with me as both Sinead and Grace walked with me on sections. 

Just after the hell of the west the rain and the wind started to pick up so for the first time I put on a jacket and shortly after turned left onto the road that would eventually bring me to Leenaun.     It was on this section that I started to experience blister issues for the first time and so opted to apply a blister plaster and change socks, this however only helped a little it was later as the miles counted down to Leenaun the blister burst!   At this point my crew had gone ahead to Leenaun to change over to my other sister Anne and my Dad but I did yell out in pain and a car stopped at that very moment and asked what was wrong, I explained I was fine and they asked if I wanted a lift which I declined.

On this section I hit mile 50 in 9hours, 36min and 21seconds. This was a sizable improvement on my previous personal best for 50mile which was 10hours, 10min, 35sec set in Vartry in 2015.
Shortly after the road started dropping down into Leenaun, as much as I'd have loved to run these downhill sections I knew they'd trash my legs so I opted to walk them all.   I arrived into checkpoint 2 at mile 55 at 5.07pm (11hours, 7min of running).

In Leenaun I opted for a full change of clothes, hot food in the form of pasta and I even washed my face and hands just so I could feel more human again.   I also opted to change my rain jacket as the rain was not stopping anytime soon!
Leenaun (Checkpoint 2: Mile 55) - Lough Inagh Lodge Hotel (Checkpoint 3: Mile 67):
Coming out of Leenaun I knew exactly what to expect....hills, lots of hills. There's a long and steep climb out of Leenaun before I could get back onto the relative flat of the road to Lough Inagh Lodge.     

What I didn't expect was the wind as well as the rain, as the road climbed the wind started to hit me and it was truly relentless to the point where I was experiencing problems just standing in the same spot beside the crew car when my sister and dad stopped the car.

I kept being blown around the road and when my Anne took out a chair I'd have to sit down straight away or it would be blown away.

As I past the Stop & Pray church for the second time the wind kept up the entire way to Lough Inagh Lodge with only the occasional change in direction but at least the rain tapered off at this stage.  Not much of a conciliation prize though.....

I arrived into checkpoint 3 at mile 67 at 8.13pm (14hours, 12min of running), I once again took on some pasta and other food and drink. I also changed socks and applied more blister plasters. At this stage I was getting awful tired of the wind!

Leenaun (Checkpoint 3: Mile 67) -
Roundstone (Checkpoint 4: Mile 82):  

Leaving Leenaun I decided to maintain the mix of run/walking as far as the Galway/Clifden Road where I needed to turn right towards Cliden and the Roundstone junction.   By the time I reached the
Dad & Me
junction though there was no sign of my crew and with them my headtorch and flashing arm band. I was worried.

It was rapidly getting dark and I'd be back on a busy road with only a reflective top on, I met up with JJ at this junction and stuck with him for the first mile until my crew showed up.   After this as this road had a fair amount of hills I opted for run/walking right up until I hit the Roundstone junction.

When I hit the Roundstone junction the sight of the 15km distance to Roundstone really took its effect on me mentally, I guess I thought I was closer but for the first time in the race I opted to listen to music and I maintained my run/walk routine for the next 7miles or so.

At this stage of the race the pace was slowing down but that was to be expected and was to plan because I couldn't sustain the sort of pace I had been doing up until now.

However, at mile 81 my pace dramatically slowed down and I was feeling seriously low on energy, while the previous miles averaged between 13-15min miles this mile averaged 18min and it was about to get a lot slower!.
I arrived into checkpoint 4 at mile 82 at around 12:04am (Approx 18hours, 4min of running), I was zapped of energy and starting to feeling cold. I took on two cups of hot soup, more hot pasta and other items. I also changed my top from a t-shirt and jacket to a long sleeve top, t-shirt and jacket instead, as well as gloves and a winter hat. This did help and eventually I started to feel warmer.

I spent a good 30min at Roundstone before I eventually left.

Roundstone (Checkpoint 3: Mile 67) - Finish: (Mile 100):
Leaving Roundstone I was feeling physically drained, I wanted to run faster but I just didn't have a lot of  energy and the miles slowly ticked by at this stage at around 20-22min miles.   I kept up this "faster" pace up until around the mile 87 mark and I could no longer maintain it and my pace dropped even further to avg 30min miles.

It was around this point that the crew changed over again from Anne and my Dad to Grace and Sinead again, Grace and Sinead also took turns doing A LOT of walking with me all the way through sunrise and beyond. All during this time the wind kept up as it howled and at one point we even got blasted with sand and salt.  All the time they spent with me was much appreciated and without them I think mentally I'd have been in trouble.

At one point I was finding it so hard to have the energy to push forward that I asked Grace to take a stick I kept for walking in the woods out of the car. Shortly after Ray drove up for the first time and asked how things were going, he wasn't in any doubt that I wouldn't finish and at this stage neither was I....it was just a case of when.

Eventually I found just holding the stick was taking too much energy and I opted to throw it back in the car and just walk slowly on.  Miles at this point were now averaging 28-33min, a soul crushingly slow speed.

As we approached Clifden  I was now drained
emotionally as well as physically, each time I rounded a turn I'd see another hill and eventually on the final hills on the climb to Clifden I stopped and just put my head in my arms on a wall. I was exhausted and the hills even at such a slow pace were taking every ounce of energy out of me, I was so very close to calling it a day at around the 96mile mark.

However, after a few minutes I continued on and after what seemed like endless turns and hills I could finally see Clifden, but I wasn't finished yet as I still had 3x loops of Clifden to do before I could finally cross the finish line and call it a day.

It took every ounce of my strength to do these loops, any section of the road or footpath that was up or downhill was hard going and anytime I'd step off a footpath onto the road was really uncomfortable. At this stage my entire crew was there for the finish and I was joined by Grace and my Dad for different section of the loops. I even did 2x of the loops were with my dad and his support meant an awful lot to me.

I finally crossed the finish line in 27hours, 14min & 36seconds, I was never so glad to just stop walking and I wanted nothing more then to lay down on the ground just to get off my feet for a few minutes.

Finally Finished!!
With the help of Ray & Seb I eventually got back up and headed back to the hotel for a hot bath and around 90min sleep before we needed to go to the prize giving ceremony.

Prize Giving Ceremony:
This year the price giving ceremony was in the theater in the Station House Hotel in Clifden, I must say it was a nice location for the event and it was nice to hear many of the participants different stories.     From Jasons (JJ's) story of dropping out of the race at 91miles due to a injury, sleeping for a few hours and eventually rejoining the race to finish it in 29:42:30, the 2nd place finish of
Rolando after which he headed home as he had work and of course Ed McGroarty 1st place finish in 15h 55min 34sec and his speech.

Sinead, Myself, Grace & Dad
Will be proudly added to my wall!

Final Thoughts:
s I went through the hardest part of this race I mentioned to my wife that I believe this is the last time I'd do a 100mile race, this race almost broke me and that even occurred at the 96mile mark just before Clifden.

When things fell apart during this race and I didn't have any more energy to run and barely enough to walk the mental toughness of the event really took its toll on me and eventually I was mentally fatigued as well.   Although I didn't get the sub 24hour time I wanted from this race I now know that I'm more than capable of better times on other distances such as 50mile and 100km and that I've been too cautious when doing these distances.

Keeping that in mind I think I'll call it quits on the 100mile distance, as to improve at it would likely require a bigger time commitment then I believe I can give it or am willing to give it. However, I am certainly going to aim for sub 9hours in a 50mile event in the future (Vartry 2017 perhaps?).

I also know from this race that even when the body starts to give up that mentally I can keep going for a long, long time. Sure some will say I was foolish I should have called it a day instead of spending 9hours walking but to me it proves I can dig deep when I need too and I'm just too stubborn to walk away from this race with a DNF.

It was an experience to do this event with my family including having my 83 year old dad walk two of the final loops to the finish line in Clifden with me, other then my wife I've never had family members attend any of my races before so it was a fantastic experience and I'm truly glad of the support Grace, Sinead, Anne and my Dad gave me throughout the entire race. It meant so much.

So that's it for the race report, I've bounced back recovering from this race far faster then I thought I would. I was able to run up the stairs at home on Monday morning and I even went for a 5km recovery run on Tuesday night. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The countdown is on!

So where have the updates been lately, well I've been on holidays in Canada the past few weeks but I'm still running Connemara 100 next week.

I'm currently in the process of (hopefully) sorting a support crew and will begin sorting stuff I need during for the race this week, after that I'll be taking the long drive from Kilkenny to Clifton next Friday and I'll be at the starting line next Saturday (6th August) morning at 6am.

There's 26 brave souls taking part in the 100mile race this year and I'm just crazy or stupid enough to be one of them.  

Like so many races I am of course having doubts, I felt the exact same before this years Vartry 50mile but yet I actually felt far better during Vartry in 2016 then I did doing the race in 2015 so go figure!.

For those following me on Facebook I'll be asking my crew to post updates during the race when they get the chance.

Its going to be an experience!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Small amount of recovery

After ending the week of the Tullaroan Ultra with 67miles I went into somewhat of a recovery mode and took it easy last week....although I did run 4miles the day after the Ultra to loosen up the legs somewhat.

I ended the week with a fast 10mile at almost race pace as I managed it in 72min and my PB is 70.

The realization of the Connemara Ultra is dawning on me now and this week I went and sorted out accommodation for the weekend of the race, I've also started to think about what sort of stuff I need for the race to have in the crew car.  

Now I just need to sort a crew!

Miles This week: 30.58 miles

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Tullaroan Ultra-marathon (39.3mile) 2016 Race Report

Welcome to another race report, this time for Tullaroan's third year of operating 5km/10km/half and marathon races, except this year they added another loop to make a 39.3mile course after Tullaroan AC had received numerous requests in the past for the addition of an ultra course (Thanks for listening guys).

As mentioned in my last blog post its been a few years since I've run a 39.3mile course so I decided the goal for this race was to race it and try and set a new personal best by beating my previous time set in 2014 in Connemara of 5hours, 52min, 19seconds.

With that in mind I did a pretty easy week of running before hand and off I went bright and early to Tullaroan and even at 6am it was looking like it was going to be a very hot day at the races.
The Ultra kicked off with 7am along with the very early start marathon runners, I settled in with an very easy pace of around 9:40min/miles for the first 7miles and ended up talking to Paul Brunnock about this and that, this was useful as I could to ask him about his experience previously running the Connemara 100.
By about the 7mile mark Paul stopped at one of the water stations but I continued on, it was around this time that I realised that I was running a far too slow pace and I was clearly taking it too handy as I needed to average under 8:52min/miles for the entire race to set a personal best. So I upped the pace. Including the initial slower and faster pace I increased to, I eventually finished the first 13.1miles in around 2hrs 5mins.

On the second loop I knew it was going to be a somewhat lonely loop as the proper marathon hadn't started yet and the very early marathon runners and ultra runners were well spaced out, I did however still manage to meet a few early marathon runners and it was good to chat to a few of the other runners and as always it was good to see some familiar faces from people I've met at other events.
I finished the second 13.1mile loop in 1hour 50min which was a nice speed increase on the first loop.

At the beginning of the third loop I stopped at the crossroads in Tullaroan to refill water and get a few things to eat and at the same time the half marathon kicked off so I wasn't going to be on my own for the last loop.
Initially I must admit I got somewhat carried away and upped the pace to pass many of the half-marathon runners by weaving in and out of the crowd, but I did eventually slow down after I realised this.  Among the crowd I did however meet a few familiar faces also including Paul who I ran with during the Vartry 50mile back in March of this year.

By the time I started hitting the 30mile mark I was beginning to pay for getting carried away and the legs started to rebel on some of the hills so I was forced to walk.  I was however again able to make full use of the downhills and I was using this to leap frog half-marathon runners who I'd catch up with and then I'd lose them again as I was reduced to walking again.

By the time I hit the 35mile mark and the water station at Valley Inn I decided stretching might do me some good, this however was not to be the case.  As soon as I lifted my left leg to stretch it my right leg had a painful cramp and I collapsed to the ground.  Once on the ground my left leg then also decided to have a painful cramp as well so I was experiencing a fair bit of pain in both legs.
I'm sure this was a worry to the people looking after the water station and when they asked what I needed I just said I needed a help up, so after a lot of pain standing up and walking for the first 100 metres or so the cramps went away and I was able to run again thankfully!

The last few miles were somewhat of a slog as that section has a number of climbs which you have to endure but I still ensured I ran as much as I could as I had spotted another ultra runner who I was determined was not going to pass me as up until now no other ultra-runner had passed me during the race.

Once the hills were over I took as much advantage of the relatively flat road as I could but by now I knew I wasn't going to set a PB as 1mile out I had already hit my time of 5hours 52min. This was somewhat frustrating but I was dead certain that the Tullaroan course was much hillier then Connemara (see my comparison below) and the conditions were seriously hot (for Ireland anyway!).

Coming up to the finish I upped my pace and finished in 6hours, 3min and 36seconds and ended up being the 4th male to finish the Ultra.  This is by far the closest I've come to a "podium finish" for a large race and I'm thrilled with it! :)

At the finish it was great to see a number of club members from our local club Callan AC who despite some very challenging conditions and a such a hilly course had set some excellent times. For some of the others it was their first time to complete a 10km race.

Tullaroan's new Marathon/Ultra medal

Overall I must say the Tullaroan Race events have gone from strength to strength each year I've ran it and I think I heard that this year they had over 600 runners which is certainly a massive increase from the first year. Organisation and facilities before, during and after the race were also very good with plenty of water stops.   It was also a nice touch to offer three different medals for the 5km, 10km/half-marathon and marathon/ultra events.

The timing of the races also worked out well as the roads weren't too crowded and it was really nice to get the support and company of the half-marathon runners on the third loop of the ultra, it also helped that Ultra runners had a sign identifying them (this is something I've seen previously for the Connemara Ultra (see example picture)

So now the race report is over, just exactly how does Tullaroan's 39.3mile course stack up against the Connemara Ultra 39.3mile course, without a question Tullaroan is far more challenging course with more hills and over 200 extra meters of gain over the entire course.
You can see the courses compared below (click for larger image):

Tullaroan course: 663m elevation gain
Connemara Ultra Course: 402m elevation gain

For those interested you can also see full Garmin profiles of both Tullaroan Ultra and Connemara Ultra course (Connemara Ultra was recorded in 2014 but remains unchanged since).
Would I recommend this for race somebody that wanted a challenging 39.3mile Ultra, most certainly :)

Miles This week: 67 miles
Miles this Year So Far: 788miles

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

High mileage month and a club outing

Far from a very high mileage week with only 38miles under the belt but still a productive month of mileage as I clocked just over 209miles for the entire month of May, this is higher then any month in the past 18 months with exception of January (215miles) & March (230miles) in 2015.

This coming weekend I'm signed up to do the Tullaroan Ultra (39.3mile), this will be a break from the usual Tullaroan Marathon I've done a few times and it will also be the first 39.3mile Ultra I've done since doing the Connemara Ultra in April 2014.  

As its been a few years since doing the distances I'm opting to race Tullaoran and see if I can beat the 5:52:19 time I set back in 2014. It'll be a good opportunity for me to test some different food and also it'll do me no harm if I manage to get a new personal best for this distance.

On a side note they'll be a good turnout from my local athletics Club Callan AC as a number of the club members have signed up to doing either the 5km or 10km so it'll be great to have a outing. :)

Miles this Year So Far: 742miles

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Waterford & Back...sort of & Night running

Seem to have gotten out of the habit lately of posting blog updates, but that of course doesn't mean I haven't been doing some running.  I'll start back with more regular updates from now on.

Callan Marathon Elevation Profile
After Vartry 50mile in March the training seemed to somewhat fall apart for a short but I'm now back doing proper long runs in preparation for Connemara 100 in August.

Last weekend for example I set off with an ambitious plan to run 58miles from Callan to Waterford City & Back, however things did not go as plan as I got little sleep the night before and in the morning I started off around 90min later then expected.

Course Route
Both of these things meant it set back my whole day and by the day I got to 40miles I had to call it a day as I would have been home far too late to get other things done that day.

On Friday after working the entire week and finishing at 7pm I opted to fit in my long run after work rather then doing it on Saturday or Sunday morning.

So I packed up my backpack and decided to run what I like to refer to as the Callan Marathon course.

This route is a nice hilly route that takes me through Windgap, Tullahought and back via Castlemorris Wood to Callan.

For the most part the roads on the route aren't busy but on Friday night it rained alot and by the time I got to Castlemorris wood the battery's in my head-torch weren't doing so well but as it wasn't busy and there was a moon out I could run with the torch off until a car would come so I'd turn it back on.

Overall it was a good hilly training run in wet conditions and it was good to get back into the practice of doing a night run while tired as I've not one of those in many months.

Now, time to get back to a more regular structured training schedule :)

Miles this Year So Far: 683miles

Monday, May 2, 2016

8 days and 2x 10km Races

Waterford City & Greenway
Its been awhile since I've updated the blog but I'm still running miles with some small rest periods due to some muscle issues in my left leg again (its getting somewhat annoying now).

The last 8 days or so have however been pretty productive with 2x local 10km races under my belt and also 2x 20mile runs.

I even managed to include the second 10km into the 20mile run. So to start my 8 days I took part in a Callan AC outing by attending the Church Hill 10k / 5k in Cuffesgrange, co Kilkenny, this race has been going for a few years now and its pretty well supported both by locals and people that travel to the race.

My plan for the race was somewhat ambitious esp given the lack of training for a 10km I've done, despite not having run a decent 10km since July 2015 I decided I'd head out with the sub40 pacer and hope for the best.  It however was not to be as I dropped off the pacer by the 2mile mark.  

I did however manage to keep a steady pace and nobody passed me after this and I even managed to catch a guy 100metres from the finish.

While perhaps not my fastest 10km with a time of 42min 10sec (PB is 40:58) it was still nice to run the course again after previously running it in 2012 just before I took part in the Portumna 50km and I still easily beat the 2012 time I set of 46min 15sec.

As for the rest of the week, I didn't do a whole lot of running outside of club training runs on Tuesday and Thursdays but I did manage 20mile LSR in Waterford as I had time to kill so I decided to check out the new Waterford Greenway. It has some lovely views of the river so far.

While still under construction I ran a section of it out and back from the city and then worked in some miles in the city to total 20miles.  Can't wait to run the entire route to Dungarvan and then Clonea once its completed.

Out/Back & Mullinahone 10km Route
My plan Sunday the 1st May was straight forward enough, I wanted to take part in the 10km race in Mullinahone as there were a number of Callan AC members taking part but I also wanted to get in a LSR.

My solution, run from my house to Mullinahone, run the race to support the club and then run home...so that's exactly what I did.

My plan went fine with the exception of foolishly choosing to wear a long sleeve top on what felt like the most humid day of 2016 so far, by the time I got to the start line of the 10km I was sweating buckets as I had two tops on as I expected it to be much much cooler out.

The race however went fine (I finished in 52:08) and it was good to support the club once again, all in all I had a good week and in the 8 days I managed a somewhat respectable 58miles.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Vartry 50mile 2016 Race Report

Last weekend was my second running of the Vartry 50mile Ultra and overall it was certainly a more positive experience then last years despite the lack of training going into the race.

Before I even traveled to Wicklow for this race I always had in my mind that I honestly didn't care about the time, the aim was merely to put time in the legs and I expected to finish in between 10-12hours due to this.

As always it was an early start from Kilkenny as I left just before 3am to arrive with plenty of time, driving through Glendalough didn't look particularly good as there was seriously heavy rain but as I got closer to Roundwood things started to clear up abit...but still the forecast for the day was pretty much rain so I had ensured to bring changes of clothes just in case I needed them.

By the time I had arrived the 100mile racers were already out for around 10hours, I chatted to Dom the race director and various other runners before the race.  As always some runners I'd never met before but there's always a few familiar faces that are always good to see at ultra events and its always enjoyable to share experiences.

Just before the start I met up with JP & Paul who also ran this race last year and who I planned to run the event with, the basic plan for the day was take it relatively easy, have a chat and just tick off the miles and use the whole race as a training run.   So off we went bang on time and he started to endure the rain.

Unfortunately despite the weather forecast showing breaks in the rain before 9am and before lunch time this didn't happen and the wind and rain kept up for pretty much all of the day, so this meant every so often I'd also have to remove my gloves and wring the water out.      Still, despite the rain and wind only my hands and face occasionally felt the cold and I wasn't worried about getting too cold.

The 50mile route consists of 5x 10mile looks with some small out and back sections in order to give an even 10mile on each lap, I've done ultra's before of 5km loops and I honestly find them unbearable but doing 10mile loops is actually fine. Its a nice distance to have for a loop whilst still allowing you to pickup food, clothes etc at the start/finish area.

As time passing went the race flew, although to many such a long time on the feet might seem endless and crazy I honestly found it went seriously fast which was no doubt down to the fact that myself, JP & Paul chatted and joked for basically the entire race.       It was also great to meet up with others taking part in the race to cheer them on and just said hello, shouts out to Ray who also won the 50km race.   I even met up with a fellow ultra runner blogger who's blog I read.

As the loops ticked by I decided that unlike last year I wasn't going to bother with changing socks at the 30mile mark as my feet felt fine, so instead I just changed my t-shirt and long sleeve top and off I went again.

By the 40mile mark I decided I felt pretty good, in fact I felt far better then I felt at this stage back in 2015 so with around 1hr 50min to go I decided to see if I could beat last years time of 10hrs 10min and run the last 10miles....sorry JP & Paul for abandoning you :)

Whilst I did run a lot more of the last 10mile then I did the 30-40mile section I missed out on beating last years time and finished in 10hours 22min 43sec.  Still, I'm not at all disappointed considering I wasn't planning on setting any specific time, the reality is I'm actually surprised because I finished in much better shape then I did last year so that's a nice boost for my confidence.

Finally, for those interested in taking part in the race next year you might be interested in the garmin profile of the race (compare this to the original 2015 looped course which started and ended in Roundwood). I've also included elevation profile and loop profile below:

Race Elevation
Race Route
Last week consisted of:
- Sunday: 2mile walk
- Monday: Rest
- Tuesday: 11miles @ 9:30min/pace
- Wednesday: Rest
- Thursday: Rest
- Friday: Rest
- Saturday: 50miles @ 12:22min/pace

Miles This week: 69 miles
Miles this Year So Far: 430miles

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

My home town gets its own athletics club :)

My home town has finally established its own athletics club called Callan Athletics Club, the club has just started and its early days yet but it's currently taking on new members.

Registration details can be found on the Callan AC website or on their Facebook page, the first registration night will take place on Tuesday the 5th of May at 8pm in the Droichead Family Resource Centre in West Street, Callan.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Taper time!

Started last week with another nice long run this time a marathon distance as I ran exactly 26.2miles on Monday morning....nice way to start the week.   Thats my last long slow run before the Vartry 50mile in two weeks.

So now since Monday I'm officially tapering and after the 26.2miles I only did a few more miles to finish the week with a low amount of miles.

I'm never a fan of the taper time before a race as I always feel like I could be training more and this viewpoint isn't helped from the fact that I have had past experiences of still managing to perform pretty decently without tapering. For example during July 2015 I ran a 36mile Ultramarathon and then 7 days later I still managed to set a personal best at a local 10km race.

Still I'm reluctant to over do it and I want to be sure I don't burn out during the 50mile or get injured so I want to take it easy before hand.

Looking forward to Easter weekend,

Miles This week: 36.59 miles
Miles this Year So Far: 366miles

Saturday, March 12, 2016

First 30mile run of the year

Its been a good week of training, started it with an easy walk on Sunday with my wife Tramore, Co Waterford and then upped the miles to my first 30mile run on Monday morning...certainly a different way to start the day!

I felt absolutely fine during the 30mile run but didn't want to overdo it too much so I did walk on some hills now and then but finished it in good shape and felt fine.

30mile Run Route in Co Kilkenny
 Over the next few days I did have some niggles in my left leg muscle, this teaches me a very valuable lesson for not stretching properly after such a long run!.     But after I did some stretching throughout the day over the next few days as well as a walk on Thursday that cleared up and I felt fine again by Friday, thankfully.

I really have to make sure I'm stretching enough or this muscle pain is coming to come back to bite me again.  I finished the week with a nice fast 8mile run this evening to finish the week with just over 60miles.   All in all a good week training.

I have the Vartry 50mile run in two weeks time so I'm going to start winding down the miles next week after one last long run and then take it easy ahead of the race. I don't think I'm in as good a shape as I was last year going into the 50mile race but it certainly reassured me to get that 30mile run under my belt before hand.

This week consisted of:
- Sunday: 3.02miles @ 20:16min/mile pace (walk)
- Monday: 30miles @ 9:53min/mile pace
- Tuesday: 4miles @ 8:28min/mile pace
- Wednesday: 10miles @ 8:58mine/mile pace & 1mile recovery walk
- Thursday: 4.15mile @ 23:24min/mile pace (walk)
- Friday: Rest
- Saturday: 8miles @ 7:09min/mile pace

Miles This week: 60.22 miles
Miles this Year So Far: 330miles

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Connemara 100 is Happening!!!

Connemara 100 Route Map
Its finally happened, I've committed to running the Connemara 100 in August of this year.  This is a race I've been hoping to do since I did my first 50km Ultra back in 2012 and I honestly can't wait!

Still have logistical issues of sorting a crew to work  out but other then that I'm very confident that my training will go to plan.

I've not yet sat down to work out a more concrete training plan but I already have a 50mile race at the end of this month and I'm planning a Kilkenny to Waterford and back run sometime in May or June which will total approx 60miles.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Welcoming back the bigger miles!

Tuesday's 20mile route
The last 7 days have been a high mileage week and it felt good to be back into the 50's, while I didn't run everyday I double my mileage when compared to numerous recent weeks.

I did my second 20mile since October 2015 during the week and it certainly went much better then the first I did, I also just pushed it to just short of 21miles. My next long run will be 26miles in around 7 days time.

On Thursday I foolishly tried for a 5mile run after a big'ish meal, this wasn't the best plan and I just ended up walking some of it, but I finished with a much stronger 10mile run on Friday evening with a nice 1mile recovery afterwards.

Not to overdo it, next week will be much easier but with some speed work and then its back to another higher mileage week again which will include the 26mile run.

Last week consisted of:
- Sunday: 5.21miles @ 7:58min/mile pace & 310miles @ 25:14min/mile pace
- Monday: 10miles @ 8:02min/mile pace
- Tuesday: 20.78miles@ 9:53min/mile pace
- Wednesday: Rest
- Thursday: 5miles @ 10:20min/mile pace
- Friday: 10miles @ 7:28min/mile pace & 1mile @ 8:37min/mile pace
- Saturday: Rest

Miles This week: 55.11 miles
Miles this Year So Far: 250miles

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Getting back into the groove!

Starting to feel like I have my mojo back when it comes to running, I'm back to running 10miles at sub 7:30min/mile pace again and it feels great!  Still have some weight to shift which I gained over Oct-Jan but that will come as the miles increase over time.

I started last week with a really enjoyable loop of Slievenamon where I ran with a group from the South Leinster Trail Runners, certainly more enjoyable to run this type of trail with a group and it makes the time go a bit faster.  I also didn't suffer anywhere near as bad compared to when I ran the same loop two weeks previously.

After that I took it "relatively" easy during the week between rest days and a 10mile and 4.5mile run to finish with a faster 10mile run on Friday.   Next week however is going to see a big increase will mileage.

Last week consisted of:
- Sunday: 12.46miles @ 14:11min/mile pace
- Monday: Rest
- Tuesday: 10miles @ 7:36min/mile pace & 1mile @ 9:41min/mile pace recovery
- Wednesday: 4.57miles @ 8:16min/mile pace
- Thursday: Rest
- Friday: 10miles @ 7:25min/mile pace
- Saturday: Rest

Miles This week: 38.08 miles

Monday, February 15, 2016

Slievenamon Circuit Video

So recently I picked up a GoPro Session and I finally got to have a decent outing with it over the weekend when I joined a group run with the South Leinster Trail Runners to do a loop of my local favorite mountain Slievenamon.

Its my first attempt at editing video footage together and I've already learned a few things in relation to managing the camera better for future use.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Plans for 2016

Finally back with some updates,

Although I was injured in November and December I know things have bounced back and as long as I look after my left leg I'll be fine, I hope!

Originally for 2016 I had two big races planned, the Vartry 100 mile in March which I hoped to do in sub24hours and then the Connemara 100 in August which I've wanted to do since I did my first 50km event in 2012.

Due to my injury issues I've had to scale back my plans and now instead of doing the Vartry 100mile its going to be the Vartry 50mile as I don't feel I'd be anywhere ready for the 100mile due to recent loss of fitness etc.

Last year I took on the 50mile looped course and took it easy enough and finished it in 10hours 10min (I was aiming for 10hours). This year I'm again seeing it as a training run but so far I have no time in mind.

Taking on the Connemara 100 in August will be my second 100mile event and the Connemara 100 thankfully this time is 100 road and hilly which will give me plenty of time to rest on the uphills.    As strange as it may sound the flat course last year at Thames Path I found difficult, the 75% trail route I had to endure during it also really knocked the stuffing out of me because I do 99% of my running on road so I'm confident I can perform much better on a 100% road course.

So now my aim is to work towards a sub 24time in Connemara, I just need to find a support team for the event...anybody want to volunteer? :)

Friday, January 8, 2016

2015 Year in Review

Last year was a fast year and a year of both great experiences and some very frustrating experiences but I don't think I'd hugely change anything with the exception of actually dropping out of the Dublin marathon so I wouldn't have experienced the injury problems I had in November/December.

I started off the year training for the Thames Path 100 which was in May and for the first few weeks I felt like I had one of the best training periods as I had been done some nice long runs until February where I experienced my first bout of sickness the day after a 36mile run.

But I recovered and soldiered on for my training race in April.

At the start of April I didn't take part in the Connemara Ultra which I usually really enjoy and instead I opted for my first 50mile event in Co Wicklow called the Vartry 50.

It was a 5x 10mile looped course which was also hosting a 50km and 100mile event and my plan was to take it nice and easy and finish it in 10hours even....I finished it in 10hours 10min so I was very happy with this outcome.

Although I had been sick in February and this really worried me doing Vartry 50 was a really great boost to my spirits as it made me really hopefully that I could pull off the Thames Path 100 one way or another.

Taking part in the Thames Path 100 in May was an experience, I don't think I could put it into better words then I did in my race report. It was both some of the best experiences of my life and also some of the lowest experiences of my life all in the space of 27 and a half hours.   Its surreal to think that at 2am in the pouring rain I was running through a wooded area somewhere past Reading beside the river Thames, not something I expected to be doing 12 months before.

At the end of May I got back on the road and did my first decent long run by taking part in the locally run Tullaroan Marathon, I enjoyed the time running the course and chatting away to JP. It felt great to be back on the roads and it was a lovely day for it too!

In July I ventured back into ultra-running and took park in the Keith Whyte Waterfront Ultra Marathon III (36miles), I started this race off way too fast and would have been on for my second fastest marathon distance only for the wheels came off at around mile 25 and this resulted in ran/walking to the finish!

After that it was holiday time but by the middle of August and after fitting in some holiday running around parts of Co Wexford and Co Waterford I started training for the Dublin marathon. 

This time I was hoping for a sub 3:20 personal best and as part of the training I opted to take part in the JJ Reddy Half Marathon. 2015 was the first year that the half-marathon distance was being hosted by the organizers.

I knew from the start that it was going to be a hard course as I've run the 10km course twice and the course didn't fail to deliver!

Still I gave it all I could and managed a time of 1:29:33, my first ever sub 1:30 half marathon race time and I was thrilled!

After September my training for Dublin didn't go to plan and although I should have either dropped out of Dublin or aimed for a slower time I stuck with the 3:20 plan and everything fell apart at mile 21.   

In hindsight I know now that when things fell apart at mile 21 I should have dropped out of the race but instead I kept going and this cause my about 6 weeks+ of muscle pain and problems during November and into December during which time I had a few sessions of dry needling which wasn't pleasant but worked great to sort things out.

At times when I was experiencing muscle problems I couldn't run 2miles without being crippled the next day walking down the stairs....a very frustrating experience but an experience I've since taken some lessons from.

As it stands now my legs are returning to normal and I can do 10miles+ with no discomfort in the leg muscles, but I have lost a level of fitness which is frustrating but that's the way things go.

Total Miles for the 2015: 1,670miles
How does this compare to previous years, this is how:
2014: 2,005miles
2013: 1,651miles
2012: 1,513miles
2011: 956miles