Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Eureka moment with shoes

A few weeks ago I learned to tie my shoelaces. Well not exactly but I did learn to tie the laces on my runners properly so my foot is secure in the shoe and I don't get random blisters on the top of my toes (or not as many anyway)

For some reason I just hadn't really thought about how I tighten my laces and whether that would have an impact on how my shoes feel on my feet. I had noticed recently though that regardless of how comfortable shoes were on me I still seemed to get blisters. Not bad ones but blisters all the same.

As I was waiting for the fog to clear a couple of weekends ago...all dressed up with nowhere to go...I started to experiment with the tension in my laces. I like my toes to feel quite free so when I drew the laces tight on the front part of my shoe and continued that tension all the way up, I disliked how that felt on my toes, especially on the lateral aspect of my foot (little toe side in plain speak)
However when I released the tension there and tightened the upper parts of the laces in isolation that kind of held my foot away from the front of the shoe and allowed more room for the toes to expand. My heel felt more secure in the back of the shoe also and less likely to move.

So you see after three years of running I finally seem to have figured out how to put my shoes on properly. What can I say? I'm a slow learner!

Oh god...I bet everyone else in the whole world already does this and I've just outed myself. Nooooooo!!!

The left is tied correctly for me whereas the one on the right is wrong...ie the way I have been tying them forever! Dingbat

Dublin Marathon Training - Last high mileage week!!

I can't believe I'm on the last week of my training before the taper starts. I'm rationing episodes of catch-up tv so I have something to do for the next three weeks when the amount of time on my feet drops. Eating large amounts of food won't be an option either or I'll be hauling lots of extra ass around the streets of Dublin. No thanks!
Luckily the next few weeks should be busy from a work and family point of view so that should keep me distracted to a degree.

Training itself is going fine. I'm hitting all my paces and exceeding most. The only problem is marathon pace. I'm not sure if my pace is so variable because I'm just not physically tuned into that effort level yet or if I need to tie myself down to a more specific goal pace......instead of "vaguely somewhere between 8:25-8-40 (but definitely not your actual supposed pace of 8:47!) depending on how you feel....and sure throw in the odd 8:00 for the craic just to mess with the average." I need to pick a pace and then get used to sticking to it during this next few weeks and stop myself running it like a tempo.

I don't have that many harder sessions left now. One bigger interval session tomorrow, two medium distance marathon pace sessions later in the week and the final 20 miler on Sunday. If I remember from last year though, mentally this is where the hard work starts and the temptation to second guess yourself takes over!

I've decided I'll most likely start with the second wave on race day.
For some reason when I put in that I would like to finish under 3:50 I got put in wave 1. Which is fine....except the 3:50 pacers start with wave 2 according to the website. So not fine!

Going out at a nice manageable pace is really important to my state of mind so I need to start with those 3:50 guys. Anyway I'm sure it'll be grand (famous last Irish person words)
Seriously though it will....going down a wave is not usually a problem. It's only if you want to move up one they think you are a chancer. And they would usually be correct so more power to them.

I feel like I need two things right now (i) a good painful sports massage (ii) a good talking to by someone who has run a lot of marathons to put me in my place (or pace)

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Big mileage weekend. Warning - This post is unnecessarily long!

The way I was feeling Friday night I was very tempted to do absolutely nothing this weekend. And I would have justified it to myself too as resting to get rid of this damn cold.
It didn't help when I awoke Saturday morning to a dull, rainy morning. Why would I want to go out in that?

Luckily by an hour before we we due to catch our train the sky was beginning to brighten a bit so the younger and I got ourselves ready and hit the road...or to be accurate, walked across the road to the train station. Very convenient!
Less than half an hour later we were at Heuston station and ten minutes after that we were at the gates of the park armed with hot beverages. At that point the sun came out and we started down Chesterfield avenue to find a good spot to see the runners come past.
We settled ourselves around the 9 mile mark just on time to see Gary O'Hanlon fly past looking very comfortable. Once the drinks were drank we got down to the serious business of clapping and shouting encouraging words. Much like running, it's easier just to keep on clapping as your hands tend to get into a rhythm, whereas stopping reminds you that your hands are sore. So clap on we did!

We remained here until about twenty minutes after the 2hr pacer had come through and then had to hurry on to drop the younger off with her Dad.

I was feeling quite anxious about my plan of running on the marathon course.
Would I wander around like a tit? Would I get mugged? Was I even able to run the proposed ten miles at marathon pace in the condition I was in and after standing around all morning...oh and not eating also. One must never do things by halves!

Anyway I got the Luas out towards Drimnagh and made my way easily enough to the middle of the Crumlin Road. I felt like a bit of an eejit with my map and I appeared to be the only runner around but I got on with it and eventually got a bit more confident in my map reading abilities. In fairness, it's not a difficult course to find your way around so three or four stops to check I was on the right track and one water stop at a garage were all the breaks necessary.

The course felt as tough as I expected it to given my lack of preparation and physical state but PMP wasn't a struggle. My stomach felt fine and I enjoyed the hills if anything as a break from the monotony of the flatter straighter bits. The condition of the pavement wasn't great in areas but we will be mostly on the roads on the day so that shouldn't make a difference. Oh and I much prefer where the hard parts come now (miles 22-24) as opposed to previously. Psychologically I'm much more able to handle a hill if I know I can expend most of my energy on it. If you are hitting Fosters Avenue at around 20 miles when you know you have 6 miles to go it's very hard on your head.

Anyway the proof will be in the pudding as they say. We shall see on the day.

I had only planned to do about 10 miles but couldn't help myself in the end doing all the way to 25 where I was meeting a friend. My average pace was around 8:30 for the duration which I was happy with and I finished at about 4:30.

Obviously this put me on target to have very tired legs for my long run this morning! The fog kept me in until about 10:30 so at least I did get a few extra hours of rest. I can't say my 20 miles were the most pleasant but I didn't walk any of them, my stomach was fine and my average pace was in the low 9's.
I was tired finishing but I did have enough in the tank to do an 8 minute final mile and I feel I could have continued if I had to. Happy with that and I feel that I really managed to get my legs properly battered over this key weekend of training. I was a bit worried with not feeling 100% that I would have had to postpone this big week until later in the cycle and I don't think it would have benefited me as much then with less time to recover.

One more loaded-up long run the weekend after next and then I'm done! Cooked and ready to rest at room temperature.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Timing is everything

I appear to have some kind of cold with a (prepare for TMI) productive cough. Can't remember the last time I had a chest cold so perhaps I was due one.

I think if it was a couple of weeks earlier or later I'd be in a state but I don't feel like this week after racing the half is the time for making major fitness gains. I took today and yesterday off to give my system a chance to fight whatever this is. I'm not really feeling any better or worse for it so I'm going to go ahead and get my miles in this weekend but at easy pace as long as I feel ok. Sometimes you just need to sweat it out!

Tomorrow should be fun. I'm planning to run ten miles of the marathon course (miles 14 to 24 approx) If this blog isn't updated again it's because I'm still wandering Dublin with a map!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Birthday blues

Wednesday is my birthday. I don't ever make a big deal about it but I don't have an issue about my age either and like to mark the occasion. This year is my first year being single for a while and whilst I'm very content with that, my impending special day does make me feel a bit lonely. I think it's probably the combination of that and having my mother out of the country for the week plus both of my siblings living in the states that has me uncharacteristically meloncholy today. 

Anyway it's not all doom and gloom. There are a group of us September birthday girls getting together in Galway at the end of the month for a night of mutual celebration. And most importantly I have my (taller than me) babies to give me endless hugs and hopefully provide me with some form of iced confectionary. Time to put on my big girl pants and get over myself!

Seven miles easy today. The legs felt fine if a bit empty at the end. I'm going to take an extra easy day tomorrow and then do a harder session Wednesday to get back in the swing of things.
It's funny but I haven't even looked at the training plan for the week. I suppose I know what I have to do at this stage....some speedier sessions if I continue to tolerate it well, lots of easy and marathon pace miles, long run at the weekend. Repeat!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Athlone Flatline Half Marathon

So it was warm! 
I don't think I've spent a week more focused on praying for rain in my life.  For an Irish person this is practically treason. I think it may actually be in the citizenship exam.

I decided to bring my kiddos to say with my parents for the weekend so left kildare late Friday so I could pick up race numbers etc in athlone on the way down. Unfortunately this meant 9pm dinner the night before a race..... Not ideal!

Anyway despite eating late I had a good sleep and felt refreshed and ready to race Saturday morning.
I met up with some friends as soon as i arrived who were doing their first half and also the rest of the AC doing the race. Plenty of portaloos meant five minutes max queues so that was appreciated, as was a well timed race briefing which sent all groups out to the start line with their chosen pacer. This seemed to work as I didn't have to spend the first mile weaving around walkers!

We set off on time with me virtually glued to the pink t-shirted 1:45 pacer. I might not be able to stay with him for the duration but I wasn't going to have to chase him in the first mile or two.... Been there, done that!

Miles 1-6 were fine and I felt as i could go faster but held back. This was lucky as the heat really starting getting to me by the halfway point. Every bottle of water I got went straight over my head in an effort to cool off. The bog roads we were on didn't help as any Irish runner will tell you that the warmest place on a hot day is a bog! Also the surface wasn't great and the congestion of the pace group was starting to get to me. All aboard the pain train!!

So from 7 on I was counting down the miles and using mental games to keep me going. I was joined around 10 by L from the club who I've done my long runs with... A super fast girl who is injured right now and was basically running on sheer will alone. Seeing her and hearing her urge me on at that point was amazing and gave me no excuse not to finish strong. We were also joined by her SIL who was running her first half!! What a legend!
Anyway me and the SIL pushed on to stay with the pacer and kept each other going in the last mile where we both had moments where we would have slowed down alone. We ran across the line at 1:44:58 on the clock and a chip time of 1:44:28. Absolutely delighted with that in those conditions.
So now the marathon target is officially being changed or L will kill me :)

What a great race for 20 euro. Not mad about the bog roads but no traffic to contend with so that's a plus. Really well organised and the cold (alcohol free) beer at the finish line was amazing :)  They also had water (obviously,) coke, bananas, orange segments and muffins so a pretty good selection. And the long sleeved technical t will be great for winter training.  This race sold out in its second year and I can see why. Sort out the weather though next year lads!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

I'm in love!

Yup! In love with my new shoes. I took a slight risk trying a different type of shoe but stuck to the same company (Saucony) as they have never let me down yet.

I tried the Saucony Cortana 2 (last years model as I'm brokedy broke right now) which is a neutral cushioned shoe as opposed to the Omni that I have been running in. I'm a suppinator rather than an overpronator so I should be able to get away with this and if I can't then it's on my own head.

From the minute I put these on they felt so fitted to my foot but light at the same time. I did an easy run yesterday just to check them out and they felt lovely but I wasn't sure if it was just because it was a gorgeous evening and I was just coming off a rest day. So today I brought them out for a shortened interval session (I have the HM Saturday and also was celebrating my daughters exam success so didn't want to keep everyone waiting.)

The plan was to do 4 miles total with 1 warm-up, 2 hard and then 1 cool-down. Was on my own too so wasn't sure if I would be able to push myself fully.

I needn't have worried.  The first hard mile came in at 7:10 and the second at 6:47! My first every sub 7 minute mile! Very very happy with that :)

Back home with a big smile on my face to celebrate....the Junior Cert results rather than my sub 7 minute mile which I didn't bother mentioning at home as nobody cares except me :)
My daughter did amazing by the way and I'm a very proud mammy. 

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Dublin City Marathon Training: 7 weeks to go!

This was a big week of training. Probably one of the toughest before the marathon itself as from now on a lot of the faster miles disappear in favour of marathon pace miles.

Mondays tempo was followed by easy miles Tuesday and then a killer but very enjoyable (yes that is possible) session on Wednesday of 1 mile warm-up+2miles @10k pace+1mile@5k pace x 2+2miles 5k pace+1 mile cool-down. I looooovvved this for some reason and am secretly hoping we do it again this week.....when it will probably kick my ass all over town.
My day was made by one of the guys turning to me after a repeat and saying "Did you just improve a lot all of a sudden?" My little wannabe runners heart skipped a beat!

Thursday and Friday were mostly easy miles as knew I was about to trash my legs this weekend and didn't want to end up sidelined in these big weeks.

I did my long run Saturday - 19 miles @ 9:05 average. Felt ok. Not great but they can't all be.
It seemed longer by myself but luckily I met up with a friend between 13 and 16 when I really needed it and she dragged me along. Fueling went ok. My strategy is very high tech as gels etc don't seem to agree with me. What I'm doing is taking packs of jelly sweets (I recommend sour patch kids) which I know I can stomach as I've used them before, and turning them into runner fuel by emptying in one of those tiny sachets of salt you get at deli counters. Don't knock it until you have tried it! You barely taste the salt as only some of it sticks to the sweets anyway and you don't feel as if you have been beaten and robbed by a running shop for something that once again sends you running to the portaloo (I'm talking to you Gu, Honeystinger, Hammer and don't even get me started on sports drinks!)

So what does one do on the final day of a week that included no rest days and the day after a tough long run?
Climb the highest peak in Leinster you say? Don't mind if I do!

Had a beautiful day for a jaunt up Lugnaquilla so set off with my friend G and made good time completeing the return trip in 3 hours including the sandwich but not including the pint of Guinness each at the bottom. Yum! An auspicious end to a 66 mile week......my highest mileage ever.

Monday, 1 September 2014


No not with me. Life is wonderfully uneventful at the moment and that is fine by me. The Scandal I'm referring to is the TV show. I have managed to binge watch the first two seasons of this in the last few days. I'm not really a TV person but something about marathon training makes me want to put my feet up more in my free time (when I'm not running of course.) Also a distraction is handy during foam rolling and donkey kicks etc. to make it less head wrecking.
Anyway....Scandal. Love it. Love Olivia Pope. Love her wardrobe. But how how how does she wear so much white and still drink red wine? I would end up with an array of slightly speckled off white clothing.
I suppose this is what makes it not real.
Get a grip girl!

Starting to focus on the Athlone Flatline Half Marathon on September 13th now.  Haven't done specific training for it...just sticking to my training for DCM. Next week is a step back week with mileage anyway so it fits in nicely.

Tempo this evening. Only girl at training so ran with the guys and felt very comfortable on the whole, and held 8 minute/mile average for the six miles. That course is on grass and on very rolling hills so hopefully that kind off pace is realistic for the very flat half on roads with a pacer. Or maybe I'm deluding myself but hey-ho...I'll find out soon enough!