Tuesday, 28 October 2014

SSE Airtricity Dublin City Marathon 2014 - Race Recap

So as I mentioned before the last few days before the marathon were not ideal. Our flight was cancelled and we spent Sunday morning trying to get through to the airline. Thank god for the youngest and her twitter account as we wouldn't have gotten to talk to anyone until the lines opened at 1pm if it wasn't for her! Anyway our rebooked flight wasn't going to leave London until 6 so I tried to rest up, hydrate and basically make up for spending the whole of Saturday on my feet.

The flight itself went fine and we were in the car within about 15 minutes of landing. From there I drove straight into the city to pick up my race number from my friend and then back on the M7 to be home for about 9pm. Not great but could have been a lot worse. Ominously it was still quite warm and very breezy at this stage but I tried to forget about this and concentrated on getting my race number pinned on and laid out the rest of my gear for the morning. I was so wrecked at this stage that I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

I woke at about 5am and knew there was no point trying to get back to sleep at that stage. It was marathon day finally! Despite a total lack of interest in food I managed to force down two cinnimon raisin bagels with butter and honey along with a couple of pints of water and a strong black coffee. I felt ok. Not buzzing but fine. At this point I was still mad early so decided to throw on some BB cream, some blusher and a bit of mascara which is more than I usually manage on a work morning but what can I say......I was bored! Anyway it was worthwhile as my "glamorous" look was commented on by some club members who were out supporting. This possibly has more to do with the state they usually see me in than anything else!

Leaving the house was a bit of a drama as my parents had stayed the previous night to be close to the airport as they were heading off to the USA for 5 weeks. I did have to pretend I wasn't totally focussed on hustling out the door asap. I'm not positive I fooled anyone! As soon as I started my car I noticed the temperature gauge was reading 15 degrees and the sun wasn't even up yet. It was also quite blustery. Oh no!! The two things I had specifically said I would hate!

The trip up to Stillorgan Park-and-Ride was uneventful, as was the Luas journey in. Although I did feel for the poor souls who normally have the tram to themselves in the morning and were now cheek to jowl with a load of runners. At least we were clean and fresh smelling at that stage!

As soon as I arrived at the bag drop I knew that a final loo stop wasn't going to happen at the portaloos. The lines in the baggage area were huge and I remembered from last year that the lines in the wave holding areas were even worse so I hadn't a chance of getting there on time. Luckily I have a friend G who lives on Upper Mount Street which meant I was able to pop into her place for a proper loo. Heaven! I chilled out there until about 15 minutes before the start time and then made my way to the start area. A bit of bobbing and weaving later and I was up near the 3:50 pacers and just as I got there the gun went for the start of the first wave so I knew we only had ten minutes to go. I had my first gel and tried to relax.

The early miles - Start to the PP
The advantage of being in the first pace group at the start of a wave is that there doesn't seem to be a lot of congestion in the first few miles. I'm not the best at running in groups but I never felt boxed in at the start. I did feel that the pace was a bit fast right from the off and I was conscious that this should feel really easy at this stage and it never did.
In fact I was quite relieved anytime there was a bit of congestion and I got to back off the pace a bit. I didn't have the urge to chat to anyone around me either and usually I'd be quite talkative in the first few miles. It does usually take me a while to settle into a run and start to feel comfortable though so I decided to be conservative and see if my legs felt a bit springier later.
Most of this section was around the city on the way to the park gates so there was plenty to look at to keep the mind occupied and I tried to do this and let myself relax a bit. I was keeping the same distance from the pacers at this stage but was being passed constantly.

The PP to Chapelizod
Between the wind and the long incline I had decided before the race to take the park very easy. I tried to not expend any extra energy going up the hills and allowed my pace to slow fractionally here. I did try to find a group to block the wind for me a bit but as I mentioned earlier it wasn't that congested. Maybe if I had been right up beside the pacers I could have done that but I certainly wasn't wasting energy trying to catch them. At this point I was getting a bit concerned that the pace still felt quite challenging. During training runs I had had to hold myself back or my pace would drift towards 8 minute miles. I don't think I could have run an 8 minute mile yesterday at any time! I took my first gel on schedule at 5 miles. At this stage I had been through two water stations and was already starting to douse myself with water to cool down. This would continue all the way to the end!
Halfway through the park I was spotted by a group of supporters from the AC included the two girls I did my long runs with until they got injured. It was great to see them and they made me feel like a total rockstar shouting my name and generally making a spectacle of themselves. It was great!
The section where we exited the park briefly was downhill and I let myself speed up on these sections. I wasn't particularly worried about frying my quads on the downhills as I train on hills so I should be used to them by now. The crowds around the hills at Chapelizod really took the sting out of them although again I was being passed like mad on the uphills. Every time I felt like pushing on a hill I kept repeating to myself "Think of mile 22!"

The long stretch of death (Crumlin Road)
I hated the next section of the race last year when it came earlier in the race so I didn't have any illusions about the area from the park out the Crumlin road and up to Fortfield. I knew it was going to hurt so I just tried to do damage limitation. The wind was straight into our faces for most of this stage. The pacers were still in sight but I hadn't seen any signs from my legs so far that there was going to be any picking up of the tempo so I just concentrated on not messing up. The marathon tide was starting to come back the other way here so even though I wasn't speeding up I was passing people constantly which was encouraging for me but probably a sign that it was a hard day out there! I was delighted to see a club member with her 3 month old at mile 17. It gave me a real boost and at least made me try to look up instead of at my feet!

Regroup at Bushy Park
The section from Bushy Park to Milltown is a lovely part of the course. If only I hadn't been running a marathon I could have really enjoyed it! This bit was all about making sure I had enough energy for the hills. The legs were really starting to ache now but a respectable finish was starting to feel doable despite my lack of energy. I had let go of the pacers and was concentrating on running my own race with the legs I had on the day.

Milltown and UCD
I think I spent so long dreading the hills and the flyover that when they did arrive it was a bit of an anticlimax. What did I think was going to happen? Big boulders being rolled down the hill to crush me?
I used the same strategy of slowing down to conserve energy but it felt like I was flat out sprinting on both of these due to the amount of people walking. I honestly think it was about 4:1 ratio of walkers to runners. Walking was not the problem..........walking in a long line of five abreast is a problem if nobody can get past you! Got a great cheer from club members again here and T jumped in and ran with me for a bit although I don't think I was very good company. I apologised later!
I was so relieved to get past UCD I thought I was going to cry!

The last bit
The last part of the course is lovely and would be a delight if your body wasn't screaming at you to stop and walk. This was where the real countdown started and I had to use every trick in the book to convince my body to keep going. Again I can see by my splits that I slowed a bit here but runners were few and far between at this stage. I've never seen anything like it......but then again I was practically an extra on The Walking Dead last year so I can't remember much! When I got to 25 I was surprised by our AC coach out on the road shouting for me so that was a nice boost, although I was incapable of giddying up even for him. I must say I love the new finish. I loved being able to see it from quite a way out. The roar of the crowd really lifted me up in that last mile and I managed to get my head up and pick up my stride a bit. And after the longest 400m of my life I was finally on the finishing stretch, capable of soaking it all in and look around and together enough to put my arms up in victory crossing the finish line. A year later I finally got the marathon finish line I wanted!

Chip time 3:54:19
A 15 minute PB and quite honestly all that was in my legs yesterday. There is nowhere when I look back through my splits where I feel I could have gone any faster so this is absolutely the best I could do. It's not what I aimed for but there will be other days and I'm happier with this time than I thought possible. For now!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Ideal marathon preparation....

Would not involve still being in London City Airport right now. Boo Cityjet and your flight cancellations!

Yay paranoia and leaving a copy of all registration stuff with a friend! So at least I have a number. Thank goodness for good friends, I'm very lucky.

The chances are I will get to the start line and I'm trying not to stress out too much about my less than perfect day of prep. One way to look at it is that I'm going to be super grateful to be there and start running tomorrow!! Now for some more airport carb loading.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Pre-marathon sports massage

I had meant to go for a deep tissue massage before now but what with all the running and everything I didn't got round to it until today. A friend from the club gave me the number of a therapist she recommended who is really reasonably priced so I thought I'd give her a try.
Early indications are, I'll be going back!

Last night was a tough track workout that left me in bits and I felt like an old lady getting out of my bed. Luckily a 6 mile recovery run this morning eased that a bit so by the time I arrived for my massage I was feeling quite limber.

While I didn't feel like I had any obvious hotspots it became obvious during the treatment that the upper part of both calf muscles were quite knotted and required a good bit of work. Ditto for the upper parts of my shins on the lateral side of my knee.

My right side in general was a lot tighter than the left and needed a lot more knots worked out, although the left lateral thigh area (part of the ITB) was unexpectedly a problem area whereas the right was fine. I'm sure this is all a function of my drastically uneven hips and lower spine but I hope some more focussed strength work over the winter will help even this out. Unfortunately nothing but a new skeleton is going to help the underlying issues.

All in all there was more there to work on than I thought there would be and probably less there than she had been expecting! I've been told to keep up the foam rolling, stretching and self-massage as I'm obviously doing a reasonable job so far so that's encouraging.

A productive morning but I'm wrecked now and have a parent teacher meeting to go to. Fingers crossed it goes well and I'm home in my jammies by six!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Dublin City Marathon Training: Taper week 1

I was quite relieved to hit the taper last weekend.........and so was understandably on the back foot when I figured out this week still had more than 50 miles in it. Feck! 
Oh well! I haven't followed the plan thus far just to throw it out the window when I'm near the end. 

The week went well after the initial shock and I must say even the small step down in miles has given me a fair bit of extra pep in my step. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, as I'm so accustomed to being on the go all the time I've used this extra energy to do pointless stuff like cleaning. I did all the usual bits and pieces but with a few added extras. 
I ironed. (Not a regular occurrence.) My freezer was even defrosted. I think this is the first time I've done this on purpose ever. Any other time it's been a consequence of either the door being left open overnight or an electrical outage. Both scenarios resulting in me throwing away large amounts of frozen food. This time I planned it and virtually no throwing away ensued (apart from the breaded calamari I was never going to eat.) I feel very grown up. Maybe I'll start making jam or something next? 

Today I had a grand total of 4 miles on my schedule. I can't remember the last time I ran that few miles. It was a glorious day too so I decided to go on a bit of an excursion with younger child to make the best of the good weather. 

Howth was the destination and it was glorious once we got out of the car. Next time I'll be getting the train as parking was an absolute nightmare. 

As I'm a tad on the financially embarrassed side just at the moment due to the glories of paying both a mortgage and rent (thanks Celtic Tiger!) and various school related expenses, we packed a lunch and had that on a bench in the lovely sunshine right beside three of the most gorgeous huskies I've ever seen. I wish I could have gotten a picture but they were with their humans so it probably would have looked strange!

After that we had a walk out to the lighthouse where younger did her best teenager impression hiding behind her hair as you can see. 

Then we had a rummage around a second-hand book place and went to the weekend market where we spent a combined total of about ten euro and that includes veggies for the week. Pretty happy with that! Nice to know you can have a day out in Dublin without spending a fortune. 

Tomorrow I have 12 miles at PMP planned so I hope to get that done relatively early. I hope the weather is like today, it's absolutely glorious running weather. Fingers crossed for this at the end of the month! 

The rest of tomorrow involves replenishing the aforementioned freezer and then babysitting for a friend. What I'm going to do with my time when the miles really drop I don't know!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Dublin Marathon Training: Taper time!!!

I'm sooooo excited to be tapering! This was the first week of training when I just felt "I'm ready to be done."
Despite that I had a solid rest of week's training.

Thursday was a 7 miler with a friend a bit faster than it should have been (8:30 average) but happened by accident as we were chatting away nineteen to the dozen. Friday was a rest day which was good as I had a million real-life things to catch up on and then my parents paid us a surprise visit.
Which was lovely but I had planned on staying off the vino and the dinner out put paid to that. (They forced my mouth open and poured wine down my throat obviously. Those assholes!!)

The ensuing mild hangover and the fact that they didn't leave until after lunch on Saturday meant my 10 miler at PMP was later than planned but I'm guessing this just enhanced the handicapping effect it's supposed to have on my 21 miler today. Which is the point really so extra bonus points...I win at making things harder for myself! A fact that everyone who knows me well is already very aware of.

The 21 miler went amazing. I had planned 10 easy pace and then the rest at a comfortable cruising pace that felt like I could still have chatted at and I could eat and drink at. I wore the same shorts, socks and shoes I intend to wear on race day and took 3 gels. One as I was leaving the house, one at 5-6 miles (takes me ages to drink the buggers!) and one from 12-15(seriously...ages!)

I also took two of these guys as GI issues have caused me to avoid gels in the past. I still brought TP just in case.
God bless modern medicine!

Anyway all was well on the gut front so will be repeating that on race day and bringing a couple of extra for good measure.

Splits were:

I felt really good throughout and was quite impressed with myself that I ran around the car park a few times at the end to make it 21. If I had felt tired I would certainly have called 20.7 good enough and dodged inside to tackle the three flights of stairs to the apartment. I could definitely have done another 5.2 miles. Could I have done them if my first few miles weren't easy? I don't know.

For that reason and from information I've gotten on boards.ie I'm planning on going out with the 3:50 pacers and sticking with them the first 10 miles.....so that's 8.47 pace (but I'd say they will be more like 8:40 to allow a bit of a cushion for extra distance etc.)

Then I'm hoping to get onto 8:30 pace if all is well and push that in to mile 22. After 22 most of the hills are over and I can try to take advantage of the downhills to maintain/increase my speed.

Well that's the plan anyway. Today. Ask me again tomorrow!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

I'm going to miss mile repeats.....

Not really. But I was enjoying them up until today but I'm done with mentally for a bit. Brain fried!

It was a beautiful evening but I mostly wanted to get home and watch the Great British Bake Off with my daughter so I chose quality over quantity tonight. Which is a bit of a laugh as my times were all over the place. Inconsistancy seems to be the name of the game at the moment for me. 
I started with 2 warm up miles at 8:50min/mile and then 7:10, 6:45, 6:54 followed by 2 cool down miles. I'm happy with the actual paces I just wish they were a bit closer together. It's like I have a disconnect at the moment between how fast my legs will take me and what my brain is telling me. I suppose it was only the week before Athlone that I first saw a mile with a 6 on the beginning of it so I should give my poor old brain a chance to catch up. Slow learner!