Sunday, 30 November 2014

Race recap - Kildare Senior Cross Country

How can two races be so different? If last weeks 10k was a dream then today was a bit of a nightmare. Well I suppose you can't compare cross country and roads anyway but I think I could have paced this better.
It was a perfect morning. Dry. Not too cold. No wind. After a last minute bathroom (furze bushes) break we lined up at the start just on time for the off. And I decided I'd see what it was like to go out fast. Good idea right?

Wrong! It was going quite well until about 1k in at which point I started to really suffer. This was going to be a long 4k! I managed to hold on to some kind of pace for the next 2k but after that I was holding on for dear life and not really caring if I made a holy show of myself. Tragic! I heard one of the other girls on the team approach from behind and then pass me at 3k and desperately wanted to encourage her but I just couldn't get words out.

I had nothing for a fast finish despite loads of great support coming towards the end.
The finishing chute was a blur with my vision greying out at the edges. I begged the girl in front of me to move on so I could fall onto the grass but that didn't work......or most probably I didn't actually say anything at all out loud, I just thought I did. What a wuss!

Once out of the chute I tried to lie on the grass but some club members were having none of it. Luckily for them I was too tired and sick to go for them! They definitely know better but I still think a little lie down on the cold wet muck would have done me the world of good. Or made me really sick. One of those.

In the end we got second team so pretty happy with that. I know I didn't have anything else in me but would love to be stronger for the team. Maybe next year!

The men had to do 10k which I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, especially as we had probably churned the course up nicely for them. They did amazing and also got second team and I must say it was a lot more enjoyable to stand watching and cheering with a cuppa and some baked goods than to run the damn thing. Post race drinks and a dissection of the whole thing later tonight in the pub! Yay!

In summary: Cross country sucks really really bad but being part of a club and part of a team is great!

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Race recap - Clarinbridge 10k

So November has been eventful in my life outside of running. Lots happening on the personal and professional front, mostly good. All this has meant that I seem to be always in motion, going from pillar to post and rarely getting time to sit down and take a breath.
Most of this is through my own choice so I'm not exactly complaining (well only as much as any Irish person can not be complaining) but still, I'm looking forward to Christmas for a chance to slow down and take stock.

What I have been doing is lots and lots of running. My mojo seems to have survived the marathon and I'm feeling really strong. Fingers crossed this continues! Well at least until after the cross country tomorrow anyway.

Two weeks ago I set a new parkrun PB of 23.10 without breaking too much of a sweat. Last weekend I got to do my new favourite 10k in Clarinbridge and set a new PB there too. In fairness I haven't managed a 10k all year so the target was not that ambitious.

I was at home in Galway for the weekend to celebrate my cousins engagement. Catching up with friends and family was the priority not a race and to prove that I consumed plenty of wine and stole most of the naan bread while heads were turned. Runners need carbs right?

The day dawned frosty and bright and I wasn't hungover so I packed the kiddos into the car and headed off towards Clarinbridge in plenty of time (I thought!)
Unfortunately due to being stuck behind a van being towed and every Sunday driver in County Galway it was 12:10 before I arrived in Clarinbridge and the race was starting at 12:30! I darted in and registered, pinning my number on with trembling hands. I hate being late......and being late for me includes not being very early.

After a very brief warm-up I lined up well back in the bunch. It seemed to be almost all club runners and I hadn't a clue where I belonged so I didn't want to get in anyones way. We set off right on schedule and I held a comfortable 7:28 pace for the first mile. This felt easy but then it should do in mile one!
 We then moved briefly onto a forest path which was narrow in places and quite rough underfoot. I was fairly happy here as I'm used to rough ground and wanted to move on a bit faster but I was caught up in a bit of traffic. I wasn't confident enough to be aggressive here.
What if I pushed past someone aggressively and then then cruised past me a mile later? I'd feel like a total tool! Anyway this mile ended up at 7.45.....not too bad but would have like it to be faster. Thats me in the pic below in the background. I'm in my green singlet tucked in behind the lady in black and the lady in orange. Lovely running form as always! Photo stolen from Amphibian King West.

After this we moved back onto a wider path and onto the main road. It was good to have more space but it was mostly uphill. I remembered this section from the 5k series and knew there would be more hills whenever I thought it was over so I didn't let myself get psyched out. I started to push a bit to pick up the pace. This mile was 7.33. Still feeling grand at this point and was actually having fun!

The next two miles were more up and down but I was starting to believe I wasn't about to crash and burn plus I was loving overtaking people. Is that bad? It's a really nice mental boost. I couldn't believe how well I felt at this stage of the race. These two miles came in at 7:19 and 7:24.

At this point we re-entered the park we had started in and I knew it was mostly downhill from here. I seemed to still have loads in my legs and was having a ball! Mile 6 was 6.54 and I sprinted it in to finish in 46:11 almost 2 minutes off my previous 10k PB (which I have always had a sneaking suspicion was on a short course anyway)
My kiddos were waiting for me just after the line and I was able for a hug and a chat almost straight away.

So what do I take away from this race?
Well, I'm fitter than I've ever been right now. This marathon training cycle has left me in shape to PB at every distance and I feel like I'm getting faster and stronger every week.
I'm too easy on myself. I already knew my 5k PB was soft but this sort of made a mockery of it altogether. I'm not trying hard enough early enough as I'm so scared of blowing up.

In a 5 or 10k would it really be the end of the world to see how fast I can go? Someone with a lot more experience than I have pointed that out to me this week and I have taken it to heart. I need to stop looking at my watch and being scared of the paces I'm running at. I'm stronger than I think.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

The recovery and the (non)plan

I have found the recovery from this marathon a lot more difficult than the last. Perhaps it's that I was able to give everything on the day and that's why I felt so bad after. Or maybe it was drinking shots on an empty stomach and being unable to eat anything but beige food for the next week? Lesson learned (you know I don't mean this!)

Either way I felt like dirt up until early this week and didn't even consider going out for a run. I had done a marathon shuffle around the block a couple of days after the race but that was it. Wednesday I decided with a bit of encouragement to return to the track. Not for a full session but for the company while running around the track very slowly 20 times. Beforehand I was sooo nervous. I honestly wasn't sure if I'd be able to run! Maybe I'd forgotten how to?
Luckily some friends were already there when I arrived so I had a little chat, explained what I was going to be doing and bit the bullet! Of course it was fine and I had a big grin on my face most of the time. So happy to be back!
The rest of the week was a bit up and down. I went out and did 8 miles on Thursday but felt like all the energy drained out of me 3 miles in and I immediately reverted to marathon shuffle. Friday I had planned to take off but it was such a nice day I jogged down to the bank and back, a grand total of two miles.

Saturday was a bit of a drama!
Hiking in Wicklow had been planned for but with the weather being so changeable we decided to take a safe option and meet in Dun Laoighaire and walk from there to the top of Killiney and back. If I had been heading for Wicklow I'd have brought a backpack with lunch, water and many many layers. I thought I was being sensible travelling light with my waterproof and a change of socks. Unfortunately we picked exactly the time when it was bucketing with rain to be in the most exposed areas and got completely drenched to the skin. We sheltered in a coffee house to dry off a bit but when the rain failed to ease off we had no choice but to head out into the pouring rain again. It's so hard to get warm again once your clothes are wet!

The rain did begin to ease on the way back and we were rewarded with this glorious sight.
Double rainbow!!!
I was ridiculously happy about this but then I'm easily pleased.

It probably sounds like this was a miserable excursion but it really wasn't. My friend G is wonderful company and we laughed all the way around.

When we got back to our start point it was time for us to go our own ways so I got on the next Dart to Pearse Street Station to change for my destination. I was cold on this but relieved to be on the way home. Unfortunately when I got to Pearse I found out it was going to be 45 minutes for my train. Noooo! I tried to make the best of this by getting a hot sandwich and coffee to warm me up (and did I mention I hadn't eaten lunch and it was now 4:30? Eejit!) but I must have been a sight in my wet clothes shivering in the station. I'm not sure if the train was just as cold or if I'd now passed the point of being able to warm up by myself but I thought the journey would never end. When I got in my car to make the 40 minute journey home I put the heat on full blast and it took me over half of the journey before I stopped shaking.
Question: So what's the point of this whole story?
Answer: To document the ridiculous things I do so that I don't do them again. What an idiot!!

Got lashed on today too during my 8 miler so that's three soakings this week. It did add up to a fast finish so I can't complain too much.

I'm in the middle of writing my own new training plan to see me through the winter at the moment so I'll get back to that now. Something very satisfying about a new training plan with runs all ready to be ticked off!