Monday, 29 December 2014

Christmas running........the story so far!

I'm heading out in about an hour for my first post Christmas run back in Co. Kildare. It was lovely to spend Christmas with my family in Galway but it's good to be back!

I had a few days break from running before the big day, more by accident than design. Monday was our work meal out and Tuesday was last minute shopping day. Wednesday I worked until lunch and then drove down to Galway so didn't run then either. Anyway I'm calling this brief break a gift to my joints and muscles!

On Christmas morning I waited for the kiddos and my parents to get up (how times have changed!) and we took turns opening our gifts. It was lovely and we were all very satisfied with our presents but (and I know this sounds cheesy) it was one of the many times in the house I grew up in where I thought about how lucky we all are to have each other. I'm very lucky with my family even if we drive each other nuts the odd time. 

Me with some much appreciated new running gear - pardon the bedhead and glazed eyes! 

After a light breakfast I headed out for an easy 8-9 miles......not sure of the distance as I didn't bring a watch. It felt nice after the break but didn't have any desire to go faster!

St. Stephens Day dawned grey, cold, windy and wet all at once. I had committed to doing a local 5k fun run but was kind of regretting it now! However I knew I had to get some kind of decent tempo run in so I decided to do it despite the weather.
A three mile warm up succeeded in getting me soaked to my skin so that was fun. This was good in one way as I didn't mind taking off my soaking top layer for the run itself. I did get a few funny looks in my shorts and a thin training top in the freezing cold!
There was no proper startline as such so we set off together at the crossroads. One guy went off into the distance and a few girls kept pace with me on the first half a mile. I felt good so kept pushing up the first real hill and ended up out on my own. The first guy was a good way off at this stage so there was no interaction there. I kept expecting to hear footsteps behind me from some of the other men I had seen warming up, but none came.
The second mile was mostly uphill but I was feeling ok so I just tried to keep the pace even.

Mile three I suffered a bit, especially with nobody that close to follow and I had some silly thoughts about it not being a race as it wasn't timed so why make myself suffer and that sort of thing. The kind of thoughts you only have when you are pushing a bit and want the hurt to stop! I didn't slow down here but I didn't really speed up either which I should have.

I finished in 22:28 so was very happy with that for a tempo. It might not be a real race but I'll take second overall anytime I can get it! (i.e. probably never again!)

A brief pause for some water and two small cups of mulled wine and I was back on the road for my cooldown run home for a total of 8.5 miles for the day.

The next day I had meant to go for an easy recovery run of 6-7 miles. Unfortunately as I'm an idiot and have no sense of direction this turned into being on the road for 2.5hours!!! Who gets this lost in their own locality??
Also nobody even came looking for me so I take back all the nice things I said about my family but that's fine! All well that ends well!

I took yesterday off running and travelled back from the West. Ten easy miles today with the AC girls to get the week off to a good start. Roll on 2015!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Race recap - Naas Parkrun

And yes I know it's a timed run rather than a race but for the sake of consistancy I'm calling it a race recap. I had asked E from the club to give me a call some weekend if she was going to do Parkrun. This Wednesday at the track after she kicked my ass again she said she might be up for it this Saturday. She is much faster than me but coming back from having a baby so temporarily more my speed! She had run a good bit faster than me at the cross country over a shorter distance so I knew she would be a great pacer for me to push myself a bit over the 5k. Oh and she is also a sweetheart and it's nice to catch up with friends first thing on a Saturday so there is that too! Another lovely running friend O came along too but was just hoping to get around as she hasn't been training much due to some family stuff. It was so nice to catch up with her too. Have I mentioned I love my running friends? Probably many times, but I do!

So anyway Saturday dawned clear and not too cold (unlike last Saturday) and we arrived at Naas racecourse with about 15 minutes to spare. Not ideal for warming up but nothing I could do about it. I got to it straight out of the car while the others went looking for the loo and then we jogged up to the course together and around the long way to the start line. The warm up exercises were almost done by the time we got there so there was just enough time to shed layers and we were off!

I didn't get caught up too much at the start and settled in about 10 meters back from E and hoped I could hang on for as long as possible. The first mile was uneventful but I felt like I was breathing very hard already. Would I be able to keep this up or was I going to die in the second half? 7:14 on the garmin. Not too bad!
The next mile was a bit of a slog but I always find this middle one hard mentally. E seemed to be further away from me and I had to fight to keep the pace going especially on the parts of the course where we had a headwind. Mile 2 7:17. Was this a sign of things to come? Was I going to be slower again for the next mile?

At this point I started to really feel like I might have a bit more in the tank so I let myself push a bit more as I knew there was only a mile to go. How does that happen when you swear you don't have anything previously? Anyway I started to bridge the gap with E and was right on her shoulder for a while. She told me after she knew it was me as she recognised my breathing from the track! Anyway she gave me a "go on!" gesture with her hand and I thought she had lost it. There was no way I was going to be able to go past her was there? But her faith in me gave me a bit of a lift and I looked up and saw we were on the last bend before the long stretch to the finish. I might as well give it a try anyway.
I tried to relax and push hard at the same time if that makes any sense and my legs kind of took over. I used all my mental games to keep it going all the way to the finish line.........counting, swearing I could stop at the next fence post, promising myself I never had to run again after this. The usual! I didn't look at my watch here but according to garmin the third mile was 6:57 pace and the final segment was at 6:07 pace. I'll take that!

The time on my garmin at the finish was 22:06 so a PB by over a minute and on the same course too. The time Parkrun gave me was 22:02 but I don't think that can be right so I'll go by the higher one to be safe. E was a few seconds behind me for a post baby PB and O was about a minute after. Not bad for a bunch of old(er) birds!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Another DNS!

I should have known when my number didn't arrive in the post as promised that I should just give up on the Aware 10k in the Phoenix Park. Stubbornly I e-mailed the organisers on Friday and was assured I could turn up at the start line and collect a new number. So far so good! Right?

Saturday morning came too quickly and I reluctantly dragged myself out of my warm bed. I'm not one for lie in's but even a toe out of the covers confirmed it was a cold one. I pulled the curtains to see the surrounding countryside liberally dusted in white. Not snow but a hard frost. "At least it's dry and bright and still." I thought, trying to look on the bright side. Perfect morning for a race once I'm warmed up.

An hour later I was wrapped up and ready to go. Or would be once I got the windscreen defrosted. An impatient phone call from a friend J I was giving a lift to got me moving while trying to see out of one portion of my frozen windscreen. "Oh well! It's always a few degrees warmer in Dublin." I thought. Hmmm.

We arrived in Dublin relatively quickly and it wasn't until I went to park the car and it skidded a couple of feet that I realised how frosty it was on Chesterfield Avenue, the main thoroughfare of the park and the road a lot of the race was going to be on. I looked at J and got very worried for the first time that this race wasn't going to go ahead. My confidence wasn't helped by trying to get out of the car on the slippery roads.

Long story short, the race did go ahead but not with me in it. After a number of delays of the start to allow the course to defrost and warnings that the conditions were "very, very, very, very dangerous" (there may even have been another very) I knew this wasn't going to be a PB day for me. Considering that I'm mortally terrified of falling on ice I decided early on I wasn't going to run and encouraged anyone who would listen to do the same. We had already made the donation to charity. Why risk life and limb?

As we were there and dressed a run of some sort was in order so I let the much faster J drag me around on the grass of the Phonix Park for a bit of a cross country jaunt. It was heavy going and my hardish effort is a bit of a jog for him so it was a relief for both of us to get back on the now much safer paths later on for a faster final couple of miles. At least the morning wasn't a total write-off from a training point of view!