Friday, 30 October 2015

Strength training continued...

So despite the major DOMS after last week's session I again ventured to the Thursday night strength and conditioning class at industrial fitness. It was so good and I'm so much less sore than last week. I even managed to put weight on the bar for my strict press (a grand total of 2.5kg....super woman I am not!)

So what is the idea behind trying to get into a regular strength training routine and why have I chosen the class I have?

There are two fairly well researched reasons in the literature for doing strength training as a runner. Firstly, lifting heavy strengthens the hips and hip stability is huge for injury prevention. Secondly, lifting heavy helps to create more power with each stride. A more powerful stride with the same aerobic fitness brings an increase in speed. Either one of those benefits on their own are enough for me to want to try to make this a regular part of my training.
Of course I still have to do all of my other running sessions trying to bring my turnover back up after marathon training but it's going to be interesting to see if it helps.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

SSE Dublin Marathon 2015 - spectator race recap

Bank holiday Monday was my first time spectating the Dublin Marathon and I must admit it was a much more physically exhausting task than I expected!
The SO and a handful of other guys from the club were running so I had plenty to cheer for and although I promised to be there at mile 5, 20 and near the end I thought for some reason I was going to have a lovely relaxing day. I even left the house uncaffeinated as I was sure if mostly be sipping cappuccinos to stay warm. Ummm....not quite!!

As anyone with eyes may have noticed Monday morning was really windy with some misty rain. I was so worried for the SO (J) as a pb attempt didn't seem to on the cards on a day like this on a course as exposed as Dublin. Anyway, I tried to be upbeat on the drive in and the excited crowds on the Luas from Stillorgan were at least a distraction. Before I knew it I was saying goodbye to J and wandering towards the Abbey street to get the Luas......except the Luas wasn't running on this section. Eek!
At this point I realised I'd have to run 6 minute miles to beat J to mile 5 so I was going to have to adjust plans. I set off as fast as my legs would carry me towards the chapelizod gate as I knew the course comes out of the gate there at about 10 miles. A few miles later I arrived at the gates just as the lead runners had gone through....phew!!! I got my breath back and got busy cheering. Not that long later J came through looking like he was working hard but he didn't see me. I stuck around and waited for the rest of the club runners to come through, most looking comfortable and relaxed and giving me a wave or smile.
After this it was an uphill slog on closed roads back up to Heuston for a taxi to Milltown. This part was much easier logistically as the taxi was able to bring me right to the bottom of Milltown road and it was a short walk to the top of the ideal vantage point to see approaching runners. I was getting nervous now about J and how he was getting on after seeing him work hard at 10 miles. I started to chat to a pleasant guy on the hill as we watched and clapped for the runners passing by. Then in the distance I picked out a familiar running style and there was J coming towards me,  running strong up the hill with a big smile on his face! I jumped in with him for a few yards as he came by and passed him a small bottle of coke and just told him he looked strong. He was totally with it and I knew then that the wheels were staying on today!
The rest of the Newbridge ac crew followed in fairly quick succession and I decided to run to the finish from there...taking a cross street to Ballsbridge that got me to mile 25 in very short order. I found a little spot for myself between the 800 and 400 signs and settled it to watch. This was one of the most inspiring parts of the experience for me. Seeing people coming towards the finish in all sorts of conditions....some with a smile. Others with a grimace or stopping to stretch a last minute cramp. The waves of cheers for everyone was overwhelming and I was moved to tears on several occasions, most notably when J passed by with 2:52 on the clock and I knew he was going to be well under 3 hours. I was sooooo proud and so happy for him. His finish time was 2:54...a 5 minute pb!

I waited near the finish for another half an hour watching more and more finishers pass by and then made my way over to meet J and shuffle him over to Sinnotts for a drink and something to eat. Stairs may not have made it the best choice but the proximity to the Luas for his rapidly tightening leg muscles was great!

Friday, 23 October 2015

No pain no gain?

Part of what I've promised myself for the next few months is that I'll get into a regular strength training routine. I've tried to do this before but it's always the first thing to go once I get busy and the miles start building up (or truth be told, when I'm broke!) 

The plan for now is to try to make it to one strength and conditioning class per week at Industrial Fitness Newbridge and then do a second session at home if possible.
I love the Thursday night class at Industrial Fitness and always feel like a total badass after. This is completely unjustified as I can only do about half of the moves but feck it.....I try! It's a big warehouse kind of set-up and the class structure is a short warm up followed by about twenty minutes doing two different types of lifts - low amount of reps with heavy weights and then a conditioning session of about fifteen minutes of circuits of some sort. 

The instructors Pa and Morgan are great. They know their stuff and give loads of encouragement and everyone is friendly. Last Thursday night was my first night back since the big miles kicked in a few months back and it was.....interesting! I'm as weak as a kitten and seem to have forgotten how to do burpees (sad face) but I appear to still be able to squat so that's one good thing to take from it. 

The day after I was in a serious amount of pain so that was fun! What I would like to do is get some weights here at home so I can do a second session on a Monday after my tempo run and then I won't be in so much pain after the Thursday night class. This is all very well in theory but we will see if I follow through on it. 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

What to do?

It's just over two weeks after the marathon and I'm back running fairly regularly. Recovery went well except for my ganky toe which is only getting back to itself now. I do have before and after pics but I don't think they need to be recorded on here! 

I did my first faster run since getting back into training last night. It was a five mile tempo with L and O from the club plus a group of guys but it was only a hard effort for us girls.....the rest of them were not even breathing hard. We finished with an average of about 7:30 pace which I was happy about for a comeback run but is miles off where I was speedwise in the spring. Also I was banjaxed by mile 4 while the other two girls were grand. Oh well! Time to get back to the track and do some speedwork! 

So what is on the cards for the future with races? Well there is only one definite so far and that is Kildare Senior Cross Country. The club are hosting it this year and our strongest female is 'with child' so we need all hands on deck for that one. That's not until the end of November though so I need to do something before then or I'll be totally gun shy!

I'm toying with the idea of a flat, fast looking 5k in early November as I really think I can get under 21 mins on the right day so that's a maybe. And then there is a half marathon in portarlington in mid November. I haven't done a half since 2014 so I feel like I'd have to have a disaster not to pb (famous last words?)

Other than that I have no big plans for 2016. I need to get a bit of a mental break before I can decide if I want to do a marathon next year or not. I'll admit that the thought of taking a few more minutes off the pb is appealing but I don't think jumping straight back into training for a marathon is going to get me there. What seems to have worked for me is building a good base over the winter, getting faster over shorter distances in the spring and then marathon training over the long days of summer if I feel like it by then. I might stick to that for 2016 and see how it serves me. Or I reserve the right to change my mind at any point!

Monday, 5 October 2015

Race recap - Run Galway Bay Marathon

In 2011 I ran my first ever race. The Athenry Fit4Life 5k in just under 36 minutes. On Saturday I ran my third marathon in 3 hours and 33 minutes. It wasn't my A goal but I can't be disappointed in a 21 minute PB!

So the details....
The lead-up to race day went fairly smoothly. Had a bit of a sniffle the week before but due to judicious use of hot whiskeys, vitamin C and lemsip it never really developed into a proper cold. I slept poorly the night before but then who gets a full night sleep before a marathon?
Saturday morning was cool and perfectly calm - great race conditions! Myself and the SO got up around was great to not have to get up at stupid o'clock for this race! We were out the door for 7:15 and parked at the Cathedral car park for 8am. Five minutes later we were at the race start area so we were there in loads of time. Plenty of portaloos for the small numbers meant no queueing...yay!
There was some mild panic just after we arrived when there was an announcement that the marathon was about to start.......I was still in my long tights and a few layers...WTF!!! Anyway it turns out that was for those aiming to finish over 4:30 so they could take advantage of the road closure.

The main event
About 5 minutes before the start we all moved over to the start area and the pacers arrived. There were two 3:30 pacers and it was easy to line up right behind them. Again the small numbers a major advantage here! We started off bang on time and headed off on our first two small laps before our 4 big laps out through Salthill and back. The first mile was right on pace.....just under 8min/miles. I did notice that when we hit the first marker (this was for 1.1 miles) that my watch said 1.13 but didn't take much notice at the time. In retrospect this was a mistake!!!

The next 12 miles or so went by very uneventfully. I took my gels on schedule and the pace felt easy. Each mile split on my watch was just under the pace so around about 7:55min/miles. As there weren't markers for each mile I wasn't aware of any discrepancy at this point....I was just chugging along happily with the pacers, chatting occasionally with the group. I saw the SO all over the place.....he kept popping up offering gels or water.

At 13.1 miles on my watch I noticed how far away we still were from the 13.1 mile sign. Oh dear! I think the pacers realised about this time too as all of a sudden the pacers I had been almost clipping the heels of set off like bats out of hell. I though for a while I had just hit some kind of wall as I felt like I was going backwards but I looked at my watch at the time and it was steadily in the 7:40s - looking back on the mile splits, the next 3 miles were way too fast and this and losing the pacers put me a dark place. It was the third lap and all that kept going through my mind was "I can't believe I have to do this bulls*** again after this!"

The next time we came through the start area was at the 20 mile mark and I had stopped looking at the watch at this stage. This is where I saw the parents so I made an attempt to not look too much like I was dying. Shortly after that I passed the SO again. He was carrying my backpack with all my clothes, money, phone, keys etc and was wearing about three layers but I told him I wanted him to run with me and he did. We had talked about this in advance so he was ready to jump in for that last lap if necessary. It did run through my mind to tell him my parents were close and to drop the bag with them but saying all those words seemed like a lot of energy so I didn't. I feel pretty bad about that now! On the other hand if he was trying to prove himself then 6 miles with multiple layers and a pink backpack will do it every time.

The next few miles were off the pace but I really didn't care at this stage. None of the miles were slower than 8:30 pace and that was as all I had at the time. These last few miles were quite congested with the faster half marathon crew coming through and lots of walkers on their first lap. I found this quite difficult as there was limited room on the course and the last thing I wanted to be thinking about was how I was going to get past a line of people or a dog walker! The last mile in particular was so hard. I know I was in pain but the amount of times I had to step off the path to get past people was ridiculous and in the last 100 meters I had to stop and ask people in a big group on their first lap to please allow me to get past. I gave up and ran through grass in the end to reach the finish area. So annoying!
What wasn't annoying was crossing that finish line with 3:33 on the clock. I hadn't been looking at my watch since about 18 miles so I hadn't a clue what my time was. I thought I had lost way more time! I was and still am ecstatic about my time!

My thoughts on the race
This was the first year a full marathon was available along with the more established 10k and half marathon. Numbers were kept to 200 and to be honest in the format the race is right now I don't think they could have had many more. The course was simply too congested in the second half once the half marathon started and can have only gotten worse as the majority of the field were still out on the course.

All of the volunteers and marshals that I came across were fantastic but there just weren't enough of them. More people along the course making sure there was a relatively clear path for runners would have made a lot of difference. I know in Limerick they have the three events together and I don't remember there being as much of a problem but then that's a much larger course so not the same space issues. Also good luck with stopping Galway people from walking their dog or cycling along the prom while a race is going on........not going to happen!

So was the course long? I don't know and it doesn't really matter. Whether it was or not my watch says we rock steady on the pace until about half way and then something happened so the next few miles were super fast so something was up and it wasn't just me. More and clearer signs would have allowed us all to be more aware of any difference sooner and made the later miles less painful!

The race T-shirt is excellent. It is properly sized, technical fabric and ladies fit so it will get loads of wear. The medal is grand. I don't really care about medals so I'm not the one to ask about this! There was pasta, crackers, biscuits etc available after the race which was good.........I bypassed this though and went to the Salthouse for two pints of Erdinger and a bag of crisps followed by pizza from Monroes for the car home :)

Monday, 28 September 2015

The taper crazy

The countdown is on. It's less than a week until the big day and most of the actual training bit is over. A few short sessions left but nothing I would have considered worth wasting a clothes change on a few weeks ago. Perspective!
It's great to get a bit more free time but to be honest I think I might be losing the plot a bit! Up to this point I didn't have enough leftover energy to get too worked up about anything. Unless I was hungry if course.
In the last few days as I've freshened up I've found myself with renewed energy. Energy for housework, shopping and side errands I had been putting off. Energy for the odd bit of core work. And for better or worse energy for being a big grenade of emotion just waiting to go off. God help my friends, family and soon to be sainted SO...
I've managed to keep the unprompted and unprovoked fits of crying mostly to long stretches of motorway driving but if anyone spots me at a set of traffic lights crying like my heart is breaking...don't worry. I just have too much time and energy on my hands so it had to come out somehow.
Physically the legs are getting some bounce back. Parkrun quite close to my previous pb pace on Saturday felt fairly manageable. Sunday's final chunk of marathon pace miles felt effortless and I'll admit I wished the race was yesterday as I felt strong and ready. I just want to turn up next Saturday feeling as ready as I did after 8 yesterday and I'll be happy.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Life would be boring if I was consistent at everything!

So what can I say? I'm not very good at updating this which is a shame. When I look back at earlier posts it's great to be able to see progress, or on the flip-side it's useful to be able to reflect on a time when things seemed to be going badly as a reminder that things change.

I've managed to fail to document an entire marathon training cycle which is impressive! Taper started yesterday and I'm still in one piece (touch wood) and feeling strong. I'm registered for the first running of the Galway Bay Marathon (previously a half and 10k) on Saturday October 3rd.

Image borrowed with thanks from the event FB page

Should I talk about targets? I'm not particularly superstitious so I'm happy to document my A,B,C and D goals.

  • D - Finish!
  • C - Small PB (3:45-3:54)
  • B - Large PB (3:30-3:45)
  • A - Sub 3:30
Key sessions are pointing to being ready for my A goal. Goal marathon pace is 8:01 and I've been there or under for my marathon pace tempo runs. Can I do it for 26.2? Not a clue but I'll give it a go!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Race recap - VHI Womens Mini Marathon

So anyone in the island of Ireland knows that yesterday's weather was a wee bit on the wet and windy side. This made waiting around for this race to start a little bit miserable. Added to this the fact that there was little to no room to warm up in the start area and I was not having the good feels!!

Luckily I met up with L from the club and we had a good old chat to help the time pass.We also arranged a meeting spot for a celebratory drink after....priorities!

We were let off at two on the dot and although I was only about 20 feet from the front I had to start weaving immediately to get around walkers. Why do people do that?? I would hate to be passed and elbowed for an entire race. It has to be bad for your mental health or are they oblivious? Rant mostly over. 

So between that and usual race start congestion routine the first mile was 7:25. I felt great though despite the short warm up and long cold wait. The pace felt super easy. 

The next couple of miles were mostly great with music and spectators and I was really enjoying the course itself. I was feeling the headwind but it was all still really good fun....these were 7.07 and 7:10. 

The halfway point came on the out and back part of the course along the Stillorgan dual carriageway. This was the only bit of the course I genuinely disliked as we got the full force of the wind at the same time as an incline all the way out. The great thing was I got to see the lead ladies coming back and had enough breath to give them a cheer and a "Well done!" 

As I turned and finally got the breeze at my back I looked down to see the last mile had been 7:17. Poo! Enough of that!
I picked the pace up to take advantage of the tailwind and some nice downhill to bring mile 5 in at 6:59 and my only sub 7 mile of the day. I was starting to tire now and I felt as if we turned back into a swirling headwind here. The slight hills were starting to feel like mini marathon mountains. 

Mile 6 was 7:01 and I was desperate for the line now. There was a bit of back and forth going on with a lady in a Drogheda AC singlet (I stared at this one for a while trying to read it as it has a bit of a Turkish sort of flavour to it! See below) and a lady in a purple fundraiser t shirt.

Courtesy of Drogheda District AC Facebook Page - There has to be a story to this one surely?

Anyway so they were really strong and I kept passing and being passed again just when I thought I was safe. Luckily I got a whiff of the finish line and my legs took over, sprinting past like a woman on a mission. I don't know where that comes from but its great when it happens. Doesn't feel like it has anything to do with me though! Finish time 44:42. Not a PB but I'm happy with that in those conditions. I'd love to run another race on that course on a different day. I really really enjoyed it!

Monday, 1 June 2015

Non running stuff

Not sure when I'll publish this. Obviously there is more to a life than running. Although not that much if you run a lot of miles! If you are exceptionally lucky like me then you might meet someone just as cracked as you who is equally as unable to sit down and just as likely to go climb up big hills for fun in the afternoon after a long run in the morning. Only if you are very lucky indeed though...

Wish me luck!

Running the VHI Women's Mini Marathon today. Haven't decided if it's for fun or a pb attempt but the whistling wind outside suggests the former. Maybe there is no wind in Dublin this morning......

Friday, 29 May 2015

First win

So on Sunday I won a 5k! A very small one but I'm savouring it as it may be the only time I'm the first lady across the finish line.

The race is the same family sponsored 5k I came second in last year - Garrafrauns family fun day 5k.
I knew lining up there was a good chance I could win as I've improved a lot in the last year, but I didn't like to count my chickens. There was a slight element of performance anxiety as a lot of my family were there to watch and some cousins were running themselves. I really didn't want to disappoint them!

My warm up was quite long as I feel I've missed out on a lot of longer runs lately due to racing at the weekend. Three miles warm up got me to the start line.
I lined up in the second row behind a row of fit looking guys and had a chat with some old schoolmates while we waited. We set off on time and I must admit the first mile felt very comfortable. This was the fastest part of the course though so my mile split of 6.39 for this mile is to be expected.
Mile two we turned off the gravelly backroad we were on onto a tarmac road and into a head wind. I had forgotten this bit was quite hilly and got a bit worried that I was expending too much energy and wouldn't have anything for the last mile which was all uphill. Oh dear! Anyway I obviously let this get in my head as the next mile was 7:04. So I was obviously slowing but it didn't feel that way as I kept passing people.

The last mile was a painfest as expected. I didn't manage to lift my head to acknowledge family members toward the end.  A glance at my watch with 500 meters to go told me David Rudisha would be hard pushed to covert the last part on time to get in under my pb.
Spoiler alert: I am not David Rudisha (although my son's school principal does talk about him a lot)

I tried to pick it up a bit and sprint for the finish line but don't know how much I sped up. My third mile split was 6:57 and my final time 21:17. I was initially disappointed with the time as I really really wanted something with a 20 at the start of it but that's life. I may have to choose the course wisely for another attempt at this.
It was lovely to win something though and my family were so proud. Great to get the family name on the perpetual shield!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Loughrea Easter 5k Run - 6/04/2015

So where was I? It's taking me forever to get back up to the present with these long gaps between posts. Must do better!

Easter weekend started well with a timed charity mile on the Saturday morning on the track. Good fun but didn't break any land speed records. We jumped in the car straight after and headed West to spend the weekend with my parents to eat too much chocolate and drink too much wine.

Of course I brought my runners so I got in a twelve miler on Easter Sunday a little later than planned due to a raging hangover. This was pure misery but I deserved every bit of the pain. Monday dawned dry, bright and without any plans and I saw there was a 5k being held in Loughrea. The parents were willing to come along and get some lunch after so we decided to head off together and then me and the kiddos could hit the road once the race and lunch were done. Sorted!

We arrived at the location quite early and found the hall for registration and then went out for a warm-up. I had noted on the facebook page that the previously lakeside route had been changed last minute. A brief jog down to the lake explained soon as I got near the water I was engulfed in a cloud of tiny flies (maybe Mayfly?) They were in my eyes, up my nose, everywhere and that was only after a few seconds! I decided a warm-up away from the lake was a better option.

I lined up at the startline a few minutes before the start and got chatting to a few people there. As I was hoping to get close to a specific time I asked one of the club runners there who I should stick with for that time. They pointed out a girl a few rows ahead and I introduced myself and asked if she would mind if I tried to keep her in sight and she was fine with it. Then we were off! Aaaaand she shot out of the start like a bullet. I tried to stay on her shoulder but looking at my watch it was showing a 6:00 pace and I knew I wasn't close to being able for that. I let her go and concentrated on just being able to still see her at the end!

The first mile was grand. My legs were feeling good, the route brought us through the town twice at first so there was good support and I saw my family which was nice. Mile two brought us out of the town a bit and my legs sort of died a bit here. I could feel every mile of the previous few days running in them and hoped I could hold on without walking. "Don't walk! Your family can see!" went through my head a few times. I concentrated on watching the legs of the girl in front of me and keeping them in my field of vision. And also on passing the guy in full firefighting gear. This should have been a good moment but it was ruined by my stupid brain that kept telling me how slow I was if I was only passing him after 2+ miles of a 5k! Well done Mr firefighter!!

Mile 3 was predictably ick but I was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel (not an actual tunnel as it was a gorgeous sunshiny day but you know what I mean) Also I noticed I could still see club runner girl so I couldn't have slowed down as much as I thought. Or else she had drastically. I'm going to pretend it was the former as it makes both of us look better.

The finishing straight was loooooooong. It's essentially one long straight for the last kilometer and I thought I'd never get to the end. The legs were a bit wobbly at this stage and I was really feeling the unexpected heat. The original club runner girl was out of reach but there was another girl in a local singlet between me and her so I gave it socks and went to overtake which point she slowed right down and sort of drifted into my path so then I had to go around her to avoid running into her and then over the line. I really hope I didn't look like a total spanner overtaking here just before the line but I genuinely thought she was about to pick it up for the finish. Oh well! Anyway I was over the line for a new PB of 21:15. Yay! I thanked the ladies in front of me for dragging me around and went off to collect my all important free participant Easter egg. Priorities!

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Kildare Senior Road Championships - Leixlip 29/03/2015

There was barely time to recover from the Intermediate and Masters in Naas (and the night out after) before it was time to start looking forward to the big one........Seniors in Leixlip.
The good thing about this was we would have a strong team with some of our stronger runners eligible for this. The bad thing......the competition would be tough for a senior county medal!

The weather was back to cold and blustery so I was glad to get a good two mile warm-up in before the race with our clubs fastest female........way too fast for me to be warming up with really but it was great to run with her and pick up some tips on how long to warm up for, how long strides should be etc.

There were some seriously fit looking ladies lining up at the start but I tried not to get too intimidated. At least I was getting used to this starting line business. Whereas I had previously stayed towards the back of the pack on the start line one of my teammates, the lovely O insisted on pushing me up further towards the front.

And we were off! The start was predictably horrible and straight into a headwind. So far so miserable. The two strongest girls on the team were already stretching off into the distance which was fine and totally expected. I just needed to make sure there weren't too many people between me and them.

As we turned the corner to climb up a steep hill I was feeling strong. Two younger girls were near me, one I recognised from the local Parkrun as a circa 20 minute 5k runner. I used the hill to my advantage and overtook both, hoping I wasn't going to regret this on the downhills and flats.

The next section to the roundabout and then back to the same hill again in reverse was a bit of a mindf*%k but I held my position here and wasn't passed. I can't really remember if I passed anyone here as it's a bit of a blur. Whatever about the negative points of this section it was nothing compared to getting back to the main road again in the direction of the start and being directed the opposite direction and then into a sideroad to run around a tiny roundabout.......this was the point at which I really wanted to stop with every cell in my body. I deperately wanted to find somewhere to lie down and the fact that the tightness of the bend made me come to an almost complete stop didn't help. I tried to pull myself together and get my legs moving but they felt so heavy and my vision was starting to blur.

Coming back onto the main road we were directed across the road and up onto the curb onto the wide footpath......I stared at this curb as it approached and thought "I really really hope my legs know how to get onto this footpath thingy" I was definitely feeling a bit loopy. This is the point I think that I was passed by a tall blond girl who annoyingly didn't even seem to be working that hard. Oh no!!!! There was no way in hell I was going to catch up to her, I really didn't feel I had anything left and just wanted to get to the finish.

It was at this point I became aware of lads from the club standing along the edge of the course shouting encouragement. It's a good job they were shouting as I couldn't really see anyone, it was definitely the voices I could pick out. I'm not sure what happened but I got this shot of energy knowing I was in the last few hundred meters and knowing I had someone to catch. It also crossed my mind that there were people out there that really believed in me and if I could do more then I should. My tired heavy legs were suddenly turning over like never before and before I knew it I was passing the girl who passed me and praying she didn't have anything else. This was it for me so if she had something more I didn't have an answer (I think....although I didn't know I had this either so there is that!) I don't remember much for the next ten minutes. Presumably other people finished too.....maybe I talked to them but I don't really know. I know I tried to put my jacket on for most of that time but couldn't figure out how the arms worked so couldn't. Runners. We are totally sane.

Soooo.... by the time I found my mind again and made my way over to get some coffee the results were in and we were Senior County gold medalists!!!

Kildare Intermediate and Masters Road Championship 22/03/2015

So one minute it feels like I haven't raced in ages and then all of a sudden the events are coming thick and fast!

I was feeling quite confident going into this race after my new 10k pb.  Not "I'm going to win!" confident, more like "I'm not going to make a fool of myself" confident.

This race is a bit confusing as its just one race but you can be entered for both intermediate and masters categories if you are eligible. As I've won nothing in the roads at county level and am old I qualify for everything. Yay! I think.....??

Arriving in Naas to clear skies and sunshine didn't hurt either. We did a nice leisurely warm up where we spotted a bouncy castle in a nearby garden.....I fantasized about heading off for a bit of a bounce instead of going through this torture. Maybe a G&T too in the sun. 
And yes I know I said I felt confident but I also didn't have amnesia and still remembered how much my last race had hurt. (Yes I'm a moany old wagon sometimes)

It wasn't long before it was time to toe the line. Before I knew it we were off and the usual stampede for the front happened. I hate this bit and really dislike a crowded field so found myself a bit of room before long. I don't remember much about the first kilometre of this race except that I didn't want to go out too slow so I tried to push the pace a bit to get past the main group. There were a few speedy ones out front but I ignored them and concentrated on passing the next three in front of me over the next couple of k and on not getting passed. For whatever reason I felt pretty good and never had the urge to quit or walk. I knew I was going fast for me as I was coming down a hill at one point and was really conscious of every little twig or stone on the road. I felt like my legs were moving too fast for me to be able to compensate if I hit anything at all and I'd end up on my face. I actually had a really vivid image in my head of me landing face first and skidding to a halt with road rash everywhere. The things that go through my head are weird sometimes!

Anyway again I was kind of in no man's land by the end of this race with nobody close enough to chase down and nobody chasing me. As I came towards the lovely downhill finishing straight i had no idea how I had done. I was fifth over the finish line but how many of those were intermediates and how many masters? I wasn't long over the line before I was joined by a teammate, followed by another and yet another. It looked like we might get a team medal anyway!

As it turned out we won masters gold and intermediate silver so that was nice. I also won gold in my age category and bronze at intermediate level so I'll take that! Not bad for a 3k race!

I gave my Garmin to a friend so don't have access to my splits but my total time was 11:56, about 30 seconds faster than my time for the same distance at novices. Happy with that but must admit I think conditions were a lot more favourable on this day than the last.

Probably the best part of this race for me was finally feeling like I was a useful part of the team. Yes we had people out with illness and injuries but despite that were able to field a medal winning team and I was part of that. Also me and the SO had sort of recruited one of the team who ran well (from the pub....shhhhhh) and she really enjoyed herself so that was great too. I love it when a plan comes together :)

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Tubbercurry 10K - St Patricks Day 2015

After getting back into the mindset of racing I knew I had a couple of things I wanted to do before spring was out, namely a 5k and a 10k. I wasn't too pushed about the location but as March was busy with club races at the weekends then it would be difficult to find other races that wouldn't interfere. Luckily this year St Patricks Day fell on a Tuesday and I knew somewhere had to be holding a race. As I was in the West visiting my parents anyway the Tubbercurry 10k seemed to fit the bill.

I've never been to Tubbercurry on purpose so had no idea about this race, its history or the terrain. From what I've learned it's a long established event with some good local rivalry going on and the athletics clubs singlets were out in great numbers. It was a perfect morning for a race - dry, a light breeze and a slight chill in the air still. I got parking right by the start line and made my way to race HQ where I was delighted to receive a well stocked goody bag for my few euro and I could see there was a spread of sandwiches, tea/coffee and homemade cakes being laid out. A good spread usually means a well organised race in my (limited!) experience.

At this point I realised I'd forgotten my Garmin but decided not to get too worked up about it and just go by effort and see what happened. I hadn't run a 10k since 2014 sometime so I had no idea where I was in comparison.

I did a nice leisurely 1-2 mile warm-up and noted that it wasn't the flattest town in the world but didn't think any more of it. Hmmmm.....

Once I finished the warm-up who did I see but my mother and daughter walking towards me. I couldn't believe it! They hadn't told me they were going to come along so it was lovely to see them there. After a brief chat I went to the start and had a chat to some of the other runners there. All very friendly and hills were mentioned but I think I was in denial at this point!

The startline was on the main street heading towards the town square. On my left was the short loop I had done for the warm up - we were at a slightly higher elevation to this so the loop was downhill for the first half a kilometer or so and then back uphill to the start and into the town square.  The rest of the race was on a larger loop out of the town so the total effect was of a slightly asymmetric figure eight.

The start itself was a little crowded as we were motioned through a starting gate that was only half the width of the road which resulting in starting the race at a shuffle which is unusual for a 10k! Anyway we were off and proceeded to do that first small loop I was familiar with and run up through the town square. As soon as we got onto the road out of the square the incline hit and kept on hitting for the next 3 miles. I only wish I was wearing my watch for the Garmin stats on the elevation as I've never run anything like it during a race.

So in short I was thinking about quitting at 2 miles in and I wanted to stop for the vast majority of the race. It didn't help that hardly anyone knew I was running it which made it a bit easier to think about stopping. There was a young bloke beside me - probably late teens early twenties for most of the race, wearing the vest of a local athletics club and about 20kg lighter than me but I was slightly encouraged by the fact that he seemed to be suffering every bit as much as I was. On each hill I would pull ahead of him slightly and on the flats he would pull ahead. I should remember more about this race but in fairness it was quite a while ago and my mind has blocked out a lot of the horror at this stage.

The summary is..........every step was awful, I wanted to quit from mile 2. I dragged my sorry ass to mile 5.5 and then the last 0.7 of a mile I thoroughly enjoyed as I could finally breath and I could see the finish line. At this point I had no idea at all of my time. My previous PB was 46:xx and I hoped I was under that but I hadn't a clue really........its not like I had breath to waste asking anyone what pace we were going at!

I didn't spot the clock until the last ten metres before I crossed the line and nearly fell over when I saw a 43 on it. Over the line in 43:56 a chip time of 43:43 and a PB by almost three minutes! To say I was delighted would be an understatement. My family were waiting for me and seemed delighted.......or maybe that was the two scones they had had while they were waiting. Two!

The next mission was to get a snack into me and get back to the car to text the SO with my result. Almost as satisfying as the result itself.

Back home for the traditional St. Patricks Day lunch of salad and burgers on the BBQ followed by a glass or two of red. Sure why not!

Friday, 1 May 2015

Kildare Novice Road Race 22/02/2015

I was sooooo nervous about this race! I hadn't really raced in a while so had gotten a bit gun shy..when I'm racing regularly the fear goes off it a bit for me, whereas if there is a bit of a gap I'm a mess.

Anyway we didn't have enough for a team for this race due to various injuries, events and other team members not being eligible (you're not eligible for novice county if you have won anything at that level or higher in the previous three years.....I think that's how it works anyway!)

So the day dawned wet, windy and cold cold cold. What a lovely combo! There was one more girl running with me Laura V so I was really glad of the company and we mutually made the decision to trade a long warm up for staying dry inside instead. I think if we had a team then we would have thought differently but really this race was all about seeing where our training was coming out of the winter so I wasn't too pushed either way!

We were lucky to have a strong mens team from the club so they were good company while we waited to start. There is something really special about being part of a club and having that support around you at an event.

The start line for this 3k race was quite a trek away from the hall we had gathered in so we actually got a lift lazy is that!! Anyway we jumped out of the car and proceeded to run up and down the road a bit. It didn't get any warmer. The good thing about this was that as we gathered at the start line I got more and more anxious for the race to start as I just wanted to get moving at this stage.....any icy shower straight into your face is not that much fun in shorts and a singlet.
Unfortunately one of the girls in front of me talking about her 5:15 1500m time at the national indoors wasn't exactly filling me with confidence!

Finally, after a wait for some latecomers we were off! I felt like I started out well but I seemed to be behind loads of people. Maybe I was going to be last? Oh no!
The first couple of kilometers were into a strong headwind with a couple of sharp rises to go over. I like hills (it's a love/hate thing) so was able to pass a few here. I concentrated on not letting anyone pass me on the straights and reeling in the girls in front of me one at a time. By this point I knew there was no way I was catching the front pack so this was a bit demoralising but I focused on not looking at my watch in case I found out there was more than 1k to go....this would have been the end of my race!

The finish was slightly downhill just past a corner. I'm pretty sure I was drooling at the mouth and and I knew if the finish was much past that corner I was goosed but pushed hard up to it and then luckily it was right there. I don't know if I would have had anything more as there wasn't anyone close enough for me to pass and nobody behind chasing me so didn't really have that adrenaline buzz of a close finish.

Result: 5th overall so I was happy with that on the day. I was a bit annoyed with myself that I didn't warm up beforehand but at best I could have been 4th...........the lead three were in a bunch all together most of the way and were cruising, only doing as much as they had to.
I was happy with my effort and had temporarily gotten over the fear of racing. Oh and someone finally got a running photo of me where I look like I'm running so totally worth the pain!
Also we got to see the mens teams race after that which was lovely, especially in multiple dry layers knowing we were already done. Bliss! And they won gold.......yay!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Busy busy busy

So I did a disappearing act again! I am alive just very very busy for someone who works part time. In fact I think I did way less when I was working the 50-60hr job from hell. Not complaining though as its all good stuff and I'm choosing to do it!

Time for some overdue race recaps I think!