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 :)