Saturday, 24 March 2018

There's no F in team

If there's one thing worse than a kicking from your mates it's the fear of letting them down. We've got a nice group going at the moment with seven or eight of us similar enough in abilities to be able to ride out a session together. It's not the easiest thing in the world to keep a group like this on track so when it's working it's worth savouring and milking it for what it's worth.

Last Monday we had an opportunity to run as a team at the 4 mile county championships Interesting race's these championships - The first mile was a cagey affair (for the bigger hitters anyway) which had a group of 16/17 going through the first mile at 5.30/35.

Of late I'v been struggling with me mojo. When the hurt come's on I'v been going for option two (fuc* this) and I'd back off. It was easy, no skin off anyone's nose only my own. The downside - not entirely satisfied going home. On Monday though there was something to lose and if my running buddie's were going to put in an effort well then I didn't have much of an option not to. The fear. We had an outside chance of a team medal and that was enough, there wasn't that many heads warming up around Castlyons and if things went ok we might be able to take advantage of the situation. If we were to lose out it better not be from the want of trying on my part, anyone else fine - c'est la vie, but over four miles there's no excuses especially with an armchair fast first mile to the strains of big audio dynamite. "unoyted we stand- deevoided weh nuffin" they say.

I hadn't ran anything close to that pace since September so coupled with being part of the lead group gave me a right lift, for a few minutes anyway. The crash was inevitable and expected - how much shit you can put up with after is what produces the result. At 1.5 there was a bit of a reshuffle and it was time to play spot the mile marker. Any other day I could take a breather if team duties weren't a thing but the fear wouldn't allow it. With half a mile to go I'd already lost a scrap with Liam Treacy which left only one team prize left on the road (unless I stopped and gathered my thought's I wouldn't have known this at the time). Christ if I get passed - that's all you can think of. Calculations of by who? what age group is he? how many from eagle? are beyond me. Don't get passed that's all.

As luck would have it the three closest behind were in their own tactical battle which meant I just about made it to the line in front of them. An hour later and we'd a team bronze - we'd ran pretty well and taken advantage of the absence of some heads. Soft pot's you say but there's no such thing, a medal's a medal. Hardly a momentous result for Grange Fermoy AC but satisfying all the same.     

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Hell hath no fury like a kicking from your mate's

Visualisation techniques are great ....... When your in the mood. Of late it's become more difficult to convince myself that what I'm trying to visualise is actually going to happen though.

Pre-race day mulling over tea trying to get beyond the reality that ten fast mile's is a bit of an ask based on what has passed for training over the last three months. A regular practitioner of visualisation techniques in the past - the lines between visualisation and imagination were oft times foggy - most times I'd fall short but sometimes I'd get it right.

In the week to ten day's leading into Dungarvan I started to think about where I'd finish time wise and the omen's weren't so great. Grasping at straws I started to look for anything that would ease the hit of ignoring the most basic rule of all - not enough running done. I tried to visualise myself running - effortlessly, fast, anywhere, slow, to music, without music, crossing finish line's, crossing start line’s, up hills, down hills. Thoughts drifted everywhere but where I wanted them to stay. I was the musician, I was on my bike, I even picked somewhere to go on holiday's but I could not stay on the runner.

There's a time and a place for everything and while there's no bad time to be tapping your feet one thing 'grazing in the grass' does not do is inspire fast running. Standing on the start line the mood was good but I'd my mind made up that I wasn't going to handle it and it wasn't going to be the end of the world.

Finding form out of the blue on race day wouldn't be the strangest thing to have ever happened but one thing's for sure the head would be the driving force behind it. My meh levels were too high to try to challenge myself so I gave myself a cop out that if I hit five miles in under 30min I'd be happy enough and that's what happened. I gave myself a pat on the back and decided enough was enough, If I'd a gun to my head I'd probably have carried on happily - if a tad nervous. Afterwards you rue the decision and curse yourself for backing off.

It was an uncomfortable run jog run for the next five. When you cop out once in a race it's too easy to do it again ..... and again. Dungarvan 10 is a good race, well organised, good location and It would have been rude not to make an effort.

In relation to my own running mates I feel like I've been caught napping, they're running well and most took advantage of good running conditions on Sunday to chip a bit off their fastest time's. The vibe's are good and they looked like they were having fun (Everyone in front of you look like they're having fun - that's just the way it is. The reality is different of course but there was no convincing me.) so it's a case of getting down and dirty and stepping back in the bubble to try and raise my game. To quote Yates "hell hath no fury like a kicking from your mates".


Saturday, 20 February 2016

The Pick'n'Mix five miler

Not yet fully in race mode I got a bit distracted with another hobby of mine - psychological profiling, that brought me back to this post from a few years back. The 'sultans of swing' guide to the local running scene and who you can expect to meet at the average five miler.
The Techie - Under the spell of his latest sat nav, he knows he's not going to run well because the garmin says so. He's been getting all the wrong feedback for the last 2 weeks so how can he expect to run well tonight? His new aerolite x-press maxigel shoes which promised so much on the magazine wont be any help this time.
The mullacher - works hard, trains hard, has a dodgy gait but when he lines up he knows he owes it to himself to give it his all, 20 minutes after finishing Mrs. Murphy's new patio, jumping out of the van and legging it into the community hall, he's the last man to register. The run from the van will do as the warm-up for this guy.
The Triathlete - Always looking cool and immaculately turned out, he's here for the training and to work on improving his speed for his 'big' season goal somewhere in the distant future. After dismounting his Felt b12 he'll stand proudly for a few moments to survey the scene before tying it to the railings of the primary school. Techie's and triathlete's can often be mistaken, the compression calf guards and/or shaved legs will give the game away for the triathlete.
The Guru - He's been coming to these races since the early seventies and could probably give you the results and times of the first 10 across the line before the race even starts. At this stage he's probably running 33/34 minutes for five miles well into his sixties, in his heyday he might have beaten a young John Treacy in the national half marathon and was knockin out sub 25's and 6's for five a couple of times a month at his ease.
The young buck/s - Like a greyhound out of the blocks, sub five minute miles from the gun. Still in his teen's, he's either home from his scholarship in the states for his sisters wedding or he's the local's answer to Jerry Kiernan, make no mistake, he's fast and works hard to be where he is. He could be a townie, a prolific winner since he took up running 6 years ago, or he could be helping out on the farm, working 3 days a week at the nearest sports shop. This guy is being looked after under the watchful eye of the guru.
The fun runner - Lives nearby and has been coming out to support the local race since its inception 12 years ago. Rigorous training starts 2 weeks before the event, just enough time to get used to the excrutiating pain brought on by such an abnormal effort. Is the Recipient of the biggest cheer of the evening and part of the team responsible for co-ordinating the after race spread down at the hall. A major player in the scheme of things.
The Tourist - Probably from the US or mainland Europe, came across a flier for the race in the local caff this afternoon while having his lunch, he's been psyched all afternoon since he got the nod from his partner. Running in his training gear 'cos he left his racing gear back home, gives the young bucks a run for their money in the first 3 miles and still manages to finish with a smile on his face in the top 10. He's probably a French/Belgian/spanish/American intervarsities cross country bronze medalist (or something) from a few years back.
The Convert - Coming from a reasonabaly successful background in another sport, decides to give running a go for a while. On the way to each race he's going to come good and find some of the old magic that he possessed in his previous game. On the way home from each race, he's wondering if he'll try one more ....... he'll always try one more.
The Born Again/Newcomer - would have taken part in the odd 5 a side until his late teens, college life put an end to all of that, now 10 years on in the university of life needs something to offset the stresses of everyday living. Back running, finding it tough but the new sensation of serratonin explosion has blown him away and he'll only realise this when he 'comes down' (probably sometime after 2am).
The Moaner - Unaware that running is to be enjoyed, constantly in trouble, achilles one week, knees the next, head cold, chest infection, trained too hard last ni ................. whatever, an endless list of negativity, the only person in the world working long hours, If only he could get it together, he'd be coming home in front of the young bucks.
The Mercenary - probably the highest level you can get to while holding down a day job. Regular winner and never outside the first five, he's there to top up the weekly pay packet and more power to him, he runs a tight ship to juggle the job and the family and keep race fit.
The Gifted - Doesnt train much, parties hard, eats what he likes, drinks what he likes. Never outside the top 10. Loves to go for a run on a thursday or friday night to clear the body and the head for another weekend of it.
Proof if it were needed of the social side of a morning on the run. 

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Cork 10 mile

It was pretty heavy. According to one newspaper 180 trillion litres of water fell on the country over the weekend, enough to fill 800,000 olympic sized swimming pools? Who am I to disagree? Glad to be running though, memories of racing a bike around the centre park road loop in similar conditions would have had my nerves in a heap. Concerns of staying upright on the greasy bends and continuous spray from the wheel in front would have meant putting my life in the hands of the one person in the line who could see where he was going. In the self preservation stakes running comes out way on top.

It's become a bit of a habit after this summer that I use this train of thought to make light of the notion of running in the rain, It's actually grand and reminding myself that I don't have to deal with those old bike racing issues makes it almost enjoyable. The John Buckley, St. Finbarrs 10 mile was just the latest in a growing number of races where we've been drenched by the time the starting gun went off. The rain is just a slight distraction from the job in hand and it seemed to dumb the wind down a bit last Sunday around the 6/7 mile mark on the waterfront.

The race was a pretty awful affair for anyone standing in my shoes. Suffering from a bit of sleep deprivation the overiding thoughts of wanting to lie down at every mile marker were kept in check by the growing levels of rainwater on both sides of the road. This is a great course for a city race and the inclement weather meant we had more room to ourselves on the waterfront and the old railway line on the 2nd half of the course.

Indifference on the start line settled me in to the idea of running a steady 10 as a good training run, if only to offset the notion that I might run an ok race if I was up for it. Thats something I need to sort out, how to actually get in the frame of mind to be 'up for it', it normally takes some extra miles and a confidence boost somewhere along the line. The first mile was the usual mental and physical mosh pit trying to go from a five minute warm up to race pace in 30 seconds and wondering how on earth I was to expect to carry on like this for 9 more. Bringing up the rear of the 60min. pace group at mile two wasn't the best place to be and the reality of a long slow countdown to the line started to hit home. There was nothing fluid about it and while the legs seemed ok the battery was flat. One of the benefits of consistent speed work I guess is that my cruising pace has improved and the speed I can run with a flat battery has now increased.

I'd settled on calling it a slog and by the time we got to mile 7, make or break time for me in a ten miler, between verses of some Taylor Swift song I gave myself a talking to and managed to see mile 8 with the group. Somewhere round here Johnny, who's reaping the benefits of  increased marathon mileage enquired as to my welfare and a one word reply left him in no doubt. He didn't ask again as he kicked for home on the straights of the old railway line with two miles to go. A reminder that racing is as much mental as physical, with two to go I started to run more comfortable than I had for the rest of the race. Knowing it was flat to the finish with a good tailwind, the smell of the finish line was enough to tow me the rest of the way at pretty much the same pace as the previous miles. The rain was horizontal with 400m to go around the Atlantic pond and only added to the occasion for those running. The relief of still seeing 59 on the clock by the time I got there was worth a million quid on a day that I probably shouldn't have.

A category prize (3rd) and a counter on the 2nd place Grange Fermoy AC team for a county team prize was a nice surprise to hear later in the day as Don & myself headed home after the cuppa without realising our good fortune. These are nice roads to race on and the 'Barrs did a good job keeping the show on the road in those conditions, not to be found slacking John Meade led them home as 1st team with three runners in the first four. Next year!  

After a slack summer on the racing front it's nice to come home thinking I might be fitter than I thought but with three weeks to my first attempt at Cross Country that smug notion won't last long.

@keelo51  :-)



Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Dungarvan 10 - 2015

There were no fist pumps or high fives not even a subdued 'yeeeah' at the back of my mind. Relief was the overriding emotion and a big 'thank fuck for that' gave way to a contented silence and stoned grin rather than the usual high speed post race chat. Five years after coming down here thinking I could run under the hour as good as the next man I did.

The start line was a nervous affair. A below par marathon last October left me with a bad taste in my mouth and I wasn't in the form for more of the same today. I didn't give myself the option of going slower than six min. miling. A simple plan, stick with the 60min. pacer leave him with two or three miles to go if the opportunity arises (Ha!). This is fast by my standards but to put things in perspective there were guy's on the start line who were capable of running over a minute faster per mile which would leave them with enough time to boil the kettle and have a cup of tea by the time I'd see the finish line.

Blocking out the doubts became a full time job during the warm up and for most of the race I had a real problem with the fast approaching 7/8 mile mark where I blew my lights last year to come home in 60.43. I had always envisaged that if I were to run sub 60 that I'd do it comfortably on a day that I wouldn't feel the road. The truth was the exact opposite. A congested and edgy first few miles left no room for comfort and by the time we hit mile four it seemed to have taken its toll. Elbows and knees fought for the smooth line, a few close heel clips didn't help the flow and with heavy legs approaching mile 5 it took a big effort to hang into a dwindling group which left me thinking I could be the next one out the back door. Too close to Groundhog day for comfort, how was I going to deal with that shit for the next thirty minutes?

Through mile five in 29.40 meant nothing apart from the fact that I'ts a time I'd be happy with on a summers evening down in Ballycotton. Conventional wisdom would have said the next few miles should pass a bit easier with the help of a tailwind and thankfully the nerves did settle a bit and I finally got somewhere close to cruising, if only for a mile or two.

Miles seven and eight were sick. Mentally as much as physically, Once I pass 10k at this pace I feel like I'm in uncharted territory and again I find myself fighting the demons. 'Whats the point in running a fast mile around the track on a Wednesday night if you can't run a solid 10 when it matters?', cursing myself approaching mile nine I momentarily lose contact with the pacer, 'Never again, 10k's max from now on, fuck this'...... 'shit I better keep going!'......'Not for this all those murderous wednesday nights at the track'..........'Not for this the..........'.

Turns out his pace was a bit erratic. I didn't have a watch on so I didn't realise it at the time. I didn't wear a watch 'cos my race plan didn't require that kind of technology. With a mile to go the pacer started dropping back which was proof he'd brought us out fast. (Understandable I suppose as he's one of the faster men in the south and was drafted in late to do the job after the race organisers were left short) This was good, it meant there was time to spare and meant that as much as I'd try to I didn't have to do the last mile in under six minutes .

Mile nine - on schedule, in bits. The head keeps rolling, you find a little something to give to the legs and the smell of the finish line get's stronger but your still not there. 'Whats the clock going to say when I come round the last bend?'

The Holy Grail - finishing The longest hour 59.27 (Pic - Kieran Minihane)

By the time my eyes adjusted to the low winter sun I could see 59.14, it took another thirteen seconds to cross the line. One milestone that a few years ago I didn't think I'd see. If I could just squeeze eleven minutes out of somewhere I could be in with a shout for the podium.


It was a good day for Grange AC
Joan Ennis - 1st o50
My co-driver (perennial hardman) Maurice Tobin - 1st o65
John Murphy - 2nd o45
3 of us in the top 100, all of us finishing.
Full Results

The latest mode of transport Brooks Running - Pure connect 3

So long                

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

5k it ain't

"I guess you shouldn't be sweating by the time you turn off the quays entering mile 4 but hey, this is the Dublin marathon. I'm feeling a bit rough at the mo' but that's ok. I'v never felt good at the start of any of my long training run's and I'v a habit of coming round later in the day. I'll be grand".........says I. 

If a fraction of the advice I'd come across over the last 6 week's had sank in I'd probably ease off a bit at this stage but listening to advice is not my forte and learning from experience seems to be the only thing that works.

With no specific plan on the start line only to run out a bit ahead of the 3hr men and meet them a mile or two down the road once the field had spread out a bit but three consecutive 6.38 miles threw that idea down the drain when I couldn't see them behind me on Chesterfield avenue. I had no particular reason to run out ahead of the three hour man only that I thought I could manage it, instead of trying to convince myself to run under three hours I had decided that this was going to be my hardest training run to date. Turns out I wasn't wrong but I couldn't remember what race I was training for. A bitch of a crosswind made it hard to get shelter after finding myself between groups (this was the one thing I promised myself I wouldn't let happen) so I took my foot off the gas a bit (at 6.40min mile my foots not normally 'on the gas' but as I was to discover in the context of my relationship with 26.2 mile's it was on the gas alright) and waited for three or four lad's coming from behind.

Out the gap at the top of the park and my familiarity with the course came to an end, the short climb on Castleknock road was more of a shock to me than the park and I didn't handle it too well, I was using caution as an excuse to ease off but in hindsight I was already struggling and was glad to hit the long descent back into the park. A nice reprieve before a block headwind came to greet us on Chapelizod road, the first real kick in the arse and a realization that my second marathon could be going sour. Meeting the 3hr group on the hill after Chapelizod was confirmation. I got through the toughest section from 12 to 14 with these guy's and as it said on the tin it was all downhill from here, it certainly was and in more ways than one in my case.

This was where I was supposed to pick it up in the race that I had imagined I was going to run, pick it up and power on home, leave the group I was in and start picking up a few of the lad's up the road, power on to the four mile to go mark and let gravity do the rest but (Knock knock, hello anyone home), this is a marathon. I hadn't given that as much attention as I probably should have in my pre race prophecy. I visualised it as a race. At my level it can't really be a race until you get to the last five or six miles feeling strong. (I'm sure I learnt that before somewhere but the dog ate my homework). It's all coming back to me now "If the first mile feels ok your going too fast", "The second half of the marathon starts at the 20 mile mark", now I'm learning. "Don't get carried away in the first few miles, it's easy to with the crowd" (I was actually told that ON the start line with a minute to go).  Ah yes a 5k it ain't and by mile 16 I was a temporary member of Thomas the tank engine's 3.10 group.

I won't get into the gorey details of the last 10 miles but If I told you to make up a paragraph using the word's walk, jog, water stops, people watching, plodding, water, disorientation, hallucination, elation, water, high, low, anger, indifference, gel, Ray D'Arcy, nasty marketing at the top of Roebuck hill and the waste of a good downhill into the finish you'd probably come up with something close to what I'm trying to get at. Despite sharing the road with fourteen and a half thousand other's it's a lonely old place when the shit hit's the fan. Disappointment doesn't come into it. You just know it's going to be a ball breaker to get to the line and on the practicality side of thing's how else are you going to get back into town to pick up your gear? So not to put too fine a point on it, with four downhill miles to go I, like a lot of my comrades was deep in the proverbial.

There were some big effort's from Grange AC, with Johnny (10th), Joan (2nd) & Clo (3rd) leading the way running out of their skins to get top 10 in their categories in the national Champs. Enthusiatic crowd's, recognisable face's and pig headedness carry you to the line nearer to the finish but that's fair payment as I'm holding them partly responsible for an over eager first few miles too. The masse's that stood on Parliament street turning onto the quays just after the two mile mark didn't have to work as hard as those on Merrion road to keep me going with a mile and a half to go. Like I said pre marathon, it's a long way. I had to do it (again) to convince me though.

- More miles.
- Diminishing pain threshold (getting soft).
- Questionable concentration levels.
- Under raced. Though the need for recovery is important I think I could have done with another race between Charleville half and Dublin. 
- Giving the whole thing too much thought.
- More sleep.

On Monday afternoon I was convinced I'd run my last marathon, by Tuesday evening I'd isolated the finer points of my downfall and by Wednesday I was kicking myself and wondering how to turn back the clock to the start line on Monday morning for a second chance. 

That's why we can't turn our back on it but for now some rest and back to the short stuff.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The Commitments for the Dublin Marathon

No it's not a comeback gig for Neil Jordan's eighties blues band, it's just over two weeks out from my second marathon attempt and the commitment's for the Dublin marathon are all but behind me bar trying to get a few good night's sleep, I'v been laying low trying to train clever and keeping my eye pretty much on the ball. The 26.2 miles is still a trip to the almost unknown but I'v learnt enough from my previous attempt in Cork three years ago to play the cagey game on marathon Monday. That alone wouldn't be enough to drive home the message but I'm lucky enough to share the road's around Fermoy with some very experienced marathoner's and ultra runner's who don't mind passing on the lesson's learned from their own experience's. Any run with these guy's is big benefit country and make's the bigger mileage seem like an everyday thing because as far as they're concerned it is.

More comfortable in the surround's of the shorter stuff I'm still unconvinced about the return you get from the long term commitment to marathon training, maybe Dublin will change that. There are a lot of sacrifices in the form of missed pb opportunities in the shorter race's thro'out the summer, Saturday & Sunday afternoons struggling to keep my normal face on while my leg's beg me to collapse in a heap at the nearest coffee shop. Fatigue seem's to be a constant as you get deeper into the mileage pit.

On the other hand it's normal, a lifestyle thing and maybe it's the fact of focusing on one particular event increase's the intensity a bit. If  it wasn't marathon training I'd still be doing something. Tipping away. The regular training routine is a valuable release valve that's missed when it's not there so it's a big part of the weekly routine. Apart from the long run's which I'v struggled with mentally more than physically the rest of it's been easy. At this stage it's what I do.

Local past-marathon runner described it (marathon training) to a tee, "It's like 12 week's of overtime", while it's not easy to train for a quality five miler it take's far less time and mile's for a much quicker return. Therin may lie the draw of the big one. There's more at stake, getting to the start line in good shape is an achievement in itself with many falling victim to one of a multitude of running injury's. As I write this there's probably 90% of us on the start list for Dublin worried about some niggle in their knee, hip, tendon, IT band or whatever buzz injury of the time. In general though 90% of that 90% have nothing to worry about apart from the suffering over the last six or seven mile's and that's what we pay our money for.

I'v had the Dublin itch for the last few year's so it was just a matter of time before it had to be scratched. Memories of my only other marathon attempt and a clash with the Jazz weekend kept me away from it 'till now. It still clash's with the Jazz weekend but the increase in mileage has decreased my ability to party and Chic aren't on the gig list this year.

Typically for me an unorthodox, unstructured, unplanned training program has been the norm. Most importantly regular routine outing's varying between 40 minute's and three hours have been the order of the day with a religious midweek visit to the track for some intensity work. As part of Grange AC master's I'v been one of the lucky benefactor's of  Clo and Darren's good work in getting Sergiu to the track on a Wednesday night to put us auld lad's thro' our pace's. No rocket science, just hard work at an intensity that I havn't reached for year's (if ever). I'v been treating these Wednesday night session's like a race and if nothing else they've been a great focal point and opportunity to work under one of Ireland's/Moldova's great distance runner's.

So for now it's maintenance & recovery time and time too to remind myself that 'not every pain is important', (That's a Scott Jurek'ism that Maciej threw at me today).  If it hasn't been done by now it's too late. kick back too much and we'll all be stuck to the road on Marathon monday. I went out on the bike last Sunday to nurse my niggle (hmm?, give my back a rest sound's better.) and rode 28 miles on a regular bike route. Now I have the distance in persepective. It's far.