Saturday, November 29, 2008

Rolling along

I'm on a bit of a roll at the moment but perhaps I shouldn't mention it just in case the wheels fall off :) . Yesterday's run made it three days in a row and the fourth day for the week. Not bad considering I've been averaging one to two runs per week for November.

My legs felt fine after Wednesdays 'fartlek' which was encouraging so on Thursday night 6 - 7 miles 'steady' was on the menu. It was an out & back run with a big uphill finish. My pace to the turn around point averaged 7:02 which was a bit quicker than I'd planned but the large uphill finish and a bit more sensible pacing combined to give a second half at approx 7:19 and an overall 6.6 miles (47:27) at an average of 7:11 (167bpm).

I stumbled off a kerb after about 2 miles on Thursday night - the dangers of nighttime running!! It didn't affect my run but my left lower leg was a bit sore yesterday. Luckily it doesn't seem too serious.

Friday was a 6-7 mile progression run at lunch time. The first 3 miles were at 7:15 pace but the splits for the last miles were 7:03, 6:53 and 6:47 respectively giving an overall 6.5 miles (46:31) at 7:09 min/mile (165bpm). No ill effects from the previous nights stumble.

My legs are a bit tired today and my head is a bit sore from multiple pints of Guinness last night so I'll probably rest today before a long run tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Structured fartlek??

My idea of fartlek training, rightly or wrongly, has always been a 'free' form of running whereby the speed is increased or decreased at will without any real preconceived structure i.e. if you feel like sprinting for 100m or 1000m each are equally valid. However today's run was scheduled as "7miles fartlek with 12x1min bursts". This seemed to introduce a structure strange but hey, I'll try anything once!!

So off I went at lunchtime for my session. The definition of a 'burst' is a bit vague and I interpreted it as generally sub-6min/min but preferably sub-5:45. This seemed to make sense afterall each 'burst' was only to last 1 minute! I also decided that if I was to predefine the length of each 'burst' I should also predefine the 'recovery' which I set as 2 minutes at 7:30 to 8min pace.

The route, shown above, brought me down to the Regional Park and around the playing pitches. A generally flattish grass circuit. I must admit though that planning 12No. intervals was a bit daunting (I usually only count in single digits!!) so I had a Plan B that I would do two sets of 6 with a 4min recovery between sets. There was also a Plan C if the first few 'bursts' didn't go well which consisted of three sets of 4 with a 6min recovery.

The session went reasonably well even if my 'burst' pace was a bit erratic but I stuck to Plan A. In all I covered 6.87miles in 49:37 (avg 7:14min/mile; 170bpm) including 12x1min 'bursts' with 2 min recovery as follows (min/mile ; bpm)

5:50 (168) ; 5:45 (172) ; 5:40 (175) ; 5:45 (177) ; 5:46 (174) ; 5:37 (178)
5:50 (177) ; 5:41 (182) ; 5:31 (183) ; 5:34 (181) ; 5:44 (182) ; 5:46 (181)

'Bursts' 1 to 9 were fine and felt relatively comfortable but I certainly felt like skipping the last 3 (probably influenced by bursts 9 & 10 @ 5:3X pace!!) and my recovery pace dropped accordingly to over 8min/mile. It had been averaging 7:30.

All-in-all a nice & enjoyable session but let's see how the legs are tomorrow!! Maybe putting some structure to fartlek running isn't such a bad thing after all..

Monday, November 24, 2008

Let's start again

Emotion over it's back to running this week....
But just to prove that it's not just me that felt the emotion of the Munster game last Tuesday - read here for a New Zealander's perspective, enough said...

Well, last week was successful - NOT... (from a running point of view anyway). Last Monday's 6-mile easy run was to be the start of my preparation for the 10-mile race series after Christmas. Unfortunately (and mostly happily) real life got in the way!! Instead of the run being a start to the week it ended up being an end to the week's running. In a previous comment Thomas had warned me about this by suggesting that I was embarking on an 'ambitious' schedule considering the new arrival to the family. I should have heeded his warning a bit more seriously especially given that he too has twins and has already gone through a similar situation!!

So my summary for last week is as follows:-

Week Total (17/11/08 - 23/11/08) - 1 session
5.68miles - 40:13 - 7:05min/mile - 157bpm

Take-2 this week!! Today I went out for an easy 6 miles at lunchtime.... (sounds familiar ehh!!)

The route was much the same as last week with a bit extra at the end just so that I can legitimately call it a 6 miler! However the pace was much slower run and I ran with a colleague Tony who made sure to keep me sensible on the pace front - my legs were itching to go faster!! We kept the pace slow though with the first 4 miles at over 8:30 and only just dipping under 8's for the last 2 miles. A very easy run like this was probably no harm given that my running hasn't been as regular as I'd like it to be. (In the past erratic training has lead to injuries!!) So, in the end, for today, it was 6.13miles in 51:05. That's an average of 8:20min/mile at 139bpm (I think that's my first run longer than 100m where my heartrate has averaged below 140!!).

Here's hoping that tomorrow will go to plan.....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Battle lost - War won

Well Munster didn't quite win the match against New Zealand yesterday but we nearly nearly nearly did... It was SO close - if only the match ended after 75minutes instead of 80!!
It was 30 years since Munster last played and beat the All Blacks in the old Thomond Park but yesterday was special in the redeveloped Thomond Park. Although the record books will forever show that Munster lost the game 16-18 the true tale of the night was so much more.

Munster were missing 9 or 10 of our first team players. Of the forward 8 the vast majority were either returning from injury or were making one of their first starts for the team - just up from the academy!! The All Blacks albeit not fielding their first team on paper had the experience and skill to win by more than 30 points. Bookies were giving a 26+ point handicap on Munster to win. In fact after the game one of the leading bookmakers returned all bets to those who bet on Munster to win!!
It has to be remembered that even though Munster are the current European Club Champions we are a CLUB and not a national side. The All Blacks are a NATIONAL side and are the worlds best rugby team. But Munster and the All Blacks are very similar in that players for both teams respect their jersey and the tradition associated with playing for their team. They say that once an All Black always an All Black. The same is true for the Munster players. We say Irish by Birth Munster by the Grace of God. Munster didn't fear the reputation of the worlds best team and I believe that after last nights game the All Blacks will have even more respect for the Munster reputation.
I don't intend on giving a detailed analysis of the game. There are many more expert writers who can do the game much more justice. The players last night literally put their bodies on the line. Nearly every tackle resulted in at least one Munster player requiring medical attention. At one stage 5 of the 15 players were laid out on the ground!! The All Blacks were awesome but Munster never gave up. The current players certainly did justice to the memory of the immortal team of '78.
In so many ways Munster Rugby and Irish Sport won. I believe that all those who witnessed the occasion (as it was much more than just a game) would say 'sport' was the true victor. So what was so special, was it
  • The tradition and the quiet 'hope' that the victory of 1978 could be repeated;
  • The Munster Supporters Club Choir and Cara O'Sullivan leading the songs such as Stand Up and Fight, Fields of Athenry, There is an Isle.. etc etc;
  • The minutes silence for the tragic and needless death of a local rugby player Shane Geoghan;
  • The 26,500 attendance playing the vital role of the 16th man;
  • The Air Corps helicopter delivering the match ball;
  • The Munster Haka challenge to the New Zealand Haka;
  • The New Stadium - which I have to say I think is the most impressive rugby stadium I've been in (and I've been in a few in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France and Australia!!);
  • The utter silence and respect for the place kicking;
  • etc etc.

Or was it simply the nail biting and heart stopping game. I believe that it was the cumulative sum of all the above. I have to say it was probably the greatest sporting occasion that I've ever attended. Prior to this I would have said that the 70,000+ Munster supporters making the epic journey to the 2006 Heineken Cup Final in Cardiff would rank highest in my sporting Hall of Fame. But last nights occasion surpassed that game by a country mile. In 30 years time when last nights game against the All Blacks is spoken of in the same reverent terms as the game of 1978 I will have my ticket and match programme to proudly prove that I WAS THERE.

BTW as this is my running diary I have to report - no running yesterday or today!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Back to it again

We finally made the press!! This was our team (Grellan, Tony and me) at the recent HSE 4-mile road race. John Walshe took our photo before the race (as you can tell from the relaxed faces!!) and jokingly said 'you'll see yourself in the Evening Echo'. We didn't believe him but look what turned up in last Thursday's edition.... Thanks John.

After my short break I managed a massive 2 sessions last week. I was a bit surprised waking up on Saturday. My quads were sore / stiff and there was a slight tenderness in my left calf. On the plus from my joints were fine!! I had only run 6 miles on Friday, could an 11-day break really make such a difference? Obviously yes!

I went out on Saturday for a 6.59mile (47:41) run at much the same pace as Friday. The route was a little bit flatter so my average pace ended up being a bit quicker (7:14 vs 7:19). Allthough the hegs felt heavy all in all I felt good. Interestingly, some of my fitness must have returned overnight! Even though I averaged 5 sec per mile quicker my average heart rate was 161bpm compared with 163bpm on Friday!!

Family commitments meant that Sunday became an unplanned day of rest!!

Week Total (10/11/08 - 16/11/08) - 2 session
12.83miles - 1:33:20 - 7:16min/mile - 162bpm

Today I went back to work so my lunch time run returned!! An easy/steady 5.68miles (40:13) that's an average 7:05min/mile without really trying. I must remind myself to take some more rest days 'cause my average heart rate took another dip today to 157bpm. That's a 14 sec per mile and a 5 bpm drop in 4 days. At this rate I'll be 140bpm and 5-min/mile in no time!! :)

Tomorrow will be another 'off schedule' rest day as my other sporting love (Munster Rugby) will take precedence. I'm off to see Munster take on the All Blacks in the new Thomond Park. It's 30 years since Munster beat the mighty New Zealand (12-0) side on a day that has since gone down in Irish (if not World) rugby folklore.. It seems that everyone in Munster was at THE game on Tuesday 31 October 1978 (even though the capacity was only approx 13,000!!). Tomorrow's the chance for 25,000 fans to be there and see Munster do it again and truthfully claim 'I WAS THERE...'!! C'MON MUNSTER

Here's dreaming....

Friday, November 14, 2008

New Routine

I'd forgotten how much having a new baby in the house can disrupt your routine!! With little sleep the last week has swung from nappy to bottle and back again but I wouldn't change it for the world....

Hence there hasn't been much time for running or even blogging for that matter. Joe's due another feed soon so I'll keep this post short(ish).

Last week I managed only a single run and that was before Joe was born! It was to be a recovery run after the 4 mile race (6.45miles 51:39 / 8:01min/mile 146bpm). Little did I know at the time that my next run was to be today - 11 days later!! At least I was well recovered for today's easy run.

Even though I wasn't running my joints (knees and ankles) gave me a bit of trouble. Nothing serious and maybe if my legs were sore from running I wouldn't even have noticed the joint pains.

Having eaten nothing but crap over the past week and been fairly sleep deprived (max 6 hours per night) I wasn't too hopeful about today's run but I managed (in between baby feeds) 6.24miles in 45:38 / 7:19min/mile 162bpm. That's OK. I felt good but my generally low energy levels certainly made themselves known from 5miles onwards. Legs felt heavy and no drive from my arms.

Hopefully I'll get out again tomorrow and Sunday so maybe this week won't be a total loss. Next week I'll be back at work so my regular lunchtime running routine should return to normal..

Week Total (03/11/08 - 09/11/08) - 1 session
6.45miles - 51:39 - 8:01min/mile - 146bpm

I was also thinking some more about my future race targets. The Munster Ten-Mile Spring Classic Series starts in Mallow in early January 09.. The other races are in Dungarvan, Ballycotton and Kilnaboy with the last race in April. I had planned to run this series this year but injury meant that I missed the first 2 races. Hopefully I'll make all 4 next year!!

With all the marathon runners talking about training schedules Lydiard, Pfitz, Braintraining etc etc... it got me thinking that I too should try one of the off-the-shelf schedules. To date I've adopted more of the DIY type training philosophy. It seems to have worked to date but maybe I'm missing something?? I stumbled across the Runners World 10-mile schedule. It's an eight week programme so I think I'll try that for Mallow 10 which just so happens to be 8 weeks away. Has anyone used this schedule before? If so any comments...

I'm planning on using a modified version (there I go changing things again) of the suggested 'sub-60' schedule. Even though I don't plan on running a sub-60 10 mile the alternative schedule is for the 60-70min runner and I didn't think that it offered anything new over what I've been doing to date. We'll see how this plan works out......

Joe's awake now and asking for food so I'm off back to my day (and night) job!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

End of the long wait

Today the long wait ended with the arrival of the latest addition to the Bricey clan -

Baby Joseph Francis Brice entered the world at 9:28am weighing 6lb 13oz.

I wonder if he'll be a runner??

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Changing plans & Racing

The danger with posting on a blog is that you tend to put down in writing your plans but sometimes plans change!!

Earlier this week I planned that I'd go for an easy run on Wednesday and do my first hills session since 1994 on Thursday. Well that plan changed!! No run on Wednesday and no hills on Thursday (sure after 14 years another few days won't matter!!).

So what happened? Well, on Wednesday work was the excuse and on Thursday I decided to do the hills on Friday and on Friday the plan changed again. I decided to run the local 4-mile BHAA road race today so Friday's session was changed to an easy 5.63miles (48:02) [@ 8:32min/mile, avg 142bpm] at lunchtime with Grellan and Tony. My right calf and left knee were a bit sore during the run on Friday so in hindsight abandoning the hill session was probably a good idea.
No run either on Saturday (unplanned rest as I had meant to do 5 miles easy). But at least this meant that I was fully rested for today's race!!
Waking up this morning I wasn't in the mood to run fast and when I mentioned this to Pamela at breakfast she said 'just jog it so'. There were two problems with this suggestion, firstly I can run slowly anytime without paying an entry fee (even though if it's only €5) and secondly jog in a race - NEVER!!
The race was due to start at 11am so I got there at around 10am, plenty of time to register and warmup. My 3-mile warmup went well and despite noticing a tightness in my right achilles tendon (which was sorted with lots of deep heat) I felt like I might actually run well today. I felt fresh!!

One of the main reasons for me running this race, as well as making up the third member of a team (Grellan, Tony & me), was to benchmark myself against last year. I had run this race last year and finished in 24:31 so that was my goal.

Conditions today were perfect - light breeze, cool and a flat fast course.
Finally, the race started a few minutes late and following a minutes silence for a local supporter of the Cork Business Houses Athletic Association (BHAA) who had recently passed away. Last year there were approximately 280 runners in this race and it was probably the same today. I positioned myself about 10 rows back from the start just to make sure that I wouldn't get caught up in a suicidal opening mile in the full knowledge that the temptation to follow the leaders would have been too much for me!!
So I spotted a local regular racer, Denis Carroll Eagle AC, and I decided to pace myself off him - he's usually a very consistent racer at a similar pace to me and I've only beaten him once (not that he'll know that!!).
24:31 last year so, on the basis that I'm in a bit better shape this year, 6min pace was my target.
Having spent the first mile working my way through the field I passed through Mile 1 in 6:01. Feeling very comfortable and right on target. BTW my Garmin recorded my mile pace as 5:50 and avg heart rate 166bpm. The Garmin seemed to be measuring short.
During the following mile I kept passing runners. Although I was beginning to feel the pace I made a point each time that I reached a runner I actually passed him/her and not just run alongside. This may sound like a race tactic but in actuality it was more to do with the way I was feeling i.e. I wasn't sure how long I could keep the pace going so I needed to put a buffer between me and each runner I passed!!
I reached Mile 2 in 11:59 i.e. a 5:58 split. Not bad, I was on target but I was still only half way!! My Garmin pace was 6:00 and 177bpm. Much closer this time.

Mile 3 was much the same but getting tougher (a good sign I suppose). The field was now a bit more spread out but each time I passed someone there seemed to be another target not too far ahead. The Mile 3 marker was passed at 17:54, a mile split of 5:55. Going well.... My Garmin was a bit optimistic showing 5:44 pace and 182bpm.

So that left only one mile to go. My only thought at this point was very simple...I've passed 3 miles in sub-18 (on target) so I would have to slow by more that 30 seconds over the last mile to match last years time. Yes, the thought of easing up crossed my mind (understandable at 180bpm) but I quickly dispelled such urges - there were still one or two places which could be caught. Mile 4 was tough I resisted the urge to look behind but I couldn't hear any footsteps so I thought what the hell go for it....

Rounding the final 90deg corner into the 200m long finishing straight disaster nearly happened!! A van driver decided to pull in - straight in front of me!! However, slowing slightly, I managed to squeeze through on the inside - probably not the safest move as I'm sure the driver had no idea that I was there but I was only 200m from the end of a race - desperate times need desperate measures!!
My legs were going as fast as they could but there was nothing more left in the tank. Then I saw my fan club (Pamela and the girls) so I had to make one last push. Then I saw the clock. Well at least I saw the first two digits (23:XX). Keep it going and you'll get a PB.. I passed under the clock, Mile 4 - 23:29. WOW, a 5:35 last mile and a PB by over a minute in a 4 mile race!! I must have even surprised Mr. Garmin as he couldn't keep up (!!!) - he said 5:48 pace and 187bpm.

Speaking with John Walshe before the race he mentioned that the use of the Garmin in races is keeping him on his toes (he's responsible for the measurement of most of the courses in the Cork -if not the Munster - area). No worries I said, the error will always be in the Garmin and that's why, in a race, I always use the mile markers for pace and not the auto splits.

Still regardless of what Mr. Garmin said about the splits the finishing time is indisputable - 4mile PB - 23:29min (5:52min/mile, avg 178bpm). I don't know what position I came (probably top 40) nor do I know how our team did. The BHAA usually take a few days to publish the results. Once I hear anything I'll update this post.

Today turned out to be my best race since my return to running ('age graded' it's equivalent to 22:51 i.e. only 11 seconds slower than my 1994 time of 22:40). Using this time, McMillan predicts a sub 1:23 half marathon (edging closer to Mike's prediction of sub 1:20!!) and sub 18 for the 5k. So, I'm managing to run fast for 4 miles all I have to do now is figure out how to keep a fast pace going for more than 13 miles!!
A 2-mile warm down with Grellan gave a total of 9 miles for the day and ended a great morning of running.

Week Total (27/10/08 - 02/11/08) - 4 sessions
25.41miles - 3:13:23 - 7:37min/mile - 151bpm

Update 6-11-08
The BHAA race results were finally published today. The RPS team of Tony, Grellan and me came 1st in the Grade C category!! Well done to Grellan for matching his PB within a fortnight of a marathon - I don't think I would be able to walk within 2 weeks of completing a marathon and certainly I would not be able to run a PB race.
My official time was rounded down to 23:33 allowing for the few seconds it took me to cross the start line (but I'm sticking to my recorded time of 23:29 - my Garmin is never wrong!!). There were 284 finishers and my placing was 33rd. Not quite good enough for the top 10% but not bad either. Thanks to all who left congrats comments.