Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas week

Running this week has gone pretty - well despite the festivities!! Just as well 'cause I've been eating enough food & junk to feed an army!! All running has been at a steady / easy pace. I've also discovered the secret to running at close to 8 minute pace - start early in the morning. Yesterday morning I headed out for a 6+ mile run at 6:30am (I was up at 5:30am feeding Joe so I didn't see the point in going back to bed!!). Well the 'tentative' plan was to run at 7:15-7:30 pace but no matter how I tried the fastest split was 7:45!! Last night I also managed to fit in a 1.5mile uphill stagger at 'walk' pace home from the pub... I wonder does that count towards my weekly total?? - maybe not!! :)

I've skipped all the local races concentrating on my mileage - Thomas you'd be proud!!

Also my HRM has been acting up (i.e. not working) this week. I tried all the usual tricks - spitting on the sensors etc so I concluded that I may need to get a new battery but it's a year old...

Wednesday (24/12/08)
5.60miles - 40:29 (7:14min/mile)

Thursday (25/12/08)
0 miles - Family Day

Friday (26/12/08)
11.52miles - 1:24:52 (7:22min/mile, 151bpm)

Saturday (27/12/08)
6.27miles - 49:59 (7:58min/mile) + 1.5mile stagger/walk home from pub

Sunday (28/12/08)
9.85miles - 1:14:54 (7:36min/mile)

Week Total (22/12/08 to 28/12/08) - 6 sessions
50.87miles - 6:22:19 (7:31min/mile)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas on the way

My wife found the comments following the last post 'funny' - she too thinks that I only have one speed but she calls it SLOW!!

I know, I probably run too often at a 'steady' or faster pace. Grellan and Mike both commented on this. In my defence, firstly I blame my coach (Olympic steeplechaser and 47min 10-miler) in school he had the philosophy that a training session isn't a training session unless you're totally wiped out at the end!! It's always good to blame someone else for your own failings!! :)

Secondly, I feel (probably incorrectly) that if you want to race at 6-minute pace or lower running 7-minute pace should feel 'easy'. Hence the majority of my 'easy' runs are in the 7 :00 to 7:30 range as I'm trying to make my body learn to feel easy at this pace. Mind over body and all that!!

Thirdly, I don't run every day so I class my days off as my 'recovery' days. But having said that I do try to introduce some 'recovery' runs but if I'm running alone I get bored with the slow pace and tend give in to the inner demon that wills me to run faster (probably a hang up from my track racing days!!)

However, I don't think that my 'fast' running has affected my consistency - I've plenty other excuses for this!! But it may in the past have contributed to some of my injuries.

On Friday I went out for an 'easy' 5+ mile run at lunchtime (5.20miles 7:36 @ 143bpm).

Saturday and Sunday were wipe outs with a hangover and Christmas shopping respectively taking priority!! That gave the following total for the week:

Week Total (15/12/2008 to 21/12/2008) - 4 runs
23.87 miles - 2:51:26 - 7:11min/mile - 155bpm

Having missed the weekend I went out for my long run yesterday (Monday). This was to be my first run over 10 miles since the end of October and this week I choose a 12.5mile route that I last ran in September. My HRM failed (for some reason - reindeer interference I presume) but I reached the 10-mile mark in just over 73mins (7:18 pace) and felt very comfortable - a good sign. But I did take it easy over the last (uphill) 2.65miles and averaged 7:59 for that bit. Overall 12.65mile in 1:34:10 (avg. 7:27).

Today the legs were a bit tired from yesterday's run (right achilles a bit sore/stiff and both quads tender) but other than that no ill effects. So tonight was another 'easy' 5 miles in 37:51 (average 7:36 pace 143bpm). Just enough to compensate for some of Thursday's turkey!!

Happy Christmas to all and happy running in 2009!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Back on the road

After having had an unplanned week off and not too successful run that morning my post on last Sunday was a bit of a 'downer'. I really didn't believe that the week off could have made me be so much out of shape!! So I reviewed my diary and in truth my running has been a bit erratic since the Great North Run in October. October and November have been very 'infrequent' running months and my monthly mileage has taken a nose dive!! My mileage June to Nov'08 was 89, 122, 164, 143, 95, 59. Spot the trend!! But so far this month I'm at 46 miles and hopefully the mileage will be back up in Dec/Jan.

On Monday I thought I'd recheck my current fitness level and planned a steady 6.5mile run at lunchtime. The run went well enough and I finished the route in 45:21 that's an average 6:59 pace @ 163bpm. I felt good at the end so not too bad overall and a big improvement on Sunday's run. :)

On Tuesday I took it a bit easier with a 5.67mile run in 41:54 i.e. 7:23min pace @ 153bpm.

Today was a bit of a test for me. I decided to repeat Monday's run but at a 'tempo / progressive' pace. Here's how today compares [pace (bpm)] to Monday:-

Monday / Wednesday
Mile 1 7:06 (144) / 7:10 (140)
Mile 2 6:58 (159) / 7:12 (150) (grass/trek & slippy)
Mile 3 7:20 (163) / 7:20 (162) (grass & slippy)
Mile 4 7:06 (165) / 6:57 (158) (uphill)
Mile 5 6:57 (170) / 6:46 (167)
Mile 6 6:47 (172) / 6:21 (173)
Mile 6.5 6:19 (178) / 5:49 (172)

So today's 6.5miler was all good - it lasted 44:39 min i.e 6:52 avg. @ 159 bpm. Although afterwards my body did let me know that I'd pushed the boat out I recovered quickly (a good sign!!).

Point proven I think - Sunday's run can be classed officially as a 'blip' and that's enough fast running for this week. I'll try and put in some easier / longer runs over the remainder.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Revised Plans

One of the main reasons why I started this Running Diary was to make sure that I didn't skip sessions without a good excuse. It seemed to me that if I had to put down in writing that I skipped a session that would be enough motivation for me to get out and run!! But despite this added motivation the past couple of weeks haven't been the most successful from a running point of view. Non-running commitments have had to take precedence..

My last post reported a double session day. Just as well that I got in that second session as I only managed two other 'easy' runs that week i.e.
4th December - 5.68miles (44:26) 7:49min/mile avg 150bpm (first half 8:10 to 8:25 pace, second half 7:10 to 7:30 pace)
6th December - 5.48miles (40:46) 7:26min/mile avg 153bpm

That brought my weekly total to a sensational 22miles - not even a marathon in a week!!

Week Total (1/12/08 - 07/12/08) - 4 sessions
22.45miles - 2:53:00 - 7:42min/mile - 150bpm

But the past week went further downhill with an earth shattering total of one session, and that was today!!

I went out this morning determined not to get a duck-egg for the week. Unfortunately I only had a half hour window so 5 miles (max) was on the menu. I thought about running easy but since I hadn't run all week I felt like having a minor 'blow out' so the first 3 miles went as 6:50, 6:45, 6:58 and the last 2 were 7:30 to 8min pace. But I felt wrecked at the end of the run which was was a bit worrying. I definetly couldn't have run for any longer at sub-7min pace. Could I really have lost so much fitness over the past week? Other factors could have contributed such as having only 4 hours sleep last night or maybe I've picked up the virus that has been passed between the various family members over the past couple of weeks.

Whatever the reason I've come to the realisation that I won't be at peak fitness for the first 10 mile race after Christmas. So I've now decided that for the remainder of 2008 I'll concentrate on running regularly and building up the miles - something that I really need to do if my distance running is to improve. I'll now concentrate on peaking for the Ballycotton 10 in early March.

On a positive front I've now got some goals for 2009. I sent off my entry for the Ballycotton 10 - hopefully I'll be in the first 2,500 entries opened!! I also entered the 2009 Great North Run. This year the race will be held on 20th September and will hopefully be my third year running this 'great' half marathon.

Week Total (8/12/08 - 14/12/08) - 1 session
4.94miles - 35:23 - 7:10min/mile - 166bpm

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Stars in my eyes

Another image of the Venus, Jupiter, Moon occultation just like I saw it!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Star gazing in December

Last week ended on Friday - no running on either Saturday or Sunday for differing reasons. But I did have my first turkey dinner on Sunday courtesy of my sister. Thanks Margaret!! So the weekend wasn't a total write-off. I know, I'll probably be sick of turkey by the end of December but for now I'll enjoy it.

Week Total (24/11/08 - 30/11/08) - 4 sessions
26.10miles - 3:14:42 - 7:28min/mile - 160bpm

My lower left leg has been giving me trouble since my stumble last week but I don't think it's too serious and hopefully time will make it better.

Today I went for a lunchtime run, a bit later than usual so I cut it short. It ended up as 5.2 miles in 39:27 @7:35 min/mile @144bpm. My legs felt sluggish and heavy and I was a bit concerned about my leg so I took the second half slower than the first 7:45 vs 7:25. That's me being sensible!!

I wasn't too happy with missing my Saturday and Sunday runs so when I got the opportunity to get in a few extra miles tonight I jumped at it. I needed to drop in some forms to my kids future school (3 miles away) so that meant a 6miles out-'n-back opportunity.

The temperature has dropped again (<2degc)>10bpm higher than lunchtime. I wonder why? Assuming that my fitness hasn't deteriorated since lunchtime all I can presume is that it was the hilly route vs the flat lunchtime that I ran at lunchtime. Interesting though, a significant difference....

BTW... there was a beautiful sight visible in the skies above Ireland tonight - both Venus and Jupiter were visible as two bright stars alongside a crescent moon. The last time that Venus was visible in this way in Ireland was in the early 1980's and the next time will be in the 2040's. So given the probability that the skies won't be clear of clouds next time tonight's view was a true once in a lifetime opportunity!!

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.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Two of the same

There's not too much to record yet this week. I went for a 5.5mile run yesterday at lunchtime and again tonight at 9pm. The runs were over the same route so I thought it might be interesting to compare the two. The route was an out and back and I planned to run a steady pace on both days.

Monday (27/10/2008)
5.50miles 39:05mins @ 7:06min/mile @ 153bpm

Tuesday (28/10/2008)
5.48miles 39:53mins @ 7:17min/mile @ 152bpm

So tonight I was 11sec per mile slower even though I tried to run at a similar pace. I wonder why? Maybe I was feeling the cumulative effects of the runs on Sunday & Monday. Or maybe the fact that tonight's run was in the dark, which meant I had to be a bit more care underfoot. Also tonights run was after a long day and within 2 hours of eating dinner. Anyway, who knows the reason?

Hopefully tomorrow I'll go for an easy 6mile at lunchtime and I plan on doing my first hill interval session since 1994 on Thursday....

Sunday, October 26, 2008

12 miles ... easy

It's the end of another week. I didn't get to run yesterday (probably just as well the weather was awful!!) but today I went out for my usual 'long' run this am. Today it was a 12mile route and thankfully yesterday's autumn storm had subsided. The sun was out, cool but mostly blue skies, a light sprinkling of rain at times and light westerly breeze - ideal conditions.

This was to be my longest run in 3 weeks so I planned to run relatively easily. Distance rather than speed was the plan. The first mile is a steep downhill so my pace was faster than planned but after that I settled into a 7:30(ish) pace. I felt surprising good at the 8 mile mark so I thought I'd push a 'bit' harder over the final 4 miles. The run went as follows....

Looking at the plot above my pace was very erratic. I wonder was I really changing pace as often as my Garmin suggests (it didn't feel like I was) or is the plot a function of the error in the Garmin?? Averaging the pace over my mile splits looks much more uniform...

Mile 1 - 7:06 - 143bpm

Mile 2 - 7:16 - 151bpm

Mile 3 - 7:19 - 156bpm

Mile 4 - 7:23 - 152bpm (Sundays Well - uphill)

Mile 5 - 7:50 - 157bpm (Sundays Well - uphill)

Mile 6 - 7:25 - 152bpm

Mile 7 - 7:26 - 156bpm

Mile 8 - 7:24 - 158bpm

Mile 9 - 7:13 - 159bpm

Mile 10 - 7:21 - 158bpm (73:44)

Mile 11 - 7:04 - 160bpm

Mile 12 - 7:01 - 164bpm

Overall 12.19miles in 1:29:10 @ 7:19min/mile average 156bpm.

Despite my heart rate being a couple of bpm higher than some of my previous long runs and despite averaging 7:19min/mile this was an 'easy' run that felt very easy too. I wasn't even out of breath at the end!! I've often felt worse after shorter runs at a similar pace maybe I'm finally developing into a long distance runner!!

Week Total (20/10/08 - 26/10/08) - 4 sessions

29.55miles - 3:35:28 - 7:17min/mile - 156bpm

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Annual Review

About 9 years ago while living in Aberdeen, Scotland I went down to the athletics track for a training session with the local club. The coach on that day said that it would take at least 2 years for me to reach 'race' fitness. With my youthful idealism (ignorance) I didn't really believe him - I thought that 2 to 3 months should be plenty!! On that occasion I didn't keep running long enough to find out who was right. But given my progress over the past 2 years I think that he may have had a point. It's nearly 2 years since I decided to start running regularly again and I'm only now reaching near the level where I want to be...

Since the Great North Run I've been reviewing my training records in the lead up to both the 2007 and 2008 races. Last year was my first year back running so I viewed it primarily as a 'base' year. The focus was just to get out regularly and try to cover the distance comfortably. In all I covered 991miles in 2007. I was injured during the start of that year and this year again I was injured at the start of the year but I had a good base from last year so I tried to introduce some more 'quality' runs into my weekly programme.

This resulted in significant improvements in my times for 5k, 5miles, 10miles and half marathon.

In comparing the 2007 and 2008 training period I've taken a very simplistic approach essentially comparing the number of sessions and weekly mileage. I've plotted the following graphs showing the data for the 39 weeks prior to the GNR i.e January to October. Fairly variable isn't it!!

In 2007 I completed 119 sessions and covered 733 miles in 39 weeks. This year I completed 136 sessions and covered 957 miles during the same period. A 14% increase in the number of sessions but a 30% increase in miles run and almost equal to my total mileage for the entire 2007!!!

Drilling a bit deeper into the data this breaks down as 3.1 runs/week (avg 18.8miles) and 3.5 runs/week (avg 24.5miles/week) for 2007 & 2008 respectively. I was a bit surprised with this stat for 2008 as I had thought that my average mileage would have been in excess of 30miles / week. I was injured at the start of the year so this is probably the reason for the low weekly average.

Now, I don't follow any prescribed programme (maybe I should) but analysing the typical '12-week' period prior to the GNR shows the general trend as I tried to focus on this single event.

Looking at the above numbers it shows that this year I did not get out as much as last year (52 vs 54 sessions) but my mileage was a bit higher (3.4%). The big difference was in the 8 week period before the GNR where my number of sessions, average /and max mileage were certainly better than last year.

I'm not sure what all the above means (probably not too much!!) but I thought I'd record it in my diary anyway. Maybe all I can conclude is that this years training was in general more consistent and more intensive which built on last years solid base. The seemingly random nature of teh data is a bit surprising to me so I think I'll have to be a bit more scientific about my training going forward.

Hopefully that will allow me to continue to build my speed and endurance and take the next steps towards a sub 1:25 (or better) half marathon next autumn. Only time will tell.....

Friday, October 24, 2008

The waiting game

My running plans for the end of last week were put on hold when we thought that Pamela, my wife, was going into labour. No such luck and after 3 days in hospital the doctors decided to release her to continue her wait at home. So suffice it to say family took priority and I had to be satisfied with my 2 sessions early last week. Just as well that it was my end of season recovery week!!

This week hasn't been much better. I did manage a run on Monday night - an easy 5.46miles (7:24 pace). My evening runs are typically on an 'out and back' route from my home. I live at the top of a steep hill which is good for the 'out' part but generally proves to be challenging on the way back!! Essentially the first 1.4mile drops 75m but that includes a drop of 64m in 0.66miles (approx 1/16). My heart rate tells the tale (see below from Monday's run)!!

Tuesday and Wednesdays runs were a washout for weather and work reasons. But, suffering from serious cabin fever, I did manage to get out again on Thursday night. This time for, at bit easier, 6.25miles @ 7:38 pace.

Today, being a bit frustrated with running in the dark, I reverted to regular lunchtime session and I decided to put in a progression (steady to tempo) session. No real plan about the target pace - I just felt like a good burn out!! The distance was 5.65miles and the average pace was 6:45. However that doesn't tell the full story. The mile splits were 7:00, 7:04, 7:09 (uphill), 6:40, 6:27 and 0.65miles @ 5:55 to finish. I finished the run feeling good and surprisingly not out of breath - maybe I should have kept going!! I must say though that over the first 3 miles my legs felt a bit heavy - I probably need to get back running more regularly..

BTW still no progress on the new young Bricey - He/She seems to be happy to stay put for the time being (much to Pamela's dismay!!). The waiting continues....

Best of luck to all those running in Dublin this weekend (Thomas, Richard etc). May the force be with you and may you get the just rewards from all the hard effort you've put in. If the weather is favourable PR's should be on the cards. Good luck.

My running so far this week comprised:

Monday (20/10/08)

5.46miles - 40:25 - 7:24min/mile (avg 157bpm)

Thursday (23/10/08)

6.25miles - 47:43 - 7:38min/mile (avg 156bpm)

Friday (24/10/08)

5.65miles - 38:10 - 6:45min/mile (avg 162bpm)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Recovery phase

Since the Great North Run I've been in 'end of season' mode hence I've not been running (or posting) too often. I think it's important to give the body (and my typing fingers) a rest every now and then - any excuse!!

Last week I successfully completed a massive 2 runs easy runs. The first was on Tuesday and the second on Sunday. This was always going to be my 'recovery' week so that was OK. For the record that weeks summary is:

Tuesday (07/10/08)
5.65miles - 44:39 - 7:54min/mile (avg 145bpm)
Sunday (12/10/08)
9.71miles - 1:12:48 - 7:30min/mile (avg 156bpm)
Week Total (06/10/08 - 12/10/08) - 2 sessions
15.37miles - 1:57:27 - 7:39min/mile

This week my intention is to get out a bit more often say 4 to 5 sessions with 1 steady/tempo run and 1 long run of more than 10miles. Not the toughest of weeks to plan but between work and home commitments 5 sessions may be difficult but we'll see.

The week started well when I got out on Monday at lunchtime and managed a 6:08 mile run averaging 7:10 pace with a couple of sub-7 miles in the middle. I felt generally OK but my legs certainly felt heavy and I even began to wonder how I managed sub 6:30 pace for more than 10 miles a week previous. My right knee and calf also felt a bit sore from the previous days run, nothing serious but enough to remind me that I was right to take a short break after the GNR.
Tuesday's run didn't happen - I forget why - oh yes, the rain, a late lunch and work!!
Although I ended up working very late on Tuesday night I made sure that I got out for a run at lunchtime on Wednesday. I had planned Wednesday for my steady/tempo run and as it was the only 'quality' session of the week I made sue not to skip it. The plan was to run approx 5.5miles starting steady and gradually increasing the pace. I hadn't thought about any specific mile splits. The actual mile splits were 7:12, 7:21 (uphill), 6:56, 6:44, 6:41 and a 0.69mile at 6:20 pace to finish. Interestingly my average heartrate was lower than my slower run on Monday. I wonder why? I felt comfortable during the run so maybe the day off on Tuesday and only 3 hours sleep that night did some good??

Monday (13/10/08)
6.08miles - 43:33 - 7:10min/mile (avg 160bpm)
Tuesday (14/10/08)
Wednesday (15/10/08)
5.69miles - 39:18 - 6:54min/mile (avg 157bpm)
Thursday (16/10/08)

I've been thinking a bit more about my running hopes, dreams and aspirations for the next 6 months but I'll save those thoughts for a future post. It's time to get some sleep now....
Week Total (13/10/08 - 19/10/08) - 2 sessions
11.77miles - 1:22:51 - 7:02min/mile

Monday, October 13, 2008

GNR Images


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Great North Run - update

This is the 1km long start area for the Great North Run. Last year I was in Zone H (Green) and it took me approx 35mins to cross the start line. This year I was in Zone B (Orange) and I crossed the start line within 10 seconds... a much different and better racing experience!!

Earlier today I finally got around to uploading the data from my Garmin for last Sunday's race. The picture is clear. Surprising from mile 8 onwards I was starting to feel the pace and slowing. The slowing pace may also have been as a result of the 'hills' on the course which started after the 7 mile mark. This was a surprise to me because after the race I had thought that it was from mile-10 onwards that it all fell apart.

I was talking to a fellow runner at the start line and we were warning each other about the dangers associated with the downhill start (approx 1.5miles). Unfortunately I was carried away with the occasion and I didn't take my own advice!!!

These are the splits which speak for themselves - my target pace was 6:29 - I really stuck to that plan!! I've also put in my recent Cork Half Marathon splits for comparison in brackets. Just goes to show that regardless of whether you start slowly and pick up the pace or run fast from the off the end result will be the same!!

Mile 1 6:14(6:54) - 158 bpm

Mile 2 6:07(6:43) - 171 bpm

Mile 3 6:09(6:41) - 175 bpm

Mile 4 6:22(6:42) - 178 bpm

Mile 5 6:33(6:50) - 181 bpm

Mile 6 6:21(7:05) - 181 bpm

Mile 7 6:28(6:35) - 181 bpm

Mile 8 6:31(6:19) - 181 bpm

Mile 9 6:55(6:23) - 182 bpm

Mile 10 6:53(6:20) - 182 bpm

Mile 11 7:20(6:28) - 183 bpm

Mile 12 7:32(6:28) - 180 bpm

Mile 13.1 7:35(7:14) - 185 bpm

I'm very happy with my splits up to the 10-mile mark so I think I'll record them as PB's with a (*) on the sidebar until I manage to better them in an official race... Targets to aim for in 2009!!!

I also did some analysis of my official timing and position for what it's worth....

Tyne Bridge (3k approx) - 11:11 - 207th position
10K - 00:39:10 - 219th position
15K - 00:59:53 - 272th position
20K - 01:22:30 - 373th position
FINISH - 01:27:03 - overall 387th position

Spot the trend!!

I was the 8th Irishman home, 370th male finisher and 65th in the M35 category.

BTW the most important statistic is that I was only beaten by one man in fancy dress and he was dressed as Batman - so that's OK!!

This week will essentially be a recovery week with alot of rest days and some 5 to 7 miles runs. There won't be much to report so I'll leave any posts until the end of the week...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Great North Run - Mixed Emotions

The official record of todays Great North Run (Newcastle to South Shields) event will show that I completed the Half Marathon course in 1:27:03. A respectable enough time and one which at the start of the year I would have been very happy with. Last year I ran the same event in 1:34:51 and came 1288th. Today's time placed me 387th out of an estimated 52,000+ i.e. within the top 1% of finishers. This is a meaningless statistic however as the vast majority of competitors would be classed as fun runners!!
I titled this post as "mixed emotions" as, right now, that is exactly how I feel. Since the Cork Half marathon on September 14 I re-evaluated my target for this years event and I decided that my goal would be to run sub-1:25 today. Obviously I totally failed in reaching that target!! :( It may just have been a bridge too far given my current physical condition?? Today I was 16 seconds slower today that Cork so on that level I am dissappointed with today's run.
On another level today was a successful run. I went out as planned and ran a true run race from the gun totally focused on my sub-1:25 target. This resulted in at least three personal bests of the current millennium i.e. 5miles (31:27), 10K (39:10) and 10miles (64:36). All PB's were achieved relatively easily so on that level I am happy with today's run. But I can't help feeling that I left a PB for the Half Marathon on the road today. If only I had been a bit more conservative during those early miles!!
As you can probably gather up to 10+miles I was going fine. I was on target and I even felt good(ish). The course gets a bit hilly over the last 3 miles and as we approached the seaside finish at South Shields a headwind picked up. But as much as I'd like to I can't blame the course or the elements, weather conditions were perfect (dry, mainly light winds, cool and sunny). It's simple really - I was just not in the right condition to run sub-1:25 today. I totally fell apart over the last 2.25 miles - it wasn't pretty (more anon). In time I'll evaluate my training over the past few months and see what needs to change but for now I have to be satisfied with my new PB's and the fact that the initial goal for 2008 of running a half marathon in sub-1:30 has been achieved (not once but twice!!). Roll on 2009 and some new goals.....
I'll post again with the blow by blow race report and some more detailed analysis but now it's time to look at the race highlights on the BBC....
Thursday (02/10/08)
0 miles
Friday (03/10/08)
5.65miles - 45:30 - 8:00min/mile
Saturday (04/10/08)
0 miles
Sunday (05/10/08)
14.66miles - incl 13.1mile race - 1:27:03 - avg 179bpm
Week Total (29/09/08 - 05/10/08) - 4 sessions
33.55miles - 3:51:17 - <8:00min/mile>

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

And now for the weather...

Maybe it's that I'm still a newbie wrt to blogging but I find it amazing that since I started this blog I feel compelled to post even though I've not got much to report. Anyone who knows me (in the real world) would be surprised by this because I'm generally not the most talkative of people. Maybe it's that I feel that if I don't post I might forget critical details of my previous runs or maybe it's just that I like talking about running and this is a good way to spend some time in the evening. It certainly beats watching the tv!!

So enough rambling and on to what I've been up to since my last post. Monday was meant to be an easy run at lunchtime. I had good intentions I woke up, packed my gear bag (with clean gear as opposed to the usual...) and went to work. At lunchtime I put on my gear but when I got to my socks... they weren't there... I contemplated running sockless but last time I did that the blisters on my feet lasted 3 weeks!! Not a good idea before next Sunday's race. So off with the gear and back to work again and I promised myself that I'd get out after the girls had gone to bed i.e. 8:30 or 9pm that evening. For once, I stuck to my plan and headed out at approx 8:50pm. BTW I've noticed a trend on the running blogs from Ireland in recent days - almost everyone has mentioned the weather and I'm not going to buck the trend. It certainly has become cooler here - I've even thought about putting on my 'Skins' for the first time this Autumn. But at least we don't have to deal with any hurricanes on this side of the Atlantic!! Anyway back to my run which consisted of a 5.5mile easy 40:59, 7:27 pace (153bpm) - really exciting. The pace certainly felt faster than 7:27 maybe it had something to do with running in the dark with poor street lights. Still though this is my 'taper' week so 7:27 is OK.

Pamela had an 'obs' appointment on Tuesday afternoon so that meant a late lunch for me and no running so I planned to run that night. But the rain didn't have to be very heavy for me to successfully persuade myself that I'd benefit from a day off - so I did.

Today was a different matter though. I made sure that I got out for my "tempo/interval/fartlek" run at lunchtime today despite the wind and rain. I realise that a "tempo/interval/fartlek" run is an unconventional description but that was the plan in my head before I started - essentially no plan other than to give the legs a good "blow out". In summary, the run went well enough with 6.45 miles in 43:13 (6:42 pace, 160bpm).

For those who are interested, and for the record, the blow by blow version is:

2.65miles - 17:32min - 6:37min/mile (151bpm)
1:04min recovery
0.56miles - 3:14min - 5:49min/mile (160bpm)
1:27min recovery
0.56miles - 3:10min - 5:38min/mile (170bpm)
0:56min recovery
0.28miles - 1:37min - 5:51min/mile (167bpm)
1:15min recovery
0.93miles - 5:59min - 6:28min/mile (167bpm)
1:25min recovery
0.11miles - 0:39min - 6:01min/mile (164bpm)
0:52min recovery
0.55miles - 3:34min - 6:28min/mile (169bpm)
0:23min (cool down!!)

So that's it for today. Two more easy runs planned between now and race day and all this weather talk reminds me that I must check the weather forecast for Sunday...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Race week minus one and counting

Well I've nearly made it.... Today's run marked the end of the last week of 'training' for the Great North Run. In marathon parlance I'll 'taper' for the next week. Using my own words I'll just tick over and try not to get injured!! I know that at this stage any 'hard' training will be of absolutely no benefit for next weeks race. But having said that, apart from easy / steady runs during the week I'll probably try a tempo interval session mid week just give my legs a blow out.
As I've mentioned previously my wife is pregnant with our baby due towards the end of October. Here's hoping that it doesn't decide to come early or I'll have to change my plans for next weekend....
Today I settled for an 'easy' 7-miler which felt very comfortable and no adverse effects from yesterdays run. Interestingly and coincidentally the average pace was exactly the same as last Sunday's long run which was over twice as long. Maybe my internal 'pace clock' is telling me that 7:24 is my 'Sunday pace'. Also interestingly this weeks overall average pace and heart rate exactly matched the pace and heart rate of last weeks long 'easy' run. I wonder what the sports scientists could conclude about my condition from this statistic??? Probably nothing...
Sunday (28/09/08)
7.07miles - 52:17 - 7:24min/mile - avg 149bpm
Week Total (22/09/08 - 28/09/08) - 6 sessions
43.59miles - 5:22:26 - 7:24min/mile - 152bpm

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Steady(ish) miles

I was pretty happy with the way last Tuesday's interval session went particularly as there were no 'ill effects'. Previously my left knee had given some trouble after this particular interval session (I think the tight bends on the circuit were causing a bit too much strain but that problem appears to have sorted itself out). Wednesday's run comprised a 6-miler at lunchtime which was planned to be a 'steady' 7:15 - 7:30 pace but I felt good and decided to turn it into a steady/tempo progression run. The run went as follows 6.52miles (45:09 @ avg 6:56, 156bpm) and the pace progression was 7:10 (146bpm), 7:06 (154bpm), 6:58 (155bpm), 7:08 (156bpm) [uphill], 6:51 (161bpm), 6:34 (162bpm), 6:25 (166bpm).

Thursday was a busy day at work and home. I was also feeling the cumulative effect of my Sunday - Wednesday runs so not wishing to overdo it I gave myself the day off.

Friday was a 'recovery' pace run with Grellan at lunchtime 6.75miles in 55:18 @ 8:12 (144bpm).

Today, Saturday, I got up early but so did my children.... As a result I was nearly an hour later than planned leaving the house. However a later than planned 8:30am start was not necessarily a bad thing 'cause it gave me a bit longer to recover from the unplanned 'multiple' glasses of wine I had last night!! The run consisted of approx 13miles and is to be my last 'long' run before the Great North Run so I really hoped it would go well. Apart from the first mile, which includes a 40m climb over the first 0.5mile (just to get the heart rate up!!), the run went to plan. Psychologically I tend to break this run into 5 mile segments which I always hope to negative split with a 2-3 mile uphill recovery at the end. Today was no different and the 5mile splits were 36:10 (7:14 pace) & 34:16 (6:51 pace) respectively. I even kept a sub 6:45 pace going for Mile 11 which was a first for this particular run and I felt good without killing myself. In total 12.68miles (1:31:57, avg 7:15, 153bpm) including 11miles 77:10 (7:01, 153bpm). It looks like the wine didn't do me any harm after all!!

Wednesday (24/9/08)

6.52miles - 45:09 - 6:56min/mile - avg 156bpm

Thursday (25/9/08)


Friday (26/9/08)

6.75miles - 55:18 - 8:12min/mile - avg 144bpm

Saturday (27/9/08)

12.68miles - 1:31:57 - 7:15min/mile - avg 153bpm

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Impatience and speed

Yesterday's (Monday) lunchtime run was scheduled to be 6 miles 'easy'. It started well enough with Miles 1 & 2 on pace (7:08 and 7:13 respectively) but I got a fit of madness over miles 3 and 4 which I covered in 6:35 and 6:10. Some sense prevailed in mile 5 which I covered in 7:03 largely due to a 100m jog at the end of mile 4. But impatience got the better of me again over the last 0.94mile which I covered in 6:07 (6:32 min/mile pace). The 'easy' run turned into a 'tempo' / interval type run but overall not a bad run and I felt good even though yesterdays 16miler was still in my legs!!
Unsurprisingly my legs felt 'sluggish' this morning (Tuesday) but I stuck to my plan which was to generally repeat an interval session that I had last done on 26 August. In August I completed 7 reps of the 0.3mile grass circuit but today I decided to complete only 6 reps at a slightly quicker pace (sub 1:30) and with a shorter recovery recovery (1:30). The primary aim was to be consistent in each rep. The following is a comparison of the 2 sessions with the August session shown in brackets.

Stage - Distance (mile)- Time (min) - Pace (min/mile) - Avg bpm - Recovery (min)
Warm up - 1.11 (1.13) - 7:50 (8.31) - 7:03 - 140 (139) - N/A
Lap 1 - 0.30 - 1:26 (1:52) - 4:54 - 148 (142) - 1:32 (1:31)
Lap 2 - 0.30 - 1:26 (1:32) - 4:46 - 156 (147) - 1:24 (1:37)
Lap 3 - 0.31 - 1:27 (1:27) - 4:45 - 159 (150) - 1:32 (1:39)
Lap 4 - 0.30 - 1:27 (1:30) - 4:49 - 158 (154) - 1:40 (1:36)
Lap 5 - 0.30 - 1:27 (1:29) - 4:53 - 161 (154) - 1:37 (1:44)
Lap 6 - 0.31 - 1:26 (1:28) - 4:43 - 163 (156) - N/A (1:53)
Lap 7 - 0.00 - 0:00 (1:27) - 0:00 - 000 (159) - N/A
Warm down - 1.14 (1.12) - 9:02 (9:12) - 7:55 - 157 (158)

As you can see today's session compares very favourably with the August session. My lap and recovery sets were consistently quicker and much more repeatable. Obviously the training is doing some good!! My heart rate was slightly higher than previously but I put this down to the shorter recovery. Mondays unplanned 'tempo' session may also have been a contributing factor. Still all-in-all a satisfying session. Interestingly my left quad began to cramp on the warm down today probably due to lactic build up (?).

Also I think I'd better start introducing some strengthening exercises into my weekly plan if I want to improve my mile pace. I'd like to run sub 5mins some time next year. Mike mentioned this in his comment to my previous blog and I think he's got a point. Today's pace certainly felt like it was the quickest I could sustain for the session and I certainly felt that I could do with some increased leg strength in order to gain those precious seconds...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The week ends

FINALLY the week has ended. For various reasons this has been a long and, as recorded in previous posts, a changeable one. It has taken until today for me to feel fully recovered from the effects of last Sunday's half marathon and although I had a worrying 'new' pain in my right calf yesterday all seems to be well now - so no obvious ill effects from last weeks dress rehearsal....
I got out at lunchtime on Friday as planned for a 6mile easy run. I was joined by Grellan and although it was nice for a change not to be running 'solo' I think that the chatting certainly slowed us down - no harm there though!!
Saturday was a busy one on the domestic front so no time for running. I should have gone out early as originally planned rather than having a sleep-in and convincing myself that I could run in the afternoon (lesson learnt!!). Domestic duties also meant that I didn't even get to the Munster vs Cardiff Blue rugby game in Musgrave park. Munster won relatively easily in the end (28-20) so the Red army marches on. Hopefully they can maintain this winning streak all season!!
I didn't make that same mistake today and got up early for my regular long Sunday run. The weather was dry but a thick blanket of fog covered Cork City and for most of the first hour of the run visibility was only approx 100m!! No wind though so the conditions were perfect for me. Today's run started in Douglas from where I ran into the City Centre, out over Sundays Well, onto the Straight Road, back in the Model Farm Road, up to Wilton, through Ballyphehane, Turners Cross and back to Douglas. In total 15.70miles at average 7:24 pace; a total time of 1:56:03. The first mile was in 7:36 and my pace progressively increased to a peak at mile 10 (6:58) which was followed by some marginally slower miles at max 7:10 pace to the distance of 14.76miles. The remainder of the run was an uphill 'recovery' at approx 7:45 pace. All in all a very satisfying run. Looking back through my diary I've run this route a total of four times since the start of August and today was certainly the quickest and most comfortable. The previous runs were:
Date - Time - avg bpm
10/08/08 - 1:59:28 - 156
17/08/08 - 2:04:31 - 157
31/08/08 - 1:57:36 - 151
21/09/08 - 1:56:03 - 152
It looks like I'm reaching a peak just at the right time....

Friday (19/09/08)
6.02miles - 49:46 - 8:16min/mile - avg 144bpm
Saturday (20/09/08)
Sunday (21/09/08)
15.70miles - 1:56:03 - 7:24min/mile - avg 152bpm

Week Total (15/09/08 - 21/09/08) - 5 sessions
37.06miles - 4:44:25 - 7:41min/mile - 150bpm

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The best laid plans...

They say that "plans" are made to be broken and that's certainly how this week seems to have transpired.
The week started well enough with the planned recovery run on Monday. But since then things have been well - changeable...
I had planned an interval session for Tuesday but after working late (until 9pm) I had neither the energy nor the inclination to go for a run. So I told myself "you can always do today's session tomorrow..". So that's what I planned...
I woke up on Wednesday morning with a splitting headache - not a good start!! At lunchtime the headache was gone so off for a run I went. But within 1/4 mile the headache was back with a vengeance so all I could do was struggle around at 'easy' pace for the remainder of the 4 miles. Determined not to waste the days training I also went out for a 'steady' pace run on Wednesday night. I was surprised how 'hard' 7:30 pace felt over the first half - maybe my lunchtime run took more out of me than I thought?? But I managed to pick up the pace on the way home to complete the run in a semi-respectable 7:17 pace.
A trip to Dublin with work this morning and a 'parents evening' at the girls Montessori this evening meant that today's planned run also had to take a back seat. I'll use to day as my 'rest day' but no more excuses for the rest of the week..
Since Sunday I've been thinking some more about my 'new' planned pace for the upcoming Great North Run. I had initially thought sub-1:26 would be the 'plan' but I do know that the course is relatively fast so I've decided to aim for sub-1:25 and hope for ideal conditions. The tactic of setting out at a planned pace and 'hanging on' worked well last Sunday so I think that's the 'tactic' that I'll adopt in 2 weeks time. Also 6:45 pace felt 'reasonably' comfortable on Sunday even though it was uphill (although you wouldn't know it from this video at the 12.5mile mark...I seem to be just loping along!!!) so I think that 6:30 (i.e. 1:25 half marathon) may just be achievable...
Incidentally, my older (and wiser) brother also suggested sub-1:25 and he's a discus thrower so he should know!!! We'll see....
5.62miles - 44:55mins - 7:59min/mile - avg 147bpm
(am) 4.22miles - 33:32mins - 7:57min/mile - avg 145bpm
(pm) 5.50miles - 40:05mins - 7:17min/mile - avg 156bpm

Monday, September 15, 2008

The aftermath

This picture was taken at the 12 mile mark and tells a story all of it's own. I think that it accurately reflects how I was feeling at that stage of the race....

Yesterday's race also doubled up as the Munster Inter-Club half marathon championship. Apparently I came 37th in the Senior Men category which according to the Masters results was 22nd in the Masters Category. Just goes to show the the majority of the runners at this distance are oldies (i.e. at least 35 years old)!!
Apart from being a bit tired my legs felt fine today so my 5.62mile recovery run at 7:59 pace (avg 141bpm) was no bother. The sun was even shining!!
Yesterday was also a special day for our family for a totally different, and much more serious, reason. Last night Pamela and I attended a dinner hosted by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) where over 100 people received awards for giving over 50 blood donations and 10 men and women got awards for giving over 100 donations. This is a truly amazing achievement given that you can only donate blood 3 or 4 times a year - truly a lifetime of giving.
Although I'm a donor we weren't at the dinner to receive any award but rather to represent recipients. Pamela and my daughter Una both received multiple transfusions following the birth of the girls and the IBTS felt that it would be good for donors to hear of our success story (both Pamela and Una are now perfectly fine but without receiving the necessary blood transfusions the story may well be very different). It is amazing to think that even in this day of genetic and medical advances the blood transfusion services are still dependent on individuals taking time and effort to donate their own blood to save the life of others.

We were sitting at a table with a Cancer survivor Bernice Glavin who was there to tell her story of survival. Coincidentally, Bernice also ran yesterdays half marathon - it's a small world. In fact Bernice set herself a goal of running 50 marathons by the age of 50. She'll be running her 54th marathon next month in Dublin and she's still 49!!! Well done Bernice.

We awoke this morning to our story being featured in the Irish Examiner newspaper as part of the national campaign for Blood Awareness Week. As I'm sure that the image is illegible I've extracted the text of the article below.
‘We survived because of blood donors’
By Evelyn Ring

Irish Examiner, Monday, September 15, 2008

When Pamela Brice looks into the eyes of her beautiful four-year-old daughter, she sees the generosity of blood donors reflected back. Neither she nor her daughter would have lived without the precious gift of blood they both received. “We are hugely grateful that we survived because of those people who gave blood,” said Pamela, from Douglas in Cork. Pamela, 37, gave birth to identical twins, Eva and Úna, by emergency Caesarean section on June 14, 2004, coincidentally the date of World Blood Donor Day. Both babies, who were born prematurely, were very ill after developing twin to twin transfusion syndrome, a condition that resulted in an imbalance in the blood from one twin to another. Eva, who was overloaded with blood, was in the early stages of heart failure while Úna, the smaller baby, was completely anaemic and required a transfusion as soon as she was born. Pamela received six blood transfusions following the births after doctors at the Erinville Maternity Hospital discovered that she had a rare blood clotting disorder. “I will never forget how cold I was in intensive care and how much better I felt after another transfusion,” she recalled. Pamela, who is expecting her third child, said plans had been made for the birth in Cork University Maternity Hospital and there was a possibility that she will need a further transfusion. Initially very pale, it was only after Úna received another blood transfusion that she blossomed into health, said her mother. “I often think of the people who gave blood and I have met some of them. They are truly humble because they do not expect any thanks for such a precious gift,” said Pamela, a part-time accountant .
During Blood for Life week, which began yesterday and runs until Sunday, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) is hoping stories like Pamela’s will encourage more people to become regular donors. The theme of this year’s Blood for Life Week is “be the type that makes a difference”. “You never know when you, a relative or a friend will be depending on the commitment of donors,” said IBTS chief executive Andrew Kelly. “We need existing donors to give blood regularly and we need new donors to replace those who are no longer able to give blood.”

This afternoon the local radio Red FM interviewed Pamela for their News bulletins. Overnight she's become quite a celebrity. I'd better watch out or the fame will go to her head!!!

Apparently only 5% of the population can donate. In Ireland only 3% donate so my message to all who 'can' would be to "Give blood, Save a life and make a REAL difference".