Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Looking at the numbers

Despite a sore throat, which has stayed with me all week, I woke up on Monday without any 'pain'. That was probably the first time in recent records that I've not had any stiffness / soreness after a race. On Tuesday it was the same story. Now that's really a first - my legs are always sore 48hours after a race!! This signifies either a) I'm in better shape than I've been for a long time or b) I didn't push myself hard enough on Sunday or c) maybe a combination of both.

I had planned an 'easy' run on Tuesday as a bit of a recovery but as I was feeling good I decided to run a the slightly faster 'steady' pace and turn the recovery run into a proper workout. In the end it ended up being a steady-tempo progression 5.67mile run at lunchtime in a time of 37:36 mins i.e. average 6:38 pace @ 158bpm. The mile splits were 6:48 (146bpm), 6:49 (155), 6:48 (159), 6:39 (163), 6:24 (162), 6:10 (169). Quick but not too quick and it felt surprisingly 'easy'.

Looking back through my diary at similar runs during last October/November I recorded 6:45 min/mile (162bpm) and 7:05 pace (157bpm) respectively over the same course. So based on the numbers I'm in better shape now. I've also recorded my resting heartrate at 49bpm. I think that's the lowest number in 15 or more years.

Today I planned a longer but slightly slower run. 7.61 miles in 52:15 mins (6:52 min/mile @157bpm). Once again I found it hard to stick to the easy pace for the duration and I picked it up a bit over the last few miles. The splits were 7:03 (141), 6:57 (153), 7:05 (154), 6:47 (160), 6:38 (158), 6:48 (164), 6:50 (165), 6:44 (168). The run went well but my left achilles was a bit tight/sore during the run ... must be sure to take care of it.

Also I never thought I'd say it but it's nice having the additional feedback from the heart rate numbers. Whatever did I do without them....

The tentative plan for the rest of the week is another steady/tempo run tomorrow followed by some longer easy runs over the weekend.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Eagle AC 5 Mile report update

According to the official results my placing yesterday was 28th out of 264 competitors. My time however was rounded to 30:45. Grellan claims that I stopped my watch too early (see above). I contend that I started it too late (slow reactions on the start line!!).

The summary for last week was ...

Week Total (16/2/09 to 22/2/09) - 5 sessions
38.02 miles - 4:36:00 - 7:16min/mile - No HRM

No running today - it's my birthday so I'm concentrating on eating cake.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Eagle AC 5 Mile Race Report

If the conditions were right Grellan had predicted a sub 30 minute time for today. But to be honest that time was never really on the cards for a number of reasons:-
  • My target pace was 6 min/mile i.e. not much room for error;
  • I've been suffering from a low grade virus of some sort for the past few days which has meant much time in the bathroom (enough said!!);
  • The hilly middle portion of the race course.

Despite the above I was hopeful of running a good time and at least bettering my PB of nearly 32minutes. The weather conditions were perfect - sunny, not much wind and not too warm.

I arrived at the race HQ in good time and decided to drive the course to check out the hills. I don't know if that was a good idea or not!! I think that I may have run a bit more conservatively as a result.

Shortly after registering I went for a 3.73 mile warmup @ 8:43 pace. Then it was just a matter of keeping warm and loose until the race started (10 minutes late - not a problem today as the sun was shining and the mood was good!!)

Miles 1 & 2 were generally flat/downhill and the pace was right on target at 5:58 each. Average heart rates were 161 and 174 bpm respectively. I checked my stride a few times in the knowledge of what was to come....

Miles 3 & 4 were beasts!! Mile 3 was uphill all the way (see below). In fact the 2 mile marker was at the very bottom of the hill!! I steadily worked up the hill without pushing too hard and the pace reflected this - a 6:29 (178bpm) for that mile. I did manage to pass a few poor souls who had been a bit overly eager!! Mile 4 was generally uphill the only consolation being that just as I rounded the corner in Shanbally I saw Pamela and the troops - my fan club. They subsequently drove alongside me up the hill in mile 4 which certainly keep me going!! The mile 4 split was 6:19 (180bpm) - a bit of a recovery!!

The last mile was largely downhill but my legs were tired and there was a strong breeze into my face. I was also in no-mans-land and as a result (in hindsight) I may not have pushed myself to the limit. Having said that during the race I thought that I was going as fast as I could!! I managed to pick up the pace to finish on target in 5:57 (183bpm).

I crossed the line and stopped my watch in a time of 30:44 mins. An official PB!! Mr Garmin recorded a course length of 5.09miles so he said I passed the 5 mile mark in 30:11. If only I could go by that!!! Not sure yet of placing or official time. I'll give an update when I know more.

Still I'm happy with my run today particularly given the course topography!! It was a nice test ahead of Ballycotton in 2 weeks...

A 2.05 mile warmdown @ 9:30+ pace rounded off the running for today.

BTW as you'll have gathered I got the battery for my HRM but I didn't get a chance to get the 'go faster' haircut yesterday - maybe that was a factor in me not going sub-30!! :)

The Route
My Race

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Easy days

I've stuck to the end of week plan for once!!

Thursday and Friday were planned as easy runs at more than 7 minute pace. As it turned out Thursday's run was 6.20 miles in 46:47mins, an average of 7:33. On Friday I managed 6.78 miles in 49:29 an average of 7:18 min/mile.

I knew that both days I'd started out at approx 8 minute pace and finished strongly. But I was a bit surprised with the extent of the 'acceleration' when I uploaded the data today. On Thursday the mile splits ranged from 8:12 to 7:07. Not too bad. My legs were a bit tired from Wednesday's tempo session and in particular there was a tightness in my left hamstring which was still there on Friday. Nothing too serious but enough to make me not want to push things too much. Afterall Ballycotton isn't too far away now!!

On Friday I started out at 7:52 min/mile but I really hadn't realised that after mile 2 my pace was sub 7:05 and my last two miles were in 6:52 & 6:44 respectively. They certainly didn't feel that quick. Still though, I had no shortness of breath at the end and felt very comfortable so the run can still be classed as 'easy'. That's something I wouldn't have said 6 months ago so maybe my recent training regime is beginning to pay off!! But I really must get a battery for my HRM - I'm sure that my heart rate has come down recently.

I cancelled this mornings 4 miles easy run in lieu of getting my hair cut!! Maybe that will help in tomorrows race... :)

I've no fixed plans for the race tomorrow except to improve on my PB which officially is 31:51 even though I've recorded substantially quicker splits in longer races. The course has a few hills so I'll have to see how things work out....

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Race week tempo

I'm planning on running a 5 mile race on Sunday so the plan is that this week I'll only do one 'quality' workout. The remainder of the week will be relatively easy.

I took a rest yesterday (Tuesday) so no running and today was nominated as the week's quality workout. A lunchtime 7-mile tempo run over varying terrain through the Regional park and roads around Ballincollig. A similar route to last weeks workouts but in contrast to last weeks steady/tempo runs it was all-out tempo from the start today. Last week I was averaging 6:40 to 6:50 overall I hoped to run sub 6:30 today. Weather conditions were perfect and it was the first day all 'winter' that I could run in just shorts and long sleeve.

The mile splits were encouraging - 6:15 (Mr Garmin went a bit 'funny' during this mile so actual split more like 6:35), 6:42, 6:37, 6:30, 6:14, 6:02, 6:09 & 5:42 (last 0.14 miles). In all 7.14miles in 45:19mins. That's an average of 6:21min/mile!!

Although I was 'reasonably' comfortable throughout I definitely had to work harder than during last weeks sessions and afterwards it took a few minutes for me to catch my breath!! I suppose the 20-25 seconds increase in pace was significant afterall!!

So the plan for the remainder of the week is easy / steady running and definitely nothing sub-7 minute pace until Sunday!! (Famous last words!!)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Way to go Tricia..

I know this blog is mainly about my running but I couldn't help giving my niece a mention. The following is a report from the Northeast-10 Conference....

Northeast-10 Women’s Track Athlete of the Week
Patricia Brice, UMass Lowell (So., Chelmsford, Mass.) - Provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championship in two relays at the Boston University St. Valentine's Day Invitational. Ran the 400 meters in 57.4 seconds to lead the UMass Lowell distance medley relay team to second overall and tops among collegiate teams in 11:45.26, currently the second-fastest time in the country. Also ran a 58.6-second split on UML's 4X400 meter relay team which placed third overall (first among Division II-III foursomes) in 3:54.53, which ranks 10th in the country.

Patricia ran in leg 1 of the 4x400

Congrats Tricia !!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Another week down..

Well, I survived Saturday and I made it out for my long run on Sunday. Unfortunately I had to cut it short due to time constraints (had to take my 3 kids to a 4 year olds birthday party). (As an aside... spending time on a kids bouncy castle can do wonders for your leg condition my legs are killing me today!!!). So on Sunday morning it was a 9+mile run into town and back. To be predicted I compensated for the shortened run by running the second half about 10-15 seconds per mile faster on average. In all it was 9.31miles easy in 1:07:54 i.e. average 7:17. My legs felt heavy but to be honest I put that down to residual fatigue from Friday nights session!!

The total for this fast yet low mileage week ended up as follows:

Week Total (9/2/09 to 15/2/09) - 4 sessions
28.25 miles - 3:20:52 - 7:07min/mile - No HRM

Today (Monday) I started the week off on a good note with a 7.02 mile easy/steady run at lunchtime in 51:29 i.e. an average of 7:20min/mile. Instead of simply running easy today I thought that I'd push the pace a bit to compensate for not running the planned 15+ miles yesterday. So the run was an easy/steady progression run with the mile split pace varying as follows 8:24, 7:57, 7:13, 7:06, 6:47, 6:55, 6:58. My legs felt heavy throughout but again I think that this was a hangover from weekend.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Speed and dehydration

So far this week I've managed to fit in the quality sessions but I've failed dismally to fit in the easy/recovery runs.

Monday was a planned recovery run after Saturday's long run. Lunchtime again and starting out with Tony. 5.64miles in 43:19minutes. That's an average of 7:41 min/mile. The initial miles were at 8:45 pace accelerating to 7:00 minute pace over the last few.

Tuesday was to be the first quality session a 7+ mile steady to tempo run. I started out easy (Tony joined me for the first mile) which served to be a nice warm-up. In total the run was 7.66miles in 52:06 an average of 6:48 min/mile. The mile pace splits were 8:17, 7:01, 6:54, 6:31, 6:17, 6:22, 6:28, 6:25.

Wednesday and Thursday were write offs.

On Friday it was another of the lunchtime quality runs. Again a steady/tempo run but this time over the shorter distance of 5+ miles and a bit quicker. 5.64miles in 37:33 an average of 6:40 min/mile. Mile pace splits were 6:55, 6:48, 6:51, 6:50, 6:21, 5:58

The second session on Friday was more of the liquid "dehydration" variety. A marathon pace session starting at 8pm and going on until 4am. Numerous water (Guinness and wine actually) stations were involved, generally at an average of 15 to 30 min intervals. Thanks to Grellan for the lift home. Suffice it to say that today was a recovery of the non-athletic variety!! Re-hydration has been the primary focus. Hopefully, I'll be recovered enough for tomorrows long run......

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Long runs into the wind

The option of a free lunch at a lunchtime presentation at work was enough to convince me that Friday should be a 'recovery' day, so no running.

My regular(ish) Sunday long run was brought forward to Saturday as I felt that my free time would not permit a run on Sunday. I was right!!

So my long 'easy' run this week was 15.74mile in 1:56:47 i.e. an average of 7:25 min/mile. The sun was shining and it wasn't too cold so I got to run without the need to wear heavy lagging!! It was strange that as I ran north the wind was against me, the route then headed west and the wind was into my face; I then turned east and, yes, the wind was not behind me. Finally I ran generally in a south east direction and, yes again, the wind was into my face. Were the gods telling me something?? I covered the first 10 miles in a little over 73mins, an average of 7:19. At that stage my left shin /ankle region started to hurt so I slowed a little and, conscious of not wanting to overdo things, averaged 7:35min/mile over the remainder of the run.

Despite the deliberate slowing over the last third of the run it was the fastest I've ever completed this course. Over the past 12 months I've only completed this distance & route on 4 occasions. Each day I had planned to run 'easy' and the historic distance / time / pace stats were
7/2/09-15.74miles-1:56:47-7:25 min/mile
25/1/09-15.62miles-2:01:49-7:48 min/mile
31/8/08-15.68miles-1:57:36-7:30 min/mile
17/8/08-15.67miles-2:04:31-7:57 min/mile

So Saturday's run tells me that I'm in reasonable the moment. But having said that the niggle in my shins reminds me that I must not push myself beyond my elastic limit. After all only a few weeks to go to Ballycotton.

Week Total (2/2/09 to 8/2/09) - 4 sessions
33.70 miles - 4:15:37 - 7:35min/mile - No HRM

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Easy recovery

Thanks to all who left comments following my last post - they're really appreciated and to Thomas I'm looking forward to Ballycotton so that we may push/pull each other and Grellan around to a good time. My final placing in Dungarvan was 65th. Despite having ChampionChip timing, which I thought was to simplify the results process, the organisers managed to find 2 more runners ahead of me and 27 behind me giving a total of 895 finishers.

Well, I woke up on Monday morning not feeling too sore. I had expected to have lots of the usual aches and pains but there were surprisingly few!! A good sign so at lunchtime my recovery began with a very easy 5.54miles in 44:29 in an average of 8:02 min/mile. I joined Tony over the first couple of miles but when left me to my own pace-making I slipped down into the 7:2x's over the last few miles.

On Tuesday the aches got worse - that's to be expected, I suppose, as it's always 48hours afterwards strenuous training / racing that my muscles let me know that I've worked them beyond their elastic limit. Despite the sore calves and left hamstring and the snow I proceeded to tog out at lunchtime again planning to join Tony. Unfortunately when I went to put on my shoes - they weren't there - how hadn't I noticed that sooner. At that moment I knew exactly where they were - on my hall floor - very helpful. I contemplated (for about 1 second) running barefoot and without those fancy slippers that Grellan has, but sense prevailed and Tuesday was an unplanned day off.

On Wednesday, Tony and I actually completed Tuesday's session and this time I brought my shoes. 5.24 miles in 44:56 an 'even' average of 8:34.

Today I was left to my own devices and the lunchtime menu was a 7mile steady/tempo run. I must admit that it was a nice change from the 'easy' running and a good test that there was no residual damage from last Sunday's race. 7.18miles in 49:25, an average of 6:53 min/mile over varying terrain. The mile splits were 7:30, 6:53, 6:50, 6:48, 6:33, 6:48, 6:47 and all felt pretty controlled.

So the current race plan is to run the Carrigaline 5mile on 22nd February and the Ballycotton 10 on March 8th. Ballycotton will be the 3rd in the Munster 10mile 4-race series. I had planned on running all 4 races but it is unlikely that I'll get to the fourth race in Kilnaboy. This is for two reasons. Firstly, the time (2pm on 12th April) clashes with the quarter final of rugby's Heineken Cup (Munster v Ospreys in Thomond Park @ 1pm on April 12th) and I have a ticket!! Secondly getting from Cork to Kilnaboy on the 12th will be next to near impossible due to the Heineken Cup. (For those unfamiliar with the geography - Thomond Park is in Limerick and you have to drive through Limerick to get to Kilnaboy. On big game days the roads through Limerick become a parking lot!!) Maybe the organisers in Kilnaboy will consider rescheduling - unlikely.

Also well done to my niece Patricia who provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championship at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games last weekend.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Dungarvan 10 race report

My training has been a bit erratic and unplanned lately but hey I must be doing something right 'cause the 10mile race in Dungarvan went very well indeed....

The course was flat but the weather was awful. Cold and windy - the worst combination. Apparently we're experiencing some Arctic air at the moment and the east to north easterly winds today certainly confirmed that!!

Dungarvan 10 - COURSE MAP

Grellan and I travelled to the race together arriving at the planned 11am - 2 hours ahead of the start time and allowing enough time to register ahead of the 12:15 deadline and get a parking spot directly outside the race HQ - perfect!!

After a 3.64 mile warm up @ 8:41 min/mile pace it was back to the race HQ for some warmth. That may not have been the best idea as the cold wind seemed all the colder when we emerged 5 minutes before race start. Still though the 500m jog to the start line was enough to allow the acclimatization process to be complete!! I decided to run as if it was a mid summer race i.e shorts and singlet which drew a few comments along the lines of "mad man" etc. from those dressed in thermals and hats!! Grellan had decided to experiment with wearing skins in a race - a tactic I predict cost him 5 secs per mile!!

The start was crowded - approx 1,000 runners and I misjudged the actual start line so I initially lined up towards the back of the field. On realising my mistake I worked my way forward and surprisingly the further forward I walked the more space there was. Was everyone afraid of leading I wonder?? Eventually Grellan and I lined up about 6 or 7 rows back from the front. That was the last we saw of each other...

The first mile was largely uphill but this did not deter a lot of runners from racing off at a pace which was beyond them!! So a lot of weaving was the order of the day. I reached the first mile mark in 6:13 (Mile 1) on target which was tentatively 6:15.

Mile 2 brought us on to the Dungarvan bypass and was also largely uphill. My split was 6:06 (Mile 2) a bit fast but I felt comfortable.

Mile 3 brought us out onto country roads which were very scenic and quiet except for the mass of lunatic runners who had nothing better to do on a Sunday morning!! The course was reported to be a flat one so I was surprised to see the long slightly uphill drags. My split for Mile 3 was 6:12.

Mid way through the fourth mile I tried to kill myself by drowning at the water station!! How do you drink efficiently from a polystyrene cup at 6 minute pace? Despite this my Mile 4 split was 6:01. My quads were beginning to feel fatigued and my breathing was laboured - "why did I run yesterday" was my only thought!!

I had tagged on to a runner (Barry? or so one spectator called him) who I heard say while chatting during the second mile that he was aiming for 62minutes. He was running well so I stayed approx 10 to 20m behind and kept pace. Mile 5 was completed in 6:03. Running through the mile marker I heard the split as 30:4X - wow - I've just run a modern day 5 mile PB (by nearly a minute!!) and ran nearly a minute faster than I had in Mallow a few weeks ago!! Mr Garmin recorded my 5 mile split as 30:36 so I'll take that!!

Mile 6 was more of the same but at this stage the runners were getting sparse so no-mans-land was beckoning. Despite this I kept tracking Barry and the Mile 6 split was 6:13.

Thanks to a steep decent during Mile 7 my legs got to relax a bit and my split was 6:06 which, despite the heavy breathing and tired legs, was beginning to feel comfortable (ish)!!

That was until Mile 8 the mile from hell. We turned directly into the cold easterly wind along a road with no shelter. A tough mile which was completed in 6:24 (Mile 8). The wind was cold and my I'm sure that my lips, cheeks, hands etc were beginning to suffer from early onset frostbite!!

Shortly after the mile mark we left the quiet country roads and were back onto the main Cork - Waterford road. A good running surface but the road was slightly uphill and the easterly wind was now a head/crosswind - I must have looked like I was running like Quasimodo as I fought crosswind!! My only though at this stage was that it had been a good run so far and if I slowed by 30 sec per mile I would still match my Mallow time. Better still I could walk but that would have meant a long cold walk home and depression. So I put my head down and started to work to get back in touch with the group 30-50m ahead. I eventually succeeded at about the 8.5mile mark. Which meant that I reached the Mile 9 mark in 6:21. A tough mile but it seemed that I was suffering (slightly) less than those around me so I drove on. Only one mile to go and the thought that the last bit was downhill into the finish line gave me some solace!!

Mile 10 was a long drive from home. In the middle distance days of my youth I generally had a good finish but that kick started (at most) 200m from the line. Here I was kicking hard one mile out - was I mad - PROBABLY!! I forged to head of the group that I'd just caught (which included Barry and a guy from the Bilboa club who I'd out kicked in Mallow) and was determined not to be passed again (if at all possible) and .... I wasn't. I rounded the 90 deg bend into the 50m long finishing straight in full flight - even running on my toes and driving from my arms (the vigorous motion had thawed them!!). I could hear the announcer calling out my name and my 10 seconds of fame weren't going to be taken by someone passing me!! Mile 10 was completed in 5:55 - my fastest of the race and no-one passed me in the last mile!! Happy days - I stopped my watch on 1:01:40. Another PB - the course was fast despite the weather conditions!! My official time will probably be a couple of seconds slower but I'm sticking with this as my PB as Mr Garmin is never wrong!! :)

Well done to Grellan for finishing on his target time despite wearing long pants and John Meade (world record holder for the 3 legged marathon) for breaking the 60 minute barrier. A jog/walk back to the Race HQ for tea, sandwiches, leg cramps and warmth completed a perfect day. Roll on the next race in Ballycotton in early March...

200m to go...150m to go...100m to go...

My race!!.....

Update - 2/2/09 - Results were published today. Officially my time was rounded to 1:01:43 and I came 63rd (same position as Mallow) out of 866 i.e. top 8%!!!

Week Total (26/01/2009 to 01/02/2009) - 4 sessions

30:05 miles - 3:33:40 - avg. 7:07 min/mile - No HRM