Archive for January, 2012

Day 27 – Bill

Posted: January 31, 2012 in January
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As I didn’t make my club swim session last night, and have therefore received no further lessons or pointers, today’s solo trip to the pool very much resembled last week’s. And the week before’s. Some swimming. Some splashing. Some spluttering and a smattering of false dawns.

Even with the minimal distance I’m covering I’m still finding it very tiring, which caused me to spend the majority of the drive home wondering how exactly I’m going to manage an 80km cycle and then a 20km run after (eventually) getting out of the water.

I was knackered going round Aldi afterwards for God’s sake.



Day 26 – So, So Sleepy

Posted: January 30, 2012 in January
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The last couple of days I’ve been really tired both driving to and home from work. You really, really do not want to be tired and sleepy when you’re just beginning a 130km drive of dead straight motorway with practically no traffic on it. Trust me.

I just can’t face the thought of getting back into the car and driving anywhere so skip the pool session over in Portlaoise and just turbo it instead.

That thing is a bloody godsend.


Radiohead – Morning Bell (Amnesiac)

Day 25 – Nice and Steady

Posted: January 30, 2012 in January
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I should be doing the majority of my running at ‘easy pace’, which for me is about 6:15 mins/km, but it’s actually quite hard to keep it down to that pace. The temptation is always there to push on a little bit more. Tonight I went out to do a minimum of ten kilometres and for the first kilometre or two could feel a variety of aches and pains. My left calf felt a little tight, which since I tore it last April always worries me, but slightly more worrying than that was a dull pain in my shins which I hadn’t felt before. Some runners I know really suffer with various shin ailments (hi Spunder!) and it seems to be incredibly frustrating as it’s something that can come and go without warning. Three or four kilometres in though I had warmed up sufficiently and the pain had disappeared so I just settled into a nice rhythm and began to enjoy my run.

I managed to find a route that runs from one end of town to the other and out to the services on the motorway that’s all lit up so I just kept running, still working my way through the back catalogue of Mondo Movies podcasts along the way, and as I turned round and headed back into town I had about seven kilometres done. Although I probably shouldn’t have I upped the pace then, unintentionally at first, but after working my way up a hill and back I was feeling pretty good so started going quicker and quicker. I really pushed on then and did the last three k’s at about 4 mins/km. I definitely felt it when I arrived home though as I was coughing and spluttering for a few minutes but all in all it was a really satisfying run. 14.5km in 1:20:25, a good night’s work.


Nirvana – Territorial Pissings

Back to the pool again tonight and much to my dismay it was jammed. Lots of people doing lengths in the main section, despite the two lanes reserved for such activities being almost empty.

The session followed much the same routine as before, with me alternating doing lengths using ‘my’ stroke and then spending time relaxing, getting comfortable in the water. Almost every article or piece I’ve read on swimming has stressed the importance of slowing everything down so I try to do just that, making sure to extend my arms, my legs, try to be smooth and efficient. In truth I’m probably just flailing more slowly but it does feel better and every now and again I feel like I’m making some sort of progress.

That is until I attempt to get some air, which invariably sees me ingesting water, bolting upright and splashing and spluttering like a drunken hippo. Thursday night is swimming night with the club and it can’t come soon enough.

Day 23 – Trilogy

Posted: January 26, 2012 in January
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Despite me loving the solitary nature of running, and having notions about being a kind of a quicker moving, less self-strangling David Carradine – you know, just roaming the earth, running from place to place, getting in to adventures – in order for me to get any quicker I really need to train with some people who are quicker than me (which to be fair is just about anyone that runs regularly). As I could also definitely do with some help in the areas of swimming and cycling I thought that possibly the best thing to do would be to see if I could find a group or a club that trains in all three of the disciplines, and luckily enough there happens to be these things called ‘triathlon clubs’ which do just that.

So, on the recommendation of (Swimming) Stevie, I headed over to Portlaoise tonight to meet up with their triathlon club – Trilogy. I’d made initial contact with the person looking after new members, Trish, and could tell by her mail that she had some reservations about a newcomer to the sport attempting the Double Olympic as their first. On meeting her tonight though she couldn’t be any friendlier and so we set off after the main group, heading out to where our session for the night was to take place. Along the way I explained my rationale (such as it is) and detailed my (to my mind quite limited) experience in running and racing, and realising then I wasn’t starting quite from scratch I think she was a bit more assured that I wasn’t mental and/or spoofing.

When we got to the destination, which was a pretty deserted ring road heading towards an industrial road or estate, our coach Denise explained the session as follows:

90 seconds to get to the top of a big bridge, which was about 250 metres of a steady incline. If we got to the top before the 90 seconds were up, jog on the spot, pressing against the wall, then 120 seconds to jog back down before going again.

Repeat to exhaustion.

I went with the quick/fit group so as to gauge myself and found, much to my delight, that I could stick with them. My time spent plodding around the undulating roads of Tramore was obviously standing me in good stead as even on the fifth and sixth repeats I was maintaining my pace all the way to the top and finishing strong.

After seven repeats we changed it up slightly with two increasingly dastardly, non-stop efforts, the last of which I missed the cut-off time for by about four seconds. I was still delighted with how it had gone though and was in a great mood chatting to a couple of the guys on the way back.

After a little bit of core work and stretching that was it. First session with my new club done and I went home a very happy and contented man, with visions of a yellow robed, wardrobe bothering, Grasshopper slowly fading from my mind, being replaced with memories of large numbers of lycra clad loons hammering up and down bridges around dark industrial roads, and ideas about mini-pelotons roaming the Midlands’ roads.



Start line

The morning of my first mountain race rolled round and I have to say I was more than a little excited about this. I was a little bit sure of how to approach it though as most races I’ve done in the past have been of two to six hours duration, this would be considerably less than an hour (I hope), so no need to carb load, no two day hydration plan, even the amount of kit required is pretty minimal. I was out of bed before eight to make a huge pot of coffee and an equally enormous batch of porridge, and after polishing those off I managed to rouse the rest of the family, loaded everyone (including our third ‘weekend son’ Colm) into the car and set off for Howth.

On arrival at Howth GAA club I registered both for the race and with IMRA (as it was my first race with them) and then retreated back to the car to take shelter from the wind. It was very windy, a particularly cold and biting wind that managed to infiltrate every pore of my clothing and skin, and with it being still almost ninety minutes to the race start there was no point in being out there freezing. Despite the organisers asking for everyone to be there for registration by half ten this being Ireland most people rolled in the gate well after eleven. I looked at the crowd still waiting to register as I was doing my warm up and thought there was no way we were going to start on time, but the organisers did a fantastic job and managed to rattle through the crowd, somehow getting everyone to the start line on time.

Due to the wind it was impossible to hear one of the organisers tell us where the route was, but considering I was going to be resolutely mid-pack (hopefully) it wasn’t really a concern for me. We set off up and around the two football pitches before heading off-road, under, around and through some trees before everyone came screeching to a halt at a bottleneck on the path. After a little bit of waiting around we were moving again, uphill for a short distance before plunging down into more trees. I’d been initially quite hesitant, wanting to conserve energy but seeing as the race was a short one, and there’s be ample time to recuperate at bottlenecks/uphill sections I took off and tried to pass as many people as I could any time the path widened up.

We had a couple more tight, uphill sections where it was single file at walking pace but also some flat, rocky sections and a steep downhill or two before the route levelled out into a quick, relatively flat and straight run through some gorse.The next uphill section wasn’t particularly steep, and it was quite wide, so I used the opportunity to pass some more people before the steep, rocky downhill on the other side. One of the reasons I wanted to do a lot of mountain races this year was to improve my descending, which is utterly atrocious at the moment and cost me lots of time at Gaelforce, and particularly Sea2Summit, last year. I watched some of the more experienced runners around me, trying to emulate what they were doing, keeping my feet moving with short, quick steps.

At the bottom we were back to the first flat section through the trees so I upped the pace again, knowing there was no more climbs and only about a kilometre to go. We came back up on to the football pitch with about 800m to go and the guy I’d been trailing for the majority of the race was just ahead of me. He’d pulled ahead by a decent amount when I stopped to tie my laces at around the halfway point, but over the last 2km I’d clawed my way back. I passed him with about 600m to go but this was a rookie mistake on my part. At this point I was almost flat out and tiring. The wind was in my face but unfortunately not in my lungs and I couldn’t keep it up. With about 50m he came back past me and there was nothing I could do about it. In the end I finished in 135th place out of 284, in a time of 32:33, a time I was more than happy with.

I learned a huge amount from the race – from the course itself, to better footwork, to better descending, that my climbing is getting better (thanks in no small part to the amount of time spent on the roads around Tramore), and also all the things I still need to work on – more speed, maintaining a high pace, better racecraft etc. The race itself really couldn’t have gone much better and it was easily the most enjoyable race I’ve ever done. To top it all off we went down to the market in Howth where I treated myself to a mouthwateringly delicious pulled pork sandwich, smothered in hot sauce, from one of the many stalls there. We spent the rest of the day driving along the Dublin coast, listening to the most inane bickering ever from the squabbling kids in the back before arriving home just as exhaustion was setting in.

Overall it was a fantastic day. As I said it was easily the most enjoyable race I’ve ever done and I can’t wait to do some more of them.

View from the course

Day 21 – Prep Day

Posted: January 22, 2012 in January
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With my first mountain race tomorrow I’m taking it very easy today. I know that seems to be something of a theme this week but I’ve no idea how hard (or not) it’s going to be and I really don’t want to turn up there with heavy legs or find myself half way up a hill and dying on my arse, so it’s an easy 6km just to stretch my legs and then off to bed.

Utah Saints – Something Good

Back to the pool today to continue my (excruciatingly) slow grind towards fully fledged swimmerdom. There was snorkelling lessons in the pool that my youngest son was doing but I thought I was going to get away with it and be the only person in the pool apart from them. Unfortunately when I walked out there was a bunch of fourteen and fifteen year olds looking straight at me, these particular ones being mostly from the soccer team I coach. I swear these little gits are following me around. Anyway, after a few minutes of chit-chat they left me to it and I began slowly making my way up and down the pool.

I alternated swimming lengths of the pool using my own ‘unique’ stroke with time spent trying to work on getting something resembling a freestyle stroke going, trying to breathe but most of all just trying to relax in the pool. Although I’m definitely still taking the tiniest of baby steps I do at last feel like I’m making a little bit of progress.


Grandaddy – The Crystal Lake

Day 19 – Nice and Easy

Posted: January 22, 2012 in January
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My calves were a little tight after the new runners yesterday but not as much as I feared they’d be but with my first mountain race coming up this weekend I just went for a quick recovery run, a few laps of the local football field at a nice easy pace. Not particularly exciting but necessarily dull I think.

Tommy Guerrero – Organism

Day 18 – Like the Wind

Posted: January 22, 2012 in January
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I got new runners! As usual when I arrived down to Tramore this morning I realised I’d forgotten something, this time it was my runners of all things. Thankfully though I’d brought some One For All vouchers that I got at Christmas so after work I popped into Alfie Hales in Waterford to buy some new ones. I had a list of five or six different pairs that I was interested in, all lightweight affairs suited to road races of 5k upwards, but unfortunately they had none of the ones I wanted. The shop assistant suggested a couple of different pairs of Asics which I wasn’t initially too keen on due to me never really getting on with the Kayanos I have, but in the end my desire to spend money outweighed my misgivings and I went with the DS Racers.

Shortly after I was lacing them up and heading out for a nice easy run to break them in, but whether it was all down to the runners or whether I was just feeling particularly good I found myself absolutely flying. Compared to my other runners it felt like I was wearing almost nothing on my feet and it took no effort at all to lift them, especially up hills. They seemed to give an extra little spring to my step too and I ended up  running a 6.6km loop in 32mins. Not hugely quick for some but for me it definitely was, particularly as it’s a very hilly loop, and on the flat sections I was managing to run at my VO2-Max/Interval pace reasonably comfortably for concerted periods. Even on the steepest sections I was managing 6mins/km pace so I was delighted with the run.

Unfortunately though that’s it for the Racers for a little bit as they’ll be kept for races and speed sessions only. Doesn’t stop me from looking adoringly at them and taking photos though.

primal scream – war pigs (chemical bros remix)