Archive for the ‘August’ Category

Day 240 – Back To Work

Posted: September 18, 2012 in August
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Despite the best efforts of poxy weather and a dickhead bus driver it was still great to get back home last night. If nothing else now at least when I go out for a run now I’m not in danger of melting into the road. With London to Brighton fast approaching I had no time to waste so straight after work it was over to Emo for the club’s slow Monday evening run. 12km on trails at a nice, steady pace was just what I needed to get back into the swing of things.

12km – 1:05:35





Posted: September 18, 2012 in August
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Indulging My Inner Fattie

And this is how I spent the week post-GFW.

Seeing as the spin we did over The Cut on Thursday was as close to the cycle for GFW as I was going to get around here (same distance as first bike leg, similar overall amount of climb and descent) I decided to bring Benny up there today to get some more preparation. While I had absolutely no doubt that Benny would get round the GFW course, despite his recent brush with face death, he hadn’t done a huge amount of cycling, only the spin we went on last week and that was pancake flat.

We followed the same route as I had on Thursday evening – park at the church in Rosenallis, easy few km’s out the road, then turn up The Cut. A big difference between today and Thursday was we were doing it at lunch time, as opposed to evening, and the sun was absolutely beating down on us. Another difference between now and then was on Thursday I didn’t have my Garmin with me, so was cycling along in blissful ignorance. Today I did and I was sitting there, sweating, looking at the numbers moving very slowly indeed. The chat between Benny and I had ground to a halt after about one kilometre of climbing and now the only sound coming from either of us was some slightly strained breathing.

The increased heat was definitely making a big difference today, but my legs felt nowhere near as fresh as they did on Thursday. Apart from one or two mini bursts to get ahead when there was a car or something coming I remained resolutely in the saddle, grinding away at a steady pace. Benny had no choice but to do that as due to the compact gearing on my cyclocross bike he was in the lowest gear almost immediately. This was cause for a little bit of concern for Benny, but I reckoned he’d be fine with it. He was managing this climb just fine, and there was nothing on the GFW course as long as this.

Both of us were hoping that the weather at GFW wouldn’t be quite as sunny as it was now. Any time the hedges fell away to leave us without shade climbing seemed to get a whole lot harder. With the sun bearing right down on us the air seemed that much thinner and hotter and felt like it was providing us with less and less fuel to get up that hill. Eventually though I saw the little memorial that meant we were only about a kilometre from the top, and a few minutes later, with one last effort to get up that sneaky bastard of a climb that hides just round the corner, we were there.

After a quick turnaround at the top it was time to practice descending. Well for me anyway. Benny’s descending consists of going hell for leather and not touching the brakes. The only thing he needs to practice is giving people a shout when he’s going past them and not frightening the shite out of his poor friends. We did manage to make it down to the bottom in one piece though and then it was back out on to the main road.

I noticed Benny’s pace had dropped a bit so, cogniscent of the fact that it wasn’t that long ago he was in hospital, asked how he was feeling. He replied that overall he was fine, but his stomach was “in bits from that fizzy Lucozade yack”. I had warned him about the potential issues in using that to fuel the ride, but only laughed and said “I told you so” a couple of times because I’m nice like that.

We turned to do the last section with the additional climb then, which seemed considerably steeper than on Thursday and which necessitated me just getting my head down and grinding. I got to the top and turned around to see Benny was nowhere near me. It took him a couple of minutes to catch up and when he did he looked like crap, which had me really worried. I asked again was he alright and his reply didn’t really reassure me – “had to puke a couple of times back there”. I was hoping that there wasn’t some hangover from his recent ailment but he put my mind at rest by blurting out “fucking fizzy yack” once more just before puking again, an amount of which I noticed went over my lovely bike.

To be fair to Benny, he’s an absolute trooper and barely stopped pedalling to rid his stomach of the aforementioned fucking fizzy yack. A couple more kilometres, and one slightly hairy descent, after that and we were done, back at the car and attempting to rinse Luco-puke of my bike. After today I knew that there was no way just getting round the GFW course was going to be an issue for Benny, and so did he. He’d passed his last test with flying colours, well flying orange stuff anyway, and now it was just a matter of gathering gear together and putting a plan in place.

Game on.

31.28km in 1:21:46

After tri795 on Sunday Rory, Mark and myself arranged to meet on Thursday evening to go for a cycle up The Cut. None of us had the time to go for the full fat, cycle from Port over there, do The Cut, then cycle version so we arrange to meet in Rosenallis and go from there. I picked Rory up from his new lodgings in Port, strapped his bike to the back of the car along with my own and then set off to meet Mark who was waiting (and waiting) for us over there.

After arriving in Rosenallis we all set about a rigorous warm up regime, i.e. we stood about chatting for a few minutes while getting shoes, helmets etc on. Once we were all mounted up we set off at a very agreeable pace, a nice gentle preamble to the (potential) horrors that lay ahead. After about fifteen minutes of a leisurely cycle through the Laois countryside on what was a beautiful sunny evening we made a left turn onto the narrow road that winds its way up through the Sliabh Blooms, relentlessly climbing for a good 7.5km.

Thanks to the incline the pace wasn’t quite so leisurely any more, there was definitely some sweat being spilled, but it was still an agreeable pace. While none of us said we wanted to go at x km/h or y pace we were moving at a speed that suited all of us, no need for posturing or dick swinging here. Every now and again we’d put in a short burst, just twenty or thirty seconds but enough to get us out of the saddle, get the heart pumping and the legs burning. The time seemed to fly by and soon enough we were almost at the top, though there was time for one last little effort that turned out to be not quite as little as I thought.

After a brief pause to admire the view and provide some nourishment for the local insect population we remounted and turned around for the downward leg. I’ve struggled with steep descents in the past, notably at Gaelforce West last year, but here the road was dry, reasonably open and you could see for a decent stretch ahead, so the three of us just got to relax on the way down –  chin down, arse up, no pedalling, just let gravity do its job and pretend to be your favourite lycra clad leg shaver.

After a glorious 7.5km descent it was back out on to the main road for a stretch before turning off once more to take on a slightly more circuitous return route that would give us one more short but steep climb to tackle. After that it was plain sailing and just a few minutes more until we were back at the cars, legs nicely stretched and a good, hilly 32km under our collective belts.


As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, one of my A races for this year is Gaelforce West. Wanting to do GFW is what started me doing all this running lark in the first place, and though I really enjoyed the race last year, and I was delighted to finish it, my over riding feeling was one of “could do better”. My belief that I had prepared myself sufficiently for the race, and in particular for Croagh Patrick (which I had semi-dismissed as just a big hill) was shattered on its rock strewn slopes and it very nearly got the better of me. If it wasn’t for the emergency can of coke and ham sandwich provided by my informal support crew I dread to think what sort of state I would have been in for the last part of the race.

So, with all that in mind, and with only twelve days to go to GFW 2012, I set out to do a dry run which admittedly was once again lacking in anything resembling Croagh Patrick, but had a principle aim of seeing how I was going to manage my nutrition and effort. I’ve never really raced using gels before – I grabbed one as an emergency measure towards the end of the Belfast Marathon and I used one at Race to Glory – but seeing as I was going to be out on the course at GFW for getting on for six hours I decided that they’d be the best option this time out. The GFW course is broken down as follows:

1 Stage 1: Beach, Trail and Road Run
You will get mucky and wet on the trail run.
2 Stage 2: Kayaking across Killary Harbour 
Your feet will get wet unless you are very very careful!!
3 Stage 3: Trail and Road Run
This section is running through a bog. You are definitely going to get mucky and wet.
4 Stage 4: Cycling 
There are steep sections involved in this route. When descending the steep hills please do so slowly so as to avoid an accident. There are sharp corners and small country roads on the route.
5 Stage 5: Mountain Run/Hike 
Croagh Patrick – the top section of this mountain has a lot of loose stones so please take care when on this section. There is a cut off time on the Reek – if you do not reach the transition here by 14.30, you will not be allowed to ascend and you will be short coursed back to Westport.
6 Stage 6: Cycling 
Always obey the rules of the road. There is an off road trail section that is 2 km long here. Once you come off this there is a steep downhill section on a small road. Please take care on this section and watch out for traffic and fellow competitors.You will cycle on to the end of Westport quay where you will drop you bike and jog to the finish

I don’t have access to a Reek, and I wasn’t planning on doing a kayak stage, but my plan was to do a 32km cycle, followed by a 20+km run around the woods, wearing exactly the same gear I was going to be wearing for GFW, using the same kit, same gels, drinks etc. and also not using my Sansa Clip (not allowed in the race).

The bike section was pretty unremarkable. The route is relatively flat, flatter than what I’ll be doing for GFW anyway, and really just served to get some time in and to practice getting gels into me on the move, which I think I might need a bit more practice at as I ended up with some slightly sticky hands and handlebars. I took (ate/drank/?) my gel with about fifteen minutes left on the bike leg and then ate half a Powerbar, em, bar, which was essentially just a Snickers with added biscuit. I came into transition then (once more, the back of my house), changed my shoes, finished off my Powerade, then stuffed the other half of my Powerbar, em, bar into me and started running.

By the time I’d passed the Credit Union (about 200m) my legs were feeling fine, which can be credited I think to doing quite a few brick sessions, or at least going for a little run almost every time I get back from a cycle. Up into the woods  and straight away I settled into an easy rhythm, trying to make sure that my pace was a couple of minutes slower a lap than normal. It was a beautiful day, sunny but not too warm and apart from a bit of tightness in various spots in my left leg I felt great. The woods were as busy as I’d ever seen them with tons of people out taking advantage of the good weather while we had it so every couple of minutes I was passing people, giving me a chance to work on my various running nods and salutes.

The first lap went by in 21:34, which was a little bit quicker than I wanted to go but I was keeping my heart rate right where I wanted (between 150bpm and 160). The second lap was a smidgeon slower but again my heart rate was staying nice and steady. By this stage most of the people I’d passed (some of them a couple of times, one couple three times) had left, which was a bit of a relief as I was really running out of ways to greet people or at least acknowledge them. By the third lap I’m not even sure if there were other people there as I’d really zoned out by this stage. Halfway round the second lap I had another gel, which was a little easier to consume on the run but still left me with horrible sticky fingers.

I’m not sure what other people think about when they run for longer distances or periods of time. I know a lot of people who are just starting running say they get bored and wonder how you deal with it as the distances get longer. Personally I don’t really think about anything. At all. Sometimes I’ll get a phrase stuck in my head and I end up just repeating it over and over, with slight variations, for kilometres at a time. Other times I’m just running and thinking, in the very loosest sense, about my breathing. Maybe that’s why I like running so much. I really, really struggle to clear my head at any other time and can often be quite neurotic about things, just running them over and over in my head, working through a million and one different eventualities and resolutions and responses. When I run long enough though there’s none of that, just peace and serenity (like my dad I’m a big fan of serenity).

Before I knew it laps three and four were done and everything was still going swimmingly. My feet were a little bit hot and sore but apart from that I felt fine. My pace had dropped a little, but so had my heart rate so effort expended was still roughly the same. As usual when I was coming towards the end of a run and still feeling good I started to think about going further, especially as I’d only taken my last gel at the start of the fourth lap, but told myself to be sensible. I was less than two weeks out from one of my biggest races of the year, there was no point in jeopardising that for the sake of a few extra kilometres. I finished the lap and turned left out of the woods, heading for home.

Just as I did that, despite the fact that the sun was still shining brightly, it started to rain. A little drizzle at first before getting quite heavy within the space of a couple of minutes. That really got me thinking about running further as I wanted to have myself prepared for the eventuality of it being miserable on the day of GFW but I wasn’t that far from home now and I’d passed 22km, which was right about what I wanted to do. Any longer and I’d be risking wearing or breaking stuff down that wouldn’t be recovered in time for the race. I got home not long after that and within two seconds realised going any longer would have been a really bad idea. As soon as I stopped I was sore, tired and hungry but absolutely delighted with the day’s work. Less than two weeks to go and I was in a far, far better place than this time last year and (hopefully) on course to knock an hour off last year’s time.


Bike: 32.56km – 1:09:06

Run: 23.10km – 2:17:05