Posts Tagged ‘Clonakilty’

Today was one of those days when everything just felt easy. Suspiciously easy almost. 20 miles clocked and it just felt fantastic. I probably went a bit too quick for a LSR (long slow run) but I just felt great. I was expecting to feel a bit tired after the K-Club 10k yesterday but I felt positively sprightly, right from the off.

Normally if I’m going for the long run by myself I’ll listen to a Joe Rogan podcast as it’s really the only chance I get to listen to a three hour podcast nowadays but an hour in and there wasn’t much more I could take about shamanic journeys, ayahuasca or forty year old man-childs so I went for some music instead. I stopped listening to music while running as I found it dictated mood or pace a little too much but after today I think I may reintroduce it on occasion. I stuck on Television – Marquee Moon (the album) as I was cutting across to Killenard  and as luck would have it Marquee Moon (the song) started just as I was starting up the hill on the way into Killenard, bringing memories of that hill and subsequent view in Clonakilty rushing back. The memories that came back weren’t just mental, everything that I was feeling in Clonakilty as I crested that hill came rushing back through me and I felt the most glorious mix of energy, elation, satisfaction, optimism and just general well being as I just flew up the hill.

I’ve ran this route loads of late with Paul and Mark and going up this hill I’m at best managing it, at worst dragging arse but today I’m laughing and skipping up it, having to tell myself to calm down and take it easy, there’s still another 20k to go. I really tried to keep the pace controlled and sedate but after a while I just thought “what the hell?” and ran as I felt. Running is meant to be fun, it’s meant to be enjoyable and not always about pace or time or mileage. This kind of day, where everything feels effortless, doesn’t come around too often so why not just enjoy it while I can?

I passed the point where two weeks ago I had to tell the lads to carry on without me while I shuffled along, today I was flying along, a minute a kilometre quicker and sprinting up hills just because I was feeling great (also because I was listening to Mastodon at this point).

At the 24k mark I called in home for some water and a gel (up to this point my only ‘fuel’ was a buttered coffee) and went back out for another 8k, expecting to slow down considerably. Except I didn’t. The pace remained the same, I kept feeling good and I could have, and would have liked to, kept going but sensible head time. I’m three weeks out from Hamburg marathon, I do not need to leave my race out here on the roads three weeks out, then spend the time I should be tapering just recovering. Nope, training is done now, the miles are clocked and what’s done is done. I was planning on doing the Sliabh Bloom half marathon on Easter Sunday but there’s no need now. I’m as ready as I’m going to be. Taper, rest, sleep, eat properly, hydrate.

 

Oh and obviously figure out what exactly I’m going to wear for the marathon.

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Seeing as my complete lack of preparation for Dublin City Marathon had paid off so well I thought I’d head into Clonakilty by doing even less. And having the greasiest chips known to man and a manky chicken burger as my pre-race, night before  meal. Not that I was really worrying about anything but one thing I certainly didn’t have to worry about was the weather. Despite being filthy and wet driving down last night this morning it was just as the forecast had predicted – crispy cold and without a cloud in the sky, which made for a pretty nice view on the walk up to Inchadonny House where the race was starting from.

Over There Somewhere

Inchadonny Strand 3

Inchadonny Strand 1

In fact the view was pretty spectacular.

Don't Want To Pull A Hammy

As usual I was as giddy as a kid on Christmas morning waiting to start the race, so giddy in fact that I hadn’t noticed I was back among the half-marathon runners until just before the off and I had to almost fight my way to the front.

Too busy posing to notice where I should have been starting.

Too busy posing to notice where I should have been starting.

After only about 50 metres of flat ground I got a hint of just what the Clonakilty marathon is all about as I encountered the first of the many, many hills on the course. I also saw one of the most unusual sights of the day – a young lady wearing just a bikini and a Santa hat helping to push a wheelchair competitor up the ridiculously steep hill. The narrow road was already quite congested and she almost caused a huge pile up with guys turning, and in some cases stopping altogether, to get a better look at her.

We ran past the beautiful Inchadonny Strand for a bit before heading out into the countryside, with the four hour pacers setting a fairly brisk pace. Despite my lack of preparation I decided just before the start that I’d go with the four hour group, but unlike in Dublin I’d stick religiously with them. However, unlike in Dublin these guys were motoring, generally hovering about the 5 mins/km mark, a bit slower on the uphills, a bit quicker on the downs. After about forty five minutes of this I asked the guys, jokingly, if they were aiming for 3:59:59 (we were on pace for about 3:40 if we kept up the early pace). They explained to me they were putting a bit of time in the bank as the second half of the race was “a bastard”. That was all well and good but my “easy from the start, wind it on a bit at the end” plan was completely out the window at this point, as was my heart rate. I was averaging about 165bpm, way above what I’d intended (about 150-155bpm), which meant I was burning energy/glycogen/stamina that I wasn’t sure I had.

It was such a beautiful day though, and such an amazing course, that I just tried to forget about it and thought I’d deal with the pain later.

We hit some really big hills then and I actually felt fantastic and began to drop the group I was with. Marquee Moon was playing on my mp3 player, building to a crescendo as I approached the brow of the hill and as I crested it I caught sight of the most beautiful white beach, the sun was a shimmering, white hazy ball filling the sky and the sea a glistening mass of crystal waves. At that point in time there was nowhere else in the world I’d rather have been, and nothing else I’d rather have been doing. It was a staggering, breath taking, wonderful scene. I honestly didn’t know this little island of ours was capable of such beauty. I practically crawled down the other side of the hill, looking out to sea, my jaw still on the floor, just taking it all in.

Not long after that we hit another hill, this time a much longer drag, but just in case I needed any inspiration my mp3 player flicked on to Freebird and I knew I had about six minutes to get to the top just before the really big solo kicked in. I got there just in time and came over the top of the hill just as the Allman boys went crazy, another amazing coastal view  and visions of  The Devil’s Rejects playing in my mind.

Going tearing down the other side of that hill might have used up just about the last bit of fuel in my tank though as suddenly my wheels just came off. For twelve miles I’d been with or just ahead of the four hour pacers, now it was beginning to be a real struggle even to stick with them. I managed to do it for another couple of miles but any sort of an incline, never mind proper hill, was really starting to wear on me. I tried to get my second gel into me but my stomach was doing somersaults and all I could bear was some water. I laboured on to the next water station at the fifteen mile mark where I planned to get a fresh bottle, really water down my gel and walk for a minute or so. As soon as I stopped to do that my calf muscles on both sides really tightened so I stopped to stretch them out. I tried to start running again after that and there was just nothing there. Absolutely nothing. There was still eleven miles to go and my tank was completely empty. Oh balls.

I eventually got going again but only shuffling. Mile twenty two or three shuffling, at just past the half way point. The next hour or two were not going to be fun.

I tried to forget about how early in the race it was, and ow slowly I was going, and tried to figure out just what was wrong. I know I hadn’t exactly prepared in a professional manner but I hadn’t done for Dublin either and that had gone fine. Maybe there was only so much winging it you could do when it came to marathons? Had I learned something earlier in the year about winging it? Obviously not. Well, if I hadn’t learned my lesson by now I was going to have plenty of time to think about it as I spent a couple of hours trudging around the West Cork countryside. To be honest though I was having a lot of trouble thinking about anything other than my churning guts. I wasn’t quite at the point where my lovely Race to Glory buff (pictured below) was going to be called into action as emergency toilet roll but only because the contents of my stomach were up around my epigolottis. How the hell was my stomach in such a heap when (a) I’d only had a couple of gels and (b) I was barely moving?

R2G

Trying to figure this out at least took my mind off the fact that the beautiful early morning sun was dissipating and it was now looking far more like a regular Irish December day, though thankfully at least there wasn’t a hint of rain. After quite a length by myself I spotted another sorry soul trudging along, so I decided misery might as well have company, and slowed my shuffle  to walk along with him. We walked the next four kilometres, a horrible, wet, dirty, shitty, cold four kilometres, together and even though we were walking it I didn’t feel too guilty as we were pretty much managing the same pace as the one or two others that were attempting to run up this horrible hill. Admittedly one of those others might have been in his sixties but still, he was barely quicker than us. I could take no more though when some white trustafarian type, who’s legs not only had less muscle content than the average kitten but were never seemingly moving in the same direction, overtook us. I bade goodbye to my shuffling chum and, churning guts bedamned, set off running.

For a bit. Minutes later I was in the hedge, heaving and desperately trying to empty my guts. Via my mouth I meant. Sorry, I just read that back and it sounded like I meant something else and it conjured up a horrible mental image. Anyway, I’d had enough lollygagging and loafing, and a marathon is meant to hurt after all, so I cranked up the death march and tried to pick off the few straggles that were left on the road with me. First the lady, then the guy from West Cork Tri Club who looked to be cramping horribly, then as I finally approached the finish the guy who was shuffling horribly, weaving a little and who looked like, even with only about half a mile to go, he was in danger of not finishing.

Perfect. As terrible and all as the last couple of hours had been, I could still overtake someone as I approached the finish and it would look like, at least to my wife and anyone else who might be hanging around the finish line, that I was finishing ‘strong’. I was gaining on him, only about a hundred metres or so back and with that last horrendous hill I knew he was mine, right up until I saw these two rosy cheeked little girls jumping up and down and cheering “Daddy, Daddy!”. His stooped, twisted frame straightened a little immediately but he still didn’t look as though he had it in him to go any faster. I picked up my pace just a smidgeon and was gaining on him, byt the tiniest margins, but gaining on him all the same, when some interfering goodie two shoes on the other side of the road shouted at the two little girls “run to your daddy, go on down to him”. Before I knew it those little bundles of joy were on him, jumping and prancing like a little pink My Little Pony that had been hewn in two and taken adorable, laughing, loving human form.

It would have been callous and underhand of me to rush past and steal his glory while he was so enraptured by his little ladies so I hung back a little, let him and his girls cross the finish line and have their moment in the sun, before skulking across a moment or two later, completely and utterly shattered.

It took some time, a foil blanket and the kind words of one of the many lovely Clonakilty ladies who volunteered on the day before I started to feel even remotely human. My wife, who’d turned in a magnificent effort in the half marathon and had a far more pleasant day than I, poured some sort of burger/sausage hybrid down my throat and after that, a large handful of jellies and a Lidl’s best ‘Snackers’ or two I started to come back to life. I wandered over to the finish line and spent some time cheering in the few hardy souls who were still out on the course, not to mention the chap in the wheelchair who I’d seen at the start, now sadly missing his bikini clad sidekick, who was dragging himself, inch by inch, up the last horrible incline to cross the finish line. Any element of still feeling a little sorry for myself quickly disappeared, and I remembered, as is the case with everything really, that you get out what you put in.

I heard a great analogy on the Marathon Talk from Australian marathon runner and multiple Olympian, Lee Troop – running is like a bank account. In training you make your deposits, and then when it comes to race day, you make withdrawals. Since about August onwards I’d been making withdrawls and today I finally went overdrawn. Sure there were other contributing factors but the fact of the matter is I didn’t respect the distance, I didn’t respect the race and I though, been there, done that, what were you worried about? When it came down to it though Clonakilty well and truly kicked my arse, so despite me cursing it for at least half it’s distance, and swearing never, ever to go back there, there’s now way I can leave it like that. I’m going to have to go back and give, what is possibly Ireland’s toughest, but definitely friendliest, marathon another go.

Trevor  Post-Race 1

 

Brid Post-Race

 

 

Anyway, how can you not love a race where the transport to the start is a model railway?

Race Transport

 

Cold, Wet, Dark

Posted: November 25, 2012 in November
Tags: , , , , ,

I don’t think it’s just down to the weather at the moment but I’m really struggling for motivation to go out running. I’ve got one more marathon to go this year (Clonakilty, 8th of December) and even that isn’t making me go out and train, in fact I’ve barely run at all since Dublin. I know I can run the distance, so there’s no fear factor, and I’ve no sort of goal or aim for it, so I’ve no driver there either.

On top of that I sold both my road bike and my cyclocross bike a few weeks ago so I can’t even get out for a cycle, either by myself or for the weekend club session with Trilogy.

I think the length of the season is catching up with me – my first race was on the 22nd of January this year – and I’ve really just been going through the motions for the last couple of months. Next year I really need to periodise things a bit better and take some breaks earlier in the year. I also need to be a bit more selective about the races I’m doing and wait until I’m certain that I want to do them before I go signing up for a ton of stuff. At the moment the only thing I’m already signed up for is the Connemara Ultra in April, which I kind of wish I wasn’t signed up for as I really want to concentrate on short course triathlon, but hey, what’s done is done and anyway, it’s going to give me one hell of a base.