Posts Tagged ‘PB’

What with trying to cram as many miles as possible in before Prague everything has been very slow of late. Lots of long, slow, low intensity runs which truth be told isn’t that much of a change for me. The only time I ever really run 5k/5 mile/10k pace is if I’m running a 5k/5 mile 10k which obviously isn’t a very well rounded approach to training or running, and is something I know needs to be amended. With that in mind, and the fact that I could really do with going out and just running hard, I signed up last week to do the Terenure 5 mile.

Both the 5 mile races I’ve run in the past have been quite frustrating affairs. Last year I ran Emo on Good Friday, expecting to go well considering I was in (for me at least) really good shape just coming up to Hamburg marathon. On a scorching hot day I went off way too quick and from 5k onwards it was just horrendous, leading to a very limp finish and me being really unhappy with it (not taking into account I was in the middle of a very big training week, had ran a 10k PB in the K-Club on the preceding Saturday and followed that up with a 20 mile long run on Sunday). I ran Raheny 5 in January of this year, wasn’t in great shape, hadn’t great prep, managed to shave nine seconds off my Emo time but really wasn’t happy with it because a late pitstop/emergency wee/break because it was getting too hard saw me miss out on sub 35 by 24 seconds.

Terenure I thought should be an ideal place to finally crack the elusive 35 minute mark but also just a chance to run hard, maybe blow off some cobwebs after Prague as despite that being a ‘training run’ my legs have felt just a little bit feeble since then. So with that I was up nice and early on Saturday morning, official photographer back on board after she missed Prague for ‘personal reasons’, and heading for Terenure with enough time to drop my car at my brother’s, stroll down to Terenure College for number pick up and get a nice long warm up in. I don’t know how many times I’ve gone out for a run and only felt good once I’m 5/6k into it, yet despite that I still generally don’t warm up near enough for races, so today I was actually going to do it properly for once.

Warm Up

Pre-race stretch

Which I did. 4k nice and easy around Bushy Park, some strides, stretches, I was finally feeling awake and my legs felt ok so it was time to head down towards the start line. Unusually for such a short race there are pacers so I positioned myself with the 35 minute pacers in sight with the idea of using them as a rough guide but running my own pace. I really didn’t want to make the mistake of going off too hard and then be blowing out of my bottom after a couple of miles. Considering the numbers in the race (just under 1200) the start was actually reasonably civilised. Raheny I know has more runners, and also has the added difficulty of starting in a very residential area, but the start of that race felt like chaos with people coming from all angles, up and down off footpaths, dodging parked cars. Here it was just a siren sounding and then off we went, down a nice straight road for a few hundred metres before hanging a left on to Templeogue Road, which felt at least like it was ever so slightly downhill, not to mention perfectly smooth so I decided I’d up the pace a little bit and sit in behind the 35 minute pacers.

Start

We turned left then at Rathdown Motors, the road returning to normal Irish conditions underfoot, wind in our faces and all of a sudden it didn’t feel quite so easy. Not long after that it was another left turn, on to Fortfield Road, and I remember thinking “not sure how much longer I can hang on at this pace, really starting to feel it in the legs now” so I looked at my watch and saw a distance covered of 2.64km. A third of the race! That’s all I’d done and already I was thinking about just hanging on. Balls. My head dropped a bit at that moment and I had a look around to see if there was anyone right behind me as I thought for a second about stepping off the course, then about slowing down. I didn’t think I’d be able to maintain my pace at all and started cursing myself “well of course you can’t run at this pace, you never train at this pace, what did you expect, this is stupid, I bloody hate this etc etc etc”.

Despite my little whinge session and a slight slowing the 35 minute pacers were still just in front of me, my legs hadn’t fallen off and I was still alive so I tried to close the distance to them without using too much of what little energy I had. I edged gradually closer and before I knew it we were back on Templeogue Road and starting the second lap. My 5k split popped up on my watch shortly after showing 21:20, which would actually have been a 5k PB for me if it had been a standalone race. I was momentarily buoyed by this before the worry re-emerged “If you’re going at 5k PB pace then you’re going too fast for a 5 mile. You’ve made a balls of this. You’re going to completely blow up in the last 3k. No way you’ll sustain that”. Thankfully we were on the quickest section of the course, the running was a little bit easier and I could trick myself into thinking I still had plenty in the bank, especially as I had caught right up to the 35 minute pacers just as we came up to Rathdown Motors again. Convincing yourself that you can carry on hurting for another fifteen minutes is a lot easier when the hurt has dissipated due to ideal conditions.

Turning that hard left corner really stalled what momentum I had though, which in turn massively dented my confidence. Its true that its easier to run quicker when you have a target just ahead to aim at, but it’s also somewhat of a soul destroying experience when that target just keeps inching further and further away. By this stage I was having the full on little devil on one shoulder saying “let them go, just ease off, slow down, do it some other day” and the little angel on the other shoulder saying “come on, keep it going, it’s less than ten minutes to go, bit of pain for eight minutes, you can do that, you’ll be sickened if you don’t break 35”. Shortly after that I looked at my watch again to see 6.6km gone, really hoping to see a bigger number than that, which caused another momentary down turn. I honestly felt like stopping at that point, really just wanted it all to be over, but made a little deal with myself to forget about the watch, fix my eyes on the heels of the 35 minute pacers just up the road and try to keep them in sight. If I did that then there was a good chance I could just about squeak under.

I felt like I was slowing down horrendously at this point. My legs were leaden, my stride felt really short but not particularly quick, the only saving grace was that I seemed to be going quicker than most of the people around me at that point. I was hoping and praying for it to end as soon as possible, kept thinking I must be almost there, I could hear the PA so must be almost home, and then I saw a sign saying 400m to go. 400m! 400 bloody metres. For God’s sake, who keeps dragging this thing out? Surely it should be over now? Oh for feck’s sake. It seemed like an awful long way to go but at least it meant that the end was nigh so I girded my loins, contorted my already twisted features even more and poured out everything I had left.

Finishing straight, with my own phalanx of female bodyguards

I’d heard the PA say a while back 34 minutes on the clock but I knew I had a little in the bank as I was quite a few seconds after the gun crossing the line but now she was saying 35 minutes. At last I could see the finish line so one last staggering surge and I was there, coughing, spluttering but across the line, the contents of my stomach just about staying where they were but more importantly a time on my watch that started with 34!

A couple of seconds later when I could actually focus and see it said 34:50 I was absolutely overjoyed. The pain and misery of the last few minutes instantly melted away and was instantly replaced by relief and satisfaction. So this is how you’re meant to do it, this is how it feels to be rewarded for your efforts. Prague was an enjoyable experience, and was satisfactory in that I achieved what I set out to, and it was important for me to go out with a plan in mind and stick to it, but there was always the whole ‘just a training run’ thing at the back of my mind. Today was different in that I was actually going out to test myself, and it’s a pretty nice feeling coming out the other side knowing you’ve passed.

Aftermath

 

While I’m here, I have to say a few words about the race organisation. That was probably the most well run and efficient race I’ve taken part in. Number and t-shirt collection took literally a minute, no faffing round at the start line waiting for people, nobody going off course, straight through at the end for post race refreshments (including really tasty coconut water), all centred around the beautiful grounds of Terenure College and all for just €20. That’s why I love races organised by running clubs. No nonsense goody bags or unnecessary expense. Really great work by Sportsworld Running Club (and they had the cones in, banners and barricades and all the roads back to normal by the time I was walking back to my brother’s).

 

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It’s almost time to taper for Hamburg, but I wanted to get in a couple of races before I started doing so for numerous reasons – to sharpen up, to inject a bit of pace, to push myself but most of all, when I was targeting these races anyway, was to try to race myself into shape. After missing a week of training a few weeks ago I still harboured some reservations, and fears, that I’m not there in my marathon preparation. I think everyone probably feels that way, even if they’ve been doing 100 mile weeks and knocking out PB’s left and right. I’d picked the BHAA K-Club 10k to do as by all accounts it was very flat, fast, local, but most of all apparently featured the best post race spread to be found anywhere on our fair isle.

Based on the lovely, intermittently sunny week we’d been having, I decided this was the time to crack out the vest and short shorts for a race, so naturally when we got over to Straffan it was dull, grey, windy and a bit chilly. After a decent warm up though I was good to go, and lined up against easily the skinniest, most serious looking field I’d ever been a part of.

Still wondering if I'd chosen the right attire

Still wondering if I’d chosen the right attire

At the start I probably went off a little too quick, first km was about 4:15 – 4:20/km pace, but even at that everyone went flooding past me. I kept thinking “run your own race, run our own race” but I did get swept along a bit. I settled down then to run 4:20 – 4:25 for the first few kilometres with occasional quicker surges. After about 2km I was at the front of a group but made the effort to get across to the next group and sit on their back as it was quite windy and I didn’t want to be at the front, copping all the wind by myself.

Ready, Steady...

Ready, Steady…

 

.... Go

…. Go

The course consisted of 1km out of the K-Club, two loops of 4km and then 1km back in. The first loop was fine, going substantially quicker than I do on any training run, but it felt controlled. On the second lap I was expecting people to drop back a bit and for me to catch more people, but it was a very strong field, and most people seemed to have paced it well. I pushed on anyway from 5-7k, managing to pass a few and felt strong. From 7-8k then it just felt really hard – stomach churning, lungs burning a bit, legs getting heavy, oh I need a piss, I’d really like this to be over etc. I saw a gate then and made a split second decision to stop for that piss (and welcome break) which was a bit stupid as (a) I don’t think I really, really needed one and (b) now I had to run even harder to re-pass a bunch of people. 8-9km was spent re-passing those people and I felt great. I knew as soon as we entered the K-club there was a nice little downhill, but even on that my legs didn’t seem to be turning over any faster. I’d passed a guy on the downhill that I’d traded places with a couple of times over the last 3km, but now on the short uphill he came past me again. The finish was a horrible up, round the corner, round the corner again type jobbie and it nearly did for me. If it had been a straight line I would have been fine but even just the extra effort of turning two corners had me almost coughing/puking all over the place a stride or two before the line.

A study in serenity (trying to ignore the pain)

A study in serenity (trying to ignore the pain)

I was happy to see 44:03 on my watch when I finished, a PB of over 2:40, but then I was a little miffed that I didn’t sneak in under 44. 43:xx would have been amazing, far beyond my expectations even though it’s only a few seconds quicker than what I did. My chip time ended up being 44:07, but despite it being four seconds slower I wasn’t axtually as frustrated about not breaking 44 minutes. Until I remembered the not absolutely necessary pit stop! Balls. At least I know that there’s probably a 43:xx there, especially considering this was towards the end of my biggest training week to date, so definitely not done on fresh legs. Overall I’m delighted with it. Training is going well, I’m posting substantial PB’s and that’s just off marathon training, and not anything specific so I really couldn’t be happier with how everything is going.

Oh and everything I was told about the (relative) opulence of the spread laid on in the K-Club is true, it was ridiculous. So ridiculous in fact that I had to leave there after half an hour for fear of returning home from a race substantially heavier than when I was going there.

Six days removed from Belfast Marathon, and one day from the Darkness Into Light 5k, I lined up this morning to do the Kildare Half Marathon. I probably wouldn’t have done them all in such quick succession but I’d deferred the Half from last year when I was injured. Next year if I’m looking for an early season marathon I’ll definitely do Kildare seeing as it’s (a) right on my doorstep and (b) really well organised, especially in relation to Belfast. Also doing the Half today was my wife Brid, who was attempting the distance for the first time. She’s been consistent in her training though, gradually building her long run up to a longest of 18km, so I know she’ll get round fine. She had however rejected my offer of pacing her round, which I think she may have gathered to be at least half a ruse on my part to get round at a more relaxed pace. She also, for some reason, doesn’t like me shouting (encouragement) at her when we run, which may also have played into the decision.

The weather this morning was thankfully a lot more pleasant than in Belfast last weekend – sunny, clear skies overhead and temperatures just about reaching ‘warm’. It didn’t really feel like that when we got out of the car on the Curragh though as there was a really strong breeze blowing. Actually, I think breeze may be doing it a disservice as when we opened the car door it was nearly pulled off by the wind. We had very little time to think about it, or indeed anything else, as due to the proximity of the race to home I had naturally left it to the last minute to leave. In fact we had so little time my poor wife, who had been so conscientous in her hydration, was now at bursting point, and faced with massive queues, approximately five minutes before race start. I on the other hand, being a man, can piss just about anywhere, and after a short trot over to a fence on the way to the start line, and was then good to go.

Just before we started I spotted a couple of lads from town I knew (Paddy Hyland and Johnny Dunphy), so stopped for a chat. Paddy was running his first half, and was hoping to get round in under two hours. Although I didn’t have a particular target in mind, especially off the back of the marathon, I was hoping to get round in about 1:50. As the race started I suddenly decided to push that and try for 1:45, so set off at around 5 mins/km. The first couple of kilometres were across the Curragh, and though it was still really windy being in such a large group meant it rarely bothered me too much. Well, that and some crafty drafting.

The Curragh, and Kildare in general, is well known for being flat, and the only slight hill on the course was dispensed with at around the six kilometre mark. By that stage the wind had really dropped and we got to feel the full effects of the mid-day sun. I grabbed a bottle at the first water station which was at the top of the hill and held on to that bottle of cold, wet goodness for as long as it lasted. I had been quite relaxed about my buildup to the half, and probably could have done without the couple of beers the night before, and could possibly have gone to bed earlier. I knew that the water and feed stations on the course were frequent and really well stocked though, and would help ease my passage around.

I was really enjoying the run, and the conditions, still maintaining my pace without too much hassle, when at about the ten kilometre mark Paddy and Johnny came flying past me. I checked my Garmin to make sure I wasn’t crawling, did some quick calculations in my head and confirmed I was on about 1:45 pace. The lads were just way, way ahead of theirs. I said nothing and just let them past though as I had my music on, was doing my own pace and didn’t want to be dragged along doing anybody elses race.

I slowed for a second at the water station at 15km to grab a bottle and like someone had flicked a switch, everything after that just became a struggle. My pace dropped to about 5:20/km, which wasn’t a huge difference, but it was so much more of a struggle to maintain. We were just coming into Kildare town then and the lovely, flat, green countryside running switched to slightly up and down and around and crossing the road nadgery horrible running. The wonderful music that I’d so carefully selected this morning became loud and harsh and grating and I just stopped enjoying everything. It felt at the time like I was barely crawling along, but looking back at the data from my Garmin my pace really didn’t drop that much.

It wobbled a bit for a couple of kilometres as I had the usual little squabbles with myself, and my heavy, dead, aching legs, but I forgot about my own woes as I noticed someone on the road ahead really struggling. There was a guy ahead who was really wobbling and wavering from side to side, despite being supported by another couple of guys, one on each arm. He was trying to drink some water at the same time, but started to stagger, and then was helped onto the ground at the ide of the road by the two runners with him. A couple of spectators who were there ran to offer their help, and as I came alongside there was already five or six people there, calling for help and trying to look after him. He looked to be suffering in the heat, burning up and really dehydrated. I didn’t stop as there was already enough people there offering help, and realistically what could I have done only stand there getting in the way, so I kept going. Momentarily.

For whatever reason, seeing him like that, coupled with the struggling in my head and my legs over the last couple of kilometres, caused me to grind to a halt. I just stopped running and walked for ten or fifteen metres. Thankfully I saw sense almost as soon as I started walking and shook off whatever self pitying malaise had crept over me. I started to run again, then tried to run faster, and then a little bit faster again. There was less than two kilometres to go, I could even see the finish, so the sooner I got this out of the way the sooner I could relax. A few minutes, and quite a few grimaces, later, it was done and dusted and my third race of the week was out of the way and my third PB posted. The finish time of 1:50:28 was a little bit slower than I’d have liked but it was as much as I could do under the circumstances.

After the race I bumped into a ton of people that I hadn’t seen in ages, which meant a load of time spent standing round chatting, which then meant my planned stroll to my car to get Brid’s gear turned into a run that was probably as quick as parts of the race. I managed to make it back in time to see her finish in a very respectable 2:29, and then, as if the day couldn’t get any better, we got goodie bags from the race’s main sponsor, Woodies, which included paint brushes, gardening gloves, and the piece de resistance, duct tape.

What a day!