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Running Aimlessly Down Under - From 54 to 53 sec 400m



  • Mulberry wrote: »
    I don't have a lot to add (except my sympathies!) - you've analysed it very well yourself.

    I've watched a few of your race videos now and I've never seen you race like you did on Sunday. It was so clear that this was your first (or one of your first) opportunities to race to win (or medal, whatever), and you ran in a way that was very much out of character for you. Looking across your lane like that? What was that about?! I was shouting at you on YouTube!

    Well I'm sure you've learned your lesson.

    Interesting point re medals. Personally, I like the medals but for me it's all about (a) my time - showing improvement based on the training I've put in and (b) beating my opponents. e.g. if you'd have given me silver on Sunday but a pb vs gold and a slower time I think i'd have taken the silver/pb.

    However, lots of masters athletes LOVE their medals. The club loves them too. Each to their own is what I say.

    Also interesting re masters not turning up for Seniors events. The reason I don't enter senior races is because I'm a lot slower than them, I'm in the w45 category after all. (Having said that I might have entered this year despite that, if I'd been organised, the le cheile meet also, I'm just not in the habit of it.)

    Anyway, I think you should be happy with the excellent training you put in all season. You made a mistake on an important day, but you'll definitely learn from it, and the training you've done will stand to you for indoors.

    Onwards and upwards!

    (Oh and I look up every opponent's times, every time)

    I've no idea what I was doing. I didn't turn my head fully or anything, but I did make a slight movement to glance across. He put together a smashing race, and this was a result of the pressure he was putting on me. It happens to the best of us though. Remember Shaunae Miller-Uibo in the 400m at the Worlds in London? She was Olympic Champ the year before (with her epic dive that was way more fruitful and deliberate than mine), and was way ahead in London, looks up at the screen for no apparant reason with about 40m to go, gets her footing all wrong, stumbles, loses momentum and finishes 4th!

    The biggest mistake though was not cruising from 50 to 80. That's what ultimately caused me to hit the deck.

    This was the first time I have run in a race for more than just time in 6 years. The last time was the 2014 Senior 400m at the Victorian Country Championships. I finished 9th and missed the final by 0.15 and was gutted. But I ran 55.5 which was the second fastest I had ever run at that time, so that made up for the disappointment.

    When I say masters not entering senior meets, I don't necessarily mean Nationals. I mean things like graded meets and other fairly low key events. That are SOME masters you don't see from one end of the year to the next, until there are medals at stake, which is a pity IMO. There are others though who you see week in, week out.

    Lets hope we actually have an indoor season. It's hard to be terribly optimistic about it in today's climate.

    I need to get myself back into the gym over the winter. My local gym is opening back up again soon, but I'll have to become a member, rather than pay as you go, and there's a risk of that being money down the drain is we get more lockdowns. The home DIY stuff just doesn't cut it. I need proper squats and deadlifts back in my life again!

    Well done on Sunday. I caught your race while I was in the call room. Looked very strong and finished well.

  • It's an interesting point, whether Masters run non-Masters-specific events. Certainly any of the graded meets and NIA indoor events I've been at would have plenty of people over 35, but perhaps not many over 50. I did enjoy a chat with a St. Coca's athlete in his 70s after my last race on the track, but I suppose that would be rare enough.

    It would never have even occurred to me to enter senior track events, to be honest. I don't mind coming last, but the gulf in times at the events I've run, 800 and 1500, would be a bit embarrassing! Gradeds and Masters, yes - I find I can be reasonably competitive at the D grade and in my AC!

  • Chivito550 wrote: »
    It happens to the best of us though. Remember Shaunae Miller-Uibo in the 400m at the Worlds in London? She was Olympic Champ the year before (with her epic dive that was way more fruitful and deliberate than mine), and was way ahead in London, looks up at the screen for no apparant reason with about 40m to go, gets her footing all wrong, stumbles, loses momentum and finishes 4th!

    Miller-Uibo was actually who came to mind when I was reading your report. I was at the stadium that night about a third of the way down the finishing straight and she looked so comfortable and in control I was trying to work out who would finish second. I couldn't believe it when she stumbled.

    With respect to your own race the main thing is that you seem to have learned from it. Racing against others is a different skill to racing against the clock and like any skill you have to practice it to get good at it. Hope you get a solid block of training in and that there is an indoor season where you do yourself justice.

  • Clearlier wrote: »
    Miller-Uibo was actually who came to mind when I was reading your report. I was at the stadium that night about a third of the way down the finishing straight and she looked so comfortable and in control I was trying to work out who would finish second. I couldn't believe it when she stumbled.

    With respect to your own race the main thing is that you seem to have learned from it. Racing against others is a different skill to racing against the clock and like any skill you have to practice it to get good at it. Hope you get a solid block of training in and that there is an indoor season where you do yourself justice.

    Agreed. It's a different skill. I just wish I had more opportunity to practice it. There's not enough senior athletes at my level in sprinting in Ireland. Sometimes I get great competitive races (where I'm still predominantly racing for time), but many times I'm towards the back in senior races. I'm really good at running my own race in these scenarios and have run PBs in races I've come last in many times. But it doesn't help me in these scenarios. I think I was more race hardened in Australia than I am here. I was in competitive races a lot of the time there and would have certain people I'd see regularly who I'd be determined to beat. That hasn't happened enough here.

  • Round up of the National Combined Events to follow, but a quick recap of the Morton Live. Truth be told I wasn't really up for this one, and was actually looking forward to the pentathlon the next day much more. Seeing the weather forecast it was hard to get up for this, and there really was nothing at stake as a result.

    Temperatures were chilly and the headwinds on the home straight were strong, which ruled out any hope of a good time over 100m. Having invested so much emotionally, mentally and physically into the previous two weekends (Nationals and National Masters) it was too much of an ask to bring the same level of investment to this one. But I had paid my entry fee about a month ago so decided to just run it, as who knows when the next race will be.

    100m - 13.10 (-3.6)

    I was drawn in lane 10, with nobody in lane 8 and 9. I may aswell have been running a solo time trial, I was so far removed from the rest of the field. The heats were drawn before people actually checked in, which probably was easier in terms of organisation, but there were always going to be people who didn't show up. If it was earlier in the season I'd have been pissed off, but I wasn't up for this race enough to get frustrated by it.

    Overall the race didn't feel great, but that's because I was running into a really strong headwind, and was so far away from the rest of the field that I couldn't really see them for much of the race. I was sort of going through the motions. Having said that, my time corrects to 12.67 with zero wind, which is exactly what my wind assisted 12.45 corrects to too. So it was around the level I've run at this year. It just always feels much worse when into such a strong head wind.

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  • After the disappointment of the National Masters, I made a last minute decision to compete in the M35 Pentathlon at the National Combined-Events Championships, and got my entry in just before the deadline. I wanted to finish the season with a bit of fun after what had happened in my 200m race.

    When I lived in Australia I completed the senior decathlon at the Victorian Multi-Events Championships on 3 occasions (2012, 2013 and 2014) and are among my fondest memories in the sport. My best result was 2,903 points in 2014, with the vast majority of my points coming in the 100m, 400m, 1500m and Long Jump.

    I then did the National decathlon in Ireland in 2014, and while I had some great laughs doing it, I decided after that to finish up attempting decathlons.

    However, now that I'm a master, the prospect of a pentathlon is a lot less intimidating than a full 10 events, so I decided, given this would be the end of the season anyway.

    Conditions were nice. It was a sunny day for the most part, and temperatures were nice at around 15 degrees. There was a stiff breeze however.

    There were just 2 in my category, so a medal was guaranteed provided I finished. Not a hard medal to win, but the day's work itself was anything but easy.

    3 days in advance of the session I did a long jump and shot putt session with the club as it's been a long time since I've tried either, so I needed to remember a few aspects of each event.

    Long Jump: 4.46m (308 pts)

    There was an element of fear trying the long jump. Back in late 2015 I decided to train specifically for it, with the hope of going over 5.50m in 2016. I ended up tearing my groin one evening, which resulted in 7 weeks without any running, and 3 months before I was back training properly, which pretty much destroyed my indoor season. I've been too terrified of it to try it since.

    Before this, I used to do a lot of long jump competitions, probably about 20 in my life. I've never had any problems in competition. It was the actual training that caused the issue. So, the session last Wednesday was to help me get over my fear and bring back confidence, so that I wouldn't be entering the competition with fear. It worked.

    I wore my sprint spikes rather than my long jump spikes, and I just focused on running fast and jumping, rather than doing anything funny with my hips on take off (which was part of the cause of the injury). Lower risk, lower reward, but I was ok with that.

    My 3 jumps were as follows:

    4.39m (+2.9)
    4.46m (+1.8)
    4.46m (+3.7)

    The second was probably the best jump. The first one I was way before the board and the third I was reaching for the board. I was probably reaching a bit on my second attempt too.

    I held a narrow lead over my competitor for most of the competition, but he managed a 4.53m in his last jump, so overtake me. It was the only event of the 5 that we were very close in. I knew, given hurdles were next that I was never going to have a realistic chance of beating him.

    110m hurdles (99.1cm): 24.93 (74 pts)

    In all my previous decathlons I never attempted the hurdles. The fear of falling was paralyzing. However, now that I'm a master I don't need to attempt the 106cm ones anymore, but rather the next highest. 99.1cm (or 3 ft 3 inches in old money) is still ridiculously high, and I had pretty much written off my chances of getting over them, and I was probably going to DNF them again and accept the 0 points.

    But the stubborn side of me couldn't let it go. I got to the track early, and before my long jump warm up, I put a hurdle by the pole vault mat and tried to jump it. The mat was my security in case I fell. I got over it ok. I then asked one of the competitors (a M40 competitor) for advice, and he encouraged me to try it on the actual track. I had a lot of fear but I got over it comfortably. I did this a few times, and now I was considering giving this a go.

    However, I needed to know I could get over 2 or 3 hurdles in a row before I could be confident about attempting 10. In my warm up I got over 2 a couple of times, then I attempted 3 and was successful, and I had figured out a rhythm in between the hurdles that would ensure I wouldn't run into them. This consisted of a stride pattern of 7 small stuttery steps. The goal was to get over the hurdles, so I was happy to sacrifice running quickly between them.

    I kept the runners on, as at the speed I was going at, there was no added benefit to having spikes on, and I wanted as easy a landing after each hurdle as possible. I knew having cleared 3 in the warm up that I could do this, if I kept the head and didn't get distracted and stayed concentrated on one hurdle at a time. The concentration needed was intense. One lapse and I could be on the floor. I cleared each hurdle fine, but grazed the 9th hurdle withe sole of my foot. The hurdle didn't fall or anything. I got over the final hurdle fine and roared before I even finished, and then fisted the air as I crossed the line. Finishing this and getting over a crippling fear was very satisfying. I was absolutely buzzing afterwards.

    The wind reading was -4.3 but at the speed I was going at, I doubt it made too much of a difference! Having said that, I still felt quite gassed after the race.

    My 110m hurdles PB is slower than my 200m PB. I'm sure I am part of a select few that can say that!

    Shot Putt: 6.27m (278 pts)

    As is often the case with shot putt I performed better in my practice on Wednesday night than I did in the competition. In practice, I got all my throws out to around 6m and beyond, with one being around 6.30m. However in competition, I only got one solid throw out, which was my first, which went out to 6.27m. This should have been a platform to bigger throws, but I got my technique so wrong for the second and third attempts and could only manage 5.65m and 5.45m. Still better to get one solid one in than none.

    High Jump: 1.31m (276 pts)

    I hadn't attempted this is 6 years, so not knowing how good or bad I would be I sold myself a bit short and went in at 1.10m, which was far too low, but I didn't want to get 0 points. I ended up easily clearing the following heights at the first attempt: 1.10m, 1.16m, 1.22m, 1.25m and 1.28m.

    I then cleared 1.31m at the first attempt, although I grazed the bar on the way over. I had 3 attempts at 1.34m with my final attempt being the best, but I don't think I was close enough, and I was feeling tired by this stage. Given I was in at such a low height I wasn't getting much rest between jumps, as I was the only one jumping til we got to 1.31m, and I didn't want to hold up all the senior decathletes.

    This was an equal PB, the same as what I managed in Melbourne in 2014. Was happy with how this went.

    1500m: 5:36.76 (381 points)

    All masters from the 3 categories (M35, M40 and M50) were put together for this, so there were 11 of us racing. I put on the distance spikes for this, the first time I have worn them since the London 2017 media 800m.

    By this point my body is in bits. The 4 events have taken a lot out of me. I had no idea what kind of shape I would be in. Back in 2014 I ran two 1500s at the end of decathlons and ran 4:52.06 and 4:53.84. I was training for 400m then and was very aerobically fit. I didn't expect anything like that now, but from looking at the points calculator a 5:20 or so would get me over 1400 points overall, so that's what I wanted to run.

    I got out well and to my surprise I was in the lead for the first 250m to 300m. It felt ridiculously comfortable and I covered the first 300m in 60 seconds, at which point 2 lads come by me. Looking back to my reports to the aforementioned races though, I covered the first 300 of those in 52 and 55 seconds respectively!!

    I'm on for 5 minute pace here, but once a few people went by me it became clear that I wouldn't be sustaining this, and things started to hurt a lot more. A good 4 or 5 went by me in the space of a lap and I was now settled into a comfortable 6th of 11 which I held for the rest of the race.

    I didn't keep splits but when I got to 900m in I was at 3:20. I incorrectly thought I was at 1000m in and still thought I was on for 5 mins flat. When I got to the bell and saw 4:05 or so I was then very confused. I couldn't understand how I got my maths so wrong!

    I was really suffering and was not enjoying this at all. I got a shout out from one of the heptathletes at 450m to go, and got a shout out from my coach, and this all helped. I wanted to up the effort on the last lap but I was hating every second of it, the spirit was weak, and there was not much to gain from doing so. All hopes of 1400 points were gone, and I hadn't a hope of beating the guy ahead of me in the pentathlon.

    With about 50m I could hear a training partner, who was in the M50 category, get close to me. Initially I tried to kick to stay ahead of him, then said to myself, "ah feck that, I don't care if he beats me". Then a second or so later I realise he's not closing fast enough, and I kick again to make sure I stayed ahead of him in the final 30m, and did so by about a second.

    I threw myself to the floor and was in agony for a minute. After that I recovered quite quickly. I can't say that it was a 100% effort. It was probably more like 90%, and I could have maybe got another 5-10 seconds out of it, but I struggled mentally with the distance just as much as I struggled physically. The aerobic fitness of my 400m days is long gone that's for sure!


    I finished with 1,317 points overall, with the following breakdown:

    1500m: 381
    Long Jump: 308
    Shot Putt: 278
    High Jump: 276
    110m Hurdles: 74

    I was a good 600 or so points behind the guy ahead of me. Way too much ground lost in the hurdles to make it a contest going into the 1500m, which he ran 4:57 in anyway.

    My body was put through severe punishment over the course of 6 and a half hours, and I was beyond shattered for the rest of the day, and every muscle in my body was in agony the next day, and I still have some DOMS, 4 days on. Combined-events are tough, but since my time in Australia they've always had a special place in my heart. I thoroughly enjoyed this event. It was a lot of fun, and it was great to meet some new people and have the craic in the process of competition. Multi-eventers are a sound bunch!

    I'll definitely consider further pentathlons in the future, but the timing of the events need to suit. If they are too close to the likes of Nationals or other important races then I'll be giving them a miss. The timing this season was perfect as it was literally the last meet, so there was no risk at all really. There were no further competitions to risk missing.

    Overall, a nice way to end a weird but rewarding season.

  • That pentathlon that the AAI put on for masters men is a strange event. The standard event for masters outdoors is still the decathlon. World Athletics and World Masters Athletics also recognise an outdoor pentathlon for men, but the events are completely different to the AAI version - it's LJ, Javelin, 200, Discus and 1500. How would you fancy that combination?

  • Oiriallach wrote: »
    That pentathlon that the AAI put on for masters men is a strange event. The standard event for masters outdoors is still the decathlon. World Athletics and World Masters Athletics also recognise an outdoor pentathlon for men, but the events are completely different to the AAI version - it's LJ, Javelin, 200, Discus and 1500. How would you fancy that combination?

    Yeah, it's strange alright. Also odd that AAI don't allow hurdles for over 50s and so they do a quadrathlon.

    Hmmm, I think that pentathlon wound suit me better. I'd score a load of points in the 200m, WAYY more than my high jump. My javelin would be bad, but it would still be at least double my hurdles points. My discus would score about 50 points less than my shot putt. Overall, this pentathlon would suit me so much more.

    EDIT: Plugged my LJ and 1500 scores from weekend into calculator, put in seasons best for 200 and estimates for discus and javelin based on prior performances and I'd be at around 1600 points, almost 300 more than this pentathlon.

  • When I get a chance I'll do up a review of my season, now that the dust has settled and the emotions have died down. But for now, as is traditional after I finish a season, here's my nerdish list of competitions I've competed in throughout 2020, both indoor and outdoor.



    Pre-season PB: 7.80

    1) 8.19
    2) 8.21
    3) 8.06
    4) 8.05
    5) 8.04
    6) 8.02



    Pre-season PB: 12.18 (+1.8)

    1) 12.67 (-1.1)
    2) 12.60 (+1.4)
    3) 12.45 (+3.2)
    4) 12.69 (+2.9)
    5) 13.10 (-3.6)


    Pre-season PB: 24.87 (+0.9)

    1) 25.84 (+1.2)
    2) 26.30 (-1.6)
    3) 26.00 (-2.1)
    4) 25.68 (+0.1)
    5) 26.01 (+0.8)


    Pre-season PB: 4:52.06

    1) 5:36.76

    Long Jump:

    Pre-season PB: 4.95m

    1) 4.46m

    High Jump

    Pre-season PB: 1.31m

    1) 1.31m =PB

    Shot Putt

    Pre-season PB: 6.75m

    1) 6.27m

    110m Hurdles (99.1cm)

    Pre-season PB: N/A

    1) 24.93 (-4.3) PB

    Pentathlon (M35)

    Pre-season PB: N/A

    1) 1,317 Pts PB

  • Now that the disappointment of National Masters has faded, I can look objectively at my season.

    While my times were not as quick as I hoped this summer, the COVID-19 restrictions made training normally virtually impossible. I did my best to work around the challenges of having no gym access for 6 months, no track access for 3 months, and having to train solo, but there's only so much you can do. There's just no substitute for a normal training environment.

    What I'm happy with:

    1) Training harder than I have since 2017 (see below)
    2) Running 25.68 season's best for 200m at Nationals, the biggest meet of the year. It's always satisfying to run well at Nationals.
    3) Getting under 26 seconds for 200m twice to bring my total to 44 times sub 26, bringing me closer to my goal of 50.
    4) Indoor feels an age ago, but running so consistently over 60m after a shocking first couple of races. 8.06, 8.05, 8.04 and finally 8.02.
    5) Dropping my weight from 75kg in winter/indoors to 71kg.
    6) Getting in 10 races (from 8 meets) and a pentathlon, when so many naysayers were writing off the entire track season back in March/April.
    7) Staying motivated over such a long period. Usually there's 2 months between end of indoors and start of outdoors. This year 4 and a half months! That was challenging.
    8) I have a couple of medals which, while not hard won, are nice momentos to have from all the training in such a rotten year.
    9) Getting over my fear of long jump (due to previous injury related to it) and high hurdles (general crippling fear) by successfully competing in both at the National Combined-Events Championships.
    10) Being properly motivated again towards my athletics. I was always highly motivated up to and including 2017. I lost it in 2018 and it only came back mid way through 2019. I've been very motivated since. I genuinely worried back in 2018 that I'd never get it back.

    What I'm not happy about:

    1) Getting beaten for 3rd place in the M35 200m at National Masters by 0.05 of a second, getting my race execution all wrong, and falling badly while crossing the line.
    2) Two of my 200m times were 26.00 and 26.01. This is very frustrating as I could be a lot closer to reaching my goal of 50 times sub 26. I could have been 4 away from it, but instead am 6 away from it, and it makes it a much bigger task to hit that target in 2021 now.
    3) Narrowly missing out on sub 8 seconds for 60m for the first time since 2016 when I was coming back from an awful injury.
    4) Not getting the opportunity to compete in Leinsters and NI Masters in my first year as a masters athlete.
    5) I'm not particularly satisfied with my 100m results. 12.45 was my fastest wind assisted time, and 12.60 was my fastest legal time. This was a big drop of 0.42 from my 12.18 PB set last year. Over 200m I was only 0.32 off my 2019 season's best despite it being double the distance.
    6) I found the season a bit emotionally draining. You just couldn't relax and plan anything with any sense of confidence or security. Every race had to be treated as your last race, as there was always that anxiety that lockdowns and restrictions would appear out of nowhere and the entire season would be pulled at a moment's notice.
    7) The structure of the season was tough too. Usually I would race on weekends only and the races would be spaced out enough that you could train in between them. This year my first 7 races were on top of each other, within the space of just 16 days, meaning I was just racing and recovering. Then I had a big gap before the conclusion of the season.
    8) 6 months out of the gym has had a negative impact on my explosive power, which would explain the drop in 100m times this year. I did sessions at home, but with a lack of equipment, it just wasn't the same, and I ended up hating it, so the sessions became more and more infrequent as I got closer to competition season. Some gyms did open back up around July from memory but by that point I felt it was a waste of time, as I didn't fancy going through all sorts of DOMS so close to competition, and without my local gym allowing non-members in, I'd have had to grind out a 20 minute drive to and from a Flyefit and deal with the hassle of making bookings in advance etc. It sort of takes the joy out of it.
    9) My consistency was not good enough during winter training leading into indoors, for the third winter in a row. This is becoming a challenge for me, as I struggle for motivation early on and have to balance training with lots of distractions in November and December. Those distractions probably won't exist this coming winter though with Covid, mind you.

    Masters disappointment

    My National Masters disappointment is well documented, but with the benefit of hindsight the time I ran wasn't as bad as I thought. I was just 0.33 down on my time from National Seniors, and had to contend with a very strong headwind on the bend, which wasn't the case at Seniors. In real terms, my performance wasn't really that far off. I just got the pacing wrong, and the legs buckling were a result of running right to my limits too early in the race. I'd love to know what I would have run had I got my race execution right. It may have only been a couple tenths faster, but that would have been enough to take third place of course. The Gowran AC athlete ran a 1 second PB, so you've got to hand it to him. If I had run to my best, it still would have been very close thinking more about it.

    Training numbers

    This has been a season like no other, and I'm delighted to have got a meaningful one in. The below highlights how much training I did in 2020 relative to 2017 and 2019. Of course the season went on for 6 or 7 weeks longer than usual so that has to be acknowledged, and the intensity of many of the sessions weren't as high due to not being in gym and being away from the track for 3 months, which allowed me to train more as I didn't need as much recovery time.

    All sessions:


    2017: 104
    2019: 73
    2020: 64

    Spring/ Summer:

    2017: 82
    2019: 72
    2020: 135

    Gym sessions:


    2017: 38
    2019: 15
    2020: 21

    Spring/ Summer:

    2017: 25
    2019: 17
    2020: 23 (only 1 in an actual gym)

    Running sessions:


    2017: 66
    2019: 58
    2020: 43

    Spring/ Summer:

    2017: 57
    2019: 55
    2020: 112

    Final words

    After my 2018 season I said I had to go away and dream it all up again. 2017 was my The Joshua Tree. I was in the form of my life over 100m and 200m and was consistently running fast times, which culminated in a 24.87 at Nationals. 2018 was more like Rattle & Hum, I was still running well, but well down on the highs of the year before, and growing a bit tired and fed up.

    2019 was Achtung Baby, a PB in the 100m aged 34, something I never thought I'd see again. 2020 ended up more like Zooropa, a very experimental season which I will look back on more fondly as time goes on. It's a season I'll never forget.

    For 2021, I'll try skip Pop and go straight to All That You Can't Leave Behind and hopefully have a few more beautiful days.

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  • Oh to be a Boy again.

  • So, I've had time to reflect on 2020 and what might lie in store for 2021. I'm in the middle of 6-7 weeks off and plan to start back training at the beginning of November. I'm finding it hard to see how an indoor season will happen the way things are right now. Indoors is so important to keep me motivated throughout the long winter, and it breaks up an otherwise long stint of training.

    I'm going to have to make the assumption there will be no indoors and be pleasantly surprised if there is, and treat it as a bonus. Back when I lived in Australia I never had an indoor season, and had 5 months of training over winter before I had my first race (though the outdoor season then went on for over 5 months). So, having a long winter with no training is not new to me, but it's been a long time since I've done this, and never in an Irish winter.

    My early goals will be to get strong in the gym and to get aerobically fitter. I'll also keep in touch with my speed once a week. The National Indoor Arena is now open for individual bookings, so that will be very welcome when the weather is bad. It's a bit of a game changer compared to what I was expecting for this winter (only being able to run outdoors).

    Usually November and December is full of distractions and trips away (Christmas markets in Germany being a fond tradition of mine). This winter could look very different, and perhaps the same distractions won't be there, so I'll be able to be more consistent this winter than I have the last 3 winters. The last time I had a truly great winter training cycle was 2016 going into 2017.

    We'll see how it pans out. I'd much rather there was an indoor season. Will keep the fingers crossed but I'm not overly hopeful.

    Now that my season is over, I've updated the table below to include this year's results. Hard to believe it's 12 and a half years since I ran my first race as an adult, the MSB 5K back in 2008, and it will be 10 years in January since my first sprint race on the track. It's been a great journey and I couldn't imagine my life with it now.

    1 Mile|||||||5:29.0h|||||||
    Half Marathon||1:49:06||||||||||||
    110M Hurdles (99.1cm)||||||||||||||24.93
    4x100m relay||||||49.36||||50.71||47.96|49.82|
    4x400m relay|||||||||||||4:12.20|
    Long Jump||||4.17m|4.32m|4.40m|4.83m|4.20m|4.95m|||||4.46m
    Triple Jump||||8.93m|9.28m|||||||||
    High Jump|||||1.25m|1.26m|1.31m|1.29m||||||1.31m
    Pole Vault||||||1.30m|1.40m|||||||
    Shot Putt||||5.67m|6.51m|6.21m|6.75m|5.95m||||||6.27m
    Discus Throw||||14.65m|14.17m|16.67m|16.59m|15.31m||||||
    Javelin Throw||||13.21m|10.83m|8.37m|12.05m|14.66m||17.53m||||
    Pentathlon (M35)||||||||||||||1317
    Beer Mile||||||8:19*|8:27|9:07|10:36|8:43.37|9:21|9:53|11:00|

  • This log was 10 years old yesterday, and today is the 10th anniversary of my very first track meet (excluding the ones I did in West Leinster and Leinster Schools) and my first ever sprint race.

    It's funny reading back on the below report. Some absolutely mental mistakes in there. Running an 800m in sprint spikes was bad enough, but attempting a 3000m race in sprint spikes was the definition of lunacy. I think I ended up with an injury within a few days making the following week's meet a disaster (running 15.53 in the 100m as a result) and I ended up not competing again for another 2 months. My commitment was very shaky in those very early days as I tried to get settled in Australia and was still in backpack mode. I could very easily have drifted away from it before I even got started. Thankfully I stuck at it.

    Been a great journey over those last 10 years with lots of amazing memories, and I've met lots of great people through the sport, both through competition and through the media.

    Not much to update on my end. I took 6 weeks off after the season ended and got back into it in late October. I made a deliberate decision not to follow any programme for the indoor season as I knew back then there wouldn't be one, and I'm happy with this decision and my judgement.

    I'm just ticking over at 70% four days a week (occasionally five days a week), keeping the fitness at a reasonable level and keeping the powder dry until closer to the outdoor season when I'll kick on.

    I haven't been doing any strength and conditioning at home. I can't bring myself to do sessions in my bedroom anymore, as it's already where I work and sleep!

    December was a great month training wise, as I got 4 sessions in the gym and 4 sessions on the Abbotstown indoor track. But now it's back to square one. The last few days the paths and roads are also way too icy for sprinting, so I'm taking this as a down week. I was at home for Christmas and went up to Marlay Park one day to do a session, and I ended up just jogging around for 20 minutes, as the grass was saturated and the paths were jammed with people. Without a gym and a track, sprint training is hugely compromised. No point denying it. Better to just accept it.

    I've no interest in running any outdoor winter track meets, if any of them even happen. It's too risky to sprint flat out in cold weather. It's all about the outdoor summer season this year, and there will be a season. If they could manage it in 2020, then they'll manage it this year.
    Pisco Sour wrote: »
    Ok so today I competed in my first track meet in Melbourne. Absolutely amazing day. As I havent joined a club yet (waiting until the new year starts on April 1st to do that) I competed as an invitation athlete of Richmond Harriers.

    I did a tough track sprint session on Thursday. It has been a long while since I have done anything like that and as a result my legs have been sore and stiff since then. I did everything I could think of to try loosen them up today but they remained stiff throughout the day. Maybe that caused some of my performances to be less than maybe what they could have been but its no big deal.

    I entered 4 events today: 200m, 800m, Long Jump and 3000m


    I finished 4th out of the 6 runners in my heat in a time of 28.2 seconds which I was delighted with. However I was told afterwards that there was a bit of a tailwind but the wind wasnt being measured today so I have no idea how strong it was. One official said that he didnt think it would be much over 2.5 so screw it I'm going to count this time as a PB anyway. I didnt feel extremely smooth probably because of my legs being stiff but I finished strong and pipped one guy from Richmond Harriers to 4th place, edging him out by 0.4 seconds. I was delighted until I realised he was 9 years younger than me :rolleyes: ah well. The winner of my heat ran it in 24.0 seconds. I would have prefered to run in a slower heat but I was in a rush to get to the start line for the 800m (which was being run in lanes 1 and 2, with the 200m in lanes 3-8) so I ran in a heat that was too fast for me and so winning the race was never an option.


    As it turned out I had about 30 minutes rest before I ran my 800m race. I ran in the 2 minutes 40 standard heat. I didnt feel too great early on and after 300m I was last of the 11 runners. I overtook one coming up to the bell and completed the first lap in 1:22. I finished quite strong and overtook another 2 runners to finish 8th and run a time of 2:44, even splits! Despite that I was a little disappointed as I have run 2:42 as a time trial back in Dublin, in road running shoes, and yet in a proper race here with spikes I couldnt go faster. I guess a combination of the hot weather, the stiff muscles and the fact I had run 200m probably took a little bit away from me. But still not a terrible run by any means.

    Long Jump

    I had a good bit of time to rest before the Long Jump and did some practicing and warm up on the other pit which was not being used. In the actual competition my first jump was 3.87m. Below what I expected for sure. Second jump I improved to 4.07m, and my third and final attempt improved once more to 4.17m. I was pleased with it to be honest. I have jumped 4.50-4.60ish back home but that was after about 7-8 attempts. Its a bit different doing it in a competition where you just get 3 efforts. I didnt stick around to see where I finished in my heat but I reckon I was about half way down the 10 or 11 starters.


    I dont know what I was thinking running this. My legs were in pain after the other three events so I was never going to be able to do myself justice here. I guess I wanted to get value for my dollar and get another event in. There were just 2 heats of the 3000m. I went in the slower heat which was basically a mass start type of thing with about 50 runners in it. Must be painful trying to keep track of how many laps each people have left. I settled comfortably about half way down the field. Cardio wise I didnt push myself as much as I could, but there was a reason. My legs were starting to feel the pain at this stage after my earlier exertions and so after 1500m I made a sensible decision to drop out. My time at the half way point was 6 minutes 40 which is well of what I am capable of running. It is the first race I have ever dropped out of and I was a little disappointed with myself for doing it but there was nothing much to be gained from plodding along to a time of 13:20-13:30 when I can run it close to 12 minutes dead. Besides I wasnt competing for any club so I couldnt score points for any team anyway.

    So thats my first track meet down here. Really enjoyable afternoon. It is so great to see so many people of all different ages and all different abilities take part together. Many people take part in as many events as possible just for fun. Some even competed in 7, 8 or 9 events today which is insane. Athletics Victoria and the clubs down here have really fostered a great culture of grassroots athletics. After seeing such a great event today it makes me very sad that in Ireland we dont have this. Back home if you are running 400m in 66 seconds there is no future for you. Here you simply run against others of your own level and you get to enjoy the buzz of running in a proper race and score points for your club in the championship standings. Maybe if we created such a thing back home that got moer of the average joes running 400m, 800m etc rather than just road running events then maybe our country would have much more interest in the sport of Athletics. Just a thought.

    The only disappointment today was the lack of electronic timing. Supposedly the track at Ringwood is one of the few that doesnt have it set up.

    Next weekend hopefully I will get to compete again. 100m and 400m being the priorities but sure I may aswell give a few of the field events a go for the craic. Haven't thrown a Javelin since my one and only attempt 13 years ago! No better time to have another go!

    I will update the thread when the official results are posted on the website and do a little analysis of where I ranked overall in each event.

  • If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice after that meet, what would you say to yourself?

  • Murph_D wrote: »
    If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice after that meet, what would you say to yourself?

    Good question, and the answer is I'm not really sure.

    I was only starting out both in athletics and a new country. I had no idea if I would like either and was just finding my feet. I had my eyes on a sub 60 400m, but I didn't know whether I'd end up doing sprinting, middle distance or jumping. I guess in those early days it was important to try everything. I guess after that first meet, I'd give myself some advice to stick with the training group and go to training regularly, and build into it slowly.

    At that time however, I had no idea how long I'd stay in Australia. I thought I'd just stay for a year, in which case I'd have got a few meets at the tail end of 2010/11 season, and then half of the 2011/12 season. It was only when I decided during the middle of 2011, when I decided I would do the regional work to get a second year visa, that I became more committed to the sport. I was still in backpacker mode for a lot of 2011 and did a fair bit of travelling, so I wasn't all that settled in Melbourne.

    If I could go back and change something it would be to join my coach and training group earlier. I did a few sessions early 2011 with them, but for the entire 2011/12 season I trained by myself and was self-coached, using an excellent 400m detailed document by Clyde Hart, Michael Johnson's coach. Until the end of November I was doing my regional work, so this wasn't an option. But after Christmas I really should have joined up with the group and slowly started gym work. Instead I waited until May 2012 to do both, so I could start them at the beginning of the next training cycle.

    I was fortunate to have such a great coach for 2 full seasons. If I had gone to him a half season earlier, I wonder would it have had an impact on how fast I eventually ran for 400m.

    I guess at the time, being self coached suited me, and I did make big gains in that first season.

    No regrets anyway.

  • So after 3 and a half months of unmotivated "ticking over" type training 4 days a week during the winter months, I started following a programme in February and kicked up the intensity of the training a couple of notches. I still trained 4 days a week but the sessions were much harder. The sessions were as follows:

    1) Alactic speed - e.g. 3 x (4 x 60m) with 30 secs recovery within sets, and 1:45 or 2:00 between sets.
    2) Plyometrics - using 12 steps in a public park including step sprints, double leg hops, double leg hops every second step, single leg hops, sideways runs, box jumps up steps
    3) Speed - Reps ranging from 30m to 60m fast with good recoveries
    4) Lactic endurance - On a gentle hill, sessions involving reps of 100, 120, 150, 180 and 200. Total metres run would range from 1000m to 1400m and would usually be over 3 sets (sometimes 2) with 7 or 10 mins recovery between sets, and jog back within sets

    Initially all these sessions were done locally, and then some sessions progressed to the track.

    I haven't been able to do any gym sessions because of you know what, and I can't bring myself to do core sessions in my bedroom anymore, so the plyometrics have been the substitute for gym work.

    City of Lisburn AC meet - Belfast

    First meet of the season last weekend, and my first race in 8 and a half months, an absolute eternity.

    Given the horror show of weather we had on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, we got fairly lucky on Saturday. It wasn't warm, but it was dry throughout and when the sun came out it felt warm. The wind also appeared to be blowing in the correct direction as far as I was concerned.

    100m: 12.57 (+0.8)

    I was in lane 6 and there were 7 of us in the race. I had one block session in advance of this race which helped get the rustiness out of my system, and it seemed to help, as I was pretty happy with how I reacted to the gun and got out on this occasion. The guy in lane 8 had about a 1m lead on me early in the race, but I closed marginally on him in the second half of the race, but couldn't quite reel him in. I could hear the lad to the left of me, but he never came up to my peripheral vision, and I managed to hold him off.

    I finished 4th of 7 in what was a very competitive race, in 12.57, which was faster than my legal season's best from last season. I was very happy with this for a first run out after an eternity away from racing.

    200m: 25.90 (-0.8)

    The 200m was 2 hours after the 100m, and during my warm up I was feeling fairly fatigued. Doubling up feels a bit more difficult as I get older. When doubling up I prefer the 200m to come first, as I find it easier to run a 100m when tired than I do a 200m.

    I was in lane 7 and got out ok, but was a little thrown off by how quickly I was up on the guy in lane 8. He ran 29.xx and I did not expect to be past somebody within a few strides. I felt my bend was quite laboured, but once I got into the straight I found my running and reeled in one guy ahead of me to finish 5th of 7. The wind unfortunately changed direction so I didn't have the benefit of a tailwind in the straight, though I didn't have a wind in my face on the bend so conditions weren't terrible by any means.

    I'm delighted to be sub 26 for my first race of the season, particularly when feeling fatigued after the 100m. It's my 45th time now under 26. Hopefully sub 26 can become a habit this season again, as I only managed it in 2 of my 5 200m races in 2020.

    The meet was fantastic. Other than a few tiny measures that you wouldn't really notice, it felt no different to any other meet I've ever run in from 2019 and before. The changing rooms were even open. Overall it was just so chilled, thankfully devoid of any of the OTT protocols we will see south of the border.

    Frankly, I'm intensely frustrated by the actions of AAI, Sport Ireland and the Irish Government of late, and the latest recommendations of 100 per competition is absolutely laughable stuff. I have absolutely no problem making the trip up North to compete in proper competitions, and looking at those who were there last Saturday, there are countless more like me. If I have to go up all summer to compete I will do so.

    After the competition was over, I walked 1.8 miles to a lovely beer garden where I consumed two delicious pints in a lovely setting, and had a bit of grub too. I enjoyed it so much, I've booked a holiday up there for a few weeks time, and I'll be able to enjoy the freedoms of an indoor pint and indoor meal.

    Next up, Belfast IMC meet this weekend.

    My races can be found at 1:18 and 3:20 on the below video.

  • You’re vaccinated, right? How much impact does that have on your thinking?

  • Murph_D wrote: »
    You’re vaccinated, right? How much impact does that have on your thinking?

    Absolutely none whatsoever. Other than the first few weeks in March 2020 when we didn't know anything about this virus, I've never been concerned in the least about transmission at outdoor sporting events, and the facts back that up.

    I wasn't vaccinated last year and I wasn't in the least bit worried when competing, and thought then too that the restrictions on such competitions were OTT.

    I suspect the majority competing last weekend and again this weekend from south of the border have not been vaccinated.

    EDIT: Those most vulnerable are our officials, who would be vaccinated by now. I frankly see no good reason for why we now have limits on numbers at half of what we had last year, a time when we had no vaccines.

  • I wasn’t really thinking about the competition. More about the indoor ‘freedoms’ you mentioned at the end there. I’m looking forward to those too, but I’ll feel far more comfortable about them when I’m fully vaccinated like yourself.

  • Murph_D wrote: »
    I wasn’t really thinking about the competition. More about the indoor ‘freedoms’ you mentioned at the end there. I’m looking forward to those too, but I’ll feel far more comfortable about them when I’m fully vaccinated like yourself.

    Ah right. Yeah understandable. I'm not fully vaccinated - just the first AZ jab so far, though my understanding is that provides the bulk of the protection.

    For me, I was comfortable with it all last summer and Christmas to be honest. Didn't act the bollocks - usually it was just myself and herself going out for dinner and drinks. A few times we met up with other couples for either brunch or dinner/pints, but I could probably count on one hand the amount of times, and that was in the summer, not at Xmas.

    Well and truly over it all now.

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  • Entries opened back in March for this. I had deleted the Twitter app for my mental health (all the Covid talk was doing my head in), and as a reward for doing this, I missed the announcement that entries were open, and they filled up in no time.

    Fortunately there was a drop out in the 100m about 5 days before the meet and I got myself in. No joy with the 200m as they only had one race for men.

    I wouldn't normally travel such a distance to race just a 100m, given 200m is my priority, but this was set to be a really great meet and I wanted to be part of it.

    Conditions were lovely. It really felt like the first day of summer. Temperatures in the high teens, sunny and only a light breeze, which unfortunately was blowing the wrong way as far as I was concerned, but all in all very nice conditions for racing.

    100m: 12.65 (-0.4)

    I was in lane 8 in the B race. I got a great start. It's not often I'm happy with my start but this was definitely one of my better ones. Most of the field were out of sight by mid way but the lad in lane 2 (who I caught in the closing stages in the 200m last weekend and beat by about 0.5 seconds) I started to see in the closing stages as I closed in on him. As I dipped I wasn't sure if I had got him or not. As it transpired I beat him by 0.01. Second week in a row he was well ahead of me and I caught him. He ran 12.27 (albeit with a +2.7 wind) last week, so on paper based on recent form, I really should not have beaten him over 100m.

    I was very pleased with the time. It's 0.07 slower than my time from last week, but it was into a very slight headwind. When adjusting both performances to 0 wind, this was a better run by 0.02, so have to be happy with that.

    Great meet. Mary Peters truly would make a great venue for Nationals and AAI Games. What a shame we are operating those events down here under such miserable conditions (test event status at Nationals notwithstanding). I stayed for 5 hours, roamed around, watched superb athletics (Phil Healy and Sophie Becker the highlight), had a few chats with various people. Overall a great day. Unfortunately down here our government have tied the hands of the likes of Dublin Athletics, who have to operate their event under such ludicrous restrictions. It takes the joy out of it. Athletics meets are about more than just running a race.

    Only complaint from Saturday was how slow the results were coming out. I didn't get mine for 5 hours and that was only because a good few of us pestered one of the officials for them. Bizarre, because it was a very well organised event otherwise.

    Next up is AAI Games in 2 weeks time.

    Race can be found at 1 hour 46 mins in here:

  • First competition south of the border for 9 months. The meet was spread over 2 days, so I was competing in the 200m on the Saturday, and two 100m races on the Sunday.

    For the first time ever AAI ran a track meet with the sprints being run with the wind. Full credit to the new chair of competitions for having the appetite to make these changes. It was greatly appreciated.

    Conditions were superb on both days. Around 20 degrees on Saturday and intermittent sun, and 22 degrees on Sunday with mainly cloud. Very warm conditions and quite humid.

    Technically we were supposed to warm up in a miserable grass area before going to the call room and then to the track for our race. Thankfully common sense prevailed, and we all ended up doing our warm ups on the track.

    200m: 25.40 (+4.3)

    With the uncertainty of how much track time I'd get before the race, I was fully warmed up only to realise then that I would get far more time on the track than we thought. There was also a delay in the start lists appearing, and I ended up in the 6th heat of 7. So my warm up went on way too long, and I didn't drink enough fluids given how much I was sweating in the warm conditions. Just as I was striding towards my blocks I felt a very light spasm in my right calf. I couldn't belief it. I felt sick. I decided to just go for it in the race, and if it happened again, so be it. Thankfully it didn't.

    I was out in lane 8 and was way behind everyone else in my heat. I was further behind one lad than I was recently so I assumed my time would be well outside 26, but as it transpired he ran really fast, and therefore my time was way faster than I thought. It's my fastest time in 2 years, and my second fastest time since my 2017 season when I ran my PB. It's also my 46th time under 26, so I'm creeping closer to that target of 50.

    I'm a bit baffled by the wind reading as it felt like a very calm day. Must have been some random gusts at times. Anyway, I don't get too bogged down with wind readings for 200m as it never tells the fully story.

    I was delighted with the time, and hopefully I can continue to improve on this.

    100m Race 1: 12.70 (+1.9)

    I was in lane 1 for this one and got a poor start and was disconnected from the field from the beginning. I was very unhappy with this time. It was 0.2 down on what I had run in Belfast in 2 races recently, when adjusting all times for 0 wind. I was frustrated I didn't take advantage of a legal following wind like that.

    100m Race 2: 12.38 (+1.7)

    I was in lane 7 for this, against many of the same guys, and I got a flyer of a start and drove really well. I knew immediately I was onto a good one as I felt in contact with the field his time in the early stages. I held my form well and was much closer to another lad this time than I was last time. I punched the air after I crossed the line knowing I nailed it, and expected a fast time.

    12.38 with a legal wind is the fastest time I've run in 2 years when I ran my PB of 12.18. Outside my 2017 season it's the 3rd fastest I've every run, and overall it's my 9th fastest time ever. Back in 2016 I ran 12.35 (+1.5), when I was 31, so 5 years on I'm absolutely chuffed to get so close to that time.

    Two Weeks of training now before National Seniors (which I'm opting to run in over the Northern Ireland Masters). The week after that I plan to compete in the masters at the Leinsters. That will finish off the first half of my season. I'll plan out the remainder of the season after that.

    Videos of my races can be found below:

    200m can be found at 6 hours 42 mins in the below:

    100m Race 1 can be found at 1 hour 44 mins in the below and 100m Race 2 can be found at 2 hours 53 mins.

  • That’s some improvement in race 2. Congrats.

  • My 6th time competing at Nationals Outdoors since 2014, with 2018 being the only one I've missed due to a cousin's wedding.

    A lot of my clubmates went up to Belfast to do the NI Masters, but for me, there was no way I could pick that over National Seniors, one of my favourite weekends of the year, and the event that gets my adrenaline flowing more than the rest. So many great memories and PBs set at the event down the years, that it will take priority for hopefully a good few more years to come. The clash was unfortunate, as I would love to have competed up North.

    I ran 100m on Saturday and 200m on Sunday. Conditions were a mixed bag. On Saturday it was quite chilly at around 12/13 degrees, but the there was a tailwind. Sunday was much better at around 16 degrees and again with an ideal tailwind, blowing at the best angle possible for 200m.

    100m: 12.48 (+2.6)

    My start wasn't brilliant, and I got beaten by 0.23 by a lad I had pipped in a 100m race recently up in Belfast. That said he ran much closer to his best on this occasion, so in that form, I was very unlikely to beat him. Would have liked to have been a little closer though. Overall, I was reasonably satisfied. I was 0.10 down on my time from AAI Games, albeit with an illegal wind. I found I was being pushed forward a bit during the race. That happens to me with illegal tailwinds sometimes.

    200m: 25.58 (+2.5)

    I was initially put into lane 8, which I was licking my lips at, but I was then bumped to the dreaded lane 1. No point getting upset about it. I knew I was in good shape and could run well from any lane. I told myself that lane 1 outdoors is still better than pretty much every lane indoors. Donore lad was in lane 2 so I just tried to keep him in my sights as best I can. He ran 24.4, so he dragged me along well. I didn't see any of the other lads at all once, including Leon Reid. When in lane 1 in a race like that you can feel disconnected, but thankfully I had the guy in lane 2 to stay relatively close to.

    I was delighted with the time. It was 0.18 down on AAI Games (which had a stronger tailwind), but 0.10 faster than Nationals last year. It's my 47th time under 26 seconds, so I'm inching closer to that 50. I could have had it already had a couple of 26.00 runs gone my way, and I didn't insanely skip the 200 at Leinsters 2 years ago when conditions were perfect, in order to prioritise relay races that nobody seemed to care about as much as me, and in which we had no competitors. Anyway, hopefully I'll reach that target by the end of the season. It's been a target I've thought about for maybe 3 years now.

    Next up is the Leinsters in Carlow this weekend, where I'll run 100m on Saturday and 200m on Sunday, both as a master on this occasion.

    100m race in following video at 10 mins in:

    200m race in the following video at 46 mins in:

  • GET IN! One of the best weekends I've had in athletics in quite a long time at the Leinster Championships in Carlow. Firstly, 12.30 (+2.5) for 100m yesterday, fastest time in 2 years, 6th fastest time ever, and just 0.12 down on my PB, albeit with the wind a little over the legal limit. Then today, 25.16 (+0.3) for 200m, my fastest time in 4 years, and the 5th fastest I've ever run. Still 0.29 down on my PB, but just 0.08 slower than my second fastest time I've run. Definitely didn't expect that, particularly given I was feeling very jaded in the warm up. Makes all the grind through multiple endless lockdowns worth it. :)

    Will do a short report when I get a chance.

  • Congrats - great when it happens!!

  • Leinster Championships - Carlow

    *new site doesn't allow headings for posts 😕

    Quick recap on this meet from over a week and a half ago.

    Conditions were ideal. There was a tailwind all weekend, with it blowing from the perfect angle for 200m. There was a threat of rain and thunderstorms, but thankfully I got away with it on both days, with the heavens opening about 1 hour after my 200m on the Sunday. A nice bit of good fortune there. Conditions were reasonably warm too, in the high teens from memory. New track too, so overall a nice opportunity to run fast.

    100m - 12.30 (+2.5)

    M35 - GOLD (1st of 1)

    M35/40 - 1st of 5

    My race - 2nd of 7

    All masters - 3rd of 19

    I knew going in that I was the only entry in M35 for both events, which was disappointing. As a result I was guaranteed 2 gold medals. To justify these medals, I felt I needed to run well, and beat as many people in the M40 category as possible. I was in lane 8, and a lad from Fr Murphy AC was in the lane beside me. He had beaten me by 0.17 at AAI Games 3 weeks earlier. I hoped to hang onto the back of him to run a fast time. Over in one of the middle lanes was the Gowran AC runner who pipped me in that infamous 200m at National Masters last year, when I fell over the line. He's in much better shape now, so knew he'd be tough to beat this weekend.

    The Fr Murphy AC runner false started (not for the first time!), and as a result I was left out isolated in lane 8. I ran my own race though, quite unaware of what was going on elsewhere. As I dipped I knew it was close between me and the Gowran runner. I only saw him in my peripheral vision at the very end. As it turned out I did enough to hang on by 0.03 of a second. I was happy to beat him after such a disappointment last year. Very nice guy, and both of us are running away better than back then, but the competitive side of me wanted to get a victory over him, to make amends for last year.

    I was delighted with the time. It's my fastest in 2 years, and my 6th fastest ever, albeit with a slightly illegal tailwind. I was also happy to beat all the M40 guys, albeit one of them due to a false start.

    200m - 25.16 (+0.3)

    M35 - GOLD (1st of 1)

    M35/40 - 3rd of 5

    My race - 3rd of 5

    All masters - 5th of 15

    I was unbelievably jaded during the warm up. Probably the most tired I've ever been leading into a race. I slept well, but I was physically tired from the day before, and mentally drained from so much racing. 3 out of 4 weekends, with all 3 meets involving racing on both Saturday and Sunday. I didn't expect to run much better than a mid 25 given how I was feeling.

    I was out in lane 7, with Fr Murphy athlete in lane 6, and the Gowran lad in one of the middle lanes. There were 2 other M40 guys in the race. I got out quite well, but the Fr Murphy lad was up on me quickly and as I entered the bend I'm probably 4-5m down on both him and the Gowran lad who was having a stormer. As I hit the straight I started to motor and started clawing back them back. I got quite close to the Fr Murphy lad but I ran out of track, and finished 3rd in the race. I knew by how close I was to him that it would be a fast time. Gowran won in 24.61, which is a huge improvement on last year, Fr Murphy second in 24.89, and I was third in 25.16. This is the fastest I have run in 4 years. I was beyond chuffed. It's also my 6th fastest run ever (4 times faster in 2017 and once faster in 2016).

    This is one of the best weekends of athletics I have had in the last 4 years (only the Drogheda IMC where I ran my PB in 100m 2 years ago rivals it). I really feel I peaked well for it. My weight was 69.9kg and 70.1kg on the morning of each race. This is the lowest I've been on race day since 2017 I suspect (though I haven't kept track religiously).

    Now I'm back into a block of training and getting back into the gym for first time in 6 months, before another block of racing at the end of July.

  • A couple of meets to update on very briefly (this new boards site is so bad that it basically has discouraged me from actually using the site very much being honest).

    Graded Meet 4 - Tallaght

    200m - 25.84 (+1.8)

    I usually don't run gradeds, but given the weather was so good, there were forecasted tailwinds, and I'm so close to 50 sub 26 200m, I thought this would be a good opportunity to grab one. It wasn't a brilliant run, and I don't enjoy racing on weekday nights after work, it was very much a case of job done. My 49th time under 26 seconds.

    AAI Summer Games - Carlow

    200m - 26.01 (-1.4)

    It was a scorcher of a day just like Wednesday, but unfortunately the wind was the worst type of wind, a headwind for the entirety of the 200m - blowing at the worst angle you could ask for. I thought I ran well, but was very disappointed and frustrated to miss my goal of 50 sub 26s. It will have to wait another week. I can take heart from the fact I nearly managed it despite running into a headwind for the entirety of the race. It was 0.85 down on my race 3 weeks ago on the same track, but on that occasion I had the perfect wind, with it at my back most of the way. You win some, you lose some.

    100m - 12.84 (-0.2)

    The wind reading was pure nonsense as everyone's times were so slow. A lad who ran 11.9 recently, ran 12.37, which put my 12.84 into perspective. I was 0.54 down on my best for this year. The wind felt outrageous the whole way.

    Have drawn a line under yesterday, and it's onwards to NI Champs in Belfast this weekend.

  • NI Championships - Belfast - July 31st

    Amongst the non-stop Olympic viewing and the awful new boards site, I haven't really bothered coming on here, so I forgot to update on my most recent race from 2 and a half weeks ago, at the NI Senior Champs in Belfast. Conditions were OK from memory. It rained a bit in the warm up but dried up before the race, though the track was a bit damp as a result. Temperatures were around 19ish from memory, and there was a bit of a headwind on the bend, but nice tailwind on the straight. I was seeking my 50th sub 26 200m. I was fairly sleep deprived leading up to this meet as I was up til all hours watching the Olympics, and the rowing medals on back to back nights kept me up til ridiculous hours. Overall, I averaged about 4-5 hours sleep over the 16 days, and got only 4 actual proper night's sleep. However, I got 2 really good solid night's sleep the 2 nights before the race, so I felt good heading up. I decided to skip the 100m to focus solely on the 200m.

    200m: 25.55 (+1.1)

    Very happy with how I ran this. I was in lane 6 and had lads in lane 5 and 7 that I tried to stay as close to as possible. Felt I ran well under 26 but you can never be sure. In the end I was well under it. I was 0.39 down on my season's best, but my third fastest time of the year out of my 7 200m races. More importantly, it resulted in the achievement of a goal I set around 2018/2019 when I found the PBs were drying up and I needed other goals - to run 50 times under 26 seconds. I'm thrilled with this. My first was 8 and a half years ago back in January 2013 in Melbourne, a 25.62 clocking. Granted there were a couple of years in there when I didn't really run many 200m races, but regardless, this is a very long term target that's been achieved, which is quite satisfying.

    I'll have to think of a new long term target. Perhaps 100 times under 26 200m and 57 400m combined. I'm currently on 87 (50 times sub 26 and 37 times sub 57). That's quite a bit off at the moment and will require another 13 times under 26 to achieve the goal, as I'm long finished with 400s.

    Took a down week and a half after this race and just tipped along. No point training hard when sleep deprived from the Olympics. Now I'm back in hard training. My next and last meet is National Masters on 5th September. I had hoped to get one tune up race before that, but sadly the few meets that are available don't suit as they clash with pre-made plans.

    My race can be found at 3 hours 8 mins into this video:

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  • National Masters Championships - Santry

    After last year's disaster at my first National Masters, where I fell over the line and was pipped for bronze in the 200m, I was determined my second time taking part in the event would be a happier occasion, irregardless of the results.

    I had planned to run the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay, but once I saw the timetable, I decided to change to 200m, 400m and 4x100m relay. The 100m was on before the 200m, and I wanted to be fresh for the 200m. I also felt I potentially had a chance at challenging for the medals in the 400m. I went back and forth on whether to give it a go, before trying a 2 x 300m session with 8 minutes recovery, 7 days beforehand. My splits were 44.0 and 44.8. These were the first 300m reps I had done in a very long time. I felt maybe, based on these splits, a 57 was possible, so I decided I'd give it a go. I was a nervous wreck all week any time I thought about the prospect of running a 400m. I hadn't properly run one in 6 years and 1 month.

    It was a warm day, and it was quite breezy during the 200m. But by the time of the 400m and relays, the sun had gone in, the wind had died down, and it was almost like being indoors, it was that calm.

    200m - 25.71 (-1.7) - 5th place

    I was drawn in lane 2 and there were 6 of us in the race. There were 2 lads that I expected to take gold and silver, with myself and 2 other lads contending for bronze, with the 6th place guy much slower. As it transpired one of the guys I thought would be around my level ran a huge PB and actually split the 2 favourites, and almost took the gold. I felt I ran as well as I could in the conditions. The wind was at my back on the bend, and it was quite strong in the straight. I was pleased with the performance and with the time considering the wind. I was a bit disappointed to only come 5th, but I would have needed to be on my season's best time to get 4th, and very close to my PB to get bronze, neither which were realistic into that headwind.

    400m - 57.71 - Bronze

    I had 3 hours recovery time after the 200m, but was feeling quite tired before I started my warm up, so I made sure not to overdo it. I was drawn in lane 8, and there were 6 of us in the race. At the time I thought it wasn't a great lane draw, as I would be running blind, but in hindsight it allowed me to run my own race. Feidhlim Kelly was in lane 4 and was the clear favourite, and the lad from Monaghan inside me in lane 7 (who was one place ahead of me in the 200m) was a 56 second runner. The other 3 lads were in the 57/58 second range, and I felt I could take them. That said, you have no idea what kind of big PBs people may run on the day, so I tried to play down my expectations.

    I got out well, and went hard for 50m or so before settling into a cruise down the backstraight. I expected the lad from Monaghan to come up on me, but he didn't pass me until 200m into the race. It was at this point I realised that I may be onto a good one here. Feidhlim ate up the stagger on me on the first half of the final bend, and at this point I am trying to stay as close to the two of them as I can, with no idea what's going on elsewhere. I up the effort levels with 150m to go, and as I am about to enter the straight, my curiosity got the better of me and I took a very slight glance inside me and I saw nobody which gave me great encouragement as I started to hurt. I know I shouldn't have done this, but the pure fear of being in lane 8 in a championship race is something I can't quite describe.

    Once I hit the straight it's empty the tank time. About 50m to go and I can feel I am hanging on. My legs are like lead, my hips feel tight, my balance doesn't feel as steady as it could be. I'm willing the line to come and hoping to God somebody isn't finishing like a train as I would not have been able to respond. My club mates told me after that I held my form really well and looked comfortable. Funny as it didn't feel remotely like that. Thankfully the line came and I hung on quite comfortably by about 0.9 of a second. As I crossed the line I let a roar of delight out. It wasn't planned, it was very much an instant reaction. I was absolutely thrilled. I then threw myself to the floor and was in agony for a few minutes and struggled to stand up after. I left absolutely everything out there.

    My time was 57.71 which I was thrilled with. It's 2.9 seconds down on my PB of course, but I haven't trained for 400m since 2015, and I've only run two half arsed 400m races since (an end of season graded in 2016 and an indoor race in 2019 when I was about 5kg more than I should have been for this distance). The inspiration for giving this a go was actually Cliodhna Manning from the 2017 Nationals. She was a 200m runner and trained as a 200m runner, and after being disappointed with a 200m race a week before Nationals, decided to enter the 400m. She won silver in the 200m, and then against all expectations came out the next day and beat everyone to take the 400m title. This kind of story made me feel it was possible to run well over 400m off 200m training.

    Fedihlim won in 54.3, with the Monaghan athlete second in a low 56. Fourth place was 58.6, with 5th and 6th not far behind in low 59.

    This is my first national medal in a sprint event. I'm under no illusions that it's considerably easier to win medals at masters level than at senior level. And within masters, the M35 is definitely a softer category than M40. But you can only beat who you're up against. This medal felt well earned and I'm absolutely delighted to win it. It feels more special that it came over 400m, the event that I spent 5 full seasons training for, the event I started off this sport in, from 2011 to 2015.

    I don't see myself going back to training for the 400m, but I do think I'll throw in more 300m rep sessions into my 200m training next year, and run a few more 400m races. It's good to keep my options open between 60m, 100m, 200m and 400m at championship events.

    4x100m Relay - 51.47 - Silver

    We did two practice sessions for this in the 2 weeks beforehand, and had a squad of 6. Thankfully our fastest 4 runners all got through the day without any injuries, so we had our strongest team available. I was supposed to lead off, but our coach ended up switching the running order around completely to account for fatigue. The race was just 45 minutes after my 400m, and given the recovery time and call room time, there was no time to warm up. So I made sure to stay standing and keep walking and moving. I was moved to the anchor leg which I was delighted with.

    There were 4 teams in the race: Ourselves, Craughwell, Galway City Harriers and Lucan. Our team was made up of a M35 (me), a M50, M50 and M60.

    Our first runner ran well, but the changeover was poor and cost us the best part of a second. We were third at the half way point, but then our third runner built up a good lead on Galway City Harriers in third. The changeover between the third runner and me was good and I got the baton comfortably in second place but well behind Craughwell, and took it home for second place and a silver medal. There was talk that Craughwell would be disqualified as their second runner ran half the backstraight in our lane, but to be honest they were way better than us, and we wouldn't want to win in that way, so we didn't push for it. They deserved their win.

    So a great way to end a great season, and a considerably better experience than my debut National Masters last year.

    Race videos are below.

    200m at 3 hours 4 minutes

    400m at 6 hours 18 minutes

    4x100m Relay at 7 hours 3 minutes