Leader Of The (Mid) Pack
The Great Western Conn Job Resurrection - Week 6 of 18
Mon 24/1 - Rest
Tue 25/1 - 6.11 miles @9:59/mi
The next phase of the plan brought a return to long hill reps. So it was that I returned to Chapelizod, for my first time to tackle the West County hill in almost three years. In order to get the overall distance up, I shuffled back towards Islandbridge, before turning around opposite the Garda Boat Club. Straight into it when I reached the bottom of the hill. "Just" three of them today, over 500 metres in length and gradually getting steeper. Bit slower with the other reps, and not as quick as before, but that will hopefully improve. Cooldown to Anna Livia Bridge and back.
Wed 26/1 - 6.38 miles @9:08/mi
Early start again, for three stingray laps. I wasn't sure how I'd manage after yesterday's session, but nothing startling to report.
Thu 27/1 - 6.40 miles @9:09/mi
This was something that D and I had discussed during our Eir XC cooldown. With a race at the weekend, I was happy with my decision to replace the 2E/3 @10k / 1E with more stingray laps.
Fri 28/1 - Rest
Sat 29/1 - 2.95 miles @9:38/mi
Back to an old pre race run. 5 laps of Tír na nÓg (roughly half a mile a lap) with five sets of strides thrown in. All good.
Sun 30/1 - Raheny 5
I didn't think a PB was remotely realistic, but even so I was looking forward to hopefully not making a complete fool of myself, having skipped the Thursday tempo. I was still thawing out as I arrived in Raheny, having resumed my role as statistician with the Erins Isle hurlers this morning, and straight to St Anne's church from our match in Swords. I wandered down to meet my clubmates about an hour beforehand, only deciding later to ditch the creature comfort of the base layer. Scotindublin passed by me while I was stretching near the start. Warmup and strides on Wade's Avenue, before taking our places in plenty of time for the tribute to Pat Hooper. Talking to Lazare at the start, I said I'd be happy with a sub 35.
I'm not going with a blow by blow account of this one. The first mile was very slow, with the traffic seemingly heavier than in the other years I'd run this one. Yet even when it thinned out a bit for the stretch into the wind in Mile 2, I wasn't making a lot of progress - unlike in 2020, when I went on to PB. I could see a few clubmates up ahead, and from the two mile mark I was trading places with one for a bit. Somewhere along Mount Prospect Avenue, Marthastew passed me back, and I never got by her again. The 3 mile mark came and went, as we turned up the main avenue in St Anne's Park. A cousin who I didn't even know was running passed me here, and away he went too. On and on we went up the avenue, with more and more familiar faces coming down the other side. How long is this ? After we finally turned, some randomer said to me that we were 4.2 miles in already. It did feel like longer, even for training run standards. Nice to get plenty of shout outs along the way - much appreciated, even if I did have an apologetic look on my coupon as I passed (for example) FBOT and Laura. Fletch was around the corner from the finish, having finished an age before I got there. "Lisa" was getting shouts behind me from about half way, seemingly every two seconds. I should have known before I turned around, that it was the double parkrun centurion and Cabinteely RD, Lisa "Cru". 40:09 on the clock, 39:17 chip time.
Was I really that slow ? Not quite, as it transpired. That randomer was right, as depending on who you spoke to, the course measured anything from 5.25 to 5.35 miles. The turnaround point was in the wrong place - it should have been before the path leading up to the tennis courts. Very unlike Raheny to make a mistake like that, I have to say. I was more than a little annoyed at the time, yet over four hours later I'm looking at a bit differently. Had I missed out on a PB I would have been p!$$3d off, no doubt. Yet for what turned out basically a training run, I'll live with that. Also, even with the extra distance, it was still a quicker time than the cross country last week. Sorry if ye were expecting something a la Livia Soprano "I wish the Lord would take me now" 😀 It's another week in the bag, now a third of the way through, so still more than salvageable.
Probably something similar to this week, with the exception of the Trim 10. Thanks for reading! J.Post edited by Wubble Wubble on18
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Good luck in Trim J, channel the inner Angeball for the 10 miles1
Thanks C, had I seen this earlier, things may have turned out differently !
The Great Western Conn Job Resurrection - Week 7 of 18 - Stuffed With All The Trimmings
Mon 31/1 - Rest
Tue 1/2 - 6.12 miles @9:34/mi
February began with a reprise of last week's hill session. Even though it was fairly windy, I'd resolved to run a bit quicker overall. One very long stint into the wind, from the Garda Boat Club to the top of the West County Hill (1.9 miles approx.) Pace dropped on the second and third reps, but overall pleased to have completed another early morning session.
Wed 2/2 - 6.40 miles @9:05/mi
Kind of appropriately for Groundhog Day, I got three laps of the Ratoath stingray loop in to start the day (not at 6:00 AM though!) Bill Murray's a handy enough golfer btw, as those watching the PGA Tour pro-am this week may verify.
Thu 3/2 - 6.47 miles @9:11/mi
After a few beers before, during and after Celtic's easy win (hence C's Angeball reference above) I was himming and hawwing about whether to leave this one till later. Come on, get up and get out. Up through Clonsilla to Ongar, back down the long straight to Power City. I barely recognised Fletch as I passed him in the half light, shortly after I turned around. Similar to last week, this easy pace run replaced the 2E / 3 @10k pace / 1E on the plan.
Fri 4/2 - Rest
Sat 5/2 - 2.98 miles @9:09/mi
An old pre race shakeout, back to Tír na nÓg for five laps with five sets of strides thrown in. The wind was right into my face on the straight side of the triangle, where I ran the third and fifth sets. I wondered whether conditions would ease for Sunday, particularly while freezing during my first parkrun volunteering stint in over two years.
Sun 6/2 - Trim 10 Mile
Arrived very early to park at the courthouse, so one bit of stress taken out. Closer than the OPW car park, but still a fair bit from the race start and finish. Very windy, especially on the slightly uphill finishing straight. Noted. Nice chat with the ever smiling Marthastew (pacing 90 today, in advance of next week's Donadea 50) as well as a photo with some of the large contingent of Porterstown Panthers. I joined quick feet and new clubmate Rob G for a warmup, maybe half an hour before we were due away. I felt ok here, helped by my first bit of Deep Heat on the legs in about 20 years 😁
It seemed we were a long time in the pens before the start, but anyway, off we went, for my first 10 mile race since August 2019. That was the Kilcock 10 From 10, where I set a PB (1:10:31) which surpassed my 1:11:44 in their inaugural event the previous year.
I decided I'd start with the 70 min group and see where that took me. Downhill to start, left onto the main road and left again at the Lidl. I was somehow ahead of the group at this stage. It didn't last. Shortly after the entrance to the finish, they caught up, and after a brief half hearted attempt to stay with them, they eased away into the distance. I passed one or two back, but even with the advantage of the breeze, I was struggling as runner after runner left me trailing. Eventually we reached the village of Dunderry, downhill past the GAA club and left just before the four mile mark.
Miles 5 & 6
Straight into the breeze along here, with a few uphill drags into the mix. I was rapidly losing energy and interest, while being passed for fun. Getting a bit of water on board at 4 1/2 miles didn't help like I thought it might. I was just glad to turn out of the breeze and downhill, even if there were still over four miles remaining, and I was seemingly getting slower with every step.
There was a long straight with an uphill drag early in Mile 7, with the wind now side on, and hailstones for a few seconds, IIRC. Although we were on the way back in, it seemed the miles were getting longer. Few twists and turns through Cill Bhríde, where I took a badly needed pit stop before continuing. More water with about a quarter of the race remaining. No boost at all after that. There's a short but steep enough hill which brings you up to the 9 mile marker. I'd have raced up it when fit, but today I barely managed to put one foot in front of the other. I was feeling mentally and physically worn out, and the final kick came when the 80 min pace group caught and passed me, with about a kilometre remaining. Even factoring in how unfit I am, I'd said beforehand that I'd be happy with a sub 75 ! The finishing straight was brutal - one last stint into the teeth of the gale, with a bit of a hill added. I waddled over the line, feeling utterly dejected, after being passed by hundreds of runners - most of whom couldn't hold a candle to a fit me - in an extended spell of torture.
Time: 1:20:20 (1:20:03)
Category: 123rd M45
Scotindublin had at some stage last week decided to give this one a swerve. Looking back, maybe I should have followed suit. The 8L on the plan might at least have been solo, and hence a lot less painful in a way. Instead I'm left wondering how I'm going to run a HM (Carlingford) in four weeks time, without looking like I have my legs tied together. I might even skip that one, if I'm not making sufficient progress. Wifey asked me afterwards if I'd be able to run the Connemara race. 11 weeks to go. Be grand !
They say you should try everything once. Well I reckon that's it for me and the Trim 10 mile I'm afraid. Imagine missing my favourite BHAA cross country (Garda XC) to take this on. Yet there were some fine performances from folks on here, such as Lambay island, Dubh Geannainn and Bananaleaf (all of whom I missed) so it was possible to run well, even with the conditions as bad as they were.
More West County hills, with maybe my first time to try the 2E / 3 @10k /1E in this block. I'm also pondering running the BHAA Alsaa XC race next Saturday. If they'll have me back, that is 😄 Thanks for reading! J.17
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That's a pity J, Trim is one of my favourite races but it's by no means easy! I think you're slightly mad to think of racing again next week if Carlingford is the medium term goal. Which race will stand to you more for Con?! 😊1
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That sounded like a bit of a kicking for you alright. My final time doesn't tell the story for me though. I'd say I'd quite the miserable experience too.
But, my take away is I got a monkey off my back and hopefully a fitness boost for my effort but I've no interest in racing close to that distance again. At least this year. You'll have some gains too. Yesterday was just a dirty long uphill on your journey to Connemara.1
Thanks AM, it's certainly nowhere near as flat as some like to portray it ! Regarding Alsaa, that'll probably just be to represent the job - we didn't have a team in the Garda XC. There's no hills to be negotiated, but it's quite open, and the ground tends to be stickier than your average cross country course. As for Carlingford, it occurred to me after I'd concocted the update above, that there is an option to switch distance (which I did in 2017). Something I'm seriously considering doing again.
Fair play N, quite the change in distance for you, from 800 metres to 10 miles in the space of 7 days ! Sure that alone couldn't have been easy. Hope you're right about Connemara. Feeling a bit more positive after this morning.Post edited by Wubble Wubble on1
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Tough one J, chalk it up though as another step on the ladder back to full fitness.
One question - given you are still building up the fitness and in the knowledge from last couple of races that you have a way to go before you're back where you were, why start out with the 70 minute group?1
Looking back that seems like a strange decision all right. I reckoned running with a group might give me a bit more incentive to hang on and hence get a better time. What actually happened was that, from about 2 miles onwards, I was to all intents and purposes running alone. That stretch into the wind with the hills was dreadful. 80 mins would have been handy, no doubt. I seriously thought about pulling the plug on several occasions. However, I didn't want my wife worrying about me after I strayed way over expected finishing time (I'd sent her the link to results) and also I'd arranged to meet friends to watch the Dublin hurlers in Parnell Park. All that said, I made it through this morning's session relatively comfortably, albeit with a different approach than had I not "raced" two days prior. Onwards!1
The Great Western Conn Job Resurrection - Week 8 of 18
One of those weeks where I was glad just to be able to do this.
Mon 7/2 - Rest
Tue 8/2 - 7.07 miles @10:23/mi
The third of the West County hill sessions, with the number of reps increasing from three to seven. With it being so close to a 10 mile race, I turned down the power on the hills, with the aim of getting them done at a consistent pace. Had I gone at the same pace as for the three, the last few would have felt like a crawl.
Wed 9/2 - 5.96 miles @9:16/mi
Twice around the Carpenterstown loop, then two laps of the Porterstown tarmac path.
Thu 10/2 - 6.00 miles @9:12/mi
I started this one shortly after 6:30 AM - a cold and windy one, sans tights 😁 Very slow warmup miles to the far end of Laurel Lodge. The body was probably still waking up, which might to some extent explain why I had to work so hard to attain splits of 7:55 and 7:48 for the "@10k" miles. The plan as I set off was to match the 2E / 3 @10k / 1E on the plan. However, factoring in the above (also hills and a long race) I decided to ease off the throttle when I got back to Castleknock Road, instead of going back uphill (+ 23 feet) and into the breeze for a third "fast" mile.
Fri 11/2 - Rest
Sat 12/2 - BHAA Alsaa XC
I only decided to enter this on Friday, as my legs felt like they could handle this one. We didn't have a team in the Garda XC. Thankfully today we had the required three. I knew it would be long anyway, as the entry point into the bottom field had been changed from previous years. Not to worry, as I trundled around a warmup lap. I deliberately started slow and near the back of the field, for the second of the long (5 mile) BHAA cross country events.
Four and a bit laps, in and out of several fields. Nice to get some encouragement from Laura_ac, who had run the women's 2+ mile race before ours. It felt strange not running a cross country with the intention of finishing as far up the field as possible. Instead I just kept it fairly steady, even through the clumpy grass (see also: Cow Park) down by the abandoned throwing circle. Thankfully, although the ground here can be bottomless at times, on this occasion it was more than manageable. There was a chap following me grunting and snorting loudly for a lot of the first half. I was kind of happy to let him off, just so I wouldn't have to listen to that. I actually caught and passed a guy early on the last lap, running alone into the wind having taken its toll on him. On another day, I might have gone hard after G and the aforementioned grunter, as they (and one other) were certainly within range of my racing self on the last lap. No panic. Keep it steady. Finish it out. Couple of clubmates supporting on the finishing straight. Pick up the pace a bit, give the fans what they want and all that 😄 44:10, I later found out. Course was long by anything between 900 and 1000 metres, depending on who you asked. Today I wasn't bothered by that. I was just glad to get it finished, with warmup and cooldown bringing my tally to around 8 miles for the day. We won a team prize as well, so that's the entry fee recouped !
Sun 13/2 - 4.33 miles @9:56/mi
Easy, really slow recovery miles. Back to one of my parklaps routes, this time starting with Porterstown, working my way down to Tír na nÓg, and lastly a tour around M50 Park. In the bag, to finish off a mentally draining week.
The coming week brings us up to the halfway mark in the plan, as the hill reps max out, and there's another 2E / 3 @10k /1E tempo. Thanks for reading! J.Post edited by Wubble Wubble on12
The Great Western Conn Job Resurrection - Week 9 of 18 - We're Halfway There
Livin' on a prayer ? Maybe. Or am I that far gone that not even bad medicine will salvage the end goal ? Right, enough Bon Jovi.
It is my intention to say a few words only. Unfortunately, this week's training amounted to about five minutes. I arrived in Chapelizod on Tuesday night, and threw the car in the usual spot near the West County. The plan was the usual warmup, down to Anna Livia Bridge and back up, before eight climbs of the West County hill. I hadn't even crossed the first road before my ankle felt like it was going to collapse under me. I can clearly remember when that injury occurred - being propelled off a lump of clumpy grass into a rabbit hole on the first lap of the Alsaa race. Didn't bother me at the time, mind. Anyway, that plus I started getting these sharp pains in my knee. Less than a second in duration, but still. Probably something I can run off. Back up to the hotel, start the first climb. Well I'd gone about 100 metres up the hill (if that) before the problems came back. Worth the hassle to do this up and down eight times ? Clearly not, in my opinion, so without further ado, I pulled the plug on a manky wet night and drove back to D15. Since then, I've just been resting it and hoping there aren't any more similar episodes on the way. Back into it, tentatively at first, on Monday, before hopefully a return to the West County hill. If next week doesn't go well, I may have to abandon Carlingford (5th of March) for this year. Beidh le feiceáil, mar a deirtear. Thanks for reading! J.10
That's a pity J, hopefully it clears quickly and you're on the roads again soon.1
The Great Western Conn Job Resurrection - Week 10 of 18
There might be a bit more in this week's update.
Mon 21/2 - 2.36 miles @10:02/mi
I sacrificed the usual rest day so I could test the legs out before the Tuesday session. Not the craziest idea I've ever come up with, especially given I'd barely run at all last week. Anyhow, at this slow pace there were no issues to report, and hence I continued to...
Tue 22/2 - 8.04 miles @9:46/mi
More so after last week, I was a bit apprehensive about taking this one on. Even so, I undertook a pre dawn drive to Chapelizod, with the purpose of running up and down the West County hill eight times. Starting just after 6:30 AM, I headed downhill to Anna Livia Bridge, before turning back into the strong wind and very heavy rain. At the best of times, I find it hard to judge pace on the long hill sessions. Hence, trying to find a rhythm which I could sustain was tricky enough, even without the added challenging weather conditions. On occasion I was nearly getting blown back down the hill. Thankfully, the rain eased off towards the end of my stint, and the sun coming up gave my morale an extra little boost. Delighted to have a very long session in the bag (1 hr 18 min inc WU/CD) before work. If I make it to the start line in Connemara, this will be one of the sessions that will stand to me.
Wed 23/2 - 6.02 miles @8:50/mi
I was in the office today, which necessitated a rare (since Covid) evening run. Thankfully, nothing that would shock the body too much. An easy recovery run, with two laps around the Porterstown tarmac followed by two Carpenterstown loops.
Thu 24/2 - 5.97 miles @8:43/mi
Bit of snow overnight in Ratoath, but none sticking on the paths, as far as I could see out the window. The plan was to finally try the 2E / 3 @10k / 1E session, but I gave myself the option of sticking to easy miles if I found the paths too slippy on the warmup lap. No problems on the 2E, so I gave the session a go. The 3E was one and a half loops, with a short drag at the start and a longer drag at the end of the first and third miles. Hard enough with road crossings and human traffic, although no schoolkids with it being midterm. Snow started falling during the third "fast" mile, but nothing that impacted me. Dig in on the last longish drag, and that's it. Closer to HMP to be honest, but I'll take that at this stage.
Fri 25/2 - Rest
Sat 26/2 - BHAA Central Bank XC, Wesley College
I only decided to enter this on Friday, feeling satisfied that I'd recovered sufficiently from the midweek exertions. I enjoyed the inaugural event, which was my last XC race before Covid set in. Windy aul journey over to Dundrum. Warmup lap with Ian R and Tom F, with the longest straight part of the one mile lap straight into the very strong wind. No hills, and the ground conditions were ok. Quick hellos to Marthastew and Mr Skinny beforehand, among many others. Although Susan was giving regular countdowns e.g. 10 mins to go, 5 mins to go, the start itself was very understated. Not to worry. Start off slow, I decided. Hide behind a few big lads in the windy bits, and we'll see. I pretty much stuck to the plan, today not being a goal race. Caught up to G at the end of lap 1, and dropped him at the end of the long straight into the wind. After that, I remember a lad in a Trim 10 mile top passing me. He didn't get too far ahead though. A girl named Sarah was getting plenty of support on the way around. I think we passed each other three or four times, before I got rid of her for good before half way ( four c. 1 mile laps) or so I thought. Positions roughly the same for the rest. I caught one or two during lap 3. Trim came back to me at the start of the last lap - even into the wind, I couldn't hide behind him too long without nearly stopping. Terry C (who I passed early in lap 2) caught me around halfway through the last lap. Were I racing, I wouldn't have let him off as easy as I did. Not that I was flagging or anything, but Sarah caught me again with about 600 metres left. Sure let's see what we have. Keep close around the last two corners, then blast by her in the short little straight to the finish. Nice that I could pull that one out, at the end of a cross country, with two sessions in the bag this week too. FWIW, 98/160, in a time of 29:36. Better than my other XC performances this year, but slower than my 29:00 in 2020, when the ground conditions were heavier, including a lake near the end of the lap. Cooldown with Graham and Vanessa, to make it six miles for the day. Another fine job from RedRunner and his merry band of volunteers.
Sun 27/2 - 3.15 miles @8:46/mi
I began the day with a sunny but very windy Donabate beach walk, having wifey and a very happy dog for company. I finished off the running week when I got back to Ratoath, with a stingray lap plus my first run by the river that runs through the village. Short but steep little hill up to the church, but enjoyable nonetheless. Lots of sport viewing after that, the highlight of which was Liverpool beating Chelsea on penos to win the Carabao Cup, with young Corkman Caoimhin Kelleher to the fore. A nice memory to have for my birthday 😀 Feeling more confident about the plan after this week.
Mon 28/2 - Rest
Carlingford Half Marathon on Saturday morning. This is the last race I've entered before the Connemara Half. Thanks for reading! J.11
Well done on the XC and happy birthday to you! Have you a target for Carlingford yet?1
Thanks D, sorry your own race didn't go to plan, through no fault of your own. That training block will stand to you for the next goal race, no doubt.
As for Carlingford, I haven't given it a massive amount of thought, as it's just a prep race really. I've run it three times before, so I like to think I've a fair idea how to play it. Best was 1:35, in 2020, my second fastest ever. Since you asked, 1:40 springs to mind. That said, I think that was kind of a target two years ago too. Looking forward to it anyways. I won't be crying on the way home in the car if I don't break 1:40, put it that way. I'd a good week this week IMO, so just hoping to build on it next week.1
Forgot to mention before, that the Inishbofin Half Marathon and 10k are back this year (May 14). For fun and friendly (although not PB friendly, quite the opposite! ) races, with some beautiful scenery included, I highly recommend them. Sadly, I won't be able to travel this year. Fingers crossed they'll be on again next year. Maybe Pat will throw in a few old man prizes then too 😁0
The Great Western Conn Job Resurrection - Week 11 of 18
Technically, not the end of a phase of the plan, but to me it feels that way.
Tue 1/3 - 7.71 miles @9:43/mi
Over to Chapelizod once more, for my final West County Hill session. Starting at 6:26 AM, still in the dark. There's a flat complex near Anna Livia Bridge, where a Liverpool fan has several flags hanging up. Allez Allez Allez. It didn't seem as difficult as last week. In the sub zero temperatures, I opted for a hat and gloves combo, but it was dry and the air was still, certainly compared to last week's battles up the hill. Don't get me wrong, it was still hard! Very happy to be at the end of this series of sessions.
Wed 2/3 - 5.66 miles @9:07/mi
I had to drive into the office this morning, so as I knew I wouldn't get a chance to run after work, I started at the ungodly hour at 5:15 AM. Eerily quiet at that hour. Once around M50 Park, then up and over the bridge for the Clonsilla Lidl loop (roughly two miles). Home and all shortly after 6 !!
Thu 3/3 - 4.10 miles @8:43/mi
WFH today, so I went out for a lunchtime spin. Up to Porterstown, for three laps around the parkrun course.
Fri 4/3 - Rest
Sat 5/3 - Carlingford Half Marathon - Gimme Shelter
As mentioned here and elsewhere beforehand, this was never a goal race. Having said that, when clubmate Bernard and I were talking before the Raheny 5+, we both wondered aloud how we could make a half marathon work in five weeks time. Yet both of us made it to the start line, on a beautiful sunny morning in County Louth. Freezing though, and the wind ! In our faces coming in to the finish, unlike in 2020.
Tight enough coming out the gates of the sailing club. Bernard got ahead of more of the posse than I did, but I could see him, so I was happy enough. I don't know whether the red van was supposed to be in around us, but it was a few yards ahead of me for a while, with a few lads drafting behind it, a la Kipchoge going around Monza a few years back. At least the lads yesterday got their sub 2 😁 I was keeping it fairly slow as we climbed up into the hills, but even so they seemed to be taking more out of me than I could remember from other years. Having the wind behind us here didn't feel like much of a help. More were passing me than I was passing, but I wasn't worrying about any of that today. Apart from B, I didn't have a clue who anyone else was, let alone what times they may have been targeting. There's a nice photo from 2020 of the two of us running together 5k into it, with hundreds trailing further down the hill behind us. Roughly around there yesterday, he disappeared from my view, and I didn't see him again. I was happy just to make it to the main road (4 miles) without getting an urge to stop.
The end of most of the hills, but it seemed the wind was coming in side on now. I slowed to walk at the first water station, roughly 4.5 miles in. When I picked up my stride again, I was running with a guy in a Cill Íseal GAA top. According to Strava, these three miles are downhill, but I didn't really feel like I was going downhill much, more trying to keep some kind of rhythm. We reached the end of a long straight stretch near the 7 mile mark, turning towards the sea for a short stint with the breeze with us.
Water just after the 7 mile mark, stop to walk again. Left turn when we reached the sea. Plusses - beautiful sunny morning, clear blue sea and great views across to the Mournes. Minuses - Wind straight in your face, surface not great, long straights with more and more runners away in the distance. In spite of this, Cill Íseal and I were actually passing a few people. He was a big enough unit, so when I got close I tucked in behind on more than one occasion. Anything to try and make this section a bit more bearable. I'd enough problems at this stage, without another manifesting itself. Shortly before the 10 mile mark, I found a safe place to make a pit stop, and that was Cill Íseal gone for home. Normally I'd pass loads of people back after that, but only one or two this time.
Left at the 10 mile mark, straight up a short sharp hill into the breeze. Down again, but then another little climb after you turn right. Most of the remainder of Mile 11 was downhill but I didn't make a lot of progress. My aim was just to finish it, rather than finish as fast or as high up as I could. Possibly if I knew some of the people I was running with I might have been more interested. There were two miles to go after recrossing the Dundalk Road and turning towards Carlingford. Wind back in our faces again. Keep going. Pass a few, stop for water once more, pass one or two again. Even in the last mile, I was still passing and being passed by quite a few. Turn off the main road with 500 metres left. There wasn't much left in the legs, being honest. I caught one or two more with 200 metres to go, but then I didn't bother trying to sprint into the finish, which meant that those two, and one or two others, passed me back in the last few yards. So what. I finished it. Job done.
On another day, in different times, I'd be feeling fairly cranky about a 1:46, even in those conditions. For comparison, I ran the 2019 Inishbofin half in 1:43 - a very hilly course - having had a few pints the night before. Yet this time I wasn't upset at all. My legs were sore and tired, but there were no tears in the car. Long run done for the week, if nothing else - and actually my longest run since last November's Clontarf half. This was my 20th half marathon - all in my 40s, and at least one for every age year. Will Conn be a happy 21st ?
Sun 6/3 - 3.82 miles @9:04/mi
I drove over to St Catherine's Park this morning for a recovery run. Surprised that it was my first time there since my last run of 2021. Usually I'd begin my stint with a run through the Woodland Trail, but I didn't think the legs would cope too well with that really steep little hill at the bottom. The hill beside the stream, followed by the hill up to the BMX track, were sufficient in terms of climbing for today.
Eleven weeks into the plan, time for a change in approach. Apart from a Christmas Day parkrun in Week 1, every weekend since that I've been able to, I've been off racing. Exceptions being Weeks 2 & 3 (Covid) and Week 9 (injury). This has meant that a number of the midweek tempos were dropped. I have no more races booked between now and Connemara, so especially now we're getting into some really meaty sessions, as well as "undulating" routes, it might take my body some time to get used to the different stresses. Sure only seven weeks left now. Thanks for reading ! J.12
The Great Western Conn Job Resurrection - Week 12 of 18 - Room To Improve
Mon 7/3 - Rest
Tue 8/3 - 6.05 miles @9:00/mi
The brief for Tuesday's runs has changed to "4-6 Hilly Run Undulating Route". I used the same starting point as I did for one of these in 2019. Up and down the roads that link Griffith Avenue to Home Farm Road to start, and a few tougher hills after this, including Washerwoman's Hill and the climb from the bottom of Violet Hill past the Tesco up to Finglas.
Wed 9/3 - 5.39 miles @9:00/mi
I knew there wouldn't be a chance to run tonight, so as I was in the office again, it was another super early start (5:10 AM). Nothing much of note in the run itself, apart from the surprise of meeting another runner before the end of my stint.
Thu 10/3 - 6.26 miles @8:16/mi
A lie in (relatively) as I started the warmup some two hours later, in Porterstown Park this time. The two occasions I had attempted the 2E / 4 @10k / 1E session in 2019, I had failed to complete it. Hence I was feeling a bit apprehensive about it this time. I didn't want to blow myself out too early, so a 7:40 seemed like something I could sustain for another three laps. I needed to slow down and/or stop a few times due to walkers and dogs - grip on the wet grass wasn't great. Even so, happy to say I at least managed some consistency, with splits of 7:41/7:38/7:41 for the other three miles. Not amazing, and probably around HMP by the time I get to Connemara, but I got through it.
Fri 11/3 - Rest
Sat 12/3 - 3.00 miles @8:30/mi
Having got through the longest continuous tempo on the plan, I was feeling a bit more confident about what was the hardest session I completed in the lead up to the 2019 GIR. This was 2E / 3 x 2 @10k pace (5 mins). Three years ago I ran around the Porterstown grass track, on a very wet and windy morning. This time it was dry, but I stuck to the paths. We won our first match of the hurling season last night, and a few celebratory beers didn't finish till 1 AM. Not ideal prep, but still doable, you would think. However, even in the 2 mile warmup I felt devoid of energy. Not to worry. Only two fast ones, then a break. Or so I thought. I was probably a bit quick anyway (as in, not a sustainable pace) but along the top of the park, I got a rush of extreme tiredness, when I felt like I was about to collapse. That only lasted a few seconds, but it did make me realise that another five "fast" miles wouldn't be realistic this morning. No pain, might I add - but I couldn't go back to sleep afterwards either. Probably the cumulative effect of all the early mornings, and not forgetting a HM last week. At least I get another crack at that session in two weeks time.
Sun 13/3 - 10.05 miles @9:13/mi
I'm reluctant to let this one go, so just one day after the above fubar, I was the first car parked at White's Gate, for what the plan called "10 L Undulating Route". Well at least try. I didn't have a route picked out as such, but I think the one I went with worked out well. Up White's Road, down Tower Road and into PP at Knockmaroon Gate. In and out of the Furry Glen a few times, plus I went up and/or down all the hills on the lumpy side (apart from Wellington Road). To complete my stint, I decided on a climb from the Glen Pond to Knockmaroon Gate and back up Tower Road (125 feet in 1.1 miles approx.) with a nice run down White's Road to finish. I was worried I wouldn't get through this today, but on this occasion my fears were unfounded. Two thirds of the way through the plan now - probably can't get away with too many more slipups. We were well represented in the Bohermeen HM today - still kind of glad I flew under the radar for my half last week.
More hills and tempos to navigate, as the week finishes with our club race out in Abbotstown. Currently I'm thinking of running it to finish off my LR. Hope to see some of you there. Thanks for reading! J.12
The Great Western Conn Job Resurrection - Week 13 of 18
Mon 14/3 - Rest
Tue 15/3 - 6.06 miles @8:55/mi
This was an almost exact reverse of last Tuesday's up and down D9/D11 run. Also, I did this one after work. Sad to see the flags flying at half mast in Erins Isle GAA Club, as our club president had died that morning.
Wed 16/3 - 6.08 miles @8:59/mi
In Wicklow for a few days, so this wasn't your usual recovery plod around D15 or Ratoath. Although the pace was broadly similar, some nice long uphills and downhills to get through.
St Patrick's Day - 6.05 miles @8:43/mi
Some of the lads here have been talking about the benefits of "lumpy" routes for sessions, as opposed to choosing the flattest route possible. Today, I had a shot at the 2E / 3 @10k / 1E. Down the long hill from the house to Aughrim, and back again. That was the "easy". Few seconds break before the "speed" part. First one had a stiff uphill start, but overall -171 feet (7:15). Not as easy as it sounds, as not only was I worried about burning myself out too early on the superfast downhill, I also had to be alert for cars on the narrow roads down to Annacurra. Cross the main road, up through the village, then a right turn between the church and the playground, through the forest trail that links Annacurra to Aughrim. Mainly uphill in Mile 2, and not easy to get traction. (8:22, +82 feet). Last one, a steep downhill to begin, up and over a bridge and nearly all flat to the end. 7:53 for this, although I felt like I was working fairly hard for it (-115 feet). Sure I'm on my holidays. Kind of. Long uphill back to the house to finish off.
Fri 18/3 - 3.51 miles @9:03/mi
This was intended to be a rest day, but wifey suggested I have one more run, since I get so much enjoyment from running in the Wicklow hills. Fair enough so ! This was the reverse of the triangle I ran the first few times down there. This time, downhill towards Aughrim first, then up a brutal climb (227 feet in 0.59 mi). Don't stop. Over that, down the steep other side, and a flat bit of over a mile in length, before a half mile climb back up. Delighted to do it, but concerned about the weekend runs being impacted.
Sat 19/3 - 6.14 miles @8:21/mi
Officially the same session as Thursday. However this time I'd be using Porterstown parkrun for the "speed" bit - my first parkrun of 2022. Fairly tired on the 2 mile warmup, but starting the parkrun improved my energy levels. I did a good job of keeping it steady, opening around midfield and passing a few as I progressed (13/83, 4th M45). Having people around you helps immensely. 23:08 was a nice time to put up (7:23/7:25/7:21 for miles 3-5) Feeling much better than after last Saturday's abandoned session, that's for sure.
Sun 20/3 - 10.35 miles @8:54/mi
In Abbotstown for this one, as our club 5k was taking place there for the first time. The plan said 12 L Undulating route. I got there earlyish to collect my number and get a few warmup miles in before the 5k. Between chats etc I got 5 and a bit miles in, firstly around the parkrun course, then over the race route. This was one 1k lap and two 2k laps. Plusses - we weren't running along the old road by the graveyard, typically quite a sticky part of the route. Minuses - still three times up the hill before turning left into the finishing straight. No racing from me today. Myself and Stephen kept each other company for most of it, until I pulled clear of him over the last kilometre. In the 24s for that, so happy enough to get a few faster miles in on tired legs. Cooldown with Rob to bring me over the ten. Mindful that I'd thrown in some hills on the rest day this week, I decided to leave it at that, especially as most people had gone home by then ! Good week running wise, with just two weeks left before taper. However, hearing this evening that a workmate had died suddenly, at the age of 51 (barely older than me) knocked me for six - totally unexpected, and a reminder to keep all of what I do here in perspective. Thanks for reading. J.12
The Great Western Conn Job Resurrection - Week 14 of 18
Mon 21/3 - Rest
Tue 22/3 - 4.89 miles @9:10/mi
Pre work hilly start to the week. Not enough time for Strava art, so instead I settled for a selection of ups and downs between the Papal Cross and the Magazine Fort. Think Munich hills and BHAA Garda XC, for those of you who know the territory. Legs were heavy throughout.
Wed 23/3 - 5.84 miles @9:07/mi
In the office today, plus I didn't fancy a 5 AM start. Instead, a post work shuffle from home through White's Gate, then around to Castleknock Gate and home through Laurel Lodge. Sticky out there. Miles in the bank.
Thu 24/3 - 5.79 miles @8:35/mi
Up to Porterstown at lunchtime for another 2E / 3 @10k session. I wasn't perturbed beforehand, having done it over the Wicklow hills and for parkrun last week. Yet this time I just felt tired. Possibly the cumulative effect of a six day week last week, added to the start of this, with only one day off. I know it was warm, but my splits were 7:53/7:48/7:40. Not intended as a progression run, might I add - just how it turned out. Long before I'd completed this stint, I knew I wouldn't be running on my next scheduled rest day !
Fri 25/3 - Rest
Sat 26/3 - 6.07 miles @7:30/mi
This was a return to the session I bailed out of two weeks ago - 3 x 2 miles, 5 mins recovery. Better prepared this time. Earlier to bed, no drinking. Still in Porterstown early, as I was volunteering at the parkrun later. Not quite two miles for a warmup, mainly around the grass track in bright early morning sunshine. Up to the parkrun start for the session itself. About half way through the first lap, I checked my pace and saw 7:01. Doubt I'll keep that going, so I consciously eased off the throttle. Even with the standing recoveries, it was difficult to go through the gears again, but my energy levels were higher today, and I managed to dig it out. A couple of longish stops due to human and animal traffic disimproved the splits for my last stint. For today, we had 7:08/7:32, 7:26/7:32, 7:40/7:45. For comparison, at the same stage of the 2019 plan, my splits around the wet and windy grass track were 7:26/7:38, 7:52/7:55, 7:54/8:06. So maybe I'm not quite as unfit as I think. I also tried a similar session last July - 2 x 2 miles (4 mins standing), splits there were 7:02/7:14, 7:22/7:22.
Sun 27/3 - 10.07 miles @8:56/mi
The same route as two weeks ago, but it felt a lot different. This time I knew I could do it, I was feeling more confident, and also I felt more energetic, even with a poor enough night's sleep and the clocks going forward. A great morning to be in and around the Phoenix Park. My splits were more consistent today, and also I was a couple of minutes faster than the previous effort. Only one week to go till the start of taper time. Fingers crossed I can maintain this form. Thanks for reading! J.12
The Great Western Conn Job Resurrection - Week 15 of 18
Mon 28/3 - Rest
Tue 29/3 - 6.55 miles @8:45/mi
Running this one from the house, so out to the crossroads at the top of White's Road, then right down Tower Road and into PP at Knockmaroon Gate. Furry Glen loop before reenacting the long climb from Glen Pond to the aforementioned crossroads. Nice to get a long break at the lights when I got there! Straightforward enough from there back home.
Wed 30/3 - 6.00 miles @9:00/mi
Easy double loop of Carpenterstown first, then two laps of Porterstown. Happy to have it done before work.
Thu 31/3 - 6.04 miles @8:27/mi
This was the last time for the 2E / 3 @10k / 1E session to appear on the plan. For old time's sake, I decided I'd run it along the Laurel Lodge out and back. Probably less busy than Porterstown on a Thursday evening ? Easy to Castleknock Road, then (unlike recent similar sessions) turn around and straight into it. I actually had the same splits in the first two pace miles (7:29/7:29) despite the net uphill heading towards Carpenterstown. Not so pacy in the last of the three fast miles, with a longish stoppage at the Laurel Lodge shops, as well as more weaving around people, not helping my cause (7:44). Another session in the bag.
Fri 1/4 - Rest
Sat 2/4 - 6.30 miles @7:25/mi (approx.)
This was the hardest of the long tempos in the plan - 2 x 3 miles @10k (5 mins recovery). I was more looking forward to it being over than running it ! I decided to go to the Porterstown grass track for my opening stint. After a 1 1/2 mile warmup and a few stretches, I began my 12 laps, with the MSB beginners group also using the track, while the parkrun gang set up camp and gave me a few shouts as I progressed. About 3/4 way through the first mile, I checked my pace and saw 7:05, from there easing off the gas a wee bit. 7:10/7:34/7:30 was better than expected beforehand. For those who follow me on Strava, the pace graph very accurately reflects the undulating nature of the grass track 😀 Bit of water on board, then across to the parkrun start. Since parkrun didn't start on time, I ended up waiting about 9 minutes to commence my second stint. Not to worry - start in the middle like before, see can you take a few. One lad not only cut the corner of the soccer pitch but also the corner into the finish straight on lap 2, so I resolved to finish ahead of him, tired or not. I passed him and a few others during the last lap, but he hung on right to the end. Very pleased with my sub-6 burst of pace down the finish straight 😁 23:28, 12/70, 2nd M45. There was a fine looking cake to mark milestones for two of our regulars (one running her 100th, the other finishing first woman in her 200th) and breakfast in the local afterwards, but I skipped all of that, as I had to head across to my friend's funeral. Sad day for all present.
Sun 3/4 - 12.03 miles @8:55/mi
The longest run remaining in the plan. It took me several minutes to clear the frost off the car (-2 deg C) before driving to White's Gate for an 8 o'clock start. Only one other there, but delighted to have him for company through the opening 5 1/2 mile stint, over various randomly selected trails between there and Islandbridge Gate. A lot more runners arrived for 9, but unfortunately not many of the aul fellas that were there last week were there this morning. The upshot was that most of the group were going way too quick for what I was comfortable with, so after two miles of huffin' and puffin' I decided to slip off the back. One of the lads dropped back with me, and he was a great help through the remaining 4 1/2 miles or so. Tired but happy to go the distance. Taper time now. As AMK pointed out on Strava, three weeks is a long taper for a half. No more long tempo runs, but I might change up the sessions if they're too easy.
As mentioned above, the first of three weeks of tapering. Elsewhere, due to works in Porterstown, we've had to redesign the parkrun route. Still to be officially confirmed at the time of writing, but we aim to have the temporary course in operation next Saturday. Hope to see some of you there. Thanks for reading ! J.12
The Great Western Conn Job Resurrection - Week 16 of 18 - Feels So Close
Mon 4/4 - Rest
Tue 5/4 - 6.21 miles @9:04/mi
Between the weekend's work and an early (7:20 AM) start, I was feeling fairly tired for a lot of this. Nothing to do with the hills themselves, you understand. From opposite the Papal Cross, down the Khyber, up Wellington Road, out the main gate, and back into PP at the NCR Gate, via the CCJ and Infirmary Road. From there, back to the base of the Khyber, but now into a series of loops that involved three trips up the longer hill used in the BHAA Garda XC race. The wind was right in my face for those. At least the pacing wasn't too bad.
Wed 6/4 - 5.73 miles @9:10/mi
According to Strava, that is. However, some of their lines have me climbing over walls, through people's gardens etc - actual distance was much nearer 6 miles. From the house to Clonsilla roundabout, then twice around what I call the Lidl loop - roughly 2 miles via Applegreen, Lidl Clonsilla, and Ongar Road. Wet and very windy this evening - I wasn't feeling the love for this, although visualising the potentially even wetter and windier upcoming conditions in Connemara helped with the motivation somewhat.
Thu 7/4 - No running
I had a session planned for today, but unfortunately from a running point of view, it was one of those days where life took over.
Fri 8/4 - Rest...
...as I thought two sessions and a long run on consecutive days might be over egging it.
Sat 9/4 - 4.02 miles @8:31/mi
The plan said 6E with 6 x 1 min race pace / 1 min off. I'd planned to do a longer warmup before parkrun, but between chats and whatnot it was quite short. We haven't moved to the new route yet, although there was a slight amendment to the course as the works have commenced. I decided to throw the pace bits into the second half of parkrun. Surprisingly hard to pick up the pace mid parkrun - reps 2, 3 and 6 were good, the others a bit sluggish. For my 154th parkrun, I crossed in 25:06, which on this occasion was good enough for 16th of 66, and first of four in my age category.
Sun 10/4 - 10.00 miles @8:49/mi
The last double figure mileage run on the plan. I got to White's Gate before 7:30, just as well as a Garda was placing cones all the way down the road, due to an event in Farmleigh. My early start meant I could run the same undulating route as two and four Sundays ago. Not going into much detail, just to say I felt more in control here than in the previous two. Very happy with that, considering I literally made it up as I went along for my first time on the route. Back to White's Gate in time to say hello to the 9 AM starters, before home for a deserved warm shower.
With just two weeks left, it seems the end is fast approaching. Another reduction in activity next week, although hopefully I'll actually complete the 1 min on/off session twice as per plan. Thanks for reading! J.12
The Great Western Conn Job Resurrection - Week 17 of 18
Mon 11/4 - Rest
Tue 12/4 - 6.28 miles @9:00/mi
The last of the "hilly run, undulating route" runs on the plan. Slight change from two Tuesdays ago, in that I ran down to the hotel and past the sand pits, which meant a bit more up and down than the usual route from the Carpenterstown shops to Castleknock College. Happy enough with it, although the long climb from the Glen Pond to the crossroads was occasionally a bit taxing. Nice to see AMK in good form, before his encounter with a rude walker.
Wed 13/4 - 6.03 miles @8:56/mi
Standard issue recovery run - twice around Carpenterstown followed by twice around Porterstown. I definitely was feeling the after effects of Sunday and Tuesday's hills on this one.
Thu 14/4 - 6.00 miles @8:52/mi
A few easy warmup miles leading into the session - another 6 x 1 min on / 1 min off effort. These were before work, around the MSB grass track. Surprisingly consistent pacing by my standards, and a nice pickup on the last one.
Good Friday - Rest
Sat 16/4 - 5.51 miles @8:19/mi
Back to Porterstown for another parkrun, but this time we were on the temporary course, which involves running up the "long hill" (approx. 330 metres) five times. Not something I was worried about, as I wasn't racing anyway, and besides that km loop is a regular for our sessions (e.g. 5 x 1k on / 400 off). To be fair I didn't cheat by running the pace bits (again, 6 x 1 min on / 1 min off) on the downhill or flat. Quite pacy for the first couple of laps too, and actually once more a bit quicker than HMP in the main. One lad running close to me was a bit bemused by what I was up to - happy to explain it to him afterwards! Nearly there. 24:11, 16/71, 5th M45.
Easter Sunday - 8.14 miles @9:02/mi
I was in Center Parcs for this one - a family weekend away - having travelled up on Saturday, passing through Tang en route. Saturday was lovely weather wise, but this morning was fairly manky, and I didn't feel the Mae West either after a fair bit of food and drink. Still, the longer I deliberated the less likely I was to do it, so just after 8:30 I was out. I ran 5 times around a fairly flat loop of roughly 1.5 miles, which included a longish (about half a mile) stretch directly into the wind and rain. More runners out than I was expecting, and despite the conditions, I was fairly comfortable once I got into my stride.
Easter Monday - Rest
The final chapter of this sub-log, with hopefully a happy ending to my 21st half marathon. At the moment I'm thinking a sub-100 time is well within my compass - it would be a shame not to try beat my 2016 time (1:40:40) at a minimum. Setting a PB (1:34:05, Ratoath 2019) might be beyond me this time. However, the last few weeks of training have gone well IMO, so maybe I should trust the training more. Pacers (1:30, 1:45, 2:00) probably won't be much use to me here. I certainly don't intend to repeat the Trim 10 sh!tsh0w - going with the 1:30 would be a perfect recipe for making the Hell Of The West (miles 10 and 11) even harder than it should be. Thanks for reading! J.10
Moderators, Category Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 17,792 CMod ✭✭✭✭Join Date:Posts: 16591
West is best. Cheque's in the post. @Neady83
Good luck tomorrow.
Moderator: Television, Psychology and Dublin County North.1
Best of luck J, fingers crossed for a good run for you.1
The Great Western Conn Job Resurrection - Week 18 of 18
Tue 19/4 - 5.90 miles @8:49/mi
Another pre work 6 x 1 mins around the grass track. Up early, into it quick, feeling strong. Last of the sessions.
Wed 20/4 - 5.83 miles @9:02/mi
Recovery again, two laps of Carpenterstown, two Porterstown laps.
Thu 21/4 - 5.84 miles @8:44/mi
I wore the old 2016 Connemarathon top for a bit of nostalgia. Run itself was a trundle around the Clonsilla Lidl/Ongar Road loop.
Fri 22/4 - Rest
Sat 23/4 - Travel
Beautiful day as we headed to our hotel, barely a cloud in the sky. We stopped in the city to pick up my bib en route, everyone in good form and looking forward to a sunny race day. Seeing the mile markers for the Ultra (from Recess) and Full (from the start at Lough Inagh) got the excitement levels up. I kept the alcohol to one pint of Guinness in the afternoon and a glass of wine with the dinner in the evening. Not easy when the company is eating and drinking whatever they want. Sure all this training and self discipline will be worth it tomorrow.
Sun 24/4 - Connemara Half Marathon
At long, long last, the end of this particular journey. I originally entered the 2019 full marathon some time in 2018, but subsequently downgraded to the half. Work commitments meant I had to defer the 2019 entry to 2020, and then with all the race postponements it was another two years before I took the start. In fact I couldn't remember whether I'd asked for the bib to be posted out or not, until I had a root through my email archive a week or two ago. In total, six years had passed since my first attempt at the half. Report from that one is here.
Training went fairly well overall, apart from losing a weekend and a full week due to Covid ( weeks 2/3) and another (Week 9) due to injury. Races along the way weren't being targeted at all, although Trim 10 still sticks in the mind as a fubar. Good sessions along the way - I used the same plan (John O'Regan Conn HM plan) as during my original prep for the 2019 half, which was replaced by the Great Ireland Run. I got a PB in that one, three weeks after another 10k PB in the BHAA K Club race. Plan was all good in other words.
Fairly relaxed this morning, apart from a bit of panic due to some confusion on my part regarding bus departure times. *Of course* 9:20 was the first buses leaving Clifden, fill one up, it goes, fill the next etc. Breakfast was coffee, brown bread, a banana, and a small bit of OJ. Early arrival in Leenane, so loads of time to put on suncream, bib etc. I had a lovely catch up with ReeReeG at the start - due to our nattering, she just about got her gear on the baggage truck before it pulled out 😁
I lined up between the 1:30 and 1:45 pacers. For those not following me on Strava, I had four goals.
A: PB (1:34:05, Ratoath 2019)
B: Course PB (1:40:40, 2016)
C: Sub 1:45
D: FTFT (kudos to Ultrawoman, who instantly guessed correctly what that stood for 😄)
All quite attainable, although I was mindful that the A goal was a bit of stretch due to the hills. Right so, this is it. With the tune of Sirius (think Chicago Bulls) going through my head, the gun went off, and we were away. Six years waiting for a rematch, and here it is.
Short downhill stretch back into Leenane, with Killary Harbour on our right. I let the 1:30 pacer ease out, and after a couple of hundred metres we're into the first major climb. I remember this from before, but jaysis the shock to the system. Getting up the steepest bit is hard enough, but then the wind is straight in our faces. Don't panic. This is supposed to be hard. Sun is shining, but I've the cream on, and I had remembered earlier to apply the vaseline where it was needed (more on that later). Keep it steady. Still feels tougher than my recollection. Another corner and more up and up. There's a Crusader a little bit ahead - I'm kind of using her for a marker at this point. Pacer is pulling further away, but I'm not worried about him. One done. Right, that's one of the hardest.
Continuation of the first mile as far as the overall climbing goes, but one or two little downhill bits early on. I can feel the temperature rising, and with not much cloud cover, it's potentially a tougher afternoon in store. Come on, stay with it. Yet even before we've cleared the long first climb, my legs are really feeling it, more than I think they should after 1.5 miles of a HM. Cru girl is gone further ahead. So much for her being my mark. Over the hill, but even on the downhill I'm struggling. Before I even hit the Ultra Mile 28 marker, let alone our 2 mile marker, the 1:45 pacer and his merry band have caught me.
This mile is mainly downhill, with a few rolling bits. Yet even here, I'm not getting any increase in pace, and the sight of the 1:45 group pulling away is really setting off alarm bells. Firstly I'm thinking, not so bad, I've over 10 miles to recover this, but with the passage of time comes the realisation that even the C goal above is looking like a leap of faith. I should be powering through the course, but nothing happening. I've been caught and passed by some of the marathoners - I know one of our two lads has gone through. We've another lad coming behind, who I reckon will catch me soon if I don't pick it up.
As I recall, there's a good bit of downhill here too. Water on board at the 3 mile mark, which I'm hoping will give me a boost, but it doesn't. Some Raheny lad who I don't recognise goes by me. Can I stick with him ? Of course not. How am I going to make this work ? Already I'm in FTFT territory. It isn't supposed to be like this. Loads more half people going by, few more marathoners too and possibly one or two ultras as well. I was catching ultras last time, although to be fair they'd a full marathon in the bag when I started. I'm thinking I ran the uphill first mile quicker than this. Can't be good, can it ?
Mainly flat or downhill here too, but the couple of bumpy bits are taking their toll more than they should. It seems to be getting warmer too, and in the open country heading towards An Mám, there's no respite from the wind. As I struggle on, thoughts are turning back to the 2018 Clontarf half. I'm losing power fairly quickly, it seems. I should be flying down the hills, to give me momentum for the little uphill bits here. No joy. Roughly around the 31 mile ultra marker, there's a junction where a marshal and a Garda are situated. I'm not getting any better here, and I know what's coming, including the Hell Of The West, which covers most of miles 10 and 11. I'm still weakening, to a greater extent than I'm thinking is feasible to enable me to finish. For any F1 fans here, think of the radio comms where you can hear the change in the engine noise - "Stop the car, Max". Very reluctantly, I decide to pull the plug while I'm still of sound mind and judgement, rather than risk doing myself any more damage.
I walk back to the junction, and sip on a water bottle (courtesy of said marshal) while waiting for a lift to the finish (organised by the garda). V passes at some stage, and offers her phone to ring wifey, but I explain that she would be a bit nervous seeing a number she doesn't recognise (given I've had one or two race related medical episodes over the years) My clubmate eventually reaches me, looking bloodied in spots having forgotten to apply the aul vaso. Unfortunately his training didn't get the deserved outcome, although he did finish. Minibus arrives, and I'm transported through the field, passing a still comfortable looking V around the 9 mile mark, and finally getting to the finish ahead of the 2 hour pacers, running without company by then. I step off the bus before the gantry, sheepishly slunking down the side and into the finish zone amidst many very happy runners. Sure why wouldn't they be. Fair play to them all. Chat with a very happy Jmcmen, second placer in the full marathon here (3:04), just three weeks after a 2:57 in Paris. I don't bother taking a medal - I've loads of medals from races I actually finished. Goodies afterwards only so so - I remember flinging some peanut based protein bar into one of the bins. Find my bag, check in with wifey, and board the bus back to Clifden, feeling seriously p1$$ed off and wondering what the f0ck that was.
Aftermath - Unlucky For Some
As I've alluded to above - kind of - I was seriously thinking of packing in this game as I headed for the finish. Con job is right. Fraud. I have a finishers top, but I don't feel good about the thought of wearing it in public. Who am I doing this for ? Should I not be spending more time nursing wifey back to full health, instead of five days a week of running, and for what. Thankfully I was willing and able to reenact a favourite run of mine on Monday morning, before the long drive back across the Shannon to D15. Good for the soul.
Hard to know why this one fell apart as rapidly as it did. Training was consistent over most of the 18 weeks, and I was a lot lighter in body and mind than in quite a while. I've actually completed HM distance over similar hilly territory in hot weather - the Wings For Life run in 2016, if anyone remembers that one. In other words, it's not like warm weather has been my running related kryptonite through the years. The last eight months have been mentally draining for me, due to my wife's serious illness, although as I type she seems to be over the worst. Hence, it felt like more of an achievement than normal to get to the start line for this one, in what I thought was pretty decent shape for a strong race. Did I put too much pressure on myself to perform ? Possibly. Certainly before I spoke to her I was thinking I'd really let her down, dragging her across the country for a race I didn't get even halfway through. Well I was wrong on that one too 😀 Great weather, and we really enjoyed our little break apart from that. Dinner and drinks were good for the morale, helped by Celtic's win followed by the Reds keeping the bitter Blues in the relegation zone.
This was my 21st half marathon. My first attempt at the Connemara Half was my 8th HM, so 13 between the two. It was my 13th time to stay in our hotel, 13 years after my first. Most likely just coincidence. I find weird stuff like that mildly amusing sometimes.
Yes, there is a Next. Having dispelled the negative thoughts of chucking all the running gear in the bin, I'm taking a few days off before easing back into it. I plan to go back training with the club in May - I trained more or less alone the last few months, bar one or two Sunday mornings in PP, and a few parkruns. I've a few shorter races in mind over the coming months, hopefully building to the Ratoath HM in September. As mentioned above, that race has been very good to me in the past. Here's to a happier ending in that one! Fair play to those of you who stayed with this saga over the last 18 weeks - your patience is to be commended !
And so it's time to close this little sub log. Back to normal musings in the not too distant future. Thanks for reading ! J.Post edited by Wubble Wubble on13
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I enjoyed following the build up. Sorry to hear that it didn't go well on the day. Very frustrating for you, no doubt. Thanks for the honest account.1
Sorry this didn't go to any of the plans J, I think it's just one to forget about and put down to challenging times that you, your wife and family have gone through in the last number of months. For any of us these last two years have been a challenge let alone for a family dealing with a serious illness and despite the regular training that maybe isn't enough to have us at the best on the startline. I'm glad to hear that despite the race you had a nice break over there. Onwards and upwards.1
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Fair play for writing it all out, hope that has helped somewhat too. I didn't mention seeing you after you pulled off in my own race report as you hadn't written it here yet, but jesus J you were white as a ghost. I actually got a bit of a fright seeing you. You were right to stop by the looks of it.
Take the few days anyway, or more if needed; sometimes its easy to not mind yourself enough when you're minding someone else.1
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Sorry to read about this outcome, J. No answers here, but I'd say you nailed it yourself with your analysis. We often don't know the step too far until we've taken it, and you've had a time of it recently. I'd take a little break and chalk it up to experience. Long way for you to go yet!
Commiserations all the same - it can't feel great - but it's done.1
Thanks all, still none the wiser, as I haven't felt sick at all since. I would have liked to spend more time in the West, but I had to go back to work on Tuesday.
I haven't run a yard since Monday morning. Possibly I'll jump in the parkrun on Saturday. If so, it'll be the first time in a while that I haven't been watching paces or anything, just run ! I'd love to go back to Inishbofin in May for another crack at that HM, but not this year, sadly. Looking back on it all several days later, the main thing was really that we were able to spend some quality time together, in one of our favourite places. Not too long ago, that was a very optimistic scenario, to say the least. There won't be a sub log leading up to the Ratoath return 😁 sure as regular readers here, and Strava followers, will be aware, I spend a fair bit of time out there anyway, so going there for a race isn't quite such a big deal. We'll both be fitter and healthier by then 🤞 Leanfaidh muid ar aghaidh, cinnte !7