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Race report thread

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Comments



  • That's a terrific race, Sean, matched by a great report.

    Why would you be thinking of giving up Marathons? Given the exceptional year you have had across all distances, do you not think there's an equally better performance later in '15 or through '16??

    I know I'll see you during the week, but just some q's while they are fresh in my mind;

    (1) Was the hydration situation a hinderence in Rotterdam? (My choice in '16 is Manchester or Rotterdam- hydration could be the deal breaker)

    (2) What was your average weekly mileage?

    (3) Compared to P&D - how was the Hanson plan? - Do you think Hanson would suit anyone or only those who are already aerobically strong?

    (4) Having known you for a few years, I'd say this is one of the best spells of running you've had - what do you put that down to?

    (5) What was your toughest session in this training cycle.

    (6) You never mentioned your affinity for chocolate deserts at 12:45pm? :)

    Well done again. Inspiring stuff.




  • That's a terrific race, Sean, matched by a great report.

    Why would you be thinking of giving up Marathons? Given the exceptional year you have had across all distances, do you not think there's an equally better performance later in '15 or through '16??

    I'm lucky, or unlucky, in that I have a range of interests. Unfortunately I find it hard to focus on more than one thing at a time. I love marathon running, but I do have some other things I want to achieve, and I know if I put the same effort elsewhere the results will be equally satisfying. Also, my other interests (e.g. woodwork) are more tolerant of interruptions, you can leave them for a week or two if life gets in the way, but the marathon training is relentless, more in a mentally draining than physical way. I'd have to say I'm probably nearing the point of diminishing returns now as well.

    I know I'll see you during the week, but just some q's while they are fresh in my mind;

    (1) Was the hydration situation a hinderence in Rotterdam? (My choice in '16 is Manchester or Rotterdam- hydration could be the deal breaker)

    I think I got enough water in - although it was a sunny day it wasn't too warm. I was careful to hydrate well (with electrolyte drink as well as water) for the two days before the race, and as I mentioned in my report I had an emergency loo stop just before the start so I was definitely well topped up. I didn't drink on any of my training runs apart from a few Hydrogels just for practice. I actually did manage to get a good drink at one of the stations so there's obviously a knack to the sponge in cup thing, but I felt I was losing a bit of momentum at each station, which is something I haven't experienced before. My previous 9 marathons all had bottled water.

    (2) What was your average weekly mileage?

    I'll do a detailed analysis on the Hansons thread in a week or two, but I'm guessing 55-60, max 70ish.

    (3) Compared to P&D - how was the Hanson plan? - Do you think Hanson would suit anyone or only those who are already aerobically strong?

    I liked the simplicity of Hanson. Hanson had about twice as many MP miles, 15 sessions over the 15 weeks, which was part of the attraction. I found the midweek medium long run very tough in P & D, but despite the tired legs I always managed the Hanson Thursday MP run at target pace. That's not to knock P&D, it got me to 2:58 in Cork and I actually felt in 2:55 shape on that occasion. Also, having followed P&D followed by another marathon cycle, I was in good shape starting into Hanson, perhaps a Hanson cycle followed by P & D would be equally successful. I think it would be important to be in good shape at the start, but I'd be surprised if it didn't bring big improvements in fitness. I ran Cork (2:58) and Dublin (2:55) around 172 bpm, Rotterdam (2:48) was around 160 bpm. I almost replaced my HRM during the training as it always seemed to be reading too low for the paces I was achieving, but then I realised my breathing felt easier too and it was just the legs that were the limiting factor.

    (4) Having known you for a few years, I'd say this is one of the best spells of running you've had - what do you put that down to?

    Well I've trained consistently for about 18 months now. The core training and rehab (with thanks to Aidan Woods) really paid off though it took a long time to see improvements. I took a fairly relaxed approach to this cycle - I knew the plan was a gamble so I approached it in the spirit of a scientific experiment. Apart from 2 races, I followed it to the letter. Also I got lucky, no falls or illness this time round.

    Another factor was doing a lot of what I'll call "personal development" work over the last number of years. Our mutual employer provides a lot of resources in this area which many people are not aware of, and even fewer take full advantage of. it's a huge area, but the most important things would be goal setting and eliminating limiting beliefs.

    (5) What was your toughest session in this training cycle.

    I found the speed intervals hard. They always totaled 3 miles, so 12 x 400m wasn't too bad, but 3 x 1600 at the same pace (actually I couldn't hit the pace) was a real sickener. I was much more comfortable when the speed phase transitioned to strength work.

    (6) You never mentioned your affinity for chocolate deserts at 12:45pm? :)

    Well done again. Inspiring stuff.


    Thanks!. Yes, I have always had a fierce sweet tooth. I changed the diet a bit over the last year or more, I've dramatically increased the amount of fat and protein I eat. I have a fry for breakfast most days, I've ditched the spreads in favour of real butter, and I snack on nuts. I do keep some dark chocolate in the desk drawer, and I go for the sugary snacks after a session, but I'm less hungry and in fact I find some things that I'd previously devoured taste sickly sweet now. But yes, I like a nice dessert. I even have them at 12:45 am on occasion - I'm a divil for the early morning commando raids on the kitchen.

    Thanks for putting me in the spotlight - sneaky!:rolleyes:




  • Southbourne Fast & Flat 10k

    This race is organised by my sons school so I run it if at all possible. In fact the last race I ran was this one last year. It's a mostly out and back course with a few twisty bits at the end to make up the 10k. On a calm day it's very quick with just one short hill. I ran a 5*2km's session on parts of the course the previous week to try and get an idea of what pace I should aim for. It averaged out at 4:31 pace although it was well beyond 10k effort for most of the last rep. Based on that I planned to head out at 4:30 pace expecting to fade to 46 or 47 mins.

    I recently changed the units of my garmin from miles to km's but didn't realise that I'd need to change the lap unit as well so although my speed/distance was measured in kilometers my lap marker was still coming out in miles.

    1st mile - Started off a little quick but wasn't long getting into a 4:30 groove. The mile was done at 4:23 pace which reflects the slightly faster start and the one downhill in the race. Felt well in control and was passing quite a few people as the race settled down.

    Mile 2 - Continued to pass the faster starters here and virtually latched onto a Christchurch runner who was about 20 metres ahead but making steady progress through the groups. 4:30 pace

    Mile 3 - The turnaround point comes shortly before the three mile mark and counting the runners coming in the opposite direction I worked out that I was in 86th or 87th position. There was small incline to get around a roundabout and I pushed off on the downhill section catching and passing the Christchurch runner that I had been following. 4:30 pace

    Mile 4 - I was a little surprised to feel a strongish breeze in my face (conditions were excellent) and made the decision to catch up with a group of 10 runners ahead to try and get shelter but most of them were slowing and I went straight through the group with a couple of them tagging on to me. It was at this point that I first heard a weird shout of 'Come on' behind me. 4:28 pace

    Mile 5 - The weird shouts turned out to be coming from one of the guys who had latched on. He pulled ahead of me during this mile and I wasn't at all sorry to see him go. Ran this mostly solo otherwise without passing anyone. 4:30 pace

    Mile 6 - Passed one of the leading ladies here and surprised myself at how easy it was to try and encourage her and say that we were on sub-45 min pace (not trying hard enough?). I caught a few runners as we approached the uphill on the way back. I put in a small effort but mostly let the others pull away. I think that they may have pushed a little too hard though and I caught them again almost immediately on the flat briefly slowing me down on a narrow section. At the 9km marker I released the brakes and pulled away. I had my eye on the 'Come on' guy who was a luminous green singlet as my long goal although he was about 150m ahead of me at this stage. I was passing a load of people as we'd caught up with the backmarkers from the 5k race which had started 10mins after the 10k so I'm not sure how many places I made up. Turned the final corner to see 'Come on' too far away too catch but made up ground all the way home finishing 8 seconds behind him.

    The time was 44:15 for 67th place which I was surprised at. Considering everything (and how my legs were when the DOMS hit 2 days later) I'm happy with how I judged my effort. While my breathing was not 10k effort until the last km my legs were pretty shot at the end and I think that I got as much out of the race as I could have.




  • Repost from London thread.

    London Marathon 2015

    Background
    I had a good year in 2013 with numerous PBs including a 3:04 marathon.
    2014 had been a disaster, despite racking up plenty of miles in the early months I had a bad DNF in London followed by a total blow up a week later in Boston despite not even trying to race it. A few injury layoffs followed and a 4 week summer holiday break with no running, meaning that by late 2014 my only PB was in the beermile and I was probably in my worst shape in years. Started training with TRR in November and tried a few parkruns to test the waters but the best I could manage was 20:20 

    Training
    Despite this poor start training went well. I trained consistently if unspectacularly through the winter and starting January began doing 2 sessions most weeks and a long run. 1st session was generally mile repeats moving to 2 and 3 mile repeats @HMP while the second was a hilly tempo at goal MP of 6:50/mile. I got this up to 8-9 miles most weeks. No real injuries to speak off, just a few niggles which had me miss 1 or 2 runs. I had a constant hip niggle which had me going to Ecoli every few weeks but not needing to miss any runs. I peaked at 72 mile per week but most importantly averaged 60 miles from January up until taper which showed consistency.
    For races I managed Bohermeen half in 87:03 and Raheny 10 mile a month later in 64:58 which showed a slight improvement. Kclub 10k 5 days after Raheny was 39:22 which was the worst result of the 3 but I was happy not to be sharp for the shorter races and figured this was a good sign.

    Plan
    Despite the various online calculators saying I was in 3:03-3:04 shape at best I wanted to give myself a chance at the elusive sub 3 but at the same stage not blow my race by going out too fast. A delicate balancing act!! I decided to run by feel but to get to 10 miles hopefully in just over 69 Minutes (20 seconds off 3hr pace) as I figured if I got to 20 in 2:18 I could grind out a 42 minute last 10k if I had it in me.

    The Race
    I met a few Waterford guys (Tony, Brendan and Sosa) in the GFA pen before the race and they had the same plan as me. We decided to go out in 7 pace and ease into sub 3 pace throughout the race by getting to halfway in 1:30:xx. I lined up with the guys and was over the startline with 30 seconds on the clock, this would make it easy to calculate splits throughout.

    0-5k (21:27)
    The lads pulled ahead of me from the off and it was pretty crowded so I didn’t bust a gut to catch up. After a slow first mile (7:04), I caught up with the lads halfway through mile 2 and had a smooth 6:49. Mile 3 was mostly downhill so 6:44 was easy. We went through 5k where I wanted to be so I stopped looking at the Garmin from here on. I don’t think I glanced at it again.

    5-10k (21:15)
    The road opened up here and myself and Tony seemed to pull away from Sosa and Brendan. Sosa was only going for sub 3:10 (he indeed ran 3:09) so I was hoping not to see him again!! The running here felt pretty handy. Splits were 6:42, 6;50, 6:51. I got chatting to a few lads from Star of the sea here and lost Tony for a second. He pulled away in front of me and I saw him looking back to see where I was but there were a few people between us and I couldn’t get to him. Lost the balbriggan lads here too so I was now on my own.

    10-20k (21:33, 21:38)
    I think it was around 8 miles when I first started to realise I might be in trouble. The hip felt a little tight and the effort a touch hard for this stage. I tried to take it mile by mile and the mood swung wildly!! Still I tried to stay positive and focus on good form. I told myself I was gone past where I blew up the year before already and the 3hr group (which started about a minute behind me) were yet to catch so stay focussed. So I took it mile by mile and tried to stay in good form. The course had digital clocks at each mile marker and I was wanting to see each mile click off under 7 minutes. I also knew if I slowed down and people came streaming past me I could easily get quickly demoralised so I reckoned I had made my bed now and no going back!!
    I went through 10 miles just over 69 minutes as planned and pushed up to the halfway point. Splits from 7-12 miles 6:52, 6:46, 6:57, 6:52, 6:52, 6:52. These miles were fairly bumpy

    20-30k (21:37, 22:13)
    After a momentary panic about my split at 20k (miscalculation) I got to the halfway line in 1:30:3x which I was happy enough about. But Around 14 miles I had a body check and my legs felt very very heavy. Simultaneously the red 3hr group came from behind at 14 miles and really bugged me. They were pushing and barging to get past and this seemed to go on for over a mile. OP was in this group and he gave me a shout as he went past but I had a face of thunder!! I knew I wasn’t going to go under 3 by now so I just wanted them to clear off and let me run my own race. It would have been easy to let negativity flood my brain at this point and to be honest I was thinking ‘How the fcuk am I gonna go another 12 miles when the legs are hanging off me already’? I resolved to take it step by step though. I figured get to 25k and reassess. Then I said get to 18 miles then 30k then 20 miles etc. Coming into canary wharf area around 16 miles there were big cheers going up around and I spotted a guy in a mankini up ahead. This was all I needed to see to be honest it was a horrible sight from behind. So I pushed on and used the fear of seeing him again to motivate me. There were a few new roads in this section and a few hills which strangely I enjoyed and seemed to pass a few on, only for them to come past on the down. Generally though I was holding my place in the field and passing a good few people which took the mind off the legs. Splits from 13-19 6:59, 6:55, 7:00, 7:02, 7:11, 7:19, 6:46 ( I think the last two are dodgy).

    30k-finish (22:34, 23:14, 11:05)
    My next big goal was to get to 20 miles and reassess. I knew I had slipped a little pace wise since halfway so I wouldn’t make 2:18 as planned but was happy to see 2:19:xx when I went through. This means that despite the suffering I had only leaked a minute between 10 and 20 miles and had 45 minutes+ for 10k to still hit a PB!! Result!!
    With renewed optimism I pushed on past 20 and was looking forward to 22 miles when we would go past tower bridge again and head for home. The legs were heavy as hell by now but amazingly no signs of cramp which had been the big fear since 14 miles. Could they hold out? At 22 miles I flew past Tony from Waterford but almost simultaneously Brendan who I hadn’t seen since 5k came past the two of us. (He was actually fading too but his 7:10s here made him look like he was flying). I was studying the clocks here a lot. With 5.2 miles to go I could see that 38:30 would get me sub 3:05 then with 7.2k I had 34 minutes. All seemed achievable but I was waiting for a clock to tell me I could slow right down and still hit a PB. Sadly that never happened. Then a 24 miles disaster!! Finally the legs siezed up on a tunnel and both legs locked with cramp simultaneously. I have been here before so I just dug in, adjusted my gait and got on with it, but I knew the pace was slow now as people came streaming past me. I got a few shouts out around the 40k mark (Brainderunner and RainbowKirby) but I couldn’t look around as I knew my neck would cramp!! So Apologies again but I just ploughed on!! I was really willing the race to finish by now as every step hurt so the sight of big ben and a mile to go was a very welcome one and I counted down the 800m 400m signs which seemed to take an age. I really felt I was doing 10 minute miles here as the amount of people coming past was incredible so I was surprised to see I never slowed too badly. Splits from 19-26.2 were 7:14, 7:12, 7:21, 7:24, 7:28, 7:56, 8:01 and 7:30 for the last .31.

    Finish time 3:06:35 (7:05/mile)

    I was never so happy to see a finish line but the 400m walk to collect my bag was the worst part of the race by far. Thanks again to OP for getting my bag for me and for providing a tree to lean against. After finally getting some warm clothes on I came around a bit and walked off to the hotel.

    Conclusion.
    My Initial reaction (other than thank fcuk it’s over) was to be disappointed in not grinding out a PB (or a sub 3:05 GFA) but to be honest the way I ran it I couldn’t have done better so I have to be happy.
    Yes If I had ran the first half a bit slower I reckon I would have run a comfortable PB but feck it; you only live once and I am glad I went for it then proved myself I was mentally strong when the going got tough. It could have been a hell of a lot worse and I would have taken 3:06 at 14 miles for sure.




  • Report from London is here


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  • Report from London is here

    That's a wonderful report to match a great performance - a fall, 3 cramps and some walking but you still managed a negative split! Great stuff.




  • Background
    I’ve been following the P&D up to 55, 12 week plan, for a few weeks mostly to try and build a base again but nominally with a view to doing Dublin. I started it 11 weeks out from Dublin and if I get any kind of a niggle that stops me from running I don’t plan to do the marathon as I just haven’t got the endurance and don’t want to take any big risks with the bigger picture of being able to run consistently in mind. I’m surprised that I’ve got this far in actually and am cautiously revising my thoughts on my chances of running – still only about 40% but well up from the 10% chance I gave myself at the start.

    So the plan called for 9m w/[email protected] last week. As I’ve been struggling to get the right effort levels in for tempos and the week I’m skipping includes one of the tune up races I thought I’d swap the week around and do this 5 mile race.

    Warm up
    Well I screwed that up – something about a race being close to home plus an early morning airport trip allied to a latish night meant that I was a bit blasé about getting going and I didn’t leave myself enough time to warm up properly. I did a lunge matrix and the Myrtl routine plus about ¾’s of a mile running which was just enough to warn me that my hips were stiff. I took a minute to do what I could to loosen them which helped but I knew that they were too tight.

    Race
    I’ve run this race once before 2 years ago (33:31) and it’s not a great course – lots of twists and turns allied to numerous undulations plus the number of footpaths used mean that you can never settle into a rhythm. Also the start of this race is mad. It’s not a big race with 258 runners yesterday but after about 200m we go through what is basically a gap in a hedge which can fit one person either side of a bollard (https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@50.7433078,-1.8259641,3a,75y,259.03h,68.44t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s2UQxMm0zcX3xeE5mDGuYog!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1).

    Goals
    I’ve only run 5 mile races twice before and my PB is from 2 years ago which is at a slower pace than my half PB so a PB is my minimum. I’ve got my time from the Tullamore half in mind, on it’s own it suggests about 35 mins but it was a half and I figure that I’m better suited to the shorter stuff so 32:30 is in my head as a good time. It’s indicative of how much thought I put into the race that I only had 2 goals rather than the 3 I like to have in any race.

    Start
    What I should have done particularly in light of the limited warm up was ease into the race but with the gap in mind and the usual adrenalin of the start of a race I found myself going on to the grass to get past people. It doesn’t help that the first half mile is up and down footpaths with plenty of overgrown hedges. You get the usual couple of people who start too near the front of the race for their fitness and I found myself running through unkempt hedges a couple of times to get past them. I wasn’t just passing people though as one of the ladies from the club whom I thought I might be close to swept past me at this stage at a pace that didn’t invite any thoughts of tagging on. She was followed by 5 or 6 other members of the club who were tagging on to her. 6:37 for the first mile represented a pretty good pace judgement though I was working a little harder than I would have liked.

    The second mile has the main uphill parts to it and I started getting that feeling of stiffness that we used to attribute to lactic acid but is apparently something else. My left calf complains that I didn’t do any dynamic stretching beforehand and a glance at my HRM showed 162 which left me cursing my lack of warmup again but I back off slightly as I won’t sustain that effort for 5 miles. About halfway through the mile one of the guys in my club goes past. I haven’t run with him for ages but I’m still a little surprised to see him go past. We yo-yo a little for the next half mile.

    Around about the start of the 3rd mile a quick body scan tells me that I’m all over the place so I settle back and relax into a shorter more controlled stride. Almost immediately I overtake my clubmate and start pulling away (he’s a minute back by the end). I’m reviewing my pace at this stage and thinking that a small PB is still on the cards but far from certain. The mile itself is probably the least pleasant of the race, up and down footpaths and lots of twists and sharp turns. I’ve started to catch and overtake people though. I have one annoying moment as I come up behind two runners who force me on to the grass to overtake which was totally unnecessary. I use momentum as I duck under an overgrown hedge to pull away from another.

    Mile 4 is the deceptive one as you head back towards the start/finish you think that you’re closer than you are but you still have an extra loop to do at the end of the race. I make up time on the downhills and lose a little on the uphills but continue to gradually make up a couple of positions. Heart rate is now at 165 but I’m not feeling the burn and can sustain the effort. I’ve started to catch the group from my club that swept by me in the first mile and pass a couple between now and the finish.

    Mile 5 has that annoying loop I mentioned with more sharp turns though thankfully at this stage not many other runners to fight for space with. I notice that my left foot has gone numb which I’ve never experienced before. Wonder if it’s going to have any impact and adjust my stride slightly which seems to help a little. As we come into the park I’m closing on another guy from my club and contemplate sprinting. I tell myself that this is a substitute for a tempo and don’t sprint (more likely reason is that I wasn’t sure that I could sprint!). 33:11 on the clock, 33:07 on my watch which is adjusted to 33:08 when I get my chip time.

    Aftermath
    Afterwards I caught up with the others from the club. There were free massages which I thought would be a good idea for my calves but it was a mistake and I end up cold from hanging around for 40 mins so I skipped the extra miles that I should have done.

    I know that I shouldn’t be disappointed but I am a bit although mostly I’m annoyed with myself. I don’t know that I would have gotten to 32:30 with proper preparation but I should have given myself the chance. In any case my time fits in quite neatly with what I was hoping was marathon pace at the Tullamore half. I get the chance to make amends in 3 weeks time at the Bournemouth marathon festival 10k which if it’s calm will be a lightning fast flat course with just 3 sharpish turns on a pier to slow runners down. I was asked for a predicted time when I entered and I put down 41 mins which is 32:30 equivalent I think. There's also a couple of VO2 max sessions between now and then which should help.




  • Bournemouth Marathon Festival Supersonic 10k


    Build up
    So I mentioned a few weeks ago that I'd be doing a 10k this weekend as part of my training for DCM. The lead up to it unfortunately was not ideal. Without going into too many details I had a couple of niggles which mean that I’m not doing DCM this year. For this race my right calf was complaining a bit but I'd paid my entry fee and it's local to me so I decided to toe the start line and if the calf started complaining I'd jog home.


    Pre-race
    Remembering my previous race I left in plenty of time, parked at my work place and jogged down to the start. I was genuinely surprised at the scale of the event. I thought that there would be a few hundred runners at best but the area was absolutely teeming - it turns out that there were 1440 finishers which is a lot for a town this size especially when there's also a 5k, half and marathon being run as part of the event.

    I did my usual warm up and the calf was still bothering me so I took a chance and did some static stretching. I didn't think that I'd get through the race as it was so if it made it worse I'd just be jogging from an earlier point in the course.

    The course
    Pancake flat, out and back along the prom for the first half followed by an out and back in the other direction. I didn’t check the wind but I could feel it in my face running in both directions which suggests that it was minimal. Maybe 16C was a bit hot but it was cloudy and aside from the 2 very tight 180 degree turns and 3 turns around the pier it’s a lightning fast course with no excuses for not running a quick time.

    Target
    I came into the race with a PB of either 41:11 or 41:13 I think. With the mixed build up that I’d had I’d given up hope of threatening a sub-40 which I had maybe wondered a few weeks before but I thought that a PB might be feasible if the calf held out. 41 mins which had seemed like a relatively soft target when I entered now looked a bit more challenging. Paradoxically because I don’t value the PB that highly I was willing to take the risk of running a bad race to get one so 4:06 mins per km pace was my target.

    Start line indecision
    Making my way towards the start I realised that there were pens for different times depending on what you had predicted when entering. My 41 minutes prediction put me in the second pen which I was disgusted to learn on the start line had me leaving 15 seconds after the first wave. With my ‘wise’ head on I decided to start at the back of the pen to stop me from going off too quickly. At the last moment as the adrenalin started moving I suddenly got afraid that I'd be stuck behind someone aiming for 48 mins and made my way about halfway up the pen.

    Mile 1
    We eventually get going and I was quickly hemmed in on all sides. I was regretting my decision not to move further forwards until I looked at the pace on my garmin (which I've switched to km's for the race) and saw 4:03. At the 1km marker I felt very comfortable and started to wonder if maybe I couldn't go faster than I thought. The first mile is split in 6:31 with an AHR of 149 which is a pretty low HR for me.

    Mile 2
    There's a 180 degree turn shortly after the first mile and I lose a little speed here – it’s also starting to feel a bit harder so I pick out a runner who seems to be going well. At this stage we’re already starting to go past some of the faster starters. The mile passeed uneventfully in 6:37 but with an AHR of 161. Apparently someone who works with me and was also running called at me here but I was oblivious.

    Mile 3
    The third mile took us back to the starting point – there was some consolidation of runners here as the guy I was tracking caught up with a few in front of him. The end of mile 3 brought us on a lap of the pier and the bounciness of the wooden surface seemed to get to some of the runners in the pack as they came right back to me. I made my way through most of them but lose a few seconds doing it and mile 3 came in at 6:44 and 162.

    Mile 4
    I realised that the runner I had been tracking hadn’t picked up the pace off the pier and I go past as we head away from the pier for the second half of the race. Mile 4 is memorable for a shout out from somebody – I don’t know who but I’d guess somebody from the club. I picked a bottle of water up at the start of this mile and poured some over my head. Oddly my technical top retained the water like it’s a cotton t-shirt which was a bit annoying. 6:36 and 164 as the effort level kept climbing.

    Mile 5
    I lost focus on mile 5 partly due to a stitch perhaps – I thought that I was working hard but I should have realised that I had more to give when someone came past me. I realised it just after the turnaround point and immediately went past the woman who had just passed me and was in turn overtaken by another runner myself who I started tracking. 6:48 and 164 for this mile.

    Mile 6
    I realised that mile 5 had left me in danger of not getting a PB so the first focus was on keeping up with the runner who had passed me. Initially he pulled away a little but either he slowed or I sped up and I caught up with him at about the 6 mile mark – 6:32 and 166. It felt pretty tough going by that stage.

    Final bit
    There were a few of us together all going as hard as we could. I turn the last corner and tried to sprint for home. My gait changed but it didn’t feel like I sped up at all. It felt like I was running in treacle but I managed to pass a couple more without being passed and crossed the line in 41:01. The last section came in at 6:06 pace and 169 AHR.

    So, 10km in 41:01 and an AHR of 161 for 53rd place by chip timing. A moment or two was spent trying not to involuntarily disgorge the non-existent contents of my stomach before I congratulated the runners around me.

    A new PB by ten seconds or so – I’m still some way off the level of fitness I was at when I achieved my earlier PB on a much harder course when I was 2 stone heavier but a PB is a PB and I’ll take it.

    What next?

    Now that I’ve given up on DCM I need to set myself a new target. I’m still toying with some ideas with a half marathon at the beginning of March in Wrexham up near the top of the list at the moment. OTOH I may just try and train consistently and break the 40 min barrier for 10k.


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  • Oct 25th 2015, Frankfurt Marathon

    I was wondering where to start this report. A bit of background about my marathon history, the training for this one etc. But I decided I’d just deal with the details of the weekend itself. It’ll be rambling enough at that! God knows how I’ll do it justice, but I’ll do my best.
    So the actual journey to Frankfurt began Friday afternoon when four of us got together to drive up to the airport. It was good that one of us could drive as it put us more in charge of things from the start. We could decide on the right time to head off and not have any pressure getting to the airport on time. All the pent up nervous energy seemed to dissipate a little as soon as were on the road. There was non-stop chat about what lay ahead of us and we were soon at the Poitín Stil where we would have a bit of lunch before getting to the airport. Onto the airport then for a 17:50 flight which was grand. A nice drop of wine during the flight helped keep things calm. I had two glasses as one of the lads was taking absolutely no chances on this trip. He had treated his body like a temple all through the training for this one and wasn’t about to let things slide now! No problems on that front with myself. I had been quite content to contaminate my body with the odd drink over the last few weeks so why change things?
    The flight was smooth as was the baggage collection. One of us had been on a slightly earlier flight (he booked later than us and got a better deal!) and when we met up we headed for the train into the centre of Frankfurt. It was all very straightforward of course, being in Germany and all that, but of course us being Irish, we missed our stop at the central station. Thankfully the next stop was only about two minutes further down the line and we got ourselves a taxi to the hotel. Again the fella who booked his trip later than us was staying in a different hotel to us but it was only a couple of hundred metres down the street from ours. So we all got out there and walked the rest of the way to our hotel. By now it was about 11 pm local time and it was noticeable that the area we were walking through was seedy enough with a lot of groups of people drinking on the street and we even witnessed some people openly taking drugs. It was a bit disconcerting to say the least and I dragging a little red suitcase along behind me stood out a little bit!! But the atmosphere was not that threatening as all the groups just kept to themselves. Once we arrived at our hotel we were very quickly checked in. I had a room to myself which was nice as I could be a slobbish as I wanted! The hotel was perfect for what we needed. The rooms were small but very clean as were the bathrooms. The beds were excellent, really comfortable. Things were going well so far. Once we had settled into the rooms we headed out to have one drink to get a feel for the atmosphere around Frankfurt. And where would the best place for that be? An Irish bar of course! At least we had a weissbier! Well two of the boys stuck to the water. Back then to the hotel and a relatively good night’s sleep which was interrupted by intermittent sirens. I reckon the hotel is on a main route to a hospital as most of the sirens were from ambulances passing right by the door of the place.
    Next morning we headed looking for breakfast. There were no dining facilities in our hotel, it was lodging only. There was an arrangement with a hotel a couple of doors down from ours for breakfast and we said we’d avail of that option for handiness sake. At €12 it was expensive but there was a good spread and the scrambled eggs were excellent! After breakfast we were going to do the “Pretzel Run” which was a 5k run organised from the marathon start. We could see lots of people passing our hotel on the way to it. But we changed our minds and decided to just head off on our own final jog before the big day itself. It turned out to be a good decision as we had a really enjoyable trot around the area and got a nice few strides in along the banks of the River Main which was a nice place to run. We also happened upon the hotel where the rest of the crew from our group (Asimonov and his brothers!) were staying. They had flown out earlier Friday and we hadn’t managed to meet up yet. It was good to meet and make arrangements for the rest of the day. There was a suggestion about going on a bit of a boat trip on the river later but we still had to get to the expo and get registered (Asimonov had done all tis the day before.) so we said we’d see how things would go. I had booked an Italian restaurant months ago for the all-important carb loading and as it turned out, we wouldn’t meet up again until until dinner time there. So we headed on again and once we got back to the hotel and changed we were anxious to hit the expo and get all that stuff out of the way. It was only a few hundred metres up from the hotel, so our location was very convenient for the race itself. When we arrived the Pretzel run people were still around so of course up we went and got our own pretzel, drink and, most importantly, medal! If things were to go pear shaped the following day at least we’d have something to show from our travels! The expo itself was quite good with a lot of gear on display with the odd bargain here and there. Registration was quick and easy. I like the atmosphere at marathon expos. There always seems to be an energy about them. I suppose it’s the air of expectancy about the place with everybody in the same boat wondering what lays ahead over the next 24hrs or so. The lads headed back to the hotel fairly quickly but I hung around a bit longer soaking up the atmosphere. Also I wanted to find where my name was printed on the big “marathon wall” which was in the centre of the room. After about 15 minutes staring at it I found it at about head height right in front of where I was standing! I should’ve seen it almost immediately! That was my cue to head back to the room and hook up with the boys. The evening meal was to be at 6:30 and already we were getting peckish so we went looking for another Italian to start on the carbs. What we eventually found was a little place right across the road from our hotel that we hadn’t noticed earlier at all. We stuffed ourselves with pasta and pizza. Between us we ate three large bowls of spaghetti and four twelve inch pizzas. With drinks, the bill only came to €52! The food was excellent. Some value. It was 3:30 by the time we left. We’d be eating again in three hours! Where would we put it? Anyway back across the street we went and we all went back to the rooms for an afternoon nap. Another good decision I feel as we all got a really decent rest and were refreshed for the evening ahead.
    We met at the restaurant at the appointed time and everyone was in great form. One of the worries we all had heading into the race was that the water would be in cups. None of us had much experience taking water this way. The only time I tried it I almost choked myself. As it worked out though one of the lads had picked up some kind of virus earlier during the summer and wouldn’t be running the next day. He had kindly offered to head out onto the course during the marathon to give us drink bottles at not one but two places along the way! Fair flucks to him!! He even had the route map with him to show us where he would be standing waiting for us. He was going to be at the 15k mark and at 34k also. Another little helping hand that would be very welcome the next day. Myself and the lads who had stuffed ourselves earlier only managed about half a pasta dish but it was just about perfect as all the grub would all have worked its way through the system well in advance of race time tomorrow. Back to the hotels then, all in great form and ready for the challenge ahead. I was quite relaxed myself. As soon as I was back in the room it was time to lay out the gear for the next day. Amazingly I was still quite relaxed and soon after hitting the sack I was asleep. The clocks were going back which would give us an extra hour in the morning. Still though, I set an alarm on my phone and my watch as well as organising a wake up call from reception.
    I didn’t need any of the above measures as I was awake at around 6 o’clock and immediately feeling nerves that had so far not really been a bother. After all the months of training, waiting, the day was finally here! The lads were awake early as well so after a bit of pottering around we again headed up the street for breakfast. The lads were in good form and were mad for grub. Me? All I could get down were two croissants with a bit of jam. €6 each! Still though they filled a gap and I wasn’t too worried about breakfast. I don’t think the breakfast has much of an impact on the race. Back to the rooms then and it was time to tog out. The lad down the road was to call at 9 o’clock on the way to the start and from then it took just five minutes to get there. We met up with Asimonov and his brother straight away and had a bit of craic helped ease the tension. I went up to the bag drop with my change of gear for after the race. (The rest of the lads left theirs in the hotel) The conditions were absolutely perfect. Dry, calm and around 12 degrees. We hung around a while and some of the lads went for a bit of a warm up. There was no sign of them coming back so eventually we headed into the starting pen. When we had arrived at the start there didn’t seem to be too much of a crowd actually in the pen but now it was packed and it was very difficult to get up near the start line. I was a bit peeved at this because we had been there early enough to have avoided this. Eventually we made our way up to about twenty metres from the start line and with about ten minutes to go all there was left to do now was wait for the off. It was one of the longest ten minutes ever!
    At 10:00 am on October 25th in Frankfurt we were at last on the final 26.2 mile leg of a journey that began in the foyer of the Spring Hill Court Hotel in Kilkenny sometime last February when we got together after a track session to investigate our options for this weekend. Now the race was actually on! We had got near enough to the front of the race to prevent having to weave in and out between slower runners and I got into my stride right from the off. I had always had the garmin set to miles and all my training was done at minutes per mile paces but because Frankfurt was measured in km with km markers I decided to change for this race. I was a little bit worried about that but I had the pace band and knew what splits should be. Even during the first few km it seemed to me that the standard of the “ordinary” runners in this race was higher than what I’d encountered before. For most of the first part there was a fairly constant stream of people passing me. I was determined to hold my 2:55 pace and at this stage was feeling quite comfortable. I was tempted to tag along with the odd passer by but resisted the urge. I had my plan and I would stick to it. I wasn’t coming all the way out here to blow up in the last miles of the race just because of a bit of over exuberance during the early miles or should I say km! Another thing that became clear was that the tall buildings were completely messing with the gps signal and the watch was not anywhere near matching up with the markers. After the first two km I turned off the auto lap function and would do it manually from there to the finish. I was bang on pace so far and feeling good. In fact I thought that I would be under more pressure at this pace so this was great. There were a lot of sharp turns during this part of the race and we had to be careful with the kerbs as we rounded each corner. The first 5k were thankfully uneventful for me at least. It wasn’t the same for Asimonov who was almost bulldozed out of it in the first k by a gobsh1te who came storming up from behind and barged right into him. I have no idea why he did this. There was plenty of room for him to pass. Asimonov’s race could have ended right there but thankfully he kept his feet and ran a great race, passing the gobsh1te about 2 k from the finish. My first 5k split was 20:44. Right on target and feeling strong. So far so good. The next 5k would go along the same lines. A big plus was how drinking from the cups was going. I was grabbing them and squeezing them into a kind of spout which allowed me to sip from them fairly easily without sputtering all over myself! The second 5k split was 20:43. Bang on. The course was so flat. There was a small drag in the tenth k but it was nothing really. It was during the next 5k that I had my first bit of concern. The odd time during the training block my right hamstring had given me a bit of discomfort and just before the 15k mark it gave me a little bit of a dart! It was completely out of the blue and while it didn’t upset my rhythm it did mess with my head. Our drinks man was waiting as planned just after the 15k mark and was a sight for sore eyes. Here I took the first of my gels which I was carrying along diluted in a drink bottle that I was able to carry very comfortably for the whole race. The 15 k split was 20:42. This was going well! Could I keep it together? I was still feeling strong and was even beginning to feel a little confident. The next 5k went by in 20:43. I was sticking rigidly to the plan. The flat course made this a good bit easier. Soon after the half way point was reached in 1:27:22.
    Once I got past half way in such good shape I began to push it just a little bit. The reminders from the hamstring kept me from overdoing it which was probably a good thing. This part of the course had a lot of long flat straights and was quiet enough as regards spectators. To be honest though I wasn’t minding the surroundings much. I was really focused on getting this job done. We could have been running in an industrial estate for all I cared. The 25k split was 20:37. I had passed one of the lads who had headed off fast from the start at around 24k. We chatted a little but I was determined not to change my pace and carried on ahead after a few hundred metres. He was in good spirits but was slowing up a good bit at that stage. The kilometres were still ticking by at a nice rate. By now I was beginning to feel that the “A” target was really on! Just keep things going as they are and not get carried away. The 30k split was 20:34 and still feeling good even with the slightly quicker pace. Now the real stuff was to begin. From around this point I began to do calculations in my head. How much could I afford to slow down over the last 10k and still go sub 2:55, sub 3:00 even which would still have made this somewhat of a success. The 35k split was back to the 20:43 mark. For the first time now I began to allow myself believe I could actually do this. But then, as if the marathon gods were telling me to cop on, I began to slow down ever so slightly and the effort levels were rising. I wonder if this was because I lost focus and concentration with the distraction of doing all the maths and beginning to look towards the finish a bit early. I remember making a right turn not long after receiving the second water bottle from our faithful companion (who had hired a bike to get from the 15k point to the second chosen hydration point!) and for the first time in ages seeing the skyline of the financial centre. Only 8k left. I thought of the run I’ve done from my front gate so many times over the last few years that’s the same distance. Getting close now but still so much could go wrong. I could still hit the wall. I was beginning to get worried. Could things still go pear shaped? Maybe the hamstring could still go. I’d heard enough stories of marathons coming off the rails over the last few kilometres. I didn’t want to add to them. I now felt I was definitely slowing. I even began to try and work out what I would need to do to the finish just to break the 3hr mark when I was still right on target for the 2:55. This period of doubt lasted up to the 40k mark which saw my slowest 5k split of the race of 20:50.
    So there was a little over 2k left and the 2:55 was still completely in my own hands. I had been worrying way too much about a small drop in pace when in actual fact I was still in reasonably good shape. I was still passing runners, which I had been steadily doing since half way. I had paced myself well and now had a chance to achieve something that, even at the start of the training cycle, I didn’t think was possible. Ffs 2k left, five laps of a track. I could probably walk to the finish and still break three hours. It was time to throw caution to the wind and let it rip! From being afraid of having a dnf I was now going all out with a smile on my face. I’ve never enjoyed the closing stages of any race like this one. I was feeling great now with a renewed bounce in my step. Hamstring? What hamstring? I was passing loads now and really enjoying the crowd approaching the finish. As I rounded the last corner about 300m from the entrance to the Festhalle indoor arena where the finish line was, I broke into what felt like an all-out sprint. I was roaring and waving at the spectators lined up on both sides to cheer louder. Did they not realise what I was about to achieve? The last 60 or so metres inside the hall was full of fist pumps and more roaring. There was loud music, flashing lights and then the finish line. I stopped the watch at 2:54:13! Was I happy? No, I was fcuking delirious! I couldn’t believe that al the training and effort had actually paid off. I made my way around the back of the finish area and waited for the rest of the lads to finish. They were soon in and all had achieved their targets! We all got our medals and met with Asimonov who had run a brilliant race which was almost a pb. There were loads of refreshments available including beer! The sense of elation and satisfaction I felt was not abating and I didn’t want it to. Not only had I run the best marathon of my life but I wasn’t in bits after it! We hung around for ages. But eventually I went up to get my bag before we headed back to the hotel. Before we did though, we all got the medals engraved with our names and finishing times. We were like a bunch of kids.
    What a day! I could go on about the rest of the day and our celebrations but this report is way too long already. Suffice to say we had a good one.
    So many things worked out for this marathon to produce the result it did for me. Training, lack of injury, travel/hotel arrangements, perfect course, perfect conditions and most of all a great bunch of clubmates who made all of the above so enjoyable. The motivation I got from them all through the cycle and the craic we had during the many long runs and tempo runs we shared was a major factor in the feelgood factor that surrounded this whole project. In hindsight there was no way we were going to fail!
    I was a hurler for most of my sporting life and when that came to it’s natural end I thought that my days as part of a team were gone. How wrong I was. Joining Gowran A.C. just under two years ago was one of the best things I’ve ever done sporting wise. It opened up a whole new sporting world to me and gained me a bunch of new friends. There’s a great atmosphere in the club and good advice is always at hand (Thx Asimonov!). I’ve had many memorable days on the hurling field with my club and county and this whole weekend ranks right up there with the best of them. And there’s more to come……
    Thanks lads!!
    Oct 25th 2015, Frankfurt Marathon
    I was wondering where to start this report. A bit of background about my marathon history, the training for this one etc. But I decided I’d just deal with the details of the weekend itself. It’ll be rambling enough at that! God knows how I’ll do it justice, but I’ll do my best.
    So the actual journey to Frankfurt began Friday afternoon when four of us got together to drive up to the airport. It was good that one of us could drive as it put us more in charge of things from the start. We could decide on the right time to head off and not have any pressure getting to the airport on time. All the pent up nervous energy seemed to dissipate a little as soon as were on the road. There was non-stop chat about what lay ahead of us and we were soon at the Poitín Stil where we would have a bit of lunch before getting to the airport. Onto the airport then for a 17:50 flight which was grand. A nice drop of wine during the flight helped keep things calm. I had two glasses as one of the lads was taking absolutely no chances on this trip. He had treated his body like a temple all through the training for this one and wasn’t about to let things slide now! No problems on that front with myself. I had been quite content to contaminate my body with the odd drink over the last few weeks so why change things?
    The flight was smooth as was the baggage collection. One of us had been on a slightly earlier flight (he booked later than us and got a better deal!) and when we met up we headed for the train into the centre of Frankfurt. It was all very straightforward of course, being in Germany and all that, but of course us being Irish, we missed our stop at the central station. Thankfully the next stop was only about two minutes further down the line and we got ourselves a taxi to the hotel. Again the fella who booked his trip later than us was staying in a different hotel to us but it was only a couple of hundred metres down the street from ours. So we all got out there and walked the rest of the way to our hotel. By now it was about 11 pm local time and it was noticeable that the area we were walking through was seedy enough with a lot of groups of people drinking on the street and we even witnessed some people openly taking drugs. It was a bit disconcerting to say the least and I dragging a little red suitcase along behind me stood out a little bit!! But the atmosphere was not that threatening as all the groups just kept to themselves. Once we arrived at our hotel we were very quickly checked in. I had a room to myself which was nice as I could be a slobbish as I wanted! The hotel was perfect for what we needed. The rooms were small but very clean as were the bathrooms. The beds were excellent, really comfortable. Things were going well so far. Once we had settled into the rooms we headed out to have one drink to get a feel for the atmosphere around Frankfurt. And where would the best place for that be? An Irish bar of course! At least we had a weissbier! Well two of the boys stuck to the water. Back then to the hotel and a relatively good night’s sleep which was interrupted by intermittent sirens. I reckon the hotel is on a main route to a hospital as most of the sirens were from ambulances passing right by the door of the place.
    Next morning we headed looking for breakfast. There were no dining facilities in our hotel, it was lodging only. There was an arrangement with a hotel a couple of doors down from ours for breakfast and we said we’d avail of that option for handiness sake. At €12 it was expensive but there was a good spread and the scrambled eggs were excellent! After breakfast we were going to do the “Pretzel Run” which was a 5k run organised from the marathon start. We could see lots of people passing our hotel on the way to it. But we changed our minds and decided to just head off on our own final jog before the big day itself. It turned out to be a good decision as we had a really enjoyable trot around the area and got a nice few strides in along the banks of the River Main which was a nice place to run. We also happened upon the hotel where the rest of the crew from our group (Asimonov and his brothers!) were staying. They had flown out earlier Friday and we hadn’t managed to meet up yet. It was good to meet and make arrangements for the rest of the day. There was a suggestion about going on a bit of a boat trip on the river later but we still had to get to the expo and get registered (Asimonov had done all tis the day before.) so we said we’d see how things would go. I had booked an Italian restaurant months ago for the all-important carb loading and as it turned out, we wouldn’t meet up again until until dinner time there. So we headed on again and once we got back to the hotel and changed we were anxious to hit the expo and get all that stuff out of the way. It was only a few hundred metres up from the hotel, so our location was very convenient for the race itself. When we arrived the Pretzel run people were still around so of course up we went and got our own pretzel, drink and, most importantly, medal! If things were to go pear shaped the following day at least we’d have something to show from our travels! The expo itself was quite good with a lot of gear on display with the odd bargain here and there. Registration was quick and easy. I like the atmosphere at marathon expos. There always seems to be an energy about them. I suppose it’s the air of expectancy about the place with everybody in the same boat wondering what lays ahead over the next 24hrs or so. The lads headed back to the hotel fairly quickly but I hung around a bit longer soaking up the atmosphere. Also I wanted to find where my name was printed on the big “marathon wall” which was in the centre of the room. After about 15 minutes staring at it I found it at about head height right in front of where I was standing! I should’ve seen it almost immediately! That was my cue to head back to the room and hook up with the boys. The evening meal was to be at 6:30 and already we were getting peckish so we went looking for another Italian to start on the carbs. What we eventually found was a little place right across the road from our hotel that we hadn’t noticed earlier at all. We stuffed ourselves with pasta and pizza. Between us we ate three large bowls of spaghetti and four twelve inch pizzas. With drinks, the bill only came to €52! The food was excellent. Some value. It was 3:30 by the time we left. We’d be eating again in three hours! Where would we put it? Anyway back across the street we went and we all went back to the rooms for an afternoon nap. Another good decision I feel as we all got a really decent rest and were refreshed for the evening ahead.
    We met at the restaurant at the appointed time and everyone was in great form. One of the worries we all had heading into the race was that the water would be in cups. None of us had much experience taking water this way. The only time I tried it I almost choked myself. As it worked out though one of the lads had picked up some kind of virus earlier during the summer and wouldn’t be running the next day. He had kindly offered to head out onto the course during the marathon to give us drink bottles at not one but two places along the way! Fair flucks to him!! He even had the route map with him to show us where he would be standing waiting for us. He was going to be at the 15k mark and at 34k also. Another little helping hand that would be very welcome the next day. Myself and the lads who had stuffed ourselves earlier only managed about half a pasta dish but it was just about perfect as all the grub would all have worked its way through the system well in advance of race time tomorrow. Back to the hotels then, all in great form and ready for the challenge ahead. I was quite relaxed myself. As soon as I was back in the room it was time to lay out the gear for the next day. Amazingly I was still quite relaxed and soon after hitting the sack I was asleep. The clocks were going back which would give us an extra hour in the morning. Still though, I set an alarm on my phone and my watch as well as organising a wake up call from reception.
    I didn’t need any of the above measures as I was awake at around 6 o’clock and immediately feeling nerves that had so far not really been a bother. After all the months of training, waiting, the day was finally here! The lads were awake early as well so after a bit of pottering around we again headed up the street for breakfast. The lads were in good form and were mad for grub. Me? All I could get down were two croissants with a bit of jam. €6 each! Still though they filled a gap and I wasn’t too worried about breakfast. I don’t think the breakfast has much of an impact on the race. Back to the rooms then and it was time to tog out. The lad down the road was to call at 9 o’clock on the way to the start and from then it took just five minutes to get there. We met up with Asimonov and his brother straight away and had a bit of craic helped ease the tension. I went up to the bag drop with my change of gear for after the race. (The rest of the lads left theirs in the hotel) The conditions were absolutely perfect. Dry, calm and around 12 degrees. We hung around a while and some of the lads went for a bit of a warm up. There was no sign of them coming back so eventually we headed into the starting pen. When we had arrived at the start there didn’t seem to be too much of a crowd actually in the pen but now it was packed and it was very difficult to get up near the start line. I was a bit peeved at this because we had been there early enough to have avoided this. Eventually we made our way up to about twenty metres from the start line and with about ten minutes to go all there was left to do now was wait for the off. It was one of the longest ten minutes ever!
    At 10:00 am on October 25th in Frankfurt we were at last on the final 26.2 mile leg of a journey that began in the foyer of the Spring Hill Court Hotel in Kilkenny sometime last February when we got together after a track session to investigate our options for this weekend. Now the race was actually on! We had got near enough to the front of the race to prevent having to weave in and out between slower runners and I got into my stride right from the off. I had always had the garmin set to miles and all my training was done at minutes per mile paces but because Frankfurt was measured in km with km markers I decided to change for this race. I was a little bit worried about that but I had the pace band and knew what splits should be. Even during the first few km it seemed to me that the standard of the “ordinary” runners in this race was higher than what I’d encountered before. For most of the first part there was a fairly constant stream of people passing me. I was determined to hold my 2:55 pace and at this stage was feeling quite comfortable. I was tempted to tag along with the odd passer by but resisted the urge. I had my plan and I would stick to it. I wasn’t coming all the way out here to blow up in the last miles of the race just because of a bit of over exuberance during the early miles or should I say km! Another thing that became clear was that the tall buildings were completely messing with the gps signal and the watch was not anywhere near matching up with the markers. After the first two km I turned off the auto lap function and would do it manually from there to the finish. I was bang on pace so far and feeling good. In fact I thought that I would be under more pressure at this pace so this was great. There were a lot of sharp turns during this part of the race and we had to be careful with the kerbs as we rounded each corner. The first 5k were thankfully uneventful for me at least. It wasn’t the same for Asimonov who was almost bulldozed out of it in the first k by a gobsh1te who came storming up from behind and barged right into him. I have no idea why he did this. There was plenty of room for him to pass. Asimonov’s race could have ended right there but thankfully he kept his feet and ran a great race, passing the gobsh1te about 2 k from the finish. My first 5k split was 20:44. Right on target and feeling strong. So far so good. The next 5k would go along the same lines. A big plus was how drinking from the cups was going. I was grabbing them and squeezing them into a kind of spout which allowed me to sip from them fairly easily without sputtering all over myself! The second 5k split was 20:43. Bang on. The course was so flat. There was a small drag in the tenth k but it was nothing really. It was during the next 5k that I had my first bit of concern. The odd time during the training block my right hamstring had given me a bit of discomfort and just before the 15k mark it gave me a little bit of a dart! It was completely out of the blue and while it didn’t upset my rhythm it did mess with my head. Our drinks man was waiting as planned just after the 15k mark and was a sight for sore eyes. Here I took the first of my gels which I was carrying along diluted in a drink bottle that I was able to carry very comfortably for the whole race. The 15 k split was 20:42. This was going well! Could I keep it together? I was still feeling strong and was even beginning to feel a little confident. The next 5k went by in 20:43. I was sticking rigidly to the plan. The flat course made this a good bit easier. Soon after the half way point was reached in 1:27:22.
    Once I got past half way in such good shape I began to push it just a little bit. The reminders from the hamstring kept me from overdoing it which was probably a good thing. This part of the course had a lot of long flat straights and was quiet enough as regards spectators. To be honest though I wasn’t minding the surroundings much. I was really focused on getting this job done. We could have been running in an industrial estate for all I cared. The 25k split was 20:37. I had passed one of the lads who had headed off fast from the start at around 24k. We chatted a little but I was determined not to change my pace and carried on ahead after a few hundred metres. He was in good spirits but was slowing up a good bit at that stage. The kilometres were still ticking by at a nice rate. By now I was beginning to feel that the “A” target was really on! Just keep things going as they are and not get carried away. The 30k split was 20:34 and still feeling good even with the slightly quicker pace. Now the real stuff was to begin. From around this point I began to do calculations in my head. How much could I afford to slow down over the last 10k and still go sub 2:55, sub 3:00 even which would still have made this somewhat of a success. The 35k split was back to the 20:43 mark. For the first time now I began to allow myself believe I could actually do this. But then, as if the marathon gods were telling me to cop on, I began to slow down ever so slightly and the effort levels were rising. I wonder if this was because I lost focus and concentration with the distraction of doing all the maths and beginning to look towards the finish a bit early. I remember making a right turn not long after receiving the second water bottle from our faithful companion (who had hired a bike to get from the 15k point to the second chosen hydration point!) and for the first time in ages seeing the skyline of the financial centre. Only 8k left. I thought of the run I’ve done from my front gate so many times over the last few years that’s the same distance. Getting close now but still so much could go wrong. I could still hit the wall. I was beginning to get worried. Could things still go pear shaped? Maybe the hamstring could still go. I’d heard enough stories of marathons coming off the rails over the last few kilometres. I didn’t want to add to them. I now felt I was definitely slowing. I even began to try and work out what I would need to do to the finish just to break the 3hr mark when I was still right on target for the 2:55. This period of doubt lasted up to the 40k mark which saw my slowest 5k split of the race of 20:50.
    So there was a little over 2k left and the 2:55 was still completely in my own hands. I had been worrying way too much about a small drop in pace when in actual fact I was still in reasonably good shape. I was still passing runners, which I had been steadily doing since half way. I had paced myself well and now had a chance to achieve something that, even at the start of the training cycle, I didn’t think was possible. Ffs 2k left, five laps of a track. I could probably walk to the finish and still break three hours. It was time to throw caution to the wind and let it rip! From being afraid of having a dnf I was now going all out with a smile on my face. I’ve never enjoyed the closing stages of any race like this one. I was feeling great now with a renewed bounce in my step. Hamstring? What hamstring? I was passing loads now and really enjoying the crowd approaching the finish. As I rounded the last corner about 300m from the entrance to the Festhalle indoor arena where the finish line was, I broke into what felt like an all-out sprint. I was roaring and waving at the spectators lined up on both sides to cheer louder. Did they not realise what I was about to achieve? The last 60 or so metres inside the hall was full of fist pumps and more roaring. There was loud music, flashing lights and then the finish line. I stopped the watch at 2:54:13! Was I happy? No, I was fcuking delirious! I couldn’t believe that al the training and effort had actually paid off. I made my way around the back of the finish area and waited for the rest of the lads to finish. They were soon in and all had achieved their targets! We all got our medals and met with Asimonov who had run a brilliant race which was almost a pb. There were loads of refreshments available including beer! The sense of elation and satisfaction I felt was not abating and I didn’t want it to. Not only had I run the best marathon of my life but I wasn’t in bits after it! We hung around for ages. But eventually I went up to get my bag before we headed back to the hotel. Before we did though, we all got the medals engraved with our names and finishing times. We were like a bunch of kids.
    What a day! I could go on about the rest of the day and our celebrations but this report is way too long already. Suffice to say we had a good one.
    So many things worked out for this marathon to produce the result it did for me. Training, lack of injury, travel/hotel arrangements, perfect course, perfect conditions and most of all a great bunch of clubmates who made all of the above so enjoyable. The motivation I got from them all through the cycle and the craic we had during the many long runs and tempo runs we shared was a major factor in the feelgood factor that surrounded this whole project. In hindsight there was no way we were going to fail!
    I was a hurler for most of my sporting life and when that came to it’s natural end I thought that my days as part of a team were gone. How wrong I was. Joining Gowran A.C. just under two years ago was one of the best things I’ve ever done sporting wise. It opened up a whole new sporting world to me and gained me a bunch of new friends. There’s a great atmosphere in the club and good advice is always at hand (Thx Asimonov!). I’ve had many memorable days on the hurling field with my club and county and this whole weekend ranks right up there with the best of them. And there’s more to come……
    Thanks lads!!




  • My DCM race report is here. it's very long, I hadn't time to write a short one:).




  • aero2k wrote: »
    My DCM race report is here. it's very long, I hadn't time to write a short one:).

    aero, you're gonna have to stop making people cry :o am very glad I read that before I sent in my nomination for race report of the year, if you really are retiring from marathon running, writing is surely your next exploit :)




  • Firedance wrote: »
    aero, you're gonna have to stop making people cry :o am very glad I read that before I sent in my nomination for race report of the year, if you really are retiring from marathon running, writing is surely your next exploit :)

    yes yes yes! I had a very melancholy soundtrack playing in the background when I was reading it. Suffices to say, I'm glad I was at home alone reading it!

    Another epic report aero. Congratulations on your race. I'm sure both your parents would have been very proud of you. I really can't wait to do DCM again after reading that. You really captured the essence of how special an event it really is.
    Well done:)




  • Firedance wrote: »
    aero, you're gonna have to stop making people cry :o am very glad I read that before I sent in my nomination for race report of the year, if you really are retiring from marathon running, writing is surely your next exploit :)
    I have spent my life making others cry - usually for different reasons:).
    Yes, definitely retired now. I do enjoy writing, however it's not top of the list of activities I intend to direct my marathon energies towards - maybe I'll write about some of them in future.
    Ososlo wrote: »
    yes yes yes! I had a very melancholy soundtrack playing in the background when I was reading it. Suffices to say, I'm glad I was at home alone reading it!

    Another epic report aero. Congratulations on your race. I'm sure both your parents would have been very proud of you. I really can't wait to do DCM again after reading that. You really captured the essence of how special an event it really is.
    Well done:)
    Thanks! I've talked of PBs, targets, medals, but if I could have had only one wish granted it would have been to experience that "specialness", and number two would have been to somehow manage to convey to others just how wonderful an event it is. I did email the organisers to say thanks, but I suppose if I can encourage just one more person to sign up then that's a much more practical thank you.




  • aero2k wrote: »
    My DCM race report is here. it's very long, I hadn't time to write a short one:).

    I've never read a report like it, absolutely brilliant. Well done.




  • aero2k wrote: »
    My DCM race report is here. it's very long, I hadn't time to write a short one:).

    Ah Sean, fab report.

    See you at your next marathon.

    Last marathon...yeah right.




  • Ah Sean, fab report.

    Thanks Medbh - coming from someone who's written a few epics herself, that's a valuable compliment.
    I saw you at your last marathon.

    FYP - indeed you did.
    Last marathon...yeah right.

    Absolutely right! TBH, if I won the lotto and could give up work tomorrow, pay someone to do the garden and house maintenance, get a team of sports medical specialists to completely fix my left hip/groin (no reflection on the efforts of the various people who have really helped me work around the problem), get daily sports massages, go on training camps with other like-minded runners (I doubt if anyone's mind is like mine:D) etc. , I would do one more just to see how fast I could go - on reflection I might need euromillions....




  • aero2k wrote: »
    My DCM race report is here. it's very long, I hadn't time to write a short one:).


    Just had a proper read over the weekend, well done on a fab performance. Would have congratulated you in person in McGrattan's if I had let you get a word in :)




  • BeepBeep67 wrote: »
    Just had a proper read over the weekend, well done on a fab performance. Would have congratulated you in person in McGrattan's if I had let you get a word in :)

    Thanks Dom - your performance was just as impressive: I wasn't carrying a balloon, and my fall was a near miss rather than a real one. Plus I got to stop 40 min sooner - and got a good seat in the pub.

    Not sure if there's a typo above - if I was talking a lot it was down to the 3 beers - 3 times the usual (non-post marathon) dose, and I rarely drink during daylight hours - in other words it was nothing to do with being incredibly pleased with myself:).


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  • Porterstown Parkrun, Dublin 15 - Saturday 12/12/2015

    I know, I know - "it's not a race" etc etc. But this one means a lot more to me than most of the actual races !

    Having taken up running in the summer of 2012 (now 42, still male!) I've spent the vast majority of these events stuck in the middle of the pack, wondering if things would ever change! Of late, although football has taken a back seat, life has pretty much taken over to the exclusion of running.

    In spite of all this, I took second place in the Hartstown PR last week, Storm Desmond and a (slightly) quicker guy getting the better of me in the end. That was a 13 runner field!

    This morning I arrived at 9:20 having made the short jog from the house through a monsoon. Apart from the two volunteers, I was the only runner, with just ten minutes to the designate 9:30 start. With this in mind, I decided to take on a warm up lap. To my horror, I was barely half way around, and could see a few more bodies arriving at the start. Would they go on without me? I picked up the pace, and mercifully we were afforded a couple of minutes extra before we set off. Looking around I recognised most of the six(!) other runners, and believed that if normal form held up, this could be a good one. But it wasn't a normal day!!

    Laps 1 & 2
    Porterstown PR consists of 3 and a tiny bit laps, similar to Poppintree. I set off into an early lead, and although there were numerous lakes and streams to splash through, it wasn't nearly as windy as Hartstown. Better again, I seemed to be going further ahead every time I looked behind! I went through the finish with a lap to go with a lead of well over a minute? But would an extra lap to warm up be my undoing? Could anything else go wrong?

    Lap 3
    I was mindful of the fact that I hadn't got out for a run since last Saturday, and was concerned about maybe pulling a hammy, or doing something else stupid like going on my snot in one of the puddles. Another obstacle came nearly halfway around, in the form of two ladies with their four dogs. Would any of them take a shine to me? Thankfully, although one or two (of the dogs!) had a second glance, none were biting :D
    Having negotiated that obstacle, I then got back to my earlier practice of looking back every 15-20 seconds, not used to being in such a position! The other runners still weren't getting anywhere near close enough though, no matter how many times I checked on them.....

    I turned into the home straight, and with no challengers around, I felt it was safe enough to slow right down, and raise my arms high in the air in celebration. Delighted with myself, especially on such a foul day! FWIW my time was 22:xx, but this wasn't a day for PBs, and it was about 2 minutes slower than mine. Some may scoff, but it's my first place, and who knows, there might never be another! And you know what they say..."You never forget your first" :) Thanks to everyone else who ran, and to the dedicated volunteers!




  • Raheny 5 Mile 2016

    Pre Race
    Build up (for want of a better term) in relation to this, has consisted of parkruns on Saturday mornings with maybe the odd 8 mile run along the canal and back. Life has got in the way of running a lot lately, but that part of my world is on the up. Parkrun times have also been improving of late...4 course PBs from five attempts in Porterstown this year.

    Beforehand I bumped into FBOT01 (and Ferris B?) on their warmups, looking sharp and fit. I found a spot near(ish) to the front, not too close, not too far back.

    Mile 1
    Surprisingly, I didn't encounter too much heavy traffic in the opening stages. I found a little niche where nobody else seemed to bother me? and proceeded to pass a lot more than passed me. The hill going back up to the village felt fairly straightforward, although when a marshal called out "7 minutes" as we passed the mile marker, I was a bit concerned!

    Mile 2
    This was a beast, going into the wind up the Howth Road. I at least managed to hold my position fairly well, although once we turned onto Sybil Hill Road I lost a place or two overall. I wasn't too upset about this though. I still felt in reasonable shape and ready for a fight later on if necessary.

    Mile 3
    This was mainly downhill for the first half and uphill for the second half...not particularly steep either way, just draggy type hills which I seem to struggle with more than super steep ones. I had to work a bit harder to stay in touch with "my" group, and more people were passing me, but I was thinking maybe some of them were leaving it out there too soon.

    Mile 4
    Like most people, I was thinking beforehand that this would be easier, with the hill taken out. In hindsight I think I was wrong. The stretch up the avenue in St Anne's Park into the wind seemed like it would never end. I eased off a wee bit here, to try and conserve some energy for the reverse tour. On the other side (considerably ahead of me!) I noticed Caprica and PaulieYifter, both looking strong with a mile or so remaining. Eventually we got to turn around, where RedRunner was a visible and vocal presence, and I gained a few places on the way back.

    Mile 5
    I thought I would be able to really give it socks here. However, I definitely lost a good few places overall. Crusaders fans were out in force, and a good few names got called out, including MarthaStew (who finished just behind me) as I was struggling into the wind again. I knew as I turned the last corner that I had a Raheny PB in the bag (35:29), so I switched off knowing that I'd surpassed my expectations for the day. Even so, it took me a good half a minute to get my head together at the finish. Some girl was watching me, I think expecting me to keel over! Anyway, I had enough strength to get up and carry the monster goodie bag back to the car, before I drove home with a big smile on my face :D

    Next
    BHAA Garda XC in the Phoenix Park next Saturday, which usually attracts a good few Boardsies. It should be a good early test, with the Connemara Half in mind.




  • Pre Race
    Although I had run seven HMs prior to this, and one full one, I was still like a child on Christmas Eve as we headed West on Saturday morning.

    There was a small hitch at race pack pickup, as, to my horror, they didn't have one for me! I had to defer my entry from last year, but I never told them I was travelling this time. Thankfully they made one up for me there and then. Driving along the N59 and through the Inagh valley, the mile markers were up for the ultra and the full, which definitely added to the buzz.

    mojesius was my travelling companion on the bus; a fine choice for her first half marathon! An up and down 40 minute trip from Clifden landed us in Leenane a full two hours before the off. 'Twas Baltic out with a gale blowing so the cafés filled up rapidly ! About 11:30 it was time to take off the layers, as the rain started to come in over spectacular Killary Harbour. I generally "race" better without the creature comforts, but even with the gear being collected 20 minutes before the off, most people weren't too keen on shedding theirs, let alone doing much warming up. As we arrived at the start area, I found a spot between the 1:30 and 1:45 pacers, and wished mojesius well before she moved towards the back. I don't think I've ever felt so focking cold before a race. It was so wet and windy now that everyone around me just wanted to get going!

    Miles 1-3

    With the wind blowing every which way except behind us, I decided chasing a PB was only going to lead to a world of hurt. Just ignore the watch and do your best! A short downhill was immediately followed by a steep uphill as we climbed left out of Leenane. I was passing geansaí loads of people, but many had obviously started in the wrong spot, so it was tricky enough to guess who to run with. So I said to myself, just keep it steady on the hill heading out. I knew the hill would last for most of the first 2. Around the 2 mile mark, the 1:45 pacer came up behind me. In fairness to him, I can't imagine his namesake from the darts taking on such a job :) Anyway, I took this as my cue to pick up the pace. There's a difference between not considering a PB a realistic option, and just trotting around happy to "just enjoy it". Not that long ago, I would have been delighted with a 1:45! But I felt that this time I should be a bit further forward, plus my hands weren't turning blue any more and I could feel some actual warmth in my body. A guy from Enniskillen had been shadowing me more or less all the way through this section. I dropped him shortly before the end of the mainly downhill third mile, and got a bit more of a shove on, through the wind and rain.

    Miles 4-6

    There was a lot more up and down in these very exposed few miles than some would have you believe. The wind picked up too, and it truly was a case of "hang on to your hats", as I had to carry my cap in hand for a while. The shades came in handy too, with hailstones starting to lash into us from front and side on. My legs were burning already, but I was still passing people regularly, including a trio from France (2M 1F). They would be more persistent than most of the others I encountered in the first half, so much so that I ran with them for a while. Towards the end of Mile 6, there was a long very steep downhill, where I did all in my power not to fall, as it was very hard to keep the brakes on in the wet! I slowed down a bit to take some water on board at Mile 6, trying to keep the doubts at bay regarding whether I would be able to do this.

    Miles 7-9

    Mile 7 opens with a long straight and very exposed section. I passed the leader of the French trio as we left this, and didn't see any of them again. Still gaining places overall, but a guy in a red Limerick triathlon top caught me at the end of the seventh mile, which was uphill and around a sharp bend. I kept with him for the next bit, with more up and down and all around, and a constant battle with the wind and rain. There's a short but steep hill at the end of Mile 8 as you approach An Mám, where I found it hard but managed to keep the legs turning, as we eventually reached the right hander at Keane's pub and a bit of downhill respite before some water and jellies at the 9 mile marker. I had to slow down a bit for the water, but the Limerick guy was slowly pulling away by now.

    Miles 10-13.1

    As I left the water station behind, and crossed over the appropriately named Failmore River, the infamous "Hell Of The West" loomed large in front of me. It really has to be seen to be believed. Miles 10 & 11 are dominated by it. My mantra here was DON'T. STOP! My pace definitely slowed, but I was still passing people as the pain levels increased along with the wind speed. I have to say that the full and ultra mile markers were a help throughout as you approached the half ones. However on Mile 10 for ages I couldn't see the blue marker at the end. Where is it? How long is this !!! During Mile 11, I caught up to this guy who kept screaming every 20 to 25 yards at the top of his voice. I'm sure most if not of all of the other runners were in pain at this stage of proceedings, but he was the only one at that!!! Bit offputting, especially when it was almost right in my ear as I was passing him. Trouble was, as we neared the top of the hill, I was running on empty, and rather than leave him for dust in mainly downhill Mile 12, he passed me back.
    Indeed, there were still a couple of little climbs after HOTW, and it was so exposed in the last 2 miles that the blasts of wind/rain/hailstones were majorly wearing me out. I could hear the PA in the last mile, but much as I would love to honestly say I sprinted to the end, I only had enough energy to keep the same pace going. At least they called my name out, which was a bit unexpected, as I barely bagged a top 100 spot among the HM finishers, coming in not far behind the 3rd Ultra guy as it happened. I'd passed the 4th & 5th UM placers at some stage. Some going from all of them!!

    Time: 1:41:05 (1:40:40)
    Position: 93rd (or thereabouts!)

    A very pleasant surprise was waiting for me at the finish. I had bought my wife a ticket for the spectator buses, but as the weather was so bad, I didn't think she'd head out. Au Contraire :)

    I was in bits collecting various finisher goodie bags etc. Thankfully, we were able to get chairs in Peacocke's, as I felt very woozy after collecting my coffee in the hotel. Other plusses were remembering to bring a change of socks and a spare top, as well as being early enough to get a post race rub down for my completely and utterly mashed legs. Next job was to try and find mojesius, in amongst the thousands milling around the place. As it turned out, she found us, coming in frozen but delighted with herself, as we were about to go outside to look for her.

    As we boarded the bus back to Clifden, we were met by a lady handing out leaflets about "Jogging & Lyme Disease". Leave it out :rolleyes: I like to think I deserved the hot bath when we got back to our hotel!

    Analysis/An Chéad Chéim Eile (The Next Step)

    As I mentioned earlier, I decided before the start that it would be foolish to chase a PB in such conditions. I've read about some DNFs yesterday for runners who would be far better and more experienced than me, albeit in the longer distances. Had I gone all out from the start, I probably would have ended up in the same boat. Yesterday's time is 3 1/2 minutes slower than my PB (Carlingford 2014) but I would value Connemara more, and it's probably the best race I've ever run. Clontarf in July is my scheduled next HM, which provided we don't get baked, should offer a far more realistic opportunity to lower that one.

    In the meantime, I've signed up for the Dublin Marathon Race Series, with hopefully DCM at the end of it provided I stay fit and healthy. I signed up for these in 2014, but didn't make the DCM start due to injury.

    All of my training up to now has been done solo. However, that may change soon as I'm seriously considering joining a club. Even for a 40something mid pack plodder, it might add a bit more structure and value to what I'm doing, as I aim to lower my times from 5k all the way up to marathon.




  • I'd passed the 4th & 5th UM placers at some stage. Some going from all of them!!

    You can be forgiven for thinking this but I(5th place) didn't leave leanaun 'til 12:20.

    Nice running and report.
    Well done.




  • Maybe it was the 6th full marathoner I passed? Yellow bibs, green bibs, all the same when you're wrecked! I since found out that the guy on the hill got 5th place in the full. Serves me right for trying to race him! There's 3 or 4 photos on the Conn FB page of me (orange top, shades) just ahead of him and two other lads, taken at the top of HOTW. Well done you, the ultras especially deserve credit for running in such horrendous conditions. I only found out the actual Ultra start location as I was coming up to the finish; I just assumed it was the other side of Peacocke's.




  • I only found out the actual Ultra start location as I was coming up to the finish; I just assumed it was the other side of Peacocke's.

    For the same entry fee we get the pleasure of crossings the finish line twice.




  • BHAA Trinity Track Races, Wednesday 15/06/2016, Trinity College

    Pre Race
    This was an event I was all set to take part in for the first time last year, but outside events transpired to rule me out. So on a beautiful, sunny and warm (but not too warm) evening on the lawns in Trinners, I was finally to make my debut in this unique (for BHAA) event. I had a nice relaxing post work coffee before picking up my bib and heading in to get changed. All very straightforward, until I opened up my bag, and to my horror discovered that I hadn't packed any shorts! Several times tearing the bag apart didn't resolve this matter, so panic and a trip outside to find a sports shop that was still open after 6:30 on a Wednesday ensued. Not as easy as it sounds - at the third attempt about 15 minutes later I succeeded, clearing one of several issues the evening would bring up!

    Back on campus and finally suitably dressed for action, concerns moved on to whether another lack of short stuff (i.e. intervals, sprints etc) would be my downfall. The good news was, unlike for example half marathons which I'd be more used to, it wouldn't take long to find out!!

    For these races, athletes were grouped by their standards as per BHAA rankings (in general, more on that later) I was in the 12 & 13 races (or 4xx bib numbers) which, as I saw it, meant that I could be in for a prize if things went well.

    1000 yards
    The distance above is a throwback to when an old WR was set over this course and distance fadó fadó. The track looked and felt great, and with no wind to speak of, I felt in good shape as a dozen of us lined up at the start. I recognised most of the lads, but there were a few unfamiliar young 'uns who could cause greater difficulties.

    My strategy here was to go out hard and see could I hang on. I managed to get in front almost instantly, and led through the finish line and around the bottom bend, feeling fairly comfortable, or so I thought. Then it all rapidly came apart, as the kids whooshed by me and I had no answer. It didn't take long for more to stream past, and as we went through the bell (ok, no bell, although there was a starting gun!) I knew I'd well and truly made a Horlicks of it. Still another lap to go though! I made a half hearted attempt at repairing some of the damage around the top bend by the pavilion, but any lads I passed in this manoeuvre sailed by me again on the finishing straight. A classic example of how not to pace a race; I hope nobody recorded it. Shocking beyond belief.

    Time: 3:15.1
    Position: 9th

    2000 metres
    A complete strategy revision was called for, as we lined up about an hour later for our second stint; minus the kids from earlier, thankfully. This time, I deliberately started out last, to see could I work my way through the field.

    Early on the first lap, three lads were already tailing off at the back, so I quickly skipped through that group to 6th. Ahead of me were two lads in yellow tops, a work colleague, a Cru guy and a lad in a plain white top. I cleared yellow top #1 as we rounded the top bend, and then plain white top stepped off injured to leave me in 4th, but with a fair bit to make up as we completed the first lap.

    Laps 2 & 3 were similar, with Cru man and workmate jockeying for position up front, and yellow top about 5 metres behind. I was trying to keep it steady and avoid another blowup, while slowly gaining ground on the lads ahead.

    On Lap 4 I sensed the three were coming back to me, so I tried to pick up the pace a little. I briefly moved into second as we turned into the home straight, but yellow top and workmate surged back ahead as we turned into the last lap.

    Last lap I felt I had the measure of those two, and indeed I caught them again on the back straight. That still left the Cru guy, who I was also catching. I went for it around the top bend, and was still gaining as we entered the home straight. Unfortunately, he got another boost and kicked on again, so my first ever race win (not counting my parkrun first place) will have to wait! As it happened, yellow top saw his chance to grab second with a late sprint, but I just barely held on for that prize, to the sound of oohs and aahs from the crowd :D in a time of 7:49.2 .

    Post Race - The Need For Speed
    I have to say that this was one of my favourite running events ever. For a mid pack plodder like myself, grouping people by standard is a great idea. Didn't always happen last night though; spare a thought for the poor women who had to try and "race" Euro XC medallist Caroline Crowley as they all lined up together in the 2000! Sandwiches, canapés, tea, coffee, Jaffa cakes and Heineken all went down a treat afterwards, before I collected my first ever individual prize as we approached 10 PM.

    Having said all that, the races really brought it home to me just how much I have to focus on shorter work in the coming months. Otherwise, it'll probably be a case of same old, same old, in terms of times and overall performance as the year goes on. Great evening in Trinners all the same - roll on next year !!




  • Chapter 1

    The Beginning.......
    I ran my first marathon at DCM 2015. It was a strange experience. I ran it the way no marathon virgin should. I passed half way in 1:25 with the thought of stopping there and then to the fore of my mind. I dug in as best I could and finished with a marathon debut time of 2:54:32. I definitely had mixed feelings. Don’t get me wrong I was delighted with my debut time, but.....(Isn’t there always a “but” after every race!) as I was crossing the line I was already thinking about how I was going to improve for next year

    The Build up and training.....
    For me, everything about 2016 was geared towards DCM. I started preparation for it a few weeks after DCM 2015. I organised a LT test with a local tester to see what hard work lay ahead of me. It didn’t go well. I was told I was showing signs of overtraining and should back off totally for a few weeks. This was hard to do but I returned to training pre Christmas and threw myself into XC training. I ran the National Masters XC in Dundalk in January and was happy enough with my performance.

    A medical issue threw me for six in the days after. It resulted in my doctor advising against any intense training until a serious of vigorous tests was carried out. The initial tests required follow up tests and in a blink of an eye it was early June before I got the all clear. In a twisted form of thinking, I said to myself this will help me, I’m just going to have a pretty long base period!

    I ran between approx 80-100k per week up until I got the all clear concentrating on some short half marathon effort tempos with the bulk of my running between 70 and 80% of my max hr. All my recovery days were below 130bpm regardless of how I felt. I attended a family funeral in the US in March and ran in the snow and ice. I found it very tough watching my club mates on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays bombing on ahead of me. I convinced my GP to allow me to run a local 10k as a controlled run. It was one of the most enjoyable runs of the year with no pressure.

    Having got the all clear in June, I ran a local 10k three weeks later in 35:58 (20 seconds off a PB) which I was pleasantly surprised with, convinced that lack of speedwork would have left me a “busted flush baby”! It was all systems go now with the training geared for the National Half Marathon in August.

    Training in July and August consisted of two tempo runs a week, 100-300m sprint repeats and long runs not less than 25k peaking at 30k. I had one build up race in July, my first 10 miler in Roscommon which did not go well. From early on it was a complete struggle and I shuffled home in 1:03:14. I had been targeting sub 60mins in my head. I put it aside saying that it wasn’t a priority and that I hadn’t tapered. It put serious doubts in my head for the National Half.

    The National Half came and I ran 1:21:23 (20 seconds off a PB). I was happy with that. It was a tough day with headwinds and in general times appeared to be slower than the previous year. The icing on the cake was O-35 team gold.

    The shock came after the race when our coach announced we were getting two weeks off (disclaimer – 2 weeks off still consisted of three runs per week one being a semi long run). He is old school and is sceptical of modern training methods so it was very surprising. He reasoned it by saying that we had plenty of work done and that our bodies needed to regenerate, more so mentally than physically, and that we would start back on the third week in August with renewed enthusiasm for 8 hard weeks of training.

    The final 8 weeks were 115-120k weeks that we got in two weekly blocks. I must admit that I roughly used the schedule. Where he was specifying doubles I was doing a single longer run (P&D influenced and life influenced!) up until the last few weeks where I reckoned doing doubles would freshen me up for the race. The main bulk of the training was based on a midweek long run which peaked at 25k, a 10k tempo run (slightly slower than 10k race pace) and a long run.

    I chopped and changed the midweek long run and tempo to suit how I was feeling on a given day. Some of my favourite sessions involved change of pace running and made sessions more enjoyable. For example, [email protected] faster than MP with 1k steady recovery instead of a straight even paced midweek long run or 6x ([email protected] faster than LTpace, [email protected] faster than MP) instead of a straight LT run. Strangely, the faster paced segments seemed easier than the slower paced segments.

    In all, we ran 2 x 22.5 miles, a 21 miler, 2 x 20 miles, 2 x 18 miles in the last 8 weeks prior to a week and a half taper. We ran our last 20 miler (with final 10k at MP) two Sundays before the race. Almost all of the long runs were run at a steady clip between 10 and 20 seconds per k slower than actual MP.

    I only ran one race in the final 8 weeks in early October which was a local 10k. I ran this at the end of a high mileage week and ran within myself (mainly because I was isolated , had nobody to chase and it wasn’t a priority in the grand scheme of things) for 35:48. I topped the day up with 16k progression run that evening finishing the last 3k at approx MP. The coach spotted me on the roads and gave me a bollocking later in the week telling me "you were running too fast, don't blow it now you are in good shape" I was very happy with this and knew I was going in the right direction.

    The Taper.....
    We went with a taper of approx 1.5-2 weeks with our last long run of 20 miles 2 weeks before. I ran approx 80k two weeks out with a Sunday run (7days out) of 18k with 10k at MP. The rest of the lads ran a 10k tempo at just slower than 10k pace. I felt terrible on this run and bagged the session at 9k as I was sweating buckets and heart rate was 10-15bpm above normal levels. In fact I only had one run in the final 14 days where I felt in any way in good shape. I was battling a cold as well as the taper demons in my head.


    Our coach’s old school philosophy involves practically cutting out carbs from the Sunday until Wednesday with emphasis put on protein. So the porridge went out the window substituted with eggs and rashers for example. I knew what to expect during these few days having done the same diet last year. No energy whatsoever, coupled with a general malaise. Wednesday evening came and a change in emphasis. Limit the protein, carbs and fats all the way! I tucked in around me and had two dinners and four other small meals on Friday and Saturday. I also concentrated on drinking minimum 2 litres of water each day that week on top of any teas, milk, etc consumed. On the Saturday I put 4 sports diarolyte sachets in the 2 litres that I drank... Mmm, salty.

    I managed to get to bed at 9.30 most nights in the final two weeks except on one night where our coach had us over in his house for 3 hours of dvd’s of great distance runners of the past! Some of the lads went away pumped and probably didn’t sleep that night they were so worked up.


    I took a rest day two days out and went for a leg stretcher once we arrived in Dublin on DCM eve. For the first time in weeks the legs felt great. I done around 4k and a few strides and started getting excited about the race. I went back to the hotel and uncharacteristically (as I usually talk myself down) told the OH “tomorrows going to be a good day for me”.




  • Chapter 2

    Race Day
    We were staying 800m from the finish line so I knew I was within easy walking distance of the baggage drop and start line. I laid out everything I needed the night before. My tubular bandages for my forearms used to stuff my gels into (patent pending!) my extra layers to keep warm, my special shorts with three pockets sewn into the lining used to store my zero tabs.
    I had breakfast at 5.30. Big bowl of porridge, two slices of toast loaded with butter and a hot cup of tea. I lay down on the bed for 30 minutes, changed and headed for the baggage drop at 7:15am. Wow, the weather was phenomenal. No external excuses today. The walk to the baggage drop seemed to go on for ages.

    I met one of my masters team mates who had bagged an elite sticker (and went on to win o-45 gold with a fantastic time of 2:38) and we continued to walk and chat to keep warm before he headed off to the elite area. I bumped into most of the Sligonians in wave 1 prior to the start and wished them well including DNA_Leri who looked relaxed and went on to run a superb sub 3 debut. I didn’t realise until after the race that bar the bit of walking, I had done no warm up or stretches!

    I had printed out a 2:50 pace band and highlighted the faster stretches green and tougher stretches orange. I had circled the areas where I struggled last year and included dots for gel stations should I require extra. I went in with sub 2:50 as my main goal with fall back goals of a new PB (sub 2:54:58) and a last point of refuge being another sub 3. I had an ultimate dream that if things came together on the day and I felt good at 20 mile mark that I might try and push on, and that 4 min/k average (2:48) might be attainable.


    0-10k
    The race got underway and I took off pretty quickly. After about 200m I had to pull a serious manoeuvre to avoid running into the back of that motorbike, whatever that was all about. It resulted in a sideways jump and me clattering into another runner. Fortunately, I barely budged the lad; I suppose that’s why I don’t play GAA anymore.

    I struck up several conversations early on with runners I knew would be targeting in or around sub 2:50. Most of them took off up the road. Hopefully I would be crossing their paths again later on. I spent most of the first 10k running with one of the top 5 Irish women (NNP). She was also targeting sub 2:50 and we kept each other in check as she said she also was fond of going out too fast and suffering for it. I popped an isogel at 8k and half a zero tab in some water at one of the water stations. All in all I took three zero tabs during the race. I think this stood to me as I sweated a lot on the day. I passed the 10k mat in 40:06 (209th place) which was on target for sub 2:50. I must say I was thinking to myself this is like an easy jog. I was deliberately holding myself back.


    10k-halfway
    I remember from last year that I had suffered a lot on the hills so my aim this year was to run all downhill sections at a fast pace and slow down going up hills. I lost NNP when upping the pace on the downhill’s after re-entering the park. I took my second gel at 16k and throttled right back on the climb under the Chapelizod bypass and was immediately passed by at least 15 runners blasting up the hill. I passed club supporters through Kilmainham which gave me a great lift. One of them told me to relax my shoulders a trigger I used throughout the race from that point on.

    The roar as we turned right at Dolphins Barn was spine tingling and I felt my speed quicken. I quickly reeled myself in knowing that I had suffered on the drag around the halfway mark last year. I passed my wife here who was going crazy jumping up and down and roaring like a lunatic. I had a little chuckle to myself knowing she would be mortified when we talked about it later! I passed under the halfway mark in 1:23:58. I was a minute up on my projected split. What to do now? If I stay conservative I have a minute cushion built up and should come under the 2:50. F*ck that, I felt good if I could maintain 4 mins /k I was on for my dream 2:48. I made a decision here to forget the pace band and run by feel for the rest of the race, glancing at the watch to keep me in check if going too fast or to give me a kick up the rear if flagging.


    Halfway-36k
    As with shorter races the no-man’s land miles are where I usually lose time due to lack of concentration. I kept concentrating on keeping a steady pace and I passed a significant amount of runners in this section. I took my third gel at the Walkinstown roundabout (24k) where a work colleague had shouts of encouragement and took half a caffeine gel at the 32k mark (30k split 1:58:59). I started spluttering a bit with this one and thought it wise to leave the gels at that.

    I knew I had hit a bad spell around Clonskeagh /Roebuck Rd last year so I wasn’t too concerned if my pace dropped a small bit on this section. My pace for this section last year was 4:30/k. This year I got through it feeling comfortable enough in 4:03/k average. Comfortable; not in a sitting beside the fire with a pint of Guinness kind of way, but comfortable in comparison to last year where I felt like I was going to die.


    36K-Finish
    “You’re on the home straight. It’s a race from here” I said to myself. I cannot describe the feeling I experienced over the last 6k or so. It was like somebody had tilted the road downwards and I had a gale on my back. I met club supporters again on the Stillorgan road just before the UCD ramp. I think they were as surprised as I was to see how well I was going. It gave another shot of adrenaline to the system. I had to be careful though. My left calf was twitching like mad and I had to check my pace several times as a cramp wasn’t far away.


    I continued to reel in runners. Random strangers were telling me “You’re flying it”, “Great running”. As soon as I caught someone I was looking up the road to the next runner. I felt like I was floating along. At somewhere around the 40k mark I came up behind a classy runner from a neighbouring club who is always well ahead of me any time we are running the same race. As a crazy coincidence this was also where we passed his club supporters and coach. I slowed down for 100 metres unsure as to what I should do, almost afraid to pass. I briefly toyed with running alongside him before summoning the courage to pass, offering words of encouragement on the way by. This was a surreal moment for me.


    The finishing stretch seemed to go on forever. I remember closing my eyes for periods of it as I find it helps me focus more. I got to the finish line and saw my two masters’ team mates waiting for me as the clock ticked past 2:46:30 (an 8 minute PB, negative split of 90 seconds and I made up 100 places from the 10k mark to finish 109th). They were as happy as I was. “You brought home the bacon”, one of them remarked. National O-35 team Bronze the reward for our efforts.

    It was a brilliant day for our small club. Seven of our eight runners set PB’s. The eighth won O-45 National Gold and was just 3 seconds off a PB set 5 years ago aged 40. Third male masters Team and sixth male senior team. Our coach said it was the best performance out of a training group he has had in his 30 years coaching. Just reward for the effort he puts in with us all. The perfect weather had also played its part.The rest of the day was spent drinking beer and eating ridiculous amounts of bacon fries.


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  • Spartathlon 2018 Race Report

    My journey to Spartathlon 2018 started in the summer of 2017. I was planning on taking part in the Belfast 24 Hour Open Race which coincided with the World Championships when I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. A quick two week course of antibiotics was prescribed and fortunately this treatment came to an end the same weekend of the race. Forever the optimist I told myself that everything would be fine and it nearly was. The race went ok and I managed to clock up 130 miles despite lots of cramping which sidelined me for over two hours. Not quite a Spartathlon auto-qualifier but pretty close.

    The next few months were far less satisfying. It turned out I had been prescribed the wrong antibiotics by my GP and the Lyme Disease came back with a vengeance. My energy levels dropped drastically and I had horrible headaches. Eventually I managed to skip the queue to see a specialist and I was given more antibiotics but told to take a few months off from running. Yeah right! I did take it a lot more easy and by the end of September I was given a tentative ‘all clear’ and training resumed as normal.

    In my head at this point I was more determined than ever to make the most of my running. I told myself that from that day onwards I would be more focused and that I would try to get an auto-qualifier for Spartathlon 2018.

    Fast forward to January 2018 and I toed the line at the Flitch Way 100k race in Essex. It was cold and damp and not at all glamorous but after 7hrs 55mins I eventually had my AQ and I was ecstatic. Sparta 2018 was on. Now it was time to really knuckle down and log some serious miles.

    For the remainder of the year I ran consistently and frequently, averaging close to 100 miles per week. That was despite having more races than normal and having to include the odd taper and recovery week. I was feeling good about Sparta.

    In June I was back in Belfast for the 24 Hour Irish Championships. This was my test run for Spartathlon where I was going to try out a few new nutritional and hydration methods. I also had hopes of getting on to the British 24 Hours Team. A late night gig with my band the night before meant I only got two hours sleep and the race was a bit of a disaster. It could have been the sleep, maybe the nutrition or maybe just a blip but I was puzzled and despondent. Back to the drawing board I suppose.

    Leading up to Spartathlon I was able to include some race specific training. This included some treadmill sessions in a new facility called Altipeak, where the gym was heated to 35c and the 02 levels reduced to around 10-15%. I was confident that I was prepared for the inevitable hot temperatures in Greece! A final high volume week of 195 miles gave me an extra boost and then it was just a case of trying not to get injured and trying not to eat too much in the last 3 weeks before the race.

    I arrived in Athens on the same flight as four of the other Irish based athletes. Anto, Thomas, Rex and Rolando. Two from the Irish team and two from the Filipino team. We were quietly confident that we could get a 5/5 finish success rate. Fingers crossed! But wait, what about the weather? Was it going to be hot like we’d been told a month or so before the race. Not at all. Instead we had cyclone Zorba which was shortly later classified as a category 1 hurricane, or rather ‘Medicane’. No worries, we’re used to wind, rain and colder temperatures. This could get interesting!

    A few very enjoyable days spent in the company of the British Spartathlon team gave me a little more confidence. Chatting with veterans such as Ian Thomas, and Nathan Flear gave me some useful insights. I’d mentioned to Nathan that I planned on starting at about 6 mins/Km and Nathan suggested that I might have difficulty running that slow at that stage of the race! I’d read a few race reports and Eoin Keith’s blog had provided some in depth knowledge. Particularly about pacing this race and trying to save something for the final 80km. Eoin had set out at 6mins/km so I took that as a good yardstick, but do I ever stick to a race plan? Hmmm, mostly never.

    So, at 7am on Friday 28th we were lined up at a chilly start line below the Acropolis. The time had finally come and I still couldn’t believe I was rubbing shoulders with so many elite runners from around the world. Let’s do this!

    Without much of a fanfare we were off. I was relaxed and laid back about going over the start line. In my head the first 80km were merely a warm up so there was no hurry. The road out through Athens was not hugely inspiring. No ancient monuments. More like the city’s twilight zone with strip malls, concrete factories and car repair workshops. One highlight was a large industrial bakery with the most amazing smells of chocolate pastries being prepared for the coming day. I remarked to one of the US Team runners on the smell and he agreed that it was almost too good for this time in the morning. Other smells were less appealing as we went further down the road. Oil refineries, sewage plants and gas terminals harassed our nostrils and at those points I was starting to wonder what all the fuss was about with this race.

    The predicted rain had begun not long after the start and this set the tone for the rest of the race. Although at this stage it was just a bit of drizzle that kept our body temperatures comfortable.

    So what about that race plan? Well I was doing alright but I just felt too good. Part of my strategy was to race according to heart rate. I was pleased to see it staying at around 110-115bpm at a pace of between 5mins-5.30mins/km. A faster pace than I had planned but hardly reckless. I figured that my HR was pivotal and if at any point it was to go over 135bpm on the flat then I was definitely over cooking it. I had no idea of my position leading up to Corinth but I was probably somewhere between 50th and 100th- nothing really worth thinking about at this stage. Corinth came and went at around 93km and that was my first mental milestone ticked off. I felt good although the first niggles were hitting my legs. A tightness on my right knee was bothering me. I attributed this to some ITB pain that had worried me before the race. I also had a tight abductor on my left thigh which was probably connected to the ITB issue. Argghh, I could really do without this at such an early stage.

    Different challenges lay ahead in the form of the first real hills. I’d prepared myself to get a bit more racy in this section of the race before the mountaintop. I didn’t so much ‘up the pace’, more keep it the same. I knew at this point there would be a lot of runners who had tried to bank time on the flat stages up to Corinth and some of them would start paying for it. Right enough I was able to catch and pass dozens of them. My plan of spending the least time possible at aid stations was also paying off meaning I was able to leapfrog a handful just by being efficient with my drinks and nutrition.

    Shortly before 8pm the weather took another turn for the worse and the rain started to get very heavy. I was still in my t-shirt from the start and at this point I counted my blessings that I was 50 minutes ahead of schedule. The next checkpoint had one of my jackets for the race and it was only 500m away. A stroke of luck, but not my last.

    The section through Nemea and the surrounding countryside was the making of my race. I’d enquired at around CP 36 of my position and was told I was in 41st place. What? That’s rubbish. Time to get a move on. The problem was that it was getting a bit more hilly. No sweat. Fortunately I seemed to be coping better than everyone else. I was getting cold, close to hyperthermic, and decided I had no option but to up my pace to stay warm. Another stroke of luck maybe?

    The next time I checked my position I was 20-something and we were heading towards the tough 6km climb up to mountainbase. This could be my opportunity to make up a few more places if I could keep up the same form. I was still feeling strong despite my knee and groin niggles coming back, my energy levels were also good. Bring on the mountain!

    A few more quick check point stops and I passed one of the top women runners wrapped in a blanket but still running. I asked how she was and she replied ‘very cold!’. To be honest I thought she was finished but it turned out she was eventual 2nd placed woman Katarina Kasparova. The following steep kilometres were surprisingly easy for me and I think I passed another four runners before reaching to mountain base. They were all walking and I was able to keep a slow run/fast jog all the way with one runner near the top asking despondently if I’d ran the whole ascent? Why yes, of course! I arrived at Mountainbase fresh but cold. Another stroke of luck, or maybe good planning was having a second jacket in my drop bag here. I’d been told by the Irish runners that I might need it for the section after the mountain. There was a freezing fog over the mountain and visibility was down to a few metres so it was a good call. I later found out that mountainbase was the point of no return for a lot of Spartans and hypothermia had become a big factor in these retirements.

    That was my longest stop of the race but I was still careful not to hang around too much. Getting cold and risking my legs seizing up was a big concern. I eventually got going after less than 10 minutes and went straight up to the top of the mountain. I say straight because this final kilometre is very steep, off road and pretty hairy. That was fun, probably my highlight of the race because I still felt good! The summit (100 miles done) came at nearly bang on 16hrs, not too shabby but maybe a bit too racy considering there were another 53 miles to go. Still, I was optimistic.

    By this point I was up to 16th and I had my sights set on top ten. It’s not unusual for you to start talking to yourself after 16 hours of running and I kept repeating the words ‘top ten!’ out loud and telling myself ‘you’ve done the training’, ‘push, push, push’. My eyes were also starting to play tricks on me. Probably not great timing considering the tricky descent coming down the mountain. In stark contrast to the final climb this was probably the most frustrating point of the race for me. The surface on the track was made up of rocks the size of large marbles and combined with the steepness it was just too tricky to run properly on. Fortunately it was over in a flash and I think I passed another runner coming down so I couldn’t have been doing that bad.

    The next 20 miles or so were relatively flat over the plateau towards Tegea. ‘Top Ten’, ‘Top Ten’ was the mantra again and that was exactly were I ended up after a few hiccups. At one point my leg problems worsened and this coincided with my lowest energy levels of the race. For the only point in the entire 153 miles I was reduced to a walk. Time to reset and re-evaluate. There was no option of giving up but how could I get back on pace? I’d been walking about 100 metres when I went into an underpass and saw the welcome oasis of check point 55. Time to recharge with some soup, coke, crisps and whatever else I could get. This was my second longest stop of the race but still under ten minutes. I was happy to get going again and felt a bit more positive. However the reality of the hard slog ahead was starting to form in my mind. This was going to take a lot of effort just to get to the end. Nevermind maintaining a top ten place.

    At Tegea Square I was surprised to find Nathan Flear with his wife Tori. Nathan had been struggling with calf and shin problems and wasn’t sure how to proceed. A quick discussion and he joined me for the next few kilometers. I knew he would be able to finish. He’s a tough cookie but I felt for him having to run through the pain. Kudos to him for toughing it out.

    I was faster on the uphill sections so it was farewell to Nathan and time to set my sights on another place or two. Eighth place came relatively quickly and I was soon looking at the time ahead to seventh- around 25 minutes. However at that point I decided it was time to count my blessings and make sure I made the finish in good time.

    The weather was becoming worse by the minute and it felt like the rain hadn’t stopped since 8pm the night before. Now it was approaching 4am and I had less than a marathon left to run. Just a wee marathon, no problem!

    How wrong I was. That last section is made up of long climbs, short climbs and long descents. Overall it is downhill but to me it felt like it was all uphill! My legs were gone, and despite my energy levels being good and my heart rate being at the lowest bpm of the race I just wasn’t able to get the pace up. This was a real slog, miserable, wet, cold, sore and sleepy. Two runners passed me and one of them looked like he was sprinting! Oh well, back down to tenth. Hopefully I could maintain that.

    ‘Top Ten’, ‘Top Ten’. Somehow I managed to get through the final section of the race and as dawn broke I was making my way down towards Sparta. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I spotted ninth place runner Dan Valitalo from Sweden on one of the final hairpin bends before checkpoint 73. Just over 5km remaining. Before I could close the gap he spotted me and got a new lease of life, flying off into the distance like a rabbit being pursued by an old and arthritic fox!.

    Those last 5km were the longest of my life. I’d been told the run into Sparta is amazing with great support from the locals and kids running with you in the final stretch to the finish line. Not in this weather they don’t. To be fair there were dozens of locals out to show their support on every street corner. Each shop doorway and cafe had a gathering of Spartans encouraging me on with shouts of ‘bravo, bravo!” but it was nothing like the videos I’d seen from previous years. I don’t blame them, the weather was getting worse by the minute and the roads were beginning to flood in places.

    Finally I turned to the right onto the finishing straight and up in the distance I could see King Leonidas himself. I had a tv car and some photographers following my progress at this point. Embarrassingly my pace was terrible. In my head I was putting in the effort required for a sprint or a tempo run but in reality I looked very much like someone who had just ran 153 miles. I couldn’t believe it was coming to an end. Those final 20 miles required my biggest ever effort in an ultra race but it was all worth it. What a feeling to climb those steps up to the statue, to receive the best tasting water in the world and to get my olive wreath crown. I reached over to touch the king’s foot and gave it a kiss. This is Sparta and I’d made it in 26 hours 9 mins.

    Hugely proud and amazed. I discovered that this made me the fourth fastest British runner of all time. Back home in Ireland it was also being claimed as a new Irish record but I had to point out that I was racing for the British team! I was very flattered by the amount of support that had gathered online and on social media during the race. For everyone who stayed up all night and for those who sent me congratulations messages I’d like to send my gratitude and love. Your support really means so much to me. A special message should also go to the British Team for making me feel so welcome. Big ups to Nathan, Tori, Ian Thomas and his crew, to Chris Mills for taking all the great photos in terrible conditions, and to Paul Rowlinson for capturing some excellent footage at the finish line. Thanks also to Paul Ali, James Ellis, Rob Pinington and everyone who put in so much effort towards the organisation of the team. To the team runners who tried so hard, hold your heads up high you all did amazingly well. To the ones who failed to finish and who encountered some really bad luck, I really feel for you. Take the experience and come back next year. You are all great runners and deserve another crack at it.

    Finally to my partner and soulmate Sorcha who followed the tacker all night from home in Ireland- Thank you so much for your undying support through the good times and the failures. I am so lucky to have you by my side. Love you babe!

    After the race I was whisked off to the medical tent for the usual check-up and to get my feet sorted. Ten minutes passed and cyclone Zorba came back to strike full-on. What I witnessed was some of the worst weather ever: hurricane force winds, driving rain and flash floods. To anyone who was still out there at this time I salute you. The conditions were unbelievable right up to the cutoff time of 7pm. If you ran through those final hours then I have nothing but respect for you. I can count those ten minutes in the medical tent as my final stroke of luck!

    ‘I shan’t wish you luck because if you have trained properly, you won’t need luck, and if you haven’t trained properly, then luck will be of no use.’
    John Foden, Founder of the Spartathlon Race.


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