Friday, 26 September 2014

The Marconi Half Marathon

Imagine any postcard you would see of the West of Ireland and that is exactly what the Marconi Half Marathon delivered... Myself, Phil & Gordon were running it so decided to make a weekend of it and together with our respective runner-widows (Cathal, Rachel & Yvonne) headed for the green grass of Roundstone on Friday evening. I awoke Saturday morning feeling ready to tackle my 7th Half Marathon. I opened the curtains in my bedroom to this:

A Room with a View

The weather most certainly lifted my mood and we headed down to Gurteen Beach with a certain air of runners optimism which I haven't left in some time. In May, I ran the Limerick Half Marathon in 1:40, in August I ran the Rock & Roll Half Marathon in 1:50. I had set myself the intermediate goal of finishing the Marconi Half Marathon in 1:45. 

We hit the beach and met some other runners from Maree so obviously took the opportunity to take an action shot. We are like magpies, its rare you see more than one or two of us together in the club colours so we had to capture the moment.

Paul, Bernie, Myself & Phil

The race started shortly after 11am and brought us up from the beach through the Roundstone village (3km). I swear to God I've never seen scenery like it. At points I just wanted to stop and take a photo it was just so crystal-stunning-clear. (Note: It was so amazing, I actually went back after the race to take some photos).

Roundstone Village

The crowd started to peter out and I found myself running by myself for the next few kilometres. It wasn't until the 5 mile (8km) mark that the 1:45 pacer caught up with me. It was at this point I kinda admitted defeat to myself. The pacer and the few running with him would be gone and I'd probably finish around the 1:50 mark again... or so I thought.

The 1:45 Pacer overtaking me at 8K
(Pic by Andrew Talbot on Facebook)

As we turned on to the Old Bog Road, I kept with the gang and after a few minutes, it was only myself and pacer. I did feel sorry for the pacer as he kept trying to muster up a chat with me but I just wasn't in a chat sort of mood. I took in my surrounds - the mountains, the road, the hills. On reflection, there are some runs that just happen and this just happened to be one of them.

Kilometre after kilometre passed and next thing we turned off the Bog Road at about 3km from the finish. Instead of seeing the pacer as a block that pushed past me, I kept up to him - used him as a block to keep me moving forward at a steady pace. Your man was super in fairness, he kept giving words of encouragement as we made our way into Clifden. The last ten minutes were hilly - and tough, mainly because I didn't know where the finish line was so kept hoping to find it around the next turn.

As we turned onto the main street in Clifden I heard Cathal and Rachel roar from the sidelines and that powered me up the hill and across the finish line with 1:45 on the clock. I did it! I really couldn't believe I ran with the pacer from Mile 5 through to Mile 13. I've said before how every time I run, I learn something new - this run has thought me of the power of mental blocks. Instead of seeing the pacer as someone to be afraid of (stay in front or let pass), I used him like a magnet and kept myself in line with him as he moved.

Half Marathon #7

On what was one of the most beautiful runs I've ever done, I loved the Marconi Half Marathon! My fellow Maree AC members had a great day too with Paul finishing 4th overall and Phil finishing 20th. I'm already planning my October, November and December Half Marathons! My official time for this Half Marathon: 1:45:24

Post Run Hydration

Monday, 8 September 2014

New Shoes...

I hate shoe shopping. I'm one of those "wear it till water gets in" type of shoe guys. I have a pair of work shoes, two pairs of smart shoes and two pairs of casual shoe-type-trainers. Shoes do nothing for me and the thought so having to go shoe shopping are right up there with going to the dentist. Shoes just bore me. 

I see a shoe as a functional item of clothing, necessary to protect your feet as you move from one location to another (usually from the couch to the car). The one exception to this rule however is when it comes to running shoes. The first pair I got were bought for me by my other half, and as I clocked up the miles I suddenly became aware of the fact the shoes have a road life which becomes more and more apparent when the cushioning starts to wear and your shoe starts smelling!

I remember reading that a good running shoe should last between 400-600 miles (here) but most places quote around the 500 mark. I track the distance I put into my running shoes on my Nike Running app as you can select the shoes you ran in. I'm coming to the end of my shoe life and it will be with great sadness that I hang these shoes up :( I bought them in advance of the Connemara marathon back in April and they gave me most of my PBs this summer.

My most recent run - 514 miles logged on my Brooks Ravenna 4

These were the 2nd pair of Brooks I'd worn through so when it came to getting a new pair, I knew I wanted to stay the same. I've read a bit about sole depth when it comes to runners but I've been happy with the extra padding. I've no reason to believe this to be a requirement other than I like the cushioning, so when it came to getting a new pair, I said I'd turn to the professionals instead of picking a pair by colour/price!

I went into Amphibian King in Oranmore last month and the guys (and girl) in there put me through my paces. They have a mat on the floor there to perform gait analysis so it was interesting to try on different shoes and run in them. I had my eyes on a pair of red shoes which I thought would go well with my new pair of red running shots but I was told another pair were a better fit as I wasn't moving around in the shoe as much.

This is the sort of advice I needed - its no mistake they are nominated for the Irish Times Shop of the Year. Happy out with my new Brooks Adrenaline GTS 14, I left a happy man ready to start clocking up miles in my new shoes :) I'll keep my older shoes to work up to moving to my new ones full time. Its always handy to have an older pair anyway, just for those days when it's lashing out and you know you'll get wrecked. You've no excuse when you have a spare!

New shoes...

Last Monday, I laced up my new runners and headed out for my first run in them and CJ approves (or thought he was coming with me!). I wonder where these shoes will take me!

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Run or Dye - Lough Cutra

I had signed up for Run or Dye on the day registration opened (back in May) and had kind of pushed it to the back of my mind. It was only last week when someone mentioned it that I remembered we had all signed up. So this morning, at 8:30am, myself Gordon Yvonne and Aisling all dressed in our Persil Whites headed for Lough Cutra in Gort to get our colour on!


The run itself cost €35 which is expensive considering we had to pay another €5 to park in the field and we got boxed in as they let cars park in front and behind us. We picked up our registration packs no bother, and met with Brad & his friend Wioleta and Michelle and her son Rian. In our registration packs we were each supplied with a different pack of paint which lead to a fun pre-run scatter of reds, yellows and blues.

Before the start! (Aisling, Brad, Yvonne, Gordon, Michelle, Wioleta, Rian)

The 5K is a fun-run, so with no chip times and paint gauntlets at every kilometre along the route, we were all ready to have a morning of fun! The sun was out and we were on the beautiful grounds of Lough Cutra in Gort rearing to go! We were let off in waves shortly after 10am and it was quite possibly the most fun I've ever had on a run in my life!

Myself & Yvonne (looking a bit Yellow!)

We all ran close to each other so the first 2K was spent having the banter with Aisling, Gordon & Brad. The route was entirely off-road which I don't think anyone was expecting but definitely posed its own challenges of avoiding cow pats, uneven ground and stones. That being said, it also gave ample time to take epic running selfies :)

Just before the 1K mark

We passed through four different colour gauntlets where you ended up running into a cloud of whatever colour they were dishing out. It was absolutely hilarious to wait on the far side of the cloud and watch your friends come through plastered in paint! I've never laughed as much. There wasn't a single person who escaped unharmed. One for a lob of paint in the eye while another got a clogged eardrum.

Myself and Brad just passed the Yellow Station

The route ran the grounds of Lough Cutra, a place I'd never been before. It was absolutely gorgeous! I don't think the place is open to the public often, unless under hire, so it was lovely to see the castle, the lake and the grounds on our run. We ran, we chatted, we laughed, we took photos.

Aisling & Gordon survived the Orange Station

We hit the finish line at around 35 minutes which was extremely reflective of the more relaxed pace we had taken getting through the course. Myself, Gordon and Aisling crossed the finish in arms laughing - and thats exactly what we got out of the day. 


They always say you should finish any run on empty, to give it everything you've got... Well for a change, this run gave us everything it had got in store for us. It was great to run without thinking of time, at one point myself and Aisling were holding hands skipping along the course, at another point we were in stitches at fact Gordon looked like he had been shot in the side of the head. The pre race, mid race and post race banter was brilliant. 

When Run or Dye comes back, I'll sign up!