Monday, 29 December 2014

The Fields of Athenry

I loved last years Fields of Athenry 10K. It was my last running race of the year and I finished with a PB of 45:09. It was the perfect end of my first year running and I was ready and fuelled for 2014. This years story is a little different.

I left Ennis on Stephens morning at 9am and met up with Aisling in Oranmore and we drove to Athenry together. The day was miserable, like proper grey skies, it was raining and it was cold. Myself Gordon and Aisling met in the Registration Hall which was buzzing with about 1000 people hiding from the rain outside. 

Ready to kick ass!

We hid in Gordon's car until 5 minutes before the start as his car was closest to the start line. I've been very lucky in that I can't remember too many races which started in the rain but bloody hell I've never experienced anything as cold as it was before the race. Considering this was Day 26 of my current run streak, you'd imagine I'd be used to the winter weather by now.

At the start line...

The race started bang on 11am and I took off with the huge surge of crowds. I stayed with the 45 minute pacer although I knew a 45 minute 10K was a hugely ambitious task. I kept the 45 balloon in sight for the first 10 minutes. Phil appeared on my left (not like an apparition or anything) and we chatted for a few minutes as he tried to encourage me to overtake the pacer. At 3km, I wasnt ready to take that risk and decided to hang back and wait until 8km before I'd decide if I was going to overtake. Phil pushed on ahead and disappeared in the distance.

Running in the Rain 
(Photo from Andrew Talbot's FB: Link)

The roads were waterlogged in areas so running with wet shoes/socks never makes a good combination. At one point, someone splashed freezing cold water up my legs as they passed and it stung - well, that or my legs were steaming! We turned off the main road at around 4km and ran the back roads for the second half of the race. It was wet, I was cold, but passing the halfway clock which read 22:50 kept my dream of a 45 minute 10K alive. I pushed for the final half of the race thinking about a hot cup of coffee waiting for me at the finish line.

Looking at my splits, I was starting to get tired and it showed (7km: 4:37, 8km: 4:46, 9km: 4:49). I passed the 9km mark and put the foot down, clocking a 4:22 last km. I passed under the arch in Athenry with 46 minutes on the clock.

Coming in to the Finish
(Photo taken from Flickr: Link)

My official chip time: 45:58 which excited me more than you could know! This year, especially the latter half has been a mixed bag for me (which I'll discuss in another post) but for now, know that finishing at pretty much the same point as I did last year is excellent news. My 10K PB is 43:52 (March 2014) so considering I finished not too far off has renewed my enthusiasm for the new year.

Soaked but happy out!

Monday, 22 December 2014

December Runstreak: Days 11 - 20

The middle of anything is always the worst. Motivation can lack as you are still so far away from the end but I'm so stubborn I ploughed through, I even got a run in after a visit to the Beer Tent in the Galway Markers after work. Hows how the last ten days went:

Day 11: One Wet Cold Thursday Evening

Day 12: Long 15 miler from Barna to Westside and back while the dog was getting his hair cut

Day 13: Post Christmas Party Run

Day 14: Sunday Run(day)

Day 15: Fast Monday Run

Day 16: Slow Wednesday Run

Day 17: Post Drinks Run

Day 18: I think all the Roses are starting to weigh me down!

Day 19: Friday Hi-Viz

Day 20: Saturday Night's alright for Running!

So, 14 hours running and 155km racked up over twenty days - I'm on the homeward stretch. I just have Christmas Day & The Fields of Athenry in the middle. 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Waterford Half Marathon

Two weeks after giving up on the Heart Rate training (following my unspeedy performance in Portarlington) I found myself on the road to Waterford with Gordon on a miserable Friday evening. I'd never been to Waterford before and by-jesus I now know why. Its so far away! We got to the hotel about 9pm on Friday night, had a drink and chat before hitting bed early enough. The alarms went off at 8am and we grabbed a quick bite before heading out to WIT Sports Campus for the start of the Waterford Half Marathon.

Myself and Gordon at the Start Line

The rain cleared up as we parked (about 50 miles away) and made our way to the start line which was up the hill behind the Sports Campus. The start was sectioned off by 10 minute markers which made for an extremly easy and efficient kick off to the race. I positioned myself behind the 1:40 pacers but in front of the 1:50. My goal was to finish Sub 1:50 if possible. Considering I had run 1:45 in Connemara in September and 1:56 two weeks previous, I had 1:50 pegged as my goal time.

Waiting for the Whistle...

The race started shortly after 10am and I took off with the huge crowd (1500+) downhill and away from the Campus. Seen as I didn't know Waterford at all, the run reminded me very much of the Great Limerick Run - Lots of estates and industrial estates. The route itself was lovely and I found myself really in a stride by 5K. 

I had a chat with two women about cake (they were deciding who was going to get the larger slice once they finished, I was just glad someone had put the idea of cake in my head). I was watching my clock and each kilometre was in around the 5:00 minute mark (4:48, 5:08, 5:10 etc) so I was happy. Around half way we veered off road and ran along some pretty dodgy country roads in desperate need of a flat surface. I kept on going - curious to see how far running without watching my heart rate would take me.

I felt great as the kilometres clocked up and before I knew it, I was looking at the 12 mile sign. It was the first time I knew exactly where I was in the race and what the road ahead had in store. It was a clean straight run out to the WIT Campus which had just appeared on the horizon. I felt great and still had plenty in the tank. The phrase 'Finish on empty' is one that always sticks with me, especially close to the end of a race. 

(I love how in a Half Marathon I'd class 2KM as the end of a race where as if it was a 5K, the last 250m would be the end!)

I took off and notched up two x 4:45 kms to cross the finish line in 1:46:46. I was delighted with myself. It was a lovely course, well organised with plenty of road closures and water stops. Across the finish line we cured for Chocolate Milk, our pack (with a cool WAC Bobble Hat) and Medal. Gordon crossed the line shortly after I did (1:50) which was a PB for him so with two happy heads on us, we left Waterford happy out.

The Queue at the Finish Line

The Medal

Half Marathon #9 in the bag, that was my 6th this year and completed the promise I had made to myself back in August to run one a month for the second half of the year instead of training for a marathon. I've really enjoyed running one a month and it's definitely something I'd love to do again, just maybe not in counties as far away as Laois and Waterford. 

 BOOM! Last Half Marathon of the Year

Friday, 12 December 2014

December Runstreak - Days 1 - 10

So I'm a third through the December Runstreak, so here's an update. I've spent 6 hours 47 minutes covering 73.7km. I've pretty much stuck to the 30 minute rule with the exception of the Waterford Half Marathon. Here's how each run broke down:

Day 1: Fast First Run

Day 2: An hour night trail run around Kilcornan Woods in the freezing cold

Day 3: Post Work, Pre Dinner Quickie

Day 4: So wet, so cold. Had to take shelter inside or my photo!

Day 5: Post Work, Pre Car Trip to Waterford Run

Day 6: Waterford Half Marathon

Day 7: Sunday Morning Run

Day 8: Just another manic Monday

Day 9: Brought the dog with me today (so was slower but he enjoyed it)

Day 10: 7am Run in a Storm

So days 11 to 20 will be tough in the run up to Christmas. This is my third runstreak and each time I do one, it reminds me how easy it is to come up with an excuse not to run. There are nights when sitting on the couch would be so much easier than lacing up and going out for a run, however I've never come home from a run and regretted it! Hope the rest of the run-streakers are enjoying their festive run! I'll update ye in 10 days!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Run December Run!

During the week I read the following in the Irish Times (link):

"In six weeks’ time the media will be full of people discussing how their New Year’s resolutions will get their lives in better shape, get their diet in better shape, get their health in better shape.

And four weeks later, all the good intentions will be gone."


I'm not gonna lie, I have been oh so tempted to throw in the towel on 2014 and start back at WW come January 1st. I'll be oh so good, on my best behaviour. I'll undo every Rose, every Mince Pie when that clock strikes midnight on December 31st. Sure don't I deserve it, I've worked hard this year, clocked up close to 1400km running and many more cycling.

I've always been a believe in turning intentions into habits by action. Why would I throw away everything I've worked for this year just so I can have a gluttonous December? I'd be sliding three steps back for no reason. I'm actually going to do the opposite - action always beats intention. I signed up for the '7 weeks for €50' at Weight Watchers for start so regardless of how each week  in December plays out, I'm going every Tuesday - so christmas parties, birthdays, fruit cake and christmas markets will just have to be dealt with.

The Tralee Marathon is FIFTEEN weeks away yesterday! Eeep! So that should keep me on my toes but just to make sure, I've also signed up for the Amphibian King Runsteak which starts today and runs for the month. I did it last year and loved it. It'll be my 3rd runstreak but I've loved each one. Turning what seems impossible/a challenge into the possible has always fuelled me on.

December is shaping up to be a busy one. I have the Waterford Half Marathon this weekend, the Fields of Athenry on St Stephens Day, my Marathon Training Plan and now this Runstreak. Yes its a lot of running but yes I am so up for the challenge!