Friday, 25 September 2015

Next Stop: Berlin!

I'm a mixture of nervous excitement and like a coiled spring, I'm ready for Sunday! I don't know if anyone can ever accept and manage their anticipation for such an event. I was feeling great until just after my last long run (15km) on Sunday when I was struck down with man-flu. 

It wasn't full blown man-flu as I managed to try fight it off as much as possible. I've drank a million cups of hot water with lemon and orange with honey. I've gone through enough Strepsils like there is a global shortage and I've had more Rubex than I care to think about over the past few days. I reckon I could be glowing Vitamin C come Sunday.

With 2 weeks to go...

Final Hurdle - 1 week...

I've been taking it easy this week by doing my two Bootcamps (as normal) and just two short runs (5K each). I'm flying this morning (Friday) so that's pretty much it... training is done and there is nothing left for me to do but turn up at the start line Sunday morning. I read a brilliant quote today which said: "It doesn't matter what happens between the starting line and the finish line. All that matters is that you cross both".

I'm looking forward to seeing Berlin and experiencing running with 41000 other marathoners. I'm 90% excited for this one, 10% nervous. I'd love to PB but I'm just going to take it as it comes on the day (my current PB is 3:51 which I clocked in Connemara in April 2014). I'm excited to run in another country and even more so to be able to share the same start (and finish line) as some of the world greats!

Our first stop when we land is to head to the Expo to collect our race packs and then head to our hostel via a Kebab Hut. Carb loading begins now right :) If tracking is your thing, my Bib is #28699 and kick off is 8am (Irish Time)/9am (German Time) Sunday morning.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

How my day at WellFest went...

WellFest was described as a "unique one day festival in Herbert Park, Dublin offering a wide range of health and fitness activities to attendees". Myself, Aisling and Donna bought our tickets before the timetable had been released so we didn't really know what to expect but we had nothing to worry about, they day was quite simply... fantastic!

Donna, Ais & Myself in the queue

We arrived just before 11am and following a quick look around the festival site, myself and Aisling jumped right in to the Les Mills BodyAttack class (link here) which was starting at the main stage at the top of the festival ground. I don't think either of us were expecting a full 30 minute workout class but it was brilliant. It was a high-energy fitness class with loads of running, lunging and jumping with strength exercises like push-ups and squats all over some blasting pop tunes (like Bruno Mars Uptown Funk).

Myself & Aisling are in that crowd somewhere

I think doing an impromptu high-energy, full sweat class first hadn't been on either of our agendas so we took it easy for the next hour. We made our way to the WellTalk tent (via some fab Glenisk yogurt samples and some Keelings strawberries) and caught the Food Demo by The Happy Pear. We even met them afterwards and got a pic (obv!). We had a wander around the WellVillage and sampled some popcorn, protein balls and chatted with the companies promoting their wears.

Myself and Edel (who is happy out in a Happy Pear sandwich)

We grabbed lunch at one of the vendors in the food area and found a patch of ground which we made our own. If I was to have one negative/suggestion for next year about the event it was the lack of coffee. In fairness there was one van with two people working as hard and fast as they could but the demand was far greater than they could handle. Donna queued for 45 minutes to get a coffee. Nope, nothing is worth that (she did say it was lovely but still...)

Lunch: Protein BBQ Boat (which was basically a kebab!)

Food & Seating Area

After lunch we made our way back to the WellTalk tent where we caught Sarah Doyles talk on 'Body Image and Self Love'. It was brilliant, nothing like a huge boost of motivating talk to put you in a good mood leaving the tent. If you want to check her out, her website is: The post lunch slump had well and truly settled so myself, Aisling, Donna and Edel made our way to the Spinning Tent (which was being run by Cycle Studio - link here) where I took part in my first ever spin class. It was bloody brilliant - I was properly wrecked afterwards!

Spin spin spin...

After spin we had 45 minutes to recover before we went to a 4:30 talk on Strength & Core for Injury Prevention which we followed up with a Workshop on 'Play' which was getting us to use play & natural body movement as a form of exercise instead of the rigid/sturdy movements used in Crossfit. As a result of going to these classes we missed the opportunity to see Bressie's talk (which was amazing by all accounts). 

Wrecked out - Donna, Padraic, Aisling, Catherine and myself after a long day at WellFest

In fairness to WellFest, it delivered on every account making it a fantastic and very worthwhile event. I really hope its back next year. They were fortunate with the weather as it's hard to see how the day would have worked in the rain. We came, we worked out, we ate, we listened, we spun, we played. Well done WellFest!

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Athlone Flatline - Half Marathon #13

It's unusual I'd sign up for a race so far in advance but I'd signed up for the 2015 Athlone Flatline back in March as I knew this was one race I wanted to take part of. It's a popular, flat half marathon starting (and finishing) just on the outskirts of Athlone town. Myself, Cathal, Yvonne, Gordon, Michelle and Aisling all headed to Athlone early Saturday morning. Two of us were doing the Half (Gordon and myself), two were doing the 10K (Aisling and Yvonne) and the remaining two were heading off into town shopping :) 

Yvonne, Aisling, Myself & Gordon before the Race

I was aiming to hit 1:45 as this is my last race before the Berlin Marathon next weekend. This was my last push before taper really kicks in. I ran this back in 2013 and it was my first Sub 1:45 (finished 1:44:56) so I was really hoping for a repeat performance but I knew staying under 5:00/km for the full 21 would be tough - with that in mind, I still lined up in front of the 1:45 pacer and hoped to just stay ahead of them for the race.

Starting Ground

The run started bang on 11am and headed out the vey rural Clonown Rd (for 9K) before turning right (for the next 4K) before rejoining the main road for a couple of kilometers before turning right for the last 3 miles. The course was quiet and flat with not much to keep your mind busy. The last few km had a load of lovely handmade signs (I suspect from a local school) filled with super quotes likes 'Run like a Tiger is chasing you'. 

I felt good (although tired close to the end) as I repeatedly clocked up sub 5:00 kilometers on the way around the course. The last 2K felt tough as my legs were starting to get heavy. I kept my head down and ploughed on, crossing the finish line just after 1:43. My official chip time was 1:42:51 knocking over 3 minutes off my Craughwell time two weeks ago! 

The course route and the medal (are the same!)

This was my second time running the Flatline and its super to see a great race remain great. For the €25 entry you can't fault the swag. I've a new black and yellow t-shirt, a lovely medal and the post race refreshments looked great. (I say looked as I had a banana instead of one of the delicious looking chocolate muffins). So that was it - Half Marathon #13 in the legs, Marathon #5 just around the corner! Eeeek... :)

Myself and Gordon after the race

Monday, 14 September 2015

The Killeeneen 'Back to School' 5K

One of my favourite types of runs are the ones where you know your entry fee goes towards something (as opposed to into the organisers pocket) and thats why I signed up for the Killeeneen Back to School 5K registration opened a few weeks ago. All proceeds go towards the school building fund. I had taken part in this last year with Aisling so I knew the route (two laps, finishing at the school).

Paul, Catherine, Myself, Helen & Phil from Maree AC
(Pic from 77edenhill's flicker - link here)

The race was preceded by the kids 2K which was great to see. Sometimes I think about what I would have been like had I actually cared/worked at my own health/fitness growing up. I had flashbacks to handing my PE teacher a different note each week with a different excuse as to why I couldn't take part. I was always excused (sent to Study Hall) so to see so many kids running while being cheered on by their peers and parents was very commendable.  

On your marks...

The run started shortly after 7pm where about 80 people took off on the two lap course around the school. The route was relatively flat and despite promising myself to take it easy, I knew when I clocked the first km at 4:10 I was going too fast. I pulled back a little and enjoyed the second lap more than the first. I crossed the finish line just before 22:30 (my official chip time was 22:27). 

It was a lovely way to spend a Thursday evening chatting with friends and getting a run in at the same time - we even got a t-shirt thrown in! (I must have about 50 at this stage!). 

Myself with Phil, Brad & Gordon after the run

Monday, 7 September 2015

Right into the Taper Zone...

The thing that I love the most about running and marathon training is that it isn't in a single step. To train you have to motivate yourself day after day, week after week to lace up and go out for a run. The pillar of any marathon training plan is in the once weekly Long Run which some people dread but I've come to really love. I love getting new podcasts lined up, planning my route and heading off on my run. Yesterday marked my last long run and therefore start of my taper for the Berlin Marathon which is now less than three weeks away.

5 weeks to go...

With five weeks to go, I made the decision to quit all carbonated drinks (including Diet) and all sweets, biscuits and chocolate until after the marathon. I've been finding my mojo has been lacking over the past few weeks so figured a little kick-start would help. Well that and the though that I've to drag my ass around Berlin for 42.2km so I may as well do what I can now to benefit that process as much as possible. I'm surprised with how well I'm doing two weeks later - I haven't had a single sip of Pepsi Max (my favourite), a biscuit or a square of chocolate. I've gone back to being obsessed with the colour of my pee (gross I know), I'm drinking so much water and I'm ensuring I'm eating enough for my heavy running schedule.

4 weeks to go...

I love marathon training (once its done) but this time my body doesn't seem to be reacting as well as before. I've thrown up twice after two separate long runs which really isn't good. It's wiped me out afterwards. Yesterday after my long run I ended up in bed for a few hours until I felt human again. First time I thought it was because I re-filled my water bottle at a public water tap so yesterday I made sure I had two bottles going out but that didn't seem to help either. I'm slightly worried but it but all I can do is keep going and hope I'm ok on the day.

3 weeks to go...

So in the words of Kenny Loggins, I'm right in the taper zone. This is the part where you self-diagnose every niggle as a bone fracture and every sneeze/cough as ebola. I think my body needs the rest from the long-long runs but don't worry, I've plenty lined up over the next few weeks to keep me going including the Athlone Half Marathon (this weekend) and WellFest (next weekend).