Monday, 22 September 2008

Gael Force 2008 Report - Part 2

Right, its time to get this over and done with...its almost a month since the actual event!! A brief recap of how far we'd got earlier:
a) Run - tougher than expected, especially the first bit of the cross country. Held back as wanted to keep plenty of juice in the tank.
b) Kayak - went well, a lot shorter than I thought it'd be. Was actually relatively tough, but you could really go whole hog as it was all upper body.
c) Run - 3km run, didn't really get into my stride for this and also got slightly lost as well!

So that's where I left off, just at the transition onto the bike. I'll continue in the same format as before.

Transition 3: Run -> Bike
I'd just arrived at the bikes. As I said in the preview, I took my time at this point. Changed top into a dry top (didn't change socks), took a moment to have a bite to eat and a drink. Double checked I'd everything and set off.

Stage 4: 35km road cycle
So despite starting to get caught by the faster runners in the second wave, I was surprised that only 2/3 passed me on the bike. Set out at a decent pace, found the going relatively easy. I did find it quite strange cycling without cleats. It wasn't too hilly for the first few km but I knew there was a massive climb not too far ahead. I just focused on keeping a nice steady rhythm to that point and tried to take in the scenery (which was top quality).

Hit the big climb, which we'd gone over in the car the day before. I knew it'd be tough then, and I wasn't wrong. I was determined to make it up without getting off, but when I realised that I was actually cycling slower than I could walk, I decided to conserve my energy and walk! Even that was tough.

Eventually got to the top of the climb and hopped onto the bike. I went about 200m (still a slight climb) and noticed two girls having trouble with one of their wheels. Turns out I was the third person to stop to help, and they didn't have too much luck with the previous two guys. I quickly diagnosed a few problems:
  • Don't do this sort of event if you can't at least change a tyre \ tube (yes Eamon!). After the initial puncture, the first guy changed the tube for the girl. Surely the girl should have been able to do this!
  • Secondly, there was a problem with pumps. It didn't appear that this girl or her friend had a pump. I think the first guy that stopped pumped the tyre but they were having trouble with that. Madness.
  • Thirdly, they flagged down a second guy to help them pump the wheel. Got it pumped and he got on his merry way. They put the wheel back on the bike and it won't go around! Cue good Samaritan #3 (i.e. me) to come along
  • I arrive and see that the tube is coming out under the tyre at a point which is causing the trouble with the wheel not going around. Figure straight away that the air will have to be removed, which they are against as they've had so much trouble pumping it! I insist and put the tube back in.
  • At this point, I notice that the valve isn't quite right...turns out whoever put the tube in forgot to take off the ring that secures the valve before fitting it! I quickly fix that, pump the tyre, fit it and continue.
  • Moral of the comment!
This whole episode probably cost me the guts of 10 mins. Probably cost the girl (who must have been flying) about 25 mins. In any case, I left here and started the downhill section...serious bit of speed :)

Rest of the ride was pretty un-eventful until we started getting close to Croagh Patrick. There was a brief section on a main road and as we turned off, the marshall said something about there only being 5km left...this didn't make sense (I'd the GPS so knew the distance) and quite a few of the lads were annoyed with him about that...there was well over 10km left at that point...all of it an uphill slog!

I made some good time here, catching and passing a good few people. It was tough, but I was still within my limits and eventually made it to the transition.
Estimated time: 1hr 36mins
Actual time: 1hr 39m 44s

Transition 4:
Bike -> Hike
Met Eamon and Fintan here...there were just about to hop on the bikes after already doing Croagh Patrick...unreal. Took my time again, grabbed a few fig rolls and filled the water bottle.

Stage 5: 5km mountainous hike
Start of this was over some pretty boggy terrain. I wasn't too bad, slightly energy sapping but fine. After about 600m, started the ascent and things immediately got harder. Seemed to be sticking pace with 3/4 lads which was good, one of which turned out to be a lad that had stopped to help the girl earlier. I was diplomatic, thats all I'll say.

About half way up the first ascent, I met John and Brian on their way down. Boys told me it wasn't too bad, but I'd a feeling they were only saying it to keep my spirits up! Soldiered on and made it up to the base of the mountain itself. Again, almost immediately the intensity increased again! It was really really tough from this point on. It was like I was talking 5-6 steps and having to rest. No word of a lie.

I was still more or less sticking with the same bunch of lads which was good as it gave me a goal (not to let them get too far ahead...I didn't care if I dropped them). The climb just kept going and going and going and get the idea. Almost at the top I met Orla, Simone and Peter who were just there to pass the time while we were doing the event. Had a good chat with them for a few minutes, kinda out of socialness but more out of it being a great excuse for a rest :) They assured me there was only about 5 minutes to the top and thankfully, they weren't lying. I made it to the top in just over an hour.

Turning straight around, I started the descent. We'd been a bit worried about this beforehand as we figured the fatigue would be a massive factor. It was a lot easier than I expected, though I really had to exercise care in place. Met Brian at the bottom of the scree and also Orla, Simone and Peter again. They said that Justin was just behind me. On the way down, also met Ian. The descent down to the boggy section was fine as was the traversal of it. At one point, I feel flat on my ****, got up, started to run and fell knee deep into a bog hole. All I could do was laugh.

Made it back down to the transition for the final stretch.
Estimated time: 1hr 30m
Actual time: 1hr 33m

Transition 5: Hike -> Bike
Hopped straight on the bike and was off down the road...

Going to leave it at that for now...

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Good run or bad run??

Another early start this morning...hopefully can keep this ball rolling. Went to the pool again at lunch, done around the same number of lengths as yesterday (i.e. not that many). Spent a good while down at the deep end just playing around, trying to get comfortable out of my depth. I'm getting there, slowly, very slowly.

Got back home early enough, so decided to go out for a run. Figured I do the 10km loop, trying to keep HR down around 160bpm. For some reason (maybe it was the swimming earlier in the day), I couldn't seem to keep my HR at the level and on top of that, I'd been having an upset stomach all day. After about 3km, I had to stop for fear of not being able to control my bowels...not a pretty feeling, by any account. Up to this point, I'd been more or less spot on 6 mins per km.

After this, run turned into a bit of a disaster...frequent stops, a slightly nagging right ankle (don't know what thats about!). In any case, I soldiered on focusing on going faster in between stops. Strategy worked well but I decided to change tact after 8km. Up to this point I'd averaged 6m 14s per km, which wasn't bad considering (i.e. 8.14km in 50m 40s).

After this I focused on 1 min flat out, followed by 1 min walk recovery. I was still suffering a bit with stomach cramps, but the longer recovery seemed to help. In any case, I covered 2.02km in 13m 1s (average of 6m 26s per km).

I've just been looking at the output from the 305 and it turns out that I passed the 10km mark after 1hr 2m 40s, twenty seconds faster than my 10km PB. Considering the disaster of a run this was, I'm absolutely delighted at this! Makes you think!

Not the report...update

Great day today, exercise wise. After signing up for the Reading Half marathon yesterday, I got out last night for a just under 7km run, capped my HR at 160bpm.

Then today, got into work for 7.30am, so went to the pool at lunch for a few lengths and some messing around in the water. Delighted to report that I haven't got any worse with the swimming, despite not being in water for a few months. Done around 5 proper lengths + a few poor attempts. Also done some skulling in the deep end, which is a novelty for me. Still pretty pooped after a length, find it hard to imagine going for another one straight afterwards.

In the evening, got home pretty early (5pm!), so got out on the bike for my first cycle since Gael Force. Hadn't really eaten since lunch, so was a bit tired, especially towards the end. I averaged a respectable (by my standards) 27kmph for the first hour. Was struggling a bit though, but made it back out to Barrington Hill, which was a real struggle! Made it back to Cambridge with bang on 40km done (in 1hr 32m 30s) and just coasted the last 5km or so home. Absolutely shattered afterwards and had a fair bit to eat...mainly junk.

Went to the cinema then to see Tropic Thunder...absolute waste of time!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Gael Force 2008 Report - Part 2

Coming soon...honest!

Time to get serious

I've been slacking the last few weeks, there's no denying it. Been talking with one of the lads about doing the Reading Half marathon and \ or the Wokingham Half in Feb \ Mar respectively. The main goal for this (for both of us) is to break the 2hr mark.

I've done Reading twice, in 2004 \ 2005 I think. I done zero training for both...most I think was 3 runs around the block...not non-stop and can't have been any more than 5km! Nowhere near enough training as I found to my detriment.

The first year I done it in around 2hrs 30m or so (I think). Then, after putting on 20kg, the second year was closer to three hours (a lot closer)! Hopefully, I can make the goal, but considering my 10km pb is still over the hour (due to not doing any 10km events), it will be tough.

Bloody scales

Had a health check with work yesterday...basically a nurse does a few basic checks such as height, weight, bmi, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. Nurse gave advise on the results. Nothing too surprising there, apart from the weight I registered on her scales...18st. Now, I normally work in metric, but even still, was thinking that was a bit on the high side!

Back at the desk and got the calculator out...18st works out around 114.5kg! Thats a full 10kg heavier than my current weighted-average weight of 104.5kg! While her scales seemed about as shonky as mine, its still a bit worrying. I've had a suspicion about my scales for sometime, but wasn't expecting a 10kg difference.

When I was a member of the local gym, I used to use a scales there to also track the progress...normally about 2-3 kg heavier. I guess its not the end of the world, its probably safe to assume that the margin of error on my scales has remained consistant, and since I've been using it since the beginning, its still reflects progress in relative terms.

I've also got other measures...a good few people have mentioned it to me that I've lost weight, my clothes are definitely looser (really noticed the difference two weeks ago when wearing my suit). I guess the main thing is that I feel better.

Not too sure what to do about the scales though...

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Failed to take the start line...

Was supposed to be doing the London Duathlon this morning (challenge distance - 9km run \ 20km bike \ 5km run) but twinged my hamstring yesterday so decided against it. I'm a bit disappointed, but I guess these things happen. Probably could have struggled around, but may have done more damage. Besides, it was definitely easier to stay in bed :)

Wednesday, 10 September 2008


Done a 10km run which I found tough enough. Took 1hr 9m and parts of it were in the dark, which I don't think I'll be doing again. It seemed a lot tougher than running in daylight \ streetlight as legs seemed to be really tense in anticipation of something going wrong.

Pace wise, it wasn't great, but fancied doing a longer run as opposed to the speed work that I'd done the last few times I've ran. Will hopefully get out tomorrow for a speed session.

Monday, 8 September 2008


Quiet few days, where I done pretty much absolutely nothing. Knee was a bit stiff on Friday and Saturday and was half considering a run last night but didn't bother in the end.

Had a physio session again today, a fair bit of massaging the muscle behind the knee and then some more needling, which didn't really hurt as much as last time. He finished off with some ultra-sound. Knee was a bit stiff this evening, but again, was debating on whether or not to go for a run. Once again, didn't bother :(

Other news is that I got my new wheels today and got the cassette (gears) fitted. Guy in the local bike shop didn't seem too impressed that I didn't buy it there, but have to say I didn't feel too guilty considering I've got him to replace the spokes a few times. He didn't charge either, so I'd be very inclined to go back.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Gael Force 2008 Report - Part 1

Well, I've been putting off writing this for a while now. I'm going to follow the format of my preview of the event. The results are up here. I finished 436 out of 682 finishers (just over 700 starters).

Registration: Day before
Went down to the bike transition the day before the event with one of the lads. Spirits were high and the hour trip was pretty much taken up with talk of how we'd do things in the event the following day. Arrived at Delphi around 2pm to find that we were one of the first few to register, so all things were going well. However, this was to end soon enough when we were told that the guy we were renting the bikes from hadn't arrived and that they had no idea when he'd be arriving! We'd been debating what to leave with the bikes all the way down in the car, as this would mean less weight we'd have to carry, so we weren't impressed to say the least.

We hung around there until 3.30pm or so and decided we'd have to leave. I knew I'd probably be back later that evening with one of my friends so it'd probably be alright, but we left our gear with the organisers to put with the bikes when they arrived just in case.

On the way back, we done a recce of the bike course...more on that later...

Registration: Day before (part two)
Got back to the registration area with my friend around 9pm. Met one or two of the other lads who were doing the event. Thankfully the bikes had arrived, so set them up for the next morning. Got back home pretty later (around midnight), considering I'd to catch the buses the next morning at 6am.

Buses: 6am
My brother woke me up at 5.10am (thankfully as I was out for the count) and dropped me back to Westport. Didn't see any of the lads I knew as I arrived as a few of the buses were already loaded. Just hopped on the next available bus. As I mentioned previously, I was in the Elite\Runner section and to say that I was out of my depth was probably a bit of an understatement. The lad I was sitting beside was a regular mountain runner but he was very encouraging and passed on some good info.

Settled in for the 1hr trip to the start line. Had a bottle of energy drink and an energy bar (this was breakfast after all). Arrived at the start line and met up with the lads. It was starting to drizzle a little bit, but weather wasn't the worst. We hung around at the start line for a while (no more than 10-15 mins and after a brief race briefing and prayer, we went down to the beach and the start line.

Stage 1: 12km beach\road\trail run
There was only about 100m of beach running (hardly worth starting it there I guess) and we got onto a small but hilly road for about 3km. I was determined to take it easy on the hills, so when the first hill came almost immediately, I slowed to a walking pace to conserve energy. I wasn't the only one, but I was definitely at the back of the group.

I got to the end of the road section as probably the third last person in the wave. The next section was quite a steep and slippy x-country hill section. This was immediately energy sapping and a slow walk was the best I could muster here. I caught up with two people here.

Going down this steep hill on the opposite side was actually worse than the ascent. It was treacherous in places, really muddy, slippy, etc. Eventually made it down, again catching up with another two people.

Most of the remainder of the run was a relatively flat off-road run along Killary harbour which I found extremely enjoyable. I kept pace with the people I'd caught up with and persisted with my walking up hills strategy.

By the time we got to the kayaks I'd caught another few people and I was really enjoying myself. Overall, I could have probably pushed myself a bit harder on this section, but not knowing what was to come, I felt it best to take a cautious approach.
Estimated time: 1hr 24mins
Actual Time: 1hr 37m 29s

Transition 1: Run -> Kayak
I'd a very short transition here as there was a lad ready to go, stopping briefly to refill my water bottle.

Stage 2: 2km kayak
I had hoped to keep my feet dry on this event, but that was already out the window on the previous run section. It was certainly out the window at this point...I had to drag the kayak into the water.

My friend for the trip was a guy called Dan. Very nice guy and had obviously kayaked before. I hope I didn't annoy him too much. I found this pretty tough, especially on the upper legs and had to briefly stop at least once. We kept bearing to the right which didn't really help. Was glad to get this over with.
Estimate time:
Actual time: 9m 32s

Transition 2: Kayak -> Run
As you can see below, I saved a considerable amount of time over this section that what I was expecting. I was probably a bit slow getting out of the boat on the opposite side though. I also got a bit confused as to where we'd to go after we got off the kayaks, in the end simply following my Kayaking buddy.

Stage 3: 3km road run
This wasn't a road run for the first km, that's for sure. Stayed with Dan for most of this but he seemed to be struggling a bit and overtook him. Came to a dead end in a field and he caught up to me again. We eventually figured out the way up to the road. It was around this point that the first of the next wave started to pass us!

Got on the road and got into a run \ walk strategy. This section wasn't too bad, but I was looking forward to getting on the bike. A few more people from the 2nd wave passed at this point.

Estimated time:
24 mins
Actual Time: 32m 17s

Going to leave the report there for now. Hopefully the second part will follow soon.

Stop poking me with that needle...NOW

Now that was painful. As I mentioned before, I hurt my knee playing football a few weeks back. It hasn't really been causing me any trouble, but a few times now I've noticed it cramping up in the middle of the night! Like I say, nothing major and I am able to run on it no problem.

So I was at the doctors the last day and used the opportunity to get referred to see a physio (which is covered by work's health insurance). I went along today and after a quick investigation he said that I'd a "trigger point" in my popliteus muscle. His recommended course of action was needle therapy, something similar to acupuncture.

I figured I'd give it a go, as he'd previously sorted out my ankle problems. After some initial probing with the needle, he hit the jackpot (trigger point) causing the muscle to spasm uncontrollably. It was extremely painful, especially when he touched the needle. After 10-15 mins it was over and my knee felt quite stiff, just like after a cramp.

I've been hobbling around all day afterwards and expect it to be pretty stiff in the morning. Obviously, done no training today and probably won't get any done for the next few days. Next session is on Monday, so I'm hoping the reaction isn't as extreme next time.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

New 5km Personal Best

After another day of eating any and ever biscuit I came across, I decided to go for a run for the first time in a few days. It was a real struggle and I really had to force myself out but got the running gear on in the end.

As it was a bit late, just decided on a flat out 5km run. Tough going, as these things generally are but found the first km very good. Second km wasn't too bad either, but it was definitely getting tougher, especially as I knew the hilly section was coming up. I struggled up that, feeling like a madman as I was gee-ing myself up in my head...get to the top of the hill and you can have a rest, you're making great time so don't stop, etc, etc.

So got to the top, after about 16 mins. I remember when I first started running getting to that point after a particularly fast effort getting there with 18 mins showing and that definitely brought a smile to my face and an inner resolve to continue.

Next km wasn't too bad, as its flat and relatively feature-less. Last km was really tough. It's slighly uphill and the last 1oom is definitely uphill. Really had to dig deep but thankfully made it. Watch was showing 27m 49s for 5.1km.

In ST, it had my 5km split as being 27m 12s. My previous best was 28m 24s, so I've knocked over a minute off. Must have been the biscuits. Looking at the splits, it was the first two km!

Here are the splits (last pb splits)
1km: 5m 13s (5m 52s)
2km: 5m 19s (5m 47s)
3km: 5m 29s (5m 33s)
4km: 5m 35s (5m 36s)
5km: 5m 35s (5m 33s)

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Lull after Gael Force

With Gael Force taking up a fair bit of my life for the last few months, both in training and planning, now that its over its almost a case of what next! This has been brought to the fore as well with the fact that we lost our semi-final game in the football at the weekend, so the football season is more or less wrapped up for the year!

I've more or less got a blank canvas to work off. I haven't been too inclined to train after Gael Force, just doing a few sessions last week and so far nothing this week. I've been eating way too much...I spent most of today raiding the biscuits at work. I know I shouldn't, but just couldn't help myself.

So there's at most two GAA games left for the season. I've signed up for a Duathlon (9km run / 20km bike / 5km run) on the 14/09 and thats more or less it. Next big thing is probably a half marathon in February.

Monday, 1 September 2008

1st Sept Weigh In

02/01: 115.64kg
01/02: 113.79kg
03/03: 114.04kg
01/04: 114.39kg
01/05: 112.37kg
03/06: 110.13kg
01/07: 108.34kg
01/08: 105.01kg
01/09: 104.17kg

Still heading in the right direction...I had dipped under 104kg before the weekend, but as you can probably see from the weight charts (on the right), I had a big weigh in today.