Monday, 30 November 2009

Pancake-tastic

This post probably doesn't belong with my last few posts - but since I've been back from the states, I've developed an addiction to pancakes - mainly blueberry and\or banana. I've tried a few different recipes but I think I've concluded that the best one is this one.

Try it out - it's dead easy (even I can make it) and it tastes great. Really easy to make up on a weekend morning. Just don't use too much syrup (have to use Golden Syrup as I can't seem to find Maple Syrup anywhere).

Please note that this recipe is not good if you're looking to lose weight :)

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Update

After my massive feat of restraint on Thursday, yesterday (Friday) was back to my old bad habits. Someone else had brought cakes into work and this time I ended up stuffing my face. Didn't weigh-in this morning but did get out for a run with Idoia and I've been pretty good so far today, so I'm not feeling to bad about yesterdays slip.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Last few days

You may have noticed the weight charts on the right-hand-side of the homepage over the last few days - I've started doing daily weigh-ins again and as you can probably gather, things ain't been going well for a while.

My main goal for the remainder of the year is to get under the 110kg mark - that'll have me at a 1kg gain (or so) loss for the year, which is a bit disappointing, but thats life.

I've been eating pretty well over the last four days, mainly porridge in the morning, plenty of fruit, a baguette for lunch and a decent dinner. I've also got out for two runs this week with Idoia, so thankfully getting a bit more active.

Today was a really good day - one of my colleagues brought in a truck-load of cakes to celebrate his birthday and thankfully I resisted the temptation. We'll see if I can keep that up over the weekend.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

This sort of attitude really annoys me

Came across a link from an internal social networking site we use at work about "plodders". If it wasn't that it was in the New York Times, I probably wouldn't be so bothered.

Thankfully, the same message trail offered a reply by the president of the New York Road Runners association which probably summed up my sentiments better than I ever could.

In any case, all I've to say is that I wouldn't begrudge the experience I had running in NY (and by extension any where) to anyone from the fastest runners to the last finishers. They're all their for their own reasons - sure the finishers medal \ t-shirt are important to some runners, but I doubt anyone does a marathon for just that!

Monday, 23 November 2009

So what next?

Over three weeks now since the marathon and I've done pretty much nothing, save for 2/3 runs. Motivation is pretty low and all I want to do is lounge about and eat :( I've probably put on around 7kg since my low a few months back, with about half that being in the last few weeks. I really need to turn that around, so I'm starting to log my weight daily again (111.7kg this morning).

My other goal is to get back into the pool at lunch-times. My gear has been sitting in the car for over a week now, but between being busy at work and the aforementioned motivational issues, I haven't taken a dip.

I might also try and get a 10km or maybe even a half in before the new year, but only if it's extremely convienient. I still haven't officially broken the 10km hour mark (one of my goals at the start of the year), so it'd be nice to get that in the bag to finish off the year.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

New York Marathon Thanks

Been meaning to write this for a while but been pretty busy (again). I'd just like to thank anyone reading this for the support and encouragement you've provided since I started the marathon training all those months ago. You've kept me honest when it was easier to be lazy and my crossing the line is testament to that.

The support has been expressed in multiple forms, from in-person (Mum, Bart, Eamon, Lisa, Archie, Aoife, Maria, Thomas), text (Tim, Christine, Conor, John, Mauri), email (Brian, Thomas, Tom, Maurice), instant message (Eamonn, Paul), blog comments (Matt, Alan, Andrew (x2)), etc. It was pretty cool getting text messages during the race (Aimee (mile 8), Fintan (mile 15), Ger (Mile 18), Idoia (multiple times with encouragement and to arrange meeting places)) which certainly helped buoy the spirits, even if some of you thought I'd finished. A few people (Declan, Paul, some of Idoia's family) followed my progress on-line which I was surprised at.

I've missed a load, but to the many who I haven't mentioned, thank you - I'd be here all night and I'd still miss people.

Finally, I'd like to thank Idoia for all her support over the last few months - whether it was getting me out of bed (I'm really not a morning person) for early morning long runs, your constant encouragement during the highs & lows. I'm delighted that you were in NY to share the experience with me.

Anyways, time for bed I think :) I'll leave you all with two pictures - first is on the finishing straight (about 125 yards to go) and the second is just after the finish line.



Thursday, 12 November 2009

New York Marathon Part 2

So my previous post had me up to the start line on the morning of the marathon. Forgot to mention that the weather was absolutely perfect for running - cool, overcast and dry. Definitely my running weather.

So at 10.20am, we're off. I don't hear the gun \ cannon \ whatever started the race but we start moving - slowly at first, then a bit faster as we get up to the start of the bridge (the starting point for the marathon is on the bridge, which is only nominally in Staten Island). The waves are split into three parts, and my part is on the left hand side of the upper level (the others are on the RHS and the final one is on the lower level). Fortunately we're on the Manhatten side and get some awesome views of the NY skyline. The bridges are the biggest hills on the route and the first one is probably the toughest, but the adrenaline helped make short work of it. We passed the first mile marker while STILL on the bridge (1.6-1.8 miles long in total)! Of course, what goes up, must come down and soon enough we were in Brooklyn.

Once we get of the highway (i.e. the bridge) and into Brooklyn proper, the crowds and atmosphere start to pick up. The next 11.5 miles or so are in Brooklyn and it's sub districts. There's plenty of people around, cheering us on, loads of bands (over 100 on the course! That's over four per mile!). I was going well in the first part, felt great and was really loving the occasion. Probably my most enduring memory of Brooklyn though was the long, long, long straight road we were running down - all you could see forwards and backwards were runners! Pretty impressive.

The night before I'd made some loose arrangements to meet up with Idoia at two or three points on the course. We met up for the first time between mile 8 and 9. It was good to see her and I stopped briefly to grab a drink of water and a quick chat(I'd started walking through the water \ gatorade zones which were every mile). Soon enough I was off again, with two thirds of the race still ahead but still feeling good.

Next few miles were ok, settled into a routine of walking through the water zones and running in between. At this point, I'd passed out the 4hr 30m pace group and was still going strong.

My next rendezvous with Idoia was between mile 14 and mile 15 - which was a positive thing to focus on. Another brief stop there and I was back on the road. I was starting to feel a bit bloated at this point and fancied a bit of solid food, but had planned this aspect of my nutrition poorly. Still, nothing I could do about it now but soldier on.

The next challenge was around the mile 13 mark - the bridge over the Pulaski Bridge from Brooklyn into Queens. I decided to follow my usual advice and take it easy on the uphill part of the bridge. This was the point in my mind where it started to get tough, and looking at the split times, they seem to agree. We'd a short 2.5 miles in Queens before we came up to the Queensboro Bridge - quite a sight normally, but really impressive after 15 miles behind you and 11 to go!

I walked up the first half of the bridge which seemed to take ages - was looking forward to the downhill but when that arrived, I started to cramp up - nothing major, just little twinges, but it didn't bode well. Still, I was in Manhatten now, over the half way mark and on the way home. The next few miles were dead straight as well - straight down First Avenue. The crowds here was pretty good also which was great.

At this point I was just in "get home" mode - run a bit, walk a bit - repeat. 19.5 miles in brought us over the Willis Ave Bridge into the Bronx! We only spent a bit over a mile here, but it was good to see a place I probably wouldn't have seen otherwise. I'm not too sure I'd be in a rush back either - I don't mean it in a bad way, the support was pretty good here but from my brief visit, it just seems pretty industrial and even then, a bit derelict. Thankfully crossed the 20 mile mark in this neighbourhood, which is probably the most memorable thing I can say about it.

Crossing over the next bridge, brought me to the 21 mile mark and into Manhatten again. We get onto the iconic 5th Avenue at 138th Street and it's more or less a straight (literally) run home until 59th Street - so I'm counting those blocks down one by one :)

One by one, one by one - its pretty busy in this area and the crowds are picking up a fair bit. The closer we get to Central Park the busier it gets and the more the buzz picks up - its actually exactly what's needed at this point. I'm keeping pace with the same people - I made a conscious effort to finish as strong as possible. I passed a few people I'd been battling with, which help pass some of the blocks.

The 5hrs pace group passed me which was a bit disappointing, I couldn't keep up. I knew I'd a few minutes leeway on that target, as I'd crossed the start line a few mins after they had. At 86th Street, we passed into Central Park itself and soon crossed the 24 mile mark soon afterwards.

I was struggling a bit with borderline cramps, so next two miles were pretty tough, but eventually crossed the 26 mile mark. Idoia had bought a $75 ticket to the grandstands that were erected along the finishing straight and I spotted her pretty easily, giving her a celebratory pose. Soon after, I crossed the line absolutely chuffed with myself.

My finishing time was 5hrs 03mins and 28secs! One or two have commented about the 3 mins or so, but I don't care - absolutely delighted to have finished and those three minutes are the challenge for next time.

I picked up my finishers medal, got an official photo taken, grabbed a goody bag (with a lovely bagel!) and started shuffling towards the baggage collection area. This was probably one of the most difficult parts of the race - huge crowds of runners, down a relatively narrow chute which emergency buggies also needed access to. Finally picked up the bag and made it through the throngs of people to my pre-arranged meeting point with Idoia.

Grabbing a subway back to the hotel was going to be a nightmare so we actually ended up walking all the way back (25 blocks or so) - it probably done me good :)

Monday, 9 November 2009

New York Marathon

Got to bed early the night before the marathon and much to my surprise slept pretty well. I was allocated the catch the 8am Staten Island ferry to the start, which I knew from the Statue Of Liberty sightseeing would take 20 mins on the Subway - I left the hotel at 7am just to be sure. I was in the third (and last) wave and was expecting to see plenty of runners on the subway, but there were only four other runners at my stop! The train took an absolute age to come and I was starting to debate whether or not to go overground and flag a taxi.

In any case, got to the Ferry in plenty of time - there was an absolutely huge crowd, mainly all runners. Actually missed the 8am ferry (too many people) but another ferry left about 5 mins later. On the ferry, met up with a Dublin guy who'd been in NY for 20 odd years. This was his third marathon, his first being the 2008 NY marathon - he done so well there that he qualified for Boston which I though was pretty impressive. Had a good long chat about a whole range of subjects, but probably the most relevant was the overview of the route which was pretty good.

After the ferry, hopped promptly on some busses to get to the "staging area" close to the start line. I still had about two hours to kill, so some idle chit chat with one or two people, but nothing much - I thought there'd be a lot more "craic". Still, there was a really good buzz around the place. There was plenty of free coffee, bagels, water, etc there and no end of toilets. At 9.40am, we heard the cannon go for the first wave which resulted in a massive cheer!

Soon enough we were called to our corral. I had been thinking of following the 4hrs 45m pace group but I ended up miles behind the 5hr guys in the corral, so just decided to go at my own pace. AS the second group got underway, we started moving up to the base of the Verrazano-Narrows bridge and our 10.20am start time. At that stage, the elite men would be 1/3 of their way through the race!

Anyways, that's enough for now - will do the rest of the run tomorrow night.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

The run-up to the NYC marathon

Sorry for the delay - had a pretty hectic week since returning to the UK. In this post, I'll cover the few days before the marathon. My girlfriend (Idoia) and I arrived in NY on Wednesday afternoon, with a rough plan which consisted of a few days shopping before the marathon, the marathon (Sunday), suffer like hell on Monday, before flying out on Monday night, suffering Deep Vein Thrombosis on the way home!

First day there we hit an outlet store about an hour outside of NYC - pretty disappointing, but still managed to pick up some stuff. Main problem as far as I was concerned was my legs felt a bit tired that evening, which didn't bode well for the sight-seeing we'd planned the following day!

On the Friday, we'd pre-booked tickets on the first ferry out to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The trip down to the ferry was a good reconnaissance of the route I'd have to take the morning of the marathon. Statue of Liberty was pretty cool, if not a bit smaller than I'd imagined. Views back to Manhatten were probably the most impressive thing though. We actually skipped Ellis Island - I'm sure I've had family pass through there, but we'd a fair bit of sightseeing planned for the day and it got cut.

Arrived back at downtown Manhatten and checked out the financial district + Ground Zero. Walked up to Chinatown and grabbed some lunch there which was pretty tasty - absolutely huge portions as well! Rest of the afternoon we ambled up 5th \ 6th Avenues, checking out the different districts \ shops \ etc. on the way.

We finally ended up at the convention centre where I had to register - we'd initially planned on this being a quick in\out job but the place was absolutely massive! Idoia signed up for the International Friendship Run the following morning (I already had an automatic entry). Spent absolutely ages there and just went back to the hotel afterwards. Legs were pretty tired so made the decision to do as little as possible after the IFR in the morning.

The IFR is a 4km run held for international runners (and family, friends, etc.) on the day before the race. It goes from the UN to Central Park, mainly down 6th Avenue, which was pretty cool. Traffic was stopped (though it seemed like life went on as usual). Lots of fancy dress and generally a good atmosphere.

Runners were encouraged to run with their compatriots, but with Idoia running with me, it was always going to be a tough one whether to run with the Irish or the Spanish :P Either way, we just ran together, soaked up the atmosphere and the surroundings. The finish line in Central Park was under the 26 Mile banner.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in or around the hotel - Idoia went off to the MoMA and I just rested my legs and started to get nervous about the following morning.

More about that in the next post.

Prior to the

Monday, 2 November 2009

The morning after...

Pretty stiff this morning, but thought I'd be a lot worse. Calves and groin are the worst, but I'm up and about. Plan is to do a few hours of last minute shopping / sightseeing in NY before catching an overnight flight tonight back to the UK.

Just looking at the provisional splits on the website - as I knew, very good first half, after which my 5km split times start going out to about 40 mins! Anyhow, who cares - I'm delighted to have finished.

I see the (lottery) entries for the 2010 marathon are opening today - if any of you are interested. I'd highly recommend it, if you're lucky enough to get a place.

Thanks again for all the comments and texts. Will write a proper race report when I get back to UK.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Quick update

Completed the NYC marathon earlier in 5hrs 3m 30s (by my timing). Will update again when I get back with more details.

Thanks for the support!

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Not long now...

Lying in the hotel, pretty nervous. Legs are a bit tired from all the walking of the last few days. Done the "fun run" this morning, pretty cool running through the streets of Manhatten. Oh well...

If (and I doubt it) anyone wants to follow realtime progress tomorrow, then my number is 56341 - pop that into the website somewhere and it should give you an update.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

W6KW#2 - Tempo Run

Six weeks to go to the marathon on Sunday - definitely starting to get a bit nervous. Tonights run called for
  • 1 mile easy
  • 5 miles medium tempo (9m 28s per mile)
As usual, I didn't follow that! It was a struggle to get out in the first place, but got out around 10pm and took the first km easy enough. I knew I'd "only" 10km to do, which would have been a fair bit a year ago, but these days I'd consider it my "comfortable" distance - I can keep an intense effort up for this distance, without suffering like I do in the longer runs staying focused.

I picked the pace up over the next few km's and was feeling good - I was considering pushing for a 5km pb, but decided against it about 4km in and eased off a bit. Thankfully the run up to around 6km was out of town (given it was after 10km on a Friday night and the students seem to be back in Cambridge for the new term).

Running through town was actually a bit tough - I usually find it a bit easier as there's generally people milling around, stuff happening, etc., compared to the quieter roads I start off on. However, tonight went the opposite way - too many people, drunk, on phones (and hence not looking where they're going), spilling out onto the road, being cheered on by muppets, etc., etc.!

So like I say, the last two miles were tough but thankfully kept the pace up and finished up doing 10.12km in 56m 36s (5m 36s per km) - for anyone that's been following this blog for a bit might realise that's easily a new (unofficial) PB. Not sure what my previous PB was (official or unofficial) but I'm happy to say this comfortably beats it - I crossed the 10km mark according to ST in 55m 54s - I definitely think a 55 minute 10k is on the cards at some stage.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

W7KW#3 - Long Run

Plan for last weekends run called for 13 miles at my marathon pace + 15s per mile (approx 10m 25s or 6m 31s per km). For various reasons, I didn't get a chance to go out for a run until this evening, which isn't really good enough, but that's life.

I'd been out for a cycle at lunch as well, but was determined to get at least 10 miles in this evening, ideally beating my 1hr 50m non-stop run last week and \ or it's 11.25 mile distance. Ideally, I'd run the full 13 miles or at least 20km if possible.

Set off deliberately slow to try and achieve these aims and thankfully did. Really started to struggle (mentally more than physically) after 40 mins or so. Really tried to play mind games with myself to spur myself on - the one I settled on was splitting the run into 3 x 40 minute chunks:
  1. first "easy" one - knew I could easily do the time \ distance - absolutely no challenge
  2. second "tough" one - tough in the sense it's be the most boring section. It starts getting tougher, but been there, done it all before.
  3. third "goal" one - the last 40 mins which was where the sessions goals are - getting used to being on the feet for a long time.
Made it into the final section and was starting to get tired, despite the slower pace. Started counting down the minutes and eventually got to my previous time PB - though still a bit of distance wise. Figured at this point I still was good for the full distance (or at least the 20km), but bang on the 2hr mark I lost all energy (or was it willpower).

Still, quite happy with the run. Ran through some nice areas of Cambridge that I hadn't seen before - Claire College in particular, very nice at night. Can't find a pic online but I'll defo be going that way again.

Overall done 18.57km in 2hrs 01m (avg. 6m 31s per km - bang on target).

Saturday, 19 September 2009

W7KW#2 - Tempo Run

The plan called for 10 miles at PMP (projected marathon pace) which is 10m 13s per mile. I got back from work a bit late and was a bit hungry, so a 1hr 40m run didn't really appeal, so I left the house thinking I'd give it a go and see how I got on.

Set off at a pretty fast pace, initially aiming to do two miles fast, followed by an easy mile and repeat as necessary. First two miles went great, averaging 8m 56s for the distance. Dropped back the pace a bit, but still took 9m 32s for the next mile before upping it again.

Mile four was pretty tough (9m 01s) and I finally cracked half way though mile five - I came to a darkish section and just decided to stop. It's a bit disappointing, but still happy enough with the run up to that (7.43km in 42m 27s - 9m 9s per mile).

A brief walk and I cracked on again. This time the aim was to keep the pace up and decide when I got close to home whether to extend the run a bit. In the end, I settled for a 10.09km run (which got me to my doorstep) in 58m 05s - another sub 1hr 10k! Garmin reckoned I crossed the 10km point at 57m 36s, so don't think it's quite a PB but very close.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

W8KW#3 - Long Run

Once again, failed to get out for a (long) run at the weekend, so defaulted to Monday night. Plan for the long run was 16 miles at MP + 30-45s, so for me that's 10m 43s to 10m 58s per mile.

Set off, same as last week determined not to look at the Garmin for as long as possible. Another tactic I used was to take a different route than normal, so I didn't know the distances at certain landmarks just to keep me on my toes. As I wasn't using the GPS, just set off at what felt like a normal pace and let the body dictate.

The route was pretty un-inspiring, pretty much flat as a pancake and with some dodgy paths and no lights in places (as I was heading out of Cambridge between villages). I almost ate path on two occasions but thankfully avoided any serious problems.

First glance at the watch was when I got back into Cambridge - I'd figured I'd done a nice distance and basically needed to decide if I needed to start heading for home or to extend the run! I was absolutely disgusted to note that I'd only clocked up a little under 8 miles. The only upside to that was that I'd actually done it at quite a good pace - averaging 9m 33s per mile, considerably faster than my target pace.

Things started to get a bit tougher after this, with the miles clocking up agonisingly slow - I kept making deals with myself, hoping \ willing myself to the 13.1 mile mark and a non-stop half marathon. In the end, I ended up doing 11.25 miles before stopping (1hr 50m), still a non-stop PB.

My pace was slowing down a fair bit though but I was still looking at a HM PB - I started into a run \ walk and eventually crossed the HM mark at 2hrs 11m 28s - 92s faster than my Reading Half Marathon PB. I'm pretty sure with other runners and a crowd, I could do better :)

Struggled on until 15 miles but called it a night at that point - I was pretty tired and starting to get miserable (runners nipple!).

Overall: 15 miles, 2hrs 35m 26s (10m 18s per mile)

Monday, 14 September 2009

W8KW2 - Tempo Run

Going to keep this one short as it was a bit of a disaster. Knew I'd struggle to get out for a run on Friday evening, so I set out at lunchtime for this session. Lovely day and the plan was
  • 1 mile easy (10m 43s pace)
  • 4 miles at medium tempo (9m 28s)
  • 1 mile easy
I absolutely messed up the tempo session - started off way too fast, misreading my 8m 10s pace as being about right! Needless to say, one mile in, I'd blown it and that was me done, so called it quits!

Distance: 3.74km
Time: 22m 05s
Pace: 5m 54s per km

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

W9KW#3 - Long run

Missed out on the tempo session on Thursday as I was absolutely up the walls at work at the end of last week - probably should still have went for a run, especially as a form of stress release but didn't get a chance! Was flat out tidying up the house and my room on Saturday, as I'm moving out at the end of the month, so no long run on Saturday - motivation was starting to lull and basically crashed on Sunday, not getting out of bed until late.

So managed to get out Monday for the first run in almost a week - going out the door, I was in two minds between a short jog and trying to do the long run I'd missed at the weekend. I've actually changed to the FIRST's "First Marathon" for the long runs as I was really struggling with their normal plan. This called for a 12 mile run at MP + 20s per mile (~ 10m 35s per mile) instead of 18 miles at MP + 30s.

Felt good after the first few miles (don't know how far as I was playing a mind game with myself - tried to not look at time \ distance until I absolutely HAD to stop) and took a different route than usual, running directly out of Cambridge, which I figured would force me to have to run back (or be out on the road all night). I'd set myself an "ideal" turnaround point which had a few other landmarks where I could quite happily turn-around and aim to better next time on the course - in the end, I made it about 60% towards my ideal point and turned around.

Run after this was a bit of a struggle - I probably ran another 1.5 miles before I stopped for the first time - 7.7 miles in and 1hr 21m's. I was a little disappointed with the distance \ time and the run home from there was a bit of a struggle - plenty of run \ walking. I seem to be really struggling at the moment with the mental toughness of the long run - whether its boredom (I don't feel particularly bored), the lack of a running partner or just plain fatigue I don't know.

One thing that really annoys me is that I can happily run a comparable distance to the 7.7 miles at a quicker pace without too much problem - my last tempo run was 8.25 miles at 9m 42s pace! OK, it was extremely tough and there's no way I could keep that up for another 18 miles but surely I should be feeling a lot better on the slower runs!

Anyways, enough whinging - here's a Sport Tracks screenshot with splits and route.

Friday, 4 September 2009

August Report

Overall a disappointing month. Weight wise, I actually put some weight on - not a massive amount but still.

02/09/09: 106.07kg
31/07/09: 105.72kg
30/06/09: 108.95kg
29/05/09: 109.40kg
30/04/09: 108.79kg
31/03/09: 108.87kg
27/02/09: 108.62kg

Exercise wise totals were down a fair bit on July. This is mainly down to being back in Ireland for the last two weekends in August and essentially doing nothing (besides Gael Force).

Training-wise, July consisted of the following (June in brackets):
Cycling: 98.58km (243.33km)- 4hr 37m (8hrs 52m)
Running: 100.51km (162.19km) - 12hr 52 (18hrs 25m)

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

W8KW#1: Intervals

Well, it's the first of September - exactly two calendar months to New York! Pouring rain and getting home late from work this evening had me inclined to stay in, but the reality that I've done little over the last two weeks coupled with the T-2 months mark forced me out the door into the rain.

Last two weeks have been pretty poor training wise, mainly due to me being back in Ireland for the last two weekends. Weather at home has been pretty miserable and the roads around my home place aren't really ideal for running - I'm more likely to get run down by a tractor going at high speed around a blind turn.

So back to the UK today and back to my usual routine. I'd assumed there was 8 weeks left (= 2mths) but just after checking the calendar and there's actually 9! Yippee, an extra weeks training :) I done the Key Workout from week 8 tonight which entailed:
  1. 20 min warmup @ 10m 43s per mile
  2. 1 mile @ 8m 35s per mile + 3 min recovery
  3. 2 miles @ 8m 40s per mile + 4 min recovery
  4. 2 x 800m @ 8m 20s per mile + 1 min recovery
  5. 10 min warmdown
Was slightly slow on the first run (got slightly lost) but averaged 8m 28s per mile on the 2 mile section! Very tough going but got through it! The last set of 800m runs were hell! Calves are a bit tight now, but hopefully should be ok in the morning.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Gael Force 2009 - Summary

I done Gael Force 2009 on Saturday - the event had tripled in size since last year, with 2500 entrants this year! I was a bit disappointed with some aspects of it, some things which were under the control of the organisers, others which weren't. In any case, I made it around the course three minutes SLOWER than last year, which believe it or not, I'm actually relatively happy with.

The main problem I had this year was with the bike, but comparing times against last year, I'm now not too sure it made a huge difference. The main reason I blame the bike is that it was really heavy (compared to my road bike, not last years bike) and the seat was way too low, so I really struggled getting any power. I felt like I was ambling along the whole time.

According to the Garmin, I only lost 9 minutes on the bike leg this year, which considering I was hoping to really knock some time off on the bike is disappointing. Lesson for next year is to bring my own bike - one of my friends here in Cambridge who I trained with was over 24 mins faster than me on this section (which also included a short run and the kayak in this years timings). He'd brought his own bike over and while my average speed was around 16kmph, I'm pretty sure his was more like our normal training speeds of 26-28kmph!

Besides the bike, I'm pretty happy with how things went - I was around 8 mins faster on the first run section, which includes a big hill that I essentially had to hike up and carefully descend. My ascent of Croagh Patrick was over 10 minutes faster than last year which I was really happy with, but my descent was about 11 minutes slower! So that overall balanced out.

Oh well - happy to have got around and surprised how close I got to last years time - I thought at the end I'd be close to 15 mins over it (forgot to factor in the downtime at the kayaks). In reality, those 3 minutes were probably wasted while waiting for some water at the foot of CP before the final bike - if I'd know that at the time!

2008 2009
Run 1: 1.37.29 1.29.43
Kayak: 9.32
Run 2: 32.17 32.57
Cycle 1: 1.39.34 1.48.37
Hike(U): 1.01.21 50.32
Hike(D): 33.57 45.15
Cycle 2: 41.19 38.54
======= =======
6.15.29 6.18.17

W9KW#1 - Interval

Done this session last Tuesday, but only got a chance to upload it now. Session was a twenty minute warmup, followed by two sets of 6 x 400m with 1m 30s rest between intervals and 2m 30s between the sets.

It was an absolute killer session - I found the fifth interval the toughest for some reason, only doing 1m 30s and almost throwing up \ fainting! Still managed to pull through the lot (considering I thought I'd call it a day if I got to #6 after the first one), which I was happy with.

Was back in Ireland on Thursday for Gael Force 2009, so between the travelling and catching up at home, didn't get out for the tempo session. Will repeat Week 9 this week (I'm off to Ireland again on Thursday) but I'm out of spare weekends, so have to ensure I get out for the runs!

Monday, 17 August 2009

W10KW#3 - Long run

This weeks long run was down for a relatively easy 13 miles at 10m 28s per mile. Relatively easy in the sense that it's short in comparison to the 20 milers I've supposed to been doing over the last few weeks (and failing miserably). It's that "relatively" word that's the issue though...

Once again, an early start on Saturday morning - I was out the door around 7am. Nice morning for running and I decided not to bring the Camelbak. Parked the car up outside a friends house and set off around 7.30am, on a new route just for a change. Fortunately, the majority of the run was downhill (actually it was really just the first mile or so - the rest was flat). Everything was going well until about 3 miles in and I got slightly lost but soon found my way.

Another slight wander of the track shortly after didn't help, but overall, things were going well up to around 7.5 miles in - pace was slowing but I was still ahead of the target pace. I was struggling a bit here and decided to stop at a (donout) shop for some water - I was seriously tempted to have breakfast there :)

After the water, struggled on, but I'd got a bit stiff and it was a real struggle. Fought numerous mental battles with myself to push out to the 13 miles, but eventually called it a day after 12.2 miles. I'm actually happy enough with the run, but it obviously could have been better - I think if I'd carried on for the full half marathon distance, it would have been my second fastest HM time!

Total distance: 19.62km
Total time: 2hrs 15m 38s
Average pace: 6m 55s per km

Thursday, 13 August 2009

W10KW#2 - Tempo Run

Easiest way to describe tonight's run is that I'm back on track. Plan for tonight was as follows:
1 mile warmup \ warmdown @ 10m 43s per mile
6 miles long tempo pace @ 9m 38s per mile

After abandoning my W10KW#1 session on Tuesday night, I was a bit worried about tonight's session - it had a make-or-break feel to it. Decided on a change of tact, bringing my running gear into work with me, for an evening run after work (went to the pool at lunch).

It was a lovely evening for a run - one of the nicest evenings we've had in a while. Set off on a nice back route, kinda of across the fields (well between) to a neighbouring village, then a nice run along a perfectly smooth cycle track.

Next bit of the run was pretty interesting - I ran down part of the yet to be opened guided bus route between Cambridge and St. Ives. Pretty cool but wouldn't fancy it when it's opened (though I believe there'll be a cycle track alongside).

Overall, kept a good pace for the most part - had to stop 6.5 miles in briefly as I was struggling and again once I'd completed the tempo part, but finished the warmdown (was considering skipping it). Overall, pretty happy.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Shocking bad month so far

Title says it all - took all of last week off after playing a football game the previous Sunday - I'd blisters on both my feet and basically wasn't able to train until Wednesday. I then wussed out (using the convenient rain as an excuse) from further training the rest of the week.

Tried to go for a long run on Saturday - hoping from somewhere between 13 - 20 miles depending on how I felt. I'm not even going to comment on how far I actually went out of pure shame, suffice to say, I'd similar problems to my previous long run attempt.

Got out for a cycle on Sunday - the only noteworthy exercise last week, but even that was less than I'd hoped for.

To cap it all off, my W10KW#1 (intervals) was abandoned during the first interval tonight - just didn't have the energy. I need to harden up ASAP.

Also, you'll see from the graphs at the RHS that my weight is going in the wrong direction - so far I'm a week into my 30's and it's not been good!

Monday, 3 August 2009

July update

July 2009 is probably my best month of training and weigh-loss ever! I guess I'll start off with the weight-loss:
31/07/09: 105.72kg
30/06/09: 108.95kg
29/05/09: 109.40kg
30/04/09: 108.79kg
31/03/09: 108.87kg
27/02/09: 108.62kg

My weight chart stayed green for the ENTIRE month - a first for me!

Training-wise, July consisted of the following (June in brackets):
Cycling: 243.33km (174.86km) - 8hrs 52m (6hrs 48m)
Running: 162.19km (99.24km) - 18hrs 25m (11hrs 03m)

You can probably throw in a few swimming sessions as well, but they're not really done at any intensity.

The main difference as far as I can see is the massive hike in running time and distance - over a 50% increase.

W11KW#3 - Long run

Saturday's run was supposed to be my second 20 miler. It went better than the first, but still got nowhere near completing it. The day started off at 5.30am when I got up for a quick bowl of cereal before going back to bed for another 90 minutes - so far so good. Was out the door around 8am - lovely morning for running - slight drizzle, overcast, cool.

Decided to follow the same route as my "long" run the previous weekend (all 8 miles of it). All was going well until 7 miles in, when I had the most urgent need to get to a toilet. Fortunately, I was only a mile or so from civilisation, so a run \ walk later had me at a local supermarket, taking advantage of their facilities.

Debated at that point calling it quits (cold, wet, miserable, disappointed, etc), but decided to stick with the plan and set off again. I've started listening to my iPhone on the long runs which helps pass the time, but it also leaves me open to the possibility of a call - sure enough, a mile or so into part two of my run and I get a call which I had to take (well - maybe I was looking for an excuse).

Just done another half mile or so and called it quits. Still happy enough with the run, but I seem to be taking the easy option a bit too much these days!

Left the connector for the Garmin in Reading, so no uploading of runs for now.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

W11KW#2 - Tempo Run

Absolutely great run this evening, despite finishing work late and having an absolute nightmare getting out the door, which I managed a bit after 9pm. Absolutely perfect weather for running, despite some heavy showers earlier in the day.

Plan for this evening was 5 miles at mid-tempo pace (9m 23s per mile). In my eagerness to get out the door, I was belting down the road and the first time I looked at the Garmin was about 1km down the road and I was seeing a pace about a minute faster than the target pace! Decided to keep the tempo up for another bit, as the longer interval sessions were making the first mile seem rather easy.

Got the two miles in and pace hadn't dropped significantly - I was even looking at a 5km. The next mile was pretty tough and pace but passed the 5km mark at 26m 37s - a new PB (previous 27m 30s).

The aim for the following 2 miles was just to stay under the target pace which I did ok, though the last mile wasn't easy. Finished up doing 5.02 miles in 44m 08s which I'm pretty happy with (over 30s faster than target pace).

I was also down at the pool at lunch and done 1000m for the first time ever - done (2 x 5 + 2 x 3 + 2 x 5 + 5 + 4 + 3 + 2) x 25m - sweet.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Hungry

After the interval sessions down at the track last night, my legs (calves) are pretty stiff. Went to the pool at lunchtime to try and stretch them out a bit, but it's the busiest I've ever seen it down there. Done about 100m (honestly) and some breathing drills down at the deep end and called it quits.

Had planned on going for a cycle this evening, but it absolutely poured down on my way home from work, so I gave it a miss. Was actually pretty bored, with nothing to do and that's usually when I'm at my worst, eating wise. I've been pretty hungry all day, but I've been quite good - went to Tesco's about an hour ago and just got a pot of yoghurt and one of those Philadelphia dippers - about 400kcal in total.

Literally just had dinner (potato waffles and fish fingers) and I'm starving again! Grrr - it's really annoying.

All green

Despite my best efforts over the last few days, my PhysicsDiet 30-day chart is all green for the first time in ages (?ever?). Here's the link for posterity if I go into the red on the latest charts.

Was pretty surprised with my weigh-in this morning - 105.5kg, only up 0.5kg from Friday (and I ate a lot of trash yesterday \ over the weekend). So far I've lost 2.61kg this month - will do a end of month summary later in the week.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

W11KW#1 - Intervals

Got down late to the track tonight and it was pitch black for my last two intervals! Overall, a good session though, legs are a bit stiff now though.

Plan was:
20 min warmup @ 10.43 per mile pace - I only meant to do 10 minutes (at a faster pace) but it was going well so stretched it out to the 20 mins - average pace was 9m 08s per mile.

2 x 1200m @ 6m 20s with 2 min recovery - First one of these I found relatively easy (even after the faster warmup). Second one was a lot tougher. Ran in lane two, so again distances were slightly long. Times were 5m 47s and 6m 04s.

4 x 800m @ 4m 10s with 2 min recovery - Didn't find these too bad, apart from the fading light. My left calf was a bit stiff towards the end, but just having to do two laps seemed relatively easy. Times were (again, distances slightly long) 4m 06s, 4m 00s, 4m 03s and 4m 01s.

10 min warmdown @ 10.43 pace - This wasn't too bad, averaged 10m 34s for the distance.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Latest update

Sorry for the mass of updates - this is the last one for tonight. I've been out on the bike the last two days, yesterday with a friend who's doing a monster cycle next week from Birmingham to Kilybegs over seven days - we just done a short session, twenty or so miles from Reading to Henley and back again. The terrain was relatively hilly and I definitely hope to get out there again over the coming weekends.

This evening I was also down to do a cycle as part of the marathon training. I was considering going out at lunch, but there's been some pretty heavy showers here all day, so just worked through. It'd all cleared up by the time I got home, so I hit the road.

The plan was to repeat a time trial that I done last year, which was two laps of a local circuit - I'm not sure of the official distance, but that doesn't really matter for comparison. I'd done the distance last year in 39m 03s and was hoping to beat that, despite this evening being windier and a "personal" time-trial.

I came in at 36m 19s, about 2m 40s faster than last years time which I was pretty happy with. My average pace (which I'm extremely happy with) was almost 31kmph for the 18.68km. Overall I covered just over 40km in 1hr 25m, an overall average of 28.4kmph.

Finally, I'd an absolutely shocking day diet-wise - a few bars of chocolate, some doughnuts, etc., etc. Must do better - be interesting to see what the scales say in the morning.

W12KW#3 - Long Run

If you've been following my long runs over the last few weeks, you're probably starting to notice a pattern! Well this weekends run was good in one sense, but probably bad in the context of the planned run.

The plan for W12KW#3 was 18 miles @ 10m 48s per mile. As usual, the plan was to do it on Saturday, as I'd arranged a cycle on Sunday. Didn't get up particularly early, wasted time hanging around the house, eventually got out for breakfast (around 1.30pm) which consisted of a Panani (dropped half of it :() and Rocky Road which was washed down with a Frappachino in Starbucks - truly the breakfast of champions!

Went and done some shopping in the local running shop (spending a heap of money on nothing in particular), hung around the house a bit more and arranged some dinner with friends at 6.30pm - trouble was that it was now 4.30pm!

So finally resolved to get out and done a nice (slightly hilly) run that I'd seen in the running shop (they've a weekly running group and have a noticeboard). I actually ended up getting a bit lost and probably went around 2 miles out of my way, but it worked out ok in the end. The run itself was on the opposite side of the Thames than I normally run, behind (and above) all the posh houses that overlook the river!

Overall, done 12.9km (just under 8 miles) in 1hr 22m (6m 21s per km (10m 10s per mile)) which I was pleased enough with. I could have certainly done more (time permitting), so despite the shortness of the run, I was still pretty happy with it.

W12KW#2 - Tempo Run

Bit of a delay posting this run up so I'll keep it short - plan called for:
  • 2 miles @ 10m 43s per mile (easy pace)
  • 3 miles @ 9m 08s per mile (short tempo pace)
  • 1 mile @ 10m 43s per mile (easy pace)
For the first time in these training plan so far, I actually managed to do the warmup part relatively easy (10m 18s per mile). While this is approx 30s per mile faster than the target, I'd still consider it relatively easy.

The first mile of the tempo run was pretty easy after the mile-long interval session on Tuesday night. I was holding off a little, conscious of the remaining two miles, but still managed 8m 44s. Second mile was a lot tougher, especially mentally - pace slowed down a little to 8m 50s, but it was slightly uphill, so still good going.

The final mile was tough - I really had to dig in and grind it out in 8m 58s. Overall, my average pace over the 3 miles was 8m 48s per mile - 20s faster than my target pace. I hung on for the final mile and a half to get home, doing the total 10.66km in 1hr 3m 17s (5m 56s / km).

Overall, pretty happy with it!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

W12KW#1 - Intervals

Another week, another track session.

Plan called for:
10-20 minute warmup
3 x 1600m @ 8m 35s with 1m recovery
10 minute warmdown

Once again, I'm pretty sure I got the distance wrong. Tonight, I started on the 4x400m mark on the outside lane of the track (the two inside lanes were closed off) and stayed in that lane for the duration. Garmin showed 1.75km (I only clocked it on the last one!). A quick look on youtube shows that the runners take the inside lane shortly after the initial handover!

In any case, found it pretty tough going and thought I wouldn't be able to do the second one after the first one. I actually ended up taking longer than the minute to compose myself between intervals. I just took it one lap at a time and thankfully completed the required session, though my times were definitely dropping off as the intervals progressed (the idea is to keep the times even).

Here are the times:
1.78km - 8m 25s (4m 44s per km)
1.75km - 8m 42s (4m 59s per km)
1.73km - 9m 01s (5m 12s per km)

Warmdown was at a pretty decent pace (compared to previous sessions), so overall quite happy with the run.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Weight update

This is a mid-month update, which is basically just cause it's being going so well over the last while I figured I may as well shout about it! As you can see from the graphs on the right hand side, everythings been in the green since the 25th June where my moving average tipped the scales at 109.1kg (actual 109.5kg). This morning (19th July) my weighin brought the moving average down to 107.7kg (actual 105.7kg), an overall loss of 2.4kg (actual 3.8kg).

Needless to say I'm pretty chuffed at that! One of the lads who hadn't seen me in around three months also thought I'd lost a lot of weight! To celebrate, I went out to this evening with a Nando's dinner (large chips + coleslaw) and desert this evening was a full tube of pringles and some dip! I could have held off the desert and I'm certainly not proud of it! Oh yeah, while I'm confessing, had two (yes two) cinnamon buns with my tea :(

Just want to write down what I think the weight loss is down to:
  1. Training: the first week of my marathon training plan started on the 23rd of June - hardly coincidence. I think the mix of the high intensity intervals and tempo runs with the slower longer runs at the weekend may have shook my body out of it's state of equilibrum.
  2. Diet: I've started being a (tiny) bit more planned with what I'm eating, especially during the week. Breakfast normally consists of 2 weetabix with milk + a portion of fruit, lunch is typically a small roll with meat, cheese and coleslaw, tea (around 5pm) is the same and dinner is usually a portion of pasta with some chicken. It's a little boring, but it seems to work. Of particular not is what I have for lunch \ tea - prior to this I'd have just had the two rolls at lunch. Splitting it into two seems to keep me full for longer if that makes sense.
  3. On a roll: I'm looking forward to getting up in the mornings these days to see what I'm weighing in at - seeing the line on the right hand side continue to go down is an awesome motivator (when it's going down). Once you build up a bit of momentum, then it seems easier to keep it up.
  4. Cravings \ willpower: For some reason (I've mentioned it before as well) I seem to have gone off all the junk food I used to eat (with the exception of ice-cream). If I go into a shop, for some reason I seem to find it easier to avoid chocolate (or crisps) at the moment - I've no idea whats brought that on, but long may it last. Even today when buying the pringles, I could have still put them down - it was the boredom that was the over-riding issue.
  5. Fear: Probably links in with #3, but if the training (especially the long runs) are teaching me anything, is that the marathon distance is to be feared and respected. Every pound or kilo that I can drop will hopefully make the distance easier.
So hopefully it keeps going as it has been - keep a close eye on the chart on the RHS and be sure to poke me if I'm falling back into the red.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

W13KW#3 - Long Run

Plan called for a 20 mile run at 7.02 per kilometer. Initial plan was to have an early start, so set the alarm for 6am. When that went off, reset it for 7am and eventually got up at 10am! Got out the door just before midday!

My plan for the run was to run along the River Cam up to the city of Ely, almost exactly twenty miles away. Any of the paths that I'd been on along the river near Cambridge had a good quality tarmac or gravel surface so figured it'd be like that up to Ely. A couple of lads from work live up there and reckon it's a nice day for a day visit, so it seemed like a decent plan.

Weather was good for running - a bit overcast, slightly windy and looked like it might rain (it didn't in the end). First half hour was ok, though was struggling a little and stopped for a drink of water on the 30 min mark. Was averaging around 6m 40s per km up to this point. Set off again but once I hit the river I soon realised that the nice path I was expecting was on the otherside - the path on my side was just a rough track in a field along the river!

I couldn't seem to get into a rythm and was in a run \ walk strategy - eventually got across the river and onto a section of path I cycle along regularly, which made things easier. That only lasted for 2 or 3 km, as we got into the Fens proper. The path here is essentially on top of a flood barrier (dam?) and there were long walking sections over the rough ground.

After a long, long slog I made it to the little village of Upware - absolutely in the middle of no-where deep in the Fens. Came across a pub on the river that was serving food, so decided to call it quits after 20.57km and 2hrs 47m (8m 07s per km pace) and grab a spot of lunch.

I'd a tough call after that - continue onto Ely (still 12km away) over the same terrain or try and get a bus somewhere. I decided on the second option and was told the nearest bus stop would be in a nearby village. Thankfully the google maps feature on my iPhone proved invaluable here and 6km later (52m - 8m 36s per km) I was at the bus stop waiting for the bus home.

One lesson from this is that I'm no longer attempting to run routes I've not at least cycled before - if I wouldn't cycle on the route (I certainly wouldn't on todays route) then I'm not running on it.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

W13KW#2 - Tempo Run

6 mile session tonight.

1 mile easy (10.43)
4 miles mid-tempo (9.28)
1 mile easy (10.43)

Done my usual thing of doing the tempo session first. First time wearing the new pair of Kayano's and after 4 miles I felt like I was starting to develop a blister. With the long run on Saturday on the horizon, I stopped on the four mile mark (had been planning to do 5 at the tempo pace).

Short stop (talked to a guy about his Red Setter) and carried on to complete the six miles.

I've signed up to Garmin Connect to give it a go - I've uploaded the run here.

My splits were as follows:
1st mile: 9m 22s
2nd mile: 9m 03s
3rd mile: 9m 20s
4th mile: 9m 32s

23m 13s for the last two miles :(

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

W13XW#2 - Cycle

Went for a 2hr cycle on my own this evening - nice evening for it, bit slightly windy which of course meant it felt like a gale out of the flat open areas around Cambridge. I obviously had it on my back for the first 40-50 minutes (20km), where my average speed was up on 31kmph!!!

That was up to the point where I turn westwards (I'm cycling in an anti-clockwise direction) in the screenshot below. Pretty uneventful, if tough for the next section of the cycle - the section around Needingworth was particularly tough - just long, straight and slightly uphill into a headwind. At this point my average speed had dropped to 29.3kmph.

Went slightly wrong at this point (almost ended up on the dual carriageway) and was starting to tire, so pace dropped a bit despite no longer being affected by the headwind. My knee's were playing up a little as well but soldiered on, my main aim to keep up the average pace.

Made it back to the start in 2hrs 15m, total distance 65km at an average speed of 28.9kmph. I think it's safe to say this is one of my fastest cycles (a shorter time trial may have been faster) - it'd have been nice to break the 29kmph mark, but will leave that for another day.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Weight Charts Fixed

I've fixed up the weight charts on the right hand side of the page. These are taking the values from the balance scales I got at the end of the last year.

As you can see, things haven't been going great on the weight loss front so far this year, but it's started to look a bit better in the last month or so. I suppose the main change there has been the start of the marathon training in earnest. I've also been less inclined to eat chocolate \ junk - for no apparent reason. That's not to say that I haven't - just that on a few occasions I've actually fancied a snack but have turned my nose up at a chocolate bar.

That said, I still have an ice-cream problem :)

W13KW#1 - Intervals

Tonights interval session called for the following:
20 mins warmup
5 x 1km intervals @ 5m 14s with 400m recovery
10 mins warmdown

Found this pretty tough but made it through to the end in one piece. Due to lanes 1 & 2 being closed, I had to run in Lane 3 and just decided to do the 2.5 laps from the start finish line instead of figuring out where to start to just do 1km exactly.

For the recovery intervals, I walked for 3 mins (approx 300m) and slowly jogged the rest.

It was an absolutely lovely evening for a run and really enjoyed the warmup. It was starting to get dark as I done the last interval and I was starting to struggle, but still managed my fastest interval of the night. It'll be interesting to see how the legs are in the morning.

Overall, I done 12.47km in 1hr 20m 39s (6m 28s per km). The splits were as follows:
1.05km - 5m 11s
1.04km - 5m 18s
1.04km - 5m 14s
1.05km - 5m 09s
1.04km - 5m 08s

Monday, 13 July 2009

Darn football

Got roped into my first game of football for the 2009 season due to a lack of players. I was supposed to be running the 17 miles on Saturday morning, but probably just as well that didn't happen.

I'd been planning on playing in goals, mainly as I didn't fancy getting injured but ended up playing in the forwards. Scored a point, but wasn't too happy with my play overall - that said, it was the first game I'd played since last year and first time with a ball in hand for a few months.

The main result of that was that I was pretty much unable to walk on Sunday morning - firstly because my right ankle had seized up and secondly because of a blister on the heal of the same foot. There went my plans of doing the 17 miler that I aborted on Saturday.

Going to continue with week 13 of the FIRST plan tomorrow down at the track. I'm a bit worried that I've a 20 miler beckoning at the weekend, but just got to see how that goes I guess.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Bad run

Supposed to do a 17 mile run this morning at 10m 58s pace. Got up early (for me) at 7am and was out the door around 7.45am. First half hour was un-eventful, until I had some "gastro" problems - luckily, I was beside the main hospital here in Cambridge and decided to use their facilities.

Got back out, figured that wasn't the best start but that I'd crack on - try and get another two hours under my belt. 15 mins later, I'm strolling home :(

I'm going to have another crack at it tomorrow morning.

Friday, 10 July 2009

W14KW#2 - Tempo

My first good tempo session of the training plan so far - it was always going to be a reality check as my main excuse from the last two weeks was gone - it was an absolutely perfect evening for a run - nice, cool, calm, etc. After my laziness yesterday, I went out for a relatively easy cycle at lunchtime, which looking back I probably shouldn't have (since the run was the more important training session).

So the plan called for
  • 1 mile easy (10m 43s)
  • 5 miles long tempo (9m 38s)
  • 1 mile easy (10m 43s)
As I always seem to get my pacing wrong from the start, I decided to just do the main part straight off - I was feeling pretty good and legs were strong after the first two miles, despite the quicker pace (around 30s / mile faster than the required pace on average). I kept that sort of pace up for the next two miles and was hoping at that point to do six miles at that quicker pace. However, I really struggled in the fifth mile and decided to take a rest afterwards, the quality part of the session done.

Rest of the run home was a series of run walks. Just after I'd stopped on the hour mark, I came across the biggest bunch of foreign students I've ever seen - I thought Dublin was bad during the summer, but Cambridge definitely takes that prize now! There must have been over 200 of them going over the railway bridge close to my place - just as well I'd stopped or I'd have had to run out on the road.

Splits:
1m: 9m 02s
2m: 9m 04s
3m: 8m 59s
4m: 9m 15s
5m: 9m 27s

I've posted a screenshot, which should illustrate the difference between today's run and the corresponding run last week :)

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Lazy day

Was supposed to be a cross training day, but after working late and my usual Wednesday cycle partner pulling out, I took the evening off. Have to admit, it was a bit wierd doing nothing for the evening up here in Cambridge - any of my usual rest days I'm either travelling, visiting friends or taking Spanish lessons.

W14KW#1 - Intervals

First workout of W14 called for a 10-20 minute warmup, followed by runs of 1200m, 1000m, 800m, 600m, 400m and 200m (with 200m rests) and a 10 minute warm down. I'll give a summary of the expected and actual paces below.

The evening itself was perfect - it'd rained heavily at least three times during the day, the last time just prior to the run (8.40pm). Although today wasn't exactly hot, it did seem to make conditions perfect for running. I was actually considering doing the tempo run tonight because of this as I don't seem to struggle as much with the intervals in the heat, but I decided to stick with the plan.

Anyways, here's the details.

Dist Target Actual
==== ====== ======
1200m - 6m 20s - 5m 43s
1000m - 5m 14s - 4m 56s
800m - 4m 10s - 3m 57s
600m - 3m 06s - 2m 52s
400m - 2m 03s - 1m 50s
200m - - 0m 48s

Monday, 6 July 2009

W15KW#3 - Long Run

Long run #2 of the plan! A small matter of 15 miles (or 24km in new money) - easily my longest run ever, never mind a training run. Ok, so I wasn't going to run it non-stop but it was still pretty daunting.

The plan called for an average pace of 10m 58s per mile over the distance. Given my last long run (13miles) came in at 12m 03s per mile, that was going to be a tough ask. After the trouble with the heat last weekend, I decided to try and get out as early as possible. So a 6.30am wakeup call and myself and my running partner headed out for the first stage of the run. She peeled off after 50 minutes (longer than she'd planned) but the company really made a difference - I knew I was about a third of the way through the run at that point and it didn't seem as daunting.

After leaving my running partner behind, I carried on along the Thames for another 40 mins or so. It was actually pleasant running weather and I picked up the pace a little. My first bit of trouble came around 9am when I came upon an open area and the sun decided to show properly for the first time - instantly I was zapped of energy and took a five minute walking break.

Thankfully, I got it all together again after this and managed a few longer run \ walks over the next hour or so. The last half hour though I found quite tough - it was starting to get a bit hot and I was tired. But I was in much better shape than last week and still enjoying it.

Anyways, done the 15 miles with an average pace of 11m 40s - I'm taking solace in the fact that it's a fair bit faster than last week and was a much more enjoyable run. If I'd taken five minutes off my time I'd be much closer to my goal time, but I can only run the run that I'm able for.

Going to start week three now - getting the miles in, even if I'm struggling.

Friday, 3 July 2009

W15KW#2 - Tempo

Possibly my worst run ever, certainly in recent times. Even at 8.30am in the morning (was going to a Blur concert later in the day) I just couldn't handle the heat! Ran 3km and lapsed into a run walk - mainly a walk for the rest.

Plan was to do 1 mile warmup, 5 miles @ 10.13 and 1 mile warmdown. I think I'll be repeating week fifteen. The marathon training is going pretty bad so far!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Weight update

Once again, haven't had one of these in a while, so it's probably time to 'fess up.

01/07/2009: 108.88kg
03/06/2009: 108.99kg
01/05/2009: 108.86kg
01/04/2009: 108.80kg
03/03/2009: 108.61kg
02/02/2009: 108.26kg
31/12/2008: 108.45kg
01/12/2008: 111.20kg

As posted before, I just can't seem to get a handle on my weight this year. At least it's consistent which is a not quite a negative point. Food wise, while I'm not religious about what I'm eating, my pattern is generally good during the week and lapsing at the weekend! But this is no different than last year while I was losing weight.

There's definitely excess calories creeping in - I can't deny that (and the weight graph \ figures don't lie). My activity levels have probably been more or less constant, but I'm hoping that the current marathon plan I'm following helps me focus on both food and exercise.

One things for sure though - any weight loss between now and the marathon will make the event (slightly) easier. When I think back to a rucksack I was bringing on holidays that weighed in at 16kg's, which was around the amount I'd lost at the time, it really hits home how difficult it is carrying around extra weight, even if you don't notice it at the time.

Long cycle

Went for a long cycle this evening, one of the cross training sessions on the FIRST plan. Went with another lad here in Cambridge who's also doing Gael Force in August and the plan was to get 50km's in. The weather all week has been absolutely fabulous and today was no exception.

For the first hour or so took it relatively easy, just spinning the legs but still making a good pace. After that, pushed up the effort level a bit and at one point our overall average pace was hitting 18mph. Unfortunately a quick toilet break reduced this significantly and a slight headwind, coupled with tired legs and a hungry belly meant the average pace dropped until the finish.

Overall, very happy with the cycle and will probably give this route another go at some point. Overall distance was 56.34km (+ 4.85km to start point), total time was 2hrs 04m 21s (+ 12m 19s) and average speed 27.2kmph (23.6kmph).

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

W15KW#1 - Intervals

Gah - I hate running tracks. Not because the sessions are tough (which they are!), but because I can never figure out where to start running from! Sure there's markings everywhere, but what the hell do they all mean? After my disaster last week, I found out that there's usually little plaques along the inside of the track with the different distances marked beside the lines - and sure enough there are on my local track.

Problem solved you think - well maybe not! It turns out a lot of distances (basically anything over 400m), even if they've a staggered start, basically all come to the inside lane at some point. So while I easily found the 800m staggered start line, doing two laps of the outside lane still had me "going long". I gave up on the outside lane after the second attempt and ran along the inside for my other two attempts this evening - apparently not the done thing for training as it wears the track out!

I came across an interesting race from the 2004 olympics on youtube earlier (when trying to find out how to run the distance properly on the track). Check out where the guy came to win it from in the last 200m - unreal!

Anyways, tonights session consisted of the following
  • 10 minute warmup
  • 10 minutes walking around the track trying to figure out where to start!
  • 4 x 800m at 4m 10s pace
  • 10 minute warmdown
Aside from being long in my first two runs, I got through the session ok. Times were not too consistant (based on average pace), which they're supposed to be, but I'll work on that over the next few sessions. Warmdown was tough enough - bit of walking needed there.

Monday, 29 June 2009

W16KW#3 - Long Run

I have to admit that I wasn't looking forward to Saturday's run for a few reasons. Probably the biggest one was the distance - 13 miles and 2hrs 20mins at the scheduled pace. Yes, that's a full half marathon - in training. That said, a look forward to the upcoming long runs has me thinking this distance will seem like a stroll in the park by the time I get to NY in November.

The other thing weighing heavily on my mind is the fact that the UK is in the middle of a heatwave and as we all know, I tend to struggle in the heat. I figured that at a minimum I'd need to take plenty of water on board, but after trying to run with a normal bottle earlier in the week, I needed a some sort of hydration system - either a standard drinks belt or something like a camelbak. I'd actually gone to a few sports stores in Cambridge and Reading, before finally deciding on a Camelbak - probably the priciest option, but I couldn't really find a belt system I liked.

While in the shop, got talking to the assistant who is also doing NY - he gave me a few tips (especially about running in the hot weather). So after enough procrastination, I headed out for the run around 6pm - thankfully it'd cooled down a bit. My initial plan was to run from Reading, along the Thames to Henley - just under the required 13 miles (getting the train back), but gave up on that after some advice that it might be more responsible to stay a little closer to home if things went wrong. First forty minutes were fine, but I started to struggle soon after that - lapsed into a run\walk after 4 miles and I think the longest run after this point was about 10 mins.

Going to cut a long story short here - even though I was struggling, my legs were fine, but it was my "engine" that was failing me. Don't know the reason behind this, I'm guessing the weather again. I finished up with 12.6 miles on the clock, could have stretched it out to the 13 but really couldn't have been bothered.

Legs were fine the day after, a little stiff. Had a nice 13km round trip walk for a pub lunch (along a nice canal this time) to stretch them out.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

W16KW#2

16 Weeks, Key Workout #2 (Tempo)

Plan called for the following
  • 2 miles @ 10.43 pace (mins per mile)
  • 2 miles @ 9.08 pace
  • 2 miles @ 10.43 pace
Really struggled to be slow enough on the first section, completing it 20m 40s (including a minute walking). Actually ended up splitting the second part into two as I was absolutely dying - done the mile in 9m 32s (part of which was walking). A minutes rest and I set off on the second mile, completing it faster than the required time (8m 57s). Another minute walking and just done 0.8 of a mile to finish off as I was really struggling.

Two lessons to take from it - I really need to get my pacing a bit better. Second is that I can't handle hot weather - probably almost as hot this evening as the day of the Wokingham Half marathon and I probably felt as bad.

Next workout is the long (slow) run - 13 miles at 10.43 pace - that's 2hrs 19mins 19s. Rest day tomorrow (might swim at lunch) and planning on doing the run on Saturday.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

W16KW#1

I'm 19 weeks away from the NYC marathon and I've officially started training tonight. Despite my previous post on marathon plans, I've finally decided to go with the FIRST training program. I ordered the book last week and it was waiting for me when I got into work this morning. I probably didn't need the book as they more or less give you all the information on the website (main thing that's missing is the training paces) but I always prefer to have a physical book instead of reading from a screen - plus it cost less than £10.

It's actually a 16 week plan, but I figure I'll start this week as I've got Gael Force at the end of August which may require a certain amount of flexibility. This plan calls for three key run workouts (the KW in the subject) plus two cross training exercises per week (which will be cycling for me). The key workouts are a track (interval) session, a short (40 min or so) tempo run (i.e. faster than 5km pace) and a long run.

Tonights run was the interval session - luckily enough the university has a track so I decided to give it a go and see if I could go around. Didn't seem to be any problems (the place was more or less deserted apart from another girl) so I done a 20 minute warmup. The intervals themselves consisted of three mile (1600m) repeats at 8m 35s pace - which I got nowhere near. I ran around the outside lane (lane 8) and looking at the distances, I definitely over-ran on the intervals.

I actually didn't do the whole thing either - I done the first one in 9m 32s (apparently 1.82km), second one I only done three laps (1.36km in 7m 19s) and just ran two minutes for the final interval. Tough going, that's for sure. A quick warmdown and I couldn't get home fast enough.

Next session (Thursday) is the tempo run - 2 miles easy, 2 miles at 9m 08s pace and 2 miles easy. Will probably go for a shortish (40km) cycle tomorrow.

Lazy weekend

Was away at the weekend down in the South West of England - Devon. Lovely spot, it not a little bit far away (around 5-6 hour drive from Cambridge). I'd come down with a head cold on Thursday (though rumour has it may be swine flu (this college is where I normally go swimming at lunch)), so wasn't really up for going out for a run, though to be honest, that was an excuse more than anything.

Had two lovely days down by the beach, unfortunately didn't get any surfing \ body boarding in though.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Last few days

Haven't done a lot since Wednesday last week, mainly due to my right foot hurting. Got down to the pool on Friday for a 800m swim in 32m 40s, including the first ten laps non-stop. My previous best was eight in a row and it's probably less than a month since I was struggling to do two in a row! Really happy with that progress.

On Sunday, after going into work for a few hours, I got down to the outdoor pool (Jesus Green Lido) here in Cambridge. Why would I go to a cold outdoor pool you might ask? Well click on the above link and you'll see that it's 100yds (or 91m) long. It was a gorgeous day, so it mightn't be that cold anyway. My main problem with it actually is the price - I don't remember the exact charge but think it was £3.80!! Fortunately, if you plan on going there regularly, you can get a season ticket for £83.

I'd been to the pool a few times last year, but one of my main reasons for going yesterday was to test a "theory" that I had. When in the 25m pool, I'm generally fine for the first 25m (fine meaning that I'm breathing ok, every three strokes) but on my second lap I really start to struggle, often breathing every stroke or a mixture - certainly not fishlike. I wanted to test wheter the brief turn-around at 25m was the cause - well based on yesterday's experience, it's not - I'm just as useless turning every 91m! Still enjoyed the session and will get back there a few times over the summer (might need a wetsuit).

Tonight, got out for my first run since Wednesday - was debating going for one yesterday, but foot wasn't quite right yet and my knee was acting up a bit (slightly worrying - never had knee issues before). Didn't have a lot of time, so just done a small lap - 5.5km in 32m 10s. Breathed through my nose for the distance - I'm going to try and keep this up for the slower runs I'm doing.

Over the next few days, I've got to sit down and plan my training runs for the marathon - I've already decided the plan, but need to print out a schedule, hang it up somewhere and stick to it. I guess I also need to have a look into at least one half marathon beforehand as well.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Last few days

I've just had three of my toughest days training in the last few months (probably since last year). I was on a training course for the first two days of the week, which meant I was home early enough. On Monday, I was busy in the evening, so I done a 7.26km run in 42.37mins (5.52 min / km) where I started off way too fast and had two stop twice. Still happy enough with it, as it's always good (for me) to do a sub 6 min pace run.

On Tuesday, I'd a totally free evening and the plan was to get a brick (bike followed by a run) session in. As Gael Force is a run followed by a cycle, it made more sense to do that here as well. My initial plan was to do 1hr of each discipline, but decided a while into the run to push it out to 90 mins (mainly thinking of the 2.5hr runs that are coming up in the next few weeks). I was planning on sticking with a 7 min per km pace (as recommended by Jack Daniels based on my last 5km race time) but seemed to settle in a more "natural" 6min 30s pace. This is something I definitely need to work on. Done 14.31km in 1hr 33m 24s (6.32 min / km) with an average HR of 166bpm.

After stopping for a drink and a quick nibble on a cereal bar I was off on the bike part of the brick. For the first few km's, it was touch and go whether or not my calves (both legs) were going to cramp. I decided to push on for another few km and thankfully it seemed to settle down, with a few minor twinges for the rest of the ride. It was a bit of a struggle over all, but managed to do 36.71km in 1hr 27m 17s (average HR 149bpm). Was absolutely wrecked afterwards though.

After yesterday days exertions, despite my tiredness and a stiff tendon \ ligament on the sole of my right foot, I'd previously committed to a regular bike ride with a friend here in Cambridge who's also signed up for Gael Force in August. The idea was to start pushing the distances on the bike out a bit and the aim was to get 50km in tonight. The weather's been pretty poor here today, with some heavy showers during the day, but we decided to brave the elements anyways - weather in Mayo is notoriously unpredictable, even in August, so there was no guarantee the weather at Gael Force would be any better.

We kept a pretty steady pace throughout, which suited me fine after yesterdays exertions. Got absolutely drenched a few km's in, but all in all (despite wet and cold feet) it was a pretty enjoyable cycle. We done a total of 58.72km (+ an extra 4.8km for me to get to the start) in 2hrs 11m 41s, an average pace of 26.8kmph - not too bad for a relatively easy cycle. Average HR was 146bpm.

I'd throw up some maps, only this post is long enough as it is. The links above are to the MotionBased details of the activities.

Marathon training plan

Starting to realise how big a commitment the marathon is going to be. I've finally decided on a training program, which is comes from the book Jack Daniels Running Formula. The programme is his "Complete A Marathon" one, which essentially boils down to running most days at an easy pace and two "quality" sessions per week. One of these quality sessions is (normally) a 2.5hr run at easy pace.

It's an 18 week course including a base phase which I'm currently in - this calls for 7 days running of at least half an hour, but I haven't actually been doing this yet - so much for sticking to the plan.

Next week I move onto phase two, which is where it starts to get interesting. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Any Old IronMan - final results

Had to pull in a final cycle on my last available day in May to get the numbers, but I actually completed the challenge. I did find it quite a struggle to get all the distances in over the course of the month, never mind the thoughts of doing it in a single day. So here are the totals (excuse the formatting).

Distance Time Average Pace Percentage Estimate Time Time Remaining
Swimming 3.90 3.00 46.14 101.04% 2.97 -0.03
Cycling 198.75 7.66 2.31 110.27% 6.95 -0.71
Running 48.75 5.33 6.56 115.63% 4.61 -0.72


My main aim for July is to knock some time of the above. I'm almost half way there now, but while my swim and run times are (much) better, my bike times are actually slower and given it's such a big part of the total distance, it looks like I might actually be slower! That said, I'm probably going to do a 50km fast-ish cycle tomorrow with a friend, so that should improve the stats.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Am I a rollercoaster?

After the disaster of the half marathon at the weekend, I'm on a bit of a high this evening! I completed the second race in the Cambridge Triathlon Club 5km race series, running strong all the way and even managing a sprint finish at the end (to overtake someone). Actually, considering how the first of these races went, I'm definitely at a high-point of the season so far!

Again, some very nice weather this evening (which kinda had me worried after Sunday), but I'm certainly not just going to run \ race in the cold & rain! Was determined to set off at an easy pace, but didn't fancy using HR or to try to stick at a certain pace, so just went by how I felt. It's always a danger, but one of my fellow competitors seemed about my level (he's in his 70's and has Parkinson's I found out afterwards - he's the brains behind the AnyOldIronman challenge I've been doing this month). To be honest, I was struggling to keep up and was hanging on his shoulder for a while, which is probably easier than setting the pace.

Pretty uneventful race for the next 2km - if my HR was anything to go by, I was certainly working hard. I passed and pulled away from my fellow competitor and at the 3km mark I'd caught up with another girl who had lapsed into a run\walk. After giving her a bit of encouragement, she was passed me again and stayed around 30m - 50m ahead until we turned for the final straight - I gave it as much as I had and passed her with about 30 meters to go. I felt a bit guilty about it I have to say!

Finishing time was 27m 33s - a new official PB. That said, I think I've done a 27m 12s in training before. HR was sky-high (avg 175bpm\max 186bpm). Didn't get negative splits, doing the first half in 13m 32s and the second in 14m 01s.

I've uploaded a comparison screenshot between the first race and tonights - I think a picture speaks a thousand words. A few points to note:
  • See the two dots on the map - still had a bit of a way to go in the first race
  • Tonights effort (blue) was at a constant effort throughout (apart from the sprint finish) - see the HR graph and average speed graph
  • Tortoise and hare - slow and steady wins the race - the delta distance shows that I was ahead of myself in the first race from the 10 minute mark onwards - sweet.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Absolute disaster

Possibly my worst run EVER! It was an absolutely gorgeous day, not a cloud in the sky and as I left to catch the train at 0824, it was already quite hot! There were a few fellow runners on the train for the short journey and I also met up with a friend who was doing the run.

We got to the venue with just over an hour to go and just took it quiet easy. As the crowds increased, so too did the temperature - you can probably guess where this post is going :)

As we start off at 10am, I'm feeling good. Purposely I'm holding back, like I mention in my last post though not paying particular attention to my HR or Pace. I probably felt fine for the first two miles but I started to struggle after that. I struggled onto the first drink station at 3.5 miles and decide to walk through it. It wasn't easy to start up after that and I ended up into a run walk regime more or less from that point onwards! To be honest, I almost turned around at that point to make the event a 10km - perhaps my biggest mistake of the day.

One of the big selling points about the Wokingham Half is that it's one of the flattest races in the UK - I personally find that hard to believe. I guess what I consider as flat (i.e. living in Cambridge) and what people down here consider as flat are two totally different things. I honestly think that I didn't go down-hill at any point over the run - it was all a slight uphill climb off into the distance!

So to cut 7-8 painfully terrible miles short, I got picked up by the sweeper bus at the 11 mile mark. I turns out I was in the last position at that point, had started to cramp a bit, my runs consisting of (max) 1 min on \ 30 secs off. When the marshall asked me if I wanted to quit, I was totally indifferent about finishing - it would have entailed a further twenty minutes of misery for absolutely no benefit. So I took the easy option and hopped on the bus.

I'll post up in a few days the stats and a shot of the route - it won't be pretty viewing.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Preview of Wokingham Half Marathon

I've got the Wokingham half marathon this Sunday, which was postponed from last February due to snow. I was kind of glad it was postponed back then cause I felt I could have done more training for it and if I'm honest with myself, I feel the same way now. Time and tide waits for no man, and all that.

So where am I at compared to before the Reading half - I guess I'm probably slightly fitter, been doing a fair bit this month, with the AnyOldIronman challenge and the fact that I've put gaelic football training on hold for a while. I haven't done anything now (besides a few swimming sessions) since last Thursday, a nice taper, so should be well rested going into the race on Sunday.

In the eight weeks since Reading, I've had 20 runs (127.8km), 8 cycles (305km), around 6 swims and probably 10 gaelic training sessions - averages out at around 5 sessions of exercise per week. The thing that worries me though is that they're not running.

So what do I "want" from the race on Sunday - well my number one aim is to complete the distance non-stop. I'm not particularily bothered about beating my Reading time (2hrs 13mins) but it'd be nice. I'm definitely going to aim for negative splits as well, to stop me going out too fast - I'll take the first 10km nice and easy and see how I feel after that. Finally, it's going to be my first training session for the marathon, so even more reason to just treat it like a long training run.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Marathon Preperations

Man, hotels in New York are expensive. Can't say I've ever thought that I'd ever pay what it looks like I'm going to have to pay (~ $250 - $300 per night) for a hotel room. Think my maximum before would have been around £70!

I'm also having to consider the flight details for the trip - I'd like to spend a few days in New York (never been), so figure it'd be better to do spend a few days before the marathon sight-seeing and the like. However, time and budget is constrained and I doubt I'd want to be jumping on a plan early the following morning (Monday) to be back at work on Tuesday. That said, I don't want to be hobbling around New York, feeling sorry for myself and not being able to do \ see stuff!

Another stumbling block I've had is that I don't quite have as much holidays left for this year as I thought I had. I've currently got 10 days to play with, but that's also got to cover Christmas, Gael Force (which I'd planned on taking 6-7 days to spend some time at home) and a wedding in Spain! I think it's all do-able within the 10 days but will require some juggling and changing of already booked flights (I actually had to change the GF ones anyways).

Madness Ted, madness!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Some great news

Congratulations! You have been accepted to run the ING New York City Marathon 2009 on Sunday, November 1. On behalf of New York Road Runners, I welcome you to the 40th running of the world's greatest marathon. One of the things that makes this race so special is runners like you from around the world, and we're hard at work preparing to give you the experience of a lifetime.


Woohoo - I'm over the moon. While I've never actually had doing a marathon high up on a list of things to do (I don't have such a list), I figured if I did one, I'd like it to be one of the big ones: New York, Chicago, Boston, Berlin, London. The ones in the states really appealed, New York mainly because I'd never been there before.

So while I've entered the lottery for London about 4 times now (three consecutively) I decided to throw my hat in for the NYC marathon earlier in the year. It was an $11 entry fee which I reckoned was worth the risk - there were other ways in, either down the charity route (which I've never been a big fan of) or through a specialised sports travel agent (major bucks - you're tied to them for flights and accommodation).

I was coming back from football training this evening when I checked my email on my phone and saw the message - had to re-read it a few times before it sank in. I was absolutely delighted, but soon the magnitude of the task also hit home - I knew how I felt recently after 11 miles in the Reading Half Marathon and how the thoughts of another half marathon seemed so incredibly difficult.

I've got the Wokingham half marathon this weekend - as one of the lads said, it's my first training session in preparation for the full marathon in November! I'm going to "retire" from football as well and just focus on this and Gael Force training over the summer!

Is this the source of motivation I've been lacking lately!