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!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

How NOT to run a 5km

Start out all guns blazing - it's a sure way to end up in a heap. I found this out to my detriment earlier this evening in the first race of a three race series I'm doing. The event is being organised by the local triathlon club and it's about a 5 minute walk from work, so I'd no excuses. I even skipped GAA training for it.

5km is a pretty tough distance - it's short enough that the aim should be to do it just under all-out effort. However, it does help if you know what your limit is!

Set off on todays race after warming up for a few minutes. Started off strong, as I'd good memories of the Reading Half marathon and lasting a fair distance with a good pace. Looked at the garmin at one point and I was in the low four min zone! Felt good and started contemplating my 20 minute 5km! What a fool!!!

Of course it was never going to last - according to the garmin & sport tracks it lasted all over 7 minutes (1.42km). As you should be able to see in the pic below, it was a battle to get to the end after that - short runs followed by rests - depressing stuff!

To mock me even further (I'm joking) there was also a kids 2.5km race which set of a few mins after the full 5km - I was getting passed by some of the youngsters before my first walk break - fair play to them - they were absolutely flying.

Anyways, my splits sum up this race nicely - 4.42, 6.01, 6.53, 6.25 and 6.09. Lesson learnt - the fable of the tortoise and hare comes to mind.

Monday, 11 May 2009

AnyOIdIronman update

Distance Time Pace Complete Estimated Remaining
Swimming 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00% 2.33 2.33
Cycling 137.31 5.48 2.40 76.18% 7.20 1.71
Running 30.16 3.37 6.70 71.54% 4.71 1.34
Total 8.85 74.02% 14.24 5.39

Sorry about the shoddy formatting above. As you can see, my big cycle on Saturday more or less added 40% to my completed status (total percentage is weighted by distance in each discipline). All looking good in the cycling and running, but I desperately need to get some swimming in - going to pack my swimming trunks tomorrow and get a swim in at lunch.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Long (long) cycle

Had great intentions of going for a cycle this morning with the local triathlon club, but unfortunately I'm not a creature of the morning. So after getting up at almost 1pm, faffing around for and hour or two (letting breakfast settle) I set off just before 3pm with the intention of repeating the last cycle I'd done with the triathlon club.

I decided to start from home this time (as I was on my own) and decided to pick up the route about 20km's in. The original ride was 75km (including a tea-stop) and I hoped to at least get that distance in, if not closer to the 100km mark (and without the tea-stop). I know the area where I was to join the route pretty well, as I cycle as it's a regular route during my lunch cycles and figured I could pick up some extra km's here on a hilly route (by Cambridge standards). Hence you'll see some strange weaving up and down to the A428 on the map below.

It was a lovely day for a ride, slighly windy in parts (it's so flat here and the landscape is generally exposed it's hard to get away from wind, even on the calmest of days). I'd planned on an easy ride, especially as I knew I'd be in the saddle for at least 3-4 hours, so I tried to keep the heart rate lower than normal.

The outward run was definitely into the wind - it definitely sped up noticeably when I kinda turned for home (far left point on the map). I was happy enough with my pace to this point, averaging just under 25kmph which was good considering the lower HR. I was struggling a little with boredom though, but I guess that's hard to avoid on such long rides.

As I made it back towards Cambridge, I had to get my old nemesis a call - Barrington Hill - I'd done this hill numerous times last year in my training for Gael Force, so this'd be my first attempt at it this year. It definitely was as hard as last year, if not harder - but I had 70km's behind me at that point.

The thoughts of another hour in the saddle at this point weren't really tempting, but I took the longer route home when I came to the crossroads just after the hill. I done some of the time trial route I'd done last year - seemed easier but I wasn't going flat out and the km's were counting down - soon I'd less than 10 miles to go.

By the time I'd got up to 88km though, and I could see Addenbrookes Hospital and Cambridge so close, I figured I'd call it a day and head straight for home. I'm glad I did, though it was tough not to give those last few km's a go - but I'd have ended up going around in circles trying to make up the distance and just getting annoyed. As it is, I'm absolutely delighted with the ride.

Distance - 92.5km
Time - 3hrs 39m 15s
Average Speed - 25.5kmph
Average HR - 14bpm
Calories burned - 4842 (can't be right - can it?)

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Time for some new rags

I had an occasion to wear my suit recently which is probably a few years old at this point. My mother commented at a family wedding around two years ago that it was too small for me and that I'd need to get a bigger one. That was around the time I'd probably hit my maximum weight (about 126kg).

Last time she saw me in it (October 2008) she remarked on how it fit a lot better (probably around 112kg). She didn't see me at my recent outing, but I'm pretty sure she'd have told me to get a smaller suit this time around. I've got another suit event (actually quite a few over the next few months) in two weeks, so went to the shops at the weekend to get a new one! This losing weight could be a costly business.

Other positives out of this occasion was that I met a few people who I hadn't seen in a while - plenty of positive feedback on my weight-loss.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Great Run

Following on from my last post, I'm just back from a great run - in total just over 100 minutes of continuous running (albeit at a fairly easy pace). It's my longest run since the Reading Half marathon and I enjoyed every minute of it.

I'd bunked off GAA training this evening and figured I may as well try and get a long run in. After my previous bad runs, I didn't really know what that meant, but I set off optimistically with a target of 100 minutes - it's a nice round figure which I tend to find easy to break down into sections.

I also chose a route that basically meant I was committed to at least 10km (unless I fancied a swim across the river) to deter me from trying to sneak home early - I find you have to use all the mind tricks available :) That route is actually my (current) favourite route in Cambridge - down via Grantchester Meadows - a well known route. As is usual around Cambridge it's flat as a pancake and you usually see a few other runners about - not tonight however - think they were all watching the Champions League semi final.

So, 7km into the run, I'm going well and it's looking like the 100 mins is on so I turn away from home and go up toward the university library, with the plan of getting in the only hill in Cambridge (about 1km further on) before heading for home. At the top of the hill, all is still going well, so I start to push the boat out slightly and soon enough I'm back in town, with just 20 mins left on the watch and a straight road home.

At this point I seemed to alternate between a minute or two of hard running followed by some brief recovery (slower running) but overall felt comfy enough. I made it home in 1hr 41mins for a total of 15.4km (6m 33s per km | 163bpm average). Absolutely delighted with the run.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Good run!

Following my recent posts on my bad runs, I figured it was time to highlight a good one. I hadn't done anything since Thursday, when I hurt my right knee slightly, but after a fair amount of walking today, I decided to have a quick run to test the knee out.

I was only expecting to do around 30mins, but after my Garmin complained of low batteries (again - second time in as many weeks), I just decided to wing it. It was a lovely evening for running, slighly cool, but otherwise calm and dry. Around 30 mins into the run, I figured I might as well extend the run as it seemed to be going quite well - in all done 8.5km which I'm pretty happy with. It's been my longest run in a while.

Planning on doing a long cycle (80km) tomorrow and an easy run afterwards, so we'll see how that goes.

Sunday, 3 May 2009


I've signed up for the AnyOldIronMan challenge which is being run in May by my local triathlon club (in Aid of Parkinsons Society). The idea is to complete each of the iron disciplines (and distances) over the course of the month and raise some money for the charity.

I personally think this event is a great idea - it's very acheivable (I can't even swim properly, but I certainly can get down to the pool ten times this month and do 400m), fits in with peoples training and generally encourages people to get out and do it :)

More information can be found on - I've already signed two people up from work - anyone else care to join?