First sub 60 of a good summer

3 track sessions into the season and it was time for a time trial.  1 lap of the track. I never get off to a quick start but come  the 50 metre mark it felt like it was time to pick-up the pace.  Things were going smoothly until just before 200M when I felt  the shakes coming. I slowed around the top bend but then tried to accelerate into the home straight. By that time the wheels were starting to fall off. Passed out with 50M metres to go I didn’t have anything in  the legs in the last 100M. I finished in 58, much better than expected.

The session itself 4x 200M, 2x 400M, 1x800M, 2x 400M, 4x 200M

Times were 30-32 for the 200M, 66 -67 for the 400M and 141 for the 800M.

A few weeks more weeks training before the first graded of the year. I’ll need to decide if I’m going for the 800M or the 3000M. I’ll start out in grade C this year and try and finish better than expected. Training is going well off very little mileage. 25-30 miles for the pat month. I’ll build that up to 40 and may happily stay there for the summer. My secret weapon right now is lots of cross training and spinning classes. I’m now mostly pain free, once I

 

 

 

Stuck in Love

If love is setting a place at the table for someone who is never coming home, I think I’ll pass.

There are two kinds of people in this world: hopeless romantics and realists. A realist just sees that face and packs it in with every other pretty girl they’ve ever seen before. The hopeless romantic becomes convinced that God put them on Earth to be with that one person. But there is no God and life is only as meaningful as you fool yourself into thinking it is. Guys who get laid a lot are realists. You should be listening.

I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark.

A writer is the sum of their experiences. Go get some.

I never enjoy anything. I’m always waiting for whatever’s next. I think everyone’s like that… living life in fast forward never stopping to enjoy the moment too busy turn to rush through everything so we can get on what we’re really supposed to be doing with our lives. I get these flashes of clarity, brilliant clarity, where, for a second I stop and I think, wait, this is it, this is my life. I better slow down and enjoy it because one day we’re all gonna end up in the ground and that will be it, we’ll be gone. That’s why I think we should flack.

2013 in perspective

I brought a number of injuries  into 2013 and  in retrospect that was a big mistake. Things went pear shaped a few weeks before the 2012 National 10 K and I should have taken a step back.  If I learned nothing in 2013 it’s that you are always better to rest an injury early on before it gets to be a problem.

In January whilst on the job hunt I was starting to build up a nice block of training. Doing Insanity  doubles and a 5 mile run each morning will do that for a guy. I had one memorable session along the dodder where I was finding pace that I hadn’t seen in 6 months. I also had a reasonable 27 minute 5 mile in Raheny. That spell didn’t last long as in late January I had a broken toe. Stress fracture number one of the year. To put it lightly I had the hump. I was ready to give up on running. It just shouldn’t feel this way.

I started a new job in early February so one thing led to another and I didn’t get back running until March. That spell was a complete wasted 6 weeks. I put on 3KG and when I finally got back some motivation in March I felt slow and out of shape.

[blockquote]Do I really want to continue with this? It’s always one step forward, two steps backwards. It’s a waste of time, too frustrating and often embarrassing. Too much effort goes in and nothing comes back out. I’ve had just about all I can take it’s just not worth it. I don’t remember the last time I was able to do it pain free and actually enjoyed myself.[/blockquote]

Starting to realize I am my own worst enemy I needed to change my frame of mind. I needed to get some help for my nagging pain and diet. The track season had a few good workouts and a few enjoyable races but I couldn’t run fast, 2:06 800M 4:4X Mile.  I also kept getting random nose bleeds, most notable before a mile race in Tallaght. It all came to a head at the Dunsaughlin 10K. Possibly the lowest point ever in my 5 years of running. The race was pathetic. I never got started and had no energy. I should have walked off the course at half way.

I decide to take some time out and only ran 2-3 times for July and August. After a great holiday in the US and Canada I wanted to get fit again. Come late September things were starting to look up. I had started doing 4 mile runs each day over lunch and it provided just the change I needed. Fitness was improving fast. Going into the Rathfarnham 5K I had ambitions of running close to 16:00. In 2009 I ran 16:05 and in 2011 I ran 15:42 which is close on my PB for the distance. I hadn’t ran under 16 minutes in 15 months. The race was the fresh start I needed. Finishing strong in 16:00 I was getting there.

Come October and November I was close to firing on all cylinders. Still not at late 20111 / early 2012 levels but running well in cross country for a surprise. I was actually starting to enjoy it. I went to La Santa with a view to running under 2:55, running well but just missing out. Having struggled for a year with a sting of injuries I took the easy going approach in the 2nd half of the year, never pushing too hard and focusing on plenty of core work. This approach has kept me healthy and in good shape. The addition of a structured Pilates class in September made a huge impact that I can really feel when I am getting tired in races.

The day after Lanzarote I  ran the Dublin Intermediate and after finishing felt a strong pain in the top of my foot.  First diagnosed as a sprain it turned out  to be another stress fracture on the same foot, different place. Whilst I’m not sure what happened I think it’s the half marathon that did the damage. I ran flat out  for the first 10 miles until I somewhat ran out of steam.

The slow build up worked so all going well I’ll follow that pattern in 2014 and be back racing in late March / early  April.

Zach’s Osteocarcoma Fund

Back in May 2013 the teenage musician Zach Sobiech passed away from a rare cancer. This  week I heard  his song called “Clouds” about coming to terms with his imminent death. I cant get the song out of my head these past few days. It’s an incredible song and so very uplifting. This week 5,000 people who knew Zach know him got together to create a giant choir in the middle of the Mall of America. Then they sang his song, which debuted a year ago. The couple in the middle are his wonderful and supportive and brave parents.

Cancer is personal to us all. Over 30% of us will be touched by it at some stage in our lives. It’s hard not to be moved by this tune. It shows the massive potential of social media to do good. The song has raised almost $500K for a great cause  over at Upworthy blog. The song has been sung by celebrities including this rendition below from Matchbox 20.

BONUS: You can also buy this song on iTunes! The song is available world wide and Rock the Cause Records is donating 100% of the net to Zach’s Osteocarcoma Fund.  If you want to contribute, click here.

One more year over

It’s December 4th and Lanzarote has come and gone for another year.  The last few months have been focused towards running well in the challenge this year.  Cross country has been going well but is more of a warm-up for the fun in the Tinajo. If truth be told I think I was a little down on where I expected to be once the sand settled, finishing in joint 12th place overall.  I lost that ground on day 1, by not pushing enough in the 10K.

The 10K was a struggle in Lanza, 13K was fantastic once I got over a bad patch around 8K. The beach was a bit slower than expected but good overall. For the second year in a row I really enjoyed the 21K more than any of the other races. Early in the race I found myself  in contention for 5th place. Although that didn’t last too long  I really pushed all the way home and came  in with a PB. I ran a faster pace per K in the half than in any other race.

I had an awesome time in Lanzarote. It was up there with the best ever.   I still have some work to do to get into the top 10, but minus 5KG and more miles will see fit to that for next year.

Training has been going well over the past few months with a slow build up from August onward. I don’t think I have enjoyed it or had so much confidence in my running late 2011. Having struggled for a year with a sting of injuries I took the easy going approach in the 2nd half of the year, never pushing too hard and focusing on plenty of core work. This approach has  kept me healthy and in good shape (until now :) ).  The addition of a structured Pilates class in September made a huge impact that I can really feel when I  am getting tired in races. My fast, strong finish is back.

Arriving home late on Saturday I headed for Tymon park on Sunday for the Dublin Intermediate. Being vary tired the race was a major struggle. I battled through with a strong finish.  After taking off my spikes I realized that my right foot wasn’t right. Ice and plenty of pills have done some good, but 3 days later I’m still hobbling. This afternoon I went to the VHI clinic to get a scan and thankfully there is no stress fracture but there is a bad strain. I need to content with doing some aqua jogging over the next few days to stay fit for the National Novice. I have never cross trained whilst injured before, so lets see how this goes.

 

Cross Country was invented so water would taste good

There was a feeling of Déjà vu about today’s Dublin cross country in Raheny. Two years ago I ran a new 5K PB in Rathfarnham and then just wasn’t at the races in the Novice.Today ended the same way.

Doing a cross country race is like a soccer player being handed a rugby ball, gone is the controlled passing and along comes a thump to the head. Whilst road and track running allows you to control your breathing and pace a cross country race just hits you hard from the start and never lets up.

I was confident of a good run going into this afternoon’s race but yet again cross country running got the better of me. I ran a couple of OK but slow Kilometers , 3.28,3.33, 3.35 but then lost the head and well over 10 positions. Despite some great support on the course i just couldn’t pick up the pace.

I’ve yet to figure out how to run a cross country race. If you take it too slow you get left behind and never catch up, but if you take it out too fast it ends in much physical pain. On the road you have the lactic and hard breathing but cross country makes every most of me ache, back, knees,shoulders. It always takes a few days to get over and sets my training back.

I recently started doing Pilates classes twice a week. The improvement to my running, motivation and stability has been huge over the past 5-6 weeks. Out the window that goes during a cross country race. Races like this leave me asking why am I wasting my time doing something so unenjoyable? It sucks the enjoyment out of running and it will take a few more time to get back on track.

The time is now

It’s been quite a while since my last blog post. The last few months have been tough. I’ve gotten over the hip issues but the abductor and psoas pain keeps coming back. All the complaining aside my training is going better than it has gone for at least 8-9 months if not a bit more. I have been doing runs at lunch time and it’s made a massive difference.

Last week Sportsworld celebrated 30 years. It was a great night that reminded me why I love the sport.

Tomorrow morning is the Rathfarnham 5K, one of my favorite courses. It always helps to know every inch of the course on race day.

In 2009 I ran 16:05 and in 2011 I ran 15:42 which is close on my PB for the distance. I haven’t ran under 16 minutes in 15 months. Tomorrow marks a fresh start.

California in 5 Days

I went to the US hoping to take a break from training, re-evaluate a few things and get some quite time.  I set out in a cab at 8AM on Saturday July 6th 2013.

Flying with Delta was a good experience. The flight went quite quick but I would probably go with Jet Blue and Aer Lingus in the future, the points just aren’t worth the effort.

I arrived in New York JFK around one o’clock and collected my bags after a long wait. Doing customers at Dublin saves a huge amount of time. This is the first time I have led in a few years and not had the nth degree of questions.

ing with two different airlines meant I had to switch terminals and experience quite a long delay at JFK. Terminal 5 was a long walk but check-in was really quick and pain free. I had a 5 hour wait in JFK terminal 5 and took the time to   just chill out and think about things.   The price of food as in most airports was excessive and I remember boing shocked that my sandwich somehow contained high fructose corn syrup.

The flight to Vegas was a little over four hours and there was hardly anyone on the plane.

The people you get talking to on plane journeys are always interesting. The lady sitting next to me looked a bit like an aging party girl as she was wearing a tiara. 3 hours into the flight I was experiencing a very dried out nose and got a nose bleed.  This wasn’t a huge surprise after getting a bunch in the last while.

I arrived in Vegas around 10 and immediately went to look for some food at the airport. Not finding anything I hopped in a cab and had a chat with an interesting English lady who had moved to Vegas with her now deceased husband. Her first question was which gentlemen’s clubs I was going to visit.  After I relied none she didn’t say anything for the rest of the ride.

Even though Las Vegas is small you always seem to have to quite far to get a small distance with all the one way streets.  I got to the Tropicana and checked in around 11.  The Tropicana is part of Vegas history and has recently been refurbished so it’s a quite nice 4 star hotel.  It’s turned into a hotel as Vegas leaves behind the themed hotel trend of the 80’s and 90’s.

It wax Saturday night on the strip and Vegas was only getting going but I was wrecked to do too much so I headed down the street to the local CVS and picked up a nasal spray and some food. I wanted to get an early night so I could be up and at it for 6AM.

I woke up the following morning quite early and went out to see the welcome to Las Vegas sign, a bit of a walk but worth the trip. On the way back it started to rain.  The rest of the morning was spent down in old Las Vegas exploring the old part of town around Freemont Street and the baking hot casino sign grave yard. In the afternoon I did some rafting in te canyon, then hit the gym and went for a swim. I followed that up in the evening with a trip to Peepshow at Planet Hollywood. The show was really enjoyable.

I left Las Vegas early on Monday morning and went to pick up my car. I had a great experience at the rental desk. I left Las Vegas after stocking up on some water and much need supplies. I headed towards Death Valley and in particular Furnace Creek, the hottest point in the United States.  Along the way I stopped to take some pictures at Zebriski point and a few other hot spots including Pahrump. I arrived at the visitor centre and went to watch a great video narrated by Donald Sutherland. I then hit the road for Bishop and got up to 125 degree F.  The road out of Death Valley was particularly spectacular climbing and falling.  The experience of this heat was well worth the visit. It’s like opening the door of your oven.

In late afternoon I arrived at Lone Pine and had some lunch. Lone Pine is a nice little town that would have been a better stop for the night. It has some great views of Mount Witney, the highest peak in the 48 states.  Back on the road I first passed and then arrived in Bishop to find that my Hotel was the same one I stayed in 13 years earlier in the year 2000.

I went to explore Bishop, had some Pizza, world famous Schat’s bread and famous break, explored K-mart and went for one of the most beautiful morning runs ever. Running at 7000 feet is a little tougher but manageable

On Tuesday I drove up into the Sierra Nevada and headed for Mammoth. This was one of the most beautiful drives of the trip. Climbing up into the Sierra Nevada. I arrived in Mammoth and after getting a little lost headed for the mountain. I went up in the Gondola and had experienced the   amazing view from 11000 feet. Mammoth was a truly beautiful spot that I would love to visit again someday.  In the early afternoon I headed towards Lee Vining and got a massive Spinach and Turkey  wrap in a local store for lunch. I remember the girl serving behind the counter being particularly good looking, although her mother was giving me dirty looks.

On Tuesday afternoon I headed for Mono Lake and Bodie State Park. At first I was a little disappointed with Bodie but after spending some time exploring, reading the history and seeing some of the old archive photos I became fascinated. The 20 mile winding road is well worth the drive as is the last 3 mile stretch along a dirt road. It was however very hot. I can only imagine what it was like living here.

On Tuesday evening I arrived in a nice little hotel in Bridgeport, famous for its fishing. Looking back I should have stayed the night in Lee Vining. I had a great salmon dinner in an old hotel in Bridgeport that looked like it had been there since the original 49ers formed the town.

Up early on Wednesday I headed back to Lee Vining and after getting some breakfast and pass I went up the extremely anticipated Tioga Pass. The drive down to Yosemite Valley was amazing, incredible, enjoyable and a few more adjectives thrown in for good measure. Each turn brought another photo opportunity. It took allot longer to get there than expected. Along the way a short run that ended in an a feeling of an asthma attack and a stop at the grove to see some amazing trees.

The California Tunnel Tree in Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove was cut in 1895 to allow coaches to pass through it (and as a marketing scheme to attract visitors to the grove). It is the only living tree with a tunnel in it since the fall of the Wawona Tunnel Tree in 1969.

In Yosemite I hiked around and spent the entirety of the day enjoying the scenery. I could write for hours on this place, it’s a must see for everyone. In the evening I headed out the west side of the park, down the same route as 13 years ago and headed to Sonora.

In Sonora I hit a bar, decided a few things need to change and chatted to some of the locals and had some food. Not much to say about this place but it was worth the visit and the drive down new priest road to get there was amazing.

From Sonora I was due to go to San Fran and then fly to New York but I decided to get up early and hit root one from Monterey. The trip took a good bit longer than expected as I followed the GPS, had a feeling of Déjà vu in Gustine and arrived in Monterey around 10.15. The weather here in summer is shit.

I should have queued for the aquarium but instead had a quick walk and got going. The only problem is that the route back to San Fran is not that interesting. I hot Santa Cruz boardwalk, stopped in a Sainsbury’s and took the quick way to San Fran airport. I topped up on gas here which was a complete waste of money. I headed into the city and had a good walk around. It felt like I had saved my day. Although I lost my shades trying clothes on in Old Navy and couldn’t see the bridge because of the fog it was a great day and after heading back to the hotel had a feeling of contentment at all I had done over the few days.

Apart from getting lost on the way to the airport on Friday morning all was well. I didn’t want to leave California but I was headed to New York and then Toronto.

 

 

 

Destination Unknown

My 2013 season came to an abrupt end in Dunsaughlin last night. I’ve been struggling through almost every run for more than a year now with a multitude of injuries and illness. It’s time to take a step back and face the music after such a pitiful performance at the annual road race. Coming in 53rd at 35.27, over two minutes behind last years run was the last nail in the coffin.

I went into last night race not overly optimistic (I should have known from the warm-up) after what seems like a poor few weeks but confident of hitting 34 minutes and finding some redemption for what has been my worst spell of running. I’m now squarely back in 2009 territory, struggling and resenting it. Running times that I could  match before I even started to do any training with Sportsworld. Back then I was running 36 flat off 30 miles a week.  Thinking I’m the smartest person on the track, makes me the dumbest person on the track.

Last nights race was ruined by lack of sleep during the week, poor diet leading up to the race and a pain in my Psoas that just wont seem to go away. The same injury  that I’ve ignored ruined my build up to Lanzarote last November, scuppered any chances of running well in cross country and has destroyed any enjoyment I get from lacing up my shoes. It’s hard to describe exactly what happens but  mid way through the race lifting my legs gets too difficult, the movement in my hips deteriorates and I go into a slow march, helpless as I get passed out by runners I know that I can and should be well ahead of.

It’s exactly a year now since I ran my last PB in Dunsaughlin and the mind and body need a break. I’m going on holiday in two weeks, I’ll use the time to re-evaluate my future in running. I need to take a few weeks away and contemplate what to do next. I’m not yet sure how fixable this problem is, I may need to find something else to do with my time. If I do make it back over the next few months I would like some new challenges. Running Dublin in October and getting my weight down below 150 lbs are two lofty goals. I’d love to know what’s the best I can be? I realise that if I don’t change direction,  I wont like where I am heading.

Despite my stubbornness and refusal to acknowledge the obvious I have learned a few things over the past year.

  • Delay is the deadliest form of denial
  • Eat well and you the rest will look after itself
  • Running is 80% in the mind when your body id healthy
  • If you body isn’t playing Paul you need to stop straight away
  • Occasional risks do pay off but usually they come back to bite
  • We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think

For the next few weeks I’ll reign in the diet, no sugar, no diet coke, limited wheat and dairy. I’ve told myself I’d do this plenty of times before but

I’m also going to do some Insanity and P90X2  in teh hope of still  fitting into my wedding suit.

Time to quit?

Do I really want to continue with this? It’s always one step forward, two steps backwards. It’s a waste of time, too frustrating and often embarrassing. Too much effort goes in and nothing comes back out. I’ve had just about all I can take it’s just not worth it. I don’t remember the last time I was able to do it pain free and actually enjoyed myself.