Sunday 23 February 2014

Clontarf back2back day 2

Marathon #44     Clontarf   day 2  Back2back

4:47:31   (this time doesn't tell the story of the run which I was very pleased with)

This was in association with the EOI marathon series with all profits going to Temple St hospital.

Dollymount Sand storm
So I have my letter off to the director of Marathon De Sables. If they want any free Sand Storm training all they need to do is enter a marathon in Clontarf/Dollymount in February. The wind was the story of the day as it was way stronger than yesterday and we had half of the marathon directly into it.

I thought I was in reasonably good shape this morning. That being defined by I could walk forwards down the stairs. I had slept like a log only waking occasionally to hear the wheely bins careering down the street outside. It was going to be windy.

The group before the start
I got up early enough and had a good breakfast and headed off to the start. There wasn't as many today as I was expecting but plenty that had done the Clontarf-Howth run the day before were there. With only 19 minutes in the bag from yesterdays run I had no idea how this was going to go.

We started off on time (together with a small half marathon field) and within 100m I knew this could be a mistake as there was nothing in my legs. It was actually quite surreal as it felt as if it was someone else's legs. The wind was like a hurricane and from behind on the first leg out.

Surreal running on the beach in that wind
The course was similar to yesterday except we turned around just before Sutton and came back to Clontarf. The half guys did 1 lap the full guys 2.  The first checkpoint for me was the 1/4 way turn around which I did in 1:01 and that was with the wind. I was just plodding. The half marathon was in 2:15 which was spot on my predicted 4:30 but I knew at this stage given the shape I was in, this was not going to happen. It was like two races depending on the wind which truly was unbelievable.

Running on Dollymount strand was a weird experience in that wind, with some people liking it to the closest thing you could get to walking on the moon. I certainly know some top spa's that you would pay top dollar for that kind of sand blasting.

There seemed to be even less of us who turned back out for the second lap and it seems the attrition rate was quite high even amongst some very experienced ultra runners. Maybe they are the smart ones.

Ger, Don and Frank
We could see the leaders who were way way ahead of us but were also veterans of yesterdays run. It was between the A-list co-race directors Don Hannon of Achill Ultra and Ger Copeland of the EOI series. Don looked to have the better of the battle and it turned out he won today and pipped Ger for the aggregate by a minute or so as well. The ladies race was won by super Ultra runner Ruthann Sheehan from Cork with Gillian Barnhill from Belfast taking the Aggregate. Well done to them all.

Meanwhile at the back of the pack there was a group of Eamon Dargan , Adolfo Garci and myself were changing spots all the way through the last 1/4 of the race. We had got to the 3/4 mark at 3:30 and were all plodding along nicely.  I was ready to walk at any stage if they did, but they didn't and they kept me going.

Eamon even offered to shelter me along the beach into the wind for the second time. But I was wary of this as if the A-List co-race directors had have got word of drafting on the course there could have been disqualification and even worse mandatory drug tests. With the amount of Solpadene, Paracetemol and Advil that I was pumped full of there was no way that I was passing that test. So I passed on his kind offer.

Running along the beach into the wind was incredible. I was running along and knew that Adolfo beside me was walking. After 5 minutes I noticed I had only gained 50m and on occasions the wind was actually blowing me backwards. So I walked for 800m. Eamon had a novel approach of walking/running backwards into the wind. I meant to ask him if it actually worked.

Apart for that 800m that was the only walking that I did for the whole 2 days. I am very proud of that.

Wooden bridge
I was very concious of my target of 4:30 for each day and was way slower today and this kept me moving forward. I was delighted to come off the wooden bridge with still 18 minutes left but knew I couldn't be complacent with this. I eventually crossed the line in 4:47:31 added to yesterdays 4:11:36 gives a total of 8:59:07   or 4:29:34  aggregate. PHEW!

Now its home and pack again to catch a flight back to Spain at 6:40 in the morning. I am gone now for 10 days odd so I can recover properly on company time.

If I was to take some lessons out of today. 1) Don't put jellies in your pocket when your running into the wind across a beach as you will end up with a mouth full of sand. 2) Make sure you clean all the sand out of the bath afterwards. Herself doesn't like that.

Pictures courtesy of Hanna Levy

Stats for today below

Saturday 22 February 2014


Marathon #43   Clontarf-Howth back-2-back day one

4:11:36             37th out of 77

I am very lucky in my job in that I get to travel a lot. This past week and next week are no exception when I have been and will be in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress and meetings around it.  The plan was simple, I would stay over in Spain for the weekend and drop down to Seville and run the marathon there on the Sunday. I had already consulted with his holiness Brian Ankers on his experience there and it sounded like a perfect plan. Flights were cheap and direct and the hotels were cheap and comfortable and the weather forecast was great. The only fly in the ointment was when I went to book the race, entries had just closed. I was gutted. I looked around the rest of Europe but there was nothing convenient or affordable.

Fortunately the EOI guys had just opened the February race so I decided to come back to Dublin and run that. Then the world went mad and they added a second race on the Sunday in conjunction with the Fitness expo in the RDS with all profits going to Temple St (including a half marathon). And even further they added an aggregate event over both days. It was history being made in Dublin and I wanted to be a part of it.

Sangre Familia Barcelona
I carb loaded on Estrella and Tapas all week and distinctly remember being in the "Michael Collins" pub at the Gaudi Sangre Famillia Cathedral being abused on facebook by most of Ireland's A-Listed race directors just because I was trying woo some American visitors to a competitive race in Achill (Tut Tut lads...). It was an odd week.

The flight out of Barcelona was at 10pm on Friday night and was delayed. Even gaining the hour I didn't touchdown till midnight in Dublin and didn't get back to my hotel home till nearer 12:30. There was no-one up. I wasn't in the leaba till nearer one.

Then out the blue I was awoken with the most tremendous toothache around 3am. It was the worst that I can remember in years and I was bouncing around the house swallowing Sopadene till it eventually subsided around 5am. Then I was wide awake again at 6am as I couldn't remember if I had set my alarm or not. That was it, I was up. For once I wasn't hungry and couldn't face my normal bagels and porridge. I would live to regret that.

This probably wasn't the best preparation for my first back-2-back marathon challenge.

I took the attitude that this was a two day event and my performance on day one would have direct consequence on day 2. So I was going to take it easy and then slow down. I had in mind an average of 4hrs 30 minutes per day as a reasonable target.

There was a big crowd turned up at the start, most there for the 2 day event and many from either the back-2-back event in Clonakilty the previous weekend or the Donadea 50K national championships also the previous weekend. There was even one who did the 50K drove to Clonakilty and did the second day of that event (you know who you are KC). That is truly mad. It was freezing and dry but very very very windy.

Today's run was a hybrid course starting at Clontarf and running north through Dollymount strand and onto Sutton. Then 2 laps of Howth Island before coming straight back to Clontarf. This involved 2 significant climbs and there was a very significant wind from the south in the back at the start but in the face for the last 8 miles. Both the hills and the wind were a killer.

Leaving Clontarf
I decided to start of nice and handy and ended up sharing a few miles with Marie Chapman and Maura Dineen (I think), who seemed to be out for a Sunday stroll and ended up coming 2nd and 3rd. Thanks girls and well done.

There was a rolling aid station strategy that worked really well. But I was starving around half way and just couldn't fill the gap.

I was through the first half in 1:58 which included a long wind in the back section and one circuit of Howth. I was a little ahead of where I wanted to be. The second Howth lap was hard but things got really tough when we hit Sutton going south and was right into the teeth of the gale. It was sapping.

I just kept plodding along and finished in 4:11:36 and hopefully I have left something in the tank for tomorrow. I have just had a cold bath and will go on the foam roller for 30 minutes and then have a stress free afternoon (NOT!) watching Ireland try and get the Triple Crown against England.

I am 19 minutes ahead of my planned aggregate time and I just hope it is enough and I can recover quickly for tomorrow.

I'll post more photos and over all results when they are ready.


Sunday 16 February 2014

Donadea 50K

Donadea National 50K championships

5 Hr cut off      4:59:56     for 100th place  (19th in my age group)

Well what a day. With all the storms of the previous week we ended up with the best day for a long time. The forest park was in relatively good shape but was very very mucky and sticky underfoot with lots of puddles. It made the going very heavy and way slower than a road race.

All of the major Ultra runners male and female were there and we were treated to Gary O'Hanlon going under 3 hrs and walking away with the title and Orna Dilworth doing a 3:43 and also walking away with the title. But big Congratulations to our very own Olywn Dunne who defending her title did us proud with a 4:13 for second place.

Paul Campbell and Joe and Olywn Dunne
Also from Crusaders was Olwyn's husband Joe (who was training for Barcelona) and Paul Campbell.

I didn't want to do this run but was persuaded by Paul Campbell while marshalling at the Grant Thoprnton 5K last year. I am not usually nervous before a run but this one had me wound up. Maybe because it was my first Ultra but also as there was a cut off time of 5 hrs which was no push over for me particularly in these conditions.

I had all kinds of strategies worked out for when I went over the marathon distance.

It was pretty mucky out there
It was unusual that we plodders were able to see the elite athletes up close and just to put it in perspective I was 8km in when Gary O'Hanlon lapped me (he was doing a steady 5:30). It was awesome to witness. I knew I had to stay under 30 minute 5k's to have any chance of beating 5 hrs and started off steady enough at 27:30 to 28:30 for the first lot of laps. I was through half way in 1:57 which meant a 4hr marathon was probably not possible and I would be really close to the cut off which rapidly I was growing to hate.

With Ray Cassin head coach of Duleek and District

I shared most of the first half of the race with Ray Cassin the head coach at Duleek and district AC, and it turned out we had pretty much identical times in every race we ran last year. I can't believe I haven't met him before.

I struggled on through the mud coming through the marathon distance in 4:07.

I then deployed a walk/run strategy for over 26.2. It meant that I had a very slow 35 minute lap 9 which only left me 33 minutes for the final lap (and I was knackered).

I could hear the finish line when I got a shout from behind. It was the 5hr Pacer/Sweeper Maurice who was shouting that we need to get a move on to make the cut off. There was then a frantic last 400m at full tilt and I crossed the line in 4:59:56 with Maurice spot on the 5 hrs. There was much congratulations and a beautiful medal and some banana cake from Olywn.

Orna Dilworth National champion 2014 and
Olywn Dunne National champion 2013
Of course it didn't finish there as we ended up in Mulligans in Poolbeg St later for some sweet pints and story telling.

It was an absolutely fantastically organised race.  I love these looped events that are extremely friendly and where you can watch all the races unfold close up which you can't do in a normal race.

It was some day.

Results at Red Tag timimg

Photos courtesy of Peter Mooney

Stats of the day