Sunday 28 December 2014

EOI Clontarf

Marathon #77   EOI Clontarf  4:46:00

Main start at 9am
This was a low key end of year marathon that was put on Free Of Charge by the EOI management as a thank you for the very successful year that EOI have had.

It was a very cold start at the wind monument and there seemed to be a very early start for some people but the main field went off at 9am. The wind was from the south and cold and helped somewhat on the way out and into the face on the way back.

Kristy and Me
I started with the main field. Also there today was Brenda doing her 72nd of the year and lots of the old EOI favorites. Gary was RD for the day and even through it was supposed to be a self sufficient run there was 4 aid stations enroute. Also there was Kristy Ryan from Crusaders doing her 18th marathon and 3rd in 3 weeks.

About 30 went off in the main field. I settled in at the back as all the quick runners were started at this time. I ran the first half with Ray and Frank whom I have shared many a race with this year and we were at around an easy 4:30 pace.  The beach was in as good a nick as I have seen it and it was a very pleasant run. We turned at
Kristy at 15 miles
1/4 way in 1:05 and at the turn in 2:12. I dropped a bit off the back mainly I think because I was knackered and slowed throughout the rest of the race which I ran on my own. Meeting the many runners coming against me was great and as usual there was great banter.

3/4 way turn was in 3:25 and I limped home to a very slow 4:46 and I have to say was absolutely freezing.

50m from the finish
The Garmin has seemed to have given up totally and the history refused to transfer to the computer and is lost. So I cant rely on that any more.

Receiving Award from EOI Chief Ger 
One big milestone for today was I have now clocked over 1000 miles racing in 2014.

next and last race for 2014 will be in Belfast on New Years Eve. I also received my 50 marathon trophy from Ger Copeland from EOI marathons. Its now proudly on my mantle piece.

Sunday 21 December 2014

Portsmouth Trail

Marathon #76  Portsmouth Coastal Trail Marathon


This was an interesting marathon as it had been voted in the top 10 in the UK and was the closest marathon to Christmas. The weather forecast was dry but would be very very windy with a westerly. As it was an out and back marathon it would help on the way out and be direct in the face for most of the way back.

As it turned out it was as bad as I was expecting.

It was an 8:45am start and you could pick up your number on the morning. Both Dave Brady and Brenda O'Keefe were there, extending their Irish records for most marathons run in a calendar year. It would be Dave's 101st and Brenda's 71st. Brenda has 3 more planned in 2014 and Dave 2 (maybe 3).

I picked up my number in the Pyramid Leisure center with 1800 others. This was a big crowd given a lot of the race was on a tight single track trail with "kissing gates" and pinch points. Brenda managed to get an early start and was gone by 8:15. I met with Dave before hand and we both had the same expectations of a 4:30 given it was a trail and windy.

We gathered on the prom and followed the pipe band to the start which was 800m down the prom. Very quickly we were off. Immediately my Garmin started playing up. Starting at a 9:15 comfortable

Dave at the start
pace with the wind helping we ran the first 2 miles on the prom. Street furniture was an issue here with several accidents noted. We then turned right onto the coast on a narrow trail which led to the first beach. This was very tight getting onto the beach and we
Waiting to get on the beach
were queued for a couple of minutes waiting to get on. The beach was shingle and soft and hard to run on. Fortunately it didn't last long but was followed quickly by another. At this stage we were single file on the coastal cycle path and it was very stony and at times muddy. Road shoes where just about Ok for the race but were on the edge at times.

We were stuck at a kissing gate for several minutes.

The aid stations were very well stocked with Gel's, Jaffa cakes, sweets, Jelly beans and mulled wine. I had a long conversation with coach Cottle at the Crusaders Christmas party earlier in the week and agreed that it was important to enjoy these marathons after some dodgy experiences at le marathon De Medoc where wine and oysters should have been consumed. I took full advantage of the aid stations. I came through 10K in approx 1hr and we skirted the M27 for quite a while at this stage.

After a very open marsh trail we crossed the bridge to Hayling Island and again stuck to the coast. The race was still busy throughout and it soon got busier as we started to meet runners coming back on the "out-and-back" route.  Surprisingly we turned at approx 12 miles and hit half way on the way back. I came through half way in 2:08, which was Ok on a trail.

Brenda finishing 71 for 2014
Dave finishing 101 for 2014
The wind started to bite on the way back and Dave caught me at 16 miles and disappeared across the bridge onto the mainland. We traipsed into the wind through the marsh re-tracing our steps.

At 22 miles I spotted Dave again in front of me and passed, expecting him to follow. He would end up 4 minutes behind.

All done
It turned out because of the tide they didn't bring us back onto the
beach on the way back but through a housing estate before returning to the prom. I was pleased that I ran the whole race and managed to make it back to the Pyramid Leisure center in 4:29:11. I was pleased with this given it was a trail and there was a lot of waiting in the early part of the race at the pinch points and relatively windy.

Garmin stats (Note Garmin didnt work too well. Just as well its Christmas (hint)).

Friday 5 December 2014

Quad Dipsea

Marathon #75  and Ultra #4 Quad Dipsea  (28.4 miles) nr San Francisco with 9200ft of climb


9200 ft of climb

This was on my bucket list since I started running and never in a million years did I think that I would ever make the startline never mind finish. It was definitely the hardest thing that I have ever done.

Mill Valley to Stinson Beach
The Dispea trail itself is one of the oldest, if not the oldest trail in the US with handicap races happening on it since the 1930's. It is a 7.1 mile trail from Mill valley in Marin over several significant climbs via the national monument Muir Woods to Stinson beach. This 7.1m leg has approx 2500ft of climb.

For the Quad Dipsea you run the Dipsea trail twice the normal way and twice in reverse for a total of 28.4 miles.

I was lucky enough in 2004 to run the annual handicap race and at that time I was running 45 min 10K's and
well marked.
did a 1hr 20 on this course.

My strategy today was to hike the uphill and run the downhill with a plan for 1:30, 1:40, 1:50 and 2hrs splits.  There were 2hr, 4hr, 6:15hr and 8:30hr hard cut offs on the run.

300 were signed up and 271 started. There was an attrition rate of 10% with only 90% finishing which was normal enough for this race.

687 steps
The weather forecast was awful and given that in the 30 years of running this race it had only rained 4 times this was not good. The night before around 4 inches of rain fell which really muddied up some of the steep parts (particularly bad for the descents). I choose to run in road shoes. Trail would have been a better choice.

We started at 9am and within 100 yards we hit the 687 steps for the
Weather was not good
first time. The field was bunched so you had to walk them, there was no choice. This brought us high above Mill Valley and we kept climbing up through some houses and a ranch. So far so good. The trail then plunges steeply for another mile into the Muir Woods which a national monument full of the massive Red Wood Sequoia trees. As soon as we entered the woods we then followed the long (several miles) steep up hill section called Dynamite. This was steep , slippy and very technical. It was hike-able at best and went up and up and up and up.  Eventually we crested at a section of the trail called Cardiac
best part of the trail
where the first aid station was. This was at the highest part of the course and was a relief every time to get to it. The cloud hadnt lifted and we ran in dark, cold and dank conditions through most of this. From what I remember the views were nice if there was no cloud.

From Cardiac we ran on a nice bit of trail along a section called the hogs back before entering the tree line at the rain forest. This was wet and muddy and at times very steep down. There were trip hazards everywhere. This led quickly to Steep Ravine which had numerous carved steep steps which were slippy and dangerous. After safely navigating these the trail opened out with one last steep uphill section for 400m called insult before a quick desecent down to the turn around point at Stinson beach and the second aid station. I came in on the first leg at 1:41 some 11 minutes down on plan but still 19 minutes ahead of the cut off.

The return leg was tough with Steep Ravine steps in reverse and the climb back to Cardiac being long and
tiring. I eventually made my way back to Mill Valley in 1:55. I was now 26 minutes down but 24 minutes ahead of the cut off. It was great to see the race unfold as you passed the leaders and indeed everyone on each leg. The trail slowly deteriorated throughout the day and the whole thing got tougher and tougher.

John and I just finished
I came through the third leg in 2:07 and the fourth in 2:10 for a total of 7:55 , well under the 8:30 cut off and delighted to have finished the hardest thing that I have ever done. The DOMS kicked in almost immediately and I couldnt walk right until the following Thursday. I dont normally suffer from DOMS at all. That was a shock.

I received my MCI 75 medal from John Catts the RD and am looking
75 MCI medal
forward now to the next 25.

Amazingly my Garmin lasted the whole day but seemed to measure the course quite a bit short which it wasn't. In fact there seems to be a lot wrong with the Garmin stats but its a record.

Video of 1/4 of the race and no short cuts allowed. Reverse and then do it again

Garmin stats