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The Year That Was


from Diary of a rubbish marathon runner As it happens, today is New Year’s Eve, and since I must be the last blogger not to have written an analysis of 2008, I’d better do one right now. At the start of the year I set 3 targets: run 4000 miles, drop the weight to 140 pounds and sleep 8 hours a day. Within a fortnight something happened that made the first target unachievable and delivered the second one in one go, but not as I had planned it. I had already been ill in December 2007, but things really went downhill fast, and within a few days of January I was lying in bed with pneumonia, seemingly coughing my lungs out in a very painful manner. This cost me virtually the whole of the month, and training was still hampered in February when I slowly started to recover. Looking back now I was always going to have a hard time at the Connemara Ultra; I could count the number of good training weeks on the fingers of one hand. I made up for it 2 months later in Cork were I ran my best marathon ever, dropping under 3:10 for the first time.

I changed things during the summer, completely foregoing the mileage target in order to do more speedwork, according to the Brain Training book. After an avalanche of personal bests over the lower distances I managed to PR in Dublin but missed the 3 hours target after hitting the wall and crawling towards the finish. After the marathon I needed a few days to recharge my batteries, especially my mental ones, but now I am really looking forward to Boston.

I didn’t quite reach the sleep target either, which was in no small part due to Maia. That girl cost me a fair number of hours of sleep along the year; however, that was always going to be the case. Babies do that to you. But I did establish a regular bedtime of 10 o’clock, which is good, and if I can stick to that I’ll get plenty of sleep in future.

As far as the ankle is concerned, I still haven’t quite decided on the best course of action. Boston is still in the far distance, and if I were to take 2 weeks off, now would be the time to do it. However, I’m still hopeful that I can avoid rest, grit my teeth for a while and still recover in time. Most of my problems respond to that.

The 10k is on tomorrow, and I had visions of me being the only sober one amongst a group of badly hungover runners. However, since you all recommend the magic Irish potion for treatment, I might be in as bad a state as everyone else. I have run with a hangover before, but never raced. That would be an interesting new experience.

The drive back from Dublin was uneventful, and we’re all safely back home. The house was absolutely freezing as we entered, but has slowly thawed out by now. I ran 11 farewell miles yesterday before our trip, and since I won’t have access to a track anymore I ran 10 loops of straights and curves on it (sprint the straights, jog the curves). Today, back on ye Olde Faithful Caragh Lake road, I was surprised by the strong wind. I didn’t have to deal with that in Dublin. It made me work a lot harder than planned, and for some reason I kept the same effort up on the way home with the wind on my back. It’s probably not the best preparation for tomorrow’s race, but tomorrow’s race is not what I’m training for.

I don’t want to set specific targets for next year. I especially want to avoid setting a mileage goal because then I’d be in danger of running miles simply for the miles’ sake. My sidebar shows that I had a very successful year of running, the ultra PR being the only one to survive from 12 months ago (and it will last 2009 as well because I’m not doing Connemara this year). My big goal for 2009 is to drop 5 minutes and 38 seconds from my present marathon PR. I’m getting old, and I don’t know how much time I have got before the inevitable slowdown sets in. Once that is achieved I can look at knocking off a few targets from my to-do list.

30 Dec
11.1 miles, 1:28:15, 7:57 pace, HR 149
incl. 10 laps of straights and curves
31 Dec
8.1 miles, 1:03:22, 7:49 pace, HR 150

December Mileage: 336.8
2008 Mileage: 3143