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Ride Like The Wind…………….


Diary of a Rubbish Marathon Runner …It is the night, my body’s weak
I’m on the run, no time for sleep
I’ve got to ride, ride like the wind
To be free again

And I’ve got such a long way to go
(Such a long way to go)
To make it to the border of Mexico
So I’ll ride like the wind
Ride like the wind

– Christopher Cross

It is Sunday evening and I’m transferring music to an MP3 player the kids got me for Fathers Day (they must have read my mind) and this song struck a chord with the way I’ll be feeling when I turn on the music to get me through next Saturday night.

My schedule marathon at the end of April never materialized because two weeks into my nine-week training programme I developed a minor injury in my left hammy 7 miles into a weekend long run on 27th February. This was enough to consign me to a week off and a further two weeks of relatively easy running. This meant that if I pushed out the target marathon too early May, say Limerick, for example, I would eat too much into my recovery and subsequent training for the Belfast 24 hour. I was happy enough with this change in focus as the April marathon was ever only going to be a C race – part of the build-up for Belfast.

I managed to return to the weekend long runs relatively quickly but kept away from any speedwork. I knew I was fully recovered when I joined club mates Neil and Charlie for the 31 mile Wicklow Way Ultra on 26th March, which I finished in a reasonably good time of 5:18:30, 20 minutes down on my 10th place finish of two years ago. I was happy with this result given my temporary layoff and the fact that the focus was more on training than racing. The Wicklow Way was the first of 12 marathons+ distance runs I will have run as part of my build up for Belfast, the last being the 3:30 pacing gig for the Cork City Marathon on 6th June.

The core of my Belfast training revolved around weekend back to back runs on a Friday evening/Saturday morning, starting with 2.5 hours for each run and ending with 4 hour back to backs on 22nd/23rd April (covering 57.3 miles over the 8 hours) – still 9 weeks out from Belfast. The weekend-long runs for the final 8 weeks consisted of:-

30th April/1st May – 36-mile Ballyhoura mountain ultra in 6:36 /Pacing 1:50 for Limerick HM.

7th/8th May – Morning back to backs of 6 & 3 hours (64 miles in 9 hours) – not quite the same stress as evening/morning back to backs but work/life got in the way.

14th May – Pacing 3:30 in the Killarney Lakes marathon (30 miles total – no BTB as tired)

20th/21st May – evening/morning BTBs of 2.5 and 4 hours (49.7 miles in 6.5 hours)

28th/29th May – Morning BTBs of 3:45 – (57 miles in 7.5 hours)- I also threw in a mid-week 5:30 run on the Kerry Way covering 26.9 hilly miles.

4th & 6th June – 2 x Marathons in 3:30 (52 miles in 7 hours) – Pacing 3:30 in Cork on 6th.

11th June – 3-hour hilly run (22.9 miles) – considered extending to marathon distance but had enough after 3 hours.

18th June – 11.6-mile club run – well into taper mode.

I always feel I could have done more – I had originally intended to extend the evening/morning back to back to 6 hours a piece – but on balance I think I’m as prepared as I’ll ever be and certainly feel more prepared than I was last year when I was relying too much on my Ironman bike training. Over the 12 weeks from the Wicklow Way Ultra to the start of the 2-week taper I averaged 86 miles/week (1,032 miles) – I also threw in about 57 miles of walking for good measure. I probably would have benefitted from participating in longer duration races (12 hours +) during the build-up (The 81 mile Wicklow Way, 2 weeks out was too close for comfort) but there’s nothing I can do about that now. The work is done and there are so many unknowns in a 24-hour race that predictions are foolhardy – all I know for sure is that I am looking forward to the challenge.