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Stumbling Blocks


from Diary of a “Rubbish Marathon Runner” Unless you are lucky enough to be a professional athlete, you will have to fit training around the obstacles that Real Life keeps throwing your way. I’m in the middle of a right old obstacle course at the moment, but so far training has not been interrupted.
A 2-day training course at Cork required a stay in a hotel, and if you ever find yourself stranded at Cork airport I can honestly recommend the Airport Hotel to you, but admittedly I had the added bonus of the bill being taken care of by my employer. The pastries for breakfast get 11 stars out of 10, they are to die for, and an excellent way of re-stocking depleted glycogen stores after an early morning run. The major drawback is that Cork airport is situated on top of a hill, and no matter which direction you are heading, the return journey is going to be uphill.

On Wednesday morning I headed towards Cork City centre. The run started with 3 downhill miles and an elevation drop of about 500 feet, which is very similar to my big climb on the Caragh Lake loop. My intention was to head straight into Cork, but I took a wrong turn and found myself heading eastwards towards Douglas. Since the objective of the run was to get some miles into the legs rather than a reaching a certain destination I didn’t really care and just carried on. I turned around after 6 miles, and surprisingly managed to retrace my steps without any major detours. Obviously the last 3 miles featured the same 3 miles as the start, but this time uphill. The longer the run went on the more uncomfortable I felt, not because of the fatigue in my legs but because the roads were much busier than what I’m used to in our out-of-the-way corner of the island.

Since I didn’t have much to do in the evening I seized the opportunity to sneak in a second run of the day. Hoping for a quieter and flatter road I crossed the main airport road and headed out into the countryside. I achieved my first objective, though the roads were still a lot busier than the Caragh Lake ones, but the fact that the road was called “Elm Hill Road” gives a clue on how the search for a flatter course went. Still, I managed a good pace and at the brow of the hill got a fantastic view of the surrounding area, all the way down to Cork Harbour.

Grellan was kind enough to meet me for a couple of pints and a lot of running talk in the airport bar.

I took it easier on Thursday with just 8 miles on a loop that I had scouted via Google maps, but for one mile I found myself on the Carrigaline road, which again was much busier than I had expected (I know I sound like a broken record). Still, I survived both the traffic and the major climb back towards the airport, and the breakfast pastries made me forget all the problems.

With the course finished I was back home and sleeping in my own bed last night, which was nice. A few more hours of sleep would have been even nicer, but 18 mile runs call for early rises, and by 5:20 I was on the road again, back on my old familiar Caragh Lake loop. The weather forecast hadn’t been great and I was waiting for the rain to come, but apart from a few drops at the 3-mile point it remained dry. The most noticeable difference to Monday was in my legs. Back then I had felt increasingly weary from the 12-mile point onwards, today I was much stronger and managed to speed up towards the end. After 11 miles I pretty much inadvertently increased the pace to about 7:20, and after passing our driveway at mile 15 ran the final 3 miles at an average pace of 7:01. This would have been faster if I would have been able to keep my mind on the task, an old problem of mine. After a while I start daydreaming, and as soon as my mind starts drifting so does the pace. Luckily this isn’t an issue at races, but I wish I could drop that habit during training runs as well.

There will be more Real Life obstacles over the weekend, but I think I have come up with a schedule that allows me to meet all my obligations and still keep on training. Life should start getting easier from next week again.

25 Feb
am: 12.2 miles, 1:33:14, 7:39 pace, HR 154
pm: 5.1 miles, 37:34, 7:22 pace, HR 155
26 Feb
8 miles, 1:04:47, 8:06 pace, HR 145
27 Feb
18 miles, 2:20:46, 7:49 pace, HR 151
last 3 miles @ 7:01