Saturday, August 30, 2008

Aug 24: Longford Marathon - Ireland

It was mid Sunday morning and I found myself watching the rolling green Irish landscape flash by inbetween small naps stolen from the seat of the bus taking myself, Jennie, my sister and my brother-in-law from Dublin to Longford - about 2 hours west. I looked at the others with me and saw that they were doing the same - we were all, no doubt, a little tired from the day before spent sightseeing (i.e. beer tasting) in Dublin and the early morning required to catch this bus. I dozed off again with fresh memories of the events that brought me to this particular trip.

About 20 weeks ago it was time to draft up another training schedule for yet another marathon. The marathon in the crosshairs this time is none other than the world record course - Berlin. The final training schedule was derived from my favorite passages in the bible (aka Daniels' Running Formula) and consultation with my running partner back in Houston. As a side note, I used to call my "running partner" back in Houston my "running buddy" but I have decided that no "buddy" would ever suggest some of the sick, sick workouts he has suggested to another "buddy". One such suggestion from my running partner was to run 24 miles for our long runs, in which we have 2 scheduled for Berlin. Like most things suggested between "buddys" (remember that before this training started that he was still my buddy) this suggestion seemed like a good idea at the time!

A sudden jolt from the bus awoke me from my slumber. It was 9:50am - we were almost at Longford. I had decided to run my first 24 miler within a marathon - this way I was gauranteed a supported route and a mental break from running loop after loop over my usual running routes back in Paris. The Longford marathon was choosen because it was close and fell on the date pre-determined in our training schedule.

I arrived in Ireland a day earlier to meet up with my family and to explore Dublin. We started the day taking a bus tour around Dublin. Making notes along the way as to where we would like to retourn. Once we reached the Guiness brewery, however, no notes were required - all that was required was an immediate disembarkment (plus it was just starting to rain and we were on the top of the uncovered bus!).

Here is Michelle, Jamie, and Jennie being the cool kids and sitting in the back of the bus in Dublin town.

The Guinness brewery tour was really interesting. It took several hours before we found ourselves at the end of the tour in the Gravity Bar (the highest bar in Ireland) enjoying a sweet, sweet mixture of hops, barely, water, and brewer's yeast. I figured that with my long run planned for the next day that a few pints of Guinness would be perfect carb loading. Or, perhaps I am just a sucker for advertisement and was convinced by the statements made in Guinness's first Newspaper advertisement (shown below). The statement that "Guinness builds strong muscles" had me asking for more!

Similar advertising continues to this day on the streets of Dublin!

10 million pints of Guinness are drunk everyday - here Jennie and I are in the Gravity Bar making our contribution to that total!
In fact, doctors used to prescribe Guinness to their patients! Knowing that it was "just what the doctor ordered" we continued to a local pub called Ryan's for more! There I ate beef-stew...a typical pre-race!
Back on the bus, we had finally arrived at this sleepy Irish town called Longford (population ~ 9000). With only 45 minutes to go before race time I started to get concerned of whether or not my dietary choices from the day before would affect my running. Or more importantly, what about my dietary choices this morning? With nothing open for breakfast (and me just not not taking this run seriously I neglated to pack anything) I was able to find some high octane fuel in the form of an egg 'n cheese McMuffin and a Snickers bar. Now, if an Egg 'n Cheese McMuffin can sit under those heat lamps for months without changing or going bad, it makes you wonder just what kind of acid one needs in their stomach to break them down. Maybe I should have a banana too so I at least feel like I am doing something right?!

Jennie and I eating the breakfast of Champions...I'm lovin' it!
After getting my bib and working my way into the crowd packed tighter than a sardine can the gun sounded and we were off (and here in Europe the smell is generally the same as a can of sardines as well)! The plan - just run 7:15-7:30 pace and repeat (26 times to be exact).
I started off trying to run at this pace and was, generally, successful. It was quite fun - just running and soaking it all in. With each passing mile I just kept feeling better and better so I decided that just as long as I could chat with whoever was running beside me, then my effort level was probably ok. The problem with this strategy was when I started running next to a big Polish guy who, apparently, had the same strategy...boy, people like us are really annoying! After trying repeatedly to get him to go ahead of me (instead of running me into the ditch), I decided to pick up the pace and to just get on with this run.
Now, if I may take a second, one of the main reasons that I never really got into blogging (until recently) was that I was always impressed by reading other people's blogs with their detailed (step-by-step) accounts of their races. I often wonder, "How in the heck do they remember all that stuff? How can they tell the difference between what happened at mile 9 and mile 11?". So, not trying to be someone I am not, here is my race summary:
11am - Race start
11am - 2:04:40pm - Some heavy rain, annoying Polish guy, a neat town called Roosky, a spectular trail along a lake, a decision to accelerate while still keeping the effort level low.
2:04:40 pm - Race (for me) finish
And all of that, occured somewhere along this path! The start (Longford) is in the bottom right; Roosky is the northern most point; and yes, it was basically a route all through the countryside.
Here I am at the finish.

It don't mean a thing if ya ain't got that and my medal!
My splits were as follows:
1-5: 7:06, 7:05, 7:18, 7:23, 7:25 (36:19)
6-10: 7:14, 7:08, 7:10, 7:09, 7:13 (35:55)
11-15: 7:11, 7:10, 7:05, 7:06, 7:02 (35:34)
16-20: 7:00, 6:58, 6:52, 6:46, 6:52, 6:56 (34:31)
20-25: 6:56, 6:58, 6:52, 6:46, 6:43 (34:17)
26 - 26.2: 6:36, 1:23 (7:59)
Total chip time: 3:04:40
For those of you more visually inclined, here is my HR and Pace chart. My HR was very well controlled until I decided to pick up the pace a little around mile 14. After that, it was just a steady incline up. This is another great reminder for me as to why negative splits (if you can plan it) is the way to go - you minimize the time your body has to spend working!
This chart is my pace shown relative to my overall average pace.
My marathon PR is 3:04:38 (Mobile, Alabama) - this marathon was just 2 seconds slower! I am not at all bothered by that - PR'ing was not an objective of this workout. Sure, perhaps I ran this training run a little harder than I should have, but I am blame Guinness!

1 comment:

John Y. said...

Awesome job dude! You're gonna rock in Berlin! To run that easy and nearly get a PR. I better watch my back if we ever run a race together.

By the way... This is going in Stridelines!