Tippin’ away

“Precious time is slipping away
But you’re only king for a day
It doesn’t matter to which God you pray
Precious time is slipping away”

Precious Time
Van Morrison

Another week has ‘slipped away’. There’s no need for an in-depth existential discussion on time; David Tenant*, as Doctor Who in the TV series of the same name, said it best (I am trying to avoid using the word eponymous, as I feel it’s exactly what I should do in this circumstance, so I have avoided falling into that… oh damn!)…

“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect,” says the 10th Doctor in a 2007 episode. “But actually, from a nonlinear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey … stuff.”

Anyway, whatever it is, and however you experience it, it’s gone. A whole week of it, or seven days. 604,800 seconds. That sort of thing. Actually that doesn’t sound enough really, but do the maths, and it’s right.

So, the week, in terms of training, looks like this:

Monday: Recovery run of just over 8k, in the dark with the head torch on. Another hint that not only is time passing, but the seasons are changing too.

Tuesday, and as I touched upon in the last blog, I bottled heading out into the pissings of rain, and instead chose to do speed work on the treadmill over in the station gym. Such fun. With about an hour and 15 on the watch, and about 8 miles on the clock, and nearing the end of the session, the alerter went off, so I was spared the last mile of warm down. Thankfully I didn’t have to jump into full fire gear and a BA set (as I was driving, and in any case, it was a car crash). Even with the small fan on, in the front panel, that treadmill will have you sweating buckets. And with no Garmin, of course, one could get statistic-anxiety: the fear of doing a run but not having it recorded, thus throwing out of whack all your weekly stats. Trecharithmophobia. And yes, I did make that up.

On the way back from that call, we were diverted to a car fire. We were out for over four hours. I was starving by the time I got home. Or, to use the Irish vernacular, I could have eaten a pig’s arse through a rusty barbed-wire fence. Or chewed the hind leg off the Lamb of Jaysus…

Wednesday: Recovery run, and just over eight and a half k with Mark, at a neat pace.

Thursday: Pace work, and hit the targets in terms of distance and pace per kilometre. Warm up at about marathon pace, then get in or under 5:35 km/min for 10k then warm down again.

Friday: Recovery run, and this can be a bit of a slog, with four runs under your belt already, and that pace run still fresh in the legs (though ‘fresh’ is the wrong adjective here). Still, dragged myself around and managed just under 12k – one short of the recommended 13k. Screw you, programme. I’m going rogue!

A rather epic-looking sky over the Kildare side of the park during the Friday recovery run. The evening sun breaking under the clouds makes the glowing row of poplars look like a freeze-frame of an explosion…

Saturday: The Long Run. And I am up early to join Ciaran, Des, Angie and Cathy, and others, to get in some mileage. We meet at Ciaran’s house and jog around the housing estates of Leixlip before tipping out onto the old Maynooth Road towards Carton Estate. We do a few laps of the nicer sections of this old demesne before the various groups split up and go their own way. All of us are training for the marathon, but some are only doing 10 miles. Some 16. Some 20.

With the group now smaller, the shackles can come off, and the pace can pick up to something more productive. In the end, the last stretch along the canal gets right down to actual marathon race pace, which is quite rich for a run that is supposed to be done at 6:05. But overall, it’s a decent run: nearly 26k done in about 2 hours 35 minutes, at 6:02 pace.

I was also trying a few different energy bits and bobs. One I have used before for triathlon with some success is the Clif Shot Bloks. I also had a Clif Shot Gel, as I used their bars on the Hardman, and really liked them. But their gel is something of a feat of endurance just to get down your neck. And I was stationery at the time. I wouldn’t fancy trying to consume one of those bad boys on the run, or the bike. They have the consistency of mastic adhesive, so unlike the obviously liquid gels from High 5, they take some coaxing to get out of the wrapper. I haven’t written them off entirely but I am still not sure whether to eat one, or use it to stick some tiles on the bathroom…

I’ll do some research in the meantime as regards recommended amounts of electrolytes and carbs needed… I have a fair idea of the numbers, but I want to compare some of these products and check what they have. As regards electrolytes, on the long run I took two small bottles on a belt with a mix of Vitamin C tablet and High 5 Zero. I really don’t need the Vitamin supplement; I think I got into the habit of doing this to counteract the awful flavour of some of those electrolyte tablets which are just pure salt. In reality, the Zero tabs have their own flavour, which is fairly harmless.

In any case, you are highly unlikely to dehydrate around Dublin at the end of October. There are plenty of water stations with all the usual suspects (gels, bars, energy drinks, etc.) so you can sip away as required. My only real decision to make is how to get the electrolytes in. I suspect in the past I over-hydrated prior to these big events. Not such a problem in a triathlon with a long swim as you have plenty of opportunity to empty your bladder. A wetsuit is not a wetsuit ’til you’ve peed in it. Not so easy in a sold-out marathon with 20,000 souls, many of whom will also be fighting for that Portaloo, or eyeing up that same tree to duck behind. So for a change, I am going to avoid too much liquid on the morning of the race. I will probably use the Energy Source drink from High 5 as I have used it before with no known issues. And the taste… well, it has a definite taste, as anyone who has used it before can confirm, and I reckon each time that flavour hits the back of my throat, some part of the brain will instantly know we are in a race. Or perhaps I am talking utter bollocks.

Long story short: don’t drink too much before the marathon or you will be pissing like a race horse, and each pee stop will lose you valuable minutes. And as I plan to latch on to a pace runner, this would be a bad development in terms of the overall race plan. Not quite ripping the fabric of time, or creating eddies in the space time continuum, but certainly it would mess with my own schedule. If you lost a minute, then that pace group is a minute ahead and out of sight (despite the pacers’ waving flags!). Then you have to decide how long you want to take to catch up. Even 5 seconds each kilometre is a decent extra effort to put in. But that could be 12k before you reattach. You don’t notice this in training, in the same way you don’t appreciate how much rest you take when training in the pool. When you stop for a whizz on a long run, your mates generally stop too, and mooch about at a respectful distance. Or take the opportunity to relieve themselves. Not so when you are in the belly of the beast. A large marathon is an enormous, sweaty, somewhat desperate serpent, full of angst and sugar, and coated in sweat. It won’t stop just because you need to pee.

Best not to stop…

How you know there are runners in the family. #24: The Water Bottle Stash

So that was the week that was. So to speak.

In other news, the world has indeed continued to spin. It’s 16 years after the events of 9/11, and we still watch, each year, the various documentaries on television. The visual impact of it is still visceral. What’s also striking is the number of Irish names amongst the firefighters and police. The links between Ireland the USA have always been strong. A few years after the events, a memorial was constructed in a nearby wood in Kildare. You can read about it here. (On that page, there is mention of an admission charge, and that is to get into the park itself, as it is state-run. The memorial is, of course, free to visit).

Our former, retired Chief Fire Officer passed away this week, so we had a funeral in Naas, complete with honour guard and fire engine. That means getting out the dress uniform once more. This is (sadly) the most common reason when fire crew wear their official dress uniforms.

On the work front, my Hollywood project came to fruition. That would be Hollywood, Co. Wicklow – the original of the species. S and I headed out to see the sign and leaflet I had designed, and to meet the committee and have tea and coffee. A very pleasant way to spend a few hours (even though my legs were tired after the long run).


And to wrap up, it looks like our old band may yet again be playing a gig in the local pub. The pub owner rang during the week, and though I didn’t imagine there would be huge appetite amongst the band for another one, a few quick messages on the phone proved me wrong, so roll on Christmas!


Though let’s not forget we have to run a marathon first 😉

* Well, Matt Smith said it as well, in later episodes, and if we’re being pedantic, and we often are here at unironedman, Steven Moffat said it really…

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