Week Three draws to a close and Autumn has finally arrived. In truth, we have had another decent Summer, and the next logical season was bound to arrive sooner or later. But without doubt, if nature is any arbiter (and she is), then the climate and all that is bound by its rules have made normal predictions about plants, insects and birds difficult to make.
For runners, it has been kind, I guess.
Week Three of the programme took a little wobble when work and generally life happened, and I skipped Thursday’s run after a reasonably successful and on-track 5 mile pace run on Tuesday, and 6 miles of tempo on Wednesday. Heavy rain on Friday meant my half-baked plan to ‘catch up’ on the missed run never happened, and then on Saturday, whilst out with Mark in St. Catherine’s Park, the alerter went off while I was about as far away from the station as I can be and still be in the park, and my ‘hill session’ (which was already not going to be a hill session anyway) suddenly became a frenetic speed workout. One which I certainly didn’t order, nor one my legs required.
Sunday’s run did go more or less to plan, though, so that was a positive note on which to finish the week. Though it was nearly different for a couple of reasons. During the week, Gary (who, in running terms, is definitely my equal when it comes to ‘hey, I’ve had this CRAZY IDEA!’) sent me a message to see if I would like to do a marathon on Sunday. It turned out to be a ‘virtual London’ event with the promise of a medal, but fate was rather cruel and dealt Gary a hand which was essentially a full-house of Covid, so that put the kibosh on that idea. Get well soon, my friend.
Saoirse and I were out in the Big Smoke (Dublin) for a dear friend’s 50th birthday celebration at Ireland’s oldest Lebanese restaurant, and afterwards, I dropped into our local pub, the Salmon Leap Inn, to hear another old friend perform a solo gig in the lounge. The craic was good, and suddenly it was 1.30 in the morning, and I still had notions about getting up at 6.30. I stumbled ever-so quietly into the bedroom and managed to turn on the touch-sensitive make-up mirror which woke up Saoirse. Nice one. The Guinness in the bladder needed to find its way out, too, so a trip or two to the loo was required during the night. All told, excellent prep for a 13 mile run.
So when the alarm went off, I knew I had a very brief moment in which I would either haul myself out of bed, or turn over for some much-needed sleep. As is the Runner’s Creed, you are always glad you get out there, no matter what. So, a quick breakfast, and the ritual bits and bobs sorted (anti-chafing cream where it’s needed, a Garmin watch, the hydration pack and some sounds in the shape of RTE Radio One’s Rising Time) and we were out the door by about ten past seven.
I decided I’d get the park under my belt before I tried to up the pace to the required 8.30min/mile, as demanded by the programme. This is partly because any run on this route requires me to climb up out of the Liffey valley, drop back down into it, then escape it again. Also, my legs felt heavy, and the belly was curious why the twin-assault of Lebanese food and pints of Guinness had to be followed by such a tough workout. I had no answer. Something, something, the programme. Eh, something.
Out on to the Clonee Road and north towards the canal. Over the humpback bridge and down on to the towpath. The digger that was here a few weeks ago seems to have completed its task, which was to clear out the drainage ditch to the right of the towpath, and also ‘tidy up’ the swims along the canal itself. The ditch did need some attention, I admit, but the swims (also known as ‘pegs’ in the coarse fishing fraternity) are the regular gaps in the reeds that allow anglers to fish reasonably unobstructed. I suspect there are numerous instances up and down the country, post-Covid, where local authorities are catching up with a little maintenance. In this instance, the ‘fix’ is quite brutal and ugly, but no doubt there are those that will argue that it all needed doing. I would have left well-enough alone. Which is why I will never be offered a job in the local council in the ‘tidying up’ department.
The bridges came and went, and although everything felt quite sluggish, the pace improved a little, and by mile four, it was up to about 5.30km, or 8.50 minutes per mile. Off the required 8.30 pace as dictated by the programme. But hey, this was a morning to stick it to the man!
I did manage to do a negative split for my half-marathon, which is to say, when I stopped at the turnaround point to come home the same route, I kept the pace close to or under 8.35, so nearly on point, once the threats of mutiny had subsided during the earlier stages of the run. All told, the half was about 1.55, and generally any time under two hours for that distance is a decent day’s work.
Next week will not get any easier, which is curious and disconcerting in equal measure. Typically, these periodised training programmes see you build steadily for three weeks, followed by a small drop in productivity in week four before you build again. This 3+1 system is common to many such running plans, and many marathoners are familiar with them. So much so, in fact, that I am more than a little curious why THIS programme eschews such a well-worn system.
I’d write to the makers, but I’m too busy running.
In other news, we did a little dog-sitting during the week with a greyhound that we met online. That sounds a little odd, I admit, but it is what it is 😉
I took my Mum over to renew her driving licence on Friday. This was another ‘victim of Covid’ situation, and as with most things of a bureaucratic nature, I can’t be arsed outlining why this is the case. Trust me on this one. It was a longish drive over to a soulless building (which is perhaps unfair, as buildings generally don’t have souls, per se, but these monolithic blocks do little to inspire, unless it’s to inspire you to never set foot in them again). Hence, the usual option to do much of this stuff online these days. But of course, every now and again, you have to interface in very real terms with the state, and that usually means yet another soulless building. Bless. Anyway, I mention all of this because a sign caught my eye as we waited our turn. When I say it ‘caught my eye’, what I really mean is that it leapt off the wall and skewered my eyeball to the back of my skull. Viewers of a sensitive nature might want to look away now…
I love that someone sat down at a computer, typed this out, then printed it, looked at it (possibly), and said, yep, that’s grand. And then stuck it up on the wall. In public. Oh, to have such confidence.
The other item that grabbed my attention, but for more deliberate comedic reasons, was this tweet. I suppose you might need a basic grounding in Twitter humour, plus a basic grasp of the drag community. Maybe not. Maybe it’s obvious. Anyway, here it is. I was tickled.
Safe, enjoyable and productive running out there, lovely people!