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Posts tagged ‘Half marathon’

A Monster Update – Hikes, Bikes, PBs and Muck!

With the exception of the Docklands Run report, it has been a while since I’ve written anything new, so apologies to everyone who has continued to read the old posts. The website recently passed the 20,000 view mark – I don’t know where exactly that stands in the pantheon of blog-hits, but it’s a hell of a lot more than I originally expected, which was exactly zero. So thank you for that!

Mile Trial:

So what’s been happening? For the most part, I’ve been plugging away at the shorter distances; it turns out that when you’re not running marathons every other week, the PBs will come tumbling down! You may remember I actually ran a 10k in proper running gear for a change (i.e. no Santa Suit, no ballgown). On that occasion, my time was cut down from just under an hour to 41 minutes and 23 seconds. Not long afterwards, Drogheda and District AC hosted their monthly Mile Trials, which I decided was the perfect opportunity to show up at the track in a Saw Doctors t-shirt…


…with the sleeves ripped off for “aerodynamic purposes”. By the way, if you get that joke – congratulations, you grew up in Ireland in the 2000s. 🙂

As is their habit, Drogheda and District AC had two mile trial events, one on the Tuesday and another on the Thursday. As is my habit, I didn’t change my training one iota beforehand – these days I do mostly weightlifting and for cardio, I cross-train three or four times per week. However, a couple of things happened that were distinctly unexpected – on the first occasion, I managed to cut my one-mile PB down to 5 minutes 39 seconds. Furthermore, unlike almost every other time I’ve cut the PB down, I was able to walk away from the race. No lungs burning, no feeling of imminent heart-attack, no taste of iron in the back of my throat – I still had more to give. Being a glutton for punishment, I decided to have another stab at it on Thursday. On this occasion, I managed to get my splits almost perfect, just over 1min20sec a lap, with an intense sprint to the finish-line alongside Declan Monaghan. Just beating him by a whisker, I came in at 5 minutes and 29 seconds. It seemed that the lucky t-shirt had done its job.

A Weekend of Fun-Runs:

After that came madness. Shivvy Hickey, Jennifer Tweed, Alan Keegan and myself have formed something of an informal running club over the last few months, imaginatively named Team JenAlShivOl. Jenny ,being a vital cog in the wheel of Team JenAlShivOl, was understandably annoyed when she broke her ankle at a Hell and Back-style obstacle race. (Since then, she has ditched the cast and is, in her own words, hobbling around like an 80 year old. Go Jenny!) The only problem was we had a packed schedule of races that weekend – with a 10k obstacle course on the Saturday and a 5k Rainbow Run on the Sunday. Crutches and road-races being exceedingly poor bedfellows, it was up to our fellow DCU alumnus and floppy haired science-man Dave Grimes to fill in.


Leading to the most epic pre-race photo of all time.

The Rainbow Run was a relatively short dalliance around the West Pier in DĂșn Laoghaire. Fun but not overly challenging – more of a Facebook photo opportunity than a serious race. The Mad Craic race was more difficult, being more than twice as long, taking place on a soaking wet day and littered with charming obstacles such as haystacks, neck-deep rivers and barbed wire.


Also, this happened.

The Half-Marathon: Trimming the Fat

However, all of this was prelude to the main event. On August 5th came a race that Shivvy and myself had both been looking forward to for a long time – the Dublin Rock n Roll Half-Marathon. I had only ever competed in one half-marathon before; it was in a tiny Meath parish called Bohermeen back in March 2012. I had technically kicked off the ‘Running for Reachout’ project the previous December and it was slowly dying on its arse. I had no idea if I could run a marathon, never mind 20 of them.  I knew nobody in the running community, had never competed in anything before, and had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was that marathon season didn’t start until April and I needed to do SOMETHING. I vaguely remember showing up in a cotton t-shirt, 3/4 length shorts, and a woolen beanie, looking like a complete tool. After finishing in 2 hours and 9 minutes, I harassed a random bystander into taking my picture at the finish-line, holding up the participants’ t-shirt, and called it a day. Like I said, a complete tool.  So 18 months onward, the half-marathon in Dublin would be a nice way to bring the project full-circle. With the benefit of those months of added experience, and some excellent Dublin bands rocking out at the water stops, I managed to cut 35 minutes off the Bohermeen time, coming in at 1 hour, 33 minutes and 43 seconds.


Going Forward:

Going forward, I have some slightly different goals for the rest of the year. On Tuesday, I just got back from finishing my Adventure Journey project for a President’s award programme that I’m doing. That project eventually became an 80km monster of a hike, which involved summiting 24 peaks over four insane days; THAT will be getting a post all to itself.

A couple more assorted goals for the year, just so you guys can keep me honest – I want to go for my bronze award in the Marathon Club of Ireland, which is presented on completion of 25 marathons/ultramarathons. Currently, I’m on 20, so you do the math! In terms of aiming for time improvements, I still have to find a 5k, which I’ll be aiming to finish in under 20 minutes. Also, I’m going to have another go at the Eddie Murphy Double-Marathon in November, which I never technically finished the last time.

When all this is done, I’ll be going back to the drawing board, and concentrating on reducing my one-mile time. While I do have an ultimate goal in mind…

ultimate goal… the first step is taking a minute off my one-mile time (As I said, that’s currently 5.29) Can it be done? I haven’t a clue. But it’s going to be fun trying.

Dedicated to Kate Fitzgerald – 26th June 1986 – 23rd August 2011.

Back On The Road Again…

The Dublin Docklands Run is getting more popular every year; last Thursday saw the 14th edition of the fun-run in aid of Barnardos, with over 3000 people competing (1,120 in the 5k and 2,275 in the 10k, to be exact). It was also my first race of the year, and so it was that I took to the quays with my good pal Siobhan Hickey (she of fame) and our friends from college, Alan and Jenny.

giant red sticks

Here we are beforehand at the Grand Canal Square urban space – or to give it it’s proper title – the “Big Red Sticks.”

For anyone familiar with the area, the course is fairly straightforward – we started at Hanover Quay, before making our way around to the Samuel Beckett Bridge, and onto a turning cone near the O2 Arena. From there, we had a long, straight stretch as far the Custom House Quay, before crossing the Liffey again at the Talbot Memorial Bridge, and finally returning to Hanover.

dublin docklands

And then we did it all over again…

Anyway, to cut a long story short, it was personal bests all round!

Oliver Clare

I did have a little bit of trimming to do on my 10k time – what with having ran my last two events in a Santa suit and a ball gown respectively – so I was pretty happy with my final time of 41 minutes and 23 seconds. Hopefully I’ll be able to bring that down under 40 minutes next time. For now, I’m just happy to have another to add to the collection!

Personal Bests (All Distances):

One Mile – 5 min; 48 sec. (Louth Novice Cross Country 6k – Oct 7th, 2012)

6km – 25 min; 57 sec. (Louth Novice Cross Country 6k – Oct 7th, 2012)

10km – 41 min; 23 sec. (Dublin Docklands Run – June 20th, 2013)

Half-Marathon – 2 hrs; 9 min, 34 sec. (Meath Spring Half Marathon – March 4th, 2012)

Marathon – 3 hrs; 54 min, 44 sec. (Dublin City Marathon – October 29th, 2012)

Double-Marathon – 9 hrs; 33 min, 42 sec. (Eddie Murphy Memorial, 46 miles DNF – Nov 18th, 2012)

100 Miles – 28 hrs; 47 min, 43 sec. (Connemara 100 Ultra – August 11th/12th 2012)

…And That’s A Wrap! 20 Marathons Finished in 2012

Well it was a close thing, but after a long and wet day in Kildare, I finally completed the ‘Running for Reachout’ challenge! The last marathon of the year was from Kinnegad to Leixlip and ran alongside the canal for the most part. I’ll throw up more details tomorrow but for the moment, I’d just like to wish you guys a very happy New Year, and offer my very sincere thanks for sticking with me throughout 2012!


Crossing the finish-line with Finn O’Mara

Coffee Morning for Reachout & Other Good News

The story so far is pretty positive; I’ve finished nine marathons so far with the tenth due on Saturday, with no injuries to report. But more importantly, €1,384 has been raised so far for Reach Out, which is slightly over 25% of our target. With that in mind, the third fundraising event of the year will be a coffee morning held at St Brigid’s Hall, Dunleer, Co. Louth at 10.30am next Friday.

Directions can be found here

Also if you’re on Facebook, I have it setup as a public event, please invite your friends, even if it’s just to make them aware of Reach Out. All support is very much appreciated.

By the way, the good news I mentioned in the title? Very soon, I’ll be contributing articles for, which is Ireland’s biggest running website and attracts 400,000 unique visitors per year. Naturally, I’m very excited about this and hope that it will the campaign gain even more momentum. There’s a lot to be positive about today!

A 9-Week Marathon Training Program

I’ve been asked by a few people about my training for this challenge so I thought I’d throw together a quick post about it. First off, this is just what’s worked well for me in the past and there are plenty of pieces that could be worked into the program – for instance, I don’t do enough core exercises and I hardly ever have time to exercise with weights. For plans that are individually tailored to you, you should consult with your coach, a physio or other experienced members of your running club. (You should definitely be a member of a running club – and you should also do yoga with Emma Stafford for that matter!)

Week 1

Monday: rest or easy jog

Tuesday: rest of easy jog

Wednesday: 6 miles

Thursday: 4 miles

Friday: 4 miles

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: 12/14 miles

Week 2

Monday: rest or easy jog

Tuesday: rest of easy jog

Wednesday: 4 mile handicap time trial

Thursday: rest or easy jog

Friday: 4 miles

Saturday: 4 miles

Sunday: 14 miles very slowly

Week 3

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 4 miles

Wednesday: 6 miles

Thursday: 1 mile easy 1 mile steady 1 mile easy

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Half Marathon (13.1 miles)

Sunday: rest or easy jog recovery

Week 4

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 4 miles

Wednesday: 6 miles

Thursday: 4 miles

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 1 mile easy 2 mile steady 1 mile easy

Sunday: 14/16 miles easy

Week 5

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: rest or easy jog

Wednesday: 6/8 miles

Thursday: 4 miles

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 4 miles

Sunday: 18 miles

Week 6

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Rest or easy jog

Wednesday: 6/8 miles

Thursday: 1 mile easy 2 mile steady 1 mile easy

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 18/20 miles

Sunday: Rest

Week 7

Monday: Rest or easy jog

Tuesday: 4 miles

Wednesday: 6/8 miles

Thursday: 4 miles

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: 18/20 miles

Week 8

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 6 miles

Wednesday: 4 miles

Thursday: 4 miles

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 4 miles Time Trial

Sunday: 10/12 miles

Week 9

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: 4 miles

Thursday: 3 miles

Friday: 2 miles

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Rest

If you decide that you want to run a marathon every couple of weeks (and why not?), a good idea would be to use the plan for the last two tapering weeks to fill the gaps in between. Also, this article by Hal Higdon, entitled ‘Running More Than One 26-Miler A Year‘ also has some useful tips. Now go do some running!

A Madventure on a Mountain

Long distance running in the modern day is a far cry from the scenarios of yesteryear when its main function was either to bring news of battle or escape being eaten by a lion. Some other things happened in the history of running, but mainly those two. However, as we near towards the summer of 2012, running purely as a participatory sport has never been in better shape, with road-races such as the 5K, the 10K, the half and the full marathon all enjoying growing popularity. In America, the marathon has become a cherished institution; the Running USA’s annual report from last year states that for every 607 Americans, one person finished a US marathon in 2011. Running-fever has been spreading to Irish shores for some time now; the expected entry for this year’s Dublin marathon in October will be around 10,000 people while last Sunday, 11,000 runners took to the streets in the biggest Great Ireland Run ever. But even with the wide variety of races on offer, situations arise where running down the beaten track just won’t get the job done. That’s when it’s time to think outside the box and there are plenty of options; we’re talking ultra-marathon, we’re talking triathlon, we’re talking Man vs. Horse. Is it really all that crazy?

Yes. Yes, it is.

“But wait,” I hear you saying, “I value my hips, ankles and other joints; this kind of thing is for the birds.” Well, fear not! If you want to dip your toes into the weird wild world of extreme running, the Clare Madventure Marathon may be just what you’re looking for! It’s a standard-length marathon, with a few crucial differences. You’re running up a mountain so the elevation is serious, and it’s all off-road with not an inch of tarmac in sight. Last Sunday, this was my destination for my third marathon in just over a month. It all began at half five that morning when I packed up the tent into the back of the jeep and began the long drive from Louth to Killaloe, the “tent” being shorthand for the assortment of sheets, pillows, books and running gear that I lug around with me on most of the overnight trips.

I arrived about an hour before the kick-off at the UL Activity Centre, (giving me time for a sneaky nap!) just down the road from Ballycuggran Forest. After registering and loading up on coffee, fruit and Turkish Delights, it was time to head up to the starting-line. The turn-out for the event was quite small; most of us were members of the 100 Marathon Club Ireland and had run in the ‘West of Ireland’ series earlier in the year. There were about fourteen people doing the full 26.2 miles with a few others running the relay.

Sure what else would ya be doing on a Sunday?

In the background of that photo, you can see a steep hill leading away from the starting line. Mo summed up the opening section in his run report perfectly, “When 90% of the participants are driven to walk within the first half mile of a race you know you’re in for a challenge.” He also compared the effect of the first 4.2 miles on your cardiovascular system to a vicious kick to the nether regions, which I would wholeheartedly agree with. Not that we were complaining though!

And they're off!!!

The layout of the course was fairly simple in theory; run up the Moylussa mountain and down again, then repeat. Each lap is roughly the length of a half-marathon. That first lap took us over a wide variety of terrains from wooded pathways, to firebreak trails, to boggy peat roads, to a forest with a distinctly Blair Witch feel to it. I got slightly carried away with myself on the first lap; Dennis and I crossed the halfway line together after 2 hours and 7 minutes, so naturally my head was starting to swell a bit…

However, I couldn’t keep that pace up for much longer. Alas, some lessons just have to be learned the hard way. I later uploaded my route performance to the GarminConnect website (which can be accessed by clicking here) and it makes for some painful reading. Around the 14-mile mark, I hit the wall … hard! The next four miles were spent walking through bog, woods and loose shale; this section really made Connemara’s “Hell of the West” section seem like a stroll in the park. This finally culminated in summiting Moylussa for the second time, a section which was only one mile long, but which took me over half an hour to finish. But man, when it was finished, it was sweet!

I was smiling on the inside.

There was still the small matter of getting off the mountain-top. While running through a bog road is tough enough, walking through it is also pretty demanding, especially when you’re out on an exposed mountain-top in running shorts. At this stage, I genuinely thought that I’d be walking for the rest of the way until the finish-line. Gradually however, I started picking up the pace on the downhills. Pat O’ Keefe’s assistance was invaluable at this point; he gave me loads of encouragement (and his spare gels!) as we pushed through the last few miles. For some reason known only to myself, I decided to take off down the last downhill mile. Sheer dumb luck kept me from tripping and rolling down to the bottom but I finished that section in 8:30 for a total time of 5:41:55. Some interesting numbers from the race overall:

Average Pace – 13:20 minutes per mile.

Total Elevation Gain – 4,126 feet

Calories Burned – 3,160

I really needed to lose the weight...

So to sum up, “Ireland’s toughest marathon” lived up to its billing although there was a fantastic buzz as usual and we all got a great sense of satisfaction after completing it. Remember all this is for a great cause, which is the Inspire Ireland Foundation (ReachOut). So please don’t forget to sponsor me using the links below! Also please share the mycharity link on facebook and twitter, where all the photos (together with some excellent shots taken by Pat) will be uploaded this evening. Roll on Portumna!

Bohermeen and Taming the Carb Craving Monster

I’ve been ridiculously bad at updating this blog lately. The dearth of posts over the last month has mainly been down to lack of free time to sit down and write; I’ve been working hard at training and on lots of new developments in the magical realm of online social media – ‘Running for ReachOut’ now has a facebook page, a twitter page and, as of this morning, a flickr profile (still figuring out how to use that one…). Also, there are a bunch of cool fundraising events taking place over the next couple of weeks and I’ll be sending out more information on them through the facebook page very soon, as well as getting this blog up to speed!

More importantly, the first race finally happened! Specifically, it happened in Bohermeen at the Meath Spring Half-Marathon last Sunday. It wasn’t without its mini-dramas though. My jogging headphones decided to stop working that morning, leaving me in a slight dilemma since I never run without music. Ever. The only alternatives I had available to me were a huge set of circumaural headphones that would fall apart from the sweat, not to mention they would probably look more than a little silly.

Something like that.

Let the panicking begin. The race was starting at midday out in Meath; was it too much to ask to find an open music store at 10am on a Sunday?

I couldn’t find anywhere in Drogheda that was open, Scotch Hall let me down badly! Added to that, I was delayed for ages on the Slane Road, large tracts of which were closed off for reconstruction over the weekend. I was almost resolved to doing the unthinkable (running 13 miles without the choons!) but then in stepped Patricia from the Tesco in the Navan Shopping Centre at the last minute with a grand wee pair of wrap around ear buds for a handy €9.99, instantly cementing my affection for all things Navan-related.


Almost all things.

It was a gorgeous day for the most part. The course took in two laps of a 6.55 mile block, starting on the Newline and running left hand through Ongenstown towards the Navan Athboy road,cleft on the Boyerstown road and back to the Bohermeen Community Centre, with a couple of crossings over the dual-carriageway and some tough hills in between. I’d gotten a bit of slagging for showing up in a beanie-hat and long-sleeved jersey, but barely an hour in, it started to bucket down hailstones. Ollie:1, Nature:0! My ankles were a bit sore after the end of the first lap and legs were really heavy by the two-hour mark. By the end, the sweat was bucketing out from under my beanie-hat and I was thinking of nothing only the goodie-bag waiting in the car with the crisps and the strawberry protein shake. The goodie-bag also contained a free pen from Chris Curtis Kitchens & Wardrobes – a superb consolation prize if ever there was one.

I wasn’t too sore afterwards but I had crazy carb-cravings for days afterwards. Within about half an hour of finishing, I’d torn through a protein shake, a sportsfuel bar, several tubs of fruit smoothies and soup, a couple of bread rolls and some biscuits. And so it went on for days. For the last four days, I’ve eaten and slept roughly twice as much as normal, and I’m just beginning to feel like my old self now! Given the amount of runs in the near future, my only goals were to avoid injury and to finish the event without taking any walking breaks, which except for two brief water-stops, I managed. The next three races are scheduled for Galway next Saturday (March 10th), Connemara (April 1st) and the Clare Madventure Marathon on April 15th (26 odd miles of running on the open hillsides of Ballycuggran … job!) One thing’s for sure, I’ll never be short of a few spare t-shirts this year. Final finishing time: 2hours, 9 minutes, 34 seconds. Roll on Saturday!

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