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Posts tagged ‘Portumna’

Back to Portumna Forest and onto the Midnight Marathon

Earlier this year, I ran the West of Ireland series marathon in Portumna, which I may have tried to sell to you guys as “brave marathon runner battles on to finish event despite injury” instead of the more accurate “idiot tries to run too many marathons in a week, walks/hobbles for last twenty miles and finishes in probably the worst time ever on that particular course…” Well it seems I’m a glutton for punishment; June 15th saw a return to the forest park in Portumna where over 150 men and women took part in events ranging from 10 to 100 kilometers in length. Unfinished business was the order of the day; I was pretty determined not to repeat the previous meltdown and so began eight loops of the forest.

Jittery nerves at the start-line
© Iain Shaw

As I just alluded to, on my last excursion to Portumna I was trotting along on my merry way until I passed the six-mile marker and promptly blew out both my hamstrings. What followed was six hours and fifteen minutes of excruciating walking that turned both my legs to jelly (this despite the course being as flat as a pancake).

This time, things panned out slightly different, it went like this: I had gotten up at 4 o’clock that morning for the long drive from Louth to Galway. Not realising that the marathon didn’t start till 10am, I arrived while the early registrations were still taking place and so retired back to the back of the jeep for some extra sleep. End result: five minutes before the bus left from the car park to the starting line, I got a loud knock on the window and a shout to wake up and get ready! There followed a mad scramble to get my all my gear together in a flurry of straps, backpacks, belts and compression t-shirts…

Just swap the giant red S for a ReachOut logo and that’s exactly how it went down…

Unlike the previous occasion in March, we began half a mile back up St. Josephs’ Road into Portumna. One of the best things about this particular course, owing to the fact that it loops around the same route several times, is that you always know when the next snack station is coming up; there was one situated at the finish line and another right at the end of that windy taily bit on the right hand side.

I think I just ruled myself out of the running for any blogger awards by using the phrase “windy taily bit”, but whatever – editing is sooo time-consuming….

Bolting out of the traps too quickly is still proving to be a major problem for me. For the first 13 miles, I was ranging from about 7:27 to 8:11 minutes per mile. In the second half, this collapsed somewhat, ranging from 11:14 to 13:50 minutes per mile. My heart-rate also dipped sharply around the two-hour mark. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a bit of a double-edge sword. On the one hand, I’m going to have to work a lot harder to repeat the sub 4-hour performance in Kildare. On the other (more positive) hand, I am finally finding my feet.**

I finished in 4hrs:18min:57 sec (cutting nearly two hours off the previous day out in Portumna) and I’m getting to the point where I can settle into a rhythm and feel comfortable finishing in this sort of time. By comfortable, I mean I probably won’t want to throw up on my way over the finish line.

Anything faster than that though, and we could have a problem

All in all, this was a pretty successful day out. No injuries to report and I am officially no longer the slowest man in Portumna! The next event would be a Midnight Marathon which was part of Le Cheile Athletic Club’s 24 hour Run.
Race report coming soon.

** I used to think that I got all my best writing done during these 2am cramming sessions. After re-reading that sentence, I’m not so sure…

Go West: The Reckoning…

Big news today. Just registered for the first ever Waterford Viking Marathon which takes place in 3 weeks … 1 day … 9 hours … and some five minutes (I’m quite excited). It will be one of only a handful of marathons held in the east of Ireland and by all accounts is going to be entirely amazing. Also this guy will be there, the 35-marathon man. When you combine perseverance, awesomeness and giant cojones, this is the kind of thing that happens; Alan Corcoran is taking on a challenge that most people would find impossible – running 35 marathons in 35 days -and just straight-up doing it anyway. You should definitely check out his website here.

So that’s my plan of action. Except before all that, there is one piece of unfinished business. You might remember that one week after the mountainous Madventure Marathon in April, I was running in a ‘West of Ireland’ series marathon in Portumna.

Ireland was a simpler place before Google Maps came along…

After about six miles, both my hamstrings blew out and I was forced to walk the last twenty-something miles to the finish-line.  That whole ordeal ended up taking nearly six and a half hours, which I’m told is probably the longest it has ever taken anyone to finish that course. Well, nearly two months have passed, and it’s time to go back west and have another crack at it. The Portumna Forest Marathon is coming up on June 16th and I’ll be there to get the ball rolling on the next stage of this campaign. At this stage, how it will go is anybody’s guess!

Finally Breaking the 4-Hour Barrier

On Sunday the 13th of May, I ran in the Kildare Marathon. It was only the third time this marathon, which starts from the world famous Curragh Racecourse, had taken place.

My preparation was to put it mildly, less than ideal. The previous weekend, I had run three marathons in as many days. On the second of these, in Limerick, I had come tantalisingly close to breaking four hours, missing out by just a few minutes. I managed to avoid getting injured, but my legs were completely swollen the whole way down and my feet wouldn’t fit into my shoes for two days afterwards; it took the whole week for them to return to their normal size. So naturally, training was pretty unpleasant that week!

Also, there is a rule of thumb when it comes to marathons. It’s usually left unwritten but most runners seem to agree with it, and that is that one should always try to get plenty of sleep  … and should definitely never EVER go out partying the night beforehand. So to cut a long story short, I went to my rather fantastic friend Meghan’s birthday party and ended up getting somewhere in the region of two to three hours sleep that night.

I regret nothing!!!

Also, I hadn’t really followed my diet plan at all that week. I had a forty minute drive the next morning to get to the Curragh Racecourse and got a sandwich with a gatorade from a petrol station on the way there. I hadn’t even thought to buy more gels, so I only had the three that were left over from the previous week. Finally, it was a swelteringly hot morning, and it would only get hotter as the day wore on. So to sum up, I was expecting nothing special.

I ended up surprising myself. The full route results are uploaded here; I started off with the 3hr45min pacers and kept them in sight for as long as possible, although I eventually fell slightly further back. At time of writing, the main details that stick out for me occurred during the last four miles as we were coming into Kildare town. Hills were run that normally would have been walked, all the gels and water had long since been used up, and to put it delicately, there was some stomach unpleasantness towards the end.

The first four miles were fun, the last four – not so much…

When it comes down to it, finishing under four hours is simple – you just can’t stop running. You can briefly stop for water but that’s about it. This is obviously easier said than done but I think the fact that I have a worthy cause to run for does help. Also I have wonderful friends that love and support me, and think that what I’m doing is good. You wouldn’t believe how many tough spots that dug me out of, it makes all the difference in the world.

Next marathon is in Portumna on June 16th.

Final time: 3:56:53

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