Friday, April 29, 2011

Ballyhoura Walking Festival Mountain Marathon (Running the route obviously)

This event is organised by the Ballyhoura bears walking club and Ballyhoura Country. Its part of a weekend long walking festival and is along a marked route of trail, open mountain and river bank through the surrounding Ballyhoura countryside. It starts in Kilfinnane in Limerick and should be a nice training run. There are 4 of us that I know of who are running it but there could be a handy few more  on the start line tomorrow, beside the bears themselves. This will probably be the last long run I do before the Wicklow Way attempt in 2 weeks time. I'll report on how tomorrow goes in the coming days.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Wicklow Way Attempt - 132km Marley Park, Dublin to Clonegal, Co. Carlow

I have been thinking about having a go at running this for quite a while now, but wasnt sure whether I should try it before or after the Lakeland 100 race in July. Well I decided that if I was going to do it at all I might as well give it my best shot and get the best possible time I'm capable of. So I reasoned that I'm pretty fit for purpose at the moment so why not  now, instead of on tired legs later in the year. May 14th is the date I have set and I have managed to rope a couple of people in to helping with support so it should be all systems go on the day.  Hopefully I will be setting off at 4am from the Wicklow Way Start board inside the walls of Marley that morning
The current record stands at 13 hours 46 minutes and 1 second set by Eoin Keith in september 2008. You can read his detailed account here
Eoin's record knocked a huge chunk off Simon  Walters' old record set in 1998 which is here
It would be great to get anywhere near Eoin's time but he didn't leave too much room for improvement (thank's Eoin). Anyway its a great route and I'm really looking forward to a long run in the hills.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Claragh Mountain IMRA Race, Millstreet, Co. Cork, Sunday 17th of April

Distance 4.32 miles
Elevation Gain 340m

Result - 1st in 31.18

This was a real ball breaker of a race right from the word go. Thats the difference when its a short and sharp blast I suppose. Its a real shock to the system at this stage whenever I do this type of race because of my usual much more leisurely pace over longer distances. The race starts at a crossroad in the town and heads out the Claragh road for about 800 metres before taking a sharp left onto a narrow lane to start the long uphill to the summit. The route then goes through a stile on the right to begin its steep ascent up through the forest. The surface here was nice and soft but also laden with roots and small rocks so I was already thinking about the fun I was going to have negotiating this on the way down at the speed the gradient was bound to allow.  Anyway the pace was a little hot for my liking on the initial road stage and I had to make do with chasing the main bunch of 9 or 10 eager runners. Once the route started on the long pull upwards, I was able to start pulling back a few places and by the time we had exited the forest and on to the open mountain, there was just James Doran and Donal Coffey ahead of me. The gradient then increased and I could feel the burning in my quads as the effort increased. It was now a real struggle to take in enough air to keep the legs working and I decided not to waste any extra effort by rubbing the flailing spittle from my mouth and face (I know, very classy!). As we neared the summit I made up another place and only had Donal in front of me to chase. However I took a bad line,resulting in losing back that place to Rob Cleary who was motoring well. At the summit we had to go around the cross and retrace our steps back to the start. It was quite a technical descent back down and myself and Rob both passed Donal. Rob had now opened up a bit of a gap. This descent was the best I have felt in any downward portion of a mountain race and it's probably a lot to do with just relaxing and throwing yourself in to it and hope nothing goes SNAP!! There was some shimmying to be done around the now strung out line of bodies on their way to the cross. I managed to close the gap a bit by the time we were back at the forest, and then it was time to start the fancy footwork through the uneven forest floor. At this stage Mike Cunningham had made up a lot of ground and had moved in to third. So I kept pushing hard knowing that he wasn't giving up the chase. As we exited through the stile and back on to the lane, I was 15 or 20 metres back. The long downhill section on the lane felt better than expected as I was worried about how my legs would feel on the harder ground, especially as I had done 9 and a half miles in the forest at home earlier in the morning, just in case I decided not to race that evening. Perhaps not the best preperation before a race!
Turning to get back on the main road, I had made up the additional few metres and I was now side by side with Rob. The last 300 metres are on a nice little pull up the road to the crossroads and thats where I decided to throw in a burst and hope that he wouldn't be able to respond. And to my relief I opened up a little gap. I could still hear Rob suffering just behind so therewasno relaxing in the last few metres. This was definately the closest I've come to gawking at any finish line!!

This is a lovely course and has a nice mix of forest, mountain track and elevation. Once again IMRA show that money is not what matters when putting on a good event. The relaxed atmosphere at the start is a refreshing difference from the sometimes intense concentration exhibited by some at the bigger road races.
It was back to the Community hall afterwards for tea, scones, fruit bread and biscuits and the prizegiving. I am now the proud owner of a new coffee plunger. Thaks to all the lads who helped put on a great evenings entertainment.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Long Run (Marley Park to Glenmalure 40.57miles)

I took for days off running after the Wicklow Way Ultra and jst did easy mountain biking to loosen out the legs but got back in to it the following thrsday as the soreness dissipated. I had been sort of planning doing something long on the Wicklow Way as I have been thinking for a while now of giving this a go in the very very near future. Im not 100% on the exact date yet but it will probably have to be early to mid May or June. I will be posting when I have decided properly.
Back to my run on the 9th of April. The weather was just perfect for this and after scaling the wall of Marley park at 7am, I made my way to the info board which marks the start of the Way. I had parked my car at the Glenmalure lodge the previous night and got a lift to Dublin off my cousin so I had a very short journey to make to the start point.The route winds  its way through the park for the first mile or so and before I was met with the back wall of the Park, which again had to be negotiated. Once safely over I continued on down the road under the M50 underpass and up Kilmashogue lane towards the forest. At the time I was thinking about the contrast of passing one of the  busiest roads in the country with what was  to come along the rest of the route and I couldnt wait to get away from there. I really enjoyed this run and the peacefulness of the area at that time of theday.By the time I reached Djouce I think I had only met one man and his dog. Here though I started to encounter the odd hiker,or person camping. This was naturally going to change during the course of the day and by the time I reached Glendaough I had to weave around all the tourists and sightseers that the area inevitably brings. Still it didnt take from my enjoyment.
I only encountered 1 detour along the route between Ballinfunshogue wood and Oldbridge where coillte were doing their thing. But it was a minor detour and probably added slightly to the distance. I availed of the farmers tap after Oldbridge after that short road section. This was very handy as I was running low on water at this stage.
All in all the run took 6 hours and 59 minutes which I was happy with that considering the stops to take some pictures on my phone. I also took a wrong turn just before Glenmalure as it wasnt quite clear which way the little yellow man was pointing (the prick!!). A welcome soak in the river afterwards helped to take some of the soreness from the legs and by Monday I felt quite good apart from a little bit of pain in my foot which I think I picked up from stepping on a stone.
So I'll update when I'm going to have a crack at the full route when I know.