Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dublin City Marathon, Oct 25th 2010

The big day finally arrived! This was my first Marathon in seven years, second in twelve years and my 20th overall. It had been so long since my previous Marathon that I really considered my self a novice again - and was, rightly, concerned about overconfidence. In spite of everything, I had set myself a personal goal of sub 3:10 - a rule of thumb is double your Half-Marathon time, plus 10 min. I'd done 1:33:15 for the Half-mar mark in Cork to Cobh, earlier in October, so that equated to 3:16:30. Six minutes doesn't sound much on paper, but it's nearly a mile on the road. Hindsight has shown that the target was too ambitious.

Conditions on the day were pretty good; a bit on the cold side, but little or no wind and no rain. I had toyed with putting a "Cancer survivor" strip on my singlet and, after discussing it with the Irish Cancer Society and friends, I decided to go with this, on both my front and back.

My daughter & I headed for the start area early enough, jogging the 2 miles or so from her place. After a bit of 'arsing around', looking for friends and acquaintances, we separated - she was going in the 3:30+ start corral, while I was in the sub 3:30 area. I met up with a few clubmates while we waited for the start, but I was always going to run on my own - I find it easier to 'get in the groove' running on my own. Before the off, I was well wrapped up in a load of throwaway gear - raggy t-shirt, gloves, cap and one of those white process/pharmaceutical operator type boiler suits.

Eventually the gun went and we were off. I maintain that the first mile, in particular, should be no faster than your average intended target pace, but I felt that I was working a bit too hard early on and eased back a little. Loads of people were passing me - more than I'd expected - but then numbers were twice those of my last previous marathon (Dublin 2003, 3:13:29).

I passed the first mile in 7:25 or so. This was a bit of a disappointment as I was hoping to get it pretty close to target pace of 7:10, particularly as the first mile had an overall drop. Nevertheless, I wasn't too bothered, but the next 4 miles were largely climbing slightly. I ran away steadily for the next few miles, but they were all around the 7:20 mark. The throwaway t-shirt came off at 4 miles, but got tucked into my waistband (just in case I'd made a mistake and needed it again) and my name and 'Cancer Survivor' strips were revealed. From then on all the way round it was mayhem - I got *absolutely HUGE support*, with people cheering and calling my name. It was brilliant! One drawback though, was that it probably got my adrenaline going too much in the early stages.

Running through Phoenix Park, at about 4 miles, I got the fright of my life when the 3:15 pacing group came through - I was approx. 1.25 mins down on target pace, so it was up my game. I quickly got into a better pace and started working a bit harder,knocking in consistent miles in the 6:52 to 7:05 range. Except for the 7th mile, which had a fairly severe uphill section, I managed to run the section between 4M and 19M, in 1:46:32, just 30 secs slower than I'd run the Cork to Cobh 15M race earlier in the month.

I went through 19M in 2:18:55 and felt good. We had a tough little hill coming up and I held back a little. Because of this, I lost a little bit of ground on those around me. After the hill, I went to work back the lost ground and very soon disaster struck! I got a bulging muscle hamstring cramp in my right leg. This brought me to a pretty quick stop. I managed to massage the cramp and get back on pace pretty quickly, however I had to stop twice more in the next mile or so. I still managed to go through 20 in 2:26:16, giving 7:21 for that last mile, in spite of the stops.

Unfortunately the 'head went' and I figured that I should have gone through 20M in around 2:08:00, and that I was about 18 min behind schedule. This, combined with the cramping led me to jogging and walking the rest of the way. I missed the 21M mark and went through 22M in 2:43:16 (My best for the full distance is 2:46:03, set in Dublin in 1988), so my pace had slowed to 8:17/mile. I missed all of the splits from there to the finish - I suppose my mind wasn't 100% on my surroundings after that.

Coming through the last mile, along the north side of Trinity College, I got a huge cheer from a small group including my wife Deirdre, who'd managed to gather a group of cheering strangers. I did a quick turnaround, coming back about 10metres to give her a hug and a kiss - she deserved it, after all the support she's given me over the past three or four years, in particular. I also did it to show her that I was OK.

There was only about a half a mile left after that and I finished in 3:21:52 - my second slowest ever, but *definitely* the most satisfying! After crossing the finish line I was interviewed by the press, being quoted in one of the national papers the following day and my photo appearing in several others.

This was very important to me. I wanted to make a loud statement that Cancer does not have to be the end of 'normal' life. I strongly advise any Cancer survivor to make a similar statement. Your speed/pace doesn't matter a F(iddlers)! YOU are sending a *very* strong message to everyone dealing with Cancer in their everyday lives and that message gives them an enormous lift. They may not know you, but, by God, does it give them heart.

Before running the Marathon, with the 'Cancer Survivor' strip, I was apprehensive about appearing foolish with it. I need not have worried. the feedback I got afterwards was absolutely tremendous and positive. Since then I've run a Half-Marathon wearing the 'Cancer Survivor' strip. It's not something I intend doing all the time - only in high profile events AND where I think wearing it will make a difference.

Apart from the usual blisters, pretty uncomfortable aches and pains and general muscle soreness, for several days, I had little after-effects. On the leakage side, I had very slight leakage on the day. Probably about a tablespoonful in all. Not bad considering that I'd been out from 7:30am until approx. 3pm. I'll live with that anyday!

Since October 25th, I've run many races, from 1M to Half-Marathons, on the road, track and some harrowing cross-country races. I might get round to writing about some of these.....On the other hand, it's taken me nearly 5 months to finish this particular entry! I'll do something....just don't hold your breath!

PS: My daughter finished just 3 minutes after me, knocking a massive 26 minutes off her best time!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Lead up to Dublin City Marathon's almost Christmas...nearly two months after the must be time for me to write a race report [rolls eyes]

My preparation for this Marathon was meticulous. I'd been planning and organising my training strategy for this for well over a year.....Then, in the last two weeks, I threw the rule book out and probably blew my chances of achieving my aim of a) a National Championship medal in the M55 category and b) a sub 3:10 time. The first of these was definitely achievable, while the second was VERY ambitious.

Anyway....the things that nearly blew my chances:
The first was running not one, but two cross-country races, in the last fortnight. I was spouting the 'tried and tested' running philosophy of not going hard in the last fortnight, as it can do harm..."you can't do to little, but you CAN do too much"

On Sunday 10th October, I ran in the Cork AAI County Masters XC Chps and, while having a good run, I finished fourth scorer on Eagle's M50 team. I was a bit disappointed but hadn't tapered properly, so wasn't overly concerned. I don't think that did much, if any, harm.

The next thing did, however I had little control over the incident. I was in Dublin for two days of training in the Irish Cancer Society's Peer to Peer mentoring scheme and stayed in a hotel close to some of the Marathon route. On my first day there I went for a 7 mile run, including part of the Marathon course. I was flying and thought that the last 6 miles of the Marathon course was 'a doddle'.

Afterwards I had a shower and then the trouble started......when I was finishing I inadvertently turned one of the dual controls the wrong way. Instead of turning off the water, as I thought, I turned the hot control to full blast!! Normally hot is around 55-60C. This was at least 80C!!! I reeled and staggered with shock, falling in the process (The shower was in a bath, rather than a walk in unit). I was screaming in pain, all the time trying to get out of the bath. I fell back four times in all. After the last time I thought to myself "If you don't get out now, you're going to die here!" It took some effort, but I got out. Two months later and I still find it inexplicable. The mind boggles at the thought of someone having a fatal accident in a hotel shower.....almost incredible as it sounds. Immediately afterwards, I stepped back into the shower, under the cold water, and stayed there for about a half hour - that probably prevented deep burns, though I was pretty sore in the areas that the shower had hit. I was also sore, due to the fall itself, all along my left hand side, including neck, shoulder, hip and thigh. I honestly thought my Marathon had run its course.

I went for a run the following morning and felt all the sore spots. I was absolutely gutted.....and my self-confidence was in trouble too! I continued to train over the next few days, but the 'bounce' was gone. Nevertheless the following Sunday, I ran in the AAI Munster Novice XC in Macroom. This was only 8 days before the Marathon and was probably the main thing that went against me in preparation. It was silly to run in this race, but I felt that, as Club Chairman, I ought to run. I didn't push it, nevertheless, coming just eight days before the Marathon, I probably would have been better off going for a training run in the morning and taking photos at the Championship race. In spite of the fall, I was probably still overconfident.

I promise to post my Marathon report over the next few days!! ......really!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cork to Cobh Race

Photo: The Last 200m - flying!

Preparation on the day could have been better. I'd allowed a good deal of time before the race (9:30am start) but hadn't anticipated that the bag drop for this 15M point-to-point race would be at the checking point, about 1.25 Miles away from the race start... and my car. So we had a walk uphill, followed by a jog back down. We got back to the car at 9:05 and went for a shorter warm-up than normal for this one. Got about 1.5 miles in. After that, I had a load of 'pfaffing about', putting Bodyglide at all the critical chafe points, smear of Vaseline to reduce sweat going into my eyes and causing problems - makes my eyes sting badly, with my contacts in. Then I had to pin a gel pack onto my shorts (there are no gel stations in this race). I finished all that with about 3 mins to go, so didn't get a chance to stretch at all.

So....The first few miles were pretty tight on the legs. I'd planned on going out at 7:10 miling, 7:00, if I felt good. The first four miles were: 6:56, 7:12, 7:10 and 7:17. Conditions were pretty foggy to start with, but that burned away around the 4 mile mark. After that I found I was loosening out and got into a rhythm, with all the remaining miles, except the 14th, coming in between 6:52 and 7:06. This course is pretty flat, with only a few 'hills' - and they're all pretty gentle drags - until 11 miles, when the race starts to get tough - and hurt! The general wisdom is that "The race begins at Belvelly Bridge", just after the 10 mile mark.

Belvelly Bridge

Just before Belvelly Bridge, I was stunned to catch up with two of my arch rivals. I had hoped that I might, on a bad day for him, catch Willie in the late stages, instead I caught him here, along with Brendan, St'Finbarr's AC, with whom my Club, Eagle AC, will be head-to-head in the M50 team race in Dublin, in just three weeks.
Unfortunately Willie was to overtake me again later.

After the impetus of passing out the large group at the Bridge, I pushed on passing people all the way, plus another big group at 12 miles. I probably overdid the effort at this tough stage but I'd probably do the same again tomorrow - If I didn't feel too sore.

I had a tough 14th mile but got going well again for the last mile, getting back to 7:00 miling and finished strongly. On top of it all, I finished as 3rd M55, getting a very nice mantle clock for my troubles!

I wore my usual cut-down pad for the race - I need not have bothered - there was only very slight 'spotting' on it after the warm-down. This scenario is becoming more regular - A good sign that I'm still progressing. Long may it continue!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Eve of the Test

With just three weeks to go, tomorrow is the big test before Dublin. I've dropped my mileage from 76 last week to 'just' 55 this week, assuming I get 19 in for tomorrow's Cork to Cobh 15M race - 2 miles warm-up and 2 miles cool-down after the race.

Yesterday was 5 miles easy, with 3 miles, very easy, with my daughter, this morning. I felt quite tired, but I find that's not unusual before a key race.

Weather forecast is looking good for tomorrow - it's quite windy and feeling cool today, with some pretty heavy showers. Tomorrow is supposed to be a lot less windy and the showers are predicted to die away overnight.

I'm planning to go out at 7:00 to 7:10 miling and try to hold that. I want to run strong throughout, without 'going to the well' - too near Dublin for that. While it's a 15 Mile race, a key point for me is the Half-Marathon mark.

I intend using my Half-marathon time as a strong guide for my pace/time in Dublin, using the 'Rule of Thumb' of double your half time, plus 10 min. (my best marathon performance was double my half + 4 mins.) 7:00 miling would give me a Half-Mar time of 91:46 and a predicted Marathon time of 3:13:33, while 7:10 comes out as 93:57 for the Half and 3:17:54 for the Marathon. We'll see! Its pretty ambitious, but you never know 'till the day.

My first Marathon was Cork 1985, in 4:10:03 and my last, and slowest, apart from the first, was 3:13:28. I'd love to better that on October 25th. This will be my 20th Marathon.

Mossie Shanahan, a member of the 'C Team - Cancer Survivors' relay team is also running tomorrow.

Don't forget my Cancer charities:

Cork ARC and the Irish Cancer Society

My fundraising pages are here:

Cork ARC
Irish Cancer Society

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dublin Marathon

My long term target has been, for the best part of a year, the Dublin City Marathon. I haven't done a Marathon for 7 years. This will only be my second in 12 years, but my 20th overall.

This one has special significance for me. I am running this as a Cancer survivor. I want - I NEED - to run this well and show others, particularly others dealing with Cancer in their own lives and their families, relatives and friends, that there is life after Cancer. I think it is also a personal milestone. Maybe I'm kidding myself. I don't think so.

My fall back target is the M55 Boston qualifying time of 3:45:59, however my stated target is 3:18:00, but depending on the day, I'm really hoping to do better than that. Sunday next, Oct. 3rd, sees the annual Cork to Cobh 15 Mile. I'll use this to assess my final Marathon pace. I'm hoping to average around 7:00 for the 15 miles, giving 1:45. Last years time was 1:53, with 2:04 the year before, just 4 months post surgery. My best for the course is 1:28:28, set in 1990.

I feature in last year's race report, in the photo with the clock at 1:52:59.

I'm running for two charities in the Marathon:

Cork ARC and the Irish Cancer Society

My fundraising pages are here:

Cork ARC
Irish Cancer Society

Please help!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

June/July Aug

I've deleted the previous 'holding post', so I'll try to do a short update here.

Following the Cork City Marathon Relay, I headed off for warm weather training - in other words a holiday/vacation - in Lagos, Algarve, Portugal for two weeks. Lagos is a lovely little town about 50km west of Faro and we've gone there for a summer break about 10 out of the last 15 years.

Praca Do Infante
The building in the foreground, on the right, housed Europe's first slave market

Promenade on the Avenida dos Descobrimentos, with the Ribera de Bensafrim and Lagos port.

Dona Ana Beach

View from Dona Ana Beach

I just 'ticked over'while I was here, going for a 5 mile run every morning, so 35 for the week, instead of my normal 55 - 60 miles. This was just R&R and dossing. I would have liked to get a race in while I was here but there weren't any in the immediate locality while we were there.

Shanagarry 5

Back home again and back to races. Thursday June 24th saw the second in the Ballycotton 5 summer series, the Shanagarry 5. I went out way too fast - at 2.5 miles, I was only about 30 secs down on one of my former arch rivals. Until now, I hadn't been able to get within 2 - 3 minutes of him. I paid for the early effort and came home in 33:49, about 1.5 mins faster than last year.

Corkbeg 5
Next up was the Corkbeg 5 in Whitegate, Co. Cork. The evening turned out very, very wet and a bit windy. The gear was soaking and, of course my pad was saturated, so everything weighed a ton. Despite a very strong run, I finished in 34:22 - I'd hoped to go sub 33. Anyway, this was the wettest weather I'd run in since resuming after the surgery. I learnt a lesson - there's no point whatsoever in wearing a pad in a downpour!

Donoughmore 7
Later in July came the Donoughmore 7, a tough run. The first two miles is undulating, followed by 3 lovely downslope miles. There is a sting in the tail! The last two miles are uphill and I normally 'fresh air' in the last 150m - the legs move. but I seem to be rooted to the spot! I went out steadily and let several of my peers make ground ahead. Several really went for it early on, but I let them go. I started working once we hit the 3 mile down section on the main road and started picking bodies off. The strategy really paid off in the last two miles, where I picked off most of my peers, except for two who still elude me to this day. Nevertheless, I picked off 27 of the 257 finishers, coming home in 70th place in 49:46.

Churchtown South 5
Next up was the third race in the Ballycotton 5 Summer Series, the Churchtown South 5. Of all 4 races in the series, this is the one I like least. About 300m after the start, the road narrows, with a green line down the middle, i.e. grass. Its a two lap course, with a deceptive climb in the middle. For most of this climb, you don't realise that you're going up, but you do need to work hard.

I was well outside the top 50 for the series and needed both to run very well (Prior to the first race, I figured that I needed to run 32:30 for each race, to stand any chance. So far, I'd lost over a minute on that target in both races). I finished in 138th place, 33:42. I found it tough but fell well short of what I'd been (optimistically) hoping for.

Incontinence Status - 28 months on
How bad are things??!! I'm now (Sept 30th) 28 months after major surgery and I'm beating myself up because I'm not performing at the very highest levels! I think it just shows how far I've come. Prior to surgery, I was prepared to accept that I might not ever run again (primarily due to severe incontinence). Now I am running very well indeed - I've been told several times "People are talking about you!", meaning that I'm running pretty damn well and making people sit up!. I still have slight leakage when I run - I have been fully continent (no pads whatsoever) since July 2008, 4 weeks post cathether removal, but I do have slight leakage when I run. This is normally of the order of a teaspoonfull or two, but can, occasionally, be heavier at about a few tablespoonfulls. Mostly its quite light. I certainly wouldn't call it incontenence, except maybe the heavier ones (happens about every 3 to 4 weeks). As I said, its mostly pretty light. I can see a time in the next 6 to 12 months, if even that far away, where I will not have to wear a pad while running. As time progresses, I notice the "spotting" is more noticeable, i.e. I'm rarely talking about volume any more. Recently, I forgot to wear my cut-down pad while on a 20 mile marathon training run and the leakage was minimal - spotting. Of course, incidents like this are great for self-confidence and this is a self-fulfilling matter.


August is usually a quiet month on the Cork racing scene. I was also ramping up my mileage in preparation for the Dublin Marathon on Oct 25th. Througout the year, I'd been hitting the 50 to low 60's per week, now I was upping to the high 60s/low 70s, as a consequence, racing, particularly the shorter ones, was taking a back seat. Nevertheless I planned to run two races: the Novartis 5k and the final race of the Ballycotton series: Ballycotton 5.

Novartis 5k

I like the Novartis 5k. Its a tough hilly course. The only bit I don't particularly like is the third mile, which is mostly downhill - the sprinters tear away and the 'speed challenged' (like me) struggle to keep up. There is a sting in the tail here though and the final 400m is uphill. I went out fairly strongly, but many left me for dead - the first 400m are slightly downslope, making for a fast start. The second mile is a long full hill/drag. I love it and make plenty of ground here...before the downhill section. Still, I made up about 30 places over the last 400m, finishing in 100th place, 20:42.

Ballycotton 5
The last of the series. I was 79th overall going into this. I had two chances of making it - None...and the other one! Conditions were dry but windy. I went out hard, hoping to hold the pace. This is another tough course - all the Ballycotton races are! The first mile is largely down, with a few bumps on the way. The second mile is more or less flat, but is still tough. It gets interesting after that. The third mile starts out flat, then rises...and rises...and rises. Then, just 100m before the 3 mile mark, it really kicks up. Incidentally, on this section, I passed a peer/rival, and he proceeded to tell me about the good results (clear) he'd got from a recent biopsy. All I could do is grunt .... and press on. The fourth mile is a fast on, largely downhill and the last mile is hard - mostly uphill.

Having gone out hard, I held the effort throughout. I never checked my watch throughout and really felt that I was definitely running at around 32 min pace. I finished strong, but holding on nevertheless. I was absolutely delighted with the effort throughout, but disappointed to clock 33:39, in 147th place. Nevertheless I had several peers in my wake, particularly some that I hadn't beaten since the op.

In the final standings, over the four races of the series, I finished in 68th place, well outside the top 50. Competition for the coveted Top 50 T-shirts is getting stronger....and I must face up to the fact that age isn't on my side. still,
I'll give it another try next year, God willing!
Sep 29th 2010 Hmmm....So much for a day or two (rolling eyes!) its the best part of a month since I promised, on Sept 11th, to post an update on the C Team - Cancer Survivors relay run in the Cork City Marathon on June 1st.

This was the second year that we organised a team of Cancer Survivors to run in the relay event of the cork City Marathon.

In 2009, we had 6 runners for the 5 legs, doubling up on the last leg, and finished in 4:01:27.

This year, we had 6 again, and had a woman on the team. It was disappointing not to have any last year. So this year we had: Marianne Murphy (Endometrial Cancer), John Quigley (Prostate Cancer - surgery), Brian Kenneally (Testicular Cancer), Ned O'Brien (Glandular Cancer), Mossie Shanahan (Skin Cancer) and Joe Dineen (Prostate Cancer - Radiation)

Joe Dineen, John Quigley and Mossie Shanahan pictured close to the Start/Finish point in Patrick St. Cork, at the launch of the Cork City Marathon Relay. The €3,000,000 figure in balloons was the Irish Cancer Society's fundraising target figure for the event.

We met on the night before the race to sort out the logistics of meeting, handover, etc, and, most importantly, so that everyone would meet. This was the first time that several of us had met face-to-face. Very important is you're handing over to another relay runner! Ned wasn't able to make the Sunday night as he was travelling on the morning of the race. He had never met any of the others, except for me.

Forecast for the day wasn't good, with rain and wind predicted in a narrow band. The hope was that it would hit during the night, or hold off until afterwards. We wouldn't be so lucky, the rain hit before the start, but wasn't too bad. However, as the morning progressed, it simply worsened, with the worst hitting when we were going along the Mahon/Lakelands Walkway, the most open part of the course.

We met up, at the City Hall, for a pre-race photo shoot:

The Original Golden Eagles Relay Team

John Quigley, Dave Muldowney, Gary Relihan, Conor O'Brien and Aoife Quigley, along with Gary's daughter. Note: The bands on my right hand are our relay 'batons' - I have two; one for each of the two teams I was running on; C Team - Cancer Survivors and The Original Golden Eagles.

C Team - Cancer Survivors
John Quigley, Joe Dineen, Ned O'Brien, Marianne Murphy and Mossie Shanahan. Missing was Brian Kenneally - he had to rush off for the bus to his relay changeover point.
The red technical t-shirts were kindly sponsored by Maher Sports.

C Team - Cancer Survivors team members with Rose O'Dea of the Irish Cancer Society.
John Quigley, Joe Dineen, Rose O'Dea (Irish Cancer Society), and Ned O'Brien.

Leg 1
Marianne had originally hoped to run in the event, but persistent shin splints put paid to that, so she walked the first leg as our official number carrier. I ran the first leg, unofficially, for C Team - Cancer Survivors and also, officially, for Golden Eagles, so while we were bending the rules a little, to ensure that Marianne was our official runner, we still had fully continuity and handover from start to finish.

Marianne & I set off, in very wet weather, from Patrick St. and, while Marianne was walking, I set off 'hammer and tongs'. I quickly went ahead of the 3 hour pacing group and had high hopes of hitting my personal target of 35:00 for the 5.5 mile leg. By the time we'd hit the Quays, at about 3.25 miles, the easterly wind had risen....and the 3 hour pacing group was closing behind me. They passed me just before the 4 mile mark and I hung on for dear life - just 1.5 miles to go!

I got a second wind and inspiration after that and gave chase, passing the 5 mile mark in 33:51 and caught the group, just before the relay changeover point, and handed over the C Team baton to Brian.

I wasn't so lucky with the Original Golden Eagles team - we'd hoped to finish in around 2:51. There was no sign of my handover, Gary. I went right through the relay changeover point, but no sign of him. Having spent about 7 minutes looking for him, I decided to go on to the next changeover (We never figured out afterwards what happened - he was there but, despite all my shouting, we never met up - plans, plans & disasters)

I had planned to accompany Brian on his leg - he was hoping to go at about 7.5 min miling - but he had too much of a lead for me to catch him over the 5 mile leg. Anyway I ploughed on as best I could, trying to make up time for the Golden Eagles team (but knowing that we were going to lose about 10-15 minutes on our target handover for the second leg)

Meantime Brian handed over to Ned for the 6.25 mile third leg. At this point, the wind was up and the rain was at it's worst.

Ned O'Brien (C4205), about 0.5 miles into the third leg, with Blackrock castle in the background. All the runners behind Ned appear, from their different coloured numbers, to be marathon runners.

On the Golden Eagles team, I handed over to a frozen Dave Muldowney in about 81 - we'd hoped to handover this leg at about 67-68 minutes. I quickly met up with Brian and, rather than waiting for a bus (the relay courtesy buses were running late) we decided to run back along the marathon route to the city centre.

Brian Kenneally and John Quigley 'warming down' on the third relay leg, by Blackrock Castle.

Up ahead, Ned ran a very strong leg, handing over to Mossie Shanahan for the hilly 5.25 mile fourth leg. Mossie, in turn, handed over to Joe Dineen, for the fifth, and final, 4.25 mile leg. While Ned accompanied Mossie for his leg, both Ned and Mossie ran with Joe to the finish. So for the day, both Ned and John ran about 17 miles for the day, Brian did about 12, Mossie 10 and Joe & Marianne covered 4.25 and 5 miles respectively.

Meantime, after changing into dry gear, Brian & I headed for the 26 mile mark and waited for the others came in. When they arrived, we all ran into the finish, coming home in 3:27:51, a full 34 minutes faster than C Team - cancer Survivor's 2009 time!

Ned O'Brien, Joe Dineen and Mossie Shanahan approaching the 26 mile mark.

C Team - Cancer Survivors coming in to the finish together ( the guy in the middle is a member of another team).

C Team - Cancer Survivors after the finish
Brian Kenneally, Ned O'Brien, Joe Dineen and John Quigley (Mossie Shanahan and Marianne Murphy both missing)

As one of the team said afterwards "It was great to come in to the finish together. It was just brilliant! Better than any medication or drugs!"

One of the prime aims of C Team - Cancer Survivors is to inspire people not only other Cancer Survivors but also others who may be affected by Cancer, e.g. family and friends and also the medical people who look after us. As someone said about C Team - Cancer Survivors recently: "You're world class!"

If you'd like to run with C Team - Cancer Survivors in the June 2011 event, please get in touch.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cork Half-Marathon, Blarney Sept 12th

Well today's race went very well. I'd planned to start out at Marathon Pace (I hadn't yet decided at what pace I'd run the Marathon at, but I figured that it'd be between 7:10 and 7:25) and then to 'lash it from the far side of the hill, i.e. from about 8 miles or so.

The course, along with the altitude profile can be seen HERE The altitude profile is on the bottom right. You can see that the course heads steadily upwards all the way friom the start to a little over halfway, but really kicks upwards after 4.5 miles to 6.5 miles.

As I said in previous posts, I leak slightly when running, and normally wear jockey type underwear under my shorts. This is mainly to keep a cut down incontinence pad in place. I've found that this is fine for short races, but, for longer runs/races, can cause a bit of chafing (due to fabric/elastic pressure in the upper thigh/groin region). I'd decided to forego the jocks today and just ran in regular running shorts with a cut down pad. I had no issues whatsoever during the race and felt that I had little of no leakage. Later I found that leakage was minimal - guessing about a tablespoonful or so - and most probably happened after the finish. We also went for a 3 mile warm-down afterwards to loosen up. i said in yesterdays's post that I reckon that, in the foreseeable future, I'll be completely dispensing with need for wearing the pad while running.

The race itself attracted some 600+ runners and was run in warmish conditions. It wasn't too hot - about 16-18C - but it was somewhat humid. I intended respecting the hill and set out to run at about 7:10 pace. [I should say that, in the previous week, I'd run 20 miles last Sunday, ran 4 miles easy on Monday, did 6 x 800m on the track on Tuesday, with 3 x 1M on Thursday, with 9.6M on Wed, Fri and Sat - in otherwords, I ran 68 miles last week, with two hard speed sessions AND no Taper! Not your ideal pre-Half Mar training, but that was the plan - This wasn't a key race for me - Cork to Cobh 15m, in 3 weeks, definitely is.]

The first mile was 7:07 and I was a little concerned at the very slightly fast pace, considering the humid conditions, and decided to cut back a little. The next three miles were: 7:29, 7:27, 7:24, with the 5th mile slightly slower again, 7:34, bringing me thro the 5 mile mark in 37:02.

The 6th mile is, by far, the toughest and the pace dropped considerably, to 8:06. Nevertheless only two people passed me in this mile - I passed loads - and both of them were caught on the downhill stretch after the village of Grenagh.

There is a steep section, out of Grenagh,lasting about a half a mile, or so. This is a fine section for hill runners, but I'd planned to take it comfortably, just stretching out the legs, and so it was.

This mile, which included the last of the uphill section, came in at 7:18 (52:26 for 7M). I'd planned to 'take it out' from the bottom of the hill, and started to work hard. I also started to count 'net place' from there, in other words, if I passed someone, the count was +1, with a -1 if someone passed me. By the finish, the count was +34, with no passes - Nobody managed to overtake me in the final 6.11 miles!!

From the 7 mile mark, I rattle off very steadily, 6:47, 6:55, 6:53, 6:56, 6:57, 6:52, with the final 0.11M taking 40 secs. I normally don't look at my watch during a race, except to get a feel for the starting pace, so I had no idea what pace I was going at. Frankly, I had expected to be passing more people, so I figured I'd come in around 1:37 and was very pleasantly surprised to see the clock at 1:33:59 - unfortunately the clock was about 80m from the finish line.

The official results aren't out yet, but I made it 1:34:14, just 45 secs slower than I ran in the same race in Sept 2006, some 5 months after my initial 4.3ng/l PSA result.

Overall I am absolutely delighted with today's result. All I wan't now is for my current PSA test result to come back as <0.02ng/l. I had the test done two weeks ago last Friday and am still waiting. Results are normally available between 5 and 10 working days after the, but this isn't the first time they've been this late. I don't mind the wait, as long as they're good!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 2010

Tomorrow I'm running in the Cork Half Marathon, in Blarney Co Cork. All going well, I hope to run somewhere in the region of 1:34 - 1:40. I'm not racing this one all out - I hate this particular course and intend going at Marathon pace for the first 8 miles and then, if I feel like it, giving the last 5.11 miles a "bit of a lash".

I'm entered for the Dublin City Marathon, on October 25th, and hope to run 3:18 or better. With that sort of time, I may be in with a shout for a Masters category medal in the Irish National Marathon Championship, which is being held as part of the event. My club, Eagle AC also has a Masters M50 team in the event: myself and two other 'auld fellas'. Training has been going well and I've three 20 mile runs under my belt and am consistently around the 60/65 miles a week mark.

I'll be running for Cork ARC and the Irish Cancer Society, but must set up my charity donation pages (get the finger out man!).

The training hasn't been causing me too much bother, I should really say the 'leakage' hasn't caused me too much bother. The marathon will be a different matter, but we'll see. Come what may, it will be an education.

This will be my 20th marathon, my first in 7 years and my second in 12 years. In many ways I feel like a Marathon Novice again, but I still have the confidence that I can go the distance at a fairly fast pace, i.e. 7:10 to 7:20 per mile average. I just hope I'm not being too ambitious. I'll probably set my final pace after the Cork to Cobh 15 Mile race, in three weeks time.

One thing I've found, over the past month or two, is that my 'leakage is gradually lessening and it's now conceiveable that I may soon become fully continent, i.e. nil leakage, when running. I have been fully continent at all other times since shortly after the operation (about 6 weeks afterwards), so this will be the icing on the cake. Either way, I certainly can live with the current position - well I have been running with it since resuming running in August 2008.

With all the mileage and long runs, I have to ensure that I'm fully hydrated at all times. That hasn't given rise to any problems, but I generally don't drink heavily within 3 or 4 hours of a run/race, prefering to ensure that I 'top up' well at all other times.

C Team - Cancer Survivors -- Cork City Marathon Relay June 7th 2010

Gone to the dogs again! More than 3 months since the Marathon Relay and not a peep out of me on the blog! As a colleague said I "need a good boot up the h#*e!"

I'm going to park the Relay report here for a day or two (I promise no more than that - really!)

Suffice to say that we had a great relay effort and came home in 119th place from 1152 teams, in 3:27:51. I have quite a few photos from the day and a wonderful comment from one of the team members that I'd like to share with you all.

So..I promise to update in a day or two.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


My God, it's been a long, long time since I updated the blog. My original intention of keeping a detailed diary leading up to and after my surgery. I did that to my own satisfaction. The second intention was to detail my recovery. Initially that was only half-hearted, however, in moving on, I failed dismally to keep posting.

In all probability anyone checking out the Blog would feel justified in concluding that I've not been doing so well. Nothing could be further from the truth - I'm absolutely flying it!

My next target is the relay in the Cork City Marathon on Monday June 7th, where I'll be running both for my Club, Eagle AC and also for C Team - Cancer Survivors, doing three legs (16.7 miles) in all. My ultimate target for 2010 is to run the Dublin City Marathon on October 25th. Target time is 3:18 or better, with the real target being the 2011 Boston Marathon M55 qualifying time of 3:45.

Summary: With respect to Prostate Cancer, I had my surgery, an open Radical Prostatectomy, on May 22nd 2008, just over two years ago. I am, to all intents and purposes, fully recovered. My PSA has been monitored regularly since and has remained at <0.02 ng/l. In other words undetectable. I have been fully continent since June/July 2008, some 6 weeks after the operation and have not worn a pad by day or night since then.

I do wear a small, cut down, pad when running, mainly to protect my running gear, prevent chafing and for peace of mind. Sometimes I just 'spot' it. Occassionally, it can be quite damp. Generally it's in between, but it's steadily improving. I reckon that there will come a day when I'll have the confidence to go without. On the other regular side effect of surgery, things are improving all the time and I've a smile on my face. That's all I'm going to say on that matter - it's for discussion with my wife and my surgeon only - period!

I've been doing a few things that seem to be improving the slight leak while running: Clearly the running, general fitness and well being helps enormously. My surgeon has never recommended kegels, so I've never done them - well I tried a (very) few times early on, but, as progress was excellent, I stopped doing them. What my surgeon recommends, to this day, is stopping and starting your stream. I do that and i'm not going to stop doing it. It worked for me.

One thing that I've started doing in the past six weeks or so is using a Foam Roller and this has strengthened my midriff/abdomen/lower back. I reckon it's having an effect, but I still have a way to go.

To conclude the health aspects, I don't think I could be doing much better. Thank God for this. Starting out on the PC rollercoaster, I had been prepared to be unable to run again, to be fully incontinent and to have full ED. None of those situations has occurred and I thank my surgeon, care and God for that.

My running is coming on leaps and bounds. It's been a slow process, but now (touch wood) it's progressing like an express train. I've been doing around the 60 mpw mark for the past 6 months. I reckon I haven't missed a day since October last and I've started getting in the prizes (M55, mind you, but 'How bad?) and my peers have started to take notice.

I'll probably go back and summarise my running recovery over the past two years in a few later posts. For the moment, I'll just outline the past two months.

I suppose I may as well start in April 2010:

April 2010
Earlier this year I started measuring the Cork City Marathon course and later volunteered to measure the inaugural Great Island 10, in Great Island, aka, Cobh (pronounced cove), Co. Cork. This race was to be held in aid of the Irish Cancer Society, with all proceeds going to the Society, so I couldn't pass it up. So it was that in early April, I found myself on Sunday morning measuring the remaining part of the Marathon and then heading off to Cobh. Tough morning, doing two courses. It took 7 hours in all, from home to home.

Race day was on Sunday April 16th and off we set over the hilly 10 mile course. Obviously I knew the course from the measuring, but I'd measured from finish back to the start ..and it's totally different when you're running, as opposed to being on the bike. Anyway i was prepared for the fast downhill sections over the first two miles, before we encountered the severe hills. Eagle clubmate Paul Cotter was my target. We had had many fine battles on the road before my PC reared it's head and even a few before the surgery. Since the surgery, the only times I'd beaten Paul was when he was 'taking it easy'. I reckoned that today was my day though. With two miles gone, I got occassional glimpses of Paul in the distance, about 250m ahead. The next two miles, from 2 to 4 were the severest section, so I bided my time.

Once we got over the second severe hill, with several more lesser ones to come, I started working and every time I caught a glimpse of Paul, the distance between us was less. Finally on a long straight section, with a steady upslope, from 6 to 7.5 miles, I had him firmly in my sights, catching up close to the top of the last major downhill section. I still held back, not letting him know I was there, knowing that he'd stride off down the hill. Sure enough that's what happened and was about 15 metres ahead at the bottom. The 8 mile mark was 300m up the road and I saw a mutual colleague there calling out times. Dreading the "C'mon John!" call, giving away my presence to Paul, I decided to move up on his shoulder before then. The call came "Well done John! Good running!" Usually that's 'like a red rag to a bull' and Paul takes off. This time I decided to boot the boot down and pressed on. Paul kept pace for the next half mile, all the while we were increasing the pace.

Finally, I heard his breathing lessen and drift back. 1.5 miles to go and a tough section. It was now a matter of getting as close to 70 as possible. I'd done 72:25 in Mallow back in February. Finally up the last slope and on to the finish in 71:06, with Paul 24 seconds behind. I finsihed as 6th M50 (there was no M55 category) but this was great: tough course, good time and my colleague and arch-rival beaten.