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.