Howth Mountain Run

Just came across Rene Borg’s account of yesterday’s run in Howth – a much more entertaining write-up than mine!

Rene very kindly helped me get my race number off my shirt at the finish since I was fumbling about at it uselessly 🙂

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Mountain Running in Howth

Today I went along to my first race organised by the Irish Mountain Running Association and had a ball.

I had bought a pair of Inov-8 Mudroc in Amphibian King back in October before the marathon and had only gone for a few trial runs up on the Ben of Howth in the last month. So, I was delighted when I saw that IMRA’s first run of the year was to be in Howth, on pretty much the same circuit that I was doing laps of.

(Picture from Inov-8 website – mine are far to mucky now!)

Verdict on the Mudroc – great grip on the muddy bits, seemed to drain water pretty quickly … thumbs up except that they cut the heals off me!

It was an 8.5k race, involving two laps of the course. I was a little worried about whether I’d be able to hold my own at all since looking at past times for the course, it seemed like most people ran it faster than I might hope to. Also, I knew that there was one really steep bit on the course that I knew I had to burst my lungs to run up each time I tried.

As soon as the race got started, though, I realized that the pace of the middle pack wasn’t too bad at all and I could well hold my own. And when we got to the steep bit early on in the first lap, I was very relieved to see everybody ahead of me walking up it. So I took the sensible option and walked up it for the first time …

The results have just been posted and I see that I finished in 47:47, which isn’t too bad, especially since it’s only 135% of the winner’s time.

Anyway, a great event, even if I was caked in mud by the end of it. Thoroughly well organised with them coping very well with 150 people wanting to register. Quite a few brave souls out in the cold, wind and rain marshalling us around the course. And, finally, a great bunch of people who don’t seem to take themselves too seriously at all, at all.

Looking forward to the Three Rock race on February 3rd!

Mountain Skills Course

Last weekend Catherine and I went and did Bren Whelan’s Mountain Skills 1 course in the bitterly cold Wicklow mountains. I was pleasantly suprised at the amount we covered over the two days and am much happier with my navigation skills now.

Concentrating Hard

The first day we covered different types of maps and their features, how to intepret contours, hand-railing (i.e. how to use a feature to guide you), different types of slopes, gear, mountain rescue, etc. etc. Aaron Byrne of Mountain Ventures Hostel and Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue was our instructor for the day.

The second day we went up Trooperstown Hill and moved onto a gradual, but detailed, introduction to navigating with a compass, pacing excercises, recovering from errors and “aiming off”. Bren was our instructor and I really liked the way he eased us into the skills, introduced concepts gradually and then did lots of useful excercises to drill them into us.

Both days we were joined by Ian, a trainee instructor, who very quietly added some useful tips and helped keep the atmosphere relaxed and cheerful.

There was six in our group, which was a perfect group size. It was nice that we had a mixture of experience and interests, but at the same time we were all at a similar level so no-one felt left behind or bored.

The Group

Some of the most useful stuff we picked over the weekend was from seemingly random chats between the “real” stuff, but I guess that was all part of the plan, really.

I’d definitely recommend these courses to anybody who likes to spend time in the mountains. They’re extremely well thought out, professional, good accompanying material etc. At the end of the course you’ll feel a lot more confident about what you’d do if something went wrong.

We stayed two nights in Lough Dan House, not far from Laragh, well up in the wild mountains between Scarr and Lough Dan (O 147 032). Sean and Theresa we great hosts and we spent hours chatting with them on Friday night in front of a roaring fire over a bottle of wine. The room was really top notch – newly decorated, big, bright, airy and cheerful – with an en-suite. Plenty of choice for breakfast, with everything from porridge to “full irish” to kippers on the menu. I reckon we’ll be back there as we start heading to Wicklow more often.

Marathon Recovery

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here, but I thought I’d write down a few thoughts on what it was like getting back to full fitness after the Dublin Marathon last October. Maybe it might be of help to some first-timer in the future. Or maybe it might just serve as a reminder to myself what I’m getting myself in for if I do another one 🙂

  • Immediately after the marathon, I had a big bowl of pasta, plenty of fluids, got home, wrapped myself up in a duvet and fell asleep on the couch. Probably not the best idea, in terms of aiding recovery, but I didn’t feel like doing much else at the time.
  • That night, and the next day, my legs and hips were in a right auld state. Getting up and down the stairs was an ordeal, but less so if I went down backwards.
  • Suprisingly enough, the soreness and stiffness healed quite rapidly. A couple of days later, I was pretty happy going for a half-hour walk, apart for the odd wince from the pains in my hips.
  • Everything I had read before the race had said it would take three, four or even five weeks to fully recover.
  • Once the aches and pains started subsiding, I was sure I’d be 100% again after another week. That wasn’t to be, and the lingering problems were fairly subtle.
  • After about ten days or so, I went to the gym for the first time feeling great and started lashing into a weights session. Only ten minutes into it, though, and my energy had completely disappeared. That was to be a theme over the next few weeks … a complete lack of energy reserves.
  • It probably took five weeks before I did my first really solid hour of cardio work in the gym.
  • I tried my first run a couple of weeks after the race and went out with very low expectations. I even cycled to the seafront, rather than starting from the house. The first few hundred metres were complete agony with the bones in my feet screaming “no!” at me, and then after only a couple of km shin splints set in and I just gave up and strolled back to my bike.
  • A good four weeks after the marathon, I went to donate blood and was turned away for being a bit anemic, which never happened before. After that, I started taking some good multi-vitamins and that seemed to help sort me out.

Enough moaning. It wasn’t all that bad, really, but interesting to see just how much time it took.

Next time? I think I’d take the recovery aspect a bit more seriously, do research beforehand on and come up with a plan for immediately after, and for the weeks after. I’d imagine the slow recovery was largely down to me being totally naive about it and refusing to really put any effort into helping the process along.