The days immediately following a hard race are usually difficult to manage. I’m used to that. Normally my legs are shot and, no matter what I might want to do, I just can’t run for a few days. Aside from anything else this provides some sort of a natural break-point in my training. I usually have no choice but to pause and to re-assess. This time it has been a little different. Partly because of the kind surface on which the Portumna 50km was run last Saturday and partly because I didn’t run hard enough, my legs have been more or less fine since the race. I’d also like to believe that I’ve recovered well because I’ve done a certain amout of weight training since the start of the year, and so in theory at least I should be stronger from the waist down than in previous years. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how big a factor the weights have been because I haven’t been as dilligent with the lifting programme as I think I need to be for it to make a big difference. On the evening after the 50km I was able to play football with my kids and although common sense told me not to train on Sunday I got back into it on Monday – gently with a slow seven-miler. By Tuesday lunchtime I felt more or less recoverred and I decided then that I’d have a go at a local track 5,000m last night (Thursday) the Co. Galway Track and Field Champs. My track pb for 5,000m is 17:08 and I had half a notion that I might go under 17:00 as I think I’m reasonably fit. The big unknown was how my legs would feel when I tried to run quickly. The answer turned out to be – not great, but not too bad either. I ran a steady race, managing to get ahead of one or two local rivals, to finish in 17:13. Not a bad effort I suppose and it was good enough to take the masters gold medal to boot!
It was a beautiful evening at the track and anyone who might have been shy or intimidated by the thought of taking part was put at their ease by the friendly atmosphere and encouragement of the organisers. Great credit has to go to Paul McNamara of the AAI for organising the championships. There was a beautiful mix of fast young athletes, masters, good club-runners and absolute beginners. It was a pleasure to be there. It’s on nights like this that we make our memories to keep us going through the cold winter months of slogging around cold wet roads. It was also a night to get out of your comfort zone and experiment a little. It was in that spirit that I made a compete eejit of myself by finishing stone last in the 400m – but I hope I did it with a smile. I think I gave one or two others a laugh too, judging to their startled reaction to my ‘expert’ use of starting blocks. I tried in vain to explain that starting-blocks are not much used in ultramarathons, but I don’t think anyone was really listening.
All I need to do now is get my head straight for the next big effort. last night at the track was a valuable part of the process. Of course the first thing I have to decide upon is what race to aim for. It’s only when I do that that I’ll get some proper focus and hopefully recover some of the enthusiasm I feel I’ve lost since Portumna. I’m in a bit of a dip, but hopefully I can climb out soon.
Onwards thriugh the fog.