DIARY: Tests and Heavy Decisions

Final Test - Kilmashogue
I have already found a route leading from the city directly to Ticknock, and for a while now I've been wanting to do the same for two other Dublin mountains: Tibradden and Kilmashogue.

I had a good look at www.dto.ie and used the walking planner to gauge the distance from Rathgar to Kilmashogue Lane. At 6.36km, so almost 13km if you calculate in the return trip, I found it an acceptable distance, as I only wanted to rush up the mountain and back again. I expected a trip of some 18km or so.

How to Test a Mountain Injury?
Testing this injury has been hard as it has reached a stage of healing where its almost impossible for me to put the knee under the same amount of stress as that experienced when you are a bombarding down a hillside.

So it was critical that I found a "real" mountain side, with a descent grade steep enough to hit the injured area at a "bad" angle. Only then can I know for sure if I can start going full speed or even approximate full speed on the way down.

Secondly, its important to put you joints under an amount of stress that simulates race conditions. By planning a long run like this, I could be assured that my knee would take enough of a beating to reveal any lingering weaknesses in it. (in fact, my physio recommends doing most of his exercises after test runs, as this gives a better picture of the state of your injury. The solidity you experience when you joints are not tired is deceptive).

Getting my knee stressed was not difficult as most of the route consisted of road running, a sport also known as "pavement pounding", one of many unnatural human activities (how I wish I lived next to a mountain, like most Norwegians, where house doors cannot be fully opened for mountain side).

The route itself was enjoyable enough, I took the road out through Terenure Road East to Rathfarnham Road, over Whitechurch Road, and finally on to Kilmashogue Lane in the Southern Round-about at College Road. Unfortunately, I headed straight up through the carpark, and never reach the top as I was blocked off by Coillte works.

Had I continued straight down Kilmashogue Lane I should have been able to have a go at the summit. As it was I found some decent ascents and descents though, and reached an altitude of 291m (Kilmashogue lies at 408m).

After that it was a looong downhill run (as soon on the route graph above) for many kilometres where I could really hit some speed, and I only felt slight niggles in the meniscus. My 12th, 13th, and 14th kilometer were all ran sub-4:30/km at this stage and the first true sign of recovery was recorded :)
After a little more than 16km gone, my fuel tanks ran empty, inevitably, and it was all pain and drag from there to home. As I arrived (just in time to greet my Danish guests for the EC-qualifier I was hosting), I had put a fine 20.82km behind me, with a 374m of ascent.
The Aftermath - Decisions on Carrauntoohil
I felt good in the hours immediately after. The lingering laziness that has been plaguing me (physically at least) for a week was well and truly beaten out of me.
Emma Watts of the PeakCentre explained to me that as a mammal whose focus would have been on energy preservation whenever possible, any stop in activity will inadvertently increase the desire to stay dormant, thus lazy. And they say science doesn't have the answer to everything...

I woke up at 4:45 in the morning, so I still had time enough to rendezvous with Barry, and tested the knee. Sadly, it was clear that while much improved, the exertion of yesterday's race leaves it slightly numb, sore, and stiffer than usual.
Saying no to a race I've been waiting for so long was not easy, but I eventually texted Barry, so he knew not to expect me. The season has to be salvaged and there's still Snowdon to look forward to, so hopefully I'll be back in full force on Wednesday, even if it means a rematch with my least favourite route: Howth.