TRAINING: Return to the Wicklow Way Trail

I had a good day out today, teaming up with Conor Murray (or as he would say: "Rene, the 11th in the Leinster Championship"), and Brendan Craig, to take a trip down memory pain...I mean the Wicklow Way Trail 22k route.

I was hoping for a good slow run, somewhere between 2 and 3 hours to get the final body adjustments ready so my body will burn well and efficiently during the 3 hours and 30 minutes I hope to do the marathon in.

The Master Plan
We did it the easy way, meeting up at Johnnie Foxes. I kept everyone waiting, though, as my GPS is useless without an address, and bugger me if I had the wits to get the address before racing off. That and the fact that I had to feed my new grey monster-baby with endless amounts of Diesel and Oil, we didn't set off from Johnnie Foxes before around 11:00 o'clock, leaving my jeep behind.

The drive to Lough Tay (the Guiness Lake) takes only about 30 minutes, and as we drove down Conor and I told the tall tales of to poor Brendan about all our pains and adventures back in April when we did the route the first time round.

Brendan decided to run light, stashing his two gels in my backpack, while I took 1.5l of water and three gels with me, as well as windproof in the sidepocket of my small North Face running rucksack.

Conor on the other hand, uncharacteristically, brought music along, among them smash hits such as "The Winner Takes it All", "Up up that hill", and other inspiring classics, and as we trodded up the narrow track to the official start in the forest bed, he left us with: "Don't wait up, just go ahead at your own pace."

Brendan's Voyage
Brendan seemed excited enough about trying out this route which would take him straight back home to Glencullen (what better motivation than running home!), and set off at a brisk pace up the wooden walkways erected en-route to Djouce.

The two of us were alone quite quickly, apart from the surprising amount of hikers we ran into during the day. Our pace continued well as we turned North at the foot of Djouce, circumventing the giant brown-green beast, and enjoying the ultra-fast grassy descent towards the spectacular view over Powerscourt Waterfall (which I incidentally missed during this year's race).

Memory Lane
We settled in a good rhythm, and as memories came flooding back, I had to once again pester Brendan with endless anecdotes: "Here I was fighting it out with Justin and Berndt", "This is where I bonked for three kilometres", "here I had to rush through the gates to keep Aoife behind me", and the stories go on.

It was remarkable how much of this race, I remembered, which is maybe not so surprising. When I crossed the finish line back then, new to everything as I was, it was the most painful exertion I had gone through, with more ups and downs than your average soap-relationship.

Running over the different passages again just reminds me how great this course is: The first long climb towards Djouce, the quick grassy ascent, the comforting shadow of the forests, the devastating passages of raw tarmac, the relentless climb towards the final hill, and the deceptive ever-winding corners towards Johnnie Foxes.

The Red Runner
With my trademark Denmark t-shirt, I've been told I make an easy target, you must just look for the red dot, and go for that (should you be in that part of the field!). Today saw a bit too much red, though.

I welcomed the mild breeze and light overcast as it has left me with only fashionably reddened skin, but as I and Brendan took at quick pitstop to relieve ourselves of the huge amounts of fluid drunken, I got quite the scare!

To put it in layman's terms: I was pissing blood, and we're not talking light pinky red here, but dark as Bordeaux! "This ain't right", I exclamed in surprise (God knows what Brendan was thinking!), and felt a slight tingle of panic.

I felt fine, though, so decided it had to be some freakish incident, or just an after-effect of the three pints I had at Aoife's birthday yesterday, and pushed on.

The Perfect Finish
A little less than 2 hours and 17 minutes after we started, Brendan and I ground to a halt outside Johnnie Foxes and made way to my jeep to get washed up and "re-civilised". This was only 4 minutes slower than my race pace back in April, and I wasn't feeling too bad.

Brendan had to rush off to meet his brother, so I was left waiting for Conor alone. After gorging myself with the Yazoo and Protein Shake I left in the car before our departure, I went into the pub and ordered a cuppa' and planted my lightly sore bum at the tables outside with my eyes fixed on the road.

About 45 minutes later Conor appeared, jogging down the road, looking in pretty good shape. He was right sore alright, but that's inevitable with all the bumps and knocks in this route, but quickly recovered enough to suggest we take advantage of Johnnie Foxes' great menu.

I remember the great atmosphere after the race in April, and there's really not many better places to finish your race than this. We immediately ordered the fresh melon starter (and deliciously fresh it was!) followed by the duck, served with fresh veggies. If we feel sore tomorrow, it won't be for lack of quality eating!

It was a good day out, I was feeling strong throughout, if not fresh, the next 10 days must see to that. I'll hold my horses with predictions until I see the test results next week, but I'd say I've done just about enough to get through in the alloted time.


Mick said…
Good report - a bit briefer than normal - you make it sounded easy! Any walking bits?

Other pubs to finish runs are:
Glenmalure Lodge...
and the pub in Shillelagh at the end of the Wicklow way relay
Renny said…
Hi Mick,

Sorry for the briefness, truth is I was knackered when writing it. Didn't leave Aoife's party before 4 or so, so only got 5 hours of sleep in!

I wouldn't call it easy, but when navigated at a decent pace, the long descents make for a quite painfree route.

We walked just a bit, thankfully, I walked most of Maulin and the final climb once you leave the fire trails and go through the chopped down forest over the last top (don't remember it's name). Same for Brendan, except he kept running on Maulin!

That last climb just before you have to drop to a walk is pretty relentless, though (it's the 15-18th km).