DIARY: Phoenix Rising

Why had I chosen to sign up for the National Half-Marathon is something some readers may ponder if they have followed the last seventeen weeks which have largely consisted of a few (or no) runs per week. It was worth it: I finally confirmed why it has all gone so wrong since 2008 and got a surprise in return.

The objectives

I had two goals:

  1. Get a Crusaders team represented in the event
  2. Get a precise measurement of my starting fitness for the cross-country season

Sneakily I recruited Markus Roessel and Amidou Dembele along with our strong M55 runner James Cottle. For Markus, this was early preparation for the Florence Marathon. For Amidou a strength workout ahead of the cross-country season. For James a test ahead of the Dublin Marathon.

My goal: I really had little idea but decided to do a “half-marathon crash-course” consisting of:

  1. Tue: 42-minute 10k
  2. Wed: 90-minute 20k
  3. Thu: ??-minute 5k (cancelled because of my aerosinusitis)
  4. Fri: 10x100m strides, 100m recovery

When I ran my times while staying aerobically and felt a bit of power in the strides, I knew I wasn’t too bad. “Within 5 minutes of my best, will be satisfying (82:28)”, I told the others.

From Strawberry to National Half

Almost two months ago I threw myself at the Strawberry despite a lingering injury. With severely disrupted training, hot weather, and a tough course, I battled my way to 1:26 flat. Not a disgraceful time, but conceding four minutes and feeling altogether terrible, made for an unhappy day.

With immediate healing not around the corner, resuming a curve of improvement seemed a long way away. Winter looked to be a a long uphill battle to return to square one and only then think about improving again.

Then, things looked up: First I completed the Lakeland 50 Mile ultra and my tendons started to heal. Second, I was given a clue to my longer term performance problems when a test revealed I had the arterial flexibility of an eighty-year old man. My legs were driving an ancient car and who know where my health was going?

A cured man

A quick cure of ProArgi9 and a few other supplements along with a complete radical change of diet (no bread, little or no diary, no cheese, minimal meat, more greens), and suddenly all changed. My facial complexion started to change, I started sleeping properly again, my energy-levels rose, I felt more relaxed, and then, amazingly, I went through five days of late night at a festival with no hangover and no tiredness.

During my “crash-course”, I noticed two things: 1) I was not fit in the traditional sense of the word, my breathing was more laboured than in winter (as expected as I have barely run now, and did 100km plus weeks then) and 2) My paces were higher than they should be by a good 10-20secs/km.

Also, my intestinal problems were gone, the air pressure in my chest and the general discomfort of my chest area was not evident. This was the same pressure that prompted me to get checked at the Blackrock Clinic last year. They found nothing amiss.

I felt like a new man, but I have learned that in athletics the trees don’t grow into the sky (at least overnight), so what to expect. Race report to follow…