Friday 20 February 2015

Donadea 50K

You're only as good as your last race, right?  Well, after dropping out of the Barcelona 24 (for the second time) that philosophy was hanging over me like a dark cloud.

My confidence took a kicking, so I needed a race to go right.  I'd PB-d at shorter road races, but it wasn't the same.  I needed a race with a bit more meat on the bones.  But is a 50k an ultra? That's debatable. Technically, yes, but I think it's really a marathon with a detour.

I have toyed with the idea of the Donadea 50k for a few years and have corresponded with race organiser Anto Lee a few times.  So when we on a bus going to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, I received an email from Anto asking if I'd like to go over to Ireland for the race on February 14 I had a mini lightbulb moment.  With the World 24 eight weeks after, a 50k might just be the thing.  A tuner-upper, I'd say. Of course I managed to convince Sonic to do it too.
What better way to celebrate St Valentine's Day?

Donadea 50k is the Irish Championships and attracts a quality friend.  The cut off time of five hours speaks volumes.  But there's nowt worse than pot-hunting and it's good to put yourself among some great marathon runners.  For me, it was never about position and all about the personal challenge.  I'd never done a 50k before, so it was good get an official time.

In training, my main focus was (and is) obviously the Worlds on April 10.  Everything else is just part of the journey.  I hadn't really done any marathon specific training, but it was going in the right direction.

On race day, the conditions were perfect.  Fresh, still and a dry week meant the route around Donadea Forest was favourable for some fast running.  The course is 10 x 4.968 km loops with a 0.32km run up to the start line to make it 50k.  It's relatively flat, with some gentle incline and declines.  Enough to shift the legs, but not enough to notice.  Well until about the 8th lap.  Then you notice!

It truly is one of the nicest and friendliest races I've ever done.  The enthusiasm from the stewards supporters was amazing.  And all the runners were so kind and supportive, whether you were the lapped or lapper.  No idea what they were saying half the time, but the delivery was good ;-) It's got a nice family feel to it.  Everybody knows everybody, but we were made to feel so welcome.

Credit: Peter Mooney
Credit: Paul Daly
My race plan was a) Run even-pace b) start at 8m/m c) If I could hear myself breathing, knock back the pace d) finish happy. 

My lap splits were 25:55, 24:36, 24:34, 24:35, 24:01, 24:02, 24:15, 24:28, 24:50, 24:17, so pretty even-pace.  And I finished happy as 5th lady and 35th over

1st Mary Laverty 3:43 (20th)
2nd Dena Hogan 3:49 (22nd)
3rd Theresa Majeed 3:56 (25th)
4th Eilis Connery 4:04 (32rd)
5th Debbie Martin-Consani 4:05 (35th)

The men's field was pretty spectacular. The winner Gary O'Hanlon passed me as I set out on my third lap.  Rumour has it the leaders were clocking 4:50 miles at the start.  Although there was a 2.5 minute difference between his faster and last lap.  Maybe I should have a chat to him about pacing ;-)

Marco, Anto and 3rd place Peter Mooney

1st Gary O'Hanlon 2:57
2nd Tom Hogan 3:05
3rd Peter Mooney 3:14
4th Marco Consani 3:14
5th Mark Doyle 3:17

Full results and lap splits here

Friday 13 February 2015

Kahtoola NANOspikes

In Scotland, we've had our fair share of snow and ice this year.  Snow is lovely, pretty and quite therapeutic to run on.  Ice, on the other hand, is a total pain in the backside.  Often, quite literally, a pain in the backside.

I've switched between Kahtoolas' MICROspikes and Yaktraks, depending on terrain and severity of ice. Both have served me well - and upright - over the years.   I wrote a blog post comparing both back in 2012.  Click here

The Kahtoolas MICROspikes are without doubt one of the best winter running investments.  They're not cheap, but worth it.  On thick ice (especially canal paths) and off road, they give you 100% confidence.  I've actually lost count of the the number of dog walkers who have stopped me to enquiry about my fancy footwear.  

Previously, I used Yaktraks for slippy pavements or thin ice.  MICROspikes are far too aggressive for these conditions.  But after trying the NANOspikes, the Yaktraks really are pale in comparison.  They certainly address all the issues I had with Yaktraks - time consuming to put on, not feeling very secure on ice, tendency to snap and slip off and they catch on everything. Plus, they get a bit tangled up if you squeeze to reduce overall space they take up in your pack.
  • The NANOspikes are lighter, more minimal and altogether a more toned down version of the MICROspikes.  
  • They are made with the same superior quality, hence the price tag.  
  • Your foot literally slips into the rubber, so they are relatively easy to snap on.  There has been many a time that I've carried my Yaktraks in my pack and endured icy pavements (or even run on roads!), just because I couldn't be bothered with the hassle of wresting them on. 
  • The fold in half and come with a compact carry case, so perfect for transporting.  Without tearing holes in your gear.
  • They really comfortable and kinder on the feet, especially on harder surfaces. 
  • Superb traction for icy roads, pavements, paths and compact trails.