It’s March, and there’s a grand old stretch in the evenings.
My running is also getting longer like the days. This morning I had my belated first long run of the year, clocking up 12 miles.
Since getting over the leg niggles and chest infection that disrupted my running during January and February, I’ve put in two weeks of solid, if modest, training – first a 20-mile week of four five-miles runs, and then earlier this week some five- and three-milers.
Apart from some short bursts, I haven’t put in any hard training yet – no sprints or hard hills or long mileage. But with the Fit Magazine 10K coming up next weekend, I wanted to give myself a test for some reassurance that I can do myself justice in that race.
So, visiting the ancestral homeland in Kerry this weekend, I decided to take a long run and see how my lungs, legs and stamina were holding up.
And it was a great long run – the body was in good shape and the mind got a valuable pre-race boost.
To make things as positive and familiar as possible, today I followed the same route as on my enjoyable Christmas morning run. First up, five miles of uninterrupted tarmac paths along a new ring road, where I crossed some runners who might be preparing for the Tralee Marathon later this month. They all said hello to me too, such was the almost-Christmassy good cheer on show despite a squally shower a few minutes earlier.
Pace-wise, after an easy first mile of 9 and a half minutes, I was running around 8:30 per mile – a comfortable pace for me on a long run, which I kept steady thanks to the excellent stretch of tarmac.
At the five-mile point, reaching the end of the ring road, I headed out to sea.
One of my favourite running routes in Tralee goes to Blennerville Windmill on Tralee Bay and then back into town along the ship canal, following the last mile of the Tralee Marathon. This got me to mile 8. The sun shone and lit up the mountain slopes; the sea breeze was refreshing.
Just as I turned at the sea to head back into town, the sky darkened suddenly and I got hit by a shower of hail. Fortunately the wind was behind me, so I got the hail into the back rather than full into the face.
With wind and hail behind me I flew in along the canal and clocked 7:55 for that mile without feeling any effort. For those of you who like lessons and inspiration, that’s something for you – a windy-day run will often balance itself out.
The last three miles of my run were through the town on Sunday morning – more runners on the streets, along with dog-walkers who even got off the footpath to let me pass, saying hello to me too. I was so stunned that I almost stopped in my tracks.
So, today’s long run was a great success. I got in a solid workout ahead of next week’s race, which boosted my spirits considerably. I blew out the cobwebs of inactivity and got the all-clear from my systems.
Back in the game, baby!