Clontarf Half Marathon – Saturday July 4th

The view out towards Dollymount Strand the Irish Sea.

The view out towards Dollymount Strand the Irish Sea.

Hi there,

All week I have been preparing for the Clontarf half marathon. This is an event I last did 2 years ago in 23 degrees. Remember that Summer that we’ll never forget? My time back then was 1:48:17 and I remember being in agony at the end of that. Cramp, breathless and covered in salt from sweat and the sea air.

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The finish line of the Irish runner magazine 5 mile.

The finish line of the Irish runner magazine 5 mile.

What a morning for a race. The weather is stunning here in Dublin and conditions were what could be described as perfect for this first event in the Dublin race series. 3 more to go in the run (pun intended) up to the Dublin marathon in October.

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Sonia 5k – June 13th 2015

Dun Laoghaire harbour

Dun Laoghaire harbour

This event was to mark the anniversary of probably Ireland’s greatest ever runner winning the World Championship in Gothenburg in 1995. I thought I’d throw in the clip from this race and it still sends a shiver up the spine. I remember watching all her races as a kid and she brought some fantastic memories. She had the strongest sprint finish at this time and we went nuts when she came through in Sweden. An absolute icon.

Not only did she win gold in the world championship but she was an Olympic silver medallist in Sydney 2000, 3 European championship golds and broke the 2,000 metre world record in 1994. These are all among many other achievements.

So we trekked out to Dun Laoghaire for the race to celebrate and take part in a 5k race along the seafront and the views were stunning. It was an absolutely gorgeous evening for a run and a good sub 20 minute attempt. It’s a very fast pace and success very much depends on a person’s natural running ability.

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The weather’s turning up. So I’m turning up.

Hello all. So, since the Terenure 5 mile I haven’t had much to report but over the Summer there definitely will be. I have sat on my ass long enough now and I have too many things I want to achieve this year in terms of events and hopefully breaking records too. I have updated my “upcoming events” page and it’s now pretty full on. Next up is the Sonia 5k challenge next Saturday, along with the Dublin race series and the Clontarf half marathon. To be honest I absolutely cannot wait to see how they all pan out.

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The Terenure 5 Mile

The frustrations of running.

The frustrations of running.

Well yesterday was a bit of a rollercoaster for a 5 miler. First of all, training was nonexistent as life has just got in the way since the last run I did on the 30th of April. I know I know it’s a long time but I still went into yesterday fully confident. I got up in plenty of time, had my Weetabix, stretched, foam rolled and did a couple of small exercises just to wake up the legs. All was fine. I jumped in the car and drove the approximately 3km to where I parked and proceeded to the start line. All was still fine and it was about 10:30 when I arrived at the start line giving plenty of time before the 11 o’ clock start.

I did a few sprints in Terenure college where many others were doing the same and then I was ready to go. Without further ado, off we went at 11. Que my first of 2 stupid mistakes. I flew out of the traps. You’d think I’d know by this stage but no. I did the maths on Friday and to get under 35 minutes I had to maintain an average pace of 4 minutes and 22 seconds per kilometre. After the first bend I was at 3:50 which I maintained for the first mile. Then sure enough I started slow gradually and got to 4:35 and I was panting now and in trouble. The second mile is a bit uphill but I said to myself that it always takes a few kms to warm up properly and get into a rhythm. I reached the top of Fortfield Road and turned left. Still panting but glad to be on the flat again. I thought to myself that if I can just maintain this then hopefully I can have enough for a sprint finish but 35 minutes will be close.

Along came mile 3 and I changed my mind again. Maintaining that pace would not be quick enough so I started to up the speed coming down the Terenure road with Templeogue village at my back. Just for half a km. Still struggling at this stage and the mind was really playing tricks. I was going to the well already. So many times I wanted to stop. If it was a marathon and I had 5km to go I would have but I only had a mile and a half left so I had to push hard. As we approached mile 4 the 35 minute pacemakers overtook me and mentally that was a killer because I knew they looked comfortable. I dug deep and tried to not let them out of my sights for the rest of it but I was absolutely panting. Very slowly a few strides started to come between us and coming down the homestraight I told myself to just sprint hard for those few strides. They were no more than 20 metres in front of me so I went for it. I gave it everything and closed the gap a little.

Then came my second stupid and unforgivable mistake. That sprint took so much out of me I stopped. I thought, “maybe I just don’t have it in me today” and also, “maybe I’ll get away with it if I take a 7/8 second break. So I did that. 7 or 8 seconds and I went again. I could hear the announcer at the finish line and I heard, “ok 34 and a half minutes now” but I just couldn’t sprint. Eventually I crossed and stopped the watch (you will see what it read in the photo at the top). Maybe I’m being way too harsh on myself here but I was very annoyed. 1 second less and it would have been under 35 minutes. I know I would have scraped it but I don’t care. My only hope was that my watch and the race time were not in sync so I had to wait for the official results.

Posted below is from the website and you know running gets in your head when you’re aiming for an average per kilometre pace of 4:22 and you get………………………..check out the average pace below.

Person details


Name Brendan FARRELL
Bib number 245
Class 5Mile


Place 246
Net result 35:04
Gross result 35:16
Average pace 04.23 min/km

Split times

Split Gross result Net result Lap time min/km km/h Place
Finish 35:16 35:04 35:04 04.23 13.7 246


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Short Distance Season

Today is the 2nd of May and Summer is in full flight now. Although you wouldn’t think it looking out the window. There are endless options for all distances over the next few months. My next time conscious venture is the Terenure 5 mile on Sunday May 17th. The aim here is to (for the first time) break 35 minutes. I ran steady this week. Not as much as I would like but 2 very contrasting episodes. Life got in the way this week and no training was allowed for a couple of evenings. When I went out last Sunday, it was out of guilt and it was a great evening weather wise. There was great drying out altogether.

My usual 10.5km route is Templeogue village, Terenure village, Rathfarnham village to Ballyroan road and home. This was a good one to get some uninterrupted stretches in. Living in a city though brings the unfortunate fact of a runners life. Traffic, traffic lights and having to stop. Sometimes it plays with your head and you try to convince yourself that you would have kept up that pace anyway. Other times it’s frustrating and takes away from your ability and willingness to really push yourself. Anyway as I said, they were 2 very contrasting runs and states of mind.

Sunday was never going to be a record breaker. It was 54:51 and it felt like it. Laboured and not all there in the head. I had a few drinks on Saturday night but like I always say, the only bad session is the one you don’t do. I didn’t let it get to me. Plenty of time to mentally prepare.

Splits Time Cumulative Time Moving Time Distance Elev Gain Elev Loss Avg Pace Avg Moving Pace Best Pace Calories
1 05:25.5 05:25.5 05:24 0.62 16 19 08:44 08:41 07:53 80
2 05:09.3 10:35 05:07 0.62 25 08:17 08:14 07:08 83
3 05:16.5 15:51 05:17 0.62 12 08:29 08:30 07:13 84
4 05:13.6 21:05 05:11 0.62 24 08:24 08:21 07:02 84
5 05:25.1 26:30:00 05:25 0.62 11 08:43 08:43 07:35 85
6 05:21.1 31:51:00 05:21 0.62 24 08:37 08:37 07:22 83
7 05:13.7 37:05:00 05:14 0.62 44 08:25 08:25 07:11 84
8 05:02.4 42:07:00 05:02 0.62 10 08:07 08:06 07:22 84
9 05:23.7 47:31:00 05:23 0.62 17 08:40 08:40 07:16 82
10 04:57.8 52:29:00 04:57 0.62 7 07:59 07:58 06:28 85
11 02:20 54:49:00 02:16 0.31 22 07:29 07:16 05:53 39
12 00:02.5 54:51:00 0 0 0 0 0
Summary 54:51:00 54:51:00 54:37:00 6.53 114 117 08:24 08:22 05:53 873

Thursday was a very different story. On the cycle home I hadn’t even planned on going out as I had other commitments but then it would have been nothing done from Monday to Friday. Upon deciding to give it a good shot I got ready immediately after getting home. Stretch and out. Taking the advice a good work colleague from Kerry gave to me a few years. Don’t sit down. Change and go. Feeling full of energy a serious effort was required so I pushed it and the times below show it. After 2k I felt good considering I had been cycling all week. I always let that get into my head and say to myself that “this is good and I’ll be more prepared for the race”. No bike for a few days and more rest to give the best chance possible.

A number of times the traffic lights halted progress. Caught between thinking “I need the break” and “I’d love to hit the 8k/5mile mark under 35 today” it’s very difficult to keep the pace. Turning on to the bottom of Ballyroan Road the legs were jelly but not far to go to the 8k mark so no holding back now. In the end I got there at 34:48 and used the last 2.5km to cool down and maintain a slower pace which was easy enough to do (and mentally the easiest thing in the world to do) Finishing in 47:32, there are definitely a couple of caveats with this. Having to stop the watch for traffic is not ideal. I won’t be having breaks in the race but on the other hand I will be well prepared. All definitely positive considering I know I can make the time. Countdown T-15 days.

Splits Time Cumulative Time Moving Time Distance Elev Gain Elev Loss Avg Pace Avg Moving Pace Best Pace Calories
1 04:35.2 04:35.2 04:35 0.62 16 20 07:23 07:23 06:20 82
2 04:07.3 08:42.6 04:04 0.62 24 06:38 06:33 05:25 81
3 04:11.9 12:54 04:13 0.62 15 06:45 06:47 05:04 83
4 04:07.6 17:02 04:06 0.62 20 06:38 06:36 05:23 80
5 04:21.4 21:23 04:20 0.62 13 07:00 06:58 05:52 78
6 04:30.3 25:54:00 04:31 0.62 25 07:15 07:16 05:50 85
7 04:38.8 30:32:00 04:38 0.62 49 07:27 07:27 06:02 85
8 04:16.0 34:48:00 04:16 0.62 21 06:52 06:52 05:30 85
9 05:13.6 40:02:00 05:13 0.62 17 08:24 08:24 07:08 83
10 05:06.6 45:09:00 05:07 0.62 15 8 08:13 08:14 06:40 83
11 02:23.3 47:32:00 02:21 0.31 33 07:38 07:32 05:56 40
Summary 47:32:00 47:32:00 47:24:00 6.53 139 137 07:17 07:16 05:04 865

On a completely separate note, does anyone know anything about the GoPro cameras? I’m thinking of getting one for the Summer running. Are they worth it?


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Marathon de Paris

Le start line. Paris Marathon - April 12th 2015

Le start line. Paris Marathon – April 12th 2015

Well I have had over a week to gather my thoughts, rehydrate and try and put this into sensible words. The goal here was to beat the 4 hour mark and it was all I could think about. I think I need a lesson in putting things in perspective and realising that if I don’t, who cares. Nothing is going to happen. However the tactic was to complete the first 3 quarters in 57/58 minutes each to allow a few extra minutes for the last.

I arrived in Paris on Friday night and went straight to the hotel. I met my brother there who was generous enough to come over for the weekend. We just went for a drink (beer for him, orange juice for me) and that was it for Friday. Saturday was just a matter of collecting my number and passing the time. It would have been great if the race was on Saturday but you can’t have everything. We visited the expo to pick up the number and freebies. The atmosphere was great and my brother has been roped in I think. He was sold out by the number of advertisers there pushing for trips to marathons in Athens, Barcelona, Mont St. Michel in France (where you can see the finish line from the start line which is pretty cool) and even the Jerusalem marathon. We spent the rest of the day visiting the sites and trying to eat and drink regularly.

Then Sunday morning came and so did the nerves. My plan is usually to try and not think about anything so I can sleep. I just got enough, finding it difficult to turn off as is usally the way. Then as soon as I wake up, get myself warmed up by allowing the adrenaline to flow. Breakfast consisted of cereal, fruit salad, scrambled eggs, 4 slices of toast and orange juice. At this point it was 8:00 in the morning and I wasn’t starting until 9:30. No worries about eating too much too soon. The start line was 2 metro stops from the hotel so basically 10 minutes from the hotel door. Absolutely perfect location.

As soon as we arrived the atmosphere was amazing. Looking right down the Champs Elysees all we could see was people and thousands of them. I spent a bit of time finding out exactly where the 4 hour section was. I saw a number of groups starting before us and I was hoping that my group wasn’t going early. It really didn’t matter but a lot of planning went into it so I would have been wound up if I started in the wrong group. Happily this was not an issue in the end and come 9:30 we were off running down the Champs Elysees. What a place to start. There were plenty of cobbles in the first couple of kilometres but all part of the fun. The temperature was between 15 & 20 degrees Celsius for the entire race so quite hot. There were a good few opportunities to run in the shade for the first 10km so I took them all and with the aid of a banana at 7.5km I completed the first quarter in about 57 minutes and something. The ideal start and the plan worked perfectly. We then carried on to Bois de Vincennes which is a huge open park. The support was incredible. There were drums, bands, music, thousands of people and those cowbells you always hear at the Tour de France. It was also refreshing to have numerous drink stops that had people spraying hoses.

I felt a bit of an energy slump at 16km so a little bit of a worry. This soon passed with a gel and a quick pit stop though so I have no idea what caused it. I just kept drinking water and waited for it to pass. At this stage we were ploughing through the suburbs and past the halfway mark. For some reason I always lose time in the second quarter and make up for it in the third. I’d love to know why. The plan was still working though. We eventually came up to the River Seine and ran alongside that which felt like an eternity. The views were incredible and a welcome breeze seemed to be present. We proceeded to run through a number of tunnels alongside the river, one of which was about a kilometre long and was sweltering, so exiting that was a relief.

The energy levels were receding now and it was almost time for my energy gel blast. I had 3 left and the plan was to take them all pretty close to the end to give me that extra kick for the last quarter. My quarter splits at the three quarter point were exactly bang on. I had a few extra minutes to complete the last quarter.

Eventually we were travelling down right by the Musee d’Orsay between 26km & 27km and the Eiffel Tower at the 29km mark and I was popping the gels. It was hard to get all 3 in but I was giving the 4 hour everything. We then entered Bois de Boulogne. I was in a lot of pain here. My quads were in agony now and the gels hadn’t done anything so far so this was the start of my “wall”. There was a lot of bunching at the start of this. The crowd had made a very narrow path to get through but to be honest I’m not making excuses. I was struggling anyway. After the next few minutes I had to start walking. Slowly but surely I was starting to resign to the fact that 4 hours was not going to happen. I did know that my best time of 4:14:37 would be cut though so that was a great feeling. That last quarter, which is obviously the toughest part didn’t treat me well this time.

In the end it was 4:06.02. It’s a consistent feeling that it just doesn’t sink in straight away. It requires food and water and maybe a few hours to really discover how you feel. I’ll take the positive outcome that I’m heading in the right direction. Now to Dublin. Onwards and upwards. I have a score to settle here.

In the end, all the preparation was completely worth it. It was my first marathon outside of Ireland and hopefully the first of many more. I would recommend this fantastic course to anyone.

Splits below (please note kilometres 26 & 27 were in a tunnel where the watch lost reception):

Split Time
1 05:14.8
2 05:28.2
3 05:27.0
4 05:21.9
5 05:22.9
6 05:44.2
7 05:40.4
8 05:44.1
9 05:32.3
10 05:36.4
11 05:35.3
12 05:30.5
13 05:39.6
14 05:35.1
15 05:45.9
16 06:04.5
17 05:23.5
18 05:19.7
19 05:29.6
20 05:30.5
21 05:37.7
22 05:26.2
23 05:55.4
24 05:44.6
25 05:41.7
26 08:48.2
27 03:08.8
28 05:59.3
29 05:53.9
30 06:01.2
31 05:54.8
32 05:49.9
33 05:49.8
34 05:51.0
35 06:19.3
36 06:10.8
37 06:31.4
38 05:55.1
39 06:46.6
40 06:48.6
41 06:40.8
42 07:02.8
43 01:04.0
 Summary 04:06.1
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The Final Week

Tymon North, Templeogue, Dublin

Tymon North, Templeogue, Dublin

We’re nearly there. So close now. This time next week the nerves will be kicking, I’ll be absolutely sick to death of drinking water and eating well, stretching, mind games and permutations. What will the atmosphere be like? Will there be bunching that will hinder me at the start? Just how much am I going to have left in the last quarter? All of these things have really been playing on my mind as we get closer to the big day. The mental side of something you love so much and something I want to do so much (a sub 4 hour marathon) is relentless. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe others don’t put as much pressure on themselves. It has always been a side to me that has been both a strength and weakness.

When I cycled home on Monday I knew I had to take some action because I felt quite tired. I’m spending all of this time trying to freshen up. So I have done nothing all week. We’ll live to see whether I regret it or not. I just wanted to rest. No 2/3 mile runs. So I feel good right now. I went for a sports massage yesterday evening and as I haven’t been foam rolling and stretching as much as is recommended, the pain of it was agonising. I had the calf muscles, hamstrings, quads and back worked on. I just feel bruised today. I went for a small 8k run but I was told I would feel sluggish after yesterday and I did. I went well and I feel somewhat awake and fresh writing this now.

As for the race, I have a set plan that is simply not flexible. I have been training to treat the race as 4 quarters and to approach the first 3 the same. Hopefully I can complete them each in 56-58. This will then give me about an hour and between 6 and 12 minutes. Very precise I know but I want to allow extra time obviously as I’ll have a somewhat empty tank. The week ahead I feel myself changing it every so often depending on how I’m feeling. Again, I’m learning but I am happy I went out today. Just to get the rustiness out. It will take a few days for the muscles to recover after the massage so it won’t go to my head.

We’ll see how the week goes.

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Last Minute Preparations

The Wellington Monument, Phoenix Park, Dublin. The Phoenix Park is the largest park in Europe and a running haven.

The Wellington Monument, Phoenix Park, Dublin. The Phoenix Park is the largest park in Europe and a running haven.

So I left this morning for a smaller run as part of the taper (I still don’t fully know how this tapering business works and I was greeted by a 40km/hr wind. It affected my mind immediately. The thought did cross it. Am I only tiring myself out more? Am I too close to Paris to be doing 21km today? That’s the mental side of this business. A Kerryman I used to work with offered me some great advice. He said to change into your running gear immediately. Do it fast. Do your warmup straight away. GET OUT STRAIGHT AWAY. Some days I heed this advice. Other days there’s a thought that creeps in ahead of it. If I skip this one it’ll do no harm. Then I convince myself of positives from skipping a session.

  • More time in the evening and on Saturday’s.
  • You’re not tiring yourself too much.
  • You’ve done well this week. You’ve earned a break. Now get something for dinner that’s bad for you.


So I did. I was definitely tired today. I had my 3 Weetabix (at this stage I feel like I’m promoting Weetabix and Boyne Valley honey). I stopped for a banana at about 4km and a gel at 11km. That should get me through and it did. However my head was heavy and running against that wind would normally be no problem when I’m feeling 100%.

So I took off in the direction of Crumlin, Drimnagh, Kilmainham and the Phoenix Park. I haven’t done this training route since last year. A simple 10.55 out and 10.55 back. Not too much but sticking with the tapering. I figure I’ll find out by trial and error whether I’m doing things right. On the way back I said this isn’t right. I would never feel sluggish running this distance. I then made a plan for the next 2 weeks. No bike into work. It will take a little longer but I’m taking this whole thing very seriously. To the point that if I did all this training, planning, money spending, mental preparation and self pressurising and didn’t get under 4 hours, I’d be deflated. I think I want this too much to let a bit of tiredness during the race get in my way. However, rest is key now I have learned that again and again in this process. I seem to have had great progression when I have actively rested. So the bike may also take a rest. 100km a week is now down to a big fat healthy 0. Let’s see how this runs (pun intended).

My splits are below:

1 05:09.8
2 05:08.6
3 05:16.8
4 05:20.4
5 05:20.1
6 05:11.2
7 05:35.2
8 05:38.9
9 05:45.9
10 05:25.1
11 05:27.7
12 05:23.7
13 05:17.8
14 05:32.7
15 05:38.8
16 05:25.0
17 05:21.4
18 05:24.9
19 05:21.7
20 05:18.7
21 05:01.8
Total 01:53.2

Current Performance Opinion: Still positive. I still think it’s a case of wanting this too much to fail. I will keep an eye on myself over the next few days. No more bike. Legs definitely need to rest. I currently don’t feel terribly fresh but I will.

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Training Week Saturday March 21st

The River Liffey. Ok this photo wasn't taken on this run but it's still nice. Ahhhhh

The River Liffey. Ok this photo wasn’t taken on this run but it’s still nice. Ahhhhh

I should have a different title for this article because this week has been a struggle. I have been on the bike as usual but only one session done. I did my hill session on Thursday evening. My usual hill sprints in Tymon Park. I definitely felt it by the end. I don’t know if the long runs are catching up on me but I could sleep for Ireland right now. Delighted it’s the weekend though. I decided to start tapering now. I had initially planned on doing 36km tomorrow but I’m listening to my body this weekend. I also don’t think it’s a good idea to do it next weekend. 2 weeks before Paris. It’s not happening. There’s no point in burning out now. Hopefully I sleep well this weekend and feel somewhat human next week.

Separately I have been doing a lot of thinking about the September/October marathon and I have decided that I want to right the wrong of Dublin last year. I will write a follow up post to explain how the race went but Dublin marathon 2015 is what I’m aiming for. Watch out for my next post in the next few days. Especially for those of you who are deciding on what marathon to do later in the year. I will hopefully set your mind straight.

So I’m not hugely experienced or knowledgeable on this tapering business. To me it’s a case of just keeping up the long run but decreasing the distance each week. I’ll also keep up the midweek training as best I can. Is there a lot more to it?

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