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October 5, 2022

Kyle Merber’s New York City Marathon Training Update Vol. 6

The pure hubris of me to jokingly refer to a week in Ireland as a training trip!

This was my fourteenth trip to the Emerald Isle, and while I don’t have an ounce of Irish blood in me, it feels like I’ve at least earned some unofficial athletics ambassador role. The running community there has always been super welcoming and I have risked my life on multiple occasions, by learning to drive a manual transmission car on the opposite side of the road so I could explore different trails.

But the truth is that my fitness has never thrived while there. There are a number of reasons for this: Mammy’s cooking, weather, Guinness, black pudding, jet lag, biscuit cake, etc. During my career, I eventually stopped trying to replicate my normal schedule and conceded to myself that at best I’d get in as many miles as possible with an odd fartlek or hill session to bridge the gap.

My intentions were to find a way to sneak in 90 miles this week and I fell well short of that, totaling just 71. Granted, I had to take Sunday off following flight delays, but still, the nerve of me to believe that I’d suddenly be void of all responsibilities just because I left the Tri-State area.

Things started off great with an up-tempo 16-mile run on the Blueway, which is an idyllic bike path that runs along a river in the countryside through fields and past castles, cows, and ruins (watch this relevant Bandit Running ad featuring a horse). But it’s much harder to convince yourself and others that running should supersede other priorities when it’s not your job. Of course, I hope to run well in New York, but at what cost? Certainly not at the expense of a late-night enjoying a wedding. Fortunately, I planned ahead and was committed to getting one quality day in mid-week.

I chugged my morning cup of Barry’s tea (heavy pour of milk, no sugar) and headed down to Dungarvan in County Waterford to meet my ol’ friend and former Providence College stud, David McCarthy. There are few people who can make a run fly by quicker than he can and his enthusiasm to be hopping in to help out was infectious. We were joined by another friend on the bike to conquer a long run that included 4 x 3 mile in the middle. My goal was to run 5:15-5:20 pace, which immediately felt significantly harder than I intended, perhaps due to a coastal breeze or I am just not as good at running as I hoped.

Although the miles weren’t coming effortlessly, they were passing by. But as we were closing out the second rep, we entered a section of the bike path where it makes a sharp turn to run parallel to the road and our anonymous cyclist spit out wide and got hit by a car. Hearing the screech and bang behind us, I somehow instinctively stopped my watch in the process of turning around and sprinted over to check on the laid-up lad.

Luckily, he was largely okay — even if the bike wasn’t. His lip and chin got cut real good, but he would only walk away with some stitches and a good scare. It felt weird to watch a friend get hit by a car and then not know what else to do. But after ten minutes of standing around assessing the situation, there was no real need for me to also go to the doctor for moral support so I started back up.

I was admittedly shaken and my rhythm broken, but I did my best to finish it off alone. The run ended up as 22+ miles at 5:51 pace with 12 miles of work at 5:21 pace which felt pretty bad, though probably not as bad as getting smashed into by a 3,500 pound vehicle.

Now nine weeks in, having averaged a very mediocre 66 miles a week, there are still moments when I believe in my ability to pull something out of my ass — I just hope it’s not shit.

The Lap Count is a weekly newsletter delivered on Wednesday mornings that recap all the fun action from the world of track & field. It’s a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of the sport. There is a lot happening and this newsletter is a great way to stay up to date with all the fun. Subscribe today.

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