Race 1 – Athenry
Stewarding. No report.
Race 2 – Claregalway
Boom. Felt great on the start line. No holding back. Nearly killed myself. Still failed to need an oxygen tank at the finish though – so not good enough! Managed a huge new pb. Very happy. But… the calculator says that based on my 10 mile pb of 60:28, I should be running a 5k in 17:22. That’s 26 seconds faster than here. Jeeeesus, another 5 seconds every km? Not sure where I’ll find it. Craughwell or bust I think. At least I have a pair of lightweight racers now, got them after this race.
Race 3 – Loughrea
Felt sluggish on the start line. Six slices of (free) pizza at lunch, plus my actual lunch afterwards, probably wasn’t the best preparation. I stood a couple of metres back from the start line with a few minutes to go – thin enough crowd at the time, but then loads of people seemed to materialize in the final moments before the off. I was fairly content with this though as I wasn’t targeting a fast time. I just jogged along with the crowd for the first half km, narrowly avoiding clipping various other runners’ heels. Then I got bored and started running up the outside of the pack. Missed the first km marker but my 2k split was 7:12. That must have been roughly 3:42 / 3:30 because the first km was unavoidably slow. Felt really comfortable and didn’t look at my watch at all during the race.
- 3rd km: 3:27
- 4th km: 3:51
- 5th km: 3:20
There’s a minor hill in the 3rd, and a significant hill in the 4th. Absolutely blitzed the field on both, even with the slow 4th km split. Just managed to sneak past Mark Breen and Barry Phelan before cresting the hill and hitting the final downhill. A steward called out “nine” to me as I sprinted home – he was correct, 9th overall this week (15th last week).
One second slower than Claregalway, despite a tougher course and six slices of pizza. Bring on Craughwell!
Race 4 – Craughwell
A strange race. I wore my racers for the first time, but this was the only positive pre-race thought. I felt jaded after a very long weekend which included a 22 mile long run late Sunday evening. Nearly fell asleep at work a couple of times on Monday. Felt better on Tuesday of course, but there was still a lingering residual tiredness. We also had pizza for lunch again! Really poor preparation. Started the race from the front feeling lifeless. Honestly, I nearly stopped a couple of times in the first kilometer. Each time though, I glanced ahead and saw Mark Breen still no more than 10 metres ahead, and Mark Breen is a pretty good barometer of solid running! Hmm… maybe this was a mind over matter thing after all… it usually is.
- 3:25 – Right… mentally, this was my worst km of the whole series so far… but it turned out alright!
- 3:36 – Came level with Mark, and then clear.
- 3:34 – Passed Barry Phelan who was very generous with his encouragement as always.
- 3:29 – Nice km!
- 3:34 – Struggling, but produced an explosive finish.
I was catching the runner in front of me all through the 4th km but he started to drop me again in the 5th. Really started to struggle – mind focused, but the body was weary. But then when I rounded the last corner and saw the finish, and the clock, I just shut my eyes and ran as brutally hard as I could. 17:3x was my (realistic) pre-race target (17:22 is the ultimate target at the moment). I knew it was going to be tight with 17:2x on the clock and a hundred metres or so to go. 41 seconds on my watch but I didn’t quite get my hand across to stop it until a couple of seconds past the finish, and ended up just sneaking into the 30′s with the chip time.
A good race then – and a PB by 10 seconds – but can’t help but feel I underachieved again. I really wish Tuam was next week instead of Galway city… but maybe with a quiet weekend and no pizza next Tuesday, maybe I can use the ‘home turf’ of Dangan to hit 17:2x.
Race 5 – Galway
Ah yes. Felt very good about this. Jogged out to Dangan from home, a mile. Relaxed, but absolutely focused. Had a quick chat with Martin Keane beforehand and we wished each other well. Deep breaths. Lined up at the tape.
- 3:28 – A little congested but fairly free running.
- 3:27 – Down through Corrib village, up to 4th or 5th. Passed Barry at the Kingfisher.
- 3:35 – Moved up to 3rd as we ran down the little road beside the NUIG buildings. The vanquished runner started to come back at me as we came to the turnaround point by the river, but I just remember smiling a withering smile to myself as I dropped the hammer for 50 metres or so, to remove any doubt about who should be 3rd and who should be 4th. Didn’t hear his breath again for the rest of the race.
- 3:34 – Fighting through the gravel and grass and roots!
- 3:34 – Up the hill to the rugby pitch, fighting all the way to the finish with my eyes fixated on the race clock.
That was as close to max effort as I could get. I was obliterated at the finish line. My hands were shaking as I gathered up a couple of cups of water. Completely blown to pieces. I sat on the grass for half an hour, recovering. On any other course, that effort would surely have resulted in a very low 17:3x or possibly a 17:2x. Bit of a shame that Tuam wasn’t this week… ah well, next time. Happy to sit on 17:38 for a while.
Race 6 – Tuam
The day after the Cork marathon… signing off…