This race was a disaster and was the antithesis of Longford last weekend.
The previous evening my stomach was all over the place. I took two Immodium tablets to settle it down. Bad idea. Everything I ate on Saturday evening and Sunday morning just sat in my bowels, going nowhere, which made me feel heavy and sluggish from early in the race.
The early start didn’t help. I was up at around 6am, left just after 7am and arrived in Ballybofey at 10am. En route I picked up Andy in Claregalway and Martin and James in Tuam.
Next problem was that I tired quickly. After a quick opening two miles I faded rapidly. This was no doubt a result of a fast half-marathon just 7 days previous, a tough 18 mile training run last Wednesday, and a fast 5k race (sub-19) on Friday night. So even with no other problems, I think I’d have done no better than 90 minutes. I realised this after about 5 miles and was reasonably content with the conclusion.
But then around 6 or 7 miles I felt my left glute muscle spasm. Yikes. This is an old injury I suffered in the lead-up to the Cork marathon relay that I ran in June 2007. Every now and then it returns if I haven’t been keeping on top of it with a disciplined stretching regime. Admittedly, the last few weeks I’ve been lazy about stretching, and sure enough the last few training runs my glutes have felt a bit stiff and sore.
The end result of all this was that after a 6:10, 6:22 and 6:38 in the first three miles, I was hoping to fall into a 6:35-ish rhythm but instead kept slowing. I put in the next 3 miles at about 7:00 pace on average and went through 6 miles in 40:13. At this point I wanted to just keep it at 7:00′s the rest of the race and come home in a decent, if unremarkable time. A mile later I’d slipped to a 7:50, and the time kept tumbling as I hobbled along with the strained glute muscle. By then I really just wanted to hop into a car and get to the finish, but all I found was gawking stewards. So as the splits increased to 8:20, 8:40, 9:00, 9:12, 9:15 and finally a 9:21, I became more and more bored with it all. It was taking so long to get to the next mile marker. By mile 10 my breath had slowed down entirely and I took to looking around at the rather uninteresting countryside. Being passed by dozens of runners over the last few miles was quite annoying as well – I’m sure I looked like some newbie runner who had gone out way too hard and died half-way through.
A few highlights were:
- Andy Talbot passing me around 5 or 6 miles. I was still going okay by then but couldn’t sustain his pace. He pounded out a 1:27 to take third place in the O55 vets category.
- Frank Burke passing me around 8 miles. It happened to be where his children were on the roadside, offering extremely enthusiastic support!
- James passing me at the 11 mile mark. Very solid 1:36 with a negative split and everything going to plan.
- Valerie passing me with about a mile to go. She asked me to “pace her in”. :-) To be fair, my last three were 9:12, 9:15, 9:21 so I was fairly consistent at least, but still a tad slow for a 100 mile runner doing a mere 13.1.
- Martin running a good 1:58 but unfortunately missing out on a vets prize in the O65 by 5 or 6 minutes.
- Mick Rice running a huge PB of 1:16:09 to take third in the mens V2 (I think) category.
- Weather was good. No wind at all, and the mist, though dirty and incessant, was light and unobtrusive.
- The AAI strikes me as a very amateurish organization and it is reflected in the two national events I’ve attended.
- The road surface was shit. Potholes, filled-potholes (very lumpy), gravel, rough old stoney tarmac and a very pronounced camber in places meant that I was forced to keep my glasses on even in the mist, so I could see where my next footfall would land.
- Ballybofey is so far away!
We got some nice sandwiches and tea/coffee upstairs in the bar afterwards. Oh and the shower was very welcome before another 3+ hour drive home. :-) We caught the end of the minor hurling match where Galway beat Kilkenny, and I saw most of the first half of the superb senior final where Kilkenny just pipped Tipp at the end of the match.
We stopped in Sligo for food – pizza in a Bistro Bianconi, yum! I finally got home a little after 8pm. A long, long day, not a good one from a running point of view but otherwise fairly enjoyable. The time of 1:41:11 is eminently forgettable, but I’m happy to sit on my 85:50 PB from Longford for a while yet. I just hope this race is a bit closer to home next year. Now to go rest/stretch for a week before the Dingle marathon next Saturday!