56:02 (chip) and 11th overall
So finally I made it to the start line of a race, my first of 2015 and it had been too long since I felt race pain, i.e pain exclusive to racing. Though I would have hoped for a quicker time, I’m very happy with the effort and the overall position (up from 33rd last year), all signs I’m moving in the right direction and the training is paying off. All I really wanted out of this was a PB and an indication I’m on track for Rotterdam, that was achieved so a good day at the office.
A stunner of a Sunday morning in Cork, blue skies, the sun in top form and it was already quite warm by 12pm but a stiff breeze ensured we’d be kept cool (though that wind actually ended up being a bit of a pest). I parked up the car close to race HQ and got a 2 mile warmup done around the town with some club mates, it really was starting to feel warm. I headed down to the starting gantry close to 12:30pm. I was pretty nervous standing around at the start line but was expecting that, I hadn’t raced in over 4 months. I chatted with some club mates and decided to work together with one lad as we were aiming for similar targets. There were also 2 clubmates that I knew would be slightly quicker but that we should be keeping them in view.
Mile 1 – 5:37
I lined up a row back, took a deep breadth (well many) and bang we’re off. Felt pretty comfortable for the first quarter mile as it was all downhill. The new course change meant we were hit with a pretty tough climb for remainder of the mile but I had packed in a group of about 8-10 including the 3 clubmates and I just focussed on staying with the pack. Worryingly the legs started aching already.
Mile 2 – 5:39
With a tough breeze in our faces, I was still feeing the effort and already starting to think I had underestimated this race. I allowed a lot of negative thoughts enter and it was way too early for that. The legs were still feeling tired but I knew some respite wasn’t far as miles 3-4 are downhill. The drag continued up until the end of this mile but I just focussed on staying with the lads and soon we made the turn onto the main road.
Mile 3 – 5:28
It felt as if a mini weight had been lifted here and the group seemed to quickly spread out as a few injected a serious turn of pace. I stuck with clubmate AS as planned and the 2 other clubmates started gaining a few meters on us, as expected. I was suddenly running 5:20ish pace and feeling the energy levels pick up a little. Most of the initial group had fallen off behind us and it was myself, AS and another female clubmate MF who had caught up and worked in with us (she went on to win)
Mile 4 – 5:25
Still working well here and felt I was making up good time from the initial slow start. I was never really comfortable however and it still felt like a big ask as I thought of how long was still left. There was definitely some race sharpness missing today and the head was all over the place at times. We started a bit of a climb at the end of the mile as we approached the end of the main road but this ended up being the quickest mile of the day.
Mile 5 – 5:36
AS had gained about 10-15 meters on me here, I felt he was pushing the pace a bit much so I didn’t go with him so it was myself and MF working together along this stretch. She dropped off the pace coming to the 5 mile mark and I was working ok here and ended up eventually catching up with AS. I hit halfway in 27:47 and I remembered the exact same moment last year wondering if I could do it again. Back then I was feeling great at halfway and confident I could do it again, this time I wasn’t so sure at all. I was really feeling the burn, I knew it wouldn’t be easy but I wasn’t giving in.
Mile 6 – 5:38
Myself and AS were back side by side, the field spread out ahead of us and the 2 other clubmates had gained a fair bit of ground on us now. It felt as if I was just enduring these couple of miles mid-race, almost zoning out and the pace showed it as it started to slow up a little. I was glad to have AS working with me here as every now and then one would tire and we’d inject a little pace and drag each other along.
Mile 7 – 5:42
Starting to work very hard here and the wind wasn’t helping us one bit. Though not a word was spoken, we got into a routine of taking turns in the wind, switching every few minutes and this made these middle miles at least somewhat manageable. I really felt every drag here but with every step I was getting closer to the finish line so I knew I just had to hang in there, the pain is temporary. I had to remind myself a lot that this is why I train.
Mile 8 – 5:46
Miles 6-8 was the most difficult patch of the day and indeed this was the slowest mile of the day with the drags really taking a lot out of us, can’t say I recall much of it. I gave myself a mental milestone of 8 miles though and the last 2 always seem suddenly very manageable when you get there.
Mile 9 – 5:35
So we hit mile 8 and just 2 left. I hadn’t been watching the splits but I knew we had been slowing throughout the 2nd half, I wanted a strong finish. I actually started feeling good here for once today, I’m not sure what triggered it but better late than never. I picked up the pace a bit and started gaining a few meters on AS. I had noticed us gaining on a lone runner up ahead for a while and we finally caught him early in this mile. It was fellow club runner who had gone out a bit quick and was fading. Passing someone you know is never enjoyable but passing anyone regardless always gives you a little lift. I was feeling good and confident I’d hold this until the finish so on I motored.
Mile 10 – 5:30
I now had a bit of a lead on AS and as the watch ticked onto 9 miles I had a glance, 50:30 was the time it read and a quick calculation told me I had to run a 5:30 or quicker to dip under 56. I passed another fading runner here who I remembered from the early miles and had a considerable gap on us. Another boost for me but I was seriously putting everything into it now. Quick glance at the watch and half a mile to go, I was actually gaining on the 2 lads ahead of me a Barrs runner and another clubmate. I was breathing so heavy, audible grunts emanating but I was almost there, hanging by a thread. I knew AS wasn’t far behind, I could hear the footsteps but I wasn’t giving up this position. The finish finally came into view, I saw the watch ticking and knew it was going to be a close one to dip under 56. I gave it my all over the last few meters and made a dash for it but alas it wasn’t to be today. 56:01 it read as I looked down. I wasn’t disappointed, I knew I had given it my everything today and it was more relief to be over the line having knocked almost a minute off my PB. AS came in about 8 seconds behind me and I was straight over to show my appreciation for his effort in making it easier for both of us.
Overall, yeah I would have hoped to be quicker but that’s the time I ran and I don’t think I could have done much more. Always take the positives and that’s what I’m doing. Nabbed a PB, raced it well, almost top 10 and finished strong. Considering I’m coming off the back of some high milage marathon training I reckon I’m in a pretty good place and it’s given me a lot of belief for the upcoming marathon.
Suddenly the 54:30 target I set for 10 miles seems like a long way off but I’ll definitely be revisiting the distance again this year and we’ll see how close I can get.
I managed to fit 19.5 miles into the day with the warmup/cooldown and then I met some Rotterdam clubmates in the evening for a very leisurely 5+ miles.
Summary: 10 miles in 56:02 @ 5:36 min/mile