Race Report: BHAA VMware 5k

This one fitted the schedule pretty well, I’m trying to run races on days I would normally run a session so they’re not impacting a typical weeks training too much. I know how much I improved last summer when focussing on shorter stuff and a big factor was regular racing.

Having chatted to a few club members who ran this same course recently, I knew it wasn’t super fast and there were a few pulls but again I was more interested in a good race and not so much the time. I have my eye on some 5k’s later in the summer where I’d hope to be setting PBs, the times will come naturally as long as I continue improving and racing.

Beautiful evening in Cork so with an 8pm throw in, I arrived to Ballincollig just after 7pm, picked up a number and met a few friends and warmed up around the GAA pitches. This was a BHAA race and a healthy crowd of about 380 turned up for this one. The start was pretty congested so I lined up at the front as we prepared to tackle a 500m climb staring at us.

Mile 1 – 5:12
The corporate lady from VMWare made the hooter hoot so off we went, elbows everywhere. I got out well just behind a group of navy lads (wearing navy singlets and they’re actually in the navy, what are the chances). About 100 meters in I heard what sounded like a set of Ford Focus car keys hitting the ground. SHI!T!!! Those were my car keys!! I only have one set, should I stop? What about the race? But I only have one set. Oh I’m gone too far now somebody will pick them up. But what if..this sequence ran through my head for essentially the rest of the race and to be fair did help take my mind off the 500m climb which I didn’t realise was over until I could barely breath at the top of it. The good news was though that I was sitting in 2nd and just ahead of me was a Leevale clubmate and navy representative, I wouldn’t mess with him. I’m not far behind him in training so I figured I’ll be doing well to keep close. We now had a bit of respite as we hit a downhill and I was gradually overtaken here by 2 guys, black and green singlet. I was now sitting in 4th and going at a decent clip hitting the first mile in 5:12. Had a glance at the watch and while that was pretty satisfactory, I wasn’t feeling good at all though, that first hill had hit me hard. A mile in and I felt like stopping – HTFU man!

Mile 2 – 5:31
Tipping along with the lads now extending a bit of a gap on me and I had a lot of company right behind me, maybe 5-6 runners. We turned back towards the village and this is where the climb begins. I’m still feeling like hell and actually wondering would it be ok to drop out now, I’ve done enough haven’t I? Ridiculous. I was working very hard up the drag and got overtaken by white singlet but I stayed very close not wanting him to get away. We were running along the main road in the bike lane and a green car was moving very slowly alongside me. I glanced in passenger window and saw some regular people just sitting there, it looked good. I wished I was just sitting. Why am I doing this to myself? We finally hit the 2nd mile mark and I am seriously struggling. Glanced at the watch to see 5:31 and I couldn’t have cared less I just wanted that finish line so badly.

Mile 3 – 5:06
If somebody had told me right there I was about to run a 5:06 mile I would have actually given them a large sum of money and betted against myself. Another nice little downhill after all that climbing and I momentarily gathered myself before another brief climb but this time I found myself powering past white singlet but my breathing was so heavy and extremely audible. With about half a mile to go white singlet was still stuck to me and a few other footsteps were audible just behind him. 1st and 2nd runners had a fair gap on me now but I was actually slowly reeling in green singlet in 3rd who had previously a pretty sizeable gap on me. I wasn’t sure how this was possible as I felt if anything I was slowing but we weren’t far from home now lets just keep motoring. Another small climb arrived and with white still very close I figured this was my chance to drop him. I mustered a bit of energy from somewhere and powered up the drag. It was working, I was getting away and while my primary focus was the finish line, I really wanted to hang onto my spot. We got to the top of the 500m hill that we climbed at the start and it was all downhill from here.

Green singlet (not his real name) and I battle it out on the final straight

Green singlet (not his real name) and I battle it out on the final straight

I found myself within touching distance of green singlet and without really thinking about it I passed him just starting the decent. He stuck to me like a pancake (stuck on a non-stick pan) and I was working the hardest I have ever had in a race. I knew the line wasn’t far and it could not come sooner, I had dribble all over my face and I must have sounded like an escaped animal with my grunts. Green singlet had other ideas and wanted his place back, I was on the verge of blowing and to be fair to him he fought hard and edged me with about 200m before the line. I had given everything possible and I couldn’t respond. Very frustrating but that was short lived because when I looked at the clock ticking onto 16:10 I couldn’t believe my eyes. Holy crap, really?? Is this right? I’m actually on for a PB here. The pain, it was all worth it. I crossed the line a pathetic mess in 16:18 and I was absolutely FÚCKED. I actually wobbled and got very dizzy, I tried my best to congratulate the lads around me but all I wanted was to lie down. Which I did. What a relief.

Summary: 5k in 16:18 @ 5:16 min/mile

5k Pain.

5k Pain.

Hands down toughest race of my life. This was seriously a new level of pain I have never experienced in a race before, more confined to my cardiovascular system than my legs even though they were in complete overdrive too. In hindsight I’m glad it happened because it feels like I pushed through a new barrier that will stand to me in the future. I picked up a small voucher for my efforts and enjoyed a nice cooldown in the solitude of the Ballincollig regional park drowned in the evening sun, that was so enjoyable. Bumped into our own ViperLogic afterwards too so was nice to finally put face to username, lovely fellow, ran a great race himself and picked up a team prize. As always flawless organisation by the Cork BHAA, how can you go wrong for €5!

I couldn’t be happier that result, a PB was a complete surprise and I didn’t expect to be taking 30 seconds off my last 5k in such a short time on probably a harder course. I’m happy with how I battled the urge to stop and I know what I’m capable of now. It’s becoming more evident to me now how important the mental side of racing is and it can only be tuned by actual racing, you can’t learn this in session. I’m feeling good about running a sub 16 5k this summer and I think this episode has done me the world of good, I really believe it’s there for me now as long as I stay injury free and put in the sessions.

Major omission. I got my car keys back, a very kind steward had picked them up and returned to me after the race. #relief

Race Report: Strawberry 5 Mile 2015

Early rise for the long drive from Cork to Enniscorthy, mixing a race in with a visit to the folks. 2 birds one stone. I arrived with plenty of time on a calm sunny morning, perfect conditions. The half marathon had just headed off so I got a 2 mile jog in and was feeling relatively good. Lined up in the field of about 200 runners and it was time to go.

Pre race expectations? A PB was a given with my only other 5 mile a 29:46 back in 2013. I knew the standard wouldn’t be terribly high so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hopeful of a win and a top 3 at the very least. Time wasn’t a factor today, I know the course is hilly with some long drags so this would be all about getting a good result and more racing experience.

Mile 1
Bang. Off we go. SC runner charged to the front and I sat in just behind. Was feeling pretty good and eased myself into 1st position and pushed on a bit to see who would come. Midway through the first mile it was just myself and another local runner (NS) didn’t know who he was at the time. I was still out front and comfortable enough though the first mile was pretty flat. Passed the mile marker and glanced at the watch, around 5:22 if I recall.

Mile 2
Now the fun begins and by fun I mean not fun. After the first mile marker we were faced with a sharp incline then turned right onto a long drag which went on for the guts of the next mile. I was feeling ok, NS was still right on my shoulder and breathing comfortably. I knew this was going to be a close one. I also knew at this stage who he was as I heard a spectator call his name, quality runner and last years winner. I was quite happy to have someone actually, it was going to be a proper race, exactly what I wanted. Passed the 2 mile marker but the watch didn’t beep for ages after it and 5:5x popped up. Ah jesus just forget about the time and race Conor!! To be fair I didn’t check the watch for the remainder of the race after that, I’m getting better

Mile 3
The drag levelled off and I found myself feeling very comfortable and wondering if it was at all possible to drop this fella. I surged every now and then to test him but he kept coming with me and I had a feeling he was waiting for his moment though slightly annoying that he was sitting on my shoulder. Going pretty steady now and I was feeling confident. We turned left after the lead car and headed for home but not before tackling another drag leading into mile 4.

Mile 4
The legs were starting to scream a little here and pace again was pulled right back as we tackled the tough drag. Suddenly and unexpectedly, NS made a move which ended up being decisive. I didn’t even think twice, I had to go with him but was really struggling. We were barely into the 4th mile and I knew I couldn’t sustain this effort. I was breathing very heavily and had to back off but maybe I could have been tougher here. He had a gap now but I had still upped the effort and was holding it. Around halfway through the mile I realised why he had just done what he did. A massive downhill section for the remainder of the mile which was super fast and very much welcomed, I just let the legs do the work but NS had a big gap on me now and I knew I had a lot of work to do. It gave me some time to recover from the surge but I was almost resigned to 2nd place. I didn’t throw in towel though and I wanted to put in a strong finish.

Mile 5
Must have been running around 5:20 pace by now, working extremely hard to close the gap but he had too much on me at this stage. On our way back through the town and now aching for that finish line. I was happy with my effort today in that I didn’t just accept 2nd and I fought right until the end. The gap wasn’t getting any bigger but I have to hand it to NS as he timed that move to perfection and executed it brilliantly. I don’t mind losing to someone who was just simply better and I can learn a lot from runners like that, someone who know how to race. Finally got to the line 27 seconds behind the winner and that mile just flew by but I was fit to drop. I was pretty happy to see 27:4x on the clock, a satisfactory time given the course profile and another good result on my 2nd race back.

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First mile with Niall Sheil right behind me.

Summary: 5 miles in  27:43 @ 5:36 min/mile

Full Results

Overall another step in the right direction but lacking that extra gear right now. I know it’ll come so patience required, and training, lots of training!

Race Report: Kilcredan 5k

Preface: If you’re looking for a Rotterdam 2015 race report, I’m sorry but it didn’t happen. It’s a long story that doesn’t require too much detail but in short I missed it because I developed a very VERY painful pilonidal cyst days before the race so I had to fly home and get immediate surgery. No running for about 3 weeks followed by a slow but steady return to fitness. This was my first race back.

Let’s continue…

I know I’m far from ideal race shape having essentially ran easy for 4 weeks since coming back but with an eye on the Strawberry 5 miler in 2 weeks I was keen to get a race under the belt to to get that feeling into the body again. I really didn’t expect a win but to be honest the standard was poor and I expected some of the top East Cork lads to turn up. That said, to get the win and run better than I anticipated felt great, it’s done wonders for my motivation. I’m confident when I hit the track again and with some hard work I can get the 5k under 16 mins by the end of the summer.

Pre race
About a 50 min drive to Ballymacoda, a lovely village in east Cork where the whole community was out and there was a great atmosphere in the air on this sunny and slightly breezy Friday evening. I was feeling very tired and sluggish and was worried the 30 min jog earlier and week abroad would catch up with me. Registered and then jogged around the GAA pitches for 15 mins where effort was really forced. Still I didn’t worry too much, just relaxed and kept telling myself there’s no pressure, it’s just a race to see where I’m at and to try see it as a hard session. Race was scheduled to start at 8pm so got down to the line with a few minutes to spare, big crowd with over 300 ready to go. I didn’t spot any of the top Cork runners so I started to think I maybe have a chance to pick up a prize today if I run a decent race. The loose plan was to hold 5:30’s and get in under 17 mins. I lined up near the front on a narrow country road and tried to relax before the gun went.

Mile 1 – 5:20
Whoah, this was a shock to the system. About 8-10 runners flew ahead of me and the pace really caught me by surprise. Immediate thoughts of not being able to sustain this pace hit me, which is ridiculous after 30 seconds but that’s why I wanted to race, to harden up the mind a little. Soon I settled in and started to make ground on the group, checked the watch and satisfied to see 5:20 pace. I found myself in 4th around half way through the first mile and really starting to relax into it. The lead van had a guy commentating which was hilarious and really entertained me throughout the race. I wasn’t wearing my singlet so never got a mention for the first while. I was keeping a steady pace but the 2nd and 3rd runners were slowing already and I naturally eased past them and caught right up to the 1st runner from Youghal. Suddenly my mindset switches and I’m all about winning this race, time didn’t matter and I didn’t look at the watch for the remainder of the race from this point. I took the lead just before the first mile and Youghal sticks to my shoulder. The van calls 5:12 for the first mile, but my watch doesn’t beep until 5:20, hmm. I’ll take the 5:12!

Mile 2 – 5:29
Really feeling in control here and running pretty smoothly but Yougal is still sticking right on my shoulder. Mile 2 was tough, we hit a difficult climb just before half way and then turned into a pretty tough headwind. I started to gain a few yards here but effort was increasing. The guy in the van eventually got my name and club here and then went on to repeat it for the remainder of the race, it was pretty cool to be honest. Hit 2 miles in 10:50 and as he shouted the split I knew I had slowed slightly but still the focus was dropping Youghal and by the end of the mile I had started opening a gap on him.

Mile 3 – 5:20
As always the hurt really starts in mile 3. We turned into the finish straight and some respite from the wind. I was breathing heavy but still holding a decent pace and the determination to see this out and hold onto 1st was strong. The guy in the van was keeping me updated I was still opening the gap, about 150 meters now. Around halfway through, I could see the GAA clubhouse come into view. I knew I had the win, had no idea of my time and I was clinging on but I wasn’t going to relax and wanted a strong finish. The last mile seemed to fly by, bit of a climb coming into the finish but the whole village was out cheering and really brought a smile (internally). I crossed in 16:48 and pretty satisfied with that time everything considered. Thoroughly satisfying and well worth the trip out though that sort of time shouldn’t really merit a win especially when you consider the last 2 winners were 15:09 and 15:21. There’s a lot of work to be done but I’m ready for it.

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Great to be back racing. Look how happy I am.

Summary: 5k in 16:48 @ 5:22 min/mile

I headed around the course again for a cooldown jog with a couple of friends. Much nicer this time around. The presentation didn’t happen until 9:30pm and again kind of cringy the fact I got a huge plaque with the previous winning times on it. Makes me want to come back next year and post a cracking time to defend it. Great event overall for 8 euro, love these small community affairs where everyone pulls together to help out, super spread afterwards. It’s a decent course but there is quicker around, still as I said I’ll definitely be back and that’s a better than expected return to racing.

Race Report: Mallow 10 mile

56:02 (chip) and 11th overall

Full Results

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

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New Year, Same me

So the calendar has flipped from 2014 to 2015 and what’s changed? Well not a lot really. My goals are still the same, my hunger to succeed as high as always and I still have that scar on my chin. Ok, maybe I had a few too many quality street but that can be remedied. As the Rotterdam marathon (April) menacingly creeps onto my radar, the focus now switches from building a solid base over the last 2 months to upping the intensity and working back in the club sessions. I feel very strong now having gradually built back up the milage since the Dublin marathon using a Lydiard styled structure. I’m up to about 75 miles a week now having racked up plenty of aerobic based running performed at various paces. The general weekly structure was 3 easy/recovery days, 1 moderate effort, 2 long runs and a hard tempo effort to prevent (or at least reduce) the loss of speed.

There’s a huge wealth of talent from Leevale making the trip to Rotterdam, the majority already sub 2:40 runners making me one of the slowest. I think this is a great thing from my perspective. Training with athletes faster than you is a big advantage. Even if you can’t keep up in sessions, you can see them ahead of you, they’re there and that’s the level you need to get to. My target is simply to crack 2:40 so by surrounding myself with these guys and training with them I’m giving myself the best opportunity to do so. When you think about it, applied to any scenario, when you work with a group of positive, likeminded individuals who support each other and have a single common goal, you generally increase your chances of success…generally.

And finally, a copy and paste job from my boards.ie training log where I recently posted a summary of my 2014 year.

2014 – Year in Review

Well, what a year. To say I exceeded expectations is an understatement. I had put my running on hold for most of 2013 to go travelling but I came back with my hunger intact and without really thinking I jumped right into a marathon plan which set the ball rolling for 2014. Here’s my summary…

January saw me just gradually build milage back up and I surprisingly adapted quite quickly. I ran a 5k to see where I was at, 18:44 at the Westport parkrun (and my only win to date). I’d obviously lost some sharpness as expected but it was a starting point. I was working off a custom plan from my Donore coach which was fairly gruelling in hindsight given my lack of fitness. A couple of niggles here and there but I managed the miles quite well and up to 18 miles long run by the end of the month.

February saw no racing but just consistent training with a couple of 20+ milers and clocking about 65 miles a week and getting stronger week by week. Going a little insane living at home with the parents so the job hunt intensifies.

March saw me move to Cork to live and work. It also saw me run my first proper race of the year and I was delighted with a 1:21:40 in the Bohermeen 1/2 which was a 3 minute PB and I felt the training was really working. Ran my highest volume week ever (80 miles) and followed that with probably my favourite race of the year at the Mallow 10. My first 10 miler and not sure what to aim for but completely surprised myself and my coach with a 58:43, a huge improvement on the 1/2 marathon and feeling in great shape for the marathon.

April arrives and it’s marathon time. I picked up an achilles injury in late March which mean the taper weeks saw no sessions and only easy running. Still I went into the race confident but it all went wrong on the day and I limped home in 2:59:09, a long way off the sub 2:50 target. I made a few mistakes during the race in terms of strategy and hydration but looking back it was a poor decision to train for a marathon so soon without any sort of aerobic base to work off. I raced a good 10 miler but the endurance was simply not there for a marathon. Positives were still taken, good training bagged, injury free, pride intact and lessons learned. Decided to join local club Leevale having had a chat with the coach and ran my first session with them 2 weeks after the marathon.

In May I trained well with the club for a few weeks before running my first 4 miler in Fota Island coming home 8th in 22:40 and confidence coming back. Milage was low enough but speed was the focus as I targeted a 5k PB over the summer months. I ran a 5k in the last week of May to see where I was at. 16:54 was the result and overwhelmed with the improvement in such a short time. I now knew joining the club was a very important decision.

I continued the good form in June running 1:18:40 in the Cork 1/2 Marathon on the 2nd. I had full confidence in the coach, was flying in sessions and I seemed to thrive on the energy from other runners around the club, there’s an incredible breadth of talent and the motivation to improve was high. 2 more 5k’s followed, a 17:02 in blistering heat (6th place) followed by a 16:44 good enough for 3rd place. Weekly milage up to 65 but still the focus was mainly on speed and getting that 5k time down.

July would see me start the transition to marathon training as DCM in October crept onto my radar. Still plenty of time for racing and I ran my final and best 5k of the year, an extremely satisfying 16:27 and I was happy to part with that particular distance for the remainder of the year. Next it was off to Killarney where I came 2nd in the 1/2 marathon in 1:16:17, another very enjoyable race and a big confidence booster before jumping into some marathon specific sessions while upping the milage.

I look back over the year and see August and September as my strongest months. I started working up to 35 mins tempo efforts on the track, coupled with 2 long runs and a hard Saturday session. Milage was up to around 80 and the month culminated with a good run at the Frank Duffy 10 miler clocking 56:57.

September was my highest month in terms of volume and probably the performance of the year too with the Charleville half marathon running another PB of 1:15:40, a long way from the 1:21 I ran back in March. I spent the first week warm weather training in Portugal and maybe the best session of the year, a 10/9/8/7/6 min track effort in heat, on my own. Highest milage week of the year too clocking an 89, bloody hell wasn’t September just wonderful.

I started October in great spirit but picked up an achilles injury 3 weeks out (only dawned on my now,very same as Rotterdam hmm) so I missed a couple of days and then spent a week running no sessions. This didn’t dramatically affect me, I recovered and ran the county intermediates XC race coming 8th and winning the team gold a week before the main event. I went into the Dublin marathon feeling confident and capable of running in the low 2:40’s. The race went very well, despite extremely windy and humid weather conditions out of my control, I came home in 2:46:59 and 66th overall and I reckon worth a couple of minutes quicker in better conditions. Very satisfying outcome to a brilliant training block and really at that stage I had achieved everything I wanted for the year.

November was all about recovery. I gradually built back up the miles and restricted myself to 1 tempo session a week but getting good volume in. The focus is now on Rotterdam in April 2015 and building a solid foundation for that over the next 10-12 weeks is the plan.

I ran my last race of the year in early December, my 5th half marathon of the year in Waterford. I was well recovered from Dublin but didn’t PB, I ran a 1:16:40 which was ok but mentally I didn’t really believe I would PB. I continued the rest of December working up the milage again focussing on a good aerobic base for when I hit the marathon specific sessions in early 2015. Solid month and finished the year feeling strong and hungry, no starving for more improvements in 2015.

What went well?
– PB’s all over the shop
– Only 6 days out due to injury
– Consistency, and more consistency
– Joined a great club with a great coach
– Enjoying my running more than ever
– Nutrition was overhauled, fuelling smartly after sessions

What can be improved?
– More variety of races, no 5 milers, 10ks or track of any sort
– Core/Strength work wasn’t consistent enough though I’m back to 3 times a week for Nov/Dec
– Less sitting with the pack in sessions, don’t be afraid to take it on
– Be less concerned with stats, run more without the watch and focus on feel
– Stop making milage a distinctive metric of my progress. Recovery weeks and backing off is ok.

Racing Summary

 

Goals for 2015

5k: 15:45
10k: 32:30
5m: 26:00
10m: 54:30
1/2: 72:30
Marathon: 2:35:00

They’re lofty no doubt about it but goals shouldn’t be easy. Looking at last year, I had most of my goals achieved before 6 months so while I want to keep them somewhat realistic, I want them to be well outside my current abilities. This way I will have to work even harder to achieve them and I really have to believe I can.

Ok that’s a good short and concise summary, we’ll leave it there.

Farewell 2014, you’ve been great. Now 2015, let me have it!

Race Report: Waterford Half Marathon

I saw this race and impulsively entered a few months ago. At 25 euro a pop, a great reputation and a free hat, how could I resist. Jenny also signed up, it being her first half marathon so we decided to make a weekend of it staying the the nearby Viking hotel.

I figured I’d be well recovered from the marathon by this stage (5 weeks) and to be honest I feel I pretty much am recovered with just slight tiredness lingering. I’ve done just a total of 3 tempo sessions since the marathon with the rest being milage, milage and more milage. The plan for me is to focus on building a strong aerobic base until February before tackling marathon training again. I came into this race not really knowing what to expect but prepared for all eventualities. I’m already pleased with my performance this year and target have been exceeded so there was no huge pressure on me for this one, mainly out to enjoy it but if I was feeling good I was prepared to work hard and try nab a PB.

I got a 2 mile warmup done on what was a pretty decent morning for a race, there was a drop of rain just before the start but stayed dry throughout. We got to the start line at WIT sports campus just minutes before the start so no hanging around in the cold. I took my place a couple of rows behind the start with some Leevale club mates. After some formalities and a speech by the mayor, none of which registered with me, the gun went and off we shot. It was a quick start down hill and my plan to start conservatively was immediately out the window though I did settle into a more sensible pace once we levelled out. The trio of club mates had packed and I considered going with them but opted not to and just run my own race.

Miles 1-3

I was running well within myself for the first mile and it felt very comfortable with a 5:50 popping up but a little misleading with the quick downhill start. Then the 2nd mile came, horrible uphill drag and suddenly I was working harder so I backed off the pace a little, the aim being to worry less about the pace today and keep effort consistent. I gradually worked in with a group and once over the hill we upped the pace and hit mile 3 feeling very comfortable.

Mile 1: 5:50
Mile 2: 6:09
Mile 3: 5:39

Miles 4-6

We headed into an industrial estate, spectacular scenery, there were factories of all sizes. There was another drag here and combined with the headwind, pace again dropped but kept effort consistent. I started breaking away from the group here, not a conscious decision as it really didn’t bother me if I was in a group or not today. Once out of the industrial estate it was into the countryside and this was a nice patch as I relaxed and just let my legs dictate a comfortable pace. I definitely felt I wasn’t working as hard as I could have been, compared to say Charleville a couple of month. To be honest there was no drive to really push hard, probably because at this stage I knew a PB wasn’t on the cards, I was still working and wanted a decent time but was just trying to enjoy it more than anything.

Mile 4: 6:00
Mile 5: 5:47
Mile 6: 5:41

Miles 7-9

My splits were already quite erratic but that reflects the mildly undulating course. This being my first time doing the race, I had no idea what to expect around every corner which in a way was good as I working on effort levels rather than pace. Mile 7 wasn’t very enjoyable, another drag and my legs were tiring a little so I backed off but then for mile 8 and 9 I felt an injection of pace and picked it right up again. The slow mile 7 had allowed the previous group reattach before we broke up into a smaller group again and I worked in step with a couple of Waterford AC runners. The back roads were pretty tough on the calf muscles and I found myself weaving around the country roads avoiding the potholes and trying to find decent terrain. Coming up to 9 miles I was still feeling ok and felt confident enough to see it home at the current effort.

Mile 7: 6:07
Mile 8: 5:45
Mile 9: 5:50

Miles 10-13.1

Mile 10 was pretty comfy and I was thinking great I’ll just ease it home for the next 3. Then for mile 11 we turned into a headwind and a drag and I was knocked back a little. A group caught me again which is strange as I’m not used to moving between groups so much, usually if I leave a group I’m determined to stay abreast of them but today I was ok with it, knowing I’d be able to pick it up again. I did pick it up again on mile 12 and I pulled away keeping a good steady effort all the way to the end and really enjoying the last downhill mile clocking a 5:36. The Waterford AC lads had gone well ahead of me but I didn’t put on a chase. I crossed the line 22nd in 1:16:46 feeing pretty satisfied with the effort knowing I could have offered a little more.

Mile 10: 5:50
Mile 11: 6:01
Mile 12: 5:52
Mile 13: 5:36

Summary: 13.1 miles in 1:16:46 @ 5:51 min/mile

10850584_10205445980378855_69257535_nThere’s somehow still an air of disappointment in that I held out a little hope of a PB but given the year I’ve had I can’t complain too much. I’m finishing the year with a 75:40 PB for the half, a time I would have grabbed with both hands last January. I think it’s been my best distance this year and having raced 5 of them in 2014 it’s quickly becoming one of my favourite, can’t wait to see what I can do with it next year.

Oh and Jenny finished her first half in a very respectable 1:42, apparently loving every step of the way, even the drags. Sandbagger.

So that’s likely it in terms of racing for the year and until February as I continue to build a solid foundation for Rotterdam in April (this is going to turn into one boring training log). A great race overall, enjoyable (for the most part, drags made me a little sad) and extremely well organised, super spread and met some friendly faces, love the hat too.

Race Report: Dublin Marathon 2014

Well while it’s still fresh, time to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) for my 4th marathon experience.

Background
This would be my 2nd marathon attempt this year having had a bit of a nightmare in Rotterdam a few months ago in April. After joining Leevale I had a good summer of training and racing behind me with a recent half of 75:40 suggesting I could run in the low 2:40’s on a good day. The target was flexible but sub 2:45 would have been satisfactory.

Preparation
Couldn’t really have done anything much different in terms of preparation. I had a good taper (if anything I might look at shortening this in the future), a flexible target in my mind and was much more prepared for all eventualities than last time. I arrived in Dublin the evening before, got the number and headed out for a bite to eat with a clubmate. I took on slightly more carbs than usual the day before but on the whole stuck to my typical diet all week which is not heavy on carbs and I planned on heading out on empty just like I had done in my long runs. I was pretty relaxed the night before, I looked over the training log and asserted myself I’d done the hard work. I got to bed by 12am and had a good sleep so no complaints about preparation.

Race Day
I woke up at 7am and met up with clubmate Darragh for a light jog at 7:15am, a nice 20 mins stroll around Ballsbridge and it was pretty evident it was going to be a breezy day yet very mild out also. We got back to the hotel where I had an espresso and got changed into my gear. I threw a sachet of dioralyte salts into my pocket and that was all I planned on taking during the race. We walked down to the line as I ate a banana and the atmosphere was really building. I was nice and relaxed and we made our way to the start line early, getting there 15 minutes before the start. I threw my long sleeve top off a few minutes before the start and then bang! DCM is suddenly underway.

Miles 1-5
The first few miles felt nice and easy and we stuck well to our plan of taking it out conservatively. There was as always loads of runners around who should have been further back but congestion was very manageable. I saw a friend Anthony rounding the first corner and gave him a shout so he tucked in with myself and Darragh for the first few miles, we were nice and relaxed and able to have a chat. A lot of people flew out of the traps, must have been well over 200 places back but my coach had drilled it into me to start out nice and easy and that patience would be key. The first 3 miles were sheltered, flat and pretty comfortable and was feeling like I might have a good day. We headed by Heuston and into the Phoenix park just after 3 miles. While pace slowed, we kept the effort nice and consistent and I felt I managed this section quite well. It was important to back off a bit here being so early on in the race and knowing there were more drags to come. I first started to realise that the wind was going to play a significant role today with the crosswind almost sending my bib number flying a few times.

Splits 
1. 6:19
2. 6:08
3. 6:15
4. 6:26
5. 6:19

Miles 5-10
Anthony had dropped just behind myself and Darragh and another runner from Carrig-on-Shannon joined us as we pushed through the last couple of miles into Castleknock. We had a nice momentum and kicked on in the downhill and I felt really good here opening up the legs and taking a nice breather. Back into the park where we kept the pace going and out into Chapelizod where I got some great support from the Donore water stand. I made sure to take water at every station and this made a huge difference today. We crossed Chapelizod bridge but I noticed Darragh had dropped a little behind me. I fell back to see if he was ok but he was complaining of stomach issues and didn’t look the best. He backed off and sadly that was the beginning of the end of his race as he pulled out shortly after. I found myself alone on the drag up to Kilmainham hitting 10 miles and feeling very strong and in control. I was soaking up all the amazing support up until now, it was actually unreal at times (particularly Castleknock) and sent shivers through my spine, Dublin take a bow son. I had a couple of mates cycling around the course who made a few appearances throughout and it was again a huge confidence booster, it all adds up on the day.

Splits
6. 6:16
7. 6:16
8. 6:06
9. 6:11
10. 6:12

Miles 10-15
I had good momentum coming into Kilmainham and keeping the effort and pace consistent. I kept a keen eye on my HR all day making sure it never drifted too far especially on drags and windy areas. I was pretty much solo with no group in sight to latch onto. I took my dioralyte sachet at a water station around 11 miles in and this time I actually got it into my mouth, not the ground. At this stage I had passed and was continuing to pass a few people and confidence was high, a lot of people seemed to already be paying for perhaps hitting the drag in the Phoenix park too hard. I turned onto the Crumlin road and while I knew it was going to be a difficult drag, I had no idea how bad the wind would be here. I hit half way in 1:22:3x, a minute or so off the target but I felt like I had ran that half sensibly and had plenty more to give, the hope was to kick on and put in a good negative split for the 2nd half. However, once I went through the halfway mark, I knew a few minutes were about to be lost. The wind was right in your face and combined with the drag, it didn’t make pretty reading for the splits. This is where I resigned myself to the fact a sub 2:45 probably wasn’t on the cards and a low 2:40 was out of the question. I had to realign my target to basically just run the best remainder of the race I could given the circumstances. I was so determined not to make the same mistakes I did in Rotterdam so I backed off the pace here slightly and kept hydrating at every station. A runner from Crusaders tagged along here for a mile or so, he is actually a friend of my sisters and we worked well together before he dropped off the pace around 15 miles.

Splits
11. 6:18
12. 6:12
13. 6:27
14. 6:32
15. 6:24

Miles 15-20
I got through what was in my opinion probably the most difficult section of the course somewhat unscathed and felt an immediate weight lift off my shoulders. The wind had died and the gradient levelled so I picked up the pace slightly on Cromells Fort/Kimmage rd. I was tipping along nicely, a few runners scattered ahead and I seemed to be making good ground on them, a lot of people fading along here. I got a nice shout from a couple of friends who live around here area and it was nice to see people you recognise along the course. I think it was around mile 17 where I started to feel fatigue myself, it was a low point for sure and doubts crossed my mind, was this the beginning of my end? I had to reassure myself it was just a low point, I know at this stage that the marathon is like a roller coaster in terms of how you feel. I just had to get through it and it eventually passed. I got to Templeogue road and maybe it was the unbelievable support there but I picked it up and got back into my Rhythm. I was still feeling the fatigue accumulating still but spirits were high and I was holding a decent pace. Miles 19 and 20 were pretty quick as I felt great coming through Orwell park and into Milltown. The crowds again here, what can I say, just unbelievable. So that was it, 20 miles. My plan was to get to this point in one piece and I was feeling ok, what did I have left for the last 10k? Well if you read on you’ll probably find out.

Splits
16. 6:13
17. 6:22
18. 6:17
19. 6:08
20. 6:13

Miles 20-Finish
I came out of Milltown and knew I had one last drag to tackle, Clonskeagh road all the way up to Dublin’s tame counterpart of ‘Heartbreak Hill’. I first started noticing the heat on this drag here and pace was far from my target pace but I knew not to go chasing it. It was all about getting home not only in one piece but as efficiently as possible. Mile 22 was my slowest yet (6:37) and as I approached the top of Roebuck hill, thoughts of a catastrophe consumed me. The watch ticked onto 23 miles and my pace was slowing rapidly, 7+ min/mile. Thoughts of Rotterdam and the gradual disintegration flooded my mind but I had to fight them away. I slowed to almost a stop at the top of the hill before gathering myself and looking down the hill. 3 miles to go, felt like a big ask but I started working the legs again and I said I’m going to just hang in there. I just wanted to get to the line, I’d take 7 min miles from here in, I started feeling drained. Suddenly I found myself back in a bit of a groove, the legs were working again though my mind was still fighting them. I was back in the 6:30’s and that was more than satisfactory. I started catching and passing a few people but I was starting to ache badly too. Heading onto Nutley lane I got a great shout from some Leevale club members who were up supporting for the day, gave me a fantastic boost and the shout of “2 miles to go” really hit home, what’s 2 miles at this stage? I got into Ballsbridge, memory starting to fade here as I was really hanging on for dear life and really feeling the heat. Somehow the pace was still ok but my form was ridiculous, someone told me I looked like I was on drugs when they saw me over the last 2 miles. I saw my Dad here who gave me a great shout but I could barely muster a thumbs up. Mile 25 was my new slowest (6:39) but somehow I pulled a 6:30 out of the bag on mile 26. I wanted to stop more than anything in the world and I was yearning for that finish line to come into sight. I was out on my own and the crowd was almost deafening but it felt like a hand on my shoulder pushing me over the line. As I turned onto Mount street I saw a cruel, cruel sign indicating 800 meters to go. All I could think was 2 laps of the track, how am I going to do that? 800 suddenly became 400, the crowd blowing my mind and I was like a rag doll limping towards the line. Suddenly the finish line became a reality, I stepped over that mat a proud man and managed a small celebration to cross in 2:46:59 and 66th overall. Job done. Any water?

Splits
21. 6:20
22. 6:37
23. 6:22
24. 6:25
25. 6:29
26. 6:30
27. 2:42 (0.4 miles)

26.4 miles in 2:46:59 @ 6:20 min/mile

A friend of mine who works in media was at the finish line and gave me a shout. In my delirium I gave her the weirdest look as I staggered toward the medal and bag area gasping for water. I finally sat down around the corner with a guy who was just behind me, funnily enough had never met him but we follow each other on Strava. Was good to have company here and we had a good moan before heading over to the bag collection area where I scoffed on some jellies and got some coke into me. My dad and sister were just there also and was brilliant to meet up with them straight away as the life seeped back into my bones. They got me a coffee and a cereal bar and I just sat on the ground and soaked it all in, a little smirk on my face. Though I was off my target by a good few minutes, my brother texted to tell me I was 66th and it was just then it hit me what a decent run that actually was. From 30k to the finish, I went from 134th place down to 66th, pretty pleasing.

I met up with Anthony in the pub after and a few other friends for a few delicious pints. I didn’t meet one person that hit their target and the constant theme seemed to be ‘that bloody wind/heat/drag’. It was by far the toughest marathon course I’ve ran and I’m proud that I persevered and I battled and came through on the other side, severely battered but I made it. I firmly believe the methodology my coach employed in training paid off here. He had us running killer session on a Saturday followed by a long run the next day so I had that feeling of running long with tiredness in my legs and I think it made a big difference, the hills around Cork didn’t do any harm either.

I’m very happy with my strategy today, I learned a lot from my last experience and I’m glad to see myself making sensible decisions mid-race where previously I would have ignored conditions and chased my target. Fuel-wise I think I got it right. I took the dioralyte sachet shortly after an hour, a couple of sips of lucozade throughout and took water at each station though I perhaps should have taken on more water closer to the end as the heat intensified. This was an 8 minute PB so I’m in no way disappointed with that time all things considered. I’m back on track of progressing my marathon times and really looking forward to having a crack at a sub 2:40 in the future. When and where that will be I haven’t yet decided but this episode hasn’t at all put me off the distance, if anything I’m hungrier for more. Thanks to everyone who made this such a special day, from the strangers cheering to all my family and friends who travelled, texted and phoned afterwards.

This is the physical manifestation of pain

Finally, this is the physical manifestation of pain

Race Report: Cork County Intermediate XC

I don’t want to talk about this for too long because the tears might break my keyboard. This was my 2nd XC race ever, my first being 2 years ago and I had obviously wiped that from my memory. This was quite the brutal reintroduction to XC but the good news is I made it through injury free, I helped the team to win gold but somehow I’m disappointed. I think I should have done better, mentally I wasn’t with it today, I didn’t fight enough and when I knew I had my place secured I was happy to just see it through.

The nightmare ends!

The nightmare ends!

It was a relatively dry but breezy Sunday morning out in the wilderness of the North Cork countryside, Castlelyons to be precise. Preparation wasn’t ideal, I was in Dublin on my brother stag last night, 2am by the time I got to sleep having had to carry himself home and then up at 6:30am to get the bus back to Cork. I didn’t drink too much but I did have toblerone cheesecake again in Luigi’s, I’m not sure if it’s the rocket fuel I once thought it was. Anyway the race was a pure slogfest. We kicked off at 12pm, into strong headwinds, tough, energy sapping climbs and mud (and cowsh!t) up to your eyeballs. The course was 8k, 2 x 1000m laps an 4 x 1500m laps. I went out too fast and by the 2nd lap I was already dying a death wondering how I’d get through the rest of it. I was sitting in 8th and had a good gap on the guy behind me. My clubmate was just ahead of me but I didn’t have the drive to stick with him and he gradually pulled away. I just persevered through the last 4 laps, I knew the pace was slowing but because I had such a gap behind me I didn’t push more than I had to. I did find a second wind coming to the end and made up some ground but If anything this was a really good burnout session before the marathon. I didn’t lose any places but I didn’t gain any either and we ended up taking the gold pretty comfortably placing 3rd, 5th, 6th and 8th. XC is a completely different animal to the road races and I will be approaching my next one with a little more caution at the start.

Anyway this wasn’t a goal race so not going to dwell on it too much, job done and on we go to the main event next week. Legs are about to be raised to a vertical position on the couch and shall remain there for the unforeseen future. Gold medal on my debut for Leevale, can’t complain too much.

8th place overall, 4th placer for Leevale (team gold)

Full Results

Conor, Andrew, Anthony and Owen

Conor, Andrew, Anthony and Owen

Race Report: Charleville Half Marathon

So up early and on the road to Charleville by 8:15am on a foggy Sunday morning. It was cold, so very cold but it was clear, not a breeze and perfect conditions for the race. I had a dioralye and the obligatory coffee before setting off and threw a banana into me about 30 mins before the race. I had a couple of friends staying down with me who were also doing the race so after registration we said our good lucks and off I set on a 2 mile warmup. I prefer to do my warmup alone giving me some headspace and time to focus, the quiet before the storm if you will. Target today was to finish in the 75’s, the pace for the recent 10 miler was 5:40 so I reckoned I could shoot for a 5:45 pace and if feeling good I’d push on in the latter stages. PB of 1:16:17 was set 2 months ago in Killarney so I expected at the least today to be setting a new PB.

Got back to the line with minutes to spare, met up with a flew clubmates and hopped in a couple of rows back. Seriously stacked race with some of Irelands finest standing right in front of me, it’s what makes this such a great race and almost spurs you to just knuckle down and get it done when you consider the blistering pace these guys will be going at.

Mile 1 -3

Bang went the hooter, I mean honnnnnk went the gun, well whatever it was we all started running. I quickly moved into step with clubmate DC, we’ve been doing a lot of sessions for DCM together so we’re in similar shape and it was almost assumed we’d work together for this one. We talked beforehand knowing the pace would be quick for the first downhill mile and to not get sucked into it, that plan suited me just fine. It did feel extremely easy for the first half mile and I was surprised to see a 5:30 pace. We naturally eased off as the route levelled out and hit a 5:40 for the first one feeling very comfortable. We gradually started catching a few quick starters but the field was pretty much settled by the 2nd mile, a group of 5-6 were just ahead of us including the 2nd and 3rd females. We clocked off pretty steady splits in the first 3 miles though by mile 3 I was working hard and I expected to be, it’s a half marathon after all.

Splits: 5:40, 5:46: 5:45

Mile 4 -6

The course is advertised as being flat and to be fair it’s flatter than most but not without its drags. I started feeling them in this section, the long stretches seemed never-ending and effort really started feeling hard though we were bang on target. Around the 5th mile we passed the group ahead of us who were all working very well together. I was pretty glad to have DC there, he was most definitely dictating the pace but I made a point of not sticking on his shoulder and letting him do the work, I made sure to run alongside him but by mile 6 I starting tiring and getting seriously concerned as I started falling back. I didn’t expect to be feeling tired and I wasn’t even half way. DC was starting to pull away and I responded a few times getting myself back up to him. He asked me was I ok and I told him to go ahead, I didn’t see any point in chasing a pace I wasn’t capable of at this early stage. Mile 6 was a 5:53 but I knew not to panic though I actually felt like pulling in and stopping. I had to trust my training and get through this patch.

Splits: 5:42, 5:45, 5:53

Mile 7 – 9

I arrived into the village of Kilmallock and I don’t know if it was the change of scenery, the better road surface or the friendly faces on the side of the road but suddenly things felt ok again, not comfortable but manageable. DC was only about 10 meters ahead but he wasn’t pulling away any more so I just focussed on keeping effort steady. I didn’t watch my pace here and ended up clocking good splits for 7 and 8 as we headed out into the countryside, the loneliest patch of the course. I turned off my pace somewhere around here as I just focussed on the runners ahead, there was DC and 3 other guys on my radar, pretty spread out. Having felt good for a while, I must have started tiring on mile 9 though I didn’t realise it until I saw a 5:53 pop up. Sometimes turning the pace off works, sometimes it doesn’t. This time it didn’t seem to help and I ended up relaxing so I made the decision to turn it back on to keep me focussed over the last 4 miles. DC was pulling away now but I was happy with where I was at having responded well to the earlier hiccup. I just needed to focus for 4 more miles.

Splits: 5:43, 5:44, 5:53

Mile 10-13.1

15129045739_2da382260d_oMile 10 was a key mile for me. I knew I had slowed on the 9th mile and had to respond and I did with a 5:46, back on track and the watch actually really helped me maintain effort here. The undulating country road surface was draining a lot of my energy but I knew once I was back on the main road and feeling ok I’d persevere the last 3. I quickly caught and overtook a fading runner on mile 11 though again I lost concentration and another 5:53 (whats with all the 5:53’s!!). Maybe it was the thought of almost being home but for the next 2 miles I dug deep and pulled out two 5:47 miles, really big miles when I look back and at a time where I was almost throwing in the towel having had so many ups and downs. I was really tiring coming into the last stretch, mile 13 itself is all uphill back to the start line and at one stage I started thinking I’ve done enough I’ll just ease it back home now, almost one eye on the marathon. That all changed when the runner in front of me was drastically slowing, I felt a surge and gave it everything over the last half a mile. I overtook him and I’m not sure where that burst came from, I thought I was wiped. There was a great crowd cheering at the finish including my coach and it was great to get a few cheers from him. I kept it going all the way to the finish crossing 25th in 1:15:40, the last 2 miles key to me getting in under 76 mins. DC was one place ahead of me and about 30 seconds ahead, he was a bit surprised as he thought I was almost done at 6 miles.

Splits: 5:46, 5:53, 5:47, 5:47

13.1 miles in 1:15:40 @ 5:46 min/mile

I had mixed feelings after the race, apart from extreme thirst and exhaustion. Half of me expected a slightly quicker time closer to 75 but the other half was delighted with the fightback and the fact I hit my target. I was a little disappointed with those three 5:53 miles sporadically thrown into the mix, that’s almost 30 seconds lost due to lack of concentration but on the flip side I responded to each of them and they focussed me to get back on track. Maybe because of the good summer I had I’m expecting huge chunks off my PB every time I race but it doesn’t work like that. It seems the more you improve, the less you shave off your PB each time, principle of diminishing returns I salute you.

Overall looking back now I’m very happy with the race, this bodes well for DCM and the training is obviously going well. 3 more hard weeks ahead of me and it’s a case of putting in the miles, staying healthy, avoiding injury and continuing to eat around me.

What an extremely well run race (and what a spread). I know the organiser and I know how passionate he is about athletics and raising funds for North Cork AC and it really showed in the event. At €35 (early bird) this was a real bargain I can’t recommend it enough and I’ll be back for sure.

Looking at my half marathon progression this year, I can’t but be pleased. Back in Bohermeen in March of this year I remember looking at the 75 min guys thinking they were absolute machines and wondering what it takes to get to that level. Little did I know I’d be there myself 6 months later and here I am still complaining 

March – 1:21:50
June – 1:18:40
July – 1:16:17
September – 1:15:40

Race Report: Frank Duffy 10 Mile

So off I headed up to capital city on Friday evening, hadn’t run a step since Thursday evening and was feeling well rested come Saturday morning. A perfect morning for the race, blue skies, sun was beaming yet temperature felt ideal. I was staying in a friends just outside the park so after my ritual coffee, off I set at 9:30am and started jogging up Chesterfield avenue. I felt really light on my feet and full of energy, could have been the fact I was wearing racers but I just felt very good and confident I’d run a good race today, honestly I think the little rest played a big part in attitude.

The target was most definitely a PB, a generous chunk too I was hoping. The existing PB of 58:46 was ran down in Mallow in March earlier this year. I knew I’d come on a lot since then and having unofficially broken that PB during my last half marathon I knew if I ran to my ability that a PB was a formality, it was just a matter of how much. In terms of a time, a great result would be 56:30 but anywhere between that and 57 I’d be happy with. 5:40 pace was the target and based on my recent training I felt pretty confident of being able to hold that. I really don’t like to go out with a target pace in mind, it sort of suggests that once I’m hitting that pace I stay there and hold on to it without pushing anymore. I decided to allow myself to run more by feel today, to allow times where the pace would be slower and if I felt good I’d push on without running to a self imposed limit, seemed like a fair deal.

I got up to the start line having run a nice 2 mile warmup and feeling nice and relaxed. I met a few Donore lads at the start line for a chat and suddenly it was almost time to go. I was a good bit back, too far probably for what I was targeting but I saw no point panicking and trying to get up further, starting conservatively and working my way up the field has always worked well for me.

The congested start

The congested start

Miles 1-2

Off went the hooter and it was a good 10 seconds before I would pass the start line. I didn’t hang around just patiently made my way through the droves of runners, as usual there was a good lot of folk who shouldn’t have be starting up so far but fully expect it in the big races. I finally started getting a bit of room about half a mile in and was still so far back but continuing to pass a lot of people. Surprised to see a 5:38 pop up for the first mile, was feeling nice and relaxed and felt I could keep this effort going. We turned onto Lords walk and the field starting to settle as the initial excitement plateaued, now it felt more like the start of the race. I just focussed on feeling relaxed and keeping the effort consistent, hit the second mile a little slower but still in control.

Splits: 5:38, 5:43 

Miles 3-4

We made our way around the back of the zoo and onto the North road which I knew would be a difficult patch. There was a guy just on my shoulder who then fell into step with me and I thought great we can work together up to the next group ahead. Effort was certainly harder now with the combination of a slight headwind and a gradual drag but I was feeling ok. I found myself out on my own again as the guy fell off the pace and I started closing in on a group of 5/6 ahead of me including a Donore runner who was leading the pack, that was my target. I hit mile 3 in a reasonable 5:44 and though I was off my target pace, I didn’t panic. I had a lot of miles left to run, I knew I had the training done and I had the ability to run quicker miles in the middle section so It was a case of ensuring steady effort and not stupidly chasing a pace when conditions weren’t optimal. I made my way up past the group ahead who were all slowing and to the Donore runner, who I didn’t even know at the time. He acknowledged me and then we ran alongside the last mile of the North road working together, starting to find it difficult but knowing that there were better miles to come. Too much watch checking here!

Splits: 5:44, 5:47 

Miles 5-6

Coming off the North road I felt pretty good, I felt I’d summited a mental mountain and it was time to descend. Myself and the Donore runner turned back onto Chesterfield and headed up towards the Castleknock gate. I felt good and gradually starting pulling away from him and reeled in a few others ahead of me. After that it was an empty field bar a few specks in the distance so I just relaxed the shoulders and prepared for a long journey down the entire length of Chesterfield. Now I really started enjoying myself and just letting the legs do the work. The sun was beaming and I felt like I could run forever, terrific feeling. There was an official 5 mile mat and I had a quick glance to see 28:32 for the first 5 miles, good stuff and still on track. I knew the last 1.5 miles were going to be tough so I was going to make this next section count. At that point I knew I was running in the 5:30’s though I didn’t need to check. I was in a great place so I made the decision to turn the garmin screen off. I didn’t want any pace or time targets to upset the rhythm I had and constantly checking it wasn’t going to do me any good. I knew what I had to do and at this point so I just focussed on the road ahead and I ran what I felt was the right pace.

Splits: 5:37, 5:32 

Miles 7-8

Onto mile 7 and though I wasn’t watching my time or pace, I had seen the mile splits flash up and knew I was going well, confidence was high and I was still passing people. There were 2 Donore singlets ahead of me, out in force they were and made for pretty good targets. I passed one just before turning onto Wellington road and I started reeling the other in slowly. We were always descending on this section so pace was still nippy and I finally caught up with my clubmate just after exiting the park at the Chapelizod gate. He tagged on for a bit but I was maintaining the same effort and gradually pulled away. I was pretty delighted to pass my sisters apartment here to see her standing on the footpath alongside my mother for a big cheer. No doubt I sped up and tried my best to look effortless for those 10 seconds and I think it worked, they bought it. Hit mile 8 soon after and I knew what was coming ahead though I was still feeling quite good.

Splits: 5:33, 5:35

Miles 9-10

The sprint for home

The sprint for home

Mile 9 and 10 were funny ones. I felt like I was flying still on the 9th mile, but apparently I wasn’t. The first half of it was along Chapelizod road and then we re-entered the park (apparently DublinRunner gave me a shout here but I was too rude focussed to acknowledge, so thanks!). Then came the climbs which in fairness I was ready for and knew was was ahead of me. I immediately felt the pace drop but I didn’t feel it was by too much, I shortened the stride a bit but was closing in quickly on a group ahead so felt in control. We hit the 9 mile mark up near the first section of the upper glen road and I saw a 5:57 pop up. It was a little surprising because I didn’t think I had slowed that much but again no panic, I didn’t know what time I was on for or what that actually meant to my end result so I just concentrated on the runners ahead of me who seemed to be really struggling badly with the hill. The 2nd and 3rd placed female runners (Scottish I think) were just ahead of me and I reeled them in quite quickly and started to feel surprisingly ok with the hill. I felt very strong after the initial climb and through the next drag I took another 3 lads before turning onto the Furze road for the finish. Now I was feeling a bit of burn but there was one more guy to take care of in a yellow top. I didn’t feel I had much of a sprint in my until I heard a shout from a club member who was watching, something like “Push it all the way” and I just though he’s right I’m not done yet, gotta push this all the way to the end. I found a gear and I put everything I had into that last section taking the guy ahead of me. I had no idea of my time until that point but then I saw the finishing clock just under 57 minutes. I gave it my all to duck under the 57 but realised quickly it wasn’t happening. I crossed as the clock hit 57:07 and I think I actually muttered the words “f**k it” as I crossed though I had no right to be disappointed with that time. Then as I gathered myself I was extremely pleased to look at my watch to see it reading 56:58 – I hadn’t crossed the line until 10 seconds after the gun went, I did get under 57!! My official chip time was 56:57, even better, get in there! I was really pleased with that last mile which was a tough climb but I had the strength to push through it despite knowing I had slowed considerably on mile 9.

Splits: 5:57, 5:40 

Summary: 10 miles in 56:57 @ 5:40 min/mile (167bpm)

Overall Position: 47/4226

Post race thoughts: I’m really thrilled with that race, not just the PB but the strategy, the attitude and the belief I had in my abilities. The race was fantastic, a real mixed bag of emotions, times where I had to dig deep, to be patient and times when I felt on top of the world and nothing could go wrong. I once again took the tactic of “do the passing, don’t be passed” and it seems to work well for me. I really have had a fantastic summer of training and racing and have never been enjoying my running so much. This felt like the cherry on top of that great summer and I can’t wait to take on the next challenge which of course is the impending marathon training and then the actual marathon itself. No complaints about the actual race itself, excellent organisation, well marshalled, super atmosphere and what a bargain at 20 quid.

It dawned on me today that the pace I ran for that 10 mile was actually the same pace I ran for the Cheetah 4 mile race back in May. I think that sort of progress is a huge reflection on my coach and clubmates because I really wouldn’t be making these sort of improvements without them. I know it’s said a lot but I really have to agree that surrounding yourself and consistently training with better runners is a sure way to improve dramatically.