I had an eventful morning when preparing for the race. I had to stop Cian, our 2 year old, from playing with his toothpaste in the downstairs bathroom, then with the adult toothpaste upstairs, the I just about managed to stop him from raiding Nana’s jam jars, and when he nearly fell off a table, I asked Niamh to get up and help me with that unruly toddler. All that happened between 9 and 10 am, which was when I tried to eat my breakfast and gather all the things I needed for the race. As a result of this I left the house a little bit later than planned, but still in good time. I managed to find the start in Phoenix Park, which wasn’t entirely straightforward, because I am quite unfamiliar with that part of Dublin.
The conditions for the race weren’t too bad, but a bit windy. The course is nearly totally flat, and we had to run 2 laps, the second lap being a bit shorter than the first one. There was one final insult at the registration: at the obviously well advanced age of 35, I am no longer classed as a Senior, but a Veteran. Who would have thought.
I started out at what I guessed was my 5k speed, and immediately noticed that it was faster than everyone around me. I guess that means that I should have started further ahead, but it wasn’t crowded and I didn’t have to weave in and out of the crowds to overtake. At the 1-mile marker I checked my time and heart rate, 6:53 and 179 respectively. I was pleased with both. On the second mile I started to feel tired, but I tried to keep going at the same speed, and I was still overtaking quite a few of the other runners. There was an older runner, maybe in his 50s or early 60s, lets call him Pop, which I managed to pass at that stage. I definitely thought I slowed down towards the end of that mile, but when the 2-mile marker came, my time was now 13:30, or a 6:37 split for the second mile. I cannot rule out that the mile markers were a bit off, of course. At that stage, a group of 4 runners which I had passed half a mile earlier, overtook me, but I did manage to keep right behind them. I was definitely knackered by now, my heart rate was 186 which is my max HR, and I knew I had to fight to keep up the speed for a decent finish. Then, with what I thought was a quarter mile before the finish, I started a surge (Bob Glover would have been proud of me), overtook that group again, and put a fairly big gap between them and myself. I got a surprise when I checked my heart rate, 187. In all my big training efforts on the hills I never managed to go over 186, so I really must have given everything I had. I also realised that I had badly underestimated the distance to the finish when I started my surge, because it must have been at least half a mile before the end. Then I heard footsteps behind me coming closer, turned around and was surprised to see Pop coming closer and closer and actually trying to overtake me. Well, I was about to find out if I had one more push in me and accelerated again. My heart rate was now 188, which I really had not thought possible. I was breathing so loudly that some people on the side were giving me funny looks, not that I cared. I just gave it all I got and passed the finishing line in 21:22, which is a personal best by 38 seconds, but then I had never run an all-out 5k race before, so a new PR was always on the cards. When I was able to breath again, I turned to Pop and told him, “that was your fault, you made me run so fast”, to which he replied, “well, you dragged me along”, and we shook hands.
I was quite pleased with myself and my effort, I couldn’t possibly have run any faster. My average heart rate on the race was 181. I hadn’t done any real speedwork in the last few months and I had always assumed my max HR was 186, which I now know was wrong.
However, when I rang home to tell Niamh about everything, she told me that Shea, our 4-year old son, had tumbled head over heels all the way down the stairs, and had only been prevented from smacking into the wall by the fact that Lola, his twin sister, just happened to stand right there. He smashed into her instead, which broke his fall, and which may have prevented any serious injury, though Lola was extremely offended by the fact that everyone fussed over Shea and nearly ignored her.
Now, six hours later, Shea seems to be ok again. We are keeping a close eye on him, if he starts vomiting or gets dizzy, we have to bring him straight into A&E, but he is enjoying all his latest videos, had lunch, and seems to be in good form.
Thank Goodness for that, and it certainly puts the race into perspective.
29 Dec: 8 miles, very hilly
1 Jan: 6 miles, including 5k race at 21:22, 6:53 pace