Sunday, March 09, 2008

Cork 1 - Kerry 0

Ewen can relax, Mike will have to give up Guinness for Keith's Red Amber for an unspecified period - sorry, Mike. I've got plenty of excuses, but Grellan was unbeatable today.

I set off at about 8:50, a bit later than planned, at nice sunny weather. Within 20 miles it was raining heavily, and when crossing a small mountain on the Kerry-Cork border I ran into a snow storm. I tried not to think about what the conditions at the race would be like and pressed on. And wouldn't you believe it, by the time I was in Cork to pick up Grellan, the sun was shining again, though it was still rather cold with the unforgiving wind.

We got to Ballycotton in good time where we met Grellan's colleague, Brendan. All three of us had similar expectations for the race. It took me a while to make up my mind if I should wear a t-shirt or a singlet, and eventually ended up opting for the later. We were incredibly lucky with the weather, while most of the country was experiencing heavy rain we stood there in nice sunshine, albeit freezing in our flimsy outfits. Unfortunately you can't really warm up for the event. There were over 2200 people at the start, and Ballycotton is a tiny place with a narrow street, and if you weren't at your position 30 minutes before time you either need very sharp elbows or you are going to start behind everyone else. Thus the first miles would have to do for a warm-up.

As always, there were plenty of slower runners near the front who should have started well behind, and the first mile involved a lot of weaving. A guy helpfully shouted out splits at the 1 mile marker, and I was shocked to hear that almost 7 minutes had passed. I need to run faster than that, and accelerated. Only after the race did Grellan point out to me that I had forgotten to take the 15 seconds into account that it had taken us to cross the start line. I'm still trying to come to terms with the fact that I could have been such an idiot, but at the time all I could think was to run faster. What followed were two rather quick miles, where my HR went up all the way to 180, which should have been warning enough to slow down. At the 3 mile marker (19:45) it became apparent that 65 minutes were not on the menu today, I was behind time and the last two miles had sapped all strength out of my legs. Grellan caught up with me shortly afterwards, and he and Brendan continued to pull away from me, slowly but steadily, and I could not follow. The next three miles were really tough. I was gone, the race effort was getting to me, I wished it were all over and I could hardly keep my position in the field. Each climb, even hardly noticeable ones, took too much out of me, and it just wasn't my day. Then, around the 10k marker (41:06) a miracle happened, the fatigue left my legs, I could pull away from the runners around me, and apart from one very fast guy I was not passed any more. I kept looking out, more in hope than expectation, that Grellan and/or Brendan would turn up on the radar screen, but expected them to be too far ahead. The first two miles had been downhill, though that had been rather wasted because of all the weaving we had to do around the slow folks, which meant that the last two miles would be a very, very tough uphill finish. By mile 8 I finally managed to spot Brendan, but did not expect to be able to catch up, he was too far ahead. However, he was suffering badly, and the climb just about killed him; within half a mile I was level, and even though I tried to encourage him he could not keep up. I felt good, and against all logic I ran the two uphill miles towards the finish faster than the first two downhill miles from the start. However, in the end I ran out of road. The longer the race went on the better I felt, and I would have run a very good half marathon, but this was a 10 miler, and not even the final sprint could get me under 66 minutes, and I finished in 66:01, a minute slower than my target. Grellan won the direct contest by almost a minute, even though he was very gracious in victory. Congratulations, mate.

I was a little bit disappointed, but overall I'm ok. 6 weeks ago I was just getting out of the house for the first time after my pneumonia, and there just wasn't enough time to get into peak fitness. It is still the fastest time I have ever managed over 10 miles, and I think by the time Connemara comes along I will be in better shape than last year. Plus, I had run 20 miles only three days ago, Grellan wore racers compared to my trainers, and apart from Monday I hadn't done any tempo training, Those are all really stupid excuses, of course. I ran as fast as I could, and it was a minute slower than anticipated. End of story. I'll take the positives (i.e. I had a very enjoyable day), and the rest is just pointless whining. The race was incredibly well organised, we were extremely lucky with the weather, and a PR is a PR.

My mile splits were 6:42, 6:27, 6:39, 6:35, 6:48 (oh dear), 6:35, 6:30, 6:26 (oh yeah), 6:40 (uphill), 6:27(still uphill), plus another 11 seconds after that because the Garmin reported 10.03 miles, which, if you take the weaving into account, is pretty damn accurate.
9 Mar
12.4 miles, including
Ballycotton 10 miler, 66:01, 6:36 pace, avg. HR 174

Weekly mileage: 78.5

Official results are up already (that's incredibly fast), Grellan came 188th, I was 218th, Brendan 225th out of 2204. Photos are here, but I'm not on any of them as far as I can tell.


  1. Yes, no whining Thomas! He won fair and square but you made me laugh with your list. The 5 months without a race can make a big difference and this has been my downfall with Boston. Still, a nice race and good finish. For some reason I had the Amber before you guys posted, call it intuition though it went against my bet.

  2. Congratulations! You ran a heck of a race on 6 weeks of training.

  3. congratulations on another great race!

  4. A great race considering your training. A great writeup, you had me on the edge of my seat to the finish.

  5. Great to finally meet you yesterday Thomas - made the day all the more enjoyable to share the experience. Great race and a pity you ran out of road. I'd say the fast initial miles hurt yourself and Brendan - although I was only 20 yards behind it may have made a difference.

    Looking forward to the bantry half in May and will be watching out for you in the "hell of the west" -Connemara Ultra to those not in the know.

  6. Good race Thomas. Did a pb make up for Man City losing????

    Hope the training goes well this week as you build up for your ultra.


  7. Well done Thomas! You finished just seconds ahead of a friend of mine! Great running!

  8. Great job Thomas!

    I'll be visiting Ireland for the first time, from this Thurs through St. Patrick's day until next week Wednesday...I'll be driving from Dublin to Galway to the Dingle Peninsula and then back to Dublin..any must see sights you recommend? ('Everything' is not an acceptable answer...)

  9. Well done Thomas. Don't get too down on yourself, you should be proud given you weren't running at all a few weeks ago. This race will count toward some great tempo training that you can only benefit from. Rest up and congratulations!

  10. Phew! Thanks Thomas ;) I'm sipping on one of those beers as I type.

    Take the positives - plenty there, and you still ran a PB for 10 miles. Still, it puts the pressure on for the half. You may need a few more easy days, no recent 10 miler, and racing shoes to make it 1-all. I haven't decided who I'll back yet :)

  11. I meant "no recent 20 miler"!

  12. Nice result, especially after the pneumonia. Congrats on a PB as well! Cheers!

  13. A pretty good comeback race if you ask me. Plenty of room for improvement on your next 10 miler and a good snapshot of where you are at currently. Glad you had great organization and weather to boot.

  14. No disappointments Thomas. I'd love to run 10 mi at avg 06:37'5. Great Job, Congratulations!
    Will you hit a Half with similar pace?