Saturday, November 29, 2008

Over the Hill and Far Away

The weather forecast for today’s race was pretty much the same as for the last 2 days, cold, clear skies with the occasional wintery shower. There were 2 rather heavy showers in the morning which didn’t bode too well, but luckily it remained dry for the actual race.

Niamh had done a pub quiz the night before, and came home well past midnight; coupled with Maia’s sickness it meant a very busy evening for me, especially as she refused to sleep in her bed – she slept soundly in my arms though. It could have been worse I guess, and somehow I still got plenty of sleep. As it turns out, Niamh’s team won the quiz and she came home with a very nice looking hamper (cheese, wine, chocolate, …) and gained my perpetual permission to go on pub quizzes. I told her that unfortunately I would be unlikely to continue the family's winning streak today.

I had a rather unconventional warm-up; I ran the 4.5 miles from our house into town. It sure guaranteed me being warm enough for the race, and I don’t think I had done myself any harm. There were a lot of runners at the start, the turn-out was about 130 which delighted the organisers. I pushed myself towards the front of the field, and when we set off I went out with the front-runners. One guy in a green singlet took off at the front like a rocket, and the rest of us settled into place. I was in about 6th position, and it felt comfortably hard, but a glance at the Garmin told me that I unfortunately was running way ahead of my abilities at 5:30. By the time we left town I was at a more realistic pace, just a tad slower than 6:00, and in 10th position.

I have mentioned it before, I always lose time on the ups and regain it on the downs; it wasn’t even a hill, just a bridge with a big hump, but it was enough to send me back into 13th position, and – male ego being stung – behind the first female runner. I was tempted to ease up, let them go and keep my place in the field but eventually managed to kick myself into action. About 2 miles into the race I was over 20 steps behind a group of 3 runners, but when the course dropped a bit I managed to pull level, and just before the halfway mark I had overtaken them all, including the eventual female winner (who afterwards told me she tried to stay with me but could not).

I even managed to get a gap between us, but a look at the elevation profile shows you that we were about to climb 200 feet in less than a mile. This ensured two things; one, a personal best was out of the question today, and two, I lost one place. Actually I was pleased that only one runner managed to get past me, and that it took him half of that climb. Up on top we had a breathtaking view over Dingle Bay, or maybe I was merely out of breath from the brutal climb. I was about 20 steps behind 10th place, and I knew that I would have a chance to regain that position on the eventual downhill. We remained like that while running along Sunhill; I might have managed to pull a little bit closer, but not much.

With a mile to go the course finally dropped again, very steeply back into the centre of Killorglin. The descent went very well, the distance between myself and the runner in front melted like ice in the sun, I flew past, and despite being barely in control (one false step would have sent me into hospital) I arrived at the foot in one piece and with a commanding lead on 10th place. The rest was flat along the main road to the other end of town. I managed not to look back, because what good would that have done anyway? All I could do was to run to the finish as fast as possible, no matter how close or far away I was. Gaining another place was not on, the runner was way ahead of me, and I crossed the line in 10th place, 39:28 according to my own watch, or 39:30 official time. I was pleased with that, after all I haven’t done any fast running since the marathon 5 weeks ago. Who knows, on a flat course I might even have threatened my PR, but with that massive hill this was out of question today.

Racing felt great today!
29 Nov
13.2 miles, including:
Killorglin Puck Warriors Jingle Bells 10k, 39:30, 6:23 pace, HR 177, 10th place

12 comments:

  1. Congratulations on the race, getting out at this time of year is so much fun... helps to remind us of why we run.

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  2. That's an excellent time Thomas, given the course and the fact that you are in recovery/base mode. Well done.

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  3. Great job! Smokin' fast, and that hill is no mere speed bump.

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  4. Well done today. Nice run and sounds like you're beginning to master downhill running!!!

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  5. Nothing like a monster hill in the middle of the course to even things out. Great race!

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  6. Nice running. You've got to be happy with a time so close to a PB with that beast of a hill in there.

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  7. That's a pretty brutal climb for a 10k! Nice job holding 10th place.

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  8. Good time on a tough course Thomas. Well done!

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  9. Good run Thomas! I'm just about to head off for a training run on the whw with 30 others! There is a lot of frost out there so should be fun .... cold but fun!

    John

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  10. Top 10 COOL!!!
    good racing!
    We often forget about having fun when we race!
    Sounds like a very interesting course

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  11. Another excellent result! Good job given you are still basically recovering.

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