Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Jog In The Park

I went into this race knowing fine and full well that I had sabotaged any hopes of doing well with my 30 miles training run on Wednesday. My main worry was not to get injured, because 2 easy days after such a long run are hardly enough to recover fully. Before the race I had a chat with John Foley, he was complaining about his hamstrings and I was moaning about my quads, so between the two of us we had one fully working set of legs.

After opening miles of 5:45 in the first 2 races of series I decided to back off the suicidal early pace for a start. I ignored the 10 or so runner that streamed past me over the first quarter mile, and watched both John and Pat slowly pull away from me. Shortly after the first km marker I counted the steps between myself and John and came up with 20, which meant I was about 7 seconds behind, which would equate to maybe 10 seconds per mile pace difference. If he started at the same pace as always, I was doing just fine.

I was definitely having an easier time than last week. Close to the halfway point of the course I remembered how I had started falling apart here one week ago, and could not help but notice that I was feeling far more comfortable today. To my surprise I was actually getting closer to John and Part again, they were less than 10 steps ahead at that point and I was toying with the idea of trying to close the gap. I did go past one runner in a red singlet, but either the pace started catching up with me again or John and Pat both found another gear, because they started pulling away again. With 1 km to go I did try and push harder, but I simply did not have what it takes mentally today to push myself to the absolute limit. Shortly afterwards the red singlet passed me again like I was standing still. Had he done so at a slightly more reasonable pace I might have tried to hitch a ride in his shadow, but I could not possibly match that pace. Over that last half mile I watched in amazement as he went past Pat and John (and possibly even one more runner, my memory is slightly hazy), while I was trying to survive the last part of the course with the obligatory killer hill finish. When I saw the finish clock I was surprised to see that it had only just gone past 18:00 and I crossed the line with it displaying 18:13, which they correctly rounded up to 18:14 in the final standings, equalling my time from the first race of the series and 10 seconds faster than last week but in far better shape.

That's not due to the mile splits. When I checked them later, at home, to my utter astonishment they were 5:41, 5:54 and 6:07. So much for starting easily, and apparently I blew my chances for a new PB only on the final hill. I really had no idea!

A little devil on my shoulder kept reminding me that I was only 7 seconds off my PB and that I would have broken it had I pushed harder. However, my far more relaxed attitude today may well have been the reason for a good time. But I can't help but wonder if I could have broken that time had Wednesday's run been 20 miles rather than 30. There's no point crying about a lost opportunity, though. My A race is Connemara, everything else is just a training run for that. A new PB today would have been nice (and completely unexpected), but a PB in Connemara means worlds more to me.

After a couple of minutes I remembered that Shauna from work was running as well, so I jogged back along the course, spotted her after a minute, and kept encouraging her for the rest of her race. To my surprise I found that I would have made a good slave driver (“Don't slow down! Push harder! Sprint to the finish! Don't slow down!”), but rather than hating me for it she thanked me afterwards for the support.

I managed to resist all the chocolate at the spread afterwards (I nicked some for the kids), and waited for the prize ceremony. I told Pat that one day I'll catch him, but he put me into my place when he told me that his marathon PB was 2:26. Holy cow! What a runner!

Anyway, when the prizes were given out it turned out that I didn't even have to fall back to my old age to collect a reward. They rather generously awarded prizes for the top 8 men, and I just happened to have come 8th in the series, leaving the top M40 spot to Seamus. News of the 20 Euro gift voucher was very well received by Niamh!

Addendum: A belated comment to last week's race by an anonymous reader was this:
hey i think the 5k in killarney is short unless you are running some kind of wordld record for the last 172 metres. if you're garmin is correct for 3 miles then the race looks about 60 metres short.

I know that there was a discrepancy between the Garmin and what it should have displayed on an accurate 5k. Last week it showed 3.07 miles at the finish, and 3:08 this week, rather than 3:11 as it should have. However, that's a difference of about 1%, well within the Garmin's error margin. I have heard that the course has been measured with a Jones counter on more than one occasion. In the end you can only trust the organisers to come up with an accurate course. If the course is indeed short by 50 meters, there's nothing I can do about that. But to me, personally, my times on that course count as genuine 5k races.
27 Feb
11+ miles, including:
Gneeveguilla 5k race series, race 4, 18:14, HR 179
12th place, 2nd M40, 8th overall in series. 20 Euro prize money
28 Feb
6.1 miles, 48:56, 8:01 pace, HR 144

Weekly Mileage: 66+


  1. For ultra training your 5k times are very impressive. Imagine what you could do with some 5k specific training under your belt.

    With prizes coming your way you just might convince Niamh that your running is cost neutral.

  2. Nice run Thomas and congrats on the prize esp as you're not training specifically for the 5k. Looking good.

  3. Nice, Thomas. Keep the training smart. More calories on the long runs.

  4. Hey fellas... I'm completely new here however I cannot wait to commence having/getting some fantastic interactions along with you all! I just decided i would introduce myself to you all so hello there!

  5. Don't forget to declare the 20 Euro as income on your 2010 tax return.

    Looks like 17:XX is there if you tapered. And if they had a flat course... and if you ran the first mile in 5:50 ;)