I sure did not expect much, the only time I have run at anything vaguely resembling pace was last Saturday's 10k in Glenbeigh and that only brought me home in 40 minutes. I was pretty sure it would be my slowest outing on that course yet. Overshadowed by the Reeks it sure made for some spectacular scenery, but the course itself was mostly flat.
There was the usual banter, I think Seamus and me are incapable of not throwing mild insults at each other immediately before and after a race, but it's all in good spirit. A few guys ran off at breakneck pace right from the gun and I found myself in 7th position at first, but by mile 1 I was in fourth. Right beside me was our club's great big young hope (I won't mention his name for privacy reason, just in case) and while I expected him to fall back, as every other youngster I have ever caught in the first mile has ever done, he clung on and refused to be dropped.
The first two miles felt reasonably good but that was slightly downhill and with a slight tailwind, and while neither was particularity worthwhile, it would ensure that the return journey would feel considerably harder. On a slight uphill at the halfway point the cheeky youngster left the old man in his wake all of a sudden, and while said old geezer expected to catch up again sooner rather than later, this geriatric was wrong and fell further and further behind. I did move back into fourth position by catching another whippersnapper who might have gone off a little bit aggressively, but I was starting to feel every single one of those past 43 years in my legs and lungs.
I passed the 3 mile sign already pretty deep in the red, and then ran and ran and ran, up a very slight incline that usually you wouldn't even notice, and when after a long time of running hard I sneaked a quick look at the Garmin and saw 3.15 miles displayed I could not help but think "you gotta be f*ckin kidding me!", though in retrospect the 3 mile sign might have been a tad early. At that point I was actually looking forward to running in Connemara when 10 minute miles would be regarded as fast, rather than those painful 6 minute ones I was trying to do right now.
The finish line drew nearer, which was good because I was completely goosed and by now I was pretty sure that those footsteps I kept hearing were not a figment of my imagination. Even though I convinced myself that I would be capable of holding my position, reality spoke otherwise and Robert Jr. re-took his place from a mile earlier. With about a quarter of a mile left I did what you should never do, namely look behind me at a corner, and saw that I was being chased by yet another runner who was drawing uncomfortably close, so I made damn sure to put every effort into the last minute of running and salvaged fifth place by 3 seconds. He told me afterwards that he had notice me looking back and thought he would catch me but ran out of road (I know how that feels - it's good to be the other guy for a change!).
Despite clearly faltering towards the end it was still good enough for first man over 40, and I got a nice surprise when I checked my Garmin and realised I had comfortably broken 24 minutes in 23:41 (correctly rounded to 23:42 in the results), so I had actually run my fastest time on that course (a 4-mile PB in fact) rather than the slowest one, and had run half a minute per mile faster than in Glenbeigh, quite some improvement though it sure helps if you don't have to climb a mountain halfway through.
Idiot me had left his jacket at home (and right at the door too!) and I got a bit cold but the prize giving came soon enough. The feeling when they call out your name and you walk up to receive your prize to the generous applause of your fellow runners is something I won't get tired of any time soon, it does give me a real buzz every time. The club committee have also very, very generously decided to give half of the takings to the Liam's Lodge charity, the one I had run the 10in10 for (with the other half going to another charity), which I am immensely grateful for, and which makes my worries if I should have run the race or not completely irrelevant.
Thank you very much everyone.
- 1 Aug
- 5 miles, 40:05, 8:01 pace, HR 138
- 2 Aug
- 7.5 miles, including:
Kilgobnet 4 miles race, 23:41, 5:55 pace, avg. HR 177
5th place overall, first M40
- 3 Aug
- 5 miles, 39:17, 7:51 pace, HR 136