Of course, things didn't turn out that way. It wasn't Niamh who turned up at 3 am but Finn O'Mara and she kept encouraging me and joined the fun herself for the second 12 hours. My exhaustion eventually switched itself off after a few more rough hours and a few hours later I was running in second position, a place I would never relinquish even though an Irish international runner kept battling me for hours, and all of a sudden I had moved straight from no-hoper status right into the middle of the elite field. Unreal.
I was rather taken aback after the race when chatting to Eoin Keith, the Irish record holder, when he told me it would be interesting to see where I could go on now after that performance. I had just run the race of my life and all he wanted me to do was to go on and better it?
He was absolutely right, of course. That race had become history the second the horn had sounded and there is no point in resting on one's laurels. Can I push on? Can I better my performance? If so, by how much? Might I even achieve the IAAF standard?
During the first lap of the Donadea 50k, all the way back in February, Don Hannon (later this year the winner of the Wicklow Way Race) grabbed my arm and asked me if I was going to win the 24 hrs championship this year. Initially I just looked at him blankly until he explained that the European/World championships would take place only a few weeks before Belfast, possibly taking the entire Irish elite squad out of contention. This was news to me but I refused to get excited, which saved me from feeling disappointed when those championships were cancelled, allowing the full contingent of our elite runners to take part in Belfast and more importantly, to be at their best. I immediately came to the conclusion that I preferred things this way. A stacked field might inspire everyone on the track to up their game, including myself. I'd much rather come, say, fifth and reach my mileage goals than come second with a result that would leave me slightly embarrassed.
Besides, even had the top elites been taken out of the equation, there is always at least one runner who comes seemingly out of nowhere and races him or herself into contention. I should know. Two years ago that runner was me.
Two more sleeps / sleepless nights. I'm torn between fear and anticipation.
- 14 Jul
- 5+ miles, 44:20, 8:47 pace, HR 125
- 15 Jul
- 5 miles, 43:20, 8:40 pace, HR 128
- 16 Jul
- 5 miles, 43:45, 8:45 pace, HR 125