I actually have a decent excuse. I'm usually away in Dublin over New Year and therefore unable to race my own club's major race, but this year I was at home and really felt I could not say no. That's all true. But I admit it was also exhilarating to be moving at race pace again, so much so that I got carried away a bit and started with a sub-6 mile against a fierce headwind, which wasn't the best way to pace myself but what the heck. It felt good.
It was a very windy day with the occasional very strong rain shower. Certainly not the ideal day for a race and when looking out of the window in the morning I actually wondered if the race was going to go ahead at all in those conditions. But they improved a bit and it seemed a little bit calmer in Beaufort than it had been in Caragh Lake, so when I got to the start I put on my race number and did my warm-up, just as I used to in the good old days when I was running the local races on a more regular basis. After doing a few strides I had a hard time catching my breath, which did not bode well. I hoped nobody had noticed and lined up close to the front.
The course elevation profile had looked very flat, but that was misleading. There was barely a flat meter, the road kept going up and down relentlessly. All those hills were very gentle and fairly short, which is why they did not really show up in the elevation chart, but at 10k pace things don't have to be severe to feel severe. Add to that that we were heading right into a gale force wind and you get a good idea what it was like.
I tried to work with a few guys, helping each other out against the wind, but they fell back and I was on my own for a while until a group of 3 runners, including the leading lady caught up with me between km 3 and 4. I managed to stick with them for a while but I always lost ground going uphill and had to work at making it back on the next downhill. I could never quite tell with absolute certainty if I could not go all out on the hills or just refused to lay it all on the line, but the pattern was pretty clear.
We eventually turned away from the wind and the second half was a bit easier with the fierce breeze now on our backs. However, I did lose contact with the rest of the group on a slightly longer uphill stretch and then lost concentration for a few minutes, and by the time I snapped back into race mode the gap in front of me was rather large.
I did work on gradually closing it. I was unsure at first if I even got closer but eventually I managed to work all the way back, around the 7k mark, though at the cost of being well in the red zone. When the pace increased towards the end I was unable to go with them. Well, one fella fell behind even more than I did but the rest, still including the leading lady, kept inching away from me. I may or may not have been able to catch either of them with an all-out effort over the last half mile but could not get myself to push the switch to go all-out and just kept going at 95% effort instead.
Bad racing? Probably. But it has been many months since my last fast race and I did not have the tools to push myself too far into the anaerobic zone. Despite all that, my time of 38:26 was a lot faster than anticipated. I have only run a faster 10k on 2 or 3 occasions, so what I lacked in top speed was at least partially compensated by a rather well tuned diesel engine.
The standard was pretty impressive, my time was only enough for 22nd place overall and 6th M40, which is fiercely competitive. However, I managed to snag the prize for first local man (first local man not to win any of the other prizes, that is) so actually went home with some swag.
Friday morning was just a recovery run, very slowly, but the legs felt surprisingly good without any signs of stiffness or fatigue. I kept the pace exceptionally slow, for once I didn't even need to HR alarm to tell me so.
- 1 Jan
- 10 miles, including
- 10k Beaufort New Year's Day Race, 38:26, 6:11 pace, HR 177
- 22nd overall, 6th M40
- 2 Jan
- 8 miles, 1:10:29, 8:49 pace, HR 135