Niamh is clearly a fan of active recovery after a marathon. There was to be no lying down, no matter how tired I would feel. For the record, the tree still stands and the hair didn't get cut either but I got the rest done. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
|Getting ready. Photo by Mary Mockett|
It's a reasonably small race but definitely deserves more recognition. The course consists of 3 laps in the Demesne of the National Park and the scenery is just to die for, at least on a sunny day, though they have always been lucky with the weather so far. With a rather bumpy profile it's not a course where you'd go looking for a PB, but that wasn't my aim anyway.
Right from the start Alex O'Shea was storming off for an undisputed win, followed by 5 chaps who would contest the podium places. The 3:30 group was behind us and all that was left between those groups were us 2 pacers and one single pacee for 3:15. I have paced races where I came home without a pace group but that's a first for the pacers outnumbering the pacees even at the start!
|Brendan and his 2 personal pacers. Photo by Valerie O'Sullivan|
As we clicked off mile after mile, time passed very quickly. This was a rather relaxed pacing gig and there was no pressure. As the first of 3 laps had passed I noticed the legs starting to get a bit heavy, the combination of Limerick and Wings for Life making its presence felt, but I had no trouble keeping going. There is one fairly big climb shortly after the start of each lap, which had me breathing a bit heavier than I would have liked on lap 2 but otherwise it was still a reasonably relaxed effort, the rolling hills of the rest of the course not providing any problems,
With the course featuring a section where you meet runners coming the other way, we had the chance to wave to a lot of runners, both the fast guys at the front as well as the other end of the field. Alex was way ahead in front and looking like he was out for a morning jog, Fozzy in second place and the chasers not too far behind.
At 14 miles I spotted John Foley ahead, and I could see that we was in trouble, having been dropped by the rest of the fast group. We caught up with him at mile 15 and I let Dermot and Brendan go ahead on their own and provided John some company, though I warned him that I would have to push ahead once we dropped behind 3:15 pace (we were about 2 minutes ahead at that point). For the next mile it was clear that he really was in trouble, breathing very hard even when we relaxed to pace to no faster than 7:45, and just a mile later he had enough of my presence and sent me ahead. The heat and humidity clearly had gotten to him and I had slight doubts if he would even bother to start the third loop (I was wrong, he did finish).
|a lonely pacer at mile 17. Photo by Artur Nowak|
I took it fairly easy as I took on the big climb for a third time, which helped preserve energy for the rest of the loop. The good thing about having heavy legs from mile 8 onwards was that the heavy legs at mile 20 didn't feel any worse and I had gotten used to it.
Pacing was a bit tricky because the GPS signal and the mile markers didn't particularly agree. The RD swears that he measured the course more than once and that it is correct, and I know from racing a lot of 5ks in the National Park that the signal can indeed be unreliable beneath the forest cover. The only thing to do really is to rely on the mile markers and pace yourself off them. I still had over a minute in hand when I unexpectedly drew level with Dermot again at mile 24. He's a quality runner but the conditions had gotten to him as well, in addition to that sub-3 in Limerick, but we were still comfortably within 3:15 pace and made our way towards the finish as a re-united pace team. Brandon had pushed ahead (he finished in 3:12) and there wasn't much else for us to do, except finish the job.
We got there in 3:14:11, which I like to think was reasonably close to the target. In all fairness, there was no real need for 3:15 pacers today due to the lack of runners at that level, and Brandon would have gotten on just fine without us, albeit without the pleasure of my company. However, I very much enjoyed the race and can recommend it it to anyone looking for a scenic and well organised small marathon.
A few runners had suffered from the heat and the humidity, which always makes for tough conditions, even if the weather made the National Park shine even more gloriously than usual. I was glad I had been pacing this rather than racing; with the effort below race pace I found this much easier to handle.
I couldn't hang around for long because of Niamh's long todo list (and I had to collect the kids in time), so I made my way back towards the car park even before the 3:30 group had arrived. One of their pacers, Grellan, was in even more hurry than me; he can't have waited around for long and jogged past me on his way back to the car, a 3:30 marathon obviously not enough to tire him out (note to self, look out for him in Belfast).
All in all a very good day - but damn, I still have to cut down that tree!
- 14 May
- Lakes of Killarney Marathon
- 3:14:11, 7:27 pace, HR 158, ran as 3:15 pacer
- 15 May
- 5 miles, 41:38, 8:18 pace, HR 136