Sunday, March 26, 2017

Road Racing Fun

"Do the race", he said. "It's going to be fun!" he said.

As I've said a few times, training has been going really well the last couple of months. However, that was with a long ultra race as target in mind - something that doesn't really translate to a 5k race. As such, expectations for today's race were rather low. It was the Kerry road racing championships and the club had asked me to participate with an eye on the masters team standings; however, not for the first time, out fastest runner was required elsewhere . It didn't help that it was Mother's Day, I suppose, though Niamh had voiced no objections (maybe her idea of a relaxing day is getting me out of the house).

The Star of the Laune team
Anyway, apart from not being trained to race a 5k, I had clearly forgotten how to do them. My last 5k race had been - the Kerry championships exactly one year ago! I felt rather sluggish during the warm up and doubts crept in already. However, once the gun sounded I let muscle memory take over and just carry me along.

Apparently my muscles did remember how to race a 5k. Unfortunately, they must have remembered what it was like to race a 5k in under 18 minutes, because that's what the first mile indicated. Since I'm not trained to run at that pace (the fastest workout having been at 7:12 pace), I was completely and utterly cooked after a 5:40 starting mile, even if it may have been slightly net downhill and with the wind on my back. Obviously that meant running the next mile against the wind and uphill, and boy was I in pain already. For a minute or two I had even thought I'd leave John Barrett in my wake, which very quickly turned out to be a very, very stupid idea and I could only watch him pass me and pull away while I was sucking air through a thin straw with someone using a blowtorch on my legs.

For all of the final 4k I continuously expected runners to catch up with me and pull away but while I kept hearing footsteps behind me they always seemed to fall away again. There was a steep hill after about 3.5k which I probably would barely have noticed on an early morning jog but which I thought would kill me off completely but somehow I managed to get over it. Then it was a matter of suffering with each step until I would somehow be taken out of my misery.

"Do the race", he said. "It's going to be fun!" he said.

If he had been there I would have given him an earful! There were still about 2 minutes of torture left when I turned the last corner and climbed yet another hill. Once again I heard footsteps and for a second was prepared to throw in the towel and just let them pass me when the racing instincts kicked in once more and pushed me on, screaming legs be damned. Somehow I managed to keep running until the final line where the timer had just gone past 19 minutes. Blimey, so much torture for such a modest time!

It took me ages to recover until I was finally able to breathe again, just being grateful that I had somehow survived. The average HR hadn't even been that high at 173; I would expect to average close to 180 in a 5k race and yet I could have sworn I had never tortured myself so hard. A few weeks of speedwork would have taken care of that and I'm sure I could take at least a minute off that time, becoming much more efficient at that pace and my brain letting me push the body harder, but I'm not training for a 5k so that's not going to happen.

I, rather unexpectedly, even got some bling out of that torture session, coming second in the M45 category; at least I had something to show for it.

"It's going to be fun!" he said. I'm not sure when I want to have so much fun again.

23 Mar
7 miles, 54:12, 7:44 pace, HR 143
24 Mar
7 miles, 54:24, 7:46 pace, HR 140
25 Mar
12 miles, 1:32:02, 7:40 pace, HR 144
26 Mar
6+ miles
   Kerry County Road racing Champs
   5k, 19:03, 6:12 pace, HR 173, 2nd M45


  1. Great time the background of lots of easy runs in training and no miles sub 7 let alone sub 6. Nice to get a category prize too, well done for suffering to the end and bringing it home.

  2. Entertaining report! Excuse me for chuckling as I read about the 5:40 opening mile. Perhaps concussion as well as muscle memory induced ;-) You'd be up with the gun runners with 19 flat at our parkrun. Very respectable speed for a 24-hour racer.