Sunday, April 05, 2009

Reigning Kerry 5k Road Champion (O35)

Having been reassured that this race was indeed taking place (whoever looks after the fixtures in the Kerry Athletics website didn’t do a very good job), we set off to Ardfert on Sunday morning. We found first the village and then the primary school after a slight detour. If I hadn’t known there would a race, I would have had serious doubts. Anyway, after signing up and warming up, we assembled at the start line. Niamh had thought this would be a very small and uncompetitive race, but I had checked the times of a few of the competitors and knew I would end up far down the field.

I lined up in the third row, where I usually start from, and was rather surprised to be overtaken by a number of runners early on. The first half mile was downhill but against the wind, and when I looked up I was definitely surprised by the number of runners ahead of me. I checked my pace on the Garmin and it came up with 5:13 (!!!) and there seemed to be at least 20, maybe even 30, runners in front! I have never been in such a competitive race. I knew I would not be able to keep that pace going, but starting like a lunatic can be a good, if painful tactic in a 5k. Despite this, I was still being overtaken by some runners! WTF??

Towards the end of the first mile the course turned off the Tralee road, which was good because it got us out of the traffic but bad because now we had to run uphill. I reached the first mile after 5:49, not my fastest mile in a race ever but close. Another turn pointed us back towards Ardfert, still going uphill. I could see the leaders ahead of me, charging up a steeper incline, though in all honesty the course was fairly flat considering we are in Kerry. I managed to gain one place, and as the course took a long sweeping curve to the right caught up with a group of 3, overtaking 2 of them but not the leader. It struck me that I was already at the halfway point, two steps behind the man in front but unable to go past. We crested the highest point of the course; the second mile had been a bit slower at 6:03, but take the elevation gain into consideration and it was at least even in effort to the first one. The third mile would be net downhill, but most of the drop would not come until the last quarter mile. I expected to be able to pass the man in front at the first downhill section, but as soon as I drew level he put in a surge that took him a couple of steps ahead of me and since I was already going full tilt I could not respond.

One thing I should probably mention is that I had started wheezing after half a mile. I always do that if the effort goes past a certain point, and today I was redlining from the start. I thought that it was a bit early to do that, but even though I might sound like I’m about to keel over in an asthmatic fit I am actually able to run just fine. But as we got into the final third of the race I could not help but notice that the breathing became increasingly loud and laboured. I was definitely looking forward to the finish line but at the same time kept thinking “I can’t believe this is almost over already!”. I tried to draw level once more but my pacer seemed to have found another gear himself. I managed to keep two steps behind him, but couldn’t get any closer. Despite all the effort, the third mile was slightly slower again at 6:04.

The finish line came in sight soon, I managed 5:14 pace on the final (downhill) 0.1 mile and was home in 18:39, 30 seconds behind my best but reasonably pleased all the same. A look at my heart rate in the chart confirms that I had been giving it all. My all-out max HR is about 190, today I had averaged 180 (that’s about 95%), and the avg HR had gone up with each mile, reaching a high of 186. That’s the highest average HR I have ever measured on a run, even including my best 5k from last year. I might have found a few extra seconds had I not run a very fast 20-miler on Tuesday, but marathon training will always get top priority.

Later on I managed a peek at the results and I was 21st overall, so there can’t have been quite as many runners ahead of me early on as I had thought. But the real surprise came at the prize ceremony: I had won the O35 category! I got a medal and my photo taken, and realised that this was the first time I had actually won a medal in running (as opposed to an everyone-gets-a-medal medal). Does that mean I am now the reigning Kerry 5k Road Racing Champion in the O35 category? Considering that there had been 20 guys ahead of me I won’t get too big-headed just yet, but I was very pleased all the same, and maybe the kids were a tiny wincy little bit impressed, but I’m not entirely sure about that.
4 Apr
5 miles, 39:41, 7:56 pace, HR 139
5 Apr
10 miles, including:

Kerry 5km Road Championships, Ardfert
21st overall, 1st O35, 18:39, 5:57 pace

Weekly mileage: 68.5 miles


  1. Well done. A great way to start a taper

  2. Well done Champ, well deserved and earned. It's not every day you become a 5K champion while training for a marathon. Rest well.

    No wonder the guy in front of you was running so fast, 'he was trying to get away from your wheezing!!!
    Have you been checked for asthma, maybe an inhaler could help you run faster!

  4. I should have said run 'EVEN' FASTER!!!

  5. Nice work. The heart rate monitor tells all. That's an impressive effort. Congrats on the hardware!

  6. Nice little tune up Thomas. Congrats on the medal, and best of luck w/ the rest of your training for Boston!

  7. Very nice Thomas, congratulations

  8. Congratulations on the race, well done Thomas. Rest up, 14 days and coutning...

  9. Congratulations on your o35 prize!

    Keep all the positives in your mind from this race as you taper for Boston.

    Well done


  10. Way to go Thomas! You're the one to beat next year. That's the trouble with being the champion.

  11. congrats, I've never tried a short race a few weeks out from the marathon, pretty good job considered your now trained to go the long haul

  12. congrats Thomas and nice run. Great confidence boost for Boston!!

  13. Hi Thomas,

    Wow you did a 20 miler on Tues and still able to pull out an AGer win?


  14. Good job! I wheeze too when I redline, funny how you can keep the pace, though?

  15. Yes it does... and you'll have to defend your title next year!

    Great race and tune-up for Boston Thomas. Enjoy the taper.

  16. congratulations.
    You look well toned-up for the Marathon...
    A) please do not make experiments ... from now on stick to all your habits !! (sleep, nutrition, clothing, etc, etc !!)

    B) for Boston, my personal reccomandation is to run with your HRM and keep in check the effort until the hills. Split times are petty unrelevant on that course and not worth bothering at each mile if you are faster/slower than the target. But is critical to keep a steady effort on the ups/downs until the "big hills" come

  17. Congratulations on an age group win! A nice little race to clear the carbon out of the pipes.

  18. Wishing you all the very best in Boston,good luck

  19. Well done on your win, I'm well impressed with your pace. One of these days I'll win an V40 category :)

  20. Yes! you are the champion!! one week to go! (i'm trying to finagle a way to get there. will let you know deets once I figure it out!)