Sunday, May 17, 2009

Killarney at the Races

The weekend's weather forecast had been rather frightening, with loads of wind and rain. In reality it turned out a lot better than it had sounded initially, not that we were spared either. The run on Saturday was a case in point. I went out for 8 miles, and from mile two on I was running in rain, which got me rather cold. Maybe that's why I ran a bit faster than planned, or maybe that's just an excuse. I did add a few strides to the second half and was happy enough to be back home after just over an hour.

No matter you much planning you put into things, they tend to work out differently. A few weeks ago I stated that I wanted to race often this summer to race myself into shape. The first race on my calendar was a 10k in Youghal, East Cork, next week, over two hours drive from here. Niamh stated that I was completely bonkers to even consider driving so far for a race, but that's the sacrifice I thought I had to make because local races seem to be rather thin on the ground. Imagine my surprise when I checked out my usual running websites on Saturday afternoon and found out that there would be a 10k in Killarney the very next day.

It wasn't exactly an ideal scenario. If I had known I would be racing on Sunday I would have run a lot shorter and slower on Saturday. Plus, my legs definitely had not fully recovered from Boston, at least that's what they felt like. And with the complete absence of speed work I wasn't going to set any records.

Race preparations didn't exactly go without a hitch. I had to re-pack the bag twice, first after Maia had emptied it (she thought it was a great game), and again after Cian had done the same (he resented the fact that I used his personal travelling bag). However, against all odds I managed to get to Killarney with a full set of gear.

One lady recognised me from my blog, which I found funny. That's as close to being a celebrity as I'll ever get (not that I would want to be one). The weather held up much better than predicted, and a few drops before the race didn't put off anyone. In fact, when the sun came out around mile 2 I felt uncomfortably hot. But I'm getting ahead of myself here, but in a way that's what I did in the race as well.

There was the usual set of fast guys, and even Niamh started to recognise a few of them. I managed to chat to my “Star of the Laune” club mate, Anthony, for the first time, and the we assembled at the start line just a couple of minutes late. The cheetahs quickly disappeared into the distance from the start, and I settled into a pace that seemed comfortably hard but sustainable. However, when I checked the Garmin half a mile later I saw that I was doing 5:30 pace. Crikey! As much as I'd love to be able to run that fast, I can't, and I slowed down to a more realistic pace. Two guys passed me and when I scanned ahead I saw 10 runners, which obviously put me into 11th place. I lost two more places over the next few minutes, but then managed to pass two different runners who apparently had started in an even more suicidal way then me, including the leading lady.

The course goes through Killarney National Park and is absolutely beautiful. I recognised the first (and last) mile or two, because the annual 5k follows the same route. The middle part saw us pass Ross Castle twice but I was so engrossed in the race that I didn't even register. I think it was around the 4k mark when I lost another place to a guy in a white t-shirt with blue sleeves. That didn't sit very well with me, but he steamed past me at such a pace that I couldn't respond.

As early as 2 km into the run I was wishing this to be over, which was a seriously bad sign. While that feeling tends to come in every race, 20% into it is way too early. I kind of managed to get into “the zone” for a while after that, but the pace suffered a bit and the average pace, which had been close to 6:00 after the first mile, was steadily moving backwards.

The middle section also had a few very short but steep climbs, followed by dips of the same kind. It didn't allow me to stay in any sort of rhythm, and paired with my ever increasing fatigue it meant that I kept slowing down. I passed the halfway mark in 19:36, but I was knackered and knew the second half would be slower. In fact, I slowed down so much over the next mile that I feared I might miss out on a sub-40 finish.

Eventually, somewhere between km 6 and 7, I realised that the white t-shirt guy came back to me, and with me in 12th position and struggling for pace, I decided to up the ante. I closed the gap, and twice he pulled away again when I drew level. The third time I drew level I passed him, but he sat on my shoulder for a bit, and my strength was faltering. We then passed each other several times; he was faster on the uphills and I had the better pace on the downhills, and neither of us was prepared to give up without a fight. At one stage we were running side by side when the blustery became very noticeable. I was tempted to fall behind my adversary and use him as a wind shield, but then thought that tactical running wasn't a good idea if you're aiming for time, and I pushed on.

I seemed to gain a few feet advantage around the 8km mark (or maybe a bit before that - the memory is failing me), but he pulled back and passed me once again. With the finish getting closer he put in a surge, and running on fumes as I was, wheezing for air, I had nothing left to respond with. With about one km left I tried to dig deep and pushed on some more. I managed to get closer once more, from about 10 steps behind to maybe half that, but on the final, torturous climb to the finish my legs gave out and all I could do was barely hang on, and I don't think I had ever been so glad at crossing the line as I was at that moment.

The final time was 39:51, 12th place I think, and I was not happy. Barely creeping under 40 minutes was not much of a consolation. I clearly was not ready to run a 10k today, but I'm glad I had not driven all the way to Youghal for such a rubbish performance. I can only hope there will be some improvement over the summer. Surely old age hasn't started to catch up with me already!

16 May
8 miles, 1:00:56, 7:37 pace, HR 158
incl. 7X100 strides
17 May
11 miles, incl:
Killarney Lions Club 10k, 39:51, 6:24 pace, 12th place, HR 178

Weekly Mileage: 62


  1. Sometimes I think looking at your garmin can be a big mistake, in a short race your always going to think shit thats to fast [ I can't run that in training].Then the negative thoughts start!
    Sure you will not be at your best just yet but the race is still fantastic training, next month your should be a minute faster [ but don't look at the garmin until the last mile].
    and less than a minute on a hilly course is quite good.
    I'm feeling the same way but I know from past years with the right training and regular training I be flying ny june- july!

  2. regular racing every 2 weeks will really increase your pace, your see the benefits very soon, for sure!

  3. nice run Tomas especially as Boston is still very much in your legs and you had a tough run the days before. Don't think too much about the time it the benefit that you got from the effort which is the key (I think).

  4. A sub 40 minute 10k is far from a rubish performance, especially so soon after Boston. Then again your definition of rubish (as in your blog title) is different than most.

  5. Try not to worry about the result, I ran a 5k on Friday... my slowest in years (and what I expected).

    Why run then? Well, a) I like racing, b) it will serve as a guide for 4-6 weeks re: pacing, and c) it was a great w/o.

    Good on you for running, well done!

  6. Yes, I bet Boston is still in your legs. Still, you put in an excellent effort!

  7. Totally agree with Rick about not relying on the Garmin for pace advice early in a race - wait for splits (if they're accurate).

    Anyway, you're probably still in Boston recovery mode - don't worry about the numbers, it's a good hitout. Keep racing and improving.

  8. sub-40 is nothing to sneeze at and the workout will give you a nice boost down the road. You'd have a hard time running that fast without a bib number now wouldn't you?

  9. Hey Thomas - random question for you. Who do you contact about getting an article published on the Complete Runner website?

  10. Yvonne, send an email to

  11. well, look at it this way: much room for improvement, right?