Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year

Several years ago, when I had only just broken 20 minutes in th 5k, a guy called Eric Sondag predicted that I would one day break into the 17s. It was a highly flattering show of confidence by a great runner (Eric would later win the Fargo marathon), but I never quite got there, and by now time was definitely no longer on my side.

However, the race on St. Stephen's Day convinced me that I had a realistic chance to finally go under 18 minutes. It was definitely not a given and I knew I had to run damn hard to get there, but I was reasonably confident, enough to openly state my goal time of sub-18 to anyone who asked.

Sunday's long(ish) run had been a bit harder than it should have been, not helped by a very strong wind, and Monday's hill drills weren't exactly great fun but I felt pretty good at the start.

We started very much on time (highly unusual for Ireland) and from the off I felt I hit just the right effort level, pretty hard but at the same time sustainable for a while. The course is almost completely flat, 2 loops of a triangle in Phoenix Park. There was a bit of wind but nowhere near as bad as over the last few days, and we started right into the wind, which meant is was possible to try and tuck behind someone. Having said that, I was more concerned with overtaking a good few people who had started fast but could not sustain it and I did not want to be held back. The first km marker took a while to appear - today was going to be hard work, but I kept at it.

Photo courtesy of Peter Mooney

For a while I was sandwiched between 2 ladies, Annette and Leona, who both had plenty of supporters along the sidelines urging them on. Annette eventually managed to pull away during the second loop, and I lost a couple of places. I tried to go with the guys passing me but was already pretty much at the limit and had no reserves to speed up.

The saving grace of 5ks is that they are over so quickly, and the second lap drew to a close. I tried to up the pace for something resembling a finishing sprint. I'm not sure if I even got faster, but at least it was sufficient to hold off the guy behind me. The clock at the finish gantry was slightly obscured and I could see it displaying 17:5x, and a couple of anxious seconds later I knew that I would indeed break the 18 minutes, finally proofing Eric right.

Photo courtesy of Darren Spring

I managed to congratulate Olympian Maria McCambridge on her win and chatted with a few folk I know in Dublin, mostly marathon pacers.

The average pace for a 17:55 5K is 5:45; my Garmin had me in even better shape because it measured 3.18 miles, 5:37 pace, but of course it is the official distance that counts.

The final result has me in 40th place and 3rd M40, which sounds pretty good for such a competitive race. It was a great start to the New Year. Happy 2013!

30 Dec
17 miles, 2:07:15, 7:29 pace, HR 145
31 Dec
8.5 miles, 1:08:54, 8:06 pace, HR 145
   Hill Drills: strides, thigh drive, downhill strides
01 Jan
8 miles, including:
   Phoenix Park 5K, 17:55, 5:45 pace, 40th place, 3rd M40


  1. Well done Thomas. You are hitting all the right milestones needed to get another sub 3. Maybe Ballycotton sub 60 for your next PB? Just curious what was your HR reading during the race?

    1. The Garmin track for the race is here. Unfortunately, the HR data is messed up for the first 2 miles.

  2. Brilliant start to the year Thomas

  3. Right up there with 2 of the 5 elite irish marathon women who are sub 2:50ers, I see great things coming for 2013.

  4. Excellent Thomas.... I'm guessing Tralee marathon will be a sub2.55 for you..... Regards aodhagan (ps if that's too slow no offence

  5. Wow, your journey just keeps getting better and better. Well worth following. Congratulations.

  6. what a start to 2013. congrats on breaking 18 mins.

  7. Awesome and inspiring as always! Have a super 2013 Thomas!

  8. Pretty damn good run considering the previous two days. With fresh legs you could be looking at 17:30.

  9. Well done, what a great way to bring in the new year :-)

    All bodes well for breaking PB's at longer distances as well.

  10. Well done, Thomas! I was just writing MC that it was an easy prediction to make given how consistent you are. Absolutely fantastic work! Congrats!

  11. Now that's what I'm talking about. A proper race - not one of these 4.31 mile imperialist pieces of rubbish.

    Not sure I'd go as far as Bob, but maybe 17:45 fresh. My mate McMillan gives you a 2:54 marathon but I'm thinking closer to 2:50. You're a 'pure marathoner' like my friend Rachel and she ran 2:51 off 18/38 5/10 times.

  12. Congrats. A great start! Best of luck with Tralee campaign.

  13. Outstanding! Not easy to achieve that kind of 5K time! I've got to pick up my game or you'll be passing me sooner or later!