Saturday, July 27, 2013

One Bloody Big Hill

I wasn't sure if running a 10k halfway between the 10in10 and the Connemara 100 was a good idea, but after all the long miles of very slow running I have done over the recent months a few faster miles to blow out some cobwebs in the fast twitch muscle fibres sounded like a good idea. Plus, there is that really steep road you can see from Rossbeigh Beach going up the mountain and I always wanted to run that one, and guess where the race went today!

So I found myself at the start line in Glenbeigh on this drizzly grey morning, but the conditions were pretty much ideal for running a 10k. I knew I was not in race shape and I knew the course was not a PB course, and both these assertions are rather understated, and I reckoned I would be lucky to break 40 minutes. In any case, Arthur Fitzgerald's presence meant nobody else had to worry about victory today.

The organisation of the start could do with some improvement, suddenly and entirely without warning we got a shout to go, nobody had lined up, my Garmin was not set up and everyone was completely taken by surprise, but of course we ran off anyway. I settled in fifth place and within 2k I was in third, but I was already hurting and since I knew what was about to hit us I was wondering if I would blow up soon.

The hill started before the 4k marker right at the famous Rossbeigh beach and it immediately got serious. All in all we climbed over 450 feet in less than a mile and yes, that's rather steep. I know I said I always wanted to run that road, but I seriously questioned my judgement because doing so at 10k race intensity is a rather painful way for the experience. Nevertheless I drew closer and closer to the runner in front of me, by the time we finally reached the top, miraculously without collapsing, I was close enough for him to clearly hear my footsteps but as soon as we went downhill he was gone in no time.

Until the start of this year I always used to be a weak uphill and strong downhill runner but this has completely reversed; I attribute my climbing strength to my mountain runs on the Kerry Way but I would love to have similar success on the downhills. Today was even worse than usual because I simply did not have the leg turnover, the legs just would not move fast enough and there was nothing I could do. It was not entirely surprising because I had done no speedwork whatsoever in several months and my legs still have much of the 10in10 in them, so all I could do was accept it and hope nobody would catch me from behind because I sure was not going to make up a place myself.

Thankfully the downhill gradient was much smoother than the uphill had been, it took us the best part of 4k to reach the bottom again, and from there on there was another wicked climb up to the finish, not steep but with 9k in the legs I'm sure I wasn't the only one wishing for this to be over pretty damn soon.

I had no idea how far ahead I was of fourth place and I wasn't going to look behind me so I just pushed as much as I could. I rounded the final bend into the GAA ground and saw the clock just a few seconds away from 40 minutes. I tried to stay below but missed out by a couple of seconds, but after the chaotic start I'm not entirely convinced we started at the same time as the clock and in real time I might have just dipped under it, but who cares. 

A 40 minute 10k might not really deserve a podium finish but that's what I got and I sure wasn't going to complain about it, and the prize money will come in handy and was gratefully received. I did as well as expected, no better and no worse, and the main objective had been to have a bit of fun and get the legs moving at a different speed for a change, and from that point of view it was a highly successful race.

23 Jul
5 miles, 40:00, 8:00 pace, HR 131
24 Jul
5 miles, 39:04, 7:48 pace, HR 135
25 Jul
7 miles, 55:01, 7:51 pace, HR 134
26 Jul
6 miles, 45:30, 7:34 pace, HR 137
   incl half a mile @ 6:15 pace
27 Jul
9+ miles, including Glenbeigh 10k in 40:00, HR 174, 6:27 pace
   3rd place


  1. 40 minutes for 10k on a course like that is incredible. Well done. Great to snag a podium too. I busted my arse yesterday to break 50 for 10 on a dead-flat course. No doubt you would have been up with Ultra guru Martin Fryer, who was just under 37 minutes.

  2. As above, 40 minutes for such a challenging course is brilliant. A lot of runners would struggle to get that on a flat course!
    Good luck in Connemara, and if you need anything for running, check our website out! We'd be more than happy to help.