Saturday, September 14, 2013

Run Like A Girl

Let me confess straight away, I am not a great fan of the Women's Mini marathons. Road running has always been a very inclusive sport for everyone, helped by its accessibility, so to exclude half the population for gender reasons does not sit all that well with me. I get it that some women don't feel comfortable running with men, I still don't like the exclusion.

As I was standing at the start line today at noon, I was feeling slightly uncomfortable for 2 reasons. One, because a male in this environment just didn't fit, two, because pacing 40 minutes seemed a fairly tough task. When Catriona had asked me 3 weeks ago if I would pace it, my first question had been if she really wanted a male pacer, which she insisted on (in fact, all pacers today were male), and my second was for her to wait a couple of weeks until I could confirm (or not) if I would be able to run fast enough, still only 5 weeks after destroying my legs over 100 miles in Connemara. I did a test earlier this week, expecting to fail, but I came through so I confirmed my participation and as a result found myself surrounded by femininity as the gun went off.

I had checked last year's result when 3 women had run faster than 40 minutes and knew perfectly well that I might be in for a lonely run. Three ladies took off faster than me but I caught 2 of them on the first hill, still within the first kilometre, but at least the leading lady looked fast and comfortable enough to ensure that I would not be the first across the line, thank goodness.

Some of the km markers might have been slightly off, which did not help the pacing job. According to my Garmin I should have had a couple of seconds cushion at the first km but was 10 seconds behind and I was still 4 seconds slow at km 2. We went up Knockreer hill (hey, nobody mentioned I would have to run a hill!) and by km 4 I passed the markers a couple of seconds ahead of time. Unfortunately I was pretty much running in nowhere land with the first lady a minute ahead of me and the second a minute behind, so I don't think anyone really benefited from my pacing today. I could not slow down to assist the runner behind me, that's not how it works if you're pacing a certain time.

I felt surprisingly comfortable at that pace and always knew that running under 40 minutes was never in question. I was able to admire the beautiful surroundings (coming over the hill and looking at Loch Leane was particularly stunning) and enjoy the beautifully sunny day, which I could not have done had I been racing all out.

I passed all markers between km 6 and 9 about 20 seconds ahead of time, just where I would want to be, so I was confident I'd be just a few seconds under 40, but when the finish line drew close I realised that there was a slight problem, namely a short course. Even the announcer noticed ("you better slow down mate") but I wasn't going to wait in front of the line for a minute just for time's sake so jogged home and finished in about 38:40. I think the course was about 250 meters short, and Catriona confirmed that they had not been allowed to put the finish gantry where they had planned (at least I think that's what she said). The other pacers came home about a minute too early as well, and my Garmin said 6.1 miles, Chris's said 6.07 and Sean's even less, so yes, it was not an accurate course.

Ah well. I still enjoyed running a bit faster today and all the ladies I saw seemed to really enjoy themselves and treasure the achievement.

Oh, and thanks to Anne for giving her medal to Maia. She was thrilled!
12 Sep
10 miles, 1:18:16, 7:50 pace, HR 149
13 Sep
10 miles, 1:18:19, 7:50 pace, HR 144
14 Sep
am: 5 miles, 41:26, 8:16 pace, HR 132
pm: 7+ miles, including Killarney women's mini marathon in 38:40, HR 173


  1. I am trying to follow your blog but don't see a link so i can join. Can you add it? Would love to follow you!


  2. Shame about the short course. I looked at the result first and raised eyebrows wondering how you'd stuffed up by so much!

  3. That's great pacing, well done! We have a few series of the woman only races over here as well and I am also not a fan.

  4. The woman only races started out, because women were loosing their hard earned titles in mixed races and they were told that they're just drifting off men... Ironically, having men pacers create the same effect. Therefore, organizers should make up their minds about this issue... I participated in two women only races and didn't like them much. I think everyone can achieve their goals in a mixed environment and no one should be excluded. Great blog and fantastic job!