Friday, July 23, 2010

St. James Hospital Liberties 6.5k Road Race

A spur of the moment decision saw me head off to Dublin on a bright Thursday evening to take part in the St. James Hospital Liberties 6.5k.
An unusual distance but the course was around streets that I had travelled many times when I lived in the big smoke, I guess it had a certain nostalgic draw for me.
I had left work early to allow time to park at my parents house and run to Kilmainham to sign on before 7.00 pm for a 7.45 start time.

A call from my friend Sean offering to register me for the race and a good run through the Dublin traffic left me with enough time to have a relaxed cuppa and a chat with my folks before I set off for the 1.5 mile warm up run to the venue.
I met Sean at the entrance to the Royal Hospital, collected my number from his car, then we trotted off for a leg loosening jog.

On Saturday I'd made the mistake of starting too far back from the line, I was not going to make that error again. There was only 2 lines of people separating me from the start line when the gun went off.
The first several hundred metres were hectic with some tight corners but the crowd quickly thinned out, with the exception of a idiot cutting me off at one of the turns, forcing me to adjust my stride, it was relatively steady.

After about 1/2 - 3/4 of a mile there were about 3 or 4 of us running at about the same pace, we weren't running as an organised group, just someone would pass by and then be passed again, this went on for a couple of miles.
Despite the fact that my legs were a little tired from this weeks training and a race 5 days previously I was feeling ok for the first couple of miles. As we turned onto Patricks Street and headed towards Christchurch hill I started to feel a heaviness in my legs. I was still close to 2 other runners but a gap had opened. The distance between us remained constant up the hill - I was pleased about that - but it was stretching out along High Street, I just couldn't get the legs to move any faster.
I had decided to run by feel, resisting the temptation to look at my watch for pace readings but taking the occasional glance at the distance. I took a reflex look when the second mile beeped... 6.15 ... I'm not sure how I felt about that, it was slightly faster than I had expected but I knew I was fading.

It's brilliant that we were able to run through a capital city on a Thursday evening on closed roads. I have to hand it to the organisers, all the junctions were manned by stewarts and/or the police. There were people along the route cheering the runners on, some good craic from the lads outside the pubs.

Random thoughts can be weird, while heading towards the main gate for James hospital I noticed I was travelling along the LUAS tracks, although I hurting I found myself trying to work out how long they would have to stop the trams for, "that must be a logistical nightmare for them, it will throw the schedule out for the night" Told you it was weird...

Going through the hospital grounds I spotted a photographer I tried my best to smile, I suspect it was probably more like a horrible grimace, at least I made the effort.
Near the hospital exit I was delighted to see my dad and son cheering me on.
Son shouts "Sean has just gone past" ok, I kinda knew that as I had seen his back as he disappeared from sight shortly after the start.
My dad - or as we would say in Dublin, me da - shouts "you're about 15th"
While running up the South Circular Road I was thinking "15th, nah, that's way out" I figured he was telling me porkies to keep me motivated, I tried to work out how many places he would lie by but gave up when I realised it didn't actually matter - I did find it amusing, I must ask him next time I see him.

I could see the traffic lights ahead where we would make the right turn to Kilmainham. "Ok, just keep steady, right at the lights, down the hill, up the hill, turn right into the hospital, finish, easy"
I was listening to somebody closing up on me, a woman, I knew by the breathing. She passed me just before the traffic lights, I took the turn there really wide and lost some distance on her.
I overtook her on the uphill before the hospital entrance - she was been well cheered by the spectators, she was 3rd placed woman - I fully expected her to pass me on the finishing straight but she seemed to fade there.

On the run to the finish I had glanced behind a couple of times to check if anyone was closing but it was all clear. I was a yard from the line when a guy shot past me. I was a bit annoyed to lose a place for not checking behind me more often - another lesson learned.

I had a very enjoyable chat with Sean afterwards - he had a fantastic time and finished 14th - I was happy to have run an average of about 13 seconds per mile faster than Saturdays 5 mile race, with a finishing place of 35th. I also had my fastest ever race mile, so not a bad result for a spur of the moment race.

Nice T-shirt, good course, well organised - I'll be back next year....
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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Irish Runner 5 Mile Race Phoenix Park

I've been so lazy about posting on this blog over the past months.
The main events that I missed posts on are:
The Carlow 150 - cycle
The Blackstairs Challenge - cycle
The Wicklow 2oo - cycle
Kilcoole 5 Mile - road run
I hope to eventually put on something about these but for now the Irish Runner 5 Mile Race is on my mind.

As part of my training schedule for this years Dublin Marathon I've recently increased my weekly mileage so I hoped to use this run to gauge what level I was at.

I ran just over 3 miles at a gentle pace for a warm up. I had been a little worried about a sore right foot when I was wearing my racing flats but it seemed fine.
I stepped over the plastic barrier into the sub 40 minutes pen and made my way towards the front. I stopped at what I thought was a fair distance from the line so I wouldn't impede the fast runners but not get caught in traffic myself... how wrong I was.

While waiting for the start I had a good look at the runners around me, I realise how deceptive appearances can be but I couldn't help thinking that it would be a stretch for some of these people to make sub 40.

The buzzer sounded and we made our way to the start line, we were packed like sardines pushing through the starting area.
I had expected the crowd to thin out as we headed down the main road but it was wall to wall fat arsed people with a high opinion of their ability.
A totally frustrating time followed trying to weave through the bodies, slow down, accelerate for a gap, stutter step to avoid tripping on feet. It made for an aggravating time when I should have been getting into a rhythm.
I had set my watch to an optimistic 6.25 min miles and despite all the weaving and pace changing I was only 10 seconds slower than target at the first mile. I knew that there was a good downhill section in the next mile along the Kyber road, I thought that I would make up a few seconds along here. Again the traffic was so heavy that I was actually dropping time on the downhill.
I was so annoyed at this point that I briefly considered giving up the race altogether.
Then weirdest thing happened, a herd of deer tried to cross the road, some made it through the runners - don't know how they did that without hitting anyone - anyway, some idiots just in front of me put their arms up and slowed down to let the rest of deer cross. These retards had several thousand people running downhill behind them, what were they thinking? I suppose they weren't actually thinking about the carnage they could have caused. I noticed that my shout of "fuck them" was greeted with some odd looks. To my mind I was in a hurry but the deer had all the time in the world. Maybe I should have kept my opinion to

The next section was uphill, I was feeling good on the hill, although some weaving was required to avoid the runners that were going backwards, I felt strong and didn't drop any time - something of a minor miracle, the advantage of living in a hilly area.

I had hoped to get in with a group running a my pace but I spent the entire race either passing or being passed but never managed to find a shoulder to shelter behind.
I was dropping a few seconds per mile for miles 3 & 4 especially mile 4 where I dropped 19 seconds. I tried to push for the 5th mile and was doing well, I did get forced onto the kerb twice on the turn onto Chesterfield Road this really messed up whatever rhythm my little legs still had.
Despite that the last mile was the fasted average mile so I was happy with that.

I turned onto the final straight, a sign said only 400m to go. I tried to push for the line but I don't think I actually accelerated. I couldn't believe when I saw the clock at the finishing line reading 32.10. Something wrong here ? My eyes were glued to the seconds counting down on the clock 20,21,22 I crossed the line at about 32.28.
This was bang on my target time and when adjusted for the delay crossing the start line gave me a better than expected result. My watch was showing 32.01... Happy days !!!
I checked my official result later on the web 32.02 - 291 overall and 20 in category.

I was gutted afterwards to find that the course was short measured.
It was still a personal best by a long way but I'm still annoyed about the course measurement.

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