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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1 comment:

Roy said...

Nice post Chris - not sure how the organisers persuade DCC, Luas etc. to close the roads. Must be double the usual chaos on the roads.