Monday, September 20, 2010

Dublin Half Marathon 2010

The old engine hasn't been running too smoothly in recent times, especially the last few weeks it's been coughing and spluttering in a bad way.
Ideally a full engine replacement would be in order but in these bad economic times the best I could hope for is a full service. Until I can get that done I will just have to hope that the motor doesn't have a major breakdown.

As is now the norm for these races I arrived to the Phoenix Park via Sean's house. I did a 3 mile warm up at very low revs, then headed to the starting pens.
Some week ago I had a fair idea of a target time, this had changed in the intervening weeks as I revised it upwards because of the failing condition of the engine.
I hadn't realised that there were pacers for this race, as I made my way towards the start line I saw the balloons denoting the various pace categories. The ones I noticed were 1.40 and 1.30.
Hmm !! 1.40 was too slow, was 1.30 too fast, that pace, 6.50 minute miles, would put me on my limit for the distance. Decisions, decisions... To hell with it, I pushed up behind the 1.30 guys. My thinking here was to start at 1.30 pace and see how things went. I was also pleased to recognise some Boardsies.

Starting gun fires, clutch out, accelerator to the floor, wheels spinning, thousands pile down the wide, straight Chesterfield Avenue. I found myself jockeying for position, in the malee I saw that I was travelling along the painted centre divide, here I had another surreal Johnny Cash moment when the song I walked the line popped into my head.
The first mile felt remarkably easy, I was ticking over nicely, I was somewhat surprised to realise we had done a 6.50 mile. The next miles were slightly less comfortable but I wasn't under any major stress. The most difficult thing for me was holding my position close to the pacers. I was constantly pushed back and squeezed out of position - this was very much down to my lack of race experience - things improved when I became more aggressive about holding my position or pushing through gaps.
At 5 miles I was still with the pacer, thinking that if I was still with them at 7 miles I could afford to take a full minute a mile extra to the finish and still have a personal best time, funny how the mind works at times.

The first uphill of note, Kyber Road, at about 7.5 miles, was the first sign of trouble. The pacer zoomed up the hill and despite trying to force extra revs from the ailing engine they quickly opened a gap. The hill was shorter and less severe than I had remembered, I was delighted to reach the crest only 30-40 yards behind the pacers. I hoped that over the next few miles I could kick in the turbo and gradually close the gap.

Acres Road was exposed to the wind, I was alone on this stretch looking at the tightly pack group ahead and wishing for the shelter they could give, at times I felt I was closing them down but on reflection I think the distance remained more or less constant.
A tight turn brought us alongside the football pitches.
A quick check of the systems revealed some possible problems but nothing catastrophic. I even high fived one of the kids cheering at the roadside.

Another sharp turn brought me on to Military Road.
At 9.5 miles disaster struck, the timing belt went, this brought the engine to a complete stop and although I attempted a temporary repair by moving at waking pace and forcing in the remaining fuel, the damage was done. I got the engine started again but it would only tick over at low revs. Arriving at the pit stop less that a mile further along the road, I spotted my number 1 mechanic, Christopher at the front of the line of helpers. I stopped beside him and took on some water, I think at this point the water pump was fried anyway but I continued at walking pace through the pit stop, trying not to hinder any of the other vehicles. On exiting I was again met by Christopher, I stopped to chat with him and his encouragement for me to make temporary repairs pushed me on and got me ticking over again.

The remaining 3 miles were all about getting over the line. I was nursing the wrecked engine along, been passed by a stream of others when this one passed me, to add insult to injury, as he passed his clacker valve went, resulting in an extremely long, watery fart like sound. On another day I would had commented that there should be a stewards enquiry for his effort but today I couldn't care less.

The chequered flag was long packed away by the time I crossed the line. I did manage to get one last effort in the final 200 yard but it was too little too late.
I had known that a breakdown was on the cards during this race considering the abuse the engine had sustained, especially in the previous week at Achill Roar Adventure Race and some coughing and spluttering in recent days but the sudden and catastrophic failure was a little more than I had expected.
It's nearly time for a full overhaul, one more adventure, WAR, next weekend, one more 20 mile LSR the following, then 3 glorious weeks taper for the Dublin City Marathon.

My finishing time of 1.34.58 is a personal best by 2.5 minutes, so not a total disaster but to be honest I would have liked a slightly faster result..
Time: 1.34.58
Overall position: 664
Position in category: 51

Accompanied by Sean a refueling at Ryans afterwards helped immensely. I had the pleasure of meeting a group of Boardsies there, always good to put faces to names.
A quick stop at Wheelworx on the way home to buy Christopher his first cycling shoes completed an interesting day.

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Shay said...

well done Chris,keep up the reports

Chris Cassidy said...

Thanks for the kind words Shay