Sunday, 9 September 2007

A Race Of Two Halves

This morning turned out to be a bright sunny morning for the Cork Half Marathon. Following registration I went for a 2 mile warmup run with 35 minutes to go. I could feel the heat of the sun bearing down on me and knew that this was not a day for a Personal Best. Hydration was the name of the game today particularly if I was to avoid a repeat of last thursdays cramp. . Speaking to one of the other runners before the race I was informed of the 2 mile rise into Grenagh Village after mile 4. Given the uncertainty with my right calf I opted for an easy pace strategy, particularly over the first half of the course - a training run of sorts. . I kept an eye out for Thomas before the race but could not find him. At one stage I thought I spotted him warming up but when I gave chase he had disappeared. Either his warmup pace was too fast for me of he ducked behind a bush. . I got in line mid-way through the group of starters (no point in getting carried away) and the flag went down to cheers of "Up the Rebels" (Cork being the Rebel County facing Kerry in next sunday's all-Ireland football Final). . I started off at a relatively comfortable pace with quite a few runners passing me out over the first two miles or so. I did not mind as I was following my plan. If I needed reminding the tightness in my calf was enough. My heart rate was 148 to 150 so I was quite comfortable. It felt strange, like I was being held back - in third gear when five are available. I was like a dog pulling on an invisible leash but still I held to my pace. A clock at the 4 mile mark showed 30:30 as I passed (07:37 pace). A number of runners that had passed me out were now coming back to me - like a game of cat and mouse. . The rise to Grenagh Village was before me, however I held my pace as it was not too challenging - My HR began to rise into the 160's where it should be for racing mode. This is where I began to pass quite a number of runners who had slowed down for the rise. The final rise into Grenagh was the steepest part of the course. Coming out of the village there was a steady drop over half a mile. I was running alongside two other guys and stated that "we were on the home straight" (meaning the return leg). One guy responded that we still had half the race before us. However I never felt better, the tightness in my calf was receding, the heat had not got to me yet as I was still in relatively comfortable running mode. . The three of us stayed more or less together for the next mile to the 8 mile mark with me taking up the rear. After mile 8 I surged ahead and left the other two behind. I was hoping I could maintain the pace for the next 5 miles to the finish line. The route was relatively flat now and I began picking off one or two runners every half mile. The conservative race strategy, while not going to give me a PB, was certainly paying off in term of psychological benefit. . With about 3 miles to go I was finally feeling the strain (not on my calf) and was looking forward to the end. I passed a guy and a girl at mile 10 but the girl came back and we continued to play cat and mouse for the next 2.5 miles before she surged ahead to finish two place (and about 20 seconds) in front of me. I came in under the clock in 01:35;50 which was well outside my PB of 01:32:29. However I was satisfied with the run given my condition going into it and the heat on the day. The overall pace was 07:19 @ 161 average HR. (first half pace of 07:37 approx and second half at 07:11 approx - I did not take splits) I was glad I had carried a sports drink around the course as drinking out of plastic cups at the water stations proved difficult unless you were willing to stop. I preferred to throw the water over my head as a mean of cooling down. . When I had finished and started to stretch the tightness in my right calf returned tenfold. It was painful to walk for awhile afterwards. I returned to the clubhouse showered and had complimentary tea and sandwiches all the while keeping an eye out for Thomas - but to no avail. I should have arranged something more concrete with him instead of trying to idenfity him from his blog picture. He was propably over the county bounds and back in Kerry by the time I crossed the finish line. I can't wait to see his race report and see if he got his PB. Post Script I completed 52.7 miles for the week. My posted paces were wrong while my first half averaged at 07:37 pace the second half was at 07:00 pace to give an overall average of 07:19.


  1. I kept an eye out for you too, but we must have been looking past each other! Yes, we must arrange something more concrete next time, for sure. I was a few minutes ahead of you, and most likely was in the clubhouse at the same time afterwards, having a shower and getting changed.

    My race report is up and I got my PR. The report is much too long, as always, but that's me.

    (P.S. If you really think you'll get your grubby hands on Sam on Sunday you've got another thing coming)

  2. Glad you made it through the race in one piece Grellan. That's a great result all things considered - should be a good confidence booster with such a strong second half.