With a programmed 2 miles run on Saturday (hardly worth getting out of bed for) I left it for the treadmill at the gym while watching Saran and Ani at their weekly swimming lesson.
and so ................. to the race I had signed up to last November, one of the largest races on the calender the "Ballycotton 10" now in its 31st year.
This morning turned out to be a bright sunny morning with a moderate westerly cool breeze. Given the large numbers, competitors were advised to arrive at Ballycotton before 1130 hrs for the race start at 1330hrs. Thomas picked me up shortly after 1000hrs on his way from Kilorglin and we were off. While the sun was shining Thomas had seen snow enroute from Kerry and strong winds and stormy conditions had been forecast for later in the day.
While Thomas had a 65 minute target (06:30 pace) I had no plan other than to run comfortably fast for the first few miles and see how I felt - obviously I would be keeping an eye on Thomas and Brendan as I didn't expect their paces to be too dissimilar to mine.
Finally the gun went off and we moved slowly forward. I was surprised at how long it took us to cross the start line (about 15 seconds) - The first mile was slow as we ducked and weaved where possible to get past slower runners (why did they start so far forward???) all three of us within 5 yards of each other (I should know as I brought up the rear).
Mile 1 in 06:46 as I pressed the lap button much (timekeeper calling out 7 minutes even)
The crowd began to spread out as we continued into the slightly downhill 2nd mile. Brendan and Thomas were about 10 yards ahead of me at this stage but I was not inclined to catch up - the pace was slightly faster than I was willing to run at.
Then they were 20 yards ahead. If they continued at this pace I would be left behind - "so what" I thought "no point in trying to catch up and not being able to sustain the pace".
Mile 2 in 06:24 - the downhill effect.
The road levelled out and I continuted to run at a steady effort if not pace. Brendan and Thomas still ahead but not pulling away. These early miles felt tough as I did not feel I was "getting into my stride" - lack of a proper warmup probably.
Mile 3 in 06:35
Came alongside Thomas shortly after the 3 mile mark (Bendan a few yards ahead) - I remarked that we were slightly down on the 06:30 pace average. I thnik Thomas said something like "can't be helped". For the first time in the race I pulled ahead of Thomas fully aware of the likely cat and mouse game we would be playing over the next 6+ miles. I pulled alongside Brendan and we ran more or less together until mile 7.
Miles 4, 5, 6, 7 in 06:35, 06:32, 06:32 & 06:25 - Some good steady running. I certainly felt more comfortable over this section as we both continued to pass runners that had set out too fast. Brendan did say that he had set out too fast and was beginning to struggle. Still no sign of Thomas (I never look over my shoulder) but I was sure he had us in his sights. The halfway clock had just turned 33 minutes as we approached it -about 33:10 or so as we passed. Given the lag at the start I was not too far off my Mallow 10 PB half time of 32:52.
At around mile 7 I came across Nollaig Hunter (I had passed her in the last 400m of the Mallow 10 miler in January beating her by 2 seconds - she beat me by 2 mins in the Cork to Cobh 15 miler last September). We exchanged plesantries and I continued on my way.
By this time I had lost Brendan and continued to feel strong as mile 8 was a net downhill. However I wasn't getting complacent as I had heard mile 8.5 to the finish is primarily uphill and a "killer" (outward route in reverse)
Mile 8 in 06:22 - still going strong. Along a straight windy stretch at sea level for about 1/3 of a mile. Over this section two runners came up behind me and passed me out - I was sure each time that it was Thomas making his move - but as they came up on my shoulder my peripheral vision told me each time that the colour of the singlet was not yellow and therefore it was not Tomas.
Around a corner and up a short incline and onto a more gradual drag towards the 9 mile mark. Still running strong eventhough my stride shortened to account for the incline.
Mile 9 in 06:38 (Time keeper calling out 59 minutes as I approached). Sub- 66 minutes was certainly on the cards as I should easily clear the last mile in less than 7 minutes.
As I felt reasonably strong I began to push the pace closing in on a few runners and passing them out. From 1km out each 200m was marked. I knew that it was an uphill until the 200m to go mark and a slight downhill to the finish. I felt strong enough to pass a runner at the 600m mark thinking that I had only 200m of hill left - however when I rounded the corner to the 400m mark and saw the incline rise for another 200m my legs cut back (I only had the pace left for a 200m downhill and so I was overtaken and we both passed another guy who did not take too kindly to it and preceeded to burst his gut to overtake me - which, to be fair to him, he did as we approached the finish clock which read 01:05:15 as I passed under it, 2 seconds behind Mr burst a gut. "Well done" I said but he made no response or didn't turn around. 20 yards futher on one of the officials taking down race numbers asked him was he alright - so he must have appeared (from the front at least) to have been suffering badly.
My watch time gave me 01:05:04 (at 34 second PB which I am very pleased with) - Mile 10 in 06:11 the fastest mile of them all.
First half in 32:54 and second half in 32:10 (4 seconds slower than my 5 mile PB)
Marathon Training Week 12/24 - 44 miles or so. The next month is 10k training for a sub 40 minute in early April.
Thanks for the lift Thomas and apologies for lengthening your already long journey by leaving my phone in your car
Have to go now as there is pressure from the kids to get on the PC. I will let Thomas tell his story. Have a good one.