Saturday, 8 March 2008

Ballycotton 10 - still on the upward slope.

As this was a programmed recovery week my scheduled runs for Friday and Saturday were short and easy. As Abina was working on Thursday night Saran, our 4 years old boy who still snuggles up to her at night, used me as a substitute - so when 0530 hrs came on friday morning my attempt to slip out for a run was thwarted and I got a further hour+ in bed (I actually felt more tired when I did manage to get up at 0720hrs. I still managed to get 5.85 miles in at lunch time.

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.

We arrived in Ballycotton shortly after 11 and managed to get into one of the temporary carparks close to the village. After parking we met Brendan, a colleague from work who was also running the race. After walking the half mile to the village, browsing around the race HQ - not much to see unless you wanted to buy some last minutes running gear, we headed for the baggage area which was literally a field with some race officials handing out tags with your race number on it and plastic bags to put your belongings in. We hung around for awhile and used the portaloos as we didn't want to tog off and expose our bits to the cold wind until it was absoplutely necessary. Thomas and Brendan compared their garmin 305's (my Polar was left in the shade)
With 40 minutes to go we took off our outer layers, packed our bags and left for the start area. We completed a short warmup run to the end of the pier (bracingly cold when the wind blew) and back to the start area - less than half a mile. We stood between the sub 58 min and sub 65 min signs and counted down the minutes to the start (the last sign I could see was "sub-75 min" - what about all those 80 min plus runners that must have been in the 2,000+ strong crowd).

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.


  1. What a great race report Grellan! You had me right there with you, not looking over your shoulder, trying to pick off the next victim. That sub 40 should be easy now.

  2. No cat and mouse games, I simply could not keep up with you. Congratulations.

    P.S. the storm is in Kerry by now (10pm Sunday). It's scary outside.

  3. Fantastic race indeed and a great race report. In my wildest dreams, I can't imagine cruising along comfortably at 6:30 for 10 miles ... at least I can read about it.

  4. The macmillan calculator gives a 39:00 10k for a 65:20 10 miler. I very confidently predict that you will have no problem whatsoever with a sub-40 10k.

  5. Good report Grellan,

    I came in at 1:09:45 - I had even had 'special' attention from the First Aiders at the end. For my weekly mileage and ability level I was pretty happy with that time - shagged, but happy.

  6. Great report! Great race!

    I am thinking of crawling in a cave and living my running life vicariously through yours...its much more exciting.

    Another PR bites the dust. Well done.

  7. Nice race report. I love the way you could exchange plesantries with someone after 7 or 8 miles as if it was the most normal thing and headed on.

    That's a great time, well done.

  8. Great run mate! I enjoyed reading that - especially as my beers are safe ;) I've already given myself a pat on the back for being a good judge of form.

    Almost a 5 mile PB for the second half is impressive. I agree with the others - 39, or even something in the 38s for 10k is a given after that.