As the track is closed this evening I decided to join Brendan for a tempo run this morning to make sure I got some speedwork in. We were joined by about 200 more on a beautiful sunny morning for a 4 miler in Ballinhassig organised by Rising Sun AC ( the "5th Annual Paddy Desmond Memorial Ballinhassing 4" to give it it's proper title).
Brendan ran it last year and warned about the hill start - the start line in on a slope and the course rises over the first half mile or so, the next mile and a half is predominately downhill passing through "Halfway" village before turing left and back along the main Cork-Bandon road to Ballinhassig - mile 3 being flat and mile 4 giving way to a nasty incline before dropping down over the last quarter of a mile to the finish line.
We warmed up by running the first mile of the course - the hill start will certainly be a challenge - Brendan said that he was right up with the leaders at the start last year with the pace scacely under 7 minutes per mile. Not the recommended course for a PB. Then again my year old PB of 25:19 should be a relatively soft target - I equalled it a week after running Amsterdam in October on a flat course, but this hill start today would be no walkover. It was either going to be today or Sunday's Munster Master's 4 miler in Beaufort in which I would dip below the 25 minuter barrier for the first time.
There was quite a few from the Club at the start line (Pat Murphy, Denis Looney, Pat Twomey, Austin Brown, Siobhan Murphy, Denis Carrol, John Desmond and Seamus Cahill to name a few) so there were plenty of black Eagle AC singlets to keep an eye on. The start was a bit of a low key affair - we were all standing around and someone shouted "go". I had scarcely time to start my watch. The run up the hill was steady and I ran well within myself so that when we crested the top I was not winded. It was surprising though to see the leader ahead (about 150 yards) with 30 yards on the chasing group. The downhill to the first mile mark saw 2 or 3 pass me at a quick pace and stay about 10 yards ahead. I was then passed by a group of 3 (a woman and two men). They were about 5 yards ahead when I decided to reel them in and tuck in behind them. I did this as we passed the first mile mark -
Mile 1 in 06:15 - that was a surprisingly fast first mile "bang on 25 minute pace, I should be able to maintain this pace to the end............hang on I have the wind at my back at the moment, I'm bound to lose time heading into the wind from the 2 mile mark".
I maintained a steady pace over the downhill second mile keeping in with the little group I had joined. By the time we hit the 2 mile mark we had reeled in the 3 who had passed me before the first mile mark. Mile 2 in 06:00. We were now facing into the wind along the hardshoulder of the main road. There was no benefit in drafting as we were being hit sideways by the wind. This was a tough mile but I managed to keep the pace steady close to the front of the group as we reeled in one or two more. I thought I was doing reasonably well until I looked at the 06:22 mile pace on the Garmin. The sub-25 would not be achieved with this pace. Some passed me out and went ahead by a few yards but then got pulled back into the group. I was keeping pace with 2 guys in front of me by concentrating on their leg turnover. We passed the 3 mile mark
Mile 3 in 06:19 - That was a tough mile. "Last mile - only 6 minutes more of this stress, although the incline is still to come".
I continued churning out the same leg turnover, not sure what finish pace I was on. The incline came and I kept my leg turnover steady making sure to keep pace with the 2 guys in front but to my surprise my pace took me past them up the hill (Uphills certainly suit me compared to others). I was passed by one guy though, lest I get cocky about my uphill ability. There was another guy about 10 yards ahead of me who I recognised as one of the "fast guys" from the track - surely I wouldn't pass him, but I did. I was now praying for the top of the incline to come as I was feeling very fatigued. It came just as I arrived on the shoulder of the next guy as we both quickened the pace down a steep slip road (my watch showed me that I had about 2 minutes left to run) - however I didn't have the speed/energy to overtake him and with about a minute to go he began to edge slightly more in front and I had no answer when the "fast guy" sprinted past me on the downhill to the finish - I was now counting down strides over the last minute - 100 ought to do it and then I saw the finish line as I rounded a row of horse boxes parked along the side of the road (there were "hunter trials" on in the lands adjacent to the finish line) I crossed the line and stopped the Garmin - which showed 24:47 as my finish time - YES finally under the 25 minute mark Mile 4 in 06:13.
There was no clock at the finish and nor were the results available before I left - so i'll leave the sidebar alone until I get official confirmation (I may lose a second or 2 but I'm certain of the sub-25). I certainly am happy with that result given the hilly start - which only means that there is room for improvement on a flatter course.
I warmed down with Bendan over 2 miles on the nearby pitch (I think he got 23:15 or thereabouts, which he thinks gives him 12th spot - not a bad result at all).
When I got home Abina and the Children had already left for the Patricks Day Parade and when I rang her they were already in town and said that traffic was chaotic - so I used the opportunity to get some x-training in and hopped on the bike and cycled the 8 miles into town (took the long route). I was glad that the bike carriers were on the roof of her car though and she graciously offered me a lift home. The weather has been absolutely fantastic - as good as a summers day.
I'm hoping to get back into higer mileage weeks for the Cork marthon in 11 weeks time but have to be careful in getting the right mix of speedwork and long runs so that I don't either overtrain or peak too early.
Mon 16th Mar
11.47 miles in 01:24:47 (07:21 pace @ 141 HR) - Sort of progression run as I ended up with 7:00 and 06:51 for the last 2 miles.
Tue 17th Mar
8.54 miles with 4 miles in 24:47 (06:12 pace @ 164HR)
Happy Paddys Day.
Postscript: My official time is 24:48 (32 out of 194 finishers)