A year ago I reported narrowly missing my 5 mile PB of 32:06 in Ballycotton where I posted 32:14. Since then I shaved 3 seconds off it in Bandon at the end of December with 32:03, which is still a soft target compared to my other PB's. So yesterday evening I headed off to Ballycotton to see if I could break the 32 minute barrier and get a real indication of where I am and what my training paces should be. I headed down with Eamon Fitzgerald, a neighbour who had done the previous three races in the series (this was my one and only) and was looking for the coveted plaque given out to those who completed all four (which also guarantees entry to the Ballycotton 10 next March). Traffic was a bit heavy which meant that I had little time for a warmup before the race, getting in less than a mile (not ideal, but that's life). We met up with another neighbour, Pat, who was also in contention for a plaque. The weather was perfect - a beautiful sunny evening. I met David O'Mahony (who also dabbles in Tri) before the race, who indicated that he was heading for 32 minutes so I thought it would be good to start with him - I knew he was capable of faster as he is generally in front of me at the finish line. We stood back about 5 yards from the front runners and when the gun went off there was a slow shuffle for a few seconds before the pace gradually picked up. The pace remained relatively slow over the first quarter of a mile as the congestion was worse than anticipated. As Dave is smaller he managed to squeeze into spaces that I could not and within a matter of a minute he was gone from view. To be honest I probably needed the first half mile to complete my warmup and gradually increase the pace. This half mile was against the wind and the protection of the throng in front of me was welcome. The first mile is primarily downhill and it was relatively easy to pick up the pace towards 6:20 (sub-conscious target pace) - which is the exact time called out at the 1 mile mark. I was on Pat's shoulder at this stage - he was looking strong and came with me for a short while as we continued to pass runners. Left at 1.6 miles and into the wind again. I eased into a comfortable pace drafting off 2 runners in front, knowing that I could go faster but taking advantage to shelter from the worst of the wind. After a short while others began to bunch behind us until one or two pushed ahead - I followed but tucked in behind the front guy. The timekeeper at mile 2, while looking at his watch, did not call out times. (Garmin beeped a 6:22 mile about 20 yards ahead of the marker). Left again away from the wind at 2.5 miles and the first hill of the evening with a gradual rise and a short steep section to the 3 mile mark. At the bottom of the rise I came on the shoulder of Dave, who was "chatting" to another guy. "I must be doing good" I thought "although he can't be suffering as much as I am if he's chatting". Dave came with me as I passed him by, still behind the guy I had been drafting off - although now I was tracking him. Up the short steep hill and left past the 3 mile mark. "19:20" the timekeeper called out as we passed. While I didn't have the computational skills to extrapolate a result from that time (something to do with the exertion of the preceding hill), I did think that I hadn't even covered 5k in 19:20. The 4th mile was undulating which for some strange reason I enjoyed and continued to pass others, with Dave on my shoulder. I'd pull away from him on the downhills and he'd catch up on the uphill noting that I made better use of gravity. "Yeah but i'm fu@k*d on the uphills" was all I could reply. While I wished the race to be over I maintained a solid pace and even passed the guy I had been tracking. "25:25" was the time called out as we passed the 4 mile mark. I knew that I had over 6 and a half minutes to make my sub-32 target and so continued to push, reminding myself that the effort would be worth it and that there was a short distance left. I had left Dave behind me at this stage, how far I didn't know. There were 2 runners about 20 yards in front with half a mile to go. Previously I would have settled for keeping my position behind these 2 (if I was lucky enough not to fade) but I was running at a pace that I wanted to maintain at all cost, despite the discomfort and gradually reeled them in and passed them out just before the 400m to go sign. I was now running scared, close to empty but managed to inject a little extra pace whenever I heard footfalls behind me, which appeared to work until the last 100m when I heard a steam train approaching from behind and while I kicked as hard as I could (i'm not a sprint finisher) I was no match for the guy blasting past me for the finish line. Dave wasn't that far behind me after all. I couldn't have lost to a nicer guy. When I told him afterwards my dismay at being passed so close to the finish he apologised. There was no clock at the finish so I had to check the Garmin, which gave me a 31:21 finish - My official result is 31:22. My mile splits (from a combination of the course timekeepers and the Garmin) were:- 6:20 6:27 (drafting) 6:33 (hill) 6:05 5:57 my splits last year were:- 6:24 6:32 6:44 6:22 6:10 This is my third PB this year, and while the other 2 (10 & 4 miles) rate better using the McMillan running calculator I am pleased with the result as everything is going in the right direction and I have little speedwork under my belt - to be quite honest I don't need a lot of speedwork as my race distances will be increasing over the coming months - HM in 2 weeks, 15 miler in 5 weeks and M in 8 weeks. Mon 24th Aug 8.59 miles in 1:10:42 (08:14 @ 132HR) - with 10 x 15 sec hill sprints Tue 25th Aug 15 miles in 1:52:35 (07:30 pace @ 140HR) - combined 3 mile mixed tempo run (avg 6:39 pace) with a mid week long run so that I could have an easier day before the Ballycotton 5. Wed 26th Aug 9 miles in 1:15:37 (08:24 pace @ 132HR) - barefoot run (6.5 miles on road and 2.5 miles on the beach) Thur 27th Aug a.m. 2.17 miles in 18:15 (8:24 pace @ 126HR) - following 20 mile bike ride in wind and rain p.m. 6.83 miles with 5 miles in 31:22 (6:16 pace @ 160HR) .............and finally Jim Moriarity, who was unable to complete the Bo Peep Traithlon due to injury, was on hand to take a few finishing shots of me approaching/crossing the line.
The final results show my time as 31:23. We all got pushed back one place.