When I returned to my car last Saturday morning with 7.5 of my 46 miles still remaining to be completed I was on my last legs - absolutely no energy left. The gel and half bottle of coke I had consumed 7.5 miles previously had given me a great boost but the effect had long worn off and I was now on empty, completely flat and simply ingesting more coke was not going the light the fire under my arse that was necessary to get me moving again. I needed to sit down, rest and see where I would go from there. I could always go home and complete the last 7.5 miles later in the day when I had recovered a bit. I knew deep down that this was unlikely to happen as once I hit home the rest of the day would be mapped out for me - I already had to pick up a set of cymbals to complete Safan's Christmas drum kit and a few last minute provisions in the English Market on the way home.
After a few minutes rest I decided I would walk the last 7.5 miles if I had to and so I headed out from Pairc Ui Caoimhe along the old rail line on a 3.75 mile out and back struggle. After 100 yards I managed to break into a slow jog, which felt no worse than walking and on I went, counting down the miles to the turnaround where I walked for a minute or 2 and consumed the remainder of my coke before resuming my slow jog - averaging a pace between 9:00 and 9:30. After a while I forgot about the end-game and just concentrated on each step I was taking, living in the present moment - and isn't it all about the journey. Eventually I arrived back at the car, no worse than I had been 7.5 miles earlier, after learning a valuable lesson in the perseverance of the mind and body. Just when you think you can go no further just concentrate on the next step and you will be amazed at what you can achieve.
I averaged 2,560 miles for the year in just over 341 hours giving an average pace of 8:00. The relatively high mileage ultra training for the first 6 months saw my average monthly pace rise to 8:39 in June for the Portumna 100k (my longest race to-date @ 9:16:28). Thereafter the mileage dropped off as quantity gave way to quality and my average monthly pace dropped to 7:24 by October - which explains my best race result of the year at the Dublin City Marathon.
The year was turning out to be a year of ultra PB's (Connemara and Portumna) and Marathon pacing (Limerick, Cork, Dingle and Dublin) until I decided in July to get some speed back into my legs and train for the Charleville HM in September (1:22:32 PB) and the Cork to Cobh 15 miler (another PB in 1:35:32). At the last minute I decided to trust my good form and race the Dublin City Marathon at the end of October, chasing the holy grail of a sub 3-hour marathon and managing to scrape under the bar with a 2:59:19 PB, not too shabby for an M45 - no need to chase down those age-group PB's yet!
As for 2012, well all I can say at this stage is here's to more PB's, new frontiers and Happy New Year!