It late in the evening so i'll be relativelybrief. I got my 10 mile PB in Mallow today, but for the 28 seconds I knocked off my Ballycotton time 2 weeks ago (21 second PB) I went through a whole lot more suffering. Whereas in Ballycotton I suffered during the last mile (and still ran it in 6:02), today I suffered pretty much for the second half of the race. The race was also a polar opposite to Ballycotton, whereby my 55 second negative split two weeks ago was replaced by a 39 second positive split today - to be quite honest it felt as if it was worse, so perhaps the struggle over the second half of the race limited the damage.
Going Well to Mile 6
I started off a few rows back (in hindsight I could and should have started up front as there was no timing mat at the start and the first 400m was a struggle to stay upright as I dodged in and out between slower runners). I shared the first mile with Brendan and despite the fact that it contained a reasonable climb we managed to churn it out in 6:18. The road levelled out during mile 2 as we turned left onto the Cork/Mallow Road - Mile 2 in 6:15 (a bit surprised that it was not much faster). Clubmates Anne-Marie and Colin were 30 yards ahead (both with PB's well under 62), with John O'C 10 yards further ahead (PB about 61:58). I ran at my own pace and closed the gap over the gradual downhill mile 3 which came in a relatively fast 5:53. Turn left onto the Killarney Road - took a drop of water at mile 3.5 and joined a group with Colin and Anne-Marie - sharing the lead so as to shield the others from the frustrating head wind - Mile 4 in 6:07 (feeling relatively strong). Shortly after Colin and Anne-Marie began to pull ahead slightly - Mile 5 in 6:16 and halfway in 30:49.
Internal Struggle at Mile 6 or 7
I thought that if I could maintain pace and even split the race I'd get comfortably under 62 minutes. That was a big IF though, as there would be no repeat of the downhill 5:53 mile 3 during the second half. We turn left away from the headwind and onto a minor road with a few short ups and downs and I began to feel the pressure. Colin and Anne-Marie are about 10 yards ahead in a small group of runners, including Tom Sheehan of Bandon AC, whom I had shared a few of the middle miles of the Clonakilty Marathon with last December - he was looking very strong today. Mile 6 came in 6:16.
At this stage maintaining pace relative to those in front was becoming uncomfortably hard and there was no thought of trying to close the gap - just the negative thought of "when is the gap going to open up...I don't know how I can keep the pace going" To reinforce this negative feeling Mile 7 came in 6:26 which is my slowest so far and a real dent in my confidence as it is all I can to to maintain the effort. All i'm thinking of is the number of minutes left to run. A guy came on my shoulder on a short incline and I was fully expecting him to pass but I appeared to have a faster pace on the flat and declines and he yo-yos back and forth behind me for a mile. Mile 8, coming in 6:12 explains why I am still on the tail of Colin and Anne-Marie. I keep the leg speed going but the effort is becoming more and more unsustainable. Still I maintained pace compared to those in front with one or two of the group coming back to me. 1 guy , in particular shared most of the last 2 miles with me.
Mile 9 comes in 6:20. Just hang on for 6 more minutes. I keep the pace steady, knowing that I have nothing in my legs for the typical push over the last half mile. Left onto the Bridge over the Blackwater - 5 minutes left - cross the bridge and left again - 4 minutes left. The guy beside me begins to pull away, Colin and Anne-Marie also increasing the gap as the paces quicken in anticipation of the finish line. I am just hanging on, no zip left - just a minute left as we approach the last corner - I am passed by 3 guys in quick succession and have no response - legs like jelly - 50 yards left - I hear applause for someone behind and with the finishing line in sight my subconscious allows me to quicken the pace for the brief sprint to the line - 6:14 for the last mile - nothing like the strong 6:02 final mile in Ballycotton and 1:02:17 for the 10 mile PB. Glad of the PB but disappointed that I didn't get under 62 minutes.
I can't explain why I found the race so tough compared to Ballycotton - there's a fine line between comfortably hard and uncomfortably hard and I must have crossed it today. Certainly the day was warmer and the headwind didn't help - but I don't think they were much of a factor. Maybe there's a lot to be said for the slow start in Ballycotton - should I have aimed for a 31:00/31:20 first half so as to set myself up for a 30:40/31:00 second half? Still tough, considering my 5 mile PB is 30:24. Maybe last weekends 30 miler was still in my legs. Interestingly it took me more heartbeats to complete todays run compared to Ballycotton (627/km compared to 623 two weeks ago - and they say Ballycotton is tougher) Either way 62:17 was all I was capable of today and that's my first PB of the year, not bad for an old guy of 46 I suppose. The results put me in 78th place out of 1,088 finishers and 12th M45 (there's a few faster old guys out there). Well done to Mallow AC for puting on a fantastic, well organised race.
I'll leave you with another table comparing some of my shorter distance PB's with the corresponding times for these distances I ran today - maybe it's time for some short race training. Have a good week.
I started running shortly after my 40th birthday to train for the "once in a lifetime marathon" (mid-life crisis and all that) and haven't been able to stop since. This blog charts my progress as I attempt to go farther and faster than I have ever gone before.