Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Great Limerick Run - Guest Race Report

Kate Harrison, Whom John and I paced to a sub 3:30 (3:28:43) on Sunday, wrote a great race report on Boards.ie and kindly let me publish it here. It gives a good insight into what it takes to achieve your marathon goal, provided it is realistic - and to be fair to Kate she had done her sums and had set a tough but achievable target (very often we tend to base out marathon targets on dreams rather that reality - it may work for a half marathon, but the marathon is an unforgiving distance)

Kate's last race before Limerick, the K Club 10k (42:54), was the best result in her training programme (if times are plugged into mcmillanrunning.com), closely followed by her HM (1:36:34) and 5k (20:52). All these results suggest a marathon time of between 3:21:17 and 3:23:17 - although I am a bit skeptical about Mcmillan marathon time predictions, particularly for those that do not have a solid endurance base of 5+ years - for example, in 2011 my HM PB predicted a 2:53 marathon ahead of my 2:59 PB. 

Anyway Kate, pulled off a fantastic result in only her second marathon, improving her marathon PB by a massive 29 minutes from 3:57 and here's how she did it -  Enjoy

Great Limerick Run 2013


I think the HM in Waterford was my springboard for 2013. It really cemented the work I had put in for DCM 2012 and gave me a heap of confidence. My plan was to do Limerick as a training run for the 50k in Portumna and I can’t really remember when or why that changed and Limerick became my goal race. Shortly before Christmas I started trying to put a plan together but it was not as easy as I anticipated. While most of the people on the graduate thread were keen to follow P&D I had taken a quick look at the plan and decided that I hated it. So I asked Meno to help and he did up my own plan for me. It was basically a session on a Wed, a lsr at the w/e and whatever I liked for the rest of the week to make up the mileage and I loved it. I really enjoyed the training and I think that took a lot of the pressure off when I was aiming for a time. I could see myself improving every week and I even managed to look forward to the Wed sessions. P

Training weeks: 18
Total miles = 763
Max weekly miles = 62
Av weekly miles = 42.4
Long runs = 22 x 3, 20 x 1, 18 x 2
MP runs = 75m in 12 runs
HMP runs = 12m in 2 runs
5 runs with strides included
4 runs with hill sprints
1 interval session at 10m pace


- Tom Brennan 5k: 20:52
- Dungarvan 10m : 1:17:32
- Bohermeen HM: 1:36:34
- Kclub 10k: 42:54

Missed days:

I was sick twice

– the first time before Dungarvan I missed 5 running days completely
- the second time wasn’t as bad but I had to swop all the runs for easy runs, forgo a session and shorten the lsr

So all in all I was pretty delighted with the training. My RHR was down to 43 and my weight was 9st 3lb (compared to 54 and 9st 10lbs for DCM)


Drove down to Limerick early on Saturday. The expo was a bit of a non event but at least I was able to get my car parked in the hotel car park. And I had an afternoon power nap. Saturday evening I met up with Dilbert, Gavlor and his buddy, Runchick and family, Killian and family and runwithme and we had a lovely dinner at an Italian. I was in bed early enough although with the fireworks and the general city noise it was hard enough to sleep.

I woke up several times and at half 6 I decided I might as well get up. I don’t normally eat before I run in the mornings so I decided to go with what I had in Dublin for breakfast – coffee,cheerios and a banana. When I got up and I looked out the window it was misty and cloudy but as the morning went on it looked like it might get sunny. I lashed on factor 50 suncream just to be sure grabbed half a mars bar and headed to the start. It was 8:10 when I got there and they were only just putting up the start at that stage. It was so relaxed compared to Dublin. And everyone was so friendly. I even got to talk to a leprachaun who was cycling his bike round the marathon. I do admit to thinking "he better not get in my way"

I made a beeline for the pacers as soon as I saw them. John and Grellan were pacing 3:30 so I introduced myself and we had a good chat about how I was going to run my race. Can’t say they were overly impressed when I told them it was my 2nd marathon and that my pb was 3:57. In fact John was giving me a few concerned looks and I think it was a bit of a relief to him when I told him I did the Meath HM in 1:36. He warned me though to keep it handy early on and to stay with them till at least mile 20!

The Race:

Mile 1 – 5:

Lined up shadowing John and Grellan and pretty much stayed on their heels for the first few miles. Big cheer from Meno and Blockic round the corner from the start and again on O’ Connell St. Happy that my breathing was nice and controlled. I had brought half a bottle of water with me and was sipping it for the first few miles just to keep my mouth from getting too dry. Didn’t bother with water from the first station at Mile 3 and I took a gel around mile 4. It made my stomach feel a bit queasy but it passed after a few minutes. Had a few words with Dilbert around mile 4 but we weren’t talking much. In fact our group was quiet enough....all very business-like

Splits: 7:56, 7:51, 7:45, 7:55, 7:50

Mile 6- 10:

Crossed over the 10k mat in 49:17 (Position 231) and then we had to go over this horrible bridge. I didn’t like it at all and I was hoping we didn’t have to go over it a second time. It's called the living bridge and its awful to run over because you’re legs go all wobbly. Didn’t see much of Dilbert in UL. He had gone on ahead of the group and I was still shadowing J and G but we caught up to him again going down the dual carriageway.

I took my second gel around the 60 min mark. It was cool seeing the guys ahead of us between mile 7 and 8. The two lead guys looked to be cruising as did Angela Mc Cann, the winning lady. Think I saw Gavlor with the 3 hr group but it was hard to pick him out in the group On the way back up around mile 10 I spotted Killian going well with the 4:15’s and I gave him a shout. Few slower splits here because we had a good bit of time banked. I was hardly looking at my watch at all but J and G were calling out how much time we had banked at every mile. I was good and comfortable and I even felt a bit Marthastew-ish running along with a big smile on my face

Splits: 8:13, 8:13, 7:53, 7:47, 8:03

Mile 10- 15:

Passed halfway in 1:44:07 (Position 217). Still feeling strong and breathing was well under control. About this time the marshals started shouting at me that I was the 8th female.....happy days. Another girl in a purple top joined our little band of pacees here. She had run Dublin in 3:33 and I was getting a bit competitive thinking she is not finishing in front of me.

Took a 3rd gel sometime around the halfway mark. They were going down well now and I was sipping water at all the stations. Our group was sound passing around water and getting each other water from the stations. It was like a big happy family run. Now and again when the sun broke through the clouds it was quite hot and I was glad I had the sun cream on.

Splits: 7:47, 8:02, 8:15, 8:08, 8:03

Mile 16 – 20:

I was telling myself at 16 miles ok just 10m to go. Same as the race in Dungarvan and you’re in better shape now. You can do it! Dropped the girl in the purple top around mile 17 and one of the girls further up must have slowed too because I was now in 7th position. Took my last gel with caffeine in it after the 2 hour mark.

30k split 2:28:02 (Position 184). Running up O Connell street was great with the support and I was thinking I’m going well. Someone yelled ‘Its all downhill from here’ lying bastid


Splits: 8:09, 7:57, 7:43, 7:40, 7:55

Mile 21 – Finish:

Got a tiny bit carried away here with the downhill and the crowds and opened up a small gap ahead of the pacers. I was telling myself you’ve still 5 miles to go nice and easy now, don’t go too fast and I think I was only ever a small bit in front of the lads. I was having a little race with a guy in a grey shirt and we were swopping the lead a good bit.

I grabbed some lucozade sport and some water from the station at mile 22. I was squirting the water over my head and down the back of my neck and it was helping a bit to keep me focused. The hills around Thomond Park were a killer. They were only small but it was one after another after another. Around mile 23 I was in a good bit of pain. Legs were heavy and it was a big effort to keep the pace up. All I could focus on were the constant inclines.

Guy in the grey shirt opened up a 10m gap on me and then I heard the dreaded “3:30 pacers coming through” Fcuk how did that happen. John and Grellan were brilliant with the encouragement though. When they said step by step you can do it, I was thinking of the inch by inch clip of Al Pacino that Guinang had mentioned on my log

I stayed with the pace group in a good position until a little hill around mile 24 knocked me back about 30m off them. I could still hear J and G shouting at me. Come on Kate, Pick it up Kate. Where are you Kate but I was fighting really hard to hang on and not slow down. Central governor was saying ya, ya on you go lads about your business I’m grand here and racer Kate was like come on faster, faster, keep with them.

It was at a stalemate and I was just able to maintain my position when I heard the lads at the top of a little incline going “Casualty. She’s down. Kate you’re up a position”. It didn’t register with me though. My mind was fuzzy and so I was still thinking I was in 7th place

When I got to the top of the incline the lads were roaring at me Kate there’s a woman in front of you down there. Hunt her down Kate. You can take her. It’s funny the effect it had on me. It was like someone had switched on a light in my brain I got a burst of adrenaline and my legs got a new lease of life. Imagine a cat fast asleep and then in the corner of its eye it spots a mouse and its like every muscle and nerve is immediately on high alert. That’s what it felt like.

That last two miles was the best ever. I caught up with the pace group and the lads were still on with this hunt her down Kate which nearly made me burst out laughing. Then Grellan went beyond the pacer call of duty when he told me to follow him. So we’re going down this little hill and there’s two women about 100m and 200m in front of me and Grellan is like right we have to burst past them now Kate. So the first one is easy. She’s under pressure and I pass her out no bother and then to add insult to injury I cut in front of her and take her racing line Also pass the guy in the grey shirt

The next lady is stronger and she has a companion encouraging her. She’s still 50m in front of me and I can see this blue thing that looks like the finish but Grellan tells me no you have to go through that then over the bridge and up O’ Connell street about 50m to the finish. So I move to the outside of Grellan and we overtake her before the blue thing and then Grellan is like “Go Kate Put it all in now. If you have to collapse over the finish line so be it” ......... and then I’m round the corner, over the bridge and when I see the finish I give it everything I’ve got. I cross the line and the first emotion that hits me is pure relief. Yes I can stop now. My legs are like jelly. The last mile is my fastest and the fourth lady is 13 sec behind me

Splits: 7:47, 8:15, 8:30, 8:15, 7:46, 7:34 (1:36)

Chip time: 3:28:43

Garmin: 3:28:48 26.22 miles Pace: 7:58/mi

Gender Position: 4 The 3rd lady finished in 3:14 though so a bit of work to do yet!!

Overall Position: 123

Didn’t get any prize.....but who needs a prize when you have the glory and honour

I got a lovely massage after. It was heaven and then I headed back to the hotel for a shower. I didn’t bother bringing a bag because our hotel was very near the finish. I was going so slowly though and a lovely ambulance man saw the goosebumps on my arms and brought me one of those foil blanket things. That was nice I had a shower and a little rest and then I walked up to the Clarion to meet the others. I was still walking like a geriatric but I had improved a good bit.


PS - John and I did get a bit carried away over the closing mile, running alongside Kate and temporarily neglecting our other Pacee's (apologies) until Kate was safely in 4th position. To put it in perspective the last person we encouraged over the line was the 6th Female in 3:29:59 (Clock)


  1. Kate, brilliant run, well done, we're obviously talking about future podium places here. Congratulations!

    Grellan, if I snitch on you neglecting your pacing duties, you'll be in serious trouble ;-)

  2. Good story, thanks for sharing. Amazing how well even pacing works in a marathon. My second in '81 was 3:28 and from memory I was about 3 minutes slower in the second half.

    Grellan, well done. I think McMillan is okay if you're a very well trained marathoner and good fat burner. Probably a good indication of potential rather than what you'll run based on a recent HM time.

  3. Great fun reading that , well done Kate and Grellan.
    Kate is hooked Grellan, you will see her again some day in a 3.15 pacing group I imagine though.

    Great stuff.

    Best wishes Keith.