2007 - 1:42:32
2008 - 1:38:56 - PB coming into today - failed attempt at a MP run.
2009 - 1:43:15 - MP run for Dublin (3:08:56 current PB)
2010 - 1:39:57 - A summer of triathlons and no endurance running.
Given my form at the Charleville HM 2 weeks ago I knew that, illness or injury permitting, I was on for a PB today - the only unknown being by what margin?
My primary goal was a PB, all things going well I should get under 1:37:30 (6:30 pace) and if I was on top form I should have a crack off 1:35 (6:20 pace) - McMillan gave me 1:35:11 (1:35:29 for the 13.07 mile Garmin measured HM) after Charleville. I didn't feel on top form getting up this morning (maybe 90%), stopping off in Tesco's en route to the race start for some paracetamol.
A gradual rise to the halfway point (3:11 lap => 23 seconds over) I take my one and only gel approaching the mile 8 waterstation as Rory falls behind (Didn't see you at the end Rory so I hope you did well) and I am joined by one of the guys I passed earlier. Mile 8 in 6:23. The guy on my shoulder more or less stayed with me for the rest of the race - good to have company although the only exchange we had over our 7 miles together went something like "It gets hilly towards the end?" to which I replied "a few long drags really, but not that bad".
The next few miles went a bit faster, aided perhaps by the gel and the drop from Cobh Cross. Miles 9, 10 & 11 in 6:15, 6:18 & 6:19. (17 seconds off 1:35) - "Could I make it back, although the worst is yet to come with the gradual rise, particularly mile 14". We passed 2 runners before mile 10 and shortly afterwards were told by a spectator that we were number 29 and 30. "who'll be number 29 at the end?" I thought. Historically over this section of the race I have found it particularly tough as fatigue sets in and and course throws a few inclines at you just to try and break your rhythm, but today I felt reasonably ok still comfortably hard but no higher gear available. We pass a walker before mile 12 but get overtaken by another guy in a West Waterford AC vest shortly afterwards - still 29th & 30th. My running companion falls behind a few yards every now and then but catches back up, giving me hope that he is nearer the limit than I.
The undulating road blunts the speed a little taking the pace back into the 6:20s with miles 12 & 13 coming in at 6:27 & 6:22 (26 seconds over). We gradually reel in and overtake a guy in an orange top as the road rises up over the rail line for the slowest mile 14 in 6:37.
One mile to go, time to push on and sure enough my companion goes out in front by a few yards and while he never gets too far in front the pep is not in my legs or my mind to put in the extra effort needed to catch him. This is the norm for me at this stage in a race - unless I am being chased down over the final 100m, I will rarely put in an "eyeballs out" effort, subconsciously settling for a sub-maximal push in the knowledge that the reward is not worth the effort. Still I push hard over the final quarter mile downhill into Cobh, half out of hope of catching the guy in front and half out of fear of being overtaken - neither happened as I crossed the line in 1:35:32 - 32 seconds over and 6:09 for my last and fastest mile of the day. With that result McMillan gives me a 1:22:50 Half - not too far off Charleville, although today I crossed the HM mark in 1:23:29.
Another PB in the bag - delighted that I was able to maintain an even pace throughout without any noticeable fade, covering 3 x 5 miles in 31:53/46/53 (2 x 7.5 miles in 47:53/39 - negative split). My calves were a bit tight afterwards but not as tight as after last Tuesdays 4 miles on the track @ 6:11 pace. I think Paul was spot on with his comment on my last post as to the likely reason why 4 miles @ 6:11 pace should feel at least as tough as 13.1 @ 6:18 pace - my lactate threshold is somewhere between 6:11 & 6:20 pace. Rule #1 - Know your LT pace. Funny how 10 seconds per mile can mean the difference between blowing up after 30 minutes and running solidly for 90 minutes and beyond. Beyond? Hmm..........26.2?