RACES: The Lakes 10k

Allow me to congratulate the organiser's of today's inaugural Lakes 10k in Blessington and extend the hope that this 10k race will assert itself as a staple on the Irish running calendar. Military efficiency on the organisation, picturesque route, just the right size of field for the event, and extremely well-laid out logistics (the essentials: baggage area, toilets, running shop, and registration tent! Had it been a hill race, a first aid tent would also have been handy).

A relaxed atmosphere permeated the starting area just next to the bridge where the startline had been laid out: Great idea to have the start with relaxing water-views enveloping you. Ryan Montgomery was nice enough to give me some Rennie anti-acid tablet which I think helped keep the stomach in check today and I met a good IMRA contingent: Mike Long, Sean Hassett, Eamonn Hodge, Dermot Murphy and Donna Mahon all showed. Sli Cualann's man-for-all-occasions and heart of their operations, Bill Porter, was also there.

I did my usual 3k warmup, some dynamics, a few strides, and took in some last minute sugar. The rest was relaxing, a perfect warmup before a race.

To the Hill
Our kick-off was accompanied by the sound of enthusiastic drummers (and quite a few of them too!) and then we were off. I found myself trailing just behind a group with Bill, Donna, and Dermot and the first 4k (slightly downhill) were blissful. Massively aerobic as I had hoped, keeping my breathing and heart steady and outside the discomfort zone!

This is also how a 10k should be: In your average 10k, 97% of all energy used comes from the Aerobic system (e.g. from fat) (Martin & Coe 1997). As so often the first kilometre proved the fastest and I went through it in 3:33 and decided to slow down a bit.

Dermot, Donna and Bill were accelerating at this stage, and while its tempting to follow runners you know, I kept myself on a short leash. A group of four lads broke a hole around the 3k mark which I duly took back between kilometre 5 and 7 and never lost again.

I had been warned of a hill around kilometre 6 and 7 but did not pay it too much heed as I had heard the route was fast and flat and expected a typical road hill that would not cost too much to scale. I had been losing a few seconds on my plan already though. At 4k, I was 9 seconds down and at 5k it had grown to 23 seconds (24 seconds short of a 5k PB coming through in 19:08).

Kilometre 6 only offered me a second back on plan and my plan punched beyond doomed on the kilometre 7 hill.

Hell of the Mid-West???
The organisers had put out a funny sign saying tough bit here! or some such phrase with a relieved phew! sign at the top of the climb just before kilometre 7 finished. While I felt I kept good form, worked hard, and kept Dermot in range here, I did slow down to 4:27 (I did not know this as I was no longer concentrating on the watch but running by feel at this stage) losing 42 seconds additionaly on the plan.

This could not be won back and crossing 8k in 30:59, I was precisely the 59 seconds down and upped the pace running 3:40, 3:42, and 3:41, a solid effort but too little to eat back the deficit. Dermot and Bill finished shortly in front of me as I missed out on beating my previous personal best of 38:28 by 3 seconds (Dermot in 38:09 and Bill between us, Donna somewhere ahead of Dermot). Eamonn came in with a very good 40:42? (or so) well ahead of his 42 schedule but lamenting the missed opportunity to break 40 (which will happen soon at any rate) and I wasn't sure of Mike and Sean but they too were not far behind. Dermot too was pleased having set a new PB for himself.

Goodies Time
I went to collect my goodie bag (I had already picked up the nice grey-purple teeshirt offered, a nice addition to the running wardrobe) and went for a 3k cooldown before doing some stretches and trying to get some food in.

Definite improvements on my stomach now and I feel half-way a healthy man again and hope to resume normal training within a few days. Today's result, while technically a step back, feels encouraging and showcases how far you can go on only aerobic training.

Compare what was essentially the same result at the National 10k in May: I had done 8 weeks of high-intensity, high-mileage training (80k a week with 3 quality sessions, one session highly specific 10k reps at 3:45 pace of up to 3k in distance). In hindsight, my best form was left on the track long before the National 10k, so we'll never know what the training could have brought.

But now, 3 weeks of half-haphazard aerobic, slow mileage has produced essentially the same!!! So the Lakes 10k helps make a good argument for Lydiard and his methods. Keep building the base, a few weeks of hill training, a few weeks of anaerobic training and a top performance would be there for the the taking.

I'll try now to run a further 2 or 3 10ks this year and see what I can do to break down to 36:50 by New Year. Felt great to be back racing. A solid event that I will recommend to everybody.