RACES: Arklow 2 Miler

My injury progression continues to gather pace: Over the last week’s I’ve managed a few more runs (up to 4 per week) and while most have had to be kept at 9k and lower distances, a 15km hill run with Aoife and Shane on Monday gave hope for more and indeed yesterday Diarmuid took us out on a marvellous 2 hour 16 minute run from Glendalough to Trooperstown and back through Clara Vale.

The club offered me a spot on the Dublin Senior team again, which I’m grateful for given my current fitness doesn’t warrant it. While I would have loved a shot at a rematch, I couldn’t have done the shirt or myself any justice in an event of that calibre after the last difficult period, so passed it up for a more low-key comeback event in Wicklow. Dublin Seniors 2011, with a bit of fortune, let it happen!

Wicklow Fit4Life

Every year Athletics Wicklow, often personified in the figure of Parnell AC’s Bill Porter, stage a series of Fit4Life races of all distances and on multiple terrains. I’ve attended the Rathdrum 3k and the Ashford 5k in the past and these events are much like IMRA events used to be, low-key and informal (IMRA events are no longer low-key although still relatively informal!).

This year, Aoife and I opted for the Arklow 2 Mile road race as a good setting for her weekly progress calibration run. For myself, I wanted to test two things:

  1. Progression of the injury
  2. Degree of fitness loss in the last 10 weeks

The course was flat, if windy, around the little lake in Arklow next to the low grassy dike which shields the old harbour town from the crackling waves.

1 Mile, 2 Mile, done…

In Wicklow you can always count on familiar faces: Hugh Kinsella, Ben Mooney and Tony Collins, experienced hill runners all, were out and so was Wexford athlete Fiona Kehoe who has raced well this year lowering her PBs for 800m and 5k to 2:10 and 17:14 among other notable results.

The distances under 3k are particularly treacherous and lull you into a false sense of security before very quickly pulling the rug from under you. So as we hit 1k in 3:29 and 1 mile in 5:45 and I still felt like having a chat and kept thinking “this is easy”, I just about managed to shut down the constant “attack, attack, attack” message hammering away in my brain.

Sure enough, second time we hit the windy stretch next to the dike the world felt like a crueller place, and I was content to just steady the ship. On our first lap, I had managed to close a gap on a group of seven runners in order to use them as a windshield but this time our group had fallen to pieces and every man had to battle the wind on his own.

I passed Hugh around this stage and then almost tripped a runner in blue trying to pass him as he cleverly hugged the inside curve of the narrow path between the trees. Luckily I had time to apologise before going on my way. Looking down at my watch I read 600m to go and decided it was time to up the effort again. Coming into the final bend I was safe from any late “kickers” and told myself not to risk an all-out sprint but instead just gently increase my leg-turnover and let it squeeze me over the finish.

Although intensity crept up as the minutes ticked off, both me and most of my competitors slowed down as we approached the line. Our second mile came in at six minutes clean, I hit 3k in 10:59, 2 miles in 11:42 (new PB as this is my first!) and 12:04 for the 3.32km course. Kilometres were 3:29, 3:39 and 3:49.

Hugh came in shortly after and Aoife followed as second lady after Fiona not much later. Results weren’t immediately available but Tony Collins had finished 4th after his recent 2nd spot in the Wicklow Novices Cross-Country so the small field had some decent quality up front.

My system rates this as a TPL 27 which is the same level of fitness I had in April during pre-season and not too bad considering the lay-off. I won’t expect hitting the TPL 22 performances I did in mid-summer again this year, but given I controlled my effort very well today and left a bit in the tank, I may have one last solid race in my before winter training starts on January 2nd.