Six runs, two sessions, one race, 60km run, 2200m climbed, and one world champion. It’s all in a weekend’s work, a Kerry Weekend, that is, away with IMRA. Here’s the first instalment about the thirty-something who dared a weekend of adventure and long nights…
Racing season begun surrounding the excitement of having embarked Wicklow’s green hills for the grey and yellow hues of Kerry’s mountains. First activity on the itinerary was the Good Friday run in Killarney. Aoife and I dropped off our gear in Kenmare and headed northwards again to start the race. We were joined by Brendan, Maura, Dee, Rob, Eamonn, James Clancy, Niamh Garvey and Lornie from our travelling IMRA contingent.
The race started close to the Cathedral and consisted of three loops all leading you in through the main street of town. I set off close enough to the front and settled into a fast relaxed stride, trying to engage as little muscle power as possible before Carrauntoohil. The first kilometre flew by and my breathing was so relaxed I was wondering if I went off too slow. “3:29min/km” it read. “Is there a a blow-up ahead?” I reflected comparing how much faster than the 3:44min/km target (the required pace to run 29:59, my aim for the day) this had been.
Sub-30 or beyond?
I turned my thoughts to keeping the pace for a brief period, “28:02” sounded good and my last interval session suggested that 28:12 would be an outside possibility for my current VO2 max development. Then the second kilometre went by in 3:55 and I realised we had run on a slight downhill now replaced by a small drag which we would hit thrice more with some headwind to boot. I sped up again and gained back a few paces I had lost early on. James and Eamonn said I was just a few hundred metres ahead of them at this time. Aoife was also very close for the first kilometre and was afraid I was about to have a very bad day. The whole field has sped off, then settled back as they reacted to the route topography.
Feeling ostensibly fresh, I put in 3:39 and 3:40 and got a major kick out of running through the town centre with people cheering including Caroline and Rachel, two more from our merry mountain band. It was nip/tuck for a while with the M45 winner who passed me for a second time late on the second lap. His breathing had been very audibly compared to mine since the first kilometre, so I tried to keep the pace at a level where I stayed in touch with him and kept chasing the second woman who was just ahead for the majority of the race. Half of me felt guilty for this sort of work-evasion, the other half felt sneakily tactical and banked on the people ahead of me burning their candles faster than I did mine.
Outsprinting the ladies…
Everyone around seemed to slow on the hillier fifth and sixth kilometres, so I knew it was time to take off to secure sub-30. Runners came back to me at a fair rate now and there was no more runners threatening behind me. 800m to go and I upped it another notch taking out my earlier adversary and the second lady. The sharp corner onto the main street finish flew towards me, and I passed another three runners then another two and the final bend was upon me. “Let’s hear it for the leading lady,” the speakers roared,”Sprint,” I thought and managed a 27 second 150m to finish to gain one more spot. My eyes gazed at the clock and saw the seconds draw towards thirty minutes too fast to allow me to react. “How could it be?” I had been ahead of target pace all the way?
“30:02”, the time recorded, and I walked over to Rob Cross: “Was it unsporting to outsprint the leading lady?” I asked him, “ah no, it’s important, you know.” Rob had finished a solid fourth, unable to close the gap on the podium on the day.
James Clancy and Eamonn both outsprinted Aoife to finish 25th and 27th while Aoife took fourth woman with a strong personal best time before Maura arrived to take the women’s over-35 prize. Dee and Lornie’s fine times secured Crusaders the women’s team title and a nice trophy. Had Jason been able to join us as planned, we could have made it a club double in the teams but on reflection it was better to have only one trophy to drink whiskey out of come Sunday evening!
Analysing the data I could see I had hit the “blue line” poorly and added 100m to the race route accounting for a loss of about 23 seconds at the pace I had run at. Note to self: Stay closer to the curbs and aim at least 20 seconds below ideal target for longer races to avoid being caught out late by an error like this. Otherwise pacing was good with me running both my first and last 3000m splits in 11:03 and the last kilometre in 3:32, three seconds slower than the first. With 48 seconds to the next man, I caught everyone I was likely to catch with my performance on the day. Being able to run at and recover from 5:40min/mile pace for large tracts of the race was likewise very encouraging after only two interval sessions so far.
Injury healed, legs strong as rocks, form coming together and a full weekend of hill running ahead. Good Friday indeed…
Race reaction: Perfect start to the season. New PB, twelfth out of 367 runners and a run that put more into me than it took out. Things are looking well despite missing out on sub-30.
Results from the race at Redtag Timing.