RACES: Shanganagh 3k (redux)


I woke up this morning with sore throat and a temperature so it seemed my body knew I intended to throw myself at another race this same evening. I laced up my shoes and went for my routine prerace ‘2 miles in the morning’ to loose the body out before a long day in cars and office chairs.

I have slain a few ‘bugbears’ lately and going to Shanganagh Park held a special meaning to me. It was the scene of my first race wearing a pair of VivoBarefoot shoes.

Despite setting a personal best that day, in 2012, of 10:26, it wasn’t a happy day. It was the worst personal best, relatively speaking, I have achieved, never really having gotten to grips with the 3000m distance. At the time I had also not yet gotten to grips with the full technique, power and strength required to run ‘unprotected’ and the race tunred into an unpleasant experience.

So with a team of Glendalough AC athletes competing, as part of our preparations for the Wicklow Road Championships on the 22nd of April, it was an obvious chance to exorcise some bad memories even if I knew that I would most likely continue my current streak of ‘personal worst’ performances (more of this below).

3 x 3

My 3000m performances began in Rathdrum running 11:07 on the hilly road circuit there. Next followed a track meet in Santry with a faster 10:42. Yet I was so upset by this race that I ran over and registered for the 1500m race starting a few minutes later (in which I did much better, running 5 minutes flat despite having been gunned down in the strait). Then finally Shanganagh 3k back in 2012.

The gun send us off at a predictably upbeat pace. I had no intention of sitting in the leader group only to drop off it so was a bit further back and involved in the early jostling. Half a kilometre in I found myself flanked by Marcus and Claire in a ‘Glendalough AC Wall’. It did not last!

Bill Porter, whom I had kept a good gap on at the recent Laragh Trail Run, set the pace that broke our group from the next one. The daylight that opened would not close enough for me to be able to contemplate a sprint finish. With barely 1000m run I sincerely pondered ‘stepping off the track’ but we were now on the long strait out to Eastern edge of the park and I decided ‘why to simply finish that’.

Pain levels were fairly high but I had my stride under very good control. Storm inside, quiet on the outside. Claire had dropped back from the early exertion whereas Marcus and I exchanged positions a few times. On a slight rise in the path I pushed a bit and managed to grab the lead in our group and keep it all the way across the finish line. As it drifted into sight I heard nothing for a little while and thought ‘perhaps I can cruise in here’. Something stirred behind me, though, and I kept increasing the pace which was well enough with Marcus only 2 seconds down in the end.

Strange successes

Crossing the finish line I found myself decidedly out of breath and the grass seemed inviting. Despite having run 11:32 and thus extended my spell of ‘personal worst’ times . While this streak is water off a duck’s back (after all, I had an idea of what I was getting into when I hit the reset button after the Copenhagen marathon 2012), in the six road races I have contested since then, five have been my worst. Most people wait until their fifties until starting a significant decline so at least I have gotten in there early.

Comparing to best form never makes pleasant reading:

Shanganagh 3k Time Position
2012 10:26 (VDOT 56) 27 of 93
2015 11:31 (VDOT 50) 8 of 113

It does show that the gap to be bridged to my early season form that year and while it is a big one, it is not a million miles away and with a bit of luck I will be back where I was early 2016 and then I can really return my attention to my big dream of qualifying for the Fukuoka Marathon.

The body is responding to training again which is the main thing. Ashford here we come…

Next up: Race recovery with the Kerry weekend. 4 days, 5 runs, 60+ km and plenty of adventure. Full organiser’s report…