The course was flat but the weather was awful. Cold and windy - the worst combination. Apparently we're experiencing some Arctic air at the moment and the east to north easterly winds today certainly confirmed that!!
Dungarvan 10 - COURSE MAP
Grellan and I travelled to the race together arriving at the planned 11am - 2 hours ahead of the start time and allowing enough time to register ahead of the 12:15 deadline and get a parking spot directly outside the race HQ - perfect!!
After a 3.64 mile warm up @ 8:41 min/mile pace it was back to the race HQ for some warmth. That may not have been the best idea as the cold wind seemed all the colder when we emerged 5 minutes before race start. Still though the 500m jog to the start line was enough to allow the acclimatization process to be complete!! I decided to run as if it was a mid summer race i.e shorts and singlet which drew a few comments along the lines of "mad man" etc. from those dressed in thermals and hats!! Grellan had decided to experiment with wearing skins in a race - a tactic I predict cost him 5 secs per mile!!
The start was crowded - approx 1,000 runners and I misjudged the actual start line so I initially lined up towards the back of the field. On realising my mistake I worked my way forward and surprisingly the further forward I walked the more space there was. Was everyone afraid of leading I wonder?? Eventually Grellan and I lined up about 6 or 7 rows back from the front. That was the last we saw of each other...
The first mile was largely uphill but this did not deter a lot of runners from racing off at a pace which was beyond them!! So a lot of weaving was the order of the day. I reached the first mile mark in 6:13 (Mile 1) on target which was tentatively 6:15.
Mile 2 brought us on to the Dungarvan bypass and was also largely uphill. My split was 6:06 (Mile 2) a bit fast but I felt comfortable.
Mile 3 brought us out onto country roads which were very scenic and quiet except for the mass of lunatic runners who had nothing better to do on a Sunday morning!! The course was reported to be a flat one so I was surprised to see the long slightly uphill drags. My split for Mile 3 was 6:12.
Mid way through the fourth mile I tried to kill myself by drowning at the water station!! How do you drink efficiently from a polystyrene cup at 6 minute pace? Despite this my Mile 4 split was 6:01. My quads were beginning to feel fatigued and my breathing was laboured - "why did I run yesterday" was my only thought!!
I had tagged on to a runner (Barry? or so one spectator called him) who I heard say while chatting during the second mile that he was aiming for 62minutes. He was running well so I stayed approx 10 to 20m behind and kept pace. Mile 5 was completed in 6:03. Running through the mile marker I heard the split as 30:4X - wow - I've just run a modern day 5 mile PB (by nearly a minute!!) and ran nearly a minute faster than I had in Mallow a few weeks ago!! Mr Garmin recorded my 5 mile split as 30:36 so I'll take that!!
Mile 6 was more of the same but at this stage the runners were getting sparse so no-mans-land was beckoning. Despite this I kept tracking Barry and the Mile 6 split was 6:13.
Thanks to a steep decent during Mile 7 my legs got to relax a bit and my split was 6:06 which, despite the heavy breathing and tired legs, was beginning to feel comfortable (ish)!!
That was until Mile 8 the mile from hell. We turned directly into the cold easterly wind along a road with no shelter. A tough mile which was completed in 6:24 (Mile 8). The wind was cold and my I'm sure that my lips, cheeks, hands etc were beginning to suffer from early onset frostbite!!
Shortly after the mile mark we left the quiet country roads and were back onto the main Cork - Waterford road. A good running surface but the road was slightly uphill and the easterly wind was now a head/crosswind - I must have looked like I was running like Quasimodo as I fought crosswind!! My only though at this stage was that it had been a good run so far and if I slowed by 30 sec per mile I would still match my Mallow time. Better still I could walk but that would have meant a long cold walk home and depression. So I put my head down and started to work to get back in touch with the group 30-50m ahead. I eventually succeeded at about the 8.5mile mark. Which meant that I reached the Mile 9 mark in 6:21. A tough mile but it seemed that I was suffering (slightly) less than those around me so I drove on. Only one mile to go and the thought that the last bit was downhill into the finish line gave me some solace!!
Mile 10 was a long drive from home. In the middle distance days of my youth I generally had a good finish but that kick started (at most) 200m from the line. Here I was kicking hard one mile out - was I mad - PROBABLY!! I forged to head of the group that I'd just caught (which included Barry and a guy from the Bilboa club who I'd out kicked in Mallow) and was determined not to be passed again (if at all possible) and .... I wasn't. I rounded the 90 deg bend into the 50m long finishing straight in full flight - even running on my toes and driving from my arms (the vigorous motion had thawed them!!). I could hear the announcer calling out my name and my 10 seconds of fame weren't going to be taken by someone passing me!! Mile 10 was completed in 5:55 - my fastest of the race and no-one passed me in the last mile!! Happy days - I stopped my watch on 1:01:40. Another PB - the course was fast despite the weather conditions!! My official time will probably be a couple of seconds slower but I'm sticking with this as my PB as Mr Garmin is never wrong!! :)
Well done to Grellan for finishing on his target time despite wearing long pants and John Meade (world record holder for the 3 legged marathon) for breaking the 60 minute barrier. A jog/walk back to the Race HQ for tea, sandwiches, leg cramps and warmth completed a perfect day. Roll on the next race in Ballycotton in early March...200m to go...150m to go...100m to go...
Update - 2/2/09 - Results were published today. Officially my time was rounded to 1:01:43 and I came 63rd (same position as Mallow) out of 866 i.e. top 8%!!!
Week Total (26/01/2009 to 01/02/2009) - 4 sessions
30:05 miles - 3:33:40 - avg. 7:07 min/mile - No HRM