When I got back to the baggage area Thomas and Grellan were already getting prepared but I needed to answer a call of nature and the 15-minute queue for the port-a-loo nearly caused me to miss the start (slight exaggeration for effect here!!). I got to the start at 1:15 which was about 15 minutes behind schedule and the throng that greeted me was evidence enough that I was late. I then, not so patiently, worked my way to a position about 20m back from the start line and, content to see that Grellan wasn't too far away, I decided that I was far enough forward.
As always the race started on time and we were off. Well nearly - it took me 12 seconds at 32min/mile pace for me to reach the start line!! My race plan was simple, 6:15 pace and see what happened....
Mile 1 lasted 6:11 min @ 160bpm. Surprisingly quick given that I spent most of the mile weaving around joggers and runners who certainly should not have started ahead of the sub-65 zone.
Mile 2 was a bit quicker (5:55 mins @ 172bpm). Slightly too quick but it was downhill and I needed to make up for the 12 second deficit at the start!! The pace settled down for the next two miles 6:08 and 6:07 and I found myself in a good group. At the Mile 4 marker the course headed west and slightly uphill and into a biting wind. I found myself leading a group with a 10-15m gap to the next runner ahead - not a smart place to be but so be it. Mile 5 took me 6:20 mins and my heartrate was now at 176bpm. The first 5 miles had taken 30:43min - quick but manageably so.
My fan club (Pam, the kids and her parents) were waiting patiently to cheer for me at about the 5.5mile mark... my thoughts swung between a) you can stop now and they'll give you a spin home to b) keep the pace going and try not to look in 'too' much pain (you might scare the kids!!). Suffice it to say, I kept going and I was still leading a group (almost like I was winning) - good example for the kids! I even managed a big wave as I passed!!
Shortly afterwards I found myself at the back of the group of 10 that I was previously leading and the wind was behind us. Oh no, had I worked too hard over the first half? Mile 6 took me 6:14mins @ 176bpm. Shortly afterwards I crossed the 10K mark in 38:18mins (corrected).
At this point of the race it was time to dig deep. This was the point where Grellan left me for dead last year and Thomas flew past me shortly after I blew up at the 8 mile mark. My objective was not to let that happen (if at all possible) again this year. So I started to dig deep.
Miles 7 & 8 took 6:06min 6:11min (177bpm) respectively and I was still hanging on to the same group of runners. I even think I remember pulling away from some of the guys who had gone past me at 5.5miles.
In Ballycotton the last 1.5 miles is the toughest with a few significant climbs hence despite me pumping my arms hard Mile 9 took 6:22 mins and my heartrate went up to 180bpm.
A lot of the group that has passed my earlier were still in sight (see below the 5 runners ahead of me) so with only 1 mile to go I thought to myself you can either 'go to the well' again or 'go home'.
The 'well' didn't have much left but I started to gain on those ahead of me. Obviously their wells were also running dry. In the end I got some of them and my split for Mile 10 was 6:00 (185bpm). Strong finish especially given that it was slightly uphill!!
So this is how my race shaped up...
Overall my chip time for this years Ballycotton 10 was 1:01:39 - a 1 second PB!! Happy days particularly as the Ballycotton course isn't the fastest and the weather conditions weren't the best. Also I was 4.5 minutes faster than last year. Officially I came 128th out of approx 2398 finishers. So no top-100 t-shirt this year but I can't complain with a 5.3% finishing position.Well done to Grellan and Thomas who also had good runs (I'm sure their reports will give all the juicy details!!). Richard set a big PB at 67:38 - he's now off to the Rotterdam Marathon so I wish him well!!
After the 1 mile walk back to the car it was a 2 mile warm down and a drive home in a nice warm car!!