Since my last post it's been a busy weekend for my family on the athletics front. My niece Patricia was running in the NCAA Championship in Houston, TX with her college UMass Lowell. The event was the Distance Medley Relay (1200m, 400m, 800m, Mile). An unusual event to us Irish as it's not one in which we compete but it seems to be very popular with college teams in the US. Patrica did very well completing her 400m leg in 58secs and the team came 6th overall. Apparently they were in 3rd with 600m to go but couldn't hold that position. Still though 6th in the US Nationals is a great result and Patrica got All American status for the second year in a row - way to go Tricia!!
For me I didn't run on Saturday or Sunday - feeling tired and thought I deserved the weekend off. I did make an attempt to run on Monday at lunchtime but I turned around when I got to my car and worked through lunch instead (a bad habit I know!!). I went to bed early(ish) last night with a sore throat and generally not feeling too well.
So suffice it to say that I was well 'rested' for today's 4mile race in Ballinhassig (just outside of Cork). This race is organised by a local club Rising Sun AC and I really enjoyed the event last year so I was looking forward to today. The sun was shining and the weather warm (11-13degC) - almost Mediterranean!!
After registering I completed a 2 mile warmup with Grellan and Pat - out to the 1 mile marker and back - just to check out the killer hill start!! As an indication of how bad this hill is, last year I found myself close to the leaders (doesn't happen too often) running at close to 7min pace for the first half mile!!
The race started a few minutes late when the started shouted (not too loudly) 'GO' and we were off. Again the start was slow so I settled into the pack about 20-30 runners back. Once we crested the summit at about the 0.5mile mark the race proper started. At this stage I think I was about 20th with a clear view of the lone leader way way in the distance. I passed through Mile 1 in 5:45min. Wow, I thought, I must certainly have picked up the pace in the second half!!
At this stage I group I was running which had thinned to about 6 or 7 others. Mile 2 is largely downhill and my split was 5:34min. Holy S***. I only meant to run at just under 6min pace (my target was sub-24 today)!! I was now in a group of 4 which included a guy named Austin from EAgle AC. Grellan had pointed him out to me before the race as a sub-1:20 half marathon runner and suggested that he may be a good target to gauge my current form.
After mile 2 the downhill was over and the route was now into a head/crosswind. I think that I was still in shock from the 5:34 mile so unsurprisingly the pace slowed to 6:03min for Mile 3 but the whole group slowed so I maintained my position.
Only one mile to go was the overriding thought that crossed my mind at the 3 mile marker!! This running into the wind is tough - especially when your a tall, heavy, broad and awkward guy like me!! But I've recently read Daniel's book and the advice to run faster when your feeling tired crossed my mind so I gave it a try. It worked because I managed to pass one or two in the last mile and by the time I reached the crest of the climb I was comfortably clear of the guys behind. Unfortunately Austin was too far ahead to catch - so maybe I'm not quite in sub-1:20 form yet!! I finished the last mile in 5:52min. Giving a finishing time according to my watch of 23:15min for the 4 miles at 12th place out of 194 competitors (top 6%). Today's time was a PB so the rest obviously worked and the 10 days has been sufficient to recover from Ballycotton. Time to start training again!!
This photo shows me in the background with 100m to go chasing Austin in the foreground...
A 2 mile warmdown with Grellan and Paul afterwards ended the day nicely. Just enough time for a quick change and trip into town to catch some of the parade - it is St Patrick's Day after all!!
So here's how my race today progressed....
Note the steady deceleration in the middle of the race. Probably due to the wind but may be something to work on over the coming months??
Interestingly, with the benefit of Mr Garmin I have a benchmark from last years race (2 weeks after Ballycotton) for comparison...
Last year my mile splits last year were 6:06, 5:57, 6:12, 6:11 giving a total of 24:29mins and that was good enough for 15th position. Note how the pace varied in a similar manner in the 2 races - slow start, quick to 1.5mile or so, slow deceleration except for downhill at the end!!
Also well done to Grellan who posted yet another PB today and smashing the 25min barrier. I'm sure that over the coming months he will view today's time as a 'soft' PB to be taken out of the record books!!
My achilles are sore now and I've strange cramping pain in my left hip so maybe next week will be another recovery week. We'll see.....