So my plan to complete 40 days of consecutive training ended last week on the 23rd of February. It was an interesting 'experiment' that saw me run 254 miles at an average pace on 7:29min/mile. The consistent training also brought my typical average 'steady' pace heart rate from the low/min 160's to the high 150's. So I think it's fair to say that I'm now in my best shape for 2 years. But I think that the greatest benefit was an overall increase in my endurance, something I badly needed during today's Ballycotton-10 race!
After a late night in the pub last night (probably not the best idea before a race but one that doesn't come around too often so I couldn't turn it down) and a child who decided to have a raging temperature during the night I wasn't too bright eyed when the alarm went off at 8am. But today was Ballycotton-10 day so I soon brightened up!
I left home early at 10am so as to avoid the rush. The sun was shining which made it look like a summers day until I got out of the car and felt the chilling wind. Still though it was dry so the conditions were almost ideal.
After a short recci of the village and a warm-up jog I made my way to the baggage drop area and found a 'sheltered' spot to await the appointed time. Interestingly, and probably uniquely to the Ballycotton-10, as I walked through the village the local radio station was being broadcast over the loudspeakers. "Nothing strange about this", I hear you say, but what was being broadcast were the daily "obituary notices" so I can now tell you who died in the area over the past few days and when and where there will be requiem mass and burial..... a bit surreal .... only in Ballycotton!
I knew if I hung around the baggage area long enough I'd meet some familiar faces and sure enough along came Thomas and a little while later Grellan.
Disregarding my 10k Thanksgiving Day race in Lowell, MA last year it's been over 2 years since my last 'proper' race. So, not being sure of exactly how it would go, my race-plan was (a) to get to the finish; (b) hopefully to break 70 minutes; and (c) break 65 minutes if everything went well. I tentatively thought I'd head out at 6:30-6:45 pace to give me a chance of breaking 65 (not having broken 7mins for 10 miles in over 2 years this seemed a bit ambitious). This was also close to Grellan's starting pace so by keeping a close ear on his "flipflops" I would have a ready made experienced pacer (for the early stages at least!).
After standing at the start in the 58-65 bay for 20minutes the first couple of miles were generally on pace. It was frustrating to have to keep adjusting my stride to avoid slower runners who thought that they were capable of running sub-60 by starting off at 9minute pace! Despite this I passed through miles 1 & 2 in 6:36 and 6:10(downhill). Miles 3 & 4 were 6:23 and 6:24 respectively. By this time my left quad wasn't feeling too good (much like a dead leg) and as Grellan pointed out my breathing was getting heavy i.e. I was beginning to suffer. To be expected during a race but what surprised me was how early this set in - obviously I need to more speed endurance.
Heading through Shanagarry (mile 4 approx) there was a small drag and this was when I decided to let Grellan run his own race solo! He didn't need me to help him keep pace anyway. He was well able to listen to his own flipflops!
Despite the onset of fatigue I managed to keep to my plan fairly well with mile splits of 6:32, 6:31, 6:29 and 6:30. But by mile 8 (where I blew up on my first Ballycotton-10 in 2008 and Thomas left me for dust) I was seriously contemplating walking but I think the benefit of running 40 consecutive days was finally beginning to pay off. I dug deep and ran the hardest 9th mile in 6:44. I could now smell the finish and my pace picked up to 6:20. I even managed a good kick to hold off a rear guard attack at the finish! :)
My official time at the finish was 65:08 and my chip time was 64:47 - all plans met - no lifetime PB's today but job done! Average heart rate 168bpm.
Overall Placing 244 / 2608. O40 placing 44 / 316.
(Full results can be found here)
Also today was my first race as a Vet - so technically I did set an O40 PB today... hopefully it's a soft one! :)
Well done to all who ran today and more importantly well done to John Walshe / Liam O'Brien and all the team at Ballycotton Running Promotions for once again, for the 35th year, hosting "A Classic Race at a Classic Distance"!
I must now go away and put together a 'plan' for the Mallow 10 in 2 weeks time!!!
Ballycotton-10 race history...