Wednesday, 25 September 2013

"This is going to be a good one"

 I entered the Charleville half marathon a couple of month's back with the intention of having a good crack off it and with a week to go I had no reason to think I couldn't. An out of focus 84min. half in Blarney led me to believe I could knock a bit off it in what was billed 'The flattest fastest half marathon in the country'. I had no reason to believe otherwise as I'v ridden the same road's numerous time's over the year's, they were flat back then and unless there were a few EU funded hill's installed in the meantime (stranger thing's have happened) it was going to be pretty flat. Flat, straight, scenic, big number's, slightly downhill first mile, all the ingredient's for a fast run.

I knew I was starting to take thing's serious in the preceding week as I started hitting the hay an hour earlier than normal, cutting back on the coffee intake and even started sitting down whenever the opportunity presented itself. With this new found dedication and the strain on my everyday willpower I convinced myself that Sunday was going to be a good one. I shoved the elephant out of the room (have I enough mileage done?, what about tempo run's?) and concentrated on the positives, (I can run three 5.40 miles in a row, surely on a good day I can run a flat thirteen at 6.10/6.20). I'll never be accused of being too scientific in my approach to racing, I like to keep thing's simple.

Sunrise over the Nagle mountain's on the road to Charleville

Sunday morning, blue skies, 16deg C. The drive across north Cork was nice, a light fog giving way to crisp sunshine over the Nagle mountains accompanied by some nice tune's and strenghtening thought's of a solid run in over an hour's time. When the head is right and the stars align there is a lovely rhythm to a race day like this. Rise early for a bite (literally) to eat, have a coffee, lie down again, get up again, throw the gear in a bag. Get in the van, put on some music and zone out, all in slow motion. Get to Charleville, runner's warming up, who's here? rising heart rate even though experience tell's me it doesn't matter who's here because I'll end up racing myself in the end. Thought's of the level's of suffering involved if I'm going to go quicker today than the last outing don't bother me too much as I'm up for it. Warming up with Mike, he's on the same boat and looking for a time to get him keyed up for Dublin in October. Runner's reducing their warmup to within a couple of hundred metres of the start line mean's it's nearly time to go. Come ........ On ........... Get the show on the road.

A wind and gravity assisted 5.50 first mile was a bit faster than intended but make hay while the sun shine's I say, I pull it back a bit for mile two and set the watch to show average pace instead of minutes per mile pace. Don't know why, never did before. Through mile two pretty comfortable, mile three doubting Thomas makes his presence felt, "thirteen mile's ooh, your feeling a bit adventurous today" average 6.10. Mile four and the road doesn't look that flat from here and my leg's concur. The group I'm in disintegrate's pretty fast and by mile five I'v found a comfortable pace at the head of a group of four or five. The strange sight of  four runner's pulling out in the space of a few hundred metres and then some more was a clear sign that the temperature was starting to take it's toll. Relieved to have found a reason for the decreasing average pace, now 6.15, and starting to feel unsure of how I might handle the next eight miles.

Approaching the halfway mark in Kilmallock there wasn't a whole lot to be happy about either, leg's getting heavier by the mile I threw back a gel. This was significant as I havn't had a gel in two year's, I'm not convinced by their effectiveness or their dental health benefit's. Five minutes later and I start to find my feet and pull back a few runner's, jesus those gel's work. "OK, time to start pulling back the average", Unfortunately I would have needed two more of them to get me the last five mile's to the finish and the 'come down' off the only one I had was dramatic. Officially 'bate' with three to go I took a stroll thro' the last water station, this was significant too, I hadn't done that since last year's Cork to Cobh at roughly the same distance. This disgust's me as I'm out for a run and not a stroll, so did I actually 'run' the Charleville half marathon?, most of it I suppose.

Post race, a lot of runner's were scratching their head's and wondering where they left their race leg's. Heat and humidity and possibly a bit of over enthusiasm to get a fast time on a fast course all played their part in the slog. the benefit of a hard day at the office will show up at a later stage in the form of a good day at the office, what doesn't kill ya makes you stronger they say.

A steep learning curve over the last few week's on the longer distance's, I'm a bit wiser now as to how to handle these race's. Increased mileage is a must, almost as important physically as psychologically. When you start to doubt yourself early on it fester's in the brain and the race to the line become's more of a struggle than something to be enjoyed.

let's not over analyse, who gives a shit at the end of the day. A run in the sun, that's what it was and who's fit to complain about that round here.

M 1 - 5.51
M2 - 6.12
M3 - 6.16
M4 - 6.31
M5 - 6.37
M6 - 6.40
M7 - 6.36
M8 - 6.24
M9 - 6.46
M10 - 7.03
M11 - 7.48
M12 - 6.58
M13 - 6.37

Av. 6.39


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