Friday, 29 May 2015

First win

So on Sunday I won a 5k! A very small one but I'm savouring it as it may be the only time I'm the first lady across the finish line.

The race is the same family sponsored 5k I came second in last year - Garrafrauns family fun day 5k.
I knew lining up there was a good chance I could win as I've improved a lot in the last year, but I didn't like to count my chickens. There was a slight element of performance anxiety as a lot of my family were there to watch and some cousins were running themselves. I really didn't want to disappoint them!

My warm up was quite long as I feel I've missed out on a lot of longer runs lately due to racing at the weekend. Three miles warm up got me to the start line.
I lined up in the second row behind a row of fit looking guys and had a chat with some old schoolmates while we waited. We set off on time and I must admit the first mile felt very comfortable. This was the fastest part of the course though so my mile split of 6.39 for this mile is to be expected.
Mile two we turned off the gravelly backroad we were on onto a tarmac road and into a head wind. I had forgotten this bit was quite hilly and got a bit worried that I was expending too much energy and wouldn't have anything for the last mile which was all uphill. Oh dear! Anyway I obviously let this get in my head as the next mile was 7:04. So I was obviously slowing but it didn't feel that way as I kept passing people.

The last mile was a painfest as expected. I didn't manage to lift my head to acknowledge family members toward the end.  A glance at my watch with 500 meters to go told me David Rudisha would be hard pushed to covert the last part on time to get in under my pb.
Spoiler alert: I am not David Rudisha (although my son's school principal does talk about him a lot)

I tried to pick it up a bit and sprint for the finish line but don't know how much I sped up. My third mile split was 6:57 and my final time 21:17. I was initially disappointed with the time as I really really wanted something with a 20 at the start of it but that's life. I may have to choose the course wisely for another attempt at this.
It was lovely to win something though and my family were so proud. Great to get the family name on the perpetual shield!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Loughrea Easter 5k Run - 6/04/2015

So where was I? It's taking me forever to get back up to the present with these long gaps between posts. Must do better!

Easter weekend started well with a timed charity mile on the Saturday morning on the track. Good fun but didn't break any land speed records. We jumped in the car straight after and headed West to spend the weekend with my parents to eat too much chocolate and drink too much wine.

Of course I brought my runners so I got in a twelve miler on Easter Sunday a little later than planned due to a raging hangover. This was pure misery but I deserved every bit of the pain. Monday dawned dry, bright and without any plans and I saw there was a 5k being held in Loughrea. The parents were willing to come along and get some lunch after so we decided to head off together and then me and the kiddos could hit the road once the race and lunch were done. Sorted!

We arrived at the location quite early and found the hall for registration and then went out for a warm-up. I had noted on the facebook page that the previously lakeside route had been changed last minute. A brief jog down to the lake explained soon as I got near the water I was engulfed in a cloud of tiny flies (maybe Mayfly?) They were in my eyes, up my nose, everywhere and that was only after a few seconds! I decided a warm-up away from the lake was a better option.

I lined up at the startline a few minutes before the start and got chatting to a few people there. As I was hoping to get close to a specific time I asked one of the club runners there who I should stick with for that time. They pointed out a girl a few rows ahead and I introduced myself and asked if she would mind if I tried to keep her in sight and she was fine with it. Then we were off! Aaaaand she shot out of the start like a bullet. I tried to stay on her shoulder but looking at my watch it was showing a 6:00 pace and I knew I wasn't close to being able for that. I let her go and concentrated on just being able to still see her at the end!

The first mile was grand. My legs were feeling good, the route brought us through the town twice at first so there was good support and I saw my family which was nice. Mile two brought us out of the town a bit and my legs sort of died a bit here. I could feel every mile of the previous few days running in them and hoped I could hold on without walking. "Don't walk! Your family can see!" went through my head a few times. I concentrated on watching the legs of the girl in front of me and keeping them in my field of vision. And also on passing the guy in full firefighting gear. This should have been a good moment but it was ruined by my stupid brain that kept telling me how slow I was if I was only passing him after 2+ miles of a 5k! Well done Mr firefighter!!

Mile 3 was predictably ick but I was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel (not an actual tunnel as it was a gorgeous sunshiny day but you know what I mean) Also I noticed I could still see club runner girl so I couldn't have slowed down as much as I thought. Or else she had drastically. I'm going to pretend it was the former as it makes both of us look better.

The finishing straight was loooooooong. It's essentially one long straight for the last kilometer and I thought I'd never get to the end. The legs were a bit wobbly at this stage and I was really feeling the unexpected heat. The original club runner girl was out of reach but there was another girl in a local singlet between me and her so I gave it socks and went to overtake which point she slowed right down and sort of drifted into my path so then I had to go around her to avoid running into her and then over the line. I really hope I didn't look like a total spanner overtaking here just before the line but I genuinely thought she was about to pick it up for the finish. Oh well! Anyway I was over the line for a new PB of 21:15. Yay! I thanked the ladies in front of me for dragging me around and went off to collect my all important free participant Easter egg. Priorities!

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Kildare Senior Road Championships - Leixlip 29/03/2015

There was barely time to recover from the Intermediate and Masters in Naas (and the night out after) before it was time to start looking forward to the big one........Seniors in Leixlip.
The good thing about this was we would have a strong team with some of our stronger runners eligible for this. The bad thing......the competition would be tough for a senior county medal!

The weather was back to cold and blustery so I was glad to get a good two mile warm-up in before the race with our clubs fastest female........way too fast for me to be warming up with really but it was great to run with her and pick up some tips on how long to warm up for, how long strides should be etc.

There were some seriously fit looking ladies lining up at the start but I tried not to get too intimidated. At least I was getting used to this starting line business. Whereas I had previously stayed towards the back of the pack on the start line one of my teammates, the lovely O insisted on pushing me up further towards the front.

And we were off! The start was predictably horrible and straight into a headwind. So far so miserable. The two strongest girls on the team were already stretching off into the distance which was fine and totally expected. I just needed to make sure there weren't too many people between me and them.

As we turned the corner to climb up a steep hill I was feeling strong. Two younger girls were near me, one I recognised from the local Parkrun as a circa 20 minute 5k runner. I used the hill to my advantage and overtook both, hoping I wasn't going to regret this on the downhills and flats.

The next section to the roundabout and then back to the same hill again in reverse was a bit of a mindf*%k but I held my position here and wasn't passed. I can't really remember if I passed anyone here as it's a bit of a blur. Whatever about the negative points of this section it was nothing compared to getting back to the main road again in the direction of the start and being directed the opposite direction and then into a sideroad to run around a tiny roundabout.......this was the point at which I really wanted to stop with every cell in my body. I deperately wanted to find somewhere to lie down and the fact that the tightness of the bend made me come to an almost complete stop didn't help. I tried to pull myself together and get my legs moving but they felt so heavy and my vision was starting to blur.

Coming back onto the main road we were directed across the road and up onto the curb onto the wide footpath......I stared at this curb as it approached and thought "I really really hope my legs know how to get onto this footpath thingy" I was definitely feeling a bit loopy. This is the point I think that I was passed by a tall blond girl who annoyingly didn't even seem to be working that hard. Oh no!!!! There was no way in hell I was going to catch up to her, I really didn't feel I had anything left and just wanted to get to the finish.

It was at this point I became aware of lads from the club standing along the edge of the course shouting encouragement. It's a good job they were shouting as I couldn't really see anyone, it was definitely the voices I could pick out. I'm not sure what happened but I got this shot of energy knowing I was in the last few hundred meters and knowing I had someone to catch. It also crossed my mind that there were people out there that really believed in me and if I could do more then I should. My tired heavy legs were suddenly turning over like never before and before I knew it I was passing the girl who passed me and praying she didn't have anything else. This was it for me so if she had something more I didn't have an answer (I think....although I didn't know I had this either so there is that!) I don't remember much for the next ten minutes. Presumably other people finished too.....maybe I talked to them but I don't really know. I know I tried to put my jacket on for most of that time but couldn't figure out how the arms worked so couldn't. Runners. We are totally sane.

Soooo.... by the time I found my mind again and made my way over to get some coffee the results were in and we were Senior County gold medalists!!!

Kildare Intermediate and Masters Road Championship 22/03/2015

So one minute it feels like I haven't raced in ages and then all of a sudden the events are coming thick and fast!

I was feeling quite confident going into this race after my new 10k pb.  Not "I'm going to win!" confident, more like "I'm not going to make a fool of myself" confident.

This race is a bit confusing as its just one race but you can be entered for both intermediate and masters categories if you are eligible. As I've won nothing in the roads at county level and am old I qualify for everything. Yay! I think.....??

Arriving in Naas to clear skies and sunshine didn't hurt either. We did a nice leisurely warm up where we spotted a bouncy castle in a nearby garden.....I fantasized about heading off for a bit of a bounce instead of going through this torture. Maybe a G&T too in the sun. 
And yes I know I said I felt confident but I also didn't have amnesia and still remembered how much my last race had hurt. (Yes I'm a moany old wagon sometimes)

It wasn't long before it was time to toe the line. Before I knew it we were off and the usual stampede for the front happened. I hate this bit and really dislike a crowded field so found myself a bit of room before long. I don't remember much about the first kilometre of this race except that I didn't want to go out too slow so I tried to push the pace a bit to get past the main group. There were a few speedy ones out front but I ignored them and concentrated on passing the next three in front of me over the next couple of k and on not getting passed. For whatever reason I felt pretty good and never had the urge to quit or walk. I knew I was going fast for me as I was coming down a hill at one point and was really conscious of every little twig or stone on the road. I felt like my legs were moving too fast for me to be able to compensate if I hit anything at all and I'd end up on my face. I actually had a really vivid image in my head of me landing face first and skidding to a halt with road rash everywhere. The things that go through my head are weird sometimes!

Anyway again I was kind of in no man's land by the end of this race with nobody close enough to chase down and nobody chasing me. As I came towards the lovely downhill finishing straight i had no idea how I had done. I was fifth over the finish line but how many of those were intermediates and how many masters? I wasn't long over the line before I was joined by a teammate, followed by another and yet another. It looked like we might get a team medal anyway!

As it turned out we won masters gold and intermediate silver so that was nice. I also won gold in my age category and bronze at intermediate level so I'll take that! Not bad for a 3k race!

I gave my Garmin to a friend so don't have access to my splits but my total time was 11:56, about 30 seconds faster than my time for the same distance at novices. Happy with that but must admit I think conditions were a lot more favourable on this day than the last.

Probably the best part of this race for me was finally feeling like I was a useful part of the team. Yes we had people out with illness and injuries but despite that were able to field a medal winning team and I was part of that. Also me and the SO had sort of recruited one of the team who ran well (from the pub....shhhhhh) and she really enjoyed herself so that was great too. I love it when a plan comes together :)

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Tubbercurry 10K - St Patricks Day 2015

After getting back into the mindset of racing I knew I had a couple of things I wanted to do before spring was out, namely a 5k and a 10k. I wasn't too pushed about the location but as March was busy with club races at the weekends then it would be difficult to find other races that wouldn't interfere. Luckily this year St Patricks Day fell on a Tuesday and I knew somewhere had to be holding a race. As I was in the West visiting my parents anyway the Tubbercurry 10k seemed to fit the bill.

I've never been to Tubbercurry on purpose so had no idea about this race, its history or the terrain. From what I've learned it's a long established event with some good local rivalry going on and the athletics clubs singlets were out in great numbers. It was a perfect morning for a race - dry, a light breeze and a slight chill in the air still. I got parking right by the start line and made my way to race HQ where I was delighted to receive a well stocked goody bag for my few euro and I could see there was a spread of sandwiches, tea/coffee and homemade cakes being laid out. A good spread usually means a well organised race in my (limited!) experience.

At this point I realised I'd forgotten my Garmin but decided not to get too worked up about it and just go by effort and see what happened. I hadn't run a 10k since 2014 sometime so I had no idea where I was in comparison.

I did a nice leisurely 1-2 mile warm-up and noted that it wasn't the flattest town in the world but didn't think any more of it. Hmmmm.....

Once I finished the warm-up who did I see but my mother and daughter walking towards me. I couldn't believe it! They hadn't told me they were going to come along so it was lovely to see them there. After a brief chat I went to the start and had a chat to some of the other runners there. All very friendly and hills were mentioned but I think I was in denial at this point!

The startline was on the main street heading towards the town square. On my left was the short loop I had done for the warm up - we were at a slightly higher elevation to this so the loop was downhill for the first half a kilometer or so and then back uphill to the start and into the town square.  The rest of the race was on a larger loop out of the town so the total effect was of a slightly asymmetric figure eight.

The start itself was a little crowded as we were motioned through a starting gate that was only half the width of the road which resulting in starting the race at a shuffle which is unusual for a 10k! Anyway we were off and proceeded to do that first small loop I was familiar with and run up through the town square. As soon as we got onto the road out of the square the incline hit and kept on hitting for the next 3 miles. I only wish I was wearing my watch for the Garmin stats on the elevation as I've never run anything like it during a race.

So in short I was thinking about quitting at 2 miles in and I wanted to stop for the vast majority of the race. It didn't help that hardly anyone knew I was running it which made it a bit easier to think about stopping. There was a young bloke beside me - probably late teens early twenties for most of the race, wearing the vest of a local athletics club and about 20kg lighter than me but I was slightly encouraged by the fact that he seemed to be suffering every bit as much as I was. On each hill I would pull ahead of him slightly and on the flats he would pull ahead. I should remember more about this race but in fairness it was quite a while ago and my mind has blocked out a lot of the horror at this stage.

The summary is..........every step was awful, I wanted to quit from mile 2. I dragged my sorry ass to mile 5.5 and then the last 0.7 of a mile I thoroughly enjoyed as I could finally breath and I could see the finish line. At this point I had no idea at all of my time. My previous PB was 46:xx and I hoped I was under that but I hadn't a clue really........its not like I had breath to waste asking anyone what pace we were going at!

I didn't spot the clock until the last ten metres before I crossed the line and nearly fell over when I saw a 43 on it. Over the line in 43:56 a chip time of 43:43 and a PB by almost three minutes! To say I was delighted would be an understatement. My family were waiting for me and seemed delighted.......or maybe that was the two scones they had had while they were waiting. Two!

The next mission was to get a snack into me and get back to the car to text the SO with my result. Almost as satisfying as the result itself.

Back home for the traditional St. Patricks Day lunch of salad and burgers on the BBQ followed by a glass or two of red. Sure why not!

Friday, 1 May 2015

Kildare Novice Road Race 22/02/2015

I was sooooo nervous about this race! I hadn't really raced in a while so had gotten a bit gun shy..when I'm racing regularly the fear goes off it a bit for me, whereas if there is a bit of a gap I'm a mess.

Anyway we didn't have enough for a team for this race due to various injuries, events and other team members not being eligible (you're not eligible for novice county if you have won anything at that level or higher in the previous three years.....I think that's how it works anyway!)

So the day dawned wet, windy and cold cold cold. What a lovely combo! There was one more girl running with me Laura V so I was really glad of the company and we mutually made the decision to trade a long warm up for staying dry inside instead. I think if we had a team then we would have thought differently but really this race was all about seeing where our training was coming out of the winter so I wasn't too pushed either way!

We were lucky to have a strong mens team from the club so they were good company while we waited to start. There is something really special about being part of a club and having that support around you at an event.

The start line for this 3k race was quite a trek away from the hall we had gathered in so we actually got a lift lazy is that!! Anyway we jumped out of the car and proceeded to run up and down the road a bit. It didn't get any warmer. The good thing about this was that as we gathered at the start line I got more and more anxious for the race to start as I just wanted to get moving at this stage.....any icy shower straight into your face is not that much fun in shorts and a singlet.
Unfortunately one of the girls in front of me talking about her 5:15 1500m time at the national indoors wasn't exactly filling me with confidence!

Finally, after a wait for some latecomers we were off! I felt like I started out well but I seemed to be behind loads of people. Maybe I was going to be last? Oh no!
The first couple of kilometers were into a strong headwind with a couple of sharp rises to go over. I like hills (it's a love/hate thing) so was able to pass a few here. I concentrated on not letting anyone pass me on the straights and reeling in the girls in front of me one at a time. By this point I knew there was no way I was catching the front pack so this was a bit demoralising but I focused on not looking at my watch in case I found out there was more than 1k to go....this would have been the end of my race!

The finish was slightly downhill just past a corner. I'm pretty sure I was drooling at the mouth and and I knew if the finish was much past that corner I was goosed but pushed hard up to it and then luckily it was right there. I don't know if I would have had anything more as there wasn't anyone close enough for me to pass and nobody behind chasing me so didn't really have that adrenaline buzz of a close finish.

Result: 5th overall so I was happy with that on the day. I was a bit annoyed with myself that I didn't warm up beforehand but at best I could have been 4th...........the lead three were in a bunch all together most of the way and were cruising, only doing as much as they had to.
I was happy with my effort and had temporarily gotten over the fear of racing. Oh and someone finally got a running photo of me where I look like I'm running so totally worth the pain!
Also we got to see the mens teams race after that which was lovely, especially in multiple dry layers knowing we were already done. Bliss! And they won gold.......yay!