I'm glad I checked the map as I thought Ballina was only about an hour away. It turns out it is nearer an hour and a half - quite a long drive for a race. The conditions were terrible. Lots of rain around and the wind was picking up during the day as we copped the backend of some hurricane or other. The trees were arching over and this resulted in lots of negative thoughts on the long drive.
Arrived in Ballina and had time to register and get a few kms warm-up in with Timmie. The wind didn't seem too bad in town but I suppose we were quite sheltered. Gerry Ryan had also made the long trip from Galway so I was automatically racing for second (not a good way to think I know). We lined up at 3pm and were soon underway.
The start of the race had us climbing for about 500m into the wind. Gerry and a guy who looked like a triathlete hit the front leaving a small group chasing. At the top of the road we took a right turn and descended into town to cross the river. Gerry had opened up a gap, the tri guy had slowed and I was in a group of 3 trying to keep Gerry in sight.
After crossing the river we took a left turn and shortly after we turned right and were faced with a short sharp climb of about 100m. A few more twists and turns and then we were running out of town along a fairly flat section (into the wind). I was still part of the group of 3 which contained Roger Barrett and Michael Canty who I'd been sparring with all series. I felt pretty awful at this stage, the legs were feeling heavy and I knew it was going to be a real struggle.
After the long straight we took a right turn at the roundabout and there was another long climb. At the top of the hill I tried a surge and managed to break away from the other two. This was the only point of the race I was feeling okay. That's because it was downhill with wind behind....through a housing estate (5km) and then another left turn and another long straight section (slightly uphill?). I could still see Gerry ahead and I daren't look at my watch as it was going to be ugly. After a mile or so I took a right turn and then it was time to grit out the last 3km to the finish.
I could still hear Roger behind me so I knew my gap was at most 10 seconds. This section seemed to drag on and after reaching 8km I was done for. Then there was another awful climb with the wind coming straight at you. I literally wasn't moving. At the top of the climb it flattened out again and after passing some football pitches and a running track it was into the last km. Thankfully this was mostly downhill but I just didn't have the legs to hammer this section. I nearly went the wrong way missing the last turn but was soon crossing the line in second position. The time was 33:15. That's my slowest road 10km of the year...
Bloody tough conditions and although the course was billed as being fast, I'm not so sure. There seemed to be several hills when you least wanted them. Times were slow for all runners and Gerry couldn't have been more than a minute in front of me and he normally runs low 31 for 10km. Perhaps the course was long!
So a disappointing time but a good result. I think the fact that I had not been feeling well all week, plus the half marathon were also factors today. The points I accumulated today mean that I have now completed 6 races in the Mayo league and I'm fairly confident in saying that I am the 2011 men's winner (3 wins and 3 seconds).
I finished up by running the course again just to see if the course was really that tough. Yes it was. I was feeling very low on energy and had to walk up a few hills. I can't recall doing that in a very long time. All up 22kms for the day and 82.8kms for the week.
Here are the splits:
5km 3:13 (16:27)
10km 3:18 (16:48)