Saturday, October 01, 2011

Galway Bay Half Marathon

Touched down in Knock just after 8am and arrived back in Galway around 9:30am. I quickly changed and headed straight out of the door. Arrived at the start by jogging a couple of kilometers after parking the car. I had arranged for my number to be picked up and I literally pinned on my number and laced in my timing chip about 15 minutes before the race start. I was feeling tired and dehydrated but was ready to rumble.

The course itself was very similar to last year - 2 laps up and down Galway promenade. We were lucky as the weather was very good - no rain and only a slight breeze which was unusual being right on the Bay. The race started and there was 3 of us who made a break to the front. The pace was quick as we went through the first couple of kms at sub 3:10/km pace. I knew I was punching above my weight so sat back to let the other 2 runners take the lead. I was left alone in 3rd place and that's how it remained for the next few kms. After the first turnaround point near the golf course I was joined by a fellow Harrier (Michael O'Connor) who was encouraging me to stick with him to try and wind in the 2 leaders. But that wasn't going to happen as I was already red-lining and Michael quickly gapped me leaving me alone in fourth.

I found the second half of the lap running back to the start quite tough. What wind there was we were now running straight into it and there were 2 sections which were offshoots from the main course in order to get the correct distance for each loop. Neither of these extra sections were very runner friendly. The first towards the end of the prom basically had us running around a twisty (gravel) path for a few minutes cross country style. The second section had us running out and back towards Mutton Island. Whilst this part of the course was very flat, it's very hard going running-wise as you have to make a sharp turn at the end of the jetty, only to have to then run directly into the wind as you run back onto the main loop.

I wasn't looking at splits as I was too ashamed but I think I went through 10km in just under 34 minutes. As we finished the first lap I remained in fourth position and I knew the second lap was going to be a real struggle. I don't recall too much of the detail but certainly on the outward section of the course I seemed to be running a little better and sure enough I was closing in on 3rd place. I caught Michael around the turnaround point near the golf course and gradually worked a small gap. The last 5 kms were really hard going and I knew I still had the 2 tough sections which I previously described. I had slowed and I couldn't manage 3:30 kms but thankfully it seemed to be enough to get me round to the finish line in a time of 1:12:41 for 3rd place.

I was absolutely spent at the finish. My legs were very wobbly and I was staggering around like an old drunk (which basically I am). I'd given it my all and the time was about as good as I could have hoped for. A big congratulations to the race winner Michael Shannon who ran a terrific time of 69:48 breaking 70 minutes for the first time. I've had several battles with Michael in the last year but in the last couple of months he has improved out of sight and I'm sure it won't be long before he is winning some big national races. Well done again.

I tried jogging some of the way back to the car but it was more walk/shuffle. All up 25.1km for the day. I don't have the splits for the race as I deleted them! I'd say my 10km splits were about 34 minutes then 35 minutes.

So I think it's time to knuckle down and get some proper training done. Looking at the last 3 weeks I have only been managing one decent session a week with the balance of my running being easy. That's just not good enough and I will strive to do better for my next race which looks like being the Norwich Half Marathon at the end of November.

Well done to everyone who finished the 10km and half on Saturday. The event has certainly blossomed and I think the organisers have the potential to make this a really big event. My only gripe would be those 2 sections in the second half of each lap. Get rid of them somehow and you have the potential for a very quick course! Finally a big well done to the Galway City Harriers who scooped the team prize in the half plus the 2 Brians for taking out the first 2 spots in the 10km. I believe the celebrations went on well into the night...

No comments: