Round 3 of the Mayo League. It was the 8km course that I ran back in May with 2 additional kms of hills bolted on to the start. Conditions were quite breezy but okay for racing.
After a shortish warm-up of 1.6km and a few pick-ups it was time to get down to business. A good turn-out of quality runners with several Dublin based runners making the journey. Always good to see as you want to race the best runners going round. We were soon underway and there is a nasty climb in the first km of about 500m, then lots of twists and turns. By the time we hit the 8km course at the 2km mark I had settled into a group of 3 (myself, Roger Barrett and Garrett Coughlan). I should add that the 2 leaders were already way ahead so it looked like a race for 3rd spot.
I wasn't looking at the watch and by the time we reached halfway not much had changed. Myself and Roger were running side-by-side with the other guy tucked in behind and the leaders out of sight. The pace felt comfortable but there was no zip in the legs to try and throw in a few surges. By 6km we had reached "Hoopers Hills". Sure enough the 7th km was a tough one and I think it was around this time that Roger fell off the back of the group leaving me chasing Garrett.
I was hoping I could hang on until the last km and try and pull out a quick finish. Through 9km and we made a left hand turn towards the finish. This section was tough as it was an uphill drag running directly into the wind and to my surprise I was leading. That was short-lived as Garrett put in a very mean kick for home with about 500m to go leaving me for dust. I simply had nothing in the legs to try and respond. So I cruised home for 4th place in a time of 33:11.
A good race but a little disappointed with the time - it would have been nice to dip under 33 as I did last year in this race (32:43). I won't beat myself up too much though as I've done a decent block of training and I probably need an easy week to try and freshen up a bit. The one positive I can take us that the pace felt okay and I'd be confident of holding the pace for more than 10kms on a flatter course.
I finished with a 6km warm-down. A super run by Sean Hehir in winning the race in 31:32 to set a new course record. That's a fantastic time - I reckon the hills are worth at least 30 seconds compared to a quick course.
All up 17.6kms for the day. Arrived home late - a few quick beers - then bed.
Splits from the km markers - clearly the 2nd and 3rd ones were out:
5km 3:15 (16:31)
10km 3:16 (16:40)