Only a short trip to Athenry for me - less than 15 minutes. The weather looked okay - very little wind which was pleasing and the temperature was around 17 degrees for the start of the race at 1pm.
I registered, did a short warm-up of around a mile and it was time to line up at the start. Lots of quality all around - you'd expect that at the nationals. I suppose I was a little nervous if the truth be told but that soon disappeared when the starters gun sounded.
The first couple of miles and I tried to settle into my running. I was by myself - the group in front were going too quick and I didn't want to slow so I just stuck to my own pace. The first couple of mile splits and I was on track and after making a couple of turns we were onto the main part of the course which is used for the Athenry 10km. Around the 3 mile mark I was joined by a couple of runners who had worked up from behind - my old sparring partner John Byrne and Garrett Coughlan who I had a good race with at the Balla 10km. That was great as it was much easier running with company but at the same time I seemed to be working really hard to maintain my pace.
Not much to report for the next few miles. I stayed with the group and the pace was about right but I was really starting to struggle. It seemed very warm and humid and I was sweating a lot. I had to take water at the drinks station to try and cool down. The long road back to town and I spent some time at the front of the group and as we approached the 10km clock our time was 33:36 which was exactly where I wanted to be. The trouble being there was no chance of me maintaining that pace...
The long climb back up to the water tower before the nice downhill section to the finish area and we now had one more lap to cover. John was at the front with me and Garrett in pursuit and as we made the turn for the start of the second lap I was really starting to feel it - not helped as we were presented with a long drag that seemed to be eternal. Some time after the 7 mile marker and I was done for - I just had no battle in me and had to be content with letting the other 2 work away. This was really disappointing as I put up no fight whatsoever. Pathetic effort from yours truly.
The next few miles and I was in no mans land. I was taking more water to try and cool down and I knew I was slowing. I got to 10 miles and by this stage I wanted it to be all over. After making the last turn before the long run back to town I knew I was being caught from a couple of runners from behind. Sure enough by 11 miles they had caught me and this was my final throw of the dice to try and hang on to them. Somehow I managed to find a bit and I hung onto the back of them for a mile or so.
I started the last climb and I felt a bit better and with the 3 of us in our own private battle for line honours the pace lifted for the run to the finish line. The last section was a bit of a blur but just before the final bend I started sprinting for home and I was somehow leading the charge. Then a new runner came out of nowhere and almost caught me in the last 50m but I somehow managed to hold him off...
I finished up in 13th position in a gun time of 1:12:17 and a net time of 1:12:14. I managed to win the men's V40 category and was also part of the winning men's masters 35+ team for the Galway City Harriers. Two gold medals which was fantastic but I'm still left more than a little disappointed with my own run.
I'm not sure what happened. I don't think I can blame the course as I rate it a good fair course for a championship race. Perhaps the humidity was the main culprit - I seemed to really struggle with this and it wouldn't be the first time I've slowed in these types of conditions. Here is the race report from the Athletics Ireland website.
I finished up with a very slow 2km warm-down. All up 24.7kms for the day and 73.3kms for the week. Blisters the size of France on both feet. Very sore - how did that happen?
Here are the sorry splits:
5m 5:22 (26:59)
10m 5:46 (28:00)
Congratulations to John Byrne who had a super run to finish in 1:11:05. He managed to maintain the pace all the way to the finish and I only wish I could have helped him out a bit more! My team mate Fintan also had a super run clocking 1:13:40 in his debut half; whilst the 3rd member of our team Gerry Carty also clocked a PB in a time of 1:19:42. Michael Shannon ran brilliantly and is going from strength to strength lowering his PB to 1:08:33 in finishing 4th overall. Brian Furey also ran brilliantly breaking the 1hr 13 mark. With people running PB's all around me it may be that I just had an off day? Not sure....I certainly welcome any feedback from other runners on their experiences of the day.
Here are a few photos I've harvested from various sources (thanks to Jane/Gerry/Tom/Edenhill).
Myself and John - he is looking very mean with his new go faster haircut. It worked:
This one includes Garrett in the background:
The sprint finish running nice and relaxed:
And the presentation: