Just the 3 degrees which was a little chilly on the you know what. Bone dry and a bit of a stiff breeze that you'd only really notice when you are running directly into it. All in all it looked pretty good. A short couple of clicks warm-up and a couple of strides and we were lining up for the 2:30pm start.
A good crowd of over 500 runners. A lot of the usual suspects were there which was great to see. And then almost without warning we were underway. I got a terrible start and lost a few seconds whilst I woke up. The first km is very friendly with some nice downhill sections. Gerry Ryan took the lead with me and Paul Keane in hot pursuit. At the first roundabout Gerry nearly took a wrong turn and lost a few seconds and by this stage I was left chasing him.
I missed the first km marker but I had the feeling it was quick. The second km had a nasty enough section with a climb and I was surprised that Gerry didn't seem to be opening up his usual big gap on me. I looked at the split at the 2km marker and it showed 6:10 which meant the pace was definitely on. As we made a left turn it immediately became tougher as the breeze became a factor. I remained focused and tried to keep Gerry in my sights as I knew that once we got to the main road at around 4.5kms, the run back to town would be a lot easier.
I wasn't looking at the watch but I knew the pace had dropped. This section of the course is flat enough and it was just the wind that made it tough. Nothing really happened - Gerry wasn't improving on his lead and I had nobody close to me so it becomes a bit of a mental battle to try and keep the legs moving. Finally some reprieve after reaching the main road and then it was time to see what was left in the tank.
At this point I felt great. Straight away I felt much more comfortable and the 5 and 6km markers soon passed. Gerry looked around on a few occasions and I got the impression he was struggling and I'd certainly not given up on catching him. Up to the 7km mark seemed to be a gradual climb, and then at 7km you have to climb up and over the bridge. At this point someone shouted that Gerry had a 15 second lead and despite running a strong last km I'd left it too late crossing the line in 25:58 for 2nd position (Gerry won in 25:48).
I have to take a lot of positives from this race. It's the first time I've broken 26 minutes for 8km since 2011 (I raced this distance 7 times in 2012 and my best time was 26 flat in the Streets). Also I ran pretty much the whole race by myself which is also tough. Good signs for the year ahead. As I suspected Gerry was carrying a bit of an injury so no doubt that's as close as I'll be to him for a very long time.
After a warm-down with another Gerry (Carty) it was back to the hall for the presentation. A great spread and lots of prizes and this has to go down as one of the best value races of the year (€15 entry which also gets you 3 pairs of running socks!). A big well done to Tuam AC.
All going well so far this year. Nice to break 16 for 5km and 26 for 8km this early in the year. Another couple of weeks of decent training now (with 2 speed sessions thrown in each week) and then I plan to run the indoor masters at Athlone on Feb 9th. It's a brand new indoor 200m track and this will be the first time it will be used for competition. I've entered the 3,000m so it will be 15 laps of red-lining. I'd love to give sub 9 minutes a rattle (which may be a little optimistic).
Here are the splits for the 8km:
4km 3:25 (12:56)
8km 3:11 (13:02)
All up 14.6kms for the day. Upon arriving home I had the usual conversation with the kids: "How did you get on Dad?", "I came second", "Who beat you?", "Have a guess", "Gerry Ryan?", "Correct...!".
I then I switched on the TV just as Spurs equalised against United. That made my weekend!
Here is a photo (courtesy of Maree AC). You can just see me in the distance (I think this is the bridge just after 7km):