Sunday, April 07, 2013

Connemara Half Marathon

Out to the start of the half marathon bright and early after catching one of the coaches from Galway which are specially laid on for this event. A quick coffee and then a bit of hanging around for the start. It was very cold and windy and I had a horrible feeling that we would be battling the wind for the guts of the race.

I wandered up to the start about 20 minutes before the off and luckily for me I bumped into a friend who offered to take my gear from the start to the finish of the race which meant I could keep wearing extra layers of clothes until just before the start. I did a quick couple of kms warm-up, and watched the leader of the marathon coming through Leenane (half-way point), before heading back to the start. After some nice words from the MC and the Race Director the horn sounded and we were off.

I quickly took the lead and by the time we made the first turn left on the long climb out of Leenane I had already opened up a handy lead. At this point it became obvious that it was going to be a very tough run as I was already running directly into the wind, and to add insult to injury the first mile is nearly all uphill. Through mile 1 and I had the lead cycle to focus on and the uphill climb seemed to continue for most of the second mile. The next few miles the course flattened out and I seemed to have a decent lead so it was a case of remaining focused and keeping the legs ticking over.

Another very nasty climb up to 5 miles, and still no shelter from the wind, then a nice downhill section. More hills in miles 7 and 8 which I didn't recall from the previous year but running into the wind you seemed to feel every undulation. Just before 9 miles we took a right turn and then it was a very slow 2 mile grind which had me thinking every negative thought possible. The last couple of miles were still tough despite being mainly downhill and I was a very relieved person to reach the finish line in 1:19:29 for the win. I went a bit crazy coming down the finishing chute acting like a right pork chop. Not a good look for a nearly 42 year old....

Despite this being one of the toughest races I have ever done I think I enjoyed it. First class organisation and a truly unique experience running through Connemara. Lots of people to thank - firstly the support I was getting on the course from the walkers, the marathon and ultra runners that I passed. Plus a big GCH support crew just before the finish that gave me a real lift. Plus a big thank you to the organisers and volunteers who made this race possible.

Legs were very sore after the race - no warm-down, instead straight into the hotel at the finish for a massage where I found myself on the next massage table to Gary O'Hanlon who stormed to a win in the marathon in an incredible time of 2hr35 (note a quicker pace than my half!). A good chat with Gary and then back to Galway for a few celebratory beers.

All up 23.1kms for the day and 80.5kms for the week.

I'll post the sorry splits and a few photos over the coming days.

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