I was looking forward to this race - I'd not run the course before so it was something different and the fact that it was the County Championship added a bit more spice to the event. I warmed up with Gerry and Brian and we were commenting on the lovely conditions - that was until we switched direction and realised we had a stiff breeze to deal with.
The course itself was to be a tough one. Lots of hills in the first 5km, then it flattens out with only one notable hill in the second half. That turned out to be pretty accurate. The race started and Gary and Noel hit the front, leaving me chasing. Freya Ross (nee Murray) wasn't far behind as we ran the flat and friendly first km with the wind on the back. As I passed the 1km marker I had a quick look at my watch and the split of 2:55 suggested that the km markers were a little dodgy. Even so, the 2 leaders were already way up the road with me on my lonesome chasing.
The next 4km were much tougher. The pattern was a climb followed by a descent. It was never flat - just up then down. Very difficult to get into any sort of rhythm and I ran as strongly as the legs allowed. By 5km I had reached a church and we made a left turn to be greeted with a long downhill stretch. This was very welcome but I didn't have the change of speed to really attack and I simply coasted down the hill whilst taking a breather.
With the terrain now nice and flat the pace started to pick up and I felt more at home. Sure enough there was only one climb in the final 5km which was as we approached another left hand turn with the run back into Loughrea. By now the wind was on the back and I really tried to press for home. But the damage had been done on the hills and I was struggling for speed.
I crossed the line in 33:55 for 3rd place. Gary won the race in a super 31:00, with Noel Berkeley 2nd in 32:19 and Freya Moss in 4th in 34:36. So I ended up being sandwiched between 2 Olympians!
Pretty disappointed with the time. The course itself was tough and was worth maybe 30 seconds but that still doesn't get me under 33. The rest I would attribute to lack of training. The fact I ran the whole race by myself didn't help either. Excuses, excuses. Basically I haven't been knuckling down with the speed sessions and I think that was apparent today.
A couple of kms warm-down to give me 14kms for the day and 61.2kms for the week. I entered the County Champs as an over 40 and I won that category. With hindsight I should have entered as a senior as I would have picked up a silver medal..,