By some miracle the weather was great. The strong winds had died down and the heavy rain stopped just as I arrived for registration. I bumped into Fintan and after the usual stuff it was time for a few kms warm-up. The field today looked to be very strong - the stand-out was Gary Thornton who has run 29 flat for 10km, plus the likes of Mike O'Connor (30 flat), Peter O'Sullivan, Fintan, Julio Castro and some old soak from Norwich who were all sure to feature. I often get comments that it must be great to win the races but my response is always that you'd prefer a good race pitching yourself against the best, rather than having a solo time trial. Well today promised to be a cracker and was one of the best local line-ups in a long time.
The race started and Gary hit the lead with a group of us chasing. Nobody was going to stick with Gary and so we settled into a nice group of 5 chasers. We were running at a good clip and through the first km in 3:10 feeling pretty good. Gary was working up a nice lead and no moves in our group as we went through the second km. Around this point Mike pulled back leaving the 4 of us to fight it out.
Not much was happening. I think Julio took up the running at one point, but we remained in touch and as the km markers ticked by it was starting to look like it could be a last km shoot-out. Through 4km and then shortly after we started running on the main road. I took up the running on the newly re-surfaced tarmac and was feeling good. It was only a surge of about 500m but it seemed to string us all out a little. As we turned off the main road and went through half-way, it looked like Peter and Fintan had lost touch leaving me and Julio. The pattern of the race for the next few kms was me running at the front, I would be closed down on the uphill drags, and then I would get away again on the flatter sections. More on the course, I have to say it was very friendly, some slight ups and downs but it was predominantly flat, and with good conditions it made for good running. I suppose the only downside was that there were lots of puddles to avoid but considering what the conditions could have been like you'd have taken it every time.
I glanced at my watch at 7km and it was 23:09 so I knew I had a good chance of sub 33. But first I had to shake off Julio. I think it was around this part of the course that there was a long straight road and I could still just about see Gary a long way ahead I pushed as hard as I could and by the time I hit 8km I had opened up a little bit of a gap.
The last couple of kms and it was all about remaining focused. There were a few small climbs but I still felt strong and by the time I hit the 9km marker I upped the pace for the run home. I eventually crossed the line in 32:54 for 2nd place which I was very happy with. Gary ran an incredible 30:29 for the win, with Julio 3rd in 33:05 and Mike somehow finding something in the last 5km to finish 4th in 33:11.
A few kms warm-down with Fintan and Sean who both had great runs. That's around 16kms for the day. I have to say that's one of the most enjoyable races I've had in a long time. A great course, good organistion and plenty of hot drinks after. It was a real gem of an event so much kudos goes to South Galway AC for putting on this great event.
Here are the splits:
3:10, 3:19, 3:15, 3:25, 3:18 (16:27), 3:23, 3:19, 3:20, 3:20, 3:05 (16:27). Total 32:54
I think that's my quickest 10km this year - so I must be doing something right. And I'm only running 5 days per week at the moment so just goes to show what you can achieve if you get your quality sessions in.
A total of 81.9kms for the week. I'll try and keep it around that level for the rest of the year and perhaps increase the pace of my tempo runs slightly. A man with a plan!