Friday 26 February 2016

Marathon Day

Marathon day marathon, Deal, Kent 3:52:14

Photo David Brett

This is a marathon that is becoming popular. SVN ran it last year and were putting it on again this year. Ballina were also putting one on today in Mayo. I choose the SVN event in Deal in Kent.

After last weeks super run in Seville in 24 degrees, this weekend would be a lot different as I still had Seville in the legs and the temperature would be a tad cooler.

The race started at 8:30am and was over 2hrs drive away from Basingstoke. It was a real early start and I made it there with 30 mins to spare. En-route the temperature gauge in the car was showing -1 degrees and it was still at freezing at the start line.

The course was a very simple one and there was only around 100 in the race. Some were on day one of a quad on four different courses over the weekend.

Aid station
We were off at 9am from the aid station. We started going south for about 200m before turning at a cone and coming back north. The wind was in the back for the first leg out which was approx 2.7 miles. On the lap we were always on the coast and on a good tarmac path all the way.  The route brought us along side the Deal stone beach, past some scout huts and eventually into Deal town sea front which hasn't changed for centuries. Some fishing boats were shored with the fishermen selling crabs and other fish right on the route. As the day went on more and more walkers and particularly dog walkers shared the path with us.

After leaving Deal village we passed by Walmer castle for about another 1K still on the coastal path. We then turned around and re-traced our steps back to the aid station.  On the way back the wind was in our faces and got stronger as the day went on. We passed everyone twice per lap.

Great medal
I actually felt pretty good even after Seville and came through the first lap in 45 minutes exactly. That was 3:45 pace. I also had found my place in the race and pretty much stayed there all day.  Lap 2 was exactly in 1 hr 30 so the pace was still the same. Half way came at 1:52 so a sub 4hr was definitely still on.  A 46 minute third lap brought me through in 2:16 and still going steady. A 47 4th lap meant I had 58 minutes to do the last one. I ended up managing 50 minutes as I was slowing badly. But still this was good enough for a 3:52 which was my 47th sub 4 hr race.

This was a nice low key race that was perfectly organised by SVN.


Seville   3:39:33

Sunny Sunny Sunny
I knew that I was going to be in Spain through work since many months ago so had booked this event up in the middle of last year. Leslie Crawford from Monaghan Phoenix was also planning to go so I was really looking forward to it.
Geraldine, Leslie and Peter at the cathedral

Arriving at the exhibition
I was in Barcelona the Thursday and Friday before and caught a very late flight to Seville on the Friday night. An hours delay on the tarmac had me arrive around 11:30 pm. When I got into the taxi I was shocked to see the guy put €22 straight on the meter. Fortunately it seemed to be a fixed price from the airport and we were in the center in 15 minutes and checked in and in my room by midnight. The hotel was cheap and 4* (€50 b&b). The room was a little small but had a bath and a shower so I was happy enough.

The prizes
I had arranged to meet Leslie at 11am so I got up early and went for a shake out run (5 miler) in the morning to help me get my barings. As it turned out I ran along the race route for quite a while and eventually got lost. Fortunately the "back to start" feature on the watch kicked in and it brought me straight back to the hotel. I dandered upto the Cathedral and met with Leslie. Also there was Geraldine Cawford and Peter Ferris. We had a coffee and Lesie and I headed off to the exhibition. Now I had done no research on the exhibition but fortunately Leslie had it all worked out. We started with a Luas from the Cathedral to St Bernad train station. Here we joined the circular line which after about 15 minutes rocked up at the exhibition center which was quite a bit out of town.
Great pasta party

The exhibition was quite large (similar size to Dublin) and we went straight away to pick up the numbers. It was a little chaotic but we worked it out. Included with the number was quite a generous goodie bag which included a very nice running jacket. There was also lots of other bits and pieces. We spent a little time at he exhibition and also noticed we had been given tickets to a free pasta party hosted next door. We went in and in a massive hall there was a huge amount of food (pasta, fruit, crisps, drink (including alcohol)) all included in the price of the race. We stuffed ourselves. So far so good.

We went back into town and headed for a siesta. We met up later that evening and went for a very nice Tapas meal in the old town.

10K in
The race started at 9am on the Sunday at the stadium. We decided that we would walk to the stadium as it was only 2 miles from our hotels. The hotel started breakfast 30 mins early and even had water and bananas in the foyer, that was classy. Walking was a mistake as we got lost and ended up walking 7K before arriving at the wrong end of the stadium at the start area. I then had to walk 1K back to the stadium to drop off a clothes bag before making my way back to the start. I just made it with 10 minutes to spare and got straight into my pen. I ended up right beside the 3:45 pacers so decided to go out with them. We were off. Mick Clohisy was there trying for a RIO place and ran a PB 2:15 to be in second place. 2 Irish girls also ran under 2:40 to also bag qualifying times.

We were off.  The 3:45 pacers went off like hares at just over 8 minute pace when they should be at 8:30. After 5K they noticed this and pulled back. I kept going at this pace and decided to keep it going as long as I could. Temperature was going to be a big issue today as we started at 12 degrees and it steadily climbed all day. By the time I came into the stadium it was 24 degrees. Fortunately there were loads of water stations and loads of water. It was needed. The race in general was perfectly run and was flat flat flat. The last 10 K in particular was a sight seeing tour as we went through the university gardens, circled the parliament buildings, went past the cathedral and through the old town before making our way back to the stadium.

My splits for the day were better than normal.

5K              25.39
10K            51:31
10m            1:21:42
Half            1:46:59
20m            2:42:51
Full             3:39:33

Leslie finished 
After I ran away from the 3:45 pacers I was surprised I kept the pace going. The second 10 miles was slightly faster than the first and the last 10K though I was struggling I still managed to keep it going. I really tried to break 3:45 and as I got closer really really tried for a sub 3:40. I was delighted with my time at the end. As I came into the stadium it was absolutely fantastic and there was a great atmosphere. When I came over the line I picked up my medal and lay on the ground for 10 minutes to get myself together. I then was able to see Leslie to come into the stadium and he finished strong in 4:10. Afterwards there was plenty of water, oranges, crisps etc on the exit to the stadium.

Crossing the main bridge to the satdium
We followed the marathon route back into the old town (2 miles this time) and Leslie had to head off to Malaga in the afternoon. I had a quiet evening and caught a flight back to Barcelona at 7am the next morning.

Would I do this one again. Absolutely.

Thursday 18 February 2016

National 50K

National 50K  Donadea
Kris and I 

4:34:25   90th overall and 4th in my age group.

Getting ready for the start
This is a very popular race and my 3rd time doing it. With a 5hr cutoff for 50K its no pushover. The first year I made it with 4 secs to spare and didnt make it the second year but luckily was still awarded a finish. This year as well as the 5hr cuttoff you also had to qualify. This is mainly as there is only limited capacity on the 5K circuit and it is the nationals. You needed to have a 4hr marathon or 5:10 50K to qualify. Luckily I qualified early in the year with my 4:55 in Vartry so there was no pressure.
Start/Finish/Aid area

There were 3 Cursaders doing it. Olwyn, former champion was there. Unfortunately this year she was suffering from a really bad flu but bravely still turned up. Kris was running for the second time and was in a rich vein of form of recent times. We had no realistic expectations of national medals but age groups were a reality.

Kris looking strong
The race is superbly organised and it is 10 laps of the 5K loop around the outside of the forest park. The weather was cold and the surface was sticky but otherwise it was perfect running conditions. I knew I was in better form than last year but I had to be. I had in my head 4:40-4:45 would be good.
Olwyn struggled with a flu today

There were 3 pacers at 4:30, 4:45 and 5hrs. My strategy was to fall in behind the 4:30 and stay there as long as I could.

At 10am we were off. My strategy went out the window immediately as I went out ahead of the 4:30 pacer. Lap 1 which is 300m longer than the rest was done in 28 mins. I was already 2 mins up on last year and felt OK. 26 minute laps followed for quite sometime as I put time in the bank. Kris joined me on Lap 3 and we stayed in touch until lap 5. Just past half marathon (1:45), we came upon Olwyn who was visibly struggling and slowing. She said she would try lap 5 and then make a decision. Kris and I pushed on clocking off the 26 minute laps. Olywn would go onto finish in 4:49 and come 2nd in her age group. That is guts.

With Brian Ankers lap 5
After 5 laps Kris went for a toilet break and I forged on on my own to be joined by Brian Ankers who abandoned his 4:45 pace group as noone was with him and was using the day as a practice long run for the next weeks "last man standing" ultra in Strangford. Also with us was Dave O'Mahony and we all had a good old chat.

Passed with 3K to go
Coming upto 7 laps Kris caught us and pushed on past looking very strong. She would end up doing a sub 3:40 marathon split and coming in just a couple of minutes shy of her PB in 4:25. She also would be 5th overall with 4th and 3rd directly in front of her. This was a 24 minute improvement on last year. She was also using this as a training run for some spectacular Ultras coming up.
Beat into 4th by 7 secs (over the shoulder)

Meanwhile I pushed on and managed a 3:46 marathon but have to say struggled from that point on losing valuable minutes. Gary the 4:30 pacer caught me coming upto the end of Lap 9 and would take 5 minutes out of me on the last lap as would Brian Ankers. Around the 40K mark I was passed by someone who looked a similar age to me. This put the pressure on but I just couldn't stay with him, but did manage to finish strong getting closer and closer near the finish, It turned out he was in my age group and he cane 3rd and I got 4th by an agonising 7 secs. I ended up with a 4:34:35 a whopping 47 minute improvement than last year, a course best by 25 minutes and less than 1 minute behind my PB on a much tougher course.

The atmosphere was brilliant at the finish and we were all delighted with our efforts and thankfully all secured qualification for next year already. Only 1 person over 5hrs was awarded a finish, every one else was DNFed. 20% DNF rate was significant.

Polar stats for the day  Click here