Sunday, 16 March 2014

Tralee


Marathon #47     Tralee International Marathon      3:58:18

144th out of 370 finishers and 24th in my age group

Full results at

Marathon results at sports splits

This was my second ever visit to Kerry. The last time was in 1988 as guest of the Aer Lingus Gold Circle club at their infamous pro-am golf tournament held in Killarney that year. Incidentally I came 3rd with 41 points off 12. But the lasting memory was playing 6 holes with Christie O'Connor senior. Brilliant. I believe he can still be found at the ripe old age of 89 mid week at the practice area in Royal Dublin, on Bull Island.. 

This time I went with Lindsay and Libby for the weekend and after a stop over in Galway made it to Tralee by 14:30. We stayed in the Grand Hotel which was fabulous and smack in the centre of town and 400m from the start and right on the finish line. These regional events bring a huge amount of money into the local economy. I'm not exaggerating when I say I think I spent at least 1 million euro in Tralee over the weekend. 

We got to the registration by 3pm and it was a pretty small and quiet expo. I think we were the only ones signing in at this time. Given it was rugby afternoon I wasn't surprised. Everything was fine until I went to get the commemorative t-shirt and was told that they only had S and XS left. I was offered a half marathon one instead which didn't do it for me. If this was my first marathon or I had spent 4 months training for this race, I would have been more annoyed than I was but I didn't really care. So I left my name and address with a promise it will be posted. We will see. But as I have paid for it I expect it in the post soon.

Ireland beat France.... Yahoo!!!  We went to celebrate at a fantastic Southern European restaurant on the square called Stone House. Big recommendation. I have to say, after the match, town was very very quiet and not the usual atmosphere I come to expect on St Patrick's weekend.  

I was up by 7:30 and loaded up on toast and porridge and it was off to the start at 8:15.

Brenda, Collette and Eimear
Getting ready for the start
And we are off

MCI was there in force and were really colourful with many in St Paddy's day outfits. They really added a dimension to the race and were in the spirit of the weekend. They are great.

We went to the start line just in time for the start and there were lots of other familiar faces there.

As soon  as Gary O'Hanlon  arrived we we off.


At the start 
I  have to say I felt like crap. The first part of this race (10 miles) was mostly up hill and into a wind. I really didn't feel well and was well off my normal pace.  There were loads of runners that were veterans of Connemara last week that just skipped past me with disgusting ease. I remember Adolfo, Jim, David, Larry, Mo and Bono (AKA Bob) all coming past.  I was really struggling and had a real upset tummy. I knew I was in trouble when the 3:45 pace group flew past looking as if they were out for a stroll. I was in a position  that I wasn't comfortable with. I struggled on until mile 10 and had a nature break. 5 minutes later I was back and joined the race just in front of the 4 hr pace group.

 I felt much better and started making my way through the field. There was a switchback soon after that took us up and down a really steep hill and I must have known about 50% of the field as we passed. I was feeling much better and pushed on. I came through the half way in 1:59 on what has to be said was a tough half with the wind and the hills. But the second half was supposedly easier. Overall I was surprised to see the elevation was very similar to Connemara but it sure didn't feel like it.

After 15 miles we hit the second switchback on a pier into Tralee Bay. I had managed to gain a couple of minutes on the 4 hr pacer and was still feeling good. I passed Larry, Dave, Mo and Adolfo around this point and they commented I was looking better.

I kicked on and we hit a lovely section with the wind in our back and flat. It was the most picturesque part of the course as it skirted the sea. It was a nice respite. Tralee is no Achill or Connemara when it comes to scenery but it was a nice rural Irish run.

I came through 20 miles in 3 hrs even. Exactly the same time as last week in Connemara but more a testament of how good last week's run was opposed to today's which was in much better conditions. I was expecting the 4 r pacer to pass me at any time but there was no sign. We hit the outskirts of Tralee around 23 miles and I was still going OK.

I could see Jimmy Nugent about 200m ahead of me and put him in my sights. I eventually caught him at 24.5 miles and executed a textbook "tap tap".

The 4 hr pacer was 30m behind us at this stage and Jimmy and myself agreed that our chances of a four-hour finish was gone. I was still feeling quite good and pushed on. I was joined by a few others who I assumed were the pace group, but they like me, were just in front. As we got closer we got conflicting advice from the stewards about how long was left. Anything from 50m to 5 minutes. Then suddenly we were in the town center and hit the crowd barriers. The organizers were obliviously expecting thousands of supporters but only hundreds had turned up and the streets were rather empty. There wasn't much atmosphere. I eventually crossed the line in 3:58:18  and it was an unexpected bonus to break 4 hrs. I was delighted.





Just finished

Honestly, it was a fantastic result for me given that I wasn't on top form and it was my 6th marathon in five weeks. Next up is East of Antrim in Belfast next Sunday.





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