Sunday, 17 August 2014

Lehinch

Marathon #63    Lehinch (Co Clare)

4:28:45    On a very hilly course on a windy day.

I was back on my comfort zone this week at marathon distance away from those lung and gut busting 5K and 8K races.

Group Photo
I was in Galway for the weekend, so it was a relatively short hop down to the race start in Enistimon. I woke early and as usual checked the computer for the weather as I was having breakfast. The web was full of extraordinary uplifting stories. It was with great jealousy that I read the ebullient posts and viewed the happy photos of the mad yokes doing the 4 in 4 Quadrathon in Donegal. It was day 3 and I initially was booked in to this race for today. It looked absolutely super. I was so jealous. News had also come through that David Brady had just completed his 400th marathon. I had spent a lot of time with Dave over the last 2 years having passed him and been passed by him many times and he was always up for the chat. Then Brian Ankers had joined blogger and put up his amazing account of his win in the Connemara 100 the week before. Again I have run with Brian many times over the last few years  and he is a machine. I still have nightmares of after one of my best efforts on the really difficult Howth course,  being in 5th place and bombing my way into Howth village when I got the shocking "Tap Tap" from Brian 100m from the finish. I just cant let it go. I have to say all of these uplifting stories made me feel quite down and I felt, fat, middle aged and distinctly average as I got in the car.

As I was early I took the coast road to Enistimon. Soon the awesomeness of the Burren, the knowledge that Dave Brady was a one off and Brian has turned out to be one of the worlds best ultra runners (Connemera 100 time was top 10 globally this year for 100 miles) and the fact that I had my own inspirational story soon brought me round and I arrived at the startling line back to normal.

There was a lovely atmosphere at the start line where 31 runners had come along for this MCI organised event on this new course. It was Patrick O'Neill and Theresa Murphy's first attempt at being race directors and it was a fantastic effort and brilliantly organized. 

And we are off
After the group photo we were off, and it became quickly clear this was going to be a tough course (turned out close to 1000ft climb) as the first 1K was straight up hill. In fact the first 3 miles was really really tough with steep rolling hills being the order of the day. I immediately settled into a group of around 7 that seemed to include most of the committee of MCI with the newly shaped MO after losing over a stone leading the way.  It was at this stage I thought my shoes were feeling a bit tight and when I checked I was horrified to notice that I had forgot to change into my marathon
Valarie and Brenda and MO
shoes and was still wearing my good "pulling" runners that had never seen even 1 mile running before.

We continued on for an
Lehinch Golf club
other 3 miles dropping into Lehinch past the world famous golf course which I played some 25 years ago. It still rates as one of the best. At this stage our group had broken up and I was with Valerie and Brenda. In Lehinch the route brought us along the promenade where we felt the full force of the strong westerly. It was beautiful.  At the end of the prom was an aid station manned by Vincent  Guthrie who was obviously still in Connemara 100 crewing mode as he was refusing to give out salt tablets to anyone who didn't have a doctor cert (thanks Vincent for all the encouragement)

Loose Chucks
There were steep climbs back out of Lehinch again but brought beautiful views over the Clare countryside and soon we could see Enistimon below us. Farm machinery and loose chickens were just some of the  obstacles that we had to overcome on this section.I took advantage of the steep drop back into Enistimon to break clear of Valerie and Brenda and entered the town over the famous waterfalls before making my way back up the main street to finish the first 8.4 mile loop.

Marie Chapman on Lehinch prom
Despite the runners oversight my feet felt OK and I decided not to stop and change them but headed back up the hill into lap 2. I was on my own on this lap until Marie Chapman caught me on the outskirts of Lehinch for the second time. We ran and chatted for a while going over the details of her epic 100K run in Tralee and our plans for the rest of 2014 and next year. She was moving very comfortably and pushed on as we hit the golf course and by the time we hit Enistimon for the second time she was gone. I passed Adolfo at this point who was doing his 79th marathon and had just returned from the US and Mexico where he was on holiday but still getting a few races in. At the end of the second loop my feet still felt fine so I continued. 

Some of the obstacles
The hills on the third loop got me and I had to walk them. Not surprisingly I was passed by a couple of other runners on this loop but kept moving forward nicely. I have a  lot of  races in the next few months so was not killing myself. Then came Lehinch for the 3rd time. I felt very sore on my toes and sure enough when I checked my nice new runners had turned red. I guess I was lucky I had got this far but the toes had gone. This made for a very uncomfortable last 3 miles up and down dale back to Enistimon. The cruel twist in the day was that we passed the start line at km 41, and we were immediately sent back up the hill for the 4th time for the last km. This was a killer and was mostly walked. I was delighted to crawl over the line in 4:28 which wasn't a bad effort and just squeezed me into the top half of the field in 15th place. We got a lift back to the start for a fantastic spread and a cup of tea.
Crawling over the line

The wrong shoes
I was scared to take my shoes off and waited until I got back to Galway. My foot stung like it was an open nipple in the shower and I took this as a very expensive lesson.

Now we have the countdown to what will be a super weekend on Achill. This was my favorite event last year and I can't wait,

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