Sun 10th February
Some days we ask ourselves, why are we doing this?! That was the gist of the conversation between Noel, Darren & myself yesterday as we came through Letterkenny on the way to Stranorlar for the Glenmore 10 mile road race. It was a biting cold morning with some black ice in places and as we looked towards the twin towns we could see a deep grey sky looming large above. It was not going to be pleasant for running. We joked that maybe we would just drive up and have a nice breakfast somewhere and come home again. Nobody was forcing us to go and we could simply turn around if we wanted but deep down we knew we didn’t really have a choice. When you sign up for an event in your head, then you want to get it done and earn that little bit of satisfaction afterwards.
My last post was on the night before my first run out of the year in the Kilmacrennan 10K and it was a good workout to get me going. It’s a very good local event and is a nice challenging course with a couple of tough hills around half way. Darren was going to run it as well but then couldn’t make it so Sarah and the 3 boys came out along with me. This would be Jamie’s first time at a race! It’s always great to have the support.
I settled into a nice pace early on and kept it steady enough throughout with the middle section proving hard work. I was certainly counting down the last few kilometres to the finish. I clocked a time of 39:39 which is actually my personal best for 10K so I’d have to be happy with that. I finished in 18th place. I ran 41:03 in this race last year so all in all a good start to the year. Fellow Ards man Shaun Stewart was also running and showed his versatility by going around in 35:16 for a very strong 5th place overall in the middle of training for a 100km cross country ski race in Norway!
Back to the Finn Valley centre then where we had met up with Michael Harkin who was also running. We stayed sheltered as long as we could before doing our usual minimal warm up and making our way up to the twin towns bridge for the start. There was a huge crowd again this year in what is a very popular event which would see 565 finishers recorded at the end. There is not that many longer distance races around the county and this along with the favourable course makes this race an attractive one.
We were glad to get going on such a cold morning and I got a little claustrophobic running in the crowd down the main street as I ducked out to the outside but it soon opened out. It was tough going early on as the rain was now lashing down and I couldn’t believe it when I saw a runner up ahead coming back the wrong way saying its just too cold for this!
I went through the first mile in 6:16 which was a bit too sharp and I was working rightly. There was always plenty runners around me and I tried settling in with a group that I thought I could stay with. We turned left onto the back road towards Glenfin and there was nothing but bad weather and hard work from here until the point where the course turned back for Ballybofey after 5 miles. It would definitely have been a day for gloves as my hands were starting to bite and I made a point of shaking them out at every mile marker.
When we turned onto the main road after 5 miles the whole day seemed to settle down and the only thing I had to contend with then was the pain of running! Milford AC coach James Gibbons was at the half way point shouting out times to everyone and he let me know I had clocked 32:40 for the first 5 miles as I passed. He’s a great man for encouraging everybody. I kept working as hard as I could and found myself running in a little group of 3 for a few miles.
When I got to about 7 and a half miles I could start to sense the finish and thought I should manage to keep going as I was. The last 2 miles are up and down a bit as we passed by Drumboe woods but I found them quite enjoyable. We came out onto the town again and turned right and then left before the bridge for the very long run in back to the Finn Valley Centre. My finishing time was 1 hour, 4 minutes and 48 seconds which was 2 and a half minutes quicker than this race last year. I have a few more weeks running done this year though. This left me in 35th place overall. Noel, Michael and Darren were all very relieved to get to the line too as they came home in 100th, 123rd & 141st places. I have had a couple of extra weeks training than them but getting 10 miles into the legs on a tough day like this will stand to us all.
It was a tough day on the body but when I got back home and warmed up again it felt good to have it done. Training runs are great and we mostly enjoy getting out when we do but there is nothing like a race to bring you on and keep you going.
Noel, Michael and myself have signed up for the Belfast City marathon on the May bank holiday weekend and also for the Omagh half marathon in April. Darren has committed to a long distance cycle race in June so his training will mostly focus on that in the early part of the year before him and I turn our attentions to Berlin. Between now and Omagh we will probably take in a few 5K’s etc to keep us going and will soon have to start building the miles for Belfast. It’s going to be pretty hard work at times but once again nobody is forcing us to do it!