Race morning was a leisurely one. I got a bit of a lie-in as I only live a mile away from the start. I had my breakfast then spent some time reading and playing with my cats. I usually try to get to a race an hour early, but today the plan was to use the walk to the race as a warm up so I left later than usual.
This was the first race where I did a proper warm up, and I know it helped. Before today I was always afraid a warm up would use up too much energy, so I avoided it. Today, I knew that a warm up would help me get past that ‘first mile sucks’ hump so I did a very easy mile from my house to the start, then after I dropped my bag off and took my usual start line photo, I did a few strides which got the legs loosened. I felt pretty good when I went to line up for the start.
The strategy was to run at a pace of 11:40-11:50 min/miles and see how I felt and increase the pace over the 3 miles. Slightly nerve-wracking as this is a pace I’ve only done in interval training! But, my coach was confident I could do it and I didn’t want to prove him wrong!
Mile 1 (11.48)
I started the race and found my pace pretty quickly and felt pretty comfortable at it. It was not as hard as I thought it would be, which surprised me because a few months ago doing a few intervals at this pace had me wrecked!
Mile 1 was uneventful, I was running with loads of people around me but still found enough clear space I didn’t have to weave. I found myself running beside an American man who was visiting Dublin with his wife. We ended up chatting pretty much through the whole race; an experience that is brand new to me as I’m more used to running at the back with no one around me! He was just coming back from an injury and his goal was to run the race without having to stop or slow down. We ended up pacing each other for the rest of the race, again, an experience I’ve never had before. An experience I really appreciate! It was a distraction for me, to have someone to run beside and chat to (I say chat, but really it was a gasp and a wheeze between every other word kind of conversation!) and also kept me pushing the pace a bit so I never even thought about slowing down.
I met a few other people who know me from my twitter name, it was great to see you all both on the course and after!
Anyway, mile 1 passed quick enough and I felt comfortable throughout, the run wasn’t hurting and I knew I had the warm up to thank for that.
Mile 2 (11:48)
Another consistent mile, and I remember thinking here that I was glad the weather was good for racing; not too hot, not too cold, a bit breezy but not gusty. I was really grateful for it!
Me and the American, Millard (I hope I spelled that right!) kept going, the talking getting harder but we both kept up the pace. I wasn’t actually trying for such a consistent split! I just didn’t want to slow down!
I still felt really comfortable at this pace, which was still surprising. I know I was talking in spurts and gasps but I wasn’t hurting like I thought I would and I knew I was strong enough to keep the pace. I can’t tell you how unbelievably GOOD it feels to say that!
This mile was the best part of the route; not as many bends and turns to it.
Mile 3 (11:00)
Time to put some extra work in. Especially if I wanted a big PB, which I had been hoping for. We upped the pace a bit, ran into a bit of headwind but carried on.
It was around 2.82 miles when it started to hurt but I welcomed the pain because it meant I was working hard and putting all that training to use. I wasn’t able for much conversation at that point, and soon enough my racing partner kicked on, chasing down another runner ahead of us. I held back a bit, wanting to wait until I was closer to the finish before I sped up.
Rounding the corner onto Baggot Street, I sped up a little bit, only to be forced to weave around some girls who suddenly stopped running and started walking. I got past them and kept going, putting on more speed as I saw the finish line get closer. My Garmin registered a pace of 9.52 min/mile when I crossed the finish line.
I was a bit shocked to see the clock on the gantry read 37 minutes when I approached. I was sure I had run a faster race than that. I felt tired, and sick to my stomach, but was able to keep it under control. Anyway, my Garmin read 36:35 so I knew I had PBd. I would just have to wait for the official results to know for sure. In the meantime, I met my racing partner and we gave each other a hug. He told me I had helped him reach his goal of running the race without stopping. That was a good feeling! He certainly helped me run a good race! If you’re reading this, thank you! It was a real pleasure to meet you and your wife today. All the best in your travels!
My official race time was 36:37, a 40 second PB.
But I wasn’t ecstatic about it. Nowhere near ecstatic.
Because, in hindsight, I know I could have done better. I was able to run a consistent race, and talk (talk!!) throughout, and wasn’t in bits afterwards and only mildly felt like hurling at the end…I feel these are all signs that say I could have run faster and harder and better.
If you’ve followed my blog or twitter for a while, you know how hard I am on myself. Well, today I was really disappointed with my result. In preparing for the race I had been focusing on the ’11’ of the pace I was aiming for, forgetting about the ’40-50′ seconds part. So I was expecting a time of around 34, 35 minutes (I’m allergic to maths, remember!). That would have been a really big PB and an achievement I could smile over. To feel that I hadn’t pushed myself enough and that it was possibly within reach but I just didn’t work for it; well you can see where this is going.
Luckily, I met with a fellow running friend and my coach after the race and they were great at getting me to look at the positives. My coach said, when I take time out of the equation, it was a race well run. I managed a consistent pace that months ago I wouldn’t have been able to sustain, I managed to put on some speed at the end of the race, I still PBd on a bendy course and I felt strong pretty much the whole way. That says a lot about how I’ve improved as a runner, and from that perspective I’m really happy!
The bottom line
Of course there is room for improvement. There always is. I’m going to take this race and learn from it; but I’m going to stay on the positive side and celebrate a new PB.
I treated myself to a new movie (technically an old one as it’s the original Godzilla!) so I will watch that tonight after I make my favourite chicken noodle soup. A movie, dinner and a cold pale ale to go with it. A pretty sweet reward for a PB, I think!
One last thing
I might have been disappointed with my time today, but I’m absolutely chuffed with my training so far and that’s down to the advice and input of my coach, Luke and the Saturday workouts with my trainer, Michael. I couldn’t have done this without them!