Previous PB: 36:37
New PB: 35:15
I was a bit surprised yesterday when I mentioned to someone that today’s race would be my 20th. I’ve come a long long way since my first race! And I aim to go further still with my goals for the year.
This race was pretty important to me. I wanted to redeem myself after my last race, where I finished with a PB but felt I could have done better. So discussing the strategy for today with my coach, I knew what I had to do to really prove myself and test my training. And I trust my training. I really do. I’m in great hands with Luke as my coach, the running I’m doing is perfect for my abilities but also stretches me in order to improve. I’m loving every minute of it.
The morning began uneventfully for me, with my usual pre-race routine of breakfast and getting ready. I got the bus to a street near the start then walked about a kilometer to pick up my number. I had enough time to take my usual start line photo before dropping my bag off and then warming up with some jogging and a few strides before heading to my start pen.
Mile 1 (11:49)
At 10.30 we were off, and before I knew it I was running alone. Again. A common occurrence for me when I’m as slow as I am but I wasn’t expecting it this time. It was an incredibly windy day so I’d been hoping I could tuck in behind someone to block the wind! I had no one so I just concentrated on running, but running well.
The strategy was pretty basic; to run the first mile at a pace of 11:45 min/mile, then increase the speed over the last two miles and kick on whenever I felt I could. It took me about a half mile to settle into the right pace as I started a bit too fast then overcompensated and ran too slow! But after that half mile I was pretty spot on so I focused on moving the legs and making sure that no matter what, I didn’t slow down.
The wind was brutal but mostly a crosswind so I ignored it and kept on, slightly slower than planned but not disastrously.
Mile 2 (11:20)
I’m really bad at maths, as you probably all know. But I knew in order to PB today I would have to run this mile faster than the first. Based on my splits from the last race I knew it couldn’t be even. So I picked up the pace and then started hurting. Not injury hurt but just…body working hard kind of hurt. The kind of hurt that comes with running faster than you normally do. My legs started to ache, my lungs started to complain and I knew that the old me, the me that was afraid of this kind of pain, would have stopped to walk. But not the me of today. Today I welcomed the pain and upped the pace even more. To me, that pain means I’m doing something right so it spurs me on.
I’m really familiar with the Phoenix Park by now, so I didn’t even need to think about the route at this point. I just kept going. Hurting, but keeping on.
Mile 3 (11:12)
I knew exactly where I was in relation to the finish line, so this mile was easy to control even with upping the pace even more. I was finding it hard to swallow which was in turn making it hard to breathe but again, I knew this was actually a good thing so I again accepted it and carried on. Once I turned onto Furze Road the wind, previously ignorable, hit me with full force. I wasn’t entirely sure I was on track for a PB, because maths (remember, I’m allergic) and wind had me confused. But I also decided that would be ok. I’d run a really good race so far, I felt in control the whole time and I managed my pace pretty well. My confusion didn’t slow me down though, I was determined to run a negative split so I kept going. I was tired, everything was hurting, I couldn’t swallow properly and I felt that if this continued much longer I was going to hurl. I didn’t know if I had any kick left in me though, but as I approached the finish I found the energy from somewhere and took the pace up a notch.
When I saw the 35 minutes on the clock I picked up the pace even more, utterly determined to cross the finish as close to 35 as possible. I don’t really remember finishing actually. I just knew I had to get over the line and that right quickly! As soon as I did I stopped my watch, but didn’t look at it because I was coughing, and trembling so much I thought I was going to fall over! I walked on a few meters then hung on to the barrier for a bit to get myself under control. It took a minute to stop coughing and get my legs back, though they were still wobbly for a while afterwards. I was chuffed though. Happy as Larry to see my Garmin registered 35:19 for the 5k and knowing I could probably take a few seconds off that for my official time. My last split for the .10 mile was 9:43 min/mile!
You know how hard I am on myself, right? How after every race, no matter how well I do, I find something I did that could have been better.
Not this time.
Today, I can’t find anything about the race that I’m unhappy with. Do you have any idea how…how…unprecedented this is? I’m shocked at myself even! But seriously, looking back over the race and the way I ran each mile, I am delighted with my performance. I controlled my pace, managed the pain, ran smart and more importantly, maybe even most importantly, I knew I could do it. As I’d told my coach before hand, I trusted the training and I trusted my legs. Neither one let me down.
Big thanks to the organizers and volunteers at the Great Ireland Run. The whole thing was a fantastic set up, well organised race and great atmosphere. I will be back next year!
More training! I am more sure than ever that I can crack the sub-30 5k. I know it will be difficult, and painful, but I can do it. I will do it! It’s only a matter of time.