It was, however, my first time running two races so close to each other. 6 days ago I ran a 10k race where I PB’d by 5 minutes. I wasn’t sure how my body would cope with racing again so soon afterwards. I know for a lot of runners it’s no big deal, but for me it was an unknown.
That’s why I’m sure I’ll shock you all when I say I’m happier with this race than I am with a lot of my races! Not only did I PB again, but I was in control the whole time and I ran the race I wanted to run.
I woke up this morning feeling pretty calm and relaxed about the race. I knew what strategy I wanted to go with and I was confident enough that I could manage it. My legs were a bit stiff and tight in the hamstrings though so I was a little worried about that; wondering if they would hold up, especially as the course had two major hills to get up.
I used the walk to the shuttle bus to loosen them, and planned for a proper warm up closer to the race. I wasn’t in a huge hurry to get to the start but I still ended up being first on the bus 😛 I got to the start with an hour to spare.
I walked around the start and finish areas for a bit before dropping my bag at the bag drop and getting stuck in to my warm up. I ran a very easy half mile then did 3 x 100m strides at race pace with 100m jog recovery, then finished at an easy pace. I could still feel my hamstrings were tight so did some stretches too. Time passed quickly enough and with 10 minutes to go I lined up in Wave 3. In hindsight, I could have gone with the back of Wave 2.
Mile 1: 12:24 (splits are a little off but they’re all I’ve got!)
The plan was to run at a pace that was controlled but uncomfortable. Not all out, but uncomfortable. For me that equates to a pace of about 12:15 -12:30 min/mile. First mile went by rather quickly and with no incident. Hamstrings felt ok and while I was working hard, I wasn’t overdoing it. I was happy enough with the weather; it was humid but overcast with a light breeze. Not perfect running conditions but nothing to complain about either.
I noticed my Garmin beeped the mile before I got to the marker so I knew I would have to be careful with noting my mile paces. I was running the line though so I’m not sure why it was off. It didn’t cause any problems until further on in the race though.
Mile 2: 12:25
Felt really strong here, keeping to my pace and knowing I was capable of holding on to it. The point today was to be controlled and I knew I still had the hills to contend with. I still had a lovely downhill stretch to cover which I considered a treat! The end of this mile led into that downhill.
I noticed the breeze was starting to get warmer though, that really didn’t help!
Mile 3: 12:33
The first half of this mile was all downhill. I held back a bit though, and I wonder now if maybe I shouldn’t have. But I didn’t want to lose control and I needed to save my energy for the first hill that was only half a mile away. I was planning on running the whole way through so at the time I thought it was better to take it easy on the downhill and enjoy having the energy later.
Soon enough the hill was at hand! It’s not a very long hill but it is steep and I naturally slowed down on it. I was prepared for that though so wasn’t feeling too put off the race. I was still running the paces I wanted to, and still felt controlled but uncomfortable. I was more conscious of my breathing at this stage and worked hard to control that too.
I got to the top of the hill without having to stop and walk, grateful for the leveling out.
This mile is my favourite part of the course…aaaand my least favourite!
The first half of the mile comprises the ‘S’ bends in the Phoenix Park, which I personally love to run because if you run the line then it feels like you’re slingshotting through them. I feel quite quick on these because of it.
After that there’s more downhill, then a water station. Now, here I was running a little too fast. Of course I had planned to quicken my pace in the latter stages of the race but I wanted to get up the second hill before I did. I guess I was just so happy to see the water station that I sped up! I grabbed a cup, took two sips then dumped the rest over my head, managed all that without having to stop or slow down. But soon after that I deliberately slowed down; because of the hideous, horrible hill.
The second hill of this race is the pits. It’s a long, slow, steep climb that feels like it goes on forever! This was my slowest mile of the race and gee I wonder why!
My Garmin beeped the mile time well before the mile marker so I decided that when I hit the marker I would hit the lap key so it would sync up again. I was aiming for a PB and I had to be absolutely sure of my pace in the last mile.
Mile 5: 12:11
The last mile was just a matter of making sure I was speeding up but still controlled. I was getting more than uncomfortable by now but I told myself ‘only 12 minutes to go’ and that was just what I needed to hear. It would be over soon! I still felt, despite the hurt, that I was strong, capable and running a good race.
I picked a few people to reel in and pass, and concentrated on the announcer’s voice that I could hear in the distance. As I approached the flags that marked the homestretch I heard him say that someone had just come in under the 1 hour mark. I was aiming for a 62-63 minute race so I knew I was going to nail it.
Of course, I still put on a kick to get me across the finish!
I finished in 1:03:31.
That’s a PB of 1:02 minutes.
And I’m actually happier with this PB than I am with the last one! Go figure! As an aside, I knew going in to this that if I PB’d today, I would be continuing a PB streak that has lasted since I ran the Dublin Marathon last October. No pressure, eh?!
Seriously though, there’s not much I could have done differently, given the day, the previous race (only 6 days ago!) and the state of my legs. Perhaps I could have used the downhills more effectively but I think I made the right call. I don’t want to sacrifice my legs and risk injury for the sake of a few seconds off my time.
All in all I’m happy enough. The race itself is brilliantly organized and I’d like to thank Frank Greally, Irish Runner Magazine and the Dublin Marathon Race Series for putting on such a well run race as well as all the volunteers on the day.
Shout out to all my friends that I met before and after the race. It always helps to see friendly faces in the crowd. I hope you had a great day out!
So next race that I’ve signed up for is a 10 mile race in August. Lots of time to prepare and sort out the legs before then. I think more sport massage is in order!