Already in 2011, I had achieved a Half Marathon PB of 1-49 at Larne, so was quietly confident of beating last year's time and then all being well getting under 1-50. A number of Dromore AC runners were lining up this year and before the gun, Mary, Janette and I did a 10 minute warm up around the leisure centre. The marathon runners set off at 9.00am and then there was the inevitable hanging about as we weren't due off until 9.30am. The weather was a little overcast, a temperature of around 13 degrees and a light wind - almost perfect running conditions. The forecast was for sunshine later but hopefully it wouldn't get too hot.
I started near the back alongside 2 fellow Dromore AC runners - Janette and Gordon and as the entrants only numbered around 2000, crossed the start chip mat fairly quickly. I wanted to set off at a steady pace and build up my speed after half way.
After a mile and half we were out on the Newry Canal tow path and as is always the case during the early stages of a race, I found myself struggling to pass some of the slower runners but we soon exited the tow path and headed out onto the open road. A flat stretch of around 2 miles lay ahead and by now I was hitting a steady pace and hitting 8 and half minute miles. The village of Jerrettspass was in the distance which meant we were close to half way and the dreaded uphill climb to mile 7. I was on target as I started to climb and climb a bit more, although the hill seems to get slightly easier with each passing year. The great thing as you reach the highest point is that you know the last 6 miles are either downhill or very flat.
|Lou's 30 year old Garfield modelling my number and medal|