Thought it best that I return to all things running and review two late summer/early autumn races that I competed in.
First up and 7 weeks after the Cookstown Half, I was lining up for the Laganside 10k in Belfast. I first entered in 2009 and completed in 55 mins and then last year, I registered a time of just under 48 mins. This however, was my first competitive 10k of 2011, so although quietely confident I wasn't sure if I would get under 45 mins.
The training had gone well, with regular sessions at Dromore AC, some hill work and longish runs of around 10 miles. This 10k is a very popular one as the course is pretty flat throughout and it is run in the heart of Belfast. As ever the start is always congested but with the race being chipped, I started near the back in the hope that I wouldn't set off too quick and burn myself out after a mile. A number of other Dromore runners were lining up too and I was keen to keep an eye on the likes of Aine and Mary who were both more than capable of a time around 45 mins.
The gun sounded and we were on our way, I had no problems weaving through the pack and was soon on the heels of Jonathan(fellow Dromore runner) who I knew was capable of a 45 mins time. My pace was steady and I knew that if I kept Jonathon in sight, I would get a good time. Just before half-way we crossed the Ormeau Bridge and here there were a number of Dromore supporters urging us on. I hit half-way in around 23 mins and this gave me a lift as I knew that by keeping at this pace, 45 mins was a possibilty.
Between mile 4 & 5 things nearly went wrong as turning up past Cental Railway Station I had to take evasive action as a number of pedestrians were heading our way, the only place I could go was onto the road and thankfully there was no oncoming traffic. A few expletives came out of my mouth (why were marshalls not keeping the paths clear?) but I regained my composure and made my way along the tow-path knowing I had less that 2 miles to go. By this point I had passed Jonathon and could see in the distance a number of Dromore vests. Reaching the Ormeau Bridge for a second time, Diane from the club who was supporting not running, was pointing furiously in the distance at a Dromore vest - it was Aine. Could I catch her? The last half a mile or so is flat so I dug deep and quickened my pace slightly, all the time closing in on Aine and with 10 yards to go I passed her. I was over the moon, kanckered but over the moon. I knew I hadn't quite got under 45 mins but my time was going to be a PB. I picked up my bottle of water and headed for the Up & Running stall. This year the organisers gave all entrants a voucher for Up & Running rather than a T-shirt, which I felt was a much better idea. I stocked up on energy bars/gels which will come in useful in 2012 during my marathon training. And what of my official time? 45-58, which knocked over 2 mins off last year's time and another PB.
October 9th and 6 weeks on from the Laganside 10k and I'm down at the Navan Centre in Armagh waiting for the start of the Armagh 10 mile road race. In 2010, I completed the race in 1 hr 22 mins but I was hopeful of getting under 1 hr 20 mins particularly as there had been a lot of speedwork in my recent training. Although this event is well publicised and attracts a lot of entrants, the organisation leaves a little to be desired. This year's race wasn't chipped, no changing facilities on-site and the cotton T-shirt is exactly the same as last year's. Oh and the other thing is the "fun run" starts at the same time as the main race, so you spend the first mile dodging youngsters, walkers and pram-pushers!!
What of the race? Well, I set off way to quickly, hitting 2 miles in 15 mins...this was a pace I wasn't going to be able keep up, so I took stock and eased back slightly. The route is through quiet country roads and has a few hills so makes for a challenging run. I knew at half-way a pace of 8 minute miles would get me close to a 1hr 20 mins finish, I was feeling really positive and was able to push hard over the last couple of miles and finished in a time of 1 hr 17 mins 42 secs. Really pleased and happy to see most other Dromore runners finish in under 1hr 25 mins.
Will I run the race again in 2012? Not sure, the course is great and there aren't many 10 mile races but the organisers will need to up their game.
1 major race left in 2011, the Seeley Cup 10k at the end of November. Will I get that sub 45 time???