Friday, November 2, 2012

Navan Fort - 10 miles around Armagh

Sunday 14th October
I had no time to rest after the Laganside 10k race as I had the Armagh 10 mile road race on the horizon. Over the next few weeks, my training was varied and included pyramid sessions, tempo runs, long weekend runs and speed sessions (ranging from 1500m to 5k pace).
The training had gone well and I was certainly on target to get a sub 1-20 time. In 2010, I crossed the line in 82 mins, whilst last year I had improved my time by 5 mins and finished in just over 77 mins. Could I get a course PB in 2012?
October can be a funny month when it comes to the weather and the last 2 years saw the race run under blue skies with warm Autumnal sunshine. 2012 was a little different as it was overcast and drizzly but not too cold. I arrived at Navan Fort already changed with contact lenses securely in place. As ever, my nerves were getting the better of me, so I took myself off for some gentle strides and to gather my thoughts.
In addition to the 10 mile road race, there is a 4 mile fun run which starts at the same time. This posed a few problems in the past as a lot of the children, walkers and fun-runners would position themselves at the front of the start area which meant the main runners had a lot of dodging to do over the first half mile or so. However, this year the organisers ensured the main group of runners started at the front. I was keen to start as close to the front as possible, so that I could get into my race-pace as quickly as possible.
I started well and felt I was already at goal-pace after the 1st mile and unusually for me kept this aggressive style of running going over the next few miles. Miles 3 to 7 are probably the most difficult as there a number of stiff climbs and it's difficult to get a steady rhythm going but although my pace slowed very slightly, I still felt I was on course for a PB.
By half-way I had already passed a couple of Dromore A.C. runners including Tina but this was more a sign of my confident running rather than her having a bad race. I could see Mary Mackin in the distance and knowing our race times are pretty much the same, I used her as a marker and if I kept within a minute of her, I knew was going to get a good time.
As I passed the 7 mile marker, I knew that if I kept it together over the next 2 miles and kept an even pace, I could push hard over the last mile and get that PB. One of the ways that I controlled my pace over the last third of the race was by running stride for stride with a Finn Valley A.C. runner. I still had Mary in my sights but didn't feel I was getting any closer to her, so put to the back of my mind any hope of passing her. Into the last mile and my stride started to lengthen and my pace began to quicken and round the last corner the finish arch came into view and with 200 metres to go I could see the clock closing in on 1-16. The chip-mat beeped as I crossed the line and I knew that I'd achieved another PB.
I collected up my medal, a couple of bananas and a bottle of water before catching up the other Dromore runners - we had all finished within 5 minutes of each other. (see pic below)
My finish (chip) time was confirmed as 1-16-16 however as the race had been only chipped at the end of the race, I'm going to use a bit of artistic licence and say my finish time was 1-16!! So, I hadn't quite caught Mary (she was 35 secs in front of me) and the runner from Finn Valley A.C. beat me by 25 secs but I had knocked 90 secs off last year's time and got a PB for 10 miles. Very, very pleased. Who knows, maybe next year I'll get under 75 minutes? No time to sit back and relax as I have the Seeley Cup 10k to train for in mid-November and then Dromore's X-Country race in December.