As Autumn gives way to Winter, the road race season here in NI begins to wind down and the final big 10k race of 2012 took place around Ormeau Park, Belfast on Saturday November 17th - the Seeley Cup.
The course is relatively flat and so the race always attracts a high class field; this year was no exception with over 800 entrants. My club Dromore AC was well represented with over 25 members of the club turning out.
5 weeks on from the Armagh 10 mile race and I was feeling confident having concentrated my training on speed-work, hills and an occasional long run - if you can consider 8 miles a long run?
I was determined not to make the same mistakes I made at the Laganside race a few months ago; so I ensured my contacts were sitting correctly and I lined up closer to the front. The start was a little chaotic as the organisers were having problems with the chip mat. It took a few minutes to get everything sorted and even when the gun sounded not everyone had their start time recognised by the chip mat!
My goal as I set off, was to at least get a sub-45 time and if I could get a PB that would be a bonus. My pace was good from the start although I had a minor problem with one of my knee straps before reaching the 1km mark, thankfully I was able to reach down mid-stride and pull it back across my knee. It is important to run the first couple of km's well and get yourself a good position in the pack, particularly as when you first enter the park, the paths can get very congested. I steered clear of trouble and soon hit a rhythm and pace that I thought would get me close to a 45 minute finish. Out of the park and onto the main road again, you can really stretch your legs and make up a bit of time before you hit halfway just inside the park. I crossed this point in just under 23 minutes, so I knew I was on course and I just had keep things together and run at an even pace.
The weather up to this point had been fairly kind but this all changed between 7 and 8 km, where we were greeted by strong winds and driving rain. I put my head down and drove on hoping that I wouldn't lose too many vital seconds. As had happened during the Armagh race, I found myself on the heels of a Finn Valley runner who kept me going over the next couple of km's. Back in the park and sheltered from the wind and rain, I knew I was on target, the legs were beginning to ache but my mind was focused and as I turned the last corner, I thought this is where all those sprint sessions at club can come into play; my knees lifted and I drove on with my arms and crossed the line just as my iPod registered 45 minutes. It was too early to know for sure what my official finish time was but all I knew was that I had run as well as I had hoped and despite being shattered I had enjoyed my 3rd Seeley Cup. Immediately after the race, many of the Dromore runners got together to share race stories and also pose for a few group photographs.
I didn't have to wait long for finish times to be up on the NI Athletics web-site and eerily, my finish time (as opposed to my chip time) of 44-59 was exactly the same as 2011!!. In terms of my official time, well it was 44-45 and although not quite a PB (by 1 second), I was very, very pleased. A few days later, I made the mistake of searching Seeley 2012 on You Tube and I found a couple of clips showing not only myself but plenty of other Dromore runners (Kerry, Janette, Julia, Aine, Judith, to name but a few) strutting their stuff...it's very strange see what odd running styles we all seem to have.
I have no clips to show here but here is an action shot of me in the park...with thanks to Allyce for the photo.