Friday, June 3, 2016

Review of 2015 - Cookstown to Monaghan

Just realised I never reported on my remaining races of 2015; so here's a quick snapshot of what I got up to after the Newry Marathon; with most reports having been taken from my Daily Mile entries.
All my fears were unfounded and only went and got another HM PB by nearly 30 secs - 1:41:49. The rain stayed away BUT the course was undulating after mile 1 until mile 11. The wind was strongish but not as bad as Omagh in March, so felt confident that I would run a decent race. Got into a good pace and took the hills steady and made up time on the flat. First time check was mile 8 - 1:03 slightly outside 1:40 pace BUT this gave me confidence that a PB was on the cards especially as the last 2 miles were flat and downhill. I really picked up the pace after mile 10 and I hit mile 12 at 1:33. I was flying at the finish and got the PB that to be honest I thought was out of my grasp today.
At the finish line...

FAN-BLOODY-TASTIC just smashed my previous best 10 mile time by about 5 mins - 1:13:41 - not only that but recorded a second PB during the race - under 60 mins for 8 miles!!
Brilliantly run event by Monaghan Town Runners (thanks JAMES CAMPBELL and others), yes there were a few undulations but the course was fantastic and support was amazing. Big shout out to Patricia Brown from Newry City Runners who acted indirectly as my pacemaker today; wouldn't have got that PB if it wasn't for you.
Early on in the race (with Cathal and Patricia from NCR)

This race came shortly after we had lost Gizmo and I really think he was with me in some way over the 13.1 miles...
As for the race - Adrenaline, emotion, fear, loss...all joined me on the start line today at Belfast HM. Personalised my number, tied some of Gizmo's 'play' red material to my belt and pinned one of his collar tags too. I knew physically I was in good shape but if I was to falter today, it would be emotions that would get the better of me. Yes, tears welled up on many occasions but I held it together; thinking Giz would want me to do the best I could do. This was a different way of running for me, setting off fast and hoping I could maintain to the finish. Things were going great as I got another sub 1 hour 8 mile, miles 10 & 11 were the hardest and I did feel my pace was dropping slightly but at mile 12 i was around 1:29 mark; so unless I did something stupid, my first sub 1:40 HM was on the cards. And there it was a 1:37:53 finish time and if it hadn't been for a couple of running buddies congratulating me as I collected my medal, I think I would have just burst into tears. Gizmo, miss you buddy. Even got a photo in the NI edition of the Daily Mirror!

HUGE THANKS TO LESLIE CRAWFORD for organising this event.
I am thrilled to have finished my first trail marathon in under 4 hours...well 75% was trail. The whole experience was amazing, on the Sunday, there was a HM, the marathon and Back2Back marathon runners. Yes it was low-key BUT organised by a local club in a brilliant way. I knew I was stepping into unknown territory having never run trails before but I wanted to give it my best shot. The day began chilly with fog but this soon cleared and the sun came out; no wind either meant it was perfect conditions. First 5 miles or so we're ran through the town on the roads, so I found a good pace early on and was probably sub 8:30 pace by the time I headed into the forest park for the first time. The final 21 miles consisted of 4 loops of the park (with small section of road). I soon realised that running trails is so different to running on the road...but I felt I mastered the technique quite quickly. The sights through the park were amazing; the sunlight through the canopy of the trees, the leaves gently falling from above, the haze above the lakes, the little brooks with shimmering water, the birdsong, butterflies and dragonflies. Even after 1 park loop and was beginning to realise that this wasn't going to be a PB marathon, so quickly set my goal to be enjoyment and possibly a sub 4 hour time. I was still fairly even paced by mile 15 but started to struggle halfway through the penultimate loop, my right knee was jarring a little and my left hip was aching...the small climbs in the park now seemed like hills but I was still passing more people than were passing me. Final 5 miles or so and my pace was nearer 10:00 min mile pace but I vowed to enjoy every step and as I came out of the park for the final time I had a huge smile on my face and cheers of Mr Chicken from the crowd pushed me over the finish and yes I got under 4 hours - 3:55:59 - and pretty damned pleased about that. The organisers had laid on sandwiches, soup, tea/coffee and 2 full tables of cake! I may have done the big marathons in London and Dublin but this probably rates as one of my best ever experiences...the volunteers were brill, the course tough but fair, medal was amazing...I have not one bad word to say about the event and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone looking to run a marathon in Ireland in 2016. I am one very happy Mr Chicken...
Pics from the day...

Oh and then in November, I was in NY to celebrate my wife's birthday and managed a short run in Central Park and here's the proof -

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