Running 1:56:07  24.92 km (4:40 / km) +918m 3:56 / km
IMRA Maurice Mullins Half - 7th
Had been looking forward to this one as a big post-winter goal for the last couple months. It was also announced as selection for Interceltic trail running which served as an added incentive - it was top 3, sub 2hrs that get on the team.
Wouldn’t usually consider myself too much of a candidate for a hill running singlet, but figured you never know what the field will be like, it’s a course that should suit me, and I reckoned I’m in better shape than probably ever before.
But this did mean that when we started my goals for the race had shifted a little from running well with a good time, to getting top 3. Basically meant I felt the toughest climb would be curtlestoen at the end, and I may need some buffer going up that, so I would probably go out fairly hard and back that my endurance would keep me going.
I started steady up the fire road, but did work a little hard, it wasn’t easy at least. Killian had gone, and mark was a little up the road, but I was in a small group with Barry Minnock, Ruairi Long and Tom from Tipp. We were fairly together starting the boardwalk, but it was a little steeper and I let them go a little, wasn’t a great sign, but all of a sudden I did feel like I was working. Still, as the boardwalk flattened, I was gaining back time, lost a little more climbing white hill, but gained a little coming off it.
All in all, I came to the start of the first real descent about 30s off Ruairi and Barry I’d guess, and a little more off Tom. I worked nicely along this single path and got Barry quickly, then Ruairi just as we got onto the grassy stuff, and Tom soon after.
I’d worked relatively hard, kept a bit in the legs, but could feel the legs working pretty hard. Got the climb done up from the Dargle, Ruairi had passed me again but the others I hadn’t seen. I caught Ruairi again towards the end of this lovely cliff path and we started working together on the fire road. We were tipping away nicely through here, but I was still trying to keep working because I felt these areas are my strong points I need to take advantage.
Came down into Crone with Ruairi in 3rd & 4th. Pretty happy but did also think I would rather have had a gap on him.
Took half my gel here. Coming down to the river was alright but Ruairi was moving a little better. After crossing the river I glanced around and saw we Barry & Tom working hard not far behind.
I felt myself starting to wane here, Ruairi started getting away, the others came by on once the climb started. I was struggling, but didn’t want to dig too deep either as there was still over 10k to go. I settled in and accepted the time-loss here, and with it, really the race for 3rd.
Kept moving as much as I could and when it flattened in glencree but I could tell I was still going slow. Passed a few of the ultra guys which helped at least.
Coming into curtlestown I took the remainder of my gel, and then took some of the Coke & water & jelly babies (mostly for the ultra runners but I appreciated it!).
Then set about climbing up. The gradient was much more manageable and I instantly felt a lot better, kept plugging away on up, passing ultras again which helped the head, but feeling relatively strong too. The fuel had helped.
Got to the top alright, and saw Dad & Sorcha up here too which was a nice encouragement.
I’d done most of the maths and figured I was pretty good for sub-2 which was nice. I had been worried my mini bonk in glencree had ended those hopes. Set off working down the hill, passing some ultras, and moving alright. Not as well as I’d like, but getting through.
About halfway down I heard someone behind and glance back, didn’t recognise the fella which kinda meant he had to be on the trail. Downhill is my thing, but this was just pure fire road down so I wasn’t getting any technical advantage and he had more left in the tank so he went by once we hit the bottom.
Kept working through to the line for 7th, and pretty happy to come in to 1hr56. The lads in 3rd / 4th / 5th had put a lot in to me and finished about 5mins ahead of me.
Then off for some barefoot pitches warm down, a few pints of plain in Johnny foxes, and a generally pleasant afternoon.
Overall, mostly positives I would say. I probably could have run a quicker time if I’d been conservative early on, but I wouldn’t have been 1:50, so I wouldn’t have been getting a top 3 anyway, so I don’t mind having put it out there to try.
I worked a bit hard on the descent and fire road from djouce to crone and could have done with a nice store of energy for glencree which is surprisingly tough.
But the climbing was pretty good for the most part. Especially early on I was up with guys I generally wouldn’t expect to be with.
Endurance was pretty solid. While I did have a mini-bonk I was still fairly fine through to 2hrs. I have been a bit short on long runs recently, and in particular some steadier ones I think would have had my legs a bit more able to take the battering on downhill fireroads without using so much energy.
Ultimately though, this was a fitness test and it’s a little bit of shame I haven’t got to run it before to compare against, but I think I’ve passed the test. It’s probably worth noting that Ruairi beat me by 7mins (62mins vs 69) in powerscourt ridge in November, so this is certainly much closer than that.