Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dingle Half Marathon

The Dingle Half Marathon has come and gone and although I was disappointed over having to switch from the Full to Half Marathon I was never as happy to see a finish line as I was on Saturday. As prescribed by my Sports Doctor (Nick Mahony) I let my heart rate dictate the effort rather than running at a set pace as I would if chasing a time. The plan was to keep my HR between 153-162bpm (85-90% of HR max) and apart from a short spike to 172bpm during the sprint finish I managed to stay within my zone, slowing on the hills and picking it up on the flat and downhill.

I arrived in Kerry 2 days before the race and and felt a lot more relaxed than I usually would so close to a race and I'm guessing it's because I wasn't chasing a PB (Personal Best) and was running according to how I was feeling and keeping an eye on my rev counter (HR monitor) rather than worrying about staying on pace. It was nice being able to slow on the hills to stay in the zone rather than pushing harder trying not to lose valuable seconds and trying to recalculate how to make up lost time.

Minutes before the race started I lined up in the Sub 3hr Full / Sub 1:30 Half Marathon Pen which seemed to be extra quiet. It was strange not having to fight for a good starting position and it was hard to believe that there were 2000 competitors lined up mostly behind me. I met briefly with Thomas Bubendorfer which was slightly pre planned and I had originally planned on running with Thomas as we were both running similar times and I'm guessing our pace would be more or less the same. Moments later the gun went off and we parted company as the Half Marathon pace is slightly faster than Marathon pace and before mile 1 I was on my own. I was constantly checking my HR monitor to ensure I was staying in my zone and passed the first mile in 6:10 with my HR staying below 158. A good start but I wasn't sure if I had the leg strength to maintain that pace because of my recent unplanned break from training.

The course was very undulating and it wasn't long before my pace was dropping which I knew because I was checking the lap times on my watch but today pace didn't matter and it was almost enjoyable knowing that although I was taking it somewhat easier I was still working as planned.

My HR rarely went above 164bpm and when it did I quickly got it back into the zone. Approaching the village of Dunquin I could see the long line of busses to bring us back into town so I knew it was almost over. Based on my previous splits I knew my mile time was under 7 minutes so 3 minutes after passing mile 12 I upped the pace. My sprint finish is usually around 400M but I felt good and could see 2 other runners up ahead so thought why not?

I made up 2 places with my sprint and crossed the finish line in 1hr27min57, I had just made it inside the top 10 finishing in 9th place out of 1600 competitors. A good day with a good result and although I didn't achieve a new PB (Personal Best) I was happy that I had the discipline to run as prescribed.


  1. Hi John, nice meeting you at the start, if only for a short time. Sounds you had a pretty good race, even if you had your handbrake on all the time. The marathon will still be there next year, you know.

  2. From what I hear you did very well to discipline yourself to staying within the prescribed HR zone, especially on such a hilly and undulating course. Sounds as though it is an event that will increase in popularity, an autumn version of spring's Connemarathon.