Monday, April 5, 2010

Ballybunion 10K

The late start of 2pm allowed for a more relaxing start to the day and I took the advantage of a lie in till just after 9 and went for an easy 20 min run in the rain before breakfast. Had my usual pre race meal of 2 cinnamon and raisin bagels, 500ml carb drink and 3 cups of strong coffee seeing as I had time to spare. Finished eating shortly before 12 and spent the next hour sipping on a 500ml bottle of Nuun. My race kit was sorted from the night before so all in all it was a hassle free way to prepare for the race.

Arrived in Ballybunion for 1.10 with my wife & kids and began my pre race warm up of 20 mins very easy running in the rain (hr below 130bpm) and met my family as planned 10 mins before the start. They took my track suit bottoms, rain jacket, hat & gloves and I spent the next few minutes running a few 50M sprints at my planned race pace to start elevating my heart rate and get the body warmed up for what was to come.
With 3 minutes to go I lined up on the start line of the combined10K and half Marathon field and when the gun went I took off with the lead pack. The race started faster than I would have liked but I knew there was a sharp turn less than 200M away and it was probably a good idea to get that out of the way fast and before a possible jam.
Less than 1K into the race we hit the first of many hills and the pace slowed from close to 5 min mile to a more sensible 6 min mile and I was then glad I made the effort at the start.
The 10K competitors were to turn back at 5K and retrace their steps while the half marathon runners would keep going to complete a loop. I was unaware of who was running what race but there was a definite leader about 5 or more metres ahead followed by a group of maybe 5 including me. I was feeling the pressure but held on with the group all the time looking forward to turning at the half way and heading for home thinking that the all the hills were against us on the way out.
As we reach the 5K mark there's no one turning and I shout at an official asking is this the turnaround? It was and all of a sudden I'm on my own. I could now see the numbers on the chests of runners coming towards me and the main pack of 10K competitors were less than 10 metres behind. I felt afraid and it was an 'oh shit' moment. Did I go out too fast? Will my legs buckle on the hills? Can I maintain the lead? I was on my own so it was hard to set a pace as I didn't have anyone to work with so I thought 'just give it what you've got'. Being in the lead also meant I was running against the flow of competitors running mid pack and they weren't expecting to see me so I spent some time dodging bodies and shouting for a clear way. Although this sounds like a problem it was great to run amongst the crowd and get so many shouts of encouragement except for one lady that I heard say 'jesus the poor lad is fecked' :)
As I passed the last of the competitors close to the 7K mark it became an effort yet again and I did something I try not to do which was look over my shoulder. In the distance I could see runners on my tail and although I had what looked like 100M or more of a lead it scared me. I dug deep and ran as best I could up the hill I was on which eventually levelled out at a T junction.  On the way out this was the end of our first big climb so I knew it was downhill from here.
This was the 8K mark and I picked up a Garda escort which was to lead me in towards the finish. Knowing that my family were waiting at the finish I upped the pace, running as relaxed and fast as I could just focusing on the finish line. I couldn't spit, had snot dripping from my nose and felt my throat getting blocked. Getting into the final 1K there was one last climb to the finish and I could see my family waiting and cheering me on. Even now I was expecting to be outsprinted at the line so I started my sprint finish a bit sooner than usual and then it was all over.
Finishing time 36min 36sec. Heart Rate average was 159bpm.
Back to the long slow runs next week and I can't wait.


  1. Way to go, John, what a fantastic run!

    I would have joined you but decided with a bleeding heart that running a race a week before the Connemara Ultra would have been incredibly stupid, even by my standards (not that I would have jeopardised your win - way out of my league) .

  2. It was probably a soft enough win for a 10K race but I'll take it. If I'd spotted you at the start line I might have been a bit more cautious and maybe we'd have fought for the finish.
    Good luck with Connemara.

  3. Great run John, and congrats on the win!

  4. Well done John, great run and excellent report. Incredibly low HR for the effort involved!