Great Limerick Run Half Marathon Report
Aha revenge on the DNF, it feels good
The DNF from last year was a sore point, particularly as it sat literally on my doorstep. I had no intention of silly marathons again this year so I picked the half marathon for some revenge and claimed it.
I awoke to a text from Hunnymonster who was outside my place curb crawling in search of her race number. I pedalled beside her down to the start of the marathon shooting the breeze as RedB would say. I found it rather comforting that even Hunnymonster finds the balance of training and parenting a challenge in itself
There were some familiar faces gearing up for the 26.2 so I offered some motivation before pedalling back home to psyche myself up for the half marathon. 2 hours later I was loitering about bouncing my nervous energy off a rather relaxed RedB and Co. As a large crowd meandered over to the start line I joined the slowest portaloo queue in the world and danced about behind a line of walkers in frustration. I ended up scrambling up the footpath beside the park, flanking the mob to get to the front of the line just in time. I ended up in a great position, second row back and beside the corner we were starting on as the final seconds counted down.
The front row tore off up the initial hill and I followed suit. Way too fast. Everyone in front of me was whippet like and we were at 3:30/km so I backed off a bit. The 2 lead ladies came past with some lads on their shoulders for company. It felt more like the start of a 10k than a half marathon. My support was at the top of the hill yelling too which didn't help to rein the pace back. By the time we hit the first mile marker (which was late) I sort of settled to run with a guy in a red tee. The pace was still 3:45/km though and too hot for me. I thought about the fact that I had another 12 miles to go. I glanced behind however to see that there was a gap back to the next group. I didn’t fancy running alone so I stuck with the red tee for company. As the markers were in miles I had established a 6:20 target pace with a worst case scenario of 6:30 pace (that would sneak a pb).
Most of the first few miles are dragging and my heart rate was spending too much time in the low to mid 170s. I couldn’t sustain this. We hit mile 5 in a shade under 31 minutes and I decided to let the red tee go. I only had to back off a fraction to get my heart rate back under 170. We were running downhill after Raheen Church when I was first passed. I was still with the guy running up the short steep hill by the crescent but again I let him go as he was dragging me into the red zone. I had taken a gel at the water station at mile 5 but maybe didn’t drink enough water with it. I felt a bit gooey and was glad for the water at the school at mile 7. I was grateful for the water being provided in bottles too.
The first doubt crept in at mile 8. I was still holding 6:20/mile pace but working pretty hard for it at this stage. I passed some friends with Caz and my Mum with her dog which gave me a lift. I had to shout at walkers at times as they blocked the narrow route and I got rather annoyed with people with earphones, oblivious to what was going on. The noise level increased when we hit town and It was great to have your name on your bib as your name gets called out at every corner. I was passed by another runner on Sarsfield Bridge and he offered some encouragement. I ran with him down to the treaty stone but let him go up the hill alone. I had to focus on my own thing. Miles 9-10 were a bit of a struggled with motivation. I hit 10 miles (marker again late) in 63 and change and asked myself whether I was going to succumb to the pain or embrace it. I figured I just had to run a 20 minute 5k, how hard could it be? I chose to embrace it and chased the runners who had passed me.
I was moving nicely again until I hit the long drag passed the Gaelic Grounds. I had run this route several times in training and this helped a lot here. I felt as though I was struggling badly but I wasn’t losing ground to the 2 guys who passed me. They must have been hurting as much! The watch beeped with my slowest split so far and I had illusions of me battling to get home in with my 1:25:58 pb ebbing away. I even mistook the green stability treaty posters for the 11 mile marker. Another runner from Eagle AC passed me here. It was hard to tell if I was making up any places though as there were marathoners’ zig zagging about the road. By the time we rounded Nessans School and claimed the 12 mile mark I had my breath back and knew I would get home with a pb. I just had to hold it together for another 8 minutes. I worked hard. My old Rowing Coach passed me on a bike and gave me a high five that nearly knocked me to the ground but I had some determination going now. With a half mile to go I knew I was on for a decent pb. My left quad and right calf were starting to cramp but I didn’t care. When I hit the bridge again I mentally discarded my DNF into the river and opened my legs to the finish. It wasn’t the best run as I had gone out too hard and was cramping up for a finish but I crossed the line in 1:23:40 with a 2 minute PB and I was chuffed with that. Last year I walked away sulking with my head down. This time I treated myself to a rub down, a foil blanket, some grub and savoured the atmosphere rather proudly
Turned out I bagged top 20 too whch was a bonus. Job Done!