Monday, 14 December 2009

Race 5 Winter Series (12.68km)

Race 5 Rostrevor Day Race 12.68km
Saturday 12th December

Every race of the series so far has been blessed with good weather. Today’s race was no exception . Clear skies and a very bright sun low in the sky a cold day but a nice cold. Another perfect day for running. Rowan and Ian must be doing the good weather dance on Friday nights before the races. Another good turn out with competitors for all parts of the country.

Just after 2pm we lined up on the familiar green of kilbroney forest park. Rowan give us the usual race briefing and we were ready to go. A slight change to previous races on reaching the caravan park we took the lower path down through the trees and onto the lower forest road. This was a road I knew from the mtb downhill champs course. Hills and plenty of them. The route would follow the old Ulster way on the edge of the forest. Legs feeling good and good banter from competitors on the hills. As I complained about hating hills I was told “You love the hills that’s why your here” A point I think was very true. I do love this type of race and with climbing they say there is always a reward. I would later find out the reward was worth the climbs. The path started to level out with a few downhill parts. My arm warmers had done there job and as I was well warmed I took them off and opened the jersey to try cool down a bit. I knew for every part we went downhill this was adding to the distance we were going to have to climb. As we crossed a bridge Rowan the Paparazzi popped out of the trees with a camera. “Get the head down and get up that hill” he shouted. This was the start of a big climb. I shortened the stride and leaned into the hill and tried to keep moving. The hill just seemed to go on and on and a few times the run turned into a walk. Around another corner and still no let up. On looking back down through the trees you could see the valley we had just run along and we had climbed quite a bit. Another corner but finally a down hill section.
I picked up the pace and could see the river crossing in front. I knew if I took a big enough stride two steps would have me through it. The water in yellow water river was ankle deep. As I jumped across I got a good footing and my feet didn’t seem to take in too much water. The water proof socks helped keep the feet dry and warm. After the river there was another climb not too long but got the heart racing again. Through the trees and onto the single track trail that would lead us onto kilbroney red bog. A part of kilbroney/Rostrevor forest I had never seen before. With the sun in front at eye level it seemed to light up the small lake to our left. We ran along a raised turf bank along the side of the lake. A peaceful and tranquil setting if not for us ploughing through the middle of it. The path was very mucky with holes and deep puddles. Using the banks of the bog I managed to hop from side to side staying out of the puddles. As the sun was so low in the sky it was hard to see the trail at times. This caught me out on a section where I didnt see a hole. I managed to get my foot in the hole and took a tumble. Slight forward roll and up I got in one movement. Coming into the trees again the path seemed to get worse. Because there was no raised sections we had to go straight through the mucky puddles. With low hanging branches from the fir trees, jumps, puddles etc this turned into what felt like an obstacle course. I was LOVING IT and had forgotten about the pain from the climb. Bridges made from railway sleepers crossed the bog drains. One runner took a fall on a raised bridge section just in front of me I helped him up and we both continued. Some older sections had gaps were bridges once stood. We had to take a big jump or a drop down into the drain. My long legs took me over all these with no difficulty. As the trees opened I could see the forest road and this would mean the end of the bog trail. I asked if the guy was o.k. and he was running fine so I continued on. The briefing we were told the last 4km was all downhill. I opened up the pace and got into a fast run. Gravity and long strides were taking me down the hill pretty fast. It was hard to get a happy medium but I seemed to keep going hard. We reached the road we ran on the outward journey. It was back on familiar grounds and I continued pushing hard back down through the caravan park. Last push down the green and across the finish line.

01:05:19 was my official time for the 12.68km and placed me 29th We were offered mulled wine on the finish line. I passed on the mulled wine in favor of a few cups of water. Soup at the Kilbroney Bar was a nice finish to the day. Another first class event from 26extreme. Great route and great after race refreshments. The highlight of the race for me was the kilbroney Red bog trail. 5 Races down 5 to go and now a break for Christmas. Thanks to Rowan and Ian and all the helpers at 26extreme. A great first half to the series. Hope you all have a great Christmas. See you in the new year.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

NI Athletics Seeley Cup 10k - 00:41:45

Willowfield Harriers hosted the Joe Seeley Cup 2009. This race is a 10k circuit which laps Ormeau park 3.5 times. The race started on ormeau embankment with a record for entries. I got into the pack and when the whistle blew for the start we took off.

A tight pack of runners jostling for position. Bumping and side stepping ensued until the pack spread out. There is always a few who don’t listen to the advice of keeping the start clear for faster runners. I don’t understand why people want to get to the front to then keep people back by running slowly. Belfast Marathon was the same with walkers stuck at the front with runners having to sidestep to avoid them causing a chain reaction down the pack. I wasn’t running for a win but it is still annoying when your rhythm is upset by some idiot who gets in the way. (And breathe rant over!)

We ran along the embankment towards the Ormeau bridge turning left back into the park. I was made aware of a bollard on this corner before the race. It was right in the middle of the path on a blind corner. I missed it but the guy in front took a knock to the knee trying to avoid it. There was a slight up hill section through the park. Nothing more than a bump really but got tougher as the race went on. The path then flattened out before a slight downhill to the corner gates that lead back onto the embankment. Turning left we now had a 1.5km flat road run along the embankment from Ravenhill road to the ormeau bridge. As we got back onto this section you could feel the pack was opening up a bit. Passing the gates to the Ozone leisure centre and crossing the mats for 1 lap complete.

I had more space to run and was feeling really comfortable. Breathing was o.k. and the legs were feeling good. I don’t run to a watch and normally let my body determine the pace I run. I wanted to push myself on this race to get an official 10k time. Keeping this in mind I didn’t want to burn myself out with pushing too hard.

On the second lap I got caught up in a bit of a push for position. I lost concentration on my own running and got into a battle with a group of 5 runners. We exchanged places several times with one guy coming to the front and seeming to slow down. This really got to me and when he cut across in front of me when I tried to pass that was the final straw. I cut back to the outside and took off past him. I could hear someone coming with me and it helped me keep a fast pace along the embankment. I really pushed to get away from this guy. Turning left into the park I had a look back to see none of the original group anywhere near me. On the park section I started to feel bad. Why did I just push so hard to get away from someone? Why was I worried about someone around me? Why was I not concentrating on my own race? These where the things going through my head. Then I it clicked this is a race. Yes I am only trying to get a time for me but in doing so I might have to use others to get me around. These thoughts were like a switch flipped from the sore chest to feeling comfortable again. I kept to a steady pace which I felt I could continue to the end. The last lap was a comfortable one with me lifting the pace anytime I was conscious of me tiring and slowing. Into the park again and as it was the last time I would be on the hill (Bump) I thought it rude not to attack it. I knew there wasn’t far to go and pushed hard picking up a few places. I crossed the line with mixed feelings. From I am feeling o.k. why didn’t I push harder? To thank god that is finished. To I nearly blew up on lap two what was all that about? Then I just took a deep breath and thought mission accomplished my first proper 10k race. I was happy to finish so strong and can use this race to help in the future.

Split times
3k - 00:12:23
5k - 00:20:36

Official race time 10k - 00:41:45