Friday, 26 November 2010

Race 4 Winter series (10km)

Race 4 Tollymore 10km
Thursday 25th November

While out on the bike on Sunday I had a bit of a coming together with a pavement. I landed heavily on my hip. It was inevitable it would be the same side I injured in a motorbike crash in May. I took a light jog at lunch time on Wednesday to see if I was o.k. to run on Thursday night. Running on the roads at a slow pace my leg felt o.k. Sore afterwards but I didn’t feel it was too bad to miss race 4.

I arrived early and had a “warm up” It was difficult in the cold evening to get anywhere near warm. Conditions were windy, rain and temperatures dropping down to near freezing. It did stop raining during the race and when we got moving it was a lovely night for a run. Event HQ was set up on the green below the main car park. The music was playing as the 54 competitors warmed up on the tracks and the green at the HQ. Race briefing from Ian was short and to the point as he didn’t want to keep us hanging about in the cold. 2 laps on fire roads with one big climb up a grassy hill just before the finish line.

I started well and despite a slight pain in my hip I felt I was o.k. That was until I had past the Mountain centre and started to descend. The pressure on the hip at race pace was just too much. With every stride I could feel it getting worse. After Parnell Bridge I slowed a lot. Trying to vary the way I landed on the left side. Nothing seemed to ease the pain and I took the decision to pull up after one lap. I have other races coming up soon and want to fully recover rather than do permanent damage.

The course was brilliant and I was very disappointed not to be able to continue. The section along the river was tight and twisty. The fire roads were solid and easy under foot. The grassy hill was steep and soft under foot but not to long. Some seemed to take it in their stride while others slowed to a crawl tackling this section.

Another trio from Newcastle AC took to the podium with 1st Deon McNeilly, 2nd Eamon McCrickard and 3rd Brendan Quail. Well done to them and all who took part.

Next race is a return to Castlewellan for a similar loop around the Lake course. Thursday 2nd December.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Race 3 Winter Series (10km)

Race 3 Castlewellan 10km
Thursday 18th November

The weather has been terrible over the last few days. It had been raining most of the day but thankfully the afternoon had started to dry up. The drive to Castlewellan was a nightmare. Motorway traffic jams out of Belfast then drivers deciding to brake at every puddle. Despite the drive I got there at 6:30pm early enough to get a good warm up and a chat to Rowan and Ian.

There were some new faces and first timers. Questions being asked about the route, if there was any hills etc. The buzz of excitement was building around the lake car park as the start loomed closer. 26Extreme DJ was on hand with music that made the warm up area look and sound more like a disco with people bouncing to the beat. The music seemed to make people a lot more relaxed. There were so many smiling faces for a cold November Night. We got a race briefing from Ian and headed for the start line.

We lined up with our backs to the castle for the start. We would be running clockwise around the lake. It was a fairly flat course with one climb at the far end of the lake. The trail surface at the start was smooth gravel. This was very wet with puddles all along the lake side. The start was fast and a big group at the front kept the pace quick along the flat trail on the banks of the lake. I decided to run things different in this race. I would start middle of the group and hope to pick up positions rather than loose them in the second lap. I quickly got into a good rhythm speed and breathing seemed good. At the end of the lake the path lead onto fire road and we started to climb. As we turned right it got a bit steeper. I think it felt steeper because the surface was very soft. The fire road had a new surface of gravel. The heavy rain had pushed the gravel to the right side with the water running down the left. The left was a harder surface but this meant getting the feet even wetter. The right was energy sapping and after twice turning on my ankle I decided to run on the left. The climb wasn’t to long and once at the top there was a descent that had to be taken with caution. The heavy wind had branches and leaves on the fire road this coupled with the wet weather made the surface very soft and slippery. The run along this side of the lake seemed to pass quickly. I was in a group of about 7 along this side. The pace kept high with everyone running well and jockeying for position. We left the fire road and onto a tarmac path to cross the line 1 lap completed 00:22:29

I was feeling good going into the second lap and picked up the pace. I passed a few runners along this section giving me a boost. This was definitely a better feeling than getting passed when I was tiring. On the first part of the hill I seemed to fly passed one guy. “keep er lit” he shouted, which I did. I rounded the corner staying to the left of the fire road and up the harder wetter side. I was going well but could feel I was slowing. At the top I felt I had gone as quickly as I had the first lap which was encouraging rather than loosing too much time on the hill. As I tried to get the breathing calmed again after the hill I heard a runner catch up with me. “Not far to go keep it going, your doing well” he said. Not far to go is a great sound to hear when running. I was aware of more runners not to far behind me and my goal was to finish in front of them all. I didn’t want anyone passing me. I picked up the pace again and pushed hard along the lake. When we joined the tarmac path I give it one last push crossing the line and completing this lap 00:23:05

I finished in 32nd with an overall time of 00:45:34
Another great run with 68 competitors taking part. Thanks again to Rowan and Ian @26extreme, Champion Chip Ireland timing, all the helpers and the DJ for lifting the spirits at the warm up are. It’s wonderful what a bit of loud music can do for the mood.

See you all in Tollymore for Race 4 Thursday 25th November

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Race 1 Winter Series (10km)

Race 1 Stormont 10km
Thursday 4th November

I arrived at the already very busy car park at 7pm. There was a great atmosphere and a lot of new faces from last years series. The 26extreme team had everything set up and ready. The event HQ was a big tent with all the usual suspects making registration a fast process. I got my chip and number and headed off for a warm up. Thankfully the rain had stopped and it was a really mild night. When I finished my warm up I went to hear the race briefing.
Ian welcomed everyone to the 2nd 26extreme Winter Series Race 1. He told us the course which was a clockwise lap of the trails around stormont estate. The loop was 5km and we would do this twice. The trails were mainly hard packed gravel through trees with one section on the tarmac road running down the hill. Ian let us know there would be marshals on hand but all junctions would be tapped of and to just stick to the paths. We gathered at the start line and the race was underway.

I was around the front and sat with the lead group as we left the start line. We crossed the road at the main gates to stormont and into the trees at the other side. The trail was very wet with puddles dotted around the flatter sections. The trail surface was hard packed gravel with only a few soft sections where water had been laying. This section was proper dark but everyone’s head torches lit the place up well. The trail took us along the left side of the grounds climbing all the time. There was a few sharp hills along this side and it had already started to open the pack. I eased up a bit because all the advice I had given others about not getting caught up in the fast pace at the start had only hit home to myself. I was doing just that looking at the front runners pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I started to run my own race and let the lead group go. Lets be honest I was never going to sit with them for the race let alone this lap. Crossing the road at the side entrance we rejoined the trail and headed up to the top bridge. Finally a good descent to get the breathing back and try and open the legs up a bit. We followed the trail down to the road turning left onto the tarmac. Rowan from 26extreme was out on the course giving everyone a cheer at this point. There was a short climb to the roundabout then a right turn and down the main road. UBERDOG magazine was on hand with some words of encouragement and also taking photos of us as we passed. A wave to the legend that is Robert from Uberdog and down the hill I went. The pace picked up again on the down hill. Good light and the descent made this section fast for most. We crossed the road and joined the trail again heading into the right of the grounds. This took us out along side the football pitches and back through another dark wooded section to the start finish. 1 Lap complete 00:20:59mins.

Ian from 26extreme was also cheering everyone at the halfway point and taking photos as we passed the chip timing station. I got a few words of encouragement from a mate who had come down to see the race which helped me pick up the pace again. I pushed on feeling o.k. apart from my breathing. My legs felt o.k. and I didn’t feel tired at this point. The hill this time did feel a lot longer. I knew I wasn’t as quick as I had done the first lap but I didn’t want to ease up. The closer to the top of the hill I could hear a few people catch me as I had slowed right down. Rounding the bridge for the second time I knew I had to make up some lost ground. I got my head back sucking in as much air as I could and took off down the hill. I had my eyes closed as the light from the head torch reflected off the moisture from my breath making it really hard to see. I knew the path was straight and just kept going taking the odd look to see if I was still on course. Thankfully I was o.k. coming out of the trees and onto the road section. I passed a few people that had passed me on the climb and kept a steady pace going into the last wooded section. There was a few more in my sights and I tried to push on to get passed them before the trail narrowed. Some I got passed some I didn’t as everyone was pushing for the line. Rounding the last corner three abreast we took off for the line. One passed me and I managed to stay ahead of the other guy. Second lap was a much slower 00:23:35mins with a total time of 00:44:34mins. A fair bit of my PB for 10km but a tougher course than I had anticipated.

Thanks to Rowan and Ian at 26extreme for another excellent event. The new course was good and as always the organisation was top class. Thanks also to Surf Mountain for the discount vouchers and also Uberdog Magazine for covering the event and for supplying the photos above.

Next round is Thursday 11th November in Killbroney forest park, Rostrevor.