Monday, January 17, 2011

Waterford Half Marathon

This race was originally meant to be held on Dec 18th, but had to be postponed until Jan 15th due to snow & ice on the roads where we would be running. I booked a hotel and took Friday off (race on Sat). It only took us 2:15 to drive down thanks to the new M9 motorway. That meant the kids were still pretty happy and not too bored by the time we got there, but we didn't see any of the coast or towns on the way. Friday we took it easy and walked around the city looking at the shops. I bought a pair of base layer thermal gloves in a shop specifically for the run.
They are great and really light to carry. Also, I can tuck them into the zipped pocket on my Nathan hand held, pretty cool!
Anyway, we had an excellent dinner that night in the hotel and I even had a couple of glasses of wine. Well the race wasn't due to start until 12 noon :-)
We decided we should all get an early night and the next morning we went down to breakfast. I was wondering what would be available, as I'm quite picky about my food, especially pre-race. I normally have porridge, but none was available, so I had three Weetabix instead. Then I had a look at the hot food counter, but it was all fried/grilled and I thought it would leave me feeling a bit heavy. So I had a large bowl of grapefruit pieces, a few glasses of orange juice and some tea. My wife gave me a lift to the RSC (Regional Sports Centre) where the bib collection was and she then left with the kids to keep them entertained. It was already raining and windy, so we didn't want them standing around too long. I got my bib with built in chip timer and headed down to the large changing room. We were able to leave our bags there, so that was great. I was going to wear a baseball cap to keep the rain out of my eyes and wandered out with it on and then went back inside and put on my fleece hat, a lot warmer! I had my protein bar and waited indoors with the rest. At 11:50 we all walked/jogged to the start line. We had to wait at the side of the road until the roads were closed. There were some pacers (2:00, 1:50, 1:40) and I wasn't sure which to follow, but ended up doing my own thing. I never saw an actual "start line", so I think the chip timing started when the gun went off. I started the Garmin and jogged away with the crowd. It took a couple of kms until the crowd had thinned and I could keep a nice pace, but even by the 2k mark, some people were already walking.
As we turned to go out the main Waterford to Cork road the wind hit us head on and didn't stop until we got to 11k. I decided early on that I would take it easy for the first half, so I just tucked in behind other runners and let them take the brunt of the wind and rain. Sometimes they would tire and I would overtake them and tuck in behind someone else. I noticed a few people running in close behind me too!
There were three aid stations on the route handing out 250ml water bottles, already opened, and that was a real help. I carried my hand held the whole race as I tend to carry it in training too. By the 9k mark the road was a bit more exposed and the rain was pushing straight into us with the gusts of wind really slowing us down. We were all delighted to get to the turn point!
At this stage I had been going at between 5:20 to 5:40min/k, but I brought it up to about 5:10 to 5:20 from here. The run back was actually enjoyable, chatting with others and sharing wine gums. I took two endurolytes before the start and two more with a gel at about 50mins. On the return leg the runners had thinned to single file and with a lot of gaps - the weather had been taking it's toll. I was overtaking a lot of people now and kept the pace up. With about 3k to go I started getting a tendon pain in the front of my shin, just above my ankle. I had a clear excuse to stop and walk...but I kept going and didn't slow my pace. I knew that no matter what I was going to be sore, so I decided that I wanted to run the race to the end. With about 1.5k left I pushed the pace again (now sub 5min/k) and seeing the RSC was a delight! I went around the last roundabout and a volunteer shouted out that there was "only 300 yards left". The figure didn't register at all for some reason. We then had to run through the entrance gate and around 200m of the all weather track to the finish line. By this time I was giving it every ounce of energy I could and was going sub 4min/k, but I don't know exactly what the pace was. I was hurting though! The small crowd that had gathered was cheering us all on in the rain and going over the line and walking was such a welcome relief! I stopped my Garmin and saw that I had got 1:51:42, shortly after (a good 20sec after crossing the line) my bib number (with timing chip) was scanned and recorded. I knew then that my official time would be a lot slower. I returned the bib and got a water bottle and banana handed to me along with a goodie bag. No finisher's medals or t-shirts for this one.

I took two more endurolytes and a gel at about 18k and two more endurolytes after the finish. I went inside, got a free cup of tea and had my protein drink. Sitting down was heaven!
After drying off, wringing out my clothes and getting changed, I met my family and we headed back to the hotel. I had a bath and shower and then brought the kids swimming. I tried doing a few lengths of the pool but my leg was too sore. Even today (Monday) I can't walk properly, but I'm using anti-inflammatory gel and resting as much as I can. I'll be fine in a day or so, and then it'll be back to training.

Keep running,
Eoin

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