I'd been building up to this since the 8k race last month, which was the first of three in the race series, preparing for the Dublin Marathon. As race day grew closer, things got busier. We had family staying with us and race day was also my son's fifth birthday.
My training was all going according to plan and my time trials were going really well, coming in under the goal times each time. I was due to do a 5k time trial the week before the race, but I was having a bit of ankle trouble and took two days off running. On the day of the time trial I decided it would be best long term if I did a relaxed run, which I did. This made it a bit more tricky to predict my time in the 16k race accurately.
Two days before the race, I emailed a friend in Australia who is highly knowledgeable in coaching and marathon running and he said that without having done the 5k he wasn't sure. I said I'd like to get sub-85mins, but hopefully closer to 80mins.
The day before the race (Friday) the wind was howling and it rained on and off. Not good race weather! Then on the morning of the race the skies cleared and the wind all but stopped, it was as if it had been ordered especially for us. I got to Pheonix Park at about 9:10, with the race starting at 10:00, so plenty of time. I was going to bring my Nathan hand held but in my haste to get out the door I forgot it. As it turns out I was fine without it. I jogged over to the start area and got straight in the portaloo queue, which was massive and barely moving. An official came over and told us over a mega phone that there was 5mins to go before the start, but there was still 3 people in front of me in the queue.
By the time I got to the start line for wave 1 the race announcer said there was 5mins to go, apparently the start time got delayed for some reason - just as well. Just before the start I took a chance and set my Garmin for a "quick workout" - 16k in 85mins. I then switched the screen to the Virtual Training Partner, which I have never, ever used before. If it didn't work well I could just scroll down to the next screen which is my usual stats.
Pretty soon we were off and the large crowd (over 6,800) were bustling through the park's narrow roads and around the corners and roundabouts. I decided not to let my pace bother me for the first 2-3k, as the crowd would be an issue. After that I started to push myself to just over a 5:00/k pace and held it there. First water station at 4k, then some uphills with S bends. The side wind on Chesterfield was a welcome relief from the heat and lack of wind in other parts and pretty soon it was on to the second lap. I felt strong and took my only gel at around the 9k mark. I didn't scroll away from the Training Partner screen once during the race and it really helped me not do the mental maths that I always over-think during races.
Pushing up the last hill I still felt good so I kept the pace up. At the top there was about 600-700m left and I gave it everything.
I crossed the line at 1:21:23, well under my 85mins estimation and goal. I am now thinking, "What if I had set the garmin to 80mins instead of 85..."
Anyway, I'm delighted with the time I got and am now looking forward to the third in the race series next month, the Dublin Half Marathon...