This post was going to be all about the Fingal 10k I ran in Swords last Sunday; and in a way it is. But there's a lot more to it than that. I'll backup a bit first...
Last year I was doing races about every 3-4 weeks and training a lot in between. This meant that I had an easy week just before a race and an easy week just after it to let my legs recover. Then I would get back to the "hard road" of training 70-80k a week. That worked fine and I got ever more comfortable at faster speeds, but I was mainly working on endurance, not speed. So my shorter races never got much faster, just easier (which sounds a bit strange).
Then I had an almost total break for 3 months (due to injury) and got back to it again in Feb this year. The first few weeks were really tough, especially when the realization of how my aerobic fitness had dropped sank in.
But I kept at it and told myself I would be mainly concentrating on 5k-10k races, with one half marathon (in September). I devised my own training programme and stuck to it, but allowed myself to take a day off if I felt that not running would be better than running when tired. That way I don't feel guilty about not doing an unproductive run.
My training has been going really well and I can honestly say I have lost count of the times I've broken a PB this year. (Some recent ones are listed at the bottom of this page)
And now, the bit you've been waiting for...the wheels fell off essentially. On the build up to the Fingal 10k, I had done 3 races (Dunshaughlin 10k, Irish Runner 8k and South O'Hanlon 5k - with a PB in each) and taken a week's family holiday in the south of Portugal in the previous 4 weeks! Those 3 races were within 11 days, so I wasn't getting much in the way of productive training in *and* recovery. Then during the trip to Portugal it was between 32-35 degrees every day, so any (short) runs I got were all pretty slow. Add in that I was drinking beer or wine every day on holiday, which I almost never do at home, means I was ill prepared.
So we flew back to Ireland on Thursday morning, I did a speed session that evening (I already knew my preparation wasn't up to it) and a cross training session on Friday. Saturday was a rest/family day with the race on Sunday.
I prepared as usual the night before the race and got all my kit ready, got a good night's sleep and got up at 7:30am to have my pre-race brekkie. All well so far. The family came along with me to this race, as the kids love the Pavillions shopping centre where we parked the car.
This was the second in the Dublin Marathon race series and I'd mentioned online that I would be running all four of the races in my VFFs. Time to put my feet where my mouth was! I did a little over 1k warmup and some dynamic stretching. There were only two waves for the start, sub 50mins and over 50mins. My PB going into it was 45-ish, so I hopped into the sub-50 wave. I met a few club mates before the start (and one during the race), so it was good to know I could compare notes with them after.
It was a warm day, about 18 degrees and very humid. When the race started, we headed out along the main street of Swords and onto the dual carriageway to loop back around the town and eventually back into the main street running down it the opposite direction.
The first 2k or so I was busy overtaking people and finding my rhythm, but I settled down after that. I usually go out too fast and then have to slow down, but this time I went at a comfortable pace but never seemed able to go much faster. I'm not sure if it was due to lack of longer runs, or speed work or just lack of quality training combined with the humidity on the day, but I just wasn't able to get into "the zone". There was a water station at about 5.5k (with cups, not bottles) and I already knew the race wasn't going well, so I took a cup of water and walked while I drank. I threw the reminder of the water over my head and got back running.
For the rest of the race I kept a steady pace, but never looked at my garmin unless it was to check the distance. The course was pretty hilly, which is a weak point with me, as where I live is pancake flat!
Here's another photo taken probably at the 7k mark
I met up with the family just after the finish line and my OH told me that the front runners had salt streaks on their faces from the sweat, which you wouldn't normally get in a race in Ireland!
Silver lining? Well I was looking back at my training plan and have decided not to take on any more races until the 16k in about 4 weeks. That should let me at least build up to where I was. After that there's another month to the Dublin HM, so no more races between those two either. And yes, I'll have to build up the time and distances in the VFFs for those too!