19th January 2014 – IMRA Race 1 – Howth

Posted: January 20, 2014 in 2014, Races 2014
Tags: , , , , ,

Fail to prepare…..

The Dynamic Duo - And Me

The Dynamic Duo – And Me


……. Prepare to have a physically taxing, mentally draining and emotionally unfulfilling race. It really wasn’t supposed to be like this, as I said training has been going reasonably well and I thought I could feel myself getting a bit fitter (and lighter). However, this week, for no apparent reason, I managed only one of the three training sessions I had planned and then ate like crap on Friday night.

Saturday night I knew might have been a bit tricky as I was staying up in a friend’s house but it ended up veering from ‘tricky’ to ‘stupid’ as it involved some very late beer, pizza and a 03:30 bed time. I drove out to Howth tired, groggy and feeling like I had a compacted colon. At least Howth was, to quote myself, “mostly flat, with just the one hill in the middle of it” which suggests that I’m either showing signs of the early onset of Alzheimer’s or I don’t read my own race reports as having done it in 2012 I really should know better. Based on that and my assertion that Valentia would be a good sprint triathlon to start with (huge waves, swim cancelled to due to danger to competitors, huge hills to run/cycle) I fear that my good friend and neighbour Benny, who also ran Howth, may never listen to me again.



Anyway, we had a beautiful morning for the race in Howth, and huge crowds too for the first IMRA race of the season. Despite the IMRA volunteers’ best efforts everyone had turned up to register about ten minutes before the race was due to start so naturally there were some delays. A huge crowd of almost three hundred got underway  and immediately I felt I was going backwards. You know the feeling you get on a bike when you start to tire and you keep checking to see whether all the air has mysteriously disappeared from your tyres? Well I felt like someone had let the air out of my (metaphorical) tyres right from the off.

Slow and sodden, legs and chest burning, I was delighted to see the first bottle neck and a chance to get my breath back. A little climb and descent later and it was on to the forest section where there was an unusual amount of whooping and hollering going on. Apparently there was a tour of American students passing through the area at the time, who were just as surprised to see a horde of fluoro clad runners careering through the undergrowth as we were to have our very own cheerleaders.

Nearly there

Nearly there

More climbing, more descending, thankfully more bottle necks and more and more people coming past me. My chest kept burning, my stomach was now churning and I really wasn’t having a good day in the office. I tried to think positive thoughts but I’m not quite so skilled in that particular arena that I can just turn it on and off like that. Thankfully after only a little bit more climbing and descending the finish line, or at least the approach to the football pitch which meant the finish line would be coming shortly after that, hoved into sight. More trudging and slow motion churning through mud later I was across the line and walking off into the distance, desperately trying to introduce some order to my breathing and heaving before I had to go and speak to anyone.


Result – 36:40 and a horrendous 180th place (Benny did 27:30, I think, and a fantastic 30th).


Lessons learned (or at least noted):

  1. Rest well for races. I’ve gotten so blasé about this and hardly ever get a good night’s sleep before races or long runs any more and invariably either don’t do well or don’t do them at all. Cop on, get some sleep.
  2. Hydrate well for races. This was only a short race, less than 6 km, and there’d be no need for water on the course. However, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t stay hydrated the day before, or indeed every day. Not sure that dessicated muscles operate optimally.
  3. Fuel well for races. Beer, late night pizza and then a cappuccino and ‘Very Berry’ muffin for breakfast. Yeah…….
  4. Specificity. Specificity. Specificity. The last time I did this race I was doing the majority of my running in Moore Abbey woods (by Kildare standards hilly) and one night a week in Tramore (by all but mountain dweller’s standards, hilly). This time round pretty much all my training has been on flat roads. And it showed.

The next IMRA race is in two weeks’ time, in Ticknock, so a lot of work to be done before then. Before that though I have the John Tracey 10 Mile in Dungarvan next Sunday. And a lot of work to be done in general.


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