BHAA Government Services Five Mile (Dunboyne)

Posted: May 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

Two weeks after the Terenure 5 Mile, and as I found out to my horror only three weeks from Portumna 50k, I decided at short notice to do another five mile race. I’ve been struggling a bit to get out for consistent miles so thought I may as well sign up for a race after work, and at least that way I’d get a decent run in. And considerably harder than I’d be likely to run by myself. With that I signed up for the BHAA Government Services 5 Mile in Dunboyne, my first BHAA race of the year despite swearing after the K-Club 10k last year that I’d be back as soon as possible.

I was a little surprised driving up there when I started seeing handmade signs for race registration when I was just going past Blanchardstown. Irish geography, in fact geography of any kind, is really not my forte but I thought Dunboyne was in Meath, which was surely a little further up the road. I realised then it was more to do with the fact the urban sprawl of Blanchardstown has leaked practically right to the border than any ignorance on my part (well, maybe a little from column A, a little from column B). It turns out that Dunboyne is only a couple of minutes drive past Clonee where my good friend Pony (and his far better half Claire) live, something I knew despite my geographical ignorance and utter absence of sense of direction from driving Pony back out there on many, many occasions. Despite his proximity to the race, and my repeated attempts to contact him I couldn’t get in touch, which unfortunately means no pictures for this particular race report (nope, not taking any pictures of myself).

The advantage of the race’s proximity to my workplace meant that even with rubbish evening M50 traffic I was there well in advance of the start time so collected my number, went for a nice long warm up where I tried to replicate what I had done before Terenure, and then just waited for the off. It was a beautiful evening, very sunny and quite warm, and even though it was a little windy running down narrow country lanes we would end up being quite sheltered. The start line was on a road outside a housing estate where, as is the Irish way, everyone had been milling around, waiting until the last minute and then just jumping in rather than going to the back. Where I had thought I had a reasonable starting position – sufficiently back from the front that I wouldn’t impede any slower runners, not that far back that I spent the first portion of the race running through traffic – now I was suddenly surrounded by capri pants and iPhones in arm wallets. Sure enough when the signal was given to start there was a very slow, congested shuffle to the line and I spent the bulk of the first kilometre trying to run around people, which was a bit tricky considering how narrow the road was and the amount of people on it.

Once I finally did get moving properly I tried to settle into a rhythm. In Terenure I’d run a time of 34:50, which worked out at an average of 4:19/km, so my plan here was a first kilometre of 4:30/km just to ease into it, then try to get my average pace down to around 4:19/km and keep it there. Which I did, for about four kilometres. Everything was going great, beautiful conditions, nice flat country roads, feeling good, slowly but consistently moving up through the pack. I’d passed a lady who I heard say she was running at 7mins/mile or a little quicker so I just moved ahead of her and kept at that pace, knowing I didn’t need to go any quicker. Another lady I’d passed obviously didn’t like being passed so pushed back in front of me, and then stayed there, just in front of me for the duration.

At the three mile mark I was starting to struggle. Breathing was getting heavier, legs were feeling leaden, arms and torso were tightening up so the conversations started – slow down, pack it in, ease off, come on now, you know you can do this, you did this two weeks ago, yeah but you really wanted to crack 35 minutes then, you’ve done that, whats a few seconds here and there, etc etc. Its funny, you know you just did this, literally two weeks ago, yet there’s a part of you saying “nope, no chance, you’re not able for it”. You want to look at your watch, you want to see that its nearly over but you don’t want the crushing disappointment of seeing you’ve only covered 200m since the last time you looked at your watch, so I just kept focussing on the heels of the lady who’d passed me. She’d been very strong and consistent up until this point so I assumed she was going to keep the pace up all the way until the end. No more looking at my watch, just keep her heels the same distance ahead.

There were a few people now, all running around the same pace, all struggling a little bit, all fluctuating back and forth in position. At the four mile mark I was dropping back a bit, but then all of a sudden I could hear the finish line PA in the distance and my pace picked up a bit. I saw the half mile to go mark and was now moving a little better, gaining on those just in front of me. With the entrance to the club house visible just up ahead I resolved to make a final push, catching and then moving ahead of the small group just before we entered the Dunboyne AC gates. One last effort through the car park, almost there, thank God this was just about over when I saw a couple of stewards at the top of the car park where we entered on to the running track directing runners away from the finish line. What the hell? What’s going on? The realisation that we had to do 3/4s of a lap of the track hit me then and I just crumbled. The impending relief I’d been feeling at being almost finished, the knowledge that it was just about over and in a matter of seconds I’d be laid out on the grass with a feeling of satisfaction washing over me just evaporated instantly and instead I was left trudging miserably, shuffling disconsolately round the track while those people I’d worked so hard to pass not five hundred metres back just streamed past me, well into their finishing flurries.

Only when I got to almost the very end of the lap where I saw the clock and saw that I could still nip in under thirty five minutes did my spirits raise at all. In the end I managed it in 34:57 (gun time, it was 34:48 on my Garmin but it obviously took those few seconds to shuffle to the line from where I was) so almost identical to my Terenure time but  due to how I cocked up the end nowhere near as satisfying. Still, my original plan was to go out for roughly 12k, with 8 of those at pace, and have a few little triangle sandwiches and maybe some cake afterwards, and I managed to do all of those things so I suppose its mission accomplished.


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