Archive for the ‘Races 2011’ Category

Run the Gauntlet – 20/11/11

Posted: January 8, 2012 in Races 2011

A group of about one hundred and fifty runners, including some every serious looking Italian mountain runner dudes, found themselves on a very narrow mountain road in the middle of nowhere in Kerry yesterday gearing up to run ‘The Gauntlet’. The organisers had billed this as Ireland’s toughest half marathon due to the elevation changes on the course. After about two miles there’s a pretty steep climb of about two hundred metres on a very narrow road cutting between two mountains, then a long descent of about four hundred metres. The initial climb seemed to catch some people unaware as even some people in the leading group, which I’d just about managed to latch on to the very back of, ground to a halt and walked bits of it.

Thankfully the first aid station was at the top of the climb and it was really well stocked – water, isotonic drinks, gels, power bars, flapjacks, everything. A quick glug of some pissy looking liquid and I was off on the descent, roughly four miles of damp, rutted lane with lots of hairpin bends and switchbacks along the way. I tried to get some time in the bank for later by getting down this section as fast as I could, it doesn’t require a whole lot of energy anyway so I just let gravity do it’s work.

I got down the (almost) flat section at the bottom before seeing the leader coming back past me which reminded me of the horrible fact that I’d put out of my mind while I was flying downhill – the race was a there and back jobbie so we were going to have to turn around at the bottom and go all the way back up. I’d been hoping to maybe make it in under two hours but once I made it to the halfway point at the bottom in 53 minutes I amended my target and set myself a new goal of beating my half marathon PB of 1:53:15.

The uphill section was bloody tough, four miles of a relentless climb, but I just kept grinding and trying not to lose too much time. I made it to the aid station at the top at 1:23 which gave me half an hour to do just over four miles. That’s well outside my normal pace but I hoped the 200 metre descent in it would be enough to get me home in time. Every time we got to a little downhill section I’d hammer it as fast as my burning feet would allow me, then try to maintain the momentum as long as I could on the flat but with about two km to go I almost ground to a halt.

I was completely knackered and almost moving at walking pace but I still had fifteen minutes before the two hour mark so I was really tempted to just trundle along and make that. Thankfully I decided to stop being a massive pussy and pushed as hard as I could for the last 2k, got to about five hundred metres to go and knew I could do it with a sprint finish and managed to cross the line in 1:52:57. I was absolutely bollocksed afterwards but the elation meant I barely felt it (until about half an hour afterwards). That’s definitely the hardest I’ve ever pushed myself in a race but easily the happiest I’ve ever been with a result.

A really good race overall, just the type of running I like. The scenery was amazing, it looked like the kind of mountains Brian Dennehy and David Carruso chased John Rambo around. The weather was perfect for the race – slightly cold, damp and a bit misty – it was well organised and there was just the right amount of people doing it. I’ll definitely be doing it again next year.

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Amsterdam Marathon – 16/10/11

Posted: January 8, 2012 in Races 2011

Just back from Amsterdam now where I had a thoroughly fantastic weekend. I was unbelievably lucky with the weather the day of the marathon – beautifully sunny and bright but quite crisp and chilly, in other words perfect running weather. The walk in to the Olympic stadium (as a runner) was one of the highlights of the weekend, albeit a little surreal. The first 10km was around the city and absolutely flew by, I barely felt like I’d done a warm up at that point. After that we headed out of town and followed a lovely route out around the river and it honestly just felt like the kind of run you dream about going on – sunny but not hot, crisp, clean air, everyone in a great mood and the running seeming to take no effort at all.

This carried on for 20km, where I started to think that something untoward must be waiting for me around a corner. Passing 26km I was almost laughing at the fact that this was further than I had ever run before and I still felt great. I passed the 30km at 3:06, still keeping a really regular pace (split times for every 5km up to 30 were 31mins, give or take 30 seconds). About the 34km it finally happened and I struggled for the next 3/4km but I’d banked on it happening at some stage and had the Rocky IV soundtrack lined up and ready to go. After that it was just a matter of imagining a short, sweaty, bearded man being chased up some mountains by some grunty Russians with eyebrows in their ears and I was home and hosed. I’d been keeping Gonna’ Fly Now in reserve for the home strait so with 500 metres stuck that on and kicked on as hard as I could. Unfortunately the song finished with 150 metres still to go so my triumphant finale fizzled out and wasn’t entirely Chariots of Fire like.

All told though, considering it was my first marathon, my ridiculous training regime and my utterly disastrous last long run only a week beforehand I was bloody delighted to do it in 4:31 (and all of it ran with a smile on my face).

Gonna Fly Now (Theme From Rocky)

Race to Glory Mayo, July 2011

Posted: January 8, 2012 in Races 2011

I planned on doing it as a dry run for Gaelforce West and definitely learned some invaluable lessons doing it. I had done as much training as I possibly could for it, had all the equipment I needed and had my nutrition & hydration planned but a lot of things kind of went out the window when I had car (and then bike) trouble on the morning of the race. Rather than spending my morning hydrating, relaxing and getting another meal into me I was in a garage trying to get my car fixed and then Halfords getting a new tube in my bike.

The race started with a 10k run up an (initially) reasonable hill where I was passing quite a few people only to find that we were only on the run up to the proper hill which killed all but the elite competitors (it was only about 240m high but a 28% gradient at it’s steepest). When we finally got to the top there was a km or two of pretty flat track before we cut across the bog for a very wet and dirty kilometere replete with ditch jumps and everything. The last 3km or so fairly straightforward after that and I finished the first run in 1:03:30.

The cycle was 23km in total, the first five or so on the flat out of town, then the inevitable turn up a country lane where the hardship started. The hill was a little bit easier this time (only 210m and 21%) but my legs were just burning and the hills I thought I had cycled in training really hadn’t prepared me for it. Around this time I was definitely regretting my decision to ride in cleats as it was a big struggle even to push the bike up the hill wearing them. When I finally got to the top it actually got to be fun for a while as there was some pretty steep descents, if you call doing nearly 60kmh down tiny, wet country/forestry lanes with grass down the middle fun. Crossing the grassy strips to overtake, particularly when it was windy and raining so hard it was hard to keep your eyes open was certainly interesting. From about the halfway point on the bike though I started to really enjoy it, was making good time and on the ride back into town I was even passing a few people and finished the bike section in 1:11:49

The last section was a 7km run through the country with what was supposed to be a little splash along a river bed. Due to the filthy conditions and the sustained rain in the west though the water was waist deep in the river. I managed to make things worse by falling a couple of times and gashing my legs on some big f**k off rocks but as soon as I got out I started going at a pretty decent pace up some farm tracks, over hay bales and stuff. Everything was going swimmingly until the 37km (total) mark when all of a sudden my stomach made a huge grumble, I realised I had only eaten a banana since breakfast seven hours later and my 500ml of carb drink had long since left me. At that point I just ground to a halt. I was on course for a 2:40 finish until that point but from then on all I could do was stagger/plod. All I could feel was a huge, gaping hole in my stomach and all I could think about was food. I remember coming towards a house that had ballons at the gate and I started thinking “maybe they’re having a birthday party? A kids birthday party? Surely they’ll have chocolate and stuff. I wonder would someone run in and get me a fun size Mars bar?” As I passed the people at the gate though I couldn’t even open my mouth and had to just kept plodding on.

When there was 1km to go I forced myself to pick up the pace a little bit and getting in to town there was people all along the street cheering, my wife and two sons were waiting for me and my youngest son cycled the last bit with me. That and the MC calling “here’s no. 188 Trevor Kavanagh from Kildare” and encouraging the crowd to cheer was enough to help me stagger across the line in a total time of 2:57:28, the last 7km taking me 42:10. I staggered around in a daze for a minute, just muttering “food” at people until someone pointed across the road to where one of the event sponsors had a pig roasting on a spit. Two minutes later I had a Man vs Food style pig burger in my hands, two minutes thirty seconds later I had it in my belly and I could almost utter words again. Over the next half hour or so I proceeded to experience the strangest multitude of sensations, going from the point of collapse to almost being in floods of tears to being wracked with pain and cold before managing to get myself back to my hotel room and falling asleep in (what felt like) the world’s most wonderful bath.

As hard and all as it was I absolutely loved it and can’t wait for Gaelforce West in five weeks time.