I am not sure who will want to read about a 5k in Drogheda the same week the Berlin marathon reports are hot off the press. But it has been a long time since I wrote a race report so I may as well give you the back story.
In 2017 I developed a race phobia. Maybe it was a race report phobia actually? Anyway unless I felt I was gunning for a pb, there was zero wind or the course was as flat as a football field, I was not signing up. Oh and I also had to feel in top form, had trained hard, slept well and tapered perfectly. So no surprise it was July when I finally toe’d the line in the Docklands 5k. The resulting DNF was not the acronym I was hoping for. With confidence shattered, that was my one and only road race of the year.
So I came in to 2018 with changes in mind. The plan was to commit to the club sessions, run more easy miles and return to the weekly LSR. Basically do everything that Myles & Emily had been prescribing all along! And also I was going to race more. Whatever the conditions or fitness levels or moon cycle, I was going to show up.
So in keeping with the plan, I wanted to squeeze in a 5k before the big one at the end of the month. I scanned myrunresults calendar and the Boyne AC 5k popped up. Facebook said a “flat fast paced course” and Google maps clocked the journey at 40 minutes. The course was a lap and two thirds (different start/finish points). No one likes lapping but it looked straight forward and the new me has stopped searching for perfection so “Sign me up!”.
A 12 noon start meant there was no early morning rush. The journey up the M1 flew by and I was directed off the M1 and straight to the club house in lots of time for a warm up. I am not sure what qualifies as a fast flat course in Drogheda. “Undulating hills” might be more apt. I got a few easy miles in followed by some (downhill) strides and made my way to the start line.
The buzzer sounded just after 12 and we climbed immediately followed by a long and bumpy downhill. I stayed in the lead pack of 5 and we motored over the hills for the first 1.5km before turning a corner to face the wind and the start of the climbs. Now I will be honest, if I was to go back up and run this course without the race pressure, I may downgrade the terrain classification but senses are heighted at race pace and the smallest incline can intensify in the mind. 2km in, I was safely tucked away from the headwind, clipping the heels of the 4th place chap. But he started to feel the pace or else he wanted me off his tail – either way I had to man up and overtake. At this point we were passing the start finish line on lap 1 so there were cheers from the crowd, which does help pass a few hundred metres. After that I knew the hills were coming. I tried to keep the stride going for as long as possible before switching to the duck step. It mightn’t look pretty but it does give the legs some temporary relief. It wasn’t long until the 4km marker and I was running downhill again, albeit with less grace & more desparation than the first lap. I tried to stay calm, get control of the breathing and keep the pace without the effort. This served me well and I started closing on second place. With 400 metres to go, he was close but a glance over the shoulder & step on the gas kept me rooted in third.
It took me a while to realise that races are not about pb’s or flat courses or head winds but it is about giving everything you have got, on the day. I crossed the line knowing I had done just that. After catching my breath, I made it back down the course to cheer on Audrey who is still learning what running is all about. I was delighted to witness her shave a few seconds off her personal best on a tough course.
The race was well organised with a pre and post race goodie bag, a massive spread in the clubhouse afterwards and cash prizes for all age categories. While not a fast 5k, I would definitely recommend it and hope to be back next year.
So roll on Rathfarnham and for those who are still with me, I can offer you this advice…
– Keep up the easy miles
– Don’t neglect the Sunday long run
– Race regularly and often
– Listen to Myles & Emily
– Finally & most important, enjoy the process!