Charleville is a town in north County Cork. It lies in the Golden Vale, on a tributary of the River Maigue, near the border with County Limerick.  It’s half marathon has developed a solid reputation over the past few years as one of the best in the country, and deservedly it attracts a stellar field.

When the chance of a free number came up last week I jumped at the chance to make a weekend of it and see some of East Cork on Saturday and do my last 24K marathon pace run in the race on Sunday.

On Saturday morning I was up at 6 AM and set off to see a list of some of Irelands best touristing sites on route to Charleville. Cashel, Knockmealdown Mountains, Lismore, Ballycotton and Roches Point all got a look in, with a stop into Ballymaloe for a bit of lunch and Cork City for some shopping.

With no accommodation left in Charleville or nearby, Kilmallock County Limerick I made it to Mallow for the All Ireland Final. As the only Dub in the town I was keeping a low profile. You would be forgiven for thinking that the good people of Cork would support Dublin in favour of their neighbours Kerry, but it seems like that the anyone but Dublin attitude prevails. Woo!

The race kicked off at 10 AM on Sunday morning, with my race number already attached firmly to my singlet there was no rush to be there too early. This was to be my last marathon pace effort for the Berlin marathon on September the 29th. The plan was to do 24K with the first bring the half marathon and then finishing 3K on the track.

My target was to run in 3 phases with 7K at 3.35, 7K at 3.32 and the final 7K at 3.29, bringing the average out at 3.32. That would leave me with a finish time of around 74.40 and then do 3K at 3.30 pace to finish. I’ve completed similar runs over the past few weeks so was looking forward to it.

Despite not feeling amazing on Saturday I felt ok warming up. My usual routine is 2-3k and 4 long strides. It’s nice not to be racing as you don’t feel the pressure to get off the line like a lunatic.

Unforuanley looking at my watch after the race and from my perceived effort during the race, I was a bit more under the weather than I had first thought. The first phase up to 7K was ok. I was passing out lots of runners but my heart rate was going a little too high.

During the second phase, my heart rate went even higher as I tried to increase the pace ever so slightly too my planned marathon pace. It was around this stage of the race that I saw Sportsworld teammate Mark Hogan in front. I expected to catch and run with Mark around 10K but I wasn’t making any ground. At this point, I made the call to finish the race but in hindsight probably should have jogged home.

In the last phase, my heart rate was way too high and it was a big struggle just to keep going, given this is the tougher windier part of the course. I ran with Mark for 3-4K and was able to push ahead a tiny bit towards the end. Congratulations to Mark on a well earned PB.

Immediately I was thinking that was a very disappointing and worrying run with only a couple of weeks to go until the big day. But looking back at my heart rate values compared to the previous week. That time I ran 36K and my average HR was 156 bpm and my max was 176. For this run, my average HR was 167 and my max was 185. That’s an objective measure that my body was under a lot more stress, so best leave it behind me and forget about it, I can’t get the opportunity back.

This is a great race with a top-class field. The top women ran 74 and the top man ran 63. ou would find it hard to get many half marathons in the country with those finish times.

Sportsworld had a few other taking part listed below and congrats to former Sportsworld a lister Shona Keane who came 7th in 84 minutes.

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Gareth Murran 77.21
Mark Hogan 77.25
David Kennedy 93.25
Jessica Kennedy 105.57
Anne Higgins 113.59