When I woke up on Sunday I immediately regretted not running away from Emily when she cornered me on the Tuesday after training asking where I was racing over the weekend. It seems my answer of “I’m not racing” wasn’t one of the options.
It was hot out there and I was in hayfever hell! After some initial confusion registering teams for the Dublin Novice Championship I met up with Martina for a warm up. I desperately wanted to break 23 minutes so I decided I would run as fast as I could for as long as I could – foolproof really! At the start line, already sweating there were a good few Sportsworld singlets to be seen. I lined up (with itchy eyes and sneezing) alongside Martina, Linda, Val and Carmel. Midday struck and we were off – did I mention it was hot!! The course is flat and fast except for the hill at the end. Jose had warned me to save some energy for the slight drag at the end – it’s a hill Jose!! At least it felt like that to me.
My strategy worked for the first 3 KM. I felt great and was sure I was going to smash my sub 23 target. Oh how things can quickly change. By the 4th Km I had blown up and decided that I in fact hated running. Linda and Martina started to pull away from me. It was only when I glanced at my watch I realised how much I had slowed. I pick up my pace again and even attempted a sprint finish on the track but alas I crossed the line in exactly 23:00. My sub 23 was not to be.
There was great support from the club all along the course. Thanks to Emily, Myles, Paul, Naoise, Catherine, Aileen, Karl and Jose for the shout outs! There was a decent spread after in the clubhouse and presentations took place on the track in the glorious sunshine. Due to technical issues the team results for the Dublin Novice were not announced so we only found out a day later that the ladies team came 3rd. I foolishly shared this good news with Olive Fogarty whose response was “great, well done, will you write a race report”? it seems “no” was not an option. Well done to everyone who raced in that heat.
Journey up to the race:
When it came to preparations for this race, I had none. Honestly! I’d just come back to Tuesday’s training session after running the Madrid Marathon and had no what-so-ever idea that I was going to be running a 5k race on Sunday.
Like any other training session I walked through the clubhouse doors and was immediately met by Emily who was smiling at me. “How was Madrid? Happy enough?”. I nodded, indicating I was. Emily continued by saying something like “How about running Sunday or Monday?”
Sunday would be alright, I responded. Unlike most people, I did not have the luxury of having Monday off as my bank holidays are planned after the Nordic market.
Nevertheless, without too much thought, Sunday sounded pretty good. Half a minute later and I was signed up for a 5 km race.
Fast forward to Sunday – race day:
9.30 a.m. sharp. That’s when I was convinced everyone was going to meet outside of the clubhouse to car pool to Tallaght. Embracing my inner Swede I showed up early – like 30 minutes early and decided to enjoy the beautiful weather by waiting out the remaining time on a bench just outside of the clubhouse. Ten minutes go by and at the corner of my eye I’m noticing someone running towards me. It was Enda, out for his morning run on a beautiful Sunday morning.
Happy to see a familiar face I turn to greet him. With a confused face Enda asks me what I’m doing here (for those who do not know I happened to live over at the north side in Clontarf, so for me to be found that far south is not very common unless there is a session). I explain to Enda that I’m waiting for the car pool. The expression on his face clearly indicated I’ve made a mistake. No one is coming and there is no car pool for today. I texted the Sportsworld men’s group, fingers cross, hoping for someone to respond that they are driving.
Enter Michael to the rescue who was driving over there around 10:45 am.
With some time to kill I head over with Enda to grab a coffee (also what Swedish people like to call “fika”) to wait out the remaining time. An hour and lots of coffee later I’m sitting in the car together with Michael and Conor on our way to Tallaght.
In the car I get my first introduction of the course where both Michael and Conor (who ran it previously) explain that it’s a fast one. Fun fact – they announced that if you beat the course record of 14:XX you have the chance of winning €500. The trick is not to blow up in the beginning and make sure to save some energy for the 3-4 km where you are faced with some uphill.
The course itself started just a couple of minutes outside the Tallaght AC’s clubhouse on Greenhills Road and took you around, in one single loop, the neighbourhood of Tallaght finishing fast on the club’s track.
Whilst discussing the layout of the course and how we were going to try to pick people off during the last km of the race, we arrived at Tallaght where we met up with the rest of the Sportsworld team. Eager to race I started my normal routine of stretching followed by some laps together with the team on the tracks. After about 15 minutes it was time to line up and together as a team we headed down to the start line (see first picture). I pushed my way up to the front of the starting line ready to run.
The clock turned to 12 pm and off we went. Like Michael and Connor said, it was fast. I was aiming to average on a 3.45-ish pace and immediately caught myself running more on a 3.20. I had to slow down, let people pass and steady myself. I saw Michael, Connor and Wesley shoot by me – all going strong. First 2 km felt alright. Pace was as intended and I continued to move forward. The course really felt like a typical run in the neighbourhood, taking you through the suburban areas.
I passed the 3 km and noticed I’d slowed down a bit, conscious of the hilly part ahead of me. To my relief it wasn’t as bad as expected. With only a couple of second’s slow-down, I increased the pace again for the last km. At this point the heat was becoming more noticeable as well. The weather was fantastic, but more suitable for tanning than running. It was warm and around +20 C with blazing sun.
Conor McCarthy 17.09
Michael Cunningham 17.46
Wesley Harrison 18.18
Oliver Hedborg 19.24
Padraig Looby 19.55
Karl Shevlin 20.08
Gary Hobbert 20.34
Martina Nolan Jones 22.46
Grainne Lynch 23.00
Val Power 23.42