It was the night before the Tom Brennan 5km race and New Years Eve. The tension was mounting. I really wanted to start 2022 with a new PB and to run sub 23 minutes. I’d managed 23:17 at the beginning of December (although it had half killed me) and had trained hard since. I knew I was fit enough to do it. But despite telling everyone who would listen to my racing talk that I wasn’t drinking on New Year’s Eve so I’d be in top form, I caved, and ended up staying up much too late despite all my good intentions. I knew it was a mistake – how was I going to achieve my goal now? As the wind picked up in the early hours, I was awoken to the sound of my neighbours’ trampoline being flung over the wall and wondered if I might be off the hook. It’s sure to be cancelled I thought. Alas, as dawn broke, I realised the first day of 2022 was actually going to be unseasonably warm and sunny – perfect racing conditions! There was no getting out of this. The pre-race nerves increased, along with the post wine headache.
I got to the Phoenix Park at around 11.20am and saw another few Sportsworlders warming up. The familiar faces and smiles helped settle my nerves. I did a 3km warm up and felt like I was running well. Maybe I could do it after all. Time to head to the start line. By my watch the race started a few minutes early, so there was no time for fretting, I just had to get going. Off we went, I looked at my watch and realised I was going a bit fast but felt great so just went with it. I lost my nerve at the 1km stage though and decided to ease up in case I crashed and burned. The route is two laps starting on Furze Road, going clockwise around to Chesterfield Avenue, back to Furze Road and around again. The conditions were great, windy at times, but it was nice and flat and very sunny.
The last 1km was when the going got tough, I held on to my pace as best as I could. It felt like the longest 1km ever and it was only later I realised it probably was. As I approached the finish, I saw the seconds just coming up to 23 minutes. I didn’t bother picking it up as I knew I wouldn’t get under 23. Initially I felt despondent, but then I looked at my watch – the distance was showing as 5.06km. Where had those extra 60 metres come from? Had I not stopped my watch on time? I was pretty sure I had, but I’d still somehow managed to run over the 5km – maybe I went too wide somewhere or off course. Whatever happened, my watch had my 5km time below 23 minutes. While not sub 23 minutes officially, I’d still knocked 13 seconds off my old PB in the official results with a time of 23:04 and now I knew I could run under 23 minutes in the future if I stuck to the right distance (and resisted pre-race wine) – who knows, maybe there is even sub 22 minutes in me for 2022.
Overall, it was a great race, great atmosphere and there were some brilliant times from club members. A total of 18 from Sportsworld ran in the race, with Gareth Murran leading the club and coming 10th overall with a super time of 15:55. There was also good news later when we heard Sportsworld got 2nd place ladies team thanks to amazing runs from Maria Jones, Aoife O’Leary and Katie Nugent.