It’s not the distance but the pace that kills.
Not waiting around for the 1:30 baloon for this year’s Ballina Half Marathon I decided, to take off on my own steam for the first time ever in a long race. Previously I would have paced off someone , but with Ray Mc on his holiers and Ivan the great injured the only others I knew ahead of me we’re John Byrne, Micheal Canty and Dwayne I’ll be pacing off those lads when we are racing as octogenarians.
The weather never seems to let us down for this race, I have a nice singlet sunburn from yesterday. However that wind was cat. I’d like to think it cost me a minute. Certainly burned me out. My legs felt very heavy 10km in, I don’t know whether this was the pace I took out at or whether my form is not on point. Either way after 10k I was looking forward to the gradient heading south but that coincided with wind so it did not feel like speed as per previous years. The old road back to Beleek was a total drag and I was just willing my head into the woods.
It’s a bit of a false ridge being able to see Keane’s shop and pub from Beleek feeling like you are close but still having 6 k to go. To be honest being there in those woods at the hour mark I thought holy moly you are on for 1:25 ish here. I felt like Mo farah for about 2 minutes until Gary from Leeds just knocked it into cruise control and breezed past me. I was out of gears.
It was a real grind from there on in, I felt like I had something to lose. My pace slowed right down to 4:30 pace sometimes getting back to 4:10 but I had nothing in the tank. At this point I always break it down to the shortest goals.
Get to bachelor’s walk, get to the bridge , get to the quay road. At the quay road I was at about 1:20. Just wanting it all to be over. The reserves are gone and any hopes of a strong finish out the window. I kept saying forget the watch and just focus on what’s left but you still try and calculate your finish time in some sort of game. It does not make any difference as speed will not increase. To decrease means stopping so you just keep that pace maintenance to get to the line.
Creggs road has this insanely slight gradient that sucks the bejaysis out of you. It’s not a hill, just a gradient increase. Coming around the bend I could see the clock just go into the 1:28 minute, and was not interested in some sort of a kamikaze burst of madness so I just coasted to 1:28:20.
The progress is in the fact that I did the Ballina half 7 years ago in 1:50 ish. If you had told me then I would do it in 1:28 I would have laughed. Now here I believe with a stronger finish I’m closer to 1:25. Why? Just belief. Maybe not that course but certainly flatter, cooler and less windy.
The progress is being delivered through my coach who has re mapped my former Gaa components into endurance. That is a blog in itself so I won’t delve further.
But what I can delve on, which is awesome is the likes of Paul Hogan, Frank Reape, young Fox and Colm Reilly.
I can feel those mo fo’s breathing down my neck. And I am fucked if they will beat me in a long distance race. I know we’re all nice nice. And they are sound men. But competition is competition. They are flaking themselves. Their gains do not go unnoticed.
I can’t stress how awesome this is to have locally. It drives me to get up this morning. Dying. It drives me to get more out of myself. Not only to keep the wolves from snapping but also to take a few scalps along the way.
It’s just my opinion. Take it with a pinch of salt. But I think competition is the greatest asset in keeping your mental and physical health. It creates a natural furnace. Heats you when you need it. Focuses you when you are idle. It is not financially or socially motivated. It is just pure.
Singlet, shorts , shoes and watch.
Run MO FO. I’m watching you.