The Waterford Half Marathon

The Waterford Half Marathon was the penultimate race of the year, the PB day, the last race of the season and I had big plans.

I was nervous and couldn’t get to sleep that night. Although I knew it didn’t matter and that adrenaline would get me through the race anyway, it was something I didn’t need to be worrying about.

I was quite in the car on the way to the race but was satisfied with the thought of the season being over in what I hoped would be another 1:25 hours of racing.

The feeling on the start line was heavy. A small man from a club I didn’t recognise spoke to me as I was doing the obligatory last minute warm up.

“This your first one?”, he asked.

I tell him it’s my second but that I hope to break the 1:30 mark.

“Just go with the race” he said “there will be plenty more races to worry about your time”, he nods.

I thanked him and wished him luck.

The countdown begins and we are off. A downhill start sets the tone of the race. We bomb down the hill at a 3:47km pace. A stupid pace for someone who hopes to run 21kms but I was ‘going with the flow’.

 

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The first km; All praise belongs to the photographer

My legs felt good for the first three kilometres, then I noticed a hint of fatigue beginning to creep in.

That feeling of utter helplessness and panic descended, even though I was running hard and hitting 4:30km pace I couldn’t keep up with the 1:30 hour pacer.

At around 5km we were running through an industrial estate. With nothing to keep my mind off the panic, I had a little pep talk with myself. I began to embrace the fact I was hurting and I knew that no matter what happened from here on in, it was going to hurt and it was going to be my best effort in my current circumstances.

The only problem was I had told everyone what my goal had been. I did this to add pressure that would hopefully translate to performance on the day. While it didn’t make me reach my goal, it sure helped over the last 3km.

The course was horribly boring for the most part. Main roads, industrial estates and then more main roads. There was one back road which was semi scenic, although the county council had decided to fill the pot holes with loose gravel earlier that week, which believe me, my Asics Gel DS Racers 11 didn’t absorb.

img_3011Three times I had to stop during this race. That is three more than any other race I’ve ever been in. This race kicked my ass. The first time was a quick toilet stop, the second happened on the crest of the hill that conveniently arrived at approximately mile 11.

This hill was the straw that nearly broke my back. Running up it on shattered quads that had taken the beaten of downhill for the last 10 miles really was a shock to the system. I seized up and had to stop for a breather.

The third time was a weakness of character in the sense that I was going to just give up about 2km from the finish. I had to push on even though I had hit the wall completely. I could feel every step and it hurt… a lot.

Coming onto the home stretch was genuinely one of the happiest moments in my life. I could see the finish although my legs had finish 2kms ago.

waterford-halfComing over the line was such a relief. I didn’t collapse but I came damn close.

I learned to really respect the distance that day. Even though it was the pace that killed me.

I believed I could get away with running it at a 10km pace. I learned my lesson but I’ll be back again.

Check out the Strava segment here; https://www.strava.com/activities/792162679

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Run the Line 2016

Run the Line was my favourite event from this season for a lot of reasons but mostly because I slowed down and just enjoyed running.

This as a concept is easy to grasp. However, this race came a week before my target race of the year, the Waterford Half Marathon. I had been getting into the mind set for weeks; run fast and run hard was my adopted motto.

The day of the race arrived and I picked it because it was tough and technical and I knew I would have to take it slow. 13km of steep ascents and twisting downhill trials… the perfect challenge.

The weather was cold but dry and we set off ten minutes after the 26km race from the parking lot of a pub located at the bottom of the Wicklow/Dublin mountains.

I began slow at a 6/km pace which felt weird, although inspired confidence into me as my legs felt strong.

img_2985I was glad I wore leggings as the initial ascent was plagued by thorns and the occasional nettle. It was a small trail where we all were forced into single file.

I spent most of my time looking at the feet in front of me so not to clip their heel.

The ascent was beautiful; small trails that occasionally opened into a vast woodland where I had to be on the lookout for not only low lying branches but tree stomps and roots.

This style of racing was enjoyable. Although training in the trails for six weeks before hand, I had only run one other trail race before this so I took my time and became aware of the surrounding sights.

Once at the top of the trails it opened into a dirt road for about 2km before heading into the steepest part of the run which brought us up to the peak. We ran through bog like trails before finding our footing on a generously sized walkway that took us right up to the rock pile on the very top of the mountain.

Descending has always been a weakness in my running technique. I just can’t seem to open up the legs and hips and let them completely carry me. My cadence is slow compared to most that were running past me and I felt clunky.

 

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Photos by actionphotography.ie

Although, before I knew it I was at 9km and feeling good. Descending allowed my legs to rest up a little from the ascend which was a nice contrast from road races where your legs are under pressure for the whole race.

Despite not being good at descending I enjoyed it. The level of concentration added a new dimension to the challenge at foot and fully engaged me. I presume it is the same effect as climbing Croagh Patrick bare footed.

Trial running is defiantly a new lease of life for any runner who is looking for a little more adventure. The Wicklow and Dublin mountains was a great venue and made this race memorable. The view was great, the challenge greater and the people and volunteers were encouraging and good fun.

 

Check out the Strava segments here; https://www.strava.com/activities/786170204

The Kilkenny Medieval 10km

The Kilkenny 10km was one of the more important races of my half marathon preparation.

The race fell just a week before my first half marathon in Dublin and I was using it as my last speed session.

I hadn’t done the race before but when I saw the medal (kind of a silly reason to do a race) I needed to add that to me collection.
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My running fitness was peaking at this stage of my training. I was approaching races from the angel of what speed I wanted to finish. Usually I was all about just surviving a 10km. Today I was racing it.

Before the training had started for the half marathon I really had never thought of doing one. I believed that 20km was just out of my reach. It took time and perseverance, and as any athlete will tell you, it finally came.

I got a beautiful evening for the event. My dad and my girlfriend had come up too. Kilkenny is about an hour’s drive from where I live so it was no hassle.

img_2756 When we arrived I signed on and did my usual 2km warm up and some stretches on the start line. I decided after eyeing everyone up that I would stand on the start line instead of behind people.

‘BANG!’ and we were off. I bolted out of the gate at a 2:40km/min pace and found myself in second place for around 800 meters until I fell into my usual 4km/min pace for the rest of the race.

The route was nice and straight for the most part. However, with a full marathon, 30km, and half marathon event taking place at the same time the stewards were stretched out over those course routes. this made traffic calming and navigation a challenge; considering it was a road race.

The race flew by with little thought. One woman from the Irish Defence Force passed me at 8km and I ran with her for a little while. In the last 600 meters two other runners caught up with us and it was a flat out sprint to the finish.

Coming 9th was a big surprise. The race had been tough and I didn’t expect such a good result. I was really spent afterwards and had a hard time getting my own shoes off.

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I also enjoyed hitting my 40-minute goal which was a great relief. Sometimes the most addictive thing about racing can be getting in over that finishing line.

I am glad to have this one in the bag before the changeover to cycling after Christmas. I have two other big races coming up before then. Run The Line on November 26th and the Waterford Half Marathon then on the 3rd of December.

By Nick Moloney

Dublin Half Marahton

The Dublin Half marathon had a record amount of people turn up this year with a sell-out race of 9,000 runners.

I was one of those 9,000, but for me, it was my first half marathon. I had been training for months now. I was nervous.

As I stood among the other 1,000 runners around the big luminous 1:30hour ballon I felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of people.

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Coming from such a small town this was a culture shock. The race began at 10am, and at 9.55am it began to rain. We were soaked through by the time to gun went off.

We started our 21 kilometre journey at 10.03 am on Saturday morning, the 24th of September. My first few steps over the start line were a wobbly few steps indeed.

Phoenix park was packed to capacity with cars parked in every parking space available. Although those not familiar with the phoenix park had a punishing walk to the start line, as some parked over two kilometre away.

This race will always be remembered as the one race I ran, where I became uncomfortably cold. My knees felt brittle and my fingers were numb. The wind whipped across us when we were in the open, and lingered in the shade.

The course was nice and it was testing. The climbs were deceptively long and built up a lot of fatigue in  my legs over the 21km.

I must thank the few people who gave me some words of encouragement. It went a long way to getting me over the line. When someone is in that much pain, it really is the little things that pick us up mentally.img_2803

Now I will train for the Waterford half that is on this December. I hope to run a solid 1:30hour marathon there. This half really got the better of me and I fell in over the line in 1:42:50.

The race was hotly contested by some elite athletes. In 1st place the Rathfarnham runner, Sean Hehir came in at 01:07:45. He was closely followed by Fikru Teshager, also from Rathfarnham in 01:08:58. Mark Kirwan with Raheny Shamrocks came in 3rd with 01:09:27 on the clock.

1st woman home was Barbara Sanchez in 01:18:26. She was closely followed by Catherina McKiernan in a time of 01:19:27. Caitriona Jennings running for Rathfarnham followed them in with an equally impressive time of 01:20:33.

 

 

Wexford 10km and half marathon runs for another successful year

Last Sunday 1,000 runners anxiously stood on the quays of Wexford for what would be a beautiful day for the culmination of the many months of training the runners had put in for this event.

The  and SuperValue Wexford half marathon and 10km was held in Wexford town where roughly 400 participants took part in the 10km and 600 in the half marathon.

There were athletes of all ages present at the start line, where the fittest stood to the forefront, hands on watches, listening for that gun shot that would indicate the race had begun.

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Once the luminous bunch took off, a quick pace was set with Tom Hogan at the front, where he would stay until the finish of the 22km race.

There were many club colours sprinkled thorough out the crowd. The Wexford Marathon Club, the newest club in Wexford made waves in the 10km race as Ryan Mann finished in third place.

The club also had a great turn out for the half marathon and a cluster of lime green jerseys with a yellow streak going through the “WMC” logo stuck together for the first few kilometres.

Paddy Rowe and Tina Mann from WMC were at the finish line waiting to welcome and personally congratulate all the club members.

Paddy Rowe said, “Last Sunday’s race for me was the foundation stone we wanted WMC to be built on when we set it up,

“It showed their determination during their training schedules pays off on race day and made them all realise that when you dig deep, you always have what’s needed to get to your goals, couldn’t be prouder of what the club’s members are creating”

The weather was uncharacteristically good for the morning of the race and the feeling at the finish line was one of anticipation from loved ones and curious glances from athletes that weren’t performing on the day for one reason or another.

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The commentator was giving updates on the leaders of the race and not long after the start the first athletes from the 10km race became visible.

Paddy O’Keefe for Growran AC came in at 37:04 followed by John Thuillier for Crusaders AC at 37:40. Ryan Mann from the Wexford Marathon Club was third by a narrow margin of one second putting him behind John with 37:41.

The first three women over the line for the 10km race was Ann Sullivan for DMP Wexford in a time of 41:27. She was closely followed by Grainne Brennan with an impressive time of 41:39. In third place was Amy Wright who was also running for the Crusaders who finished in

Tom Hogan was the first man home in the half marathon with a time of 1:15:30 and the first woman home -who was also second place- in a time of 1:16:24.

Nick Moloney