Saturday was the final race of the Gneeveguilla AC race series. While I had done well in the first 2 races, setting a new PB in the process, I wasn't too happy with the third race and paired with the slow 10k time I had set in Kenmare I had started to worry that I might have peaked already and was on my way down, which would have been seriously bad news for Tralee, especially after getting into such a good shape at the start of the year.
However, there were some positive signs as well, not least the fact that my no-sugar diet is starting to show some effects. I stood on the scales on Saturday morning to see that my weight had dropped below 145 pounds (10 stone 5, 65.7 kg) for the first time in 11 months! Most of all, I drilled into myself to give a better effort than last week, come what may!
It was a freezing cold day and everyone was shivering at the start. I noticed a lot of people wearing long sleeves, but at the fast end there were still plenty of t-shirts and singlets in view.
George took off ahead of me again, but I was close behind him. When the field had settled I found myself matching stride with Donal Kelly, so I figured I must be doing well. After about a km I was unsure if the pace/effort was okay (the last 2 races had knocked the confidence in my pacing a bit) so I did what I usually never do in a race, I checked my Garmin to have a look at the figures.
In my experience, nine out of ten time it's a bad idea to pace yourself off a gadget, especially in such a short, fast race as a 5k. However, this was the one time it worked. While the average pace of 5:44 was fine, the present pace of 5:58 was too slow, just as I had suspected, and I put the hurt on. I got my nose just ahead of Donal, he responded and we both increased the effort. The turnaround disrupted my rhythm and I fell a step or two behind but recovered and we kept pushing each other hard for most of the rest of the race until he finally managed to put a little bit of daylight between us on the last half k when I struggled up that tiny little hill. I pushed hard until the end and was rewarded, and very pleasantly surprised, with a new 2-second PB at the end as I crossed the line in 17:51.
According to the Garmin my mile splits were 5:41, 5:50 and 5:42, which is remarkable because I am absolutely certain that this is the first time I ever managed to speed up in the last mile of a 5k instead of getting progressively slower. I'm also pretty sure that it was my fastest third mile in a 5k ever and obviously that's where I got my new PB. I can't help but be very happy with that result, I did exactly what I intended to do and got my reward.
There was a prize ceremony afterwards for the race series. The prize structure was very generous, going 10 deep overall and prizes for the top 2 in each age category on top of that. I would have been ninth overall but they gave me first M40 instead because that was deemed better with a higher reward, though I have to point out that George and Donal are M40s and John and Rob M45s and they all finished ahead of me, so I was the fastest old guys apart from the actually fast old guys who managed to place better in the overall standings. However, I was happy, and I think so was everyone else. Well done to Gneeveguilla for hosting yet another great race series.
Sunday was easy again, or at least I thought it was easy and never checked the Garmin, so I was a bit surprised to see that I had averaged 7:17 pace. There must have been a massive gorse fire at the lakeside during the night but it was in the process of dying out when I passed it. It's that time of the year again, I suppose.
- 22 Feb
- 5 miles, 38:37, 7:43 pace
- 23 Feb
- 7 3/4 miles, including:
Gneeveguilla 5k 4/4, 17:51, 5:44 pace, 10th place
- 24 Feb
- 10 miles, 1:12:56, 7:17 pace, HR 142