Saturday, 31 December 2011
In the lead up to that race I was invited to run the Donadea 50k.This was to be my first ultra race and I wanted to make an impression on those that selected me for the national team,and prove I was worthy to wear the green vest.Long story short I managed to win the race and this set me up nicely for the ACP in March.
March 27th Perth,Scotland,Anglo Celtic Plate 2011.....My Ireland debut :)
It was a totally surreal experience for me to be kitted out in the Ireland gear and I was buzzing all weekend.
The previous day I met my team-mates and crew for the first time.A really great down to earth bunch of lads,which I think calmed my nerves some bit.One thing I have noticed since I took up running 4 years ago is the camaraderie in the sport,but Ultra running takes this to another level altogether.I was the novice in the team with the other guys boasting a vast range of Ultra running credentials,but the support and advice these guys gave me was invaluable.
Before the race all I had on my mind was running a sub 7.30 100km.This was the qualifying time for the World/European Championships.Of course I couldn't be content with running in the Irish colours or even finishing the race,I had to go one better and try to get the qualifying time at the first attempt !
I did it...Just about...7.28:59.............Roll on the World Championships in September
In the lead up to the Championships I ran the Connemara marathon and placed 3rd.Next up was the Kildare Marathon which I finished in 1st place.Two weeks later I ran the Newry City Marathon and placed 3rd again.
In July Ireland was to host the Trail World Championships and Ultra Running Ireland's Richard Donovan was an outstanding success as race director.From a personal point of view I had never ran a Trail race before,but because I was selected I decided to give it a crack.It was another international cap which I would have been foolish to turn down.On the day a lot of factors contributed to me suffering from dehydration and subsequently being forced to drop out of the race.
I was determined to put my first DNF behind me and my first race on the ultra scene was the Longford 39.3 mile Ultra which I placed 1st and restored some confidence before the big one in Holland.
So September finally arrived.World Championships were here.The whole atmosphere surrounding the event was fantastic.From the athletes village to the opening ceremony to the race itself was an experience.I was completely up for this race and had high hopes of putting in a good performance,but just like in the Trails things didn't go to plan once again.It was a big disappointment but I count myself very lucky to have represented my country at 2 word championships in one year.
October 31st I was a pacer for the Dublin City Marathon.I must say I got great satisfaction from helping fellow athletes accomplish there aims in attaining a sub 3 hour marathon.I still felt I had a decent race left in me before the year ended.I started working with coach William Sichel in early October in the hope to develop my ultra running potential.We selected some races which would be part of my training towards the World 100km 2012 in april(providing I would be selected that is)
First up was the Clonakilty Waterfront Marathon.I knew this was going to be a tough race and not one for a fast time.What I wanted was a good work out.Afterall the bigger picture was Italy 2012.
As it turns out I ran a strong race on a hilly course which was enough for me to take 1st place.So that was 2011 wrapped up,and when I look back on the year tonight I just realise what a rollercoaster ride it has been.Lots of ups and even more downs,but even more importantly valuable experience gained.So here's to taking what I've learned in 2011 and turning it in to something better for 2012.
List of races from 2011
Feb - Donadea 50km 1st place
March - Ireland debut ACP 100km 7.28
April - Connemara Marathon 3rd Place
May - Kildare Marathon 1st Place
May - Newry City Marathon 3rd Place
July - Trail World Chapionships
August - Longford Ultra Marathon 39.3 miles 1st Place
September - World 100km Championships
October - Sub 3 Hour Pacer in the Dublin Marathon
December - Clonakilty Waterfront Marathon 1st Place
Friday, 23 December 2011
The marathon started the same time as the 10k so I got a little caught up with the early pace running the first 3 miles with the chasing 10k group.As the race thinned out and the marathon and half marathon went there separate ways I was on my own running out country roads with lots and lots of hills to get over !! I have ran hilly races in my time,but I have never seen so many in one race !! I mean it was relentless !! It was hill after hill after hill after hill.The last 4 miles were flat but I think by the time I had got to mile 22 my legs were in a state of shock.I managed to cross the finish line in first place in 2.44:18. I did manage to get a good workout even if the time wasn't that impressive ! It's never easy racing a marathon on your own from start to finish,especially on a hilly course but all in all I'm very happy to have rounded off the year with another victory.
For anybody looking for a scenic winter marathon on a challenging course this race has it all,and more ! Everything from race organisation to stewarding to aid stations to atmosphere(at the start and finish area) was top notch and I could not fault anything with my experience in Clonakilty.
I would also like to thank my sponsors Kinetica who were also one of the main race sponsors on the day as well.They provided runners with everything from energy gels during the race to recovery drinks after.
So that's my racing finished with for 2011.Next up is The Irish 50km Championships which will be held in Donadea in February 2012,and maybe a warm up in the Gloucester 50km in January,just to keep me on the straight and narrow over the festive period :)
(views of scenic west cork)