[Report by Joy Furlong]
Eighteen weeks of training, which went injury free, had me ready and confident for this race. I spent the 3 days previous to the race carbo loading, oh what joy that brought, must have been one of the few women who stepped on the weighing scales the night before and shouted with delight yes I had gained a kilo! I knew then that I was ready and armed!
Race day, I was up early, alarm set for 7.00am but a restless night had me up at 6.30. Leisurly breakfast of porridge, OJ and toast. Later sipped on sports drink and a banana in the car on the drive in. David keeping the chat lighthearted until it came to parking the car! Eventually got a spot and a short walk up to the start line had me there for 8.50, only ten minutes for the real nerves to set in. The atmosphere was great, it was a beautiful morning, the sun shining and lots of smiles. It was a small crowd only about 700 competitors which made it easy to spot the pacers.
Race plan was to go with the 3.45 pacers and keep it steady. Hoping I could hang in there with them as long as I could. Average pace to be 5.18 min km. Start gun went at 9.02 we were off , I started with a smile , determined to be smiling at the end.First few kms have you running through the city centre before turning off for a stretch along the canal, this is a lovely section, Ger Harteman brings his elite runners this route. The chat and pace was easy at this stage, about 25 or so going with the pacers.Out towards UL then with lots of cheers from my family and cousins at mile 4.Through 10km mark on target, (one down only 3 more to go). Around UL and over the Living Bridge what a weird sensation that was, with such a large crowd going over it at the same time you really feel the movement underfoot, thought motion sickness might set in! This section is relatively flat and I was still feeling good. Turned at mile 9 and back towards the city, knew I would be passing family again at 12 mile point and wanted to be looking good then. The sun was out in force, getting hot at times so taking water on at every water stop. Gels were going down ok but the water was making me feel very full. Did not want to take it but persisted. More cheers from my crew, time for some high fives for the kids and on again to the half way mark. Through at 1:52:16 bang on I thought Happy Days. I felt I was going steady and strong.
The second half is a more challenging route, once through 13:2 mls it’s a drag up past the old army barracks, felt strong here and then a nice few flat miles out the country side. At mile 16 I felt a twinge in my right knee and I thought is this the beginning of the end but some banter in the group distracted me and I didn’t think of it again! Getting hotter now. On we went, lots of twists and turns in this new route and drags, through lots of housing estates which is great for support but narrow in places. At mile 17 the pacers inform me I am the only woman left in the group, no pressure Joy! The banter is good, some offer to carry me over the line if still together at the end etc. On I push, once or twice the pacers seem a few steps ahead of me, usual form for me is to let them go, but not today. Mentally telling myself not today, push with them. Again through the next clock at 30 km bang on time. Confidence is good now, a slight down hill sees me pushing slightly ahead of the group as I could see the Crescent flyover looming ahead. From a distance it looks huge! Ran up this very strong, delighted with myself. Grouped up again on the decline, pacers inform us that the hill has decimated the group only half a dozen of us left now. I am now thinking stay with them until mile 20 and any mile after that is a bonus. This is a lovely run into the city, with the sun out its the city at its best. Lots of support on the streets and David who is on his bike keeps popping up unexpectedly and brings a smile. Through mile 20 our group is now down to 3, staying focused now . ~The last six miles have you leave the city centre again , this part is riddled with hills if you ask me. First real test came at mile 22, running through a housing estate with a very long drag, had to dig deep here and thanks to Brian the pacer I got up it still on pace. A little respite then to catch my breath and wave at my smaller kids who are delighted to see their mum still with the guys with the balloons.
Mile 23 is the hill at the Gaelic Grounds, how I hate this hill, more so now…. Lots of people walking up this, lots of casualties around. This was very tough I pushed as hard as I could but couldn’t stay with those balloons, Brian is yelling at me to squeeze a little harder I try its just not there. I get to the top a few metres behind but have nothing left at this point to push to reach them. On they go but I was dogged determined. Only at this point did my average pace slip from 5.18 to 5.19, quick calculations tell me not to let it slip 5.20 and I would still make 3.45. The mind is good the legs are less so. Feck its only a few kms ….. It’s lonesome in this section, runners very strung out no one in sight to try and pick off.. well I could still see those balloons but its too far. David shows up then with some coke (the liquid type) tells me to have a sip I don’t want to but I do and then tell him ever so politely to take a hike. He goes ahead and informs me as I pass him that those balloons are only 30 secs ahead of me. Jesus but I dig deep now, running under the banner that marks the last mile.I can still see the pacers Brian gives me one final thumbs up . I want this soo bad and doesn’t everyone deserve their day? Oh the things that go through one’s head, I pass a garda who is marshaling he yells come on Joy nearly there, I think how does he know my name and what does he know about it, he is only watching after all, a quick glance at him and hey he is a bit soft on the eye and on I go laughing and grimacing now. And then the Buzzzz, coming across the bridge more cousins give me a shout, the turn onto O’Connell street its electric , there it is the finish line and clock I see 3.45 and the seconds are ticking. Suddenly my running form is excellent, its a straight back, high knees and pumping arms. I sprint (well maybe just a little) to that line, Fantastic so happy, The pacers are there to greet me and a hug from Brian, it was a pleasure to run with me he says but I think the pleasure is all mine today, and I think yes Limerick you’re a lady!
Stats Avg pace 5.19, Garmin 42.32 km. Official time 3.45.19. 14th woman of 138. 6th in age group of 55. 1st km 5.12 pace 42nd km 5.12 pace. Happy with that.
It’s a great race, well organised, minor probs with speed bumps and traffic cones, other than that it’s thumbs up.
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