Thursday, 16 April 2009


On 22 March I did the Connemarathon. I was worried about what state I would be in for this as my 'stag' night was on the Friday and I was in a pretty bad way on Saturday morning. I managed to drag myself to Galway where I was staying with friends.
On Sunday morning I was feeling fully human again and got up at 6am to get the 8am bus to the start.
It got quite chilly waiting at the start and was eager to get going so we would not be standing around in the cold. We kicked off exactly on time at 10.30am. Before the start I got chatting to some people who had done the race before and I was glad as they tempered my aims and reiterated how hilly the course is. Consequently I decided to drop my aimed for average mile splits to 07:15. This proved to be a wise decision. The first mile passed in 07:12, so a little fast but very comfortable. I completed the second mile in 07:04, the third in 07:16. Here I encountered Johnny Donnelly of 'runjohnnyrun'. More on his crazy escapades to raise money for charity is available from Mile four elapsed in 07:16, five in 07:19, six 07:03. It was here that the gentle incline from the start ended. The seventh mile went by in 07:19 and mile eight in 06:54. Obvious from the quicker time is that I was on the downhill section of the course towards Kilary harbour; Ireland's only fjord. I really began to appreciate the scenery at this point which was truly stunning. Mile nine went by in 07:09 and mile ten in 06:53. I was running on my won alot now. Mile eleven elapsed in 06:39 and twelve in 06:57. These two miles involve the final descent into Kilary harbour and running along the flat. Mile thirteen passed in 07:00. I was consciously trying to slow myself down now as I was going a bit fast and I anticipated a hillier second half. At this, the halfway point you come into the village of Leenane, where the half marathon starts and there is a short sharp rise out of the village. Unfortunately you have to get to this point in less than three hour pace to avoid having to run through two thousand half marathon starters. I could see the front runners pull away from the start as I entered the village and my heart sunk a little. I had to battle up hill against the usual twits who think it's a good idea to walk/run four abreast and those who throw their arms about in excitement. At one point I saw a girl taking off her hoddie to throw it to her friends across the road cheering her on. I decided to over take her on the inside before she did that but I didn't make it and it was only my anticipation of what she was about to do that allowed me to put my arms up in time to stop her throwing her right arm into my face. Battling through the crowd I got through miles fourteen and fifteen miles in 07:25 and 07:26, which I was happy with but I expended an awful lot of energy.
Mile sixteen went down in 06:43, mile seventeen in 06:44 and mile eighteen in 06:58. I was going too fast and needed to slow down. Mile nineteen passed in 07:16, mile twenty in 07:18. At this point I was getting anxious about the hill at mile twenty-three, the infamous 'hell of the west'. Mile twenty-two lapped in 07:29. Mile twenty-three 07:54, which represented the first part of the 'hell of the west' and mile twenty-four was extremely painful and slow, elapsing in 08:49. I was so glad to see the end of it and could now see the finish way off in the distance down a gentle gradient. I could not get back up to my previous pace and could feel my left hamstring cramping up pretty bad and worried about something giving out and registering a DNF. Thankfully I held it together and miles twenty-five and six passed in 07:21 and 07:26 respectively. In the last 0.2 I got 'chicked' but my pride was not hurt too much when it transpired that she would be the female marathon winner. I finished in 03:10:24 and considering this was a much tougher course than Dublin I was very happy with the time.
If I miss the qualifying time for Boston 2010 the Connemarathon will be a very good consolation prize and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. Superbly organised, great course and nice medal and wicked t-shirt for all finishers.

1 comment:

Thomas said...

3:10 is a great time for Connemara, congratulations! You won't have the slightest troubles qualifying for Boston.

Sounds like you did well carboloading with Guinness for the race. Maybe something to learn from.