Category Archives: Races

Decathlon 10k

What a difference a day makes!

After huffing and puffing my way around the Minnowburn 10k yesterday I was back in Belfast for my second race of the weekend – the Decathlon 10k.

To be honest, I wasn’t feeling it this morning. Waking up to the sound of torrential rain, and looking out my window to see a sky so dark it looked evil didn’t bode well for the day ahead.

Throw in the fact that my legs were still heavy from yesterday’s efforts, and I really began to question just what was I doing? The race didn’t even cost anything to enter so it would have been easy, really easy, just to go back to bed (after feeding the cat, of course, can’t forget the cat!).

But that would be giving up, wouldn’t it? And when it comes to running I don’t give up.

The rain was still quite heavy when I was waiting on Judith to collect me, and the sky just as dark. Still not too late to pull out, I thought.

However, as we travelled towards Belfast I spotted blue skies away in the distance. Hmmm, this might not be as bad as I feared … and it wasn’t. The city itself was relatively pleasant, or as pleasant as a November morning can be.

After meeting up with Parveen and chatting with a few others from the club, we lined up to start … to be greeted by a light shower. I don’t mind running in the rain, not at all, I just detest starting in it.

Thankfully that’s all it was, a light shower. I set off at a reasonable pace – which surprised me given how my legs still felt – and managed to clock up a fairly decent time for the first mile. The second mile wasn’t too bad either and I knew that I was going to do alright at this.

The course itself is fairly uninspiring, basically we were running around the roads of a large retail park in the shadow of Belfast City Airport. I’m not a huge fan of running around here having had bad experiences in the past but today was different.

I felt stronger – surprisingly – and I felt I had settled into a rhythm fairly early on. I felt comfortable within myself, and quite relaxed.

Just after halfway, when the course doubled back a little, I made a point of seeing who was behind me (I counted 35) and resolved not to let any of them pass me. I also spotted a strung out group of around half-a-dozen about 200-300 yards in front of me so I decided to hunt them down, and catch them before the finish.

Happily, no-one passed me and, even better, I caught up with – and beat – the group ahead of me. From coming in the bottom three yesterday to having approx. 40 behind me today was fantastic – plus I was ten minutes faster. Different circumstances and different conditions, admittedly, but I’ll take it.

I had a little eye on my PB but I knew realistically I wouldn’t beat it, so I set myself little targets ie: get to five miles under a certain time etc., which I did, so that was good too.

My PB passed at 9.67km, I was a little disappointed at that … so near, but yet so far but I knew I was still on for a decent time so kept plugging away eventually recording my third fastest 10k ever, which I thought was bloody good less than 24 hours after a tough trail race!

It seems all these interval sessions, and trail runs, are really starting to pay dividends. But, now, rest …

Relive my run


Born2Run Minnowburn 10k

Well that was a tough one! Tougher than I probably expected too.

Today, I continued to dabble in the wonderful world of trail running with the Born2Run Minnowburn 10k.

The Born2Run series is a succession of races around some of the most scenic locations in Northern Ireland, combining a bit on the road and a lot on the trail. As they say themselves, they are ‘great races in great places’.

I have very limited experience of this type of terrain, only making my debut last month on a run around the Ulster Folk Museum, and then last week at Glenarrif Forest.

The race today was the opening event in their 2017/18 series … and as well as a bit of road, and a lot of trail there was also a smattering of track. The event began on the world renowned Mary Peters Track (MPT) in Belfast, before diverting off into Minnowburn Forest and then finishing back on the track.

I hadn’t run on MPT since my early teens when I very nearly actually won a race (I know, I know!). It was a churchy/youth club event with teams coming from all over the island of Ireland and I have distinct memories of leading the 800m by quite some distance for a lap and three-quarters before being eventually caught by a couple of 20-somethings who were much, much taller than me. I remember them saying to me afterwards that I really made them work for it but they were determined not to be beaten by a kid.

I suppose there was a compliment in there somewhere … if only I had kept up running back then instead of ignoring it until I was old and overweight.

But, anyway, I digress. So what about today?

As I said we started on the track, doing a full lap and I suppose I got a little carried away with the excitement of it all, going off far, far too fast. I paid for it inside the opening kilometre because immediately upon leaving the track we were presented with a not inconsiderable climb, and then another one … and then and absolute brute of one (look at the elevation below, you’ll see what I mean).

Thankfully there was an equally steep drop but that only gave me false hope because there was another every bit as challenging climb waiting just around the corner. I was knackered already and we were only a third of the way in. This wasn’t going to pretty, and, trust me, it got very ugly at times.

Granted, the scenery was amazing in places. We were in Belfast, but we also weren’t. Unfortunately I wasn’t in the mood for taking pictures so there’s very little evidence but it was beautiful. I was just exhausted. My breathing felt laboured, my legs didn’t want to work, I got a bit of stitch … all lovely stuff.

Thankfully, my head didn’t go. Well, almost. As we went through the last bit of forest (I actually wish I’d taken some pics of it, it was the best part of the run) before turning back onto the track the girl that was quite a bit behind me all the way suddenly passed me, and as she did I asked if anyone was behind her and she said there wasn’t. I’ve no idea where she summoned the energy from, although she was running with the tail runner so I presume he encouraged her.

That meant I was actually going to be last! I wasn’t cut adrift by any means, there were a little group of us which I’d kept in touch with doing the usual game of cat and mouse, but on this particular occasion I was at the back which meant I was in the wooden spoon position overall.

That wasn’t going to happen. It might not have been the gentlemanly thing to do (and I do feel bad about it now) but I made sure I went past her again and went as hard as I could manage until the finish. I was cross with myself for allowing this situation to even happen. Perhaps I switched off during the latter part of the race with my mind on another race tomorrow morning. Who knows?

I’m not terribly bothered by my time or my performance. Trail running is a challenge, and it’s something I’m still very much a beginner at so I didn’t go into it with too much expectation.

Anyway, it was a good experience on a number of levels and hasn’t put me off. It’ll also make me a stronger runner – or that’s the plan anyway!

Tomorrow I have the Decathlon Series 10k in another part of Belfast. Thankfully this will be flat (I hope!) so it’ll be interesting to see how ‘easy’ I find it compared to today.

Relive my run

Intervals 01.11.17

So these old intervals sessions mustn’t be that bad considering tonight was my fourth successive week of going to them.

I’ll admit to feeling slightly more nervous about tonight than in previous weeks (apart from the first) because I haven’t been feeling the greatest, and even missed Monday night’s normal club run as a result.

Would my legs have seized up having not run since Saturday morning? Would I throw up halfway through? Lovely stuff, really.

I decided to take it easier tonight just in case, but I felt it was important to go to them because I knew I wouldn’t go running on my own later in the week and, with a race on Sunday, I needed to keep moving.

Tonight was 6×3 minutes with 90 seconds active recovery inbetween – this on top of a 5-minute warm-up run and some dynamic stretches. As usual I was knackered before I even started!

But, happily, it wasn’t too bad. I did find it tougher than previous weeks but that’s likely because I’d pushed myself hard tonight as well as feeling slightly under the weather. I was pleased with my speed given the circumstances.

All in all, it was good to get out, both for the run and the company.

Relive my run