Category Archives: Races

Run Lisburn 10k

20170621_185447Goodness me, that was a tough one.

The latest race in my calendar was the Run Lisburn 10k, which was part of an overall event including the Northern Ireland Half Marathon Championships. The 10k was also the latest in the season long Novosco Grand Prix series. As such it felt like a big occasion which, indeed, it was featuring around 6000 runners spread across three runs (the other was a 3km fun run).

First of all, the cold hard facts … I finished in 1:20:46, my slowest competitive 10k to date. That disappointed me. Some of my mile splits were on par with the later stages of the marathon. However, I wasn’t the only one, I heard quite a few other people saying the same about their own runs.

But I’m not going to beat myself up over it … there are a couple of extenuating circumstances for that, namely the twin perils of heat and hills. Oh, and throw in a bit of chaffing for good measure – you can use your imagination on that one!

The event was described as ‘fast and flat’. However, as one woman so eloquently put it in her best Jim Royle, “Fast and flat, my f**king arse!”

The hills weren’t huge in the grand scheme of things but, combined with the heat and humidity of the evening, they presented quite the challenge in places.

I don’t know Lisburn at all, so the route was all new to me. There seemed to be a climb just after the first kilometre and then another one just after that, which set the tone for the entire route. I knew then it was going to a difficult run, especially since I was really glad to see the first water stop only a few minutes into the race.

My splits got progressively slower up until the 5k point. My calves were troubling me, the climbs troubled me, the heat troubled me – all combined meant it took me a while to settle into it, longer than I’d have liked.

After the halfway point, however, I began to adapt a little more and my splits started to improve. They still weren’t great, but at least they were going in the right direction.

It was a night when PB’s weren’t an option, it was all about finishing. I wanted to finish well. And I did, out of the 10km splits my final one was my third fastest of the evening, surpassed only by the opening couple as you’d expect.

Despite the time and despite the conditions I was an enjoyable night, I had a good time. I travelled up with a few ladies from the club and, once there, we met up with a fair few other members too. It was nice to be part of the team, to see familiar faces and chat beforehand and analyse things afterwards.

I also bumped into one or two people I hadn’t seen in years from other parts of Northern Ireland and whom I knew only through football, so it was interesting to see them involved with running too.

To conclude, it was tough ‘un, I struggled, lots of other people struggled. It was well organised, it felt like a marathon, the support from the spectators out on the course was plentiful and the encouragement from those already finished in the final 200 yards or so was very welcome, something you don’t always get. Bring on 2018!

Relive my run

Fairhill 5


So tonight I tackled the Fairhill 5, which is basically a five-mile race around my own town centre organised by my running club. My local race, in other words.

I’ve never done well in it. Two years ago, when I’d first started running, I took part in 2.5 mile fun run event, damaged my knees and didn’t run again until August that year.

In 2016 the heat was horrendous, I really struggled on the night and finished second last in what has gone on to be my slowest ever time over five miles.

And this year didn’t bode well either. I’ve been suffering from the dreaded lurgy for the best part of a week. I haven’t been out for a run since parkrun on Saturday morning and have been feeling generally yuck day and night.

So I wasn’t exactly full of confidence going into tonight’s race. I’d spent a decent part of the day in bed, a mixture of feeling sorry for myself and trying to conserve as much energy as possible.

And, I’ll be brutally honest here, I was dreading tonight’s race much more than anything I have done for a long time, even moreso than my two marathon’s! Why? Because I didn’t want to let myself down on my own doorstep. I didn’t want to bring shame on the club shirt. The pressure was all self inflicted but, believe me, it felt real.

Even walking up to registration I was in two minds whether I’d actually compete. But, I figured, I’ll give it a go, maybe the fresh air might clear me up and maybe chatting to people might give me a wee bit of boost.

And that’s exactly what happened. I managed to forget about the lurgy for a while and started to feel better. Then I got word of another little bonus … because of a recent fire in the town centre a small part of the normal route was inaccessible so there had to be a detour around the affected area and, because of that, the start was moved almost to the top of the only real ‘climb’ of note on the route.

I had been dreading that because it comes upon you almost from the start, just at the point I’d normally be sorting my breathing out, but now it wouldn’t be an issue.

Starting the race, I was concerned about how I’d cope. Would my legs work? Would my breathing work? Would my head even work, or would it object as strong as it possibly could and make the rest of the run a living nightmare?

Maybe I should start off slowly and take it from there. That’d be the sensible thing, wouldn’t it?

Hmmm, my first mile was my third fastest ever. So much for being sensible. But I felt ok with it. My body didn’t convulse in horror at being forced to, well, do something.

But I knew I had to slow it down so, spotting the first water station after 2km I decided that’d be a good place to take a drink, regroup and settle into a pace more suited to what I’m used to.

However, this was still a race, and I had definite target in mind so I kept pushing myself a little. It helped massively that this was organised by my own club so, as a result, I knew almost every marshal and every helper. This definitely kept me going. I mean, I couldn’t walk in front of them and show myself up!

Some of them were shouting encouragement, dancing for me, rattling their tambourines, throwing water at me and threatening to stick a rather sizeable umbrella where the sun doesn’t shine if I didn’t get a move on!!!! Thanks ladies!

In fact, the support was superb throughout. It really helps being a member of the club because you knew someone at every turn, a quick word with them as you went past was a real tonic.

It also helped that I fell in with a couple of other runners at my pace. We chatted with and cajoled each other, which came in handy when the going got tough.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t feel 100% but, having said that, I never felt as if I’d really struggled either. On another night, if I was feeling better, I could have performed a lot better.

That said, I achieved my target of finishing inside the hour, so I’m happy with that. Without being ill I would have loved to have gone hard for a pb but I lowered my expectations given how I was feeling. I was also seven minutes faster than last year, so I’ve nothing really to grumble about.

I’ve exorcised my demons with this event. Bring on next year!

Relive my run

parkrun 03.06.17


Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. One of the major rules of parkrun is DFYB – Don’t Forget Your Barcode. So, what did I do today? That’s right, I forgot my barcode!

I don’t often go to parkrun. I absolutely love the concept, but it’s fast (I’m not) and my local event is a 45-minute walk from my house so quite often I just use that time to do the 5k closer to home.

However, occasionally I do go and today was one of those occasions.

This weekend marked the second anniversary of my first ever logged run and my parkrun debut. I went on the same weekend last year so figured it’d be interesting to go again today to see how I’ve progressed over those two years – sort of like an annual report.

I also have traditionally attended parkrun on the Saturday before my local 5-mile race, and since that is this Wednesday I really had no option but to go today.

Although, the fact I did was something of a minor miracle. I’m dosed up with a summer cold. I’ve been sniffling, sneezing and spluttering for the last couple of days and even went back to bed this morning for an hour after getting up to feed the cat.

Normally I wouldn’t have bothered going out but, well, it’s tradition now as I explained.

Even realising halfway there that I’d committed the cardinal sin of parkrun didn’t deter me. I was prepared to grovel and beg for forgiveness but, in the end, it was totally painless … I just gave them my runner number and they sorted it. Big up the Ecos parkrun core team!!!!

So what of the run itself, that’s why you’re here after all!

Because of the lurgy I wasn’t expecting much but, in the end, I recorded my second best parkrun time coming over six minutes faster than this time last year! That can be considered decent progress, can’t it? Better than that, today was also my best ever age graded result. I know it’s only a rough calculation and not to be taken too seriously but I’ll take it!

I started off well, coming in at PB pace for the first two kilometres until at around the halfway point I stopped for some inexplicable reason … I have absolutely no clue why I did it. I mean, I was running along chatting with Chris and Grace and then I just stopped. I don’t recall struggling either, and was actually quite glad of the opportunity to chat because I thought it’d keep me going – maybe I just lost concentration, I don’t know. It’s just one of those things I suppose.

I’m guessing that lapse cost me my PB so it’s something to remember for next time. My last two kilometres were quite pleasing, usually at this point in parkrun I start to struggle a bit but I ploughed on, even tackling the incline just before the finish which I rarely do.

All in all, I’m getting there. Next up is the Fairhill 5 on Wednesday night, my local race. I’ve got a score to settle with it after last year’s disaster …. so, bring it on!