Decisions, decisions

I still haven’t decided whether or not to enter the Kells & Connor Charity Running Festival 5-mile race tomorrow. It’s a local race – the second in less than a week – so it would make sense for me to take advantage of something virtually on my doorstep.

However, it’s a relatively small event, spread over four events – a Half Marathon, 5-mile Run, 5-mile Walk and 5k Fun Run – so the field for each race will be quite small ….. and a small field means only one thing, I’ll be last.

At the time of writing the 5-mile Run only has 22 entries, although no doubt the numbers will increase a bit in the morning, but still not enough to keep me from getting a slap on the arse from the proverbial wooden spoon.

The only consolation is that all the events finish at the same place so I should complete my run in the middle of the half marathon field ….. and it’s that, and only that, that’s tempting me to enter. I’d also like to support the organisers considering they come from the same club as me.

Anyway, with tomorrow morning in mind, I decided to go out for a gentle 5k tonight. My last couple of 3.1’s have been amongst my best ever but I knew I couldn’t do that this time, I needed to conserve my energy for Kells.

To that end I deliberately decided to go for 5/2 run/walk splits, just to keep things easy …. and it actually worked out quite well, in the end.

The first couple of reps were quite frustrating and painful because my legs objected a lot to being forced into a walk after five minutes running when they were still warming up. In fact, it must have looked as if I’d forgotten how to walk because I’m pretty sure my feet were ‘clomping’ but this settled around the halfway point in the run.

After that I just abandoned the 5/2 splits and just ran on for the finish, ignoring the buzz on my wrist from my Garmin to revert to walking. This was quite reassuring for a couple of reasons – the fact I felt quite comfortable doing it, almost running within myself and also that I managed to ignore the walk alerts.

I felt at the end that I could easily have kept going, but as much as I’d liked to have done I knew I needed to save myself for the morning. I mean, it’ll not stop me coming last but at least I might feel happy with my run despite my finishing position.

Online entries for Kells have closed, so I’ll make a final decision overnight and just sign up in the morning if I have to.

Relive my run

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Broughshane 10k

I went into tonight’s Broughshane 10k not really expecting much. Despite my best intentions I’d only run once since last week’s jaunt up to the Brighton Marina so I knew tonight would have been quite the struggle … or at least I feared that’d be the case.

The reality was a bit different. Beforehand. I had two objectives, namely don’t come last and be relatively pleased with my performance. With that in mind I suppose I can write tonight off as a guarded success.

Weather wise it had been an interesting day. Lots of thunder, lightning and heavy rain earlier in the afternoon and more forecase for exactly the time of the race but, come the start, it was a glorious summer evening, a perfect night for a run.

The start was also the most picturesque I’ve experienced to date, beside a river and in landscaped grounds, befitting of Broughshane’s status as the ‘Garden Village of Ulster’.

It was also uphill. Ok, it was only a little rise but it was still strange to run uphill at the start of a race … thankfully it then dropped quite steeply before going onto the main road through the village.

Of course that meant I went off far too quickly – my fastest opening kilometre since I started measuring runs with a Garmin …. and we all know what that means. True to form I felt the pace after the first mile and, perhaps, my lack of running recently came home to roost.

I ran with a group of ladies from the club for a while, which was good, but the pain in my legs meant that I wasn’t quite able to keep up. I had them in my sights all the way round the course but I just couldn’t catch them.

However, after a couple of miles, I was joined by Mairead – one of the two tailrunners – who offered to run with me the rest of the way. I was most appreciative of this because the company was good, and the chat kept me focused on something else other than my legs, comparing running stories and experiences.

She also kept me going when otherwise I might have stopped plus there was the added incentive of the other tailrunner encouraging a couple of others behind us … they were about a minute further back, but we could hear them and there was no way I was letting them catch us!

The course, as it left Broughshane, turned into a bit of trail which was a new experience for me but, at the same time, was a bit of fun.

After a short while we were back on good old tarmac but then the heavens opened! And how they opened! It was torrential – and there was some good old thunder and lightning thrown in for good measure – but I didn’t mind, not really. In fact, I had more sympathy for the poor marshals being stuck out in it waiting for us slow coaches to pass.

Up to a certain point quite late on in the run I was on course for a PB. It didn’t happen due to a couple of quite steep hills that I just walked up but, as I said at the outset, as long as I was happy with my performance tonight then I wasn’t going to worry too much.

By and large I was happy. Maybe not because I went off too quick but, timewise, it was amongst my quickest competitive 10k, and faster than my last three races, although still someway off my PB.

Well done to everyone who ran tonight in those conditions, and many thanks to Mairead for helping me round. I hope I didn’t complain too much!

Relive my run

Being at one with nature (almost!)

I’m in Brighton at the minute, a city renowned for being one of the cultural hubs of England, a city where anything goes, where no-one cares who you are or what you do.

So, with the sea air in my nostrils and a spring in my step, I got up at the ridiculously early hour of 6am and went for a run to a nudist beach, as you do.

Well, that wasn’t my intention, but that’s where I ended up. My plan was to run from my hotel to the marina, little did I know where it’d take me!

Coming out of the hotel, I have two options – turn left towards the marina or turn right towards the Pier. I’ll do the Pier run some other morning before I go home but, for today, it was the marina, as much to explore what’s up there as to go somewhere different … I’d walked around the Pier area yesterday.

Rather fittingly, no sooner had I crossed the road to get onto the seafront I ran into a statue of Steve Ovett, a renowned son of Brighton and former Olympic gold medal winner, world record holder and all-round decent runner 😉 …… well, I didn’t quite ‘run’ into it – that would have been silly – but I had literally only gone a few yards when I saw it.

After stopping for a quick pic, I headed onwards towards the marina – or where I thought the marina was, I was running on instinct – and immediately encountered lots of other runners. That was brilliant. I love that. Normally, at home, it’s just me out and about on my own, but this morning there seemed to be someone every 30 seconds or so. Fantastic!

On I went before, much to my surprise, I spotted the sign for the naturist beach. The what now? I’m a simple country boy from County Antrim, I know not of such things!

The beach seems to be concealed behind a mound to keep it from view but could I resist a wee run up the pebbles to the boundary signs to see what I could see? Of course I bloody well couldn’t!!!!!!

Much to my relief (I think!) it was deserted …. well, what would you expect at that time in the morning? I know it was bright and sunny but even the most foolhardy of naturists would be mad to get their bits out that early!

Onwards, however, to the marina. As you might expect, it was full of boats and yachts and so on. The more I ran around it, the poorer I felt. This really is a place for the rich, famous and well off to hang out, not a street urchin like me!

After a quick lap of a bit of the marina I turned to come back and spotted, along the boardwalk, the Brighton Walk of Fame, much like the famous one in Hollywood. All the Brighton greats were there ….. Winston Churchill, Graham Greene, Kevin Rowland, Steve Ovett, Abba.

Wait! What? Abba? Honest, there’s a plaque there to Abba, that well known Brighton band. A quick search later showed they won the Eurovision Song Contest in the Brighton Dome in 1974, so I suppose they count.

Anyway, I turned back for my hotel, past the naturist beach again but I couldn’t resist stopping for a quick selfie. Thankfully, the area was still suffering from a lack of human bits so I did my business (the pic, the pic!!!!) and moved swiftly on before I was spotted.

An altogether pleasant wee morning run. I’ll do the Pier run later this week, I’m looking forward to it already.

Relive my run