Linda asked me to write a race report for the marathon I ran two weeks ago in Sixmile bridge and I said no I would do it for Connemara as it might be of more benefit to my club mates. Oh boy, I wished I had written it for Sixmile bridge as I had, had a great run in Clare.
I was always a little concerned about yesterday because as with all the Marathon club runs you have to be self sufficient. So we never expect to be supported on the route. Water was my big concern. No shop for 13 miles. This was also my first marathon in awhile where I was heading out to Connemara by myself, no Tony, no Ann, no Bren and definitely no Rita!
I arrived out to Maam cross just after 8am to meet familiar faces. Only 18 runners, 4 women. I made the usual pre race preparations and we all boarded a bus at 8.30am to take us to the start in the Lough Inagh valley. Unbelievably beautiful!
There was no delay here, a quick photo of the group and the lovely Finn O’Mara started the race. Very quickly a group of five of us settled into the first few miles. We had a great chat everything from teenagers, space travel to Mars and how warm it felt. Today we were very very lucky to have Ray O’Connor and Vincent Guthrie on the course so my water concerns were sorted. I shed a layer of clothes plus hat and gloves just after 5 miles. A decision I would regret later.
The turn right to Leenane is at 6.30 miles and I was averaging 9.06 minute miles. That was so not my plan I wanted to go out easy. Maybe the wind at our backs was a factor. I was annoyed with myself. I decided to drop back the pace which meant I was now running by myself with 19 miles to go. Ok I knew this was going to be a possibility and I had planned to totally enjoy the scenery and when all else failed I had my iPod. Everyone talks about the hills in Connemara and they are tough but one of the most spectacular parts of the run for me is the 4 miles downhill into Leenane running alongside Killary fjord. But as Mo Mohawk said to me later “you run into it and walk out of it”. How right he was!
Ray and Vincent were there to meet us in Leenane. I knew at this stage I was going to have a tough day. The legs were heavy, I felt “flat” and I was finding it very hard pushing into the wind. Ray told me to try some coke(the cola kind) and I took a Jaffa cake. So now I was just going to dig in and “gut” it out. I decided to walk the uphills and that was how I got through the second half. Killer hill out of Leenane, run again. Finn joined me for a few miles and we just kept moving forward. By mile 17 I was on my own again. Headphones were in at this stage. A song came on my iPod with the lyrics “isn’t it great, isn’t it grand” and I thought this is s*** but it is great! Killer hill again at 18 miles, walk up, run again and keep pushing into that wind.
Finally the right turn towards Maum cross. I thought wouldn’t people laugh if they thought I was happy to see the “hell of the west” but it did mean I was getting closer to finishing. So I can say that the hard climb starts at 22.5 miles and finishes at 24 miles. It is a long long hill! Here I had a cross wind and was feeling cold. Finally hello mile 24, downhill to Peacocks. I ran and ran and ran and did not stop until I finished. I wanted the run over. Time on the watch was 4.42, which I thought was more than I deserved for the amount of walking I did. I suppose it goes to show that even experienced marathoners get it wrong or thats just how it goes! Tough as it was, would I do it again?? Silly question see you all out there on April 7th!!