So after the last post finished with me going to breakfast I continue from there.
Breakfast was as perfect as the dinner before. They had cereal, soya milk, fruit and even some gluten free bread I could eat. So I had pretty much what I would have had before a long run at home. We were up and about much earlier than required. Most people who stayed in the hotel with us were up earlier for they had to make there way to the start line of either the ultra or the marathon distance. They were shuttled their by bus at the crack of dawn. Our race wasn’t to start until noon so I decided to walk down to the starting line (about 1/2 km) and have a look. I was surprised to see so many HM racers already there. They too had been shuttled their at the crack of dawn coming by the bus loads with more and more busses arriving every couple of minutes. It was really cold, just a few degree above freezing and I was (privately) thanking my running friend N for her choice of hotel.
Eventually I got back to the hotel and got ready, filled up my hydration pack with apple juice and water mix, packed jelly beans and three gel packs. By 11 it was beginning to get much warmer so I reduced my layers down to a long sleeve and short sleeve, compression socks and cropped trousers and then I was off to the race starting line with N.
I went to the very back of the pack to start. I thought that would be better than running with the bulk.
Just after we crossed the start line N decided/suggested to use the porta loos as there was no cue and neither of us knee when the occasion might arise later during the next 2 hrs. I was rather relaxed about the loss of 3-4 minutes time.
Somehow N and I missed each other exiting the facilities and were pulled apart never to see each other during the race again. That was fine with me it ensure I was going to run my own pace.
I had a fantastic start to the race with my first 7 splits well below 6:40/km despite the climb. I knew the 7 km mark to be my first person hurdle but I was pleased to be able to hold a steady average pace of around 7:00/km for the next 7 km though i did notice the old familiar slight leg drag from km 11ish onward. I was tracking some of my fellow runners and noticed one woman who was doing a combination of walk/running and so I decided to experiment with that, joining her walking the smaller inclines and running the declines. However, it messed with my rhythm and nearly made me limp so I said goodbye to her and continued on with my ‘volvo’ pace. Volvo because it’s slow and reliable – not a spritzy sports car.
The hill from hell (thats what it was called by most people) starts around km 14 and goes on for 4 km, was no bother to the volvo. I dropped a gear and just did it. I had so much energy left when I got to the top that I actually push a few notches harder and did two more fast splits with the fastest pace being below 6:30/km again. I miss judged the distance to the end a bit so I ended up arriving at the finish line exhausted, but relieved and quite emotional. When the commentator over the loud speaker suddenly called out my name I nearly broke out in tears. I really had to fight them back.The video is available on the precisiontiming website, it’s the one that has no time stamp on it and I pass the finish line about 8-7 minute before the end of the clip.
Hydration worked out nearly perfectly. I refuelled throughout the race, added some electrolytes at one of the aid stations which didn’t help because they gave me a stomach cramp, but it was manageable. I kept drinking from my pack had one gel at km 7 and jelly beans during the entire race. I pulled the last bit of drink from my pack just after I crossed the finish line. There were plenty of water bottles available and I had a banana too. I picked up my pack from the truck about half an hour later and had more bananas, some corn cakes and nut biscuits I had baked for the race. At no point was I hungry or thirsty the only thing I should do for the next race is include some salt in my drink.
I did it! I ran my first HM nearly seven years after the stillbirth of my son, 6.5 years after being told I need a transplant (which I don’t need for now) and six years after being diagnosed with MS. The Connemarathon is a massive personal victory. It’s a mile stone on my way to recovery. I won!
I ran this race to prove to myself that I can achieve what I set out to do.
Official time: 2hr 38 min
My recorded time: 2 hr 33min
Total distance: 21.75 km
average pace: 7:30/km (7:03/km my log)
Total ascent: 203 m
That’s about right if you consider the bathroom visit and the time I spent taking off my top, visiting one aid station and tying my shoe laces (twice!)