The Irish Runner 5 Miler race marks the first race of the Dublin Marathon Race Series and represents the starting point on the road to completing the big M on the October bank holiday Monday. Always the last weekend in June, this race has become a regular in my summer season and typically marks the beginning of a summer of racing, with this generally being the shortest of the lot. There’s always a big crowd for the 5 mile and today was no different.
The sun was shining, there was a light breeze and people were excited. It was a perfect start for the race series and I could feel the excitement in the air. At bang on 10am, the first wave was let off, with the two subsequent waves following shortly after. I went in the first wave, which was marked “under 40 minutes”, not being entirely committed at the time to actually finishing in under 40 minutes, but I thought there might be vague possibility so really I just hopped in here to get a mental boost on the off chance that I might make it. I’ve never gotten under the 40 minute mark for a 5 mile race before. Like much of my running story from last year, I think I did manage to make it during a tempo run session one day but failed to get there and register an official time in last year’s Irish Runner 5 Mile race, where I recorded a 41:41. Hence, I was sceptical about doing any better than this time today. But to be honest, I wasn’t that bothered either way – in my head, I said to myself to just do like I had done for the Mini Marathon, that is, don’t go out too fast and don’t force the pace. Just sit back into it and let it come out.
The first mile flew by and my watch said 7:15, which was a bit too fast if I was going to have any chance of retaining a decent pace for the last 2 miles. I tried to ease off a tad but found that I seemed to be unconsciously pushing a bit too hard, with my quads starting to feel a little tight. The course in the Phoenix Park took us through miles 1 and 2 on the flat and then downhill for most of the third. Sadly, I knew what was coming. I had forgotten to check out the race route in the park the night before but was silently hoping, against the odds, that it would avoid the climb up the back of the park and the long, gradual hill that wraps back towards Chesterfield Avenue. Yep, I lost that bet. After heading downhill through the 3rd mile, we were face up the steep climb through the fourth and then on towards the long climb which brought you into the last mile. This is tough going. You feel like you’re doing not too bad and perhaps on pace, then they stick in a few killer hills in the latter half of the race and it’s a real challenge. I had forgotten, but this is usually what happens to me in this race – I’m doing fine but then upon being greeted by these hills in the last 2 miles, my pace and any dreams of making a good time go out the window. It typically becomes all about just hanging in there and grinding it out to the finish line.
My prior experience of these roads may have been to my advantage today however because I knew how long the hills were, where there were breaks, etc., so I tried to relax as much as I could going up the hills and again, not force it. I ended up running the last 2 miles in 8:04 and 8:06, which were slower than ideal and slower than the first three miles but given the climbs, I wouldn’t be too miffed. And did I really care when I crossed the finish line in 39:11? Hell no! Done and done, my friends. That’s a PB for me and another milestone breaking 40 minutes.
Splits: 7:15; 7:30; 7:49 ; 8:04 ; 8:06
Good month so far, with 2 new PBs and breaking 50 for the 10km and now 40 for 5 miles. I’m smiling all the way to my coffee and cream cheese sesame bagel. 😀 (smiling with cream cheese all over my happy face!)
(not actually me…!)
This is always a really well organised race and is one of the reasons it attracts such a crowd every year. Hassle-free registration, with race numbers (chipped) sent out to every competitor in the post one week prior to the race; flawless execution of the event on race day itself, including the gun going off on time, minimal congestion and a witty finish line M.C; and all yours for a bargain price (65 for all 4 races; 50 eur0 for 3; 115 for the marathon AND 3 races; other options available). But all this aside, what I really appreciate is a good finish line. Water, food, goody bags and bag drop – all lined up and ready to go to make it as easy (and handy) for runners as possible.
These guys know what they’re doing. Today when I crossed the finish line, I was immediately handed a goody bag (t-shirt inside), then walked on to the next table where I picked up a banana and an apple, then on to the next table where I picked up my bonus gift (a mug!), then water and then the bag drop was at the end of the chute. It’s so simple but so often missing from events and it makes such a difference when you come over the line and everything you need is just lined up, awaiting you. Very thoughtful peeps at the Dublin Marathon Race Series.