10am, Saturday morning, Chesterfield Avenue in the Phoenix Park in Dublin on the 3rd weekend of every August, there be horses, deer, a zoo, some eager parents with their brood in tow and there be the Frank Duffy 10 Mile race. I love this race. I say this about a lot of races but that shouldn’t in any way de-value my particular love for this race. This race holds a special place in my heart because it was the first race over 10km I ever did when I first started into running properly and was training for my first marathon. In fact, it was the first and only race I did that was over 10km before I did the marathon. In hindsight, that was probably an unwise thing to do but on the flipside, I benefitted from blissful ignorance in not having gone through a half-marathon first, at the end of which distance I always think “Jesus, if I were doing a marathon, this would only be half-way!” It has also meant that since then, I have always viewed the marathon and the half as entirely different races, rather than one that is simply a build-up to the other. Make sense?
Saturday was a perfect day for a run. It was dry, warm and not much wind. The first time I did this race there was thunder, lightning and a downpour of rain. Much better start to the day! I had no real plan for the race, other than that I knew I had been completing my 10 mile runs in or about 1:30 in the last few weeks so I reckoned I could probably get in around 1:25. My 10 mile PB, which I recorded at this race last year, was 1:27:30.
I headed out in the first wave, which was billed for those aiming to make 80 minutes. Despite trying to discipline myself not to overdo it in the first few miles and just relax into the run, I ended up running the first 2 miles too fast at 7:33 and 7:38 respectively. I thought I had dealt with this urge in the last few races I did but there it was again rearing its ugly head! After that, I consciously forced myself to slow it down as I knew my quads would seize up and start screaming at me long before the finish line if I didn’t.
Down Chesterfield Avenue, around by the Lord’s Walk, the North road and then a turn at Castleknock Gate to turn back down Chesterfield Avenue made up the first half of the course. The first 5 miles were a drag, I’m not even gonna try and hide it. I just wasn’t feeling it. I felt fatigued, lethargic and just sapped of all energy. But I’m typically a late starter so I just kept plodding along and eventually around mile 6, sure enough my legs started to feel good and I was able to keep a nice, comfortable pace. Miles 6 and 7 brought us back down the avenue before turning off and heading out the Chapelizod Gate onto Conyngham Road. From there, we ran along the outside of the park, past the Garda Boat House (where there was super support from the Gardai!) before turning back into the park through the Knockmaroon Gate. I enjoyed this part of the route and was able to keep banging away at a nice pace, greatly helped by some nice runners around me who, with their good, steady running style, encouraged me to keep up with them.
You know how there are hills and then there are hills. There are lots of little nifty running slogans that tell you as a runner, you should view a hill as a “mound of opportunity”. Or that “this hill don’t have nothing on you”. Another great one is “Let Your Downhills Carry You Uphill”…. mmm, this last one in particular, I struggle with. So there we were, just after coming back into the park with just over one mile to go and there it was. That hill. She be long, she be a climber and she be a killer at any time, never mind at the end of a 10 mile race. I nearly cried when I saw it, not kidding. From the beginning of the race, I had been wondering when this hill would pop up but by the time we had gotten to mile 9, I had convinced myself that there wouldn’t be enough distance left in the race to include this hill. I was wrong. My bad.
It was tough but as there was no other option, I just toughed it out and did my best with it. On the plus side, there was less than half a mile remaining by the time we reached the top of the hill. One man in front of me did a triumphant (albeit a tired one!) fist pump upon reaching the top. Fair play. I did likewise on the inside. Down the Furze road and over the finish line for a finish time of 1:23:07.
My auntie was also running the 10 mile on Saturday, her first race over 10km. She looked as cool as a cucumber coming over the line, like she did this all the time. Great stuff and looking forward to seeing her over the finish line at the Dublin Half-Marathon in September, which will be her first.
In the end, my time was actually okay and I knocked 4 minutes 23 seconds off my personal best. It’s just a pity that the first half of the race felt like such hard work. I rested the day before, I ate the right foods and I had a decent night sleep but somehow I just felt tired and fatigued. Maybe it’s random, maybe it’s down to my body cycle or things happening inside my body that I don’t know about, or maybe it’s because of something related to my training. I don’t know. All I do know is that with running, some days are great and other days are just hard work. I also know that if you want great days, you have to put in those days of hard work and just get it done. I improved my PB over 10 miles by 4.23 on Saturday. Done. 😉