Carlingford Half Marathon

Angela Ross Innes

Attachments9:21 AM (11 hours ago)
to me
07/03 - Carlingford Half Marathon @ 1h55:01
This weekend saw me racing my second half marathon for 2015 up in the beautiful Cooley Peninsula and Carlingford town. For the first time in nearly 5 years, I am once again a sub-2h00 half marathoner!!! I highly recommend this race for 2016 to anyone looking for a lovely setting, great organisation, lively vibe, and just some all-round fun. It's not too far a drive from Dublin, perfect for a day out.
My day started early, having elected to drive in on the day rather than stay over the night before. Predictions were for a lovely warm day (temperatures in the low to mid teens!), if a bit windy still. Thankfully, as I got further north, the wind gusts were not as strong as they were in and around Dublin. It was, however, very overcast in Carlingford, but still mild enough for comfortable running conditions. Ideal really - not hot, not cold: just right!
As is my custom by now, I started just shy of the very back of crowd, as my technique for starting out slow and easy and not running out of steam by halfway. 6:00 minutes per km felt easy and almost slow, and with the rolling hills over the first 5km of the course, I was quite comfortable sticking to this pace, enjoying the scenery, and feeling surprisingly light on my feet and very strong with every step. I'd almost explain the feeling as floating over the ground. I wasn't slowing too much on the climbs, rather I felt strong and was passing people up every incline. I'd glance at my Garmin periodically and adjust my pace to make sure I wasn't starting out too fast. And adjust I had to, all the time, as I just kept speeding up. But I was feeling good, and not after any particular time for this race, just an easy and enjoyable run somewhere below 2h15. 6 months ago this would've been a tough goal, over-ambitious perhaps even, but now this is my easy Half pace. What a difference a few months of solid training can make! 
Eventually I noticed that 2 particular guys were running at around my target pace and decided to try to stick with them for a while. That seemed to work.
From 5km, the hills tapered off and I found my pace dropping significantly (and I left my pace-spotters behind), but I was feeling strong and taking advantage of the gentle downhills and much smaller occasional inclines, so I decided to see what I could make of this race and keep my pace down in the region of 5:30. The wind wasn't too bothersome either, mild gusts but nothing severe. I was still feeling strong and light on my feet and passing a good number of people along the way. Imagine my surprise when I looked at my Garmin again around 12km and noticed that I was dipping below 5:10 pace!!! Still I felt strong and kept going, realising at this point that my overall average pace was around 5:30 and that if I could keep my overall average here I'd be on track for a comfy sub-2h00 for the first time in nearly 5 years. I was still floating past those runners you always find at the races, generally the more inexperienced lads and ladies, who start out too fast and run out of steam later on (I've done this plenty of times myself, and have learnt that lesson by this point).
By 16km I started feeling decidedly less energetic - I'd not taken along any kind of energy gel as I was only planning on an easy run. Pushing myself, I usually take 1 gel at around the halfway mark of a Half Marathon, and that sees me comfortably through the distance. Easy pace I can do without any energy boost. I was starting to regret not taking the gel along as a backup... Nothing for it but to push on. I'm NOT giving up my sub-2h00!!! Somehow I still managed to maintain 5:30 and even 5:25 pace for the last few kms. I was looking at my watch a lot more often, counting down to the finish line, 1/2 km at a time. But I was able to keep moving, keep up my pace, and watched my average dip below 5:30 again. Somehow I found the energy to keep going.
To say I was having a good day would be the understatement of the century! I was on a total runner's high, floating above the ground despite my lack of energy. Smiling and laughing and singing along to my iPod (I rarely have music on the run, but decided for some reason to take it along this time). Still passing people as I went along. Somehow, around the 17km mark, I spotted a guy who'd left me in his dust at the starting line, having started immediately behind me and very quickly disappeared from sight ahead. Spotted him, caught him, passed him, didn't see him again! Wow!
By 20km I was going on sheer willpower. My stubborn streak comes in really handy at times like these - I refused to give up or even slow down. Instead, I targeted the girl who'd just breezed past me: put on a final burst of speed, counting down the remaining distance in 100m intervals (and taking note of the fact that the 20km mark on the road was 100m after my Garmin - so expect an extra 100m at the end, don't blast out the last bit of energy shy of the finish line!), blasted past her and steamed on to the finish line. 1h55:01 according to my Garmin. Official results don't see to be out yet, but I'm more than happy with my Garmin's time :) Not a PB (that honour belongs back in June 2010: 1h53:54), but close. And the first time since that glorious and sunny day that I've broken the 2h00 mark! And only the third time in my life that I've seen the underside of 2h00 on a Half.
Yes, I'm more than ecstatic at my race! :)


On Sun, 8 Feb 2015 at 17:48 Angela Ross Innes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." target="_blank">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> wrote:
08/02 - Enniscorthy 10K @ 52:56 - new PB by 10 seconds!

2015 got off to a great racing start today with my first official race of the year at Enniscorthy 10K earlier today. The day dawned bright and mild and clear, perfect weather for a lovely drive and a run. I left home in good spirits, hoping for an easy 10K recovery run after my long-run on Friday (pre-dawn 26km out in the middle of nowhere, plenty of hills and great views). A few minutes out of Enniscorthy the sun disappeared anrd the temperature dropped right down to 3 degrees, mist thick and low on the ground. No matter, a run is a run and always great fun :-)
So quick dash up to the registration desk to pick up my number (and I got a hat - lovely memento for the day), then a nice easy warm-up run to the starting line. 
As is my habit, I headed straight to the back of the starting crowd. Not the very last one to start, I was still in the last 10% to cross the starting line: less temptation to start out fast and run out of steam halfway. I tend to get lost in the moment and caught up in the vibe too easily, which doesn't do my race any favours. So forcing myself to start slow is my current strategy, and it has worked out very well for me so far. Today was no different.
Starting out at 5:45 per km pace, faster than I'd planned but I was feeling strong and the pace felt easy and maintainable, so I stuck to it. I had to consciously hold back more than once when my feet tried to nudge me  down to 5:30 pace...
After the first 2 or 3km, I was nicely warmed up, and let my legs take a little more control and bring down my pace to 5:30. Which still felt fairly calm and relaxed and just right. The route was lovely, out on the country roads outside of the town. Fresh air, and not as cold as it had seemed at the start. At 5km there was a bit of a hill. Nothing crazy but enough to slow me down a little. I pushed a little here, not wanting to slow too much, and before I knew it the hill was over and I was cruising along again, trying to catch my breath after the burst of effort. Up to 7km there was another bump or two in the gradient, but nothing quite as steep as the first one. Easy cruising up and over: I was feeling surprisingly strong still!! And looking down at my Garmin, I was shocked at the pace I was hitting: 5:15, and below!!!
So, 7km done, 3 to go, and there has to be some downhill after all the climbing done so far, so why not keep going at that pace and see what I can do?? I had been planning on an easy 58 minute 10K, but now it was looking like 55 or 56. I'd managed to sneak in below 55min at the Tipp 10K last year, which I didn't think I'd do today, but might get close anyway. Good enough, considering I was aiming for 58...!
Somewhere before the 5km hill I'd passed a guy in a bright shirt, and he soon caught me again, and we ended up running most of the race together. Little bit of talking, lots of pace-pushing. I think we were both determined not to fall behind. Suited me fine, as this strategy was pulling my pace down to 5:00 and even dipping below at times. Completely unexpected and felt amazing to be moving so fast (for me this was way quicker than my standard 10K pace, even nudging below my standard 5K pace)!!! I was feeling strong and light on my feet and just loving the moment! 8km come and gone, and the pace still blazing! 9km, flying! By this point I was starting to feel the exertion catching up to me, but with less than a km to go I decided to give it all I had and push the last bit. I was no longer checking my pace at this point, but knew I was below 5:00min/km. My eyes were glued to the time: 49 minutes and less than half a mile to go!!! 50 minutes: 600m. 51: 400m... 52: 200m and I can see the finish line. My 10K PB dates back to September 2008: 53:06. I can beat it, but I have to move, move, move!!!!! 100m... 50m... And DONE!!!!!
Check my Garmin and I had to let out a yell: 52 minutes and 56 seconds!!!!! 10 whole seconds off my 6 1/2 year standing PB. And I was still feeling strong. Tired, very tired, but strong enough to use the distance back to my car as a cooldown jog. It felt wrong to walk after that.
After downloading my Garmin logs, I received another very pleasant and unexpected shock: my last 4 splits were at a pace that I'd never imagined possible, especially at the end of a 10K!!

So in all an amazing race, completely unexpected and great fun. I'm still smiling at the memory :-)
I've enjoyed running since I first started back in 2006, but it's days like this that remind me how exceptional the sport can be - how entering my 9th year as a runner I'm still able to surprise myself and achieve new personal records, push myself beyond my perceived limits. This year is going to be a memorable year! Many more boundaries to push, limits to test, goals to achieve. Hello and welcome to 2015!

On Sat Dec 06 2014 at 17:22:43 Angela Ross Innes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." target="_blank">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> wrote:

06/12 - Clonakilty Marathon @ 4:27:53 (New PB!)
l decided to close off this amazing running year with a calm and scenic marathon, and Clonakilty seemed to fit the bill just right: coastal, yet hilly enough to encourage a related pace.
I started out a bit fast as I was feeling strong, and had to force myself to hold back. Long run ahead, and everyone keeps talking about this hill...
Now the route is pretty much 6km out, 6km back, past the finish the line: repeat this 3x in total far 36km. Then out 3 and back for 42. That magical, mystical, revered, feared number.
This meant hill × 3...
So going along, keeping my pace in check, I hit a little hill. Not so bad, this will be easy! Then around the next bend, there it was ,'The Hill'... Oh... That's a real hill! Nothing for it but up and over. The motivational signs posted near the bottom helped: "It's a hill, get over it!". I couldn't help but laugh.
But I did it → up and over. Then a scary-steep downhill, followed by a short and nasty climb. Back to town was a breeze after that.
Repeat 2 more times. Somehow I was able to conquer those hills a little stronger each time. No idea how that was even possible, but I'll take it!
Then that final 'out', knowing that there were no more hills. Only 3km out, then 3 back. I couldn't hold back anymore, I put my feet in control and enjoyed the 'ride'. Cruised the turn-around. Breezed the slight inclines on the final 2miles. Passed a good few runners, to mixed reactions, my favourite being the guy who called out the good-natured 'show-off!' as I raced past.
I really let loose on the last mile. I was all but sprinting past the last corner, and flat out for the home straight, to cheers from the awesome supporters! What a moment! I knew too, by this point, that I had a new PB guaranteed, even with my Garmin measuring the course 400m long.
Ah, what a wonderful moment! And strangely I really WAS taking it easy upto the very last half-lap.
So I'm more than happy with today. Overjoyed more like. The year has ended on a great big high. Race-wise anyway. I will keep running. And running.And running. Too much fun :-)


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