The Marine Climb, Friday, 8th August, 2014.
I spoke with Michael Deegan before this evening’s race. We were discussing technology. Michael explained the wonder of an industrial machine being repaired remotely. A technician can log on to the connected machine and tweak the settings without the expense of a call-out. It reminded me of a trucker’s story. Apparently, when crossing the Alps, a driver carrying a heavy load can dial up and download extra horsepower. It can be expensive, so it is bought only for the minimum time needed, perhaps an hour or two.
For the Marine Climb, runners could do with a bit of pre-paid horsepower! Some might need it for perhaps only forty minutes, whereas those at the back of the field might be happy to pay over the odds for any magic that would bring them from Dungarvan to Pulla to lessen time sore muscles need to work beyond exhaustion.
This is race number ten in the 2014 WWAC Summer Racing Series. It is the tenth evening of wonderfully-organised running here in County Waterford, on the SE Irish coast. (I’m writing more and more for an international audience, wouldn’t ya know?) Following a deluge of summer thunderstorms during the morning and early afternoon, the “Lookout” was bathed in warm sunshine for the 7.30pm starting gun. One foot above sea-level. Christy set us off on our merry way through the town and out the Cork road. There was plenty chit-chat, and some serious advice on offer, and because this was my first attempt at this tough event, I was more than happy to soak it all in. Go easy. Steady up. Save yourself for later. Made me feel like a running virgin, it did! Of course, deep down, I knew that all this expert advice was a result of experience, and I’d be a fool to ignore it.
Mile 1: nice and easy. Have the craic. Talk to the usual suspects. Mary’s doing this race next week, Johnny is doing that one. I made a point of thanking Ger Wyley, who was marshalling the roundabout at the top of Mary Street. Onwards then to the edge of town. My buddy Kevin took time out from a busy schedule at Statoil to be there to skoot me on faster. In fact, the large number of spectators made this race easier. There’s no doubt about it…a kind encouraging word works wonders! Time: 9:30. That’s ok. Perfect pacing.
Mile 2: I did notice that I was about three or four yards ahead of a few buddies, and it was decision time. Up ahead, at about thirty yards, I noticed a group of about four, and I ignored all my pre-race plans and moved closer bit by bit. There’s a slight rise along the seafront after Statoil Daybreak garage, and it’s not the place or the time to be a hero. It took me a full mile and a bit to close the gap. Pace: 9:34. Feeling good.
Mile 3: On the downhill section to Killongford Bridge, I lengthened my stride, and stood tall. I did not push hard, as I was well aware of the serious hill ahead. A hard short incline got me to ring Cross with elevated heart-rate, where I was once again guided safely across traffic by Ger. “It’s easier to drive this”, I mentioned. Hard to argue with that, says Ger! And thus, it began! The lower slopes of the Drum Hills. The mile marker ahead was hidden in slanting evening sunlight, and when I did arrive I was quite pleased that the first half of the race had gone pretty much to plan. Pace: 9:43. T0tal to there = 28:47. Knowing that I’ve not had a run since Ballymac two weeks ago, and my previous 8:45 pace of necessity slipped back towards my jogging 9:30 pace, I was exactly where I expected to be!
Mile 4: There was approx 175 feet of climbing on this mile and I was on my own. I knew that I would lose lots of time if I lost my focus, and therefore the easiest way to keep a good pace was to push on a bit harder and watch my heart-rate. My legs felt good. Again, there was a group of about six ahead of me, but in fact they were making good headway. Then guess what happened? I was a good thirty yards behind approaching the water station at the four mile marker, and some of them actually stopped to drink. Before I could say “Bob’s your Uncle”, I was right on their heels! Pace: 10:19. Very happy with that. Average HR 157, and feeling that I might be able to push on a bit and hopefully hold it to the finish.
Mile 5: The toughest mile, I think. Once again, it was made easier by virtue of the many locals out cheering us along. Similar rise again at approx 180 feet. What suits me however, is that the gradient is constant. No really steep sections, followed by easier bits. It’s a course for endurance over power. Speaking of which, I passed Onra Power and Linda. Onra’s gonna kill me for quoting this, but comments on the course are part-and-parcel of what makes a race memorable! As I passed, and offered a word of encouragement, Onra said to her running-mate “Now, you’ll be in one of his stories”, referring of course to this blog. You see, word is getting out there that I’m doing a blog, and secretly perhaps many want to be in there!!! I was chuffed at the comment, but was unable to reply in person as my mind was yards ahead of my legs. I was feeling good, and pushed a bit harder again before arriving at the N25 Cork road junction. The section to the lay-by hurt me more as I attempted to close another gap. Finally, the turn-off at the top of the hill appeared, 560 feet above sea-level. The “Lookout” seemed a long way back, now!. Again, I want to mention that stewarding along by the Seanchaí was top-class, and traffic was halted for our safety. Finally, I upped my pace to race the much-anticipated downhill, a full half-mile of bliss that turned to torture as I attempted to pass myself out. I passed Geraldine Barry, who seemed shocked that my Ballymac buddy Tricia was not with me! Geraldine & I had mentioned before the start that we might likely be running together for much of the evening. Geraldine was having none of it, though, and was out of sight quite early on. As I pushed on at my best sprint, I realised that I was not able to hold it. Sure, I know why, as I’ve been biking rather than running between races! I had Denise Nugent just ahead of me, but when I tried to catch her, my legs gave way. Or, to be precise, my lungs and my legs! Final mile: 8:13 Elevation: approx 80 feet for half mile, then similar downhill to finish.
Overall time: 57:28
Verdict: Really pleased with that.
Target for 2015: with similar conditions, I’ll hit 55:00. Now, there’s a good solid goal!
Stewarding: Excellent, as per usual
Value for money: €5.00 to borrow a phrase…sure, where would you get it?
An athlete who caught my eye? My neighbour Noelle Conway. Noelle is another back-of-the-pack runner. She epitomises what running can be all about. Give it a good shot. Remember you’re not 21 any more, and enjoy the occasion. I admire you Noelle. Keep it going, girl! Separately, Noelle had been on the old railway track at the final kilometre of the Dungarvan Triathlon course at the end of June. (My first triathlon…even I gotta go back to check it out!) While a large crowd had gathered at the finish line, Noelle was about half a mile back. She was there to cheer on her husband Joe. In fact, she clapped, shouted and encouraged everybody. Not just ordinary, normal cheering support. She did, in fact, go the extra mile, showing obvious delight in seeing a tired athlete respond (myself included)!
Official results here and club race report to follow.
For my international readers, some small parts of Ireland still use the native Irish language, Gaelic. Tonight’s run brought us to one such location, and I was thrilled to get a few feedback tweets as Gaeilge…
Chun crioch a chur leis an scéal seo, fuaireas cupla “tweets”, agus ós rud é gur i nGaeltacht na nDéise a bhíomar anocht, phiocas an cheann seo:
— Cabríní de Barra (@Cabrinid) August 9, 2014
Finally, finally: the lyrics of “Climb Every Mountain” from the Sound of Music struck a chord with me. (Struck a chord, get it? God, I’m sharp! There I go again!) In many ways, mountains and obstacles to be overcome and difficult life situations, require passion, determination and other admirable qualities, in much the same way as running does. Following my dream is important to me, and this evening’s tough run was part of the journey!
Climb every mountain,
Search high and low,
Follow every byway,
Every path you know.
Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
‘Till you find your dream.
A dream that will need
All the love you can give,
Every day of your life
For as long as you live.
Páraig / Pat