It is amazing how time flies. Another year has passed and the Mallow 10Mile road race has come around again. I have been doing a bit more in the way of training this year and I hoped to beat the time I set last year of 71mins 54. Last Wednesday I decided to do a good long run and set off for Glantane and turned right up the hill for a run I have done often enough before. I did a roundabout route through Dromohane and back home. 12 miles in all but for the last three I was suffering a fair bit of pain from the hamstring on my right leg. It has been tight for a good while but today it felt like it was going to snap but I had to get home so I continued on. I ended up doing the run in 85 minutes but I was worried that I had done some damage. The considerable aching pain I had that evening did little to reassure me but by the following day things had improved and they continued to do so over the next couple of days. I went for a couple of gentle jogs with Ruby on Bweeng Mountain and Mount Hillary on Friday and Saturday and the leg felt like it was loosening out a bit. As I was working nights I took the opportunity to leave from work and head for a climb on the Galtees.
The day was dry and chilly as I set off from the Coillte car park on the north side of the range. The objective for this morning was the Clydagh Valley Horseshoe. This is a nice outing of approximately 13K in length and 1100mtrs of ascent. It was bang on 8am when I left the car. I decided to do the route anti-clockwise today for a change and head for Knocknanuss and over Slievecushnabinnea and on to Galtymore. The steep slog up Knocknanuss is a bit of a leg burner but the expanding views across the valley more than make up for it. Soon enough the gradient eases but as I went higher so did the biting wind. Heading along the ridge towards Galtymor there was no doubt that hat and gloves were required. Above 800meters there was a coating of hoare frost on the grass which reminded one (if one needed reminding today) that winter was not gone yet.
I was walking strongly and the hamstring wasn't giving any trouble so I was enjoying myself immensely. A layer of cloud veiled the summit so there was no reason to delay and I descended out of the biting cold to the col under Galtybeg. There is a real problem now on the Galtees with damage caused by the thousands that visit there mountains and the ever widening scars caused by hikers is becoming more and more of a eyesore. Progress is at best mucky and I fear that it is only a matter of time before someone falls to their death from a steep mucky patch above Lough Diheen. All the way to the summit of Galtbeg the ground is mucky but thereafter the descent to the col under Cush is OK. I actually ran about two-thirds of this and continued to set a brisk pace for the 180meters to the top. Again I ran down to the level shoulder under it and walked the rest of the way to the car. The day was now sunny and clear and low down the temperatures were very pleasant. I arrived back at the car exactly 3hours after I started and well happy with my outing.
And so the day arrived for the run. I had been looking forward to this for a while and I was hoping that my hamstring would not come against me too much. There was a huge entry this year with 1100 online and another couple of hundred turning up on the day. This meant that the start was quite congested and again I stayed too far back so after the gun for the start went I was just shuffling for a bit and had to duck and weave my way past many before I could settle into a decent run. This meant that I was 7mins 40 seconds doing the first mile and I was going to have to really speed up if I was going to come near my target of 70minutes for the race. I ran the next three miles at an average of 6mins 40 so passing the four mile marker I was back on track with a bit to spare. We were now running into a stiff headwind but I managed to maintain a seven minute mile for the next two. Between miles six and seven there is an uphill section and as fatigue was now becoming a factor I lost a fair bit of time here and was back outside target again. One good thing was that while the hamstring was quite tight it never pained me so I was able to push on. I would love to say that the last three miles passed in a blur but no, I remember them as an aching lung busting twenty minutes that I was very glad to see the end of. The pacemaker for seventy minutes had passed me at the seven mile mark and steadily drew away from me as we re-entered the town, so I was resigned to just missing my target. It was with delight that as I neared the finish line I could see the clock count down towards the seventy minutes. A final push over the last fifty meters saw me cross in 69minutes 54seconds. Not much under the seventy but seeing that sixty nine next to my name meant the world to me. I was fatigued but delighted but I am wondering what my target should be for next year, dare I dream of sub sixty five???.