Monday, December 31, 2007

Objective: Achieved

To an outsider, it might seem slightly crazy. To my family, it seems insane. Yet to the 50 or so individuals standing at Kilmacanogue on Thursday, it seemed perfectly reasonable.
Being so near to Christmas, and in the off season, everyone seemed pretty cheerful and no one appeared to be taking it seriously - until the gun went off on the 2nd Charles Barrington Memorial Race. The all hell broke loose.
As it was my first race and I knew very few people other than the very fast, and the not quite as fast I decided to line up towards the rear of midpack with Rachel, despite her urging me forward...should really have listened...Once the gun went I noticed that the top 15 or so took off up the tarmac at decent speed, but everyone else seemed to mingle about in a pack together, despite there being singletrack from 200m right the way up. As I was feeling good, I tried to drift towards the front and found myself in about 20th entering the slippy, muddy singletrack. My shiny new runners, which marked me out as fresh meat, were completely filthy 300m in! Probably lent me some credibility :-)
After a few hundred metres, I was feeling great and the HR was nice and low and I was sitting in a pack of 5, just behind the top 10 or 12, whom we could see were starting to stretch out ahead. Time to do something! One by one, picking off fit looking people who were coming to a standstill. Talking to Alan Ayling afterwards, he remarked that I seemed to be sprinting when everyone else was walking, and passing an EPIC jersey did feel good :-) Now the HR was climbing fsater than I was but just kept the head down and focused on the guy in front. Colm Mullen, the winner passed me on his way down just as I got to the foot of the final scree slope, with Peter and Eoin Keith chasing down like a pair of hares after him. I caught 1 more on the scramble to the summit, then let go of the brakes for the nice long descent back to the finish, fully expecting anyone to come charging past, as I had noticed that Fergal can easily outpace me on the descents in training. As it happened, no one caught me, but I didn't catch the duo in front either, despite the vocal applause from a few walkers en route.

1st run, 122% of winner, 9th place.
Happy with that.
The primary goal was to be inside 125% and set a good benchmark for the season ahead, hitting a top 10 was a bonus really :-)
Looking forward to lots more in the New Year....