After last week's minor injury scare, I very much doubted that I'd be up for the Leinster twenty mile running race held at the N.S.C. on Sunday.
However, the combining miracles of frozen peas and the human body contrived to get me to the starting line.
What was I doing competing in such a race? Well contrary to rumours that I was just entering to wind up certain a certain individual who don't seem to like walkers 'cheating' by doing the runs, it was the perfect distance for me as a prelude to the National 50k race in Stockton on 27 April which is my main goal at the moment.
I suppose that pressure is only what you make it yourself but it was actually quite relaxing, knowing that I was to be the only walker in the race and although I did have anything 'sub 3 hours' at the back of my mind, it really was case of getting the miles in on my feet in a race situation.
The number of times I am reiterating this point is probably becoming boring now but although many athletes abhor the N.S.C. perimeter track for its lack of interest, to me it's brilliant because you are easily able to monitor your pace and it would have been very silly of me to race after the faster runners in the early stages.
Luckily for me, I had a long battle with Alan Pilling (who really does give truth to the 'more races than hot dinners' saying) and looking today at my 'Garmin' sports watch we really set consistant lap times.
The other bonus of circulating around 'The Bowl' is that you see the other competitors on a regular basis and you are able to almost 'spectate' on the sharp end of the battle. Not that anyone was coming anywhere near Nigel Armstrong who was clearly in a class of his own despite running a 2:50 marathon less than a month ago.
To achieve three hours, you have to lap in 4 minutes thirty seconds or to put it another way do 9 minute miles and my plan was to do this for the first two hours and then see what I had left. Although I tried to accelerate for the last 10k, the question was answered quite simply by 'Not a lot' and I was unable to maintain the extra speed, though I didn't quite ruin my race by not being able to hang on in at my earlier pace.
The last few laps is certainly a slog in such a race but it was mentally easier for me because by this stage I was catching a few runners and even unlapping myself on occasion.
My final time was 2:57:59 (so much better than 2:58) and I finished with a last lap of nearly 14km/h to complete the 20 miles in 20th place out of 34 starters and 30 finishers.
As I mentioned on the the Forum, the real heroes of these events are the organisers, lap scorers, timekeepers, feeding table operatives (how's that for a bullshit title but I couldn't think of another) and Brenda Charlton who I think made me about 15 cups of tea. In fact Brenda, Sean Hands, Bridget Kaneen, Judy Morrey and Marie Jackson(sorry if I've missed somebody out) deserve special mention as that was their second weekend on the trot.