On June 21st, I ran the Tralee Summer Solstice 10k,the latest race in the RTK RigBag Championship. This race was started 10 years ago by Born To Run member Jim McNiece, and I’ve wanted to do it since I started running 3 years ago, but I was always injured when it came up, so this was my first time running it.
There was a great buzz around the Brandon Hotel before the start, and lots of familiar faces warming up. We started from the Neil Armstrong Way, and we would be following exactly the same route as the Rotary Club 10k I ran around 6 weeks ago.
I wasn’t expecting much from this outing – after suffering from fatigue and a sore hamstring on the Half On The Head last week, I had taken a week off running, and had done some swimming instead, but I still had residual stiffness in my legs, and didn’t exactly feel full of energy. I decided to ignore my watch and just run this one by feel, and take whatever time came.
Around 120 of us set off in pouring rain. I decided to stay roughly in the middle of the group for the first few miles, and see how I felt. Early on I was concerned that I might regret wearing a light running top in the heavy rain, but it turned out to be the right choice – it never felt cold, and was in fact quite warm and humid.
As we left town and headed towards Blennerville, I felt this was probably going to be a fairly slow one – I certainly didn’t feel like I had a spring in my step, and the pull up Strand Road felt like hard work.
I did pass quite a few people in the first couple of miles, but I thought I’d probably be seeing a lot of them again before the end. As we passed over the bridge into Blennerville, I used the slight descent to put on a bit of a push, and tried to keep the momentum going. That worked for a while, but after the village, and the long straight to Tonevane, I really started to feel the pace. At this stage, one or two runners I knew passed me, and I wondered if I was getting really slow. I deliberately ignored my watch, and ran at a pace that felt like I could sustain.
At the halfway point, I was still suffering a bit, and still thought I was going slow, but decided not to worry about it, and just concentrate on finishing as strong as I could.
At around 4.5 miles, we hit the long downhill section coming into Ballyard, and it felt much easier on the legs. The hamstring pain I’ve had in my last few races had been bothering me for the last mile or so, and, although it wasn’t bad enough to slow me down, it did worry me a little.
As we approached the big hill after Tralee Rugby Club, I was passed by two more runners, but I knew that I would probably reel them back in on the hill. When we hit the hill, with around a mile to go, I finally began to feel strong, and not only passed the two runners who had overtaken me, but also passed another runner who had been well ahead of me for the whole race. At the top of this hill we were straight onto the steep descent of Ballyard Hill, and on the home straight. Ballyard Hill can be treacherous at times, and with the heavy rain it was even more so than usual. I took it carefully going down, and made sure I didn’t end up faceplanting on the tarmac. After that, it was a few hundred meters through a roundabout, and back to the finish line in front of the Brandon.
As I came over the finish line, I glanced at my watch, and saw that I was just under 55 minutes. That should have registered with me, but didn’t at the time. When I chatted with other runners I knew about how it had gone, my response was “OK, tough enough”. It was only when I got home and uploaded my time, that I realised that my time of 54:57 was a new 10k PB for me! I am really delighted with this – I ran the whole race without ever checking my time or pace, and, although I found it tough, I never realised that it was because I was running it fast.
Well done to all the runners, and to Marcus, Jim and company for another great race.
It was great to meet some of the runners I haven’t seen for a while, especially those, like Karen, who are back from injury, and it was nice to see the Kerry Crusaders and MCI members who came dressed in polka dots to raise awareness for Lewy body dementia.
Thanks to Poshey for the photographs.
I’m looking forward to next weekend, and the Camp 10 Mile Trail Run – I really enjoyed that last year. Not so much looking forward to the 6 hour ultra training run I have the following day!