On Sunday I ran my third Rose of Tralee 10k. This is one of my favorite short races, as it coincides with the International Rose of Tralee Festival, so has great support, and a real festive atmosphere.
As has become a bit of a tradition, many of my Born to Run buddies dress up in elaborate evening wear for the race, though not me! I was happy enough to run in singlet and shorts, and hoped to get somewhere near my recent 10k PB of 54:57.
All the runners gathered at Tralee Wetlands for the usual pre-race pictures and banter and everyone seemed to be in great form. There were a few charity groups running this, and quite a few first-time 10k runners. Reigning Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh was also running, and she was kept busy getting her picture taken and signing autographs. Maria has been the most impressive winner of the Rose of Tralee I remember – a brilliant ambassador for Tralee and Ireland.
We set off at 11am, and almost immediately, I realised I’d made the rookie mistake of standing too far back from the startline, and had to spend most of the first Kilometer weaving in and out of the crowd to get past slower runners. We ran around the south western edges of the town centre, before setting off up the slight incline of Caherslee, before looping around the Mounthawk roundabout, and heading up Bracker O’Reagan road – known to all Tralee people as The Fat Mile. As usual with this race, a lot of inexperienced runners burn themselves out on this section, and end up walking some of The Fat Mile. I found I had burned a bit more energy than I had liked in the first section, trying to get a good position, so I slowed my pace a little here – I knew that the place to let loose was in the second half of the race, as most of the last 2k was downhill.
There is a short switchback on this section, and the climb out of it is quite steep. I began to feel the strain running up this, and realised that my legs were probably still not fully back from the Tralee 100k a couple of weeks ago. Still, nothing to do but press on.
I found the Killeen Road, the last section north of Town before we turned back towards the town centre, tough enough, but the thought of the nice gentle downhill of Oakpark coming up kept me going. I get the chance to chat to a couple of “out of town” runners here, and they were really enjoying the festival, and the race!
Oakpark brought us closer to town, and gave the legs some respite, and soon we were heading into the town centre, around North Circular Road, and down Rock Street. There were lots of supporters lining the streets as we got into town, and I could hear the cheering from the crowds near the finish line. My usual tactic is to speed up in The Mall, and sprint the last few hundred yards up Denny Street to the finish line, but I didn’t have it in the legs today! I put on as much of a spurt as I could coming up Denny Street, using the cheers of the crowd to motivate me, and pushed myself to the limit in the last hundred yards. I glanced at the finish line clock as I passed, and thought I saw 54-something.
I was absolutely beat crossing the line, and was afraid for a moment that I was going to get sick after crossing – something that’s never happened me! After a minute or two to steady myself I was fine though, and collected my medal and made my way to the finisher’s corral.
My sister Lorraine was running her first 10k with her friend Josephine, so I walked back along the course to cheer them in. I found them on Rock Street, and they looked remarkably relaxed – a lot more than I did in my first 10k I’d imagine! I ran some of the last kilometer with them, giving them some “gentle” encouragement to speed them on their way, before leaving them to their moment of glory on Denny Street – well done girls!
Shortly afterwards I was able to see the Born to Run roses and Escorts come in, to a massive welcome from the crowd. Well done guys, a memorable run!
This was another brilliant Run the Kingdom event, and, as usual, well done to Marcus, his team, and all the volunteers – I look forward to next year.
I checked my time later and discovered I had done it in 55:05 – a few seconds off my 10k PB, but I’m happy enough, as it’s nearly a minute and a half faster than last year, and I think I could have been 20-30 seconds faster if I’d made a better start.
*UPDATE* Turns out I was going by the wrong time – my net time was actually 54:54 – giving me a new PB!
Thanks to Radar Sports for the great job on my singlet.
Next up for me is the Craughwell Marathon in a couple of weeks. Until then, good running!