On Sunday I had my first race since my somewhat disastrous Tralee 100k, and I was looking forward to getting back on the road.
I have run this race every year since it started, and it is one of my favourite events – there is always a great atmosphere, as it coincides with the International Rose of Tralee Festival, and draws a fairly eclectic crowd, different to most races.
This year the start was slightly different, as it went from the Rose Hotel. The weather hadn’t been great, and it poured rain all morning, so I had worn a compression top inside my running top, but, at the last minute I decided to ditch it, as it got very humid – I was glad I did, as it was very warm during the race.
After the usual preliminaries, we set off, heading out the exit road of the hotel, before cutting back along the Dan Spring road towards the western edge of the town.
I had planned on taking the first half of this race easy, as the first 5 or 6k is mostly gentle climbs, while the last few k’s are mostly downhill, but I was so keen to get back on the road that my plan went out the window from the start.
I definitely wasn’t back to 100% fitness, but I felt mostly ok, though the race was much harder work than it should have been.
We had great support despite the conditions, and I heard my name being called a good few times, and met a lot of runners I knew (mostly passing me in the later stages!).
I pushed as hard as I dared on the climb up Caherslee and the long drag over Bracker O’Regan road (known to us locals as The Fat Mile), but the heat, my lack of restraint in the early part of the race, and the after effects of the Tralee 100k soon took their toll, and I slowed considerably from 5k on, as we hit the last of the climbing section on the Killeen road. I knew the next section, Oakpark, was downhill, so I wasn’t too worried. I was delighted to finally make this stretch, though by now I had nothing left in the tank, and even the downhill didn’t help me pick up the pace much.
All that was left for it was to grind out the last few kilometres, and that’s what I did. I didn’t look at my watch, but I knew coming up The Mall towards the finish line at Denny Street that I wasn’t going to do a decent time, so I just got on with it, and enjoyed the last bit. As usual, it was a fantastic feeling coming up to the finish in Denny Street, though for the fist time in this race, quite a few people passed me in the last few hundred meters – my usual sprint finish just wasn’t there.
I crossed the line just 5 seconds under the hour, which is the slowest I’ve ever done this race, and the first year I’ve run a slower time than the previous year – this says a lot about where I’m at in terms of my fitness and recovery, and points to a lot of work required before the Kerry 24 Hour in a few weeks. At least now I have a benchmark to work from.
This was another brilliant event by Run The Kingdom, and fair play to the people of Tralee, and the many visitors to the town who turned out to run and support.