With a week to go before my trip to California and the Surf City Marathon, it was a chance to see how the training has been going, and a chance to let the legs turn over sharply before putting them thru 26 miles next week. The Raheny 5 is a classic race here on the last Sunday in January, and this was the 24th running of the event, and my third year in a row taking part.<br><br>
My training has been going well in the last three weeks since the cross country race at the beginning of the year, and whilst I may be short of the distances in my legs to have a chance of a Boston Qualifier next week, I was confident that my speed over shorter distances would be getting back to a respectable level. Before the race I was saying that I would hope to be around 38 minutes, whilst privately I was thinking that, if the weather conditions were right, I would go a bit faster. A speed session on Friday night augered well for a decent run, and with the weather being a perfect January day, sunny, and in the sun at least - semi-warm! - with only the slightest breeze, I would have no excuses.<br><br>
As I said, this is a well established, and very well supported, road race, and the good day certainly brought the numbers out, so the start was a little cramped. The race starts on the road, in a housing estate, and as such there is limited space, so when the start came, there was a somewhat chaotic dash, then a stop as the domino effect took place, then within 14 seconds I was across the line and off, almost without a hitch.<br><br>
It was obvious to me right away that I was feeling good and was up for a decent run. The first couple of turns saw me holding my position well, keeping flaying legs of fellow competitors away from myself as I bobbed and weaved around the slower starters. It was relatively incident free, which was a surprise given the numbers involved, but I soon settled into my stride, and before I knew it I was at Mile 1 and 7:35 was on my watch, almost perfect. The race settled into a pattern for me, easing along, with only one hiccup when a young runner tried to cut across me at a turn, and almost knocked me over, and as he had ear phones in (I hate people who race with earphones!!!!) he failed to hear my expletive, but he felt my elbow as I defended my position on the road!<br><br>
Mile 2 was a 7:22 and the third mile down towards the coast road saw a 7:18 clocking. I started to push on as I felt strong and Mile 4 was reached in a further 7:10, progressively quicker each mile, and the Mile 4 marker is just as we climb away from the coast road towards home. Given I have run this race before I knew what to expect and I dug in as we completed the gentle slope - it's not a tough climb, but around 100 yards of gentle uphill after the initial lift. When it levelled off, I eased into a strong rhythm and prepared for the finish -<br><br>
- I was deciding where to kick, and remembered that there are three turns as we approach the finish - The finish is back where we started, with a small park that we run around the outside of - You can hear and see the finish as you approach the first of the three turns, and a few people started to sprint out then, but I knew we still had 400 to go, so I held back, pushed on down the length of the park, before the second turn where I picked off the jump-starters and as we turned the last corner, I kicked out, sprinted for the line, some 50 yards, and crossed the line stopping my watch in 36:27, 7:02 for the last mile, and a very satisfying performance.<br><br>
I also use the WAVA tables to work out my age related performances, and although I ran this same race two years ago in 36 minutes dead, this years performance was actually a better age performance, with a 66.83% performance, my best age adjusted performance over ANY distance since 2001!<br><br>
Now I can look forward to next week with a confident feeling, although I won't be going mad and expecting to run a BQ performance, but I will be confident of a decent run and, more importantly, having a good time.