SLIGO AC 8K - WHAT A DAY FOR IT - 11 May

Yet another beautiful evening in Rosses Point, I headed out with for the annual Sligo AC 8k.  This was my first time to do the same race three years in a row, so I had two years of times to compare to. In addition, it was my first ‘outside’ race since joining Sligo Tri Club.  With my dedication(!) to swimming and cycling,  I  now run less, so was very interested to see how the cross training affected my performance.
 
Setting out from just above the first beach (both beaches were full of kite surfers, giving a good buzz on the start line.  I wasn’t quite sure where the start line was, but took a guess as we headed off.  This is always a fast race, and I am not a fast runner.  As it was my third time doing it,  I had decided to really concentrate on my pace for the first kilometre.  The first year I did this 8k I got carried away and went way too fast for the first part, last year I over compensated by going too slow and got left behind by the pack.  This time, I think I got the balance ok, looked at my watch at the Golf Club, to check pace and was happy.  I vowed not to check it again before race end.  There were no distance markers on the route, so I found myself just trying to keep a steady pace.  If I didn’t know the route, I‘m not sure how I would have felt about this.
 
I picked a few runners to try to keep pace with, kept with some and lost a few.  The route goes round the back of Rosses Point village and then down to the main Sligo Road where it then doubles back further on.  So, you are getting towards that turning point when you start to sight the faster runners going back on the other side of the road (led by Emmet Dunleavy, the eventual winner).  I got very distracted by this and kept looking across to see who I would see!  Suddenly, runners I had passed way back were passing me – I did not realised I had slowed.  I checked my time and knew it would not make it in back in 40mins but was darn sure I wanted to be faster than last year.  Getting to the turn cone I tried not to look at the other runners still on their way out, in case in slowed me again.  Hearing people coming up behind me egged me on to fasten my pace.  I found myself sighting some of those that had passed me in the first 3k, giving me even more incentive to keep pushing.  We got to the start of the prom  - I thought I was on the home run.  Remembering last year’s race when three of us had paced each other the whole way until here, until one of the girls just took off for the final kilometre, I had it in the back of my mind that I would try that this year.  So, off I went.
 
Now, this is where my confused sense of distance came into play.  I thought I was waaaaaaaaaaaay nearer the finish line, it had looked much nearer driving by earlier.  I ran my little legs off and there was still no sign of it.  But I’m telling you, I was passing people, so was not stopping.  Making up for the mid race lull, my chest burning, adrenalin pumping,  I hit the finish line with a sprint.  Don’t you just love that buzz!  In the end, my miscalculation of distance gave me a  better finish time.  (This in fact was not my worst, I was legging along a few years ago in a Fit4Life, thought I had got to the finish after a lap, and then realised it was a 2 lapper – it did wonders for my time  - amazing what you can do under pressure).
 
There was a great buzz at the finish line, great support, plenty of  water.  The refreshments:  what can I say?  More sandwiches than you can shake a stick at, cup cakes, chocolate cake, gallons of tea and coffee.  Much of served it by people from Sligo Tri and Sligo AC wearing their Moy ½ marathon t-shirts – they had done it earlier that day.   You are all brilliant!
 
Prizes were given out for running categories and there were also walker prizes.  Everyone was genuinely acknowledged for their effort participation and help. I must mention that three Ballisodare (where I live) women won prizes in their categories – Geraldine Gilroy, Catherine Bradley and Rose Young.
 
I was very happy with a time of 42.20 (I gained 20 seconds on my watch time when I got my official time!) so knocked 2 minutes off last year’s time and did a quicker pace than the club 5k in April ( and I was not last either).  All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and has confirmed for me that the variety in triathlon training suits me as I find solely running for exercise too severe on the body.  It has given me the incentive to push for a 40 min 8k over the summer so I guess I will be turning up to those Saturday morning training sessions.
 

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