In the Battle of the Boyne 2013, I have yet to make up my mind if I am the victor or the vanquished.
It`s known as the Boyne10k run. It swings out west from Drogheda, loops around the Boyne at the Battle of the Boyne site at Oldbridge and clips along the river back into town again. It`s scenic, its terrifically well organized, it has great crowd support and anything from 1,500-2,000 runners sign up for it each year.
I`ve cut my running teeth on this race. But the past two years`runs were relatively flat PB courses. This year, the council`s unfinished riverbank works determined an alternative route would have to be taken. One that included less scenery.
And a gawdawfulneverending hill.
In addition, I`d less training than in previous years. My feet problems have me treading very gingerly. And I am now in an entirely different age category.Though that has maybe, turned out to be a very good thing.
So, with all those things in mind, I found myself suitably togged out and lining up with all the men in the Sub 50 category.I`d opted for there because my last 10 km in August saw me finish at 54 minutes.Why not give myself the chance to do even better this time?
Well, yes but what they say is true. If you look around you at the starting line and see no one who resembles you, then you are in the wrong Wave. Bail out. Or bear the derogatory stares. The choice is yours
Of course I stayed put. Suck it up guys. I`ll show you a thing or two. I ran my last ten km in 54 min. Maybe I`d go under the fifty minutes for this one?
But of course, I didn`t.
Gun sounded and suddenly we were off. Like, I mean suddenly. And I couldn`t even keep up. The legs did all they could and my poor lungs complied with that wheeze I`d last heard at Raheny 2012.(Where, coincidentally, I`d also taken off with pack of Garmin clad males. I am impervious to learning…)
Uphill after the first kilometre and I was feeling comfortable but concerned. Whole waves were passing me. I felt like a rock in a river. Damn all I could do about the forward swell of the crowd, except hang on in there at a comfortable pace.
Second kilometer and I`m feeling ok. The route is familiar at least. I remembered that the uphill was followed by a downhill. ( I am no bird brain, after all.) And I also realised that I tend to feel a tad better after the first mile or two is done.
First hot day of the year. Of course. But at least I was suitably clad.
Shorts and sleeveless t shirt. Mutton dressed as lamb, to be sure but I can ignore public opinion in favour of comfort any day.
Half way point, and I ditch my visor. Too damn hot. Didn`t bring headphones either. And that worked very well.
Looping around the halfway mark, over the River Boyne, and I was tempted to evaluate my own position in the conflict. Garmin was giving me crap readings. Wedged in between 9-10 min miles, I hadn`t a hope of sub 60 min if I didn`t run harder.
I tried. And, for a little while, I actually felt myself sprouting wings. Killer Hill was coming up and I`d put in Killer Hill hours in my training. I clip along fairly ok there. Managed to pick off a couple of those young `uns actually. Lost count after passing ten of them and then eased myself up to the crest. It seemed to take forever though.
Caught up with an aquaintance then. I`d met her at the starting line too. Her first ten km race, she`d said, and she only started training a couple of weeks ago. Sickener. I arrived at her shoulder and declared
“Flip you!” Or words to that effect. “You weren`t supposed to pass me out!”
She laughed. Which is about all she could do. She apologised for not being able say much more. Like me, she was feeling the pain. We shuffled on more or less together after that, though silenced by our discomfort, and determination to finish.
Downhill towards town and along by the River Boyne. This is where half of the run should have been had the riverside works been completed. Oh well. Nice to get back there anyway. The steady rhythms of Drogheda`s Samba band hastened our feet back over another Boyne Bridge, another climb from there took us to the main street and cheering locals.
I heard my name called out from the crowd. A couple of kind pals had come along to cheer me on. I`m guessing my ungainly sight puffing towards the finish line entertained them mightily. I didn`t care. With Finish in sight, I heaved my tortured body through the final two hundred meters and over the red mat.
Time? One hour, one minute. Three minutes and a bit slower than last year.
The good news came later. Out of a field of thirty one, I came sixth in my category. And, as son pointed out, four of them are in a running club.
Ok, lots of lessons here…
I need to train harder. Intervals are badly needed. I need to get my bike out too because I want to build the aerobic stuff without sacrificing my feet. I need to swim. I need to participate in parkruns. And I am seriously considering joining a running club.
Running is, for me at any rate, a constant battle with myself.
So, no PB for me at Boyne this year. But Red Hen ain`t won`t for quittin`.
And she`ll be back to Battle Boyne again next year.