Thursday, April 02, 2009
Connemara Ultra Marathon Race Report
I had to start the post with the photo of THE medal, if you change the ribbon to a chain it would not look out of place on Mr T , until you got close enough to read it.
The day started at something like 5:30am with various alarms going off. With a small breakfast of a couple of cakes and sports drinks I headed off. There was a 1 mile to the car park which there was buses leaving at 7am to takes out the 45 minutes to race HQ (also the finish).
I was deciding on various kit option in the hotel conference room. With the few base layers (as I was in the west of Ireland) I ended up leaving my winter hat behind and going with a Ironman running cap, although I kept my bin liner with me just in case the surprisingly good weather turned.
The Ultra race brief was good, to sum it up turn right. As the route was basically a rectangle(ish) shape.
We were then bused 1 mile down the road to the Ultra start. As we had a few minutes to spare I thought I would have a quick pit stop. As I stepped in to grass it went halfway up to my knee in the bog land!!
For the run I was using 25/5 run/walk method all the way round. This is meant to help prevent muscle fatigue plus every 30 minutes I know I had to eat something with about 100 calories to get the required nutrition.
At the start everybody went off very fast, it was quicker than 10 minute/mile pace. I was chatting to the few others who were going at my pace all the way round the course. There was not many of us in fact I was in the last 6 of the about 100 who were doing the Ultra.
I was told by a few people the first 26.2 (aka a marathon) was flat and I believed them. I suppose there was a few flat sections but I would call it undulating.
The few marshals at each drink station were cheerful and helpful.
There were only a few spectators at the house or shops along the route. Although the cars on the road the people beeping and giving encouraging support.
For the first 10 miles it felt like the ambulance was following me. I think there was a couple of them which stopped at various pull ins along the route until the last person passed.
Then got to the marathon start (13.1 miles) after going for 2 1/2 hours. There was only the discarded drinks and kit to keep warm around. This section was tough as it was in to a cool head wind for about 10 miles. This was the flattest section as it was along a lake.
This was also the section were sheep (including rams) on the side of the road as there was no fencing on these country roads!!
I have seen reference to sweeper vehicles before at races but I was yo-yoing with the portaloo vehicle.
When we turn right to start the third section of the route after a few hills there was a steady down hill section for about 3 miles!! Even the sun got out and I was starting to feel warm.
We then got to 26.2 mile marker (half marathon start) in under 5 hours, quicker because of the long downhill section.
The half marathon happened to start outside a pub. This was thankfully only one of only two I saw on the route!!
A few hundred meters after here the hills really started. They were steeper and longer. Me an another runners just about over took a family with a push chair!!
We then started to overtake some who were walking the marathon.
Everything was going to plan until I hit the wall at about 31 miles!! This was 5 miles further than I had ever run.
This is when my mental training techniques came in handy, especially the Mr T mental training.
I then had to walk for longer sections and I abonded my run/walk timings and ran when I felt I could.
I think this was a combination of not having enough suitable nutrition with me and not that many long runs. Another runner who I had ran with a for about 10 miles caught me up and luckily he had some spare glucose sweats he gave me which helped.
There was plenty of marshals and first aid going round the course all day.
I must have been in a bad state as one of them got me a lucozade drink from a pub and then a few miles later another marshall in the rubbish collection van gave me a piece of chocolate easter egg. They did first offer me one of the chocolate bars that Mr T was advertising which I declined due the nuts but I did remind me of the mental training so gave me another boost up the hill.
The last 5 miles of which the first 3 miles were all up hill, once I got to the top of the last big hill I was about 1.5 miles from the finish and I could see the hotel. That gave me an extra spurt of energy.
I ended up doing the last half marathon (13.1 miles) in about 3 hours 5 minutes which was 35 minutes slower than the first two half marathon sections.
However I did complete the Ultra marathon in a time of 8 hours 4 minutes.
There was great scenery all the way round, in fact it was the best race that I have done for this, pity about the hills. Here is a link to some photos in the Connemara area to give you an idea of what it was like.
Like the t-shirt we got at the end has on it "I hit the Ultra wall at Connemara". Oh did I mention the medal?
Then the following day I kicked the wall in Salthill.
It is a local thing to do when you reach the end of the prom before you turn back on your walk.