Saturday, Christmas Eve: parkrun
Monday, St. Stephen’s Day: Fields of Athenry 10k Road Race
I wasn’t going to commit to any proper training sessions during Christmas, as I wanted to enjoy this precious family time. I did however want to do the usual parkrun on Saturday and I have signed up for my first and last race this year.
Parkrun was great, as it was Christmas Eve, there were a lot of people running in Santa hats and other Christmas themed clothing. In advance of the usual January increase of numbers at parkruns due to New Year’s Resolutions and such, the officials have changed the course. It wasn’t a dramatic change, it was just reversed and the finish line was now the start line, as the open space will accommodate larger numbers of runners.It was a bit cold and quite windy. Having the route reversed, meant that one of the downhills was now the biggest hill to tackle (twice). I took it relatively easy and finished with time of 25:06.
Once parkrun was done, the Christmas festivities could kick-in properly. On Christmas Day however, I had to slam on the breaks a bit to slow down the food, chocolate and beer intake. I was going to run a race the following morning. I even went to bed early to make sure I had enough sleep. I arrived in Athenry well in advance. Went to the registration point to pick up my race number, race programme and the traditional Athenry 10k hat (It’s a different colour/design each year).
This race is organized by the well known Athenry AC and is one of the most popular and prestigous 10k races in the country. A very well organized event, indeed.
Ahead of the race start I did a 2k warm up including some short sprint efforts and dynamic stretching. This has helped a lot and I was ready to go from the start line. The race route wasn’t too challenging, with a couple of small hills here and there, but mostly flat countryside roads. Every km was clearly marked. I had a goal of a time below 55minutes, so I did try to pace myself accordingly. I was however hoping to do it in at least 53minutes. There were two aid stations with water, but I only used it once at km 4 (I think).
The last 3k were rather tough and having two ladies running behind me casually talking about the pros and cons of online shopping and eventually passing me and disapearing in the distance ahead, was not very encouraging. With 1k to go and aproaching the town of Athenry, I decided to pick up the pace slightly in the last 500 meters and try to sprint the last 200 meters. This has worked to some extend and I managed to finish at 52:05. I am very happy with this result and I now have a time to improve upon. My best 10k time was back in 2014 with 49:35. I’d like to get back to that form in the near future.
The post race refreshments were really good. The usual bottle of water and a banana was handed straight after the finish line. Then back at the registration point, a choice of tea, coffee, hot chocolate and multiple types of cakes, biscuits and chocolates.
Fantastic event! Highly recommended!
Here’s a short (quite shaky) video from Fields of Athenry 10k Road Race.