Ballycotton Summer Series 2015

Back in 2014 I had set a goal of breaking into top 100 in the Ballycotton Summer Series. I achieved that by finishing in 95th after the 4 races in a total of 2hrs 19 mins and 22 seconds. So at the start of 2015 this Series was one of the main focuses for the summer again. My aim for this year was to push into the top 75. With my times coming down I felt that was a doable goal.

Ballyandreen

As with all East Cork races Damian dropped in and we headed to the race together. Seems to have come a tradition since our 1st Ballyandreen in 2013. Weather was good for the race, as seems to be the case for all races in East Cork, so it adds to the atmosphere. You can sense the buzz around. Everyone loves summer running and everyone there on the night are all hoping to improve on last or looking to try attack the beast for the 1st time.

I had done two previous races in Ballyandreen, in 2013 it took me 36:13 and in 2014 it took 35:14 (both watch time). So in 2015 It would be nice to get closer to 34.

One thing about this summer series is that I find it hard to pace correctly throughout the race. You seem to be going up or down, there never seems to be a flat to enjoy. With it being clock timing I lost 30 seconds crossing the line. So this year I placed myself in a better place, only losing 8 seconds but also knowing I placed myself correctly.With the up and down nature of the course I started off strong with the 1st 4km fairly consistent with a small bit of an increase with the big downhill down into Ballycotton. Now the fun part begins. Everyone talks about the “Beast of Ballyandreen” but it was the km before the beast that almost broke me. If you drove it you wouldn’t think much about it but there in a slight incline that seems to drain the energy and my pace dropped back a lot. I knew I had to suck it up and find something to keep going. Following that long stretch it was the left turn up the beast. It was my slowest km but I got through it and I like those up hills. Give me a short steep up hill over a long gradual climb any day. The one thing you know is that when you get up the top of the Beast you have a fun downhill to the finish. I just let myself go and let gravity do the work.

I completed the race in 32:50 a huge jump in my time. I was absolutely delighted with that. It was a 5 mile PB for me and finished in 83rd place. Well I know now that if I run like that over the next 3 races I should easily make my target. And who knows how high I could reach.

Ballyandreen Comparison

Ballyandreen Comparison 2013 to 2015

Shanagarry

Next up was my favourite race of the series. Maybe because I cycle that route a lot or because you are running past the beach there is something about it that makes me happy to be doing this race. Damian almost broke the tradition saying he would have to leave straight after the race so would meet me down there. But he stopped by anyway, sure I’m not that slow so I wouldn’t make him wait that long. Even though his 28th place in Ballyandreen was a huge run showing the gap between us increases. I get better, he just gets faster and faster. After having a sprint tri the previous Saturday I knew it wasn’t the best prep but felt good anyway.

I had only done this race once before and that was last year. I completed it in 34:14 which was my PB up to Ballyandreen this year. I was wearing the lowest number I had ever worn in the series. The number 83 it was.

Starting close to the front of the pack I went off like a bullet for me. A very fast first km but then the 1st 3kms are relatively flat so it was easy to clip a long at a good pace. After passing Garryvoe hotel you take a left and here begins a a long drag up to another left where again you are met with another drag. This slowed my pace down and I had a number of people pass me out here. Another left turn but unlike the previous this one you are met with a huge downhill. It is probably a bit too steep to go fast going down so I just tried to manage my pace and avoid doing damage by going down too fast. But as you go down that hill you can can see just over to the right the hill you have to go back up. Even though it is a steep hill, just like in Ballyandreen, I found myself stronger going up and passed a number of people out. You just want to get up to the top before heading to the line. I don’t know why I thought the line was closer but you still had a km to go. Again my pace picked up for the last km and helped me finish in a new 5 mile PB of 32:34 and 76th position. I was delighted with that and now moved up to 59th place overall.  Wow that is something I never expected. I am within touching distance of top 50 with 2 races to go.

Shanagarry

Shanagarry Comparison 2014 to 2015

Churchtown South

Third race in the series and wearing number 59 I knew I had to get a good result here. Last year this one almost finished me. I ran it in 34:23 but that doesn’t tell the story. I really struggled in the race so I definitely was not looking forward to it. The weather wasn’t as bad as last year which was a plus. Damian picked me up a long the way and we were up there nice and early. Good buzz around as people got ready for the 3rd in the series. This course has 2 loops and doesn’t have as big of a hill as the others but for some reason I find the loops harder, when you do the 2nd loop that hill seems to be a mountain.

I started up near the front and had my game plan in place. Start the 1st km fast and then settle into my rhythm. The 1st 3km are mainly flat or downhill so its good to get a going. Its after this mark that things get a bit tougher. Must of the climbing is done in the next km and half. My pace considerably slowed in km 4 and 5. During km 5 you start the loop again. This time it didn’t seem as easy and couldn’t get the the pace I was at before. I did up the pace in km 6 but again this is quite flat and downhill. Then the dreaded climbs again. Just when you make a sharp left there is always a family handing out water, I gladly grabbed some as it seemed to be heating up. During km 8 and 9 I didn’t have anything left. People started flying past me and I couldn’t keep going. My normal kick at the end wasn’t there and yet again this course had beat me. Maybe a different strategy next year will help me. I still finished with a PB for the course in 32:57 so I should be happy with that but still disappointed to not match my previous 2 races.   I finished 86th overall which meant for the 1st time ever I have moved into the top 50 overall, I’ll be wearing 49 in Ballycotton. I’ll have to be at my best to hold on to that position.

Churchtown

Churchtown South Comparison 2014 to 2015

Ballycotton

It was all down to this. The last race in the series. Having had the Dublin Tri on the previous Sunday and not feeling well since that race I wasn’t very confident going into the race. If it wasn’t for it being the last race in the series and me lying in 49th I’d have skipped the race. Anyhow I just had to suck it up and go for it and see how it went.

Ballycotton

Beautiful night for the race

 

And for the last time Damian picked me up and we set off early. Just like any Summer Series race the good weather comes out in time for the race. Downpours during the day were replaced by clear blue skies and sunshine for the evening. Ballycotton must have an agreement with the weather gods. A small warm up, a bit of banter between everyone and before we knew it the race was about to commence. The earlier start meant there was no messing around.

I had decided I’d go out fast since the 1st half of the race is the easy half. A nice start down out of Ballycotton and I found after a km that the group in front were after pulling away so I was out on my own. After the long straight you took the right just like in the Ballycotton 10 and I kept my pace going as I wanted to. A few more people joined me, or should I say pass me out, so at least this was a bit of a push to keep the pace up. I was happy with the way the 1st 2km went. Just as planned. Next 2km are relatively flat as well and I kept a steady pace. It was slower than the 1st 2km but again all going to plan. It was at about the 4km mark where I started to feel the affects of the race on Sunday. I’d need to dig deep as the 5th km is the tough one. At the end of the hill I looked up at what looked like a mountain at this stage and just said to myself I needed to get over it. I pumped the arms and legs and just about made it up, knowing that once I turned left it would be the home straight. The 6km was the most interesting of the race and threw me off a bit. A member of a club that I won’t mention decided to throw an elbow at me and shout abuse for about 20 seconds at me for “taking his line” as he gave me about a mm of room as he passed me. Seemingly I have eyes on the back of my head and can tell exactly where everyone is. He couldn’t just go around me.

Now it was time to go back the road we came. I really wasn’t feeling good at this stage. A few shouts of come on Eagle helped me pick up my pace a bit. Heading into the village and seeing the finish line was all I wanted and was so glad to come up to it. I gave all I could for the last 200m and made it home in 32:47, 103rd on the night. (I did 34:36 in 2014) This was my 2nd fastest 5 mile ever but it definitely didn’t feel like that. I was bent over at the line, didn’t know if I wanted to get sick or fall down. I felt my time should mean I finished in the top 50 but only time will tell.

Ballycotton Comparison

Ballycotton Comparison

What felt like an age and waiting for the results it was great to see Damian finish in such a high position. 17th overall and a superb race on the night. It eventually rolled down to the 40s, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45 and finally I could breathe, 46 Jonathan Kenneally Eagle AC, PHEW. Absolutely delighted. At the start of the year I wouldn’t have thought I’d get anywhere near that. I had an overall total of 2:11:27 compared to 2:19:22 last year. Huge strides gained and much more to come. Well done to all who completed the series. Since I’ll be taking a break from the series next year it will be great that I’ll be out with my camera knowing that no one can take the top 50 tshirt away from me. Well unless Martha gets sick of all the tshirts I have and throws it out 🙂

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So finally

 

Race Comparison

Race 2013 2014 2015
Ballyandreen 5 Mile  36:13  35:14 32:50
Shannagarry 5 Mile  x  34:14 32:34
Churchtown South 5 Mile  x  34:23 32:57
Ballycotton 5 Mile  x  34:36 32:44
Overall Series  x  2:19:22  2:11:27
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Complete Series

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What it is all about

 

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