My First Win

My first win – Hill Country Marathon October 18th 2014

Number

Number

A year after coming 3rd in Hill Country 10k Race just outside Austin Texas I was back again to see how I would get on this year. Last year 4 of the leading pack (me included) took a wrong turn which lead us to doing closer to 11k rather than 10. It didn’t change the outcome as we stayed in the same sequence up to the finish.

HCM Entry

 

It was an early morning rise to make the drive to the stadium and register and get my number. 1st thing I noticed was that it was a lot hotter than last year and it was still only 6am. I got ready and was looking forward to trying out my new Kayano 21s and Garmin Fenix2. One thing for sure I would be seen with my bright orange top, orange calf sleeves and nice bright runners.

New toys

New toys

There was a great atmosphere at the start line as each race started. 1st off was the Full marathon, followed by the half and next up was the 10k. It was getting hotter and the crowd heading towards the start line. I decided to go to the front as no one else was moving. The banter started there with the organiser wondering who was from out of town, out of state and finally out of country. The joking helped me relax and made me forget about the heat for a while. “Ireland was up front to win the race”.

Kick-off was now and I decided I was going to give it my best. After struggling with a sore calf earlier in the week I only decided at the line to go for it and whatever happens I can say at least I tried. You start the race with a loop around the running track in the stadium. I lead out of the stadium and down the down the dirt track and out on to the road. I had 2 people right with me and they were going for it as much as I was. It is hard to tell what you were up against so I said I’d stay at my target speed and not worry about others.

We came out of the housing estate and on to the long straight towards the turning point. I noticed I was starting to pull away from the leading group. I had a little laugh to myself as I passed the point where we took the wrong turn last year, not taking that left this year.

No one in sight

No one in sight

There were a lot of runners on course from the other distances and they gave encouragement as I pushed myself to improve my lead. I did worry I could have pushed off too fast so I tried to manage my pace. I knew what was coming though. It being hill country there are lots of ups and downs, 1st half is more downhill and going back is more climbing but the one I was waiting for was the huge downhill knowing I didn’t have long until the turnaround point. Of course that meant that climb back up was coming. I also knew once I made the turnaround I could tell where the chasing pack was.

Out on my own

Out on my own

To my surprise they were further back than expected but that didn’t mean I could ease off. As I ran past each of the 10k runners I got shouts and encouragement. Some remembering I was “Ireland” so the called out “Come on Ireland” and “wow he is going for it”. That gave me the much needed boost as the hill approached. I knew it would take a lot of effort because last year by the time I got to the top I was ready to walk. This year was no different but because of the position I was in I found the extra energy to keep pushing. It was always in the back of my head that there was someone gaining on me and I was just waiting for someone to pass me out. I didn’t want to look back to I just continued to concentrate on my job. Once I got up over the hill there were plenty more people encouraging me. Some people even stopped to cheer me on. Maybe they were looking for an excuse to for a break.

Happy to be out in front

Happy to be out in front

Now all that was in my head was navigating the last few kms and making sure I don’t make a wrong turn. Ever since last year at this race and the Tralee Triathlon it’s always in the back of my head that I might make the wrong turn. The 1st chance I got to see if anyone was close to me was when I turned left back into housing estate close to the stadium. I couldn’t see anyone so that gave me a great boost. I knew I was slowing down as I couldn’t keep the tempo up (my splits afterwards showed that) I had a right and then left before the stadium. On each of those turns I had a look just in case but I was ok. Then came the run up the small little dirt track before hitting the stadium and that loop around the stadium. As I hit the track there was shouts over the intercom, “we have our 1st 10k coming in, and its Ireland, come on Ireland”. It was a strange feeling, never have I come close and now I got to do the loop around the track knowing I was about to win my first race. I was still paranoid that someone was going to come from nowhere and pass me out so I made sure to speed up, just in case. Then came the moment of truth. I lifted my arms in the air and got to celebrate the victory. To most people they will see the time and say you only won because the competition was not there but with that heat and tough hills I don’t mind who was or was not there. You can only beat who is there and I did that.

First Race Win

First Race Win

I was hurting after the race. My calf held up but I knew that I’d feel it tomorrow. I waited around for the rest of the runners come in. There was 45 seconds between me and the person in second with 3rd a further 2 minutes back. They were all friendly and we shared our experience of the race. I knew next step for me was to get a good warm down in and head for a swim but not having some of the famous pie on offer (the main reason I came)

1st and 2nd get some rest

1st and 2nd get some rest

Barton Springs Pool

Barton Springs Pool

I think it will be hard to get back to this race next year but I will get back again at some stage in the future. It is a friendly race and everyone I met and chatted to all had a story to tell and wanted to hear about Ireland. If I do get back. I may try the half marathon. Of course tackling that hill so late into a half could break anyone.

Medal and 1st Place Frame

Medal and 1st Place Frame

Well done to all the organisers and hope to see you again in the future.

Famous Pie

Famous Pie

 

Run details can be found here

Posted in Sport.

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