What a week! It started with a school trip out of Snowdonia. One of us went to London to do all our washing. The other one went to Armagh for the biggest 5km road race in Europe…
The Armagh International is a great event with a long history and tradition. Athletes come from the USA, France and Sweden to compete in this very fast race. The course consists of laps around the Mall in the centre of town. The roads are closed down, lights are put up, spectators line up against the barriers and half the day is devoted to races, giving the town a really great atmosphere on the night. The international athletes get very well looked after, with flights, food and accommodation all taken good care of. Infact, I always find myself wishing I didn’t have the business of a fast 5km to run, so that I could fully indulge myself in all the excellent free food on offer!
After flying into Belfast, and a very nice curry with some team mates (I was running for ‘Real Runners’, not fake runners you understand) I got to bed in my own room for an earlyish night. I spent most of Thursday conserving energy. The race kicked off at 8.20pm in excellent conditions and I had only one strategy, hang on to the leaders for as long as possible!
This was going great for the first 3 of 5 laps, but then, a combination of the leaders picking up and me dying down left me flailing around in no-mans land for the last 2 laps. My dad had come to watch as he was in Ireland on business, but even he couldn’t cheer loud enough to keep me in contention. I ran my kms in 2.51, 2.56, 2.57, 3.01, 3.00 so you can see I folded quite badly and could probably have come away with a better time than my 14.45 if I had of started more conservatively. The atmosphere of the race and the excellent hospitality from organisers inspired me to go out with a bang and I don’t regret it!
I skipped my warmdown to spend abit of time with my dad before I had to rush off for the prize giving. I didn’t get back to my hotel room until 2am and had to get up at 3.30am for coach to airport. There were drunken athletes running rampage around the hotel corridors all night and I saw a group of guys going for a tipsy 10 mile run at 4 in the morning. One of them, who spoke no English (either he was foreign or just too drunk), was dressed only in his boxers and running shoes.
It was a fantastic experience and I was happy, but not elated, with my time. 13 seconds better than I managed here last year, and 47 seconds better than the last 5km I did on New Years Eve (see post 2 crashes, 3 races and 1,595 miles) but it reflected the fact that I have been feeling abit heavy whilst training out here in Wales. Hopefully if the weather stays milder I can begin to rectify that. An easy week is coming up before the English National Cross Country Champs next weekend. Maybe all the mountains will stand me in good stead for that one, stay tuned!