A half-arsed half



Saturday was World Half Marathon Day. I know. Who knew? Well, the numbers were kind of catchy, so I guess it just had to be done:

13.1 miles
Held on 13/01 (in other words, the 13th of January)
Start time was 13.10 (see what they did there?)
And in fairness, they kept the price to 13.10 euro.

In reality, I probably had no business toeing the line but I am a divil for punishment. Indeed, as I was trudging around the four lap course, I was thinking that I must be only half-human (at times I did only feel half-human). The other half is made up of 50% pig(headedness) and 50% ass (or mule, as in, stubborn as).

The course is lovely, particularly so in the height of summer when the largely deciduous wood is in full canopy mode. Donadea also has an old ruined castle/house and a large duck pond, not to mention the 9/11 Memorial. And it was here I did my first ‘ultra’ run back in February of last year. The race report is here, for those who are already bored enough to be reading my blog.

Well, the roughly 5k loop in the woods should indeed be a lovely thing, and I suppose it is. I guess the problems start when you rinse and repeat… at least the half was nowhere near as much punishment as the 50k, which of course entails 10 laps.


Des had kindly picked me up to save on the extra car journey. I made sure to don the official Mill Lane Runners gear as well. PopupRaces were handling the event, so it was all done with minimum fuss. Chip-timed race numbers were collected and after a brief warm-up (most of which was done in the car with the heater on, truth be told), we jogged up to the start line which was a good kilometre away from the finish. And then we were off.

I don’t always head out with a solid plan when I’m running, though I will for something like the Dublin Marathon when I’m aiming for a time. Well, I decided I was going to try and match Waterford. The Waterford half marathon back in December definitely benefited from the Dublin training regime. I was both surprised and pleased to see the kilometres ticking away at a decent pace back then, and narrowly missed going sub-1.40 by a handful of seconds. Pleased, though. I just hadn’t planned a good time, and wasn’t sure what would be left in the legs.

Well, as I set off around Donadea, I had company; mainly, a chesty wheeze so deep down it rattled when I inhaled and no amount of coughing or medicine would shift it. This was the residue of the ‘flu from the previous week. Not ideal conditions, I suppose. As I said earlier. Pig-headed. And half-assed…

Anyway, to match Waterford, I would need to be reeling off the ks in 4.45 pace. That’s a decent lick. And a quick glance at the Garmin stats show that I did indeed manage a 4.42 on the first lap. And that was it (bar the least lap, oddly enough). About halfway through, the pace had dropped, and sub 1.40 was as distant a promise as world peace. I lashed back my secret weapon: a coke-flavoured caffeine hit from PowerGel. It was pretty vile, and for a minute or two, my stomach was very unsure about the whole experience. But it did the trick, and I was able to pick up the pace again. At one point, I stopped for a wee and Des went past. I couldn’t catch him.

The final lap finally arrived, and it was hard work. The legs were not in great shape. The chest was wheezing, and along the last back stretch, the left calf decided to cramp up; something that rarely if ever happens when I’m out running. Clearly, the body was sending me messages, but the sorting office was not delivering…

A quick rub of the lower legs and we set off for the finish line. The finish line at Donadea moves. I swear to god. They have the damn thing on wheels, and just keep moving it further away. That, or I was approaching delirium.

I crossed the line in about 1.48:30, which is, as it turns out, the second-best time I have managed for the half, so despite all the poor omens, I guess it wasn’t too bad a performance. It just felt… hard, that’s all.


Ciaran had appeared for the last lap, and he bought us both hot chocolate at the finish, which went down a treat. We headed for home, and once again, Carton beckoned for a long soak in the jacuzzi, with some steam and a few laps in the pool for good measure. Certainly absolute luxury for a post-run warm-down.

Yesterday, S and I headed in to see Leinster play Glasgow in the last of the Heineken Cup Pool matches. They made short work of them. Roll on the Quarter-finals.


And so I think we may have eked out the last from the Dublin training. S reckons so, anyway. I think she may be right. At least I can agree now that I can give the Donadea 50k a miss this year. I had notions. They are gone now. I guess the other 50% of the body isn’t so stupid after all 😉


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