Sunday, 21 June 2015

Aghagallon Mid Summer Montiaghs Run - Race Report

Aghagallon Mid Summer Montiaghs Run - Race Report

Aghagallon is a small village, just down the road from where I grew up in Aghalee. For those that don't know where Aghalee is, it's at the bottom of Lough Neagh, in Northern Ireland.

And outside Aghagallon is a pub car park, where sixty six runners were gathering early on a Sunday morning. I think there were a few runners with hangovers at the starting line, although surprisingly I wasn't one of them today.

There was a choice of two races this morning, 4.4 miles or 9.8 miles. I wanted to use this race as my weekly long run, so I chose to do the 9.8 miles.

I've got up to 8 miles during my Half Marathon Training Week 2 Long Run, so I made a deal with myself before we started. I would run the first 9 miles, and if I started feeling sore I'd slow down or walk for the final 0.8 miles. I'd only planned to do 9 miles this week, but maybe running a bit extra would help with my training for the Great North Run...

Aghagallon Mid Summer Montiaghs Run Route
Today's race route

I was still feeling tired and had a few aches from the Lisburn 10K on Wednesday night (where I got a new personal best) and I also had my first ever deep tissue sports massage on Thursday night. I'd been told that the first one is always the worst, and not to run to hard for the following few days.

Using A Race As A Long Run Training Session

So the plan was to take it nice and easy, and try and run a pace of just over 8 minutes 10 seconds per mile. I'd bought new headphones this week, so I'd be able to get my Runkeeper pace every half mile through them.

Aghagallon Mid Summer Montiaghs Run

After a quick briefing on the megaphone (it turns out my headphones are noise cancelling, so I don't know what was said..), the bell rang and we were off. I started somewhere in the middle of the pack, and found my pace within the first minute.

Aghagallon Mid Summer Montiaghs Run

The instructions that I had heard were to stay on the side of the roads, as they were all open to cars. I would advise anyone doing this race, or a similar country road race, not to have music playing on your headphones. After a mile or so, I turned off my music, as I couldn't hear cars coming up behind me. I think getting knocked down by a car may harm my chances of running a sub 1.25 half marathon.

Aghagallon Mid Summer Montiaghs Run
Running alongside Lough Neagh

The weather was of a typical Northern Irish summer's day. Supposedly the longest day of summer, it rained on and off throughout the duration of the race. When it stopped raining, it was actually quite nice and warm though. Lough Neagh was looking nice as always, and there didn't seem to be too many flies today. I only ate one fly during the entire race.

Aghagallon Mid Summer Montiaghs Run

The event was extremely well marshaled, with volunteers standing at every turn or junction we needed to take. They also were equipped with water bottles and rubbish bags. Without marshals and volunteers, so many races like this just couldn't take place, so I always try and be as friendly as I can when I pass them.

Aghagallon Mid Summer Montiaghs Run
Our old farm used to start at the far field, just past the trees.

It was strange taking part in a race around this area. When I was growing up, I used to run and cycle on most of the roads we were running today. My first ever long distance run was done on these roads. We even ran past the back of our family farm, where I lived until I was 18. We don't own it anymore, so it was nice to see it all again.

Race Spectators

The race didn't have many spectators today, with only a couple of families cheering from their gardens. However, we did have a goat, three donkeys and a field full of calves watching us as we ran past. You don't get that in your town races.

Another big difference on today's race compared to town races, was that it got quiet on a few stretches of the course. I'd catch a glimpse of someone in front, and then not see anyone for the next few minutes. To be honest, I actually enjoyed it like that today.

I had a bit of trouble with my headphones during the mile 4, as they seemed to disconnect from my Bluetooth a couple of times. I stopped to sort them out, and this messed up my overall pace for the race. Nothing to get too worried about, but I would have liked to have kept my average at just over 8 minutes per mile.

Aghagallon Mid Summer Montiaghs Run
I'm not sure how bad my running form looks in this picture..

I still felt able to keep running at the 9 mile mark. In fact, I was actually trying to push the pace a bit at this stage. I seemed to have bursts of energy, and then my legs would remind me of the sports massage I'd had on Thursday. It wasn't painful, but they just let me know that I still had to take it easy..

As you can probably guess, I didn't win the race with my official time of 1 hr 20 mins 33 secs. I was happy enough with that, as most of my splits were about the pace I was aiming for. It was just a shame I stopped during mile 4.

Aghagallon Mid Summer Montiaghs Run Results

4.4 Mile Male Winner - Niall Rankin - 28 Min 12 Sec
4.4 Mile Female Winner - Kate Mulholland - 30 Min 28 Sec

9.8 Mile Male Winner - Gerard Heaney - 58 Min 16 Sec
9.8 Mile Female Winner - Eileen Stevenson - 1 Hour 11 Min 09 Sec

Aghagallon Mid Summer Montiaghs Run Pint
This is what you need after running a long race.. 

Since it was held in a pub car park, it seemed only right to finish with some of the black stuff.. I stayed for a while talking to a few of the runners and organisers, after a very enjoyable morning. I soon sobered up though, as there was an ice bath taken as soon as I got home. Anyway, one or two pints was enough for me at that time of day... I'm in training you know.

It was £10 entry fee, with all proceeds going to Davina's Ark, which helps people with addiction. A great cause, but I did feel slightly guilty about standing with a pint of beer in my hand as we we being told where the money was going.

I'll be marking this run on the calendar for next year. A great way to spend a Sunday morning, with a very relaxed feel. Just what I needed this morning.

Half Marathon James

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