Mick Tobin - Tuam 8k

Mick Tobin - Tuam 8k

Having spent a happy hour glued to the superb race booklet that Athenry AC produced for their recent 10k on St Stephen’s Day, I decided it was time to write my first personal race report following the Tuam 8k on 2 January. Having targeted the Athenry 10k for months and having got a new 10k PB that day, I was treating the Tuam race a little less seriously and ate plenty of chocolate between 26 December and 2 January (contributing an extra 4 or 5 lbs to my race weight since 26/12) although still confident of an 8k PB as I had made considerable improvements since my last 8k in the Streets of Galway. I travelled over to Tuam with Diarmuid Quill and Tom Callanan, and Diarmuid’s daughter Caoimhe and my son Pádraic both of whom were taking part in the juvenile 1 mile race. We arrived in Tuam around 1.15pm and wandered up to the race check-in. Bill Doran was a couple of places ahead of me in the queue for check-in and he exclaimed that we were cutting it tight for the juvenile race at 1.30pm. Unfortunately we had assumed the juveniles were off at 2pm and hadn’t read the small print on the application form, which indicated the earlier start. So I dashed down to the start with Caoimhe and Pádraic ”“ probably about an 800m run, so they had already run half the race distance at pace before they got to the starting line. Quick change out of their tracksuits and onto the start line, just as a panting Quill senior arrived down with Caoimhe’s number. 2 minutes later they were off and their exhausted fathers set about their own warm-up routine after their 800m sprint. Thankfully both Caoimhe’s and Pádraic’s energy levels were not too depleted after their ‘warm-up’, with both taking 5th place in their races and setting their dads a hard act to follow. Their Craughwell club-mates David Porter and Linda Porter won the juvenile races ”“ given hope to us aging seniors of team success if we can hang on for 4 or 5 more years!

Back to the senior race, I completed my warm-up at a more leisurely pace and jogged down to the start line with Craughwell’s finest all kitted out in their sparkling new singlets ”“ we certainly were going to feature in the prizes for best dressed teams if we didn’t make the podium for running ability. We had teams in both men’s and women’s races, with Anne Kelly, Lorraine Creaven, Kathleen Waters, Nuala Keady, Carmel Callanan, Mark Davis, Diarmuid Quill, Tony Nevin, Bill Doran, Keith Callanan, Seamus Creaven and Tom Callanan.

The race got underway shortly after 2pm and almost immediately a leading bunch of 5 started to pull away, comprising GCH’s Ian Egan, Loughrea duo Jason Broderick and Martin Corcoran, Craughwell’s Mark Davis and Conor Moloney. Down as unattached on the entry sheets, this Conor Moloney ran a cracking race to finish in 4th place. With an Athenry address, its surprising that the Athenry press-gang had not already discovered this guy who ran top-notch times in both the Athenry 10k and Tuam 8k. Hopefully he’s just home on holidays from Australia so we’ll have some chance of beating Athenry in a road race later in the year! Myself and Darragh O’Brien trailed off the leading bunch a lot more slowly than usual ”“ an indication that we were running reasonably well. We went through the first km in 3:19, my fastest time ever for a first km. Mark later told me the leading bunch went through in 3:04 ”“ some pace! I was tailing Darragh at this stage, letting him do the hard work. Around 2km, he beckoned to me to come forward, to which I duly obliged. He muttered something about taking it steady, which sounded good to me as I was running close to a stitch. Between 2 and 3km, a John O’Brien (GCH) and Ronald Naylor (Mayo AC) passed us. Then Mick Rice and another Mayo AC runner Dominic Regan pulled alongside and pushed the pace forward. For a while, a group of 4 or 5 of us ran together but I was struggling to keep the pace, which was averaging around 3:30 per km at this point. For a while, Darragh looked like he was going to stick with Mick & Co but gradually both of us fell back and on the downhill part of the hilly 4th kilometer, I started to open a small gap on him.

Up to this point of the race, Darragh was my main driver as I had finished ahead of him for the first time in Athenry and was hoping to do the same again today. If I had a greater mental resolve, maybe I’d have stuck with Mick and got closer to 28 minutes ”“ who knows, maybe that would have caused me to blow up instead. We reached the halfway point of the 2-lap race to the pleasant sound of the large Craughwell contingent of supporters shouting words of encouragement. I was running on my own at this point of the race, gladly listening to Darragh’s fading footsteps behind me as the gap increased slowly. Unfortunately the gap ahead of me was also increasing and the Christmas chocolates were preying on my mind as I reflected on my ‘imperfect’ week of preparation for this race. We reached the 6k marker and I glanced at the watch to see 21:01 ”“ excellent, an average of 3:30 per k. I was doing much better than I felt and was cheered up by the thought of an unreal sub-28 if I could get slightly faster over the last 2k ”“ an impossible task as it turned out, particularly because of the hilly section. Going around the bend onto the N17, I felt a numbing sensation in my right calf ”“ almost like a cramp that made it very difficult to continue at a fast pace. Not excruciating pain, not pins and needles ”“ just a numbing feeling and very uncomfortable. Maybe I could have kept pushing the pace without bothering about it but in my mind, I was concerned that I’d do damage and eased off slightly ”“ hitting 3:46 and 3:48 for the last 2k. I was slowly starting to reel in the Mayo AC athlete ahead of me, but the hilly last k did not suit a fast finish in my case and I closed the gap from perhaps 40 metres to around 15 over the last k, but ran out of road to get any closer. Crossed the line in 28:35 and was extremely pleased with my time ”“ a new PB for 8k and over a 2 minute improvement on my last 8k time in August. The winner of the overall race was Jason Broderick from Loughrea, in a fantastic time of 26:26 ”“ definitely big things to come from this guy.

I was delighted to be almost within 30 seconds of Mick Rice on a day when he set a PB himself for 8k. In the last few months, I’ve finished close to Mick ”“ but each time heard that Mick had run a couple of marathons or an ultra-marathon that week so I couldn’t really take pride in my finish on those occasions! A PB for James Lundon also in 32 minutes + a handful of seconds, edging ever closer to that elusive sub-4 minute per km. Mark finished the race in a fantastic time of 27:38 and 5th position ”“ again a PB for him and further improvements to come I’m sure. I watched at the finish as the rest of the Craughwell men’s team finished - Diarmuid coming in with a blistering 35:01 - a new PB by several minutes for him, slightly ahead of Tony in 35:14, Bill next in 36:12, Seamus 36:45, Keith 41:28 and Tom 41:29. Craughwell’s women’s team, in only their 2nd outing, put in super races with Anne Kelly first of the bunch in 43:00 despite spending the previous 18 hours ill with a stomach bug, Lorraine Creaven in her first race ever next in 44:47, followed by Kathleen Waters and Nuala Keady giving it everything to finish next with Kathleen at 45:04 and Nuala about a minute later. Our ladies team is definitely on the up when you consider it was their 2nd competitive outing and that the longest training run for most of the team was 3 or 4 miles. The ladies team finished 4th behind Mayo AC, GCH and Tuam while the men’s team finished 6th behind Mayo AC, Clare River Harriers, GCH, Loughrea and Athenry. Even though we were well down the teams list, it was an encouraging performance for our club ”“ everyone enjoyed the race, many set new personal bests and I’m sure all will run again in the next local road race where ever that might be ”“ who knows, maybe it will be in Craughwell!