It doesn't matter how or what you feel before the gun goes...


Tuam 8KM.


Tuam, Co. Galway.


2 January 2006 @ 2:00 PM.




Cloudy, dull, cold, spits of rain, road fairly dry though.


Nearly twice around a circuit from the centre to the northern

end of the town of Tuam.


120 runners including at least 8 from Athenry AC and



Wasn't sure of making this race so did a fairly hard 7.2M the

day before just in case I didn't. Another first: run long

before race day and see what happens. Performance affecting

or not?

Low-key race with race HQ a good mile from the start. There

in good time. Very sombre warm-up. Felt like sh-ite. Could

hardly get one leg in front of the other. Prevailing weather

condition and dampness of the conditions can't have helped.

Eventually got to the start after tooling around for nearly an

hour. Got to Tuam thinking the race was at 1:30 when it fact

it was 2:00; the juvenile race was at 1:30.

Haphazard enough starting point: the entrance just up and

across the road from Pulse Engineering. A decent crowd, with

a goodly number down from Mayo for it.

Lined up with Alan Burke and Ray O'Connor. Al wasn't saying

much; Ray had run only twice since the NYC marathon nearly two

months before. I knew who I would be trying to track...

First KM was a bit of a scramble until the positions sorted

themselves out. Fairly good standard field and a goodly

number of runners around me to boot. Maura Dervin from

Roscommon was just in front of me. The last three times we'd

raced together, she's beaten me, including Claregalway 05 and

Loughrea 04. Beaten me well too. I would do well to keep her

in my sights, if I could.

Fast first KM to sort us all out. Passed a lad - who shall

remain nameless - at 1KM who was patently out of his depth.

He really should know better than that too as he's raced

around the West enough times by now to know what he can and

can't do. Strange!

Was tracking Al all the time. Michael McMahon was with us for

the first KM but soon dropped off. He was a tiny bit

optimistic trying to keep up with a 4:00 per KM pace on all

known form :(.

Al has a strange stride pattern: almost a shuffle but with

negligible hand movement, though he holds them quite high to

his body. Took my bit of pacemaking going down the by-pass

when he slagged me for not "helping out." I didn't realise

middle-of-the-fielders had to work for each other? I'd show


Was keeping an eye on what was happening up ahead. There was

a knot of 5 or 6 runners, most of whom I'm met before during

races around the same place. Noreen McManamon zoomed past me

after 500M but didn't really cut into me much more after that,

until much nearer the end. Could see Rory Brennan 50 or 60

metres ahead sporting his trademark red bandana. A hard act

to miss on a deadly dreary day in Tuam in January.

Around the corner and up the hill towards 2KM. Turn at the

petrol station and a stiff incline; cross the road and hope

not to mis-judge oncoming traffic. There was a steward there

the first time around but she'd disappeared when we came

through again 15 minutes later :(. Down the hill and back

into town. Over the river/stream and up to The Square and

3KM. The field had spread out well at this stage.

Al was still behind me but he came up alongside as we went out

of The Square and down towards Jarlath's. Showboating for the

crowd? Peter Delmer got a good shot of the two of us stride

for stride at the cathedral. Clicked over 4KM soon after. Al

suddenly dropped back?!?

The important split for me was the 5KM split, which was out

the road before the turn onto the bypass for the second time.

I was going well enough, surprisingly so. Still "underwater",

as is the case with all short races, but not in any great

distress. Never once looked behind: business as usual there.

Rory was coming back to me. He seem to slow down quite a bit

between 4KM and 5.5KM as I caught him midways up the bypass.

Surprised to see me, I'll bet ;).

Didn't really have the energy to kick past him and was

comfortable to stay with him, thinking he didn't know what he

should do in such circumstances: try to burn me off by surging

ahead when I was at my weakest after catching him.

Damn him, he surged! I stuck with him. He surged again,

coming up to the roundabout. I went with him again. In the

process of these two mini-bursts, we'd both gone past two

fellow travellers: Maura and a fella I didn't recognise.

Strange experience for me to be passing runners in the second

half of a short race (Ed. - any race?). No sign of Al, yet?

Up the hill again to 7KM, past the petrol station and another

struggler was passed. Not really sure whether I was going

*that* well or whether it was the others going *that* badly.

Checked my watch at 5KM and noted that it was about 19:40.

Didn't check again until the finish, though I felt I would

lose time having to take in that series of hills and valleys

over the last two KM. 32:00 or lower was still on? Spied

4:00 at 6KM. Didn't compute what that meant at the time


Tried to stride out and a little after 7KM passed another lad,

who was walking. Hamstring problems? My own left hammer had

pinched me very early on but it hadn't given me any further

problems, thankfully.

Had what turned out to be Terry Grogan in my sights over the

last KM but wasn't able to press home any further advantage on

him. Actually, he probably took a few seconds out of me over

the last 400 metres.

Up the final hill, around The Square and down to the finish,

outside SuperValu(e).

Clocked myself at 32:05, the official result giving me 32:11.

I know I didn't click for two or three seconds at the off but

this was still over three ticks more than I expected to be

given. No matter!

Al put in a big sprint to come in just behind me. Last

time we clashed, he walloped me in the Novice Cross Country in

Athlone last month. Can't take me for granted any more, chief


Rory was involved in some hand-to-hand combat with a lad from

Clare, half a minute later, it was reported afterwards in

dispatches. Rory's bandana won. Your man was dazzled into

submission? Maura came a few seconds later still.

Mick was gutted to find he was 7th and just outside the

prizes. Johnny O'Connor ran well within himself to get into

the 30's. Ray recorded a PW (as he said himself). Personal

Worst! Only two runs in two months, what does he expect?

One of the lads Garmin'ed the course while running it and

reported, quite disappointingly to me, that it recorded

7.89KM. Please don't tell me it's so, please?!? PB by a full

14 seconds for the 8KM and a 6 second PB for the 5KM, *if* the

course isn't short. A few of the KM markers looked dodgy

enough too from my splits and others' too.

Back into the school hall and stuck around for 90 minutes

waiting, in vain, for a set of results and the prize giving.

No prizes were coming to us anyhow but it's always nice to

close out the day with the prize giving.

Now the heavy training can begin in earnest... Next stop

Ballycotton and Connemara in March!












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