The only thing missing from Loughrea on Tuesday night last (14

May 2013) was an ark but there were strong rumours that one was

being warmed up down on the grey lake, less than half a mile away

from the start/finish line.

Galway Series 8.3 or #42 (Year 8, Race 3 or Race 42) was

seamlessly organised and run off by our good friends & neighbours

in Loughrea AC.  Good to see all the old faces as well as most of

the newer ones from that club out in force on a horrible evening

for organising anything, let alone running.  The usual, almost

perfectly triangular course was laid out, which most of us have

recurring nightmares about, especially that stretch between 2.9

and 3.9KM.

There was almost no one milling around the school at half 7 but

come 7:58PM, we had 526 (those with chips anyhow) toeing the

line, already very wet but with spirits intact, although suitably

dampened by torrential rain.  

Did I tell you it was raining already?

The rain probably scared away a good 75+ "part-timers": with the

series tops only needing four races to secure this year,

discretion was the better part of valour for many given the

eveing that was in it.

I got the guts of a KM warm-up done, but in wretched conditions.

Felt better than I did last week, when I ran a rank first two KM

up the hill in Claregalway.  I was hoping for a good time in

Loughrea (sub 20:30) but the conditions were not going to help me

in any meaningful way.

And without much (any?) ado, we were sent on our way by the LAC

starter.  I just about had my Ironman watch primed for action.

Poor old John (Red Tag) Cunniffe looked very shook trying to

shelter from the rain, while getting the timing mats to do their

job properly under very stressful conditions for any technology.

There was water everywhere but once you are out and racing in it,

it doesn't matter, and Tuesday evening last was no exception.  I

enjoyed the first KM, some of which was spent with my current

greatest adversary, who dropped back before the one KM marker not

to be seen again before the finish.  I continued to be passed by

people all the way to after 2KM, where things eventually settled

down.  I was passed by a club mate around then who couln't resist

nudging me as *she* passed by.  I await the opportunity to pass

her out in a race and return the compliment, which will probably

be never ;-).

Then we hit the massive puddle, of which there was no escape.

All the 4M @ KM runners just flailed through it but I later heard

tales of carnage back the field with motorway-like pile-ups when

this section of the road was encountered.  It was only five steps

long, unlike the mammoth 17-steps-wide lough that greets runners

around 6KM in the Fields last Stephen's Day.  Even Athenry AC

cannot account for everything on our big race day!

Around the corner and up the boreened hill, probably the only

part of the race where the wind was fully behind us.  I recall

passing someone I didn't know around then, who obviously had gone

out too hard.  A fallen hero in battle!  There but for the grace

of God goes any of us at some stage or another.

Around the corner and up to 3KM, with the impending "hillock"

smiling menacingly but fully behind the clump of trees hiding the

3KM marker.  Another club mate had not run that hill before now,

so I knew she was already "enjoying" its charms up ahead.  I felt

I was going well enough.  The usual suspects were all up ahead

and not too far up ahead either.  No people were passing me that

I felt shouldn't be either.

A "sham" friend was ahead, silently beckoning me - with his

trademark shuffling gait - to catch up with him, something I

failed to do before the finish line, much to my chagrin.  Another

long-time adversary was in my eye-line, walking, not an unusual

eventuality for him.  I passed two other fallen comrades taking

the hill in walking mode soon after.  I said nothing to either,

not knowing them, and not nearly well enough to abuse them ;-).

There are a lot of people in the series this year in the early

20s (those with a shouting change of breaking 20 for 5KM before

the end) who are little known on the usual Galway road race

circuit.  There are also just a lot of people in that time

window, which is a double-edged sword.  Good and bad.  Lot of

company but on congested roads.

Got to the top of the hill, semi-top anyhow, without being passed

by more than one or two, but I knew there had to be a posse

behind.  I only passed those walking, so knew that I wasn't going

badly but I wasn't going gung-ho well either.

I am much better travelling up hill than down, so once we hit

4KM, I knew that I would be passed and would not pass (m)any

more.  That was the way things remained until the finish.  The

road was slippy but not unduly so, less than I expected before

the race started.

The chairman passed me near the line, and I didn't even realise

it until the results and photos afterwards!  I crossed in 20:37,

the exact same as last week but felt like I'd run a much stronger

and better race, up to 15-20 seconds better i.e. on a good day, I

would have been down under 20:20 I believe.

That was still a bit back from 20:03 on the same course last

year, which I wrote about separately here.  I was deeply

touched when another adversary came up to me after Claregalway

last week and mentioned that report I wrote last year.  Those

small things means a lot, as it indicates that at least four or

five people actually read these meanderings!

I just haven't done the necessary work (any work, some of my

clubmates would say) to do any better, simple as that, or as the

young and/or hip people says these days, much to my confusion and

annoyance, "My Bad!"

"My Bad" Wha', Gay?  WTF?

There wasn't much chat at the finish line as the rain was still

pelting down, so I kept moving and went back out the course to

cheer on a few of the others coming home, including the two

presidents who were where I expected them to be, and in the

correct & current sequence too, though "slower" is getting closer

to "quicker" as the series goes along.  Could be quite

interesting by the end of the series as long as they both start

in the same wave, unlike the DCM of the last few years - just

like heavyweights avoiding having to fight each other until there

is no other option ;-).  People do notice these things...

That makes it 39 finishes out of 42 series races run, with only

only four people having run more than I have: the three series

stalwarts each have run all 42, and my good pal and clubmate on

41 (who was a helper at the other very early race but should have

run).  PErsonally speaking, I missed GCH in 2006 (breaking the

sequence earlier is a much less stressful thing to do than later)

and was RD on two other occasions in Newcastle.

Onwards to a date with Elvis in Craughell but no sub-20 in 2013,

unlike last year :-(.  All Shook Up!




4:43 (OUCH!)