Another month, another race in the Phoenix Park in Dublin. I’ll be doing the Great Ireland Run 2014 on 6 April.
While its parent race, the Great North Run, is a half-marathon, the Dublin event is only 10 kilometres. But it’s a prestigious race – the only one in Ireland to have IAAF recognition. Also, it’ll be shown live on RTE television, and not even the Dublin Marathon gets that treatment any more.
And the women’s elite competition features the last two winners of the European Cross Country title – reigning champion Sophie Duarte of France and Ireland’s Fionnuala Britton, whose presence should guarantee some fervent home support. Wouldn’t it be great if Duarte and Britton produced the same sort of hell-for-leather duel with which Kenenisa Bekele and Mo Farah electrified last year’s Great North Run?
Unfortunately, double-defending men’s champion Bekele won’t be at this year’s event. He’s doing the Paris Marathon that day – so in effect he and I have swapped races.
For all levels of runner, the Great Ireland Run course is a good challenge. The first half is flat, but then the race hits the hills and S- bends of the Military Road. Then after a downhill stretch to the Glen lake, the Upper Glen Road rises up to greet you in the second-last kilometre. (Most races that take the Upper Glen Road come down it – except for the Colour Dash last July, which went up it and thus proves to be valuable preparation for the Great Ireland Run.)
These hills aren’t particularly steep in isolation, and if they came at the start of the race you mightn’t notice them too much. But any hill that looms in the second half of a race can prove to be as much a mental challenge as a physical one. You can’t get around it – so just get over it. Keep something in reserve during the first 5 kilometres. Then when you reach the hills, slow down a little or even walk if you must – but just keep moving forward and stay positive. You can use the downhill section to catch your breath, gain some time and gather some energy for the second hill.
And you might find it helpful to use a mantra to get you over the hills – not one of those wishy-washy inspirational quotes but something meaningful and true like “Just keep lifting your feet and you’ll finish” or (my favourite) “I want my P.B.!” or even a good old “Come on!” to yourself.
So what am I aiming for in this race? Well, I ran 43:55 in my first race at this distance, the Fit Magazine City Series 10K in March, so I’ll be trying to beat that time and set a new personal best. I’ve been training well this past month, and hopefully my swimming lessons count as rock-hard cross-training. (Either that or I’ll prove to be exhausted on race day.)
The Great Ireland Run is shaping up to be a great race – see you there or see me on television!