Monday, April 8, 2013

Bray 10km Cliff Run 2013

There I am at the back in black, probably
wiping snot off my face.
No one said running
was glamorous.
This was a thoroughly enjoyable and challenging race! It was a lot harder than I expected and it really pushed me to my limits. It was organised and executed with excellent efficiency and all the staff and volunteers were proficient, encouraging and helpful! The multi-terrain experience and the breathtaking scenery gave this race an edge that you can rarely find these days!

The day started on a rather unpleasant note as I had to get a troublesome root canal retreated. To make matters worse, my appointment was in Newry, Co.Down and I completely underestimated the amount of pain I would be in following the procedure so I spent the entirety of my bus journey back to Dublin trying not to get sick from the pain in my face. Life is cruel sometimes! But, four counties and a lot of painkillers later, I wasn’t feeling too bad! It was a beautiful sunny day so it was hard to be in a bad mood as I made my way into the city centre to meet my brother. We met at Pearse station and got the Dart out to Bray, the scenery was breathtaking as we meandered around the coast. We noted how the picturesque views didn’t quite add up to Ireland as it felt like we were looking at a different country.

When we reached Bray we made our way to the Martello Hotel on the Bray promenade to register and drop our stuff off. The registration was very quick and efficient and we were on our way back to the train station to get the Dart to Greystones within half an hour. It would have been quicker if I had wore my running gear in the first place but I had to get changed at the hotel. While registering you had to state whether you can do a 10km in under 50 minutes or over, if under you were put into the first wave and if over you were in the second. When running the race I realised why it made a lot of sense as the paths along the cliffs are very narrow and at some points can only be run in single file. I was in the second wave so I started at 7pm, whereas the first wave started 10 minutes earlier at 6:50pm.

I hate the wait before a race, I’m always filled with a lot of nervous energy, anticipation, excitement and worry! It was pretty windy and cold having to wait for the second wave to begin so it was hard to warm up and I felt pretty ill prepared. No point in dwelling on it I thought and when the siren rang, off I went! The start line was on the beach so you had to run for about 700-800m on sand before we hit road which was definitely challenging! The only way I can describe is it like running with two invisible cement blocks attached to my feet. You're constantly trying to displace the sand to make your footing but the sand is so soft and constantly shifting so there’s a constant drag on your feet. Just had a cheeky google of sand running and apparently it requires 1.6 times the energy that running on a hard surface requires. It definitely felt like an exercise in futility but I got there in the end and I’ve never been happier to see road before in my life.

After the shore, came the cliff path. This beautiful scenic track which is roughly 7km follows the train line along the cliffs of Bray Head. As I ran along its steep cliffs I was in awe of the stunning and impressive views, which was only intensified by the uncharacteristic beautiful weather. The uninterrupted views helped keep my mind off of the burning in my legs and chest as I was trying to overtake as many people as I could. Not that easy on a narrow track that at most can hold two runners abreast! The first few kilometres went gently uphill for the majority of the time and at other times, not so gently! There was a few steep inclines involving steps and there was a lot of rocks to navigate. The terrain on the cliff path is a bit dangerous if you weren’t careful, I saw one poor guy nearly buckle himself but he quickly found his balance! At the beginning of the cliff path I found it pretty hard to breath and I felt like my asthma was at me which has never happened before. I think there was a lot of pollen in the air that was the potential culprit but at about the 5km mark I started to feel a bit better and I picked up a good bit more speed. There was a water stop at the 5km mark which was rather glorious, the water was ice cold and it was just what I needed! I was going pretty much head to head with a girl the entire race, she had managed to stay ahead of me for the first 5km but then I decided to overtake her and we spent the next 4km leapfrogging each other until I finally took the lead on the downhill stretch into bray village. Man, I really flew down that hill, I love running downhill so I just let loose on it and decided to go as quick as I possibly could.

The final part of the race is something I don’t think I will ever forget in a hurry. In fact, I think it will be a recurring nightmare for years to come. I’ve went through a 60m barbed wire crawl face deep in mud, an electric shock pit and I’ve been plunged in freezing cold water and all of that was a cakewalk compared to the last kilometre of this course! The last part of the run was along the beachfront in Bray but the beach wasn’t sandy, it was rocky. Thousands and thousands of devil rocks. If I thought running in the sand felt like cement blocks tied to my feet, this was the equivalent of having two dead bodies strapped on there. Who were obese... and had eaten some cement blocks. I got halfway down the beach and I’m desperately trying to think about anything but the fact that I’m running, I have my ipod in my hand frantically trying to find a song that is metal enough to forget the pain. I refuse to look up and remind myself how much further I have to run so I fix my eyes on the ground straight in front of me. I chance a look up and I see it, a beacon of hope in an otherwise hopeless world. The finish line! I think cool it’s only there, I can do that no problem! So I get the inspiration I need to increase my speed and all is going well until I realise that people are running PAST the finish line and further up the beach. As I get closer I realise we have to run to the bottom of the beach, and then run back on the footpath to the finish line. It was a merciless realisation that made my heart sink into my runners. What else is there to do but run though! I was about 100m away from the finish line, my legs and lungs were burning with the fire of a thousand suns and I didn’t think I could go much further, until.... I saw the girl I overtook edge her way into my peripheral vision. I’m pretty sure I shouted “Oh hell no!” but I had earphones in so I have no idea how audible it was. Nevertheless, I mustered whatever energy I had left from the fiery depths of my burning body and I sprinted to the finish line and beat her. I meant to go up to her afterwards and thank her for a good race but I swiftly collapsed in a heap on the grass and died for a few minutes. So, on the off chance she sees this, thanks! I honestly thought I was one of the last people to come in and that it had taken me an age but I ran the race in 53.22 and I am absolutely delighted! I ranked 206th out of 341 which I’m very happy about! I ranked 23rd out 110 women, putting me in the top 20%. All in all, I am happy with my performance considering my horrible morning and dodgy chest! This hopefully means I should do a sub 50 minute 10km for my next race which will more than likely be the Flora Women’s Mini Marathon.

Here's a picture of my nice bloody sock
afterwards that I thought you might enjoy.

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