05 July 2011

Achill Half Marathon 2011

The weekend was planned in advance, run a half marathon and celebrate with a good 2 day session. Friday came around and we were ready to leave the beautiful Galway and head to Achill island in Mayo. There was 4 in the car for the spin up. Myself, Paul,Stephen and Sarah. The car boot was well loaded with luggage. We got to Castlebar over an hour and a bit and stocked the car up more. This time it was full of 98 bottles of alcohol. The bumpy road to Achill was well going to be felt in the sporty suspension Golf. Hitting them 'droichead'. We got up there just past 10pm. We arrived at our weekend accommodation in which was Paul's girlfriend's Grannies house. She was great letting us have the house for the weekend and also then stock up the fridge for us. Hospitality at its best. We offloaded the drink and luggage in the car and hit down to register before it closed.  We got our numbers and also other treats in a bag and hit back to the house. On the way back we said we got our t-shirt and mug now, we could go back to Galway now. Emmet arrived up from Clare and also stayed in the house.  Got a cuppa coffee and a sandwich into me and headed off to bed in order to be fresh for the race. 

It took me awhile to nod of, excitement and nerves were kicking in. I did wake 3 times during the night but once 8am arrived I was feeling refreshed. Chatted with Sarah for a half an hour and then got up and got some porridge with banana for breakfast.  Paul's brother Brendan drove up that day and we were all chatting away and having the crack.  I then began to get into my running apparel.  Put the magic Vaseline on to stop the chaffing and also the weather was getting hotter so i threw on some sunscreen. Steve nearly put on the whole bottle on, he looked like Casper. I had everything and was ready and we hit off down to Keel, Stretches was performed, last minute nerves to the toilet was released and we lined up behind the Achill pipe band. 

Emmet,Brendan, Paul F, Paul Mc, Stephen

 I had predicted a time of 2.35 for myself. i was going to say 2.30 but after recent talks on the hills in Achill and how some people rate it the hardest road half marathon in Ireland. I forgot to take a few puffs of the inhaler at the start so that was on my mind. Was starting to panic a bit and then Bang were off.  I told myself i will take it slower and just have a natural warm up. I quickly got into a rhythm and settled in with the 1200 other participants. I brought along 3 energy gels and water stops were every 3 miles.  After the first mile or two, i found myself breathing hard and had a pain in my left lung. I wasn't too impressed and was questioning my ability to do this. Mile 2,3 and 4 was a steady climb. I came across the first water stop at 26mins thought that was mile 3. I said i have done that too fast only to realise mile 3 was another few hundred yards up the road. It was around 30mins when i crossed the 3mile. Still a bit too fast for me as it was uphill. After mile 4 then it was downhill for a good stretch. I really enjoyed the stretch and downed my first energy gel at 43mins.  I just kept my head down and plodded along. When i did hit 6.5mile, I was thinking 'O God im just half way' but just put one leg in front of the other. Knocked back another energy Gel around 1.20 mark.

It was pretty much new territory after the 1h 30min mark. The hills were coming hard and heavy and i knew it was a nasty one for the last one.  I found myself to be walking up them. I wasn't losing to much ground and was getting my heart rate down to a normal rhythm. I then try and pick it up on the flat or down slopes. My head at that stage was only thinking of the finish. Then I began to hear the announcer talking on the mic, it began to get louder and louder. I came back running into Keel and was looking for the finish line.  Still a few more turns left but with people clapping kept me ticking over and then there was my new friend called 'Finish'. I looked at my watch and it gave a time of 2h 35mins. I was bang on my prediction.  Brendan was at the finish line waiting for Paul to come in. I went over to him for a second, Grabbed a water and then went back a few meters before the line to meet Sarah. Paul's girlfriend Danielle came out of the first aid tent and asked me to call her when Paul was coming in. 10mins later  Paul and Emmet were coming in together. I went over to get Danielle but them guys were having a race between themselves. Usain Bolt be pretty impressed with there final 100 meter sprint. Emmet got to the line first and we all got around to have a chat about the course even  though it was more  lying down on the ground and not talking.  Energy was sucked well out of me.  We got a group photo at the finish line. Will probably be expensive but if it is a good photo then will pick it up.  

Pos Bib Name Finish
59 1480 Brendan Fahy 01:33:26
82 Stephen Broderick 01:36:50
1018 495 Paul McDonagh 02:36:21
1065 605 Emmet OHalloran 02:46:24
1066 237 Paul Fahy 02:46:25

We stretched and rested on the beach for a half an hour then went to the food bus for our free burger. It was a long queue but the burger didn't last that long in my hand.  Then it was back to the house to start the drinking session.  It is amazing the things that go through your head when running. One thing that came through mine and Paul's head is why didn't we put a few bottles of beer in the fridge so it be nice and cold for when we got back. Brendan headed back to Galway and Emmet back to Clare. Dave Boyle came up to join us for the night.  There was a BBQ going on in Danielle's house and we were invited. Sure we headed down there around 5 just expecting a burger in a bun. There was a massive spread layed out. Chicken on a stick, Lamb on a stick. Burgers and salad of all kinds.  I got myself a good feed and had a couple of beers in the sun then went in to watch TV as Galway beat Clare in a hurling match.  It was hard to build up energy that night. Even the Haye versus Klitschko match lacked any atmosphere but that was on there part. We headed to the Achill head which we could barely walk in the pub then onto the nightclub which was also packed. I still managed to head out on the dance floor.  Dave dropped us back to house where a good sleep was needed. 

Sarah and I took off ourselves the following day after a good fry up. We took a walk along the beach in Keel. Nice feeling of the soft sand and cool water on my feet. It was a nice relaxing day at the beach. We didn't have a car with us so some nice chilled pints were needed by 3pm. Headed into the Minaun pub and watched the GAA match. It was another good session of drinking that night. Felt more fresh and energy was strong so I was on a good buzz throughout the whole night. Paul was shaking the floorboards on the dance floor.  

There was no hangover effect the following day despite the 12hour drinking session.  No one was in a rush to get home so we head to two beaches. We didn't bring any swimming gear to the first one so we headed back to the house and grabbed our togs and then hit some waves. We couldn't resist not getting into the gorgeous beach in Achill. Then myself and Stephen hit out for a 5k easy run on the beach followed by another jump into the sea.  The stomach was roaring to be fed and to finish of the trip, we hit to .Mastersons bar where the quality and quantity of food was unreal followed by a delicious desert. We then set off back to Galway and I doubt any of us will forget the great time we had in Achill. Thanks to organisers for holding a great event and to Danielle's family for there hospitality.  

A few photos are down below and also a YouTube video of the start where ya can see us around the 19 second mark.Click Here for more photos

1 comment:

Sean said...

Good job Paul, reads like a tough course, fair play to you getting through it and hitting your predicted time spot on!!

Onwars and upwards to your next half :)

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