Carlingford in Ireland, County Louth, is nestled at the foot of mountains by the sea. It’s a beautiful Irish village with many historic buildings and even a castle to explore. It also happens to be a great setting for a Half Marathon race.
But I nearly didn’t run it…
There were a number of factors putting me off — communication from race directors wasn’t very clear and the organization seemed a little chaotic (1-3), the weather (4), and an injured running buddy (5).
(1) I wasn’t aware bibs would be mailed to runners (I’d registered with a US address). It took a few attempts to get a reply from race organizers (facebook page was useless), but I eventually got my address updated to my parent’s in Ireland.
(2) The final information communication was late coming out and links to important information looked liked titles in the email. Again, eventually worked through this and got the information I needed.
(3) No parking plan — Carlingford is a tiny village and I wasn’t keen on the idea of driving all the way there and not finding somewhere to park (to be fair, I’m not sure where they could have used as designated parking anyway, and in the end we got parked, so…).
(4) Then there also the weather. The previous year the race had been postponed because of snow. I had high hopes for this year as we were having such good weather in Ireland leading up to the weekend. The night before it was forecast to rain all morning.
(5) My old pal, Brendan, was going to run it with me, but due to a sore calf muscle had to pull out a couple of days before the race.
But I’m SO Glad I did…
The night before Brendan contacted me to tell me he still wanted to go down to Carlingford to support me (and take a nosey around the shops). So I decided to go ahead and run it after all.
We got parked in the village without too much problem and even had time to grab a scone and explore before the race start at 10am. Most races in the US start really early in the morning (7am-8am), so the 10am start was nice.
I was so glad I hadn’t bailed on this race. Thanks to Brendan for giving me the extra push I needed. I would have regretted not running it regardless of the result. It is such a picturesque setting to run. I wanted to stop and take photos so many times.
How did it go?
There were 863 finishers for the half. I placed rather dismally in 627th place with a gun time of 2:01:11. Not my slowest half by any means, but I was hoping for something a little better.
The first three miles were up hill — nothing major, but continuous it seemed like and in my opinion not “gentle” as described on the website. The hills took us through the village and out into the countryside.
It was an OPEN road race. I’d not experienced that before. I know we have open road races in the US, but this race was on roads with barely enough room for two cars to pass.
In saying that, although we had cars passing and pulling into the middle of the runners, it didn’t seem to affect the race. It certainly didn’t ruin my experience in any way, and did not feel dangerous.
Miles 4-11 went great — sub 9 pace — I was feeling good. The rain that was forecast hadn’t arrived yet. The sea front section was windy, but a large part of that the wind was blowing from behind which was great.
At mile 10, the rain came. It wasn’t heavy and I welcomed it. In fact it could have started raining at mile 3 and I would have been happy.
Things went bad at miles 12-13. My legs started to feel really heavy. They were probably still recovering from the 20 miles the week before. I started to struggle with side-stitches and then backache. At mile 12.5 I actually stopped to walk and stretch it out a little.
A lady ran past and shouted, “You can’t stop now!”. She was right. That give me the motivation I needed to pick up my legs and finish.
I do wish it would have been easier. I would have at least come away feeling better about running a full marathon in two weeks.