The race yesterday was great fun. Youghal is a cool little city on the coast of Ireland, about an hour from Cork. The race organizers were very friendly and made me feel welcome. One guy, after noting my running gear, volunteered the locations of the race registration, start and finish line. I probably looked lost. Or maybe he was excited about the race. I saw him later on and he shook my hand and thanked me for coming. A woman at the race headquarters helped me figure out where to stow my gear bag. She later introduced me as being from the US and told me my husband should stop by for the refreshments when he came to pick me up.
Turns out I wasn’t the only American at the race. Some dude from Michigan came in 4th place. I think I might’ve seen him when I was doing my last loop. I thought he might’ve sounded American when he cheered me on (and I shouted back “good job!” to him). If you happen to read this, random dude who cheered me only, apologies if you’re not American. Race addled and all that.
And oh my god, the food spread they had post race was by far the best I’ve ever had. I don’t even know what I ate, but there were all sorts of sandwiches and baked goods, all delicious. I ate the spiced cake thing with a slightly tart glaze on it that was incredible. I’d have eaten it all if it wouldn’t have been rude. Still wishing I’d grabbed a few more. US race organizers take note: more homemade sandwiches and goodies at the finish line. 🙂
The race course itself was three loops through town. It was flat, probably the flattest course I’ve run, which was helpful because I’ve been doing major hills back in Kinsale. Not that I hate hills, but it was a good break. There were quite a few spectators, which I enjoy. I wouldn’t have thought I would as I generally prefer no one to see me do anything. But I do find their encouragement helpful and fun. I especially love the excitement of the children as we run by, some holding their ands out for the runners to slap (which I alway oblige when I can) and how seriously they take their job of passing out water at the aid stands.
Just before the finish line is a tavern called Moby Dick where John Huston filmed the same named movie. I could see. It from about a half mile away, and, boy was I cheered to see the big whale painted on the side of the building. I was running hard the whole race, and although I probably could’ve done another loop or two, I was still looking for “tricks” to keep my momentum going. Running takes a lot of mental toughness because the brain wants to stop a long time before the body truly needs to.
I finished this race in a mad sprint. For some reason, when I get into the running zone, I become highly suggestible, so when one of the spectators shouted at me to catch up with the woman ahead of me (quite a ways ahead of me, I might add), I didn’t think twice and took off. I damn near beat her too, except that weird feeling bad about passing people kicked in at the last second.
And I mean last second. I’m listed as finishing literally one second after her.
I really need to lose that politeness at the finish line. Lol.
The people here are very fast runners. Back home, my performance would have likely put me in the running for an age award in most local races. Here, I was ranked 173 of 258 runners. I haven’t checked out precisely where I fell among women (and the record listing of age categories looked incomplete), but it doesn’t really matter. I’m a little sore this morning and I killed my previous race paces. And I know I’m going to continue to get faster. And I still can’t believe I’ve only been doing this since February.
I’m feeling happy about my results. I’ve noticed, however, no matter how well I perform, I also question whether I’d done my “best.” I know this stems from perpetually trying to please my mother. Luckily, this is of of the few remnants of her nagging me in my head when I run. Her voice has been drowned out by better ones and I use the echoes to serve me to come the better runner I want to become.
Back in September, when I first started walking on the treadmill with the dream of eventually starting to run, I don’t think even dreamer me thought I’d be doing this well. I’d been a 43 year old couch potato (albeit a kind of restless one; I’ve never been good at sitting still for long, although of necessity in my childhood, I did force myself into it else risk the wrath of my mother who preferred to pretend I didn’t exist). I don’t want to toss out the ole “if I can do it, you can too” because my training is no joke. But I will say anyone can get off their butt and make big changes with a slow and steady plan. And no excuses.
I’m supposed to take the day off from running today. I think it’s going to be hard to do. But I will be walking around town some more, maybe doing an official tour of some sort. The weather here has been outrageously beautiful. My experience here thus far makes me really proud to be part Irish.
Thank you, people of Youghal, for a great race experience!
fun note: they used to hang people from the clock tower shown in the first picture