So, in previous years back in 2016 and 2017, I was using this race as part of my training for Connemara 100mile on both occasions so I was regularly running numerous 20/30mile runs and was also regularly running back2back 20mile runs to get my body used to running tired. This year, however, was nothing like that by any stretch of the imagination.
While I have run a handfull of 20mile runs since January and around 2x 30mile runs I've not run very hilly routes and I'm certainly out of my normal running routine of 5-6 training days a week, instead, I'd say I'm averaging around 3 training days a week. However, I had signed up ansd paid for the Tullaroan Ultra back in Novermber of last year so I didn't want the money to go to waste :)
So keeping all of this in mind I headed off to Tullaroan for my usual 7am start for the Ultramarathon and for the first time my wife Grace came along with me to see me off at the start, this year 17 people stood at the start line of the ultra and due to my lack of training I figured I'd arrive somewhere at the middle of the pack at the finish line, nothing like my 4th place finish in 2016 or my 3rd place finish in 2018.
So off we went at 7am (including a guy in a Wolf costume) and the morning was lovely and cool with mist on the hills so it was a lovely morning to be out for a run.
Now for those that have never run Tullaroan half/full or ultramarathon a quick recap of the route.... it's hilly, very hilly, in fact, its hillier then Connemara Ultra which is held in April. Here's a brief comparison:
|Tullaroan Ultra course: 663m elevation gain|
|Connemara Ultra Course: 402m elevation gain|
Tullaroan consists of a 13mile loop and you just do it as many times as you need to complete the chosen distance so in my case I was doing it 3x times.
Unlike last year where when we started I was determined to be top 3 (ideally second) I kept a far more conservative pace this time around and settled in chatting to a few guys including a group of guys from Carrick en Suir who were planning to take part in the Energia 24hr race in July (good luck to them) and also a chap who was planning to run the Extreme North 105 Ultra next year but after the first loop the field had spread out so much that I was pretty much on my own from then on.
As I was moving a slower pace I missed the marathon start and half-marathon start (unlike last year) so that meant it was at least 30miles before I actually started meeting a few more people from both races, the day had also warmed up by this point too and I was starting to feel it.
Basically, all I had brought with me was water and although I had a backpack I was only wearing it to carry my water bottle as I hate holding water in my hand all the time, I was totally depending on the aid stations which stocked jaffa cakes and coke to keep me going. Thankfully they had plenty of both!
By the time I got to 34miles I knew it would be around a 6hr 30min finish but I wasn't bothered with such a slow pace and in fact I was surprised it wasn't pushing 7hours or more. But to be honest I didn't fancy spending 7hours on my feet on the day in question. At this point I gave Grace a ring (as she had gone home earlier) and asked her to meet me at the finish line.
During the last 3miles I met a group of 4 half-marathons and I was happy to explain what test of the course would be (downhill and flat!) and they were delighted with this good news, I eventually upped the pace for the last 2miles and kept a 7-7.30min pace as I felt pretty good.
I crossed the finish line in 06:27:15, almost bang on target for my predicated 6.30 finish I had figured earlier and it was nice to see Grace at the finish line too. Oh and surprisingly I had finished 4th again!
Time for some numbers!
So that means out of 3x runs of this event I've finished 4th twice and 3rd once, here's the somewhat amusing part........
If I had been training like I was in 2017 I could have managed 1st as the winning time this year was 05:47:15 and I finished in 05:47:58 last year so with a little more effort I may have managed first or at the very least a comfortable 2nd as 2nd place this year finished in 06:09:12.
Overall the winning times for the Ultra were much slower this year when compared to 2017 as the 1st place winning time last year was a blistering 04:55:46.
To be honest I'm not actually terrible bothered I just thought it was somewhat amusing, I actually expected to finish around 10th.
So that's it for another year, a very surprisingly results given my lack of any decent training and once again Tullaroan put on a well organised race. I'd def recommend it for those seeking a challenge regardless of the distance you are seeking.
|New medal design from Tullaroan AC|