This morning a group of us from the Dublin Sri Chinmoy Centre ran in the Dublin Port Tunnel 10k race. The Tunnel itself is due to open next week, so this was our only opportunity to run through and breath in and out the fresh air before it gets swamped by trucks. Myself, Colm, Gary, Vinny and Matthias registered last week just before the deadline (Matthias, the last to register, was number 9993 out of the 10000 limit). Unfortunately, Vinny hurt his ankle just before the race, necessitating a mad dash across town to collect his number so we could give it to my youngest brother, Aidan, before proceeding to the race start.
It was a wild, wet and blustery morning, and we were all well wrapped up as we left our car - thankfully Aidan had fashioned his hoodie into a makeshift bag into which we could put all our tops and hand into the baggage area. We then tried to make our way towards the start of the race - everyone was very cosily squeezed together, but good humour prevailed throughout.
At the start I had to carefully make my way past slower runners ahead of me, through the toll booths and into the mouth of the tunnel. The first stretch was downhill all the way and I felt I was running very fast. After a while things got a bit tougher. There was no km markers so I didn't know how I was doing, in one way I was kind of grateful for this because it is very good inner training, you just have to put your head down and keep going regardless. As you can imagine, the scenery didn't change much throughout the race, I just focused on staying with the group of runners beside me. I was trying to land more on the front of my foot when I ran and less on my heel - Colm always says I sound like a Shetland pony when I run! I found it did actually make a difference, and I conserved more energy.
Then I could see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, followed by the halfway marker (18:50), as we exited the tunnel and entered into the tunnel for the other direction of traffic. All my previous grumbles faded as the chance of beating my personal 10k best (37:56) loomed, and there was an extra spring in my step. After about 6k, I saw this guy tearing past me, and saw we were going downhill (it can be hard to tell in a tunnel!) so I just got into his slipstream and leaned forward to let gravity do some of the work. This lasted for a km or so!
Shortly after the three-quarter-way mark, however, I felt an all too familiar pain in my sides - a stitch caused by electrolyte deficiency. After the marathon, I had completely given up on taking mineral supplements; that'll learn me. The same thing happened to me in the 2004 Self-Transcendence marathon . At first I tried to brave it out, but it soon got to the point where I could barely breath. I had to pull over to the concrete pavement and walk for a minute; then I set off at considerably slower pace than what I was doing.
Another minute of walking, during which Matthias passed me, some rather slow uphill jogging, and the finish line was in sight. I was fully expecting to see 45 minutes or so on the clock at this stage, I couldnt believe it when I saw only 39! I reckon the halfway mark might have been out by a few hundred meters, or maybe it was just there was more downhill in the second half.
I have to say there is a wee tinge of regret at the way things turned out, since this is a perfect course to break a 10k record (practically an indoor track, only one turn!) but unfortunately I don't think they are making it an annual event, so I can't have another go! Colm and Aidan finished just behind me, and Gary crossed the line at the hour mark. It was tremendous to see so many people out on such an unseasonal time for running. Perhaps we can petition the Powers That Be to put it on every year, if there is some way to clear the fumes from the trucks.