Sunday 21 January 2018

Not even a wonky knee could stop me on Coney Island run

MY work colleague who is a seasoned runner predicted a finish time for me in the Coney Island Challenge 10k run. He was out – by almost ten minutes.

I crossed the line in a respectable 54 minutes, in the top 15 women and within the top 50 overall.

It was my first ever attempt at running 10k and to be fair, I even surprised myself.

We queued to register. The girl at the desk asked me: "Walk or Run?"

"A bit of both," I quipped.

But the truth of the matter was I fully expected my wonky knee to give in at around the half way mark, leaving me to drag my sorry legs home.

It held out however, until at least 8k and then, as they say, the crowd carried me.

Earlier, I woke up feeling like I was about to sit my Leaving Cert maths again and spent the morning waiting in nervous anticipation.

Outside the atmosphere was building up as the village of Strandhill geared up for the Gathering event.

We joined the hundreds of runners for a communal warm-up session close to the rugby club.

Organisers set up tables of freshly cut sandwiches, buns and biscuits – I eyed them up – and told myself to make it back for the jammy dodgers.

The gun fired at 2.30pm and we were off.

Weather wise the Gods were good to us. It was warm and dry with a light breeze.

Garda traffic control was in place as we pounded the main road towards the Coney Island turn off.

This was most welcome. Nothing like a police escort to make you feel important!

Those who lined the route to cheer us on were a great help too.

Every "well done" from a stranger or acquaintance worked wonders, spurring me on in my moments of weakness.

Volunteers held out bottles of water as we neared the seabed.

I watched as competitors first tried to avoid the salty pools en route to Coney Island.

Everyone quickly gave in and in the end runners of all levels were splashing through the shallow water like ducks in the rain.

I splashed my way through three kilometres and felt good; my return pace towards dry land steady.

But the familiar pain of my troublesome IT band struck as I struggled uphill towards home.

Crowds clapped. Motorists beeped.

My brilliant running mates wouldn't let me stop.

And I forgot the dull ache.

Victory was close at hand.

The quaint St. Anne's Church came into view.

The proceeds from this race will go towards the refurbishment costs of the chapel.

I'm new to the village and as I jogged past the new bell tower, I felt I was doing my little bit for the community.

My work colleague comes from a running family – they were close to the finish line to cheer us runners on.

He checked his watch – perhaps realising that his timing was (way) out.

And I smiled past – sprinting towards those jammy dodgers.

Sligo Champion

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