Off The Laois Half Marathon

I arrived in Portarlington just before 10am on Sunday morning ready for my eight Half Marathon. I was excited and curious to see how this run went as it was going to be my first run since starting Heart Rate training. There wasn't a cloud in the sky on what was a most beautiful, Winter-crisp morning. I'd never been in Portarlington before but it was hard not to miss the start line which was across from the Odlums factor which could be seen from all sides of the town.

Ready for road!

The run was meant to start at 11am but due to a backlog at registration, the race was postponed until 11:30 when both the 10K and Half runners started together. It's such a shame the mess-up at the start happened as it was the only blip in what was otherwise quite a brilliantly organised event. After a 10 minute warm up, the 500+ runners made their way to the start line and the race started bang on 11:30.

At the Start Line

My plan for the race was simple - run at Threshold Rate (151-155bpm) for the race. It was a test, just to see how long it and how fast it would take me. The crowd were off and so was I. I've spent the last 6 weeks not bothered about time, so I really wasn't paying attention during the run. I took everything in - the back roads, the scenery, the blue sky. I noticed the frost still on the ditches as we made our way around the course.

I was very much aware of the fact I hadnt seen the 1:45 pacer since about the 2K mark but I was quietly confident I was doing ok (without checking my time). I ploughed out, never building up too much of a sweat as I passed 5K, 10K and the 15K road markers. As my watched beeped for 16K something happened which changed everything.

The 2:00 pacer passed me by!

The first 16K!

Here I was, my 8th Half Marathon and it was about to be "my worst". I use the words "my worst" loosely as I believe that regardless of time, if someone gets up and out there, even if they walk the distance, they have still done more than everyone else who didn't or couldn't turn up at the start line. I just wasn't ready to run my slowest ever Half Marathon, especially considering I had just put a good 6 weeks in to my HR training. 

Today was not going to be my slowest Half Marathon, I picked up my pace and finished in 1:56

Picking up the pace

I feel odd about the whole experience. In a way, I'm glad it happened, and I'm glad it happened now. Over the last 5km, I thought about what was just happening? I wasn't pushing myself, I hadn't pushed myself all race. I was simply plodding along. They always say you should finish a race on empty, give it everything you have. I finished this race with half left in the tank. I honestly feel I could have gone on for another 10K* beyond the finish line.

My brother was waiting at the finish line for me and I got to meet Michelle and Joe who I know from Twitter. I also met John on the route and in the carpark. Considering I thought I'd be running it on my own, this race proved yet again the power of the running community. I've ran my November Half and have my December one in just two weeks time (Waterford). I plan to run that one to time/pace. I will then be able to compare and decide my plan of attack going forward. 

Joe, Michelle & Myself at the Finish

(*quoted distance is not indicative of actual distance I would have been able to run beyond the finish line) 


  1. Good read John. Nice to have meet you on Sunday. Will probably see you at Waterford half Saturday week. I hope the weather will be as good.

    1. How you set for Waterford John? I'll be interested to see how I get on running to pace compared with Laois. Really enjoyed Laois, and great to see you there :)

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