CGA Ops Manager runs up lots of hills in Connemara

On April 23rd our Operations Manager Padraig Garrihy competed in the 39.3 mile Connemara Ultra Marathon.

He flew the CGA flag on his chest and finished 3rd on the day.

Here’s a quick Q and A with Padraig about finding the time to train around a busy work schedule.

Q : How many hours a week were you training for the race?

Padraig : Most weeks it would be about 8-10 hours of running and then at least half of that again to stretch / prepare / warm up.

Q : Has work been supportive of your training?

Padraig : Absolutely. Everyone in work had been asking about my training and encouraging me for the race. We have a couple more nutjobs in the office also! You didn’t hear this from me but the CEO is a long distance open water swimmer….

The gang got me a cake and celebrated the occasion with me the day after , so I’m grateful to have such thoughtful colleagues.

Q : How did you fit the training in around your work commitments?

Padraig : Well it’s been suggested to me that I spend a lot more time than is necessary in the office wrapping up items for the company! So I made the decision to try and train after work each evening. This gave me a reason to be out of the office at a normal time!

I found that I was being just as productive with commitments after work than before.

Q : When’s the next race?

Padraig : It’s a bit early for to be saying that! I’m taking an enforced 2 weeks off of running and then the plan could well be to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Below is an excerpt from Padraigs blog entry describing race day as it unfolded. See the full blog post here.

Race Day Recap – Connemara Ultra Marathon 2017

by Padraig Garrihy

Race Morningconnemara4

I was half asleep all night, having packed in a rushed state late the night before.

I ate my usual bowl of porridge and some fruit / seeds at 6am with some lucozade sport and coffee. I then got the bus from Galway city to Maam cross at 7am attended the pre race briefing.

I did 5 minutes warm up before the start (light jog and dynamic stretching) and before I knew it the race had begun. There is no actual start line for the Ultra – and I started near the back of the pack because of this.

I moved around the initial crowd and settled into my planned pacing. 1st miles were steady and on or under 7:30.

At mile 6 a cyclist drove by me and said I’d missed a turn. This put some panic in me and I looked behind to check the other runners and see if they turned off where I didn’t. When I saw they were continuing with me I confirmed in my head the cyclist was wrong. I’m glad I did as the turn was actually 4 miles later.
At this point I had passed blocks of runners but had no idea how many were in front of me. This would be a constant through the whole race. At aid station 10 I grabbed my first drop bag and asked how many in front. “About five” was the response. I pushed on.

I passed more than 5 runners over the course of the next 3 miles.All the while we were closing on the Marathon starters. I was coming in bang on time with them starting (1 hour 30 mins) which was well below my prescribed split for the first 13.1. I went to the bathroom here and continued …

Police Escort

conn1When I started hitting the back of the marathoners – a policeman on a bike offered to escort me on the right side of the road through these runners. I said yes and they proceeded to lead me. This was the most amazing experience – a kings reception of sorts. The ultra label gets a lot of credit from other runners. Lots of well dones and thank yous were given out.

I had to hit 6:20 pacing to keep up with the escort. This was when I started questioning how fast I had been going. I decided to embrace the moment – it won’t be a regular occurrence and expending the energy now meant an experience I won’t ever forget. I’m very glad I did.

The escort departed and I kept clocking quick miles (sub 7 minutes) while re fueling and picking up bag drop 2 at mile 19. I devoured the snickers within and was feeling good at this point. 20 miles felt comfortable due to my training. The first half of the Connemara Ultra has gradual uphill parts but mostly is very runnable and relatively flat.

Mile 26.2 – the half marathon start. This is where I asked a policeman for another escort and they obliged. Same as before – fast pacing required but made a ton of ground up on the right side of the road. The kings reception part 2, and more tempo miles!

The climbs

I had entered the day aware that a climb out of Lennane at 26.2 and the Hell of the West at mile 35 were the two to be prepared for.

The climbing out of Lennane was not as bad as I had feared. I think being aware of it coming up helped greatly – could put myself in the mindset of shortening my stride and staying strong throughout.

The hell of the west was a different story. Everyone around me was in the ‘pain cave’ – focused on conserving energy for the climb. No talking / no ‘well done Ultra!’ … this part is all about you. You cannot see the end until you are there – it’s a gradual climb with 1 or 2 leveling areas . It’s about 1.8 miles in length and sapping . The heat at this point had risen but with only a few miles left I was making sure to maintain a steady pace. I managed a 7.05 and 7.23 mile through the hills. I passed an ultra in the midst of this. Little did I know this put me in 3rd place at the time.

Racing with Guts

In my first marathon in December I paced myself very conservatively. I was unsure how to train for a long distance running event.

I had made a mental note to run more by feel during the Ultra. One of the most important things for me was if I felt OK to try and maintain a good pace so that ;

1. I could come in under the 5 hours with some time left to account for the later hills.

2.I could say at the end of the race that I gave it my best effort. That I pushed myself and found out something about what I am capable of. That I went to an uncomfortable spot and pushed my body. That if I needed it – I could run with guts and heart and that the training was there to supplement that.

With the above in mind my splits will seem to confirm I did that. I can honestly say a day after that I pushed myself during the race – I drove past any mental barriers that come with this kind of distance running and also embraced the fact that my body was OK with the fast pace.

connemara3The finish

I shouted words of encouragement at anyone I saw struggling on the last couple of miles down from the hills. There were lots of people on the sides of the road with random flags and full of cheer. At this point I was emptying the tank so I got out as many sluggish ‘thank yous’ as I could.

As was the case throughout – I had no idea where exactly I way in terms of positioning. Only when I crossed the finish with a 6.14 last mile did an organiser confirm I was 3rd. I finished in a time of 4 hours 37 minutes – Connemara Ultra Results 2017 PDF.

I stayed at the finish line to congratulate in particular any ultra who finished in the next half hour. Met some great people and enjoyed the moment as best I could.

Then time for some “post race nutrition”…

Source : Padraigs Blog


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