For the second time in a month, I drove down the M4 motorway destined for the bright lights of the Tullamore track. The national master’s championships took place this past Sunday in Tullamore Harries. I like running down in Tullamore. A tall hedge around the course reduces the wind, making it a fast course.

Due to injuries, there was only Anthony Gillen and I taking part. For those not too familiar, the Masters is run by age groups. Often they will combine two groups in the same race but there are still first and second in each category. Anthony was taking place in the over 50 and Gareth the over 35.

Anthony was taking advantage of the generous 3.5-hour break between the 800M and 1500M to line up for both events. Anthony toed the line in the 800M at 2.30PM and finished a respectable 7th place in a time of 2:24.54. Back on the track at 6PM he finished 8th this time in 5:03.74. A good day and congrats to Anthony for taking part in both races. His 800M time was a recent best as Anthony was a competitive runner in his teenage years.

In between Anthony running the 1500M I was up in the 1500M. At the start of the season, this was my A race but the season has not gone to plan. I won bronze in the indoors but the outdoors are more competitive. I expected to need to run sub 4.10 to medal. I had a bad summer last year with injury and although fit again now I didn’t factor in how much harder it would be to run a fast 1500M at 35 compared to 32 or 33. My PB of 4.04 in 2015 seemed like a distant memory over the Summer as I kept coming in around 4.15.

Going into the race on Sunday I felt great. I did a few reps at the track on Saturday and it felt easy. Warming up I felt like there was a bit in the tank. I was determined to get into 3rd or 4th place and track the leaders. I got a great start and quickly found myself in 2nd place. We went through 300M in 54 seconds and then 2.07 for 700M, effectively jogging in a 1500M and the pace was sure to pick up from there. Over the next 300M, there were some challenges to my inside line but a few elbows and injections of speed later I found myself chasing down the leader with 500M to go. The pace was now getting faster with the previous 400M going through in 66. I love these races were the pace just keeps getting faster and faster. It really puts your speed endurance to the test.

Every time I challenged the lead the guy in front matched it. I gave it one more go on the last bend but With 50M to go, I was more focused on keeping my silver medal than making that last push and potentially falling flat on my face when the legs give up. I leaned into the line just to make sure my celebrations weren’t premature. Happy with the effort. The last lap was by far the fastest in the race, running a 61.

Myself and Anthony had a nice cool down run in the old cross-country course across the road that brought back nightmares of muddy races from years gone by. Driving home there was a sense of satisfaction in the summer sun. I had my eyes on gold earlier in the year but will happily take silver at this stage of the season.I said to myself that if I ran well I would run the Seniors. I’ve also contemplated taking a break from the shorter stuff and throwing myself into marathon training. The next few weeks will tell what comes next. people do say that 35 is too young for masters. Whilst that may be true on the roads the track is a young persons event and it does get tougher as each years passes.

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