Dublin City Marathon 2010 Report

another year – another marathon! 2 down and one can only guess as to how many more marathons the knees have in them – hopefully plenty!
Someone recently described the marathon as being the closest an adult gets to reliving the anticipation and build up of Christmas morning. The combination of nerves, excitement and severe lack of ability to sleep the night before really do bring you back to a child like experience.

Thankfully, this years Dublin Marathon report was just as successful as last years and that person was wrong – it’s far better than Christmas morning.

Seeing as it’s a little over a week since the marathon finished, all aches and pains have subsided and one can now almost contemplate thinking about next year.

While I’ve only run 2 marathons, something tells me that there are many aspects of running a Dublin marathon that will never change no many how many of them you run:

  • the wonderful excitement and sense of camaraderie of standing amongst 13,000+ other nutjobs who have all surfaced before 06:45 on a Bank Holiday Monday morning all knowing that this is the climax of months and months of sacrifice, hard training and commitment
  • the first 13 miles will always make you wonder why you trained so much in the first place – sure isn’t this a doddle
  • miles 18-20 will quickly remind you why
  • miles 20-22 will make you dig deep to ask questions of yourself
  • miles 22-24 will make you question your own sanity
  • miles 24-26 are those bitter sweet miles when you’re so close but so so far
  • the final .2 really does matter

Monday 25th October was another glorious autumn day – just like last year. The weather Gods are clearly fond of this marathon – any why wouldn’t they be. Dublin of autumn day when the streets are closed to traffic and filled with it’s most generous and supportive citizens is a beautiful sight to behold. A heard a number of international marathoners chatting afterwards who seemed to be taken aback as to just how good the experience was.

So to the race itself. Having ran sub 4 last year I was determined at a minimum I was going to repeat that. My training this year hadn’t gone quite to plan and early year ambitions of running a seriously fast pace had long disappeared. I had however managed to keep running reasonably consistently over the year and had trained well the last few months with only a few minor niggles so 03:45 was the target.

Once again I decided to stick close to the pacers for the race. Folks if you’re considering running Dublin next year and you’ve never run a marathon before I have only one piece of advice – stick with the pacers – they will get you home.

The gun went at 9 on the button. The route was largely unchanged. I really great part of this years experience was being able to take in more about the race, the crowd and the sights second time around. Less worried about staying upright and more about enjoying the whole experience!

I lovely run around North Dublin peaks with the passage through the Phoenix Park which was truly magical. I’ve ran many races in the park but today it just seems to shine in the chilly, crisp autumn air. The steam rising into the crisp air from the long and winding marathon pack was a sight to behold – although it doesn’t read that way writing about it now!

Cheerleaders were out in force again at their usual spots and had brought a few more souls willing to give up their warm beds on a bank holiday. Thanks a million to you all.

Despite a couple of mini scares with tight muscles in knees and thighs at various points around the course the body behaved itself impeccably thankfully. I never let the pacers beyond my sight but stayed well back so I could run my own race.

It’s also funny how bits of the race you remember taking ages flew by this year and other bits which you had almost glossed completely over in your mind feeling like 5 mile extensions to the route.

Despite the leg muscles getting very tight and weary after 21 miles, I maintained pace with the pacers and cardio wise there were no problems – in fact breathing pace was very comfortable. I think for my next marathon I’m really going to have to up my training mileage to get the most out of the legs in the final 6 miles to improve overall times.

Once we hit Grand Canal Bridge it was time to up the pace and see if a few seconds could be knocked off the 03:45. The pacers must have also been thinking the same thing because they were also hammering home! Eventually I caught them just outside Trinity. I thanked the lads for effectively acting as my guides for the last 03:40 mins and they told me to pass them – I didn’t need to be asked twice – foot down again!

I would also wager that the final few hundred yards of a marathon should be the stuff of deep medical research to ascertain just exactly how so many physically and emotionally broken people can sweep all that to one side and be reincarnated as Usain Bolt look a likes for the final stretch. Honestly, bottle that stuff and you’ve got a winner.

So in the end I slipped in under the 03:45 to finish in 03:43:12 which I was delighted about. A few days of acute leg pain and a bit of a post marathon cold which is now fading away are a small price to pay for the immense sense of completion when you finally cross that line and can finally tell your legs to stop running.

Time to rest a bit….. and then to plan the next one……

A lot can happen in 26.2 miles

Found this little gem on boards.ie

Irish Times

23 October 2010

_______________________________________________

ATHLETICS: The National marathon has been incorporated into the Dublin marathon for the last few years. ANNETTE KEALY , National champion from last year, and who won the title in 2003 and was second in 2008, takes this year’s competitors through the course and the strategies that can help lead to success

Tread softly, because you

tread on my dreams

– WB Yeats

I CAN’T be there this year. The body said no, and that was that.

I still have the dream. The dream of running another Dublin marathon, the dream of running another Dublin marathon exactly right, the dream of running a personal best, the dream of breaking 2.40.

Too old? Maybe. But the great thing about the marathon is, you just never know. It’s unpredictable. Things happen. Constantita Dita won the Olympic marathon. She is a good athlete, a great athlete, and she made it happen. But the most coveted prize of all? Who would have predicted that?

It’s Monday, October 25th, 2010. It’s early. You look out the window. You have butterflies.

2003, as Ian O’Riordan said afterwards, was a day made in heaven for marathon running. Sunny. 12 degrees. No wind. The sun bouncing off leaves of every shade of yellow, orange and red in the Phoenix Park. Magnificent.

2008 was miserable. Windy. 8 degrees. Hands freezing on the line. Toes numb for two miles. A gale in your face all the way up Crumlin Road. Wretched.

2009 was somewhere in the middle. Bright. 10 degrees. A little breezy. Not bad.

Conditions might be any way. Kind, cruel or anywhere in between. Bring your gloves!

You have your breakfast.

I had my porridge two-and-a-half hours before the race last year. I don’t like being hungry on the line. That will be too late for some of you. I went back for a last little rest. Might as well. At 7.30, as I lay there, I said to myself, I can’t believe I’m still in the bed and running the marathon at nine.

You get up.

There’s not much to do now really. It’s just yourself and your gear and your drinks or gels – if you plan on bringing them. It’s nice to be glamorous, but it’s not the best idea to wear new gear. You’ll be disgusted if your shorts turn out to be a bit loose and keep slipping down and you spend the 26 miles having to hoist them up. Or your top turns out to be a bit tight and gives you a stitch or causes chaffing under your arms.

If you wear brand new runners or racing shoes, it is highly likely you will be injured after the race, which you might not be too concerned about at the moment but you will bitterly regret when you are laid up for six months with an Achilles’ injury or the like.

You should even be careful that shoes you have worn already are not too snug for marathon running. In my first marathon my feet swelled during the race and by 17 miles my toes were squashed. Agony and nine miles to go! Lost two toe nails afterwards.

You head into the course.

Your nerves might be playing tricks on you. You might feel tired or you might feel sick. You might be shaking. You think of the little garda on his motorbike on the Dublin Marathon website flying through the streets of Dublin and off into the suburbs and you feel dizzy. You are just getting yourself ready.

You are on the line.

It might be your first marathon and now you can’t wait to get going. To start the adventure. The journey into the unknown, to places never visited before. You are blissfully unaware of the highs and lows which await you.

Or it might not be your first marathon and memories of pain, pure pain, buried since you ran the last one, come flooding back. And there will be pain, and there will be drama, and there might be joy and there might be tears.

But you are there. You made it to the starting line and you have a lot of work done. So seize the moment. The wonderful moment.

And tie your laces!

You’re off.

The first part of the course is nice. Starting in Fitzwilliam Street, through old Georgian Dublin, it declines slightly down Leeson Street and Dawson Street onto Nassau Street and meanders around College Green out onto O’Connell Street. Historic Dublin. You pass the GPO and the enormity of the occasion might hit you now. You are on top of the world.

You will probably run your fastest marathon if you don’t go off too hard. The fastest times in the world have mostly been run at an even pace or a slightly quicker second half. Haile Gebrselassie broke his world best in Berlin in 2009 in two hours, three minutes and 59 seconds. He went through the half-way mark in 1:02.05. The absolute master. The shrewdest of tacticians.

So patience. Which is not easy, especially if you’re feeling that it is all very pedestrian at this stage.

The third mile graduates up into Parnell Square and up Berkeley Road. It turns onto the pretty, leafy North Circular Road. The first drinks station is along here. I think it is important to drink early, and drink often, even if you don’t feel like it.

You enter the Phoenix Park at four miles. The trees are beautifully uplifting at this time of year. You might have found a rhythm with somebody by now or, even better, a group. In my first marathon, I had found my group by three miles. We were to stay together until mile 18. Last year people came and people went, but I found my group at last at 16 miles, just when I thought I couldn’t take another step. And it was glorious. We were to stay together for another nine miles.

Settle.

The last mile in the Phoenix Park, along Upper Glen Road, which brings you to eight miles, causes you to clatter downhill. You might enjoy the freedom of the drop, but it is definitely hard on the legs. You come out of the park, take a right along the Chapelizod Road, cross the canal and the guts of the next five miles is climbing. You climb significantly up St Lawrence Road and Sarsfield Road towards Kilmainham Gaol.

You are arriving at 10 miles now. A marathon guru I know says you should be feeling comfortable at 10 miles or else you are in trouble. I must say, I have not once felt comfortable at 10 miles in any of my three Dublin marathons.

You level off for a little while along South Circular Road and you twist around and cross up over Dolphin’s Barn bridge to face a long, two-mile drag up Crumlin Road, past Our Lady’s Hospital and left to the halfway point on Walkinstown Road. There are plenty of people clapping and cheering you on now, and all in great form, which is really helpful.

Memories of happenings on Crumlin Road abound. My parents and my sister were at the bottom of the hill the first year and that was a great boost. In 2008, I had a cold. I took the gamble and ran. Every runner near me seemed to dissipate up the hill and I was left floundering into the wind and rain. I looked for my parents all the way up the hill. They weren’t there. They had gone to some other point. Crisis! And 13-and-a-half miles to go. I was as bleak as the day.

2009 and I was nervous about that section. To my great relief, I had met two lads at the bottom of the hill and I was staying with them and we were working up the road together.

A Raheny supporter came along on his bike. Delighted to see us together, he started to call out, Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh style: “Go Raheny. Go Rathfarnham. Raheny. Rathfarnham. One Raheny girl. Two Rathfarnham boys. Working together. Great stuff. Go on, yeah. Good on yis.” He was just about to move on, when he turned for a final glance. And then it dawned on him: “Willy Morris? Is that you?” he said. Peals of laughter. And us supposed to be running a marathon? It is hard to run and laugh at the same time. It got us up to halfway.

The lads moved on then.

It is tough when you are left behind. You suffer. You tread water for a while, but the marathon is ebbs and flows. They might come back to you.

The next few miles along Kimmage Road and Foxfield Road are pretty flat, and then there is a lovely section of the course which is slightly downhill along Templeogue Road, which brings you to 16 miles, and on into Terenure and the picturesque Orwell Road and Park.

All the same, there might come a point somewhere around now, maybe because there is still such a long way to go, where dark clouds descend and the demons surround you and you struggle with them, and then you say “I can’t do this”. And you really feel that this is the end. That you can’t go on. That the dream is shattered.

And it is exactly now that you need to put one foot in front of the other, to get to the next lamp-post or to the next tree or to look at the sweat patch on the singlet of the guy in front of you and not let it drift away.

The black thoughts happened between 14 and 16 miles last year. Not going to plan. Despair. And then a group came along. Pauline Curley was in the group. A critical moment. Do you say to hell with it, you don’t care and let them sweep on, or do you gather yourself and get back in the race? Somehow, I found myself in that group. I was looking at their backs, their bums, their shoes.

And I was not exhausted any more. There was revival and there was rhythm. The clouds had passed and there was brightness.

And then we were helping each other. Together. Side by side. In front, behind. Side by side again. And then Pauline and I were in a race and we were fighting. A small gap. A jostle. Together again. There was no 17, 18, 19, 20. There was the next 20 yards and the knowing now that a gap, any gap, meant winning or losing. We were to battle for eight miles. And we could.

There is a tough hill on Milltown Road around 18 miles. In my first marathon my group of three was still together. Now, on this hill, one of the lads said “I’m gone”. Shock. He had been grand. He was pushing earlier. Nearly dropped us twice. Had to scramble back to him twice. But that was a while ago. We were comrades by now. We shouted to him to stick with it. He couldn’t. We didn’t want to leave him.

You have to go. It’s a race.

Nineteen and 20 are rolling miles along Clonskeagh Road and Roebuck Road. I think you are in a dip in the road when you arrive at 20. This might be a monumental moment. 20 miles done. I haven’t really felt any elation or delight so far in arriving at 20. I’ve done what you’re not supposed to do and thought each time, not of the miles run but of the 10km still to go. 10km seems a long way. I don’t know why you convert it to kms.

You continue to undulate a little up and back down Foster’s Avenue. You are working hard, and then you turn out onto the Stillorgan Road. It’s only a little while later, but it is easier to feel positive now because its only a five-mile road race to go now or a lap of Malahide Castle. Five miles seems much more manageable than 10km. With the crowd there telling you that you are doing great and the drop down the Stillorgan Road, you might pick up speed. You might feel great. Up and over the UCD flyover.

Nutley Lane is slightly downhill, but your legs are getting tired. I made a half-hearted push here last year, but you have to mind yourself because you want to make it home without blowing up. Still nearly half an hour to go.

Merrion Road. Twenty-three. Anyone who is running their first marathon will never, ever have run this far before. It’s exciting. It’s torture. Your legs are getting tight. Nearly there and yet so far away. You might feel you have slowed terribly even though you haven’t. In 2008, there were tears here.

You might have to call on every faculty you have – physical, mental, emotional, even spiritual at this point. To keep it all going.

And then again, maybe not. You might have a nice momentum going now or a new bounce with the end in sight. Twenty-four. Shelbourne Road and a few hillocks. Getting up over the bridge at Grand Canal Street might feel like climbing Croagh Patrick. Along Grand Canal Street to Hogan Place. It was around here that I edged ahead of Pauline last year. It could easily have been the other way around. Twenty-five.

And then it’s an outside lap of Trinity College. And it’s a long old mile. And don’t let up now. A lot can happen in a mile. Spectators are cheering like mad down Westland Row. That lifts you again. Pearse Street is long. But you’re now rounding College Green again. One last push and the spectators all along Nassau Street bring you in.

26.2 miles. You are home. Pleased or disappointed, you will have given it everything.

A life achievement. Well done!

I wish I were running. I’ll be cheering instead this time. Cheering madly.

All the very best. Enjoy the ride.

Dublin Marathon 2010 – Nearly there

Inspiration Wall

well it would now seem that the only time I even half regularly update this blog is around the time of the Dublin Marathon.

Inspiration Wall

So it’s a second time around the merry-go-round that is the Dublin Marathon for me. Training this year has not been as consistent as last year. Add in a knock here and there and a niggling chesty cough and the confidence is not what it should be for marathon number 2.

Nonetheless, I’m now counting down the hours to the start line for Dublin City Marathon 2010 which kicks off tomorrow morning at 9am sharp.

Today is all about rest, carb loading, rest, carb loading and then more rest. Oh and plenty of fluids. It’s counter intuitive to be stuffing your face and drinking lots of fluids the day before you run 26.2 miles but it seems to do the trick!

A quick trip around the Marathon Expo yesterday to pick up the last few essentials (like your race number) was well worth it. There is an excellent marathon museum recounting all previous Dublin Marathons which really brings home just how big this event has become.

Gotta say those medals from the mid 80’s trounce the current batch. Time to continue the 80’s retro theme and bring back those plaques!

That time of year again – Dublin Half Marathon 2010

right, haven’t posted too much the last few months. work, life etc. getting in the way.

anyway, I’m running the Dublin Marathon again this year for my sins.

next up in the training is the Half Marathon which takes place in the Phoenix Park tomorrow morning at 9am. (i really should be in bed!)

There’s over 8,000 of us running tomorrow which I believe is a new record – confirming that the running craze continues to grow in recessionary Ireland. God the gyms must be getting a real ass kicking this year.

Anyway I’ll be posting infrequently in the run up to the end of October – probably mostly about the training.

My Dublin City Marathon ’09 Report

well there’s a blog post title I never thought I’d write as an actual race participant!

Yours truly somewhere around Mile 10-11 in the Dublin Marathon 2009

Yours truly somewhere around Mile 10-11 in the Dublin Marathon 2009

but after being compelled by some of the brilliant marathon reports popping up today I thought it would be a worthwhile task to knock out a quick report on my own experience running my first ever marathon (still sounds strange to say I’ve run a marathon)

So here’s a quick run down of the drama of the day.

Weeks of self-imposed house arrest were taking their toll. There’s only so much pasta, bagels and club energise one person can take.

Honestly will not be touching any of the aforementioned substances until at least 2010.

Finally after lots of waiting, it was Monday morning and time for the big day.

I don’t think I’ve ever been up at 6.45 on a bank holiday Monday – unless it was a continuation of a previous evening’s debauchery.

That definitely wasn’t the case yesterday morning. Half a bagel later (couldn’t face a whole one), last few checks to make sure all essential items were in place and out the door for the luas into the starting line.

We got to the starting pens around 8:30 to find a sizable crowd already in place. Commence some swift stretching and some last minute toilet trips and then it was into the breach along with the other 12,748.

Think the Garda Band were on duty and someone also belted out the National Anthem just before the gun went off. Hairs on backs of necks stuff.

Then before you knew it, we were off.

The feet and body in general were bouncing along nicely for the first 3 or 4 miles around North Dublin. In the distance I spotted the Black pacer balloons come into view. Slow down Colm I thought to myself – they are the 3.45 or 3.30 pacers. As I got nearer to them jogging down North Circular Road and my crap eyesight finally was able to make out the time on the balloons I was shocked to realise they were the 4hour pacers! Hmm, I was running a slow pace it seemed after all.

So head went down going into Phoenix Park. Quick toilet break later and I was hot on the heels of the 4 hour pacers.

I passed the 4 hour pacers mid way though the Phoenix Park and was determined to get a few minutes ahead of them knowing I would probably crash and burn over the last 6 miles. The run through the park was beautiful. Someone clearly has a direct line with the weather Gods as it seems the wind and rain was paused for the duration of the marathon and the 6 hours either side of it. The sun was out and it suddenly felt like the middle of July!

So out of the park we went and up towards Crumlin. There is a very nasty climb there which I wasn’t prepared for. Took the wind out of the sails a bit. Nevertheless onwards and upwards.

Shortly afterwards passed the first of our cheerleaders for the day. You know who you are. Honestly, having someone come out to support you on a day like this is what really makes it extra special.

It was somewhere a little further up the road that the backs of the knees started giving out. New pains here. Feck.

Think I took off too quickly after passing the 4h pacers. Completed 13.1 in 1h55m – not a bad recovery from the first few miles and yes I had been running too fast to compensate for the slow start.

So I backed off and slowed the pace down. I also took my first gel (ever). Woah – instant energy boost – these things really work. I went against all accepted wisdom about NOT experimenting with new variables on the big day and it was a risk but it paid off. Cramps gone. Energy in overdrive. Happy Days.

I made a quick pitstop again at mile 15 (thank God they have portaloos on the course) and back on the road. Had a really good spell then from 15 through to Milltown (more cheerleaders in Milltown – thanks guys) and up towards Clonskea. The legs then started to get a bit tired. Turning back up towards UCD and the long steady climb of Nutley Lane was a killer – an absolute killer. The locals were out in force like the know the hill well and their support was dragging people up the hill. Then a nice long descent.

Then on to Stillorgan dualer. Up again over UCD flyover – honestly you’re just making us go up hills now.

It got very tight down the right hand side of the dualer back towards the Merrion turnoff. More downhill – nice.

General fatigue is really kicking in now. Debating whether to take my last gel at this point or to hold it for Mile 22/23.

Just then I spot someone giving out the High5 gels. It’s not my usual (i know I’ve only taken 2 in my whole life and that was in the previous 2 hours but you know the way) Powerbar gel brand but I knock it back ending my previous debate. Jeasus it was nasty! Didn’t get the same kick as with the Powerbar ones. Fatigue still weighing me down. Now is the time you have to dig deep and look for something extra. You start creating little mini-goals to keep you focused on the task at hand. Little by little you keep getting closer to the end. Every time little doubts creep in you squash them as best you can with more mental games and positive thoughts. Only 3 miles to go – sure that’s nothing.

Now it’s time to eat every little bit of sugar in sight (feeling sick) knock the last gel and guzzle yet more water and energise.

Over the Grand Canal Bridge and on to Grand Canal Street. Our cheerleaders have made it back into town and they’ve added a few more familiar faces.

A combination of the last gel, our cheer leaders and the general increased crowds activate the afterburners and the new lease of life now has me tearing home.

Rounding the last corner at Grafton Street and Nassau Street is a truly amazing sensation.

There it is.

Finish Line in Sight.

3h something on the clock.

Foot down. Full on sprint it is.

I don’t remember much after that other than lots of noise and a blur of faces in the crowds. I nearly ran into some other girl who was crossing the line just in front of me.

In hindsight I might have slowed down to truly take in the last few hundred yards and crossed the line with no one else tumbling over the line beside me.

Feck that. Nothing was stopping me getting over that finish line as soon as possible!

Strange emotions

Relief, joy and massive sense of achievement as you might expect.

But also a sense that you’ve just experienced something you’ll never experience again – no matter how many marathons you run in the future.

It was definitely tough – the toughest thing I’ve ever undertaken. But the race itself was only really really tough for the last hour. Up to that things were surprisingly easy (and I use easy in a very loose sense of the word – in that it was not as excruitatingly painful as I was expecting it to be!)

In fact, I’d say the toughest thing about running a marathon is not the race itself but the preparation that goes into it. Hell, the first time I ran 20 miles was probably tougher than the actual marathon. It’s all well and good running a race with thousands of people to spur you on but it’s a whole other matter to get off your arse on a Sunday morning in the wind and rain and put in 3 hours on your own with just the ipod for company. There were times yesterday were the miles just melted away almost too quickly if that makes any sense! I know it doesn’t even make sense to me!

Highlights

  • supporters everywhere – you make this event what it is
  • runner everywhere – the sense of togetherness amongst marathoners is unrivalled
  • the wall of noise from Grand Canal all the way to the finish – feels like a lap of honour in the olympics
  • pacers – brilliant idea – this one should be back next year – you kept me on track for sub 4 hours
  • the organisers – meticulous planning is obvious everywhere – well done
  • the DJ in Crumlin belting out Black Eyed Peas – honestly I wanted to stop – you guys looked like ye were having fun
  • the weather gods
  • the nutters on drums outside every Spar – brilliant energy injection every time
  • Pints in the Mont Clare afterwards
  • Guilt free Junk food for a nice treat later on

So came home in a final chip time of 3h 56m 03s

Well chuffed to have finished at all.

Looking forward to the next one.

Maybe.

Running the Dublin Marathon tomorrow – waiting

So I headed down to the RDS yesterday afternoon to pickup my Race chip and number etc. for the Dublin Marathon on Monday.

Dublin City Marathon Expo 2009

Dublin City Marathon Expo 2009

Have to say – it’s a really well put together expo. I wasn’t expecting it to be so well organised and informative – you don’t normally get that kind of thing in this county.

Anyway, it’s now less than 24 hours to the big day and the pre race nerves have well and truly kicked in!

Today is all about sitting back, relaxing and waiting….

It’s the damn waiting I think everyone hates in these situations.

You’ve done all the prep and training. You’ve checked to make sure you’ve got everything ready for race. Now you just want to get on with it – but you can’t – you must wait until time catches up with your state of mind – this is the hardest part.

Come 9am tomorrow morning the waiting will be over, the gun will sound and 12,500 nutters will put one foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles.

Good luck to everyone taking part.

The waiting is nearly over.