November 7, 2019

My first Dublin marathon experience

I never thought I would be that person.

I would go watch it every year at Terenure crossroads clapping them on but I never seen myself doing one.

"Its too far,your mad,think of the injuries and even the commitment" were just a handful of comments I would hear about the event but then I would hear about the Dublin crowds,the craic,excitement along with all the encouragement along the way as you get closer to the euphoria towards the finish line- it was a scratch that constantly wanted to be itched!

So with that,I registered and on the 27th of October 2019 I am glad to say I completed my first ever marathon which turned out to be the 40th edition of the Dublin city marathon.

I am mostly doing this article for me to try and remember it all and perhaps to try and encourage those who have never done one to consider going for it.

The training

Overall I gave myself a decent 3-4 months of consistent training on the right plan.Up until before that I would have been running at least twice per week mostly doing 5-10k but under no real structure.For the next 4 months I followed a plan and was roughly running at least 4-5 times per week and each week adding 10% or so increase in the overall total weekly distance.Each weekend I stuck to 1 long run and generally ventured out to Phoneix park and in between that long run I would have gone with an interval session,recovery run,and 2 medium distance runs 8-12k.I found the long runs challenging out by myself,especially the initial stages of getting out there but once I got it done it felt great and I knew i had another few days of easy runs before another long training day. I stuck to the odd bit of gym work working on some core and leg strength.Along the way I played around with my nutrition and recovery and see what would work best as we got towards the big day.

The final build up

The last 2 weeks were tough physically and mentally.I had 3-4 months of good solid training behind me,the weekend long runs,the runners broken in and was really just ready to go now-but there is 2 weeks to go and I had to taper,which I never have done before.

I found the tapering sessions tough.I was carrying a niggle with my right knee but I had to keep reminding myself its really all part of it and had to be smart looking after my body.Plenty of hot and cold with ice and heat packs,sessions with my sports therapist,lots of stretching and some epsom hot baths would get me to that start line.With 2 weeks out I was well used to doing at least 5 running sessions a week and now I had to bring it right down to literally 3-5 more short runs in 14 days.It felt like I was going backwards but I kept saying to myself I had to trust my training and go with the process.

The day before consisted of rest,food,water,stretching and just visualizing parts of the course again.I got the kit ready,race number,vest,trainers and all the other bits then it was time for bed.With little to no sleep the night before the alarm that wasn't even needed went off at 6am and it was time to go!

Some porridge,water,banana and honey I was ready to head into the start.

Walking around the bag drop area was something I will never forget.I wanted to take it all in so I sat down for a while listening to music and just people watched.Everything was going down,stretches,hugs,smiles and laughter along with a look of nerves and anxiety was all on show.It was amazing to soak up.After a few last minute adjustments,some deep heat on and the gear ready to go it was time for the bag drop.The bag was dropped off at it was time to make my way to the wave-Wave 2,which kicked off at 9.05 and generally had estimated pacers of 3.30-3.50.This was a finishing time window I really wanted to be in but then again I really didn't have a clue as I was going into the unknown and at that stage I had training upto 32km and the day itself is 42.2km .

3...2...1...GO

We were off.The final 1 minute countdown was surreal.As soon as the national anthem ended It had hit me only there and then that this was the Dublin marathon and for the next 3-4 hours I am going to running my first ever marathon!Luckily the condition's were perfect.A slight chill in the air but the sun was appearing,it was dry and there was little to no wind!

I took off and got ahead of the 3.30 pacer pack.At this stage I even thought I was going slow even though my feedback on my timer was telling me I was holding a 4.30 min per k/m!The goal was to hold an average of 5min per k/m but it sort of went out the window.I guess the adrenaline and excitement kicks in on your first time and the plan can really can put to the side.Before I knew it I was in the phoneix park still holding that same pace and cruising.No niggles,heart rate controlled and  just embracing the amazing support along the way.A lot of my clients have told me that the crowd is always amazing and I still cant believe it now how incredible the support is-Almost 300 thousand supporter dotted the streets of Dublin that day and I can safely say that if it wasnt for the support that day myself and many others would not have finished that marathon-The support pushes you on and gets you to that finish line.

Seeing familiar faces along the way is very special,particularly family and close friends.I seen so many faces and it really meant a lot to get that cheer from them when your feeling the pain.I had a great crowd of family and friends along the Terenure-Rathgar stretch and this is exactly where I started to feel the toll of the famous wall approaching.They say Mile 18 onwards is when you can hit the wall and guess what!They were right.The pace at this stage fell right back around mile 20 and the last 6 miles were extremely challenging. Physically,mentally and emotionally I was a wreck.At this stage pacers 3.30 and 3.40 had gone past me and I was starting to get worried.Cramp in the groin,blister in the right foot,pain in the knee and overall just blowing hard through my lungs I eventually came to a halt in Milltown.I was disappointed I stopped but to be honest I had to.The head had gone,tears were shed,teeth were grinded but I knew I had to get going again and thats exactly what I did.

Roebuck hill approached and this stretch is know as heartbreak hill!Of all places,the start of Roebuck hill I was starting again after breaking down.Head down,left foot after right foot,walk,run,walk,run,walk,run I got there and rolled down that fosters avenue hill over the flyover,past Vincent's hospital and into the final 2 miles.I was broken at this stage but this is where the crowd ran the race for me.I still don't know how my body got through those last 2 miles but we made it.The emotion hearing the crowd at the finish line then seeing it in front of you is something you need to experience.Tears,joy,fatigue,energy is all happening at this point.I couldn't feel my body crossing that line at 3.46 or even think straight as that medal was put over my head.A kiss of the medal,a crawl to the bag drop and a limp back to the car to see my family was a great feeling.Knowing I made the finish line with the timeframe in mind was nice but part of me wanted that 3.30.

After a hot bath,a feed and a few Guinness with family at the local it was time to reconsider it all again.

"Would you do it again they said?"

ABSOLUTELY!!

2020 I have registered for my 2nd Dublin and cant wait to do it all over again!