Dublin Marathon

After watching Dublin City Marathon (DCM) in 2015 I knew I’d like to give it a shot some day. After completing New York the week after DCM in 2015 and not breaking the four hour mark I had to plan to break it in 2016. So deep down I had decided DCM 2016 was where I’d do it and booked hotels just in case. After a busy 1st half of the year, in July I officially signed up and training commenced soon after.

Training went perfect up to the Cork to Cobh race where I picked up a knee injury. I thought a few days rest would help but a relapse a week later and again the week after meant the 3 weeks up to race day was all about strengthening, physio and my new best friend the foam roller. Not much running was done but the hope was on the day the rest will be enough to get me through.

Race day was fast approaching and we packed up the car for our first family trip away. There was just about enough room in the car for Martha and myself since packing for George was like packing for a 10 week holiday but delighted both Martha and George were coming with me for the weekend. Coach Damian, Sarah and Fiadh were going to join us up there. No doubt they had as much packing to do as we did. Damian had done a super job in setting out a plan and training with me right the way through it. He had no plans on doing another marathon in 2016 but decided to pace me on the day so signed up the same day as me. The medal will be worth it.

Expo

We headed to the expo, picked up our numbers and strolled around the stalls. George took a spin with me and he had a nice sleep for himself. Registration was seamless and we flew through it. Preparation the night before was a relaxing evening in the hotel with some nice food.

Dublin Gear

All my gear laid out, nutrition planned and breakfast arranged. We stayed the Sandymount so we didn’t have far to go in the morning. Strangely enough I had a good nights sleep and woke just before my alarm. 1st step was to strap up my knee and calf with KT tape. Next was have my porridge and soon after met Damian. To save the legs Martha dropped us in a bit closer to the the start line.  It was warm in the morning so didn’t need too much extra gear. We passed through the number checks and dropped off our bags to bag check and then went into our wave. We were to be first to go. 9am kick off.

George

George enjoying his nap with his new Dublin Marathon Teddy

 

A few pictures were taken and we were getting close to start. The thought of 26.2 miles hadn’t hit me yet but I think having Damian there to pace me eased any nerves. Damian had the pace bands, 2 of them, 3:50 and 3:55, it would be interesting to see which once we will need. The weather was perfect which was a great start and the there was a great buzz around. Over the starting mat we went and no turning back now. Time to forget the knee pain and concentrate on what is to come.

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First 10km

The first few miles were busy, a few turns at the beginning meant it was hard to get into a rhythm. It was hard not to get carried away at around the 2km mark when a downhill emerged and we made our way along the quays. We hit the 2 mile mark when we went over James Joyce Bridge and this started a bit of a drag where we had a slight incline to look forward to for until we left Phoenix Park.   We entered the park just after the 5km mark and we passed the back of the Zoo. This is where we cheered on Damian last year and as we worked our way around the Zoo we found ourself on a long straight of Chesterfield Avenue. The crowds were out and it was a good distraction from the straight line and drag. Pace was looking very consistent just as we left the park we hit the 10km mark. I was delighted to pass it in 53:57 (approx). Never once did I ask Damian for pace as I just trusted he had us going at what we needed.

Up to half way

Some of the support was excellent and 1 place that was easy to remember was when we made the turn on to College Road and the crowds were huge and gave the kick we needed. The last of the slight incline came around here. It meant we had a bit of fun with downhills to come as we reentered the park. It was refreshing in here and we couldn’t help but realise what a beautiful day it was. On leaving the park again we were on Chapelizod road, memories of Dublin Triathlon from last year came flooding back. We then turned on to St Laurences Road where there was great support again then and another little climb up to Sarsfield Road which I knew meant we were close to where we cheered on Damian last year – Kilmainham. I knew it would be special around here because the support is huge. Its hard to hold back as the crowds roared us on. A perfectly timed water stop where Damian continued to pick up 2 fresh bottles and discard the warmer bottles.

Half way

Before we hit half way I was starting to get hungry. The gels were giving me some extra energy but I still felt peckish. I told Damian to keep an eye out for someone handing out jellies and grab some if he can. He succeeded and they went down well. I never had to do that before but anything to stop me from getting too hungry.

Half way

It was great to hit half way and still feeling good. Reached it in 1:53:31. This was a couple of minutes faster than I reached half way in New York last year.

Getting to and over heartbreak hill

What distracted for a while after this was seeing the lines of traffic going no where has we held up all over Dublin. There was something in the back of my head. After driving back from Dundrum the day before I saw some hills we would tackle late on. It was about getting there for now. I’ll deal with it once I get to it. Damian was starting to enjoy the crowds around and made sure to get them all cheering anytime he saw a group of them together. When I got to heartbreak hill I knew I had to dig deep and push myself up it. It was all about pushing hard and keep moving. A lot of people started to walk going up but I put the head down and concentrated on each step, taking a look around to check out the support. But thankfully I got up and over it and was still in once piece….for now.

The Slow Down

Things started to slow down at km 34. This distance was something I had never ran before. My 2 previous marathons I had been walking at this stage by now. Between here and km 39 it was all about putting 1 foot in front of the other and the downhill by St Vincents hospital was starting to show how much I was struggling. Damian did everything possible to keep me going and also saw us have others join us as he drove a number of other runners on. He was slightly in front of me to encourage me to keep going but the wheels came off at the end of km 40 and in km 41. My aim was to run the whole race but my quads had enough and brought me to a walk. I needed loosen out. I could see Damian trying his best to get me going and had encouraging words but at this stage I was just trying to get going again. Of course this was were our support group was. Martha, George, Sarah and Fiadh. Martha had the camera out and caught me walking but a hug and a kiss and the push needed was got to turn my walk into a slow run.

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I was caught walking

Just over a km to go and I knew I was going to break the four hours and Damian was right to keep hold of the 3:55 pace band. He got me there. We crossed the line together and without him driving me on when times got tough I’d have had another almost story in my quest to break four hours. It was relief, happiness, delight that I done it. A new PB of 3:55:22. Time to grab the medal and the tshirt and hobble to bag check. It took some time to take it all in but wow, what a day.

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dublin-marathon

 

A tough but great day out at the Dublin Marathon but my aim was to break 4 hour mark for the 1st time and that I did. Coach Damian made it happen with the training plan and huge encouragement and pacing on the day. When things got tough he made sure I didn’t slow down (too much 😁). Last couple of miles were tough after no training for the last 3 weeks due to injury but knowing Martha, George & Sarah & Fiadh were at mile 25 pushed me on. Thanks to Martha for all her support and being the most understanding and awesome wife because training started just after George was born so couldn’t have got there without her. It is now time to take a bit of a break and then build back up for next year.

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