Saturday Morning 4 a.m up and brushing my teeth and a tad concerned by the fact i was meant to have set off off to the airport about 30 minutes ago. So what happened there then?! well my partner was stuck in work till near mid-night and the knock on affect of all that = late to bed which = up late!!!
What followed was a 90+ mph drive down the motor way to Liverpool, from where we would fly to Dublin, hampered further by road closures and diversions it was going to be tight. The airport gate was to close at 0445 and we got to Liverpool airport at around 0435…….still time i thought (I’m quite positive like that, i guess it comes with long distance running). We then hit a huge security queue to get through to the gate, not good!!!
0450; We listen as the final call for our plane , placed over our heads and then 0455 they call for us and some other person, by name……..it was this that prompted the queue monitor guy to agree to let us jump ahead of the queue……….Liverpool airport staff are clearly not as interested in making sure you make your flight as their counterparts over in Manchester, we had made him aware of the situation twice already.
We got through security and were told we’ve got five minutes to make it to the gate before the plan leaves…….turns out i would be having one final run before the marathon after all. Luckily it wasn’t that far to the gate and we made it just in time, the other missing passenger didnt, stuck in the security queue still maybe, who knows.
Everything else was ok and we arrived at Dublin and then onto our accommodation with ease. Dublin certainly has their public transport to and from the airport, system well worked out. We were staying at Latchfords self catering, which i picked purely for its proximity to the start of the marathon (more on that later) and so that i could have complete control over my nutrition options.
The apartment seemed nice, but there was no time for that, it was straight to bed for a couple of hours sleep and boy did we need it!!
On and a good omen, look what room I was in :
Waking up at around 13:00 we unpacked , where to my horror i released id forgotten my money belt, which i was to use as a gel belt during the marathon…..uff!! annoying! I decided to pick up a proper one from the expo rather than search around Dublin for another money belt, plus my partner was going to be putting up with enough running based stuff without me dragging her around the shops of Dublin looking for running products.
But luckily I had remembered all my other running junk :
Heading down to the race expo , which was just a 15-20 minute walk away from our accommodation,. It was also very easy to find, as we simply followed the trail of runners walking up and down the road, like a column of ants. The expo itself was not the biggest ive ever been to, but it was well organised, with plenty of stalls to visit, so i got my money belt and picked up lots of flyers. The most interesting being about the Munich marathon, which i initially picked up as it was being handed out by a blonde woman in the traditional German outfit……anyway! #typical-male. The Munich race seems fantastic, it starts off at the Olympic park and finishes in the Olympic stadium, which if youve not seen, looks like this :
On leaving the expo , we found it was pouring down outside!! I began to grow concerned that this marathon would be a repeat of the horrendous conditions i faced during the Preston Guild marathon in 2012!!
We then headed back to the hotel and relaxed a little before heading out for food. Again the accommodation choice came up tops, the local area was teaming with eatery’s. Although not too many Italian places, i was of course thinking pasta, we did find one and it was quite nice. I believe it was called Canaletto (But i might be wrong!! – Its near a Fish and Chips shop on Mespil Road) and the food and service was good. Then we then simply went back to the accommodation watched some telly and were in bed by eleven.
Next day (Sunday), was more a day for my partner, starting with a nice long lay in, as i knew not only would we be up early the next day, but also i wouldn’t be able to sleep too much before the marathon especially as it had a start time of 0900. We then spent the day taking in the sights of Dublin Castle , Dublin Cathedral and a Viking center. For carbo loading, i had a breakfast of shredded wheat and wholemeal bread, a lunch of soup & a Sandwich, an afternoon snack of a rice dish for two (just for me ha!!) and then in the evening we went out for pasta……..well that was the plan……..
It turned out I had put too much effort on taking it easy and being relaxed and completely forgot about the impact of so many runners looking for pasta joints, arriving at the nice Italian at around seven forty, to find dinners queuing out of the door!!! Disaster!! Or so i thought, then i remembered something. I had taken my Advanced Marathoning book with me to Dublin and just that very afternoon i had read in it, how a lot of top athletes each rice the night before a race, as its easier to digest than pasta. Eureka!!!
The area was full of Oriental and Asian eatery’s , so we headed off to the nearest one, a Chinese place called Tin Tin, it was empty which was worrying but the food was really nice and the services quick, i ate the majority of rice and noddles which we have bought and as you could imagine i was now a little less stressed about carbo loading. Then it was off to bed around 11.
Ssoon id been lining up to race 26.2 miles of the Dublin streets.
Monday, Race Day 6 a.m
I was up with plenty of time to prepare for the race with my alarms starting to go off at 0600 and eventually, I pulled myself out of bed at 0630. I decided to prepare my race day kit before eating, as I wanted to give my stomach a bit of time to wake up and also I figured if I wait half an hour then that’s half an hour longer that the food will last for. I had shredded Wheat , 2 slices of toast and an SIS Hydro drink (500ml) and we were ready to go, obviously after a few nervous bathroom trips that is!!
One early positive was the weather looked ok, no rain clouds in sight!!
Stepping out of the house, we found ourselves in the green start zone and immediately questioned by a steward if we were in the right place. He’s a bit eager I thought, but it seemed to set the tone, security was tight , with plenty of stewards to guide you to the right place and well keep you out of the wrong places. It seemed no one would get into a start pen who shouldn’t be there. Or would they?!
I made it to the bag drop area, where we found my partner wouldn’t be allowed to accompany me any more, but I only found this out after I had entered the baggage zone. So a quick call and plans where made for her to meet me around by the orange start zone, which was the one I had been allocated. In with the front lot, a good start.
After dropping my bag off I made my way to the orange start zone, where I found that the organisers had set up no where near enough toilets and I joined the rather long queue to make use of the facilities. However, by the time I had made it to almost the front area of the queue it was five to nine or five minutes to the start of the race to put it another way. On the plus waiting in line gave me plenty time to eat my first packet of Sports Beans, as per the guidance on the back of the packets. You eat one bag half an hour before the race and the other you consume over the course of your run. Which I did every time I passed a mile marker which didn’t give out any water or energy substances.
Luckily I studied the race route and I knew there were some facilities around the 3 mile point, so I decided I could wait till then.
I entered the orange start zone with just enough time to make contact with my partner who wished me good luck , when the race was started, we were off……well we were walking along that is, as I was quite a bit towards the back of the orange people with it taking me two minutes to cross the start line, thank goodness for chip timing!!
On my way to the start, I found that perhaps security wasn’t as tight as they thought, as walking in the opposite direction was a rather bemused looking woman in jeans a thick coat and her handbag……we gave each other a knowing smile and head shake. It was amusing start to the race.
Race was on, I was over the start line!! And having entered the orange zone late, I was behind the 3:40 pacers , so I figured I needed to get ahead of them and try and get the 3:30 pacers in sight. This lead me to fly though the first mile in 7 minutes flat!! oops!
I slowed down some what after this as my plan for the first six miles was to cover them in 8:20 pace , as per this :
I was then to run to the 13 mile point in 08:10 pace, before switching to 08:00 pace till the bitter end.
On my pace band above, the blue indicates water stops, the orange lucozade stops, the green gel stops and the red the points when I took my own gels. As you can see I like to fully plan out the race.
At miles two and three I was still around 40 seconds ahead, but I decided to stick to the pace I was going. Partly as I was on the look out for a bathroom stop (And the extra time would come in handy) and because when I did the Preston marathon, I found myself in a similar situation, cursing but ahead of plan. So I slowed right down but afterwards I always wondered that perhaps if would of been better to stick to the pace I was going and just adjust my plan.
After coming across the toilets I exited the field briefly and returned to find myself yet again behind the 3:40 pacers, so I decided to catch them up again, eventually passing them around the five mile mark, were I realised that they were running ahead of schedule. I think perhaps their plan was to allow for the gradual slow down and get people home in 3:40 that way, pretty much the opposite of what I was doing. But this settled my mind somewhat and I decided to ignore them and concentrate on my own times, of which I was now once more passing mile markers around 0.40 secs ahead of plan.
Around the 8 mile mark, I thought disaster was about to strike!! My left knee started feeling stiff, not good!! However, by mile 9 it had completely cleared up, mystery! I was running freely once more. I am not sure what happened, perhaps I had landed on it badly, but either way I was back in the groove and despite moving up to the 08:10 pace section of my plan , I was still ahead of time.
After the half marathon maker, I did begin to wonder about speeding up but I thought about my first marathon and how I had done just that, but then it had all gone wrong at the 18 mile point and I never recovered. So I continued to stick to my plan and I was proved right to do so. As when I hit the 19 mile point, I hit the wall.
Luckily around the 21.5 point, things clicked back into gear, i relaxed and was able to pick up the pace and at 22 miles i decided to really push on, boosted by passing a host of cheer leaders and the Jackson five ABC song blasting out. Initially following another runner through the crowds and then moving on by myself, passing countless other runners walking or doing the marathon shuffle and when i reached the last mile i pushed on even harder, i wanted to use up every last bit of energy that i had, i wanted to give it my all.
And when I reached the beginning of the very long, final stretch of the run with my watch reading 3hr29mins , i knew then i was on for a great time, but i didn’t want to rest up now and moved up to another gear once more passing numerous more runners. Then over the final few metres i moved up to, what felt like a sprint, but probably wasn’t!! Passing one then pipping another runner right on the finish line………
It was over , i had finished!!
I immediately stopped running and my legs had the weird feeling that you only experience when you’ve been running non-stop for several hours and then you suddenly stop. It felt weird not to be running. But my god did it feel great to have completed the run, to finished another marathon, to have PB’d and to have smashed my 3:40 target time, crossing the line in 3:31:33. I was exhausted , but i was happy.
The route wasn’t as tough as i feared but there was a few tough inclines late on in the run, probably not huge climbs, but climbs which dragged on and really took it out of you after being on your feet for several hours. The crowds of Dublin were amazing, pretty much the entire route was lined by cheering Dubliners who really did make this a special race and helped to push you around the course. I can see why this run is getting bigger each year, with 14,500 runners turning out this time it was great day. The weather was also perfect for it, sunny with a cool breeze, you cant ask for more than that. If you’ve not done this race, i recommend doing it, you wont regret it and your have an amazing time.
My final thoughts on race day will go to the runner who one my readers alerted me to. A young chap by the name of Ricki Savage who collapsed and later died, during the run. Which i think reminds us all, how whilst be amazing and enjoyable feats to complete, marathons are still dangerous endeavours and must be treated with respect. I dont know the exact circumstances as to why he died, but will remind you all to train smart, listen to your bodies and take on plenty of fluids. Oh and do remember there is always another race.
Its been great keeping this blog, i think I’ll still maintain it for my 2014 marathon. My next posts will look at metro-cycle five, the final chapter of my training programme – a recovery period. Whilst I also plan to do a lessons learned post and pull together some stats which my be of interest to people so watch out for those in the coming days.
Thank you once again, its been great and Dublin was amazing!! You run if you haven’t done already!