Now I was prepared for HeartBreak hill later in the race, but for me Mile 9-10 was an absolute killer! It was a really sharp severe slope that I hadn’t been expecting, and it hurt like hell! There was a nice flat section that followed and one spectator shouted “Don’t worry there are no more hills for a while” which definitely helped!
My family were at the mile 10 point which was lovely and helped to spur me on. My mum asked if I was ok and I said “Yes, but I’m freezing!”. The support was great here as it was all along the route, they had Spar cheering stations set up outside of every Spar shop, playing music, with loads of people cheering you on!
Mile 10- Feeling good!
The next section was pretty uneventful, a few gentle, undulating inclines, some flat sections too. I passed the half way mark in 2.10.32, which was only a minute behind my Cardiff half time from last year and 8 minutes off my PB. I think in reflection I took the first 13.1 miles a little too hard, especially considering it was supposed to be the hardest part of the course.
I felt pretty good throughout and was enjoying it, soaking up the crowd support, high fiving kids and laughing at some of the posters “Run like it’s a zombie apocalypse!” “Chuck Norris never ran a marathon” “Because 26.3 would be crazy!”. I just can’t emphasise enough how amazing the support was the whole way around the course, the amount of people who came out on a freezing cold Bank Holiday Monday to cheer everyone on, and the many who offered sweets, water, fruit, cakes, biscuits along the route were just fantastic.
I took on a Roctane GU gel at mile 15, and I felt an instant burst of energy. I went through a particularly good patch at 15-16 miles where I was feeling great, the support around Bushy Park was amazing. I started to slow and tire from that point onwards. I finally lost sight of the 4.15 pacers, and just decided to run my own race and enjoy it!
I was planning to stop and pee at mile 17 but there was a queue and I didn’t want to stop for long. I also didn’t want to go too early as I knew I would have to go again, so I held off, and in the end I didn’t end up going throughout the entire race! I have the weakest bladder in the world so not sure how I managed that!
I started to break the race down into little sections, to get me through it mentally. So once I got to 17 I knew I was into single figures. I was also sipping water every 1.5 miles, so this was another thing that helped me to break it down into smaller chunks. I took another roctane Gu at mile 19 right before heartbreak hill to give me the boost to power through!
I knew I just had to get through miles 18-21 as it was pretty much downhill from there. At around mile 18 the 4.30 pacers passed me, I tried to stick with them, but I just didn’t have it in my legs. I was initially annoyed that I was going to miss my goal, but then I thought why am I going to push myself, and force myself to suffer for the next 8 miles when I can soak this up and enjoy it by running at my own comfortable pace. After all this may be the only time I ever get to do this! So I settled into my own comfortable rhythm.
My knees started to really hurt around mile 19, so I took every opportunity to run on grassy verges, as the concrete was just killing my legs! After mile 20 I was into uncharted territory so I told myself to gut out the last 10k. I passed 20 miles in 3.25.13, so I was still on course for under 3.30, but slowing all the time!
I was prepared for heartbreak hill at mile 21, so I didn’t actually find it too hard and just powered up it.
In the next few miles I started to get a weird twinge in my right calve and I kept thinking it was going to cramp- I’ve never had cramp so no idea what it feels like! I necked more coconut water and just tried to run through it, though it lasted a good few miles. The Stillorgan road section was one of my least favourite sections of the course, running alongside a busy dual carriageway, not ideal!
At mile 22 I got some dates out of my bag and ate 1 every half a mile, again another tactic to break down the race into small chunks. At this point I was just holding on and gutting it out, I never reached a point where I thought I would have to stop and walk, I just carried on through-no matter how slowly.
I started to reach recognisable landmarks as we ran past the RDS where the expo took place at mile 23. The last few miles were pretty much flat or downhill aside from a bit of an incline on Grand Canal Street! I didn’t know where my family was going to be so I was looking out from them from mile 23 onwards so that also helped to keep me going!
I saw my family around mile 25, the streets were packed and I just soaked up the atmosphere and knew I was nearly there. I was feeling a bit emotional at this point but I held it together. The last mile and a bit seemed to last forever, but as we rounded the final corner I saw the finish straight and powered for the line!
I finished in 4.33.21, not too far outside my goal of 4.30, but most importantly to me I ran the whole thing, and I bloody loved every minute of it! I could barely walk after I finished, and I had a little cry as I felt a bit overwhelmed that 5 months of hard work was over, and I was a marathon runner!
I hobbled down to collect my medal and got a goody bag with a small t-shirt hooray! They were nice long sleeve tech tee’s although the small is still a bit too big but better than before! Apparently after 5 hour mark they had no small/medium or large so I was pretty lucky!
I had a little stretch and walked to the St John’s ambulance tent to get a foil blanket, the man was very helpful but was concerned that I didn’t have any clothes with me to change into-my parents had them just round the corner. I wrapped my blanket around me and hobbled off to find my family. I changed into some warmer clothes and we decided to get out of the busy city.
We headed to a local burger place that make a really good vegan burger salad, it’s really good as you can customise everything. I ordered that alongside a huge order of sweet potato fries and a gluten free beer. I wasn’t actually hungry as long races kill my appetite but I knew I needed to eat as it was nearly 4 o’clock! I spent the rest of the day resting, I had a bath with some epsom and seaweed salts to help my recovery.
I proceeded to have an awful nights sleep, I had a banging headache which started after the race and got gradually worse over the evening and night, I still have it a bit today but it seems to be lessening. I’m just loading up on the electrolyte drinks!
I also have extremely bad pain in my left knee, I couldn’t sleep as it was so painful, and I couldn’t lie in any position. When I injured my knee a few months back it was the right one, so this isn’t the same thing. It is so so sore, I have a compression bandage on it, and will just try to ice it. Other than that I’m a tiny bit sore- hamstrings and left calve in particular, but I had a 20 minute walk this afternoon and have had a foam roll. Hopefully I will get a better rest this evening before I am back in work tomorrow.
I will have a more reflective marathon post coming up in the next week or two, but all I can say for now is I loved every minute of Dublin, the support was amazing, no wonder it is known as ‘The Friendly’ . I’m not sure at this point if I’ll ever do another one, I need time to reflect, recover, rest and heal, and see where that leaves me. A break from running is most definitely welcome right now.