A review of the Dublin marathon
I had told myself I wouldn’t take Dublin seriously as it was an ‘extra’ marathon I hadn’t planned to do after Berlin, but my friend Hannah was doing it and it seemed like a good idea to combine the run with a trip to Dublin. Dublin is known as the friendly marathon and I would have to agree. Having said Berlin’s crowds were sub par to London, Dublin’s still weren’t as big but boy were they loud! From the craic at the start to the variety of treats on offer from locals around the course, the atmosphere was great. They had dedicated cheer sections which felt like you were at the finish each time, a real boost through some of the tougher sections.
The start was very well organised and started bang on time. You start and finish in the same place so bag drop was easy and the walk to the start pens was quick. I was in the blue wave of 4-4:20 runners which was a tad ambitious. I realised picking a pen faster than your time is a bit stupid as the risk of setting off too fast increases as you try to match pace which can kill your race in the early stages. I was very conscious of that as I lined up next to the 4:10 balloons on the start line so I was trying to slow myself down as we got stared which is hard when everyone is running past you! The first few miles went by quickly with a slight undulation and then we were in Phoenix Park. Having looked ahead at the course map I knew this was a big chunk of the first half and wanted to get to the end of it feeling good. The park itself is very pretty especially in autumn colours but it’s pretty much a long straight road. It’s a good place to settle into the run and find your pace. I was keeping tabs on my mile splits and was consistently hanging out around 10min miles which was about right. We got to the end of the park at the 9 mile mark to huge cheers from the crowds and reached the first Lucozade stop (there were water bottles every 2miles from mile 3). Lucozade is what I’ve trained with so I was pleased to see it, though it was in giant bottles! We then faced the first major hill which has the biggest elevation on the course but it’s fairly short and early enough on that it didn’t cause too many issues. I passed a runner pushing a wheelchair on the hill so I remembered I didn’t have much to moan about and got on with it!
The next goal was to see our cheering squad who had positioned themselves at mile 13. I crossed halfway at 2:09 thinking I was pretty spot on for a PB if I could keep steady. The next few miles passed by and I was aiming to keep my heart rate under 165 which was getting difficult. With the confidence I gained from Berlin I was hoping the same second wind would hit me at mile 18. To be fair it did start to set in as my times per mile improved but then a new set of hills from 18-21 miles soon killed that off. This stretch seemed to never end and when you thought you’d broken the back of one hill another appeared. The 4:20 pacer balloons passed me along this section which deflated my spirit even more and I was really starting to feel my legs, in particular my hamstrings thanks to the hills. Dublin's elevation profile:
Berlin's marathon profile:
We finally broke the up hills at 22 miles and came back down to sea level which is not as fun, at this stage of a marathon downhills can hurt quite a bit too! I was starting to struggle to breathe in a nice rhythm and my right leg was not playing ball so my pace was dropping off. The crowds were getting more consistent which was helping push me on but I knew there was still at least 30mins of running left which felt impossible.
I finally broke at mile 24.5 where the pain in my leg got the better of me and I started hobbling and crying. The funny thing is you can’t really cry when you’re running as 1. you have no water for tears and 2. your breathing becomes a mess so it is more pulling funny faces and whimpering than crying! I called Jon to hear a few more words of encouragement and he reassured me I could still get a PB if I got a move on. With that in my mind and passing 25miles I trundled along in a run/hobble with my new mantra being ‘pain is not damage’ to push through. Finally we reached the 800m to go mark and the finish was in site. The crowd were brilliant and incredibly loud so there was no more walking and I crossed the line in 4h23, 2mins under my best time. The weird crying continued through the finish funnel as I hobbled to get my bag and find the cheer squad. After my obligatory post race snickers the reality that I was no longer running and I did actually have a good race sunk in and I could enjoy it!
I think I could have got sub 4:20 if I was a bit smarter with planning the course and the hill sections to save my legs but given that it was a tough course I am very pleased overall. It is definitely a friendly marathon with a good atmosphere so I would recommend it. I am now marathon free in my current schedule but who stops at 9 marathons?! Onwards to planning number 10 whilst the endorphins are still coursing through my veins!