The Build Up:
When I signed up to Dublin Marathon I knew immediately that I wanted to take the family with me.
Not only would it be our first family trip as a foursome but it would also be our first trip on a ferry. Due to my complete, utter and probably irrational fear about planes (Apologies again to the guy sitting opposite me as we took off for Barcelona) I knew I wasn’t up for flying.
So, we picked the boy up from school on the Friday and I tetris’d the hell out of the car to make sure we got everything in and we were off on our way to Liverpool. An overnight stay in Liverpool and we were up in the early hours of Saturday morning to check in for our ferry to Dublin.
It was an eight hour trip, setting off at 9:30, to Dublin via ferry and, once there, we still had to find our way to our hotel (The Radisson Blu St Helen).
The ferry trip over was lovely but we’d forgotten our travel adaptors so, although we’d packed plenty of things for him to watch on his dvd player, the boy couldn’t watch anything other than what was on the tv’s in the dining area. Luckily we’d bought him a Thunderbirds magazine and an animal sticker book which managed to keep him quiet for periods.
We arrived in Dublin just after half five and we were all packed back in the car for the trip to the hotel. We took a slight wrong turn but were soon back in the right direction following some helpful directions from the toll bridge guard. On arrival at the hotel we thought we’d gotten the wrong place. We turned up at this grand stately home looking building which was possibly slightly too posh for us. Nevertheless we’d gotten the right place so we were soon booked in and working out how to calm the kids down to get them to sleep.
A semi successful night of sleep meant that we were all, slightly, refreshed enough to head out to the Dublin Marathon expo on the Sunday so I could pick up my number before we made a day of it at Dublin Zoo. I’d already been out for a little run first thing so adding in a traipse around Dublin Zoo probably wasn’t the best preparation for a marathon but I was determined to make this as much of a family holiday as it was a marathon weekend.
The zoo was really interesting and we managed to get some really good pictures as there were plenty of areas where you’d be able to see the animals. We’ve been to some zoos where you can barely see anything so this was definitely one of the better ones. Sadly the ignorance of some adults continued to this zoo as they pushed kids out of the way to get a better look at the animals.
And so it was the evening before the marathon and, after taking the family out for a lovely meal, I was ready for a night of rest and relaxation…or so I thought.
The guy in the room to our right was a very loud snorer and kept me up for a few hours longer than I would’ve liked. No sooner had I gotten to sleep than the lady in the room to our left rocked back in and decided to start shouting at the top of her voice for the next hour. This was not awesome. All in all I reckon I ended up with about three hours sleep. Which might have been ok had I been sleeping well in the days beforehand. As it was I think I’d probably totalled about seven hours sleep in the three days prior to the marathon.
And so I found myself getting up at 5am for a shower and the next hour was spent getting my stuff together and trying (and failing) to keep quiet enough so not to wake the rest of the family up. A quick breakfast later and I was in a taxi at 7:30 (as advised by a taxi driver the night before) to make my way down to the start area. Despite the taxi driver the night before advising me to head off early as there would be lots of diversions to get through we arrived at the start area at 7:40. I didn’t know what to do with myself for the next hour and a bit so I spent twenty minutes wandering and then sat down by some steps opposite the portable toilets as I knew I’d need to use them pretty soon. At 8:30 I started my stretching and then joined the group heading to the start of the green wave (expected finish time 3:50-4:15).
9am soon rolled around and the first wave headed off with my wave being up second. 10 minutes after the first wave set off and we were off the marks.
I had a few targets for the day. My outside target was a 3:40.00 finish, that was what my training and half marathons leading up to the day had predicted so if everything aligned on the day it was a possibility. Another target was a sub 3:45.00 finish with my main target being beating my personal best for a marathon of 3:49.22. Finally, my last target was my fall-back target if everything went wrong. That was plainly a sub 4 hour finish.
I had three target times written on my wrist that I had to hit for a 3:40.00 finish. Those were:
8 miles at 1:02.00 – 1:03.00
16 miles at 2:13.00 – 2:15.00 and
20 miles at 2:45.00 – 2:48.00.
The first few miles went really well and I was where I expected time-wise at 3 miles. From mile 3 we headed into Phoenix Park which was an incline from miles 4 to 6 with the wind behind. We headed out of Phoenix Park just after mile 6 and at mile 7 the pack turned into the wind and things started to get a bit rough. At Mile 8 we turned back into Phoenix Park and I was right on my time expectation. We headed back out of the park at around 9 ½ miles and the next few miles consisted of running through streets and areas that were heavily supported by crowds.
It wasn’t long before the halfway point arrived and I was bang on target at 1:45.40. I now had to get to 16 miles in the next half hour to hit my next target. I was steady away for the next three miles alternating between 8 ½ minute miles and 9 minute miles before hitting 16 miles at 2:14.20. The next goal was to try and hit 20 miles within the next 33 minutes.
Unfortunately it was at mile 17 that the wheels came off. I’d been struggling with the wind for the past 10 miles and my breathing had really started to suffer. At mile 17 I just suddenly felt very tired and nauseous and thought the best course of action, if I wanted to finish safe, was to take it steady. At mile 18 my breakfast made a reappearance and I started to feel a little better but the tiredness had well and truly kicked in. The next 8.2 miles were going to be tough.
I’d been out for a bit of a recce the day before so I knew where miles 23 to 25 were and once I hit mile 20 I kind of knew where I was heading. I was still struggling on but I was hitting 10 minute miles where I really wanted to be hitting 8 ½ minute miles.
At mile 23 the 3:50.00 pacer passed me and I knew that the majority of my targets had gone.
I was perked up by my family making an appearance at mile 24 and giving me the impetus to get my head out of my arse and finish strong. I knew that there were only 2 miles to go and I was definitely going to sub four if I didn’t falter.
Mile 25 took us past the expo building before the final stretch to the finish in Merrion Square.
I pushed right to the end in the last mile and crossed the line in 3:58.31 in position 4964.
I wasn’t happy with my time but on reflection the weather wasn’t great and the build-up to the day in terms of sleep and preparation hadn’t been what I was used to.
Looking at twitter and facebook later in the day I found that many others had finished with times that they weren’t happy with so I wasn’t the only one. I’ll chalk this one up as a tough day at the office and move on to the next one which is likely to be Manchester in April. I really want to work at my pacing this time to ensure I finish in the time I expect. I’ve got the half marathon side of pacing down now which is only something that’s happened this year so I now just need to work out the best way to pace a marathon to ensure that I don’t falter in the second half.
Regardless I really enjoyed my trip with the family and it was nice to have them there for me at the end of a tough marathon.
In terms of Dublin Marathon it was definitely not as flat as I expected it to be and the weather wasn’t great. I’d read Phil Hewitt’s Keep On Running where he talked about his Dublin Marathon experience where it rained…a lot. So I wasn’t expecting great weather but I’d have almost preferred rain to the excessive wind that hit me from mile seven onwards. But sadly the weather we cannot control…yet.
The guy handing out pieces of oranges at 20 miles was a God-send. Thank you that man…thank you.
Some of the signs were really humorous and kept me going, top quality ones were:
You’re running better than this government ever could.
If Britney can survive 2007 then you can survive this.
Smile if you’ve done a little wee.
You’ve got great stamina, catch me at the finish line.
You’ve just run longer than Kim Kardashian’s marriage lasted.
There was good support throughout although the claim at the start that it was the best supported marathon was, in my opinion, false. Manchester was definitely better supported throughout than Dublin.
People not in the marathon who insist on running or biking next to someone. You’re getting in the way of other runners…stop it.
It was definitely hillier than billed.
Would I do it again? Probably not although the boy did mention something about joining me on the start line at Dublin in 15 years.
When I finished I received this picture from a friend:
It was definitely a struggle that’s for sure.
I’m definitely happy I did it though and I’m glad it was a family holiday too. That’s my fourth marathon in the bag and potentially next year will see me complete another four in total which will bring my tally to eight. The marathon is definitely becoming a favourite distance all I need to do now is master it.
You can find me on facebook here
I’m on Twitter @SteveNaive1980
I’m still fundraising for Cure Rett via JustGiving at this link.
Next up for me is the Brampton to Carlisle 10 Mile run on Sunday November 15th.