Well it being my first overseas marathon I was quite excited! Having put in no training at all and been sick to the point of taking a couple of days off work......(I didn't, but struggled through Thursday and Friday, hoarse, dehydrated through constant nasal blowing and coughing) and then up at 5am to fly to Dublin where we stayed with the awesome Jen and Keith in their new house in the West of Dublin.
After an afternoon of walking around Dublin City centre and having picked up my number from the RDS in South Dublin (smooth organisation.....far more organised than VLM) I decided not to hang around the running stalls after a quick peruse to scout out any Ultras....and then it was off to the sights of Dublin city. Dinner was Thai at Saba where we quaffed plenty of rice, prawns, chicken and beef dishes, all washed down with a few large glasses of red. Returning home I quickly went into re hydration mode, bathed and went for an early night.
Up at 6am and after a smoothie and a bowl of cereal, Keith drove me to his office on the River Liffey in an area not dissimilar to London Docklands. I walked the mile and a half to the start which I was glad of as it was only 3 degrees and I needed to warm up. A coffee later and I was at the bustling bag drop, not too eager to rid myself of my warm gloves, coat and hoodie.
Although the marathon appeared very well organised, I spied a maximum of 8 portaloos for the elite (orange) and mid paced (green) start waves. I needed a dump but it could wait.......
Off to the start and it took about 2.5 mins to get over the start line in the "elite" group of about 4,000 runners. I oped for the rear of the group, but unbeknownst to me, there were plenty of green and blue (4.30-6.00 finishers!) runners in the way so I bode my time and after an 11 min first mile I was underway.
I ran the first quarter about on schedule.....not that I had a schedule....I was just happy to be running in the cold overcast morning, having not run for a week with a heavy cold. Last Tuesday night I left Woolway after a mile of the club run only to turn back and relieve my lungs of phlegm all over Dulwich. So, being at the back of the fast start suited me fine. Round granite city streets and up to Phoenix Park, Dublin Zoo and around the top of the City was where I found some rhythm. The fog barely lifting across the panoramic view of the cityscape. Mrs UB and Jen were at mile 8.5.....I stopped for a chat and to see how they were.....they were off for a coffee. I then saw Glenn at 10, so stopped for a chat too. Within no time was halfway. Well oiled and well drilled scouts/boys/girl brigade thrust water, juice and gels at me as I hit the tenement greyness of Crumlin. I've never done a marathon on gels alone, but that is asll they had, so I duly took a couple and on I ran. Lots of the early nutters fell by the wayside and I was shocked to see so many pull up with cramp in the 13-18 section. I bimbled on, metronomic in my own pace. I looked at my Garmin about 20 times during this section, sure that the damned thing was jammed as the min/mile pace was exactly as it was at 8 miles! Frustrated by this I, and as I saw a lot of runners falling by the wayside, I hit the afterburners at 19. Usually, this is my favourite zone....acceleration is my best medicine. This usually lasts for the rest of a marathon and I was pleased to see that until 22.5, this was the case. Then, marathons find you out. If you don't train for this, it always gets you. Saunters across the countryside are good, but good hard 20+ weekly Sunday runs are what maketh the road marathoner. After hitting the city centre again, I felt a little hamstring issue, I slowed, pulled in the reins and glided through the last 4, focusing on form and soaking in the thousands that had lined the streets. I did lose some time here as I was on for about a 3.35.......not amazing, but the only training I have done since the SDW100 are long slow marathon runs, nothing quick.
The last mile was amazing. I can see why so many come back again and again for the adulation of tens of thousands of screaming fans.A cacophony of noise ensued as I headed through central Dublin, less than 500m to go and then a blaze of marshals shouting at everyone to sprint to the finish.
A most surreal moment enveloped me in a bubble. The whole street was carpeted green, the marshals screaming at every runner to race for the line and as tired marathoners, experienced or not exploded into a burst of last-gasp-speed for the finish..........it became a war zone! I must have overtaken 50 people in the last 3-500m........hamstrings, quads, calves.........all giving way to unadulterated bravado.......
Strange......but funny all the same. No problems though as most hobbled across the line to pick up an amazing medal, t-shirt and bag. Awesome road marathon. Awesome organisation. I had picked up my bag, had a cider and a bag of monster munch in my hand within 10 mins of being over the line......and I walked 5 mins to an offie to purchase them anyway!!!
I'll be back Dublin.......but next time I'll have 16 weeks of road training under my belt!