When I heard “International”, I had something else in mind….

I did okay in my second ever half. It was the 2017 Dublin Rock n’ Rock (finishing in 1:39, a number which would haunt me), and so I registered for the same event in 2018 in an effort to beat my time. Not a huge ask considering I’m running more. Who’d have guessed The Pope’s visit would mean a major course reroute to include major hills, which I’ll blame for a major 4 minute slower run – disgusted!  I would have to go again this summer to find my PB, and some pride.

“Charleville”, said Maura “XCountry” Ginty. The “flattest, fastest half”, she said. “Roadtrip!”, she gushed. “We’ll stay with Shona.” Who could resist this infectious idea! “Get on the club email there Dee, and tell people we’re going” she said. “Get a big gang!”.

Sportsworld Participants: Maura, Deirdre, Gareth.

While most of our club togged out for the Dublin Half, Maura and I benefited from the club’s Regional Hospitality Network For Elite Athletes, with the very fine overnight accommodation in Castletroy of Shona Keane. The current Limerick marathon winner, Shona offers very comfortable lodgings and pre-race pep-talks over a fine feed of pasta.

The morning of, the conditions were perfect. Sunny, crisp, a little cold. I felt okay. No passports required on the lovely spin onto International Charleville, we parked up. Finishing my third half this year in Cork in June with yet another 1:39, I vowed to beat that.

The run itself I found okay, grand at times, mostly tough, but fair. Unusually, I managed to stay with the 1:35 pacers for a good chunk – though my particular 1:35 pace group finished in 1:33! Ehh? The course is definitely not pancake flat, and while the last 2 miles seem like an eternity, I was very pleased to finish 1:36:00 on the nose.

William was there supporting us, or maybe that was more to do with Siobhan, who came in second! Crona Brady was there too, supporting Mick, the overall 2nd place finisher. All ran brilliantly, as did Gareth with a terrific 74 mins and Maura too, subbing 90 and well on her return to her peak performances.

I love Maura’s attitude on raceday, her positivity, goodwill and her drive to improve, and my enjoyment of the day was as much to do with her as my solid PB. Here we are, seemingly joined at the hip, with even Rob Heffernan unnable to come between us.

Well done all in this ‘International’ race, and to the Dublin Half gang too.

Deirdre “Will.i.am” O’Connell