The 2019 KBC Dublin Marathon took place in the capital on Sunday, October 28th with a record number 22,500 taking part. The race is about community spirit, bringing together runners, supporters, family members, volunteers and of course, fans, every October. This year was the 40th running and for the second year in row weather conditions were very favorable for marathon running.
The route of the race passed through the city center from Fitzwilliam Square to the Pheonix Park before turning south to head through Chapelizod, Kilmainham, along the South Circular Road, into Terenure. It then turned through Stillorgan, making its way along the Merrion Road before finishing at Merrion Square North.
As is a tradition we have asked a cross-section of the runners to send in a race report. Get the digestives out and start reading below.
A big congratulations to everyone particularly Ruth Kelly who ran an incredible 258.04 and finished 3rd in her age category. One of the best results in the clubs history. Also well done to everyone who finished their first marathon on Sunday. The support was epic on the day and there was a great night out in Bitchalls of Ranelagh after. Kudos to all the efforts put in by everyone, including the coaches Emily and Myles.
27 October 2019 had been marked on the calendar in my house for many months. Having run Dublin on a few occasions, I knew what was in store & I was determined to give it a good go this time around and see where I’d end up.
Race morning finally arrived and after a lot of wet weather over the last few weeks, it was a very welcome surprise to see near-perfect conditions – cool, dry and calm. No excuses now!
The race itself is well organized and well run, so after a quick warm-up, we were underway bang at 8.45 am. My plan was to stick with the pacers for 3hr 10min and see if I could stay with them. I always believe in running naturally too, or as Ronan Masterson said to me one day – “run how you feel”. The best and the only advice he’s ever given me!
With that in mind, I edged in front of the pacers & as we went through the Phoenix Park, I realized I had left them behind. At this point, I was worried I was running too fast, so I focused on my pace & kept moving.
Terenure is a treat. The support from Sportsworld going through those areas is absolutely incredible. I know everybody says that, but they say it for a reason. Thanks to Maria Jones & Gráinne Lynch who were on the gel and drinks hand over duty for me.
That Terenure section set me up nicely for the final 12km of the race. Crossing the 30km timing mat, I was starting to feel tired and could really sense this was where the marathon starts now. So I decided there and then to split the remainder of the race into six 2km chunks to get me home. Just run 2km Pádraig. Surely you can do that! It seemed to work – a quick check of the Garmin at the 35th km showed I was still doing OK & not losing time.
I recall running up the UCD flyover & even though I was sure I was clear of the 3.10 pacers, my mind was playing tricks on me now. I asked Anna Delaney whether she could see the 3.10 balloons behind me and God bless Anna, she gave me the answer I was looking for. I asked another guy on Nutley Lane. He hadn’t a breeze what I was on about & looked at me like I was mad in the head. Perhaps he was right.
Turning off Nutley Lane onto the Merrion Road is a significant waymark. Once you turn its 3.7km straight line to the finish – no up, no down & no turns. Keep them wagons rolling and whatever you do, don’t stop.
I was really pleased to finish in 3.05 and it was really nice to immediately run into a group of Sportworlders in the finishing area, not least Ruth Kelly who ran an incredible sub 3hr race.
Thanks to all my training pals this year. I really enjoyed the training and the group environment is so much better than pounding those miles alone.
Until next year…
Sunday topped the charts for me in terms of race experience. Once my wave was sent off I was feeling pretty excited and enthusiastic. This would be a rare feeling for me in any race as I’d normally be filled with nerves and self-doubt. I had previously thrown my race plan out the window not being entirely sure what kind of pace I could actually hold. I tried a new strategy, which was actually quite an old school, I just didn’t look at my watch and ran based on how I felt.
The highlight for me was having my parents fly in from Canada to see David and I run the marathon. My parents are marathon veterans, dad having run Boston multiple times and mom never missing a race. They had the route all planned out in order to catch us in three separate places. They also brought with them blown up, laminated pictures of our faces to stick on poles so that we could find them in the crowds. As embarrassing as this was, it worked brilliantly. Seeing them on the sidelines gave me such a boost every time. I don’t take these moments for granted.
It wasn’t until I reached the 40km mark that it occurred to me I’d be under 3:50:00 which was my ultimate goal. My main goal was just 4:00:00 as my first two marathons came nowhere near this. For someone who never pushes through the pain and slows down at the drop of a hat, I was impressed with myself for not really hitting any wall between 35-40km. My kilometers just got faster.
I crossed the finish line with a gigantic smile and tears in my eyes as I had exceeded my own expectations. My final time was 3:47:35. I am still pinching myself.
Taking part in DCM 2019 was a fantastic experience. From the midweek sessions in Bushy to the long runs in Phoenix park and the event itself, I can honestly say I enjoyed almost every minute of it…almost. Although I didn’t properly start training until the end of July, preparations had gone very well so I was quietly confident of achieving my goal of breaking 3.30. The plan was to go out conservatively, find a comfortable pace and bring it home with as little drama as possible. For the most part, everything went to plan, and I was lucky enough to be able to soak up the incredible atmosphere that makes Dublin truly special. The only minor hiccup occurred in the finish area when I casually vomited on the lovely blue carpet. I’m blaming an over-indulgence in energy gels!
Other than that, things went pretty well for me. After a long, weirdly quiet, drag up Chesterfield Avenue, the buzz in Castleknock seemed to spark the marathon into life and from there on in the support was awesome. Kilmainham and Rialto were also highlighted, but nothing can compare to the adrenaline rush of coming through Terenure to the echoes of ‘you’re on home turf now’. Having the support of friends and family along the course is the major advantage of running a home marathon so a special word of thanks must go to my in-laws who came over from Canada to cheer on Jess and me.
In the end, I managed to cross the line in 3.28. I am delighted to have broken 3.30 though in hindsight I probably could have been a bit more ambitious with my pace. My philosophy had been there’s always next year to go for broke, but that was before the new lottery system was announced.
Lastly, a word of thanks to Emily and Myles and everyone in Sportsworld. How lucky we are to be involved with such a fantastic club! To anyone thinking about taking on the marathon, I say go for it. When else in life can you finish in 2,793rd place and still feel good about yourself.
P.S. Sincere apologies to whoever had the job of cleaning the blue carpet.
I think hardly a week had passed after last year’s Dublin City Marathon before I had reserved my place for the 2019 edition. Once the date was marked on the calendar it seemed like all the training would lead to October 27th -the pinnacle of my running year. This would be my third DCM in a row but crucially my first as a member of a running club. My times had improved with each marathon that I had completed until now. I had always trained on my own or at most with a friend or 2. Last year I finished the course in a time of 3 hours and 38 minutes, which I was very happy with. This year I had set myself a goal of finishing in 3 hours and 20 minutes or a pace of 4 minutes 45 seconds per km. So in order to make some serious progress this year, I knew I would need an extra push and some ‘outside expertise’.
I joined Sportsworld the week after the marathon last year and on my first session down at the Dodder I pulled my calf muscle and had to hobble home. So I postponed joining officially until the start of the year. The training sessions with Emily and Myles have been great and I have really made a lot of progress since. In the more recent months, I also have to thank Michael Cunningham for ensuring I did not get lost on the longer Sunday morning runs in the Waterworks and the Phoenix Park. I was happy with the training I had put in but nonetheless, I still had that nervous/excited feeling in the days building up to the race.
I knew how lucky we had been with the weather for the last 2 editions of the DCM so I was amazed when we were blessed yet again with cool, dry conditions and a healthy dose of Sunshine. I met Colum Roche at the start and he had the smart idea of bringing a pair of sunglasses. I could have done the same but I had never trained in sunglasses and I was never going to try something new on the day of the Marathon. So after a somewhat unusual rendition of Amhran no Bhfiann we set off with me half squinting my way around the course.
I was separated from Colum in Wave 1 pretty quickly as he and many others had spoken about ‘not wanting to go out to fast’. My strategy was a bit different I wanted to catch up with the 3 hours 20-minute pacers and then stick with them for a nice even pace the whole way round. I caught up with them at Christchurch Cathedral and then nestled in for the long haul. I did have my doubts as to whether I could keep up with the pacers but as time went on my confidence grew. I found that throughout the race this section was very congested, and I was surrounded by some really strong runners. In spite of running my fastest marathon pace to date, I still wanted to make an effort to try to find the familiar faces in the crowd, as well as enjoying some lovely views in parts of Dublin I would rarely visit on a normal day. Emily and Myles were the first familiar faces that came into view as we entered the Phoenix Park. As soon as we passed the halfway stage I started to empty the wine gums from my pocket, everything was going to plan so far.
I had known from previous years how special and supportive the crowds in Dublin were so I knew to expect the same again. This year to have the added support of so many Sportsworld Clubmates was a lovely bonus. As I passed the KCR I spotted Adrian, then Karl, then Jonny, then Peter and so many more. It gave me such a lift that I didn’t even realize I had begun to overtake the 3:20 pacers in Terenure. I was well fueled by the time I started the long slow climb at Clonskeagh and I even got a nice boost from Paul Hamilton who was strategically cheering on club mates from the top of the hill. I managed to stay ahead of the 3:20 balloons right to the end and was even still able for my regular sprint finish. I crossed the line more than 2 minutes under my target for a new Marathon Personal Best. Objective achieved!
At the finish area, I met Adam Moss who had just come home briefly from San Francisco for his marathon debut. I usually run 5k park runs with Adam so after a run that was 8 and a half times as long, I don’t think either of us had seen the other so tired. A big thank you to everyone in the club who volunteered and supported throughout the day. Since joining the club this year I have new PB’s in 5k, 10k, 5mile and now Marathon distances. Thank you Sportsworld and on to the next challenge!
After a disappointing run in Berlin 4 weeks before I was apprehensive about pushing too hard in Dublin. In between both races I had taken one rest week, one taper week and two weeks at 75% of peak millage with two sessions each week. Two weeks before Dublin I was having doubts about my decision to get back on the training wagon so soon. I was getting the sessions done but they were taking their toll and I was starting to break down with sore knees, some Achilles tightness and a lack of freshness. I would talk to Martin Doyle, the only other guy crazy enough to run two marathons in a month about how easy runs had become such a chore. The week before the race this came to a head when I was struggling to run at Marathon pace for a section of my long run. That afternoon I took a look at my splits from last year and decided to run the same race as 2018 and hope that the training I’d done leading up to Berlin would sustain me for the last 10K, which is where I lost a lot of time in 2018. Kudos to Michael O’Grady for a couple of sessions on race week to get me back feeling springy.
With the new slower pace target of 3.40 a kilometer I was much more relaxed going into taper week. It hadn’t really dawned on me that I was about to run a Marathon until I found myself walking down towards the RDS on a miserable wet Friday afternoon. On Saturday night I sat down to write out a plan for Sunday morning, not just the pacing but also what time to get up, what to eat, drink, what stretched to do and when to leave. Nothing should be left to chance.
On race morning I left my house in Rathmines at 7.30 AM and jogged slowly down to Merrion Square.
It wasn’t long before I started to spot a few friendly faces in the crowd. We had about a 30-minutes wait so just tried to stay warm before launching our old clothes to the side of the road and hitting poor some unsuspecting person. Despite the great organization the race start area needs a change, it lacks any atmosphere with no music. The organizers need to visit some other big city races and borrow a few ideas. They could have more pens at the start as well. Dublin is a great Marathon, the start area is well organized with plenty of toilets, places to change, etc but the roads at the start are a little narrow for 22,000 people.
I found myself a bit further back than I would have wanted to be at the start and the resulting first kilometer required some maneuvering skills and careful feet on the tight first corner. By the time I reached Christchurch, I was past all the crowds and starting to get into my running. The slow start meant I lost 30-40 seconds but it also meant I was playing catch up with those that had started further up the field. This was actually enjoyable as I was having the chats and saying good luck to any familiar faces I passed. I had the 5K, 10K, 20K, 30K and 32K splits in my head for the pace I wanted to run and also a rough idea of last year’s times.
At 5k I was 23 seconds behind but coasting so no need to pick it up yet. The section between 5K and 10k was notably windier this year than in 2018. I slotted into a group that was aiming to break 2.40 with a bunch of Raheny and crusaders lads. There was little point in pushing too hard to make up time just yet. I started taking half a gel every 20 minutes and taking on water at every stop. I learned from previous mistakes that taking fluids and energy in from the start is so important. Thankfully Dublin still uses small bottles of water so you can carry the water and dispose of it responsibly in the bins provided.
The next checkpoint was at 10K. I was now 35 seconds off the pace, running 37.12 but the section between 10K and 20K is mostly fast apart from one hill in Chapelizod. Its the least supported section of the course so I intentionally put the head down and picked the pace up here. I was moving really well and hitting 3.30 for most of the kilometer splits. Your watch can be helpful in a marathon to make sure you don’t overcook things too early but it’s also best to not overly focus on the splits and run by feel. This was the only section I really focused on the clock. Coming out of the park at 16K I met with the pacing group for the 2.37 elite women. I knew some of the lads in the group so I asked what they were aiming for and they said 2.37 or just under. That was perfect for me as it was the time I ran last year and I was confident of a good last 10K if I could get to 32k in 1.58 -1.59.
I started to push the group on a bit and was unsure about holding back or kicking on as came towards halfway. Aside from Terenure my favorite section of the course is Crumlin. The noise as you turn the corner is deafening from the welcome encouragement and those damn clappers. You seem to get a massive lift just when you need it going up towards Walkinstown. At 21K we were running 77.39 and my target had been 77.30 so the gap was gone. This is the toughest part of the course so we were holding back. I was cautious about pushing on here as its where I made my mistakes last year. Just to protect the PB I decided to sit but a 3.54 and two 3.48 kilometers weren’t ideal. The slow pace did, however, leave me feeling really strong as we turned the corner at kilometer 25. I was getting confident that things were going to go well. If I’d been a little more risk-averse I’d have pushed on here. The support had been great so far including Emily and Myles in the park, Michael O’Grady having a few gels ready at Walkinstown, Mark Hogan offering water and Will Greensmyth doing his best Packie Bonner impersonation along the course.
When we turned at the KCR those next 3 kilometers feel effortless as the support on home turf was incredible. Note to Michael though that the road surface on Fortifiled needs a bit of work for next year’s 5-mile classic. I was trying to sit at the back of the group for this part of the course because I was just itching to go. There was still 14K to run as we passed Terenure college but still nervous about last year I decided to stick with the pace and wait for the 32K mark at the top of Milltown. There were so many people the whole way down the Templeogue road that it was hard to acknowledge the different shouts and waves.
I’d never been so far into a Marathon and feeling so good as we got to the top of Milltown. We went through 32K in 1.59 low my plan had been mid 1.57 so there was some work to do. I hadn’t been too focused on the watch for the past 10K or so. I let the other know that I was going to kick on, wished them good luck and thanked them for the help and support over the last 16K or so. When we turned corned and headed towards Clonskeagh I knew it was time to start to push on. Mark Hogan was at the perfect spot with a bottle of water. I popped some electrolytes in and got moving. The hill at Roebuck had always seemed like a mountain in previous years but this time it felt like I flew up, waited to see Bryne Byrne in his usual spot and was back down the other side and running fast toward RTE. The next 3K went really well with my pace dropping down below 3.30 pace. I felt like I was running a 10K, passing out runner after runner and boosted by some positive encouragement from Jerry Kiernan at UCD. I took my last drink at Merrion and it was probably a mistake. I started to get a stitch from taking on too many liquids and despite the legs feeling good I was heading back towards 3.40 pace rather than maintaining the 3.30s. That lasted for about 2k but I managed to shake it off by focusing and not freaking out. No matter how good you feel when you hit 40K your mind can sense that you are nearly there and it becomes very hard to remain composed. The road to the finish was long with a bit of wind but I was feeling so much better than last year, the pacing had been just right. When I got to canal the finish seemed miles away but both sides of the road were packed I felt lifted to give it one last push. My last kilometer was the fastest in the race.
I crossed the line with the clock reading 2.35.4X, sprinting to go under 2.36 but I had taken time to get over the line so my chip time was 2.35.38. A 100-second improvement on last year and a pretty decent 36.09 last 10K I loved running Dublin this year. The strategy of just chasing the PB for my second marathon in a month paid off! I trained at a much higher intensity so the pace felt great on race day. I now have the confidence that I can push a bit harder next time and likely be able to hold my pace to the finish. I’d have to mention the Pink Next percent. They made a big difference with fatigue not building up in my feet. I’ll need to wear them again when I go all out to see how much they actually benefited me. They are without a doubt the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn for long distance but probably too unresponsive for 5K or 10K. For years I have been an Adizero Adios fan but this year I started wearing some New Balance and now the Nikes. I think its good to vary the shoes you wear and pick the best pair for the specific distances. The great thing about a home city Marathon is that you can’t beat sleeping in your own bed, cooking your own food and following a familiar routine in the days leading up to a marathon.
I’m going to take a week off, do some shorter races and probably won’t run a Marathon in 2020. Doing 3 in the past 5 months has been intense. I want to improve my times between 10K and a half marathon before having another go at the marathon. There’s also the cross country to look forward to in January. You always learn something running a marathon. This year I learned in training that to push your body to its peak you must confine your mind and diffuse its protective impulses. While its alerts are sent with noble intent, they’re misguided and exaggerated. Prone to hysteria. Contrary to its fearful protests, you are in fact alright. Safe, if a bit insane. Even as your senses scream otherwise, you are able. It’s only when you fight against it, instead of just experiencing it, that pain turns into suffering. For me Kipchoge’s comments that if you stay focus on the mind and remain positive then the legs will do the work.
I’d run three marathons before 2019, all of them in Dublin, and I have a chequered history with the distance. My first in 2015 was an unmitigated disaster (target: 4ish; result: 4:56). I skipped all my midweek runs figuring the Sunday long run was the real meat of the thing, picked up an Achilles injury and decided to stop running 6 weeks before the event (I’d read that’s how long it takes for an injury to heal) and “keep my cardio fitness” by just doing spinning in the gym. The upshot was a pain in my quads like I’d never experienced and an awful walk/shuffle along the Merrion road. Only public shame made me run through the crowd for the last 200 yards. The second in 2017 (target: 4 hours; result: 3:58) was perfection. I got a copy of Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathoning, feeling like a bit of a fraud to be using a book with that title for anything less than 2:30, and made a nice grid on a sheet of A4 for all the runs I had to do. I x-ed them out as I went along and was vastly over-prepared for the actual race. The marathon was plain sailing except for some small pains and the expected horror of the Merrion road. The third in 2018 (target: 3:30. No, 3:40. No, 3:45; result: 3:58) was bad again. Injuries were back (Achilles again, I never learn) and I had to take 6 weeks off in the summer leaving about the same for training. I thought I’d cruise by on Sportsworld training but in the actual race I never fully committed and let my target drift away. I only really pushed in the last 5k and in the end got a measly 13-second PB. At least I improved and thankfully I avoided getting bumped down a wave.
On to this year and I just want to be done with the marathon. I’ve had enough weekends lost to long runs and I’m really not built for distance. So I decided to retire with what I consider a very respectable time: 3-and-a-half hours. Whenever I mentioned this time to anyone I got pregnant pauses, raised eyebrows and concerned voices, and to be fair my training this year was far from ideal. I didn’t fully commit until a month before and I only ended up doing one 20-miler in training, but my total running volume was more than I’ve ever run (from July around 50 to 70km a week, peaking at 80km). The thing that made me more confident was that on my single long run (33km) I was able to speed up to close to marathon pace at the end. I used Pfitzinger as a guide again but adapted a lot of the runs to our club runs, adding volume by running to and from the session. I started doing the Sunday club runs too which were a huge help in getting out early and getting it done. Being able to keep up with Liam and co. doing a 4:40/km pace for 17km was a big boost in confidence, as was being able to tag along behind Michael and co. over the Waterworks hills.
I gladly took a spare number for the half, and my time there (1:36) along with my 5k time this year (about 20:30), plugged in to my favorite marathon time predictor (FiveThirtyEight’s “How Fast Would You Run A Marathon?”) told me that 3:30 was possible, but only just. I knew that things would have to align very well and that I’d have to pace it very evenly to get my time. The plan was to go out with the 3:30 pacers, stick to them like glue and redirect all the blood that my brain usually uses for worrying down into my legs.
We were incredibly lucky again this year with the weather. After a miserable downpour for the start of the expo on Friday, Sunday was picture-perfect marathoning weather: 5 to 8 Celsius, a gentle breeze and very sunny. I’m experienced with marathon day enough now that I could get a good night’s sleep (plus one hour thanks to DST), stick to my schedule in the morning (written military-style the day before), get my porridge and banana in, get a warm-up 1k done, and arrive at the bag drop with time to spare. My pacing strategy for a few years has been to start one or two minutes behind the pacers and try to reel them in overtime, but this year I wanted to start as closely as I could to them and just hang on. So I went to the pen early and got up the front. Too early as it turned out (with the cold) and instead of hanging around I went into the Spar across the way and had a hot cup of tea (this would prove to be a mistake). After that, I edged my way back into where I’d been (thanks for saving my spot!) and then left it again for yet another toilet break. Back in position, we walked up to the start line and got running bang on time.
The first few km have always been a mess for me, dodging walkers (why?!?) and generally wrecking my head but the 3:30 group was at the very front of the wave and everyone was running very evenly behind the pacers so it was surprisingly drama-free until Stoneybatter. My hot tea started to haunt me around Christchurch and I was looking longingly at the laneways of the Liberties but I also knew that if I jumped into one of the portaloos in Stoneybatter that the squeeze in the North Circular would make it really tough to get back with the pacers so I decided to hold on. The second misfortune happened at Aughrim street when one of the pacers’ balloons got free and drifted up into the clear blue sky. I knew I was 100% depending on them so I got a bit worried seeing it sail away (sail away, sail away). Luckily the other two held on tight for the remainder of the race.
Once we were into the park I started scouting trees and seeing other men doing the same, broke marathon rules for the second time that day (I won’t mention the first). I lost about 30 seconds to nature and had to hurry up along Chesterfield to catch back up to my pacers again. I’d borrowed a friend’s Garmin for the day and was really glad I did as my Apple Watch had overestimated my time and pace in the half by a fairly big margin. The Garmin gave me pretty much bang-on splits and I was able to push out 4:55 and 4:50 kilometers to get the balloons back in my sights. (A 3:30 marathon is a hair under 5:00/km pace).
Out through Castleknock after 10k has always been one of the most amazing sections. There’s incredible support through the village and everyone is feeling fresh there so I love running through it. I was mostly running with my game face on and my brain switched off through this section but the cheering put a big smile on me. Down the big hill on Tower road and back into the park, everything was smooth. There was a slow squeeze getting out the gates at Islandbridge (the one disadvantage of running in a big pack) and after nearly choking on the cups of water at the half I decided to walk through the Lucozade Sports station to sip my cup at leisure. Through Chapelizod and Islandbridge (Gaolhouse soundtrack: Tinie Tempah and Zara Larsson’s “Girls Like”).
I don’t like the Islandbridge section much but I absolutely love Dolphin’s Barn. The support there is phenomenal and they always play great music. In 2017 I was actually brought to tears coming around that corner by some stupid house song (it was an emotional marathon that year). I used to live around there so I know all the roads from the SCR to Crumlin really well and despite that section up to the canal being gray and hollowed out I still love it. Past the stripped carcass of the Crumlin Shopping Centre is the half-way point (forget cups, they were just giving out these enormous 500ml Lucozade Sport bottles, which I missed) and it’s the start of my second-toughest section, Crumlin-Walkinstown (first-toughest: Merrion). Up the Crumlin road, there’s always a headwind to combine with the bleak hill and this year was no different. The only thing that saved me here was turning at the dreaded Walkinstown roundabout and hearing the first chords of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” blasting out. I swear that propelled me along the Cromwellsfort road like never before. Turning at the KCR last year they played “Eye of the Tiger” but this year no such luck. At this section of the course, regular as clockwork, the quite good idea of just stopping running pops into my head so I always have to grit my teeth a bit around Fortfield road.
On around Terenure is a beauty and I was looking out for Sporstworlders volunteering. I commit the crime of wearing my own top for long races and I paid the penalty here. Even though I saw clubmates, I myself was not seen. Here I was gesturing clownishly at myself: “It’s…me!” but it was as if I was invisible. Importantly, though, my neighbor and personal refreshment-passer, who I’d given strict instructions about what time I’d be through and the color of the balloons, did see me, and I got my massive half-liter bottle or Lucozade Sport (orange flavor, thank you!). Because it was a cold day and I wasn’t sweating my usual buckets (but still drinking like I was), I had a second unplanned stop the official micturition stations (heaven’s forbid I’d go anywhere else, this is Rathgar!) and lost another half a minute. I’d been getting closer to the pacers but they were lost to me again.
I’ve run Milltown and Roebuck a million times for marathon training, so neither hold the fear that others have of “Heartbreak Hill”. I even managed to speed up and 30-40k was my fastest split in the end. This is despite the DJ at the Dropping Well playing a reggae dirge in an effort to break me. I slowed at the steep hills like a sensible man and kept in mind the heart rate zone advice I’d read the day before (start at 140-150BPM, up to 20 miles at 150-160, push over 160 only when you can smell the barn). At the top of Roebuck, I still felt good (this was a first) but knew that I’d have to reel in the pacers who were a good 200m ahead still. I blasted down Foster’s avenue (4:45/km) and Nutley avenue (4:35/km!) and finally caught up with them just after Vincent’s.
I have an amazing memory from the 2017 half of finally catching the pacers there and getting this very meaty, animal, physical sensation of running in a fast pack for the last mile, but this year the effort to catch them broke me completely and as soon as I had them within my grasp I let them slip. I’d expended everything and finally started to bonk at 41km. The last mile was a massive effort to keep going and I really felt like I was running on fumes. At the 26 mile marker with 200 yards to go, I started to think I’d actually drop and it was pure will that got me across the line. I didn’t see the crowd or hear the cheers and me hadn’t even the energy to raise my arms or smile across the line but I made it in under my target at 2:29:21. I was actually eyeing up the wheelchairs at the end but instead, I had to drop to the ground to recover myself for a few minutes.
In the end, it was a very lucky marathon and everything aligned just right for me. The weather was perfect, the pacers were even, my nutrition worked out (pasta dinner at 5, porridge breakfast at 6, a gel at 10, 20 and 30km) and the small pains didn’t develop into big pains or cramps. I ran a nice negative split of about a minute and thanks to the pacers my 10km splits were all within 10s/km of the target. With that I’ll say goodybe to the marathon and if I even mention trying it again next year you’re free to kick me.
- 538’s Predictor: https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/marathon-calculator/
- Advanced Marathoning (2019 edition): https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/149256866X/
- “It’s…me!”: https://www.gq.com/story/how-to-get-beach-body-in-three-months
- Sounds of Walkinstown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIb6AZdTr-A
10 years ago, I completed my first Dublin Marathon on its 30th anniversary. Targeting 4 hours, I came home at 4:07. 9 years ago, I completed the unfinished business with 3:59. 2016 I targeted sub 3:59 – now a few years older, but was rewarded with 4:17.
Roll on the 40th Anniversary. And I lined up once again, with the sun shining and my eyes twinkling. And indeed, why not a twinkle? – now a fully paid up Sportsworlder – in snazzy Red and White; coached by the best in the business, the wonderful Myles and Emily. Emily was not satisfied until she won the Dublin Marathon – my goals were more modest. A Personal Best of 3:59 at the minimum. I set my watch for 5:30 per k pace (8:51/mile), roughly 3:54 marathon. My 1:45 half marathon led me to believe that sub 3:50 should theoretically be achievable (though I had been burnt buy that ‘logic’ my first three times!).
Wave 2 called forward. I was located 80 meters behind the Pink balloons of the 3:50 pacers. I had been looking for Sportsworld singlets but could not see any. I assumed they were all in Wave 1 (oh, I can dream…wave 1). Maybe they were like me though – slow to take off the top, because of the cold (you wimp Tim). Then ‘ping’ the magic Godfairy arrived and materialized a Sportsworld singlet, complete with the person beside me. I smiled – this time my teeth twinkling – and introduced myself to Gerard. Gerard is even newer to Sportsworld than me – week 2 I believe.
Gerard and I set off together before I drift behind slightly. I can still see the pink balloons, but do not want to commit to staying with them at this stage. I settle for trying to keep Gerard in my sights. Although Gerard is coming back from injury, and it is 5 years since his last marathon, Gerard has 20 marathons on his belt and I felt he would not do anything too erratic (I hope you are not mortified Gerard at my divulging of this information. Michael, does Sportsworld insurance cover for GDPR breaches.)
5k down. Entering Phoenix. 27:54 5k versus 27:30 target pace. Happy with that… a bit slow at the start with the crowd. No harm to warm up. Heart rate grand (unlike 2016!). I can see the pink ????. Maybe I can keep it that way. 27 min 5ks would be 3:50 marathon pace. I was losing sight of Gerard and feeling comfortable, so stepped up the pace a little. My second 5k is 26:45. Heart rate jumped though… not unreasonable I allowed, with the steady climb.
Castleknock next and the end of the climb. I figured I would not race down the hills. Happy with the progress. Exiting Phoenix Park for the second time and 5k number 3 was 26:22. A little faster thanks to the hills and the Fantastic Castleknock support… it almost brought a tear to my eye. I was now up with Gerard again and indeed, practically up with the Pink 3:50 balloons. Feeling comfortable, I said hi to Gerard and resolved to see if I could stay with the balloons. Roll on Chapelizod…
Of course, Chapelizod has the pleasure of the support (Awesome) and the pain of the hill. 27:16 5k brought me to the 20k mark and the South Circular. The balloons had pulled c.80m ahead. I am breathing heavier than I would have expected and become conscious about how those in my vicinity might be feeling about this.
Halfway mark. 1:54:24. This is slightly under 3:50 pace. The Pink balloons ahead of me slightly ahead of 3:50 schedule. The Crumlin Road drag and a 5:40k sees the balloons pulling away. ‘Ping’ – this time Fairy Godmother sends my brother. He runs aside me for a bit, on the pavement. I throw in a 5:08 – my fastest k of the day and draw the Pink in closer again. My 5th 5k comes in at 26’52.
I have passed through the Walkinstown throngs, missing my parents, and am now in the downhill land of Cromwellsfort Road – leading into the land of joy that is Sportsworldland. I decide not to push, as struggling a bit aerobically, but legs ok. I avail of the wonderful generosity of the supporters and have a veritable picnic – orange segments and jaffa cakes and haribos (they actually opened the packet ????) and crunchies. Added to my regular gel every 6k. Also continued to take in some power hi 5s.
Fortfield Road, Bushy Park, Terenure… Sportsworld everywhere ???? – Eileen recognizes me and gives me a boost, I hear my name many times but do not see who from… I am less ‘aware’ than I was 5k earlier. My daughter and neighbors. I have stayed with balloons. 26:57. Before the race, I thought I might gain some time in this section, with the support and downhill – happy to fuel up on food and love whilst staying steady and getting prepared for battle. Could I really get sub 3:50?? 30k down. 12 to go.
Milltown hill and Clonskeagh climb. I am not loving it. My legs are crying. Expecting to see my brother and parents at different stages here. Miss them. I am now in my own little world. I see the balloons pulling ahead. I resolve to keep them in sight. Maybe I can catch them on the downhill that will follow. 5k number 7 is my slowest since the first one – 27:41.
7k to go and I am soon to turn onto Fosters Avenue. Slowish up Roebuck then I chase the balloons down. About 120m ahead. The pink blur is traveling at 5:20 per k. I am getting closer – ever so slowly. 13 seconds made up in the 5k to 40k, with a 26:47.
It is killing me. I started behind the balloons I say, so I can still get sub 3:50 without overtaking them. The pacers usually come in early too I say to myself – am I encouraging myself or making excuses for myself? I start calculating that I could practically walk the last 2k and still squeeze in a PB “But Tim, you are passing people, you can do this, 11 minutes and it is all over”….. ‘ping’ and my brother appears again. We are on the home stretch. I see him running. I hear a number of people call my name, I want to acknowledge, to look, but can’t. I am getting faster. Last-mile. The pink is getting nearer. My breathing heavier. My heart pumping, My thighs thumping. 5 minutes Tim. You are gaining. You can do this.
I caught the balloons with 400m to go. I did the last 1.4k at sub 5min/k pace – my fastest of the race. I finished at 3:48:24 and am delighted – 1:54:24 and 1:54:00. The weather was perfect; the supporters wonderful; the stewards and volunteers awesome. My coaches must be pretty good too, given the raw material they were dealing with. I was looking out for Gerard after the race – the only Sportsworld runner I saw (!) but that was difficult and I did not see him. He was a great help to me.
Looking forward to another year with Sportsworld, though I might just give the marathon a miss this year… maybe the 50th anniversary??
I made the decision to take on DCM 19 on marathon day last year as I sat at home watching with a FOMO on youtube. Having done two before (Dublin in 2015 and Cork in 2018) I felt that there was more in the tank to try again. Soon after signing up I joined Sportsworld and immediately knew it was the right decision from the first session I did!
I focused on building each quarter for the marathon with some interim goals in between.The tues/thurs session helped a lot and I smashed my long-held sub twenty 5km ambition with an 18.53 in April in RAS UCD and then got a new PB in the Cork Half Marathon of 1.33 in June. From then on my eyes were set on Dublin and the training ramped up to heights I had never seen before in my past two marathons as the Myles training schedule put us all through the paces. I got through four 20 milers but never quite felt comfortable at the end of each.
For race day, my aim was a sub 3.30 or as good as I could go with a plan of going out slow and easing into it! I met up with Cian before the race and we started together..my slow pace wasn’t going to work for him and he left me for dust in the first km on his way to a great time but I knew if I followed I wouldn’t last the distance!! My race plan worked for the most part with a 49.50 split for 10km. I eased into the next 10km and got my groove going through Castleknock and the downhills at the back into the Park. I was motoring well when I saw my Dad at mile 12 in Kilmainham and picked up a banana to refuel. From Dolphins barn to Walkinstown roundabout was the first struggle and I felt a long drag but knew once I got to Cromwellsfort rd I was back on home turf and on the road to Terneure and the Sportsworld cheers!
As I got to the top of bushy park the “Cmon Sportsworld” grew louder and more frequent which gave me a confidence boost and the pace began to pick up.. Terenure Village was something special and I went into mile 18 feeling strong. I knew my boss was going to be somewhere around mile 20 so I had to keep strong till then at least or he’d shame me in front of the office on Tuesday!
I managed to get past there and was going fairly strong. From mile 21 it got a lot tougher. My pace blew up and a mixture of cramp and losing my head meant I walked a good bit of mile 21/22, eroding any gains I made. I kept my head up and decided I wanted that PB even if the target wasn’t on. I dug in, rallied hard and I ran the vast majority of the last 6km meaning I finished with that new PB of 3.34 knocking 7 mins off my last time!
All in all, I am really happy with the time! I think I learned more valuable experience on the marathon journey and I felt I pushed a lot harder than ever before in my training! I will definitely be back for another attempt but think Ill take next year to focus on the fundamentals of 5k, 10k and halves.
Cheers to all the Sportsworld crew who cheered on the day and especially to Myles and Emily for the coaching throughout the year!! Joining Sportsworld has really been one of my best running decisions and training for the marathon throughout the year with my clubmates has made it my best marathon experience to date! Roll on more goals, sessions, and races with the club!
Thanks to all those who volunteered, saved lives, flirted with local Garda, posed for group selfies and cheered on the runners. You legends!