This was my 11th year togging out for Dublin marathon 2023.Dublins annual health kamikaze event. RDS friday registration was cool as I learned a few things from a health nutrition speaker (Evan@southeastNutritionClinic). Who would have thought that the breakfast of endurance champions was…. Cocopops?!
First some thank you messages. To all who helped me when I fell 3 weeks ago my sincere thanks. Also thank you to all who ran with me this year as well as coming out to cheer us on in inclement weather on the big day. Finally, to say thank you to John Blake, Tom Colgan and a mutual friend Aine for their unique advice and support. It is particularly fitting to mention John, as John and former Sportsworlder, Laura Ryan, were the first to welcome me to the club when I joined in late 2019.
So, to the race. My expectations were low. I had missed 4 out of 10 months in 2023 to falls, trips and the resultant injuries that came therefrom. My race plan was simple, start slow, stay calm and hope the knee I fell on 3 weeks ago holds up. The start gun goes and away we go. Even in the early miles there is great crowd support and the atmosphere is electric. As we enter the Phoenix Park Myles is present and encouraging us.
As we turn onto Chesterfield Avenue, we are heading towards mile 5. Who is there to cheer me on, none other than John Blake. We then head towards Castleknock and onto Chapelizod, where there is always great support at both locations. This year is no different. Now heading for mile 10, suddenly I nearly fall as something went under my right leg. Thankfully this time I stay upright, another close call. From here more and more familiar faces emerge to cheer us on as we pass Crumlin, Walkinstown, the KCR, Bushy Park and Terenure. Thanks again to all in such weather.
Now heading for mile 18 I look at my watch. The 4 hours is on. I feel good and am tempted to speed up. Then I remember I am running on a knee that may or may not hold up for another 8 miles. I resolve to stay calm. Time flies when you are having fun and it seems like only a short time later before we are at the top of Fosters avenue and passing mile 22, just over 4 miles to go.
Over the flyover at UCD and the rain becomes very heavy. However, spirits in all of the runners and supporters around me is high. We arrive at mile 24 and there is a collective agreement, we are not stopping now. For a moment the rain eases off, and soon mile 25 arrives. Onwards and soon, we are approaching Mount Street and the sign 800 metres to go shows up. A little extra speed is applied and I cross the finish line.
Chip time is 3:54:29, and the overriding emotion is relief. Somehow the damaged leg held up. A marathon takes training, perseverance and great support from family and friends. So, one last time to say thank you to anyone who helped me in any way in 2023. I would hate to leave anyone out so please take this as my individual thank you to all who helped and supported.
The Dublin Marathon 2023 didn’t meet my expectations, but I still had a blast. I was really looking forward to it, especially after a tough time at the Limerick Marathon earlier this year. After Limerick, I realised I hadn’t logged enough miles over the past year to excel in a marathon. But that setback rekindled my passion, which had dimmed due to injuries in 2022.When you’re running week in and week out throughout the year, it’s as vital to take breaks as the running itself. In May and June, I had fun road trips across Italy, France, and Ireland, and even did a few 5K races. But when July rolled around, it was time to get serious and start training. I set my sights on a high 2.3X finish time in Dublin, a bit off my personal best but a solid starting point for 2024. July was mostly about working on speed, as it was still too early for specific marathon training. I became well-acquainted with the new cycleway down from Tesco. I even participated in a series of races, with one of my favourites being the Streets of Galway 8K in 27.15 (3.22). Late August brought the Kilcock 10-mile race, which was a bit slower than expected at 57.09 (3.33). As August and September rolled on, I realized I had been pushing myself too hard, with the club 1500M, Dingle Half Marathon, and Charleville Half Marathon all bunched together in September. Both of these halves were part of a 20-mile run. At that point, I felt like I was getting into good, if not great, shape. My final race was the Athlone Half, where I finished 3rd with a time of 75.35 (3.35). However, the following week, my training took a nosedive. I couldn’t pinpoint the exact cause, age or sickness, regardless I was struggling to maintain the pace in my workouts and long runs. I got a bit freaked out in mid-October when my training wasn’t going as planned. I lowered my race day expectations to 2.40 – 2.42, every few seconds per kilometre makes that big difference. In hindsight, I was run down mentally and physically.
The weekend before the race, I found myself at the VHI clinic in Carrickmines, going home with two antibiotics and unable to sleep for most of the week with terrible back pain. Despite my ego pushing me to run, I made the tough decision not to participate in Dublin. I picked up my race number on Friday, just in case I miraculously recovered over the weekend and could reach 80% readiness. On Saturday, I still didn’t feel great, but stubbornly ran a test 5K after a week of not running. Perhaps it was the medication’s brain fog, but I reached out to a few people saying I might run after all, and not enough of them discouraged me, so I decided to go for it. Living in Rathmines, I had enough escape routes if I wasn’t feeling it.I’m usually meticulous in my marathon planning, with specific goals, memorized 5K splits, pacing strategy, wind considerations, and gel points. However, this year was different. I just wanted to run without pressure or stress. My only goal was to finish in under 3 hours. To be honest, I had no idea how I’d feel or if I might drop out. No carb loading, no plan—let’s just go. I started at a slow pace and gradually caught up with the 3.10 pacers as we passed Christ Church. The post-cycling infrastructure proved to be troublesome at times. Running with so many people was new for me. Being a faster male club runner has its pros and cons. One positive is avoiding crowds, but the downside is often running portions of marathons like Dublin on your own or with just one other person. I’m not sure which is better, but it was a different experience. The line of runners-up ahead is a thing of beauty when observed from behind. I saw some Sportsworld singlets along the way, but most of them urged me to stop chatting and keep running. On the way back into the park past Castlekock, I spotted the 3-hour balloon and picked up the pace a bit while monitoring my heart rate to stay below 160. It would be nice to say the effort felt easy, but as I passed Kilmainham, I remembered running through there 30 seconds per kilometre faster in 2019, and it felt about the same. This was a bittersweet moment—grateful to be running but sad not to be racing against the clock. I felt like I was moving well and gradually pulled away from the 3-hour balloon as we crossed the canal. The support around Dolphins Barn was fantastic and helped propel me toward the Walkinstown Roundabout. This part of the course was challenging. Unfortunately, my right hamstring started cramping, and despite quick stops to stretch, it continued to nag me for the rest of the race. As a Sportsworld runner, the anticipation of reaching the KCR kept my determination high. Still, the hamstring issue meant I couldn’t fully enjoy the club’s support as in previous years. The crossroads at Terenure, however, remains one of my favourite parts of the course. From Rathgar onwards, my primary goal was to maintain my pace and follow my own marathon advice, remembering that the race is often decided in the final 10K. I didn’t really enjoy the race around Milltown and Clonskeagh feeling a bit out of it. I ground it out.
In 2022, I lined up for my first Dublin Marathon just 5 weeks after completing the same distance in Berlin and knowing that my body had not had enough time to recover. I struggled around the course and got it done but it wasn’t an enjoyable day, and I wasn’t happy with the time. I was so shook by the experience that I didn’t take the guaranteed entry when the email came through a couple of days later.
Fast forward to June 2023 and more entries went on sale after the refund window had closed. By now, I was feeling confident that another go at the marathon distance was within my abilities. I felt positive after a few new PBs over 5K, 10K and Half Marathon and while I knew I would have a couple of weeks with mixed training due to holidays, weddings etc, I felt that I would be able to comfortably aim for sub 3:50 (PB from Berlin was 3:47). And so, it came to be that one Monday morning in June at 6:30am I woke up, checked the website, saw entries were open and handed over my credit card details to secure my place. I immediately put out feelers to see who else was committed to running and soon another WhatsApp group was formed.
Fast forward through a 16-week programme of steadily increasing miles, getting up earlier and earlier each Sunday morning and eventually we arrived at Marathon Week. I had remained steadfast in my thinking that I was going to stick with the sub 3:50 goal and that the most important thing was to enjoy the experience. However, all the calculators indicated low 3:40s or high 3:30s was on and there was a niggling doubt in my mind that I wasn’t pushing myself as hard as I could. After what felt like a ridiculously long week (tapering really does mess with the mind), I finally picked up the race number on Saturday and suddenly it was time. My Dad kindly collected me at 7:30am on Sunday morning and dropped me as close to Merrion Square as he could. I had a quick meet up with some Sanctuary Runner pals, followed by a few photos and words of encouragement and then it was time to drop the bag and head to the starting pen. I squeezed myself up to start just behind the 3:40 pacers and the goal was to keep them close for as long as possible. And so I did up until around 22miles. I went through halfway in approx. 1:50 which was bang on pace for 3:40. The first half passed by in an undramatic fashion. It was nice to see a few people along the way, including Myles at the Phoenix Park. Like all marathons and distance events, there were moments after halfway when I wondered if I could keep the pace going and then after a gel or water, I’d feel another burst of energy and push on. Going through Terenure last year was torture. I was so tired and drained that it was a struggle to lift my hand to wave at friends and clubmates calling my name. This year was completely different, and I embraced the crowds and atmosphere. The area was buzzing and the same can be said for many other sections of the route. The crowds felt bigger and louder than last year even when the rain was starting to come down. When we turned at Rathgar, I felt in decent shape and started to tick off the milestones – 30K, 20 miles, 35K and so on. Before I knew it, I was taking my last bottle of water at the Merrion Centre and making the final turn at the 24-mile mark. Two miles to victory – if victory was finishing 521st female! This section is by far the longest drag known to man. Even when I ran it myself in training, I found it a never-ending stretch of road. As I approached the RDS, the heavens opened, and the rain was torrential. If anything, this helped with the pace. I just put the foot down and focused on the finish line. By now, the 3:40 balloon was a bit in front, but I knew they were well ahead of pace and that I was still on track. I passed Mount Street Bridge and saw my family in amongst the crowds. At this stage, the noise was deafening. Suddenly the sign for 400m to go was in front of me and a quick glance of the watch said 3:37:XX and I knew then that I would break the 3:40 barrier. As I crossed over the purple carpet, I heard my name being shouted, I turned to acknowledge the support and put my hand in the air and finally, I was across the line. All of a sudden, the legs nearly went from under me but at that stage it didn’t matter. The chip time read 3:39:00. Slowly but surely, I collected my medal and top and staggered towards bag drop. It was great to meet Sighle on the way who was equally delighted with her impressive run. Eventually, I found my family and we went for a celebratory lunch while we continued to follow other friends and acquaintances on the app. It was great to meet more friends from the club later on in Birchalls and share stories of the day. For the most part, everyone seemed happy with their performances which was great to see. Regardless of time goals, I feel that finishing a marathon is a feat in itself and nothing should take away from that.
Overall, this was a really enjoyable training block and I have to give thanks to our WhatsApp group team captain, Lucy, for all her words of wisdom over the weeks. It was great to be able to link in with people and arrange to meet for midweek and weekend long runs. Those 20-mile Sunday long runs are made all the easier with wonderful company. Special shout out to Audrai and Eileen who were on gel duty during the day. I realised as I approached the point that I expected to find Eileen that I had given her timings based on 3:50 pace but I was 10 minutes ahead, somehow she still managed to pop out from somewhere with a gel which was much appreciated. Thanks to everyone else for their support both before and during the race (they know who they are) – it’s such a wonderful and supportive club that we all belong to.
See you in 2024 for the next edition of the Dublin Marathon!
I didn’t think I would be saying this but I really enjoyed the event, from bumping into excited Sportsworlders on the morning to finding a tattooed Fiona beside me at the start line, to actually enjoying the run with the exception of the last 2-3k !! and particularly enjoying a few drinks in Birchalls that night. On the morning I had 2 settings on my watch – average pace and current pace. All I wanted was to make sure I didn’t go out too fast too early and suffer the last 10k like I did 6 years ago. I kind of stuck to the plan although I was going a bit faster but I was feeling good. It was great to get the support over the course, particularly in the Terenure area, this was a great lift. My big mind game was at Clonskeagh and Roebuck where I died last time and swore if I was to do a marathon again I would need to work on my strength. By chance, because of injury, I had done a lot of gym classes early in the year and I felt the better of it. Coming down Milltown I was keen to see what difference it had made and I was pleasantly surprised. My family were at UCD and they were equally surprised to not see me looking like death at that stage! The last 2-3k in were very tough but it was only 2-3k, not 10k like the last time.
A special thanks to Lucy for all her support, the Sunday crew for keeping me going, Eileen for mothering me over the course and trying to force feed me gels and all the support on the day, from Myles at the Phoenix Park right through to Eileen at RTE. The best quote I heard after was “I went out too fast” and that was Lucy. Can’t believe she doesn’t listen to her own advice.
After 15 months in sportsworld and 18 weeks of marathon training, I find myself rocking up to the start line of my first marathon – Dublin City Marathon 2023. How did this happen?
I signed up after reading all the inspiring race reports from last year. It just sounded like something I wanted to experience and thought why not do it before I turn 50 next year. The physical side of the training went okay, a few bouts of tendinitis on my hamstring but kept the tempo work to a minimum and took a few days off when I felt a twinge. The hardest part was the mental focus, always thinking about the training, fueling, trainers, routes, hills, stretches, toe nails, Vaseline, plasters, long runs, short runs … the list goes on!! But the support on the WhatsApp group and from fellow SW members was amazing especially leading up to the day. As a first timer, I was confused as to where to start, how to start and most importantly how to keep going to the end. But I got some great advice (special thank you to Eileen and Ellen) …. Forget about pacers, run my own race and most of all enjoy it! Also, look a the times from last year to work out your plan.
I knew the biggest first timer’s mistake was going out too fast so I was determined not to fall into that trap. I had my times and motivational words scribbled on my arm so was well prepared. I arrived solo, left my bag, toilet trip x 4, and headed for the wave 2 start line. I was delighted to meet Noel whilst I was waiting around to chat and pass the time and with a few fist bump and we were both off!
Everything in the early stages were going to plan. After getting over the excitement of the first 5km I settled in nicely and reached my 5k and 10k markers exactly at my planned times. Some wonderful support at the early stages and even had a chat with Nathan as he passed me out up chesterfield avenue. He was on fire! I knew Castleknock was a bit of a slog from training, but the support was so good I hardly felt it and before I knew it, I was back in phoenix park for the nice down hill part. This is where things went hairy. I looked at my garmin and the time read 14mins only. Something must have flicked off my timer. For that second I PANICKED!!! SHITE!!!! … how was I going to run another 29km without the time. There was a woman beside me and she just said not to worry and then i remembered what Grainne said to me about having a plan B. THEN a feeling of CALMNESS came over me. I still had the pace working on my watch so I knew what pace i needed to do. I realised that I would enjoy the race more not having to think about time. Once i got over that blip i headed to St. Lawrence’s hill in Ballyfermot where I knew a good friend of mine would be there. She ran a km with me checking in if I needed anything and she left me again in Inchicore.
The support was amazing on so may parts of the route, so many of you shouting and smiling me on. It helped so much. The hardest part was around Dolphins Barn /Crumlin road/Walkinstown so it was great to see the friendly faces there. I found the second half went quickly. Colm and my dog Flossie were at the KCR. Then the sea of SWers from Fortfield to Rathgar was fantasitc. I felt surprisingly good in Miltown/Clonskeagh/Roebook. I somehow glided up heartbreak hill. Might be something to do with the 7 gels ingested at this point, not to mention all the jellies! At UCD, my feet got very wet and heavy. So the last 3km was hard but pressed on to the finish line. Elated.I had no idea what time I made, I knew it was close to 4ish but not sure which side of it so it wasn’t til I got back to the bag drop when I got my phone I realised I made sub 4 at 3:58. I was over the moon, couldn’t believe it. The day was so many things – amazing, emotional, challenging but the overriding feeling was the sense of achievement that I felt. I admit that the amount of friends and family that came out on the day to support me brought me to a few tears in places.
It was nice to celebrate with the club members that night in Birchalls and share each other’s war stories of the day. Everyone was on a high!
Finally, thanks to all the stewards/ supporters who came out in such bad conditions to cheer us on and all the support from my fellow marathoners, special mention to Lucy’s wonderful energy and wisdom. I would highly recommend it to anyone thinking about it – JUST DO IT!
It took me 3h:54m:13s to get rid of that monkey on my back. Even now, I do not know how it got there. At some stage I had to confront it. This Sunday a year ago all omens were pointing in one – and only one – direction: 2023 was going to be my ‘beat-the-monkey’ year. No escape possible. My lot was sealed when the congratulatory email arrived at the end of November 2022 notifying me that I’d been successful “in the 2nd round of the Lottery for the Irish Life Dublin Marathon 2023”. The race was on!
I used the first half of 2023 to build a foundation from which I could kick start the actual training for the marathon. I also used that time to read up left, right and centre the do’s and don’ts of running a marathon. That led quickly enough to the conclusion that there are too many “ways to Rome” to choose from. I set my own three principles: 3 training days a week, run no more than 50 – 60km per week and be guided by a training plan. For me that training plan became the one provided by Dublin Marathon.
When the actual training started I dutifully recorded my run kilometres on the plan to make sure that I met the weekly targets. I was not bothered by speed; the objective I’d set for myself was “to finish the marathon running”. Having said that, when the weeks progressed, I got to know my average speed. I ended up in forecasting that I should be able to finish the marathon within four hours.
The training never became a chore and I had the luck that I didn’t get any injuries. The Sunday long runs in the and around the Phoenix Park (including the hills within and around it) with club members were a welcome social affair in contrast to the lonely kilometres ran during the week. Allow me to digress here for a moment: It was on one of those Sunday mornings at the early stage of the ‘greater than 26km’ training runs that the time arrangement got all mixed up and I found myself and Gerard Enright as the only two gathered in the Phoenix Park at what we thought was the agreed time. We were not alone though; we were amongst runners from other groups in the similar situation. Ger, no better man, started to chat to David who found himself in a party of one (as the rest of his party showed up on the agreed time the day before). David was invited to run with us; and so he did. We quickly found out David’s passion is mountain running. He is a fervent IMRA racer and if he is not racing he is a … first aider for the race. It was David who came to my aid when I ‘sprained my ankle’ in the “Djouce -The Ayling Abyssrace” race back in July 2021. It’s a small small world.
When race day approached, I consulted various weather apps to look for the one app that would forecast ‘fair weather’ as that is – what I was made to believe – we would have. However, no such
app existed this year. So on race day I found myself in the pouring rain at the start line. How strange it might sound with 1,000s of people round me, it felt lonely. No club mate to chase the kilometres and share the experience with. I was on my own. For 42 kilometres me, myself and I, went through my personal set of milestones: the 10, 20, 30 and 40km points were rewarded by gels and the 15, 25 and 35 km points were my Jelly Baby moments. As you can imagine I was sugared out well before the end of the race. I also made it a sport – when not consuming my milestone treats – to overtake anyone slower than me. (The thrills associated with starting in Wave 4.) Especially around Heartbreak Hill it became very lucrative. After Fosters Avenue I became blinkered and focused only on one thing and that was “get to that finish line and step on it”. Despite the sugary rewards and the highs of overtaking so many runners, the legs were starting to speak up and making themselves heard for all the wrong reasons. So the “step on it” was only converted in breaking power. I arrived at the finish line after a materially slower last 10 km. It was the finish line though and I reached it running. Mission accomplished. In my stride, I’d finished in the time interval I’d hoped for. What is there not to be happy about? To be honest, nothing. I enjoyed each and every aspect of the marathon. And what is good about finishing the marathon, is having a guaranteed entry for next year, which I’ve taken.
2:43 (36th M40, 135th OA)
26th M40 National Marathon Championship
On Fortfield Road at around 10:25am, my daughter on one side, my wife on the other, ran
alongside me to hand me a gel and a drink. This was around mile 17 of the route I know like the back of my hand and was probably the race highlight which had its equal share of
From Fortfield down Templeogue Road through Bushy and into Terenure Village was brilliant
and a section I’d been looking forward to from the start. The supportive atmosphere of the
“home crowd” and the sophisticated Sportsworld support (who know their running!) was such a welcome boost after the drearier drag of Crumlin Road and the subdued Cromwellsfort -Cromwell’s name alone enough to damage spirits.
Sadly, at racepace it’s not always possible to soak up the atmosphere and truly enjoy it, at least for me anyway! The horror of Clonskeagh-UCD and the grim N11 were only 4-5 miles ahead.
Lowlights included: being slightly rushed to the startline, running groupless mostly, fuelling
not great right from the off – I felt GI distress (tummy trouble!) for most of the race.
Honestly there were moments when thoughts of dropping out drifted in, and then thankfully, out of my mind. The “Terenure Tunnel” helped drive me on, dig deeper and persevere to the end.
DCM is largely a decent course and it’s so nice to run through Phoenix Park and leafy
Castleknock in Autumnal colours. The uphills and downhills do affect your rhythm and so it’s unlikely to be a PB race for anyone but the elites.
2:43 at 43 ain’t bad I suppose. A full 10 minutes slower than my last marathon 4 years ago in London and 12 slower than my PB. But that’s the nature of this brutal beast. I thought
2:38-39 was realistically achievable based on recent sessions but that was always going to
be contingent on near perfect fuelling.
Thank you so much for all those cheers of support. And well done to all club members who
Dublin Marathon was on my mind for most of 2023, but I only really admitted to myself I was going to give it a go in late summer. I’d pushed it out of my head until I could ignore it no longer. I decided I better do some training. I started joining the club on Sundays for long runs in August and built up to 21km. Then I had a few hiccups and disruptions and after the Cologne Half at the start of October didn’t really do any long runs. I bought a few gels but didn’t try one until the day before. I still used 5 of them over the marathon and was fine..they are great, must try them in a half next time I do one.