January 2, 2013
by Conor O'Neill
I thought I’d have a quick peek at my running stats this morning. Last year was pretty good and I’ve managed to start 2013 a whole 6 lbs lighter than I started 2012. Having said that, lots and lots of weight to be lost this year.
I started “running” back in 2009. It was not an auspicious beginning.
- Timoleague: First 10km
- Half Marathons: Dingle, Galway
- First road race in Vibram Five Fingers
- Half Marathons: Bandon, Amsterdam
- 10kms: Bandon
- Half Marathons: Cork, Clonakilty
- First Marathon: Dublin
- Second Marathon: Location TBD
I never did a blogpost on the Dublin Marathon. Must have been the mental scars So here we go:
After the Cork Half in June, I stated, as I always do, that I simply don’t have a marathon in me. But over July I thought more and more about it and finally, after a lot of egging on by my wife, signed-up to do the Dublin City Marathon.
I decided to follow the official training guide for a nice slow 5+ hour run. I was starting a month late but I figured the Cork Half training was an acceptable substitute. Overall training went very well even if the loop around Bandon does get a bit boring after the 3rd time in a day. Hopefully we’ll get a path all the way out to the railway path some time this decade. My schedule peaked at an 18 mile run which was very slow but gave me a huge boost in confidence.
The day of the Marathon was quite chilly and we did the short walk up from the Mespil with windbreakers on. I was totally planking it. Despite lots of attempts at warm-up, I was very cold at the start, particularly my poor Vibram clad feet. And then we were off.
I decided to err on the side of total caution and went very slowly around Stephen’s Green and up O’Connell St. All felt good heading up to NCR and into the Phoenix Park. The Park is the longest and most boring part of the run. My right calf started to feel tight about half way through it. By the time I got to Chapelizod Gate, I was in serious trouble. The calf hurt more and more. The pain behind my knee getting worse with every step.
I finally took a breather heading up to Kilmainham around mile 10 and walked up some hills. Walking was no better. And that was the rest of my Marathon. A mixture of walking, slow jogging and a tiny bit of running, barely able to extend my right leg at all. All my attempts to compensate ended up hurting shin muscles and then my left leg. Pure bloody torture.
But here’s the amazing thing. At no point did I think I wouldn’t finish. Knowing all of the second half of the route inside-out was a huge help. I could just tick off sections in my head. Walkinstown, KCR, Terenure, Milltown, etc. That stubborn part of my brain simply decided that if it was going to take 8 hours, it was going to take 8 hours, even if I had to do it on all fours. I have Scott Jurek’s book to thank for a lot of that mental attitude. If he can run 100 miles with his ankle held together with duct tape, I can do a jog around Dublin.
The worst part was coming on to Merrion Road. The downhill on Nutley wasn’t bad and I jogged most of it but then I tried to walk on Merrion and saw that long long road stretching out in front of me and I wobbled mentally. So I stuck my headphones in for the first time and put on some Kermode & Mayo movie reviews to distract me. Then RunKeeper told me I was doing < 3 miles an hour. And I had more than 3 miles to go. Another hour of torture awaited me. So I bit the bullet and started jogging again. My speed was barely above walking. In fact many walkers passed me.
But on I went. And I got to the bloody end. 6 hours and 32 minutes after I began.
And the first thought as I crossed the finish line, apart from wanting to bawl crying, was “right, the next one is going to be a lot faster”.
Epilogue (In the best tradition of The Streets of San Francisco): Catherine had to help me get to a taxi and back to the hotel. I then peeled off the Vibrams and discovered I didn’t have a single blister. Not a one. Crippled but blister free.
6 weeks later I did the Clonakilty Half. Still some aches and pains from Dublin but otherwise a grand run which proved that I hadn’t damaged anything irreparably.
Now we are planning our next one. We’re signed up for Berlin but that’s a long way away. London looks great but is pricey. Copenhagen looks fantastic in May but may be too hot (and pricey).
The training begins tomorrow.
UPDATE 1: I decided to go for a short 3 mile run this evening. Very sore achilles but bloody hell, managed to do my all-time fastest average speed over any distance. 2013 is off to a great start!